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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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.

alienated

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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Love Letter to the Women’s Restroom

Dear Ladies’ Room of the General Administration Building,

What can I say? It’s been a great run. When we first met, I was a 26 year old kid embarking on a new career journey. After a hiatus of four years, I wasn’t exactly thrilled with the idea of sharing three stalls with thirty women again. My fears were quickly calmed when, soon after we were introduced, an elderly co-worker asked me to go get her a magazine as she blew up the designated pooping toilet.

I soon learned to maneuver around the rules of the road. As a courtesy, poopers should use the far stall (though I must say in times of tummyache, I most often fled to an adjacent building “safe haven” to blend in with the students). If someone was obviously in need of a dump, we should pee and wash hands as quickly as possible in order to allow privacy. Of course, there were always the ones living on the edge, those who dawdled and chatted and fixed their hair and makeup and took an hour to floss their teeth. Maybe this was their sanctuary, a place to get away from the grind of work. I’m sorry that I didn’t appreciate you more. To me, you were always just a place to pee.

That’s not quite true. You saw me through some heartache, some medical problems and a twin pregnancy during which I swear we met up every ten minutes. Most importantly, you were gracious enough to allow me to take a million baby bump selfies with one of your porcelain thrones photobombing in the background:

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Oh, ladies’ room. As I checked the keys to my new office, I went by the new restroom. It’s nice, with six stalls, pretty fixtures and new and modern conveniences. However, I want to let you know that it holds none of your charm. There are no mysteries behind the walls of this new granite-and-stainless-steel bathroom paradise. Maybe now I’ll never know why you had a couch from the 1980s located within your walls, and I’ll stop wondering who in the world would sit on it when it had been collecting toilet flushing particles for 30 years. Maybe I’ll never know who decided which locker belonged to which woman and why I never received one. Maybe I’ll never know why the middle stall autoflusher always managed to flush on me two or three times before I could escape. These are mysteries for a new generation of employees who you will soon meet. Be kind to them.

As I prepare to say goodbye and move into my new digs Monday, I want to let you know that even though I didn’t always appreciate you while we were together, I will not forget you. I can’t promise that you will never see me again, but I’ll be a visitor. You’ll never be my bathroom again. Keep up the good work.

Until we meet again,

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Hair today, gone tomorrow

Almost 10 years ago, I donated 10″ to Locks of Love.   Almost 2 years ago, I had 6″ cut off my hair and regretted not taking off just a few more inches so I could donate it.  So, when I realized a few months ago my hair was getting too long for my liking, I decided to let it grow a few more inches so I could cut off the minimum of 8″ I needed for donation.  After the controversy surrounding LoL, I decided to go with a different non-profit this time, Children with Hair Loss.  This company uses the hair for children who have hair loss due to any reason – disease, chemotherapy, burn scars, etc.  They need a minimum of 8″ and it can be hair that has been colored.  My hair hasn’t been colored with permanent color or bleached in probably 4 or 5 years.  I’m a big fan of going darker, so I just have demi-permanant (fades out) hair color added when I want a color change.  Demi-permanent gives the hair a great shine and makes it really soft.  However you can only change the tint or go darker with it.

Here was my hair a few days ago:

I decided to go with a few long layers and side bangs.  Here is my hair post-haircut:

Here is the lovely ponytail to send in (this creeps me out for some reason, by the way):

I also Vlogged about it.  Now I just need to figure out how to style it myself.  Lord knows I’m not very talented at fixing my hair.

Vlogs, take 2

I’ve been an absentee blogger!  I started talking about my vlogs and promised to post more of them, then abandoned everyone.

For your viewing pleasure, here is another vlog.   Dangerous vehicular habits, such as driving while vlogging.

This is a couple weeks old and, like my other vlogs, absolutely nothing interesting.  Enjoy.

Vlogs

A group of message board friends decided to start vlogging.  This is new territory for me, as I hate even having my picture taken and I especially hate being on video.   Warning:  my vlogs are boring.  My friends, however, are hilarious.  If you go to my youtube channel and look at my subscriptions, some of them just might make your day.

