FREE SAMPLE Day!!!

As a Mommy Page Ambassador (see button on side bar), I am given free samples and coupons to pass on to my readers; TODAY is that day!  I am happy to pass on the following coupon links for you to click on an enjoy...

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HAVE A GREAT WEEKEND AND ENJOY YOUR FREE SAMPLES!
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How DARE My Doctor Retire?!

I had heard the rumor.  I thought it was perhaps just THAT...a rumor.  Because REALLY...How could my OB/GYN even consider retiring?  How could he think of doing that to me?  When I dramatically shared these concerns with Robby, he simply said, "Barbara, the man has been doing this for a long time; give him a break."  HMPH!  Obviously he didn't realize how important an OB/GYN was to a woman.

When I first sought out an OB/GYN, I was looking for someone who would be nice to me, spend time listening to me and...OK, not fuss at me when I gained too much weight during my pregnancies.  My first child was delivered by my first OB/GYN and then when Robby changed jobs, working for the other hospital in town, I was required to choose a doctor there since our new insurance required us to only pay $50 for a delivery.  Yep!  Good reason to change, huh?  Well, I really wasn't all that excited about changing doctors because a woman sorta gets attached to the guy who delivers her babies.  Well, I changed doctors about 28 years ago and now he was retiring.

When I chose my doctor it was because he was highly recommended by all the expectant moms in town.  He was a really nice, good old country boy who always had time for his patients; he wasn't one to rush in and out of the examination room.  He delivered my next three kids and become attached to him, I did.  I really didn't ever want to see any of his partners during my pregnancies and only did so because it was required since they might have been the one on call and have to deliver me.  I told them that wouldn't happen since I would be crossing my legs and holding the baby in until MY doctor came back on call.  HEY!  Don't laugh; I actually called one morning when I woke up in labor and the answering service told me that my doctor was not on call.  I asked what time he would be there, hung up the phone and waited until her got there to go to the hospital.  So, when I heard that he might be retiring, I became distraught (I'm a bit dramatic, I know...).

I had called the office for my yearly check-up and the receptionist told me that he had recently undergone surgery and wasn't back yet; I would have to make an appointment with one of his partners.  WHAT?!  OH NO...I didn't know that guy; how could I let him examine me?!  Well, I guess I could do it just this once and then SURELY my guy would be back next year.  I had managed to self soothe myself for the moment.  That's when I found out that my doctor and I would be at the same social function over the weekend and I decided that I would just find out for myself if the "retirement rumors" were true or false.

Well, I found out that indeed the rumors were true.  I told him that I couldn't believe that he was retiring and then he told me about his surgery (OK...I did feel bad about that) and how he had not planned to retire; that's just the way it turned out.  He also told me that he had been practicing for 35 years and apparently he started in my clinic right about the time I became his patient.  I told him that I was not very excited about seeing his partner...after all, I had chosen HIM (not his partner...) for MY doctor.  UGH!!!  Now, I was just going to have to suck it up and get through my yearly check-up and then decide what I would do from there.

As the day for my appointment drew near, I became more and more nervous and agitated about seeing a new OB/GYN; he didn't know me and I didn't know him and...well, I wasn't sure what his personality was like at all and when it came down to it, I wasn't sure I was comfortable with some new guy examining me (modesty after birthing four kids?!...YOU BET!).  When the day arrived, I braced myself and silently vowed that if I didn't like this new guy or even absolutely hated him, it could be a one time only thing; I would have a whole year to look for someone else.  The nurse called me back, asked me a few questions and then told me to stay dressed and just have a seat since the doctor would want to talk to me before the exam.  OK...That was one point in the new guy's favor.  He didn't know me either so he wanted to make a formal introduction before he examined me.  When he walked in, he introduced himself to me and made some conversation and I actually found that he wasn't too bad.  He then left the room and told me he would be back for the exam.  I hopped upon the table and noticed that a pair of smiley face socks had been placed on the stirrups...point 2 for the new guy.  How bad could he be if he put smiley face socks on stirrups?  After the exam was complete, he had his consult with me in his office where he made some more conversation about my kids and grand kid...OK, he was beginning to grow on me (a little...).  I left the office feeling alright.  The new guy wasn't so bad.

We women get attached to our doctors for many reasons.  My doctor delivered three of my four children; those were three very important events in my life.  I don't like change; I prefer the familiar.  But unfortunately, life does change and sometimes it is when we least expect it.  I will admit that in my mind, I didn't WANT to like the new guy, however, I found that "different" doesn't always mean bad.  Will I change over as the new guy's patient or will I look for another clinic?  Hmmm...I guess I could give the new guy a chance...for now.
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OH MY GOSH!...We're Officilly In The "ZONE" As Of Yesterday!

Yesterday was the 26th of March; 27th birthday of my middle son AND...exactly TWO MONTHS until Caitlin's wedding!  As the mother-of the-groom, I always referred to the "Zone" as six weeks before the wedding.  As the mother-of-the-bride, I feel that the "Official 2 month mark" is the zone for us.

