Friday, July 29, 2011

Friday Favorite: Showered with Love and Friendship

Last week, my friend Ange B hosted a shower for Baby Alexandra at Ange N's house. It was so much fun! I sometimes forget how lucky I am to have such amazing people in my life.  That Saturday reminded me of how blessed I am.  Others who couldn't be there sent good wishes. I'm one lucky girl. Thanks for such a great day!

Ange B and Ange N with a goofy looking me

pretty on the outside with chocolate and strawberries on the inside
my mom and sister-in-law

Class of '93 gals
Ange told me she thought showers were boring and planned to be different for me. (I felt sorry for her when her dj plans fell through.) She made it clear she was not about any sort of string-tying baby shower games.

Instead, she had everyone decorate onesies. How cool is that?  Thanks to the ladies in attendance, I have a personalized collection of adorable onesies made with love.
The other side had a ROOSTER!

This one was so detailed! She could have sold it, but Alexandra gets it. Yay!

If I taught Zumba, would my hair look like this?


I was so grateful to everyone who took time to be there. Alexandra and I feel loved!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Writer's Wednesday: Mark Twain Encourages You to Follow your Dreams

Mark Twain
Mark Twain wrote over 30 books in his lifetime. When considering he amassed such work without Microsoft Word, the accomplishment seems even more impressive. It's safe to say he knows a thing or two about the life of an author.

So...if you're considering writing or having trouble with your current project, listen to the wise words of Mr. Twain.

You: No one sees me as a writer.  I've been told it's a waste of time.
Mark Twain: Keep away from people who try to belittle your ambitions. Small people always do that, but the really great make you feel that you, too, can become great.

You: I have an idea, but how do I write the book?
Mark Twain: The secret of getting ahead is getting started. The secret of getting started is breaking your complex overwhelming tasks into small manageable tasks, and then starting on the first one.

You: I'd be so embarrassed if I tried to write a book and couldn't--or wrote it and no one wanted to publish it.
Mark Twain: Twenty years from now, you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover. 

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Toddler Tuesday: Tummy Photo and Little Boys

A little boy pointed at my tummy this weekend and said, "What's in there?

"My baby girl is growing until she's big enough to come out and play."

"How did she get in there?" he asked.

I hesitated and looked toward his mom.

His eyes widened.  "Did you eat her?"

Friday, July 22, 2011

Friday Favorite: Returned!

Weeks ago, I gave my critique group copies of Lucky Charm to critique.  In return, I offered swag to help them get through the work I hoped wouldn't inspire suffering.

 four-leaf-clover cup, M&Ms and a lucky charm

Today my sweet friend and critique buddy Lisa of the Lake--she's also our lake neighbor--brought three revised manuscripts.


Look at all the ink on those pages. I love it! I'm looking forward to sorting through their comments and making my book the best it can be.

I'm also nervous about whether or not they liked it and think it has value.

It deals with some dark situations. Heck, I had nightmares while writing it.  (If you've read my blog enough, you know I get nightmares from commercials and fairy tales, so that's no real testimony.)

So anyone expecting a book just like Glamour is in for a surprise. This one, folks, has edge. When I wrote Glamour, I feared people would confuse me with my characters, so I kept them all...acceptable. This time, I tried to stay true to what these characters would say or do--without my filters of propriety. As a result, they led me to realms much darker than I would choose myself.

I'm nervous to see how that went over with readers.

And there's only one way to find out.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Toddler Tuesday (on Thursday): Dragon Play Date

Maybe it's his age. Maybe it's his personality. Maybe it's because he's a boy. Maybe it's the influence of some kids he's no longer allowed to be around.

Whatever the reason, we've been concerned with how aggressive our little guy has become when playmates come to our home.

His cousin visited on Tuesday.

Beforehand, Max vowed to share his toys, be a good boy, and not hit anyone.  When they arrived, Max immediately shared a prized Tonka dump truck. I was so proud.

After a long bit of dashing around the house pushing yellow trucks, the squeals of joy were interrupted by a whimper from Caleb and a "He's okay!" from Max.

Um. Not okay.

They played well for a while and then we'd hear a cry again. After each out-of-sight altercation, Max hugged Caleb and apologized.

Finally, Caleb pointed at him and said, "I'm not hugging him again."

It's so hard not to laugh at moments like these.

Is it bad to hope a playmate will haul off and wallop my child to teach him a lesson? Then again, I think my child would laugh. He could be tackled, hit, and kicked and think it was a game.

But Caleb didn't hit him.  (And he says, "Yes, Ma'am" to his mom. How adorable is that?)

After Max pushed Caleb off his trike, I told him he'd have to take a nap. Hesitating only long enough to request milk, he immediately crawled into bed.

While he slept, Caleb--a year older and not requiring naps--regrouped. He must have developed the idea while watching Dinosaur Train.

