Breathing While Playing Catch-Up

I’m trying to catch up!

But it’s not working. I’m so behind…on everything.  I have thank-you notes to write, a book to finish, packages to mail to friends and family, bathrooms to clean, exercise to do–kids, husband, parents, siblings, and friends to love.

Whenever things get this crazy, I try to slow time down by staying in the moment. I breathe. I listen to my breathing. I notice how it really does sound like the tide going in and out. And I imagine myself walking along the beach at the Isle of Palms, one of my favorite places.

It actually works. It centers me. It helps me put things into perspective. In the grand scheme of things, my “busyness” crisis is no big deal.

I know we all know about this sort of relaxation technique, but how many of us actually do it? According to the experts, if we do this every day, we’ll be doing our bodies and our minds a tremendous amount of good.

So today, think about breathing. And the rest, my friends, shall fall into place.

I’m giving away a Coach bag or a Kindle Fire–winner’s choice–on my website, along with two $50 gift cards, and 100 swag packs. It’s THE EARL IS MINE pre-order contest, and you don’t need to pre-order the book to enter!  

Kieran Kramer, Merry Mama

Hi, I’m Kieran. My family loves music and anything that makes us laugh out loud. Along with Chuck, my husband of 23 years, I try to teach our kids that we have to actively choose happiness–and if I accomplish nothing else as a mom but pass that one lesson along to them, then I think I’ve done my job.

My oldest guy, Dragon, was diagnosed in kindergarten with Asperger’s syndrome, and now he’s a junior in college; his sister Indie Girl, who’s younger by 16 months, is a college sophomore; and my youngest, Nighthawk, is in ninth grade. For our family, it’s about managing your weaknesses and wringing everything you can get out of your strengths. And along the way, finding joy.

Keeping Things Romantic

Romance is a hard thing to squeeze in around kids. And romance is my day job, so that’s saying quite a lot if I, who spends hours a day contemplating shirtless rakes and blistering love scenes, suffer from the same romance BLERGH that every parent feels.

Granted, my job helps with that. I have excuses to focus on love, and why the relationship between you and that one special person is something to be treasured.

But even romance writers get the THERE ARE CHILDREN EVERYWHERE blues. My husband and I haven’t been on a date since The Hobbit came out. Before that it was in July. I know Robyn was blogging about this the other day. I share her pain. Time alone is a luxury. And we have out special needs boy, which compounds the problem of us being able to find someone to watch our children so we can escape for a bit.

Of course, my husband and I are also both home during the day which means we DO see each other a lot, but in passing. And if he comes into the office TOO many times during an afternoon I start to get that cranky, resentful hunch at my keyboard, which lasts through out the day and is like a big neon DON’T TOUCH ME sign, I am sure.

But we all know what the obstacles are. Dirty diapers, shrieking kids, opposing schedules, etc. But what about how to combat them? I think I’m the ‘newlywed’ of the blog group, at a shy seven years (no itch, shockingly), but we’ve been through a lot of rapid life changes and challenges and we’ve always managed to come through it clinging tighter to each other.

Plus, I write romance. Trust me. 😉

This is my Maisey List of Things That Have Helped My Marriage Stay Romantic:

1. I read romance. Really, that does help. I discovered romance novels while pregnant with our 2nd child. In addition to them being sexy, that didn’t hurt, they also reminded me of why romance is so great. They made me truly appreciative of what I had in my husband, and that was a very helpful thing.

2. We laugh. About stupid things. Last night we were awake at 1:30 in the morning, cracking up over my incredibly immature jokes.

3. We are honest. He knows what’s up with me, I know what’s up with him. He knows me, more than anyone else on earth knows me. And I know him.

4. Without TMIing…we don’t let intimacy slip. We don’t do the scheduling per se, though I think that’s a great idea, but we have rules. And we follow them.

5. We get mad at each other. This took a while. We both used to hold it in because we didn’t want to have any waves or admit that we’d FAILED and disagreed. Now we just let it out and I think we’re much healthier for it. And it’s sort of a part of…

6. We share things. Bless my husband he shares technical details of music engineering that I do not understand, and I bless my heart, I will summarize a romance novel for him. Or read him an excerpt. I know neither of us REALLY get it. But we share it. And the other one at least tries to pay attention.

