I’ve moved

I’m blogging over on my author website now, and I hope you’ll join me.

I haven’t been consistent for quite some time (understatement). But I have a plan to start posting at least once a week, on Saturday mornings. I’ll continue to write about life in general, marriage, family, and so on — but my main focus will be the craft of writing and the struggles and joys of the journey.

It’s Here!

That lovely little orange square to the right of the screen is your ticket to paradise.  Well.  Not really.  But if you want to get notified by email when I update this blog, or if you want to subscribe in a reader, just click and you’re on your way.

Thanks for reading.

Mandy

On Second Thought …

Although I don’t think I’ll be posting every weekday as I was before, I have decided to start writing on this blog regularly again. If I can figure out how to do feedburner or something nifty like that, you can sign up to be notified whenever I’ve updated.

Here are some topics I plan on tackling in upcoming posts, beginning this Monday (May 5th):

– Living Parallel Lives (how tv and computers can interfere with your marriage)

– Taking Risks

– Believing in Beliefs vs. Following Jesus

– How Dating Your Spouse Makes a Difference to Your Kids

Hope you’ll tune in!

Mandy

Updates

I just posted a list of my favorite dates at Weekend Kindness. Click here to check it out.

If you want to see my current article in Marriage Partnership magazine, click here. You can read it in its entirely online.

And if you have an overwhelming urge to plunk down actual money to read my writing, you can click here to buy a copy of Chicken Soup for the Adopted Soul, which includes my piece, “Adoption Means….” (Weird side note: in the Contributors section, I am listed as “Amanda Brown Houk,” and alphabetized under “B,” making it nearly impossible to find me if you’re looking for “Mandy Houk.” What’s even weirder? When I searched for “Mandy Houk” on Amazon to find the link to the book for this post, I discovered that I am included in the Contributor section of Chicken Soup for the Soul: A Tribute to Moms. In this edition, I am listed correctly, as “Mandy Houk.” The problem? I don’t have any articles in that edition! Puzzling …)

As for this particular blog, I have decided to update it periodically, so if you can figure out how to get email notification of updates, let me know so I can post it here. (I don’t even know if that’s an available option!) In the next couple of days, I will be adding some new entries to the Book Reviews page, so look for that.

Thanks for visiting!

Stepping Down

If you have followed this blog at all, you’ll have noticed the recent sudden drop in new posts. You’ll also recall that I’ve posted a few times about my struggle to balance blogging with wifing and parenting and home schooling and writing and teaching high school.

I have never been a gifted multi-tasker. As a result, I have lately felt very much like over-pulled taffy. I’m stretched in so many different directions, I am virtually useless in all of them.

In addition, I have found that I am a groovy writer. Which means that I get into very deep grooves in my writing habits and find it difficult to jump between them. When I am in a nonfiction (bloggy) groove, it is nearly impossible for me to jump out of that, into a fiction groove. Which makes any attempt at working on my second novel extremely frustrating.

So I have decided that I cannot continue to update this blog with any regularity. I will not delete it since I find that I still get several hits from search engines each day. I will update the Book Review page as I find new books that deserve a recommendation. And I will happily let you know whenever I have a new article out (like the one in the current issue of Marriage Partnership Magazine), or if I ever wind up with my own book on a bookshelf near you.

As for blogging, I have been invited to be a guest author and editor on www.weekendkindness.net, where I will post articles on marriage approximately once per month. I hope you’ll check it out.

Thank you for your readership, whether you’ve been here once in your life, once a week, or once a day.

Good News

I have every intention of writing on this blog every Monday through Friday. But you know what they say about intentions.

This past week, my reasons for neglecting the blog were good ones. And I don’t mean that I was trapped under something heavy or my power went out or I was in a coma. By “good,” I don’t mean “legitimate.”  I just mean “good!”

You might (or might not) recall that our eldest daughter was having some mysterious health issues. The symptoms were even beginning to look like lupus, which terrified us. But on Thursday, we had an appointment with a specialist who absolutely ruled it out as even the remotest of possibilities. It does appear that she has Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis, but a mild case that might go into total remission on its own.  And if it doesn’t, there are fabulous medications that will take care of all of the symptoms.

I knew all along that I was worried about her fevers and headaches and other weird symptoms. I knew that it was disrupting my sleep, distracting me from daily tasks. But it wasn’t until the doctor said those words–he actually said, “It can’t be lupus”–that I fully realized the depth of the shadow we’ve been living under.

I didn’t go into a lot of detail on the blog, mostly because I was too scared to think about it, much less put it in writing.  I didn’t talk about it much, either.  But our dear girl was having fevers every day, along with a severe headache and fatigue, for as much as sixteen days in a row.  She’d have about a week between bouts, but  then they’d reappear.  As time went on, the fevers got higher, the headaches worse, and new symptoms cropped up, like tingling fingers, and aching legs and wrists and ankles.  This would happen every afternoon, causing us to miss several piano lessons, karate lessons, sleepovers and other events.  And I am sure she was getting tired of me asking, “Are you doing okay?” with that wrinkly concerned-mother face of mine.

The moment we got home from the doctor’s office, the shadow now lifted, I went into hyper-drive.  In the past four days, I have rearranged furniture, flipped mattresses, laundered pretty much everything remotely cloth-like in the house (not the cats, though they could use it), vacuumed and dusted at least twice, baked cookies, made a meal for a friend, sang praise song after praise song, and smiled and laughed and giggled and hugged the stuffing out of each member of my family (including the cats).

Who knew that peace was such a huge source of energy?

So, that’s what I was doing while I was not blogging.  Now that there’s nothing left to clean, I should be back in the groove of things.

WFMW: Jazz for Kids

jazzforkidsimage.jpg

Since my girls were tiny, I’ve always tried to play lots of different types of music around the house and in the car. You know, the whole “well-rounded” thing. I have never been a huge fan of “kid” cds. For the most part, I find them annoying and oversimplified. I just don’t see the need to have a whole separate genre of custom-made kid music–whether it’s original or altered–when there is so much great stuff out there to expose them to.

This cd, Jazz for Kids, is not your typical “kid” cd. None of these songs were written for kids, or altered to make them marketable to kids. They are in their original, delightfully jazzy form. And, if you don’t happen to know it yet, jazz just happens to be the happiest, bounciest, giggliest music out there.

There are two selections from Ella (whose voice both of my girls can recognize even if they hear a song they’ve never heard before), two from Slim Gaillard, one each from Louis Prima, Louis Armstrong (I bet you can guess which song), Blossom Dearie, Carmen McRae, and more.

The girls and I absolutely adore playing this cd in the car, and with all the fun we’re having, I’m fairly certain that we’ve entertained numerous passing motorists as well.

This cd most definitely works for me! Want to see what works for Shannon? Click here!

Oh. And in case you didn’t guess, the Louis Armstrong is, of course, “It’s a Wonderful World.”