Friday, May 9, 2014

Pregnant Pauses #2: Manicure Tips

Infertility offers unique struggles to all who endure it. Pregnant Pauses is a series of posts to help parents-in-waiting find comfort and hope in knowing others understand and endure, too.

The pregnancy test was negative. Again.  So I wiped away the tears and forced myself to apply lipstick and mascara.  The tune to “I am Woman” played in my head as I decided to reward myself for simply being a girl—no matter what my inability to conceive might communicate.  And what could be more of a feminine affirmation than getting a pedicure?
After years of having my life scheduled and charted for doctors’ perusal, I felt like a diva strolling to a salon without an appointment.  I walked into the shop to see rows of people in massage chairs.  Beautiful women with sleek hair and Asian eyes lounged beneath hazy lights, waiting for customers.
A lady approached me with unfettered friendliness. “Hi, I’m Kayla.”  She looked down at the vibrant polish in my hand. “Oh, you pick good culah.”  She escorted me to a chair where my back was massaged and my feet rested in warm, swirling pools of comfort. 
Relaxation started to close my eyes, but Kayla jarred me into reality. “Where you from? I from Tennessee.”
I raised an eyebrow.  “Really?”
She nodded so enthusiastically I worried she might get whiplash. “My whooooole life.”
“Um, yeah, I could tell the accent wasn’t from around here.”          
She smiled. “I from Nabil.”
“Naaabville.” And she mimed playing a guitar.
“Oh! Nashville,” I said, relieved she liked charades.
I nestled into my chair. The massage, the pedicure, the cheer was not so bad. The indulgence distracted me from that aching, hollow sensation trying to take hold of my being.
Then Kayla abruptly changed to an inevitable subject. “You got kids?”      
“No.” I swallowed hard, the tune of “I am woman” still playing in my head. “Not yet.”
She paused in her work.  “Why not you got kids?”
My mind screamed, “Because I’m barren and not a real woman!” Instead, I said, “It just hasn’t happened yet.”
When she looked up, my stomach tightened as it does when I sense someone’s pity.  I tried to sit a little taller so that she wouldn’t sense my depression. I shrugged and attempted what I hoped was a Hey-what-can-you-do? sort of grin.
Kayla nodded. “I got baby 6 weeks old. His daddy not lub him.” She squished her face and bounced her head from side to side.  “He cry. I think ‘cause he know.” She placed a fingernail file to her forehead and nods. “He know his daddy don’t lub him.” She shrugged. “I not want him at first eeder. I want ‘bortion. But I lub him now. It okay.”
My horror must have shown because she quickly patted my hand.  “You get baby.”  Her eyes lit up. “You try tricks?  There lots of tricks.”
“We’ve tried more tricks than the Kama Sutra. We even added a few doctors and a lot of money just for kicks.”
Her eyes widened. “You try tricks then.  Maybe it happen when you not expect it.”
She gathered her things and pointed to the massage chair.  “You no worry. Stay long as you like. No one bodder you here.”
Outside the window, a little girl with baby doll curls and chubby cheeks wailed, impressing me with her volume until it became annoying.  Her mother, looking miserable, alternately placated and scolded the child.  Gazing through the window was as close as the mom was getting to pampering any time soon.
Sighing, I clicked my chair remote for another session of massage and settled in. 

Mother's Day is a difficult time for infertile couples. This weekend, celebrate the beautiful gift of motherhood. However, please do not put someone on the spot and ask when she will be a mom or have another child.  She may be wondering the same thing.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Friday Favorite: Growing Lollipops

I'm not much of a gardener, but even I didn't mess this one up.

Plant jelly beans the day before Easter.

And just look at what blooms on Easter morning!

Monday, April 14, 2014

My Writing Process Blog Tour

Sunshine makes me want to go on vacation.  (Not that there's any sunshine today, but there was last week.) So, with the sun shining, I agreed when Kristin Nador (of Kristin Nador Writes Anywhere)  invited me along on her My Writing Process Blog Tour.  

Hey, I’ll take any vacation—even a virtual one.  Would you like to join me?

Taking a break at a writing retreat
Before going on a trip, there’s always paperwork. So, here's where I earn it.

What am I working on?

Picture books.  I've written a couple of novels and was well into another, when I decided to take a detour. It feels good to travel off the beaten path for a change.

How does my work differ from other of its genre? 

Whether it's novels or picture books, I like to write about possibilities in a world where what you think you see isn't always what you get. I play with the idea of "Okay, it's not real, but why not...are you sure?"

Why do I write what I do?

I write about "the magic of everyday life" on my blog. Most of my YA work has fantastical elements with hints of magic in our regular world, which lends itself nicely to picture books. Recently, I decided to practice the “write what you know” adage.  We devour picture books in this house.  We have stacks and shelves of them. In my former life as a high school teacher, I felt that I had never really left high school. Now,  I'm living and breathing picture books.  Everywhere I turn, I see magical possibilities through the sparkling enthusiasm of my children as well as their intense, face covering drama.  Children see the world as a magical place full of possibilities, and I like the idea we share that perspective. I enjoy parallel worlds where something isn't quite what it seems.   That explains childhood pretty well.

