Wednesday, December 31, 2008

New Year's Eve

Yesterday didn't turn out the way I'd planned. My sister's family got sick so our Christmas celebration had to be rescheduled. Of course, we were also planning to celebrate birthdays that night with dinner out. That meant some scrambling on my part to put together a birthday for my hubby.

I asked him to take our son to speech therapy so I could have a couple of hours to plan something. While he was gone, I baked his favorite kind of cake...devil's food chocolate. I wrapped his gifts and came up with a plan for his birthday. So that evening we drove to Portland to visit the Grotto and see the lights, puppet show, petting zoo and music performances. After that we went to the Laurelwood brewpub for dinner. We hadn't been out to eat like that in over a month so it was a nice treat and they brew great beer there so a nice treat for my hubby. We went home for cake and presents. A really nice birthday!

Today I'm blogging at The Wedding Planners. I also posted on the JanNoWriMo blog.

I'll be preparing for tomorrow's kick off of an intense writing month (aka JaNoWriMo), finishing work on our budget and menu, setting up our envelope system and getting caught up on a few things that need to be done. Tonight will be pretty mellow. I hope to talk hubby into taking the kids to either Zoolights or Portland International Raceway to see the lights. It's the last night for both. Then we'll use the east coast's countdown at 9 o'clock our time to usher in the new year with them. I've got sparkling cider and a box with hats, tiaras, leis and noisemakers to open.

Do you have special plans for tonight?

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

The Twelve Days of Christmas

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Today is the day we will finally celebrate our weather-delayed Christmas with my family. It's also hubby's birthday! And yesterday was my nephew Connor's fourteenth birthday. Needless to say there will be much celebrating!

UPDATE: I just got home from piano lessons with the kids. My sister's family is sick so we have to cancel our plans today. We're hoping to reschedule for Sunday.

One thing I've noticed is so many people act as if Christmas is over. We take the twelve days of Christmas to heart around here. December 1- 24 were Advent, the preparation to Christmas. I didn't get my Department 56 villages up until Christmas Eve! The 25th until Epiphany is the actual time to celebrate the holiday.

I've been trying to teach this to the kidlets, too. Each child picks one of their gift from under the Christmas tree on the 25th to put aside until Epiphany, the day symbolizing the visit of the three Wise men/kings/magi when they gave gifts to Jesus. My dad called this Little Christmas when I was growing up though we never exchanged gifts on that day. But I figured saving the gifts might help the kids understand better why I have us do what we do. Time will tell if I succeeded.

One family I know puts up their lights a couple of weeks before Christmas, but doesn't turn them on until Christmas day. They celebrate the twelve days of Christmas by leaving little gifts in the stockings each of the twelve days. I thought that was a neat idea and was so happy that my oldest got to hear that we're not the only ones who do things a little differently.

Of course, the rest of my family takes down their trees and decorations on the 26th which is why we're hosting Christmas today since our decorations stay up until after Epiphany. And now that we have an artificial tree, I won't have to worry about it turning into a matchstick by the first week of January!

What about you? Is Christmas over for you? Or do you continue the celebration until Epiphany?

Monday, December 29, 2008

The last contest winner of 2008...

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I took a couple of days off from the computer. Not doing that much, just having fun with the family and doing things that needed to be done. We also went to dinner at friends' house last night and enjoyed a tasty Mexican feast. We had to cancel the original time due to the snow. As for the snow...

The rains have come, washing away most of the snow and making the Portland area look, well, more like Portland. We can now get around fine, too, so I'll be packaging up the most recent winners and shipping them off this week.

Here are your random numbers:

15
Timestamp: 2008-12-29 16:58:32 UTC

This week's free book winner, the last of 2008, is Virginia. She won with a comment on the post Snowflakes and Gingerbread. Virginia, please choose one book from the list here. Email me your choice along with your snail address. You can use the contact form on my website.

Last week's winner Marianne chose Kerrelyn Sparks' Vamps and the City. Enjoy!

And don't worry, I have plenty of books to giveaway in 2009. Every comment you make on the blog gives you one entry into the weekly free book contest, so comment often!

As 2008 comes to an end, I've been busy trying to get ready for the new year. I've been busy setting up a monthly budget and a monthly menu plan.

We've decided to implement Dave Ramsey's Total Money Makeover. I've heard him on the radio and bought his book earlier this month. For over a year now, I've thought about-okay, dreamed about-being debt free. Imagine no credit card bills or a house payment ever again! I listened to what Dave had to say and he says makes a lot of sense so we're going to a cash only system. No more credit cards. And we'll be using an envelope system for several things in our budget such as food, clothing and gas.

I really like Marianne's Tightwad Tuesday posts. They've given me some great ideas. The hardest thing is going to be implementing and sticking on budget. My income comes in very randomly. There's a sheet for irregular income as part of the budget, but we rely on my income for things like the kid's classes which are monthly expenses. So I've been trying to figure out how to make my irregular income come out more regular.

I've also been trying to get ready for JaNoWriMo. I'll be posting on that blog about my efforts along with several other offers so if you want to follow along during the month, you might want to add it to your google reader or bookmark the blog.

So that's what I've been up to. What about you?

Friday, December 26, 2008

I haz sick kidlets

Hope you had a nice Christmas! Ours was wonderful. The kidlets loved all their gifts. We had a very relaxing day just the five of us, three cats and dog. Santa was good to everyone! Even the furbabies!

Today, we decided to venture out. The roads are still horrible in our neighborhood, but the only place the kids have gone in over a week is church yesterday. They were getting a bit cabin crazy. We hit the stores to buy wrapping paper, tags, bows and white elephant gifts for our rescheduled family Christmas Eve celebration that'll be at my house on Tuesday.

The littlest one was not a happy camper while we were out. Okay, she was downright miserable and a real pain to tell the truth. I looked at her glassy eyes and knew. Her croupy cold has turned into something more. My oldest is also coming down with something. To make it a hat trick today, my middle hit his foot on something in the garage helping me out there and now has a very bruised toe and a bad limp.

