Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Friends and Family and Fun, Oh My!

My week away from blogging wasn't supposed to happen. I never had any intention of disappearing for a week. I am SO sorry to anyone that I may have worried. I know that it might sound silly to apologize for not being here, but I really feel like I owe it to you guys, and to myself, to keep this blog going. Besides, I feel really sad when Charity, CherryRed, or Lorraine don't post for a few days, and I miss them. It sounds really horrible, but I hope they miss me too. At least just a little bit. And no, that's not me fishing for a compliment or anything, it's just me being honest.

As for why I was gone - there really is no other answer than - LIFE. The last time I blogged was last Wednesday. I worked Wednesday night. And Thursday night. It's a lot harder than I remember it being. It is actually WORK. I guess I'm not used to it anymore. I'm just used to sitting here, using my brain. This job was supposed to be a no-brainer job, but it's harder than that. Yeah, I know, I'm just getting people drinks and food. How tough can that be, right? Wrong. It's tough. I have to remember things, and smile all the time. I have to listen to the 19 year olds talk about all the drugs they did the night before and not lecture them. I have to deal with the 200 pound woman who enjoys doing things like pulling my shirt untucked from my pants. She seems to love to torment me, and I almost hit her last night. That's pretty sad. If I don't like the job, then I shouldn't be there. But I just hate to quit, and it's only been a few weeks, so we'll just see.

Friday, I took the kids to a birthday party at Dana's house, for her daughter Ryleigh. The party was over around 8pm, but we ended up staying later. Of course. Shane showed up and ate. My new friend Emily was there. And Kelly finally showed up with her kids. Finally. She drove down from PA for the weekend. She got to Dana's and decided we needed to go to a bar. We went to Tim's II out in Fairview Beach. The site linked is pretty old, but I'm almost positive there are some pics that I took still on the site. I worked there for 3 summers, and loved it. I'd still work there if we hadn't moved to the farm. We (Kel, Em, Shane, Chris, and me) sat out on the deck and drank cold drinks on a hot night. It was awesome. Then we went back to Dana's and crashed pretty hard.

Saturday morning, we had youth group. I won't even try to tell you all that we discussed. Saturday afternoon, we went to the Grand Opening of a friend's tack shop, The Hitching Post. I'll be doing the website for the owner, Angie. I'll give you guys a link when it's done. Saturday night, I took Kel to Colonial Beach for Bingo. Yes, Bingo. As in little old blue haired ladies B-i-n-g-o. No blue hair in sight though. And, Kel won almost $300. I really thought they were gonna kick us out when she won the first two rounds. I was scared. We stopped by 7-11 on our way home, and Kel got carded for beer. Can you believe that? I couldn't. It was hysterical. What was even funnier was that her id was in her other purse, back at Dana's.

Sunday morning was church. We had a guest speaker. I wasn't impressed, and Kel got offended. That's all I'm saying about that.

Sunday afternoon, Dana dropped her kids off and took Kel and I to Virginia Center Commons in Richmond. The plan was shop, then eat, then hit the bookstore. We shopped. Then met up with Emily and her husband. Then ate. Then drank. Then drank some more. Well, I was GOOD. I only had a single Bloody Mary and one yucky lemon drop. Other people had a bit more. But I won't mention any names (K-E-D!). Then we made a mad dash to Barnes and Noble and tried to buy books. Have you ever gone to a bookstore with three drunk chicks? It's just way too much fun. The mission was to find a copy of "Welcome To Temptation" (By Jennifer Crusie) for Kelly, and "Ex and the Single Girl" by Lani Diane Rich, for me. I have a copy of WTT, but The Cherry herself signed it, and it's not leaving my house without me EVER again! We finally found the books, plus I picked up "The Mermaid Chair" by Sue Monk Kidd, and "Madame Mirabou" by Barbara Samuel. You know about Madame Mirabou already. I'm reading Mermaid right now. I finished off Ex yesterday. LOVED IT. Go buy it. It's good, I promise. I need to read more of Lani's stuff. She's awesome.

Anyhow, they finally kicked us out of B&N and we went back to my place. All of us. And played a drinking game. It wasn't supposed to be a drinking game, but it was adapted, just for me. We drank way too much. I think 3 out of 4 of us girls worshipped the porcelain god that night. Maybe it was only 2, I'm not sure. I just know it wasn't me, and for that I am thankful. I held my liquor like a champ. Shame on me, right? I shouldn't drink, I'm a responsible adult. I have 6 kids. I go to church. Yeah, well, I did it anyhow. And I had a great time. So sue me. Pray for me. Ridicule me. Frankly, I really don't care. It was fun.

That brings us to Monday. When I was supposed to work at 8am. I made it there by 9:30. Hey, it's not brain surgery. It's serving up biscuits and gravy. And thankfully, I was NOT hungover. Just very very tired. I got home in time to say goodbye to Kel and her kids. She may be back next week. I really hope so. I love having her here. She's been around longer than Shane and 5 of my kids, so she really has a very special place in my heart. I just love that, I mean - woman.

Tuesday was more work. But before that, I took the kids to see X-Men III. Loved it. Really. Totally set it up for a fourth, and that didn't even bother me. The chick that played Phoenix had totally amazing hair, and I'm thinking of copying her soon. We'll just see.

Anyway, with all of that, is it any wonder that I didn't blog at all for a week?

Me and Madame Mirabou

It's been a while since I've been here. I took a totally unplanned week off from blogging. I still checked out my friends' blogs daily, but just didn't have a whole lot to say on my own. I had stuff brewing up there in my head, and I think I was afraid to let anything spill out that I might need. Some of you may know how that goes. I will blog all about my lost week, but first I must tell you about this book.

I picked up "Madame Mirabou's School of Love" by Barbara Samuel on Sunday evening. I was in Richmond with friends, and we simply HAD to get to the bookstore. There is more to that story, and it will be in another blog. I needed some unread books, new blood if you will. I'd read most everything in my house a few times, and really wanted something like springtime, breezes blowing after a rain, flowers blooming. FRESH.

I remembered this book from the HW/SW blog. Jenny Crusie talked about the cover. I have to agree with her, it is FABULOUS. There is just something about this cover that makes me LONG for a claw-footed tub and a bottle of Ms. Clairol. It's not sexy, this cover. It's beyond sexy. It's sensuous. That's not a word that I use every day, and it is generally reserved for something needing highest praise. This book's cover earns the word, and then some.

The book lived up to the cover.

Yes, that sentence is it's very own paragraph. You don't get much more to the point than that. I can't tell you much about this book, because I want you to go out and buy it. Today. And read it all at once. Tonight. I don't say that about many books. This one warrants it.

Nikki/Nicole is reeling from her recent divorce. She's moved into an apartment complex full of other recent singletons. She is struggling with betrayal, and loss, and fear. She is middle-aged, and feeling it. She feels adrift, and disconnected from what is now her life. These are common themes in books today, and I wasn't expecting anything much different from the hundred other books (yes, literally!) that I read every month.

I was transported to Colorado, breathed in the crisp air, marveled at Pike's Peak, tasted the wholesome quiche from Annie's. I ached for Wanda and Roxanne, Nikki's new friends. I could see them as MY friends (in fact, I know a Roxanne, and they are similar in many ways). My stomach fluttered with Nikki's as she rediscovered dating and the singles scene.

Nikki loves to mix scents. She has a nose that can identify smells. She creates exotic and personal perfumes. It's her passion. It became my passion as well. I could smell these things that she described. I felt transported to picnics, and walks, and lazy afternoons with my children. The way that the author uses words to create the feelings and memories that the smells evoke for Nikki was nothing less than breathtaking for me.

Ok, I can't tell you anymore. You just have to buy it. And tell me all about how you got lost in the pages, how you found something of yourself that you'd forgotten. How you discovered something new. It's all in there. I hated it when I reached the last page. Nothing tells me a book was REALLY GREAT more than that feeling of despair in my gut when I realize it's over. I finished this book an hour ago, and I still have that feeling.

Bye now. I'm off to read it again.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

So, what's your sign?

Yes, it may be a really passe pickup line, but it still makes me think. I used to think that you could learn a lot about a person from their astrological sign. I mean, sometimes it seems right on the money, doesn't it?

I'm a Cancer, or a Moonchild, as I prefer to be called. Some of those descriptions are very accurate for me. For instance, I found this on the following website, and it is pretty close to me

The Cancerian character is the least clear-cut of all those associated with the signs of the zodiac. It can range from the timid, dull, shy and withdrawn to the most brilliant, and famous Cancerians are to be found through the whole range of human activity. It is a fundamentally conservative and home-loving nature, appreciating the nest like quality of a secure base to which the male can retire when he needs a respite from the stresses of life, and in which the Cancerian woman can exercise her strong maternal instincts. The latter tends to like and to have a large family.

Yep, that's pretty much ME, to a tee. But the Zodiac isn't the only one that nails me. I was cruising Cherry Red's blogsite ( cherryredwriter. and came across her Enneagram symbol. She's a 4. I wanted to know what the heck that meant, so I clicked on the icon. I took the mini-test and found that I'm a 2. Well, that seemed to fit ok for me as well. Click on the icon over there on the right (or use this link: ), take the test, and see if it fits you. Here's the down and dirty on me, though I'm not all too thrilled with some of it:

The Caring, Interpersonal Type:

Generous, Demonstrative, People-Pleasing, and Possessive

    Basic Fear: Of being unwanted, unworthy of being loved
  • Basic Desire: To feel loved

Then there's the Myers-Briggs test. If you've ever been in the military, seen a high school guidance counselor, or taken a college psychology test, you're probably already familiar with this one. I found one online ( ), and Kel found one too. I
took the mini there, and reaffirmed that I am, in fact, an INFP. Honestly, I think this one comes the closest to really describing me. Here's a sample of what it says. If you know me (or think you do) tell me if you think it fits:

Healer Idealists are abstract in thought and speech, cooperative in striving for their ends, and informative and introverted in their interpersonal relations. Healer present a seemingly tranquil, and noticiably pleasant face to the world, and though to all appearances they might seem reserved, and even shy, on the inside they are anything but reserved, having a capacity for caring not always found in other types. They care deeply-indeed, passionately-about a few special persons or a favorite cause, and their fervent aim is to bring peace and integrity to their loved ones and the world.

