Reverse Bucket List

Here’s a list of 40 things I did by age 40 (a reverse bucket list):

1. Played Suzuki violin at Wolf Trap, VA and the Kennedy center in DC.
2. Met President Carter.
3. Met Jewel.
4. Got my masters degree (4.0 GPA).
5. Had three babies.
6. Married twice. (Divorced once).
7. completed a 95 day semester on the Rockies.
8. Assisted a midwife at approximately thirty home-births.
9. Got arrested for hanging off the Triboro bridge in NYC to protest ocean dumping for Greenpeace.
10. Edited and self-published my dad’s book for him after he died.
11. Travelled to Europe (Rome, Florence, Siena, Venice, Paris, Amsterdam).
12. Travelled to Hawaii (Kauai, Maui, Hawaii).
13. Got licensed to teach all subjects 4-8 and math 8-12.
14. Started my own math tutoring business.
15. Worked as a classroom teacher for eight years.
16. Went rock climbing all over (VA, WV, WY, CO, AZ).
17. Had sixteen surgeries.
18. Spent two winters studying and teaching in Yellowstone National Park.
19. Kayaked around Isla Espiritu Santo in Baja. (Spent a month there).
20. Played college soccer freshman and sophomore years.
21. Spent a month above tree line in Colorado learning about alpine ecology.
22. Saw the Grateful Dead and Jerry Garcia Band many times.
23. Spent a month living on a hippie commune in Northern California.
24. Started writing a blog.
25. Studied French for six years.
26. Learned to play the guitar.
27. Wrote my first guitar solo.
28. Learned how to do yoga.
29. Lived outdoors in Colorado for a year and half.
30. Was featured in a newspaper for a school project.
31. Wrote nineteen episodes of fiction.
32. Survived a fall/slide all the way down a frozen ski run on Mt Rose, NV.
33. Did gymnastics for eight years.
34. Went on a first date to Paris, France.
35. Drove across the country a few times.
36. Saw over sixty live concerts.
37. Hung a banner from a building for Greenpeace in Louisiana (and didn’t get arrested).
38. Grew up without a father.
39. Completed a sprint distance triathlon.
40. Went to Disneyland and Disneyworld.

What does your reverse bucket list look like?

Thanks for reading this entry. Peace out!



25 Things About Me

I’m flashing back today, looking back over some of the old notes I wrote on Facebook before I started blogging.  Found this list of 25 things about me and got a kick out of re-reading it and thought I would share with updates where necessary.

1.  Like my friend Eve who tagged me in this note, I have a genius IQ, but I knew it when I was a kid and resented the pressure to be an overachiever.
2.  I like beans….and I make a yummy bean salad.  Whatever I cook if I can throw in some beans I will. (Update-I no longer eat beans!  I’ve been following a mostly paleo diet since August (no grains, no dairy, no beans/legumes, no refined salt, sugars, or oils). 
3. I like to cook, and I am obsessed with eating healthy food like lean meats, lots of fruits and veggies, and whole grains. (Update-no more whole grains!  Was diagnosed with gluten sensitivity (click here to read the entry I wrote about it) in May and have been off most grains (except a little rice since August).
4.  I always wanted to be a wife and mother and never really knew what career to pursue when I was growing up.  Click here to read why.
5.  Because of #4, I went to three colleges, took two years off (one to work for GP and do a NOLS semester (click here to read about it) and the other to work as a cook and live in Telluride, CO), and changed my major twice (#1 French #2 Philosphy/Religion #3 Environmental Studies)….didn’t graduate until I was 25.

Telluride, CO from a gondola.

Telluride, CO from a gondola. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

6.  My first ‘career’ was an environmental activist for Greenpeace in Washington DC.

Washington DC

Washington DC (Photo credit: eGuide Travel)

7.  I got my master’s degree in Education and became a teacher after my GP job got moved to Amsterdam;  I was a single mom so I didn’t want to go.
8.  When I was a teacher, I discovered a passion for math, and now that I am a stay home mom I love tutoring math because I can help students learn to love math.  Click here to read about my love affair with math.

Dansk: Dedikeret til matematik

Dansk: Dedikeret til matematik (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

9.  I love to sleep and will sleep until noon if nobody wakes me up.  I also love being pampered like getting massages.
10.  I met my husband, Joe, at the gym when he was working there and going to school and I was his 12:30 appointment for personal training.  We started running together and the rest is history.  Even though he is a lawyer now, we still go to the gym every weekend and love exercising together.

11.  I am lactose intolerant (like most Asian Americans).
12.  I am an extrovert and love to get together with friends, pot-luck style, with good food, drinks and conversation.
13. When I go out, my drink of choice is gin and tonic (Bombay Sapphire) and my favorite shots are Jaegermeister and Tequila. (Update-no more gin or jaegermeister due to food allergies.  The only liquor I drink is Patron silver tequila).
14.  I drink wine (chardonnay) when I’m cooking and with dinner.
15. I am kind of a control freak and always am trying to avert danger and/or accidents, especially with my kids. Like we don’t let them play outside in the front yard without an adult and don’t even get me started on how hard it is to have a 15 yr. old who is about to date and drive etc. (Update-since I wrote this post, I wrote nineteen episodes of fiction. I realized this theme came up in my fiction writing. Click here to read my fiction episodes).
16.  I like heights and exposure, hence my affinity for climbing trees as a kid, my love for rock climbing and high mountains where the earth meets the sky.  When I stand on a cliff or overlook I get the urge to fly like a bird, but of course I don’t have wings so maybe I should take up hang gliding or something?


Split Rock, WY 1989

17.  On the flip side, I am claustrophobic and I would really hate to go scuba diving or caving or anything like that.
18.  I am a big flirt, always have been, in fact I won ‘biggest flirt’ in 8th grade with Bill Schraa who ironically was also voted ‘best couple’ with his girlfriend.
19.  When I go shopping I am all about the sales and hardly ever will pay retail price.
20.  I manage all the money in our household and am good about paying our bills on time or early.
21. I correct people when they use bad grammar (I know that is annoying, but I can’t help it).
22.  When I am going through a hard time, I make music mixes full of songs that reflect whatever it is that’s going on.  Before CD‘s I made mixed tapes.
23.  I always try to complement people and tell them what I like about them (something I learned as a teacher when conferencing with parents).  There is always something nice you can say, no matter who it is.
24.  I spend alot of time on the computer.
25.  I give my kids ‘mommy homework’ if they don’t have any from school and make them do reading, writing, and math all summer (for about an hour a day, it’s not so bad) to keep them challenged.  Click here to read about summer learning.

