504 Main by Holly Lefevre: writers workshop
Showing posts with label writers workshop. Show all posts
Showing posts with label writers workshop. Show all posts


The Trouble with Tooth Fairies

3:30 am...
"Moooommmmyyy! Moooommyyy! The tooth fairy didn't come yet?"

Eyes pop open...I look at the clock.
Whew...3:30 am. HAPPY DANCE!
Yep, I was happy it was 3:30 and not the real "time to get up" morning.

I pop out of bed and head to Jules's room.
She is distraught.
"The tooth fairy didn't come yet! The tooth fairy didn't come yet! Maybe she is not coming."

I am exhausted but have to get myself out of this...I created it.
Image credit: svinka / 123RF Stock Photo 

Just a few days ago Jules lost her first tooth...
and the next day promptly showed us another tooth was also loose...
and quickly became OBSESSED with this second tooth falling out. 

She was incessant, insistent, and persistent all day about getting this second tooth out. It was not ready...almost but not quite. I could not take it anymore...I had literally told her that the tooth was "still there, and the tooth fairy is just waiting" 100 times!

Finally in an effort to divert her attention, I suggest she write the tooth fairy a note or draw her a picture just to let her know you are excited to see her again soon. This excited her...but then it turned into an obsession.

By bed time she had decided that the tooth fairy would be receiving one beautiful original piece of art (by Jules), one pink swirly bouncy ball, one penny, and one dime, so that the Tooth Fairy would not forget about here.

Under the pillow the treasures went,
and she sort of went to sleep, tossing and turning all night...
until 3:30 when she woke up, distraught.

And when Mommy realized she forgot to tend to her duties.

Once Jules was settled, I snuck into the garage, found some scrapbook paper,
a length of ribbon, and a pretty embellishment and
sat down at about 4 am to craft a response from the Tooth Fairy.
Just what I wanted to do at 4 am!

I quietly entered Jules's room and swapped out her gifts for
the Tooth Fairy note and went back to bed.

In the "real" morning she was ecstatic! She carried the note with her all day...
and around 6 pm started preparing another offering for the Tooth Fairy (yeah!).

Well, three days later that tooth is still in her mouth,
the Tooth Fairy has now collected:
2 Tootsie Pops,
a note that says "I love you Tooth Fairy,"
a flower button,
and fifty cents
(to add to the first night loot of a bouncy ball, penny, dime and picture).

She is much happier than she looks!

So, this is what I do as a mother...I come up with creative solutions to my kids obsessions and  problems and, in turn, create, more work for myself...but to see their eyes light up and to hear them tell the stories over and over...there is nothing like it.  It is a good reminder of the simple, sweet and magical moments that make you thankful you are a Mom!

(Now I must go write Note #3)

What crazy things do you do as a mom?


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Mama’s Losin’ It


Things My Dad Taught Me...2012 edition

Happy (almost) Father's Day to all the dad's out there!
I originally posted this in 2010 for writers workshop,
but thought I'd share it again!
Anyway, this is about my Dad! He and I are a lot alike - good and bad. I am pretty sure that is where I get my impatience, my eagerness, and my competitive spirit.

My Dad was a police officer for 20+ years. I am proud of that and always was. He worked funky hours, but it was a good life. He was often able to come home with his partner and have dinner with us. And then other times, we wouldn't see him for days due to his schedule. Sometimes I would get up at 1 am {or later} when my Dad got home from work.  We would eat PB&J on Saltine crackers and watch Planet of the Apes or a weird caveman movie.

When I was younger, I was fascinated with Wrigley's Spearmint Gum. All the police officers chewed it {they all had mustaches too}. I thought it was special...and I thought {or was told} that you had to get it from a policeman. Every night {or day} when my dad came home from work, if I was "good" he would give me his special Police Gum and I was in heaven. I am not sure when I realized everyone could buy Wrigley's Spearmint Gum...not just police officers!

Of course, Police Gum was the invention of the man who, while we were vacationing at Lake Powell, had me convinced that the holes about 50 feet above water were fish houses, and that the yucca plant was named that because it tastes awful {yuck-a!}.

Now, life at my house was not all fun and games, my Dad takes some things very seriously....like his lawn and his baseball hats!