So, with all of that, you'd think I'd have a pretty clear picture of myself, right? If you actually sais "YES" then you really don't know me at all. I still have no clue. And what's worse - I think I'm even more confused now than when I started. See, maybe it's part of my personality, maybe it's my upbringing, maybe it's my self-induced transformation since becoming a MOM, but I just don't know that I really fit into any category anymore. Now that's about conceited, huh? I mean, to think that I'm not categorizable (yeah, like THAT'S a word!) means that I'm unique, right? I'm different. *I* am the square peg, and I will NOT be stuffed into that stupid round hole. Got it?

Now if I could just figure out a way to embody all of those good things and get rid of the bad, I'd be happy.

Monday, May 22, 2006

Blinking cursor of death

Is anyone else addicted to blogs besides me? This is a fairly new phenomenon to me, but I'm really enjoying it. I've heard about and read blogs for a while now, but never thought of doing one of my own. If you've read my blog since the beginning, you know that the fact that I have one can be attributed to Cherry Red, right? She's got a great blog over at . I wanted to comment one night, and couldn't without a blogger id. In the process of getting an id, I signed myself up for a blog. Now, I can't seem to stay away from here.

Blogger is a fun place to be when I'm on the computer. Many times, when my blinking cursor of death is trying to suck the very life right out of me, I close down the WIP and head to my blog. After I read through any new comments, I head over to some of my friend's blogs. I like to leave comments for them, for a few different reasons. First of all, if they've said something that I can relate to, or something that has really touched me, I want them to know it. Second, it gets kind of lonely in blog-land sometimes. The only way you know that you're reaching people is if they leave a comment. Often, the only thing that makes me want to make another blog post is because of encouragement that I've received from comments. I like to return the favor and comment when I can.

I've asked Shane to write a program that replaces my blinking cursor of death with a heart. He laughed when I asked him to do that. After I explained why, he understood. See, writing is a LOT harder than I thought it would be. I might have mentioned this already, maybe once or nine times. I've always liked to write. I've always felt compelled to write. Often, I'll write short stories, or poems, for myself or friends. I've written long letters that I still have, just because it's so often easier for me to express myself on paper than in voice. But writing, a story that may eventually be sold??? Yeah, that's nothing but work. With a capital W.

Recently, I got stalled in my WIP by the blinking cursor of death. I call it that because the damn blinking basically kills any creative impulse that may have been mulling around inside of me. Don't confuse this with writer's block, I don't think they are the same thing. With my current story, I know the characters. I know basically what is going to happen. There are details, many details, that I don't know yet. There are some conflicts that I haven't totally resolved. But the story is there, in my mind. The trouble is, I can't always get it onto my screen the way I want it. I was introducing a new character, and I knew all about her. I knew her age, what she looked like, how she dressed, her likes and dislikes, her fears, what part she played in the story. I HAD this girl down. Except her name. I just wasn't sure what her name was yet. I knew that it would come to me, and it would be perfect, but I hadn't figured it out yet. I wrote around that for a bit, but then I just couldn't anymore. When the main character needed to speak to her directly, it seemed imperative that I have her be addressed by name. A placeholder just wouldn't do. So there my story sat, for DAYS, with that damn BCOD just mocking me. That's when I came up with the idea to replace the cursor with a heart. If I had a blinking heart there, maybe I would feel the luuuuv instead of feeling that OpenOffice was laughing at me. See my dilemma?

She has a name now, by the way. It's a great name. It's nothing crazy, or wacky. It's not unusual, or funky. It's a name. But it fits her. I like it. It may change before I'm done, but I doubt it. The name seems just right. And the story is moving along quite nicely, thankyouverymuch.

Screw that damn blinking cursor! But if anyone figures out how to turn the BCOD into a heart, let me know, will ya?

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Michele's Luminaria

Sorry for the picture quality, this was taken by my cell phone.
It says, from top left to right:
Relay For Life, American Cancer Society
In Honor

With Cherry Love,
Twilight Rising

every candle has a name...

Twilight Rising is the name of our Youth Group at church.

Ok, that's it for now. I'm grabbing some coffee, and heading upstairs with "Blondes Have More Felons", where I will stay until I pass out.

Good night all!

Oh! What a Night!!

I am beyond exhausted, but I just can't sleep. I mean, I crawled into bed at 7:07am, and that was 4 hours ago. I've had 4 hours of sleep. That's enough, right? Yeah, of course it is.

Relay For Life was FANTASTIC!! I am totaly wiped out: my eyes are bleary from leaving in my contacts, my feet are aching from being in my shoes, my knees are throbbing from that last extra lap around the track, my back has popped too many times to count, and I've really NEVER FELT BETTER.

The night started with the Bagpiper playing "Amazing Grace". The bagpiper was followed by way too many things to try to remember, but I'll give you some highlights. My babies did a Teddy Bear lap. Jordan played Bingo and WON. A LOT. Gret knew the words of the "old" songs they played. Mathew said "Mom, I thought this would be boring, but it's really FUN!" Michael disappeared for most of the night, playing soccer. My older girls donated almost 24 inches of hair to Locks of Love. We saw friends that we haven't seen in ages, including Gret's 4th grade teacher than almost cried when he saw Emile.

Jordan had one sad moment. We were walking around the track together, and she just started crying. Looking at all of the Luminarias was very over-powering for her. She looked up at me and said "Mom, each one of these lights is for SOMEBODY. A real person. It's just so sad. There are SO many lights". I'm getting choked up thinking about it now. So we stopped, right there on the track. I turned her to the rows of Luminarias that was paving the track. I showed her how some of them said "In Memory" and some of them said "In Honor". I explained the difference between the two. I told her that 25 years ago, there weren't a whole lot of "In Honor" lights, because not a whole lot of people made it. She looked and realized that there were "In Honor" lights all over the place. But she still adopted the slogan for the night :
“There is no finish line until we find a cure”.

We lit an "In Honor" Luminaria for Michele. I'm hoping to be able to get the picture uploaded. They did these cool white bags, with a little sand in the bottom of the bag, and a cup of sand, with a white candle. Our campsite was just a little down from Michele's light. The teens, and my own kids, all knew exactly where her light was, and checked it out on every lap to make sure that it stayed lit all night long. At the end of the night, we brought the light back to our campsite. I have the bag with me. I'll be happy to send it out to Michele if she wants it (minus the sand and candle, of course!).

Basically, we have a great group of teens that had a blast doing something that was very worthwhile. Everyone had a lot more fun than they thought they would have. The weather cooperated all night. It got a little chilly, but it never poured like it was suuposed to. It sprinkled on us a few times, but not bad enough to make me take the wee ones away. Thanks for all of the prayers and happy thoughts. I could feel your love keeping us dry!

Now that this night is finally wrapped up, the only left to do for Relay For Life is...


Friday, May 19, 2006

Relay For Life

This is just a short blog today. I have so much stuff going on that I should actually be on the road already.

This morning, I had computer training at the new job. This was only supposed to take about 2 hours, but it took more like 3.5. Ugh!

Then I headed back home to catch up on stuff and make sure my kids ate lunch. Shane is at the golf course, and the weather is getting blecky. Right now, I'm frantic that he's going to be late, and we're going to get out of here late. I still need to stop at the store. Yikes, time is running out fast.

Tonight, our youth group is participating in RELAY FOR LIFE. If you've never heard of this, google it, because I don't have time to look up a link. Basically, it's a fundraiser for the American Cancer Society. Everyone is gathering at the high school (the one in my OLD county, 45 mins from my house), setting up tents, and walking around the track all night. They have special laps for different things. My two oldest girls are donating their beautiful tresses to Locks of Love. We're all very excited.

I'm a bit worried about the weather. It might storm. This would be bad, because I'll have all 6 of my wee ones with me, and they don't really like COLD things. Hopefully, the weather will be kind to us.

On a special note, our family has purchased a LUMINARIA for Michele, my Cherry friend that was recently diagnosed with breast cancer. You can read more about Michele at her site, or over at Cherry Red's site

We're excited to be able to do this, even though we don't know Michele personally. The teens are totally psyched about the money that they've raised. My kids are thrilled to be able to spend a night outside with the youth group.

Keep us in your prayers, send happy thoughts our way, pass on your good vibes...whatever it is that you do, do it in full force for us tonight. Keep your eyes on the weather channel and hope that the rain stays away from that little section of Virginia near the Potomac, halfway between DC and Richmond.

Man I wish I was having Alesia Holliday's weather in Daytona right now!!

Thursday, May 18, 2006

New Job

First, let me direct you to Kel's new blog, over at She's going to get into her bodybuilding stuff now that her college term is over for a few weeks. If you get the chance, head over there and give her some encouragement. I know she'll appreciate it!!

Second, I'm sending a "Poor Baby" out to Charity's ( ) son. The poor lil' guy missed his class trip to the WaterPark today, because he was sick. He's been looking forward to it for a while, so he was really disappointed. Char, being the GOOD MOMMY that she is, has promised to take him later in the summer. Send a "Poor Baby" to Charity too, since she was home with two sick babies today. Of course, she got all that couch snuggle time, so she's not hurting too bad!

