Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Get it Together Girl Radio - My Interview



Early in the month I had the opportunity to talk with Karyn Beach over at "Get it together girl"...I enjoyed the interview and look forward to speaking with her again. We chatted about bullying and how my book helps counteract some of the emotional scars that result from bullying. I hope you enjoy the interview as much as I did.
If you are interested in my book you can find it online at Barnes and Noble and Amazon. Amazon- Red is the Color of...    and Barnes and Noble - Red is the Color of...




Check Out Women Podcasts at Blog Talk Radio with Get It Together Girl on BlogTalkRadio






 

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Fireworks Grinch...

I will admit it, I am a fireworks Grinch. I didn't use to be this way, but something happens when you have a small child - sleep not reverie becomes your biggest and most precious desire. I became aware of my severe dislike of fireworks the first 4th of July after my son was born, he was not more than 5 months old, and had just fallen peacefully asleep! Yes!!! My excitement at maybe attaining a beneficial nights sleep was about to commence...when I heard the first BOOM and then the terrified crying of my now petrified and very awake baby. That evening, after my child was awakened not once, not twice, but multiple times; I began to dislike fireworks. The night after when the same scenario played out I began to loathe fireworks. When New Year's Eve rolled around I came to hate fireworks. As I watched the sky light up from the upstairs window, holding my screaming child as another explosion rattled the house, the feelings of malice towards all human species that owned a firework crept in...that evening I turned into the fireworks Grinch.



Now, let me say that fireworks have changed a bit since I was a kid. I do not recall being able to buy amusement park grade fireworks at the local stand, we (at least in my house) were limited to the small poppers...you know black cats, roman candles, the exploding tanks, sparklers, etc. Apparently now, one must buy fireworks that not only light the entire sky up, but they also have to have the capacity to wake the entire neighborhood up.  Also, in my day, fireworks were reserved for the actual HOLIDAY. I know this may seem foreign, but the 4th of July and New Year's Eve only last a day. That's right people a DAY, uno dia, 1, numero uno, ONE DAY! Yet it seems that the people who dropped serious cash on these fireworks believe these holidays last for a week or more. Parents can often endure the chaos for a night, but after the loss of several nights sleep the desire to bring the pain to the revelers escalates...quickly. Let me let you in on a little secret, lack of sleep causes the rational person to suddenly become IRRATIONAL. (I remember reading about a woman last year, who began hurling flaming poopy diapers over her neighbors fence after they kept up the fireworks barrage for several days. All she wanted was a peaceful nights rest. ) I realize that many people do not have small babies in their homes, but I do wish that they would keep in mind that in a suburban area the odds of several people having small ones is high. Also, let me just say that a fan or a noise machine in NO WAY covers up the galactic boom created by your freaking firework...so please don't tell me to turn the fan or sound soother on. It's laughable to even suggest it. Now spraying your fireworks down with my water hose does help the situation..well in my mind it does.

I am a fireworks Grinch. I proudly admit that I pray for rain on any holiday that involves fireworks, I cackle at every dreary forecast...I will even call the police (that's right you heard me) if you pop one off  days after the holiday has ended. I am a  rotten, cold hearted fireworks Grinch...and I make no apologies.  So beware fireworks junkies...there may be a Grinch next door...and like Zombies we multiply fast...because we are sleep deprived and angry. With one pop you may just incite the grinchy zombie apocalypse...



Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Santa remembered: Grief during the Holidays

Grieving, even as a Christian, is hard. The extreme sense of loss of a loved one can never be explained to anyone who hasn't walked behind a casket. The sorrow is ever present, and you never really get over it - it has been almost 4 years since my father's death and I still struggle. The holidays can make grief even more painful; making the season anything but joyous. For several years, I let my grief hang over my head like diseased mistletoe and I stuggled to overcome the pain. I didn't want to walk the memory halls of Christmas' past; I didn't want to remember. I put away anything that would make me remember - photos and letters - packed away. Yet, like a candle piercing through the darkest of nights, memories rushed upon me and there was nothing to do but open those doors that I had long left closed.  To my surprise,I found joy again, not like before; but there is was waiting to be opened, written by the hand of a long lost friend.

My father was born on Christmas Day, so it was fitting that his favorite holiday was Christmas. Every year he would begin the season, at Thanksgiving, by playing Bing Crosby and Nat King Cole's holiday albums. I remember coming down seeing him dancing in the living room, by himself mind you, and singing loudly. My father understood that Christmas time was a special time of year - it was a time of magic, fun, and reverence. He encouraged us to believe in the unbelievable- that there really was a Santa and that many years ago a Savior was born.
 I remember one Christmas sneaking down the stairs because I believed I had heard Santa. I peeked around the corner to see my father sitting by the fireside, Christmas tree lights illuminating his face, drinking hot chocolate. He then turned around and said, "Why don't you come here and wait on Santa with me." I jumped into his lap and snuggled deep; comforted by the thought that my father believed in Santa too. I never saw Santa that night, due to the fact that I fell asleep; but in the morning there was a letter addressed to me from Santa. It said, "Sorry I missed you little one. I kissed you on the cheek. Merry Christmas, Your Santa"
 From then on I never forgot to write Santa a letter, and every year he would write me back. The last letter I ever wrote and will ever receive was December 25th of 2010.  At the time, I took the words for granted, but now they hold more meaning, because in his own quiet way my Dad had given me a ageless Christmas present for the soul. These are the words he wrote...


Dear Ones,

                The Ringing in your hearts will never cease as long as there is believing - in love, in goodness, in gentleness, in kindness, in Christ. No light can ever go dim, nor ever cease, but only brighten with Christmas in our hearts. The lights and bells of Christmastime will always remind us to hold fast to these truths. My joy is knowing you have chosen well for all Christmas'.

Merry Christmas, Your Santa
 
Christmas in our hearts...such a simple and complex statement. How can I keep Christmas in my heart when I am grieving? By letting the holiday in. It is as simple as that. Much of my sadness had stemmed from NOT letting the season of goodness, gentleness, love, kindness, and Christ back into my life. My father will never be present physically for another Christmas...but in my choice to block out the season it was as if I was watching him die all over again. I was grieving not just for him, but for the loss of Christmas in my heart. My father had wanted me to remember...he somehow knew that someday I would need to remember.




I still desperately miss my father and there will always be tears - how can there not be when you love deeply? But I can now say, that Christmas is no longer dreaded by my heart. Instead I have found that every Christmas my joy grows. It brigthens the corners of my heart, restoring my faith, and it is there that I find my father once again. It is there that God grants me peace... 

