Laura Haley-McNeil

1/22/17, New Arrival

Hello, Everyone!

I hope you are well and staying warm as the January cold settles upon us. I’ve always loved the snow. It makes the bare trees sparkle like diamonds and covers everything that’s dormant including the brown flower stalks that I didn’t have time to clean out of my garden last fall. Last spring, we planted petunias in the garden urns. I have tried to plant other flowers in the urns but the petunias are hardy and drought tolerant so I planted those last year and will probably do it again this year. I love all the colors bordering the patio and appreciate they’re less needy than other flowers, though there isn’t a flower I don’t like. In the fall, the petunias turned into brown stalks which I had planned to remove, but time slipped away. Now the snow has been merciful and covered these with a white blanket. The withered flowers are fluffy and white giving me something beautiful to look at and assuaging my guilt.

As I huddle in for winter, I received some wonderful news – my nephew and his wife welcomed their third child and first son. My nephew’s wife is a petite blond. I visited with them between Christmas and New Year’s. She was ready then to have that baby and when I heard that he weighed more than 9 lbs., I could understand why. Their daughters, who are several years older than the baby, are excited to have a baby brother. It will be a sensational and busy time for my nephew and his wife with 3 children and both parents working full time, but that’s the lifestyle of many young parents. We want a family and we want a career.

I couldn’t wait to see the new baby, though I wanted to give my nephew and his family time to adjust to this sudden change in their lifestyle. Thankfully, I had finished crocheting a baby afghan and had something to take to their home. They live just a few miles from my house. As the oldest of 6 children, you’d think I’d remember holding my sisters and brother when they were babies, but they grow up and change so quickly. Soon they became rough and tumble little children so that it was hard to remember there was a time when they were delicate and fragile babies. Holding my grandnephew brought it all back. Even though he weighs nine plus pounds, he’s so tiny in my arms. Everything about him is tiny, including his cry. It’s miraculous to hold this baby and know that he has an entire life ahead of him and will soon be taller than I am. Of course, that will probably happen before he finishes elementary school. I am destined to be the shortest one in the family including all generations. I wanted to hold this baby forever, but I knew my nephew and his wife were tired adjusting to late night feedings and still driving the girls to their ballet classes and piano lessons. They have recitals scheduled so I know I’ll see the family then, but hopefully before. My niece’s baby is due in March. She lives a couple of hours from my house, but I’ll be driving there to see her new baby. She’s expecting a girl. My sister doesn’t live far from my niece so I’ll have a place to stay.

With cold weather, I limit my activities. We try to make it to the mountains a few times a year to ski, but the rest of the time is spent indoors, which is good. I can find plenty to do indoors including working on Book 6 of the Crystal Creek series. The first draft should be finished by the end of the month, if I don’t have to spend too much time making changes from the copyeditor. Thankfully, PBS had introduced a new series Queen Victoria that I love watching. I love period pieces, especially those set in the 1920s. I was fortunate in that my parents and grandparents shared a lot of stories about what their lives were like when they were growing up during that time period. Though my parents came from very poor backgrounds, my father grew up on a ranch and my mother grew up on a farm. It was always so wonderful to hear what their lives were like then. I’ve fictionalized their lives in short stories I’ve written, but I still have a desire to write a novel, maybe even a series about what their lives were like. The stories they told me were interesting but so were the people. Some of the people I can still remember. We’ll see if I ever get around to writing this series. There’s so many projects I want to work on, but I can only fit so much into my day.

Here’s hoping that you stay warm and have fun winter activities planned. If you live in a warm climate, that won’t be a problem. If you’re like me and live where it’s cold, I hope you have a day warm enough to enjoy a walk or a bike ride, or, if it’s cold, you have plans to curl up with a good book and or can watch an interesting television show like Victoria! However you choose to spend your free time, I wish you a pleasant week filled with wonderful surprises and cozy times with friends and family!