She’s finally here!



Guys, I’m going to start this post by saying how GLORIOUS it is to not be sick anymore! I CAN’T STOP SMILING!! I can talk! I can walk! I can laugh! I can mom!

That said, as you might have guessed (or seen on my facebook page), baby girl decided to finally join us. And she’s adorable. (you might remember me mentioning here that my oldest daughter was a gorgeous newborn but my son looked more on the Benjamin Button side of things for a few months. So maybe a little part of me was worried…)

And she’s the best baby EVER. Seriously. From 9:00 at night until about 9:00 in the morning, she sleeps. Even when I wake her to feed her, she basically sleeps through it. Hubby and I are getting a ton of sleep! Scratch that. We could be getting a ton of sleep if we’d stop with our second go-around of Netflix binging all the seasons of Friday Night Lights. Texas forever.


I’ve never understood why family and friends want to know the weight and length of a newborn, so I’ll just say she was born perfect. She is on the long and lean side, though this past week she’s started to plump up with that ridiculously cute cheek and thigh squish.

She’s super curious and has these ginormous, searching eyes, which you might get a glimpse of if you happen to be around during the few minutes she decides to forgo her beauty sleep and grace us with her awake presence.


She’s named after her great grandmother and her grandma. Though I’m on the fence about sharing my kids names on a public blog, so I’ll keep those to myself for now.

Delivery was a cinch, recovery has been awesome, and again, I CAN’T STOP SMILING! Two days after delivery, I was already anxious to be normal again and started making plans. “Nick, let’s go camping! Let’s throw a party! Let’s start going back to the gym! I’m going to church this Sunday! I’m gonna make the kids’ Halloween costumes this week! What do you want for dinner?? Ooooh, let’s host Thanksgiving for EVERYBODY!!” I tell you, pregnancy is not my forte. Newborns? Newborns I can handle like a boss.


We’ll see how long it lasts. I’m sure you all remember this post when I was definitely not on my A-game.

So, dear readers, I know I announced that I was “back” a few months ago, but in reality, my fingers were typing away some thoughts while I whithered away behind the scenes in misery.

But Oh Glorious Day, we have arrived! The land of the living has beckoned and brought with it a perfect, beautiful little girl! Our family is healthy, happy, together, and smiling. What more could we ask for?

I’m feeling tremendously grateful. I have the best husband. He’s thoughtful, and caring, and works hard for our family, and brings spontaneity and laughter. He’s my best friend. He’s my love. He has sacrificed so much to keep our family running smoothly during my pregnancies. He is strong, he is wise, he is brave, and he is mine. He doesn’t just make me smile, he makes me feel like I’m glowing. There is no one better for me than him, and I’m so lucky to have found him.


I have the best little 5 year old daughter. She’s super smart and creative. She reasons through everything, making sure she thought of every detail. She’s very beautiful with big, bright blue eyes. She is very aware of others around her and tries so hard to be helpful. She never forgets anything (both a blessing and a curse), and her giggle is freaking adorable. She’s a lover if ever there was one, laying on kisses and hugs and cuddles like they’re going out of style.


My 4 year old son is so stinking cute! What a charmer. He’s one of those people that never laughs at his own hilarious commentary, even though the look in his eyes says he knows exactly how funny he just was. He’s the sweetest boy you’ve ever met. I get unsolicited “I wuv you, mommy”s all the time. He has to run everywhere, because walking is for chumps. His energy is never-ending. Except at church. At church he’s the epitome of shy, reserved, quiet, and tender. Oh, and he’s completely and utterly obsessed with Star Wars.


And now, I’ve been blessed with another beautiful soul. A sweet, sleepy, curious, pretty, perfect little baby girl. And I can’t wait to get to know her!

20150927_163540    20151005_093737

Love, Tara

Please. For one blessed day. #startwithoneday



This post has been on my mind for a while. I don’t how else to say it, other than World, we need to stop.

Stop it. Stop the judgments. Stop the scorn. Stop the sarcasm at the expense of another’s opinion. Stop. Really.

I have opinions, and I’ve been as judgmental as the next person. I even have some very strong opinions on some rather controversial subjects. But for just one day, could we stop?

Everywhere I turn, I see and hear catty or snippy or angry or scornful or down right scathing words about someone else’s stance. Stop. Even if you’re “right.” For today, just stop.

Some say their words with the best of intentions, but are blinded to how those on the other side interpret them. For today, just stop.

I don’t care where you stand. Immigration, race relations, feminism, religious liberty, bigotry, death penalty, politics, war, taxes, social security, welfare, climate change, gay marriage, prison policy, foreign relations, political correctness, flags, it goes on and on and on. . . .