Needless to say, I wish I could turn the clock back to our peaceful, wonderful Christmas day! Instead, I got to take care of sick kidlets. We took it really easy this afternoon. When the little one woke up from her nap, we all watched Beauty and the Beast's Enchanted Christmas. I have a feeling there will be lots of movie watching, napping and cuddling until they feel better.

How was your Christmas? Did you go out to find any bargains today?

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Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas!

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Wishing you a very Merry Christmas! I hope you have a wonderful day with friends and family!

I just love this song and it's from one of the best Christmas cartoons ever, How the Grinch Stole Christmas:



And in honor of our White Christmas, the song from one of my favorite Christmas movies Holiday Inn:



Hope Santa brought you exactly what you wanted!

Love,
Melissa

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

The Night Before Christmas

I first saw this when I was a little girl. I just loved this Christmas special so much when I was growing up. It's the story of how Clement Moore came to write Twas the Night Before Christmas. I haven't seen it in years, but found it on YouTube. You can watch it in high quality there, but here it is:





Looks like a White Christmas

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I've been dreaming of a white Christmas ever since 1998. That was the last time we had one. It snowed so much on the 23rd that we had to put chains on the car to make the drive to the airport the morning of the 24th. We were flying to NY to spend Mackenna's first Christmas with hubby's family.

Ten years later, we'll be having another white Christmas except this time the weather will keep us at home. I already spoke to my mom. She's disappointed we won't be driving down today, but better safe than sorry. After watching the news reports, I don't want to be on the roads with all that ice. Especially when the weather report says it's only going to get worse. Snow has been falling all morning again.

We usually spend today with my family and Christmas day with hubby's brother. But his brother moved to New York so this will be our first Christmas all alone since our very first Christmas together back in 1995. Though then we had friends over for brunch and then others for dinner so not quite all alone.

It should be nice and quiet and very, very white!

What are your plans for today and tomorrow?

Also, Myrna Mackenzie posted a really romantic Christmas montage video at the Wedding Planners blog. Check it out here!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Snowflakes and Gingerbread

This was out street before the last snow hit on Sunday. As you can see, we already had full coverage so the extra just added inches and ice. Chaos was jumping through the street and running around the street yesterday. On leash, of course, but she was having a blast. The snow came up to her chest!

More snow is predicted for tomorrow. If that's the case, we won't be making the hour and a half drive south to attend my family's Christmas Eve gathering. The kids are bummed about that, but we can do it once the weather improves. I went ahead and bought a ham just in case I have to cook for us.

Here's the before shot of the gingerbread house we made. It was a kit we bought at Costco. You put the house together yourself. The kids did most of it themselves with just a little help from us!

Here's the finished product. We waited a day for the house to set before decorating it. The kids did everything except the wreath on the front of the house, the green around the doors and windows and the green on the big tree. It took us a couple of hours with lots of candy eating! I think they may have added more gum drops around the outside, but by then I'd put away the camera. We do a house every year. One of those tradition things that is not, fortunately, weather dependent!

I managed to get my Christmas cards yesterday. It was quite the experience. Even with chains and hubby behind the wheel, we spun out getting onto the freeway on-ramp. But at least I can get the cards done and hopefully in the mail later today! What are you doing today?

Monday, December 22, 2008

More snow and a contest winner...

This is my cat Spirit lying under our Christmas tree. As you can see from all the fur, she's not the only one who likes to nap there. I really need to sweep and vacuum daily with long haired cats and a Norwegian Elkhound!

I took yesterday off. We're still snowed in (it's even worse today) so I just hung out with the family and had fun. Sorry for not announcing this week's free book winner. Here are your random numbers:

28
Timestamp: 2008-12-22 19:24:23 UTC

This week's free book winner is Marianne. She won with a comment on the post Neglected Kitties. Marianne, please choose one book from the list here. Email me your choice along with your snail address. You can use the contact form on my website.

The last winner rottie_mom chose Kerrelyn Sparks' How to Marry a Millionaire Vampire

I've been snowed in so haven't been able to get out so don't expect anything to be mailed until after Christmas! I'm still trying to figure out how to pick up my order of Christmas cards sitting at Costco. It's not looking good right now!

How's the weather where you are?

Saturday, December 20, 2008

An Early Morning

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This was me and my youngest around five am this morning. Except we were sitting in the bathroom with the shower going and steam surrounded us.

I woke up thinking a seal had decided to move in. The barking, croupy cough dragged me out of bed and down the hall. The poor thing sounded miserable. Having been through this before, I knew what could happen so had hubby steam up the bathroom while I carried her in. We sat there, just like the cats in the picture. Through coughing, tears and yawns, I had her breathing in the steam and soon she was feeling better.

She wanted to go back to her own bed, but I took her to ours instead. It was a little crowded with all the four-footed babies on there, too, but she finally fell asleep. So did I.

Anyway, I haven't uploaded the gingerbread house pics yet, but will. The kidlets did a great job.

I also managed to get my Christmas cards ordered at Costco. I also do a photo card and this year they had ones with more than one picture. I picked the one with four pictures. I know they'll be small, but I chose pictures from January (Disneyland), March (Smith Rock), August (Leavenworth) and October (Halloween.) We never got around to getting a family photo around the tree so I'll have to have one snapped sometime soon.

Now to figure out when I can get out to get them. It snowed last night again. I haven't peeked out the window yet so have no idea what we'll be facing today. My goal is to have them out by Dec. 24th.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Cats and guest blogging

I'll be blogging at The Wedding Planners today. The topic: More Wedding Movies. I found one that's coming on Lifetime tomorrow and one that's premiering at theaters in January. Hope you have time to stop by and say hi!

I did want to leave you something here. I found this on YouTube. It's an old Christmas commercial:



I just love to hear a cat purr! Did you know they've done studies and found the frequency of purring helps heal broken bones and things? Not sure how scientific the studies were, but that's pretty cool. I know my cats would lie near my hands and arms and purr when they were really hurting me!

I'm slowly getting through my To Do list. I sat down to figure out Christmas cards, but my inbox was really bugging me. So last night I went through over 2000 unread emails on one of my email accounts. You can't believe how good it feels to have all those gone! Many I just ended up deleted, but I found a couple I couldn't believe I'd missed. I baked chocolate chip cookies, and we put together a gingerbread house so we can decorate it today! And I also talked to a friend of mine on the telephone and caught up on what's been going on. Something I haven't done much of lately. It's so great to have my life back!

