Our Pages

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Just Say NO to Shopping on Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving!!!

I hope you're all surrounded by loved ones on this chilly Thanksgiving Day. I cherish the holiday season because there's a heightened focus on family and friends. It's a warm and fuzzy time of year when we stop to take stock of the many blessings we have in our lives. But if you watch any television at all...things seem to have changed. Lately, almost every store has been touting their "Thanksgiving Day Shopping Hours."

A Facebook friend posted that he'd heard there was an actual name for it now...Brown Thursday.

Really? Come on, people.

I realize that many Americans have to work on Thanksgiving day at one point or another because society does need to function.  Nurses, doctors, fireman, and policeman...just to name a few...these folks spend much of their Thanksgiving Day working to help other Americans.

But Macy's? Wal-Mart? Best Buy?

Is this what our society has come to? Turning Thanksgiving Day into a bargain shopping opportunity.
Ew. Just ew.

I realize money is tight. Believe me, I do. But is a great deal worth stuffing oneself into a line on Thanksgiving Day to jostle with other desperate shoppers to get a nine thousand inch television set?

I'm sorry but, for me, it goes against the very spirit of the holiday. Thanksgiving should be a time to stop and give thanks for all of the lovely gifts we're given.

And I don't mean perfume or a car or an obnoxiously large television.

I'm talking about family, friends, good health, or a warm bed to sleep in.

I realize that this post might offend some people. Sorry. I'm simply stating my feelings on the subject and shopping on Thanksgiving day just feels wrong. A little shopping online, well that's one thing, but leaving your family to stand in a line for hours on end....no thanks.

I will be taking stock of the many blessings I have and the biggest blessing of all is my family.

I wish you and yours a safe and happy Thanksgiving Day.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Nothing Says Love Like Pies by Suzan Butler

First off, I want to say thank you to the lovely ladies of Lady Scribes for having me on their blog. It’s always a blast coming here and getting to talk to people.

Second… I have confession to make… Hi there. I’m Suzan Butler, and I have an addiction to pies.

Now I’m not a huge cooking aficionado. I’m not a chef. But I do love me some pie.  And I always have this thing about assigning a favorite pie to a character. It gives me insight into their personality. I assign them certain types of underwear too, but that’s a completely different post and possibly not the most appropriate, so today let’s stick with pies, okay?

With Thanksgiving in the US tomorrow, I thought it might be a good topic to do the pies. So here we go… in no particular order… My top three favorite pies, and the heroes they make me think of.

Chocolate Pie
This one is kinda like a mousse. It’s smooth, and creamy. This is my oldest’s favorite. He’s still under the crazy impression that pies are awful and horrible things.

Chocolate pie reminds me of one of the secondary characters in Heart and Snow, Gavin Ferrara because he’s a smooth talking Italian.  Maybe I’ll have to indulge in some chocolate pie when I start writing his book. You know, for research… of course.

Pumpkin Pie
This pie has been a staple in my house for many years. My youngest, my spunky red-head, adores this one, and it’s been mandatory for us to have one practically since he was born. I used to have this pie. Actually, when I was a kid, I hated all pies, because they were called pies. It wasn’t until I was much older than my kids that I finally tried pies, and the pumpkin pie landed in my top five.

I’d say Darren, from Off Her Game, is probably the hero most like a pumpkin pie. He’s sweet, but he’s not without a little spice. Not too much that it ruins the taste, but just enough to warm you up.

Pecan Pie
Since both my kids decided that they hated nuts (crazy kids!), I get to have this one all to myself… Well, almost. I still have to share with the other adults at the table.


Anyway, this pie is special in a lot of ways for me. It’s the first pie I ever made by myself, and it wasn’t completely inedible. Anyone who knows me well knows I’m not a cook. I’m not even close to being a good cook. It just wasn’t a skill that I ever could do. I think that’s why this pie stays special to me. Because I actually managed an edible version.

Pecan pie makes me think of Cody, the hero in my new release, Heart and Snow.  Because he was absolutely the sweetest guy I ever wrote. So sickeningly sweet, but I couldn’t get enough of him. He’s got that crispy outside, which keeps the sweet inside protected.

My hockey players always have that rough exterior. It’s part of the game, but they always find the right women that are able to pull out that sweet center. I live for that, love it, actually.  That’s the part that is always the most fun to write, and the tastiest.

