Book Launch Joy

The folks who know me best know I have a love of books.  One that has me counting my books as some of my most prized possessions.  I have my favorites that I’ve had for many years, and I have books whose release dates are circled on my calendar.  I have books on my Kindle (sometimes that’s just how it has to be), but mostly I love the no kidding hold it in my hands books.  I worked in our library all four years of high school, so the smell of books brings me great joy and yes, I’ve been guilty of book sniffing.

I blame this love of books on my parents and my Aunt who took me to my first Old Book Sale.

The characters of the books become close friends and their stories intertwine with mine.  The authors of my favorite fiction and non-fiction books become my friends in real life, and I love celebrating the births of their new creations.

So imagine my joy to be chosen to be on the launch team for not one, but THREE books during the past couple of weeks.

THRILLED.  HONORED.

You mean I need to make reading a higher priority than I normally do?  Because after all, I have an obligation to help these writers with their launch.  In a timely fashion.

Sigh.  It’s a tough job, but someone has to do it.

I sure am glad it’s me.

I want to share with you about these books and then a special surprise at the end, if you have time to stick with me on this post.  If you have some reading to get to, I understand (bookmark me and come back to this later), but y’all, those dirty dishes can wait.  You need to know about all of these books.  You are going to want them ALL in your library.

(You do have a library, don’t you?  If you don’t, I can respect that, but please go to your public library and ask them to get these books for you, okay?  I want you to get to know them too.)

The first book is a lovely full color book by Roma Downey.  Yes, that Roma Downey from “Touched by an Angel.”  She was also in one of my favorite Christmas movies, “Borrowed Hearts,” with Eric McCormack, but that’s a story for another time.  I was sent the e-book version of this book, A Box of Butterflies,  but I will be ordering a hard copy as soon as it is released in March.  It’s beautiful.  The pages are gorgeous to view, and there are lovely and meaningful quotes all through it.  But the most beautiful parts are the glimpses into Ms. Downey’s life and the way her kind spirit shines through it.  Her friendship with Della Reese (who wrote the Foreword) is one of love and respect and compassion.  I could identify so much with the stories of her missing her parents, as this is part of my story too.  This book will lift your spirit and touch your heart.  I highly recommend this for you, and it is perfect as a gift book for those near and dear as well.

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The second book I just received, so I haven’t been able to read it yet, but I KNOW it’s what I need to hear from the title and the stories I’ve read about the author and her book.  Kate Bowler’s book, Everything Happens for a Reason: And Other Lies I’ve Loved, is a funny, frank, dark, and wise book that tells the story of this Divinity school professor and young mother’s diagnosis of stage IV colon cancer and how the prospect of her own mortality has changed the way she thinks and lives–for the better.  I saw on Twitter where someone was saying that every minister needs to read this book, especially the Appendix–I and II.  Never being one to skip to the end of a book, I admit that this morning I flipped to see what was in those appendices.  And yes, not only do all ministers need to read them and post them on their wall and carry them in their wallets and purses, but we all do.  I’m going to start the book when I finish writing this, but *spoiler alert* Appendix I is “Absolutely Never Say This To People Experiencing Terrible Times: A Short List.”  Appendix II is “Give This A Go: See How It Works: A Short List.”  The book is worth buying just for these pages.  And that’s without reading her raw and honest story, which I know will only offer more wisdom and insight on how to love each other through hard times.  I saw this quote from Kate Bowler on Twitter, and YES YES YES:

“The basic thing is not all pain has to be explained. I wish people would just, take a breath, notice the person in front of them, and realize that it’s probably a hard day and maybe they just want to talk about “The Bachelor.” It’s a good season.”

Whether or not you’re a Bachelor fan (no judgment here, my friends), we can do better by each other.  Not all pain has to be explained.  THANK YOU, KATE BOWLER.

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The third book—oh my, my soul is dancing—is When God Made Light by Matthew Paul Turner. Y’all.  It’s a children’s book, the second children’s book by the author of When God Made You.  When I applied to be on his launch team, I had no idea I’d actually be chosen (but as Mama always said, If you don’t ask, you won’t know), so when I got the email welcoming me on the team, I was THRILLED.  When the actual book came in the bubble wrapped envelope, I was no lie like one of my children on Christmas morning.  Or maybe more like Miss Sophie when she finds a chip on the floor and doesn’t want to share.  I tucked myself up on my spot on the couch, tenderly opened the envelope and pulled out the treasured book.

And it is a treasure.

If you have a child, are a child, know a child, were ever a child…..you need this book.  The words are lyrical, dancing across the pages just as the illustrations (fantastic job by David Catrow) do.  I join in with the children in the book, listening to the words that assure me I am a part of the Plan, of the Light, and I am loved.

Wow.

Right now—RUN, DON’T WALK, PEOPLE—you can pre-order When God Made Light, which is being released next Tuesday (yay!) and get your very own copy of When God Made You for FREE. (Click on FREE for the link as to how to make that happen.) It’s the ultimate buy one, get one, and y’all know how I love a bargain!  I already have both books, and I’ll be taking advantage of this special deal, because when it comes to your favorite books, you can never have too many copies.  Mama and Daddy taught me that.  This is a book for you to have and to share with all the people you hold dear.  If you want me to show you my copy and you’ll be on one of my Out and Abouts over the next few weeks, let me know and I’ll bring it along.  But you will want your own copy, I can assure you of you that.  And when you get your copy, please promise me you will all sit around taking turns reading it to each other–because you all need to hear this message.

