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I know this about myself

I keep other people’s gifts. All the time. See this little table runner? Yep, that was the thing I stayed up late to finish for my mother’s mother’s day gift. (No, that’s not a typo.) Why is it in this picture? On my table, should you know this is my table. Well, because I ‘tried’ it on. You know, to see what it’d look like. And what do you know? I liked it. It fit amazingly perfect. And what would my mother do with it anyway? It’s not like she has a naked table needing a runner, is it? And just look at those colors…how they accent the paint in my dining room. Yep, it’s now our new table runner. Needless to say, I had to whip up some lavender sachets and go to the store for a flower and hand lotions. The sachets almost landed in my drawers, but alas I can whip up more if needed for my own. 🙂

Okay, on to other things. My son, the almost-graduate, is in Disney World. He left yesterday. Our first time apart for this length of time. That makes me sound like the Goldberg’s mom, right? Although we do NOT snuggle together. But it was sad seeing him leave. Better get used to it, college waits for no one, come August.

On the adoption front….my agency failed me again. Without properly telling me which papers to place with an application for immigration, I was declined. Yep, what do they care. They aren’t in China waiting for their parents to come get them. They aren’t the crazed people who’ve chased papers for a year, had nervous breakdowns, and stalked the mail courier every day. I’m counting the days until I’m in the bathroom throwing up, riddled with anxiety to cross the ocean in a plane, and not understanding properly how to make change in yen. Or yang. What is the currency?

Back to mother’s day. It was great. I didn’t cook a thing. I did eat well, though. French toast in the morning, forget what the lunch was, and then orange chicken for dinner. Homemade. As in Yum-oooooo.

Today I have a confession. As I wish I was writing this post in anonymity, I’ll just say that I had a ‘friend’ who went to the dentist, or should I say back to the dentist, to get a filling or two. And ‘they’ weren’t feeling it. You know, like what the heck did I do to voluntarily come back here? As in, drove my…’her’ car there, parked, and awaited ‘the chair’, ‘the drill’, the stupid way your mouth feels all doped up while you spend the next hour drooling and biting your gum by accident. Yeah, well my friend, after waiting 15 minutes in the waiting room, decided that was long enough. If they didn’t get her in the first five, she wasn’t waiting anymore. So this friend of mine went to the desk, told small white lie, and left. Can you believe it? She felt sort of like she did when she used to ditch classes in high school. Amazing. I believe the song she said she blasted while spinning wheels out of there was something retro. Like in the ‘skipping school’ days of hers.  Yep, that picture pretty much summed up how my friend looked when she pulled out!

Now for ‘don’t you hate it when’…. don’t you hate it when you’re late for work, fly to the iron to flatten out your blouse, and you accidentally don’t take in account it has embroidery all across the front? You end up smelling like a pencil eraser all day so you eat tons of mints to blow into the air so you don’t offend the people around you. Yep, I hate that too.

Now no more white lies. It’s just a piggy toe in length to the ‘real’ lies we might find ourselves telling. 🙂 Have a great weekend, everyone!!

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Types of Torture

Eight? Yes, exactly eight. Hey, I’m not bragging. I don’t find joy in making that call. Asking for someone to puncture my gums, all the while I’m paying out of pocket for the horrid sensation…the staring at their mask for hours, the cold and agonizing sprits of water spraying all over my damaged gums, and the whacky suction straw. Yet, this is what I did today. For 1 1/2 hours, strapped underneath a paper bib while blood was smeared on it. I imagined them crying inside…my teeth and gums, while each stab came harder and harder, scaling as they termed it. And the whole time I’m thinking, and this is why I won’t come for another eight. 

