oh brother (and sister), where art thou?

We are family! I got all my sisters (and brothers) with me!

Hidy-Ho Precious Readers!  It’s been waaay too long since my last post. Please consider this my offering of the most humble of apologies!

<removes feathered hat with a flourish and leans into a deep bow of regret and sorrow.>

Well, I’ll tell you one thing. Nothing quite prepares you for a family get-together, no matter how many years you’ve been a part of that family.  I observed quite an abundance of eye-opening behavior by way of some of my in-laws.

Allow me to introduce you to my brother- and sister-in-law:

And if either of them are reading this, I’m going in age-order. They’re super-competitive with each other and it’s the only way I could think of as a fair way to semi-introduce you to the world. Sorry. <shrugs.>

*Names have been changed for privacy

Brother In Law: Joker*

Joker is the oldest of the “Bacher Bunch.” 12 years older than Pilot, he is the self-proclaimed (and proud) black sheep of the family.

Although I have reason to believe he might be more like his parents than they care to admit, I’m keeping that comment to myself.

Party Animal: Joker lives up to his identifier by being a prankster and teases people relentlessly.

Even when we’ve asked him to stop.


In a voice often (wrongly) misconstrued by observers as “shouting.”

Charming: This is a term I hold especially for people who were super-popular, a jock and had arm candy for most of his/her high school career.

Basically the epitome of the type of person I strongly avoided during my high school career, due to my annoyance with them.

Don’t get me wrong, Joker and I get along fairly well.  Mostly due to the fact that both of us have been way past our high school days for several years (way more for him) and we’re both in adulthood.

Our détente may also have to do with the fact I can hold my own when it comes to teasing and I don’t really take any crap from anyone.  Oddly enough, now that I’m thinking about it, I think Joker respects me on some level.

That’s a creepy thought. I wonder if I should be worried about that…

It’s interesting to watch his and Pilot’s relationship change over the years.  One thing to recognize is: by the time Pilot was of an age to retain firm memories, Joker was pretty much out of the house. I think Pilot was still Joker’s little buddy and they always “had each other’s back” through brotherly love, but I just don’t think there was that much of a real connection between the two until more recent years.  Pilot was a band geek – the polar opposite of the Popularity Spectrum.

It bears repeating that Pilot is a drummer, which I feel gives him way more street cred than your standard French horn player or whatever.

Now that they’re both in adulthood, they have more common ground as husbands, men, and daily life struggles.

Lots of energy: Lots and lots of energy.

That’s the nice way of putting it. ADHD anyone?

Married: Cheery*.  A gal in his corner, but in no way overshadowed by Joker, Cheery definitely can stand on her own two feet. I basically look at Cheery as being the mother of four boys. Good luck with that!  For crying out loud, she’s the only woman I’ve ever met who can make Joker actually stop talking for a minute!

Granted it’s usually due to her palm becoming quickly plastered to Joker’s mouth. But hey, silence is silence, right?

Sister In Law: Hoops*

Now, Hoops is an interesting gal.  She is 10 years older than Pilot, and has a more motherly relationship towards him.

Which, as you can imagine for having the honor of being Pilot’s first girlfriend, added to the general stress that goes along with meeting Pilot’s parents for the first time – I also had to impress his sister.

In full disclosure, I think she actually hated me when we first met.  Nothing personal, I think she would’ve felt that way towards anyone who was deemed Pilot’s “First Girlfriend.”  Or any girlfriend for that matter.  Looking back, I’m really glad he has a close relationship with her, and I know that he will always have someone to talk to.

A very familiar tendril of jealousy over my lack of siblings is starting to form in my brain.

Super-sweet: Very naïve – much to the rest of the family’s delight and source of humor, and sometimes to my detriment.  For example, a recent conversation from earlier this year:

Hoops: Where are you from again?

Me: <murmurs reply, naming a suburb north of Seattle.>

Hoops: No, I mean where were you adopted from?

Me: South Korea.

Hoops: Oh.  <pauses.>  So are you a Communist?

<Pilot and I stop dead in our tracks, and goggle at Hoops for 2 seconds.>

Me: <deadpanned.> What?!

Pilot: <closes eyes.> Oh geez.

Me: <draws out words.> Um… No…

Hoops: But, it’s Korea. So, that makes you a Communist, right?