I enjoy writing novels, but labyrinthine plot lines require large chunks of time from me.  With picture books, I can work on a single big idea. Writers go into the world to gather ideas and feed their creativity. I just have to listen to the kids' stream of consciousness chatter. I've heard of writers doing drugs to have creative injections. I have psychedelic creativity padding into my bedroom at 5:58 AM whispering, " Mom.  Mom.  I wanna tell you a story."

How does your writing process work? 

Give me tea (preferably one with bergamot), a baked good, and either a computer or journal, and I'll write. I envy people who churn out novels while chaos surrounds them. That's a challenge, but I'll take what I can get.   Still, a nice, three hour chunk is ideal. It allows me to revisit my most recent writing adventures, experience more and then review them. It's a nice vacation from life into my imaginary world. However, I usually get an hour.  I work best when I get time on a consistent basis so my brain can play with problems and possibilities for the characters before I return to the computer and write it down. I love that feeling of living my writing life in my head while I'm doing something mundane like folding laundry.

Thanks for your interest in my writing process. Mark your itinerary for next Monday when each of the following authors will tell you about her process.

Sonia Gensler is the award-winning author of THE REVENANT (2011) and THE DARK BETWEEN (2013), both from Alfred A. Knopf. She blogs a little about writing, but more often about reading, travel, TV and movies over at

Gayleen Rabakukk enjoys creating stories that explore the mysteries of days gone by, both real and imagined. Find her online at

Stephanie Clinton is a mommy blogger who writes about family, food, and all that goes with it (including the hard stuff) over at Hugs, Kisses, and Snot. She will also be featured in Oklahoma City's 2014 Listen to Your Mother Show.

Happy travels!

Friday, April 11, 2014

Friday Favorite: It's in the eye of the beholder

Me: (wiping at a smudge) What on earth is this yucky gunk on your face?
Alexandra: (batting her eyes) It's a beauty mark.
Placing sprinkles on bananas and peanut butter

She sleeps in a tiara, wears a tutu with sweatpants, and fights with her brother over whether her imaginary jewelry makes rainbows or not.

Perspective is a magical thing.  If one looks from the wrong angle, life can be pretty dirty and ugly. I want to borrow my daughter's viewpoint. Maybe she wears a lot of bandaids because she gets scraped up along the way, but she embraces her pretty bandages as accessories. If she can turn a chocolate covered scrape under her eye into a beauty mark, then what else can transform with the right attitude?

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Pregnant Pauses #1

Each time I attempt this series, my mind turns into marshmallow goo folding into itself. My thoughts become those wispy clouds that disappear on second glance, perhaps never consisting of any substance and existing only in my imagination.  My heart...well, my heart hurts because it doesn't want to remember.

I suppose it makes sense that my brain turns off when asked to recall our struggle with infertility.  It was an emotional experience in which I simultaneously battled my body and the cosmos. Answers, logic, and reason never applied.

"I don't think you can ever get pregnant," the doctors said.

"Genetic abnormality is the only explanation for the miscarriage," the doctors said.

"Circumstances were ideal for the transfer. We don't know why it didn't work," the doctors said.

Every menstrual period was an exclamation point on the end of our painful infertility sentence, rudely interrupting our hope.

Like many couples, we kept the secret for a long time, but last year, I shared it with anyone who was interested. You can click the video below to watch Step Right Up to the Game of Love.

Listen to Your Mother OKC

This February, on the LTYM blog, I committed to a monthly post about infertility so that other women will know they aren't alone.  This post is the first one.

I almost didn't follow through.  However,  three women in the last couple of months have reached out to me with their struggles.  After all that's happened, I still believe in signs. And I think these women were nudging me to be vocal for all of those who are searching the internet for someone else who might understand the crushing, painful, exhausting confusion of infertility.

My purpose is to give strength to those who are Parents-in-Waiting.  You are not alone.  Your story is unique. Each journey is your own.  However, the desire to count ten tiny, perfect fingers and ten tiny, perfect toes is a common one.  Check back with me each month as I share part of my journey.  I'll be brave for you because I know you are mustering bravery, too.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Divergent: Let them eat cake!


Divergent's release date has been on my calendar for months. It was a blockbuster at the box office this weekend.  I'll watch it again. I'll probably watch Insurgent on opening weekend, too.

 Unfortunately, much of the movie was as insipid as this poster.

1.  Sunrise to indicate dawning of a new day over a destroyed city
2.  Protagonist walking an "uphill climb" to get to that "new day"
3.  Hot love interest staring at her bum (yes, I realize that their backs are to each other, but it completely looks like he's staring at her bootie.)

