Wednesday, June 23, 2010

You take the good, you take the bad, you take them both and there you have

One of the shows I grew up with, Facts of Life.

If you remember that show at all, then you remember Blair, the spoiled rich girl. What you may not know is what Lisa Welchel (the actress who played Blair) has been up to in the years since then.

Well I got to find out when an area magazine hosted a talk from Lisa Welchel as part of their five year anniversary celebration. While she has been speaking with the Women of Faith tour, this was totally different. For one thing, it was much smaller and more intimate. We made a girls night out of it with two wonderful friends.

It was such a fun night! Not only was Lisa (we are totally bff now) witty and funny, she was also very transparent about some of her heartbreaks. She talked about being Blair and being a christian in Hollywood, being a mom to young children, being a homeschool mom, and what caused her to write a book on adult friendships. She was very real.

After her talk - which was a sort of question and answer thing - she signed books and was available for picture taking.

Then we went to Aunte Pasta for dinner - one of my favorite places to eat. It was a wonderful girl's night out and one that was much needed. I had so much fun!

Saturday, June 19, 2010

For my dad

I hate cancer.

And the chemo is rough. I never had realized that the chemo can cause anemia which adds to the misery of treatment.

So that is why I am even more committed to giving blood, I remember seeing the difference it made for my dad to receive a transfusion. I remember seeing the color come back into his face, I remember how his voice would sound less tired.

Today, the day before Father's day, I gave blood while thinking of Daddy. He doesn't need it anymore but there are other dads and moms and children and grandparents that do need it.

I like to think that Daddy appreciates my Father's Day gift to him.

I miss you Daddy.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

I thought technology was supposed to make things easier

I used to like Windows Live Writer.

Until I realized that not every post that I published through them actually published.

If you like Live Writer, please be aware that I get random problems no one else ever does.

It seems to be my super power.

The trouble is that as a blond people think I have a lower IQ than average. So they think its my fault.


My wonderful husband decided that I needed a smart phone and I would actually use the bells and whistles on it. So after looking around I decided I wanted a Blackberry. At first I thought the Blackberry Curve but then decided with the spotty reception at my home I wanted a phone with a bit more oomph.

So then I thought the Blackberry Bold would be a great choice. Except it was out of stock so B*stB*y had to order it. So on Sunday they ordered it and said it should be there within 3 or 4 days.

Not a big deal and with the tracking stuff available now, I could obsess to my hearts content about when my phone would be in my hand.

Except it didn't seem to be shipping. It was supposed to ship within 24 hours and 2 days later, it still hadn't shipped.

And while I was waiting I was doing research and found out the Blackberry Bold 9700 seemed to be so much better than the Bold 9000. So Tuesday I thought that I could just go cancel the order - because it still hadn't shipped - and change to the 9700.


Because it was ordered in my husband's name, I couldn't cancel it. They were barely able to give me information on the order - and probably shouldn't have done that. Because in some things we are still stuck in the 1950s.

And hour later, I left with no new phone and the knowledge that my husband could call and cancel the order but it would be better to wait until the 9000 came in and return it to the store because they could do an upgrade reversal right then. If we called to cancel, we might have an extra few days before we could do the upgrade.

Except that that information was wrong.

The next day (Wednesday) the phone arrived at 5:00 and at 5:15 I was at B*stB*y wanting to swap out phones. At 9:15 I left with my old phone and with the knowledge that it takes an upgrade reversal 1-3 days and we would have been better off canceling the order and starting the upgrade reversal then. In that 4 hours, my husbands phone was shut off and then he had to have his sim card changed which meant all his contacts were messed up.

Friday I called our cell phone provider about something else - B*stB*y's maneuverings had put my husband's phone on the $30 data plan and his phone will barely text so I wanted to cancel it. I asked during the course of conversation how long the upgrade reversal would take and ended up telling the whole long convoluted story to the person I was talking to (believe it or not, I seriously simplified it here).

She asked for the number to the local B*stB*y to verify that I no longer had the phone and then her supervisor immediately put the reversal through so that I would FINALLY be able to go get a phone.

An hour later I had a new phone and two hours later we discovered that B*stB*y had somehow canceled my husbands voicemailbox - he wouldn't have known except I called to leave him a message and then told him I left a message.

