Siblings who Create

I create with words.

My sister creates with fabrics.

My brother creates with photographs.

We are siblings who create.

It has been a long week here at my house. While I wish I had more time to write some deep insightful posts, my brain is begging me for short snippets of life.

I’m attempting to take part in the “The Fifth Annual Slice of Life Story Challenge” through the month of March. The challenge is run by Two Writing Teachers.

The Word Count

Today I submit an article to a client. One of my favorite parts of the writing process is watching the number of words change until I meet the word count limit.  I thought I would share my word count process from this article.

The words are from 4 sources, 29 single pages of handwritten notes from the phone interviews, 9 typed pages of notes and snippets from 6 supporting documents from sources.

Word limit of article:  1700 words









An interruption of two battle droids (aka my two boys) who snuck into my office to “attack” me. They didn’t expect me to play along. I ignored them, “collapsed” on the floor and waited. Silence and then giggles.
















Under the 1700 word count!

I’m attempting to take part in the “The Fifth Annual Slice of Life Story Challenge” through the month of March. The challenge is run by Two Writing Teachers.

A List of Middles

We are a family of four.  Two adults. Two children. Well sometimes one adult and three children. 😉

Our kitchen table has six chairs. Three on one side.  Three on the other side.  Two middles.

My sons fight over the middle chair on one of the sides.

They run to the table and almost dive to the middle chair.

“It is mine. I get the middle,” they scream as they run.

They seem to forget there are two middles. If they just took the time to see and focus on something other than beating the other, they would realize there are two middles. One on each side. One for each of them.

But they overlook the “other” middle.

What middles do I often not see…

Middle of the Oreo – Isn’t it truly the best part!

Middle of a Twinkie – I haven’t had a twinkie for quite a while.

Middle Earth – Wait is that real or imaginary?

Middle Finger – Oh, to explain that to a young child.

Middle C – I know where it is on my piano. Do you?

Middle Children – I’m the oldest child married to an oldest child. I so don’t get middle children sometimes. 😉

Middle Line Backer – Yes, my husband was helping me with this list. 🙂

Middle of the Donut – Reminds me of a funny donut story my college friend told me once.

Middle of the Night – When my kids typically get sick.

Middle of the Inning –  I thought of that sports one, not my husband.

The Middle Lane – Whether in driving or swimming.

What “middles” can you add to the list?

I’m attempting to take part in the “The Fifth Annual Slice of Life Story Challenge” through the month of March. The challenge is run by Two Writing Teachers.

Laughter in the Midst of Grief

My son missed his own funeral.

Yes. You read that correctly.

My son missed his own funeral.

I can laugh at it.  It is one of the aspects of Aidan’s life that brings me a lot of laughter. It is where I can clearly remember laughter in the midst of grief.

Aidan only lived for 4 1/2 hours.  He was born, lived and died in the hospital.

I don’t remember much of the funeral planning.  While I was physically recovering from having a baby and some complications I had in those last days of pregnancy, my husband took care of all the details.

At the time we had only lived in Pennsylvania for about 2 years.  My husband’s family lives in Virginia.  My family in Minnesota.  We decided to bury Aidan in Virginia.

He is buried in a little country church cemetery.  It is a peaceful place with winds blowing across open fields.

Keith’s grandfather is now buried next to Aidan.  Their plots are on the end of the row approximately three or four rows in from the black garbage can at the end of the cemetery. Aidan’s grave marker sits crooked in the ground.  We never noticed that detail before.  Each time we say, “oh we need to have someone check into getting that fixed.”  Funny things to remember about your son’s grave site.

Back to the story…

Since Aidan’s body was going to be crossing state lines, the funeral director in Pennsylvania made arrangements for Aidan’s body to be flown to Virginia. Of course, it required a layover in Texas.

The day of the funeral, I was getting ready upstairs in the bathroom at my in-law’s house.   The phone rang.  I thought nothing of it.  Keith came upstairs to find me. He sat down on the closed toilet.  He said, “Um, there is a bit of a problem. Aidan’s body is stuck in Houston. He missed the connecting flight. He won’t be here for the funeral.”

And that is when it happened. The laughter.  Not a little chuckle. A deep rolling laughter.

My son. The one who defied odds. The one who shouldn’t have been born alive. The one I should have miscarried. The one who shouldn’t have squeaked at us for a few short hours.  He was having an adventure.  He was flying all over.  He was missing flights. He was traveling to a place I had never been.

He was missing his own funeral.

I remember my mother-in-law peeked around the corner as Keith and I laughed, hugged and then shed a few tears.  Yes. We were laughing.

