Under the Arbor: A Guest Post by Elizabeth Roper

Remember how excited you were as a kid when you got to school and realized there was a substitute sitting at your teacher’s desk? Well, get excited…because you have a sub today! I am pleased as punch to be turning over the blog to Elizabeth Roper, one funny lady and a great writer.  Elizabeth and I met at a writer’s group and bonded over occasional pieces of pie and cups of coffee at one of those all night pancake houses likely to be the backdrop of an independent film. How writerly of us. With that said, I present “Under the Arbor”…

Continue reading “Under the Arbor: A Guest Post by Elizabeth Roper”

I Am A Different Mom Now

I am really excited to have Maggie Singleton guest posting today for the second time on this blog. (You can read her first guest post about being married to an enginerd here.) Maggie has a serious talent for finding the extraordinary in the ordinary, and writing about it so sincerely and in such a Continue reading “I Am A Different Mom Now”

A Monkey Could Figure Out What Publishers Want

I am guest posting over on Tipsy Lit today to close out their Children’s Literature Week. I guess you could say this is my official announcement that I’m writing a book. I know. A blogger, writing a book? It’s unheard of. While in many ways it may seem like a natural step, it doesn’t always feel natural. In fact, it usually feels uncomfortable and frustrating writing and illustrating a book, even before a publisher enters the picture.

I hope you will head over to Tipsy Lit and check it out! Thanks!

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“An Inspiring Conversation?”: A Guest Post On Winding Road

I am really excited to have a guest post over at Winding Road today where I have a discussion with an inanimate object. And it turns out this inanimate object is kind of a smart ass. I would love for you to head over there and check it out. While you are there, poke around. Winding Road’s author, Kerry, has a very down-to-earth way of inspiring her readers to take small steps onto the path of self-improvement in order to help us navigate our lives a little more smoothly. She also talks about Elmo having balls. So basically, there’s something for everyone.

Read my guest post here:

Freestyle Fridays: “An Inspiring Conversation?” by Are You Finished Yet.

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Keeping Up With the Joneses: Neighboring Cities Flaunt Their Goods

It is a new year, and many people may already be thinking about the travel adventures they will have in 2014. I know a handful of people who have locked in a Disney trip, and others who are planning trips to the coasts. But what about the middle of our great country? After all, good things usually happen when people meet in the middle.

That’s why when Kendra Thornton approached me to co-write a post about fun places to visit in our respective cities, Chicago and St. Louis, I thought it sounded like a great idea. The two cities have a long history of being friendly Continue reading “Keeping Up With the Joneses: Neighboring Cities Flaunt Their Goods”

Brought To You By the Letter “G”: Guest Post, Giveaway, and Gratuitous Generosity

Great Grecian Goblets! I have lots of GOOD things for you today! And they all begin with the letter G.


I am super excited to have a GUEST POST over at Crazy Good Parent, a blog recently started by Janice of Snide Reply. It is a place where parents who struggle with mental disorders or illnesses can find support, share experiences, and just feel normal. Today, I am sharing my story of my own struggle with anxiety, which many people may not even know I’ve had. Because I find it to be Continue reading “Brought To You By the Letter “G”: Guest Post, Giveaway, and Gratuitous Generosity”

The Pleasure Who’s Name May Not Be Spoken (Or “How I Learned to Stop Feeling Guilty and Love Reality TV”): A Guest Post from “Dances Like a White Girl”

I am happy to report that I am really super busy with no time for blogging at the moment. Why does that make me happy? Because it gives me a reason to have my buddy IrishWriterGirl75 guest post on my blog. She has some wicked talent ya’ll. Enjoy!!

