Tuesday, December 19, 2006

I'm a bad cat mommy

I was mean to poor little Sheba and didn't even realize it tonight! She has this thing for loving to go in the closets as soon as I open the door. If you ask me I'm convinced cats just think absolutely no door should be closed to them because they might miss something important. Anyhow, I know this about her, always have, and don't expect it will ever change. So you'd think after 3 1/2 years I'd KNOW to always check before closing any doors. Well tonight I didn't even think of it, opened the closet to hang up a sweater from the laundry and of course just like always, I then closed the door. FORGETTING to check to make sure no kids were keeping my clothing company. Shortly thereafter I went out to meet some girlfriends for a movie and appetizers afterwards. Just got home about 11:30.
The boys came running to greet me like always but Sheba was no where to be found and she's always the first to make it to the door when I get home. So I'm calling and calling and she never comes. Finally I get a sneaking suspicion where she might be. Opened the closet door and poor Sheba comes strolling out! She was locked in the closet for about 5 hours! And this is a tiny coat closet. Not like one of the big bedroom closets where she likes to hide and sleep the day away.
Poor thing! I felt terrible after I realized it. And this isn't the first time I've done that to her. One time she got locked in there all day long and then some while I was at work. Another time she snuck out the front door and I didn't catch her like I usually do because I never saw her get out. So she was stuck outside for a few hours that evening. Now for most cats, no big deal on the locked outside thing. For her probably no big deal as all the kids in my building love her and if they saw her they'd have been playing with her and all while I was gone. But I felt awful! My kids are all indoor cats.
Still doesn't make me feel any less guilty for not knowing where they are at all times and getting them stuck in a closet! And people wonder why I'm not ready for kids?

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Sunday, December 17, 2006

my first ever book dedication. *sniff*

I was quite surprised to see this today. I ordered a whole bunch of Harlequin Romance books a couple weeks ago (all the January releases I wanted) and it arrived the other day. I opened it up then to make sure everything was there but didn't do much else with it. Today I had to pull one of them out to check something (it's a book I reviewed and I needed one piece of info I didn't have yet.)
Well this particular book is a double ending... it's and ending to a fantastic line from Silhouette which if you ask all it's readers and authors, should NOT have ended and it's the final book in a mini-series I've been reading religiously since it started. I even went so far as to beg review copies off of the authors so I could read them that much sooner. (All of the authors graciously sent them to me.)
Since I knew this was the line's conclusion and the mini-series conclusion, I opened it up to see if there was a publisher's or author's note about these two endings. As I was flipping through, I came to the dedication page. This particular line and mini-series was centered around strong and empowered women. So after the author went through the usual thanks to people who helped her with the book, she went on to thank several of those strong women who supported her through it. Never in a million years would I have expected to see THIS, but there's my name, listed along with several others! Talk about being surprised!
I've known many authors and friends who have always appreciated our friendship and support and just the knowing is pretty special. but to see that appreciation put out there for the whole world to see... wow!

Monday, December 11, 2006

I think I've finally lost it...

Yes super mega busy me has just committed to something ELSE for next year! LOL I've been hearing all year long from one of my book groups about The 100 Book Challenge Harlequin Books had going on for 2006. Everyone who signed up is supposed to read 100 books in the year and at least 50% are supposed to be from any of the Harlequin lines. I didn't know about it this year which is probably a good thing. LOL But I asked if they were doing it again next year and my friends who had participated said yes there'd be another one for 2007.

100 books in a year? Not a problem. We can count audio books too so I'm easily over 100 in a year. The problem part comes from the fact 50% minimum must be Harlequin books. Now don't get me wrong I DO read several of the Harlequin lines and I enjoy them when I do. The problem is in the fact that the majority of what I read every year is review books. And getting on Hquin's review list is HARD! I've tried several times. But my websites I've reviewed at weren't big enough for Harlequin to be willing to send us books. I do get several review copies from a couple lines through several author friends. But is that enough to reach 50% minimum? Not even close. LOL I buy tons of Hquins every month I just never get around to reading them with my review books that pile up.

So... Powers-That-Be in the review world for Harlequin... if you're reading this, please consider me for your reviewers list! I'll even give you a list of the lines I enjoy so you can let me review those! LOL Think they'll listen? Probably not.

So for me the hardest part of the challenge will be making time to read enough Harlequins to qualify. The good part? Participants in the 100 Book Challenge get an extra discount on books purchased from Harlequin's website. Since most of my Hquin books purchased are through the website (I love the buy a month in advance option!) anyhow, that's good news for my pocketbook.

