Tag Archives: Family

A Day in Kate’s Life ~ Christmas Preparations

How I Avoid a Christmas Meltdown

It’s that time of year again when the holiday prep, decorating, shopping and events can take a toll on my psyche. I used to take part in the madness and over the years I’ve toned down the “I’ve got to get this done!” expectations to a more modest “How can I enjoy Christmas more?” vibe.

Gone are the fourteen — yes, I did correctly say 14! Christmas trees, and in their place is a more modest number. Now, I decorate five small tabletop trees, which I cluster in the dining room on a sideboard, as well as the main tree, but even that tree has shrunk from an eight-foot height to a more modest six-foot tree.

I make only one or two Christmas cookie selections and send them off to the hubby’s workplace and home with my sons to save me from having a sugar coma throughout the holidays. I do love sweet things!   

If I have the time and feel creative, I will scrapbook and stamp my own cards, but if I’m time-crunched, I see nothing wrong with buying a nice holiday card and sending them off to close family and friends. I will use an app like JIbJab to create a funny Christmas greeting for all of my friends and family on social media. 

Time has taught me that I’d rather spend my holiday enjoying hot cocoa and a Christmas movie with my loved ones than running from one chore to another during this season.  So enjoy yourself, and if you love to shop and can afford to, do it! If you love to bake a dozen different kinds of cookies and holiday treats, knock yourself out! 

But whatever you do, make sure you make time for the ones you love, because that is what Christmas is truly about — faith, family, and friends.

Dog Days

Dog Lover. I like to think I am.

Today I’m not so sure. My grandpuppy (a full-grown 100 lb. Lab) arrived yesterday for a long visit, and by long, I mean a two-month visit.  My house was almost a dog hair-free zone prior to the visit.  Once in a great while, I will find a little memento of his last visit.  Please don’t judge my housekeeping skills, LOL!  Remember, I’m a writer.

IMG_1528To give you a little background info, this beautiful pooch had lived with us for the first two years of his life. During those two years, my life revolved around my Labbie and my writing.  My husband needed to understand, I had my priorities. The poor guy…

But the last two years have been pretty much pet-free except for periodic visits by my son and his dog. I’d gotten used to being on my own each day.  My focus was on my agenda, so my To-Do List for today included advertising for my books and the continued promotion of my latest published book, Never Show Your Hand. Also, NaNoWriMo is happening and I need to write!

What my schedule has been thus far?????

  • Wake up at 7 am
  • Quickly dress, wash my face and brush my teeth
  • Walk dog on slippery sidewalks and in circles around every interesting scent trail he can find
  • Breakfast as the dog sits by my side hoping I drop something
  • Playtime
  • A five-minute phone call to my mom as the dog barks and whines nearby
  • Snack time for “Fido”
  • A few quick Facebook posts and Instagram posts (Yay!)
  • Letting the dog out as I try to sweep the kitchen floor and clean up after breakfast
  • Proceed to untangle the dog’s lead from a tree in the yard
  • Return inside to finish sweeping the kitchen floor
  • Have to return outside to untangle the dog’s lead from a different tree in the yard

Needless to say, we are still getting used to being IMG_1744around each other. It will settle down in a few days as he adjusts to his new environment.  As I gaze at my furbaby sleeping peacefully in an armchair across from me, my smile is so big it almost makes my face hurt.

Time to get my writing done! TTYL, everyone!

 

 

What Kate’s Reading…

A Wrinkle In Time is my local book club’s selection for November. I love this book, and I read it, for the first time, when I was in third or fourth grade. It is a “YA” or Young Adult book but I would recommend it as an inspirational read for all ages.

The winner of the 1963 Newbery Medal, this book is a mix of science fiction, fantasy and the drama of coming of age for a young girl who feels like she doesn’t fit in anywhere but finds the courage to battle for those she loves.

Another Day Older

What is it about being a woman and having a birthday? I hear all the time from other females how terrible someone’s 30th, 40th or 50th birthday was for them, but I don’t really get it. I remember I was a little upset about turning 23 because I was meeting IMG_0520only 19-year-old guys and was feeling sooo much older than they were. At the time, I’d been holding down a full-time job as a nurse at a university hospital for 1-1/2 years and these dudes had just entered college.

