Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Working on something

Please excuse my dust, but I'm working on something. That something should be available to you in the beginning of February. But, because of it, I have to put the blog on hold for a few weeks. Believe me, it's so worth it! If you have any questions, feel free to email me at mixedandhappy at gmail dot com.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Microwave meltdown

I'm sick so my writing is all off. I'll forgive you if you leave now. This is going to be a short one because I feel so awful. I woke up to a flaming sore throat this morning, but a deadline at work forced me out of bed.

I stood in front of the mirror just after my shower and refused the makeup. No, it hurts to put you on today. I am just going to look how I feel. I went to reach for my toothbrush when I heard BANG. And then some yelling. "Get back!"

Well, somehow, the microwave had just exploded. I just stood there, thinking that maybe the cold medicine was messing with me. I dropped my toothbrush and scurried over to the kitchen. "There's a hole in the microwave," hubby says to me.

You know, at that point, I didn't even want to ask. We still don't know why it happened. But the 3-year-old, Mr. E, was pouting about his oatmeal, so he figured he'd start the microwave himself. That's all we know. There was a small fire and a boom and a hole. That's what we know.


Just before I made it to work, I realized that in the middle of the microwave meltdown, I had never picked my toothbrush back up. I never brushed my teeth -- and you know, I'm sick. So ick.

"Here," hubby said. "Chew a piece of gum." (Doesn't he know me by now?)

"I will not," I said. And so we stopped at Walgreen's and picked up a little cheap toothbrush and a small tube of paste. I bolted to the bathroom to brush my teeth. So glad no one stopped me.

I had to push through three hours of editing, compiling, finding art. It hurt to even look at the computer screen, but I just couldn't hand it over to someone else. That would take lots of explaining to do, and at that point, I might as well just get her done. After 11, I was headed home to crawl into my warm bed. I am going to do the same now. Sorry, I just can't last another sentence. Be back Friday.

Monday, January 11, 2010

The 30-day challenge

Oh, my voice. It's almost completely gone. (Ouch).

Just like hubby. Completely gone. (Ouch). I'm just learning the ropes of being a firefighter's wife. So far, I have a sort of love-hate relationship with the gig. On one hand, I love it. I remember the day hubby and I and the kids were driving home from church one day. We turned the corner and saw an accident that had just happened. The woman was sitting in her car, hysterically crying.

I watched as he walked over there and said to her "It's OK. I'm a firefighter. I'm here to help." Those words quieted the screams. Those two words, Fire Fighter, and she felt safe. I almost cried that day, watching him. I thought, "So, this is what being married to a firefighter is like."

That was the honeymoon phase, though. Now that we're getting into the everyday routine of it all, the job is what takes him away from me for 24 hours straight. Now, when I don't see him for 24 hours straight and then he calls to tell me that he has mandatory overtime, I think "So, this is what it's like to be a firefighter's wife." I hate when he leaves. But, when he leaves for a full day, I miss him like crazy. Right now, I miss him like crazy.

The other day, I drove him to work and the kids to school. We had the heat on full blast in the mom van. As we were leaving our driveway, I could feel the crunch of the ice beneath the tires. I kept saying, "Look! Ice!" Finally, after like the fourth time, I gave up. "Am I the only one in this car who is amazed by the ice?"

The kids actually said yes. They had been hoping for a Florida snow day, so the ice was rather unimpressive. After we dropped off the multiple kids at their multiple locations, we had about 10 minutes. I love and hate those 10 minutes because it's like the countdown until he's gone. I hate that part, but I love being able to sit with him in a quiet car -- no crying children.

"I have a challenge for you," he said as we drove. "A 30-day challenge."

Now he knows that I love a challenge. It's who I am. But, I was a little hesitant. Was this going to be some kind of cooking or cleaning challenge? "Are you game?" he asked.

"It depends." Of course, it depends.

