The Game Of Life

I love games.  Games that require thought, shuffling, rolling dice, spinning a spinner, turning over a sand timer, or leaning over to move a game piece.  It’s a dying pleasure. Board games and cards have been replaced by Apps. The personal interaction has transformed to a virtual world of screen names and avatars.  Apps are great and playing with family and friends all over the world is awesome, but it’s not the same as gathering together with snacks, music, conversation, and laughter.

Uno Card GameI spent a lot of nights at my grandma’s house with my cousins.  Apart from arguing about who would get the primo sleeping spot under the dining room table (I never won that argument), we played Uno. The best games were the ones that lasted hours.

Another favorite was Monopoly (until my husband sucked all the fun out of it.  He has great potential as a loan shark.) I lived two doors down from my cousin and we’d play Monopoly during the summer.  One game lasted a week.  We had the patience and dedication to keep coming back to it, day after day, until we finished.  I can’t imagine my kids doing that now.

My cousin’s family loved games. We’d sit around the table, eating chips, while the adults played “Twenty Questions.”  They always laughed so much. I realize now that a lot of that laughter was at the suggestive nature of some of the questions.  A dirty mind is a terrible thing to waste.

The Game Of LifeThat same cousin and I played a lot of games together, too.  We loved to play Scattergories, Trivial Pursuit, and Life.  The game of Life is especially precious to me.  Near the end of her life, my great-grandmother came to live with my paternal grandmother.  My cousin and I would go stay with Mamaw when Grandma wasn’t home and I always brought Life.  My cousin and I would play in the floor for hours while Mamaw sat in her chair and watched.  We didn’t talk to her much and we felt guilty.  We were there for her, but we just sat and played games.   We were only 12 and didn’t yet understand the concept of loneliness or the joy of children.

When I watch my children play, it takes me back to my childhood.  I remember what it felt like to have no other care in the world than who was going to win a game of Uno.  I remember how effortless it was to play Twister.  When I watch my children play, I marvel at their intelligence, their joy, their existence.  I delight in them. My Mamaw, sitting in her chair watching her two great-granddaughters play Life, laughing, and chattering probably felt the same way.  I imagine her thinking about her children, her grandchildren, and her great-grandchildren.  About her Life.  We needn’t have felt guilty.

While we were playing Life, she was enjoying the fruits of hers.

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This is a revised version of an earlier post.  I’m linking up with the Yeah Write Summer Series.

read to be read at yeahwrite.me

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These Moments

“Mommy, can I hold you?” She holds her arms up in the air, opening and closing her tiny hands and batting those gorgeous blue eyes at me.  The answer is always yes.  I scoop her up and she lays her curly blonde head on my shoulder.  “I love you, mommy.”   My insides turn to jelly.

She’s my girl. My Anna.  Twenty-six pounds of sweetness and spunk.

The Spunk

The youngest of five, Anna is naturally spoiled.  From the moment she was born, people have fawned over her–me, her daddy, her sister, her brothers, her grandparents, church members, strangers in the street.  Really, it’s beyond ridiculous.  We’re creating a monster but I can’t bring myself to stop telling her how beautiful and smart she is.  I can’t help holding her every time she asks.  I can’t help marveling over every little thing she does. I can’t help it because I know she’s the last baby I’ll ever have.  I can’t help it because I know in the blur of raising her older brothers and sister, I missed valuable moments.  The guilt of that is overwhelming, though I know it’s not a unique experience to me.  All mothers, especially young mothers, get lost in the lack of sleep, the frustration, the uncertainty of parenting.  By the time we learn to relax and just go with it, our babies aren’t babies anymore.  We’ve missed the joy.  Anna is my chance to recapture it.

When I held her as a newborn and smelled that sweet baby head, when she smiled at me for the first time, when she said her first word, took her first steps, tasted her first lemon, gave herself her first haircut, I remembered my other children doing the same things.  When she says, “Look at me!” and does a dance or makes a funny face, I remember all the performances I’ve watched over the last thirteen years.  She’s my trip down memory lane.  I thought those memories were gone, but with every new thing Anna does, they rise to the surface, whispering, “Remember when…?”

With my last child, as with my first, I’m learning how to be a parent. This time, it’s not about when and what to feed them, how often to change diapers, when to call the doctor, or when to put them to bed.  It’s about spending time with them, listening to their stories, and  marveling at their accomplishments.  It’s about watching them grow into the people they’re going to be and seeing all the little things that brought them there.

It’s about living in the moment.

