Thursday, August 29, 2013

Hobbit-ish Potpurri: Oh My Aching...

Hey Humble Readers...

Thank you so much for your words of encouragement on my last post.  I managed to get out for my walk yesterday (bigger bandage on my blisters) and actually got 6km in, plus I did my squats and abs & arms workout.  And by bedtime last night I could hardly walk.  LOL.  My... well, my glutes were aching.  Still are today, so I skipped my walk this morning and did a bunch of housework and grocery shopping instead.  Didn't get all my steps in, but I'm okay with that.  I also found a tip for stretching my new shoes, which I did today.  Tomorrow will be the test. 

I meant to post this yesterday, but the day got away from me.  The winner in my giveaway associated with my interview with J.R. Vikse is Good Timing!  (Had my Beloved do the 'pick a number' thing.)  I'll be in touch soon GT, to arrange for you to get your copy of The Lazy Postman.  The second part of my interview with J.R. will be posted during September's ICLW. 

So, other than a to do list a mile long for tomorrow morning (including packing), I'm feeling very ready for this trip.  I know it's just a couple of hours down the highway and only for the weekend, but I'm almost as excited as I was when we went to NYC.  Almost.  We agreed that we are only going to eat at restaurants that we don't have at home... little local places mostly.  Actually, most of the ones we've chosen have been featured on You Gotta Eat Here (the Canadian version of Diners, Drive Ins, and Dives).  And we have a few fun adventures planned that I'm looking forward to telling you all about next week.  My MIL will get here in the early afternoon tomorrow and then we are off!  Hooray!

Pinterest find of the week:  Ok, actually I found this one a while ago, but I only implemented it about a month ago.  Instead of using shaving foam or soap when you shave your legs, use baby oil.  This is genius!  My legs feel so soft!  I add a step, using a sugar scrub on my legs first, then the baby oil.  I find that I don't have to shave as often, and the baby oil is also supposed to make your blade last longer. 

Tomorrow, Friday, is my Beloved's birthday.  I am so very blessed to have him in my life.  He's a wonderful husband, an amazing father, and my best friend.  This trip is partly to celebrate his birthday, and I also have a big dinner planned for next week, the menu for which is a surprise for him so I'll have to tell you all about it later, just in case he pops on here. 

Well, I'm off to bed.  I want to get a walk in tomorrow morning, and it's going to be a busy day.  Have a great long weekend everyone!

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Kick In The Butt Required

Hey Humble Readers... 

Okay, I need some external motivation. I obviously am not doing well at motivating myself. 

August has been an almost complete write off exercise-wise.  The prolonged crud, and then shoe issues prevented me from my usual walks. 

I 100% acknowledge that I could have been doing workout videos in the house once I was finally healthy again, but I chose to use the lack of walking footwear as an excuse.  I went out on the weekend and bought myself new shoes, and I have gone for walks, albeit shorter than before (only 4.7km) the last two days, but have not done my post-walk workout (squats and weights). 

And you guessed it, I have an excuse. 

The new shoes are, well, new.  The need to be broken in.  Hence I got a blister on my baby toe yesterday.  Not unusual.  I got up this morning at 5 and slapped a Band-Aid on my blister and headed out for my walk. 

Again, I only made it four laps of the neighbourhood because of pain in my baby toe.  I got home, stretched and that was it.  I discovered that somehow, the Band-Aid that I wore this morning had managed, in co-operation with my new shoes, to create a blood blister on the tip of my toe. 

Ask me how motivated I am to go for my walk tomorrow morning.  I dare you. 

Please, can someone give me a pep talk?  I need a serious kick in my still-substantial posterior to get myself back in gear. 

Monday, August 26, 2013

The Dirty Word: A Hobbit-ish Paradigm Shift

Hey Humble Readers...

Feminism was never on my radar.  The idea of being a feminist, someone who burned their bra and participated in protests, and screamed about women's rights wasn't someone I wanted to be.  Not intentionally, but through learned behaviour. 

"Feminist" was as bad as the other "f-word" in my bio-family when I was growing up.  Not that it was ever stated outright.  Implications, unspoken lessons, and unwritten rules shaped who I was as a girl and young woman. 

My bio-dad would make drunken comments about that 'femi-nazi' at the bank, the liquor store, or the post office who didn't serve him in the manner he felt he deserved.  From my bio-mom I learned that women who spoke up or spoke out didn't get love, because the love of a man, any man, was better than being alone.  Women were supposed to be sweet and agreeable, and never push too hard for what they needed because the man's needs were more important, and women get their worth from the man who loves them.  From my bio-grandma, I learned that women are the caretakers, the cleaning ladies, and the child-bearers... and as such women didn't have the authority to speak up for their own well-being and safety, and that a woman wasn't equipped intellectually or spiritually to be able to teach boys over the age of 12 at church (seriously, she practically disowned me when I told her I wanted to go into youth ministry).  Even the pastor who performed my confirmation tried to steer me into a 'more appropriate' career path, to be a Lutheran deaconess (ministry professional) rather than youth ministry, where I felt called. 

My other family, the family of my heart, was much more vocal about rights, although they certainly aren't anything close to activists.  There the anti-feminist message was more subtle.  Mom would always look to the douchewaffle (formerly known as Dad) for the final word on a given situation.  Not that I see that as a bad thing in and of itself... in any family there sometimes has to be someone to make the final judgement call.  But given how things have played out in their relationship, I do see it as a power play that left my Mom in a vulnerable spot.  Mom has always been a strong lady.  I think she downplayed her own abilities to make the douchewaffle feel better about himself, and she did it so often that she started to believe it herself.  As an aside, the douchewaffle actually said to me once when I was in my late teens or early twenties, when we were discussing donating blood, that women technically could donate more often because they 'get rid of their bad blood every month', of course implying that menstruation is somehow dirty and the blood from our uteruses is tainted (rather than just unneeded). 

Throughout my college career, I was surrounded by strong women and men who taught me that spiritual giftings know no gender.  That women and men are equal in the eyes of God.  I was encouraged, challenged, and grew to understand that as a woman, a woman of faith, I had a role to play.  In my church, in my family, in my world. 

