Kathleen O'Brien
Kathleen O'Brien


Birthdays, family, favorite things, giveaway, Jaunty Post, Kathleen O'Brien

birthday card

One of my most-enjoyed morning rituals is sending good wishes to my Facebook friends who are having a birthday today.  Some I know well, in Real Life.  Others I have met only online, but have come to cherish as friends.  But many are still essentially just strangers who share my interest in reading and writing.

When I was younger, I might not have reached out to that last group at all.  Whether it was a birthday or a wedding or a death in their family, I felt oddly silly offering my good thoughts to people who might look at my message and think, “HUH?  Who is she?  Why do I care what this stranger thinks?”

 But all that changed the first time I had a real, up-close tragedy in my own life.  My sister’s husband died, and our whole family was pole-axed with grief…for him, and for her.

 comforter card

A flood of affection and good wishes poured in, and you know what?  Never once did I look at a card or a bouquet and think, “HUH?  Who is that?  Why do I care what this stranger thinks?”

 Far from it.  I was deeply grateful for the generous impulse that had led that person to reach out and try to comfort us.  I was moved by the intense, new awareness that, when it came to heartbreak, we were all the same.  The person behind the card might not have known my brother-in-law, or even my sister, but they knew grief.  And they wanted to help.

just for you card

So now I don’t think twice.  I just extend my wishes for happiness, for health, for an easing of pain, for a new home, a new baby, a new job…whatever is needed.  Because while I don’t know that person very well, I do know we’re all essentially just human beings trying to find joy in lives that can sometimes be very tough.  And I want to help.

congratulations card 

How about you?  Do you feel silly reaching out to people you don’t know very well, especially now that the internet has made the world so much smaller?  Do you enjoy getting birthday or get-well wishes from Facebook friends who aren’t necessarily Real Life friends?

I’m giving away a $10 Amazon gift certificate to one randomly chosen poster today, so I hope you’ll take a minute to share your thoughts.  

Robyn DeHart
Robyn DeHart


family, Robyn DeHart

, , , ,

I suspect there are lots of great moms out there, I’ve met many of them, but I dare say you won’t find one better than my mom. She’s great for many reasons, but one of the main ones is because she’s just plain fun to be around. We tease a lot that our antics, which have often involved my sister as well, are very much like Lucy and Ethel from I Love Lucy. Someday I’ll tell y’all about my mom vs. the bus when we were traveling in London. And someday I’ll tell y’all about her very bad idea involving Ben-Gay. But today I want to tell you about her most recent chuckle-inducing behavior.

A couple of summers ago, I was having some medical issues that required weekly visits to the specialist. My mom came with me to those visits because The Professor was teaching summer school. On one such day we’d left the appointment with some bad news and I was tired and upset and hungry because I hadn’t been able to eat breakfast that day. So we stopped at the first place we saw, which happened to be a McDonalds. We went through the drive-thru and as I was driving around she informed she had to go to the bathroom, so I parked and waited. I was halfway into my Egg McMuffin when I saw her walk to the driver side of the car and then she proceeded to get into the car parked next to us. I was trying to honk and bang on the window to get her attention, but luckily the poor girl sitting in that car (whom she scared half to death) assured her that she was in the wrong vehicle.

Eight days later we were out running errands and we left the store and I was walking to the car and was talking to her, turned around and couldn’t find her. I looked around and called out because I was concerned she might have fallen, but nope, she got in someone else’s car again. And before you think she’s suffering from dementia, she’s not, she’s sharp as a tack. I think it’s mostly that she’s terrible with car descriptions. Both of the vehicles she got in were small SUV’s like mine, but neither were a Honda and neither were blue. And she’s actually done this before…

Several years ago (before I was even married) we had stopped at the small grocery store on the way home and I was driving her car. She had gone into the store and I waited outside. Out of nowhere an intense rainstorm started and by the time she came out it was pouring and when I say pouring, I mean like crazy, fat drops drenching the ground. In any case she came out of the store and proceeded to go to another vehicle even though I was honking trying to get her attention though admittedly I was laughing hysterically too as she actually pounded on the window of the other car. She finally found me, but she looked like a severely wet and irritated cat by the time she got in with me.

