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My interests are varied and I'm likely to write anything from funny to poignant to informational, so my blogs are organized by topic. Just choose your favorite topic on the left. I'd love to hear from you in the comments section or go to Contact and email me privately if you like. Thanks for coming by!page: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15
10/30/2014 9:19:09 AM
Hygiene Gone Wild! How hand washing got my daughter beat down.
This whole Ebola situation has my family talking about hand washing again. I'm an extreme hand washer. Previously, Mr. Nina was convinced I washed my hands too much. He said he'd seen a study that said too much hand washing can be dangerous, keeping you from building a healthy immune system. At that point, I would point out that he and his like-minded son have caught flus and other viruses many times per year since I've known them, while my daughter--who I trained in hand washing from a young age--and I rarely catch anything. "You're in your forties," I said. "At what point is your immune system theory going to kick in?"
But, between the Ebola scare and his constant travel for work, Mr. Nina tells me he's now washing his hands incessantly at the airports, in the offices he visits, in his hotel room...
After our last conversation, I hung up the phone and said, "Huh, I guess he found something more 'dangerous' than handwashing." But then I remembered that stringent handwashing policies really can be dangerous. My daughter learned that lesson years ago.
When she was five, my daughter was very excited over a new girl her age who moved into our neighborhood. She immediately invited her over. I gave them snacks, saw that they were playing nicely in my daughter's bedroom and went about my household chores...
Until my daughter began screaming, "Mommy!"
When I responded, I found the two of them in the hallway--the neighbor girl wide-eyed, my daughter on the floor holding her stomach, tears rolling down her face.
"She hit me!" my daughter cried.
"I want to go home," the little girl said.
I let her go home and sat my daughter on the couch, needing to determine whether we were dealing with some crazed bad seed in the neighborhood or if my non-violent daughter could have possibly provoked an attack.
"Why did she hit you?" I asked.
"I don't know," my daughter sobbed.
"What happened right before she hit you?"
"She went to the bathroom, and I was waiting in the hall. She started to come out, but I told her she couldn't come out until she washed her hands."
"Did you block the door?"
"And then she hit you in the stomach?"
She nodded again.
I sighed. It's always the mother's fault.
So, I explained to my daughter that, while she should always wash her hands after going to the bathroom, she couldn't force her hygiene habits on others. And she especially had to be careful with a little girl who had four older brothers, and, no doubt, had to learn how to defend herself early in order to survive.
It's hard being a mother. You don't always know how advice and decisions are going to affect your child until years later. This is what Paige struggles with in No More Mr. Nice Girl, first, when she thinks the man she's falling for may not be good for her son, then later, when she realizes her dead husband--whoa! I almost put a spoiler in my own post. Well, let's just say her dead husband manages to reach out from the grave (figuratively) and force her to make an even more serious decision than she imagined.
What about you moms out there? Am I the only one who inadvertently got her kid into trouble?
9/28/2014 8:55:38 AM
NO MORE MR. NICE GIRL Released!
No More Mr. Nice Girl is now available at your friendly neighborhood Kindle store! For links for U.S., U.K., and Canada, visit the NMMNG Book Page.
Here's the description:
In this laugh-out-loud romantic comedy, life-long good girl Paige Tipton learns what her dead husband was doing, for years, while she bent over backwards to try to please him. And she hopes Jeffrey is watching from hell when she finds some long-haired biker dude and does with him what Jeffrey did with all those hookers. Besides, a guy she finds at a creepy dive bar will never, ever pop up in her upscale real life. Now, if she can only get the biker to cooperate…
Dillon spots Country Club the moment she walks into the D.O.A. He’s always had a weakness for these debutante types. The last time he gave into it, at fifteen, he and his housekeeper mom lost everything. But this woman is cute as hell and really funny—especially when she offers him forty bucks for sex, considering he’s a very rich man now. But her kind is the last thing he needs in his life and, tempting as she is, surely he’s learned something in the last eighteen years. Right?
Visit the book page for an excerpt. Thanks for reading!
9/24/2014 8:42:02 AM
Note from Dillon
The following is meant to be read after No More Mr. Nice Girl and is a major SPOILER. If I catch you reading it early, I'll personally come to your house and thump you on your head.--Nina
My wife is awesome!
