Category Archives: Family

It’s Always an Adventure

If you noticed, I didn’t blog yesterday. I think I was still recovering from the weekend, but I’m back up to speed now and ready to tell y’all what happened on the road trip to see my darling nephew.

It started out well. We left at a decent time, laughed and talked a good bit during the six hour trip. It started raining the closer we got to Ruston, but we were expecting that. We checked into our hotel and picked up the kids to bring them out to dinner. That was a bit messy since my brother-in-law is adamant about not parking next to other cars. We had a nice meal despite the rain and called it a night.

Around one o’clock in the morning, I woke up because something seemed wrong. When I opened my eyes, I noticed there was no power in the room. A quick look out the window showed the entire hotel and areas around it without electricity. I peeked through the peephole in the door and saw the emergency lights were on in the hall. No biggie. I went back to sleep, but woke up every hour on the hour, expecting the lights to be back on.

At about six thirty, I finally stopped fighting to try to sleep and got up. Still no electricity and the emergency lights were out. Luckily my brother-in-law was an Eagle Scout and came prepared. He checked on us and left us a flashlight to sort of get ready by. I used my cell phone to shower and try to put make-up on. I’d just finished dressing when the lights came back on. Go figure.

So we made it through the little black out without major problems. Everything seemed fine. But then we went to check out some property my brother-in-law wants to buy up there. We had a carload of people: brother-in-law, sister, me, my nephew, his girlfriend, and my mom. The drive out to the property was nice, giving us a chance to check out the town and the surrounding area.

Then we came to the road to the property. It started off fine. Gravel and all that, but it quickly became dirt. Dirt which had just seen several hours of rain the night before. Yup, you guessed it. We almost got stuck. Everyone in the car sort of froze as we waited for my brother-in-law to reverse all the way down the road again. I swear none of us breathed because we just knew we were going to get stuck in the mud and have to push.

Luckily we got out, but it sort of put a pall over the car. It took us about an hour to find our humor in the situation and we praised my brother-in-law for his mad driving skillz. Which then brought out the comment someone made that when we go anywhere, we’re sure to have an adventure.

Now do you see why I needed a day to relax?

When you go on trips, do you expect things to go wrong? Or is that just my family?

By the way, with the upcoming release of Immortal Love on the 30th, I’ve invited the hero, Mason Landry, to stop by tomorrow for What’s Playing Wednesday. He assures me he has the perfect song to describe Roxana Love, his heroine. We’ll have to see.

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The Natural Flirt

If you follow me on Twitter or Facebook, you know I went to the French Quarter Fest yesterday. I went with my brother, his wife, her friend, and my baby nephew who looked absolutely adorable in his little summer outfit. And yes, I know it’s supposed to be Spring, but it was hot out there.

We started out at Jackson Square listening to a jazz band that normally plays on the Steamboat Natchez. It was good stuff. We found a spot in the grass (without the shade) and sat down to listen for about an hour and a half. Once they broke, we decided to explore the Quarter.

If you’ve been to New Orleans, you’ll already know the area is filled with…unique people. They were out in full force yesterday. We saw a guy wearing a 19th century style wig and long coat with shorts, and so many more interesting people I can’t even describe them all. We meandered through the Quarter to Dutch Alley which is parallel to the French Market.

There were bands all over the place, by the way. They were on the Riverwalk, Jackson Square, several spots in the French Market, Dutch Alley, and of course the individual musicians who hang out on the corners. We actually found a little trio who call themselves the G String Orchestra and they were amazing. The band had a violinist, an accordion player, and a bass player. Their music sounded a little gypsy-like with a touch of French. We must’ve listened to them for forty-five minutes (until they went on break). Great stuff.

But that isn’t what this post is about. The nephew was being an angel despite his dislike of sunlight. Honestly, I think this child belongs to Edward and Bella with the way he wants to avoid sunlight. We decided we should grab a bite to eat and headed over to Jimmy Buffet’s Margaritaville. It was okay, but the best part of the entire meal was when I was holding Bennett.

I have this thing about making him stand up. So I put him on the table in front of me, his little bare feet holding himself up…sort of. He was happy and smiling and then he looked to my right and saw a table of young women. I’m guessing they were in their late teens, early twenties. He stared at them and stared until one of them looked over and waved.

