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Jersey Shore, United States
In case any of my friends or family members actually read this Blog, please consider all Names, Characters, Places and Incidents to be the product of the author's imagination and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events or locales are entirely COINCIDENTAL...Muahhh!! Now, really, about me: I bring the crazy wherever I go, so I've been told...I make fun of myself more than anyone else ever could. I hate: the awkward silence in elevators, watches with no numbers, picky eaters, Cancer and legalism. I love: coffee, stalking Hugh Jackman, my Spanx, COMMENTS, sarcasm and writing: Middle Grade, NA, YA Paranormal and Urban Fantasy.

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Friday, August 15, 2014

Flesh Eating Zombies and Evil Ex-girlfriends Cover Reveal

Today, I am so excited to be a part of a very special cover reveal- Flesh Eating Zombies and Evil Ex-girlfriends authored by my supremely awesome friend, Miss Rachel Schieffelbein. Check out the cover below:

Isn't this cover so sick? I love it!!

OK, most of you know already that I am too big of a chicken to usually read anything even remotely related to Flesh Eating Zombies but I have to tell you, for my girl Rachel, I decided to make an exception. And man am I glad I did, because this is a wicked, twisted story and I totally loved it!! Here's the blurb:

Erwin is in hell--- Locked in his high school with his ex-girlfriend, her new pain-in-the-ass boyfriend, and a handful of others while zombies claw at the doors trying to fight their way in. The bright light in the dark is Sylvia, whose strength helps hold Erwin together when everything is falling apart. When they realize the school is no longer safe, Erwin is determined to keep the group together and get them all to safety. But he can’t save everyone. 


Release day is September 17th. Don't forget to add it to your Goodreads list!

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

"Unclean"


It's the first Wednesday of the month, and you know the drill. This is the day set aside for insecure writers across the blog-o-sphere to share all of our individual experiences, the good, the bad and the ugly. I can't say enough about this group or how encouraging they are to me. Reading and sharing our thoughts here once a month has made a tremendous impact on my writing life. If you are interested in finding out more, you can visit the Insecure Writer's Support Group Facebook page, or click here- on Alex J. Cavanaugh's site to sign up.

A few weeks ago, my youngest daughter came running up to me, a hot little mess of  boogers and tears.  I couldn't imagine what was wrong, because I had only checked on her a couple of minutes beforehand, and she was right as rain, sitting on her bed, listening to music and reading her bible. What the heck could have happened? I was shocked when she started wailing, "I'm unclean!" She was pointing to the place in scripture where it says, "Listen and understand. What goes into a man's mouth doesn't make him unclean, but what comes out of his mouth is what makes him unclean."  

My poor kid took those words straight to heart and couldn't get beyond them. I was torn between bursting out laughing or wailing right along with her.  You see, I had come to the same conclusion about myself.  I am an "unclean" writer. Yes, I've studied grammar and sentence structure. I have also read many books and taken extra writing classes to improve. But no matter what I do, I always, always, seem to screw up my tenses and/or throw in about fifty unnecessary commas. What's wrong with me? Am I too caught up in plot and climbing inside my characters' heads to focus on the details or is it because my mind is too thick to fully grasp all the rules? It doesn't matter, cause either way, I'm still stuck in the same wretched state, "unclean".

What about you? Do your CPs fantasize about bashing you over the head with an English text book? How many times can you edit your work before your eyes cross and your head splits open?  Any suggestions on how I can improve?

Monday, July 7, 2014

Kettle Corn, The Wolverine and Lessons Learned

All of you who read my July IWSG post know that I suffered another health crises this past month. But what many of you do not know is what triggered it... Since I find the cause kind of hilarious and heart-breaking at the same time, I thought, why not share this little episode of suck with my blogging buddies? So, yeah,  uh, nothing average about this chick or what plagues me. It's always something so weird, so far-out and unbelievable. I don't know why I am still taken by surprise when whacked out stuff happens to me. Cause by now you would think I'd be used to the crazy, it's kind of my normal. 

One of my favorite snacks combos of all time is KETTLE CORN and an ice cold Dr. Pepper. Maybe not the healthiest thing to munch on, but hey, it's my guilty pleasure. I have always liked the sweet and salty combination, as well as the satisfying crunch the kettle corn makes when you pop it into your mouth. About two weeks ago, I was sitting down watching The Wolverine, (recently released on video AND on HBO rotation, woot woot) and popping kettle corn in my mouth, like usual. All of a sudden I realized there was a kernel, stuck in my throat. I coughed, I gagged. I hacked like a champ. But I could not dislodge the stupid kernel. This went on for a couple of hours. The feeling was quite uncomfortable because I knew that kernel was still stuck on my tonsil, but there was really nothing else I could do about it.

TWO days later, I couldn't take it anymore. My tonsil was starting to swell a little and the feeling of having something stuck in there went from uncomfortable to down right painful. Because I am a genius I decided I should stick my finger down my throat and dislodge the stupid kernel manually. My brilliant plan worked! Once I hacked the kernel up, I thought for sure this whole ordeal was over.  (I really should know better by now.) It didn't take but a couple of hours before a raging fire started blazing in my throat. I finally decided I should get a flashlight and take a look. What I saw wasn't pretty. My tonsil had a long white line on it, and it was inflamed to the size of a golf ball. I was pretty sure that  was not good.

Around this same time, I started to feel hot all over and could barely swallow. It was time I dragged myself to the doctor. When I say dragged, I mean more like crawled. I literally crawled into her office because by the time I got in to see her that afternoon, I was in a world of hurt. The doctor said I had an infected salivary gland/duct and it was bad. She scripted me some strong antibiotics and told me to gargle with this nasty stuff every couple of hours. My immune system isn't all that great and once my tonsil got so jacked up, the rest of my body just shut down trying to fight it. Subsequently, I spent the next three weeks in bed fighting off the stupid  infection. (And eating soft, mushy foods. I felt like a baby, having to squish everything up just so I could swallow it. I pretty much lived off of Lemon Italian Ice.)

Who knew? Seriously, what are the odds? I mean, who could have guessed I would go from innocently munching on my favorite snack and watching my favorite X-man to three weeks in bed recovering?  What's the weirdest health thing/accident that has happened to you? One thing is for sure, I need to come up with a new favorite snack. Cause I won't be popping any kettle corn in my mouth any time soon! (or ever again) Any good snack recommendations? What's your favorite?

