About Lori Sizemore

Lover of nail polish, pens, her Kindle, and fresh coffee. She likes romance filled with messy, real characters and lots of snarky banter. Reading was (and still is!) her BFF; when she discovered writing she fell in love. Come for the snark. Stay for the story.

Trimming the Tree, My Way

Last month, I talked about creating family traditions.

I think family traditions are like inside jokes. They bring us closer together and they make a shared experience more special. If I were to give any advice to people “starting out” on their life, as a parent or in a committed relationship, it would be this: start some traditions all your own.ornament 264x296

The tradition I started.

Every year (everyone does the first), I buy my girls an ornament. Sometimes it has their name or the year on it, or it’s something personal to them, or something special from the year. Sometimes, especially in the last few, I buy more than one. They’re nothing super fancy (I leave that to their great aunts, who love Hallmark ornaments).

The idea is that when they have a place, and tree, of their own, they’ll have a whole slew of their own very personal and special ornaments to decorate it with.

Of course, there’s a sad story.

I remember putting the tree up with my parents, and my mom handing us the ones we’d made in Sunday School or our favorites to hang ourselves. We never had a themed tree or special colors. It was The Family Tree, always.

We lost those ornaments in a devasting flood (I most miss a frozen juice can I’d painted bright red and hung some sort of coated wire in to make a pretty impressive bell–for a five-year-old). It became even more important to me, then, to have ornaments to pass on.

We have a lot of ornaments. 3 girls, that’s (19×1)+(16×1)+(9×1… or 2?)= A lot.

With three girls and 18 years of acquiring ornaments, you can imagine there are quite a few now. I would personally love to do one of those themed trees–all in red one year, or pinks and purples and aqua. But I can’t NOT decorate The Sizemore Family Tree. Except, last year, I didn’t.

This is the part where I went all bah-humbug.

I bought the ugliest tree in the history of the world. (It was so ugly that I can’t even find pictures of it. Christmas pictures of the kids opening gifts, sure. But no tree.) It was 4-feet tall and made entirely of a spiral wire coated in silver tinsel. I bought aqua beads and ornaments to go around it. It was hideous, but it kind of matched the Christmas spirit I seemed to have lost. On the 26th, I boxed it up, ornaments and all, and labeled it First Christmas at College for girls. Maybe they’ll pass it around for a few years. And it’ll be fun and shabby-chic for a dorm room.

But then I bounced back. And I didn’t need any dead guys with chains. Take that, Scrooge.

This year, everything’s different. I’m different. I’m a lucky chick. I have aMAZing kids. Like, so much more amazing than anyone deserves. And I’ve been married seventeen years. Even better–I still love the guy. Like, crazy-in-love, I’d-marry-him-again-tomorrow love.

I won’t say I learned to appreciate them more, because they’ve always been my lifeline. But, after a difficult year, I’ve made peace with what matters. And what doesn’t. That part isn’t even the point. The point, truly, is that my tradition made getting their ornaments this year feel like home. It didn’t matter that I’d been away… I would always be welcome.

This year, I’m putting up my brand new pre-lit, six-and-a-half foot tree (traditional green). I’m going to blare Christmas music, the ones that make me feel all mushy,  smile, and sing off-key. The Sizemore Family Tree is going to be spectacular. And there will be pictures.

So, obviously, I’m a giant sucker for family traditions and Christmas is my favorite holiday. Tell me yours!

Don’t forget.

Every comment is entered to win one of the holiday books by authors from this very blog. This means more than one winner. Is it Christmas or what?

About Lori Sizemore

Lover of nail polish, pens, her Kindle, and fresh coffee. She likes romance filled with messy, real characters and lots of snarky banter. Reading was (and still is!) her BFF; when she discovered writing she fell in love. Come for the snark. Stay for the story.

How to Create the Perfect Family Tradition

When my husband and I first married, his daughter was just a little more than one. I come from a family that got together for any occasion at all; my husband’s family did Thanksgiving and Christmas.card+envelope+vintage+old+stained+isolated

That first year together, in an attempt to maximize our time with our parents and grandparents, as well as their time with my adorable new stepdaughter, we drove for two hours to his grandmother’s, then two hours in another direction to mine, then two hours back home.

We were exhausted, the kid was cranky, and we ate way. too. much.

Clearly, we needed to reevaluate how we handled traditional family get-togethers.

