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Saturday, April 8, 2017

Game Changing Baby Carrier - Free-To-Grow Tula Baby Carrier

For those of you I don't have the pleasure of knowing in real life, I'll give you a back story about our babywearing adventure and then introduce you to the game changing baby carrier by Tula.

First, let me introduce myself, I'm nearly 40 (feel free to send gifts now, or wait until July) and expecting my last child (#6 or baby E as we call him or her). I started baby wearing in 2007 after Carmen was born. I'm pretty sure it happened about the time I found out I was expecting Andre. These two lovable children are 14 months apart and I was a single mom living on the 2nd floor of an apartment building. I starting using a Sling-Ezee ring sling as a way to survive. I wouldn't have been able to carry groceries and 2 small children safely up the stairs had it not been for babywearing. 

Those first few months were awkward to say the least. Ring slings can be confusing at first. I had other mothers come over and try to help me, but ultimately, the best way to learn is by doing something often (and of course reading the instructions). As time went on, I added an Ergo soft structured carrier to arsenal as well as a mai-tai style carrier made by a local mom. I loved being able to carry one child at a time, but being able to carry both made me super-mom. 

Several years later, I was expecting Breccan and by then there were lots of different options for babywearing. I did my homework and then also decided to share my love of babywearing by starting a local parents group called Lakeshore Baby Love. By the time Breccan came along, I had a complete library of baby carriers. I still stick with my saying that baby carriers are like jeans, what works for one person may look like you know what on another. Similarly, each of my children seemed to prefer something different as well. 

Breccan loved the ring sling, woven wrap, and stretchy wrap as a new born but as time went on he seemed to prefer the Ergo Organic. Breccan was a hefty boy and as much as he preferred the Ergo, after time I preferred our Tula and it seemed to work quite well for both of us. Delphine who is our current youngest was a lillebaby lover when she was tiny (because it was easier to use than the Tula with an infant insert), then she graduated into the Tula Baby, MJ Baby Carrier, and now we most often reach for her Tula Toddler Carrier. She still enjoys a ring sling every now and then, or even a woven wrap. She is just over 2 and frequently still asks for "uppies". 

With Delphine, I felt that the Lillebaby complete was the only carrier we needed. In fact, at one point in time we had 8 of them. Once she was over 20lbs though, the Tula was less bulky. I kept a Lillebaby to use with our niece but still had trouble answering the question "if you could have just ONE carrier, what would it be?" and my problem with answering was the fact that you need an infant insert with a Tula...I just didn't have time to play around with the insert and a newborn, so I would tell people to buy a Lillebaby if they could only get one carrier, but my personal collection was really all about the Tula. 

Now we are getting to the game changing part - because Tula just came out with the Free-To-Grow Tula Baby Carrier that works from 7 to 45 pounds with NO need for an infant insert. Go ahead and ask me "if you could have just ONE carrier, what would it be?" I can say without hesitation "Free-To-Grow by Tula"! Here's a link to get one for yourself: 
http://prz.io/0z02OBsl

I'll add more to this article after October when we can really test out the squish-worthiness of this amazing carrier!

Hugs,
~Crystal


Crystal is a secretary and musician at her church, babywearing cloth diapering mama (aka crunchy mama), business owner, active journaler, writer and blogger, Blog Tour Manager with WOW! Women on Writing, Publicist with Dream of Things Publishing, Press Corp teammate for the DairyGirl Network, Unicorn Mom Ambassador, as well as a dairy farmer. She lives in Manitowoc County, Wisconsin with her husband, four young children (Carmen 9, Andre 8, Breccan 3, Delphine 2, and baby E due in fall 2017), two dogs, two rabbits, four little piggies, a handful of cats and kittens, and over 230 Holsteins.

You can find Crystal riding unicorns, taking the ordinary and giving it a little extra (making it extraordinary), blogging and reviewing books, baby carriers, cloth diapers, and all sorts of other stuff here, and at WOW! Women on Writing.

Friday, April 7, 2017

Those Farmers

There has been plenty in the news about farming - I'm not even going to get into it because it's truly something that has caused so much pain for me personally...but I just want you to know something about those farmers effected by the current economy. I didn't know anything about farming until 6 years ago when I fell in love with a farmer and 5 years ago we fulfilled his dream of buying a farm. I can't speak for 2nd and 3rd generation farmers, but I can shed some light into what it looks like to be first generation dairy farmers on a small family farm in 2017. This is partially in response to some of the hurtful comments on social media about "those greedy farmers", "those dumb farmers", "those people who rape cows", etc...

My husband had a dream as a little boy. He would play with his tractors and dream of being a farmer. He knows each of his cows and when they are sick he sits with them and provides comfort and care. He still drives the same truck he bought in highschool (that is, when it runs). His truck is rusted and falling apart, but it gets the job done and that's what matters. Most nights he sleeps on the couch because he's too tired to climb the stairs to our bedroom. Then there are those really rough days when I wake up and go down to check on him and he's asleep on the bathroom floor...unshowered, in his underwear, asleep sitting up. He hasn't taken a day off since our wedding. His glasses are scratched and need replacing, and he hasn't seen a dentist in decades because there's no time or money. His body aches, there are holes in his undewear, his pants, his socks, and his boots are held together with duct tape. He works from 6 in the morning until well past midnight - out in the cold, the sun, the rain, and he never complains. This is his dream. He does this so YOU don't have to. He works hard to provide for YOUR families so you can punch out at the end of the day and enjoy a swim meet or dance recital.

He misses church, swim meets, baseball games, and his wife takes herself to the hospital to have his children. His children try to understand. Last year we cashed in the last of my retirement fund to buy seed to plant crops to make food for our cows. The great thing about that was it's the first year in three years that we've had a positive tax return. I'm pretty sure most of you wouldn't work as hard as a farmer for does for absolutely no pay. The man isn't crazy though - he's passionate. He's passionate about his dream and he's passionate about his family and yours. The very people he helps feed are the same ones beeping and flipping him off when he's trying to get crops off the field. Most months he spends more feeding animals and fueling tractors than he makes shipping milk. Not only is it a thankless job, the farmer is not the one getting rich.

First generation farmers don't retire. They die...with dirty hands...hoping they've done well by God. Hoping they've left something for their own little boys who play with tractors. Hoping they've loved the land as they should. They don't retire and head for Florida, they stay and keep living the dream. That is, if they are lucky enough to make it. Some farmers die on the inside as they sell their cows, close up the barns that will eventually crumble, and look for some way to pass the time and pay the bills until they are lucky enough to die. Farmers wives hide the tears, bake the bread, keep the children happy, mend the clothes, and pray...they pray for the land, the cows, the children, their husband, the crops, and the weather. They pray for the dream that they see in their little boys eyes - shining just as brightly as it still does in their husband's. And they pray for God's strength to help their husbands. They pray they'll never find their husband holding the shotgun sitting on the bale of straw because the dream is over.

Before you make a quick judgment about "those farmers" please take a moment - get to know us. I
can't explain why my husband does what he does, but I know it's not due to greed, and it's not to get rich.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

5 Star Review for Mary Kelley's "The Weeping Angel"


Greetings!

We are excited to participate in two months of excitement for Mary Kelley’s book The Weeping Angel.


Book Review by Crystal J. Casavant-Otto:

The Weeping Angel is such a beautiful tribute to World War I France and to Hubert Williams Kelley. Mary Kelley has done such a lovely job of organizing the letters to share them with the world and future generations. History books cannot move you the way personal letters and accounts of war do. Hubert Williams Kelley's letters are moving, sometimes dark, and often raw in a way that will haunt you.

I cannot imagine what would have happened had Mary Kelley not put together The Weeping Angel. This personal account would have been lost forever. This also makes me wonder how many others have boxes of letters and photos from days long gone. How many of those precious memories will never be shared? The letters in The Weeping Angel were written between 1917 and 1919 and yet, when you begin reading it feels as though you yourself have been transported back in time 100 years and you won't want to return to the present until you've finished the last page.

This book is moving and emotional; an absolutely must read for anyone (regardless of their favorite genre).


