Monday, October 31, 2011

Taking a Break

My dear (few but faithful) readers:

Starting tomorrow, I am plunging headfist into National Novel Writing Month, in which I will write 50,000 words (or 100 pages) of novel in thirty days. Alas, this means I will not have any words to spare for my blog during the month of November. Which makes me sad because this month will mark my blog's one-year birthday. I promise we will celebrate in December.

In the meantime, cheer me on! In thirty days I will have a complete first draft of a new novel. And a really big headache.

Oh, and Happy Halloween.

The Brown-Eyed Girl

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Six Years of Halloween Bliss

I've always loved Halloween. As a little kid, it was probably the pillowcase full of candy that swayed my heart, but as I got older--too old for trick-or-treating, according to some people--I still loved Halloween for the opportunity it gave me to play dress up--another childhood tradition I never grew out of.

Mr. Brown Eyes has been a good sport and always played along:

2007 - Indiana Jones and his heroine. These costumes won us a prize at the Singles Ward Halloween Party.

2008 - Popeye and Olive Oyl
2009 - Woody and Little Bo Peep
Last year, Baby Brown Eyes got to join in on the fun:

2010 - Doctor and Nurse and the Little Monkey Who Fell Off the Bed and Bumped His Head
 Our Annual Halloween Party takes place tomorrow. This is year six. It started off simple enough, me and my sisters making some food, throwing together a few games, and maybe putting up some decorations. But the last few years the party has been held at our house, and my dear husband is a pathological overachiever. His ideas are always amazing and elaborate and take a lot of time to execute. Which wouldn't be so bad. If we started on them months before instead of, say, last week.

This year Mr. Brown Eyes wanted to build a haunted house in our garage. It will be amazing.

If it's done in time.

I'll let you know how it goes.

Still looking forward to the candy,
The Brown-Eyed Girl

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

The Haunted House

Today's Prompt (in the spirit of Halloween): Using all the senses--sight, sound, smell, taste, touch--and specific detail--describe a haunted house.
(Reprinted by permission all rights reserved (c) C.M. Mayo "Giant Golden Buddha and 364 More 5 Minute Writing Exercises"

The house is shrouded by overgrown trees, their branches scraping against the windows and blocking the sunlight. But no birds sing. The decorative windows on the french doors are broken; only jagged fragments, like rows of sharp teeth, remain. Inside, the air is stale and musty, so thick with foul smells it makes you gag. As your eyes adjust to the darkness, you manuever down the front hallway. Spiderwebs cling to your face and arms, making you jump. You reach out to steady yourself against the wall and brush your fingers against something damp and slimy. You recoil in horror and walk faster.

At first glance the house almost appears to still be inhabited: books lay scattered on the coffee table, some open as if they were still being read; rotted fruit is piled in a basket on the kitchen counter; beds are unmade; laundry is left unfolded. But a thick layer of dust coats the shelves, tables, the old grandfather clock, still slowly ticking. No one living has been here for a very long time.

Everywhere there is that sensation of being watched--as if a pair of eyes lurked behind every sofa, every rail of the banister, every closed door, but a glance reveals nothing. The only sounds are the screeching of the trees against the windows, anxious to get in, the slow tick of the grandfather clock, and the uneasy rattle of your own breath.
Anyone have any real-life haunted house stories to share? Growing up, I was sure my parents' house was haunted, but that's a story for another day.

Happy Halloween!
The Brown-Eyed Girl

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

A Story in Pictures

It's a hot summer day in downtown Phoenix. Not much to do but stand in the shade and read the paper.

And hope that something interesting happens.

That's more like it.

Helloo ladies.

Maybe this hot summer afternoon won't be so boring after all.

They get the girls in the end.

Which was the plan all along.

Pictures courtesy of my creative and talented sister. She's a budding photographer with a fancy camera and an urge to get lots of practice. Which works perfectly with my love of playing dress-up. And that little thing called vanity I've spoken of before.

I'm sure there will be more "story in pictures" posts in the future.

Say cheese,
The Brown-Eyed Girl

Monday, October 17, 2011


If you like to write, or have a magnificent idea for a novel brewing in your head, you should participate in this.