Over the years, we tried alternating years, alternating holidays, and visiting on different days and even doing Thanksgiving at Cracker Barrel to be “fair.” What we refused to compromise on was spending the day, wherever we were, together. I felt very strongly that my little family (that grew by two more adorable little girls over the years) belonged together. And I started to wonder if all the running around was really what Thanksgiving was about.

Turns out, it’s not. It is, though, all about the one thing I refused to compromise on: my family.

His grandparents are gone; my grandparents are too old to entertain (or travel–they prefer to hit Bob Evans); and my stepdaughter is an adult, who has been juggling families her whole life. So, a couple of years ago, I decided we weren’t going anywhere. Anyone who wanted could come to us, but I was preparing my first Thanksgiving dinner.
And they came. My parents, my brother and his family, my stepdaughter and her boyfriend, and us. I have never been the dinner party, entertaining person. But I adore putting out a huge dinner, serving dessert and hors d’oeuvres, and planning family activities. I think what I learned, with all the traveling and the stress, was that traditions are important. But flexibility is even more important. And the people you love? Most important ingredient of all.

[cryout-multi][cryout-column width=”2/3″]Try my Allrecipes.com’s Yummy Sweet Potato Casserole that I make every year and everyone loves! (Bonus–so easy! I’m all about easy).

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Photo from Allrecipes.com.

[/cryout-column][cryout-column width=”1/3″]Every comment is entered to win a copy of Bethanne‘s New Release from Entangled Publishing, Letters From Home, plus a $10 Amazon Gift Card.
Photo above used with permission from Pixel Perfect Digital.[/cryout-column][/cryout-multi]

About Lori Sizemore

Lover of nail polish, pens, her Kindle, and fresh coffee. She likes romance filled with messy, real characters and lots of snarky banter. Reading was (and still is!) her BFF; when she discovered writing she fell in love. Come for the snark. Stay for the story.

Boring is the New Scary

boredThis month, we’re talking about what scares us. I grew up reading whatever the adults around me laid down, and my mom was a horror buff. Stephen King, Dean Koontz, Peter Straub. The Good stuff. (Horror shout-out: Anyone else reading Doctor Sleep this month?)

Who’s a scaredy-cat? This girl.

I was never the kid not scared of anything. I was prone to night terrors and listening in the dark, long after everyone else went to bed, for creaks and whispers. Which, actually, was more of a heaping dollop of anxiety than fear.

As I got older, the things keeping me up at night stopped being faceless monsters and turned into worries like, Do we have enough in savings if something terrible happened? or How would I raise the kids alone if my husband had an accident? Scary, grown-up stuff.

What if nothing happens?

Then, after some soul-searching and crazy living, I realized my own deepest fear was being mundane. What if I never do anything magnificent? What if I never get to stand at some random podium and thank the people in my life because everyone else in the room is applauding me? Are there awards for being really good at assisting in the creation of 2nd grade science projects? I just can’t imagine that fitting on a trophy.

Am I being a total drag and ruining good-time, scary month for everyone else?

At some point, I realized the monsters are actually people and the enemy is time and maybe-tomorrow. Thing is, I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one. I have a sneaking suspicion that tons of people feel this way. They see time slipping by as nothing great happens. They wonder if they’re up to the task of… an interesting life.

Don’t get me wrong–I wouldn’t trade my kids, or my husband, or worrying about which laundry detergent gives me the best value for the world. Not even for a room full of strangers tossing roses at my feet.

It’s just… these are the things that keep me up at night. And so, I’ll read about a spunky heroine rebelling against societal norms or a recovering alcoholic defying the supernatural for a second chance at life. Because those stories, those endings and victories, make me believe.  My day will come.

How about you?

Sure, the zombie apocalypse if crazy scary, but what every day concern scares you? Don’t forget, one winner will be chosen at random this month from all the comments to win an e-copy of Sutton Fox‘s romantic suspense, Beyond the Winner’s Circle plus a $10 Amazon Gift Card!

About Lori Sizemore

Lover of nail polish, pens, her Kindle, and fresh coffee. She likes romance filled with messy, real characters and lots of snarky banter. Reading was (and still is!) her BFF; when she discovered writing she fell in love. Come for the snark. Stay for the story.

A Seasonal Effect

fall

September was always my favorite time of year. School always started on the 1st. There would be new clothes, new books at school, new pens. New teachers and new friends. Crisp autumn mornings and flaming leaves ushered it all in.

