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New Beginnings

I have been away from this space for longer than I ever thought possible. Beth has emphatically declared that I am a writer, despite the resistance that I have to accepting that title. But she’s right. No matter how well or poorly I’ve done it, I’ve loved writing my entire life. It started as school projects and journal entries, had a brief stint as a humor columnist (among my family and friends – never did get the gumption to hand any in to a paper or magazine), and eventually morphed in to this blog. There have certainly been times when I have not felt like writing, or despite wanting to, it got pushed to the bottom of the To Do list by life. But even if I don’t want to sit down and publish my thoughts, I never stop writing. I write (and re-write) sentences in my head throughout my day. When inspiration does come, my fingers can start to twitch when I’m too far from a keyboard. And I have rituals for when I write. Certainly some posts are put up quickly, with little effort – a picture of my beautiful girls may not need anything more than a title, and shared conversations have already written themselves. If I’m really writing though – telling a story through my own words – I like things a certain way.

Ernest Hemingway said, “write drunk – edit sober.” I hadn’t heard this quote until recently but it made me smile in recognition of the way I write. I do very much enjoy a glass of wine as part of my ritual, but when I “write drunk” it’s not about a state of inebriation – it’s about the flow. When I sit down in front of a keyboard, I don’t agonize over sentence structure. I tell my story. My backspace button is used here and there but I prefer to relax and let my thoughts spill on to the screen as they come, naturally. The true editing appears after the first draft is completely finished. Second, third – sometimes fourth re-reads will follow in a “sober” phase to ensure I’m getting the feeling I intended across, and of course the occasional grammar fix (I do notice them – I just don’t care about the majority) all before I even consider clicking Publish.

All of this does not guarantee a fantastic post. Some I love, some I feel – despite sober editing – just never made their full potential. Some are too silly to critique, and some I roll my eyes at and wonder what on earth I was thinking. And all of those combined, equal – my life. A little silly at times, or serious, or eye-rolling – sometimes in-depth, sometimes quick to the point. This is me.

I started this blog in the summer of 2007. Just shy of 5 years ago. At that point I still defined myself by the work I had done, especially my most recent job where Justice Girl was born. I knew I was good at my job at the court. I felt confident there – whatever new experience had been thrown at me, I handled it, and I handled it well. Once I became a full-time mom I was terrified. I didn’t feel confident and I didn’t always handle things well. I had read verdicts that sent men to prison for life in front of the accused, a jury, and room full of strangers. I could decipher the handwriting of any judge in the building (trust me – not an easy task). I could type pages of legal jargon in minutes and eventually even knew what the hell that jargon meant (also not an easy task). The amount of work I could accomplish in one day left me exhausted almost every night – I had a boss that expected 200% at all times and I was determined to not let him down. So how could it be that when I walked out the doors of the 4th District Court, and traded my heels in for flats, that I could go an entire day without doing ANYTHING besides clean up bodily fluids. The baby. The puppy. The baby and the puppy together. This was my life now. Brushing my teeth became optional, due to the amount of time it took to feed and burp and clean up and diaper and start all over again. So there were days when I ached to be Justice Girl again. When I would beg the gods to switch the screaming toddler for a screaming inmate – at least the inmate could be hauled away and put back in a cell.

This blog is a chronicle of such an essential, important change in my life. And yet…I’ve now reached a point where I’ve been a stay at home mom longer than I had been Justice Girl. I have worked since I was 15, but Justice Girl was the highlight – the proof that despite the poor decisions I made in life that reduced me to forever being a secretary despite the position never once occurring to me as something I wanted in life – that I was truly good at something. As mundane as it could be, as stressful as it was – I was good at it, and I accepted that – a task harder than any other. So I defined myself by it however inane it may sound to do so. And now I can no longer do that. I am many things, but I am no longer Justice Girl. She is a proud moment in my life, and will always be, but she is no longer how I define myself.

