Sunday Bookends: Dentists, snow, comedies, and other stuff

It’s time for our Sunday morning chat. On Sundays, I ramble about what’s been going on, what I and the rest of the family have been reading and watching, and what I’ve been writing, and some weeks I share what I am listening to.

What I/We’ve Been Reading

I am finishing up a book by Danielle Grandinetti this week. It’s called Confessions To A Stranger and it will be out on Tuesday. I will have a review up for it on Thursday on my Instagram and probably here. It’s quite good.

I am also still reading The Burning Issue of The Day by T.E. Kinsey and The Fellowship of the Ring, but I didn’t get any of The Fellowship of the Ring read last week. I hope to get more done this week as it would be nice if The Boy and I finished it by the end of the school year at this point. Sigh.

This week I’d love to finish the books I’ve started and then go back to Anne’s House of Dreams and start another Walt Longmire book.

I did have a family friend as me how I read more than one book at once and in case you’ve ever wondered – I switch between books and sometimes I’ll end up reading one more than the other ones, which is why you’ll read on here that I am STILL reading certain books. Ha! There are also times I am reading a chapter here and there of a book, especially the L.M. Montgomery books which are more like little stories in each chapter rather than a book that flows from plot point to plot point.

Little Miss and I are reading Emily’s Imagination by Beverly Cleary again at night and also listened to Fortunately the Milk by Neil Gaiman (and narrated by him) several times this week, including on the way home from her procedure.

During the day for school, we are reading Spirit of the West.

The Husband is reading Upgrade by Blake Crouch

What’s Been Occurring

Friday and yesterday we received some more snow. Earlier in the week we were supposed to receive up to seven inches of snow in a surprise storm but we only ended up with two. Now, watch — tomorrow night we are supposed to get two to four but we will probably get much more because the area 30 miles above us in Upstate New York is supposed to get up to a foot of snow. If the storm slides down just a bit, we could get that amount too. We will just have to wait and see. You’ll have to read yesterday’s post if you want to know my children’s theory on why we are getting nailed by snow.

Also in yesterday’s post, I wrote about Little Miss’s dental procedure. That was our big ordeal of last week. It happened Friday but cast a cloud over our entire week in some ways. It went well, for the most part, but the aftermath of her not being able to eat well has not been fun. I did make her some potato soup with lots of milk and some cheese last night and that was a big hit. I think that’s something I’ll be making for myself from now on too.

I also made sweet potato soup the same way this morning.

I don’t know if I mentioned it yesterday or not, but she has developed a lisp after this and I’m upset by it. No, I don’t love her any less and yes, I am very ecstatic that she is still my same fun-loving kid (though a little more subdued and down with being unable to chew right now), but I was never told this could happen. In fact, I wasn’t told a lot of what would be happening and the fallout.

See that tiny speck of dust on the windowsill over there? (Oops…shouldn’t have mentioned it. The Husband has jumped up to take care of it). That tiny speck of dust is how much I trust dentists at this point in my life. To me they are scammers, liars, cheats, and backstabbing money-grubbing creeps. I’m pretty much over them and how they take advantage of people.

I feel like all some of them are about is money, money, and more money and how to cheat systems so they can get bigger payouts. That’s how I feel about them right now and it’s going to take a lot to change my mind. Sorry for any of you who have family members as dentists. I’m sure they are the exception to my personal rule and feelings about their profession.

People say they don’t know why dentists have the highest rates of suicide. I say it’s because they scam people and they know it and the guilt finally catches up to them.

Pray for me and my disgust with the profession and the people in it! It’s a real hang up for me. I’m serious. Pray for me about it. I know they aren’t all horrible people but we’ve had some really bad experiences of late and it’s left a bad taste in my mouth – in more ways than one.

What We Watched/Are Watching

This week I watched more Miss Scarlet & The Duke. I try to wait and watch certain shows with my husband, but he had a lot going on this week, so I did go ahead a bit with the show and now I’m dying to watch the next episode. I can’t promise I’ll wait for The Husband on this one. We are in season one.

Little Miss and I watched a lot of Bluey this week. A lot. A lot. A ….. loooot.

Hopefully we will take a break this week as I practically have the episodes of all two and a half seasons memorized.

Last night we watched a lot of Studio C, which is a comedy group out of Brigham Young University. We watched the original cast because we haven’t really liked the show since they left.

Friday night we watched the new Puss and Boots movie which is currently free with a subscription to Peacock. It was actually quite good, but I could have done without the bleeping of characters who were obviously saying very nasty swear words, something “kids” cartoons have started to do to try to entertain the parents who are watching with their kids.  Before long they’ll simply be saying the words. Mark my words. It will happen.

What I’m Writing

I wrote some 5,000 words on Gladwynn Grant Gets Her Footing this past week to try to keep my mind off all the stuff in my life. It was a lot of fun and I hope to do the same this week. I am doing a challenge with a group of other writers and I think I set a goal of 20,000 words for the month. Or maybe it was 15,000. I need to look at the sheet again. All I know is I wrote 10,000 words on the book in two weeks so I think I might make my goal. I’d love to have the book out by the summer.

On the blog I shared:

What I’m Listening To

This week Little Miss and I were comforted by listening to Matthew West a lot. We really needed his music.

Now it’s your turn

Now it’s your turn. What have you been doing, watching, reading, listening to or writing? Let me know in the comments or leave a blog post link if you also write a weekly update like this.

Sunday Bookends: Books with no plots, working on new books, and a lot of British shows

It’s time for our Sunday morning chat. On Sundays I ramble about what’s been going on, what I and the rest of the family have been reading and watching, what I’ve been writing, and some weeks I share what I am listening to.

What I/we’ve been Reading

This week I finished The Cat Who Dropped A Bombshell by Lilian Jackson Braun and even though it was a later book in the series, it wasn’t too bad. Some of the later books were not the best, which is fine. The woman did write 29 of them and was in her 90s when she died. They couldn’t all be winners.

I wouldn’t really call the book a mystery, but it was light and fluffy and a nice distraction from life.

It didn’t have a plot exactly either…which was fine with me at this point in my life.

This week I am going to be reading The Fellowship of the Ring by Tolkien and Anne’s House of Dreams by L.M. Montgomery.

I also hope to continue Some Through the Fire by Jennifer Q. Hunt, as well, but I am taking my time with it because it is about war and I’ve been going through a lot of depression so I don’t really want to read about war right now. It’s very well written, though, so I do want to continue it so I can find out what happens to the characters.

And I’d love to disappear into at least one short story in Midwinter Murder, a collection of Agatha Christie stories.

Little Miss and I have been reading Imagination Station books by Paul McCusker and we are currently reading one about Vikings in the evening before bed (she’s actually reading the book to me which has been fun) and one about the Plymouth settlement during the day.

The Boy is reading The Fellowship of the Ring, his medieval history book, and a biology book.

What’s Been Occurring

I wrote about what has been going on with us yesterday in my Saturday Afternoon Chat and Something Warm. You can head over there for an update, but I will mention, as I did there, that my aunt, on my dad’s side, passed away last Sunday and so it’s been a tough week.

What We watched/are Watching

Last night the kids and I watched Disney’s The Hunchback of Notre Dame.

