Sunday, April 30, 2006

Reluctant Burglar and other stuff

I've been reviewing long enough now that I'm starting to form an opinion on the format of pre-release books that I like. Multnomah and Integrity send out those big spiral bound monstrosities and Bethany House the one that looks like a book, sort of. Every one else I've done sent the completed book even when it wasn't out yet.

I kinda like the monstrosities. Funny, huh? You can just whip it around and leave it open. No bookmark, no dog ears and it garners attention.

Yes, I am important. I do get to read books before you common people.

I sat in a coffee shop with Reluctant Burglar, Jill Elizabeth Nelson's debut novel for something like three and a half hours yesterday. Sure, everyone else in there was typing away on their laptops, but I'm sure they were coveting my book.

I've waited a long time to read this book. I've been in ACFW for just over a year now and on the "loop" I get email from Jill. Not personal, mind you, but they are written by her. And her sig line has this list of books that she's written. When Armchair sent out the list of Multnomah books that needed a review this month I jumped on that one. Lucky me, I was sitting at the computer when the email came through. Otherwise I'd never have gotten it. You gotta move fast with all those bibliophiles on the loose (back off, people, it's mine!). I can't tell you how many great books I've missed out on because I wasn't at my computer at the right time.

So, Reluctant Burglar. Have I mentioned how I don't read Romantic Suspense usually? I ALWAYS know who did it in the first five chapters. ALWAYS. And of course the girl gets the guy. It is usually the guy she hates at the beginning (Okay, so Jill held to this mold). So you know that neither of them will die. It is just fact. And usually the bad guy, the one who ties up all the loose ends in the second to last chapter? He's the non-hero guy who has been painted as the good guy the rest of the book. All the rest of the guys mentioned are bad. Bad guy, bad guy, hero, bad guy, good guy. The good guy "dunnit." Not so. Kudos Jill. If I give you all the other reasons why you'll never expect it, you'd expect it, so I won't. But I will say, I was quite satisfied. She even got my blood pumping.

So, that said. I hope that when book two comes out in my email I'm sitting in front of the computer. I may just like Romantic Suspense, after all.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Who is the Saddest?

Today I took my almost-three-year-old out to buy a G.I. Joe. Which of course no one carries. Apparently it is more politically correct to carry monsters, demons and terrorists in the action figure aisle than it is to carry an Army Man. But, as usual, that isn't my rant--even if it should be. Okay, I'll rant a little longer. What kind of country do we live in that our little boys can't have a hero that isn't a freak? I mean, come one!

Shake it off, Jamie.

So, he was going to get the GI Joe because he quit sucking his thumb. Yes, I resort to bribery. It works. There is a reason that parents use it. I've been bribing his sister with a Barbie for quite a while. He decided he'd quit sucking his thumb for a Barbie even if his sister wouldn't. I said that was okay with me. Hey, I figured I could buy him a Ken doll and still be telling the truth. Besides, I didn't figure that he'd actually quit. But he did. And his daddy said that Ken was out and GI Joe was the ticket.

But no one sells GI Joe.

Any-hoo....he carried his lamby into the store. Other mommy's will recognize the fated words lovey, blankie, maybe binky? I knew better. He knew better. He always loses it in the store and I charge around the store looking until I find it.

More than once today I looked down to find it perched over the rails of the cart, rescued it from certain doom and stuck it where I thought it was safe. It was not safe.

For more time than we were in the store shopping, I tore around the place looking for the lamby getting more and more irate. Growing hotter. Fuming. Both figuratively and literally. Finally, he said "sorry mom, I wost my wammy."

"Oh, you'll be sorry alright. You'll be sorry when you have to go to bed and you don't have it because for once someone walked by and threw it in the trash and you won't have it anymore." By now I'm crying.

The child didn't shed a tear. The child who has gone into hysterics over the lamby. That can't possible sleep without the lamby. He announced to his daddy over dinner, "I wost my wammy and they throw it in the trash."

He didn't even ask for it at bedtime. I still want to cry. I wanted to save it for him. Sniff. Sniff.

But of course he doesn't need it. He no longer sucks his thumb. If only it would work for his sister.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

I Am From

I first saw this on Mary's blog and had to do it myself. Update here: I first linked to Mary's new I am from post, but you gotta read her original one here.

I Am From...

I am from sawdust, from Chevy and wet cement handprints.

I am from the gray brick ranch surrounded by wheat fields and sprouting houses and tarantulas marching down the street.

I am from pink hued petunias by the front porch, the breath of new lilac on the fierce spring wind.