Fall meant change for me and always has. Even after I graduated from college, I would still sniff the change in the air one morning and feel hopeful suddenly. It’s become a time to begin new projects (most of which I never finish)–new blankets to crochet, new story ideas, even a new wardrobe makeover. Even though the leaves turn and float to the ground, I can’t see it as an ending, thought it’s often referred to that way metaphorically. For example, I’m nearly 40–does that mean I’m in the Autumn of my life?

Actually, that’s totally okay. I do want a new beginning. I do want to begin developing new habits. I want to eat healthier, I want to live happier, I want to see life more clearly. Maybe it means we can look at our lives and just let ourselves explode with color, begin the work that will bear fruit in the future.

What seasons affect you the most? I can’t be the only one who takes a cue from their environment. Does summer make you vow to enjoy life more? Does spring make you hopeful? Does winter make you sentimental?

Don’t forget, every comment is entered to win a $10 Amazon gift card from Julie!

About Lori Sizemore

Lover of nail polish, pens, her Kindle, and fresh coffee. She likes romance filled with messy, real characters and lots of snarky banter. Reading was (and still is!) her BFF; when she discovered writing she fell in love. Come for the snark. Stay for the story.

“Oh, the Places You’ll Go.” -Dr. Seuss

normalwvviewI live in the mountains. Actually, I live in a valley surrounded by mountains and when I was a little girl I imagined that living in a bowl would be exactly the same.

As I’ve grown older, I’ve realized that some of the sights I see every day–endless trees bursting with color, gurgling streams where rocks jut out to create the perfect sleepy fishing hole, fluttering snowflakes that settle inches thick to blanket my part of the world–are things people spend money to vacation to see.

Of course, most of us don’t appreciate what we have and long for that which is far away and exotic. I have found those places in books all my life.

The bustle of a New York city street, munching croissants in a street cafe in Paris, sloshing through the constant rain on a busy London sidewalk. I’ve been all these places and more. An Irish pub, an Italian villa, a Bahamian beach bungalow.

The thing is, it didn’t quench my desire to see these places. It only made me want more. I set the first novel I wrote in a city, a big one, and struggled to write it because I knew nothing about living in a big city. I did throw in a visit to a small town, which I think is one of the highlights of the story. I’ve since realized to write what I know; I can tell you everything about small town life. I suppose there are people out there that long to read about the simplicity and connection that comes with living in a small town.

I have hopes of being able to take some “research” trips one day. Tell me about your favorite books where the setting stood out as much as the characters.

(My first recommendation? Anything by Nora Roberts set in Ireland. Seriously, wow.)

About Lori Sizemore

Lover of nail polish, pens, her Kindle, and fresh coffee. She likes romance filled with messy, real characters and lots of snarky banter. Reading was (and still is!) her BFF; when she discovered writing she fell in love. Come for the snark. Stay for the story.

Summer Lovin’

dirtydancingI’m not exactly what you’d call the outdoors type. Let’s be honest–I’m a nerd. I’m far more likely to be stretched out in the A/C reading a book or watching a movie than engaging in any sort of physical activity.

So, when I tried to think of summer, it went something like this: Hot. Sweaty. Humid. Ugh. Wait… summer romance!

My favorite summer romance movie? Dirty Dancing! I love to watch the transformation of Baby from dork to sensual goddess. the angsty attraction she feels for Johnny turn into angsty devotion on his part as he realizes she’s out of his league (I’m sorry, I know that’s a cliche–but… it’s in the song!).

But my favorite part–the favorite part of everyone in the free world, I think–is when Johnny storms into the end-of-summer show to find Baby relegated back to the metaphorical and literal shadows where her family is most comfortable placing her. Then he stands up for her, the way she stood up for him, and says that line. The line that can turn every woman from my generation to instant jelly.

“Nobody puts Baby in a corner.”

Damn right, they don’t!

What’s your favorite summer romance story (book or movie)? (Don’t forget, every comment this month is entered to win a $5 Amazon gift card AND a FREE digital copy of Nina Croft‘s July release from Entangled, Losing Control.)

About Lori Sizemore

Lover of nail polish, pens, her Kindle, and fresh coffee. She likes romance filled with messy, real characters and lots of snarky banter. Reading was (and still is!) her BFF; when she discovered writing she fell in love. Come for the snark. Stay for the story.

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