He paused, as if bracing himself for the moment. And then he unveiled the amazing 30-day challenge that I would not be able to turn down. In fact, this is so what I have needed in my life. It feels good to have a man who can challenge me the way he does.

OK, if you didn't catch it, that was a teensy bit of sarcasm. You know, the kind smothered in love.

"So, tell me, what's the challenge?" I ask him as we are pulling up to the firehouse -- the final destination.

"It's a 30-day s*x challenge." (My face: blank stare.)

(Sidenote: I never spell out certain words, and that's to keep certain traffic away. You understand.)


"Apparently -- and I saw this on the news -- having s*x once is like jogging seven miles. So, I thought, imagine if we had s*x every day for 30 days? It would be like jogging 210 miles! Isn't that awesome?"

Again. Blank stare.

Wow. I mean, I don't even know what to say about that one. By the time I made it to work, I realized that I never even answered his question -- just told him to have a great day, while laughing. "You're so silly," I said. "Have a good day. Text me later."

Again, wow. And now that I can barely speak and the kids are asking me a bazillion questions, I have to sign off. I'll be back Wednesday. I have lots of Mixed and Happy stuff to discuss Wednesday, so I hope you'll swing by.

Friday, January 8, 2010

There's a food fairy out there, and he's stalking me.

So, I started my three-week fast on Monday. It's supposed to go something like this:

--Week one: Fruit and vegetables
--Week two: Fruit, vegetables and chicken
--Week three: Fruit, vegetables and fish

The fast is supposed to be cleansing -- both physically and spiritually. So far, so good. I've been like, praying and (mostly) not eating. But, if anyone else decides to brave this, I wanted to let you all know exactly what happens when you go on a fast and the universe knows.

1. The vending machine man will have leftovers. And when does that ever happen? So around noon, I walked over to the break area to get a fork for my salad -- my very dry, bland salad. I must have just missed the vending machine guy, who was apparently in a very jolly, giving mood. He was giving out the honeybuns he couldn't sell. He also took the time to write a very kind note explaining the sweet, sticky freebies. Behind the note, the honeybuns stared at me. Out-of-date honeybuns never looked so good.

2. Record-breaking temperatures will cause your job (in Florida) to have a snow day. Again -- when does that ever happen? At my job, snow day morphed into Tempt Suzy day. We all received a mass email with promises of ooey-gooey marshmallows, chocolate and graham crackers. Yes, it was horrible, horrible S'mores day. I ventured down with my co-worker and snapped these shots. But, I did not touch. My co-worker ruined it for me by answering me incorrectly. "A marshmallow is a vegetable, right?" "No, Suzy, a marshmallow is like, sugar on top of sugar." Well, shoot. By the way, it never did snow -- just rained S'mores.

Isn't it pretty? This heaping bowl of chocolate. This was sitting on the table when I arrived downstairs for the Tempt Suzy fest. So welcoming. So warm. Sucks me in every time. But not today.

3. All of the normal kid-related semi-emergencies (scream fests) will involve food of some sort. So, the other day, I had a handful of candy canes, which I distributed to the children. One for each child. Half-way home, the baby starts screaming. He lost his candy cane. So, while everyone else was gnawing on their candy canes, baby was throwing a fit. I looked everywhere I could until finally, I gave up, thinking that the lonely candy cane had somehow slipped through his chubby fingers and between the seat cushions never to be seen again. I was wrong -- as you can see in this picture.

Not that this tempted me. Icky. But, the recurring theme was obvious: Food. Food everywhere.

4. Moe's will lure you with promises of cups and cups of totally free queso dip. Right around 12:03 p.m., my phone buzzed. An email from Moe's promised that if I became a Facebook friend, they'd give me the hard-to-resist goodness that is Moe's queso dip. And again, at 12:15 p.m., they sought my FB friendship. But, my fast and I agreed that Moe's was no real friend.

5. A food fairy will follow you. And he will sprinkle little packages of Reese's and M&M's on random counter tops. I swear, I keep finding random little cute packages of candy just waiting for me to fall and take them back.

