Thursday, March 31, 2011

2011 100+ Reading Challenge: March

Below is the summary of books I read in February for the 2011 100+ Reading Challenge at Overstuffed Bookshelf.  I didn't read too many since I had a lot going on this month, but every little bit counts!

19 - 20.  Apothecarius Argentum vols 1 & 2 by Tomomi Yamashita.  I would classify this as historical fantasy shojo manga.  Fun series about a reluctant princess who reencounters a childhood friend and the complications that arise, due to the fact that this friend was once her food taster.  He's hot, all grown up, and works as an apothecary.  The catch?  He was trained since birth to swallow poison and as a result, his skin is poisoned.  I can't wait to pick up the rest of the series!

21.  The Good Man Jesus and The Scoundrel Christ by Philip Pullman.  Remember the Golden Compass?  Yeah, same author, same provocative take on religion.  The style was kinda similar to reading the Bible, but a little more fleshed out and gives a different perspective on the Gospels.  Regardless of your religious views, I think this is a fascinating commentary on how stories get started and it was very well written.  It definitely provokes the reader to ask questions and dig deeper into the story.

So there you have it!  Hopefully I will have a much longer list of books for review next month.  I have a bunch of non-fiction books I started but haven't finished; those always take FOREVER for me since I don't tend to get into them as much as fiction.  What can I say?  I like to lose myself in fictional settings!

Happy Reading,

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Spring Saturday

Spring is here to stay in central Texas and there was no way we could stay inside on such a gorgeous day!
Let's go already Mama!

We spent the morning going to our favorite garden store, Natural Gardener.  Even though my lemon tree is awash with blooms and my mint has grown back, we needed some more green to add to the patio.  Problem is we have a lot of shade, so we needed to chat with the folks at NG to find the right plants.  We got some really beautiful plants to pot and I am really excited to see how they grow.


While we were there at Natural Gardener, we spent some time visiting with the goats and chickens.  Billa loves visiting with the chickens and we got a cute video of her talking to the chickens with Daddy.



After we dropped Daddy off at work, Billa and I headed to Lowe's to get some additional planters and then to Target to grab a few other things.  Our Target recently expanded it's gorcery area, and there was a giant cow statue out in front of the store.  Billa was so excited, it's not even funny.  Here we are posing with the cow and mooing.



We capped off of our Saturday with a family dinner since Michael's dad was in town.  We went to Guero's and enjoyed enchiladas, tacos, and margaritas while visiting with Auntie Cait, Auntie 'Chele and Uncle Kevin, and Zeydi.  Before we knew it, it was time to go home.

Today we are cleaning house and finishing up our planting.  I'll be sure to post some pictures of the patio when it's done!


Monday, March 21, 2011

Still Waiting...

I had my second interview at work today for the PM position.  From what I gleaned, we will now most likely be staying in Austin.  One of the PM's that recently went on leave decided not to come back, and so her spot is open and it makes more sense to put me there (assuming they offer me the spot, of course!) than transfer me cross country.  I'm a little sad by that, because moving someplace new would have been a grand adventure, but Austin is a fantastic place and I do love it here.

I have to admit, that there is a certain amount of relief in knowing we most likely won't be moving.  I don't have to pack up all of our stuff or hire movers or try to hammer out the logistics of it while trying to adjust to a new workload.  I don't have to worry about finding a new church, or new doctors, or making new friends, or find a daycare for my daughter in a strange new place.

Of course, they could still decide to transfer us and if so, well, then I'll just suck it up and figure it out!  And we're still playing the waiting game.

Michael found out that his Borders will be open for about another week.  We knew that it was majorly optimistic to hope for it to stay open into April, and there is the possibility that while the storefront may close, he may still be working for a couple of weeks after that to pack everything up, sell the last of the fixtures, and shut it all down.  It sucks, but at least it's a little bit more finite information.  Since we will most likely be staying here in Austin, it means that Michael can be looking for a more permanent position in the meantime.

Everything is still in limbo, but I feel resolution coming and I can taste it on the tip of my tongue.  It's proof to me that the Big Man is listening.  I've been praying for patience and for something, anything to come in the way of relief.  While it's nothing with a huge fanfare, it's enough to calm my soul and keep me at peace.

