Happy Birthday, Tess!

We sang Happy Birthday...

And blew out the candles...

Tessa had a blast.

Dalton took time out for a phone call -- are we surprised? -- but beat us all at bowling with several strikes and spares. The guy is GOOD! JT did the same last year. He had to work today, though.

Cassidy joined us for bowling between camp and her performance.

Tessa struts her stuff.

Hmmm, how DOES the ball get from there to here?

Jetty got to wear snazzy shoes...which he didn't want to give back when we were finished.

Jett loved having his own 6 lb. bowling ball.

Cassidy spent the week at Music Camp, and had a performance tonight. She's in the back row, second from the right. We told Tessa the performance was in honor of her birthday.

Jett had a great time on Tessa's birthday! He's tired and ready to rest.

We ate lunch at a local mexican restaurant, and went swimming at the East Pass, at Tessa's request. Troy, Jetty, Tessa and I. The pass connects the bay and Gulf of Mexico. It's beautiful.

Jett's favorite..a firetruck!

And he sat in a Bobcat! And a streetcar, an ambulance, a cement truck...the list goes on and on!

He wore a sheriff's vest and sat in their boat.

He held big guns...

Big Truck Day

We took Jett to Big Truck Day. He sat in military trucks...

Happy Birthday Tessa!

We had a great day celebrating Tessa's birthday.


Heat and hearing voices

I've realized I have to jot something down today or that creature that greets me each time I sign on is going to drive me nuts!

We just got back from a drive, and I'm melting. It's occurred to me that though we have air-conditioning in the truck and van, we rarely use it. WHY? I have no clue. Possibly because by the time the air kicks in, we're so drenched with sweat that we have the potential to catch pneumonia when the vehicles do cool down. But they never cool down because our town is only a few miles long so by the time we reach our destination, we're still sweltering. At least with the windows down we have a breeze.

I'm off to do my chapter for the day. I've neglected it for a good week again, and need to get it finished. My goal was to have it done by the end of July, so I have to get cracking. The actual deadline is December 1, but it's hurricane season and you never know what's lurking around the corner. I'd rather have it out of the way.

Troy was laughing at me yesterday because I'd complained that I have this nice outline for my story, but the characters keep wanting to take it different directions and they refuse to cooperate with where I'm trying to take them. So I'm balking at working with them lately. With this publishing house, I have to stay on track with my detailed outline they request up front in the proposal. It's draining. Sort of like constantly battling wills with your children. Troy sees it more like something schizophrenic. Very funny. He just doesn't understand. Actually he does...he said he's glad it's called being an author now when it used to be called mental illness. Again, very funny.

Well, I'm off to whip the characters in line. Maybe. If they'll cooperate today.

Stay cool!


Puss Caterpillar

Sure, it LOOKS cute and cuddly...and it does rather resemble a venus flytrap, don'tcha think?


More procrastination? Yep! But I do have to write a chapter or two today. I only need about four more good writing days to finish this manucript, and I'm ready to be done and start the other rewrites. JT moves home today, so I need to get on it before he arrives and chaos begins. But first! I'll write about our local wildlife, and I'm not talking big like our nightly visiting raccoon or the 'gators that live in the lake across the backyard.

We seem to have been invaded by creepy-crawlies the past week! INSIDE the house, we’ve had two scorpions, four palmetto bugs, and a – I must say this one was cute! – tiny baby lizard.

The first scorpion was in the bathroom. Cassidy called out that there was a tarantula in there, so the scorpion was an improvement over that in my opinion. She just knew it was creepy looking. I figured it came in on an older gate we put up for the kittens so they’d not get out of the front hall – which they clambered right over anyway! – even though we’d scrubbed and cleaned the gate before bringing it inside.

With JT moving home, we needed to clean out the family room so we’d have a place to stage his stuff. We found a palmetto bug and the other scorpion in there. I MIGHT have vacuumed it up, but we aren’t sure. At least we were finished with the cleaning by then, and on the last stages. The girls and I didn’t much feel like hanging out in there much longer. We’d already had a run in with two palmettos. Ewww. They don’t really do anything, but they can sure creep you out when they jump out at you from a box.

