Posts in Scintilla 2013

Scintilla 2013 | Day 12 | when I grow up

April 11th, 2013 Posted by Lexicon, Reverb and Reflect, Scintilla 2013, Uncategorized 0 thoughts on “Scintilla 2013 | Day 12 | when I grow up”

So Scintilla is officially over.  But I’ve got one more prompt I want to answer.  You can read my previous Scintilla 13 posts here. Thanks for reading.

Prompt 12: What would it have been like if your life had turned out the way you wanted when you were a kid?

When I was a kid, I wanted to be Reba McEntire.

My mom took me to see Reba in concert – my first concert – when I was about eight-years-old.  I’d memorized all her songs, could reenact her music videos in elaborately staged numbers in my bedroom, singing into a hair brush microphone.

I thought it would be awesome to be Reba, but I figured that probably wasn’t a career option, or a life option.  But other than my fascination with Reba, I didn’t have a lot of ideas about how I wanted my life to turn out when I was a kid.  I didn’t think about what my life would look like exactly.  I never thought about my wedding day, never imagined a husband or children.

Not that I didn’t want those things, but I didn’t dream of those things, either.

So I have to wonder: how did I end up here?

I don’t know.  But I admire the kid I was who seemed to know everything would just turn out okay.  That she didn’t need a specific plan.

In some ways everything in my life has gone according to plan, at least the plan I instated back as a senior in high school.  I went to a good school, graduated, got an advanced degree.  Got married, bought a house, got a dog, had a baby, and now I’m expecting another.

That was pretty much in my plan.  But I didn’t plan on leaving my job.  And Dan and I didn’t plan for the kind of job he has now that has him working from home some weeks and flying all over God’s green Earth other weeks.

In this moment, I’m in the tentative planning stages for my next act, what will happen after this baby is born, what life will look like a year from now.  And I’m taking a page from kid Sarah who just knew everything would work out.  All I can do is make the best decision I can with the facts at hand, add a little faith and trust in the process, and stand back and watch it unfold.

And if it doesn’t work out, I’ll call up Reba McEntire and see what she’s up to.

Scintilla 2013 | Day 11 | Fear

April 10th, 2013 Posted by Lexicon, Reverb and Reflect, Scintilla 2013, Uncategorized 0 thoughts on “Scintilla 2013 | Day 11 | Fear”

So Scintilla is official over.  But I’ve got a few prompts I want to answer and stories to share, so I plan to finish the last few prompts over the next couple of days.  You can read my previous Scintilla 13 posts here. Thanks for reading.

Prompt 11:  Fears come in different sized packages. Tell the story of a time you had a face a fear, big or small.

The summer Kate was born was also the Summer of the Serial Burglar here in Northern Virginia.

People all over Northern Virginia reported that someone broke into their homes and stole cash from purses and kitchen drawers and wallets on counters.  And it always seemed to happen at night.  While the homeowners were sleeping.  One time a man even reported sleeping downstairs on a couch and waking up to realize money was missing.

That means this serial burglar must have walked right passed him while he was sleeping to steal the money.

Another time a family’s set of trained attack dogs slept while this serial burglar entered the home, stole cash, and slipped out all without waking trained attack dogs.


This situation had me a little more than spooked.

This situation had my post-partum self completely freaked out.

Dan left to resume his busy travel schedule when Kate was between six and eight weeks old.  Meaning, I was still in the throws of post-partum wackoness.  I was already convinced of immedinding doom: Kate would stop breathing in her sleep, she’d fall ill with some strange and unheard of disease, someone would snatch her right out of the Baby Bjorn at the grocery, I’d fall while carrying her down the stairs.

And now I had to add Serial Burglar Home Invasion to the list of things I was tweaked about.

When Dan left for business trips that summer, I’d draw all the blinds in the house, closing out the lovely summer light, and sit errect on my couch for most of the day.  I didn’t want to leave.  But I didn’t want to stay either.  I’d slide my fingers between the slats of the blinds and peak out into the street, taking note of the cars passing by because the police said to notify them if the same car drove back and forth in front of the street more than a few times.