Oh you think I am joking...NOT! He is obsessed with his lawn. He cannot go on vacation for too long because his lawn will grow too tall. We joke that he measures it daily to see if it needs to be cut...and cutting is an all day event...and, remember we live in coastal California...we are not talking acres!

Baseball hats are my Dad's signature item, placing just ahead of shorts - no matter what the weather. As for baseball hats, they must be worn correctly {bill to the front, unless you are in a boat, then it is acceptable to wear it backwards}. The bill must also be bent - just so. I am sure my Dad has a special tool for doing this somewhere. You know what is scary...I find myself repeating this to my son when he screws around with his baseball hat!

Both of my parents were supportive and gave it their all for their kids. They were always coaching our teams, or sitting in the stands cheering us on as we got older. They taught us a lot and let us grow into who we are.

So to end this,
I want to say a big thanks to
my Dad for teaching me...

...how to take care of myself - but that did not mean he didn't ask the police to drive by my apartment when I moved out and lived on my own.
...someone, usually a police officer was always watching - stay out of trouble.
 ...how to NOT throw like a girl. And with that, I played Little League with the boys until I was 12. I even once pitched a no-hitter shut out - who says a girl can't throw? 
 ...how to drive a stick shift, which I still prefer.
...how to drive a boat
...how to water ski (on one ski...and I still can).
...how to ride a dirt bike.
...how to ride a regular bike!
...how to wash a car properly {I do not always do it, but I know how to!}
...that you can never have enough bungee cords or zip ties.
...that Peppermint Schnapps does not taste like a candy cane. 
...how to be the last person to leave a party.

Happy Father's day Dad!
And Happy Father's Day
to all the dad's out there!

What did your Dad teach you????


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Mama’s Losin’ It


The Wrong Finger Leads to Big Trouble

As a kid...a teenager...and even as an adult, I never liked getting in trouble. Who does, right?  I took it to the extreme..I was a very good kid - I avoided trouble and avoided situations that would get me into trouble. Honestly I can count on on hand my big trouble moments

I was told that when I was a little kid I used to go tell on myself before anyone found out I had done something wrong...and apparently it did lessen the consequences. As I got older there was the possibility of more trouble, but not for me. My Dad was a police officer and we lived in the city he worked in. Pretty much everywhere we went we ran into someone, a police officer. So I just figured it best to stay on the straight and narrow (I left the trouble for my brother).

Not to say I was perfect by any means...I had my moments of course, and this was one of them...

I think I was about ten and my family was having a BBQ at another families home. While the adults where inside, the four kids were outside playing. We stopped and were sitting on the front porch when I said,
"I learned something at school." (I was the oldest of the group, and so worldly.)
"Want to know what it is?"
The boys all shook there heads yes.
As the lone girl of the group I was going to teach these boys something new.

I thrust up my middle finger, and said,
"Do You know what this means?"
Blank faces.
"It means the F-word." I said loudly, my middle finger still up.
I thought I was beyond cool, and the boys were happy to know this piece of information.
They all tried it too.
We went back to playing baseball.

Later that night when we got home, I was called into my room to have a discussion. I was puzzled as to why and was certainly not expecting to get in trouble.

"What were you kids doing outside today?"
"Is that all?"
"Are you sure you did not do anything wrong?"
"Of course not!" How could they have known I was showing off my middle finger?!
"Well, we saw what you showed the boys." (Oh it could have been much worse!)
"It is not your job to teach anyone those things."
I denied it...
"Who me. I did not do anything. Leonard did it first"

This conversation, which started out fine took a turn...I knew I was probably going to get in trouble, but as soon as I lied, the trouble increased exponentially. Lying was tolerated less that flipping someone off.

Funny enough, I cannot even remember what exactly the trouble was, but I clearly remember the situation. I remember me getting a talking to. I am sure I cried. I am sure I was put on restriction. And I surely learned to never talk loudly in the summer when all the windows are open or "show off" any new tricks in front of big picture windows. hey, at least I learned something!