I am from banging pots at the New Year, from Santa’s kicking legs in the chimney, NOEL and the winter wonderland even when there was no snow, and blue eyes, from Lynn and Charlotte and Devon and Amy.

I am from the smell of coffee wafting out of the yellow cup at four AM on the road to New Iberia and from brown bananas in front of “Ragget Ears.”

From “don’t bug your sister” and “you can drink water.”

I am from “For God so loved the world…” and church every Sunday and Wednesday at Emmanuel whether we wanted to go or not.

I’m from Liberal and Scotland and the Prince of Orange, goulash and tuna noodle casserole.

From the javelin thrown farther than the Germans would believe, from the umbrella it slashed, and the statement, “I’m thared of Thanta Clauth.”

I am from cardboard boxes on the top shelf of the closet that hold the photos of the moments of our lives. Of Mom caught on camera behind the tree again and feathered hair and graduation caps where future melds with past in a thing called love.

Best Mom Ever

...and how that was short lived.

So last week, about Wednesday, I took my kids to Wal-Mart to pick up some Claritin--very important stuff in the Spring. We had to walk past about fifteen carts full of clearance Easter stuff at 50% off. My son wanted to spend his money on one of those pre-filled baskets. I okayed it. Then he decided he wanted a bigger basket with bigger jets in it. He didn't have the money for that one. Big disagreement. Declared "unfair." Even though I explained, patiently, that the transforming jets basket was only $5 and the big jet basket was $10 and he only had $5 (and should be thankful that I would cover the tax).

Fast forward to Friday. I went to Wal-Mart again for something else (Wal-Mart is superclose to my house). Baskets are now marked down to 75% off therefore the big jet basket is now $5 and I point that out (see son, how patience is a virtue and works out for good?).

He decides he wants the transforming jets instead. How about that? His sister also wants a basket which I let her pick out. But I can't really let the two of them have one and not let the three year old (with no concept of money except that his siblings and parents like it so it must be good) have one. When we get to the check out counter I pay. My eldest son keeps trying to pay and I tell him it is a gift.

Declared for the rest of the morning, "You are the Best Mom Ever."

How I wish he could remember that today. But I'll revel in my glorious, though short lived, title.

Monday, April 24, 2006

Organizational Envy

As promised, Allie Pleiter, author of Queen Esther & the Second Graders of Doom and Bad Heiress Day, is guest blogging for me. And she is much more humorous. Or is it just that anyone's problems are funnier than my own?

Without further ado...HEEEEERRRRRRE'S Allie!

She walked in with a color-coded computerized calendar.

Now, that’s no news to me, I’m addicted to my computerized calendar. I’m the queen of time management. A consummate list-maker. I prioritize. I live for timetables and spreadsheets.

But hers had colors. One for each family member. Oooo…

Hypnotized, I drew closer. I’m reasonably sure I even “ooo”ed and “ah”ed. I asked her how she did it, and resisted the impulse to take notes as she told me the simple instructions.

It’s amazing, isn’t it, how quickly we can crave an improvement? Even if organization was already a strength of mine, I was astounded at her “superiority” and how much I wanted it. And boy, I wanted it.

Entire industries are built on women’s ability to do this. In our area, we have a whole chain or stores devoted entirely to organization. Not that this is a bad thing, but it’s scary how easily I can be convinced that a product is just the thing to solve my organizational problem. That the end of chaos is just the right gadget away. Did I really need a saltine keeper? Or did just the concept of ever-crispy crackers lure me with its promise of better housekeeping?

It’s a false promise. If I were really committed to better housekeeping, I’d dust more than once a year. I’d clean my fridge before it resembled a science project. I’d own shelf liners and you couldn’t feed a small nation off what you’d find beneath my couch cushions.

Am I tackling any of these much-needed tasks this morning? Nope. I’m sitting at my laptop, spending a few hours trying to color-code my schedule. Because sometimes, “cool” is so much cooler than “clean.”

Enthusiastic but slightly untidy mother of two, Allie Pleiter writes both fiction and non-fiction. An avid knitter, harp player, and non-reformed chocoholic, she spends her days writing books, doing laundry, running carpools, and finding new ways to avoid housework. Allie grew up in Connecticut, holds a BS in Speech from Northwestern University, spent 15 years in the field of professional fundraising, and currently lives in suburban Chicago, Illinois. The "dare from a friend" to begin writing eight years ago has blossomed into a career that includes numerous public speaking engagements, two books on parenting; BECOMING A CHIEF HOME OFFICER and FACING EVERY MOM'S FEARS, and four novels: BAD HEIRESS DAY and QUEEN ESTHER AND THE SECOND GRADERS OF DOOM out now, MY SO-CALLED LOVE LIFE coming in August, and THE PERFECT BLEND in 2007. She has been married for 15 years, is the mother of two children and, most recently, a Havanese dog named Bella. Visit her website at

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Queen Esther & the Second Graders of Doom

I know what you're thinking. At least I was. No she isn't a teacher. Not in the traditional sense. She teaches Sunday school which presents its own special set of circumstances. At least I assume so.