Unfortunately I have to return. They found a cavity…or two. I’m suddenly on a plan for return visits. Luckily I came home and found my chocolate Easter bunny and that made my gums feel a whole lot better. 🙂

So big news on the adoption front, for those following or who care…China approved our dossier. It was like passing a final exam. I spent all summer on this humongous scavenger hunt for things they wanted, such as physicals of me, my husband, my children, even my dogs needed paperwork submitted! We had to even see a shrink and be listed as ‘not crazy’. We needed a fire exit strategy for the home, proof of locks on the cabinets, fingerprints done not once but twice, and a state and federal clearance. Having a child naturally doesn’t come close to this. After gathering all of this junk, I had to ran them to get state sealed in Richmond…then authenticated in Washington, D.C. because, you know that traveling notary that followed me around everywhere getting everything signed wasn’t enough. So anyway, China liked what they saw and said yes! Travel should be some time in June (fingers crossed). She turns 5 in July. I’m hoping to get her before her birthday. I did some painting on her room tonight. I know I’m going to forget something. So far I’ve thought about socks. I don’t have any of those. Oh, and shoes. Basically because I have no idea of her size. This is something I’ll pick up in China.

I feel like this week went by fast. Faster than today when I sat in the dentist chair. I have no concrete plans for the weekend. My son wants me to volunteer at school Saturday for a triathlon. Um…this involves getting up at 4:30 a.m. And I’m not even the one who is doing the running. I’m not feeling wonderful about this. Probably won’t happen. Whatever it is I’ll make it fun. Have a great one, everyone! And try to floss. That is what I took away from my waterboarding session today. Floss, floss, floss. I told her I did. She gave me that look. Okay, so I do…seldom. It probably wouldn’t have saved me the blood shed on my bib of shame, anyway. The hygienist must’ve been a wronged person in another life. And evidently she thought it was my gums that wronged her.

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Two things to stew on…

First…healthcare. No, I promise this won’t get political or raise any awareness 🙂 , but seriously…I took my daughter to the “doctor” this evening because she has had a persistent stomach ache and it’s added a pretty hairy sore throat to the list of ailments. Know this, my daughter NEVER misses school, not even stupid half days. (Who ever thought of a half day? Pa-lease) So when she dropped her backpack by the door this morning and morphed into a ball beside me in bed, I knew that meant business. By dinner (of course) she’d become worse, so I drove her to the “doctor”. Only to be awakened to what’s, er I mean, who’s out there at these facilities now. They are referred to as “providers”. Yep, I was told I’d see a provider today. Hmm… Then I was called back by a “medical assistant”. Did the nurses and doctor’s get new names? Are these so called “providers” and “assistants” getting the same education as the others used to get? They even wore name badges; ‘medical assistant’. I’m a bit confused, and concerned. What was more eerie was they kept referring to one another by these cold titles. “The provider will be into see you shortly.” “You can ask the provider when she comes back in.” “The medical assistant will come do the strep test.”Are we running out of doctors and nurses? And will I be charged based on a provider and medical assistant rate?

But all that mess came before the drive pool lane at school. Today was extremely rushed for me. I left my house a total of 4 times today. And when you live on Little House on the Prairie that’s kind of a big thing. You usually plan to get groceries and call it a day where I’m from. No, seriously. There are no quick trips from my house. They all take about an hour one way. So before the doctor…provider debacle (which by the way, it’s a virus…yeah sure. I know strep when I see it) there was the car pool at school to pick up my son. Or as I like to call it, the 4k run of my patience. I mean seriously…mothers actually unbuckle themselves, stroll around to the sidewalk, kiss child on head, ask child how day was, undo their backpack to make sure nothing’s missing, place child in car, hum a little tune, buckle them, blow a kiss, shut the door, and saunter back to the driver’s seat. At which time they buckle, wave at the teacher who hasn’t quite exited the building, wait until they see them and return wave, then with turtle speed pull forward. Just once I’d like to blow my horn. I’ve thought about it. Long and hard. Who would scold me? Others might join in. You know who the culprit is by the third week of school. I look for that bumper sticker of the multi-colored bear and pray I’m not behind it. Or the red little hatch back. Oh, I’ve got the offenders down pat, all right.

Well, I’ve got to wake up early so I better get off my little soap box tonight. I somehow made a dentist appointment for all of my children in the morning. You know, when you make these appointments six months in advance, they should tell you where it hits. Lucky for me, it’s the day before Easter…the day I usually earmark for doing all the things I’ve procrastinated a month to do…Easter shop, menu prep for 14 guests…you know, the normal pre-holiday stuff. So this year instead of all that, I get to drive 2 hours to the dentist in holiday traffic.