Did You get in BIG Trouble as a kid? What for?
Mama’s Losin’ It


A Girl and her Cars

So, I thought I was unscathed yesterday by Blogger...my post was up, I had comments...guess what it disappeared last night...so I am posting my writers workshop submission again. Bummer too...you all had great comments about these cars!
Posted: 11 May 2011 11:22 PM PDT
I come from a car obsessed family. My parents, mainly my dad, have a habit of buying cars "just because." They are always buying or talking about buying a "new" car. At one point, with four drivers in the house, we had 7 cars. When it comes to cars, my Dad has a plan and a purpose. Did you know some cars cannot be driven on rainy days?...Or even when it is foggy outside? And some cars cannot be driven outside the city limits? Go figure! Anyway, here is the tale of my first car...or cars as the case may be.
Around 14 my Mom and Dad began preparing for the glorious day I turned 16 and I could haul my friends around and also haul my brother to ice hockey practice at 5 am. My Dad began talking about the Volkswagen we could "build" and how we could "trick it out." Then he bought a VW Baja Bug...he was going to teach me how to drive it and keep it for me...for two years. It was red...I was happy. I was fourteen I had a car waiting for me...I was happy. Two months later he got an offer he couldn't refuse...he sold it.

Now, repeat that same story about 5 more times...the cars were not always red, in fact one was the color of vomit...but it was "the factory paint job," meaning it would remain the color of vomit. The cars were not always going to be "tricked out." Some were going to remain as is. They were all stick shifts. I learned how to drive on a stick and I love a stick shift and when hubby and I bought our first car together (a Mercedes) I asked if it was available with a stick shift, and no they did not throw me out.
Photo: By Sven Darfschlag(Sondermodelle) (privat) [Attribution], via Wikimedia Commons

In between all of this, as all appreciative children do, I begged for a different car.
The cute girls drove Karman Ghias in aqua, orange , or white.
And, if I could not have a Karmann Ghia,
at least a convertible bug painted aqua, pretty please.
Didn't happen.
Photo: By User:Petropoxy (Lithoderm Proxy) (Own photo by uploader) [GFDL or CC-BY-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

The last car we bought (or so I thought), was about one month before I turned 16. It was the vomit colored, mint condition, factory paint job - you-ain't-touching-this-baby-VW Bug. I protested...the color was so ugly, and
I could tell that I could not convince my Dad to paint it.
I finally accepted it - oh the horror!

One day my friend and I were at a high school baseball game, when it was time to go home, I went to the pay phone and called my parents. I said,

"Hey, can you drive my car over so we can go for a ride?"
We walked out to the street to wait for them and
around the corner came a really cute car...
the kind I would D-I-E for.
It got closer and closer and I saw my parents in it.
They stopped and I asked
"What the heck are you doing?"
To which they replied, you said
"To bring your car."
photo: By Legoguy at en.wikipedia [Public domain], from Wikimedia Commons

Wholly C-R-A-P!
Um, yeah they went and bought me a Volkswagen Cabriolet.
Now I was almost 16 and had a new convertible beach mobile.
With the personalized license plate of FEVRISH.
I was so cool (or so I thought).
On my 16th birthday, I had an appointment for 9 am at the DMV.
I took my test.
I took my mom back home
I picked up 4 friends and was gone until 9 pm that night.
Just in case you are wondering,
I actually kept that car through high school,
then moved on to a Jetta,
then drove my Mom's baby - a BMW
(read all about that beauty too),
then another Jetta until
that was stolen and
my VW saga came to an abrupt end.

And it will only be mentioned one time that I drove my hubby's extra car....

a powder blue Isuzu Impulse after my car was stolen...
until I got my stick shift-less Mercedes.

My hubby refuses to buy me anymore VW's!

So, what was your first car????
p.s. none of these are my actual cars.
Mama’s Losin’ It


A Story...and Poem...About Love

I have been crafting a lot and not writing as much...and I have so many ideas - things to write about and discuss...just not the time to get it all done. But today I am joining up with Writers Workshop to share "A Love Story."

I have said it before here, I never expected to get married.
All in all the idea of being "in love" was,well, just plain odd and seemingly confining to me - it just did not make sense...at all! I did not date much until I was out of college and in my twenties - and then, let's just say I dated a lot.

I did date one man for an extended period of time, he was much older than I (It was what it was-that's all I am saying...for now). I was introduced to another lifestyle, fine food, new food, new cultures, and all in all I have to say it was a great growing experience. Now, I also see that while I did get something out of it, I stayed in that relationship for 3 years, knowing all the time it would go no where, but stayed because it kept me safe from having to experience love, to look for love, or to be disappointed...or entranced by love.