And the mother wars? Oh, sweet heaven above me, I almost wish I had the guts to swear up and down to you about the senselessness in mother-warring. Means of delivery, nursing vs. bottle feeding, co-sleeping vs. not, cry-it-out vs. not, homeopathic remedies vs. doctor visits, disciplining, homeschool vs. public vs. private school, helicopterring vs. unstructured freedom, 100% organic vs. feeding your family the best you can . . .  just about every freaking parenting action under the sun is under a social media microscope. Even what kind of diapers to use! Did you see how many “vs.” were in that? Verses. As in, mother against mother. As if one is so right and one is so wrong. Let it go. Please. For one day, just keep your opinions to yourself. Love your kid the way your instincts are telling you to love that dear child and spare other mothers from your well-intentioned shaming. Support each other, for crying out loud. Because every mother knows how hard it can get even without the constant fear of being judged.

We all, as human beings, are doing the best we can. Our cultures, our environment, our experiences, our education, our trials, fears, and inadequacies, even our brain chemistry all come together in a whirlwind and shape how we view the world. There is no need for public shaming. Please. Just stop.

Even “helpful” advice, or “godly” wisdom, or “straight-up” logic can shame. Think through what you’re saying. What you’re typing. What you’re sharing. I’m only asking for a day. One blessed day.

There is one particular subject I didn’t mention to which I have a very strong opinion. For me, the issue is black and white. Right and very, very wrong. And that’s a rare occurrence for me. I’ve researched and contemplated both sides, but my stance has only strengthened.

But let me tell you what, NO ONE has the right to shame another. Do I have to agree? No. Do I need to try to understand why they view the issue the way they do? Yes. Do I need to understand that people in opposition to me are just that: people? With feelings? With convictions? With rights to those opinions? Yes. Though I believe in the absolute wrongness of their stance, I do not believe they, as people, are wrong. They are just as human as I am. They are just as loved by their God as I am by mine. So, for today, I will stop.

All these words floating around the internet, or dumped unceremoniously in grocery store checkout lines, or snipped about amongst parents at their kids’ play dates are a reflection of just how judgmental our world has become.

For one day, just stop. And then . . . start. Start doing something good. #startwithoneday

Imagine the good we can accomplish by doing instead of by judging?

You have a problem with the welfare system? Then go help someone who might be a receiver of such welfare and listen to their story and figure out what you can do to curb the reason welfare exists in the first place. Because I’ll tell you what, whining about it on social media doesn’t do a thing. Shaming another’s stance only makes us divided and unable to make a difference.

Are you upset by the way in which our human race is treating the planet? Go do something about it! With strength! With joy! With love! Shaming is only going to make stronger enemies.

Are you upset by the surge in hurtful race relations? Be an example of love! Because voicing an opinion on the subject on social media is probably a bad idea right now. No matter where you stand on the issue. Someone’s going to get riled up by WHATEVER you say. Riled up does not a solution make.

Us humans are pretty clever. Let’s use it. Let’s use it for good.

I think our problems get worse when we put our cleverness aside and opt for hurtful targeting. I think our problems get better when we come together and get things done.

I believe with all my heart that every single one of us human beings is a son or daughter of God. Whether you call that God Allah, Jehovah, Heavenly Father, Mother Nature, or even refuse to acknowledge a higher power, I believe you are loved by that Higher Power. And I believe that God is longing for those small moments when we stop and come together to accomplish wonderful things. When we start doing. For good. Instead of watching us bicker and shame and snip and judge.

I’ve judged. And I’ve likely hurt others unintentionally. For that I am profoundly sorry. And so I write this post, hoping, praying, that maybe someone else will stop with me. And then, maybe, that someone else will start with me.

Even if it’s for just one day. Let’s start with one day. One day of peace. One day of getting up and making a difference without an ounce of shaming or judgement.

Can we do that?

Can we Go and Do without a snide thought?

Can we love without condition? Work without argument? Help without shaming?

Share your goodness, your love, your support. Go and do. Get out and make a loving, purposeful, effective difference. Go lovingly toward solutions instead of scornfully after “the other side.”

For just one day, stop. Then START.



DIY Concrete Countertops – 11 months later


UPDATE! click here for how these counters have fared 3 1/2 YEARS LATER. 

11 months laterHey-o!

Tara here.

Novel writing exploits took a backseat today. Lucky you? I was perusing Pinterest this morning and saw another concrete-over-laminate countertop pin. You know the countertop treatment popping up on the internet? The one using Ardex Feather Finish concrete “painted” over sanded-down laminate or formica countertops? I smiled to myself, remembering when I first saw those pins and thought rather smugly, “Oh, we could totally do that!” Well, last summer, I took that smug opinion and put my (not much) money where my confident mouth was.

