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What I’ve Read – Special Holiday Weekend Edition, Part 1

So we went to Tulsa yesterday for a quick trip to see my dad, stepmom, stepsister and her family.   I had found Megan DiMaria’s website thanks to a link on someone else’s blog [how bad is it I’ve forgotten who!?  AH!] – that was Thursday.  I reserved her two books through the library but they weren’t in on Friday, but both happened to be at the library that’s not too far out of Matt’s way home so he picked them up for me – what a sweetie!

I read Searching for Spice in the car on the way and on the way back.  I wrote some notes out today after I’d read Out of Her Hands and I think that review may be a bit more comprehensive since I wrote the notes literally minutes after I finished that one, but I think this is pretty good :).

I am a bit hesitant as I post this.  I did enjoy Searching for Spice and I think part of my lack of… overwhelming enthusiasm? is my own deal and not the book’s which doesn’t help.  I expected Chick Lit and either my definition of Chick Lit is off or I had the wrong impression.  My understanding of Chick Lit is mostly funny [like a sit-com; they can have serious moments, but they’re more likely to make you laugh out loud].  Searching certainly had its amusing moments, but it wasn’t what I would term Chick Lit based on my understanding.  I don’t know where I got the impression of the genre – maybe from the library’s website? – but most likely I had the wrong impression.

So that colored my perception of the book as I read it.  I also hesitate slightly because I know that the author, Megan DiMaria, has recently had a family tragedy and while I have mostly good things to say, I hate to say anything negative knowing what she’s going through.

I’m still working on exactly what format these reviews will take so bear with me :).

All that said… Here’s my review of Searching for Spice.

Summary: Linda’s marriage is feeling a bit stale and she’s looking for spice – with her husband!  She comes up with a number of plans.  She plots everything out as best she can, but then life happens.  Linda and Jerry have two kids – 15 year old Emma and Nick who is several years older.  Add in a dog who seems slightly neurotic, best friends and a job at a top notch photography studio and you’ve got real life.

Things I liked:

  • Linda.  Her plan for spicing up her life by seeking a more ‘bodice ripper’ type lifestyle without seeking it outside her marriage.  I love that!!!  I wish more Christians were like that!  Men and women!  Imagine if we all had affairs – with our SPOUSES!  How cool would that be?
  • Life happens.  There’s medical scares, teenagers doing things teenagers do – but with potentially dire consequences, and romance with the love of her life.  Though my children are much younger, I can relate to what they’re going through.
  • Real characters… mostly.  Jerry’s reactions with the medical issue.  He’s a scientist and seeks out information.  That’s what a scientist does.  Even if it’s not what Linda needs, it’s what he knows best.  In his own way, he’s there for her as best he can be.
  • Real problems.  Anyone who’s worked in customer service knows how challenging it can be.  Some of Linda’s customers are real pieces of work.  But when push comes to shove, her strongest ally comes from a very unexpected place.  Real health issues.  Wrong assumptions – we’ve all made them.


  • Jerry seems almost too perfect in his Christian walk.  Sure his attempts at romance sometimes fall short, but he’s trying.  I can relate to that.  But he’s always right on matters of importance.  Always.  That bugs me.  It’s quite possible he struggles ‘off screen’ but we don’t see it.
  • Deb.  I love Deb.  I do.  I think she has her head in the sand.  A real problem surfaces after which it seems that Deb pretends the call to Linda never happened.  It’s very possible it will all come to a head in a later book and in fact after reading book 2, there’s a very real opening for that to happen not too long after book 2 ends.
  • The problem with one of the teens…  The resolution to the problem happens as the book ends.  I would like to see what else, if anything, Jerry and Linda do as far as punishment, etc. with the kiddo involved but that would have been outside the time frame for this book.  I don’t remember it being addressed at all in the second book.
  • I felt like the history teacher thing was left hanging a bit.  Again, it could have been addressed in Out of Her Hands, but it wasn’t – or I missed it; I’ll check again.  Maybe those two should be part of the nitpicks for OoHH, but they’re going here ;).


Overall, I enjoyed it.  I’ll read it again.  It’s going on my Amazon wish list.  I know another book is in the works by Megan DiMaria and I hope it’s the third in this series, though I’ll be one of the first in line for whatever work she has in progress.  The nitpicks are fairly minor overall and things I can live with.  4 out of 5 stars.