Earlier in the day I watched an episode of All Creatures Great and Small. It was a bit sad but also sweet and left me crying a lot.

We also watched a Grantchester episode and a Foyle’s War episode and then we watched – I am ashamed to say it – an episode of the 1970s Hardy Boys. Eek. We didn’t even finish it but may finish it later today. The Husband really wants to see the old Nancy Drew show, though, because of some actress he had a crush on as a kid.

Oh and yes…we watch a lot of British shows.

What I’m Writing

I have been working on a cozy mystery book and wrote a few thousand words on it last week. I’ll share more about it when I know a little bit more about my main character and her motivations.

I am also working on a book that will be part of a multi-author project and will share a bit more about that as I get into that book as well. I wrote about 500-800 words on that last week too.

Last week on the blog I shared:

What I’m Listening To

I did not listen a lot last week but this week I plan to listen to Matthew West’s new album and some new songs dropped by We The Messengers.

Now It’s Your Turn

Now it’s your turn. What have you been doing, watching, reading, listening to or writing? Let me know in the comments or leave a blog post link if you also write a weekly update like this.

Sunday Bookends: Need some lighter books, some classic movies, and getting to write Biblical fiction

It’s time for our Sunday morning chat. On Sundays, I ramble about what’s been going on, what I and the rest of the family have been reading and watching, and what I’ve been writing, and some weeks I share what I am listening to.

What I/we’ve been Reading

This week I finished Love and The Silver Lining by Tammy Gray. It was very different than most Christian Fiction books. The characters were very real and raw with a lot of flaws and many of those flaws were not fixed by the end of the book. This is part of a three-book series.

I found some of the romance scenes longer than they needed to be, but still enjoyed the book. I ended up skimming those scenes. They were very clean but also overly dramatic. I think the point could have been explained in only one page versus five or six in those instances, but that is merely a personal preference.

The book was a bit heavy at times so now I feel like I need a bit of a lighter book to give my brain a bit of a break.

Unfortunately, I promised to read another book for an author’s launch and this one looks a bit heavy too. I’ll let you know when I finish it and when it is officially out for purchase.  

To give myself a little break from the heavy parts of Love and The Silver Lining, I read Anne from Windy Poplars. I managed not to lose the book again this time.

I can’t seem to get away from books with some sadness or heaviness in it.

I’ve started one by Jennifer Q. Hunt called Some Through The Fire, which takes place during World War I. I do want to take a break from heaviness but I need to find out what happens to the characters so I will probably pick that up this week at some point. It’s very good if you are a fan of historical fiction.

I really do want to delve into Midwinter Winter, a series of short stories by Agatha Christie, but I really am having a craving for a The Cat Who book so the one I picked up for my birthday could end up in my hands this week.

Remember at the beginning of the year how I had planned out books I would read each month? Ha. Yeah, so far that has not worked very well, but that is okay because reading shouldn’t be structured. It should be fun.

Little Miss and I are reading Paddington at night again and Children of the Longhouse or The Cabin Faced West by Jean Fritz during the day for school.

The Boy is not reading a book right now as I look for another one for us to read for English.

The Husband is reading True Believer by Jack Carr.

What’s Been Occurring

I shared what’s been occurring on yesterday’s Saturday Afternoon Chat so you can catch up there.

What We watched/are Watching

This week we didn’t watch a ton because I was busy writing and trying to figure out my next stories and I made myself read instead of watch.

We did watch The Big Sleep with Lauren Bacall and Humphrey Bogart last night. It had a very complex story and I kept getting distracted for some reason. It was very good but my brain wandered, my son came to talk to me about a show he’s watching, the animals were a bit wild, and I was working on this blog post.

We also started The Top Hat with Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers. We had to pause it an head to bed. I followed that one better because I set things aside and worked on focusing. Focus is my word of the year (which I will eventually write a blog post about) because I’ve been very bad at it recently.

Earlier in the week we watched an episode of Midsomer Murders. I watched an episode of Finding Your Roots with Julia Roberts and Ed Norton as the guest stars and I guess it was interesting, but I don’t know that I care about the ancestors of celebrities that much.

Tonight, when I get home from my parents we will be watching episode seven of season three of The Chosen and I am very excited since we weren’t able to make it to a theater for the final two episodes. We will watch episode eight Tuesday night. Or maybe we should just wait until Tuesday and watch them back to back but The Husband has a meeting that night so it probably won’t work out.

What I’m Writing

I am working on three different story ideas, but I think one is going to get dropped this week for another idea (a cozy mystery). The one is a story that doesn’t come out until August 2024 and is part of a multi-author project.

The other is Fully Alive, which I’ve shared a little bit of on here. It is a Biblical fiction story and I’m a little nervous about it. I don’t feel I know enough Biblically, but I’m praying about it and we will see where it goes.

This week on the blog I shared:

Now it’s your turn. What have you been doing, watching, reading, listening to or writing? Let me know in the comments or leave a blog post link if you also write a weekly update like this.

Sunday bookends: Losing books and cats, more Mary Berry, and snow days

It’s time for our Sunday morning chat. On Sundays, I ramble about what’s been going on, what I and the rest of the family have been reading and watching, what I’ve been writing, and some weeks I share what I am listening to.

What I/we’ve been Reading

This week I am moving back and forth between Love and The Silver Lining by Tammy L. Gray and Anne’s House of Dreams by L.M. Montgomery. They are definitely two different styles of writing with one being contemporary fiction and the other classic literature.

I found Anne of Windy Poplars between my bed and wall yesterday morning after losing it for two weeks. I was so excited to find it and took it with me when I took Little Miss to gymnastics. Later in the day I sat down and looked in my bag for it and it was gone. All I can figure out is that I left it at the gymnastics studio. So aggravating. I really wanted to finish that one.

The Anne books are a little drawn out and rambly, but I still like them. They are a total distraction from real life. I like to read books in a series in order if I can so it irks me that I can’t read Windy Poplars before Anne’s House of Dreams. It’s definitely a “first world problem,” of course.

I abandoned The Jane Austen Society. First, I haven’t read Jane Austen, so I was bored with all the characters gushing over her like she’s the only author who has ever existed. It’s similar to how I feel about many of the “bookstagrammers” on Instagram who act like she’s the only author in existence.

The other issue I had with the book was it was taking for. It took forever to get to the point and the characters weren’t really very likable at all to me. Once a “gd” got dropped, I was out. I had a feeling the swearing would only pick up and while I am not completely opposed to swearing, it just felt totally out of place in a book about Jane Austen.

Love and the Silver Lining is a romance of sorts but it has a lot more to the plot than the romance so I am enjoying it. I still don’t know if I buy the whole idea that two adults of the opposite sex can just be friends, but, hey, we’ll go with it for the sake of the book since it is well-written.

Once again, like Tammy’s first book in this series, Love and A Little White Lie, I can’t stand the one character. Here he is again in this book, and I still want to smack him for being a bit of a whiner. Ha. I think that Tammy wrote him this way on purpose, of course. He’s going through some growing pains, so it makes a lot of sense that he’s the way he is.

