Monday, December 25, 2017

A Couple of Minor Christmas Miracles (and a Minor Photo Dump, Too)

Just when I thought it was about time to throw in the towel as far as being a writer, I found two very sweet reasons to keep plugging away at it.

If you're in the habit of stopping by this little old blogsite of mine, you know that my blogging output has dwindled down to almost nothing during this past year, a year of extremely busy times for our family. (I mean, five new grandchildren--including triplets--were added to our string of Pearls in 2017.  And we moved from NH to VA.  And we've been managing a vacation rental in upstate NY.  And well, excuses: I've got a million of them.)

Anyway, as I said, with all that's going on in the ever-expanding Pearl clan--with all the LIFE that needs living, leaving very little time to write about it--I thought that perhaps my writing days were kind of behind me.

Then just before Christmas, in the span of a couple of days, I got two unexpected surprises.

One was an email from a woman in Austria (Austria?!  How did she stumble upon this blog?!), who contacted me to tell me that she's been following String of Pearls for quite a while now and praying for my family (including those aforementioned triplets and their mama).  She wanted to know how she could purchase both of my novels and have them sent to her in Austria.  I was a bit blown away, I must say. Blogging has certainly given me some wonderful blessings over the years!  I have "met" so many interesting people, and I've been humbled to learn that our family has prayer warriors who live far from us, people we may never meet who care about us as if they know us.  If that isn't reason enough to keep this blog going, I don't know what is.

This Austrian reader who introduced herself to me made sure to point out that she was from Austria, "not Australia!"  Could she be a Dumb and Dumber fan?  Was she worried that I was going to reply to her email by greeting her with Lloyd Christmas's goofy, "G'day, Mate"?  If so, I like her even more than I thought I did!
Gabriela, as soon as we can get the details all sorted out, those books will be on their way across the Atlantic to you.

The second minor miracle came on the heels of my Austrian friend's email.  I was checking up on my books' Amazon pages, to see if there were any new reviews posted.  Whenever I do this, I am almost always disappointed.  Neither book has had a new review in quite some time.  But lo and behold, I was surprised to see that there was a recently posted, generous 5-star review of Erin's Ring by a Christian YA author named L. Wahl.

Lovely Historic Fiction
on December 17, 2017
Such an enjoyable historic fiction book! I really liked how the book alternates between a modern day story and the history of Irish immigrants that came to America in the 1800’s.
It begins when Molly – a modern day middle school girl, finds an engraved ring at her church. When she discovers it’s a traditional Irish ring, she decides to research the town’s rich Irish history for a school project. As she delves into her research, we are drawn into the world of the Irish immigrants that fled from Ireland during the Potato famine to find a better life here in America.
This is a fascinating look into the struggles of the Irish Catholic immigrants – many of which were single young men and women who came over to work and sent money back to their families.
The historical parts were quite interesting and thought-provoking and the storyline in the modern day chapters was very touching as well. I really wonderful story about the importance of family, friendship, and faith.

Humbled!  Grateful!  Blessed!

I have added PayPal buttons to my home page, on the sidebar on the right.  If you live in the US and would like to order a signed copy of either book (or both!), you can do so directly through me.  If you live on the other side of the ocean, contact me and we'll see what we can do.

Anyway, enough about books and writing--now on to the reason that I started this blog in the first place: to create a sort of online scrapbook where our family memories can be stored.  I have so many wonderful photos of our first Christmas together in VA that I want to share here at the blog.  We are making new memories with our kids and grandkids, and the new house is starting to feel like a real home.  At the end of our big celebration on the 23rd (which included 12 grandchildren aged 6 down to newborn, and was crazy and chaotic in the best way possible), one of our 6-year-old twin granddaughters said to her Papa, "I'm going to remember this day forever."  Isn't that the sweetest thing you've ever heard?  I so hope that's true!  We want our grandchildren to have magical memories of playing with their cousins at Papa and Grammy's house.

It's Christmas Eve as I write this, and tomorrow morning my husband and I are going to be on the road all day traveling.  We went to Sunday Mass this morning and anticipated Mass at 9:00 tonight, knowing that we would have to leave early to head to the airport.  First we have to get from here to NYC, and from there we'll fly off to Poland.  We're going to spend about a week with our youngest son who is stationed overseas.  Oh, and his girlfriend, too.  

I won't be taking my laptop with me on the plane--I'm trying to travel as lightly as possible on this trip.  But I'll have my phone and I'll be posting pictures of our travels on Instagram.  Follow me there if you're interested  (my Insta-handle is @laura.h.pearl).  

In the meantime, I'm going to leave you with a Christmas photo dump.  The caption for each picture could read "We are blessed."
My guy, channeling Cousin Eddie.

The newest addition to the clan, a granddaughter born in November.

How cute is this guy?

It was a Build-A-Bear Christmas.


Can you tell I'm happy when I'm with my boys?

You get a baby.  And you get a baby.  Everybody gets a baby!

Love these smiles.

He was about three pounds at birth. And look at those cheeks now!

Papa getting a movie going for the little peeps.

Heart emojis all over the place.

Son #2 as Santa, son #3 on his lap.  These guys make me laugh.

A Christmas Eve Nativity Pageant with son #1 and his girls, narrated by his wife.
So adorable and touching.

That's it for now.  Must get to sleep or I'll never get through our tiring day tomorrow.

