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What Are You Doing This Holiday Weekend?

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What am I doing this holiday weekend, you ask?

Why, I am being thankful for the men and women in our armed forces who sacrificed their time and lives so that I can live free.

Thank You.

Thank You.

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What I Learned This Week – 5/24/15

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I was at McDonald’s with my family this week. I was merrily chewing away on my chicken nugget when I grabbed the fountain cup that I assumed was mine. I took a big swig to wash down the compressed mystery chicken meat and greasy batter (Delicious!), when I realized I had my husband’s cup.

This week I learned that iced tea tastes like I imagine garbage juice would taste.

You know, when all the liquid in the garbage settles to the bottom, but then a hole gets in the bag and it leaks out and is an unappealing brown color.

WEEK-Picky Eater

That is exactly what tea tasted like. I have never had it before, and can guarantee (barring another fast food mix-up) I will not have it ever again.

My first book, The Wind Could Blow a Bug is NOW AVAILABLE!

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[Pssst…Book 2 is COMING SOON!]

Always Be Yourself

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Yes, I am once again using my blog as a form of personal therapy.

One of my friends has a daughter who is only ten years old. She is a very normal, beautiful, smart, outgoing girl to look at her. But she is already beginning to struggle with feelings of not dressing cool enough or being cool enough. She is already starting to believe when she looks in the mirror that the person who looks back at her needs to be changed in some way. She thinks the person deep down inside of her isn’t “enough”.

That is how it all starts.

And if she lets it eat at her, then she will start to dislike herself. And once that stone of self identity is etched, it is very hard to grind it off again.

Then she will be 39 and having conversations like this:

M: Do you like me, mommy?
ME: Of course I like you. And I like Daddy, and Dave…Maybe someday I will even like myself.
M: Why you say that?

This seemed to confuse him. He isn’t ten yet.

The next few examples are GLBT related. I don’t have that experience, personally. But I still find it relatable. I only have personal experience knowing what a middle school girl with low-self esteem struggles with. Someone having to struggle with revealing a sexual preference must have the same anxiety x 1000.

I watched Bruce Jenner’s interview with Diane Sawyer a few weeks ago. I thought he did a really good job of conveying how hard it was for him all these years to hide something very basic about himself: he is actually a transgender woman. Over the years, family members found out about pieces of his struggle, but he still was not able to reveal the full picture until recently.

I watch the ABC drama Nashville. For three seasons, Chris Carmack has played the character of Will Lexington, a country singer trying to hide from everyone, including his wife, that he is actually gay. He finally announced that he was gay publicly to the press in the Season 3 finale. The writers did a good job; I could actually FEEL his relief of removing his hetero mask, even though it is going to create many more issues for him.

TRUE SELF-glad I dont

I realized after 39 years, that I should live my life by being “the real me”, and not a fake me.

I found myself in job interviews, telling the interviewer what they wanted to hear.

“What comes first, your job or your family?”

I gave them what I thought they would want to hear, not what was in my heart. If my sweet boy is sick, he needs me to stay home with him.

I don’t even feel like they should be allowed to ask that question.

I love Dolly. I hope I get to meey her someday.

I love Dolly. I hope I get to meet her someday.

In being exposed to the first four scenarios above recently, the Universe has been trying to remind me to be true to myself.

Who is the real me?

I am still working on that. I probably shouldn’t take life advice from Internet memes, but I do.

The real me wants to be positive. She doesn’t want to have to have a fake personality for the world. Other people let their true selves hang out, warts and all. I want to be that person. I want to stop worrying about if the guy behind me in traffic is mad that I am not breaking the basic speed law. I want to stop worrying if I am standing too close or too far away to someone else in the check out line at the grocery store. I want to realize that I take up a space in this world and deserve my square foot as much as the person standing next to me.


I am trying to live this now. To everyone except my mother, that is.

Anytime in my life I have ever revealed my true self to her, she has reacted badly. Such as when I once put a knife to my wrist as a teenager or got my ear pierced a second time or colored my hair an unnatural color or told her I had gone to church with my friend or told her I was pregnant or that I was not planning on doing her laundry for her the week after getting out of the hospital from having a C-section.

So, it is just easier if I keep my blog and book and tattoos and my grandma’s gold cross that I wear around my neck (not because I am religious, but because it was hers) a secret from her.

