Monday, February 27, 2017

Messages from The Universe

This is what I was buying when chaos erupted all around me...

I was buying a $43 face cream that, had I not drank two Blueberry Ginger Smashes earlier at lunch, I would have realized how frivolous it was to spend almost fifty dollars on a face cream...
But I discovered it a few years ago, back when it still only cost $34, and so I bought both this cream and the heavier thicker "winter cream" for myself - a big splurge...
I'm not usually one to 'drink the koolaid' and think that only the most expensive creams and serums work - but - this one was pure heaven!

And why not buy it? I was walking past the Origins counter in Macy's on my way out, it was kismet that I own this cream again! (Except then I found out inflation drove the cost up 10% and then the Blueberry Ginger Smashes made me want to be all bougie and drop almost $50 on a face cream...)

And really, it all started out of the goodness of our hearts - this trip to the mall...

It began with an innocent mom, nursing her baby (under a cover!) recently, and an old senile crotchety (probably not, but in my mind he is) security guard telling her, "You can't do that here ma'am! People are SHOPPING here!" and supposedly stood over here while she unlatched her crying baby to pack up and leave...


Indignation within our little support group online!

A nurse-in was called for, and then unscheduled because the original mom was - embarassed? non-confrontational? - and so my tribe and I headed to lunch and an informal stand-up for our rights: after reminiscing over drinks about where we were a year ago, we parked ourselves in the middle of the busy mall and latched our one-year-olds on - we dared anyone to say something! (It was all quite anticlimactic - we latched, unlatched, relatched - and nary a word... maybe a quick sidelong glance from a man walking by - but we were all pros with our double layered tanks and tees to cover those sexy boobs...)

We took our nursing brelfie (we sure showed those security guards!), said our farewells, and parted - one mom heading out through Sears, one mom heading to meet her husband at the food court, and one mom (me) heading out through Macy's, only to be distracted by the Origins counter and that damn expensive face cream...

I was no more than ten steps away from the counter, having done due diligence to save the environment by getting my receipt e-mailed to me as I tucked my priceless (but really - everything has a price) jar of money face cream heaven into the diaper bag, when - like I said, chaos erupted...

The entrance from Macy's to the general mall was on my left, the way to the mens' department in front of me (specifically the cologne and after shave - I had marked my way in earlier through mental breadcrumbs - to leave, go back the way you came - straight through the tantalizing make-up counters, bang a left before you reach shoes (do NOT STOP to shop the shoes!) and straight on past colognes!

So it was with the Origins counter to my back and the mens' department up ahead, that a flood of people poured into Macy's from the mall entrance on my left...

Your brain begins processing information (perceived by one of the five senses, in this case sight...) by first transforming the physical stimuli into electrochemical signals.  Once information is processed to a degree, an attention filter decides how important the signal is and which cognitive processes it should be made available to. In order for the signals and information to be processed, the brain first must encode and store it, and there are even types of encoding specific to each type of sensory stimuli.
(above info pulled from this site)

I couldn't even begin to guess how many nano-seconds it took for my brain to process what my eyes were seeing, but I'm going to go with FAST.

Probably before my brain could even register that people were running, and begin to wonder why people might be running - what they might be running from - I had grabbed the stroller and joined the throng - shoving and clipping heels (poor woman - I think I probably wore off the skin, I hit her so many times...)

I think the reader's mind will jump to the same assumption that I did - that there was a shooter somewhere in the mall.

Later, E asked me if I had just grabbed Ms. Mack from the stroller - which, to be honest, hadn't even crossed my mind.  The only thought I had - which was probably a reflection of the words being shouted and pleaded from around me - were, MOVE! and GO GO GO!

It was by the last cologne stand, just a few feet from the exit doors, that I clipped the poor woman's heels one last time, and we burst into the parking lot.  I couldn't even tell you what everyone else did, but without even orienting myself, I didn't stop moving - didn't pause for breathe - until we were shielded in between rows of parked cars.  I glanced around to locate where I'd parked, and darted through the lot to the next row of cars - the next safe spot of cover - to pause and make sure I had my car keys out and ready.

And then I was at my car, eyes flickering back to the mall exit, not even registering what other people were doing - hovering at the exit, leering bystanders? or sprinting still to their cars?
A couple was standing in the lot as I neared my car, and the woman said, somewhat calmly, "do you know what's happening?"
And I pointed my eyes to my precious-cargo-laden stroller, all the while still moving - getting the car unlocked, unhooking the stroller straps, willing my fingers to stop shaking, and I said, "I have no clue.  I honestly just RAN..."

