Rolling with the Punches

I once dreamed of being a famous author and poet; Survive NowAsk Questions Laterone of those writers whose work was adored, picked apart to find the deeper meaning only to see genius at every level.

(I used to be quite full of myself)

Of course, that was when I still believed that writing was “easy-peasy”, and I could shoot New York Times Bestsellers out of my fingertips on demand. Then I grew up and realized that writing is work. I both envy and dread having the mind of a literary genius. Why dread? Because that’s a lot of responsibility, and I’m very much a pajamas-and-slippers kind of gal.

Could I do my book signings while still in my PJs, please?

But I digress…

I’m a Pantser (fly by the seat of my pants) writer. I don’t plan. I may keep a document or a notebook to organize characters, places, and timelines as I go along, but there’s very little to no planning a story beforehand. Well, this method of mine tends to lead to me writing things without really realizing why other than because it’s part of the story. So when a reader asked me a question about my protagonist, Charlie, in my book Guardian, I had to sit back and think about it for a moment.

Actually, I thought about it for a few days.

Her question was why a 17-year-old girl who’d just been sold off to an underground slave trade run by monsters (evil mages, ghouls, vampires, etc.), and dosed with a magic-laced serum that gave her magic abilities, would just go along with what was happening without stopping to question A,B, and C.

And I realized that there have been a lot of those scenarios in my life. Not the paranormal aspect of it, of course, but I’ve experienced many situations that required just rolling with the punches; going with the flow, if you will. Sometimes, in the middle of a crisis, we don’t really have the time  or the mental/emotional capacity to sit around asking questions. Which is exactly where Charlie was in the story.

She’s exhausted, confused, pissed, and secretly pretty frightened. She’s also a fighter. She’s never been the kind to “sit down and shut up on demand”, as it says in the story. She deals the hand that’s given to her. And this is exactly the case from page one.

She’s in a situation that she can’t control. She’s surrounded by people who are bigger and badder than her on all sides. As a person of action, that’s exactly what she does… she acts: survive now, ask questions later. Have regrets later.

This is why Charlie just goes along with what’s happening.

So, dear reader, I hope that answers your question. And as the editing process happens, I’ll be sure to try and clarify this fact, even if that clarification comes later in the story.

“You Are My Sunshine…”

You AreMy Sunshine  Today is Bear’s very 1st birthday! And what a year it’s been since this amazing little boy added such a new and fitting dynamic to our family. It’s a bittersweet moment for us, my husband and myself, as Bear will be the last biological child we will ever have. (I add the qualifier “biological” on purpose.)

Since the moment I found out that I would have to have a vertical incision–because of a possible accreta–during my C-Section with our sweet boy, I knew there would be no more children after this. He would be our last. And I swore to myself then that I would cling to every moment I possibly could, try and engrave every milestone into my memory. I swore to myself that no matter how exhausted I was, no matter how frustrated, no matter what I was going through, I’d cherish every moment.

It sounds cliche, I know. And maybe it even sounds a little unfair to my older children (I felt that way for a long time), but there’s nothing to put into stark relief just how beautiful watching your child grow up really is until you realize that this will be the last time. Bear is the last baby I will ever carry in my body. He is the last mine. And that’s where the shock settles deep.

And so I have tried to make the most of it. I’ve tried to make the most of it for all of our children, including my niece, though we’ve only had her a short time. I try to sing more, laugh more, cuddle more, read more. I have done my best to be more present.


13010676_10153514214137304_6302208144826349019_nBear’s favorite lullaby is “You Are My Sunshine”. The kid loves music, and even in the middle of a fit, he will stand up and start dancing if music begins to play. His favorite genres are pop and EDM, though he is also a big fan of the theme song I created for him.

He was rolling at 4 months, crawling at 6, and walking at 8. We chalk this up to the fact that he has three siblings and a cousin to keep up with. He’s not afraid to tussle with the other kids, either.

He has lungs for days and is not afraid to belt out his frustration, happiness, excitement, or anger.