Also, Lorraine ( ) has some crazy people hangin' out in her head. She's a writer, so what can you expect. But seriously, I love checking in with her every day. If you're a just-starting-ou-in-the-biz writer (like *I* am), it's full of great hints and encouragement.

And if any of you have heard from Cherry Red lately, tell her I miss her blogs!

Those are the four non-commercial MUST READs for me every day. Those are the ones that I click on at least twice a day, just to see if they have anything new. Check them out sometime. I know you'll like them as much as I do. Ok, now that I've sent out cyber-love to my favorite bloggers, I guess I can get on with this post.

I started a part time job today. I'm back in the restaurant biz, at one of those right off the interstate places that serves home cooked, Southern style food. I really needed to get this job. First, we're poor right now. Yes, my man makes really good money. But we're carrying two mortgages right now, and it's about to kill us. We still haven't rented out our second house, and it's a lot harder to make that second payment than I thought it would be. Second, I really needed to get out of my house for a few hours a week. I adore my kids, and I wouldn't want them gone on a regular basis. There's no way they're going to school or anything. Yet, I really feel like I need this as a sanity check. This is actually the longest I've ever gone without having some sort of PT job. I haven't worked outside the home at all in over a year. That's just way too long to be cooped up alone with my kids.

Tonight was training for me. Well, we also got to eat, and that's never a bad thing. I think I'm gonna like this place. They are very understanding about the hours that I can work, they have a decent promotion package, if I stick around that long, and it's fairly close to my house. Plus, as with any restaurant job, you get cash money to take home with you every night you work. That's the bonus.

Paychecks will go into my savings account and cash will go into my pocket. The plan, for me, is to use my cash for all the stuff that I do with the kids. Usually, that takes a chunk out of Shane's paycheck, so this will help.

So, in review, I got a new job, in a food place. I'm going to be saving my checks, and spending my cash. I will also be eating more biscuits, so remind me to keep working out, ok?

Now go check out those blogs that are linked here. Be sure to leave some comments. If you have a blog, you know how nice it is when people leave comments for you. It's nice to see your hit counter go up, but it's even better when people take the time to say they read what you wrote.

Go on, click the links and check those blogs. You'll be glad you did!

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Livin la vida yo-yo

Yep, you guessed it. I'm talking about my weight. How many days have I put it off? Well, I haven't really talked about it yet, so just bear with me, ok?

I think about my body a lot. Part of it has to do with being married to a younger, and very sexy, man. Yes, Jennifer Crusie could have written "Anyone But You" about me. Well, except I have kids. And I don't have a basset hound mix. And my man is not 10 years younger than me. And he's not a doctor. Well, ok, so really, I don't have a lot in common with Nina. Except that whole younger man thing.

Sometimes, after this many years together, I actually forget about the fact that my darling man is my junior. Then things happen. Like yesterday. One of the kids asked who Divo was. And I started laughing. I tried explaining it, because I could clearly remember Divo, but I was laughing too hard. So I said "Tell them, honey". And he just stared at me. With a totally blank face. "I have no idea what you're talking about." "Oh, come on. DIVO. You know, 'Whip It'?" Still nothing. Then I realized... I was remembering second grade, or thereabouts. Shane was ...ummnm...well.... ok, dammit. Shane was TWO. There. I said it. He was freakin TWO YEARS OLD when I was singing Whip It on the playground!

I had 4 children when we got together. And I NEVER let him see me naked in any kind of light for months. I totally understood that part. And I tried for MONTHS to convince him that he should be with someone younger, and without baggage (read that as kids, ok?) Now, I have to tell you that I don't think I've ever loved him more than when he met my kids. He fell hard and fast for them. And he knew, going in, that it was a total package deal. That's probably why I tried so hard to talk him out of it. Well that, and I really didn't want him to see all those stretch marks.

I was watching Bridget Jones 2 tonight, and it reminded me about this same thing. The part where she's getting out of bed, and she has the sheet wrapped around her, and he asks what she's doing, and she says tht she doesn't want him to see her wobbly bits. Yep, that was soooo me. And to some extent, it still is.

My husband, bless him, professes to love all of me too. As well he should, as there is a LOT of me to love. When we got together, my youngest was just one. I'd finally lost all my baby weight and more, and was looking pretty ok. Then my baby got sick, and I lost even more weight. So we'd been together for over a year, and found out we were having Maggie. There went my waistline. There came more stretchmarks. Emile came along 15 months later.

You know, if you're a regular person, your body seems to take much longer to bounce back after each child. I walked out of the hopsital in my size 3s after having Gret. Same thing with Michael. But after Emile? Not a chance. I wore my maternity clothes for months. She was lovely number 6, so it didn't really matter to me. Well, she's (gulp) FIVE now, and it really matters.

At my most healthy, I'm about 140. I think I look sickly if I'm much below that, I really do. I've been down to 120, and I looked really bad. I'm happy around 140. Last summer, I was up above 190. YIKES. Yep, that was a wake-up call. You know, I don't think I looked that big, but it just wasn't me. So now, I'm hovering around 155. Well, I'll battle back down to that in the next few days. That time of the month and all, I always pack on a few extra pounds.

But really, I'm trying to figure out what the hell I'm doing. I mean, I'm 33 years old. I have given birth to 6 children. I'm not huge. Yes, I'm a little round. But really, not too bad. I think it's just vanity. I mean, people say things like "You look GREAT for having six kids!" And I think, "I don't want to look great for having six kids, I want to look GREAT!!"

I'd like to blame it on society and the ridiculous obsession with being skinny. I'd like to blame it on the media and Demi and Julia. I'd even like to blame it on men. But really, I think it's just me. I don't need to look like I did at 18, but 23 wouldn't be too bad. Of course, I wasn't all that happy at 23, even though I was thinner. I'm pretty happy now, even though I'm not so thin. So I really have no idea where I'm going with this. Is it better to be happy and round, or skinny and miserable, or shoot for the happy medium of content and thin?

You tell me, because I really can't seem to figure it out.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Mommy knows best

I'm a little steamed right now, and I'm going to vent. Well hell, it's my blog, and I can do that, right? Damn straight.

So I asked a question over at another blog, and it started a semi-intense discussion, and it's just got me thinking, and now I'm stewing. Well, I plan on going to the Berry Farm today, with my children AND Shane, and I really don't want to still be stewing. So it's all getting out of me now.

As some of you know, I'm very protective of my children. We took them out of public school, and closely monitor who they are allowed to spend time with. No, I know that I can't watch them every second of every day, but I'm not going to be one of those moms like my mom was. I will know where they are when they leave the house. I will know their friends, and the parents of their friends. I will know what they are reading, what they watch on tv, who they call on the phone, what sites they visit online. They don't live in a bubble, but I know who they are with when they leave my side. They have my trust until they lie to me about something. Then it must be earned again.

It was brought up that promiscuity and teen pregnancy are on the rise, and even suggested that they happen to kids that are too protected more than other kids. There seems to be an attitude that allowing your kids to do, see, or experience whatever they want whenever they want will keep them from wanting things that might not be good for them. I'm sorry, but I just don't agree with this. I mean, WTF?!?

Another part of my frustration comes from knowing that I am one of the most liberal parents in our group of friends. My daughter can watch movies and read books that most of her friends are forbidden. We talk on a very regular basis about dating, and relationships, sex and drugs, etc. Most of her friends never have those discussions with their parents. However, I don't think that those discussions mean she is ready to have sex yet, or even ready to read about it graphically.

And honestly, if she came to me and really wanted to read a certain book, I would read it first. Then I would encourage her to read it. Then we would discuss it. That's how it works in my family. I honestly can't remember the last time she wanted to read something and I told her "NO". I read everything she reads before she reads it. There have been times when she's said "Mom, you didn't tell me there was sex in that one". Well, as long as it's not too graphic, it doesn't bother me. There are a few authors that I don't think she's ready for. I wouldn't let her read the Ann Rice- Beauty books. I don't think she should be reading Lori Foster. She's not allowed to read Playboy/girl. Just about anything else is fair game though, as long as we discuss it when she's done. That's always been the rule, and it won't change now.

It's the same with the movies she watches. She's allowed more mature movies than the other kids. Jordan, the next oldest girl, is still 4 years younger, so that's a big gap. Jo is not ready for some of the themes that Gret can handle. I think it's my job, as a Mom, to know what they are ready for and what is not suitable.

Personally, I think that's where so many parents screw up. You can't build a bubble for your kids and expect that they will stay there happily. You can't protect them from everything and be surprised when they rebel, or when they leave your home at 18 and go crazy. Then again, you shouldn't expect that exposing them to sex, violence or drugs at 12 will make them immune to those things. I was allowed to read, watch, and do whatever I wanted. That meant that by 15, I'd tried drugs, sex, and booze. I was so de-senstitized to the dangers, because my mom assumed I was too smart to do anything 'bad'. I read her romance books, and thought that all guys were like those heroes, and sex would be fun. Man, I was wrong, but I didn't know that until it was way too late. I'm not going to let my daughter fall into that same trap.

As parents, we HAVE to be vigilant. We have to be open and honest with our children. We have to be prepared to make the tough choices, to say "No, you're not ready for that, I don't care if your friends are already doing/seeing it". We have to have those tough talks. We have to be prepared for answers that might shock or disappoint us. We have to be willing to listen. We have to understand that the world that they are growing up in is very different from the one we grew up in, but that doesn't mean we have to compromise our values and morals. We have to be their friends, but never stop being their parents. We have to show them love, or they won't trust us with their questions.

We have to...

Monday, May 15, 2006

That mental list...