I got 2 out of 3 clips secured on Ms. Mack's car seat, and the stroller laid across her seat and Button's empty seat, and I decided she'd be safe enough - I had to get out of that parking lot NOW... apparently everyone else fleeing had the same thought, as it took a number of minutes to leave.
Surprisingly, civility still reigned - even though people were cramming their car nose in where they could to get through the throng, they still sat at red lights and waited for the OK to go...

As I sat there, eyes still flitting to the mall and back to the cars in front of me (NO ONE was cutting in front of me to get outta here!!!!) my heart thundered out of my chest, breathe racing so fast that my tongue began to stick to the roof of my dry mouth.  I had to make sure my tribe was ok - the mom who went through Sears and the mom who had gone to the food court.

Quick messages with the food court mom revealed she had come into Macy's as well with her husband, and was in fact at the Starbucks counter, which neighbored the Origins one, and they too ran with the crowd to an exit.

I began crying, waiting to get clear of the congestion and hit open space to drive out of there.  I finally got to the highway, and I called the mom that went through Sears, praying she hadn't decided to stop anywhere - she hadn't, was in fact unaware of anything that had happened.

I realized I needed to call E, news may be hitting the airwaves/social media and he'd freak, knowing we were at That Mall.

I don't remember the drive home at all, but I remember blurting out as soon as he answered that Ms. Mack and I were in the car, we were ok, but - "I think there was just now a shooting at the mall as we left..."

I can still remember the tone of his voice, his shocked "WHAT?!" that he blurted out in the doctor's office years ago right after I'd told him there was no longer a heartbeat to our precious first pregnancy.

It was the same exact word and tone I got back over the blue tooth speakers as I drove on autopilot, reaching back to touch Ms. Mack every few minutes, maybe to reassure myself she was there and alright (and she was - she was trying to nap, and I kept startling her awake each time I reached back... sorry, baby...)

My in-laws were over for dinner, and E updated them in bullet points as I gave him information over the phone.  They immediately turned the news on, but nothing was scrolling across the screen related to the local shopping mall.

I walked into the house with a sleepy Ms. Mack, and started to cry again on E's shoulder, not knowing what I escaped, but only knowing the fear - what I saw in other faces as they ran into Macy's, what surely must have been on my face as I careened the stroller, sometimes on only one wheel around corners and shoes.

Once stored, memories eventually must be retrieved from storage. Remembering past events is not like watching a recorded video. It is, rather, a process of reconstructing what may have happened based on the details the brain chose to store and was able to recall.(source)

As I retold the tale, taking more time in the retelling than the actual events, I recalled thinking, amidst the stampede, that this must be what it's like to go running with the bulls in Spain... colliding into walls, other people, the whites of eyes showing, not entirely sure what you're running from - but that it's time to RUN...

Recall (of memories) is triggered by a retrieval cue, an environmental stimulus that prompts the brain to retrieve the memory. Evidence shows that the better the retrieval cue, the higher the chance of recalling the memory.(source)

The feeling of running with the bulls is probably my retrieval cue - that's the only feeling I can clearly remember from the first few seconds I spent picking up speed through Macy's... And there can be memory distortions, of course - did I really remember hearing a pop or loud bang? Or is that memory influenced by the messages on my phone screen with eight heart-dropping letters:

Because, in fact - there were apparently never any shots fired...

As the dust figuratively continued to settle this morning, as the local news stations began to give the story a few minutes of air time, it seems chaos began in the food court where teenagers (two? two seperate incidents?) broke into a vicious fight.  A video that made its way to the surface this morning shows chairs being thrown, big heavy wooden chairs with metal legs and arms - what some witnesses would claim made the loud bangs that others claimed they heard as gunfire.

In one telling, an off-duty policeman pulled a gun - perhaps (probably) as a "CUT THIS SHIT RIGHT NOW" tactic against the teens.  Of course, you have commenters on social media nagging that the news stations "use fear tactics, they make everything seem so scary and blow things out of proportion - it was a FIGHT at the food court!"

I normally don't waste a minute of my time even considering a response, but on a local mom's group I had to - I had to comment that it was scary as SHIT running with your toddler, fear building as the fleeing crowd grew larger and larger.  The media had NOTHING to do with that fear...

