Monday, December 31, 2012

Toddlers and the Concept of Time

     Last night, while riding in the car on the way home from Grammy & Papa’s house, Middle A asked us if Christmas was tomorrow. Would Santa be coming to our house? D and I explained to her that the Christmas holiday is over for now, but we’ll do it again next year.  Middle A is almost 3. The girl has no concept of time. She uses the words yesterday, last week, tomorrow, and next week interchangeably. She was confused, but at least understood that Christmas wasn’t happening again for a while.
     She was upset by this news, so I tried to put a fun twist on it. I told her we still had lots of birthdays and Valentine’s Day, and Easter, and summertime....at which point she interrupted with a one-word question: “Summertime?”
     Of course, I explained to her that that’s when it’s hot outside and we get to do fun things like going to the lake, and to the beach, and the water park. Then she got excited. I was under the impression that she was satisfied with this explanation, but I was wrong. She had discovered something new to look forward to.....the beach.
     Fast-forward to today. Middle A has asked me no less than 372 times when we’re going to the beach. I explained to her that we had to wait until it’s hot outside. Her reply? “Mommy, the sun is shining!” So I told her we had to wait until there are lots of green leaves on the trees. Her reply? (While looking at the pine trees outside the window), “There are lots of green leaves over there!”  I tried to tell her how cold she would be outside in her swimsuit. She told me she could wear a coat. The problem is, she isn’t 100% wrong about any of these, but we simply cannot go to the beach in January.
     She’s walking around the house dressed like this:

Yes, that is a swimsuit. Yes, it is cold here. 
She doesn’t seem to mind. 

     She is still asking me when we get to go to the beach. I keep telling her we can go in the summer when it’s hot. She just isn’t getting it. I decided as a consolation I would at least give the poor girl a pedicure since she’s walking around the house in flip flops. 


At least her toes are cute. Right? 

So parents, how did you get your 2 & 3 year-olds to understand the concept of time? Do you do fun time-telling activities? Do you have posters or charts to teach them days/months/seasons, etc..? I taught 2 year-olds in daycare before I became a mom, so I always did a circle-time to teach these things to my class. Is it ridiculous to do that at home, too? What do you think?

P.S. Now Middle A wants to go to the park. It’s a step closer to home, and a drier one at that....but NO THANKS! 


Monday, December 24, 2012

Book Review: The Lonely Christmas Tree

       

The Lonely Christmas Tree
by Brent A. Marthaller
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Publisher: Tate Publishing
Page Count: 24 Pages
Genre: Children's, Inspirational, Motivational, Spiritual
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Book Synopsis
The Lonely Christmas Tree is born with a purpose to be cherished by someone at Christmas. When the tree is the last one remaining in the lot, the tree starts to believe that all hope is lost.  A bright light comes along restoring faith in dreams and encourages the spirit to persevere. The tree is small and limp but has the spirit to find love and acceptance. This story demonstrates that all of us have that spark within us to find what we long for. Persistence and fortitude can lead us out of despair to the light that shines for all of us. 
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My Review
The Lonely Christmas Tree is an adorable story about a tree that wants so badly to become a family’s Christmas tree. The poor little tree doesn’t realize that he’s not quite what the ‘ideal’ Christmas tree looks like. He watches all the other trees get chosen and taken to homes for the special holiday until he’s the only one left. 

I read this story to Middle A, who is 2 years old. She loved it so much we had to read it again immediately. It’s such a wonderful and touching story to share with your children. There are quite a few lessons that can be learned from this little tree. This will definitely be one to read every year at Christmas time! 
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Author Bio
Brent Marthaller lives in West Fargo, ND, and has written music and lyrics since 1978. During the 1980’s and 1990’s he was a member of several bands which performed throughout the area and at local venues. While those days of performing are in the past, he continues to write whenever he can. He also enjoys introducing his grandchildren to all varieties of music.

Purchase Links:

Tate Publishing:


Amazon


Barnes & Noble


Author’s Website - www.thelonelychristmastree.com

Exclusive Hardcover versions may be purchased for $11.99 directly from the author website!






