The End of Summer

Loveys, my sister Laura tells me that as long as she can remember, she'd sit at the table with me and Sara--our noses stuck in whatever books we were reading.

It's true.

And now that I have kids, I've found that it's at breakfast and lunch that I can usually squeeze in reading time. I feed the kids, then sit down afterward to eat, and pull my book over to me. (The picture above is from breakfast this morning! I love ALL Ann Rinaldi books. Every time I'm in Lynchburg, I go to my fave bookstore Givens, up to the loft where the used books are, and look for Ann Rinaldi books. Way back when I was in college, one of my professors assigned us one of her books to read. I've read so many since then. She's wonderful at YA historical fiction.)

We manage to squeeze in what we love. It's just who we are. As the Jeffster likes to tell me, "You know it. I know it. Vegetable lasagna knows it." (Yes, he quotes Seinfeld. A lot.)

Sometimes friends ask me when I find time to write while juggling kids. It's here and there. Like everyone else, I suppose. We somehow make time for what we enjoy. I love spending time with my family. I love to read and write and edit books. Those are my things.

Lately the kids and I have been going to the post office quite a bit (not my favorite). Ash moans like it's the end of the world and asks me WHY ARE WE HERE AGAIN? And I tell her, when you have a mama who writes stories, you sometimes have to go to the post office to send those stories to people.

Loveys, I can't believe we're here at the end of summer. The end of the summer that finally brought me The Last Summer. Honestly, I always love fall so much, but I'm sad to see this summer end. I remember feeling so relieved that we got a summer pub date--because it needed to be a summertime release. The heat of summer needed to surround the book. Beaches and lakes and iced tea and shorts and flip-flops and cold soda. I always wanted a summertime launch party, with glow lights on the back deck and sangria and a space filled with my friends.

I feel so much gratitude for all of it. For every reader, for every message I've received, for every thoughtful review--for all of it. These are moments that I hold in my heart.

And speaking of special moments, for my Lynchburg friends, there's a book signing in the works for September that my sister Sara and I are SO excited about. I'll share more as we get closer to the time. I can't wait to see my Virginia family and friends!  

School starts this week, loveys. We've got the school supplies organized and ready on the kitchen table. We've cleaned out closets and clothes drawers. And just like that, summer is over. We wait for it so long, I can't help but feel sad as it ends. In many ways, this summer was different from what we'd thought. Unexpected trips to Texas. Losing my grandmother.

And like with anything else, what was planned just drifts away, and we keep moving with what is real for us. And with the unexpected are moments filled with grace too. Moments that are memories we'll treasure. Ash has wanted a daddy/daughter date all summer long. So to make sure we made that happen before school starts, she and Jeff went out together last night. Treasured memories made. Some things on our list didn't happen this summer. Other things--not on our list--did happen. In the end, there's this patchwork of experiences and shared moments that make up our family life together. It's raining today. The kids are thundering around upstairs. This morning as I was drinking my coffee and looking out at the rain, I smiled and thought of how I actually love rainy days and Mondays. I love this little family that's mine. This summer has had incredibly joyful moments. And also tears. Parties. Freelance projects. Travel. Fever. Bike riding without training wheels. Movies and popcorn. Sleepovers.

I'll hold on to the feeling of summer a little while longer. Green grass and flowers and flip-flops. And when it's time, I'll switch those for tall boots and leaves crunching and pumpkin spice lattes.

This summer--when my book, the one I began 20 years ago, was published--will forever be special to me. A reminder that sometimes things take time . . . but keep holding on to hope.

If you haven't yet grabbed a copy of The Last Summer, I hope you'll hop over to Amazon and order a book or download it to Kindle. (And if you haven't left a review yet, click over and mark that off your list! It only takes a minute!) I still hold my proof copy and can't believe it's finally here. A few more books arrived in the mail this weekend . . . and my heart still flutters when I open the box and see The Last Summer.

Hope brought to life.    

Making Summer Memories

Loveys, it's cloudy here and I'm on my second cup of coffee. We've got family in town visiting and the Jeffster has taken them white water rafting at the moment, so I'm just here with the kids, hoping everyone stays in the raft and there are no unexpected splashes into the river. My awesome friend Danielle texted me the recipe to this dessert she introduced me to--churro cheesecake--and it's fabulous (not even exaggerating a little bit) and I want to make it for our company tonight. So I'm wondering, reasonably, when I can make it. Not too soon, because the minute it's ready, I'm going to want to break into that thing. This girl is low on self control. One of the awesome things about having people come visit is getting to do all the touristy things in Colorado that we don't normally do. Canyons and rivers and Evergreens and breweries and 16th Street--it's fun to explore where we live.