Merry Christmas, Dad...thank you for teaching me
to believe.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Why is the bread squished?

"Hey Hun...why is the bread mangled and squished?"

My husband asked me this question a few weeks ago, after finding our brand new bread had an odd shape. My reply was, "our son kneaded it before we bought it." The confusion on his face illumined the fact that he really didn't understand why I had let my son "grope" the bread and how a mother has to use ninja skills to get out of the store with everything semi intact. Therefore, I began to open his mind to what a grocery shopping experience with an almost two year old is like.

I would like to state first, that my son is obedient, a good listener, and enjoys "helping" Mama in the store; unfortunately his idea of helping and mine are drastically different. Now I usually let my son sit in the main part of the cart ( I know...such a bad parent right? Get over it...). The reason for this is that he cannot sit still in that little seat built for the torture of all small humans. We have come to an understanding that when the cart is moving, he sits; and when it stops he can stand and help.

Let me be the first to say that I live by my own grocery store etiquette, I silently grumble when people break my own rules...but that is a different topic for a different time. So, when I shop I hold to the GOLDEN RULE of shopping with Tiffany: when in an aisle one must pull over to the side that you are wishing to peruse/pick an item from; NEVER stop dead center - this will cause a traffic jam. As a single person this worked nicely, however, with a toddler this can prove daunting; because as we all know there is never just one thing on a shelf. For a child who loves to help, loves food, and has a penchant for stacking random items - a grocery store shelf is Utopia.

As I am selecting the item that I wish to purchase, my son has discovered a myriad of items that he believes we need in our cart. As I turn back to my cart, I now realize that my son has stocked our cart with 20 cans of tomato paste...apparently he has a craving for Italian food..noted. His face is beaming, and he says "help", so I cannot get mad. I thank him for being so helpful, and then have him help me restock the shelf. As I am putting the last can on the shelf, he spies the canned green beans. Yelling "geen bees" he lifts his tiny arms up, as I quickly put the cart in motion. Narrowly avoiding having to restock another shelf. This little maneuver happens time and again, which makes the quick trip to the grocer much longer than it should be. My least favorite aisle is the produce...that is a nightmare...because this is my son's paradise! So many things that are ready to be eaten...and I will stop there cause I really do not need to say more.

The other thing that occurs is while my cart is in motion, there are limitless things inside the cart that are now ripe for squishing, biting, and licking...yes I said licking. I hear my son say "Mmmmmm" and I look down to see him "hugging" the bread and making smacking noises. Or rattling the crackers, shaking the cereal, and squeezing the marshmallows. Nothing is off limits, and yet when I say, "be gentle or put that down" he does listen and usually leaves the offended item alone. By the time I reach the register my items do not look like they did prior, but they are ours, we maimed them and therefore we claimed them. I let my son help me unload the cart, because the joy that this brings him is immeasurable...and I want him to WANT to help. Our grocery items are further assaulted at this point, but I couldn't care less...they still will cook and taste the same.

Finally, we return home. As I place the squished bread on the shelf, I am reminded that things like this are only temporary. I won't have to eat squished bread for the rest of my life...but I know that someday I will wish for the days of squished bread, broken crackers, and rattled cereal. I tell my husband this very thing, as I explain why certain items look the way they do...and we both smile.

Every trip to the grocery store, I am reminded of one particular moment and the words of an elderly woman after she watched my son and I dance the grocery store waltz. "You have one good helper there, and honey, squished bread has always been a favorite of mine." Winking as she walked away. Quiet affirmation and wisdom from an old warrior. Looking down at my son's smiling face, I know that squished bread is my favorite as well...

Friday, December 6, 2013

The Life and Times of a Christmas Angel...

I have always enjoyed watching and being apart of Christmas pageants. I love all the drama, the glitz, the overacting, and the beautiful choir melodies. I grew up being apart of a Christmas pageant every year, and these pageants went on for about 2 weeks. As a kid is was a fun way to spend time with family, because we ALL took part; but I do remember one Christmas when I didn't feel so ecstatic about being in the holiday pageant. It was the year that I was cast, in the most coveted part of every nativity scene, as the Christmas Angel. Now I do not recall ever being asked if I wanted to be the Christmas Angel, but apparently the length of my hair, the color, and the ability to rat it out to enormous widths and heights was what earned me the part. The director told me that I would be soaring above Mary, Joseph, and the Baby. That I would be holding a golden star, and that around my feet would be clouds. I would also be the first child to walk out towards the stage, holding my star...I would be the leader and the crowning point of the nativity. Sounds heavenly, right? Little did I know what all this actually meant.



At first, I was excited. It was fun practicing with my fellow "Nativiters," but then the dress rehearsals came and that is where the excitement faded. I began to loathe being the Christmas Angel. I remember trying on my costume for the first time, and my six year old self knew immediately that somehow some sadistic human being crafted it. The airy clouds that I imagined were instead a cage of chicken wire ( about 20lbs) that hung from white suspenders; cotton batting surrounded the cage which added to the weight. Then came the wings...enormous, heavy, with frilly itchy white garland sewn to them...and they were also attached to the suspenders. Then came the lovely star! The star was attached to a thick wooden rod - much like a jousting stick. The star itself was dangling at the end- heavily sturdy. The actual white linen dress I had been wearing for the "mock" rehearsals, which I naively thought was my costume, was the only comfortable thing about my whole get up. I was hot, itchy, and felt like I was carrying a 50lb sack of potatoes around my midsection. My mother was not happy about the weight, but there was nothing to do about it, we were a week away from the performance. Added to all of this was my hair...pin curled and then ratted out ( which is not a comfortable process). I looked like I had been electrocuted. I was one miffed angel. Why oh why could I not have been cast as Mary? I mean all she had to wear was a smock and a scarf! Oh Mary...Mary did you know how I coveted your costume?


After donning this white contraption I was made privy to my angelic route to the manger. I was to walk down the auditorium aisle (roughly a block), up to the stage, climb on top of a wooden box, and hold my angelic self and star for a 20 minute choir song. The director soon realized that I was incapable of climbing atop my box...my cloud wouldn't let me. So I was lifted onto the box and gripped the jousting star for the life of me. At one point the weight of the star began to get the best of me, slowly it began to dip... I remember the director saying, "Tiffany...don't let it jiggle or drop cause you will hurt Mary and Joseph. Can you hold it a little higher sweetie?" Hurt MARY AND JOSEPH? Hold it a little higher? Lady, if I could get down off of this box I would hurt you...grumble.
The two weeks of pageant dawned on us all. Each night I was uncurled, ratted, spritzed, painted, and donned with the cloud of doom. I was not very jolly after all this had taken place. To my credit though, I smiled every night and every night I heard Oooo's and Ahh's when we appeared. The sweet nativity was a hit and I was glorious...

