Monday, July 30, 2012

Mommy Monday: Meet Ashley

I met Ashley at a playgroup, but I've grown to know her by reading her blog. 

Her entries make my heart feel good.

She refers to various shindigs as "little" parties.Understatement alert! Some of the details make my heart pitter patter. Check out a few of my favorites:
  • The Princess and the Pea baby shower tempts me to have another baby. I'm soooo just kidding.
  • The birthday garden party. (I try to remind myself she's talented and that I'm not a slacker mom when I see that one.) 
  • Her "cheesy" Valentine's Day party demonstrates one can even personalize at a kid zone.
  • A series of St. Patrick's Day ideas are on the site, but this one first captured my attention. 
  • As a gal from Kentucky, she knows how to celebrate the Kentucky Derby, complete with stick horses for the wee riders. 

I could go on and on, but who has time for that? Just go to her playgroup tags and you'll find the most amazing group of celebrations.

And you get the sense that she does it all out of love.  Her family has so much love that they've chosen to adopt another member.

I may have been drawn to the sparkly fun, but her heart is all over this blog.

The most recent party celebrates the first birthday of the daughter they've not yet held in their arms.   Big Sister wanted to have a party for Shi Si, or Sissy, even though they can't be with her yet.

They're on an incredible journey. Read here about seeing the first picture and a special calling  and postal progress.

I hope by sharing her blogs, I've helped make your heart feel good, too.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Sisterhoods and Blacklisted from the PTA

I'm a sucker for sisterhoods.

Today, let's celebrate good times for my writing sister Lela Davidson.

When first meeting Lela, you might not notice her tiara is a tad askew--mostly from kicking up her heels. She's a princess in the Realm of Life just like the rest of us, and she doesn't pretend otherwise--no matter how adorable she looks at first glance.

 Read her book. You'll see. Aside from her ability to make you laugh so hard your face hurts, here are a few reasons I know you'll like her.
  • Lela knows a photo op. When you say "cheese" with Lela, she'll correct the photographer if he or she tries to snap the picture in bad lighting or at an unflattering angle. And she doesn't make fun of you for making sure you're wearing lipstick on your mouth and not your teeth--because she's doing the same thing.
  • Lela knows how to conduct a cover up.We may or may not have crashed a Teen USA pageant after-party that had lots of leftover food.   A video of this event may or may not exist. She promised it had been destroyed. Then again, it's Lela. She may be holding it for blackmail.  In spite of her willingness to do such a thing--or perhaps because of it--I like her and welcome her into my sisterhood.  Because at the root of it, I know she's got my back. After all, she was the sister who convinced me that I owed it to myself to hire someone else to clean my house so I could write. That's the kind of advice that makes me a better person.
  • Lela knows how to party. When she had a "significant" birthday, she threw herself a prom.  A prom! When she released the hilarious, award winning Blacklisted from the PTA, she threw a fabulous release party. One year later, when she invited me to give away her book on its first birthday, I said, "A Lela Davidson party? Heck, yeah! I'll drink to that!" Celebrate here with a non-alcoholic beverage.

I'm so proud of her!

Since it's a celebration, I need shoes.  These Loubuiton Cinderella shoes might do the trick since Lela lived the fairy tale of transforming from an accountant to full-time writer.  Of course, the shoes on the cover of Lela's book are pretty nice, too.

Ready for your party favor?

To enter to win your copy of Lela's award winning, autographed copy of Blacklisted from the PTA, tell me why you're proud of one of the gals in your sisterhood

Lela will write any message you request and send the copy the second week of August.

So...go ahead, celebrate a sister.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Writer's Wednesday: Michelle Krys and Ruth Lauren Steven Host Christmas in July Contest

Have you heard about the Christmas in July contest? Young adult authors Michelle Krys and Ruth Lauren Steven gave this gift to their writing peers.

I didn't even get them socks.

Here are the details:

Writers with complete manuscripts submitted a query and their first 500 words in the hopes that one of the ten agents participating in the contest will say, "I must have this book. Send me your masterpiece."

This contest is a wonderful opportunity. Seriously...they trended on Twitter on the day of submissions.

Wait...contest deadline...It's over?  Why should you care?

In the voyeuristic vein of Query Shark and Miss Snark (may her blog rest in peace), you can watch this contest unfold. Witness the next best seller in infancy.  It's like So You Think You Can Dance for writers.

Sort of.

Michelle Krys and Ruth Lauren Steven played agents and trudged through over 300 entries to select their 15 faves and post them on their blogs.

That means, dear writer friend, that you get to look at real queries and opening pages that caught their attention. Plus, you get to watch how it plays out and witness what catches the agents' attention.

Pretty cool, right? Yep. Christmas in July.