It has seemed easier until recently. Now it weighs me down a little more everyday. And she wonders why I get mad when I am in her presence. Because I am so tired of the act. I want to just reveal it all to her. But then I have to hear her opinion of it, and I don’t want to.

Because the only opinion that should matter, in the end, is mine.

Always be yourself. Nothing good ever comes from denying it.


My first book, The Wind Could Blow a Bug is NOW AVAILABLE!

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What I Learned This Week – 5/17/15

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This week I got to attend a book signing by YA author Sarah Dessen at Schuler Books & Music in Okemos, Michigan. It was a little drive from my home. But I made a new mix CD of music for the road, and I got to drive 70mph most of the way with the windows down.

I have read Dessen’s books for years. They are all predictably enjoyable. There are no vampires or wizards or anything–just real kids with real problems who find a way to get through them, and the girl and the boy get to kiss at the end.

Her most recent book, Saint Anything, just came out two weeks ago. I liked the male lead character Mac more than I did Sydney, the girl. I really connected with the Saint Anything of the title, that sometimes you need something outside yourself to help you be strong. For more of my thoughts, check out my review on Goodreads. [Yes, I have a Goodreads account. Go like me or follow me or whatever it is happens over there!]

Saint Anything by Sarah Dessen (2015)

Saint Anything by Sarah Dessen (2015)

There was a crowd of around 150 people there to see her. She came out and gave a short talk, before reading the first chapter of Saint Anything to us.

I loved her talk. She described how she hated high school, and yet here she is still writing about it, still trying to get her happy ending. [I totally understand this logic. I am the same way.] She has published 12 books, yet has 13 manuscripts that never made the cut stored in her attic. Although she isn’t a teenager herself, her real life spills over into her novels, sometimes becoming the adventures of the mother or older sister. Someone asked her if it was better for an aspiring writer to type or hand write their story. Dessen said you need to do what works for you, while admitting that she prefers the computer. [I prefer to hand write a first draft. While I have a laptop, it just isn’t as portable as a notebook and a pen. Yes, one of those locations is the toilet :-P ]

I ended up being the first person through the signing line, which flustered me quite a bit. I did manage to tell her that he Dum Dum factory is located in Bryan, Ohio. [It will make sense when you read Saint Anything. Maybe.]

Now I have a new face to add to my “When Stars Align” page.

Jennifer Friess & Sarah Dessen

Jennifer Friess & Sarah Dessen

She was so nice. And this weekend I was able to hand my own Book 2 off to my beta reader! Ya!

My first book, The Wind Could Blow a Bug is NOW AVAILABLE!

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What I Learned This Week – 5/10/15

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Last weekend my family took a day trip up to Owosso to visit the Pere Marquette 1225 steam engine at the Steam Railroad Institute museum. It is the engine that the was used as a model for the movie The Polar Express, and the actual sounds of the train are used in the movie. The railroad actually runs a Christmas train every year. I am still deciding if we should try that out.

In lieu of having time to write an actual post, here are some pictures from our adventure! Enjoy.

Pere Marquette 1225. So big that I couldn't get a proper picture of it.

Pere Marquette 1225. So big that I couldn’t get a proper picture of it.

This is my son and I next to the drive wheels.

This is my son and I next to the drive wheels.

An actual turntable!

An actual turntable!

The firebox of Pere Marquette 1225

The firebox of Pere Marquette 1225



Flagg Coal 75

Flagg Coal 75

Inside of a caboose

Inside of a caboose



Another lantern

Another lantern

My first book, The Wind Could Blow a Bug is NOW AVAILABLE!

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My Latest Obsession: Sam Hunt

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People who read this page often may have figured out by now that I like to listen to a variety of music. I like pop, alternative, 80’s country, and white boy rappers (see my past posts on Kid Rock and Vanilla Ice).

But I usually am not that interested in current country music. Once Garth retired and I discovered Good Charlotte and Kid Rock, country pretty much fell off my radar entirely. I knew that I liked Joe Nichols, purely because many of his early songs I kept mistaking for George Strait. But I figured the King wouldn’t sing a song called “Tequila Makes Her Clothes Fall Off.” And since when did George become the King anyway? He was just another artist (albiet the awesomest one) when I was still listening.

