Author: Sharon Hughson

Sharon Lee spent her youth talking to animals, who never replied, until she escaped to Narnia, where animals did talk back. The magical portal of reading made her a dream weaver. Now, she invites fantasy addicts and dreamers to time travel into immortal, mystical realms.

Time for ONE SNOWY NIGHT of Romance

Another great short story anthology from my publisher, Roane Publishing. I’ve read this collection and will post a review later this week. If you’re ready for some sweet, snowy romance, grab your copy today.

HAPPY BOOK BIRTHDAY TO

ONE SNOWY NIGHT!

 
 
One Snowy Night
A Sweet Romance Anthology 
By Various Authors
Publisher: Roane Publishing
Release Date: Jan 8, 2018
Check out these blurbs for the FOUR great stories waiting to entertain you on those long winter nights.
 
All the Things I Should Have Told You
 
One snowy night, in an Accident and Emergency ward, a life hangs in the balance, and your best friend is going to tell you everything you don’t know about him, about your life, and what you both might be about to lose.
 
 
Unforeseen Circumstances
 
Marlene Martin wants to start over, to escape the sad past she can’t seem to leave behind. Between her marriage falling apart and her brother passing away, she has no reason left to stay in Mistport, New York. Her pending move across the country is exactly what she needs—or so she thinks.
 
Brady Miller doesn’t want to love Marlene, not after their agonizing divorce. His constant travel for work keeps his mind off of where they went wrong. But when he moves back to his small hometown to help with his brother’s business, seeing her again awakens the feelings he had long pushed aside. Each time they bump into each other, his interest in her only deepens.
 
When Marlene wakes up in the hospital after a terrible accident, she turns to the first person who enters her mind: Brady. Her world is shattered when he reveals that they’re divorced and her brother is gone. Brady helps her sort through the pain of memories she’s forgotten while he tries to avoid complicating her life even further.
 
Is Marlene’s memory loss a second chance for their love, or will history repeat itself?
 
 
Somewhere Between Falling
 
Recent college graduate Danielle Haviland had her future planned as a bride, band PR manager, and world traveler. Her dreams are ruined when her fiancée dumps her. On top of her heartbreak, Dani’s demanding mother issues an ultimatum: choose a viable life plan by the New Year, or assume a position picked out for her in the family real estate business. Dani runs away to the beloved town of her childhood summers to heal, refocus, and decide her future.
 
Still reeling from a family tragedy, Quinn Martin has been hoping for a second chance at happiness. His old friend Dani’s return might provide the opportunity he needs. When he offers Dani a job, the two grow closer and see that time hasn’t diminished their bond. Their chemistry sparks and broken hearts begin to heal. Will the plotting of a devious ex separate the couple before they can explore the relationship both desperately crave?
 
Somewhere between falling snowflakes, a chance kiss on a city sidewalk might offer childhood friends a new beginning. 
 
 
One Snowy Day
 
When tragedy strikes again, Aunt Evvie once more steps to the rescue. Her sister attempts to poison her daughter even after her own suicide, leaving behind chocolates tainted with arsenic in her daughter’s drawer and urging her to eat them in a note. Calling Molly’s beloved aunt for help, Phillip sees her convince her niece that she is both good and lovable. Evvie surrenders her job to stay home with Molly and in in the process comes to realize her brother-in-law no longer feels like a brother. Phillip convinces Evvie to enter into a psudo-marriage to provide stability for the hurting child. After rejection and betrayal, can Phillip trust romance again? Can the Evvie, the plain, older sister, compete with her beauty-queen sister? 
 
 
 
GIVEAWAY!
 
A $10 ROANE PUBLISHING GIFT CARD!

Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use a RoanePublishing.com Gift Code.  No purchase necessary, but you must be 18 or older to enter. The winner will be chosen by rafflecopter, and announced on the widget. Winner well be notified by emailed and have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. The number of entries received determines the odds of winning. This giveaway was organized by Roane Publishing’s marketing department.