Before I forget, all the gift cards from the November contest have been sent according to the various websites I ordered from. I've heard back from two of the winners so I'm hoping the third also got her prize! Please let me know if you didn't.

Hope you have a great Friday! It'll be interesting to see what kind of weather we end up with today!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

O Christmas Tree

Okay, I finally got pictures of the tree. Here are some before and after shots:



Another angle:



And finally, here it is with the flash turned off so you can see the lights:



I still have decorations to put up. I decided to watch Surviving Christmas instead of decorate last night. So my Dept. 56 houses remain in the closet. I ran out of Commando strips so only got the cat and dog stockings up on the staircase, not ours on the fireplace. But there's still time. Though Christmas cards have me a little worried. I'll try to figure those out tonight!

How are you doing with Christmas stuff?

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Neglected Kitties

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I've been wrapping presents, checking things off my To Do list, etc. The cats are not happy. It's not as if I'm ignoring them, but I have errands to run, holiday movies to watch, you get the idea.

I walked in the door last night to be greeted with meowing. My gray cat, Spirit, almost sounded like she was saying Maaaama. My brother in law swore she called for me by name when he stayed with them once. Spirit is the one who misses me the most. She'll hide under the bed if I go away and not come out. Sometimes for days if I'll be gone a long time.

How much did she miss me yesterday? Well, when I decided I'd earned a bath last night, my first soak in forever, she actually jumped up on the edge of the tub and sat with me the entire time I was in there. Since then I've been carrying her around and loving her as much as possible.

The only good thing to all of this is that the kitty - dog war seems to be lessening. They all want a piece of me so are sharing territory better. Spirit came within a couple of inches of Chaos and didn't hiss. That's a huge improvement. Fingers crossed it continues.

More snow is falling today so we won't be going anywhere when Wednesday is usually one of our busiest days out and about! I'm looking forward to the down time. More time with my kitties and doggy!

I'll post the tree pics tomorrow. I took before pictures, but forgot to do the after ones!

Hope you have a great day and stay warm if you have cold temperatures like us!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Snow Day!

I finally downloaded pictures! Here are a couple from Sunday when the snow fell! The kids on our end of the court all came out to play! Of course, Chaos couldn't understand why no one wanted to play football with her!




More snow is expected to fall tomorrow! The kids can't wait. I'm just happy most of my Christmas shopping is done. The rest can be accomplished in about an hour. Hope you have a great day!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

A Chilly Night Contest Winner...

Bhhrrr. The wind chill had the temperature at 3 deg F early this afternoon. Snow remains everywhere and on everything. Chains are required on all vehicles in the Portland Metro Area. All schools in the area seemed to have already cancelled classes for tomorrow!

And now on to this week's winner:

Here are your random numbers:

2
Timestamp: 2008-12-15 04:24:19 UTC

This week's free book winner is rottie_mom. She won with a comment on the post Free Book Winner is. Rottie_mom, please choose one book from the list here. Email me your choice along with your snail address. You can use the contact form on my website.

The last winner we had, Catslady, chose Unmasked by Nicola Cornick.

All the books from all the weekly contests are off! The prizes are now alphabetized so that should make things easier. Though I don't know if I'll be waiting in anymore long holiday post office lines! I had to make a couple trips this week.

Hope you enjoyed your Sunday! I loved staying at home and just getting some things done around here. I watched one of the Lifetime Christmas movies last night and think I'll do the same tonight!

Take care and stay warm!

I has snow!

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We walked into church a little before eight this morning. No snow, just cold temperatures. We walked out to find a dusting of snow on the ground and snowflakes falling from the sky. The kidlets were, in a word, gleeful!

A storm is expected to hit the PNW today with temperatures dropping this week. That could mean ice storm, but we'll take the snow today! Of course it means the kidlets won't be spending the night at my parents' house as planned. I wanted a kidfree night to wrap gifts. Oh, well...

I'll be posting the contest winner later. Just wanted to say hi now!

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Saturday, December 13, 2008

Bad Kitties

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My three cats are not happy this holiday season. You see, they are the only three in the household who love when mommy is on a writing deadline. When I descend into my cave, the cats are right there with me the entire time I'm working. And they love it!

They love that mommy sits in one place for along time so they can curl at my feet or nap on the bed and know when they open their eyes they'll see me. When I was proofing my revisions, I was up at 5 am one morning. I went downstairs to work. Chaos remained in bed with hubby. All three cats came downstairs with me. One sat on the ottoman, the other on the floor and the third on the couch behind my head.

So they are going through mommy-withdrawal right now. Spirit sits at the top of the stairs, sticks her head through the banister and meows. Loudly. Rocket will do the same thing. Sometimes they'll both sit halfway down the stairs, especially when I come back after being out of the house. The look on their faces say, "Where have you been? You're not supposed to go anywhere."

The kitties really don't like that I'm downstairs so much any more. No impromptu cat naps with them. And they hate when I leave the house. They have already gotten into a little mischief and I have a feeling more might be in store like the picture above. A good thing I've got at least two more books to write in 2009!

At least they'll be happy!

Hope you have a good Saturday. Hubby will handle the swim meet today for the older two. I'm taking the youngest to a birthday party. Plus, we're going to decorate the tree. Finally! I'll post pictures of the pre and post decorating tree.

What are you up to? Oh, and before I forget...good luck to limecello with all her finals! Take care!

Friday, December 12, 2008

To Do or Not To Do

Sarita mentioned she had a big To Do list in her blog yesterday. I have an enormous one myself with stuff dating back to August and so many emails I haven't replied to in months it's scary. But rather than get overwhelmed (if you haven't figured it out yet, I'd fall into the ranks of overachiever), I decided to just do one or two things a day. It might be make phone calls, declutter a certain area of the house, check ten of my unread emails, etc.