But still, I wouldn't ever have considered myself a feminist.  That was still some kind of dirty word. 

I have been blessed with a wonderful husband, who genuinely supports me in anything I do or want to do.  He doesn't see value based on gender, but in the actions and accomplishments of the individual.  He has never treated me as anything but an equal and a partner in all our endeavours as a couple and a family. 

It wasn't until I was deep in the trenches with my battle with IF/RPL that I began to sense a change in my attitude toward feminism. 

Part of it came from what I started to learn about reproductive rights, and what was going on south of the border.  In Canadian politics, reproductive rights are not talked about all that often.  The abortion issue was decided in 1988 when "the Supreme Court of Canada struck down the abortion regulation which allowed abortions in some circumstances but required approval of a committee of doctors for violating a woman's constitutional "security of person"" (Wikipedia).  Since then, the issue is strictly avoided by Parliament, most of the time, and when it does rear its ugly head, it tends to get kicked to the curb pretty quickly.  This doesn't mean, however, that there is availability or access everywhere across the country (there is no access to abortion in Prince Edward Island, and in New Brunswick it isn't covered under the provincial medical program).  Assisted reproductive therapy is a different story though.  The legalities are still a bit on the fuzzy side.  Cloning is, of course, verboten.  And it is illegal to sell gametes (sperm, eggs), but they can be donated.  Surrogacy is complicated by both federal and provincial legislations, which don't always agree.  Coverage of fertility treatments by provincial health care also varies across the country. 

Part of my feminist awareness arose from a statement that I read on Mel's blog several years ago now, that opened my eyes in a way I never expected.  She said that if we want to fight for reproductive rights as they pertain to assisted reproductive therapies, we MUST ALSO support a woman's right to choose.  They are part and parcel.  You can't have one without the other.  I had to really think on that for a long time before I could say that I agreed.  Would I ever get an abortion?  No.  Would I suggest it to someone?  Not likely. Would I counsel someone against it?  Probably.  But I cannot, in good conscience, say that it is wrong for a woman to be able to determine what happens with her body.  No one has that right, except the woman in question. 

But the tipping point for me, when I felt that I had to change how I thought about feminism, was when we finally had children.  And not just because we have a daughter, but also for our son. 

I want them both to grow up in a world where their gender does not define their abilities, their opportunities, or their limitations.  I want Ginny to be able to do and be whoever and whatever she wants to be.  I don't want her to ever think of herself as less or more, simply because she has 'indoor plumbing'.  And in the same way, I don't ever want Pippin to think of himself as fundamentally better or worse than someone by virtue of his genitalia. 

I recently read an article about men's rights organizations (advocate for fair custodial settlements and for those who are falsely accused of sexual assault), about how their demographics are changing.  No longer are their ranks made up mainly of fathers who just want equal opportunity to raise their children, but angry young men (primarily 18-25 year olds) who generally use threats of violence, usually of a sexual nature, against women who speak out for gender equality and equity.  The article scared me a bit.  I don't want my son to grow up thinking that feminists are all vitriolic man-haters, and I don't want my daughter to grow up thinking that all men are out to push women down and prone to violence.  I have never liked generalizations like that. 

I will teach my wee-lings that gender does not limit or solely define who we are.  That we all have the right to determine what happens to our bodies.  That marriage is a partnership between equals, not a battle to be won (don't get me started on all those engagement photos on Pinterest that imply 'the hunt is over', etc). 

For better or for worse, this hobbit is a feminist. 

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Sunday Night Chit Chat: This & That

Howdy Humble Readers...
Miss Ginny at the park

Pippin hangin' out in the front yard 

I hope you've all had a great weekend. 

(Before I forget... J.R. has released a sneak peek of his upcoming book release on his website.  Click over to check it out, and if you don't know what or who I'm talking about, go here to read my interview with author J.R.Vikse and enter my giveaway!)

Things in the hobbit-hole were hoppin' yesterday.  My Beloved and the Wee-lings left for Little Town To The South at around 8:30 in the morning.  I got to work on painting the bath and hall by 9:00.  I was still at it when they got home at 8:00 last night, but I was doing extra, unplanned painting in our front entryway.  It wasn't until ten o'clock last night that I was able to take a shower and scrub off all the splatters and splotches.  I was hoping to have before and after pics for you all, but there are still a few details (like a new mirror, which won't be getting purchased until next weekend) that need to be installed.  Overall, I'm happy with the results.  It's much brighter, and feels a bit more spa-like. 

Today has been much less productive, in large part due to a lousy night's sleep and aching muscles.  I managed to get myself to Wa.lma.rt to buy myself some new walking shoes.  Hopefully they last longer than the last pair (not from Wally World, but from a chain shoe store). 

Something I learned yesterday (beyond the fact that painting a bathroom sucks)... I don't handle separation from my family well.  Specifically, me being at home by myself, with them out of town.  It was surprising and honestly a bit upsetting to discover that I was very anxious as they were leaving.  Off and on throughout the day, waves of uneasiness would wash over me.  It's odd, because I've never had this issue before, like when I've gone to Big City To The North with the girls.  I'm hoping it's just a phase. 

And speaking of phases... I say this in a whisper, as I don't want to jinx it, but it appears that Ginny is coming out of her "I don't want to feed myself" phase.  She's very proud of herself when she finishes eating in a timely manner, and when she hasn't needed any help from us.  One thing that may have helped is that we are now allowing her to have a cup with a bit of water at dinner time.  She's one of those kids who would fill herself on a drink and not eat, so the rule has always been that beverages come after meal time.  Now, at dinner, she gets a special cup half full of water, and she's allowed to take sips after every few bites.   I don't know if there's a correlation, but I'm happy nonetheless.

Onto this week's chit chat.  Here's what I'm...

Reading...  Mistress Of My Fate by Hallie Rubenhold.  The jury is still out on it.  Parts of it makes me think of a regency era Twilight, but other parts are quite good.  We'll have to see how it comes together at the end.  Not sure what's on deck, as I am at the top of the wait list at the library for the Robert Gailbraith (aka JK Rowling) novel.  We'll see if I get a call from them in the next couple of days. 