Yeah, yeah, I get what it's all about.


I sighed a lot during this movie.  I've read the book as many times as I've read Hunger Games and Pride and Prejudice. It has elements I really enjoy. I had high expectations.


Unfortunately, some of the reasons I like the book were completely neutered.

Plot Points

Where was the chocolate cake? What's a good book without a food that makes you think of it?  In taking away the chocolate cake the Dauntless are known for, some of the richness of the story was destroyed. Instead, they focused on the whole hamburger thing.  Without a bun.  Really? Chocolate cake is so much more telling of Dauntless than a meat patty.

Where was the fear?  Yes, lots of scenes remained that intimidated people who were scared of heights. But what about the violent scenes that showed so much about the dangerous world they lived in and a person's character under pressure? What about Peter?  No cloak and dagger/eye-gouging stuff?  Was Edward still hanging out with them--both eyes intact?  How are they going to get around him in future movies? They touched on Al's fear of being excluded and how he responded to his fear. I understand why they cut his crush on Tris and her rejection of him, but I still missed that plot point.  What about when Tris let Christina take the flag as a win because she felt she was on shaky ground with their friendship? The film only hinted about the relationship with Will and Christina, so the tension between Christina and Tris is minimal for the next installment. What about the fear scene with Marcus Eaton and Four?  I don't want to see a man beat his child, but I did want to see Tris try to help him through that fear and the others.  There was a bonding in the book when they traveled through Four's fear landscape that I missed in the movie. And on that note...

Where was the chemistry?  Even though Tris was supposed to be this scrawny, child-like, not-so-pretty girl, the book made us see her as Four did. Strong, brave, sexy.  So many of the cute lines and moments from the book were deleted for the movie. Four is totally hot in the movie. Don't get me wrong.  Still, his vulnerability and need for Tris was missing.  Furthermore, why in the hell did they make her fear of being close to Four turn into a rape scene?  A perfectly sweet scene was transformed into a menacing and twisted one.  In the book, there was a hint of sexual groping in her assault when Al and the others tried to toss her into the pit, but that aspect was removed from the film. If some of the violence was left out to protect young audiences, I think adding a rape scene with a sweetheart might do more damage to influence young viewers than showing a mother getting riddled with bullets to protect her child.

Where were the lies?  Although the movie managed to heavily stress some of the themes through imagery--birds/flying/freedom and reflections/seeing true self--it mostly skipped over the duplicitous nature of human beings. Sure, Jeanine talks about human nature and we get she's a big ol' liar, but all of the bits in the book about the protagonist's own proclivity toward dishonesty (she did test as Erudite, too, after all) were removed.   She said in the book, "I couldn't be Candor. I lie too easily." Her duplicity is a running plot line through the trilogy, and its absence weakens her character.


When I saw the casting I was a little nervous.  The movie proved my anxiety was for good reason.

Shailene Woodley...bless her heart.  She did her best, but she is no Tris.  It's not her fault. It's casting. (Note: April 6, 2014: I learned she's cast as Hazel in The Fault in Our Stars and think she is PERFECT for this role. I"m very excited to see her in that movie.) Check out this list of some people's choices.   Yes, I'm being completely superficial, but isn't seeing the story the point of taking a book and making a movie? At times, Woodley's big eyes--that were supposed to be blue like most of the other Abnegation--pulled me in and I wanted to root for her. But she just looks too old (meaning 19? versus 16) and too solid. She's supposed to be scrawny, pale, blond, not especially pretty, but interesting.  She claims to look like a child.   Even Four tells her she doesn't have any muscle. It's not like he was saying she was fat. She gets her ass kicked easily because there's not much of her.

I have to remind myself that this is a movie and not a book. They take liberties to tell a similar story but not the same one.

They achieved success with a lot of casting choices.

Four was right on target. (After all, Theo James caused Mary all sorts of trouble as the Turkish gentleman in Downton Abbey, and he possesses the sexiness to pull off the male love interest.)

Tony Goldwyn and Ashley Judd as Andrew and Natalie Prior were good. I couldn't have asked for better.  I believed them. So many relationships were removed in the film. (I get it. They have to cut for time.) I wish the visitation day would have been kept. It's so cool how she connects with her mother as she watches her in the halls of Dauntless. Of course, if that scene were included, though, they'd have to bring back the chocolate cake. After all, before Natalie left she told Tris, " Have a piece of cake for me, all right? The chocolate. It's delicious."

Christina got away with being smaller than Tris because she captured so much of her spirit.

Kate Winslet rocked Jeanine Matthews.  I look forward to seeing her again in the next film.

Side note: Did anyone else think they were trying awfully hard to make Jeanine look a little too much like Hillary Clinton? I know I know I know... Hollywood never gets political.

All of that being said, I will probably watch it again.  Even if it's just to see this part:

I'll just bake my own chocolate cake.

What about you?  What are your thoughts on the movie? The book?