It ended up being a beautiful funeral for our son. Instead of his casket being in place, we had a little display.  The few pictures we had of him. The baby blanket my sister had made for him. A few flowers.

And the next day, the immediate family gathered once again.  Just family.  Family that was saying hello to Aidan for the first time.  Family that was saying goodbye to Aidan.  Family that was shedding tears of not getting to hold this precious little boy.  Family that was grateful for the few hours they got with Aidan when he was alive.

I can still picture my mom and dad lovingly stand over Aidan’s open casket and gently touching his skin.   I can still see the image of Aidan’s uncles carrying the small casket to his grave site. The stillness. The quiet.  The reflection. The wondering. The questions.

And yes, the laughter.

Laughter in the Midst of Grief.

I’m attempting to take part in the “The Fifth Annual Slice of Life Story Challenge” through the month of March. The challenge is run by Two Writing Teachers.

I can’t do it all

Can I let you in on a little secret? Probably one that not very many people know.

I don’t clean my house.

What you scream?

Wait. I didn’t say I live in a dirty house. I simply said I don’t clean my house.

Yes, I pick up after myself. Yes, my boys are supposed to clean their own rooms. Yes, my husband helps with daily housework. Yes, the dishes are done. Well, they are almost done some nights.

For years I have struggled with keeping a clean house. I have tried different planning schedules. Yes, we have put a cleaning schedule on our fridge. I have tried different ways to help me stay on top of cleaning bathrooms, mopping floors, and dusting. I have tried different cleaning products that are supposed to save you time and energy.

Yet, it was never enough because there was always something else calling my name – time with my family, finishing my masters degree, taking care of my children, working out, working on a freelance project. You name it and it probably was keeping me from the time to clean.

Over the years, I have thought about having someone help me. When I worked full-time before kids, I thought about it. I’ve thought about it when I’ve had an incredible freelance load. I’ve thought about it while trying to balance my responsibilities with my husband’s responsibilities. I should note he is a wonderful help to keeping our house in order, but he also runs his own business, coaches baseball, spends a lot of time with our boys and finds time for himself too.

I always found some way to out-justify my desire to have someone help me. Sometimes it was the cost. Sometimes it was the fear of having someone see the nitty-gritty corners of dirt in my house. Sometimes it was just laziness of not knowing how to find help.

That changed this year thanks to my mom’s simple question, “have you thought about having someone help you clean your house.” I had to chuckle in a way because my mom is super busy too. I remember her always struggling to stay ahead of a clean house as she and my dad worked together to build their own business.

So I did it. I called a friend who cleans houses. I asked for her help. And I am so glad. It is one less thing for me to think about in the midst of freelance writing projects, homeschooling, managing the behind-the-scenes of my husband’s business and treasurer responsibilities for two non-profits in which we are involved as well as being a mom, a wife, and just me! It is one less thing to stress about in my life.

Why am I posting this today? Because this week she should have been here to clean my house, but she is on vacation. I miss my clean house as I remind myself to make sure to vacuum before she returns to my home in two weeks. I miss her help as I’m under a “real” writing deadline. I miss having her around to chat with while she is cleaning and I’m working, teaching, or anything else other than cleaning my house! I simply miss this important part of and friend in my life because “I can’t do it all.”

What gets pushed to the side of your life because you can’t do it all? Is there a way you can change that?

I’m attempting to take part in the “The Fifth Annual Slice of Life Story Challenge” through the month of March. The challenge is run by Two Writing Teachers.

A Sick Child Changes Everything

It is Thursday. Our busiest day of the week.

A sick child changes everything.

Instead of spending the day with our homeschool friends, swimming lessons and gymnastics, we are huddled on the couch watching tv shows with our sick supplies nearby us.

Here is hoping that this nice little bug moves quickly through our family or leaves after only infecting one.

I’m attempting to take part in the “The Fifth Annual Slice of Life Story Challenge” through the month of March. The challenge is run by Two Writing Teachers.

Swirling Thoughts

I have a million ideas floating through my head. Okay. Maybe not a million but a lot. One of the things I’ve learned about myself through the Slice of Life challenge is that I have a lot more creativity in my head than I think.

I know that sounds funny coming from someone who is a freelance writer and editor. I have to use my creativity with words all the time – especially this week as I am working on a (paid) 1,700 word article under deadline.

Yet, I’m used to working with clients who give me a topic to research and write. A list of contacts. A main idea of the article. The start of questions to ask and answers needed.

This blog challenge has reminded me that my own thoughts are worthy of my words and creativity. And even if no one else reads them, they are worthy of my energy.

