Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Ramblings of a Sentimental Mom

Can I get sentimental for a moment?

It's been that kind of week so far. It all started with the emails. There was the one reminding parents that cap and gown orders were due for my high school senior (done), the one that said there were mandatory religious school confirmation rehearsals for my fifteen year old (noted), and the one that said fourth grade graduation would be starting at 9:15 (got it).

Within the course of one week, all three of my children will be hitting milestones. It is a week that will involve a LOT of tissues.

photo credit: Graduation Cake Guy via photopin (license)
The thing is, that emotional week is still several weeks away, and the waterworks have already started. Like yesterday. I went to Walgreens to buy cards. As soon as I saw the first graduation card, I knew I was going to lose it. I quickly put it down and decided it was a task for another day.

Maybe my sentimental craziness is because I've been reading a lot of my old blog posts lately. Last week, I listened to a podcast about social media. One of the things discussed was recycling older entries that readers might still enjoy/find relevant. Since I have over 400 posts, I thought why not? So I started at the beginning and started reading. There were so many about my three children. Memories came flooding back as if the events I wrote about happened yesterday. Except they didn't. Years have passed, and the tweens I wrote about are now teens. One is eighteen, works, has his own car, and is getting ready to graduate high school. The other will be sixteen this summer and is already thinking about colleges. And that toddler who I wrote about? The one who was worried that the Tooth Fairy didn't get help the way Santa did and wondered if maybe she could borrow an elf or two? Well, he's almost ten and getting ready to enter the tween years himself. Like most parents, I had a "wait, what? when?" moment trying to figure out how they aged when I didn't (snicker). Of course, there were tears thinking about it all, but there were also laughs … because so many of the memories made me smile.

So if you see me on social media being more social with old posts, it's just me being a sentimental (older) mom.


Tuesday, May 17, 2016

I Blame It On The Carpet

I was listening to a podcast the other day about social media, and a thought occurred to me. Lately I haven't been very social. There was a time when I was blogging two or three times a week. Looking back, I realized it's been about two years since that all stopped, which was just around the time of my divorce. Did you know that happened? Yeah.

It was a crazy, hectic, stressful, depressing time. To add to the stress, our marital home, which was too large and expensive to keep, sold in two days, and the buyers wanted a quick settlement. I had five weeks to pack up and find a new home for myself and my three children.

In the housing market, it was a time of low inventory and high demand … at least in my price range. I was getting outbid on everything and had visions of us living out of my minivan. But then in a very "Sex in the City" sort of way, I got a phone call from my best friend: "A guy on my street died. They're hammering in the For Sale sign as I speak. Call your realtor NOW."

So I did. And I got the house before anyone else had a chance to see it. I had already been through two other houses in the neighborhood. They were all built in the 1950's and all basically the same. In fact, the one across the street was one I'd bid on and lost. So I knew what it could look like which was a good thing. Because … WOW.

"It's just carpet, it's just carpet," I told myself as I walked through. My realtor tried to convince me I could live with it for a while. I told her to stop … that she already had the sale. I knew from looking at the other houses on the street that these homes had hardwood on the first floor and just prayed I would find something in decent, usable condition underneath this craziness.

I settled on the house a few days before the movers arrived in order to have some time to work on the house. My best friend and our teenage sons couldn't rip the carpet out fast enough. I wish I could say pulling out the remaining 10,000 staples was therapeutic, but it wasn't. Underneath, the floors weren't in the best shape, and in the dining room (Oh yes, this carpet was EVERYWHERE), the prior owner had removed the hardwood and put down linoleum. Surprise! But at least it was neutral. More importantly, it wasn't this carpet. With scratched up hardwood floors and unexpected linoleum, my furniture and other belongings began to arrive. Suddenly, this strange place started looking and feeling like home. Ready or not, I was entering a new chapter of my life.

Now two years later, I've since had the hardwood refinished and the linoleum removed. The dust has settled on our unexpected life, and all is good…We are happy and loved. I'm extremely grateful for everything that we have. And I still don't miss that carpet.


Friday, April 29, 2016

The Mother of All Tooth Fairies

A few minutes ago, a lovely woman with glitter in her hair and fluttering wings, dressed in purple and pink ruffles, called my son's name. He obediently stood from his chair and followed her through the door.

Okay, so she maybe she wore blue scrubs, didn't have glitter in her hair or have fluttering wings, but she did call out my eighteen year old son's name. And he did follow her behind a closed door.

In case you couldn't tell, I'm writing this post from the oral surgeon's waiting room. Today is the dreaded day ... Wisdom teeth removal. 

