Not a poet and I know it

I have been known to dabble in poetry. You know, there was the couple of times I decided haikus were a good idea, not to mention that poetry book I had to write in high school that my sophomore English teacher looked at for eight seconds before giving me (and everyone else who completed it, whether it sucked or not) an A.

I worked hard on that thing. My mom even framed one of the poems. I just want to be appreciated for my talents.

A week or so ago I went on a tumblr rampage – meaning in looking around online I found about 20 new blogs/tumblrs to follow that are pretty much genius. One of my favorites is one called Newspaper Blackout.

On the site, they basically black out almost all of the words and make it into poetry. They take submitted pieces, which I’m contemplating. On account of my knack for poetry.

They liked me, they really liked me

One of the great things about being a journalist is getting to meet people. And they always like you.

The following was said to me once by a former county official at a past job when I showed up at an 8 a.m. meeting (but the paper’s offices didn’t open until 9): “We thought we’d scheduled this early enough so you wouldn’t come.”

Yet another missed calling, perhaps, except for the screaming thing

If I wasn’t a writer, or a Broadway star or Justin Timberlake’s girlfriend I’d totally be a preschool teacher.

I mean, I’m not gonna lie, I’m pretty awesome with kids. They love me. Seriously. I’m fun. They can sense it. Ask anyone who’s seen me any Wednesday morning – when I babysit little Spanish-speaking kids, at any elementary school event, in the nursery at church or being stared and smiled at by some random baby in Target.

The few years in there before they start school are my favorite – that’s when kids are the funniest. I’ve had three-, four- and five-year-olds tell me I’m older than Santa, that I’m their best friend, that I’m a womanizer. I don’t know what it is.

And in my job at the newspaper, the easiest events to shoot are the ones at the schools, because they don’t say “I hope I didn’t break the camera” like older women and sometimes men do, which, trust me, gets really annoying after a while.

So yesterday when a former roommate – and one of my favorite ones at that – told me today was the first day of school at the preschool where she teaches, I made plans to stop by. It’s in our coverage area, in a part of the county we don’t get to cover very often and all I had to do was take a few pictures of some kids either really excited or really upset it was their first day of school.

One of them will run in this week’s paper, but I wanted to share a few of the good ones I got. And as much as I say I would be a preschool teacher if I could, I don’t know how much of the screaming I could deal with on a daily basis. One was crying basically the whole time I was there. You’re a tough lady, Mook. I couldn’t do it. 🙂

P.s. The first two pics are my most favorite. Just sayin’.

My dad’s proud that he knows who “Little Wayne” is

Here’s the column my dad wrote for the paper. In honor of Father’s Day, I’ll share it with you guys. He’s funny. And self-deprecating. And like I said yesterday, doesn’t give himself nearly as much credit as he should. Must be where I get it from.

Happy Father’s Day to all the dads reading this today.  There are probably a few dads out there that truly believe the quote on a T-shirt I wear that proclaims I am, in fact, cool.  I don’t believe my girls have ever noticed, but I do have the shirt.

Laura, my oldest of three daughters, is a writer, and she reminded me that I needed to write a corresponding article to hers for Father’s Day, a job much easier said than done.

I like to keep up with the girls , and I like to think I’m “with it.” After all, I know who Justin Bieber is, and I have an iPhone.  I can Skype and I know who Little Wayne is too!  However, they’re just not impressed.

Having three daughters, a wife, and a female dog in the house means that the garage and the yard are my get away, although the dog usually runs circles around me in the yard and chews up the grass.  Supposedly, she’s playing but I really know that she is trying to drive me crazy!  Anyway, the house is usually full of girlfriends, and often some boys too.  I haven’t done much in the intimidation department since they keep coming back.

The family has been patient with me when I complain about the chick flicks and the colossal amount of hair care products everywhere.  Once in a while they even let me put on the History Channel or a John Wayne movie.  Although, I have noticed that usually I’m the only one left in the room.  Is it just me or is there something wrong when you go downstairs to the home theater and watch a love story?  When all we need is a few good explosions, car crashes, and helicopter scenes?

When our oldest daughter was six or seven, we started playing softball.  Three girls later, I’ve helped or coached their teams over the last 19 years.  I’ve enjoyed the smack of the ball in the glove, the crack of the bat, and…oh yeah, the time I got whacked in the back of the head by a foul ball.  That works out pretty good when I need an excuse for forgetting things all the time.  I noticed as a coach though that it’s not a good idea to give direction to your own daughters, but it’s OK to give tips to everyone else.  When I’m standing at first base and my daughter strikes out, why do I get an ugly look?

