Memories: Revisited

December. 2011.

I haven't born stopping by much lately, but today made me realize that I need to. 

It was something random I needed to find; some obscure reference to something I'd written or photographed - and I found it in my archives. What I also found was the reason I started this blog to begin with - a place to capture my words and images. A catch-all for the organized chaos of moments and things that mattered then, matter now, and maybe matter tomorrow. 

She was so little then. In the memories I tripped over in my rush to get back to to today. If no one else ever reads the words I write here, that's okay. I'd forgotten the reason I'd started. And then I found this post about our first trip to Williams, Arizona, for The Polar Express. We were living in Tucson at the time.

If I never do anything else right for the rest of my life, I did this. A memory preserved in small bits; to have and to treasure for always. 

The Polar Express
The Polar Express

“Think she’s old enough?”

Doesn’t matter.

“Think she’ll like it?”

Of course.

“Think she’ll…”

“DADDY!!! Thank you, Thank you, THANK YOU!”

Yeah, she’ll appreciate it.

The Polar Express
The Polar Express

“Where are we going, Mama?”

“It’s a surprise.”

“But I don’t like surprises.”

“So we stay home.”

“That’s now that I said.”

“So it’s a surprise.”

“Where are we going, Mama?”

The Polar Express
The Polar Express

“I see snow!”

“Isn’t it pretty?”

“Can I make a snow angel, Mama?”

“Maybe later.”

“After we get to our surprise?”

“Yeah, baby. After we get to our surprise.”

“Daddy, Mama said I can make a snow angel after we get to our surprise.”

The Polar Express
The Polar Express

“We’re here!”

“Where’s here, Daddy?”

“Our surprise.”

“So I can make a snow angel now?”

The Polar Express
The Polar Express

“Enjoy your stay and your train ride to the North Pole.”

“The North Pole?”

“The North Pole.”

“Will Santa be there?”

“Of course. You may even see him on the train.”

“I GET TO SEE SANTA ON THE TRAIN?”

“Yes, you do.”

“I GET TO SEE SANTA ON THE TRAIN!”

The Polar Express
The Polar Express

“Mrs. Clause can see you now.”

“Are you a real elf?”

“Are you a real girl?”

“Your ears are pointy.”

“That’s because I’m a real elf. You’re cute.”

“That’s because I’m a real girl.”

The Polar Express
The Polar Express

“Would you like to be my honorary elf?”

“But I’m a girl.”

“Girls can be honorary elves.”

“What do I have to do?”

“Just hold my hand and wave the first train off. Think you can do that?”

The Polar Express
The Polar Express

“Smile and wave, sweetie.”

“I am.”

“Not at me, you silly goose. Smile at the passengers on the train!”

“I’ll wave at them. But I’ll smile at you.”

The Polar Express
The Polar Express

“We’re going to see Santa”

“Yes, baby. It’s our turn now.”

“Then I can make a snow angel?”

“You are adorable.”

“Can I be an adorable snow angel?”

The Polar Express
The Polar Express

“Hot! Hot! Ooh, we got it! Hot! Hot! Hey, we got it! Hot! Hot! Say, we got it! Hot chocolate!

The Polar Express
The Polar Express

“What would you like for Christmas?”

“A special doll that’s just for me!”

“Merry Christmas!”

“I love you, Santa!”

The Polar Express
The Polar Express

“Mama! It’s SNOWING!”

“I see that.”

“Now see me dancing in the snow!”

“I see that, too, baby.”

“Can we take the snow with us, Mama?”

“No, but I can take a picture of y0u dancing in the snow with us.”

“Take more, Mama. Take more!”

The Polar Express
The Polar Express

“Am I making  good snow angel, Daddy?”

“The best.”

“I want to make it smile.”

“I think it already is, baby.”

The Polar Express
The Polar Express

“There’s snow on my manos, Mama.”

“Yes, I know.”

“My butt is wet, Daddy.”

“I figured it would be.”

“My legs are cold, Mama.”

“Makes sense to me.”

“Can we stay here forever, Daddy?”

“Forever? No. For now? Yes.”

“For now is so pretty. Thank you for for now.”

December 5, 2011.

Cinderella: The Dust Destroyer

I'm sitting in my room at the Drury Inn & Suites in Columbus Ohio, taking a short break from repacking to blog. #NaBloPoMo is A Thing, and I'm trying like bloody hell to make this Thing happen, so that means blogging is back on the priority list...like it used to be when Twitter was for Actual Conversation and Feminist still was confused as a proper noun defined by the average person as One Who Burns Bras and Hates Men. 

You know, the good ol' days. 

Tomorrow marks the end for the second annual #365FeministSelfie #SelfieCon - my first, even though I've been an on-again, off-again participant in the ongoing photo project. And I've enjoyed myself immensely. I have words to share, stories to tell, and photos for the visual eye-candy we all like to see with the narratives we lose ourselves in, but my brain is fried, so the good stuff waits for after I get home and sleep for 30 ba-jillion hours while recovering from travel. But blog I must and blog I shall, so I'll share a little story about the little girl that inspires me daily to be and give the best of myself to and for myself and those I love. She's impressed the hell out of my newly adopted #365feministselfie family, and reminded me once again how incredibly lucky I am to be able to share these life experiences with her by my side. 

This is what happens when you tell her it's time for chores.

The fashion bandana she reserves for these occasions is a must.

The skater dress Not Bought On Clearance becomes her apron.

Cue cards are too cumbersome so she becomes both Star of the Show and Prompter...

..."and now you're re evil step-Mother and step-father"

and

"What am I supposed to do now?"

and

"No, mom, you have to tell me to vacuum more evily, because that was too nice. I'm not buying it"

and

"Are my wicked stepsisters at the spa again while I'm stuck here cleaning?"