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Here are two more books *BONUS TIME* I want to share with you.  First, one of our local stars and her sweet Mama have written a book and while I don’t have a copy yet (it’s a huge seller and constantly on backorder, but YAY that’s a great thing), I know this young woman and her mother, and they are the best kind of people.  Their hearts are so big, I don’t know how they keep them in.  The way they love others is an inspiration to all who know them.  I Want to Make a Difference by Kelsey Anastasia Norris and Carol Norris is a beautiful story of love and giving and overcoming odds.  I can’t wait to have my very own copy, and y’all I’m hoping to get it signed because I am a huge Kelsey fan.

 

Finally, this past Tuesday, A Cup of Love anthology was released on Amazon as an eBook.  I am honored that Ms. Barbara Barth once again asked me to be a part of this.  My story, “Love at the Laundromat,” is included along with stories by some of my favorite authors. (I’ll just be over here fangirling, don’t mind me.)  It’s the story of when my Mama met my Daddy for the first time, and I’m so glad it worked out because my Mama was full of spunk, y’all.  I think they would be okay with me sharing their story and even more so because the proceeds from the sale of this eBook go to First Book, a program that puts books in the hands of young children who might not otherwise have them.  That’s what they were all about–books and children.  So this honor is extra special for me to have my story included.  If you are looking for the perfect card for someone you hold dear this Valentine’s Day or any day at all, consider sending them A Cup of Love.  It’s cheaper than most cards and will last far longer.

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I hope you will find a book or few in these titles that will entertain you, lift your spirits, make you laugh, and bring you joy.  It’s still good reading weather around here (okay, yes, it’s always good reading weather to me), so I hope you will treat yourself or find one of these treasures at your library and spend some time tanning your soul with a good book.

Love and happy reading to all.

 

Family Jewels

So this is it.  An ordinary day that has really big things attached to it.

And to be honest, I’m really excited.

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For every single day, three years in a row, I’ve sat down at some point during my day, usually after all have gone to bed and the house is quiet, and I’ve shared a little bit of my day or my story or my heart right here.

And you’ve read these tidbits from my life.

Thank you.

With all my heart, I thank you.  I know what it’s like to have all the things to do and little time to click on a link or pull something up on a screen and commit to reading it, especially when I get a little wordy–yes, I’ve been called out on this, you know who you are, and I love ya.  And still, you’ve done this.  You’ve listened to my stories about growing up, raising children, being married, struggling through food allergies, letting my oldest grow up and leave the nest.  You’ve multiplied my joys and divided my sorrows, and you’ve raised your fist at injustices right alongside me.

Thank you.

You’ve read the goofy and the serious.  The mundane and the meaningful.  The poetry and the prose.  You’ve sat on my front porch and watched the delight and joy of children and heard the beauty in the songs of the birds and the frogs and watched the sun go down as we sipped the perfect cup of coffee.  You’ve laughed with me and wept with me.

You’ve given me the gift of your time and your presence, and as long as I have my memory, I will treasure this gift.

This week, anticipating this day coming, I’ve thought about what I’ve learned in the past three years, and if you will allow me, I’d like to share them with you.

*Sometimes you can put your whole being–heart, mind, soul–into something, and it doesn’t resonate with a single soul.  Speak it anyway.  You need to let that light shine, y’all.  Just because someone doesn’t notice it doesn’t mean it’s not making the world a brighter place.  Shine on.

*People can be beautiful, broken, hard, kind, mean, intense, easy-going, light-hearted, broken-hearted, funny, somber, sarcastic, caring, compassionate, salty, loving, oblivious, and we need to love them all.  It’s basically our most important job and really, it’s what we were created for.

* My family–every last one of them–are incredible people.  They might not set world records in things that will get them in that book that was the most checked out one in our school library, but they set the world record at loving me and supporting and encouraging and taking my phone calls even though they have all the things to do.  My children and the Fella have put up with my glazed stares when they’ve caught me mid-writing or mind-writing, and they’ve supported my writing by giving me space and time to do it.  They’ve read my stories and they’ve proofed my writing and they’ve given me permission to share our life with others.  I’m getting way more love and good stuff than I could ever deserve in this life, y’all.  When I sit and ponder on it all, in the words of my oldest, Aub, “I. Can’t. Even.”

*I set out writing this in 2013 in the midst of the grief of having said goodbye to my Mama suddenly and way too soon less than two months before.  Mama told me a lot of things–two of which were “You might need a nap, go lie down, and you’ll feel better” (she was always right) and “Go write your story, tell all of this in a book somewhere.”  (Turns out she was right about that too.)  Writing has and continues to heal me.  The words that I’m able to pick out and put on paper take a confusing, wonderful journey and make a little bit of sense out of it.  For that I am thankful.  Every single day of it.

*The ones who have already left this world and headed on up to the House left me a few things.  Even some that could be loosely called “family jewels.”  What I have discovered for the past three years is that the most precious things my Granny, my Great Aunts, my Mama, my Daddy, and the others I love, who are gone from my sight, have left me are the stories.  The memories.  The joy, the laughter, the shared tears, the tiny little moments and the big ones–all which led me to this place right here in this place right now.  THOSE are the jewels they left me that I treasure the most.

And I hope that’s what these stories, these three years of writing will be for my own people one day.  The ones in my family now, and those who will be.  Because my family is not complete.  We’ve all kinds of branches and leaves yet to grow…..we’ve got strong roots to grow from, and that’s a precious thing.  I hope that all of them will find something here in the meanderings I’ve shared to lift them in the dark days and something to laugh about on the joyful ones.