There has been a major shift in my life recently – causing my retreat from this space. I’ve had traumatic events induce a change of head and heart that has turned my entire life upside down and in turn has affected everything I do and everyone around me. At the moment I am feeling fairly lost and unsure. But there are things that are bringing glimpses of hope and sightings of paths that may be rocky and uphill, but will lead me out of this. Most importantly, those sightings are coming from the presence of the hand of my husband, entwined in mine, showing me the meaning of a partner – someone who is there to walk beside you and pull you up when you need it, even if you can’t bring yourself to ask for the help. They are coming in the form of supportive family and friends. They are coming in the form of therapy and a lot of hard realizations that I have tried to wish away or dismiss for years. And they are coming in the form of hugs from a Birdie and a Princess, a nuzzle from a dog that most of the time resembles a bear, the feeling of clay – molded by my hands, a sighting of a red bird on the feeder under the cherry tree, or a walk around my garden, watching life appear out of the cold, wet soil.

My dad has a pagan nickname for me. Brighid – the princess of Imbolc, where the arrival of Spring is celebrated. I’ve found it to be fitting in so many ways. I always thought that my favorite season was Fall, and I do love it, but winter is hard on me. I am taken away from the life that I crave – my garden, the warmth of the sun…when I see flowers beginning to appear out of defrosted soil, I can breathe again. At this point in my life, the breathing is still labored, but life is starting to appear. And the reason behind it is change.

Some of the changes I want to make in my life have been easily decided. Despite the pain surrounding them, they had to happen and are essential for me to get through this and become a better person. Some of the changes have not been easy decisions. One in particular I have fought tooth and nail, resisting, struggling, denying, but finally in the end – accepting. That particular change will be leaving this blog and letting Justice Girl rest as a part of my past. Despite my reluctant title of a writer (among the others I have allowed myself to own or have been pasted on by others) I can’t really find appropriate words to describe how painful this decision has been for me. And yet, I feel at peace with it. I am striving to be a new, better person and that means I need to find new ways to define myself.

That being said – with pain, and heartache – but said, nonetheless – I can not stop writing. However poor my grammar, or silly my stories, or small my audience, I am a writer. And just as I moved from paper to the web, 5 years ago, I will be moving from this loved space to another. I don’t know what is ahead of me in terms of chronicling my life. My writing has changed over the years because I have changed, and this moment in my life is creating change bigger than I had ever anticipated. The only thing I know for sure is that the sound of a keyboard or the scratch of a pen on paper will forever be soothing to me, and I refuse to let go of the things I am sure of.

I will miss you, Justice Girl. You taught me that I could be proud of my work and confident in my abilities. Lessons I will be clinging to as I look for those glimmers of hope. You have been my therapy through countless screaming tantrums from adorable babies, and a way to share my endless love and pride of those same babies (when not screaming).  We’ve chronicled adventures together as big as moving across the country to vacations to capturing fire-flies. I’ve come out of my shell and talked about important things, and shared very un-important things here as well, knowing they would make someone else smile or laugh…which, after all, is pretty important. Most of all, you’ve taught me that I have a voice – a voice that deserves to be heard, even if few are listening. A voice that has changed and grown and will continue to do so. I thank you from the bottom of my heart. Now go – there is no time to waste – crime is rampant and the world is begging for a hero. Love, -B.

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A Very Zombie Christmas

So much work goes in to one day – there are many times where I feel like it’s not worth it. Christmas morning is not one of them.

This year we were again able to sleep in (a huge advantage to having small kids who tend to sleep for 12 hours), and in fact, had to wake Ella up when I started getting ancy. She was a little more subdued than I thought she’d be, but loved everything. Sophie wasn’t so much interested in the presents as first as she was the candy – that will teach us to leave the stockings till the end – but did lots of hugging of toys and nodding her head fervently when asked if she liked something. Tom spoiled me rotten, and I think he was happily surprised with his gifts.

