Wednesday, March 30, 2011

NOW would be a good time.....

Ever had one of those weeks when you just can't think straight? It's not the stress of life, it's the reality of life. Ahhhh sweet reality. A pause button would be nice. Perhaps a delete button. I find myself racing the garbage to the street in my pajamas. Six cars pass hurrying on their way. SIX! Two were trying to break the sound barrier, and with all so deep in their own reality, I don't think I was noticed. It's one of those... I could have done this yesterday.... moments. (by the way.... the garbage truck had already come and gone).

It's been a world of crazy!
Putting clothes in the dryer and walking away without turning it on.
Putting dishes in the dishwasher and not turning it on.
Putting my cereal in the microwave. I did catch myself on that one.
Making coffee, waiting for it to brew and realizing it wasn't on.
Making coffee, turning it on and realizing I forgot to put the water in.
(The last two were two different times).
Pouring a cup of coffee, putting the cup down somewhere, and having to go look for it.
Kids waiting on lunch and realizing when it should be ready, it's still on top of the stove.
The list continues, but much more would paint a slow picture of insanity, so as friends we stop there.

My mind is in overload mode. I'm constantly thinking about the next thing to do, the next hour, the next day, the next even in the manuscript I'm working on, the return of manuscript #1 at the first of the month, what to make for the next meal..... the list goes on here too.

Along the way my NOW has gotten lost. The NOW is not always exciting. The NOW is not always beautiful. The NOW is not always fun. But in the NOW is where we make our memories. Today, I harness my thoughts and embrace my NOW.

Anyone else need to take time to see the joy in your NOW?

For anyone that has seen earlier posts, I received a sweet gift in the mail from my sister!
That's right... I now own the shirt.... straight from Pop-Tarts World!  The note inside read.... Happy Just Because Day!

So to all you fabulous people out there... celebrate your NOW and Happy Just Because Day! Share in the fun, and send a friend an email just to say hello!

Sunday, March 27, 2011


Have you ever known something so deep inside your heart that it's a part of your everyday? Have you ever lived with the knowledge that someday all you long for will be a reality? I'm talking about the hope that has burrowed so deep in your heart that nothing can shake it. The knowing that one day, the desires of your heart will come true.

It was September 24, 1993 and I was invincible! I was working three jobs and putting myself through graduate school to get a Masters in Early Childhood Education. I loved where God had placed me. Jacksonville, Alabama was going to be my home forever, as far as I could see it. But, on that day in September something changed. God said I was going to Africa. It's that overwhelming feeling like He's got His thumb on you. So, the future as I knew it changed. A giant question mark was before me. Africa... how was I suppose to get there? One event after another put Africa in my path. Then I actually met a woman who was a missionary from Kenya. That was just another moment in her life, but for me it was a meeting from Him. I won't ever forget the moment I shook her hand. I had such great respect for her, and in her eyes I saw something that I felt. I saw a love for the people of Africa. She spoke with such strength. She spoke with such authority. She spoke from her heart, and through her God gave me a vision of the life He had for me.

So, in 1994 I went. I lived in Nigeria for two years teaching MKs (missionary kids). These were the little people that made me smile, kept me laughing, and taught me about life while I taught them history, math, and chess.

Life continued.... yada yada yada.... and I'm not in Africa anymore, and I won't be going anytime soon. (I can yada through 15 years, right?) However, as I live in the good old USA my heart still beats for the beautiful people on the other side of the ocean. One event after another continues to put Africa in my path. Will I go back? Oh, yes, you better believe it! When? Well, raising my fabulous four is my joy at the moment. But isn't it exciting to know that one day, I'll go back. When or where... that's not up to me, but it's going to be amazing! Want to come along?

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Peace, Love, and Pop-Tarts

There are so many little things we take for granted in our day that should make us smile. Things that should make us thankful. Things that pass us by because we are so busy being.... well, busy. 

I came across this shirt the other day. My kids love pop-tarts for snack time and on the side of the box was the web site to order pop-tart apparel. We had to check it out. And, just for the record, I do want a pop-tart coffee mug. 

We all laughed about the silly yet fun things you can buy on this site. Then I realized how fun it was to take a break in work, pull up that site and for a moment just browse through it with my fabulous four saying, "Oh, let's get one of those." and "Look, that's just $6.99!" 