So to leave on a spectacular note, because after I overcome my hurried day and watch some mindless television, I’ll be fine…I wish you a magnificent Easter. A time to feast with family and friends. To be oh-so-happy warm weather is settling in finally, and to eat all the coconut cake you want! 

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Feeling Thankful

I go to bed each night after checking how my books are doing. You know, just to feel connected in a small way to my readers. Anyway, each night for the past almost 2 weeks, my books have been read and bought several times that particular day. My rating stats have improved on goodreads and I am feeling blessed! It’s such a nice way to go to sleep, knowing people are sharing in my stories. Wow! It’s amazing.

Then I turn on the ol’boob-tube. Just for about 30 minutes. My husband hopes to be asleep by that time. You see, I have a new ritual of classic television. As I’ve been sewing for my fundraisers, I watch all the oldies. They’re like comfort food to my soul. Weird, I know. But they are so predictable, non-threatening, and I don’t have to lend but one ear.

 

And so on to news of the Indie Book Festival. Let’s see…where to begin? It was super hot. I got a burn on my right cheek, my right arm, and tops of both feet. There were almost no women’s fiction readers present. Although the guy next to my table was booming with his non-fiction account of the Vietnam war. Kudos to him! So all in all, it wasn’t a wonderful thing to behold. I did get tons of entries for a basket I was giving away of book booty!

Good news….a few books are swirling in my head. I enjoyed some Claire De Lune on my way to work this morning. It gave me a great backdrop for a plot I’m working on. And then of course came Dinah Washington. For some reason when I’m writing the Sarah Series, Dinah brings it out of me.

Well, I better go….time for some Hart to Hart!  Have a good day tomorrow, everyone.

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New Season…

Last weekend I decorated for the fall. It took me the better part of the day to do it. I have a large tote that someone lugs up from the basement, and I unwrap each collected item and display them in the dining, living, and kitchen rooms. My kids used to get a charge at all the pumpkins and goblins. Now, it’s like, ‘meh’. Whatever. I like it. My college boy likes it, and had he been there he’d have said something. Oh well. My husband complimented the transformation of our home. Everything now has an ‘autumn glow’. Fall used to be my favorite season, although now it might be spring. Fall just tells me winter is coming, and for that I have a bit of resentment. I get it. Everything has to die to become new again. I just don’t like the death winter feels sometimes. I’m cold during the summer, for crying out loud! And all the bleakness of the sky, no leaves on the trees…I’m getting sad just thinking about it. Better stop!

So I’m going to be at a book festival tomorrow. I won’t lie, it’s my first. I have no idea what to expect. I ordered my books, and I’ve got my pen ready to sign. Now I just hope and pray there are readers who want one! I ordered the cutest magnetic calendars. They had little foxes on them, and my logo was fashioned so cutely on them. And the bookmarks!! In true Julieann fashion, it took me a week to commit to the one I liked best. And so the order was placed. And I waited. And I checked delivery schedules. Yep, they were to arrive right in the nick of time. Then I called last night to check where my missing swag booty was. And then my heart hiccuped. “What? The order never processed? Umm…why not? I’ve been checking. It’s said they’re arriving on the 20th? I ordered 3 weeks ago.” And then the heartless representative from vistaprint said, “It wasn’t deliberate. Your order just wasn’t sent to printing. We’re sorry.” Sorry? Sorry? I have no swag, not cute little fox calendars, no bookmarks? I’ll be the only table with nothing on it! Sorry? “Yes, sorry. I’ll make sure to report this to my supervisor.” Hmm…   I”ll just leave this here with how much that report gave me a warm, fuzzy feeling.

Onto the adoption front. I’ve taken 35 credit hours of courses dealing with adoption. It has been enlightening to say the least. I had no idea all the issues that these poor children go through being institutionalized. I mean, of course, who wouldn’t be scared for life being left in a crib, not ever getting rocked, or fed a bottle being propped on a blanket. My heart is so heavy for their plight.

