"Snippet" -- a small piece or brief extract
My family loves the outdoors. I could probably write a whole book for this section. Mama grew up on a farm and enjoys gardening and flowers and lots of outdoor activities. She tried to pass this along as well -- and has -- though probably more selectively than she would have liked.
I’ll start with the most enjoyable -- to me, at least. One of the greatest rewards (and most frequent) as we were growing up was to get to go fishing. It was sometimes bribe, sometimes reward, sometimes stress relief, sometimes recreation that we could afford.
I remember when we lived in the old white house there was a pond across the road. I was young and the memories aren’t very specific, but I do remember fishing across the road and conversations about a Grandaddy catfish.
During the years at New Hope, living at Cousin O’Dell’s house, I don’t have very many memories of fishing, but the times at Pleasant Hill are replete with fishing memories. Sometimes we would traipse through the small section of woods that led to the creek and fish there. Often, we would fish from the roadside as the creek fed into Hilton Cox’s pond. Hilton gave us permission to fish at the pond, too, so those are my very favorite fishing memories!
At the end of a day, when work was done, we would go digging for worms. Sometimes Daddy was home, too. Sometimes, Grandmama came over. (As I remember it, she was often the impetus for our fishing trips. . .) We would find rich soil -- oftentimes areas that Mama or Daddy had created for the purpose of drawing/breeding earthworms for fishing. Digging worms was often part of the adventure itself, although we often got whiny if they weren’t abundant and easy. Sometimes it took several tries to find the right spot for lots of worms.
Once the worms were collected into a can or a bucket and all the fishing gear was gathered, we would walk down to the creek, roadside, or pond and settle in. We knew we needed to be quiet or the fish wouldn’t bite -- or at least that’s what the adults told us. In retrospect, perhaps just for a little peace and quiet. It was probably a moot point anyway, but we did try. Quiet moments by the pond are some of my favorite childhood memories -- catching fish, turtles, and even eels. Oftentimes, just drowning worms, but we were doing it together.
Somewhere along the way, someone has gotten the idea that I don’t enjoy fishing anymore. That is absolutely not true. While it is difficult for me to carve out time from my other responsibilities at a time that is appropriate for fishing, and I don’t enjoy the heat of the summer always, and I really, really hate mosquitoes and gnats that sometimes come with fishing, I LOVE fishing! I love the peace of it, the quiet anticipation, the shared experience, the sometimes-excitement of the catch. It’s a legacy that lives on . . .
I had a love-hate relationship with the clothesline. Mama taught me to hang clothes out from the time I could reach. Even before that, I would hand her clothespins or hang out while she was hanging out the clothes. I loved the smell of sheets after they had dried in the sun. I’ve never smelled sheets that smelled like Mama’s sheets off the line. It’s a beautiful sensory memory from the New Hope days that I treasure -- so soft -- and THAT smell.
Some days I didn’t mind hanging out clothes -- or taking them in. There’s a comfort to it. I love the smell and the stiff-yet-soft feel as you’re gathering them up. The orderliness of shaking them out before hanging them up. The cool dampness of the fresh-from-the-washer clothes on a hot summer day. Even sometimes, the quick adrenaline rush of a quick unexpected shower and the mad dash to get the dry clothes in before they get wet again.
Some days, not so much . . .I don’t know why. I don’t know if there was a reason beyond my fickle childhood moods. Often it was my job. Sometimes I despised it, sometimes I tolerated it out of obligation, but sometimes I relished it and reveled in it.
As an adult, I’ve had times where I’ve hung out clothes, and where I’ve strictly used the dryer. Both have their positives and negatives. Sometimes I long for the feel and smell of air-dryed laundry. Sometimes I beg Shane to put up another clothesline. Then he reminds me that I work full-time and we are rarely here in the daylight and it would be a moot point. He’s right, but the memory is strong, and sometimes I sure do miss it.
I remember at times having probably 30 or more African violets in our house. Mama loves plants and she has always been great at nurturing them and nursing them back to health even from “almost-death”. She would grab an African violet for 25 cents that looked like death and pretty soon it would be vibrant and thriving again.
For a while, Mama really got into Gloxinias and we had them everywhere. They had beautiful showy trumpet-shaped flowers, and we enjoyed them for quite some time.
She loves anything green, and especially anything that flowers, but outside ones are her favorites. She loves planting them and watching them grow and bloom.
