Monday, November 24, 2008

Some evidence of productivity?

Any of you who write know how dinosaurial the publishing industry is. We write, write, write for years then wait some more for a final product.

Last night I over heard my husband's mom asking if there was any news about my book. Exasperated, John told her, "No. Mom, this book stuff can take anywhere from a few months to a few years! I'll just let you know when something happens."


Convincing people you really are a writer is difficult when you have nothing to show. Amazon doesn't know who you are. People start to wonder if you're making things up. Like, is my claiming to write just a cover for my addiction to Discovery Channel and National Geographic?

So, I'm posting a few photos of projects I recently completed. Projects that were daunting at the beginning. Projects I'm gloating over because of the tangible evidence.

Three hours of brushing and de-matting yields more hair than Caleb is big! How the heck does he do that?

My Latvian mittens finished in early October in time for those chilly nights at band competitions. They are 100% wool and VERY warm. My mom has a pair and loves them. Found the pattern on the internet and used double-pointed needles. Fair Isle isn't that hard. If I can do it...

Since then I completed a ribbed scarf and cable-rimmed hat set and started working on a sweater for myself using some nasty old yarn I bought several years ago before I knew what I was doing. Can I say I hate acrylic yarn? Natural fibers are way easier to work with!

Oh, and I read ten YA books in the past month as part of my "unlocking the secrets of the teenage reader psyche" project.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Is it too much to ask for some of the white stuff?

When I watch the weather channel and see snow is falling where snow shouldn't be falling, I get mad. Like, Atlanta? The Carolinas?

Granted, yesterday was chilly here in Denver, but THERE WAS NO SNOW.

Lake effect, lake effect, lake effect - would someone blow a big hole to the west of Colorado, create a great lake then usher cold air over it?

But that'd take out Utah. There are nice people in Utah. Moab is in Utah which has Arches National Park.

Nah. That wouldn't work. Whatever snow comes this way gets sucked up by the mountains leaving Denver sunny and dry.

The snow-making lake would have to take out half the Rockies, and I like the mountains. They are fun to hike and camp in.

Colorado touts itself as ski country. It was 78 two days ago. I think we need to clarity by adding the word, water. Water skiing is what you have when the temps go up in the mountains at the ski resorts.


If I want to see snow, I need to buy myself a snow globe and shake it in front of my face all day.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Have you checked out yet?

My Pennsylvania buddies at are promoting their website with some prizes. If you love books, music and movies, TitleTrakk is the best site to read reviews, interviews and first chapters of books from your favorite authors.

I've been writing reviews for TT since it was born, and the Darlington sisters are family to me. This is a super-high quality site, built out of passion for Christian art rather than profit.

Read on and send your friends to my blog. TitleTrakk is a great joy in my litterbox!

Welcome to the 1st ever Blog Tour!

This week we're chatting about:

The Fantastic Fall Giveaway Contest!

Just in time for the holidays, you could win over
$335 worth of books, cds and dvds!

Sponsored by our friends at:

The Grand Prize Winner will receive:


Whispers of the Bayou by Mindy Starns Clark
Rachel's Secret by BJ Hoff
Beach Dreams by Trish Perry
Playing God by Michelle McKinney Hammond
White Soul by Brandt Dodson
The Legend of the Firefish by George Bryan Polivka
Finding Marie by Susan Paige Davis
The Power of Praying Through the Bible by Stormie Omartian
A Man After God's Own Heart by Jim George
Evidence for Faith 101 by Bruce Bickel & Stan Jantz


Wake Up! Wake Up! by Everyday Sunday
Rock What You Got by Superchick
Sunday by Tree63
Houston We Are Go by Newsboys (Live CD/DVD)
Nothing Left To Lose by Mat Kearney
I Am Free Worship Collection
Salvation Station by Newworldson
Not Without Love by Jimmy Needham
Pages by Shane & Shane
Colors and Sounds by Article One


Love's Unfolding Dream
The Ten Commandments Animated
Between the Walls

But that's not all!
We're giving away even more!