Fundraising has been a scream. Wow. It’s taught me to be a better giver, that’s for sure. I put myself out there, which is NO easy task for me. I’m the type that wants to take care of things for myself. But this is so huge, so high a hill to climb, that I asked friends and family for help. And I get it. “You want the child, you pay the money.” But it’s more than I have. And she needs it. I’m not asking for myself, I’m asking for her. But whatever. Lesson learned. It’s okay. Some have come forward. Some have helped. Some that I had no idea that would. And I hope they felt the profuse appreciation I gave them in return.

I’m doing a new fundraiser, and thinking of another one for my kid’s school to participate in. As if I haven’t had enough humiliation in begging for money, right? Sadly I’ve learned that people will give if they get something in return. So I made a quilt. It took a month with all the other things I’ve got going on. I call it ‘Birdie’s Quilt’. And it’s $10/ticket for a chance to win it. I used all my favorite fabrics I’ve collected over the years, and it measures a queen size. It’s been getting good response.

This adoption experience is teaching me so much about myself, orphaned children, and the friends and family that surround me. I know I’ve grown, and that’s a good thing. I just can’t wait to get my little Birdie and bring her home!

Have a great weekend everyone. 🙂

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Reason to Celebrate!!

My sixth book releases today! Who knew? I actually had six of them stored up in this head of mine. Actually a few more, but six spilled out to an editor, where she worked her magic, then it got translated into a picture by another professional, formatted, bound, and viola…there you have book 6, “Searching For Sarah”. I’m quite excited. And a bit nervous…as usual. Good thing I’ve got a tough skin. No telling what the kind people of the world is going to think of it…and then there’s the not-so-kind. And I suppose they have a say, too. (I’ll just discreetly, and with all my might, try to put their opinions out of mind) 🙂

So, what about Sarah? She’s a pretty girl, right? Then why is she a dud magnet for men? I mean really…the last guy she dated stole her U-Haul filled with all her stuff. Right there on the street in Charleston. While she went into that cute coffee shop after driving 8 hours straight, to go to the bathroom. That’s the first push into the path that takes her to this guy:

Sam. So what about Sam? He’s cute, right? He just works a little too much. Therefore, unable to do the all the things a single dad has to do–pick up daughter from preschool, cook a well-balanced meal, (not spaghetti o’, scrambled eggs, and a cup of milk, because that’s all he knows how to cook), and attend an occasional tea party with a few stuffed friends…Mind you, he does get home to read the goodnight book and tuck a sleepy-eyed girl in, but as for the rest, he needs some help. And since Sarah is seeking some temporary housing until an apartment comes through, why not get her to do some of the nanny stuff? Win-win for both of them!

Then the story begins to unfold.So, maybe not that intriguing! But I had one reviewer to say she stayed up till after midnight to finish it. That’s good, huh? Well, I sort of smiled when I read it. 🙂

Either way…it’s my genuine hope…wish…desire…beg (LOL) that readers take a chance to get to know Sarah and Sam. Reminder: this is a 3 part book. At the end, there will be sort of the thing that happens on Friday soap operas…Monday will be the second book–where Friday’s shock gets settled after a weekend wait. Don’t throw tomatoes when you get there. But I promise, Monday is coming very quickly. I’m saving that hype until the release of Friday’s book installment–Searching For Sarah, part 1! Please spread the word, my dearest followers. Cake for everyone!!!! Celebrate. 🙂

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Leave me alone, Godiva!

godivaAlways taunting me. Sitting on my dresser, seducing me in that red box. Knowing very well I won’t rest until I know what flavor is in the white square, drizzled in chocolate. Is it caramel, cherry, or maybe more chocolate? All I do know is that I’m trying to lose weight. Seems I’ve put on a few extra winter pounds, and with all this hot weather we’ve been having, less-bulky shirts are saying I need to do something now about it. Or that muffin top is going to blow!!