Watching...  A Mythbusters marathon.  I love those guys. 

Listening to...  my Beloved mutter to himself as he studies for his next CGA exam. 

Cooking/Baking...  Tonight was pretty tame.  Steaks with compound butter, mashed potatoes, and roasted carrots and broccoli.  I had some of my no sugar added, lactose free maple walnut ice cream for dessert (it actually tastes a lot better than it sounds). 

Happy I Accomplished This Week...  Ummm, well I painted the bathroom, the hall, the entry way and coat closet.  While I actually gained back a few pounds, I discovered I HAVE A COLLAR BONE!  You can see it, a little.  It's been missing for the last decade or so. 

Looking Forward To Next Week... This week is going to be a challenge.  Lots to do, and a short time to get it done.  But it's all for a good reason... VACATION!  My daily to do lists are a little crazy, but I am adamant that I won't leave anything in the hobbit-hole for my MIL (who will be here to care for the Wee-lings) to clean or reorganize. 

Thankful for... That my family is safe and sound, under our roof.

***Bonus Question*** Are you sad that summer is coming to an end, or looking forward to the fall months? I have always loved autumn.  It's always been a season of beginnings.  My birthday, the start of the school year (which I have always loved, even when my life hasn't been defined by school), the lead up to the holidays, the cooler weather after the heat of summer.  All of it breathes new life into my soul. 

This is posted as a part of Carla's Sunday Night Chit Chat.  Pop over and check out what the others are chatting about tonight. 

Friday, August 23, 2013

Hobbit-ish Potpurri: A Tale Of Two Dressers

Howdy Humble Readers...

First and foremost, if you're here from ICLW, check out my introductory post here.  And if you are looking for my interview with up & coming author, J.R. Vikse, check it out here.  Don't forget to enter for the giveaway of J.R.'s debut novel The Lazy Postman (and don't forget to check back next month for the second part of my interview with him about his new book, The Keeper Chronicles: Playing With Fire). 

I'm taking a break from my prep for the painting I'm going to be doing this weekend (sooooo sick of plaster dust from filling dings and holes), just so I can come chat with you fine folks.  The hallway is completely prepped now... holes filled, sanded, and trim/doorframes are taped.  Bathroom is almost ready to go.  I need to tape the trim and take down the medicine cabinet (I hate the thing.  It's going into the dumpster).  Other than just painting, I'm completely reorganizing our little bathroom, so I stocked up on storage containers for under the sink at the dollar store.  I also bought hooks for our towels (not enough room for towel bars for all four of us), a new towel ring for the hand towel, and a shelving unit for over the toilet.  My Beloved and the wee-lings are heading down south to my MIL's place for the day, so that I can have the hobbit-hole to myself.  Yay!

It's a hazy warm day here in the Shire, I think from the wild fires burning south of the border.  We've actually had a really nice stretch of weather the last week or so.  Warm but not too humid, and cool at night so we can sleep.  A nice change from the majority of the summer, which has either been soggy or muggy.

I'm in a quandary, Humble Readers.  My Beloved and I decided that for our birthdays (his at the end of the month, mine is the middle of next month) we are going to buy new dressers for our bedroom.  Since before Ginny was born, my Beloved has been using a laundry basket for clothes storage, because we stole his dresser and painted it for the nursery.  The dresser I have is a cheapo-pressboard-piece-of-junk that's falling apart.  For quite a long time I have been fixated on a dresser from Ik.ea...
Hemnes 3 drawer dresser - $149.99
image courtesy
I actually really like the bigger version, the one with 5 drawers, but two of those is not an option budget-wise.  While I was on their website, I came across this...
Tarva 5 drawer dresser - $139.99
image courtesy

It's bigger and actually cheaper than the three drawer unit above.  I like the general style of it, but it's natural pine, which means I would have to stain it or paint it.  I have never stained anything before, so I'm not sure how good I would be at that.  Painting would probably be a better option because I have done that in the past... but then the issue of where I would paint them, and keep the wee-lings away from them while they dry. 

Any thoughts?  Suggestions?

I have to report that the lack of exercise over the last several weeks due to the lingering crud has taken its toll.  I have gained back a few pounds (of course, I'm too pathetic to record that on my tickers).  Gah!  And to add insult to injury, the new walking shoes I bought  back in June are already headed to the trash.  The insoles are shredded and there are already holes in the toes.  Grrr... I spent a decent amount of money on them.  And the only other shoes I have to walk in are my Up.s, which hurt my toes.  Not exactly motivating.  I am going to have to get a new pair of shoes, it's just dang frustrating. 

Pippin just got his one year vaccinations on Wednesday, only three months late.  He's doing pretty well with them, only a bit of a fever yesterday and some general grumpiness.  He's over 25lbs now, and 32.5 inches tall.  He's catching up to Ginny so fast.  Too fast.  I talked to the nurse about his lack of talking, and she told me not to be concerned just yet.  Because he's a second child, and a boy, it's very common that speech can be a bit delayed.  She gave me some suggestions to help him strengthen the muscles in his face and how to encourage him to talk.  It's apparent that he understands much of what we are saying.  He responds to most directions and comments directed at him.  He dances to music, and he likes to laugh, squeal, make lots of little boy noises.  I guess I just need to be patient.  The nurses also suggested that we hound Dr. B to get Pippin in to an allergist, given the extent of his eczema.  Most doctors around here like to wait until the little ones are closer to two years old before they go the allergist route. 

Well, I should get back to work on the prep for painting.  Pippin has just crashed in his playpen, and Ginny is snoozing in the nursery, which means I have about an hour of uninterrupted work time.  Woohooo!

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Author Moment: An Interview with J.R. Vikse (Part The First)

Hey Humble Readers...

Today I bring you something different from my usual ramblings about life with an ent and two wee-lings.  I think it's actually pretty special. 

A friend of mine, a blogger, actor, fellow bibliophile, and author is getting set to release a new book next month, the first in a fantasy trilogy for young adults called The Keeper Chronicles: Playing With Fire and he has agreed to let me pick his brain, not once but twice, about his work as a writer.  The second half of this interview will be posted during September's ICLW. 