Today I was determined to notice the little things. All the little things that make my day full of love. Benjamin's excitement over grits and eggs. Olivia being convinced lip balm must be toxic. Abigail's new fascination with her stop watch. Jordan's sneaking in just one more chapter of her book. My mom's endless supply of coffee. New friends that can make me laugh. Prayer from faithful friends that keep me going. Kindness of a stranger that made me see God first.

Today we went to the park. I had errands to run and then groceries to buy before coming home to make dinner. It was such a beautiful day, and having been sick, I had not been out in the sunshine at all. So, in between all our running around I stopped at the park so the kids could play and I could walk. Nothing like a good hard walk to wake up the muscles. I wanted to go hard at it for about 25 minutes..... this was the perfect opportunity for Abigail to use her stopwatch. The kids played on the playground and I made the circle around them. This particular park was the home of about a billion trees and ten thousand squirrels. No birds, thank goodness... (that's a story for another time). 

Each time I made the circle I checked the time. I'd like to say I kept up with how many laps I made or that I was improving my time, but as I walked I got lost in thought. I confess I pondered what to blog.... is that considered a sickness? I began to daydream about the characters in my book. There's a first kiss coming for a couple in my book and I just can't make it right. Daydreaming... I walked. I watched the young couple in love across the park. At one point he stands, pulls her to her feet, picks her up, swings her around and kisses her gently before they sit back down together.... hmm.... that kiss would work. Nice show young couple. Then I was completely distracted by the group of four friends bringing in an evening picnic. The sun was setting. Squirrels were scampering.... no, that's a lie... they would run right beside me and scare me out of my daydreaming. An older couple walked around the park slowly. He wasn't moving fast, and she was holding his hand. They were smiling and talking quietly. Her free hand was telling a story, and he just kept smiling. Then, I watched the kids. Running, sliding, holding on for dear life as the merry-go-round twisted with light speed, conquering the monkey bars.... laughing. I walked. I watched life around me. Beautiful life. I am blessed. On to the store..... more pop-tarts of course.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Legacy of Laughter

There comes a moment in time when you pass on the legacy of your youth to your children. I passed on my Barbies to my daughters. I passed on my hot wheels to my son. I passed on my music from my teenage years, I passed on my inability to get rid of anything that holds a memory, I passed on my love for poetry, and I passed on my favorite cartoons.

How fabulous that we can sit with our children and watch all the old greats we enjoyed on Saturday mornings. We all have our favorites and can still enjoy them. Perhaps it was the waiting until Saturday morning that made our favorites so special. There was the knowing you had a small window of cartoon time in the afternoons too.  Perhaps these cartoons became my favorites because my dad sat down and watched them with me. He knew the cartoon schedule better than me!

Recently, I introduced The Little Rascals to my kids. We watched the newest movie and now we are starting on the old black and white shows. It's an instant hit here. Sitting at the breakfast table, Benjamin began to quote his new favorite movie. "Dear Darla, I hate your stinkin' guts. You make me vomit. You're the scum between my toes. Love Alfalfa." Laughter went on for some time after this, and of course he had his audience so he continued. "We're going to the race. We're gonna win first place. You've got an ugly face!" Again, the laughter.... seemingly endless. He couldn't believe kids talked to each another like this, and the fact that it's suppose to be funny made it that much crazier for him! Olivia's quote was a topper. "The clouds opened up and God said, 'I hate you, Alfalfa!'"

We've watched Popeye, Looney Tunes, The Smurfs, The Flintstones, The Jetsons, The Pink Panther, Tom and Jerry.... well, this list goes on. This week, I've also introduced them to The Lucy Show. Such fun to share the laughter with my fabulous four that I once shared with my dad.

What were your favorite Saturday morning cartoons?

Friday, March 18, 2011

Popcorn.... check!

Hello, my name is Vanessa, and I'm a movie junkie. Confession is good for the soul. Being the introvert that I am, watching movies has always been a favorite pastime. Remember when the VCRs first came out?