Not the fastest way to get through the items, but for me, probably the best way since I can get totally freaked out when I have too much to do. I'm really trying not to get caught up in the must-get-it-done mentality. So far it's been working. The tree still isn't decorated, and I have a ton of green and red containers and tubs sitting all around my downstairs! Best yet, I'm not worried about it! And the kids are using the buckets to build forts and having a blast with them!

I keep reminding myself that Advent, the period of the church calendar we're in now, is all about preparing for the Feast of the Nativity aka Christmas. The preparation is supposed to take weeks. There's nothing that says I have to get it all done now!

I used to spend the weekend of Thanksgiving getting all my decorations and houses up. The revisions this year and the deadline on Rescued by the Magic of Christmas last year, put an end to that. I could just go and do all my decorating, and spend a couple days knocking off a dozen or so things off my list each day, but I'm really having fun with the family and relaxing to do that.

We had a great time at the Wizard of Oz. The kids were thrilled that they used a real dog for Toto! Afterwards, the actors (many children) stayed on stage and answered questions.

Yesterday's task was to get caught up on all of my contest wins. All but one (the person didn't send me her address) are now finished. I'll be heading to the post office today. I also sent all the winners their e-gift certificates for the November contest:

1st Prize - Marianne - a $25 Amazon.com gift certificate
2nd Prize - Sarita - a $15 Wild Rose Press gift certificate
3rd Prize - Tori - a $10 Books-in-a-Million gift certificate.

Last night while I worked, I watched television. The first time in a long while. I watched The Year with out a Santa Claus with the family and Hallmark's Moonlight and Mistletoe with hubby. The movie ending was a little predictable, even hubby told me what would happen and was right, but sweet. It definitely reminded me of a category romance novel!

Have you seen any good Christmas movies lately?

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Cat Burglar

Here's a fun read for all you cat lover's out there. Even if you don't like cats, it's worth checking out. The pictures are so cute. And even though stealing is wrong, you gotta love a kitty who goes after what he wants. I wonder what's so special about those stuffed leopards!

Hope you have a great day! We're going to see a children's production of The Wizard of Oz!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Cookies, Cats and Dogs

I've started thinking about my next book. Emphasis on the thinking part.

I've gotta admit, I am having such a fun week! I haven't been blogging (or blog hopping) much, sorry, but I really have ignored my family the last six or so weeks. And the kids are pretty much attached at my hip. If I do hop on the computer they sit or stand behind me. They just want their mom and that's cool!

I'm totally getting into the holiday mode. I made dinner again for the family, baked a couple of dozen cookies (my first baking of the season) and all five of us plus Chaos sat on the couch together to read Tale of Desperaux. Although two of the kidlets have already read it, the youngest hasn't so we're doing a family read-aloud. Next week we'll be attending a Desperaux Pre-premiere party since they are making it into a movie so I thought it was worth having everyone read/hear it again.

So my furbabies are at it again. It was the funniest thing the night I sent off my revisions. Rocket and Chaos have an odd sort of friendship. They will both sleep on the bed at the same time. They will sniff each other (sometimes without hissing.) All the kids say Rocket is Chaos' friend.

Well, Rocket was out in the hall when Chaos and I came upstairs. Chaos ran around and jumped over the space where the cat could have attacked him should the cat have been in a bad move. I've never seen the dog move so fast, not even for food. It was pretty funny (given the size difference between the two), but Chaos truly was frightened of that cat. You could see it on her face, but she mustered her courage so she could be with me. Sweet doggie. But if that's how Chaos feels around her "friend" I'd hate to see her with her enemies!

Given our constant pet wars, these pics brought a smile to my face.

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What's going on in your corner of the world? We may get snow this weekend or early next week. Fingers crossed!!!!!

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Christmas Spirit

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The revisions were accepted! I got an email this morning from my editor. Huge sigh of relief. She said she was thrilled with the changes. Since I changed almost every page and added four new scenes that made me feel very, very good!

To celebrate, the kidlets and I went and saw Scrooge, the musical. We'd had tickets for a couple months now, but the timing was perfect. I am now officially in the Christmas Spirit. In the last couple of days, I've almost knocked off my Christmas shopping, too. Not bad!

The family came home from Irish dance and I had dinner ready for them: chicken, green beans, mashed potatoes and cranberry sauce. Hubby looked at me and said who are you? He told the kids I looked like their mother, but I was an impostor named Lola.

I'd also come back from a Costco run and we now have a freezer full of food. A pantry full, too, as I've been clipping coupons and grocery shopping after taking a break for a couple of months and letting hubby deal with it. This means we had enough food for one meal and that's it. Not fun when you're hungry and want something now! Anyway the kids are thrilled.

Now I finally get to work on the tree. We've got it set up, but I need to go to each branch and fix it so it looks more real. I'm about a third of the way done. So that's my job tonight so we can finally decorate it!

How are you're Christmas preparations going?

Monday, December 08, 2008

Free Book Winner is...

The weekly free book giveaway is back on. To enter, just post a comment and check back to see if you won. Sorry for the delay in posting. I enjoyed today. Mass this morning, time with family during the day and Christmas shopping tonight. It doesn't get much better than that!


Here are your random numbers:

34
Timestamp: 2008-12-09 05:14:26 UTC

This week's free book winner is catslady. She won with a comment on the post Revising. catslady, please choose one book from the list here. Email me your choice along with your snail address. You can use the contact form on my website.

Some of you have various personal email addresses of mine. If you win a contest, please oh please, use the contact form on my website to send me your prize choice. It's killing me to have to check in four different places to pull all this together. I know I said it was okay awhile ago, but I just can't do it. I keep losing them and it's taking way too much time. If they are all in one place (ie where my website email goes) it will make life easier and you'll get your book(s) faster. A couple of those personal address have over a thousand unread messages due to deadline and revisions so I may be missing some there. Thanks!

The last winner we had, Virginia, chose The Perils of Pleasure by Julie Ann Long.

I haven't heard back from all of the gift card winners. When I have, I'll post what they got!

Okay, off to see what's on television! I think the last time I sit down to watch something for more than 15 minutes may have been election night.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Out of the Cave

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I have a cave, too. I've been in there for weeks except for a few days here and there, but not anymore. I just emailed my revisions! I am out of the cave and free.

