Whoa, ho, ho…it’s Magic

One week ago today, we were sitting in an airport, waiting for a flight back from Orlando marveling at  how quickly a vacation can come and go.

Was it a vacation, though? I believe it was, only in the strictest definition of the word. “Vacation” implies that one relaxed. Slept in. Lounged.

This was not that kind of vacation because we were at Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure, and we had things to do, things to see, and ride attractions to experience…AND ONLY SIX DAYS TO DO THEM.

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I can feel the magic from here. It tickles.

Three years ago, I was introduced to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. I am not ashamed to tell you, dear reader, that when I stepped foot into Hogsmeade, I cried. It’s magical beyond anything you could imagine. The shops, the music, the staff that populate the stores…all of it is geared to letting you have the most enchanted time of your life.

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it really is this glorious. even better in person.

Example: When I bought my interactive wand. (Yes, even at almost 50, I bought an interactive wand.) I finished up my purchase on a Chase card so my husband wouldn’t know how much it was and still doesn’t. The cashier handed me the receipt and a pen, and asked me to “sign for the Ministry of Magic.” Charmed, after I had done so, he handed me back my card and said, “Here’s your Muggle plastic.” Talk about getting—and keeping—you in the magic. Same thing happened when I bought a Gryffindor student robe this year…but we won’t talk about that right now. I modeled my wizard robe to my daughters and they both snickered so hard they fell off the couch. #nerd #bignerd #biggergeek

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Girls, don’t make me get my little friend.

I stood in line to do spells with six year olds and I don’t regret a single minute of it because the spellcasting fed my soul. I was actually pretty good at it.

This year, the cast of characters going to Orlando changed a bit, meaning it was extra fun because we got to watch two people who had never been there become just as bewitched as we were upon first seeing it.8CRUDME7NcVACQDd7K9H69buheuZyktXJzsId9Dzgy0eJxFPc

We drank butterbeer almost every day, sometimes sharing one because you could buy the froo frootiest drink at Starbucks and it STILL wouldn’t be as much as a butterbeer. Five of us shared the giant feast at Three Broomsticks restaurant. I rode almost every single ride except for the Hulk and Rip Ride Rocket, which I wouldn’t touch with a ten foot pole because reasons. We saw some Transformers, got a little wet on the Jurassic Park ride, and met Blue the T-Rex, who doesn’t like eye contact so my sister promptly made eye contact. Silly Muggle.

We had volcano nachos at Margaritaville,

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delish.

toured the Hogwarts Castle, and watched that very castle light up at night with the four different house colors. We had sushi at Cowfish,

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double cheeseburgooshi.

rode the Hogwarts Express train, and risked our very lives to take a picture with Jaws.

Screenshot_20180618-150146We wandered around Diagon Alley, where we watched the fire-breathing dragon scare the stuffing out of newcomers. We had dinner at the Chocolate Emporium. We sweated our butts off, since the average daily temperature was only slightly cooler than hell. In a related story, the first day there, I got a blister from new shoes. Fine. So I wore my old ones the second and third days, and developed even bigger blisters. My sister and I wore SPF 50 every single day and barely have any tan to speak of, even after a week of being outside in sunny Florida for six days. Yet despite the regular and vigorous sunscreen application, I still developed sun poisoning on my inner shins. K7y4l1S_dBNEOuUv0_WtzLs_FBlhyUEuxT5A2lnD0GceJxFPcI know, right? Unfair. I also started referring to myself as Sister Chris of the Wailing Hip. (I didn’t tell anyone that, though.) I cannot emphasize to you how sore I was…we were up (well, Jenny was up) freakishly early so we could get to the parks early, then we’d be there for seven or eight hours during which we walked, strolled, or in my case, stomped and/or lumbered, take your pick.  My sister Jenny, going through thyroid treatment, RAN CIRCLES around me the entire time we were there. #letmesleepfortheloveofgod

We also were, by some miracle, upgraded to suites. These suites were bigger than my entire house and had a full kitchen, two bathrooms, and a living room with a sectional, dining room, and FbgWeiN4bsTAbFFdKhINVT7XkSBQQ-WZGCtji6WdnwYeJxFPcconversation pit. The suite was so big we needed the GPS to find the bathroom. We also had good snacks delivered via Instacart. We rode the boat through the waterways to get to the parks each day. We had tropical drinks poolside, made memories and laughed until we couldn’t breathe.