I might need to start getting someone to make these pies for me. I’m making myself hungry here. So I’m stop here, and leave this awesomely tasty pecan pie recipe from my friend Hailey Edwards, who was nice enough to let me share it.

1 Unbaked Single Pie Crust

4 medium eggs, lightly beaten
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon bourbon
1 cup light corn syrup
2 tablespoons butter or margarine, melted
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup chopped pecans

1/3 cup brown sugar
3 tablespoons butter or margarine
3 tablespoons honey
1 1/2 cup pecan halves

Prepare crust as directed. Do not bake. Heat oven to 350.

For filling, combine eggs, 1/4 cup brown sugar, granulated sugar, salt, corn syrup, 2 Tbs. butter, bourbon, vanilla, and nuts. Mix well. Spoon into unbaked pie shell with high fluted edge. Bake for 15 minutes. Cover edge of pastry with foil. Bake 25 minutes. Remove from oven. 

For topping, combine 1/3 cup brown sugar, 3 Tbs. butter, and honey in medium saucepan. Cook 2-3 minutes on medium heat until sugar is dissolved and butter is melted. Remove from heat. Add nuts. Stir until coated. Spoon evenly over pie. Cover edge of pastry with foil. Bake 10-20 minutes or until topping is bubbly and golden brown. Cool to room temperature before serving. refrigerate leftovers.

Do you have a favorite pie? If you don't like pie, what dessert do you prefer?

Blurb for Heart and Snow:

Star goalie Cody Baker has the life he’s always dreamed of since he was a child. Not only does he get to play hockey in the national league, he managed to marry the perfect woman to support his dream. But now his wife is pregnant, his long-absent father wants to reconnect, and just like that, Cody loses control of the game.

Babies are the furthest thing from Josephina Baker’s mind. Thanks to failed birth control, Jo’s perfect life is in tatters. Bye-bye overseas vacations. So long, wild, sheet-scorching nights after road trips. Adieu lovely evenings out with the girls. Hello, morning sickness, long sleepless nights, and dirty diapers.

Spending the holidays with family only strains their already stressed relationship. Their red-hot marriage is as cold as snow lately and only the fire in their hearts can thaw it out.

Author Bio:

Suzan Butler is a contemporary romantic fiction author with a penchant for Dr. Pepper, ice hockey, and world domination.

She lives in Texas under a not-so-secret identity with two monsters, writing books and planning the next step in her evil plans into the twilight hours of the night because that’s when it’s quiet in the house.  If you’d like to receive news in your email about what Suzan’s got going on, sign up for her mailing list.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

It's All About Love

love (306x800)

What do you do if the male of your desires is a little… shy? Corner him!!!

love at first sight

And if that doesn’t work out very well, get your girlfriend to help you out. :)

females interested (800x628)

Hope everyone who celebrates is looking forward to Thanksgiving with family and friends. I'm at my son and DIL and had fun visiting their zoo yesterday.

Are you feeling the love???
Happy Thanksgiving!

“Giving new meaning to the term alpha male where fantasy IS reality.”

Monday, November 25, 2013

The Best-Laid Plans...

Write what you know and know what you write.  As an author, I’ve heard that my entire life.  But some things, the things that are the hardest to write about, are the things you know the best. They’re also the hardest things to share with the world because they’re so personal. You have to go to a place in your heart you don’t like to visit and tap into something you’d rather forget.

I encountered that very thing this past year as I was writing my Christmas-set novella A Bit of Mistletoe (which can be found in the recently released A PACT BETWEEN GENTLEMEN). I had every intention of writing a happy, fluffy Christmas story, until I realized my heroine wasn’t one who could ever be free enough from her past to be as light-hearted as all that – Christmas or not.

I could have scrapped that idea and started over with someone else; but in my heart I really, REALLY wanted Miss Theresa Birkin to have a happy-ever-after. Tessie deserved a happy-ever-after. She deserved so much more than she’d received up to that point. She isn’t so much my most flawed heroine as she is my most careful. She’s had no choice but to be so, however. You see, she made the mistake of falling for a rake and ruined her life in the process. 

I know what that feels like. To make decisions based on promises and then have the rug and my carefully planned life ripped out from beneath me.  And I’m intimately familiar with silver-tongued liars.  Don’t get me started!