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

July Insecure Writer's Support Group


The Insecure Writer's Support Group is amazing. It meets the first Wednesday of every month. For more information or a list of participants you can visit Alex J. Cavanaugh's site or the IWSG Facebook page.

OK- this is going to have to be short and sweet this month. I am trying to keep up my optimistic attitude, like I told you about last month. Unfortunately, I haven't made any real progress on my WIP as of yet. Once again, I was stopped in my tracks due to health issues. But I am not going to let it keep me down. God willing, I will be back up to full strength and writing my little heart out again real soon!! One of the bonuses to being bed-ridden (for me) is  having nothing but quiet, alone time. It kind of sends my crazy writer imagination into overdrive!! I come up with all kinds of stories and plots and new characters. It helps take my mind off of some of the pain and is a great way to help pass the time!  (You see, if you look hard enough, you can find a positive side to any situation :))

If you don't get a visit from me today, I apologize. I am going to try and get around to as many of you all as I can, but it might take me a little longer than usual.  - Jaybird

Monday, June 23, 2014

A Little Bird's Nest update...

It's officially summer over here at the Bird's Nest. Well, at least for two of my little chicks. The oldest has four more finals and days left in this marking period. Of course, she has been working her little tail feathers off, trying to finish the last of her big projects up and cramming for her final exams. This year, her very first in Middle School, (and the extremely tough Gifted and Talented program she is enrolled in)  proved to be very challenging. We had many ups and downs. I'm happy to say, the ups outnumbered the downs, which is a very good thing indeed. Any new school environment takes time to adjust to. Overall, she had a stellar year, growing academically and physically. I can't believe my little girl is going to be an 8th grader!
Dr. Faith during a recent frog dissection.  It's not easy being green.
So Chick #2, a/k/a the middle child, just graduated from 6th grade and will be making her way over to the "big Middle School" next.  She did amazing at her graduation, winning a Peer Leadership Award (which as her momma, I was so stinking proud of, even more so than any of the academic awards she received). Sitting in the audience, watching her graduate, gave me the worst sense of deja vu. Was it only last June that I watched  daughter #1 do the very same thing? But chick #2 took it to another level when she decided to apply for the same gifted and talented program as her older sister. Gah!! The pressure of having to live up to your over-achieving big sister! I wondered and worried incessantly if this would be too much for her. Thankfully, she does not take after her anxiety-ridden mother. She welcomes any academic challenge. My smart little chickadee made it through Phase 1, (woot, woot) which means they accepted her portfolio, work samples, teacher recommendations and test scores. She had her interview and assessment tests on the 17th, which constitutes Phase 2. Just getting through to this last stage is truly amazing. Now, we just have to wait. Sitting and waiting for the phone to ring....is that hardest part, for me. Cause waiting patiently, yeah, not my strong suit.
Farrah, receiving a great big hug and award from her teacher, while the Superintendent watches and smiles.
On to daughter #3. She may be the smartest, toughest chickadee of all. It's not easy being third in line. But she always finds a way to stand out. She is truly a bird that marches to the beat of her own drum, or guitar is more appropriate, cause that's her instrument of choice.  Playing guitar, archery, being a part of the chorus, and heavily involved in Girl Scouts, are some of her favorite things. But she's no chump in the academic department either, having achieved nothing less than a 96 as a final grade in any of her classes.
Frankie on our recent trip to Florida.
 

If you couldn't already tell, The Husband and I are very proud of all three of our little chicks. We take delight in watching them grow into their diverse personalities, as well as watching all of their academic achievements, but most of all, for the loving, kind and respectful chickadees they are becoming. But man, oh man, am I really looking forward to a homework/project-free summer. One full of rest, relaxation and tons and tons of books. I can't wait to catch up on my TBR pile, that's floor to ceiling high right now. As well as get back to work on some of the writing projects I had to shove aside for lack of time during the school year, as I was too busy being chauffeur, chef, counselor, activities coordinator and social director.  Being a mom is the hardest job I have ever had, but by far the most rewarding.

What are your plans for the summer? Any of your chickadees graduate? I have to give a shout out to my  niece Holly, who graduated from high school on Friday night. I am extremely proud of her. Drop me a comment Peeps- what makes you most proud of  your chicks (or yourself)?  ~ Jaybird .

My niece Holly 


Wednesday, June 11, 2014

The Axe Epidemic

There is a new and rather disturbing trend that has become popular with Middle School boys. This fad is what my daughter and I have come to refer to as "The Axe Epidemic".   I'm not sure about anywhere else in the country, but the boys around these parts have all lost their minds and their olfactory glands, because they have decided that taking a bath in Axe body spray, is a substantial substitute for antiperspirant/deodorant. And  they would be, of course, dead WRONG!

I was first made painfully aware of this epidemic, at the beginning of the school year. Back in the early and still quite warm months of September and October, my daughter BEGGED me not to have to ride home on the late bus. At first, I thought it was because she was new and as a 7th grader, one the youngest to attend the school. I assumed she was intimidated and afraid of all the rowdy, ginormous 9th grade football players that pile onto said late bus, after practice. Like any other good, enabling mother, I started to pick her up after school everyday, thinking it would be best, just until she got settled into her new school and all. But I should have given my daughter more credit. She is her father's daughter and is not easily intimidated by anyone. Never in a million years would I have guessed the real reason my kid didn't want to take the late bus home.

A significant amount of time passed. I saw her adjusting well to her school and becoming comfortable in her classes and new routine.  I suggested she start taking the late bus home again. That's when she broke down and said, "Mom, I just can't take it." I swooped in like an after-school special. I was armed and ready to go with my love who you are, go self-esteem, be a leader not a follower speech... But before I even got through my awesome opening statement, she jumped in, cutting me off saying, "Mom, do you think I am afraid of the football players?"  "Yes, I did. I do. Wait, aren't you?"  "NO!" She yelled at me and started laughing in my face. Which was reassuring, I guess. After containing herself, she added, "I don't want to take the bus home with them because they smell so bad they make me want to puke! They come out of the locker room in a cloud of Axe so thick you can't  breathe. I have to hold my breath the whole way home or inhale the fumes. They make the late bus smell like Axe and hoagie. It's disgusting!!"