Because if I had to pick one word to describe things, it would be fear.

Yesterday afternoon was probably the most terrified I have ever been, racing through, no racing WITH the crowd with a stroller - breathing so hard that I couldn't stop coughing later at home, that this morning I was a bit hoarse...

This morning, I took my $45 face cream out of the bag that had been forgotten upon my return home.  The money didn't even bother me any more - I set the box on the counter and looked at it, and said a prayer of thanks.

I'm thankful that Ms. Mack and I were ok (she was giggling and laughing with Nana and Pops as soon as she got home yesterday).

I'm thankful that no one at the mall was hurt (aside from a few very minor injuries due to the rushing of the crowds), and that "it was nothing" after all.

I know that if it hadn't been nothing, I would be so much more shaken - it would be the bone-jarring realization of I escaped death, not just the Wow, I've never felt fear like that - but we're ok...

But things quickly settled back down to regular life - the inlaws played with the kids, E had dinner ready (god bless the man) and after baths and bedtime, I enjoyed a few hours of watching the fabulous fashion of The Oscars.

I even got slightly annoyed when Button woke up at 1:30 last night, shivering with no blankets and soaking wet - E had forgotten to put a diaper on him before he put Button to bed.  And of course, who had to get up and wipe down a shivering little boy, change PJs and sheets and scramble for a clean blanket, only to find my robe (after removing the belt) for Button...

But I was quick to take stock of the situation - it was just 30-45 minutes less of sleep than I would have gotten, and that can be fixed - quite easily - with coffee. (I mean, how many nights had I stayed up WAY past my bedtime to watch just ONE MORE EPISODE of Outlander?!)

So here come the cliches:

Life is too short to waste your energy complaining about how your fBFF wanted you to take pictures of her son's baptism - FOR FREE - after wanting to charge $15 for chocolate covered oreos at Ms. Mack's birthday party. (seriously.  I'm not holding a grudge or anything. lol)

Life is too short to spend time angry that your husband didn't get the kids from daycare on Friday until almost 6pm (I was working late because he was home to get them at 5pm!) because, most likely, he was working on some computer project and wanted to finish up...

Life is too short to worry about wrinkles on your face (yes, I considered Botox - am still considering?? Botox. blugh  maybe life isn't too short for Botox... lol)


The whole Oscars gaffe where LaLaLand was named as Best Picture, but totally wasn't the winner?!

There's bigger fish to fry!

(But how salacious?!)

And with that - it's 3:33pm.  And my yoga instructor always says when you see things like repeating numbers, it's the universe sending good vibes... or something like that... and repeating THREE'S?

Apparently that's like GoodVibeGold.

News Story Here

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

"Weading" Wednesdays are back!!

Ok - now for the first 2017 Reading Challenge Post!

I haven't kept dates of when I finished each book (so far) so I'll just go in chronological order:

#1. Wish List by Fern Michaels          Cat. 23/40: Book with a red spine
So this was actually a random book I picked up to read myself to sleep while at my parents' house over Christmas... meh. not fabulously written (maybe one of Michaels' first books?? she's got a LOT! 259 results in a GoodReads search?!)
And honestly - it conveniently worked to fulfill a category (red spine):

#2. Beautiful Stormby Barbara Freethy      Cat. 14/40: book involving travel
This was well written - a nook-book download during a lunch when I needed something to read... (I think my mom has used the word VORACIOUS when she describes my reading habits... I ALWAYS need to be reading...)
It starts with a woman whose pilot father disappeared during a lightning storm years prior (assumed dead, never found) and she's become obsessed with lightening - frequently traveling (hi category!) to capture electrical storms with her camera...
During a storm, she catches a glimpse of an arguing couple during a flash of light.  She learns shortly after that the woman she saw is a woman who was reported missing more than a month ago... The tale follows her (and a love interest, of COURSE) as they travel from FL to TX, trying to track down where the missing woman has gone!

#3. The Dreamer by May McGoldrick          Cat. 39/40: first book in a series you haven't read before
This cheap nookbook was a download based on my Outlander obsession - a love story also set in the Highlands with lairds, bonnie lasses and braw warriors (LOL) but it was the first in a series, The Highland Treasure, a story about three sisters who, after their father died, helped hide a Scottish treasure with their mother from the greedy English (lol). It was decently written, but Diana Gabaldon it was NOT, and I had no compulsion to download the next in the series...

