Wednesday, May 28, 2014

First Kiss by Blake Harper

      In 9th grade I got my first “girlfriend”. Her name? Kelli Reilly, she was an adorable, girl-next-door type and inexplicably thought I was the bee's knees. Sadly, I was a terrible “boyfriend."  Now before you start judging, let me explain this was not due to laziness, it was a product of fear. I would avoid eye contact in the hallways, say only the stupidest things when we would talk, and was terrified of handholding, hugging and kissing. I don’t know how she put up with me for the better part of freshman year, but God bless her she did. Then things took a turn for the worse.

At the end of the year our whole school had ‘Knotts Berry Farm Day’, Knotts is a theme park that’s less fun but cheaper than Disneyland. And we would get one day off to go and have fun there. It was a few days before Knotts Day and I was getting real pumped, then Kelli’s best friend Kailey approached me and gave me horrible news: Kelli expected me to kiss her at Knotts. I was still terrified, and now I had a kiss deadline?! My heart stopped. My greatest fear fulfilled (give me a break, I went to a Christian school, all of us were like this).

So the awaited day came, and it started out surprisingly well, with me being less awkward than usual. We went on the Ghost Rider with all our friends, and we even held hands during it!!!!!! OMG!! Walking off the ride, I was feeling like a boss. Then suddenly I was violently pulled behind a bush by an unknown force. I turn and see it was Kelli, and she is now staring at me. One word leaves her lips, “Well?” Days pass. Or seconds, who knows. Finally, I grab her and kiss her, then I do the stupidest thing anyone can do after their first kiss. 
I run.
Yep, I ran, and I ran for a while. Once I finally stop running, I realize what I just did, and begin despising myself. I spend the next few hours moping and reminding myself of my stupidity. Then things get even worse, I run into her again, and she’s with her friends.
I decide the only thing to do is surrender all pride and apologize. She shocks me by accepting the apology and not mocking my very existence. She even asks me if I want to go on Montezuma’s Revenge with her. Clearly I accept, beyond relieved.
It was towards the end of the day, so there was no line, which meant we got to repeatedly ride without having to get off. Now I had never been sick on a ride before, so I ignored it when my stomach began to feel very strange about the fifth ride. By the sixth I was clearly sick, yet I didn’t want to run to the bathroom since running hadn’t served me too well thus far. The seventh time there is no question I was going to puke, and now its just a matter of getting to the bathroom in time. I would not blow this! I got off the ride, holding dear, forgiving Kelli’s hand, with all our friends behind us. And while walking down the stairs, the unimaginable becomes a reality. I throw up, all my friends laughing, all her friends laughing, and all I can do is run. Again.
The moral of the story? Even the most embarrassing stories can become funny after a few years of blocking them from your memory. Hope your Valentine’s Day is better than my Knotts Berry Farm Day.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Count Down

My husbands' return from the West Coast is mere hours away.  I'm not sure if the kids or I are more amped up with anticipation and excitement.  He's been gone too long.  It has made me very glad that his work does not require him to travel on a regular basis.  Here are the top 10 things I have missed most:
10. The sound of him and James playing "Goliath of Gath" while I bathe Scout.
9.  His guidance in the kitchen...our menu this week has been bland to put it nicely.
8.  The treats and necessities he picks up on his way home from work.  He rarely comes home empty handed and it is the highlight of our day when he walks in the door.
7. Watching the UEFA champions cup with him.  Nobody gets behind European soccer like he does, except maybe europeans.
6.  His inquisitive nature and constant wealth of new information.  He knows so much about so many things.  It always makes for a good dinner conversation.
5.  They way he makes Scout laugh.  She laughs for me too but there is this giddy hilarity that she saves only for her daddy.
4.  His ability to help me lighten up and take myself less seriously.  He helps me admit that yes, my son's impromptu hair washing in the sink might be just a little funny.  Whereas on my own I only see a mess I have to clean and miss the joy that's there.
3.  The stories he tells about people watching or work that make me laugh even now as I recall them.
2. His common sense.  I find that I do far fewer foolish things when he is around.  I miss that!
1. Working together as a team. He is truly my better half and I can not wait till he is back here with me.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

A picture is indeed worth a thousand words by Rochelle Stewart Rubino

I take a lot of pictures on my iPhone. I love the ability to quickly grab my phone and snap away at some of the fun moments of mommyhood. I think they tell a pretty interesting story. Sometimes, I post some of them to Facebook, but at other times, I don’t what to inundate my friends’ newsfeeds with photos of my little darlings. So, without further ado, here’s a photo blog of some everyday moments in life with my children.

