Swearing off Cookies

gingerbread

I couldn’t stop baking cookies over the holiday season. Cheated a bit. Used the Pillsbury rolled dough and the imprinted sugar ones. Still, I had to bake them. Gingerbread’s my guilty pleasure. Top them with some frosting and they’re good to go.

Something about gingerbread cookies and the holidays. People’s eyes light up when they ask, “Are those gingerbread?” It can be turned into houses or men or any shape your heart desires. We go the extra mile on this holiday when it comes to sugary treats.

Flavors of the season…cinnamon, nutmeg, gingerbread, pumpkin…aren’t just ingredients in favorite recipes. They hold memories of our Christmas past like an old friend.  They may fade into the background for the rest of the year but somehow you know they’ll be back.

To everyone who loves cookies…and Christmas, I hope you had enjoyable ones. May the new year find you in good health and be kind to you. Don’t worry about New Year Resolutions or losing weight. That’s what the holidays are for…to cheat a bit on your diet in the company of family and friends. Because that’s what it’s really about, right? Family and friends coming together.

Thankfully, my favorite store-bought dough comes out seasonally. So good-bye, cookies. You made the holidays special. See you next year.

Santa Daddy

santa-claus-152343_640 My dad always loved to play Santa. Not the dressed up kind of Santa, but the person who passed out the presents and was in charge of Christmas. He started on Christmas Eve when all of my mom’s family got together at our house.

We would have lots of food and a huge bowl of shrimp. One year my cousin and my sister ate almost the whole bowl of shrimp themselves.  No one ever let them forget that.

Dad would always want to get to the presents and we wanted to drag out the gift giving to make it last longer. He was like an excited kid. He would announce who the present was for and who it was from.  Sometimes if we were not paying attention, he would put two fingers to his mouth and whistle. He couldn’t really whistle that way but loved doing it.

Christmas Day, Dad continued to be Santa. When we got older and slept in, he would wake us up. He couldn’t wait to get started. When I was twelve he bought me a stuffed Snoopy dog. Snoopy was my favorite PEANUTS character. I wish I still had that dog. I have bought several to replace it but they’re just not the same.  Another year, when I was in college, I saw a beautiful pink pant suit in an expensive catalog. I wanted that outfit so badly. Dad made sure I got it for Christmas.

My earliest memory of Dad making sure I got what I wanted for Christmas was when I was four years old. I wanted a train. Well, back in the day, little girls didn’t really get trains or supposedly even want them.  Things were more divided – girl toys, boy toys.  Girls were supposed to like dolls and dress up and pretend mommy things. I wanted a train. Santa daddy made sure I got it.

I loved that train and used it throughout my childhood in so many ways. Our dolls took it to school. Three laps around and they were delivered to the door. It was a runaway train that would go so fast it would come off the track. It was decorated with all the trimmings for Christmas. I still have that train.

Santa daddy was good to himself, too. One year he came home with a racetrack just for him. He was a kid at heart.

All of those times seem like another life – another time. My dad passed away at an early age. The family has scattered as most families do. I hope they still remember those special times when the earth seemed to stand still and the happiness of Christmas was in the air. And my dad was Santa daddy.

toy-train-155133_640

Supermom? The “Art” of Balancing Life as a Work at Home Mom

Today I have a guest blogger. Caroline Andrus is the webmaster and artist  of Melange Books Publishing. I’m happy to be part of this great group of people. Caroline keeps everything running smoothly at Melange and Fire and Ice YA all the while being a busy wife and mother. I’ll let her tell you about it with the following post. Welcome, Caroline!eIMG_7833

“You continually impress me with your supermom like ways!”

I stared at my laptop in stunned silence.

This was the comment a friend had left on one of my Facebook status a couple of weeks ago. Me? Supermom? The post in question spoke of my completion of my Busy Mom’s Meal Swap meal for the month and contemplation of making “The World’s Best Chocolate Chip Cookies” to go with. To me, this was just a once a month event. For those who are not familiar with Meal Swap’s, it’s when a group of people meet up, each agreeing to make a bunch of the same meal and then meeting up again to exchange the meals so everyone gets something different. Sure takes some of the stress out of dinner!

But back to the matter at hand. I couldn’t help but wonder, did I give off the impression of being a supermom? I didn’t feel like it. Most days I feel like I’m barely keeping it together. I am a wife and mother to two little girls, ages 6 and almost 2.

I lost my full-time day job while I was pregnant with my second daughter and opted to just stay home for the most part. I hated missing out on my first daughter’s childhood because I worked from about 9:30 am and didn’t pick her up from Grandma’s until around 6 pm. Then she was in bed by about 7:30. It was rough. Now, being a work from home mom, I feel like I get less done around the house than before, but at least I get to see my kids!

A little background about my work. I am a Jack(ie?) of all Trades for Melange Books, LLC and it’s YA imprint Fire and Ice. I am the webmaster, head of the art department (aka book covers manager and artist), I run the blog, I load books to our website shopping cart, and I format and load books for Amazon Kindle and Smashwords.com…among other odd jobs that get thrown at me! On the weekends you can often find me working as a product demonstrator at Super Target. This is my one chance to get out of the house and interact with adults.

My typical day begins either with my 6 year old bursting into my room anywhere between 7 and 9 am, usually whining she can’t get the Wii to work OR on a good day, I wake between 8 and 9 when the little one wakes up in her crib. Regardless, unless there’s an emergency—which is rare—I don’t get up much earlier than around 9. Next up is breakfast for all three of us. Followed by dishes (I’m not an evening dishes person, I’d rather do them first thing in the morning.) Sometimes we’ll go outside and the girls will play and I’ll work in the garden, other times we’ll stay inside and I’ll get to work while the kids play. On an ideal day, my 6 year old gets to run down the road and play with our friends/neighbors. My biggest obstacle, believe it or not, is Facebook. Not only do I have my own personal Facebook account which sucks my life away, but I also have the Melange FB page to manage, the Fire and Ice FB page, my personal design FB page and I created a group to interact via FB with our authors and fellow staff members.

Somewhere during the day I try to find time to pick up the endless clutter that is overtaking my life. I try to get my 6 year old to do it, but she seems to think she’s getting a free ride and throws a conniption fit if I so much as ask her to pick up the granola bar wrapper that fell to the floor during her snack. You’d think I was asking her to clean the entire kitchen floor with a toothbrush the way she overreacts! We’re working on this, and as she gets older, I hope it gets easier. I also have to fit in laundry and figure out what the heck is for dinner. It’s an endless challenge.

In the evening, my husband comes home from work, we eat dinner and typically it’s about time for the girls to get to bed. We usually team up and each take one child. Regardless of which child I put to bed, once they’re tucked in and lights out, I spend the evening on the couch, working on my laptop (website, book covers, etc.) and listening to, “Mommmmmmyyyy! I need a drink of water!” or “Mommmmmyyyy! I need mommy snuggles!” or, my favorite, “Mommmmyyyy! I tried to fall asleep but it didn’t work.”

And so, when someone tells me I’m Supermom, I’m a little flabbergasted.

I struggle daily, balancing work and house and kids, but it’s a challenge that I enjoy.

I wouldn’t trade it for the world.

LINKS:

https://www.facebook.com/CarolineAndrusDesigns

https://www.facebook.com/MelangeBooksLLC

https://www.facebook.com/FireIceYA

Some of Caroline’s work:

WindShadowFinal2PhoenixElite1ImmortalConfessionsFINAL2