Kathleen O'Brien
Kathleen O'Brien


family, favorite things, Games, Jaunty Post, Kathleen O'Brien

When our family gets together, we almost always play games.  Word games. Board games. Charades. Bingo. Hangman.  In a pinch, rock-paper-scissors. There is no game we won’t try.

 Once, Boychild created a personalized video game for us to play at St. Patrick’s Day–impressive!  And once, when we got together for a Game of Thrones viewing party, Girlchild made a cake with a hand-drawn map of Westeros on it. Everyone had to identify a location where something important had happened and plant the correct sigil there. (Luckily, we got to eat cake win or lose, because I’m terrible at maps.)

map of westeros cake with sigils


On Oscar night, we always play family-specific Bingo cards.  One year, when Boychild unexpectedly couldn’t be with us, he knew that I’d included a square that said, “Boychild says an actress is smoking hot.”  About halfway through the show, he called me on my cell just to say, “Hey, Mom…did I ever tell you that Angelina Jolie is smoking hot?”

And on almost every birthday, we play some trivia game about the honoree, like the ones below:

Who was Girlchild’s first love?

 1)   Georgie

2)   Freddie

3)   John

4)   JR Ewing

 (Just for the record, though they were all her “boyfriends” by the time she was in nursery school, the correct answer is #4.  Age about two and a half, she would literally kiss the TV screen when JR showed up on the Dallas reruns.)

When there’s no time to make our own, I have a closet full of great board games to fall back on.

stack of games 1 

These are my three favorites:

1)   Cranium.  It’s a standard, but you can’t go wrong.  There’s something for every talent. For instance, I might shine at word challenges (though, annoyingly, I often don’t), but I’m going to fail miserably at the art tasks. where my daughter-in-law will clean up.

2)   Dixit. This is an oddball little game we’ve learned to adore.  It comes with a set of slightly surreal picture-cards, which are dealt to the players. When it’s your turn, you think of a short phrase or word clue for the card you’re going to use.  Then, everyone else has to pick a card out of his own hand that could represent that phrase. All the chosen cards are shuffled and laid out anonymously, and everyone guesses which was the original card that inspired the phrase.  You’re hoping you’ll fool people into choosing yours.  It’s super simple but surprisingly creative and fun. (The set below all represented the word “threshold.” Can you guess which was the real card?)

Dixit threshhold clue 

3)   I Think You Think I ThinkNothing is simple about this game. You answer questions like, “If you had to play a professional sport, would it be football, baseball, or soccer?”  You answer privately, and everyone guesses what you said. Then you have to lay bets about who, if anyone, will have guessed right, while they’re laying bets based on how confident they are about their guess.  (Confused yet?)  Use this game with care, because along the way you’re likely to learn what people really think about you.  Once, when playing with Girlchild and her friends, I answered “football” on that question, and the little girls were shocked.  “But…,” one protested, confused.  “I was sure you’d think football was vulgar!” 

LOL…that’s when I learned they thought I was super-prissy. :)  And another fun but dangerous element of this game–you’ll learn who really “gets” you, and it’s not always who you think!

I think you think pic 

Ironically, though we are compulsive about playing games, none of us really cares about winning.  In fact, we often get caught throwing the game if we think we’re too far ahead.  We just want to keep playing.

 What’s your favorite party game?  Is your group into games? Have you ever played any of my top three?  I’ve got a $10 Amazon gift certificate for one randomly chosen commenter today, so I hope you’ll play. :)


Nancy Robards Thompson
Nancy Robards Thompson


family, Nancy Robards Thompson

 family tree

My father just returned from a road trip back to the town where he was born and raised. He spent a good portion of his time talking to relatives and visiting cemeteries to gather information that will help him trace our family tree.  His research has me thinking a lot about where our people come from. I’ve always wanted to know our ancestry, but I’ve never done much toward that end (in all my spare time ;) ). Having heard some of the information my dad gleaned on his trip, I’m eager for him to keep digging and find out more. Could our roots stretch all the way back to France? Maybe that would explain why I’m such a Francophile.   

 Several years before my maternal grandmother passed away, I asked her to write down the birth and deaths dates of as many relatives a she could remember. But even she could only recall four or five generations. Someday, I will use the information my grandma left me and find out where that sinde of the family originated. I wish I could do it now, and I wish I had time to help my dad trace his side of the family, but since I don’t, I’ll cheer him on as he solves the puzzle of our past.  