Shake Up that Routine

Let’s face it, we all like our routine. Even those people who share they decide at the “spur of the moment” brush their teeth in the same pattern every day. We are creatures of habit, and in order to embrace metamorphosis, our routine needs to be upended, thrown in the dryer, sent on three rounds of a roller coaster, and get capsized.
Research shows that one way to keep your brain sharp (and those of us in mid-life know the mind is the first thing to slip) is to make slight changes to your daily habits. Maybe you take a different route to the grocery store than usual. Or you try a new store altogether.
Something about the thought it takes to deviate from the regular daily pattern keeps the electricity charging through your brain. That’s all it takes to keep it engaged enough that it won’t conveniently forget where you hid that anniversary gift so your spouse wouldn’t find it. (Don’t worry. You’ll find it in a few years, and it will be a happy reunion.)
I started my path to metamorphosis a little early. The day after my last birthday, I cleared my schedule so I could take my car to the dealer for application of the protective package they worked hard to sell us.
Here’s all the ways this little “detour” shook up my daily routine:

  1. I had to get dressed and “presentable” a full half-hour earlier than I would for any substitute teaching job (I missed this one by five or six minutes)
  2. I had to navigate big-city traffic on unfamiliar roads between my husband’s office and the dealership
  3. First time driving into the fancy auto-door service bays, filling out paperwork and driving off in a loaner car (a smaller and not as technologically advanced version of my car)
  4. Pack up my “office” and work in the Hillsboro Public Library
  5. Eat lunch with my husband

And there were more. In fact, it turned into a L-O-O-N-G day away from home. From 7am to 8:45pm. Believe me, my cats were NOT impressed.
Neither was I as my stomached tightened when the traffic closed around me. Or when my computer battery flashed low and I was scouting for a power outlet in an unfamiliar environment.

My stomach rebelled at more non-home-cooked food.

My brain cells? They were firing like an Independence Day fireworks barge. Sparks were flying. Old neural pathways were zapped while new neural highways settled into place.
In fact, I sense enough of a shake up that I can return to my daily routine for six to eight weeks without harm to my aging gray matter. (This is NOT research-based information. More like wishful thinking.)
This single day may have been an earthquake in my world of happy routines, but it didn’t hurt me. I managed to edit pages in the quiet of the library. My internal navigation system didn’t lead me into mighty detours.


Did I change into a butterfly-like creature of Portland traffic? Not hardly. After all, change is a process, not a single epic event.
What can you do to shake up your daily routine? Have you tried this will less-than-happy results?

Another New Year: Another New Word

It’s January. Again. Another new year. And around here that means a new theme or focus word.
This year’s word blindsided me shortly after we returned from our Branson vacation. I kept seeing a form of this word and as I was working through the ramblings from National Novel Writing Month that became some of December’s blog posts, I was struck by it.
Transform. Transforming. Transformation.
But that sounded too much like Transformers (”more than meets the eye”) so I immediately put my wordy nerd brain into thesaurus mode.
What did I come up with?

Was 2017 Dauntless?

Maybe you forgot that I’d chosen to be dauntless in 2017.


Just choosing the word was like a double-dog-dare to the enemy of the soul.
No matter how much I tried, I could never find the mindset of fearlessness I needed to plow ahead.
Instead, troubles, trials, and transitions bombarded me until I sat down in a heap with my arms over my head.
Hardly the image of a dauntless author chasing the publishing contract she KNEW she would get in 2017.
All of that makes me leery of choosing something daunting again for this year.

Metamorphosis Defined

When I think of metamorphosis, I think of the change of a furry caterpillar to a beautiful butterfly. That’s probably why you’ll see so many butterflies in the next few months as I’m inundating myself with this word.
But, aside from the biological definition, what is a metamorphosis? Dictionary.com says it’s “a complete change of form, structure, or substance, as transformation by magic; any complete change in appearance, character, circumstances, etc.”
So what does that mean for me? Am I changing from human into something else? I don’t think so. And the only magic that will be used is the grace of God.
I’m hoping the make changes in a few areas of my life, though. The biggest one is right here in my writing world.
Maybe you’ve already noticed the difference in my website. I hope you like the changes, but they aren’t done. I’m working on making it “look” and “feel” more like me.
The other thing is that this year I will focus my writing—almost exclusively—on Christian markets. This is a huge change for me, and it makes me more than a tad nervous.
The biggest motivator of this change is the Kindle Worlds contracts. I have a minimum of three more novellas for the First Street Church in the works for 2018.
I’m still going to do at least two projects with my independent publisher—romances. They know I’m changing my focus, and they’re supportive of my decisions. It’s one of the things that I like the best about them.

