Archive for the ‘Family’ Category

Day 10 of My Book Tour Brought 5 Stars; Day 11 Brings 5 Penguins!

Written by on April 18, 2012 No Comments

Today my book was featured at The Purple Penguin Reviews and this is a cool site because–and I quote from the site–it’s “Where I Nikki do the reading and the Penguins do the Ratings!”  On a scale of one penguin to five penguins, my book was blessed with five penguins!  How cool is that?  Check it out at  Thank you, Nikki!


Day 10 of My Book Tour Brings Another Great Book Review!

Written by on April 17, 2012 No Comments

What a great day it was!  Check out the five star rating of my book posted at    Thank you, Rach!

Day 4 of My Book Tour and a Great Review!

Written by on April 11, 2012 2 Comments

It’s Day 4 of my book tour and it was a great day indeed!  Check out the great review by Patricia Blomely-Maddigan at

Thank you Patricia!

Easter With Stepkids – 2012

Written by on April 10, 2012 1 Comment

Every now and then, it’s all about the stepkids like it should be.

Last Saturday, we got to see Stepkid #4 play lacrosse.  Now, some of you may remember in last year’s posting One Wee Problem After Another, that Mark and I ended up rooting for the wrong kid at a lacrosse game and taking some amazing photos of the wrong kid scoring three times.   Well, my sister and her family were visiting from Illinois this year to make sure we rooted for the right kid.  Stepkid #2 was along as well.  We all verified this is a photo of Stepkid #4.

Stepkid #4 looking all fierce.

After Alma College got their butts kicked 15 to 5, I asked the family to pose in the middle of the lacrosse field, because well, it was there and it seemed like the thing to do.

Family on the field. Photo by some nice lady.

Later, I posed with my sister and dad, because my sister lives 8 hours away and it will be a few months before I’ll see her again.

Aby, Dad, Amy.

I hugged Aby’s family good-bye and and Mark, Stepkid #2, Stepkid #4 and I headed home to meet up with the other two stepkids.  I must say, one of the cool things about being a stepmom is when the four kids still want to come over to color Easter eggs even though they are all 21 and older.  And of course, being 21 and older meant that we could drink beer while coloring.  How fun is that?    

A black and white kitty amongst some happy people.

Here are some other cuties.

A chicken amongst some other fun critters.

 I do one egg a year.  Pretty exciting, huh?

My cracked egg pal.

 Afterwards, I asked the kids to pose with me because . . . 

The four stepkids posing with me after an exhausting couple hours decorating eggs.

 . . . after the youngest stepkid graduates in two weeks, one kid will be off to Yellowstone National Park for the summer and another is headed to Germany for several months.  It will be September before I’ll see them all at the same time again.
Later, I had the kids pose with my mom and “the fiance” during a rousing game of Pit because well, that seemed like the thing to do, too.

Stepkids with my mom and "the fiance."

Indeed, it was a whirlwind of fun over the weekend, with stepkids along for the ride the whole time–watching lacrosee with my sister and her family, spending time with my dad and stepmom, playing Pit with my mom, and coloring eggs.  It is great being a stepmom. 

Book Blog Tour for From Zero to Four Kids in Thirty Seconds Starts April 8

Written by on April 07, 2012 No Comments

It’s not too late to catch the humorous interview I did on a great site in the UK run by Morgen Bailey, the direct short link to which  is

Then, so you have something really fun to look forward to, I’ve listed below the exciting schedule for my first ever book blog tour to promote From Zero to Four Kids in Thirty Seconds. 

8th April    – Debdatta @ b00k r3vi3ws – GIVEAWAY (1 EBOOK GIVEAWAY)
9th April    – Nilsa @ Nilsa’s Book Blog 
12th April  – Pragya @Reviewing Shelf – GIVEAWAY (1 FINAL QUALITY PAPERBACK)
14th April  – Makayla @Makayla’s Book reviews

15th April  – Twitter Party #zero2fourkids – BIG GIVEAWAY (3 FINAL QUALITY PAPERBACKS AND 3 NECKLACES)

Jewelry I'm giving away from Jessentials (on

16th April  – Aparajita @Le’ Grande Codex
17th April  – Rachel @Stressed Rach
18th April  – Nicole @Purple Penguin Reviews
20th April  – Cece @Cece’s Reading and Writing Safari – GIVEAWAY (1 FINAL QUALITY PAPERBACK)
22th April  – Sue @Books books the magical fruit
23rd April  – Allizabeth @The Paperback Pursuer
25th April  – Elemillia @Book Reviews, Fiction Reflections n’ More
26th April  – Ella @Mymcbooks Blog  – GIVEAWAY (1 NECKLACE)
27th April  – Donna @My Life. One Story at a Time. – GIVEAWAY (1 NECKLACE)
28th April  –  Joy @Joy’s Galaxy  – GIVEAWAY (5 PAPERBACK REVIEW COPIES)

 Finally, in honor of this great event, my e-book will be 99 cents until the last day of the tour.