I plead the fifth on how many times I called the non-emergency police number.

Anyway, this serial burglar thing terrified me.  When Dan traveled, I never slept.  I’d go without sleep – with a newborn – for days until Dan returned and I was so far deep into the lack of sleep crazy cycle I think Dan contemplated knocking me out just to end the crazy.

My Dad tried to convince me this serial burglar was probably just a druggie interested in snatching cash to pay for said drugs.  That this person was not a criminal mastermind.  That this person was probably not interested in hurting anyone because this person never entered into an alteracation with the homeowners.  And this person only entered homes with the doors unlocked.  Never a forced entry.

Well you best be certain I checked and checked and checked the locks on our doors each night while Dan was out of town until I drove myself crazy.  I worried that in my sleepless state I’d leave our front door wide open.

So when the police caught the serial burlger, (Who, get this, was found out because he was stopped for a traffic violation and consented to a search of his car.  Okay, I guess my Dad was right, he wasn’t a criminal mastermind.) you’d think I’d stop worrying that a random person would break into my house and steal my child.  But I didn’t.

Before I went to bed at night for that first year of her life, I’d stand over her bed and feel my heart lurch with love and fear.  I loved her so much I was afraid.  That because I was given this perfect gift, this special little girl who brings light and joy into my family’s life, that it would be all taken away.

I lived in this state for longer than was comfortable.  Every time I’d watch Kate run around the playground I’d be seized with heartpounding love and gut wrenching fear.  It was exhausting.

As Kate got older and less wobbly and baby like, the fear lifted slightly.  And as I got more comfortable with motherhood, the fear eased a little more.  And a little more.  But still a part of the fear lingered that prevented me from fully loving and embracing being a mother.

Now that Kate’s almost three and everyone sleeps through the night and I’m no longer a complete nut when Dan goes out of town, I can see another way to think about this fear that something terrible is about to happen.  That maybe instead of, as Brene Brown says, foreboding joy, I could lean into gratefulness when I feel that fear creep in.  Instead of letting fear run amuck, I can let gratefulness wash over me.

Worrying about your kid is natural.  I suppose it would be worrisome if I didn’t have some worry inside me.  It’s that piece of worry that lets me anticipate what sort of dangerous ideas Kate has cooking in her head.  Like I know when she’s being too quiet that she’s probably scaling her closet shelves or that I know she can’t be trusted in the front lawn alone even for a second because if she sees the neighbor boys, she’ll run across the street.

That’s good worry because it prevents incidents that are highly probable.  But letting fear creep in that tries to convince me that Kate will get ebola?  Not so much.

So when I feel that crazy Serial Burglar fear, I fall into gratefulness.  I am grateful for this moment.  For this sloppy, sticky Kate kiss.  For this beautiful moment where Kate climbs all over the playground, squealing and shouting and being a kid and I get to soak it in and forget – if even for a moment – all the whining and crying and grocery store tantrums.

I’ll never stop worrying about her.  And I worry the progress I made might be reset after Baby Boy Bagley makes an arrival.  But when I feel fear pulling at me and trying to get me to go down the Serial Burglar terror rabbit hole, I sit quietly and place my hands on my watermellon belly, feeling my son punch and kick and breathe in grateful.

Scintilla 2013 | Day 10 | Control, or loosing control

March 29th, 2013 Posted by Lexicon, Reverb and Reflect, Scintilla 2013, Uncategorized 0 thoughts on “Scintilla 2013 | Day 10 | Control, or loosing control”

Scintilla is a two-week storytelling adventure.  Each weekday for two weeks I will write a post based on the daily prompt.  Sign up and play along!

Prompt 10: We exert control over ourselves and others in many ways. Talk about a time when you lost that control. This can go beyond the obvious emotional control into things like willpower, tidiness, self-discipline, physical prowess – any time that you felt your autonomy slipping away.

