Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Let's Celebrate Birds

To me that title is completely oxymoronic! Here's a bit of history for new friends, and those who think they know me but don't understand the dark side.

I attended the University of Alabama, and while there, I worked as a secretarial assistant which was a glorified term for gopher. I ran every errand that the department needed. Fine by me. Walking around campus to deliver items from one department to another, chatting with friends along the way, and getting paid. Work... what work? My job was easy.... until....
I became a target. I've heard of birds being protective if you are near a nest. I was walking out in the open. The sun was bright and the air crisp. A lovely day, and then from out of nowhere this angry bird decided I needed to be destroyed. It dove down and hit me in the back of the head. Kamikaze blue jay. That's right. It hit me in the head... not just once... but over and over! I ran back to the office bewildered and received no sympathy. Oh, there was laughter, but no sympathy. 

The years pass, and I was teaching American missionary children in Nigeria. We had problems with hawks nesting above the school and the parents actually had to walk the kids to school with bats. 

Understand my fear of birds had taken root. One afternoon, after the kids had all gone home, I looked out the door and the hawks weren't there. Good, free to leave. I started walking down the road and then heard it. The horrible sound of wings beating against the air. When I saw that giant bird descending, I picked up the hem of my skirt, lifted it high, and in my flip flops I ran with the speed only Olympians can comprehend. The beast of the air was quicker. It swooped, talons extended, and went for my head. Latching on to my hair, scraping my forehead and beating my face with it's wings, it had me. I continued to run. I'm not sure how long it held on, but I  never stopped running and it finally let go. I ran straight into the missionary's house across the street and slammed the door behind me. She came out of the kitchen and screamed. I had no idea my forehead was covered in blood and my hair was frightful. I was simply shaking. After I was cleaned up and sat for a while, I was able to go home. Wiser. Looking up, and forever fearing the terror in the skies. 

Wait until tomorrow's post. You'll get to hear all about ZOMBIE DUCKS!

Let's Celebrate Platform Building

I'm a little behind these days. I'm behind on listing this post. I'm behind on my Celebrate 100, but catching up while trying hard to finish my manuscript for book #2 and get all the laundry finished at the same time.

Platform building. This is my first year to be a part of The Writers' Platform-Building Campaign. I'm learning how valuable networking with other writers can be. There's so much to learn from others, and everyone needs encouragement. Come be a part of the fun. Today, August 31st, is the LAST DAY to sign up, so hurry on over. Check out the list of campaigners. You know you want to be a part of this! I'm listed in three different categories, and I'm still making the rounds to say hello. For my new followers from the campaign, I'll visit soon. For faithful friends, hop on over to Rach Writes by clicking the link above and if nothing else, visit other blogs and find someone interesting to follow. Life's about the journey. Enjoy yours!

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Let's Celebrate Friday Lunch

The time has finally come! My novel Friday Lunch is available for purchase from my publisher's site.
Click HERE

My official release date is set for November 22nd! So, spread the word, share this with post wherever you can, and celebrate with me! Believe dreams do come true! Enjoy the journey!

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Let's Celebrate The White Truck Guys

There are things in this world I can do without, that I've done without, and in all truth I could survive without, yet I'm thankful for. Power is one of those things. It's no news to anyone that hurricane Irene is pounding it's way up the coast. I just read on my facebook news feed that electric companies are already sending linemen to work on the power outages. In my home, these lovely men are known as "the white truck guys."
These were the guys that came to work in our area after the tornado in April. These were the guys that slept in their trucks because there wasn't enough hotel rooms around here with all the displaced people who lost their homes. These were the guys who brought teams more than six hours from here, and worked as the sun came up and then with lights on bright long after the sun went down. These are the guys who have been to my house more than once. Power lines stripped from the side of my house from the tornado. Lightning striking. Transformers sending power surges and toasting a few things inside my home. These guys come through for us all. 

So when you see them out there say thanks for all the hard work. Somewhere there's a wife missing her husband, and kids missing their dad, all so we can live with power and feel a little more comfortable. Thanks guys. You brighten our world. Enjoy the journey.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Let's Celebrate The Road

The open road. Windows down, hair up, music loud.

