Thursday, June 30, 2011

Writing Prompt Wednesday, er, Thursday #5

Today's prompt: What is the most beautiful thing in the room with you right now?

A picture of Mr. Brown Eyes. He has a huge smile on his face, a laughing smile that creases his cheeks and makes his eyes all squinty. His hair is short, revealing his smooth forehead and thick eyebrows. His teeth are straight and white. He is wearing a blue-collared shirt and holding his Fire Academy diploma. He is happy and glowing and so handsome.

I like to stare at that picture when I'm bored at work.

Tell me about your beautiful things,
The Brown-Eyed Girl

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

My Bread Machine Runneth Over

It seems lately that I've been prone to disaster in my kitchen.

In the second year of my marriage, my husband told me he felt like he had been deprived of one of the classic experiences of being a newlywed--eating burnt dinners. I wasn't a gourmet chef by any means, but while Mr. Brown Eyes was in paramedic school I found a bunch of simple recipes and made it a point to cook him dinner every night. I made some awesome dinners those days. I felt like a natural-born housewife.

We've been married three years now, and in the last week I've burnt pancakes, bacon, and rice.

What is wrong with me?

I could say I'm just making up for that first year, that I feel bad for robbing Mr. Brown Eyes of that timeless newlywed experience.

But I think it would be closer to the truth to say that Baby Brown Eyes is stealing my brain cells. "Baby Brain" is an honest-to-goodness real affliction. It's not that I feel less intelligent now that I've had a baby, I just find myself doing little, stupid things that I never did before.

Like calling people by the wrong name. Misplacing everything. Forgetting things people have said to me.

Like burning breakfast.

I remember reading somewhere that a breastfeeding mother has more bloodflow to her breasts than she does to her brain. Whether that's true or not, it sounds like a good explanation for why my brain is so feeble these days. The poor thing is being robbed. By a pair of boobs, no less.

On Father's Day I decided to make a batch of crescent rolls in my bread machine. Not a difficult task. Dump the ingredients in, hit the button, and--voila!--bread dough. Except I decided to double the recipe; and it wasn't until after I dumped the ingredients in that I thought, "Hmm, maybe that wasn't such a good idea." But it was too late.

The cycle went fine, though, until the last rising. That double-batch of crescent roll dough rose so merrily it spilled over the pan and made a glorious, sticky mess. It still isn't completely cleaned up.

I guess there are worse things than having an over-abundance of bread dough.

At least I didn't burn it.

Speaking of bread, does anyone have a foolproof bread recipe? I cannot bake bread to save my life. I mean, I can bake it, but it never turns out right--it's always dry and crumbly. Even my mom's recipe--the one that turns out perfect every time she bakes it--was slightly less than dismal when I got my hands on it.

Maybe I am just not destined to be a bread-baker.

Or maybe it's just baby brain.

I don't know. I'm going to stop thinking about it now.

My brain hurts.

The Brown-Eyed Girl

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Writing Prompt Wednesday #4

I had every intention of writing this yesterday. But life--and writer's block--got in the way. I know, the purpose of writing prompts is to cure writer's block and I should have persevered. But I was lazy. And Culver's was calling me.

Todays's prompt: Write a short story using the following as an opening line: "If I must be a dragon," thought Fenwick, "it would be nice if I could blow at least a little bit of fire." (Courtesy of Glen and Karen Bledsoe's Writing for Children website

"If I must be a dragon," thought Fenwick, "it would be nice if I could blow at least a little bit of fire."

But he couldn't even blow a little bit. Not even enough to light a tea candle. Whenever he tried, he started hacking and went into a coughing fit that lasted for five minutes. It would be a comfort if, after those five minutes, a little trickle of smoke snaked out of his mouth. But smoke means fire. And there was no fire. So there was no smoke, either.

His mother told him it was because he had so much mucous in his throat, from his allergies. She would tell him she had the same problem when she was a youngster and she grew out of it, so he would, too. But his mother had also been big for her age, covered in gleaming gold scales that were blinding in the sun. The other youngsters had never dared make fun of her.

Fenwick didn't have it so easy. He was little for his age and his scales were a pale green. So the other youngsters made fun of him. A lot. They called him Fireless and Snot Nose and Froggie. He'd gotten to the point where he used his green scales to hide in the grass. He blended in so well, no one could ever find him unless they heard him sneeze.

