From Tracie: December 2011

Friday, December 30, 2011

Wrapping Up 2011

I've been thinking about how to finish off another year here at the blog, and Shell from Things I Can't Say found all the great end of the year blog ideas that I will now steal borrow.

This is especially great since I did not send out Christmas cards this year (even though I signed and addressed all of them). When I was doing that, I had the overwhelming urge to write, "If you are wondering what we've been up to this year, you should have been reading the blog. Love ~ Tracie, Thomas, and Katarina" but since they are still sitting on my table, you will never know if I really signed them that way, or not.

Think of this as a letter that gives you an overview of my year.
Only more high-tech and (hopefully) exciting.

Ashley from My Front Porch Swing, and Jessica from Four Plus An Angel, and Robin from Farewell Stranger are all about the end of the year pictures.

These are my pictures:
Stones of Courage
I started a year-long focus on courage.

Work Boots
Thomas work shoes.
(Yes, I do like taking pictures of shoes)

Beautiful Sky Through The Trees
I spent some time enjoying nature and focusing on beauty.

A Family Moment
A fun visit with Thomas' dad. 

Tracie In Sunglasses
Thomas took this picture after I had my big haircut.

Katarina and Thomas
Thomas and Katarina on Father's Day

Mary and Jason Hunt
We spent time with special friends at an art show.

Cupcakes With An 8 Candle
Katarina turned eight years old.

Giraffe at Animal Kingdom Resort
Katarina and I spent a day with good friends, photographing animals. 

Dressed Up For Halloween
This one explains itself. 

Katarina and Thomas
I was laying on the ground for a picture. Katarina and Thomas looked at me like this. 
It probably wasn't the only time this year they gave me quizzical looks.

Thomas and Tracie
My favorite picture of me and Thomas from 2011.

Blog Posts!
MamaKat from Mama's Losin' It and Natalie from Mommy of a Monster are all about the list of your favorite posts from the year.

These are my posts:
January - Orange Couch Conversation - this was the first piece of fiction I ever shared here on the blog, it was a big step for me.
February - (I know two posts is cheating, but I really couldn't choose between these two) The Art of Journaling - my love of journals and journaling. Just One More Chapter? - a sweet moment with Katarina, growing up and loving books like her mom.
March - Days of Color and Warm Milk - a favorite memory from my kindergarten days.
April - Did That Vampire Just Bite Ashton Kutcher? - Thomas is crazy, and the crazy doesn't stop when he is asleep.
May - Go Short - How To Give From the Heart and the Head  - donating my hair.
June - The Alamo, Fresh Bread and a Spiral Staircase - I still love a good spiral staircase!
July - Where I'm From - I really enjoyed writing this one, and I loved reading the ones other people have written from this prompt. 
August - A Tale of Loo Water - I'm thinking Thomas isn't the only crazy one in this family. 
September - Glimpses of Change - change is hard, y'all, but I'm helped through the hardness by writing it out.
October - Words Find Light - breaking through a time of writer's block is a beautiful thing.
November - Bring A Towel - that time my family dried socks on a fan in the middle of a theme park.
December - If You Teach A Kid How To Write - the day blogging went full circle for me, as I watched Katarina start a blog of her own.

This has been 2011...from Tracie.

Mommy of a Monster

Thursday, December 29, 2011

The Magic Room

I would be intrigued by a book about a wedding dress store- seeing as I had three weddings (to the same man!) in one year, I clearly love weddings.

Thomas and I were first married late on a Wednesday night (midnight to be exact), at our pastor's house. That afternoon I rushed into a department store in search of a dress. I found one hanging on the wall in a dark corner. It was simple, with a layer of lace, white, knee length, and probably not exactly meant to be a wedding dress. But when I put it on in the dressing room, even under the flickering fluorescent lights, looking into a chipped mirror - I felt beautiful.

Wedding number two was in Arizona with family. My mom planned it, and put it all together in less than two weeks (she is pretty awesome). A lot of our pictures are in storage right now, but earlier this month my cousin posted some old pictures on her facebook, and I snagged this one from my wedding.
Tracie's Family At Her Arizona Wedding
It is one of my favorite pictures - because it is my entire family on my mom's side. One of the few times all of us were together in one place. 

