Saturday, 31 May 2014

What I Learned in May

I'm joining Emily of Chatting at the Sky to share what I learned in the month of May.

1. I want a Mayday tree in my yard one day.  Oh, the heavenly fragrance!

2. Thirty-one years old isn't so bad.  I'm officially in my thirties now.  My birthday was ridiculously busy, due to piano lessons and soccer, but it followed a great long weekend, and was a great day anyway.

3. I have a grey hair.  I think.  I don't care.  My caramel-ish hair has so many colours in it already that one more doesn't make a difference.  I'll just call it "faded blonde".

4. I can make it to the end of a long contract without spending the last two weeks in panic mode.  To be perfectly honest, I did have several episodes of panic during the contract over the last three months, but by the long weekend I was all caught up, and even finished several days early.  Without cramming every evening.  I was still able to enjoy my life.  It was great!  My next contract period will be even better, I'm sure of it.  And it doesn't start 'til September.

5. I miss my blog when I don't post for three weeks!  I have so many half-formed post ideas, but the thought of sitting at the computer to pound them out was exhausting.  I had a bit of computer-fatigue, due to editing I guess.  I just didn't want to be at the computer any more than I had to.

6. Crochet.  My blanket is now 2/3 finished.  And since my contract is done, I can curl up with it spread over my knees while I watch a show (or a thunderstorm on the front porch) and crochet to my heart's content!

PS: I'm hosting a Steeped Tea party on June 13.  If you know me personally and want to come, let me know!  If you're in Canada and you're interested in buying some quality loose teas and cute accessories, you can order from my party here.

Wednesday, 7 May 2014

Book Review: Meant to be Mine, by Becky Wade

To be perfectly honest, when I first saw this title, I was sure I wouldn't like it.  I mean, Meant to Be Mine is a bit cheesy.  Then I saw the cover, and I was sure this book would be a roll-your-eyes read.  Other than the chestnut curls and peasant-type shirt, the cover conveys nothing about the feel of the book or the personalities of the characters.  I think there should be a pair of grey cowgirl boots somewhere on the cover.  Or if the boots would pigeonhole the story too much (since it is not a typical cowboy romance), then something more like my last don't-judge-a-book-by-its-cover review.  Maybe.  What do I know about cover design?  And I know I'm no good at picking good titles.  Just look at the super-creative title of this post!

To get to the story:
Ty Porter has always been irresistible to Celia Park. All through high school--irresistible. When their paths cross again after college--still irresistible. This time, though, Ty seems to feel exactly the same way about Celia. Their whirlwind romance deposits them at a street-corner Las Vegas wedding chapel.
The next morning they wake to a marriage certificate and a dose of cold reality. Celia's ready to be Ty's wife, but Ty's not ready to be her husband. He's a professional bull rider, he lives on the road, and he's long planned to settle down with the hometown girl he's known since childhood. 
Five and a half years pass. Celia's buried her dreams so that she can afford to raise her daughter. Ty's achieved all of his goals. Or thought he had, until he looks again into the eyes of the woman he couldn't forget and into the face of the child he never knew he had.
How much will Ty sacrifice to win back Celia's trust and prove to her that their spontaneous marriage can still become the love of a lifetime?
So what made me look past the cover and the title?  Well, you know, I love the rodeo!  And growing up fatherless myself, paired with an overactive imagination that has thought in detail about every single scenario involving an absent father and/or a single mother, made his unknown daughter pique my interest.

I knew the Vegas wedding thing would have to be good in order for the book to really work.  And it was.  Most sober people won't end up married to someone they hardly know in Vegas.  But Celia's case was unique: she had been in love with the man since high school.  The whole arrangement felt natural, which made their split even more heartbreaking.

The Characters

I loved how different the characters are.  Ty is no stereotypical cowboy.  And Celia's life as a single mom was painted so vividly!  I just wanted to hop into the book and be the friend she needed!  Both characters' motivations are real and human.  Their good qualities are nicely contrasted with believable bad qualities.  And their physical descriptions are reinforced so naturally that I can exactly picture what most of the characters look like.  Often the description is forced in so obviously that it interrupts the flow of the story, or there is not enough reinforcement so that I forget halfway through that the character has brown hair rather than blonde, or something like that.