Last fall I found an affection for Luke Bryan’s “Play It Again”. And I played it again and again. But I didn’t search out any of this other songs.

This spring, I was lucky enough to be invited to a Garth Brooks concert. It reawakened my love of the country I grew up on.

While removing wallpaper with pink roses on it (a very long process), I tuned to a country station. I realized they played the same songs and artists over and over again all day long. But that forced me to begin to recognize the voices of Blake Shelton and Florida Georgia Line. I became familiar with some of Tim McGraw and Brad Paisley’s previous releases.

Sam Hunt

Sam Hunt

But there was one song that didn’t fit with the others. Because it was better. And many of the lyrics were talked, rather than sang.  It got stuck in my head. I heard the artist’s name, then instantly forgot it again. I can still only remember it by thinking of how it rhymes with a swear word.

The song was “Take Your Time” by Sam Hunt.

I watched the video, which is powerful, but doesn’t specifically match the lyrics of the song. I learned that Sam is hot. And I can’t believe they let guys with weird Macklemore hair have hit songs on country radio nowadays. My, how times has changed while I wasn’t paying attention.

Doing a little wiki research on him, I learned he is a pretty accomplished songwriter. I found out that his influences include R&B, but he wanted to write about the themes of where he grew up in Georgia, which led him to country. While I believe “Take Your Time” works on country radio, I thought to myself that it could be played on adult-contemporary as well. And then I found an article where it appears that exact thing is happening in some markets.

I am still mining through his songs on YouTube, but one called “Speakers” is particularly edgy and sexy.

“You Can Leave The Night On” is another good song of his. “House Party” and “Raised On It” are kind of generic to me. I think he excels when he embraces his uniqueness. I realize being different is a big risk in any music genre…but it is also the one that can pay off the most.

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Re-Post: Picky Eater

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Reposting as this is such a part of who I am.

You can find the original post and comments here:

I was out to eat with some ex-coworkers recently at a nice restaurant someone had spontaneously suggested. I had no chance to research the menu online ahead of time, as I normally would. It turned out it was a seafood place. The typical conversation ensued as I looked at the menu.

CO-WORKER: You should try the seafood blah-blah. It is really good.
ME: I don’t eat seafood.
CO-WORKER: Aren’t you a vegetarian?
ME: No, I don’t eat vegetables either.
CO-WORKER: Then what do you eat?…You’re a picky eater.

I should have ended this exchange with “Pop Tarts”. But I didn’t. I admit, it is a little paraphrased. But I know how the conversation goes. I have had it a ton of times over the course of my life. And “You’re a picky eater” is always said as an accusation. I wonder if it is the same way people react when they find out someone is gay.


well done steak
pizza (just cheese or with green pepper or onion or ham)
cherry poptarts (strawberry* and brown sugar are
acceptable, but not preferred)
carrots (cooked)
mac & cheese
ice cream
cole slaw
lettuce (but it hurts my stomach)
hot dogs
well done hamburgers
white rice
white or wheat bread
pre-peeled oranges
pre-cut melon
select kinds of cheese (NOT KRAFT)
honey mustard
eggs (but not a big fan)
celery (cooked)
BBQ sauce

cottage cheese
American cheese (unless it is from McDonald’s)
mayonaise (unless in Deviled Eggs)
potato salad
macaroni salad
all fruit and vegetables not listed in the “I EAT” column
brown rice
beans (except jelly beans)
red onion
foreign food of any kind, except tacos and quesidillas

* delicious strawberry flavored death!

Now, I realize my “I EAT” column looks like it belongs to a toddler. But in truth, my toddler eats a more well-balanced diet than I do. But I have stayed alive all these years on this fine American processed food. And I grew another being while eating this food.

You have to realize, being a picky eater isn’t a choice. I was born this way. It is a curse. It is a burden I must bear. Some of the foods I don’t eat I have tried and hate, like pineapple and coconut. Some smell so bad, I would never want to put them in my mouth, like seafood and coffee. Some I have never even tried and have no desire to, such as tea.

Actual conversation outside Teavana at the Franklin Park Mall:
SALESMAN: Would you like to try a sample of blah-blah tea today?
ME: I don’t drink tea.
SALESMAN: Oh, then you should try blah-blah. It has a very un-tea-like taste.
ME (thinking): Um, if I don’t drink tea, then obviously I don’t know what it tastes like then, do I?