My mom found that dress for me during her planning, and with a few night-before-the-wedding adjustments by my aunt, it fit perfectly. I will never forget the look on Thomas' face when he walked into the church and saw me standing in that dress. It was magical. I loved the dress so much, I wore it a few months later, for our third wedding - in Florida with more family and all our friends.

Jeffrey Zaslow's book, The Magic Room, is not just about a wedding store. He tells the story of the Becker family, and the four generations of women who have been selling wedding dresses at Becker's Bridal in Fowler, Michigan.

Zaslow offers glimpses into the lives of some of the brides who found their perfect dresses at Becker's, their joys and sorrows. A young bride who saved her first kiss for the man she would marry. A bride who is entering her second marriage, after being widowed. A bride involved in a terrible car accident four months before her wedding day, and the fiance who stood by her through surgeries and physical therapy (this one made me cry). A bride who did her wedding planning with her grandmother, because she lost her mother when she was young. A bride married for the first time a few weeks after turning forty. They all have different backgrounds and experiences - but they are joined together by the beginning of this new chapter in their lives.

I enjoyed the personal stories of the brides and following the story of the Becker family through the years. One thing I found interesting was the way the author explored the changes that weddings, and the search for the perfect wedding dress, have gone through since Becker's Bridal opened in the 1930s.

Reading this book brought back all the excitement and wonder I felt in that dressing room almost ten years ago under those awful, flickering fluorescent lights (hardly the same experience the brides in the book get - they try their dresses on in the Magic Room with special lighting and mirrors). I looked at myself in the dress I would wear a few hours later to make vows and share promises with Thomas, and I knew it was perfect.

Did you go on a long search for the perfect wedding dress?
You can join in the conversation, and read an excerpt of The Magic Room at BlogHer.

*This was a paid review for the BlogHer Book Club, and I was provided a copy of The Magic Room to read, by BlogHer and Penguin Books, but the opinions expressed are my own. I was not required to say nice things. 

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Notes From The Bathroom Floor

My surge protector died last night. I don't think it fell in the line of duty. I think it just got tired and gave up. I'm trying not to read too much into that thought, or see it as a metaphor for where my life is right now - tired.

Tired and on the bathroom floor.

I'm sitting on my bathroom floor to write this, because it is the only room with a spare plug I can use for my laptop right now. Katarina keeps bringing me little gifts to cheer up the bathroom - a note, a blanket, a purple bead necklace.

We have been reading the Hobbit together. It started out on Christmas evening as something Thomas and Katarina would do (neither of them having read it before, and both of them being excited about the movie coming out next year), but by the second chapter I was involved. Mostly to do the reading so Thomas wouldn't have to pause and grumble about words that aren't really words and sentences starting with conjunctions.

Last night I came to the first sentence of chapter 9, "The day after the battle with the spiders Bilbo and the dwarves made one last despairing effort to find a way out before they died of hunger and thirst." In a flash I could see Tolkien taking every bout of depression, every moment of fear, and hunger, and despair he had ever experienced - and pouring it into that one sentence. And I laughed. I laughed and laughed, because I could feel it. I could relate to it.

I laughed, because sometimes when life reaches the point of no return, when things are so horrible, and you decide to make one more effort (even though you hardly believe it will work) and there are no tears left - laughter is all there is.

Sitting here on my bathroom floor, I am not about to die of hunger or thirst, and thankfully there has been no battle with spiders (although the floor really should be attacked by a mop). But I do feel the overwhelming tiredness of life pressing in on me. And I'm choosing to laugh - mostly at the absurdity of where I am sitting right now.

Monday, December 26, 2011

The Manly Smell of Christmas

Yesterday morning there was a little bit of this happening at my house
Katarina Opening A Present

Followed by hugs like this one - when Thomas opened his gift from Katarina 
Katarina Thomas And The Muppets

After I opened this book, I did not want to put it down. Katarina caught me reading it while I was supposed to be watching Thomas open a present.
Tracie Reading A Book - All Is Grace Brennan Manning

This was probably the best box of the morning
Thomas Smells Like A Man Who Got A Box Full OF Manliness

But I'm not sure if Katarina was very impressed by the manly smell of manliness. 
Smelly Armpit
(that is the deodorant lid in his mouth - not a giant pacifier)

The rest of the day we had family time (cuddling - watching movies and reading) and talked with far away friends.