I remember the day we plugged ours in and the fun began. Our very first movie.... Two of a Kind. In our town there was one movie rental place. I became a connoisseur of the 3 day rentals. Friday came with the knowledge that I would accompany my mom to pick out the weekend 5. Oh yes, five spectacular movies guaranteed to more than likely scare the snot out of me and keep me awake listening for the monsters under my bed, in my closet, and scraping their evil claws outside my window. Yes, I was intrigued by the horror, the graphic, the scary, the intense, the anticipation of what was around the next corner kind of movie that would have me on the edge of my seat and screaming. Lots of fun! I don't watch those any longer. Are you kidding? Living alone and watching a scary movie is the equivalent of drinking 12 cups of coffee. Plus, I don't like putting images into my subconscious that might materialize in the dream-state. Freddy need not hop in my dreams, 

                                                                            or Jason, 

                                                                  or Jack with his ax.

I watch movies before I go to sleep. Usually a good Sandler movie, superhero stuff, or intense drama. For those of you who haven't seen The Power of One, you're missing out. Now, add it to your Netflix cue before you continue reading. Done... great... let's continue. We all have our favorites. We all grew with Star Wars. Goonies never say die. And most of us know what it means to "be back in time." 

My latest indulgence...... I had the joy of watching a movie recently, titled "Inception." First, I'm not a Dicaprio fanatic. He forever looks twelve to me, and he'll always be the kid Mike Seaver used to know.

Second, thank you, Evelyn and Dave, you guys are the best! Anyway, back to the movie. This movie is about dreams. I love dreams! I dream graphically in what seems to be a motion picture type setting. This is why I'm more careful about what I watch. No scary movies. Inception still won't leave me. Dreams within dreams. Levels of dreaming. Creating reality within ourselves. Reality. Hmmm. Reality for the dreamer is limited only to the imagination. My writing usually becomes part of my dreams. My characters become so real that I dream about their lives. It does tend to inspire page after page. So.......

Time to dream. Reality awaits!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Teach.... your children well....

 The One you just called fat? She has been starving herself & has lost over 30 pounds. The One you just called stupid? She has a learning disability & studies over 4hrs a night. The One you just called ugly? She spends hours putting makeup on hoping people will like her. The One you just tripped? She is abused enough at home. There's a lot more to people than you think. (This is the post being passed around facebook the last few days).

Working with children over the years I've noticed bullies come in all shapes and sizes. The rise in bullying concerns me. Parents, don't assume your child is immune. One sweet girl confessed, "This girl in my class won't stop making fun of me." This one really gets me... "He was throwing rocks at me and hitting me in the back all during recess." How about, "He pulled my shirt up in front of the class and slapped my stomach." Think this is confined to school? Sunday school had this happen, "They made fun of her because she stuttered until she cried."

Have you ever been bullied? Have you ever been afraid to go to school or hang out with your friends because you KNOW what was coming?

I was bullied in school. More than once. Dead fish in my locker. Hit in the back with the basketball for laughs. The list goes on. I don't even know what I did to the girls that didn't like me. Did they just open the yearbook and decide it was my day? I used to be afraid of girls that would walk behind me saying all the horrible things they were going to do to me. One almost succeeded. Had it not been for a guy friend of mine that stepped in as the punch was coming, I would have been destroyed in front of a crowd of my peers. His comment still rings in my head, "You punch her. I punch you." That chick actually thought about it, pulled her fist back to pummel me, and he pulled his fist back ready to take his shot. She stopped, realizing he was serious and a wonderful teacher intervened and drug her to the office. Whew! Now, Mom... I know you're reading this. Relax!

I only stood up to one bully. She followed me into the restroom and she had me alone. She told me all she was going to do to me. I wanted to cry. I wanted to scream for help, but something in me snapped that day. I stood with my back to her visibly shaking. She knew I was afraid, so she continued the verbal torture. Then I turned and looked her in the eyes. I thought about when we were little and she used to play on the playground with me. We used to sit together in the library. She used to be my friend. All at once, I didn't care anymore. I didn't care if she hit me. I told her if she was going to do beat me up to get on with it, and if all she was going to do was talk about it and scare me all the time, then to just shut up! I've never seen fire shoot from nostrils, but at that moment I thought it was possible. Her eyes filled with anger and she stepped closer. I could feel my heart beating in my temples! Then..... it was as if she saw me. Me. The me she once knew. She stepped back, looked down at the floor and told me to go. I wanted to go throw up, but I walked by her with my head up. We never spoke about that day, but things changed. I'd like to say we became friends and she stopped being a bully. No, she just moved on to the next victim. But, I changed. I decided to not be afraid anymore. Things still happened, but it didn't get to me. I didn't allow someone who behaved so small to take away who I knew I was.

