Empty Pages

“Staring at empty pages. Centered ’round the same old fire.”

I used to buy journals hopefully – and most of them were more exquisite and inspiring than you could ever imagine. Empty pages surrounded by red velvet and blue leather, pictured with hot air balloons, rainbows and clouds. Some of them made the cut – black and white composition books, teddy bear diaries, and vintage journals that were gifts from intriguing boys I briefly dated. I’d write almost halfway into the best of them, and some of them first birthed published stories and ideas.

It never lasted, though. I suppose I always needed a purpose. I could fill notebooks and composition books when there was some grand end result – whether for good grades or even good money, although that was always like pulling teeth. So many years of so many words trapped inside my head – and no idea how to get it out consistently, and put it on the blank pages. That’s why I started this blog, and god, nearly nine years in and I no longer worry about the empty pages. They fill in here.

It writes itself. It has reason and purpose, however meandering.

My mom dutifully kept baby books and photo albums for her kids. I’d love to say I’ve done the same but the truth is that my hand stopped writing in Scarlet’s red leather bound journal at some point. I’ve never kept her scrapbooks and photo albums, but it’s a different world now – with social media and a digital footprint. This has its advantages and its downfalls. Scarlet has been interested in reading my blog lately and I feel mixed about it. She’s always known I’m a writer and a blogger, and she’s always given permission for the brand partnerships that feature her. I’ll admit, though – I’m scared about this step.

This has always been my why, though. This is why I started a blog – a week shy of nine years ago. And this is why I’ll continue to write here – because there are no empty pages here – gathering dust and neglect. This IS my baby book.

In fact, this is pretty much my EVERYTHING book.

Written by my mom – June of 1982

“Tammy is in a bunk bed now!! She stays in pretty well but sometimes gets up from her nap to knock on her door and tell me she needs a new diaper. Speaking of which, she loves getting a diaper change. She sits on the toilet with clothes on but says “no thank you” to without pants on. She doesn’t like to be naked.

And, she is very physical now and climbs stairs, the slide, partially up the bunk bed, etc.!

She made a huge pile of crap on her bed yesterday or the day before. I asked her what it was. She said “ice cream cone!”

She knows the letters up through K (Y & a few others) and counts a bit. She loves looking at books and loves singing songs. Lindsay teaches her a lot!

A few weeks ago, the petals from our pear tree were blowing. Tammy said, “It’s snowing”! I just saw in Lindsay’s book that the same thing happened with Lindsay!”

Written by me – June of 2011

“Scarlet is nowhere near a big girl bed now!! I’m keeping her locked in there like a caged animal as long as I can. I’ve heard you only move them if another baby is coming or if they’re trying to climb out of the crib. Or if they’re succeeding in climbing out of the crib. None of these things are happening, thankfully. Sometimes she wakes up from her nap and yells out, “Fresh diaper!” Speaking of which, she loves getting a diaper change. She sits on the toilet with clothes on but says, “No!” (not “No thank you”) to without pants on. We have occasional luck with her saying, “Poop on potty?” and sitting on the potty without a fuss. We bought her a toilet ring today and we’re looking forward to that next step. Scarlet loves to be naked and runs around wailing like a banshee with curls when she has no clothes on.

She is very physical now and climbs stairs, the slide, chairs. Recently I was so busy looking after her good friend, Charlotte, that I wasn’t there to save her from falling nose-first onto cement. She has a scrape and a bruise that I shudder at every time I see her face.

She watches “Doctor Who” and occasionally says, “Doctor Who has penis!” She also says the same thing about her friend Oliver every now and then. Yes, Scarlet. Oliver has a penis. You will not see it again until you’re at least 30!

She knows pretty much all of the letters A – Z and only occasionally blanks on them. She can count up to fifteen successfully, and knows a few numbers after that. I especially like how she says 17. “Sixteen, Lemonteen, Eighteen.” Yes, Lemonteen. The tastiest of numbers.

A few weeks ago we had a tornado and Scarlet was really brave through the severe storm. However, a really bad clap of thunder made her crawl into my arms. She likes to watch storms out the window and say, “Ooh! Aaah! It’s raining!”

I love Scarlet so much, I think my heart has grown to infinite proportions. When I was much younger and thinking about growing up and having my own children, I always pictured a two-year-old. I babysat for over 11 years and I have a love for two-year-olds. The way they’re so big and understand so much, yet are still so small and understand so little. It’s the cutest age. They’ve outgrown any baby awkwardness and they don’t yet have the big kid awkwardness of missing, crooked teeth and skinny, gangly limbs. They have lots of hair. I’m excited and petrified to have a two-year-old soon.

I’m nearly crying as I write this because I love her more and more every second of every day and I think one day my heart will explode. Can any heart hold that much love? We’ll soon find out.

Baby, you are way more than I ever bargained for. You are beautiful and cute, witty and wise, goofy and silly, bossy and willful, completely hilarious, and in love with life. How did we get so lucky with you?”

I love it all so much. The similarities. The differences. The ever-changing cycle of life. I will read my own baby book to Scarlet and she will one day read this blog to her offspring. (maybe)

This is me linking up, as one of my favorite things to do, with Finish The Sentence Friday. This week’s topic is “The Blank Page” And there’s still time to write yours. Come link up with your spin on any of the matters: HERE.

What would you say?

The Best Bean Chili Recipe With BUSH’S® Chili Beans

This post is sponsored by Savings.com.

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I LOVE chili. I just love it. With beef. With beans. And with beef and beans.

And a million other ways too! Chicken. Turkey. Vegetable. Whatever! BUSH’S® Chili Beans are a great part of this recipe. I use either BUSH’S® Mild Pinto Chili Beans or BUSH’S® Mild Kidney Chili Beans, but you could use any number of their beans. Pictured here are the Pinto Chili Beans and they are so delicious! My son loves beans of all kinds. If he sees a large can of BUSH’S® Beans, he will grab it! Generally we buy several cans at once which is why this coupon will come in handy for all!

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And now, let’s talk about the recipe!

The Best Bean Chili Recipe With BUSH’S® Chili Beans:

What You Need:

2 BUSH’S® Mild Pinto Chili Beans
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp butter
1 can diced tomatoes
½ large red onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 lb. ground beef
1 tsp sweet paprika
½ tsp dried basil
1 tbsp cayenne pepper
Salt and pepper to taste
Fresh parsley for topping

Yields: 3-4 servings

What You Do:

1 – First, using a dutch oven, heat oil and butter on medium heat.

2 – Add chopped onion and garlic. Cook for 2-3 minutes.

3 – Then add ground beef and cook until brown. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

4 – Add diced tomatoes, pinto beans, cayenne pepper, paprika and basil. Mix and cover and cook for 10 minutes.

5 – Lastly, mix together all ingredients and season with more salt and pepper, if desired. Serve in individual bowls. Garnish with fresh parsley.

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Do you have a favorite chili recipe as well?

Guys, this is the best bean chili recipe I know! And it uses #BUSHSChiliBeans so you just know it's amazing. Enjoy this #coupon and enter this #giveaway #ad