Tuesday, January 27, 2015

How to be someone's favorite friend.

Want to be someone's most treasured friend?

Give them books. People love people who give them books the most. This is a proven fact.

You could start by gifting someone the This & That Series Box Set for only $4.99.



You'll save $1 off of the cover price of the individual books, AND you'll make your friend laugh and cry. Probably at the same time. It's a win/win.

It's got Lexie's story...single woman finds herself knocked up AND in love with her obstetrician. Marisol's story...snobby chick is knocked off of her self-appointed pedestal by a gritty, surly mechanic with an attitude. And, of course, Candace's story...after finding herself widowed with three small kids, she finds herself "passing time" with younger neighbor, Mason, who wants way more than a distraction.

Yup. Three full length contemporary romances. 800 pages. Booyah.

So take my friendship advice today, and give the gift your friends will love you for.

CLICK HERE TO GET THE THIS & THAT SERIES BOX SET TODAY!

Gratitude challenge week 5...

This week's prompt:

Something someone gave me.

This year for Christmas I got some seriously awesome PJ's.



Now, for those of you who don't know, authors live in their PJ's. Granted, I have a day job, too, but when I'm not working as an EA in special needs classrooms, or in Lunch Lady Land, I am always in my PJ's.

This particular pair is a plaid onesie. With a butt flap.



A butt flap!

(which can be very difficult to wrestle ones way out of when one has to pee in the middle of the night in the dark. I'm just saying.)

But the truth is, I love these PJ's. Hard.

The way to my heart is clearly through some new jammies.

I would spend day and night in them if I could. But society frowns on that.

xxoo
Brooke

Friday, January 23, 2015

So....what would you do...

If you were single, and found yourself pregnant.........then accidentally found yourself falling in love with your obstetrician...who also happens to be dating your bestie?

Yeah. Quite a conundrum.

Look at the pretty new cover....isn't it delicious?


Lexie Baump went through that exact situation. Want to know what happened? Grab your copy of Baby & Bump for only 99 cents today!

Read this excerpt, then click the link below....

