Sunday, May 15, 2011

One of my favs

Remember me?!

It's been a while, but I'm still here.

Mama’s Losin’ It

This week, Mama Kat has some good writing prompts. I chose prompt #5: List ten favorite things about one of your favorite people.

See if you can guess which favorite person I am writing to.

#1. You are the first person to notice when I'm having a bad day and do your best to make me happier.

#2. You are a role model for your peers in many, many ways.

#3. Your heart is true, full of compassion especially for people less fortunate than us.

#4. You do everything with 100% of yourself.

#5. You have eye lashes longer than anyone I've ever seen.

#6. You are so stinkin' smart!

#7. You are always honest.

#8. You took your baptism very seriously and truly understood the importance of it.

#9. You are the kind of friend everyone wants to have.

#10. You never give up.

Have you figured it out yet?

It's my 10 year old son, Lucas.

Love you, Bud!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

It drives him NUTS

I love Mama Kat's Writer's Workshop! Here's this week's prompt:

Mama’s Losin’ It

Something you do that drives your significant other CRAZY.

That's easy.


I guess I haven't adequately explained to him how much I enjoy all aspects of it.

Obviously the act of writing and creatively expressing myself are appealing to me. I guess it's kind of like having a diary or journal as a kid. Blogging is a way to get those feelings out.

The whole reason I started blogging was to document our lives. Honestly, I cannot wait to turn my blog into a book or books. I hope my kids will look back through it and recall all the good memories they had growing up.

And who knew I'd love creating cute headers and little blog buttons. It's like coloring for adults! And those plug-ins and widgets? I thrive on figuring all of those things out.

But when I try to explain all of those things to Alex, he would still rather me spend my time doing other things.

How about you? Does your spouse support your blogging? How do you handle it?

Friday, March 18, 2011

The test.

This week's Red Writing Hood assignment is to write - fiction or non-fiction - about a time when you took a detour. Where had you intended to go and where did you end up?

As soon as I read this prompt, I knew exactly what I would write about. It's my true story.

We had been dating about 4 months and were completely in love.

Alex & I discussed moving in together once I finished teaching that school year. We hadn't figured out where just yet since I lived in Chicago and Alex lived in Danville.

I told my roommates about my plans to live with Alex.

Then Alex took a Harley trip all the way to Daytona.

I was so worried about him. Riding a motorcycle across the country didn't sound very safe to me.

The 3rd day Alex was in Florida I told him that my period was a few days late and showed no signs of making its appearance.

When he eventually made it back safe & sound a few days later my period still hadn't come.

I was scared.

No, terrified.

I couldn't believe I was actually buying a pregnancy test.

I took it with me when I went to see Alex that weekend.

Alex tried his best to reassure me that we weren't pregnant, and that we would be okay if we were pregnant.

So first thing in the morning I meticulously followed the instructions of the pregnancy test and laid down with Alex for the longest 5 minutes of my life.

Tick, tick, tick.

We didn't say much. Just stared at the walls.

Tick, tick, tick.

What would I say anyway?

Tick, tick, tick.

Finally it came time to see the results.

I had left the pregnancy test in the bathroom and didn't want to go look.

Alex inevitably got up and walked into the bathroom.

He said nothing. Not one sound or word. Absolutely nothing.

I knew what that silence meant, but I had to see for myself.

So I took deep breath and walked into the bathroom. I saw Alex standing there, still and silent just staring at the test on the counter.

I took a few more steps and stood next to him.

I looked down.

And saw two pink lines.

I was pregnant.

In that moment my mind went blank.

This was not the plan.

This was not the plan!


If the current 35 year old Jill would have told that scared to death 24 year old Jill how things end up, I don't think she would have believed herself.

That detour 11 years ago? Yeah, it was the best thing that ever happened to me. Because now Alex & I are married with 3 kids and loving life.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

My own boutique

Prompt #3.) I often daydream about…

Mama’s Losin’ It

Having my own store.

Bags by Jill has been in my basement for 4 years now.

It's usually a big mess because personal stuff gets mixed in with the business stuff. And I have a small space to work in.

I try my best to keep things organized, but it's not easy. At all.

A revamped ribbon rack has helped a ton!