My question is, why isn't anyone telling these poor, stinky boys that Axe is NOT a substitute for deodorant? If not a parent, what about a coach? A friend? A sister? Have any of you fallen victim to the Axe epidemic?

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

June Meeting of the Insecure Writer's Support Group


For more information or to find a list of the other participants in this month's meeting of the Insecure Writer's Support Group, pop on over here: Alex J. Cavanaugh.

This month I am not really in the mood to rehash and dwell on all of the same old writer insecurities that have been plaguing me. You know, the old, I'm not good enough, check. I'm afraid to fail, check. I have ZERO time, check. I lack inspiration, check. Slow pacing, check, bad grammar/editing, check, check...flat characters...check. Oh yeah, all of those stupid insecurities are still with me. I haven't beaten them, yet. But I believe with all certainty, I can. And one day, I will!

This month, even though every excuse I have had from the beginning is  holding onto me like a desperate mother who reaches out and grabs a fist full of  her toddler's shirt, I'd like to think of myself more like one of those kids who doesn't stop, but kind of wiggles and wrestles themselves away from whatever or whoever is trying to hold them back! I'd like to start to change my way of thinking and stay in a positive frame of mind. I may wrestle and struggle. But at least I'm fighting! And one day, I'm gonna come up swinging. I will break free.  I will stamp out each and every last one of those ugly excuses from my mind, until they no longer exist.  What about you? What do you need to break free from? Let's make a break for it, together!!!

Friday, May 30, 2014

The Cephalopod Coffeehouse Meeting


Hey All, it's the last Friday of the month and that means it's time for a meeting of The Cephalopod Coffeehouse. If you are not familiar with this fun, informal group of book enthusiasts or it's illustrious host, the Squid, I strongly urge you to go check it out.  For a list of  participants click here:  The Armchair Squid.

The month of May has been so busy, unfortunately, it's left very little time to read. Somehow, I still managed to squeeze in a little book time and steal a minute or two here and there to finish a couple of books.  Out of the few I managed to read, I'd have to say my favorite was the debut novel of Sally Green called,  "Half Bad".

Initially, since it's YA, I picked this book up to pass on to one of my daughters. Once I read the first sentence on the jacket, I decide I might have to read the book myself.. This is what caught my attention: "Sixteen year old Nathan lives in a cage: beaten, shackled, trained to kill."   Whaaa?  I wanted to know what happened to him, what landed him in the cage, why is he shackled? I had so many questions. I decided I would read the first chapter. Because for some inane reason, I assumed that the first chapter of this book would provide me with all of the answers to those questions. Guess what? Spoiler alert: it doesn't!!! So I had to keep on reading. And reading...

This book is written in flashback and out of order. It can seem confusing at first, and I was pissed because I just wanted to know what the heck is going on. But if you stick with it, all of your questions will be answered. The not knowing is oddly compelling. It sucks you in and makes this a real page turner. As I have stated before, plot and pacing are important, but I am basically a character driven reader. Nathan is one of those characters that is unique and flawed and yet you cannot help from championing him. His choices, good and bad, will keep you turning pages until you finally, finally find out what will become of him.

Half Bad is book one and an awesome beginning to this unique trilogy. I am quite interested in continuing to read this series, not just for my daughter, but now for myself as well!  Any of you read Half Bad? What did you think? What was the best book you read this month?  Drop me a comment and let me know- Jaybird

Friday, May 16, 2014

Wrestling with Deja vu

This morning I was struck with a bad case of deja vu. Butterflies are swirling around in my stomach and my mind's swarming with all kinds crazy thoughts. These anxious feelings are ones I'd previously fought and thought I'd overcome. But here they are again, trying to reel their ugly little heads.

I am but a few short weeks away from my daughter Farrah graduating from elementary school. Since my girls are only a year apart, last May I faced these same feelings with Faith, daughter #1.  Let's just say, I took Faith's  graduation and subsequent move up to middle school about as well as one takes a colonoscopy prep. It was vile, messy and tough for me to swallow. I fear change, so much! I love the familiar. The familiar is so awesome because it gives us that illusion of having some control over our lives...LOL. Even though I know it's only an illusion, I still find myself desperately clinging to it.

Oh man, last year, at Faith's graduation, I had worked myself up into such a state, I was a fast disaster! Hot flashes assaulted me one after another in a relentless wave of  fury and nuclear heat. The flashes melted the foundation right off my face and left my cheeks, both sets, soaking wet and dripping with sweat. Any traces of dignity the hot flashes didn't rob me of were completely obliterated by the loud, booger filled sobs and subsequent nose blowing that ensued whenever the Principal announced my daughter's name. It was ridiculous. I was being ridiculous. (Can you imagine what I'll be like when they graduate high school? Arggh!)  Why couldn't I just enjoy her success and milestone? Why was I such a hot mess? Nope, this neurotic mom was consumed with her own trepidation and fear. My old nemesis had come up and bit me hard on my sweaty butt checks: stupid, stupid change!!

Because I allowed my stupid fear of change to cripple me last year and I was so stinking angry at myself about it afterwards, I never thought I'd be going down this road again. I thought I was over this. How could these feelings I felt with Faith (and I thought I had defeated) come right back up again this morning with Farrah? Yet, here we are. Just like when I eat hot peppers, those lousy feelings are crawling right back up my throat again, repeating themselves.

Thoughts of losing my darling, sweet, innocent elementary school student and exchanging her for the dreaded middle schooler haunted me. I was terrified of losing Faith to the age of puberty and hormones and disrespect. The age wherein your mom suddenly goes from being your center, to persona non grata.  Oh yeah, I wallowed in that sad cloud of self-pity and lament over my baby girl growing up and possibly not needing me or gasp, wanting me around anymore, for the entire summer. When Faith started school in September, I cried every day for three weeks. I cried because I felt like I lost her. She went from being home every day at 2:30- to not coming home until 8:00 at night!! Between her sports and activities and new academic commitments, I never got to see her! I missed her SO much. Somewhere, deep, deep down inside, (that rational part of me that likes to hide a lot) knew, this was what was best for her. Growing up is part of life. But I couldn't help myself from feeling so bereft and lost without her. I'm ashamed to tell you how long and how hard I had to pray before I finally yanked my head out of that cloud of negativity and self-pity I was wallowing in and pulled it together.