#4. Adam by Chris Keniston          Cat. 27/40: book with a title that's a character's name
A download based on cheap price and fair rating on B&N (4.5 stars!) it was well written - a woman shows up in a close-knit mid-west town - in a wedding gown and a red convertible that's registered to her EX-Fiance... of course, romance with the town veterinarian (lusted after bachelor) and mystery of the woman's backstory make it a decent book! (Of course - the town vet is the title of the book: Adam.)

#5. The Proposition by Katie Ashley         Cat: 32/40: book about an interesting woman
So maybe this category was referring more to women like Susan B. Anthony or Helen Keller... but the main character in this book is definitely interesting in my book: her fiance (husband? can't remember) dies in a car accident, and she dreams of being a mother. so she propositions her hot sexy boss (or he propositioned her.. again, can't remember LOL) to be the sperm donor - except he'll be PERSONALLY making the "donation" directly to her each time... =P
Again, first in a series that totally en\ded in a cliff hanger, but totally wasn't THAT good enough to make the next book a must-read...

#6.  Snow Angel by Melanie Shawn             Cat: 6/40: book with one of four seasons in the title
Ok so this is reaching just a little bit for the category - I'm allowing "Snow" for "Winter" so I can cross off a category in the challenge!
This was decent - very similar to #4 above (Adam) there's a girl with a mysterious past (she's in fact in WITSEC - witness protection program) and the local police chief is enamored by the New Girl...

#7 Drums of Autumn by Diana Gabaldon (#4 in Outlander Series)      (BONUS) Cat: 48/52: book more than 800 pages
At 1,030 pages - this totally knocks this category out of the park... (in fact, I think all of the Outlander novels reach or surpass the 1,000-page-mark...
I felt like I had fallen totally into the books after reading the first three books (3,000+ pages!!!!) and so took a break after reading Voyager in fall of 2016.
Well after watching the Starz series (seasons 1-2 line up with book 1-2) I was ready to dive back in...
I can't praise the writing of Diana Gabaldon enough... and as another fellow fan/reader said recently, I have to be careful not to jump and skip ahead and skim over paragraphs, eager just to see what happens next! there are details in every sentence that you don't want to miss!
GO START THE SERIES!!! (you'll thank me in 4 years - the time it'll take to read almost 10,000 pages of book!
((there's 8 books... a whole bunch of novellas... a historical companion novel... whew))

As for my currently reading:
The Fiery Cross by Diana Gabaldon
(can't get enough of this Outlander series!! Also highly anticipated - Season 3 on Stars, coming this September!!!)

Monday, February 20, 2017

Book Battle being waged...

So I found, while perusing Pinterest, another Reading Challenge... (before I got too far, I realized it was for 2016 - not that it really matters, but then I found one for 2017, and I'm all for maintaining accuracy and integrity...)

But - there's a problem...

I've had "Outlander Series" on my To-Read list for the LONGEST TIME EVER. I finally read the first one, titled "Outlander," way back in fall(ish) of 2016... (I'm actually not sure exactly when I found it, but it's 16 books from the end of 2016 on my Books Read in 2016 list.... LOL)

((speaking of - so we don't skip over an entire year's worth of reading, because Lord knows I read. err' damn day... here's a list of books I read in 2016 (I don't think any were re-reads....))
1. We Are All Welcome Here by Elizabeth Berg
2. Open House - by Elizabeth Berg
3. Pull of the Moon - Elizabeth Berg
4. Home Safe - Elizabeth Berg
5. Noah's Compass - by AnneTyler
6. Trade Me by Courtney Milan
7. Zoo - James Patterson
8. Morgan's Passing by Anne Tyler
9. Vertical Run by Joseph R. Garber
10. Ladder of years by Anne Tyler
11. Once upon a prince by Rachael Hauck
12. The Nameless Dead by Brian McGilloway
13. Her Back-Up Boyfriend by Ashlee Mallory
14. Harry Potter and the Cursed child (ScreenPlay) by J.K. Rowling (also by John Tiffany and Jack Thorne)
15. Mystic River by Dennis Lehane
16. How to Win at High School by Owen Matthews
17. Paperweight by Meg Haston
18. Outlander by Diana Gabaldon (#1 in Series)
19. Dragonfly in Amber by Diana Gabaldon (#2 in series)
20. Voyager by Diana Gabaldon (#3 in series)
21. Gone by Michael Grant (Gone Series #1)
22. Hunger by Michael Grant (Gone series #2)
23. Lies by Michael Grant (Gone series #3)
24. The Guest book by Marybeth Mayhew Whalen
25. Matched by Ally Condie (Matched Series #1)
26. Crossed by Ally Condie (Matched Series #2)
27. The Substitute by Denise Grover Swank
28. Nobody's Angel by Sarah Hegger
29. Damaged by Pamela Callow
30. Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn
31. Dark Places by Gillian Flynn
32. The Passage* by Justin Cronin (Passage #1) *re-read
33. The Twelve by Justin Cronin (Passage #2)