8ac0050c766d06e4d776ce2baef477cc18803f9313c36d5bdd1f1775c7f4e612I hate water. Well known fact since I was a small child and always offered it at the dinner table. Which explains why I can live on less than 8 ounces of liquid a day. I simply refused to drink when I was little. They could have that water. I saw how it freely poured from the sink. Who doesn’t give away the crappy tasting junk? You don’t see soft drinks pouring out of taps, do you? No, because that has flavor. Anyway, I’ve consumed water this week. It wasn’t pretty. I boasted to my better half that I drank a trial sized one with lunch. He wasn’t impressed. So the next day, instead of popping the top to a Coke, I drank a 16 ounce water. It wasn’t pretty, either. I held my breath for pretty much the entire time, imagining myself in a desert where I was begging to drink anything. The next day I fell off the water wagon. I’ll try again later.

the-package-1f-366x366So I did a photo shoot today. Another thing that ranks high on my ‘most hate to do’ list. (I’m trying to curb my complaints, as well as my soda intake.) I don’t like it because number one, I feel extremely fake, and two, I don’t like to see myself in pictures. My nose looks big, my eyes look bigger, and then there’s the muffin top. Which, by the way, it was only headshots, but I could see extra weight in my cheeks. Is that possible?

The warm weather is blowing away tonight. The noise of the wind is pushing against all the windows, making it feel much colder than it actually is. Tomorrow the jackets will probably be sent away, and the coats brought out again. I’ve still got allergies making my eyes itch until they bleed. I had to go out and get Visine this morning. I’ve used my allotted amount already, and I still want to dig them like dirt.

I’m working on revisions tonight. Pretty safe to say I’ll change everything I wrote only days ago. Moods do that to you. Anyway, I hope everyone has a great rest of the weekend. I’ll try and stay warm and not blow away! 🙂

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When Your Story Isn’t Over

01-falling-out-of-love-relationship-problemsValentine’s Day is over. I would post a picture of what I got, but it seems the internet highway is extremely polluted with cute little flowers and candies. And plus, for those who didn’t get anything, it sort of sucks, I would think. I came home with Valentine goodies for my adorable children, and wouldn’t you know it…one of them cried and hated what I picked for him. Yes! I have one of those hard-to-please, doesn’t-matter-what-you-get-them, kids. No matter what I get that boy, it translates to a bag of poop in his eyes. He tells me I get him bad things because I love the other children more. Pa-lease. He used to be so adorable, so loving, and so kind…when he was an infant through three years old. I have no idea what happened after that.

So onto my latest book. As previously written, for this one I really did some outlining for the plot. I mapped an ending and stayed the course….Then I got to the chapter before the last chapter, and something happened. My mind changed, my heart stopped loving the end, and I just couldn’t do it. Spoilers aside, I had simply fallen out of love with my happily ever after. There was no happily ever after. Not now. Too much had happened in the story. I’d fallen out of love with my hero. I needed like a hundred pages more to do it right. And who wants to read that long of a book? So I did something courageous…I made it into a series. Yes, another one. The Amy series being my first go at the series thing.

It’s fine. You know…this notion of writing this book as a series. I hope it’s fine. I mean, I really like Sarah. And I like writing her story. I just hope I have enough to stretch it. I think I do. Nah, I will. Something always creeps into my brain, giving me more words, with more characters to grow and love. Wish me luck…onto book 2.

snoopy_writing

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Just the Right Words

power-of-wordsNot only should you be careful of what you say, but be careful of what you write.

This could go so many ways. My mother taught me at a very young age to never write down what you don’t want someone to read…anyone to read. Did I heed her advice? The advice that usually only comes from getting burned in order to deal it out to the naive masses, in hopes they don’t make the same mistake? Yes, I listened, but only after someone read what I didn’t want them to. What can I say? We are creatures that cannot simply be told, we must experience for ourselves. Lesson learned.

I had a conversation in the car this week with my 8 and 10 year old boys. One was teasing the other about something. I interrupted and told them that words should be for building someone up, not tearing them down. They have great power, and once unleashed, they can never be swallowed, lassoed back, or drowned. They are out there to be pondered, over-thought, and for many, to be destroyed. So choose words wisely.