If you’re wondering how that treatment holds up, this is the post for you. There may be hints and tips and tricks, but this is by no means a how-to post. This is a how-did-it-hold-up reality post.

Yes, this is a new type of post for the ol’ blog, but it’s my blog. You’re not the boss of me.

Kitchen full, countersWhat do you think of my on-the-cheap, mostly DIY kitchen remodel? I’ll post more (including the unrecognizable before photos) on that one later. I still have a couple of things left to do. But for now . . .

The house the hubs and I bought last summer had pretty awful laminate countertops. They were probably great in their hay-day, but we must have inherited them from a butcher . . . or serial killer. I’m talking knife gashes and slices everywhere. Chunks missing.

Had I a bigger budget, I might have sprung for the quartz countertops I really wanted. But after raising the kitchen ceiling, electrical work, A/C duct work, new lighting, and DIY shelving, (it was a brutal summer) we basically had enough money for paint. And maybe cheap cabinet pulls.

So, we took the plunge. The Ardex Feather Finish countertop plunge.

Total cost- Approx $125

Concrete– $25 (which I purchased at a local floor covering supply store)

Cheng Food-Grade Concrete Countertop Sealant- Either $30 (small bottle for up to 40 sq. feet), or $100+ (Huge 4L bottle – you’ll have lots of leftovers for re-sealing down the road or for other projects)

What we already had on hand

Painter’s tape, plastic drop cloth, face masks, electric sander, utility knives, taping knives (a.k.a. drywall spatulas) similar to these, old bowl/bucket, whisk, old soft rags.


It took 3 adults (one of which had done this before) one long evening, then 2 adults for a second night. That said, we had an electric sander. If you are sanding by hand, expect it to take a lot longer.

To begin, we wood-putty’ed over the missing chunks in the counters. Then we sanded with an electric sander, and savagely scuffed those original gashed badboys with utility knives. That was just as fun and it sounds. Then came the many, many super-thin layers of Ardex (with sanding between each coat). After drying came the sealant layers. Then the waiting game.

Ready for the good stuff? The big questions?

#1 – How have they held up? Surprisingly well, actually. Are there chips? Yes. Are there dings? Sort of. Are there scratches? Eh… Are there stains? No. (Yeah, I was surprised by that one, too.)


Chips. (See the lighter gray dots?) This happens when something both heavy and sticky is left on the countertop. When said item is picked up later, chips can occur. I’ve got 4 tiny chips in the corner by my stand-mixer, 2 next to my stove, a long-skinny chip up against the wall by the stools, and another little tiny one in the main workspace. (When I say tiny, I’m talking pin-head tiny, not even as big as a pencil eraser). Not bad for nearly a year of wear and tear from our rambunctious family of four.


Dings. This only happens in this one small part of my countertop, no bigger than a 5-inch square. (Apologies for the weird lighting, it’s the only way I could get the camera to show my dings.)


Why does it ding? Because this part of the countertop for some reason is much thicker than the rest. We probably missed this in sanding one of the layers. Maybe it soaked up more sealant and therefore has a little give to it? I’m not sure of the science behind why the thicker concrete dings.

Normally, each layer gets sanded down until completely smooth, almost as thin as paint, resulting in a final, smooth surface. This little section was never completely smooth, and noticeably thicker.

The plus side: I highly doubt this thick part will chip. But it has definitely “aged” with these lovely “character” dings. I actually kinda dig ’em.

Scratches. Truth be told, I didn’t notice any at all. Then I read Sarah’s experience with scratches and looked very, very, closley. Technically I guess you could say there are things that look like scratches. But they’re not like mini slices through the sealant, they’re like tiny, almost imperceptible lines scattered throughout. Like my dinged section, but to 1/10th of the degree. Almost like the miniscule leftover markings on a pad of paper from a previous sheet: the ones you only notice if you color the clean sheet carefully with pencil lead to reveal the hidden message. They don’t even show up in the sunlight unless you are really searching for them. I think maybe Sarah’s showed because her countertops were black and she used non-countertop wax to try to seal them.


Stains. Yes, I said there were no stains. In truth, no amount of berry juice, melted popsicle, soy sauce, or other nefarious stainer has penetrated our food-grade concrete sealant. However, right along the seam to our stove, oil/grease seems to have seeped into the concrete. See the darker half circle right at the edge? I’m guessing our tape job (to protect the countertop-installed stove during this whole concreting process) wasn’t up to par. Or maybe when we pulled the tape up afterwards, it pulled up a tiny bit of the sealant. I don’t know. But, yes, I do have those tiny pockets of oil along the edge.