Me: First of all, I’m not a Communist.  I was adopted when I was six months old and raised here, so I’m no more of a Communist than you are.  Plus, Communism is part of North Korea. So if I had been born there? Trust me. I wouldn’t be here now.

Hoops: <shrugs.> Oh, okay.

Pilot: <facepalm.>

Super-smart: This woman has three master’s degrees.  Seriously.

It truly is a tribute to a woman who can get married, have a mortgage, raise three kids, still be a teacher and find the time to complete three master’s degrees.  I have yet to obtain one.

This factoid often highlights the dichotomy between her book smarts and Hoops’ naivety. Again, much to the family’s delight and source of humor.  (See above conversation above my non-Communism.)

Super-sporty: Went to college on a basketball and academic scholarship.

Sensing where the nickname came from?  Hmm?

Married: Mr. Hoops*.  Mr. Hoops is just that, he’s a computer teacher and a basketball coach. How did they meet?  Why, playing for their respective gender’s college basketball teams, of course!

Now Joker and Hoops each have 3 children with their respective spouses.  Ironically, though they’re competitive and have difficulty sharing with each other, they managed to take turns having their children.

In very rapid succession, typically within a year of the other’s relationship producing a child.

Born First   –   Joker’s Child #1: All Star*

This kid will run, cycle, wrestle, tackle, etc. laps around you. He is Joker’s “Mini Me” in looks, athletic ability and energy, but is much more reserved with what he says.

As Joker’s Mini-Me, trust me, no one will dispute this paternity, EVER.

Born Second (and the only girl)   –   Hoops’ Child #1: Red*

A sweetheart girl-next-door whose helpful and caring nature manifested itself into a pint-sized animal whisperer.

I swear, if this kid decides to be a veterinarian, the world is a better place because of it.

Born Third   –   Joker’s Child #2: Butters*

Now, this term of endearment is really strictly held between Pilot and myself. (And now you.) We call this guy Butters because he not only looks like Butters from South Park, he’s also sweet and innocent like Butters from South Park, often talked into or randomly becomes a part of the schemes his dad Joker or his brothers come up with.

Oh, and he wore a Spiderman outfit everyday for about a year.

Born Fourth & Fifth – identical twin boys:

Hoops’ Child #2: Chatty* (Twin 1)

Chatty is a talker. He loves to know about anything and everything, and enjoys sharing anything and everything.  With everyone.

Luckily for him, his Auntie Katie loves to talk too. He definitely has met his match with me.

Hoops’ Child #3: Dreamer* (Twin 2)

Dreamer is more aloof.  While equally as much of a sweetie as his twin, Dreamer tends to be more of a boy of actions rather than words.

He gives some of the biggest hugs out of all of them.  Aww…

Born Sixth   –   Joker’s Child #3: Dancing Fool

The reason we call him Dancing Fool? Not only is Cheery a dancing queen, Dancing Fool has inherited this gene.  He dances no matter if people are watching.

Actually, he dances especially if people are watching.  He stole the show at our wedding at a not-so-tender age of 2, running to the dance floor and busting a move better than Usher or Justin Timberlake.

Now, Dancing Fool is a funny story. Joker and Cheery were actually done with having children.  Joker had a vasectomy after Butters, but never went to his follow-up appointment.  As you can imagine, Cheery was very surprised to find out she was pregnant for a third time.

Which bears the Bacher Bunch: Family Motto and crest:

ALWAYS, ALWAYS, ALWAYS go to your follow-up appointment!

The reason for this family tree-in-law update?  I want it to be very clear who these offspring are, and where (and who) they come from.  Despite being raised by parents who represent personalities opposing as strongly as the mismatch of:

Oil and Water
Spots and Stripes
Sandpaper and Bare Ass

-we’re lucky all six kids get along swimmingly.  Despite their differences, Joker and Hoops’ children have a mutual foundation of faith, “family comes first” mentalities, sports…

and one last thing…

Picture it in your mind:

Thanksgiving 2012

Post-meal discussions and board games galore.  The family is really settling in for the night.  The adults are talking (or rather, listening to Joker’s inebriated voice talk about something or other).

Suddenly, a tornado of six little fresh-faced children explode into the room, swirling in a mix of smiles, giggles and hugs, desperate to share their merrymaking with the adults.

Are you ready for this?

All six of these adorable, innocent little munchkins grab Joker’s phone.

A familiar, catchy techno beat begins to play.