When I woke up this morning, I stretched and yawned a little.  Made my way to the kitchen for some sort of breakfast and a cup of coffee.  I didn't sleep well but got ready to face the day anyway (what other choice did I have?).  Remembering it was David's birthday, I picked my phone up to send him birthday wishes and then it happened.  As I was fixing that coffee, I realized that Caitlin's wedding was on the 26th of May...OH CRAP!  As of today I was "Officially in the ZONE"!

If you haven't ever planned a wedding for your child, you might not know what it means to be in the "Zone"; let me explain.  Whenever the "Zone" arrives, anything can happen, including conniption fits.  Hmmm...thinking on that, I should have know the "Zone" was upon us since I've already had a couple of those.  Basically, it means this is crunch time!  This weekend, will begin the whirlwind of activities leading us into the "Zone".  Friday, Caitlin and I will travel back to Dallas to pick up the wedding dresses and on Saturday she will take her Bridals with her photographer there.  On the way home Sunday, we will stop off in Canton to pick up some more decorations that we are having made for the reception.  Lists are forming in my head and this is the time that I begin making all of those "To Do Lists" that I was so unconcerned with before.  I'm thinking that THIS is perhaps one of the reasons I was unable to sleep last night.

After this weekend, the madness will continue as I will attempt to organize my many scratched notes on every note pad that I can find.  The invitations are in but I still need to order the envelopes and then everyone will be in for Good Friday and Easter weekend.  The next week will find me jumping into the task of getting all of those invitations addressed, stamped and ready to be mailed.  This task must be done before Caitlin's Bachelorette Party and Lingerie Shower in New Orleans which will be the following weekend. We will travel there and when we get back, Caitlin will return to school for her last few weeks before graduation and the invitations will go out.  I hope that will take some pressure off being the last "Big" task (until the wedding week arrives...) to complete.

Then as April ends and May arrives, the whirlwind will most likely turn into a tornado.  Birthday, anniversary, graduations, Mother's Day...I have decided to refer to this month as "Margarita May" and NOT because of Cinca de Maya.  Before I know it the wedding week will be upon us and the work will really begin; putting finishing touches on everything it has taken 8 months to plan.  SO...as I enter the "Zone", I will take one HUGE breath of air and slowly expel it out (a relaxation technique I learned in yoga which I plan to heavily rely on...).  TWO MONTHS...WOW!   We're in the "Zone"; Ready or not...HERE WE COME!
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Books I Am Reading Or Have Read..."Shanghai Girls: A Novel

As most of you know, I always have a book in my hand.  And although I have been quite busy with wedding planning, baby-sitting Parker Ann and publishing a book of my own, I continue to read.  Reading is a form of relaxation for me; it takes me away to other places and times.  I just completed a book that began its journey in Shanghai and ended up in California.

"Shanghai Girls:  A Novel" was written by Lisa See.  It is a very intimate look at Shanghai, both before and after the Japanese invasion.  The visual pictures See paints are vividly etched into the readers' mind.  But the true story lies within the relationship of two sisters and how their paths intertwine forever.

Pearl and May are brought up in a luxurious lifestyle in Shanghai's glory days.  They have to do nothing but worry about where they will buy their next fashion articles and who they will spend the evening with at the most popular clubs.  They are what everyone calls, "Beautiful Girls", since their pictures are painted on calendars circulated all around Shanghai.  Life could not be better for the sisters; nothing is required of them what with all of the cooks and servants their household employs.  However, all of that is about to change, along with Shanghai as the Japanese invade the country.

As fate would have it, Pearl and May find themselves running for their lives, trying to find a way to leave their war torn country.  Tragic events occur along the way, however, and they eventually find themselves in the United States of America.  Angel Island is their first stop and from there the bond of sisterhood becomes even closer, as Pearl and May enter into a secret pact.  Struggling to leave Angel Island, they find themselves starting a new life that neither are prepared for.  Their glorious days as "Beautiful Girls" are over and the uphill battle to learn survival skills in this new country begin.

"Shanghai Girls:  A Novel" is a beautifully written story of love, commitment, and family.  It is a story that leaves you wanting more and Sees does not disappoint, as she continues the saga in the follow-up book, "Dreams of Joy".  It would definitely be worth your time to give this book a read.



                                                                  HAPPY READING!!!
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Unplugging And Recharging...On A "Private Island"...

When our plane hit the ground at the Key West Airport, some big drops of rain began to fall from the sky.  I didn't care...we were almost to our destination; Little Palm Island Resort.  Robby grabbed our luggage while I headed outside to get in line for what I imagined to be very few taxies waiting to whisk visitors away.  After telling a couple of them where we were going (to catch our boat out to the island...), they shook their head, saying that was a 30 minute ride; too far of a fare for them to take.  Hmmm...About that time, a guy popped out of his taxi and said, "C'mon, I'll take ya."  Yippee!!!  We threw our luggage in the back of the van and hopped in...with a hippie/pirate, I think.