After I finish Tammy’s book, I’ll be jumping into something a bit darker, if my mood allows for it. I’ll probably get back into the next Longmire book or Midwinter Murder: Fireside Tales from the Queen of Mystery by Agatha Christie.

Little Miss and I read Paddington at night every night this week. During the day we are re-reading Children of the Longhouse by Joseph Bruchac. Next week, though, I hope to start The Cabin Faced West by Jean Fritz.

What’s Been Occurring

I shared in yesterday’s post that we had some snow last week.

You can catch up with what’s been going on in our world in that post. Spoiler: it’s not a lot.

Yesterday, Little Miss had a friend over and they climbed up on the hill in our neighbor’s yard and made a snowman. Little Miss’s little friend actually did most of the rolling and I was very impressed with the way she shoved that huge ball of snow up the hill with little effort.

They used frozen blueberries for the eyes and mouth, which attracted the deer later in the day, much to the girls’ delight. The temperature got up to almost 50 degrees yesterday, so the snow was melting fairly fast. The sun was out too, which was nice to see since it seems like we’ve had way more cloudy days than sunny days this winter, which is, obviously, normal.

I didn’t have a chance to get a photo of the snowman because I was inside the house cooking some fried chicken that Little Miss had asked me to cook for her. I’d made the same recipe earlier in the week by simply sprinkling season salt in a bag of almond flour, putting the chicken in and shaking it up, then frying it in canola oil. Little Miss was so thrilled with the chicken she asked for it again this weekend.

After the girls came in, I began looking for Scout, our younger cat, thinking I had let her out again. I went out back and called for her several times and even braved the dark between the house and garage, to go and see if I locked her in there. I prayed that a bear wouldn’t eat me since Little Miss and I were alone last night (The Husband was at an assignment for a freelance job and The Boy was spending the night at a friend’s.)

Lately, she’s been sneaking upstairs and curling up on top of Little Miss’s dresser and I started to wonder if that might be where she was, so finally, I went and looked and that was where she was the entire four hours I looked. I didn’t look the entire four hours, actually. I looked and called for her off and on during that time.

What We watched/are Watching

The Husband and I finished Brokenwood Mysteries, which was a bit sad. We are hopeful there will be a ninth season at some point. From what I read online, a ninth series is being planned. One of the actresses let that slip on her Instagram.

We also watched a couple episodes of Miss Scarlet and The Duke, the new Night Court, and The Rockford Files.

Little Miss and I watched a lot of Mary Berry, including Mary Berry’s Favorites. Little Miss says Mary is her favorite cook beside her own grandmother.

“Oh, and you,” she added.

Hmmm….well, thank you, kid. Honestly, though,, I’d love to taste Mary’s food and I think I’d choose her as my favorite behind my mom as well.

We are always fascinated with Mary’s kitchen hacks. Last night I was fascinated by how she used a melon baller to take the seeds out of a cucumber. I told Little Miss to watch and she said, “I’ve seen people do that.”

I said, “I’ve never seen anyone do that.”

She scoffed, stood up to head to the bathroom, looked over her shoulder, and said in a light tone, “Hmmm, where have you been?”

What I’m Writing

I planned to add some words to Fully Alive, my Biblical fiction story, last week but never got around to it. Honestly, I got too wrapped up with making reels and marketing material for the release of Shores of Mercy this week.

This coming week I hope to actually write, including a few blog posts I started last week, but haven’t finished.

What I’m Listening To

This past week I listened to some Mercy Me and Matthew West.

Now it’s your turn. What have you been doing, watching, reading, listening to or writing? Let me know in the comments or leave a blog post link if you also write a weekly update like this.

Sunday Bookends: 2023 needs a restart, a mix of books, favorite blog posts, and Americans portraying the British and vice versa

It’s time for our Sunday morning chat. On Sundays, I ramble about what’s been going on, what I and the rest of the family have been reading and watching, and what I’ve been writing, and some weeks I share what I am listening to.

What’s Been Occurring

Winter came back with a vengeance yesterday and led to The Husband lighting the woodstove to keep the cold at bay. We stayed inside huddled under covers, reading books, correcting errors in a book (for me), and watching a lot of light and fluffy TV and movies. The animals sprawled themselves in front of the woodstove, looking slightly drugged.

As I mentioned in my post yesterday, the last two or three weeks have been pretty awful for us and this past week was one of the worst as I was falsely accused of something that now requires me to provide a lot of documentation. It has my nerves so raw I’ve started internal trembling again but nowhere near as intense as I had after I had Covid or in 2017 after my dog died and after I had a virus. Luckily my mom is doing very well after spending a week in the hospital with pancreatitis and having her gallbladder removed. The side effects from the virus I had during that time have finally started to subside as well.

Before everything sort of fell apart and the temperatures dropped, I went outside and took some photographs for my stock photography accounts and also just had fun goofing off with the pets who thought they needed to be in the photos as well.

I was actually looking forward to life becoming a little bit more normal. Well, that was short lived but hopefully this year will get back on track again soon.

What I/we’ve been Reading

I finished The Reckoning Trees by Alicia Gilliam last night. Wow. What a ride that was. I held on for dear life during most of it, holding my fingers over my eyes because I wasn’t sure what would happen. It was incredibly well written and I’m looking forward to the second book in the series.

I have a couple more chapters of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain to finish up and I’m sure that will happen on Monday.

I lost my paperback copy of Anne of Windy Poplars by L.M. Montgomery somewhere. Either the house or the car, but I would love to find it this week and continue it.

On Kindle, I have a couple of choices of what books to start next. I have Love and The Silver Lining by Tammy L. Gray, The Jane Austen Society by Natalie Jenner, and All That Really Matters by Nicole Deese.

The Husband is reading The Big Bundle by Max Allan Collins.

Little Miss and I finished Children of the Longhouse this past week and are looking for another historical fiction for children to start for school but haven’t picked one yet.

At night we are reading Paddington again. Sigh. I hope to start Sarah, Plain, and Tall with her at some point this week.

What We watched/Are Watching

I found this lady this past week and have a feeling I’ll be watching her a lot when I need to relax.

We watched See How They Run on HBO Max as a family this weekend. It was pretty good but I was irritated that they had an American actor playing a British cop when so often we have British people playing Americans anymore. I mean why couldn’t one of their British actors who comes over here to play a famous  American play the British cop? Doesn’t make sense.

Still, the movie was good – quirky and fun and what we needed.

Little Miss and I had ourselves a Mary Berry marathon of sorts on Friday and Saturday. Watching her is so relaxing. I still can’t believe she’s 87 and still cooking away. Well, the most recent show we watched, she is 85. And still getting around wonderfully – or at least she was two years ago.

We watched her on Saturday (today as I am writing this) while the fire roared in the woodstove. On Friday we watched her show Mary Berry Loves to Cook and on Saturday we watched Mary Berry’s Country House Secrets, Season 1.

I found the first season of Mary Berry’s Country House Secrets on Youtube, by the way.

Little Miss and I agreed that watching her is very relaxing.

The Husband and I also watched an episode of Brokenwood Mysteries and I watched a couple episodes of a show from the 70s called the Manor Born.