Singing and dancing in their own field of euphoric energy, they pause long enough to strike a pose while belting out the infamous lyric:

I’m Sexy and I Know It!

Complete with their own varied, personalized motions during the reciting of:

Wiggle, Wiggle, Wiggle, Wiggle, Wiggle, Yeah!

Yup.  You guessed it.

The silly, singing spawn are united by the Party Rock patrons of LMFAO.

My poor, poor mother in law.

I don’t think I’ve ever seen her that shocked in all 10 years, as I did in that moment.

The only reason my mother-in-law, Honey* is even familiar with that song is because of me.  Earlier in the year, I sent her the music video for I’m Sexy and I Know It as a joke via Facebook.  Her response when I asked her if she had watched it?

Honey: Yes. I watched the: Whole. Thrusting. Video.

Man, I love that woman!  She cracks me up!  <smirks.>

So what’s the lesson here?  I suppose it’s a few things, really.

1. Children are more observant that you give them credit for.  None of us had any idea the kids had heard of this song, let alone have it committed to memory verbatim.

2. Music brings the world together. Even if it’s a song about men providing public hip thrusts.

And finally?

Life is too short to lack a sense of humor.

I don’t think I’ve ever laughed so hard in my life until the moment those kids started singing.

Oh wait…

I’m remembering Honey’s expression now.

<wiggle wiggle.>

hell froze over my little patch of heaven

I’m on my way!  I’m on my way! Home sweet home.

Its sky blue walls welcomed me with its serene open arms each evening after a long day at work.  A girl’s best friend, the bathroom was so large you could put a lounge chair in it, with a huge tub for soaking and lazy bubble baths.

My first real apartment was in a three-story complex. Living on the top floor, my place had high, angled ceilings giving the place a larger feel than it actually was.

Plus, it was a daily cardio going up and down three flights of stairs for everything.  Hmm… Note to self. Get another high-level living space.

I remember going to the furniture store to find ‘the perfect couch’ and selected a fake-suede navy blue couch with articulated arms and back. This allowed it to fold down flat as a separate sleeping place if anyone ever need a place to crash.

A kitchen to die for, I had more cupboards than stuff, (and I have a LOT of cooking stuff. I love to cook, and I tend to bake when I’m stressed out), and a separate island as a preparation surface.

Since I’m located in Washington, it’s not very common to meet someone with air conditioning, but as long as ceiling fan was on, and the windows and deck door were open, a nice breeze would sweep through keeping me from overheating.

Winters were easy. I had a great source of heat due to the water heater and to all of the heat from my neighbors below allowing me to keep my thermostat (and my bill) down to a minimum.

Unfortunately, those were my only source of heat.

One fateful January night my water heater broke, leaking and dousing out the pilot light.  The air system that would typically would blow the warm air generated from the water heater throughout the apartment to keep it toasty, blew out an icy chill that made your teeth chatter louder than a semi’s air brakes.

Due to the time of the evening (about 11:45pm), we had called the maintenance crew, but the water heater would need to be completely replaced.  That being our fate, Pilot and I hunkered down in several layers of clothing under an additional several layers of blankets to keep from freezing to death for the evening.

Never once did it occur to me that I would have to wear mittens and a hat to bed in my lifetime.

When 3:00am rolled around, Pilot and I could see our own breath as we shivered under the blankets.  Grabbing additional towels and anything heat-sealing we could find, we somehow managed to fall asleep and not losing any extremities, come morning.

By late morning, a new water heater arrived and was installed.  Due to marriage and Pilot deciding to go back to school to get a bachelor’s in special education, we would be without a second income for the next couple of years.  We ended up having to leave that beautiful space for something bigger, but cheaper.

Besides, Pilot has a ton more crap than I do, and most of his is heavy and mechanical.  Mine is mostly clothes and, of course, books.  Thank, God for Kindle. It’s literally saved me from having to find more real estate to coexist with the hubby.

How about you?  What was your first real place like? Was it your heaven-sent home, or a hell hole?

Daily Writing Challenge

Day 20: Your character is in a new place. What brought them there? Why are they there? How are they reacting to this change of scenery? Write a scene of your character in this new place.

Finally! The last one!