So I have the privilege to write words this weekend. Well, I sort of am ignoring other chores and burying myself in a hole with my laptop. I come out occasionally, but for the most part you can hear pecking coming from the first room on the right, at the top of the stairs. Sometimes I’ll be typing along and I stop and wonder how I got down this street. Where are my characters again? Where did I need them to go? How is it that I’m five miles off course? And how do I get back to the pacing it needs to be?

Words are crucial. They either insight a reader to read ‘just more chapter’ at two in the morning, or close the book, fifty pages in. A writer has to always be mindful of where the words are going. What words should be used. It’s so funny how I’ll keep traveling, stop, look around, and wonder how I’m going to transition from this dead end. Patiently I put the car in reverse, back out (delete) the last ten pages and mindfully try again. It’s a job I love the most. Formulating just the right words. 🙂

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Random Thoughts

motivationI feel as though someone has taken the cord from my motivational outlet and done away with it. And I don’t much care. Have you ever had a day such as this? Yeah, I got my work done at work. Money was counted, disbursed to the correct accounts, and emails were appropriately dealt with, but now that I’ve returned home…I’ve got nothing else to give. Nothing. Then you have this dark thing going on outside, happening early than usual. Like it’s dark at 5:30 now. I used to like this when I was younger, but now it’s as though the day has come to a close and I wait for sleep. But, no….I’ve still got 4 to 5 hours of time left to be productive. Yet I can’t. Because it’s dark!

I didn’t blog about it, but my beloved Walter died last week. Almost to the day. Walter was our family dog. A beautiful Weimaraner with gray eyes and grand stature. I picked him out of a litter of girls. He was about 5 months old…the same age as my daughter at the time. He was wearing purple nail polish on one of his nails, in order to tell him apart from the others. I was drawn to him the very moment I saw him and named him on the way home. Home…that’s when the fun began. Within a couple months, his head swelled twice the size it should be. After we got medication for this, he went lame. We stuck this out a few weeks, until he spontaneously walked again, and eventually fell into the river from the pier…in the dead of winter. What a fiasco it was with Walter. But slowly he got better, and drier, and the rest of his life was bliss. Until last summer when he was slow to walk, again. There was something going on with his legs and it only became worse. In the end, I had to walk him outside holding him up with a towel wrapped around his torso. His back legs didn’t work anymore. It was very sad. I watched as his beautiful ghost eyes told me he was too tired to move anymore. So my husband took him to the hospital and left him there. I watched as they took him on a stretcher from the back of his van. I watched from a safe distance in my car, far away, and bawled my eyes out. That morning I told him my good-byes and wept in front of him. He knew. And it was time. 13.5 years wasn’t long enough. 😦

Who is sick of politics, raise their hand!! I will be so happy when it’s over. People will Facebook others, encouraging them to vote. But what they really mean is to vote for who they want to win. If not, keep your sorry butt from going to the polls. I mean, really. And I’m super sick of all the stupidity out there. Of course whoever isn’t voting for your person, you automatically think they’re ignorant. It’s the most bizarre presidential election I’ve ever been witness to. Crazy!

I almost bought another plant this weekend. Poor thing was on the distressed rack for cheap. And it wasn’t half bad. I put it in my buggy, picked out a pot, and rode that thing around for awhile. Then I drove it back to the distressed rack and put it back. I don’t need another house plant, I declared to myself. I can’t keep up with the ones I’ve got. They drive me crazy. When did I fertilize last? Why is that one looking yellow? I’ve got enough to deal with. Oh yeah…I did buy a little one. I selectively forgot about that one. My kids made fun of it when I put it in the drink holder. Poor little guy was a dollar. It doesn’t like light, but drinks a lot. Kind of like my daughter! (I always get after her for not putting open her window shades and refilling the water pitcher).

As I finish my post, I still don’t feel any motivation reaching out to me. I look around at all that I could get done….and nothing. Maybe tomorrow. 🙂