What I’m Writing

I haven’t been writing a lot. I am currently making corrections on my manuscript for Shores of Mercy to prepare it to be released on January 31. You can preorder it here.

I did share two posts on the blog this week:

What I’m Listening to

I listened to The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn read/performed by Elijah Wood almost all week. Frodo did an amazing job on the book and brought out some of the crazy hypocrisy of the people of Missouri during the years of slave-owning in the way he pronounced and presented the book.

For music I listened to:

Danny Gokey – New Day

Needtobreathe, Multiplied

Needtobreathe, Happiness

Anthony Brown and Group Therapy, Trust in You

Spirit Lead Me – Influence Music and Michael Ketterer

Blog Posts I Enjoyed This Past Week

I am behind on blog reading but this week I did enjoy the following posts:

Sunshine for a January Soul by Mama’s Empty Nest

Lessons from Damar Hamlin by Fuel for the Race

The Helper by Warmly Meg

Also, please say a prayer for blogger Jinjer from The Intrepid Arkansawyer. She lost her mom this week.

Now it’s your turn

What have you been doing, watching, reading, listening to or writing? Let me know in the comments or leave a blog post link if you also write a weekly update like this.

A Christmas in Spencer: Beyond the Season Chapter 11

We are almost to the final day of this story! Isn’t that crazy?! That means we are almost to Christmas too! So exciting. What do you think will happen in the last chapter? Let me know in the comments!

Welcome to the eleventh chapter of a twelve-chapter story I am sharing on the blog. This is being shared with minimal editing, just for fun, but it will be fully edited once it is complete.

You can catch up on chapters HERE.

If you would like to read more about the characters in this story, you can find full-length novels on Amazon for purchase or on Kindle Unlimited HERE,

The first three chapters of the first book, The Farmer’s Daughter, can be found HERE.

Once all the chapters have been shared here, I’ll be providing a free Book Funnel link to blog readers and placing the story on Amazon for 99 cents.

Chapter 11

Chaos reigned in the Tanner household the day before Christmas and Robert couldn’t wait to escape it. Six women were laughing, mixing, baking, bumping into each other and when he’d come into the house for lunch, they’d asked him to taste test three different kinds of cookies, which wouldn’t have been so bad if he hadn’t needed to get back to the shed to finish the swing.

“Which one, Dad? The gingerbread or the molasses?”

“Um.” He spoke with a mouthful of cookie. “They’re both really good. I think we should have both.”

Liz laughed. “We’re going to cook both. Molly and I just want to know which one you liked better.”

He raised an eyebrow and looked between the two young women. “Is this some kind of competition? Because I don’t want to be the judge of some kind of competition between you two.”

Liz looked at him with wide, innocent eyes. “Robert, of course, this isn’t some kind of compe—”

“It’s totally a competition,” Molly said quickly. “And I’m your daughter so you’d better pick my cookie.”

The other women, which included his mother, his wife, Annie’s mother, Ellie, and his sister all laughed and gathered behind Molly and Liz, pausing in their work.

Robert’s gaze slid to the women, then back to Molly who had leveled a steady gaze on him, a small smile pulling at her mouth. He swallowed the bite of cookie. “I like them both. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.”

He quickly excused himself to the sound of laughter before any of the women could stop him, snatched his coat off the hanger by the back door, and headed out the door.

Alex was on his way to the house from the barn. Robert grabbed his arm gently. “You don’t want to go in there. It’s a madhouse.”

Alex’s brow dipped in concern as he looked from Robert to the backdoor. “What do  you mean?”

“There are a lot of women in there and they’ll try to make you taste test their food and then make you choose sides by saying which recipe is better.”

Alex grinned and gently removed Robert’s hand from his arm. “That sounds like heaven. See you in an hour.”

Robert shook his head and turned back to the barn. That young man would change his mind when two women watched him intently and waited for an answer. No man wanted to tell a woman that their recipe wasn’t as good as someone else’s.  Not if they knew what was good for them.

Brad had pulled through much to his and Alex’s relief, despite a two-day snowstorm that had delayed his trip until two days before Christmas.

Robert had put the bolts on the swing early that morning and Bert was finishing up the engine. Alex had finished the paint job and planned to pick up the truck the next morning.

 After Robert hooked on the chains, he and Jason would load the swing onto the back of the truck and drive it down to the house covered with a tarp so he could install the swing early Christmas morning. He’d enlisted Molly to keep Annie busy in the kitchen while he installed it.

After chores were completed in the barn and dinner was eaten in a kitchen now emptied of the fairer sex, Robert and Annie showered and dressed and drove to town for the Christmas Eve service. Alex, Molly, Jason, Ellie, Liz, Isabella, and Matt met them there, along with Matt’s mother, brother and sister, and Liz’s parents. Liz’s sister and family also attended, which marked the first time since they’d moved back to Spencer that they’d been able to attend a service as a family.

Robert slid his hand over Annie’s as the music began. The church was lit with candles lining the aisles and spread across the stage and altar up front. Wreathes of pine decorated the wall along the stage and behind the choir and the pastor.

Rush had been the word of the day for the last few weeks and now the entire family seemed to be taking a collective breath and letting the peace of the season seep into their souls, soothe aching muscles physically and worried hearts spiritually.

When the music started to signal that the cantata would begin soon, Robert’s shoulders relaxed, he sat back in the pew, and he closed his eyes. He let the music wash over him and push away any thoughts about what needed to be done tomorrow — for Christmas day’s celebration and on the farm. Farmers never had holidays which meant the cows would still need to be milked and fed and stalls cleaned. Most of the day would be set aside for family time, though. Any repair projects could wait.

Muffled laughter caused him to open his eyes and look around for the source of amusement. Soon the laughing spread and he turned slightly in his pew just in time to see a black and white cat stroll nonchalantly down the center aisle toward the stage. He watched it, eyes narrowing.

Without looking away from the cat he reached over and tapped Annie’s arm.

“Hey, is that —“

“Yes, it is. Whose truck did she climb in the back of this time?”

Scout, one of their barn cats, had climbed in the back of a pickup at least twice before at the farm, once hitching a ride to Walt’s farm and another time to the farm store. This was the first time she’d made it to town, though.

The cat walked up the steps, stretched her long body out, and lay down on the top step as the congregation watched with smiles.

“I’d better go get her,” Robert whispered as the pastor stepped out on the stage.

Annie pulled her lower lip between her teeth briefly, then released it. “Yeah. Maybe you’d better.”

z“Well, I see even the domesticated pets are here tonight to worship the birth of our savior,” Pastor Joe said with a smile. “In Psalm 148 it says, ‘Wild animals and all cattle, small creatures, and flying birds, kings of the earth and all nations, you princes and all rulers on earth, young men and maidens, old men and children. Let them praise the name of the Lord, for his name alone is exalted; his splendor is above the earth and the heavens.”

Scout had curled up into a ball now, ready for a nap. “I think we’ll just let this visitor stay for now. There must be something comforting to him or her about our church and that, to me, is a very high compliment indeed.”

Robert sat back in the pew again, shaking his head and laughing. For the next hour and a half, the cat napped, waking up only when Robert scooped her up after the cantata was over. He placed her in the cab of the truck with him and Annie, both of them unable to stop laughing over her sudden appearance.