Can I just say this book is hilarious?

Not your traditional mom-lit. At least the mom-lit I've read. Most mom-lit out there has mothers of teenagers. (Actually Allie has one of those too--Bad Heiress Day--you should check it out)Or the standard working woman juggling house and job. But Queen Essie (Okay Allie, fess came up with this AFTER too many renditions of Veggies didn't you?) is my kind of gal. She sarcastic, but not acidic. She's feisty,but not mean. Her husband has his moments, her kid does as well. Well, there is the ear infection thing. I'm one of the have nots--thank you Jesus!--so I don't get it, but I know many who will.

No, just a regular young mom, doing her part and teaching Sunday school to a bunch of bratty kids (age appropriate behavior, of course) and dealing with their bratty, ahem, I mean obsessive moms. And she comes to care for the kids, AND their moms. And there are nifty side stories about returning to work, all or nothing personalities, and breast cancer. All good stuff. Not preachy, just real. REAL, people.

And the author, Allie Pleiter, is guest blogging for me on Tuesday. Come on back. She's got some great things to say.

On another note, guess who is the best mother ever? I'll tell ya all about it later this week.

Friday, April 21, 2006

The Doubt Sets In

I'm so frustrated I could cry and it's not because I just sat down on a wet toilet seat (when will I learn?).

No, the thing is, I know that I'm supposed to have another baby. I'm pretty sure I'm supposed to adopt her. Or maybe this is my own evil desires overriding my obedience. But there is no money to pay for this adoption as far as I know. Under those circumstances, it seems that agencies and international are out. Which leaves foster care. Which practically eliminates infants in Kansas at least.

You know, back before we were married we had a plan. We agreed on this plan. It was a good plan. The plan didn't happen. Instead of the plan--marry, get pregnant, graduate (college), have baby, have three more babies, when babies are in middle school adopt a sibling group, have large, colorful family--instead of that we got what we got. Marry, fail to get pregnant, graduate, hear hints that we should get pregnant, call foster system, get told off (too young, too stupid(okay she didn't use the word stupid, but she insinuated it)), get pregnant, miscarry, again, minor fertility testing (ovulating (duh)), find agency, wait, find another agency, wait, get call , get another call, get another call, actually get baby, get another call (other agency), get pregnant, have baby, finalize adoption, get pregnant.

Now, six years later I want to jump back into the system, except the first time we did this was in 2000. Do you remember the stock market in Y2K? Let's specify that, do you remember the stock market in March of Y2K? We made a lot of money. We lost a lot in April, but March was good and so was God and we managed to get enough out to pay the fees.

Yes, I know about the tax credit. The thing about tax credits, at least the adoption tax credit is that you have to actually owe the government the money to get it credited back to you. Did I mention we haven't made a lot lately? Enough to live on and a little extra, but not exactly $10K credit worthy (yes I know it can come over several years).

Part of the problem is we want a baby, a girl baby, a brown girl baby. We aren't picky or anything. Sigh.

Only God.

I just wish He'd let me in on the secret of how she is coming, because I'm out of ideas.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Dove Unconditional Chocolate Ice Cream, a Poem

How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.
I love thee when my son attempts to behead his brother with a garage door.
I love thee when my heart recovers its normal rhythm.
I love thee when my husband has left for yet another business trip.
I love thee when I hear wretched news.
I love thee when my confusion overwhelms my brain.
I love thee when my stomach grumbles.
I love the caress of your ganache on my tongue.
I love the hug of your creamy goodness across my lips.
I love the fullness of your chunks.
I love each and every one of your eighteen fat grams.
I love that your taste lasted through bedtime.
I love that I could remember you while reading The Dawn Treader yet again.
I love that one coffee-spoon-full will stave my craving.
I love that you wait frozen for me.
I love that you care not whether I final.
I love that you caught my eye at the store, even before I knew I would weep.
Above all, my Dove Unconditional Chocolate Ice Cream, above all,
I'll love you forever if you will just ignore the siren call of my hips.

Too Much Stuff

I have too much stuff. And I have plenty of excuses. Here they are.

I live in a place that experiences all four seasons.