I am sure that many people came to know the true meaning of Christmas that year. I am sure that our simple nativity reminded all that many years ago our Savior was born, but this angel was so happy when the performance was over. Taking my costume off for the final time, I looked my Mother square in the eyes and said, "Mama, I don't EVER want to be the angel again. Next time I want to be Mary."
The next year I wasn't Mary...I was, however, a dancing bear, which suited me just fine.



Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Parents: The Human Kleenex

I love being a Mama. It is a decision I will never regret. I live for the smiles, laughter, sweet kisses, warm hugs, and every other special moment that comes in between. Yet, there are a few things that no book on parenting or any well meaning advice can prepare you for. This week I have encountered one of those "things," I have discovered that when a child is sick that one or both of the parents take on the visage of a human Kleenex. I had my suspicions early on about this when I was a teacher, but these suspicions have become confirmed fact now that I have my own child.

This week I have been sneezed on, coughed on, snotted on, drooled on, and cried on.  Countless shirts and pants have been besieged upon by the Mucous Army. I feel like a walking Tide commercial. My hair has not even escaped the onslaught of snot. Nothing screams louder, "I have a sick child", than finding a glob of snot in your hair. I feel like slimer has come to live in my house, and unfortunately this small slimer needs some TLC, so I can't use my proton blaster. My only line of defense is saline dipped wipes, a dish towel, a snot sucker, and copious amounts of hand sanitizer. I am amazed at the amount of mucous that a 24 pound toddler can make! I mean where is it coming from?! Is he made out of it? Does he have a super duper snot bug?!

My starring role as the human Kleenex will either make me fall prey to this wonderful virus, or I will come out with pumped up, COSMIC antibodies. The thing is, if I get sick, who takes care of Mama?  I cannot get sick...so come on phenomenal cosmic antibodies!

Although, I have to admit that even during this incredibly real parenting moment, there is always a silver lining. It is the moment when my son wraps his arms around my neck and says "Lub, Lub Mah ma". It is at this very moment that I forget I have been slimed once again, all I feel is loved. I guess that's what loving a child is all about, you forget all the bad stuff, and revel in the sweet fleeting moments. And at the end of the day, all of that snotty slime washes away; but what doesn't wash away is the knowledge that my son loves and needs me.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

The BullyProof Classroom: An interview

Last night I had the opportunity to speak with Mr. Jim Burns over at the BullyProof classroom. I enjoyed conversing with him, and hope to do so again. He has so many wonderful ideas and my greatest desire is that our conversation last night gave hope to someone and changed a life. Here are some of the highlights from last night.

  • Be your child's first responder!
  • Bullying has nothing to do with you, it has everything to do with what is going on in the bully's heart.
  • Be honest with your children about your own experiences with bullying.
  • Bullyproof your child's heart by giving them undeniable truths.
  • The very things that make you different, make you amazingly special.
  • The reason that healing for the victims of bullying is rarely addressed is due to the fact that it takes too much time. Punishing the bully is easier and quicker - but often ineffective.
  • All of us are Survivors of bullying.

 Listen in to hear more of our discussion. Here is the interview...hope you enjoy it!

The BullyProof Classroom

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Cardigans: A love story...

This weekend I took on the dreaded task of switching out my summer clothes for winter. As I surveyed the growing pile of clothing I realized that 1) I am a bit of a clothing hoarder...you can find a range of sizes in my closet that would rival any department store; 2) I am a cardigan junkie. I don't just own 2 or 3 cardigans, no I have a cardigan in every color...10 to be exact ( sadly, that number is growing after a recent trip to Target). At some point I may need an intervention...but I blissfully grin as I think of all the outfits I can and will create with my troupe of plaid, argyle, and solid colored cardigans. Move over grandma...I am taking over your fashion statement.
 Now I don't recall when my penchant for cardigans began, but somehow over the years they have slowly taken over half of my wardrobe. I recall as a child being required to wear the "infamous" holiday cardigans that were popular in the late 80's and early 90's. I know you know what I am talking about, the ones with holiday scenes carefully embroidered all over the front and back. This first step into the cardigan world almost ruined it for me, because as a teen I probably wouldn't have been caught dead in one. Yet, as wisdom increased so did my love for the cardigan. See it is not just a "button up" sweater reserved only for the geriatric or fashion comatose; it is instead the gateway to any glorious look for church, work, or play! I mean these babies are versatile - from preppy to foxy in a minute.
They also are a fluctuating waistlines best friend. Like I stated previously, I have a wide range of sizes in my closet, and I cannot bring myself to get rid of them. Look, judge if you want, but it took me forever to find the perfect clothing for certain "size" moments in my life and I spent some money. I don't own a money tree...so what is the next best thing for clothing that is a tad big or tight? A cardigan! I can slap one over a piece of clothing that by itself would be a bit comical, as far as fit goes, and instead of looking like frump a dump I now look put together. Cardigans are the equivalent of fashion camouflage, they cover all my fashion blunders!

So here's to you, you beautiful cardigan! You will always find a home in my closet and spot in my heart. But I will have to say that I may need an accountability partner the next time I visit target...

I love me some cardighans!

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Not the brightest crayon...

The Cozy Coupe...a child's first car wreck waiting to happen. I have long wondered why we strap our kids into highchairs, car seats, and other devices to keep them safe, and yet we buy them a toy car with no braking mechanism and let them go. I have seen my son run over himself countless times in that crazy car, and he was sitting in it! I mean I understand that he is operating it like Fred Flintstone, but how in the world does he slip in between the seat and the steering wheel? Thankfully, our car is parked inside our house...why you ask? Well, if my son is anything like me, he should never be allowed outside in a cozy coupe - ever.

I was about 6 at the time when I had my first joy ride in the cozy coupe. I was at my neighbors house and we unfortunately were not being supervised - which is where it all started. Now, my neighbor lived on a steep hill and the garage was at the top of this wonderful incline; it was steep and we had been warned of it's perils. Most of the day we avoided the tempting hill.  My little friend and I had been enjoying our time of patty cake, tea party, and dollies when we decided we had had enough of the prim and proper. So we rolled out the red car of death.

It began innocently enough. My friend's cat had just had kittens, so we put them in the "trunk" of the car, and scooted  them around in the safety of the garage. After about 5 minutes of this, our inner evil Knievel's rared their heads, the hill was calling to me. I told my friend I wanted to take the kitties for a ride down the hill, and she facilitated the event by giving me a push. In seconds I was peering down the slope, kittens meowing in the back, and saying ,"1...2...3...Push!"

