“Why didn’t you give them money?”
my seven-year-old asked. When the cashier at a fast food restaurant had requested a donation to their charity of choice, I’d said no. That’s what I usually said when strangers caught me off-guard asking for money. Suddenly, my child’s kind, blue eyes made me feel guilty. I tried to explain:
“There are lots of good causes and we can’t afford to give to all of them. I believe you should think about which ones you want to support, then donate to them.”
For a long time, I simply didn’t have the discretionary income to share with others. Now that I’m more comfortable, I still have a list of things for which I need to save money: my child’s college tuition, a house with a backyard and retirement. On the other hand, I want to teach my daughter to appreciate what we have and to care about those less fortunate.
That’s why we donate outgrown clothes and toys to Goodwill. That’s why I slip some money into the Salvation Army’s bucket at Christmas time. That’s why we end each night by listing all of the things we’re thankful for which includes food, shelter and good health. But is that enough?
Case in point: my daughter's school recently collected new and used supplies for the animal shelter. I suggested she gather up cat toys she could find around our house since our ten-year-old tiger cat would rather sleep than play. My daughter wasn’t satisfied with that. I told her if she wanted to buy items, then she could spend her own money on them. Without hesitating, she ran upstairs and opened her piggy bank. She had $9.78 left from her birthday money. I didn’t want her to regret this tomorrow
, so I reminded her of the things she could buy with her savings: doll clothes and books about fairies. She suddenly thought those things were trivial.
At this point, I gladly took her to the store so she could select pet toys, collars and tiny cans of tuna-flavored food. She remembered how happy our striped kitty was when I let her lick the can after I made tuna salad. My daughter decided she wanted to buy some Fancy Feast for our Cat Chow cat, too.
I was so proud of her. She cared about the animals at the shelter just as much as she did about her own grumpy cat.
I guess charity really does start at home.
In this season of giving, for which charities do you have a soft spot in your heart?
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I need your help coming up with a title for my new novella!
I usually have very strong feelings about what my books should be called (for example: What Happiness Looks Like
and On the Verge
), but this one has me stumped. It's set during a spring rain so I thought maybe "A Rainy Day Romance
" would be good. Let me know what you think. Here's what it's about: Bethany Morris is tired of hearing she “has a pretty face if only. .
. .” Well, she has tried to lose weight. She has the DVDs to prove it: “No Pain, no Gain Pilates,” “Buns of Steel” and “Yoga for Dummies.” Exercise isn’t her thing. Once she hit thirty, proudly self-sufficient yet still single, she made herself let go of all of those hopes of settling down.
After all, guys were visual creatures. If you didn’t look like a Sports Illustrated swimsuit model, they didn’t want to date you, let alone talk about forever. And she'd never in her life looked good in a bikini.
That's why Bethany is surprised when her Friday night tradition of watching DVDs and eating a pint of Chubby Hubby ice cream is interrupted. Her svelte friend claims that her date only wanted to talk about Bethany! Was it possible that the handsome, yet geeky, computer engineer at work would rather be with Bethany--a woman with curves in all the right (and wrong) places?
Tired of sitting home alone every weekend, Bethany decides to take a chance and ask Drew out. When a mysterious woman's phone call interrupts their date, Bethany wonders if Drew is already spoken for. Is she making a fool of herself or does she have a future with Drew? Now for the fun part! Vote for your favorite title or suggest one of your own!
If this sounds like a novel you'd enjoy, you should also check out On the Verge
, where a newlywed hits his head and his wife struggles to accept his personality changes. The Midwest Book Review calls On the Verge
"highly recommended" and It's available on amazon for $2.99
I can’t stand to hear my daughter cry. It was different when she was a baby because crying was her only form of communication. But as she transformed from a babbling infant to a talking toddler, she clung to crying as part of her repertoire and I grew less tolerant. If she protested one of my decisions for too long, I told her to go to her room and return when she was done crying. This seemed to help.
As her crying jags grew less frequent, they affected me even more. They made me realize how deeply she felt about things. Sometimes they made me question my own judgment. I hated myself for allowing her tears to weaken my resolve. If she were being punished for a poor choice, then cried, I reminded myself, “Lesson learned.” But it was still difficult for me.
Once she entered school, I wanted her to control her outbursts better. I didn’t want her to crumble into tears over hurt feelings and be teased by the other kids. If she started to cry at home over a minor disagreement, I’d tell her to pull herself together.
Just last week, her tutor told me that she had done well, but at one point, had disobeyed. When my daughter was instructed to write with a pencil, she kept writing with a marker. A permanent marker. The tutor told her it would soak through the paper, so my daughter continued writing. I nodded and walked my child out to the car.