Funny thing is, as I look back and reflect on this year, it was full of astounding growth and change for Faith. Not just physically but mentally. And all of the growth and change in her has been (praise God) completely positive! If only, if only, I could say the same for her mother! How can I even entertain these deja vu feelings with Farrah, when clearly I saw no good come of  them before? Especially since none of my stupid fears even came to fruition! So, I have to ask, have any of you found yourselves revisiting a situation you thought you had a handle on, only to wrestle with it, all over again?

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Happy Mother's Day

Three reasons I will have a blessed Mother's Day!
Don't forget to show your momma some love this weekend. Happy Mother's Day to all of you mothers out there :) God Bless. Have a great weekend everyone!!
My girls and I in on out trip to Epcot :)


Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Blinking Icons- Insecure Writer's Support Group


Today is the first Wednesday of the month, which means it's time for another meeting of the IWSG. To find out what this group is all about or to join in all of the insecure fun and games, check out Ninja Captain Alex's site or the IWSG Facebook page for more information.

I have been sitting here for what seems like a century, watching that blinking icon flash on and off  and on and off the screen, in a bit of a trance. One second it's there and then the next, it's gone. Kind of like my thoughts. Oh, I have brilliant flashes and moments of sheer genius while writing. My fingers will fly over the keys pounding out my characters, dialogue, plot and building worlds. When this burst of creativity happens, I can barely contain myself. My joy is complete in my creation. But for some reason, my insecurity will creep up on me and that creative light will dim. My positive feelings and enthusiasm for my work will come to a grinding halt. My mind gets stuck in that disappearing phase of the icon.  And I'm gone.

I struggle to find that connection, that spark again. Instead of fighting through it, I have this destructive tendency to pull into my shell, totally clam up and refuse to share what I'm working on with anyone else. I convince myself that it's all crap and not worth anyone else's time. Why would other people connect with my characters when they are all one dimensional and flat? I've been stuck in these starts and stops for quite a while now. How can I convince myself to push past my insecurities and find the strength to press on? Do any of you suffer from blinking icons? Flashes of pure brilliance and clarity one day, and the next, all goes dark?




Monday, May 5, 2014

A-Z Reflections Post and Jaybird's Sweet Peeps Giveaway Winner!


How is everybody doing after the 2014 A-Z Challenge? I definitely needed the last few days off to rest. As I was reflecting on my participation this year, there were some definite highs and serious lows about the challenge. I'll start with-

The lows:
1. I didn't comment  or follow as many new blogs as I would have liked. I am pretty disappointed in myself about this as it was my #1 goal for the challenge. I really wanted to get around to comment and follow more blogs than I did last year! But every day I found myself, out of time.
2. We decided at the last minute to go on vacation for a week, which made commenting and posting during that time, quite a challenge. It was next to impossible to find  a good Internet connection while on the road, and I was waking up really early and/or going to be very late on vacation, just to finish posts and/or find a place to connect to the Internet. It was NOT easy.
3. Vying for the computer at the same time as my daughter, kind of stymied my creativity. I am not used to waiting to write my posts. Normally, when inspiration strikes, I am jumping right on the computer and typing away (otherwise my addled brain will forget what I wanted to say). But this year, I found that almost every time I thought of something interesting to post, there was Miss Faith, with her cute little bum in MY chair. Ironically, it wasn't until the last week of the challenge that  we realized Faith could post directly from her phone!!! Grrr.
4. I don't think I'm as funny as I used to be. Overall, I think last year's posts were WAY funnier and that pisses me off. I know my inner comedian is in there somewhere! I need to dig deep and find her again.

Here are the highs:
1. I was able to do this challenge with Faith. She was very encouraging and we helped each other push through the pain. I just love that kid to pieces, even when she was driving me crazy and stealing my writing chair and computer.
2. Somehow, I managed to find time to write and post while on vacation! I still can't believe I never missed a day. Some of the posts during the week we were away might have been lame, but I was able to push on through and get it done!
3. When things got tough, I didn't quit. That makes me ridiculously happy.
4. I was able to hit 201 Peeps!! That, my friends, is a huge milestone.

In honor of hitting 200 Peeps, I decided to do a giveaway. To those of you who entered, THANK YOU SO MUCH. Because I'm technologically challenged and don't have the slightest clue how to set up a proper Rafflecopter-giveaway-thingy, I kicked it old school and wrote down all the names of everyone who entered on little slips of paper and placed them into a hat. Then I had my impartial judge with glitter fingers (my daughter Farrah who avoids this blog and knows nothing about any of the names inside the hat) pick out a slip of paper. That system may take a little longer, but it still works. And the winner is:

 THE BEER BOYS!!!


It really warmed my heart to see their names get pulled out of the (look close for the "made in China" tag) hat, because Brandon and Bryan a/k/a the Beer Boys are two of my oldest and dearest followers. By the way, if you don't follow A Beer for The Shower, you are missing out of some hilarious posts and two really amazing guys. Big Congrats Boys! Shoot me an e-mail me at fvfbfn@verizon.net and I will send your Sweet Peeps Giveaway prizes and surprises right away!  Wishing you all a wonderful week! ~ Jaybird




Wednesday, April 30, 2014

A-Z Letter Z is for Zoo

Can't believe we're done-but here we are at Letter Z. Faith and I made it!! Thanks to everyone who commented and kept up with this theme-less hot mess of  A-Z posts. And great, big thanks to everyone who commented and/or  followed Faith's blog.  (Today she is featuring my mom's recipe for zeppole; go check it out. They are made of awesome) I am so happy Faith and I were able to do this challenge together. It wasn't always easy- especially while we were on vacation, had Internet issues or were both vying for the same computer,  but we managed. Any time we spend together is very special to me. Thanks!
Oh, how fast they grow! These are my girls, a few years ago, at the Cape May Zoo.
The zebra exhibit at the Cape May Zoo.
 Letter Z. Z is for the zoo. I absolutely LOVE the zoo. (Maybe because it reminds me of my life.) Ever since I was a little  kid, I have loved visiting zoos. I've been to zoos all around America and have a strong fondness and affection for every single one. From the small- like the Popcorn Park Zoo, who has my kind of heart because they rescue hurt, abandoned or disabled animals, to the very large, like the San Diego Zoo in California. While honeymooning in Hawaii, I dragged The Husband to visit the Honolulu Zoo. The Honolulu Zoo has to be the most beautifully landscaped zoo I've ever seen. But my favorite zoo of all, is the Cape May Zoo, right here in South Jersey.