They’d been taught that God had a sense of humor, Robert thought as he drove home, the cat in Annie’s lap. Hopefully, he’d found the humor in Scout’s attendance at a service to honor him


The sun had just started to rise over the horizon when Alex left the barn after the morning chores to head for town.

“Hey! Where are you off to?” Molly called after him. “We’re going to have a full family breakfast soon.”

He glanced over his shoulder. “I’ll be back soon, don’t worry. I have something I need to grab in town.”

He left her standing outside the barn with confusion etched on her face. It couldn’t be helped, though. He’d agreed to meet Bert at the shop and pick up the truck and then they’d both drive back for breakfast and lunch at the Tanner’s for the day.

When he reached the shop Bert had already pulled the truck outside. The men stood and admired the new paint job on the truck, the shine on the bumpers, and even the new tires.

“It looks good, Alex it really does.” Bert smiled, eyes glistening. “My father-in-law would have been really proud to see it in such good shape.”

Alex stepped around to the front of the truck, hands at his waist as he admired the final product. “You had a lot to do with it, more than me even.”

“You did the paint job, shined it up. Reminds me of when I first saw Ned with it. Hannah was in the passenger seat next to him. She was the most beautiful creature I’d ever laid eyes on. I never thought she’d give me the time of day that day let alone let me marry her a decade later when we were both old enough to get married.” He winked. “We were only 15 when we first met.” He laughed, touching the back of a finger across the bottom of his eye, and turned away. He pulled a handkerchief from his coverall pocket. “Sorry, I got so emotional there. Didn’t expect that.”

Alex patted his shoulder. “Hey, no problem. Memories are powerful, especially when they are good ones.”

Bert blew his nose and wadded the handkerchief up, shoving it back in his pocket. “My marriage has been a good one, kid. I guess that’s why I keep pushing you to propose to Molly. I want you two to experience the happiness we have. Being married, making that commitment to be there for each other no matter what, in front of all your friends and family – I don’t know. There’s something fulfilling about it.”

Alex pulled his cowboy hat down low on his head and nodded. “I know, Bert, I appreciate it.”

Bert sniffed and tossed a set of keys to him. “Anyhow, here are the keys. I’ll follow you in your truck and meet you at the house.”

Alex slid behind the steering wheel of the 1976 Chevy, cranked the window down, and closed the door. “I have to take a detour, so I’ll meet you there.”

Bert grinned. “Another gift to pick up?”

Alex touched a finger to his hat. “I’m keeping that under my hat, but I’ll see you at Robert and Annie’s for breakfast. Don’t eat all the bacon on me.”

Alex started the truck and listened to it rumble for a few minutes, then slid his hand across the surface of the new red upholstery on the truck seat. He hadn’t thought they’d be able to replace that too, but in the end, Jason had helped and they’d pulled it off.

He took a deep breath and shifted the truck into gear, nodding to Bert again as he pulled the truck out of the parking lot. Turning the radio on, a favorite song came on and he hummed along, turning the truck toward the road that would lead him to Molly, but first her grandmother.

A Christmas in Spencer: Beyond the Season, Chapter 5

Welcome to the fifth chapter of a twelve-chapter story I am sharing on the blog. This is being shared with minimal editing, just for fun, but will be fully edited once it is complete.

You can catch up on chapters HERE.

If you would like to read more about the characters in this story, you can find full-length novels on Amazon for purchase or on Kindle Unlimited HERE,

The first three chapters of the first book, The Farmer’s Daughter, can be found HERE.

Once all the chapters have been shared here, I’ll be providing a free Book Funnel link to blog readers and placing the story on Amazon for 99 cents.

Chapter 5

Snow and ice crunched under Alex’s feet as he walked to the barn. The snow had started to stick overnight, but not enough to leave much more than a dusting. Inside the barn, Robert and Jason were already preparing the cows for milking.

Molly was busy cleaning the stalls to prepare for fresh bedding to be laid down. It wasn’t until a couple hours later that he and Robert were alone, preparing the feed for the afternoon milking.

Robert looked up at him as he measured the nutrients to pour in for the calves’ feed. “How’s your project going?”

“Not great.”

Robert laughed. “Mine either.”

“What’s happening with yours?”

“Supply issues. Limited time. Yours?”


Robert yawned.  “Think you’ll get it done?

Alex nodded. “Burt is working on the engine and I’m working on the exterior. Even with that one part for the engine delayed, I think we’ll pull through.”

“Good. We can’t let our girls down, can we?”

Alex laughed softly. “No. We can’t. Even though they don’t even know what we are doing.”

Robert started filling the calf bottles. “They don’t, but I know they will appreciate whatever we do for them. We’re two lucky men.”

A muscle jumped next to Alex’s eye. Was Robert about to venture into the topic of conversation his brother-in-law and mother had? The subject needed to be changed as quick as possible.

“Yes, we are. Hey, I’m off to repair that fence in the upper field. Don’t want to take a chance on the new bull getting out.”

He walked briskly toward the door before Robert could ask him anything about his “intentions with Molly” or some similar line of conversation. Inside his trucks he let out a quick huff of breath.

Crisis averted. For now, anyhow.

He had grown close to Robert, a man who had been like a father to him more than his own had ever been. Sometimes that made dating Robert’s daughter even more awkward. Alex still vividly remembered the night the man had walked in on them kissing in the barn about a year and a half ago. He’d thought Robert was either going to punch him or have a heart attack, or maybe both – the heart attack after he punched him.

 Despite the awkwardness, Alex was grateful for the Tanners and the way they had become like family to him.

Before coming to live with Jason, Christmases had been awkward, especially after his parents had divorced. Alex was glad he’d been in college when they divorced and that there had been some happy Christmases when he was younger, even though his dad was rarely home and his parents argued often. There had been a few traditions he and his brother had tried to keep alive, even when the relationship between his parents started to sour, around the time Alex was 11.

Decorating the tree the day after Thanksgiving was one tradition they held on to, sometimes decorating it alone while their parents hissed insults at each other in the next room.

They kept that tradition alive until they both had gone to college. Then Sam had started working for their dad, taking the road their dad had wanted for both of his sons, and the distance only grew between them. For the last five years, Alex had spent his Christmases with the Tanners and had either called or texted Sam instead of visiting. A couple of years ago he had driven four hours to Baltimore the week before Christmas to meet up with Sam and his current girlfriend, Brittany.

Even though he and Sam kept in contact Alex wouldn’t define their relationship as close, especially as Sam became more and more like their father – obsessed with his career and looking like he had it all together, whether he did or not. Alex still held good memories of Sam, though, and didn’t want to completely lose the fragile relationship they had.

Parking his truck next to the fence line in the upper field, Alex reached for his phone and started to text.

“Hey. Wanted to connect and see if you want to meet up after Christmas this year for some lunch somewhere. I could meet you halfway or head down to Baltimore. Let me know.”

He clicked send, a large part of him hoping Sam would decline or didn’t answer at all. Sliding the phone back into his pocket he looked out over the field, the yellow and brown grass dotted with snow. Seven years ago, he’d stood here with Molly’s grandfather, Ned Tanner. Alzheimer’s had already started showing itself, but the man was connecting well that day. Alex was shocked by how quickly the disease had progressed and how Ned went from chatting away to slipping away within only a couple of years.