J.R. Vikse

Before we begin, I want you to imagine someone who is a combination of Harry Potter, Niles Crane (from Frasier) and Eric Forman (from That 70s Show) in both looks and personality, and that's my friend J.R. Vikse.  He's funny, smart, creative (who else could come up with the most excellent game called "Most Likely To...") and is the reigning champ of our "Six Degrees of Separation" tournaments that helped to pass many slow winter afternoons in the bookstore where we both worked.  I can genuinely say I knew him way back when... :) 

So J.R., why don’t you tell my readers a little bit about yourself?
I was born, as so many are, as a baby.  From that point on, a variety of events happened which had a variety of consequences and eventually led me to this interview.  In the meantime, I grew up in the medium-sized city of Kelowna, British Columbia, Canada, where I earned my degree in history and met and married my incredible wife, Krista.  We then moved to Victoria, BC, where I wrote my first novel, The Lazy Postman, and spent a great deal of my free time onstage, as a theatrical actor and director.  In my non-free time, I worked in a plethora of bookstores, which afforded me the opportunity to read an absolutely ridiculous amount of books, as well as meet and work with my friend Mrs. Gamgee, the gracious host of this blog.  My wife and I currently live in Melbourne, Australia, where I have been doing more writing, acting, and directing, all while surrounded by people with funny accents. 
When and why did you start to write?
As is so often the case, my love of writing began exactly where it ought to: in the library.  I was an early reader and as a child was encouraged by my parents to read lots and read often, developing my imagination through the power of the written word.  It even got to the point of being used as my punishment (no quiet times for me; if I was a bad boy, I was grounded from reading!).  In high school I had an English teacher who encouraged us to write a little every day in class.  So we had fifteen minutes to write whatever we wanted to write: poetry, stories, journaling, etc.  And there began my love of writing (thanks, Mr. Issler!) as a purely entertaining activity.  I didn't start writing short stories with the aim of actually finishing them until six years later, but once I started, I couldn't be stopped!  Now my brain no longer turns off, but continues to send stories to my fingers, forcing them to dance on the keyboard like authorial marionettes.  I am a huge proponent of the idea that concepts can best be taught through fiction, and that storytelling is THE method of passing on culture, ideas, morality, social conscience, etc.  After all, they're called heroes for a reason, right?

Available at
Paperback and Kindle editions
You’ve published a book prior to this new one (The Keeper Chronicles: Playing with Fire).  Can you tell us a bit about The Lazy Postman?
The Lazy Postman was an accidental novel.  It was meant to be a short story, and then grew out of control until suddenly I had a full book on my hands!  The story details two weeks in the life of Jordan Melville, a recent high-school graduate who is, for the first time, living on his own in a new city.  Everything is going swimmingly until he realizes that he is receiving all the mail for his entire housing complex and is forced to deliver it to his new neighbours.  As he meets them and is introduced to their eccentricities, he discovers that the world outside of his childhood bubble is more complex, and more hilarious, than he'd ever expected.  Soon, Jordan is inserting himself into their lives, reading their mail, and getting into situations that make him confront the reality of relationships in all their complicated glory.  The Lazy Postman is a book about connecting with people, and all the hysteria, hilarity, and heartache that can result. 
This new series is significantly different from The Lazy Postman.  What made you go in a different direction?
Like I said before, The Lazy Postman was a bit of an experiment.  I wanted to see if I could write a full story in an extended format.  It turns out that I could, and so I decided to put my mind to a more complete and intentional project.  The Keeper Chronicles is the extension of that decision.  It's really been about me maturing as a writer and being best able to give the reader an incredible experience.  Once the idea for this story presented itself to me, I invested my time and energy into a full pre-production process, scribbling pages of notes in my own chaotic version of an encyclopaedia.  I even sketched a few designs and maps which will never see the light of day, as I am not an illustrator of any kind!  For me, this project has been about aiming to bring order and discipline to the passion project that writing has always been for me.  The entire trilogy, not just Playing With Fire, is mapped out, with full characters and plot points ready to go.  The writing experience has been very different because of that.  The fact that it's fantasy, and therefore one of the most creative of all literary styles, in my mind, is the icing on the cake.  I've always loved youth fantasy, and it has been a pleasure to delve into this side of writing and pursue the creative with the safety net of actually knowing what I'm doing this time!  I am very excited about this project, and about Playing With Fire particularly!

Is there anything you can tell us about the new book to whet our appetites?
Ooooh, you're a naughty, naughty girl for asking that!  This project has been wrapped up in more secrecy than a J.J. Abrams film!  I have released a blurb that will adorn the back jacket of the book, which I will post again here:

Under the guidance and protection of the Keepers, the world of Tranthaea has been at peace for five hundred years.  But all of that is about to change...

Callum Swift, a fifteen-year-old pickpocket, and Jingwei Li, a sixteen-year-old environmentalist, are just trying to live their lives as best they can. The challenges of school, work, and awkward relationships are all that they have time for each day, and every night when they go home; Callum to the dirty streets of London and Jingwei to an uncaring foster home in L.A., each of them wonders what it would feel like to be wanted. Until, that is, they discover they may have unexpectedly developed powerful new abilities.

When they are transported to the strange and unfamiliar world of Tranthaea, they have no idea what is expected of them, and even less of an idea of what's in store for them. Tested by shifting allegiances, incredible creatures, and powerful enemies, Jingwei and Callum are asked to defend the world from an unknown attacker with an unknown agenda. But are they able to accept the responsibility, or will their new powers be too much for them to handle? Faced with impossible decisions, Callum and Jingwei are forced to rely upon one another to find the courage they'll need to survive.

I won't be giving to much more away before it's published, but what I can tell you is that over the next couple of weeks I will be releasing some excerpts from the prologues of Playing with Fire on my website (, so check it out and you'll get a sneak-peek at the two lead characters, Jingwei Li and Callum Swift. 