Wednesday, December 12, 2012

DIY Headband Holder

You know that song “Little Girls” that Miss Hannigan sings in the musical ‘Annie’? Sometimes I find myself humming that song. Having 3 girls, our house is covered in little girl things. I step on a hair clippy at least 10 times a week. Moms of boys think Legos hurt?! I stepped on my share of legos when I was younger. Legos got nothin’ on those little claw-shaped hair clips. OUCH! Along with those hair clips, we have about 10 bajillion hair bows and headbands. The tiny drawer in the bathroom can’t hold them all. Headbands were breaking and bows were getting smashed. I know a hair bow board will solve the smashed hair bow problem. I’m going to take care of that soon. I needed to figure out how to get all those headbands in one place.

This is the answer:


An oatmeal canister is the perfect size to put headbands around!

I trimmed two pieces of scrapbook paper to fit around the can and hot glued them.

Then, I hot glued a ribbon down each side where the paper overlapped so no edges were showing.

Last, I glued a cardboard circle that is about an inch wider than the base of the canister to the bottom.



Middle A insists on wearing a headband every single day, so it’s great having them all right there where she can choose which one she wants. It’s also handy for teaching her to put them where they belong. She is doing a great job keeping up with her headbands since they’re all displayed on her dresser now. 

Here are Middle A’s headbands on her headband holder:




Friday, November 23, 2012

Book Review: Here Among Us




   

Here Among Us
Maggie Harryman

Print Length: 304 pages
Publisher: Straight On True (October 1, 2012)
Genre: Literary Fiction

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Book Synopsis:

When unemployed San Francisco attorney, Flynn O’Shea, and her teenaged daughter, Didi, are summoned to New Jersey for the Thanksgiving holiday by Flynn’s socialite sister, Maeve, she expects a fight.

After all, she has been battling Maeve most of her life. Disagreeing about the extent of their Irish mother’s creeping dementia and the fate of the family’s thriving restaurant business, named for their beloved, long dead father, Paddy, is surely a recipe for a world-class brawl.

What Flynn doesn’t expect is the fragile truce the sisters forge to save O’Shea’s from the clutches of Maeve’s scheming husband, Jeffrey. Flynn and Maeve are reluctantly aided by their forty-four-year-old brother, Osheen, a handsome Peter Pan still cruising the Jersey shore, getting high and dodging responsibility.

And while Didi tries to convince her mother that “everything is as it should be,” just when Flynn is sure she’s gained the upper hand on Jeffrey, her own mother’s shocking confession sends her into a wine-soaked tailspin and forces her to deal once and for all with the ghosts of her past. Devastated, Flynn must choose to save O’Shea’s or risk losing forever all she has left of her father.

In Here Among Us, the O’Sheas find themselves dealing with the very timely issue of Alzheimer’s, a disease that strips the victim's identity and wreaks havoc on the family left to pick up the pieces. But Flynn, Osheen and Maeve’s troubles began long before their mother started to “slip.” For the O’Sheas, much of their shared angst is rooted in the single most devastating event of their lives—the death of their father when they were young children. The novel explores not only how deep wounds can seem impossible to heal, but how refusing to let go of the stories the O'Sheas desperately cling to about who they are, threatens to hasten their demise.



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    Here Among Us was a fun read with a great balance of family drama, crime, blackmail, with a dash of romance. Flynn is that relative that every family has who keeps her distance to avoid the drama. This particular year, she gets sucked into visiting for Thanksgiving. She expects to find drama waiting for her, but what she doesn’t expect is to be sucked into a giant whirlwind of secrets, scheming, and drama. 
    Flynn's mother’s memory is failing her. Her sister, Maeve, has a whopper of a secret to share with the family. Not to mention the fact that Maeve’s husband is trying to finagle the family business out from under all of them. Secrets that have been kept for decades are exposed, and Flynn has to absorb the shock. 
    I couldn’t wait to get to the end of this book. I kept reading and reading to find out what happened next. Of course when I reached the end, I hoped for more. Harryman did a great job bringing her characters to life. I would love to see more from the O’Sheas. 

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About the Author


Maggie Harryman was born in New Jersey and moved to San Francisco soon after college. She received an MA in Creative Writing from San Francisco State University and spent the ensuing years working as a copywriter in various industries including healthcare, tech and real estate/finance.
Maggie lives in Northern California in the heart of wine country, has two wonderful children in college and an old, faithful dog named, Humphrey.
Here Among Us is her debut novel. She also has two short stories on Amazon; Jesus, Mary and Joseph Michael Duffy Has Arisen and Cleaning Naked.

