Category Archives: Family

The Infertility List Blog

Let’s set the record straight. I’m not a psychologist with years worth of research in my portfolio. I’m not a doctor who knows big words about specific sections of the brain and the hormones that they squirt into the body. I’m not a fertility specialist who can explain to you the complexities of coping with the emotional baggage that comes with having broken lady parts.

But I am an infertile woman living in the 21st century. And I’m also a blogger. So that gives me all the necessary tools to present you with a list of 10 things everyone (especially my friends and family) should know about infertility.

10 Things This Infertile Wants You (The Fertile Ones) To Know

1. Birth announcements don’t come in bouts of 3.
Nay. In fact, they come in groups of a hundred. Sometimes more. In fact, in less than a 2 week time span, practically everyone I knew–from best friends, to that child actor from the 80s, to the kid I used to babysit in the 8th grade–announced that they were expecting. Even the Prince of Friggin’ England was all like, “Heeey yoooou guuuuys….I’m gonna be a baby daddy!”

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You should be forewarned that when this happens you will find me in holey pajama pants, lying on my bathroom floor, sobbing into the bathmat. Don’t worry–I’ll find my happy for you eventually. It’s just going to take some time to pick up the shrapnel from the baby bomb that just hit my house. (It’s not as cute as it sounds.)

2. Let’s just put it out there–Friends with Kids, We Are Jealous Of You.
It’s nothing personal. But when we come to your house to visit and accidentally step on a Lego, we’re jealous. When we meet you for dinner and you’re a few minutes late because you had a diaper blowout, we’re jealous. When we call you up and can’t really hear what you’re saying over the sound of baby giggles in the background, we’re jealous. When you post a picture of your darling child in over-sized sunglasses and a beer box on his head, we’re jealous. It doesn’t mean we love you or your pint-size mini me any less. It just means that we see what awesomeness you have in your life, and we want it for us, too.

3. We really don’t need to hear about the conventional methods anymore.
I know you mean well when you gently remind us that the best way to get pregnant is to stop thinking about it/take your temperature/get drunk/elevate your hips after sex. Believe me–I’m more flexible than I look.

See?

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The problem with us is mechanical, not creativity. (wink wink) So there’s really no need to reenact the Kama Sutra to show me just how you got knocked up. (Although, if you really want to, go ahead. Just be forewarned that I will take pictures. I’m always looking for good blog fodder.)

In this same vein, please don’t make weird suggestions about other, less traditional ways to procreate. I want to have Brian’s baby. Not his brother’s, not his uncle’s, and not his third-cousin-twice-removed’s. Sorry. That’s just weird and creepy.

4. At some point in our relationship, I will cry.
I’m a big ol’ fat cry baby about most things, anyway. But this particular thing? I have no control over my emotions. The truth is–I’m grieving. That’s really what infertility is–grieving the life of the child you always imagined but will never have. It sucks. It’s really hard. And I cope by crying.

A lot.

So inevitably, we will be cheerfully chatting about that catty thing someone said at the party, and something will trigger that “OMG I DON’T HAVE OFFSPRING” button in my brain, and I’ll be sobbing all over you before you can grab the stray tissue at the bottom of your purse. I apologize in advance.

5. I use humor as a defense mechanism.
If this blog isn’t proof of that, then let me explain.

Your adorable toddler will run up to me and give me a big kiss. I will make an inappropriate joke about my ovary exploding. Everyone will laugh.

You’ll ask me if I’m available to take photographs at your child’s birthday party. I’ll laugh too loudly and make a joke about always being free since I don’t have a child of my own to throw parties for. No one will laugh.

I’ll be writing a semi-serious blog post about the trauma of infertility, and I’ll throw up a stupid picture of myself Photoshopped to look like a clown.

Clown

With me now?

6. Please don’t say, “You should adopt!”
You’re totally right. A family IS about love, not blood. There ARE lots of kids in the world who need loving homes. We totally agree with you. That doesn’t mean we’re ready, yet. It also probably means we’ve still haven’t worked up the courage to rob a bank, yet. Cuz that’s shit’s expensive, yo.

7. We totally still want to be friends with you, even though you are fertile.
It’s ok. We don’t begrudge you your fully functional baby-making parts. Mostly. So don’t worry that bringing your kids over is an inconvenience. Don’t stop inviting us to birthday parties and baby showers (although sometimes I might not come.) Don’t apologize when your kid squeals loudly or chases my cat or accidentally scribbles on my kitchen table. We love you, and your screaming toddler. I’ve even been known to miss a football game or two just to hang out with you guys. Now THAT’S love.