Working at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics had a profound effect on my views on life. It was my first job as a nurse. I learned so much about medicine, nursing and the precious gift of life while I worked there. I shared laughter and good news with my patients as well as shed tears over others whose news wasn’t what anyone would have wanted to hear.

I would return to my apartment at times feeling exhilarated and at other times numbness would result in me lying fully clothed on my bed, staring at the ceiling. It changed me working in a place so closely linked with life and death. I started my quest to try the new, the scary and the crazy (at least, those things I deemed to be so). Tae Kwon Do — start classes… Join the Army Reserve — I raised my right hand… Live in Italy — “when do we leave?”… Bed & Breakfast — run one for ten years… Write books — of course!

Each decade is something to look forward to living, another chapter in my book of life needing to be written. I’ve lived in several beautiful places and visited many more. I’ve made mistakes, had a few successes, and faced the challenges life presented to me.

I turned a day older yesterday, and because it was the day of my birth, a year older too. My husband and I celebrated by drinking margaritas and eating dinner out. Afterward, we went to see a movie. My two adult sons and daughter-in-law called and wished me a Happy Birthday.

So many people have wished me well over the past few days, I want them to know I feel blessed to be surrounIMG_7641ded by so many wonderful people. I have a good life and look forward to many more years.

Getting older is about more than a few wrinkles and a few added pounds, it’s about the laughter that created those lines. It’s about the people in your life that have put the frown lines on your forehead because you worried over them. It’s about the roads traveled that have worn down your joints and put a slight hitch in your stride. It’s about more than a body that sags more than it did in the past and has a few extra pounds on it.

I’ve been lucky to live as long as I have. I will never regret turning a year older because of the blessings I’ve been given. My life has given me a reason to smile and laugh, words to write, and songs to sing at the top of my lungs.

Hell yeah, turning 58 is a good thing!

What Kate’s Reading…

Definitely check out the #OneMillionProject’s Blog by #OMP Blogger, Mark Huntley-James. In his blog, “Something to Talk About”, Huntley-James discusses his reasons for becoming a member of this organization of writers, artists, musicians and interested volunteers.

His story about how he discovered his mother’s support of one of the OMP’s charities — Cancer Research UK — shows how cancer touches so many lives around the world. Sometimes, we are intimately involved on the battlefield of this category of diseases, but this is not always the case.

Each person deals with their cancer diagnosis in their own way. Some reach out and let those close to them know what is going on during their day-in, day-out fight with it. Others prefer to keep their illness to themselves.

Our bloggers have brought wit, knowledge, compassion, and their own heartaches and battles to the One Million Project. Please take the time to read their blogs and join us in our efforts to support the work of Cancer Research UK and EMMAUS Homeless programs.  ~~ Kate

 

Just a Midwestern Girl

One of the things I love best about being female is being privileged to know so many fabulous women.  There is something about the women of the Midwest that is real. The kind of “real” which is imbued with sincerity,  caring, strength, humor, and the pursuit of fun.

They speak their minds. Some women do so bluntly in a “take no prisoners” way, but most will tell you what they think in a thoughtfully worded statement trying to help but not wound the recipient. That is the caring part of the equation.

Caring enough to bring food to an ailing neighbor IMG_8753or shoveling the sidewalk for another is a commonplace occurrence. These women are caring enough to volunteer to help out at church and school events without griping about it. They don’t think twice about helping because the culture they grew up in incorporates the ethos of good works and citizenship into daily life.

Women who get up at the crack of dawn to help milk cows before making breakfast, sending the kids off to school and heading to their “day” jobs.  After work, they work on the evening meal, head back to the barn to milk cows once again, and then drop into bed after the homework is done and the kids are bathed. A strength of body and spirit enable these women to do this day in and day out–not Monday-Friday, but 365 days a year.  Dairy farming is not for the idle.

The strength of dealing with hard work when the rewards aren’t designer clothing, fancy vacations or luxury cars. For many women in the middle of the country, our rewards are evidenced in having a roof over our heads, bills paid (but not paid off), and food on the table. Our lives are simple, but money can’t buy the luxuries our world offers.  Natural beauty, a sense of community and a focus on family are a few of our rewards.

D2B8A3FA-1AFB-49E1-BAF2-C9A424F42BE4We don’t need to get overly raucous or lewd to laugh and have a good time. A weekend of camping and/or a concert are some of my favorite outings.  We aren’t perfect, but when we aren’t our friends are there to keep us safe.