What do you want to do before you die? Do you, like me, have that mental list that you refer to every so often? Do you revise it? Do you add to it? How did your list come to be? What sorts of things are on your list? Do you want to cure cancer? Sing with Madonna? Scale a pyramid? What have you already crossed off your list? Was it crossed because you completed it, or because it no longer holds any appeal? I want to hear all about your list. I want to crawl inside your head and see what is at the top of your list, and understand why. I think people's lists offer an insight into the real person that years of freindship sometimes can not.

I'll show you mine if you show me yours...

In no particular order:
- See my name on the front of a published book
- Re-trace Paul's first missionary journey
- See Rent on Broadway
- Own my own B&B
- Visit Aruba sober
Walk the entire Louvre
- Return to Solvang, CA just for some chocolate
- See the gulls return to Capistrano
- Travel across country on the back of Shane's motorcycle
- Ride a riverboat down the Mississippi
- Visit the Congo
- See Ayers Rock
- Be in Times Square on New Year's Eve
- Walk the Trail of Tears
- See U2 in concert (again!)
- Spend a month in the Highlands

Some of the things I have already crossed off the list: (ALL accomplished, btw)
- Seen the Eiffel Tower
- Ridden a camel (in Oman, no less)
- been through the Suez Canal
- Ridden a train across Italy
- Taken a bus across country
- Been in a hot air balloon
- Slept on a beach all night
- Been to a rain forest
- Drank a Hurricane on Bourbon Street
- See 3 of the 4 oceans (I have no desire to see the Arctic!)
- Went to a Van Morrison concert (on St. Patrick's Day, in NYC no less)

I have to thank my wonderful husband for helping me to cross off so many things.

I sometimes look at my life now and think that it is not what I intended it to be. Sometimes I even get a bit down about that. This list helps me keep things in perspective. No, I didn't imagine I'd be home with 6 kids. But then again, I never thought I'd be able to say that I've walked the Seine or heard Van sing "Brown-eyed Girl" in person, either. I've had a pretty decent life, so far. And I still have a lot left to do.

So tell me, what's on YOUR list?

Lazy Monday

I have nothing to say, really. I have no idea why I am posting this blog. I am tired and i want to be sleeping.

Shane is home all this week. I made him take a week off. He was really starting to worry me, and that's never a good thing. Right now, he's on his way up to DC to teach his hacker class. It still makes me laugh to think that I'm married to some computer geek hacker that is also one of the sexiest men I've ever seen. But hey, it's MY life, and I'm really diggin it right now.

I started re-working my WIP today. I mentioned that I was going to make some changed last week. Well, I gave myself the weekend to let that gel, and I just really feel it has to be done. I'm not going to make an effort to define this book yet, or to try to classify it into a genre. I just want to get the story told.

Over the next few weeks, I will be concentrating on reading instead of writing. I have a stack of books on writing styles and techniques, plus I just got Bob Mayer's "Toolkit" on Saturday. I plan on spending some time to learn what common mistakes I've been making, and learn how to correct them. I also plan on being much more diligent in my writing. I really enjoy spending the time at my keyboard, and it will be good for me to be here more. Here meaning at the keyboard, not HERE meaning at blogger. Blogger is a giant time snatcher, almost as addictive to me as books.

Man, for not having anything to say, I sure managed to spew a lot of crap, didn't I? Yeah, well, suck it up. If you don't want to read it, stop coming here! (Just kiddng. you know I love it that you're here)

Now get out of here and get to work on your OWN stories. I'm almost out of books to read already!!

Sunday, May 14, 2006

My oldest daughter, a charming young lady

I told you all about going to Baltimore. You know about how the day started, and then how my wonderful oldest child, Gret, helped turn it around. I was on such a natural high last night, and it lasted right on into this morning. But I didn't tell you about the BEST part of the night, did I?

Meeting Jenny Crusie and Bob Mayer was such a joy for me. It was even better because only a few hours before we met them, I really didn't think I'd make it up to Baltimore. I was supposed to go up there with my friend, Kim. We'd been planning it all week. I've made such a Crusie fan out of her. She's read just about every single Crusie that I have. She was almost as excited about meeting them as I was. But alas, Kim was given a head cold for Mother's Day weekend, and she just couldn't make it. I was down, since I'd really been looking forward to the trip. I pouted once I made it home. Then my miracle happened.

Gret walked down the stairs, looking lovely. She stopped at the door to the office and asked me to take her to meet Jenny Crusie. Shane made us go. Well, ok, he didn't exactly have to twist my arm, but he strongly encouraged me to leave with my oldest child.

Child really isn't a very good word to describe this amazing young woman though. Gret has become very mature the past few years. I wish it wasn't true, but it is. I hear other moms talk about their teenagers and think "Thank you, God, for giving me Gret!" She isn't perfect, but really, I couldn't ask for a better daughter.

She was in charge of the music for the trip, of course. We listened to Alanis on the way up. Good choice. Then she switched to James Blount. Another good choice. I really can't tell you everything we talked about, but I know it was awesome. I gave her driving tips. We talked about dating. We talked about Europe. We talked about guys, and friends, and relationships. Then we made it to Baltimore.

Gret was duly impressed with Jenny and Bob. She was quiet and polite, but not in a rude way. I think she was a little overwhelmed, as she's seen Jenny's pictures on the backs of my books for so long. She's heard me talk about Jenny for so long. She hears me laugh at the HW/SW blog every day. She wants to be able to read Jenny's books, but she knows she's not rady for the YEXy stuff yet. It was cool for her to meet them, and she was blown away by how NICE Jenny is. I think she was afraid that Jenny would be a bitch, or that she would have no clue who I was, and I would be disappointed, and she just wanted so much for me to really enjoy meeting them. She kept saying things like "Wow, Mom. She was really cool. I mean, she wasn't a snob or anything. She was just like a regular person, but she's like, famous, you know?" Yes, dear, I know. That's exactly how I felt.

Dinner was fun. We went to Chevy's for Mexican food. I even ordered a margarita. I think the highlight of the meal was when Gret looked at me and said "Mom, that waiter is FLIRTING with you!" I couldn't help but laugh. Then she had to look away every time he came over to check on us. I know that if she would have looked at him, she would have laughed. She teased me a LOT about that one, even threatening to call Shane. She didn't, of course. It was one of those things that moms and daughters share, and it just made the night that much more special.

We talked all the way home. Again, I don't remember exactly what the conversations were. Except Carrie Underwood. We were listening to her cd, and we started talking about some of her songs. At almost 14, Gret is so thirsty for information about how things work between men and women. She asks the most intelligent questions about relationships. She has very clearly defined ideas about how an interested guy will treat her. She is being raised to know that she is a wonderful person, and she should have respect for herself. If a guy can't see that and appreciate it, and treat her accordingly, he's not worth her time.

So, while Jenny and Bob were such an inspiration, and meeting them was like checking off another thing on that mental "To Do Before I Die" list, it wasn't the highlight of the evening. No, the highlight was those 4 hours in the car and hour at dinner with Gret. If not for Jenny and Bob coming to Baltimore, if not for Kim getting sick, I would have missed those 5 hours.

Frankly, I would have missed a lot more than some autographs in some books. Those 5 hours are more precious to me than anything else I've been given in recent memory. As my daughter gets older, the amount of time that we share gets smaller. I know this will happen, but I don't have to like it. That's why I have to cherish those moments that we get even more. Last night, I got her all to myself. That won't happen very often between now and when she leaves my nest. But for last night, we connected.

And it was perfect.

Saturday, Part Deux (the Jenny & Bob part)

I walked into the house feeling lower than low. I really had been looking forward to that booksigning all week. I've wanted to meet Jenny Crusie for the longest time. She's a fabulous author, and I have so much respect for her. It just amazes me that she is so selfless, and so willing to help other people with their writing. I wanted to be in that RWA workshop today, but Kari needed me there for the bridal shower.

Shane was so sweet when I got home. He even offered to rub my feet while I watched a chick flick. Instead, I sulked off to the office, and sat here at my keyboard almost in tears. Then Gret came bouncing down the stairs, dressed to kill, and asked me to take her to Baltimore to meet Jenny Crusie. Shane immediatly started smiling, and I knew I was doomed. Or saved, depending on how you look at it. He loaded us up and we headed out, 2 hours after I had planned on leaving.

We got on the road close to 6pm. I won't even tell you how fast I drove to make it to Baltimore by 8pm. Let's just say that I was not the fastest person on the road, but it wasn't for lack of trying.

We walked towards Books-a-Million and saw Jenny and Bob right away. They were at a table near the front of the store. I have to tell you, Jenny's pictures do NOT do her justice. She has such an incredible glow, and the warmest smile! After hanging back for a few minutes, I finally got up the courage to walk up to the table. Nobody else was there then, so I was really nervous. Jenny asked me how I was doing, and I said something about being happy to finally be up there. Then she noticed my Cherry earrings. Then she blew Gret's mind by saying "Are you Dee?" When I finally found my tongue to stammer "yyyes" she grabbed my hand and shook it. Then she smacked Bob and said "Hey, this is Dee!" He just looked at her like "WHO?" "You know, Dee. From the blog. Dee??" Still, no light of recognition in his eyes. But that's ok, Bob. I hear ya. Who the hell is Dee, right? But JENNY knew, and that is one moment that I will always remember.

So I stood there next to my daughter, at a table, in front of my favorite author, and had some chitchat. If you've never had chitchat with Jenny Crusie, you are missing out! She is one of the most charming women I've ever met. She was knitting. And talking to me. And smiling. And being charming to my daughter. We were having A MOMENT. Then, wouldn't you know it, Bob had to interrupt. With a coin check! Of course, Jenny dug her coin out of her purse and smacked it down there on the table next to his. And do you know what he said? Well, of course you don't. Only Gretchen, Christina (Margarita Charry) and I know. Because we were the only ones there, besides him and she, he and her...well, you know what I mean! He said "It doesn't count. It's in the plastic case". Huh? When did this become a rule? Has anyone ever heard of the plastic case clause to the SF coin check? Yeah, me neither. So Bob totally lost that one, and now he owes Jenny a drink.