THEN Tessa saw a palmetto bug go in our bedroom closet, and they found another in the hall bathroom. (I think it’s the same one, it went into the plumbing to the bathroom from my closet.) I’m reassuring myself with that thought anyway, and not ever getting anything out of the closet again to be sure! This does leave me in a predicament as far as clothing goes. Hmmm. Troy can pick out our clothes from now on.

I hate pesticides, but sometimes in Florida you have to make a choice. I guess we need to spray inside, cause a few carefully chosen chemicals vs. my children getting bitten by a venomous creature, make the choice pretty clear to me.

Saturday we found a large brown widow in the mailbox! Just a few months ago I’d read an article about how spiders loved mailboxes, and made note to be more careful when sticking my hand blindly in there. Tessa told us last week there was a big spider in there, but I thought Troy had taken care of it. NOT. I went out to look at it was right at the opening. We killed it, but now there are egg sacs that need to be taken care of or we’ll have lots more brown widows around.

I’ve seen the widows out back, but not out front. Sigh. It seems the only thing we haven’t seen is snakes. The pygmy rattlers come out in August, but we’ve not had any for a couple years. Other snakes yearly, but not rattlers.

And one other creepy-crawly run in…Tessa was at camp last week and was stung by a creature “that looked like a venus flytrap”. It had dropped off the table onto her lap – some of the counselors saw it but didn’t think it worth mentioning to her? – and when she put her arms on her legs, she smashed it against her arm. Another little boy buried it in the sand so they couldn’t bring it in with them to the medical personnel.

Tessa was checked out by the resident paramedic and nurse, but neither had a clue what stung her. It bothered me that no one researched what stung her because she has a high pain tolerance, and was in tears over this thing. She even missed out on horseback riding! I only knew about the sting because Cassidy told me when calling one night, which they aren’t really supposed to do, but her counselor let her call that once. They did check Tessa's records for a history of allergic reactions and they gave her some Benedryl.

When Tessa got home, I looked at the spot. It was leaf shaped with little holes all over it. I got on the net, looked up Florida stinging creatures, went through spiders, flying insects, and within five minutes found it under the last category, caterpillars. I called the girls in separately and both identified it out of a page full of pictures. It’s called a “Puss caterpillar.”

I looked it up on WebMD, “The puss caterpillar, or woolly slug, is the most poisonous caterpillar in the United States. Its poison is hidden in hollow spines among its hairs. This hairy caterpillar is found in the southern states, ranging west through most of Texas and north to Maryland and Missouri. It feeds on shade trees such as elm, oak, and sycamore. Puss caterpillars vary in size from 1.2 in.(32 mm) to 1.4 in.(36 mm).”

It was shaped like a leaf, and exactly the size of her sting. The little holes were from the stinging spines. The articles all say to rub the area with tape to remove the stingers. Fortunately, her counselor rubbed on some type of calamine type stuff, which must have worked them out.

It’s been known to send grown men to the emergency room in pain. I can’t believe they didn’t check it out! I thank God she didn’t have any worse reaction. I’ll post a picture for your viewing pleasure. I HATE creepy-crawlies! Only living in paradise makes me tolerate these creatures…



I know, TWO posts in one day! I think I'm getting the hang of this blogging thing, and will post more regularly. Yeah, I know, I said that last time, but I really mean it this time.

I added a page about my books on the sidebar. I'll add an "about me" page, too, as soon as I figure out what to write. I hate bios and that type of thing.

We usually go to the beach on Friday mornings, but got out of the habit after all the hurricanes last year. Mainly because most of our beaches were washed away or closed. Anyway, the girls asked to go again today, so we did! It seems each time we've walked over to the beach or met our Fun in the Son playgroup, the waves have been huge. Seaweed has also been bad the past month or so.

But today was awesome! The water was clear and minty green. It was calm, so Jetty could walk out without being bowled over. There were schools of minnows everywhere! And little fish about 5 inches long that nibbled on our toes. Jett wasn't too sure he liked that. But we swam and played and had a great time.