Fiction Friday #19: Honesty

My Friday Fiction Friends and I write different stories based on the same prompt. This week, Kelly DeBie at DeBie Hive provided the prompt. This is episode nineteen in an ongoing series. If you missed the first eighteen episodes, here are links:

7. Love
     Amanda, Brad, and Robert sat at the kitchen table for dinner.  The lazy Susan in the center was full of the boys’ favorite meal, lasagna, garlic cheese bread, and salad.  Feeding two teenage boys kept Amanda busy, and sitting down to eat together and practicing manners was important to her.  Taking turns serving themselves, Robert kept his eye contact away from his mom because he knew he was in trouble.  With a nervous feeling in his stomach, he started eating the lasagna hoping that it would calm down.
     “Highlights and lowlights.  Robert?” Amanda asked as she poured herself a glass of her favorite Merlot.  She kept a pleasant tone of voice and had a smile in her eyes, attempting to set a positive tone at the dinner table.
     “My highlight is everything, and my lowlight is nothing”  he replied with his standard answer.
     Brad was wolfing down his third piece of garlic bread and mumbled, “uh let’s see.”
     “Finish eating before you answer. Where are the manners?”
     “OK,” he swallowed and looked around as if trying to recall his day.  “My highlight was probably soccer practice, and my lowlight was waking up this morning.  I seriously hate getting up so early. How about you mom? What are your highlights and lowlights?”
     “Well, my highlight is right now. I love being together with you boys.  And my lowlight is getting a call from school today about Robert’s unexcused absence.   What exactly is that all about little man?”  She turned her eyes to Robert and waited patiently for his answer.  Amanda had already raised two teenagers, her oldest Steven was quite a challenge in high school, and Robert was easier because he was her second oldest.   She learned some things along the way raising her oldest.   At eighteen, Brad was past his roughest teenage years and becoming more mature.
     “What? Robert skipped school? What’s up with that little bro?”  Brad laughed casually.
     Robert didn’t know what to say. He didn’t want to tell the truth, and he didn’t want to lie either.  What a bummer that the school calls the parents.  He thought to himself as he avoided his mother’s stare.  He looked out the window, then back to his plate.  “What? I was there!”
     “Robert, come on. Do you think I believe you or the school? You know I am an adult who believes other adults in most cases.”
     “Dude, little brother, do not lie to mom.  She hates that.  You will be better off telling the truth than if you start lying.   Liars need to have a good memory little bro;  once you start lying you weave a tangled web of deception and have to start lying about your lies. It’s confusing brother.   Trust me on that one.  Been there, done that. Remember when I got in trouble for lying about going to the movies and got busted going to my friend’s party?  Mom was so mad dude.  I got my car taken away for a month!  How was I supposed to know she could track my location on my phone? That’s sneaky mom.  I was so stupid.   If you skipped school today, mom can handle the truth. She already knows. Just be honest.  A little bit in trouble for telling the truth is way better than a lot in trouble because of both the behavior and the lying.”
     Robert kept eating, letting his big brother have the floor.  Anything to postpone having to answer his mom.  He didn’t think he would get caught, so he didn’t even have a good story.  Amanda waited patiently, eating her salad and sipping Merlot.  “Wow, your big brother has gained some wisdom has he?”  She smiled at Brad and thanked him for his help.  “He is right Robert.  If you did something wrong, trust me I can understand that.  You are human. We are all human. We mess up from time to time. That’s how we learn, from our mistakes.  This is not my first time dealing with bad behavior, so your lucky to be the youngest.  At thirteen years old, frankly I expect to have some behavior issues.  That’s normal really.   If you skipped school, I would at least like to know why and what you were doing.  I care about you.  And your education is important.  Whatever it was you were doing is not more important than school. You will learn that one day.”
     This was the first time he had ever skipped class, and now he felt so stupid because all he did was walk around.  He didn’t even do anything exciting or scandalous.  “It was math mom. I wasn’t ready for the test.  I didn’t want to fail it” he said softly, embarrassed.
     Brad laughed at him as he cleaned his plate. “Hey now be nice Brad.  Honey, thank you for telling me.  I didn’t even know you had a test coming up.  You skipped class so you wouldn’t fail the test? What did you do? Where did you go?  Were you with anyone?”
     “I just walked around. I didn’t go anywhere, and no I was alone.”
     “And nobody caught you in the halls?”
     “I guess not.”
     “Are you sure that’s it? You weren’t smoking cigarettes or drinking beer or trying drugs were you?  Please tell me there wasn’t a girl involved.  Seriously.”
     “Mom! Come on. No!” Now he was really embarrassed.
     “Because I want you to know you can talk to me about those things.  I know what it’s like to be a teenager, and I know that there are drugs in the schools here.  Don’t get me started on that.  But honey, you are going to be exposed to all those challenges for the next several years.  My bottom line is safety with you boys.  And pregnancy as in not getting a girl pregnant.  I want you kids to stay alive and not get a girl pregnant before you are married. That’s it.”
     “Like Steven?”  Robert was happy to get the attention off of him.
     “Yes, like Steven.  We all saw how stressful that was for both him and Althea at the time, and we see how they struggle now as a young couple.  It’s better if you can get your education and start your career and get married before you start having babies.  But just like with Steven, there is nothing this family can’t handle.  I just want you boys to tell me the truth.  And I will help you handle whatever it is.  Since you told the truth, you will lose electronics for a day, and you will write an apology note to your teacher for skipping her class.  If you were going to concoct a lie about it, the consequence would have been much more serious young man.  Since it’s an unexcused absence, you will have to accept the consequence, which in this case is a failing grade.  Unfortunately you won’t be able to make it up like you would if it was an excused absence.  That stinks, but hopefully you will learn from this experience.  If you need help, just ask. I am good at math!  In fact, why don’t you boys clean up the kitchen after dinner and then you and I will sit down and look at the material.”
     “Yes ma’am.” He reluctantly agreed, knowing that being polite was his best option right there.  Honest and polite.
Truth lies