The only problem, I'm sad about saying goodbye to my hero. I really loved this one. Oh, well, I'm sure I'll come up with a new one soon!

I'm pretty wiped out right now so I'm going to wait to post the free book winner until tomorrow! Hope you understand, but I really need to spend some time with the hubby! Plus I kinda over did it with my hands today so need a rest.

Thanks so much for all your support!

Love,
Melissa

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Happy St. Nicholas Day

It's the day to awake with gold covered chocolate coins and a gift in your shoes! I figured I'd celebrate on my blog by mentioning my current book for sale.

Rescued By the Magic of Christmas is only on the shelves for another few days though it will be available on-line after that. The story behind the story is on my website, but I haven't spent a lot of time talking about the book since I've been so busy with finishing and revising my current project. I thought I'd revisit a couple of things for any of you who might have be new to the blog and/or this story!

The Book Soundtrack: These are the songs I listened to over and over again while writing the book. It helped me get a feel for both the story and the characters so I could dive right into writing.

Carly's song: Where are you, Christmas? I remember watching the newscast of the missing climbers in 2006 and seeing Brian Hall's sister talking to reporters. I couldn't imagine what she was going through. Of course, that led to a what if question. What if she wasn't just the sister of one of the climbers, but the fiance of another. The first time I heard this song by Faith Hill, I immediately thought of my heroine Carly who not only lost her fiance and brother on the mountain, but also her dreams and Christmas.



Jake's song: First Time This song by Lighthouse seemed perfect for my mountain rescue hero. The lyrics really fit him and how he feels about Carly. I usually always have a Lighthouse song in every book soundtrack. I just love them!



Carly and Jake Romance song: Keep Holding On I couldn't find the official music video so went with my old X-Files standby. This song was very popular when the three climbers went missing on Mount Hood and from the time I started coming up with my romance novel knew it would part of the soundtrack.



Iain's song for Carly and Nick's song for Hannah: Wherever you will go I was driving in the car when this song came on the radio. I was trying to find a pencil and pen to write down some lyrics so I could google the title. I was also crying because the lyrics were perfect for what Iain and Nick would be thinking about Carly and Hannah.



A funny fictional Mountain Rescue newscast that still cracks me up:


Plight Of Missing Hikers Will Make Great Movie

Oh, yeah. If you want to know which tree I ended up buying, check yesterday's comments. Thanks for all your opinions!

Friday, December 05, 2008

Light Dilemma

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My climbing partner started volunteering at the local Humane Society. Yesterday when we were climbing, she was trying to convince me I needed another animal. I explained why I didn't, but man, hearing the stories she had to tell made me wish I did. There are so many animals who need a home out there.

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I have a Christmas tree dilemma and want some input. We've always had multi-colored lights on the tree. But with hubby on crutches I thought we might try an artificial one this year. Next year we could put it in front of an arched window up in the playroom and go back to a real tree. But the ones on 50% off at Lowes all have white lights. I don't know that I can justify paying full price for the same tree just to get multi-colored lights when I suppose I could always add some strands of color if I had to. Hubby says at that price white lights are fine. Any thoughts?

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Revising

A quick post to say good morning. I'm working on the book still. The story of my life.

Check out these Christmas kitties...



Don't know about you, but a couple of them look as if they are plotting their revenge. I don't blame them! Poor costumed kitties!

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Me doing revisions...

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Yep, that was me yesterday doing revisions. Though when I explode I'm not so soft and furry and cute looking.

The Revision Tally so far:

New words typed in: almost 5000
New pages added: 17
New scenes written: 4
Naps taken yesterday: 2
Number of "he/she smiled" deleted: lost count though I did leave a couple in.
Silliest line found yesterday: She thought once he'd shaved her beard... Cover art for a bearded heroine. Now that would be something!
Revised chapters left to type in: 3
Chocolate eaten: 2 kisses and 3 chocolate chip cookies (hubby did some baking last night!)
Hands: No pain and only a few tingles while I slept!

Oh, yeah, the book has a new title. The working title had been The Billionaire's Playground. The new title is The Billionaire's Proposal. That works for me!

I have my class to teach, but other than that I'll be working on revisions. What are you doing or working on today?

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Guest Blogging again!

My post for today is at The Pink Heart Society. It's about one of my favorite topics...holiday food and cooking! There are links to some tasty recipes, too!

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Someone asked in the comment section about the books from the contest! Yes, they are going out. Slowly, but surely. It's just a matter of getting them all packaged and sent out. I made the mistake of not organizing the books so I have three boxes to go through to find each title. I plan to pay the kidlets $$$ to alphabetize them for me! I haven't had time.

I forgot to mention, the book giveaway is back on. So comment away. I'll go back to announcing a weekly winner on Sundays. I think I still have one book to cross off the list from our last winner back in October, Virginia, but will do that soon! There's still quite a few books left for you to choose from!

I'm still trying to get my revisions done. I ended up rewriting a lot of the book that wasn't mentioned in the revision letter. It was just something I felt had to be done, and I'm so pleased with the changes. I know I'll be even happier once they are all typed in!

Have a wonderful Tuesday!

Monday, December 01, 2008

November Contest Winners

Here's how I picked the winners. Since there was only one prize per person, I used all the comments for the 1st prize and picked a random number. Then I deleted all the comments by that person and picked another random number from the comments that were left for the 2nd prize. And did the same with that winner to pick the third prize.

First prize - Here are your random numbers:

216
Timestamp: 2008-12-01 15:34:47 UTC


Marianne Arkins is the winner of the first prize with her comment on my post Caught in the Vortex. Marianne wins a $25 gift certificate (your choice of any website that offers email gift card/certificates).

Second Prize - Here are your random numbers:

32
Timestamp: 2008-12-01 15:39:47 UTC

Sarita Leone is the winner of the second prize with her comment on my post One of those days. Sarita wins a $15 gift certificate (your choice of any website that offers email gift card/ certificates)

Third Prize - Here are your random numbers:

178
Timestamp: 2008-12-01 15:42:35 UTC

Tori Lennox is the winner of the third prize with her comment on my post Thanksgiving Day. Tori wins a $10 gift certificate (your choice of any website that offers email gift card/certificates)

Winners, please send me the website you'd like your gift certificate from and your email address. You can use the contact form on my website to email me.