The catalyst for the Christmas Pact Anthology collection (A PACT BETWEEN GENTLEMEN and A GENTLEMEN’S PACT) is that 6 gentlemen make a pact to remain bachelors after the death of their friend. You see, Lord Arrington, their friend (of the philandering silver-tongued variety) was caught cheating by his wife and then promptly murdered by her with the help of her fire poker. The 6 gentlemen in question feel the best way to avoid the same end to their lives is to simply to avoid marriage in the first place.  But you know what they say about the best-laid plans (or pacts, as the case may be)…

I posted the dedication to this book on my Facebook page the day the book was released, but I’d like to share it here as well…

For every woman out there who has been cheated on or abandoned ~ A few years ago, my husband of 12 years told me he was leaving me for another woman. I know I’m not a novelty in that regard, but when you’re going through a situation like that, you certainly feel like you are. So as unseemly as it is to admit, I do feel a little kinship for Lady Arrington and her fire iron. While I could never harm anyone myself, I certainly understand the emotions that could lead one to that place.
At the time, I had some wonderful friends who promised to help me hide the body should I decide to “knock him off” (in jest, of course). But their friendship, their commiseration, their support helped me through the most difficult time in my life, and I will always love them for it. Every woman should be as lucky to have such wonderful, devoted, and loyal friends.  Had Lady Arrington had friends like mine, I’m certain she wouldn’t have ended up in Newgate Prison.
I am here to say, however, that as hard as it is to believe when you’re recovering from that sort of betrayal, there really are some decent and truly good men out there. I am honored to know a number of them. And after rising from my ashes, I am very fortunate to have found an honorable hero of my own.  
Though Lord Berkswell isn’t the soft, cuddly sort – and flawed, though he is - Berks is decent and a truly good man who cares for and loves his family with all his heart. I hope you’ll love him as much as I do.
  ~ Ava

I am a baby, in that every time I read that dedication I cry. I hate to admit that, but it's true. Try as I might, I can never forget the betrayal and utter shock that went through me when my then-husband told me he was leaving me and for whom - a woman I knew, a woman I'd had at my house for holidays and graduations, a woman I never would have suspected was that sort of woman.

Because I had been through that particular situation, it made me anxious to give Tessie Birkin a well-deserved happy ever after, but it also hurt a little to write, getting into her head, feeling her emotions. She'd been betrayed and I knew exactly what that felt like. Tapping into that emotion can be painful, but also a bit cathartic too. Still, it had to be done. Good people don't always get happy endings in real life, but as an author of fiction, I can certainly make sure that good characters get the ending they deserve. (Bad ones too for that matter, though that's cathartic in a different way.)

Have you ever REALLY identified with a character in a book?

Friday, November 22, 2013

Romance Ramblings: Planning for Thanksgiving + Giveaway!

During this week's Romance Ramblings, Jerrica calls Ava a "baby woman" more than once and lives to tell the tale. They talk voting, cynical teenagers, planning for Thanksgiving, and bedside manner.
Today's preparing for Thanksgiving question - How many place settings do you have? One lucky commenter will win an audio copy of Jerrica's THe WARY WIDOW. 

Thursday, November 21, 2013

I've been a little distra--squirrel!

Holy tic tacs, I have been so distracted lately. I don't know what it is--I want to finish this book, I do. I love the characters and cannot wait to share their story. 

Only, apparently, I don't want to write it. *gasp!*

I don't want to read. I don't want to cook. I don't want to clean. And sure as all hotness in Hades do NOT want to referee anymore fights between my beasts!

All I want to do is snuggle in my massive bed and watch my magic box. 

No, not the TV. 

My Roku box. 

It's magic at my fingertips!

I blame the writers. Yep. I do. If they didn't write episodes they way they do, I wouldn't be so drawn to the boob tube. See? It's totally legit.

 For example, I don't care if some fans think it's jumped the shark, I will watch Supernatural until it is no more. And thanks to Netflix, I can watch Dean, er, Supernatural, over and over. And over. 

Yep, it's totally the storyline that holds my attention.

And have you seen American Horror Story?!

It's dark and violent and spooky--that's almost a love story for me! Jessica Lange, Kathy Bates, and Angela Bassett are amazing in their roles and I simply cannot stop watching.

Another show driving me to distraction?

