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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.



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Monday, March 25, 2013

Hope Springs Eternal

Is it over yet?
This is the disheartening visual of my attempt to ascend our driveway this morning after taking Ana to school. I didn't make it. After schlepping Thea in my arms up to the house, her fingers a death-grip on my coat as I slipped and slid, I felt it was time to (A) e-mail this photo to Marc, who is out of town with Mitch visiting Marc's parents in a warmer climate and (B) come to you all, my friends hither and yon, for some encouragement.

Several times this winter, friends have gently encouraged me to buy a sun lamp to train on my sad, pale face and give it the Vitamin D (and cheeriness) it so desperately needs. I will not because I am vain and don't want to end up like this. 
But I did pray OUT LOUD and WITH MUCH FERVOR this morning for God to please bring spring and soon. 

While I wait, can we compile a list of the things we anticipate most about spring? Humor me. 

Here are my top five:

1. Strawberries
2. Tulips
3. Walks in the neighborhood wearing only a light coat and not enough fabric to swath the Statue of Liberty.
4. Open windows!
5. Family bike rides where no one ends up sobbing, grumpy or disoriented after all the exertion. Okay, that one might be shooting the moon, but hope keeps us going, right?

And you? What's on your list?

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Gene Pools and Other Dangers

I heard recently that some people just do not possess the close-the-drawer gene. Evidently these particular humans are simply unable to remember to close drawers and cupboard doors after they have opened them.

This seems like sketchy science to me (and in fact, my source was absolutely unscientific), but I have decided to work with this. I happen to live with two individuals who are poster people for this gene. The Two Who Shall Not Be Named seem to have mental blocks when it comes to closing drawers and instead leave them wide open so that I am continually bruising my hip, saying naughty words, and then wondering aloud what, exactly, is so challenging about closing drawers.

The Two Who Shall Not Be Named also like to spray water when they use the bathroom faucet. I'm talking art work in water spots. I have, and this is not a lie, seen water spots that extend to the top of our bathroom mirror, a distance of EIGHT FEET FROM THE FLOOR. This seems excessive. It also makes me wonder what, exactly, The Two Who Shall Not Be Named look like when they wash their hands.
But I feel great relief knowing there is a genetic component here. First, the gene pool excuse will give me pause the next time I want to shriek about my hip bruise. And even more important, genetics will encourage me that sometime, far down the line of our genealogy, perhaps this inferior gene will be wiped out and all Stuarts everywhere will only love each other as God intended, shutting drawers and cupboards right in left, in perfect harmony.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Thanks and an Update

Hi, all.

Thank you for praying for Jada. This has been a rough week, but I think little Jada and her strong mama (and grandma!) are on a slow downhill slope. Please do remember her in your prayers and thank God with me that she is healing.

Lindsay blogs beautifully and usually with a frequency that makes her older sister's head spin. She posted an update here. You can see post-surgery photos of my courageous niece and her brave mommy.

Much love to you all--


Monday, March 18, 2013

We Are Family

 Take a gander at this lovely girl.
My niece. Jada Rae. So stinking cute, it's nearly painful.

I adore her, as I do her mama, her daddy, and her brother. Jada is recovering from a big-dog surgery she underwent last week to repair her cleft palate.
I am in awe of smart doctors and their moxie to fix a tiny mouth by putting it all back together. I am in awe of my little sister, who has big faith and a peace that passes our human understanding. I am in awe of Jada and her courage, her resiliency and her willingness to sip strained yogurt through a straw, all on the road to recovery. And of course, absolutely, with knees and heart bowed, I am in awe of the God who knit Jada together to begin with and who now holds her tiny hands in His while she waits for full healing.

God is big. I am very, very tiny. Oh, how He loves us.

Love you, sweet girl. You'll be scarfing Cheerios and shooting hoops with your brother again in no time.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Spring Fashion 2013

Because I love you, I have gone ahead and condensed a spring fashion guide right here, right now. You may write me a thank-you note. But please only do so if you are wearing one of these featured ensembles.

First we have the ever-beloved crotch pant. 
 Because we all have great reasons for accentuating that particular part of the body.

Next up, the day-glo pink evening gown with chandelier embellishment.
 I know the model looks angry but really she loves this dress and can't wait to wear it to....lots of places.

Next, for those days when you want to feel anonymous:
 (Extra credit question: Are there many real, life humans who wear ankle boots well? I fear my ankles look like stuffed sausages, so I'm not exactly excited to draw the eye to that region. Anyone?)

This photo makes the cut just for the hat. Please, please buy this hat and wear it to church and volunteer in the nursery. 
Finally, we have the best spring fashion tip ever: Wear your crown in public.
Take it off that top shelf in your closet and wear that thing! Stop hiding under a bushel, princess. Put on that red jeweled dress with the holes and crown it up!

I hope this clarifies all those confusing messages from the fashion world. Go in peace! Stuff those ankles in! And rock the crown!

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Holding Out for A Hero(ine)

I'm really so sad about this man in the news.
As you might know from this post we are obsessed with the Olympics. When Mr. Pistorius ran in London this summer, all five of us cheered until our voices cracked. I cried when I heard the humility and grace with which he handled the press.

And now he is accused of murder.

Mitch was absolutely frantic for an explanation. "Maybe he thought there was a bad guy in his house, Mom. I'll bet that's it. He probably thought he had to protect himself." 

I so, so hope he's right.