Thanks to everyone who entered. In case you were wondering, it paid to post multiple comments. Our winners had each posted between 8 and 21 comments during the month!

Guest blogging at The Wedding Planners

My post for today is at The Wedding Planners blog. A Christmas wedding, actually the one I dreamed of having, is the topic. Stop by if you have time.

I'll be posting the winners of the contest here sometime today!

Have a great Monday!

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Climbing

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I went climbing today. The first time in weeks, probably over a month now. My hands didn't do as well as I'd hoped they would. I only had one climb where they didn't tingle at some point. So that was a little disappointing. I took it easy, too. Really easy. Sigh... But no pain so that's a good thing. And nothing hurts now except my legs (that's from being out of shape!) So I'm going to give my hands a rest for a few days and try again on Thursday.

More revisions on tap for tonight! I'm almost through the entire book, and then I get to input all the changes. I'm glad to hear from those authors who posted comments that I'm not the only one who finds strange sentences when they go back through a story!

Hope you had a good Sunday. I'll post the winners of the November contest tomorrow so there's still time to enter. Just post a comment!

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Caught in the Vortex

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This picture is me right now! Between family, holiday and revisions, I'm being sucked into the vortex. We had a great Thanksgiving at my parents' house. Yesterday, I made a huge dent in my shopping list by hitting the stores at 5 am. Now I need to buckle down and get the revisions done. I'm halfway through the book.

Of course, I've had a couple of cringing moments when reading sentences such as: The fresh air refreshed her. Yikes. What time in the wee hours of the morning was it when I wrote that! But things like that often slip through so it's great to have a chance to fix it.

Did you have a nice Thanksgiving? What are you doing this weekend?

Contest Reminder

Only two more days to enter this month's contest so post comments to get your entries. The prizes are e-gift certificate of your choice to any website that offers email gift card/certificates:

First Prize: $25
Second Prize: $15
Third Prize: $10

* only one prize per person

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving!

I want to wish those of you who celebrate today a Happy Thanksgiving! We'll be heading down to my parents' house to enjoy family, football and food. I'll be bringing the cranberry sauce (with lots of extras so we'll all have leftovers) and Shirley Jump's sweet potato casserole.

Of course, I'll also be pouring over all the flyers with my sister and planning my shopping strategy for Black Friday. The one day of the year I won't complain about getting up before the sun.

Let me know how you are spending the day! Have a great time!

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There was blood...

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Poor Chaos finally bled from the kitty wars. I'm not sure who got her, my guess is Spirit, but the poor dog suffered a bloody scratch near her shoulder. Not fun.

Sorry for the late posting, Borders had a great pre-Black Friday sale I wanted to hit. 25% off an item! And then I had to buy my ingredients for the cranberry sauce and sweet potato casserole I'll be taking to our dinner. I was suppose to host but called in tears last week begging for someone else to do it. Hosting a dinner with everything going on and now revisions screaming to be done was not going to work. So my mom is hosting it.

Back to the Western Regional Championships aka Oireachtas 2008...

Saturday:
Mackenna had to be at the Pavilion at 7 am to prepare for her team competition also called an 8-hand, even though there are actually 16 hands if you count two per dancer. I've never understood that 8-hand term, but I'm guessing there's some historical significance somewhere in the annals of Irish dance.

All the girls put on the same makeup. They also had the same wigs. And then the waiting began. Finally around 9 am, they danced. I thought they did great, but then again I always do. Unfortunately they didn't recall, but that just meant an entire day free. We could skip the awards ceremony! We spent 6 hours at the resort's water park called The Oasis. It was so much fun. They had a wave pool, a lazy river, hot tub and three big slides. They also had waitresses who would come to your chaise lounge and bring you whatever you ordered. We had lunch out there.

In the evening, we ate dinner at the Rustler's Roost, a restaurant that's part of the resort and where the company I used to work for in Phoenix used to have lunches and stuff. It hadn't changed, though the view from the hill had. There was a wedding reception on the terrace which was fun to watch. The bride ditched her heels for a pair of pink Converse tennis shoes!

Sunday:
I took Mackenna to Mass at the parish I used to belong to when I lived in Tempe. Back then it was brand new and Mass was held in the parish center. Now the church is huge. Mackenna said it reminded her of a little village. It even has a gift store! We grabbed breakfast on the way back to the resort, packed, then went to watch a few of the dancers we know compete.

A little before lunchtime, we headed out. Our destination, Last Chance. This is where Nordstrom sends their returns, and you can find bargains if you're willing to search through the racks of shoes and clothing. I found some great stuff for the three kidlets. Nordstrom tights for 47 cents! We had a blast. We followed our shopping with lunch at the New York Pizza place. Then it was off to see my Aunt Neomi where we were staying for the night.

My aunt, one of my dad's sisters, spoiled us rotten. My maiden name is Martinez and you can imagine the mexican cooking we ate that night. She even taught me how to do things her way! She used this special chili powder that you can only buy if you're family of the makers. It's so good, not at all hot, and I want to get the info and take advantage of being part of la familia! We watched a DVD of another aunt's 80th surprise birthday party, my Uncle Maury's funeral DVD and the AMAs. Mainly we just caught up and heard stories! Fun times! We were sad to leave.

So that's my trip sans pics. I still haven't had time to download them. My revisions arrived on Wednesday after turning to book in at midnight on Monday so it's crunch time again trying to get those done!

What's going on with you?

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Oireachtas 2008 - Thursday and Friday

My daughter and I got back from Phoenix yesterday. Both of us were exhausted, but very happy. Here's a recap of our first two days. (I haven't downloaded pics yet!)

Thursday:

We flew from PDX to PHX using hubby's mileage. That meant we got to fly First Class. Woo-hoo! I hadn't flown like that since I left United. It was a great way to start the trip.

Our rental car was a cute little black car with Texas plates. Mackenna decided we should talk like we were from Texas. Of course, she's never been to Texas, but she has heard Miley Cyrus from Tennessee speak. Needless to say, her "Texas" accent cracked me up.