8. Sometimes, we need to hang out with our “non-kid” friends, though.
It has nothing to do with you. It has everything to do with our desire to drink copious amounts of alcohol, talk about grown-up type things, and say curse words often and loudly.

margarita ole
*Drool.*

I know you can carry on conversations about stuff other than your kids. (There’s a reason we’re friends. You are a super-cool cat with tons of interesting things to talk about. Am I right??) I also know that you want that giant margarita right there just as much as I do. But I also know it’s harder for you to leave the kids out of conversation, because they are your life, as they should be. No guilt trips here, lady.

It’s just this: sometimes it’s easier for us to be around people who don’t have that problem, and who aren’t so hyper-aware that something they say about their child could potentially send me into the ugly cry. It lets me get my drink on with the knowledge that I can be a happy drunk instead of the weird drunk who’s walking around the party blurting out random child-rearing facts that I probably shouldn’t know.

9. Imma spoil yo’ babies.
When they fall down at my house, I’m going to kiss their boo boo and give them a cookie. When it’s their birthday, I’m going to video myself singing to them and email it to you. When I come over to visit, don’t be surprised if I come bearing little gifts of my adoration for your progeny.

There are two parts to this: 1) I do it because I love your kid. He/She is adorable, and I just want to squish them regularly. Kudos, Mom and Dad, ya did good. And 2) I do it because it helps me fill a void. I don’t have my own child to sing to or bake for, so I’m gonna do it for your child.

Don’t worry, they’ll pay you back by pitching a fit at bedtime because they just want to go to Auntie Abby’s house and play.

cooler than you

You’re welcome.

10. We will be fine.
I know you’re concerned, especially because I’ve been in a constant state of funk since we got the official word in June that we won’t be able to join you in the land of Parenthood. (At least not without a crap load of cheddar and a miracle to rival the parting of the Red Sea.) If I’m honest with you, and with myself, I don’t know how long this part of the process takes. We’re sad, and we will probably always be sad. But even though I don’t have working ovaries, and even though Brian doesn’t have the Michael Phelps of sperm, we still have each other. And that, friends, is the really great news.

*It took me a really long time to publish this blog. Do you have any idea how hard it is to make something like infertility even remotely funny?? It’s really, really hard. So don’t feel like you need to send me an email or comment apologizing if you think you’ve possibly done or said one of the things above. Because you probably have. Because everyone has. And it’s totally OK. The important thing is that I know that you care. There’s not really anything anyone can say to make it better, but knowing I have friends in my corner who are cheering for me and who only want me to be happy makes bearing this cross a little easier. I love you–each and every one. And I love your stinkin’ babies, too.

Subconscious Awesomeness

I’m about to tell you two totally unrelated stories. You’ll probably be confused, but if you just stick with me to the end, it’ll all be worth it. I promise.

Story 1: Years ago, Jenna (college roommate, BFF, and most wonderful person, ever) taught me how to crochet. We would sit in her room, reruns of “Angel” playing in the background, and she would patiently explain the mechanics of single-stitch crochet.

The first thing I ever made, under her watchful eye, was a long, thin scarf that mimicked the colors of the Caribbean. And guess who still has said scarf?

scarf

It rarely gets cold enough for me to wear winter gear around here, but when it dips into the 40s, I always scramble to find my Jenna Scarf so I can don it before it’s seventy-five degrees again. And while I never mastered anything more difficult in the crochet world than plain ol’ single stitch, I still use that skill to this day. I’ve made countless afghans and scarves for friends and family over the years, and I can still hear Jenna’s voice in my ear, guiding me and my hook along.

Story 2: A few years ago, Brian’s Aunt Tina (fellow Broadway fan, Whovian, and all around coolest chick on the planet) came to visit, and she was wearing the loveliest pair of earrings I’d ever seen. I made that very comment to her, and she promptly removed them from her ears and handed them to me. I was speechless. They are still, to this day, my favorite pair of earrings. Pink, sparkly, dichroic glass–they make me happy every time I slide them into my ears.

scarf 2

Brian and I were moving some furniture around in the bedroom about a month ago, and I clumsily knocked over my earring tree. As I carefully placed each pair back where they belonged, I realized with dismay that one of my pink Tina Earrings was missing.

I. Was. Devastated.

We searched the entirety of the bedroom, crawling around on our hands and knees, shining the flashlight into all the dark corners, and after a couple of hours, finally gave up. Still, every day I would peek behind the bookcase, or run my toes under the dresser, hoping beyond hope that I would find my lost earring.

Here’s where it all comes together. Last night, I had a vivid dream that I was searching for something–I don’t remember what, only that there was a sense of urgency involved. It was cold, and I wore my Jenna scarf tucked snugly around my neck. And in the dream, I opened a drawer to find a tarnished gold jewelry box. When I opened it, there were my Tina Earrings. I picked them up, put them on, and continued the search for the now-forgotten holy grail.