Truth lies (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Here’s the prompt for the week: “Liars need to have good memories” ~Algernon Sidney
Visit my Friday Fiction Friends to see what they wrote with the same prompt:

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Grass Oil

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The Incompetent Haufstrau

Fiction Friday #18: Good Enough

My Friday Fiction Friends and I write different stories based on the same prompt. This week,Tammy Soong at World’s Worst Moms provided the prompt. This is episode eighteen in an ongoing series. If you missed the first seventeen episodes, here are links:

7. Love


Sometimes is never quite enough

If you’re flawless, then you’ll win my love

Don’t forget to win first place

Don’t forget to keep that smile on your face

Be a good boy

Try a little harder

You’ve got to measure up

And make me prouder

How long before you screw it up

How many times do I have to tell you to hurry up

With everything I do for you

The least you can do is keep quiet

Be a good girl

You’ve gotta try a little harder

That simply wasn’t good enough

To make us proud

I’ll live through you

I’ll make you what I never was

If you’re the best, then maybe so am I

Compared to him compared to her

I’m doing this for your own damn good

You’ll make up for what I blew

What’s the problem…why are you crying

Be a good boy

Push a little farther now

That wasn’t fast enough

To make us happy

We’ll love you just the way you are

If you’re perfect

Alanis morissette

Alanis sang the lyrics that took Amanda back to her childhood and the constant pressure to be better, to be perfect in her parents’ eyes. Despite being divorced and living in separate states, both her parents were disappointed with her for various reasons. First, she was born the wrong sex so that put her at a disadvantage in her father’s estimation from the beginning. First born sons get the respect in Korean culture. Second born children, especially girls are not as valuable to aging parents. Then she didn’t accept the right religion (her mom’s fundamentalist Christianity) or get accepted to the right college (where her father worked) because she didn’t get “good enough” grades. Instead, she rebelled against their advice and set out to create a family of her own that accepted her for who she was.

Looking in the mirror, she saw the same eyes of that young girl and mentally hugged her, saying her mantra to herself. You’re perfect the way you are. Written on a neon green sticky note with a black sharpie, it was hard to avoid seeing it as she went through her daily beauty rituals. Her eyes were the same, but everything else grew up over the years. Her worries, joys, and experiences all carved into wrinkles on her tan skin. Instead of looking for her flaws, she observed with her mind and kept her focus on her golden brown eyes. Another sticky note written by Richard told her, “You are beautiful.”

sticky note

She dabbed concealer under her eyes and on her other imperfections then brightened up her eyes and face with fresh color and black mascara on curled lashes. Careful not to overdo it, she preferred a natural healthy look, plus at this point it was difficult to find the energy to go through her routine. Her counselor suggested it as part of an overall self-care program, starting with basics like hygiene and appearance. So, she woke up early just to take a shower and do her hair and makeup before starting her day. She liked the effects of enhancing her natural beauty with feminine touches, but as with everything in life there is a law of diminishing returns. Too much concealing and too much color makes a woman look fake and desperate for attention. It calls more attention to the flaws instead.

If only it were so easy to conceal imperfections in our lives.

So many things weighed on her mind…Richard, Ella, Anderson, Richard’s affair, life as a single mom, her boys, her granddaughter, her mom in the hospital. Taking care of herself was literally the last thing on Amanda’s mental list, so it really did take effort. Mother’s Day was just a few days away, and she hadn’t had any contact with her mom since her suicide attempt.

Amanda was learning to let go of guilt, and she felt especially guilty that her mom was alone and suffering. Knowing the perfect daughter would fly into town and visit in the hospital with flowers, Amanda gave herself permission to be less than perfect, to be good to herself even if it meant staying away from her mom. Even though it was sad her mom did that, it was even sadder she blamed it on Amanda instead of accepting her problems as her own and attempting to work on those problems with professionals. She certainly wasn’t being and hadn’t been a perfect parent.

I will send her some flowers and a card. That’s something. Better than nothing.

She loved her mom but knew that engaging with her would be toxic, so she stayed away. It was not a utopian mother-daughter relationship. No sense falling prey to a nirvana fallacy. The more Amanda let her mom into her world, the worse she felt and the more stressed and upset she was. Being a mom to her own children took all her energy.

She was thankful for her life and her family and needed to try to stay in a positive place. It was her daily practice to let go of the negative and appreciate the positive. She knew life can change at any moment, and she learned the hard way to love fully while there is the opportunity. Her life was still full of love, and although it felt like the end of the road in many ways, she knew there was beauty in the world. Dwelling on the positive was the best way she knew to keep herself from sinking into deep depression and activating a stress response in her body.


Richard and the boys always made Amanda queen for the day on Mother’s Day. This would be the first time she would celebrate it alone. This year, she would have to see the positive in celebrating it with her boys and her granddaughter. It wouldn’t be perfect, but it would be good enough. Keeping everything in perspective, at least she had three handsome sons and a gorgeous little granddaughter to celebrate.

People in the world are suffering way worse than I am. I am fortunate to have Cassidy and the boys. I am a proud mother and grandmother.

Because of her tense relationship with her mother, Amanda vowed to be a different kind of mother to her own children. And having Cassidy as her granddaughter felt like another opportunity to raise a little girl, one she missed out on when Ella’s life ended unexpectedly. She made it her priority to attend regular therapy and took medication for depression, unlike her mother. She told her boys all the things she loved about them and complimented them for qualities unique to their personalities. She encouraged them to follow their dreams and to believe in themselves. She and Richard tried not to fight in front of the children, and they showed affection in front of them. As far as the kids knew, everything was fine in their marriage except the grief. She tried to shield the kids from her troubles. And she never blamed them for anything going wrong in her life.

I am not perfect, but I’m perfect the way I am.

