Monday, November 26, 2012

Coach’s Last Words, ‘Just don’t get Pinned’

My son Forrest is that good character in a book. The character everyone loves and roots for. You can’t help but like him because of his goodness. It radiates from him. He’s not loud.  He’s humble, quiet and observant.  When he became smarter than me, in the sciences and math, I knew I had to let him go. This last fall he skipped a grade, left my home school classroom and started high school as the youngest freshman.

This was all new to him.  Such a big step in the quiet life he lived at home. To help Forrest come out of his shell, Mike (Forrest’s dad) and I thought it good for him to go out for a sport. Forrest had never played an organized sport except when he got his family together to play some backyard baseball.

Because of mine and Mike’s great love for wrestling, we suggested to Forrest that he go out for his high school team. I don’t think it was his first choice but he was willing to give it a try for his parents.  He trusted us. We (and he) knew going in he wasn't going to be as experienced and strong as many on the team. Some of the other boys had been wrestling since they were little kids. Still, he gave it his all. He worked hard; harder than he had ever physically worked before.  He became stronger and confident. He became part of a brotherhood as those on the team welcomed him in. Because of his lack of experience, he didn't make the varsity team but he wore his JR varsity place with dignity.

Last Monday was the team’s first match. Because the teams are small in our area, instead of one team to wrestle, sometimes there are more. Monday there were a total of three teams and they would all be considered varsity matches. Rarely are there enough guys for Jr. Varsity matches. Only the best come out for the teams.

In hopes to give Forrest the chance to wrestle in a match, his coach arranged for him to wrestle a varsity opponent from one of the other schools. Cocke County happens to have very strong wrestlers. They are solid and thick farm boys. As a mother, this worried me. My fear that Forrest would be up against one of these boys had come true.

The meet starts with the middle weights, then goes to the heavy weights and last are the light weights to wrestle. Forrest’s weight class is 120 lbs but he is lighter than this, much lighter than his opponent.  His match happens to be the very last match with this school. To top it all off, the score is 42 Rebels (us) and 36 Gamecocks (them). If Forrest’s opponent can pin him, their team will tie with ours and not lose. I’m sure Forrest’s opponent was counseled to destroy my boy.  When he stood up to Forrest, he was taller and stronger. You could tell he was experienced and an upper underclassman  But what he didn't know is that my boy had more heart. What he didn't know is that my boy came in with a mission too. He could not let his team down.

Forrest didn't win the match but what he did win was that as many pinning combinations as his opponent put him in, Forrest fought out. As hard as he squeezed my boy, Forrest fought back. Never once, did Forrest give up. He fought and fought and fought. When the crowd, his team, his coach, thought the match over, he didn't  He fought on. By the second period, the crowd, his team, the other team who were only watching and waiting for their time to wrestling, were cheering and chanting my son’s name. His coach was weeping. What was once just me and Mike turned into a gym full of support for one little underdog.

The underdog became the winner and the perfect ending to the story. Sometimes you don’t have to win the match. Sometimes you just have to do your best. Our team one by one point because of a boy, my boy; the boy who refused to be pinned.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

The Treasures Inside My Haunted House

I wish Halloween could stick around for a few more weeks. Every year it seems to come faster than the last. All year I’m on the hunt for spooky vintage finds. Every year my collection grows. I love every single piece but I do have favorites.

One of my favorites is my 1980’s Beistle jointed scarecrow. He is as tall as me and in mint shape. I found him hanging in a little lady’s garage. She had bought him for her son’s Halloween party and had never bothered to take him back down. I was thrilled with my find and she was happy to tell her story. He was given to me, free of charge.

Another priceless find was discovered at the local flea market. I was drawn like a magnet to a certain table. Standing behind the table was a toothless man. It was rather funny when I picked up a 1950’s dentist chart that was full of real human teeth! When the man saw the light in my eyes, he then showed me an old lab coat and all kinds of beakers and cylinders. That beautiful discovery cost me $10.