And that’s when the flirting began. He smiled. He drooled. When the other girls looked over to see what their friend was waving at, he did this little shimmy with his shoulders. Kind of like a puppy quivering in excitement. Of course they all went “Aww, he’s so cute!” One of them said all four girls work at a day care which made complete sense. He knew they were his people.

And he did not stop smiling. Oh no, not Bennett the flirt. He batted his long eyelashes at them, let his little dimple peek out, and drooled some more. I was hysterical. He’s a ladies man!

The festival was fun and I think I might need to go back next year. I don’t know if we should bring the flirt with us though. Out of the five of us (baby included), he was the only one who didn’t go home hurting in some way or another. I have a sunburn, my sister-in-law hurt her ankle, her friend got spit up on, crapped on by a bird…yeah, no lie.

But it was a great time. If you ever get the chance to check it out, please do so. There’s music, food, and people, people, people.

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The Tattoo Debate

I don’t know how we got on the subject on Easter Sunday, but at some point during the day, we had a tattoo debate. My sister, sister-in-law, nephew’s girlfriend, mother, my brother’s mother-in-law, and I got into a heated discussion about tattoos and unfortunately for the older ladies, they were severely outnumbered.

The debate raged for at least half an hour with everyone offering up their opinions on what they’d like to get done while the mothers shook their heads and looked disapproving. They don’t understand and I can see where they’re coming from. It’s a generation gap. People who had tattoos in their time were considered outsiders, freaks, criminals even. These days, tattoos are more accepted, though there are still those who consider them disgusting and morally wrong, or inappropriate. I’m not one of those people. Obviously.

I’ve always had a fascination with tattoos which is why I got three. It has nothing to do with rebelling against society. I do that on a daily basis by not conforming to what’s popular and mainstream. It has nothing to do with rebelling against my parents. They know I’m “not normal” as they like to call it.

Tattoos are a personal choice, a permanent personal choice yes, a way to show who you are, or as a tribute to someone you love. I don’t always agree with the latter since some bonds don’t always last, but again it comes down to personal choice. That’s what makes tattoos the most personal thing a person can do to themselves. It’s a way of identifying who you are that has nothing to do with a criminal record or how bad ass you are.

The debate ended with my sister saying she wants one and she blames me for it. Yes, you heard me. She says I’m a bad influence on her because she’s colored her hair differently (y’all know about my 3-toned hair colors), has started reading sexy books (she started with mine), and now she wants a tattoo. And she blames me.

What are your thoughts on tattoos?

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Post Easter Shock

I love nothing better than getting together with family, but is it horrible for me to say when everyone left I wanted to throw my arms in the air and scream “Thank God!”? It makes me feel a little disloyal, but oy vey, was I glad to have the house to myself again.

It was a great weekend, don’t get me wrong. Sure, I spent my entire Friday cleaning house, but I really didn’t mind. Especially since the plans I had to write on Saturday were foiled because of a screaming child in Starbucks and my muse deciding she doesn’t work weekends. Yeah, it was bad. I wrote 300 words and hated every single one of them. Naturally by the time I packed everything up, did some grocery shopping, and went home, my muse tossed me a bone for my story. She’s a contrary witch.

But, I did get to see my youngest nephew eat baby food for the first time. I’ll admit I probably spent more time laughing at that poor child than I did anything else this weekend. First it was the baby food which he took like a duck to water. The minute his mama produced the spoon, his mouth was open and ready for loading. Then he tried to take the spoon from her because apparently she wasn’t feeding him fast enough.

But the best part came on Easter Sunday. We were sitting outside, enjoying the somewhat mild day, the smell of food on the grill, and talking. My Korean aunt was holding Bennett who was wearing the most darling little outfit complete with a pair of sunglasses (like me, he doesn’t like the sun in his eyes). Because of those sunglasses, it took us a while to figure out he was falling asleep. Sitting up. Only when he started doing the buchon did we realize the poor baby was sleeping. We were hysterical. I think I might’ve even pulled a muscle in my stomach from laughing at the child.

We ate, we laughed, we talked, we drank a little, and we had a good day. But when the last car pulled away and the house was clean once again, I ran to my room to change into my lounge clothes and did a swan dive on the sofa to read. Ahhh…peace and quiet.

I love them all, but I’m glad there are no more holidays for a few months. It’ll take me a while to work up the need to surround myself with so many people again.

Did y’all have a good Easter?