Feeling Good


Here is the prompt:

Let your characters work through the old saying, “Perfect is the enemy of good.”
Visit my Friday Fiction Friends to see what they wrote with the same prompt:

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Thanks for reading this entry. Peace out!
Related articles

Fiction Friday #17: Mothers


My Friday Fiction Friends and I write different stories based on the same prompt. This week, Kelly DeBie provided the prompt. This is episode seventeen in an ongoing series. If you missed the first sixteen episodes, here are links:

7. Love

Your mother checked herself in last night after an attempted suicide. She is stable physically so far today, but she may need ongoing treatment at a behavioral health facility if she doesn’t show improvement.  She is clearly a threat to herself, so hospitalization is indicated.  And as you know, this isn’t her first hospitalization.  We are lucky she called for help.” Dr. Goldstein explained. “Her suicide note mentioned you by name so I wanted to inform you and see if we might be able to set up another therapy session online.  I know you are far away and can’t drop everything to come into town, although a personal visit is exactly what your mother probably wants.”

“Are you kidding me? What did it say? Why is this my fault? What did she do?” Amanda asked incredulously.  Her heart was beating fast imagining her mom lying in the hospital room alone.

“Amanda, she cut her wrists and then called 911 on herself before it was too late. She talked about the last time she saw you two years ago when she changed her flight and left early because she was so uncontrollably upset. That was  a few years ago as you remember.  She said you haven’t been calling her enough since then. How you don’t even care if she is alive and how she feels ignored and unloved. Your mom is hurting a great deal Amanda. I’ve tried over the years to help you two repair your relationship, since you were a child in fact.  It’s hard for you to understand her multiple conditions, but she feels very isolated and alone. She places an overwhelming amount of pressure on you to take care of her when really she is the mother and you are the child. It’s a classic behavior pattern for parents with Borderline Personality Disorder.  Add depression and anxiety to the mix and she needs a lot of help navigating through her life.  Although as you know she doesn’t like to have a label or a diagnosis or disorder.   I know this is hard for you. So please let’s sit down and talk about this.”

“Hard for me? Trust me I am dealing with a lot. The last thing I need right is for her to blame me for her problems. I don’t have much energy left to give. She is like a sinkhole of emotional energy. This is why I can’t stand to talk to her. Instead of being there for me when my life turns upside down, she makes everything about her….and even worse she blames her misery on me. I don’t know. I need to think about it.  She can’t manipulate me like that.  We haven’t patched things up since she left my house early during that one Christmas vacation years ago!  We’ve barely talked and have only had email communication for the most part.  Communicating with her is stressful for me and toxic to my life.  I’m a mother.  My kids need me healthy and happy.”

“This is a cry for help. She needs you.  She needs help, and I am working with her.  Think about it and let me know if you can make time.  Just call my office, and they will schedule a Skype conference.”

Amanda thanked her mom’s psychiatrist and hung up the phone. They knew each other for years, and she admired his calm demeanor, but knew inside she didn’t have the energy for a face to face meeting with them. Her mom was so frustrating because she was in denial about her mental conditions. She refused to take medication or accept diagnoses, but she claimed that she was overly sensitive and held on to baggage from her past as a defense strategy. On one hand she would say she lived a rough life,  and on the other hand she would say there was nothing wrong with her. She wanted people to feel sorry for her and to treat her differently because she was overly emotional and sensitive. Yet she refused to do anything about her problems herself. She blamed others for her unhappiness and raised Amanda with the constant threat that she might kill herself when they got in fights. Amanda grew up with the uncertainty of not knowing whether she would find her mom dead one day, and that it would be her fault because of something she did wrong. It was a cruel and unfair burden to place on a child.

     Now after all these years, she actually tried it. Unbelievable. I can’t believe this is happening. I need her to be there for me. I’ve lost so much. I’m hurting now. Other people can call their moms when they need support. Other people spend time with their moms, have fun and feel support.

She remembered that Christmas vacation that changed history with her mom.  It was the last time Amanda invited her.  She changed her flight to leave early on the day after Christmas because she was so upset she decided to take herself out of the equation.  She couldn’t control her emotions and felt agitated and upset, living in her own dramatic world.  Impulsively, she came downstairs that morning saying she was leaving a full week ahead of schedule.  Like she was doing us a favor because she caused such a scene in our family’s house the day before.  She unloaded emotional baggage to Richard explaining how her own parents never loved her on the main stairway in the house while the kids retreated to their bedrooms with doors shut to avoid their grandmother’s outburst.  At the time, Amanda did what she knew best.  She let her go.  Richard drove her mom to the airport.  A door inside Amanda’s heart closed when the front door closed behind them.  It was a final physical declaration of what Amanda grew up knowing all along, that her mom was unavailable to her.  Even if they both wanted a good relationship, it just wasn’t going to happen in this lifetime.

Her phone started ringing again.  The ringtone interrupted her train of thought with Jewel’s angelic voice saying “Follow your heart, your intuition. It will lead you in the right direction.”   It was Robert‘s school calling.


“Mrs. Keilsth?”


“Hi it’s Cindy in the nurse’s office at Canyon Creek East.  I’ve got Robert here with me. He is sick and needs you to pick him up.  He’s got a fever of 103 degrees.”

“Oh hi, sure, thank you so much for calling. Be there in a few minutes.”  Amanda pressed ‘end’ on her iPhone and shifted gears.

     I’m going to have to deal with my mom later.  Right now Robert needs his mom.