And Addie!  Oh my word, she is so cute!  With teal glasses just like I had.  Since I have a four-almost-five-year-old myself, I can tell that she's written at the right developmental level for her age.  Some books will have a three-year-old saying things an eight-year-old would be more likely to say, which drives me crazy!  Addie is a lot like my daughter was at her age—serious, and imaginative, and really into princesses.

I have to note here that I am so glad that the author took the gender of the POV characters into account when describing colour.  To Celia, Addie's glases are teal.  But to Ty, they're just blue.  

A few of my favourite minor characters: Uncle Danny (I'm rooting for him to find his true love too!), Bo'n'Meg (they are kind of joined at the hip), and Tawny (she needs a story of her own).

The Plot

I felt the plot moved at a good pace.  Nothing felt unrealistically rushed  (well, except maybe for the 4-day dating period before the wedding!), and nothing lagged.  There was a lot of detail stuffed into this book, as it moved through several states, several houses, and a few other locations.  Each place is distinct and memorable.

Ty's reaction when he finds out he has a daughter was perfectly manly, yet emotional and heartbreaking.  In fact, it made me cry!  

The Romance

I love stories that involve someone having to win the love of his or her own spouse (The Vow, anyone?)  It's especially fun in Celia and Ty's case because she is so adamant that she will not fall in love with Ty again.  And I am so glad that inspirational fiction is allowing for the realistic portrayal of physical tension and desire these days.

The Baking

Mmm...I'm sure I exceeded my calorie limit just from reading about the delectable things Celia bakes throughout the book!  I want some coconut cream pie.

Book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc. 
Available at your favourite bookseller from Bethany House, a division of Baker Publishing Group.   

All opinions expressed are my own.

Saturday, 3 May 2014

What to do with a case of third-baby fever

Ever since my son, my youngest, turned two, I've slowly been realizing that yes, I do want more than two children.  I wasn't quite ready then, but over the two and a half years since then, I've moved from a tentative "yes" to a resounding, definite "Yes! Now, please!"  My upcoming 31st birthday probably has something to do with that progression.

My husband, on the other hand, is difficult to convince.  I have no idea if or when he will ever want another child.  If he doesn't, I will of course be perfectly happy with the two amazing kids we already have.  But right now I have this nagging feeling that our family isn't yet complete.  When he asks me why I want to have another kid, I can't really put it into words.  I can't think of one concrete reason to have a third child.  But then, did I have any concrete reasons to have a first child?  Did anyone?  It's not about reasons.  It's about love.

Now, I'm not actually in the throes of baby fever.  Ideally, I'd love it if I could start the parenting thing with a two-year-old.  Or even age three would be better!  I do not relish the idea of going back to diapers and bottles and/or breastfeeding.  Nor do I especially want to be pregnant again.  I was miserable last time.  But I want my kids to run as a pack. I want them to love each other, to rely on each other, and to be best friends.  All of them.

But since I'm only one half of that decision-making duo, I will have to wait until my husband comes around. (I'm hoping its sooner rather than later...I'm not getting any younger!)   Until then, here are my tips for assuaging the desire for another child.

  1. Hold your friends' babies.  This way you get your fill of the sweetness of a sleeping newborn without actually having to deal with the crying or sleepless nights or exploding diapers.  It's great.
  2. Get rid of all the 5+ year old baby gear and clothing you have stored away.  That car-seat is expired anyway.  I don't even have my maternity clothes any more.  That's ok, I didn't like most of them.  But for some reason, I still have a stash of bottles and receiving blankets.  I've got to clean out that closet!
  3. Recall the last time your daughter stomped her foot at you or slammed the door.  Or the hours and hours your son takes to do the most mundane tasks.  Or any of the other unpleasantness of parenthood, like the 9 months my daughter would not sleep for longer than 45 minutes in the day or 2 hours at night.
  4. Tell yourself that you can't afford to re-buy all the baby gear, especially the cute versions your friends have (but then your brain counters with the fact that you really didn't need or use most of that anyway).
  5. Try not to remind your husband every day that you really really really really want to have another kid (every other day will do).
  6. Enjoy your big kids for who they are growing up to be.  Soccer starts this week for both kids.  My son is in U6 for his first year playing, and my daughter is in U8, on an all-girls team called the Raspberries!  I love being a soccer mom.
What about you?  If you are done having kids, did you just know?