Bile filled my mouth, and I clamped my fingers down, trying to hold the vomit at bay as I charged through the living room. Frustrated cries of several men rang out when I temporarily blocked their view of the flat screen. I clambered up the stairs to the second floor bathroom, and was met by a commode tightly shut with a child lock. My body heaved forward as I fumbled with one hand to unlatch the lid, but it kept landing back down on the seat with a loud thunk. With each unsuccessful attempt, my stomach lurched, filling my mouth with vomit.
Lurch. Thunk. Lurch. Thunk.
This whole pregnancy thing was for the damn birds.
Finally the lid broke open, sending pieces of the plastic lock flying in all directions.
Woops. Guess I’ll be replacing that later.
I buried my face in the porcelain bowl and relieved myself of everything I’d either tasted or eaten since the third grade. The sound of the football game raging downstairs was drowned out by my coughing and sputtering.
“You’re trying to kill me, aren’t you?” I asked my little kidney bean, my voice echoing against the dirtied water.
“You okay?” A deep voice asked.
I felt a warm hand touch my back, and I nodded, my forehead bumping against the seat. “Yeah. Just feeling a bit under the weather. Sorry to ruin your party, Bri.”
“It’s not Brian.”
I lifted my head the tiniest bit. Crap on a stick, it was Dr. Fletcher Haybee—in all of his denim shirt wearing, tousled blond hair glory!
Fumbling to flush the toilet, I snatched a piece of toilet paper off the nearby roll to wipe my mouth. Leave it to Brian and Candace to invite the gorgeous obstetrician who just had his face in my junk over for a football game and cold cuts.
“I…uh…uh…” My mind was blank. Completely blank. I’d never been caught vomiting by a hot doctor before.
Fletcher knelt down and took hold of my wrist. “Having a lot of nausea?” He grew quiet and looked at his watch. It occurred to me that he was taking my pulse.
“If I didn’t know any better, I would have thought my child hates me, and wants to slowly kill me from the inside out.” I leaned against the toilet and blew my hair off my forehead. It felt like I’d thrown up at least two major organs.
He chuckled, the sound low and gravelly. It made my empty and twisted belly heat up like a fire pit. “Are you able to keep anything down at all?”
Sweat soaked the hair at the nape of my neck, and I suddenly realized how terrible I must have looked. Curse my ultra-white skin and freckles. Whenever I’d thrown up as a kid, I turned a pasty shade of gray, and my nose got splotchy and red.
I shook my head. “Not really. Although I ate a tic tac yesterday, and I don’t think that came back up.” I looked at the now clean water in the toilet wearily. “Though it may have just now.”
Again he laughed, then put his finger under my chin to raise it. Fletcher’s bright, aqua blue eyes searched mine for a few beats. “Your pulse seems all right, and your pupils aren’t dilated. I think you’re going to be fine.”
“Great.” Using another piece of toilet paper, I wiped the back of my neck off. “How long does this morning sickness last? And why do they call it morning sickness? Shouldn’t it be called ‘all damn day’ sickness?”
When he smiled, it showed a row of bright, white teeth. They were nearly perfect, with the exception of one of his canines, which was just slightly out of alignment. It was the most endearing flaw I’d ever seen. I was surprised at how squirmy he made me feel, considering I’d just finished puking my guts out.
“A lot of women get morning sickness all day long. The good news is, it should subside around twelve to fourteen weeks,” he said. “My ex wife got so mad at me when her morning sickness kicked in. She said it was a cruel joke from God.”
Ex wife? My ears perked up and I sat up straighter. Well, as straight as I could between the bathtub and the toilet. “You were married, Dr. Haybee?”
            He sat down Indian-style across the bathroom rug from me. “Come on. Call me Fletcher.”
“Oh, I don’t want to be disrespectful.” I looked down at my tee shirt and brushed at a wet spot on the chest. Dear Lord, I hoped it was water and not puke. I reached up to the countertop where the kid’s toothbrushes were set up, grabbed the tube of toothpaste, and squeezed a dollop onto my finger.
He shrugged. “What’s disrespectful about it? I’m going to deliver your baby. That’s pretty intimate. We may as well be on a first name basis.”
“Okay, then, Fletcher. Did anyone call you Fletch growing up?” I smiled before starting to scrub my teeth with my finger.
Rolling his eyes, he picked at a dark piece of lint on the fluffy white rug. “Yeah. It drove me crazy.”
I rose up onto my knees, spit the toothpaste into the sink, and quickly rinsed my mouth out. “I can relate. Everyone has called me Bump for as long as I can remember. Geez, even my high school principal called me that.”
“No kidding?” Fletcher grinned.
“Wish I were.” I pulled my knees to my chest, and leaned against the cool porcelain of the tub.
            “There’s a certain amount of irony in that, you know.” When I gave him a strange look, he nodded at my midsection. “Beings you’re pregnant, and will soon have a bump.”
            “Thanks for reminding me.”
“Don’t feel too bad,” he lamented cheerfully. “My last name is Haybee, and I went on to become an obstetrician. All my nurses call me Dr. Baby.”
I giggled. “Dr. Baby?”
He blushed. “It’s pretty stupid.”
“I won’t argue with that.” I blew at a stray strand of my red hair. “So how many kids do you have, Dr. Baby?”
            “Just one. A daughter. Martha.” Fletcher’s eyes sparkled when he said his daughter’s name.
            “Martha? That’s beautiful. You don’t hear that name very often anymore.”
            “Thanks. It’s my mother’s name. Have you thought of any names yet?”
            I shook my head. “Ugh, no. I’m still processing the fact that I’m going to be a single mom.” I chewed the inside of my cheek and hoped he wouldn’t ask the inevitable question, but no such luck.
            “Is the father involved? Will I be meeting him at one of your appointments?”
            My teeth came down on the soft inner skin of my left cheek. “No.” When his light eyes probed mine for a second, I added, “Let’s just call this immaculate conception, okay, doc?”

            His brow relaxed. “Hint taken.”



Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Gratitude challenge week 4...

This week's prompt is...

A family member.

I decided to go with the hubs.



I love him. Mucho.

He is all of the best qualities that I happen to lack. He is the reason we're "making it."

He reminds me of Kevin James in Hitch.



Which is reason enough to love him.

In addition to that he's responsible, kind, patient, witty, wicked smaht, thoughtful, silly, and funny.

xxoo
Brooke

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Still wondering if you even WANT to read Marisol's story?

Yeah. She was a pain in the A**. But in her book, Book 2 of the This & That Series (Apples & Oranges) you get a pretty good picture of what made Marisol so....sooooo....

Marisol.

Here's an excerpt....check it out, and click the link below if you decide to give her story a whirl.


