“Note to Self: Change the Locks” is FREE

“Note to Self: Change the Locks” is FREE

I Must Be Going to Hell

The other day I was talking to a fellow parent and she was lamenting about her daughter’s confirmation and everything that it entails. She was also complaining because her son just made communion last year and had a huge party and it cost her a lot of money. I just shrugged my shoulders at her when she asked what I was going to be doing for my son’s confirmation.

“Nothing,” I said. “He’s not making his confirmation. We don’t do CCD.” She looked at me as if I told her he eats the urinal cakes in the boys’ bathroom.

“Oh,” she said with a look of distain. I knew exactly what she was thinking…Bad mommy. Apparently, my bad parenting skills spill over into their religious education. OR rather, their lack of. They don’t go to Sunday school or CCD. In fact, we don’t even go to church anymore. According to the powers that be, my children are apparently heathens and nothing short of an exorcism will redeem them.

Let me explain. I went to Catholic school. So much CHURCH. And God. And HELL. Always talking about what will send you to hell. I grew up thinking if you weren’t a nun or a priest and if anything every felt/ tasted/ looked good…it would send you straight to hell. After two years of Catholic school, I got pulled out because it was too expensive (hmmm…was it all about the money?) and I was sent to public school with the rest of the riff raff. But I wasn’t off the hook. I still had to go to the dreaded CCD. And it was continually drilled into my head the nine hundred and fifty two ways I could get myself sent to hell.

I grew up scared of church. It was boring and nothing resonated with me. But if you didn’t go, you were going to hell. If you didn’t go to confession, you were going to hell. Anything you confessed? Sending you straight to hell. Every thought I had or thing I did made me feel guilty. And what’s more, I found it ironic that the people who talked the most about God and went to church the most, were the biggest hypocrites. They tended to be the most unkind and unforgiving people of all. Not saying they knocked little old ladies down and stole their purses, but they were unyielding to anyone who didn’t share their beliefs, unaccepting of anyone who didn’t follow the letter of the “law” to a T. Needless to say, I got kind of jaded and as soon as I made my own confirmation, I avoided the place like the plague.

Until I got married…

My husband is not Catholic. He’s Presbyterian and his parents are pretty regular church goers. They’re not pushy or fire and brimstone; they’re kind and thoughtful people and raised a good man. So I figured, let’s get married in his church, right? Wrong.

My holy roller father would not hear of that. IF I didn’t get married in the Catholic church, I was going to hell. And he wouldn’t come to witness my fall from grace. So off to church I went with a fake smile plastered on my face, putting my envelopes in, making sure the priest saw me every week so that when I begged for him to perform my marriage ceremony, he would not give me a problem. That should have been enough, right?

Nope. He wanted to know, where was my husband to be? When I explained that he was not Catholic, I swear you would have thought I told the man that his Lexus had been vandalized. Seriously. To him, NOT CATHOLIC was akin to a mass murdering pedophile. And my husband was treated as such when we met with the priest who sent him out of the room (due to the fact that he was beyond saving) and had me sign a form that stated I would raise our children Catholic if we were to have any. Reluctantly, I did. Because if I didn’t, not only was I going to hell, they were too.

And when said children arrived, of course I had to baptize them (and jump through massive hoops to do so…)

So when my son was 6, of course I was compelled to send him off to CCD. Reluctantly. I shoved him out the door and into the gates of the school each and every week. He cried, he begged, he pleaded. He hated it. And I hated sending him. And I also hated having to sit in church every week with them (so much fun with a rambunctious two year old who talked VERY loudly) so that he could get his paper signed to prove that he was in church. What little good it did him… he would spend the entire hour helping me peel his sister off the walls or reading a book. He learned nothing and was miserable in the process.

So when they started talking about confirmation and what it was going to entail, he came to me and said, “I want to tap out here…I’m not interested in making my confirmation.” So I sat down and thought about this (without input from my heathen husband…he’s going to hell anyway). The kid had a point. Making your confirmation means you’re prepared to be an adult in the Catholic church and he did not want that. So he was deciding to not go any further in his religious education and I had to respect that.