I have saved the best for last. One Saturday my husband and I saw a moving sale. We had $5 cash and decided to stop. Into the house we went and there on the living room floor was an osteology map from the 1920’s. Those who know me know I love skeletons so you can imagine the excitement I felt when I saw what was at my feet! It was calling to me. I wouldn't leave the chart in fear someone else would grab it. Finally Mike got the owner. When she started talking about antique dealers coming to look at it, I knew it was out of my price range. She asked me to make an offer and I pulled out my $5. She smiled and shook her head. Without any control, these words came from of my mouth, “But you don’t understand, I love skeletons. An antique dealer will just sell it. I’ll treasure and love it!” Her smile never faded; instead she held her hand out and took my five bucks.

Here is a tiny peek inside my haunted house, there is so much more. Most of these treasures hardly cost me anything. Halloween is over today but my Halloween never ends. I will hit the after Halloween sales tomorrow and never stop my hunt for that priceless vintage find. 

Happy Halloween! 

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Two Lives That Decided to Live

A day before today, 16 years ago, my husband and I were signing the final papers on our first home. We ran from here to there, making sure all those important details were done; getting the power turned on and changing our address. This all happened in the eleventh hour. We were to be out of my childhood farm house the very next day. My parents had sold it and the new owners were moving in.

I was starting to feel a little discomfort in my ever-growing belly and thought...‘this is going to be easy. I can do this. I'm strong and healthy’. The last night I would ever sleep in my childhood home is the night the rest of my life began.  Childhood was over.

It started to storm and the pains in my belly increased. My husband called our midwife and we timed my contraction. She suggested we stay at home and do most of my laboring there. The storm continued as did the one inside of me.

Early the next morning the contractions told us it was time to go. The only easy part about Emma was raising her. But I would do that birth all over again knowing I’d have the daughter I do today.

Not many of you know but she and I were very close to not making it. It was a scary moment for all those who were assisting us. I only remember a few things in that fog. I remember my midwife yelling to me, “Talk to your baby! Talk to your baby!” They had taken her away and they were all around her working on my new creation. I saw little pieces of her, an arm, a leg. I called out to her, not understanding why but obeying. “Emma…Emma…Mommy is here.”

Thankfully the midwives were full of knowledge and got her little heart going and got her breathing. Then one looked over at me. I remember fading.  I can still see myself in a room, seeing it all.  Seeing me, my baby and my husband. I remember seeing the midwives. I was there and I wasn’t. I was happy and calm. There was some loving force surrounding me. Someone from somewhere was with me. She/He was reminding me I was new a mom. That I had always dreamed of this moment. The day had come. I was there living it. Everything seemed so innocent and peaceful.

I won’t go into details of what happened next because sharing it might chase the peace away but know that through it, I was calm. Someone was holding my hand. Someone was talking to me. It might have been my husband but through him some other force was there too.

I think I would have been okay about leaving this world if she would have come with me. It wasn’t our time though. I was released back into the world because I was to be a mother on earth and my first born had a mission to fulfill. I had to help her do it. Emma is living it. She is an amazing young lady. More than I could ever be. Her soul is of a tortoise or wise owl. It’s full of knowledge and perception. She will continue to lead and bring light wherever she steps. She is my constant calming force.

The farm is sold, my childhood is over but with my daughter my life began 16 years ago.

Happy Birthday my little Emma. You are now 16! I cannot believe it!  You have given me 16 years of joy, laughter and proud moments. How my life would be empty without you. And, no, you may not move to Europe. But you know you have my support if that is where the winds carry you.  I LOVE YOU!!! 

Thursday, August 2, 2012

My Vintage Sticker Collection

I’m a sucker for vintage, especially when it’s something straight from my childhood.  I’m transported to the past, to a time I wish I hadn’t grown so fast from. If I would have met Peter Pan, I would have followed him anywhere.

Some of my favorite things as a child were my stuffed animals. I also enjoyed my Fisher Price little people play sets. I would lose myself in play as I acted out daily life with these little friends.  I had favorite story books, puzzles, trinkets and even clothes. Because of the internet, and my great love for flea markets, I’ve been able to collect several treasures I remember as a child.