I don't recall when I realized that this was not my brightest idea, but it was somewhere between me watching kittens fly out of the back and seeing the ditch at the end of the drive. "Brake! BRAKE!" screamed through my brain. Kittens meowing loudly, and then nothing but dirt and grass. The ride was all of 30 seconds, but in that 30 seconds I saw all my six years flash before my eyes. "Am I dead?" I wondered. Slowly I opened my tightly clenched eyes to see that I was upside down in the coupe, in a ditch, with a small ticked off kitten peering into my face. Nervous laughter mixed with tears erupted.

Prior to the crash, as I zipped down the hill, my friend's mother happened to walk out and see the unfolding tragedy. Hollering loudly she sprinted after me. She told my mother later, that if she hadn't been so scared she would have laughed at the sight. There I was, hair whipping out the side of the car, kittens scattering like confetti, roaring down the hill, across the street, and crashing into a ditch. "It was like something out of a movie," she said.

So here I am today, with a son, and a cozy coupe. I think it is best for all (human and feline) that it stay indoors...cause I have heard that the apple doesn't fall far from the tree.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Beware: Jack-o-lanterns bite...


I have never enjoyed being frightened. Sure, I have watched a few scary movies in my day but my extremely vivid imagination has often punished me for viewing them. So I have ceased watching things that cause my imagination to go bump in the night.

My reactions to being scared mirror a much beloved Forrest Gump saying; they are "like a box of chocolates, you never know what you are gonna get". One Halloween, in particular, is a excellent example of my disdain for being frightened and the resulting reaction to being scared witless.  It was the day of my elementary schools PTO Halloween Carnival. I was in the first grade at the time and had waited giddily all week for this day. All the students were dressed in festive costumes - I had decided to be a jack o lantern for the season.  There was food, fun, and much frolicking until it was suggested that we visit the haunted house.
 

Now each booth or area at the school carnival was designed by a specific grade level. Most of the activities were age appropriate; except for the fifth grade Haunted House. Yes, those sadistic fifth graders just couldn't resist terrorizing us lil ones. The dark foreboding sheets hung down from the outdoor corridor. Eerie sounds and smoke wisped across the school courtyard. The sounds of terrified children stabbed the cool autumn air. That was no place for a little jack-o-lantern like me.

One of my friends desperately wanted to enter into this Fifth grade House of Terror, and of course she didn’t want to go alone. So, she convinced me and one other girl to come with her - I remember thinking that this was probably not the wisest choice I had ever made in my young life. But there we stood, a Jack-o-lantern, a ladybug, and a cowgirl, at the precipice of elementary school hell. We had decided earlier that if we held hands it would make things less scary - oh, the innocence of youth, eh? Hand in hand we shuffled in. Within minutes my two other compatriots melted into crying, gnashing of teeth, and I was forced to take the lead. The only way out was to go through the darn thing, and I was forced to drag them out of this nightmare.

At one point we had to crawl through a tunnel. Inside this tunnel was a hand that would grab you. Now I can go on and on about how this takes groping to a whole new level, but I would be digressing.  As I crawled through the tunnel, I met the hairy hand, and it grabbed me. I don't think the poor child connected to the hand expected what happened next.  Needless to say, I went berserk, insane really, to be fair. I began to kangaroo kick at the wall, punch at the hand, and finally, I bit down - HARD . This struggle continued for about 2 minutes. As my mania receded I began to hear a wailing that was not my own. From behind the curtained wall shouts rang out. "Ah! OW! Hey KID! Somebody help! Stop Biting! HEEELLLLLPPPPP!"  Sensing that I had wounded my attacker, I jerked the shaking bodies of my friends out of the tunnel, and began to run towards the only daylight I could see. We reached the blessed light of day and collapsed on the grass. Pale and shaking I glanced up and beheld a roughed up fifth grader emerge from behind the black curtains. In his back pocket was a hairy hand. Sniffling he was escorted over to the nurse, who gave him ice for his severely bruised hand and chest. The nurse asked "What happened?" To which he replied, "some kid punched and bit me in the haunted house when I grabbed them." Stifling a chuckle, the nurse's response was, "well you learned something didn't you?"

Yes, yes he did and so did I. I walked away that day with the knowledge that I don't do scary. And apparently, for the health and safety of others I shouldn't do scary.
You see even the sweetest of pumpkins have a little bite to them…especially if the pulp is scared outta of them.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Radio Interview on "Living Large Radio"

I had the pleasure yesterday of being interviewed about my book "Red is the Color of..." and the message it contains - re-building self worth after being bullied.

I was a little nervous, but for my virgin interview I think I did just fine.
Some of the topics we covered were:
  1. My past experiences with bullying.
  2. How adults can have a immediate impact of a child's sense of worth after being bullied.
  3. How we often become the bully - either to ourselves ( repeating the lies in our mind) or bullying others out of fear.
  4. The communication gap between adults and children
  5.  How being honest is always the way to open the doors of communication with a child
These are just a few of the topics we discussed.
If my words make the difference in one person's life then that is enough for me!

Please listen in at
http://www.blogtalkradio.com/livinglarge2013/2013/10/20/red-is-the-color-ofwchildrens-author-tiffany-haisten

Also go and like Living Large on Facebook...

Friday, October 18, 2013

School Presentation - The crumpled piece of paper...

Yesterday, I had the pleasure of returning to the first school I taught at. My second graders are now in the 5th grade and seeing them made me smile. I smiled because I wrote "Red is the Color of..." for students just like them.This class were the first ones to ever hear my story. One of my students came up to me afterward and reminded me that I had read them this story, but as she put it "it was in your little notebook then, with all your other stories."  I enjoyed seeing them all, I enjoyed being reminded of the impact that one teacher can have, and the impact a particular group of students can have on the teacher. I loved this class.

How is a book made? It all starts out as an Idea...

I returned at the request of a librarian friend of mine, and I am grateful to her for allowing me the pleasure of connecting to my primary audience - children. I had two things that I wanted to teach them yesterday - how a book is made and how special they, our future generation, are to us.

My book was the main attraction of the day, but I also used art to communicate the continued message of the book. It was my "crumpled piece of paper" message. I think the message of both devices was clearly heard that day. Why do I know this? Because more than one child came up and told me their story - a story that is so sadly similar to mine. I received one note from a child after I finished my presentation, the inscription simply said "To the bravest person I have ever met. Thank you." Those words touched me, because in those 55 minutes something spoke to this young girl; I may never know exactly what, but I am humbled that it did. That's the power of the written word, it is ageless, creates magic in the minds of the readers, and whispers to the quiet corners of our hearts. Words are so powerful, make sure you use them with respect and caution.

