Friday, September 30, 2011

What the...

Hello little blog. I've missed you.

This week has been really weird. For the following reasons:

1. For two days I felt like a full-time, working mom. Baby Brown Eyes was asleep when I left for work, and when I got home I had maybe two or three hours with him before it was bedtime. To all you moms out there who work outside the home full-time: you are amazing. I don't know how you do it.

2. I brutally murdered a scorpion in my dishwasher. I finally stopped shivering in repulsion a few hours later. Now I want a new dishwasher.

3. I had two separate meltdowns, during which my emotions, which felt completely out of my control, swung wildly between anger, sadness, and confusion. And I'm not even pregnant.

4. My microwave became possessed.

5. A mosquito bit me on the bridge of my nose. And other unmentionable places.

6. Mr. Brown Eyes has had strep throat. Which means we haven't had a good make-out session for almost a week. Now that is weird. Sigh. And depressing.

7. I didn't blog.

I'm back now. Not sure how long the weirdness will be hanging around.

But I'll keep you updated.

Why my dishwasher?
The Brown-Eyed Girl

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

A Brief Scene

Today's Prompt: Write a brief scene that includes the following: a wilting poinsettia; misgivings; a scruffy dog; a loud bang; the smell of boiled shrimp.
(Reprinted by permission all rights reserved (c) C.M. Mayo "Giant Golden Buddha and 364 More 5 Minute Writing Exercises"

Rebecca sat erect on the edge of the couch, willing away the wave of nausea that washed over her with the smell of boiled shrimp coming from the kitchen. She wasn't sure if it was her father's cooking or her own misgivings that were making her sick.

She smoothed the folds of her floor-length ball gown. She'd never dressed so extravagantly in all her life. But instead of feeling elated, she felt sinkingly like the wilting poinsettia on the coffee table. What was she thinking? She couldn't go to the party with Darren Bentley. She was sure to make a fool of herself. He was surely regretting his choice this very moment.

No, he was pulling into the driveway, his gleaming Jaguar making her father's Volvo look even shabbier than usual. She saw Darren jump out, dashing in his tailored black tux, heading for the front door. There was a loud bang when he knocked. Somehow she couldn't will her legs to move until her father appeared in the kitchen doorway, wiping his hands on a towel.

"Do you want me to get that, honey?"

"No." She leapt up, kicking aside the scruffy dog that curled up by the front door, and turned the knob.

That was fun,
The Brown-Eyed Girl

Monday, September 19, 2011

A Letter

Dear Monday:

You tried to sneak up on me. You tried to make me grumpy by ending a perfectly good weekend and shoving me off to work.

But you came in with a beautiful, crisp morning that almost feels like fall. In Phoenix, in September, that's unheard of.

You also brought my husband home, extra loving, full of kisses and snuggles.

You gave me time to play with Baby Brown Eyes before I had to leave for work.

And you gave me a Yoohoo for breakfast.

So you failed, Monday.

Instead of being rotten, you've actually been pretty darn wonderful.

Thank you.

The Brown-Eyed Girl

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Looking In

Some nights Baby Brown Eyes goes to sleep really easily and sleeps for hours. Other nights, it takes hours to get him to sleep and he wakes up constantly until the wee hours of the morning.

On nights like that, I tend to grumble.

Tired and sore from constant nursing, I silently wish for a toddler that slept on command.

As if such a thing exists.

When I get grumpy about Baby Brown Eyes not sleeping well, I get grumpy about everything. The plant Mr. Brown Eyes got me for Mother's Day that is now brown and dead despite all my best efforts. The spiderwebs strung outside my window that I swear I just swept away yesterday. The bills collecting on the kitchen counter that we have yet to pay. My horse that won't eat. Our car and its dying battery.

Last night was one of those not-so-easy nights.

After getting Baby back to sleep for the second time, and a good deal of grumbling, I spent some time on my knees, praying for strength and patience and an ability to see my blessings.

Then I crawled into bed and pretended, for a moment, that I wasn't me, but a stranger looking in on my life.

I saw Baby peacefully sleeping, his little hands tucked under his head.