He loves fruit but hates bananas and anything to do with them. If you try to give him one, or anything flavored like one, he will give you this look: (see right)10371393_10153430560597304_5977917048283036307_n

Just like any parents, we try and imagine what he’ll be when he grows up, and so far the options are:

  1. Priest
  2. Boxer
  3. Artist
  4. Lumberjack

The biggest compliment that we get about him are how “beautiful” his eyes are. He’s the gray-eyed oddball in a family of all hazel-eyed individuals..

His favorite activities include running for the road every time we go outside, treasure-hunting beneath the couch, hunting for crumbs under the dining table, hugging the cat–to death, and displaying his dominance over us with head-butts.

Bear truly is my little sunshine. He truly is my happiness in the gray skies, and one of five reasons why I get up every morning, and try harder each day to be a better mom.

Happy birthday, baby boy! ❤

Why I Don’t Remember Your Name – An Open Letter

Dear person whose name I can’t remember,

I watched you approaching from up the aisle. For a moment I battled between feigning sudden interest in the varieties of salad dressing, or matching your gaze and forcing myself into an awkward exchange.

You smile, I smile. You stop your basket next to mine, and my mind automatically shifts to panic mode as it often does in social encounters, especially ones that are unexpected. You see, I’m panicking because I don’t know your name. I know that you’ve given it to me. I know that I’ve heard it uttered by others on several occasions, but I just can’t peg the correct series of letters, the correct syllables, to your face.

But before you get upset by this fact, as if you are too unimportant to be embedded well in my memory-recall, I want to explain something to you.

You see, I don’t remember people by their names. For some reason, my brain has just never been hard-wired to remember names very well. It has, however, been hard-wired to remember other things; things that help me know exactly who you are.

I remember who you are by that one dimple you have on the left side of your face. I remember who you are by the sound of your voice, the way you lilt your consonants, or by the fact that your questions never really sound like questions. I remember who you are by the gestures you make when you speak; more choppy and forceful than fluid and carefree. I know you because of the silver pendant you always wear, or that green sweater that is so awful it’s adorable. I know you by the gray starburst in your blue eyes, the cluster of freckles on your wrist that have bled together and look suspiciously like the Apple icon.

You pour barely a teaspoon of creamer into your coffee.You choose raspberry vinaigrette over ranch dressing. You leave your napkin bundled up beside your plate instead of placing it in your lap. You eat your grapes with your fingers instead of with a fork.

You get this smirk on your face when someone is talking to you, and I can always tell that it’s an uncontrolled reaction because of the worry that flashes behind your eyes when you realize you’re doing it (I have that same fear that someone will misconstrue our expressions as lack of interest, or something negative). I see that flicker of fear when you laugh too loudly, the same flicker of emotion when you say something you feel is very witty but aren’t sure how others will react.

I remember you by the sights, sounds, and smells happening when I’m around you. And so when I see you, I see these little things–seemingly insignificant things–about you. When I look at you, it’s not your name that bounces around my head like a neon flashing light, or like sifting through a Rolodex until your name appears. When I look at you, I remember the way the room smelled like rosemary chicken and lavender; I remember that I was cold and you offered to go get your sweater from your car for me; I remember the sound your foot made as it tapped against the ground.

So, before I watch the disappointment bleed across your face once you realize that I don’t remember you name, please understand it’s because I remember you in so many other ways.

Sincerely,

That lady who can’t remember your name but remembers that you prefer dogs to cats

Anniversary Jitters

April is a busy month for the T.O.M.B. family: birthdays,

12316525_10153228709077304_7089360786532371085_n

Do you see the bat-s*** crazy in our eyes?!

anniversaries, and social events (which, in my dictionary, is classified as anything requiring me to get out of my PJs and brush my hair). For example, this weekend marks mine and my husband’s 5th anniversary.

We’re simple folk. Movie and dinner, type. Nothing fancy, no bells and whistles; we never really buy each other gifts or expect much out of our anniversaries. I guess you can say that we’re both pretty much stuck on auto-pilot survival mode, too tired from the daily grind to put much planning in this special day. And normally, if we’re lucky enough to get a family member to babysit, we’re rushing through a date before said sitter calls to tell us one of our children burned down our house or broke a limb.

This time, however, my mom (Gigi) has graciously offered to take ALL FIVE children all day Saturday so that Matthew and I can get out and do “whatever”, as she said. Oddly, I find myself both excited and nervous about the prospect of a childless free day.

