The Monster in Every Writer’s Head

UPDATED (on October 19, 2014): This post was originally published in June as a submission for the ‘Writing Contest: Overcoming Writer’s Doubt’ held by Positive Writer, and I’m thrilled to say it was awarded 2nd place!

You know how under every kid’s bed is a monster? Well, I’ll let you in on a little secret. In every writer’s head exists a monster, too. I’m talking about that hairy, slimy and drooling creature that taps you on the shoulder with its sharp claws as you type. It’s the one that snarls and stares down at you with its two – or three – googly eyes when you finish a blog post, an article or a book. It’s the monster that was conceived in a corner of your mind, then grew and grew to the point that it began crowding out all the good thoughts in your head.

Do you recognize this monster yet? If not, let me introduce it to you.

Please click here to read the rest of the post!

I chose Francesca Battistelli’s song, “Free To Be Me” for this post. I love how the lyrics talk about battling perfection and doubt, and ultimately believing in how God sees you.

What doubts have you faced in your life and how have you overcome them?

Dear Mama with the Screaming Kid at Target

Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici/freedigitalphotos.net

Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici/freedigitalphotos.net

Dear Mama with the Screaming Kid at Target,

I heard the high-pitched screaming from across the store, and before I reached the cosmetics section where you and your red-faced son were, I felt for you. I didn’t even get a chance to see your face because you were likely hiding out in the aisle a few feet from your child while he threw the loudest, “I hate you, Mom!” fit, but I can tell you that we are kindred spirits. I have been in your shoes oh so many (way too many!) times before. I know how much you wished you could disappear into a dark, soundproof hole, or at least have the ability to instantly teleport you and your son back home, away from glaring eyes. I understand what it feels like to have people stare and whisper behind your back (or sometimes in front of it) about what a bad kid your child is and what a bad parent you are.

I’m here to tell you …

I get you.

You’re not alone.

I’m working on that teleporting machine and will let you know when it’s ready (kidding, haha).

But seriously, I want you to know that I am not here to judge you. If I could have, I would have given you a kind smile and a reassuring hug. I would have let you cut in front of me at the checkout line so you could have exited the store quicker. I would have called out to you above your son’s roaring that, “This too shall pass!”

Because that is what I hoped other people would have done for me when I was that totally frazzled mom with the two screaming kids at Bed, Bath and Beyond a few years ago. Or most recently, when I was that nearly-in-tears mom with the screaming kid (who was overtired and over-hungry) who just wanted to have a nice lunch out at a restaurant.

Even though I didn’t get a chance to talk with you, I hope you are having a much better day today than yesterday. I hope you had a good cry or a warm cup of tea or a hot bath and feel a little less drained and a lot less defeated. I hope you have family or friends you were able to vent to and receive comfort from.

Most of all, I hope you know that all those bad days you have as a parent will eventually fade from your memory and be replaced by better ones as your child grows up.

Till the next time we meet again at Target.

Sincerely yours,

The Other Mama with the Screaming Kid

I think Daniel Powter’s song, “Bad Day” is the perfect song for this post. 😉

What do you do when someone you care about has a bad day?

The Preschool Days Are Over!

Yesterday marked the end of an era for our family. The end of driving the same ten minute route to a local church. The end of hubby signing in at drop off time and me signing out at pick up time (and sometimes forging hubby’s signature if he forgot to sign in that morning). The end of checking cubbies and coming home with an armful of glittery, dirt-y (literally dirt glued onto paper), and sequin-y artwork, which ends up leaving a trail of glitter, dirt and sequins in the car, on our bodies and throughout the house.

Yes, people, we have come to the end of PRESCHOOL!

(Insert cheers and hip hip hoorays!)

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C graduated from pre-K yesterday. We watched our baby and her classmates perform eight songs, recite two Bible verses, and walk across the stage to receive their diplomas (which she later realized with some disappointment was only a blank piece of paper rolled up and tied with a ribbon). We celebrated this first major educational milestone in her life with lunch out afterwards at one of her favorite restaurants and dessert at a frozen yogurt shop. I came home happy and full and grateful for a wonderful preschool, loving teachers and the knowledge that we now have two elementary school aged kids.