I smelled the delicious breeze laden with the scent of rain as it drifted through the open windows, stirring the curtains. I heard the rain steadily pattering, dripping from the eaves of the house and the trees.

I saw a big, warm bed and my husband quietly snoring, arms flung out to the sides, exhausted from a long day of working and playing.

And then I knew, if I were a stranger standing outside in the warm yellow glow of my back porch, looking in through the windows of my rain-dripping house, that I would want to be me.
In answer to my prayer, Heavenly Father opened my eyes to everything I have. Overwhelmed with gratitude, I fell asleep in peace. And didn't mind too much when Baby woke me up again fifteen minutes later.

Gratitude. It's all a matter of perspective.

And don't worry, there aren't any strangers peeking in my windows.

That I know of.

The Brown-Eyed Girl

The Wrong House

Today's Prompt: It was the wrong house. Use this as your opening line and start writing.
(Reprinted by permission all rights reserved (c) C.M. Mayo "Giant Golden Buddha and 364 More 5 Minute Writing Exercises"

It was the wrong house.

We figured that out as soon as Abbie tripped over something in the grass and a siren blared to life and the outside lights of the house lit up so bright you'd swear it was a military base. We all crouched behind the Lexus in the driveway (a Lexus? Cassie doesn't drive a Lexus. Neither do her parents. That should have been our first clue), covering our ears, trying to stuff the remaining toilet-paper under our shirts.

That's when we heard the front door open. Or we thought we did. It was hard to tell over the siren. So I peered underneath the Lexus and saw the boots--well-worn, snake-skin cowboy boots--approaching down the sidewalk. Abbie wanted to run but the rest of us were frozen in fear. Before the boots found us, I caught the reflection of flashing red and blue lights in the glossy paint of the Lexus. A cop car pulled up at the end of the drive, blocking us in.

We gave ourselves up, emerging one by one from our hiding place, sheepish in our shirts stuffed full of toilet-paper. White ribbons of toilet paper waved from the trees and fluttered on the roof of the house. In a burst of creativity, I'd even wrapped the stone dogs flanking the door so they looked like mummies.

No words were needed. We were guilty as charged.

PS, this is purely fictional,
The Brown-Eyed Girl

Friday, September 9, 2011

Finding Peace

September 11, 2001. I remember exactly where I was and what I felt when I first heard about the planes crashing into the World Trade Center. I imagine everyone who was alive that day remembers. It was one of those days that becomes seared into your memory, never to be forgotten.

The morning was still dark as I drove to Seminary with my little brother. I heard them say something on the radio about a plane crash in New York and that it possibly crashed into the World Trade Center, but at that point the news was so fresh nobody knew the tragic details. I went to Seminary, thinking little more of it. It was only after Seminary, as I drove with my friends to our high school next door, that I learned what really happened.

The radio station then played "God Bless the USA." Never had that song struck my soul the way it did that day. And it never has since. Fierce love and devotion for my country surged within me. I was proud to be an American.

Most of my classes that day were spent staring at a TV screen as images flashed across that would be forever burned in my mind. People, blackened by soot, running through the streets. An airplane, flying far too low. Engulfing flames and smoke. Then a tower, crashing to the ground amid a blinding fog of dust and rubble.

Between classes I would walk outside and look up at a calm, blue summer sky, finding it hard to believe that such tragedy and destruction existed beyond the horizon, when in my world it was just another day.

I was an invincible seventeen years-old on September 11, 2001. I had little experience with death or heartbreak. That day, my world was shaken. The future, always so secure, was suddenly uncertain and filled with fear, eggshell-fragile. Was the world ending? Would life as I knew it soon cease to exist? Would the terrorists win?

Thankfully, I was not left alone in my fear. In the days and months following September 11th, I had opportunities to listen to the words of the Lord's prophet on the earth at that time, Gordon B. Hinckley.

I remember distinctly when he said these words, "Now, I do not wish to be an alarmist. I do not wish to be a prophet of doom. I am optimistic. I do not believe the time is here when an all-consuming calamity will overtake us."

Right at that moment, my heart was filled with indescribable peace. As a prophet of God, I knew Gordon B. Hinckley spoke for the Lord Himself. And I was no longer afraid.