And

"Of course, Dear Child, for we must stick to the story line, mustn't we?" 

It's all part of the dialogue. This is normal in our home and for this, I am grateful. 

And why not? Putting on your game face and becoming Cinderella the Dust Destroyer is the only way to clean. 

Cinnamon Scented Lies

Mom! I'm ready to leave now. Of course I'm dressed. Wonder Woman? Underwear? Hello?

 Buttercup asked me if fairies were real the other day. I have to admit, the question knocked me on my ass and I didn't know how to respond at first. My Little, my One and Only, sat patiently as Mama tripped over words to try and reassure her that the very foundation for her world built of imagination, fairy tales, and Tinker Bell, is cracking. She's five. She's brilliant. She has known how to outwit me and The Husband with actual and applied logic when trying to get her way since she was two.

But magic and fairies that smell of cinnamon and the Easter Bunny that can take a bow for being the only reason I take her to church once a year? Santa and his elves making toys for all the children in the world and Christmas magic and Santa's magic key to get into our house with no chimney...all of these little white lies we've built up and encouraged and reinforced as parents simply because she has always looked at the world through the eyes of the child I wish I had been. At her age, I knew too much, had seen too much, and Santa was something to say I believed in so I could open a few extra presents every year.

I was eight when I finally fessed up and said I was no longer a believer of the fat guy in the red suit who somehow made it legal to break into houses all over the world just to leave presents. I grew up in Detroit. I've been to Mexican weddings where the final dance is the cue for every woman with a free arm and three kids running along to help to grab as many centerpieces as they can just because they are there. I wasn't buying this Santa business. And then I kicked myself after because suddenly my Christmas present pile looked pretty sad as it got smaller. Pretending to believe the half-assed Spanglish Christmas my Green Carded father and his family put on for us kids every year was something I suddenly missed.

Buttercup didn't grow up in that craziness. It's been me and The Husband and a few very close friends most of her life. Presents appear under the tree while we sleep and as they should so that Christmas morning is magical and Mama and Daddy try to stay awake with coffee after wrapping all night. Mexican weddings scare the shit out of her because she was never trained to address anyone as old or older than her parents as Tia and Tio or to kiss and hug every single person in the room on demand upon arrival and departure. And she sure as hell wants nothing to do with People She's Never Met grabbing at her and cooing at her and expecting her to come willingly into their arms just because that's Tia So and So and No You Are Not Supposed to Tell Her that Her Perfume Stinks.

My baby speaks Dora Spanish and believes in personal space, magic, and that if you smell cinnamon it must mean that a fairy was just in the room. So I make sure to keep the Fairy Magic spray bottle I made with water and cinnamon essential oils hidden away for the days when magic and a simple Do You Smell Cinnamon are all it takes to make her entire spirit radiate with happiness because fairies exist.

I could have told you I would become a non-fiction writer when I was eight. If my kid ever decides she wants to become a writer, she's a novelist in the making. She's too little and innocent to have Mama bursting her Happy Place wide open but too smart to have me lie to her face and not blow my cover.

Do fairies exist? She asked me again and I cried inside because it wasn't that long ago that she sucked her fingers as she slept and that eleventeen was a number. Now she wanted me to reassure her that something I wished to be true actually was.

Fairies and their magic exist for those that believe in them, I told her. It's the lucky ones like you who know a fairy just flew by when you smell cinnamon.

She smiled and sat back on the couch, satisfied. And I waited for just the right moment to spritz some Fairy Magic in the air when she wasn't looking.

Platform the Secret Agent Monkey (Returns)

 

I’ve been trying to decide for a while now how I will celebrate the day my (currently non-existent) agent calls me with the incredibly fantastical awesome news that I have a book deal. It’s much like the fantasy normal people have about how they will spend their fortunes the day they hit it big with the lottery, except the ticket is a publishing house contract with my name on it.

I could buy an(other) expensive purse. As in, not in the clearance section at Target. (Not gonna happen.)

I could go celebrate in Vegas…if I brought my mom along with me so we can take turns leaving the hotel room sans pre-schooler. (Boring.)

Or I could just treat myself and my little family to a nice dinner out? (Typical.)

If this ever happens, I want to mark the event with something memorable. So last night I told The Husband I was going to buy a Finger Monkey when The Day arrives.

The conversation went something like this:

The Husband: “Are you insane?”

Me: “That wasn’t the topic of the conversation. The Finger Monkey is.”

The Husband: “You are insane. Why do you want a Finger Monkey?”

Me: Blink, blink. “Really? Just look at that little face!”

The Husband: (Sighing) How much do those things run?

Me: That’s is also not up for discussion at this point. But if I get my dream agent and they get me my dream book deal, then I’m pretty sure the Finger Monkey won’t really be an issue.”

The Husband: “You’re dreaming.”

Me: “You’re forgetful. We had this conversation when we got engaged. Getting my own monkey is all part of the Master Plan.”

The Husband: “What Master Plan?”

Me: “The one where I first get you to say I can get a Finger Monkey after I get a book deal and then I turn it around and convince you that you told me I could get one now and name it Platform.”

The Husband: “Platform?”

Me: “Exactly. That way when another agent writes to say the book sounds interesting but thinks I need to build a bigger platform, I kindly email back with a photo of Platform: The Secret Agent Monkey, wrapped around my pointer and explain that I already have a very cute and manageable platform already. Then I ask them where I sign.”

 

***

This post was originally published one year ago on Aspiring Mama and because someone linked this post on Pinterest and the entire world thinks I have a blog devoted to finger monkeys (which is honestly not a bad idea) I thought it might be a good idea to re-post, mainly because I still want a monkey.

