Goodnight, Sweet Oreo <3

I have been dreading writing this post, but I must share it with you, dear readers, because it’s a huge part of my life.

Our darling Oreo passed over the Rainbow Bridge 12 days ago. He had heart disease and lymphoma that led to a sudden, fated eventuality. He has found peace, and we’re trying to find some, too.

We are heartbroken, but we are finding comfort in the MANY beautiful memories he gave us. He inspired love and joy in so many, and I think that’s how we should remember him. I think he still has that job.

We’ve been looking at the thousands of photos he graciously let us take, putting them in frames on our walls, re-ingraining them in our minds. From the first to the last, he was always precious and lovable.

The day after we brought him home ❤

The night before we had to say goodbye ❤

His many of his fans around the world (!) have sent us condolences, memories of him, and keepsakes that have given us comfort, too. For animal lovers, these babies are more like family members than “pets.” I am forever grateful for the supportive guinea pig devotee community that has shared love and grief with us.

The crematorium made each of my family members a set of footprints from Oreo. What a treasure. ❤

Thank you so much to MJ from Caden’s Corner for making this beautiful, perfect painted rock model of Oreo, pictured here with his long-distance girlfriend, Patrice from Australia.

Thanks to the many posts in tribute to Oreo, including this one from his best friend, Erik, the Special One in France:

It hasn’t been an easy time for us, but the pain is worth the enormous love and joy Oreo gave to us. He taught us patience, unconditional love, and strength. Rest well, my darling baby boy, and may you be popcorning in happiness over the Rainbow Bridge with Chad. See you again someday, my angel. ❤

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Happy Mother’s Day!

Happy Mother’s Day to all mother figures out there–biological and adoptive moms; teachers/counselors; fur-baby-moms (me!); and anyone who’s ever loved someone in a nurturing way.

I’d like to wish a special Mother’s Day to my own mom. I’m blessed to have such a strong, loving, kind role model in my life, let alone to call her my mother. She’s always taught my sister and me that we should reach for our dreams and determine our own lives, never letting someone or something else hold us back. More than anyone else, she’s taught me how to treat others with kindness, even if it’s difficult. (Please read this poem for one of my defining memories with my mother from childhood.) Over the years, my mom has never stopped being my mother, but now I’m lucky to call her my friend, too.

Here are a couple of pictures from about a month ago, when my mom and I went to the Chicago Flower and Garden Show together. Gardening is something we’ve dabbled with (her, much more than me!) together since I was little. We had so much fun learning about pollination and edible gardens, but what was most fun was the time we spent together. 🙂 ❤

I am also blessed to be a mom to this precious baby:

Cuddle time with Oreo ❤

and this one in Heaven:

Smooches with Chad ❤

Our Mother’s Day this year was pretty laid-back. My mom is an AMAZING cook, but today, she got a break from the kitchen, as the rest of us pitched in for meals. 🙂 We enjoyed spending time together; giving cards and gifts; and watching some Game of Thrones. Jennifer and I have a pedicure booked for our mom next week, when salons will be a bit less crazy, hopefully. 😉

Also, something I’ve been aware of this year especially is that this can be a hard holiday for some people. A radio station posted this on Facebook, and I think it expresses sympathy and comfort perfectly:

And finally, to end this on an upbeat note…Buzzfeed posted this excellent list of “19 Badass Literary Mothers Who Need to be Celebrated.” Well, the title pretty much sums it up–and I must say, I agree with as much of the list as I’m familiar with–and like yesterday’s list, it’s added more to my ever-growing “To Be Read” list. 🙂 Molly Weasley of Harry Potter and Catelyn Stark of Game of Thrones top the list–check it out!

Happy March!

Just a quick post to say “Happy March!” to you, dear readers!

Jell-Jell’s outfit has been changed accordingly, thanks to Jennifer (see sidebar, but also):

I’m so excited it’s March, because that means winter’s almost over. Of course, this weekend has been full of bitter cold, but not for long! Oreo says he saw some green today, and he wanted to share his discovery with you.

What does March mean to you, dear readers? Here’s to hoping it’s full of luck and green for all of us. 🙂

Happy Valentine’s Day from Oreo and Chad

Happy Valentine’s Day from two precious piggies. Who needs cherubs, when you have these cuties?

The valentine I made for Jennifer. Oreo is very affectionate! ❤

Oreo is getting some Valentine’s snuggles in with my mom. 🙂

So much snuggling can make even the most loving piggy snoozy…

Love was often on Chad’s mind; he enjoyed cuddles. (RIP Chad. <3)

Happy Valentine’s Day to you, dear readers! 

Merry Christmas from Piggies Past and Present

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to you, dear readers! I hope you have a chance to relax and enjoy the holidays with loved ones.

