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I write novels, eat dark chocolate, raise three children, love my husband, scrub toilets, ignore the laundry, and love a good story, but hardly ever in that order.

OPERATION BONNET

STRETCH MARKS

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ACT TWO

BOTTOM LINE

BALANCING ACT

Friday, April 29, 2016

Travel Products for The Savvy Among Us


Guys! Marc and I are going on a trip! Without the children! I'm so excited and also COMPLETELY AND UTTERLY EXHAUSTED from getting ready to keep my children alive from a distance. I want you to know that when I itemize all the duties I would have been doing while gone, it is clear that I should be making roughly $560,000 a year after taxes. I am amazing. I know this because I am needing to involve no fewer than EIGHT (8!!) friends over the course of three days to help keep my children alive. And this is only carpool! This is not food or water or putting kids to bed or feeding and walking the dog or general wellbeing. I'm talking transportation only.

So to the parents among us: GOOD JOB RUNNING WORLDS. You are fantastic and grossly, obscenely underpaid. Go itemize.

When I finish the last four loads of laundry, clean the guest bedroom and bathroom, pack, buy two birthday presents and a package of tortillas, and print out the three-page document for the babysitter, I'm going to go on a trip with Marc. I love him and I love travel, so I expect great things. I also expect him to be sweating when he finally sits down on the plane because Marc tends to get a little whipped up about travel. Happily for him, I have done a little research and have found some travel products that will make him the coolest Midwesterner in any exotic locale. First, I give you...

1. The Ostrich Pillow
 Right. So. This is a great option for those of us who want to blend into our new environment. Also practical if you want to have a head Koozie while you sleep. That can of Schlitz will be ready for you right when you wake up!

2. The Super Cool Fanny Pack
Because the fanny was only the beginning! Strap one of these bad boys around your breasts, under the armpit, up your back and over your shoulder. It's that easy! And tourniquets are ALWAYS in vogue!

3. The UpRight Pillow
This also comes with a drool cup. I'm kidding. But it does double as a neck brace after severe spinal cord injuries. It's that comfortable!

4. Laptop privacy hood
Listen, no one needs to see what you're typing. Or that you're watching The Gilmore Girls again. Or that you sweat when you wear wool head wraps. All of these things are very private and your business alone. No peeking, sicko business traveller sitting next to me. And stop staring!

5. And when you get on the plane....
 ...put away the wool Sneed hood and slap up one of these babies. No need to interact with your seat mate (even your spouse!), and no need for anyone to see your facial expressions during a plane ride. Because transportation should be isolating, and sometime I just need some ME TIME.

6. The Face-Kini
Break out that Midwest winter skin with confidence. No need to char when you can look like a terrorist AND keep wearing your goggles!

7. The portable spa


So sleek! So streamlined! You can be on Instagram while steaming those pores. And you can pop that squat right in the middle of Terminal B! Gwyneth Paltrow ALWAYS saunas after she flies. She probably uses this.

8. And finally, what every woman needs: a portable urine funnel.
Do you see that dancing girl on the box? She feels this light-hearted because she is no longer peeing down her leg AND she gets a snappy fuchsia carrying case. Skiing down a mountain and no restroom in sight? Climbing a rock wall and no potty in view? No prob! Just disrobe entirely on the slope or cliff face, put this bad boy into position, and you're good! Then carry the refuse with you for the next six hours! It's as simple as that!

I feel I have done you all a great service. Bon voyage, Godspeed, and enjoy your adventure!

Friday, April 22, 2016

Prince


Let's talk about Prince.

He was a genius.
Also, the hair. 
(Please note: This is Prince's most recent passport photo. MY most recent passport photo was taken when I was pregnant. I'm so happy I get to use it for a decade!)
But Prince. And the high heels.
And the fact that for awhile he was "the artist formerly known as Prince." 

Is it too soon to make fun of that? Yes? Too soon? 

When I was a young girl and my revered teenaged Aunt Jana was getting ready for her prom, she wore a purple dress. And the theme was Purple Rain. So Prince has always been associated with glamour and nail polish and Aqua Net for me. The trifecta of happiness.

Prince lived in Chanhassen, which is a suburb of Minneapolis. This endears me to him. No offense to L.A. and New York, but any alarmingly petite musical icon who chooses to spend his time in Minnesota gets a point or two for swimming upstream.

So I've been seeing the tributes, the odes, the love for Prince, the Spike Lee dance party. And I just have to wonder how people will remember me when I'm dead. I vote dance party after a really lovely unaccompanied Bach cello number. And man, do I hope there's some laughter. And lots of making fun of my bad hair years. Too soon? I don't think so.

I feel to the fiber of my being that this is not all there is, this life, this time. I love the spot in Ecclesiastes that says God has put eternity in a person's heart. We aren't wired for short gigs but for the long haul, for the after, for the real life and freedom God gives with open hands.  

