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Archive for December, 2015

What Mary Didn’t Know

Source: What Mary Didn’t Know

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So last week I blogged about family, and focused on my siblings. This week, it’s all about my kids (even typing that, “my kids,” brings a smile to me face) They are everything to me. There was never a time that I didn’t want to be a mommie. And I wouldn’t trade the three knuckleheads I got for anything in the world.

 

Traditions seem to play a significant role in what defines a family unit. And while I didn’t have all my ducks in a row (I was young and quite unsure of myself when I became a mother, not quite twenty) we’ve held on through some obstacles, ok, we’ve been through hell as a family. But there’s nothing I wouldn’t do for my kids. “… nothing is more important to me than family. At any time of year but especially on family celebrations (birthdays and anniversaries) and holidays. But most especially at Christmas time.”

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These are mon bebes, Christmas Day, 2001, one of my all-time favorite pics of them.

 

I mentioned last week, my preference for a live Christmas tree. I also mentioned I no longer traipse through snow-laden mountains looking for the perfect one. But I did take my kids every year in search of just the right tree—at local tree lots. Bought my wreath in the process, too. Then we’d head home and decorate it together. I’d like to say we had hot cocoa and ginger cookies, but honestly, I don’t remember if we did. But we had our live tree.

 

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I made stockings one year, rather huge as stockings go, and always struggled to fill them. The toe ended up with an orange down there (they were that big) and M&M’s and Hershey Kisses. Silly knick-knacks that I knew each of them would love. I mean, that Santa knew they would love. They always got books under the tree, and coloring books.

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I did silly things, too, like wrap a pair of shoes (because somebody wanted the fancy-shmancy sneakers) separately, or put a brick in a puzzle box or wrap a gift inside a gift inside a gift You know, for kicks and giggles.

 

Then came the cinnamon rolls. I’ve my own secret recipe, and at some point (I’m not even sure when) it became our standard traditional Christmas breakfast.

 

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Our traditions extend beyond Christmas, too. Birthdays were always a BIG deal for my kids. One year, Teddy Ruxpin was the big ticket item. Middle child was seven that year and it’s what he wanted. In our season of birthdays, his falls first. Girl child’s birthday came next, and she got the similar toy, Mother Goose. (For the uninformed, these were basically cassette players in the shape of the animal.) There was a Mickey Mouse one that I led my almost-nine-year-old to believe he was getting. (Did I mention I can be devious…) His cake and invitations were all Mickey themed. But at gift time, I sent him and his birthday guests on a scavenger hunt—which led him to a non-character cassette player. I snapped the pic just as his face registered what his gift was!

 

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P.S. I wend over-the-top with all their birthdays until they were teenagers.

 

Maybe the greatest heritage I passed to my kids was my (warped) sense of humor. My deviousness. All in good fun, you understand. To wit, the bricks in Christmas packages, and scavenger hunts for surprise—unexpected—gifts. Well, and honesty, integrity, you know the stuff you’re supposed to teach them.

 

Perhaps my greatest memory of deviousness was when I was the deviousness-ee rather than the deviousness-ator. It was Mother’s Day, 2008. Son #1 was a restaurant manager, and Mother’s Day is the busiest day of the year for restaurant; I was used to having our family celebration on a day other than the day. We celebrated together and that’s what counts. I bought myself some nice trout and had a nice dinner by myself. The day after, however… My daughter and granddaughter were living with me at the time, and I had been at a function that Monday. I got home a little later than expected and my daughter shooed me to my room to get changed, we were going to WalMart she said. As we were leaving she asked me, oh-so-casually—a little too casually—if I had a bandana. I fetched one from my room and she promptly blindfolded me with it. I think we were not going to WalMart. I’ve no idea the route she took, we could have gone to Tennessee and back for all the circles she drove in. Our final destination was oldest son’s house. He had Mother’s Day dinner prepared—shrimp Alfredo, even had scallops in garlic butter. They SOOOOOO “got” me and got me good!!! (and yes, I ate ALL the scallops myself!) Food aside, this is one of my all-time favorite memories.

 

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I could go on and on but this is a blog not a memoir or tribute. Well, it is a tribute. To the greatest kids I could have asked for. They are my life and my world, always have been. The nuggets over the years, the snippet-memories of moments that tell me no matter what, we’re solid, we’re family. We’re together.

 

My kids are honest and hard-working, maintain integrity (see, I did teach them the right stuff, too) in all they do, against the odds even. They have grown into three of the coolest adults I could have imagined, bone-headed stubbornness and all. (they get that from both sides, sorry guys) The camaraderie my sons share is priceless, the friendship between all three of my kids is truly special.

 

It’s not always been easy, as a single parent, as a person who felt worthless raising three kids, trying to give them something I didn’t have—namely self-worth and self-love. (no pity, it was what it was, and I’m not that person anymore—I know who I am now and I rather like me.) As a family, we’ve overcome the worst of what life has thrown at us. Strife and division aside, we’ve still got each other, we’re still here for one another, and we always will be.

