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Memorial Day Weekend

How did you celebrate Memorial Day?

Did you enjoy the long weekend ? Grill out? Go for a swim ? We loaded all the kids, their friends and the dogs and headed to our camp. The camp is a cabin style lake house on Caddo Lake. We has big plans: swim, boat rides, skiing, tubing and cooking on the grill.

Imagine our shock when we arrived and found the destruction of the latest storm. A tree was in the pool; the boat was MIA, apparently tossed across the lake by the angry wind. The fishing poles were gone and the entire place looked like it had been hit by a tornado. I guess the storm was worse than we thought. But the kids were troopers and wanted to stay for the weekend anyway. I was worried that they would be bored, but they finally took my advice and got outside and made their own fun. I've been harassing them for years to turn off the iPads and pods and have fun the way we did when we were kids.

Tree in pool! 
With no pool and no boat, whats' a kids to do?

Well we can use the tube as a raft and float in the lake, ( duh mom).

and ride the dirt bike.

 Blake is such a girly girl, she shocks me every time I see her doing something like riding a motorcycle.

Look at my tan, mom.

So the kids decided to swim in the lake. They're young and nothing scares them. Me, no way am I swimming with snakes and gators 


 We ran to Walmart and picked up a few fishing poles and some bait and Bennett and his friends caught Bass and Catfish

And we found anothe use for the tube. Rolling down the hill almost hitting trees but landing in the water.

 Even the dogs had fun.
And they found new doggy friends.

 Swam  in the lake and got really dirty, but they were worn out each night.

A good time was has by all and without computers or technology, we played games and had the best family weekend, ever. 

We didn't want to leave.

 Did I mention the grill disappeared?


Jodi Arias Verdict: What is a Death Qualified Jury?

Verdict in Jodi Arias Trial: Well Sort of

Does the Judicial System Work?

I've practiced law for over twenty years & I was blown away by Arizona's trial procedure.

Was the Jodi Arias penalty phase verdict a miscarriage of justice?
No, absolutely not! Was it the verdict we wanted or Travis's family hoped for? No, but that does not mean it was a miscarriage of justice.

Let me begin by warning you that is will be an opinionated post. I am going to discuss the Jodi Arias Verdict (or whatever the hell it is that they call a verdict) and the death penalty. I'm not including any stats on the death penalty.  I should also say, up front, that many of you will probably disagree with what I have to say and I don't expect my opinion to be a popular one. Okay...we got that out of the way.

After months of hearing testimony in the "trifurcated" trial, the jury in the Jodie Arias trial rendered their verdict. I don't know if you watched it, but listening to the clerk of court announce:

 "We the jury...after considering...unanimously agree that the defendant Jodi Arias should be sentenced to..." Okay, we're holding our breath here...the courtroom is silent, except for each person's own heart thudding against their ribcage

 "Should be sentenced unanimous verdict" 

Okay, maybe I didn't get my quote exactly word for word, but the last line, the most important line, is word for word. WTF?

This post is not about how off the wall I think Arizona criminal procedure is. I want to attempt to explain the purpose of the death penalty, when it is permitted and how a jury can reach the decision to sentence a person to death.

In most states, a capital murder trial is a bifurcated trial. If the jury returns with a unanimous verdict of guilty of first degree murder, it is normally presumed that they have already found that at least one aggravating factor exist because without that aggravating factor, they would not have returned a verdict of first degree murder. The verdict would be second degree murder or another of the lesser included responsive verdicts. However in Arizona, after the jury makes a finding of first degree murder, they have a second mini trial to determine if one of the aggravating factors is present. If they find an aggravating factor they have a third mini trial- the penalty phase.
In most states, if the jury cannot come to a unanimous sentence of death, the sentence is then, automatically, life without parole. In Arizona the state gets a second bite at the apple. Skating dangerously close to unconstitutional, if you ask me. But, you didn't ask me, so...moving on.

The sole purpose of the penalty phase (the second portion of a capital trial in most states) is to determine the sentence. There are only two choices: life imprisonment without parole or death.

Here is where I'm having a big problem with the media and the general ~ public misunderstanding of a capital murder trial and what we call a "death qualified jury."

Yes, each juror sitting on a capital murder trial has been death qualified. What does this mean? It means that they have answered questions posed by the lawyers and the judge and that their answers indicate that if they find the accused guilty of first degree murder that they are willing and able to listen to the evidence presented in the penalty phase, consider the evidence and if they determine that it is warranted, yes they can impose the death penalty.