The other hard part is I think we're required to blog weekly about our reads. I guess that helps to keep everyone on track to see if they're meeting their goals. Lordy! I don't even write in my own blog weekly! I'll have a stretch where I write in it religiously and then I get busy with other things and will forget sometimes for a month or more to blog. So now I have to make sure I post at least weekly to remain a participant. And since everyone participating in the challenge is to blog about them, I'll be reading more blogs regularly too.

WHAT was I thinking?!? But I committed so I'll follow through just like always and hopefully I'll make my goals. Besides, this is me we're talking about. The crazy woman who never seems to be happy unless she's insanely busy!

And I don't even have all the rules and details yet for it.

Hey, I always do enjoy a good challenge....

Current reads:
Print - A Killing Tide by PJ Alderman
eBook - Solstice Heat by Judy Mays
Audio in car - The Magic Hour by Kristin Hannah
Audio everywhere else - The Ice Queen by Alice Hoffman

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Long overdue Halloween report

I had this half typed out and I hit a button, closing the window without saving so now I have to start all over again!

Every year Thrive (my singles group for those of you who still don't know what it is after my always talking about it. LOL) throws a big Halloween costume party and folks go all out for it. This was my first time since I just joined the group beginning of this year but we had a blast!

I spent a few hours in the afternoon painting myself all up since I was going as a faery. I finished early though since I thought it would take me longer than it did. So now imagine this... I have a good three hours to go till I can leave for the party. So I'm walking around my apartment, trying to be veeerrry careful not to smear my artwork. As it was one portion of my right arm I had to redo about 7 times (too close to the elbow so every time I bent my arm - smeared it. And since I was doing purple designs there, I had a HUGE spot where I couldn't get all the paint off from the multiple times messing it up that looked like someone had hit me with a baseball). So here I am trying to keep my arms very still and not bending them too much to try to keep from messing it up again. Didn't work. I finally gave up on the one spot. LOL

I headed over to the party early since they had said they might need help decorating. I got detoured along the way though to pick up a few non-scary Halloween movies for us to play. As it was we only used the one over and over since it was just background anyhow. (The Corpse Bride in case you were curious.)

By the time I got there decorating was almost done so I just helped finish up.

Now all us Thrivers know that when a time is set for something to start, no one is ever there on time. They all want to be fashionably late. So the party was supposed to start at 7:00 but it was 8:00 before the majority of the people were there. There were some really wild costumes, some ordinary ones, some very creative ones, and some people who didn't wear a costume at all. The pictures I'll be posting don't even begin to show the full variety.

There was also a pumpkin carving contest for anyone who wanted to give it a shot. Several people tried their hands at this activity. It was too cold outside for a spring faery like me so I elected out of that one.

There was also a costume competition for scariest, most creative and funniest.

After the party I stuck around to help clean up so I guess I got home about midnight.

And now for those photos!

Sailor Barbie Stephanie and Faery Me

me and Karen

Casie - the sign says it all

Casie front

It's a bird! It's a plane! It's Super.... Carl?

The Matrix revisited

Our two princesses - Egyptian Lesley and Medieval Jessica

Barry and Otis' Elvis impersonations

Need medical attention? - Chris and Lisette

Mark in the booth and me

Captain Jack Sparrow, Elvis, Neo, Grey Mouse, and Faery pose for the camera

Had to show off my artwork with the body paint

long overdue - but as promised

those of you who read my blog a couple months ago about our 80s prom my singles' group held will remember I said I'd post some photos. I never did get the Prom King/Queen pictures (they were too blurry to share), but I have several others that I decided it was high time I posted. So here they are!!!

Stephanie the Material Girl

Kerrie and Jessica - our fearless hostesses

Lovely ladies - (L to R) me, Kerrie, Rhonda

Kerrie and Butch - no the matching outfits were not planned

More lovely ladies - (L to R) me, Annette, Jessica, Heather, Kerrie, Casie, Rhonda

A Different Kind of Christmas Poem

A very different Christmas Poem

The embers glowed softly, and in their dim light,
I gazed round the room and I cherished the sight.
My wife was asleep, her head on my chest,
My daughter beside me, angelic in rest.
Outside the snow fell, a blanket of white,
Transforming the yard to a winter delight.
The sparkling lights in the tree I believe,
Completed the magic that was Christmas Eve.
My eyelids were heavy, my breathing was deep,
Secure and surrounded by love I would sleep.
In perfect contentment, or so it would seem,
So I slumbered, perhaps I started to dream.