Recently I was talking with a friend about how I met my hubby, and what I realize most of all it that is just happened. We are two very different people - you would probably never put us together - but probably because of that I had my guard down long enough for me to see what kind of experience love can really be, not what I thought it was. 

My love story is not uber romantic or dreamy. It is real though and it seems to work! I am sharing a poem I wrote last year (some of you may remember it) for my hubby (as part of Writers Workshop).

The Boy With No Socks
{originally published 2/2010)

Now for the disclaimer...
Please be gentle...I tried...I am not a poet...I never write poems...
OK, I will admit I did write a poem or two in high school and college...
mostly about how I didn't have a boyfriend...
but I am not sure those count? Do they?
And, back to the disclaimer...I am not romantic at all!
You could even say I fall into the
unromantic/forget your b'day/forget your anniversary guy category.
Here goes!

The Boy With No Socks
I only wanted to see a "Circle of Friends."
There was supposed to be a group...
The group became four...
Oh how I wanted the night to end!

I knew nothing about you
Just that you were from Florida.
And then I noticed no socks!
And thought Miami Vice is O-V-E-R!

Early the next a.m.,
The phone began to ring.
First you...HUH?
Then my friend...with a warning...
{too late!}

You wooed me
with Pulp Fiction and Crimson Tide.
I am a tough nut to crack.
To make me laugh...you tried...

Many more calls and the response
"I must clean my apartment tonight."
More calls...ugh!
Clearly you were not quite "right!"

Then finally, a realization...
A nice boy!
What to do? 
Better learn quick before she shoos!

As you would tell me later,
I was on my last leg...
One last call, one last chance
To try and crack this egg.

Finally, I gave in!
I married the boy with no socks,
And now, two kids later,
And a new last name that's full of rocks!
(that last line only makes sense if you know my married last name!)
Mama’s Losin’ It


Valentines-Schmalentines...But At Least I Made Dessert!

Can you tell how I really feel about Valentines day from the title of this post?
Sorry, it is the truth and if nothing else I do try to be honest. I don't get it - never have. I of course enjoy making Valentines...but alas that's it.
Could it be that in grade school...middle school...and even high school no boy ever gave me a Valentines? Could it be that I am a fuddy-duddy? Could it be that I am just not romantic? Hmmm....There was one Valentines Day (I was in my 20's) when two different men sent me a dozen roses...sound nice? Sound like the thing that could cure me of my Valentines heeby-jeebies?...Nope, just stressful.
So, I vote to avoid V-Day!

HOWEVER...with the kiddos I have tried to perk up a little...and be more excited about Valentines Day...craft and bake...
and hey, this year I even have their Valentines already to go!

In spite of all my complaining we actually do have a tradition...WE STAY HOME!
We do not go out on V-day - I do not like crowds (says the girl from Los Angeles) and we are cheap. Even when hubby and I were dating we did not go out. So what do we do...
(please, get the mind out of the gutter)
Order pizza and salad to-go from California Pizza Kitchen and eat at home!
That is it pretty exciting, eh?
We know how to live!

I do also make a fab dessert...S'mores-a-licious Mini Cakes
(sometimes they are not so mini)

S'mores-a-licious Mini Cakes
Click HERE for a PDF 
Makes 12+
{I had some left over chocolate...you could probably get about 15-16 mini cakes or 6 large cakes out of this recipe}

-1 1/3 cups semisweet chocolate chips
-1/4 cup butter
-1/3 cup granulated sugar
-2 large eggs
-2 teaspoon vanilla
-1 cup all-purpose flour
-2+ teaspoons cinnamon {Optional..we love cinnamon and it makes for a nice flavor!}
-6 large marshmallows, cut in half or 48 mini marshmallows
-Powdered sugar, optional

-4 Whole Graham crackers, crushed
-3 Tablespoons butter, melted

Mixing, CAKE
  1. Add the cinnamon to the flour and stir to combine.
  2. In a 3 or 4 quart sauce pan, over low heat melt the butter and chocolate chips until smooth.
  3. Remove from heat and whisk in the sugar eggs, and vanilla until well blended.
  4. Stir in flour mixture. 