Wiping his brow with the back of his hand, Sean did a quick sweeping glance at his new apartment. Placing his hands on his hips, he took in the older building with its exposed brick walls and industrial lighting giving the place an open feel. He walked over to the window to get a cool breeze on his face after running up and down the four flights of stairs with his personal belongings.  Ahh, yes, that cool air was perfect.

Taking in the neighborhood, the street was bustling with what seemed like hundreds of people swimming in a sea of suits and briefcases, probably heading home from their big city jobs. Peering through the glass Sean could see straight into the neighboring apartment complex across the street.

I don’t get it. Jesse said this place had a great view.

All the shades were open and he could see every east-facing room in the place. Note to self: buy some shades or a curtain, he thought.

Some movement caught his eye as cute blonde woman wearing a set of blue scrubs and a long white jacket, pushed open the front door of the place.  Watching her struggle to get the keys out of her lock, she finally freed them and slammed the door.  She plopped her keys onto the little side table and stomped her way straight into the kitchen, stripping her jacket from her body and tossed it onto her orange sofa.

The woman swung open her refrigerator door. After a few moments she pulled out a bottle of beer, flipped off the cap and moved to her couch setting her head back, closing her eyes.  And didn’t move.

Someone cleared their throat.  Turning around, Sean absorbed the fact how conspicuous he must have appeared and turned toward the front door.

“I see you’ve met the neighbors,” his brother grinned at him.

“Geez, Jesse. You scared the crap out of me, man!” Sean gave Jesse a quick nudge with his elbow as he moved to give him some room.

Jesse nodded toward the girl’s apartment.  “That’s Felicia. She’s a doctor who runs the pediatric wing at of New Hope General. Weird hours. I never know when that girl is awake or sleeping.”  They both watched as the completely still woman continued to sit with her head back on that noxious orange couch.

Feeling quite awkward, Sean arched an eyebrow.  “Um, bro… Don’t you think she might find it odd that we’re standing here staring at her?”

Jesse waved his hand at Sean. “Pfft! Sean, please.” Jesse nodded to the window.  “I had these windows tinted months ago.  I like the sunshine, but I didn’t want to flash my naked ass to half of Brooklyn, man.”

Sean balked.  “Naked?!” Sean grimaced at his brother.  “You still walk around naked?  You know I hate that.”

The girl across the street looked up from the couch straight into his eyes.  Uh, oh.  She heard them.

“Dude, I had that window open!” Sean said, as he quickly flicked the lock of the window tightly shut.  He looked around for a blanket. A sweatshirt. Anything to hide his face right now, which he was sure was as red as a lobster and a face that probably matched his mortification.

“Oops! My bad,” Jesse chuckled.

Sean covered his face with his hand and said flatly, “I can’t believe she just heard that.”

Jesse raised his hands, palms up. “What? It’s perfectly natural.  You should try it sometime. It’s very freeing.”

Sean put a stern look to his face. “Bro, seriously. Feeling ‘free’ and ‘freeballing’ are two very different things. Not cool, dude.”

“Nah, you’ll get used to it,” Jesse said waving a hand at what Sean thought was a fairly reasonable request.

Sean wiped his hand with his face, trying to think quickly. If he didn’t address his brother’s ‘favorite state of being’ he was going to get an eyeful every morning. And he preferred to enjoy his breakfast, not lose it.

“Maybe we should set some ground rules or something. Like, I’ll make sure to keep the cap on the toothpaste if you don’t walk around with your junk out all the time.”

Jesse just shook his head. “Whatever, man.”  Sean just glared at him.

He couldn’t believe they were twins sometimes. They couldn’t be more different from each other.  Jesse had moved to Brooklyn about a year prior trying to get a music career off the ground. He kept his hair long and shaggy and always wore shorts, and if he was in a dressy mood, they were ‘not denim’ shorts.  In fact, Sean couldn’t remember the last time he’d seen Jesse in pants.  He mentally slapped himself, as an image of his twin walking around with no clothes on crept into his already tired mind.  Bad choice of words.

Sean had just moved for a great job opportunity at a law firm in Manhattan.  Starting at a more-than-cushy salary, instead of moving into his own place, his mom had urged that he help his brother out with the high rents and cost of living in New York.

The sound of the door buzzer broke up their conversation.

“Care to do the honors?” Jesse asked gesturing to the intercom.

“Don’t mind if I do.”  Sean pressed the little button on the wall.  “Hello?”

A very crackled, but entirely female voice sifted its way through the speaker.  “Jesse, either I just saw two of you, or I’ve had more than the one beer and can’t remember.”