That means four seasons of clothes. Or more like six. We have warm, hot, cool, cold, super cold (two weeks a year, but one must be prepared), and super hot (this one lasts about a month for me). My closets are bursting. Yes, I really only need one or two thick fleece shirt things for the super cold, but I stare at them all the rest of the year, hating them and wondering if I could get away without them. (I'm always glad they are there the next year.)

That means four seasons of bedding, for five people. It requires a minimum of flannel sheets, down comforter, electric blanket, high thread count Egyptian cotton sheets and silk sheets for me (just because I'm a silk kind of girl). Because I birth my babies at home, and on the off chance that I should get pregnant again I have to keep a minimum of two extra sets that are designated "birthing sheets."

I have two genders of children.

That means that I must keep everything that could possibly fit the younger version of the older. I have finally given up on the girl stuff. For one, my daughter went through toddlerhood in the flare leg era and by the time girl number two (from whence we have yet found out that she will come) comes through, I have little doubt that those will be hideously out of date. But I still keep a ridiculous number of boy things. Plus I garage sale, so I buy ahead at least one season and usually four. I mean sales happen in summer and so I really NEED to buy for summer, fall, winter, spring and next summer, right?

That means two genders (and two ethnicities) of toys. Yes, they cross play. My boys play with dolls, my girl plays with cars and trains, heck, my pink girl plays with brown boy dolls, and my brown boy plays with pink girl dolls, that's just the way we are. Regardless, double genders still means more toys because they really do prefer different things no matter what the sociologists try to tell us.

No one thinks I should "fling boogie" their stuff.

Granted it happens, but it is usually followed by, "Honey, where is my......?" and "You aren't getting rid of that are you?" and "But I love this shirt that is too small for me!"

Did I mention that I garage sale?

I never knew I needed it until I found out that it was only a dime. Or until I accidentally found a set of books for 20 dollars that I ebayed for closer to 400. Now I wonder if I can ebay lots of things and unless they are books (and sometimes if they are) they rarely get ebayed. I have overcome this particular problem but I still have a little residual effect.

Yes, I've heard of Flylady. Yes, she does work, as long as I do. But a lot of my problem would not be helped by flinging, it would just make me broke because I'd have to re-buy it.


Update: I neglected to mention shoes. Snow boots, rain boots, sneakers, church shoes, sandals for play, sandals for church. And silverware for my fantacy baby. As if I couldn't buy one pack of the rediculously priced stuff should fantacy baby arrive.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

The Robins, One More Time

So, she builds up what looks like a nest and the next time I pass, it has all come down. She works again (I do actually see her dropping twigs and grass into the crevice) and next time I pass it is all down. I remember this from last year, but it didn't seem to last quite this long.

I had a hunch that she just needed a couple days of quiet (no kids tearing in and out of the front door) to get her to finish the nest and lay her eggs. Considering we would all be out of the house for four days last weekend I thought I'd come home to a nest with four blue eggs.

Not so. I came home to nothing. Huh, guess she changed her mind....

Anyway, yesterday morning I walked out and overnight she'd built up the whole crevice and was beginning to mud in the round portion of her nest. And then? Two hours later, she'd knocked it all down.

Meanwhile, there is a massive nest building taking place over our back porch light that I didn't know about. I discovered it mid-morning.

There is a lot of grass, hay, horse-hair, man-hair, stuffing, straw (anyone read THE BEST NEST? Cute.) that gets dropped under the nest site in the nest building process. I discovered the nest because of the pile of junk that my kids almost got in trouble for. I ignored this particular nest because I think it is doomed, but (shrug) no one told the bird.

So, remember when my son ran through the back door? Well, it left the screen portion curled up obnoxiously. And the second aforementioned robin decided to incorporate it into her nest. I pushed open the door and down came nest all over me.

I don't think it dissuaded her one iota.

So this morning, robin number one built up the crevice again and tore it down again. Robin two has not yet incorporated the screen into her nest today but it is still precariously perched over the halogen light that angles down.

I have a feeling that these robins are not meant to procreate. Darwin awards anyone?

Monday, April 17, 2006

Two Moments in Time

Seven months ago I was in a hurry. I had a plane to catch. I was running late. And I NEEDED two things from Wal-Mart. Dressed in high heels, I ran across the parking lot and into the store where I found the two things I needed and ran to the "speedy" twenty-items or less lane. There was only one lady in front of me and she had two things also. One of those pink rubber bracelet things and a pair of white socks with the pink awareness ribbon on them.

"I'm in luck," I thought, "in, out and on my way."

