Life

Happy Birthday….in Heaven

My step-son would be 11 today.

Instead of planning a big party with cake and ice cream (and probably a hockey game) we have to visit him in a cemetery.

I never met Riley.

In fact, my husband hardly did either. Riley was “born sleeping” as they say, meaning he was stillborn.

My husband has been through so much, but I worry losing his first son was probably among the worst of it. It is probably worse than a father he never knew, or losing his mom when he was 12. It is probably worse than any loss in Iraq on deployment.

He was deployed to Iraq when he got the Red Cross phone call his son would not make it to be born alive. At seven months pregnant, his first wife had lost the baby.

I won’t get into a blame game, especially since I only get one half of the story (I’ve never met either of the ex-wives, which I’m totally cool with) and because we know where Riley is. He’s in heaven. I imagine (for some reason) he takes lots of walks with my great-grandfather, who never met either of our children. I don’t know why I imagine this…I just do.

They flew my husband back for Riley to be born sleeping. He buried him. He returned to Iraq. Less than three weeks after Riley, my Bill was in a convoy where he lost two guys and almost lost a third after hitting an IED. We are lucky he’s alive…we are lucky all those who survived are alive, my husband included.

I know my husband was mad at God for a long time over losing his son. There’s no rhyme or reason we as humans can understand when it comes to loss, especially one like that.

I just know he’s okay now, and one day my husband will not hurt, but he will see him again.

For now, even though we struggle, he is the absolute best father to our two children (who are too young to understand having an older brother in heaven). He does spoil them, but I let it go, knowing he’s making up for lost time with Riley.

Today we will go to the store, Bill will ask me what I think an 11 year old wants, and we will go leave it next to his headstone.

I know I struggle with it….I cry every time I’m there.

Sometimes I go alone.

Usually I have to give Bill a reason to go there, such as putting up decorations, etc.

I know Riley isn’t there….I know he’s in heaven. I also know there is nothing I can do to make my husband feel better about the loss of a child.

Usually he sits in the truck (my husband) and just stares at the grave. He makes a comment like “no one should bury their child,” or “all these poor families.” (Riley is in a special section of the cemetery for babies.)

It’s painful to look. You see all the graves of parents who are there every week with custom toys and decorations for their lost child, their names embroidered on teddy bears and flags. You also see the untouched graves of the children whose parents can’t bring themselves to go there, or in some cases, even order the headstone, so a marker sits there years later.

So for today, all I can do is pray. It’s hard to lean on God for comfort. I think it’s because we want answers and healing and as humans we want it right away.

Think of my husband today…….

Psalm 23:4 “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.”

Military Spouse Life

Happy Birthday, Talia

Today is our daughters 2nd birthday. I haven’t had time to do a true blog post, so I’ll post some pictures of the coolest kid ever….and a few celebrities. 




Brendon Ellis of the SC Stingrays during a benefit for Breast Cancer. 




Our favorite radio guy in Charleston, Mr. TJ Phillips. We were in line with my sweet friend Missy to meet…


Trisha Yearwood and her sweet sister!

Yes, it’s Paula Deen, her very lovely husband, and my sister from another mister, Beka! Paula Deen grabbed Talia right from my hands!

















The last three were today! Happy birthday, baby girl!

Life

The Love of a (Great) Grandmother

I love my grandmother like you wouldn’t believe! She’s a strong, hard working, caring person, and I just love her to death. I apparently was a complete shit-head to her growing up because she thought a box of musical “equipment” as we shall call it, for my children, was necessary.

Let’s back up.

Over Christmas break we stayed at my dad’s house for a few days. He has a player piano, the type you put the music in and it plays itself. My father probably knows three songs he can actually play, but the music coming out of the piano is impressive because it plays off the player music you put in.

Talia thinks this is cool as all hell. My dad likes to put her up on the piano bench with him and pretend to play. At 2 am on Christmas Eve, when Talia could not sleep for whatever reason, she decided to start playing the piano at my dad’s. My mother (who is divorced from my father) and grandmother think this is hysterical. Meanwhile, my father and his girlfriend think giving Talia a drum for Christmas is also cool….

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I’m not really sure what I did to deserve this  but I must have been a miserable teenager and didn’t know it because that drum was filled with other musical instruments as well.

Anyway, last week my grandmother is out with my mother and she sees a keyboard. Apparently she thought Talia needed said keyboard, based on her 2 am escapade at my dad’s house.

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Talia LOVES this thing (apparently Tremor thinks it’s cool, too, as you see in the picture.)

Now look at this picture of my grandmother with Talia and Liam. See how innocent this little, old, Italian grandma looks? Don’t be fooled my friends….

