Thursday, July 30, 2009

There's a Pox Upon Our House

I have two relative contractors in my home. One a live in.

Two and a half out of three bathrooms are out of commission.

I have 1500 square feet of home decor/crap crammed into about 600 square feet.

While hanging sheetrock, they hit a copper pipe in the ceiling.

Our dry basement is again wet.

Make that three out of three bathrooms are out of commission.

The plumber was "overpriced" and sent away.

His replacement can't get here until 2.

Which means 4:30, I'm sure.

There is a tile saw screaming as I type.

Hubs is working from home today in 100 of my 600 available square feet of living space.

It looks like it might rain.

And Charming has Chicken Pox.

I have to admit, I'm having a hard time being thankful in all things today.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Blue Like Play Dough

It's been one of those weeks where I feel like my psyche has been put through a meat grinder. I had relatives driving in from direct opposite parts of the country. One to move her father and in need of child care. The other to rip my house to shreds and re-do it. Do you see the dilemma yet? Interestingly enough, from the original time line, I expected them both ten days earlier and they still both arrived on the same day. Wednesday.

Add to the natural stress of seven children and a tile saw I went and subjected myself to missions night at church which should have been uplifting to a non-selfish person. (We all know who that isn't.) For nearly a year, I'd planned to go on the Malawi trip. I saved up the money. And oh, long about time to turn in the money, God said "no." (No comment on whether I was listening before then.) So Wednesday night I heard the words "dying to self" in discussion of the missionaries and I wanted to SCREAM. (I settled for crying.) Very frustrated that it's considered "dying to self" to go and serve when I truly felt like I was dying to self to stay home.

And then I came home and made a bajillion decisions regarding tile and Formica while I was in that wonderful frame of mind.

Some days, you just feel like a blob of play dough that God is mashing beyond recognition. Good thing God is a master artist. Just because I don't know what I'm being made into, doesn't mean the final product won't be worth it. Or so the theory goes....;) (As the tile saw fires up, I'm not so sure. Then again, my BATHROOM is shaping up beautifully and we are fallible humans.)

In her latest book, Blue Like Play Dough, Tricia Goyer shares her struggles as a mother, her smooshing, her mashing, her crunchy crumbs of floor lint, as God molds her life into something beautiful. It is transparent and lovely.

Read an excerpt here.

About the book: In the everyday stretch and squeeze of motherhood, Tricia Goyer often feels smooshed by the demands of life. In Blue Like Play Dough, she shares her unlikely journey from rebellious, pregnant teen to busy wife and mom with big dreams of her own. As her story unfolds, Tricia realizes that God has more in store for her than she has ever imagined possible.

Sure, life is messy and beset by doubts. But God keeps showing up in the most unlikely places–in a bowl of carrot soup, the umpteenth reading of Goodnight Moon, a woe-is me teen drama, or play dough in the hands of a child.

In Tricia’s transparent account, you’ll find understanding, laughter, and strength for your own story. And in the daily push and pull, you’ll learn to recognize the loving hands of God at work in your life… and know He has something beautiful in mind.

A note from Tricia: Are you a mommy who feels squeezed by Motherhood? Could God be shaping something beautiful in you?

In my new spiritual memoir, Blue Like Play Dough I invite women to discover the extraordinary in the ordinary! To learn to see God's hand lovingly at work in every aspect of your life---from laundry-folding to the umpteenth reading of Goodnight Moon.

And now I’m inviting YOU to come bring your stretched self and attend a fun Facebook Launch Party for Blue Like Play Dough! I know you’re busy (and tired) so I’m bringing the festivities to you! So grab your comfiest chair and slip away from that long To-Do list and join me for a two hour Play Dough Party. I’ll be sharing some of my mothering experiences (the good and the bad), hosting a fun trivia contest, giving away Mommy Play Dough Packs, answering questions, and getting to know YOU!

I’d be honored to have you as my guest – and to prove it I’ll be giving away 2 ginormous Mommy Play Dough Packs to two party attendees at random! The winners will be announced at the end of the party. Grab your friends and let’s party! oh, and don't forget your camera! Snap pictures during the party and upload them during the festivities. I'll be giving a prize away for the best photo!