What?! How did that happen?

In between all the excitement of yesterday’s graduation, I have to admit I almost got a little teary eyed. I remember feeling proud and amazed when E graduated preschool two years ago, but not sad. So why was I feeling all emo about C graduating? I think simply because she is the baby of the family. And that means all the “firsts” that our family experiences with E – first preschool graduation, first day of kindergarten, etc.- will be the last “firsts” that we experience with C. Now that C is done with preschool, there will not be another preschool graduation for us to attend. When she starts kindergarten in the fall, that will be the last first day of kindergarten for us to commemorate. And all these final “firsts” just reinforce the fact that childhood is passing us by!

Not too long ago I took the munchkins to the mall on a Sunday afternoon; we were trying to kill a few hours while waiting for hubby to return from a business trip. As we were walking around we heard the sounds of a train chugging along behind us and saw that they were offering rides around the mall’s first floor. E asked if we could ride it and my first thought was, How much will this kiddie ride cost? and my second thought was, Who cares how much it is! Let’s do it! We lined up at the train stop, paid for the insanely expensive tickets ($3 per person!), and hopped into a yellow “cage” like we were circus animals. The electric train took off at a very slow pace (good thing cause I wanted to get my money’s worth, haha) and we enjoyed the ten minute ride with smiles on our faces.

In those ten minutes I realized this might be one of the last times the kids will want to ride this train. They are both nearing the age when the things that used to interest and excite them don’t any longer. Their limbs are getting long and lean and they are thinking more deeply and and asking more complicated questions. And someday soon it won’t be preschool graduations that we’ll be attending, it will be middle school and high school ones.

Sigh! It’s so ironic that I used to wait eagerly for them to grow up, but now that they are, I’m wishing time would slow down. 🙂

So here’s to all you parents with young ones. I know the days can be LONG, but the years are certainly short. Savor those days on the playground and those kiddie train rides while you can. I know I will … starting with today, the first day of summer vacation.

(Insert groans and choruses of “Mom, I’m bored!”)

With preschool being over, I’m reminded of the song, “Dog Days Are Over“, sung here by Pentatonix. Enjoy!

What kiddie things are your kids outgrowing that you find yourself missing?

Multi-tasking = An Overtaxed Brain

There comes a point in your life (likely when you’ve reached the summit of the proverbial hill) when you start diagnosing your own medical issues. This happened to me about a month ago when I began doing research (aka. googling) on some of the “symptoms” I seemed to be exhibiting. I brought up my suspicions with my doctor at a routine check-up and this was the gist of our conversation …

Me: “I think my thyroid levels might be low. Is that what’s causing my high cholesterol, slight weight gain in the past year and my fuzzy brain? I have a hard time remembering simple words that I want to use.”

Doc (with a matter-of-fact look): “No, your levels are normal. Your brain is probably just overtaxed. It happens a lot to people who multi-task, like women. We try to take care of the house, a job, the kids, etc. It’s a lot for your brain to juggle.”

Hmm. No kidding.

I came away from that appointment a bit relieved that my hormones were in sync (though disappointed that I now had to blame my weight gain on the extra sweets I had been eating, haha), but also concerned that I might never get my brain back to normal. Because I’ll be the first one to admit that I am great at multi-tasking. I’m talking about being able to nurse a newborn and cut a napping toddler’s hair at the same time. Being able to listen – and absorb – most of what two little individuals are simultaneously telling me and have an answer for both of them. Simply put, I’m a “doing a load of laundry while cooking dinner while wiping a child’s bottom while opening the mail while crafting my next article in my head while feeding the pet guinea pigs while unloading the dishwasher” kind of multi-tasker. (All you moms out there know I’m only slightly exaggerating!)

Even though I may pride myself on being able to do a bazillion things at once, I have to say the time has come when I’m starting to question whether or not I really want to be a chicken. You know the one I’m talking about – the chicken running around with its head cut off. That’s not a pretty image to conjure up, literally or figuratively.