Max woke up and wanted Caleb to join him in his play room. I encouraged him to ask Caleb nicely.  He walked in the tv room where Caleb happily nestled in Max's chair. Instead of asking him to play, Max told him to get out of his chair. Ugh.  Then he asked him nicely to play.

Caleb surprised us all with terrible roar!

Max responded with cries and real tears.

While comforting my hysterical child, I said, "He's just talking like a dinosaur.  You roar, too." I said to Caleb, "You're a dinosaur, aren't you?"

Caleb slowly shook his head. "I'm a dragon."

The power must have made him giddy because he roared at Max several more times before they left. Sweet revenge.

So...does anyone have suggestions for getting an almost three-year-old to "play nice"?

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Writer's Wednesday: Sarah Addison Allen's The Sugar Queen is sweet

A sweet read!

When I describe this book as delicious, I'm not being cliche.  The sensory details in The Sugar Queen are phenomenal. Each chapter is the name of a different candy.  Food is up front and center--practically a character itself. Most similes and metaphors are connected to food.

I had no suspicion it was written in the style of magical realism until it finally hit me like a bag of lemon drops. 

Sure, it's odd for an acquaintance to suddenly take up residence in your closet--that's stocked with your secret stash of sweets and travel magazines.

Yes, it's unusual to have characters so accepting of superstition.  The protagonist Josey smells like Christmas because her mother insists all entrances to the house be scented with peppermint to keep away unwanted visitors. 

However,  the aspect that made me realize the novel embraced magical realism as much as Josey embraces GooGoo Clusters is a character named Chloe who lives her life encountering books that find her. They show up on couches, bars, floors, car seats, etc. (But never a bathroom because they might get wet. That makes sense, right?)  Books hound her because they need to be read. Who needs a therapist when you have books seeking you to help you with life?  I love the idea. All Chloe has to do to find answers is pick up a book and read it.

Author Sarah Addison Allen may have a similar relationship with books because she wrote this essay entitled Just So You Know with which any book lover can identify.

I literally squealed when I read this book.  It was delightful.

Lisa of the Office (we have so many Lisa ladies in our life that they have special monikers) loaned this book to me, and I'm so grateful.

Books are a favorite gift of mine, and this one is begging to be gifted in a basket with lots of candy.  Allen's website has a book club link with a page link called The Candy.  Go here and see all of the sugary foods that are in the book. 

So, if anyone gets it from me for Christmas, know it's because I think you, like the book, are sweet.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Writer's Wednesday: Lela Davidson is Blacklisted by the PTA

It's here! Hooray!

My funny and fashionable writing pal has a new book! Click here to order your very own copy.
Isn't she adorable?
When Lela Davidson learned she could turn sass into cash, she left her accounting job. Readers have been grateful ever since. Lela writes about the real issues of being a wife and mom while finding the time to drink wine from a box in her driveway.

Check out her website and click on the links to read some of her many articles on family, business, and writing. She knows what she's talking about. Because of her, I'm completely guilt free about paying someone to clean my house. Every gal needs someone to tell it straight.

Lela does.

And in person? Yes. She's that funny.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

TV Tuesday: United States of Tara

Perhaps it's because, as a writer, I'm accustomed to characters talking to me.

Perhaps it's because I like to go to the next level and ask, "What if?"

Whatever the reason, I'm going to miss United States of Tara.

This three-season Showtime series features the amazingly talented Toni Collette as Tara Gregson, a thirty-something mom of two who struggles with DID (Dissociative Identity Disorder). Her patient and hunky hubby Max is played by John Corbett. The cast is full, interesting, and believable with daughter Kate (Brie Larson), son Marshall (Keir Gilchrist), sister Charmaigne (Rosemarie DeWitt) and family friend Neil (Patton Oswalt).

Tara's primary alternate personalities are a 1950's housewife named Alice, a beer-guzzling Vietnam vet named Buck, and a trouble making teen named T. She also has pop-psychologist Shoshana, child Chicken, and in the last season, evil half-brother Bryce.

Yet, I can somehow relate to her.

She loves her family.  She wants to be a steady mom to her children, give her husband some happiness, have a normal family dinner, hold her baby niece, not meet herself coming and going, and just be able to paint.

Those are normal, sane desires, right?

Since I'm no mental health professional, I can't speak to the accuracy of the potrayal of the mental illness.

However, the show serves a positive purpose by putting it out there for people to examine in a different way. So often, people make off-the-cuff comments about someone being "bi-polar" or "schizo." This show sheds light on a family that loves each other and must cope.

And that reality happens outside the realm of TV Land every day.

 Oprah reminded me of some bits of truth in the show. From two interviews, I saw bits of Tara's character. Does anyone else remember Trudy Chase? She had 92 personalities. She wrote a book, and a movie was made.  Read about Trudy Chase here.  Kim Noble is another mother who has 20 personalities. Like Tara, she's an artist. Read about Kim Noble here.

So many people look for drama, but this show deals with drama in a (sometimes darkly) comedic way.