It may not have been the lounging, relaxing vacation you think of when you think vacation, but I believe it might have been the most fun yet. As I kept saying to my sister, “I can sleep when I’m home.”

I cannot wait to do again. As a matter of fact, I’m going to go check–and clear–my Muggle calendar right now.

Things You Don’t Think About Until Tragedy Strikes

It’s been two years and two and a half months since my son made the incredibly devastating decision to leave us behind forever. He was thirteen and in seventh grade when he took his own life.

My daughter, the one child I have left, is about to finish seventh grade, and will be thirteen in a few weeks. I am already counting down the days until her fourteenth birthday. Even though that age begins a whole new era of challenges (hello dating, driver’s ed. on the horizon, and making decisions about college…), none of those can remotely compare to the fear that my other child will do it too.

Sometimes I tell myself, Come on, Tami, you know she won’t. And then myself whispers back, That’s what you thought about him, too.

It’s an argument I’ll never win. But in my head, I’m convinced the argument will become less vocal, less at the forefront, once she moves from thirteen to fourteen. Subconsciously, I will believe the threat of suicide will have reduced significantly, even though, realistically, I don’t believe it is even there in the first place. Of course, tell that to Self…

Tragedy messes with your head, let me tell you. It’s like this living, breathing monster, hovering over you, whispering in your ear, exploiting every fear you’ve ever felt and blowing them up until it feels like they are crushing you.

And then when I think things like that, I think, Gee, is that where my son’s monsters came from? Did they come from me? Was it my fault?

There’s a topic for discussion next time I’m parked on my therapist’s couch.

Here’s a perfect example of my fears running rampant and my internal self telling my, well, self, to calm the fuck down:

I have recently come to the (not popular) determination that housework was not meant for only one person. In fact, I proclaimed to my family, there are three of us living here, three of us making a mess of the place, so therefore three of us should clean it up.

I know, novel concept, eh?

The announcement, handily made over Mother’s Day weekend, spurred (extremely) grudging completion of chores by other members of my household, thus giving me a little bit more time to do what I love: write stories. Too bad for them there was such immediate and joyful gratification from the work they did, because now I have the expectation on the regular.

Yep, I’m a crazy one, all right.

So this past Saturday evening, I said to my husband, “Tomorrow’s the day. We all just need to pitch in one hour and the house will be clean.” He was amicable because, well, he knows I’m right.

Since I know my daughter well, I know she would rather do her portion when we aren’t around, versus all of us happily cleaning away together, like a family. So on Sunday, just before it was time to go to church, I gave her a list of chores to complete while her father and I were gone.

And she coped an attitude. One of those giant ones teenagers are so amazingly capable of.

I told her again what was expected of her, and she started with the questions, all of which basically came down to, “Why?” I explained that dust is gross and needed to be wiped away on occasion, and frankly, she should be glad because we sure as hell don’t dust this place as often as it needs it. It usually happens when I accidentally brush a finger along a shelf and it comes back gray—or worse, when the sun shines in the window at exactly the right angle and highlights all the dust motes with glowing little halos. (Every time that happens, I think, there is nothing heavenly about dust. Nothing. In fact, if heaven really is heaven, there will be no dust there ever.)

Not surprisingly, the conversation deteriorated until I uttered that ever-hated phrase, “Because I said so.” And to make matters worse, my husband stormed into the room at that point and had my back. “Here, let me help you listen better to your mother,” he said and promptly turned off her computer in the middle of whatever game she was playing.

Ouch.

So naturally, when we left, she was angry and not speaking to us.

And also naturally, I spent the entirety of mass completely tuning out whatever the priest was saying and instead stressing over my daughter, home alone, angry, sitting and stewing in what was once her brother’s room. And to be honest, I’m a little bit surprised I didn’t get up and leave in the middle of it because seriously, that internal angst shit is real, and it’s seven thousand times more potent when you’ve already experienced the fear you are imagining at the time.