I am.

I'm so excited.

Just thought I'd let you know,
The Brown-Eyed Girl

Friday, October 14, 2011

The Pure Love of Christ

At a recent sold-out Diamondbacks game, I found myself pushing, shouldering, and "excuse-me"-ing my way through a milling concourse of people. I hate crowds anyway, and that day I was particularly perturbed. So perturbed that, as I clutched Baby Brown Eyes to me and squeezed between groups of people who seemed to be purposely blocking my way, I grumbled to myself, "I hate people."

Once I found my seat (and my husband), took a deep breath, and got some Panda Express inside of me, I felt considerably less hostile toward the human race. But as I reflected on the experience, while I was pretty sure I didn't actually hate people, I knew I didn't particularly love them, either.

That realization bothered me. I know, as a disciple of Jesus Christ and a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, I need to love people. The Savior himself tells us, "By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another."

But how?

Loving people isn't easy. Especially people you don't know.

When Mr. Brown Eyes and I were first married, he played softball with the stake league. I faithfully attended his games. One night while Mr. Brown Eyes was playing second base, the third baseman threw the ball wide and instead of landing in Mr. Brown Eyes' glove, it smashed into the face of the teenage boy running for second. It was nothing life-threatening, but Mr. Brown Eyes felt responsible so we drove the boy--I'll call him Dustin--to the emergency room.

While we were there, we were privileged to meet Dustin's mother, who greeted Mr. Brown Eyes by saying, "So you're the one who hurt my son."

We were silent for a moment, thinking she was just joking and any second her hard little face would break into a teasing smile. But it didn't, and as Mr. Brown Eyes opened his mouth to defend himself, she started to rant about how she was going to press charges and take us for all we had. The more Dustin and his step-dad tried to calm her down, the more she raged, until finally, though my tongue burned with all the angry things I wanted to say, Mr. Brown Eyes grabbed my hand and we left.

That night, as we were reading our scripures, we came across the words, "And the Lord make you to increase and abound in love one toward another, and toward all men."

Note how the verse makes no exception for crazy, litigation-hungry mothers. Nope. All men.

I repeat, loving people is not easy. But thankfully, as I've been learning these last few months, the Lord doesn't expect us to just wake up one day and love everyone. As it says in the above scripture, "the Lord make you to increase and abound in love."

The pure love of Christ, or charity, is not something we develop on our own, the culmination of all our acts of kindness. It is something the Lord blesses us with. Moroni, the Book of Mormon prophet, tells us:

"Wherefore, my beloved brethren, pray unto the Father with all the energy of heart, that ye may be filled with this love, which he hath bestowed upon all who are true followers of his Son, Jesus Christ."

In order to be blessed with charity, we have to pray for it. I remember as a young girl begging my parents to buy me a horse. I imagine the zeal and desperation with which I begged is similar to what Moroni means by, "with all the energy of heart." And then, as we pray, we have to move forward, showing the Lord by the way we live our lives that we are sincere in our desire to love, that we are His true followers.

For me, I think it will be a lifelong effort. But as I pray, and as I make little, everyday choices to love--to smile at that stranger, to see my husband's point of view, to really listen to someone--I feel my ability to love expanding.

In the words of President Dieter Uchtdorf, I want love to be my walk and my talk.

The Brown-Eyed Girl

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Baby Hunger

It's amazing what a year does to a baby.

A year ago, Baby Brown Eyes looked like this:

Now look at him:

I love this age. Baby is so fun and learning new things everyday. He's started imitating us, folding his arms during prayer, following me around with his push-toy while I'm vacuuming, leaning in for a kiss when he sees Mr. Brown Eyes and I locking lips. Every day he makes me laugh and melts my heart.

But I do miss his little baby days, when I could snuggle him close and he didn't squirm away. When he had a toothless smile and impossibly chubby thighs.

I understand now the feeling a mother gets when she's ready for another baby. My arms ache for it. Memories of those sleepless, emotional, spit-up covered newborn days have dulled to the point that they're now pleasant to recall. Even the thought of labor doesn't seem too terrible. Although, in the agonizing midst of my labor with Baby Brown Eyes, I swore to Mr. Brown Eyes that I would never give birth again.