No such luck. The cashier saw what the lady was purchasing and they opened this obnoxiously long dialogue about breast cancer and awareness and walks they had participated in and products they could purchase and blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. (See you thought I was a whacko because I still remembered what she bought, but you would too, wouldn't you?) I was about to pull out my hair. I HAD A PLANE TO CATCH! THIS WAS THE SPEEDY LANE! DIDN'T THEY KNOW I LOOKED FRANTIC TO GET OUT OF THERE? WHO STINKING CARES THAT YOU CAN BUY SO MUCH STUFF WITH PINK RIBBONS ON IT THESE DAYS?

A lady noticed my wild eyes and opened the next lane. I made my plane.

Fast forward to the end of February when my very calm, very protective older sister opened a phone call with something along the lines of, "I have some news that is probably nothing but...."

The next call said, "It's still probably nothing, but...."

The next call said, "It's bad news, but it's still good news..."

Breast cancer.

We are young. We are not supposed to have to face this ugly thing. And oh, it is ugly. A few weeks ago, when it was still "probably nothing" I said, "Cut 'em off, I'm not attached, now my husband....(chuckle, chuckle)."

I'm stupid.

Thankfully there are many many people out there who are not as stupid as I am. Those two ladies at Wal-Mart, for example. Or the clerk at Dillards who helped us find a well fitting bra and good camouflage (until the reconstruction is finished)this weekend. She walked right into the dressing room, didn't flinch at the scars and knew just what to do. (The 8 dollar smoothing pads doubled up work a lot better than the 50 dollar weighted silicone thingie.) And lets not forget the two people who have already donated to the 60 mile walk in my sister's name. I thank you.

Suddenly I find myself tearing up at every pink ribboned coin drop. Hopefully, my stupidity is over. But I wouldn't count on it.

If you would like to donate to breast cancer research, click here.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Separation Anxiety

I again had the moment that every mom dreams of and yet dreads. I packed my kids into the van, kissed them goodbye, and sent them to their grandma's.

And I'm weepy, why?

For days I've said I needed some time alone. I've had NONE. Not even at night. Even when one makes it through the night without invading my bed another takes a turn. I really needed a quiet night. But it was so unexpected.

I expected them to leave tomorrow, just after ice skating lessons. Not tonight before I even had a chance to experience separation anxiety. So when the decision was made, I had to compound twelve hours of emotion into less than 30 minutes.

Thankfully my "baby" awakened so that I could say a proper goodbye.

As I will now say to you. Back Monday.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

The Secret Life of Becky Miller

Think you have a rich fantasy life? I'd muster a guess that you've got nothing on Becky Miller. While most moms of preschoolers fantasize about visiting the restroom alone, Becky is dreaming about being Samurai (okay, she doesn't say that, but some kind of Asian body-guard), a race car driver, shipwrecked (with her kids--what's that about?) on a deserted island, saving the world, and exceedingly more. Yet in reality, Becky lives the mundane life of an at-home mom: over-committed, undervalued and often the target of explosive stomachs.

To quote Meredith Efken: mothers are mired in the "morass of the mundane." I love that. Though I think she is quoting an editor's rejection should ask her.

At face value, The Secret Life of Becky Miller seems to be mom-lit, and yet I didn't find myself laughing much. Don't get me wrong, I found a few chuckles...I particularly identified with chapter three, but I saw a little too much of myself in Becky (excepting possibly the too-good-to-be-true husband). Regardless, there is much value besides laughter within the book. Becky, like many of us, wants to do Big Things for God, and she has a pretty good idea of what she thinks that means. And, like most human effort, her good intentions crumble about her--whether or not her well-meaning church ladies spout the appropriate platitudes.

This is where I would ex-postulate on how much I HATE to be told "It's just a season!" Except this isn't all about me and my irritations.

I could really identify with Becky. My friends all seem to have their lives together. I often feel like mine is falling apart. And sometimes I fill my life up with things that I can accomplish and get recognition for rather than things that I'm supposed to do. The Secret Life of Becky Miller is a much more serious take on Christian motherhood than first glance will indicate. Don't go into it looking for a barrel of laughs (that is if you struggle with the same issues as Becky and I) but go into it expecting.

I'd quote my favorite line here, but there is a note on the title page that asks me not to quote this not final version. My paraphrase won't capture it, but let me say; it can be so much better than this if we will just get on God's boat instead of swimming in the unfulfilling mire of our own creation.

Visit Sharon Hinck's website for more info.

And while I'm talking about it, go pick up Captivating by Stasi Eldridge. I have spent my entire day crying over chapter six.

Mornings, How I Hate Them

It's my husband's fault. He's just loud. Actually, recently I've figured out that we all are loud people. I know this because I drove my niece and my daughter to go ice skating a couple weeks ago. My niece was sitting right behind me while my daughter was sitting in the far back row. I heard my daughter loud and clear. My niece? Couldn't hear a word. Not even when I told her to speak up. And no radio was on. She can be standing right in front of me and I can be looking at her mouth and have no clue what she is asking.