We had a few mintutes of conversation while they signed my books. I brought three to be signed: DLD (of course), Welcome To Temptation, and the Pride and Prejudice book from e-bay (remember? the one that Alesia Holliday also signed?). Jenny signed her books, Bob signed DLD, and I got TWO Moot stamps (one for me, one for Gret!). Then I bought another copy of DLD, Bodyguard of Lies, and Bob's writing book. I got those ones signed as well. We had a chuckle over Bob signing BOL to "Shane", since that's also the name of the hero in the Agnes book. Then I mentioned something about F'burg, and had to explain that it meant "Fredericksburg". That got Bob's attention. "Fredericksburg? You drove up here from Fredericksburg? Where the battlefield is?" Well, no, Bob. Actually, I live about 30 minutes SOUTH of Fredericksburg. But hey, who's counting miles when YOU are at the end of the journey, Bob? Certainly not me.

Only low point of this experience was that I brought Bob a box of ding-dongs, but I forgot to bring them in. They stayed in the van. We planned on eating dinner, then going out to get the ding dongs and bringing them back in to Bob, but J&B were already gone when we walked by the store. Too bad. Now I have to eat all of those ding dongs myself.

And if you have NO IDEA what this blog was all about, then you REALLY need to hop on over to the He Wrote/She Wrote blog ( spend a few days reading. Only do that if you have lots of time on your hands though. Trust me, once you start, you won't want to stop. It's like the freakin Hotel California. People check in all the time but they never leave.

On a side note, this greatly improved my Mother's Day-eve. Thank you Christina, for the Chevy's suggestion.
And thank you Jenny, thank you Bob. You both really made my night. And Gretchen's. Even though Jenny said Gret can't read any Crusie's yet. We still both had a GREAT time. It was sooooo worth the drive up there.

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Saturday, Part I

The alarm went off at 7am. On a Saturday morning. Man, I hate it when our weekends start so darn early.

I ran around getting little girls dressed for the Mother/Daughter breakfast at our church. We had Emile's sleepover last night, so I had three extra little bodies in the house. They all looked beautiful, by the way. We dropped Maggie off at 8:30, as she was 'adopted' by a friend that only has boys. When we got to church, Gret and Jordan also left my side, and went to find their adoptive moms.

Basically, that left me with Em and her friends. Then Em decided she wanted to be adopted too, so she ditched me as well. Hmph. Now I'm at a Mother Daughter breakfast with no mother and no daughters, feeling a LOT lonely. Luckily, Em's friends stuck by my side.

It was a beautiful breakfast, as usual. The men cooked great food. The women didn't have to do anything. Well, as long as you don't count setting up the tables, and decorating, anything. Not all of the women helped with those things, of course. Like me. I didn't help. I went right home last night because of the slumber party. I was a slacker. But I *really* appreciated how pretty everything was when I got there this morning. Until all my girls left me. But I'm not bitter. Not at all.

Everything was going ok until it was time to give testimonies. Normally, I would let everyone else take their turn before I ever even thought of standing up to speak. Normally. But today, something made me want to take my turn as well. Now for any of you that know me, you know how much I HATE talking in front of people. I can handle small groups, I'm great one-on-one. But crowds....?? Not so much. Well, I just had to tell these women a few things.

Of course, I started off by crying. I mean, I don't think I got three words out when the tears started to flow. I just couldn't help it. I told them how hard these Mother/Daughter things are for me, because I lost my mom. I explained how difficult it is to raise daughters when you can't just call up your mommy and ask questions. And I encouraged them to go home and call their moms and tell them how much they loved them. So often, we forget to do that. Then one day, we don't have that chance anymore. And you have to live wondering if you said "I love you" and "Thank you for everything" enough times. Well, at least *I* do.

The breakfast was over by 11am. Then I headed over to Kari's house for the bridal shower. I was supposed to help decorate, but ended up running to the store to get plastic forks. Don't ask. So the shower that was supposed to start at 2 and be over by 3:30 didn't actually start until almost 3pm. You guessed it, I barely got out of there at 4:45.

Kim was supposed to head up to Baltimore with me. Kim has a head cold. Kim cancelled the trip that I have been looking forward to all week. I decided to just go home. I was tired, since I'd been up half the night and gotten up early. I was emotionally drained, after the whole Mother/Daughter thing. I was depressed, since Kim didn't feel like heading up to Baltimore, and I really didn't want to drive all that way alone.

So home I drove. Feeling sorry for myself. I even cried, thinking about how much I really wanted to see Jenny Crusie and Bob Mayer, and meet a CherryBomb named Christina. I couldn't think of a worse Mother's Day weekend, unless you counted the first one after my Mom died. Truly horrible.

Do you feel sorry for me? Well, you shouldn't.
Now go call your mom and tell her how much you love her, ok? Do it for me, since I can't call mine. NOW. Do it.

Friday, May 12, 2006

Weekly Accounting

Monday, the laundry in the tv room got folded an put away, and I spent an hour or so on my WIP.

Tuesday, my bathroom got cleaned, and I spent an hour on my WIP.

Wednesday, my desk got cleaned off. I did not list time on my WIP, which was good, since it took a LONG time to get the desk cleaned off.

Thursday, I did NOT get the cabinet removed. I couldn't find the right tools. Shane has to go to the hardware store and it will get done this weekend. I DID spend time on my WIP. More than an hour. Lots more than an hour.

Friday, nothing got done because I spent the whole day running around getting things ready for Emile's birthday sleepover. Honestly, if I had remembered that we were having a sleepover tonight, I wouldn't have put anything down for today. However, since I wrote it, and it is technically a list of things I want done this week, and I was really just using the days as 'guidelines', then I won't feel like a failure unles it's not done by Monday morning.

So that's it. Missions (mostly) accomplished. Now, I'm following Shane upstairs to bed. Tomorrow starts early, with our annual Mother/Daughter breakfast at church (where I am down to just ONE daughter, as I loaned the rest of them to women in need). Then I head to the Bridal Shower that was scheduled on the same day as the Baltimore RWA workshop. Yes, I'm going to the Bridal Shower. Then, I'm heading up to Baltimore for the booksigning. Hopefully, my friend Kim (a recent Crusie convert) will be joining me. Doubtful I'll make it on tomorrow, but I may sneak on when I get back from Baltimore.

Have a GREAT weekend. I know *I* will!!

Unexpected Treasures

You know how good it feels when November rolls around, the weather starts getting cooler, you pull your coat out of the closet for the first time, stuff your hands deep into your pockets and pull out $20 that you totally forgot you had in there? That was the past few days for me!!

Yesterday, I got my wonderful Cherry purse, filled with Cherry goodies in the mail. I won it on ebay. I have to tell you, it was really beyond wonderful. There was so much more stuff in that box than I expected. I was overwhelmed. The chocolate alone was heaven. Now I have something perfectly Cherry to take with me tomorrow when I head up to Baltimore for the book signing. Thank you so much!!

Also yesterday, we got a box from Robin LaFevers. If you've never heard of Robin, you are missing out! Robin was in charge of the first two rounds of the Michele Fund auction. (You remember that ebay auction, right? The same one where I won the Cherry purse? Well, I got to help organize the ebay listing part. We raised over $5000 for Michele and her family. Go check out RIGHT NOW, ok?) Well, Robin wanted to thank my kids for being so wonderful while I spent a bit of time on the computer listing things, so she sent them the books that she's written for children. We got four totally gorgeous hardbacks yesterday. Robin personally inscribed each of the four books to my children. I really was speechless when I saw them. If you know me, you know how hard it is to make me speechless. Robin did it. I started reading The Falconmaster last night, just to see what it's like. I LOVE IT! If you have kids that enjoy fantasy type stories, they will adore these books. Go to your local bookstore and buy them today. I'm not kidding. Get off your computer and go RIGHT NOW!!

Today, I got another package in the mail. YES, my MicheleFund ebay acution won copy of "Flirting with Pride and Prejudice" got here. It is signed by Alesia Holliday. That was the real kicker for me. I enjoy Alesia's blog over at so much (Alesia has her own "Navy Guy", and talks about him all the time, so I feel a certain kinship!), and she's such a helpful Cherry, that when I saw that she was autographing it, I just HAD to bid on it. I have to admit, I got a little crazy. I know you can buy the book at Amazon for about $10. But hey, this was for Michele, and Alesia was signing it, so I went a teensy bit over $10. Of course, I told Shane it was around $50, and he didn't kill me, so we'll just leave it at that, ok? Alesia was sooooo sweet in her inscription, even saying that I was "amazing". Now tell me: WHO is the amazing one? The geek that punched in stuff for ebay listings, or the wonderful author that writes great books? Yeah, I agree, ALESIA is the amazing one. Of course, she didn't stop with just the inscription. I also got a copy of "Blondes Have More Felons" from her, also inscribed, that I did NOT order, but already LOVE. And two bookmarks, that Maggie and Emile have already tried to swipe. And a cute little card. PLUS the P&P book got here in time for me to take it up to Baltimore and have Jenny sign it as well. It really couldn't get any better than that!

So, you have to do three things, according to this blogger:
1) Go check out
2) Go check out Alesia's blogs (well, all of them, really) at
3) Go to the bookstore and buy all of the books by R. L. LaFevers

You can post your comments and tell me when you have completed these missions.

Trust me, you'll feel even better than you do when you find that $20 in your pocket!!