All of this to simply say, talk to your children. Ask them how their day was. Ask them if there are bullies in their classes. Ask them do they feel safe. Ask them do they know what to do or who to talk to if someone threatens them. Ask them do they know how special they are. Ask them do they know how much you love them.

Mean kids are out there. However, we can raise our children to be the source of compassion for others. Be the one that befriends the lonely. Teach them to give of their hearts and allow others to see hope in them. Teach them to believe they are worth so much more than what a bully thinks of them. Teach them to laugh. Teach them to love their friends and pray for their enemies. Teach them it's a great big world out there, and it's time that the good guys win. Teach them acceptance.

Does the local school where you live have an anti-bullying campaign? Would you be willing to start one and give children hope?

Below, two schools came together to create a message about acceptance. Enjoy!

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Book Update

I received a working timeline from my publisher! My manuscript currently has the attention of their editing department, and they'll send it back along with their suggestions to me by March 31st. I'll then have 15 days to modify the complete work and return it to them. Once they finalized all of the adjustments, they'll send it back to me at the end of April for final approval. They want the completed, revised, modified, perfected.... ready for business... manuscript returned by the middle of May. From the editor it will be moved on to the design department and go through the final stages before publication!

If this is a dream, let's just keep on enjoying it! I'll update again on March 31st..... I'm going to need chocolate and some strong coffee on that day. Letting all of you know so people can prepare! Thanks to all of you that continue to give encouragement along this journey!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

The "To Do" List

I'm a list maker. There is an amazing sense of accomplishment in marking through a finished task. So, tonight I sat down and started a new list. Goals. Tasks. Serious "to do's", and things necessary to survival (buying coffee).

The #1 on my list.... organize my work desk. I sat there looking at that #1. Overwhelmed! My desk has gotten out of hand. My house has gotten out of hand! I'm no neat freak, but I do like everything in its place. I used to be better at that, but lately it seems as if I'm about three months behind the world on existing in the human race! So, first list thrown away.

Now, #1 make a huge pot of coffee so I can stand to think about #2!
#2 Consider what I want to write for #3.
#3 Organize my desk!

See the vicious cycle I put myself through? Little gets accomplished in a state of chaos. So, I'm beginning to harness order.

Now, let's try again.
#3 Write in the blog about making lists.  (Look how much I'm accomplishing now!)
#4 File everything on the right side of my desk. No... let's go with the left. Start small and feel some sense of accomplishment and not be stuck in my office until next Tuesday!

Over the summer I hope to work on and complete a women's devotional book to accompany the novel Friday Lunch. We shall see. It's going to be about order. Without order, life has little meaning and little fun.

I push myself way too hard and have very little fun. I realized this today when my son was remembering last summer's horror of being covered in fire ant bites. He then says so sweetly, "I really liked laying in bed with those ant bites on me." I was perplexed and asked, "Why did you like it?" He leaned over, hugged me and said, because you spent the whole day sitting here with me and we had so much fun together."

Let me just raise my hand to nominate myself for the terrible mother award! Busy isn't acceptable when it isolates you from the joys in your life. The joy in my life happens to be the four little smiling faces that surround my table. In neglecting fun with them I simply neglect myself. But, how do I spend more time with them when I'm already swamped? Order in the chaos. It's all about the choices we make. Little choices that spiral our days in different directions, and lately I never seem to make the choices that include fun.

Tomorrow is a new day in my house.
#5 Schedule time in to play..... really play and be silly for at least an hour!
#6 Get rid of 10 things in my house that I don't use.
#7 Work on book #2.
#8 Schedule in exercise twice a day. (that's right... twice! I'm finally getting serious).
#9 Recycle everything that can be recycled!
#10 Start my real to do list and stick to it until I can make a dent in the chaos I call life!

Are you a list maker? Is there an area of your life you would like to have in better order?

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Dead Duck Wednesday

I'm not sure what would make so many of those silly ducks WALK across the road from one water source to the next. Plus, if you were a duck, you were about to cross said road, and 20 others lay smashed before you, would you not just go back down to the water where you were and enjoy the fish there? Or fly?