I love free events that provide entertainment for my children, so when I heard about Melrose’s DPW day, I didn’t delay! Gianna was thrilled to bounce in all of the bouncy houses provided and enjoyed sitting in plow trucks galore. She even had her first ambulance experience (one that did spike mommy’s blood pressure!).  Vinny was content as ever to sit in his stroller, just taking it all in while munching on his hummus sandwich.  Add sunshine and some good friends and you’ve got the makings of one glorious morning.


A backyard, nice weather, children, and a new play structure give a few mommies the chance to sit at a patio set and enjoy a glass of wine. Yes, the kids started off having to learn to share and take turns on the swings, but eventually the toddlers ironed out the kinks and played together happily. And even Vinny “played” with the kiddos.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

2014: My year at home

It is hard to believe that New Year’s Day was almost 6 months ago.  I wrote this prompt the first week of the year and returned to it this week to edit.  It’s always so funny to look back at what the year ahead seemed like before it had really begun. 

1/6/14 Imagine that you are moving and shoved in the bottom of an old box is a photograph you had totally forgotten about.  On the back in your handwriting is the phrase “2014, the year of _____” Describe the photo and fill in the blank.  

I pulled out pile after pile of old tax papers, instructions, warrantees, and photographs.  As I set them beside me they splayed over the floor creating a mass of frustration.   But one photo caught my eye.  I smiled as I picked it up.  I was of my son James as a toddler.  He and I were going sledding in old cardboard boxes from Costco.  I turned the picture over and on the back I had scratched, “2014, the year of home.”  

As I mechanically began to straighten and sort the piles I reflected on the image and the year.  I had taken an extended maternity leave from work that year.  2014 has been a year when I let go of my teens, my 20s, my career and embarked upon what was likely the second third of my life.  

For most of my life my personality had made me task oriented, high achieving and career minded.  But after the birth of my little girl, I realized that my career needed to be put on hold for a bit. It wasn’t that I didn’t want to work.  I love being a teacher, it’s just that I needed to learn how to be at home, how to teach my own kids.  I had no idea how challenging this would prove to be or how rewarding.  

That photograph was important to me because it captured a turning point.  I had always seen home as a static place.  An oasis, the eye of a storm, the shelter from rain.  My frustration was that I had a hard time keeping it that way.  I’d tidy everything up and get my ducks in a row only to realize that I wasn’t a good enough home maker to keep out the storm.  It was maddening.  Something was always “going wrong.” Things were constantly falling apart. I grasped at little moments of peace and quiet. But deep down I just wanted to go back to work where I could accomplish something.  

That day while sledding I decided to let it go. I wanted to stop obsessing over what might happen if I didn’t do things right.  I plowed down that hill with my little boy, free to giggle and laugh heedless of how long we stayed or how fast we managed to go.  And as we walked home I realized that it was more than just a house or apartment.  The expectations and assumptions of “homemaking” that had held me hostage began to loosen their grip. I payed no heed to the rings of ice trying to handcuff my wrists and ankles where my gloves didn’t quite cover and my socks didn’t exactly protect. 

2014 was full of adventure. Watching my kids grow inch by inch, pound by pound.  I found that home isn’t a museum full of perfect tableaus it is a place for living and moving forward despite missteps, missing socks, misinterpretations, miscues, any form of mistake or misunderstanding.  Home is never the same two days in a row, it isn’t a formula or mold or diorama.  Home is a canvas upon which we cast the art of our day to day lives.  It can be beautiful or frightful.  But there is no place that I would rather be.  

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Braids and Being by Jane Dietrich

The opening reception for my sister’s art show was last Saturday and it was truly amazing.  Here are some pictures of her sculptures and the inspiration behind them:

These three works were inspired by my studies this past summer in Salzburg, Austria. I traveled to many churches and historic sites; in each I saw how clearly art was used as a means to worship God. Moved by what I saw, I chose to focus on representing the Trinity for this project. 