But what I picture in my head is...

A wall of ribbons - about 10 times bigger than what I have now.

That room is filled with fabrics, large tables, cutting boards, and cutting tools. The fabrics would be on bolts just like in fabric stores, because this is the easiest way to store them while easily cut them too.

Next to that room would be a room with a nice, big embroidery machine and all the thread & tools needed for embroidering.

The sewing would all take place in a room next to the embroidery room. I imagine 3 machines with nicely organized, easy to access thread, rulers, fabric pencils, scissors and more.

These 3 rooms would all have an iron & ironing board in them. (Nobody ever told me ironing was such a big part of sewing.) I wouldn't necessarily need 3 different rooms - 1 huge room would work too.

But there would also be a front room for the customers. This is were I would display large fabric & ribbon swatches. I would also have many products ready to sell, shown on shelves & display units. Like a small boutique with a handful of employees.

I would also need an office. We can't forget about the accounting/bookkeeping part of it!

Can you picture it too? Anyone what to give me a few $100,000 to make my dream come true? Anyone? Anyone?

I girl can dream, right?

Monday, March 14, 2011

Pour some sugar on it

Growing up I remember going to local strawberry patches with my mom & 2 sisters.

The fields were usually soggy and muddy, sometimes suctioning our shoes right into the ground.

Google image

Then there was inevitably the all-too-swishy strawberry. As soon as I touched it, I immediately dropped it to the ground because it was rotten. I would scream and refuse to pick any more.

But eventually I did pick more. Usually only the strawberries from the top of the plant. Until I picked up one with a spider on it.

Without fail, by the time we finished in the field my younger sister's face would be completely red. Who knows how many strawberries she ate while we were out there.

Once home, we (meaning my mom) cleaned the berries and our dirty feet and hands.

Google image

Before my mom even had a chance to cut the stems off, we each had our own bowl of strawberries. Just good ole, plain strawberries.

Right next to 3 bowls of sugar! One for each of us.

Nobody had to teach me the most effective way to get tons of sugar on my strawberries. The inside wetness was perfect for sticking the grainy sugar to the scrumptious strawberries. Those second and third bites were the best!

It's a tradition I've passed onto my own children. Even though sometimes Blake asks for just a bowl of sugar!

This week, we'd like for you to write about your favorite fresh fruit or vegetable.

Friday, March 11, 2011

The fall

I'm not going to lie.

It wasn't pretty. Honestly, it was down right ugly.

Last year she fell down the stairs.


Debbie was at work when she slipped. And as usual she was multitasking; talking on her cell phone, carrying an armful of files, and trying to find her keys in her purse.

The poor woman really doesn't know how it happened. But before she knew it, Debbie was face up looking at a blizzard of papers flying around the room.

"Holy crap! Did anyone see that? Can they see my underwear?" were her first thoughts.

And her shoulder hurt. "How the heck did I hurt my shoulder? Sheesh!"

As she made her way back to her feet, the last of the papers finally landed.

Debbie scanned the area. She was looking for her phone and praying nobody was nearby to witness her nasty faux pas.

But she wasn't that lucky. A man was coming her way and obviously knew what just happened.

Debbie quickly avoided eye contact, still visually searching for her phone.

"Are you okay?" asked the man as he picked up & handed over her iPhone.

She had to suck it up & look him in the eyes at that point. She was mortified. Humiliated. Completely embarrassed.

But the man was a real gentleman and helped her gather everything together. As they did so, they chatted to fill the awkward silence, and Debbie learned his name was John.

Within a few minutes the chit-chat turned to giggles. Debbie had to laugh at herself. And after John knew that she was fine, he couldn't help but laugh too.

The two were there for quite some time. And once Debbie had all of her things, John walked her to her car. They stood there talking until Debbie had to go. But before John let her drive away, he asked for her phone number.

So you see, had it not been for that brutal fall, Debbie & John would never have met.

:: That was the story of how John & Debbie met. That story was also the Maid of Honor speech I gave at Debbie & John's wedding last night.