Which was fine until I tried to enroll my daughter in CCD. I got a phone call directly from the priest who informed me that she could not attend unless her brother was also enrolled. They absolutely refused to accept her. I was confused how they would turn down a child who WANTED to go and learn about her religion just because they had “lost” her brother (for the time being). That didn’t make sense to me at all.

When I explained the situation, the priest told me that my child was too young to make this choice. “But Father,” I said, “If he’s too young to choose NOT to become an adult in the Catholic church, isn’t he too young to decide TO become an adult in the church?” He ignored my question and spent a half hour berating me and telling me how my poor parenting would lead to my child becoming a delinquent without any religion. He actually said to me, “Come back in three years and let me know how he’s doing. I guarantee you that you will be having more than just the normal teenager problems with him.” Oh and of course, that he’s going to hell.

I dealt with many nights of tossing and turning, the guilt eating me up. Should I enroll her somewhere else? Should I make him go? I didn’t want my precious babies sent to hell. That Catholic upbringing was giving me an ulcer. Finally, I came to the realization, if the Catholic church didn’t want me, then I didn’t want them. It was difficult and gut-wrenching, but I think it was the best decision I’ve ever made. One day, I’ll find a church that that makes me feel comfortable and like I belong. It’ll be non-judgmental and care about its parishioners, not making them feel badly about themselves. Until then, we worship the idea of being kind to one another and just trying to be good people.

It’s three years later…aside from his obsession with shoes, fighting with his sister and his tendency to procrastinate until I have a stroke from screaming at him to do something, I really can’t ask for a better kid. He’s smart and well liked by his peers and respected. Just last week my husband snooped through his phone (as he tends to do) and found he had stuck up for some girl that his friends were bullying. And his friends? CCD attendees and altar boys. But MY kid is going to hell? Over my dead body.

Liebster!

I have been nominated for a Liebster Award (from the German, meaning beloved, sweetheart, darling) by Laurie Baxter! The Liebsters are given by bloggers to bloggers who are new or are looking to build their follower base, as a way of highlighting them so new readers can find them. Laurie Baxter is the author of Veronica Mars: Caller ID and one of the eight authors of Fools Rush In: An April Fool’s Day Anthology. http://lauriebaxter.com/tag/blog-hop/
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So, the first part of my duty as a Liebster recipient is answering 11 questions posed by Laurie:
What was the last book you read that you loved?
I’ve loved many books recently, but it’s very hard to get a true 5 star review out of me. The last book that got an absolute 5 star review was A Grown-up Kind of Pretty by Joshilyn Jackson. It took my breath away.

What book do you wish you had written?
“Fifty Shades of Gray”. Mostly because it’s crap and she’s a bazillionaire. No, seriously, I wish I had written any of Agatha Christie’s novels. She was just BRILLIANT.

If you could have been born at any time in history, when would you choose?
I’ve always wanted to be a teenager in the 50s, I love the poodle skirts and the fluffy hairstyles. Girls in the 50s looked like they were having so much fun, no pressure to do anything but sing show tunes at lunch and marry a guy with great hair…so I guess I’d have to be born in the late 30s for that, right?

What are your favorite and least favorite holidays?
Although Christmas Eve is my favorite day of the year, I would have to say Thanksgiving is my all time favorite holiday. You eat whatever you want, calories don’t count and there’s no pressure to give any gifts at all. Ah…bliss.
I am really not a fan of Easter. It’s so fickle…sometimes hot, sometimes snowing. Plus it’s bad for people who have no self control around peanut butter eggs. And jelly beans. Damn those jelly beans.

What word can you never spell?
Prefer. I have to let spell check do it for me every time. Oh, and license trips me up all the time too. I always reverse the c and the s.

Dogs or cats?
Dogs are definitely more fun and loveable and I have two, but man, are cats easier. I think I will definitely have cats when I am a little old lady. Except, I read a story about a lady who died and her cats ate her…so maybe I’ll just get a goldfish.

Any phobias?
Not a fan of enclosed spaces. Once we were at the Liberty Science Center with a school group and I had a panic attack in the Touch Tunnel. A group of 4th graders had to help me out. Not my finest moment.

If your life were a book, what would the title be?
This is a difficult one. Hmmm…”Title to Be Named Later”? No, I know…”Men Are Only Useful For Changing Lightbulbs”.

