Tag Archives: baby

The Spot Writers – “Toddler Glory” by Val Muller

Welcome to March! This month’s Spot Writers’ prompt is to use the following words in a story: builder, chance, trophy, glory, unexpected. This month’s post comes to us from Val Muller, author of the YA novel The Man with the Crystal Ankh, a story about the power of music to tap into our subconscious side—even if it means opening our mind to the supernatural.

This month’s story, however, is inspired by a toddler, who came to mind immediately with this particular combination of words.


Toddler Glory by Val Muller

There’s Mom. Sitting at the This-Is-Not-For-Babies again. Tap. Tap. Tap. Those keys are so cool when Mom presses them. She’s so fast. They sound like this: TapTapTapTap. TapTapTapTapTapTappedy Tap.

They make an even funnier noise when I press them because Mom screams in between each tap. Like this: Tap. This. Is. Not. For. Babies. Tap. Tap. Tap. WaitINeedToSave! Tap. Tap. NoUndoUndoUndo! Tap. Tap. Tap. NotWithStickyHands! Tap.

See, I have to pause in between each tap for dramatic effect.

And then I usually get placed on the carpet with some crunchy snacks. Crunch. Crunch. They make a funner sound than the keys, so I eat them for a while.

But only just a while.

Because Mom is back at the This-Is-Not-For-Babies.

Tap. Tap. Tap.

Crunch. Crunch. Crunch.

Mom keeps eyeing me, like she knows what I’m thinking. I have to throw her off guard, so I pick up my Mega Blocks. I squeal and smack the blocks against each other. Then I stick two together. Mom smiles. “Good job, my lil builder,” she says.

Motor skills. They always manage to impress parents.

We make eye contact. The room is all smiles.

Crunch. Crunch. Crunch.

Tap. Tap. Tap.

Her guard is down. Now is my chance. Going on two feet is suspicious, so I crawl a little bit, then sit down again. Mom raises an eyebrow. I smile and coo. I’m still holding the MegaBlock sculpture. I wave it in the air like a trophy. Nothing to see here, Mom. Nothing to see here.

She lowers her guard. Something in the other room attracts her attention, an unexpected ringing. I like the sound, but I like an unguarded This-Is-Not-For-Babies even better.

I toddle to Mommy’s table and pick up the glowy mouse that Daddy taught me how to use. Daddy is always so proud when I learn to use technology. Glowy mouse has its own sound: Click. Click. Click. The screen changes with each Click, and I squeal. Click. Boring. Click. Boring. Click. Finally, there it is. The red and white picture. Daddy calls it the “YouTube.” Mommy calls it the “Not now.”

I click click click until I see her. My hero. My love. Now I push some keys. Tap. Tap. Tap. And she starts singing.

Peppa Pig.

The familiar bars of her theme song come on just as Mommy re-enters the room. She takes one look at me and shakes her head. But it’s okay because she’s smiling. She’s smiling because she knows:

The This-Is-Not-For-Babies is for babies after all. Just like Peppa Pig. And just like everything else.

And that’s why the room is all smiles.


The Spot Writers—Our Members:

Val Muller: http://www.valmuller.com/blog/

Catherine A. MacKenzie: https://writingwicket.wordpress.com/wicker-chitter/

Dorothy Colinco. www.dorothycolinco.com

CaraMarie Christy: https://calamariwriting.wordpress.com/



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The Spot Writers – “Consequence,” by Cathy MacKenzie

Welcome to the Spot Writers. The prompt for February is to use the following in a story: “How could she (or he) do a thing like that?” (Inspiration came to Cathy as a result of a recent birth; no, not mine!)

This week’s flash fiction comes to you from Cathy MacKenzie. Check out her new Facebook page, OUT OF THE CAVE, (and the call for submissions for a horror anthology for teens).



Nathan, rubbing his forehead, sways to and fro. “How could she do a thing like that?”

“I don’t know. Why in the world would she do that?” His problems aren’t my problems, so I don’t know why he’s asking me.

“You think I’m terrible, don’t you?”

“Not at all.” I don’t usually lie.

“But I don’t understand.”

“What don’t you understand?”

The colour of his face alternates with blotches of red and white. “I…I don’t understand.”