About The Weeping Angel

Now, on the Centennial of World War I, Kelley’s wish is realized with the publication of The Weeping Angel, his account of the war in northern France as he lived it. Told through letters and poems, Kelley writes home to his Kansas City family with vivid descriptions of day to day life on the edge of the battlefield. Enlisting right after graduation from Central High, he claims to play the bugle in order to be accepted and proves to be a talented raconteur and observer. Although he could not play the bugle and never really learned, he became the regimental poet of Company D of the Twelfth Engineers and found his true vocation as a writer.

Mary Kelley, his daughter, edited and researched this special collection of her father’s letters over the past six years. With the help of Colonel John Laird’s History of the Twelfth Engineers and research at the National WWI Museum, she has annotated the letters to show the actual path of the unit as they repaired and built light gauge railways to carry ordnance and materiel to the front lines in Cambrai, St. Mihiel and other important battlegrounds in France. Pte. Kelley and the 12th were among the first American troops in Europe and they stayed to prepare for the Occupation for months after the Armistice of November 11, 1918. He returned to Kansas City to become a reporter for the Kansas City Star and later the editor of American Magazine in New York.

The Weeping Angel (L’Ange Pleurer) is a small statue poised over a tomb in Notre Dame d’Amiens Cathedral, carved by Nicolas Blasset in 1636. With one hand on an hourglass and the other on a skull, the angel came to symbolize the war to Kelley and the many soldiers who visited it during WW I. He wrote about it in his letters and in 1931 when he recalled one harrowing night lying in a field near Amiens with bombs falling around him. Life is brief, death is imminent.



Additional Appearances:


Tuesday, March 28th @ 5:30pm EST with Cyrus Webb
"Cyrus Webb Presents" is the place where host Cyrus Webb introduces topics and guests that matter to you and today he is chatting live with Mary Kelley about her book “The Weeping Angel; Letters and Poems from World War I France”. Don’t miss this show!
www.blogtalkradio.com/cyruswebbpresents.


Friday, March 31st with Madeline Sharples @ Choices
Author and memoirist Madeline Sharples shares her thoughts after reading “The Weeping Angel; Letters and Poems from World War I France” by Mary Kelley. This insightful review is one you won’t want to miss!
http://madelinesharples.com/




The Weeping Angel; Letters and Poems from World War I France

Genre
Memoir / Non Fiction / Historical
Paperback: 139 pages
Publisher: Willow Avenue Books (2016)
Language: English
ISBN-13: 978-1940244709

Amazon Link


Facebook Page
https://www.facebook.com/The-Weeping-Angel-Letters-and-Poems-from-WWI-France-645728128920292/?hc_ref=SEARCH&fref=nf


Website
http://www.hwkletters.com/



Praise/Editorial Reviews

Posters in Kansas City adorned the army recruitment center: “Join up and be in France in 60 days.” Working as a soldier on the railroads in war-torn northern France during World War I, Hubert Kelley found his vocation as a poet and writer. This is the story of a boy’s journey into adulthood told through his vivid letters home written from 1917 to 1919. The Weeping Angel (L’Ange Pleureur) statue in the Amiens Cathedral came to symbolize the sadness of war to him and his fellow soldiers, and he visited it often. His poems and selected later writings are included in this volume.

“The Weeping Angel draws on one of the richest surviving collections of First World War letters to bring to life one of Uncle Sam’s most remarkable—and thoughtful—doughboys. In this compelling book, Mary Kelley restores the human story to one corner of an inhuman war. Whether they’ve read one book about the war or fifty, readers will be surprised and engaged by The Weeping Angel.”
—Christopher Capozzola, author of Uncle Sam Wants You: World War I and the Making of the Modern American Citizen

“It’s a wonderful book with so much compelling material…Kelley’s essay, ‘A Memory of Amiens,’ is extraordinary. The Weeping Angel rescues a wonderful voice from the period, as well as the story of a remarkable regiment that is too little known.”
—Steven Trout, author of On the Battlefield of Memory: The First World War and American Remembrance, 1919–1941



About Mary Kelley

Mary Kelley, editor of The Weeping Angel, is a former Broadway theater manager, non-profit arts administrator and consultant with The Field Organization, LLC. She has written in the genres of memoir and fiction. This is her first published book. She lives in Somerville MA.






About today’s reviewer:

Crystal is a secretary and musician at her church, babywearing cloth diapering mama (aka crunchy mama), business owner, active journaler, writer and blogger, Blog Tour Manager with WOW! Women on Writing, Publicist with Dream of Things Publishing, Press Corp teammate for the DairyGirl Network, Unicorn Mom Ambassador, as well as a dairy farmer. She lives in Manitowoc County, Wisconsin with her husband, four young children (Carmen 9, Andre 8, Breccan 3, Delphine 2, and baby E due in fall 2017), two dogs, two rabbits, four little piggies, a handful of cats and kittens, and over 230 Holsteins.

You can find Crystal riding unicorns, taking the ordinary and giving it a little extra (making it extraordinary), blogging and reviewing books, baby carriers, cloth diapers, and all sorts of other stuff here, and at WOW! Women on Writing.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

The Perfect Family?

What's the perfect family? When I had a boy and a girl, people would stop and mention that we had 'one of each' and how perfect that was. Apparently we would have been less perfect if we had 2 girls or 2 boys, or maybe having just one child is the true sign of imperfection? I waited a long time to have children because they're so dang sticky (don't pretend you don't know what I'm talking about...first it's sticky poop, then it's sticky spit up, then we move on to gummy snacks, suckers from the bank, and other unidentifiable things you as the mom find stuck in your vehicle, on your pants, and in your hair

Sorry - sort of went off a tangent there..

anyway - there is nothing perfect about parenting. Your house will never be as clean as it was before children. Your hair will never look the same, and let's not even talk about your body...

Then there's those of us with the truly imperfect families - because we have too many children, or the number of boys outnumbers the girls, or heaven forbid those parents who have all same sex children. Those are the families who need your pity, right? For the love of all things holy - stop commenting on the perfection or imperfection of other people's families.

I have several friends with families larger than ours and recently someone told me that it's not a competition. Well thank the Lord for that epiphany...I thought she who dies with the most children won a special whirlpool suite in eternity.

My family is not a particular size because I'm striving for perfection, because I want a football team, or because I'm competing with a friend to see which of us can have the highest percentage of Harvard graduates. I also am fully aware that I don't have to fill each and every seat in my 7 passenger mini-van. The truth is, God has blessed me with imperfection. He has blessed me with the ability to smile at the crayon on the floor. The ability to laugh at  the finger prints on the mirror without getting my undies in a bunch about the imperfection of my sagging boobies in the reflection. By most people's standards, not only is my family imperfect, but my house is a mess and my van is some sort of disgusting science project. To me, they are perfect because the little people who leave toothpaste in the sink, peanut butter on the counter, suckers stuck to the side of carseats, and goldfish crackers in the couch cushions are going to grow up and move away.

These little people who touch me all day long, break into the bathroom, use my lipstick to draw on the mirror...they are going to drive away in cars of their own someday. I'm going to be left with a clean vehicle, spotless furniture, a full bar of soap in the shower, and a heart so full because I played a part in their lives and launching them into adulthood. My hair will no longer smell like baby puke, the knees on my jeans will no longer have grass stains, and I won't have to wonder who used what on my toothbrush. I will continue to pray and thank God for my imperfect family. I will hope all my little imperfect humans can make it home at Christmas. No one will see me at the grocery store juggling a toddler on one hip and an infant on the other and make comments about how my hands are full...

So when you are feeling like your family isn't so perfect, please know that life is messy and it's supposed to be. Know that no family is perfect and it's the imperfections that really make life so wonderful. Strangers don't mean anything when they comment about the number of children we have, or the gender of those children...I think they just want to say something...and someday I may very well be that old woman who strikes up a conversation with a young mother - because she may just be bringing me so many delicious memories of my own days in the midst of the sticky fingers and dirty diapers.

Love those babies, no matter how many!

Hugs,
~Crystal

May your paths be abundantly filled with lemons, sugar, sunshine, and as many sticky hands as you can handle!