Think of all the social situations that food plays a part in. I always had packed lunch at school because I wouldn’t eat the school lunch. The entire four years I commuted to college, I never ate in the dining hall. (I used to get nachos from the snack bar occasionally, that was it.) At work, I rarely bought anything from the cafeteria. Potlucks are their own minefield. It is amazing how many dishes have hidden sausage or mayo or cream of mushroom soup.

Chicken nuggets, anyone? Yummers!

Recently, at a family event, I had the following exchange with an Aunt who is the most prim and proper person. She would believe she has excellent manners.

AUNT: (looking at my plate) Is that ALL you are going to eat?
ME: Yes.
AUNT: Are you a picky eater?
ME: Yes.
AUNT: You don’t want any this or that?
ME: I’m good. I found some things. Thanks.

Isn’t it bad manners to make a guest feel bad about what is on their plate?

Why no green pepper?  I can't ask.  Heart racing, breath quickening. Photo:

Why no green pepper? I can’t ask. Heart racing, breath quickening.

Cici’s Pizza is a nightmare for a picky eater with anxiety issues. Cici’s is a pizza buffet. They put out like 20 kinds of pizza at a time. But, of course, nothing for a picky eater. You can ask for any kind of pizza and they will make it for you and add it to the buffet. Except you have to be able to get past your anxiety and open your mouth and ask for it and not fear the rejection you expect to come.

As a life-long picky eater, I worry the rest of the world wants to reform me. (I know, I worry too much.) That they want me to broaden my horizons. I feel like the world thinks if I am forced to eat something, I will like it and eat it forever and ever. It is another way I feel that I am different. That I am wired wrong. But I should stop thinking that way. Because everyone else has their issues.

Some people overeat. Some people undereat. Some people smoke. Or drink. Or do street drugs. Or prescription drugs. Or run marathons. I don’t judge those people. (Well, I do judge the ones who run marathons. I judge them to be crazy.) Being a picky eater is my thing. Hey, I know. Let’s start calling it “selective eating”. That sounds more politically correct.

Yes, I am not wired THAT much different than everyone else. I am just a selective eater. And addicted to caffeine. And I mis-match my socks. And I have issues with tissues.

If I was a character on a sitcom, I could write great jokes about myself. *sigh*

My first book, The Wind Could Blow a Bug is NOW AVAILABLE!

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My Latest Obsession: OUTLANDER

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Diana Gabaldon book or Starz television series?


It is all the fault of the Starz advertising department.

Outlander advertisement featuring Claire and Jamie

Outlander advertisement featuring Claire and Jamie

They plaster my Entertainment Weekly magazine with advertisements for the television series. Last fall, they only let me watch the first episode on their website–that was all.

Wet my appetite, but don’t let me actually binge myself. Aye, tis shameful, it tis.

Don’t they realize I like romance. And time travel. (See my affinity for The Terminator here.) Although not particularly the time periods of 1945 or 1743. Well, 1945 is alright if Kyle Chandler is involved. (See my affinity for ABC’s Homefront here.)

Like an idiot, I liked the Outlander Facebook page. Now I willingly torture myself with advertisements for a show that I do not have the channel to actually watch it on.

I swore I would buy the DVD of Season 1: Volume 1 when it came out. Then I got cheap.

I had had it. I had to consume more of the story of Claire and Jamie.

I asked my asbestos friend who has a large book collection and reads everything if she had a copy of the Outlander book. She did not. At this point, I remembered that my son had forced me to get a library card at Thomas DVD-point a few days prior.

Maybe it would come in handy for me as well!

I asked the librarian if they had the book. I knew they would have it in their collection. I didn’t count on it being checked out. They asked me if I wanted to put a hold on it. Turns out, they had the DVD too! Which is what I really, really actually wanted. Hold them both!

Why the F is Jamie wearing pants?

Why the F is Jamie wearing pants?  He NEVER wears pants.

A secret that isn’t a secret: I prefer television to books. Are you going to come to my house and take away my writers card now? Fine, but purchase one of my books on your way out. If I had been born 20 years later, I would be making my own home TV shows and editing it on a Mac right about now. But, alas, I was not.