Our cabbie had this scraggly hair, the laid-back demeanor and vernacular of a hippie and I thought he looked suspiciously like a pirate as well, but what else would one expect from Key West?!  He was quite talkative and very informative about the Keys AND I suspected he might have just been "smoking the peace pipe" if ya know what I mean.  Oh well, he was the only one who had agreed to drive us to where our boat would be picking us up and after all, it really wouldn't be a trip for us if something "colorful" didn't happen along the way.

After "Jonathan the Pirate" dropped us off at our destination, we walked around inside this thatched roof, hut structure looking for someone; It was 8 p.m. and I hoped that someone was still there waiting for our arrival.  Robby found a young girl in the back and she quickly came out to welcome us and offered us some Rum Punch; I thought that would be the perfect drink choice after spending a half hour on the road with our pirate.  Our boat would  not arrive to pick us and another couple up for another 30 minutes and we were starving, so the attendant gave us menus, we told her what we wanted to eat and she arranged to have it in our bungalow when we arrived.



We road on a boat called "The Truman" out to the island.  It seems that President Harry Truman and his wife, Bess, had spent a good bit of time on this island so there were many references made to them...





Another interesting fact is that since the island resembles the South Pacific, the movie, "PT 109 " , depicting John F. Kennedy was filmed here.  That was, of course, long before the island was turned into a resort.

There are 30 suites on Little Palm Island, which means that there are not many people on the island at one time.  Oh, there are also people who dock their  fishing boats or yachts there and come on island to eat at the restaurant.

Each bungalow is a thatched roof structure that has the number, suite name and guest name...






By day, there are many activities available in which visitors may participate.  There is a spa, fitness room, excursions to neighboring islands that could be reached by boat or hydroplane.  There is even a library one can visit and a huge outdoor chess game set up.  Robby and I, however, chose to just stay on the island and "unplug".  And if I thought that "unplugging" was going to be difficult or unpleasant in any way, it was only because I had never done so before.  We greeted each day with the tune of the birds waking us and then threw our flip-flops on and headed down to the restaurant veranda or beach to have a leisurely breakfast.






After that, one could find us wandering down to one of the piers to relax and read/nap on lounge chairs or fish off the dock.





One day we rented kayaks and made our way through the mangroves.



Another day we took a small motor boat out and explored the area just out from the island and Robby fished a bit while I read.

Eventually we would make our way to the pool area, that was extremely lush and shaded for lunch.  Often times, the Key Deer would join us!  They Key Deer are an endangered species that one can find all over the island.  They swim in and out from the mangroves and are VERY friendly!



In the Keys, people "celebrate" the sunset...I had never done this before, but if I lived in the Keys, I could sure make it a habit...





And one of my favorite times of the day was when we came in to get ready for dinner in the evenings.  On the deck of each bungalow guests got to enjoy a bamboo shower.  I found that I LOVE showering outside with the warm, salty ocean breeze blowing.  I hinted about REALLY liking the bamboo shower but Robby told me there was no way he could put one at our house...I'm not so sure about that.



Since there were no phones or televisions on the island, you may wonder what in the world we did in the evenings when most times at home we can be found vegging out in front of the T.V.  Well, there was a game set in each bungalow and other games that could be found in the island library.  We had never played Backgammon before, I immediately decided that would be our challenge for the week.  We found a set of rules and I told Robby to figure out how to play the game and then teach me.  This game was so addictive that we hurriedly made our way back from dinner each night for our next match!  I also rediscovered why children love to be read to.  While visiting the gift shop one day, Robby bought a book and as I was laying on the dock, I closed my eyes and as the sun's warmth brushed across my face, I asked him to read me some of it; what a treat!


Robby and I have been a lot of places in the world, but none so wonderfully relaxing as Little Palm Island.  It truly IS a place where one can "unplug and recharge".  The fact that there was no exterior noises made it more of a "paradise" than any other island I have ever visited.  If you want to visit a place where you can unwind, relax and reconnect with yourself, your mate and nature, Little Palm Island is the place for you.  I know one thing for sure...I will never be the same after visiting the island.

Here is a copy of a poem that could be found in each bungalow.  I unrolled it and read it when we arrived.  When we got ready to leave the island, I read it again, rolled it up and placed it in my suitcase...

                                                     If Once You Have Slept on an Island
             
                                                     If once you have slept on an island.
                                                     you'll never be quite he same,
                                                     you may look as you looked before
                                                     and go by the same old name.
                                                     You may hustle about in street and shop,
                                                      You may sit at home and sew,
                                                      But you'll never see blue water and wheeling gulls
                                                      wherever your feet may go.

                                                       You may chat with the neighbors of this and that
                                                        and close to the fire keep,
                                                         but you'll hear ship whistle and lighthouse bell
                                                        and tides beat through your sleep.
                                                        And you won't know why and you can't say how
                                                        such change upon you came,
                                                        but once you have slept on an island
                                                        you'll never be quite the same!

                                                                                                                     -  Rachel Field


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Private Island Anniversary Trip!

