Around the web…

My book club/writing group buddy Jessica Love landed a book deal for her novel In Real Life, to be published in 2015! 

My brother-in-law launched a website for his company, Darkvale Studios. 

Grace and Lace continues to blow sales out of the water, and they are now able to expand Angel House more than expected.

My writing group buddy Kelsey Macke released an EP with her husband Daron under their duo name of Wedding Day Rain.

If you like romance, Macy Beckett’s first novella in her new The Dumont Bachelors series, Make You Blush, releases today! Macy Beckett is the pen name for Melissa Landers, my writing group buddy who writes the Alienated series.

 

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We Measure Our Years in Old Navy Hoodies.

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“I can see how much they’ve grown. I remember when those hoodies were big on them,” one of the boys’ toddler teachers remarked to me the other day.

Fall. I can remember too, and those hoodies were big on them last fall. I must have closed my eyes a moment too long, because suddenly E has an inch of belly exposed under his jacket and the fit is just a tad too snug. Parents often mention how time gets away from them, how time can be forgiving and deceitful all at once. You know what isn’t deceitful? Clothes. One day you’re swimming in an Old Navy hoodie and the next you have that inch of belly.

It doesn’t stop when you’re a child. You don’t have to be fashionable for your life to be measured in clothes. The prom dress turned sorority formal dress turned just another dress in my parents’ closet collecting dust. The graduation gown. The wedding dress. The skinny jeans I can wear and then can’t wear and then can and can’t wear again and again. The maternity pants with the panel that once fit snugly over my enormous bump but now hangs uselessly. We buy, we donate, we give away our years.

When I bought these 3T hoodies, I remember thinking they might last a couple of years this time. The boys tried them on, playing with the zipper as I pushed up the long sleeves and had plenty of hood room to cover their knit hats. Every year we buy new ones, generic hoodies in whatever color we happen to like at the time, knowing they will be thrown off in the mud and soaked in the rain and washed over and over until they fade. These are unimportant items, right? Not fashionable, not thought out or carefully selected. Except they are important, after all. When I look back at pictures from this winter, I see what must be hoodies shrinking smaller and smaller, because surely my babies can’t be getting bigger and bigger.

So in a few weeks I’ll pass along their latest Old Navy hoodies, like the ones that were passed along before, and measure out one more year, knowing one day too soon I’ll trade them in for the graduation gown, the college sweatshirt, the tux…

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Vacation is over! Part Two

My previous post discussed preparation for Disney and our Disney Day 1 in Magic Kingdom.

Disney Day 2: Park Hopping
Day two was less grueling than day one, mostly because we had help! We decided to drive in that morning bright and early and my sister (who lives locally) and brother-in-law met us at the gate of Hollywood Studios. We picked this park first because we really wanted the boys to be able to ride Toy Story Mania and heard the line gets insane very quickly upon park opening.

We heard right! We went immediately to the ride when the park opened, and the wait was already 15 minutes. By the time we exited the ride, it was up to an hour wait. 

IMG_3964Luckily, the line to meet Buzz and Woody wasn’t yet too long, so we were able to get the boys right in. N’s favorite character has been Woody lately, but he wanted nothing to do with the life-sized version! Buzz was a big hit with E again, and he was willing to pose for some shots.

From there, we walked to get in line for Mike and Sulley from Monsters, Inc right before they arrived. This time, E was more apprehensive (though willing) and N jumped right in. He wanted to hold Mike’s hand while we took pictures.IMG_3976

cars4Waiting in line for Lightning McQueen and Mater took no time at all. They are stationary so we didn’t have to worry about break time or interaction between the characters and the kids. We ended up having to go through the line twice because N did not want to give up his time with McQueen. He was so enamored, and when we told him it was time for the next kid in line’s turn he lamented, “But I love him!”

Next we met Jake (from Jake and the Neverland Pirates), who was a big hit with both boys, and we ran into Sofia the First when she was going to go take a break.

Click on page 2 to see the rest – this is another long/image heavy post!

Vacation is over! Part One

I have to do this in two parts since I’m being long-winded here.

Our trip was a success! Thanks to some last minute planning and some cheats from a Disney info blog, we were able to see and do everything we wanted and never waited in a line longer than 20 minutes.

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We knew what the boys were into, so I definitely wanted to get in a lot of character meets. They ended up being scared of some characters, tolerant of others and really excited for a handful of them. It turns out my kids are also little adrenaline junkies and they loved the rides the most.