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The Great Fake

I sometimes really dislike Easter, or rather the commercialization of Easter. I end up trying to gain all the weight I lost around Christmas when those evil peanut butter eggs show up. It’s horrible how weak I am, but when I see them at the store my hands automatically snatch a pack off the display and they’re in my basket before I can process what I’ve done.

But I’m not going to talk about my weakness today. No, I’m going to talk about the Easter bunny. I’m sure someone knows why we have the Easter bunny instead of the Easter chicken, but I haven’t researched it enough to find out why we have a mythical rabbit running around dropping chocolate eggs all over the place.

In fact, even when I was a kid, I had a problem with the Easter bunny. Santa Claus I could understand, but a rabbit who leaves a basket of goodies? Yeah, right. I say this because I’m currently looking at a picture of my youngest nephew with the Easter bunny. He looks so happy to be in that weird rabbit’s lap, like he couldn’t imagine being anywhere else. Of course he’s only 5 months old and he likes sparkly stuff, so that’s understandable.

Yet I’m reminded of an incident that happened when I was about eight or nine. I was spending Easter with my dad and stepmother. We went over to visit her family and all of their kids. Out of my four families (my mom’s, dad’s, stepfather’s and stepmother’s) only my stepparents had kids in their families close to my age. Weird.

Anyway, I was hanging out with my cousins, playing and goofing off when someone said something about the Easter bunny. Being the enlightened, cynical eight-year-old I was, I told them there was no Easter bunny. Oh man, it was like I’d just announced A.L.F. wasn’t a real alien. Chaos and pandemonium erupted until one of the cousins, a little older than me and a lot taller, decided I needed to be taught a lesson because dammit, the Easter bunny was real!

So I’m standing there with my shirt gripped in my cousin’s fist. She’s giving me this look that clearly said if I didn’t admit there was an Easter bunny I’d be seeing little birds tweeting around my head. That’s when I saw this white box deep in the woods from the corner of my eye. Have I mentioned my mom’s family is a bunch of great bullshitters? Well, we are and I learned how to bluff my way out of trouble.

“Look!” I whispered with all the surprise I could muster. “It’s the Easter bunny!”

Instantly, all attention zeroed in on the barely seen box. My cousin, certain I now believed in a mythical-basket-giving-rabbit (how could it hand out baskets without thumbs?), let me go and I ran to the house with the adults. I look back and realize it was wrong of me to break their little hearts about the Easter bunny. It wasn’t really my place to tell them they were buying into a scam.

Will I do something similar with my youngest nephew? Of course not. He’ll have to develop awareness just like I did. I don’t think it’ll take long. His father (my little brother) was only three or four when he said if he saw Santa Claus he was going to shoot his reindeer so he could eat them.

Yeah, it runs in the family.

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Nice Shootin’

I’m a little late in my weekend roundup, but it’s worth it.

Saturday was a normal, do-everything-I-can’t-during-the-week day. I ran errands, brought my dog to the groomer, visited my dad, things like that. It just means I didn’t get anything significant done.

Sunday was entirely different. I already knew I was scheduled to go target shooting with my sister and brother-in-law, but my yard needed a little attention. I have a love/hate relationship with my yard. I hate cutting it, but I love for it to look pretty. And since the days have been so hot, I decided I had to mow it as soon as the sun came up. (On the off chance it would burn away some of the dew.)

Yeah, that didn’t exactly work out well. I managed to cut the yard in two hours because I needed frequent breaks. It really sucks how hot it is already. I kept hydrated (or so I thought) and by noon, I’d only been attacked by the rose-bush once and I was showered and ready to go shoot. Yay!

We headed out and when my brother-in-law opened the trunk of the car, I gaped. Yeah, there were lots of guns in there. Then my nephew showed up with more. My first thought was, “Yeah, we’re ready for the zombie apocalypse!”

Then we started shooting. It’s been twenty years since I shot anything other than the bird. We tried out a variety of shotguns, rifles, and handguns and my conclusion is that my sister, my nephew’s girlfriend, and I are screwed when the zombies come. We suck.

My sister kicked up so much mud and dirt we could’ve planted a nice garden from all the soil she plowed. I killed a lot of leaves and trees, but the way I figure, my sister can take out the zombies’ kneecaps and feet, and I’ll give them a haircut. My nephew’s girlfriend said she would be glad to reload for us.

By the time we used all the ammo for the handguns, I started getting light-headed. I’m not a fainter. I think the one time I did faint, I was sick with something, but I almost did a face plant in the field on Sunday. My head was swimming, I was seeing spots, and I knew it would be a very bad thing for me to take the 12 gauge again.