I was born in New York City, but the majority of my youth was spent in the Midwest.  I’m just a Midwestern girl, and I’m darn proud of it!

Girl Talk

I suppose entitling this blog “Girl Talk” is a bit of a misnomer because I think guys like getting together without their feminine cohorts and hashing things over with the rest of the testosterone set as much as the ladies do. I lived (as the only female) in a male-dominated household for over twenty years, and at times, I craved hanging out with the gals over margaritas — or any alcohol-based beverage, really — laughing and chatting about topics I’m sure the men in my life would do anything possible to avoid.

Today my sister and I went out for lunch over pomegranate margaritas and chimichangas, we giggled, groused and reminisced as only two women who’ve known each other for 54 years can do.  So what if we talked nonsense about manicures, wrinkles, and old boyfriends, we also caught up on each other’s families, our dreams and our concerns about our mom.

In honor of my bit of girl time, I decided to publish my short story “Girl Talk”.  Hope you enjoy it!


Girl Talk  ~~~ by Kate McGinn

The outdoor cafe was a favorite spot for the young and successful to gather on a Friday afternoon.  Vanessa Wallace sipped on her cup of black coffee nodding at the appropriate times to the buzz of conversation at her table.  She had been meeting the same group of friends on Friday afternoons for the past 8 years.  Their conversation points were essentially the same — work, men, fashion, men, bitchy women and men.  Vanessa’s mind was occupied with something else entirely.

She’d worked her way up the corporate ladder to become a successful financial analyst. Vanessa loved her job, money wasn’t a problem, and she didn’t fret about bitchy women, because she was one.  It was the age-old problem in the city — more eligible women than eligible men.  And just because they were eligible didn’t mean they met her standards.  Vanessa had very high standards.

Her boss had invited everyone and their significant others to his latest dinner party.  No way in hell was she going alone.  Vanessa had one day to find the right date.  Tonight, she was scoping out the possibilities.

“Nessa, are you listening?” Hailey asked.  “I don’t know why you even came tonight if you aren’t going to participate.”

“Sorry, Hailey.  I have a bit of a work problem.”  The group commiserated with her by nodding their heads and making sympathetic comments before heading onto the next topic.  Men.

“Well, you just won’t believe who’s back in town.”  Anita smoothed her skirt, performed a hair flip which she followed up by biting her bottom lip.  Vanessa thought Anita had the simpering female act down pat.  The girls leaned in with their heads hovering over the table to hear the latest gossip.  Vanessa leaned in along with the others, mentally chastising herself for doing so.

“Matt Summers.”  A chorus of “No!”, “You are kidding!” and “What an ass!” followed Anita’s news.

Vanessa leaned back in her chair with a slight smile flitting across her lips.  Matt Summers was a pretentious ass.  A handsome one.  He’d asked Vanessa out multiple times in the past, but she always said no.  He had a reputation, and she was focused on her career.  Maybe he had some potential as a dinner date.  Matt was wealthy and business savvy, so he would be a perfect fit for her work crowd.  She turned her attention back to the girls.

“I heard he might be here tonight,” Anita informed.  Vanessa chuckled as her friends tried, unsuccessfully, to scope out the cafe for the man of the moment.  It didn’t mean Vanessa wasn’t on the watch with her friends.  Vanessa ordered a glass of red wine hoping it would relax the knot in her stomach.

Halfway through her glass, her companions exhibited visible signs of shock.  Their eyes locked on a point behind Vanessa.  She wanted to turn around but forced herself to stay relaxed and face forward.  She felt a touch on her left shoulder as a familiar voice spoke softly in her right ear.

“I was hoping I would run into you again, Vanessa.  Can I sit down?”

“Matt Summers — I didn’t know you were back in town.”  Vanessa had found a dinner date to rival her colleagues’ trophy wives.

What Kate’s Reading

A few months ago, I was asked to join the local book club. I’d always planned on joining when it was formed a decade ago, but life and my introverted persona thwarted any plan to attend.

I was excited and frightened to go.  I knew most of the attendees — when you live in a village of less than 1000 people for over twenty years, you get to know who’s who.  My fear was garnered by writer’s doubt.  They would realize I’m a fraud.  They hated my books and were planning to tar and feather me.  Or even worse…they planned to review my book in front of me.

Well, despite my fears, none of the terrible things I thought would happen happened.  I’ve enjoyed my time with the group, their insights and the books that we’ve read.