Mixing, CRUST
  1. Add the melted butter to the crushed graham crackers and mix thoroughly.
Combining and Baking
  1. For the mini cakes, I used a mini muffin pan. You can use either ramekins or a large muffin tin to make larger cakes.
  2. Butter the muffin tin.
  3. Place about one teaspoon of the graham cracker mixture into each muffin cup and press down firmly to form a crust.
  4. Fill each cup about halfway full with the batter, about a heaping teaspoon of batter.
  5. Place a half or a large marshmallow or about 4 mini marshmallow in the center of each cup, pressing down into the batter slightly.
  6. Evenly divide remaining batter {about another heaping teaspoon of batter} amongst the muffin cups and spoon on top of the marshmallow, covering it.
  7. Bake in a 350 degree oven until puffed and crackly for approximately 10-12 minutes {it may take up to 15 minutes...but start checking at 10}.
  8. Let cool for 10 minutes +/-.
  9. Run knife along edges to release.
  10. Dust with powdered sugar, optional. 
Serve with a VERY cold glass of milk or vanilla ice cream! 
Or if you want to be super decadent...hot fudge sauce...
but you may have chocolate overload {is that possible?}

{They look just as good w/o powdered sugar!} 

What's Your Valentines Tradition?
How do you feel about Valentines Day?
Prompt #5 from this weeks Writers Workshop
Mama's Losin' It


Writers Workshop: Too Much?

I am always perplexed, mystified, and baffled at how we, as a family, fit so many things into our daily lives. I think about this often. I think about the activities my kiddos are in and then I think about what I did as a kid. I was able to entertain myself...I drew and drew and designed and crafted...I played one sport and did my school work. I did not have my days planned.

Joe's schedule alone keeps me on my toes: a rotation of soccer, basketball and baseball, Cub Scouts, after school classes...I cannot even tell you how happy I am to say karate is "no more" in this house. Then there is regular school work, homework, and special projects. Trying to find the time to fit in "down time" is down right difficult. I have many days when I just want to say, "Pick one thing...one activity. That is it." Then on the other hand I want them to be able to experience all they can, but is it too much?

He has asked for music lessons, but really? When? I know some of this anxiety, this pressure to fit it all in comes from me...I really wanted to take acting classes and piano lessons and a few other things when I was younger and did not. Did I miss my calling? I do not want him to miss his. I want him to experience all there is to offer in this world, but not overwhelm him at the same time.

Yesterday was a reminder (I need those every know and then) about how much fun we can have if we are all just together doing simple things at home. Of course the kids helped me sort, sand, and paint things...hey...no judging...a little diying is good for everyone! Then we made dinner together and settled down for bed. I wish for more days like this...but alas most afternoons are filled with (self-imposed) back-and-forths to a sport or activity or an errand related to a future activity.

I typically manage all of this craziness in my head, but now, as I prepare to take off next week - by myself - and leave the kids at home with hubby and my mother in law,  I have to write it down and it all comes to a head: birthday parties, baseball tryouts, basketball games (x 2 Jules plays too)...as I make a schedule I am reminded again of the complexities of our schedules...and I am reminded that I am their example.

Ultimately how do I expect my kiddos to just be when I have trouble just being - they see me blogging, crafting, running around with them, writing book proposals, making dinner, cleaning the house (sometimes), putting them to bed...they know I go to bed at 2 am. So do I think they are over scheduled?...Yes. Am I over scheduled?...Yes.  We have made these decisions , but have we gone too far? Not far enough? Where does it all stop?

I need to reteach myself in order to teach them. I need to break the cycle of constant business. I need to be able to let the kids be...just be. To play with each other to dance around the living room to Camp Rock or Taylor Swift. I need to be able to join in with them...these times will pass too quickly...they already have. I need to be able to walk away from the computer and lay on the grass and look at clouds...to walk slowly on the sand instead of carrying Jules because her little legs cannot take such big steps.

So, now I ask you...are your kids over-scheduled? Do you have a plan for this? Do you have rules for activities? I am not in over my head yet...but that is because Jules is only 3 1/2!
P.S. Now, I hesitated to write this, mainly because most of this is my own doing. I am not blind to that. So, please be kind in the comments (pretty please).

From Writer's Workshop...Prompt #3: It has been said that kids these days are pushed into too many extra-curricular activities and are not given the freedom to play and be bored and to use their imaginations. Is this true?