This week's assignment is to write a short piece, either fiction or non-fiction, about something ugly - and find the beauty in it.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

She left me speechless

This week, Mama Kat offered 5 awesome prompts. I could think of good stories for most of these:

1.) Write about a time a friend left you speechless.
2.) What would it take for you to pick up and move?
3.) A memorable neighbor.
4.) Write a poem about that time you were left behind.
5.) A song with significance.

So I'm going to start from the top today and save the rest to use later on.

Mama's Losin' It

Write about a time a friend left you speechless.

Immediately, one moment comes to mind....

I was in college, so I was probably 19 years old.

A group of us were out one night. There were maybe 5 or 6 of us.

We had been drinking (but I have no clue who got us our beer). Being the sneaky girls that we were, we poured our beer into empty McDonald's cups.

We ended up at a bowling alley. This was not something we normally did, but we had a blast. I was not the DD and was feeling pretty tipsy.

Two of us went to the bathroom, because teen age girls can't seem to ever go to the bathroom alone, right?

As we were finishing up and washing our hands, my friend sat up on the counter. She said, "I have to tell you something."

I was smiling & giggling from drinking the contents of my McDonald's cup, and I naively said, "Okay. What?"

"I had an abortion."

~~~ buzz kill~~~

I was speechless. I thought I knew this person but evidently I did not.

"My boyfriend & I went out of town last month & had it done. I wanted to tell you, but I knew I wouldn't have enough nerve unless we were drinking," she said.

Still, I stood in silence. All I could do was give her a hug.

I can't remember what was said next or even how we awkwardly left the restroom to rejoin our friends. I was so blown away with her news!

We never mentioned it again, and our relationship was never the same.

I have still, to this day, never told another person.

Remember my The "A" word post? I wonder how my friend feels about her decision now, 15 years later.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Christmas 1997

Family is so important to me, and back in 1997 for Christmas break, I returned home from college.

I was 21, a few months away from graduating, and life was great.

With a total of 6 kids between my mom & step-dad, the house was chaotic, loud, and so much fun! I always looked forward to coming home for the holidays.

By the time I got home, my older sister & her boyfriend were already there.

I put my bags down & popped open up a beer. I barely sat down at the table when my sister smiled and lifted up her left hand, palm facing her so that I could see the beautiful engagement ring on her ring finger! I couldn't get to her fast enough and nearly spilled my beer trying to dive across the table.

Oh! It was such an exciting time!

Many of us invited our boyfriend/girlfriend over to celebrate the holiday with our family which led to seating 14 people at our dinner table.


Some of us had to sit at the corner of the dinning room table on old rusty folding chair. The last ones to the table got the shaft. It was great!

Dinner conversation turned towards crazy stories from my step-brother who was still in college. Interesting how things always seemed to happen to him when he was completely innocent. We didn't buy it for a second.

My younger sister was the youngest of our herd and became an easy target for teasing. It was a role she didn't initially like, but over the past 6 years since being a blended family, she accepted the part as a symbol of love.

That was the last Christmas before we 'kids' started getting married. In 1997 we ranged in ages from 19 - 26.

We were all young adults.

We were all equals.

We were all in transitions in our lives.

We were all not-yet parents.

Between 1997 and 2000 marked a great time in our large family.
In the year 2000, we had 2 babies join us for Christmas. By 2010, we had 8.

Imagine you are meeting someone for the first time. You want to tell them about yourself.

Instead of reciting a laundry list of what you do or where you're from, please give us a scene from your life that best illustrates your true self.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

The River

Every other weekend was their time to be together. Sam hated the custody agreement. Four days a month wasn't enough time for him to be with his teenage son, Justin.

But that day, the two of them were spending the day fishing with friends.

Some guys at school had told Justin about a hot spot along the river just outside of town. Sam & Justin usually fished in ponds, and the river wasn't a place they were familiar with. But they were excited to try something new.

Google image

The guys didn't waste any time once they got to 'the spot.' Hooks were baited. Lines were cast. Life was good. It nice for them to just hang out.

Everyone was standing barefoot in the shallow water.

It had rained the day before, and the river's current was strong.