Speaking of, once at dinner when they were younger, they were having fun using sign language.  I noticed they were signing away, then looking at me and laughing.  I told them several times to knock it off, and finally – maybe out of curiosity – I said, “Don’t do that anymore or I’ll have to get ugly!” The quick response…”It’s too late!” Where’s the respect these days?

I’ve always drawn the line at “dress up” and painting my fingernails.  However, once when I was at a weak moment, they did put those hair things all over my head – what are they called? Hair was never my forte, which would explain why people looked at my kids with a look of disdain, sadness, or barely contained laughter whenever mom was out of town and dad was in charge.  I didn’t get many points in outfit selection either…

I’m not that great with cars but I have taught them how to check the oil and their tire pressure.  However, when something is wrong, they know better than to ask me to “take a look.”  Once, when my daughter said she had a tail light out, I gladly “fixed” it.  The only problem was, I changed the wrong one!  I’m just not handy with tools either, which is why it’s a running joke in the family to get me anything handy for Christmas or birthday.  It’s just a wasted effort.

Don’t get me wrong, I take my job seriously, and in fact I think I’ve done OK.  I’ve tried not to spoil them but it’s been pretty easy to take advantage of me.  The girls have done exceptionally well in school, stayed out of jail, and have pretty good reputations.  They know their dad means business when it’s business time, but they also know they mean the world to me.

As the father of three girls, I’ve seen a few things over the years and I feel truly blessed.  They’ve all matured into smart, talented young ladies that make me proud to be their dad.  They know I’m cool, I’ve got the T-shirt.

My dad doesn’t give himself enough credit

It’s where I get it from, I’m convinced. So. With that in mind, here is my column from this week’s paper – our Father’s Day edition. It’s like what we did for Mother’s Day. My dad wrote a column that ran next to mine. I’ll post his tomorrow. For now, read mine. 🙂 Please?

About a month ago, I pitched an idea to my mom that had been thrown around the office—write a column for our paper about being a parent for Mother’s Day. She reluctantly agreed and my dad encouraged her. I warned him not to think he was immune, Father’s Day was a month away and he’d be expected to write one next.

My dad has three daughters, so he hasn’t always had it very easy around the house. He’s always been outnumbered. But he’s coped well. I remember playing “VCR Football” with him at a young age – it’s what I think of to this day every time I hear John Madden’s voice – and even though we had a lot of girly toys and took dance classes as children, we also went to baseball, football and basketball games and watched Three Stooges and Pink Panther movies with him. My sisters even played the game “Risk” with him on a boys’ night when he invited some of my male cousins and uncle over. I played Scrabble with Mom.

Risk makes me sleepy.

If you read his column, already you’ll see where he recalled how he’s let us put his hair in ponytail holders before, but drew the line at fingernail polish or makeup – which we then just transferred to my cousin Aaron. Sorry, Aaron.

He’s good at grilling but not the greatest in the kitchen. He’ll admit it, too. In fact, my sisters and I have a plan to start a TV show called “Strangers To The Kitchen,” where we’ll try to show how bad we are at cooking. Dad will be our special guest who we’ll occasionally ask “What do we do next?” He’ll just shrug his shoulders and walk away. Should be a hit.

He acts like he’s not good with cars, but he’s fixed just about every car issue I’ve ever had – or at least paid for it to be. He helped me learn how to negotiate for a new car a couple months ago. I did pretty well, except for the whole minute and a half I showed my emotions – a no-no according to him, if you want them to sell you the car at a price you can afford.

If you read my dad’s column already you’ll notice that in it, he doesn’t give himself a lot of credit. But he should.

He’s one of the smartest and kindest people I know. He’s an elementary school principal and when I see the way those kids at his school act around him and hear how much they think of him, I’m even prouder he’s my dad. For his birthday in December, he came home with a box of presents and cards from just about every kid in the school. They also made a list of reasons why he’s the best principal, including the fact that he “loves America,” “likes cake,” “pays for our field trips” and “lets us get Dilly Bars.”

He does try to keep up with what we like, even though sometimes he gets the names wrong – usually on purpose – just don’t try to make him watch “America’s Next Top Model.” He doesn’t have a Facebook but he’s recently entered the texting world, which is a big deal. He’s always there for us and he always makes sure we know how proud he is of us all. He’s funny, often when he’s trying not to be.