 

A Letter to Santa

 

Dear Mr. Claus,

May I call you Kris? I'd like to take this opportunity to thank you for your yearly contribution to the marked improvement in my daughter's behavior at the end of the year. Although I do have to say that it is a tad disconcerting that, unless reminded that you can see her when she's sleeping and know when she's awake, I can't get her to put one foot in front of the other without a fight. Not to mention that, after having reread that last sentence, I just realized I may be a little bit afraid of you now.

No matter, Kris. I may call you Kris, right? Santa seems to be reserved for the sitting on your lap crowd, and I am obviously beyond that. But do you mind if I ask you to submit to a background check before next year's mall photo and gift request? (I do hope you understand.)

I found it quite charming how you made Buttercup so comfortable during her time with you this year. She can't wait to see if you brought her that special doll she asked you for. And no thanks is necessary, Kris. My husband and I took it upon ourselves to go to extreme lengths to purchase the requested item, buy a special roll of wrapping paper that is only being used for gifts "from you", and hide said gifts until one of us can sneak downstairs after she falls asleep on Christmas Eve to leave the small stash of goodies "from you" beneath the tree. We all know the economy sucks and I'm sure the lost manpower during the last round of elf lay-offs still has you frantically trying to keep up with and meet product demand by the expected deadline. We will, however, be submitting an itemized expense report outlining all expenses incurred on your behalf and expect to be reimbursed for our troubles. I hope Paypal works for you and the Mrs.?

I'd also like to ask your opinion on parenting tactics come the day after Christmas. Let's face it, Kris. She's four and has no real concept of time. Next year is about as threatening to her as next week, and because neither is happening in the next five seconds, they don't matter in the slightest. That means I'm looking at about 10 months of parenting hell because I can't drop a Santa-bomb until Target kicks the Halloween candy to the curb, skips right over the Thanksgiving turkey, and starts blasting the Christmas music early enough to make even you want to throw up. And please give me more detailed advice than last year because asking her to "follow me in merry measure" when we would both rather throw tantrums frankly does me no good.You deal with a world-full of children in one 24-hour-period, while they are all sleeping of course, so I'm sure you understa...

Oh never mind.

Anyway, feel free to stop in on Christmas Eve and don't feel that you need to BYOP (We already covered the presents, remember?) but do enjoy the cookies we will be baking in your honor. We left a magic key for you to use since we don't have a chimney and you can't seem to remember the alarm code before the damned thing goes off, so please, consider the key our gift to you. We will leave it hanging on the front door. We just ask that you remember to lock up after you leave. And for the love of Christmas, please make sure to pick up and properly dispose of any reindeer business before you take off. I'll be sure to place the garbage can where you can find it.

Please give my love to Mrs. Claus and remind Rudolph that he's always special. I do remember how the therapist said he thought Rudolph only felt worthy of attention after a major snowstorm and all.

Sincerely,

Aspiring Mama and The Husband

 

Birthday Cakes and Afterthoughts

Ever since I can remember, the response to "My birthday is the day after Christmas," has been one form or another of  "Oh, that really has to suck." I used to argue the point as a child, especially when I was young enough to still be included on Santa's list because really, gifts from Santa, every relative in a huge family, and the parents kind of made up for the constantly combined gifts. I got older eventually and Santa Stopped bringing my presents. My refusal to get pregnant without planning the child's birthday to be as far away from Christmas as possible is probably more telling about what it's like to have been brought home in a Christmas stocking than anything else.

I'm the oldest of five girls and my sister immediately following me was born on December 23 just a few days before my second birthday. Trust me, I've made it perfectly clear to my mother that she should have seriously considered knitting during the month of March instead of working on procreating. Think of the children, lady.

Because we celebrated Christmas on Christmas Eve with our extended family on my father's side, my sister and I would jointly blow out the birthday candles on the shared cake, laughing every year as our names got jumbled because it was more fun that way, after our holiday meal. Our birthday gifts were then handed over as a means to distract us for a few hours. Tradition in our family dictated we open the presents under the tree at midnight, after placing the baby Jesus in nativity scene between Mary and Joseph, to remind us of the true meaning of Christmas. I'll be honest in telling you that all of this was lost on us as children because the chance to stay up all night and sleep all the next day was something we looked forward to all year just as much as opening our gifts to see what Santa brought us.

Nonetheless, that was how it went, and we eventually got smart enough to start putting the presents in pile for each relative around 11:30 so that the moment my tia had placed the baby Jesus in the  collective rip of wrapping paper signaled the start of the races. We'd stay up for hours playing with our new stuff; sisters and cousins trying to fight the sleep that would eventually see us nodding off into a pile of wrapping paper before we were shuffled off to our make shift beds. Morning always came late on Christmas day with dinner leftovers for breakfast (Mexicans are famous for scrambling anything in eggs and calling it a meal) and adults playing poker while we basked in the New Toy smell of as-of-yet-unbroken toys and games without any missing pieces, at least until my parents herded my sisters and me in the van so we could drive over an hour to my mother's sister's home for dinner with her side of the family. By the time we got back to my tia and tio's house that night, we were tired enough to not be kept awake by the always loud and sometimes louder jokes and resulting laughter while the adults finished their poker game and enough beers to rival the empties found on the floor after a college frat party.

Sometime around noon, our rumbling stomachs would be loud enough to stir us from our beds the next day. Tio would already have been up for hours and something scrambled with eggs would greet us for breakfast. The rest of the adults usually joined us later and dove into a steaming bowl of menudo to cure their hangovers. Sometimes I remembered it was my birthday before the first relative kissed me and wished me a happy day and sometimes I didn't. Either way it kind of didn't matter because I'd already opened my birthday gifts after dinner and before midnight on Christmas Eve. At least there was leftover cake.