And I knew I yelled a lot. Not anger yelling (though I'm not immune) just "what do you want and why are your fighting again, and quit sitting on your sister's head." Would you walk across the backyard in your bare feet to tell them quietly when you could holler it from the back door? My neighbors probably think I'm crazy. Actually they know I'm crazy. They are all original occupants of our subdivision and chose to not have children so they could have vacations in Hawaii. How I can't wait until I get to go and can tell them so.

ANYWAY.....So my husband can not get up and showered and dressed in the morning without waking the house. He is incapable of dressing on the part of the floor that doesn't squeak. He's just loud. And the spring sunlight is trying so hard to filter its way through my blinds. And the birds are twitterpated and I just want to sleep until the kids get up. Which will be shortly because my husband doesn't know how to go down the stairs and skip the squeaky ones.

And I want to run screaming from the house in frustration.

Because the thing is, it isn't that the kids get up early. It's that if my husband sleeps in, so do the kids. Which makes it his fault that I am so grumpy on the mornings that he gets up early to go to toastmasters which usually corresponds to his working late nights. ('nother subject)

Am I right, or am I right? Right. Right. Right. Right. Right.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Time Flies

Tonight, as I often do on Sundays because of the "all 80s weekend," I cranked on the radio while I cooked supper (pancakes), turned it down for eating, but when "Wild Wild West come on, I cranked it back up and danced a jig in the kitchen with my daughter.

I know better than to start that. One dance is never enough. But, as I often do with leftover pancake batter, I was trying to finish the batch and pled "must cook, dance with Daddy." I even threw on "he's a good dancer" even though it was a blatant lie. I give him credit, he will dance with me, but he grew up Mennonite (they converted me for a bit) and dancing is just not their thing. Tee-hee.

Anyway, Journey was on. Journey reminds me of us when we were young. Hubby, cornered, stood to dance with Daughter and put her on his toes to dance in what he called the Middle School Fashion--swaying back and forth. We got to giggling over that as I placed my hands on his shoulders, stiff armed him and we all three swayed. Until I had to flip the pancakes.

As I cooked, I caught them out of the corner of my eyes and I was stricken by my husband all grown up. We are living the life we dreamed when we were fifteen. I'm not dancing with my Daddy and dreaming about Mr. Right, my daughter is.

My husband turned 30 last week. Considering I beat him to that milestone by a good six months, 30 doesn't sound ALL that old. 'BOUT STINKIN' TIME! But we have known each other longer now than we haven't. I am amazed at the continual marching of time.

When I look at him now, I see someone comfortable. I forget that he used to make my stomach flutter just by brushing past me in the hall. I caught his smell this morning in church. And it isn't the smell I fell in love with. (We get that one when we spend a week with his parents--Ummmmm) But it smells like him. Like my pillow.

Something about the juxtaposition of Journey, a song I equate with falling in love with him, and him dancing with OUR daughter just makes me feel all romantic and nostalgic inside. I may have to go put the CD on and see if I can get him to dance with me.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

In Over my Head and Tree Ring Circus

I wrote this wonderfully witty post about reviewing and especially about a book I reviewed and when I went to post it up, blogger crashed. Now I can't recover the thing and I'm not sure I have it in me to re-write it. Particularly since a recreation of a post that you thought was witty, is almost never as witty as the first one. Even if it is wittier in fact, it will never measure up. Besides, an hour has passed and now it's practically bedtime.


But I'll try. So, on Tuesday I got four books in the mail to review. I kid you not. FOUR! You tell people you'll review for them and they promise to send the book and ..... nothing. So you tell more people you'll review for them and they say they'll send it and ... nothing. And then one day they start coming. And they come and they come and they keep coming and before you know it, the floodgates have opened and you are so far behind you'll never catch up. Thankfully only two of the books have a deadline to get done and both of those are picture books and both are done. They were two of my Tuesday four. I gave myself three days to read them to my kids, analyze whether it would be a long term hit versus and new book flash in the pan, wrote my reviews and sent them to Connie at Armchair.

The rest I have in a stack and will take them in the order that they came. I'm about five deep. And they are all novels. Not picture books. How smart was I to agree to review children's for the deadline people? Nah, I'll get them all done in the very generous four-week time period. Even unenforced.

Anyway, let me tell you about Tree Ring Circus by Adam Rex. The entertainment starts on page one folks. I kid you not. I spend several moments (as many as my children would allow) inspecting the subtleties of the title page. Now that I can sit and read it alone, let me tell you, it is hilarious!