Needless to say, my daughter was alive and well when we arrived home. And the dusting had been done, as well as vacuuming and making her bed. Damn, I should have given her a bigger list.

And none of us are angry anymore, either. So life goes on, and I can breathe easily again.

For the moment. Only 385 more days before she turns fourteen…

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Tami Lund writes books, drinks wine, wins awards, and writes quirky blogs about her life. She also recently released a brand new book called BABY, I’M HOME, if you want to check it out!

We Are All Winners

So, you guys know all about Grandma Sundays, right? We had one again yesterday–more meaningful than normal because I haven’t had them in a few weeks and I won’t have them this coming Sunday. I’ll be at Universal, standing in line with ten year olds to do the interactive spells with my interactive wand. Don’t @ me.

(I’m so excited, in fact, that I’m going to share a pedi picture because I refuse to go to Florida again with feet so dry they look like the back of an armadillo.)

Back to the story, though.

We painted nails. We did makeup.

We played outside. We had not one but (look away, Annie and Merry) TWO fruit snacks and later, some cinnamon applesauce. We ate a lunch (well, they did) consisting of corn dogs and macaroni and cheese. And yes, that was me hunched over the stove later having spoonfuls of cold Mac n cheese. We don’t waste food in this family.

Around three, Mike came over to visit and they were sort of excited. Sort of.

Another, even bigger thing we did was assist Sophia with her potty training. She’s getting really good at it with a few glaring exceptions, one of which I had to scrub off the bathroom floor. (No pic, sorry. Sickos))

Each time she goes, she gets a Hershey’s kiss. In fact, we all do because have you ever tried to give candy to just one child when there’s three standing there? It isn’t done. I get one because I’m the Grandma.

We ALL get the reward, my friend.

Alyssa, because she was polite all day.

Sophia, because she did so well potty training.

Shawn because he listened and took a good nap for me.

Me, because I got to love and cuddle my grandkids all day

We are all winners–
But me especially.

Guest Blogging, New Books & Recipes

Hey, so I guest blogged somewhere else this week, and figured I’d send you all over there today, instead of figure out something new to write. It’s interesting – it’s about how the book I’m releasing next week (Baby, I’m Home) came to be. And there’s a chance to win a free copy of it, too. Oh, and there’s a YUMMY recipe!

So, take a look, have a read, try the recipe, and then leave a comment to possibly get to read Baby, I’m Home for free: SCORCHING BOOK REVIEWS

Thanks!

Tami Lund Headshot 2014

 

 

Tami Lund writes romance, drinks wine, wins awards, and sometimes looks for the easy way out of her twice monthly blogging date…

Not Quite Twilight

My husband has put up with it for years.  My sister and I have a pact about it.  If I wake up in the middle of the night and it’s not done, I’ll do it.

I believe with every fiber of my being that if I go to bed without pulling the covers up to my chin, vampires are going to somehow not only be alerted but also line up for a slurp of my A positive.  Perhaps brag to their friends to my piquant taste and vintage bouquet.  Sell raffle tickets in the Vampire Gazette for a tasty drink of my blood.

I have my good buddy Stephen King to thank for this, as one of the many times I was shoved out of the house and told to go find something to do during the summer, I went to the library and picked up the book ‘Salem’s Lot.  At the tender age of 14 or so, I think that my mother probably should have been monitoring my weekly library checkouts a little more carefully.  It’s one more blame to hang on the maternal mantle.

At this point, I don’t remember if we rented the movie ‘Salem’s Lot or it was on a special TV night, but in the end, does it matter?  What matters is I became familiar with the bloodsucker material along with my brother and sister, who are four and six years younger than I, putting them at 10 and six at the time of the viewing.

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“Come back later.” Photo by Donald Tong on Pexels.com

Fourteen, ten and six, people, and we’re watching ‘Salem’s Lot.  Floating vampires outside your window, using their squeaky talons to request access into the home.  Let me in, they’d say.  I’m so cold.