Mothers Love

Mothers Love (Photo credit: krandolph)


Here is the prompt:

May is the month to celebrating motherhood. Start this week’s post with the following:

“Your mother….”:

Please visit my other Friday Fiction Friends to see what they wrote with the same prompt:

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Susanne’s World
DeBie Hive
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World’s Worst Moms
Clearly Kristal
Near Genius

Friday Ficton #16: Without You

created by Kelly DeBie

created by Kelly DeBie

My Friday Fiction Friends and I write different stories based on the same prompt. This week, I provided the prompt. This is episode sixteen in an ongoing series. If you missed the first fifteen episodes, here are links:

7. Love
Amanda dreamed about Richard every night for a week in a row.  There were bits and pieces of flashbacks to previous memories like the first time they met and the last time they made love. She usually didn’t dream about him, but since he passed away unexpectedly, it was almost all her subconscious was working on.  The press of his lips, his muscular arms holding her, and the sound of his voice all seemed so real.  Other times, the dreams took place in surreal surroundings with imaginary people. This time as Amanda slept alone in her king size bed, he told her he loved someone else and wanted a divorce. There was no emotion, no remorse, just simply stating the facts. He wasn’t attracted to her anymore and found someone else he wanted to be with.  That was it whether she liked it or not.She begged and pleaded with him to stay with her and was so mad at him she even tried grabbing him and slapping him in the face to bring him to his senses. “I know I’m not as young, hot, and cute as she is, but Richard we have children together! I will try harder to lose weight and get in better shape. Please stay with me. Don’t do this!”But it was to no avail. Richard and his mistress, a thing yet curvacious long-haired brunette who looked no older than 25, held hands as they turned their backs to her and walked away. Amanda cried and felt completely defeated as her husband literally walked out of her life.  The woman turned back to give Amanda a sly smile as if to say, “he’s mine now.”Crying out in her sleep, she awoke to see her familiar bedroom windows and realized none of it was real. Her heart pounding and her breath heavy, she told herself it was just a dream, blinked her eyes a few times to focus and rolled over to look at the ceiling.  The fan turned around and around as her mind adjusted back to this earthly realm.Sunlight poured in through the window and lit up her wedding picture on the opposite wall from her bed. She didn’t know what to think. Her new normal included a quieter house with fewer chores and nobody to fight with or blame her for the death of their children. But her new normal also meant life as a single mom. Nobody would be there to comfort her when she had a bad dream. Nobody was there to help with the kids or to share happy times with. It felt like being alone in a crowd. Life would continue around her, but inside she knew she was alone and could only count on herself.

Her book of boudoir photos sat next to their bed. Richard died the day before the pictures came in, so he never got to see them. Amanda scoffed at herself as she picked it up and looked through all the pictures of her scantily dressed in provocative poses.  She wanted so badly to surprise him with something special and to put a spark back in their relationship. She remembered seeing the picture of his mistress wearing lingerie on his phone and a sick feeling came over her. While her nightmare wasn’t real, Richard was cheating on her in real life and wanted to leave her. Plus, she looked way better in lingerie than Amanda did.

How could he stay with me if that’s how he felt? When was he planning to leave? Was there anything I could’ve done to stop him or change his mind?  We made love the morning he died.  Everything felt nice between us. I knew he was distant sometimes, but I didn’t know…

She got out of bed, showered and went to the cemetery after she took Robert to school. Richard’s grave was right next to Anderson’s. It had a lack of green grass growing on top, just a sandy rectangle of disturbed earth. All the flowers from the funeral were gone.  It was obviously a new grave compared to the other two. She placed single roses on each one, pink for Ella, red for Anderson and Richard. She still needed to order him a headstone, so the temporary marker identified the place where the love of her life lay. She realized that’s where she would also spend eternity, next to her husband and kids. But for now, she was still free to live her life.

Angel 013

Angel 013 (Photo credit: Juliett-Foxtrott)

She sat down on his grave. Her legs felt weak as noodles. Her body ached with exhaustion and grief.  Her heart overflowed with emotions.  With a pen and paper, she started to write:

Under the earth you lie

Still as a statue
Frozen in time
Resting forever

Body entombed
Spirit free as a bird
Flying through space and time
Living in the next world

Everywhere and nowhere

Watching and waiting for us

You were so full of life
I didn’t know how fast it would end
Now the story’s told
And I’m here without you

Living, breathing, loving, learning

In the sunlight with the wind in my hair

And all I want is to be near you

Can you hear me?

Can you see me?

I should be mad at you

I should want to leave you for what you did

But I’m not glad your gone

The truth is

I wish you were here with me

I miss your smile

Your beautiful eyes

Your soft lips to kiss

Your strong arms around me

Your sense of humor

Your heartbeat

I miss you, all of you

It’s hard to be here

Without you


Here is the prompt:
Use the cliche, “absence makes the heart grow fonder” in your story (when you are not with a loved one, you tend to miss them more). You decide how to use it and if your character agrees with it or not. As an added optional challenge, use the literary device, “antithesis” (used when the writer employs two sentences of contrasting meanings in close proximity to one another. Whether they are words or phrases of the same sentence, an antithesis is used to create a stark contrast using two divergent elements that come together to create one uniform whole. An antithesis plays on the complementary property of opposites to create one vivid picture. The purpose of using an antithesis in literature is to create a balance between opposite qualities and lend a greater insight into the subject.
Example: When Neil Armstrong walked on the moon it might have been one small step for a man but it was one giant leap for mankind.

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Susanne’s World

Grass Oil

Clearly Kristal

World’s Worst Moms

No Holding Back

Thanks for reading this entry. Peace out!

Twinkle Twinkle Little Star: My daughter’s fiction entry won an award!

English: Twinkle Twinkle little star (English)...

English: Twinkle Twinkle little star (English) Lullaby from the Lullabies of Europe education project (see (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I am so proud of my daughter (12). She won Honorable Mention in the Coppell Gifted Association fiction writing contest. Below are two pictures of her work. I’m so impressed with her writing skills overall and the vocabulary choices and sensitive personal references in her story. Enjoy!



Looking back I realize I lived a good life. Sure, there have been a few bumps in the road, but that’s normal, right?  I’ve made some mistakes but overall it was a good run.

I remember being a child; being so innocent and oblivious to all the bad things in the world. I remember my mother singing to me; my mother, how beautiful she was.  She had flaws like anyone else, but she tried her best to be perfect.  My father; always a strong man, yet he had a soft side for family.  My gorgeous sister; she was the funny one, the light of our family.  My baby brother shone brighter than the sun with his eyes full of wonder and curiosity.  Then there was my big brother; strongest of all fought for our country, and is my hero even through he doesn’t wear a cape.  This was my family, the best of the best.