Baby Blues

The Diaper Hat Moment

I’m linking up with the Yeah Write Summer Series. Click on the badge below to meet some amazing bloggers and learn a thing or two about writing. It’s a fantastic community.

read to be read at yeahwrite.me

Going Beyond National Novel Writing Month

I’ve got two shiny new badges in my sidebar. One is the JuNoWriMo Winner’s badge and the other is the CampNaNoWriMo Winner’s Badge. That’s right. I did it. I wrote 50,000 words of a novel in 30 days. Actually, I wrote 53,137 of a novel in 29 days, but who’s counting? Answer: Me, because that’s kind of the point. It’s about the numbers.

I’ve got the numbers. I had the numbers in November for the official National Novel Writing Month. What I don’t have is a completed novel. I have 50,000 words (give or take a few) of two novels and neither one of them is even close to finished. That, my friends, is not the point of National Novel Writing Month. I’m supposed to complete a novel. Problem is, I don’t know if I can.

If I’ve learned anything from the NaNoWriMo experience, it’s that vomiting words on a page is not how a novel gets written. Not for me, at least. It takes me a good 30,000 words to even find the heart of the story and those first 30,000 words? Are mostly garbage and completely unsalvageable. It’s probably my fault. I don’t outline before I start the word purge and nothing good comes from writing on the fly, hoping something that someone might actually want to read spews forth at 3 AM when the only thing keeping me awake is copious amounts of tobacco and coffee. Substitute alcohol for the coffee, and maybe. Isn’t that how Hemingway did it?

Hemingway drinking and writing

I love him.

I’m kidding, of course. Not about Hemingway. That’s true. But I’m no Hemingway, neither in writing ability nor in alcohol tolerance. And I’m never going to Spain to watch bull fighting.

Point is, I need to find a new way–a better way–my way– to write a novel. It will involve planning and dedication and hard work and patience and a basic grasp of punctuation and grammar usage–none of which are my strong points. Seriously, the odds aren’t good. Thing is, I’m not a math person. I’m a words person. And I have those in droves.

Now, to take these two pieces of a novel and decide which has more “viability”( By “viability,” I mean “which sucks less”) and devote myself to it. Get it in my head that a novel is not written in a month. It will take time and sweat and a schedule and learning how to use commas.

I can do it. I will do it. Otherwise, I’m a wannabe novelist. That’s unacceptable. I’m aiming for the big prize: The Unpublished Novelist. Because that is a title I can be proud of.

Coincidentally, I learned something new this week. Did you know that it is incorrect to use two spaces after a period? No, I’m not kidding. It’s a rule. The Chicago Manual of Style says so. That blows my mind. Anyway, in my endeavor to follow grammar and punctuation rules, this post was written using only a single-space after each period.

That is progress.


Related Posts:

NaNoWriMo Dropout
NaNoWriMo Week One: Six Lessons 
NaNoWriMo: The Last Three Days 

Chin Hair and Other Fantastic Things

So I found another hair growing out my chin this week. It’s amazing, really, how those things just sprout over night. One day, you’re feeling pretty good that your diet is paying off and you only have one chin, instead of three, and the next–BAM! A long, black hair is poking out of your new-found chin. I guess it’s nature’s way of keeping you humble.

woman shaving

Despite the weight loss and not working, my back is worse than ever.  I wake up most mornings not able to walk or stand up straight without gasping and/or crying.  That means I haven’t been able to start exercising.  I want to exercise.  It will help my back and speed up this dieting drudge.  It’s the ol’ Catch-22.  I need to exercise to make my back feel better but I need my back to feel better so I can exercise.  Grrrr.

Oh and the 6yo had a stomach virus yesterday which I now have.  I’m sitting here, typing, in an effort to concentrate on anything other than the fact that I could vomit at any minute.  When I vomit, I cry, and I’m an ugly crier.  So, I’d rather not be an ugly, puking crier.  I’ll just keep my slightly green tinge, thank you very much.  *deep breaths*

Dawson Ugly Crier

“I don’t want your life!” Oh wait. That’s not right. Oh yeah. Joey left you for Pacey. Poor Dawson. No girl AND an ugly crier.

There is something that happened this week than I’m really excited about.  I discovered a wonderful blog gathering called, “Yeah Write.”  Basically, it’s 50 blogs linking up and competing for awards–peer choice, editor’s choice, and 2 lurker’s choice.  But I don’t really care about the awards.  Don’t get me wrong.  I’d love to win one.  Who doesn’t like to win awards?  Stupid people, that’s who.  And I’m not stupid.  But just reading these blogs and leaving comments and having these sweet people do the same is award enough.  Seriously, these are some awesome people.  I wish I’d found it sooner.  If you’re interested, you can read more about it here.  If you don’t want to compete, there is a hang-out where you can just read and share the blog love.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go throw up.