Crystal is a secretary and musician at her church, babywearing cloth diapering mama (aka crunchy mama), business owner, active journaler, writer and blogger, Blog Tour Manager with WOW! Women on Writing, Publicist with Dream of Things Publishing, Press Corp teammate for the DairyGirl Network, Unicorn Mom Ambassador, as well as a dairy farmer. She lives in Manitowoc County, Wisconsin with her husband, four young children (Carmen 9, Andre 8, Breccan 3, Delphine 2, and baby E due in fall 2017), two dogs, two rabbits, four little piggies, a handful of cats and kittens, and over 230 Holsteins.

You can find Crystal riding unicorns, taking the ordinary and giving it a little extra (making it extraordinary), blogging and reviewing books, baby carriers, cloth diapers, and all sorts of other stuff here, and at WOW! Women on Writing.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Michelle Del Ponte Reviews Mary Kelley's "The Weeping Angel"


Greetings!

We are excited to participate in two months of excitement for Mary Kelley’s book The Weeping Angel.


Book Review by Michelle Del Ponte:

Reading “The Weeping Angel” by Hubert Williams Kelley has changed my heart a bit. In the letters from Kelley, he shares vivid descriptions about the war and casualties around him. Yet, he is forbidden to give out to much information, to prevent putting anyone in danger. What got my heart, was in every letter he notes who he has heard from. In the beginning of the book he wrote many letters stating that he has not heard from home. It was heartbreaking for me to see. I think we tend to move on with our lives and forget about all the men and women risking their lives for us. WWI took approximately 11 million military deaths and 7 million civilians. It was among one of the deadliest conflicts in history.

While most of us have seen movies, pictures, or reenactments where we can picture the mass causalities left around, it is not a reality for us, thankfully. In one letter however, Hubert writes of a man who spend two days with the corpse of his brother. The man could not fathom to leave his brother, even if it meant the loss of his own safety and life.

Instead of an overabundance of gruesome details about life around him, Kelly shared stories of excitement on getting to go out on the town in Paris. He asks his family for some money to spend, because his money is all tied up on insurance. Unable to get a response to the money requests after multiple attempts, Kelly tells his family not to worry about it He assured that he would figure it out himself. I can only imagine the disappointment and anxiety he must have felt, thinking his family could not help.

One of the few comforts Hubert appeared to have, was seeing friends and acquaintances he knew from home. He acknowledged his meetings in several letters. I also giggled as he attempted to help his sister find happiness with a decent guy. Some things never change, no matter how far apart you are, in time or space. I truly enjoyed this book. I hope you do as well.


About The Weeping Angel

Now, on the Centennial of World War I, Kelley’s wish is realized with the publication of The Weeping Angel, his account of the war in northern France as he lived it. Told through letters and poems, Kelley writes home to his Kansas City family with vivid descriptions of day to day life on the edge of the battlefield. Enlisting right after graduation from Central High, he claims to play the bugle in order to be accepted and proves to be a talented raconteur and observer. Although he could not play the bugle and never really learned, he became the regimental poet of Company D of the Twelfth Engineers and found his true vocation as a writer.

Mary Kelley, his daughter, edited and researched this special collection of her father’s letters over the past six years. With the help of Colonel John Laird’s History of the Twelfth Engineers and research at the National WWI Museum, she has annotated the letters to show the actual path of the unit as they repaired and built light gauge railways to carry ordnance and materiel to the front lines in Cambrai, St. Mihiel and other important battlegrounds in France. Pte. Kelley and the 12th were among the first American troops in Europe and they stayed to prepare for the Occupation for months after the Armistice of November 11, 1918. He returned to Kansas City to become a reporter for the Kansas City Star and later the editor of American Magazine in New York.

The Weeping Angel (L’Ange Pleurer) is a small statue poised over a tomb in Notre Dame d’Amiens Cathedral, carved by Nicolas Blasset in 1636. With one hand on an hourglass and the other on a skull, the angel came to symbolize the war to Kelley and the many soldiers who visited it during WW I. He wrote about it in his letters and in 1931 when he recalled one harrowing night lying in a field near Amiens with bombs falling around him. Life is brief, death is imminent.



Additional Appearances:


Tuesday, March 21st @ Bring On Lemons with Crystal Otto
Crystal Otto talks more about “The Weeping Angel; Letters and Poems from World War I France” in her 5 star review of this unique book by Mary Kelley. Don’t miss this blog stop!
http://bringonlemons.blogspot.com/


Tuesday, March 28th @ 5:30pm EST with Cyrus Webb
"Cyrus Webb Presents" is the place where host Cyrus Webb introduces topics and guests that matter to you and today he is chatting live with Mary Kelley about her book “The Weeping Angel; Letters and Poems from World War I France”. Don’t miss this show!
www.blogtalkradio.com/cyruswebbpresents.


Friday, March 31st with Madeline Sharples @ Choices
Author and memoirist Madeline Sharples shares her thoughts after reading “The Weeping Angel; Letters and Poems from World War I France” by Mary Kelley. This insightful review is one you won’t want to miss!
http://madelinesharples.com/




The Weeping Angel; Letters and Poems from World War I France

Genre
Memoir / Non Fiction / Historical
Paperback: 139 pages
Publisher: Willow Avenue Books (2016)
Language: English
ISBN-13: 978-1940244709

Amazon Link


Facebook Page
https://www.facebook.com/The-Weeping-Angel-Letters-and-Poems-from-WWI-France-645728128920292/?hc_ref=SEARCH&fref=nf


Website
http://www.hwkletters.com/



Praise/Editorial Reviews

Posters in Kansas City adorned the army recruitment center: “Join up and be in France in 60 days.” Working as a soldier on the railroads in war-torn northern France during World War I, Hubert Kelley found his vocation as a poet and writer. This is the story of a boy’s journey into adulthood told through his vivid letters home written from 1917 to 1919. The Weeping Angel (L’Ange Pleureur) statue in the Amiens Cathedral came to symbolize the sadness of war to him and his fellow soldiers, and he visited it often. His poems and selected later writings are included in this volume.

“The Weeping Angel draws on one of the richest surviving collections of First World War letters to bring to life one of Uncle Sam’s most remarkable—and thoughtful—doughboys. In this compelling book, Mary Kelley restores the human story to one corner of an inhuman war. Whether they’ve read one book about the war or fifty, readers will be surprised and engaged by The Weeping Angel.”
—Christopher Capozzola, author of Uncle Sam Wants You: World War I and the Making of the Modern American Citizen

“It’s a wonderful book with so much compelling material…Kelley’s essay, ‘A Memory of Amiens,’ is extraordinary. The Weeping Angel rescues a wonderful voice from the period, as well as the story of a remarkable regiment that is too little known.”
—Steven Trout, author of On the Battlefield of Memory: The First World War and American Remembrance, 1919–1941



About Mary Kelley

Mary Kelley, editor of The Weeping Angel, is a former Broadway theater manager, non-profit arts administrator and consultant with The Field Organization, LLC. She has written in the genres of memoir and fiction. This is her first published book. She lives in Somerville MA.






About today’s guest reviewer:
Michelle DelPonte is a busy mom and health care worker. Her two sons are the focus of her life and she works diligently to raise awareness about autism in the community. She loves reading, anything to do with history and geocaching just to name a few of her many hobbies. Michelle, her husband Ben and their two sons Sebastian and Asher live in Manitowoc, WI on the beautiful shores of Lake Michigan where they enjoy walking and biking on the Mariner’s Trail and spending time at the Library.



Thursday, March 2, 2017

Morning Sickness Is...funny?

By definition, this is what morning sickness is: nausea in pregnancy, typically occurring in the first few months. Despite its name, the nausea can affect pregnant women at any time of day.

As a 39 year old mother with a child in diapers, a dairy farm, a Labrador retriever, school age children, blah blah blah...morning sickness is: living in a world where everything has a smell and every smell makes you want to vomit 24 HOURS A FRIGGIN' DAY....

Yesterday morning, the 3 year old was up at 3am throwing up. My amazing husband helped take care of him, but I spent the day washing and cleaning and I swear I can still smell vomit every time I try to take in oxygen.

The dog who goes out to the barn smells like he has been rolling around in deer carcasses which he has not, but between his breath and heaven knows what else, I swear he is a larger than life dragon living in the middle of my kitchen.