In some ways he was grateful that heart failure had claimed the man three years after the Alzheimer’s diagnosis, sparing his family from having to experience the man forgetting them altogether. Yes, there were days he briefly mixed up a family member or forgot that Molly, for example, was his granddaughter, but in the end, he’d at least known who Franny was.

Alex could still remember Ned’s words that day they’d stood in this field.

“If you love the land, it will love you back, did you know that, boy?”

“No, sir, I guess I didn’t until I came here.”

“Then it’s good you came here. We’re glad to have you. Hope you know that at least.”

At that point, he’d only been at the Tanners a year but had already felt like family. Robert, Annie, Jason, Franny, and especially Ned had all made sure of that.

He’d met Ned a few times before moving up to stay permanently and he wished he’d been able to know him longer before he became sick.

“Thank you for letting me work with you, sir,” he’d said to Ned.

Ned had clapped a large hand on his shoulder and squeezed, gray-blue eyes glistening, either from the wind or emotion. “Thank you for working so hard and being the extra support we’ve needed now that I’m getting all old and gray.” He’d flashed a captivating grin that had made Alex chuckle and reassure the man he wasn’t washed up yet.

Alex had never experienced acceptance like that before, other than his own grandfather, who he’d lost while he was in high school. His father had rejected him time and time again, telling him he’d better “get it together” if he wanted to be part of the business. Alex didn’t want to be part of the business, though. He’d gone to college to get a degree in computer programming on the off chance he did work with his dad, but he knew his dad wanted him at a desk, crunching figures and making deals, not in the IT department. Sitting at a desk wasn’t the future Alex wanted. When Jason had invited him to come work and live on the farm, he’d jumped at the opportunity.   

Taking a deep breath of cold, winter air, he closed his eyes briefly, the image of Ned forefront his mind. “Miss you, Ned. Thanks for everything.”

He shook his head as he opened his eyes. “Man, these Tanners have made me all sappy. I need to get a grip.” He wiped a hand across the dampness on his cheek and pulled a hammer out of the toolbox to start repairing the fence.

He’d learned a few important lessons from the Tanner men over the years and one of them was if you wanted to stop thinking too much, you went to work.


Robert stood and grimaced as his knee cracked. He shouldn’t have been kneeling that way. His leg still wasn’t a hundred percent since the accident and it never may be again.

The pain would be worth it, though, just to see Annie’s smile.

The pieces were coming together nicely. Soon he would be able to paint it, but hopefully the bolts to affix the chain to the swing would come soon.

His own father’s words came to him as he leaned back against the tractor behind him and reached for the mug of coffee he’d brought.

“You’re sure, Robert? You’re only 18 and –”

“You and mom were even younger, Dad. What’s this really about?”

“It isn’t about anything. I just want to be sure this is what you really want.”

“Dad, being married to Annie and running the farm with you is what I really want. She wants to be in farming too. We’ve thought about it. A lot.”

Ned had patted his back briefly and nodded. “Okay, then, you have my permission to talk to her parents about marrying her. I’ll support you both however I can.”

And Ned had supported them, day in and day out. That support had come in finances, yes, but also in advice, in emotional support, in love that Robert could still feel to this day.

Ned’s physical body was gone, but his loving, hardworking spirit definitely lived on in his family.

Robert reached for the phone in his pocket as it rang, deciding he’d look at the caller ID this time to see if he wanted to answer it.


He’d better answer it.

“Where are you at? Have you seen the weather yet?”

“No, what’s coming?”

“Maybe a foot. Starting tonight.”

Robert let out a breath. “Better get the chains on the big tractor. The plow is already on the truck but we’ll need to be able to clear a space for the milk truck to get in in the morning if they can even get here.”

“That’s not all. The heater in the barn is on the blink again.”

“That’s not good at all. I’ll be up in ten to take a look.”

“Up from where?”

No use trying to keep it all from Jason. He needed all the help he could get at this point. “The shed in the lower field. I’m working on a surprise for your mom. The key word here is surprise, okay? So zip your lips about it.”

Jason laughed. “So that’s where you’ve been slipping off to every afternoon. No problem. I can keep a secret.” He paused. “Well, better now than I used to be able to.”

Robert reached for his gloves and the key to the truck. “Call Walt about the heater too. He knows more about this new one than I do. I’ll see you soon.”

Outside in the truck he looked out over the field in front of him, a field he’d laid in after the accident, the tractor pinning him down. Running a farm wasn’t easy, not by a long shot, but he was glad to be alive to do it, even on the days when challenges rose up faster than the river after a heavy rain. “It’s good to be alive, Lord.” He smiled and started the truck. “Good to be alive.”

A Christmas in Spencer: Beyond the Season, Chapter 3

Welcome to the third chapter of a twelve-chapter story I am sharing on the blog. This is being shared with minimal editing, just for fun, but will be fully edited once it is complete.

If you would like to read more about the characters in this story, you can find full-length novels on Amazon for purchase or on Kindle Unlimited HERE,

The first three chapters of the first book, The Farmer’s Daughter, can be found HERE.

Once all the chapters have been shared here, I’ll be providing a free Book Funnel link to blog readers and placing the story on Amazon for 99 cents.

Chapter 3

Alex’s muscles screamed for a break as he carried another heavy box of meat to Benny Johnson’s freezer truck. They’d been working to save the store’s frozen inventory for two hours now and he had caved and put on a pair of gloves in the first thirty minutes, much to Molly’s amusement.

Once the meat and dairy were inside the truck, they’d work on fixing the blown fuse for the freezers, or call the company who installed them, whichever got the job done first.

He’d been in the middle of sanding the original, chipping paint off Molly’s truck when Robert had called. Before the call about the freezers, he’d been grateful for the break from farm work to work on the surprise and he was glad he had Robert as a co-conspirator or it might not have worked. Of course, Robert had him as a co-conspirator too. He had a feeling there would be more than once in the next few weeks that they would have to chase either Annie or Molly off the scent of what they were up to.

His phone rang as he carried another box to the freezer truck. He ignored it at first, but then thought it might be Molly needing to be picked up from the farm to come help.

He should have looked at the caller ID first.

“Well, it’s about time you picked up your phone. I thought maybe the one cell tower the county had fallen down or something.”

He grimaced, his jaw tightening. “Good afternoon to you too, Mom.”

“I had to call you, I suppose, since you never call me.”

For obvious reasons, Mom, is what he wanted to say, but literally bit the inside of his cheek to keep from saying it.

His mom had been generous in giving the Tanners a check to help save their farm a couple of years ago and he appreciated it but now she seemed to think it was a blank check to have the relationship with him they’d never had while he was growing up.

“You know I’m sure your father would like you to come home for Christmas.”

Ah his father. The man who never spoke to him, other than to help him how much he’d failed in life.

“Is that what he said?”

“Well, no,  but –“

“Mom. You’re divorced from the man. Have you even talked to him?”

“Briefly, yes. Three months ago. He wanted to make sure you and your brother knew about his diagnosis.”