We probably should have flipped the channel to something more age appropriate; for instance, Little House on the Prairie?  Zoom?  Flip Wilson?  The Sonny and Cher Show or Donny and Marie?  No one flipped the channel, however, and there we all sat, glued to the TV.

After watching this movie, whichever of us kids drew the short straw to take the dog out would skreek our fingernails down the bay windows to make the exact noise of the flying Glick boys in the movie, giggling the entire time.  We said we were doing it to scare the others but I think it was more that we wanted a connection, no matter how tenuous, to the people inside while we were outside, with things unseen in the dark, and a big, stupid dog that would rather sniff 1100 things rather than pee.

It was only funny until bedtime.  At that point, lying in bed and frozen with fear, that shit got real.   Any sound, especially crickets, began to resemble the sound of those long, green, brittle, broken fingernails scraping the windows.  Looking for entrance.  Begging the children of the household to obey their trancelike urges and open the window or door to let them in.

For a quick snack, that’s all.

It was at that point, 32 years ago, that I began pulling the covers up as high as I could to cover every inch of neck that might be exposed.

I never forgot.  I never relaxed.

Fast forward to every single night after that.  When it’s time for bed, I brush my teeth; kick the 130 pound Labrador out of the way long enough to slide under the flannel sheets and…

This part is important.  Stay with me.

I AM 51 YEARS OLD. I still pull the covers right up to my chin.  Still.   And that’s where they remain, even when my icy-footed husband kicks the giant black creature fully out of our bed and climbs in.  Even when he gets into bed and I reluctantly allow him a meager portion of our covers.  Once he is settled I simply retuck the covers around my neck.  My husband is long used to this procedure.  Sometimes he even does it for me.  I think it’s husbandly concern but it’s more likely he’s just indulging me and my weirdness.

Yes, I’m afraid of vampires, folks. Not to the point where I can’t read about them or watch movies about them (hello, Lost Boys).  I’m fine during the day.  But nighttime?  Nighttime is a different story, ever since I saw that ‘Salem’s Lot movie and countless vampire movies since.  My vampire phobia strikes at night, when my mind is a little more open to those sorts of things.  When I’m a little more vulnerable.

I have a feeling–sometimes a certain resolute knowledge–that at night, a sly vampire is crouching in a corner of my room, waiting for the exact moment when I forget to pull the blankets up high enough, leaving a tiny, succulent strip of skin exposed.  The one watching me from the corner is the same one who has been assigned to watch me since I was 14.  He’s not cute.  There’s nothing sexy about him.  He’s not suave like George Hamilton was in “Love at First Bite.”  I imagine he’s got glittery eyes.   Yellow skin.  Long, sharp teeth.  Stringy hair.

He also has unholy patience, which is why I cannot let my guard down for even one minute.  He’s a vampire who means business.

My extreme vamp phobia even caused me to call my sister one time a few years ago, in a complete panic, just to make sure she knew that if I was ever in a coma, she needed to come in every night and pull my covers up to my chin so that the vampire wouldn’t be able to bite me in the middle of the night.

Without even batting an eye, she agreed and had a condition of her own; if she was ever in a coma I had to come and pluck any chin hairs.

It’s a price I’m willing to pay.

Stuff it, Miss Muffet

It’s not that I’m afraid of spiders. I’m really not. As long as I can see and squish them.

Last night before getting into bed, Joe and I were changing the sheets. I was trying to get my pillow into a pillowcase by stuffing it in then hurling it over my head and down onto the ground again and again. I was having a hard time because putting my pillow into a pillowcase is like fitting ten pounds of flour into a five-pound bag…but WORTH IT.

Mid hurl, I noticed up on the ceiling a gigantic black spider. Big enough to have a driver’s license. Big enough to qualify for a zip code. More importantly, big enough that if that sucker landed on my side of the bed while I slept, I would have felt the mattress move. And don’t even get me started on the fangs.

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actual size.

Well, obviously this wouldn’t do. I would have to kill it. Meaning I’d have to have Joe kill it, once I got my stupid pillowcase on.

A couple more overhead hurls with the pillowcase and I looked back up to find that the spider was gone.

Gone.