Sleepy Hollow. Is it just me, or is Icabod kinda smokin' in all that wit and sarcasm?

I'd totally play the part of that skull.

Last but not least is my boy, Grimm.
For a while there, I wanted someone to slap the taste out of Juliette's mouth. Now I'm intrigued by the developing relationship between the Grimm and the Royal (his boss!). 

He's a little intense.

See why I'm so distracted?!And don't even get me started on Game of Thrones and True Blood!

Clearly, the darker and grittier, the better for me. What shows do you find draw you in, pulling you away from the things you should be doing?

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

A Thanksgiving Either . . . Or Game!

I thought it would be fun, since Thanksgiving is just next week (Ack!) to play the Either . . . Or game, holiday style!

Either  Home for the Holidays . . . Or . . . Traveling to visit Family or for Fun?


Either . . . . In the Bird . . . Or . . . In a casserole dish?

Either . . . .Traditional Pie . . . Or . . . Cake or something different?

After Dinner?
Either . . . Football . . . . Or . . . Movies?

What are your Thanksgiving traditions?  I'll start us off with my answers.

Travel--For the past 10 years or so, we've stayed home for Thanksgiving.  I cook dinner and my sister helps out with sides.  I admit I'm ready to try something new.  Family is too far for a short visit, but I'd love to go out one year or, like my neighbors do every year--plan a fun and adventurous vacation.

Turkey--I usually roast the turkey. We don't have a fryer…I've never even tried the fried kind.  One year, though, we were in the midst of a home improvement project and I put a turkey breast in the crockpot.  It turned out great--so tender!

Stuffing--None of my boys eat it, so I usually just make a small dish on the side for my sister and me.  Of course, it has to be homemade and similar to my Grandma's recipe!

Dessert--Valiant Husband loves apple pie.  Eldest loves pumpkin. Youngest doesn't eat either, so I sometimes end up making cookies or something for him too.

After Dinner--Neither of the above.  Valiant Husband will watch a bit of football, but the rest of us usually sit around in a turkey coma, play games and start our Christmas lists.

Now, your turn!

Monday, November 18, 2013

Oz Pulls Back the Curtains--Where I Work

I think as my life becomes more chaotic--overlapping deadlines on my book series, a day job that has turned into Insanity Central, the holidays coming up--I've been overcompensating by trying to reorganize my work spaces, both in my home office where I write and my office-office where I try to survive the day job. Both had descended into a cluttered mess.

(Of course, I could also be procrastinating, but at least I'll have a neat work space!)

I'm starting to make a little progress, so I thought I'd share a little of my space here. It will forever be cluttered--clean desk, empty mind, I always say--but that's the way I roll. As long as the clutter has a purpose, I'm okay with that.

Here we go....

Join me on Chickasaw Avenue (which lies between Choctaw and Cheyenne and next to Iroquois...see a pattern here?), where the leaves are finally starting to turn and the college students across the street see no reason to actually use their driveway when they can park on the street.

Brain trust central. My computer is actually a Macbook Pro. I run it closed, so it's that silver thing off to the left. I have my big monitor, a microphone for whenever I try to do a podcast (that thing that looks like it came from George Jetson's house), a superdrive, and two external hard drives hooked up to it, and use a wireless keyboard and mouse. When I need to travel, I just unplug the peripherals, grab the Macbook and go. Oh, and the ever-present bottle of Powerade Zero and a hunky model photo for inspiration.

Next to my chair are one of six sets of floor-to-ceiling built-in bookshelves (48 shelves total and, yes, they were THE reason I bought this house). In this set of shelves are reference books for my New Orleans urban fantasy series, so you see lots of stuff on Jean Lafitte and Louis Armstrong and Katrina. There are also general writing references on one shelf, writing-related magazines on another, and, of course, the six or seven shelves that include TBR pile spillover.

Speaking of which, here is one of the 30 shelves currently holding (barely) the TBR Mountain--note that each shelf is stacked three books deep. It's insane. And it's why I'm trying to move some along. How many have I actually read? Maybe...5 percent? It's a sickness. I have good intentions.

On the back side of my desk (which is actually a large square wooden table) is my "studio." So half of the desk has my computer and writing stuff, and the other half, with its own chair, is where I piddle around with artwork. I do digital and physical scrapbooking, and am starting to do more simple illustrations and art journaling. (Obviously, I'm about ten ranks below amateur but it is therapeutic.)