“And that’s all?”

“Yes, but I feel certain he’d want to see you.”

“Isn’t his cancer treatable? I mean it’s been two years since we first learned about it and Sam hasn’t said much about it when we talk.”

His mother sniffed with indignation on the other end of the line. “Yes, from what I understand it is. They caught it early so that’s good. And Sam’s talking to you?”

He chose to ignore the Sam question. “I’m glad to hear that about the cancer but no, I won’t be back for Christmas. I have plans with Molly.”

Another sniff, this one with a little less indignation than the first. “Oh. I understand. Molly’s a sweet girl. And of course, her mother has replaced me in your life so – “

“Mom –”

You can’t replace something that was never there in the first place, is what he wanted to say, but, again, didn’t.

“I know. I know. Nothing can replace the love of a mother. Well, maybe you can bring Molly for a visit in February. Richard and I will be in Spain in January. Actually, if you aren’t coming for Christmas, I guess we will take that trip to the Caribbean after all. Your brother is staying with his girlfriend’s family this year in Cancun. I guess it will be another Christmas without seeing the children I gave birth to.”

He rubbed a gloved hand along the back of his neck, massaging the aching muscles there. “I’ll give you a call on Christmas, Mom.” Guilt pricked at his conscience briefly. “And maybe I can get down to see you after you get back from Spain.”

The sigh on the other end of the line denoted a change in tone. “I hope  you can. Richard has had the whole west wing of the house remodeled and we also enlarged the pool. We have plenty of spare rooms so be sure to bring Molly along. That reminds me – is she ever going to be my daughter-in-law or are you forever going to be dating?”

“Bye, Mom.”

“I mean I was just wondering – “

“Have a nice day. Bye-bye.”

He slid his finger over the call end button and slid the phone into his back pocket.

Carrying heavy boxes of meat in the freezing cold seemed a lot less like a hardship after that conversation.

“Hey, Alex.”

Molly’s hair —  pressed down with a pink knitted hat — framed her face as she carried a box of dairy products toward him. Her brother must have brought her from the farm. “Have you heard anything about my truck?”

Then again – this conversation might not be too much fun either.

He shrugged a shoulder and took the box from her. “All I know is that it’s being worked on. I’m sure it’s fine. It’s only been a week and a half, Mol. What is it you’re always saying? Patience is a virtue?”

Molly sighed. “I know, but I miss it.”

He grinned. “What, you don’t like cozying up to me in my truck?”

Molly smiled and hooked her arm in his. “Of course I like that, but I also like the freedom of having my own vehicle.”

He leaned over and kissed the top of her head. “I’m sure it will be done soon and when it is, it will be as good as new.”

Or close to it anyhow.

“Before I forget, Grandma invited us to lunch next week. She says she hasn’t seen us enough lately and to come over for some homemade lasagna.”

Alex laughed softly. “What’s she talking about? We see her every Sunday for lunch.”

“Yeah, but that’s the whole family. She says she wants a day with just the two of us.”

Alex grinned. “Works for me. It’s not like being fed some of her amazing lasagna is a bad thing.”

“Oh, and are you going to help us decorate at mom and dad’s next week?

“Of course. I did last year, didn’t I?”

Molly smirked. “No. You didn’t actually. You watched some action movie with Jason while you were supposed to be decorating.”

“I decorated the outside with your dad and Jason. I figured the inside stuff was up to you girls.”

“Excuse me?” She folded her arms across her chest and raised an eyebrow. “Are you trying to say that decorating is a woman’s job?”

He shook his head briefly. “No. Just that women are better at decorating inside.”

She laughed softly. “Yeah, you’re probably right. Jason helped one year and just draped the garland over a couple of windows and said that was good enough.” She kissed his cheek. “I’m going for some more boxes. Get back to work, handsome.”

As he carried the box to the truck a few minutes later, his mind shifted to Franny’s invitation. He wondered if the woman had ulterior motives.  Robert’s mother had dropped hints more than once about his future with Molly, at least twice during family dinners where she’d kept her gaze on him for several uncomfortable moments before he, or someone else, changed the subject to break the tension.

She was a sweet woman, but she was also direct, and he knew he needed to have an answer for her if she was going to try to corner him about his future with Molly. An answer that wouldn’t lock him into anything but would halt her personal interrogation. An answer he’d have to start thinking about now if he wanted to escape unscathed.


Robert stood from the kitchen chair and straightened. Stretching his arms above his head, he winced at the pull along his ribcage.

“You should have let the boys do all that heavy lifting.”

The admonishing nature of his wife’s words would have irritated him if there wasn’t a large amount of compassion behind the scolding.

“I’m not an invalid, Annie. I can do some lifting.”

She stepped forward and touched his shoulder. “I know you’re not an invalid, but you are getting older.”

He stiffened at the words. “I’m not ancient. Lifting a few heavy boxes won’t hurt me at all.”

Annie rubbed her hands along his shoulders, then slid them down his arms, laying her head against his back. “I know. I’m sorry. I just worry about you.”

He looked over his shoulder at the top of her head. “I know you do, and I appreciate it.”

The day the tractor tipped over onto him and pinned him underneath, he wasn’t sure he’d have any more moments together with Annie like this. Laying there as rain poured down on him and Alex tried to free him, he’d asked Alex to help take care of her and Molly when he was gone. He’d really thought he’d hugged her the last time before he’d left to mow that field.

Now her breath was warm through his shirt as she sighed. He closed his eyes as she hugged her arms around him. They stood there for several minutes before he turned and pulled her against his chest.

She rested her cheek against his shoulder. “I’m thinking there will be at least fourteen for Christmas dinner this year. Do you think we should kill the turkey or eat ham?”

“I’m good with either.”

“I can’t wait to have them all together. Do you think we should invite Liz and her family?”

“No, hon’. I think Liz and her family will have their own Christmas together. Probably with Ginny and Stan now that Clint and Tiffany are back in town. Like they did at Thanksgiving.” He kissed the top of her head. “We don’t have to feed all of Spencer Valley you know.”

Annie laughed softly. “Oh, I know, but –”

He smiled. “You just want to take care of everyone. That’s one of the many things I love about you.”

It’s how Annie had always been. First, she’d taken care of him, then she’d taken care of him and the children.

She’d done her best to take care of her parents until they had decided it was time to move into a nursing community in town. Now she still took care of them, but in a different way, comforted that they lived close to friends who would notify her if anything went wrong.

She and Molly had taken care of his father when he’d been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and slowly slipped away, passing away a few years ago. They still took care of his mother Franny, even though she was as independent as ever at the age of 73, living on her own at the original farmhouse up the road. And now she wanted to take care of Molly’s best friend, but Liz had her own family, including her sister Tiffany who had recently moved back to the area.

“Well, what do you think. Will Alex propose to Molly this Christmas?”

The question jolted him from his thoughts. “What?” He wrinkled his nose. He hadn’t thought of that possibility. He thought the kid was just fixing up Molly’s truck for her, not fixing to put a ring on her finger. “Maybe? I don’t know.”

She pulled back and looked up at him. “How would you feel if he did? Do you think they’re ready?”