I hope all of you had a wonderful Christmas!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Kissing Problems at Rosemount Pep Rally

Rosemount High School had a pep rally earlier this month. Athletes were lined up, blindfolded, and told each of them would be kissed by another student. Instead, once those blindfolds were on, the athlete's parents came out to do the kissing. This is a video from the event...

I honestly would not have been okay with students being blindfolded and kissed by other students they did not specifically consent to kiss. There are some serious flaws with that plan.

But this? These parent's kisses? Inappropriate on a whole new level.

Especially the mom in the green shirt starting at second 29 - the one who takes her son's hand, and places it on her butt.

The principal, John Wollersheim, said this is a clip taken from an activity that went on for nearly half an hour. It is just a portion of what happened.

As if it should matter to us that before blindfolded students were kissed inappropriately by their parents in the school gym, they were able to listen to the band play the fight song and watch some cheerleaders dance.

What do you think about this pep rally activity - inappropriate or silly fun? 

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Menopause Is Calling Me

There is something wrong with my tongue. You know the feeling when you drink something too hot, and it burns a spot on your tongue, feeling weird for a couple of hours? My entire tongue has felt like that for four days.

This makes eating so much fun.

Except for ice cream. Ice cream isn't too bad.

Last night I turned to Dr. Internet for answers (that worked so well the last time I tried it).

I now know about all of the interesting, and by interesting I mean gross, tongue conditions that are possible:
  • Hairy Leukoplakia
  • Hairy Tongue
  • Black Hairy Tongue (for the first time in my life, I find myself being thankful my tongue doesn't have hair growing on it)
  • Geographic Tongue (with my directional skills, I'm pretty sure I don't have any condition with the word "geographic" in it)
  • Burning Tongue Syndrome

The last one had possibilities, and no mention of hair, so I decided to do more research.

Burning Tongue Syndrome.
I read the information quickly. There was a lot of stuff about nerve damage and cutting out stress, and then I saw it...

"After menopause, some women have a sudden feeling that their tongue has been burned. This is called burning tongue syndrome."

I have menopause. Clearly this is the answer, because going through menopause at 28 is exactly what I need in my life.

I told Thomas about my self-diagnosis. We had a good laugh, and I ate a cup of ice before going to bed.

When I woke up this morning, my tongue was still burning. I turned on the computer to find a notification email from twitter. During the night, I had been followed by @DONTmenoPAUSE - "a natural menopause supplement helping and relieving menopause symptoms."

Apparently menopause is calling me.

I'm not answering, because I'm too busy eating another bowl of ice cream...for medical purposes.

*I have no idea if DONTmenoPAUSE works, or not. This mention is in no way an endorsement or recommendation. I am only relaying the sick joke that the universe is playing on me - not dispensing medical advice or information.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

If You Teach A Kid How To Write

If you teach a kid how to write, she will want to write all day - notes, and stories, lists, and things she can't just say.

If you let a kid write, and write, and write, it won't be long before - she notices you like to type and wants to learn some more.

If you teach a kid how to type, she will want to type all day - emails, games, fun, and homework; typing all the way.

If you let a kid type, and type, and type, it won't be long before - she notices you like to blog; that's what your typing is for.

If you teach a kid how to blog, she will want to blog all day - stories, book reviews, lists, and more; so many things she wants to say.

If you let a kid start to blog and blog and blog, very soon you will observe - she wants to type and blog and write; all the words she can preserve.

Katarina Writing Her First Blog Post
Katarina writing her first blog post
As my little story suggested, Katarina has entered the blogging world! 

At this moment, I feel like this blogging and writing thing (which has touched my life so much in the last few years) has really come full circle. 

*shout out to Laura Numeroff for figuring out what will happen If You Give A Mouse A Cookie. All the time spent reading with Katarina when she was little has touched my writing today.  

Monday, December 12, 2011

My Husband is Off Work Today....Yay?