My daughter smiled up at me, “Do I get a treat?” Often when she does well at tutoring, she gets a chocolate Frosty from the Wendy’s drive-thru.
“Not today,” I said. I lectured that she needed to show respect to the tutor and do as she says. This is when I got the explanation about how she was careful not to let the marker soak through the paper. I was torn, since most of the hour-long session had gone well. I drove past Wendy’s anyway. I didn’t want to reinforce her poor listening skills. And so she began to cry.
And cry. My shoulders clenched. My head throbbed. Fifteen minutes of sobs from the backseat felt like hours. I wondered if I’d made a mistake. I then worried if I caved, I’d teach her to cry even more. I considered telling her to pull herself together. But I decided to let her continue. Even when she ratcheted up the volume.
I turned on the radio to distract myself. Soon, the music soothed her, too, and she quieted. We were almost home when she said in a calm voice, “I have to tell you something weird, Mom.”
“What?” I asked, my body still tense.
“Crying made me feel better.”
I hadn’t expected that. All of those times I’d tried to stifle her tears, maybe I’d been denying her some kind of catharsis. Then I remembered an old “Everybody Loves Raymond” episode where Debra said sometimes she just needed a good cry. She’d put on the theme from Ice Castles and give in to her emotions.
“Isn’t that weird, Mom?” my daughter asked again. She seemed pleased with her discovery that tears can actually work like salve on a wound.
I don’t understand it, but what matters is that she does. How about you? Do you believe in the healing power of tears?If you're on the verge of tears, treat yourself to On the Verge, which tells of a single mom whose wonderful new husband hits his head and changes personalities. How long should she wait for her true love to return? What if he never does? Click here to learn more about On the Verge, which is "highly recommended" by the Midwest Book Review. (If nothing else, it'll distract you from your own problems). Please pass this along by clicking the buttons below. Thanks!
Is it more important to say “no” or “yes” when you’re a mom? I recently read a parenting book that suggested we should try to find a way to say "yes" more often. When a child asks to go to the zoo on Monday, instead of saying, "No," ideally the mom would say, “You may go on Saturday.” Unfortunately, this doesn’t work very well in my family. My young daughter would remain upset today, but remember my offer once Saturday arrived. I’ve learned this the hard way: avoid promising anything later because it’s too hard to predict the future. How can I guarantee a weekend zoo trip when someone could get sick or it might rain?
I think previous generations doled out a firm “no”
easier than some of us today. In fact, a stranger walked up to me and my baby in the mall one time and offered an odd bit of advice (as people often do to new moms). The old woman said, “The most important thing you can do as a parent is to mean it when you say, ‘No.’” I smiled and nodded, wondering if this was a personal regret of hers or a general criticism of parents today. Naïvely, I assumed I’d have no problem giving my child boundaries and sticking to them.
But I admit, I have been guilty of saying “no” as a reflex then second-guessing myself. Kids ask so many questions, it can be overwhelming: “Can I have a play date?” “Can I have some ice cream?” “Can I watch TV?” They want things and we hold the power to grant their wishes. I hate it when I initially say "no", then reconsider and realize I can say "yes." Therefore, my favorite answer (and one I remember my own mother giving) is to say, “Let me think about it.” Magically, time gives me perspective and strengthens my resolve. Somehow stepping away from the topic also seems to help my daughter accept my answer. Or best of all, she actually forgets what she asked for.
So, I’m torn on the yes/no issue. The other day I told my seven-year-old to hang up her clean clothes. This is a task I usually do for her, but am trying to transition onto her shoulders. She asked if I would help. Because she has trouble squeezing the levers on the pants hangers, I decided that I would. She brought me the empty hangers, I placed the clothes on them and then she hung the outfits in the closet. In fact, she smiled as we worked together. Before I knew it, the laundry was put away. Afterwards, I felt good about the compromise.
Until my daughter said something that I couldn’t quite decide how to take. She said, “I love you, Mommy, because you always say yes.”
Does that mean I’m a good mom?
Hmmm. . . .Let me think about it and get back to you. What do you think? Should parents try to find ways to say “yes” more often?
(If you enjoyed this post, you’d probably like A Mom’s Life: Warm Fuzzies, Food & Fun
available at amazon.com. The paperback would make a great Mother's Day gift or present for a new mom.)
The Next Big Thing Blog Hop is a way of connecting readers to writers around the world. I would like to thank Kelly O'Dell Stanley, who just signed a book deal, for inviting me along. You can read about her original idea here: Praying Upside Down
I will answer some questions about my writing then link you to amazing authors I think you'll like. 1. What is the title of your book? On the Verge2. Where did the idea come from?