So come join me on July 27th from 5-7 pm (PST)! Friend me on facebook and join the fun!

About the author: Using her own experiences as a teen mother, and leader of today’s generation, Tricia’s vision is to be a voice of hope and possibility for teenage girls, pregnant teen girls, mothers and wives through her educational and inspirational speaking, workshops and books. Her intention is to serve ordinary women by encouraging extraordinary things with God’s help. Tricia expresses real life, real hope, for real women.

Tricia is the author of 20+ books and has published over 300 articles for national publications such as Guideposts for Kids, Focus on the Family, Christian Parenting Today, Today’s Christian Woman and HomeLife Magazine. She won Historical Novel of the Year in 2005 and 2006 from American Christian Fiction Writers, and was honored with the Writer of the Year award from Mt. Hermon Writer's Conference in 2003. Tricia's book Life Interrupted was a finalist for the Gold Medallion Book Award in 2005.

In her fiction novels, Tricia writes contemporary and historical stories that feature strong women overcoming great challenges. She recreates historic wartime eras with precise detail through perseverant and comprehensive research.

Each of her World War II and Spanish Civil War novels tell the inspiring stories of engaging characters—and a God whose hand is evident in the landscape of history and the obstacles of ordinary lives.

Tricia speaks to groups interested in these eras, with the intention of preserving and honoring the memory of the men and women who served.

She also speaks and conducts workshops for teens around the nation, and offers programs to assist teens and teen moms through Hope Pregnancy Ministries in Northwestern Montana, which she founded. Tricia is a frequent workshop presenter at the MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) International Convention.

See what other people are saying. Look here.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Reason 5,486,942 that I don't, and may not ever, homeschool

Those little things that children find so delightful, let's say, a hot can of Wild Cherry Pepsi, falling and exploding all the way up the walls of my cathedral ceiling entryway, all over the chandelier, all over the front door, all over the coats on the coat rack (because I haven't gotten around to putting them away and why bother this late in the game) and all over Eldest, Charming, Princess and myself (not to mention WASTING a perfectly good can of caffeine), all while looking for Charming's lamby which he cannot sleep without when I should be at the grocery store because I will have a ton of kids over tomorrow and have no kid friendly food, while a contractor (who happens to be a relative that I CARE what he thinks of me)is in the bathroom listening while I burst into tears, and knowing it is all my stupid fault....

I do not find delightful.

Listening to the recreations of the explosion...not going over well.

The analysis of why there was an explosion...makes me mad.

The delight in the explosions and the inability to realize that mom could use help with ANYTHING and may not be happy about the explosion...


And that, my friends is why I don't homeschool. I did NOT turn it into a learning experience. I sent them to bed.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Do YOU have it all together?

I don't. The post after (before) this one will make that perfectly clear. Be glad I didn't say what I really think.

Caught up in the self-imposed pressure to do and be all the things they think a Christian woman ought to do and be, countless women are working desperately to convince everyone, including God, that they have it all together. Few have any idea that the Creator of the universe looks at them with delight even when they yell at the dog, drive a minivan littered with French fries, or think bad words about that rude clerk at the store.

A Perfect Mess offers hope to every woman who yearns for a vibrant relationship with God but worries she isn’t good enough or doesn’t do enough to merit His affection. With characteristic authenticity, speaker and author Lisa Harper shares poignant stories from her own imperfect life to showcase the real-life relevancy of the Bible in the lives of modern women.

As she guides readers on a story-driven journey through selected Psalms, they will be inspired to experience for themselves how God’s incomparable love transforms the messiness of life into a gorgeous work of grace.

Lisa Harper is a master storyteller whose lively approach connects the dots between the Bible era and modern life. She is a sought-after Bible teacher and speaker whose upcoming appearances include the national Women of Faith Conferences. A veteran of numerous radio and television programs and the author of several books, she also is a regular columnist for Today’s Christian Woman magazine. Lisa recently completed a master’s of theological studies from Covenant Theological Seminary. She makes her home outside Nashville.

I am singularly unimpressed with my children's behavior this morning.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Charming, Isn't He?

My two-year-old just put together a 24 piece puzzle (not one of those wooden puzzles, a real, honest to goodness, gotta think to do it puzzle) by his SELF.