And now I must focus that energy as I have a million thoughts swirling through my head. Okay. Maybe not a million. Just a lot!

I’m attempting to take part in the “The Fifth Annual Slice of Life Story Challenge” through the month of March. The challenge is run by Two Writing Teachers.

If only she knew….

“Oh, you have two boys with Irish names. How cute,” the lady said to me.

“You really need to have a little girl. Caitlin would be a beautiful Irish name for a girl,” she continued.

I cringed and laughed it off.

“No, I am fine with my boys,” I nicely replied.

“Well you must try,” she said with a smile and a glimmer in her eye.

Outside, I was laughing. Inside, I was thinking “if only you knew.”

If only she knew I really had three boys with Irish names.

If only she knew I buried my firstborn son who only lived about four hours. We learned about his rare trisomy while I was pregnant.

If only she knew the dread I felt while pregnant with my two boys. All our baby planning was put on hold as we waited for each level-two ultrasound to tell us that I was carrying a healthy baby.

If only she knew that social workers visited me in the hospital after each son was born. “We read your records. Do you need to talk about your first son?”

If only she knew that my third son’s port wine stain on his face was the cause of alarm after he was born. Thankfully he is fine, but there was quite some concern about his brain tissue development when he was first born.

If only she knew the number of appointments with specialists my third son has endured.  Eye doctor. Dermatologist. Plastic surgeon. Eleven laser treatments.

If only she knew how thankful I was for two healthy boys.

If only she knew the agonizing decision process it took for my husband and I to decide we were done having children.

If only she knew that I dread any questions about how many children I plan to have, when I am having the next one or when I am having a girl.

If only she knew that I am asked these questions all too often.

If only she knew that if she presses me hard enough, I will tell her why there are only two boys.

If only she knew I would give almost anything to have my Aidan back with me.

If only she knew that I have to go to my son’s grave site for my three boys to be together.

If only she knew that my family will never quite feel complete.

If only she knew. But she doesn’t.

I simply laugh her comments off instead of telling her my life story. I don’t want “the look.” I don’t want to make her feel bad for asking. I don’t want to cry.

If only she knew.

My son Aidan would have been nine this past December. You can click to my blog post on his birthday here.

Also, occasionally I will go into my story with random people. I quickly consider a lot of factors as to whether to go into such detail with someone.

I’m attempting to take part in the “The Fifth Annual Slice of Life Story Challenge” through the month of March. The challenge is run by Two Writing Teachers.

Field Trip Day

Today I don’t have a witty post. I don’t have a deep and insightful post.

Today I simply post that it is FIELD TRIP DAY in our homeschool life.  Off to a science museum we go with some of our homeschool friends. 

Who knows what wonders we will discover. 

Who knows what inspiration I will find for tomorrow’s post.

I’m attempting to take part in the “The Fifth Annual Slice of Life Story Challenge” through the month of March. The challenge is run by Two Writing Teachers.

Mercedes Mom

She is the Mercedes Mom. That is what I call her. I guess she could call me the Honda Mom. How sad that I am identifying her by the car she drives. You see, I don’t know her name.

She and I spend an hour together each week. We both walk into the gymnasium. We glance at each other and say hi as we find our separate seats on the metal bleachers.

She pulls out her Kindle. I pull out my magazine or my blackberry.

My young son asks her young son to play.

She and I exchange smiles.

We continue reading in our own worlds.

My older son and her older son follow the instructions for their p.e.-type class.

The little girls who think they “own the place” cause a bit of trouble in the bleacher area. Mercedes Mom and I glance at each other. We each shake our heads and roll our eyes.

Our boys get a little loud. We both tell them to make sure to quiet down. They start running on the bleachers. “Stop and find a place to sit,” we both caution.

Mercedes Mom and I seem to be very similar except for the one comment she made a few weeks ago.

“I detest this hour,” she said in her frazzled voice.

I cringed. I know frazzled. I often feel frazzled, but I actually enjoy this hour. I enjoy watching my son thrive in his class. I enjoy watching for his thumbs up signal. I enjoy watching my younger son as he meets new friends and makes sure he brings enough “good guys and bad guys” action figures for his friends waiting on the bleachers. I enjoy sitting with a magazine or my phone and just being in the moment.

Detest is not the word I would have chosen. Maybe we aren’t that similar. Maybe she has a much deeper story behind her word choice.

Maybe this week I will ask her name.

I’m attempting to take part in the “The Fifth Annual Slice of Life Story Challenge” through the month of March. The challenge is run by Two Writing Teachers.