“I don’t understand why you don’t understand.” I sigh at his silence. “What’s not to understand? Pretty clear to me. You penetrated, you enjoyed the moment, and now there’s a consequence.”

At least I assumed he enjoyed himself.


 The Spot Writers–our members:

 RC Bonitz: rcbonitz.com

Val Muller: http://www.valmuller.com/blog/

Catherine A. MacKenzie:https://writingwicket.wordpress.com/wicker-chitter/

Tom Robson: Blog pending


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The Spot Writers – “Stormborn” by Val Muller

Welcome to the Spot Writers. Today’s contribution comes from Val Muller, author of the kidlit mystery series Corgi Capers. Speaking of kids, Val just had one (!), and the story of her birth during an epic blizzard is one for the ages. She’s using this month’s prompt (“how could she do a thing like that?”) to tell the partial tale of the storm baby.



“How could she do a thing like that? Is the baby really sending me into labor during the blizzard?” I clenched my fist against a coming wave of pain. “I need to call the doctor again.” I held the phone against my ear and eyed my unfamiliar surroundings. There I was, sitting on the floor in the bathroom of the apartment where I was staying—a master suite recently vacated by my friend’s college-aged son.

“Okay…” I could hear the panic in my husband’s voice, even through the phone. I imagined the look furrowed on his brow. “Okay,” he said again. That one word disguised a whole glossary of worry.

Just an hour ago, we’d had a much more pleasant conversation. He’d told me about his day—spent digging the house out from under the more than three feet of snow that had fallen thus far. I was partly glad that I’d chosen to stay with a friend in the city, away from the boonies where we lived. Not that I’d have been much help clearing snow at almost nine months pregnant. Not that I even would have attempted to help for fear of going into labor during the storm.

Instead, I’d spent the day watching TV and movies in a friend’s apartment—a friend who lived in the city, at the intersection of two emergency snow routes. You know, just in case. And yet, fate and winter seemed to be conspiring.

Silence deafened us over the phone line.

“I—I think I might be in labor,” I whispered.

“You think? You would know, though, wouldn’t you?” he asked. He sounded flat. Too flat, like he was trying to hide the emotion from his voice. What was he hiding? Worry? Disappointment?

I laughed. For months, I’d been saying I’d probably be one of those women who didn’t realize they were in labor until the baby was practically there. My pain tolerance had always been high, and despite everyone telling me that contractions were impossible to miss, I had my doubts.

“Do they still feel like cramps?” my husband asked. “Like they did this morning?”

“Yes,” I said. “But worse.” I paused. “And they’re coming in waves.”

“Oh.” He sighed. “But we were just at the doctor’s. What did he say? You had a five percent chance of delivering the baby during the blizzard. He said this would be a February baby, not a January one.”

I winced against more pain. “I’d better call.”

There was much I wanted to say, but there wasn’t time. How long would it take for 911 responders to get to me? I’d just seen a news story that with the exception of a woman who dropped dead while shoveling, all 100+ calls for hospitalization had all made it safely to the hospital during the blizzard.

The silence on the other end of the line was terrible. It screamed that my husband was afraid of missing the birth of his first child. But the pain reminded me there was no time for sentimentality. This was time for action. I hung up the phone.

My friend was in the living room, blissfully watching TV, unaware of my personal and painful struggle in the next room over. A few minutes later, after a quick call to the doctor, I stepped into the living room with a nervous laugh. My friend looked up from the television.

“What’s wrong?” she asked.

“The doctor said I need to call 911 and get to the hospital,” I managed before doubling over with a painful contraction.

“Wow, really?” She picked up the phone, and her eyes bulged out. Though we both knew this was a possibility—after all, that’s why I decided to stay with her in the city rather than stay with my husband in the country—we doubted it would come to this.

And yet, here we were.

After the call to 911, the evening took on a surreal quality. Maybe it was the pain, or maybe it was too close to midnight after a week of fitful sleeps and little appetite. But as the firemen entered the living room—one, two, three, four, seven, more…—my mind flashed with a delirious thought. I imagined the firemen entering the room to music, almost like the Thunder From Down Under show I’d seen advertised while visiting Las Vegas. There they were, suspenders and gear shining in the living room’s fluorescent lighting.