You can purchase Here Among Us for $7.99 on Amazon


Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Homemade Halloween


Halloween is one of my favorite holidays. I always loved dressing up and going trick or treating when I was a kid. Now I love watching my kids do the same thing. I haven’t dressed up in quite a while, but I think there might be some family costumes in our future. I just love seeing whole families participate in the festivities of the holiday! 

I like seeing creative costumes, especially homemade ones! 

I had some great friends share their homemade costumes with me, so I could share them with you!

This is my great friend KellyAnn, her husband Scott, and their kiddos!
She got the fabric for her daughter’s Dorothy costume from Wal-Mart.
Her husband’s costume is a sweatsuit purchased from Wal-Mart as well.
They bought a funnel, spray painted it silver, and added the heart on his chest
to complete the tin-man ensemble!
KellyAnn had all of the components of her costume on hand already, and
her son’s courageous lion costume was store-bought.


This is my sister-in-law, Elizabeth. She was Twitter for Halloween
last year! I thought it was a very clever costume. She found the
dress at a local clothing store, added a matching feather boa around the
bottom hem, and stuck some feathers in her hair.
She wore the dry erase board around her neck with her
twitter handle on it so people could ‘tweet’. 


These are our friends Steve, Debbie, and their children.
Debbie did an amazing job creating these costumes for her family this year.
She didn’t tell me the details about how she made them.
(Maybe it’s a lego ninja secret).
I would imagine there were lots of cardboard boxes, duct tape,
and paint involved!


I love hearing from my readers! 

Did you make your costume this year? Share it on my Facebook page! 







Monday, October 29, 2012

Weekend Wrap-Up

We had quite an eventful weekend!
It was packed full of fun Halloween activities.

We started with carving pumpkins. Big A did a great job, but she had a hard time getting the carving knife all the way through the pumpkin. I had to help her shape things up a little bit in the end, but the end result was not bad for an 8-year-old.
D carved the top pumpkin.
Big A carved the bottom pumpkin. 

Of course, you can’t carve pumpkins without roasting the seeds afterward!


We visited our church for the annual Trunk or Treat. My brother-in-law, his wife, and the kiddos joined us there for some fun!

Big A, Middle A & Little A with their cousins. 

Last year, our neighborhood held Trick or Treating on the Saturday before Halloween. We didn’t participate because we had other activities going on. Evidently it was decided that the turnout for weekend trick or treating was better than on Halloween, so they held it on the weekend again this year. We took the kids  around the neighborhood to score some more candy.

Middle A, Big A, and her bestie warmed up with hot chocolate! 

Also, over the weekend I came to the realization that my baby is about to turn a year old in just 2 weeks! She was such a big girl, going right up to people and holding up her bucket. When they would put candy in her hand, she would drop it right into her bucket. It was so cute, but it makes me sad to think that a whole year has passed already. 

ROOOOAAAARRR!!!!

I’m going to feature homemade Halloween costumes on Wednesday, so if you would like for me to include your homemade costumes, please email them to anorris21 [at] gmail [dot] com. I love hearing from my readers, and sharing crafty things they’ve done!



  
Thursday, October 25, 2012

Halloween Craft: Felt Magnets & Brooches


A guest post by Sage Adderley.

My family loves Halloween. We spend weeks talking about what costumes we will put together, we carve pumpkins, and love to make things to hang up around the house to set the spooky mood.

This year, we decided to make some easy felt crafts. They were definitely a kid-friendly activity. We actually didn’t have to purchase any of the supplies, everything we used was already in our craft collection!

I found some magnets and pinbacks on clearance at our local craft store and finally put them to good use!


Supplies:
Squares of felt in various colors
Glue gun
Googly eyes in different sizes
Sharpie
Glitter pens
Scissors

Directions
We simply cut Halloween-themed shapes like pumpkins, witch’s hat, a witch on a broomstick, a bat, and spider from the felt squares. We drew the outlines on the felt with a sharpie, but you can use stencils if you’d like.

There are no rules when it comes to this craft! Have fun and let the kids use their imagination. We glued one large eye on the bat to make a Cyclops bat and found a stick outside to use as the broomstick for the witch.

