There are presents inside this blog post

Since Christmas is right around the corner, regular readers may be tuning in expecting to find pictures of the boys putting up the tree and otherwise preparing themselves for an onslaught of joy.

Well, no.

Don’t get me wrong; we put up the tree and we are girding our loins for the wave of unbridled glee, and the boys will be getting their fair share of presents on the 25th. But, I’ve decided to make this post include a present for you (well, two of you, anyway.)

Through December 27, I’m running an Amazon Giveaway of my latest book. It’s the first time I’ve ever done an Amazon Giveaway, so bear with me as I learn the process. The bottom line is this: two winners will get a copy of this book shipped to them from Amazon.com absolutely free.

That’s right: FREE! I’ve already paid for the books and shipping from Amazon.

For a chance to win a book, just follow these easy steps:*

  1. Click the book cover or link below to go to the Giveaway.
  2. Sign into your Amazon.com account (if not already signed in).
  3. Click the button that says “Enter.”

That’s it! You’re entered.

Housefly

Blurb:

Anders sacrificed his own promising future to save the life of child. Now he must decide whether to cling to the unlikely hope of regaining his old status, or spend his time making the most of the life fate dealt him. Though difficult to let go of rewards once promised, perhaps the greatest rewards are those earned by building new hope from the bits and pieces of wrecked dreams. A Housefly in Autumn is a historical novel intended for Young Adults and up.

Giveaway link: https://giveaway.amazon.com/p/a357b4fdf7d1b012

After December 27, Amazon will draw two random winners from the pool of entrants and ship the books directly to them.

Here’s the really cool part. I’ve made the Giveaway private, so only people who follow the link can enter. Since I’d like visitors to my blog to have a good chance to win, this is the only place I’m posting the link. You can share the link, or this entire post, or keep it to yourself. That’s up to you.

*The not so really cool part is that according Amazon’s rules, this Giveaway is limited to U.S. entrants. I apologize to my international friends. I would love to be able to include everyone, but apparently Amazon.com doesn’t cover the globe quite like Santa does.

Merry Christmas and good luck.

Now, if you really just wanted to see a picture of us putting up the tree, I’ve got you covered too.

Happy Holidays!

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The price of too much free stuff

Driving home at night. It’s not completely dark because the five-year-old is playing with a flashlight. Every 30 seconds, I see police lights in the rear-view mirror. I wonder what I did wrong, until I realize it’s just that damned flashlight. But he really wants to see it, and promises he won’t shine it upwards anymore.

It’s loud in the car. The one-year-old is crying his most desperate cry – the one he reserves only for emergencies like wanting breakfast, not wanting his diaper changed, wanting the toy his brother has, or not wanting to ride in the car right now. It was a struggle getting him into the car seat. He stiffened himself, ramrod straight, because they can’t fit you into your car seat if you don’t bend in the middle. He has strong abs for a pipsqueak. Mommy is sitting in back, trying to console him. He won’t be consoled.

It’s raining. Not a steady, windshield-cleansing rain. It’s that fine drizzle that clings to the greasy film of life outside the glass. Those name-brand wipers that cost double, but were worth the price of protecting the family, excel at smearing nature’s spittle and assorted bug innards across my view. Despite his promises, Flashlight Boy finds the perfect angle to play a beam of light off the rear view mirror. Retinas spin cartwheels.

This blind and deaf moment was an entire day in the making. It’s the cost of hitting every free event in town in a single day.

It started at the Home Depot kids workshop, building a kit plane. They give the kids aprons and access to lots of paint. The person next to a kid with a paint brush needs the apron more, but parents are left to fend off wayward strokes on their own.

Painting the plane

A five-year-old and paint – a dangerous combination.

Painting th wing

A one-year-old and paint – sheer madness!

There’s no time to let the paint dry before the firefighters’ exhibition. Nobody with a big, red truck that shoots water needs a bounce house to attract children, but firemen often add this overkill anyway. They set a simulated room on fire. The one-year-old wants to help them put it out. He wants this more than popcorn or chips or fruit punch, which means he wants it a lot. He kicks and screams when Daddy holds him back from his heroic intentions.

simulated fire

Getting ready to put out the fire, all by themselves.

Then, it’s off to the inter-squad game of the university hockey team. Inter-squad exhibitions always run too long, even without hungry kids. Even the Zamboni loses its mystique after the second period.

Dinner isn’t free, but it’s pretty cheap in the university cafeterias. At one of the remodeled halls, it’s also one of the better meals in town. It’s like Disney World, for pennies on the dollar. Food revives the kids just enough to keep them from sleeping peacefully on the ride home.

And that’s the problem. I drive by memory until my pupils stabilize. Mommy confiscates the flashlight and we make it home safe. Four people trudge into the house, all of them cranky. It must have been a fun day.