“Actually, this isn’t Jesse. He’s not available at the moment.”

“Jesse, quit being an ass. I know it’s you,” the disembodied voice laughed.  Jesse walked up to the intercom and spoke.

“No, it’s cool, Felicia. I’m here. Come on up!” Jesse held down a second button for a few seconds and stepped back from the wall.

After a few minutes, they heard the footsteps approaching their door and Sean opened it.

The blonde was short, the top of her head only meeting Sean and Jesse’s shoulders. Her eyes went wide as she blinked at the two of them, back and forth.

Winking, Jesse greeted her.  “Hiya, doc! Making a housecall?”

Felicia’s eyebrows went up.  “Wow, do you have some sort of multiple personality disorder that manifested itself into a metrosexual?”

Sean arched a brow.  “I believe the term is ‘dissociative identity disorder,’ and no. I’m his brother. Twin, actually.” He looked down at his button down shirt and loafers and back to his brother.  “I’m not really metro-looking am I?”

“Well, you do have a $120 haircut, dude,” Jesse clapped him on the shoulder, laughing.

“Oh, this coming from the guy who can’t remember his last haircut.”

Felicia let out a small breath of air.  “Whoa. You guys even sound the same. Twilight Zone! Doo-dee-doo-doo!” as she waggled her fingers in the air.

The guys stepped back and let Felicia step inside.  Looking at the boxes she glanced back at Sean skeptically.  “Wait, you just moved in?”

“Yup!  My bro just couldn’t stay away! I’m a charmer, you know!” Jesse grinned as he bent down and kissed her hand.  Felicia laughed and swatted him away.

“So… Are you guys… You know, together?” Sean said looking between them.  Felicia and Jesse shared a look with each other.

Felicia put her arm around Jesse’s waist.  “Why? Would that be so hard to believe?”

“Yeah,” Jesse said slowly, resting his arm around her delicate shoulders.  “I know she’s too good for me, but it’s not that impossible.  Right, pumpkin?”

“Right, snuggle bunny,” she said.  Then, Felicia pinched Jesse’s side lightly while Jesse made a goofy face and they both burst out laughing.

Wiping a tear from her eye, Felicia looked at Sean.  “Jesse’s band comes over to the hospital and plays music for the kids.”

“Really?” Sean said, surprised.

Jesse just shrugged and blushed.  “Nah, it’s nothing really.”

“No it’s not!” Felicia said giving another gentle swat at Jesse’s arm.  She turned her head toward Sean.  “This guy comes over every week and not only plays music for the kids, but also has been teaching Michael how to play the guitar.”

Sean took a moment and looked at his brother with new eyes.  “Wow. That’s really something, Jess. You never told me that.”

Jesse looked slightly uncomfortable, walking towards the kitchen.  “It’s nothing, really. Filly, want a beer?”

“Yeah, that’d be great,” she called after him.  She leaned in towards Sean. “Jesse’s a little sensitive about him. Michael just got some test results that weren’t very encouraging.”

“Tests?” Sean said puzzled.  “Which department do you work for?”



Felicia studied Sean for a moment. “Jesse has been really bonding with the kids, but it’s tough. No kid deserves to be sick like that.  That’s why I work there.  I had a family member get really sick when I was younger and I promised to do everything I could to find a cure.”

“That’s really admirable.” Sean replied.

Before he could ask her more questions, the sound of the intercom buzzed again.

“Felicia?” another female voice drifted through the apartment.  “Felicia, it’s me.”

“Oh! It’s Rachel!” Felicia said as she pressed the intercom button.  “Rach, it’s me. Come on up.”  Holding the button Felicia looked back at Sean and Jesse who had come back with some beer cans in his hands.

Jesse set the drinks down on the coffee table “Whoops! Looks like we’ll need another!” Jesse said looking at the intercom.

“I’ll get it.” Sean went to the kitchen and grabbed another can from the refrigerator.  He heard the front door open and another voice added to the conversation as he stepped back into the living room.

“Sean, this is Rachel.  Rachel, Sean,” smiled Felicia.

Sean was rooted to the doorway as a beautiful woman, also in scrubs stood before him.

“Hi! It’s nice to meet you,” she greeted cheerfully.  He took in her long legs, curly blonde hair and bright smile. But what captivated him most were her soft green eyes.  Something stirred in his chest.