The crumpled piece of paper...that is us after being bullied. Someone needs to come along
and remind us that we are valued, strong, kind, hopeful, special, and LOVED.
 Love is powerful because it has all these attributes to it


 
 

 
 It was truly a wonderful day - a day of remembering the past, the present, and the hope of a changed future. I greatly enjoyed my time and I hope to be able to hold readings like this in the future. Remember that what makes you different makes you Special!

*Pictures contributed by Georgena Ellison.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

The Scars don't have to last a lifetime...


I can still feel their arms pulling my half clothed 11 year old body up on the locker bench. I can still hear the taunting voices of the two girls who began to describe the apparent ugliness of my body for all to hear and see. I can still hear the giggles as I ripped myself away to hide in the bathroom. I can still feel the deep anger and pain that trickled down my face as I heard the echo of their words in my head. A moment forever ingrained on my memory, one moment that could have destroyed me, but here I stand unbroken.

I was in the 6th grade when I first encountered cruel bullying. I had always dealt with the grade school taunting, but that day was the first time I was faced with sadistically and intentionally mean bullying. The days that followed were not much better, it seemed that I now had a target on my back, and I began to wonder if this is what Hell felt like. My reaction was to crumple inwardly at ever snicker in the hall and take every whispered word to heart - I began to believe the lies. My mother and father saw a once vibrant, cheerful girl wane. Thankfully my parents didn't leave me alone in my thoughts; through the darkness of untruth came loving hands to embrace my broken heart. Healing came from their loving intervention.

Bullying is becoming an epidemic in our schools, in our homes, and in our daily lives. Why?
 I believe that bullying has continued to grow because we have forgotten to teach children the value or worth of another person and themselves. They have lost their moral compass and it is frighteningly apparent. Bullying attempts to tear down the essence of person; it is an attempt to shred the soul. Bullying is often a direct response to negative experiences or environments. Many children grow up in environments that would be the stuff of nightmares - they are left scared, angry, feeling worthless, and unloved. So they act out the only way they know how. Bullying can also be learned behavior; the result of mirroring what they see or hear their parents say, off hand, at home. Ultimately, we all at one time or another have been bullied or been the bully. How can this be? Well it is all in how we react to being bullied.
We become the bully.

After bullying has occurred two things or natural instincts happen - 1) We carry on the assault of the bully inwardly which inflicts tremendous damage to our self esteem;  or 2) We begin to fight back in fear of being bullied. Either way we become the bully, either to ourselves or to others. Someone has to step up and stop the cycle. It cannot be ignored because it is ruining our children. It is an adults time to be the hero.

How can an adult stop the inner bullying? How can we halt the self inflicted wounds of believing that the untrue is true?
 Simply by talking. Talk to your children…not at them, but talk with them. As a society we have lost the art of loving and friendly communication. Too many times we let the distractions of radio, TV, phone, or Internet interrupt opportunities to just talk - to get to know our children's thoughts and let them in on ours. I had a very open, loving, and communicative relationship with my parents. This was instrumental in my overcoming the bullying I had experienced, and any future encounters. Talking with them gave me the avenue to vent my fears and frustrations in a safe way. In a way that I didn't take it out on others - so that I didn't become the very thing that I feared. As adults and parents we cannot ignore bullying, we cannot expect our children to get over it, or to stand up to it. We cannot shift that burden onto their young shoulders because they are not equipped to handle it. Think back - were you mature enough to handle bullying at their age?
Undeniable Truths

My parents began to break down the lies flying through my head by giving me tangible truths - Undeniable truths. They took the words or actions of the bullies and began to chip away by telling me simple things. "Look at your eyes, have you ever seen anybody with similar color or shape. Look at your hands and legs, they allow you to draw and run. Look at your sister and brother, look at Dad and I - have you ever seen anyone who looks just like us?" This may seem so elementary, but it made me realize that the things that made me look different were not alien, I was just like everybody else, because EVERYBODY is different. They filled me up with the positive and changed my perspective, so that the next time my response to a negative situation would be different. They taught me that bullying stems from fear, jealousy, anger, and hate. I learned that bullying had absolutely nothing to do with me, instead it had everything to do with what was in the heart of the person doing the bullying. We need to cultivate kindness, respect, hope, integrity, and love in the hearts of our children, because the absence of these emotions allows cruelty to invade and run rampant.
We are our children's first responders.

Does this mean that our children will never be bullied? No. Will it prevent emotional wounds inflicted by the bully? No. But just like a doctor treats his patients with medicine, we ,as parents, must be willing to prescribe the treatment that our children need to begin to heal. We have to be the first responders, or we will lose them. Investing in a child will be the greatest return we will ever get, and teaching them how to navigate the murky waters of life are paramount for them to become well adjusted and confident. Being bullied is a prime teachable moment. A moment that will help them define who they are and what they are worth. I am living proof of that.

Time does heal many things, hearts can be mended, and the tarnished can be made new again. I let go of the fear and anger I felt after being cruelly mocked that day so many years ago. What is left is the knowledge that I am bigger than the bully. I am stronger than the bully. My scars are vanishing, but theirs are still gaping. I am unbroken, and I weep for the broken hearts that tried to crush my soul.  I was treated immediately by my first responders, and engraved upon my heart is the truth that God loves me and I am wonderfully made.
**Check out my book "Red is the Color of..." and use it as a tool to start talking with your children about their worth.




Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Project Holiday - Getting the house ready...

I love when October finally hits...it means I am no longer hiding my addiction to holiday decor. I love making the house look festive, and my son for days has been toddling around the house squealing at all the lights and other things that are coming out for the season. This year I decided that I would bring out the old fake Christmas tree early and make it work for three months instead of just one. I also LOVE the fake tea lights...with a little one they are a blessing..and are used liberally throughout my house. Most of my decorations have been collected from over the years, but the dollar store, and sale items from my favorite craft store helped tie my theme together. You don't have to spend a lot of money to have great looking decorations! Here is a peek into my October deco...

I wanted to use my fall decorations differently, therefore I decided that putting the tree up and using it as a backdrop for my autumn decorations was the best bet for me this year. I just used some dried corn cobs, fake tea lights, wrapped some burlap around it, stuck some fake pumpkins in, drizzled some leaves here and there, and then used some "old" family decorations for added charm ( a turkey and a cornucopia). I also brought out my Christmas lamp post and just wrapped it with leaves...
 
At night the tea lights look so lovely. My son sits and looks at them and smiles.