Whatever happens, happens!


Sunday, March 20, 2011


It's been a roller coaster around here lately.  Our life seems to be composed of nothing but waiting.
Waiting to see if I get promoted to PM and if we'll be relocated to Atlanta.  Waiting for Borders to close and see what job prospects Michael has.  Waiting for upcoming events and parties to occur.  Waiting for old wounds to heal.

We're stuck in limbo and it's driving me crazy.  I've been praying for patience, but I'm failing miserably at it.  I'm sure there's a lesson somewhere in all of this about enjoying each step of the journey blah blah blah. 

Meanwhile, back in reality, I'm trying to keep myself occupied by writing, spring cleaning the house, reading, and being social with people.  I've really enjoyed visiting with friends and family lately, something that we hadn't been able to do for a couple of months since the liquidators at Borders kept scheduling Michael for closing shifts.

Currently, I'm on a mission to declutter the apartment.  It feels heavy in here most days, and I think it's because of the crap we have.  We haven't really deep-cleaned in some time and we've been accumulating more stuff: the rest of Michael's things from when we were separated, books bought on clearance at Borders, toys and clothes from Christmas and Billa's birthday, and more.  I can't function and focus in clutter.  I think getting rid of a lot of things will help us to calm down, relax, and maybe allow some positivity and good energy into our lives. 

The process is made harder not by getting rid of things, but because we find things that cause old hurts to bite all over again.  We weren't very organized during our separation, so it's hard to know what you'll find in a box or a bag.  I wish we could just chunk it all into the trash, but we have to gather receipts and other important papers for our taxes.  Part of me wonders if it's more worthwhile to take the financial hit than the emotional one.  Would ignorance be bliss right now?

Despite the difficulty and frustration we're experiencing, it's given us an opportunity to see firsthand just how much we've changed and what else we need to work on.  We've come a long way, but there is still a long way to travel and it's hard to place faith in the process sometimes.  Perhaps that's the lesson in all of this: learning how to trust openly–ourselves, each other, and God.  I hope that I can move closer to that goal; I think my life would be much better for it. 

I pray that we'll get answers soon.  I know God will provide for us just as he always has.  In the meantime, it's yet another waiting game. 


Friday, March 18, 2011

Red Dress Club: Detour

Breathe in.

Breathe out.

Breathe in.

“Rachel!” Dr. Smith breezed into the room, interrupting her thoughts. She usually enjoyed his upbeat nature, but today Rachel wanted nothing more than to smack the smile off his face.

She’d spent hours offering up her vital fluids, her anxiety ratcheting up until she thought she’d explode. Her phone buzzed with incoming emails, text messages, and missed calls, further aggravating her migraine. Her face felt warm and she was certain her blood pressure had risen 100 points in the last fifteen minutes. The phone buzzed again.

“Do you need to get that?” Dr. Smith asked cheerfully.

“No,” she said sharply.

“I’ll get right down to it then!” he chirped. Rachel leaned forward, her manicured fingernails threatening to punch through the blue vinyl on the table.

“Good news, Rachel. No cancer!”

She blew out a breath of air and relaxed. No cancer. She was fine! Or was she? She frowned.

“Then what is it?” she asked.

He grinned. “You’re pregnant!”

“Wait, what? You mean, I’m going to have a baby?” She grabbed his arm, eyes narrowing. “Are you sure?”

Dr. Smith’s face softened. “I know this is unexpected,” he said gently.

“I can’t be pregnant! How did this happen?” she exclaimed, her voice rising.

He shifted awkwardly. “Uh, well—“

“I know how the reproductive cycle works, Doc,” she snapped. “I meant, how could this happen to ME?” She stared at her hands.

“It could be worse,” he reminded her. “I’ll have the front desk pull a list of doctors for you in case—,” he paused, searching for the right words. “In case you wish to go a different route.” He exited the room.

A baby. This didn’t make sense, she thought.  She couldn’t be a mother.  She didn’t have a maternal bone in her body.  She never babysat.  She wasn’t married.  She didn’t even have a boyfriend!