A death qualified jury does not mean that the jury will automatically impose death as the penalty, if they  return a verdict of guilty of first degree murder. In fact, a person who answers that they would automatically impose death would be disqualified as a juror, just as a person who answers that they would automatically impose life. Either one- a person who would automatically impose death or a person who would automatically impose life, would not be death qualified. That person would not be eligible, by law to sit as a juror in a capital murder trial

Do you see the difference? To be death qualified, you must be willing to impose the death penalty if you deem it to be the appropriate sentence & you must also be willing to impose life if you deem life imprisonment to be the most appropriate sentence.

A person who is opposed to the death penalty, for whatever reason, cannot be death qualified. A person who believes that every person convicted of first degree murder should receive the death penalty, likewise cannot be death qualified.

During the penalty phase, the prosecutor introduces evidence of the aggravating circumstances surrounding the trial. In addition, the victim's family offer testimony (called victim impact) telling the jury how the loss of their family member or loved one has affected them, physically, emotionally, financially, and psychologically.

Then,  the defense introduces what they consider mitigating factors. The law provides a list of certain factors that the jury must consider (notice I only said consider). This list includes, but is not limited to factors such as:

1. Remorse
2. Was the defendant acting under extreme duress or substantial domination of another
3. Age of the defendant
4. Mental health status (defense usually calls a psychologist or psychiatrist to testify during penalty phase

5. Lack of any significant prior criminal history
6. Prior good acts or honorable service in military or other groups/past contributions to the community & society as a whole
7. Was the defendant abused as a child
8. Likelihood that this was a one time occurrence & the defendant does not pose a threat of danger or violence to others
8. Any other circumstance which extenuates the gravity of the crime, even though it is not a legal excuse for the crime- court allows great leeway here for the defense, to offer just about anything

In other words, the evidence of mitigating factors does not justify the crime but will explain to the jury certain factors they must consider before deciding whether to give the death penalty or a life sentence

The jury must consider all the aggravating and all of the mitigating factors. The amount of weight that the jury gives each individual factor is up the the jury. It's not a contest of numbers. If one side has five aggravating factors and the other side only one mitigating factor, the jury can choose to give more weight to the one factor than a whole list of factors. The law only requires that the jury consider all the factors.

The next crucial issue to understand is that the death penalty is reserved for the worst of the worst crimes, worst of the worst offenders. It is not appropriate in every case. Who decides whether the particular case is the worst of the worst? The jury

Believe me, I know that for the victim's family, having lost someone they love deeply, the case that involves them, the case that took their loved one from this earth, is the worst of the worst for them. But, the jury has to consider the crime in relation to all crimes.

The death penalty is appropriate in my opinion for psychopaths and individuals who we know or believe will kill again, if ever given the chance.

Is brutally, butchering Travis Alexander, cutting his throat and shooting him in the face- the worst of the worst of all crimes ever committed? I don't know. It wasn't up to me. What do you think?

Personally, when I think of the very worst cases I think of child killers, people who torture others, kill the elderly, kill multiple victims, serial killers. Please do not misunderstand me. I'm not in any way deprecating the seriousness of what Jodi Aries did. It was a cruel and heinous act. I believe that was the aggravating factor that the jury found, cruel & heinous.

What the general public appears to be confused about: 

As soon as the verdict was announced HLN was outside the courtroom interviewing spectators and one woman's response worried me. This is what she said:

"I can't believe the jurors were picked knowing this was a death penalty case and they can't come up with the right verdict. It's just not right."

Think about that statement.  I mean, I want you to really ponder it, mull it over, connect it to something concrete. Do you see anything wrong with the statement?

Her statement implies that the only, right verdict- is death. That's not right and I am afraid that far too many people feel the same way and have the same misunderstanding about what a death qualified jury is.

I hope I don't get nuts here, but I'm about to talk about Nancy Grace. I watched her do the same thing with the Casey Anthony trial coverage.  I was shocked and proud with Dr. Drew actually called Nancy Grace on her sensationalized bias. 

Nancy Grace asked Dr. Drew, what went wrong with the the jury, or the legal system in the Jodi Arias case. Dr. Drew responded by saying something like, "Well, a better question is what went right?" 

Nancy Grace jumped his ass, just like she does every guest who does not agree with her and give her the answer she wants to hear. Dr. Drew finally called her on it by saying, "Well Nancy, it sounds to me like what you're saying is that the system only works if they jury returns a verdict of death." She got belligerent and told him to get his hearing checked. She never answered his question and you know what's so disturbing? Nancy Grace and so many others, media and also average citizens truly believe that the system failed because the jury failed to give Arias the death penalty.

That is wrong on so many levels. You want to know why? 

