I was on my way home from my son's little soccer class tonight when we passed a house shining with the soft glow of the season. And lit up on the side of the house was the word "Believe."
Around this time of year belief plays a large role in movies and books—whether it surrounds believing in Santa Clause or faith—and in our interactions with our children as we strive to create one more magical Christmas where it's plausible an Elf sitting on your shelf truly flies or that Santa is truly watching.
My son has a logical little mind, and there's a part of me that thinks this might be his last Christmas believing. He asks questions and points out implausibilities on a regular basis. When asked if he thinks magic exists, he'll usually answer in the negative. But he is buying the Elf on the Shelf bit this year, at least I think he is. There's also the chance he's just playing along with Mommy's madness.
Belief recently played a role in an interaction I had with him at bed time, but this one was a little different than Santa Clause and elves. I was folding laundry while he ran around the upstairs giggling insanely as small children do when he came up to me with a blanket wrapped around his head like a bonnet and said in a high-pitched voice, "Hi, I'm Amy." I laughed and played along, although I had been surprised by his choice of names since I didn't know of anyone with the name Amy that he might know. Of course, there could be someone at school with the name, or maybe he'd heard it on TV, so I shrugged off my wonder.
A little later, after we'd read a story and had laid down to talk for a few moments before I left him for sleep, he said in the same high-pitched voice, "I'm still Amy." So I said, "Can I have [Son's name] back now?"
And his response was the catalyst for the next few minutes when he said, "[Son's name] isn't here right now."
Now, there must be at least a dozen creepy movies where a child is possessed and says something along the lines of what he had said. Of course, I just laughed and told him he was silly. He then turned to the side, whispered something, and turned to look at me announcing he was himself again with a thrilled little grin. But then he continued to turn to his side every minute or so and whisper to his new friend, "Amy." So I asked more about her, and he explained she comes from the mirror, and when I asked if she was invisible, he said, "no, she's like a ghost." He then told me she would come back through other people. Umm, like possession? I thought, feeling my skin crawl as my son wove his tale.
I have to say, that despite my rational nature and my intact skepticism, there's still a part of me that for a split second thought he was possibly talking to a ghost. I mean, I am a writer after all. Our imaginations some times get the better of us. Plus, he'd been talking about the "people in the mirror" since he was three.
Of course, I was home alone and I texted my husband our creepy little conversation, which he found hilarious. The next morning my husband asked my son about "Amy" and once again he started talking in a high-pitched voice. Then my husband took on the moniker of Christine and the two of them pranced around the family room talking like girls. It made for great entertainment while I sipped my coffee and laughed. I of course should have just asked my silly little creative boy if he was playing pretend or if he thought what he was saying was real. Because his answer the next morning was, pretend, of course! Sillier mommy.
Although only four, my son has inspired a story idea or two, something about the People in the Mirror. I feel a Middle-Grade novel in my blood, but it's still brewing alongside the developing mind of my growing son.
I DO believe that magic can exist in even the skeptic, as long as creativity is allowed to grow. So although my son may not believe in Santa Clause next year, or maybe he will, who knows, I know his imagination isn't lacking in magic.
It may be no secret at this point that Halloween is one of my favorite times of year, and my son has gotten into the spirit with me. We love to do Halloween crafts, so I wanted to share a couple of decor ideas I've crafted with him, and my favorite repurposing from last year.
This fun project is as easy as they come, and they make for fun crafts and sparkly decorations. All you need is a standard birthday party hat, paper plate, tape, scissors, glue, paint (black or any color you prefer), glitter, stickers, or confetti. I used star confetti to decorate mine and my son used spooky Halloween stickers. The cool thing about these is the little ones can actually wear them since the elastic band from the party hat can go right under their chin. We elected to make them a part of our Halloween decor and they now sit in glittery witchiness upon a table and bookshelf. Source: https://www.parentmap.com/article/15-halloween-crafts-for-kids?page=3
A Glittery, Black Decoupage Vase.
Next we took some black streamers, which I had laying around the house from previous Halloween parties, and cut glue with a little bit of water in a bowl. I took a wine bottle that I'd cleaned of labels and sticky paper, and we laid pieces of streamer on the bottle one by one and painted over it with the glue. I love using the sparkly Elmer's glue because it makes the decoupage all sparkly and much more festive. I let it dry and then voila, a spooky Halloween vase was ready for some black roses. I made my wine rack into an alter with a black tablecloth, and added the vase, and it's one of my favorite Halloween locations in the house.
Ouija Board Decor
When I was a teenager I loved horror books and movies, and I loved anything having to do with the paranormal and supernatural so I've had my old Ouija Board sitting in a closet out of pure nostalgia. Last year I decided to put it to good use and repurposed it as a Halloween decoration. All I did was super-glue the planket to the board and then buy velcro wall adhesive strips from Michael's, and it worked like a charm.
If anyone has Halloween decorating ideas or pictures to share, post them below because I'd love to see them. <3
When I first started this blog, all I knew was that I needed a platform to showcase my scribblings and to talk about my life as a writer. I started off with essays and short stories I'd written, small slices of my life re-purposed as fiction, although not far-removed from non-fiction. But as an author, my work is in fantasy. So I balanced the two, giving myself an outlet for my creative non-fiction, while also being able to promote and wax author-like on my newest projects and releases. But I've never been a fully focused blog, other than it being about my writing or books. The thing is, though, I feel to really engage with people you have to be willing to put up more, be vulnerable—share. And that's hard for me.