7. My husband is awesome.

8. We do things together. *awkward segue*

Oh look, we did this together! We combined his music (he wrote the music, the lyrics, did the recording, the engineering and played all the instruments) and a little of mine (I showed up and sang into a mic) and my romance novels and made something that I’m really proud of. One way we stay in harmony (ha) and your husband writing you a song really does help keep things romantic.

I hope you enjoy the song! And I would so appreciate if you would share your tips on how you keep things romantic in the comments. 😀

Edit to include book info: Unbuttoned is the first book in my Silver Creek series, and it’s a novella with Berkley’s new InterMix imprint! It’s out June 18th and here is the cover blurb:

Carly Denton has learned to keep her buttons and emotions firmly fastened. Her parents’ constant drama, and an unrequited crush on her brother’s best friend, taught her to keep her passion beneath the surface. But she can no longer avoid the one man with the ability to bring that passion to a boil…

Lucas remembers Carly as a freckle-faced tomboy—not a frosty woman who treats him like a burr under her saddle. But when they have to work together on a charity project, Lucas is shocked to find their bickering melt into some serious mutual attraction. He’s determined to show Carly that he’s the man for her, if only she’d learn to let loose.

Lucas is the last man on earth Carly should give in to. The freedom she finds in his arms has her feeling happier than ever, but is it enough to make her realize that the greatest risk isn’t losing your heart, but losing the chance at happiness?


Pregnant with #3… Here we go!

As many of you know (if you follow me on Facebook), I am now pregnant with #3. Some of you may think I’m insane. Some of you might be excited for me. Or, you might be like my brother, who already has 3 small children, and wish me “good luck” and lament the fact that I can’t drink. 😉

The thing is, *I* think I’m insane. But I’m also excited. Growing up as the youngest of 2 children, and my husband also being the youngest of 2 children, I always looked at my aunts and uncles on both sides, who were each part of a 4-child family, and envied their closeness. (Okay, I only envied one side; the other side is kind of crazy–let’s be honest.) There was never anyone to take my side against my brother! I always got labeled as the trouble-maker because he was perfect (although I still crow over the fact my GPA in high school was higher than his… important stuff, right? 😉 ). Anyway, my husband and I, since we’ve been married, have always talked about having 3 or 4 kids.

Also, can you believe it? This is our first current pregnancy post on Peanut Butter on the Keyboard! *cheers*

So, to catch everyone up to date (or, rather, because my pregnancy brain is all-consumed by pregnancy stuff…), here are a few fun things about this pregnancy:

1) I’ll be 12 weeks tomorrow (January 29th).

2) It’s NOT twins. Or triplets…or any other multiple set… =)

3) I’ve had this premonition for a while that if we DID have four kids, the gender pattern would be girl, girl, boy, girl. Dum dum dum…

4) We WILL be finding out the gender (we’re just not patient enough to wait!), but not at the 20 week anatomy scan. I’ll open up an envelope with the gender on either Easter or my birthday (both the week after the scan; still haven’t decided which).

5) I’m due August 13, 2013.

6) When talking about the baby, WonderGirl (2) keeps pulling up my shirt and looking at my belly and saying, “I can’t see it!” SuperGirl (3), very intelligently answers the question, “Where is the baby?” by saying, “It’s in Mommy’s uterus.” Because it’s important to be anatomically correct at any age. =)

7) When asked what she’s most excited about teaching the baby, SuperGirl said, “about Captain America.”

8) No morning sickness! Hallelujah! (Just very slight nausea sometimes.) In this case, it’s the easiest pregnancy I’ve had so far. However, the fatigue is kicking my butt up one hill and down the other. (Actually, it’s rolling me up one hill and down the other, as I’m too tired to even pretend to stand.)

9) I am already thinking about possible online nicknames for this new baby, boy or girl. So far we have SuperGirl and WonderGirl. I’m open to more superhero/heroine suggestions… You know you have ’em!

10) I am prepared to BEG all nurses, doctors, and anesthesiologists I see this time for an epidural. Because I have a genetic blood disorder, I’ve been unable to have one the last two deliveries, but I’m hoping that someone will have mercy on me this go-around and not make me become the woman who screams “I can’t do this! Help me!” again. =)

I promise I will try to write about other things beyond pregnancy for the next, oh, 7 months. However, prepare for my scintillating post sometime during the summer months about “it’s sooooo hot!”.