In the meantime, I can say that contained within the pages of this book are some of my favourite characters of those that I have written.  Jingwei Li, especially, was a true pleasure to write.  She is a very strong, forthright girl, who refuses to take any nonsense from anyone else, and more often than not speaks her mind, often to hilarious effect.  She was incredibly freeing to write, and I would often laugh out loud (and still do) at some of the things she says, and the inopportune times she chooses to say them.  In one scene, when she is being presented to a person of no small importance, she introduces herself and Callum.  The other party notes: "You speak for him.  Is he your servant?"  Jingwei responds, "Not yet... but we've only just met."  I look forward to introducing her to the readers with great anticipation. 
Writers are quirky folks.  Do you have any idiosyncrasies when it comes to your creative endeavors?
Certainly more than my wife wishes I had!  I do have the tendency to require absolute silence to write.  The noise of traffic, a dishwasher running, or even loud birds (of which there are many in Australia, I can tell you!) can knock my brain off-track.  This means that my most creative moments are often in the middle of the night/early morning when I jump out of bed to write down my newest, greatest idea before it fades into the dream from whence it came.  Of course the irony of this is that I am told that I am a very noisy writer; I mutter, click my tongue, pop my lips, tap my fingers, and hmmm and haw audibly.  As so many other writers do, I also always have to have something handy to jot down notes in; my phone will do in a pinch.  Inspiration will strike at the most inopportune moments, and I'll often interrupt dinner, a walk, or a night out with friends to jot down whatever brilliant thought hit me and is threatening to fly away, unexplored.
I also need a pen close at hand.  Preferably one that can come apart into multiple pieces.  If it can be put back together again as well, all the better. 
When does Playing With Fire hit Amazon?
I'm hoping for a release date of September 9, 2013.  This is, of course, dependent on how quickly the Amazon folks do whatever technological magic they need to do to make sure it's up and available on time, and perhaps even more dependent on the final editing drafts going as smoothly as possible, but barring any natural disasters, September 9 is the target date. 
Thanks for taking the time to hang out with us today, J.R.!  I'm very excited about Playing with Fire and can't wait to read it. 
And Humble Readers, I have a little bonus for you.  I'm giving away a copy of J.R.'s book The Lazy Postman this week!  It's a fun read, and there just might be another give away with the second part of my interview with J.R. next month!  To enter, just leave me a comment and tell me about the your most recent new-to-you author that you've started reading.  The winner will be announced on August 28th! 
And if you don't win the giveaway, you can always go to Amazon to get a copy for yourself!

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

ICLW: A Hobbit-ish Alphabet

Howdy Humble Readers & ICLW Visitors...

Welcome to my little corner of the blogosphere.  It's been quite a while since I've participated in ICLW, so I thought I'd go old school and let you in on some randomness about me and my family. 

A - Age... 38, soon to be 39.

B - Books... I have a lot of books!  Three Billy bookcases from Ikea full.  That doesn't include my cookbooks, or the bookcase full of books in the nursery.  Former occupational hazard, as I worked in bookstores for more than ten years.  I have to go through them regularly to purge them.  My recently read list can be found on "The Library" tab at the top of this page.

C - Car... we only have one.  Tilly the Toyota.  She's a good car, and gets us from point A to point B efficiently and comfortably.  Always a mess, and if we have the stroller in the trunk I can't bring home groceries.

D - The Big D... yup, I'm type II diabetic.  Started as gestational diabetes when I was pregnant with Ginny.  And then again when I was expecting Pip.  Just before Pip's first birthday I was diagnosed with the Big D, and have been working my weight (check out the tickers on the right) and keeping my blood sugars in line. 

E - Eats... One can't be a hobbit without loving food.  Hence the Big D, right?  I love cooking, trying new recipes, and experiencing new foods.  Life with the Big D is just a different foodie adventure.

F - Family... mine is all sorts of screwed up.  Check out the "Cast of Characters" tab up top to learn more about my truly bizarre, needs a diagram to understand who's who family. 

G - The girls... friends I don't get to hang out with often enough.  But when we do get together, we can talk the hind leg off a mule

H - Husband... my Beloved!  My wonderful ent, who keeps me grounded.  Tall, methodical, logical (aggravatingly so at times), and not easily frazzled, he balances my flighty and irrational tendencies well. 

I - Infertility diagnosis... Recurrent pregnancy loss,  due to a progesterone deficiency and a slightly septate uterus.  Thankfully, I had a wonderful OB as I was navigating the rough waters of RPL.  After our second early loss, he jumped right in with the testing we needed to find out what was going on.  You can see our journey to parenthood on "The Quest" tab up top. 

J - Jeans... none of mine fit.  Again.  They're all too big.  If I leave the house I have to wear a belt, which I strongly dislike.  No new clothes in the budget for a couple of months. 

K - Klutzy... that's me.  I'm known for my ability to hurt myself in the safest of situations.  If I can get a papercut, sprain an ankle, or fall down the stairs, you can bet I'm going to do it.  Currently I'm dealing with a three-day kink in my neck.  Only someone as klutzy as me could go to sleep and wake up injured. 

L - the Library... feeding my new addiction to tv shows that I just can't get through our current cable package.  Shows like Sherlock, Rome, and Game of Thrones (11th on the wait list... getting closer to watching season 2!)

M - Music... I have rather random tastes in music. Currently on my phone I have... Country (Dean Brody, Carrie Underwood, Miranda Lambert), rock (Avril Lavigne), Atlantic Canadian folk (Great Big Sea, Irish Decendants, the Rankins), pop (Beyonce, Kelly Clarkson, and of course my beloved boy bands), and novelty stuff (Moxie Fruvus, Captain Tractor).

N - Not a green thumb... I am notorious for my ability to kill plants.  Remarkably I have been able to keep two basil plants, a planter full of thyme, a gerbera daisy, and even a recovering lavender plant alive all summer.  My quandary now is what to do with these plants once the frosts come. 

O - Online... where my Beloved and I met.  Matched on eH.armony seven and a half years ago.  Signing up for their matchmaking service was the best money I ever spent.

P - Pinterest... yes, I'm an addict. 

Q - Quinoa... a staple in my diet these days.  Yeah, I know.  But really how many words do you expect me to think of that start with Q?