As time went on, age took its toll…and my parents.  My siblings remain, but age is gripping the eldest the tightest and I know they’re on their way out.  As for me and my little brother, we’re doing alright for now.

I remember being a child; running around the yard playing tag with the little one.  I used to go to the nail salon with my big sister.  Sometimes I would travel to go see my big brother.  I remember being a teenager; and not quite being able to drive, and being mortified that my mom had to take me everywhere.  i remember my first kiss and my first date with a boy.  I remember growing up and realizing that my parents had been right about everything.  I remember my wedding day, and then my first child being born.  I remember both my parents’ funerals, and how tightly the despair gripped me, how emotionally damaged I was.  I remember my little girl turning 5, and all the tea parties we had together.  Then I remember the symptoms, terrible eczema rashes.  I remember going to the doctor and being diagnosed with cancer;  the doctor said it was spreading and I had 1 year to live.  All these memories are laid over me like a blanket.  That doctor appointment was 1 year ago.

Lights out, days end.  Close my eyes, dare to dream.  I remember my mother’s melodious voice singing, “Twinkle, twinkle little star.”  Suddenly I am being lifted out of my body.  “How I wonder what you are.”  My mother kept singing.  I saw the light come closer.  “Up above the world so high.”  I’m now looking down over my very own body.  “Like a diamond in the sky.”  Something isn’t right.  “Twinkle, twinkle little star.”  My eyes begin to open.  “How I wonder what you are.”  My eyes open, and I”m in the arms of my mother.  I’m a little girl again.  My eyes fill with tears.  I’m not dead; I’m surely alive.


Thanks for reading this entry. Peace out!

Friday Fiction #15: Wings to Fly

created by Kelly

created by Kelly DeBie

It’s Fiction Friday and a new month with a new theme: cliches. Starting this month, we are going to rotate giving prompts by the week. This week’s prompt is from Clearly Kristal. My Friday Fiction Friends and I write different stories based on the same prompt. This is episode fifteen in an ongoing series. If you missed the first fourteen episodes, here are links:

7. Love
The next day, they started packing up Anderson’s and Ella’s bedrooms. Once they finished those two rooms, they could start working on the rest of the house. The house was already nicely decorated and usually kept tidy since Amanda was a stay-home mom. It had been four years since anyone touched the two empty kids’ rooms. Bravely, Amanda got to work with all three of her sons, starting in Ella’s room with Brad, while Steven and Robert started in Anderson’s room. Deciding to pack everything away temporarily and not throw or give anything away, it was just a matter of putting things into boxes.
Little Cassidy played on the X-box downstairs in the living room while everybody worked upstairs. She made noises as she swiped left and right to chop fruit on Fruit Ninja. Jumping and laughing, she was totally oblivious to the serious tone of her family upstairs. “Woo hoo, high score daddy! Look!”
“Cass daddy’s busy upstairs now. Good job, I’m super proud of your high score. Try to beat it again!”
Picking up Ella’s bedazzled dance bag by the strap, Amanda zipped it and packed it away as it was. They took the pictures off the walls and carefully bubble wrapped them. Her jewelry went into Ziploc bags, and her posters were carefully rolled up. One by one, they cleaned out her drawers and emptied her closet. Next to her bed sat a small framed picture of baby Ella, taken on her first day of life in the hospital. She wore the generic pink and blue stretchy baby hat that all newborns receive as a welcome gift. Her little face was pink and puffy, but Amanda could see her big girl in that baby’s face, and it was all too much for her. She reached her limit. She sat down on her bed holding the picture frame, hung her head, and started crying. Steven hugged her then took the picture frame from her hands and put it back down on the bedside table.
Charlotte's Newborn Session

Charlotte’s Newborn Session (Photo credit: Christine ™)

“Mom, take a break. I got this. Why don’t you go hang out with Cassidy for a while?”
Nodding her head and taking a few breaths, she agreed with her oldest son and left Ella’s room to check on her granddaughter. Cassidy was still slicing fruit, making samurai moves and grinning ear to ear. “Grammy look I got a high score! Want to play with me?”
Amanda couldn’t help but smile and laugh in return. Such innocence. “Oh honey, I don’t know if I feel like playing now. I’m not feeling so great.”
“Let’s go outside! Daddy always tells me to go outside for some fresh air when I’m not feeling good. We could ride my new bike! You know, my pink one with the bell that you keep here for me to ride? Please Grammy, please?” She smiled a convincing smile and opened her eyes wide with anticipation.
How can I resist her? “Sure Cass, let’s go outside, why not? Get your sneakers on and I”ll go look for your helmet.”
Cassidy had her own bike at her house and was in the process of learning how to ride it. Amanda bought her an extra bike so she could practice when she took care of her. They just took the training wheels off the last time she was over a few weeks earlier.
Outside, it was a beautiful sunny day without a single cloud in the sky. Amanda and Cassidy brought the bike around to the front of the house so she could practice on the sidewalk.
“OK, now remember how you did this last time? Remember to keep the pedals moving forward and handlebars straight. Find your center. Balance.” Holding her gently from behind, she counted to three then pushed Cassidy slightly forward. Cassidy pedaled, and the handlebars wiggled. She put down her left foot to keep herself from falling over to the side.
“I’m going to crash! I can’t do it! Grammy, I’m scared.”
“It’s ok honey, you can do it. It just takes a little practice. You’ll get the hang of it; I promise. Come on, let’s try again. Let’s move your pedal around to the top of the cycle so it’s easier for you to get started. Ready?”
Reluctantly, she tried again. This time she pedaled, and although the handlebars wiggled a little, she straightened them out and kept going straight past the next house on their street.
“I’m doing it! I’m doing it!”
“Yes, you are! Keep going and stop at the alley!” Amanda watched as Cassidy continued down the street and to the alley. Cassidy stopped, turned around and called for her Grammy to help her get started again.
“Try it once on your own and see if you can do it!” she encouraged.
Cassidy paused for a few moments, then started pedaling her way back. Her blonde curls blew in the wind, and her sweet smile was mesmerizing as she approached and stopped her bike. Elated, she jumped into Amanda’s arms. “I did it! I’m so happy!”
“You sure did. I knew you could. High five!” She congratulated Cassidy and decided to bring out her portable chair to the front yard. “I’ll sit here and watch while you do it again.”
Here is the prompt:

Use the quote below to tell the story of how your primary character comes to the edge (a cliché). Note: Your character may/may not fly. However, he/she encourages others to start a new beginning – i.e. to “fly.” Spring offers new beginnings to grow and soar. Tell this story in no more than 1,500 words (no less than 800) with a balance of dialogue and imagery. Now let your story fly!