When Thomas is home for the day, he never:

  • renames Katarina's stuffed animals.
  • folds all the blankets differently.
  • eats all our snack food.
  • reorganizes....everything.
  • watches movies like Pan's Labyrinth.
  • claims that Pan's Labyrinth is a kid's movie.
  • claims Young Guns is educational, and Blair Witch Project is okay for Katarina to watch because there are no monsters in it.
  • rearranges the Christmas cards on the door.
  • eats all our candy.
  • asks me to explain things on the computer.
  • reads the first 25 pages of the Hobbit (again).
  • makes us watch shows, like Weird True and Freaky, with real videos of alligators biting off people's arms.
  • changes clothes three times.
  • sprays perfume on everyone...and everything.
  • offers suggestions for my hairstyle (and tries to give Katarina a ponytail).
  • makes us watch Rush videos from the 80s, while sharing trivia valuable information about every band member and song.
  • asks me to update his facebook status because he likes the way my typing sounds.
  • has a contest with Katarina to see who can make the best fake puking noises.
  • talks while we are trying to read.
  • asks me to trim his toenails.

....and at the end of the day after not doing all of these things, 
he NEVER sleeps with my box of cookies.....
Thomas sleeping while hugging box of cookies

So, Thomas was off work was your Monday?

Sunday, December 11, 2011

These Pants Make No Sense

I don't understand these pants.

I don't understand them so much, I had to take a picture of the picture so you could see them too.
Viola Davis Entertainment Weekly Photo

These are the problems that immediately come to mind:
-pants should not be so long that you can trip over them
-white floor length pants? a dry cleaning disaster waiting to happen
-I always thought Viola Davis had feet, now I'm not so sure

I've seen these super long pants more and more recently, in pictures, and movies, and tv shows. Each time I see someone wearing them, it distract me (and I want to pull out a needle and thread and start hemming).

Am I alone in this? Do you wear pants this long?

This was my Sunday morning five minute stream of consciousness writing. I've dumped my brain, feel free to dump yours with Fadra. 

Thursday, December 08, 2011

Memories Captured

I have loved looking at all the pictures from people participating with Galit and Alison's Memories Captured this week. They are simple, but profound. And so beautiful. I couldn't resist making one of my own.

This is Katarina, things she loves and little bits of who she is, right now at age 8......

Memories Captured with Galit and Alison button

Sunday, December 04, 2011

We Have A Christmas Song Dilemma

There is one big thing Thomas and I do not agree about, and it makes the holiday season awkward. We are a divided family. Every year we sing Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer, and every year we debate the lyrics.

How Do YOU Sing Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer?

What are the extra words in Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer?
We start the song together, "Rudolph the red nosed reindeer (Reindeer) Had a very shiny nose (Like a light-bulb)," but then...

Wait. This is one time when writing the words isn't enough.
I'm going to sing it for you.

When Thomas and I sing together, it is fine until we reach, "Then all the reindeer loved him (Loved him) as they shouted out with glee (Yippee!)"

This is the place where it goes wrong.

Thomas sings: "Then all the reindeer loved him (Loved him) as they shouted out with glee (Glee!)"

Poor Katarina is so confused.

And by confused, I mean she sings it like Thomas. I'm worried for her. It isn't right living in a holiday-song-divided house. We need help.

Thomas called me out on facebook last week, telling people I do not know how to sing Rudolph. I decided to take it to the people with a poll:
Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer Lyrics Facebook Poll
Out of 43 votes, 24 people agreed with me!

In all fairness, I will admit that several people did agree with Thomas. Interestingly, most of those people are Canadians (including my Canadian mother - what a traitor). But I was the clear winner.

Now I just have to convince Katarina to come to my side and sing yippee.

Are we the only family divided over song lyrics?

There are some other lyrical questions that should be addressed here:
  1. In elementary school, my teacher made us sing "Like George Washington" at the end of the song, but I know a lot of people say, "like Toothpaste."
  2. I said, "like football" after the reindeer games line in the video, but usually I say, "like Monopoly." Thomas doesn't like either of these options, and points out that reindeer don't have hands, making both of these games particularly difficult for a reindeer to play.
All of these extra lyric options are really silly.
Maybe I should just stick with singing serious songs like Frosty The Snowman.

How do YOU sing Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer?
What are your extra words for Rudolph?

The Mommy Mess

Friday, December 02, 2011

Locker Room Haircut

My dad had definite opinions about the length of my hair, even a small trim elicited a bad reaction. By eighth grade it was so long, I could almost sit on it. I was ready for a change.

My friend, Stephanie, conspired with me, "Lunch period in the locker room."

We went to the office, and borrowed a large pair of scissors from the secretary; sucessfully skirting around our reason for needing them.