Alone. I enjoy alone. I do. I'm not antisocial. I'm a complete introvert, and while I adore my family and friends, I need time alone to collect myself. This stretch of highway is great for just that. Today, however, my son was with me. He sat behind me staring out the window. Tired. He spoke quietly, "Mommy, do you like the music loud when you are in here all by yourself?" I said... yes. He sighed, "Yeah, me too." So, I turned up our music. Rascal Flatts sang "My Wish" and we sang along. And in that moment I was reminded of this.... 

May the road rise to meet you.
May the wind be always at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face.
And rains fall soft upon your fields.
And until we meet again,
May God hold you in the hollow of His hand.

Enjoy the journey.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Let's Celebrate Cake

Sometimes it's what you don't have that makes you want it all the more. In my case, what I don't have, I don't want.... well, until November. I've been without sweets for several months and I'm doing this until Thanksgiving..... that's when I expect to reach several goals.

I'm not eating sweets, and for me that's big stuff. Hello, my name is Vanessa and I'm a chocoholic. It's true. For as long as I can remember I have always eaten sweets. ALWAYS. Yet, in my battle for better health I had to push them away for a while. I'm not on the get skinny program, I'm doing it for a life change. I'm determined to be healthy. But for today we celebrate cake. Doesn't this look scrumptious?
(My mom is simply a fabulous cook.)

At first living so close to my mom when she can produce dishes like this was hard, but not now. Even when it's cut, and you can see all the good stuff inside. She'll ask, "Are you STILL not eating desserts?" She's shocked too.
The only thing missing is a cup of coffee.

The great thing about it all, I'm not denying myself anything. Remember, life is about choices. Make the best choice for you and enjoy the journey.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Let's Celebrate My Mountain

No silly, not that one, though I will claim it once I climb it with the fabulous four.

I love the mountains. There's something to be said about wide open spaces and of course the coast has a special place in my heart, but the mountains call deep in the soul. You know what I mean?

My mountain. I love the way the sun sets across the river below. The way the sun clings to the edge of the day just beyond the trees. 
My sweet son reminded me that I promised him once he was potty trained we would climb our mountain. That will make for an interesting day, but a promise is a promise, so when the air cools a little we'll find a trail to hike up. Now the telling of that journey is a blog you won't want to miss.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Let's Celebrate Wonder Woman

Growing up there were some great shows we all used to love. Prime time television was packed full of choices for family viewing. Wonder woman was the favorite of all little girls. Who wouldn't want to be a super hero?

Remember the Bionic Woman? The Six Million Dollar Man? Remember the Sunday afternoon Disney movies? Sitting down with the family after dinner was fun and television was enjoyed. So today I celebrate Wonder Woman and the fact that once upon a time, turning on the television was safe for all little ears.

What was your favorite show WAY BACK WHEN?

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Let's Celebrate Bingo

Tonight I was supposed to meet some friends for dinner. Life happened, plans changed, and then my lovely sister bought my crew tickets to BINGO. With the purchase of each ticket you received a hot dog dinner and two bingo cards.

The crowd gathered early. This was some serious bingo. Each game had prize packages worth over $250, and people packed the room as the hot dogs and chips were consumed.
Sixteen of my family members gathered for fun, and I'd like to say at least one of us won, but we all came home empty handed, though happy to have laughed all night together. A special thanks to the Lion's Club and my fantastic family for a night of fun. 

It's not about what you do, but who you do it with. Make the moments count. Enjoy the journey.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Let's Celebrate The Hop

I enjoy connecting with other moms in the blogosphere and on facebook. I also enjoy searching out other authors to learn from them. Blog hops make this easy and fun. So to celebrate the hop take a look at those I've listed. Authors come join the fun at Novel Publicity. Make some friends, follow where you will, encourage as you go, and enjoy the journey.

at Life with Twins & a Drama Queen

(Check out the button on the bottom right for this too)

For all my writer friends with facebook fan pages, be sure to check out Novel Publicity. Join Karmic Friday and network with other authors. Be sure to follow the rules or you'll get blocked from facebook.

Just for fun now, and this has absolutely nothing to do with the hops.... check out the free books from FamilyFiction

One last thing... since you've dropped by, click the "vote for us" button up there and help move me up to the front page of the top mommy blogs. Your click is your vote. If you see this button on your journey today, help another friend. Happy Friday! Journey on!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Let's Celebrate Bugs

In this 100 days of celebration, I pause to pay tribute to the mighty creepy crawlies. There are those we fear, those that amaze us, and those that deserve the swatter. I've always enjoyed the fascination children have with bugs. The "let's pick that up and look at it" mentality instead of the "stomp it until it dies" way of thinking adults rally around. The fabulous four and I are forever looking for the cool bugs to photograph. So to celebrate bugs, I have a few to share.
Notice how he looked over just for his picture.