 The fact that this death qualified jury who spent four or five months listening to the witnesses and viewing the evidence and even questioned Arias on the stand, (she was on the stand eighteen days, I believe), the fact that they could not come to a unanimous decision is proof that the system can work and in this case, did work.

As attorney's we always ask this question during jury selection. I'm going to pose it as if from a defense attorney:

"Mr. or madame juror, if during the penalty phase, the vote is eleven to one for the death penalty, but after considering and deliberating you are still convinced that life is the appropriate penalty, will you stand by your abiding conviction or will you yield to the pressure of your fellow jurors?"
 In other words, will you remain strong & true to what you believe is justice or will you become a sheep and just follow the herd for the sake of making things easier & less confrontational in the jury room?

They usually say they will stand strong, but skilled attorneys watch their demeanor and body language. 

If your life was on the line, I am asking you, my fellow bloggers: would you want a juror who maintains her resolve and conviction and refuses to switch her vote just to give in to the pressure or just so the whole thing could finally be over? That's the type of juror we call a sheep?

My problem with the media: Better said, my issue with Nancy Grace

She's upset with the jury because they could not agree on a unanimous verdict. What would be better, Nancy? Should the four who were against sentencing her to death, give in to pressure & betray their promise to the lawyers, judge and court, their promise that they would remain strong in their resolve, if not convinced to vote another way?

Yes, I agree this is horrible for Travis Alexander's family. It's sickening that they have to keep going through this, but the jury cannot vote against their conscious because of this.

How can this be remedied? I think it is utterly ridiculous for the prosecutor to select a second jury who, without the benefit of the previous four month's of evidence and witness testimony, will be asked to make a decision the first jury was unable to make. How does this help The Alexander family?

Even if the second jury gives her the death penalty, there is a strong likelihood that the sentence will be overturned on appeal as unconstitutional, kicked back to the trial court and then the family must begin again. I believe the best option is for the state to offer Jodi Arias a deal, plead guilty to life without parole. This should satisfy the Alexander family and eliminate the grief of enduring decades of appeals.

This is a long post & I want to share with you the reason I'm no longer the strong advocate for the death penalty as I once was, but I will have to write a separate post on the topic.  It has much to do with how unfair the process is. It all depends on the twelve men and women selected and that's often a crap shoot. One group of twelve could easily send someone to death while a different one could not. It's the luck (or misfortune of the draw) & to me that makes the penalty decision much too subjective and arbitrary.

If we cannot guarantee across the board standards and criteria for each person convicted of first degree murder (and how could we- when no two people are alike and no two panels of twelve will every think, act, react, respond the same way.)

I say lets put this case to rest and allow the Alexander family some closure and the opportunity to return home and begin to pick up the pieces of their shattered lives and try to move forward.

Don't give Jodi Arias one more more opportunity for her to hold court, stand up like she is important with her power point.

 She loves playing this role...all eyes are upon her. Let's strip that last ounce of power from her . Why allow her to try and con and sway a second jury? She loves the media attention as she's a natural in front of a crowd.

 Take this away from her. Tell her the show is over...her performance is over...the only role left for her is a jail house art teacher or better yet, an acting coach.

What's your opinion? Was justice served? Did the system fail because the jurors were hopelessly deadlocked? Any of you find the Arizona trial procedure, just a little off? Any of you from Arizona and feel like sharing what you know about the law? I'd love to hear your opinions.

Please continue praying for the Alexander family. As one family friend announced after the verdict, "the family needs your prayers more now than ever."

Larry Brooks' Manuscript Coaching

Larry Brooks' Manuscript Coaching: Your Story on Steroids

One hundred dollar coaching session with author Larry Brooks, just one of many amazing prizes in my Fab 500 Followers, prize give~a~way. 

Larry Brooks is the author of several critically-acclaimed thrillers and a manuscript coach. In addition, Brooks has authored several fiction craft books, including his bestseller, Story Engineering: Mastering the Six Core Competencies of Successful Writing. His next writing craft book, Story Physics: Harnessing the Underlying Forces of Storytelling, is scheduled for release next month.
This post is not a review of either book. So why am I writing it? Well, if you've entered my blog prize give a way, you've undoubtedly noticed that the prizes include a $100 coaching session with Larry Brooks, "your story of steroids," and a copy of his newest book, Story Physics.

Just in case any of you are unfamiliar with Larry Brooks, I want you to check out his writing-skills website.  He does an amazing job of explaining the six core competencies on his Story fix website and he also deconstructs popular novels & films, to give his readers a step by step guide to effectively utilizing his six core competencies and story engineering.  