I always decorate my table. This year I have opted for a more minimal decor, because I have a toddler that can reach anything that is near the sides of the table. I bought a white owl pitcher, found a tractor, used my old girl and boy farmer statues, a lantern from my wedding, some fake leaves and fruits, and then carved a jackolantern (from a fake pumpkin of course). I hung the jack o lantern from my chandelier ( to create the mood from the Harry Potter Halloween feast scene). I used fishing line to hang it and stuck a fake tea light inside. My son LOVES this!
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Last but not least are the huge bookshelves in my family room. I adore books, especially old hardbacks. Most of the year these books are stacked neatly, but I decided to add some whimsy to them this year - again giving it the look of the bookstore from Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. All I used were my own books, the fake tea lights, and some odds and ends from around the house. I think it looks fun...neat freaks might stroke out on this one :-)
 

 
 
 
I am still working on a few things in my house and outside for my door, but I have to say it feels like fall INSIDE my house even though outside it is still 80 degrees. Happy Fall!

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

The Promise...

"Promise me that someday you will have one of your stories published."

That was one of the last conversations that I had with my father before he died. I had just finished reading him one of my latest scribblings; his wrinkled hand softly patting mine, staring at me with eyes that glistened with pride. I laughed at his request and asked the question "Who would want to read my stories, Dad?" His simple reply back was "People."

Two years after he passed away, I heard the whisper of this conversation tiptoe back into my mind. I was still grieving, lost in a sea of despair over his death, but those quiet words "Promise me...promise me..." slowly broke through the darkness. I needed to fulfill this last request, so I began to pursue publication.

Writing a story is easy, getting published is a whole other can of frustrated worms. First, unless you have a treasure trove of money to just throw around you will be hearing a lot of slamming doors. It is amazing to me how many good stories there are out there, but you and I will never read them because the author didn't have the cash to back it. The reality is authors pay for their book to be published. Second, most huge publishing houses require that authors have a publishing agent before they even open the pages of the writers' manuscript. Most agents go for 20 grand or more. Third, I am not famous, nor do I have a famous family. The truth is that fame and who you know is everything; little minnows like me rarely get noticed in the sea of literature.
I had NONE of these things. All I had was a story, a promise unfulfilled, and the Internet. I searched until I found a few publishing houses that considered "new" authors who had little money and no agent. I picked one, took a deep breath, submitted my story, and mumbled under my breath "well Dad I tried".
"We like your story and want to publish."
I read those words in disbelief, and even now, holding the book in my hand, I still wonder at it all. I am a published author...a promise fulfilled.
 
My book has not made me famous, nor has it brought me untold wealth, but it has served as a connection to my past, present, and future. I find that my book allows me to see a bigger picture, I see the "people" that my Dad spoke of that day. People need stories that remind them of gentle conversations, loving memories, and home. I need to remember...so I write another story which may never be read by others, but I write it because someday I know that my son will need to remember. Writing is just inked memories for the library of the heart.
 




Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Project Holiday...Cereal box books

After several failed attempts at making these cereal box books for my harry potter theme, I finally found a working formula...here is what you will need.



Materials:
  • cereal boxes or cake mix boxes ( anything will do)
  • scissors
  • tape
  • hot glue or Elmer's glue
  • tissue paper or construction
  • white paper towels
  • sharpie
  • toilet paper rolls or paper towel rolls

Assembly:
  1. Cut your cereal boxes along one side. You should then be able to open up the box and lay it flat.
    Make sure you just cut along the seam...you want all the edges!
  2. Now reassemble the box with the plan cardboard facing out. Tape the edges back together.
    Tape tape!
  3. Cut the toilet paper roll or paper towel roll in half lengthwise. Attach( with hot glue or Elmer's ) this to one side of your box - this is the spine of the book.
    Tape the cut roll on one side.
  4. Tape (or glue) white paper towels on the other 3 sides of the box- these are the pages.
  5. Take the tissue paper and wrap around the book leaving a small edge. Glue these down. You can also tear up bits of paper and glue down to create a mosaic look.
  6. Draw lines on the paper towels - the pages
  7. Title your book - on the spine
  8. Viola cheap decorations!
You can use these books for book report projects or as decoration for you classroom or library. Cheap and easy.
_______________________________________________________________________________
 
I also decided that I would add some whimsy to my bookcases this fall. I wanted the shelves to look like the bookstore in Harry Potter, so here is the result. Artful mess!
 


 Happy Decorating!
 
 

Monday, September 9, 2013

Project Holiday Continued...creating hedwig

I decided a few weeks ago that this Halloween I would have a Harry Potter theme or a Hogwarts Halloween. I am still constructing a few things but here are some of my finished projects- Hedwig wreath and toilet paper roll Hedwig.
 First is my "Hedwig Wreath"


 I wish I had taken a picture of my materials before constructing it but apparently at the time I wasn't thinking ahead...

Materials:
  • Foam Circle Wreath
  • Burlap Garland
  • White feathers
  • Owls
  • Purple Satin ribbon
  • Wire Star Garland
  • Off White paper



I didn't need to use any hot glue for assembly, and its an indoor wreath so I am not worried about anything flying away..no pun intended.
Just wrap the burlap around the wreath and tie off the end with a cut piece of ribbon ( which doubles as the hanger). Loosely wrap the ribbon around the burlap..just a punch of color. Then begin inserting your feathers. Just push the feathers into the burlap and they hold beautifully. Thankfully the owls came with their own wire attachments, so that was easy. For the Hogwarts letter, just cut a small piece of off white paper into a square and copy the address from the book - you could even do your own address...I chose to stick with the book. I attached the letter with scotch tape on the back of the ribbon (that way no one will see it). Then loosely wrap the star garland on the half without the feathers. Then "Alohamora" you have your wreath. I'm sure craftier people than I could do much better, but I am pretty proud of my wreath...and since I didn't use any glue...I can take all the stuff off and use the same wreath for Christmas. Double duty decorating is the best!
 
Toilet Paper Roll Hedwig
My next creation is going to be used on my porch...and my porch is covered so it should survive the weather. This one could be a good craft for the kiddos. Currently I am making the cage that will go with this Hedwig, but Hedwig is done; so here is how to make her.




 
    
This time I took a picture of  "some" of my materials

 
Materials:

Toilet paper roll
old  white sock
white felt
cotton balls
hot glue
yellow acrylic paint ( for wood crafts)
black acrylic paint ( for wood crafts)
Quaker oats box is for my cage...will show later how to make this.