While I did have to work today, it ended up being pretty fun, culminating in a gorgeous Christmas Eve Mass with my family at the chapel where I work.

The holiday season has been an absolute whirlwind of fun, but exhausting activity! Come to think of it, life has been a whirlwind lately, too, a mix of good and…well, difficult. More on that in my upcoming year-end reflection.

I’m looking forward to pajamas, egg nog bread pudding, present exchange, carols, and cuddles!

Speaking of cuddles–the holidays are an especially great time for that. Here are two Christmas cuties of past and present.

Our first guinea pig, Chad, is officially a Christmas angel now, whom we feel with us all-year-round. ❤

Photo: Merry Christmas! I asked Santa for a fun towel path I can run on to my heart's content. I also hope I find some Orchard Grass in my stocking! What did you ask for this year? :)

Oreo, our present guinea pig, is also a lovebug. ❤

Merry Christmas to all, and to all, a good night!

Top Ten Tuesday: 13 Worst Things That Can Happen While You’re Reading

Happy Tuesday night, readers! Because our weekend energy has officially worn off, but our love for reading can never be quenched (even with book reviews like the one I did yesterday–check it out if you haven’t), Bad Things are more prone to happen whilst we read than on the weekends.

I thought this list by Doubleday on Buzzfeed did a perfectly hilarious job of illustrating this concept. I think we readers can relate to most of these, although perhaps in less dramatic ways (only slightly less, for #1). [My personal thoughts are interjected in pink in brackets.]

1. You spill your coffee.

13 Worst Things That Can Happen While You're Reading

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[Seriously. I have a reputation at work, even with my “spill-proof” mug.]

2. Your subway car gets crowded.

Your subway car gets crowded.

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[Hopefully, someone has text on the back of his/her shirt around you to tide you over, trite or vulgar as it may be.]

3. You still have to go to work or school.

13 Worst Things That Can Happen While You're Reading

Even though you JUST GOT TO THE BEST PART!
[Seriously. Book hangover? Sometimes, I walk into work with a British accent from an audiobook and catch it just in time–so far.]

4. Your favorite character dies.

13 Worst Things That Can Happen While You're Reading

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[This is terrible. I need at least 10 minutes by myself to collect myself, and even then, only pictures of Oreo keep my chin up.]

5. Your bookmark falls out.

13 Worst Things That Can Happen While You're Reading

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[The worst! I NEVER fold corners, though I know I’m unusual on this one.]

6. Your favorite author’s new book is a total flop.

13 Worst Things That Can Happen While You're Reading

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[
Even the best of us writers need an editor who will stand up to us…]

7. You have to go to the bathroom…

13 Worst Things That Can Happen While You're Reading

and you’re in public so you can’t take the book with you.
[eBooks on a mobile phone? Just saying. Don’t sweat it, Ralphie.]

8. Papercuts

Papercuts

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[
Battle scars, my friend.]

9. You Discover A Missing Page

13 Worst Things That Can Happen While You're Reading

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[
Or a scratched audiobook disc that NO ONE saw fit to mention in the “damage report” to the library…really guys, where were you raised?! When this happens to me, I can’t move on without finding an unabridged copy. You might miss the best part!!]

10. Someone tells you the surprise twist ending.

13 Worst Things That Can Happen While You're Reading

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[
I get really emotional about this. I literally scream “NO!” at least once, usually three times, and stomp around (right, Jennifer? <3). What has been spoiled cannot be unspoiled. It’s kind of like if a fortune teller told you how you’d die without your asking.]

11. You start to get car sick on a long trip.

13 Worst Things That Can Happen While You're Reading

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[Also terrible, unless you’re alone, in which case–audiobooks!]

12. You left your book somewhere.

13 Worst Things That Can Happen While You're Reading

[Or it happens three or four times with the same book (1984), and you resign yourself to never finishing it. You can’t bear to be the executor of such mistreatment.]

13. You have to wait for your friends to finish a book so you can FINALLY talk about it

13 Worst Things That Can Happen While You're Reading

[Yes! Although, I’m guilty of this, too. Jessie has been begging us both to read Allegiant, and I know it’s torturing her…sorry, dear. ❤ I have such a long TBR list!! She’s a voracious reader, even during a full-time college schedule, and she outpaces me every time! A good one to have on my reading superhero team. 😉
Sometimes, when I’m waiting for someone to read a book, I even have to ask the friend to summarize plots again for me by the time s/he gets around to it, since my mind is already deep into another book.
But, one of the many wonders of the internet, and WordPress especially, is that it is a ready huge network of fans of every book imaginable.]

