Birthday, Birds and Basketball

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Here it comes, the October super post. Oops. Guess it’s November. See how that happens. Anyway, grab an iced tea and sit back.


Grace celebrated her NINTH birthday in October. We have had some giganitic birthdays and some small birthdays. Last year we had the first ever haunted trail for her birthday/Halloween party with more than thirty kids plus parents. This year we took it down a notch and had a sleepover. Fear not kidlets, next year the Haunted Trail is back on the agenda and it’s going to be SCARY! Some of the kids complained because it was not scary.

Trust me. We can DO scary. Just. You. Wait.

Sorry, Marah, you may have to go through in daylight.

Not to say there weren’t a few scary moments during the birthday party. Like the lead photo above. Or this…

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Somebody LOVES him some sleepovers. Bryon always wants to sneak outside Grace’s bedroom window, stick this face against the glass and scare the crap out of them but I won’t let him. Maybe when they are teenagers. Or have already watched Salem’s Lot which is the very reason I can’t sleep with the blinds open.

As a former teacher, I know that free time is your enemy with a room or a houseful of kids, so I planned some activities.

I bought shirts for them all and they decorated them with Sharpies. This is a cool activity Grace learned at summer camp and we’ve used it several times since.

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They had some very creative results!

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I also bought little pumpkins and they each carved one.

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It was messy but they had fun. Grace’s molded in two days.

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Gotta love a vampire pumpkin.

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Of course they stayed up ridiculously late. They also slept upstairs in the playroom for the first time. Did I mention the playroom is DIRECTLY over our bedroom? Yeah, we heard every thump, bump and giggle. Which were many.

Nine is a pretty good age.

Grace got this chair and a few other things. IMG_4486 (768x1024)


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My hens are old and lazy. I’ve been getting one egg a day until recently. Now I get NO eggs a day. In August we tried incubating some eggs and ONE hatched out. You can read that post and see the chick’s birth here.

Then I bought it some friends. That post is here.

A few weeks ago, Bryon and Grace gathered up the new chicks for me and tossed them in with the old to get acquainted. They still aren’t exactly friends, but we haven’t lost any of them. I left them cooped up together for the first three days. The first night after it got dark, I went to count and make sure they were all back in the coop together.

Yep, twelve chickens. Just like I had hoped.

I shut the coop door and said goodnight.

About an hour later, Bryon hollered from the bathroom that I had a chicken squawking outside the window.

Erm, not I didn’t. I cooped them all up.

I went outside to investigate. Nothing. No squawking. No chicken.

I went back to the coop and counted again. Yep, twelve chickens, just like I… wait a minute. Where’s the little Buff Orphington? The one chick we HATCHED? Not there.

I have thirteen chickens.

We all three looked with flashlights for the little buff but no luck. I hoped it had roosted in a tree somewhere and would make it through the night, because there was nothing else to do. I wasn’t going to leave the coop door open for it and leave all of the rest of them in danger.

The next morning, the buff was trying to get into the old coop and was very happy to join it’s friends.

They’ve all made it back into the coop every night since.

I guess we both learned a lesson that night.


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Grace has become quite the little basketball player. A couple of the Niangua dads have been coaching them now for two years and their little team has really improved.

They even have REAL uniforms now which makes them much more intimidating than they really are.

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We told Grace we’d pay her a buck a basket. This last session of six week ball we paid out a total of five bucks. I know it will get more and more expensive but it seems to be a good motivator. I was never very good at sports. I’m glad she is and is interested. The good thing about playing sports in a small-town school is if you are on the team you WILL get to play. Every game.

We have a break until January (a short basketball camp in a couple of weeks) then it’s back at it.


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For Halloween this year we went on a Haunted Float with our friends Lynsey & Brayden. It was the first year for the canoe rental place to host the float so it had a bit to be desired. The Type A part of me had an entire list of suggested improvements for them but I resisted. Not. My. Baby.

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I had to repeat that to myself a few times.

On actual Halloween we all three dressed up and hit the good churches and neighborhoods. I made an unfortunate shoe choice so I waited in the car most of the night until it was time to go eat Chinese food.

Still, I looked good. We all did.

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IMG_4415 (1024x1024)Grace and I participated in the Niangua Red Run. I walked. Still I totally beat Grace and the chick with the stroller so WIN! Bryon had to work or he would have been there too. The run was a fundraiser for playground equipment. One boy in Grace’s class one the whole thing! He’s smokin’ fast!

We are NOT smokin’ fast. Or at least I am not smokin’ fast.

