Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Johnny Cash And Thanksgiving Blessings

Most of us will be giving thanks tomorrow for the many blessings in our lives as we sit around the table with family. I’m blessed to be sitting at that table with my whole family. My Dad and sister will be among the many gathered. Growing up my Dad would blast music, usually country, from the kitchen radio as we cooked and prepared our meal. We’d use spoons as microphones and when my Dad belted out the latest Johnny Cash song, my sister and I would add the background vocals as we danced around. My mom could cook through anything, even our crazy antics. She’d smile and laugh at us and never once tell us we were too loud or silly. I have great memories of being in the kitchen with family, and of listening to Johnny Cash. So I thought it was appropriate to share this video as I wish everyone a Happy and Blessed Thanksgiving.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Prince Charming Is Not Dead, Just Hiding Under Some Warty Skin


Happily Ever After. The words made me swoon every time as a child. I loved any story that started with Once upon a time, and ended with Happily ever after. Handsome royalty swept in to save the day on white horses and toads turned to princes with a kiss. My mom would see the glazed look I got in my eye after reading one of these stories and she would tell me, “You know, love is not like that”. But I pushed those words away and went off in search of my prince.

First, I need to let you in on a secret. I’ve kissed a few toads, and after waiting for way too long, I realized they were really just toads. That’s okay, because they informed me I was no princess. Guess, it wasn’t meant to be.

I’m going to skip to the end of my story and tell you I found my prince. I didn’t want to keep you in suspense. I couldn’t’ do that, I’m a romance writer. I came to realize, finally, that  Prince Charming is not dead, but just hiding under some warty skin. I also came to realize that I really am not the perfect princess either. So a flawed princess and a warty Prince Charming seem to be the perfect match in my book.

Having said all that I’d like to share a few toad kissing tips I learned along the way. If you’re still searching you might find them helpful.

Tip 1- When finding toads look in places that interest you. The toad at the bottom of the dumpster might not be your cup of tea, try the library instead.

Tip 2- If you find your toad sticks around even when say, you’re looking like the wicked witch of the west, he deserves a chance at a kiss.

Tip 3- If  you find yourself talking non-stop about anything and everything to your toad and he doesn’t hop away, again, probably a keeper.

Tip 4- If  your toad has the ability to catch his own flies and isn’t still residing in the dugout of his parents, this bodes well for the ability of this toad to turn into a prince.

Tip 5- If your toad is always up in your face trying to  convince you what a great catch he is, he probably is, for a toad.

Tip 6- If you ever find a toad that tries to cover up his warts, keep on walking. You want a toad that can admit he has a few warts, don’t we all?

The bottom line is this, none of us are perfect and there is no perfect love. But we all deserve to be swept off our feet, just realize the person doing the sweeping isn’t some perfect Prince Charming. He’s just some guy, trying really hard to make you happy. To love you the best way he knows how. And sometimes he’ll turn back into that toad for brief moments. The true test is, does he remain a toad or with a sweet kiss does he become that prince again?

As a writer I try to make sure my hero has some warts, and my heroine some flaws. I’d like to think of my stories as “almost happily ever after”, because sometimes love isn’t all happy moments. And, really, wouldn’t we get bored if it were?

Monday, November 14, 2011

Love Conquers All Things, Even The Porta Potty

I’m training for the MS 150 bike ride from Houston to Austin. I’ve decided it will be a bonding experience for my husband and I. He has done it twice already, while I stood on the side-lines and cheered him on. This time I want to take part. I think it will make us stronger as a couple. We will face the challenges of the ride together and our love will blossom even more. That and I want the darn t-shirt that tells the world I did it!
I am completely unfazed that I haven’t really ridden a bike in 12 years. Doesn’t matter that I don’t even have a road bike yet to ride on. I’m not sure I can ride a mile, much less 150 miles. I’m pretty sure I am very out of shape, no I know, I am out of shape. The fact that I will have to “clip in” (bike shoes that clip onto your pedal) scares me to death. All of that I can overcome, if I set my mind to it. But that dang porta potty, that coffin of human waste, I’m not sure I can overcome that.

I have anxiety about small spaces. Not a phobia, so much as a strong dislike. Porta potties are small, usually hot and dark, which exasperates the problem. I’m also a very visual person. I see an image and it pastes itself into my minds eye forever. So as I hover over the hole of other peoples sewage, people I don’t even know,  I invariably get a view I’d care never to see. That picture is now forever in my head and will pop up at the most inopportune times, like when I’m sitting down to eat a filet mignon with creamy mashed potatoes and some chocolate cake for dessert. You get the idea, right?

Not to mention the smell. Why would anyone willingly walk into a hot shoebox of a space that smells like the feed lots of Dalhart, Texas. At least the feed lots are the “smell of money”, porta potties do not have such a distinction. They just stink and they make me gag. It doesn’t help that for us females our anatomy requires us to spend more intimate time with the porta potty, no quickies there. And one last thing. Why on earth would you design a toilet in such a small space where the urinal is right at nose level with the actual toilet space? Do I have to look at that while I’m trying my hardest not throw up as it is?