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Just stuff

As I was typing the title up there, I realized that I use that title A LOT. I put it on e-mails, I put it on texts, I think it... That about sums me up sometimes. "What are you thinking?" "Just...stuff" Sounds really profound and interesting, right? So much like the writer I want to be, huh? Geez, I've got such an amazing way with words that it scares me sometimes. LOL

As indicated by my very profound title, this is just about random thoughts I've had over the past few days.

My baby, that angel that just turned (gulp) FIVE, is a MASTER manipulator. I knew it before, but it just seemed really funny this morning. We have this routine, it happens at least once a day. She's the baby, so she seems to get hurt more than any of the others. Whether by design or by accident, she's the one that comes crying to me the most. This morning was no exception. I heard her little wails, and my heart started to crumble. I knew she wasn't seriously hurt, that's a different kind of HOWL, really. Still though, she was in pain. I also knew only one thing would make it better. So when she made her way to me, and crawled up in my lap, and sobbed how the swing had bashed her into a tree and she was huuuurt, I said the only thing I could think of. "Oh, you poor, poor baby. What will make it all better?" And of course, the response I had been expecting... "Iiiice creeeeeam", in such a pitiful little voice that I had to hide a smile. Of course, seeing this, Jo just rolled her eyes. So smiling, I asked Jo, "Oh you poor thing, are you hurt? What will make it all better?" With a huge grin (she catches on quick!) she fake cries "Iiiice creeeeam". By now, they're both laughing. Knowing my work as a Mommy is done for this situation, I just smile and tell them to go raid the freezer. Really, I'm hopeless. But there is something very liberating about telling my kids they cuold have ice cream before lunch. I mean, really! What's the point in making them wait? I *AM* the Mom, aren't I? Trust me, the stretch marks prove it!!

I burned my chin on pizza cheese the other day at CiCi's Pizza, and I laughed about it. I'm blaming Jenny Crusie for that. I couldn't help it. All I could say to Gret was "I'm livin the dream, baby!" I think Gret is convinced I've lost my mind. Maybe she's not far off.

I've been hearing those voices again at the most inoportune times. Does that happen to any of you real writers? I mean, there is a story in there that is just SCREAMING to come out. I hear this chick in my head, telling me to WRITE THIS DOWN. Ususally, I follow those instructions and head directly to my computer to exorcise that voice. However, there are times when it's just not convenient to get to my keyboard. Like last night. In bed. With Shane. Yep, she started up right between the first kiss and the second, and all I could do was half disengage my brain to try to enjoy some quiet time with my amazing man. I felt like Tildy, another of Crusie's characters. Luckily, he was awesome, and knew just what to do to get me out of my head, thankyouverymuch. However, as he drifted off to sleep, I heard her banging away up in my head again. I listened this time. Guess what??

Lorraine had a great blog yesterday. I told her so in her comments. Then she e-mailed me and asked me what was so great. And this fits in very nicely with this crazy lady in my head begging me to tell her story. I read SO MUCH. I mean, really, it's pretty bad. I see what's out there, and I buy a lot. When I decided to write, I was a bit concerned that my story wouldn't work. Ok, I was freakin terrified. So I made some adjustments. I mean, it wasn't chick-lit (oh, I really hate that term!), it wasn't really a romance, it wasn't suspense. But I had to make it SOMETHING, or nobody would ever read it. So I changed it. A lot. Well, last night, with Lorraine's blog rolling through my head, and that crazy chick still banging me right behind the eyes, I scrapped all of the changes. I just tossed them right out of my head. And I curled up next to Shane and slept like a baby.

The thing that sucks is that now I'm starting over. Not from scratch though. The main story is the same, but I'm not going to try to make it something that it isn't. See, I can't write like Sophie Kinsella. She's amazing, and witty, and her characters make me laugh and cry. I would LOVE to write like her, but it's just not me. And I can NOT write like Jenny Crusie. She's hysterical, and bright, and her women are snarky and honest, and warm. But there is no way that I can do that. It was really sad for me to realize that, since I would really like to write like either one of them. But it's just not gonna happen. Sounds kinda sad, huh?

Nah, not at all. See, I've discovered that I have my very own voice. It's nothing like Kinsella, nor is it like Crusie. It's not like anyone else. And you know what? I'm ok with that. No, you'll never read something as fabulous as "Undomestic Goddess" with my name at the bottom. You'll never find me on the cover of something as wonderful as "Welcome to Temptation". But one day, when you're browsing your local book store, you will see my name on one of those covers. You will. You'll pick that book up, flip it over, read the back, and think "Yeah, ok. Not a Crusie, but maybe it'll be good enough for the bathtub". And you'll try it. You may even like it. (I REALLY REALLY hope you'll like it!) And maybe you'll even pass it on to one of your pals. She'll probably hate it, but that's ok. Not everyone loves Crusie either (but those people are really just stupid, so maybe that's not saying much!).

Anyhow, you know me, so you know that last part is because I'm a DREAMER, right?
Then again, dreams can come true. It's true, Just ask Emile. She ate ice cream at 9am today.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

All about ME?!?

I keep seeing these blogs where people list all sorts of stuff about them. I really like the idea of getting to know things about others, but I'm not sure that I've got all that much to say about myself. However, because I am supposed to be cleaning off my desk today, and do not have any time listed for my WIP, I need to do some sort of writing today. It might as well be this. I've decided to try to list the things that I am. This should be fun...

I am a WIFE. I've been married to the best man in the world (sorry, people, but that's a fact!!) for a few years now. I was once married to a not-so-great person, but I like this one a WHOLE LOT MORE!!

I am a MOM. I have six beautiful children that I have devoted a major portion of my life to raising. I missed out on a lot of the baby stuff with the older ones, and don't want to miss out on another second with any of them.

I am a SISTER. I have a brother that lives in New Orleans. We grew up in the same house and share a mom. I also have assorted other siblings that I didn't meet until a few years ago. They belong to my biological father. I suppose they are technically my family, but I don't really know them. I also have a brother-in-law and a sister-in-law, thanks to my husband.

I am an AUNT. My brother has a beautiful daughter that is 5 years old. She's really a spoiled rotten brat, and I love encouraging that trait! Of course, she listens to ME, but that's a secret that I'll never share with my darling little brother. I am also now the proud aunt of COLIN, my nephew from my husband's brother. I don't really know his folks all that well, but I am really excited that he's joined our family!!

I am a GRANDDAUGHTER. My Mama lives in Oklahoma now. She lived in Texas for the first 33 years of my life. My Papa passed away 10 years ago, and my mom passed away 5 years ago. Now, I try to take care of Mama, but it's hard to do long-distance. Hopefully, she'll move in with us soon. That would make things easier!

I am a CHRISTIAN. I was brought up in a Christian church, but left for quite a while. I was an agnostic, then an atheist. Now, I'm back at church, and happy about it. I don't really agree with many religions, as they are so man-made. However, I enjoy the Bible, love to study it, and try to live by its tenets. I fail miserably most of the time, but I still keep trying.

I am a COOK. Well, this only applies at my house, and on Sunday mornings. I cook for about 100 people at my church every Sunday morning. It is more fun than I can tell you. I prefer making things that keep well, like breakfast casseroles, or biscuits and gravy, or quiches. My family helps out, and it is really a labor of love for us.

I am a WRITER. Ok, not really. I want to be a writer though, so I'm taking the name! I have always loved to write. Many times, when in a conflict, I find it easier to write a letter than have a conversation. My dream was to be a war journalist. Obviously, I didn't do that. Now, I'm working on a book that is based on part of my life. It is a fictional account of a journey a woman takes after losing her mom. Of course, there is lots of stuff to the story, and I don't want to give it away, but it's been really fun to write so far.

I am a READER. If I had to pick a 'dream job' now, it would be one of those people that gets paid to read books. I think I could make a lot of money at this, as I read about a book a day. I read everything that I can get my hands on, in just about any genre. I love romances, chick-lit, time-travel, biographies, mysteries, suspense, self-help, parenting... geez, did I leave anything out? I also read newspapers, magazines, product labels, cereal boxes, billboards. If I'm not reading, it's not because I don't want to be reading.

I am a CHERRY, and a CHERRYBOMB. I belong to Jennifer Crusie's fan group, the Cherries. Check out the Yahoo list. It's so much fun to read what they have to say. Really, the Cherries DO know everything. From there, I also became a CherryBomb. I skipped in to Crusie's dueling blog wih Bob Mayer, He Wrote/She Wrote. It hooked me from the very first post. Check it out in my links. You'll want to be a Cherry too!!

I am a VETERAN. I spent 10 years in the Navy as a Cryptologist. I loved it. I joined because someone in my immediate family needed to do it, and I knew it wouldn't be my brother. My great-grams had 13 kids. 10 boys, 3 girls. One of the boys died when he was young. The other 9 all grew up and joined the military. The 3 girls all married military men. Out of all of the 12 smaller families, most had at least 1 kid that joined the service or married a military person. I was brought up knowing that the only reason we lived in such an incredible country was because somebody had to make the sacrifice and defend the country. If nobody did it, we would fall to another country. It may sound trite, but it's so very true. Well, if everyone counts on everyone else, nobody ever joins. I wanted to be one of the ones helping to keep our country safe, not just one of the ones that complained about how wrong everything is. I still defend the right of every person in this country to have and voice their own opinions. I just also hope that they respect the decision of the men and women in uniform that fight and die every day so that they can keep having and voicing those opinions.

I am a DREAMER. I have such big 'plans' for my life, but really, they're just dreams. However, I dare anyone to try tell me they're stupid. I dream of living in Florence. I dream of writing a fabulous book that really touches people. I dream of owning my very own Bed-and-Breakfast. Most of all, I dream of the day, 30 years from now, when I'm sitting in a chair in front of a Christmas tree, sipping my coffee, holding hands with Shane, and watching scads of grandchildren open their presents, then sitting down to an incredibly fabulous meal that will be the highlight of the day for all of my wonderful children and their spouses. Yeah, that's the BIG dream. I know how stressful family gatherings are, but one day, that will happen. Maybe I'll even blog about it!