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This may be why.


Rivers, Relatives & Guinea Pigs

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May has been another super busy month. I think’s its becoming a trend. One busy month after another. Hmm.

So last weekend was my birthday. The big 45.

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I don’t really care about my age again until I hit 100. Then I sure as heck better get onto the Today Show’s Smuckers jar or heads are gonna roll.

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Grand Gulf State Park

Bryon wanted to take Grace and I out in his drift boat. You know…the one he made LAST YEAR. Yeah, we still hadn’t been in it. He’s had it down the river with Matt and Steve many times since. They even went out west for a week last summer and had it on the big water.

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Grand Gulf State Park

So to take our maiden voyage, Bryon chose the Eleven Point river just outside of Alton, MO and on the Arkansas line. We picked my birthday weekend, and he reserved this cute little cottage right in town for us to stay in.

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It was a beautiful weekend.

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We squeezed in a lot that weekend. Floated down the river, ate three meals in the local cafes, had a river lunch then traipsed off across the border to Mammoth Springs and ate right over the Spring river.

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We didn’t catch any fish, but Bryon stayed on another day, and he and Matt slayed the small mouth. Actually they caught and released the small mouth, but they caught nearly a hundred total. They also saw nine snakes. Five of them cotton mouths.

Not sad I missed that part.

Before we left, we had a visit from some Nebraska relatives, and they brought this guy along.

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He rarely stood still. His name is Chief. He’s a silver lab.

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And so adorable we wanted to just eat him up.

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Then he peed on my floor three times, and I remembered why I never want another puppy. Mostly.

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We hugged him and kissed him then sent Scooby with him on his continued travels. Oh, yeah, we visited with the family a bit as well. No cute photos of them however…we were a little preoccupied.

Finally, last week Bryon called and asked if he could bring home a guinea pig. Uh, okay.

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We did just lose one of the handicapped bunnies a couple of weeks ago. And by lose I mean it finally croaked. Grace was very upset. I found it dead when I arrived home from Kansas City and the RT Convention. You can read all the scandalous details of RTCON here at my author blog if you are so inclined CLICK HERE FOR MORE.

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I hadn’t been home ten minutes, and I was in the backyard digging a grave for a bunny. The other one is carrying on, but it’s days are numbered too. It’s not well. I feel bad for it, and we should just put it out of its misery…but…

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So, Bryon calls and one of his co-workers is moving to Texas with her two kids to live (all three of them) in their spare bedroom for a few months before the hubster deploys. They figured a guinea pig would put them all over the edge.

His name is Rex.

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As you can clearly see from the note Grace made…she loves him.

Somehow, I was the one cleaning out the cage today however.

A Leap of Faith – Post 1 of 31 Days of Blogging

Today was the second ORA (Ozarks Romance Authors) meeting I have gone to. It was fun. Last night I surpassed the 50,000 word milestone and decided I’d take my first ten pages to the ORA critique group. I printed out 10 copies stuffed them in to my folder and went back to work on my story.

As I read through those first ten pages again, I realized that nearly every paragraph started with “My” or “I”. Apparently that’s an inherent hazard of writing in first person. I had not done any revisions or rewriting yet, I just wanted to plow through and get the story out and onto paper so I could see that word count rise and validate all the time I was spending on it. I’m still 20,000 words short of a publishable length but it’s two thirds finished and I don’t have the ending written so I’m not worried yet.

I reworked those first ten pages and cleaned up the obvious and glaring mistakes and reprinted them, exchanged them for the first set and took my folder downstairs.

I still wasn’t sure I was actually going to let anyone read it yet. I wasn’t quite ready for the dream to be crushed.

This morning I got up and headed to ORA. One of the members, Beth Carter just had an adorable children’s book published and since she had a book signing across town the critique group was only three members today. I was still waffling as to whether or not to offer it up for sacrifice. I did.

You have to read your work aloud while the others read along and make notes and marks as you go, then at the end each person takes a turn critiquing your work … aloud … in front of God and everyone. I was a little scared. I read fast like I was trying to rip a Bandaid off a hairy arm so it would hurt less.

They did not eviscerate me or my first ten pages so hope still springs eternal. They gave me some good suggestions and wanted to know what happened next. That’s a good sign since none of them really dig paranormal romance.

Before I left, I gave a copy to two other members to read and critique and I know they are both pretty tough and thorough from hearing them at the last meeting but at least the debut wasn’t met with utter disgust so I suppose that’s something.

The dream is still alive.