I'm not telling you this to feel sorry for me, unless you are also a Mappy Birthmas baby, because then you are totally allowed to relate. My birthday is what it is, and even though the date isn't even singularly spectacular enough to refer to it as anything other than "the day after Christmas," only three birthdays in my entire memory actually sucked.

The most obvious one is my 30th birthday, which came just about four weeks after my father died unexpectedly. Then there was that Christmas when I was about ten and had begged and begged all year for a ten-speed bike. Points for you if you've already figured out why your father proudly putting together your new Birthmas gift in the living room turned out to be the world's biggest punch line until summer. But perhaps my favorite was the year an aunt took me to see The Nutcracker Ballet and I sat through the entire performance proudly playing my "air flute" on my lap during the appropriate parts. We were there because I had asked her to bring me because I was learning some of the music in concert band. And it sucked because I soon learned that my ticket was my Christmas gift and hers was my birthday gift.

The kicker was that we didn't even have good seats.

This year I finally realized I've hit that time in my life that children won't understand themselves until they, too, get to where I am. It's just a day. Another year. I hear most women turning 34 are like that, which makes your birthday and my birthday just about the same.

And for the record? Buttercup was born in June.

Elbow Grease and Fairy Tales

I wrote this on August 25 and it's been sitting in my draft folder for the right time to publish. Considering I am still at a loss for blog time while revising my manuscript with the help of a professional editor, the topic is beyond appropriate, especially considering I hired Brooke Warner after I wrote the post, which I just dug up because I don't have time to blog because I'm trying to make my book Not Suck. See? The Universe? It's all tied together, yo.

***

 

 

I've decided I don't give a shit anymore.

Not about an agent. Not about a book deal. Not about the number of blog hits I get. And not about the fact that my platform is barely big enough to reach the cookies on the top shelf.

I've had one dream since I was 8 years old: to become a published writer with a book of my own. My inspiration was Gordon Korman after my fifth grade class was assigned to read the book that got him a book deal when he was all of about 13.

I know. The pressure was on, yo.  And I had three years to deliver.

To say I had a midlife crisis at the age of 14 is an understatement. I was devastated in only the way a teenager with a broken dream can be. And please, let us not focus on the fact that I couldn't even blame the Man for keeping me down. Gordon Korman got a book deal because his English teacher was blown away by a writing assignment that turned into a manuscript that turned into a career that has spanned decades. I didn't have a book deal before getting my driver's license for the very obvious reason that I hadn't done any work to fucking earn it.

I got over myself for a while and moved on. There was middle school to deal with. And all the hell that comes with it.

And there was high school. That was a nightmare. So busy concentrating on the cliques I didn't qualify for to make many meaningful friendships with those who I could have. I joined student congress, played varsity tennis, was part of the Spanish club, played a few instruments in the concert and marching band, organized class trips to Cedar Pointe in the hopes of earning some cool points with the In Crowd...

And then I found myself holding in the tears when my speech wasn't selected for my classes graduation ceremony. I never wrote for the school paper. I wasn't an enterprising young writer with a check list of publications in which my work had been accepted. I was just a girl who wrote essays and shared them with friends on the phone at night who turned in what I assumed was a given for the commencement ceremony speech.

Are you following along with me, here? I assumed that because my dream was older, my visions of the future grander, and my ego bigger than was good for me, that I didn't need anything more than a bit of patience for the Universe to send a message to the right people about my hidden genius.

Stupid? Yes. And had I outgrown that thinking, it might have been excusable. To my credit, I did...for a little while. I was too busy to writing for the college paper and failing math classes and finally graduating with honors. Then I was too busy getting married and buying a house and working as a city editor for a small town newspaper. I was too busy to do much, really, until I left my job at a respected newspaper for bed rest, have the baby, survive the first two years of her life, lose my father, and move cross country.

That's about the time I decided to take a breath and start a blog to get my name out there for the book idea that had just come to me. Twitter was an obvious choice, and while other writers worked on multiple projects and vented about rejections from literary magazines, I happily wasted away hours online "building my platform"  and yes I totally just did air quotes because I still blindly thought that was all I needed. Surely an agent would stumble across my blog and discover me. Talent like this can't be ignored, right?

Every twitter follower gained was another reason to think I was more of a someone than I had been yesterday. Every blog hit a reason to think things were happening for me. And when I started querying my book, you can bet your ass I assumed I was going to be one of the lucky ones.

Multiple rejections?

My work not actually ready?

My query letter sucking?

Nah...

I was, quite obviously, wrong.

Just like the fourteen-year-old with the midlife crisis, I had no one to blame but myself for my misery. Dreams coming true are not usually the stuff of fairy tales. To happen, they take work on the part of the dreamer.

Do I still wish for a book deal? Sure. But I'm also very aware of the fact that focusing on the goal is not the point of The Writing Dream. The point is actually writing. Everything else is just gravy.

Because this *isn't* high school

I ran for Student Council every year I was in high school. And every year, I lost.

To the cheerleaders.

To the football players.

To the homecoming kings and queens.

And yet, I still showed up to the 7:30 a.m. meetings once a week, on the advice of our advisor, and was promptly voted in as an "alternate" by the peers who had kicked my ass in the popularity polls. Should one of them decide that sleep was more appealing than showing up bright-eyed and busy-tailed, ready to Make a Difference, I would get my chance to step in and shine.

I may have lost every election I ran while in high school, but I finished every year off as an official member.

After my freshman year, I really didn't see a point in running an election. the popular kids were going to vote for the popular kids no matter what I said, and that was going to be that. Why bother trying? Why not just slink in to the first meeting and silently announce my intention of replacing the first cheerleader to cry Uncle?