How it will look in my Life

My metamorphosis isn’t going to take me from a size six to a size zero. Or in the other direction to a size sixteen.
I’m planning on being disciplined in my exercise and eating until I reach the optimal weight for my height and age, but it’s hardly going to look like a transformation.
No butterfly wings for this fluffy girl.
Since my focus in writing is becoming more spiritual, the area I expect to morph into something mega is in my spirit. I’ve got a planner that helps me align my thinking along these lines.
The two nonfiction projects I’m planning for this year are both Bible-based. It’s time I powered through the grief handbook once and for all. So that’s a priority for this year.
And I didn’t write a new study book in 2017. That’s the other project I’m requiring of myself. I’ve got tons of ideas (of course) but I need to narrow them into a single topic that can be dissected over ten to twelve lessons.
Your ideas are welcome, as always.
Do you choose a theme or word of the year? What was your 2017 word? What will you focus on this year.

Why Resistance to Change is Futile

Warning: in this post you will see a TON of cliches thrown around. It’s because I’m trying to make a point about facing life changes. The Borg in me knows “Resistance is Futile,” but still I resist.

Change is inevitable. Change is constant.

Words slung around with verve.

How ironic. Change means “to make different from what would be if left alone,” and constant means “not changing or varying; uniform; regular; invariable.” Although in this case the third definition for constant is more fitting: “regularly recurrent; continual.”

In other words, things are always changing.

But we often resist change.


If we have to change, then we want to snap our fingers and be changed. But it doesn’t work that way. It’s a process. It’s a journey.
In fact, life is the progressive change of an infant through adulthood. If considered in that way, we wouldn’t want to remain an infant forever. Some people are stuck in such a state and they’re deemed disabled.
Meaning, if you can’t change then you’re hindered at living.
The process of living is the pathway of change. A baby learns to eat and walk. It grows and can soon run and talk. The first few years are filled with rapid growth and change.

And if that growth doesn’t occur, parents are quick to consult a specialist. They need to fix it. It would be horrible to get stuck in a formative stage.
But when an older person is faced with change, the tables turn.

“It’s always been this way.”
“It’s worked this way for years, so why change now.”
“If it’s not broke, don’t fix it.”

Bring on the cliches. As many of them exist indicating humanity’s resistance to change as those encouraging growth.

“People don’t resist change. They resist being changed.” Peter M. Senge

Let’s analyze this saying in reference to Empty Nest Syndrome.

It isn’t that we don’t want our children to grow up into responsible adults that live on their own. It’s that we want to remain attached to them, an important part of their life.
We are still parents but our ROLE is being changed. And we don’t get to say how it will change. That’s up to our children.
Moving to an empty nest is one of the changes I faced in recent years. But it certainly wasn’t the hardest one.
It became easier to accept when I focused on what I was gaining rather than what I was losing. Sure, the kids were moving out and wouldn’t be around as much, relying on me as much. But that meant we had a guest room and I could redecorate it. It meant cooking less and less mess to clean up. Suddenly, I only had to consult one other person’s schedule before making plans.
Plenty of changes are forced on us. We lose a loved one, and you can bet we didn’t choose that. We know resistance is futile, but still we drag our feet about entering the valley of grief. We hold memories close, revel in the pity of loss.
And we can stay there a long time. It’s up to us to stop resisting, to get moving forward, to go through the process.

Remember, change is a process.

And, yes, I’m going somewhere with this post. In fact, writing and re-reading it was part of my process for evaluating 2017 and brainstorming words for my 2018 theme.

You’ll have to come back next year to see the end results.

What’s the biggest change you’ve faced? Did you resist it? Why or why not?