Then "break it" danced upon it, slipped and bloodied his mouth.

Just when I'm thinking he's brilliant.

Friday, July 10, 2009

An Interview with Andrea Sisco

Andrea Sisco is a dear friend of mine (and it's her BIRTHDAY!) and therefore I simply cannot give an unbiased review of her first offering to the bibliophiles among us. Besides, she got some slick coverage from big names. Who cares what I think? Instead, I am giving her unlimited space to give her own biased notions about why you will want to buy her book. And if her heroine is remotely as funny and interesting as Andrea is, I’m certain you’ll love her book. Besides, Kirkus and Booklist likes her. Why wouldn’t the rest of us?

So, Andrea, tell us about your book.

My debut novel, A Deadly Habit: A Penelope Santucci Mystery, will be released July 17, 2009 from Five Star. I enjoy reading mysteries and used my background as a former probation officer for a large metropolitan area as the vehicle for solving a murder. My author website is:

Penelope Santucci is a young probation officer in a large metropolitan city. She's married, but separated from her hot-shot attorney husband. She finds his body while trying to "save" her possessions and knows the police will look at her for the murder. She's a bit (does mule give you a picture?) head-strong and compulsive and likes to get things done—her way. She doesn't trust the police to do their job (they want her for the murder) so she's going to solve the crime herself, except she's just not into solving the case by herself. So she enlists the help of the parish priest from her old neighborhood and of course her sister, Germaine (who is a nun) rides shotgun. And that causes some problems with her religious order. She’s due for some serious restrictions in whom she hangs with. It's Pen's wild ride in the search for justice. She wants to stay out of prison. Stripes make her look hippy and all those carbs just add so much unwanted weight. And she has issues with bloating.

But when I think about it, it’s really a book about characters. Most of the characters are a bit "out" there and I love that about them. It was fun developing their personalities.

Father Daniel Kopecky is a parish priest. He's semi-retired (which means he rambles about the parish and occasionally gives communion and helps out as needed). He knew Pen when she was a kid. She would dress as a nun and give her confession (the little drama queen, wanna-be Catholic). He helped her get through life in the "neighborhood." He's a sweet man and wants to help which in Pen's world means he will be joining her on her felonious and wild ride in search of justice. That's a Pen rule. In for a penny, in for a pound.

Sister Germaine is Pen's older sister (and a nun). Ma worked and Germaine took care of Pen when they were children and she's still minding Pen's business… She's the character with the most growth in the book. I like Germaine. She's level-headed, but can have a good time and there's a tiny spark of rebel in her. Hanging around with Pen will help it grow or send her to the asylum.

Marco Silva is Pen’s attorney (he was pressed into servitude by the good Father). He’s Latin and frankly looks like the cover of a Romance novel. Think young Jimmy Smits (I do). He has his hands full with Penelope (the uncooperative client) and literally falls for her (well, it is a fall into a grave and Penelope just happens to be in the grave, lying on top of a casket). He’s not sure how he’s going to survive Pen, but he knows Father Daniel owes him, big time.

I really like Stephanie (the dead guy's former mistress). She's a treat. Not! To say she lacks a sense of humor would be mild. Her severity continues right into her wardrobe and hairstyle. And she pouts. Neither Pen (nor I) can abide pouting.

Pen's mother (known as Ma) is really fun, but may be overlooked a bit. She's never seen on stage and probably never will be because she’s such a tiger off stage. Her appearances are only via phone or answering machine. She's the queen of bad taste, the cruise director of Pen's life. She doesn't like the photo the police have of Pen so she offers the authorities a better one! That’s Ma.

I used to have a friend who wanted to be a nun. She went to the Baptist Church with me all summer. Comments? No, don’t comment on that. She also had a boyfriend that I’m pretty sure she considered marrying. What is it about nuns that are so fascinating, anyway? Maybe the better question is, what on earth made you write about a woman faking nunship? How does a person dream up these things?

I grew up wanting to be a nun and practiced it. The opening scene has flashes from my own life. I used to dress in bed sheets and share my confession with those who would listen. And those that wouldn’t? Well I keep score, just like Pen.

