Eyes wide open.. 

While I was pregnant with my first child.. my strong willed daughter.. we could not decide on a name. So my husband and I struck a deal.. 

When our daughter was born.. If she looked like a “princess” then we would name her “Sabrina” .. 

..and if she looked like a “little ruler” we would name her “Ryanne”.. 

THEN? 

Lol.. Then I prayed to God He would send her into the world boisterous and crying.. 

When that moment came? The moment I laid eyes on my girl? I had been awake for 40 hours.. And in labor for 28 hours.. 

FYI .. They call it labor because it is REALLY hard work.. 

Someone placed that beautiful baby in my arms.. 

..and.. 

Well? She stared right back at me. Her eyes were wide open .. and so curious. She was taking in the world around her without saying a word. 

When her Daddy commented on something? She turned her head toward him and listened. When I laughed at her serious expression..? Well.. then she turned back to me. 

The nurse commented that she had never seen such an alert baby.. And our girl turned toward her and listened carefully. 

We quickly decided that her serene and graceful personality was more fitting of a “princess”.. And her birth certificate was filled out.. 

The last 18 years have sped by so quickly.. But she has remained much the same.. Always looking at the world around her with her eyes wide open… Curious and alert.. Learning as much as she could.. Holding her eyes so wide, as if she could soak in knowledge faster that way.. 

Lol.. But she also learned to express her opinion.. And negotiate.. 

Soon? Yup.. Her father and I wondered if we should have named her “little ruler”.. 
Recently I looked up “Ryanne” again.. Wanting to use it in a new book series.. And I realized the technical meaning was “a feminine version of Ryan”.. And Ryan means “little King”.. 

So Ryanne would mean “little queen”.. A mature and educated ruler.. 

Hmm.. So my husband had chose to name our daughter EITHER a queen OR a princess? Both of these names mean a natural leader.. 

And a leader she is.. An educated, empathetic, observant leader.. 

Maybe we should encourage her to run for President.. We could use more leaders like her.. 

But my little princess has dreams of her own.. And she will go on being a leader in her own world.. Clearing her own path.. 

Always with her eyes wide open.. 

She lived…

We never saved money for my daughter’s college.. We started to, but then…?

Well..?

Well..  then life happened.

As I was pulling pictures for my daughter’s open house last week.. I saw snapshots of that life …

First there were gymnastics classes and dance.. To give her socialization skills.

Then it was off to preschool .. To give her a headstart in school.. After all, she was already so smart.

Then came trips to museums and zoos.. Nature centers..

As her desire to perform evolved.. We added Performing Arts camps and classes..

Add in piano lessons, Girl Scout camps.. Community college Musical opportunities..

Yup.. Pretty soon her college fund was history..

But that isn’t the end of her pictures..

No sir-ee.. Then comes to the cross country trips that my husband and I took our kids on..


To New York to see family.. And to see Niagara Falls..

To California to see family.. and a quick stop at the Grand Canyon..

As we added each new state to our map of “places”? Yup.. More pictures.. Each picture brought a smile to my face.. Remembering the adventures .. the life lessons.. the laughter and smiles..

Along the way…?

Along the way paying for college became less of a priority.. and preparing her for life took its place.

Now don’t get me wrong.. We have always TALKED about college.. and her future. That part was never a question. With her reading before Kindergarten? It was just a given..

The only thing that changed was our focus on saving money FOR her future.. instead of PREPARING her for that future.

What we didn’t realize in making this subconscious shift?

Our daughter has lived a very full. And she learned to live IN TODAY.. although the while working hard toward her future. She enjoys her life where ever she is.. Whether it’s tutoring.. or creating a set.. babysitting twins.. or swimming in the moonlight.. she always has a smile on her face.

Even (occasionally) she will smile while doing dishes.. (hey.. she is human after all)…

So today when I look at my daughter .. and realize that soon she will have student loans..

..and I know that we (her father & I) can’t prevent that…

I realize that .. with those student loans?

