Short Story: Instincts

This year is starting out great in terms of writing. Thanks to a writing class from San Diego Writer’s Ink, I’ve been keeping up a pace of one story per week so far. I plan to submit my more polished stories, so many of the great ones you won’t be seeing here. But some of the shorter ones, I will post, as there is not much of a market for them. So here is a shortie that I hope you enjoy!

Instincts

She saw the car coming from 100 feet away. Following the path hundreds of people made each day across the asphalt divide, today she crossed alone. The cars will stop, they always do. Her strides kept on pace as she reached the halfway point.

Her eyes stayed on the car as it made the turn in her direction. “The driver has to see me now.” she thought as the blue sedan careered toward her. Mere feet from her, the car maintained its speed. Instincts took hold. Rather than sprinting the 4 feet left to the curb, her brain gave her the next logical choice. Crouched down in attempt to save her fur, she managed to cry out as the car continued along its path.

Feeling a bump, the driver looked back in the rear view mirror to see a small carcass flattened in his wake. Remorse hit him for a moment, until he realized he was late for work.

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Four = I love you even more

Thomas wildwest

Three into four. The transition ever so slight but the signs all point in one direction: the boy is growing up. The toddler is gone and what is left is a little boy with loads of opinions and a fresh perspective to boot. This year, I decided to ask him a few questions to track over the years (if I can keep it going) so here is what I found:

  • What do you want to be when you grow up? a trash truck man
  • Favorite color: blue and gold
  • Favorite food: quesadilla
  • Favorite super hero: Iron Man, no… Batman, no… Iron Man AND Batman
  • Favorite book: Tickle Monster
  • Best friend: Theo
  • Where to you want to go to visit out of anywhere in the world? the dump
  • Favorite movie/show to watch: Power Ranger Samurai
  • What does it mean to be 4? What can you do know that you couldn’t before? I’m stronger.

Some of our favorite moments of the year:

  • Requests for the “chicken in the pot” song (“What I Like about You” by The Romantics. See the movie, Surf’s Up).
  • Your love for slap stick comedy. Actually we’ve caught him doing prat falls.
  • Incredible improv skills. Throwing an invisible bomb around the kitchen.
  • Attempts at knock knock jokes: “Knock Knock.” “Who’s there?” “Sandwich.” “Sandwich who?” “Sandwich and I’ll tell you.”
  • Your empathy.
  • Your ever steadying hand as you learn to trace and write letters, numbers and other shapes.
  • Your ability to involve yourself in conversions with kids and adults of all ages, yet still clam up when it comes to talking on the phone.
  • The words of wisdom that come from your lips. Today’s nugget? They do what they do.
  • New freckles appearing each day.
  • Nightly hugs, kisses and squeezes.

I know each year you become more and more your own. We will continue to love and support you (and your loves) every day. You do what you do and you will be amazing.

Back on track

Toucans (mine and the boy’s)

I never looked forward to daylight saving time ending until this year. I usually dread the dark evening hours and the chilly nights. But every morning for the past month has been a fight to wake up. And not just with my own body. The boy has been late to school almost everyday. And he hates being late.

Beyond that, I still hadn’t adjusted to the new schedule with my new job and the addition of driving Thomas to and from school each day. Personal time was no where to be found. This weekend may have just been the thing to kick-start me back into the world.

After chatting with Roger about my stress and lack of me time, he granted my wish. This weekend I painted, I took a writing class, I organized my stories for submitting to publishers, and I started a new short story. And look, I’m blogging!

I have seen the light. I will never again complain about turning back the clocks. One extra hour means the world, and I’m not sure if I will be as keen this year to make the switch back. But perhaps the time alterations are just the motivation I need to rediscover me… over and over and over again.

Eyes wide open to the cost of food

Last week was the official week of the Cal Fresh Challenge where individuals are encourage to eat for a week on a budget of $4.90 per day or $34.30 for the week. I wanted our family to partake but I had a major fundraiser dinner that week which would have blown the entire budget, plus some, in one sitting. So rather than blow it off entirely, I sat down and looked into the numbers and analyzed our family’s eating habits. I also watched as a few of my friends participated. Here are the things that I learned:

Planning ahead is key. When you are on a limited budget, making your money go far can be best accomplished with planning. This means looking at what meals need to be prepared for the week, what deals are available where, and awareness in general of the cost of what you are eating. Often those who live of food stamps don’t have the time to spend to research and plan, depending on their situation.