What an awesome book! It has everything. The illustrations (by the author) stay true to the circus theme and incorporate the text (making you wonder if you are supposed to be reading it right up until you notice that the pictures are beginning to rhyme and build in intensity). This is a parent friendly book. The kind that you will helpfully suggest when your kid toddles over with one of those books that you just hate to read. And the kid will go for it. I mean why not? The illustrations are full color, vivid, and entertaining. The text reads flawlessly (no clunky cadence). And there are monkeys (what kid doesn't love a good monkey?).

I love, love, love this book. It reminds me of the reason I'm not published instead of making me wonder why others got that way. So, Mr. Rex, when is the next one coming out? (Asks the reviewer who got this one three months before it is available....)

And just in case you wondered. This is no where near as witty as the first post. Rats.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Mary E. DeMuth

I have the distinct pleasure of posting a guest blogger today. Unfortunately, I am technologically inept and cannot post photos, but if you want to know what Mary DeMuth looks like(she is beautiful), link over to her page. Shoot, link over anyway, and then link forward to her blog. She has good stuff to say.

Mary E. DeMuth has been crafting prose since 1992, first as a newsletter editor, then as a freelance writer, followed by a fiction and nonfiction author. Mary’s articles have appeared in Marriage Partnership, In Touch, HomeLife, Discipleship Journal, Pray!, Bon Appetit, Kindred Spirit, P31 Woman, and Hearts at Home. For two years she penned a lifestyle column for Star Community Newspapers in Dallas (circulation 100,000). Mary’s books include Ordinary Mom, Extraordinary God (Harvest House, 2005), Sister Freaks (Time Warner, 2005, one of four contributing authors, Editor Rebecca St. James), Building the Christian Family You Never Had (WaterBrook, 2006), Watching the Tree Limbs, and Wishing on Dandelions (NavPress, both novels releasing in 2006). In 2003, she won the Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference’s Pacesetter Award. Mary loves to speak about the art and craft of writing as well as the redemptive hand of God in impossible situations. She’s spoken in Munich, Vienna, Amsterdam, Portland, Dallas, Seattle, and San Jose. A thirty-nine-year-old mother of three, Mary lives with her husband Patrick in the South of France. Together with two other families, they are planting a church.

Today I read about a Homeland Security honcho getting arrested for trying to seduce what he thought was a 14 year old over the Internet. The terrible story is here. And congress is now (finally!!!) investigating this.

Every time I speak to a group of people and bring up childhood sexual abuse, I get knowing glances from many, many folks. My guess, though, is that the incidents of this abuse is much higher today because of the Internet and the further breakdown of communities and families. It makes me sick. Angry.


Children are our future, but they are systematically victimized on the altar of sick pleasure. I've had to endure years of pain because of my own issues dealing with childhood sexual abuse from neighbors. I ache for every single person who has had to live through that hell.

I wrote Watching the Tree Limbs as a response. I wanted to offer hope to people who had been violated as children. I wanted to portray an honest wrestling with a God who seemed far away. I wanted a character to grapple with, "Where was God when I was being abused?" I wanted, through the vehicle of a page-turning story, reveal God's tender mercy toward the abuse victim.
I hoped to put the reader in a victimized girl's flip-flops, in a similar way Harper Lee walked us around in Boo Radley's shoes.

So, yes, I'm sickened by these recent reports. It makes me mad. The Bible says Satan comes like a thief to steal, kill and destroy. I have a sinking feeling childhood sexual abuse is one of his most powerful tools to destroying humankind.

There's a song, "Make a Joyful Noise to the Lord," I love to sing. In the bridge it repeats, "I will not be silent, no. I will not be silent anymore."

That's how I feel about this issue. Silence is deadening our children. It's time to speak up.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

I Have a Robin!

Last year, a mommy robin decided to build a nest on our porch light. I encouraged her behavior. My daughter and I cut up a bunch of yarn and scattered it in my flower beds and the robin wove it into her nest. She took about a week to lay her four blue eggs, but they all hatched in the same 24 hours. We watched her bring her babies food and we watched them leave the nest. It was so much fun that I thought I might really be able to handle homeschooling. We learned so much about robins.

Side note: They are very clean. When I exclaimed my glee about my robin my neighbor made a face and shuddered. Robins are not barn swallows folks. No gigantic piles of stinky poo on my porch. Just sweet baby robins.

So anyway, I've watched the robins scoping out my yard for nesting grounds and have pled through my kitchen windows, "Pick us! We'll be good to you." Yesterday I saw her begin her nest. I should go look it up and see if mothers return to their same nesting grounds or if this is one of the babies returning. I think of it as my fellow mother of multitudes.