I took my desire to be a nun and said, what if? The opening is in an old confessional in a Catholic church in Northeast Minneapolis (an actual neighborhood in an area that still boasts of various ethnic enclaves) and the scene becomes a who’s on first? (from the old comedy routine.

For me nuns were mysterious. They were, well, I have a difficult time breathing when I even attempt to describe a nun. I graduated from a Catholic girls college (the only protestant in my class probably) and I must confess that I entered the nuns living quarters on more than one occasion, just to look around (I was not stalking, I was lurking and yes, it was probably a felony—thank goodness for statute of limitation. I was shocked that they had televisions, stereos, comfy quilts and well, their apartments looked just like any other home. But I thought they were probably holy and I did hang around long because I just couldn’t think up a reason to be there that would stick if I were caught.

I think I have a fertile imagination and I see the world like a film. And I comment internally and it all goes from there. But nuns are the best. I want to continue to write about them. Besides mysterious, they are the unsung workers of faith. My hat is off to them all (except the one who smacked me across the legs because I had my feet on a table in the commons area in college—her, well I have special dreams about her).

Are you just over the moon seeing your book in print?


I’m so blessed. Honestly, to think that I sold my first book at age 60 and it will be released just after my 62nd birthday. I could cry and scream and jump up and down (oh, I did that already).

I don’t know if I have any Minnesota readers besides present company, but do you have signings or launches to which you’d like to invite people?

My big launch is 7/30 at 7:00 p.m. at Once Upon A Crime bookstore in Minneapolis. It is my favorite independent bookstore and Pat and Gary have honored me by inviting me to sign there. Check out their website at They ship and have really great stock and old stuff also.

I’m doing other signings later but feel that radio, newspaper, television, blogs, websites, etc. are really the place to get out the information.

Signings are difficult for me. What if no one came? Well, I’d be embarrassed (but the introvert part of me would say “Yippee”).

Is there anything else you’d like to tell us?

My friends are coming to my launch and that’s awesome in this day and age where everyone is so busy. My husband who travels the world (and has authored 29 books) will skip business (in this economy) just to support me and be there. My son is traveling from NY (he’s an actor and author) to be there as are several other of my children and my 82 year old mother will be there. She is the reason that I love books, love to write (any talent I have came from her) and guided me in my faith journey. Does it get any better than that? I only wish my father could be there, but I know he knows. God is good and I’m blessed. I’d like to bring my puppy Sophie but it’s probably not a good idea. She would get all the attention and well, it’s all about me this time. Oh, she’s potty trained, but we’re still in the trust but verify mode.

I wrote a book that I wanted to write. I contemplated writing for the faith market, but decided the secular market could use a fun, clean book. There are sinners, of course, but they learn from their mistakes (Pen is a difficult case).

And thank you Jamie! You are the child of my heart!

Oh, and remember to visit me at and for reviews and interviews with your favorite authors and maybe some new ones, visit me at

Is this the most boring interview you’ve ever done?

No! But I will tell you about the most boring one I ever did… Actually it wasn’t someone who interviewed me, it was an interview I did when I hosted a television program in Minneapolis. I interviewed authors and some really big ones. One just didn’t get it. No matter how open ended my questions were, she would find a way to answer yes or no. Her pauses were huge and she made me sweat (and like Pen I don’t like to sweat—I don’t even like to glisten). I had to stop the tape and explain that she either answered in sentences or the interview was over. For those of you who are thinking she was terrified, that wasn’t it. She was just a bad interview. She’s become much better over the years. I haven’t interviewed her again as I haven’t recovered from the first one.


Andrea Sisco has had an eclectic career as a probation officer, television host, flight attendant, book reviewer, and adoption activist. The charge that the character of Penelope Santucci is autobiographical is only partially true. It is true, however, that her husband consented to his murder, but only if it took place of the pages of a book. She has kept her promise.

Andrea is the co-founder of, a web site that reviews books and interviews authors. A Deadly Habit is her first mystery. She is currently coauthoring a Young Adult Fantasy series. Her website for A Deadly Habit is Andrea and her husband, Bob Pike reside in Minnesota and Arizona with their Shih Tzu, Sophie.

Reviews from two of the big four:

Kirkus Review- in their 6-15-09 issue.