Cape May Zoo doesn't have all the animals or notoriety some of the other zoos have but what it does have, is special.  First and foremost it's free! Can you believe that? They suggest you make a donation but you decide how much you'd like that amount to be. Which I adore. Because that means no one has to loose out on going to the zoo for lack of funds. They have lots of picnic areas and covered pavilions and playgrounds, where the girls and I like to camp out. We bring a picnic lunch and just enjoy the beautiful scenery. They also have nature paths and a train and a carousel and ice cream. Oh, I want to go right now! Too bad the kids are at school.
Faith, Frankie, Farrah and G'ma (my MIL) at Cape May Zoo. Love the expression on Faith's face. 
Are you a fan of zoos? What's your favorite animal? I love elephants. They are pregnant for two years straight! (I can relate to that, LOL.) Another cool elephant fact- a momma elephant won't leave it's baby without a babysitter. And they only choose babysitters that are familiar- like Aunts or cousins to watch their young. That  fascinates me! But... deep down you all know I'm a crazy cat lady :) Those big cats are simply astounding. I have been at the Cape May Zoo when the lion wakes up, opens his mouth and roars. Holy H is it FIERCE. The whole ground shakes!! You hear that roar loud and clear no matter where you are in the zoo. He is King of the jungle, for sure.

Hope you all enjoy your day and the relief of completing another A-Z Challenge. Peace Peeps! ~Jaybird


Tuesday, April 29, 2014

A-Z Letter Y is for YES

YES! We are almost done. These last few days of  A-Z posting for Faith and I have been a little trying. Faith has an unrelenting schedule and I'm always in awe of how that kid keeps it all together. Me, on the other hand, can just forget about ever pulling my shiz together.  It's not going to happen. I'm not being pessimistic here, just realistic. Last night, I fell asleep before Jeopardy even started. (That's earlier than a baby and every senior citizen I know!)  I wound up having very weird and disturbing dreams because of it too. And I woke up, still tired. Thank God for strong coffee!! Did any of you ever fall asleep on the couch and wake up disoriented, still tired and wondering what the heck is wrong with you to dream such bizzaro dreams, like me?
Faith and I on our recent trip to "Italy" or  Disney's version of it.
She really, really wants to travel to Italia for her 16th B-day.
The Husband and I told her if she can learn to speak fluent Italian, we will take her. :)

Here are a few completely bizarre Jaybird dream facts:
1. In my dreams, I'm super tough and physically strong. (The polar opposite of how I am in real life)
2. Nine times out of ten, this Bird can actually fly. (Which would be awesome if I really could, wouldn't it?)
3. In my dreams I often return to this one house that I recognize as being mine, but it's not any of the houses I've ever actually lived in. It's so weird! Funny thing is, I would love to live in this house. It's a huge, old Victorian that's got turrets and hidden doorways and tons of bedrooms. It's big enough to comfortably fit my entire family and all the strays I host at the Bird's Nest. My hope is one day, in real life, I will actually find that house and be in a position to buy it!
4. There are quite a few times I show up places without my shoes on or missing some vital thing I need.
5. Almost every night, I wind up dreaming that I have to pee. And I wake up and have to go do just that!!!

(**Just a reminder, anyone who comments on this crazy blog between now and May 1st will automatically be entered in my Sweet Peep Giveaway!)

Saturday, April 26, 2014

A-Z Challenge Letter W is for Woo hoo and Whaaaa?

First, I am very excited to announce I made it to 200 peeps/followers. So great big Woo Hoo- Check back in on Monday for details on Jaybird's Sweet Peep Give-Away to properly celebrate that!! Now on with the whaaa portion of this post:

Recently, on our travels the fam and I pulled up to a McDonalds drive-thru window (don't judge) to place an order. The first thing we heard was the requisite,

"Welcome to McDonald's. Would you like to try the new bacon onion cheddar burger?" In this deep, velvety-smooth Luther Vandross/James Earl Jones perfect-for-cartoon-voice-over kind of voice.

The Husband said, "No thank you."

And the beautiful, deep, rich voice replied, "What can I get for you today?" 

The Husband proceeded to rattle off the long and complicated standing order our family of five has whenever we hit up a Mickie D's. It usually takes a while to get it right. But that brilliant voice repeated everything back with complete accuracy. Then said,

 "Will that complete your order today?"

The Husband, with so much military and southern breeding, can't help from answering any question without adding a very respectful  "Yes, sir."

But to our surprise, the deep, velvety-smooth voice came back out of the box sounding completely indignant. She said, "I'm NOT a sir."

The Husband, sputtering, managed to say something like  "Whaaaa?"

She repeated herself. And this time she was clearly indignant and a bit put out: "I said, I'm NOT a sir."

Well I'll be darned! Everyone in our vehicle went completely silent. The Husband and all the kids looked at me and each other, eyes bugging out of our heads trying not to burst out laughing, but not wanting to insult this woman further. Because clearly we had already insulted her without meaning to. How could we have possibly known? With that kind of voice, we all automatically assumed it had to belong to a male who was somewhere around 6 "5" and roughly the size of a barge. Thankfully, The Husband recovered enough to throw out a quick apology as we headed over to the pick up window. I'm sorry but there is no way we were the first or only people to think that woman was a dude with that kind of voice!

My voice is definitely feminine, but it's on the low end of the register. It's also whiny and usually comes out  louder and much more nasal than I intend it too. One of these days I am going to figure out how to do a VLOG so you all can get a good laugh from hearing my New Jersey accent. Recently, I found out the kids in middle school made up a nickname for the boys whose voices didn't quite change yet. They call them  "squeakers".  What's your voice like?

Friday, April 25, 2014

A-Z Challenge Letter V is for Von Willebrand

Today I wanted to talk about von Willebrand. Is he some sort of conductor or musician? Isn't that a type of car?  No! Erik von Willebrand is the name of the Finnish doctor who discovered the bleeding disorder that I have. Since it is not commonly known and a lot of people ask me about it,  I thought I would take the opportunity to explain a bit about it.