Mama always prefers living flowers over cut ones and often Daddy would get her a new rosebush for birthday or Mother’s Day or some celebration. She had quite a collection of Roses at Pleasant Hill -- Mr. Lincoln and Peace were the two I remember most vividly. Mr. Lincoln with its deep dark scarlet hues and Peace, looking like a swirl of orange sherbet, vanilla, and lemon sorbet, with pink lemonade accents. I loved the variety of Peace’s blossoms.
Long after I married, and once Mama and Daddy tried to get the nursery business established, they really got into Daylilies and we would take family trips to the daylily farm to peruse all the newest, showiest varieties and add a few new ones to their collection.
I remember once at Pleasant Hill, I wanted to establish a little bed of the tiny little wild violas. I loved them! Mama helped me carve out a spot in the yard and plant a few to try to get them established. I have no idea how well they did, but I always appreciated her taking the time to help me with something I enjoyed.
Our tastes in flowers tends to be very different, along with a lot of other things in life, but just like everywhere, variety keeps things interesting and makes life better!
We’ve had a garden as long as I can remember, and growing up, it was definitely a family affair.
Even though I’m probably the least farm-oriented member of the family, I still enjoy the feel and the smell of fresh-turned dirt, watching things grow, and eating things fresh from the garden. That appreciation comes from Mama and Daddy both.
Growing up in a gardening family was such a blessing, and it has spoiled me in many ways. There is NOTHING like a big slice of fresh garden tomato whether you’re eating them with pork chops or on a sandwich (with Miracle Whip of course). Grocery store tomatoes do NOT compare!
It was Mama who taught me to pick the worms off cabbages, how to pick butterbeans and string beans. She showed me when cucumbers and squash are ready and when you need to toss them, save them for seed or feed them to “the animals” (depending on which ones they had at the time) Because it’s always been something we do together, in this area, it’s hard to tell where Mama ends and Daddy starts and vice versa. Together, they taught me a lot about gardening. We’ve spent more hours than I can count shelling beans, snapping beans, shelling peas, “looking” collards, picking cucumbers and squash, shucking corn, silking corn, “squishing” strawberries, and lots more.
One area where I know it was Mama is the cooking of garden-fresh fruits and veggies -- prepping and cooking, freezing, canning were always Mama’s domain. Because of her, I know how to easily peel a bunch of tomatoes or peaches using boiling water. I know how to make strawberry punch bowl cake (a family favorite during the strawberry-growing years). I know how to blanch vegetables to put them in the freezer. I can peel potatoes using a knife (even though she still would complain that I leave too much potato on the peelings. . .) . I can peel and slice cucumbers and tomatoes, though never as evenly as she can. I can cook new potatoes and green beans. I can boil peanuts.
Because of her teaching, I don’t throw out a whole fruit or veggie just because it has a “bad place”. I know how to work around that, saving the good.
Because of her encouragement, I am willing to try lots of different foods, and I will eat almost anything, although turnips are at the BOTTOM of that list!!!!!!!!
Even though I’ve chosen a professional life and my continued “extracurricular” activities don’t allow much time for gardening, I so appreciate all the lessons that came from the time spent in the garden, and using things from the garden, and I appreciate all the effort that went into helping us eat well and eat healthy from the garden that continues even now! What a blessing!
Mama often accuses me of having more food memories than anything else. She’s not altogether wrong perhaps. There are lots of reasons for that:
1. I LOVE food, especially good food. :-D
2. Mama was an EXCELLENT cook!
3. We gardened.
4. Daddy was a meatcutter.
5. Mama couponed.
All of that together = lots of amazing food memories.
I talked about her chicken and pastry in the birthday tribute, but no one can do chicken and pastry like Mama, and while my husband has mastered the art of creating gluten-free pastry now, nothing holds a candle to Mama's. . . .
Stew beef. Yes, I know maybe you call it beef stew, but at our house it was stew beef. Oh, my! So good. . . Tender beef chunks, onions and potatoes. . . . all in a beefy, oniony broth, served over fluffy white rice, usually with green beans (often from our garden . . .). I've tried and tried, but I've never made stew beef that tasted as good as Mama's.
Potato salad! This one I've mastered, and it is still a family staple. With ham at Easter, with fried chicken , with pork chops, . . .or just by itself . . .every potluck dinner ("dinner on the grounds") growing up. Warm or cold, didn't matter. Often I would eat a bowl of potato salad for breakfast straight out of the fridge.