*Finally, I’ve learned that there is something worth writing home about in every single day…..if only you are willing to look for it.  (And believe me, some days I was turning over rocks to look, but there was never a day without something, some thoughts or words or stories to share.)  This is a journey made of many footsteps and many stories.  One day, one moment at a time.  The truth is that February 29th comes around once every four years.  It is special.  But if we are looking for it, March 29th can be just as amazing.  As can September 19th or March 3rd or November 16th or February 10th or December 14th or the twelfth of Everyday.  Each and every day can have a bit of light in it, if we stop searching for the big and amazing and star-studded.  The journey of an earthworm can be just as fascinating as the snow that falls from the sky, if we open our eyes to the beauty embedded in all aspects of the journey.

All this leads me to this.  I am taking a break from writing for I Might Need a Nap for a while.  It might be a week (I have folks enforcing this, so yeah, it will be at least a week), a month, or maybe even longer.  I will come back and write here when the story is there.  But I am not going to stop writing.  It would be like no longer breathing to stop writing at this point in my life.

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One of my people sent me this. She will remain nameless but she can bake her own cookies and I’m pretty much almost done raising her, so there’s that.

I have a project I’m working on which I am very excited about.  It’s coming together nicely, but it requires more attention from me, and since that means letting go of the blog or my family…..well, in a saner moment, I made my choice.  I am looking forward to sharing more details when the time comes.

I’ve also had someone come round who wants me to tell her story.  I tried to explain real kindly that her timing wasn’t ideal.  That made her harrumph.  (That’s a real thing.  If you’ve seen it, you  know it.)  She crossed her arms and stared me down over her glasses and just nodded and kept on rocking.  That worried me more than the harrumph.  I have tried to placate her, but she looks up at the clock and back at me from time to time, and I realize our time to tell her story is dwindling, so that’s on my agenda next as well.  Helping her tell her story.  She’s a character for sure, and I love her.  So I’m going to spend some time with her.  Because that’s what we do for folks we love.

Unlike other times when I’ve contemplated stepping away for a little bit, I’m excited.  That’s how I know the time is right.  I will be back, as there are more stories to come.  But for now, I’m going to go to bed before the chickens are waking up, I’m going to read good books, I’m going to take long walks in the evening, and if anyone asks, I’ll visit and tell my stories in person.  Because that’s something I want to pursue as well.  (So yeah, holler, and I’ll come spin a tale or two–bring the back porch to y’all, so to speak.  Turns out I get a kick out of that too.)

Thank you for sharing the journey.  If you have a moment to click the follow button over there and sign up with your email, you’ll be sure not to miss any future stories.  No worries if that’s not your thing.  Just please come back to visit from time to time.  Like I said, all kinds of good things going on over here at the house.

But first, I might need a nap.

I’ll catch y’all later.  Make ’em be good to you.

Love to all.

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One Thousand

About a week ago, I happened to notice my blog post count.  It’s not something I’ve watched since around number 500 or so.  So imagine my surprise when I saw the number and then counted on my fingers to discover that I would hit Post 1000 tonight.

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This is post 1000.

I’m smiling at the timing of this.  This, if you will pardon me, momentous occasion.  I set out in April of 2013 to write.  Everyday.  I thought maybe six months would suit, proving to myself I could stick with something.  But something unexpected happened–it became a habit.  One I grew to depend on.  A companion every evening, with whom I would sit down and share my thoughts or stories or woes.  There were a few evenings I would have rather been left alone, but I pushed through and my soul was better for it.

This has been good for my soul.

So after the six month mark, I continued, and then one year and two and two and a half, and now…..1000.

I have loved sharing my stories because in doing so, many of you have shared yours with me.  Stories are the very fibers of our lives, and I thrive upon them.  I love to sit and hear folks’ stories, just as I enjoy sharing mine.  When we listen, we learn and one of the most important things we learn is that we are more alike than not. WE. ARE. ALL. CONNECTED.

And so it is that the timing of this is so perfect.  For the first time in 103 days, all of the ones I am most connected to are all under one roof.  The Fella, who has been away for work for all this time, is home. Home!  (The fact that I bought a special bag of sweet potato chips just for him might tell you how excited I am.)  My Aub is finishing up the semester and tucked away in her room HERE studying.  Home!  I don’t dare interrupt, but knowing my girl who is one of my dearest friends is right here warms my heart.  All of my people.  Home.

I have big things going on–good things and wonderful things and challenging things.  I have a project that I’m going to put some loving hands to.  I have a coffee shop that I and others who love it are working to save.  I have a family who would probably like to eat something other than yogurt and blueberries or chicken wraps or cheese quesadillas for supper.  (Not that those are leaving the menu entirely, just so y’all know.)  In this season of chaos and all the busy things–good things–I seek a time of Advent.  Of preparation. My soul craves it.

During this season of Advent and reconnecting and rebuilding and recreating and remembering, I’m going to change things up a little bit.  Some days will be writing and sharing stories, but some days it will be 1000 words.  As in a picture is worth a…..

I’m no photographer by any means, but there are moments and things during the day that touch my heart, and I look forward to sharing those with you.

Tonight I am thankful for all of you–my friends and family and others whom I’ve never formally met who take the time to read the stories, to hear the words, and to feel all the things along with me .  For those of you who share my words with others, thank you.  I give thanks for the stories you have shared with me which touch my heart and make me laugh or weep or think.  Thank you.