This morning, as I was getting dressed for work, I noticed that my Jenna Scarf had fallen from her hanger and was laying in a pool on my closet floor. Unwilling to leave it to yarn-gnawing cats, I picked it up. As I examined it for chewed edges or loose knots, I noticed a glimmer of something sparkly peeking out from the fringe. There, just as in the dream, was my missing earring.

I stood there holding it for a moment, memories of the dream flooding back to me. Then I whooped with excitement and dashed to the living room to tell Brian all about it. He looked at me with wide eyes and said, “Wow. You’re psychic.”

fortuneteller

I hope so. The outfits are bitchin’.

Today Is A Special Day…

Today is my Mom’s birthday.

Mom 1

If I could, I’d make all her birthday wishes come true. I’d buy her a beautiful house–one that sits right on the beach, so she can wake up to sunshine and sand and surf every single day for the rest of her life.

Mom 2

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I’d shower her with the two things she loves the most: chocolate and puppies.

Mom 3

(Although very carefully, so the puppies couldn’t eat the chocolate. That’s bad for them.)

I wouldn’t just give her a bouquet of flowers. I’d give her an entire FIELD of flowers–each happy petal meant to make her smile.

mom 4

If I could grant wishes, I’d give her everything her heart desires, even those things that are impossible. And I wish I could. I really really wish I could.

I hope she’ll be happy with a big hug, instead.

I love you, Mom! I know today won’t be as bright and shiny as it should be, but I’ll still be celebrating your life today, and every day. XO

Childhood Memories: Monkey Edition

You guys remember the game “Barrel O’ Monkeys,” right?

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If not, I can’t really help you on the real rules of said game. But I’m pretty sure that every child of the 80s had this little gem tucked away. At least, I know my brother did.

One boring, rainy, summer morning, I was whiling away the hours in my hot-pink bedroom, jamming to the New Kids on the Block, and wishing the rain would let up so I could go outside and play. Suddenly, my three-year-old little brother came into my room, looking for someone to entertain him.

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And he had with him that holy grail of toys—the Barrel o’ Monkeys.

We may or may not have tried to figure out how the game was supposed to really work. I’m fuzzy on the details. All I know is that at some point during our play time, I thought it would be super-nifty to see what would happen if we hung the monkeys from my ceiling fan, then turned it on.

(I had an odd relationship with my ceiling fan growing up. Don’t ask me why.)

Anyhow, it was my job to attach strings of chimps from the paddles of the fan (because it was dangerous and exhilarating. Plus, I was the only one who could reach.) Meanwhile, it was Adam’s job to wait for my signal, then turn on the fan when my fingers were clear.

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The fan would start spinning, slowly, and the little plastic simians would hang tight, inching slowly toward the very tip of the blade.

“Fastah, Seesy, Fastah!” the over-excited toddler would exclaim.

And so I’d pull the chain, increasing the fan’s speed to high.

Like confetti at a strip club, the monkeys went flying across every surface of my bedroom. And my little brother clapped his hands, stomped his chubby little legs, and begged for more.

When you force children to stay inside during a summer storm, things are bound to happen. One thing led to another, and before you knew it, the Barrel o’ Monkeys weren’t our only test subjects.

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The more toys we added to the game, the funnier it became. Ninja Turtles, Care Bears, Magical Princess Barbie—no one was safe. We played and played for HOURS…loading up the fan, turning on the fan, laughing hysterically as the contents of our toy boxes zoomed across the room, cleaning up the carnage, starting the whole process over again.

Eventually, the rain stopped. Mom called us downstairs for lunch. And the game was forgotten when we were allowed to go outside. Stomping in mud puddles and pretending to be a backup dancer for the New Kids won out over our brand new game.

Until the next thunderstorm. Then all bets were off.

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And today? If one of us mentions Barrel O’ Monkeys, we both collapse into fits of laughter. Why? Because it was the best Brother-Sister-Rainy-Day-Game, EVER.

Celebrating Mom

Tomorrow is Mother’s Day.

I love getting together with my family and celebrating the woman who gave me life. I spend weeks thinking about and planning a gift that I hope will make her smile. I look forward to preparing her favorite meal (chicken piccata) and her favorite dessert (pineapple upside-down cake). My dad, brother, and I will sit around the dinner table, sharing our favorite stories about Mom–from the time she barricaded my teenage brother into his room so he’d stop sneaking out, to her reaction when I accidentally yanked the ceiling fan down with my Get in Shape girl ribbon. We’ll remember how she used to put little notes in our lunch boxes, or draw hearts in the peanut butter of our open faced sandwiches, just to remind us of how much she loved us.