Dan and I attended our first parent-teacher conference a couple of weeks ago at Kate’s preschool.  Her teacher described her as “a ray of sunshine” and “a leader in the classroom.”

We weren’t sure who she was talking about.

When I relayed the teacher’s comments to my mom, she said, “Well, she’s certainly the leader at your house.”

With some of the stuff that comes out of Kate’s mouth, Dan and I look at each other, shake our heads, and chalk it up to Kate’s “natural leadership.”

A few of Kate’s recent control-taking comments:

Scenario 1: I observe Kate walk to the bathroom.

Mama: Kate, what’s going on, need help in here?

Kate, while shutting the door in my face: Mama, don’t come in here ’cause I’m busy.

Scenario 2: Night night time, Dan and I both in her room doing the bedtime routine.

Mama: Kate, I love you.

Kate, directed to Dan: I want Mama to leave.

Scenario 3: On the drive home from preschool

Mama: Kate, I missed you, how was your day?


Other daily gems include: THAT’S WHAT I SAID!  And: I’M BUSY!  And, of course: THAT’S ENOUGH, BELLE!

Oh, my.  Is she 2?  Or is she 12?


Scintilla 2013 | Day 9 | Baby picture

March 27th, 2013 Posted by Lexicon, Reverb and Reflect, Scintilla 2013, Uncategorized 0 thoughts on “Scintilla 2013 | Day 9 | Baby picture”

Scintilla is a two-week storytelling adventure.  Each weekday for two weeks I will write a post based on the daily prompt.  Sign up and play along!

Prompt 9: Post a photo of yourself from before age 10. Write about what you remember of the day the photo was taken. It may not be a full story—it may just be flashes of event and emotion—but tap into the child you were as much as you can.


I think I’m in the two-to-three month range in this picture.  It’s my first passport shot.  And that hair?  Kate is definitely my child.

Scintilla 2013 | Day 8 | Rewind

March 26th, 2013 Posted by Lexicon, Reverb and Reflect, Scintilla 2013, Uncategorized 0 thoughts on “Scintilla 2013 | Day 8 | Rewind”

Scintilla is a two-week storytelling adventure.  Each weekday for two weeks I will write a post based on the daily prompt.  Sign up and play along!

Prompt 8: Sometimes we wish we could hit the rewind button. Talk about an experience that you would do over if you could.

Coulda, woulda, shoulda.

It’s tempting to go down that I should have done x path.  I could have done things differently.  But for me, that kind of thinking is dangerous and gets me into a pit of despair.  That kind of thinking paralyzes me from making choices in the here and now.

I don’t always like how everything is going in my life.  But when I think about how I got here and where here is, I wouldn’t want to change a thing.

When I was an undergraduate and making lots of decisions – big and small – for myself, I hemmed and hawed much of the time.  I’d call my mom and ask her should I take this class, should I pursue this major, should I try for this opportunity?  What’s the most perfect choice?  What’s the best course of action?

My mom taught me two things:

1) There is no perfect choice.

2) Make the best decision you can with the facts at hand.

The more choices I’ve made, the more I realize the wiseness in my mom’s words.  When I decided to graduate college in three years, when Dan and I decided to get married, when we both decided on changing jobs, when we purchased our home, when we decided to have children.  Could we have done some things differently?  Absolutely.  But did we make the best decisions with the facts at hand?  Definitely.  And would I change a thing?  No way.



Scintilla 2013 | Day 7 | Know by heart

March 22nd, 2013 Posted by Lexicon, Reverb and Reflect, Scintilla 2013, Uncategorized 0 thoughts on “Scintilla 2013 | Day 7 | Know by heart”

Scintilla is a two-week storytelling adventure.  Each weekday for two weeks I will write a post based on the daily prompt.  Sign up and play along!

Prompt 7: What is the longest thing you know by heart (for example, a prayer, speech, commercial jingle, etc.)? Why did you learn it?

I attended a very conservative Baptist Christain school from grades kindergarten through third grade.  My parents worked full time, and we were living in an area where the public schools didn’t offer before or after school care.  This Christain school did.  So that’s where I went to school.