And tonight I’m thankful for the Fella being home safe.  Where he belongs.  Not just because I need someone to tell me Miss Sophie is okay or haul off the recycling or help us move the scarecrow and pumpkins so the nativity can be put up in the yard.  Because he is loved and as Cooter put it, “Daddy is one of my shining lights.”  I’m thankful this semester is almost over for Aub, who has worked and studied and performed and written and volunteered and made beautiful music.  She amazes and inspires me.  I look forward to cuddling in front of the fire with my littles and reading stories of Father Christmas by J.R.R. Tolkien and making all the merry memories.  I am excited about my project, and I am hopeful for our coffeeshop.  Most of all, I’m looking forward to quieting my soul and listening.  Listening to hear the whispered stories of my past and the story of where I am meant to go, and dreaming of what may come.

Thank you all for sharing the journey.  I look forward to continuing onward with you however it may look, sharing the light and love and laughter.

Love to all.

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And They Said It Wouldn’t Last

Two years ago tonight.

Wow.

April 7, 2013 I sat down to blog with the idea that I wanted to put down in writing all of the stories that I had saved up while my Mama was unconscious in the hospital–all the things I had planned to tell her when she woke up.  Those stories I never had the chance to tell her.

It was my goal to stick with it and write something everyday.  That’s something I’ve heard from more than one published author–practice your craft.  And so I did.

In the beginning I think I saw maybe six months as a goal.  But as that neared, I was hooked and knew I couldn’t stop until I hit a year.  But then that didn’t feel right either.  So when I hit 500 posts, I thought about taking a break, but the stories kept coming, and so I wrote.

And tonight.  Two years.  Of writing every day.

It has changed me.  The way and the how I go about my day, my life.  And oh, the things I have learned!

I take my phone just about everywhere, so I can take a picture of something I might want to share about later.

I’m a better parent.  I listen to my children’s conversations more closely, prepared to glean wisdom from them, because I KNOW they see this world through such a different lens and I want to capture that for myself.

I stay up way too late.  I can write things fairly quickly, but then my OCD kicks in and I edit for an hour (or two) some nights.  And then I can still find things I wish I’d changed.  I’ve become quite the night owl.  Even Miss Sophie gives up on me most nights.

My house is not perfect.  Not that it was before I started writing, but now *sigh* even less so.  Or more so.  #comfortablydisorganized

I’ve learned that I enjoy sharing our stories.

I’ve also learned that poetry is a great love of mine, and my favorites are the ones that I find the title and then write from there.  Unorthodox maybe, but those few words paint a larger picture for me, one that then writes itself.

I have been fortunate to discover that the writing community is a beautiful one.  Writers, both published and unpublished, are encouragers.  They read each other’s work, and because they KNOW the blood, sweat, and tears that goes into some of these stories, they share and encourage and praise.  I love the friends I have gained through writing and blogging.  They are talented and strong and know how to put something out there and shoot straight, and they are beautiful inside and out.

I know how fast one’s heart can sink when getting a rejection letter.  And I know that one of the greatest gifts when one writes is to start a conversation, important conversations.  The kind words in the comments section warm my heart, and when someone takes the time to share something I’ve written, I stop and do a happy dance.  Right there in the kitchen or the living room or wherever I am when I find out.  Happy happy joy joy all over my face and feet.

I’ve learned that I can think about something for days, waiting for all the words to float to the surface of my thoughts before carefully writing it, and all I hear afterward are crickets.  And then the very next day I can write something just off the top of my head in that moment, and it will take off with comments and shares and affirmation that it resonated with folks.  That right there blows my mind.  And makes me laugh to myself.  You never know what will spark a fire.

In the midst of these two years, I’ve given thanks over and over for the one who opens my blog and reads it every morning.  Indeed, there have been some nights that has been my motivation for getting a story written.  I cannot have NOTHING there when the page is opened in the wee hours of the day.  “If you read it, I will write” sort of thing I guess.  But since I love the Reader, it’s a joy to put something there–once I rattle my brain around and something floats to the top.

There is always a story waiting to be told.  I just have to wait for her to present herself.  And sometimes she can be a bit coy.

In these two years, doors have opened for me and some have closed.  Shoot, I’m still trying to figure out what I want to be when I grow up.  I have spent time sharing stories about my children, our pup, my family, homeschooling, food allergies, and life in general.  I’ve even been known to step up on my soap box from *ahem* time to time.

Thank you for reading.  Whether it’s been once or 730 times, thank you.

Back when they had the suppers at the park on Sunday evenings for folks who could use a good meal and community, we took coffee, tea, and hot chocolate.  Folks who came up to quench their thirst (or sweet tooth, we had marshmallows too) would sometimes say, “Thank you for being here.”

I’d look back at those sweet faces, etched by their journey and the elements, and say, “Thank you for being here.  I’d look pretty silly standing out here with tea and coffee and hot chocolate and no one to drink it.”

And so, thank YOU for being here.  For reading.  For commenting.  For sharing.  For taking time out of your busy days to spend a few minutes sharing this journey with me.  A story isn’t a story until it is read by another.

I don’t know what the next two years or one year or two weeks or even tomorrow will hold, but I do know that I am a better person for sharing my stories.  My joyful friend is a wonderful scrapbooker–she has done a beautiful job of recording her family’s stories that way.  It was a fun hobby for me for a while, but I just couldn’t stick with it.  I guess this is my version of scrapbooking, telling our stories so my children will have them to look back on one day.

To know where we come from, where we’ve been, and where I hope they will go.