My most recent scrapbooking page; in her younger days, my dog Shane's favorite "toy" was an empty plastic bottle. It's a long story.

A girl can't draw without her case full of Sakura pens. Right?

And, of course, one needs artwork and doodads for inspiration, such as a "piggy bank" in the shape of an old typewriter, or....

A piece of painted clapboard from a New Orleans artist, or....

A painting of Jean Lafitte's Blacksmith Shop, or....

A nice assortment of Mardi Gras goodies, like this "Boeuf Gras," a prized throw from the Boeuf Gras float in the Krewe of Rex parade.

And there you have it. I still have piles of stuff to organize, but I'm getting there. It's sort of spring cleaning come early.

Do you get on a cleaning and organizing tear when the seasons change....or just as a means of procrastination? Tell me a favorite organization tip (or just leave a comment) to win a set of three mystery books from that horrendous TBR Mountain of mine! (They're all different genres, although most have a paranormal element to them.)

Friday, November 15, 2013

Romance Ramblings: An Homage to Film Noir + Giveaway!!

This week during Romance Ramblings, Ava and Jerrica discuss worst/best Christmas gifts, projects for the new year, and Ava's impending sainthood (thank you, Christi Caldwell.)

What is the worst gift YOU've ever received?

Subscribe to my YouTube channel  - and comment below for a chance to win a GREAT GIFT - the audiobook edition of Ava Stone's A SCANDALOUS PAST!

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Pending Apocalypse

If you follow me on Facebook it’s no secret I am obsessed with the show The Walking Dead, which is really quite strange considering I hate gory movies of any kind. It isn't the zombies that I’m fascinated with but instead it’s the characters of the show, and the revelation of just how humankind reacts in extreme situations. It’s quite revealing to say the least. We never know what we’re capable of until we’re placed in that situation.
But the characters of this show are so multifaceted and three dimensional that writers should really pay attention.They truly seem to come alive each Sunday night. Each character is flawed and each contributes to the group in some form or another. I won’t name them all but here are some examples of my favorite characters.
 Rick Grimes is a small town sheriff who wakes from a coma into an apocalyptic world. It’s really been interesting to watch his transition from a man who still clings to his moral code in an increasingly horrifying world to a leader who must make inhumane choices. He brings a sense of honor to the group and although he loses it temporarily after the death of his wife, the audience still sees him struggle through right and wrong.
Daryl Dixon is an adept survivalist, a biker, and a general redneck. His trek from the unemotional outcast into the binding aspect of the group has been fascinating to say the least. The least likely leader becomes the glue of the group. His survival skills are what has kept the group alive so far but it’s his loyalty to those he loves that’s kept the audience in their seats.
Carol Peletier has the most unique and challenging character arc to date. Carol is a woman whose endured an abusive husband and a mother in the first season, and transitioned into the most hard-core adaptive character in the show. She’s evolved into a strong woman who does what needs to be done.
Hershel Greene offered the group asylum in the second season at his farm and becomes the moral compass of the group. As a recovering alcoholic and a man of faith, he has become the last vestiges of humanity in a frightening chapter of this new life. He has a strong ethical code and his wisdom and experience as a veterinarian has saved the group on numerous occasions.
Now as we near the end of the fourth season I've begun to see that the traits you would normally assume would be needed to survive in the apocalyptic world, aren't always the traits that really contribute to the group. Survival skills can be learned . Most of these characters didn't even know how to shoot a gun in episode one. In fact one of the characters named Andrea didn't even know how to take the safety off her pistol. Interestingly, she learned and became one of the most proficient marksmen by the end of last season. So survival skills are much like writing skills, it’s a muscle you can train and work out once you learn how to do it properly.
But what differentiates between life and death or better yet, sanity versus madness, comes from your own personal character traits. And the list is so long. Each of us have something we can contribute to the group. For example: Morality, faith, comedic relief (you would be surprised how much laughter can heal a tattered soul) caution, confidence, courage. All of these and more can be considered contributions to your group. How about a good listener? How many of us will need that shoulder to lean on? Gentleness. How appreciative of a gentle touch would you be if you were wounded? Clever. We could use some clever, crafty ideas during the apocalypse, right? And while we’d all like to think we’re leaders, let’s face it we’re going to need those who follow directions well. (I have to admit I will be a follower in this make-believe apocalypse honestly. There is no way I would even know what to do should the world collapse.)
I think my greatest contribution would be that I am dutiful. Give me a task to do and it’ll get done. And I’d like to think I’m pretty strong and good nurturer, despite that I can’t cook. But that's a whole different blog post there. So while we’re celebrating excellent character traits for our pretend Pending Apocalypse what trait do you have that would be a huge contribution to your group?