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Not to leave anyone out, my grandmother got something for Liam as well. Here’s where life fell apart last night.

Having to work in the morning (yes, I’ve gone back to work, but that is a whole other post), I was less than happy when Liam decided to wake up in the middle of the night and Bill just would not wake up. I climb over Bill and spend a great deal of time trying to get Liam back to sleep. The toy my grandmother bought him is in the crib with him, so I turn it on. It lights up on the “screen” but it also projects an image onto the ceiling for him to stare at. Liam LOVES this. I set the music mode to jungle sounds, and he drifts off to sleep. Success….or so I think.

I leave the timer on 20 minutes thinking it just shuts off like a normal child’s toy. Oh no my friends…..the toy goes off, and then 20 minutes later it comes back on! The picture is back on my ceiling, and the thing is now playing baby freaking show-tunes. Bill is between us, so after I’m startled awake, I now have to climb over a sleeping Marine to get to my kid…and the toy.

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I don’t even have to get the image going the right way for you to see how annoying this is for me.

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Here is the image of Liam’s “friends” on the ceiling. You can see how scary they are, right?

There are at least a dozen buttons and switches on this thing and none of them seem to want to shut the whole thing down. Liam is now awake, and we are back to square one….only now Bill is awake and wants to know why the baby is playing Nintendo. I inform him he’s not helping, the baby is not in-fact playing Nintendo, and Bill rolls over so I can be between them. Once I get the thing shut off, Liam doesn’t want to go back to sleep until I get that stupid image of those smug looking cartoons back on the ceiling. ARGH! Dogs are also now awake and wanting to know what is happening, so they all start rotating on and off the bed.

This whole thing carries on for well over an hour. By the time everyone is asleep and happy, my alarm clock goes off. I honestly thought about calling my grandmother at one point, and just giving Liam the phone to scream into. I don’t want her to miss out on all the excitement since she started this whole thing in the first place. (I’m totally kidding, though she has a cell phone now and can’t work it. It would be a wasted call.)

Thankfully there was a counterbalance in the mail today. I was able to sign both kids up for Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library. As if we need another reason to love Dolly, she has a program for children through age 5 to receive an age appropriate book every month, free of charge. When Talia was born, our zip code did not qualify, but just before Liam came, our zip code was included, so I signed them both up! Talia has received a few books, and Liam got his first one today! Talia came running and sat down as soon as I started reading!

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As you can see, he thought this was pretty cool! We’ve read it a few times, and I’m sure we will be reading it a lot more before the next book comes. He also got a lot of great books for Christmas, so he won’t be tired of any one book anytime soon!

I’m off to try and get some sleep to make up for the escapades last night. Right now I have the toy in the crib, with the directions close by! The moral of the story…be nice to your parents and grandparents because payback comes in the form of musical instruments and

Life · Writing & Publishing

Settling In!

While adding a new member to the family always requires an adjustment period, I’m happy to report things are going well with our new family member.

Talia thinks Liam is hers!



We love how much she loves him. She’s not the only one….


This is Addison. Her mom is one of my BFF’s.


Addison’s brother, Ellison….


Their talented mom, Selena. Selena is a newborn photographer and we were so excited to do pictures of Liam.



So far, this is the only one we have back. She’s so busy with sessions, it will be a few weeks before we see them all. This picture is one of my favorite EVER!

Here Selena was editing AND holding Liam while I used her oven.


So why am I using her oven? Well, she had a session requiring a smash cake. Even though we closed the bakery and are moving next May, I still make her smash cakes. The problem? Our oven caught fire last week.

Thankfully no one was hurt, and it didn’t happen while we were evacuated, but there’s nothing like waking up to the smell of something burning INSIDE your house. 

When I woke Bill, he insisted someone was burning toast. Um, there’s no reason we should be smelling someone’s burnt toast in our house. Sure enough, he went into the kitchen and the INSIDE of the oven was bright red. The oven locked itself shut as if it was on a clean cycle, and the only thing Bill could do was unplug the unit.

It took the fine people at GE almost a week to call us back. Our model wasn’t recalled, but they wanted to come look at it anyway. By the time they tried to finally come out, the landlord had replaced the unit. Pretty sure I won’t be buying any GE appliances anytime soon!

As if all this wasn’t enough, Bill and I started the next semester of school and Liam went to his first hockey game.


He basically slept through it all, even when daddy (Bill) was recognized as the Hero of the Game for his service in the USMC.




So proud of him!!!

I feel as though I can really get back to writing and querying over the next few weeks. I’m still tired, but not like I was when I was pregnant with Liam. November is National Novel Writing Month and it’s time for me to put out another novel! I’ll be sure to put together a bit about the idea and share with you over the next few days. Hopefully I can get out 50,000 words again this November, even with a toddler, newborn, school, and everything else!