After you decorate the felt image, allow it to dry thoroughly and then flip it over to glue either a magnet or pinback. Let it dry again and you are all done.

TIP: There are many free stencils online that you can download and print. Just search free Halloween stencils and see what you come up with.

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I met Sage six years ago. We have gotten to know each other over the last several years, and I'm lucky to be able to call her one of my best friends. She is a major inspiration to me, creatively and otherwise. She runs Sweet Candy Distro, and has a blog of her own called, 'my name is: Sage'.  She's a freelance writer and has an Etsy shop, which is also called, 'my name is: Sage'.  She recently started Sage’s Blog Tours, a tour of book reviews and promotions among numerous blogs, which I am honored to participate in.
Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Wordless Wednesday


Monday, October 22, 2012

Saving Time & Money with Meal Planning

It seems as if I’m on a perpetual mission for organization in my house. I am always looking for efficient ways to simplify the inner workings of our household. For instance, I assign certain loads of laundry to certain days. Also, Big A cleans her room every single Monday. She knows when she gets home from school that after her homework is finished, it’s time to clean her room. This way we avoid arguing and whining and fussing because it’s not a surprise. One of the more recent things that I’ve done is created a Family Organization Notebook.
Please, don’t mind the big black square.
Our last name is under there.

...and evidently I’m just a regular Dr. Seuss.


This notebook is home to emergency phone numbers, babysitter information sheets, school calendars, monthly cleaning checklists, weekly cleaning checklists, monthly calendars for the entire year ahead, birthday lists, and my six-week rotating menu. YES! I said SIX-WEEK menu. This particular gem has been a lifesaver for me!

I was getting tired of buying and cooking the same meals over and over every two weeks. I wanted to add some variety, so I hopped over to Pinterest and looked at my Recipe board. I had pinned lots of recipes that we had yet to try, so I added a few to my new list. I compiled a list of about 30-35 meals, and put them in groups of fourteen. It took me about an hour to do this, as I didn’t want to have 3 Italian meals all grouped together, or tacos and fajitas in the same week, etc... I also tried to spread out the meals that tend to be more expensive so I could spread out the cost instead of having a really expensive menu one week, and a cheaper one the next.

After my meals were assigned to one of my three menus (remember, I shop for 2 weeks at a time), I created a list of items that I purchase on EVERY trip to the grocery store. For us, that’s things like flour, sugar, yeast, toilet paper, cereal, etc...

Then, I went back to the menus I had created and went through meal by meal to create a list. Every single ingredient for every meal was written down. I put tally marks next to the items I needed more than one of. When my rough draft is finished, I go to Microsoft Word and type up a list, complete with check boxes and blank spaces to add other items. Usually I have my grocery lists in order according to where things are located in the store, but my local Kroger has recently undergone some changes and now I’m lost when I go in there, so I’m re-learning the location of everything.

I don’t plan breakfast and lunch in detail like I do dinner. I usually just buy the same things for breakfast. We eat cereal, oatmeal, toast, eggs, or pancakes. For lunch it’s just me, Middle A & Little A at home, so we just eat leftovers, or make grilled cheese or PB&J’s. I keep it pretty simple. My shopping list covers anything I need for that. I normally only have to  go back to the store for milk after my initial shopping trip.

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So you can get a better idea of what I’m doing, here are the meals I planned for menu rotation 3:


Spaghetti, Salad, Applesauce

Pulled Pork BBQ, Baked Beans, Corn on the Cob

Italian Chicken, Mashed Potatoes, Green Beans, Cooked Carrots

French Toast, Eggs, Sausage

Potato Soup

Pizza x2 (We make homemade pizza every friday night.)

Chicken & Dumplings (crock pot recipe)

Seasoned Chicken, Potatoes, Broccoli & Cheese, Coooked Carrots

Ziti, Salad, Applesauce

Scalloped Potatoes & Ham

Savory Pepper Steak & Rice (Crock pot recipe from my Recipes Board on Pinterest).

Meat Loaf, Potatoes, Green Beans, Corn on the Cob

Beef Tacos (there are no tortillas on the shopping list because I make them homemade,  also found on my Recipes Board on Pinterest)


Here’s a screenshot of my third grocery list:

Feel free to follow the link below to view or print it.