10349961_10152663678342304_1399974687268537644_n

Our high school prom

Why nervous? Because I’m honestly not the best at intimate, tête-à-tête conversations. I’m not the best person with emotional intimacy period! I normally use the children as a distraction from those little moments that my husband likes to spring on me, or I suddenly remember the laundry needs to be rotated.

My love language is “Acts of Service”. This is how I prefer to be shown love, as well as to show my love. In a nutshell, you love me? Help me clean up these Legos; surprise me with an empty sink and clean kitchen when I get home from the store. Don’t try to stare deep into my eyes, hold my hand, and tell me that I’m your sun and stars, because I’ll internally cringe. I’ll tell you to shut up and help me bathe the children. And for me, I show my husband I love him by washing his laundry, and attempting to keep the house cleaned and the children alive.

That’s just me. Though, I will say that I am slowly learning to both accept and reciprocate these verbal gestures of affirmation from my husband because well, Words of Affirmation is his love language.

But, good gracious if I’m not totally freaking out over the idea of having the whole day with him, just us. If I’m an ostrich, my children are the sand in which I bury my head and, well, no children = no sand. On top of this, we both agreed not to do a bunch of activities (like going to the movies) that basically require us not to speak to each other. Also, take into account that this will be our first “date” since we took my niece in in January.

So what do we do with ourselves? What do you do with an entire day with no kids? Because, honestly, if it were up to me, we’d drive an hour back home and get the entire house cleaned (and throw away those old, broken toys in secret), but I don’t think he’s going to go for that.

Wish me luck!

“Baby On Board”: A Defense

baby-on-board-sign

If you’ve been driving for any length of time, you’ve probably seen those little yellow diamonds proudly displaying “Baby On Board” on the back windshield of someone’s car. Apparently, these insignificant little signs are the bane of some drivers’ existences. For some reason, Baby On Board signs have become almost synonymous with pretentious, overbearing parents. And no one likes pretentious, overbearing parents, right?!

Before you go on with your, “Well, I WAS going to hit them until I saw that sticker on their car” tangent of dripping sarcasm, I would like to make a case for these little yellow diamonds. You see, accidents happen, or rather, collisions happen. (We can’t always call them “accidents” per say, now can we?) They happen even when we do everything in our own personal power to be safe, attentive drivers. They happen even when there are billboards, TV commercials, and radio ads that speak of the dangers of texting, drinking, and otherwise distracted driving. And yes, they happen even when these well-intentioned signs are displayed in our vehicles.

What if I told you that these signs may not just mean that the drivers and parent’s of said “baby(ies)” hope you drive safely around them? What if I told you that it may be a sign warning to you to show caution around them? 

12791116_10153389674862304_7086732008258147700_nYou see, parents can be some of the most distracted drivers. Between a screaming baby, or a toddler who is demanding “Wheels on the Bus” for the fortieth time, or squabbling siblings (see photo on the left), it’s easy to get distracted. It’s easy to take your eyes off the road for a split second to see why your kid is screaming at the top of their lungs–only to find out it’s because they saw a pretty dog on the side of the road.

You think traffic is intense? Imagine sitting in Houston, Texas traffic with an insatiable child who is screaming loud enough for your unfortunate neighbors to hear. Nothing makes you want to attach laser blasters to your hood and blast your way home while doing 110MPH quite like this scenario.

Long story short: don’t assume that all parent’s with a “Baby On Board” sign are passive-aggressively judging your driving skills. Maybe, just maybe, they’re actually telling you to steer clear of their 1+ ton of road hazard. 🙂

 

About T.O.M.B.

In a nutshell, blogging is just one of the many methods I use to keep from losing my s*** on a regular basis. I tend to be an eclectic blogger, just as I’m an eclectic person in general.

If I had to describe my parenting style, it would be: Molly Weasley.

We are Catholic, and on a scale from “fire-and-brimstone” to “fluffy Jesus”, we’re somewhere in the middle.

In the style of gaming, I will now introduce you to my crazy little family:


The Mom:

Name(s): Kristy, Mom, Mommy, “Hey”, “Get me more chocolate milk”

Age: 26

Hair: Short, brunette, and usually completely haphazard

Eyes: Yes, I have two. They are hazel.