As you can see, the Rome family has started off the new year huge. What about you? What exciting new things are going on in your life, PBK family? Let’s celebrate! =)


I’m Elise Rome, AKA Midnight Mama because I’m usually burning the midnight oil. If SuperGirl (3, with a speech delay) and WonderGirl (2, still my very own hip attachment) aren’t getting up in the middle of the night, then I’m busy working on writing and writing-related business until morning…usually 2-5 am or so. Both my husband and I stay home with the girls (he’s a writer, too!, but usually I’m focused on them throughout the day and only get started working until after 8pm when they’re both in bed. I’m a former Texan now living in Colorado who desperately misses no-snow winters, and my parenting goal is to raise my daughters to be strong, intelligent, and independent women…much like the heroines I write, as a matter of fact. I’m a recovering perfectionist, recovering procrastinator, and perpetually aspire to keep the house clean (because it never actually is). When I’m not chasing around my daughters or adoring my cooking/cleaning/diaper-changing husband of 9 years, I write historical romances about women who fascinate me and men who somehow always remind me of Rhett Butler, the first literary hero who captured my heart.

Bring a Book Saturday–Llama Llama

Llama Llama Holiday Drama

This is a popular series, so undoubtedly many of you have heard of the Llama llama books by Anna Dewdney. We are big fans in the Galen household. We have the whole series. Each picture book follows Llama Llama, his lovey, Fuzzy Llama, and his Mama as they deal with very typical issues like being scared to go to sleep, getting cranky when shopping, sharing, missing mama at school, and more. The illustrations are gorgeous, and the books are very cute and easily accessible for 2 years old and up. I like the books because some of the humor appeals to grown ups as well as the kids.

As a bonus, a month or so ago, Baby Galen and I had the chance to meet Anna Dewdney at an event at our library. Here’s a picture of her drawing Llama Llama.

Anna Dewdney Draws

And here she is reading Llama Llama Red Pajama.

Llama Llama Red Pajama

And here she is signing baby Galen’s book. She also draws a little llama picture.


And here she is with Baby Galen.

with Baby G

Shana Galen, Multitasker Mama
I’m Shana Galen, AKA Multitasker Mama (and aren’t we all?). I’m a wife, mom to a two-year-old daughter I call Baby Galen. My parenting motto is, “Keep moving. Don’t pass out. Don’t throw up.” Or maybe that’s my fitness motto?

So it’s come to this…

232323232fp436>nu=3236>856>447>23278565383<3ot1lsiWhen The Professor started courting me, as it were, we did a myriad of things, but for the most part we usually did dinner and a movie. It suited me well because I love movies. He confessed at some point during that time that he’d never been to the theatre so much as when we were dating. But we also talked. For hours and hours we’d talk and walk around bookstores holding hands.

Then we got married. And well, our dates were quite similar though once I started writing full-time we went from two incomes to one and we’ll say a fourth to keep things nice. 🙂 So with budget concerns in mind we would do dinner or a movie or we’d order a pizza and rent movies. But we’d still walk through bookstores holding hands.

And then we became parents. I know y’all know where this is going… we had a conversation last night that went something like this:

“When was our last date?” he asked.
“Well, Thanksgiving weekend we went and bought a box spring for Busybee and stopped for milkshakes at Chick-fil-A on the way home. I think we held hands in the van,” I said.
“We saw some movies with your family at Christmas,” he said.
I open the calendar on my iPhone and search for something that might trigger a memory. “Ah, here we go, we went to a concert on October 26th.”

Okay so that was our last official date. It’s now January 24th. That’s just sad. I mean we hang out every day. Our girls go to bed early so we usually have most of the evening to ourselves, but he’s working on grades and journal articles for tenure and well, I’m always on deadline. So not a whole lot of time together without our laptops.

Date nights are important. Time alone with your spouse is crucial. But it is hard to come by when you’ve got small kids and work that never seems to end. Any great tips out there for how to make that special time?