Happy two years, y’all!  It ain’t a party unless we’re all here together.

Love to all.

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Dreams Come True, The Highway Don’t Care

Y’all know that Taylor Swift song–The Highway Don’t Care?  Oops.  Just found out it is really attributed to Tim McGraw.  But she sings in it and she’s Taylor after all (I live in a house dominated by females who LOVE TS, so my apologies, Mr. McGraw).

The song basically says that despite all that is going on in this person’s life, the highway don’t care.  Life goes on, sweetie, the highway don’t care.

So today has been the official launch date of dreams coming true.

*insert MAJOR happy dance here*

My oldest took a selfie with me on Sunday before she headed back to college.  “Next time we see each other, you’ll be a published author.”

She’s stretching it, but I’ll take it.

And smile really big.

The littles heard me talking about it, so I told them about the e-book and my story.  They were quite excited.  They love books, and we always talk about the authors and illustrators, so they can relate and, unless I am way off, I think they are just slightly impressed.  I can put together a full meal complete with dessert and I get nothing, but this–this, they get.

Cooter asked if I would be signing “my” book.  Funny how much they pay attention.  They’ve been to a book signing on more than one occasion and made friends with the authors–Karen Spears Zacharias, Ann Hite, and Renea Winchester–and all of those beautiful people became our friends.  So the bar is set very high about how this should go.  I explained to him that I wrote a story in a big book with lots of stories by amazing writers.  He looked at me and asked again, “Are you going to sign your book?”

So if you see my name in Sharpie on any electronic device around here, you’ll know why.

(He insisted, for goodness’ sake!  And have you seen that face?  Oh me.)

The thing is my life changed a little today.  A dream came true.  And I’m so tickled I can’t contain the joy.

But like going to school on your birthday and having midterms, life goes on.

First up Miss Sophie did not tend to *ahem* all of her business on our walk this morning.  So I felt the need to watch her like a hawk when we were back in the house.  She doesn’t have accidents often, but if she doesn’t go and I miss her signal (and she’s so subtle sometimes, that one), well somebody’s gonna have a mess to clean up.

Second our Princess accidentally poured almost an entire bowl of cereal WITH milk in her lap, all over her gown and robe and the table and the floor and the *sigh* fabric covered chair.  What do you know?  I was watching the dog like a hawk and STILL had a mess to clean up.

You know why?

Because the Highway don’t care.

We got through that, and I told the littles we needed to get lessons done before we could take on the task our Kindness Elves left for us. (We have Kindness Elves visiting us from England this year–when we wake up in the morning they have a suggestion for us about something we can do to scatter kindness.  This idea came from Imagination Tree.)  They suggested we make cookies, Maemae’s cookies, today to share–in honor of my story in the book (recipe included).

The littles were eager to get on to the cookie making portion of the day, so math happened.

I sit with Cooter to *ahem* encourage his little second grade self.  We are doing some review work right now.  He came to this word problem.

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We’ve seen this kind before, with smaller numbers.  But it never fails to crack Cooter up, and I’m thrilled that he finds it funny.  Dear Saxon, you have my homeschooled boy thinking that public school is really wacky with some of the things you say are in the classroom store.  Today he giggled so hard over eggs and rolls being in the classroom store that I had a hard time bringing him back around.

And then there was the sock question.  Y’all know those things are the bane of my existence, right?

The question was: Five pairs of socks were moved from the washer to the dryer.  When the socks were dry, only eight socks came out.  What happened ?

So I’m not really sure where Saxon was going with this line of questioning.  I mean, I know the math–10-8=2.  2 socks were missing.  But oh the joy that boy brings me!  I looked at his answer, and he had written, “NOTHENG.”

Okay, spelling’s not his forte, but you know what?  He’s right.

And Saxon, you know why he’s right?

Because this is NO BIG DEAL in our house.  It happens all the time. What would be a shocker and need answering as to what happened is if ALL THE SOCKS that were put in the washer and dryer came out SAFE AND SOUND and MATCHED.

Notheng, indeed, my boy.

He cracks me up.

He’s also slower than Christmas despite being motivated.  Not because he doesn’t understand but because he has so much to talk about.  Important stuff.  Star Wars.  Minecraft.  Interesting dreams. Dogs.  Cats.  Mushrooms.  Anything but math.

But they got it all done.

And it was cookie making time.

I know I’m already up for the Worst Parent award, so I will go ahead and confess that mine have never really been a part of the cookie making for very long at the time.  Either they get bored waiting on pans of cookies to get done to be refilled, or they make me so crazy that I thank them for their time and move it along.

Sad sad sad.  I’m sorry, crew. I’m trying to do better.

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So today I got one pan done and then left them to it.  I rerolled the dough as needed, but I let them cut and have fun.  I really did.  I kept my mouth closed and let them enjoy.

It’s Mama’s recipe and in memory of her anyway, so it was appropriate.

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Oh but was it an adventure!

I learned something very interesting.  I apologize to my Bubba, because I guess we never made cookies together.  At least I don’t remember him doing what Cooter did today.

It was a simple task really.  I have my Mama’s little boy and girl cookie cutters.  I handed each child their gender cutter and let them go to town.

And I have never seen as such.

I walked over to get a pan to put in the oven and–
Y’all.

Legless gingerbread boys.  Headless ones.  Ones with half a body.

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The girls were quite lovely.

Hmmmm.

Cooter.

Seven year old boys and cookie cutting are an interesting combination.