The other moms in here all look so calm, but I'm a twisted mess. For weeks I was fine. I was fine when I made the appointment, I was fine when we came in for the consult, I was even fine when my son had to sign all the paperwork because he's eighteen now.

But then this week started..

First, I had to convince my son this wouldn't happen: "Mom, did you know 1 in 5 people die from this procedure? I mean from the anesthesia."

The next day, I had to really convince him this wouldn't happen: "Mom, what if Dr. M drops the sharp thing down my throat? It could cut all my organs open and  I could bleed to death."

Then, I had to make sure he followed through on this instruction: "No food or drink after midnight - not even a sip of water." Since I go to bed around 10:30, I was worried. Really worried. What if he woke up in the middle of the night and forgot? I barely slept worrying about it, and the sleep it did get was filled with dreams of him eating Thanksgiving sized feasts.. One of these meals even took place in the doctor's waiting room while waiting to be called back.. Yeah.

And it doesn't end there. I'm worried about what happens after. Will the pain be horrible? Will I be able to help enough? Did I buy enough soft foods? Do I have enough ice packs? Will he be comfortable? Will I pass out in the office while they explain all the gory stuff about clots, bleeding, signs of infection, and preventing dry sockets?

Anxiety much?

So that's where I am right now. Looking around the room,  I'm wondering how these other moms are keeping it all together so well. Are you telling me they had full nights of sleep? Were their dreams filled with things other than eating a mega meal in the dentist office? Are they confident they'll get through post op instructions without the room spinning? Do they know what they're doing after they get home?

Maybe I'm the only first timer here.. Not just for wisdom teeth but for any type of child-related surgery at all. Not that I'm complaining ... Eighteen years and three kids is a nice long stretch without any surgeries. But maybe that's why.

So for now, I'm waiting ... And writing. Because that's what us neurotic tooth fairies do.


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Thursday, April 28, 2016

Review: Sister Dear by Laura McNeill

Congratulations to Laura McNeill on her new release, SISTER DEAR! I was fortunate enough to receive an advance copy of this book and couldn't wait to dig in .. after I finished drooling over the cover that is. I absolutely love it! (And if you know anything about me, you know I have a thing for covers ... Who doesn't?) Kudos to the designer on this one!

But enough about that, the true gem is in the story...

Here is the summary as given on the back of the book:

All Allie Marshall wants is a fresh start. But when dark secrets refuse to stay buried, will her chance at a new life be shattered forever?

Convicted of a crime she didn’t commit, Allie watched a decade of her life vanish – time that can never be recovered. Now, out on parole, Allie is determined to clear her name, rebuild her life, and reconnect with the daughter she barely knows.

But Allie’s return home shatters the quaint, coastal community of Brunswick, Georgia. Even her own daughter Caroline, now a teenager, bristles at Allie’s claims of innocence. Refusing defeat, a stronger, smarter Allie launches a battle for the truth, digging deeply into the past even if it threatens her parole status, personal safety, and the already-fragile bond with family.

As her commitment to finding the truth intensifies, what Allie ultimately uncovers is far worse than she imagined. Her own sister has been hiding a dark secret—one that holds the key to Allie’s freedom.

My Review:

A case of being in the wrong place at the wrong time or murder? Told from several different points of view, Sister Dear, drew me in from page one. While the main focus of the story is to solve the murder in hopes of restoring Allie's reputation, I particularly loved the exploration and development of the relationships Allie had lost while in prison, as well as the emotional well-being of her teenage daughter, Caroline. Laura is a skillful storyteller unfolding the plot at the perfect pace, throwing in surprises just when I thought I had it all figured out. I truly enjoyed this book. Perfect for book clubs.

About Laura McNeill:

After six years behind the anchor desk at two CBS affiliates, Laura moved to the Alabama Gulf Coast to raise her family. Laura's debut domestic suspense novel with HarperCollins, Center of Gravity, set in Mobile, Ala., was published in July of 2015. She holds a master's degree in journalism from The Ohio State University and is currently pursuing her PhD in Instructional Leadership from the University of Alabama. She now lives in North Alabama.


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Thursday, December 17, 2015

New Book Alert! The Secret Files of Fairday Morrow by J Haight and S. Robinson

Congratulations to my friends Jessica Haight and Stephanie Robinson on the release of their new book:

The Secret Files of Fairday Morrow!

This is one book you and your middle grade reader will not want to miss!