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I remember being in grade school leading up to Mother’s Day. We would spend a week’s worth of craft time coming up with clever gifts for Mom. Hand prints in clay, crooked flowers painted with care, handmade coupon booklets filled with all the chores we’d do, cards with long declarations of love written with backwards “E’s” and adorable stick people. I was always so excited to give my mother these treasures. And to her credit–she still has most of them. I bought her a wooden painted tulip one year with my “Good Citizen” tokens at school, and though it’s been broken and super-glued back together a hundred times, it still takes a place of honor in her curio cabinet, right next to the ceramic dog my brother bought her at the Dollar Tree when he was four.

She’s awesome like that.

I also remember skipping through the meadow next to our house, feet bare, bees buzzing in the spring sunshine, carefully plucking wildflowers for Mom. I would keep picking until I had an entire fistful of flowers–yellow and white and green and purple–and then I sneak into the house, bouquet clutched behind my back. She always lit up when I handed her those flowers. She would fuss over them and take them to the kitchen, putting them in a tiny glass vase she kept on the windowsill for just such occasions. It wasn’t until I was much older that I realized I’d been giving her handfuls of weeds. But she kept them. Every single time.

Click for Source

Click for Source

My childhood was as close to perfect as you can get. I have my parents to thank for that. And as an adult I realize, now more than ever, that I have so much to be grateful for, and so much to celebrate. I adore my Mom, and she knows it.

And yet, when the greeting cards begin to appear, and the signs in Hallmark start reminding you to “Show Mom How Much You Care,” I can’t help but feel a little tug in my gut that reminds me that those hand prints in clay, those little gifts of gratitude, aren’t anywhere in my foreseeable future. That despite the fact that I feel the name “Mama” carved into my heart, that there’s no one here, yet, to use that name for me. I will miss the flowers, the sticky kisses, the breakfasts in bed, the hastily thrown-together construction paper cards that so many mothers will experience tomorrow.

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I don’t resent them their celebrations. They deserve to be celebrated. And I will be celebrating my own mother with them. I will shower her with gifts and food and love and attention. I will thank her for the many sacrifices she has made so that my life could be what is has been. I will hug her close and tell her that I love her. And I will do everything in my power to make her smile tomorrow, on Mother’s Day.

After the day of celebrating is done, I will come home and climb into bed with my husband. I will whisper into the night a prayer that one day, I’ll get to experience a day like today. And I will dream of round cheeks and tiny toes and wilting dandelions clutched in chubby fingers, just for me.

How A Weekend Sale At the Mall Made Me Feel Like A Granny

With the holidays comes family, and with family comes after-Christmas-sales.

Well, at least with our family.

And so, a day or two after Christmas, I took Brian’s thirteen-year-old cousin, Jenny, shopping.

To say it’s been a long time since I shopped in a mall is an understatement. I haven’t really set foot in any store (other than department stores, craft stores, and Old Navy) since I was in high school. And clearly, shopping for teenage girls is much different now than it was back in the dark ages, when the dinosaurs roamed the earth. (I.E. 1993).

Anyhoo, Jenny was out to spend some of the Christmas money burning a hole in her pocket, and I was looking forward to coming off as hip, fashion savvy, and fun. Our destination?

Hollister.

The first thing I noticed as we entered the hallowed halls of this teenage fashion mecca was a giant poster of a half-naked boy. Yes, boy. Because I don’t think he’s old enough to vote, folks.

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I stood there for a moment, wondering if the model was trying to sell me a surf board, a diet plan, or clothing. By that time, Jenny had disappeared into the store.

And when I say ‘disappeared,’ I mean that literally.

Because the second thing I noticed when I followed her inside was the lighting. Or rather, lack thereof. How the heck am I supposed to read the price tags if there’s three spotlights in the entire store?

Oh. Right. I get it.

I squint my eyes and glance around in the darkness for Jenny. In normal situations, I would have just called her name. However, the music pumping into the store was so loud that when I shouted “JENNY!” the only thing I could hear was my voice reverberating around in my own brain. So, the usual “Marco Polo” strategy was out. Wishing for a flashlight, I went in search of the shopping teen.

It only takes me a second to locate Jenny and we spend the next thirty minutes perusing the wares for sale. At this point, I’m noticing two remarkable trends. The first? All of the clothes for sale were the bright neon pinks, greens, and oranges of my childhood. (IE: the eighties.) And second? Everything in this store, even the “Extra Larges,” are teeny tiny.

Are these clothes for people? Or clothes for dolls? I’m confused.