Because I needed to try for me. And when I lost? Again? And Again? I needed to pick myself up and drag my ass to those meetings to show ME that I had it in me.

I'm 33 now. This isn't high school.

And I have a new campaign to run. I am up against my present-day version of cheerleaders and homecoming queens who have a huge head start on me...and I have until 9 p.m. on Friday (pacific standard time) to get enough of you to each cast one vote for me to make it into the top 20.(tip: you don't even need to watch the video. Or "like" anything. As long as you have a Facebook account? You can vote.)

If that happens? I get a chance at a dream job.

If it doesn't? There is no alternate.

I've got one shot. The high school me might have shook my head and looked the other way, figuring, "Why bother?"

Today?

I'm giving it my all.

Thank you for the opportunity.

BlogHer Syndicated Something I Said!

This would be the third item in the Trifecta of Happiness. But that didn't look nearly as impressive as BlogHer Syndicated Something I Said! So I went with that instead. This blog replaced my diary years ago.

It's where I do my writing for me everyday. Knowing that my words are for me first. The three people who read my blog second.

No pressure. Except for when I get bored and obsessively check my stats and realize I passed the three reader mark a while ago and freak myself out of blogging because OMG... PEOPLE SEE THIS THING?

Or like today. You know. When your wildest bloggy dreams come true and BlogHer says they'll syndicate one of your posts?

Yeah, dude. Major performance anxiety.

If you are a regular reader here, please stop by say hello over there. If you came from there and landed here? Please don't be alarmed if I start talking to myself or when The Husband decides to interview me or if I start calling for my finger monkey named Platform. Oh, and that murder rap is all talk. All talk, I tell you! I mean really, have you ever heard of a murderer who writes fairy tales?

*blinks innocently*

I was syndicated on BlogHer.com

Mamavation Monday: Ohm, Motherhood, & As If

"Can I play the Elmo game?" Buttercup hands me my her Nintendio dsi and the game cartridge and waits patiently for me insert the game and turn the system on. "Thank you, Mama." She settles onto her belly and crosses her feet in the air behind her. "Do you need anything else?" I take a quick glance around her room. Water bottle-check. Snack cup with pretzels-check. Baby monitor on-check. "Mama is going to my room now to do my yoga. I'll be right across the hall." "Okay, Mama," she says, sweetly. I should have known better. "Mama! I have to go potty!" Her voice echoes back on to itself through the baby monitor. "Mama! I can't get my pants!" I'm not even two breaths into Mountain pose yet. Dammit. I sigh, pause the DVD, and trip over the puppy and step on a squeaky toy as trudge across the hall to her bathroom. I find Buttercup trying to wiggle out of her cotton play pants. "Oh hi, Mama!," she says as I walk into the room. "Look! I can do it myself!" She proceeds to pull down her pants, set her potty seat on the toilet, climb up onto her stool, and sit herself down. "I couldn't before! But now that you are here, I can! Isn't that silly?" I fold my arms across my chest. Little stinker. "Okay, baby. Good job. Let's get you settled back in your room and then Mama needs to finish her DVD so we can play after." "Okay, Mama," she says. Again, her voice is sweet and full of promise. I try to clear my mind to focus on my breathing, push the puppy away once more, and adjust my feet and stance for proper alignment. Mountain pose. Triangle pose. Warrior. "Mama! I need you!" Mother of... I shake myself from my Yoga haze. "What do you need?" I ask from where I am standing. "I want to play! I want you!" "Can I finish my exercise first so I can be healthy and strong?" I pray for a yes. I need Yoga to relax myself and my overactive mind. I need Yoga to strengthen my core and fight the muffin top. And I need five consecutive minutes to get through one freaking pose. "Mama!" She is crying now but stops cold and breaks into an immediate smile, the last fat tear backtracking as if caught in its own lie, as soon as I come into her line of sight. I make a mental note to sign her up for acting lessons as soon as possible. "Oh, Mama!" she says, sounding believably surprised. I imagine the agents tripping over themselves to represent my future Broadway star. "What are you doing here?" I swear under my breath and remind myself that she is three. An evil little genius, but three, nonetheless. "Baby," I say, "Mama needs this. I gave you time this morning and I will give you more time after I do Yoga, but I need this time for me. Can you please play by yourself for just a little bit longer?" The DVD is 40 minutes long, but I'll be happy with 10 more. Just to squelch the urge to go play in traffic. "Can I go with you? I want to be healthy and strong, too." Her eyes are wide and hopeful. Knowing full well having her in the room with me is going to do no more for my concentration than stopping every five minutes to see what she needs, I say yes. If I can find inner peace while trying to do Yoga with a three-year-old, I'm pretty sure I can find it anywhere. She hugs me. We sit down and she copies my movements as I settle into Cobbler's pose. Breathe in. Breathe out. Breath in. Breathe... "Mama! Look! I am doing it just like you!" "Yes, baby. You are." My eyes are closed. The puppy is licking my toes again. My voice is calm. I am Mother. Hear me...relax.

Mamavation is a social media campaign for mothers striving for better health for themselves and their families. Please check out Bookieboo.com for more details.