OK, so here I am sitting at the Miami airport.  Caitlin and I woke up early so she could make her morning flight back home.  Me...I got to walk about 40 miles (I know; I'm dramatic )...to MY next gate to get checked in for a late afternoon flight to my next destination for 5 DAYS!

Now, about that 40 mile hike through the airport...It just so happened that my gate was at the entire other end of the terminal from where Caitlin's was.  I asked an attendant how far it was; he said, "Oh, about 2 blocks."  Don't ever believe those people; they obviously DON'T know how far a block is!  Anyway, I got down there to check in and I must admit I was struggling a little bit.  Oh, the suitcase was a rolling one, but it was that darn backpack I had on.  It hadn't seemed that heavy on the trip here.  Oh, that's right; I didn't want to take the chance of being overweight with my checked-in luggage, so I threw some extra things from my suitcase in there (ugh... sounded like a good idea at the time).  I saw the gate and although the line was long, I had made it!  After standing in line at the wrong check-in machine, I found the one where I needed to be, put my information in and...it said I was too early (crap...)!  I took that little slip of paper to another attendant (hoping she gave better information than the previous one...) and she told me I could check in early at another counter...FURTHER down the terminal (double crap...)!  After making it to the check-in counter, I explained that my husband was flying in from somewhere else to meet me; I tried to sound pitiful so they would let me check in early...IT WORKED!

I got a text from Robby telling me to use his credit card to gain entrance to the Admiral's Club and to also be really nice (aka:  not mouthy) going through security.  I made it through security and immediately began to search for the Admiral's Club; it wasn't supposed to be very far.  By the time I made it there with that heavy backpack, I was breaking out in a sweat.  I know what you might be thinking, but I don't believe it was due to hormones; it could have been either the fact that I had done some serious carido on an empty stomach or that perhaps my skin was on fire from the sunburn I was sporting from the previous days on the beach.  All I kept saying to myself was, "Please, let them allow me to get in!!!"  I got in after explaining that my husband was on his way and by now I was REALLY heating up.  I immediately threw my stuff in a chair, headed for the coffee pot and...OK, grabbed a cookie while I was standing in line; HEY!  I was feeling weak...

Now, back to where I'm going for the next 5 days.  Robby and I will celebrate our 30th anniversary in May.  As you all know, May is going to be CRAZY for our family.  We have Caitlin's wedding, of course, and then there is Ryan's birthday, Mother's Day, Caitlin's graduation from college and David's graduation from medical school!  YEA...so, Robby and I decided to break away for a little anniversary trip to...A PRIVATE ISLAND!  I had always wondered what it meant to be a "Private Island"; were you there all by yourself?  Where did you sleep?  Hopefully not in a tent on the beach!  Well, when I looked at the web site for Little Palm Island, I learned that was absolutely NOT the case.

Little Palm Island is located about two miles off the coast of Key West.  Robby and I will fly from Miami to Key West, take a taxi to the dock and then board a boat that will take us out to the island.  There are many things to do on the island and one can travel back and forth to Key West by boat if they choose to spend some time there; but there is one thing about the island that I initially wondered about.  There will be no television or telephones!  YEA...I will be totally unplugged from the world for 5 days!  I think there is Internet access, but I have decided that I will take advantage of these 5 days and just disconnect from everything.  So...you won't hear from me again until after the 20th.  However, at that time, I hope to have LOTS of pictures to share with you about this wonderful experience that my husband and I of 30 YEARS will have had.  Until then, take a look at this private island, yourself...www.littlepalmisland.com 
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Oh The Things I LOVE About "Beach Life"...

Life on the beach appears to stand still.  There are no clocks, appointments, places one has to be.  There is always a breeze and it is salty. The beach has healing qualities that no other place does.  By my second day here, I finally found myself unwinding.

There are so many things that I just LOVE about "Beach Life" that I thought I would share some with you...and encourage you to comment on the things that you perhaps love about the beach too!


I love waking up to a sunny morning, where I can wander out to sit by the pool and have my first cup of coffee and breakfast before heading to the beach for the day.

I love the way the wind blows, causing the waves to lap against my feet and the salt air to permeate my every pore.

There are only a few things one might do while on the beach.  While reading is high on my list, I also enjoy alternately people watching, listening to my i-pod and napping.

Lunch on the beach tastes a little better with a few grains of sand in it!

And when the lunch arrives, the birds move in a little closer...

Spending time with Caitlin has always been a big part of this annual beach trip; "Girl Time" is always FUN!

Outdoor dining in the evenings is also a favorite of mine.



There is really nothing at all that I can think of that I don't like about "Beach Life".  What a wonderful escape from the routines of everyday life.  So if you find that you can slip away for a few days, I highly recommend that you throw some flip-flops and swim suits into a bag and head out to where the sun is warm on your face, the salt water breeze hangs heavily in the air and you are required to do nothing at all...

The BEACH...














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Don't You Think The BEACH Just Makes EVERYTHING A Little Better?