She felt disoriented as she donned her carefully folded Armani suit.  Her designer wardrobe!  The six figure salary!   She wanted to run back to her corner office as fast as her Jimmy Choo’s would take her. This wasn’t part of her plan to conquer the advertising world.  She’d worked hard to get here; she couldn’t throw it all away now.  She wasn't ready for this.  She clutched her belly and fought the urge to vomit.

Swallowing her guilt, she made her way to Billing.  She quietly placed her credit card in the receptionist’s waiting hands, signed the receipt and shouldered her purse.  The woman pushed a manila envelope towards her.

“What’s that?”

“The list Dr. Smith promised you.” Rachel searched the woman’s face, but couldn’t find anything.   She sighed.

Something bumped into her as she took the envelope. A pair of green eyes, sparkling with mischief, peered up at her.

The little girl was angelic with her round cheeks and soft golden curls pinned back by a huge pink bow.   She grinned at Rachel and ducked behind her legs.  Tiny warm hands gripped her knees, surprising Rachel and forcing the breath out of her body.

“Callie, where’d you go?” a voice called.   A woman appeared and Rachel stood frozen, watching her with widened eyes.  The child giggled.

“Callie!” the mother admonished. “I’m so sorry!” she apologized to Rachel. She scooped up little girl scolding her.   Callie looked back at Rachel and waved.

“Ma’am?” the receptionist asked, breaking into her thoughts.

She stared at the envelope clutched in her hands and laid it on the counter gently.

“Thanks, but I don’t think I’ll be needing this.”

This post was written as part of The Red Dress Club's Red Writing Hood. This week, we were asked to write a 600 word piece (fiction or non-fiction) about a time when we took a detour: where were we going and where did we end up? As always, constructive feedback is most appreciated!


Friday, March 11, 2011

Red Dress Club: Ugly as Sin

“We are NOT keeping it.”

“Please?” Myra’s hazel eyes begged.

A dog, she called it, though it hardly resembled one at the present moment. Its ears were torn, tail crooked, and fur caked in mud. Mud that also caked my daughter’s new dress and freshly cleaned kitchen floor. The “dog” snuffled and ran a pink tongue over its nose.

“Did that thing just eat its boogers?” I asked in disbelief.

Myra snickered. “It’s a dog, Mom! Isn’t he adorable?” She pressed her dirt-streaked face to his and was rewarded with sloppy kisses.

I fought back the urge to vomit.

We’d wanted a dog for some time, but my heart was set on a Black Lab or German Shepherd, the sturdy farm dogs of my youth. I wanted a large dog with glossy fur and excellent breeding. Not only was this dog’s parentage a mystery, he was small, crusted in filth, and looked like he’d hit every branch of the Ugly Tree on the way down.

I wanted an All-American dog, not an All-American reject.

“Where did you find it?” I asked, trying to keep my voice even.

“In the park. Another dog was attacking him and I saved him!” she said proudly.

“You got between two fighting dogs?” I gaped. “Myra, that’s dangerous!”

"Mom, he would’ve been torn to bits!” she argued.

“He already has, if you didn’t notice.”

“Don’t worry, once he’s cleaned up a vet can fix it!”

“He’s ugly as sin! Nothing can fix that!” I protested.

Ignoring me, she carried the dog to the sink and filled it with soap and water. I rolled my eyes and set about mopping the floor. Patience is a virtue, I reminded myself.

After a few minutes, I snuck a peek at Myra’s progress. She sang softly as she scrubbed, and I paused to watch.

A ray of sunlight caught on the flaxen highlights in her hair and dust motes swirled in the air. I smiled, remembering the word Myra used for them as a toddler: fireflies. She would jump and clap her hands trying to catch them, leaving me in tears from laughing so hard. Now on the cusp of adolescence, the buds of breasts beginning to swell under her clothes and baby fat melting away, my chubby toddler was a young woman.

Bubbles zoomed skyward as the dog slipped in the water and he snapped at them. Myra laughed, that deep belly laugh I rarely heard these days, and I should have known then that I’d lost.