Speaking of the kitchen - I don't want to eat, I don't want to cook, I don't want to open the fridge. Even lettuce smells nasty. And every time I feed the children one of them has to poop and the smell of that is enough to blow over a sumo wrestler.

And while we are discussing bodily functions - I can smell a pee diaper from 40 yards away and yes, again...gagging...

Today I am going to try essential oils (peppermint, lavender, and lemon) and see if that offers some relief. So far the sea bands haven't helped. Sipping gingerale seems to offer a bit of relief and the Preggie Pop Drops are enough to get me through a car ride without pulling over and tossing my cookies.

Did I mention I don't even want to drink coffee? Now, those of you who know me know this is

VERY serious...

I've never experienced morning sickness like this. Maybe it's twins you say? I can't even respond to that because I kiss my children with this mouth.

I hope you can read this and laugh because I certainly am - however, this is the LAST baby and knowing I will never have to do this again comes with a bit of patience and peace of mind.

May your paths be abundantly filled with lemons, sugar, sunshine, and scent-free living!

Hugs,
~Crystal






leave some comments 
funny pregnancy stories?
cures for morning sickness?
share away!!!




Crystal is a secretary and musician at her church, babywearing cloth diapering mama (aka crunchy mama), business owner, active journaler, writer and blogger, Blog Tour Manager with WOW! Women on Writing, Publicist with Dream of Things Publishing, Press Corp teammate for the DairyGirl Network, Unicorn Mom Ambassador, as well as a dairy farmer. She lives in Manitowoc County, Wisconsin with her husband, four young children (Carmen 9, Andre 8, Breccan 3, Delphine 2, and baby E due in fall 2017), two dogs, two rabbits, four little piggies, a handful of cats and kittens, and over 230 Holsteins.

You can find Crystal riding unicorns, taking the ordinary and giving it a little extra (making it extraordinary), blogging and reviewing books, baby carriers, cloth diapers, and all sorts of other stuff here, and at WOW! Women on Writing.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Penny Harrison Reviews "Banged-Up Heart" by Shirley Melis

Thank you to WOW! Women on Writing, Penny Harrison, and Mari from Artotems as well as Shirley Melis. Without these amazing friends this lovely post would not be possible!

Hugs,
~Crystal



Banged-Up Heart: Dancing with Love and Loss




Review by Penny Harrison



I thoroughly enjoyed Banged-Up Heart by Shirley Melis. This book is an autobiography that was, I'm sure, not easy to write. Shirley's life was filled with great love and great sadness which led to the "banged-up" state of her heart. Through the pages, you learn about the two great men that shaped her life. Both would be with her for a shorter time than she would have wanted, but both men left her with memories and a greater sense of who she was and what she wanted. Her voice is clear and inviting and helps you to experience her relationships with Joe and John until you know these men nearly as well as she had. Touching, inspiring and truthful, the story told is one of a life lived to the fullest. A life with losses but also with growth and joy. I am grateful for this glimpse into her experiences and you will be, as well.

Paperback: 300 Pages
Genre: Memoir/Non Fiction
Publisher: Terra Nova Books (February 14, 2017)
ISBN-10: 193828870X
ISBN-13: 978-1938288708



Banged-Up Heart: Dancing with Love and Loss is available in print on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and IndieBound.


About

Banged-Up Heart: Dancing with Love and Loss is an intimate and clear-eyed account of finding love late and losing it early—and of the strength it takes to fall deeply in love a second time, be forced to relinquish that love too soon, and yet choose to love again.

When her husband of thirty years dies suddenly, Shirley Melis is convinced she will never find another man like Joe. Then she meets John, a younger man who tells her during their first conversation that he has lived for many years with a rare but manageable cancer. She is swept off her feet in a whirlwind courtship, and within months, made brave by the early death of a friend’s husband, she asks him to marry her! What follows is a year-long odyssey of travel and a growing erotic and creative partnership— until a mysterious bump on John’s forehead proves to be one of several tumors in his brain and spine.

The nine months that follow are filled with a life-threatening infection, three brain surgeries, radiation, and chemotherapy. Two years and one week after their wedding, John dies at the age of fifty-nine. More than just a love story or a memoir of mourning, Banged-Up Heart comes down solidly on the side of life. It takes you deep inside an ordinary woman, her deeply felt grief butting up against her desire for more than companionship: passion, sexual fulfillment, and self-realization. It bears eloquent witness to the wild trust it takes to fall madly in love and risk profound loss—a second time. Ultimately, it shows that it is possible to dance with a banged-up heart.



About Shirley

Shirley Melis is a longtime business writer, travel writer, and newspaper columnist who traveled the world interviewing everyone from busboys to heads of international organizations before launching a career in public relations in Washington, D.C. With Banged-Up Heart, she now takes her writing in a new direction, delving deeply into her own personal story of finding love late, losing it early, and discovering the strength to choose to love again. It is a fascinating odyssey, a journey both creative and erotic as Shirley and John work lovingly together to blend their dreams—until a mysterious bump on his forehead starts them on a tragic struggle against the dark hand of fate.

A graduate of Vassar, Shirley Melis has created an intimate memoir bearing eloquent witness to the kind of wild trust that can grow in the heart of an ordinary woman thrust into circumstances that few others must face. Now retired, she lives in Galisteo, New Mexico.

Shirley can also be found online at:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/shirleymelis/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/ShirleyMelis

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/32145012-banged-up-heart?




Thank you to WOW! Women on Writing for allowing me an opportunity to participate in this book blog tour!


Be sure to check out some of the future blog stops on this tour:






March 2 @ Book Santa Fe with Tange Dudet
Avid reader and book enthusiast Tange Dudet shares her thoughts and feelings after reading the touching memoir Banged Up Heart by Shirley Melis.
http://www.booksantafe.info/

March 3 @ The Constant Story with David W. Berner
Author and radio personality David W Berner reviews Shirley Melis's book Banged Up Heart and shares his thoughts with readers at The Constant Story.
http://davidwberner.blogspot.com/



Please feel free to leave a comment or ask a question - it's great hearing from YOU!





About today’s reviewer:

Penny Harrison is a mother of a vivacious 15 year old daughter, a wife of 16 wonderful years,
and equal opportunity crafter with a very busy schedule. In addition to her “day job”, she is also an independent consultant for a craft company and has a small craft business. She lives in a small town in Wisconsin on the shore of Lake Michigan and enjoys her summers, “cooler near the lake”.







Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Miscarriage Changes You

Of course having a miscarriage changes you. Future pregnancies are marked with hesitation and a wee bit of fear mixed in with the joy. Until 2012, I had never heard of a missed-miscarriage. I thought if you weren't bleeding or cramping everything had to be okay. I was wrong. I will spare you the details (you can read about them here), but I went in for my 12 week appointment and the heartbeat that had been there a few weeks prior had disappeared. That's when I learned about a missed-miscarriage. This morning, I'm preparing for my first OB appointment and I'm remembering all too well those feelings of loss and the fear we wouldn't have another baby.

I'm wondering this morning:

Do I feel as sick as I did yesterday?

Does my mouth taste as metal-ee as it did a few days ago?

I'm an over-thinker by nature, but a missed-miscarriage makes you even more of an over-thinker.

I am gently reminded that God knows how I'm feeling and he knows not only all the plans he has for me, but the plans he has for baby E too. Please pray with me and for me this morning that the joy may be greater than the fear.

One thing I ask from the Lord, 
this only do I seek:
that I may dwell in the house of the Lord
all the days of my life,
to gaze on the beauty of the Lord
and to seek him in his temple.
~Palm 27:4

"surely, just as I have intended so it has happened,
and just as I have planned so it will stand."
~Isaiah 14:24 NASB



May your paths be abundantly filled with lemons, sugar, sunshine, and knowledge that God is with you each step of the way.

Hugs,
~Crystal

Crystal is a secretary and musician at her church, babywearing cloth diapering mama (aka crunchy mama), business owner, active journaler, writer and blogger, Blog Tour Manager with WOW! Women on Writing, Publicist with Dream of Things Publishing, Press Corp teammate for the DairyGirl Network, Unicorn Mom Ambassador, as well as a dairy farmer. She lives in Manitowoc County, Wisconsin with her husband, four young children (Carmen 9, Andre 8, Breccan 3, Delphine 2, and baby E due in fall 2017), two dogs, two rabbits, four little piggies, a handful of cats and kittens, and over 230 Holsteins.