“Come to the edge, He said. They said: We are afraid.Come to the edge, He said.They came. He pushed them,And they flew . . .” — Guillaume Apollinaire French poet

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Susanne’s World

Grass Oil

Clearly Kristal

World’s Worst Moms

Thanks for reading this entry. Peace out!

Fiction Friday #14: Moving On

created by Kelly

created by Kelly DeBie

It’s Fiction Friday and a new month with a new theme: cliches. Starting this month, we are going to rotate giving prompts by the week. This week’s prompt is from Molly Field at Grass Oil (see below). My Friday Fiction Friends and I write different stories based on the same prompt. This is episode fourteen in an ongoing series. If you missed the first thirteen episodes, here are links:
7. Love
Amanda decided it was time for a fresh start. There were too many memories in the Keilsth family’s four thousand five hundred square foot home. They bought it when their oldest son, Steven, was a baby with hopes of filling up the rest of the bedrooms over the years to come. They wanted a big family, and they wanted to grow roots in a big house where their kids could grow and return as college students to their old bedrooms. They thought of retiring near the ocean eventually, but with their youngest son, Robert only thirteen years old, they thought they would stay in the big house for a while. But everything changed when Richard died; Amanda decided it was time to put the house on the market and start over in a smaller house. She couldn’t stand to sleep in their bed alone or to see the pool where he died every day .

Anderson’s and Ella’s rooms remained untouched since they died unexpectedly four years ago. It was too hard for Amanda to clean out their rooms or to change the decor. A part of her wished that if she left the rooms the same as they left them, parts of her kids would stay alive. She often spent time in their rooms wondering what would have been had they gotten a chance to grow up.

Posters of Justin Bieber still hung on Ella’s walls, and her dance bag still sat on the floor unzipped with ballet and tap shoes sticking out of the unzipped opening on top. Medals and awards lined her shelves. Recital and competition pictures covered the pink walls. Notes from friends lay folded on her dresser, and candid pictures of her and her friends smiled from a bulletin board hung over her bed. Her favorite pink baby blanket waited patiently on her bed for Ella to come back from school that day. She used to joke about her attachment to her baby blanket, claiming to be unable to sleep without it.

Anderson’s room was dark blue. Toy dragons and legos decorated the corner next to his wooden bookshelf. Baby books, handed down from his older siblings were mixed in with stiff toddler books and picture books. The Superman sheets and comforter reminded her of how often little Anderson used to run around wearing a superhero costume. He loved airplanes and anything else that flew. His Taekwondo uniform sat out on top of his dresser waiting for his next class. Portraits of a happy baby boy hung from the walls in the room where her youngest child was growing up, subtle and sad reminders of the potential of his young life.

This was not how Richard and Amanda planned for their lives to unfold. She decided to put the house on the market and downsize to a smaller place. Obviously, their vision for the future had been crashed into tiny pieces, and staying in their family house just didn’t make sense any more.

She called Steven, now 21 to ask him to come over for dinner so they could talk.

“Mom, I don’t know I’m awfully busy. Do you want all of us to come? Althea has class I think. I’m supposed to be taking care of Cassidy tonight.”

“Steven it’s important. Please I need to talk to you. I know you’re busy, just thirty minutes, that’s all I ask.”

He worked part-time as a physical therapy aide while he also went to college, majoring in physical therapy. He had experience as an Army medic and wanted to use it to build a career in the medical/health field like his dad. He was getting used to the role of fatherhood despite its challenges, and he was working toward the idea of a long term commitment (engagement and marriage) with Althea. There was just so much going on in their lives, and they had only gotten back together a few months ago, he wanted to take things slowly and not make emotional decisions. Althea was also in school and working part-time, struggling to make ends meet and get an education at the same time as mothering her little girl. With his father gone, Steven felt more responsibility to help with his mom and stopped by to visit her more often since the funeral.

“OK mom what time is dinner? 6:30 as usual?” He was used to 6:30 being family dinner time growing up and knew it was his mom’s favorite time to eat a family meal together.

Nineteen year old Brad took a year off after graduating high school after the drama of losing his two younger siblings and was accepted to start college at the University of Texas in the fall. He would be moving out of the house and into a freshman dorm on the university campus. He had no idea what he wanted to major in, but he felt it was time to pursue higher education and was looking forward to a whole new life as a college student.

Thirteen year old Robert was Amanda’s youngest child. He still had several years left living at home. Amanda wanted to find something with three bedrooms (instead of six) so she, Robert, and Brad could finish this school year and then it would just be the two of them, Robert and Amanda, living together after that. It would be a tough conversation to have because life would be so different, but she needed to have it with her boys.

That night when they sat down to eat dinner together, she told her sons what was on her mind. Little Cassidy watched Spongebob as she ate her dinner, spilling peas onto the placemat.

“I decided to put the house on the market boys. I know this is the only home you’ve ever known, but it’s time to move on. There is too much sadness, and there are too many memories here. I called my realtor earlier today, and tomorrow we will start getting the house ready to show. I know this is going to be hard for you, but it’s something I feel very strongly about, and it’s something I need to do…for me and for us.”

The boys were surprised but took the news pretty well. In between bites of mashed potatoes with gravy and roast chicken and peas, they took turns asking questions.

“What about school?” Robert inquired.

“We will try to stay in the same zone. I don’t want to disrupt your lives any more than they already have been. I need to think about the finances, and this house is just too big for us. I also…” Amanda broke into tears, “…I also need a whole new reality. It hurts too much to stay here after everything that’s happened. Daddy left us insurance money, but I’m probably going to have to go back to work, and we won’t be able to afford living in a house this big. I need to make a fresh start in a smaller place, and I’m hoping you will both support me in my decision. Our family needs a fresh start.”