These pieces are abstractions of braided forms to show how the Trinity comes together as three Persons in one Being. In these three sculptures I abstracted the braid to represent how humans can never fully know God. Each piece is also inspired by the movements of dancers to convey the communion of the three persons of the Trinity coming together in various ways. While working I kept in mind the symbols the Church often uses to represent the Trinity as well such as waves, fire, birds, and trees. 
I used marble sculpture for my project because the carving process beautifully represents how God refines humans. The idea of what the piece will look like when finalized changes dozens of times throughout the process. But, with each change came a more balanced product. As the sculpture neared completion, the veining came out and showed a greater intricacy that contributed to the beauty of the created form. The natural complexity of the veining and hand-created form brought a depth to the work that fittingly shows how we relate to the Trinity.

For further information about Jane’s work please contact me via the pennedbutnotpublished facebook page.  

Monday, May 12, 2014

My First Car

I got the following prompt from my dynamic duo writing partner last week and am only now finishing it up, but I thought I'd share it because it's a stroll down memory lane...enjoy:)

Describe a “first” (first apartment, first kiss, first time driving a car, first lie, first big success, first roller coaster ride, first time in this setting). Include as many details as possible, being sure to include an aspect relating to each of the five senses.)

Thinking about my first car makes me feel old.  It wasn’t that long ago but the memory is back behind work, grad school and even college.  The memory of my first car is nestled right in the high school part of my brain that seems a world away from the routines of my life these days.

  The car was a Chevy Lumina.  My Tutu Wahini (grandmother) left it to me when she died.  I drove it up from Newport News, VA my junior year.  gas was     $.98 a gallon.  Having my own car was pure freedom.  My grandmother had put quite a few dings in the side of it as her eyesight failed but the dents and scratches did not bother me at all.  In fact, I kind of liked them because they felt like a license to not be too careful.  Who is going to notice one new wrinkle in a sea of nicks and bruises?  
One of the “dings” that I created in my very first, very traumatic fender bender was that the metal near the front left wheel was bent in and would grind against the hubcap if I took left hand turns to strongly.  The resulting sound made nails on a chalkboard seem calming.  The screech and scream of metal on metal was deafening.  And the smell of hot metal would waft through the vents really adding some drama to even a short outing.
The seats of the car were a plush cloth material and the model I inherited even had the comfort of carpeted floors and door panels. The steering will had a manual tilt feature that was awesome for finding the perfect angle at which to grip the wheel.
The car did not had a working radio and tape deck but I always brought my boom box with me and strapped it into the middle seat so that I could listen to my CDs.  It was nice and close and when strapped in would not slide around when I was trying to find a track or turn up the volume.  Probably the most frequently played CDs on my drives in the Lumina would be James Taylor Live, The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill, and the Josie and The Pussycats’ soundtrack (oh man that is more embarrassing to admit that I had anticipated.  My only hope is that most of you, never made the mistake of watching Josie and the Pussycats the movie.)  I’ve got really eclectic taste, what can I say?
Ironically, the very same huge CD case still accompanies me in my 2007 Volvo replete with 2 car seats and a trunk full of strollers.  I know that there is an adapter and I can hook up my iPhone but I always forget. Besides I warned my son that texting is against the law, I’m not really sure how that came up but it did,  it’s never too early to start teaching safety anyway, if I even touch my phone in the car he warns me about the police who could come get me.
It makes me think about how much things have changed and yet how little.  I still feel so blessed to have the freedom to get in a car and set off wherever, whenever I want (being mindful of meal times, nap times and bed times of course.) My taste is still eclectic, Book One of the Redwall Series, Hot 96.9 or memory verse songs for kids are a few of the many many sounds that may greet you when you enter my car, but that’s me...all over the place.  The difference is that I’m older.  I’m slower.  I’ve realized that every red light is not about stopping me from getting where I am going.  In fact, nothing is really about getting me where I am going.  There are a million places I might be headed for a million reasons but now in my mind the important things is getting back home safe and sound.
And in that sense getting older isn’t so bad at all.  I mean, don’t rush to get here kids, being an adult is exhausting!  But now that I’ve grown up some, I have many, many more years of throwbacks I can enjoy.  I have two kids who love to go on adventures with me, despite the fact that I’m their super goofy mom.  I have a husband who is a much better driver than me, who can fix whatever is wrong with my car, and who smiles every time I come home to him.  Those things are worth every wrinkle and dent time has put on my face.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Anna Paddock and Paul Simon