 

So family. There’s something about family being together. Whether traipsing through the woods or slugging on the couch watching a favorite movie marathon (Star Wars, anyone? Top Gun, maybe?) Whether making cookies together or attempting gingerbread houses—it’s about time spent together. Nothing compares to time spent with loved ones.

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My three knuckleheads.

 

 

 

 

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#Christmastraditions, #familyiseverything, #traditions, #myknuckleheads, #deviousness, #cinnamonrolls

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BOOK REVIEW – WHEN FALL FADES by AMY LEIGH SIMPSON

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Crushed dreams leave scars. Just ask Sadie Carson. When one dream was lost, she cast another one aside along with it. And settled for a life that, while satisfying, was not complete, was not true. Was not really her.

FBI Agent Archer Hayes has his life tightly under wraps, aka control. And for him, it’s all about the job.

When Sadie’s next door neighbor is found murdered, the connection between her and Agent Hayes is unexpected and unwelcome. And undeniable.

Can Archer Hayes let down the neatly constructed walls that have provided a haven of safety—and isolation—for so many years? Will Sadie let go of one broken dream—and her broken heart and embrace a new dream? Or are the obstacles too much for them to overcome?

 

Ms. Simpson writes with fiery realism, characters I could easily sit down and chat with. The fears and desires and longings are tangible in Ms. Simpson’s words, vivid, drawing me into the middle of the action. Into the angst. And the internal struggles both characters face. As they unravel the mystery behind her neighbor’s death, will they also unravel the cage that has kept both their hearts prisoner?

 

Bravo for a finely crafted debut novel! I await many more by this talented new author!

 

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Amy Leigh Simpson writes romantic mysteries with honesty and humor, sweetness and spice, and gritty reality covered by grace. When she’s not stealing moments at naptime to squeeze out a few more adventures in storyland, she’s chasing around two tow-headed miscreants (Ahem)–boys, playing dress up with one sweet princess baby, and being the very blessed wife to the coolest, most swoon-worthy man alive. Amy is a Midwestern-girl, a singer, blogger, runner, coffee-addict, and foodie. Her Sports Medicine degree is wasted patching up daily boo boo’s, but whatever is left usually finds its way onto the page with fluttering hearts, blood and guts, and scars that lead to happily ever after.

Amy would be delighted to connect with you on Facebook, at her blogging home http://www.thewritersalleyblog.com, or at her homepage on wildbluepress.com

 

 

#whenfallfades, #amyleighsimpson, #newauthor, #debutnovel, #romanticmystery

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Source: What does Christmas mean to me?

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BOOK REVIEW – THE CHRISTMAS BELLS OF CAVAZZALE by MARIAN P. MERRITT   

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What happens when a woman who plans every detail—and who has lost her job and lost her fiancé, and has inherited a cottage in Italy—repeatedly crosses paths with a bohemian workaholic on family-forced vacation?

 

At loose ends, Charly travels to her grandmother’s cottage to sort out her future. And against his better judgment, André travels to the same village to spend the holidays with his family. Charly’s cool demeanor sends her intended signal to André—NOT INTERESTED.

 

But she continues to bump into him. And try as she might, her heart won’t be stilled. When a mysterious woman appears at her cottage gate, and as Charly reads her nonna’s diary, her tight hold on her plans begins to loosen, and her heart begins to hear God’s plan for her life.

 

But André? Does God’s plan for Charly’s life really include a handsome Cajun? Can she really trust her heart again? And can she really hope that love, true love, has finally found her?

 

 

A lighter read than other stories I’ve read by Ms. Merritt. Charly and André are every bit real and complex characters, their struggles genuine. I felt Charly’s indifference to romance, her need to escape the harsh reality that life had just handed her. I sensed André’s drive to stay with his job, his gallery, to oversee every detail. (I have written a similar character.) And I felt as the attraction stirred the first time Charly and André met. And I sensed her hesitancy and his disappointment. As always with stories by Ms. Merritt, very well done. A thoroughly well-written story, genuine, authentic. Already a favorite author of mine, I am pleased to say this story did not disappoint.

 

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Marian P. Merritt grew up in South Louisiana in a small community south of New Orleans. Her love for the written word began while sitting on her grandparent’s front porch swing reading books.

The stories allowed her to meet interesting people, took her to far away places and made her think beyond her own world. Her desire to write Southern Women’s fiction keeps her grounded in her roots and the hope that one day she can do for someone what many of the authors of her childhood did for her.

Marian has a Bachelor of Science degree in physical therapy and an accounting certificate from the University of South Alabama. She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and Women’s Fiction Writers Association. She hones her writing skills by attending writer’s conferences and reading many books on the craft of writing.

Marian writes Inspirational Women’s Fiction and Romance from her home in Texas which she shares with her husband and a Labradoodle, named Chili.

 

#theChristmasbellsofcavazzale, #marianpmerritt

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