I take my theatrical three female type people to drama class on Wednesdays. Each Wednesday we see the same sight. The horrific scene is not limited to one spot. Oh, no. We cross 4 different spots where there's water on both sides of the highway, and in these stretches of road.... complete carnage.

Okay, it's not funny, but I did find someone posted a news report that said dead birds were turning up in Alabama. No, just lazy ones end up that way. So, if you find yourself on highway 35 or you are enjoying the sites of highway 79, beware......the lazy duck.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Sentimental Sundays

I've thought about my daddy quite a bit this week. Sweet memories of a great man who loved his family and friends. One of the most amazing memories I have of him was his last week with us. He lost the battle with cancer eight years ago this month, and it was during his last week that I saw how many people loved him. Friend after friend came to visit and sit with him. So many stories shared. So much laughter with him in a time of saying goodbye. Amazing love shown to our entire family.

One moment stands out over all. The pastor of my mom's church was there visiting. Now, my daddy wasn't a religious man. He didn't attend church except for the general Christmas play or Easter Sunday service. He had asked Jesus into his life after he had gotten sick. But, being so new in his faith, he still wasn't sure if he was going to make it into Heaven. He was scared. I had no idea how he felt. I assumed he knew he was all squared away in the department. Well, bone cancer is painful. Extremely painful. He endured it and got through each day, but in a lot of pain. Back to the visit from the pastor. I was walking into the room and overheard the conversation. Daddy was telling Pastor Shannon how he had asked God if he was really saved to allow him to feel no pain. He said after he prayed that, for just a little while, all the pain left his body and then he just knew. I was overwhelmed with God at that moment. What a gift to give eternal assurance to a dying man, so that he could enjoy his time left with family and not wonder or worry.  

Daddy always loved music but couldn't carry a tune.... at all! He had a great deep voice, but the notes just bewildered him. Once when I was home from college I had a tape playing a song called 'Thank You'.  If you haven't heard it... well, find it... but be warned it's going to stir your heart. Well, I sang and sang that song in the kitchen at my mom's. Daddy was listening and I didn't know it. He got up from his recliner and came to sit in the kitchen, trying to hum along.... humming completely out of tune, but it made me smile. Each time I came home I made sure I brought that song with me and I always sang louder than necessary so he could listen over the television, and just like before he would come sit and hum along. 

Today in church, someone sang that song. Boy, I wanted to jump up and run out the door! But I didn't. I sat there. I sat there listening to those words sung so beautifully by a man that Daddy would have loved to hear. I sat there with tears streaming down my cheeks missing that out of tune hummer. Funny how a song can sling you back in time and every feeling comes crashing in your heart. Tears are easy for me. I don't hold them back, especially in church. So today has been a sweet sentimental Sunday for me, tears and all.

Do you have a song like this that sends you back to special moments with family?

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Bubbzie's Blog

Benjamin's message to you.....

Hello my friends! I love The Little Rascals and I like this song.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Battle of the bangs......

I raise my hand and say this is my fault. However, that being said.... I still have to win this argument.  Step inside my world for a moment. It's a crazy ride.

The argument. A haircut. Mommy versus Benjamin. Usually my son is quite in agreement with whatever I say. He's one of the most pleasant compassionate children I've known. Now that I've built up the wonderful side of him, know he can be stubborn (I don't know where he gets that). He thinks Bon Jovi is the coolest rocker around. My fault. I take pride in the fact that this belief is my fault.

Back to the argument.... well, let's say disagreement. This is the hair we could not agree on.

I said he needed his hair cut, and he said I shouldn't cut his rocker hair. "You know, Mommy, it's like Bon Jovi's." Of course I pulled many pictures of his rock idol up online and proved that while indeed cool, we can still see the eyes of Mr. JBJ.  Not quite convinced I did suggest we at least trim his bangs to look like a gentleman rocker. Yes, I know.... laugh if you will, but being a gentleman to this little guy is important, and I knew I had him on that one.

This is the face that I dealt with for a while.

No worries. Moms are made of steel right? What a pout though! 

Bangs trimmed, hair styled, he was satisfied. 

Cute hair, cute guy, rockin' his new style at his best friend's birthday party at "Chicken Lay."

Not a giant difference. Not a major change. But he saw it. He felt it. He felt cuter! Battle won! And let's see how we all handle the real hair cut next week!