I’ll be making sure I drink lots and lots of fluids so I don’t get dehydrated and fall off my bike. And we all know what happens  when we drink lots of fluids. So for every training ride leading up to the 150 mile ride and for the ride itself the only choice I will have for a bathroom break will be the porta potty. I won’t be able to just hold it or wait for a big tree to squat behind.  I will have to face the dreaded porta potty. And honestly, for 38 years I have avoided all events that required me to use a porta potty and so this is huge. This is how much I love my husband. I love him so much that I will face my nemesis. I will stare down the porta potty and I will survive. All in the name of love.

Have you done something amazing for love? But more importantly, can you use a porta potty without gagging? Because if you can I’d like some tips on how to do it.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

When A Soldier Is Wounded…

I try to imagine what it would be like to send my husband off to work and know that while he is away he will be putting himself in danger. He may not come home alive. Thousands of women face this each year as they send their soldier husbands off to areas in our world that need defending. They put their life on the line to protect our freedoms and liberties. Because they do their job, I’m able to tuck my children into bed each night safe and sound.
So imagine that you receive word that your husband has been badly wounded. He could have died, but he survived and after months of therapy will be coming home. Now imagine  that same country that you defended, which may welcome you home with parades, doesn’t offer adequate health insurance to continue your rehabilitation. Doesn’t seem right does it?
In honor of Veterans Day I’d like to direct you to a woman’s blog I have been following. She writes about her life, her struggles with her wounded warrior husband, and it will touch your heart. Please take a moment today to go read her blog at
Also, here is a link to two of my favorite sites for Wounded Soldiers.
To all the soldiers, men and women,  that fought to protect my freedoms, thank you and I wish you a Happy Veterans Day on the 11th!
Do you have a special soldier you would like to thank? Do you do anything special to celebrate Veterans Day?

Monday, November 7, 2011

But Madame Curie, Girls Aren’t Smart Enough To Be Scientists!

Yesterday we visited a Science and Engineering Expo with our children. I have three very curious, inquisitive daughters who just happen to be the offspring of one chemical engineer and one former 7th grade science teacher. Yes, our house is usually brewing with some sort of scientific experiment or nature study. We like to observe and infer and draw conclusions around here. It’s the way we roll.

Yet, as a mother of three daughters, I know that the career path of a scientist isn’t always an easy one for women. I’m old enough to remember the nonsense studies about males being stronger in math and science then females. I am an educator, a teacher of science,and I could give you a hundred reasons why we thought males were better at math and science, but they wouldn’t be valid. So as a mother of three bright females, who have the world at their doorstep, I can’t help but be thankful for many of the amazing females who have helped paved the way in science . Marie Curie is one of them.

She was born 144 years ago today. She managed to marry, win two Noble Peace prizes, and raise two daughters. Imagine that. She also faced adversity, being a women in the science field in the late 1800’s and and early 1900’s. She was a woman who followed her dreams and passions. A woman I want my daughters to know more about.

I found this link, which is an easy read for children. Google is also celebrating her today with this:

Happy Birthday Madame Curie, thanks for following your passions and leading many others to their dreams with your example!

Have you ever been told you couldn’t do something because you were  too short, not smart enough, etc., but did it anyway?

Friday, November 4, 2011

The Living Christmas Tree Is Long Dead, But Not Our Marriage

The following account was written by my husband and I for a family Chirstmas memory book 14 years ago. Honestly, it offers a lot of insight into our marriage in the beginning years.

Kara's version:
It was going to be a wonderful Christmas. It was our first official Christmas in our very first home as a married couple. I couldn't wait to start putting up decorations and filling our little house with holiday cheer. I had visions of sparkling lights hanging from the rooftop, luminaries lighting the entranceway and a majestic tree adorning our front room. As I stood outside staring at the front of our house one December afternoon I contemplated my strategy.

I need a theme, I thought to myself. Something traditional, yet unique. No icicle dripping lights for us; besides the stores have been out of them since before Thanksgiving. I'm thinking white lights strung across the roofline, no mixing & matching, just plain white lights. Maybe some lights on the bushes as well. Then some pine boughs encircling our front windowpanes with a few velvet bows to tie it off. Nothing flashy, nothing plastic, just simple. Possibly a spotlight to shine on the wreath that will hang on the front door. Luminaries would be nice, but I couldn't use plastic ones and the paper bag ones might not weather the next couple of weeks. Guess I'll skip that.

I was thinking of all the Christmas themes my Mom had done over the years. Her decorations were tasteful, unique, and catching to the eye. She used real luminaries, fresh pine boughs, etc. She was always ahead of her time in the decorating area. Bless my Dad for trying to untangle the lights each year. The neighborhood was well aware of our lights going up when my Dad's shouts of frustration echoed down the street. Speaking of men and lights, I needed to enlist the help of my husband. Oh, I could do it myself, but it would be more fun to involve WB. I caught a glimpse of him putzing around inside the garage as I contemplated my game plan.