But there was one treasure I was never able to find or the price on the internet was always out of reach.  I wasn’t always the best student so when I got a sticker on my homework, I was thrilled. The best stickers were the ones you scratched and sniffed.  I loved those and coveted them. At recess we would trade our stickers like baseball cards. Thankfully our teachers bought different kinds. At home I would carefully scratch my stickers and let the aroma of root beer or bubblegum fill my nostrils.  I was careful not to rub the image all up, though they would eventually end up that way.  Sadly they all disappeared one day after mom cleaned my room.  The teachers in Jr. High stopped passing out stickers so all I had were the memories.

Just this week, and out of the blue, my mom sent me a little package in the mail. I opened it in a frenzy, not sure what she had sent me. You can only imagine the thrill I got when I dumped sheet after sheet after sheet of these vintage scratch and sniff stickers in mint condition! Many identical to the ones I remember as a girl! Many I wanted but didn’t get that 100% on my spelling test. The memories flooded back. I was seven years old again. I had pigtails and bell bottom jeans. My kitten’s name was Ashes and my best friend was Pat Parker.

What might be garbage to one person can be a treasure to the next. I’m grateful for those parents who didn’t throw their children’s things away. I’m grateful that they tucked their children’s toys in closets and attics and kept them safe from mice and dust, acting as sentinels to precious memories. I’m grateful for those who can’t throw anything away. Because of them, I can relive my childhood. Because of them, I have scratch and sniff stickers again.  Thanks, Mom! 

Thursday, May 3, 2012

My First Rejection from a Publishing House

It has happened. I wasn’t immune. No easy breaks for me; that’s just not the way things work in my life. I knew this day would come but I never comprehended the blow until it happened. I thought agent rejections were bad but this was ten times worse!

I have received my first rejection from a major publishing house. Oh, to type that out and read it, still pierces the heart. Oh, the pain! When I read my agent's message about it, I got angry. How could they not love Mr. Bohns and his factory of candies and toys? How could they not love the ugly Maryanne whose tragic beginning made you root for a happy ending? How could they not love Snowball, the mangy cat and Vladick, the vampire and so on and so forth?! I have never wanted to throw something out of anger as much as I wanted to at that moment. I paced my room, gritted my teeth and tightened my fist. Around and around I went as I mumbled and growled under my breath. “Did they even read it?!”

How was I going to break this to my biggest fans, my children? My husband? How was I going to tell them Mr. Bohns and Maryanne were not wanted? I took a deep breath and decided to get it done and over with. I left my husband a message then headed down to face the 7 kids who have included my story in their morning and evening prayers, family prayers and even as we blessed our food at each of our meals. Some have even sacrificed their birthday wishes in hopes their favorite story would find its way into the right publishers hands.

When I gathered them around, they took one look at my face (which is usually a fairly happy one) and knew my smile was fake. When I broke the news they all came to me with hugs, some even with tears, wondering why Mr. Bohns was not wanted and who didn’t adore Maryanne.

They began to fret about it and that is when I realized we were bigger than this. To get all our frustrations out I decided we were going to celebrate my failure. We would watch a favorite movie from the company that rejected us. We’d eat big bowls of ice cream with all the toppings as we watched. This was not going to beat us. 

When the movie started the grand logo of the company came up. It was glorious! We had all imagined that we would one day sit in a theater, knowing that our story of  Mr. Bohns and Maryanne was about to be seen all over the world.  Millions would fall in love with this little gothic fairytale of a skeleton and a homely girl.  But now, our dreams seemed crushed. It wasn’t going to happen. We booed the screen! We stuck out our tongues! We cocked our hands back full of gummy bears and gummy worms ready to throw at the screen…but then the oddest thing happened.  There was a hush.  We stuck our tongues back in and instead of throwing our gummies, we ate them and enjoyed the show.

We had won after all. It is true a major publishing house didn’t want our story, but one will someday. We all felt it at the same time. I think someone from up above was chuckling at us. We like to think of Him as not so serious all the time but a Heavenly Father who knows what is best. Someone who will help it happen at the right time. He will guide it and protect it and make sure it finds its way into the right hands. I know my children’s prayers will be answered. They are good kids and it is a good story.    