I guess I expected to be the one who took care of her and, sort of, fixed things for her and Matthew. All I wanted in return was to be with her. Enjoy her sense of humor, look into her beautiful eyes, and get into bed beside her every night.
But Paige surprised me by being a fixer of grand proportions. She accomplished something I’d been trying to do for years and so much more.
I’d better start from the beginning:
Things were pretty rough for Paige at first. Her in-laws sent an eviction notice and a demand for the return of the van two days after she accepted my proposal. She and Matthew moved in temporarily with Tina and Ted. The hardest part was explaining the loss of his home to Matthew. Although I’m not usually on board with lying, I think it was the lesser of the evils in this case. Paige didn’t have the heart to tell her son his grandparents were having them thrown out of their house.
Worse, was the way Paige’s parents turned their backs on her and Matthew. I guess once they lost all control, they had no further use for them. Paige was devastated, even though she said they hadn’t been the best parents in the world.
But when my mom and Berta heard what Paige had been willing to give up for me and that Matthew had lost his grandparents, they stepped in immediately and treated them like family. Matthew quickly took to calling them Grandma Maggie and Grandma Berta and they doted on him. Still do, even though he’s in fourth grade now.
Meanwhile, we were planning a very private wedding and needed a house to move into afterward. Paige did the recon while I was at work, but she was getting pretty annoyed with the realtor. The woman knew what we were worth, and insisted on dragging Paige to grander houses than she had in mind, even though Paige was looking for something homey.
One day, she showed her a five bedroom that still managed to have the cozy quality Paige was looking for, but when she walked out to the backyard, the huge lot contained a roomy guest house as well as a pool and game “hut” much bigger than my duplex.
This is when I learned that growing up with the scheming Haddens hadn’t been all bad for my wife. You see, by this time, Paige was pregnant. Just after the engagement, she’d reluctantly said something like, “I guess I need to get on birth control.” I said, “Why?” and she smiled and threw her arms around my neck.
So scheming, pregnant Paige knew I’d been trying to get my mom out of her housekeeping job for years, but she also knew mom needed to feel she was being useful. Next time the two of them were alone, they had a heart-to-heart chat. Paige talked about how much she wanted the new baby, but confessed she’d also really hoped to get a part-time job to bolster her self-esteem after all she’d been through.
Mom said there was nothing she’d like better than to take care of her grandbaby and seemed truly unhappy that her job would keep her from doing just that.
So, BAM! Next thing I knew, it was a done deal. Mom was going to quit her job and move into the guest house. When she seemed a bit sad that she’d be so far from her best friend in Pasadena, Paige devised a plan to fix that too.
By the time we moved in, Maggie and Berta had made plans to live in the guest house and Celia and her two kids, Maddie and Max, were taking the spacious pool house.
Celia was the hardest sell, not wanting to feel she was a charity case. I was there when Paige pointed out how long Celia’s advanced degree would take to get if she kept working full-time hours, as well as how old the kids would be by the time she got it. And that, at our place, while she was working part-time or at school, there would always be someone who loved the kids to watch over them.
I couldn’t remember the last time I’d won an argument with Celia, so I was chuckling inside as I watched her resolve crumble like a cookie in Paige’s expert hands. In hindsight, I also learned no matter how smart I think I am, I’m no match for my wife when it comes to devious thinking. This is one of the dangers in getting married so fast--there's a lot you haven't figured out about your spouse yet. Lucky for me, what Paige wants is usually what’s best for the people she loves.
The beauty of it all was that everyone got what they needed while feeling they were doing something selfless for people they loved. Mom and Berta would be taking care of our kids and Celia’s whenever we were all gone. Celia made life better for her children.
See what I mean? My wife is an evil genius minus the evil part.
On a side note, I had to amend my thinking when it came to rich people. After we moved into the new house, a sweet lady named Betsy Landrey came by with some pies she’d made herself. Paige said Betsy’s family has been wealthy for a couple hundred years, yet she hugged Paige and told her she was proud of her decision. We got the feeling maybe somewhere in Betsy’s past, she’d wished she’d made a different choice herself.