I think the puffs of air from the vigorous pillowcase action had blown him down, because he was not skittering down the wall, not moved over on the ceiling a little bit, but gone as in could be anywhere, could be under the bed, could be hiding on my side of the mattress. Obviously we’d have to get the flamethrower out.

Joe indicated he’d rather hold off on the flamethrower and instead got down on all fours to look under the bed with a flashlight. There were lots of things under the bed. A slipper I thought I’d lost. About fifteen purple earplugs that had gone missing. An earring. And about two hundred pounds of dog hair…

But no spider.

“I’ll go get the flamethrower now,” I told Joe.

“Why don’t you just get the other flashlight and help me look,” he responded patiently.

“I’m not sleeping in this room unless we find the spider,” I said, as I peered under the bed with my light. “If you want to be gobbled up in the middle of the night, that’s your business. But I won’t be in here to save you.”

It’s then I see it cavorting under the bed. It’s the size of a ping-pong ball and hairy, and it’s in a hurry because it knows when there’s a flashlight shining his way, the sole of a shoe is about to follow. The drawback is that to pull him out and squish him, I have to lure him closer to me. Closer is not a word I like to associate with spiders.

I take the aforementioned slipper and a deep breath, then scoot Gigantor out into the open, where I use Joe’s good dress shoe to pound him into oblivion.

At least I’ll be able to sleep tonight, though, as long as there isn’t any spider family who’s going to come looking for retribution.

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“Looking for Chris Cacciatore. Have you seen her?”

I’m Not Gonna Blog About #Cockygate…Okay, Yes, I Am

So #cockygate exploded on Twitter before I had a chance to come up with a post for this week’s blog. And it’s still going strong now that I’m down to the wire and have to get something up for you all to read. Oh, the self-imposed deadlines!

I thought about discussing something entirely different, but I was worried it would get lost in all the drama. Okay, and I couldn’t really think of anything else.

So let’s talk #cockygate.

I’m not going to give you a recap because you already know what’s going on. And if you don’t, climb out from under your rock and check out the hashtag on Twitter. But be prepared to get sucked in for a few hours. Not exaggerating. I also recommend checking out the hashtag if you really do have time to kill because in amongst all the anger and shock and frustration are some pretty hilarious gems. The creativity of some of these tweets tells me there are lots of talented people affected by this drama.

I’m not going to bash the author because, um, that’s well and truly taken care of, and that’s not my M.O. anyway. I prefer to make fun of a situation. Actually, I prefer to stay out of bullshit like this altogether but this time, I couldn’t. Not unlike the entirety of the romance community, it appears.

I’m not going to blather on about the legality of it all, because I’m not a lawyer (although I hear a writer who is a lawyer has gotten involved, which, if it must happen at all, is pretty damn cool) and I don’t honestly know. It doesn’t seem like someone could trademark a common word and refuse to let other people use it in a country where freedom of speech is taken to some pretty crazy extremes, but hey, I don’t work at the trademark office. And if whomever does work there made a colossal mistake and accidentally gave this person the right to trademark something they shouldn’t have, well, I’m really glad I don’t work there.

What I am going to do is unabashedly promote a friend’s book because, 1) it has the word ‘cocky’ in the title. And 2) she didn’t copy her work from that other author, who I’m pretty sure she didn’t know existed until this past weekend. And 3) it’s a really good book. Not just because of the cool title, but because she’s a really good writer. I know this because I’ve read everything she’s ever put out, oh, and I happen to co-write with her, too. Heard of my Sexy Bad series?

What? You haven’t? Well, go check out the website, I’ll wait: https://sexybadbooks.com/.

Hey, welcome back! So yeah, Misti Murphy is the other half of that writing duo, and she has a few books of her own and they’re all quite good. And while I think you should read every single one, I want to especially call out the cockiest one of them all:

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Cocky F@#ker on Amazon

So I think that about covers it. Questions? Let me know. Recommended cocky reads? Let me know those, too!

Tami Lund Headshot 2014

 

Tami Lund is a writer, wine drinker, award winner, and supporter of her fellow authors. Because we all just want to read romance…

Here’s her website: http://tamilund.com/