We ran to the locker room, where I could see the news had spread. Stephanie was going to cut my hair, and 100 girls were crammed into the small, hot room waiting to see it. Tonya stood by the door as a lookout, "Shhhhhhhh! If a teacher walks in, we'll all get in trouble."

I sat on a stool someone had placed in the middle of the room.

"Are you sure?" Stephanie asked, looking nervous. Breath held, I nodded.

She pulled a comb out of her pocket, and started working it through my long, curly hair.

I heard her take a deep breath, and then...


The scissors sliced through the first section of hair.

When Stephanie finished, applause broke out across the room. My hair was above my shoulders, and it felt so....short!


I called my mom at work, and told her quickly, like ripping off a band-aid, "Stephanie's mom is a hairstylist, so at lunch I let Stephanie cut my hair. It's short, above my shoulders. It looks great!"

"You did what?" she whisper-yelled. In the background I heard, "Your face is all red. Put your head between your knees! Don't faint!"

A few minutes later, "Stephanie's mom is a hairstylist, did she bring scissors to school to cut your hair?"

"We borrowed scissors from the secretary."

"Office scissors? You let someone take dull office scissors, that cut paper all day, and hack away at your hair with them? What, you couldn't find any hedge loppers to use?"

When my mom came home, and saw my hair, she loved it.

Then my dad came home. One look at me, and he freaked out! Yelling at my mom, until he realized she had no part in it.

Then he turned toward me. Silence.

Complete silence.

He didn't speak to me for two weeks.

Hair says a lot about us. About who we are or who we want to be, or maybe just who our friends are.

This week we’d like you to write a piece about hair. It can be about you or one of your characters where hair figures prominently. 

Story side-note: During the phone conversation with my mom, those office scissors were the detail she fixated on the most. To this day, whenever she tells someone this story, she makes a huge deal out of the office scissors (and I never miss an opportunity to tease her about hacking at things with hedge loppers). 

Do you have a great haircut story? I want to hear it! 

Thursday, December 01, 2011

Rape - It Still Isn't Funny

Fueled by anger over an 11 year old girl who was gang raped and blamed for the crimes, and the culture of rape jokes, I wrote a blog post in March titled, Rape is Not Funny.

I'm reminded of this post when I look at my analytics. Every week there are searches for "rape is not funny" and "rape is no joke" that bring people to that post. But more frequent are the other searches that bring people there, searches like: "funny rape" and "rape jokes" and "rape is funny" and "funny rape jokes" and "rape pictures" and "funny rape story" and "funny rape pictures".

Yes. People are searching for those things (and worse) every day.
(feel free to throw up after reading those searches, I feel sick every time I see them)

Yesterday, about 30 of my facebook friends posted a link to this post, To All Those Men Who Don't Think Rape Jokes Are A Problem (which seems to have originated here). It was so spot on, I want everyone to read it. I found this section of the post to be especially important:
"Here is why I refuse to take rape jokes sitting down…
Because 6% of college-aged men, slightly over 1 in 20, will admit to raping someone in anonymous surveys, as long as the word “rape” isn’t used in the description of the act—and that’s the conservative estimate. Other sources double that number (pdf). 
A lot of people accuse feminists of thinking that all men are rapists. That’s not true. But do you know who think all men are rapists? 
Rapists do.  
They really do. In psychological study, the profiling, the studies, it comes out again and again.  
Virtually all rapists genuinely believe that all men rape, and other men just keep it hushed up better. And more, these people who really are rapists are constantly reaffirmed in their belief about the rest of mankind being rapists like them by things like rape jokes, that dismiss and normalize the idea of rape."

Rape jokes hurt survivors. Rape jokes lead rapists to believe that you are okay with it, that maybe you do it too, and that you think it is fine, normal, and even funny.

Rape is no joke, and it certainly isn't funny. 

*Note on the links contained in the quote: The first link is broken, it seems the article was removed from the College News website. 
After a little research, I found Meet the Predators, which gives a great overview of the 2002 report Repeat Rape and Multiple Offending Among Undetected Rapists by David Lesak and Paul M. Miller, which is the source of the 6% statistic. It also contains information from the 2009 report, Reports of Rape Reperpetration by Newly Enlisted Male Navy Personnel by Stephanie K. McWhorter, et al.