Watching her bathe the dog, the trappings of adolescence fell away and for just a moment, I got my baby back.

I wiped a tear away and sighed, startling Myra. The pre-teen mask snapped back into place as she watched me warily.

The dog’s tongue lapped at my fingers as I examined her handiwork. His sparkling white fur was dappled with black patches. He didn’t look half bad now that he was clean, but he would need some work. I cupped his face with my hands and stared into liquid brown eyes that mirrored my own gratitude and love. How could I refuse him when he’d given me something I thought lost forever?

“I think Waverly would be a good name.” I said slowly. “To match his tail.” I gently ran my finger over the kinks and he barked happily.

Myra stared openmouthed.

“You mean I can keep him?!” she shouted. She swung the pup in her arms, flinging water across the kitchen. “Hooray! Mama says you can stay!”

I’m such a sucker, I thought.  But it was worth it.

Word Count: 600

This post was written as part of The Red Dress Club.  This week's prompt asked us to write a 600 word maximum piece about something ugly–and to find the beauty in it.  Feedback is much appreciated!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Billa's 3rd Birthday Recap

We finally got around to celebrating Sybilla’s birthday!

Beautiful girl!  I love this picture!

I wish I had more pictures, but unfortunately, my camera went unused, since I was socializing and having such a good time that I totally forgot to use it!  So family members who are reading this and have pictures, please send them my way :)

Michael: "Psst! Billa, you have something on your lip."
Billa: "WHAT?!"

We kept it pretty simple and limited it to family with just a couple of friends.  We had a Scooby Doo theme, so Billa’s Scooby Doo lunchbox, beanie baby, and action figures got in on some of the décor.  I always hate it when I’m left with nothing but knives at the end of a party, so I told myself I wasn’t going to serve any food that required flatware.  We served orange creamsicle cupcakes, Oreo truffles, sugar cookies, fruit skewers, sushi, chips and dips, cheese, and veggie crudités.  It was perfect for a tea time get together and clean up was super fast, which made visiting afterwards very enjoyable indeed.  And I admit, I did not bake the cupcakes from scratch, although the frosting was homemade.  That’s just non-negotiable in my book!

Zeydi is being silly!

The weather couldn’t have been more beautiful and our friends Kellie and Anthony were gracious hosts to let us use their home for the venue. They’d mowed the yard and set up a bunch of chairs around the fire pit for everyone to sit in and the atmosphere was so relaxed.  The kids played on the swing set while the grownups visited with one another.  We nixed singing “happy birthday” and lighting candles since people couldn’t wait to eat cupcakes, but we did sit around to watch Billa open her presents, which was funny, since all the kids jumped in and were unwrapping stuff together.  Billa, Madeleine and Cameron are thick as thieves and I will be sad for the day when they stop being so nice to one another at present time!

Mommy helps Billa unwrap her presents

Billa showing off her new apron from my friend Anna to Michael's mom

Billa received a play kitchen from the Marino family.  Their kids had outgrown it and we’d been looking at some for Billa anyway, so it worked out perfectly.  She also received a new big girl car chair from Michael’s dad (who drove here and back from Oklahoma in one day!), some books, a new Scooby Doo movie, and lots of cute dresses and clothes.  My friend Anna also bought an adorable apron for Billa, which tied in wonderfully with the play kitchen.  Of course I want one for myself now, lol!  We hadn’t expected any presents, and we are so grateful for all of the things that Billa got.  She is well loved and we are blessed to have so many friends and family around us.


Here’s to another year, Sybilla!

Love, Mommy & Daddy

Friday, March 4, 2011

Red Dress Club: The Adventures of Capt. Marius, Esq.

With a strong breeze filling her sails, the Queen’s Key raced homeward at a merry clip.  Heavy with goods pilfered from Spanish ships, we were riding high on spirits in the bright August sunshine.  The waves crested gently across our bow and God willing, we’d be home before Michaelmas.

But as quickly as we’d left port, the waters darkened and the swells grew higher. The blackening sky felt heavy and the winds gusted violently.

“Hurricane’s a-coming!” the crow’s nest called.  The crew threw their weight into the lines as the ship strained against the sea.  Rain stung our eyes and the decks quickly became deadly slippery.