They were only a few feet into the water, and Sam was standing right beside Justin.

Then Justin walked a little further into the water & stepped off of a sudden drop-off. In less than a split second, Justin was down in the water.

Sam felt Justin grab for his legs, but the current was too strong.

Justin was gone.

Water gives life. It also takes it away. Write a short piece - fiction or non-fiction - inspired by one or both of these statements.

*Unfortunately, this story was loosely inspired by a true story that happened last year here in town.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Is she you?

I am really excited about today's post!

Today's red writing hood post should be no more than 600 words and should take no longer than 3 minutes to read aloud. And a character MUST tell a joke and a character MUST cry. One character can do both.

She loved being a stay at home mom to her 3 kids.

The kids never had to worry about who was getting them from place to place; it was always her. She was the one person the kids could always count on to meet their needs.

They usually had a good time.

All 4 of them agreed that one thing was not fun - shopping.

But it had to be done as a group during summer break.

Half way through the trip to the grocery store everyone was still behaving. Whew!

She heard Megan ask her brothers What did the tree name her baby? Jake shrugged his shoulders and said in his cute 4 year old voice I don't know.

Woody! Megan blurted out.

Jake thought that was pretty cool since Toy Story 3 was his favorite movie.

As they giggled, their mother smiled and thought Okay just 3 more things and we'll be out of here with no melt downs or drama.

The few items remaining on the list were in the produce section. She just wanted to grab some grapes, potatoes, and lettuce.

Yes! It's always so nice when the kids behave in the store. Maybe I'll let them pick out a little something in the checkout line. Wow my life has changed since staying home with these guys. Who would've thought a trip to the store could make or break my da-

Her train of thought was broken by the thud of something or somethings hitting the ground.

Marcus (the 10 year old) was scolding Jake for touching the apples. Megan chimed in saying Oh my gosh, Jake! Why did you do that?!

Jake's face said it all with the big bottom lip and the huge crocodile tears. He knew this was bad.

He managed to whisper I justed wanted some apples.

She took a deep breath and tried not to worry about everyone staring at them. Well, we have to buy these now, she said while scooping the busted apples up into a produce bag.

The older two kids kept scolding, which wasn't helpful. She tried to keep cool while she gave them 'the look.'

She got down to Jake's level. This is why we don't touch things in the store, right Jake?

He was beyond embarrassed & buried his wet face in her neck. She heaved him up and ordered Marcus & Megan to grab the grapes & lettuce. The potatoes could wait.

They moved as quickly as possible to the checkout line.

*Heavy sigh* So much for a drama-free shopping trip.


After taking part in the #trdc Twitter party Wednesday evening, I was all kinds of inspired to write this post. Thanks girls!

Word count: 511

Feel free to critique if you want to. I have never done any 'writing' before The Red Dress Club, so be gentle. =)

I could never have imagined...

I could never have imagined a more emotional day.

Really it started out like most days. I was in a hurry to get to work, and traffic was horrendous. The smell of exhaust always made me feel sick to my stomach. Or maybe it was my nerves that morning.

That was the biggest day of my career. It was all on my shoulders to seal the deal with IBM.

We needed that deal. The bad economy had been brutal on us, and without that account we would have had to do some serious down-sizing.

We weren't a large company by any means. And I had become good friends with so many of the women I worked with.

I didn't want to see any of them, or myself, go.

A few of us grabbed a quick lunch, but I was too nervous to eat much. Once back at the office I looked over my notes one last time then started the proposal.

Things seemed to go well. IBM was very receptive to my ideas. And at the end of the meeting they accepted my offer!

That was huge! It was great for the company. And of course for me too.

After work several of us went out to celebrate. I loved having those women in my life. They were pretty much the onlypeople in my life.

To be surrounded by such amazing friends at that point was too overwhelming to hold it in. As things sometimes went after a few drinks, I teared up & got emotional.

We continued to talk & laugh & have a good time.

Eventually most of my friends needed to get home, and it was just me and Janet.

Janet was older than me, 17 years older to be exact. But she was my best friend.

When my parents were killed 3 years earlier, Janet was the one friend I could call any time of day. We knew everything about each other.

As the two of us sat in the booth Janet got quiet. I asked her what was bothering her.

She was obviously nervous.