Thank you for all the host participants, and to Aparajita, Manager of Tourz de Codex virtual tour program, for setting this all up.

How My Stepkids are Like Ducks

Written by on April 02, 2012 No Comments

I’ve now managed to attract people to my blog who like hearing about my wildlife adventures, while others followers are interested in the topic covered in my book, which is stepkids.  How to please both audiences, I wondered?  

And so it was that I sat down and compared my stepkids to ducks, making it such that this posting has something for everyone.  Here are just a few reasons why my stepkids are like ducks:

1.  Like ducks, all my stepkids like to swim.  Stepkid number one swam circles around her competitors last summer during her first triathlon.  Stepkid number three, the boy, swam at Haslett High School for a year or two, proving good in some events, but not so as a diver duck.  Stepkid number four was on the swim team and water polo team at Haslett High School. Stepkid number two can hold her own in the water as well. 


Male wood duck swimming in the water.

2.  Like ducks, all my stepkids like dabbling in the water.  All four stepkids got to try scuba diving at a pool in Lansing and took to it like fish.  Or ducks, for that matter.  All four also took to snorkeling pretty well, after one or two near drownings. 


Mallards dabbling in the water.

 3.  Like ducks, all my stepkids like hanging out with their pals.

A mallard line-up.

4.  Like ducks, all my stepkids occasionally hang out with kids that aren’t like them. 

Male bufflehead hanging out with a female ringbill and a male ringbill.

 6.  Like ducks, all my stepkids had to be watched pretty closely sometimes when they were little.

Hen mallard with her two babies.

7. Like ducks, my stepkids sometimes got into trouble anyway.

Two male mallards having words with one another.

8.  Like ducks, my stepkids (who are all over 21 now) always seem to have a member of the opposite sex nearby.

Hen mallard with a male nearby.

9.  Like ducks, my stepkids got big and flew away.  And when they come home, they always seem hungry.

Mallards coming in for an evening snack in my backyard.

10.  Like ducks, my stepkids will make their own nests one day . . .   

Mallard nest in our front yard.

 . . . and have their own ducklings.

Mallards with lot `o little babies.

Like ducks, my stepkids will likely want to bring their youngsters over for a visit one day, and when they do, Mark and I will welcome them with open wings.  And after a nice wee visit, Mark and I will do like older ducks do and make sure the little ducklings go home with their mother.

Stepmom takes on IKEA

Written by on March 04, 2012 No Comments

As a stepmom, one of the huge sacrifices I have to make is to respond to a stepkid’s occasional request to take  a day off to go shopping.  As a wife, one of the huge sacrifices I have to make is to respond to  Mark’s request to make a retirement nook where he can read, nap and–my favorite–drool.  Through an amazing alignment of the stars and planets, stepkid #2–a.k.a. Becky–lives a few miles from IKEA in Canton, Michigan, and her ability to take an afternoon off collided with Mark’s spring break and my ability to take a day off, and so we all went shopping at IKEA!

Me, Mark and Becky in front of IKEA.

IKEA is huge and I felt quite lucky that Becky was there to help keep Mark moving along.  He’s the kind of shopper that reads tags and measures things and opens and shut doors, and if left alone, he’d be there for days.  I’m not much of a shopper, and after gazing at furniture for an hour, I was a bit bored and decided to help IKEA sell some of their stuffed animals by making them look sad and pitiful.

Stuffed beagles neatly arranged to attract attention. The guy on the right looks kind of angry, though, doesn't it?

I also organized the rats so they’d be more sellable, too, though I’m not sure that worked well, either.

Rats for sale. Any takers?

Beyond the stuffed toys we found more and more furniture, and suddenly we found a chair we liked and a foot rest that would look really cute by our window.  And around the corner there was a matching chair for our dog, Little Dipper that was dirt cheap, and gosh, Mark could use that small table for his book and reading glasses, and a lamp to see by, and gee, while we’re here, we should get four wooden chairs to replace the old cane chairs that were chewed on by dogs, and are all wobbly.   I’m not sure how it all happened, but it does at IKEA and we kept finding things and Becky kept writing down the items and the aisle and bin numbers we’d find the items we wanted.

With our wish list in hand, we pushed cart to the warehouse-part of the store where Becky and I hid amongst the bins for a moment, imagining how much fun it would be to play hide-and-seek or Sardines in IKEA. 

Me and Becky hiding in the aisles and bins.

But there were things to buy, so we went to the aisles and bins that held all of the nifty things we’d seen on display.  Soon our cart looked like this. 

One look at our overflowing cart.

Clearly, a full cart makes for happy customers at IKEA.

Becky and Mark happily pushing our cart.

After rearranging our car and loading up our boxes, we stopped at Becky’s to say hi to her cat, Glen, who in his own cat-like way let us know that we could have brought home one of those stuffed rats for him. 

Becky and Glen.

Mark and I left Becky to console Glen and headed home for a few hours of manual labor.   A few nights later, we created Mark’s retirement nook.  He proved it was a good nook by taking a nap and drooling.  Little Dipper was pretty happy, too.