Merry Christmas from your Favorite Author

It’s Monday. But it’s a Monday like no other. Because today is Christmas.

Merry Christmas, my friend.

I pray it will be a day full of joy and family and contentment. If the Christ of Christmas has his way, it will be a day of peace and good will, in your heart if not in all the earth.

And if I have anything to say about it…there will be something sweet to eat and enough laughter to make your sides ache.

Since I didn’t take you on a tour of the Ozarks when I went there, how about a little Missouri for Christmas?

On the day we arrived, there was a parade through town and up to a lighted nativity displayed on the hill. These period actors were going the wrong way on the route about fifteen minutes before the parade started.

Adoration Parade, Branson, MO on December 3, 2107

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This parade consisted of a dozen floats (most sponsored by churches) and more marching bands than I’ve ever seen in one place before. Oh, and random shepherds.

This is one of the school bands whose uniforms I liked.

This is the sunrise I gasped over and made my husband get up early to photograph. And the picture doesn’t do it justice.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Our shopping trip to Branson Landing. This is my cousin and his lovely wife. Yes, I’m short. Thanks for noticing.

We took a road trip on our road trip…to Eureka Springs, Arkansas.

Home of the Christ of the Ozarks. It’s 64 feet tall (the face is 15 feet tall). And, yes, that is a large nativity at the base of the sculpture. It was c-o-l-d up on that hill, even though the sun was shining.

Christ of the Ozarks overlooking Eureka Springs, AR

My favorite part of the trip to Branson was on the last evening. We attended the dinner show at the Dixie Stampede.

The pre-show act: a band of brothers singing bluegrass
This guy was too embarrassed to show his face, but his dressage was incredible.
One of the Palomino “sisters” involved in the Roman ride

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Apparently, there was a land grab in Oklahoma? Anyway, this huge sculpture is near the large Bass Pro Shop in Oklahoma City.

Galloping your horse in a crowd on rough prairie land is dangerous.

The entire reason for the pit stop in Oklahoma City: my beautiful Aunt Betty.

Merry Christmas to my Oklahoma family who faithfully read this blog.

What’s your favorite Christmas memory?

 

What’s in Your Garage?

My husband likes buying new cars. At least, it seems like he does because he’s doing it every few years—four years being the maximum he can endure without car shopping. So our garage sees plenty of inhabitants.

Me? I don’t like the car buying process.

I mean, it’s fun to see the pretty colors and drive the sporty models. The new car aroma is intoxicating in its own way.

But car salesmen…even the good ones…talk too much and listen too little.

Even walking in with “cash” didn’t make the process more speedy.

It’s like they have to play their little “numbers” game. No matter what.

And the truth is, I’m not a huge fan of new gadgetry, and that includes new vehicles. I learn the ins and outs of my rig, and it becomes a member of my extended family.

If I had my way, I’d still be driving my 1998 Durango. I adored that guy (Shari’s Tough Machine) but when gas prices sky-rocketed and my sons started driving their own vehicles rather than riding with us, my husband decided I needed something ….more economical? In truth, I’m rather vague on this point.

Anyway, he likes new and shiny. I’m not a fan of monthly payments. Usually we’re at an impasse.

Or he gets a new job one week and purchases a Mustang the next. Because…why not?

And if I say “I want a…” then he sees it as his mission in life to get that for me.

Five years ago, it was an Audi Q5. At the time, they were behind on the technology of syncing all your devices with your car and using it as a WiFi hot spot. But, man did that baby handle like a sports car. Acceleration…yep. Cornering at speed…oh, yeah.

*Grin stretches off her face*

But it was out of the price range. And I decided at that time, I would get a solid book contract with a $50,000 advance and pay cash for the amazing driving machine.

And boy did that motivate me to produce novels at the rate of four per year.

Not that I sold a single one of them. In fact, only one per year met the advanced rewriting, revising and editing stages so it could be pitched to agents and publishers.

But…there was a carrot dangling. And it was shiny…and hugged the road like a Porsche 911 (exact words the salesman used on my first test drive).

And now it’s in my garage. There’s a monthly payment attached.

