Posted by Susan Sey Jul 19 2014, 10:10 am in camp, independence, Susan Sey
So my big girl is off to overnight camp tomorrow, & I have to admit, we’re all feeling a little trepidation about it.
Not that we don’t love camping. We’re all about camping here in our house. Summer’s not summer until we’ve busted out the tents, thrown on the backpacks & burnt dinner over a fire. But this is different. This isn’t camping. This is Camp.
Like overnight camp.
Like away from the family camp.
Like sleeping in a cabin with fourteen other girls, & a couple of adults who don’t know that you like to sleep with the bathroom light on. Or that you often end up in your sister’s bed. Or that you have a deadly & unreasonable fear of spiders.
This is Girl Scout Camp, & unlike 5th grade camp, I won’t be in the next cabin over. I’ll be in San Antonio, hanging out with my writer friends. Her sister will be doing day camp & coming home every night to hang out with Dad, but my big girl will be having a big new experience. And as I mentioned, we’re all facing it with a little worry.
Not that I’m letting it show. No, on the surface I’m all, “You’re going to have a great time! You’ll be so busy you’ll hardly even think about us!” But inside? I’m worried for her. She’s a sensitive, loving kid, & she’s very family oriented. This is going to be a tough experience for her. It’ll be good for her, I know. Good for all of us to let her prove to herself that she can do it.
But it’s killing me to think she’ll be sad or lonely or afraid, and far from her mommy.
Do you remember the first shaky steps you took away from your family & into the world? How did it go? Any advice for her? For me? Share!
Posted by Susan Sey Jun 29 2014, 12:55 am in Susan Sey
One of my dearest friends in the world has a little cabin in the woods. We’ve spent many happy days there with her & her family, enjoying the lake, the woods, & the company. Last winter, though a number of fluky circumstances & some plain old bad luck, the heat went out, the pipes burst & the cabin flooded. It wasn’t a total loss, but it required a complete gutting. The kind of gutting that begs the age-old question:
Repair, or rebuild?
Now I don’t have a cabin & I probably never will, but I’m totally enchanted by this question. It applies to so many decisions in life, of course, but I personally like to apply it to my own house. I’ve never been in love with my 70s split level, but it’s in one of the better school districts in the Twin Cities, it’s in a safe neighborhood, & it’s got plenty of room for our family. I have nothing to complain about.
Not that that’s ever stopped me.
So listening to my friend think through her decision has got me thinking. Dreaming, really. So let’s say there’s an Act of God. Let’s say a storm dropped a tree on my house & I got to redo/replace three things. Only three. What would they be?
Oh, baby, I’ve got my list ready to go:
1) I’d tear off the screened in porch currently rotting off the side my kitchen & replace it with a kitchen addition, complete with an big ol’ island the whole family could eat at. Big glass windows, stovetop on the island….oh, yeah. I could get used to that.
2) I’d take our bathroom down to the studs & replace EVERYTHING from the plumbing out. We have a harvest gold bathtub people. Harvest. Gold. And the shower/bath toggle has never actually toggled properly. Our guests take shaths. Or maybe bowers. But you don’t get to pick either a shower OR a bath. Both the faucet & the shower head run at all times. I’d love to deal with that.
3) I’d tear out the ugly 70s faux stone fireplace in the basement & replace it with a natural gas fireplace/heater. I’d rip out that horrible old stone with the same terracotta tile I have in my foyer/kitchen & I’d put in an honest-to-goodness mantle. I’ve always wanted one. Someplace to hang the stockings & put up framed pictures. It would make our family room feel like a FAMILY room.
So what about you? What would you do if Fate suddenly handed you a reason to renovate? I know you’ve got a list…share!
All images courtesy of www.freedigitalphotos.net, mouse over for artist attribution…
Posted by Susan Sey May 29 2014, 8:38 am in haircuts gone bad, Susan Sey
Top Five Things That Happen When You Get Your Hair Cut Shorter Than You Intended:
1) The very short hairs around your ears now stick straight out around the arms of your glasses.
2) Your youngest child cries because you look like a boy.
3) Your husband says kind things about how it wasn’t what he thought you were getting but “it actually looks pretty good on you.”
4) You can’t stop feeling the back of your poor, shorn head.
5) You resolve to wear your contacts to your next haircut so you can keep an eye on the proceedings.
So…that pretty much sums up my yesterday. Have you ever had a haircut go awry? Let’s hear all about it while I wait for my haircut to grow out…
Posted by Susan Sey May 19 2014, 12:03 am in camp, Kids, outdoors, Susan Sey
As you read this, I am likely already at camp.