OK, so a little note about breakfast in our house: while Mama was an excellent cook, she didn't like to get up early, so breakfast was cereal, or Pop-Tarts, or whatever was in the fridge (Keeping in mind that I grew up pre-microwave days . . .which meant if it came out the fridge, you ate it cold.) Spaghetti sauce on bread? check Cold meatloaf sandwich? Yep. Cold vegetable beef soup? One of my faves. . . Mama cooked great breakfasts -- but we rarely ate them for breakfast ;-)
So many other foods that Mama cooked or created or put together were special. To this day, one of my very favorite meals is a pork chop (Mama's were always fried; we usually choose to grill or bake ours now.) Rice with speckled butter beans on top, and a fresh garden-ripened tomato sprinkled liberally with salt and pepper. . .so so good!!!!
I guess a food section wouldn't be complete without talking about fish. We live near the beach, and my family loves fishing. I have cousins who would often go spot-fishing, and bring us a "mess 'o spots". Dredged in cornmeal and fried to perfection, served with fish rice (white rice thrown into the last bit of the "drippins'" from the fried fish), and slaw (finely chopped cabbage, salt/pepper, Miracle Whip [Don't fight me on this. . . ], and a bit of sugar). One of Mama's favorites and her mama's before her. Also, one of my favorites!
I keep thinking of more and more, but I have to talk about carrot cake. This was another recipe handed down from a church lady or a family member. The best carrot cake ever! Cream cheese icing full of pecans. I'm the carrot cake baker usually now (or my hubby). It's a family staple. In fact, I think my nephew is requesting it for his birthday. It has been present at birthdays, Christmas, Thanksgiving, Easter, pot lucks . . . .omnipresent. . . well, almost. . . . Mama would always argue a carrot cake and a glass of milk was a complete and balanced meal. (Eggs, nuts, and cream cheese for protein, flour for grains, carrots for veggies, cream cheese for dairy, and oil for fat content (and butter in the frosting). Milk rounded out for some extra dairy. . . . I don't know about balanced, but I do know it is DELICIOUS! I make a gluten free version now -- it's not as good, but still yummy!
Macaroni salad, slaw, deviled eggs, ham-rice, meatloaf, and so much more . . such good food. I could talk about this all day. . . .of course, we also ate our share of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches (and I always liked Daddy's better, because he put more jelly ;-), Treet meat, vienna sausages, and Manwich from the can, along with Hamburger Helper. Our spaghetti sauce came from a jar and the only regular spices she used were salt and pepper. Chili con carne was as cultural as we got -- it was Southern, fried, and fresh from the garden -- or from a can. But whatever she fed us tasted amazing (except for Turnips, but that wasn't her fault. I'm still not a fan!)
Here are some of my favorite food memories with Mama:
~~~Pineapple Upside Down Cake~~~
Probably my earliest food memory is when I was three years old, living in Grandmama’s old homeplace. We were between houses. The place we were renting when I and my brother were born was not going to still be available. Money was tight, places were expensive, so, for a season we were in the old homeplace. There was no bathroom -- a chamber pot and an outhouse served the purpose. I don’t remember much else from that time, except the Pineapple upside down cake that we made there. We used a cast iron skillet -- layering slices of pineapple across the bottom, filling in all the holes with cherries, butter, and brown sugar. Then we topped that off with cake batter. After baking it off and turning it out, it was beautiful and delicious! And to this day, it's one of my favorite cakes!
Mama has always been an excellent cook. I remember when we were living in a cousin’s house in New Hope, Mama decided to try her hand at making potato chips. I was excited to help. We sliced the potatoes as thin as possible, fried them up in oil, and set them out to dry. Some of them were green, some of them were limp, but a few were crispy and delicious. Mama decided potato chips were not her forte and I don’t remember ever making them again, but what a fun memory!