I wanted to share this little gem with you guys because people are always asking me how I feed our family of 5 for under $500 a month. This is how. Planning. Each of my lists costs me between $150-$200 at Kroger. Even less when there’s a good sale. 

I would be more than happy to share the rest of my menus and shopping lists if you like. Let me know in the comments below if you’re interested.

I would also love to hear how you save money on your grocery bill, as well as your favorite recipes! 

Happy Menu Planning!







Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Book Review: The Chupacabra


The Chupacabra
by Stephen Randel

Length: 322 pages
Publisher: Knuckleball Press (August 19, 2012)
ISBN-10: 0988222507
ISBN-13: 978-0988222502


Synopsis

He is called El Barquero. He makes his trade along the border, smuggling guns and killing without remorse. As he faces his one last mission, his perfect plan is unwittingly foiled by Avery, a paranoid loner obsessed with global conspiracy theories who spends most of his time crafting absurd and threatening letters to anyone who offends him. That means pretty much everyone. 
What unfolds is a laugh out loud dark comedy of madcap adventure stretching from Austin to the West Texas border, featuring a lunatic band of civilian border militia, a group of bingo-crazed elderly ladies (one packing a pistol nearly as long as her arm), a murderous and double crossing cartel boss, a burned-out hippy, and a crotchety retired doctor and his pugnacious French bulldog. Read it to believe it. 

My Review

Randel does a great job of creating each character in his book. By the end, you might not fully understand each one-since they’re all quirky in their own special way-but you sure will know them. From the strange and paranoid Avery, who is sure there is some kind of conspiracy theory behind everything that happens, to the dark and menacing El Barquero, who murders without a second thought, leaving bodies in his wake--each character has a vivid persona as well as an integral part in this story. 
It was amusing to read the events as they took place, from each character’s point of view--even the dog’s. The STRAC-BOM boys, Avery, and the hilarious group of elderly women keep the comedy going, while El Barquero fueled the serious side as he deals with drug cartels and the border patrol.  It’s the perfect mixture of dark drama and unpredictable comedy. 

About the Author

Stephen Randel, CFA, was born in Houston, Texas. He is a graduate of Texas Christian University. Steve now lives in Minneapolis, Minnesota with his wife and their two rescue dogs. 

For more information, visit his website

You can purchase The Chupacabra in paperback ($17.99) or ebook edition ($7.99) on Amazon. 





Thursday, October 11, 2012

Wired by Angela Jewelry Giveaway!


I am so excited to introduce you to Angela! 

She has just launched her own small business, and I want to support her in her endeavors. 

She is a very talented wire jewelry designer, so I’m spreading the word about her products!
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She’s agreed to give away this great ring & earring set here on my blog!
This is a $30 value!





Of course, if you would rather just purchase a set, you can visit her on Facebook and place an order. She charges just $3 shipping per order, and you can pay via Paypal.

It’s absolutely free to enter the giveaway. The prize includes one pair of earrings and one ring. There will be one winner, who will be chosen October 20th.

Just enter using the Rafflecopter widget below!

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Book Review: Angel by Laura Lee



Angel
by Laura Lee
________________________

Since the loss of his lively, charming wife to cancer six years ago, minister Paul Tobit has been operating on autopilot, performing his church duties by rote. Everything changes the day he enters the church lobby and encounters a radiant, luminous being lit from behind, breathtakingly beautiful and glowing with life. An angel. For a moment Paul is so taken by his vision that he is tempted to fall on his knees and pray.
 
Even after he regains his focus and realizes that he has only seen a flesh-and-blood young man, Paul cannot shake his sense of awe and wonder. He feels an instant and overwhelming attraction to the young man, which puzzles him even as it fills his thoughts and fires his feelings. Paul has no doubt that God has spoken to him through the vision and he must figure out what God is asking him to do.
 
Thus begins a journey that will inspire Paul's ministry, but will put him at odds with the church he loves as he is forced to examine his deeply held beliefs about himself, his community and the nature of love.