See the little dots an inch to the left of the stove that look very similar to the oil/grease stains? That’s what happens when water is left pooling on the countertop over the top of a chip. (I had just finished cleaning the counters before I took the picture). Water is absorbed through the tiny chip, then spreads out wider underneath the sealant. Guess what? They dry! Those little dark dots disappear after about a half hour.

Which brings me to a stain precautionary: It has not happened to me, but I would venture to guess that if berry juice (or other stainer) was left pooling over a chip in the surface, and it absorbed, and then dried, it very well could stain. Just a thought.

Ok, at this point, some of you might be asking “Tara, why don’t you just dab a little sealant over the chips?”  The sealant requires a process, which I could try, but I’m scared of it turning out uneven and looking worse than the teeny tiny chips do. To appease you, dear readers, I might try it and post about later. We’ll see. To get a flawless seal, I would have to re-sand and seal the entire countertop. And I am not quite ready to do that just yet.

#2 – What would I have done differently? A few things.

First: I’d do more layers of concrete.

I think we did 5 really thin layers. Yes, the surface is super smooth, but I actually would prefer a surface more like my little 5-inch section with the character dings (another pic zoomed out below). Personal preference, but I like dings more than chips. The thin-ness in some areas makes me a tiny bit nervous. It’s pretty thin.

Second, I’d heed the directions a little better with the sealant.


See the photo above? The dull bit in the sunlight? Right above my dinged up section? That’s a spot where the our sealant didn’t soak in as well as it should have. I’ve got two of them. This is because we didn’t get the concrete wet enough during the sealing process. When they say get it wet, they mean really wet. Wet enough to soak into the concrete and stay wet while you apply the sealant. That spot must have dried too much by the time we got the sealant wiped over the top. It doesn’t stain, and it doesn’t soak up water like the chips do, but it’s not as shiny. So it’s noticeable in certain lights.

#3 – Would I do it again? Absolutely.

This is a fantastic countertop. It looks great, it feels great, and it holds up better than I thought it would. As a matter of fact, if I get enough chips to necessitate a change, I’m planning on doing it again. Tape off the room with plastic, a little (or lot) of sanding, a few more layers, and re-seal. Though I’m guessing I’ve got a while before that will be necessary.

The only thing about this countertop that I can’t do that I wish I could do: run a flat razor blade over the surface to clean hard, crusty bits. I’m pretty sure it would knick the sealant if the blade caught a ding, chip, or other imperfection.

HOWEVER, the project is labor intensive. And takes a significant amount of time. And very messy. (Use the hose or utility sink to clean up, not your kitchen sink, which should be taped off and covered anyway.) And concrete dust will be EVERYWHERE.

Also, this is not a 3 hour project. This is not a one-night project. And if I were you, I’d tape painter’s plastic over entrances, doors, cabinets, etc. to keep the insane amount of dust contained. (Remember the sanding? Lots of sanding.) Be prepared and willing. We weren’t moved-in when we did this, and I am so glad I didn’t have to wipe concrete dust off of belongings in addition to house surfaces and fixtures.

If you don’t have the money for solid countertops like marble, quartz, granite, or even butcher block, I’d suggest this as a great alternative to cover those old laminates. If you didn’t already know, this Ardex treatment is cheap.

I’d also do it if I had older cabinets and didn’t have the money for new countertops and cabinets. Because putting expensive countertops on older cabinets is not a good idea. The counters will likely crack if you later try to take them off to replace your cabinets, and you might just decide on a different cabinet footprint and wouldn’t be able to use your previously installed expensive countertops anyway.

AND… again… we had serial killer countertops. And a tiny budget. What choice did we have?

Kitchen full, counters

Dang, I’m proud of my DIY kitchen remodel. Just wait until I finish adding my tarnished gold pulls to those blue drawers and finish up my crown molding.

For in-depth instructions, visit: Here, Jenny over at, and then here, Laura over at

So, there you have it, folks. The not-so-ugly ugly truth behind those internet concrete-over-laminate countertops.

AAAAAND NOW, click the photo below to see how these counters are doing 3.5 years after install!

Concrete countertops_

The Lasering of the HooHas


Yes, this post is probably too-much-information. But, dear readers, the world needs to be warned.


Once upon a time, *someone* (eh-ehm) saw a killer Groupon deal for laser hair removal. Though it took some minor sisterly manipulation, she managed to convince her two sisters to join her in an adventure. The three of them then scheduled their appointments for “the lasering of the hoohas.” Yep. Go big or go home.

Each sister had the same procedure, the same number of follow-up visits, and received the same advice and instructions. However, each had a very different experience. In order to protect the not-so-innocent, names will not be assigned to each hilarious tragic mishap. Hopefully our combined lessons-learned will save you from an equally humiliating memory.

If you laser your hooha . . . 