6. But, you'll resist all of the above -- to a degree. Don't look too closely at the picture below, mkay? Today, by the end of my week, I sat down -- having weathered the not-snow and the S'mores and the invisible food fairy -- and I enjoyed a big fat salad. (P.S. You do not see chicken strips in this salad. Those are, um, veggie sticks. OK?) This week, I give myself a 9 out of 10.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Don't get it wrong

Time to exhale.

I needed that. Today started at 5:30 a.m. when I got the call. Hubby had to work overtime, he told me. That meant the morning was all mine. That meant getting two sets of kids to two different schools was -- all mine. Along with the lunches and the diaper bag and the socks and the shoes and my own shower and makeup. It was all mine. But, today was also the day our new kitty, Cole, had to be dropped off at the vet by 8. Before the sun was up, I was already rolling my eyes at the day before me.

I didn't want it. "Wednesday: I'm not feeling you. Can you please be Saturday today?" Nope. Wednesday would not budge and so, I pushed through. By the time I made it to work, it was 8:27 a.m. Perfect timing. Kind of. I realized that I had a meeting in, oh, three minutes.

That's how my day started. One big colorful blur of just stuff to do.

By 4 p.m., and after skipping lunch, I was over the day and ready to give it back. "I'm done with this one. I'd like Thursday now."

But, Wednesday was not done with me.

I left work and headed for my daughter's school. I was probably 30 seconds away from pulling into the school parking lot when I saw a white Navigator barreling off the side of the road -- through a series of ditches and then, SMASH full force, head on into a tree.

I slowed and, realizing the severity of what had just happened, pulled the mom van over, parked on the shoulder of the road and ran over to the truck -- while dialing 911. The car was mangled and when I peered into the driver's side, I saw a man, probably in his 50s, with gray hair. But, I couldn't see his face. It was buried in the blood-covered air-bag. And he wasn't moving.

Another man, another passerby, called to the man. "You OK?" Meanwhile, the 911 operator was asking me to stay on the line. "Help is on the way. Stay with us. Someone's coming," the man said.

It was so awful. I thought he was dead. And then he lifted his head and peered up. "They're coming to help you right now, OK?" I said to him. He was wearing dress pants and a button-up shirt. He looked dazed, confused. "What is your name?" I asked him. He muttered something, but I didn't understand. "Do you have children?" I asked him.

"Four," he said. "Four kids."

It hurt me to look at him -- the blood was everywhere and still oozing from his face.

"Do you have a wife?"

"Yes," he said. I asked him her name. "It's Malala ... ."

He was slurring his words. Not making sense. "Let me call her," I said. The numbers didn't make any sense. "352-54-1903," he'd say, missing numbers along the way. Finally, he gave me a number that made sense and when I called it, a woman answered.

"Do you have a family member who drives a white Navigator?" I asked her.

"Excuse me? Um, yes. My husband does."

"He's OK," I said. "But, he's been in a pretty bad accident." She was there within minutes. By the time she arrived, the paramedics were pulling him out of the mangled mess on a stretcher. She ran to be by his side and was told to back up. "That is my husband," she yelled between sobs. "I will not back up."

I placed my hand on her back. "He's OK," I told her. "He was talking to me. But they need to get him out."

The car was completely mangled -- caved in on one side. And as they pulled him out, she melted in tears. "Oh God," she cried. "What happened? What happened?"

By this time, traffic had been completely stopped; there was a slew of onlookers. I stood there shivering, wearing only jeans and a t-shirt when an officer made his way to my side. He asked for my information so they could call me later since I witnessed the accident.

As I walked away, the wife stopped me. "Are you the woman who called me?" she asked. I nodded yes. "And you called 911?"


"Thank you," she said kind of breathlessly. "Thank you so much." I told her that if she needed anything to give me a call and I slipped her my business card. For a few moments, our paths converged and right around 4:30, we went our separate ways again.