Several of the firemen and EMS workers introduced themselves to me, but everything blurred. I answered the same medical questions over and over again while my mind entertained itself with its Vegas-style show, thus disguising the worsening pain. One of the responders escorted me through the freshly-dug path to an awaiting heavy-duty SUV, which they needed to get me to the ambulance that was waiting on one of the main roads.

The ambulance ride was bumpy—the roads were at least passable, but barely. After getting stuck and circumventing abandoned cars, the ambulance finally made it to the hospital with worsening contractions that were only two minutes apart. The last thing I remember asking the responders on the ambulance was whether I should tell my husband to try to get to the hospital from the boonies. They warned me not to—that they had been hearing calls for side-of-the-road rescues all night, and even the best consumer-grade SUVs were getting stuck. He would miss the birth, but at least he would be safe.

What can I say? Worse things could have happened.

It was a long night, but at just before 7 in the morning, the sun came up and filled the delivery room with a golden light almost tangible, like magical liquid floating on the air. The sky cleared, and the horrible blizzard of 2016 was done. Golden sun shone against bright blue sky made more beautiful by contrast of the stark white blanket the snow had left behind. And something else had emerged that night: my daughter.

It was a long, rough night—but well worth it in the end.


The Spot Writers–our members:

RC Bonitz: rcbonitz.com

Val Muller: http://www.valmuller.com/blog/

Catherine A. MacKenzie: https://writingwicket.wordpress.com/wicker-chitter/

Tom Robson: Blog pending


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Have I Altered an Innocent Boy’s Future?

The babe has a name: Parker Kyle.

But Granny feels out of sorts. If not for Big Mouth (hers), the child might be going through life as Jaxson Kyle instead. Have I changed the fate of a child?

Several months ago, I asked my son and daughter-in-law if they had names picked out.

“Jackson if a boy,” they immediately said. They had a daughter, so they hoped for a boy though, of course, they’d cherish another daughter.

Immediately I piped up, “That’s what Jennifer named her baby.”

Two downcast faces glared at me.

Finally, daughter-in-law says, “I guess that takes care of that.” Son agreed.

They revealed their spelling was with an “x”: Jaxson. “Still use it,” I said, not realizing the enormity of my faux pas until later. Everyone knows how important a name is. It’s all in the name: pick the right name and it could mean success; pick the wrong name….

Jennifer is my niece, who lives in Calgary. Her son Jackson was born a few weeks prior to that conversation. Son and daughter-in-law knew of the birth but obviously not his name.

I loved the name Jaxson, especially the unusual spelling. “Use it,” I continued to insist. “The two kids will hardly ever see each other, if at all. You’re 5,000 kilometres away, and the names are spelled differently. And they have different last names. Who will care?”

My son and his wife cared. Nope, they couldn’t use Jaxson any longer.

Though they mentioned a few girls’ names, they had no definite name picked. And now (thanks to me!) they were stuck without a boy’s name. They rattled off names they’d mulled over, but nothing came close to their fondness for Jaxson.

Baby Boy was born December 30, a scheduled C-section. As with their first child, my son knew the baby’s sex, but daughter-in-law didn’t want to know. Son had been excellent keeping mum about his first child’s sex although I had tricked him into inadvertently dropping the diaper to me a couple of months before Sadie’s birth. (Granny successfully kept her lips zipped.)

Son’s wife may have suspected she carried a boy this time since son revealed the sex to his younger brother, who dropped the diaper to daughter-in-law over lunch after the ultrasound. Of course, second son then back-tracked, joking that it was a joke. She was not impressed. Second son relayed the story to me and, at my insistence, swore to me it was a boy. Since his sense of humour is like mine—odd and not always funny—I couldn’t trust him one hundred percent. Despite that, I immediately purchased several boy outfits.

Son and daughter-in-law had plenty of time to come up with an alternate boy’s name but obviously hadn’t used their time wisely. Poor Baby Boy was just that: “Baby Boy” for eight days.

“I think we have to name him before we leave the hospital,” my son had said a day after the baby’s birth. When they arrived home, the baby was still unnamed. “We have a month,” he told me then.

I felt worse and worse that I had blabbed the name of Jennifer’s baby. But, really, how could I have known they weren’t aware of his name? It wasn’t a secret!