Tuesday, May 09, 2006


Yes, I actually got all of those clothes folded and put away yesterday.
And I spent an hour on my WIP.
Now I'm supposed to be cleaning off my desk, but I'm playing with blogger instead.

I just added a photo to my "Sin City" blog. It shows me, Kel, and Crys. We're at the Piano Bar in Harrah's. So if you want to see what I look like at 4am in Vegas, sitting in a bar, with my eyes closed because the smoke was killing my contacts, scroll down the page, or click over on "Sin City" to the right. I'm trying to get some more pics on here soon.

Now I have to step outside and read another chapter of my current time-snatcher, then I'll get back in here and get this desk finished.

Wait a sec... I just remembered... Today is CLEANING MY BATHROOM!! WHEW!!!! I was really worried there for a minute. Yeah, my bathroom will take about 30 mins, but not nearly as long as this desk will take, so I'm safe. Plenty of time. Maybe I'll even read TWO chapters.!!

Monday, May 08, 2006

5 short years

Yes, I know I have stuff to do. I know that I just blogged a bit ago, and promised to GET STUFF DONE around my house. I also know that I have an hour to go on my WIP. But really, this is MY blog, and I have to do this one before I can do anything else today.

I was thinking about the past five years, in my life, in my family, and in the world. Five years ago, it was May of 2001. We had been living in central Virginia for less than a year. I'd finally agreed to marry Shane, and had done so just 6 months before. We owned a house, and had two kids in school. We'd just had our baby, Emile. That's what is making me consider these last five years.

The world was pre-9/11. Terrorism was something that happened to other people in other countries. I was settling in to being a stay-at-home mom, after spending 10 years as a Cryptologist in the navy. I'd lived and worked in some amazing places, seen some amazing things, and really enjoyed my life. However, I missed out on a lot of stuff with my babies. Staying home was a way to make it up to them, but really it was me being selfish. I MISSED them, and missed so much of their young lives while I was out doing what I thought was SO IMPORTANT. I'd done a deployment, I'd worked a CN mission. I'd spent 3 years of my life at the pinnacle of cryppie-land, Ft Meade (Aka, The National Security Agency). Then it was time to be a mom. Being a mom was harder than I'd expected. Spending my first year at home with my kids, pregnant, had been really hard.

Five years ago, my mom was still alive. It's hard to type that sentence without tears coming to my eyes. Damn. Not hard. Totally impossible. Yep, my eyes are leaking. geez, I hate it when I get emotional. But really, I just miss my mom. Back then, she came out when Emile was only a few weeks old, and took the older girls, Gretchen and Jordan, for a few weeks. She was always doing stuff like that. She loved my kids so much, and really was an excellent Grandma, even though she preferred to be called KK. She just didn't think she was old enough to be anyone's "grams".

Anyhow, five years ago, the world was different. Kelly had just given birth a second time. I didn't get to be there for that one. I was there the first time, she was my first doula client. I didn't know what a doula was back then, but that's what I was for her. I loved helping her bring her first child into the world, just like she helped me with my first son, Michael. The second time was hard for her. She had a C-section, and almost lost her daughter. All worked out in the end, but I still felt bad for not being there. Plus, Emile was born first, when she was due a week later. Kel was a little ticked about that. Obviously, she got over it. :>)

This morning, when I woke up, my baby was in bed with me. She asks, every single night, if she can sleep with us. Normally, the answer is no. But once a week or so, she's allowed. Last night, she looked up at her Daddy, and said "I REALLY want to wake up next to Momma on my birthday". Yep, he was toast. So this morning, after he'd left, I got to lay there and stare at the beauty that is my baby. She is really the most incredibly beautiful 5 year old in the entire world. She has my coloring, but better. It's this perfect blend of copper and rosy pink. She doesn't burn, she gets golden. Her skin really glows. She has dark lashes that are about a mile long. They frame her ocean blue eyes to perfection. I really thought Maggie would get those eyes, because Maggie is the one that looks like Shane. But no, Emile, my baby, finally brought me the blue eyes that I'd wanted forever. The rest of the clan has my chocolate brown eyes, all beautiful, but not blue. But the baby, yep, she's got the baby blues. She also has dimples. And this incredible, long hair. It doesn't really have a color. It's not brown, not blonde, but somewhere in between. It looks like honey, but with golden streaks. Really, people pay big bucks to get hair like this child.

I love each and every one of my children with an intensity that terrifies me. I have no idea how I would breathe if anything ever happened to any of them. I don't have a favorite, not really. I think that each of them is my favorite at different times during each and every day. Gret is my oldest, and she's been with me through so much. I love her in a way that makes me want to make all the right choices for her. But then again, I want her to go out and experience things for herself. She's so much like me, but still so her own person. Michael is my oldest boy. He is so sure of himself. He's so honest, and believes so much in justice. He's the one I count on to give it to me straight. If he says it, I believe it. He just has so much integrity for one so young. I know that may change, but for now, he seems like a super-hero to me. So right and true. Jordan is the peacekeeper. She tries to be so grown up. She's the one who spends her own money to buy her siblings birthday presents. I always know she'll have a little something for whoever is celebrating. She pours my coffee in the morning. She rubs my feet. She's the one I can always count on to pitch in and help without complaint. Mathew is the joker. That boy can make me laugh like no other person on this earth. He wants to be BIG, but with three older than him, it's rough. He's a good big brother to the little girls though. We almost lost him when he was 2. I still see his scars from his surgery, running from his navel to his pelvic bone. He calls it his "snake". And still, he smiles. Maggie is the negotiator. She is so mature for her 6 years. She thinks she's the oldest, and idealizes Gret so much. She dispenses fashion advice ("Oh, Em, that does NOT match, go back and change those pants!"), gives pointers ("well, Mom, maybe you should try it THIS way instead") and is often the one that will put a new spin on things. Don't ask her to "pick up the room" or she will go to the corner and try tugging up the floor. Such a literalist that one. Then there's my baby. My Emile. Who turned FIVE today. That is just wrong on so many levels. First, I'm not old enough to have a 5 year old. Second, I'm not old enough to have my BABY be five. I tried talking her into being four for another year. She told me that if I bought her her very own PS2, she'd do it. Yeah, she's not dumb, either.

So, five years ago today, I was in the hospital, holding my new little miracle. I was looking forward to getting home and seeing my other babies. I had no idea that within a few years my whole world would change. I didn't know that terrorists would strike our country and Kel's husband would be sent to Afghanistan. I didn't know that I would grow to love being home so much that I'd want to homeschool all of them. I had no idea that my Mom would pass away. I didn't know that we'd find a church that we loved, and I'd find my way back to a God I'd deserted for years. I never dreamed that Shane would get a job in DC that paid enough that we didn't live paycheck to paycheck anymore. I had no idea that we'd eventually leave King George and move to a 10-acre slice of heaven with horses, further away from civilization. I didn't know any of this laying there in the hospital bed, staring at that incredible little girl with the huge blue eyes.

All I knew was that at that exact moment, 5 years ago, I was happy. I had no idea what the future held. I didn't know of the heartache, or the fear, the excitement or the pain. I just knew peace. And happiness. And contentment.

Now, 5 years later, I look back over the years and think how things may have been different if I'd have known what was coming. Would I still have pulled the kids from school and kept them home with me if I'd have known how crazy my life would feel around them all the time? Would I have fought with my mom that morning she left my house if I'd have known that she would be dead two days later? Would I have... well, it doesn't matter now, does it? I lived these five years. Just like you did. It's good for me to sit here and pick a point, like the birth of my baby 5 years ago, and go over it all again. It keeps me grounded in my reality.

And today, just like that morning 5 years ago, I feel those same things. I feel peace. I feel contentment. But most of all, knowing that Shane is a phone call away, hearing my children argue harmlessly in the next room, watching the rain slide down the window as I look out over my field with the horses, knowing that my mom is smiling at it all somewhere... I feel happiness.

But I still wish my baby wasn't 5.

Accountability Partners

I was over at Cherry Red's site, Writerly Ramblings. You can go there from here, I've linked her. Hope that's ok with her, as I did it without asking. Actually, it was mostly for me. I like her site, and Kelly's and Lorraine's. So I just linked them all. I figured if I enjoyed them, then you might also. ANYWHOOO, over at CRs blog, she's talking about making a schedule to get things done, and she has this daily list. It looks really cool. SO i'm thinking that I want to try something like that.

Here's the deal. I'm a wimp. I really am. I never get stuff done. My house is always a wreck. Well, it's not nasty, nothing like that. But it's always cluttered. My kitchen gets cleaned once a day. My floors get swept and mopped once a day. My tv room gets cleaned once a day. My bedroom gets cleaned once a month, but don't tell my kids that. They'd kill me! With six kids that are all home all day, my cleaning schedule means that my house is never filthy, but is usually very disorganized. I'm just not one of those moms that follows along behind them all day and makes them put things away. I'm more of a "You know what it has to look like when Dad walks through the door, so don't let me down". And generally, they don't. So I stay off their cases during the day, unless I find a huge mess somewhere. Our yard always has toys all over it, which doesn't matter because you can't see it from the road. There are normally dishes in my sink, unless it is late at night. I do the final loading after they are all in bed. There is always a load of laundry that needs to be folded. I've passed that chore on to Gret, and she manages about 2-3 loads a day.