Related Posts:

I’m Thinking of Growing A Beard…
Wordless Wednesday:  Momfog’s Survival Kit 
Ten Things I Learned On Summer Vacation  
Scheduling Summer 

Camp NaNoWriMo

Some of you may have noticed a new badge in my sidebar.  The Camp NaNoWriMo participant badge.

Camp NaNoWriMo Participant Badge 2012That’s right.  I’m doing it again.  50,000 words of a novel in a month.  I figure if I managed it last November when I was working, I can certainly do it now that I’m not.  It might even be easier.  And better.  Surely it could be better because the last one sucked.

No, seriously.  It wasn’t good.  I read over it now and laugh and laugh.  It’s a great pick-me-up after a rotten day.

So I’m going to try again, using a character from the old one and anything I can salvage from it (that won’t count toward the 50,000 words because that would be cheating and I’m not a cheater.)

Or maybe I’ll write something new.  Who knows?  I’ve got time.  23 hours to figure out what in the world I’m going to write about.  No biggie.

The only reason I’m doing this is because somebody asked me to.  I didn’t even know about Camp NaNoWriMo until she opened her big mouth.  Then I opened mine and said I’d do it.  Now, we’re both committed.  Thanks, JM.  (JM writes the wildly entertaining blog, Accidental Stepmom.  She’s stepmom to 5 fabulous children, one who has a serious addiction to bacon.  Then again, who doesn’t?  You should check out her blog.  You can thank me later for introducing you.)

Just to pass on the “holy crap, what have we done?” vibe, I sort of talked my friend into participating, too.  That’s not accurate.  I let her talk herself into joining in and neglected to tell her what she was in for.  Misery loves company, and all of that.

I’m an excellent friend.

Coincidentally, she also has a blog (*gasp*  *say what?*) and she just wrote a fabulous post about what it means to be a military family.  It’s not easy (duh) but it’s even tougher when you have 4 kids, all with special needs.  She’s sort of my hero.  Yeah, she’s got her issues (don’t we all) but she does a much better job of hiding them than most people.  Go.  Read her post.  You’ll see.

Change @ Mom’s Mixed Nuts  (Isn’t that a great blog name?)

After you read these wonderful women writers, you’ll understand my panic about doing Camp NaNoWriMo with them.  They set the bar awfully high and I’m a terrible jumper.

Spring “Break” for Moms

Spring Break.  The phrase that used to be synonymous with fun, sun, and idleness.  Before I had kids.

When I didn’t work outside the home, Spring Break meant long days with my overly excited children, trying to come up with ways to occupy their time so they wouldn’t kill each other or I, them.  The words, “Spring Break” struck fear into my very heart.

Now that I’m working, I was excited about Spring Break.  I looked forward to it, marked the days until I could sleep past 5:30, stay up late blogging or watching movies, go to the spa, get a haircut, go to the zoo.

Psshht.

Here it is, Friday, the last day of Spring Break and I haven’t watched a movie.  This is the only blogging I’ve done, I’ve barely been outside the house except to take my kids to the doctor, I didn’t get a massage or a haircut, and I didn’t take my kids to the zoo.

Side note:  NEVER NEVER tell your kids you’re going to take them somewhere over Spring Break.  Trust me, you’ll regret it.  Something will come up.  A hurricane in Disney World or your sewer will back up and you’ll have to spend the Lego Land money to have feces pumped out of your yard.  Instead, the night before you want to leave, let the kids stay up really late, wake them up early, give them a Benadryl, load them into the car, tell them you’re taking them to the dentist, and drive while they sleep. That way, if your engine blows up on I-95, they’re happy.  No tears or accusations on their part and you’ll be guilt free.  And if, by some miracle, you actually make it to your destination, you’re a hero!

Super Mom

So how did I spend my Spring Break?  Doing all the crap I can’t do while I’m at work.  Making phone calls, scheduling doctors’ appointments, getting my son a pair of glasses to replace the ones he lost months ago, and Spring cleaning.  Oh my, the cleaning.