That’s when I notice all the “kids” working at the store are impossibly tall, impossibly thin, and impossibly good looking. Huh. Oh, and they’re all wearing “Hollister” brand clothing. In fact, the boy who offered to unlock the dressing room for us was wearing the same thing as a mannequin in the boy’s department.


I’m only assuming this is what he said, because I really couldn’t hear him at all, and I suck
at lip-reading. However, the sign behind him TOTES said that, because I nearly
took a picture, but I was afraid my flash would scare the natives.


I will say this: the clothes Jenny chose were adorable. A cute green sweater, a sweet little black-knit top, and a t-shirt donned with vibrant green and pink stripes. We took her purchases up to the register, got in the shortest line, and waited. It was nearing closing time, so everyone was making the mass exodus at the same time. After about a ten minute wait in line, we finally got up to the registers. A beautiful young lady with flowing blonde hair smiled, took Jenny’s stack of clothes, and started ringing them up.

When I handed her my debit card, she looked at me and said, “I’m sorry, ma’am, we don’t take debit cards at this register.”

Feeling like an idiot, I immediately started looking for the sign I missed. That’s when I realized there wasn’t one.

“You should really put up a sign that says something to that effect,” I said to her, frowning.

Which is why, when she said this:


…I got a little mad.

(And yes, she actually said the letters L, O, and L. She did not, in fact, “laugh out loud.”)

However, to her credit, she flagged over a store manager, who opened up the register next to hers and rang us up without forcing us to wait in the “Debit Cards Are Ok” line for another ten minutes. We paid for our purchases, the cute store manager (who maxed out the overall age bracket in the store at 17) handed Jenny her bag, and we headed back for the car.

I had such a terrific time talking clothes and fit and color with Jenny. And she looks fantastic in all the little tops we bought for her. 

However, shopping at Hollister was definitely an eye-opening experience for this 30-something.


But it made Jenny happy. So it was worth it.

Totes.

**I should mention that Jenny and I were accompanied by Brian’s other cousin, Shelby. The three of us spent an hour shopping together and had a wonderful time! Shelby is in her early 20s, and I’m sure felt much more comfortable in Hollister.**

My New Shoes

When I was a kid, it didn’t take much for my Mom to convince me that spending an afternoon shopping was a good idea. Truly, I’ve always loved to shop. It didn’t matter to me if we were going for a quick ten minute perusal of the hardware store, or if we were going to spend all day bouncing from shopping mall to outlet store—Mom said, “Let’s go shopping!” and I said, “I’m in!”

But the two words she could utter to really get my 7-year-old inner shopper excited?

“New Shoes.”

Oh yeah. Especially if they were dress shoes.


Mom, actually, wasn’t usually too thrilled when I needed dress shoes for some special occasion. Not because she didn’t like to shop. But because I had a very specific test for whether a particular pair of shoes was going to work for me or not. And that often involved doubling our time at a store.


You see, it didn’t matter to me if the shoes were comfortable. It didn’t matter what color they were, or what style. It didn’t even matter to me if they had snaps, straps, or laces.

All I REALLY cared about was how they sounded when I walked on a hardwood floor.

Luckily, most of the shoe stores we frequented back in the late 80s came equipped with a handy-dandy little section of linoleum near the front door. Mom would strap me into my shiny new patent leather mary janes, and before she could complete the “where’s your toe?” test, I was beating feet up to the linoleum to check out the “clippy cloppy” factor of my new kicks.



Anything that made a sound other than “clippy cloppy” immediately got sent to the rejection pile, much to my mother’s chagrin.


I don’t think I’ve ever tried to explain what it is that I love so much about shoes that make that sound. I think, when I was a kid, it was because they made me feel grown up. Important. Like the kids in my class would hear me coming, just like Miss Green in her fancy black pumps.

There may have been some fascination with noisy shoes from the time I was 4, and strapped on my very first pair of tap shoes.

In truth, “clippy cloppy” shoes made me feel glamorous. Like a tiny version of Miss USA, except with even bigger hair, and a hot pink dress. Because hot pink was my favorite color from age 7 to 10. And we all remember how big hair was in the 80s.



Fast forward to my adult years, and the sound a shoe makes on hardwood rarely comes into play when choosing new shoes. In college, it was about fashion. Now, it’s about comfort (and some semblance of style.) 

But a few days ago, I spotted a pair of boots that I knew just had to be mine. Sure, they had a slight heel–something I usually avoid at all costs–but everything about them….from the sleek design to the silver side buckle…made me dream of making them mine. Eagerly, I slid them onto my feet and admired them in the tiny little foot mirror. As I started walking around in the carpeted store, I had a flashback to the many times I tapped my way through the shoe stores in my childhood. Noticing a bit of hardwood near the entrance, I grabbed my purse and sneaked over, tapping my toe tentatively on the hard surface. And when the “clippy cloppy” sound reverberated back to my ears, I knew I’d found the perfect pair of boots for me.