Possibly, Slightly DRUNK!

No, that word is not describing me! Rather that is the prompt I chose for this week's Writer's Workshop. I may have a personal story or 2...but I am not telling on myself. Instead I shall bring you a tale of love, weddings, an aunt's credit card, and too much bad beer.
Have I mentioned before that my family may be, just may be a little nuts? If you are unfamiliar, you can read about the chickens or the crazy aunts or the wedding toast. If you want to read about My-Big-Not-Supposed-To Be-Redneck Wedding, keep on going. Names have been concealed to protect EVERYONE.

My cousin C was all set to get married to a very nice girl D (yep, we all liked her). On the big day, my immediate family and I headed out to meet up with the rest of the family for a pre-ceremony gathering. We arrived at the house just as the ice chest were being packed....why you ask? What!? You have never drank Coors Light in the church parking lot? Come on now, those ceremonies are so long and tedious and unnecessary, right? (For the record, I went in the church to find a seat.)

After a round or two in the parking lot, everyone headed inside for a nice ceremony. The clan seemed to survive the ceremony unscathed (whew!)! And so on to the reception we went...that is where the fun begins for real!

First the cousins were none-to-happy that is was a cash bar...so back and forth to the car they went for the cheap beer...until Crazy Aunt M misplaced her credit card and one of the cousins found it. Can you say "The next 20 rounds are paid for?" Oh yeah, Crazy Aunt M was already DRUNK. That was the beginning of the end for most of the crew, but at this moment the bride and groom are doing well and seem happy. The groom, possibly a little DRUNK...or possibly a lot DRUNK!

The dancing begins and everyone is having a good time (sort of). My brother and his very pretty, athletic girlfriend start dancing. Up to this point I had failed to mention what she was wearing. It was not meant to be risque, but it was a fashion mistake...a lightweight ivory jumpsuit with a white thong that pretty much every dude in the place could see and had seen and made a comment about from the moment they saw it. I mean she did have a nice butt, but ick! In her defense, she was young and didn't even think about this little issue.

The party continues and my cousin...the groom...starts to flirt with her. He makes mention of her butt and how gorgeous it is (he may not have used those precise words). Finally he insists on dancing with her. She is young (and not so bright, but pretty) and says OK...to a slow dance. Beyond the fact this this was already inappropriate, he begins to fondle her see-thru-thonged-butt on the dance floor in front of everyone. 

You can imagine how happy the bride was? She grabbed him, drug him out of the room (my Dad was following close behind to make sure she did not kill him) and straight to the big-ole 4 x 4 pickup in the parking lot. In her big white dress, she drove the groom home while my Dad say between them (still to keep her from killing him) and holding my cousins head out the window to he could puke.

And they did not live happily ever after. 

Might I add in case you did not know or remember), that I was a wedding planner and if you think that is the end of my drunk wedding stories...you are wrong! It is just always more fun to relive family memories. Ah good times!

Mama's Losin' It


Did Your Gift Lay An Egg?

Those of you who have been hanging around here since last year may recognize this post. I wrote it last year around the same time. There is no GINORMOUS family Christmas for us...again...this year, so I am reliving it with this little gem of a story.

Writer's Workshop has a prompt this week, "A Gift that was not well received." Well, this is about an entire gift-giving experience...where no gift is well received.
Did Your Gift Lay An Egg?
When I dream about Christmas and family gatherings, I see perfectly wrapped packages, each selected with the utmost of care; a delicious meal; cousins, aunts and uncles greeting one another with hugs and kisses. When I arrive at the N family's Christmas Eve gathering, my reality is a far different...there are wrapped packages - not necessarily beautifully wrapped, there is food - a 6 foot burrito and oyster stew, and the cousins, aunts, and uncles are either greeted with a beer or "What the hell you been doin'?" (that's he PG version) How festive it that? Doesn't it just scream CHRISTMAS!?

Traditionally, when it was time for the gift exchange, Uncle Rocco would give each kid a silver dollar and tell them to “Stay on the straight and narrow.” (As if he had!). Then we would gather around the Christmas tree. In an attempt to prevent anyone from going broke buying presents for 50+ people, we had a rule: each family was to bring gifts for one other family. Well, that fell apart the year my aunt decided I did not need anything…explain that to an 8 year old. (yes, and that was Crazy Aunt M of the Chili Brie fame).