I reassured her that no matter what was on her mind, I would be there for her. Besides, I was still on such a high from making the IBM deal I could handle anything.

Janet took a deep breath. "I am your birth mother."

Then the whole world shifted.


This week's prompt is to write a piece that begins with the line, "I could never have imagined" and ends with the line, "Then the whole world shifted."

My immediate thought was to write about my BFF Lori who passed away 1 1/2 years ago.

But I wanted this to a happy "world shift."

I also wanted to write fiction. It's a bigger challenge for me.

I wanted to do something different than most people. I figured they would write about having a baby, 9/11, or getting bad medical news.

...the rest of the story

Starting from where we left off last week...*

"What?" is all I could say.

I felt dizzy, like the world was collapsing in on me.

Janet apologized for just blurting it out like that, but she didn't know how else to say it.

"So, how long have you known, um.., that I was your daughter?" Those words sounded so strange as they came out of my mouth, like someone else was speaking from within me.

How was I asking my best friend this question?

Janet explained that she had always known. It was an open adoption until I turned 3. Then there was no more direct contact between us, but she continued to keep track of my whereabouts & achievements thanks to newspaper articles and the internet.

For the first 3 years of my life, I had monthly visits with Janet. She told me that the 1st Sunday of every month was her favorite day of the month. It was a time for her to see that she had indeed made the right decision. And she cherished the photos of those visits. They were among her most precious possessions, keeping them in a locked safe in her bedroom closet.

Janet was only 17 years old and still in high school when I was born. Her boyfriend got scared and left when he found out she was pregnant. Thank God her parents were incredibly supportive of her choice.

All of that information was getting to be too much for me.

I needed some air. And time to process everything.

I was an huge mess of emotions.

I didn't want to hurt her feelings, but I just couldn't understand why Janet chose that evening to reveal the secret.

So when she joined me a few minutes later, I came right out and asked her.

Janet apologized again and said she hadn't planned on doing it that night. She told me that she was so proud of my hard work, that she just couldn't keep it a secret any longer.

Ironically all I could think was: I want my mom!

But Janet was my best friend, and she was the only other person I would honestly confide in.

As I stood there watching Janet I soon smiled & couldn't stop smiling. I became excited; joyful; relieved. This was really happening!

After many hugs & tears, I told her that I would love to see those pictures.

Even though I'd done it hundreds of times before, it felt strange entering Janet's house that night. I looked at things from a completely different perspective now.

But it was good.

I sat on Janet's bed as she found the pictures in her safe. She sat down next to me and shared the stories that went along with every picture.

She told me to take some of them home with me. Then Janet returned the rest of them to her safe. As she started to close the door, she spotted something in the back. She didn't recognize it until she took it out.

She wondered how she forgot it was back there.

When she joined me back on the bed, I saw the tiny little pink sleeper in her hands. I looked up at her & she had tears in her eyes.

It was the sleeper she gave my parents when I was born. It was the outfit I wore home from the hospital.

After a long hug, Janet told me that she wasn't letting me have it! And we shared a big, stress relieving belly laugh.

As strange as it was initially, knowing that Janet was my biological mother ended up being a wonderful thing. I had the best of both worlds in Janet. My biological mother was my best friend. Not many birth mother reunions turn out as perfect as this one.

*This is a completely fictional story.

Write a piece - 600 word limit - about finding a forgotten item of clothing in the back of a drawer or closet. Let us know how the item was found, what it is, and why it's so meaningful to you or your character.

Oops! Word count: 688.

I struggle with switching tenses a lot.

Any tips? Thanks ladies.

Friday, January 28, 2011

I prefer the other kind of blizzard

This week's Red Writing Hood prompt is: You are trapped (alone or with others) in a single location during the fury and/or aftermath of a blizzard of historic proportions. Keep the post under 1,000 words.

Lucas was a worrier my nature, and I knew he was scared. He kept his eyes on the white line, never blinking I'm sure.

When the south bound interstate traffic came to a 2 lane stand still, I realized I had made a mistake.

We shouldn't have tried to make it home. We were in the middle of nowhere. 10 miles away from the nearest exit in either direction.

Google image