Fifth grade camp.
That’s right, friends. I’m up north this week, chaperoning my daughter’s 5th grade camping trip. And when I say “up north”, I mean it. From where I’m going, I’m pretty sure I can see Canada.
Which is fine by me. I like Canada. I also like camping. And fifth graders.
For a couple of years, in fact, I made my living taking 5th graders into the woods & introducing them to nature, so this is right up my alley. I’ve been looking forward to this opportunity to get back to 5th grade camp for years, & I’m pretty sure I’m about to have a great week.
Here, in no particular order are 5 things I’m excited about:
1) The smell of the north woods in the spring.
2) Taking a dozen girls & making a team of them.
3) Sleeping like the dead because we’ve been outside all day.
4) Reading my girls to sleep by candlelight.
5) Watching kids discover that school isn’t the only place–or even the best place–to learn.
That said, here are 5 things I’m not looking forward to:
1) Chow hall food.
2) All-day rain. (Scheduled for today.)
3) Discovering (the hard way) which kids are bed wetters.
4) Wet socks–no relation (hopefully) to #3.
5) Parent chaperones who think they’re on vacation.
Given that I’m at camp, I probably don’t have internet access, which means I won’t be very present on the blog today. But if the opportunity presents itself, I’d love to check in on the conversation. So here’s a question to get you started:
Have you ever been to camp? What was your most memorable camp experience?
All images courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net. Mouse over for Artist Attribution
Posted by Susan Sey Apr 29 2014, 12:11 am in glasses, shopping, Susan Sey
True confessions time: I have terrible eye sight.
Now everybody says they have terrible eye sight, but I really do. Oh, it’s definitely not as bad as it could be. I mean, I don’t have bifocals yet (knock on wood) & my eye doctor (whom I visited just today) said my macula are immaculate. But for some people, glasses are just helpful. For me, they’re absolutely necessary.
I don’t have a bedside clock, for example. I just wear my watch to bed. It’s big & ugly, but it has indiglo & I can bring it right up to my nose without waking up all the way. And this is handy because I’m constitutionally unable to go back to sleep unless I know what time it is. I can’t explain it; I just know I have to know. So I wear my watch to bed.
When we’re lying in bed at night with our books & screens, and my husband wants to show me something on the iPad or in a magazine, he can’t just tilt the screen & say, “Hey, check this out.” He has to reach over & put it about six inches from my nose.
Driving? Ha. I was at the wheel on a rainy Saturday recently & I pulled off my rain-spattered glasses so my husband could give them a quick wipe for me. We made it about half a block before we decided that perhaps it was better for me to just look through the rain drops than have dry glasses. Safer for everybody.
It wasn’t but a few days after that when I was giving my glasses a quick wash. I opened the towel & discovered them in two neat halves, the nose bridge snapped clean through the center. I had a minor moment of panic. The last time I’d gotten new glasses, I’d had my old pair made over into prescription sun glasses. Which promptly broke. Did I have a back up pair? How old were they? Lord knows I didn’t want to go back to contacts. I know they work for many good people, but they always make me feel like I’m wearing a scoop of sand in each eye. They’re definitely special occasion wear.
Happily I found an old, sturdy pair buried in a drawer. And when I say “old,” I mean it. I think I was dating my husband when these frames were in daily rotation. (We’re having our 14th anniversary this summer.) Luckily, the 80s had already taught me some important if harrowing lessons about trendy glasses by the time I bought this particular pair. These frames were classics. I’ve been wearing them for a month now, & have actually received a handful of compliments on them.
But I deserve new glasses. It had been a solid four years since my last pair, & my rule is every three to five. So I’ve been doing some serious frames shopping, only to rediscover this tragic fact: It’s about as hard to find good glasses as it is to find good jeans. And finding decent jeans that flatter your body & don’t cost the earth? It’s a certifiable miracle. (Am I right, ladies?) So I finally just today pulled the trigger on a new pair. I think I like them but it’s hard to tell. I had to take my glasses off to try them on. I’ll have to let you know in a week to ten days.
So how about you? Do you panic when you blow out the knee of your favorite jeans or break you five-year-old glasses? Or are you already in the car heading for the mall with a smile on your face & a song in your heart? What’s the last important-to-you item you had to replace?
Images courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Posted by Susan Sey Apr 19 2014, 12:14 am in meet the parents, Novella, Susan Sey, Touch of Trouble
So I’ve been thinking about meeting the parents lately. I recently released a novella–TOUCH OF TROUBLE–in which a man meets his beloved’s family for the first time. There are a few wrinkles, of course. (Aren’t there always?) They’re not actually dating, for one thing. She doesn’t even want to date him, for another. And her family is utterly bonkers, for a third.