. . . remember that you only need to undress from the waist down. When the technician comes in and seems surprised at your state of complete undress, then has to ask you twice for clarification on what exactly you want lasered, you will eventually realize where you went wrong. In this sister’s defense, there was a modesty towel provided that appeared to be meant for whole torso cover-up, which seemed like enough cover at the time.

If you did indeed strip completely . . .

. . . don’t admit it to your sisters. Who then gossip and giggle about it with their technicians. Like a bunch of nosy old ladies at the hair salon.

If they tell you to shave everything the day before your appointment . . .

. . . they mean EVERYTHING. Because when that laser beams upon a not-quite-so-shaven spot in your nethers that you probably didn’t even know existed, it will hurt like the dickens. The DICKENS, I tell you. You will see stars. Galaxies. Undiscovered universes.

If you have a known skin sensitivity . . . 

. . . mention this to the technician BEFORE you slather on the numbing cream. You might break out in a severe rash. There are other options. Like ice. Or a strip of leather hide between your gritted teeth.

If you think you might have a severe skin reaction . . .

. . . don’t schedule a date for that night. Or any of the next 5 nights. And we come from a traditional, religious family, so this has nothing to do with sex. I’m just talking about normal functioning in front of the opposite gender. Walking, sitting, getting in and out of cars . . . all things that will make you move like the zombie in “Hocus Pocus” if your crotch is on fire. Even with a best-case-scenario and a high tolerance for pain, your date will at the very least think you’re constipated.

If you do have both a severe skin reaction and an unfortunate date planned that night . . .

. . . don’t wear tight pants. This should be common sense. Apparently us sisters aren’t always running on all cylinders in the common sense department.

If you break out in a severe rash . . .

. . . don’t wait 3 days to see the doctor. That’s just 3 days of unnecessary discomfort. “Discomfort” is probably putting it mildly.

If the doctor tells you to put “Di-syn-et? Des-ri-tyme? Da-resi-tin?” on it . . . 

. . . he means Desitin. Which is diaper-rash cream. Which you can buy at the grocery store. Or borrow from your sister’s diaper-bag. But you probably should have asked the doctor to clarify this when you were confused so it didn’t take you an extra day to receive relief.

If you need Desitin, like immediately . . .

. . . find a bathroom to lather yourself. Don’t do it in a car, without tinted windows, in the mall parking lot. Especially with your sister cracking up and making a scene in the next seat.

If you can’t sleep at night because your lady bits are on fire . . . 

. . . try turning up your ceiling fan to full blast and strip down to a half-birthday suit. Then sprawl out on top of your covers. I’ve heard this helps.

And finally, If you did indeed suffer from a severe, toe-curling allergic reaction . . . 

. . . DON’T USE THE DANG NUMBING CREAM AT YOUR NEXT APPOINTMENT! It shouldn’t have to take you a few sessions to realize that the cream was your fatal mistake.

So ladies, if you’ve been contemplating taking the Brazilian laser plunge, please take a moment to truly internalize any possible ramifications. Hedge your bets, and prepare.

Maybe pre-purchase some diaper cream. Just in case.

Black Weekend



My husband’s family has this story. It’s called “Black Sabbath.” Story goes, one particular Sunday when hubby was a kid and visiting his grandparents up in Utah, EVERYTHING went wrong. They called it “Black Sabbath” because multiple trips to various stores to fix a slew of catastrophes meant that that particular Sabbath day wasn’t observed as intended.

Well folks, let me tell you about “Black Weekend.” Hubby and I decided to take the kids up north (north eastern Arizona area) to a family cabin and invited our best friends to drive down from Utah and join us. While there, we had the best time! Instead of being sick and dehydrated and hot and fainting (as I am while pregnant), I was actually doing pretty great! Sure I wasn’t my normal self, and sure I needed to lay down often. But we were out of the heat, chillin in beautiful country with great company, making fantastic memories, great conversation… all in all: WONDERFUL.


Everything else went terribly wrong.

Let’s start at the beginning, shall we? We decided to leave immediately after hubby got home from work Thursday evening, which left packing up (food, camp supplies, clothing, bedding, gear, etc.) to me. Normally, this is not a problem. With pregnant me, this is a problem. Yes, there were emotional and physical break downs. Finally, one groin strain later, a light-headed puke-y me pulls daddy’s big truck loaded to the gills out of the garage aaaaaand… KA-LUNK. Broken garage door. Sh&#%.

I manage to manually get the garage door shut and head over to my parents’ to hitch up a flat-bed trailer with an all-terrain “Ranger” vehicle loaded on it. There were issues there as well. I had to pull up the truck with 2 wheels on the sidewalk just to get the damn trailer hitch high enough to hitch. Hence: a good 45 minutes sprawled out on my parents’ couch with a tall glass of water to recover.