A day or two later, I was at the library for their Used Book Sale. I tried to manifest a copy of Outlander. Although I was early to the sale, no such luck.

The next day, I couldn’t stand it anymore, so I bought the Outlander book from Target. (Why couldn’t I wait for the library copy? Hello! An active obsession MUST be fed.) Dang thing is huge! I have never read a book that long. I am used to YA books that are around 300 pages that I can read in one night.

Yes, I typically read a single book in a 24hr period. Even if a book isn’t wonderful, I still must press on and find out how it ends. I think I only got 2 hours of sleep when Breaking Dawn came out before finishing it. (Especially when I hit the vampire baby part. Damn.)

I started the book, but couldn’t stop reading it. Historical romance isn’t really my thing, I will be honest. Descriptions of how to make medicines from herbs and put your corset on where keeping me from the parts with Claire and Jamie together that really made the book buzz. So I kept skipping ahead to the parts where together and “together”.

After spending all day Monday reading and not getting a lick of anything done in my house, I had to take drastic measures. On Tuesday, I put the book in the freezer. Not because it was scary, just so that I would quit reading it and get some damn work done!

Friends Trivia: Joey puts scary books in the freezer.

Friends Trivia: Joey puts scary books in the freezer.

But, well, then the library emailed me and said that the DVD WAS IN!

I stayed up until 2:45AM that night watching the first six episodes. Finished the next two episodes (including WEDDING) on Wednesday. And it was GOOD. I especially love that when they were getting married, she realized she didn’t even know his real name. It was a little slow for the first few episodes. I will admit, adding robots with red eyes to the story to liven it up did occur to me. But in the end, they proved unnecessary. And the dialogue was easier to follow than Pride and Prejudice was. Most likely this was because while the Outlander series takes place a long time ago, it was written by a chick in Arizona in the 20th & 21st centuries.

Wedding night jitters?

Wedding night jitters?

Now, to see if I can rewatch all the episodes one more time before the DVD is due back. And I hope I finish reading the book before my obsession subsides. (Unfortunately, I never made it through the eBook of Pride & Prejudice before that happened. But that could just be an eBook thing.) I wonder when I will stop talking like a wee Scotsman, aye?

It is going to be a long time before I get to watch Season 1: Volume 2. *Sigh* Do people start crowdfunding campaigns for such things???

My first book, The Wind Could Blow a Bug is NOW AVAILABLE!

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Real-World Chemistry

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Just the sight of this textbook scares the crap out of me...

Just the sight of this textbook scares the crap out of me…

To me, when I was in school, we spent a whole lot of time on really boring stuff that had absolutely no application to the real world in which we would some day need to survive in on our own. It might also be why so many people ended up just living in their parent’s basements, working part time jobs to try to pay back student loan debt.

Case in point: The metric system.

We don’t have a meter stick at home, we have a yard stick. My husband goes to the lumber yard for a piece of 6 foot drywall or a 2″x 4″, not 6 meters of drywall. Yet in school, they spent all this time [trying to] teach us the metric system and didn’t teach us the U.S. measurement system that is actually in use in regular lives daily. I still don’t know how many feet or yards are in a mile. I was never taught that in school. Good thing I have it on a ruler from a McDonald’s Happy Meal.

Next point: Balancing a checkbook.

In high school, I took math classes up through Trigonometry. Pretty advanced math. I got mostly A’s and B’s. I didn’t understand any of it. When I went to college, I had to take a test to see if if I would test out of all the math classes. Nope. I ended up taking Algebra a second time. I still don’t understand it.

You know what I also have trouble with? Balancing my checkbook. It has to rank up there are one of THE most important tasks you have to do regularly as an adult. When did they teach that to us in school? Formally, never. Informally, during a Junior Achievement exercise in 7th grade. And my mom taught me.

I never took Chemistry in high school. It was taught by a man who had already failed to teach me Algebra and Drivers Ed, and he made my skin crawl. So why would I waste more time in a class with him with subject matter I was not remotely interested in?

When I got to college, I evaded Chemistry class as well. I took lots of Psychology and English classes instead.

But lately, I can’t get this idea out of my head. It keeps popping up in my day-to-day life.