You can find Crystal riding unicorns, taking the ordinary and giving it a little extra (making it extraordinary), blogging and reviewing books, baby carriers, cloth diapers, and all sorts of other stuff here, and at WOW! Women on Writing.

Thriving into Old Age - a Gift from Shirley Melis

As part of her WOW!Women on Writing book blog tour, I had the privilege to interview Shirley Melis. Feel free to check out the entire interview here at the WOW!Women on Writing Blog, the Muffin.

I love how Shirley answered this question in particular; it really speaks to her character. Her goal was to leave behind some help for the rest of us - that we can thrive into old age. That message certainly rings true in her touching memoir. Keep reading to find out more...

Interview Question: You had a plan to write a book about women thriving into old age – that plan changed course, but what spurred your initial plan?

Answer by Shirley: Knowing I’d be in my sixties when I retired and wanting to write, I thought there’d be a market for a book like this. People today, especially women, can expect to live longer and healthier lives than their parents. Some may need role models. I like reading about women who are thriving mentally, emotionally, and physically despite growing older. Of course, it would be important to find women whose backgrounds and passions differed from one another. And I would have to hone my interviewing skills and figure out what questions to ask. As I told Pierrette Kemoul, a literary journal editor and writer in Brittany, when John and I were guests of hers and her husband Gwenael, I like the idea of doing something that is not only challenging and interesting but also worthwhile. Now that I’ve written a memoir and have another percolating, I don’t know when or whether I’ll ever get back to my initial plan.

And here is some more information about Banged-Up Heart,a memoir you should definitely read right away! Thank you Shirley for this priceless gift!


Thank you to WOW! Women on Writing, Mari from Artotems as well as Shirley Melis. Without these amazing friends this lovely post would not be possible!

Hugs,
~Crystal




Paperback: 300 Pages
Genre: Memoir/Non Fiction
Publisher: Terra Nova Books (February 14, 2017)
ISBN-10: 193828870X
ISBN-13: 978-1938288708



Banged-Up Heart: Dancing with Love and Loss is available in print on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and IndieBound.


About

Banged-Up Heart: Dancing with Love and Loss is an intimate and clear-eyed account of finding love late and losing it early—and of the strength it takes to fall deeply in love a second time, be forced to relinquish that love too soon, and yet choose to love again.

When her husband of thirty years dies suddenly, Shirley Melis is convinced she will never find another man like Joe. Then she meets John, a younger man who tells her during their first conversation that he has lived for many years with a rare but manageable cancer. She is swept off her feet in a whirlwind courtship, and within months, made brave by the early death of a friend’s husband, she asks him to marry her! What follows is a year-long odyssey of travel and a growing erotic and creative partnership— until a mysterious bump on John’s forehead proves to be one of several tumors in his brain and spine.

The nine months that follow are filled with a life-threatening infection, three brain surgeries, radiation, and chemotherapy. Two years and one week after their wedding, John dies at the age of fifty-nine. More than just a love story or a memoir of mourning, Banged-Up Heart comes down solidly on the side of life. It takes you deep inside an ordinary woman, her deeply felt grief butting up against her desire for more than companionship: passion, sexual fulfillment, and self-realization. It bears eloquent witness to the wild trust it takes to fall madly in love and risk profound loss—a second time. Ultimately, it shows that it is possible to dance with a banged-up heart.




About Shirley

Shirley Melis is a longtime business writer, travel writer, and newspaper columnist who traveled the world interviewing everyone from busboys to heads of international organizations before launching a career in public relations in Washington, D.C. With Banged-Up Heart, she now takes her writing in a new direction, delving deeply into her own personal story of finding love late, losing it early, and discovering the strength to choose to love again. It is a fascinating odyssey, a journey both creative and erotic as Shirley and John work lovingly together to blend their dreams—until a mysterious bump on his forehead starts them on a tragic struggle against the dark hand of fate.

A graduate of Vassar, Shirley Melis has created an intimate memoir bearing eloquent witness to the kind of wild trust that can grow in the heart of an ordinary woman thrust into circumstances that few others must face. Now retired, she lives in Galisteo, New Mexico.

Shirley can also be found online at:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/shirleymelis/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/ShirleyMelis

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/32145012-banged-up-heart?




Thank you to WOW! Women on Writing for allowing me an opportunity to participate in this book blog tour!


Be sure to check out some of the future blog stops on this tour:

March 1 @ Bring on Lemons with Penny Harrison
Wisconsin business owner and avid reader Penny Harrison shares her thoughts and feelings about Shirley Melis's memoir Banged Up Heart.
http://bringonlemons.blogspot.com/

March 2 @ Book Santa Fe with Tange Dudet
Avid reader and book enthusiast Tange Dudet shares her thoughts and feelings after reading the touching memoir Banged Up Heart by Shirley Melis.
http://www.booksantafe.info/

March 3 @ The Constant Story with David W. Berner
Author and radio personality David W Berner reviews Shirley Melis's book Banged Up Heart and shares his thoughts with readers at The Constant Story.
http://davidwberner.blogspot.com/



Please feel free to leave a comment or ask a question - it's great hearing from YOU!







Monday, February 27, 2017

Why Share so Much?

Delphine & her BFF Zoey
So - I appreciate all the kind messages, texts, PM's and all the support concerning our recent pregnancy announcement. You are all just the neatest people EVER! And haters are gonna hate, but I'm not really concerned with what they think. I am however going to take a moment to explain WHY I choose to share so much with social media. It's not because I think I'm important. It's because I know what it feels like to be alone. I can tell you about 3 life-changing moments:

1) When I was 14, my mom got in a car accident and for several weeks didn't know who she was. She thought she was 18 and had no idea who my dad or I were. My dad had already been diagnosed with cancer and I knew he was going to die. I wrote a poem about how it would feel if my Dad were dead and my mom didn't know me. As an only child, it was a very "come to Jesus" time for me. I thought I'd end up in foster care or living on the streets. Luckily I had some amazing friends and family to help me realize my worth had nothing to do with anyone other than me and God. It's hard as a kid, because family is your world.

2) When I was 17, my dad died and the night of his funeral, I drove home with his ashes. The thought
Delphine & Zoey after Kindermusik
of that 5 block drive still leaves me in tears. I'm not sad for myself, I'm sad for that little girl who lost her best friend and her entire world and who just wanted to turn back time and make the bad dream stop.

3) When I was in my mid-thirties, I lost a job I had devoted my life to. I had become a work-a-holic and didn't realize I had made that job my everything. I sat on the floor in my new house (the house I bought as a single mom) looking at my beautiful healthy children and I thought about taking my own life because I felt like a failure. God helped me see what a gift it was to have lost my job. He helped me look in the mirror and say "you have so much, this is a second chance to really live the way you should be living". I had always said my priorities were faith, family, and then my job...I had been lying to myself. I didn't take my life, I TOOK MY LIFE BACK that day.

Any of those moments could have been very different. Had I stayed lonely and afraid, the outcome would be totally different. I choose to see social media and the internet as a way to connect people. I know when I read about someone struggling, I can reach out to them. I can offer support. I know that just one person can change the world by changing the hearts of people around them. When moms reach out to me to talk about breastfeeding, babywearing, daily frustrations, I know I'm making a difference just by listening. There are also people who don't feel comfortable reaching out, but when they read a story about someone they can relate to, it gives them hope. I'm still a hot mess. Parenting isn't easy. Being a wife isn't easy. Owning a farm isn't easy. You know what IS easy? Listening is easy. Smiling is easy. Being a friend is easy.

Friendly comes easy to toddlers! 
We were super public about our pregnancy in 2012 - it ended in a missed-miscarriage in December of that year. It was hard to tell people about that miscarriage, but it allowed me to celebrate the 8 weeks of life our baby had. It also allowed lots of people to come forward and talk about their own heartbreaking losses. We all healed a little bit and we did it together. That right there is why I share so much. I started this blog as a way to heal. It's become so much more, and yet it hasn't - it's still a place people can come to heal and feel connected.