Hubby arrives, helps hitch up where I failed, and we’re on our way! Yay! Cool weather and friends here we come!

Picture this: it’s night time, on a very twisty, wind-y road switchbacking down a canyon, and the truck starts to rattle. Big time. “Is it the road? Hmmm….”  A mile later a whoosh alerts us to the fact that we’re screwed. Trailer tire completely stripped and blown out. Oh wait, where’s the fender? Yeah, that’s gone too, including the trailer lights on that side.


Hubby to the rescue! Wait, where’s the trailer-tire sized tire-wrench? Who knows, let’s just fish through our tool kit and Mickey Mouse this thing. (The process, not the result, people.)

On the road again…. (where’s my music notes emoji?).

We arrive at the last major township of civilization and rush to the grocery store, which is minutes from closing, to grab a few items I forgot back at home. We also meet up with our friends (HELLOOOOOO!!!!!!) who’ve been waiting for us in the parking lot of said township for way too long.

We finally get to the family cabin hours later than planned (past midnight) and settle in for the best weekend ever!! SO fun! So relaxing! Oh, the conversation! Oh, the memories! No major mishaps.

Well, there was the time I got myself locked in a bedroom for far longer than I appreciated; and the fact that we sort of broke the charger for the GPS; and hubby’s delicious spicy green chili gave three of the six of us wicked sheebs (digestional blow-outs); and there was the frigid downpour while driving the Ranger through muddy trails in the middle of no where, but good times. Best-weekend-ever.


Hubby was supposed to fix the leaking sink faucet that weekend, but he wisely refrained, knowing how all things mechanical were going for us so far.

When best-weekend-ever came to an end, we were all super sad to part. It went by way too fast! We said goodbye, hugged and hugged, and parted ways.

Ready for round two of our travel commute?

We head back to the nearest town and get two new, top quality tires on the trailer. (Thank you, spare tire! You did your duty!)

On the road again….

100 miles or so later: the rattle. The last time the truck got the shakes, the trailer tire blew to pieces, so we immediately pulled over. All four truck tires and the two new trailer tires seemed to be in perfect condition. Hmmmm…..

(insert potty break in wide open country with nothing to hide behind, but, I just couldn’t hold it in anymore.)

On the road again….

Once again, the shakes. So I called my dad. He gave us a few pointers on what to look for, but still nothing stood out as “wrong.” He assured us we’d probably be fine driving slow to the next town, where we could get them checked by professionals.

On the road again…. though 35 mph on the highway. “Thanks, Dad. Love you!” Hang up. 30 seconds. KA-BOOM! GRIND, GRIND, GRIND…..

This time, it was a truck tire, the huge, beefy kind. Mutilated. Not only that, but massive body damage to the back end/underside of the truck. That beefy tire decided if it was going to bite the dust, it would take out whatever it could with it.


I’ll work on getting a better pic of the body damage.

Hey, did you know that those huge trucks have special ways of storing their spare tire? Yeah, they’re underneath by the axel. But you don’t just unscrew some bolts to free it. There’s a magical “key” that goes into a small hole above the back bumper in which you slowly crank down the tire. That took us a half hour to finally figure out.

It’s hot (like over 100*F), we’ve pulled over just past a big bend in the road (so incoming traffic has almost no notice), and there’s my Super-Hero Husband a foot from speeding traffic melting in the Arizona sun changing the biggest tire I’ve ever touched. My kids are wailing that they want to get home. I’m holding back tears. Husband’s jaw has never been so tense. Prayers for days, people.


(Here’s a THANK HEAVENS! for my dad’s recent purchase: the world’s most awesome jack. At least lifting the truck and trailer were easy.)

Oh, did I mention that we were supposed to get home early because hubby had business to do for work? Yeah, so he was trying to get emails sent and calls made all while changing the second blow out in the scorching sun.

On the road again….

We stop at the next town, find the only tire place in the whole stinking county that sells the brand of tire we need, and get things squared away. “Freak manufacturer error,” according to the tire techs. So, at least hubby feels a little better that it wasn’t his fault. Oh, and the entire piece of body work from the back passenger door to the tailgate eventually needs to be replaced.

On the road again…..

I start cramping. Badly. Like painful contractions. Sweet Heavens, keep this baby in!  Hubby sighs, laughs, then says, “You know, giving birth in the car would be the icing on this cake, now wouldn’t it?”

We finally roll into my parents’ driveway. Dad comes out to assess and help, and while checking on the trailer hitch his brand new iPhone spills from his pocket and the screen shatters. Yep. We’re contagious.