As we, the cousins, got older, the gift exchange wasn't working so well. In time, this tradition morphed and transformed until we were finally all able to come to an agreement...a white elephant exchange. Sounds simple...not if you are a member of my family!

Our white elephant's main rule was that the gift not be newly purchased. It could be new, but it had to be sitting-around-your-house-I-am-never-going-to-use-it-new. This worked for us. Of course there was trading..uh, stealing...of gifts, and we finally had to make up a specific rule for this as well. Oh you think I am kidding...on no less than three occasions, members of one family did not speak to members of another family for at least six months based upon the outcome of the gift exchange.

Along the way, gifts included some good, some bad, and some ugly. I once re-gifted Hilary Clinton's Book, It Takes A Village (I never read it and was not going to). The recipient was thrilled. So, see a thoughtful, useful (I guess) gift. Antique oil cans, old cameras, and boxes of hockey cards made their rounds, but then the game began to digress...or get really fun, depending on how you look at it. Over the next few years, the gifts became a mixture of half used toiletries, the contents of a junk drawer (I will admit that was me), and obscene T-shirts. Our little white elephant exchange had evolved into "Who could find the most useless or offensive gift?" 
(not my family...I bought them)

As a prelude to the best/worst-gift-ever-given at the N's Family Christmas, one year the grand finale was the rusted car door of a 1970's VW Bug. What a useful item, eh? I actually do not even remember who "won" that, but it caused a great roar and uproar!

So then next year, there had to be something bigger and better...and more useless. That night we all gathered around the tree, a tower of gifts awaited us. There were big ones, medium ones, and small ones. We picked numbers to determine order (remember rules!), and were ready to rock-n-roll! I could hear my three cousins snickering every time anyone would touch Cousin A's gift. It seemed safe...it was small...no matter what was in there, it could be easily disposed of...again it was small...how bad could it be?

Coming to the end of the exchange, we discovered Crazy Aunt M was last. And lo and behold, the only gift left is Cousin A's. She thinks about it...she could steal someone's gift and risk a family feud, or just take the small one, end the game, and go home...

She picks the small gift, and right on cue we hear "Cluck, Cluck, Cluck" and a chicken races into the family room - no, we do not live in the country (this is L.A. baby!), no this was not a pet...yes this was the gift...a live chicken. All I can say it that at least it was alive.

So, tell me...did you ever give or get a gift that was not well received?
Merry Clucking Christmas!
Join the fun at Primitive and Proper's
Funniest or Worst Gift Ever Linky Party

Mama's Losin' It


Living Bold!

Back in my heyday of designing clothing, I briefly worked for a company that designed resort wear...just so ya know, back then that was code for appliques and rhinestones (I am pretty sure I have see similar items on The Real Housewives of Orange County). I used to make fun of it, but it was a job. Some of the items were fine, but all of them had to be BOLD - nothing sweet, small or demure. BIG appliques, lots of BLING, and shoulder pads galore.

I, of course, was oh-so-chic in my fashionable uniform - black turtleneck, short black skirt, opaque black Donna Karan tights (I swear by them still) and black high heels. It was the 90's so there was usually one big piece of jewelry -  a necklace or earrings to add some flair. I always wondered, "What I was doing there?" Why would people design this? Why would people wear this? Don't they know it is brash and BOLD and you can be seen from space?

Then it hit me...I used to be BOLD. In junior high and high school, I wore fluorescent outfits that were perfectly paired. I owned 5 pairs of rhinestoned boots (better known as "jeweled witchy shoes"), and 2 pairs of fringed and studded boots. My denim jackets were decked out in colored jewels. My colors made you take notice. I was BOLD and I enjoyed it.

Eventually, the oh-so-chic uniform of the 90's evolved into a trousers and smart blouses...and then capris and t-shirts... and then jeans and sweaters (cute ones of course)...and now...finally, sort of - a pending resurgence of fun and flirty and flashy. I am breaking out the jewelry again (before Jules commandeers it all), buying cute jeans, and am drawn to color and sparkle...and it makes me feel good (I so should have been a rhinestone cowgirl!)...And you  know what I see in my future...gemstones, rhinestones, appliques, and possibly shoulder pads (they make your waist look smaller, don't they?). I have another shot at being BOLD, after all I still own a bedazzeler!