R - Roasted Veggies... My new favourite food.  I'm not kidding.  I could eat roasted broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, asparagus, zucchini all day long.  If I can drizzle it with olive oil and sprinkle on a little salt and pepper, I lurve it!!!

S - The Shire... the little city I call home.  On the Canadian flatland, just east of the mountains I love.

T - Tomorrow... something fun and different here at he hobbit hole.  Come back and check it out!

U - Uniquely Useful... my favourite kitchen gadget is my Rachael Ray food mover.  It's a bench scraper with sides attached so that I can scoop up chopped veggies, etc and dump them into a pot easily.  I swear I use it every day.

V - Vacation... A  mini one anyway.  Coming up soon!  Yay!  Just me and my Beloved in the Big City To The South over Labour Day weekend.  My MIL is coming to look after the wee-lings.  This will be our first jaunt without the wee-lings.  I'm looking forward to this so much.  (That sounds absolutely horrible... I really do adore my children.  Honest!)  Four days of good restaurants, fun shopping, and adventures with my Beloved. 

W - Wee-lings... Our wee sweet girl, Ginny, is two and a half (33 months actually) going on fifteen.  Pippin is our wee little man, currently 15 months old, and still not talking at all.  (I'm trying not to be concerned.)

X - Xtra Xcited... (another stretch, I know) I'm looking forward to doing some pseudo-homeschooling with Ginny starting this fall.  We aren't going to be too terribly structured, but I'm planning an hour or so a day to get her exploring new ideas and concepts.  Sometimes it will be letters/numbers oriented, sometimes it will be more about motor skills, and sometimes it will be artistic/creative.  Should be fun. 

Y - Yikes!  Your friendly neighbourhood hobbit is terrified of birds.  Anything with feathers and anything that flies. 

Z - Zero tolerance... for loud chewers.  Dang it, close your mouth when you chew, people!  LOL

So, tell me... what's something random about you?  Pick a letter and spill the beans!

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Sunday Night Chit Chat: Dog Days Of Summer

Howdy Humble Readers...
Just a funny for you to remind you that
it's only FIVE MONTHS until
the return of Downton Abbey!  :)
Source unknown, via Pinterest

I hope you all had a good weekend.  Ours was productive, but blissfully calm.  Grocery shopping, a trip to the farmers market and library, and some final decisions on paint colours for our bathroom and hallway (and a rather expensive trip to the hardware store for supplies).  The only blight on the last few days was the fact that I woke up this morning with a wretched kink in my neck and shoulder that I just can't budge. 

It's been a good week in regards to my weight-loss journey.   I have officially hit the 70lb mark.  This is remarkable considering the lingering crud has kept me from being able to exercise hardly at all for the past few weeks.  I was stuck for quite a while at around 66lb and, as usual, I started to doubt that I would be able to continue to move forward.  It's a tape that plays in my head about how this is the limit, that I won't be able to lose another pound, and that the numbers on the scale will start creeping back up again.  I know it's nonsense, but it's what starts going through my mind. 

One thing that I'm really and truly struggling with is wrapping my brain around the fact that I have lost so much weight already.  I see the commercials on tv for different weight loss programs and exercise equipment (I lust after the bowfl.ex treadc.limber... it would make my quandary about how to get my exercise in during the winter moot) and I see all the spokespeople who have lost 40, 50, and more pounds.  I am shocked to think that I could be one of them.  I still see myself as the 300+ pound lump I was for so long.  And I have moments of surprise... like this morning I was stretched out on the couch and I had room to pull Ginny up to snuggle with me.  I could hardly do that when she was brand new, let alone now that she's my big 2 and a half year old girl.  I know it's going to take time for me to become used to the changes my body is experiencing. 

One other thing that must be mentioned today... If my second angel baby, Olivia, had been born on her due date, she would be four years old today.  In a rather ironic coincidence, or perhaps even a cruel twist of fate, tonight's Disney movie on CBC was "Up".  Ginny loves to see the Disney movies on Sunday night, so I couldn't very well not let her watch it.  I made sure to be out of the room for the first fifteen minutes or so, because I just couldn't handle that on today of all days. 

Anywho, onto tonight's chit chat.  Here's what I'm...

Reading - I finished Fried Green Tomatoes At The Whistle Stop Café by Fannie Flagg yesterday and have just begun Mistress Of My Fate by Hallie (something or other, can't remember right now).  It's a Regency/Jane Austen-esque era novel about a young woman, formerly of good means, who has to find her own way in the world after being orphaned and abandoned by her family.  I'm only a few pages in, but I like the main character's voice already. 

Watching - Nothing in particular right now.  The finale of Whodunnit will be on later this evening, so I'll watch that.  I finally finished watching Rome and thoroughly enjoyed it.  I'm sorry it only lasted two seasons.  I'm now into the BBC series Sherlock (with Benedict Cumberbatch who played Khan in the most recent Star Trek, and Martin Freeman who plays Bilbo Baggins in the Hobbit movies).  I've only watched one episode, but I loved it. 

Listening To - The whir of the fan, a pledge drive on PBS. 

Cooking/Baking - Tonight's dinner was a new recipe, and was a grand success.  It was a Spanish mixed grill (chicken, shrimp, and chorizo... marinated with lemon, garlic, and herbs), and a rice pilaf salad with green bell peppers, tomato, cucumber, and peas .  Very yummy!  Even Ginny ate it with a minimum of fuss and cajoling. 

Happy I Accomplished This Week - Met Mom's beau... seems like a decent guy.  He doesn't say much, so it's hard to have a really clear picture of who he is.  I'll need to come up with a bloggy name for him.  Bought my painting supplies.  Stuck to my daily and weekly to do lists.

Looking Forward To Next Week - Painting next Saturday (my Beloved will be taking the wee-lings down to spend the day with his mom, so I will be alone to do the painting.  I just hope I can get it all done in one day), prepping for the aforementioned painting (filling holes, sanding, etc), and a FUN SURPRISE FOR MY BLOGGY BUDDIES!  Tune in on the 22nd to find out! 

Thankful For - The support of my Beloved, and my family and friends for this on-going weight loss saga.