President Hinckley went on to say, "Are these perilous times? They are. But there is no need to fear. We can have peace in our hearts and peace in our homes. We can be an influence for good in this world, every one of us."

Ten years later, with a family of my own and a husband who works as a first responder, I think I understand the tragedy of September 11th even more deeply. And the world certainly isn't any more secure and certain than it was on the dark day. But I still know where to turn for peace, and the Lord continues to speak to us through his prophet, Thomas S. Monson.

In a dark and terrifying world, Jesus Christ has promised us "peace which passeth understanding."

I can testify that that peace is real.

To read more of President Hinckley's talk, go here.

We will never forget,
The Brown-Eyed Girl

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Losing the Moustache

Mr. Brown Eyes shaved his moustache off yesterday.

After all the weeks it took to grow it, it was gone in three swipes of the razor.

I thought he might be kind of sad. That he might feel a bit like Samson with a haircut--drained of power. The moustache was kind of a big deal.

You see, Mr. Brown Eyes does not share my Italian heritage, which heritage means even my knuckles have hair on them and I have to shave my legs twice a day if I want them to stay smooth. It takes quite a bit of time--and patience--for Mr. Brown Eyes to grow facial hair. Which I don't mind. I've never been one to get giddy over facial hair. Especially moustaches.

But Mr. Brown Eyes was determined to prove to himself that he could grow a moustache. This began in earnest a few months ago, when he purchased a fake moustache from a quarter machine and proudly sported it all day at work. He sent me a picture and I laughed. I didn't expect him to come home the next morning still wearing it. But he did. And he asked me to kiss him.

I touched the furry mass on his top lip and refused.

"Kiss me!" he urged.

I laughed and shook my head. "It's just too...furry."

He then pinned me down and tried seductive tactics. I submitted to a little peck of a kiss, but the moustache tickled so much I just started laughing. "Kiss me passionately!" he insisted, but all I could do was giggle as he nuzzled my neck, telling me he was my Mexican lover. You try passionately kissing a man who looks like he's wearing a caterpillar on his upper lip. It's just not possible. Amusing, but impossible.

I remember thinking after that how glad I was that Mr. Brown Eyes couldn't grow a moustache.

The next thing I knew he was sprouting little blonde hairs above his lips.

The thrill of the fake moustache was too great to resist, I guess.

Unlike his first moustache attempt when we were newlyweds, this one grew in pretty thick and didn't look terrible. Well, according to Mr. Brown Eyes' sister it did, but I found myself feeling partial toward it and learning how to kiss Mr. Brown Eyes without it tickling too much. I liked hearing his stories of how "the moustache" gave him superhuman powers. Not that I wanted him to keep it forever. But every time he asked me if I wanted him to shave it off, I would tell him to just keep it a little longer. Even when we were getting haircuts at his sister's salon in Oregon, and she practically had the razor poised on his lip, I told him not to shave it off yet.

I guess I just thought he was more attached to the moustache than he was, and I didn't want to tell him to shave it off if he didn't want to. And all the while he kept asking me if I wanted him to shave it off, whether or not he wanted to. Both of us trying to think of the other person, not realizing the other person really didn't care either way.

Ah, love.

So yesterday the moustache came off in three quick seconds. And I was surprised at Mr. Brown Eyes' lack of remorse.

I guess once you grow a moustache for the first time, doing it again is no big deal. Now he could grow a beard if he wanted to.

But I sure hope he doesn't.

My Mexican lover
Kissing my husband without being tickled,
The Brown-Eyed Girl


Today's Prompt: Writing for one minute under each category, make a list of noises that remind you of:
(1) summer
(2) being in church
Also make a list of:
(3) beautiful noises
(4) kitchen noises
(5) shopping mall noises
(Reprinted by permission all rights reserved (c) C.M. Mayo "Giant Golden Buddha and 364 More 5 Minute Writing Exercises"