I finally asked that they cut out whole people as I wanted to have some to share (that was the idea, right, Kindness Elves?).  I asked that there be no more body part cookies.

Which sent the boy into fits of giggles.

Oh me.

He even suggested we could share them like that–as puzzle cookies or something.  *sigh*

The Highway don’t care, y’all.

(And yeah, I did pretty much laugh a lot this afternoon.)

All in all a good day.  Despite running a few minutes late everywhere I went and losing an earring in the process (the hazards of wearing clip-ons I reckon).  But I was given grace and my friend helped me look for my earring (found it), so all in all–

the Highway might not care but my friends and family do.

It’s been a special day.  A busy one.  And one that I won’t soon forget.

But here’s the lesson I want my children to hear whenever they get around to reading this–

First, our washer eats socks.  Don’t use socks for math problems.  Ever.

Second, if the dog doesn’t go, watch the cereal bowls, not her.  They are committing hari-kari around here.

Third, it doesn’t matter how wonderful life is going for you, or what awesome things are happening, life is still life–filled with bumps and bruises and logs in the road.  It’s never going to be perfect.  But it’s what you do with that–that’s what makes it special and beautiful and awesome.  Even in the midst of spilled cereal and lost earrings and body part cookies–keep smiling. It’s never that serious. That’s what deserves the happy dance in life.

Fourth, even when everything seems to be falling apart and the Highway ain’t listening to you or your woes at all–there is always someone who will.  A friend.  A sister.  A brother.  An Aunt.  You are loved.  From both sides of the veil.

Don’t let anything or anyone steal your joy.

And that’s why I’m still doing my happy dance with the book pulled up on that e-reader with my name scrawled across it in permanent ink.

Ha.

Tonight I’m thankful for all of you.  Thanks for sharing the journey and for caring, even when bowls and puppies and earrings and the clock and the Highway don’t care.  You do, and that makes all the difference in this world.

Love to all.

 

(If you’ve missed the link for the free copy of the book, click here.  *insert shameless self promotion here* 🙂  Thanks to all who have already gotten it.  It’s free until December 4th.  After that, it will be $1.99 and all proceeds will go to a program for children’s literacy.)

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This right here–MAJOR happy dance.  Oh, and the author whose name I share a line with–she’s my Fairy Godmother.  HOW PRECIOUS IS THAT?  ❤

The Little Girl and Her Books–A Fairytale About Dreams Coming True

Once upon a time, there was a little girl who loved books. She loved them so much she practically gobbled up each one she held in her hands.  Her Mama took her to the library, and she still remembers signing for her first library card.  She would choose a half-dozen or more books and bring them home, laying them all out open to the blurb–which she had already read before selecting each one–and reread each summary.  Sitting there on the gold carpet in the open doorway to her bedroom, she’d make the difficult choice of which one to read first.

It was only natural that she work in a library, I suppose, which she did.  The same one where she got her first card–she worked there all through high school.  Books helped pay her way through college, I guess you could say.  The girl loved the smell of books and the feel of them and the way they lined up so neatly, alphabetized by author or organized according to the Dewey decimal system.  A world where everything made sense and words were magical, bringing stories and people and worlds to life.

The little girl, who wasn’t so little anymore, had always loved writing stories.  And she dreamed big.  She hoped that one day, maybe just maybe, crossing her fingers for luck and wishing on every star–that one day her name could be on the cover of a book.

As the years went by the girl was busy with life and stuff, and though she still loved books and read as much as time allowed, the girl wandered away from her pen and paper for a while–until one day when the sadness was overwhelming, she heard in her heart her Mama, whom she loved and missed so much, saying, “Write your stories.  Tell it all with your words.”

And being the girl who always (umm, well, no)–mostly tried to do what her Mama said, she sat down that very day to write the stories in her heart.  The ones that made her laugh, the ones from growing up, and the ones that made her cry.  All of them.  And with the encouragement and love of her dear friends and family, she kept on writing.

Then one day her Fairy Godmother came along sharing delicious fried bologna sandwiches and said, “There will be a book published, filled with Christmas stories.  You should think about writing something and send it along to see what will happen.”  And with a wink and nod and a promise to come back when it was spring planting time, she left, reminding the girl to be mindful of the deadline.  After the clock struck twelve, all chances would be lost.

So the girl went to see the Queen, who was gathering the stories, and she was welcomed in and encouraged.  The girl knew just what story to share.

On an afternoon filled with light, sitting in her Nest, looking out at the birds and the trees, the girl wrote her story.  As she typed the last words, her heart was full. Oh, the precious memories attached to one little 4 by 6 card!  Delicious ones too–her heart was light because her spirit was filled with the joy of sharing a sweet memory.

Before the clock struck twelve, the girl hit “attach” and “send,” and all was good. The kind Queen nodded and said yes!

And now, the girl awaits the clock striking midnight on December 1.  For on December 2, the book will be available for all to read. Stories, poems, and recipes from 31 different writers all together in a cozy read–“A Cup of Christmas.”   It is an e-book, easily sent to wish all a merry Christmas and happy holiday season.   And it’s the beginning of the girl’s dreams coming true!

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^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

Y’all, the above fairy tale is a true story.  I am thrilled to be one of the 31 writers who contributed to “A Cup of Christmas,” conceived and put together by the lovely Barbara Barth–the Queen of making dreams come true.  I appreciate her allowing me to be a part of this great book.  I am also thankful to my Fairy Godmother, Renea Winchester, who is one of my favorite authors, and who also has a story in the book.  Talk about exceeding one’s wildest dreams–my Aub was so excited for me, she didn’t even bother to spellcheck her text message!  (oh wait, am I the only one who does that?)