She will also have memories of moonlit kayak rides, kayak adventures to find hidden islands, cousin sleep overs (aka stay up overs), many hide n seek adventures in the dark, science experiments growing what’s in our mouth (yuck), science experiments with coke and Mentos, reading millions of books, watching “books” we have read come ALIVE at the movie theaters, doing chores, earning her own money, getting pets, saying good-bye to pets, taking 30 hour driving trips to see cousins, seeing beautiful landmarks in our country, welcoming exchange sisters into our lives, sharing a room with someone you don’t know LONG enough to know them by heart, having to hug those exchange sisters good-bye at airports, art lessons, piano lessons, acting lessons, voice lessons, summer camps, theatre camps, family camps,  swimming in waterfalls, getting leaches, putting band-aids on little ones, having surgeries, playing board games all night, designing her own prom dresses, learning how to eat gluten free, saving money for Disney World, going to Disney World, learning how to drive, making her first solo trip, being center stage in the spot light, being backstage supporting someone else’s spotlight, singing songs on stage, singing her grandpa’s favorite song around the campfire,

Loving others,

laughter,img_1214

Faith in God,

Yes.. my baby girl will do amazing at college..

because she has lived a full life!!!!!!!

……I Love you Princess Tiger Lily…..

Wordy Wednesday..

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Fan Art by Sabrina

As I tried to find the perfect 500 word excerpt from Shadows this morning, I consulted my daughters… They quickly listed off a couple samples.. but I still couldn’t decide…

So I thought I would ask you..

Which section would make YOU more likely to download a copy of Shadows?

!The first Sample!

“I can’t believe my luck. Sure was happy to see ya walk past my horse. I was jest leavin’ town myself. Now I can escort ya home,” the stranger continued happily.

“You’ll hafta excuse me, sir, I must be hurryin’. My Da will be expectin’ me ta have dinner ready soon,” Emma stated.

“Well then, we musn’t keep him waitin’,” he replied. There was a chuckle behind her. The fair haired gentleman smiled in response to his friend’s laughter. “I’ll come along with ya. Ya can introduce me, so I can git permission ta call on ya. Official like. We can git our courtin’ started today.”

“I believe ya misunderstood me, sir,” Emma replied appalled.

“Misunderstood? Na, I think not. I see that ya waited fer me outside of town, so that we could walk together without all those busybodies watchin’ us and interuptin’.” Smiling, the man reached for her arm. Emma stepped back and bumped into the horse behind her. Feeling panic well up within her, she looked around for help and was amazed to see a pair of stormy eyes walking towards her.

From behind, Emma heard the man on the horse cleared his throat in warning. The fair haired gentleman stiffened in irritation as he turned towards the approaching man, demanding, “What do ya want now?”

Emma could not take her eyes off the approaching help, even though she knew it was rude to stare. The gray eyed man did not look away from her as he answered, “When this young lady fergot ta bring me my coffee before she left town, I started in ta worryin’.”

Looking down into her basket, Emma realized that she had indeed purchased the tin of coffee the man had intended only as a distraction. “I fergot,” she said weakly, trying to figure out why he would want the coffee she accidentally purchased.

Coming to stop a few steps from Emma, the gray eyed man smiled at her. “Ya steal a man’s heart and then ya steal his coffee, darlin’?” He winked at her. “Ya go too far.” The smile that touched his mouth, did not reach his stormy eyes. They tried to convey a meaning to her. A meaning that Emma could not quite grasp. “Ya shoulda waited fer me ta walk with ya. I’ve been wantin’ ta speak with yer Pa,” he paused briefly before continuing, “before the weddin’.”

Gasping as his plan dawned on her, Emma ducked around the fair haired gentleman and reached for her rescuer’s arm. He weaved her hand around his tense elbow and held it there. Wanting to look convincing in her new role, she desperately tried to remember how Abigail had looked at her David all those months while they were courting. Opening her eyes wide, she batted her eyelashes. “Oh do forgive me darling,” she said, attempting to mimic Abigail’s sugary tone. She hoped no one would notice how her voice quivered.