During this blog tour (November 10th - 16th) we'll be drawing 2 winners daily from the contest entries to win an additional free book or cd!

Visit the Contest page today to enter the contest and place yourself in the running to receive the Grand Prize, plus all the daily prizes! Deadline to enter is November 17th.

Founded in 2006 by Tracy & C.J. Darlington, is an interactive website spotlighting Christian books, music & movies. Updated weekly, we feature author and musician interviews, album and book reviews, music videos, movie reviews and interviews, book excerpts, surveys, polls, and fun contests. Learn more:

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Elmo underwear...

I can lead colorguard units to state championships, teach kids how to do some pretty crazy things with flags, rifles and sabers but do you think I can teach a toddler how to use the potty?


If I had a bathtub that my body could fit in and could afford Calgon, I'd be screaming, "Calgon, take me away!"

One thing about motherhood that I've never come to appreciate or tolerate is poop. The more I have to look at it and smell it, the more I despise it.

Different pull-up diaper brands boast guaranteed success towards potty training if you use them. Cool Alert is supposed to tingle the tinkler so the toddler can trot to the pot. Not my kid. Doesn't seem to feel it or care.

We've watched videos on how "big boy" it is to do you business in the toilet. Videos that hold real underwear in high regard.

When I opened Booger's door this morning, the smell hit me like a tsunami. Gagging, I chased him around his room, over trains, through a tee pee and into a pile of stuffed animals. My fingers latched in his arm pitts and I hoised him on the changing table (which is duct-taped together b/c he's pulled it apart and destroyed it).

"No! No diapers! I don't want diapers!"

"I'm gonna put on your almost-underwear to help you get ready for real underwear."

"Real underwear, I want real underwear." Kyle wiggled and kicked at me as I tried to shove his feet through the leg holes. I'd put him in underpants if he had some. Money is tight and The Budget won't allow for much beyond bills.

Booger vaulted over the edge of the table, I caught him and put him on his back - again. Then I remembered my mom sent a little money in a Halloween card. I knew just the thing to buy.

At Babies-R-Us, Kyle marched proudly down the aisle behind the sales lady toward the rack of big boy underwear. Diego, Cars or Elmo? I was hoping for Thomas, but the Boog lunged for his fave red monster.

"I want Elmo!" The sales lady handed him a 3 pack of 2Ts and he hugged it to his chest twisting from side to side with a huge grin.

After lunch, I dared to ask if he wanted to have an underwear party and put on his new underpants. He chose which pair he wanted to wear.

"Now, if you feel like you need to go poop or pee, tell me and I'll put you on the potty, okay?"

"I play Thomas," Booger said.

Every few minutes I checked for a tell-tale dark spot on his sweat pants. Wanted to catch him before any pee got in my rug.

An hour passed. Bogger bounced up and down on his bed. "Mommy! I jumping!"

And I smelled it.

Let me ask you parents; have any of you ever tried to check you kid's pants while they were bouncing up and down? If not, it's not easy. Trust me.

Matching his rhythm, I pulled at the waistband. The top of a brown pancake peeked at me. Great. Now what? How do you get a kid out of underwear full of poo? I couldn't peel it off like a diaper. Nor could I lay him down. I didn't want the stuff spread like peanut butter down his legs.

Into the bathroom we went. Booger kicked and screamed, "My butt! My butt! Mine poop!"

"I know it's your poop, but it needs to go bye-bye. Elmo is sad because he's dirty." I flipped up the lid of the toilet with my toe.


Suspending his backside over the edge, I peeled down the pants. Or tried. Booger writhed, sending brown quarter-sized poocakes flying.

"Is that poop, Mommy? Is that poop?" He lifted his arms straight above his head and slid from my grasp, planting a socked foot firm in a pile.

I wish I could tell you I reamined calm and collected and said in my most business-like voice, "Now Kyle, I need you to hold still so I can get your sock off. Then I'd like it if you could move over by the tub."