___________________




Length: 200 pages
Publisher: Itineris Press (September 27, 2011)
ISBN-10: 161372103X
ISBN-13: 978-1613721032
_______________________________

My Review: While I have read stories, and even heard of real-life instances of a man or woman being married to someone of the opposite sex, and then falling in love with someone of the same sex, Lee takes it one step farther and involves a Christian minister. This book is very thought-provoking. As a Christian myself, I am a firm believer of spreading God’s love. I believe that we should love others, even when we don’t believe in the same things they do. That being said, I have had great and wonderful friends who are gay. However, they were not members of my church family, and the two lines never crossed. Lee challenges that when she introduces Ian and Paul. Paul, a minister, sees Ian as an angelic figure at first sight. He finds himself oddly attracted to Ian, but tries to justify the feelings--denying that he is attracted to the man, only to the angelic image he thought he saw. Over time, their relationship evolves into more than just friendship. Of course, as the reader, since you have seen this love story unfold you want Paul & Ian to--cliché as it is--live happily ever after. This is where the conflict with Christianity comes in. It had me asking myself many questions about religion and delving deeper into my beliefs. This is a very interesting book, written from a viewpoint I have never thought of. It is definitely a page-turner, as I just had to know what was going to happen next.
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About the Author
Metro Detroit native Laura Lee divides her time equally between writing and producing ballet educational tours with her partner, the artistic director of the Russian National Ballet Foundation. She is the author of more than a dozen non-fiction books with such publishers as Harper Collins, Reader's Digest, Running Press, Broadway Books, Lyons Press and Black Dog and Leventhal. Her Pocket Encyclopedia of Aggravation has sold more than 85,000 copies. She has also written one collection of poetry (Invited to Sound), and a children's book (A Child's Introduction to Ballet). She brings to her writing a unique background as a radio announcer, improvisational comic and one-time professional mime.
For more information, you can visit her website
You can purchase her novel in paperback for $14.99 here
You can also purchase the e-book edition for Kindle for $6.99 here






Saturday, September 29, 2012



A Stop in the Park
by Peggy Strack

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Touching, romantic, and deeply provocative, A Stop in the Park, follows the story of a man and a woman who yearn to escape the trap of the modern American dream.
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Length: 372 pages
Publisher: Create Space Independent Publishing Platform (July 31, 2012)
ISBN-10: 1475150997
ISBN-13: 978-1475150995

        

Synopsis: Michael Stolis, a DC attorney, is frustrated by twelve hour work days, tightly scheduled weekends and his family's chaotic habits. He explodes over minor irritations like being stuck in traffic, and his tantrums need to stop. His disillusioned wife, Jamie, is sick of his anger outbursts, and wants him out of her life. Michael longs to reignite the passionate love they once felt for each other. Jamie prefers to spend her time fostering illicit Internet relationships. Michael had simply followed his Greek father's instructions for a successful life, but something went terribly wrong. A lucrative career, a Georgetown brownstone and a BMW coupe didn't deliver happiness as promised.

When his family is about to implode, Michael finds hope through Rufus, an astute retired bus driver he meets over a game of blitz chess in Dupont Circle. Michael is intrigued by Rufus's prescription for fulfillment, but is it too late to change a life, chase a dream, revive a marriage? Michael must decide how much he is prepared to lose if he embarks on a quest so very different from the world he created. Touching, romantic, and deeply provocative, A Stop in the Park, follows the story of a man and a woman who yearn to escape the trap of the modern American dream.
______________________
Excerpt

In this scene a confused Jamie Stolis contemplates whether she should flee from her volatile yet secure marriage:

