Blog Archives

Fourteen years ago today

I was at the Habitat for Humanity office in the Netherlands, writing copy for a donor newsletter. One of my colleagues returned from a meeting with the news. There had been attacks on America, on American ground soil.

This was back in the days of dial-up and sketchy internet, and the lone office computer with a connection to the outside world was ancient and slow. The news sites were swamped and took forever to load. I didn’t get the full picture, but I got enough to know it was bad. I grabbed my stuff, picked up my kids from their schools and daycare, and drove home, where I watched the horror unfold on CNN International.

I think I’ve said it here before, I always had a problem with being called an expat. The word has all sorts of connotations, thanks to the little prefix at the beginning. Expelled, exiled, expatriated. Yes, I was living out of my country of citizenship, and yes, it was a voluntary move, but I’ve never liked the assumption that living abroad made me any less of an American. In fact, I’d dare say the opposite is true, that nothing heightens your feelings of national pride like being the stranger in a foreign country.

I remember a lot of things from that day in September, and from the days and weeks afterward, but the thing that sticks with me the most was the kindness. Dutch friends and family called with their condolences. Neighbors and other moms and strangers on the street, as soon as they realized I was American, expressed their solidarity. The unemotional Dutch, a culture known for their stoicism, cried real tears for me, an expatriated visitor from another country. Never have I felt more American, and never have I loved the Dutch more.

Those of us who lived through that day don’t need a hashtag to remember, but I’ll put it here anyway: #neverforget.

When It Rains, It Pours

No, this has nothing to do with the weather, although this summer we’re getting our fair share of rain. No, this post is about family and life and how easily serenity erupts into chaos.

For the last few months, I’ve been peacefully writing away, working on 3 upcoming romantic comedies, until last month, when our youngest son injured his back.

Shortly before the injury, he’d made an offer of purchase on a farm with a possession date of August 15, which gave him lots of time to pack and prepare. Then he hurt his back, and while chaos erupted with doctor appointments, etc, we knew he would need extra help moving, painting, repairs, etc. So we set aside the month of August to help him out.

Family Farm

The farm where I grew up (not the farm my son bought).

Then my in-laws received a call from a senior’s facility. My father-in-law is 95, my mother-in-law is 86, and since 2012 they have rejected 5 apartments in this facility. With a little extra prodding and pushing, they finally made the decision to move in. It’s a good place. They’ll have round-the-clock assistance if needed, and basically everything else like cooking and housekeeping and laundry is taken care of for them.

I think I want to move there too…

With a possession date of August 1, we started to pack up their household, thankful that they would be settled before our son’s move.

But then my mother got booked in for her knee operation. Date: August 7th. Okay, with good planning, we could have the in-laws moved and settled by then. Except my mother-in-law kept procrastinating about calling the movers. I guess she thought that if she ignored it long enough, they wouldn’t have to move.

Needless to say, by the time I said that I would call the movers, the earliest date I could get was August 7th.

While my husband goes one way that day, I’ll be going another. In the meantime, we’re packing boxes for my in-laws, running my mom to last minute doctor, hair, etc appointments, and helping our son get ready for his move.

That old saying “when it rains, it pours” is true. So this may be my last post until mid-September. I’m just saying, if I’m missing in action, you’ll know where I am.

Now tell me, what fun things do you have planned for your summer holiday/vacation? Please share. I want to hear all about the fun things you all are doing! 🙂

He Said, She Said: The Temperature Wars

Have you ever had a disagreement with your significant other over the temperature in the house? Whether you’re female or male, the answer is probably yes.

For years, my husband has been after me to install air-conditioning in the house. For years, I’ve resisted because I love to open the windows in the summer and let the natural breeze cool the house.

But last month, I finally gave in, and we now have a monstrosity of a unit outside our back door. And that’s when the temperature wars began…

He Said, She Said

He Said: (comes home from work, sweaty and hot) “It’s roasting in here. Why isn’t the air-conditioning on?”

She Said: (wearing t-shirt and sweats, and after a day inside, non-sweaty and cool) “It is. Give it a little while and you’ll adjust.”

He Said: (checking the temperature on the thermostat) “What’s the point of having air-conditioning if you’re going to keep it this hot? What a waste of money.”

She Said: (trying to be understanding) “If it’s set any lower, it’s too cold downstairs.”

He Said: “The temperature down there is only 20C (68F). How can that be too cold?”

She Said: (just the tiniest annoyed) “Trust me, it is.”

Ten minutes later, there’s a significant temperature change in the house. Upon checking the thermostat, she discovers the temperature has been lowered.

She Said: (pulling on a sweatshirt) “22 (71F) is too cold.”

He Said: “How can it be too cold? In the winter 22 is warm.”

air-conditioner

One hour later, she’s sitting in the downstairs family room reading, covered with a blanket. It’s so cold, she has to get a tissue because her nose is running. She heads upstairs to the dining room where he’s playing Solitaire on his PC…

She Said: (grumpy as all get out) “It’s freezing down there. It’s freezing up here, too. The air-conditioner has been running for a solid hour without stopping.”

He Said: (bundled up in a warm sweater) “How do you know? You can’t hear it inside the house.”

She Said: (seething) “The furnace room is right across from me. I can hear it run and it’s not clicking off.”

He Said: “Not possible.”

She Said: (stomping away, heading back downstairs to the good book she’s reading) “I’m not stupid, you know. Go sit in the family room for a while and you’ll see what I mean. It’s so cold, I’m ready to haul out my winter jacket.”