And if I had to make a list like his students did of why he’s the best dad, paying for my field trips and letting me get a Dilly Bar would be on there for sure. There’d be plenty of other things on the list, probably too many to mention.

In his column, he says he feels blessed. I hope he knows that his daughters feel the same. Happy Father’s Day, Pa.

I wouldn’t exactly call it a break…

Hey remember when I used to write this blog? Yeah…about that. I haven’t written in a week, but I have good reasons, so don’t hate.

I’ve had a bunch of ideas for posts in the past week, but no time to write them. On account of my job. And my life. And sleep deprivation.

Let me explain. I work at a newspaper, ya know? And on Election Day, we do the exact opposite of pretty much everyone else. Instead of a nice relaxing middle-of-the-week day off work where the only thing that needs to get done is vote, we reporters/editors/photographers/etc. only have one thing to do too – make a frigging newspaper.

Oh, and we can’t finish it until we know all the totals from all the polls – which makes for a late, late, late night, coupled with the fact that, um, LOST is on Tuesday nights, and you know I can’t wait a day to watch it, TiVo or not.

In addition to election craziness, I also had something every single night last week. Seriously. EVERY ONE OF THEM. Not that I’m complaining – because Thursday involved seeing “Wicked” which is my new favorite musical EVER (more on that later this week). And Saturday I slept, for all the hours I didn’t sleep the week before. Oh, and there was that Grey’s Anatomy finale that needed watching too – and may have caused me to need extensive therapy to recover, it was that intense. Don’t judge my TV habits. It’s all I have. Not really, but I appreciate the arts, in all its forms – books, movies, TV, theater, Demolition Derbies…you know. And as much as I love this blog and I love to write and I want to share all these stories with you guys, when you type and stare at a computer all day, lying in bed watching Forensic Files and buying out the Dollar Store for the LOST party seems a lot more relaxing, believe it or not.

Also. I have this freelance gig – the first of hopefully many – that took up a considerable amount of my time, which is fine because, hey, I like money.

So basically, I’m sorry I’ve given you nothing new to read this past week – even though by the looks of my stats I at least get one visit a day from whoever searches for “Festivus.” True story – most hits of any post. And it doesn’t even say that much.

But here are some things for you to look forward to. Come back later this week and read about things like the awesome party we had for the LOST series finale, why I hate Twilight, my pitch for a new Food Network show starring my family and the career I started thinking about thanks to “Wicked,” as well as why I can’t stop listening to the same four songs on my iPod on repeat.

Good stuff, I promise you. And I’ll be back on schedule from now on, scout’s honor. Keep reading, please?

Momma said…

This is my mom’s column, which appeared with mine in this week’s edition of the newspaper where I work. She’s so awesome for agreeing to do this, and awesome in general. 🙂 And my dad’s so proud, it’s cute. He’s been showing copies of the paper to everyone. I had to go across the street yesterday to pick it up from their neighbors, who I barely know. True story.

I was asked by my daughter to write a little something this week for Mother’s Day. My daughter is Laura, one of the reporters for this paper. I think she is very good at what she does, of course. That being said, please don’t judge me on what I am about to write.

In trying to decide what to write about I got a lot of input from my children.  Along with Laura, who is my oldest, I have two other daughters, Rachel and Samantha. After mentioning several things I thought I might write about there were sneers and “No, don’t write about that, No, that’s depressing,” and so on. What I have decided to do is just tell you about a Mother’s Day or two that stick out in my mind.

Other than all three of the Mother’s Days when each of my girls were new babies and I was reminded of how special it was to be a mother, I would have to go back to the one when they and my husband thought breakfast in bed was a good idea. They were pretty small when this came about. The older two had planned it with their dad – who, I may add, is a stranger in the kitchen. Samantha was still a baby.

On the morning of the “Breakfast in Bed” the girls came Army-crawling across the bedroom floor to wake Dad and get started. Of course, I heard them, as most moms hear all noises after their children are born. I pretended, however, to be asleep as planned. Dad got up and they all went into the kitchen to “cook.” Our house was small and the kitchen was only a little ways down the hall from my bedroom. I heard everything. All the cabinets were opening and closing, the silverware drawer sounded as if it was being tossed around the room. Things were happening.  

Then, ever-so-softly, a knock came at my door, “Mommy, Daddy wants to know where the pan is you use for making eggs.” Then, a few minutes later, “Mommy, do you want orange juice or coffee?” and then again, “Mommy, Daddy wants to know where a vase is.” 