So there you go, some of my mom’s funniest moments. There are more, I assure you. So how about you? Have you ever gotten in the wrong car before? Or what’s the funniest thing that’s happened to you lately?

Kathleen O'Brien
Kathleen O'Brien


Christmas, family, giveaway, Jaunty Post, Kathleen O'Brien

puppy in christmas lights

I have a cold.

Now, that probably doesn’t sound like the end of the world, but to me, at this time of year, it practically is. Ever since we married, His Highness and I have always, always hosted Christmas dinner for the family, and it’s an honor I cherish highly.  I’m not much of a cook, but I know what my brood’s special favorites are, and I have found great recipes easy enough even for me.

The whole overblown procedure is exhausting, but I love it.  I adore pulling out my grandmother’s china, polishing my mother’s silver, and browsing Pinterest for some new centerpiece fun.  I cherish the ritual of gathering my “kids” and their spouses around me for a long, far-too-starchy meal that starts with laughter and ends with groans about how someone should call an ambulance.

Christmas 2013 dining room candlesticks

christmas table 2013

But this morning, as I scurried around the house coughing like a tubercular Victorian, His Highness broke it to me.  No one would want to eat anything I cooked.  The show could not go on.

Dog covering nose

This is only the second year in all our decades together that I’ll be unable to perform my beloved role.  About fifteen years ago, I got a 24-hour stomach flu Christmas morning, and we all ended up eating at Denny’s.  I was so scarred by that experience I swore I’d never let it happen again, no matter what it took.  Consequently, during the month of December, my hands are always slightly dry and chafed from compulsive washing away of other people’s germs.

I even turned down a Girls Weekend Out with an old friend last week, because she reported she was just getting over a cold. That’s how determined I have been to avoid letting down the team.  

And even so…here I am.

But this year the “kids” aren’t kids anymore, and they rallied with so much easy generosity I could hardly believe it.  They offered to cook all the sides at their homes and bring here, or bring ingredients and cook here. His Highness even stood in line at Honeybaked Ham to make sure the few meat-eaters in my clan have a main dish.  My texts rang out all day long, with offers to shop, wrap, deliver, whatever I needed.

Renie at Christmas by tree

It seems like only yesterday, they looked about this old…and took the Christmas feast as much for granted as they took the Christmas presents.  But somewhere along the way, those darling, adored kids turned into beautiful, thoughtful, giving adults.  I can hardly believe it–but behind this soggy tissue I’m smiling and swelling with pride.  Okay, congestion, too, but mostly pride. ;-)

Now, don’t get me wrong.  I’d rather be well.  But it’s so touching, so gratifying to see their smiling faces, to receive their silly, ungrudging offers, and to know that the ritual Christmas magic no longer depends on one tired, germ-phobic Mom.  It’s bigger than I am…bigger than any one of us.  

And that’s the best gift of all.

Pictures of Vintage Real Santa Claus carrying gift sack

How about you?  Have you ever found yourself sick at the worst possible moment?  To thank those of you who stop by and comment today, when I know how busy everyone must be, I’ll be giving away a $10 Amazon gift certificate to one randomly chosen commenter!




Nancy Robards Thompson
Nancy Robards Thompson


Christmas, deadlines, family, Nancy Robards Thompson


I’m taking a break to celebrate the holidays with my family. So, I’m sharing a blog that originally ran in 2012. I tweaked it just a bit to reflect what’s happening right now, but the message is timeless. Happy holidays, everyone! 


We have nine days until Christmas. Where has the time gone?  Is it just me, or has this year flown by? It feels like it shouldn’t even be Halloween yet. Probably because Halloween came and went without even a carved jack-o-lantern or toasted pumpkinseed in our household (and I love toasted pumpkin seeds…). Halloween was preempted by deadlines and obligation. There was just no time. Missing that, we held on tight as we careened into November, which is birthday season in our family; then the birthdays gave way to Thanksgiving. Now, here we are sprinting toward the end of another year.