He Said: (actually, he just ignores her, which pisses her off to no end, and makes her regret installing the stupid air-conditioner)

Finally, she goes outside to warm up, but because it’s still hot enough to fry eggs on the pavement, she’s soon all sweaty. She gives up and heads inside, grabs a second blanket and hauls it downstairs…

Two hours later, he comes down to the family room…

He Said: (hands in pockets, looking smug and righteously right) “It’s nice down here.”

Then he goes back upstairs.

At bedtime, the air-conditioner gets turned off. The windows upstairs stay closed because, you know, you’re not supposed to open the windows when you have air-conditioning.

The residual heat from the day is trapped inside the house and the temperature in the bedroom climbs. Despite the fan above the bed, it keeps getting hotter, until she finally heads outside to cool off…or maybe just cool down.

She Said: “Stupid air-conditioner. Stupid men. One of them has to go.”

Do you have He Said, She Said moments in your household, too? If so, I’d love to hear about them!

It’s Hard Having Children & An Excerpt!

You’d think it would stop after the labor pains, or perhaps the teenage years, but I’ve discovered that no matter how old your children are, you always worry about them.

My youngest son’s hobby is restoring heavy duty equipment. Recently, while loading some caterpillar tracks to recycle at the local scrap yard, the tracks shifted and caught his index finger, tearing off the fingernail and a chunk of the end of his finger. And while it has healed nicely, I’ve still not recovered from the incident.

My Dad taking a spin on his grandson's cat.

My Dad taking a spin on his grandson’s cat.

 

I worry, probably needlessly, but I’m his mother, and all I want is for my boys to be healthy and happy and unhurt.

The hero in my contemporary romance, Always Remember, worries about his daughter, too. The single dad of a 17 year old girl, he’s raised her the best he could, and still…

(Excerpt from Always RememberAfter getting bucked off his horse, the heroine is giving Nate Coltrane a lower back massage when they’re interrupted by his daughter Sara…)

“Dad?”

Along with the sound of her boots tromping across the floor, approaching the entryway, he caught the strain in her voice.

“I—oh, excuse me. I didn’t know you were busy.”

Nate raised his head from his folded arms. “Come on in. Jess was just giving me a massage, trying to fix my sore back.”

Right, and another two minutes, you would have been fixing her.

As if she’d heard his thoughts, Jessie scrambled off him, landed on her rear end, then leapt to her feet. Nate shifted slightly, enough to notice the flush that darkened her cheeks.

“We were finished anyway,” she explained in a breathless rush. “And I was just leaving.”

Always Remember by Sheila SeabrookRight about now, Nate wished he could leave with her. As she ran from the room, the humor of the situation hit him. They’d been caught like two randy teenagers, only it was the daughter, not the parents, terminating their foreplay. Now, how did he go about hiding his aroused state from his perceptive daughter?

“So what’s up, squirt?” Other than me. Nonchalant, pretend like nothing out of the ordinary had happened. Like his world hadn’t shifted and tilted for the second time since Jessie’s arrival.

Sara snatched the pile of mail from the coffee table and slid onto the floor beside him. “You didn’t tell me you hurt your back. Diablo? You know, I’ve been thinking. Maybe you need professional help.”

“You mean a shrink?” He reached out and ruffled her hair. Thanks to Jessie, his back did feel better, but now he had another ache he wished she’d stuck around to cure. Suddenly, the floor felt hard and uncomfortable. “Sara, Diablo and I have an agreement.”

“Yeah, yeah, yeah. Sometimes I think I should’ve been in charge of you instead of the other way around.” She ducked out from under his hand and looked him square in the eye. “You realize, of course, that what you two were doing in here was totally unacceptable.”

Laughter burst from his chest.

“Well, I’m not a kid anymore. I’ve been trying to tell you that for years.”

No, she wasn’t a kid. She’d grown into a beautiful young woman, as mature and self-reliant as her mother. How had he gotten so lucky? She’d never given him a lick of trouble, not the way Jessie and him had tested their parents’ patience.

Sara sorted listlessly through the envelopes, tossing the bills aside before spreading her favorite magazine on the floor between them. Nate noted the pallor of her cheeks, the bluish smudges beneath her eyes. He wanted to ask her what was wrong, but feared the question would send her running up to her bedroom like last time.

Better that he be patient and wait for her to come to him. When she was ready to talk, she’d do it in her own good time.

He bumped her on the shoulder. “What are you reading?”

(End of excerpt)

So what kind of unfun and worrisome things have your children done? And how long did it take you to recover from the incident?

A LITTLE YOGA BREAK

I love yoga. I love the flexibility, the deep breathing, and the peace it brings me. For the hour I practice the poses, my mind is focused on the singular task of performing the routines, which helps enhance my focus when I’m at the computer working.

maya-fiennesA couple of years ago, I discovered Maya Fiennes book, Yoga for Real Life, and her Kundalini Yoga to Detox and Destress DVD, and these quickly became part of my exercise program. Maya teaches Kundalini Yoga which “awakens awareness”. It is the oldest form of yoga and uses meditative focus, breath work, and chanting.

Recently I found this DVD available on YouTube, along with a couple of other cool features from this yoga teacher. Turn on your sound and enjoy the background music. It’s written and performed by Maya, who is also a classical pianist and performer. If you’re interested in trying it, this program runs about sixty minutes.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=THX9jKPEMGs

However, if you want a quick routine to energize you, Maya also offers something different, a free style five minute routine that will totally get you moving and make you smile. If you don’t have time to check out the other links, make sure you check out this one because it’s super cool and fun!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zI0q1nG7BN4

Or if you just want to lie back and relax, here is one of her songs.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V05RKa1ohf4

Visit Maya’s website where you can learn more about Kundalini yoga.

Have you ever considered doing yoga or meditation? What about the practices appeals or doesn’t appeal to you?

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