Thursday, December 28, 2023

Publishing News!


The blog readers are the last to know! I apologize for not posting this video sooner. I've had technical difficulties. But better late than never, right? Here's my big news!

Tuesday, November 7, 2023

Good News Is Coming!

I was about to make a premature announcement! Luckily a friend of mine stopped me from getting ahead of myself. So stay tuned! Pre-Christmas news coming later this week! Yay!

Saturday, December 12, 2020

Meet Jasmine Jingletoes, an Elf for Hire!

Jasmine Jingletoes, at your service!
Meet Jasmine Jingletoes, a spunky, lovable elf who lives to spread Christmas cheer! On Thursday she sang in a Christmas recital. Before her performance, a little boy saw her. He pointed and with great excitement said, "It's an elf! It's an elf!" He asked to see her color-changing hat. He touched her jingle boots and hugged her leg. He asked if she would go to the North Pole and bring back a giant candy cane for him. She was tickled to pieces at his response to her! His big sister said he loves elves more than Santa. (Shhhh! Don't tell the big man!)

Jasmine Jingletoes Is So Excited: Christmas is coming!

Last year Jasmine sang and read stories for school children's Christmas parties. She joined one class for snack time and visited with them. All admired her elf suit and especially those curly-toed jingle boots! 

This year Miss Jingletoes is going virtual! She spreads Christmas cheer with songs, games, stories, and/or conversation. She has both pre-recorded and live options available. Think of the fun your child or a group of children can have interacting with one of Santa's elves!

Btw, Jasmine is my daughter. (I'm the lucky mom of an elf!) You can email her or contact me for more information.

Merry Christmas!


Wednesday, November 18, 2020

Christmas Is Coming! How Do You Feel?

 For many years as a single parent, my answer was B. I was crazy for Christmas, loved every bit of it, but I wore myself out trying to do and see it all and make it magical for my kids. It took a lot of research and experimentation before I figured out how to have the best Christmas every year. Now I live by my Covert Christmas method of advance planning! Be looking for more info on that coming soon! 

Tuesday, December 31, 2019

A Surprise for General Gingerbread... and Me!

I'm pleased to report that I entered one of my short, children's Christmas stories in a contest and won an honorable mention blog badge and a $5 Amazon e-gift card, plus a personal message. The judges enjoyed my story very much, and it would have been a finalist, I'm told, if I'd followed the guidelines more closely.

The story was to be about a treat. My story features a main character who IS a treat, but there were no edible treats within my storyline. It was my way of distinguishing my story from scores of others that were entered in the contest.

Sometimes thinking outside the box pays off, but this time it kept me from a bigger payoff. However, I'm happy with what I received, especially the feedback. Feedback is not often given these days, as some writers tend to react negatively to even constructive criticism, but it's so valuable! Accept or reject it, but appreciate the offer, that's my advice to you.

I hope you've enjoyed the Christmas season and are ready to embrace the New Year. 2020, here we come!

Thursday, September 19, 2019

Christmas with Babies

Some people say Christmas is for kids. I would argue that it's for all ages. After all, Jesus came to be the Savior of the world, and that's not a story just for children! 

At the same time, kids add an extra sparkle, and I know this from experience since last Christmas was my first as a grandma!

 Have you ever seen such a big smile on a baby?

Of course, once there is a baby in the family, everyone wants their turn with the child to enjoy holiday festivities. So, you have to make plans in advance. Last year I got the whole family for Thanksgiving dinner, so Christmas Day went to the other side of the family. We celebrated Christmas 2 days early and then drove together  to enjoy a holiday lights display on Christmas Eve.

This year I won't have just one grandchild, I'll have two! My son's wife is expecting their 2nd daughter on my son's December birthday. Won't that be exciting?

Juggle our usual holiday fun and volunteer work, such as helping at Breakfast with Santa (here she is as an elf with Santa), with family visits with the babies and hopefully teaching my elder granddaughter how to make a Christmas craft, my daughter and I are sure to declare this the best Christmas yet.

So much fun is in my future! Making plans in advance (all year round) always helps make the occasion merry and bright.

Will you be doing any advance planning this year? Have you started (or finished) your gift shopping yet? Remember, planning is what prevents Christmas chaos. You want to relax and enjoy the season. So if you haven't yet, get started now. You'll be glad you did!