At the time the school required all girls to wear dresses or skirts.  No pants.  In this suburb of Chicago.  Where it is freezing cold seven months out of the year.  So I wore a skirt or a dress everyday and also learned to recite many a Bible verses.  None of which I remember.

But I do remember – and can recite – all the books of the Old Testament – in order.

As part of my third grade education, I was required to learn all of the books of the Old Testament in order and be able to recite and spell them.  While those Bible verses never managed to stick around longer than exam day, those books of the Old Testament are firmly lodged in my brain.

I can still recite all the books of the Old Testament in order.  And whenever I think of the Old Testament I think about my Baptist school and the skirt or dress rule and how, looking back, I find some of their educational methods a bit…strange…and their disciplinary methods more so (think: paddle closet).

How is it that I can remember all the books of the Old Testament and forget my grocery list and wallet?  Do you ever wish you could selectively purge portions of your memory?  I do.  And I’d start with knowing all the books of the Old Testament.  Maybe it has something to do with the astounding number of talking tallys I racked up at that school or how I’d worry some boy would look up my skirt at recess.

Scintilla 2013 | Day 6 | Food

March 20th, 2013 Posted by Lexicon, Reverb and Reflect, Scintilla 2013, Uncategorized 0 thoughts on “Scintilla 2013 | Day 6 | Food”

Scintilla is a two-week storytelling adventure.  Each weekday for two weeks I will write a post based on the daily prompt.  Sign up and play along!

Prompt 6: Many of our fondest memories are associated with food. Describe a memorable experience that took place while preparing or eating food.




One of the things I didn’t realize about having kids was how eating would become a luxury.  Actually sitting and not getting up and eating the food at it’s intended temperature is rare.

I love breakfast.  It’s my favorite meal of the day.  What I look forward to when I go to bed at night.  Before children, I’d leisurely sip my coffee while eating my scrambled eggs at a normal pace, flipping through the newspaper.

Now, before I’ve had even a whiff of coffee I’m helping Kate into Ariel panties – no, wait, Belle panties – no, actually Hello Kitty panties while my coffee turns icy cold and my toast gets soggy.


So, on our trip to Sedona, I took my breakfast time seriously.  Dan and I gave ourselves plenty of time to slowly sip our coffee and took our time savoring delicious omelets.  While I loved the Grand Canyon and kissing giraffes and just soaking up time together on top of the red rocks, I loved those quiet, just the two of us with time to talk breakfasts.

Scintilla 2013 | Day 5 | Mentor

March 19th, 2013 Posted by Lexicon, Reverb and Reflect, Scintilla 2013, Uncategorized 0 thoughts on “Scintilla 2013 | Day 5 | Mentor”

Scintilla is a two-week storytelling adventure.  Each weekday for two weeks I will write a post based on the daily prompt.  Sign up and play along!

Prompt 5: Write about someone who was a mentor for you.

Dear Mr. Butz,

I was probably the most anxious 5th grade girl you’ve ever met.  Anyone within 10 feet of me could smell the nervousness on my skin.  And while I loved softball, it twisted my stomach into such knots I’d hang around the large green trash cans on the side of the dug outs before the games in case I had to vomit to relieve the pressure.

If you thought I was crazy, you never let on.  You never acknowledged my neurosis and anxieties.  Instead, you gave off this everything is so totally fine, we’re all just having fun here vibe that left me too baffled to remember I was nervous.

You knew I required the pitching mound to be a certain way before I’d step foot in front of that batter, so you’d dutifully kick the dirt around and get it just how I liked it before I pitched, never saying boo about it.  And that one time after I walked at least the 18th girl in a row and the other team started that mean chant that goes something like pitcher, walk me, too! you called for a time out and leisurely strolled up the mound.