Famous Enough

I need a platform.And while Platform The Secret Agent Monkey seems to have taken over my blog, I doubt he alone is going to make me Famous Enough to get an agent or a book deal. But don't tell The Husband that. I'm still working on convincing him that I need a finger monkey or my dreams will never come true. Until that happens, I need to come up with some other Platform Building plans. Right now I am considering any and all of the following:

*Move to Jersey Shore. Make friends with Snooki. Steal a Bumpit. Make it work with my Mexifro. Say something to piss Snooki off (on camera, of course) and let her beat me up (on camera, of course). When she offers hush money to keep me from suing, I counter offer with a contract with her agent and give her back the Bumpit I stole from her dressing room. It didn't work for me, anyway. Then? Wait for book deal. *Divorce The Husband. Move to Hollywood. Shack up with a Rock Star. Divorce Rock Star after granting exclusive interviews to the paparazzi hiding in my garbage cans. Move back in with The Husband (who was totally in on the plan) and grant more exclusive interviews to the paparazzi I invited over for pizza. Wait for book deal. *Get pregnant with 15 babies at the same time. Force The Husband into a reality show he wants nothing to do with. Make sure to get all the free plastic surgery I can while my 15 minutes is still riding strong and a few more when no one will touch me except for my garbage paparazzi crew. But I draw the line at the reverse claw mullet. My Mexifro already has enough "character." Wait for book deal. *A murder rap. Wait for book deal. *Buttercup's cute enough, me thinks. Talk The Husband into moving to Questionable Parenting-ville so we can join up with the Toddlers and Tiara's circuit. I figure just a few appearances is enough to get my name out there before Buttercup is scarred for life. (side note: this plans is banking on a sizable advance, since I'm gonna need a chunk to spring for the preventative therapy to keep my kid from going all Celebrity Rehab on me when she gets older as payback.) Also? Wait for book deal. *Rob a bank. Get lipo and a boob life. And a tummy tuck. Oh, and cap my baby teeth.  Approach Sports Illustrated and get the cover. Parlay that experience into a television show host gig. Divorce The Husband so I can hook up with an ex-actor-turned-musician who is now only famous in Europe and in the States for being married to me. Wait for book deal. *Buy a time machine with the leftover funds from the bank heist. Become a cute child actor who grows up to be a messed up adult who also happens to be broke now because I spent my millions on too much crack and crystal meth. Clean myself up, find and marry The Husband, have my Buttercup, and hire a ghost writer to pen my story, because being famous once is usually Famous Enough for a memoir to actually happen, even if it's socially acceptable to not even be expected to write it yourself. And? I probably wouldn't have to wait very long for that book deal.

I'm still working out the kinks, of course. The Husband is being all You're crazy and Just Be Patient and You wrote a great book and it's cute, but seriously?

I'm just me. I'm not a name. After I end up on the cover of The National Enquirer?

Oh yeah. That's the ticket.

Platform? Here I come.

The Fairy Princess Oath

"Are you ready to be turned into a Fairy Princess"

Buttercup opened her newly painted eyes and fluttered her twinkling lashes before nodding at the woman with feathers in her hair and a paint brush in her hand before raising her own.

"I promise to play with my toys...

Sing songs...

Be Happy...

I promise to eat my vegetables...

Help clean up...

and go to bed early."

Buttercup solemnly repeated every word. Then she looked at me, waiting for me to acknowledge her role. Not only had her daddy already bought her a new pet dragon and a magic wand from the many artisans at the Arizona Renaissance Festival, now she was painted as proper magical royalty should be.

"And that, my dear," said the artist, "makes you a proper Fairy Princess."

Buttercup blinked with wonder. No more pretending. No more need for the powers of imagination. In the land of pirates, princesses, kings, queens, and new glow in the dark pet dragons, she wasn't just play-acting. She just was.

Once upon a time...

I do stupid things sometimes. As in "You were a reporter? Your powers of observation suck!" stupid. I like to say it's a quality that endears me to my friends and family. They like to call me The Mexican Blonde. But back when I was a cute little 21-year-old trolling the internet for a date before it was cool to troll the internet for a date, I was a "Mexican Princess Searching for her Prince" on the Yahoo online dating site. I had my fun. Sometimes, I had three kinds of fun in one day with breakfast, lunch, and dinner dates scheduled with three different guys and picks ups and drop offs scheduled so close my mother would be watching the car of the guy who just dropped me off turn the corner as the next date pulled into the driveway. And because it was the first time I was in control and calling the shots, I had the time of my life. It didn't matter if Breakfast date didn't want to meet up again because I was already booked for the next three weekends and Lunch and Dinner date were asking if they could call again.

Eventually though, the thrill of dating without caring about any commitment wore off. I decided I had had my fun. It was time to delete the inbox of Interested Guys and go on my merry way of just being me.

I remember exactly how it happened. Not really reading, I was clicking checkmarks for a big group delete. There were Joe's and John's and Mark's and Alex's. None of them were ever going to hear from me. I almost missed The Husband in that mass exodus from my online dating spree. Almost deleted my future. But his name jumped out at me. Curious, I clicked on his message and saw this:

Date: Fri, 05, March, 1999

Hi,

I found your ad on yahoo and would love to talk sometime. I am putting a link to an ad of mine here. So if you like what you see, please write back.

I clicked on his ad. And saw a photo of a tall, dark, handsome guy who had a smile that made his whole face light up and his eyes twinkle. My 18 year old sister told me that I had better call him or she would. So I emailed back.

Cue the Mexican Blonde:

My response:

Pauline Campos wrote:

hi!

i love your name! seriously, ethnic rocks! (dude...I would vomit from the perkiness exuded in this response, but I still talk like this.Stop laughing.)

anyway, i saw your page and like what i saw and now i'm writing back. i tried writing on your page but it kept saying "error found". whatever. (Can you say Mexican Valley Girl?)

well- i can't talk much now but if you want you can page me. oh, and you will not find out my name until you page me!

berriesweetest

The miracle is that after The Husband stopped laughing, he paged me. And we lived happily ever after.

Resolutions and Other Things on my To Do List

I have two blog posts left in 2010 to cement my place in history. As what? I'm not sure. Which means I probably should just accept that this and the next post will probably be cute and mediocre, and the world will be a much happier place. Since it's appropriate to sit here and look back over the past year and cry into my cheerios about everything I didn't accomplish while making a list of big dreams to turn into my own realities Santa apparently doesn't read my blog, it only seems fitting to write up my List of Promises to Myself I Will Probably Break of Resolutions.