He'd crouch in the grass for hours, dreaming of the day he could set the whole prairie ablaze with his own glorious fire. Sometimes he'd try to light a spark, but that hacking cough was so unpleasant he preferred to just lay and dream about it.

One day, he'd daydreamed in the grass so long that he fell asleep. He was awakened by something tickling his nose. He opened his yellow, slitted eyes to see a furry caterpillar inching its way over his talons.

The caterpillar saw Fenwick's eyes on him and stopped. "Why hello," it said to him. "Name's Ichabod. Are you going to burn me now?"

Fenwick blinked. "Burn you? Of course not."

"My cousin was burnt to a crisp by one of your kind just last week," Ichabod informed him. "So I'm wondering why you aren't warming up your fire as we speak."

Fenwick sighed. "Oh, I don't have any fire. But if I did, why would I use it on you? You're not big enough to eat."

"The other dragons don't care about that. They just like showing off their power and picking on creatures smaller than them."

Fenwick was surprised. He'd never heard his kind described that way. "Is that true?"

Ichabod eyed him with a wary caterpillar look. "You don't get out of this grass much, do you? Of course it's true. Why do you think all the other creatures are afraid of you. Well, not you, but dragons in general."

"No one's afraid of me," Fenwick said.

"Do you want them to be? If I was afraid of you, we wouldn't be having this very nice conversation we're having right now."

Fenwick thought about that. He decided he didn't want this very friendly caterpillar, or any other creature, to be afraid of him. Maybe there was a very good reason he couldn't breathe fire. Maybe, just maybe, he was meant to breach the gap between the dragons and all the other creatures they bullied.

"Of course I don't want you to be afraid of me," he told Ichabod. "My name's Fenwick, by the way. I don't breathe fire, but maybe I can do something better."

Have a nice weekend,
The Brown-Eyed Girl

Monday, June 13, 2011

Captain Ahab in the Cabinet

My thoughts are pretty random right now so I'm going to give you a random post.

1. I found Captain Ahab in the bathroom cabinet last night, tucked next to the toilet paper. Captain Ahab being the name we gave the little white-bearded captain of Baby Brown Eyes' toy boat. That's one of the fun things about having a toddler. He'll tote his toys around the house and I'll end up finding them in the most random places. A little piece of Baby Brown Eyes to make me smile.

2. I've felt pretty discouraged about my writing lately. Satan likes to do that to me: make me feel like I'm no good. But then I sat down at my computer Saturday night and read some of my recent writing and I remembered--hey, I'm good! I was so bolstered by this discovery I stayed up until midnight, typing away. I miss the feeling of losing myself in my writing. There's not much time for that anymore.

3. I'm ready for baby #2. There. I said it.

4. In connection with #3 above, Mr. Brown Eyes thinks I have a one-track mind. I don't know what gives him that idea. Maybe because I hear potential baby names everywhere, I swoon over itty-bitty baby clothes, and I talk about having another baby all the time.

5. But my body is lazy, so don't expect an "I'm pregnant!" announcement anytime soon.

6. In am in love with Culvers. Unhealthily so, I think.

7. The other night, Mr. Brown Eyes and I drove down our dark country road listening to "Drive" by Alan Jackson. I don't even like Alan Jackson. But now I hear that song and I think about our little boy and our future children and it makes me all mushy inside.

8. Mr. Brown Eyes makes fun of me for setting up the tray of our dish drainer upside down, for getting the words to Brad Paisley's "This is Country Music" wrong (that's a story for another day), for burning the pancakes the other morning. He makes fun of me for a lot of things. I give him a lot of material. But I can make fun of him for all the times (there have been at least two) he wanders the house muttering, "Where is my phone!" when it's plugged into the speakers in the living room, blasting music all over the house.

9. See? I don't have a one-track mind. I've only mentioned babies maybe three times.

That's what I call self-control,
The Baby-Hungry Brown-Eyed Girl

Wednesday, June 8, 2011


This weekend we took our new, still un-named fishing boat out to the lake for Baby Brown Eyes' first camping experience.

I have this idea in my head that any family outing that requires as much preparation and planning as camping does had better go perfectly. Without a hitch. We laugh, we smile, we bond by the campfire. And when we look back on the weekend, our minds are warmed with nothing but sweet, pleasant memories.

I think I have set my expectations a little too high.