I’m Robyn DeHart, AKA Basket-Case Mama, but not because I’m crazy (though really, what mom isn’t?) but because I have a slight obsession with baskets, well containers really. I’m a bit of an organization nut and I love to containerize stuff. And yes, I’m authorized to use words like that because I am also a writer. But back to the kids, so I’m mom to two ridiculously beautiful little girls and I can say that without bragging because I didn’t actually make them. Last year my husband, The Professor, and I adopted said little lovelies from the foster-care system here in Texas and now we’re a big happy forever family. Busybee is three and so full of joy it just oozes from her. Babybee is a walking-talking toddler who has a heck of a temper but is so cute, it almost keeps her out of trouble. Though neither of my girls are newborns, I’m fairly new to motherhood compared to the other peanut butter moms, but we’ve settled in as a family as if we’ve always been together. When I’m not trying to keep up with my two bundles of energy, you can usually find me on my laptop on Pinterest, no, that’s not right, um…you can find me writing, yes, that’s it, writing my latest historical romance.

Awkward Self-Examination

Part I — My crazy-cheap grandma

My grandmother–bless her heart–is the cheapest woman in the world. She’s one of those grew-up-during-the-great-depression types. You know the kind, right? The kind with a jar of string labeled “String too short to use” and a drawer full of used, washed, flattened aluminum foil. That’s my grandma. Even among her generation, she’s crazy-cheap. I know this because I’ve compared war-stories with lots of other people. This is a woman who monitors the use of toilet paper in her house (one square per use) and who uses the same water to boil vegetables day after day. She was buying in bulk long before it was cool. Her basement used to be full of boxes of cereal labeled things like “Post Toasties — July ’94.”

My grandmother is 95 and I feel so blessed that she’s lived this long. However (there’s always a however, isn’t there?), throughout my life, her crazy-cheapness has been a source of amusement and embarrassment and chagrin. While I love her, I’m not gonna lie. On more than one occasion, I wished I had a normal grandmother. Someone who would just bake me cookies instead of lecturing me about the value of the stamp. (Not even joking on that one.)

Part II — Yeah, I know I’m crazy

So here’s the awkward part. I’m a little crazy. Not in a cute writer way either, but in an annoying OCD way. My particular branch of crazy is related to the environment. I’m super aware of ecological issues. We recycle. We hang our clothes out to dry. We compost. We have an organic garden. We have chickens. We … you get the point. Yes, all of that stuff is fun and most of it is easier than you’d think. And I enjoy it.

But I’m also aware that my total devotion to all things green borders on the obsessive. Sometimes it’s on the normal side of the border. Sometimes it’s on the obsessive side. Some moms worry about germs. I worry about our carbon footprint. I know I’m a little OCD about it. I try to keep it under wraps, but I am aware that my ecology isn’t a sign of my emotional stability. I know I can tip over. I try to keep the crazy under wraps. And somehow being OCD about green stuff, allows to let other things go. It gives a focus to the crazy. It makes me feel like I’m in control. I can’t stop global climate change, but I can hang my jeans out to dry. For me, it works.

Part III — My awkward Self-examination

This weekend as I was composting chicken poop — yes, I know. Obsessive, right? — I had a light bulb moment. Yes, I’m crazy-green. But I’m also crazy green. Maybe my Grandmother is the same way. Maybe she’s not just crazy-cheap. Maybe she’s also crazy cheap. Maybe her obsession with saving every penny is her way of managing

Me with my grandparents when baby girl was little.

Me with my grandparents when baby girl was little.


In case you think I’m sounding judgmental here, I don’t mean to. Just the opposite, in fact. This realization has made me feel more … sympathetic, maybe. In the past, her cheapness has (sometimes) bugged the crap out me. Sometimes, it’s made it hard to even be with her. “Ugh. I need to mail XY&Z to Grandma, but I know she’s going to harass me later if I mail it Fedex. I just won’t mail it.” Which then leads to: “Ugh, I meant to mail her XY&Z. I don’t want to call her because she’ll harass me about that.”

Thanks to my new understanding, I can approach it differently. Now I can think, “Okay, doing it her way may be a pain in the ass, but I understand now. It’s not just cheapness. It’s something else. Something I can relate to.”

Now, will my new understanding lead to greater peace, contentment and acceptance in my relationship with my Grandmother? I don’t know. Maybe. I hope so, because I love her and enjoy her company when she’s not getting on my last ever-lovin’ nerve. How great would it be if my own form of crazy leads to a deeper relationship with my grandmother?

