Saturday, May 24, 2014

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Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Books: A Different Form of Art

I have a very crafty circle of friends and acquaintances. They conceptualize and visualize and bring their ideas to life to exist in a form that can be immediately appreciated by others. I am, admittedly, somewhat jealous of them - of anyone, really - who paints, throws pots, knits, crochets, sculpts, resurrects . . . makes

My daughter's elementary school recently held a craft fair that I desperately wanted to be a part of. However, books are not crafty (and none of mine are age-appropriate anyway). Certainly books take skill and often an inordinate amount of time to see through from concept to finished product, but there is something fundamentally different about books that separates them from other forms of craft. Whereas you can visually appreciate a painting or turn over a clay pot in your hands, touch the soft fibers of a knitted sweater or crocheted blanket, and instantly bond with that piece of art, the same cannot be said about a book. Books are meant to be savored in parts; their secrets slowly unraveled. That, of course, requires patience and free time. And while many people enjoy reading, you cannot cover up with a book when you're cold or wrap one around your neck (at least not comfortably). Books serve no purpose but to entertain, and the few hours of escape one gets from reading is not worth much to some.

I envy a particular friend who wears what she knits; her garments are striking. I suppose I could string my six books in a rather cumbersome necklace to advertise what I create, but then people would likely think me odder than they already do. 

Friday, December 6, 2013

City of Bones (The Movie)

My husband, in the spirit of giving, decided to share his stomach virus with me. And although I've experienced worse (far worse, if you must know) in the way of tummy bugs, lying on the couch wracked with severe body chills and the feeling that your head is being cleaved in two is not my ideal way to spend the day. Homeschool classes effectively canceled (the boy was distraught - not!), I flicked on the boob tube for some illicit mid-day television watching. The only problem was . . .

I'd forgotten how boring daytime television is. 

I was getting ready to give up and instead sleep my aches away when I saw a preview for THE MORTAL INSTRUMENTS: CITY OF BONES, I thought Oh, hells yeah!! I had yet to read the series - not sure why - but I'd been wanting to see the movie. I enjoyed it so much, in fact, I watched it twice - once alone, and once with my 14-year-old daughter. She thought the actor who played Jace was "sorta hot" but had lots to say about how he seemed to devour Clary's face when they kissed for the first time. That's just what boys do sometimes. Don't ask me why.

I hoped to find a (decent) clip of said kiss but failed, so I'm sharing this instead. Your stomach muscles will thank me.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Puppy Fever

My husband and I have reached the stage in our lives and marriage of having moved beyond wanting more children. Don't get me wrong; I still get all googly-eyed whenever I see a small baby or cute toddler, but then I remember the eight consecutive years of no sleep to which my youngest two subjected me, and I quickly change my tune. Three is enough. Trust me. Anyway, there is a fine line between "just enough" and "too many," and I'm pretty sure our friends and family would think we'd nosedived off the deep-end if we added any more humans to Clan Garrett. These days, it's all about . . . 


I find myself wanting another puppy in the house like we did just two short years ago when we were first contemplating getting a dog. The only difference is now I know what to expect, the good and the bad. The training, by the way, never stops. Nearly two years of walking Chloe the Black Lab, and I'm still teaching her not to pull. How can one dog be so smart but so . . . dumb? Here's a clue, Chloe - quit pulling on the leash and maybe you won't sound like a chain-smoker hocking up a lung!

But back to puppies. How absolutely adorable is this?

My husband and I are not yet convinced we are a two-dog family. After all, with a dog, two cats, two guinea pigs, and a rabbit, we have no shortage of animals to love. And let's not forget, we just bought that new sofa. 

Friday, November 15, 2013


For those who don't know, I pulled my son out of public school in favor of homeschooling. If you're at all interested in what we're up to in that respect, I chronicle our daily adventures here. I know, without a doubt, pulling him was the right decision. I've been a "public-school parent" 10 years now, so I've been around long enough to see how the educational system in the USA tends to operate under the philosophy of one-size-fits-all. And when you have a child with special needs who doesn't fit nicely into the public-school setting and way of learning, you have to take matters into your own hands and find a solution that works for you, your child, and your family. For us, it was homeschooling. 

But this post isn't about homeschooling. Instead, it's about my career as a writer and the decision I made to put it on the back burner. This time last year, I was spending 5, often more, hours a day writing and doing all the various side jobs that go with it. Now? I'm spending 5 hours a day teaching. I barely have time to fix my son and myself a late lunch before I have to pick up my daughter from school, and I transition from teacher to stay-at-home mom as the next 6+ hours of my afternoon / evening shift begin. By the time my youngest goes to bed - 9 PM on a good night, on account of her being active in gymnastics - I am finally ready to begin my night shift, aka writing.

I am a self-professed morning person. With both my girls now active in sports, however, I've been forced to change my view of what "late" is to accommodate their activities. A year ago, I would have scoffed and been majorly put-out at the idea of being anywhere but in my pajamas and robe on a weeknight. And I would have never chosen to write at night, when I'm exhausted and most in need of a break. 