Hey, 33 books in 12 months - not bad, considering I had a NEWBORN at the beginning of that period! (It IS slightly under my average (based on the 2015 Reading Challenge which I last updated in OCTOBER, having read over 70 books at that point!!))

Ok - so I just signed up for GoodReads, which should replace my nerdy-ass excel spreadsheet where I track my books and my challenges... LOL

And I'm ready for the 2017 Reading Challenge!

Ok so anyways, back to the Book Battle and my newest obsession... I'm in the middle of reading Book Number FIVE in the Outlander series (you'll see I read the first three in 2016 (numbers 18-20 in the above list)).

They're EPIC novels, at like a thousand pages per book, so they take a bit more time than my usual novels... AndPlusAlso - it's a Starz series, they're in the process of filming season three (which is book three: Voyager) and I've been re-watching Season One (just finished two nights ago) and now Season Two...

Because I'm OBSESSED.

I'll show you why:

That would be "JAMMF" as per the huge FanPage I'm a member of on TheFBook...
James. Alexander. Malcom. McKenzie. Fraser.


So - it's February 20th, and I've only read 7 books so far in 2017...

If I keep up with that rate, I'll hit exactly 50 books this year (which was the challenge I set for myself in Goodreads...)

let's see if I can make those 50 books all part of the 2017 Reading Challenge!
~First Challenge Post to follow~

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

12 Months (at almost 14 months...)

(Yes. She will be 14 months ((ACK!!)) in 1 week, but I still haven't posted about Ms. Mack's big 12-month check-up.... #BadMommyBlogger)

But first - remember how the day ended so wonderfully after Ms. Mack's party?

The perfect snowfall and contrasting warm hot cocoa made the day, save one small thing - if you'll recall, Button had a bad cold/cough...

The IL's wanted Ms. Mack to open the gifts from them, so once that was done and they left - it was just E,  his divorced-friend (Mr. PotatoHead) and myself cleaning up the last vestiges of confetti ((actually, Button was vacuuming.  the kid's obsessed with cleaning...)
Just minutes before we were ready to coat up and head home, Button had a gagging coughing fit - and then vomited.

All over the carpet... and it was marshmallows and solid stringy sugar....


about two weeks after her party was her actual birthday... She enjoyed muffins at daycare, and came home to sweet treats from Daddy:

At her doctor's visit, we had our routine shots, and discussed her ever-lasting cradle cap (ugh. I tried the oil - olive, vegetable, coconut - and comb.  I eventually gave up and figured, she won't go to college with cradle cap...) and keeping an eye on her speech (or lack-thereof...  meh. Button talks enough for the two if them... #SecondTimeMom - not worried...)

and then her all-important measurements... the ones during which I dreaded/anticipated with excitement/doom for months: Did she gain enough? Did she grow enough?? Did she get enough milk???

(at 12 months, they lost the white-knuckled-ness quite a bit. I see her chunky little legs, and round cheeks.  She's just my delicate little flower. 💟)

At one year and one day old, Ms. Mack measured 29.25" which puts her in the 59th percentile.
She also weighed 18lbs 10oz (which is the 16th % according to the office's growth chart... my delicate tulip lol)

(For the sake of one less "Draft" post in my blogger, we're gonna put a pin in it here - I've gotta leave work in 10 minutes to hit the post office - selling off Ms. Mack's old clothes SOB SOB ) and then it's a date night with the hubs at BoneFishGrill where I'll be imbibing in some yummy cocktails because I'm ready to scream at the phone company that I've been dealing with for hours at my job. (There ain't nothing like letting PMS bitchiness loose on a non-responsive/unhelpful vendor!)