And, no, I don’t have a book contract that paid a sizable advance. In fact, none of my book contracts (yes, I have many) includes advance payment. Which is fine. Because now that I know how that works, I’d rather wait until I’m a best-selling author before anyone bets on me that way.

But what’s going to motivate me to keep writing novels at a break-neck pace now that the sporty SUV is hanging out on the other side of my office wall? Maybe the idea of paying the loan of early.

It doesn’t have the same compulsive sound to it.

What’s in your garage? A car? Boxes? A crafting area?

Lessons from a Parking Lot

It’s going on 6:00 pm. I’ve got a date in a room with a dozen other writers for something called Late Night Write, a specific brand of National Novel Writing Month torture. And I promised them chocolate.

Fred Meyer is only a couple blocks from my house. On the way to the next town over where the librarian who is also the organizer of the write-ins reserved a room at the library after closing hours. I’ll stop by the store, rush into the Christmas candy section, snag a bag of Hershey’s Miniatures (something for everybody in there) and be on my way in a snap.

Or not.

Instead, everyone will choose to drive down the row where I parked. The man next to me will pull out at the same time I stick my vehicle in reverse without so much as a glance behind him. Good thing the guy in the pickup truck was respectfully waiting for me.

The armored vehicle is parked along the curb across from the exit from my row. All traffic is squished into a single line.
Here are the things I learned that night:

  • Trucks pulling trailers should not squeeze by in a single lane
  • There are polite drivers who will let you into the congested stream of unmoving traffic
  • Plenty of drivers are myopic. Watch out for them because they don’t see anyone else
  • The traffic flow from the gas pumps stymies the regular pattern
  • If someone lets you in, you need to pay it forward and let someone in
  • If you let too many someones in, the seemingly-polite driver who showed you favor might morph into a Gremlin who lays on the horn
  • People don’t walk and talk on the cell phone at the same time very effectively if it requires dodging a snaking snarl of slow-moving vehicles

All in all, I’ve determined that unless there is an emergency, I won’t be returning to Fred Meyer or any other grocery store with a gas station in its parking lot on a Friday in the vicinity of 6:00pm.

On a positive note, it gave me something fresh to write about when I got to the room powered by creative energy.

What lessons have you learned from a parking lot?

The Road to Blogging is Paved with Grand Intentions

I intended to post at least twice last week while I was on vacation in Branson, MO. Really. Here’s a little proof from my blog about what I was hoping for from the vacation.

And then vacation mindset settled in. And grand intentions went the way of New Year’s resolutions.

It happens when you’re having a fine time relaxing and seeing the sights and eating too much rich food.

So how about if I synopsize it for you now? Will that make up for failing to post in the heat of vacation’s finer moments?

I’d rather seek forgiveness than ask permission.

The First Weekend

Fights were unremarkable with the exception that we arrived 30 minutes early in Oklahoma City. It stressed my cousin’s wife out not to be there to meet us. But the timing worked out so that we claimed our bags, stepped into the pickup area and they pulled up a minute later.

Smoother than Dole whip. Although not as tasty.

They took us to a pizza joint where their son worked. We were waited on by the owner’s daughter (said son’s best friend) and then off to their house for football.

There was entirely too much college football viewed during these first couple days. But I was in Sooner territory and the championship games were being played.

Enough said.

My aunt (the reason for the side trip into OKC rather than flying directly to MO) and uncle took us to Cattleman’s Cafe at the Stockyards on Saturday. Best steak I’ve had in a LONG time and not as pricey as the last memorable one from Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse.

We did some emergency laundry (no, I don’t want to talk about it) and packed for a semi-early start for the extensive road trip through the flatlands and into the “mountains.” (Yes, there’s a story here, but I’m not telling it at this juncture.)

A Typical Monday

My cousin’s wife had to work. She wasn’t the only one. My cousin spent plenty of time on the phone with a troubled client and hubs got a call about a computer network issue.

Even I ended up working. I wrote a blog post and played around with the stylus and my photo editing app. If you missed it, you can check it out now.

So we stayed at the condo. Mostly.

We agreed to a “15-minute survey” from the Wyndham rep for a $25 American Express card. And that went fine (although longer than 15 minutes but it took place in our condo, so no biggie).