The sound wasn't loud, and it wasn't too near,
But I opened my eyes when it tickled my ear.
Perhaps just a cough, I didn't quite know,
Then the sure sound of footsteps outside in the snow.
My soul gave a tremble, I struggled to hear,
And I crept to the door just to see who was near.
Standing out in the cold and the dark of the night,
A lone figure stood, his face weary and tight.

A soldier, I puzzled, some twenty years old,
Perhaps a Marine, huddled here in the cold.
Alone in the dark, he looked up and smiled,
Standing watch over me, and my wife and my child.
"What are you doing?" I asked without fear,
"Come in this moment, it's freezing out here!
Put down your pack, brush the snow from your sleeve,
You should be at home on a cold Christmas Eve!"

For barely a moment I saw his eyes shift,
Away from the cold and the snow blown in drifts..
To the window that danced with a warm fire's light
Then he sighed and he said, "It's really all right,
I'm out here by choice. I'm here every night."
"It's my duty to stand at the front of the line,
That separates you from the darkest of times.
No one had to ask or beg or implore me,
I'm proud to stand here like my fathers before me.
My Gramps died at 'Pearl on a day in December,"
Then he sighed, "That's a Christmas 'Gram always remembers."
My dad stood his watch in the jungles of 'Nam',
Now it is my turn and so, here I am.
I've not seen my own son in more than a while,
But my wife sends me pictures, he's sure got her smile.

Then he bent and he carefully pulled from his bag,
The red, white, and blue... an American flag.
I can live through the cold and the being alone,
Away from my family, my house and my home.
I can stand at my post through the rain and the sleet,
I can sleep in a foxhole with little to eat.
I can carry the weight of killing another,
Or lay down my life with my sister and brother..
Who stand at the front against any and all,
To ensure for all time that this flag will not fall."

"So go back inside," he said, "harbor no fright,
Your family is waiting and I'll be all right."
"But isn't there something I can do, at the least,
"Give you money," I asked, "or prepare you a feast?
It seems all too little for all that you've done,
For being away from your wife and your son."
Then his eye welled a tear that held no regret,
"Just tell us you love us, and never forget.
To fight for our rights back at home while we're gone,
To stand your own watch, no matter how long.
For when we come home, either standing or dead,
To know you remember we fought and we bled.
Is payment enough, and with that we will trust,
That we mattered to you as you mattered to us."

Merry Christmas to all the soldiers out there, wherever they may be. God bless each and every one of you.

A Christmas Miracle

a real tear jerker...


Always believe in MIRACLES!!

Three years ago, a little boy and his grandmother came to see Santa at Mayfair Mall in Wisconsin. The child climbed up on his lap, holding a picture of a little girl. "Who is this?" asked Santa, smiling. "Your friend? Your sister?"

"Yes, Santa," he replied. "My sister, Sarah, who is very sick," he said sadly. Santa glanced over at the grandmother who was waiting nearby, and saw her dabbing her eyes with a tissue. "She wanted to come with me to see you, oh, so very much, Santa!" the child exclaimed. "She misses you," he added softly.

Santa tried to be cheerful and encouraged a smile to the boy's face, asking him what he wanted Santa to bring him for Christmas.

When they finished their visit, the Grandmother came over to help the child off his lap, and started to say something to Santa, but halted.

"What is it?" Santa asked warmly. "Well, I know it's really too much to ask you, Santa, but .." the old woman began, shooing her grandson over to one of Santa's elves to collect the little gift which Santa gave all his young visitors. "The girl in the photograph... my granddaughter well, you see . she has leukemia and isn't expected to make it even through the holidays," she said through tear-filled eyes. "Is there any way, Santa .. any possible way that you could come see Sarah? That's all she's asked for, for Christmas, is to see Santa."

Santa blinked and swallowed hard and told the woman to leave information with his elves as to where Sarah was, and he would see what he could do.

Santa thought of little else the rest of that afternoon. He knew what he had to do. "What if it were MY child lying in that hospital bed, dying," he thought with a sinking heart, "this is the least I can do."

When Santa finished visiting with all the boys and girls that evening, he retrieved from his helper the name of the hospital where Sarah was staying. He asked the assistant location manager how to get to Children's Hospital. "Why?" Rick asked, with a puzzled look on his face. Santa relayed to him the conversation with Sarah's grandmother earlier that day. "C'mon.... I'll take you there," Rick said softly.