It was a great day filled with mounds of wrapping paper, candy for breakfast, lounging in pajamas, and of course – zombies. Oh yes, this was a zombie-filled holiday for us – something I never thought I’d say. Ella made Santa a Zombie Dorothy cookie (“because he will think it’s cool, Mommy – I know he knows how I talk about zombies every day”), she got two zombie dolls (one – a Zombie Dorothy by Auntie Kari that is possibly the coolest thing ever) and a zombie calender.

So from our un-dead house to yours – Merry Christmas!

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Off To See The Wizard

Ella has been talking about this Halloween since – oh…5 minutes after trick-or-treating last year. I finally started talking to her seriously about costumes at the beginning of September. I wanted her to be a peacock. She wanted to be a witch. Fine – so a few days later it was settled that we would be a coven of witches. With my JoAnn’s coupon in hand, I bought fabric, and after patiently waiting for the $1 pattern sale, had everything I needed to get sewing.

I think it was about two days after the supplies were gathered that I happened to put my hair into two braids. Ella looked at me and said, “Momma! You have Dorothy braids!” I guessed that yes, I did have Dorothy braids, and accommodated her wish to have her hair done the same way. All of a sudden, she was Dorothy. We had to call her Dorothy, or she wouldn’t answer, and she insisted her hair be in braids every. single. day.

I’m going to let you draw your own conclusion as to what happened to our coven of witches. She did inform me that I could most certainly (yes, those were her exact words) be the Wicked Witch. Sophie could be the good witch. What about the fabric I bought? We’ll just get more, Mom. Awesome. So helpful.

Of course I gave in. She’s been obsessed with The Wizard of Oz ever since we saw the play this Spring, and the fascination didn’t appear to be fading any time soon. We even finally rented the movie (which – it should be noted – was completely different from the play, which was based on the book – silver shoes, no singing, etc.) because there’s nothing like feeding a frenzy.

I definitely put the most effort into Ella’s costume. Sophie got a skirt, a wand, and a crown made – but no intense sewing – there was no way I was attempting those poofy sleeves from the movie. I did an elastic waist skirt for myself , out of the fabric we had purchased for the coven, and used store-bought items to finish it all off. Ella though – she had some red shoes already (I wasn’t invested enough in the look to go out and buy a separate, sparkly pair) and tights and a white turtle-neck – but she needed The Dress, and of course, a Toto.

I’m not confident enough to wing anything past an elastic-waist skirt, so I waited again for the pattern sale and picked up the appropriate look, knowing I could stick to just the jumper and ignore the shirt that looked way too complicated. Oh. Except there was this problem – the people who make patterns are NOT RIGHT IN THE HEAD. The amount of fabric they wanted me to use for the skirt would have been too big for me. Seriously.

So I used the piece for the top, and that was it. The rest was me winging it. Including lining it, because man was that fabric cheap! I guess the $3/yd  price tag should have clued me in to the quality. Winging it, at least for me, tends to involve a lot of cursing and a lot of seam-ripping. I’d say it was kept to about a Medium level – so all in all, not bad. Of course, because of the way I sewed the ribbon on (the main source of the cursing and seam ripping) this baby is TIGHT. There’s no way it will fit her next year, because it is s-n-u-g. But man, is it cute.

 

 

I had a hell of a time finding a Toto. I finally ended up at the ghetto Toys-R-Us (it’s across the street from the prison) searching in the bins for any black dog, no matter what breed. And thank you, President Obama – there was a Webkinz Portuguese Water Dog. All because of Bo, the First Dog. Of course I had to get it (along with a mini version for Sophie). He’s party-colored (black and white) but I thought it was very appropriate that she have a Portie in her basket.

Maybe it’s because I miss my own Portie so much, or maybe it’s my need to have more projects on my plate than I can handle, but I went ahead and took the time to make him a blanket and embroider an ID tag.

 

Glinda was more than happy to guide Dorothy down the…um…gray-paved-road.

 

 

Glinda’s costume may have been less involved (although – that fabric had little rhinestones on it and was a bugger to sew), but we managed to lose Ella’s old pumpkin bucket that was to be Sophie’s for trick-or-treating. So I had to make something. And since she loves kitties, I figured a kitty-bucket would be perfect.