But…timeshare salesmen have no boundaries.

We borrowed my cousin’s Jeep to get some “important and essential” information from the sales center. Not. As soon as they realized we had meant it when we said we didn’t want to buy more points (“But the pricing was incredible. I figured you must have misunderstood the offer.” Yes, we’re idiots. Thanks for saying so, but no, it doesn’t make us want to spend $15,000 dollars).

Since we were out and about, we went to the Dixie Stampede grounds and picked up our tickets for the dinner show on Friday The smell of horseflesh assaulted me when I stepped from the car. Lovely.

It was finally a good day.

Shopping, Sightseeing and Shows

Tuesday, we went shopping at the Landing and the Tanger Outlets.

Wednesday was our afternoon show at the Sight and Sound Theater.

If you’ve never been to one, you should add it to your bucket list. The barnyard scent in the fancy auditorium was the first clue that this would be a show like no other.

A musical with live animals and incredible lighting effects followed.

Afterward, we took the cousins out for dinner since it was their third wedding anniversary.

I recommend Dobyns at the College of the Ozarks (aka Hard Work U).

Friday night was the big dinner show at Dixie Stampede. It was an incredible assortment of trick riding and showmanship. And if you only wanted food, the WHOLE chicken was sure to satisfy.

Road Tripping

The trip from OKC to Branson was a dual-sided road trip.

But that wasn’t enough for my cousins. Nope. They had been married in a “town that survives solely on tourism.” And they wanted to show it to us.

We were game. After all, it was only about fifty miles from Branson. Just a hop, skip and a jump of about an hour in the car.

Or not.

Because we were in the “hills” and the roads were winding through small towns, beside lakes, past chicken farms and at less than 55 miles per hour most of the time.

Eureka Springs, Arkansas, has more to claim its fame than artists and odd-shaped buildings and old store fronts.

For one thing, it boasts the Christ of the Ozarks. This 64-foot statue was our first stop on the chilly winter Thursday we road tripped across the state line.

The town itself was “quaint” if not oddly situated on the side of a hill with narrow streets.

The B&B where they got married was charming. They drove up the steep and narrow drive (explaining how their wedding guests had to park thither and yon) and hopped out to chat with the landlady.

Who was on vacation.

But we saw plenty of locally made art pieces. One of the most unique and memorable pieces was at Zarks Gallery. I must say I wasn’t in the market for art of this caliber. Mostly because I couldn’t afford the $5,000 price tag.

One of Many Nano Lopez sculptures in Zarks Gallery

Eventually, we were headed back to Branson for the condo-grilled dinner. And I ascribed to one of my favorite ways to spend a road trip.

Share your vacation memories. I’d love to hear about the strangest discoveries you made.

A Different Sort of Family Vacation

For several decades, family vacations were defined in a certain way. But as with all of life, things change.

My most recent vacation to the South was a different sort of family vacation for me. However, that means next to nothing if the “norm” of family vacations remains undefined.

Welcome to the earlier definitions of “family vacation.”

The Childhood Definition

A vacation in my childhood involved a canvas tent, sleeping bags, a cooler and camp stove and public forest camping.

And I didn’t complain because I can count on one hand the number of times my father, mother, sister and I went on a trip together. The most memorable one involved a road trip from Oregon to Oklahoma in 1976 for a family reunion.

I wanted to become an Okie after that trip. But that could have been because I did NOT want to get back in the car for three days of solid driving through hot Kansas without air conditioning, no bathroom breaks, sleeping in the cramped back seat with my sister…and the switch.

Because there would be NO fighting. And Dad wouldn’t have to pull the car over thanks to the switch he cut and could handily whip between my sister and my’s bare legs with Indiana Jones precision.

So, I didn’t really know what a family vacation was all about.

The Definition I Adored

And then I married Mr. Wonderful whose family went to campgrounds with neighborhood friends and relatives every summer with regularity. And they slept in RVs. And girls showered and fixed their hair and applied makeup.

So that was a huge culture shock for the girl who caught her dinner in the creek, went to the bathroom in a bucket and washed her face upstream (if you get my meaning).