But that aside? It’s a tough situation no matter what. Because meeting the parents is a big deal. It’s the day you acknowledge that maybe you aren’t just sharing a few laughs with this guy. It’s the day you acknowledge that maybe–just maybe–there’s a future in this.
That maybe–just maybe–you really like this guy.
That maybe–just maybe–he’s the one.
You want to love his family just as much as you love him, right? And–no denying it–you’re kind of desperate for them to love you, too.
But no pressure, right?
I’m sitting in my in-laws’ basement as I write this, thinking back on the very first time I visited this house nearly 16 years ago. I’m remembering the very first time I met the people who would become my mother- and father-in-law. The people who would become my children’s beloved grandparents. The people who would stand up at my wedding and give their son into my keeping. Who would watch my parents stand up & give me into his keeping as well.
I was terrified.
Partly it was because I wanted so much for them to love me. But mostly it was because of the damn peacock.
See, the neighborhood in which my in-laws live is home to a handful of wild peacocks. (No kidding. Peacocks.) Once upon a time they must have belonged to somebody but at this point nobody really remembers who or when. Now they just wander the neighborhoods, stroll through gardens & generally class up the place.
They also enjoy photobombing innocent young women just trying to make a decent first impression on her future in-laws.
Picture a young, innocent me trying very hard to make myself agreeable, knowing that my future happiness depends on convincing these people I’m cool.
Now picture me smiling for photos on the back deck, because evidently my beloved boyfriend (the current Mr. Sey) was not in the habit of bringing girls home. Ever. My MIL understandably wanted photographic evidence of this unprecedented event.
Now picture an enormous peacock dropping out of the heavens and landing on the deck railing not 5 feet from my elbow.
Picture me swallowing a startled f-bomb and trying not to spring out of my Birkenstocks. (And before you judge me, please remember, we were all wearing Birkenstocks in the 90s.)
Picture my in-laws cooing with delight. “The peacocks! Oh, how lucky! Did you know we have peacocks? Get closer! Let’s get him in the shot.”
And that was how I knew it was true love. That bird was a solid five feet tall, with death in its eye & very sharp beak.
And all I said was, “Cheese!”
How about you? What’s the craziest thing you’ve ever done to impress your beloved’s loved ones? Come on, I know you’ve got stories. Share! I’ll gift one lucky commenter with a Kindle download of my latest novella TOUCH OF TROUBLE!
Posted by Caren Crane Apr 16 2014, 12:51 am in Ben Skrewd, Blake Brothers trilogy, Caren Crane, Cross Springs In Bloom, Cross Springs novella, Deb Marlowe, Half Moon House series, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness, Red Door Reads, Susan Sey, Touch of Trouble, Who's Ben Skrewd
A provocative question, wouldn’t you agree? Well, last summer a number of us Red Door Reads authors decided that we all knew “who’s Ben Skrewd,” though the encounter is different for each person. Which gave us the idea of creating a character named Ben Skrewd who could appear in a group of novellas linked by Ben and our iconic Red Door. Launching the novellas on Tax Day (April 15th in the U.S.) was an irony we couldn’t resist!
Most of us were able to squeeze Ben into a novella in an ongoing series. My novella, Cross Springs In Bloom, takes place in the familiar environs of Cross Springs, NC. Cross Springs is the setting for my debut novel, Kick Start, as well as my next two novels. Baby Steps should be out in May 2014 and the long-awaited Tiara Wars will be out in July. In Cross Springs In Bloom, we spend time with Connie Burns and Katie Warren from Kick Start, but the heroine is Mindy MacPherson, the gossipy receptionist at Cross Springs Dermatology. When she helps Connie and Mindy track down the source of some prize-winning roses, Mindy comes face-to-face with a lover she let go and hoped never to see again.
Susan Sey’s novella, Touch of Trouble, we once again encounter her rowdy, sexy Blake Brothers. This time we are given some insight about the hard road the youngest Blake brother, Drew, and the brainy Meg will have to travel to find true love. It starts right where the second Blake Brothers novel, Talent for Trouble, left off. The two of them tackle a particularly sticky situation involving Meg’s family. Exceptional fun!
Deb Marlowe’s novella, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness, is the next entry in her Half Moon House series. If you love feisty Regency heroines, hedge mazes, epistolary pleas and intrigue, Lierty and the Pursuit of Happiness - heck, the whole Half Moon House series! – is for you. The heroine is an American spitfire who longs to make a real difference in the world and volunteers to help at Hestia Wright’s Half Moon House. In helping a young friend extricate herself from a potentially awkward situation, she becomes entangled with Viscount Brodham, who is trying to save his young nephew…from Liberty’s friend!
