book review: “afterwards”

I just finished reading “Afterwards” by Rosamund Lupton – it was the first book I read on my Kindle. My mother in law got an iPad for Christmas and she gave me her Kindle Fire. I was fortunate enough to snag this book from my library’s ebook collection, even though I’d never heard of it. I’m bad about choosing a book for its cover, and it worked out well this time.


The book was a real page turner and I think I read it in just a few days. It’s about a mom who runs into a burning school building to rescue her daughter from a fire. Then, the story is told in the mom’s point of view to her husband. The neat part is that the mom is in a coma and she’s having an out of body experience. Her daughter is also experiencing the same thing, so they are there together.

If you’re a mom, you’ll probably like this book. I appreciated it since I’m now a mom. It was a British book, so reading quirky things like “mum” was neat, too. So, what to read next?

of christmases past

I like Christmas Eve more than I like Christmas Day. For some reason, Christmas Day saddens me – the reason is, I know that tomorrow is just another day…that Christmas is over for the year. I look forward to Christmas more than most, I think. It’s not because of the gifts either. I really can’t put my finger on why I love the season so much, but I do. On Christmas Eve, there’s still one more day to relax and be with loved ones. I got to thinking of some of the most memorable Christmases I’ve experienced and thought I would share.

One year, I was probably 13 or 14, I guess, we were sitting down to open our gifts on Christmas Eve. That was how we did it in our house – we opened most of our gifts late Christmas Eve and then Santa came during the night. Either way, it was late and we had sat down to open gifts. All of a sudden, my dad jumps up and says “We are going Christmas caroling!” At first, we thought he was joking – it was so unlike dad to say something like that. But, he was persistent and we were so upset! We didn’t want to go caroling – we wanted to open gifts, darn it! I honestly don’t remember how long we were gone or which houses we went to in our rural community, but I do remember one house very clearly. The house was our immediate neighbor and years ago, dad had clocked him in the face and given him a black eye. Well, that night, dad shook the man’s hand and wished him a Merry Christmas. In the end, I found out he’d been drinking and had a bunch of courage about him. Even though we opened our gifts very late that night, it was fun to go caroling.

When we were very small – maybe in elementary school – we were going to spend Christmas at my grandma’s house in Chesapeake. Instead of getting a real tree, mom and dad drew a tree on a white trash bag and taped it to the wall, then we got to draw decorations on it. It was pretty neat. That same year, we got a Nintendo for Christmas! They brought a big box in for all three of us to open (my sisters and I) and it was a Nintendo. We were so excited and we played that thing for years. I remember my older sister getting mad and swinging the controller around when she didn’t do well. She would either hit herself or others in the head (I can’t remember which, so maybe it was me she hit in the head).

I remember Christmas 10 years ago, when my husband asked me to marry him. I made tuna helper to celebrate – how romantic!

This year is our first Christmas as a family and my son’s first Christmas. He’s nearing 11 months old, so he really doesn’t understand everything, but he enjoys looking at the tree and playing with my Boyd’s Bears nativity set I put especially for him.

Last night, my husband and I exchanged gifts – we never can wait until Christmas Eve or Day. I honestly can’t believe we made it until December 23. He got me running shoes, which is good because I haven’t bought new running shoes in over a year. He also got me Sherlock Holmes on DVD and a book light (like I asked). I got him a VT basketball, bracelet,┬ábandanna, and massage gift certificate. The baby is getting books from us since he’ll be getting toys and clothes from my relatives. My sister made me a really neat kitchen apron and my mom got me neat gifts, including a photo of my son wearing this little suit she got him. She dressed him up and sat him in front of the tree when she was here last Wednesday keeping him.

I had wonderful Christmases growing up and I do hope that my son will be as fortunate. Having a child seems to bring back some of the magic of the holiday season, doesn’t it?

Oh, and I forgot one thing – last year, we had the sweetest kitty named Chicken. He was wide open and would crawl into our tree. Unfortunately, he passed away this year, but here’s a picture of him pretending to be an ornament.

Little Chicken cat 2011

Little Chicken cat 2011

so very, very sad

I just learned of the elementary school shooting in Connecticut about 30 minutes ago. It broke my heart and made me stop, cry, then pray. I will never understand how things like this can happen and what motivates individuals to perform these acts. It is all very different now that I’m a mom, too. I can’t imagine hearing that there has been a shooting at my son’s school, then having to wait in agony to find out whether or not he’s fine, dead, or injured. And, right here a week or so before Christmas?

My heart goes out with thoughts and prayers for everyone affected by this terrible tragedy.

stop. look. listen. smell.

It’s December 4. It’s 73 degrees outside. It’s wonderful!

I live in a part of the world where it’s supposed to be cold this time of year, and normally it is. But, today is an exception and one I’m very happy for. I threw on my shorts and t-shirt and took a jog through the 80 year old, very tall pine trees. Above me, the crows called and the smaller birds made rustling noises in the bushes. I heard the leaves chasing me as the subtle breeze blew.

Making a loop through my small hometown, I saw folks out in sweatshirts and I wondered “Didn’t they get the memo? It’s so warm out here!” Some of the older folks probably thought I was crazy and they were probably muttering how I was going to give myself a cold. Little do they know that I’m on the tail end of a sinus infection and the fresh air did me lots of good.

When I got close to being back to my destination, I made myself stop jogging. My body told me I could run for miles, but my mind said “Stop. Look. Listen. Smell.” So, I obeyed. I slowed down to a walk and took in all the sights, scents and sounds. I sat down to stretch my legs on the trail and it dawned on me that I hadn’t been in the woods by myself in silence in a very long time. I thought about how my new job has given me more time to enjoy life and take care of my mental and physical being. For that, I am very thankful.

Too often, I think we get hung up in the day to day and don’t take a minute to appreciate nature and outdoor air. I encourage you to get out more often – I know I will.