Luckily our cell phone provider was able to easily fix it - but he might have missed some messages in those 2 days that he didn't have a mailbox.


My new phone, I love it. I actually get reception inside the house and don't have to tilt my head at a certain angle. I have a calendar that will actually sync with the computer and store more than 100 events. And I love the QWERTY keyboard. And don't get me started on the apps I have found.

I thought about doing an iphone but it seems almost like the Guess? jeans from high school and really, I am too old for all that. There were things that I don't like about it (I dislike the idea of a touch screen) and the only benefits I can see of an iphone over my blackberry is "words with friends" and the whole "everyone else has one". Quite frankly though, I would also feel like a lemming if I had gone with an iphone without better reasons than that.

Maybe at some point I will do an iphone but right now I <3 my blackberry.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

book review - Texas Roads

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!

Today's Wild Card author is:

and the book:

WordVessel Press (March 1, 2010)
***Special thanks to Cathy Bryant for sending me a review copy.***


Cathy Bryant is a proud member of FIRST and a country girl at heart. Her debut novel, Texas Roads, was a 2009 finalist in the American Christian Fiction Writers' Genesis competition. A Texas gal by birth, Cathy lives with her husband in a century-old Texas farmhouse, complete with picket fence, flowers, butterflies, and late summer mosquitoes the size of your fist.

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Product Details:

List Price: $12.99
Paperback: 304 pages
Publisher: WordVessel Press (March 1, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0984431101
ISBN-13: 978-0984431106


Chapter One ~ Longing For Home

Dani’s blue Honda Civic lurched and sputtered, drawing her attention to the neon-orange needle on the gas gauge. Empty. A frustrated growl rushed from her throat as she maneuvered onto the tufts of new spring grass at the side of the country road, turned off the ignition, and leaned her head back against the seat, berating herself for her forgetfulness. She’d love to blame this on the fight with her mother, but it wouldn’t explain the hundreds of times she’d made similar mistakes. One more to add to her collection.

She rubbed the dull ache building between her eyes, and stared at her surroundings on this Texas back road. Why did she choose today, of all days, to visit her aunt, a woman she knew only from chatty letters and a brief phone call?


She longed to escape. To disappear, to travel so far away that painful memories became yesterday’s ashes.

A stray tear wandered down her cheek and she banished it with a swipe. Today marked the one-year anniversary of Richard’s death. Death had robbed her—not only of her husband, but of her dream—and stamped her heart’s one desire with angry red letters: REQUEST DENIED. Thanks to the life insurance and the inheritance of her father’s company, a ridiculous sum of money now graced her bank account, but not enough to buy what couldn’t be purchased. A house, yes—but not a home.

Stop wallowing, Dani. She grabbed her cell phone and flipped it opened. No signal. Of course. She climbed from the car to scan the horizon. Nothing but tree-dotted pastures and a few cows. Breathing deep to quell the rush of panic, she closed her eyes and envisioned a sweet grandmother-type driving up to offer a ride. Her eyes fluttered open. Yeah, right. She wasn’t Cinderella. Godmothers didn’t exist. And Prince Charming? The biggest fairy tale of all.

Her marriage was proof.

Waiting to be rescued just squandered precious hours of daylight. She snatched her purse from the passenger seat, slammed the car door, and stamped toward Miller’s Creek. Like a scratched CD, Mother’s hurtful words from the earlier phone conversation replayed in her mind, and none of it made sense. Why did her mother oppose this visit to see Aunt Beth? And what had caused a rift the size of Texas between the two sisters?

A cramp commenced in her toes and inched into her feet. With a frown, she eyed her shoes. Heels weren’t exactly the footwear of choice for hiking country roads. Balancing her discount-store purse in the crook of her arm, she rifled through its contents, searching for the keys as she marched back to the car. A sudden realization forced her into a stilted run, and a strangled sound ripped from her throat. “Please, no!”

The keys dangled from the ignition, teasing her like chocolate candy behind a counter of glass. With a guttural groan, Dani tilted her face toward the cloud-darkened sky. “What do You have against me?”

The isolated countryside responded with silence.