My prayers continue to be with the DiMaria family as they deal with their personal tragedy.

Look for Part 2: Out of Her Hands tomorrow.

Overwhelming Gratitude

I was on Candace Calvert’s Facebook page and she was having a drawing for sharing your ‘summer blessing’.  I thought for a minute.  Christopher is my summer blessing – he’s a July baby  – but that was three years ago.

And then the gratitude hit me.  It was just 3 weeks or so ago that I could have very easily lost him.  I hadn’t planned on changing his diaper before he went to bed.  He was dry when I changed him but he was complaining his tushie hurt.  It was while I was changing him that he was flat on his back and stopped breathing.  He didn’t respond.  I called 911.  By the time they answered, he’d roused.

But if he hadn’t complained about his tush, I would have put him in bed.  He would have been in his room, by himself [most likely, we’d talked about putting his mattress in our room but hadn’t decided for sure yet] and then stopped breathing.  What would have happened to my little man if he hadn’t had ‘strep butt’ [same bacteria as strep throat, different location ;)] and complained that it hurt?  Would he even be here today?

I spent a number of minutes overwhelmed at the mere thought of what could have happened to my sweet boy.  Small things that, literally, changed the course of my life – for the better this time.  I wonder sometimes what God has in store for him that he comes under such great attack – at least that’s how it seems.  Matt [and his mom?] shouldn’t have survived his childbirth in the mid-70s.  Without Matt, no Christopher.  Christopher wouldn’t have survived his first year as little as 60 or so years ago [the Nissen Fundoplication was first done in the mid-50s].  He struggled so much that first year even with the surgery, I can’t imagine what would have happened without it.

So in honor of my big boy – here’s a pic of him enjoying life!

[Okay – so it was Easter and he was mad he was getting his picture taken but still…  Think I’ll hug him extra tight in the morning before we head out on a day trip.  Have two books by Megan DiMaria for the road :).]

Which Do You Prefer First – the Good News or the Bad?


I know I missed the first weekly ‘What I Read Wednesday’.  The day was insane.  Insane amounts of rain – part of our county got a foot; not sure how much we got but felt like that much.  Dentist appointments.  Checking out a place for a birthday party.  Dinner at Chick-fil-A [thank God for coupons! And for good friends who happen to own it who give them to you for your birthday ;)].  I was wiped out by the time we got home and honestly flat out forgot.

So, which do you prefer.  The good news or the bad?  Because you so have a choice in what I post first ;).

The good news: The dentist appointments went well.  Emily had the whole office giggling by the time she left.  Christopher has his first appointment in about 6 months – hopefully he’ll get over the whole ‘I won’t let anyone look in my mouth’ thing by then.

The other good news: FINALLY got the query letter perfected!  Or as perfected as it’s going to get anyway – unless I have some other flash of brilliance, but I don’t anticipate it.  Erin said it’s her favorite so far and absolutely loves it – she’d want more!

The bad news: Christopher apparently spilled water on the [closed and put away] laptop last night.  Matt’s laptop.  The hard drive is now dead as is probably the motherboard.  Or that’s the general consensus of our techie neighbor and another techie friend.  That means new laptop in the future at a time when funds are as tight as they’ve ever been since we started Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University five and a half years ago.  We have no credit cards to fall back on and a summer of me not working has taken a serious toll on our savings accounts.  Add in a trip to Tulsa to see fam tomorrow and not sure where the money to get the new laptop is going to come from…  And the sales are THIS weekend…  We do have the one that got milk spilled on it last November [during Nanowrimo no less!] and it works but the keyboard is finicky at best and it’s mainly used as a conduit for watching iTunes programs and streaming other video to one of the TVs.  If worse comes to worst, he could use it until school paychecks start rolling in but it’s frustrating to say the least…

So, off to finish query letters up and hope someone decided to buy the book so that we have more expendable cash ;).  Okay – not the only reason, but a good one!

Two new authors/blogs I’ve found this week: Megan DiMaria and Candace Calvert – books by both are on their way to my local library for me to pick up :).

Discouragement… or Fear?

I know I haven’t posted since we got home from the hospital.  Part of it is that we’ve been busy.  Christopher took up a lot of time – just being a cuddle bug, etc.  School started for the girls.  School started for Matt.  School started for me.  Doc appointments.  Everything else.