Have you ever traced your family tree or do you know of anyone who has? Any interesting findings?  Any good tips on how to start the process and what to expect along the way?


My Fair Fortune3Nancy’s current release, MY FAIR FORTUNE, book five in the 2015 Fortunes of Texas series, is available in Mass Market Paperback  and   E-book 


RT Book Reviews gives MY FAIR FORTUNE  4 stars and says:

…Thompson shows us what happens when you pair up a Chicago zoologist and a workaholic  Brit in a small Texas town, and it’s quite funny. Her depiction of the tight knit community and family dysfunction was impressive, plus she gives us enough of a series catch up for this to stand alone as well.


In the business world, Brodie Fortune Hayes is known as a man of no mercy. The all-work, no-play PR consultant is sure he’ll have no trouble correcting the image problems plaguing the Cowboy Country theme park. There’s just one complication: the green-eyed beauty sitting behind the boss’s desk who makes his pulse race like a roller coaster!

Caitlyn Moore never imagined working side by side with Brodie after sharing a most out-of-character night of passion with him a few months before! And now, thanks to her dad’s absence-by-illness, she’s his boss? Brodie’s bottom-line mentality is as infuriating as his blue bedroom eyes are intoxicating—but Cait is convinced that there’s a heart lurking beneath his designer armor. Perhaps she can prove to him that love is the greatest Fortune of all…


Kathleen O'Brien
Kathleen O'Brien


children, Dreams, family, giveaway, Jaunty Post, Kathleen O'Brien, Superromance

I’ve always had an exciting nightlife.

Yeah, says anyone who knows me.  In your dreams.

Well, exactly.  That’s what I mean.  In my dreams.

The beauty in dreams

As long as I can remember, I’ve had vivid and detailed dreams. Sometimes they’re nightmares, but just as often they’re fun or silly, poignant or downright weird.  And they seem so real.  A terrible nightmare can hang over me for hours, leaving me with a lingering fragility all morning. A happy dream, in which I revisit a place or a person long lost to me, can warm my heart and start my day with a smile.

When His Highness and I got married, he was a little unnerved to discover how powerful my dreams were—and how frequent.  You see, he insists he doesn’t dream at all, and he’s quite sure that, if he did, the dreams would never affect him after he woke.  They’re not real, he reasons logically. How could they make him sad, or scared, or happy…or anything at all?

Girl Jumping in the Air

I don’t have the answer.  Maybe some chemical is released when I have a happy dream…some endorphin, some serotonin that remains in my system for a little while.  Or maybe my brain is just wired differently.  Maybe the same thing that can make me cry while reading The Lovely Bones, or jump in my seat while watching The Shining, is what makes me respond to the fictions of my dream life.

And what rotten luck for His Highness…our children inherited my nightlife, not his.  My son, especially. When Boychild was very little, his dreams felt so real he sometimes could confuse them with reality.

 Little Mike

Once, when he was in early elementary school, he complained that I hadn’t bought him that new backpack he needed.  “You didn’t ask for one,” I said.  “Yes, I did,” he insisted, bewildered and a little fussy.  “Remember?  We were with Will and his mom, at their house, and there were giraffes, and the giraffes said…”

A pause.  “Wait.  That can’t be right.” And then a sheepish smile.  “Maybe I only asked you in a dream.”

That’s my boy.  So out we went, we two dreamers, to buy a backpack with a giraffe on it.

Hungry Giraffe

How about you?  Do you dream? Have the effects ever lingered after you woke? Or do you leave it all behind when morning comes?  I’m giving away a $10 Amazon gift certificate to one randomly chosen commenter today.

just a little humorDear mom I saw at the grocery store:

I saw you there in the cold section, I was picking up yogurt for my family and you were there with your three kids – 2 in the cart and one walking beside you. Your little ones were what people affectionately call chubby, but I want you to know that cute chubbiness is going to change and what happens from there will shape your children’s lives. Your little girl, walking beside the cart, I’m guessing she was 7 or 8 and I’m sure everyone still teases her about her “baby fat” but those eating habits she has right now, they’re only going to get worse.

You see, I was that little girl the one with the baby fat. But once you hit Jr. High, no one calls it baby fat anymore. But then it’s just fat and people will still comment on it. There will be that boy who somehow gets a hold of her yearbook and writes in it cruelly, “save the whales, harpoon the fat chicks.” And there will be that girl who points and tells her that fat girls shouldn’t wear mini skirts. There will be the boy she has a crush on, the one who never looks her way and she’ll go home sad and only get sadder. And bigger.