I thought you were going to pull me.  And, really, you should have, I was an embarrasment.  But you just walked up, put your arm around my shoulder, gave me a big smile, and asked me how my day was going.  Umm….not real good was what I wanted to say.  I mumbled something I don’t even remember, felt the tears start to prick behind my eyes when he squared up my shoulders, bent his face real close and said, Sarah, now don’t push the panic button.

I’ll never forget that.

I’ll never forget your patience.

I’ll never forget how you’d get me to crack off pieces of my serious-softball-player exterior when you’d rub the bottle of Tabasco sauce on my bat before my turn to hit and have all the girls scream BATS ON FIRE!

And I’ll never forget what you said about the Panic Button.  It’s something I envoke in my life to this day.  When I’m in a twit about something or another, and I call up my Dad so I can freak out at someone, he’ll say, Sarah, don’t hit the panic button.

It might not have seemed like it since I probably always looked like a cross between severely constipated and verge of tears, but I’ll have you know, those years I spent playing softball for you were the most fun.  The most fun.  I don’t know how you managed to push me without pushing me.  Or how you put up with coaching 15 semi-angsty and definitely emotional 5th grade girls.

But the impression you left on me I’ll never forget.  And remembering don’t push the panic button! plays into my daily life as a young woman, mother, wife, friend, and spouse.  It reminds me to move through my day with some grace for myself – and for others – because, really, there is nothing to panic about.

I don’t think I could even pick you out of a line up.  But your words and kindness and soft heart left the deepest impression on my 5th-grade-self’s soul, and I thank you.




Scintilla 2013 | Day 4 | Content of character

March 18th, 2013 Posted by Lexicon, Reverb and Reflect, Scintilla 2013, Uncategorized 0 thoughts on “Scintilla 2013 | Day 4 | Content of character”

Scintilla is a two-week storytelling adventure.  Each weekday for two weeks I will write a post based on the daily prompt.  Sign up and play along!

Prompt 4:  Describe a time when the content of your character was tested.

When I was in high school there was this notorious Spanish teacher.  A Spanish 4 teacher, to be exact.  So if you wanted to pursue Spanish and make it to AP Spanish, you had to go through Spanish 4.  And the only Spanish 4 teacher was the one known to terrorize the students.

I heard all the horror stories about this teacher while I moved my way up the Spanish ladder.  That she gleefully fails students.  That she’ll sink your GPA.  That she’s more than just crazy, that she’s a psychopath.  I loved Spanish and wanted to continue, even though I knew I’d have to go through this particular teacher.

But when I selected Spanish 4 as my elective, I thought, it probably won’t be that bad.  Maybe she’ll like me.  It was rare for me and a teacher not to get along, so I figured, really, how bad could be it?

Turns out, it was that bad.

Yes, that bad.

I contemplated dropping the class.  But that would mean giving up my chance to take AP Spanish the following year and taking the AP Spanish exam and earning college credit.  As much as I cried after each of her classes, I wasn’t going to let this one person stand in the way of me and what I wanted for my future.

So I decided it was time to call in reinforcements.  And I made an appointment to speak to the principal.

I explained to him, showed him the proof, that here I was, a 4.0 student without any disciplinary issues, involved in school activites, enjoyed by her teachers, receiving a failing grade in Spanish 4.  Why did he think that was?  Why didn’t that add up, given my profile?  And, what was he going to do about it?

He knew I was right.  But given the circumstances, there wasn’t much he could do.  But I didn’t let it go.  I made weekly appointments to advocate for myself – and for fellow classmates.  I demanded an investigation into the grade book.  I required that he make this right.

While this story makes me seem confident and cool and collected for a 17-year-old, I can tell you that is not the case.  I hunched in the back corner of that classroom for nine months, hoping that that teacher wouldn’t pick me as the student to harrass that day.  I squeezed back tears every seventh period.  I shook and my voice cracked during my weekly appointments with my principal where I shared that week’s personal and witnessed tales of that classroom.

And I thought about giving up.  Was this even worth it?  Sarah vs. Super Large School District would never win.  But then I’d see my friend, another victim of this teacher, slip out of the Spanish classroom and hurry into the girl’s bathroom, choking back tears, and I’d think, this just isn’t right.