I got a phone call a week and a half ago asking me to teach another class on a different campus [the college I teach for has several throughout the area].  I took it – a bit grudgingly because the campus is FAR [though not as far as the others]. Turns out, it actually takes me LESS time to get to that campus than it does the main campus because it’s highway the whole way instead of through town.  It’s farther but the time difference is negligible at worst [though that may change with inclement weather – we’ll see].  That’s good.  I know the guy who does the scheduling on that campus and have for years.  He’s already promised to get me on the schedule for spring.  I LOVE it there and would gladly teach four classes out there and none on the main campus if I could :) .

So… discouragement.  I’m feeling discouraged even though I know I shouldn’t at this point.  I have two friends and one other person I’m connected to with books either out, coming out, or in negotiations.  Karen posted yesterday that the book she ghost-wrote and submitted six weeks ago to their FIRST CHOICE publisher is on to contract negotiations.  That is insanely fast.  Kristen posted this week that she started her blog less than a year ago and her Ultimate Guide to the Daniel Fast is coming out in December.  Also insanely fast.  And in color!  Angela, my fabu webmistress lady, is the daughter of Joyce Ann Rose who has her first book signing today [I think it’s today – it may  have been yesterday].  Erin posted a week or so ago that she’s working on her third book and wants to have it done by November so it can be out in May.  Her last book did very well for the market it’s in.  She didn’t even laugh at me [at least not in the email!] when I offered to help her beta or brainstorm or whatever :) .  Have I mentioned I love Erin?!  I am so happy for her and so proud of her!

All that to say… I am feeling a bit discouraged.  I know I shouldn’t be because I’ve sent out THREE queries, all to agents I was fairly certain would reject them and they did – in a timely manner.  I haven’t sent ANY to my top choice agents because once I do, if they reject me, I’m done.  As long as I don’t send them, they can’t reject me.  But if I don’t send them, they can’t accept me either…  I know this but I’m in one of those ‘what makes me think I can do this’ phases.  I hate it.  I know this is something I’m good at.  I’ve had two friends read Unbreak Her Heart this week and they both enjoyed it very much.  The one thing that one of them had an issue with is one thing I knew I might end up changing if an agent/publisher said I needed to – it’ll be a pitb to do but I can do it [first to third person – oy!].

So why am I discouraged? I’m not really sure.  I want this so badly and it’s scary to put yourself out there.  Maybe I’m not discouraged.  Maybe I’m paralyzed by fear. Fear of rejection.  Fear of not being good enough.  Fear of not just rejection but mean rejection [not just a chintzy form letter but ‘You stink! What makes you think you can write?!’ coming from an industry respected agent – not that I have any indication that any of them would do such a thing of course].  Even… fear of success?

Maybe, deep down, I believe the record player that’s been stuck in my head for years – the one that says I’m not good enough, I’m not smart enough and no, people really don’t like me.  [Anyone catch the reference? ;) ]  I’ve been working for years to change the refrain in my head, Matt’s been working for years to change it, but it’s still there and I still believe it.

Knowing what I’m fighting against is half the battle, though, right?  What is it about writing it all down that makes it seem so silly?  I’m so very happy for Karen and Kristen and Erin – and Ang’s mom even though I don’t know her.

So I’m going to wallow in some Andy’s for a bit later today, brush myself off and ‘feel the fear and do it anyway’.  My goal for the weekend is to get query packets together for the agents I want the most and then take them with me to my Bible study group on Monday night and hope I have the courage to ask the ladies there to pray with me over them.  That they would go to the right people on the right day while he or she is in the right mood to be receptive.

So new plan for the weekend:  Write Jeremiah 29:11 on my mirror in big letters.  Clean the kids’ rooms [sadly that part doesn’t change :p].  Go swimming with the neighbors.  Finish research the CBA agents.  Rework [again!] my first ‘hook’ sentence so I can get the packets together.  Email the equeries.  Print the rest and get them all in appropriately addressed envelopes.  That’s the plan anyway ;) .  I’ll let you know how it goes, especially since there’s a book I’m dying to read waiting for me at the library!  Look for a new feature – What I’ve Read Wednesday – starting this week!

Two Bits of Good News :)

We got two pieces of good news today!