As March approached, Caitlin and I began to get excited; it was getting close to Spring Break time for her.  And you know what THAT meant...BEACH TIME!  We would be throwing our swimsuits and flip-flops in our suitcases and heading out to our FAVORITE BEACH; South Beach in Miami!

When Caitlin was a junior in high school, she and I began going to South Beach during Spring Break.  Robby and I travel to Miami a lot and our family even traveled there for vacation one year, so South Beach was the natural place for us to return.  Spring Break often comes in March and the weather on the beaches closer to our home sometimes turns out to be a little too cool for that time of the year.  South Beach, however, is tropical and the temperatures are pretty constant.

What do we do while in Miami?  Why, lay out on the BEACH, of course.  The pools at the hotels there are lovely, but REALLY...why would you go to the beach and not stay out on the beach?  Each morning finds us packing our beach bag with sunscreen, Kindles and i-pods.  We find some cushioned lounge chairs,  get an umbrella for later in the day and then plop down to listen to the lap of the waves on the shore.

There is just something restorative about being on the beach.  I'm not sure if it's the feel of the warmth on one's skin after the cold of winter or the sand that gets stuck between your toes or even the rhythmic beat of the waves that can be heard splashing against those sandy shores.  It seems that the air is fresher, cleaner and a deep breath can be taken with ease.  For me this year, the beach will be bittersweet.

I have been quite stressed with all of the wedding planning, book publishing and other things currently going on in my life, so the thought of getting on a plane that would eventually take me to a lounge chair that would just simply allow my mind to go on a little holiday was the thought that had kept me going for weeks and months now.  The part of this beach trip, however, that would be bittersweet was the fact that I did not know when I would ever be able to share this special yearly trek Caitlin and I made together; next year she would be married, working and possibly starting a family of her own.  I decided to be "Scarlett" again and  "not think about those things" on this trip.

After getting up at 3:30 a.m. on Sunday (along with that "Spring Forward" time change...) and  getting on a plane at 6, we finally made it to our "Tropical Paradise"!



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Giving Birth To A BOOK...

The only analogy that I thought fitting for publishing a book was giving birth to a child.  I know that may seem a little dramatic, but I'm told that I do have a tendency toward that.  This week was my very first book signing for "Rose's Jungle", the children's book I have been working on having published for let's see...about 9 months now!

I have always loved to write, but just never had the time to write for myself.  With all of the kids in school, I found myself helping them out on their assignments and even if I thought about writing afterwards, I was just too worn out to do it.  So, when the last child left for college, I decided that I would set up a blog and begin writing; not only for my personal enjoyment, but to see if I had the discipline it took to possibly pen a book.  I must admit that writing the blog has been absolutely so much fun for me that I could never give it up, but that book idea was still rolling around in my head and I just felt compelled to get it out!

I already knew what the title of the book would be since the entire story would be one based on my childhood days spent with an elderly aunt.  Aunt Rose might have been old, but boy was staying with her fun.  She taught me how to do many things; knit, make crafts and cheese dip...OH, and I never had to take a nap when she baby-sat me for the day(a very important aspect to a young child...)!  She lived in this white frame house that was quite ordinary to an adult's eye, but in the eyes of a child...there were treasures  to be found everywhere.  Behind her couch is where one could often find me hiding with my nose inside a good book.  There was a book shelf that ran almost the length of the wall with a section especially for children.  Over in the corner by her rocking chair stood a bird cage with a REAL bird in it; now if THAT wasn't impressive to a kid, I don't know what would be.  Through the large pane windows, Aunt Rose's true love could be seen...her beautiful yard full of thriving plants, including banana trees.  All of these childhood memories inspired me to write this first children's book of mine.

I must admit that writing the book was the easy part.  Once I decided to have it published, I had to work with an illustrator, whom I am sure wanted to pull his hair out.  I, of course, wanted everything to look as close to what I remembered it to be.  I found old photographs of Rose, my mother and me and sent them to him to create the characters in the book.  Then, it was on to the landscape in the book.  Choosing a color scheme I thought would be simple...I knew what I was talking about when I described the colors I wanted in the book; unfortunately, the illustrator did not.  When the first set of drawings came back, I sent them back for corrections on little details.  The same was true when they put color to the illustrations.  The first color set that came back to me was disappointing...what child would want to read a book with drab colors?!  I wanted exciting colors that matched the tone of the book!  Each time I sent something back, it took weeks for completion; what I originally thought would only be about a three month period was turning out to be much longer...