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Thank You, Veterans!

Recently I asked for help with a blog topic on FB because I was stumped.  This wasn’t the first time I couldn’t come up with something to say and it won’t be the last. Melody May suggested: “You could do a character interview with the guys of the book, Favorite Thanksgiving Food. Talk about favorite holiday memory. Or favorite holiday reads, might as well start gearing up for the holidays.”

I couldn’t get organized enough to do the interview with the gentlemen from the latest anthology I am a part of, and we did favorite Thanksgiving dishes last Thursday.  I am not sure I am ready to address a favorite holiday memory right now because this is the first year my mother is not in her home, but in a facility for dementia patients. I anticipate this will be a difficult year, and I am trying to put off thinking about it. As for reads, I haven’t even had a chance to check out the latest holiday books because I am on deadline with a slew of edits facing me for my Christmas read due out December 1st.

So, I am a failure with all suggestions.  But, thanks for the excellent choices, Melody, and since you were the only one to give me suggestions, you did win "A Pact Between Gentlemen" for your reading pleasure.

I considered posting about my latest non-writing project, which put me in the mind of Veterans.  My latest project is directing "A Piece of My Heart". It is a play written by Shirley Lauro and suggested by the book by Keith Walker. I had read the book before I realized it was also a play.  The book is about 26 women who served in Vietnam as nurses, WACs, part of the Red Cross and performers.  I did post about this book last year, and I’ve read it a few times since.  A few weeks ago, I held auditions for the 6 female/2 male cast and am beyond thrilled with who showed up for auditions and who I cast. We begin rehearsals on Monday, and I can’t wait to get started.

Working on this project has me thinking a lot about Veterans and the sacrifices they make every single day and as yesterday was Veteran’s Day, I thought to discuss the book and play, etc.  However, my thought process shifted. 

Yesterday, many of the kids were off school, most banks were closed and there was no mail.  I had to work at my day job, but there was a very nice parade downtown that I was able to watch from my office window. It always saddens me to see how few turn out for the Veteran’s Parade.    

I am the first to admit that I am not a parade goer. Even when they are on the weekends and I don't have to work, I don't attend.  So, I am just as guilty for what I will probably be ranting about and I have had to take a good look at myself and wonder where my priorities have been.

The office where I work is at the corner of two main intersections downtown and every time there is a parade it will travel by our building. As we are a corner office, we always stand at the conference room window on the fourth floor and watch.  It is an awesome view and much better than street level.  The Santa Parade is always the day after Thanksgiving when we don’t have to work. But, if it is bitterly cold out, families will bring their children to the office to watch without the fear of frostbite.

There are parades for any number of occasions, such as St. Patrick’s Day.  I am a huge fan of March 17th. I have drank my fair share of green beer, Jameson, Bushmill and my all-time favorite whisky – Tullamore Dew.  Even though I am a wine drinker, if someone offered me a Pinot Grigio or Tullamore Dew and I could only have one, I would choose Tullamore Dew. I am sure I just heard a few gasps that Jane would choose an Irish Whisky over wine, but it is true.

But, this post isn’t about alcohol. It is about what we celebrate and how we celebrate.  More to the point - How I celebrate. Take the St. Patrick’s Day parade for example.  This is always a huge event, at least in my town. I’ve watched the parade from the conference room for years and it never fails that there are so many people that sometimes the parade has to stop until people are pushed far enough back to make room. It doesn’t help that the route is lined with bars that open very early on this day and people just spill out into the streets. I usually stop in somewhere for a drink at the end of the day since it seems like the entire town has been partying without me for several hours.  

I have nothing against this parade, but what saddens me is that both the Santa Parade and St. Patrick's Parade draws five times the crowd that the Veteran’s Parade does.  They all have bands and people tossing candy.  Why aren’t we celebrating and honoring those heroes who put their lives on the line to protect us and this country with the same enthusiasm we do for Santa or St. Patrick? 