On the continued trek toward Miller’s Creek, the hush enveloped her, the only sound an occasional bird’s song and the rhythmic thud of her heels against the pavement. So peaceful. So unlike the city’s unending drone. The bluebonnets and Indian Blankets of early spring painted the countryside, stretching beyond the barbed-wire fence into open fields, and the breeze tangled her hair. As she breathed in the fresh air, her shoulder muscles unknotted. Then a low rumble pulled her gaze to the clouded sky.

Heavy raindrops pelted Dani’s face and dotted her consignment shop designer jacket. Within minutes she was drenched, the metallic taste of make-up dribbling into her mouth. She kicked at a rock, self-pity seeping through her like the rain through her dry-clean-only suit.

With a shiver she hunched over and pulled the soggy jacket closer in an effort to get warm. Burning pain in her left little toe hinted at the formation of a blister, but she hobbled on, her thoughts on her aunt. Could Aunt Beth provide the sense of family she so desperately needed? She attempted to toss the question from her mind. One thing was for certain. Her drowned-rat-appearance would make a memorable first impression. Just not in a good way.

The faint roar of an engine sounded behind her and intensified. Finally. She turned to see an older model pickup top the hill, and waved her arms in an effort to make herself seen in the rain and approaching nightfall. The beat-up truck slowed to a stop and the window lowered.

Dani tried to swallow, but her throat clamped shut. This was no grandmother. With one finger, a dusty cowboy pushed up his sweat-stained hat, his other arm draped over the steering wheel. “Can I give you a ride, ma’am?”

Dani brushed the drippy hair from her eyes, resisting the urge to correct his grammar. The word was may, not can. “I…uh…r-ran out of gas.”

The cowboy smiled, his teeth white against his dirt-smudged face. “That’s not what I asked.”

With a glance in the direction of her car, Dani’s brain accelerated into high gear. “Actually, if you’d be so kind as to get me some gas—”

A soft chuckle resonated from him, and his eyes twinkled.

She hoisted her chin. How dare he laugh at her.

“Look, ma’am.” His picture-perfect smile disappeared behind the long line of his lips, his voice laced with impatience. “I know you’re concerned about accepting a ride with someone you don’t know. Can’t say I blame you. But by the time I get to town, get gas and get back out here, it’s going to be dark. Then you’ll have plenty of reason to be afraid.”

She raised a hand to her lips. What he said made sense, but could she trust him?

His mouth curled at the corners. “Coyotes are pretty bad in these parts. Sure wouldn’t want to be out here after dark. Especially alone.”

Coyotes? Dani yanked on the door handle and hoisted herself onto the grimy seat. After one breath in, she wrinkled her nose and sniffed. What was that smell? Eau de Sweat? She swiveled her head toward him and found his gaze trained on her, his face lined with suppressed laughter.

He needn’t be so amused. Dani fidgeted with the seat belt, and held it with one hand to keep it from riding across her nose. “I think someone up there must not like me.”

“What makes you say that?” He stared at her like she was mentally unbalanced and put the truck in gear.

“It’s just been a rough day. Like God has it in for me or something.”

He raised one brow. “I think God must love you a lot, or I wouldn’t have come home this way. Not many people use this road anymore.”

Dani drew in a sharp breath. Did God love her? She gave her wet head a shake, sending droplets of water to the worn seat. Yeah, right. No one could love her. Not even God.

Conversation lapsed as the rain continued its steady stream, thundering against the roof, yet unable to drown out the hum of the truck’s engine. What would’ve happened to her if he hadn’t driven by? The only coyote she’d seen were the ones in science videos at school. A surprising shudder scuttled down her spine, followed by a shiver that rattled her teeth.

The cowboy shifted her direction, his dark eyes focused on her ruined jacket. “You must be cold.”

Brilliant deduction, Sherlock. Were all small-town people as intelligent as him? “What clued you in? My dripping clothes or blue lips?”

He laughed out loud, a hearty sound that made her somehow feel better. “Feeling a little testy, huh?” His eyes sparkled with amusement.

She hung her head, half in shame and partly to conceal the smile that crept onto her face without permission. “Sorry.”

Dani started as he reached toward her, but relaxed when he pulled a brown suede leather jacket from behind the seat. “Here. This ought to warm you up.”