I realized the other day, I need to slow down and smell the Christmas cookies. Actually, I need to make time to bake some. I need to make time to enjoy my family and the meaning of the season before it’s over and we’re halfway through next year.

It’s time to take a deep breath and live in the moment.

I’m reading a great book called Ten Zen Seconds by Eric Maisel. Chapter nine, Embracing The Moment, really spoke to me. It’s about the difference between “passing the time” (or in my case, racing through it) and “being present.” Living in the moment. It’s really given me pause and made me think. 

How is it that we get so busy that we don’t have time to enjoy life? We get so caught up in planning and scheduling and racing from one thing to the next that we neglect to live. Events that are supposed to be fun and memorable become burdens or worse yet, they slip by because we don’t have time or we’re present in body, but not in spirit as our mind wanders, planning what’s next .

 The commitments and obligations won’t evaporate – and the truth is, we probably don’t want most of them to go away. I just finished back-to-back deadlines (and thank goodness for book contracts!). I’ve barely made a dent in my Christmas list (probably good for the budget). My daughter just got home from college and my father just returned for the holidays (one of the most important events I’ve been anticipating all year. I don’t want to take for granted a single moment with my family). I am determined to slow down and savor the rest of the month.

What’s your best tip for enjoying the spirit of the season? How do you keep up with family, friends, work, housework, decorating and all those holiday concerts, pageants, and parties and keep your sanity? How do you live in the moment during the holidays? 


Shana Galen
Shana Galen


Bring a Friend Friday, family, Holidays, Jaunty Guests

Kieran Kramer


I must be a New Englander at heart even though I’ve spent my whole life (just about) in the South! I love the spare. I revel in bleak. Give me a muted winter landscape.

 I’m moved by beauty that’s not obvious.


Kieran might not have a snowy landscape to admire, but she really appreciates the spare beauty of her parents’ Lowcountry dock in wintertime.


One of my favorite books is the young adult novel A DAY NO PIGS WOULD DIE, which I just re-read and cried copious tears over. I know. If that title were a flower, it would be a dried up thistle, not a lush rose. Who wants to read a book with the word PIGS and DIE in the title?

It’s about a Quaker boy in Vermont. It’s short, and it’s plain. It’s also full of everything that life is about: the hurt, the glory, the joy, the sorrow.

So cue “Happy” by Pharrell Williams. Or “All About That Bass.” Here comes Kieran–the lover of bare-boned anything–who actually talks a lot, dances a lot, and writes a lot, especially fun, light romances.

It’s an odd dichotomy—being a writer of the quirky and colorful yet a fan of the plain–except that I have figured something out about people who appreciate the stark.  We usually have a strong sense of humor.


I think it’s because we’re attuned to the ironic. Whatever the surface says, we see more layers: life in all its multifaceted dimensions. You can either laugh or cry about that. I often go off in poignant directions in my stories, but always, always, I come back to laughter. To joy.


Kieran and her sisters

I know where my fascination with irony came from: my late sister was profoundly mentally and physically challenged. She couldn’t sing, she couldn’t dance, she couldn’t write. She couldn’t understand a word I said. Yet she was capable of changing everyone around her for the better. A defenseless girl—a plain girl–had real influence.

That pretty much epitomizes the Christmas season for me. Vulnerability coupled with power in a run-down stable. Bare beauty cradling hope.

And so my love of winter landscapes—and laughter.

Kieran koozie

What says Christmas to you? One person (US/Canada only) who comments will win a copy of Kieran’s YOU’RE SO FINE (print or digital–winner’s choice) and a Love Changes Everything koozie. Winner chosen randomly and announced Sunday.

Kieran's book cover Shalvis quote


Kieran and her family


I wish you abundant smiles this holiday season.


Keep in contact through the following social networks or via RSS feed:

  • Follow on Facebook
  • Follow on Twitter
  • Subscribe