1. Remind me of summer:
cicadas buzzing; peacocks squawking; sizzle of the BBQ; splashing pool water; rumble of Mr. Brown Eyes' boat; hum of the air conditioner
2. Remind me of being in church:
babies crying; organ pipes; quiet; whispers; tinkle of plastic cups in Sacrament tray; patter of Cheerios being dropped on the floor; Baby Brown Eyes beating on the metal chairs
3. beautiful noises:
horse hooves on the road outside my house; tinkle of wind chimes; baby laughter; pitter-patter of rain; thunder crackling; Mr. Brown Eyes' voice; violin music; warble of a talented soprano; the soft slap of Baby's bare feet against the tile as he runs around the house
4. Kitchen noises:
microwave humming; clink of glasses or spoon against bowl; crinkle of cellophane; beater whirring; beeping oven or microwave; running water
5. Shopping mall noises:
ringing cellphones; chatter; music--soothing classical or the latest band; babies crying

When you write it enough times, "noise" is a funny-looking word, isn't it?

What do you hear?
The Brown-Eyed Girl

Friday, September 2, 2011

A Crabby Tale

Today I would like to share an adventure with you.

Something new and fun that I had never done before.

Something called crabbing. 

It starts like this.

First, you drive to a cute, scenic little town nestled against a fishy-smelling bay. You acquire the proper permits and purchase some bait. You steal a bite of your husband's Snickers bar. Then you put your boat on the water and venture into the bay.

Then you search for the perfect spot to catch crab. I'm not really sure how a spot is determined perfect, other than trying a bunch of spots out and seeing if you catch crab or not. Which is done as follows:

Take your crab ring and bait it. We used dead fish and (dead, obviously) chicken. The smellier the better, as my brother-in-law says. I know, we're actually interested in eating something that's attracted to things like this. Gross. Yet so delicious. 

Next, you lower your ring (which is now a basket) into the water. If it helps to make a fierce, manly face while you do this, then, by all means, go for it.

Once you've lowered the ring all the way, the little buoy attached to the rope will remind you where it is. Go about your business for fifteen minutes or so. We had five other rings to drop elsewhere. But if you don't have anything else to do, be creative. Play charades. Buy auto insurance. Take a million pictures of nothing (like yours truly).

When the fifteen minutes or so are over, go ahead and yank that sucker back up to the surface. You can go slowly pulling the rope up, but once it gets heavy and the basket is close, go faster so the basket doesn't tip and dump the crabs out.

If you were successful, your basket will be full of creepy, long-legged little aliens scuttling about trying to pinch your face off.

Crab! Ahoy!

Sorry, just wanted to use that word.

Next, you must sort the crabs. Gloves are recommended. You're not allowed to keep females, so they must be thrown back. How do you tell the difference, you ask? Well, female crabs tend toward wearing bows and high heels, whereas the male crabs will more likely have little bowler hats on their heads.

If that doesn't help, look underneath. The female's abdomen, designed to hold her eggs for several months, is wider and squishier than the male's.

You must also sort the crabs by size. If the crab is too small, it gets thrown back to sea.

Goodbye little crab! Live like there's no tomorrow! Remember, it's not the breaths you take, but the moments that take your breath away!


By the way, don't feel bad if you don't look as stylish as I do during your crabbing adventure. I don't hold other people to my standards of excellence.

Once you've procured a substantial load of unhappy male crabs, you're ready to pack up and head home.

And then the fun begins.

Boil the crabs until they turn red and look like this:

Look at the steam coming off those suckers.

I'm pretty sure my brother-in-law added some other stuff to the boiling water to season the meat. I just don't remember what.

Next, you clean the crabs and remove the meat from the shells. I didn't clean any because, well, it looked unpleasant. And I had to get Baby Brown Eyes to bed. I half-hoped when I rejoined the group that all the work would be done and a platter of delicious crab dishes would be set out on the table for me.

No such luck. 

Turns out removing the meat from those spindly little crab legs takes an awful long time. Especially when you catch twenty-five of them. We were cutting and cracking and pulling out meat for what seemed like hours.

At least we had fun doing it.

Finally it was time to eat.

This crab sautee is the only dish I managed to get a picture of. Hey, we were hungry. But we also made crab cakes and decadent crab macaroni and cheese.

It was an adventure that left me with a very full belly.

The best kind.

Happy Crabbing,
The Brown-Eyed Girl