Body Type: Usually achy. Short and plump.

Occupation: Bard, Cook, Slayer of Spiders, Master of Laundry

Intelligence: Moderate

Agility: LOL – None

Stamina: It comes and goes

Strength: Can carry 10 bags of groceries in at once.

Charisma: I can’t even talk my way out of giving the toddler a cookie

Multi-tasking level: Boss

Alignment: Chaotic Good

The Dad:

Name(s): Matthew, Dad, Daddy, “Don’t call me Matt”

Age: Actual: 26; Feels: 85,165

Hair: Short, dark brown, curly (often mistaken for Jewish)

Eyes: Hazel, and normally very blurry.

Body type: Pale and skinny

Occupation: Breadwinner, the better cook, Champion of Monsters Under the Bed, Architect of Awesome Blanket Forts

Intelligence: Smart-a**

Agility: Fair

Stamina: Also, fair

Strength: Can carry a toddler, a 6yo, and a car seat at the same time.

Charisma: Can make friends with trees.

Multi-tasking level: Needs Improvement

Alignment: Lawful Neutral

Child 1:

Name(s): Aidan, son, “dude, seriously?!”, “Hey-den”

Age: 8, acts 28

Hair: Short, light brown, and ridiculously perfect

Eyes: May only have one by age 10; hazel

Body type: Tall, skinny, and can eat like a cow

Occupation: Student, Protector of Siblings, Future Zombie-Slayer

Intelligence: Too smart for his own good

Agility: Nimble as a wood elf

Stamina: Infinite

Strength: Moderate

Charisma: Adorably awkward

Multi-tasking level: Novice

Alignment: Lawful Good

Child 2:

Name(s): Isaak, “Weiner”, “Stop hitting your brother!”

Age: 6, thinks he’s a grown man

Hair: Short, brown, and fluffy

Eyes: Hazel, burning with the souls of his enemies

Body Type: Short, stocky, and solid

Occupation: Student, Tormentor of Siblings, Plague of Tortilla Chips

Intelligence: Smart-a**

Agility: Has the agility of a dwarf– like his mother

Stamina: Endless

Strength: Surprisingly strong for such a small thing

Charisma: Will punch you in the face if you look at him wrong

Multi-Tasking Level: Novice

Alignment:  Chaotic Neutral

Child 3:

Name(s): Gayle, “She’s messing with me!”, “Chocolate Milk”

Age: 4, acts 14

Hair: Shoulder-length, dark brown, looks like a bird’s nest

Eyes: Hazel, bright, and seemingly omniscient

Body Type: Short, fluffy baby fat

Occupation: Drinker of Chocolate Milk, Tamer of Babies, YouTube fanatic

Intelligence: Smart stuff

Agility: Surprisingly nimble

Stamina: Unfathomable

Strength: Deceptively strong

Charisma: Will only be your friend if you offer cookies

Multi-tasking level: Wut is multi-tasking?

Alignment: Lawful Evil

Child 4:

Name(s): Bella, “That’s enough”, “Mom’s niece”

Age: Soon to be 2

Hair: Short, black, and curly

Eyes: Round, dark, and enchanting

Body Type: Small, petite, “Are you feeding her enough?!”

Occupation: Buster of Eardrums, Mother Goose, Taker of No Crap

Intelligence: Bright

Agility: Clumsy like her aunt

Stamina: Energizer bunny

Strength: Is strong when you have a toy she wants

Charisma: I have to swat people away from her in public

Multi-tasking Level:

Alignment: Chaotic Good

Child 5:

Name(s): Bear, “young man”, “Mom, there’s something in his mouth!”

Age: 1

Hair: short, brown, like downy hair

Eyes: Gray, huge, “omg he has such pretty eyes!”

Body Type: Disproportionate, fluffy, round, solid

Occupation: Destroyer of Dinner, Consumer of Non-Edible Foods, Future Boxer

Intelligence: Growing at an alarming rate

Agility: Unstable

Stamina: Infinite

Strength: Stronger than he looks

Charisma: Once, he almost got a cashier’s number

Multi-tasking level: Can poop and eat at the same time

Alignment: Lawful Neutral