We arrived at the Arizona Grand Resort in Phoenix where the Western Region Oireachtas was being held. Mackenna was wide-eyed when she saw the place. Her first words, "Wow, that's the biggest fountain I've ever seen."

We went to check in and were overwhelmed by the amount of people, all Irish Dancers, in the lobby area. A line stretched across the room to get your dancer number. We decided to go to the room first, then come back since we were meeting two of my friends from Stanford for dinner later.

The room was lovely. Two rooms. The first had a couch, table and chairs, television and minibar. The bedroom had two queens, a wall full of drawers, closet and a sink, and then the bathroom. We thought we'd be sleeping on the couch since we were sharing the room with another mother and daughter, but since we had two beds we each got one!

We headed back to the lobby to get Mackenna's number. It was a bit overwhelming with all the people, dancers practicing and noise. She kept inching closer and closer to me. I could tell she was nervous and more than a little scared. We did see some people from our school and say hi. They were all Oireachtas pros and very nice and helpful. We got her number, #18, then headed across the street to buy her a number holder for her dress.

Then it was off to have dinner with two friends of mine, twin sisters. I'd reconnected with one via Facebook in the last couple of weeks so the timing was perfect. It was great spending time and catching up with them. I'd been in band with both. At the restaurant we kept seeing people from the dance school. I also got a call from a mom making sure we had dinner plans. They were all looking out for the newbies!

We headed back to the room, met our roomies and unpacked. It was going to be an early morning with an 8 am competition and we had to be there around 7:15 am. I was getting worried though. Mackenna really looked overwhelmed. She didn't want to practice. She didn't want to do anything. I kept telling myself this was just a practice Oireachtas. It didn't matter how she did. It was just to gain experience, but I really didn't want her to have a negative experience.

Friday:

We were up and ready to go by 7 am. Ready means wig on and make-up done. This was the first competition she's worn make-up. Another mom at our school who wasn't going with her daughter loaned me sparkles and eye shadow and told me what to buy and do. We were at the stage at 7:15 am. Once again, Mackenna didn't want to practice. She warmed up some, but she was very intimidated by everything. It's such a huge competition, much larger in every aspect than anything she'd done before.

Then, one of the dancers from another school in Portland came up to say hi. They compete against each other. This friendly gesture and recognizing a face really helped Mackenna. She started smiling. They talked, hugged. It was awesome. She didn't want to go out of the room to practice, but she finally ran through her steps in place. Huge sigh of relief on my part.

Each round begins with a different number. The starting number for the first round, Hornpipe, was #14 which means Mackenna #18 would be in the second group of three to dance. They dance three at a time at her age.

I have never been so nervous watching her dance before. She's a Prizewinner (dance level) and would be competing against Preliminary Champions (the next level) and Open Champions (the top level of dancers). Prizewinners are only allowed to compete if their teachers say it's okay. I just wanted Mackenna to make it through the dance, remember all the steps and have fun.

She got on stage and danced so well. It's the best I'd ever seen her dance and was so proud. Her kicks and clicks were the highest she'd ever done. She walked off and told me she missed her first click, but it was the best she'd ever danced the hornpipe. I was so happy for her.

The second round started a little later in the rotation so she had a little time before dancing her reel. She made a mistake at the end, but said she was happy how she danced and glad she came to the Oireachtas. We weren't expecting her to recall (the judges recall the top half of the dancers. Recalling is a big deal because it means you placed and win an award).

While we were watching the next age group dance, they started reading off numbers. We realized this was the recall list. It goes in order. I was highlighting the numbers in the program. #14, #18! She'd made it. We were shocked, but very happy. 29 dancers out of 58 recalled in her competition.

If you recall, you dance one more dance called a Set. This is a hard shoe dance. I almost made a huge newbie error though. I'm used to her dancing Traditional Set so thought that was when she'd be dancing. Luckily another mom from our school told us no, Mackenna isn't dancing at 3:15 pm, but in about 30 minutes so don't go anywhere! Thank goodness for her because I was going to take her back to the room for a couple of hours!

The Set dance had me even more nervous. Mackenna actually went out and practiced this one. The reason-she'd never done the dance on a stage or in front of anyone but her teacher and dance class. Since she's a Prizewinner, they only dance Traditional Set dances. You have to be at the Championship level to do a Set. So this would be her very first time performing her Set. Talk about pressure!

But she did great. She said she was off time at the very end, but pleased. She was just thrilled to recall. Dancers and moms from our school kept coming up and congratulating her. It was so great for her and a huge confidence boost.

We watched a few of her friends dance, then headed off-site to grab lunch. I used to live within a mile of the resort in the late '80s and wanted to see my two apartment complexes. Wow, had things changed. It's grown so much and I barely recognized anything. I couldn't believe it was the same Tempe where I'd spent the first three years of my post-college life.

After our little driving tour of mom's old haunts, we went back to the room and took off her wig. I turned on the Disney Channel and gave her a candy bar. Relaxation time. We headed back to the competition to see what was going on. Then it was time for her to get ready for the award ceremony.

The award ceremony was huge. Overwhelming. But a lot of fun. They put on dance music (non-Irish) and all the dancers were up on stage having a great time. It was so loud though. My ears hurt.

Handing out awards took a long time. They call all the dancers up on stage for a particular age group, then they announce the top 20. Those dancers move behind the podium while they hand out awards to all the others who recalled, one at at time, then they do the top 20.

Mackenna's age group was one of the last of the evening. She was fading, but perked up when it was time to go on stage. She didn't expect to be a top 20 dancer. They started announcing the numbers. They announced the nineteenth one, and then the twentieth...18. She'd made it! I looked across a row of seats at her dance teacher who had a sort of amazed/stunned expression. She had two dancers in the Top 20 for that competition! Later, the teacher's mom told me when they announced Mackenna's number it was the first time she'd ever seen her daughter speechless.