Still though, there are things that I want to get done around here. But I know me, and I'll put them off each day so that I can write, or blog, or read. I do my normal stuff, cooking, cleaning, etc. But any extras get pushed aside. UNLESS I have someone that will check up on me and ask me if I've done something. This worked so well for me when I was doing Body For Life. Kim called me every day, asked what I'd eaten, what I'd done for exercise. I did the same for her. We wouldn't lie to each other. Somehow though, telling her that I hadn't run my 2 miles, or that I had a chocolate bar, just was not an option. I wouldn't lie to her, so I did what I was supposed to do, and told her the truth with a clear conscience. I need someone like that again. Will you guys help??

Here are my goals for the week:
Monday- fold all laundry in tv room, and get it put away; spend one hour on my WIP
Tuesday- clean my bathroom, spend one hour on my WIP
Wednesday- CLEAN OFF MY DESK, no time on WIP, as desk will take up every spare second
Thursday- Take off cabinets in kitchen, so new fridge will fit, one hour on WIP
Friday- Unpack metal box of breakables that has been sitting in my dining room for 6 months, 1 hour on WIP

There. That's not tough, right? There really isn't too much on that list. Those are just a few things that I want to accomplish this week. Things that I have been meaning to do for weeks, or months really. But I just let days slip away from me, and then feel guilty... Well, it ends today. I'm going to make sure that the laundry gets folded and put away. I will spend at least one hour on my computer NOT BLOGGING, working on my WIP.

Someone, make sure to check on me later, ok? This could get ugly. I'll be sure to keep you posted on my progress!

Sunday, May 07, 2006

6 kids and TWO rules

We hear a lot from people when they learn that we have six children. Usually, when I'm out with the kids, we hear such a wide variety of comments. The kids have heard them all, and usually have responses at the ready.

Here are some of the normal things we hear, along with some typical responses:
- "My, you sure have your hands full, don't you?"
---Typical response from the 4 year old: "no, she doesn't. We carry everything for her."

- "These aren't all YOURS, are they?"
--- "No, she stole some of us from a lady in another state, but we're not supposed to tell anyone that."

- "Haven't you figured out what causes that yet?"
--- "You mean there's a way to STOP this?"

- "Don't you have cable?"
--- "No, my dad thinks cable is too expensive. College savings funds are much cheaper!"

- "Well, God bless you!"
--- "Nah, He already has. But if you want, you can make a donation to help Him help us."

- "How in the world do you do it?"
--- "Do what? You mean I'm supposed to DO something? Wasn't giving birth six times enough?"

- "You must have the patience of a saint."
--- "Nah, I just have a very large belt."

- "Your children are so well behaved. How do you do it with so many?"
--- "That's easy. I beat them regularly, whether they need it or not."

Now you know we don't really beat our kids. Besides, the whole subject of 'discipline' deserves it's very own blog. What this one is really about is the HOUSE RULES. We have kids in our church that love coming over to our house because of our rules. Our house rules are legendary. When we try to explain them to parents, we usually get the glazed over looks, or the little snickers and something along the lines of "well, that would just never work for us". I really don't understand that at all. Our rules are pretty straighforward. They're very simple. Every single one of our children know the rules by heart. There is not mistaking the rules. There is no deviation from the rules, EVER. When they go out in public, or over to a friends house, they are asked to repeat the rules before they leave us. It's never been a problem. As I said, the rules are easy. They are...

1) Do what you're told.
2) Be polite.

That's it. It's that simple. We've learned that if they can follow those two simple rules, they will stay out of trouble. If they break either of those rules, BAD THINGS HAPPEN.

The beauty of those two rules is that they really encompass everything. All of the petty rules, the long rules, the stringent rules, that most kids are forced to remember and live can be easily summed up with our two.

If an adult asks or tells you to do something, you do it. You don't backtalk, you don't question, you don't grumble or complain. You just do it. If you have something to say about it, discussion will follow, AFTER you have done the deed. (We have, of course, discussed how far this rule goes regarding doing things that would violate personal space, or personal integrity.) If Mom asks you to do the dishes, but it's not your day, you do them, then explain that you did them yesterday. She will then be very nice and not make you do them again tomorrow. If Dad tells you to feed the dogs, but you already did it this morning, you feed the dogs, then let him know that you were the one that did it that morning. He will thank you for obeying, then let you know that you're off the hook for the rest of the week (or something along those lines). The important thing is to do what you're told to do, when you're told to do it.

If you are rude to your brother, if you hit your sister, if you backtalk your mom, if you ignore your dad, then you are breaking rule #2. Those things are just not polite. Calling someone a butt head, or burping in a restaurant are a violation of Rule #2. See how that one works?

Basically, the kids appreciate that they don't have a long list of things to remember. They know to do what they are told to do, and any other action is checked against Rule #2. If if seems like it would be RUDE, then it's a no-go. If it doesn't violate Rule #2, then it's generally ok.

These seem to work for us. I like their simplicity. I love hearing the baby repeat them to her friends before she does something. She'll say, "You shouldn't do that, because it's really not polite, and that's against Rule number 2". Her friend will ask "What do you mean? How many rules do you have?" And she says, "Only two. Do what you're told, and be polite. That means obey and be nice. Even *I* can do that!" It makes me smile.

What kinds of rules do you have in your family? How do your kids respond to your rules?

Friday, May 05, 2006

Florence, and more Cherry shoes

I know, I need to get the pic of my sweet Cherry shoes up. I got a few really cool comments on that last blog though. One of them was from Cherry Red. She pointed me to some cool shoes on Ebay, by searching for TUK. Yes, those shoes are awesome, thanks. But then I decided to broaden my search. If you haven't done that yet, go to ebay and search for "shoes cherry". I promise you, you won't be disappointed. I've already placed a few bids.

Ok, after heading over to Cherry Red's blog site, I noticed that she says she wouldn't live anywhere but California, EXCEPT Spain or FLORENCE. So I asked her if she'd been to Florence. Well, follow the link to her site in my comments, then check out her reply about her trip overseas. I'm seriously wondering if she's my long lost twin. She had the very same reaction that I did when I got off the train in Firenze. I mean, it was the first place ever that I felt "HOME", besides in Shane's arms. That's saying something major.

We took the train from Pisa, just because we wanted to be away from all the Navy people. They were mostly staying in Livorno, or heading to Rome. After months with these people, we wanted away. So Florence was the answer. Pulling in to the station filled me with such excitement. It was like I knew that I belonged there. We got off the train and just started wandering around, no direction in mind, no place to be, just enjoying being in Florence. We hit bookstores, we saw churches, and we walked. I got thirsty, and wanted cappucino. We stopped at this charming little cafe, with tables outside. You know the kind, with the big umbrellas. You see them in all the movies. Well, they really exist. We're sitting there at our table, birds are flying around the sqaure, the cappucino is amazing, and I half turn in my seat to see the statues. And I'm looking at the David. No, not a guy, I mean THE DAVID. Right there, across the square. Bigger than life. It was one of those moments that will be forever etched in my brain. This is something that I had always dreamed about, but never thought would actually happen, sitting in an Italian square, sipping cappucino with the man of my dreams, pigeons flying, perfect day, and having the David in the background. No, really, it was a dream I've had since I was a kid. And it came true that day. If I hadn't already known that I bleonged in Firenze, that moment would have sealed it for me.

After our coffees, we walked and shopped some more. There is an Italian leather brand, called The Bridge, that is amazing. I had to buy a shaving kit for Shane. He still has it. Of course, our main purpose of the trip was to find me a ring. He bought me the perfect diamond on the Ponte Vecchio bridge. Now, since he bought it there, it's not nearly as big as many rings that my friends have. But you know, just the memory of those perfect days, just seeing that bridge in my head, they more than make up for it. I couldn't love my ring more if it was a 5 carat perfect stone. In my mind, it really is - perfect.

Our hotel was amazing. It was one of those places where there was a sign outside the door, but you have no idea what it will be like inside. We just walked in, up to the front desk, and asked for a room. They gave us one. Room is an understatment. It was two floors. With a winding staircase. And a beautiful fresco. Really, the most gorgeous room I have ever seen. I cried when I left that room.

I've never taken Italian lessons. I spent my 4 years of high school in French class. I was fluent in Spanish as a youngster, but didn't keep up my skills. That didn't seem to matter. It was the weirdest thing, but I knew what they were saying to me. And before an hour, I was speaking back to them. I mean, I was talking Italian to these people, and they weren't looking at me like some dumb Americain butchering their beautiful language. I even had someone ask me if I was a native speaker, or had an Italian grandmother. No to both questions, but I was quite flattered.

Cherry Red also said that she was sad to leave Florence, even though she was heading to Nice. Well, I have to tell you, that's just what happened to us. Our next port was Cannes. My whole trip, I'd been looking forward to France. I'd taken the language in high school, wanted to fulfill my mom's dream of seeing the Eiffel Tower, already had leave papers in for Paris... And I couldn't stop crying on our train ride out of Florence. I just felt like I was leaving a piece of me there. I know that some people truly love Rome, and Venice captures many hearts. I understand that many fall for Paris, or Nice or Cannes. But for me, there is only one city where I long to be, only one place calls to me across the night winds. I can still hear the bells, see the glistening top of the Duomo, feel the breeze, smell the food, taste the coffee, enjoy the view of the Bridge... ahhh, Firenze. My heart aches to see you again!!

And that's why, when my dear sweet husband went looking for a wallpaper for me, what he found was "Florence under snow". It shows my beautiful city, under a blanket of soft white. Sometimes I close all of my open working windows on my screen, just to relive those few glorious days. I'll make it back there again, at least if Shane knows what's good for him. Until then, I think Bogart messed up the name of the city, because for me..."We'll always have FLORENCE".

(Just in case you were wondering, the pic above is called "Florence in the Snow". Shane sent it to me to use as a wallpaper. Now I can see the Ponte Vecchio all the time!)