These have been part of our family repertoire ALMOST as long as I can remember. The recipe came from one of our church ladies. I think they were called preacher cookies because they were often made for potlucks or when the preacher came calling. Most people I know now call these “No Bake Cookies” and there are tons of different versions of them. Ours used peanut butter, butter, sugar, salt, vanilla, and oatmeal. They were delightful little morsels that we dropped by the spoonful onto aluminum foil to set. Sometimes the weather was not really conducive to candy setting, so they stayed pliable and squishy and we got to eat most of them as they were “not fittin’”. We loved the little dribbles that didn’t make it into the gooey delicious piles because those were little jewels that we got to nibble. And we ALWAYS hoped there were a few left over when we took them to potluck (but often we were disappointed.) They are always a big hit wherever we go, and making them with Mama is one of my favorite childhood memories.
This recipe has been lost through time and it has been YEARS since Mama and I made Divinity together, but it remains one of my favorite food memories. It was a tedious process and one that had to be “just right”. We boiled a mixture of sugar, Karo syrup, and water until it formed a ball in a glass of water. That was one of my jobs -- to watch for the ball to form so we knew it was ready. Mama would beat the egg whites, mix them together with just the right timing and consistency and spoon them out (after adding a touch of vanilla) onto aluminum foil. My other job was to top each confection with a perfect pecan half. We spent many of my early Christmases making divinity for parties and to share with family. One thing is for sure, the candy was divine -- and so is the memory!
Now that I’m grown and supposed to be eating gluten-free, clean and healthy, I rarely get this treat anymore, but it’s one of my all-time favorites. A box of vanilla wafers, a can of sweetened condensed milk join with golden and dark raisins and lots of chopped pecans to form almost-cement perfection after lots and LOTS and LOTS of pressing, pressing, and more pressing. (That, along with shelling the pecans was part of my job. . . ) It was topped with half-cherry flowers and green cherries cut into quarters for leaves. It was then CAREFULLY cut into tiny squares (not an easy task due to its concrete construction . . ) and was the perfect blend of sweet and nutty.
There were also these yummy cookies Mama and I made. I have the recipe for them, but I haven't tried making them. . . .maybe that will be another blog post later.
And, for many years, our house was the house that hosted all the church parties -- baby showers, New Year's Eve parties, and more. Those always brought little finger ham sandwiches, Town House crackers with Cheez Whiz, and amazing pineapple delight -- marshmallows, crushed pineapple and whipped topping -- I always loved parties and the food that came with them.
Mama laughs and jibes me all the time about my food memories, but she is an excellent cook, and some of my favorite times with Mama were the ones we spent in the kitchen -- cooking up excellencies just like these. I hope that some of her cooking excellence has rubbed off through the years.
Author's Note: Not even 3 months since Mama left to be with Jesus. Honestly, it was hard to re-read this with all the "still" references, but I couldn't bear to take them out, even though . . . .
There were so many other ways Mama helped out at home -- to save money, make money, and stretch money. These are just some of the ones that stand out. . . .
Looking back, I don’t think I realized how tough things were financially for my family. Yes, I knew I wore hand-me-down clothing most of the time. I knew most of my clothes were not in fashion, and that became more of an issue in middle school/high school as I became more aware and those things became more important. I’d like to say I was mature enough that none of that mattered, but that would be a lie. The truth is, though, Mama did such a good job compensating in so many ways, that I didn’t grow up feeling “poor”.
I know it was hard raising a family of 4, then 5 on one meatcutter’s salary, but Mama did LOTS of things to help make ends meet.
While Mama and Daddy had decided that she would be a stay-at-home mom, Mama was always finding ways to supplement Daddy’s income. I have no idea about the time frame of these, but I remember these ways that Mama tried to make our lives a little richer….
Stop! A yard sale!
I remember from my youth, shopping yard sales with Mama. She was a bargain hunter in all realms, but this has always been one of her favorites and continues to be! If there’s a yard sale anywhere around, Mama’s probably going to find it -- and probably she’s going to stop and shop. . . whether it is someone’s garage, a flea market or a road-side sale!
Probably my favorite yard sale find ever was at the 701 flea market. It was before 4th grade, although I don’t remember exactly when. I reached down into a box and pulled out a semi-hardcover drab brown book. It was fairly thick, and there was nothing to draw me in, and yet it did. 25 cents, and Mama had purchased for me another item that would shape my life. It was a 1908 poetry textbook -- full of classics in all poetic genres. It helped me immensely with a big poetry project in 4th grade with Ms. Deavers and it is still one of my most prized possessions. It has traveled with me to college -- and to all three states I have lived in. It has sat opened by our bedside to favorite poems Shane and I have shared by candlelight-- with candlewax stains to prove its use. During my first year teaching, I often shared poems from it such that Joey would ask often if he could read my poetry book during free time. That book has enriched my life more than I can say.