Yes, I bought them. Yes, I giggle like a school girl every time I wear them.

Video Proof:




What can I say? These boots have the capability of making me feel like a fashionable, slightly-fancy, grown-up version of the kid I used to be, in all their “clippy cloppy” glory. I say every girl needs a pair of shoes that can do that, am I right?

This post is dedicated to Mom, for all her patience and infinite wisdom when it came to shopping for shoes.

Pixie Dust–An Abby Gabs Fairytale

It was a chilly autumn Sunday. The leaves rustled in the wind, flashing their golds and coppers and reds like so many sparrow wings. The trumpets and drums called to them on the breeze, and the troupe of fairies followed their music to the fair. 

Townspeople waved as the fairies entered the gates. Children dashed through the dusty streets, shouting and playing tag. The air was permeated with the smells of baking bread, roasting meat, and the yeasty tinge of mead. The slight nip in the air caused passersby to close their cloaks, or wrap their scarves more tightly about their heads. Even the Littlest Fairy was bundled up against the chill.


There were so many things to see. Shops bustled with activity, their wares proudly displayed in windows and on trestle tables set out near the road. Ladies strolled by, donned in rich fabrics of aubergine, emerald, and burgundy. A man with more hair on his chin than on his head milled through the crowd, carrying a basket of flowers he was selling for a shilling. The sun peeked out from beneath the clouds, and the merry troupe continued on their way.

Suddenly the horns blared, and a scrappy young man leaped onto a hay bale near the center of town. “The King is coming! The King is coming!” he shouted. And the crowd parted to allow the royal family to pass.

The Queen was regal in her midnight blue gown, her crown gilded and topped with rubies. The King was fit and robust, his fur-lined cape just barely dragging in the dust of the street. They were followed by ladies-in-waiting, court jesters, and men carrying swords. The King’s Bravest Little Knight stood nearby, keeping his eye on the crowd pressing in for the King’s favor.


The troupe continued their way through town, stopping only for piping hot chocolate to warm their hands and their bellies. As the day grew warmer, the Littlest Fairy was able to take off her sweater and cap, and stretch her wings into the sunshine. Her fairy godparents was proud to show her off to the world.


 

As morning turned to afternoon, a certain Brave Little Knight decided it was high time for an adventure. And so, he led the troupe to the training structure, deep into the woods, where he climbed to the very tip-top and dazzled them all with his braverism.

 



Giggles wafted away into the autumn breeze. 


Meanwhile, the Littlest Fairy grew sleepy. After all, it is hard work to flutter your wings all day, especially when they are so tiny. And so, her lovely eyelids grew heavy, and with a tiny sigh, she fell fast asleep in her godmother’s arms.


She slept, and she snoozed, and her fairy godmother snuggled her close, as was her job.

The day grew balmy, and the troupe continued their journey through the town. The Brave Little Knight, weary from carrying the weight of his armor, shed it in lieu of more comfortable clothing. He whispered in the Littlest Fairy’s ear, and off they went, to share yet another adventure. There was painting, and bubbles, and games, and story telling to keep them all enthralled. 

 


Before they knew it, the sun began to sink behind the trees. Shopkeepers swept the dust from their stores and drew the shutters. The King and Queen headed back to their castle. And the troupe left, their wings only slightly droopy, exhausted from their day of fun.


It was a day of laughter. Of good food and great friends. Of knights and horses and princes and fairies. 

And this fairy godmother can’t wait to do it all again next year.

Special thanks to Jenna–best friend, beautiful fairy,
and Mother to the Brave Little Knight and the Littlest Fairy, 
for inviting us to be a part of such a special day. ♥

October Is Brought To You By The Color Pink

Breast Cancer. 

Those two little words came into my life for the first time in 2003. My Mom–Super Warrior Princess that she is–battled the disease and won. I told you all about her story last year. 



But what you don’t know is that breast cancer runs rampant on both sides of my family tree. I lost two great-grandmothers to breast cancer, one on each side. A great aunt on my Dad’s side of the family also lost her life to the disease. My maternal grandmother had a scare in her twenties that left her shaken but safe. And my Aunt Myra–my mother’s oldest sister–has battled cancer not once, but twice.

Double mastectomies, radiation, chemotherapy, Tamoxifen, metastatic, lymphnode removal…these are words in our family vernacular. We know what each word means without explanation. We’ve shaped the words in our mouths, each one spoken leaving a mark on the ones around us. We’ve named the drugs, the treatments, the procedures so many times we could spell them in our sleep. We sport scars on our chests, and uneven breasts from lumpectomies and reconstruction surgeries. We warn those women we love best to practice self-examination, without shame, but with determined regularity. 