***Bonus Question*** What is your favourite candy treat?  Before diabetes became a part of my life during my pregnancy with Ginny, I would have told you that while I like the occasional sweet, I was just not a sweets person.  Of course now, my sweet tooth is in perpetual hyperdrive.  There was, however, one candy bar that I just loved, and would indulge in once in a while.  It was called Take Five... layers of chocolate, caramel, pretzel, nuts, and peanut butter.  Candy perfection!  I don't think it's still being manufactured, but I couldn't indulge in it even if it was. 

This was posted as a part of Carla's Sunday Night Chit Chat.  Pop on over and check out what the others are chatting about this evening. 

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Summer With Ginny: Lost in Translation

Hey Humble Readers...
It's been quite a while since I've done an update on my wee sweet girl, so I thought I'd let you know what she's up to these days. 
I'm a fishy!
First and foremost, she is genuinely a happy girl.  Of course she has her moments of outright two-ness, but she is always looking for opportunities to laugh and giggle. 
I jump Mummy?
Ginny is a very helpful little girl.  She can put her breakfast and lunch dishes in the dishwasher, pick up her toys ("pick up, put away!"), and put things in the recycling.  She tries to make her bed, but doesn't quite have the arm length to make that work.  She helps put the laundry in the washer, and she likes to help me sort her laundry from Pippin's.  Ginny likes to help in the kitchen, and her favourite is to help me make meatballs. 
She is still a little OCD about certain things.  The baby gate must ALWAYS be closed.  Her shoes go into a very specific cubby on our shoe rack.  If Ginny was using the orange bib last night, she MUST use it again in the morning. 
Very first ride at the fair.
While her vocabulary is immense and sometimes surprising, there have been some funny Ginny-isms that have become part of our family dialogue.  For example, she has two different terms for blankets... "glansents" or "cozy ket".  For several weeks back in the spring, whenever we would get into the car she would say "go wurmit?"  We had no idea what she was saying until one day she saw a commercial on tv and started saying "go wurmit!" over and over.  "Payto" is interchangeably both potato and tomato, depending on what's on her plate.  My Beloved's briefcase is known as the "soup-case". 
First ride all by herself
Ginny will get stuck on a phrase, and it will dominate her conversations for weeks at a time.  "Happy Bir-day" was really popular for quite a while.  Over and over again she would wish us all a happy birthday, and would want us to go through when all of our birthdays are.  She knows that her birthday (end of November) is in the winter when the snow is on the ground, that Pippin's is in the spring with the flowers, and that my Beloved and I have birthdays coming up in a few weeks.  One thing that she got very excited about was when she was able to say "Happy Bir-day liddle prince!" last month.  She said it over and over for several days. 
The BIIIIIIIG slide!
While recently, she's become attached to the word "sorry" (like a good Canadian girl) and says it repeatedly even in situations that are absolutely no way her fault, one phrase that was particularly frustrating was "It's ok.  Ax-dents happen."  She would say it constantly all day long, usually when she did something deliberately naughty (like throwing her plate on the floor, or pushing Pip over).  Thankfully we're past that phrase, at least for the time being. 
Ridin' the horsey!
She's 36.5 inches tall (just barely tall enough to go on the baby rides at the fair), she weighs right around 30 pounds, and is finally almost done with her teething.  Just one more molar to go!  We are in one of the rare sweet spots with her growth where her pants fit, both in length and around her waist.  Usually it's one or the other.  She can put her shoes on by herself (except for her lace-up shoes), and can manage to get her shirt on by herself most of the time, although it takes some time. 
Sharing goldfish crackers with Pip
She's pretty good about using her manners.  She says "please" and "thank you" fairly regularly, "bless you" whenever someone sneezes, "excuse me" when she "floofs". 
At a clown show
Ginny really and truly loves her little brother, sometimes to his detriment.  She can make him laugh like no one else, and at the same time she can make him scream in frustration.  She's much more comfortable with the idea that he's allowed to walk around, but the idea of sharing toys is still in process. 
Snoozing in the car with Stanley & Red Kitty
While naptime and bedtime is a breeze, mealtimes are a challenge.  Meals can easily take an hour from the time we sit down until she gets up from the table.  She's resistant to using cutlery, even though she does know how.  I think she gets bored with the whole eating process, as she will stop eating on her own a few bites in, but if we cave and spoon feed her she'll eat everything on her plate.  The exception to the rule is ice cream (of course).  Other than sweets, her favourite foods are all veggies... "kee-cumbers", "paytos", "bwoccli".
Readin' stories with Auntie P
Ginny can be shy with strangers, but she will quickly start telling you all about Stanley and Red Kitty (who are an important part of her world), and about her scraped knees if you let her.  She loves the slide at the park, but hates the swings.  She loves to "go shoppin'" and to look at "pit-churs on the puter".  Her favourite tv show is Daniel Tiger's Neighbourhood, and her favourite book is "Chicka chicka Boom Boom".  She often asks me to sing the "meatball song" ( On Top Of Spaghetti). 
My little Honey-Bear
There are times when she makes me want to tear my hair out, but then she just looks up at me with her big hazel eyes and I just melt.  I can't even begin to think about what our life was like before she was here. 

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Sunday Night Chit Chat: The Return Of Summer

Hey Humble Readers...

I think I am finally starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel that is this wretched cold.  I'm not going to count my chickens before they're hatched, though, because this cold has faked me out already.  I was sure I was over it last weekend, only for it to come back and pummel me again.  Still have a cough and some sinus congestion, but my ears have finally popped, for which I am incredibly thankful. 

We again spent most of the weekend with my Beloved's family in a small town to the south of us.  Happily, the rain that has been plaguing us for the majority of this summer took a break, and we actually had some great weather for the last couple of days.  It means that the wee-lings spent a good amount of time in the wading pool, beating the heat.  I got a couple of funny sunburn spots on the backs of my shoulders, where I couldn't reach with the sunscreen.  You can actually see my finger marks on one side.  :/
Hmmmm... wonder how this tastes?