I may or may not have made my junior high daughter listen to "Let's Go Crazy" this morning on the way to school. She seemed considerably less moved than I was. She's a little wary of a mother who can turn the death of a rock star into a discussion of mortality and God's goodness. 

She'll come around. I'll hit her up with "Raspberry Beret" and "Kiss" after school. Pretty sure that before long, I'll get her to dance.

Friday, April 15, 2016

Spring Fashion Report 2016


Spring has sprung! The buds on my viburnum smell delicious, my daffodils are in full bloom, and this sentence sounds like I know what to do in a yard. That's the prerogative of a blog writer. You get to lie at will.

To help you get the most out of your life, I here offer you a guide to this year's spring fashion. You're probably going to want to take notes.

**NOTE: I want you to know that I found these items when I searched "wearable spring fashion." 

Let's let that sink in a little bit. 

OK. Here we go:

1. The practical neckline. 
Listen, I love me some checked and I love me some plaid. But in my life, I do need to tie my shoes, pick up toys, and walk. I can't see the groceries staying put with any of those activities if I'm wearing this particular V-to-navel cut.


2. Face masks. They're not just for Spidey anymore! Think of the approving looks you'll get in the carpool lane. Nothing says "school safety" like the minivan mom rocking this look!

3. Florals and sadness. I just want to include this person, not only because of her winsome pairing of florals, but also because her tired and naked face was the one image with which I totally identified. This is the exact look I typically sport when hauling my daughter to 6:30 am choir practice. I also grab my beaded face mask because I don't want to be recognized. It never works.

4. Breast mesh. Again with the practical! I love this look! Perfect for book club!

4. Bows. I really do love these shoes. But I chose this photo for the pink bows. Pink bows of any size are VERY FLATTERING, but when they span the width of a woman's torso, you know you're on to something.

5. No comment.

6. Sometimes I worry about whether I should wear boots with a particular outfit. I can see I have been over-thinking. Also, let's be humanitarians and get this woman some lip gloss.

7. Everyone needs highlights in the spring. Please remember this. Also, everyone needs to trust bang cutting with the professionals. Also, Thea wants you to know she's worried about the eye make-up.

8. And finally, boob cut-outs. Just to remind the boobs where they need to land. Middle age is tough, friends, and sometimes we need direction.

Happy spring! Now go shop!

Friday, April 8, 2016

How much wood...


It's that time of year again.
The time of new shoots pushing through the dirt, the time of blue skies (if you don't live in Iowa this week), and the time of the woodchuck.

That's right. The woodchuck. That disgusting, weirdo animal that follows me wherever I go. I even moved houses a few years ago, but Chuckles followed me. Remember Chuckles
He's back. He loves me. I hate him.

I watched him emerge from under the deck yesterday and toddle around like a drunkard through my backyard. Don't ask me why he walks like he's just getting home from an all-night bender at Sigma Chi Omega. He just does. And then he suns himself on my deck.

The struggle is real and the hatred is strong.

HOWEVER, there are three bright spots with regards to Chuckles this year.

1. He is not a raccoon or an opossum. These are the two animals that win in the Make Kim Whimper department.

2. He is scared of our mini-Schnauzer. I like to let Scout out and then watch Chuckles run. Woodchucks, I will have you know, are not elegant sprinters. 

3. I'm onto Chuckles and his ways. And guess what? CHUCKLES IS A PLAYER.
This completely true tidbit is courtesy of my friend, Dawn, who knows my woodchuck angst and tries to lighten my burden by giving me incriminating dirt on Chuckles.

Here is how Chuckles lives his life: He hibernates in the fall. But then in February, he rouses from his nasty slumber (I'm sure he drools), and he straps on his Don Juan. Chuckles lumbers out of his lair (like all villains) and he checks on his ladies. Not joking. He pays visits to his possible shags, ALL CURRENTLY ASLEEP, and gets the lay of the land. Just checks on the girls, peeps in on their sleeping quarters, and then heads back to the lair to sleep another month.

CHUCKLES IS A CREEPER. He is a stalker. He is the guy living in his mom's basement and spying on all the pretty girls while they're sleeping.

What a sicko. Not only does he eat my deck footings, he's a Peeping Tom! He's a wannabe polygamist! He has no moral compass! And he's insecure!

I hope you're as disturbed as I am about this. Watch out. The world is full of deviants. Be careful, lock your doors, and if I were you, get a Schnauzer.

Friday, April 1, 2016

A Week in the Life


Good gravy, I'm tired. Why am I so tired? Are you tired?