“Marisol, come inside. Now,” my nanny, Hanna, scolded me from the front porch. She, too, was mad at my dad. Not just because he’d loaded up his Jaguar convertible with suitcases without offering me so much as an explanation, but because in leaving my mother, he was also leaving her, and she’d had big plans on being the new Mrs. Vargas.
Too bad for Hanna. My father had bigger plans. And those plans didn’t include his self-obsessed wife, the nanny he’d been boinking for a year, or his daughter.
“No!” I bellowed—I was a screamer, a trait nobody who knew me enjoyed—running down the stairs to the circle drive in front of our palatial house. My father was just starting the engine on his dark green car. “Daddy, wait!”
He either didn’t hear over the sound of purring motor, or he was ignoring me He slid his aviator sunglasses onto his tanned face with the casual ease of a man leaving to play golf with his buddies. Except that he was abandoning his family for a life of less responsibility and more excitement in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
            The car started to roll forward, and I pawed at the shiny green metal with my hands. “No! Daddy, no!” I cried, stumbling in my bare feet. The cement was hot in the southern California sun, and it burned my soles. “Wait!”
            He hit the brakes, and the jaguar screeched to a halt. “Marisol? What the hell are you doing?”
            “We haven’t played with the kitty yet.” I wiped my nose with the back of my hand, and limped to the driver’s side. “You said we’d play with her. You promised.”
            My father took his sunglasses off and rubbed his eyes tiredly. “No. I said you could play with her. You, Marisol. I’ve got to go”
            He’d not yet said so, but I knew he was leaving for good. “Take me with you,” I begged. “I’ll bring the kitty, and we can all go on vacation.”
            “I’m not going on vacation.” His mouth pulled into a line. “And you’re not coming with me.”
            Tears rolled down my face, and my nose was running. But I didn’t care. “Why not?”
            “Because your place is here with your mother.” He glanced in the rear view mirror. “She needs you. She’s sad.”
            My mother wasn’t home. She’d gone to a spa for the weekend with her friend, and I’d heard her telling Hanna she’d never been happier. “She’s not sad, Daddy. But she’ll be mad when she comes home and finds out you left.”
            Even at seven years old, I’d been acutely aware that my mother had better things to do than raise a child. Especially one who’d given her stretch marks that had to be surgically corrected. That’s why Hanna was there to take care of me.
            “Come back inside,” I pleaded, tugging on the door handle. It was locked. “We can play with the kitty, and then you and Hanna can go swimming in the hot tub again. I’ll be a good girl, and go watch TV.”
            My dad winced. “I don’t want to swim with Hanna anymore.”
            I looked over my shoulder at my nanny, who was glowering at him with her arms folded across her chest. “Then you can give her the day off, Daddy. Come back inside. We still need to name the kitty. I vote Puffy. Or Sparkles. What do you want to call her?”
            He laughed, and for a millisecond, I thought things were looking up.
            “Freedom.” He slid the glasses back onto his face. “I want to call her Freedom.”
            “That’s a silly name, Daddy.” I smiled, even though I could feel something bad looming. “Can you come inside now? P-please?”
            He shook his head. “No, baby. Not this time.”
            “Can I go with you?” My voice got higher. “I can pack super fast.”
            “They don’t let kids come to Fort Lauderdale, Marisol.” His voice was low, resigned. And I knew his mind was made up. “It’s a grown up city.”
            I thought about what it would be like when Mom got home, and it was just her and me in the giant house. She was going to be annoyed with me, so much more so than she already was. The only time we were ever together was when we had company over and I needed to come down in a pretty dress for everyone to see. At least when my dad was around, he noticed me. Sure, most of the time, it was to tell me not to leave my toys around, or that I needed to be quiet because I was giving him a splitting headache. But being noticed and getting hollered at was way better than being ignored all the time.
“I don’t want to be alone.” It was all I could think of to say. “If you leave, nobody will talk to me.”
            “Go let Hanna take care of you. She’ll make you some chocolate milk.” Dad threw a glance in his rearview mirror. “I gave her a big, fat bonus check, so she’s not going anywhere.”
            “Daddy, I—”
            “I gotta go, Marisol.” He put the jaguar in gear. “Back away from the car.”
            “Please don’t go.” I wept, snot creeping out of my nose. “Please don’t leave me.”
            He grimaced at me. “Pull yourself together. You’re face is a mess.”
            “I love you, Daddy.” As soon as the words left my mouth, I felt embarrassed. We didn’t talk like that in our family. Mushiness like that only existed on television shows like the one mom used to be on. Squaring my shoulders, I said it again. “I said, I love you, Daddy.”
            He sighed. It was a long, drawn-out, irritated sigh that was almost drowned out by the purring car engine. I waited for him to say it back. For my dad to tell me that he loved me too, and that he would send for me as soon as he got settled in Florida. Maybe even a kiss or a hug, to top things off.
            But alas…Carlos Vargas didn’t do emotion.
            “Go tell Hanna to wipe your face, Marisol. Nobody wants to look at an ugly little girl with snot on her face.”
            And with that, he peeled away from me, spitting a hot burst of exhaust out of the tailpipe, and leaving me standing in the sun alone.
            I stood there crying for what felt like forever. Hanna didn’t come to get me, or to wipe my face or make me chocolate milk like my dad had promised. I stood there until my mother’s car rolled into the driveway, and she emerged looking refreshed and shiny from her time at the spa. She’d taken me by the hand and walked me into the house, through the living room, and into the oversized kitchen, where I’d promptly been passed off on Imogene, the cook.  Hanna gave her notice later that night, and I’d gotten a new nanny, Sara, the next day.
            Freedom and I spent all of our time together after that, clear until I ran off to college in Washington state, where I’d not been allowed pets in University housing. By that time, Freedom was arthritic and barely mobile, which is why she’d drowned when she’d been pushed into the pool water with the end of a ladder.
            I’d cried for days.