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I hope your week is full of lovely reading and minimal disasters, dear readers! Join me this Thursday for a special reflective post on my 7th anniversary of a miracle that changed my life forever–the day that started a journey of not only surviving my traumatic brain injury, but also learning about true strength and love. I promise it will be a happy post. 🙂

David Litwack Novel Publicity Blog Tour Day 4–”There Comes a Prophet” Excerpt

Good evening, readers! Today marks day four of David Litwack’s whirlwind blog tour for Novel Publicity. Much of my day was spent with this little cutie-pie, while we read Litwack’s first novel, There Comes a Prophet together. It’s easy to lose track of time with an adorable cuddle buddy like Oreo, especially when paired with a good book.

Oreo makes a fabulous reading companion and doubles as a hand-warmer. ❤

The book is really interesting, and I am finishing it up in order to write a review for it, which I will post tomorrow, the last day of the blog tour.

There Comes a Prophet is David Litwack’s debut novel, a dark dystopia set in a harsh alternate world, starring three brave teenagers.

Today, I will be posting a few excerpts from this book. They all represent different important aspects of this world. The second excerpt is my personal favorite; I found it really dark and creepy. I think the author did a good job of writing a torture scene in a somber, concrete way, without being gruesome. I sympathized so much for the character, and yet, with that guilty bystander effect inherent to readers, I kept rereading that part to absorb the scene–fascinated and horrified at the same time.

I hope you enjoy these excerpts. Visit my blog tomorrow for my review of the book. 🙂

Excerpt from There Comes a Prophet

Please enjoy this series of excerpts from the deep, dark dystopia, There Comes a Prophet, by David Litwack. Then read on to learn how you can win huge prizes as part of this blog tour, including a Kindle Fire, $650 in Amazon gift cards, and 5 autographed copies of each book.

1: The Longing

“Is this what you want me to do, Orah, run like a coward?”

“Not to run, but to be careful, especially with the vicar so near.”

“Only one in three are taken.”

“It’s not worth the risk, Nathaniel. Or have you forgotten the look of those who have been taught? The far off stare, the dreams seemingly ripped away.”

Dreams ripped away. What good were dreams if they stayed unfulfilled? Since coming of age the month before, Nathaniel had brooded on one thought — life was passing him by.

2: The Teaching

Thomas stared out, trying to see to the opposite wall. It had to be close, because he could feel his boots pressing against it. But try as he would, he couldn’t penetrate the darkness. There was no glimmer to help, only the darkest dark he’d ever known. No moon, no stars, no hint of light. A dark to haunt one’s dreams.

Sometimes, he’d startle to the grating of the ceiling cover being removed. Light would pour into the room, flooding him with exhilaration…He’d stand, stretch his stiff limbs and look into the plump faces of the vicars surrounding him, seniors all with their decorated hats. They, in turn, would look down on him sympathetically before beginning a litany of the horrors of the darkness…

3: The Secret 

Nathaniel had forgotten his dilemma. The idea of the keep had awakened something in him he thought he’d lost forever.

“But who’ll solve the puzzle?”

“The founders of the keep believed a new generation would arise that would seek the truth at all costs, even at the risk of their lives. Some few from that generation would take the lead. These would be called seekers, and their task would be to solve the puzzle and rediscover the keep.”

“But what’s in the keep?”

“The chain started so long ago, Nathaniel. Even the keepers don’t know any more. The keep may not even exist.”

“Ancient magic?”

“More. Something the Temple fears. Something that might change the world.”

Nathaniel’s hands were shaking. I’d be a seeker if I could.

Watchtower Tour BadgeAs part of this special promotional extravaganza sponsored by Novel Publicity, both Along the Watchtower and There Comes a Prophet by David Litwack are on sale this week. What’s more, by purchasing either or both of these fantastic books at an incredibly low price, you can enter to win many awesome prizes.

The prizes include a Kindle Fire, $650 in Amazon gift cards, and 5 autographed copies of each book.

All the info you need to win one of these amazing prizes is RIGHT HERE. Remember, winning is as easy as clicking a button or leaving a blog comment–easy to enter; easy to win!

To win the prizes:

  1. Pick up Along the Watchtower at its discounted price of $2.99 on Amazon
  2. Get There Comes a Prophet at its discounted price of 99 cents
  3. Enter the Rafflecopter contest below
  4. Visit the featured social media events
  5. Leave a comment on my blog for a chance at a $100 prize.

Along the Watchtower tells of a tragic warrior lost in two worlds; a woman who may be his only way back from Hell. Get it on AmazonBarnes & Noble, or iTunes.

There Comes a Prophet A thousand years ago the Darkness came—a time of violence and social collapse. Nathaniel has grown up in their world of limits, longing for something more. For what are we without dreams? Get it on AmazonBarnes & Noble, or iTunes.

David Litwack, the once and future writer, explores the blurry line between reality and the fantastic. Visit David on his websiteTwitterFacebook, or GoodReads.