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

True Story, Christmas Eve 2018

TRUE CHRISTMAS STORY: On Christmas Eve as I drove my family (my son, his wife, their baby girl, and also my daughter—who had been in a head-on collision that morning) to see a big holiday lights display, we passed a soup kitchen. My focus was on the road, so I didn't glance at the parking lot, but my son and daughter-in-love did, and they thought they saw a baby's carseat. I could hear them discussing it in the backseat but pretended I didn't. It had been a long, stressful day, and we had places to be and things to do before I could fall onto the couch to sleep (to be closer to my daughter, should she need me). My normally Pollyanna optimistic self said there was no baby in that carseat, and if there was (which I felt sure there wasn't), God would send someone else along to find it. He wouldn't put that on me. Not now.
Finally, my daughter-in-law Hope spoke louder. "Can you hear what we're talking about?"
Sigh. "Yes." Pause. "Were there any cars in the parking lot?"
The pair took turns speaking. "No. Can we go back?" "I'd really feel better if we go look." "What if there is a baby? It could get hypothermia before anyone finds it." "Why would there be a carseat there?" "We need to check it out." "I'm going to worry until we know for sure."
SIGH. Okay, so I turned the car around and drove back to the soup kitchen. Hope leapt out of the car and ran to the carseat...which was empty. A donation, maybe?
I love that my son and his wife both have big, compassionate hearts. That even as tired new parents, they won't turn a blind eye to a possible need. That there is room in their inn for an unexpected baby, should one arrive on Christmas Eve. Maybe when I grow up, I will be more like them. 
My granddaughter, awestruck by all the lights

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Confession: I'm a Past Member of the Christmas Peekers Club

Years ago as I browsed the racks at a thrift store, I found a red sweatshirt that proclaimed the wearer as a member of the Christmas Peekers Club. I laughed out loud...and bought it. (I still have it!) You see, as a child I could find hidden gifts without even trying. As a young adult, I could accurately guess what was in a wrapped gift by the size, shape, and weight of the box. And as a mom, I stumbled over gifts that I didn’t mean to see before young hands eagerly held them out to me. Peeking, whether intentional or not, seems to be my superpower.

So, the burning question is How do you thwart a present peeker? As an expert peeker, I can tell you not to leave your list lying a drawer, jewelry chest, or purse, where a snoop might find it. (I found Mom’s list in her jewelry box one day when my only plan was to admire her brooches and rings. See? Superpower!)

  1. Disguise gifts by putting them inside different containers. For example, once during my teen years, Mom put all my gifts inside puzzle boxes and gift-wrapped them. I knew they were puzzles by the shape of the boxes and the sound of puzzle pieces rattling around when I shook those boxes. Let me tell you, I was not a happy camper, and when I started opening them on Christmas Eve (as was my family’s tradition) and found used puzzles, I was doubly upset and confused. That’s when Mom told me to take the lids off to see what was inside, and that’s when I found my real presents! Mom got me good that year! You might pack gifts into tins and include a jingle bell or marble to rattle around and confuse the recipient.
  2. Wrapped gifts are harder to peek into than gifts tucked into gift bags. Wrapped gifts that are tagged with a number instead of a name prevent the snooper from figuring out which gifts are his or hers.
  3. Keep gifts in a secure area. That may be a locked file cabinet, the trunk of your car (if your kids are too young to snoop there), or inside a box labeled as something boring—think “90s Tax Papers” kind of boring. Gifts hidden in a closet, a dresser drawer, or under a quilt in the shower may be found (those are places I found Christmas gifts)! My secure area is a metal filing cabinet in my home office, a room where I spend much of my day. The best secure areas are those that you can easily monitor. Attics and basements aren’t the best choices if you are rarely in those locations yourself. Peekers love having privacy while they are snooping. My favorite time to hunt for hidden presents was while my mom was cooking, because I could search the master bedroom without fear of getting caught! 
A long time ago I learned that peeking at presents presented problems. First, I lost the thrill of surprise. Knowing in advance what my gifts were, made opening them less fun. Then, I gained the stress of needing to act the right level of surprised so that no one realized I had peeked. There was also the stress of not letting my discoveries slip before Christmas. I forgot myself one year as I helped Mom wrap my brother’s presents and said something about another of his gifts that she had not yet brought to the table. How did I know about that other gift? My red-faced, stammered lie, that I was just guessing, didn’t fool Mom.

So, while it’s fun to pretend to be a detective and hunt for hidden presents, it’s not fun to get caught—or to worry about getting caught after the fact—and it’s not fun to face the holiday with no surprises. It’s also not fun to disappoint loved ones who wanted their gifts to be a surprise. Do your best to thwart the peekers in your house. If you’re the peeker, withdraw your membership to the Christmas Peekers Club. Join me on the Surprise Side and enjoy the holidays!