            It was only the second time since my dad left.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

One year ago today...

Happy One Year Anniversary!!



I took a major step towards freedom from major health issues. It's been 12 months since I embarked on a journey that has proven to be one of the most difficult things I think I'll ever do. 95 pounds later, and I am 100% diabetes free, free from neuropathy issues, free from sleep apnea, free from body dysmorphia, and free from a handful of other health issues because of my weight.

I'm free.

I know I'm not out of the woods yet....I'll never be out of the woods completely. Obesity and food addiction are bitter, fickle beasts and they don't give up their victims easily. Every day my addiction niggles at the back of my brain, and I have to fight back with every ounce of strength I have. I will have to work at this for the rest of my life, and I know it. But...for the first time in 15 years, I'm happy with my body. Sure, there are things I'd like to improve. I've still got a belly. I probably will forever. And I have wrinkles sprouting up all over the freaking place. That sucks. But overall...I'm pleased. And it's been a long time (possibly 38 years) since I've been able to say that. 

It feels so lovely. 

So.......

To celebrate my incredible journey, I've posted some pictures of where I was then and where I am now. I hope you enjoy them. I sure do! 









My my my my my...how things have changed:







"She dresses herself with strength and makes her arms strong." Proverbs 31:17

"You satisfy me more than the richest of foods." Psalms 63:5

I wouldn't dream to say that having weight loss surgery is right for everyone. I know people who have done it, and then didn't change their lifestyle, and it didn't do them a darn bit of good. I also know people who conquered their food addiction through pure willpower. I only know that it was right for me, and that my life is better for having done it. I'm so grateful for the chance I've given myself to live a longer, stronger, healthier life. I will be grateful for the rest of my life, especially when I am rocking grandbabies that I might otherwise not have met. 

One year down....I'll post more pictures in 365 more days! Happy 1 Year Anniversary, me!

xxoo 
Brooke 

Monday, January 12, 2015

Gratitude challenge week 3...

This week's prompt:

My family.

My family is super important to me. Not just for the obvious reasons, but also for a small handful of little peculiarities that I would otherwise think are just too goofy or weird to enjoy. But because it's my family....I find them endlessly endearing.



For instance, my 15 year old son drinks through the side of his mouth. He can't explain it, and doesn't even realize he's doing it, but at the dinner table, he holds his cup just slightly to the right of the center of his mouth. So. Freaking. Odd.



But, that having been said, he's also a pretty remarkable kid. He's smart. Not smart like nerdy kid smart, because he has to work for every A he gets--and believe me, he works hard. He takes his studies very seriously, and for that I am grateful. My teenager is smart in a different way. He is and always has been very, very wise beyond his years. He would look at me when he was little, and I swear, he understood every word I said, every thing we went through. He has always been kind and patient and born with an innate sense of understanding that I still haven't mastered at the age of 38. He is wise beyond his years.