Here was my first vlog, in which I show you my office.  I’ll attach more later.

Extra: The New Ride

I bought my last car one month after my 24th birthday.   Now, at 31, I finally gave in and bought another one.  I’m cheap, people.  Cheap.  If my car had not been acting up lately, I would have driven it until the wheels fell off.  For a variety of reasons, my husband and I decided it made financial sense to go ahead and purchase another vehicle for me, especially since we will need to replace his in a couple of years and want to minimize the time we have two car payments.

So, here is the big reveal!

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Honda Accord EX-L

Still getting used to driving it…

By the way, YES, that is still the old Saturn in the driveway.  We decided not to trade it in.  Instead, we’ll clean it up, put a little work into it, and sell it.  I still love that little car!

Run for Ray

At the ripe old age of 23, I moved to the coast of NC with my Boboman in tow and very little money in the bank. Luckily for me, I became fast friends with a new neighbor in my apartment complex.   Erin had a young baby, a recent separation from her husband, and an inspiring story of spinal cord injury survival.  Though only in her late 20’s, Erin served as both a big sister and mother substitute for my new home away from home.  I spent much of my time in her apartment, playing with her beautiful daughter Emma and eating the delicious homecooked meals she generously shared with me.

My job required me to work all holidays, and once again Erin and her family stepped in and invited me to spend Thanksgiving with them.   Through holiday and birthday celebrations, as well as regular family visits, I was able to meet and spend time with Erin’s sister Kerry, brother-in-law Ray and their two adorable children.

A few years later, Erin and I both moved on from our little apartment dwelling.  She got remarried and had another beautiful daughter, I moved into a house with a roommate and eventually got married myself.  Now that we are 30-40 minutes apart,  I don’t see Erin and her family as often as I’d like, but I try to see them when I can.

In 2006, Erin’s brother-in-law Ray was diagnosed with a Chordoma brain tumor.  He put up a fierce battle, but passed away in 2008 at the young age of 45.   From my interactions with him, I saw Ray as a laid-back, funny family man with a great spirit and I’m grateful that I got to know him even on that limited basis.  If you would like to read more about his story, please follow this link.

In Ray’s honor, Run for Ray was created to benefit his family and the Chordoma Foundation.  I was not able to participate this year, but did send in a donation and they were kind enough to send me a t-shirt and participation medal even though I didn’t earn it.

Come rain or shine (or cold or flu!) I plan to make next year’s Run for Ray.  If you live in NC or are willing to travel, I hope you come as well.  If not, there are donation directions on the website.

That was a lot of backstory, but as promised I wanted to explain my Project365 picture from March 9.  When I received my tshirt in the mail, I had an immediate reminder to be kind to the new people I meet.  They just may become family.

Hairvolution

As my laziness increases, my hair pays the price.

When I first started working at my new job, I took the time to get up every morning, shower, blow-dry my hair and then usually ran my CHI over it to make it nice and smooth.  The result = pretty hair.

Then, I started getting lazy.

Instead, I started showering at NIGHT, right before bed, so I could just get up in the morning with dry hair and straighten it with the CHI.   This allowed me to sleep an extra 10 minutes or so, but I literally had to straighten every strand since my hair is naturally wavy.  The result = very flat hair.

I started getting annoyed with the process of straightening my hair every day, and discovered that it didn’t look particularly bad if I just let it air dry.  This meant, of course, I had to switch back to morning showers.   The result=wet head for work, limp and wavy hair when dry.

It’s winter.  It’s cold outside.  Wet hair is annoying when I leave for work in below freezing temperatures.  I’m still too lazy to dry my hair, so my only solution is to shower at night.  However, I’m now also too lazy to straighten my hair in the morning.  The result = bed head at work and/or utilization of a hair tie.

If you’re lucky, I might take a pic during my lunch break.  I’m trying to pretend my hair looks like this on purpose.

UPDATE:

Check it out:

And yes, Jenny, I’m mocking you with my thumbs-up.   🙂