 

 
  • Insert toilet roll into sock, until it hits the sock toe. Then stuff the toilet roll with cotton balls until the top forms a round shape (Hedwig's head).  Stuff the remainder of the sock into the roll and you should have a cylinder body shape.
  • Cut out a wing shape from the felt and hot glue feathers onto the felt wings. Then hot glue the wings onto the back of Hedwig's "body".
  • Then begin to hot glue ONE feather down the center of the "head" ( quill pointing down), and then begin to glue 3 to 4 feathers on the "body" of the owl.
  • Cut two small strips of felt and hot glue one near the "neck" of Hedwig and one right below the wings. These two strips should cover the quill of the feathers.
  • Cut out two small felt circles ( the eyes) and a triangle for the mouth. Glue the circles onto the sock ( not the  head feather), this allows the feathers to appear as if they are covering the eyes. Paint the eyes yellow and dot the pupil with black. Glue the triangle on top of the  head feather and then paint it black.
 
Not too hard and older kids could have fun constructing their own "owls" from other feather colors. The possibilities are endless..and you could make a class "owlery".
I am enjoying the process of making my Hogwarts Halloween...soon I will have the cage finished and a House elf door....stay tuned.

Friday, August 30, 2013

Project Holiday...or kicking Scrooge to the curb...

Ok, I have to admit that I am a bit of a holiday junkie. I begin to think about the holidays way before they even arrive..like in the summertime.  The holidays are such a magical time, a time during the year when it's ok to act like a kid! The sights and smells, oh so delicious.  When august rolls around I begin to get butterflies...and then I turn on my first christmas cd! That's right you heard me, you grinches, I start playing christmas music in August. I get this strange quirk from my father, who would loudly play christmas music early in the year - loudly and for all us kids to hear.
Matchy Matchy
 I love everything about the fall and winter, which living in texas looks about the same as summer, brown and mildly cool, like 70.  Do I let the warm conditions dampen my holiday spirit? Nope, like most other texans, I sweat it out, and wear my holiday attire despite the weather. I remember my mother teaching me that a cute holiday sweater can be paired with shorts or skorts...you have your festive on the top and your cool and breezy on the bottom. And when there is a chance for a blue northern..watch out! Then we all dress up like we are going to the artic tundra. What? It's cold!


The true art of pumpkin carving.
I have to admit that I had lost my holiday spirit over the last few years. It had to do with my father's death, and after that the holidays didn't seem so magical to me. So much of the holidays for me are tied up in family, memories, and safety. When he passed away...I forgot those things because they were too painful to remember. This was wrong, the holidays are about remembering the past, enjoying the present, and looking to the future. They are a happy time. This year I am tired of feeling like a scrooge. I can feel that old holiday spirit mustering strength. So much so, that I have already purchased the items to create my new halloween display, and thanksgiving, and christmas...which brings my holiday closet to capacity - obnoxiously so.

This year, I have decided that I will begin the fall holidays with a homage to one of my favorite fall books - Harry Potter. Instead of creating scary things..I am using Harry Potter whimsy for halloween. No zombies, no ghoulish things, just whimsy. So that is my first holiday project...I will let ya know how it goes...
So join in on my project holiday..and let this year be the one that re-ignites your joy for the holiday season.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

There's a monster in my oven...

I love to cook. I enjoy the process and the artistry that it takes to make incredible food. I can hold my own when it comes to meats, veggies, or main course items; but I am no baker. Baked goods are my nemesis. I am frustrated by the knowledge that this one aspect of cooking has eluded me, it seems so simple...yet every time I go down in flames..literally.


One of my many failed cookie attempts

WHY? WHY? Is the question I hear myself muttering time and time again as I pull out another scorched batch of cookies. I have done things to cookies and cakes that seem to defy the impossible. I remember trying to bake a cheesecake one Christmas, only to find, minutes later, smoke rolling out of the oven. Needless to say, my cheese cake was not fire retardant...I don't believe I have ever seen anything burn so bright and so long in my life. It was beautiful really, quite festive.

I even fail at the store bought stuff. I bought some from the store the other day believing that this time I had a fail safe...I mean store bought dough is idiot proof..right? I perfectly measured my spooned out dough, checked the space between the rounded balls of scrumptiousness, pre-heated my oven to the appropriate temperature, and  I hoped that this time they would be perfect. When the appointed time arrived I opened the oven door and saw the carnage that were my cookies.  The cookies had somehow shifted down the sheet to form a pool of bubbling, semi-raw gooeyiness. To add insult, the edges of the blob cookie were burnt. Staring down at them, I noticed the blob had an unusual shape, it was almost as if something had shaped my cookies to form something. I texted my sister in law a picture of my failure and her text back gave me the answer to the curious shape of my cookie blob. "It looks like Roz! From Monsters, INC., mohawk and all!" Oh...it does....
Roz, in cookie form.
 

 I used to joke with my college roommates that I had to sacrifice the first batch of cookies to the cookie gods in order to receive the blessing of a normal batch. Over the years I have come to believe that a hostile takeover has occurred in my oven, there has to be a monster living in my oven. It is the only explanation for my failure. Because it can't be me...oh no..never. I just wonder why this monster has chosen me? Why couldn't I have gotten the sugarplum fairy? And how do I eradicate this pestilent monster from my oven? Good questions...


So here I go to make cookies and I gotta ask, do the ghostbusters make kitchen calls?

Monday, August 19, 2013

A good teacher makes a difference.

" We cannot teach Tiffany here. She cannot read, and all of our students in the kindergarten already can. She can no longer attend our school.
She needs to go to a place that can care for her special needs."

These words were spoken to my mother in an after school meeting by my kindergarten teacher. I was sitting quietly by her side and knew by the look on her face that something was terribly wrong and somehow it had to do with me - because the teacher had said my name. My mother that evening sat down and told me that I would have to go to a different school. I cried and begged her not to make me leave. I told her that I would try to be better and that I would listen to the teacher - that I would be good. She rocked me in her arms, as she assured me it had nothing to do with being "good," and that I would learn more at my new school. My feelings were soothed a bit, but deep down the damage of that one teachers conversation had already taken root. A week later I was enrolled in the nearby school, and spent the rest of my kindergarten year trying to be "good".

The next year was first grade, and was the year that reading was the primary goal. One day, my teacher asked me to read a sentence. I remember looking down at the page in front of me, the words were all fuzzy and jumbled. I saw that the picture next to it was of a cat sitting on a rug, so I said "the cat is sitting on the rug." Not knowing that when I "read" the words I was looking right into my teachers eyes. The game was up, she knew that I couldn't read. I was put in the lowest reading level and began to believe that I was stupid, because the words never made sense to me.  As the days went by, I began to withdraw. My classmates teasing me quietly during reading time; inflicting wounds that would leave me scarred for many years. I hated school, but the love I had for books still remained. I would spend hours on my mothers lap, listening to her read. Enthralled by the pictures and so confused by the written squiggles. I often heard my mother asking my teacher repeatedly, "why can't she read? Is there anything we can do to help her?"