Couldn't find a picture of a headless chicken running, so this will have to do! :)

Couldn’t find a picture of a headless chicken running, so this will have to do! 🙂

It’s been gradually dawning on me that my brain might really be overtaxed. I realized this when I forgot to pay a credit card bill on time – two months in a row. And the other week when I picked up a pot of tea and almost poured what I thought was soy sauce into the dish of wasabi I was using for my sushi. And most recently, this morning when I woke up and for the life of me could not remember the name of an acquaintance hubby and I were just talking about last night. (It finally came to me ten minutes later after I ran through a whole list of names in my head.)

Sigh, I think it’s safe to say that we have all wandered around like a headless chicken before. Maybe even in this moment you are feeling rather “fowly” as you attempt to simultaneously read this post, eat lunch and make a phone call or two. (I’ll admit I scheduled an orthodontist and an ophthalmologist appointment while I typed this up!) If so, it’s time to give our cerebrums a break.

Let’s remember to focus more on being, than doing. To remind ourselves that the world will not fall apart (and that thing or multiple things we have to do will still be waiting for us) if we take off our multi-tasking hats for a little while. For me, it was telling myself that it would be okay to write this blog post one day later than I meant to because sometimes schedules need to be thrown out the window. 😉

And just how do we rest our brains? Maybe by spending a few minutes unwinding with a good book. Going on a walk and listening to the birds sing. Turning on the radio and dancing like no one’s watching (even if you’re stuck in traffic). Setting aside some time at the start or end of the day to pray and just be still. Taking some deep breaths and pausing for a moment.

Ahh. I feel a little more rested just by thinking about resting. 🙂

So let’s try to slow down a bit today. Take a moment to rest and renew your brain. Cause if it’s headless poultry you’re after, it’d be best to take a trip to the market than to become one yourself.

Take a listen to Otis Redding’s “Sittin’ on the Dock of the Bay“, that reminds us to “waste our time” once in a while. Here’s also a cover of the same song by Sara Bareilles.

What do you do to rest your overtaxed brain?

Monday Mentionables: Crispy Baked Chicken, Avocado Recipes & Meegenius Author Challenge

Hi all! I can’t believe it’s June and there are only 1.5 weeks left of school for the kiddos! What a year it has been. Both they and I have grown, and hubby, too. Thank God that He keeps us in His hands each and every day.

So, given that summer is coming up and I will need to be keeping the munchkins entertained, this will be my last Monday Mentionables post for a while. I hope to return to it later this year or maybe even think up a new series – we’ll see. 🙂 But I will still be keeping my regular posts coming once a week on Thursdays.

Here are today’s mentionables:

1. Crispy Baked Chicken. If there’s one thing kids love to eat, it’s crispy food. So with that in mind, I decided to buy some panko breadcrumbs from Trader Joe’s and use it on some chicken cutlets (also from TJ’s). I found an easy recipe here and even made my own Tonkatsu sauce from this recipe! The kids loved the crunchiness of the chicken and devoured it – and I felt like a master chef for a night. 😉

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Oops, got E’s moving fork in the pic!

2. Avocado Recipes. Here’s a cool article with 10 delicious (at least delicious-looking) recipes using avocados! This is one green fruit (cause it has a pit!) that is yummy and good for you.

3. Meegenius Author Challenge. Just wanted to let any of you aspiring children’s authors know about this contest through Meegenius.com; if you win you get to have your story illustrated and published as an audio (read along) e-book. I participated in this challenge a couple of years ago and although I didn’t win, they still wanted my story! It’s a great way to get your foot in the proverbial door if you have written or want to write a picture book. Check out the contest info here, and my book, “A Rainbow of Nine Colors” here. 🙂

And lastly, two pictures of our new pet, a preying mantis hubby caught yesterday while he was taking a walk. He said the preying mantis was literally crossing the road when he saw it and scooped it up. C decided we should keep it as a pet. Now we need to find some bugs to feed it – yikes! 🙁

C has a soft spot for creatures, even crawly ones. :)

C has a soft spot for creatures, even crawly ones. 🙂

Here's one up close and personal. Don't worry, we'll be moving "Manty" to a bigger home soon. ;)

Here’s one up close and personal. Don’t worry, we’ll be moving “Manty” to a bigger home soon. 😉

Have a good week everyone!