Finally, the illustrations and colors were perfect!  Now, it was time for the publishers to put the text to the book and it would be almost done.  I picked out the font I wanted and waited.  When it was complete...I didn't like the layout of the font (sigh...).  I worked with them trying to convince them to create the text the way I thought it should be.  They fought me a little bit, but in the end I got what I wanted and it looked great!  Now, I had to WAIT AGAIN for them to send me my author copies to approve and then we would go to press.  At that point, a friend of mine, who owns a local gift shop, offered to carry my book AND give me my first book signing!  I was SUPER EXCITED about that until...it got time to actually have the signing.  What if no one came?  What if no one liked the book?  I had spend a LOT of time and money on this book and HEY!  I needed to sell some copies.  I had been asked to read at several schools around town and decided, although I had some pretty positive professional reviews come back on my book, I would let the kids be the "real" critics.  It had been quite a few years since I had been in a classroom so I was a little wary of what the response would be.  The children were SO excited to have me there and immediately became caught up in the story of "Rose's Jungle"...they LOVED it!  Their teachers did too...WHEW!  Perhaps I could sell a few copies, after all.

When I arrived on the day of the book signing, I hopped out of my car and this was the store window display that greeted me...


WOW!  I was really impressed...the owner had gone all out!  Now, let's just hope some people showed up for the signing.  The signing was slated for a two hour period that afternoon, just after school was to dismiss for the day.  The store was promoting Teacher Appreciation Week and my book had been promoted on the local television morning show.  My books were set up along with some refreshments and YAY!  people of all ages began to show up.  I spoke to friends and met strangers and the children were the absolute BEST; they seemed to LOVE my book.  When I heard people comment on how colorful and eye-catching the cover of the book was, I thought, "All those returns to the drawing board were well worth the trouble and delays."

Publishing a book is not an easy task.  I told my sister that it was like having a J-O-B...and one that did not pay until you started selling some copies.  I am VERY pleased to report that my friend sold so many books that day that she had to purchase all the remainder of books I had!  


To check "Rose's Jungle" out for yourself, go over to my side bar and click on the "Rose's Jungle" Button.  It will take you to my web-site, where you can view a video promo about the book, learn more about me and even order a copy for yourself, if you choose to.

www.rosesjungle.com 




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And THIS Is Why I Don't Clean My Own House...

When I gave birth to my fourth child...well, I sorta lost it.  I just couldn't keep up with anything.  I remember the day Robby rushed out of the door for work, leaving me at home with a baby, a 2 year old, 4 year old and a 6 year old. He promised me that he would "have help for me" by the end of the day.

My husband found a little old lady who lived right down the road from us and she agreed to come in and help me get my house cleaned and laundry caught up.  Then, she just started baby-sitting when we needed it and when I returned to school to finish my degree, she was there for me to leave Caitlin with.  As the years went on and I started teaching, the kids were getting older and making even bigger messes and dirtying more clothes.  The little old lady who had worked for us for years had passed away and I hired someone else.  And then, when all of the kids left home, I decided, "I can do this, myself!"  HA!  There was just one little problem with that plan; I am just a little obsessive to be doing my own cleaning.

I realize that some of you are most likely thinking, "Yea...what an excuse", but let me explain.  You see, I love to have a clean house, but when I clean it, I get a little carried away.  "How so?", you ask.  Well, for example, I can spend 2 hours just cleaning MY bathroom!  Yea, I'm usually still not satisfied with the job at that point; I simply have to move on for 2 reasons:  My time is running out on cleaning the rest of the house and my hands are completely shriveled up by that time.  And even if it takes me 2 hours on just one bathroom (I have 3...), I don't want to quit cleaning until EVERYTHING is done...in the same day.  And so, I don't clean my own house; the Merry Maids do!

Well, the Merry Maids clean my house, but when we purchased our lake house, I decided that I could handle that.  It was pretty big, but HEY! It's a lake house, after all.  Today, I got up early and looked around.  Although those Merry Maids kept my house cleaned on a regular basis, I wasn't doing such a great job on the lake house.  Give me a break here...I HAVE been busy, after all (I make excuses too...).  Next weekend, Ryan was going to be entertaining some people there, so I decided that I would get busy and clean the entire house!  I went through and dusted every piece of furniture,  swept the floors, cleaned all 3 three bathrooms (a job I have hated since adolescence...), cleaned the mirrors and windows, vacuumed all 6 bedrooms; I even polished up all the kitchen appliances.  I was SO excited to be finishing up...all I had left to do was mop.  That's where this little tale turns grim...

I had already been working all day and only eaten breakfast.  I was not only hungry, but also in desperate need of a shower.  I walked to the closet where I keep my cleaning supplies to get the mop and...the mop was missing the sponge part on it.  I looked out the window and noticed that Robby was cleaning his boat.  I carried my sponge-less mop down to the dock and asked, "Do you know what happened to the sponge that goes on my mop?"  "It looks like it's missing", he said.  UGH...no kidding!  Then I looked and said, "What is that you're cleaning your boat with?"  He held out the missing mop sponge!  He told me that he had found it in the mop bucket; it must have come off.  Well, JUST GREAT!  He tried to convince me to just do the mopping when I came back one day; there was NO WAY I was having any of that idea!  I NEEDED to finish the job I had started (I told you I was a bit obsessive...).  My only choice was to get a sponge, myself and HAND MOP all of the floors.