In the realm of health and fitness:

*Continue to dream about that Husband-sanctioned affair I plan to have with a plastic surgeon so I can score a Mom Job (read: boob lift, tummy tuck, and lipo) while focusing on the reality that I don't know any plastic surgeons to have an affair with.

*Eat right, work out more, and bitch less. Wait...no. If I do that, I have no blog. Ok...Eat right, work out more, and just bitch. Kind of like Nike...only funnier, right? There, that's better.

*Cancel my gym membership. *Screeching halt* What? Yeah, you read that right. While the rest of the free world joins Jenny, starts counting points, or waits for their dehydrated Nutrisystem scrambled eggs to show up in the mail while simultaneously doing 15 sets of squats on the way to their shiny new gym, Me and My cellulite will be walking into my old gym sometime soon to sign the break up papers. Before you get all What The Hell and What About The Search for a Smaller Ass, Pauline?, remember that I don't have time to waste wishing I had gone and then saying Screw it, Where's My Dairy Queen when I could instead be focusing on what I have readily available to me. (Read: My legs, my shoes, two dogs, a jogging walking stroller, and a kick-ass hilly subdivision. Also? Enough dust on the unused exercise DVDs to start my own bunny farm and a pretty new PS3 and Zumba game to get my Latin-Mama groove on. Bottom line? 2011 is the year of no excuses (ok...I'll make excuses. But I at the very least Resolve to make them amusing.)

In the the realm of Motherhood:

*Try to say "In a minute" less often.

*Forgive myself for when I say "In a minute" too often.

*Lather, rinse, and repeat.

In the realm of Wifedom:

*Try to say "In a Minute" less often.

*Forgive myself when I say "In a Minute" too often.

*Lather, rinse, and repeat.

*P.S. Add "sex" to my To-Do list more often. The Husband is happy when this happens. He gets attention, I get to cross something off of my To-Do list without ruining the moment by thinking about what I could be doing to cross something else off of my never ending list, and it's generally a win-win for everyone involved. (Also see "Try to say "In a minute less often.")

In the realm of writing:

*Because I decided last night that I already met my goal of finding an agent in 2010 (Because I did, dammit. I found 25 of them. *Holds hand up* Stop! My blog post. My semantics war.) I figure I can make 2011 the year an agent finds me. In the bottom of the slush pile. In a hopefully typo-free query.

*Make peace with my Chronic Typosis Disorder and just deal. There's a reason I went into REPORTING and not COPY EDITING. Namely, I didn't get the copy editing job. And? I typo like it's going out of style and I just can't let go. We have a neighbor like that. She never met a can of aqua net and a bang wave she didn't like. If she can look in the mirror and think that looks good, I can hit publish on a blog post or write muff top in a query and still think I am a good person, dammit!

*Keep trying. Keep querying. Keep writing. And? Buy more rejection panties. I'm  a big girl with big dreams and (shut up) I can only bitch if the rejections stop coming in. Because that means I've stopped trying. Which isn't going to happen because I just said it wouldn't so...moving on...

*Start that Super Secret Project with Juliette that doesn't involve zombies or crossbows.

*Buy less shoes so I can bank the unspent cash for a writing conference or two. Ok, fine. Less shoes and less purses. And clothes. Definitely less clothes.

In the realm of All Things Pauline:

*Keep dreaming. In the I can do EEET! kinda way and not that Keep dreaming, asshole kinda way. Because I think I can. Even if they say I can't.

Which reminds me:

*Figure out who THEY actually is. Because dude, it's driving me crazy. And...wait...that's an entirely new blog post...

The Merry Christmas Mexi (Mirish)-fro

IMG_0768.JPGThis is me and my Mexi-fro. (Note the litpstick. I make for a cute chia pet when I put in a bit of effort.)

IMG_0767.JPG This is me and my Mexi-fro trying to not look like me in my Mexi-fro in a Santa hat. I'll be honest. I am thinking it's not a good look for me.

IMG_0771.JPG This is me and my Mexi-fro and Buttercup and her Mexican-Irish (otherwise known as Mirish) fro...wishing all of you a Merry Christmas.

Maybe next year I will try to dig up a few childhood holiday photos in the spirit of poking fun at myself and your Christmas entertainment. Your welcome.

Mamavation Monday: Lucky Number 13

I have never considered myself supersititious. Obsessive? Yes.

Obesessive-compulsive? Hell yes.

But superstitous? Nah...

Well...unless you count the me not being able to tell anyone I know about any good news until I am for absolutely certain that whatever good is happening won't suddenly stop, you know, happening.

Or the me making the sign of the cross thing before I drive, pass by a cemetery, or step on the scale.

Or the me closing my eyes thing until I have counted to ten before looking down at the digital display on said scale.

Or the me holding my breath thing while counting to ten in the nude because my bra and panties won't be allowed to screw with my karmic scale energy by throwing the verdict out a few onces too heavy.

*Pauline takes a moment to stop writing and glances at her list. Pauline shrugs her shoulders and goes back to typing, secure in the knowledge that she made the right choice to write non-fiction.*

And did I mention that I can only weigh myself on Mondays?

Or that I am considering naming my scale Louise?

Obviously, I like my scale today. It is, of course, Monday. And today's nude verdict was a very nice minus 2 from last week. Which means?

I am 8 pounds from pre-Buttercup weight.

But more importantly? It means I am now 12 pounds from sitting at an even 200. And? 13 from being able to say I weigh less than The Husband.