Last year, Matt started a new job.  Because of it’s location, he qualified for the National Health Service Corp student loan repayment program.  Today, we received the funds to pay off his student loan!  We won’t actually make the payment until after he gets back from his trip next week – just in case something happens – but the amount of the student loan is safely in savings.  There was even a bit left over since the balance they used was from about December and we’ve paid off some since then.  This is so exciting!  It’s 21.7% of our remaining debt.  My student loan is 8.7% and the rest is the house.  On to the next debt!  After we rebuild the emergency fund that is.

The other bit of good news is that our now 3 year old son is having his tonsils and adenoids removed in a couple weeks!  This really is good news.  He is a very loud sleeper and a mouth breather [probably from the adenoids].  I’ve done a full 12 count in between breaths while he sleeps.  That’s not long enough to be sleep apnea but long enough to worry mom!

I’ve also got some plotting done for the seven book series Jan put me onto ;).  Yeah, yeah, yeah – a bit ahead of myself, but I’m working on it.  I still need to come up with titles.  Married by Monday is the first one.  The other two I’ve come up with so far are Wed on Wednesday [yeah, I know, it’s a bit obvious] and Family on Friday.  All three have basic plots and I have an idea for another one but not quite sure what to call it yet.  Having trouble coming up with alliterations for Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday.  I think, in this case, the titles could help drive the plot ideas rather than the other way around at the moment, anyway.  Any suggestions, anyone?

Ben Birdsong and Christopher, Part 2

First and foremost, my thoughts and prayers are with the Birdsong family.  Ben was a member of our church.  Last week, he went Home.  Today was the service.  I didn’t know Ben well, but he and Matt talked fairly often – about tennis and KWND and men’s group and a few other things.  His son had worked with us at Chick-fil-A but I haven’t seen Frankie in several years.  Ben was an important part of our church and our community.  He will be missed.

And now…  Christopher, Part 2:

Sunday, July 22, 2007 I told Penny that if the baby [he had no name even though we knew he was a boy] was born by Wednesday, I’d be home in time for his baby shower the next Saturday.  We’d planned it a full 4 weeks before he was due to make sure his clothes showed up before he did.

He had other ideas.

That Tuesday, Matt was in Jeff City for the day.  We prayed that I wouldn’t go into labor while he was hours away.  I didn’t tell him till he was nearly home that I’d been having contractions off and on all afternoon.  Never more than 2-3 per hour and stopped by dinner time, but they were definitely contractions.

I woke up at the usual time the next morning – about 6, maybe a bit earlier.  Took a shower.  I wasn’t timing them but three contractions while in the shower seemed like a bit much.  It was still a full 30 days early though, so it couldn’t be real right?  Besides, I had one final to review for and another to give that day.  Abbie, age 3, woke up on her own while I was eating breakfast.  We talked for a few minutes and then I sent her to get Dad.  Tell him to come now.

I still wasn’t really timing the contractions but they were definitely real and definitely getting a bit worse.  My bag had been packed for a few days so we got everything in the car [including 3 girls with their hair not combed] and headed to Felicia’s.  By the time we got there, the contractions were about three minutes apart.  By 8 we were at the hospital where I was promptly admitted and given – thank God – some Stadol to hold me over until the epidural was put in a bit later.  The epidural went in about 9:30.

My sister was reviewing for a final for me.  She’d gone to the class with my notes and stuff and was basically supposed to sit there while they went over their quizzes or whatever in a big group study session.  She called three or four times with questions from students.  I was like, um, I’m in labor.  Leave me alone.  Study your quizzes.

Dr. McCall had stopped by and reassured me that often babies born at 35.5 weeks are just fine, but also reminded me that it was possible he’d end up with a brief NICU stay.  She had surgery scheduled for 11:30 but was sure that he’d be born before then.  I was sure he would be, too.

Epidurals are nice.  I know there are people who have had issues with them, but for me it was heaven.  Except the right leg didn’t numb quite right so the doc gave me an extra dose.  That was nice too.  I reached 8cm and Dr. McCall broke my water.  She waited a few minutes to see if anything happened – she was sure that would just do it, but nothing did so she went back to her office to try to fit a couple of patients in [her office is maybe a 3-4 minute walk away].