As I was pulling away, the emotion of the moment gripped me. All I knew is that someone had been hurt, and I was able to help -- even if it was just by making a phone call. I thought about my own life and said "God, I want to help people. I don't know how. But, give me the people who need help and I promise to help them."

I thought about how I had rolled my eyes at the day earlier. How I wanted to give it back. But now I was seeing a tiny sliver of the bigger picture: that instead of trying to give my days back, I need to be trying to give back during my days. And that it's not all about me. And if I ever think that it is, I'm getting it wrong.

Tomorrow, I am not going to get it wrong. Will you?

Monday, January 4, 2010

2009 in the rearview!

Before we go any further: the Mixed and Happy project was a success and I hope that Keith Bardwell's heart has been softened. Here are some things to keep in mind about Mixed and Happy as we move forward -- since we are moving forward!

-- BLOG: I have decided to keep blogging about life as a mom in a mixed-race family. You know, it's really not about race, right? It's about family and love. I'll be right here three times a week with new posts.

-- ME: Before I jumped into it, I needed you to get a real glimpse into my life. Thus, the post below. If I offend anyone for being real, I'm sorry, but it can't be any other way. I don't write to maintain an audience. I write to tell the lessons that life is teaching me along the way.

-- FACEBOOK PAGE: Mixed and Happy has an amazing facebook group, and it is growing daily. Please join us. I am currently adding Officers to the page. Email me (mixedandhappy at gmail dot com) if interested.

2009 was a beast -- not a blast with fireworks and confetti, but a beast with fangs and a roar. 2009 stood at my doorstep and threatened to destroy me. Today, it sits just inches behind the worst year of my life, which was 2005, the year my little sister quietly slipped away from my life forever.

There was nothing quiet, though, about 2009. It was a year of betrayal on many sides. I wrestled with 2009 almost daily, and he almost won. After the death of my sister in 2005, I grew angry and the unforgiveness of so many people in my life seeped deep into my soul until there was this wall.

That wall allowed me to sit in a counselor's office one Saturday afternoon in April and agree to a divorce. "You are so angry," the woman said. "It might be best for the children." Thanks to the wall, I felt nothing. Instead, I thought it might be better if someone else was feeling the pain -- instead of me.

But something changed in April as my husband, desperate for answers, took one tiny step of faith. He didn't realize it at the time, but that one little step would completely turn the ship in another direction. Actually, that tiny step was like a tiny life-jacket in a giant, chaotic ocean. Though small, its job was magnificent.

Hubby saved me when he could have left me in the midst of an emotional storm. But, he refused to leave. He refused to let the family disintegrate. He became my anchor. I looked to him and realized that while he was acting as my anchor, he too had an anchor. God was his anchor.

I woke up one night, right around 3 a.m., and I heard him crying out. A grown man pleading, begging, praying. He was asking God for answers, for guidance. While I had been sleeping, he had been praying. While I had been crying, he had been praying. While I had been fighting, he had been praying. And so, realizing that he was my anchor, I followed, eventually clinging to my safe place.

It took about four years to almost lose everything, but I made it through the fire. And unbelievably, I can sit here with love in my home, peace in my heart and faith in my life because of it all. Amazing how things work out. Had I walked away, the Mixed and Happy project would have never been a thought in my mind.

I hopped on here tonight to talk about my fast. (Today happens to be day 1 of 21.) But, I know when I am supposed to write something. By this point in my life, I don't write the stories. I simply tell the stories that need to be told for whatever reason. If I don't, they weigh on me until I set them free.

It's so easy, sometimes, to hide behind a mask. But, I write the stories of my life. Please understand that when you come here, you are going to get a glimpse of my life. And today, on Jan. 3, 2010, my life is about being honest about the pieces that have connected to make this colorful, Mixed and Happy puzzle.

Join me if you will. On Wednesday, I'll show you where hubby and I found that candy cane that the baby lost on our ride home tonight. Let's just say there were tears. Oh, it's going to be (mostly) fun.