Who would play you in the movie?
Probably Drew Barrymore cuz she’s kind of quirky like me. And I told my husband that he would be played by Kevin James…he was totally okay with that, although he preferred John Goodman. He also mentioned that John would have to “Slim down” for the role, so maybe Kevin was best.

Favorite quote?
“There’s no crying in baseball!”

Favorite childhood Halloween costume?
My mother was in a wedding once and they all wore floor length taffeta gowns just like Scarlett O’Hara’s in Gone With the Wind. So one year, I discovered it in the attic and it was my Halloween costume for three years in a row. I wish I still fit in it, but I don’t have Mammy to suck me into my corset.

The second part of my duty is to nominate five other bloggers.

Award Rules:

  • Acknowledge and link back your nominator.
  • Answer 11 questions given by the nominator.
  • Nominate other bloggers who have fewer than 200 followers. (I’m not really sure how to measure this, but use your best judgement.)
  • Post 11 new questions to ask your nominees.
  • Let your nominees know that you have nominated them.

I nominate:
Meagan Pensabene  https://wordpress.com/read/blog/id/57216534/

Anita Carroll  https://wordpress.com/read/blog/id/45760229/

Bethany Turner  https://wordpress.com/read/blog/id/69455333/

Lizzie Lamb  https://wordpress.com/read/blog/id/49128727/

Monique McDonell  http://www.moniquemcdonellauthor.com/blog

Here are my questions:
What is your first memory?

Lefty or righty?

If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?

What is your guilty pleasure?

What was the last book you rated 5 stars?

Good cook or fan of eating out?

Who is your favorite literary heroine?

What’s the number one thing on your bucket list?

If you had an entire day to yourself with no obligations and money was not an object, what would you do?

Last song you heard?

What animal are you?

Women Hero Wednesday! Stacey Wiedower

Fellow Chick Lit author Stacey Wiedower just released her first novel in January, and let me tell you, it was one of the most FUN novels I’ve read in a long time. Erin Crawford is a relationship blogger with a bucket list and a vendetta. After years of horrible luck in relationships, she decides to start a blog called “30 First Dates.” Her mission: go out with 30 men before her 30th birthday, all to find a non-jerk in 30 dates or less. As she blogs about her sometimes humorous and sometimes laughably bad dates, she crosses off her bucket list of 30 things she wants to do before she turns 30—and kills two birds with one stone by completing the items on her dates! In fourteen months she skydives, skinnydips, crashes a wedding, travels to multiple cities and lives way outside her comfort zone. The only question is, as her birthday approaches and her list grows smaller, will Erin be able to find love? Or is she destined to be a first-date-only kind of girl?

My review of “30 First Dates”
30 First Dates30 First Dates by Stacey Wiedower

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is 4.5 stars but I wanted the author to get the benefit of a 5 star rating because this is probably the best chick lit novel I’ve read to date. (Trust me, 4.5 stars is HUGE fro me…I don’t just give these stars away). I started this book and saw it was about a “bucket list”, a 30 by 30 list of things to accomplish. I just read a very similar book (“Twenty Five” by Rachel Hamm), so I was initially disappointed it would be about the same thing. Only it wasn’t at all. It was so poignant and funny and true to life. Sure, there were some unrealistic things that happened and sure, I figured out the ending, but the journey was much better than I expected. In the first book I read the list was mostly about the character feeling inadequate for her age. Maybe I couldn’t relate because at 25 I was married with a career, a house and a baby on the way. I think I related more to the idea that thirty really is a turning point in your life. It’s the point where you say, “well now what?” Even though I wasn’t looking for love at 30, most of what Erin went through in this book resonated with me. To me it was about finding what made you happy and being true to that. I really admire Erin for realizing even though she had a great job, it wasn’t what she was meant to do. Taking that huge step to change careers, even at a young age of 30, is a huge risk.
It doesn’t happen often that a book inspires me outside of the pages. I liked this book so much that I decided to make my own bucket list. I’m way too close to my 40th birthday, so I decided 50 things by 50. Some are risky, some are just about getting out of my comfort zone. But I know even if I don’t accomplish all of them, even if I only get a few done, I’ll be proud of myself. Just like Erin.