Suddenly… everyone was gone except for Matt and his mom.  And then… something felt weird.  Really weird.  I paged the nurse and the next thing I know, a ton of people are in there and Dr. McCall is running back from her office.  She tells me that she hopes I’ll get to hold him for a minute but can’t promise because he is, after all, a preemie.  She sends them to get the vacuum because she doesn’t want him going through prolonged pushing and putting that kind of stress on him but by the time they got it to the room a few minutes later he was born.

We still didn’t name him.  We hadn’t decided.  It was mid-afternoon by the time we got upstairs to a private room.  He was taken to the nursery to do nursery stuff.  My sister had a doctor’s appointment so Penny gave my final.  He was little, but he was healthy.  He was actually bigger than Emily had been at birth.  Two full ounces bigger at 6lbs 6oz [and 2 oz smaller than I’d been at birth].  He seemed to understand how to nurse, but he wasn’t strong enough to nurse effectively.  We supplemented with gentle preemie formula and I pumped as much as I could.  I was an old hand at this – I’d nursed all three girls and we’d had just about every problem you could have [including a four day hospital stay for Abbie when she was just six days old and not nursing right].

He was spitting up a lot, but Maggie had, too.  She’d grown slowly but she’d grown steadily.  Surely this little guy would be the same way.  I sent out an email to all of our family and friends to let them know that he was here.  One of the first emails I got back was from our pastor.  Gary had a name recommendation – a nice strong Biblical name.  Multisyllabic and everything.


Um… Yeah.  Of course, to this day, Gary has a hard time remembering his real name.

Eventually, we decided on Christopher Joseph.  Not Chris.  Christopher.  We took him home on Friday.  His baby shower was Saturday and he was in attendance.  We were richly blessed – both by Penny as hostess [at our house] and by our friends and family with a table full of little boy clothes [including plenty of St. Louis Cardinals stuff].

Oh – and Penny did all this even after Christopher had messed up her marriage proposal!  In part, because of Christopher’s birth, a party for a friend of ours had been postponed.  Her boyfriend was going to propose at the party, but that was out.  He proposed anyway.  She said yes ;).

Little did we know the saga that was just beginning.

Happy Birthday, Christopher!

I have a three year old!  I am both happy and sad about this.  I’m working on a longer post [part 2 in the Christopher series] for later but for now…


He loves his train table!  Pics will be posted later :).

Here is one from last night.  After he went to sleep, the girls helped me set up his new train table.  They had each picked a few things of their own to give him – CARS books, puppy that he loves, etc.  Emily and I made him a Build-A-Bear puppy last weekend [we had a free coupon!].

Time to get us all ready for church!  Watch this space – more to come ;).

It’s a Love-Hate Relationship…

Usually I love computers, technology and everything associated with them.  Usually.  Most stuff.  Some stuff I don’t understand but I’m better than the average bear when it comes to techno stuff.

We have 3 Acer laptops.  Mine, Matt’s and my old one [that still worked great until it, um, got some, uh, milk spilled on it courtesy of a 2yo and a questionable sippy cup lid – this in the middle of Nano, no less…]  The power cords, particularly with my current one and Matt’s, seem to be interchangeable, which is nice – and the other one has all the same numbers and stuff one it but looks a bit different though it fits the plug in on the back of the computers.

My last one had this shutting off problem for a while and after my [computer guru] neighbor and I had exhausted the possibilities, I’d sent it off for repair.  They repaired it [and replaced the keyboard which had about 20 missing or partially missing letters].  It worked fine until the milk incident [though the letters on the new keyboard were rubbing off too – must have been a bad batch for that model or something…].

Now my new laptop [bought in November] is doing the shutting down thing [different version of Windows and everything] and I’m not pleased… :p  Then the power cord – I think it’s the one that came with the new laptop and not Matt’s that got mixed up – stopped working.  Completely.  So we have 3 working laptops [the milk one still mostly works but the keyboard sticks too much for me to use regularly  so it’s currently hooked up to the flat screen and playing a bunch of stuff through iTunes – like old eps of shows that have been downloaded, etc] and two power cords.

That’s annoying.  Are power cords covered under the warranty?  I need to talk to my neighbor and see if he can figure out why mine is shutting off [he’s an authorized agent or whatever].  I’m afraid I may need to send it off again and that’s going to be irritating.  Last time it took 3 weeks…

So I love technology and I’m glad the power cords are interchangeable so we’re not just without one [that’s happened before /glares at the old Dell/], but I hate it when it doesn’t work.  Anyone else have a story to share?

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