Monday, September 15, 2008

Being a Good Citizen

Tess, our second grader, came home with an interesting fill in sheet. I am a good citizen because...
1. I return library books so other people can enjoy them at their home.
2. I won't be a litter bug.
Not outside, anyway, but she certainly IS one in our house. ;-)

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Adventures of a Hungry Mom/Food Writer

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Monday, August 18, 2008

Picking Peaches at Chile's Orchard

Okay. So we were revved up about picking peaches at a local orchard. What a great activity for the kids and our friends. Maybe we were a little too exuberant about it. We picked a whole box of them. And as I saw my friend's bill while she was getting check out, I thought GOD WHAT AM I DOING? Her bill came to about $40.
"I am going to need to put some of these back," I said. All I had was $20 and my bank card and honestly, it was a few days before payday, and I was not sure we had the money in the bank to cover it.
"Oh NO, I can't let you do that" the woman behind the counter said. "You can just IMAGINE that we'd have piles of peaches everywhere if we let everybody do that."
My mouth must have dropped open and then I dug out my bank card, saying a little prayer to the gods of checking account balances. And I paid her. But I never will again.
So, here's my thoughts. Couldn't they have taken some of my peaches and placed them on their shelves for sale, with the others? That might just have been a little too much work for them, I guess, considering there were maybe 4 other customers that I saw that morning.
After I thought about, I realized that other people must have gotten snagged too because, well, she readily admitted that others were surprised and wanted to put them back. So. I looked around and did not see any signs posted that warn people "YOU MUST TAKE WHAT YOU PICK."
All of this aside, what ever happened to customer service? If she had ever whispered the words "I'm sorry, but this is our policy..." No. She was nasty and condescending. I have a couple of witnesses—one of whom is an adult.
And I am telling everybody I know. We all deserve to be treated better than that, especially when plunking down almost $50 for a bunch of unripe, rather smallish peaches, that we picked with our own hands.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Toilet Paper Madness

Okay, so I have figured out we are going through one roll of toilet paper a day this summer. Also, since the girls are home most days, all day long, we are constantly running to the grocery store. Thank goodness school starts next week.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

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Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Reading Haven Kimmel

"What if God loves us the way we truly love our children, walking around outside with them and watching them eat cinnamon toast and listening to them talk to imaginary friends on imaginary telephones, and they are becoming and we are becoming with them, because of all this, this life with them, is planted in us and stays in us and it's what we know of love," The Used World, Haven Kimmel.
The Used World is the third Haven Kimmel book I've read this summer. It started with my friend who is an awesome writer, Elizabeth Massie, telling me about A Girl Named Zippy, Haven's bestseller of a memoir. I am writing one, just like it seems everybody else is doing. I admitted to Beth one night that I didn't think anybody would want to read my story. I am not famous, I have not been horribly abused, or overcome an addiction. She said "Read this book."
It sent me on a journey of reading Haven Kimmel, a writer of mostly happy childhood memories. Her fiction is much different and goes really, really deep. The quote I started this post with is one I keep in mind every day as I schlepp my daughter to dance camp every day.
She is nine, no longer a baby in my lap, but nonetheless, I am inspired by her and her sister nearly every day. If I allow myself, between packing lunches, getting baths, fighting about the tv, and gameboy, I can see Spirit in them. I hope it never goes away. I hope the world does not leave them bitter and turning away from love.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Another Quote of the Day

" I like this radio for tv thing," Emma Bryan, 9, about VH1, which she had never seen before today.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Quote of the Day

"I am not a person that likes to be patient,"—Tess Bryan, 7-years old.

Monday, June 30, 2008

Summer in Waynesboro

We've been swimming at the Waynesboro Pool nearly every day. My girls are taking lessons. And I have to say what a great group of teenagers they have as lifeguards and swim teachers. How many young men would want to teach a bunch of little kids how to swim, let alone do it with such kindness that it blows you mind? If you are looking for good kids, and after all, we hear a lot about the bad ones, look no further than the Waynesboro public pool. 

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Tess's Three Wishes

With this week being the last week of school, there is an enormous amount of paper coming into the house. I ran across this in Tess's things. She is 7. And I am going to use her spelling.
My Three Wishes
I wish everybody was a mermaid.
I wish nobody would kill animals.
I wish Brokerobom was president.