Click on page 2 below if you want to read our full itinerary and pictures :)

 

In preparation of Disney World…

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Less than a week to go before our quick trip to Disney World, and I have prepared very little. Something can be said for winging it, right?

I booked our hotel (we’re also staying with my sister later in the week) and reserved a couple of character meals. I checked on times for different character meet-n-greets and took notes. I bought some swim suits. I have not yet started packing.

The boys are not yet three, so this visit will be less elaborate that ones in the future. We’re spending day in Magic Kingdom, park-hopping one day, and that’s it! We’ll see what we can and not worry about the things we miss. At this age, the magic will be in full force regardless.

The only sites I’ve used are the official My Disney Experience website and the cheat sheets on Easy WDW.

Worries: N’s peanut allergy. N’s new game of “catch me” that he likes to play. Heat. Orlando is mild in March, right? RIGHT?

May I confess that I’m excited for my sister to watch the boys one day while my husband and I enjoy Harry Potter at Universal?

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The evolution of our master bathroom.

Our house is tiny, but for the most part the floor plan works really well. It’s an open floor plan with bedrooms tucked off to the side. One room that is seriously lacking, though, is the master bath. It’s the size of a spare bath and even though it has a nice garden tub, it’s a combo shower/tub. No linen closet, no storage, no double sink. Super small.

We have actually completely changed it up twice now. So now I present to you the evolution of our master bath. Sorry for the complete crap pictures:

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Top left is when we first moved in. Everything builder-grade, generic, no paint, same shower curtain I had in my apartment since 2001.

Bottom left is the first update. We went with a crazy orange which I loved for a while but eventually wore on my nerves. We purchased a new shower curtain, new bath mats, new mirror, new fixture, new accessories (towel rack, tp holder, outlet covers, etc).

The right is our latest change-up. We put down new tile floors and wainscoting, repainted to a relaxing color (Sherwin Williams Sea Salt) and changed the trim/painted the wainscoting in Cream Delight by Valspar. We kept the curtain, bath mats (ignore the random towel in this picture) and accessories. I think we are finished with this room for a while. We’re working on the living room next.

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Friends who read books, friends who write books…

I come from a bookish family. My parents have shelves full of books, and my mom made sure we always had access to reading material. I learned to read at a young age, and never stopped. My siblings are all still avid readers, though our tastes all differ. As a pre-teen/teen I began writing, first in a journal (including a ridiculous 100+ page monstrosity dedicated to just one boy, and probably evidence of early stalker tendencies), then short stories and poetry. None of it was mind-blowing, but it was an outlet that I needed. It’s an outlet that I still need.

It’s no surprise that as an adult I sought out an online community of book fanatics, and over the past 6 years it has blossomed into a group of true friends. Some of them blog about their reading experiences (check out We Still Read), some of them write, and some of them just devour books on the daily.

A small group of us formed a writing support group, mainly for support during National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) a few years ago. Life has stalled my writing plans (though I have a ton of unfinished material waiting on me when I’m ready), but several of my friends have pushed through, worked diligently, and found success. I will do whatever I can to get their material into the hands (or e-readers!) of as many people as possible. I am so, so proud of each of them.

The first to publish this year is Melissa Landers. Her debut Young Adult novel, Alienated, was released in February 2014 and is the first book of a series. Alien exchange students. Witty dialogue. Drama. Definitely check it out.

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Melissa also writes romance novels under the pen name Macy Beckett, including the Sultry Springs series and the upcoming Dumont Bachelors series.

Also coming up this year from my book nerd/writing buddies: Push Girl by Chelsie Hill and my friend Jessica Love, and Damsel Distressed by Kelsey Macke. I’ll post more on these closer to the release dates!

Love,

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Make this and eat it.

I made this as a side dish for Thanksgiving, and it was so good I just made it again so I can eat it for a few days as an actual meal.

I pretty much followed these directions exactly. I used Johnsonville Three Cheese Italian Chicken Sausage, a pre-cubed container of butternut squash, dried sage and Boar’s Head goat cheese, so I have maximum laziness yet still delicious results.

Click here to see the recipe – it’s Butternut Squash Crack from pyjammy.com. (Her blog is cool in general if you have time to check it out – she has identical triplet boys.)

Here is a picture of how mine turned out:

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