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My text from my college girl after she found out that Renea Winchester has a story in the book too. Note the ALL CAPS–she’s yelling with excitement!   I feel loved. And yes, special.

 

 

So beginning December 2, please go to Amazon and download the book.  Tell your friends.  Send copies as gifts, and check–just like that–your Christmas card list is DONE.  (You’re welcome, but it was really Ms. Barth’s idea. You can visit her and thank her here.)

After a couple of days, the price will be $1.99.  Don’t despair though–all proceeds from the book will go to First Book.  From their website:

“First Book is determined to see that all children, regardless of their economic conditions, can achieve more in school and in life through access to an ongoing supply of new books.

With the help of our partners, donors and dedicated volunteers we have provided more than 120 million new books to schools and programs serving children in need. Yet millions of children are still waiting for our help.

Together we can make a difference in children’s lives. Together we can provide new books and critical resources that elevate the quality of education for children in low-income families.”

I just know my Mama is smiling right now, as children and books and children’s books were her most favorite things in the whole wide world.  Maybe THIS is why she told me to start writing my stories.

I wouldn’t be at all surprised.

Thank you all for reading and sharing my stories.  It would mean a lot if you could make the time to read one more–the one in “A Cup of Christmas,” along with all the other wonderful stories and poems.  I can’t wait to read them all myself.

And now, before I go–

A hint about my story.

It includes all of these things–

 

Candles, cookie cutters, a special recipe, and a girl who shared light and love long, long ago.....

Candles, cookie cutters, a special recipe, and a girl who shared light and love long, long ago…..

 

Love and happy reading to all.

 

Updated:  The book is available now!  http://www.amazon.com/Cup-Christmas-Kimberly-Brock-ebook/dp/B00QB6F35E/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1417496246&sr=8-1&keywords=a+cup+of+christmas

Tour Through Blogland Continues

Hey y’all.  I am so excited to switch things up a little bit tonight.  Last week I was nominated to be a part of the Blog Tour by my friend Lisa who blogs at My So Called Glamorous Life.  She is a smart, funny, caring, and powerful voice whose blog you need to be following if you aren’t already.  You will thank me later.  I can’t remember how I first came across her writings, but if you are the reason–then seriously, THANK YOU.

what is a blog tour? 

This is an opportunity for writers in the blogging community to share a little more about themselves, and then to introduce others to the writers whom they love to read.  As I begin to answer the questions, I feel a little trepidation–mostly because I’d rather be telling y’all about our latest mishaps or foolishness going on here at the house, but for tonight, I’ll put those stories aside and follow the rules.  😉   If you found your way here because of the Blog Tour, I hope you will stick around a visit a spell.  If you like what you see, there should something you can click over there to the right to sign up so you’ll never miss a story.  Best of all, like one of Cooter’s wonky waves, they are free and hopefully will make you smile.  Or wonder why it’s a bit wonky.  Anyway…..

what am I working on?

Right now, apparently I’m holding out to see how long I can go without loading the dishwasher.  I used to do the whole Flylady shining my sink every night.  But then I woke up and realized I’d been dreaming.  And yeah, a family of four/five (one is in college and not home all the time) who usually eats at home can sure mess up a lot of dishes.

In all seriousness, I am trying to figure out what I want to be when I grow up.  From different jobs I’ve had over the years, I know I don’t want to supervise anyone or be responsible for how folks treat others.  I love writing, and I started blogging every day about eighteen months ago as a challenge to myself to see if I could stick with it for a year.  I read something that Jeff Goins wrote that basically said, If you call yourself a writer, then write.  Don’t just sit around saying you want to be one.  That hit me hard and was the impetus I needed to begin.

About a year ago I attended a Writer’s Workshop led by Ann Hite.  She gave us a starter sentence, and we were to write until she stopped us.  I don’t know where those characters came from, but they scared me a bit at how they were talking and interacting and telling their stories and all I was doing was holding my pen to the paper.  I’m still trying to figure out what to do with them, because they are a lot like my children, they keep on talking and calling my name, trying to get my attention, even when I politely ask them to hush for a few minutes.

I love sharing stories.  When I’ve had the opportunity to share the same stories I write here with a group of people, it has made my soul sing.  I loved it. I want to continue writing, but I’m working to branch out into speaking and sharing stories aloud that tell who we are and show the beauty in the brokenness.  Right now my captive audience–bless ’em–are comprised of my Aunt and other dear friends.  But one day…..

That’s my dream.  Among so many others.

I’m also working on homeschooling my littles, which gets more complicated every year–and on living day to day without my big girl home here with me–she’s where she’s supposed to be and that makes me joyful.  But yeah, I sure do miss her.  I am working on remembering to breathe and say no to some things and that it’s okay to say just that–NO.  I daily work on not falling apart from missing my Mama and Daddy so much.  I’m not sure that will ever change though. It’s the hardest part of loving someone so much–the missing them when they’re gone.

how does my work differ from other work in my genre?  

Wait.  I have a genre?  Wow–I really feel like a writer now.