Thursday, May 29, 2008


My 9-year-old daughter, Emma, was home from school for two days in a row. She watched the movie E.T for the third time yesterday and decided to write a novel called "E. T. Returns." She took printer paper, folded it in half, stapled a binding, and started writing her book. She was still writing in bed last night, got up to get a drink of water, and said to me, "Mommy, it SO hard to stop writing a novel."
I remember feeling that way. I glimpse that raw inspiration from time to time.
Paying attention to my daughter's words has helped me realize that I am really burned out. This summer, I am going to try to rest and (maybe) write the things that feed me. I'll be getting ready for a lot of action in the fall—pitching articles and working on the publicity for my next book. I want to feel the way Emma does--I have and know what it's like to be on fire about your work. There's nothing more fulfilling.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Springdale Water Gardens—a Gem in the Valley

I love this place. To me, seeing a water lily float on the water, with its petals opening, lifting to the sky is like seeing a piece of magic. It's so tranquil.
If you are a gardener or water gardener, chances are you've heard of Springdale Water Gardens—they are a national company sending out their water garden products all over the world. And they are right here in the Valley. I was lucky enough to go on a field trip with my daughter's first grade class to visit this amazing place. I thought I'd share some of the pictures I snapped.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Little Writer

Emma, my 9-year-old, has had rough year. Third grade is tough and she is bright, but a bit dreamy and creative, and would rather be outside playing than studying for exams. (Wouldn't we all?) Luckily, she has a very involved teacher, who has been careful to encourage Emma's natural abilities, along with trying to get her to work harder on the things that don't come as easy to her. This year, she chose Emma to attend the Young Author's Night—which is a program they send talented and gifted writers to in the Spring. Kids from Staunton, Waynesboro, and Augusta County are selected to go. It makes them feel so special. One author talks to them about her life and what it's like to be a writer. Emma came home so inspired that she started to work on a mystery novel.;-) AS to how I feel about my daughter perhaps following in my foot steps...well, let's just say that a mixed of of emotion that might be better left for another post.

Here is the story Emma wrote that got her into this event and the one she shared while she was there. (Okay I am bragging and I am using my blog to publish my own daughter's story, wouldn't you?)

Don't you want to know about when I got lost at the children's museum in Lynchburg? It was July 27, 2006. I finally got to the children's museum after one hour of waiting in the car. We finally got to the the children's museum in Lynchburg. I jumped out of the car and raced to the door. I pushed open the door and glanced at the inside playground.
Soon after we got to the museum, my Dad asked me to climb all the way to the top floor, I said yes. So, I climbed to the last floor. I saw a tunnel through the playground. It was the only way to get to the next floor. So I went through and I got scared. Suddenly, my dress was caught on something so I turned around and saw a family. I screamed so loud that a lady who worked there heard me. She crawled in and found me. She grabbed me. She finally got me out of the terrible place. I looked behind me and saw a sign that said "tunnel of horror." I started to cry and asked the kind lady will I ever see my mommy and daddy again? Yes, she said. But it didn't sound like the lady. I looked up and saw my mommy.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Rainy Spring Day

It's been raining off and on all day. Now the rain is falling steady and I can hear it pounding on the roof. Spring rain is a joy—you can feel and see all the buds and shoots just soaking up the moisture.
Sometimes I wonder what I am doing here in this Valley that is in some ways so behind the times. I wonder what I am doing at my keyboard. Am I writing? What will become of the bits and pieces of poems and stories I have scattered? Do they have any meaning? Will they sprout into more?
I can hear the birds chirping, along with the rain, outside my windows. My office is a sun room that we made into a space that was supposed to be just for me. But like so much at this time in my life, it has turned out not to be that way. Finding the time to write is not any harder than finding the time to actually think a complete thought, which sometimes is almost impossible. That tell you something about me and my life. Scattered is the best way to describe it.
Sometimes I have moments where I can see with clarity and have the space to explore it. Few and far between.
Still there is the rain. something to bring joy and flowers and green. Everywhere, the green.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

New Column in Gannett's News Leader

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Tuesday, April 1, 2008

L'Italia in Staunton Rocks My World

A few weeks ago (okay I know, I am really behind...) we went to L'Italia in Staunton, Va. We rarely go there because it's a little pricey and because it's in downtown Staunton and can be a tricky parking situation. In any case, I'm so glad we went and I plan to go back. Let me put it to you this way: I'd walk blocks and blocks and up and down several mountains to go back and eat their eggplant parmesan. Not only was it the best eggplant I have ever had in my life, it was quite possibly the BEST THING I HAVE EVER EATEN--EVER!
Okay, so what do they do with the eggplant? How do they make it so perfectly--soft, but not too soft, not stringy or seedy in any way? I wonder if they would tell me. I sort of asked the Zac Efron-look alike waiter, who politely shrugged and said he did not know. But he added that they use fresh and locally-grown ingredients. Could that be it? Hmmm. I wonder.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