Even now, Mama is constantly on the look-out for treasures for her kids. A couple years ago, she added a plethora of pastels to our Fiesta dishware collection, and so much more through the years.
Yard saling allowed Mama to get things for us that she wouldn’t necessarily be able to afford, and she is still might quick to call out on a trip, “Stop! A yard sale!”
Stanley Home Parties
Mama met a lady named Ona Lee who sold Stanley Home Products when I was young. One of Mama’s earliest ways to make extra money was selling Stanley Home Products. Even though I was pretty young at this point, I have LOTS of memories of Stanley Home Products -- visiting Ms. Ona Lee, helping Mama pack for parties, and lots of the products themselves. Mama would go out and have parties in people’s homes and introduce them to the products and they would order products, which she would later deliver to them.
They had everything from dishes and cookware to gadgets to cleaners and probably lots more.
Three of my favorite Stanley pieces were a little adding machine that I used for a very long time. It was a little hand clicker with a button for ones, a button for tens and a button for hundreds/dollars. It was red and I spent lots of time clicking those buttons and “helping” Mama… Another favorite was the bun-warmer. I don’t know if that is what it was called, but it is what we used it for. It was a big yellow pot with a shelf that set inside that was scored with holes. It reminded me of a Chinese checkers board. You would put a little water in the bottom and load that shelf up with hot dog or hamburger buns and they were the best ever! Soft, steamy, and perfect! Although sometimes there were a few that got soggy. They were not my favorites, but there is nothing like those buns! The other product was a set of nesting bowls. There was yellow and turquoise I know -- probably another color or two, but the yellow one is the one that has stood the test of time. In fact, Mama still has the yellow Stanley bowl. It has gone to more potlucks than I can count and has been used to hold all kinds of things. We used it a lot when we were freezing vegetables from the garden. My favorite use for the yellow bowl was popcorn. I don’t remember how often we used it for that, but my favorite memory was when we went to the drive-in movie as a family. We went to see Benji at the drive-in. I loved the movie, I loved being with my family and I loved Mama’s popcorn in the yellow Stanley bowl. In fact, I loved that memory so much that we recreated it years later when Barefoot Church hosted a movie night playing Benji and we all went together as a family with the yellow bowl in tow once again.
Friendly Home Parties
Later, Mama did something similar with Friendly Home Parties. It was the same basic premise -- parties in the home to introduce people to the products. They would order and we would deliver. I was older by the time Mama started with Friendly and I remember going with her and helping out with the parties themselves.
My favorite products from Friendly were a fiber optic lamp that looked like a fountain of rainbow colors or fireworks exploding in the sky! I LOVED that lamp. The other piece that I thought was so cool was a reversible doll. It was Little Red Riding Hood on one end, but when you flipped it over, it was the big bad wolf. As a reader/story-teller, that doll really appealed to me. It was so cool.
I enjoyed the time with Mama spent with parties and packing and wishing, and getting to visit the homes of friends, neighbors and church folk.
I don’t remember the time frame, although it probably would have been middle school or high school that Mama took a tax course so that she could do people’s taxes. She worked part-time during those years during tax season helping people with their taxes and it also helped in another way, because it allowed her to help all the family with their taxes through the years. I think this is something she and Aunt Gwen did together, and they are the family tax gurus even now. If anyone in the family needs help, they are the go-to ladies for all things taxes. . . .
I mention this in the birthday section, but it bears repeating, as it was a way Mama helped out our family, friends, neighbors and earned extra money to help ends meet.
Mama is a jack of all trades naturally. She is good at pretty much anything she sets her mind to, and this was no exception. She was basket-weaving frosting, whipping up royal icing, making roses on nailheads, decorating Mickey Mouse cakes along with the best of them before we knew it.
She made cakes for profit, and cakes for church. She made cakes for family and cakes for friends.
This foray was also during those middle school/high school years. Looking back, times must have been challenging for our family during that time. As Dale and I got older and involved in more things, and then Shanda came along during my 7th grade year, I know it was hard financially as our family of four became a family of five -- and I became a teenager with more school expenses and more extracurricular expenses as well.
While there were lots of ideas and things tried to make extra money, this was probably our favorite for lots of reasons:
1 -- More cake in our life -- you can’t go wrong with that!