Now, I have heard my mother tell me about the days when she had to hand wax all of her floors and all I have to say about that is, I guess my floors just wouldn't have had any shine to them.  I got on my hands and knees, and mind you, I was still in my pajamas at 2 O'clock!  This final chore that I was looking forward to making it to was...OK, I'll admit it, a little RIDICULOUS!  It took quite a bit more of my time than I had originally expected and I was COMPLETELY EXHAUSTED when that sponge sloshed across the last few inches of flooring.

Now, I LOVE a clean house.  My lake house not only looked clean from top to bottom, it smelled clean too.  It had only taken about 7 HOURS to get there, but I found that I was very satisfied.  As I headed off for that long awaited shower, I doubted that I would be able to move the next day.  But move I was gonna do...right on down to the store to BUY MYSELF A NEW MOP!




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Whippin' Up Some "March Madness" Wedding Planning...

I knew that this weekend was going to be a "Mad Dash"...Actually a "Mad Dash" with two "Mad Women"; "Mad", as in CRAZY, that is!  People talk about "March Madness" and Caitlin and I found ourselves right in the very middle of it with this wedding planning.

This past weekend was Caitlin's second dress fitting in Dallas.  It had been scheduled for a while, so I knew it was coming up.  However, as usual, I waited until the Friday morning to get all of my stuff ready to go for the road trip (sigh...).  Make sure to get her shoes...check!, take her the last bridesmaid dress to deliver...check!, take the ring bearers outfit that came in for her to look at...check!; these were the important things, the things that could NOT be forgotten.

After cleaning the dishes, doing a load of laundry, making the bed and letting the dogs out, I packed my suitcase, loaded my car and headed out...not to Texas yet, but to the bank and post office.  THEN, I FINALLY got on the road headed to Marshall, to pick up Caitlin.  My timing was perfect, because she had just finished her last mid-term of the week and was packed and ready to go.  We ran down town and got some lunch to go and hurriedly raced out of town; I desperately wanted to avoid the horrid traffic in Dallas.  Well, THAT didn't happen!  As usual, traffic was a BEAST, with us arriving in Dallas by 4:00 and getting across town to our hotel by 5:30!  We checked in and I hoped to have maybe just 5 or 10 minutes to sit down and rest before we were up and running; sadly, that was not to be...

By the time we got in our room and I sat in the comfy recliner, Caitlin said, "It's time to go pick up the veil."  So much for a little down time.  We hopped in the car and ran over to the lady's apartment to get the veil.  I must say the changes she made to my veil were lovely.  I asked, "Now, can we go back and have a little 'down time'?"  NOPE!  Caitlin had to go to the jewelry store and have her engagement ring inspected.  WHAT?!  "WHY do you have to do that?", I asked.  Well, apparently, they only insure the ring if you have inspections every so often and it was due one now.  We headed to the jewelry store.  Glancing at my watch, I noticed that it was now 7:30..."Can we go back and eat now?"  Caitlin told me that the alterations lady was meeting us at 8:00.  Hmmm...I doubted that we would be able to make it back in time to eat.  When we got back to the hotel, I walked over to the sports bar to read the menu; it was now 7:50...there was no time to eat right now (sigh...).  I would just have to settle for a glass of wine for the time being.  As Caitlin and I sat there, a text message sounded on her phone; the alterations lady had just arrived.

The alterations lady has to always meet us at our hotel since we bought Caitlin's dress from Priscilla's of Boston and they have gone out of business nationwide.  This lady worked for them for years and has taken on the task of seeing to it that all of the brides who bought dresses through Priscilla's, will have them altered.  Remember now, she is not only altering the dress that we bought from Priscilla's, but she is also doing the alterations to my wedding dress that Caitlin will wear for her reception.  It took quite a while to get everything done since this would be the last fitting before Caitlin's bridal portraits at the end of the month.  By 9:30, we were back downstairs ordering dinner...

Having asked for a 7 a.m. wake-up call on Saturday morning, we were up and heading out of Dallas by 8:00.  We were heading to Canton to hopefully pick up the remainder of the centerpiece containers for the tables at the reception.  We had 25 tables that had to be decorated and only enough items for 9 tables (ugh...).  The first place we stopped was Paul Michael's.  This store offers such a variety of items that one has to slowly turn every corner to look at what sits on shelves and hangs from the ceiling.  Caitlin and I left with two buggies full of items for the wedding reception...OK; and 2 fabulous spring time wreaths for my front door too!  I just couldn't resist when I walked into the seasonal decorations department; everything was so colorful and after all...couldn't this by MY little treat for this "Mad Dash" of a weekend?!





The next stop was made right down the road a little ways at Laurie Anna's Vintage Shop.  This shop is only open on the Trade Day Weekends and is usually very crowded because of that; I hoped that we had gotten there early enough to avoid the huge crowd.  We wandered from room to room of this shop, soaking in all of the vintage decor'...and actually left there quite successful.  We were now up to 21 items for the arrangements on the reception tables!  Now, it was on to the grounds of the Canton Trade Days for a little lunch and then our search would begin for a lady who makes arrangements out of all natural items that can be found in the woods.