I hope you all realize that the fact I even said anything puts me at great cosmic risk of waking up tomorrow with an unexplained 90 pound weight-gain because I violated one of my own I'm Not Superstitious rules. But it's all good. Because as long as I weight until next Monday and strip, hold my breath, step on the scale, hold my breath, and open my eyes after counting to ten, all will be right with the world again.

All I want for Christmas

Dear Santa, I hope this blog post finds you well.

I am sure you have already received Buttercup's Christmas list. And yes, I am perfectly aware that your sled is only equipped to carry so much,with the gifts for children all around the world thing and all, so I am already trying to explain to her that you probably won't be bringing everything on her list.

Don't worry. The Husband and I have got your back. We went out and bought a few things on your behalf and will sit back happily while she praises the man in the red suit who somehow managed to make breaking into homes not only socially acceptable, but a much anticipated event. Props to you, Santa.

Anyway, you can let the Elves know that the Sing-a-Ma-Jigs, Unicorn Pillow Pet, and Disney Princess Movies are already taken care of. We might even spring for the Dora the Explorer Power Wheel Jeep. But the rest is all you. And we'd appreciate it if you could possibly return the favor by sticking "Love, Mama and Daddy" on a few of the things you happen to drop off. Because really? It's only fair. And? We're now broke.

I've already had a few friends and family ask me what I want for Christmas. I've already got my two front teeth, so that's out. And The Husband and I are already on the lookout for another puppy, so don't worry about poking holes in a box for something cute to breathe out of. But really? My list isn't really that long. I'd like a few books, maybe Stephen King's On Writing. Perhaps the complete Harry Potter series because I have never had a chance to read it. (I know. I know. Shut up.)

I'd also like something sparkly. But don't worry. I'll ask The Husband for that. So you're off the hook again. (See how considerate I am being?)

So what do I want you to leave for me under the Christmas tree? My laptop, opened and logged in to my email account (You got into my house, big guy, so let's not be modest here. We know you've got the skills), with a brandy new and very pretty new message from my dream agent. One that, very clearly, states they love me and my manuscript. A contract would be nice, too. But you can save that for my birthday. It's the day after. I can wait.

Just think! I'm saving you space in your sled again to allow for more Christmas cheer. I'm thinking that should count for some points, yes?

I've been a good girl, Santa. Pinky promise. And? I'm leaving you some cookies on the table. But forget the milk. Since Rudolph's the one doing the actual driving, feel free to help yourself to the liquor cabinet.

Sincerely,

Pauline (a.k.a. Aspiringmama)

The 300

Because I enjoy talking to myself, I've decided to commemorate my 300th blog post by having one ego interview the other. It's been months since I have done something like this, and frankly, I've kinda missed me and my witty banter. Let's not focus on the fact that I started the blog in August of 2009 which means I a) have no life b) think sleep is over-rated or c) have no life and instead focus on the fact that I obviously have no life. If this is your first time, let me explain the rules. I am a writer. Which gives me Creative License. Which also allows me to do things like talk to and argue with myself for the sake of my Art and by no means indicates any need for therapy or medication. This Creative License thing also allows me to totally make shit up, but that would be too easy, which is why I write non-fiction. (Side note: my reality is too crazy to make up, anyway.)

Today's scenario: I am a hopeful writer with a completed manuscript in search of an agent and dreaming of book deals, book tours, and being able to afford more shoes after the first royalty check comes in. Wait a minute...

The cast:

*Aspiring Mama: The snarky, cheeky mama writer who happens to eerily match the description of today's scenario.

*Pauline: The cheeky, snarky mama writer who also happens to eerily match the description in today's scenario.

Action!

Aspiring Mama: So, um, what's the point of this again?

Pauline: You are supposed to ask me deep, thought-provoking questions that allow me to showcase my brilliance.

Aspiring Mama: So I'm supposed to answer them for you, too?

Pauline: Let's not confuse the issue here. Or the readers. I think they are already a bit scared.

Aspiring Mama: I know I am. I'm talking to myself. (taking a deep breath) So let's go with something easy. You are celebrating your 300th blog post today. Anything exciting planned?

Pauline: Are you serious? It's a Sunday, The Husband sleeps during the day because he works at night, and I don't have a sitter. So by exciting, if you are referring to this blog post being counted as my only adult interaction during my waking hours and watching Yo, Gabba, Gabba with Buttercup before getting her into bed, waking him up and making his lunch before he leaves for work, then hell yeah. It's a party.

Aspiring Mama: (Clearing throat) Sounds like a great time. (Mutters under breath) Remind me not to ask you how you're doing.So, a lot of blogger peeples like to point out a few favorite blog posts during these occasions. Got any you'd like to highlight for your imaginary fans?

Pauline: Of course! Read up and marvel at my brilliance. (Or snicker quietly and pat me on the head.)

Momma's got a brand new blog

Diva Wants

The Straight. The Proud. The Observant.

What I know

Once Upon a Time

There are more, obviously, but I'm running on empty so let's just move on to the next question, shall we?

Aspiring Mama: Good deal. What else do you have going on? Aside from narrowing down the number of shoes you will purchase when you do make it big and get that book deal.

Pauline: Aside from this enthralling self-conversation, you mean?

Aspiring Mama: Hey, I'm amused.

Pauline: Good, you can comment when no one else does. So what do I have going on? A book I finished. An agent I am searching for. A waist I am busting my ass to find beneath my muffin top. Basically, lots of hurry up and wait with some big dreams and a shit load of effort thrown in for good measure.Oh, and Oprah's couch is out. So I'm hoping Ellen and The View ladies think I am hilarious.

Aspiring Mama: That would be where the Aspiring part of the Mama comes in, I'm guessing.

Pauline: You know me so well. And it only took 300 blog posts.