But write I must, not only for myself, but for the people who, strangely enough, seem to like reading my books. I have four books on which I'm currently working, all in various stages of completion. You can track my progress right here on this blog. Over there -----> 

Truth be told, I don't enjoy writing at night. Not.At.All. My brain hurts and I'm often cranky. My strict 10:00 bedtime is quickly becoming a thing of the past. I'm on the move from the minute my alarm goes off at 5:20 AM, to the minute my head eventually hits the pillow. Had this been my writing schedule a few years ago, I would have given up and possibly never looked back. A few years ago, I didn't have the quickly-building fan base to boost my confidence that what I was doing wasn't for naught. There were just a few dedicated friends who consistently read what I wrote. But now? I need to know that I'm entertaining others, that what I put out there is not going unnoticed. And I know, without a doubt, I am and it's not. My sales reports illustrate that fact, as well as the positive feedback.  

So . . . if you're one of those readers who sends me messages to "write faster" or you'll die waiting to read my next book . . . thanks for that. That's exactly the type of motivation I need to stay focused on my writing when all I really want to do is watch The Vampire Diaries or Parenthood. Or, you know, go to bed.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

The Usurper

Here's a picture of our beautiful new couch.

My husband: "I sort of miss our old sofa." 
Me: "It's sitting outside. In the cold and dark. Lonely." 
My husband: "Do you think sofas have feelings?" 
Me: "I don't think so." 
My husband: "I hope not." 
And then, "I'm pretty sure it does. And it hates us right now.

I'm pretty sure it does, too. 

What a pathetic scene. 

The furniture store wanted $50 to remove the old sofa. It's not even worth that! We meant to stash it under the covered back patio until we can rent a dumpster in which to toss a few other furniture pieces that are literally falling apart, as well as miscellaneous junk that has been taking up valuable real estate in the garage, but one thing led to another yesterday and we never got around to it. As I was scraping ice and snow off the van this morning, I looked over and . . . quickly had to look away. Oh, the guilt! I feel like I should cover the old sofa with a blanket and offer it a mug of hot chocolate or something. It's the same insane reasoning that makes me eat one Oreo too many because if I leave just one in the package, it will surely get lonely and cry.  

Seriously, Old Couch . . . Don't look at me like that!

Sunday, November 10, 2013

The Couch

This is our couch.

Lovely, eh?

Long ago, when my husband and I had just two children and one cat . . . before our third child was born and we added two more cats, a dog, several guinea pigs, and a rabbit to the family . . . we bought an inexpensive couch and loveseat from Big Lots. My husband and I are currently debating whether or not we bought the matching chair, as well. I don't know . . . we can't seem to remember back that far. 

The furniture was new and wonderful and unmarred by baby excreta. It wasn't the highest quality, but comfortable enough. We knew it would be transition furniture, lasting only as long as our children were small, so we intentionally didn't want to spend too much money. In any event, we didn't have much to spend. We still don't.

Fast forward almost nine years, and the above photo is what we're left with. If indeed we had the chair, it was relegated to the curb long ago in the hopes some college kid might pick it up. The loveseat, in all its ragged glory, is downstairs serving as our son's gaming chair. He loves it.

In its lifetime, the couch has served as scratch post for the cats, trampoline for the kids, and bed for the dog and occasional sick human. The springs are shot, the zippers on the cushions will no longer zip after years of fort-building (and in fact the foam stuffing is spilling out). There is a hole in one of the back cushions that I once attempted to repair with strong thread and an upholstery needle, but one of the cats clawed it open and subsequently made it a habit to remove giant clouds of stuffing. Likewise, my kids came up with this awesome game called, "Let's See How Much Crap We Can Stuff in the Hole." Lots of fun, I assure you.

The couch has been used and abused in every way imaginable. It's been accidentally gouged with pencils, and then on purpose when the kids discovered how much fun that was. It's had food and drink spilled on it, and we've lost more Polly Pockets and hair ties in its deep, unreachable recesses. Sadly, no loose change. The faux leather has been picked, peeled, and chewed at, and more than once I've woken to the dog gagging up couch remnants in the middle of the night. "Repairs" have been made with clear duct tape and, when that wasn't available, blue painter's tape. The couch has been the source of deep embarrassment and the butt of many jokes, and while we attempted to replace it countless times over the years, something else always seemed to bump it down on the ever-growing list of priorities. 

But today is the day. The day my husband and I buy a new couch. Yesterday we browsed hundreds of couches - traveling first to a furniture outlet that was just depressing, then to a grown-up furniture store where the price of some of the pieces require you to take out a second mortgage on your house, then back to Big Lots. And while we knew we could get more bang for our buck at our tried-and-true Big Lots, in the end we decided to buy just one more expensive, but well-made piece. I am insanely excited . . . but also a little sad. Saying goodbye to the couch that has been a more integral part of our life than I realized is admittedly bittersweet. 

For months we've been prepping the kids about the "new couch" we would eventually get. It's fabric, which makes me nervous, but I didn't want to risk gouged, clawed, and peeling leather yet again. There will be no food and no drinks on the new couch, and absolutely NO gymnastics. If I end up covering it in plastic, don't be surprised. We're even debating about getting the dog her own dedicated chair. From Big Lots, of course. 

Here's a video taken when Bea was small and our couch was still young and innocent.