Are you bold? If so, how? If not, why?

Mama's Losin' It
This week the prompts were inspired by words...Simple; Angsty; Excruciating; Enchanted; Bold.


"Can You Write?"...The Story of How I Became a Writer

Over at Writers Workshop, one of the prompts today is "What inspires you to write?" Well, I am not sure how to answer that...I still am not sure I consider myself to be a writer - it was never in  my plans, never even a thought, but here I am, 6+ (non-fiction) books later. A couple of months ago, my agent asked me to share the story of how I parlayed my area of expertise into writing. This is the post that appeared on the agents blog.
"Can You Write?"
I am a planner….that is what I do. I went to school and landed my dream job as a fashion designer…I was set…I had it planned out. I knew my path. Writing was NEVER a part of my plan. I never had any intention of writing anything. It found me.

In fact my first foray into the publishing world was an accident of sorts…a 7 am phone call from an acquaintance jolted me out of bed with the simple question  “Can you write?” To which I carefully replied…”I got an A in English.” Little did I know this phone call would send me down a path I never expected.

In an instant, I became an accidental author. My very first book deal was as co-author of a book titled “The 100 Careers in Fashion and Modeling,” and I solely got that gig because I was in fashion, was knowledgeable about the business…and could write. It did not happen because I was brilliant. It did not happen because I got that A in English. It happened because I parlayed my expertise in my career into a tangible idea.

Soon after this writing experience, I married and used my status as a recent bride to explore a new area of expertise. This led to a second book, one about wedding planning from a bride’s perspective.  Taking this all one step further, I veered off my plan again and switched careers. I was now a wedding planner. I embraced all things wedding and set out to parlay my experiences and knowledge of weddings into writing. I had already seen what happened when I presented my self as an expert in one field…this same idea could easily be parlayed into another field and into subsequent books.

So, how did I do this twice? First I established myself as an expert in my field…and yes, that meant volunteering for some things….I spoke at bridal seminars, I edited small bridal publications, I wrote small articles (for free), and I made myself available to professional organizations to speak and to be a part of their professional meetings. All of this helped spread my name and establish me as a go-to wedding gal. Not only did this help my “new” career as a wedding planner, but also it strengthened my role as a writer, and subsequently author of multiple wedding books.

Do I mean go out and volunteer and give your precious time away for free, not for the long haul…but you have to plan and work to establish yourself as an expert in any field and to gain the credentials you need to make the publishers believe you are the one who knows the most about your chosen subject. Find professional organizations that cater to the client, the reader you want to reach and offer your knowledge.

Of course you may not be the only looking for this route to authorship, so you also need to know who else is out there writing books in your market – what are there credentials? Are they better than yours? Do you need to improve yours? Continuing to educate yourself in your field, as well as making yourself available and accessible to those who can benefit from your particular field of expertise will establish you as an expert and just may lead to the many opportunities that are out there waiting for you.
So, that's it...my story.
I am inspired, still, to write about weddings to reach out to brides and offer my expertise and insight. I am also inspired to write about what my daily life consists of now - kids, cooking, crafts, whatever! I truly want to dive into the fiction realm - that stretches my comfort zone, but it makes me question my talents - but I want to, need to, give it a shot.
So...What inspires you?

Mama's Losin' It

Don't forget, go check out some cool holiday traditions at Elizabeth's place.
I am visiting over there today!



A smile,
sometimes hard to crack
on this busy face...
constant motion,
always wondering,
"What's next?"
surround me.
For time to just be.

The moments,
big and small,
happy and sad,
easy and complicated.
Moving on fast forward.
I watch my loves,
my babies.
They giggle,
hold hands,
love each other.
There is no better time
to stop and smile
and savor the sweet sounds
of "I love you Mama."
Because there is no rewind.

Still there?
This was inspired by a wonderful time my kiddos and I had on the beach collecting sea glass. The waves were crashing, there was amazement and wonder in their voices and questions. We were connected to each other.
It made me smile.
Thanks for indulging me.
That is my stab at Writer's Workshop for the week -
stepping out of my comfort zone!
I figured covered my coffee consumption
and my feelings of burnout last week with I Confess.
Enter to win a Moen Faucet
{like the one below in chrome}
Click HERE for the giveaway post!