View all my reviews

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Stacey had barely blown out the candles on her 21st birthday cake when she took her first job as a reporter at a daily newspaper. She later followed her passion to interior design school and spent three years working at a firm with bizarre similarities to the set of Designing Women. Today she funnels that experience into her work as a full-time freelance writer, penning everything from magazine articles to website copy to a bi-weekly column called Inside Design. She also writes romantic comedy, and the zany characters she’s met poke their heads into her stories from time to time. Stacey lives in Memphis, Tenn., with her husband, also a writer, and a son who’s inherited their overactive imaginations.

Interview with Stacey Wiedower:

I loved the character of Erin. She was funny and ballsy and everything I inspire to be, a new kind of literary heroine.
I spoke to Stacey about her own literary heroines and this is what she had to say:
“My favorite literary heroine is Jane Eyre because she’s strong and stands up for herself, and yet when people are cruel to her she only becomes kinder, rather than hateful or spiteful.”

Stacey is now one of MY favorite female writers, but I was curious, who her favorite was:
“My current favorite female author is … good grief, that’s a tough question. I’m going to answer Emily Giffin simply because I met her at a book signing last week, and she confirmed my long-held suspicion that she’s the type of person you’d love to have as a best friend.”

Writers love to envision their novels made into movies. I was curious who Stacey saw in the main role of Erin:
“My friends had a Facebook debate about this, and the consensus was Jennifer Lawrence.”
(I agree…she’d be perfect!)

And finally, since this was a novel about self exploration through a “bucket list”, I wanted to know, what’s on YOUR bucket list, Stacey?:
“I want to live in England for a while. A year, give or take, to really experience life somewhere else, get to know my family better (my mom is British), and expose my son to another culture. And while there, I want to travel and see as much of Europe as possible.”

If you love “The Bachelorette”, you’ll love this novel. If you love a fun read, you’ll love this novel. Ok, if you love books, you’ll love this novel! Pick it up today at: http://www.amazon.com/30-First-Dates-romantic-comedy-ebook/dp/B00S02R4UY

“Fools Rush In”

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I just had the pleasure of finishing this April Fool’s Day” Anthology this past Sunday. Eight delightful and different stories by eight fabulous Chick Lit authors. I sat them all down on my Barbara Walter’s couch and asked them each the question that is burning in our minds…
Who is your favorite literary heroine and current female author?
Wait, did you think it was something like Barbara would ask? I didn’t want to make them cry! And I admit…I don’t have a couch like Barbara…I asked via email.
I’d love for you to read a little bit about the stories in this set and hope you’ll pick it up for yourself. The best part is, it’s FREE right now. And that’s not an April Fool’s Joke. (I swear!)

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00UW5D9O2/

“Fool Me Once”
Author S.E. Babin

This novel set the tone for the whole anthology and was my personal favorite. Without giving too much away, Alex is a nerdy girl in high school and Beck is the epitome of the King of the Jocks. An April Fool’s joke is set into motion, but what will it do to them both? I loved the way this story was told from both points of view but it ended way too soon! I really would love to read a full length novel about these two. Also by S.E. Babin: Out of Practice Aphrodite, Plotting Mr. Perfect and The Hunt for Snow. http://www.amazon.com/S.E.-Babin/e/B00J1J236A/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_8
Visit her blog: http://sebabin.blogspot.com/

S.E. Babin’s choices:
Heroine: Kate Daniels in the Kate Daniels urban fantasy series
Author: Ilona Andrews

“Who Does He Think He’s Fooling?”
Author: Laurie Baxter

A little bit of pranking, a little bit of flirting…a whole lot of mess is created in this novel. Laugh out loud funny…loved the tricks the office staff was playing. Very relatable characters in this particular office, the girl who’s too nice, the jackass of a guy, the bully of a boss. And I have to admit, I did not figure out who was really pranking who until the end. Also by Laurie Baxter: Veronica Mars: Caller ID http://www.amazon.com/Laurie-Baxter/e/B00UA616B6/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_7
Go read her blog! She’s funny! http://lauriebaxter.com/