Even Jennifer told them to go ahead with their original choice. “He looks like a Jax,” she had said. Coincidentally, Jennifer had unknowingly “stolen” the middle name of one of Jackson’s recently born cousins for Jackson’s middle name.

I sent my son a text, urging them to keep Jaxson if that’s what they both wanted. I apologized for shooting my mouth and interfering in a child’s future. “Just do what you BOTH want,” I said. I hoped I wasn’t interfering.

My son never replied—until yesterday, when he texted, “Parker wants to know when you’re coming to visit.”

“Great name,” I texted back. “We’ll be up soon. Give him a hug and a kiss from Granny.”




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It’s a Boy!!!

Today, December 30, 2015, just in time to ring in the New Year, I have a new grandson. As of this moment, he is unnamed, but one name in the running is “Parker.” I kind of like it—a lot, actually—so I hope that’s it. Another under consideration is Benjamin though my son says Parker is “growing” on him. And since he couldn’t remember the other name(s) they were contemplating, I’m thinking it’s safe to say Parker is it!

“Parker” weighed in at eight pounds fifteen ounces. My daughter-in-law had a scheduled section (she wasn’t due until January 3), and the baby’s head was so big the doctor said it was a good thing she had a section.

“He looks like a sumo wrestler,” my son told me. But what does he know?

“You were nine pounds one ounce,” I replied. Bragging, I added, “and I had you naturally.” I neglected to tell him I was in labour, shrieking and in pain, for three days. With numerous drugs. After that experience, I swore I’d have no more. But time brings forgetfulness, and eight years later, I found myself pregnant again. By choice!

Needless to say, my last two children were delivered by C-section. Good thing because my second, another son, was ten pounds six ounces.  Ouch! My daughter, who followed eighteen months later, was “only” eight pounds eleven ounces (if my memory is correct).

My son and daughter-in-law, to quote a cliché, are truly blessed. They married when my son was forty; my daughter-in-law-to-be was thirty-eight. Neither had been married previously, nor had either of them had long-term live-ins or children from prior relationships—a feat in this era. It was as if the two had waited for each other.

I had stood beside my daughter-in-law’s father in the receiving line at their wedding. Someone congratulated him, saying, “She waited a long time to get married.” Her father replied, “And I’m glad she did.” My heart swelled.

You have to know the entire story to “get”the gist. My son, even as young as fourteen, had always said, “I don’t want to get married. I don’t want to bring children into this world.”

I had been sad for him, with that perspective on life. But at the time, I hadn’t realized the repercussions on me: a potential grandmother. And back then, I hadn’t even thought of ever being a grandmother. Too grey-haired and decrepit for me!

But later, when the proverbial ton of bricks hit me, when I realized I might never be a grandmother, I was devastated and endured many sleepless nights. (I’ve written previously about my pain, but in a nutshell: My daughter had trouble conceiving; my younger son was in a relationship with a woman who already had a child from a previous relationship and she didn’t want more; and my oldest, the subject of this writing, never wanted marriage let alone children.) That was when I realized I was doomed to never be a grandmother. And, of course, when something is denied, isn’t that when you want it?

Fast forward a few years: My daughter announced she was pregnant just a few days before my younger son’s partner did. They each delivered a girl, three weeks apart (girls are now eight). Both my son and my daughter married shortly after the births of their children. My daughter regretted not following protocol; my son’s wife adamantly proclaimed she’d have no more.

My daughter suffered a devastating miscarriage about fourteen months after her first child’s birth. Time took (in my mind) forever to pass before she was pregnant again. But three years after her daughter’s birth, she delivered a son, her last child.

Okay, I thought. Four grandchildren (three biological, one step). I’m happy. Elated. More than elated! Four was more than I imagined I’d ever have.

And then my oldest child amazed me. At the time of my two granddaughters’ births, he commented he might like to marry and have children someday—if he ever met the right person.

About five years later, he finally met her. They married a year after meeting, an absolutely, over-the-top, perfect wedding. They had their daughter the following year (a respectable eleven months later!), and eighteen months after that…TODAY…I have my sixth grandchild, my second grandson.

My son and his wife are truly blessed. And so is this Granny, who never dreamt she’d have one grandchild let alone six.


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