Before reading Brooks, I had a story, a damn good story, I had it on paper and I had my well developed characters. My protagonist had a clear and defined goal motivated by an inner goal and she was moving along -working toward that goal, all the while being thwarted by the antagonists and antagonistic forces. That's right baby, I had conflict...lots of it. I had tension, raised stakes, suspense, I had it all (or so I thought), but something was clearly wrong with my story. What the hell was it?

My story structure was off.

 I was what we often call a "pantster", or better said, I wrote by the seat of my pants. Why? Because, ever since high school, I've have loathed outlines. In my mind, writing a story according to a "formula", was a formula for creative disaster. Brooks opened my eyes and changed my mind.

 I now realize that every author (every successful author) follows proper story structure, whether they realize it or not. A writer may not outline, or plot plan before they begin their first draft, but that just means that their draft becomes their planning or plotting tool. I've come to realize (the long & hard way) that every successful author, eventually follows story structure. There is no getting around it. If you write a book where the first plot point does not occur until midway through your will not sell. 

Eventually all successful writers align their story with the principles of the six core competencies. 

I said this was not a review and it's not. I'm not going into that much detail. I will tell you that if you read Larry Brooks or if you follow his blog or retain his manuscript coaching services, you will be ahead of the pack because you will understand the six core competencies.

1. Concept
2. Character
3. Theme
4. Structure
5. Scene Execution
6. Writing Voice

Of course, each of the above core competencies breaks down into other sub-categories. 

You'd be amazed at how many writers have a difficult time relaying to another the "concept" of their story. Notice I said, "concept", I did not say premise or idea. You get the idea. Well, you will get the idea and more than that, if you follow Larry Brooks.

The area I benefited most from is the simple way that Brooks breaks down the plot points & pinch points in a four part story. With his help, you will not only know what to write, but you will know when to write it, and exactly where, in your novel, it goes. You will no longer wonder where a certain scene fits into your novel. You will grasp where it goes, what comes before it and what to write next. This helped me immensely. 

I love his beat sheets. They allowed me to break my story into four parts, aligned with the six core competencies. By knowing where my first and second plot points, mid point, and pinch points needed to be, I was better able to foreshadow suspenseful scenes, plan my set ups and pay offs and it saved me from the countless number of drafts I was accustomed to writing during my revision stage.

Paranormal Author, Jamie Gold, has an excellent blog post, "How to Revise for Structure Part Two," where she explains Story Structure, according to Larry Brooks in a short, easy to read article. 

As a bonus she includes a link for you to download her story structure spreadsheet, adapted from Larry Brooks' Story Engineering. Jami admits, that like me, math is not her favorite subject. She borrowed her spreadsheet from Liz Brooks.

Listen to Larry Brooks explain his beat sheet. Here is his guest post on Stephanie Shackelford's Routines for Writers. Want more? Who didn't love The Hunger Games? 

That's what I thought. So head over and read Larry's Hunger Games Beat Sheet. I promise, you will be impressed.

If you have some time, watch Joanna Penn's you tube interview with Larry Brooks.

So, while I know that an iPad mini is an awesome prize...thank you very much. The other prizes are pretty damn good. 
Don't forget to comment on this post or any post here or on my second, just launched blog, Karma Carbs for an additional contest entry. You can also earn multiple-daily entries for giving this contest a social media shout-out.

Just tweet or shout- out,  anywhere a link to this contest,  I love my Followers,  for extra entries to win a "Your story on steroids," $100 Larry Brooks Coaching Session, or a copy of Larry Brook's newest writing craft book Story Physics

It will be released in June and I can't wait to get my hands on it.  

Don't forget you can also win a copy of Jessica Bell's Adverbs and Cliches in a nutshell.

Fab 500 Follower -Prize Give a Way (Update)

Update:  I've added an easy way to earn 10 entries.

Just add the I love my followers, Prize give-a-way photo, below, to your blog. Put it anywhere on your blog, in a blog post, on a page, or preferably on your sidebar. It would be most helpful if you added the pink photo, below to your sidebar via the "add a photo" add a gadget in the layout section. In the area where it ask you where you want the link to direct readers, type in the link to this contest. That's it. Earn 10 entries toward winning one of the awesome prizes, including an iPad mini 4G.

I've also added a few copies of the amazing author, Jessica Bell's new book, Adverbs and Cliches in a Nutshell as one of the many prizes.

Fab 500 Followers Prize Give~a~Way

I mentioned this give a way a few days ago and I'm now announcing that the contest is officially open. As you can see there a numerous ways to gain multiple entries. Some of the options, such as leaving a comment, following this blog or following me on Twitter, are simple & easy ways to earn more entires. You can earn entries each day, for the next month, by leaving comments on this blog; tweeting about the contest or giving it a shout out on any social media platform.