The Pleasure Who’s Name May Not Be Spoken (Or “How I Learned to Stop Feeling Guilty and Love Reality TV”) by IrishWriterGirl75

Though it has been noted for centuries that those of the Catholic or Jewish faith have the market cornered on guilt, the notion of predestination in the Presbyterian doctrine evokes nothing short of crippling self-awareness and over-analyzation of every waking action. “Did I remember to tell everyone at the potluck that there are pistachios in the Watergate Salad?” “Did I sit rigidly enough on that hard pew during the sermon or did I kind of sway when we sang “The Church’s One Foundation?” “Will I ever learn all the words to “God Be With You” even though I heard it, like, 250,000 times? And will there be a quiz?” The most anxiety inducing facet is, of course, no matter what you do, or don’t, those who have been chosen to go to Heaven have been picked long before they were born, so… good luck with that. It would be just like a bunch of suspicious Scots from the Highlands (which are cold, I mean blustery cold, made even colder with no leggings to wear under kilts) to create this belief. With that said, I’m still proud of my heritage and have really fond memories of our sweet, small, limestone church in my tiny hometown. But that guilt…well, as they saw about polyester and insulated casserole carriers, it travels well.

I have the kind of life that really, I shouldn’t have to escape from, and that makes me feel guilty. I have a great family, terrific job, supportive friends, an education, a good place to live, and plenty (if not too much, as evidenced by my scale) to eat. But I am also blessed (cursed) with a vivid and overactive imagination. And, in all fairness, I have the kind of job that deals with human emotions and reactions, that it’s like having someone vomit all over your shoes, sometimes on multiple occasions over the course of one day. Though I love to read, sometimes I can’t focus on a story, no matter how good it is. That is when I turn to my vice. Reality TV.

O.K., here goes. My show, like me, is off kilter and, quite frankly, appeals to the 16-21 year old demographic for squealy, dramatic girls and immature, dateless 25-45 year old men. And I judge not, for apparently, for these are my people. My show, like “Urkel” in days of old, emerges on Friday night at primetime and provides cheesy entertainment, met with chortles and eye rolling. But, also like “Urkel” (yeah, I know, it’s “Family Matters” for any sticklers out there), it’s got heart. And eye candy (draw your own conclusions). Since I’m not getting paid to endorse the show, I won’t do it any favors by saying the name, but I will describe it thusly : Three guys of varying maturity levels are locked, on purpose, in places reputed to be haunted, or at least condemned, over night. Their mission: to prove the existence of ghosts, and their own equilibrium (they fall down sometimes because, well, it is dark). My admission: I never miss an episode and I own two seasons of the show. As in, they are part of my DVD collection. The classiness just won’t stop. I should not like this. But I do. Therein lies the guilt.

The lesson in all of this you ask? Our society is full of ways to self-destruct, as well as ways to positively rebuild what has been lost. There’s only room for feelings of guilt, loss, and shame in one these options. As for me, I will fight feeling bad for destroying my brain cells with sugar-coated shows. After all, I could run into someone from the show “on the other side” someday, and we would have to have something to talk about. Ahhh, justification…

IrishWriterGirl75 is new to the blogging world, and she muses over on Dances Like a White Girl. She is smart, funny, and has some mad writing skills…oh, and she does in fact dance like a white girl. I’ve seen it. True story. She also has pretty much the easiest and best laugh in the world. So head on over to her blog, and check her out! 

OH, and she (along with this other really cool blogger I know who happens to be me) is also featured in the best book on the market for nursing mothers, Milk Diaries, written by the talented Maggie Singleton. It is available on Amazon!

“Caring for Your Enginerd”: A Guest Post by Maggie Singleton

I have decided it is time to diversify. Mix it up. Share the limelight. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the very first “Are You Finished Yet?’ Guest Blog Post, written by author Maggie Singleton. She is a very good friend of mine, so please don’t embarrass me. Mouths closed, “reading eyes” open, and give her your full attention.

Caring for Your Enginerd by Maggie Singleton

Kelly and I have been friends for nearly four years now. Sure, we have bonded through watching our mini-me firstborns move on from preschool to elementary school; and we have also bonded through slowly but surely finding our way as writers and bloggers; but there is something ever more central that bonds us like epoxy: our beloved enginerds.

image from http://www.urbandictionary.com

“Enginerd” is a term Kelly coined a few years back to describe her husband—a combination of intelligent person possessing nerd-like qualities who can still uphold a relatively decent conversation. That pretty much describes my enginerd, too. I’m sure you know the type…the guys who can be found reading Popular Science or working a Rubik’s cube challenge for fun at any given moment. You see, it’s more than a career for the enginerd; it’s a mindset.