~~OR~~

!!The second Sample!!

By the time she walked back from the field and made it to the hill by the creek, she had convinced herself that Thane would have left by now. When she arrived, it was indeed vacant. Emma sat down in disappointment, but intent on looking carefree. “Well Mama, it looks as if I brought ya a sandwich.”

“Ya’ve already given my sandwich away?” asked a voice that made her jump guiltily.

“Ah—No, of course not,” Emma replied, willing her heart to slow down. “But I almost dropped it in the water, ya scared me so,” she scolded. Thane sat down a couple paces from Emma. She handed him a sandwich, wrapped in a towel.

Thane took a bite of the sandwich. Looking thoughtful, he asked, “Ya gonna introduce me ta yer Mama?”

Emma looked up at him. She couldn’t decide if he was making fun of her. Finding no hint of teasing in his face, she replied, “Mr. Hawkins meet my Mama, Lilliana Wells. Lily, to those that loved her. Mama, this is Mr. Hawkins.. He’s taken ta savin’ me lately. Even promised ta marry me ta protect me from an ugly mess,” she ended with a smile.

“Pleasure ta meet ya ma’am. Please call me Thane.”

“Mama wants ta know where ya come from that we shouldna know ya already? We thought we knew everyone here in the valley,” Emma asked innocently.

“Well ma’am, I live in those hills,” nodding his head across the creek, “tucked in a valley. I come this way a couple times a year but spend most my time on the trail huntin’ and trappin’.”

“So yer a trapper?” Emma asked between bites.

“Yes, ma’am.”

“Call me Emma –,” she reminded him.

“Beggin yer pardon, ma’am, I thought I was talkin’ ta yer Mama,” he said with a lopsided smile.

She chose to ignore his teasing and looked toward the hills.

“Yer mama seems ta belong in this spot,” Thane observed.

“She does,” she stated simply. “A fever took her and my baby sister ta heaven a few years back.” Her final words were barely above a whisper.

“I’m sorry,” Thane said softly.

Emma blinked back a tear before she looked at him.

“Where is yer sister’s stone?” he asked.

“Isn’t one. She was so small, I couldna bear fer her ta be put by herself. Mama had wanted her so. And Da– well he couldna bear ta name her. So she sleeps in Mama’s arms, here in Mama’s favorite spot.” She waved her arm to indicate the hill top overlooking the little creek. “Da brought this rock here. When he dug it up outta the cornfield – he decided ta roll it here so Mama wouldna have grass stains on all her skirts. She always was sittin’ in the grass. She tried ta make them stop before they hurt themselves. But Da had jest teased how “embarrassed” he was ta have a wife with green dresses. She finally relented then …but wouldna come down here fer weeks,” Emma laughed sadly. “But when she did, she sat on the rock.” She paused, remembering. “She kept one skirt with an especially bad grass mark though. She hung it right in their room. It’s hangin’ there still. Da won’t even let me wash it.” She didn’t notice the tears on her cheeks until Thane handed her his towel.

“What about yer Ma?” Emma asked, trying to lighten the mood as she dried her cheeks. “Will I know her if she’s in town? Or will I have ta wait `til the weddin’?”

Thane looked back towards the hills. “Awhile beyond that, I expect,” he answered softly. “My Ma died when I was young. We went out trappin’ and when we returned.. she was gone.”

“Oh,” Emma replied, not knowing what to say. “How old were ya?”

“Not sure really. Probably 9 winters ago.”

“Ya don’t know how old ya are?” Emma asked incredulously.

Thane shrugged his shoulders. “Pa doesn’t keep track of such things-says they’re nonsense. I stopped askin’.”

Wiping her eyes again, she cleared her throat. “Maybe we should jest start plannin’ our weddin’ before I start cryin’ again.”

**Please Vote in the comments below**

… if you haven’t downloaded Shadows yet.. you should… It’s a bargain at 99 cents..

Buy SHADOWS by Jules Nelson HERE