Check out what's under the tree!

Click here to see Ruth Lauren Steven's picks.

Click here to see Michelle Krys's picks.

I know the perfect gift in return. Buy their books! 

Merry Christmas in July!

Monday, July 16, 2012

Babies, Books, and Birthdays

I dreamed my baby girl walked. She strutted her stuff wearing nothing but a frilly diaper cover.  Jumping in the air with arms stretched in spirit fingers, I yelled, "Yay! Go, Baby Girl! Mommy is so proud of you!"

 In my dream, little Miss Independent looked over her bare shoulder and stared right into my eyes. I was almost too distracted by her bright blues and flawless skin to notice one dimpled hand gripping a cigarette.
The next generation?

Then she blew smoke rings at me.  

Go ahead. Psychoanalyze me.

She'll be one in a couple of months.  ONE. I've pinned a few ideas for her party.

So much happens in a year.

Next week, I'm helping celebrate a friend's book birthday.  So, check back for your chance to win an autographed copy of an award winning--and hilarious--book.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

What Should I Read Next?

It's a cycle.

I fall in love with a book.  My body exists in this world while my mind stays in the one created by the author.  The book ends, and I sigh in satisfaction.

Then I gasp.

What will I read next?

Inevitably, I pick up several books that would be great under different conditions, but they don't satisfy my craving. Who wants to eat sushi when you're hankering for a  s'more?

Know the feeling?

Well, have I got a present for you!

It's a website called What Should I Read Next?
Simply type in a book or author you enjoy and a list of lovely choices will appear.

Most people would say that an extensive database and a computer genius are behind this site.

They're wrong.

When something speaks to my heart and makes me this happy.... I know my fairy godmother made it so.

Don't believe me? Check for yourself.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Not on my schedule

When I get anxious I organize.

I'm not a naturally organized person.  I don't see life in black/white, right/wrong, yes/no.  When a gal's perspective is so grey,  it's hard to choose what goes in which file or gets stashed in what box. But I envy those who can.

I often recall a friend whose mother organized her closet when we were in junior high. She had little labels that separated the types of clothes.  Plus, they were categorized by color.

At the time, I thought that might be what everyone else's mom did.

As a mother of two, too-soon-to-be inquisitive tweens, I marvel at my mom's restraint when I asked her why my closet wasn't like my pals.

My spirit was calmed in the order of it all.

So I began picking up my mom's Family Circle and reading each month's ideas on organizing the life I didn't have yet.

As a child, extra-curricular activities filled my calendar.  I color coded it so my parents could read it easier so they'd know when and where to drive me. In college, I realized I had to create a calendar for me. As a teacher, I scheduled every minute of the hour. Sure, we might end up spending 22 minutes on an item I'd planned spending only 3 minutes on, but it was a nice guideline.

Yeah, yeah, yeah:The best laid plans of mice and men.... I know you can't prepare for everything but trying and failing sure beats living with the regret of not trying at all.
A schedule is a lifejacket in the unexpected storms fate throws my way.

My calendar-keeping gets on some people's nerves.  And I could spend lots of time fretting about it. But you know what?

It's not on my schedule.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Happy 4th of July Week to my Fellow Firecrackers!

The sizzle, screams, and splendor of fireworks are all part of Independence Day.

2012 was the first time the youngest generation of cousins picked out firecrackers and played with fire.

Perhaps it was a bad idea considering the variety of mishaps that occurred when my generation was sitting at the kids' table. Bottle rockets caught a field on fire. A string of Black Cats exploded in my brother's hand. My aunt "pantsed" her daughter because a sparkler caught her polyester pants on fire.

Sure, these things didn't happen when we were together. But with those experiences individually, what trouble might occur?

Time to make some memories!

We wore silly clothes.
Our ninety-one-year-old matriarch was thrilled to have her granddaughter and great-granddaughters visiting from Belgium and her grandson visiting from Virginia.  I'm sure she was happy we were there, too, but we now live down the street and around the corner so the novelty has worn off!
Don't we look festive?

We blew bubbles.

 We watched snakes "grow" and threw snappers.

We waved sparklers.

We made intelligent choices--like putting the bag of firecrackers on the baby stroller...

...and lighting a seemingly harmless train that blew smoke before miniature rocket launchers propelled it toward a gas grill's propane tank. Upon contact it rotated, shot sparks at the propane tank and sped beneath a parked automobile.

The gas tank immediately ignited.
I confess. That last part didn't happen for realsies. In my imagination it did, though. 

And it was a BIG fireworks display.

Hmmm. Maybe there's a reason fireworks are illegal in so many places.  Luckily, we all survived.

Hope your holidays were safe and continue to be throughout the weekend!