You know this means we are old. We never used to be tired. Old people are exhausted. Probably because they have been walking and talking and processing and thinking and parenting for so long. And probably also because just seeing famous people gets wearying real fast.
One of the byproducts of being tired is that I don't journal. Don't say it. I already know. I'm a writer and I don't journal?!? I don't capture the life of my family with the written word?! Um, no. I write about fake people and their fake lives and giggle a lot at my own jokes. But I do not journal about my own family.

Maybe I should start. Like right now.

Here's our week in review.

1. Show choir costume checks. Black with "pops" of red and good twirling radius. All good. Plus, she's adorable. Put her in the front row. (P.S. Teenagers LOVE being called "adorable." I'm sure she won't mind this public post.)
2.  I got a massage from our in-house masseuse.  This was the "inforemashin" sheet provided. As you can see, I required everything offered, including magazines. I like to be entertained while I get "loshened."

3. Scout had LOOSE BOWELS. IN HIS KENNEL. So I took him to the vet and begged for the puppy version of the B.R.A.T diet. Or, I said, they could also take him to a farm and teach him to herd sheep. Either way, I wasn't leaving without something to solidify what needed to solidify.

He watched me as I negotiated.
I left with glorious little pills and extras that I am now rationing for the next time Chernobyl pays a visit. And a puppy is once again saved by his cute face. I am a shallow person.

4. Spring cleaning in kids' bedrooms. Here are two treasures that probably make you fly into a furious fit of jealousy. I know, I know. My life is better than your life. I hear that ALL THE TIME.


5. Fourth graders got to take home their new recorders this week. I think he's a natural.

No wonder I'm tired. Fake people are way less demanding. They never poop in their kennels and they don't care if I toss their collection of crusty, deceased insects.


 Happy weekend, everyone. And happy journaling. :)


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Friday, March 25, 2016

Amazing Grace


Today is Good Friday.

This term, "Good Friday," has caused no shortage of consternation at our dinner table over the years. 

"What is good about Good Friday?" 

Thea has a particular issue with the terminology. "Jesus died! A horrible, mean, painful death! He died and He didn't even do anything wrong! It should be called 'Crappy Friday' or 'Saddest Friday Ever' or 'Unfair Friday.'"

Point taken. All those adjectives work too.

Easter has not been the easiest holiday to explain to my kids as they have grown. When you throw in concepts like "propitiation" and "sacrifice" and "atonement," we all tend to get a little muddled. By the end of such conversations, I usually end up with one kid asking when we get to hunt for eggs, one kid thumping another on the forehead with his/her thumb and forefinger (see: need for atonement), and another telling me to pass the Peeps.
When I was in high school, I remember having a conversation with a friend about why we crazy Christians clung to Easter so much. Couldn't we just skip that death and resurrection part, my friend asked. Wasn't Jesus just as a great of a man and teacher without it? Wasn't all He said still true, even if He didn't rise from the dead?

I didn't know what to say when I was sixteen and pretty much scared of everything.

But now I'm super old and I would say that no, we can't skip that part. 

That's the part about new life, about battered, dead, broken things coming alive. 

It's the part that shows me to deep reservoirs of grace, and the older I get, the deeper I need those reservoirs to be. 

It's the part that defies the logic of what my sin and my emptiness and my brokenness should bring me and instead sweeps out the filthy corners of my heart, opens the heavy curtains, and lets fresh air and sunlight flood in.

I'm not a theologian or an apologist or a pastor or anything else that could impress you. I'm just a hot mess that clings to the story of Easter because I don't know anyone else who would do what Jesus did for me. And I need Him to bring my dead heart back to beating.

It truly is a really, really Good Friday. 

Beautiful Easter printables and many more lovely things at Emily Jones Design Company




Friday, March 18, 2016

Spring Break 2016


I visited my sister this week.
The kids and I got in the car to drive from Des Moines to Denver and 2765 hours later, we arrived. We had a lovely time. We hiked a mountain.
Some of us got courier service down the rough patches. 
 We saw some beautiful views and tried out avant garde hairstyles. I think this one is a winner.
 We visited a museum. SOME OF US wanted to read. Every. Single. Placard.
We looked cute. And we ate ridiculously large and ridiculously good biscuits at the Denver Biscuit Company, shocking onlookers.
When we ran out of placards to read, we visited one of my all-time favorite bookstores, The Tattered Cover. Bliss.
It was a fantastic visit. I want my sister to live closer to me and fulfill my own plans for her life, but since she has never really obeyed me, I'm happy she lives in a place with books and biscuits. I love her and her family so.

IN OTHER NEWS, if you are looking for a spring read, I have you covered! In new covers! Print copies of my five novels are up through Amazon here, and ebooks are also available through Amazon for your Kindle, iBooks for your Apple devices, Barnes and Noble for your Nook and Kobo on your phone, tablet or desktop. I'm so excited! The print copies came in the mail this week. Don't they look beautiful?!