“I’m Sean.”

Rachel laughed.  “Wow, there really are two of you!”  She leaned toward Felicia.  “I guess God loves the world a lot to give the world twoof those hot bods!”  The girls giggled.

“Ladies! Ladies! Please, have a seat.  Then you can continue to enjoy the view,” boasted Jesse as he flexed his arms at them.  The girls doubled over laughing again.  Rachel had a cute laugh which echoed through his mind, awakening a feeling he couldn’t identify.  They each grabbed a beer and as settled onto the couch.

Jesse blocked his view as the girls started sharing their day with each other.  “Bro, seriously. Wake up.”  Sean shook his head and looked at his brother.

“Felicia’s engaged.”

“Engaged?”  Sean saw a brief wave of sadness appear in Jesse’s eyes.

“Yeah.  To another doctor, dude. How am I supposed to compete with that?  Besides, as you could tell, I’ve been placed in ‘the friend zone.’  But it’s cool. She’s a great pal, and I like being able to go visit those kids.”

Sean felt his heart go out to his brother. It was obvious that Jesse cared a lot about Felicia.  Growing up, they never bothered to get to know their neighbors.  At least not if you wanted to get stabbed.  If Jesse hadn’t been his brother, he’d worry about the fact they could see right into the girls’ home.  But it was obvious he, Rachel and Felicia were friends, so the creepy factor slid away. Before he could ask more, Jesse quickly continued.

“But Rachel’s totally free. I think you should go for it man.”

“You think so?”

“Yeah, dude. She’s great.  She works as a nurse at the hospital too.” He smiled at Sean.  “And she’s obviously into you.”  Sean slid his glance back to the girls briefly.  He could see Rachel giving him a quick once-over, then turning back to giggle with her sister.

“I think unpacking can wait a day or two.”

“I especially like the fact that there are two!” Felicia called back to them.

“Hey, the view’s not bad from where we’re standing either, ladies!” Jesse said, waggling his eyebrows at them.  The girls laughed again.  Maybe he should start branching out to the neighborhood.  Instilling good will and all that.

“Hey speaking of views,” Rachel said, winking at Sean.  “Don’t get any bright ideas, because despite what you may think, we do own curtains.”

Felicia gave a wicked glance to her sister. “Yeah, even if we’ve both seen Jesse naked when he accidentally leaves the window open. It’s no big whoop.”  She looked at Sean. “Oops, sorry. Forgot about the twin thing.

“Hey! You never said you could see me!” Jesse said giving them a mocked look of insult.

“Why spoil the fun?” Rachel said, clutching her sides from laughter.

“Yeah, why spoil the fun, bro?” said Sean as he settled in to find out more about his beautiful new neighbor.

Not a bad way to start his first night in the big city.

gotta fill up those blanks!

Not much to post. I’m working on my outlines for my two-part series. Because trying to balance my need to write with a full time job definitely takes up most of the evenings! So here’s my DWC! (AKA, the prologue to Book 1!)

Daily Writing Challenge

Day 6: How was your characters childhood? Write a scene about them as a child. How was their home life? Their family? Their upbringing? Where did they grow up? What friends did they have? 

May 12th, 1996

Ahh, sweet bliss.  Liesle settled into her overstuffed chair pulling a book Abbreviated Potions: Shortened Spells for the Witch on the Go! up to her nose.  It was her scheduled day off from her shop The Bubbling Cauldron, and she welcomed the break.  The girls were helping Mrs. Stevens clean out her garage today.  Yes, a quiet morning to catch up on modernized spells.

Whirr! The sound of a blender pierced through the manor, shattering any temporary moment of peace, followed by the sound of giggles. 

“What are you two little imps up to? I thought you were at Mrs. Stevens’ house,” Aunt Liesle asked, crossing her arms across her chest and raising her infamous ‘don’t mess with me’ eyebrow.

A spatula that seemed to be swirling a mixture of gooey chocolate icing on its own fell back into the bowl with an anticlimactic splat. Eyes looking up and widening slightly, Margaret who stood behind the bowl, stopped twirling her finger, leaving it stuck in midair as if she was interrupting someone to make a statement.  Lorelei gasped, turning around to look at Liesle, losing concentration on the blender she had been staring at. The blender had a surge of energy before stopping altogether, its lid flying off causing the contents to shower the three of them.