A couple of moms from the school also came by with housewarming gifts and sincere good wishes. They reminded me of some of the kinder employers my mom had over the years, and I was ashamed that I’d remembered the nasty ones so much more clearly. I guess there’s a lot of anger that comes with growing up poor and feeling powerless.
Anyway, now Paige keeps a giant calendar in the kitchen where everyone writes their schedules so we can make sure the kids are watched over and taken to their activities. Mom and Berta cook us Irish stew, tamales, steak and guinness pie, and enchiladas until Paige or Celia manage to elbow them out of the way and make some smoked salmon or Italian chicken breasts so we don’t all get fat as ticks.
Since Paige only works part-time at the new children’s art museum and I have a teacher’s schedule, Mom and Berta have free time they never enjoyed before. They’ve experimented with all kinds of classes and activities, and, on vacation, we even got them to try zip-lining. Afterward, mom quietly said she was glad she did it once, but never again. Berta screamed like a horror movie victim all the way down, then wanted to go again.
As for Tonio, with all the food we have around the house, he’s here for dinner several nights per week. He was jealous at first about the living arrangements, but both his mom and Celia told him he couldn’t live with them unless he stopped dating the crazy women he tends to attract. For now, he’s chosen the crazy women.
I know this setup won’t last forever, since Celia’s finally opening up to men again and one will probably take her away from us, eventually. But, for now, I think all the kids are benefitting from the extended family we’ve put together.
Another unexpected fringe benefit has been Tina. Like Tonio, she was showing signs of annoyance at our arrangement. I guess she was worried about losing her place in Paige’s life. She insists all the kids call her Aunt Tina, takes them out for ice cream (then complains she’s gained five pounds from it), and has gotten pretty chummy with Mom and Berta.
On Thursday nights, I stay with the kids while Tina takes Paige, Mom, Berta and Celia out to some Latin dance-exercise class. They come back hopped up on endorphins, giggling like teenage girls.
I get a kick out of seeing my mom so carefree and downright silly after all those years of struggle and hard work. But the best part about Thursday nights is the time I get with my little Sadie--without a mom or aunt or grandma to steal her away. Of course, Mom claims she looks just like my baby pictures, but when I look into her sparkly blue eyes, all I see is Paige.
And as the older kids finish homework or play games, I take my little girl out to the patio and hold her tiny hand in mine. Together, we point at the stars and I tell her their names as she tries to repeat them in her lispy, two-year old version of English.
We trace the constellations in the night sky. She stares up at me with rapt attention as I tell her a story, always with a funny ending. She giggles and throws her chubby arms around my neck. My breathe catches in my chest and there’s no sweeter feeling in the world.
Then, I give her a bath and put her to bed before those wild women come home and converge on our kitchen.
Later, when the house is quiet, Paige goes upstairs to our very private master suite at the end of the hall and gets in the shower. I casually tell her I’ll be up in a while, but I’ve calculated the precise amount of time it takes her to bathe and get her hair mostly dry.
I enter the bedroom, strip and go into the master bathroom to find her in a towel, sitting at the vanity. I take the blow-dryer from her and lift her hand until she has no choice but to stand. Slowly, I reach up and untuck the towel.
Yeah, she still likes it when I undress her.
But sometimes, if we haven’t made love in a few days, I’m too impatient. I take her in my arms, lay her on the bed and cover her body with mine. When I slide my hand down her bottom to my favorite parts of her thighs, she wraps her legs around me. I fasten my lips to that special spot on her neck and we go at it, fast and furious.
But other nights, when I can control myself, I take her place in the chair and she straddles my lap. I lean in and hover very close, then tease her lips with the slightest brush from mine until she turns into a wild thing and attacks. She thrusts her sweet tongue against mine, and when I reciprocate, she sucks so hard I swell to near bursting down south.
She releases me and smiles victoriously, drunk on power. Then I reach behind her for my old cowboy hat that she keeps next to her jewelry box. I set it on her head, look into her beautiful eyes and say, “You’ve got this, Candy Cane.”
And she proves me right every time.
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