Delacorte Press/ Random House Kids Books

MIDDLE GRADE/ ages 10 and up

ISBN: 978-0-385-74471-3

Authors: Jessica Haight and Stephanie Robinson

Illustrator: Roman Muradov

Publicity contact: Samuel Terris

Eleven-year-old Fairday Morrow is less than
thrilled that her family is moving thousands of miles from civilization to the
quiet country town of Ashpot, Connecticut, where she’s absolutely certain
she’ll die of boredom.

As if leaving Manhatten and her best friend,
Lizzy, the only other member of the elite Detective Mystery Squad, weren’t bad
enough, Fairday is stuck living in the infamous Begonia House, a creepy old
Victorian with dark passageways, a gigantic dead willow tree, and a mysterious

Before she can even unpack, strange music coming
from behind a padlocked door leads Fairday up a spiral staircase and into a
secret room, where she finds an ancient mirror, a brass key, and a curious portrait
of a red-haired lady. These seemingly unrelated items prove to be the first in
a series of clues that takes Fairday, the visiting Lizzy, and their new squad
member, Marcus, on an amazing adventure.

Can the members of the Detective Mystery Squad piece
together the puzzle before it’s too late? Or will whatever’s causing trouble
find Fairday and her friends first? 
Catch the Book Buzz...

Jessica Haight is a true New Englander, with a deep desire to be near the ocean and a love of the four seasons. She enjoys drawing while standing up and cultivating magic in her garden. She easily floats away in the pages of a good story and is still waiting for her owl from Hogwarts. Jessica lives in Connecticut with her charming fiancé, James.

Stephanie Robinson lives with her husband in a quiet town, though not as quaint as Ashpot. After teaching fifth grade for almost fifteen years, she is now enjoying her role as a school media specialist. One of the many benefits of her job is that she learns something new every day. When Stephanie isn't working, she spends her time creating stories, getting lost in books, and traveling to new places.

You can find Jessica and Stephanie at:

Jessica and Stephanie are giving away a copy of THE SECRET FILES OF FAIRDAY MORROW to one lucky reader. This is an international giveaway.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


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Monday, August 3, 2015

Author Spotlight: Avril Somerville - A Journey Of Life On Purpose

Today I have the pleasure of introducing you to someone I know both personally and professionally. She is incredibly inspirational, beautiful inside and out, a gifted writer, and a remarkable woman with a huge heart and kind soul. I'm thrilled to have her on my blog today! Please meet Avril Somerville, author of A JOURNEY OF LIFE ON PURPOSE.

Avril Somerville is a graduate of Swarthmore College and Penn State University. She is also a speaker, and teacher of writing for children grades K - 8. In her memoir, A Journey Of Life On Purpose: Creativity, Love, Womanhood, Community, Race, and Identity, Somerville combines the spiritual and literary in ways that are intelligent and thoughtful, yet accessible. She shares her convictions and empathies on heart matters such as romantic and community love, sisterhood, parenting; on more intimate matters such as mother and daughter love, and yearning; and, on largely political and social constructs such as race, perception, and identity, which are woven seamlessly through expositions in essay and poetry, making the total body of work a universal and transcendent one. A Journey Of Life On Purpose is Somerville’s first book of essays and poetry. She lives outside Philadelphia with her husband and three children.

Welcome Avril! What inspired you to write this book?

I wrote this book because I know that many women like myself––intellectually curious and multi-dimensional in their gifts, with a strong commitment to family and community ––struggle with finding meaning beyond their roles. This book helps readers, especially women, to reassign and reclaim value in the intentionality of their actions and words in their relationships and communities through candid conversations in prose and poetry. It delves into the primacy of the creative space, insists on the transparency required for real-ationships with others, including ourselves, and communicates a quiet urgency for more empathy as well as a deliberate understanding of what lies beneath race and identity; that is, the very soul and spirit of a being.

I love the term real-ationships and the fact that you include ourselves when talking about insisting on transparency. When did you first consider yourself a writer?

I considered myself a writer shortly after coming to the United States from the Caribbean at the age of ten. I struggled with my own displacement and sense of belonging, and found a safe space in my black and white composition books where I could freely express my thoughts and develop my own sense of self in a newly racialized context.

Is there a writer that you would love to co-write a book with?

I had to really think about that one! There are several authors that I enjoy reading, including Edwidge Danticat, Alice Munro, Toni Morrision, J. California Cooper, James Baldwin, Sue Monk Kidd, Audre Lorde, bell hooks, Kahlil Gibran. Still, there are others, but I think I'd have the most fun with Junot Diaz. I really do believe he's kind of a badly behaved writer. His writing is a welcome departure from some of the stiffer canons that I was forced to read as a student––no quotation marks for dialogue, no sanitizing of language, and certainly little concern for offending the reader. Diaz’s fiction is coupled with truthful insight and historical reference to the origins of that insight into the communities he writes so capably about. In my eyes, he is a liberated writer––writing first for himself and truth, and to a lesser degree, for an audience; I admire that freedom of voice. I read his book, This is How You Lose Her, and was drawn in immediately to familiar places and nuances that I hadn’t yet seen, or since, captured in print.