“Of all the boiled rats!” exclaimed Lorelei, as she wiped the strawberry milkshake from her eyes.

“Language, Lorelei,” said Liesle as she looked down to examine the pink globs that now stained her sweater.  Rolling her eyes as if to gain power from an unknown source, she sighed and looked back down at the girls.  “Now what is so important you had to turn my kitchen into a bomb testing site for?”

Margaret glanced at her sister. Lorelei just shrugged, and Margaret made a face at her.  Then, turning back to Liesle, squaring her shoulders, she replied matter of factly, “We thought you’d gone to the store to do inventory today.”

“Claudia is doing the inventory, and that is not an answer.”

Lorelei glanced at Margaret again and whispered not very successfully, “Come on, tell her. Our cover’s blown anyway.”

Margaret’s shoulders sagged as she sighed in only that way a twelve year old could. Looking back and forth across the now ruined kitchen, she spread her arms wide, palms up and said flatly, “Happy Mother’s Day.”

Liesle blinked at them for a moment. All tension melted away and she felt the prickling of tears at the back of her eyes.

“Oh, come here you silly ninnies,” she leaned down and opened her arms.  Margaret let a small grin show and ran over to the welcomed hug. 

“Well that was close.”  Lorelei blew out a breath she’d been holding, wiped more strawberry milkshake from her forehead, and ran over too.

“But your kitchen…” Margaret’s lower lip started to quiver.

Liesle smiled warmly at her niece.  “Nothing we can’t fix. Or haven’t you noticed, it’s already clean?” Liesle nodded pointedly behind them.  Margaret turned to look at the kitchen, whose cleaning sponges lapped at the walls, and the mop started swirling soapy suds across the floor.

Lorelei put her hands on her hips. “Hey, no fair! How’d you do that?” An indignant look of frustration crossed her face.

“I’ll teach you that one when you’re a little older and your powers are stronger.  You girls still need to do your chores.”

“Hmph.” Lorelei now crossed her arms across her chest.  She mumbled, “I still don’t see why I have to wash the dishes by hand when we have magic.”

“Darlings, you know what I always say…”

Lorelei dropped her arms as she and Margaret both answered in bored, singsong voices, “Magic is a gift and must not be abused.”

“Right. You need to understand that we’re lucky to have magic, and you must always appreciate it.”

Margaret’s grin spread a little wider.  “Well, we appreciate you, so that’s why we wanted to surprise you with your favorite chocolate chip brownies and strawberry milkshake for Mother’s Day!”

“Thank you girls,” Liesle laughed. “You’ve certainly made it a memorable one!”

if I could turn back time

Nostalgia is the name of the game today. Yeah, it caught me off guard, too.

Amara is the first baby to be born on my side of the family.  Last Tuesday, my cousin gave birth to a healthy, gorgeous, snuggly and lovable little girl. (Perhaps one could say I’m biased, but I don’t think so.) Watching my cousin, we’ll call her Red, go through the wonder of pregnancy and incredulous concept of childbirth has been amazing.  I couldn’t be more proud of Red. I’m in sheer awe and so full of joy I could burst from my desk chair right now.  Being the second-youngest of all my cousins, it’s strange to recognize we’re all adults now.  Amara’s birth sort of cinched that concept to me. We have reached the end of a generation in our family, and a new one has begun.

You’re probably wondering why I’m saying, “cousins” instead of siblings. That’s because I have none.  I’ve always wanted a younger sibling, to protect, teach, (and of course) bug the living daylights out of.  It wasn’t in the cards for me and my parents.  I’m adopted, myself. During the adoption process for a baby brother, my father was diagnosed with an inherited heart defect and diseases, negating their ability to adopt anymore children.  Now that I am an adult, married and receiving the daily interrogation from my mother, demanding why I have yet to give her a grandchild, it brings new perspective on how difficult that whole process must have been for my parents.

As a woman, I try to imagine being part of a young, happy couple ready to take on the world, (not too difficult to imagine anymore), and being told that becoming pregnant could endanger my life.  Not only was starting a family one of the dreams my parents had for themselves, but to be told that this particular dream could kill one of them? Coming to terms with that… Making the decision to spend what little money they had to adopt instead?  Wow.  In case you didn’t know, adoption is a long, arduous process with unending interviews, red tape, home visits.  And it’s a hell of a lot better than it used to be.  Basically every step’s purpose is to tell you EXACTLY what you’re doing wrong and need to fix, otherwise some stranger will deem you’re unfit as a parent.