He crawled right up there and posed.

Bugs take their own time in a photo shoot.

See, now he's ready.

And, then there's Ruby. She really didn't like to be disturbed during lunch, but every bug collection needs the creepy factor.

Life's just one big back yard waiting to be explored. Carry a camera and enjoy the journey.

Let's Celebrate The Big Red Barn

(Not this one, but that's what I think of when I hear the big red barn.)

There's just something about a big red barn sitting way off the road. A noble structure filled with the busy sounds of the day. Sweat, hard work, progress. Full of sleeping animals and quieted equipment in the night. My grandparents had a red barn in their pasture. I used to love being out near it. The smell of hay. The bustle of the animals. It was the smells and sounds of childhood.

I carry my camera everywhere looking for the perfect picture. Pulling up to a stop sign, a big red barn held my attention. I just sat there.... staring. A world of story ideas came flooding in and I had to have this picture. I pulled to the median and had the perfect angle.
There was just something about this barn. It's lovely, don't you think? This picture gave me such inspiration it has become part of the setting in book #3. 

Find your inspiration. Find a reason to write. Journey on.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Let's Celebrate Lists

Lists...... I love lists!

I love the way they look. I love marking off a to-do list. I like planning parties and making lists for the entire event. Lists are simply a way to be super human and make everything you're doing seem real.

Okay...... so, what about a prayer list? Ever made one? Ever tried to write down all the people you pray for, or things you pray about?

Long, long ago, in a land far far away lived a young single woman full of enthusiasm and joy. She got up at 5 am to start her day with and hour's worth of exercise, she got completely ready for work, she sat down with her Bible and studied, and then she prayed. Going through her list of family and friends. Praying. And then......

No more prayer list. There were good intentions.
Prayer lists became sticky notes in the front of my Bible. I pray... of course I pray. I'm a single mom of four. I pray.

A friend of mine sent a message asking to put her family on my prayer list. List... hmm... where is that list? Oh, that's right, I don't write an actual prayer list anymore. Why not?

So, pen in hand, I think I'll go make that list. I'll be happy to add anyone along the way. Life's about being on this journey together. Journey on.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Let's Celebrate Traffic Sources

I always enjoy seeing how people are directed to my blog. Here are some of the latest 
results of web traffic that land some happy seeker in Sand Castles and Snow Forts. 

june 2011 calendar

lord of the rings movie 
pull off can lid
"vitameatavegamin" sign
aretha franklin art respect
I'm cuckoo for cocoa puffs
chocolate-glazed fudge cake
I love lucy quotes
jumanji book
kilimanjaro desktop photos
I love you battles
mr. big
frog and toad are friends
narnia book

Want to know my biggest pull from google searches? 
(click HERE to see how The Sneetches got included.)

That's right, the search for Seuss brings them here. Fun though. You never know who 
you might come in contact with in this big old blogosphere, so happy googling 
everyone! If you happen upon a blog, post a comment, become a follower, or simply
say hello from a google search. Life's all about the journey and no one walks alone. 
Journey on!

Let's Celebrate My Honeymoon

I do believe I have found the perfect place for my honeymoon!

What a dreamy place. Am I right? 

It's going to be a spectacular honeymoon. Just look at the food!

When's the honeymoon, you ask? Well, the date for the wedding hasn't been officially set. To tell the truth, he hasn't popped the question. Well... if I'm going with honesty here, I haven't quite met him yet. Now, complete and total honesty...... I'm not dating at all. :)

If I could, I would take all you lovely readers to this beautiful island, and we would feast in celebration of my happily ever after. Hey, it could happen. I do believe my toes were made for sand like this......