But once we had kids, we began our own traditions. And when the kids were old enough, we planned a fantastic Spring Break trip…just the four of us. Sometimes we asked friends to tag along, but when you’re jetting across the country that’s not always possible.

Most memorable to me: Washington DC and Disney Orlando

During our RV years, there were plenty of summer trips too. Of course, these were road trips. And the large-bladdered men in my family jibed me for too many bathroom breaks, but no one ever said I had to hold it for another two hours.

Some places we went in the summer: Yellowstone, Redwoods and Disneyland (we even got to fly to this destination-yay!)

Most memorable road trip during this phase: to Colorado.

This was the trip of the Piggyback Hike and the Boot Removal of Death. I’m pretty sure any man in my family can recall exact (and exaggerated) details of those events.

But, kids grow up. And now our “family” has grown to six and our vacations together are more sporadic and occur in December near Christmas. Generally to tropical climates.

A New Dictionary Entry

This past week, I visited family. That’s the new sort of “family” vacation. Rather than going somewhere with “my boys,” I planned an entire ten days around a special someone: my Aunt Betty.

Aunt Betty is an amazing lady. A real Renaissance Woman (and if there isn’t such a thing, now there is). She pursued a career when women were “expected” to marry young and fill a house with babies.

When a man didn’t deserve her faithfulness, she divorced him. Yes, in the Bible Belt in the 1950s. Unheard of. And highly unpopular.

She’s a true survivor. At the moment, she’s surviving her third diagnosis of breast cancer. And she’s over 80, so she knows she’s living on “blessed time” (see Psalms if you don’t know what I’m referring to here).

I tried to plan a trip in May to the College World Series in Oklahoma City (where Aunt B lives), but the ticket prices…stunned me. When I could take a Caribbean cruise for less money, I had to pass.

But we have a condo in Branson, MO. And they have great shows there and amazing Christmas light displays. So, I planned our vacation around visiting Aunt Betty in OKC and then taking her on a road trip to Branson.

And we all know how I feel about road trips.

What’s your idea of a “family vacation”? Am I all wrong with my three definitions?

December in the Ozarks

Per the newest tradition in the world of Hughson vacationing, this post comes to you from Not-at-Home. We’re enjoying the sunny South with my cousins.

This is the third full day in Branson, MO, and the weather has been nearly ideal. Yesterday was the only “day” it wasn’t sunny. The breeze made out jaunt down the Landing in the morning a bit nippy, but since rain stayed away, I was content.

My husband wandered through a Bass Pro Shop (a small one according to my cousins) and we ate some authentic barbecue. No one in my family-of-four likes ribs but me, so I was happy to sample Famous Dave’s. They were smoky, but Tony Roma’s melt in your mouth and has a sweeter sauce (on their Carolina Honey’s).

The gentleman went to the car and tractor museum after we saw all the Landing had to offer us. We were happy to drop them (and their $2 off admission price coupons) at the door and head to another shopping destination.

Where we purchased a few Christmas gifts. ‘Tis the season. Chrystal assured me that as long as I purchased at least ONE time in a store as a gift, it counted wholly toward Christmas shopping. Have I mentioned I like the way she thinks?

There was an electrical storm…and rain. But that was AFTER friends I knew back in Oregon when I was in elementary and middle school stopped by for a visit.

No, they don’t live here, but it’s a common destination for their Christmas shopping goals. Obviously, December is the right time of year to visit the Nashville of the Ozarks…shopping destination extraordinaire.

When you wake up to this sort of view…

It makes being grumpy seem more than a mite ungrateful.

We have three more days to enjoy the sights…and sounds of our destination. Tonight is a trip to the Sight and Sound Theater (see what I did there?) to see THE MIRACLE OF CHRISTMAS. Afterwards, we’ll eat out to honor my cousins’ third wedding anniversary.

Hopefully, we’ll finally see some Christmas lights.

But for now, it’s enough to chill on the balcony in the sunshine with the man who’s loved me for three decades.

What’s your take on Christmas shopping? What do you enjoy doing on your vacation?