My twelve year old daughter has just entered the world of social media, and I'm experiencing a level of narcissism in her that I never expected. Sure, she's a good girl. Polite, kind, thoughtful, obedient. But put that girl on Instagram and she's all about herself. It's funny to watch. (Besides, who am I to judge? After I lost weight, I became ALL about the selfie.)



That being said, my daughter is so caring and maternal. She has always had this sweet love for people and creatures smaller than her. She loves to mother her little brothers and our dog, Bear. She loves teaching little kids and listening to them read. She melts when she sees a baby and already talks about having babies of her own. Watching her love children and animals warms my heart. It makes me feel like maybe I didn't do such a bad job after all. (Though I wouldn't say I did a good job, either.) She will make an excellent mother someday. And that makes me prouder than ever.

My eight year old is a holy, naughty terror. I can't really describe it adequately. He's a monster. All day, every day, seven days a week. He's naughty. He throws fits. He lashes out. He screams. He cries. He teases. He laughs maniacally. He is insane. And yet, his teachers have nothing but good to say about him. So unfair. But lovely at the same time.



That being said, he is also one of the most tender hearted people I've ever known. One time, when we were in a second hand store, he found a ceramic bunny. Before I knew it, he'd started crying because "it was just so cute." He wants to go places and do things. He has ambition coming out the nose! But...he wants to stay home with mom and dad forever. He wants us to live forever, so that we'll never have to be apart. For such a trying child, he is also one of the most affirming children I have. He always makes sure I know how loved I am, and that makes me feel good.

My six year old refuses to go in our basement. He's terrified. And what's weird is, it's nice down there. Much nicer than the rest of our house. It's carpeted and has a decent bathroom and two nice bedrooms. The family room is well lit and has a massive TV my husband bought without talking to me. (Sniffing indignantly) I'm not sure why he hates it down there, but he's terrified.



That being said, my youngest son is the biggest miracle I've ever met. When he was two, he stopped speaking, and literally shut into himself. The silence was deafening, and the realization that our Sam was different, and not in a good way, was a harsh one. Autism is not a word any parent wants to hear, and when we heard it, my husband and I shut down. The miracle is what happened after his diagnosis. We enlisted the help of a speech pathologist, a occupational therapist, and a small handful of talented preschool teachers...and before we knew it, (actually, it was more like 3.5 years later) he was a completely different child. He talked, walked, ran, played, sang, danced, drew, and...well, just about anything any other kid could do. He healed himself. Now, don't mistake me for one of those crackpots who says that Autism can be erased with gluten free foods or essential oils...because those are dangerous and misleading accusations. He did, however, heal himself by learning to function with his Autism. He learned to accept himself and learned to function in a world that was inherently aggravating for him to exist in. Strange enough as this is, I wouldn't want him any other way.

My husband is socially impaired. Now, the truth is, the guy is smart, talented, skilled at everything he puts his mind to, supportive, responsible, and funny. He is the very best of the world, and that's the truth. However, put him in a room where he is expected to make small talk and visit with people casually...and he's a sweaty, clammed up mess. I find it cute, though it does make convincing people why I find him so funny difficult. He really is! I swear it!!



That being said, he is the best of me. I will spend my whole life trying to figure out what I did to deserve that guy.

My mother is nuts. True story. The older and more dependent on us she gets, the sillier she gets. The woman literally cracks me up on a daily basis, and probably for things she doesn't even mean to be funny with. For instance, she walks with a cane and/or a walker now. And when she walks, it's slow. Like snail slow. Usually I don't mind...though there have been a few times when I've looked back and realized I walked to fast and she was still in the middle of a cross walk. Whoopsie. But put that woman in any retail establishment, and she's gone. I mean gone. She becomes The Flash. I blink, and she's gone. I'm not saying my mom is The Flash. I'm just saying nobody's ever seen my mom and The Flash in the same room together. That's all I'm saying.

That's my mom, smiling in the corner. Not sure why my husband is sleeping.


That being said, she is my backbone. I guess that's what parents do. They grow old and you realize how important they were the whole time. It's funny how you never figure that out when you're young.

My family is delightfully weird. I wouldn't trade them at all.

P.S. My family used to have one more member. My daughter, Liyah, was (almost) adopted by us back in 2013, but was snatched away in the eleventh hour by a legal loophole created by a fractured foster care system, dysfunctional/enabling biological families, and lying defense lawyers. We don't have her anymore, and we still miss her. Every. Single. Day.



I'm not sure we'll ever recover.

xxoo
Brooke