This whole thing made me start thinking about heroes, how precious they can be, how much light they can bring to a kid looking for inspiration and hope.

Here's one of mine.
Tracey O. Here she is gamely posing with the photo of a man who we wanted her to marry. She wisely did not, though she did humor a group of junior high girls by holding his photo and a fake bouquet. Note: 1989 was a rough year for hair. Tracey succumbed to the mullet, and darn it, I did too.
Note the height. And the floral turtleneck. I was VERY CONFIDENT in this ensemble. Teal gave me confidence back then. Teal and lots of White Rain.

So Tracey was a youth group worker at my church and she spent hours upon hours with me, mentoring me, laughing with me, praying with me. She taught me how to survive a shaving cream fight, how to laugh and ski down a hill at the same time, what to treasure in a friendship, and how to pick a good husband. She did it all, people.

I owe her. I look at my own kids and pray they will find a Tracey to guide them through the rough waters of middle school and high school. I'm planning on being here, too, but there's just something about a non-parent mentor, right?

Thanks, Trace. You're the rock star of rock stars. A heroine in the most complete, human sense of the word. I'm such a fuller, wiser, kinder person for having walked beside you. May the God you taught me to love rain down blessings on you for the gift you are to me. 

(And may we never, ever give in to the temptation of a mullet again.)

Monday, March 11, 2013

How To Be A Writer

When I first got into this writing gig, I thought I would camp out in a cozy attic room with a gabled  ceiling, a roaring fire, and classical music playing in the background. This was the first of many, ahem, misunderstandings about the publishing world. Sometime I'll tell you the story about when a certain VIP in publishing asked me not to use the word "boobies" in my book. 

It's been a long road.

Here is the real story of how it works, in semi-animation. God bless author Nathan Bransford who put this together.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Love Letter To Carbs

I do so love to eat. I am not the girl who forgets a meal. I have never understood people who say, with genuine surprise, "Oh, dear golly! I was so busy, I forgot to eat lunch!"

No, no, never. 

I also love breakfast and dinner. And dessert. I like to cook and then I like eating what I cook. 

Is that so wrong?

I just can't imagine coming to the end of my earthly tenure and saying, "Gosh, I wish I hadn't eaten chocolate cake." Or, "Dear Gussie, I should never have enjoyed cinnamon rolls. Cinnamon rolls were my undoing!"
Now, listen, you health people. I'm not saying I should sit down at an all-night buffet four times a week and inhale all sorts of saturated fats in solid, liquid and gas forms. But I do think we can enjoy food without feeling miserable about ourselves. All foods! In reasonable portion sizes! Embrace the love!

My new novel has a lovely amount of food in it, so I have food on the brain. Today, I'm thinking about this.
And this.

And God bless them, these.

Clearly, winter is having its effect. I don't see a lot of leafy greens represented here...

You? What makes your mouth water these days?

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Do as I say...

The danger of having children is that they imitate you. Sometimes this is flattering, like when they quote your favorite poet or sing your favorite Puccini aria. I speak hypothetically as this has not yet happened at our home. But there are nice imitations, I'm sure of it.

And then there are those days when imitation is not flattery at all. Instead, imitation is one way to work up a scarlet blush in front of your pastor. ("My mom has boobies and my dad does not!") Imitation can make you question if you have ruined your children forever, and they haven't even made it to middle school. (Shrieking at a teddy bear: "Stop crying or you're going to have the longest time-out in history!") And imitation can remind you of your need to go shopping.

We need new bedroom curtains. It is so bright in there, I often wake up worried that I now live on the surface of the sun. Things are so dire, I have taken to sleeping with a black tank top on my head so I can fake my eyeballs into deep slumber.

Today I came upon a four-year-old in the midst of a very technical game of pretend. She was at the part of the game when she was taking her pretend nap. I inspired her eyewear.
Time to go shopping, people. I need curtains. My daughter is wearing her shorts on her head and thinks this is normal sleeping behavior. I'm shopping and then I'm going to start learning poetry and arias so Thea can spout those off, word by word, note by note, in the spitting image of her mother. 

Friday, March 1, 2013

Animal Planet

Whither we go, we are followed by wildlife. Don't swoon, you animal lovers. Don't get happy, you people who like to spend free time at Pet Mart, the zoo, or walking the fields and finding wildlife living their wild lives.

We have these.
 And these.
And most recently, these.
(I did not take this photo, but there were two of these critters staring at me from my basement window the other night. I screamed like a ninny and did not go get my camera. I got Marc, who seemed much less concerned than I. Men are odd.)

The hunchback kills me. I cannot love them. I know God made them and my Sunday school teacher always said God doesn't make junk, but I'm just not entirely sure he doesn't make exceptions sometimes.

Raccoons are icky and scary and nocturnal and they like to eat little human babies. OK, I haven't confirmed the last bit but I'll bet they do. How would we know? They're awake at crazy hours and they're stealthy!

I know I'm infecting my children with my aversion toward animals that poop in my yard. Thea saw a photo of baby raccoons the other day and she cooed, "Ooooh, they're so cuuuute!" I gave her a time-out and made her write an essay on why raccoons are vile. Sure, she cried for awhile, but I can be nothing if not truthful to my children, right?

Anyone else out there nervous about creatures of the night? Am I the only one who sings loudly, flicks the lights on and off, and bangs on the side of the house with a metal object when she takes the trash out at night? Come on...'Fess up, fellow animal lovers.