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.