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. 


In Celebration of Life

My cursor blinks rhythmically on the screen, waiting… I sit in front of it, compelled to write something about how I am feeling after watching the most disturbing and depressing movie I have perhaps ever seen.  After watching it last night, I cried as I looked deeper into the issue of assisted suicide, or as it has been deceivingly called: Death with Dignity.

I thought about diving into the issue of suicide, whether “assisted” or not, of depression, loss, etc.  I thought of how to weave my empathy for those suffering from debilitating mental illnesses, chronic pain, terminal illnesses or life-changing accidents, into the very divided issues of death, dying and our  “right to choose.”  And while I pour over the sadness and pain these people no doubtingly feel, there are also those who never get such a “chance:” children who would choose life but never will be able; children who have never known anything but death, destruction and disability, like 5-year old Omran from Syria.

So as my cursor blinks and my heart aches with my racing mind… how does one address such an issue?  For certain, it is not one issue, but a multi-faceted topic that touches each human being on this Earth.  We have all known death.  Pain.  Loss of some form.  Known or experienced first hand mental illness.  We have all been faced with choices that have altered our lives forever.  And depending on how we have experienced these, coupled with our beliefs, we as a people have wide views on such hard topics.  Some may argue that because of these different beliefs and experiences, are we all correct in our thinking?  If you can make a fair argument for why this man should be allowed to take his life, are you right?  If I can make a fair argument in opposition, am I not also right?  We use words such as “choice,” “this is my body,” “my life.” As a fellow blogger put it: we live in the era of ME.

But I do not want to discuss choices or right and wrong.  I think my position is probably clear that I am for life.  I do not say pro-life because I am not limiting my statement to abortion.  I am for all life.  Every life is worth living. And so, in opposition to the movie (yet so appropriately titled), Me Before You, I would like to celebrate examples of lives that could have been seen as lost, but instead were turned into something extraordinary.

I first read the book about Joni Eareckson Tada before the age of 12, at the recommendation of my mother.  An incredible athlete from a young age, Mrs. Tada became a quadriplegic after breaking her neck in a diving accident.  Like the character in the film, she experienced the depression and helplessness of her new disability.  Yet with beautiful dignity, she did not choose death.  Instead, she became a famous artist using her tongue to create unbelievable artwork for the whole world to admire.

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Another example and similar story is that of Marcus C. Thomas.  He was a triathlete who also became a quadriplegic after a horrible accident.  He learned to paint using only his tongue. Like Tada, he has given the world not only inspiration and perseverance, but also true beauty through his story and artwork.

MrThomas

A woman named Celestine Tate Harrington did not suffer a tragic accident, but instead, was born with a congenital joint condition that eventually left her without the use of her arms and legs.  But she lived her life happily, and was known for her cheerful, bubbly personality.  In addition to her contagious disposition, she was an accomplished street musician.  More astonishingly than that, she gave birth to a little girl and fought for custody in the most remarkable way: After seeking public assistance for her child, she instead found herself before a judge and courtroom ready to deem her unfit because of her disability.  To the complete surprise of them and the world, she dressed and undressed her baby girl in the courtroom using only her teeth!  She won custody of her daughter, and a year later, moved her and her daughter to their own home.  She supported them both by the money she earned playing music using only her mouth!  She died at the age of 42 from complications of her condition.

Another remarkable story is that of Talia Joy Castellano. She battled childhood cancer bravely for over six years until her death at the age of 13.  She used her living years to create YouTube makeup videos, showing the world both her struggle and beauty.  She was also a Covergirl model with a YouTube channel that amassed a huge, supportive following.

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There have been many other stories of children who battled and died of cancer who, instead of choosing death, used their lives to do amazing things for the world.  Trevor Sims died of cancer at the age of 11, but not before using his illness and struggle to raise money and food donations for the Baton Rouge Food Bank.

These are just a few of the countless people who have lived their lives to the fullest.  I have no doubt that they faced fear over their conditions, depression and maybe even wished they could end their suffering early.  But they saw the beauty in their lives and embraced it, in turn, leaving our world that much brighter because of their struggle.

They saw the truth: Every life is worth living.

 


Conversations in the Grocery Store

Today’s edition: “Zombie Apocalypse vs. Alien Invasion – Which is better?”

Leave it to kids to ponder such things!  Especially my very imaginative 12 year old.

At some time between check-out and the car, he began monologuing, I mean, discussing, the pros and cons of each and why one was overall preferable to the other.  With an alien invasion, most of the world is likely to be zapped in an instant.  I admit that at first I thought this was a good thing.  Can’t worry about stuff if you’re already zapped dead, right?  But no, I was not following his logic…

Independence-Day

You see, this kid is not about less pain, shortened misery or just ZAP and dead.  No, he is about survival.

With a zombie apocalypse, death is not a sure thing, but running for your life all day and night is.  Since not everyone will be infected, those not plagued will have the opportunity to find safe havens and work on a cure.  He even suggested pretending to be a zombie by wearing makeup like Bill Murray did in Zombieland.  Also, a 12 year old boy running around shooting zombies is a thrilling thought.

billmurray-zombieland-sparrowsoirees

So, after much explaining, he was that much stronger in his conviction: Out of the two end of the world fantasies, we should all hope it’s zombies instead of aliens – just don’t get caught by a zombie you think is only wearing makeup, but is actually a real zombie!

*Photos are not my own – Google images and sparrowsoireeblog.com


Two….

This one is trouble. He’s illegally adorable, extremely loveable and very smart. 

Why are these things bad??


Car Washes and Scared Kids – a How To

I distinctly remember being terrified of the car wash. Everything about those spinning whips that pounded and rocked the car seemed wrong.  I don’t recall, however, if I cried or attempted a protest or hyperventilated.

My kids – all seven – have done one or all of these.

Some of the kids hyperventilated so terribly that I removed them from their car seats and rocked them through the terrifying ordeal. I’ve tried turning up the music to drown out the sound of my car’s beating. I’ve even neglected washes all together for quite awhile. But eventually, I get sick of the doodles all over the dirt and decide a wash is necessary.

For my four year old, the best remedy is to simply let him out of the car with my oldest. He actually goes into hysteria otherwise.  It’s like torture. So out he goes…

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The little two year old devised his own plan called: “I just won’t look…”

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Then I tried to tell them the car wash is cool. “Hey kids, look at all the psychedelic colors!”

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It almost worked!  Little two was brave enough to steal a peek:

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As for baby, the ones remaining can still distract her 😉