Now some of the traits I’m about to describe may sound general to half the population; but forgive me for not knowing the difference. My dad was an enginerd; his dad was an enginerd; most of Andy’s close friends are enginerds; heck, even some of my friends are married to enginerds or are enginerds themselves. I’m surrounded!

In case you find yourself in my shoes, I thought I would provide you with some tips on how to properly care for the enginerd in your life:

Enginerds do not like surprises. You know that surprise birthday party you would love for your husband to throw for you and thought you’d give him the “hint” by throwing one for him? You may want to rethink that. Enginerds like to know what’s going to happen, when it’s going to happen, where they should be, how they are going to get there, and who they should know when they arrive. Simply put: they like plans. So don’t mess with them. Care for your enginerd by providing as much information about an event as possible, and then hope to God nothing changes.

Enginerds cannot take a hint. An enginerd’s mind is capable of understanding the most complex of systems and could create a machine bigger than the room you’re sitting in; but if you want that cute necklace on page 24, you’re going to have to get out a pen and paper and write it down. Take good care of your enginerd by letting your needs be known. On paper. No guesswork = far less drama in the long run.

You may get more than you asked for from an enginerd. If you ask an enginerd what time it is, you may or may not get the answer you’re looking for. Instead of simply telling you the time, he very well could launch into a dissertation about how a watch works instead. Sometimes enginerds have difficulty finding the forest in the trees. Help redirect your enginerd with gentle yet firm statements like, “I said WHAT TIME IS IT?!?”

Enginerds are efficiency experts. Why spend ten minutes talking about something that could be settled in two? Case in point: our texts to each other. More often than not, my texts would go over the 160 character limit every time I sent a message under our old plan (thankfully for me, the new one doesn’t have a limit). His reply would usually be under five words. Simple, direct, and to the point. That’s my enginerd! Perhaps you can care for your enginerd by making all of your communication in Haiku.

Enginerds are “pretty good.” I have come to realize that “pretty good” is my enginerd’s highest form of adulation. If I just knocked his socks off with a new recipe, he’ll be sure to tell me it was “pretty good.” And that flirty dress he likes is “pretty nice” looking, too. If he were to go on and on about my cooking, it would expend far too much emotion and communication for his taste (and his logic might add that I would expect that same amount of praise the next time. Smart fella.) If he keeps his cool in every situation and only ups the ante with the occasional “that’s really good,” then it takes longer to reach his drama threshold. Care for your enginerd by keeping drama to a minimum.

enginerd measuring height

Enginerds accept no substitutes. Enginerds work ceaselessly to achieve (near) perfect designs. Be it a remodeling project, a great rib recipe, or a work assignment, they want it done right—every time. And once an acceptable state of precision has been met, they do not mess with it. Ever. (Well, unless they know exactly how and why a change is necessary and statistically how much better something will be as a result, of course.) An enginerd would argue that this same consistency and standardization *should* apply to the entire household. For example, you should not substitute Kahlua for vanilla in a batch of tried and true chocolate chip cookies because your enginerd will probably sniff out the imposter ingredient like a Bloodhound. In the future, if you are unable to make something according to “exact design specifications,” do your enginerd a loving favor and make brownies instead.

I do hope that this list of tips helps you deal with your enginerd. It certainly helps me appreciate mine more just writing about him (blog therapy?). I want to thank Kelly for this fun opportunity to share about something near and dear to both of our hearts. If you enjoyed this blog, you might also enjoy an article called “Caring for Your Introvert” by Jonathan Rauch from which this blog was inspired. If you have one of those on your hands, take a look!

Maggie SingletonMaggie Singleton is an author, blogger, editor, and an advocate for women married to enginerds. And she’s always good for picking up your kid from preschool when you find yourself in a pinch because you are of course stuck in the only checkout lane open at Walmart, manned by their most inefficient employee, but I’ll be damned if you’re going to abandon ship only to come back to that hell hole later with your kid in tow to purchase the same stuff that is sitting in your basket at this very moment.

You can find her brilliant book Milk Diaries: a compilation of practical, encouraging advice from the “real” breastfeeding experts on Amazon.  Go read more of Maggie on her own blog at Perspective Writing and Editing.

And you (or the enginerd in your life) can check out what her enginerd husband is up to at Top-Down Engineering.