The thing is, promotional items are often the easiest and fastest way to put up content. Meanwhile, I don't want to just throw up any one thing and stamp it on my blog. I don't know if anyone reading is all that interested in my day-to-day life. Some authors write about their lives and I enjoy those, but I somehow don't feel comfortable doing it myself. Probably because I am a fairly private person. I look up to the writers who reveal the nitty-gritty of their lives and are able to help people by sharing painful past experiences. I just can't do that. Again, I'm too private. I'm the person who gets irritated when someone tags me in a Facebook post about future night plans. I don't want everyone to know what I'm doing. So as much as I'd like to be the sharing type, I just somehow can't be. And I just can't write about writing all the time because as much as I love to write and it's my passion outside my family, I have other thoughts.
I guess what I'm trying to say is I've been looking for a way to share something of who I am with my readers and anyone who happens to drop by, but I haven't really known how to except by talking about fairly safe topics. I have in the past shared more moments from my life through my creative non-fiction, but inspiration for those flashes don't hit me as often as I'd like, except for my many amazing moments being a mother. I don't define myself by motherhood, but I am a mom. My son is the brightest color in my world. So while I don't want to become a literary/author blog suddenly turned mommy blog, I do feel I need to share that part of my life in some way since I'm on the threshold of becoming a stay-at-home mom. So I've decided to share Slices of My Mommy Life, a feature that will be my creative flare on moments shared with my son and my family. The first one is short and sweet, but I hope you'll feel I've aptly shares something of my human self.
Slices of Mommy's Life
He pointed to the old Valentine's Day card from earlier this year that he’d kept in his toy box like a cherished keepsake. I'd chosen the card specifically because his curious little fingers loved lift-the-flap books and the hidden secrets buried beneath. He lifted one paper square, tapping his fingers on the pirates holding pink and red glittery hearts. “Hearts?” he said, his soft, sweet little voice leaving off the “t" as he often did.
"Hearts," I confirmed, glancing over at him sitting beside me on the couch. I stopped working for a moment, putting my laptop aside, and touched the card too, tracing the outline of a small heart with my fingertip. “You’re Mommy’s heart,” I said without much thought, but as the words left my mouth I knew them to be some of the truest words I’d ever spoken.
“Mommy’s heart?” he asked, looking up at me and nestling closer, my lips drawn to his soft, plush little cheek by the serious set to his brow and the inquisitiveness sparkling in his large blue eyes.
“Mommy’s heart,” I whispered and squeezed him that much closer, knowing that while the sentiment was probably lost on him verbally, he'd understood it all the same.
This week my mother gave my three-year-old son a children's edition of Puff the Magic Dragon, along with little finger puppets featuring Jackie Paper and Puff. She recently told me he was very unhappy about the fact that he was missing the copy of Puff The Magic Dragon I had originally bought him some months ago. Except it was the old-school edition, adapted from Romeo Muller's film version I'd always loved as a kid. He'd ripped many of the pages out of the book a while ago on some little boy's destructive bender, and I'd taken it out of his room in an attempt to salvage what was left. This is why I highly doubted that he was actually missing this specific book, which we'd barely read because of its length. But she insisted. I think they have a secret language because my son is delayed in language so his expressive vocab is fairly limited at the moment. So like I said, I was skeptical he had actually detailed this to her in anything but a few words and gestures.
But anyway, he was happy when she brought it over. He's been carrying around the book and the finger puppets for the last two days. But it was today when my heart got squishy over Puff, Jackie Paper and my son. My mom, as grandmothers do, loves to bring presents. Today, she came bearing a stuffed Puff music box that winds up and plays Puff the Magic Dragon, a poem written by Peter Yarrow and Leonard Lipton and first put to music in 1963 by Peter, Paul and Mary.
I made some comment about how his birthday must have come early, and she responded that Puff helped Jackie Paper talk (in the cartoon movie and Muller rendition). It was then that I realized why Puff was so special for a little boy still grasping with language. He's been carrying around the stuffed toy all day and clutched it hard to his chest as we mounted the stairs to bed.
At bed time we always read books, and tonight it was Puff the Magic Dragon. As I sang this beautifully illustrated book rendition of the song to him, we used the finger puppets to make the book come alive, making Puff frolic through the air and Jackie Paper give him "sealing wax and other fancy stuff."
But it was when Puff goes into his cave because Jackie Paper doesn't come back that I felt like I was about to turn a magical bedtime moment into sniffles.
A dragon lives forever but not so little boys
Painted wings and giant rings make way for other toys.
One grey night it happened, Jackie paper came no more
And puff that mighty dragon, he ceased his fearless roar.
His head was bent in sorrow, green scales fell like rain,
Puff no longer went to play along the cherry lane.
Without his life-long friend, puff could not be brave,
So puff that mighty dragon sadly slipped into his cave.
While my son was winding up his music box Puff and making finger puppet Puff frolic, I was about to melt into a puddle and start sobbing. Because little boys grow up and it was never so apparent to me more than in that moment with my little boy snuggling his Puff. And someday he'll talk in full sentences and the memory of the time when his vocab was a bit miniscule will be but a distant thought. But unlike Jackie Paper, I hope he never stops believing in the power of flying dragons, just like I will never forget the very essence of childhood magic wrapped up in a stuffed toy given as a symbol of love, a song and my little boy.
K.M. Randall writes fantasy and paranormal for both a general and young adult audience. Her debut novel, an epic fantasy called Fractured Dream, launched in June 2014, and her second book, The Reaper's Daughter, launched May 2015. Randall also published Fairytale Lost, a prequel to Fractured Dream, as an exclusive on Wattpad. She blogs about dreams, female heroines, and activism and its relevancy to the literary and fictional world. And when in the season, sometimes she just likes to talk about Halloween. She is currently hard at work on the second book in the Dreamer Saga series, Shattered World.