Rick drove them to the hospital and came inside with Santa. They found out which room Sarah was in. A pale Rick said he would wait out in the hall. Santa quietly peeked into the room through the half-closed door and saw little Sarah on the bed.

The room was full of what appeared to be her family; there was the Grandmother and the girl's brother he had met earlier that day A woman whom he guessed was Sarah's mother stood by the bed, gently pushing Sarah's thin hair off her forehead. And another woman who he discovered later was Sarah's aunt, sat in a chair near the bed with weary, sad look on her face. They were talking quietly, and Santa could sense the warmth and closeness of the family, and their love and concern for Sarah.

Taking a deep breath, and forcing a smile on his face, Santa entered the room, bellowing a hearty, "Ho, ho, ho!" "Santa!" shrieked little Sarah weakly, as she tried to escape her bed to run to him, IVtubes in tact.

Santa rushed to her side and gave her a warm hug. A child the tender age of his own son -- 9 years old -- gazed up at him with wonder and excitement. Her skin was pale and her short tresses bore telltale bald patches from the effects of chemotherapy. But all he saw when he looked at her was a pair of huge, blue eyes. His heart melted, and he had to force himself to choke back tears.

Though his eyes were riveted upon Sarah's face, he could hear the gasps and quiet sobbing of the women in the room. As he and Sarah began talking, the family crept quietly to the bedside one by one, squeezing Santa's shoulder or his hand gratefully, whispering "thank you" as they gazed sincerely at him with shining eyes.

Santa and Sarah talked and talked, and she told him excitedly all the toys she wanted for Christmas, assuring him she'd been a very good girl that year. As their time together dwindled, Santa felt led in his spirit to pray for Sarah, and asked for permission from the girl's mother. She nodded in agreement and the entire family circled around Sarah's bed, holding hands. Santa looked intensely at Sarah and asked her if she believed in angels. "Oh, yes, Santa... I do!" she exclaimed. "Well, I'm going to ask that angels watch over you, "he said. Laying one hand on the child's head, Santa closed his eyes and prayed. He asked that God touch little Sarah, and heal her body from this disease. He asked that angels minister to her, watch and keep her.

And when he finished praying, still with eyes closed, he started singing softly, "Silent Night, Holy Night.... all is calm, all is bright." The family joined in, still holding hands, smiling at Sarah, and crying tears of hope, tears of joy for this moment, as Sarah beamed at them all. When the song ended, Santa sat on the side of the bed again and held Sarah's frail, small hands in his own. "Now, Sarah, "he said authoritatively, "you have a job to do, and that is to concentrate on getting well. I want you to have fun playing with your friends this summer, and I expect to see you at my house at Mayfair Mall this time next year!"

He knew it was risky proclaiming that, to this little girl who had terminal cancer, but he "had" to. He had to give her the greatest gift he could -- not dolls or games or toys -- but the gift of HOPE

"Yes, Santa! "Sarah exclaimed, her eyes bright. He leaned down and kissed her on the forehead and left the room.

Out in the hall, the minute Santa's eyes met Rick's, a look passed between them and they wept unashamed. Sarah's mother and grandmother slipped out of the room quickly and rushed to Santa's side to thank him.

"My only child is the same age as Sarah," he explained quietly. "This is the least I could do." They nodded with understanding and hugged him.

One year later, Santa Mark was again back on the set in Milwaukee for his six-week, seasonal job which he so loves to do.

Several weeks went by and then one day a child came up to sit on his lap. "Hi, Santa! Remember me?!" "Of course, I do," Santa proclaimed (as he always does), smiling down at her.

After all, the secret to being a "good" Santa is to always make each child feel as if they are the "only" child in the world at that moment.

"You came to see me in the hospital last year!" Santa's jaw dropped.

Tears immediately sprang in his eyes, and he grabbed this little miracle and held her to his chest. "Sarah!" he exclaimed. He scarcely recognized her,for her hair was long and silky and her cheeks were rosy -- much different from the little girl he had visited just a year before.

He looked over and saw Sarah's mother and grandmother in the sidelines smiling and waving and wiping their eyes.

That was the best Christmas ever for Santa Claus. He had witnessed --and been blessed to be instrumental in bringing about -- this miracle of hope. This precious little child was healed. Cancer-free. Alive and well. He silently looked up to Heaven and humbly whispered, "Thank you, Father. 'Tis a very, Merry Christmas!

If you believe in miracles you will pass this on...I did!