It is not a rare disease, just wildly misdiagnosed. It is caused by a defect or deficiency of a blood clotting protein, called the von Willebrand factor. There are three different levels/degrees of severity, one being the mildest form. In type one the factor is lower than normal, and/or levels may be reduced. In type three you may lack the factor all together and it is the most serious form of this disease. Von Willebrands is familiar. Which means it is inherited and passed down from a family member. That is one of the reasons why it is very important to know your family medical history.

It's funny, I went 28 years without being diagnosed.  It wasn't until my first "trauma" that I was finally diagnosed with this disease. What was my first trauma you ask? That would be the fun-filled delivery of my first born, Miss Faith.  I bled uncontrollably after delivery and had complications. At first, the young, good-looking intern and on-call OB-GYN doc that they tell you-don't worry you will only get him if there is some kind of disaster and your regular doc is dead- well, I got him. Although he was very nice, he had never dealt with or saw someone bleed like me before. He thought I had a cervical tear and started to prep me for surgery. Thankfully, my old, ugly but wizened and just-about-ready-to-retire or die doctor who I happen to adore, returned in the wee hours of the morning. He was able to figure out what was going on and stop my bleeding.

So, here I am, 12 years later. I'd like to think I'm a little wiser about this disorder. I found out (through multiple blood tests and specialists- not only do I have this disease, so does my sister, my mother, my Auntie and my cousin all on my mom's side of the family. My girls have a 50/50 chance of me passing this on to them too. ) I am so thankful I was the first to be diagnosed. Especially since my cousin Lauren is about to have her first baby. Knowledge is power and I am so very grateful she is well informed and prepared for her delivery.

Have any of you ever hear of von Willebrans disease? Any of you suffer from some form of bleeding disorder? Have you ever suspected you may have a bleeding disorder?

I'm not a doctor but in case you suspect you might have a bleeding disorder, here are some of the more common symptoms of von Willebrands: lots of bruising or prolonged bleeding, recurrent nosebleeds, bleeding after brushing of teeth or tooth extractions, women with VW have increased severe menstrual bleeding and deep joint/body aches.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

A-Z Challenge Letter U is for Unforgiveness

Unforgiveness is a hard subject to touch on. Without bringing religion into this post (cause God knows that's an unforgivable thing to do LOL) I'd like to talk about forgiveness.

What kind of person are you? Are you quick to forgive transgressions or are you a grudge holder? When you get mad do you stay that way for quite a while or do you have the ability to shake offenses off and move on? I have experienced something in my life that really bothers me. Certain people I know, who are very quick to condemn and judge others for trespasses, are the very same who expect their transgressions to immediately be looked over and forgiven! How is it as human beings it is so hard for us to forgive when our flesh is hurting  but as soon as we are the ones who have done the hurting, we expect mercy?

In the course of my life, I have been hurt deeply by many different people. Some I trusted implicitly and never thought in a million, trillion years would inflict such harm on me. I'm not going to get into the details but one thing I can say with absolute certainty is despite the offenses perpetrated against me, I needed to forgive the people who hurt me. I lived a lot of years bitter, resentful, angry and full of hate. (Which is not really living at all) It wasn't until I forgave the people who hurt me, that I could go on and live my life unhindered. I'm not going to say it was easy, but it was necessary. I believe it was the very first step in my healing process, because it wasn't until I forgave their transgressions I could truly live again.

Bottom line is this- I want to be the type of person who affords the same amount of forgiveness to others who hurt me as I would want extended to me when I am the one who commits the offense. (Yes, I hurt people. I'm not perfect. I don't set out to purposely hurt anyone, ever, but it still happens nonetheless.) What's your position on forgiveness? Do you lend it freely? Hold on to grudges? I'd love to hear your thoughts on the subject.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

A-Z Challenge Letter T is for tidbit

Here's a little tidbit from a YA urban fantasy called "Cursed" I started working on a couple of months ago. I had to place it on the back burner when I got sick. I've been wondering if I should pick it back up and work on it again or just let it go. Let me know what you think. Please keep in mind this is a first draft and a very rough one at that. Thanks!

Chapter One

“Crap!” This is not happening. But it was. I thought if I fought hard enough, I could stop it. Guess not. Look, I'm not some whiny little girl, I can deal with the wicked head aches and the nausea. It's the waking up in some other place, in God only knows what year, that's the real kick in the pants.

Slowly, I open my eyes. Picking my head up, even an inch, made the vomit happen. But that's OK, I'd rather just get on with it. I wiped my mouth with the back of my hand and cautiously sat up, so I could take inventory.

Since I like to look on the bright side of things, I'll focus on all of the positive stuff I've got going for me. This time, when my back slammed onto the ground, I happened to land on something soft. Thrusting my hands down into the pile of softness underneath me, I grabbed and came up with two fist-fulls of straw. Nice! Since I didn't eat before I teleported, it looks like that initial pukage is going to be it for me today. Looking around at the biggest and ironically most literal bright side, the sun was shining. It was day time.

Flipping sweet! I am so far ahead of the game than I was last time. You don't even want to know what a complete and total freaking disaster that turned out to be. But I can't get into all that now. I have to focus on my one colossal and currently screaming negative here: I'm not alone.


Tuesday, April 22, 2014

A-Z Challenge Letter S is for Sweet Ride


On our trip to Florida, I overcame some big fears/phobias of mine and tried something new. I am so happy (and a bit proud of myself) for venturing outside my comfort zone and taking a risk.  Because I loved, loved, loved it! What did I do? This chick went on an airboat ride!! To some of you that may seem so tame and stupid to be afraid of, but allow me a minute to list a few fears I had to overcome just to step onto that boat:




#1. I had to walk past him! This is Bubba. He weighs around 1,000 pounds. He was not overly fond of Jaybird. When I walked by him, at first, he was so big and so still, I thought he was fake. Then he growled at me and I almost shizzed my pants.
Say hello to my "little friend" Bubba!
#2. This was the water we had to walk over on a rickety bridge to get to the boat. I started hyper-ventilating and needed a minute.

So, like any good mother, I made the kids go first.
Thankfully, my girls inherited zero of my fears.