"Nonono! Ew! Getyourfootoutofthere, yuck, your're stepping- oh gross! No! Don't jump! Stopjumpinginyourpoorightnow! I'm loosing it. How do I do this?"

I tucked my kid football style under my left arm and yanked off a yard or so of toilet paper.

"Mommy? Is that Kyle poop? I want to pick up Kyle's poop. Mommy?"

"Don't talk to me, I'm trying to clean-" I remembered the socked foot rubbing against my arm wasn't clean. "Ahhhhh!" I flipped poor Kyle upside down and peeled the offending sock from his foot, flinging it out of reach. "Oh, crap!" It landed poo-side down on the carpet.

"Mommy, are you okay?"

"I'd be okay if you pooped in the potty instead of your pants."

"Where's Esau? I want to scare him. Like a ghost."

Good thing I can bend my body like a pretzel. With one hand I grabbed the sock along with the nasty pants, tossing them in the sink. Now what? Do I just wipe him off with TP or take him to the changing table.

"Stand still so Mommy can clean you..."

"I scare Esau!" My little bun-rocket shot out the door.

"Get back here! You have a dirty bottom!" I gave chase and caught him under the arm-pitts. "I need to clean you up and put on a diaper so you can take a nap (and I can get some work done)."

"No! Mommy, I want underwear!"

Booger is wearing a diaper right now. He's jumping on his bed, scribbling in Daddy's checkbook, and chasing the cats.

No wonder some kids wear diapers until they're eight!

Monday, November 03, 2008

Remembering Nana

Not until the past week have I lived a day without her.

Nana was the last living grandparent of mine. I guess making it 36 years with at least one grandparent is something I should be thankful for.

But I miss her.

Dang, this is hard. My eyeballs are already leaking as I look at this photo taken in July. It was the last moment I saw her alive.

Nana and Pop Pop were my favorite two people on the planet. As a little kid, my bias was based on their stuffing me full of forbidden foods such as chocolate, Coke and sugary sweets. My poor parents were guaranteed a wild child after a visit to Nana's house.

Would you believe Nana had over 80 pairs of shoes - each pair with a matching purse?

The walk-in closet in her tiny Cape Cod, provided the perfect hiding place for two little girls hell-bent on scaring her half to death. Racks of pumps and purses obscured us from sight. We knew she'd come home from work at Bergman's shoe department (surprised?) at 5:30PM on the dot. Pop Pop pretended we weren't there. Tammie and I hunkered down in wait. In her closet. Every time.

Every time, Nana pretended we scared her. She'd put her hands over her chest and breath like she ran a marathon. We'd clambor out of the closet into her arms.

"You've got 'Nana-nerves'." My sister and I would tell Mom or vice versa. Nana was a worry-wort. She rarely traveled outside the state of Pennsylvania, and when she did, it was no more than 100 miles into NY or NJ.

She feared for our lives when Tammie and I rode our bikes around our rural neighborhood. Some men in a brown van could come along and kidnap us.

Walking around barefoot sent her into a tizzy (shoe obsession?) - a)not wearing shoes causes your feet to spread, b)walking barefoot on pavement or concrete will give you arthritis, c)you'll catch your death.

When Kyle was starting to walk, she sent money to me so he could have "proper shoes". To Kyle's physical therapist, "proper shoes" were those super-flexible leather things. To Nana, "proper shoes" were orthopedic clunkers that covered half a baby's leg! "His feet will grow crooked," she said huffing and grunting in disapproval.

Tammie loved to lay on her back and watch TV upside down. "You'll go blind. Sit up," Nana'd say on many occasions. If one of us was too close to the TV (usually me, I am legally blind w/o contacts), Nana had a fit about radiation exposure. "You'll die from radiation. Cancer, you know."