Laurie’s choices:
Heroine: Bridget Jones
Author: Sophie Kinsella

“Fools in Love”
Author: Whitney Dineen

Well this story took a surprising turn I wasn’t expecting! A high school reunion with interesting results. I’m not giving anything away…you’ll have to read it to find out. From what I gather from the dedication, parts of it were based on a real life love story 🙂 Also by Whitney Dineen: She Sins at Midnight http://www.amazon.com/Whitney-Dineen/e/B00N8LK2OW/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_pop_2 Here’s the link to Whitney’s blog: http://whitneydineen.com/

Whitney’s choices:
Heroine: Bridget Jones
Author: Maeve Binchey

“Don’t Prank Me Now, Prank Me Later”
Author: Amy Gettinger

From the characters’ names to the pranks they pull, this one was certainly like nothing I’ve read before. Five fatherless boys take pranking to a whole new level beyond saran wrapping the toilet seat and putting the fake spider on the wall (I DEFINITELY would have put my foot down…lol). The author takes a tragedy and still makes the story lighthearted and fun with a little bit of romance thrown in for good measure. Also by Amy Gettinger: Roll With the Punches: A Story of Roller Derby, Alzheimer’s and Plagiarism http://www.amazon.com/Amy-Gettinger/e/B00S9Y99II/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_6
http://amygettinger.com/tag/author/

Amy’s Choices:
Heroine: Lula from the Stephanie Plum books
Author: Sarah Addison Allen

“Operation Tom Foolery”
Author Suzie Jay

I found it amusing there were many Toms in this anthology…
Anywho, “Operation Tomfoolery” was about a poor harried assistant (not unlike Andrea in The Devil Wears Prada) who is forced into an act of pranking her boss’s brother in quite a cruel way. No matter what Maddision does, it has the potential to end in disaster. I enjoyed her NYC scavenger hunt (I’m a big fan of scavenger hunts) and I think that the solution that she came up with was brilliant. Of course, I won’t tell you what it was…you need to read it for yourself. Suzie also writes and illustrates children’s books: http://www.amazon.com/Suzie-Jay/e/B00PAUED26/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_5
Check out Suzie’s blog: http://www.suziejayauthor.blogspot.com.au

Suzie’s choices:
Heroine: Mulan from my kids’ Disney books
Author: Marian Keyes

“April’s Fool”
Author: Celia Kennedy

This story was about a personal assistant that causes a little stir in the world of Hollywood when her boss gets in trouble and pictures of the two of them in a compromising position pop up on the internet. Is it true? Are they having an affair? I certainly won’t tell you…you have to read it to find out. Oh and I LOVED the nod to Celia’s other book in the story ;). Also by Celia Kennedy: Venus Rising, Charlotte’s Restrained, and Kathleen’s Undressed. http://www.amazon.com/Celia-Kennedy/e/B00AW5KEZO/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_1
Link to Celia’s blog: http://celiakennedy.weebly.com/

Celia’s choices:
Heroine: Marta Zinnser (Odd Mom Out, By Jane Porter)
Author: Marian Keyes

“Fool’s Luck”
Author Engy Neville

I really thought this one was going to end differently, being April Fool’s Day and all. Hey, I’m all about being surprised. Very realistic group of friends, Amy being the one with her sights set on the big city. Will she realize her dreams or will she get Fooled? Also by Engy Neville: A Leap in Time http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=ntt_athr_dp_sr_3?_encoding=UTF8&field-author=Engy%20Neville&search-alias=digital-text&sort=relevancerank
Check out her blog if you’d like to learn more: http://www.engyalbaselneville.com/

Engy’s choices:
Heroine: Frances Mayes from the movie Under The Tuscan Sun
Author: Sophie Kinsella

“Fooled Around and Fell In Love”
Author Connie Stephany

The last story in this anthology wraps it up nicely. Two best friends, an April Fool’s Joke that plays with their hearts, and a engagement ring…what could possibly go wrong? Tom wants to play an April Fool’s joke on his mom, who always tries to fool her family on this day (which happens to be her birthday). But it’s going to take some convincing to get his best friend Colleen to go along. After all, what girl wants to give an engagement ring back 😉 Also by Connie Stephany: Second Chances http://www.amazon.com/Connie-Stephany/e/B00T6UF2KS/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_4
http://www.conniestephanybooks.com/

Connie’s choices:
Heroine: Addison Holmes from the Whiskey series from Liliana Hart
Author: Liliana Hart