Anyway my daughter and I scrambled to cut up some wrapping paper ribbon (all out of yarn this week) and scatter it in the flowerbeds again. This morning we saw it delicately placed in her nesting spot. It will take her several days to build up the area underneath her nest, but she'll build the actual nest overnight if last year is any indicator.

I love spring.

I have 25 hyacinths blooming in my front flower bed. I have daffodils blooming in a couple spots. My holly have tiny red blooms or berries. My lilac is leafing out. My tulips are budding. My lilies are coming up. My Rose of Sharon hedge is planted. And my flowering bushes that I've planted at random are in full bloom.

My heart soars in the spring. I love the smell of the air and the feel of the breeze on my face. I love sleeping with the windows open. And being in Kansas, I love the sound of a thunderstorm racing across the prairie, bringing thunder and lightning and rain and the smell of wet earth. Not so fond of the hail and tornadoes, but hey, with all that is good about Kansas in spring, I'll take the good with the bad.

So now you can understand why the robin is such a big deal to me. When the robins come back and begin their nest, spring is upon me. Ahhhhhh......

But what's up with Amazing Race being on Wednesday?

Monday, April 03, 2006

Finding Faith

It came in the mail Thursday and boy was my son disappointed. He thought it was Jimmy Neutron. I was not so disappointed. I put my other books down and started it.


Listen to these lines:

"...he'd been as distant as Australia since he drove her home."

"There should be a proverb explaining how to get out of the web once it was already woven."

"Anxiety tiptoed across Paula's skin."

Who can come up with stuff like that? And that's not the half of it. In the middle of the book, I actually gasped. And then I shrieked, "She didn't!" She being Denise. I never saw it coming. Never. And I won't tell you any more about it because you need to have the gasp moment. Afterward I kept wondering how I didn't see it coming. But I didn't. And I consider myself a pretty see-it-coming type gal.

All I know is that you (and you and you and you) need to read this book. Finding Faith by Denise Hunter. You won't be disappointed.


Come visit Armchair Interviews and read my review.

Sunday, April 02, 2006

I Feel Woozy

Can't you just hear Madame Blueberry saying that? I've been quoting her for over a week now. It is as if I've been walking around with about a point one percent blood alcohol level and I haven't taken a drink.

I have this nasty head cold. Sinus infection? I don't know. And I'm a nose breather so it's been pretty ugly the last few days. I'll have dreams that I'm under water. Or trapped in a cave. Or breathing, but for some reason there is no oxygen in the air and I'll wake up and gasp because it is that ingrained in me to breath through my nose when I sleep. But that isn't the worst part.

For several days I've thought I must have a lot of pressure on my inner ear because when I flopped over onto my back, my world would spin. I've had inner ear infections before and it feels much like that except it really only happens with sharp head movements or in just the right angle.

But other days? Dang. I blink and blink and blink and can't focus. And my heart races. And the world just tilts and I wonder if I should be driving but my daughter has ice skating lessons and I have to go!!!

I have two theories and I remembered them both on the same day. Thursday night just after I'd spent the whole day "drunk," I remembered that my mom told me psudophedrine causes heart palpitations or racing or something (don't sue me drug guys...I don't know what it does exactly and I still use it) and I've been taking TONS. Not more than the recommended dose. Not even as much as is allowed in 24 hours, but two in the morning and two just before I go to bed. Unless of course I take a shot of the Wal-Mart version of NyQuil. And no, I don't do that in the morning or I'd know what was causing the drunkenness. Anyway, four a day is a lot more than none which is normal life, or one just before bed which is pregnant and nursing life and I've been living it up lately without being responsible for someone else's brain development.

Anyway, feeling that crazy out of control is scary for a girl that considers herself very healthy. I worry enough about it that I wondered if my blood pressure shot up, or I was going diabetic or something. And THEN I remembered that the last time I was freaking out that I was on my way six feet under, I'd been taking pseudopherine and my mom had told me to stop and lo and behold I got better (couldn't breathe mind you, but I could see again). So I've gone cold turkey since Thursday and no more drunk.

But my head still spins when I turn it a certain way. (And I have those drowning dreams.)

And then I remembered last month when I tried to demonstrate a backwards somersault to my daughter and messed up my upper back that although I no longer have excruciating pain, it is still tight. So I'm wondering if I have a pinched nerve.

See the hysteria that sets in when you walk around inebriated without having imbibed?

Hopefully I can think clearly enough tomorrow to tell you all about Finding Faith. I actually gasped out loud while reading it.