“Man overboard!” someone screeched.

“Tie your lifelines!” I shouted, but the words were thrown back into my mouth by the wind.  I struggled to keep the wheel steady as the Key tossed about, but alas, it was too much!   Blinded by rain and mist, I couldn’t see the rocks ahead and the wheel was torn from my hands.   The ship shuddered and groaned, splitting in two.  The crew screamed as we were pitched into the swirling water.

Desperately searching for flotsam to cling to, I winced as my face smashed into rock by the crashing waves.  My hands gripped an outcropping and I clung to it, exhausted.

The wind tore at my back and despair settled like a stone in my belly.  How much more could I take? Where were my men?   I strained my ears for their cries, but the wind screamed, whipping around me.

Suddenly I heard a voice above the wind’s howl.  Could it really be?  Was someone else alive?

“HERE!” I cried. “I’m here!”

“Captain!” the voice called, soft and soothing.  I stiffened.  Something was wrong.

“Curse you!” I shouted. “I won’t be swayed by a siren’s song!”

“Captain Marius,” the voice moaned louder. “Come with meeeee!”

“Never!” I hugged my rock as I watched with dismay as the rest of the Key sank beneath the roiling water.  The crew, the goods, my ship, all lost!

“Captain Marius,” the voice tried again, this time with urgency.

“No,” I whispered, shutting my eyes tightly and scrambling further up the rock. “No, I won’t go!” I shouted.

“Don’t be silly,” the voice crooned. “The storm is leaving. Loooook!”

I opened my eyes and blinked. The siren spoke truly; the water WAS ebbing away.

“This can’t be!” I cried. “What’s happening?”

“It’s called ‘bedtime,’ Missy May,” Mama’s voice thundered.

“Who is this Missy May you speak of?” I growled. “I’m Captain Marius, the fiercest sailor on the seven seas!”

“You’re certainly fierce!” she laughed. “Come on, out of the tub!”

“Never!” I shouted, diving back under the water. It swirled around me as I searched the bubbles for the plug. Mama snickered and I looked up to see it dangling from her hand.

“I’ve changed my mind.” I scowled. “You’re not a siren. You’re a harpy!” I screeched.

Mama cocked an eyebrow and placed her hand on her hip.

“Out. Now.” Her tone was icy, dripping with venom. I pouted as I climbed out of the tub. Definitely a harpy, I thought.

I stood naked and shivering as she toweled me off, combed my hair and dressed me in my jammies. Captain Marius wouldn’t complain, neither would I.   Mama washed the suds down the drain, carefully placing my toy boat at the back of the tub to dry.   As she carried me out of the bathroom, I took one last look.

“I’ll be back, me hearty,” I whispered as the light flicked off.

Word Count: 593

This post was written as part of The Red Dress Club. This week's prompt was to write a 600 word piece - fiction or non-fiction - inspired by one or both of these statements: "Water gives life.  It also takes it away." 

Thursday, March 3, 2011

2011 100+ Reading Challenge: February

Below is the summary of books I read in February for the 2011 100+ Reading Challenge at Overstuffed Bookshelf.

13.  Darkfever by Karen Marie Moning - paranormal thriller and romance.  Apparently the author typically writes romances and this is considerably darker fare for her.  It was action packed, quick paced, and downright morbidly funny.  The story is about a Barbie-esque gal of 22 who goes to Ireland to avenge her sister's death and what she finds is a whole world of things she thought were fictional.  Definitely an interesting must-read if you like Twilight or the Sookie Stackhouse series!

14. Bloodfever by Karen Marie Moning.  The second book in the series mentioned in #13.  Couldn't put it down!

15. Faefever by Karen Marie Moning.  The third book in the series mentioned in #13.  Couldn't put it down!

16. Dreamfever by Karen Marie Moning.  The fourth book in the series mentioned in #13.  Couldn't put it down!!!!  And dangit, I have to wait awhile before i I can get my hands on Book 5.  Waaaahhh!