Then came handing out awards. At one point they announced that the rest of the dancers had qualified for Nationals. A huge round of applause. That meant Mackenna had qualified for Nationals. Woo-hoo! I couldn't believe she'd done so well as a Prizewinner! They next announced two dancers tied for 18th. Mackenna's number was called. #18 in 18 place! I couldn't be more happy and proud of her. And even better, the other dancer, a preliminary champion from her school who had recalled, placed 9th and qualified for Worlds! It was hard to sleep that night.

Not bad for a "practice" Oireachtas!

Monday, November 24, 2008

Home!

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I love you all, but I've gotta admit four days without my iBook was pure joy! I wasn't even tempted to hop on my aunt's computer when we arrived at her house yesterday. And my hands only went numb once the four days! And no pain whatsoever!!!

Anyway, I'm home now. Tired, but very happy. Not as rested as I'd liked to be, but the tiredness was worth it.

More tomorrow, but just wanted to say "Hi!" and hope all of you are well!

Love,
Melissa

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Vacation Time!

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My oldest daughter and I are off to Phoenix, Arizona until Monday. She's competing at the Irish dance Western Region's Oireachtas (think western regionals.) Each part of the country and Canada have them and it's how dancers qualify for Worlds and Nationals.

She's going for experience and to have fun. Emphasis on the fun. This will be our first trip just the two of us. I'm so looking forward to our time together. I'm meeting a friend from college for dinner one night (we found each other on Facebook.) I used to live in Tempe and would love to see old friends, but I only know people's addresses not their emails or phone numbers (Christmas card list!) and it's too late to contact them now which is kind of a bummer. We'll be spending our last night with my aunt, who I can't wait to visit!

I will be leaving my computer at home. Off-line for four whole days! I'm guessing my inbox won't be pretty when I return. Or the unread items in my Google reader. I don't really care!

My revisions already came back, but I'd told them about this trip and sticking to the no computer coming along. Both my daughter and I deserve this holiday away! And so do my hands. I will be bringing a hard copy of the manuscript and a pad of paper for the plane ride there and back.

Hope you have a great weekend. And see you sometime on Monday!

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Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Guest blogging at The Wedding Planners

Today is my day to blog at The Wedding Planners. The post is on a wedding theme I found. Hello Kitty Weddings. Check it out and say hi if you have time!

DO NOTÂ WANT
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Tuesday, November 18, 2008

As of 12:03 AM

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Thank you. For the support. Your comments. The virtual chocolate. And your friendship!

I don't know how I'd make it through a deadline without you! I mean that. I love you!

Now I'm going to get some much needed sleep. I want to go to Burgerville for lunch and order a Tillamook cheezburger, sweet potato fries and a pumpkin spice milkshake. I've earned it.

Love,
Melissa

Monday, November 17, 2008

Not quite...

...finished yet. But getting closer. A good thing because it's due today!

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Sunday, November 16, 2008

Two More Soundtrack Songs...

I just got home from Mass and will be getting back to work in a minute, but wanted to say hi first! Here are two new songs from my book soundtrack that have helped me as I race to the end. My heroine and hero are inspired by the two in the clips so it's very helpful to watch and slip right into the books and characters.

The first is In Her Eyes by Josh Groban:



The second is Your Guardian Angel by Red Jumpstart Apparatus:



Hope you have a nice Sunday! Mine will be rather stressful, but I did pick up a package of Hershey's Bars with Almond. That should help!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

It speaks for itself...

Friday, November 14, 2008

Crunch Time

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That picture is exactly how I feel. Although I got some good writing in until lunchtime, the rest of the day was a total wash. Hubby hasn't tried driving yet and was in some pain so I was left driving for yesterday's dance marathon. I spent an hour at a private Irish dance lesson, drove home to pick up the younger two kidlets then returned to the studio for four more hours of various kidlet classes. Considering it's a 30 minute drive each way, you can imagine how much writing I got done. I even brought sandwiches for dinner to try and get me extra writing time. Oh, well... what's an Irish dance mom to do?

The evening went from bad to worse when they told me they wanted to see if they could find a longer class dress (like a school uniform) for my oldest to wear next week at the Oireachtas (i.e. Western Regionals.) The first words out of my mouth were "We can't afford another dress right now." I was told we could see about renting one that was for sale. There was only one used dress that was longer in length, but the sleeves were too short. Thank goodness. I really didn't want to pay out any more money, especially for thirty seconds on stage. So she'll be dancing with a short dress. She'll have black tights on and silver kick pants. She's also only ten and competing in the U15 age group. It should be fine. At least that's what I'm telling myself and her!

Okay, I'm heading back into my cave. I'm entering the frantic, freaked out mode. This weekend is not going to be pretty! Virtual chocolate and hugs gladly accepted (hint, hint!)

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Spotlight in Six Author

I'm the Spotlight in Six author for the month of November at the Harlequin Romance Authors' blog. Please stop by and say hi if you have a moment! It's awfully lonely over there. Click here to go to my interview.

A special thanks to Donna Alward who puts in a lot of work to keep the blog going for all of us Romance authors.

Also, the final chapter of Husband Material is now up at the Mills & Boon website. Click here for chapter eight.

Hope you're having a good day!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Not yet Monday

Why do I love LOLcats so much? Because I can go to icanhascheezburger.com and pretty much find a picture to match my mood or situation. Many times I don't even need to use the search button because gems like this will be on the first page:

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Yep. With a deadline on Monday, I'm right with this LOLcat!

So besides trying to finish my book, what's going on in the household?

- A lot of driving to PT and doctor appointments. We found out hubby will be on crutches for a full two months. Turns out the doc had to do some bone shaving due to bone-on-bone contact in his knee. In order to let blood get in there and cartilage, hubby can't put weight on it. So even though the ACL hamstring graft is looking great, this bone thing will be the limiting factor in his recovery.

- I bought two Christmas presents with a 40% off CDs coupon from Borders yesterday. I also bought a copy of my book. It's one of my traditions. On the release date, I like to buy a copy.

- The kidlets learned to make chocolate chip cookies. All I had to do was put the cookie sheets in the oven and take them out. They were so yummy! And the kidlets even cleaned up the mess!

- The Trigger Point Therapy is working great with my hands. That's three massages so far, and the results are great. My hands aren't healed, but they haven't been this good in a very long time.

So what's up with you?