So based on your description, I bought This Is How You Lose Her over the weekend and couldn't put it down. I so admire his ability to write from a place within where there are no walls. I think the two of you would create something amazing together. What are you working on next?

I am currently working on maximizing the potential of this book through personal and speaking engagements and presentations. My debut novel, How Dare You Say Goodbye? is scheduled for late 2015.

That's a great title. I also love the title of your current book as well as the cover. They say people judge a book by its cover. Do you believe that, and who did yours?

Some people do judge a book by its cover. On the other hand, I have several books on my shelf with very uninspiring covers that are delightful or provocative reads, like The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran. I think ultimately, it is what resonates with your spirit or creative appetite at any given moment in your life. Also, if I enjoy a particular writer, I am looking for content and not commercial appeal; In those cases, it matters little to me what is on the cover, so long as all the words are spelled correctly! Eric Hutchison at designed the cover of my book, A Journey Of Life On Purpose after much iteration. Bless him!

Now that your book is published, do you have any advice to aspiring writers?

Write daily even when you don't feel like it. Don't self-censor. Keep writing till the story comes forward. Don't compare yourself to other writers. Your story matters! There are as many voices as there are people. Your story might save someone else's life, or simply entertain. The story will find its way to where it belongs, but first you must release it.

I couldn't agree more with all of that. Thank you so much for those inspiring words. Now for some fun questions that might test our friendship ... no I'm kidding ... not really ... PC or Mac?

Definitely Mac. Once you go Mac, you'll never go back. Why would you want to?

YES, YES, and YES. And ... Coffee or Tea?

That’s easy. Coffee. Twice a day. Strong too. Café Bustelo, preferably. Coffee drinkers have a better time; they're like the “cool kids” if there is really such a thing. That’s my story and I’m sticking with it in order to justify the habit of drinking at least one cup a day.

Us coffee drinkers really are the cool kids! I'm so glad you said that … somebody had to. Looks like we can still be friends :D

Back to your amazing book... anything else to share with my readers:

From this book, I want readers to understand that in their intentionality––that is, in their setting out––they have the power to be transformative in even the smallest of ways, in the lives of others, and achieve the outcomes they claim to value––justice, equity, fairness, empathy, personal fulfillment … purpose.

Thank you so much for joining me today Avril!  For more about Avril Somerville and/or her book, find her online at LifeAs An Art Form. Her book, A Journey Of Life On Purpose can be found on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and KoboBooks. Autographed copies (for U.S./domestic customers only, while supplies last) can also be ordered directly from Avril’s website.


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Monday, July 13, 2015

Review: Center of Gravity, Laura McNeill

I've been a fan of Laura McNeill's books for a while now. Her stories are sweet, funny, romantic, and they definitely tug at your heartstrings. So when she told me she'd written a suspense novel, I was kind of surprised … and excited. Even more so when she asked me to review an advanced copy. Of course I said, absolutely! And then I thought, uh-oh - this is a friend. What if I don't like it? Thankfully that wasn't the case at all, although (and this is not a spoiler) I was a bit concerned that the first wife in the story who is dead was a children's author named Karen. Laura claims this was purely coincidental.

In Laura's book, Center of Gravity, Ava thought she had it all- loving and successful husband, beautiful home, and children she adored more than life itself - until her dream life turned into her worst nightmare. From the very first chapter, I was drawn into this story to the point where I wanted to reach into the pages to hug Ava and her children. At times the emotions I felt were so visceral I had to put the book down to absorb what was happening ... But not for long as it was truly a page turner.

Center of Gravity had every element I could ask for in a book, edge of your seat drama, flawed and real characters full of depth and layers, and beautifully written prose filled with emotion. Kudos to Laura McNeill for writing a fabulous and suspenseful novel.

Laura adores hot coffee, good manners, the color pink, and novels that keep her reading past midnight. She believes in the beauty of words, paying it forward, and that nerds rule the world. Laura is a fan of balmy summer nights, fireflies, and pristine mountain lakes. She lives in Mobile, Alabama with her two sons.

You can find Laura Tweeting @Lauramcneillbks and blogging at After July 14th, Laura’s suspense novel, Center of Gravity, can be found wherever fine books are sold.

BUY LINK:  Amazon


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