This title will publish in July 2009


Author: Sisco, Andrea

Review Date: JUNE 15, 2009
Publisher:Five Star
Pages: 316
Price (hardback): $$25.95
Publication Date: 7/17/2009 0:00:00
ISBN: 978-1-59414-795-1
ISBN (hardback): 978-1-59414-795-1
Category: FICTION
Classification: MYSTERY

When she finds her husband murdered, a probation officer who's been planning divorce must make other plans.

As she tells Father Daniel Kopecky, the old friend she confesses to even though she isn't Catholic, Penelope Santucci didn't kill her philandering husband Paul Preston, a criminal attorney in both senses of the term. She just stumbled on his corpse after she broke into his house to grab some of her possessions before he could boost them. Father Kopecky is willing to give her the benefit of the doubt, Sgt. Clifford Masters of Minneapolis Homicide somewhat less so. When he shows up at her apartment to ask questions, Pen skedaddles. Sisco's debut is less a mystery than a chase/adventure with both eyes focused like a laser on Stephanie Plum. Pen has a nose for trouble, an overbearing mother, bad luck with the men who flit through her life, self-esteem issues, enough resilience to bounce back from repeated beatings by goons seeking Paul's ill-gotten gains, and a habit of running her mouth, though her irrepressible repartee is mostly PG. Her insouciant lack of self-control takes her from Paul's interment, where his current mistress shoves her into his grave, to a convent, a law office and a judge's chambers, most of which she's entered under false pretenses.

Precious little detection, but the energy level never dips below the red zone. Fans who want something to read during the three months per year that lack a new Janet Evanovich title may have found their fix.

Booklist Review- in their 7-1-09 issue.

This title will publish in July 2009


Advanced Review – Uncorrected Proof Issue: July 1, 2009

A Deadly Habit. Sisco, Andrea (Author) Jul 2009. 316 p. Five Star, hardcover, $25.95. (9781594147951).

Meet Penelope “Pen” Santucci, 27-year-old Minneapolis probation officer, estranged wife, and murder suspect. When she breaks into her house to get some belongings (because her husband, attorney Paul Preston, changed the locks after they separated), Pen finds Paul’s body and envisions herself, the soon-to-be ex-wife, in a prison jumpsuit. For help, she turns to Father Daniel Kopecky, the neighborhood parish priest to whom she made exaggerated childhood confessions even though she wasn’t Catholic, and to her sister, Germaine, who converted to Catholicism and became a nun. Pen has soon involved these two people of the cloth in various felonies while trying to avoid conviction. Meanwhile, she uncovers mounds of dirt about Paul, including the fact that a sizable number of people wanted him dead. Pen, who seems to be an equally smart-mouthed but less-disciplined version of Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum, may exasperate some readers with her flightiness; still, the religious angle adds interest, and Sisco’s deft storytelling, slick prose, and well-crafted characters should win a following for this smart and sassy new series. — Michele Leber

Nail Polish

When your toe nails have been fire engine red for the entire summer, bubble gum pink looks completely juvenile. Must repaint.

(Yes, I have noticed that my blogs have become the length of tweets and facebook status reports.)

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Food and Dishes

My days have completely broken down to a single, recurring, thought:

What can I cook for [the next meal], out of ingredients that I already have, that uses the least number of dishes?

Wednesday, July 08, 2009


I have now figured out the target age group for infomercials.

Six and eight year olds.

My kids' entire dinnertime conversation revolved around the "dual saw." It apparently has two blades (thus the duo), can cut both directions, can cut a car in half, is light, firemen use it to get dead people out of cars (and then she woke up!), and is only $10 (you mean four easy payments of $10? No, only $10), and you can use it free for 14 days.

How long did you watch this commercial?

About 20 minutes.

And a lady built a dog house in only one day. It was, like, the size of this table.

And now you know what the kids do while Mom takes a much needed nap. And FYI, I gave them permission to watch Noggin or PBS. They chose PBS. Wherein they advertised the Dual Saw.


What is up with all these people I have never heard of following me on Twitter? Am I Oprah? Why would you want to follow someone you don't know and don't know anything about? I'm confused.