So - there you have it friends.

May your paths be abundantly filled with lemons, sugar, sunshine, and lots of friends!

Hugs,
~Crystal


Crystal is a secretary and musician at her church, babywearing cloth diapering mama (aka crunchy mama), business owner, active journaler, writer and blogger, Blog Tour Manager with WOW! Women on Writing, Publicist with Dream of Things Publishing, Press Corp teammate for the DairyGirl Network, Unicorn Mom Ambassador, as well as a dairy farmer. She lives in Manitowoc County, Wisconsin with her husband, four young children (Carmen 9, Andre 8, Breccan 3, Delphine 2, and baby E due in fall 2017), two dogs, two rabbits, four little piggies, a handful of cats and kittens, and over 230 Holsteins.

You can find Crystal riding unicorns, taking the ordinary and giving it a little extra (making it extraordinary), blogging and reviewing books, baby carriers, cloth diapers, and all sorts of other stuff here, and at WOW! Women on Writing.

Wisconsin Educator Cathy Hansen Reviews "Banged-Up Heart" by Shirley Melis

Thank you to WOW! Women on Writing, guest blogger Educator Cathy Hansen, and Mari from Artotems as well as Shirley Melis. Without these amazing friends this lovely post would not be possible!

Hugs,
~Crystal



Banged-Up Heart: Dancing with Love and Loss




Review by Cathy Hansen


I have to start off with a straightforward confession: Memoirs are not my thing. That said, when friend asked me to read this book, I looked at the description, and I was intrigued by the description of a dramatic tale about remarrying after a spouse’s death only to lose one’s second spouse far too soon.

Banged-Up Heart is definitely NOT your typical memoir. I found myself double-checking the cover during the first few chapters of the book, certain I’d picked up a sweet romance novel by mistake. The beginning of the book is charming and reads quickly, with Shirley’s chance meeting with John, as well as her first date since the loss of her first husband. There’s even a bit of comedy, as I read the details of that first date and thought, “Seriously? Who says THAT to a woman he wants to impress?” As someone who does not typically read memoirs, I enjoyed that little bit of comedy to help ease the me into a book that I knew would eventually bring heartbreak and sadness.

That’s the thing with a memoir like this--you already know the ending. You know she’s lost her second husband. You just don’t know exactly when, the details of how, or the life they lived in between. There has to be something interesting to keep you reading, and Shirley Melis delivers that something with the details of their adventures together. I started the book thinking, “How awful! That poor woman!” I ended the book thinking, “Good for them. What a life they packed into such a short time!”

Do not be mistaken--the story will take its toll, and I believe anyone who reads it will be touched in a different way and make a different connection with the story. There are parts of the book that are very difficult to read, because the moments they describe were very difficult to live. For me, there were several things that tug at me even now, a week after finishing the book. First, the fact that Shirley got remarried at all took tremendous courage. Having discussed this topic with my husband who faced the real potential of leaving our family forever if anything had happened to him while deployed in a war zone, I simply cannot imagine the challenges she experienced.

The second aspect of the story that really hit me was the idea of slowly watching the decline of a loved one’s condition, knowing that loved one would not recover. My family is experiencing this now, with the cancer diagnosis of one of my grandparents. Like reading her memoir, we know death is coming, we just don’t know when, or what will happen between now and then. I was in the middle of reading Banged-Up Heart on a recent trip to visit my family member. On this particular visit, I had to provide that family member with more assistance than I had in the past, and I too noticed the unbelievable weight loss caused by cancer. The realization that time is very short was still on my mind later that weekend, when I read a part in Shirley’s book where she compared John’s condition to that of a holocaust victim. It was like she was reading my own thoughts on the awful effect that horrible disease has on the body!

I think the biggest take-away from Banged-Up Heart is to take risks and love well. Don’t dismiss the possibility of love even when you think your chance for love has passed. Bucket lists are not just for “some day” or “eventually” because we never know just how long we or our loved ones have. Thank you, Shirley Melis, for a difficult read, but a good read. Thank you for sharing your story.

Paperback: 300 Pages
Genre: Memoir/Non Fiction
Publisher: Terra Nova Books (February 14, 2017)
ISBN-10: 193828870X
ISBN-13: 978-1938288708



Banged-Up Heart: Dancing with Love and Loss is available in print on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and IndieBound.


About

Banged-Up Heart: Dancing with Love and Loss is an intimate and clear-eyed account of finding love late and losing it early—and of the strength it takes to fall deeply in love a second time, be forced to relinquish that love too soon, and yet choose to love again.

When her husband of thirty years dies suddenly, Shirley Melis is convinced she will never find another man like Joe. Then she meets John, a younger man who tells her during their first conversation that he has lived for many years with a rare but manageable cancer. She is swept off her feet in a whirlwind courtship, and within months, made brave by the early death of a friend’s husband, she asks him to marry her! What follows is a year-long odyssey of travel and a growing erotic and creative partnership— until a mysterious bump on John’s forehead proves to be one of several tumors in his brain and spine.

The nine months that follow are filled with a life-threatening infection, three brain surgeries, radiation, and chemotherapy. Two years and one week after their wedding, John dies at the age of fifty-nine. More than just a love story or a memoir of mourning, Banged-Up Heart comes down solidly on the side of life. It takes you deep inside an ordinary woman, her deeply felt grief butting up against her desire for more than companionship: passion, sexual fulfillment, and self-realization. It bears eloquent witness to the wild trust it takes to fall madly in love and risk profound loss—a second time. Ultimately, it shows that it is possible to dance with a banged-up heart.



About Shirley

Shirley Melis is a longtime business writer, travel writer, and newspaper columnist who traveled the world interviewing everyone from busboys to heads of international organizations before launching a career in public relations in Washington, D.C. With Banged-Up Heart, she now takes her writing in a new direction, delving deeply into her own personal story of finding love late, losing it early, and discovering the strength to choose to love again. It is a fascinating odyssey, a journey both creative and erotic as Shirley and John work lovingly together to blend their dreams—until a mysterious bump on his forehead starts them on a tragic struggle against the dark hand of fate.

A graduate of Vassar, Shirley Melis has created an intimate memoir bearing eloquent witness to the kind of wild trust that can grow in the heart of an ordinary woman thrust into circumstances that few others must face. Now retired, she lives in Galisteo, New Mexico.

Shirley can also be found online at:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/shirleymelis/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/ShirleyMelis

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/32145012-banged-up-heart?




Thank you to WOW! Women on Writing for allowing me an opportunity to participate in this book blog tour!


Be sure to check out some of the future blog stops on this tour:







Feb 28 @ Bring on Lemons with Cindi Ashbeck
Cindi Ashbeck shares her thoughts after reading the touching story Banged Up Heart by Shirley Melis.
http://bringonlemons.blogspot.com/

March 1 @ Bring on Lemons with Penny Harrison
Wisconsin business owner and avid reader Penny Harrison shares her thoughts and feelings about Shirley Melis's memoir Banged Up Heart.
http://bringonlemons.blogspot.com/

March 2 @ Book Santa Fe with Tange Dudet
Avid reader and book enthusiast Tange Dudet shares her thoughts and feelings after reading the touching memoir Banged Up Heart by Shirley Melis.
http://www.booksantafe.info/

March 3 @ The Constant Story with David W. Berner
Author and radio personality David W Berner reviews Shirley Melis's book Banged Up Heart and shares his thoughts with readers at The Constant Story.
http://davidwberner.blogspot.com/



Please feel free to leave a comment or ask a question - it's great hearing from YOU!





About today’s reviewer:

Cathy Hansen is a wife, mom, teacher, independent
beauty consultant, and small business owner. She and her husband operate SeedsNBeans, a local nature store, in Two Rivers, Wisconsin.






Sunday, February 26, 2017

She's Getting a Promotion...and we swear this is the LAST baby!