Before we'd even started packing Friday morning Baby was crabby. And so was I. I was in a hurry to get going, even though we had absolutely no reason why we shouldn't take our time; we didn't want to get to the lake in the heat of the day. But Baby wouldn't let me set him down to do anything. So I nagged my husband. Oh, I was horrific. The Queen of the Nags. Poor Mr. Brown Eyes.

We were on the last leg of our journey, driving up the lake road, when we realized we needed a Tonto Pass so we had to turn around and drive several miles back the way we came to get one. When Mr. Brown Eyes put our boat on the water, the motor was smoking something fierce. This is it, I thought. We've come all this way and now our boat's going to break down and strand us. But Mr. Brown Eyes got it fixed and we boated out to our little island...where we found boy scouts everywhere and a sign that said "No Campfires."

Have you ever gone camping without a campfire? It's just not right. Campfires are an American pastime, like apple pie. S'mores and foil dinners just aren't the same when they're cooked over a grill. Without a campfire, you just go to bed when the sun goes down. There's nothing else to do.

Oh, and I spilled hot foil-dinner juice on my lap, which caused me to jump to my feet and shout a not-nice word. Which made Baby Brown Eyes cry. I had to stuff ice packs down my pants to soothe the pain.

You're probably wondering why I even like camping at all.

Here are a few reasons why.

The Brown-Eyed Girl

Writing Prompt Wednesday #3

Today's Prompt: Choose a character and describe a scene in which that character visits the dentist.

The old woman clutched her purse to her chest with both hands and shuffled toward the chair.

"You can set your purse on the counter," the hygienist suggested cheerfully.

She glanced at the counter. "Here?"


The old woman stared at the spotless counter for several long seconds, then asked, "But wasn't I here yesterday?"

The hygienist smiled sweetly. "Nope. But those six months between cleanings sure fly by, don't they? Go ahead and put your purse on the counter and take a seat in the chair."

Wagging her head in confusion, the old woman set her purse in the suggested spot and climbed into the dental chair, looking for everything like a confused child if it weren't for her white hair. As the hygienist began arranging her instruments, the old lady shot upright.

"Where am I?" she exclaimed.

"At the dentist's office," the hygienist replied, startled but successfully keeping her voice even.

"Oh, really? And what's your name, dear?"


"That's a pretty name. Are you sure I wasn't here yesterday?"

"Pretty sure."

"Oh, well. Cleaner teeth if I was! But most of these aren't real anyway. Are yours real, dear?"

Sally smiled. "Of course."

The old woman chuckled. "I'm not talking about your teeth, dear."

The Brown-Eyed Girl

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Writing Prompt Wednesday #2

Today's prompt:
Write a letter where your conscience apologizes to you.

Dear Brown-Eyed Girl,

I'm sorry. I know you are angry with me. I have to admit, that brownie looked delicious, all dense and fudgy with that gooey caramel oozing out the middle. But you'd already eaten half the pan! And poor Mr. Brown Eyes hadn't gotten any. So can you blame me if I pricked you and held you back from stabbing the brownie with your fork and gobbling it up? Your thighs will thank me later.

Maybe it's not just the brownie. Maybe it's a culmination of things I've done that has made you scowl every time I try to talk to you. Do I have to apologize for every single one? Because I'm not going to. I refuse to apologize for all those things that were for your own good. I've just been looking out for you. That's my job! Yes, I know you meant it when you swore you'd never forgive your best friend for snubbing you at her wedding. But I knew you'd miss her too much; that's why I guilted you into accepting her very sincere apology. And you would miss her, wouldn't you? See? Aren't you glad you have me around?

So go ahead, be mad at me for all those times I encouraged you to hug Mr. Brown Eyes instead of railing at him, when I convinced you $150 was just too much for a bathing suit, when I suggested quite strongly that it would be in your best interest to ask your sister before borrowing her brand new dress. I stand by my decisions. They were all for your good. Where would you be without me? That's right, you'd be angry at your husband, $150 poorer, and most likely black and blue from your sister's rage. You're welcome.

You know what? I don't care if you're mad. It doesn't make any difference. I'll still be here, even if you stop listening to me. But I know you won't. You like me too much. Remember when I told you to go back to the store and pay for that movie the cashier forgot to charge you for? That made you feel pretty good, didn't it? See? I'm not all bad.

So don't stay mad at me.

I bet Mr. Brown Eyes will share the brownie with you.

Your Conscience

Feel free to contribute your own response to the writing prompt in the comments section.

My conscience really does make me mad sometimes,
The Brown-Eyed Girl