Once we got back in the car with the a/c, my stomach started cramping and I knew I had heat exhaustion. In April! It’s too damn early for that! But when I got back home and had a huge glass of water and sat in front of a fan for about two hours, I was fine.

Despite my problems and the heat, I had a blast. Literally. I’m going to blame my bad aim on heat exhaustion, not my lack of mad gun skillz. Since we plan to go back again soon, I think I need to brush up on my techniques.

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Graceless

I didn’t talk much about Pensacola, other than to say I had fun. I had to rest from the trip and then I had work to do for my upcoming books. It’s only now, when things have calmed a bit that I can relate something that made me crack up.

My mom came with me for this trip. She’d never been to Florida before (which is kind of astounding since she’s been pretty much everywhere else) and when she found out I was going to Pensacola, she was so there. She was packed two days before we left, had bought snacks and drinks for herself, a bathing suit, and a huge book. She also had this insane plan to sneak over to the hotel next door to use their hot tub. Luckily she didn’t. I really don’t know what I would’ve done if she’d been arrested. Maybe leave her there for a little while to ponder her criminal activities.

The entire drive over, she kept urging me to drive faster. “Faster! I want to get there now! I’m your mother and I’m telling you it’s okay to speed.” Yeah, I chuckled over that. But it was Saturday that made me crack up.

Before I get to that though, I have to explain something about my family. We’re the most ungraceful people you’ll ever meet. My mom has fallen down our stairs more times than I can count. She hasn’t hurt herself too much and she always laughs hysterically at herself, but yeah, she and stairs do not mix well. Then there’s my uncle who has the unfortunate habit of falling off of anything he’s standing on. Three story scaffolding to work on his house? Yeah, he knocked out the wrong support and fell. And that’s only a mild taste of our lack of grace.

So it should come as no surprise when on Saturday morning Mom told me she was going to walk on the beach, I had a moment of panic. I warned her, “Be careful. Don’t fall or hurt yourself in any way, okay?” Of course she gave me a look I’m sure I’ve given her several times in the last thirty some odd years and promised to be careful. She went off, happy to be seeing blue water and white sand.

Hours later, after workshops and lunch, I went up to the room and that’s when I learned she didn’t follow my directions at all. Well, okay, it wasn’t that bad. It seems she tiptoed her way down to the water to put her feet in. A wave met her advance and almost knocked her off her feet. She swears one leg went one way and the other went another way. She almost fell, but managed to catch herself. And naturally, a man passing by saw it happen and laughed hysterically.

She didn’t end up in the water, but my writer’s mind keeps thinking how funny it would’ve been. I can picture it in my mind and it makes me laugh. Because when Mom falls, she’s very loud. She lets out this scream that makes you think something horrible has happened, but it’s really her laughing at herself.

Ah well. Mom made it through the rest of the weekend with no further mishaps. I’m sure Pensacola breathed a sigh of relief when we left the city limits, but be forewarned, Florida. We’ll be back.

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The Froggies Are Coming

What a dismal morning! I woke up only to see a dense fog all around. It makes driving so difficult, not to mention the humidity is hell on my hair.

But fog reminds me of my brother when he was young. He used to say the most hysterical things and we never fail to remind him of them. For instance, it wasn’t “fog”. For some reason, instead of saying it was foggy, he’d say “the froggies are coming!” Now, I’m not sure if he thought they were actual frogs, but it used to crack us up.

Of course, kids say the darnedest things. We all have stories about kids saying the wrong thing at the wrong time, or completely misunderstanding some things. It’s natural since they’re learning. If you throw in a slight speech impediment, sometimes the things they say will leave you struggling to hold back your laughter.

For instance, my cousin’s daughter had a problem with her “st” sounds. Now, I know it’s wrong to laugh, but that “st” sound only opened the door to mass hysteria in our family. I have mentioned before how we have no problem laughing at each other, but in this case, our little one struck us all dumb.

Like the day she caught a plastic sword at a Mardi Gras parade. She must’ve been three or four at the time. She brandished her awesome weapon and declared, “I am the king and this is my *ick!” (insert a d in that asterisk and you’ve got exactly what she said). We stared at her in appalled horror for all of three or for seconds before we started choking on our laughter. OMG. Even now, remembering how proud she was of her “stick” To make matters worse, every time she had any object that was…phallic in shape, whether it was a sword, or a rolled up newspaper, it immediately became her “stick”. Hilarity ensued.