NPR Story Affirms Creative Play

There's a great story on NPR today. My husband heard it first thing this morning and made sure I heard it on the next repeat. It's about the way most children don't play the way they used to and it's preventing them from learning how to self-egulate, an important skill. We found this affirming for our lack-of-structured-play method of parenting. We do play with our kids—I am not saying we set them off on their own with no interaction with us. But we refuse to buy the latest electronic gadgets and doo-dads, try to limit their tv time, limit outside activities (like camps and lessons), and offer them imaginative play toys. Like dolls. Our girls come up with elaborate plots and themes with (or without) their dolls. Some people might think it odd that my older daughter, Emma, at the ripe old age of nine still even plays with her dolls. I encourage it because it feeds her imagination. Even though her wild imagination has gotten her into trouble at times, I'd much rather go through those growing pains with her than not have helped her to have this wonderful inner life that will get her through life in a more enriching way. Our summers, for example, are not spent rushing from camp to camp. Even if I had the money for it, I would not go for all the summer running I see some of my friends endure. I also am not one to set up play dates a lot because I really enjoy my kids and especially in the summer when there's no school work, we enjoy kicking back together. Play dates are wonderful-I am not saying we never do them. It's good for kids to play with other kids, visit other families, and so on. This year, we've met a family whose imaginative play ranks with our own and even though there some age differences, they all enjoy one another's company. In fact, we know several families like this. And recently we had a a birthday party during which I tired to impose some structure on these children and guess what...the day was just too beautiful to stay inside and watch a movie. They ended up in our backyard, tossing balls, chasing one another, and digging in the dirt. Nobody could deny that was much better for all.
Check out the NPR story.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Feel-Good Vegetarian

I am feeling really good about being a vegetarian today. This last beef recall seems particularly menacing. A meat-eating friend of mine called last night with a pledge that she was not going to eat beef again. I have not seen the footage she talked about, but evidently, it was all over the news—the way the sick cows were being treated has been documented by mainstream media. The thing is those "crazy" animal rights people have been trying to tell people for years that animals are being mistreated in the huge factory farming institutions that most of U.S. beef comes from. We don't want to see it, or hear it. We can't imagine a life without meat. I haven't had meat in over 20 years and I really don't miss it. I am pretty healthy. At times, I get really sick of apologizing for my personal dietary choices. Living in the Shenandoah Valley, sometimes I am treated like a bit of a freak because I don't eat meat. The mention of my vegetarianism once stopped a room full of people, who stared at me, until I explained that, yes, I was the one who asked for a veggie burger and no I am not the freak they thought I was. I have also been snubbed by "open-minded" foodies, as well. I am tired of it. You can live however you choose. As for me, I am walking and eating my truth—and I feel good about it, especially today.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Ice Images by Waynesboro Photographer Christy Majors

Another quote from Tess

"Green apples are better than cake," Tess, age 6

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Yoga in the Kitchen

Okay. When your child is home sick, and you have a few deadlines looming, you might think you are a smarty-pants Yoga Mom and sneak in a Downward Dog while you are waiting for the toast to be done. Don't do it. You will see the crud underneath your cabinets and it will haunt you all day.
Just a word of advice. This did not happen to me. Really....

Monday, January 14, 2008

quote of the day

"Sometimes watching my mommy is like watching tv," Tess, age 6.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

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Friday, January 4, 2008

Top Ten things I Say ONLY to my kids

What do you say to your kids?

I've read a lot about what strange things come out of kids mouths. You know "out of the mouth of babes" stuff. But have you ever listened to yourself talking to your kids? I started to keep a list of stuff I say to them that I would never say to another person. Ever. Maybe you have a few of your own. Feel free to add some here.

Okay here are mine.

Please don't lick the table.
Don't eat your boogers.
Let me check your bottom.
It's okay to play with yourself, but just do it in private, and certainly not around your grandparents.
If you say vagina or poop one more time, I will scream.
Yes, I think the tooth fairy and santa actually know one another.
Is that you I smell?
Where did you get those underwear?
No, the Easter bunny does not smell like a dog.
I know you like to be naked, but please keep your clothes on.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Quote for today

The impulse for much writing is homesickness. You are trying
to get back home, and in your writing you are invoking that home,
so you are assuaging the homesickness.
- Joan Didion