I'm surprised that we found the lady with the nature arrangements so quickly, but we did and purchased our last four arrangements!  I wanted to do the "Happy Dance"; this was a HUGE accomplishment for us.  We didn't tarry there, but decided to head on back toward Marshall.  But on our way there, I wanted to stop at a little knitting shop that Caitlin had found in Longview.  WOW!  that  little shop was AWESOME!  Operated by a little elderly lady, I could have just spent the entire afternoon there.  But we didn't have that much time, so I purchased a couple of things for a new project I was planning to start this week.  I dropped Caitlin off at her apartment and then headed back to Natchitoches where I would meet Robby for what was left of the weekend.

WHEW!!!  We had accomplished a LOT within a 24 hour period.  Now, we could sit back for a couple of weeks before the REAL rush began.  Caitlin had one more week of school before her Spring Break...and YES!!!  We DO have some FUN plans for that week off!


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PaPa And His Constant Companion...

Nine years ago, I bought my father-in-law what I considered to be a GREAT Christmas gift; a Toy Poodle!  He was retired from a lifetime of working retail and uninterested in getting a little job as some retirees are inclined to do.  His one true hobby was playing golf, but I still thought he "needed" something else...he "needed" a companion.

Once I had decided to buy this special little Christmas gift, I excitedly hurried down and picked a puppy out, registered her with the name of Clarise (a truly good "French" name...),  put her in my washroom for a couple of days and then presented her to him on Christmas Eve.  Although the kids and I were really excited about giving him this little pup, I wasn't' sure how he would take to her.  Ever since I had known him, he had never had a pet.

It wasn't long before I realized that it had been not only a good decision to buy Clarise for PaPa, but most likely the BEST Christmas gift he had ever received.  She never weighed over 3 pounds and PaPa could be found toting her around in the crook of his arm at all times; she had become his constant companion.  The kids and I would laugh and call her a "little princess" because he insisted that she would only eat out of his hand!  And not only that, he mixed several foods together creating what we referred to as her "Doggie Chex Mix".  Could this possibly be the no-nonsense fellow that I had met 30 years ago?  Referring to Clarise as his "Baby"?  Not only was she by his side during the day, but every night found her curled up next to him as he slept.  During the past couple of years, PaPa had suffered some health issues and found himself being hospitalized.  The only concern he had was not with himself but with "getting home to check on his Baby".  This dog had truly woven itself into every fiber of PaPa's being.

When we got the phone call yesterday, I had no idea that Clarise had been sick.  The veterinarian thought she might possibly have kidney stones.  Papa took her in to stay overnight for surgery the next day.  As he left the golf course that afternoon before finishing all the holes, he said he had to head over to check on his "Baby"; see how she did with her surgery.  Robby's mother called not long after that.  She was crying and we weren't certain what was going on.  It seems that when the vet got ready to do the surgery on Clarise, he found that she was experiencing internal bleeding of some sort...and she didn't make it.  PaPa was devastated.  Mimi said he was heading home with her in a little box and wanted to bury her in the back yard.  PaPa was 77 years old now and Mimi didn't want him to do this alone; could we meet them at their house?

Now, although Robby has had pets before, he is one to compartmentalize information and events.  He understood that Clarise was important to his dad, but truly could not understand his close connection to an animal.  He told me that he probably wasn't the right person to talk to him at this time.  I told him I WAS; his job would be to dig the grave.  As we drove over, I tried to explain that Clarise was his father's companion.  She gave him a purpose to each day; she was someone for him to take care of.  She kept him company when he was home alone.  I wasn't sure I was getting through to him, but I was certainly trying. I told Robby that I would be buying his father another puppy as soon as he was ready for one.  He looked at me and said, "I'm not sure he 'needs' another puppy".  I replied, "I will get him one."

Everyone drove up about the same time and as I watched, I saw a very sad, old man take a small box out of his truck and slowly walk to the back yard.  Robby's mother was openly weeping and I walked straight over to give her a hug.  This was indeed a sad moment.  Robby followed his dad and I could see them talking.  I was hoping that my husband could somehow attempt to understand PaPa's love for this little dog who had been his constant companion for the past 9 years.  As Robby dug the grave, Papa took Clarise's little collar and nailed to to the fence, while Mimi found a small trellis to place at the head of the grave.  I gave PaPa a hug and rubbed his back as Robby explained that he understood that Papa was upset and that's what bothered him.  PaPa looked at me and said, "But YOU know how I feel..."  I nodded in agreement.  As we pulled out of the driveway leaving, Robby looked at me and said, "Go get him another puppy; he "needs" one...get it tomorrow."  Hmmm...perhaps my husband DID understand more than I thought he had.  He understood that this little animal made his father's life a little richer, a little happier; it gave him a purpose for getting up every day.  Mimi and I have discussed getting another puppy eventually.  PaPa's 78th birthday is in April.  I think another puppy might just be on the list this year.  Not that this one will ever "replace " Clarise, but I'm sure PaPa could find another place in his heart for a furry little companion.




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