Monthly Archives: October 2016

Give and Take – A Love Story of Sorts

A little over three weeks ago, I promised my 12 year old son something I was sure I never would. A pet tarantula. A few years back, I blogged about this very subject: a promise I made to his dad before we got married – no matter how many boys we have NO SNAKES OR SPIDERS EVER. Ummm, we have 5 boys.

My son was obviously very excited about the possibility. I thought surely I’ve lost what was left of my mind and sane decision making. 

This week we ordered a Mexican Red Knee from an online store. The next day we went anxiously to the Fedex store to pick it up. I announced to the lady behind the counter that we were there to pick up a tarantula. She got very excited, as the employees had all been curious about the box labeled “Live Harmless Reptile.” So much so that she asked if we could open it right there so she could take a peek. I agreed because I was guaranteed live delivery and should probably ensure it was still alive! Within a moment, there were a few other eager onlookers. So we opened the box, removed the Styrofoam lid, then the few pieces of newspaper and then… a small plastic container. 

“Did we get scammed?!” I asked. No way was a giant, furry creature in that small container (the container also had a few squares of toilet paper). We carefully poked around until we saw a tiny spider, no bigger than a child’s thumbnail. I was not expecting a baby, but I was secretly glad I was now going to grow with the spider, so to speak, instead of diving head first into eight, huge legs.

We took it back to my parents’ where we were staying for the night… and also where it promptly escaped. We found it by some miracle and put it back into its habitat. We wrapped that up for extra precaution, but again he escaped. I looked for HOURS. Needless to say, my son was very sad the next morning when I had to tell him. 

But then something happened. He found a small garter snake and was very happy with it, as were the other kids. Each took turns washing their hands before and after holding it. Crazier still, I let him bring it home in the container that was supposed to be for the spider.They made him a little habitat, collected some bugs and fed it. This morning they decided to release it. 

After church today, we went to an exotic pet shop. I had spoke with the owner for quite awhile the night before about which spider was best, and he told us that babies are very difficult to care for. So today we saw their collection of rose hair tarantulas, and my son picked one out.

I admit that while we were in the store, I was having some SERIOUS second thoughts about this all. And again questioning my sanity. But we got the spider and she is now adjusting (I think) to her new home. 

Yep. I must have lost my mind… but hey, the kids are happy!

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Happy Days

When life is chaotic and uncertain, it’s important to be thankful for the beautiful things (or people) we’re surrounded by. They are easy to overlook, especially in difficult times. 

Deer in our backyard!

Turning boxes into forts 🙂

Peanut butter and jelly – yummy and fun!

Sister time, just missing one 💕

What do I say? I appreciate his love for bugs that I’ll never have!

And that love he’s passed on to his brothers…

Thank God for family 💜

Nap time with Grandpa.

Eager helpers 👍


Sleeping Alone 

I’m not sure how it happened, but it did. I won’t say I co-sleep, but I guess, unofficially, I do. I don’t care if other parents do or don’t. I don’t judge. After 7 of my own kids, sometimes complete exhaustion takes over. Those are “cookie dough for dinner” and “I don’t care where you sleep JUST SLEEP!” nights. 

Usually at least one falls asleep with me. But somehow I wake up with that one plus two more. Sometimes three. And after awhile, I noticed these extra bodies have taken over. 

But something crazy happened tonight: four wanted to sleep together… not with me. I have an entire queen size bed to myself. 

One might think I’d relish in my new found, or rather reclaimed space. But no… I’m scrunched to the very edge, in the fetal position, unsure about life and how to fall asleep. What if my back doesn’t hurt in the morning? What if I want to get used to this?? I think I better grab a baby in case I get any more crazy ideas. 


Blog Tour for Charles French 

​I am very happy and honored to introduce to you my dear blogging friend, Charles French. As a professor of literature, Mr. French is well versed in the world of reading and writing, and passes on this knowledge with his fellow readers in his daily posts.

In preparation for the release of his new book, Maledicus: Investigative Paranormal Society Book 1, I am pleased to be the host on day 6 of his book’s blogging tour. On today’s leg, Mr. French  offers a glimpse into the very real struggle of titling a literary work. It is both a delightful read and encouraging one.  So without further delay, I present:

The Evolution of the Title in my Novel: Maledicus: The Investigative Paranormal Society Book I
When I first began drafting my novel about 5 years ago, I was not sure about what title to use.  Since I am a lover of Shakespeare, like many writers before me, I went to him for my original title. I decided on Evil Lives After, which is a paraphrase from Julius Caesar “The evil that men do lives after them/The good is oft interred with their bones” (Act 3, Scene 2, Lines 77-78).  I was happy with the title because it reflected one of the major themes in the novel: the consequences of evil during and after life and its continued existence.

I continued using this title through many drafts of the book. (As an aside, the final draft is number 13, but do not worry. Unless you are a Knights Templar in the year 1307, and King 
Philip of France covets your money and gold, you have nothing to worry about from the number 13. But that is a tale for another day!) 

As the book moved along, I had the good fortune to have several very skilled beta readers read and examine the novel. One consistent complaint was that the title seemed tame or stale. At first, I disagreed, because I liked the title and had grown attached to it. Upon serious reflection, however, I came to agree with my beta readers. 

It was time for a title change.

I considered that including the name of the protagonist in the title might work. After all, 
Roosevelt Theodore Franklin is the main character. And the book, in many ways, is about war. Several of the characters are veterans of combat in Vietnam and Iraq, and the Investigative Paranormal Society goes to war against a terrible demon that threatens a child. I created, therefore, the title Roosevelt’s War. This seemed to work—the title was crisp and should capture attention.

But. . . 

As a friend pointed out to me, this title suggested an historical nonfiction book about either President Theodore Roosevelt or President Franklin D. Roosevelt. My friend was completely correct. If I kept this one, it would suggest a completely different kind of book. Roosevelt’s War had to go.

I still needed a title.

Inspiration came to me while teaching a class “Gothic and Horror in Our Culture” at Muhlenberg College. I use Dracula by Bram Stoker in that class. In that classic novel, Dracula is the title character, but not the main character, and the antagonist, not the protagonist. I had my answer to the title dilemma. Like Bram Stoker did, I would make the villain the title character, but I would add to the basic title and include a reference to the group of people who would oppose him. Since this is the first book in a series, I also decided to indicate that situation in the title; therefore, I arrived at Maledicus: The Investigative Paranormal Society Book I.