Mom, know now that you are the one capable of changing her eating habits, of teaching her about healthy choices, fruits and vegetable and no, that doesn’t include french fries. Know that every time you offer her a candy bar or an ice cream cone when she’s sad, that only teaches her to continue to reach for those when she needs some comfort. Know that if you don’t fix it, she will have to, someday when she’s ready, if she’s ready, but that the burden of those extra pounds will cause her health problems and emotional damage that she’ll live with forever.

Mom, I know you love those kids, I could see it on your face, but I glanced in your grocery cart and honestly I don’t mean to judge, but please be careful with those choices for your babies. I know they’re kids, I know they should be able to eat fun “kid food” chips and cookies and every sugary thing in between. But they’re kids and they’ll love fruit if you give it to them, it’s sweet and natural and yes, it can be more expensive, but there is always some fruit in season or there’s frozen fruit. There are ways to do it. And you can do it!

Your window of opportunity is small, eventually this blame will leave you and fall to her. It will be her choices, those things she puts in her mouth. But right now, while she’s still little, you can  help shape her view of food and her body and her health. Right now, you still have time…


That’s what I want to tell them, every time I see moms with “chubby” kids. It hurts me. I ache for those children because I know, first hand, how horribly cruel kids can be and it only gets worse as you grow up. I hope that letter doesn’t make it sound like I blame my own mom because I most certainly do not. Things were different when I was growing up, no one knew much about nutrition in the way that we all know now. Convenience was king and still is to some degree, but we’re having a bit of a renaissance where people are getting back to growing their own food and infusing their daily food intake with more whole foods, grains, veggies and the like. We know more now. And for right now while we prepare our kids food, it is our responsibility to teach them about healthy eating. Of course that doesn’t take into consideration the picky eaters…but that is for another blog.

So do y’all ever pass someone you don’t know and want to say something to them – whether good or bad? I mean sometimes I see that frazzled mom at the store and I just want to go up to her and tell her she’s doing a great job. What do you think about the epidemic facing our kids today with the unhealthy eating and sedentary lifestyles? 


MjAxMy02MWE2NjQzMWI4NmNjZTgx You’ve probably heard of the Myers-Brigg personality assessment. If you’re a writer, I know you have. In any case there are 16 types and you can take a test, there are a slew of online ones and they tell you about your personality type. It’s just components, certainly not all inclusive. Now I say as a writer I know you’ve heard about it because us writers are pros when it comes to personality tests and we’re on a first-name basis with all our baggage. For example, I know I’m a total control-freak (also very common among writers, well and moms), I’m reluctant to try new things because I’m not sure I’ll be able to do them right (AKA perfectionist), I have serious body-image issues, and I’m bossy as hell (is that the same thing as being a control freak?)

One of the other things I know about myself, and to bring us back to the subject matter and the Myers-Brigg assessment is that I am an introvert. Now I don’t know if there are levels of introverts, but if there are, I’d think I was a Class 4 (on a scale from 1-5), nearly as introverted as one can get. This doesn’t mean I can’t function socially, but I do need my space. Which brings us to the problem with being an introverted mom. Okay so there’s probably not just one problem, but there is a significant one.

There are days when I wake up and though I might not recognize it immediately, it is a day when I need to be alone. Not simply because I need to recharge, but because if I’m around other people I tend to get snippy. I’m not in the mood to talk. At all. I just want to be inside my head and have quiet. These are the days when I’m the worst sort of mom. Most of the time I won’t even notice it until mid-afternoon and I realize I’ve been grumpy with my girls all day. I’ll try to stop and reassess the situation, think of ways I can either (a) be more patient or (b) occupy them without having to engage too much. It’s not that I want to ignore them, but as an introvert, I crave, I need, alone, quiet time in order to function properly. And sleeping doesn’t count. I need awake time to be quiet and alone.

It’s not so much that I don’t like people (though there are days…) it really just has to do with my energy level. The stuff I need to be the best me, that stuff only gets refilled during those alone moments. They’re few and far between these days. And this week, which marks the third year we’ve had our girls, I’m so thankful for my children and the family we’ve become. But I also believing knowing this about myself and taking action to make sure they aren’t the butt of my grumps, makes me a better mom.

BuzzFeed’s 31 Unmistakable Signs That You’re an Introvert


So how about you? Do you know where you are on the spectrum? Do you think your personality brings challenges to your parenting or to any of your other relationships?  

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