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Let's Celebrate Cars

In my 100 things to celebrate, this sounds a bit materialistic, I know, but it isn't. See, when I was younger I wasn't the normal "I have a crush on everyone" kind of teenager. I grew up hanging out at the gas station, and at the store with my daddy. I would sit in the corner of the store in the afternoons, curled up in a comfortable chair by the heater and read. I'd listen to story after story being told by anyone who would stop by for a visit. I also stayed at the gas station with my daddy... sometimes. I loved being around the cars there. I loved watching the guys fix them. I can close my eyes and still smell that place. In turn, I grew to love the beauty of old cars. While most girls my age had TEEN magazine, I got Classic Cars magazine. I hung pictures on my door with the wish that I would do something so spectacular in this world that I could own a few hot rods. I wasn't crazy. I did have at least a couple of guys that made the poster wall. Mr. John Stamos in his General Hospital Days of course. Didn't we all have that poster?

But then I had pictures like this....

and this.....

and there was always room for something new.

When the time came to actually start thinking about the car I would drive, I got an auto trader and found exactly what I wanted. 
Except the one I found had mag wheels, a 454 engine, and a wheelie bar. My sweet daddy laughed and said, "Do you know that's not street legal? That's for racing." My thought was... it could be fixed right? Wrong. My dream car remained a dream. Then I realized the car I wanted was EXACTLY like the ZZ Top car. See...... how cool am I?

I still want an old car. A classic car. Big red convertible, whitewall tires, fuzzy dice hanging from the review mirror. Someday. 

I know I must talk about those classics a great deal because when we passed a '57 Chevy my kids all said what a beautiful car it was. Seems like they've got it straight. 

Friday, August 12, 2011

Let's Celebrate the Stars

Yesterday I celebrated my 100th blog post. Today, let's keep going. I told the fabulous four I wanted to count down until my birthday by celebrating 100 things on my blog. Their suggestion were absolutely fantastic. So today, my friends, let's celebrate........ the stars.

Have you ever been star gazing? Not the walk outside I'm looking up at the sky star gazing. I'm talking about getting a blanket, going outside, spray the kids with bug spray, laying on your back and everyone whispering.... watching the brilliance of the night sky kind of star gazing.

It happens to be one of those night. Tonight... you can go out there and enjoy the beauty of the heavens. Check out NASA's page on tonight.This year's Perseids meteor shower peeks tonight! Stay up all night.... or just up really late.

If nothing else, it's a great way to simply be. The only thing more beautiful than a sunset to me is a blanket of stars stretching across the sky.


Thursday, August 11, 2011

100th Blog Post

Today I celebrate my 100th blog post. Sand Castles and Snow Forts came to life when I began my journey publishing Friday Lunch. I never considered the fun or the friends that would develop through this blog. So thank you to my followers, my visitors, my friends, my family who continue to encourage me. Stick around, it only gets better from here. I think in honor of the 100th post we should celebrate 100 things. Come visit with me again and let's keep celebrating.

I waited to make the 100th post to have a little fun my friends, your friends, their friends, and their friends. You get the picture. Today it is 100 days until my 42nd birthday. So, I've decided to host THE BIGGEST FACEBOOK PARTY EVER! We have 100 days to see how many people will attend this event. If you didn't click the blue words... click HERE. Once you arrive at the facebook events page, click "attend" and share the page. If facebook has 750 million people on there, we only have 100 days to invite them all. Pass the word, share this post everywhere and let's see how many people show up for the party! 

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Drama Camp.... it was time to shine.

Have you ever been a part of something, and when it's over you know those involved went away changed... better... ready for something bigger? That's the feeling drama camp gave my fabulous four. The awesome foursome were involved in drama camp this week at The Whole Backstage Children's Theatre in Guntersville, AL.

Our mornings began at 8:30 and we drove 45 minutes to get there. Worth it? Absolutely. The morning camp was filled with amazing classes: vocals, acting, musical theatre, script writing, costumes, active theatre, crafts, technical theatre, and set design. Every aspect of the theatre came to life, and after 3 1/2 hours a day for 5 days straight, the campers put on a great show Friday afternoon. But, the fun didn't stop there. In the afternoons after Camp Red Carpet, an additional camp was offered. Musical Theatre Show-Offs from 1:00-5:30 pm, and it also ran Monday-Friday. This group gave quite a performance Friday evening in their production of COOL SUIT.

An amazing group of talented young people stood on that stage and gave all the parents watching a reason to appreciate the beauty of the arts. Something was different with this show. Every child on that stage believed in this production, because they were given the joy of having someone believe in them.

A special thanks to Kelleybrooke Brown, the director of The Whole Backstage Children's Theatre,  and her commitment to making our lives more exciting!

Give a child a chance to shine, they might take it. Give a child confidence, and they'll ask to shine.