(Seriously, in the above photo, I'm not even sure you can see the two tiny humans swinging in this canyon. One of the tiny humans is related to me.)

We've done these things before, but not in a long while and it's great to have a reason to do it. And seeing the sights always reminds me that there's magic where we live, if we take time to explore it. Everywhere we go, there's something special, every place we visit. I just got back from Texas and, I think, because I'm not there often and I miss it, when I am there, it's so special to me. It's always magic. For all of us, wherever we are, I think there's something to explore. (Also, my cousin has introduced my kids to geocaching. I have a feeling this might be a permanent situation around here.) There are things to see, but something about being with people you love makes exploring even more special.

We've been so blessed to have extra time with family this summer. I love it. There's carne asada in the crockpot right now and a slew of sweet potatoes on the counter, to go in the oven later. (Though I've warned my company to lower their expectations. We've got legit cooks in this family, loveys. For real. Brandy Bruce is not one of them. Every meal I've made so far has been new for them! I'm actually hoping that's helping me.)

I'm always reminded that spending time together glues us together in these ways that I love, that last even when we're apart. We spent all day yesterday in downtown Denver, taking turns holding Lily and pushing the stroller and taking pictures and holding hands with the kids. And by the end of it, you're just glued together a little bit more. Fun moments. Stressful moments (these happen when backing up and parking in the city are parts of my life. And Victor has to jump in and do this for me). Moments like all of us going into Union Station and all of us wishing it was actually Platform 9 3/4 from Harry Potter (love these people). Small things like eating breakfast together every morning or getting excited to watch Game of Thrones together.

Family in my house.

Sharing what we have with each other.

So it's been good over here. I'll be sad when they go and we'll miss each other until the next time. But these summer memories are good ones. Cable car rides over massive canyons, city shenanigans, water rafting, castles and trails and pizza and even helicopter rides. And lots of moments just being family together. On one of our car rides somewhere, Victor and I talked and reminisced about our childhoods--times at grandma's house and that sort of thing. And right now, I was thinking that these special moments with cousins are memories that will stay with my kids forever.

I can't believe there are already school supplies in the stores, reminding me that summer goes too fast and the school year is long. But we've got some time left and we'll try to make it last as long as possible.

Best Friends and Books

Loveys, I just got back from Texas. My BFF since forever had surgery so I took a quick trip to be with her. I had to post this picture because Michelle gave me this T-shirt in honor of The Last Summer! (Texas, y'all!)  I love it so much. Gillian and I were trying to take pictures of the book out on the farm, but the turkeys followed us everywhere so they're part of our pictures.

Michelle lives on a farm. I'm talking about a real farm. The kind where goats are milked in the morning and chickens are fed and we check on the cow (appropriately named Mr. Tasty) and turkeys roam around in what Shell's daughter and I called the Enchanted Forest (a small grove of trees that makes me want to pretend I'm in Sherwood Forest or something!). And sometimes the llamas get in the pond and look like Lochness monsters with those long necks. And dogs chase us while we ride on the 4-wheelers. And the sheep (which sort of look like goats because they're desert painted sheep) move together in a herd as they graze.

I'm so glad I was able to go. There was this moment when Michelle got out of the car and we were walking (carefully) back to the house, arm in arm, and I was thinking, Gosh, we've been together through so many seasons of life. From being just girls together on the property back where she grew up, laying on a blanket under a huge tree, next to a pond, writing stories and playing. Now we're older and we're wives and mothers. And still together. On her farm now, with her family, and her animals. I had time to talk and play with her daughter, Gillian, who's so special to me.

It's the story of a long friendship. A lot of years put in already. And more to go.

Worth it.

Because having people who've known you forever and loved you forever feels reassuring and comforting. We spent hours together, just curled up watching The Crown (so good!). Being friends. It wasn't so long ago that she was out here in Colorado, and we were cooking together and listening to our kids thunder up and down the stairs together while they were playing. And it was great to be together this time in Texas. Still being us.

So, as you can see below, The Last Summer is right at home in Texas. :) For all my friends who've already read it this summer, please take a few minutes and write a review on Amazon. It truly helps so much and your support means everything to me. I am so incredibly grateful for every reader. So hop over and please leave a review!! Long or short, they really do help.

Friendship and books. Two of my favorite things.

I miss Michelle already. And I miss Texas.

If you haven't checked out The Last Summer yet, I hope you'll click on the page at the top and put this on your summer reading list!