What if they taught a high school class on Chemistry that kids could relate to? That would interest them? Chemistry is all around us in our daily lives. What if we could understand our normal lives better, and not learn about super-colliders, or whatever?

I had this brainstorm while coloring my hair. How many high school girls (and guys nowadays, I suppose) color their hair? Total chemistry. You have to take the one magic bottle and place it into the other magic bottle. What is in those bottles, exactly? Why do they react to change your hair color? Make your scalp burn? Why will it possibly explode if you recap it after mixing? I would love to know these answers!

The other day my husband and I were at a craft show. We had a long conversation with a lady who had a booth full of homemade soap. My husband expressed that it smelled great, but he was afraid that it would dry out his skin.

She went into a long explanation about how the longer the soap sits after it is made, the pH has more time to change. This causes the soap to be less drying. She sounded super-knowledgeable. I had never heard that stuff before. She could have been making it all up just to make a sale.

But, if there was a Real-World Chemistry class, that would be a GREAT experiment! And all the students could have yummy smelling soap that they made to take home.

My husband loves to make homemade silly putty with a mixture of glue and cornstarch. I don’t understand it myself, but he always has lots of fun. EXPERIMENT for Real-World Chemistry!


Yummm. Cinnamon rolls.

The other day I made cinnamon rolls, the kind my mom used to spend 5 hours making me for my birthday when I was a child (I always loved them more than cake.) The kind that you have to put yeast in, let them rise, beat them down, then let them rise some more. It was frustrating to find just the right amount of heat in my kitchen to make it rise. Then I noticed the recipe at one point said the dough should be “elastic and smooth”. Low and behold, over the past several hours and kneading, it had changed to just that. But how?

I find this topic very frustrating. Kids should at least know the basics of the world around them. Isn’t there always a big drive to get girls more interested in science?


And boys would take the class, thinking it would be an easy A, then accidentally learn something.

I don’t want other kids to avoid the subject altogether as I did. Now I can’t answer clues on Jeopardy. And I don’t understand joke T-shirts and throw pillows with periodic elements on them :-(

Periodic Table T-shirt

Periodic Table T-shirt. Is it funny? I can’t tell!

Periodic table throw pillow

Periodic table throw pillow. Is it a statement about science or texting? Or both!

My first book, The Wind Could Blow a Bug is NOW AVAILABLE!

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What I Learned This Week – 4/5/15

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I have been saving up, so here a few things I learned over the last few weeks.

I learned that my first book signing made me feel like a rock star. I got to see friends and family from far and wide that I almost never get to see. A former coworker even bought me a flower.

I can’t remember the last time I had flowers!

My cousins brought me my dad’s army jacket.

I didn’t even know that it still existed!

Did I sell some books? YES!

Did I sell enough to become independently wealthy? Eh, no. But there is always the next appearance. Keep checking my Events page for details.

I have also learned that my boy is a genius.

I know, every parent thinks that about their own kid.

And I admit, my child might actually be an evil genius.

After missing 3 out of 4 days of preschool one week for a fever, my son became accustomed to watching the Disney Pixar movie Cars twice a day.

My son went to school the next Monday & Tuesday, although he tried to talk his way out of it. By Wednesday, he was like “I’m sick. My ear hurts. I have to stay home. Call my teachers and tell them I won’t be in. We can watch Lightning McQueen, then maybe we can go visit Grandma.”

I told him he could a) go to school, or b) stay home and go to the doctor. He chose option b.

The pediatrician was like “It is a little red in there. Hard to see around all the wax. Here is a prescription for antibiotics.”

Oy. That doesn’t exactly prove that my son was playing me, but pretty much, ya.

Last week, it was “I can’t go to school. I’m sick. My hand hurts.” The next day it was “I’m sick. Both my hands hurt.” I asked why he didn’t want to go to school, and he said “It’s boring.”

Oh no. That is exactly what I used to say all the time. I have raised a mini-me.

Hope you had a hoppy Easter.

Hope you had a hoppy Easter.

After seeing the Easter Bunny talking to kids at the mall, my son asked me a ton of questions, including, “What does the Easter Bunny do at night?” I replied that he goes to sleep. I was corrected.

“No. He takes off his costume and goes to bed.”


My first book, The Wind Could Blow a Bug is NOW AVAILABLE!

PURCHASE as a Paperback or eBook on TODAY.


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