Then there was the time her friend came over to play. Our little one’s grandmother had given her this gaudy plastic serving spoon to play with. The friend looked in awe at the blue plastic with silver paint and said, “You must be rich!” Little one shook her head and said very plainly, “No, we’re poor like you.”

Oh man…My stomach hurts from holding back the laughter. Of course there are a ton of stories I could share, but it would take a few blog posts to get them all in. Maybe I should start a “Kids Say the Darnedest Things” thread and see where it goes. It’s funny how a foggy day made me think about this, but there you have it. That’s how my brain works.

So my question to you is, what have your kids, or relatives’ kids said that left you in hysterical horror? You can tell me. I won’t judge!

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Pampered and Relaxed

I love weekends when I get to do girly things. I don’t do them very often because most of those girly things cost way too much money for me to do all the time, but this weekend was an exception.

With the upcoming conferences, my hair needed an overhaul. My roots were showing, I could see the gray along my hairline, and the red had dulled to a less interesting color. Since I was also going to be wearing open-toe shoes, I knew I’d need to get a pedicure. It wasn’t hard to rope my older sister into coming with me.

We spent a couple of hours getting our hair done (I walked out with a bright blonde, vibrant red, and deep black color set) and headed next door to get our pedicures. Ah, bliss. I haven’t had my toes done in…well, long enough that I didn’t want anyone to see them. As one of my co-workers said once, “I needed to do something with those puppies!”

Then, the big sis and I headed over to one of our favorite Thai restaurants. It’s really funny to realize there’s more than one in our hometown. It used to be the only restaurants we had were a couple of Chinese joints, a lot of steak and seafood houses, and fast food. Now we have three Thai restaurants, four Japanese restaurants, more Chinese places than you can shake a stick at, and a Greek restaurant. It’s so weird! But we went to one of our favorite places and stuffed ourselves.

It wasn’t easy rolling myself out of bed this morning because I could’ve used another day off, but I’m not cranky today. I’m…feeling good and relaxed and ready for the conferences to start.

Here’s to a great week!

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A Bittersweet Weekend

I’m so glad I’m off tomorrow. I might not be doing the parade thing, but I need another day off. The face is still sore from last week’s dentist appointment and the swelling is still there.

I actually felt great on Saturday. My face didn’t hurt much, I was able to talk and laugh without much pain. Maybe I did it too much. I had so many things planned for Saturday. I was going to run my errands in town, clean my house, and sit down to write. Only one of those things happened.

I got home from town, settled in to start doing laundry when I had a phone call from my dad. We don’t talk as much as I’d like and I’m partially to blame for that. We spent a few minutes chatting about his cruise, me and my sister’s injuries (my face, her leg), when he hit me with the reason he was calling. He found out last week that he has Mesothelioma, asbestos cancer. My heart stopped because, yeah, I’ve seen all the commercials about it and the class action lawsuits. I kept it together while talking to him because I could hear the emotion in his voice. He’s feeling fine physically, but it’s weighing on his mind.

As soon as I got off the phone with him, the tears started. I had to call my mom. I don’t know what she could have done for me, but it felt good to talk to her about it and cry a little. Then I had to call my sister who my dad had been trying to get in touch with. It’s weird, but all of that happened in less than an hour. I had a good cry, did a little research on the illness and brooded for a few more hours.

I decided that after this news I needed a little cheering up, I went to my brother’s house to see my nephew. There’s something about being around babies that makes all of my woes disappear. Maybe it’s because they’re starting out, they’re fresh and clean and so innocent, but Bennett brought a smile to my face despite his bronchial infection. Poor little mite has to have breathing treatments. The masks are bigger than his face, but they seem to help.

After I spent a couple of hours playing with him, I went back home just in time for my godson to stop by for a visit. God, I needed that. I told him about Dad, but we didn’t dwell on it. I hadn’t seen him since Christmas and just being around him again helped ease the rest of my worries.

Yes, I’m still brooding about Dad, but I’m…okay. He goes to a lung specialist next week and I’m sure the closer the date arrives, the more I’ll brood, but I can be strong for this, for him.

And on that depressing note, I’ll try to lose myself in my writing where illness is something easily fixed by shapeshifter genetics, or vampire blood, or something like that. I swear I’ll be more upbeat tomorrow.

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