This month’s selection is Hillbilly Elegy by J.D. Vance.  The New York Times Bestselling story is about Vance’s family, his youth and the culture of the Rust Belt areas of Ohio and Kentucky.

I felt an affinity to the characters described in this book.  They fought to protect the family and the family fought among themselves.  In my family, we were taught from a young age that “blood is thicker than water”.  Another point the author made was how even as his family moved into the middle class, they were uncomfortable with the difference in the culture around them. Behaviors which were accepted in Jackson, KY were frowned upon in Middleton, OH.

Throughout the book, J.D. Vance chronicles the events of his life and how he could have taken a different road than the one he ultimately did — graduating from Ohio State and Yale Law School.   His story made me laugh, cry and get angry.  Bounced from household to household, a parade of “father figures” and dealing with a parent with substance abuse, J.D. grew up with uncertainty and fear.  His only source of stability were his grandparents.

I highly recommend  Hillbilly Elegy, it is a moving story which helps to shed light on the reasons we have a large social and political divide in our country.  I believe it is important to see what other people have experienced and how their lives are affected by the politics of the day.

The Words No One Wants to Hear — #OMP Blog by Kate McGinn

The battle against Cancer is real and sometimes heartbreaking, and my family has andcancer-389921_1920 is currently dealing with this terrible disease. Despite being a nurse and caring for patients with cancer over the years, it hasn’t made it easier emotionally.

I support the One Million Project and their efforts to raise money for Cancer Research UK (CRUK). Check out my blog on their website. The One Million Project’s Short Story Anthologies are available on Amazon. All proceeds go to CRUK and EMMAUS’ Homeless Programs.

myBook.to/OMPFiction

myBook.to/OMPFantasy

myBook.to/OMPThriller

Snapshots of a Lovely Woman

I’m of an age now.  An age which brings with it the loss of youth in not only the mirror but in my world-view of myself. Mother’s Day is fast approaching, and not only am I a mother, but I still have my mother in my life. I’m very fortunate in many ways.

The past month has been very difficult for me. I’ve had a front-row seat watching my mom’s physical and mental decline, losing a bit more of herself day by day. Over the past few years, her mobility decreased rapidly, but her spirit remained high. Even during her fight against breast cancer, she swore to anyone who would listen that she would fight it. Sure enough, when she awoke after surgery, she stuck out her tongue at us. She’d found a way to make the solemn and frightening event emotionally lighter. In the last month, her memory has been failing, and simple tasks require step-by-step instructions.

IMG_7410My mom was born in the middle of the Great Depression on a July day so hot, my grandfather had to buy two fans for the hospital room to keep his wife and new baby girl comfortable. Mom grew up on a 560-acre farm in a house without running water, electric lights, heat or an indoor bathroom. The family used an outhouse. Kerosene lamps were used for light. They had an icebox, not a refrigerator like we have now, and every few days a new block of ice needed to be purchased to cool their perishable food.

From kindergarten until the fourth grade, Mom attended a one-room schoolhouse.  She wrote about her feelings concerning school in a short autobiography published for her family, “I hated school so my mom would take me inside the building, and the teacher would hold me until she knew my mom had gone.  I would then go outside and cry.  I did the crying for quite awhile.”

As a teenager, Mom detassled corn working in fields with

IMG_7413
Mom is #20, back row, first from left.

mile-long rows of corn under the hot summer sun in order to earn money. She was an awesome basketball player, was voted the “Carnival Queen” in high school, and graduated third in her class. She would laugh when she told others of her prestigious class ranking, informing her listeners that she’d graduated in a class of three students!

 

She never left the state of Iowa until she married my father, a native New Yorker. After their wedding, they moved to New York City. What an adventure for her! She’d never eaten pizza, flown in a plane or seen so many people from so many different cultures. But being my mom, she made friends quickly and my dad’s Irish immigrant family welcomed her.

IMG_7436There are many, many stories about this wonderful lady and her life, but I offer you a sliver, a snapshot to avoid this becoming a novella. I share these small glimpses into Mom’s life with supreme gratitude for her patience and loving care of me over the years. I wouldn’t be the woman I am without my parents.

So, on this Mother’s Day, I return back home again to honor my mother, care for her needs and grab every moment I can to laugh with her and show my love for her just as she always did for me.

Thanks for reading…Kate