I did succeed in getting mine – and several other student’s – grades reevaluated.  I went on to take AP Spanish.  I earned college credit.  While I did not succeed in ridding the school of this particular teacher, I did succeed in bringing awareness and getting some wrongs righted.

So when I was in the pressure cooker of undergrad and the options for cheating were pretty easy, I remembered that hard-fought for grade and didn’t do it.  I’d rather take a failing grade than live with myself knowing I cheated.  And when I was at my first job, and I discovered my coworker was stealing, I brought it to finance.  Later, at another job, when I was asked to use a volunteer position I held to further the businesses agenda, I declined and left the position.

I’ve made (and I’m sure I will make) plenty of mistakes.  But my parents raised me to do what’s right, even if what’s right is mighty uncomfortable.  And that one’s personal character will be tested time and time again, in small ways, in big ways.  In ways when I think, eh, it would be easier if…but to do the harder thing anyway.  To make that 17-year-old girl proud of the woman she became.

Scintilla 2013 | Day 3 | Driving

March 15th, 2013 Posted by Lexicon, Reverb and Reflect, Scintilla 2013, Uncategorized 0 thoughts on “Scintilla 2013 | Day 3 | Driving”

Scintilla is a two-week storytelling adventure.  Each weekday for two weeks I will write a post based on the daily prompt.  Sign up and play along!

Prompt 3: Talk about a time when you were driving and you sang in the car, all alone. Why do you remember this song and that stretch of road?

I’m rarely alone in the car.  Usually I’m schelping Kate around town with me to the grocery, Target, preschool.  When she was a little baby, I tried playing nursery rhymes and various other kid music in the car.  But she never seemed that interested and the constant rhyming was turning my brain to mush.

So I started introducing her to Mama’s music.  Top 40.  Keith Urban ballads.  Cross-over Taylor Swift.  Beatles.  Bruce Springstein.

Oh, and Kelly Clarkson.  Also known as That Lady, according to Kate.

While my current life doesn’t allow for much driving alone, I remember the first time I drove alone on my first mini road trip.

My mom was never hot on me driving.  Not because I was a bad driver.  Not because I had bad grades and needed to focus on school.  I think just because, well, the idea of your child weilding a several ton vehicle capable of causing injury and death brings on a certain level of anxiety.  So, anyway, I was allowed to drive to the high school and back.  The occassional trip to the grocery.  And not much else.

After I graduated from college, I needed to get back down to Charlottesville to meet up with my fellow newspaper staff members for the treck down to Myrtle Beach for our annual beach week.  I wanted to drive down to Charlottesville myself to meet up with Dan (who was just my boyfriend at the time).  But my mom wasn’t having any of it.

I figured this was a battle I’d never win.  But in a surprising turn of events my dad came to my rescue and announced to my mom to “let his people go.”

And that next day I was driving myself down to Charlottesville.  Charlottesville is a mere two hours from my parent’s house in Northern Virginia.  It’s hardly a drive.  And it’s one of those easy trips, mostly two-laned highways, a maximum speed of 50 to 60 miles per hour and heavily patrolled.

About 45 minutes into the trip I pulled over at one of those fancy Sheetz-like gas stations for a giant foundation Diet Coke, wondering if everyone at the rest stop could tell I was driving alone.  That I was on my first solo road trip.  I glided through that gas station like I was royalty.  I resisted the urge to tell the man at the counter that I was driving alone!  Even though I’d been essentially on my own while at college, this was my freest moment.

I don’t even remember what music I listened to on that little road trip.  All I remember thinking was, this is it, I’m never going back to that place where I’m told what I can and can’t do and where I can and can’t drive.

Now I don’t think a thing about driving.  If anything, I cringe and think I don’t want to get back in the car and fight traffic on 123 and deal with crazy drivers.  But sometimes I think about that 20-year-old girl getting her first taste of hard-fought-for freedom, and I think about how great it is to come and go as I please.

Come ShootAlong!


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