I was just teasing.

A year and half has passed, and I can't wait to do it all over again.

I think that's all part of Heavenly Father's plan.

The Baby-Hungry Girl

"Time Elasticity"

Today's Prompt: List 10 situations / activities that make time go slow. Then list 10 situations / activities that make time speed up.
(Reprinted by permission all rights reserved (c) C.M. Mayo "Giant Golden Buddha and 364 More 5 Minute Writing Exercises"

Time slows--
when I have nothing to do at work
when I'm starving two hours before lunchtime
when I'm sitting at a red light and I'm in a hurry
when Mr. Brown Eyes is at work
when I'm waiting to get pregnant again
when I'm running on a treadmill
during an awkward conversation
when I'm waiting for water to boil
when the robots start fighting again in the "Transformers" movies. Yawn.
when Mr. Brown Eyes goes to buy ice cream. And I really want it.

Time flies--
when I'm lying in Mr. Brown Eyes' arms
when I'm reading a really good book
when I'm watching a good movie
on Christmas Day
when I'm in the dentist's office
when Baby Brown Eyes is napping
when I'm on a horse
when we haven't planned our Halloween party yet
when Baby Brown Eyes is making me laugh
when I want it to slow down

It's too bad we can't speed up and slow down time at will. If I could have one wish, that is what it would be.

How is time elastic for you?

The Brown-Eyed Girl

Thursday, October 6, 2011

That Far-Off Day

At almost eighteen months, Baby Brown Eyes is still very attached to nursing. For the most part, I'm ok with this. It's when he's up ten times a night to nurse, or clamps down on me while he falls asleep, or decides my nipple is a fun toy that should stretch like a rubber band, that I tell Mr. Brown Eyes, "I am so weaning him."

I never do, though. Maybe because nursing is still a quick, easy way to dry his tears when he's grumpy and get him to sleep when he's tired. Because I know, deep down, that he will wean himself when he's ready. And there's really no reason to rush him into it now.

The other day, I thought that far-off time had finally come. When I came home from work, Baby didn't seem very interested in nursing. I tried to encourage him to because I was very full, but he started fussing. So I gave him a sippy cup of milk. And he toddled happily away.

Shocked, I turned to Mr. Brown Eyes. "I think he's weaning," I said sadly.

Mr. Brown Eyes laughed shortly. "That's what you've been wanting, isn't it?"

It was. But it wasn't at the same time. Even as glorious visions of sleep-filled nights and un-sore nipples flooded my mind, I felt deeply depressed. I realize this was probably mostly hormone-related, but all the same, I was slightly relieved the next day when Baby continued his nursing routine as if nothing had happened.

I always thought the day Baby weaned was so far away, but it could be closer than I think. As could all those other milestones that seem so far-off: speaking in sentences, potty-training, going to school, growing facial hair, driving a car, dating, going on a mission, going to college, getting married...

I think he will be ready to wean before I am.

Nursing another day,
The Brown-Eyed Girl

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Hello Fall

Today's Prompt: What is your favorite season?

My answer to this question varies, depending on the time of year. I'm fickle. I love the bursting green buds of spring, but I also love the chill of winter, drinking hot chocolate in my living room while a fire crackles in the fireplace. And I also love the cool, mellow days of fall. And summer--well, I don't love anything about summer except jumping into the swimming pool and traveling far, far away from the desert.

So today, seeing that it's October, I'm going to have to say that my favorite season is fall, or autumn, as it's often more eloquently called. The blazing summer makes me appreciate fall even more. The temperature dips, the brilliant blue of the sky softens, and I can step outside without feeling like I'm walking into an oven.  I know it's fall when I can turn the AC off and open the windows, when the nearby racetrack roars to life, when the horses start getting shaggy, and crunchy gold leaves--perfect for stomping--start collecting on my back porch.

Fall means wearing boots and sweaters, playing outside, dressing up for Halloween, and pumpkin donuts.

Fall in Phoenix is like taking a big, deep, luxurious breath after holding it in for four months.

Yes, fall is the best time of year.

What's your favorite season?

The Brown-Eyed Girl