Life

It’s a Boy!!!

After evacuating for the hurricane, we spent the first few days this week trying to get home, then both Bill and I had exams for school to make up because of the hurricane.

We then ended the week with the birth of this little guy. At 3:31 am, EST, on October 15th, we welcomed Liam Amos into the world! He’s a peanut at just 5.1 pounds and 18.5″! Everything went great and I managed to give birth naturally in water. We were home a few hours later. Big sister thinks he’s her personal snuggle baby and just loves him. She LOVES snuggling him and telling him about hockey!




Life

How I Ended Up On The FBI Watch List (Probably)

Okay, so I don’t know for sure if I am actually on the FBI watch list, but it’s a pretty safe bet. Here is what happened:

It started with Isis…the cat, not the terrorist group. In 2010 when I was at the pet supply store with my yellow lab, a kitten up for adoption reached through the cage and started petting my dog on the nose. Her name was Izzy and I took her home. At the time, I was plotting a book (I am yet to write) about ancient Egypt. I had studied some of the goddesses from the era and loved the name Isis. It meant new life, which is what this kitten was getting.


Here is a picture of Isis with our iguana “Hulk.” He has since passed away of old age, but he was pretty cool!

Around the time Isis came home with me, social media started gaining popularity. Of course I was posting pictures of my sweet kitten, left and right. This was also the time the terrorist group started becoming popular. Since we all know the FBI and NSA watch social media, I was sure it was too late to change her name….I was already on the list, I’m sure.

Fast forward to this week. My friend Kim (also a writer) and I were helping each other on some story telling aspects as well as doing some of our own research for our novels. Using social media (we usually talk through Twitter or FB Messaging) we discussed how to blow up a large number of people outside a garage as well as how to traffic small children into the sex trade in India. Do you see the problem here?

Both of these instances are for research for books and not because we actually want to blow anything up or traffic anyone…however, a recent article revealed certain “target” words (target is actually one of the words) used on social media will land you on watch lists.

Keeping in mind my husband is a US Marine and we both LOVE our country, we are rather safe. I may be made of Italian part, but I am 100% American. There is no where else I would rather raise my family. Bill and I are lucky, we are living the American dream, and would never pose a threat to our country or fellow Americans. Even still, I can only imagine what the FBI/NSA/Etc thinks when they look at my social media. I can just see their faces if they were to access my browser history…….and it’s all in the name of literature! (How else can I write the next great American novel?!!!”

I worry one day I will end up in some predicament where my computer is seized and they look at it and think something is going on that really isn’t! I only hope I will be able to explain myself should the FBI come knocking!

Anyway, in other news, today was Story Time for Talia at Barnes and Noble. Daddy brought her because I had to see my shrink first thing this morning (she isn’t your typical shrink….we have a very friendly relationship, and I should probably start thinking about a good Christmas present…).

I met them at the bookstore and I was able to find Night by Elie Wiesel. Instead of waiting for it to come from Amazon, I whipped out my coupon and member card and made the purchase. (It is still cheaper from Amazon if you can wait.) I should have it finished for the book club on Monday, so make sure to follow the blog!

Talia picked out two books to read (well, for us to read to her) and Daddy found her a Dr. Seuss hat!

Also, in case you are wondering….the kitten is STILL here. Today he is helping me write….

I have been averaging about 5,000 words a day on my novel “Seeking Sita,” so maybe the cat isn’t a bad idea after all…..

Military Spouse Life

His Giving Heart

One of the things I love most about my husband is his heart. Saturday, he and my cousin Joey participated in a motorcycle ride to raise money for kids in our area with cancer. When they were done with the main part of the ride, Talia and I caught up with them to follow to the last stop for the after party.

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I don’t know the numbers, but it was cool watching at least 100 bikes pull out.

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One of the local fire departments provided an escort.

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So I got to follow from John’s Island to Wadmalaw Island, South Carolina, (USA).wp-1466965960829.jpg

Beautiful, right? I can’t wait to move!!! Haha!

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These are just SOME of the bikes…..keep in mind, there were a lot of 2 passenger bikes.

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Bill on the left, with Talia (who just woke up) and my cousin Joey. Yes, I know he looks like Corey Feldman….but we are Italian, so I imagine he’s much shorter.

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I have no idea what was so funny here, but everyone had a good time….even if we didn’t know there was a pool and bring someone’s swimsuit. Talia got upset each time she saw the pool. Kid thinks she’s a fish!

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After dinner we headed home……

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with these professional pictures!

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We even had enough time for a bedtime story. Grandma sent a new book and we have only ready it about 200 times!