My mother was called in again one day. This time there were 3 teachers sitting in wait for her. I was told to sit outside the door, but I peeked around the corner to listen. Earlier in the day, I had been tested and the results were alarming. I was exceedingly smart, high functioning, and eager; but I couldn't understand simple phonics or "see" the words. Yet, I had tested too high for special education. My mother was confused, "You can't help her?" she asked. Two of the teachers shook their heads; but one remained calm, hands clasped, looking down, and keeping silent. The meeting concluded with no recourse for me; no help but to let me struggle.  Tears in her eyes, my mother came out to get me; closely followed by the third teacher -the one who had remained quiet during the meeting. She rested her hand on my mothers arm and whispered "I can help. Please follow me." My mother grasped my hand and we followed. Down to the back of the school, no talking until the door was shut. While in this teacher's classroom, my mother was given the news she needed to hear. That I was smart, that I could read in time, but I was dyslexic. The reason I didn't qualify for special help was due to my high function and ability to cope with situations quickly. In a nutshell, the school system didn't have a place for people as special as me. That's how she put it, and she smiled when she said it. She offered to secretly tutor me after school, one on one - I was to be her trial run of sorts for a new learning method called reading recovery. I was told to keep the private instruction a secret, the school wouldn't allow it, and the tutoring would put her job at risk. Then she smiled again, and said "but your daughter is worth it".

I began the next week, and, oh, this teacher was magical. The effortlessness of her style and the patience she had with me. She made learning fun again and I felt safe around her. I remember, many days later,  she said, "I think you are ready for this today. Go on you can do it."  I looked down at the page and felt my heart skip; for the first time I understood what was there. I read the sentence, then read another! I could feel the grin spreading across my face and I looked up to see the face of my teacher, hers was beaming. "You did it!" I had never felt more proud. My appetite for learning had been reignited and I soon bypassed my fellow classmates in reading and writing. This one teacher, with the help of determined parents, had unlocked the majestic world of literacy for me. I will forever be grateful for the courage it took to change the life of one child. The strength to stand up to a broken system and say "not this child."

 Teachers change lives, but great teachers can magically change the course of one students life forever. Gratefully, I was blessed with a great teacher, and here is my thank you that is long overdue.
Thank you for never letting dyslexia define me, instead you taught me how to refine it and tame it. And once tamed, oh the places I did go...
I became a teacher, and my first year I taught students who struggled with reading.
 

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Why God gave me a son...




My son, born early at 34 weeks. Love at first sight.
I believe that our children are hand picked for us. Each child has a specific purpose in our lives, just as we have a purpose in theirs. My son was given to me, I believe, to teach me things about myself and the world around me that I desperately needed to understand. These are just a few of the reasons that God gave me a son...




 
  • I needed to find beauty in a bug.
  • I needed to take time to splash in puddles.
  • I needed to appreciate the sounds that vehicles make.
  • I needed to understand the heart of a boy as it matures into a mans.
  • I needed to take part in a grand adventure.
  • I needed more exuberance.
  • I needed to behold the little boy in my husband.

  • I needed to know that even superheros need a hug.
  • I needed to be in awe of life.
  • I needed to see a masterpiece in a mess.
  • I needed to hear the melody in boyish noise.
  • I needed to be taught courage.
  • I needed to see innocence of spirit.
  • I needed to learn to love with abandon.
  • I needed to define my own strength.
  • I needed to be reminded of how much God loves me.
Everyday I am grateful for attack kisses and hugs. The bedtime snuggles and morning wake ups. I have been given the job of being a guide to this adventure called life, and I cannot wait to explore it with my son. "Oh the places we will go!"
In one moment he stole my heart.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Now hiring BABES...all others need not apply

I saw this restaurant sign the other day while driving down the interstate. "Now hiring Babes, all others need not apply." Needless to say my jaw fell to the floor. The sign had irritated me. I knew that due to the fact that I was clutching the steering wheel a bit tighter and my nostrils started to flair. I was about to become unhinged - ready to fly over there on my broom and unleash the monkeys. That's when I heard laughter from the backseat. It was my son, smiling, waving, and giggling at my upturned eyes in the rear view mirror. For the moment, I am reminded by the small child in the back seat that my worth is more than skin deep.

I wonder, "what is a babe anyway"?

To me, a babe is defined by society. A babe changes her shape, looks, hair, clothes, etc. to fit what is currently beautiful to the eye. Much like a mirage to a thirsty man - she shimmers, shines, and appears to be the remedy for his present affliction. But isn't a mirage just empty trickery that leaves the observer with nothing but a mouthful of dry sand. A babe is the capstone of unrealistic beauty. Imperfections have to be nipped, tucked, pulled, sucked, lifted, sprayed, dyed, covered, and erased - they simply aren't allowed. Uniqueness isn't always prized in a babe, uniqueness just might have too many flaws. You could say that society says to women and men that if "one of these things is not like the other, then it doesn't belong".

I believe that each one of us has been gifted a God given beauty that is all our own. We aren't perfect, but we are uniquely beautiful. I look at my own face in the mirror and I know that there is no one on Earth that looks exactly like me. No one. I  have come to realize, and God teaches me daily, that I am beautifully flawed. Sounds strange right? My flaws make me who I am and they make me lovely. Just like a piece of pottery is unique from all of its sister pieces - so am I. Imperfect beauty. The type of beauty that endures and never makes an excuse for those little differences. It's the type of beauty that begins in the soul and radiates outward.

I want my son to understand this and dwell in it. I want him to break the mould and love a woman because of what makes her unique; not love because she is the carbon copy of societal whims. I want him to adore the imperfections because he isn't perfect either. I want him to know that the perfect woman doesn't exist, but a beautifully imperfect woman does. A real woman, a godly woman, a unique woman.

In order for my son to learn the value of imperfect beauty I have to set the example. I have to decide everyday to accept myself just as I am. I have to teach him how to love himself, by first loving the person God made me to be. Because, if I wait until I am "babely" perfect to accept and love myself, then I still won't be happy. What a babe is now, isn't what a babe will be 5, 10, 20 years down the road; but there will never be another like me. There will never be another boy like my son. We are unique. God knew what he was doing when he crafted us and He doesn't make mistakes.

 I am imperfectly perfect and that's what makes me beautiful.