Shopping shouldn’t necessarily be done in one location. All supermarkets are not created equally. Some have better connections to obtain product X for a lower rate, or perhaps they over stocked. Paying attention to weekly circulars and shopping and multiple markets can shave off several dollars. And you don’t necessarily have to drive all over town. A store two blocks from where I normally shop was selling melon for a dollar cheaper and potatoes for a 1/6th of the price.

Eating on less money, sadly means eating less. This is a different sort of dieting. Portioning meals and planning usually means no room for snacking. Both Omar Passons and Lorena Gonzalez found themselves starving throughout the week. Protein is hard to come by except through eggs and beans. As a vegetarian,  I don’t tend to purchase meat anyway (note, my husband and child are happily meat eaters).

Most farmers markets/stands don’t take food stamps. I contacted my local market and Suzie’s Farm (who we have a CSA with) and discovered that they currently don’t take food stamps, but they are working towards it. I didn’t hear what was the hold up for making this happen, but I am glad to here that it is on their radar. With a small box costing $18 for 2 weeks worth of veggies, it is possible to create a rounded out diet for very little. Of course you are at mercy of the seasons.

Eating on a food stamp budget is more “difficult” as an individual than as a family or a couple. Well, sort of. It is easier in the sense that the budget is larger so items can be purchased to share. Since purchasing in bulk is cheaper per serving, you can get more for your money. Of course, it is hard and heartbreaking to tell a child, “this is all you get.”

Variety can be hard to come by. Planning and preparing larger meals means you will be eating the same meal for several days.  Luckily, my child wants the same thing everyday (chocolate pancakes for breakfast, peanut butter and jam for lunch, and rice or pasta for dinner) but we as adults would probably go nuts.

There are great resources for recipes out there. Casual Kitchen is one of my favorite places to go for cheap recipes. In fact he thrives on showcasing “laughably cheap” healthy recipes to prove that you can eat well on a budget. We just made this lentils recipe last week that cost us about $3 and served my husband and I for about 3 meals EACH. Also, I live off of this No Cook, Refrigerator Oatmeal. I just priced it out to around $1.00 ($1.58 with the chia seeds). If you purchase the generic Greek yogurt and generic oats, add milk and a little jam and whatever fruit is in season, you have a healthy breakfast that goes a long way.

I really want to make this challenge happen for my family, but I would rather attempt it for a month or longer, like this Princeton Alum’s family. I feel that a week doesn’t account for some staples that last you for a month’s worth of meals like flour and rice. My biggest problem are work events/business lunches that are required of my in my job. But I am happy that I spent a little time to become more aware of what my family and I are eating, if only to reduce our grocery bill and become a bit more empathic of people, who find food stamps are their reality.

What makes you, you

A half a year has come and gone since I last wrote one of these posts. And the little boy has grown another inch or so. I meant to write this post a month ago, but life took hold and blogging was/is not a priority. But I recognize the importance of taking a few minutes to write this message to my son  because I never want to forget.

As you grow older with each passing minute, I want to remember all of the things that make you, you… right now. So here is a short list of things that warm my heart, crack me up or things I’m afraid may pass as you age.

  • When you don’t know something you say, “I can’t say.” or “I can’t know.” The first few times this was quite confusing.
  • Listening to music in the mornings as you slowly wake up. The Yo Gabba Gabba “Goodbye” song seems to be a favorite.
  • Stopping to smell the flowers no matter the rush. You have always done this and I hope you always will.
  • Coming up with new and crazy names for our cat, Spork. Some of my favorites include Sporkster, Chocolate Spork and Count Sporkula.
  • We can’t go anywhere without being zapped by repulsor ray ALA Iron Man or hearing the gun sounds  rattling from your lips.
  • Nearly every evening you ask, “Mama, can you do all the work?” This refers to me helping you get ready for bed. Hilarious each time.
  • Lemonade is crack for you.
  • How you just raid the fridge at your own free will. Yes, I realize this is just the beginning.
  • Smank… your word for spank/smack.
  • Shrugging all the time just because you can.
  • Listening to you sing “We are Young” by FUN. In particular, hearing any three year old sing, “By the time the bar closes, and you feel like falling down…” make me wonder if CPS will be at the door.
  • Still asking what’s next.

There is still more to come and that’s what makes each day exciting. The daily routines keep some sort of order to the days, but your spark makes each day it’s own and I wouldn’t want it any other way.