Ginny & Thor

Pippin & Pepper
Today, after the wee-lings were done in the pool (read: their lips were blue), they started having fun with sidewalk chalk (a first for Ginny and Pip).  My BIL & SIL have a long driveway and the wee-lings and their cousin, Thor, had fun getting covered in chalk dust, and scribbling all over the place and needing to be reminded not to eat the chalk.  Pippin also had a lot of fun with Pepper, the black dog in the picture above.  He hasn't had a lot of interaction with dogs, and Pepper is VERY playful. 
Loki, chillin' in the shade
Thor's little brother (let's call him Loki :) ) is a happy little man.  He's seven months old now, and I confess that I did feel a little tug of baby lust.  It kind of caught me off guard as I haven't felt that in a while, and I am 100% happy with our family as it is, and with our decision to end the building phase of our family.  I held him for only a minute, but it was enough for those feelings of baby-longing to rear their head again.  Wasn't expecting that, as I honestly thought I was past it.

Anyway, on to tonight's chit-chat.  Here's what I'm ...

Reading...  Finally finished my re-read of The Help.  I just love that book.  What astounds me is that Stockett had to slog her manuscript to more than 50 publishers before it got picked up, but Stephanie Meyer got a contract right away based on the Twilight manuscript.  **sigh**  Now I'm reading Fried Green Tomatoes At The Whistle Stop Café by Fannie Flagg.  I've read it before, more than ten years ago, and I do adore the movie.  I just love Flagg's storytelling.  If you haven't read anything of hers, I highly recommend you check her out. 

Watching...  Nothing in particular at the moment.  I've gotten addicted to a BBC crime drama called Broadchurch.  I recorded tonight's episode and will watch it later in the week.

Listening to...  The whir of the fans in our living and dining rooms.  Traffic going by on the street outside. 

Cooking/Baking... Because we've been with family all weekend, I actually haven't had to do any cooking (I did pulled pork for a meal for all of us last weekend).  Tomorrow night I'm trying a new recipe for an Italian inspired skillet chicken.  I'm going to serve it with risotto and a garden salad.  I'm also going to bake some lemon bars in the morning. 

Happy I accomplished this week...  Went through the wee-lings' bookshelves and purged any books that were too trashed for continued use, went to church today (something that I haven't managed in the last few weeks), and got back to using my daily to-do lists.  Oh, and I FINALLY surpassed my third weight-loss goal, and now weigh less than my Beloved.  Next goal is to be 75lb down by my birthday in the middle of next month. 

Looking forward to for next week... The reason I'm cooking fancy stuff tomorrow, and baking in the middle of a mini heat wave, is that my mom is coming!  Because we don't have a guest room or a pull out couch, my mom never stays (except for when the wee-lings were born) with us.  She is coming in the afternoon tomorrow and after dinner, she will drive back up to my sister's place just outside Big City To The North.  The big deal about this visit is that she's bringing her new beau.  I haven't met him yet, and I confess I'm a bit anxious about this. 

Thankful for... Family.  My Beloved so rarely gets to see his big sister, and I'm glad that we got to spend so much time with all of them over the past couple of weekends. 

****Bonus Question**** Can you walk in high heels?  Do you wear them often?  Heck no!  Can you imagine a hobbit in heels???  The last time I wore heels was on our wedding day, and I got rid of them after the first ten minutes of our pictures (after the ceremony).  Switched to some platform flip flops that were the same height as my heels.  Sooo much more comfortable.  I am a sandals and flats kind of hobbit. 

This is posted as a part of Carla's Sunday Night Chit Chat.  Click over and check out what the others are chatting about tonight!

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Hobbit-ish Potpurri: The Crud That Won't Die

Hey Humble Readers...

Geez... I was feeling fine over the weekend, but here I am again with a scratchy throat, plugged ears, and aching sinuses.  It's like the crud just started all over again.  Summer colds suck, big time.

Anyway, let's see.  What's been happening around here...

Weight loss has totally plateaued.  Part of the problem is that with the crud I haven't felt like getting up early for my walks, and when I do, I can only manage a part of my usual distance.  Another part of the problem is that I've been eating things I shouldn't just because they make me "feel better" (only in the moment, then I feel even worse after).  I'm trying not to get discouraged.  I will get over this stupid cold, and I will be able to get back on track soon. 

We had a long weekend last weekend, and spent most of it with my Beloved's family.  His oldest brother and older sister are in from Little Town Far Away, and so there was a lot of food, card games, and laughing.  I have to say, my Beloved's family is so strange to me.  They get together and there's absolutely no drama.  They like each other.  All of them.  Crazy, right?

My favourite plus size clothing store (not that I have a whole lot of choice here in the Shire) had a one day sale on bras on Saturday.  Because I swear half of the weight I've lost is from my boobs, I was in desperate need of new bras again.  I'm down a full band and cup size, two band sizes on the sports bra I bought.  I managed to get four bras (a couple of them are really rather sexy too!) for $100!  That's amazing for me.

My mom is supposed to be passing through the Shire on Sunday, so I may get to meet her new beau.  That's just so weird to say.  In other family drama news, Mom and the Douchewaffle (formerly known as Dad) have a court date at the end of September to finally settle this whole divorce mess.  Thank Heaven!

I have a small conundrum with my addiction to the television.  The third season of Game of Thrones is going to be aired (on a Canadian network) starting at the end of the month.  Problem:  I have yet to watch season 2 because I'm #16 on the wait list at the library.  Thankfully, they have 3 copies, so the list is going quicker than I originally anticipated.  I may record season three just so that I have it, and don't have to wait for the library to get season 3 (sometime next spring).  That's just a lot of space on my pvr.  Hmmm...

I'm planning on painting the bathroom and the hallway in a couple of weeks.  I've been trying to psych myself up for this for a while now, but it's time.  We've lived with a shmegly green bathroom for more than five years.  I need to make a change in there. 

I've been reading a fair bit lately.  I read Perks of Being a Wallflower (awesome!) and The Honest Toddler (not so great... was really funny at first, but got old quick).  Now I'm rereading The Help, with Fried Green Tomatoes At The Whistle Stop Café and Mistress of My Fate on deck. 

Toothache warning... sweetness ahead!  Playing in the wading pool at my Beloved's brother's house yesterday.