We unload. I try to hose off the muddy Ranger, but instead my Dad takes charge of the hose and mumbles something about how he better take over from here. Probably didn’t want something else to fall into our Black Weekend trap.

Dear readers. Best-weekend-ever was also Worst-weekend-ever.

Yet, despite a seemingly endless trail of bad luck, we’re feeling pretty blessed that despite all this, we’re all home safe and healthy. Things could have turned out a lot differently. And I truly believe we were being watched over.  I think Heavenly Father must have a use for us down here on Earth.

Also, my husband is amazing. The best man on this planet. Sorry (not sorry) I scooped him up, ladies, but he’s mine forever.

And my dad is incredibly patient. And helpful. And (thank heavens) prepared.


Moral of the story: say your prayers.

Other moral of the story: when things start to go south, prepare yourself for the fact that bad things don’t always come in threes. They might come in sixes, or sevens, or twelves.

Third moral of the story: remember these moments, so when you get to heaven you remember to thank the Angels.


P.s. Good news: the garage wasn’t broken! It just needed to be re-set. Yay for super-hubby!

#PitMad Madness


For my fellow authors out there, you likely experienced the craziness that was #PitMad yesterday on twitter.

#PitMad happens a few times a year. This tweet fest was hosted by Brenda Drake. (Thanks, Brenda!) Authors tweet out super short pitches for their manuscripts in hopes that their pitch catches an agent’s or publisher’s eye. If your tweet gets “favorited” (starred), that means that the agent who did the favoriting is expecting an official query in his/her inbox.

Exciting, right? Tons of agents spending their whole thursday just perusing twitter and starring all over authors’ hopes and dreams! It’s like Christmas!!

Okay, not really.

In reality, over 30,000 pitch tweets went out yesterday. 30,000. Thirty-thousand. 30-freakin-K. So, the few (in comparison) agents who did happen to peruse twitter on lunch break or a set-aside moment, probably glimpsed a very small fraction of those #PitMad pitches.

I browsed agent’s twitter feeds this morning and my thoughts were confirmed. Though most said they would also take time today to browse a little more of yesterday’s pitches. Because, remember, 30,000+ tweets!!

I’m thinking they need to divvy up #PitMad into different sessions by genre. What do you think?

World War III


We might not survive this day, dear reader. It is World War III over here. Screaming toddler, sassy 5 year old, messes beyond the capabilities of FEMA, bribes, threats, revoked privileges, “time-in” that quickly escalated back to the old school time-out . . . all things I’m going to regret in the morning.

Today has not been my best day as a mother. And it’s barely noon. Somebody say a prayer – there’s a good chance mine are struggling to be heard over the scream-whining of my littles. I may be only one step above bed rest at the moment, but you’d think I could at least keep things recognizable.

I could tell you the whole story, but I think my husband’s response to my text sums it up nicely.

“As long as everyone’s breathing and not bleeding.”

What a trooper.

So you know what I did? 30 minutes ago I gave up. I took myself and my unborn child back to bed. The kids officially have free reign. My knives are out of their reach, the pool fence and back door are locked, and my bedroom door is open.

And guess what. By the time I got to this point in my blog post, the house is filled with sounds of toys being put back in their rightful place. My kids are getting along as they put the war to rights, probably signing a peace treaty as we speak.

This is totally not where I thought this post was going.

My conclusion? Either 1) an angel came by and whispered in their ears some heavenly, secret phrase that suddenly inspires obedience and responsibility; or 2) I was the problem.

Yeah, totally not where I thought this post was going.

Tractor Beam. Whhrrrrrrrhh.


Screen shot 2015-05-05 at 1.00.34 PM

Happy Cinco de Mayo compadres, amigos, y familia! I just spent 3 1/2 hours surfing the internet. It started as research for book II of my novel series. That lasted about 6 minutes. Then, for reasons unknown, it shifted to looking up Cinco de Mayo recipes and Mother’s day gifts–which is on Sunday, btw. (DON’T FORGET YOUR MOTHER! SHE BROUGHT YOU FORTH INTO THIS WORLD AND RAISED YOU IN THIS HELLA-CRAZY WORLD, AND BY GOLLY SHE DESERVES THE WORLD IN RETURN!)

Pinterest did it again. Tractor beam.

Will someone please tell me to get back to work?

On second thought, maybe my next post will be about an (as yet undetermined) adorable DIY mother’s day gift I hope I don’t botch. Because I have the best mom in the whole wide world. No, no, dear reader, don’t try to argue with me about your “world’s best mother.” You’ll lose. Really, and truly, you will lose.

Love you, mom.


Editing: it was the best of times, it was the worst of times.


Editing. Let the bloodbath begin.