"Let’s put up Christmas lights!" I yell to my husband who suddenly disappears around the corner of the garage. When he reappears and walks toward me I can tell he does not think my idea sounds like fun.
"Okay, here's the plan." I begin to tell him all my ideas and ask for his input.
I've learned that this is important in marriage.

He takes a deep breath, looks me in the eye and says, "Go for it!" and starts to walk away.

"Whoa, you don't expect me to do this on my own?” Again, the look. Quickly, I rethink my strategy and grab his hand. “But you are a genius with electricity," I smile sweetly.

This, I've learned in a year of marriage, is called stroking his ego
I plow ahead. I’ve learned to talk fast and with purpose, so I don’t lose his attention, "Why don't you get the lights and I'll work on the windows. And what about a spotlight; we don't have one."
Reluctantly WB turns from me and with shaking head climbs up into the attic to dig out the lights we had bought earlier. I settle for manufactured pine boughs bought at Wal-Mart. This distresses me, but WB assures me it looks natural as I wrap the long strands around the windows.

After quite some time the lights seem to be hung. I’m not crazy about the bright orange extension cord that hangs from the edge of the roof to the ground by the garage, but again WB assures me that no one will notice it, especially at night.

I had been unsuccessful in explaining the concept of a spotlight to my husband. This is very frustrating to me because I don't think it is a difficult concept to grasp. I try to explain to my husband for the hundredth time, "It's just a big bulb on a stake stuck in the yard and you plug it in!"

"What's it connected to? How does it light up?" he asks again
"Oh, geez, it's a light! A light you shine on things."

Why was he making it so complicated? My parents had two in their front yard and for the next week I frantically search the neighborhoods for some to show to him. He draws plans to rig an elaborate electrical system in our front yard and I just want a tiny, spotlight on my door. I finally give up and decide that the porch light will do.

Finally, it’s time for the Christmas tree. I'm not sure who first mentioned the idea of a living tree, but we ran with it. We found a nice Norfolk pine about 3 feet high that we can sit on top of a table by our window in the front room. I tell WB it is perfect. Small and young, but that we will have it for years to come and each Christmas it will grow and flourish just like us. It was a symbol of our marriage and all the Christmases we would share. I envision ten years into the future a six-foot tall tree surrounded by our children and I'd tell them, "Your Dad and I got this tree on our first Christmas together and it has grown taller and stronger each year." It was the perfect last touch to our Christmas decorations.

WB’s version:
It was going to be our first Christmas in our first home as a married couple. Kara had big plans for decorating, and set about trying to implement those plans. Kara spoke of visions of luminaries, simple white lights strung all along the roofline and bushes, pine boughs, velvet bows and a majestic tree in our front room. One lesson that I have come to learn in our marriage is that when Kara does the planning, Scott gets to do the implementing.

I asked her, "What about the lighted plastic snowman, where will he go? And the plastic Santa, and the lighted plastic candles? Should we put those on the porch or in front of the bushes?" I smiled inwardly as Kara glared at me.

Kara then said that we would need a spotlight. After looking over the front of the house, I realized that there were no electrical outlets. Not one to be bothered by minor logistical impediments, Kara continued on with explaining how the spotlight would herald the spirit of Christmas at our house in Pampa. I made the mistake of asking, "What would the light shine on?"
 Exasperated, Kara replied, "Our front door!"
 I pondered the architectural implications of highlighting our otherwise uninspiring front door, but I still remained puzzled as to what the spotlight had to do with Christmas. I could understand putting a spotlight on the chimney, or setting some spotlights out front like those seen at movie premiers so that Santa wouldn't miss the house, but I thought that the porch did an adequate job of lighting the front door.

After a thorough evaluation of the electrical demands of Kara's planned Christmas decorations, we settled on a string of white lights across the front roofline. Of course, I had to run an extension cord from the garage to provide power for the lights, which meant that during the day I had to remove the unsightly orange cord and replace it at dusk.

Our thoughts turned to the interior decorations, and most importantly, the tree. We both decided that a living Christmas tree would be both a nice economical and sentimental touch to our first Christmas. We bought a small Norfolk pine and set it on a table in our front room. Each year, the tree would grow and mark the passage of time as we would decorate it for Christmas. We envisioned that our children would help us decorate the very same tree. Best of all, we wouldn't have to spend any more money on Christmas trees!

Christmas came and Kara and I shared a wonderful holiday in our new home. However, six months later, the Norfolk pine had died, and Kara was already making plans for the holiday decorations, plans that included two spotlights; one red and one green.

Kara’s response ( and the last word, as usual)
As I remember it, we were at the hardware store and we finally found the elusive spotlights. The single spotlight wasn’t quite elaborate enough, so WB insisted on the double one and he also chose the bulbs! It looks good on my front door, but not as good as it will look on the new front door that he will install for me next year!

Do you and your spouse have differing opinions on decorating for the holidays? And has anyone out there had a live Chirstmas tree, and managed to keep it alive?