17.  The Magic Thief by Sarah Prineas.  This was a super fast read since it's young adult/kid fiction.  This was also a great read!  I love her use of imagery in the novel and the world she's created. It's simple, accessible, and yet it excites the imagination.   It's about a thieving gutterboy who ends up as the apprentice to a wizard after he steals the wizard's most prized magical tool.  His talents pique the curiosity of the wizard and he goes on to save the city he lives in.

So that's my list!  It's a bit shorter than last month, but that's because I ended up going on a reading strike for a bit.  I'm currently reading The Artist's Way by Julia Cameron and one of the weeks in the program asks you to not read for a week.  OMG, I thought I would DIE.  I never really fully deprived myself (um, does blogging count?), but I at least tried to not read any other novels or books to accomplish part of the process.  But now that's over and March is here, mwahaha!

Look out library, here I come!


Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Weeble Wobble Wednesday

I'm calling today Weeble Wobble Wednesday because that's what I feel like.  I have no idea what's caused me to wake up feeling a bit dizzy, but I feel like the leaning tower of Pisa this morning whenever I'm standing.  Good times!

In all fairness, the dizziness could be brought on by the pizza and suds we consumed last night, but I didn't partake of that much and I drank lots of water, so who knows?  Honestly though, I think it's due to the fact that my world has been rocked recently. 

As I was driving home Sunday, I called my parents to tell them about my win at the cake show.  My dad confirmed something that I pretty much knew, which was the fact that my 90 year old grandmother has been diagnosed with breast cancer.  I'd known she had an oncologist appointment last week and had prepared myself for it, but I hadn't prepared myself for the wave of emotions that crashed over me when I actually admitted to myself that my sole surviving grandparent might not be around much longer.  My family has had it's share of hardships and suffering and I know a lot of that created deep wounds in all of us.  I haven't been the best granddaughter as a result, and I felt immensely guilty over the fact that I don't visit with my grandmother as much as I should.  Michael reassured me that as long as Maw Maw is still here, I still have time to see her and make amends for my lack of visiting her.  I felt much better about that and am planning on visiting her sometime this week and help her with anything that needs to be taken care of.

I've also been rocked by recent developments at work.  I've been feeling a bit stagnant with where I'm at, and for several months I'd been bugging my manager to let me take on more responsibilities and start working towards becoming a project manager.  He and his manager have been incredibly supportive of this, and they agreed to let me start shadowing some of the PM's so that I could learn some more about it.  Then crazy Q4 hit and we all forgot about it. 

Now that things have settled down a bit, I asked him about it again last week and he told me he couldn't talk about it yet because he was waiting for more info from his manager.  Yesterday morning he called me and told me that they were going to skip shadowing for the job and instead outright interview me!  He also told me to think long and hard about relocation as there is a very strong possibility that they may ask me to move to a new office they want to open. 

This happened about five minutes before I had a meeting, so I was a little shell-shocked.  I was wearing my best "deer in the headlights" look that's for sure!  It was certainly hard to focus the rest of the day, what with all the questions running through my head about what a move would entail, would I be able to handle a move as well as a position change, how will it affect my family, does this new city have good Tex-Mex, etc.  (Hey, a girl has her priorities you know.  I need to know that I can get some decent enchiladas, guacamole, and margaritas without too much effort!)

Granted, this is all up in the air right now.  I have to be approved for the position firstly, and then they have to decide whether they're going to open the new office, but it sounds like it's 90% certain that this will all happen.  I can't help but feel that this is all happening for a reason. 

Since starting the Artist's Way back in January, I've been amazed at how much the book has really helped me as a writer and an actor.  I can't help but think that this week's theme of Abundance is part of what's happening to me recently.  I didn't ever think I would act again or work in production and yet, I'm now heavily involved in the production team at our church and performing this upcoming Sunday! I'm writing more frequently and getting positive feedback on it from the peeps at Red Dress Club.  And now, my career seems to be taking off. 

It's a lot to take in and it's no wonder I'm feeling a bit like a weeble wobble!  But you know what's funny about being a weeble wobble?  Is that no matter how much you knock them around, they never fall completely over.  So while this all may be a bit much to take in, I know it's not the end of the world.

Wobbly yours,


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