I kind of like doing things a little different than most. If you follow this blog, you likely know that already. We announced we are having another baby. This will be the LAST one as I'm closing in on 40 and I'll be the big Four Oh by the time baby gets here. Anyway - we made the announcement at our 2 year old's birthday party. She looks pretty happy about it, right? (keep in mind at 2, you'll smile about anything as long as you're having a good hair day and there's chocolate-cake a plenty)

but seriously. there's lots of rule-breaking going on here:

A) I've been told you should never announce something about one child at another child's special event

B) I've been told you should never announce you are pregnant until you are out of the first trimester

C) I've been told you shouldn't want a large family in today's economy and this day and age

D) I've been told that getting pregnant at advanced maternal age is a bad idea

Holy Shit - how many rules did I break all in one damn day? Just to round it out I thought I'd add some cuss words - sorry mom.

It's funny though - you have your first baby and everyone jumps up and down and shouts for joy...Have your 5th one and people raise their eyebrows in disbelief. It's actually quite laughable. I may as well start laughing now, because I'll be nearly 60 when this baby walks across the graduation stage from high school. (now there's an eye-opener)

Now before any panties get bunched up any rear ends - no, this baby was NOT a mistake, no, we are NOT getting any genetic testing done, and YES - we know full well where babies come from and my husband has graciously volunteered to spend some time later this year with some frozen vegetables in his lap.

Thank you for joining us in this adventure. I plan to do a lot of blogging to capture this, my very last pregnancy. We hope you'll enjoy the ride as much as we plan to. In the meantime, if you come over bring some pineapple or some gingerale because this mama feels like she has the flu. We are pretty confident that baby is due the beginning of October but haven't gotten the exact date as I haven't seen the doctor yet. Regardless of any outcome, problems, or issues, we will be celebrating each and every day of Baby E!

Cheers!

xoxox
Crystal


May your paths be abundantly filled with lemons, sugar, sunshine, 
and little sticky hands to hold while sipping that oh so sweet lemonade!



Crystal is a secretary and musician at her church, babywearing cloth diapering mama (aka crunchy mama), business owner, active journaler, writer and blogger, Blog Tour Manager with WOW! Women on Writing, Publicist with Dream of Things Publishing, Press Corp teammate for the DairyGirl Network, Unicorn Mom Ambassador, as well as a dairy farmer. She lives in Manitowoc County, Wisconsin with her husband, four young children (Carmen 9, Andre 8, Breccan 3, Delphine 2, and baby E due in fall 2017), two dogs, two rabbits, four little piggies, a handful of cats and kittens, and over 230 Holsteins.

You can find Crystal riding unicorns, taking the ordinary and giving it a little extra (making it extraordinary), blogging and reviewing books, baby carriers, cloth diapers, and all sorts of other stuff here, and at WOW! Women on Writing.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Angela Williams Reviews Shirley Melis's "Banged-Up Heart"

Thank you to WOW! Women on Writing, guest blogger Angela Williams, and Mari from Artotems as well as Shirley Melis. Without these amazing friends this lovely post would not be possible!

Hugs,
~Crystal



Banged-Up Heart: Dancing with Love and Loss




Review by Angela Williams


I was skeptical when I was asked to review the book Banged up Heart. It is not a type of book that I would normally pick up and read all on my own. I am a person that likes a good mystery or thriller. My attention has to be captured within the first few chapters or I will never pick up the book again. I am not a person that reads about love stories. That was immediately what I thought this book was going to be all about. At first, it was a little bit of a struggle to get myself to read it. I think that was because of my preconceived expectations. Before I knew it, I was done with the book.

This book is more than just a love story. It is more about how two people can battle odds together and become closer than ever. It also is about how to deal with emotions after a loss. For anyone that has suffered any type of personal loss, I think it would be an easy story to relate to. It is heartbreaking and exciting all at the same time. It made me think about how I would handle a situation similar. It really made me sort of evaluate myself. Could I be strong? How would I process the emotions that Shirley was feeling? Would I have handled it the same way?

It was very well written and easy to read, once I got in to it. I think this would be the perfect book for anyone that likes books that tug at the heart strings a little.



Paperback: 300 Pages
Genre: Memoir/Non Fiction
Publisher: Terra Nova Books (February 14, 2017)
ISBN-10: 193828870X
ISBN-13: 978-1938288708



Banged-Up Heart: Dancing with Love and Loss is available in print on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and IndieBound.


About

Banged-Up Heart: Dancing with Love and Loss is an intimate and clear-eyed account of finding love late and losing it early—and of the strength it takes to fall deeply in love a second time, be forced to relinquish that love too soon, and yet choose to love again.

When her husband of thirty years dies suddenly, Shirley Melis is convinced she will never find another man like Joe. Then she meets John, a younger man who tells her during their first conversation that he has lived for many years with a rare but manageable cancer. She is swept off her feet in a whirlwind courtship, and within months, made brave by the early death of a friend’s husband, she asks him to marry her! What follows is a year-long odyssey of travel and a growing erotic and creative partnership— until a mysterious bump on John’s forehead proves to be one of several tumors in his brain and spine.

The nine months that follow are filled with a life-threatening infection, three brain surgeries, radiation, and chemotherapy. Two years and one week after their wedding, John dies at the age of fifty-nine. More than just a love story or a memoir of mourning, Banged-Up Heart comes down solidly on the side of life. It takes you deep inside an ordinary woman, her deeply felt grief butting up against her desire for more than companionship: passion, sexual fulfillment, and self-realization. It bears eloquent witness to the wild trust it takes to fall madly in love and risk profound loss—a second time. Ultimately, it shows that it is possible to dance with a banged-up heart.



About Shirley

Shirley Melis is a longtime business writer, travel writer, and newspaper columnist who traveled the world interviewing everyone from busboys to heads of international organizations before launching a career in public relations in Washington, D.C. With Banged-Up Heart, she now takes her writing in a new direction, delving deeply into her own personal story of finding love late, losing it early, and discovering the strength to choose to love again. It is a fascinating odyssey, a journey both creative and erotic as Shirley and John work lovingly together to blend their dreams—until a mysterious bump on his forehead starts them on a tragic struggle against the dark hand of fate.

A graduate of Vassar, Shirley Melis has created an intimate memoir bearing eloquent witness to the kind of wild trust that can grow in the heart of an ordinary woman thrust into circumstances that few others must face. Now retired, she lives in Galisteo, New Mexico.

Shirley can also be found online at:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/shirleymelis/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/ShirleyMelis

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/32145012-banged-up-heart?




Thank you to WOW! Women on Writing for allowing me an opportunity to participate in this book blog tour!


Be sure to check out some of the future blog stops on this tour:





Feb 23 @ Linda Appleman Shapiro
Don't miss today's interview between memoirist Linda Appleman Shapiro and Shirley Melis. Find out more about Melis and her memoir Banged Up Heart.
http://applemanshapiro.com/

Feb 23 @ Writer’s Pay it Forward
MC Simon interviews Shirley Melis about her novel Banged Up Heart for readers at Writers Pay it Forward. Don't miss this courageous memoir.
http://writerspayitforward.com/

Feb 24 @ Memoir Writers Journey with Kathleen Pooler
Kathleen Pooler shares her thoughts with readers of Memoir Writer's Journey - find out what Pooler has to say about Shirley Melis's memoir Banged Up Heart.
http://krpooler.com/

Feb 27 @ Bring on Lemons with Cathy Hansen
Educator and Entrepreneur Cathy Hansen reads and reviews Banged Up Heart by Shirley Melis. You'll want to stop by Bring On Lemons today for your chance to learn more about this touching and encouraging memoir.
http://bringonlemons.blogspot.com/

Feb 28 @ Bring on Lemons with Cindi Ashbeck
Cindi Ashbeck shares her thoughts after reading the touching story Banged Up Heart by Shirley Melis.
http://bringonlemons.blogspot.com/

March 1 @ Bring on Lemons with Penny Harrison
Wisconsin business owner and avid reader Penny Harrison shares her thoughts and feelings about Shirley Melis's memoir Banged Up Heart.
http://bringonlemons.blogspot.com/

March 2 @ Book Santa Fe with Tange Dudet
Avid reader and book enthusiast Tange Dudet shares her thoughts and feelings after reading the touching memoir Banged Up Heart by Shirley Melis.
http://www.booksantafe.info/

March 3 @ The Constant Story with David W. Berner
Author and radio personality David W Berner reviews Shirley Melis's book Banged Up Heart and shares his thoughts with readers at The Constant Story.
http://davidwberner.blogspot.com/



Please feel free to leave a comment or ask a question - it's great hearing from YOU!