Out of the Mouths of Babes

Charming is oozing in cuteness this morning. He's putting together a "Tonning" puzzle (Thomas the Tank Engine). On this puzzle is a "welicoper" (that would be Harold the helicopter) and "the Hat" (Sir Topham Hat). He just told Eldest, "I'm your whacker" (which means he pounds the puzzle piece in once Eldest puts it where it goes because they are boys and can't do anything gently).

They are now working on another puzzle, "Not Tonning. Normal choo-choo."

He came busting into our room this morning yelling, "all done night-night."

A minute ago, he was bringing me peg puzzle pieces, telling me what they are including "boat." I asked, "Is there anything you don't know the word for?" His daddy said, "No, Mama." And I said, "viscosity." And he said, "choo-choo."


Tuesday, July 07, 2009


At what point in my life did I grow out of this? (Bleh) And how did I not notice?

Here's hoping pop goes the same way.

Monday, July 06, 2009

Whip-Lash (from Allie Pleiter)

Teenagers are the whip-lash of parenting.

I think there’s another age when they’re like this, but with 13 and 17-year-olds in my house, I’ve blocked it out.

Teenagers have many advantages. They come to you in the middle of the night and tell you they’ve just gotten sick. Which they’ve done in the bathroom. Where sickness ought to happen. And they inform you it’s happened, not get sick ON you--a distinction for which I am eternally grateful.

On the other hand, they roll eyes to masterful effect. NO ONE on the planet can make you feel un-cooler than a teenager. Even if you the absolute coolest Mom in the universe, your teens will find you an endless source of mortification.

People often ask my kids, “Aren’t you proud of your mother the published author?” Now, these people are obviously not parents, because no parent would subject another mother to the certain outcome of that question. Which is, in my case, a vacant and an oh-so-bored-with-it expression. Usually accompanied by various forms of “no” or “not really,” or, on a good day “I suppose” (said with the requisite obligatory tone).

Then again, the other day, my 17-yr old daughter bounced around the kitchen all affectionate and adorable and pronounced, “You know, my friends think you’re so cool.”

Yep, that’s me, the cool mom. Told you. Maybe for only one day out of seven, but I’ll take those odds.

Life, it seems, is the ability to take what’s thrown at us. Roller-coaster emotions, medical emergencies, interpersonal trauma, projectile vomiting (no pun intended). We teach our kids about life by handling life right in front of them. I live in hope that one day, whist enduring the slings and arrows of my outrageous future grandchildren, my kids think back and wonder, “Can I handle this as well as Mom did?” Fantasy, I know, but leave me to my delusion.

My heroine Dinah goes through a lot of parental trauma in BLUEGRASS BLESSINGS. The whiplash--you’ll discover if you haven’t already--goes both ways. Eldercare has as many land-mines as parenting. It has as many blessings, too. Dinah discovers hers where she least expected them. That’s my hope for all of us.

An avid knitter, coffee junkie, and devoted chocoholic, Allie Pleiter writes both fiction and non-fiction. The enthusiastic but slightly untidy mother of two, Allie spends her days writing books, doing laundry, running carpools, and finding new ways to avoid housework. She grew up in Connecticut, holds a BS in Speech from Northwestern University, spent fifteen years in the field of professional fundraising, and currently lives in suburban Chicago, Illinois. The “dare from a friend” to begin writing nine years ago has given rise to a career spanning two parenting books, six novels including the multi-nominated MY SO-CALLED LOVE LIFE, and various national speaking engagements on faith, women’s issues, and writing. Visit her website at or her knitting blog at



ISBN 13#: 978-0-373-87538-2

Everyone in Middleburg, Kentucky lines up for baker Dinah Hopkins’s cinnamon rolls. Everyone except her handsome new landlord, Cameron Rollings. The jaded city man doesn’t like anything about small-town life--from the fresh air to her fresh-baked snickerdoodles. And he clearly considers Dinah as quirky as her eccentric oven. The way to Cameron’s heart is not through his toned stomach. But the Lord led him to Kentucky Corners for a reason. And Dinah plans to help him count his bluegrass blessings.

Sunday, July 05, 2009

having an incredibly difficult time with envy.

I thought it would get better once the Malawi team got home.

It got worse.

It's almost suffocating.