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Skeletons Get a Bad Rap

I enjoy monsters of every sort but I have a great fondness for skeletons. It’s not like I go creeping around digging up graves stealing bones. I imagine they look rather lovely left in their pretty boxes. When I look at a cemetery (I call them ‘boneyards’), I don’t see the headstones, sepulchers, or the plastic flowers. What I see is what’s underneath. I can see wooden boxes with bones dressed in frilly gowns and fine suits.

How much do I like skeletons you may ask? I doodle skeletons in notebooks. An entire folio is dedicated to skeletons on my Pinterest page. Vintage skeleton masks, pictures, books and so many knickknacks of my boney friends can be found in my writing nook. My very best friends know what kind of gifts to give me for holidays. Instead of my children drawing me pictures of sunsets, they draw me skeletons coming out of sunsets. My children love to pick me wild flowers but they get extra excited when they find me jaw bones and skulls from little critters. Heck, skeletons even come to me in my dreams!

What I find appealing about skeletons is that one day we will be one, (well, besides those who are cremated, in which case they become bone dust, which is still bone). A skeleton is a monster we cannot avoid becoming. It will happen. We will be monsters! What a comforting thought that is to me. ;)

My skeleton will be very short, like a child’s. My skull will be tiny, like a little bouncy ball. I’ll still have that missing tooth which makes me unique. I wonder if my knuckles will still be big from popping them as a kid? I kind of hope so.

Around one’s bones lay what makes us; our veins, brains and organs. Take away all the squishy stuff and we all look pretty much the same. When I see bones, or, think about them in boneyards, I wonder who that person was. Their feet learned to walk. Their boney hands held another’s. Inside their skulls carried all kinds of memories. They were once like me and you.

So the next time you pass a skeleton on the street, maybe you should stop and say, “Hello, brother”. Remember they were just like you once and the day will come when you will join their club. Embrace our skeleton friends for they do get a bad rap.

Art work done by one of my daughters: Bella Filetti

Thursday, January 26, 2012

My Family of Misfit Toys

I am the collector of stuff. I can’t help myself. It is an addiction! I love flea markets, I love yard sales, and I love auctions and antique malls. I love the hunt of that perfect little something to add to my d├ęcor. I love the feeling I get when a little something is appreciated again. Nothing looks more pitiful to me than someone else’s junk heaped on a table for strangers to rummage through. Don’t think of me as a hoarder, for I don’t take everything. I only take what speaks to me.

Normally, I stick with old stuff or dead people’s stuff (as some like to point out). I like the history in a vintage pull toy, an embroidered dish towel or a tattered Mother Goose story book. I often wonder whose it was and what they were they like. They must have been a little like me for I was connected to their junk. Would I have been their friend? A soul mate? I like to think so.

Rarely, I’ll stumble upon something brand new, which call’s to me to be played with. When I find something at a store that I like, I always tell myself I’ll find it at a yard sale in year or so. I’m usually right; plus it will come with memories and be a whole lot cheaper.

But one day a new toy begged for me to bring her home. I found myself in a store’s toy aisle. For nearly thirty minutes I stood in front of a tiny something, wishing I was a little girl again. When my husband found me, I showed him my potential friend. I pointed out her black button eyes, her black and white striped tights and her purple hair. I had to have her. I loved her already! Into the basket she went and I think I even skipped!

When I got her home and opened her up, she was even more perfect. In my palm she sat and smiled up at me. When I looked down at her, I saw me all over again as little five year old. I might have looked like a normal child but deep down I was different and I knew my new little friend was too. She was going to fit in perfectly (or imperfectly which, ironically, fits me better)!

I looked around my writing nook wondering where I should place her. I have a thing for monsters so they’re all around me when I write. All are hand-me-down rejects and one seemed most excited for the new addition. In the giant hand of a once discarded friend, Lacy now sits. Mr. Hyde promises to be on his best behavior and Lacy seems quite content in his care.