“What about Ella and Anderson’s rooms?” Brad couldn’t imagine the thought of his mom packing both rooms away. “Do you want my help in there?”

“Brad, that’s very sweet of you. Yes, I would love your help. I will need your help. It’s been too hard for me to change them so far, but we need to accept the past for what it is and go for it. It’s time. Life is telling us loud and clear it’s time to move on.”

“I’ll help too mom.” Robert added.

Steven agreed it was a good decision and also offered to help. “Mom, maybe you should let us take care of the packing for you. Dad would want us to take care of you. He wouldn’t want you to pack up their rooms alone.” His green eyes mocked Richard’s glances as he waited for an answer. His lips smiled in Richard’s familiar way.

Amanda was so proud of her young men. They all shared a piece of their dad with her and carried on his life in his absence. Amanda imagined all of them together, although there were three empty seats were at the dinner table that night. “Thank you. I love you guys so much!”

Here is the prompt:
Your character (new or old) has been stuck in a rut of inaction or stinkin’ thinkin’, encumbered by doubt or memories s/he has been unable to shake. In a moment of whim and unbridled mirth, who knows: faith? s/he decides to throw caution to the wind and just go for it, do what s/he has been avoiding out of fear, or just sheer bad timing or dumb luck. The stars have aligned: this is the moment. S/he goes for it… you decide if the venture is successful or not.1,500 words max. 50% Dialogue optional, but suggested

Visit the other blogs to see what they wrote with the same prompt:

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Susanne’s World

DeBie Hive

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Clearly Kristal

World’s Worst Moms

Near Genius

Quirky Chrissy

No Holding Back

Unconventional Wisdom

The Incompetent Hausfrau

Thanks for reading this entry. Peace out!

Daybook 4/2/13

Outside my window…It’s getting dark. The sky is a soft pale blue gray with clouds and the sun peeking through as it sets. It rained lightly today, so the ground is a little wet. Yesterday it was sunny and 80 degrees! It’s still warm today, but it’s cloudier. It’s warm enough for the outside pool to be open at our gym. I fell asleep outside there this weekend while I was waiting for a lap lane to open up.

I am thinking…my foot hurts. There comes a time during the day when I have to sit down. We just got back from Thomas’s Taekwondo class. He goes twice a week. Zoe is at dance for five hours tonight.

I am thankful…for life, for my husband and my kids and my relative health.

In the kitchen…dinner is almost ready. Tonight, we are having chicken, vegetable, and rice noodle soup. I roasted cauliflower, broccoli, red pepper, and asparagus then put it all in the food processor. The soup is very thick and chunky with veggies. Yum!

I am wearing…light blue sweats and a black t-shirt from Painting with a Twist (that I won from the weirdest thing in your purse contest during ZTA mom’s weekend).

I am creating…this week’s fiction episode. I have the prompt and am thinking about where to go in the story with it. This week, I compiled all thirteen episodes in one document, Handle with Care, and it was over 14,000 words. I also entered a fiction contest with a $1000 prize and publication with just under 5,000 words.

I am going…to PT twice a week for my knee. I hurt it a few weeks ago. Apparently, my kneecap isn’t tracking right. It hurts to walk and to move it, so I’m focusing on it for a couple weeks to see if it will improve. I’ve learned that kneecap tracking issues can be related to quadricep insufficiency and to stretched ligaments. Although it also hurts on the back of my knee, the surgeon said there is no more meniscus left on the lateral posterior side to tear. He should know because he did the last two meniscus repairs (out of five total on the right knee).

I am wondering…how Zoe did on her STAAR writing test today. She said she thinks she completely misunderstood the prompt. But it’s not like her to be off base during testing. In fact, she generally scores in the advanced categories and sometimes has perfect scores. She said she wrote a personal narrative, and other people told her they wrote expository pieces. Not sure what to think about that.

I am reading…fiction written by other bloggers in our group, Friday Fiction Friends. There are thirteen of us now, and we all write fiction based on the same prompt. It’s interesting to see the different interpretations of the prompts and to meet all the different characters. I’ve also been reading some non-fiction about music theory. I’ve been learning about key theory and what chords go in the different major keys.

I am hoping…we are able to go to Virginia this summer. Our friend is getting married, and we would like to have beach week there attached to that trip instead of going to Destin, FL this summer. We haven’t made any plans yet, but I sure hope we are able to make the trip! It’s been five years since we’ve visited Virginia.

I am looking forward to…summer. I hate getting up early in the morning. It will be so nice to get more sleep in the summer time. I also can’t wait to spend time at the pool with the kids and lying in the sun. The kids can take swimming lessons at our gym too. They’ve done it in the past, but not every summer!

I am learning…the solo for “You Shook Me All Night Long” by AC/DC. I can get through it, but not as fast as the recording and not as good at all. I need to work on speed and techniques like vibrato. It’s hard, but I enjoy it, and I have a guitar teacher who comes over for a lesson every week.

Around the house…got caught up on the laundry today. Rescued a remote-control helicopter from the roof this morning. Refrigerator is majorly full. Sierra’s room is empty again; she went back to college yesterday after spending Easter weekend with us at home. Lots of pictures to frame and hang.

I am pondering…how to get more sleep. Took a nap today, and it was wonderful. I think I need to do that more often. Once I have coffee, I’m usually up for the day and don’t ever try to go back to sleep once everybody leaves for school and work. Bedtime is usually after ten (sometimes I crash earlier) and when the alarm goes off in the morning, I am never feeling rested. Weekends I do sleep in, but getting through the week is rough. I don’t know how some people function on less sleep. I’m just one of those people who needs more than average.

A favorite quote for today…”Seduce my mind and you can have my body. Find my soul and you can have me forever.” ~Anonymous

One of my favorite things…massages (had a sixty minute one today).

A few plans for the rest of the week: gym/pool tomorrow, PT Thursday, tutoring Wednesday through Friday.

A peek into my day…