Check it out.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Friday Favorite: For the Birds

About a month ago, a robin insisted on flying itself repeatedly against our patio door. Claws out.  His self-abuse continued for days from sun up to sun down.
Slam. Slam. Slam.  
People suggested he saw his reflection and was trying to fight it as some sort of attempt at finding a mate. His behavior could be considered similar to a bar room brawl for a girl. He didn't give up. It didn't make sense. He made a mess.
Since I don't know any bird bouncers, I did my best. First, I placed paper against the door to try to block the reflection.  That didn't work.  
Slam. Slam. Slam. 
Next, I cut colored paper into strips to look like snakes and taped them outside to catch the wind and move.  
Slam. Slam. Slam.  
The crazy bird answered my attempts by creating a makeshift nest and port-a-potty on our patio furniture. 
Then one day, he disappeared.
He must have found a mate who was impressed by his machismo.
Last week, while attempting to keep our flowers alive in this heat (Six of our seven pots still have blooms! New record for me.), I noticed a fuzzy little creature on the lawn. Somewhere between the size of a golf ball and baseball, it blinked up at me. Clearly it was terrified.  Its robin dad or mom flew frantically from the fence to the roof and back again. I showed Max the baby bird and his first thought, of course, was to step on it--but he didn't. When I went back outside, it was gone. A few days later, the nest I thought it was in was vacant, too.
Lake Wrens
Last weekend, we went to the lake. My dad has a little bird house.  Baby wrens were in it!  
On Tuesday, I found another robin's nest near our patio at home and we watched a parent feed three hungry little cheepers. I love the location of this nest because we can watch them from inside.
The parents always seem nervous as we watch.Whether it's the robin helping its baby take its first flight or the wren surprised by all the activity near its babes, they kept a close eye on us. We weren't like them, but we were part of the world their young would have to live in.
I can identify. I'm learning that whether you're a bird brain or not, sending one's young into the world is a tough part of life. 
Still, you won't catch me slamming myself into someone's patio door. 

Saturday, July 2, 2011

TV Toddler Tuesday: Sid the Science Kid

Did you know roly polies aren't insects? They're crustaceans--like lobsters!

I learned this at the same time my 2 year old did.

Sid the Science Kid totally rocks. Sid's family is loving and encourages curiosity. His friends are silly, smart and well behaved. His teacher sings songs. Each episode has at least one mini dance party and lots and lots of science.

Plus, the website is really cool.

I've always been lousy at science. Okay, not lousy, but it's definitely been my educational challenge.  A teacher once told me that if I'd cheated like the rest of her (insert science here) class in high school, I'd have been valedictorian. ?! I worked my tail off and earned an 89.8. No rounding, obviously.

And, yes, I'm still bitter.

In college, I signed up for astronomy, half-way thinking it was astrology. Oops.  Oh well, my soon-to-be boyfriend-and-eventual-hubby took that class. My science challenge required lots of study dates. Hmm. I guess our future was written in the stars!

My brother understands science. Growing up, whenever the science fair rolled around each year, he had plenty of ideas.  Me? I always wished it was the art fair. Now, he teaches science.  He also has a beautiful yard in which flora actually grows. My yard is a place plants come to die. Clearly, my sibling inherited the science gene.

But, with Sid the Science Kid and my brother and hubby's help, I'm thinking that my son has a future with comprehending science.

Who knows? Maybe I can, too.

Yeah, right.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Friday Favorite: Inklings Retreat 2011 and Adams Corner at Cherokee Nation Heritage Center

Each year for the last eight years, we've had an Inklings Writing Retreat at Lake Tenkiller.  

We always critique,
relax on the deck,
  enjoy the water,
 take a walk,

and, apparently, take pictures in front of other people's stuff as exhibited here

and here.

We often have a workshop 

and try to explore something in the local area like here
and here.


This year, after a delicious meal at The Branch with a view of a creek that holds a spring from which Tahlequah supposedly got its name, we took a tour of Adams Corner at the Cherokee Heritage Center. 
Although the town looked like Little House on the Prairie, words were written in Cherokee, using Sequoyah's syllabary
Karen Coody-Cooper ,one of our Inklings members, couldn't join us for the retreat in a traditional sense--because she works at the Cherokee Heritage Center. So, we went to see her.
Martha Bryant, Dee Dee Chumley, Sonia Gensler, Karen Coody-Cooper (in 19th C. garb), Kelly Bristow
Karen sharing fascinating facts about Cherokee culture in Indian Territory during the late 19th Century
Due to the time, we were able to get into the museum (for free!) and catch the Cherokee Seminary exhibit. The center is on the grounds of the original Cherokee Seminary.  Below is a picture of us standing in front of three remaining columns that surrounded the first school that was destroyed by fire.
Martha Bryant, Sonia Gensler, pregnant moi, Dee Dee Chumley (Photo courtesy of Sonia Gensler)

I always gain so much inspiration from these weekends.  Not only are the ladies great writers and critics, but they're also great friends. It was another fabulous weekend.