Jamie traipsed into the kitchen and poured coffee into a blue stoneware mug that she bought at a pottery shop when she and Michael went hiking in Wyoming. She circled the rim with her finger. They took that trip eight years ago. She couldn’t help but smile as she recalled how Michael imitated an agitated bison they had seen in Yellowstone Park. Thank God they were in the car, because the open mockery could have provoked the beast to charge if they were with it on the prairie. She furrowed her eyebrows. What had happened to her husband’s silly side?
            Jamie sipped her coffee and swayed. The air felt light. She picked up the salt shaker and sprinkled tiny white crystals onto the counter. No one screamed, “Why’d you do that?” She could leave the salt there for three days, and no one would care. Jamie smiled and spun around. This must be how a duck feels when a snapping turtle leaves the pond. She sat on a stool at the island and clasped the oversized mug. The warmth from the coffee seeped into her palms, and she focused on the calm.
            When her mini-meditation was over, she glanced at the kitchen doorway. A madman wouldn’t be bursting in blaming her for some felony, like the girls leaving their yogurt containers on the coffee table. She sat a while longer trying to figure out what she could do. Stumped, she roamed to the refrigerator and perused her list.
“First things first: that hornets’ nest has to go.” She peered out the kitchen window. At least twenty hornets buzzed around the nest attached to the outside casing. How should she handle this dangerous project? She glanced at the can of insect killer sitting on the counter. The safest thing to do was to open the window and screen, spray, and then close them quickly before the disturbed insects attacked.
            “Okay, my little pests, I hate to ruin your morning, but you are about to be history.” She held the can in one hand, raised the window then the screen, and blasted the poison at her target. There was a flurry of insect activity, and Jamie swiftly sealed her house back up for safety. When she looked up, she saw dozens of hornets emerging from the nest to join those already outside. She couldn’t figure out how they could all fit in their dwelling, which was the size of an apple. Some of the hornets sensed the venom and fled. Others circled around the nest as if considering their next move. They sensed the toxic substance but weren’t quite ready to leave home. Then there were those that darted back and forth in a straight line, knowing they should depart but unsure of where to go. A few of the circlers and darters flew away, determining that uncertainty was better than death. The hornets that remained were lifers, and that life was about to be terminated.
            “Go on, little hornets,” Jamie said. “You’ll find a new and better home. Just go.”
             But they stayed.
            “The poison will kill you. Go on.”
            The hornets did not respond to her warning. Jamie watched them fall to their death into the alley that separated her home from her neighbor’s.
            “What a show,” she whispered.
            She contemplated the creature feature she just witnessed. Why did some hornets flee the instant they suspected danger? Why did some cling until it was almost too late? Why did some hang on until annihilation was inevitable?
            “Hmm, if I behaved like a hornet and was aware that I lived in a house that had been sprayed with malice, cruelty, and arrogance, what would I do?”
            Jamie roamed around the kitchen with her arms folded. She stopped at the window and peered down at the cowardly hornets who had chosen death over adventure.
            “You are a darter, Jamie,” she murmured. “You were about to be poisoned, but you had the courage to fly away. The question is, will you return?”
            She thought about money. She thought about Megan and Emily having to travel between houses. She thought about working full time while trying to take care of a home and children. Then she thought about spending another forty or fifty years with Michael.
            “God, life is hell.”
            She put her face in her hands and tried to will away the confusion.
            Her stomach started to ache. She picked up the phone to call Matilda. They could have lunch and joke around. Matilda would be so jealous of Jamie’s possibly single status. She might even persuade Jamie to go away some Saturday night for a wild girl’s night out to celebrate. Jamie punched in three numbers then stopped. If she told Matilda, all of their friends would know before nightfall. In fact, everyone in DC would know. Kids might ask Meg and Emily about the split, and she couldn’t have that. This was a private matter.
            She rubbed her belly, hoping the pain would dissipate. It didn’t work. She traipsed to her computer and signed in to Facebook. There was a message from Steve. “What’s up?”
            That was it. She could tell him about her troubles. Steve didn’t know any of her friends. It was safe, and venting would make her feel better. Maybe he’d even offer some good advice. In fact, now that she was separated from Michael, she might just meet Steve for that cup of coffee on Friday. It would be nice to meet a new friend.
 ____________________

About Peggy Strack


Peggy Strack writes popular fiction about challenges people face in the fast-paced and daunting contemporary world. She is excited to launch her debut novel, A Stop in the Park, the story of Michael and Jaime Stolis, a disillusioned married couple who yearn to escape the trap of the modern American dream. Peggy hosts the award winning blog, "Kick Back Moments," for the Saratogian Newspaper. She studied fiction at Skidmore College, The New York State Writers Institute and East Line Books and Literary Center. She is a speech-language pathologist living in Saratoga Springs, NY with her husband, Keith. Peggy has two adults sons enjoys an active lifestyle that includes hiking, kayaking, and skiing.
To learn more about Peggy Struck, visit her website, read her blog, or you can contact her via email.

You can purchase A Stop in the Park on Amazon in paperback for $13.28.
or
Through October 20th, you can purchase the e-book edition for Kindle for only 99¢ (normally $2.99).
 



       
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