Oh, and ink posioning. If my sister or I wrote on our skin, Nana freaked. "Ink poisoning! The ink'll absorb in your bloodstream and you'll die!" I guess she was such an inkaphobe, my mom bought into it.

When I was about fourish, I decided to break the world tatoo record and cover my little sister in ink. "That's Incredible" would be impressed. We'd be on TV. Maybe we'd move into a house with stairs or a two-car garage!

During a long phone call with a friend, I went to work. Mom was tethered to the wall. Tammie ended up covered in blue ink. Mom saw her, screamed and scrubbed my poor sister until she was raw. Nana-nerves.

Other things Nana thought would "be the death" of us: kissing the dog or cat (deadly germs), walking in the woods (alien abduction), going outside with wet hair (pnemonia), not wearing hat/scarf/gloves (flu), not eating beets (if you don't eat them, you'll get sick) and flip-flops (deforemed foot maker # 65).

Nana was a master at being "fair". If she made cookies that were not perfectly consistent in size, she'd cut them up into pieces so Tammie and I had an equal number of pieces. I threw the "not fair" fits. She'd count out M&Ms, trying to make sure the colors were distributed evenly.

She'd fret at Pop Pop for letting his hound dog in the house while she was at work.

She always brought a gift for the non-birthday child on birthdays (again, I was the problem).

When I was a teenager, Nana's apartment was my refuge from a world where I didn't belong. I'd cry about all the mean things kids said to me- names they called me. She filled me up with ice cream and Sprite. Nana almost always took my side in arguments. During my turbulent teen years, she was the only person who thought I was exceptionally gited (okay, Mom and Dad said so, but who believes their parents as a teen?) She even took the sting out of teasing words from sisterly spats.

THE NATIONAL ENQUIRERE was her favorite "newspaper". While I was at Houghton, I'd get envelopes with articles she thought I must see. "Hiker abducted by aliens while on camping trip." "Hiker dies from industrial pollution in creek". Stuff like that along with zuchini bread. Nana's zuchini bread was the best. I still can't replicate it even though Mom swears I have the right recipe. Nana's bread was very dark brown, not golden. Hmmmm.

Kyle was her "baby doll". Despite her mental illness as she aged, she pulled out of her delusional world for Kyle. Had to know how the baby was, what he was up to at any moment. She'd worry about him endlessly while he was in PA.

This past July, he was sometimes the only person she recognized. For the first two weeks of our visit, Kyle insisted on going down stairs to get a Nanny sandwhich kiss. She'd blink awake from a fitful sleep in her chair, light up, kiss him and snore.

After she went to the hospital, Kyle wanted Nanny kisses more than ever. He didn't understand what happened or where she went. Those next two weeks, he prayed his "Dear Jesus's" asking Jesus to give Nana a "Jesus Kiss."

The day before Kyle and I flew home, Mom and I took Kyle to see her at the nursing home. She didn't know who Mom was, but she sure knew who Kyle was in that moment. His little eyes crinkled, he let out a squeal and threw his arms around her neck. I feared he'd be scared of her. She was in a wheel chair and was paper pale. Ghostly. Her marble-like blue eyes softened, and she kissed his cheeks over and over again before surrendering to the sedatives once again.

Climbing into the car, I knew I'd never see her again this side of heaven. I'm so thankful the last words I said to her were, "Nana, I love you so much. I'm going to miss you. - Oh crap, I'm crying again - bye." I kissed her several times and hugged her tight.

Jesus came and got her on October 26, at 4:15 in the morning, Eastern time. It happened very quick and in a way, unexpected. Mom called me as I got ready for church. We cried together on the phone. Not being able to make her funeral last Wednesday was excruciating for me. But there was no way to make it work.

Mom said Nana looked more beautiful than ever in at least ten years. "Pretty, she was just so... pretty and peaceful looking." Mom said at that moment, God washed her aching heart with a peace only He can give.

Kyle won't be able to get anymore Nanny sandwiches, but he can know with assurance, Nana is getting the real deal when it comes to Jesus kisses.