So how about you? Do you have a touch of OCD? Do you have family members who drive you crazy? How do you handle it?

Bedtime Stories

A few days ago I’m talking to my sister, and out of the blue she says, “Guess what?” Since we’re talking about parlor chairs and antique tables, I assume she’s going to tell me something furniture or antique related. She doesn’t.

“I’m reading your book!” she gushes. “And it’s sooo good!”

Now on the surface this shouldn’t be any big deal. She’s my sister, so of course she’s reading my book, and of course she’ll tell me it’s good. That’s what sisters do. But here’s the thing. Shattered Dreams was published in December 2011. She even helped with some of my research and plot issues. It’s dedicated to her daughter.  But it’s taken her over a year to curl up with Trinity and her psychic abilities.

Now, while this might sound like something that would upset me, it doesn’t. Because I know my sister inside out, and I know that she hasn’t read a work of fiction since her daughter was born in 1997. Nothing. Lots of parenting books to be sure. Some self-help books, personal improvement, marriage building…definitely all that. And she’s definitely done business books, along with getting her MBA and other fancy and impressive financial planner certifications. But there are only so many hours in a day, and between work and parenting, reading for fun fell through the cracks. No Harry Potter. No The Time Traveler’s Wife. No The Lovely Bones. No Life of Pi. No Twilight. No 50 Shades…of anything.

And I get it. I get how life takes over, and we become so overwhelmed by all the tasks that must be done, that we don’t feel like we can afford to just sit down and chill for a little while. Take some me-time.  Listen to music. Read. Relax. And when we do finally have our list fully checked off, it’s late and we’re tired, and if we curl up with a book, we’re asleep before the end of the first page.

I get all that, because it’s my life, too.  My husband and I were reproductively challenged (as we like to call it), so we had 11 years together before our kids came along. That was a lot of “me-time,” and I spent a huge percentage of that time reading. I read everything, all the time. Then my daughter came along, and reading became about her (parenting books) and to her (kid books). Then came kid number two, and…yeah. Reading for me, for pleasure, fell by the wayside.

And I miss it. So much. I miss meeting new characters and falling in love over and over and over. I miss the fascination and the wonder and the curiosity. I miss the anticipation of diving back into a story, of staying up way too late, because I just have to see what happens next. It’s kind of funny, because my third grade daughter had just discovered her love of reading, and she’s devouring books like I used to. And sometimes I want to remind her to clean up her room or straighten the family room, but then I see the faraway look on her face, and I just don’t want to take that from her. In fact, I want to find a little of that myself.

So here’s what I’m going to do: it’s what my sister is doing, what has allowed her to finally read my book. Monday nights are for reading. No TV. No laptop or iPad. No magazines or journal or mail. Kids go down, and then it’s book time, time for my stories: mysteries, romance, adventures, paranormal, science fiction, all the things that I love, and that, frankly, make me a better, happier person. There are so many new worlds I can’t wait to explore,  new friends to meet, and fabulous old feelings to feel, and I can’t wait for tonight!

What I’m learning is this: if something is important, you can’t just hope it happens. You have to make it happen. It works for date night. I’m now looking forward to Book Nights…and a different kind of bedtime story: for me J

So…tell me!  What do I HAVE to add to my TBR pile?!?

Fun & Games!

Do any of you have family game nights? Baby Galen has just become interested in games. We have some very simple matching games with The Cat in the Hat and Hello Kitty cards. For Christmas she got a game called Honey Bee Tree and a game called Sneaky Snacky Squirrel.

Honey Bee Tree

Sneaky Snacky

Have you played either of them? They’re short and simple, which appeals to that age group.

Of course, they’re a bit tedious for me after ten times, so looking ahead, what are some games your kids or grandkids like to play?

I remember enjoying Yahtzee, Monopoly, Sorry, and Battleship. But those games are geared for older kids. Any games for younger kids?

We also like playing hide and seek, going to the store (the pantry with a purse and grocery bag), and playing doctor. That one is my favorite because I can lay down when I’m the patient. What other fun activities do you play?

Shana Galen, Multitasker Mama
I’m Shana Galen, AKA Multitasker Mama (and aren’t we all?). I’m a wife, mom to a two-year-old daughter I call Baby Galen. My parenting motto is, “Keep moving. Don’t pass out. Don’t throw up.” Or maybe that’s my fitness motto?