“Thanks.” She gripped the stained coat with two fingers, and examined it for signs of vermin. None she could see. “Looks…uh…nice and cozy.” She snuggled into its warmth and breathed in the light scent of men’s cologne.


Dani closed her eyes, the unwelcome memories and emotions clawing their way through her insides. The feelings still took her by surprise, crawling into her consciousness at unexpected times. Had she not been a good enough wife? Is that why he’d betrayed her?

“By the way, I’m Steve Miller.” The stranger’s silky baritone interrupted her thoughts.

She opened her eyes to find his hand extended toward her. “Dani.” She clasped his hand. Not as rough as she expected for a cowboy.

“You really shouldn’t be on the back roads without enough fuel, you know.” The look he gave her was stern, but kind.

Dani swallowed the sarcastic reply that popped into her head, and instead sent him a pasted-on smile.

His gaze rested on her wedding band. “Your husband not able to come along?”

The irony of his question made her grimace. At least the ring had served its purpose. She shook her head and focused on the passing terrain, some fields completely covered in wildflowers. How many more miles?

He leaned forward and made eye contact. “Been to Miller’s Creek before?”

“Once when I was little, but I don’t remember much about it.”

“It’s a nice place.” His voice held a hint of pride. “Any family there?”

She slid a hand over her wet hair and cleared her throat. Time to change the subject. Let him enjoy the hot seat for a while. “An aunt. What about you? Have you lived in Miller’s Creek long?”

His eyebrow cocked into a furry question mark. “All my life.”

“No surprise there,” she muttered to herself. She glanced at his filthy blue jeans and tattered shirt. It had probably been that long since he’d taken a bath. Immediate guilt rained over her. Ease up, Dani. At least he offered you a ride.

“Excuse the way I look. We had a fence to mend today at the ranch.”

Heat built up steam under her cheeks, and she averted her eyes. Okay, he wasn’t supposed to hear that.

His expression held nothing but friendliness. “I might know your aunt. What’s her name?”

She rubbed fingers against her damp pants. Was it wise to divulge that information?

“Never mind.” Steve held up a hand, a thin layer of black showing beneath his nails. “I know you city folks have to be careful about stuff like that.”

What was it with his ability to read her mind? “City folks? You make it sound like a disease or something.” She hugged her arms to her chest. “Besides, how do you know I’m from the city?”

“’Cause people from around here don’t dress up in such fancy duds.” His dark eyes glinted and her nerves unraveled more.

“True. They wear cowboy hats and drive beat-up trucks.”

His throaty laughter reverberated in the cab. “Guess I had that coming.”

Once again her cheeks fired up. Resting her elbow on the door, Dani leaned her hot face against her fist and wished for a punching bag.

“Which city?”

She stared at the tattered pickup cab ceiling and drew in a breath. “Dallas.” If they didn’t get to Miller’s Creek soon she was going to blow.

“Should-a guessed that.” Steve’s face scrunched up. “How can you stand living in the city with all that noise and traffic?”

“I suppose the same way you live with stinky old cows and a lack of civilization.” Her voice rose in frustration.

Dani wished the blurted-out words back in her mouth. Too late.

She started to apologize, but Steve spoke before she could get a word out. “You in business for yourself, or you work for a corporation?”

Where’d he get that idea? “I’m an elementary school teacher.”

“Really?” His brows notched up and he snickered.

Irritation seeped through the cracks of her frazzled nerves like floodwater penetrating a leaky dam. She twisted her head to glare at him. “Is that so difficult to believe?”

A smirky smile snaked across the cowboy’s face. “Guess not. It’s just that Miller’s Creek teachers don’t dress up like you. They get down on the floor with their kids.”

The dam burst wide open. “Well now it’s my turn to be amazed. I didn’t know small towns like Miller’s Creek had schools.” Dani huffed out the words then yanked her head around to clamp a hand over her mouth. What was wrong with her today?

Broken only by the swish of the windshield wipers and the pit-pat of rain drops, the silence hung between them, thick and sultry. Suffocating. She let out a slow breath and ducked her head to study him from beneath her lashes. Steve faced forward, the dark hair at the nape of his neck curling upward, his stubbled jaw locked. Most of her friends would classify him as handsome, but she wasn’t looking for a man. Not ever again.