Eleven of us have brand new novellas available (for a short time) at only 99 cents! Authors in the special collection are Caren Crane, Susan Sey, Deb Marlowe, Claudia Dain, Linda Winstead Jones, Ava Stone, Lori Handeland, Jane Charles, Andris Bear, Tammy Falkner and Susan Gee Heino. The special price won’t last forever, though, so be sure to visit www.RedDoorReads.com to get the scoop on all the novellas and snap them up while the deal is hawt!
Since Ben Skrewd is an integral character in each of the novellas, we have an ongoing “Find Ben Skrewd” contest set up at our website. Each of the 11 Red Door Reads authors with a Ben Skrewd novella has “hidden” Ben on her website. When you find Ben, just go to the Red Door Reads site, click the link, and tell us whose site and which page you found him on. A winner will be drawn when the contest closes on April 22nd and the winner will receive an iPad mini!
Meanwhile, enjoy all the novellas and the “Easter egg” of finding Ben Skrewd in each of them.
Speaking of Ben and Easter eggs, have you “Ben Skrewd” by the Easter Bunny? He used to faithfully visit me every year and now I get bupkes in my basket! What is your favorite Easter treat? Tell me all about it, little friends, and I’ll enter you in a drawing for a free copy of my new novella! I’ll admit my favorite is a dark chocolate-covered Russell Stover marshmallow egg. I’ve already had a few this year. Yummm…
Posted by Susan Sey Mar 29 2014, 1:40 am in perfect, saturday, Susan Sey
This is the first free Saturday morning our family has enjoyed in a long time.
I can’t even say what we’ve been doing that’s been so busy. It’s just a lot of life. A little of this, a little of that. Sports, dance, meetings, vacations, work. But this morning? Nothing.
Here’s how I plan to enjoy it.
1) Wake nobody up. I wake people up all week long & believe me, nobody thanks me for it. This morning I’m letting those cranky pants stay in bed.
2) Read the newspaper. Most mornings my girls stage a cage match over the comics, but I’m not waking them up today, am I? And I’m not going to until I’ve savored the whole paper, national news to classifieds, over a nice bowl of yogurt & blueberries. (My favorite breakfast.)
3) Settle down in a sunny corner of the couch in my bathrobe, with a book & a cup of coffee & wait for the first kid to wander down the stairs. And then I shall make waffles. Because I like to make waffles more than eat them. Weird? Probably. But this is my perfect Saturday morning, & I make no excuses.
So what about you? What’s your perfect Saturday morning in three steps or less?
Posted by Susan Sey Mar 19 2014, 12:55 am in hobbies, Irish dance, parenting, St Patrick's Day, Susan Sey
So it was St. Patrick’s Day recently. This was always a big deal in our house when I was a kid. My mom emigrated from Ireland when she was almost ten, & has always been proud of her heritage. We didn’t go all shamrock-crazy on March 17th, but we definitely all wore our green every year, and proudly.
But we were Irish all year long, too, and in many ways. For example, my oldest sister is named Maureen, & my next oldest sister is named Kathleen. My dad put his foot down when I came along & insisted on an “American” name. This is how I came to be named Susan, which is what they named every other little girl in the 50s. (I was born in the 70s, of course, when every other little girl was named Jennifer, but my folks have never been much for fashion. I feel this explains a great deal about my persistent lack of ability to march in step with my generation.)
I was in elementary school before I realized that here in America, you pronounce the letter H like “aitch”, not “haitch” as my mother insisted. I still pronounce the H in “wh” words like “what” and “where.” Back in Dublin, my mother’s teachers used to hold up a piece of paper to children’s lips to make sure it moved when they said “wh” words. If it didn’t move, you weren’t blowing hard enough. Evidently, that’s a personal preference thing here in America, so my teachers couldn’t technically say I was wrong to do so. My mother smirked & continued making sure that her children, anyway, would be speaking properly.
My two older sisters began Irish dancing lessons at about five or six, at a bar in Detroit on Saturday mornings. This is where they often teach Irish dancing, for the big, wooden floor space. Also, going to the bar is more of a family thing over in Ireland, so nobody blinks at taking the kids there for dance class. I remember sitting on the swivel seats up high at the bar, watching my sisters do their thing. I couldn’t wait for my turn.