Mark and Little Dipper in the retirement nook.

 And so it goes, a great stepkid sacrificed an afternoon to get her dad all set for his retirement.  A stepmom took a day off to spend time with her stepkid and her husband.  And a happy guy got the nook he wanted. 
And he thanked his wife by getting her a beautiful, eight-inch long River2 Sea fishing lure. 

Valentine’s Day Lures!

Written by on February 14, 2012 1 Comment

There’s not a lady out there that can beat the Valentine’s Day presents I got this year, because I got fishing lures.  Getting fishing lures means that Mark is thinking about me, and he’s thinking about taking me fishing.  Feast your eyes on this beauty.

Pretty special, huh?

In case you don’t recognize this, it’s a herring by Savage Lures and it mimics a wounded fish.  Dreamy, isn’t it?  But it gets better.  Check out this one.

One of several lures Mark got me.

This is a Payo International lure from China.  What I love about this is the verbiage on the bottom left:  “For Big Size!  For You!  For Record!” 

 The back of the package is even better:
The warning on the back.

 Indeed, it is my goal to “Keep out of small children.”  

Luckily, I got more than one Payo lure.  This one also advised I keep out of small children.  

Another lure for my collection.

Payo also makes another lure with other nifty writing on it.  This one reads:  “the window to the Nature.”

My favorite.

And the lure is packaged upside down.

Now, for those of you that find humor in my Valentine’s presents, please note that these will be used.  Because, come spring, I will be in a boat on a lake flogging the water in an attempt to out-fish my sweetie.  It’s an ongoing thing between us, and it might have started when I designed our wedding cake and made sure the bride’s fishing pole was connected to a fish larger than the groom’s.  You’ll see that the concept carried over to my book cover.

So I am grateful for my gifts.  And when we next meet on the water, Mark, may the best lures win.


This Week’s Distraction – a Trumpeter Swan

Written by on February 06, 2012 No Comments

Yesterday, Mark and I threw a family birthday party for stepkid #4, which involved a bunch of cleaning, followed by the arrival of 4 kids, two significant others and my mom.  We drove to a local Mexican restaurant for lunch, had some birthday cake and opened a few lame presents.  By the time our highly sugared guests were shooed from the house, I had just enough time to walk around the lake with my 13-year-old female dog, Little Dipper.  The lake is only a wee bit frozen and looks like this.

A scene from our lake Sunday.

 Nearby, I saw a muskrat had come out for the last bit of sun and, well, I’m not sure what all a muskrat does on ice.  He or she did not care for my company for some reason and quickly plopped back into the water.

Muskrat chilling on ice.

Then I saw were these guys.  They didn’t seem to like my company, either, and kept flying right on by. 

Canada geese unwilling to stop in to say hi.

Nearby was the real surprise.  I had seen three swans on the lake from my distant bay window for several days and had assumed they were all mute swans.  We had a pair of mute swans nest on our lake this year and we very seldom see any native swans.  Yet there, hanging out with two mute swans yesterday was a trumpeter swan. 

Behind the two mute swans, a trumpeter swan.

Like most people who go visiting waterfowl, I took some whole, shelled corn with me, and soon the swans came over to sample some.  Clearly, the trumpeter swan had already been eating, so the corn was for dessert. 

Trumpeter swan forgot to wipe its mouth after its first meal.

The trumpeter stuck its mouth in the water, blew a few bubbles . . .


Trumpeter trumpeting in the water.

 . . . and cleaned its beak off.   Then it ate a little corn.

Trumpeter looking up from a bit of corn.

It didn’t eat for long, perhaps because corn is rather bland and my company equally so, and soon the trumpeter turned and floated away.

Trumpeter turning away.

 It’s a good thing I stopped by to say hi to the swans, because today, on my way home, all three of the swans were gone. 

And as a result, there is one less distraction from the ongoing task of marketing my book, From Zero to Four Kids in Thirty Seconds, about becoming a stepmom to those four kids I mentioned. 

My First Book Signing

Written by on January 24, 2012 2 Comments

My first book signing was last Saturday and I was really excited about it.  The set-up for the event was pretty easy–just set out some books, get all the people in line, scold the unruly, and start signing!

My book cover.

Here’s a photo of two of the people that got their autographed copy of my book.  They look pretty happy, don’t you think? 

Two people patiently waiting at the book signing.

And well, that’s all the photos we took of this event.  Because, okay, the fact is that my mom had two of her best friends over for a visit and they happen to be my godmother, Pat, and her sister, Sandy, and I’ve known them since I was hatched, and we staged this book signing.  But the important thing here is that not only am I getter better and better at stretching the truth, I have great friends willing to go out of their way to help me reach a life-long goal.  Oh sure, I still dream of a book signing with lots of people, including strangers, but with my first book just out as an e-book and only a couple dozen paperback copies in print so far, this was a nice start. 

So thank you, Sandy and Pat (shown in that order, above), and thank you, Mom, for hosting this event.