Tomorrow I have the wonderful privilege of performing one of my songs as an opening act for PAUL SIMON at the Beacon Theatre in New York City. 
Here are the lyrics for the song I will sing:
To listen to a demo of the song, click on this link or copy and paste it into your browser:

HOME AWAY FROM HOME  © 2013 – Anna Paddock

I could feel the wind change direction when you'd walk through the door
And I had my first taste of perfection when we kissed on your bedroom floor
I'll admit that I fell a little harder than I should have
But I don't regret any of it, I'd do it again if I could, 'cause you were my

Home away from home
Just knowing that you were alive made me less alone, 'cause you were my
Home away from home

I could feel your heart change direction on that cold November day
And I had my first taste of rejection when I couldn't make you stay
I'll admit that I fell a little harder than I should have
But do you regret any of it, would you do it again if you could? 'Cause you were my

Home away from home
Just knowing that you were alive made me less alone

Now it's been a hundred days and a thousand miles
And I'm still driving away from my home away from...

Home away from home, you were my
Home away from home
Knowing that you were alive made me less alone, 'cause you were my
Home away from home

I could feel the wind change direction when you'd walk through the door

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Cinco De Mayo*

Yesterday, I felt like I was going to burst.  I went to Trader Joe’s with both kids after their naps.  This was, as usual, cutting it way too close to dinnertime.  I feel anxious even now just thinking of the frenzy.  
For those of you who may not have realized it, yesterday was Cinco de Mayo*.  Not many people in the Northeast take this holiday very seriously, but in our house, it is observed almost religiously.
  So, I was scrambling to find some tri-tip or tamales or Carne Asada, something, anything that I could pull into a celebration.  Not that any of us really felt like celebrating anyway.  We are all just recovering from the flu, and sinusitis, conjunctivitis, ear infections and cabin fever.  We have been on edge and irritable from the 13 month old to the 31  year old.  
In light of all this, all I could muster is some low grade ground beef, commercial guacamole and handmade tortillas.  The tortillas were my saving grace and my Achilles heel.  We heat them over the gas stove’s flames in a very dangerous and yet authentic manner.  I usually end up with some singed arm hairs.  
Yesterday, this flame throwing tortilla toasting was happening while my husband sorted the laundry in the kitchen in order to take it to the launder-o-mat.  We hadn’t been in two weeks, so there were like 45 lbs of underwear, shirts, jeans, onzies, towels, etc piled in each corner.  Amidst all this both kids were bull dozing around convinced that the laundry piles were for tunneling and jumping in.  Their adventures were punctuated by squeals and screams.  Basically, it was a total mad house.  
And writing it now, the scene seems sweet and nostalgic but at the time I was like, “If everyone doesn’t get to the table in 3 minutes there are going to be serious consequences!!!”  I had no idea what sort of consequences I was going to come up with but I felt determined to make things fall into line whatever it took.  And of course, I burned my fingers flipping the tortillas. 
I blame it on the rush, the feeling of pressure that everyone has to get to bed, and I have emails to send, tests to study for, and blog entries to write.  I blame it on my indecision...should my husband go do the laundry or should I?  Which is more efficient? More self-less, less likely to cause conflict?  This over analytical state of rushing causes  my fingers to burn and this irrational anger to rise up in me.  
But then our upstairs neighbors knock on the door, sour cream and salsa in hand.  They are here to celebrate with us.  The kids are thrilled and soon laughter ensues.  It takes a while for my fight or flight instincts to relax but they do.  
And so I’m thinking, what would we do without our neighbors?  Those upstairs and those over the border.  Thanks to them, time and time again catastrophe has been averted and peace and justice reign.  I always think the solution for my madness is to lock myself away for some good old “me time” but really it usually is a million times better to be in community. So, happy belated Cinco de Mayo...don't celebrate alone:)

*Cinco De Mayo originated with Mexican-American communities in the American West as a way to commemorate the cause of freedom and democracy during the first years of the American Civil War,[8][9] and today the date is observed in the United States as a celebration of thanks to Mexico in fending off the would be French invasion of the U.S.[10] In the state of Puebla, the date is observed to commemorate the Mexican army's unlikely victory over French forces at the Battle of Puebla on May 5, 1862, under the leadership of General Ignacio Zaragoza SeguĂ­n.[3][11] In the United States, Cinco de mayo is generally mistaken to be Mexico's Independence Day—the most important national holiday in Mexico—which is celebrated on September 16.[3][12]- Wikipedia