He began to whistle, a shrill sound that chafed against her raw nerve endings. She pressed a hand to her temple. How much farther could it be? “Is there a convenience store in Miller’s Creek by any chance?” She tried to infuse her tone with kindness.

His cinnamon eyes turned on her—dry hot winds that withered everything in their path. “Of course. Right next to the community outhouse.”

A nervous giggle escaped before she could stifle it, but Steve’s daggered glare brought it to a quick halt. After a few minutes she peeked at his face, now chiseled from granite. Way to go, Dani. She’d already offended one member of Miller’s Creek, and hadn’t even made it to the city limits.

The rain ceased as they pulled into town, and Dani sat up straighter at the sight of country cottages lining the street. Homey. A little tired, but nothing a fresh coat of paint couldn’t fix. Tree branches arched across the road to create a living canopy. The sun, sandwiched between cloud and earth, changed the leaf-clinging raindrops to diamonds.

And children. Everywhere she looked. They splashed in puddles and chased each other across spring green lawns, their shouts and laughter a symphony of careless joy. So Mayberry RFD.

The hunger for home haunted her, and a familiar ache settled over her heart like ancient dust. “Unbelievable.” Dani whispered the word and relaxed into the seat, then glanced at Steve, his face impassive. She tried to push aside the fear of never finding a home, but it clung to her with razor-sharp talons.

In one deft movement, Steve jerked the pickup into a parking lot and came to a whiplash stop. She avoided eye contact and allowed the sign above the door to capture her interest. B & B Hardware? Dani peered to her right where two lanes of gas pumps stood, and a smile wiggled onto her face. A hardware-store-slash-gas-station. Only in a small town.

She plucked a hundred-dollar bill from her purse and offered it to him. “I appreciate—”

“Keep it.” Steve spat out the words and leaned away, his mouth a taut slash.

Surely he needed the money. His ragged jeans and this rattletrap he drove suggested as much. Dani squeezed her eyebrows together. For whatever reason, he wasn’t about to take the money, so she stuffed the bill back in her wallet, shrugged off the coat and handed it to him.

“Thanks for the ride.” With a release of the door she lowered herself to the ground.

Without looking her direction the cowboy put the truck in reverse, barely allowing her time to shut the door. As he tore out of the parking lot, his rear wheels spewed gravel.

Dani sucked in air and blew it out in a gush. Thank goodness that was over. Now to call Aunt Beth and end this nightmare. She faced the store, her heart pounding like a child on the first day of school.

My thoughts
I can't wait for the next one. 

I suppose that is a strange way to start but I loved this book. I had tears in my eyes at points and found myself laughing out loud in others. It is a beautifully written story with such realistic characters - I loved the Old Geezers and Mama Beth. I also loved that I wasn't able to guess what would happen next - there were a few twists and turns that were unexpected.

I have also had my own run-ins with making assumptions in a small Texas town  and then being grateful when I was proved wrong - like the time I locked my keys in the car over 150 miles from any family and the people who had made me nervous were the ones who helped me out.  

This is a delightful book with a wonderful message that is delivered deftly enough that it isn't preachy. I heartily recommend it.

Meet my new Swap Sister

Homeschool Post does a fun swap with homeschool mama's about every two months. They are so much fun, I love getting to know other homeschoolers. You really ought to check it out.

This time my swap sister is the lovely Susan from Homegrown Learning. She lives in West Virginia with her husband, one son and two daughters. She is a newer blogger but has an amazing blog and a wonderful marriage story. Please check her blog out here

As for what she sent me, I was not able to resist getting my fingers in the yarn.

So the beautiful black and luxurious red were new and in the package, but I had to start playing with them. She also sent me a gorgeous scarf hand knit by her mom and that was another reason my fingers were itching to get into the yarn - she said it was done with a simple garter stitch. Yet another reason I couldn't wait is the new knitting needles - I love bamboo needles but I only had a set of double points. And then to hold knitting projects, she sent two reusable bags with my initial on them. The red scarf is going like a dream - thanks to the bamboo needles and lovely yarn.

Thank you so much Susan!