I called Alex to let him know we were stopped. While I was on the phone I heard the sound of sirens, but Lucas & I couldn't see the source of the sound through the blizzard.

The ambulance finally passed us, but it quickly went out of sight again. I could only see as far as the SUV in front of us.

As time passed, Lucas really had to go. Bad. But we had nothing for him to go in. So as he opened the door of the truck, I reminded him to put his back to the fierce wind.

He slipped. But somehow didn't fall.

It was simply too cold and too difficult to 'go' and he got back in the truck.

Poor kid.

A few minutes later, a police officer came around to all the vehicles & told us to turn around because the interstate was closed in our direction.

I immediately called home & told Alex to get on-line to find some hotels in the nearest town. As I drove back in the direction I just came from, I couldn't see 5 feet in front of me.

Lucas was absolutely quite. He was staring at the fog line again, making sure I didn't go into the ditch.

We finally made it to the exit. Along with the 200+ other people from I-57.

Alex called & said the 3 hotels in the small town were all booked.


The only option was to get a room in the next town which was 13 miles north. So Alex booked a room for us while Lucas & I finally got something to eat (and go pee).

Ever so slowly, we followed a caravan of vehicles and actually made it to the hotel. Enter choir of angels singing!

We enjoyed the comfort of a warm comfortable room, relieved to be safe.

The next day, we traversed the still icy & snow blown interstate and made it home at last.

The whole reason for our travel (an amazing 4th grade basketball tournament) was completely overshadowed by the blizzard.

* So my "single location" was a truck. Is that cheating?

** This is actually a true story. Except it was Alex with Lucas instead of me. It's an experience I hope we don't have to repeat. Ever.

*** Word count = 491. Really? That's it? Hm.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Pass the what?

"You heard me. Pass the fruit pectin," the old man said to the teenage boy on the public bus.

The boy looked around, making sure the old man was talking to him. But instead of seeing people riding the bus, he saw giant strawberries sitting in the seats which didn't seem strange to him.

When the boy looked back, the old man was gone. The bus hadn't made any stops. He had just disappeared.

The next thing the teenager knew, he was singing Pour Some Sugar On Me - a song that was popular before he was even born - while cooking. He was adding citric acid to corn syrup in his grandmother's house. But not her current house. The house she lived in when he was a toddler.

As he did this, his 3rd grade teacher walked through the kitchen and said, "Oh sweeite. Be careful, you know how bad that high fructose corn syrup is for you, right?"

All of this seemed completely natural to him.

Until he woke up.

What's in your pantry? For this week's prompt, grab something out of your pantry and write a short piece - using all the words in the ingredients. It can be fiction or non-fiction, poetry or prose. My item was Smucker's Strawberry Jam.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Cuz it sounded like fun

When I read this prompt, I knew it would be fun!

Here it is...

"Your assignment is to write a short piece - fiction, non-fiction, poetry, whatevs - in which each sentence starts with a the next letter of the alphabet. Starting with "A." So, yes, your finished product will consist of 26 sentences."

Another day started out with big grey clouds & strong, steady snow. "Blah!" thought Erin. "Can we just have 1 day without snow?"

Don't get her started about the weather. Ever since she moved to Chicago she's had a hard time adjusting to it. For as long as she can remember she has hated the cold. Go figure she'd end up in a city with brutal winters.

How did a country girl from Texas end up in Chicago? It had to be fate, because she always thought she'd live where it was warm.

Jake had proposed a year ago, and the wedding was only a few weeks away. Keeping up with everything had become stressful for Erin. Leaving her family & friends to move to Chicago was hard. Making the long trip back to Texas for the wedding was what kept her focussed. Nobody ever doubted that the wedding would take place in her hometown.

On her way to work, Erin couldn't help but be distracted with her thoughts of the wedding. Particularly thinking about the reception. Quaint wasn't her style. Rowdy, fun, & lots of dancing was what she wanted.

Soon her last day of work was over, and she & Jake made their way to Texas. This day seemed so far away last year! Upon landing, Erin was greeted my her sister, mother, and father.

Various groups of friends showed up for the big event. When it was time for the dance, everyone knew it would be a great time. Xerox copies of pictures would be made for sure! YouTube videos from the wedding will probably be seen around the world! Zimbabwe too!

Whew! I did it! It got kind of tricky there at the end, but I think it worked. I can't wait to read everyone else's post.