I once worked for a man whose wife was in a car accident that completely changed her personality. He said she "wasn't the woman he married." This ethical dilemma intrigued me so I wrote a book where a head injury interrupts newlywed bliss. (My boss, by the way, divorced his wife. In my book club discussion questions, I ask if a man or a woman is more likely to stay married if his/her partner becomes gravely ill.)3. What's the genre?
contemporary fiction or women's fiction4. Which actors would you choose to portray the characters in a movie?
Ginnifer Goodwin from "Once Upon a Time" for Val, the main character, and Cindy Crawford for Joely, a secondary character.5. What's the one sentence synopsis of your book?
Newlyweds struggle to repair a 1920's house while trying to rebuild their relationship after a personality-changing head injury.6. Was this independently published or represented by an agency?
It was independently published after consulting with my agent. My next novel will be represented by the MacGregor Literary Agency.7. How long did it take to write?
It took about 6-8 months to write.8. What other books would you compare this to?
"The Vow"9. Who or what inspired you to write this book?
A friend of mine lives in a 1920's Spanish-style house which I've always admired. Her stories of restoration joys and nightmares inspired the On the Verge
house and is featured on the book cover.10. What else about your book might pique the reader's interest?
The Midwest Book Review wrote this: "A thoughtful tale about difficult human problems with no easy solutions, On the Verge
is highly recommended."
If you like contemporary women's fiction, check out Kaira Rouda
, who Claire Cook, author of Must Love Dogs
, said "is like getting together with one of your best friends--fun, fast and full of great advice." For historical fiction, I highly recommend New York Times bestselling author, Tasha Alexander
, and for inspirational fiction and non-fiction, read Peggy Sue Wells
I am not good at playing games.
Years ago I won at bowling and was so ecstatic, I jumped for joy. When my future husband pointed out that I wasn’t a graceful winner, I apologized and explained that I’d never won before. Not bowling, not mini-golf, not anything. Growing up, it seemed my father always won the games we played. If it were just my older brother and I, I still couldn’t compete. I told my fiance that I had plenty of practice losing. “I’m a good loser,” I promised.
The other night, however, I wondered if this were true. My husband and I had bought the board game Clue for our seven year old daughter. In elementary school, I’d played it a couple times at a friend’s house and enjoyed it. After all, it had colorful characters like Mrs. Peacock and Professor Plum, miniature revolvers and candlesticks, and it offered the chance to play detective. I was excited that my daughter was finally old enough to play a game I’d truly enjoy. No more Candyland or Don’t Break the Ice for me.
She requested we play every night and more often than not, my husband set aside the papers he was grading and took his place around the table. It surprised us the first time our daughter solved the mystery. Then she won again. And when she didn’t win, my husband did. Wait a minute.
I noticed a pattern developing. My husband won because of his exceptional deductive reasoning skills. My daughter won because she wasn’t afraid to guess and be wrong. But me—I waited to accuse a suspect until I was 100% sure. By that time, someone else would beat me to the punch.
Last night my daughter wanted to play again and I suggested we take a break. This game that I’d fantasized about as a child turned out to be yet another one in which I had no skill. Then my husband teased me, “Momma doesn’t want to play because she always loses.”
Here the Mommy Guilt kicked in. Everything I say and do is setting an example.
How could I expect my little girl to smile and say, “Good game” after she lost when I didn’t?
So I took a deep breath and agreed to participate. Right away I could tell I was going to lose again. I rolled plenty of ones and twos. I got trapped in a room I didn’t want to be in. The fates conspired against me. Too soon my daughter bragged that she knew the weapon and the guilty party. All she had left was to figure out the location of the crime. My husband said he had it narrowed down to 25%. Ugh! I told them both to be quiet or people wouldn’t like playing with them. (And by “people” I mostly meant me.) My husband “Awwww” ed in my direction.
That’s when I realized that after plenty of experience, I hadn’t even mastered the art of losing gracefully.
Sensing that one of my opponents would soon win, I was frustrated that they seemed closer to a solution than I was. But I did have a pretty good guess. I decided to take a page from my daughter’s playbook. For the first time ever, I dared to make an accusation without 100% certainty.
Fate smiled upon me and I was right. I’d won! Finally I felt the rush of victory. I reminded myself not to smile too broadly. Good sportsmanship (and good role modeling) take effort.
What amazes me is how well my daughter handles it when she guesses the answer and is wrong. Patiently she waits for the game to end, giddy because we are doing something together as a family. She doesn’t let her mistake stop her from taking a chance the next time, either. Perhaps those who excel at games, like in life, are those willing to risk failure.
Sometimes we win and sometimes we lose. What matters is that we had fun along the way--together.Are you a good loser? I'd love to hear your comments!If you'd like to be the first notified about book giveaways and new releases, please click here and leave your e-mail address. I plan on giving away several copies of my novels soon!