Well, it's not Christmas Eve anymore.  This took me so much longer to write than it should have (another reason I've been a blogger-slacker!).  So--

Merry Christmas to you and yours, and I promise you I'll be back here at the blog much more regularly in the New Year.  It'll be another Christmas miracle!

Sunday, December 3, 2017

Sunday Goings-On

Happy first Sunday of Advent, dear readers...that is, if there are any of you left out there; and if so, God bless you, because there hasn't been a whole lot going on here at the blog as of late.

It's not that I don't have anything to write about, either; quite the opposite, as a matter of fact.  But the problem is that I just don't seem to have the time.  Or perhaps I do, but when I prioritize all the things I want to do or should do each day, sitting down to write keeps ending up at the bottom of the list.  (Kind of like working out.  And my expanding waistline is proof of that!)

So much has been happening in our family, it's enough to make my head spin.  The triplets were baptized, for instance.
I made the boys' christening gowns and bonnets with fabrics that my
mother-in-law had collected; the wee lass wore an exquisite 
heirloom gown from my daughter-in-law's family.
And a brand new granddaughter--our 12th grandchild--recently joined our clan.
My third baby, with his third baby.  It's the circle of life!
We celebrated our first big family Thanksgiving in our new house in VA.
The "grown-ups table," set for 11.  (There were also 12 kids,
aged 6 down to newborn!)
The first anniversary of my father's death came around, a tough day, followed by what would have been his 83rd birthday; and I had hoped to write the story of his amazing and inspiring last week on earth (the story of the making of a saint, I believe) by now, but even with a whole year to get it done, I still haven't been able to do it.
Literally hours before death, here he is: raising his glass of
Tia Maria and smiling, after enjoying a Thanksgiving meal
with his family at the hospital.
My mom has had a slew of health issues this past year; she has quite literally been in and out of the hospital or the rehab center.  Because she is not ambulatory anymore without a great deal of help, she is no longer a candidate for the assisted living home into which she'd moved shortly after my dad's death.  So not too long ago, she moved in with my baby sister and her husband, who hired round-the-clock aides to help with her care.  But as I was writing this post, my sister texted to say that Mom is sick again, about to be admitted to the hospital for the umpteenth time since she lost her husband of 60 years.  Please keep her in your prayers, if you would!

As you can see, there's so much to write about--so much, in fact, that I am overwhelmed and suffer from almost crippling writer's block.  I miss writing, and one of my resolutions for 2018 is to do it more regularly. the spirit of getting back on the proverbial horse, I am going to force myself to post something here today.

I thought maybe I could tell you about the holiday craft fair at our new parish in VA this weekend, and about how I decided to rent a table to sell my books.

I had fun setting up my wares; but I started out feeling really shy, even though there weren't really too many shoppers after the anticipated Mass on Saturday evening.  But on Sunday, I started to come out of my shell a little bit and enjoyed meeting and talking to some of the parishioners after the Masses.

I made a few sales--six copies of Erin's Ring and two copies of Finding Grace.  And talk about stepping boldly outside my comfort zone: I even asked a couple of buyers if I could snap photos of them to include in this post.  They were very good sports, as you can see.

In the spirit of the holidays, I wore a Christmas-y red Talbot's knit sheath dress (purchased on clearance)--because as my sister-in-law who wears almost exclusively Talbot's clothing likes to say, when your outfit is attractive and well-made and you feel comfortable in it, you feel happy and therefore you can't help but spread happiness.  (I have talked about this Talbot's happiness-spreading quality before here at the blog, actually.)  I paired the dress with a black 3/4-sleeved ruffle-front jacket from Dress Barn.
Okay, well now this is turning into a My Sunday Best post, isn't it?  So you know what?  I'm going to link up with Rosie et. al., as long as I'm talking fashion.
I closed the front of my jacket with a special pin--it's actually a tiny picture frame.  I found it on Etsy and fell in love with it, thinking that if I slipped a tiny picture of one of my book covers inside it, it would make the perfect brooch to wear for book signings.  (Or for church holiday craft fairs like this one, where my books didn't exactly sell like hot cakes, but more like "tepid cakes," as my husband so humorously put it.)
A couple of tables down, there was a sweet gal selling hand-made Rosary bracelets, and I couldn't resist getting one for myself.  I am a sucker for a Rosary bracelet.  Or anything made of pearls.
Although I didn't sell many books, I feel like it was a successful outing for me.  I grew in confidence as time went by, and I met lots of nice folks.  I'm finding that almost everyone I meet down here is so friendly and exudes the hospitality for which the South is famous.  The longer we live here, the more comfortable I feel in our adopted hometown.  I will always have a soft spot for the Northeast, and a deep sense of nostalgia for the beloved home on a quiet wooded street in Dover, NH where we raised our five boys.  But northern VA is proving to be a very nice place to live.

And those five boys?  Four of them, and their wives and kids, live a stone's throw from us down here.

Life is good.  It is very good indeed.

Well, that's it for today.  But I'll be back.  Sooner rather than later, I hope!

(Now head on over to Rosie's for more Sunday Best fashion talk.  And remember that you can get a signed copy of Finding Grace for $10 here at the blog, from now til Dec. 10.  Email me for details, or use the "Buy Now" button to purchase your copy via PayPal.)