You’d think that since 10 short months ago we literally had Nothing, I wouldn’t have much junk.  You’d be wrong.  We have loads of useless crap.  Aside from broken motherboards and pieces of old VCRs (mother of a 13yo geek-in-training–and proud of it, I might add), shoes I’ll never wear, purses I’ll never carry, and toys my kids outgrew three years ago,  there are the clothes.

When you have nothing, you take everything, especially clothes.  Well, I took too much.  Doing laundry for 7 people is time-consuming but imagine if everyone has enough clothes to last an entire month?  You know how, when you’re tired from working, you’re perfectly content NOT to do laundry as long as someone has something to wear to school the next day?  (No?  Well, maybe that’s just me.)  So I let the laundry ride.   This week, I had to catch it up.  As I was busy running around town to doctor’s offices and whatnot, I didn’t have time to fold it.  As usual, I dumped it on the couch, with plans to fold it all in one giant Laundry Party (that’s the only kind of party I’m having these days.  *sigh*)  Before I knew it, I had Mount Kilimanjaro in my living room.

Mt Kilimanjaro.

Mt Kilimanjaro. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I got out the garbage bags.  I folded and tossed like a madwoman.  Before long I had 5 garbage bags full of clothes ready to go to the Goodwill and still too many clothes to fit in the drawers.  I eyed the kids’ piles of clothes and decided they really didn’t need 3 sets of yard work clothes.  I mean, they don’t even do yard work.  I reduced again.  At this point, I was tossing every 3rd shirt.  Hope they weren’t particularly attached to any of them.

Add to the laundry cleaning up after my highly inquisitive 2yo that likes to paint her body with fingernail polish and dump everything on the floor, especially the contents of salt shakers and shampoo bottles, and refereeing fights between all five kids and you have a very good idea what my Spring Break was like.

I can’t wait until Monday.

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How about you?  You do anything fun for Spring Break or was it as awful as mine?

Related Posts:

Monday, Beautiful Monday
A Day in the Life
And So It Begins:  The Dreaded Summer Vacation

Missing the Good Ol’ Days

I remember a time when blogging was necessary.  As in, if I didn’t post for two whole days, I had to write something, anything, immediately.  As in, I checked my stats at least three times an hour a day, desperately hoping someone left a comment or at least clicked the “like” button (seriously, how hard is it to click that button?  It takes, what, half a second?)  As in, I jotted down notes for future blog posts, started a gazillion drafts, and worked on posts for hours.

Those were the good ol’ days.

Before life got in the way.

Now, sure, I still had five kids when I started Momfog in January 2011.  But I was home.  I got them up and dressed, and put them on a school bus.  Then I had the whole day to write, write, write.  And then, the awfulness happened, and I had to get a “real” job.  Boo!  Hiss!

Now, I get up at the butt-crack of dawn, dress the kids and myself (no more driving them to the bus stop in my PJs– again, Boo!  Hiss!), drive 30 minutes to school and work, work my tail off, pick up the kids, drive the 30 minutes back home, cook dinner, get them ready for bed, do a load (or 12) of laundry, and then it’s 10:00.  I’m exhausted, brain-dead, incoherent, hurting, and not in the mood to do anything but play stupid FB games or watch television.

I don’t even look at my blog every day.  Sometimes, I don’t look at it for several days.  It doesn’t matter.  There’s nothing to see.  No posts=no comments, no “likes,” no anything.

I still piddle around in the wordpress.com forums.  I still participate in link-ups, digging deep into the archives when I actually had something to say.  Sometimes it was even entertaining.  I get a few comments and it’s great.  But I miss the “regulars.”  The people I depended on in the heyday of my little blog for comments, encouragement, and conversation.  You know who you are, and I want you to know I miss you terribly.

inbox lots of unread messagesI also miss when I could read these very special peoples’ blogs.  I don’t have time for that anymore, either.  My inbox has something like 550+ unread messages.  My inbox looks like that a lot– until I finally come to grips with the fact that I’m never going to catch  up on those unread posts and I delete them.  And it pains me to do that.

You guys deserve better.  Because you, with your lives as busy (or more so) than mine, have found the time to blog on and I’ve flaked.  I’m not going to promise I’ll do better.  I won’t.  Not any time soon, anyway.  I just want you to know that I admire your tenacity.  That I envy you.

That I miss the Good Ol’ Days.

Looking on the bright side, school (and my illustrious job as lunch lady) ends on May 18.  Then it’s 12 glorious weeks of blog writing and blog reading.  Hopefully in my PJs.  I might post something every day.  Seriously, you’ll be sick of me.  I can’t wait to get on your nerves.  Again.