We are Pink Warriors, each woman in my family.

That is why, each and every October, I institute a “pink out” across my many forms of social media. My personal Facebook page gets a makeover:



My Twitter page gets an overhaul:




And as you can see, Abby Gabs has joined the party this year with an all-pink background.

My goal isn’t to inundate you with pink. I’m not trying to beat you over the head with the breast cancer awareness stick, or make you uncomfortable by talking about health issues or make you blush by mentioning boobies.

The truth of the matter is that, in my family, we fly pink like a flag. Because to us, it stands for strength. Hope. Victory. And I will continue to sport that pink ribbon faithfully—for my Mom, for my Aunt, for my Grandmother, for my Great-Grandmothers–and for all the women in the world who have faced breast cancer, victors or not.

And while October is breast cancer awareness month, and it’s when I fly my pink flag more prominently, I have decided that, along with my brother, I will be getting a tattoo this month so that I can wear my ribbon every single day.

I will wear it in honor of those women in my family who have given cancer the stiff arm. I will wear it in memory of those who have battled and lost. And I will wear it for myself–a woman who hopes that a cure will be found before I am forced into a battle of my own. 

Want to join us in our Web Wide Pink Out? I’d love to help. If you’d like a personalized profile picture bearing the pink ribbon symbol, a Twitter background similar to mine, or a Facebook timeline cover, let me know!  If you don’t want one specific to you and your family, you can also check out the new tab above for some generic breast cancer awareness buttons, banners, and profile picture options. I’m thrilled to help you spread the word about breast cancer awareness, one ribbon at a time.

Also, I’m joining up with this week’s crew over at yeahwrite’s speakeasy to help spread the word. It’s a story worth sharing, if nothing else. And after this week, they’re going to a short-fiction-only format. So I wanted one last opportunity to join up with the mighty forces of the speakeasy. Stop by and read the other awesome bloggers taking part this week.

My Girl

My mother stood, framed in the doorway of my bedroom, late afternoon sun streaming in behind her. “It doesn’t have to be a long nap, now,” she said, “but you need to get a little rest before tonight.” The door closed quietly behind her, and I was left alone in my pink-and-white bedroom.

I was seven years old. I didn’t take naps any more. But the promise of a new, exciting experience lingered on the horizon. So I scootched down beneath the covers and tried my best to go to sleep.

Yellows and oranges danced on the inside of my eyelids. My toes twitched. Sleep was elusive. Nancy, my best friend and favorite dollie in the world, wanted to hear about the fun I’d had today while I was away from her. I whispered in her ear about the train ride, and the water balloon fight, and the hot dogs, and the parade. I told her all the names of my 1st grade class that I’d seen throughout the day: Larry and Crystal and Robbie and Tasha and even Miss Green. And as I talked her through our afternoon picnic with Nanny and Pawpaw, I drifted off to sleep.

Adam and I enjoying the Labor Day festival.


When Daddy woke me up, the street light burned outside my window. “C’mon, sleepy head. You’re gonna miss the street dance.”

I sat up, covers falling into my lap, and wiped the sleep from my eyes. Daddy tugged on my crooked pigtail and said, “Let’s go let Mom fix that crazy hair-do before leave, ok?”

I took the stairs as quickly as I could, holding onto the wooden stair rail for purchase. Mom sat in the living room, the evening news on the television. My Baby Brother snoozed in  his bouncy chair just at her feet. “C’mere, munchkin. Let’s fix that ponytail,” she said softly. I sat at her feet, and tried not to wince as she pulled the brush through my hair, untangling the mess I’d made while napping.

Pigtails secured, she said, “Hop up.” I did, and she tucked my shirt into the waist of my shorts. “Your shoes are in the den. Hurry, now. Daddy’s ready to go.”

Excitement coursed through my body. I was going to the Labor Day Street Dance with my Daddy. I was a big girl, now. There would be grown-ups there, and funnel cakes, and loud music, and fireworks. I tugged my sneakers on, lacing them up haphazardly, and sprinted for the front door.

Daddy kissed Mom on the cheek. “Save a dance for me,” she said. And she winked.

The end-of-summer heat receded, leaving the evening balmy but comfortable. Lightning bugs lit out path to the sidewalk, and Daddy took my hand. We walked the few blocks to the party, waving at neighbors watering their azaleas, eventually joining a small clan of folks headed to the party. The air smelled of grilling meat, smoke, and fried food. We stopped to cross the street at the barber shop on the corner, and Daddy pointed across the street. My seven-year-old self quivered in delight.