#3. Then, I spied this in the swampy water on the way over the bridge:
Not sure what kind of snake this is, someone riding on the boat with us said it was a water moccasin;
I don't care what kind it is, I'm not a fan of any  kind of snake.

#4. At this point, I was so proud of myself that I made it onto the boat and didn't run away screaming, I thought, nothing is going to stop me now! But then, they gave us the safety speech (like on an airplane) informing us where the life vests are and all about how airboats, are prone to tip! I'm not a very strong swimmer. But I can tell you if that boat tipped, and I fell into that alligator/snake infested swamp water this fat girl would take off faster than Michael damn Phelps for the shore! I had to block all the bad thoughts of capsizing right out of my mind. So I put on my earphones.
Faith, like the little trooper she is, took one for the team and sat next  to this hot mess. 
Her two sisters and cousin, chose to sit as far away from me as possible.
Not, that I blame them. Little did they know, whoever sat up front got soaking wet!
In the end, overcoming all of my fears, was so worth it. Because ultimately it allowed me to view this:
I had no idea how beautiful Florida could be. Seeing this up close was breathtaking.

And the memories we made on this little excursion: PRICELESS!
My girls. They are fearless!! 


Monday, April 21, 2014

A-Z Challenge Letter R is for Rest and Relaxation

After enduring such a tumultuous winter, The Husband and I received an offer we couldn't refuse- a free place to stay down in Orlando! Thanks to my lovely sister-in-law and brother-in-law, we were gifted with a week at their time share in a beautiful resort near Disney. My kids have never been to Disney, and have always wanted to go, so off we went.
My girls at the resort.

Although I often think I can catch up on some R&R here at home, something or someone always interrupts it. Because of  all of my ailments and recent surgery, I knew I would have to take it slow and easy, but taking a little time off and getting away, was just what the doctor ordered.

Blogging through this vacation, for Faith and I, proved to be most difficult. We had spotty connections and on more than one occasion we had written entire posts and lost them! Sometimes, when we would try to comment on other blogs our comments and responses got eaten. It was so frustrating! And then, the days we were on the road traveling, it was impossible to post. I am happy to be back at home, and yet very grateful to have had the opportunity to get away with my family and take a little break. If you haven't had a comment from me or Faith in a few days, now you know why.

I have a ton of pictures to sort through, and oh, a million stories to tell about our little adventure (traveling anywhere with me always becomes an outstanding memory, LOL) but I need another day or so before my vacation brain reboots itself and gets going again. How did you spend your Spring Break? Did any of you manage to get in some R&R?


Saturday, April 19, 2014

A-Z Letter Q- Q is for Quick

Sorry this is such a quick post- but I have company coming in and lots of cooking and cleaning to do! Plus, we just drove through the night and got home at 4:00 this morning from Florida. (That was a fun-filled fifteen hour trip with three kids in the pouring rain with major traffic back to Jersey!) More posts and pictures on our trip to come. Have a wonderful day and Easter Sunday everyone!


Friday, April 18, 2014

A-Z Challenge Letter P for Peeps

I am super excited because I just realized I am at 199 peeps!! I can't believe 199 people actually follow this blog! That's insane. (Especially since when I first started, I had exactly two followers; one of which was me the other was my sister) I am thinking up a sweet give-away for when I hit 200. It must, of course, involve a box of Peeps. Any of you ever try making  s'mores with Peeps? We do it around Easter time every year.

I'm expecting the usual crowd of Italians to come and overflow my house this Sunday for  Easter. The cooking and crazy has already commenced. Thank God I have Faith to help me! In our family, just about every holiday involves lasagna, even Thanksgiving. What about you? Any food or holiday traditions in your family?

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Letter O is for Over-sharing

OK, this would be one of those times I might possibly be accused of over-sharing and giving out TMI. But I'm gonna do it anyway. Recently, I had to undergo some surgery to remove a tumor on my breast. Thankfully, it was not cancerous. But it was quite a large tumor and it required a fair amount of stitches. Any of you know what happens to stitches after a while? They start to itch.  Really bad. But this itch happened to be in a private place. A place most polite people don't go around scratchin' or picking in public- unless you are Honey Boo Boo's mom.
Mama June doesn't really care where or when it happens, if she has an itch, she's gonna scratch it!

As time went on and my stitches started to itch and pull and I was out in public, I had to get really creative on how to scratch that itch without anyone catching me! I felt like my cat, looking around for some scratching post I could shimmy up to. LOL I was counting down the days until the stitches could come out. Wouldn't you know, the same day I was supposed to get my stitches out, we got hit with about a foot and a half of snow!! I was whining complaining about the itching incessantly.  Ironically, I know about five people in my immediate family who were all qualified to remove the stitches for me. The down side, the stitches are in a place where I don't want my family's face. I waited two more days in agony until my surgeon's office could reopen and I could finally, finally, get those itching stitches removed!! Anyone else ever have an itch they couldn't scratch? LOL

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

A-Z Challenge Letter N for Nosy

Are you nosy? Do you find yourself having to be all up in everybody else's business? I know some extremely nosy people.  They ask about a million questions and are never satisfied with vague answers. I am a very open person. If you read this blog you would know I don't hide much. And if I don't volunteer certain info about myself, all you have to do is ask and I'll answer you.  I am often accused by The Husband and the kids of volunteering TMI (too much information) or over-sharing.  Believe it or not, I actually reign it in and censor myself, for their sake. Although I give out a lot of info about myself to others, I'm not nosy. I don't need to know what my neighbors are up to; I'm too busy trying to keep my own stuff straight. I mind my own business. The Husband, on the other hand, is closed up like a fist. He keeps his emotions locked up tighter than a death row inmate. He never volunteers even the most trivial information about himself to anyone, ever. But for some reason, he's nosy as all get out! Especially about what goes on in our neighborhood. We live in a very tight-knit community. Everybody knows everybody else. So if a car even turns down our street that "doesn't belong", The Husband is out of the house in a heart beat ready to take the license plate number down and/or start an interrogation! As usual, he is the exact opposite of me.

Which way are you? Do you over-share? Give out TMI? Are you nosy? Do you care what your neighbors are up too?

PS:  Faith and I have been experiencing some technical difficulties with the Internet lately. Also, we are quite convinced our lap top is possessed. Sorry if commenting is slow and our posts are out of whack. Not sure what's going on there!