Unfortunately, we moved when I was about six, so far outside the city that a Saturday morning trip to the bar–even for dance class–became impractical. I had to settle for ballet, like any other kid. But when I found myself planted here in St. Paul, MN, as an adult–a very Irish city, indeed–Irish dance again became a possibility.
So I signed up for classes shortly after finishing up my MBA as a young married. Within six months, I was pregnant with child #1. I stopped bouncing for a while. When Child #1 was three, I signed her up for her first step class, & signed myself up as well. I immediately became pregnant with child #2. Child #1 wasn’t crazy about the noise of Irish step dancing anyway, so we both quit.
When child #2 was maybe 4, I found a new school & signed us all up again. We all hung in there for a year or two, but then Mr. Sey’s work schedule became insane (it still is) and my class had to fall by the way side. I concentrated on just getting the girls to and from their Irish dance class, plus all the other extracurriculars that came along. I figured I’d get back to my own dancing in good time. I was at the studio all the time anyway, right?
Fast forward three more years & I’m still not dancing. My girls, however, just did their first St. Patrick’s Day show with their dance school’s performance team, & both of them are crazy hooked on Irish dancing. They’ve moved far beyond what I’d managed to learn before I quit class yet again, & I have to admit it: when I saw them performing on St. Patrick’s Day I was jealous. I was incredibly proud of them, yes, but I also realized that I was deeply jealous. The whole reason they began taking Irish dance wasn’t because they’d expressed a huge interest. It was because I wanted to take Irish dance. And now they’ve blown by me & I still want to learn how to do what they now know in their sleep.
So I have resolved that this summer I’m going to sign up for my dance class again. The slow, beginner, mommy version of the reels & jigs, the hornpipes & treble jigs that my girls rip off like nobody’s business. I’m going to do it just for me, for the pleasure of learning something I always wanted to learn. And also to teach my girls that it’s never too late to try something new, even if it makes you look ridiculous. Maybe even because it makes you look ridiculous. Dignity is overrated. If you love it, you should try it.
So what about you? Is there something you’ve always wanted to try or learn or do? Or is there something you gave your kids–lessons, experiences, classes–simply because you always wanted a chance but never got it? Or is this something your parents did to you–forced a class or a sport on you that you hated, because they loved it? Tell us about it!
Posted by Susan Sey Feb 27 2014, 12:10 am in February, Susan Sey, winter
…February. As God is my witness, I will survive February. But, darn it, I hate this month.
Why? Let me explain.
No. Is too much. Let me sum up. (Thank you, Princess Bride. Best. Movie. Ever.)
1) The winter wear is wearing out. Coats don’t zip, mittens have gone missing, our scarves smell like dog, and our boots are blowing out. We only have maybe two more months to hang in there, so you don’t really want to splash out on replacement gear. You’d rather buy a bikini. Which is convenient, because that’s all the stores are carrying anyway. Just try to find a pair of mittens at Target today. I dare you.
2) The cold is making me desperate & messing with my judgment. For example, today after lunch I sat down to write with my “not water bottle.” (Shaped like a hot water bottle, but actually one of those bean-or-seed-filled, heat-it-up-in-the-microwave deals.) I like to stick it under my sweater & let it warm my belly while I type. I was so desperate for heat that I made it too hot & actually burned myself. Seriously. The metal button on my jeans must have concentrated & conducted the heat & now I have a blister on my belly. And I didn’t even notice while it was happening because I was so focused on soaking up the delicious warmth. Damn you, winter!
3) There is nowhere left to put the snow. Today while we were waiting for the school bus, the kids were playing on the mountains of snow on either side of the drive that we affectionately refer to as the Twin Towers. And I realized that I could no longer see my mailbox. I pointed toward where I thought it might be & had the kids start digging. Sure enough, the mailbox was buried. My children’s boots were above the mailbox. It’s gotten to that point, people. And March is historically our snowiest month. I don’t know where we’re going to put the rest of it.
4) Mr. Sey is in Florida. It’s for work, he’s probably spending 12-16 hours a day inside a generic hotel, not having any fun at all but…he’s doing it in Florida. And it’s going to be minus 13 degrees tonight with windchills in the minus thirties. I know it’s not his fault but…(Susan struggles for objectivity & maturity, fails dismally)…IT’S JUST NOT FAIR!
All I want is to be warm. All I want is a vacation. All I want is a tropical drink & a warm sandy beach. Is that too much to ask? I think not.
So, let’s take a virtual vacation. If you could jet off to anywhere in the world tomorrow, & stay for no more than two days–just enough to tide you over–where would you go & why?
Mouse over images for artist attribution & link.