 

She liked it.

 

Oh – and then there was the witch…

Yeah. Tom made me pose like that.

The girls weren’t really interested in posing…they were much more interested in finding the Wizard candy. So off we went…

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For the past 10 years or so, I’ve always had a dream in the back of my mind that I would love to own my own shop. It would be dedicated to those finishing touches – decor, practical and very impractical (but fantastic enough you’d want it anyway). Specifically? Anything. Anything I felt like making that I thought other people would enjoy: wreaths, ornaments, frames, decorated furniture, jewelry, clothing, art – anything.

My friend Lori was a co-dreamer almost from the beginning, and we had incredibly elaborate conversations about where the shop would be, what it would look like, and the contents. But of course, owning your own business requires a huge leap that we were never in a place to take – or willing to accept the risk, I guess. I’ve done a few things to fill that need for creating – I participated in a “local artist” craft fair, with my sister Kari and my mom, for a couple of years, but it was two months of preparation for two days of potential sales. And of course I subject my family to be the guinea pigs for whatever new thing has inspired me that month. So much so that I’m sure they sometimes wish I’d just go for gift certificates instead. So I do manage to get my crafty urges out in one way or the other, but it’s not exactly my dream of making money doing something I love.

I heard about the online store, Etsy, about a year ago. It’s a website dedicated to handmade items, allowing artists and craft-addicts to sell their wares, similar to an eBay style shop, but at set prices instead of bids. I checked it out the first time I heard the name, and was pleasantly surprised at how easy and cheap it is to set up your own shop. And every month or so, I would get a brilliant product idea – but I either never followed through, or I would check for similar items and find that oh, only 300 or so other people were doing the exact same “original” idea. So it remained in the background of my mind like a CNN crawl, always there, but never the main focus.

And then I was having a conversation with my brother-in-law, a few weeks ago, about his first big step to start selling his baked goods. I was joking with him that I really wanted to sell some things on Etsy, and I was projecting my possible profits to be in the 10’s of dollars. His response? You have to start somewhere.

So I did it. I started my own Etsy shop. Seriously. I finally put the effort forth and got a very small inventory together (which will grow a little bit in the coming week, but not by much), took pictures, figured out prices, drew my own logo (thank you very much), and now it exists. And there is a very good possibility that not one thing will sell and my family will be receiving these specific items as Christmas presents (which is why none of you are allowed to buy anything just to make me feel good). But at least I will have attempted to do something I’ve only thought about for 10 YEARS! It’s about time.

http://birdeeandme.etsy.com

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Usually when I feed Ella in the living room we turn on a kids show to keep her entertained. I found an episode of Backyardigans on Tivo but when it started to play it turned out to be Yo Gabba Gabba instead. Ella and I were both mesmerized, as was Tom after I called him in to witness the awesomeness of this show.

If you’ve never seen it before, it’s basically a guy (wearing quite the outfit) who has a ghettoblaster that contains five toy monsters that come to life when he sets them down on a table with cardboard backgrounds. There’s no way I can really describe it accurately so here are a couple of visual aids:

Yo Gabba Gabba

Gabba Gabba

At first, Tom and I were just dumbfounded. I believe Tom’s exact words were, “It must be a Canadian show.” My thoughts exactly babe. Once they sang the first song we turned to confused. The monsters were all giving each other “high fives” but none of them have five fingers so Tom said it was misleading. The next song though was about how fun it is putting your toys away and hey, I’m totally down with that. It was the last song though that made us believers. The monsters were having a dance party when the green one knocked the robot one down. The result? A song called “Keep Your Hands To Yourself.” The music was fun and catchy and the lyrics were right to the point: “When you play with your friends keep your hands to yourself unless it’s for hugs or high fives. Everybody needs their own space!”

Ella was totally into the whole show and even gave me a high five at the end of it. Tom and I are sold. I mean, any show that teaches good behavior and also includes a dance sequence where a bumby orange monster does The Sprinkler deserves to be added to the Tivo list permanently.

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