The blacktop of the A&P parking lot was covered in lawn chairs. Six or seven vendors sold cotton candy, balloons and noisemakers, hot dogs. A large stage had been constructed at one side of the lot, lights flashing and horns blaring as the band warmed up. Children raced each other and squealed and shouted. A train at the historic station nearby blew her horn–two short bleets. The Labor Day Block Party was in full swing, and I was itching to jump right in the middle of all the fun. I looked up at Daddy with a huge smile on my face. “Can we go dance now?” I asked. 

“You bet, chiquita,” he said. “But let’s find Nanny and Pawpaw first, ok?”

We waded into the teeming crowd, my hand gripped tightly in his, and made our way to the front of the stage. There, my grandparents had scouted out a perfect spot and set up a half-dozen lawn chairs for the family members that would meet us there. I gave Nanny a big hug, and Pawpaw planted a whiskery kiss on my forehead. “Gayle will meet us here in a little while,” Daddy told them. “Adam was still sleeping when we left.” 

Daddy fished his wallet out of his pocket, took out a dollar, and said, “Here, baby. Go buy yourself one of those pink glowy necklaces.” My feet slapped the blacktop as I ran to the nearest vendor. Several minutes later, I had in my possession the prettiest glow-in-the-dark halo. I settled it onto my head, pigtails holding it in place, and skipped back to my family. As I approached them, a loud sound of feedback happened on the stage. It startled me, and I jumped into Daddy’s lap. “Don’t worry,” he said. “That’s just the microphones. The band is getting ready to come on! Are you excited?”

I nodded my head, my new halo sliding atop my head,  but I stayed firmly on his lap.

A man came out on the stage and welcomed everyone to the annual block party. People yelled and clapped and hooted. And then the band came on stage. There were 5 or 6 men, all wearing goofy red Hawaiian shirts. I looked up at Daddy and giggled. The one guy at the front took the microphone in hand and talked for a few minutes.

And then the music started.

People abandoned their lawn chairs and hurried to the front of the stage, creating a makeshift dance floor. And boy, did they start to boogie. Dad tapped his foot along to the music, jiggling me in his lap, breaking the tension from moments before. He pointed at the old guy from the barber shop, who was wiggling his butt back and forth, and I giggled. Then I pointed out the couple doing intricate turns and dips. He nodded and said he’d teach me how.

The song changed, and Nanny and Paw got up and headed for the dance floor. Daddy looked at me and said, “Wanna go dance, Abby?” I nodded, and out we went.

He led me out into the sea of dancers. “Step up on my feet and I’ll show you the steps,” Daddy said, and offered me his hands to guide me. And so I did. He rocked back and forth, testing my weight, making sure I had my balance. And then he smiled his big Daddy smile and said, “Ok, here we go!”

I stayed focused on his feet, memorizing the steps. One two three, one two three, rock step. One two three, one two three, rock step. After a few minutes, I looked up at him, grinning. “Think you’ve got it?” he shouted over the music. I nodded and he lifted me off of his feet, spinning one, two, three times in the air. I was still laughing, big belly laughs, when he sat me back down on the pavement.

A younger me, with Daddy.


The song changed again, this time to one I recognized. Daddy grinned wide and said, “Ok Lil’ Miss Dancer, let’s see what you’ve got.” He took my hands, counted down to a slower beat than the music, and walked me through the basic steps. The lead singer crooned about sunshine on a cloudy day, and Daddy counted: “One two three, one two three, rock back. One two three…that’s ok, rock step. Other foot! One two three, rock step. Look at you!! You’re shaggin’, girl!”


As I kept up to the tune on my own, Daddy joined the band, singing to me about bees and honey, and how I was his girl. And we danced.

When the song came to an end, he twirled me around again. Friends and family standing around clapped for us. I noticed Mom sitting in our lawn chairs, a big smile on her face, My Baby Brother bouncing on her knee. Dad ruffled my bangs and said, “You’re one terrific dancer, kiddo.” And my heart opened wide.

Later that night, as I sat in my Daddy’s lap watching the fireworks explode in the night sky, I would breathe in his smell of Old Spice and Irish Spring. I would hum the melody of that song again. I would learn one day that it was called “My Girl,” and it had been sung by a band called The Temptations. It would eventually become the song I associated with my Daddy, the song we would dance to at my wedding. But for that one night, the summer of 1987, it was just the song playing in the background of a magical childhood memory. 

Dancing to “My Girl,” seventeen Septembers later.


 

 

 

I’m hanging out over at The Speakeasy. Drop by to read some 
 


awesome posts by some awesome writers!