Counting My Blessings: One Thousand of Them

One Thousand GiftsI recently read a fresh little book called One Thousand Gifts–right in the middle of trying to meet my very looming deadline because I needed something…I needed enrichment. This book didn’t exactly make a promise but strongly suggested that if I count my blessings, these wonderful things will happen:

1) Time will slow down.

I’d like this. It’s skidding by like a penguin on ice.

2) My stress will go away–or diminish considerably.

God, I would LOVE this! Freaking LOVE it! 

2) I will know true joy.

I want that. I do know true joy already–but not enough.

The lyrical Voskamp–who lives almost a pioneer lifestyle–writes from a Christian perspective, but she incorporates quotes from people from all world religions, too. We’re all looking for joy, aren’t we? And for more time. And for our stress to evaporate. So whether you’re on a spiritual quest or not, naming out loud the people and things in your life that make your life rich is a great idea.

I got the free app to go with the book. It has some limitations, but I use it to count at least three blessings a day. I can do this visually, too, with my iPhone camera. And by the end of the year, I’ll have 1,000 blessings counted in this app. It’s been fun. And you know what? It works! I was really stressed yesterday, so I stopped and looked around me for a blessing–which I immediately found: brownies!!! So I ate one with a glass of milk and took a picture of the remainder of the pan. But I’ve also found less chocolate-oriented blessings, such as this:

Cats Behind Curtains


And some of my blessings don’t have pictures. Like this:

I’m thankful for my big heart.

And the reason I put that blessing was because Voskamp, on her website, also gives you prompts for each day’s blessings (that you don’t have to use, of course). But I liked that day’s prompts: “Name three things about yourself that you’re grateful for.” I felt a little shy thinking of things about myself that I’m grateful for, but that’s silly. Of course, we should all love ourselves! And I know that intellectually. It’s just that when you cruise through life–when you forget to be mindful–you’re like a vacuum cleaner that no one cleans the hose for. Little bits of lint and old bobby pins get stuck in there, and before you know it, you’re not sucking up life the way you should be.

I’m thankful for my strange vacuum simile.


So think about counting your blessings every day. Saying them out loud helps. And if you want to name them here, please do!!!



Kieran Kramer, Merry Mama

Hi, I’m Kieran. My family loves music and anything that makes us laugh out loud. Along with Chuck, my husband of 23 years, I try to teach our kids that we have to actively choose happiness–and if I accomplish nothing else as a mom but pass that one lesson along to them, then I think I’ve done my job.

My oldest guy, Dragon, was diagnosed in kindergarten with Asperger’s syndrome, and now he’s a junior in college; his sister Indie Girl, who’s younger by 16 months, is a college sophomore; and my youngest, Nighthawk, is in ninth grade. For our family, it’s about managing your weaknesses and wringing everything you can get out of your strengths. And along the way, finding joy.

Locks Changed My Life

So, back in November, my husband and I got interior locks for our house. Like, honest to goodness, locks with a key from the inside locks.

Best. Decision. Ever.

Why you ask? Well, when guests come over, there is basically nothing more hysterical than turning the lock, pocketing the key and laughing maniacally.

OKAY. That’s not why.

Many of you know our five year old son has autism and he is a MAJOR flight risk. Like, prying windows open, fleeing in the night, kind of flight risk. And he had figured out how to get out of every door (chain locks didn’t do the trick!) And over our fence, effectively bypassing the alarm system we have in place.

After watching him scale the fence on Thanksgiving, we knew something had to change. Again. That’s sort of the story of our life. Staying a step ahead, or adjusting when we’re a step behind. But with Danger baby, these issues are safety issues, and that means if everyone has to undergo a major change, then everyone undergoes a major change.

These locks? They’ve changed so much. I don’t feel like I have to shadow him constantly. I can go to the bathroom during the day. I can go out and leave the kids with my husband and not feel like I have to call every two minutes and say ‘what’s Danger doing?’.

So yes, locks changed my life.

The thing is, it seems silly. Or weird. But it works for us. I mean…it’s downright necessary for us. It works along the lesson from my last post I guess: find what works for your family and embrace it. Don’t fight it. And when you find what works? Revel in it!