Why don't I?

I’ve never served but I have several family members who have.  My father was in the Army, my husband served as a Marine, my nephew served as a Marine, I have two nephews in the Air Force and my son recently joined the Army Guard and will enter training this summer. For most of my life there have been wars and conflicts around the world.  I grew up with the Vietnam War on the nightly news. My cousin, a Marine, was killed in Vietnam and received the Silver Star posthumously.

Men and women serving know the danger they are facing when they repeat the oath and are sworn into the armed forces.  They know there is a chance that one day they will be in a foreign country, or possibly here, putting their lives on the line so that we can hang stockings for Santa, drink green beer each March 17th, and continue to attend parades.

As I watched the parade go by yesterday, and noticed how few people attended, I vowed that I will not miss a Veteran's Day Parade again, especially if I do not have to be at the office.  A lady I work with posted on FB that it was sad to see the low attendance and many people responded that they had to work.  After several such responses she pointed out that on St. Patrick's day many people have to work but it doesn't stop hundreds of people from attending. And she is right.  I am a bit ashamed that I have not attended the parade in the past and vow to do so in the future. It is the least I can do.  What is a few hours of my time spent honoring those men and women when they have sacrificed so much more than I can begin to comprehend?

For each and every Veteran out there, I raise my glass in a toast to your honor. Thank you so very much for making the sacrifice to protect this country and her residents.

Does your town have a Veteran's Day parade?

Monday, November 11, 2013

25 Weeks

At 20 weeks four days pregnant, I was placed on bedrest due to pre-term labor complications in my twin pregnancy.  At that appointment, I was given a dire report by a dire doctor who I haven’t gone back to see. You see, by nature, I’m a pessimist. I’ve always believed the worst will happen. I don’t need a doctor who is a pessimist. I need a realist with a healthy dose of optimism. I found that in my regular OB.

I digress; being on bedrest, you do a lot of thinking. A. LOT. If you aren’t very creative and surrounded by an amazing support network, well then your mind can go down dark paths that fill you with fears of what can happen…all things beyond your control. But as I lay on my couch, alone, I retraced my pregnancy.

From the moment I conceived, I didn’t believe this miracle would happen to me. I had regular bleeding which couldn’t be explained.

Then there was the night, at 9 weeks pregnant when I woke up covered in blood, sobbing the words; “I’m losing them.” I spent the night in the hospital and waited what was only hours but may as well have been a lifetime to hear two strong, beautiful heartbeats…And to be told, that I had a large subchorinic hemotoma, greater than 50% of one of the gestational sacs. The risk: I would pass the clot but because of its enormity, it would/could pull out one or both babies. They said hopefully it would be just one. I sat numbly; no. I don’t want one. I want both. I loved them both. There was no consolation in thinking one might survive and the other might not. We, from conception, had become a team. These were my daughters. My warriors. We three cannot be separated. So I was placed on bedrest for the first time. I tried to lose myself in positivity and prayer and all things good. And miraculously the clot dissolved.

Through it all…it’s been a struggle. There hasn’t been one week where I sighed and relaxed and just…just was me, a pregnant woman blissfully happy. I’ve been a blissfully happy pregnant woman filled with fear.

At 20 weeks four days, we were told the strong likelihood of losing our girls. From then on, I lied on my couch and wrote. I wrote a lot. I ticked each day off, counting down to viability and beyond.

21 weeks wasn’t enough. We needed more time.

At 22 weeks, I crossed the week off my calendar but knew we needed still more time.

At 23 weeks, they began to feel suddenly real, in a way they hadn’t before.

At 24 weeks, they became even more real.

At 25 weeks, I began to realize that what had seemed at one time intangible was so very close. My cervix is failing, but they are still ‘cooking’…and every day is a victory.

The things I’d put off out of fear and numbed hopelessness; the nursery, the baby clothes, the double EVERYTHING, the names…are finally things I can wrap my mind around and believe they’ll be real.

Alas, I waited too long. I can’t shop. I can’t do much of anything, really.

What I can do is dream of two perfect names for my princess warriors. They can no longer be simply Baby A and Baby B. They deserve more than that.

So here I turn to you for ideas. What names can you come up with for these two miracles who continue to defy the odds?