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Joining the Hodgepodge

Hodgepodge Questions  volume 254

A group of bloggers does “hodgepodge questions” every Wednesday, 
and I decided to join the fun for a change of pace! 

1. Describe love using all five senses.  
Love looks like a gift, shiny and exciting and new. You open it, and the aroma of home-cooked meals wafts out, and when you lift it from the tissue paper, it wraps a child’s warm, soft arms around your neck, and you hear laughter, tears, and soft sighs all at once. You press your lips to it and taste ... chocolate dipped strawberries. Okay, that last one may be a cliché, but love makes life rich and sweet like that Valentine treat!

2. February is Canned Food Month. What’s your favorite food that comes straight from a can?
Cherry Pie Filling! The perfect topping for cheesecake, and you can’t have cherry delight without it.

3. A principal in a UK school recently sent home a letter to parents requesting they (the parents!) dress appropriately when escorting their children to/from school (basically saying please don’t wear your pajamas) You can read the letter here. It’s gotten a lot of publicity, both positive and negative. Your thoughts? And do/did you ever make the school run (or hit Starbucks, Walmart, etc) in your pjs?
Noooooooooo! But I will admit to driving my daughter to work in my pajamas, before sunrise, because I was going right back to bed when I returned home. I did worry about what would happen if I had car trouble and had to look under the hood of my car in my flannel Coca-Cola pj’s on the side of the road.

4. Crew neck, V-neck, turtleneck, scoop neck...which is most prevalent in your wardrobe?
V-neck. It may be the most flattering neckline there is and makes a nice frame for a pretty necklace.

5. I read here recently a list of four things to avoid so you wake up happier. They were late night snacks, hitting the snooze button, social media just before bed/upon waking, checking emails. Are you guilty of any of these behaviors? Which on that list do you need to work harder at avoiding?
Oops. But not going to work at avoiding any of that. I don't generally wake up unhappy unless I had a bad dream.

Me and my brother in my favorite house
6. Share something you remember about a house you lived in as a child? Of all the homes you lived in as a child, which did you love best? 
I remember five houses. The white 2-story house with a big front porch was my favorite. I was ages 4-6 when my family lived there. After hearing the story of Mary Poppins, I took a little umbrella out onto the porch and jumped off. I did not fly. What a disappointment. A few years later, I took an umbrella outside during a strong wind. I didn’t fly then, either. And that was the end of that poor mangled umbrella and my dream of flying like Mary Poppins.

7. Your favorite movie based on a true story? 
Hmmm. Not a big fan of true story movies. I’m more of a Princess Bride/Willy Wonka kinda gal. But I did see and enjoy The Blind Side.

8.  Insert your own random thought here.
You know what’s completely unfair? It’s how you lose an entire segment of your life when you end up divorced. Everyone else can reminisce and share any part of their life to their heart’s content, but the divorced individual is told to “move on,” and there seems to be an unspoken rule that to share or even just occasionally think about any experience you had during the time when you were married is unacceptable. How can it be right that 20 years’ worth of experiences have to be buried and forgotten for me to be healthy? I don’t think denying that those 20 years existed is healthy at all. They’re a part of what made me the woman I am today. What do you think of that?

And that’s the not-Christmasy hodgepodge for today! Gotta post it while it’s still Wednesday! Thanks for your comments!

Monday, January 4, 2016

New Life for Old Cards

Ideas for Christmas Crafters

Continuing the topic of Christmas cards from Jan. 2, 2016, I’d like to share this link to a blog post by Southern Savers full of recycling ideas for Christmas cards. Repurposing Christmas & Greeting Cards

One idea that was not included is an ornament craft my mother used to make when I was a child. I found the directions and template for that project here at ChristmasCards4Less: Card Ball Ornament 

This is a craft project you can do during these snowy winter months (if you live in the northern hemisphere), and children can help cut, fold, and glue. Each ornament is made of 60 (sixty) circles cut from cards.

If you can’t bear to cut up greeting cards you received from family and friends but still want to tackle this project, visit thrift stores looking for already low-priced cards now at reduced clearance prices. Those won’t have sentimental ties, and you can cut and create to your heart’s content for very little expense!

Save your finished project(s) in a cardboard or plastic bin, labeled clearly, so you find them in perfect condition next December, ready to display!