Maybe “bloodbath” is a little harsh. But it’s Chris Pratt. So, it stays.

Now let me tell you what, editing sucks. It’s productive, it makes your writing so much better, it teaches lessons memorably, and it makes you feel that much closer to “I really really like this book!” But it also sucks. Big time. There’s often a very unhealthy does of self-pity, and (I am not above admitting) physical pain.

That said, there are different types of editing for a novel, which basically comes down to who is giving the feedback:

~ The family/friend beta reader: they just like reading and will give you pointers on plot, logistics, tone, and overall amateur-factor.

~The family/friend English major: a shameful experience overall. Good things come from this type of editing, though it might take a while to be able to look them in the eyes again.

~The friend-of-a-friend(-of-a-friend): great for getting an opinion less likely to be skewed by personal relationships or biases.

~The highly educated and philosophically-minded friend: be warned. This feedback can possibly screw with your mind. One moment you think they liked it and then the next moment they’ve convinced you to kill off a necessary main character, and make the bad guy the good guy. And they interpreted all of your characters’ motivations in perplexing ways which forces you to rethink every aspect of your novel. I’m not saying avoid this type of feedback (can be some of the most valuable!), I’m just giving you the heads-up, my friends.

~The Self: This is best done after a long break from your manuscript (minimum 2 weeks). And it wouldn’t hurt to read a handful of wonderfully (or terribly) written novels during that break.  My two best self-edits: 1) A read-through after 3 years away from the project, and 2) An edit round after reading a horribly, I mean horribly, written book that made me want to strangle the author with her own crazy-redundant dialogue and hyperboles. (The only reason I continued reading was because I knew the painful experience would help me edit my own manuscript.)

~The professional editor: this one is necessary. Also, this one huuuuurts. Not just because their great suggestions can sometimes mean a crap load of re-working. And not just because they can make you giddy one paragraph, then you shamefully melt into the floorboards the next. But it’s a lot harder to discuss the why behind their suggestions. Yeah, you can email back and forth a little, but they are busy people. They’re not going to write you four paragraphs on why that character is lame (to which you can argue defensively), they’re going to do it in one sentence. You can’t really argue with that. They get right down to the meat of the problem and tell you that such-and-such is lame. Or illogical. Or stupid. Or cliche. Then you have to fix it, send it back, and hope that your “fixes” adequately addressed both their concerns and your pride. Oh, and let’s not forget that when they point out the exact same mistake for the 37th time, you feel so secure in your English education. Folks, I now know how to properly type ellipses, to not type two spaces between sentences, and how to spell freaking “duffel.” Thank heavens for Find/Replace.

As of right now, I’m waiting to hear back from my editor for the second time. I sent her my newly revised manuscript–based off of her edits and suggestions–and am now second guessing nearly every plot/character “fix” I made.  Does my re-working of the lame-o character work? Did I increase the romantic tension enough? Did I miss a duffle duffel? And why the heck did I have to write duffel so many times in the first place?

So, pray for me, guys. It just might be another bloodbath.



p.s. If my editor is reading this, please ignore the word “bloodbath” and insert “enlightening, improving, & informative experience.”  I’m smiling super cute right now!

I’m baaack! With a big announcement!


You totally think I’m announcing a book deal, don’t you? Come on, feed my ego.

Dr.Seuss explains pregnancy!

Honestly, I have no idea if this was really written by the good doc, but it is quite funny.

And guess what guys . . . Yup. I’m pregnant. Prego. A bun is in this oven. I am in the family way. (That was for all you regency readers.) No longer do I ride the crimson wave. I can’t believe I just typed that.

And that, dear ladies and gentlemen, is why I have been absentee for a few months. See, I do not handle pregnancy very well. For four months, I’ve been in bed, not speaking, barely eating, and dreaming of the day that I can sleep longer than twenty minutes without waking up nauseated. You’d think this would give me plenty of time to blog! Alas, sitting upright staring at a screen makes the nauseated feeling worse. Which includes TV. I sure hope you feel bad for me right now. My kids are usually with grandmas, my husband is at work, and here I am. Wallowing. On a sunny note: both of my kids were born healthy and beautiful, and are growing up to be amazing and wonderful little humans. I love my children! So much! I have so much to look forward to! [Okay, if I’m being honest, one of my kids was born beautiful. My son might have resembled Benjamin Button for a few months.]

I’m starting to feel a little better (at halfway through this pregnancy, it’s about stinking time). I can talk without puking, I can watch TV lying down, and I was even able to edit my manuscript over the past two weeks and send it off to my editor for round two. Pat me on the back, will ya?

Hopefully, you’ll be seeing a lot more of me. I think I’m baaaaaack!


P.s. Prayers and chips & salsa would be cherished and appreciated.