Needless to say, I wasn’t very relaxed lying there and listening to all that going on and answering questions every few minutes. But, I did the mother thing and pretended to be asleep as they came whispering down the hall carrying the tray and the baby. They came in and woke me up shouting ”Happy Mother’s Day!” I acted very surprised and they were pleased. Then they all left the room so I could eat in peace.

The funny thing is, while I very much appreciated the effort and love put into that breakfast, I really would have loved to just sit down to a nice breakfast with my husband and girls. After all, to me, that’s what Mothers Day is all about.

Through all the Mother’s Days I’ve been through, my most favorite ones have been those when I just have all my girls and husband around. We have spent many of those days at the ballpark at all-day softball games – they don’t stop for Mother’s Day you know, and actually were some of the most fun. 

The girls have done many nice things over the years for me, such as wearing an “I love Mom” t-shirt for the day (Laura), maybe for brownie points. One thing they try to do is to get a gift that makes me cry. Whoever does that gets a high five and apparently the opportunity to say ”Yes, I made Mom cry, it was a great gift!”
I love all the things they have done for me over the years. They haven’t figured out though that the best Mother’s Day for me is to just see all my girls, be around them and enjoy the beautiful young women they have become.

Who could ask for a better Mother’s Day gift than that?

The day of mothers

This is a column I wrote for this week’s edition of the paper where I work. It was a part of a feature where staff members and their mothers wrote columns that ran side-by-side in the paper. I’ll post my mom’s column tomorrow.

There are some things I need to learn before I become a mom, which is good because I’ve got some time – it’s not something that’s happening any time in the near future.

First, I need to learn to sew. ‘Cause if I don’t and my kids rip their clothes or want some fancy homemade Halloween costume, I’m going to either say “Um, let’s go ask Grandma” or “Let’s go to the store instead.”

Secondly, I need to learn how to be right all the time. Once upon a time, I thought I already was – see:every fight I had with my parents in high school – but I’ve learned since that I’m definitely not. Plus, I don’t know about anyone else’s mom, but mine is so right about stuff ALL THE TIME, it’s almost scary.

For example, one time, in college, I went back from a weekend at home but forgot to bring back gloves. I noticed it when I was almost back to school and when my mom asked if I wanted her to send them to me, I said, “nah, I’ll just get ’em next time I come home. I won’t need them for anything.” She said, “I think you will..but OK…” Sure enough, the next day, it snowed. Three inches. My hands froze. And then I had to call her and say “I should’ve brought my gloves.”

Third, before I have kids, I have to learn everything about everything, or at least sound like I have. I’m not entirely sure how to do that – maybe I’ll just read a new encyclopedia, Wikipedia or some other kind of -pedia every day until I have a kid. I say this, because I really can’t remember a time when I’ve asked my mom a question she didn’t have the answer to, whether she really knew it or not.

I mean, I’ve got the basics down, I think. I have about 14 or 15 years’ experience baby-sitting and helping take care of younger sisters and cousins. I wake up at the drop of a hat and have a harder time sleeping when I know my roommate will be home late – whereas I used to be able to sleep through thunderstorms.

And I work with teenagers at my church, so I’m already kind of used to hearing my name a million times a day when I’m on trips with them and answering questions like, “What time do we get there? When are we going to eat? Can we keep this?”

I think I’ll be a good mom. People have told me so before. And I have a good example to work with. Not everyone can say that, I realize, and for that I feel blessed. I know people who don’t have a good relationship with their mothers or their mothers are no longer with us. I am lucky to have the mom that I do and the relationship we have is one I wouldn’t trade for anything.

She’s always supported and encouraged me. She’s been there for me through some of the hardest and most stressful times in my life. She knows me better than anyone, which means if I call her and my voice sounds the slightest bit different she knows that I’m sad or mad and I won’t be getting off the phone without explaining myself.

A few years ago for Mother’s Day I bought a shirt that said “I love Mom.” It was the best $5 I ever spent. I wear it every year now and joke with her that it’s her present. But I do love her, of course. She’s done so much for my sisters and I and not that I’m biased or anything, but I’d say she and my dad did a pretty awesome job raising us.

Though all the homemade stuff throughout the years, the breakfasts in bed, the $5 Old Navy shirt and all the cards in the world wouldn’t pay her back for all she’s given us, we still make sure we celebrate the day and let her know how much she’s loved and appreciated. People already tell me how much we look and sound and act alike, I only hope that when I do become a mom, I can be one that’s just like her.

Happy Mother’s Day, Mom.