Jetty has learned to swim lately, and at three can now swim underwater, dog paddle and float on his back. He learned today that salt water wasn't quite the same as swimming in our pool. He preferred to stay up in our arms as the waves built and battered him around, but he enjoyed them, too.

We came home and jumped in the pool. Ahhh. I love my beach, but it's nice to have the crystal clear, smooth water of a pool after the salt and sea.

Troy's glowing like a lobster, but the rest of us used sunscreen and feel fine.


Editing used to be my most detested part of writing, but it's a necessary evil. With my first book, I dared anyone to touch one of my precious words. When I sent in the second manuscript, my editor gently suggested I find a crit partner to help catch things like Point of View changes, typos, etc. I exchanged critiques for years, and I grew and learned a lot by both having my work looked at and challenged, but also by looking at other authors' work and catching their mistakes.

Now I exchange chapters with an author friend -- Hey, Rhonda! -- and after she looks over things, I send to two different readers to make sure the story flows.

Yesterday my agent IM'd me about my latest story, and suggested I add some more depth to the manuscript at the beginning. NOT what I wanted to hear! This story has come so close to hitting the trash so many times, I can't believe I need to work on it again! Argh!

When I first started it, I printed off each chapter as I wrote. One day I signed on to write and the manuscript had disappeared from the computer. I had backed it up on two different floppy discs (yeah, this was a while back!) and both were blank! I cried and ranted and raved. Then I sat down and typed it all back in from my hard copies. NOT fun. This happened a second time a bit later, but only a few chapters disappeared. I began to hate this story.

Then I finally sent it in to my editor, and she asked for some changes. We moved to Florida during that time, and then from an apartment to our house. I did the changes, and found out my editor had switched to women's fiction and no longer did the line I'd written it for. I shelved it again.

Now, this spring, I dug it out, dusted it off, did extensive rewrites, added 30,000 words, and sent it to my agent. The story won't let me go. I wrote the first drafts in anger over abuse I'd seen against innocent little children. It's a hard subject for me. I later pulled away from the anger, and the story grew stronger. I tried to redeem the villain, but she couldn't/wouldn't be redeemed. Well, now I've made peace with her and she will be redeemed in the end. Maybe this is the place I had to get to before the story could work. It's a known fact that abusers most often have been abused themselves. Something awful made them the way they are. In Laurel's case, I had to find out what that cause was, and now I need to weave her pain into the story, and the characters will do their best to help her overcome.

So here I am with yet more rewrites needed. This story has been my biggest and greatest learning process in writing, and I guess I'm not finished yet!

By the time these changes are made, the story will no longer be at all the story it started out to be. Funny how God works, huh?

But it will be better, and I look forward to seeing how it all works out. My prologue has to become part of chapter one. What I'd envisioned adding to chapter one, has to now become the prologue. My mind worked all night honing the details, and as soon as Jettsters goes for his nap, I'll begin.

Until next time...


Where does the time go?

Has it really been that long since I've posted? We've had a whirlwind summer. We ran up to Missouri in June to "meet" my new nephew. The kids have been coming and going to various camps. JT's moving home in a couple of weeks.

As for my writing, I've acquired an agent and sold another book. I've been busy working on that. I'd planned to start a new book, but this one took me by surprise. I'll wrap it up in another week or two, and will then have a bit of time left before homeschooling starts to focus on the "fun" project. Maybe a suspense? Or maybe a women's fiction. I'm torn. We'll see what comes up.

We had a beautiful, balmy Fourth of July. I hope you all had a great time, too! We sat on the beach and watched the fireworks over the Gulf of Mexico and the bay. It was a huge show and went on for over thirty minutes. Jetty, of course, got bored at the end and started running back and forth to the seawall, along with the other little boys. It was fun to watch, too. All these little shadows of three-year-olds backlit by the huge display of color going off in the background.

Jett's learning to swim like a fish. His latest accomplishment is to jump off the side of the pool or to do a belly flop. He'll stand at the edge and just fall forward. He's a nut! I'll try to get pictures to post.

Dalton's at camp this week, and the girls go next week. It will be quiet!