About today’s reviewer:
Angie Williams is a simple girl living in a complicated world. She grew up on a family dairy farm in rural Wisconsin and loves her family and has a soft spot for all animals, but especially cows. She works at the beautiful Lighthouse Inn on the shores of Lake Michigan. When she's not cheering on the Dallas Cowboys you can find Angie hanging out with her husband, children, and extended family.


Monday, February 20, 2017

Crystal Otto Reviews Shirley Melis's "Banged-Up Heart" for WOW! Women on Writing

Thank you to WOW! Women on Writing and Mari from Artotems as well as Shirley Melis. Without these amazing friends this lovely post would not be possible!

Hugs,
~Crystal



Banged-Up Heart: Dancing with Love and Loss




Review by Crystal J. Casavant-Otto


Banged-Up Heart is a great memoir for the non-memoir-loving reader. It reads like a novel. The only difference being you pretty much know the outcome before you crack the spine of the book. So what makes you want to read the book? Why would I recommend it and give it 5 stars?

Well...
Let me ask you this. Did you know Custer's Last Stand ended? Or better yet, have you ever visited Arlington Cemetery and looked at one of the really large ornate stones? Right there you have examples of knowing how something began and how something ended - but were you satisfied with that? Didn't you want to know more? After all, life isn't about the destination, it's about the journey. We all have a starting point and an ending point whether we've gotten there yet, or not...it's the circle of life. What we do with the time in the middle is what leaves it's mark on others.

Shirley Melis's "Banged-Up Heart" is no different. She hasn't yet reached her ending point, and I hope there will be more books between now and then, but as far as how she managed to dance through love and loss, it's truly remarkable. It's not how I would have handled things, but if it were, then there wouldn't be a story to tell. That's what's fun about reading a memoir that reads like a novel - you get to experience things through the eyes and hearts of others. Melis's ability to forge ahead and dance is remarkable and quite admirable. Whether you've had a Joe in your life or a John - or you've experienced love once or many times, you'll want to pick up a copy of "Banged-Up Heart". Even if you've never been in love, this book will help you believe in love. It's beautifully written, honest, laughable at points, well edited, and a bit unconventional, yet it's a book you'll devour and that will stick in your heart long after you've finished the final page.



Paperback: 300 Pages
Genre: Memoir/Non Fiction
Publisher: Terra Nova Books (February 14, 2017)
ISBN-10: 193828870X
ISBN-13: 978-1938288708



Banged-Up Heart: Dancing with Love and Loss is available in print on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and IndieBound.


About

Banged-Up Heart: Dancing with Love and Loss is an intimate and clear-eyed account of finding love late and losing it early—and of the strength it takes to fall deeply in love a second time, be forced to relinquish that love too soon, and yet choose to love again.

When her husband of thirty years dies suddenly, Shirley Melis is convinced she will never find another man like Joe. Then she meets John, a younger man who tells her during their first conversation that he has lived for many years with a rare but manageable cancer. She is swept off her feet in a whirlwind courtship, and within months, made brave by the early death of a friend’s husband, she asks him to marry her! What follows is a year-long odyssey of travel and a growing erotic and creative partnership— until a mysterious bump on John’s forehead proves to be one of several tumors in his brain and spine.

The nine months that follow are filled with a life-threatening infection, three brain surgeries, radiation, and chemotherapy. Two years and one week after their wedding, John dies at the age of fifty-nine. More than just a love story or a memoir of mourning, Banged-Up Heart comes down solidly on the side of life. It takes you deep inside an ordinary woman, her deeply felt grief butting up against her desire for more than companionship: passion, sexual fulfillment, and self-realization. It bears eloquent witness to the wild trust it takes to fall madly in love and risk profound loss—a second time. Ultimately, it shows that it is possible to dance with a banged-up heart.



About Shirley

Shirley Melis is a longtime business writer, travel writer, and newspaper columnist who traveled the world interviewing everyone from busboys to heads of international organizations before launching a career in public relations in Washington, D.C. With Banged-Up Heart, she now takes her writing in a new direction, delving deeply into her own personal story of finding love late, losing it early, and discovering the strength to choose to love again. It is a fascinating odyssey, a journey both creative and erotic as Shirley and John work lovingly together to blend their dreams—until a mysterious bump on his forehead starts them on a tragic struggle against the dark hand of fate.

A graduate of Vassar, Shirley Melis has created an intimate memoir bearing eloquent witness to the kind of wild trust that can grow in the heart of an ordinary woman thrust into circumstances that few others must face. Now retired, she lives in Galisteo, New Mexico.

Shirley can also be found online at:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/shirleymelis/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/ShirleyMelis

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/32145012-banged-up-heart?




Thank you to WOW! Women on Writing for allowing me an opportunity to participate in this book blog tour!


Be sure to check out some of the future blog stops on this tour:



Feb 21 @ Deb Blanchard
Teacher Deb Blanchard gives insight into "Banged Up Heart" the touching memoir by Shirley Melis.
https://www.facebook.com/Reviews-by-Deb-1737715249887520/

Feb 22 @ Bring on Lemons with Angela Williams
Angela Williams reviews Shirley Melis's Banged Up Heart.
http://bringonlemons.blogspot.com/

Feb 23 @ Linda Appleman Shapiro
Don't miss today's interview between memoirist Linda Appleman Shapiro and Shirley Melis. Find out more about Melis and her memoir Banged Up Heart.
http://applemanshapiro.com/

Feb 23 @ Writer’s Pay it Forward
MC Simon interviews Shirley Melis about her novel Banged Up Heart for readers at Writers Pay it Forward. Don't miss this courageous memoir.
http://writerspayitforward.com/

Feb 24 @ Memoir Writers Journey with Kathleen Pooler
Kathleen Pooler shares her thoughts with readers of Memoir Writer's Journey - find out what Pooler has to say about Shirley Melis's memoir Banged Up Heart.
http://krpooler.com/

Feb 27 @ Bring on Lemons with Cathy Hansen
Educator and Entrepreneur Cathy Hansen reads and reviews Banged Up Heart by Shirley Melis. You'll want to stop by Bring On Lemons today for your chance to learn more about this touching and encouraging memoir.
http://bringonlemons.blogspot.com/

Feb 28 @ Bring on Lemons with Cindi Ashbeck
Cindi Ashbeck shares her thoughts after reading the touching story Banged Up Heart by Shirley Melis.
http://bringonlemons.blogspot.com/

March 1 @ Bring on Lemons with Penny Harrison
Wisconsin business owner and avid reader Penny Harrison shares her thoughts and feelings about Shirley Melis's memoir Banged Up Heart.
http://bringonlemons.blogspot.com/

March 2 @ Book Santa Fe with Tange Dudet
Avid reader and book enthusiast Tange Dudet shares her thoughts and feelings after reading the touching memoir Banged Up Heart by Shirley Melis.
http://www.booksantafe.info/

March 3 @ The Constant Story with David W. Berner
Author and radio personality David W Berner reviews Shirley Melis's book Banged Up Heart and shares his thoughts with readers at The Constant Story.
http://davidwberner.blogspot.com/



Please feel free to leave a comment or ask a question - it's great hearing from YOU!





About today’s reviewer:


Crystal is a secretary and musician at her church, babywearing cloth diapering mama (aka crunchy mama), business owner, active journaler, writer and blogger, Blog Tour Manager with WOW! Women on Writing, Publicist with Dream of Things Publishing, Press Corp teammate for the DairyGirl Network, Unicorn Mom Ambassador, as well as a dairy farmer. She lives in Manitowoc County, Wisconsin with her husband, four young children (Carmen 9, Andre 8, Breccan 3, and Delphine 1), two dogs, two rabbits, four little piggies, a handful of cats and kittens, and over 230 Holsteins.

You can find Crystal riding unicorns, taking the ordinary and giving it a little extra (making it extraordinary), blogging and reviewing books, baby carriers, cloth diapers, and all sorts of other stuff here, and at WOW! Women on Writing.