2-- It was really cool and interesting to watch -- much more interesting than taxes!
3-- It allowed me, at least, to try my hand at it, which was fun -- and is part of the reason I teach reading, writing, math, and music instead of decorating cakes. Apparently, I did not inherit Mama’s jack-of-all-trades genes. Some things I am truly not good at -- this was one of them!
Mama’s cakes were beautiful and tasty and a testament to her talent and her willingness to work hard in many different ways to support our family.
Couponing and Refunding/Rebating
Another thing Mama got into during this time was couponing and rebating. Memory fades, but it seems she took a couponing class early on, and then began a club that met at our house. It was more fun than taxes, too, for several reasons:
1-- We got to meet interesting people like Augusta Davis and mailman Alan Buffkin and lots more. It was fun having people in our house.
2-- It was fun to help. I got to snip coupons and rebates and UPCs and so much more! Snip, snip, snip. It was my way of contributing.. .
3-- I also got to address envelopes for the rebates. Pretty soon I had learned the zip code for Minneapolis, Minnesota by heart.
4 -- It was fun to work alongside Mama doing something that helped our family -- and sometimes we got special things from rebates for us -- kool-aid cups, Del-Monte Christmas ornaments, etc. Those ornaments still have a place on the tree, and we each claim our own as we’re hanging them each year.
Coupons allowed us to eat foods we wouldn’t normally be able to afford, and double-couponing doubled our savings and we were able to eat like kings on the paychecks of paupers because Mama learned all sorts of tips and tricks and had this network of friends with whom she shared a penchant for saving money. They shared money-saving tips, coupons, rebates, and friendship that enriched our lives in many ways.
Later on, Daddy bought a farm and Mama and Daddy worked together to try lots of entrepreneurial enterprises. Strawberries, daylilies, rabbits, and so much more filled days and nights -- all with an eye toward making life better. Most didn't pan out the way they'd hoped, but Mama nor Daddy was ever afraid of hard work to make a dream come true.
Eventually, Mama got on with the US postal service, and served for about 20 years with them. It was hard for her, but she persevered, and later thrived. She developed amazing relationships with her postmaster, co-workers, and her patrons on her mail route. They left her little treats -- or sometimes full lunches in their mailboxes and Mama loved them. She often came home with so many stories about who she had met or gifts they had shared. She loved her job and the people she worked with and for, and for the first time in her life, she was bringing in the bulk of the money for the household. By then, I was out of the house and living my own adult life, but I was so proud of her for pursuing hard things, persevering, and always finding little and big ways to make all of our lives better.
Wiggling money had to have been hard, but we never went without delicious food, and the clothes may not have always been stylish, but they got the job done, and our lives were all richer for all the ways Mama contributed.
Contests abound in the kidlit community on Twitter. I always enjoy trying my hand at them. They are helpful for a lot of reasons.
#1. They encourage me to write.
#2. They force me out of my comfort zones regarding content, genre, number of words, etc.
#3. They offer amazing prizes if you're good enough to win (goals. . . )
#4. They build community as writers read each others' work, offer comments, retweets, shares, feedback, etc.
#5. They are FUN!
There are probably many more reasons to participate, but these are enough for me.
This contest is called 50 Precious Words. Hosted by Vivian Kirkfield, author (and person) extraordinaire, it is exactly what it says: You have (ONLY!) 50 Precious Words to tell a whole story!!! Characters, arc, etc. . . .Beginning, Middle, End . . .50 words! You can read more about Vivian and her inspiration for the contest as well as guidelines here: www.viviankirkfield.com
I became active in the Twitter kidlit community one year ago and this is my FIRST time entering Vivian's contest, but I had lots of fun brainstorming and writing this one. It's called
Bioluminescent fish line the midway,
At the underwater fair.
Octopus tentacles reach
To hold the mounts,
On the ocean carousel.
Giggle, and beg,
“One more time!”
Poor, dizzy Octopus is
spinning out of control,
Ink clouds the carousel
At the underwater fair.
I've been a teacher of K-3 students for over 20 years; I'm also a writer of poems, short stories, devotionals and picture books. I'm wife to an amazing husband and mom to Sparkles, Mocha, and Rusty -- our feline fur babies . I love reading, writing, singing and listening to music. I enjoy nature, Bible study and spending time with friends and family!