Last week I was trying to get a decent picture of myself to send to Lisa.  I didn’t get one so I will spare you that in this post (you’re welcome), but what was funny to me was that I had to take the picture of myself (a selfie, if you will) and yet, there’s always someone around when I’m in the bathroom or on the phone.  After I finally got one I was halfway okay with, I noticed there was an ant trap and a Matchbox car photobombing the picture.  *sigh*  I gave up and used it anyway–because THAT’s my genre.  Real life.  The ant traps because, you know, ants, and the Matchbox cars were left there by my little guy, no matter how many times I’ve asked him to put them away.  The joy and the sorrows, the silly and the ordinary and the wonder and the grief.  It’s all there in my days and in my stories.  It may not be very different from what others are writing, but it comes from my heart, every single typed word of it, and that’s how it’s for sure different.  It’s just pure tee ME.

why do I write/create what I do?

When I first started blogging, it was a challenge to myself, but it was also more than that.  Less than two months before I started blogging daily, my Mama left this world after twenty-five days in the hospital.  I was the one who had to sign the papers letting her go.  That and watching my Daddy take his last breath fifteen months before her–those things changed me.  I needed an outlet to let out what was in my heart and mind and soul.  I needed to grieve.  I needed to tell their stories–and mine.  I had saved up so many stories that I was going to tell Mama after we got out of that hospital, and I needed a place to put them.

I write because, to be honest, I’m a lousy scrapbooker.  I have a Joyful friend with whom I used to scrapbook.  It was fun and I stunk at it.  She was so fabulous, doing book after book for her girls, and my poor girl wound up with one.  So I write for my children.  So that one day they can look back and know who I am and who our people were and all of our stories.  I write about things so I’ll remember and so they will know–how crazy they made me and how much I slab dab love and adore them.

how does my writing/creating process work?

Oh my land.  Really?

Okay.  I go throughout my day paying attention.  I’m not sanctimonious about this or anything–it’s probably a bit OCD if you want to know the truth.  I take pictures of the strangest things.  My children have learned to quit asking why and just nod and say, “Oh, the blog.”  Some I use, some I don’t but a picture not taken is worth zero words.  (Or is it–hmmmm, make a note Tara–possible story there)

And that’s mostly how it works.  During the day (sometimes a couple of days before) a thought or story comes to mind.  Some days it starts writing itself and I have to hush it up until I can sit down with the keyboard for fear it will write itself and the words will be gone.  On the really hard topics, I mull them around for several days before the words float to the top insisting to be written.

Then there are days that I have nothing when I sit down to the keyboard.  After everyone settles in their beds and it’s just me and Miss Sophie (our dog) sitting in the recliner, I stare at the keyboard and surf a bit–Facebook, Pinterest, whatever, and I think.  I go back through my photos taken on my phone to see if something is there to inspire or trigger a story.  I’ve been known to text my oldest and say ?????HELP?????.  She usually tells me to go to bed or something like that.  In the end, something always comes.  It may or may not be great, but the important thing for me is to write from my heart, to continue writing, and to have it done before the Friends reruns or midnight, whichever comes first.  (That show makes me crazy–real people don’t live like that, but yeah, I still watch from time to time.)

On nights when nothing else seems to be coming to me, I sit and write free flow poetry.  I love writing poetry as much as prose, but it’s a totally different experience.  I feel freer when I write it.  And more exhausted after.  The ironic thing is I usually have more feedback from readers on my poetry than I do on the controversial topics that I’ve agonized over for days before writing.

Such is life.

 

Now that is way too much about me.  Here are the stars of the post, and I hope you’ve stuck with me so far, because now you’ve hit GOLD, my friends.  Here they are–writers whose voices touch my heart and whom I love very dearly.

And interestingly enough, they all have something in common.  One an alum Wesleyanne (a sister from my alma mater), one is currently a Wesleyanne, and the third is about to be a Wesleyanne.  Like Lisa who nominated me, they are all strong and smart women whose writings are very different but wonderful to read all the same.  I hope you will go visit all of them and cheer them on.  Be sure to follow them.  You give a writer a great gift when you hit that follow button–just so you know.  ❤

The first one you’ve already met in my story about the Scarf-Maker Who Could.  My friend, Michelle Chance-Sangthong.

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For nearly 20 years her career has revolved around most things internet — from online retail to digital marketing consulting. She loves public speaking and the possibilities that the web still holds, but she sees more, wants more, and dreams more. Early in 2014 she started blogging at Correct and Continue ( http://www.correctandcontinue.com ). Inspired by the notion as a new sewist that much of life, like sewing, often requires one to Correct and Continue. Life isn’t always a straight line, and it’s perfectly OK to make corrections and keep going. 

 

Next a young woman you might have read about here a time or two–my oldest whom I don’t know how I could be more proud of.  She amazes me at how strong she is and who she is becoming–Auburn Annabelle.

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Auburn is a sophomore at Wesleyan College in Macon, Georgia.  She is a double major in psychology and neuroscience and plans to earn a doctorate one day.  She blogs so her mama will know she’s okay at school, and so people can follow her journey through life as a Wesleyanne. She loves her guitar, her family, and sweet tea.  Follow her misadventures at www.auburnannabelle.com

 

Last but not least is a young woman who loves on my crazy crew and I am thankful for her.  At a young age, her voice is already saying important things.

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“I write about everyday life as a teenager finishing high school, preparing for college, and trying to figure out where to go from there. I like to write about simple things, although I’ve found that everyday moments can hold great truths about life.”    http://swimmingupstream23.blogspot.com

These three women give me hope for the present and future of our world.  I hope you enjoy visiting them, and that they become your great friends too.

Thanks again, Lisa, for inviting me on the Tour.  It’s been fun!

Thanks to all of you readers for joining me on this Tour Through Blogland.

Love to all.