His muscles tightened. He didn’t like to think of his little girl getting married. Even to Alex, who he loved as a member of the family already. “Is anyone ever ready, really?” He smiled down at her. “We were only 19 when we got married. Were we ready?”

She locked her hands behind his back. “There are days I still wonder if we are ready, my dear.”

He cupped a hand against her cheek. “I’m ready for anything as long as you’re with me.”

He kissed her as she smiled, lifting his other hand so he cradled her face. When the kiss deepened, his swirling thoughts about the store, the farm and the Christmas surprise faded. Even after 30 years she had a way of clouding his senses, pulling him under her spell until nothing else mattered other than the warmth of her body soft against his while she kissed away his worries.  

Sunday Bookends: Christmas books, Christmas movies and Christmas events

It’s time for our Sunday morning chat. On Sundays I ramble about what’s been going on, what I and the rest of the family have been reading and watching, what I’ve been writing, and some weeks I share what I am listening to.

What’s Been Occurring

I’m all in for Christmas this year.

Am I alone in this?

Erin from Still Life, With Cracker Crumbs and I started watching Christmas movies in the beginning of November and for many, that is way too early. In fact, it is usually way too early for me too, but this year I was craving light, cozy, and happiness and had no problem starting the Christmas season celebration early.

When I was a kid, I absolutely loved Christmas and it gave me such a cozy feeling, but over the years that feeling faded. Christmas wasn’t always happy. Sometimes it was stressful and brought back heartbreaking memories of those we’d lost.

This year, though, for some reason, all of that has been pushed aside and replaced with warm joy.

Last year I was definitely grateful to be spending Christmas with my family after being in the hospital on Thanksgiving, but I was still too tired to be as excited as I wanted to be.

This year I am grateful and excited when I think about decorating for Christmas or watching Christmas movies, or working on my little Christmas story for the blog. I feel like this young lady I watch on YouTube. Darling Desi sometimes is too giddy and happy for me, and I feel like she’s fake, but then I realize that she isn’t fake, she’s simply in the mood for happiness on her YouTube videos and she hopes to pass that feeling on to her viewers.

She’s creating a space for happiness, all things fluffy, and nice and she welcomes people to that space, knowing that their lives and hers are not perfect but do need a bit of respite from time to time. Her channel is that respite and it’s very nice, even if I occasionally roll my eyes at some of the things that make her giddy. She really just seems so young to me sometimes, but I’m sure she’d feel the same about me but the opposite direction. *wink* Really, though, I often find the things that make her giggle with delight do the same for me.

I’ve never thought of myself as a “girly-girl” but when I feel giggly over a pretty L.M. Montgomery book cover with her or smile as she sips some fancy tea or shake my head with amusement when she dyes her hair orange-red again, I realize I’m a little more girly than I realized. I even like to watch her decorate her bedroom and fancy bed with fluffy lace and frills.

The weather this week wasn’t super cold. Not until we got to Saturday when we actually wanted to leave the house, that is.

Yesterday our little town held a Christmas festival of sorts with vendors, cookie sales, book sales (glee!), a scavenger hunt, hot chocolate, and ice carving. In the evening they held a tree lighting and caroling and then a light parade or Christmas parade.

The scavenger hunt involved going to each business and finding the photo of an elf and then writing down what the elf was doing in the photo. The entire time Little Miss and her friend were running to stores, I just wanted to go to the book sale and see if they put out any extra books from the day before when I checked. The selection wasn’t the worst, but I’m short and the way they set the books up made it hard for me to see them well.  Plus the books are for sale for a donation and I feel like I have to give a big donation for what I take home with me because I often take home a large pile. My pile wasn’t as large Friday but on Saturday I grabbed a lot more, especially children’s books and a history book on Vietnam for The Boy for later in the year.

Today I might visit my parents but I’m not sure yet because we might actually get a snow/rain mix. If that happens, we usually stay home because my mom doesn’t like us to be on the road, even if we are only seven minutes from their house. It is a very hilly, windy, twisty seven minutes.

What I/We’ve been Reading

The past week I have been making my way through Shepherd’s Abiding by Jan Karon, as a Christmas tradition I started last year. I’m really enjoying it. It’s just such a pleasant and relaxing read, but it’s also very moving.

A few months ago, Little Miss ran to me in the library and handed me a cute little 5”x6” book and said she thought I’d like it.

It was cute and had a cornucopia on the front and I figured those were two reasons she grabbed it. I didn’t know what to say since I’d never heard of the author, but I read it and ended up really enjoying it. It was called A Quilter’s Holiday by Jennifer Chiaverini and it’s a part of a series so I’m sure I’ll be going back to the library to pick up others (if I can get over my fear of damaging library books).

On Friday, Little Miss came running to me again with a book the same size and thrust it at me.

“I think you’ll like this one.”

It is called Christmas Cookie Murder and is by Leslie Meier.

I was a bit disturbed by the cookie skull and crossbones and Little Miss thought it would be right up my alley, but she knows her dad and I watch a little of mysteries so I think that’s why she chose it. The thing is, I don’t know where she finds them or chooses them from the shelves. She couldn’t even see the front photo but somehow, she picks great books because I am breezing through this book, desperate to find out who committed the murder and why.

Like the other book she picked, it’s fairly light. I’d call it a cozy mystery and I think I’ll be reading more by Leslie.

I had a goal to finish a couple more Christmas-themed books, including Dawn Klinge’s America’s Favorite Christmastown and The Mistletoe Countess by Pepper Basham by the end of December, but I don’t think I’ll make the goal since I also have to read the chapters of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn that I assign the boy. Sigh. I feel I’m in high school again.

The Husband is reading – gasp! He says he is in between books. I have no book to

Little Miss and I are reading Paddington at night but I am so excited because I have been wanting to read her The Greatest Christmas Pageant Ever, which was read to be in elementary school, but I didn’t want to spend extra money to order it and when I went to the book sale yesterday they had a copy which I got for a small donation. It was so exciting!

What We watched/are Watching

Early last week I watched Holiday Inn. I wrote about it earlier this week on the blog.

The Husband and I watched an episode of Brokenwood Mysteries that made me cry.

Last night we watched The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special and, well, it was okay, but I am a bit over Marvel at this point. You ever hear the saying, ‘too much of a good thing?’ Yeah, that’s the case here.

Erin and I are watching It’s A Wonderful Life for our Christmas movie this week if you would like to join in.

I really hope to finish A Man Called Ove, which is a Swedish movie, that I started last week, later this week. I don’t think the previous sentence made sense, but, well, it’s getting

What I’m Writing

I am sharing twelve chapters of a Christmas short story, novelette, whatever it is called, on the blog. I started Friday, December 8 and it will finish on December 20th.

I’m still working on the end of the story while I wait for the final of edit of Shores of Mercy to come to me so I can put the finishing touches on that and get it ready to publish on January 31.

This week on the blog I shared:

What I’m Listening to

This week I’ve been listening to Steven Curtis Chapman’s new album and some Christmas music on the local Christian radio station. The station has also been sharing Christmas radio dramas including A Candle in the Window.

What have you been doing, watching, reading, listening to or writing? Let me know in the comments or leave a blog post link if you also write a weekly update like this.