For the mothers out there, I’m not trying to compare childbirth to adoption. Childbirth is an experience that nothing can compare to the torturous pains of contractions. The point of all this, is the idea that life is so much chance and opportunity.  Sure, you can have all the talent and skill in the world, but if you’re hit by a bus the next day, where does that get you?

I think of my parents sitting across a desk from a stranger, being told that because of a medical condition, they’re not allowed to have any more children. Again. First because of my mother’s health, the second time, my father’s.  It took my parents several years of patience and waiting before winning the jackpot with Pilot. Pilot is part of an enormous family. He has an older sister, 10 years difference, and an older brother, 12 years difference, both married with three children, each. Our parents meshed well, even finding out my father’s family and Pilot’s mother’s family come from the same small village in Germany.  (Pilot’s eyes became round as sauces as he turned to look at me during this conversation of family enlightenment, to which I quickly dissolved his fear saying, “It’s ok, honey. I’m adopted. Even if we were technically related, it’s not by blood.”)

My mother and Pilot get on well together, and l believe she’s come to accept him as her own son. The son she never had.  You’ll notice I don’t mention my father here. He passed away a little more than a few years ago from his heart defect, but he lived to age 60. I think of all those years, another little boy could have had my dad as a father. Whoever was at that agency made a huge mistake. I can recall countless fishing trips on Lake Washington (including the time we ran out of gas, but that’s another story), learning how to change my first tire (yes, girls don’t have to be helpless when it comes to the dreaded automobile), tasting delicious smoked salmon he’d just brought in. These are experiences I wish I could have shared with an “automatic” buddy. My never-was-brother.

Don’t worry, it’s not all doom and gloom.  Pilot and I have been together for 10 years now. We were lucky he and my dad had their own healthy relationship, along with mutual respect before my dad passed on. I will always be grateful for that. The older generation is moving on, I’m (hopefully slowly) merging into the older generation, and a new generation is blooming.

So, now what?  Holding baby Amara this weekend, and definitely not getting enough snuggles and forehead-kisses in, I think about her having two amazing older step siblings.  I wanted to be able to learn more about this deep connection. These Daily Writing Challenges (DWC’s) sparked the idea of a siblings-focused story.

Of course, they’ll both be romances, but the heart of each book is about these two sisters’ relationship.  Here’s a bit that I might be incorporating into the stories later on.

Daily Writing Challenge

Day 5: Your character is getting ready in the morning. Write a scene of their morning (or even mid day) routine.

Feeling the warmth of sunshine touching my cheek, another cheerful Saturday greets me as I slowly open my eyes. Taking a moment to let them adjust from the bright white that first appears, right before everything warps back into focus. The sound of my clock radio is tuned to a station that plays classics. Ah, Summer Breeze. Yeah, it definitely makes me feel fine. Pushing back the covers, setting my feet down, I feel worn, familiar yarn under my feet.  It’s a rug my sister made for me as a Christmas present. A hook-and-latch kit with Snoopy on it.  (Did I mention my sister was 10 at the time?)  I glance at the clock. Eight fifteen. I have to meet Margaret at the Suds & Duds to help open by nine.

Filtering sunlight into the room, I gently nudge the sheer Tiffany blue curtains apart and peer out. A sigh escapes my lips as I lean my chin on my fist. Same old Saturday mornings. The mailman driving off, Mrs. Stevens is tending to her rosebushes, Old Man Matthews picking up his newspaper in his bathrobe again… Ew.

Suddenly, loud rock music starts blaring from next door.  August Brandt steps out from under the shadow of the raised garage door, carrying a sloshing bucket of suds and a scrubbing mitten. I can’t help but stare as he moves over to his Jeep. Bobbing his head lightly in tune with the beat, he sets the solution down. Reaching for the hose, he’s about to start rinsing it off when he glances up in my direction. Oh, crud. He saw me staring.

I can feel the blush raising up my neck, as I straighten up quickly. A slow, knowing smile starts making its way across his face, and before a I know it, he’s sending me a big grin, oh great he’s sending me a wave now. Quickly wiggling a few fingers, I step back from the window.

Great. I’m supposed to leave and meet Margaret in… now half an hour, and he’s probably still going to be out there.