Monday, April 14, 2014

A-Z Challenge Letter "L" Love

L is for Love. When The Husband and I first got married, he was still in the military. He would have to leave for days and/or weeks at a time training with the USMC. It would kill me to drop him off at the airport or up at the base, knowing we were going to be separated for a long period of  time. I give all the career, full-time military families major credit! They have to go so much longer without being able to see their loved ones than I ever did. The women and men of the military, who keep it all together back here on the home front, are heroes to me too. It's not easy being left behind.  That's love.  Its often mocked and quoted at weddings, but if you really read and meditate on 1 Corinthians 13:4-8, to me, it's the perfect example of what true love should be.

1 Corinthians 13:4-8 Love is patient. Love is kind. It does not envy. It does not boast. It is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.  Love does not delight  in evil but  rejoices with the truth.  It always protects, always trusts, always hopes always perseveres. Love never fails.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

A-Z Challenge Letter M

M is for Mickey Mouse. My kids have  never been to Disney. The Husband and I are going to try and remedy that in the very near future. At what age are kids too old for Disney? Do they ever get too old for Mickey Mouse? How old were you when you first went to Disney? What's your favorite or least favorite thing about Disney? Any of you old enough to remember the Mickey Mouse Club...with Annette? M-I-C-K-E-Y, MOUSE!!

A-Z Challenge Letter K

K is for Keyboards. I abuse the heck out of my keyboards! My brother came over to use my computer and couldn't believe how beat down my keyboard was. A few days later when he was out and about, he saw a keyboard and decided to pick me up a new one. (I am very blessed. My brother is super generous and very, very thoughtful. He is always doing stuff like that for me and my girls; he is made of awesome:)
This is my old keyboard. If you look closely, you can see that I wore the letters right off the keys! 

Even though my brother gifted me with the new and improved keyboard, I'm ashamed to admit it took me two years before I finally broke down and installed the new one. I fear change. And I was afraid that if I had to adjust to a new keyboard it would slow me down. Last week, right before the A-Z Challenge, my old keyboard died. I'm still adjusting to the new one. It's shaped differently (it's the kind that's supposed to help with carpal tunnel) and I keep hitting the wrong keys. So if you notice that I am making a few more typos than usual, I'm blaming it on the new keyboard :) What kind of keyboard do you prefer? Anyone else fear change?
Here's my new fancy smancy keyboard. Courtesy of my brother Chris.

Friday, April 11, 2014

A-Z Challenge Letter J

A-Z Challenge Letter J. J is for Jenny.



My first name is Jennifer. But the people closest to me, always call me Jenny or Jay. Some of my friends call me Jen. It doesn't really matter which derivative people use, I answer to them all.  But man can I tell you how much I hated how popular my name was growing up. When I was in kindergarten, there were EIGHT of us!! Since there were more than one Jennifer B's I was forced to be called Jennifer B2. I sounded like a robot! It irritated me to no end, but what could I do? I've made peace with it now, but when I had my own girls and was searching for baby names, I swore to choose names for my girls that were less popular.  (Little did I know I would have to come up with 3 baby girl names!)



What are your favorite names? Do you have a nickname? Italians are big on them. Everybody gets one in my family and they stick. Whether you like it or not! How do you come up with your character names?

Thursday, April 10, 2014

A-Z Challenge Letter I is for Inspiring


Good Morning! I have a short but sweet A-Z  Letter I post for you today. This is what I have on my wall, next to my writing desk. Even when I'm not feeling it, this inspires me to keep going. What inspires you?






Wednesday, April 9, 2014

A-Z Challenge Letter H is for Hooks

Welcome to Letter H. H is for Hooks. Hooks in books, not the other kind. Get your head out of the trash, he he he. Creating a captivating hook is essential to grabbing readers attention and luring them into your story. What makes a hook great? What captivates you? Here are some of my favorite hooks:

"In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit." - Who could forget that famous Tolkien hook? I remember thinking, what in the world is a hobbit?? I was intrigued, and had to know.

"I was sixteen years old the day I was lost in the forest-sixteen the day I met my death." That amazing hook is from Keturah and Lord Death, by Martine Levitt (recommended by Ilima, and what a great read indeed!).

"When I stepped out into the bright sunlight from the darkness of the movie house, I had only two things on my mind, Paul Newman and a ride home." S.E. Hinton-I'm not even entirely sure why, but this hook stayed with me from the first time I read The Outsiders, until now.

Who can place this one- "The boy with the fair  hair lowered himself down the last few feet of rock and began to pick his way toward the lagoon."










Tuesday, April 8, 2014

A-Z Letter G G is for George Orwell

G is for George Orwell. Today I'm writing about George Orwell. Not the George Orwell who first springs to mind, the one who wrote 1984 or Animal Farm. Nope. I'm writing about George Orwell, my daughter Farrah's beloved veiled chameleon. He sits right next to King Tut. Once again, not the King Tut you are familiar with. King Tut, in our house, is a leopard gecko. Who lives in a ginormous tank right next to George Orwell in her room.
Isn't George cool? 
Farrah has a knack for picking quite unique names for her pets. Then again, she is quite a unique girl. Not too many eleven year old girls have a bedroom full of salt water tanks and lizards and chameleons (or read Orwell in their spare time). There are no pink walls or frilly curtains or ruffled bedspreads in Farrah's room. And it sure as heck doesn't smell like sugar and spice and everything nice up in there. It's smells more like Animal Planet; but this is what my kid loves.
King Tutankhanun, the non-mummified version. Isn't he cute?
I'm all about encouraging my  girls to develop their own tastes and creative outlets. With Faith, her passion is cooking.  Which was a win-win for everybody. But I want to encourage my kids individuality, even when it hurts. And man does Farrah's hurt. I think it goes without saying, that buying bugs and bringing feed crickets into my house, hurts me. I think you all know how creeped out and psycho I get about bugs. Even the thought of bugs camping out in my house, gives me all kinds of anxious thoughts and fears. But I love my kid more than my phobias.

How far are you willing to go for love? Any strange creatures live in your  house?

PS: Great BIG thank you to everyone who commented yesterday and/or  followed my daughter Faith! It made her feel so special and much better on a day she was feeling so sick and miserable! You guys are the best, thank you!!!