 I've been on FaceBook for a while now and have tons of friends, but I never launched any of my pages, so I figured this would be as good of a time as any. Since the pages are new (they are bland and rather naked) and desperately in need of your likes. So come on and like my page on FaceBook as I attempt to join the wonderful world of branding & social media platforms in conjunction with my 
author platform.

This give away is my way of honoring and thanking of all of you wonderful people, for your continued and loyal following of my blog (even when I didn't deserve your loyalty). I am also using this opportunity to plug my new blog, and I'm hoping you'll spend a minute or two and visit, leave a comment and follow, (additional entries for each). Visit Karma Carbs

Visit My 2nd Blog

Invitation To Visit My New Blog:

No, I'm not moving. I will continue to blog, here about the craft of writing and my journey toward publication.

I have given this a considerable amount of thought & have concluded that the only way I can share some of the other interesting topics I am interested in, is for me to launch a second blog. I dread the start up know, you all remember that lonely time frame where you have no followers...then one day you have one...then three...maybe five and then woo hoo, ten! It's a lonely feeling, remember?

My new blog is a lifestyle blog which focuses on parenting issues. I will blog about marriage; divorce; remarriage with kids; step-families or blended families; updates on family law, including divorce, custody, visitation & child support and some fun stuff too. I will also be reviewing tons of products, software and services and hosting many blogfest and prize give~a~ways. 

I am currently dealing with some serious issues involving parenting teens in a techno world; cyber-bullying; cyber stalking; and parenting a child with a disability. While many of you are parents or grandparents and might enjoy some of these topics, it wouldn't be fair to inundate this blog with topics that others find irrelevant and I wouldn't be giving these topics the awareness they need if I only sprinkle this blog with these topics, now & then.

Don't worry, I promise I will still be here & will continue to follow all of your blogs, as often as I can.

Not long ago, I mentioned a big prize give~a~way, on this blog, for reaching the 400 follower milestone. Well, thanks to Arlee Bird's amazing A to Z blogging challenge, 2013, I am far closer to 500 followers, than I am to 400. I now have about 475.

This is perfect timing because I get to combine my good fortune of gaining followers from the A to Z challenge with my previously planned give~a~way, and hopefully help launch my new blog in the process.

 I will be using Rafflecopter, this time, for my contest, (live & learn) isn't that what this whole blogging process is about?

The contests (not really an appropriate word because you don't really have to do anything to win) will officially open on Tuesday, May 14, 2013 and will end on Thursday June 13, 2013. That gives you an entire month to put your name into the hopper. I said you didn't have to do anything, didn't I? I didn't lie. You don't have to really do much of anything.

You've all seen the rafflecopter entry form and you know how it works. Your name will be entered a certain number of times for doing little things like, following this blog, leaving a comment on a blog post, following me on Twitter, FaceBook, Google Plus, Tweeting about the contest, posting about it on FaceBook or other social media sites, writing a blog post on your own blog and promoting the give~a~way,...and yes...for following me on my new blog. I had to get find a way to throw the new blog in there. 

Of course some of the options are only available to you one time, e.g. following this blog, following on Twitter, etc. However, some of the options allow you to earn entries every single day, e.g. tweeting about the contest, giving it a shout out or mention on Google Plus, or other social media sites. Some options will give you more entries than others. Obviously you will have your name entered many more times for an actual blog post on your own blog, promoting the contest, but you've done this before, you get the idea.

Now, for the best part. What will the prize or prizes be? 
Is that what you want to know?
 I had a feeling.

There will be a more than one prize...more than two. This is all I will share with you today; if you want to know more, you'll have to come back on Tuesday. One prize is an Amazon gift card, but the grand for it....


The Grand Prize is an Ipad Mini 4G.

 So why don't you head over to my new blog right now. I only have one post, but's a start. Go on, I'll wait for you here, while you check out, Karma Carbs.

Okay, now that you're back, I have something else I need for you to share with the blogosphere. You may or may not know (probably have figured it out by now), I am sort of computer illiterate, and have no design ability or talent. I am seeking one of you cool graphic designer type gurus to create something that you will probably consider simple.

I would like a custom deigned button announcing my 500th follower give~a~way and alerting readers that they can win an iPad mini. Of course, I will compensate you for your services. I just don't know where to look. If you or anyone you know is interested in this job (for pay), please email me with your ideas and your fee.

Please spread the word about the launch of my new blog and this contest. The url for the new blog is only temporary while I wait for my custom domain to redirect the traffic. I think "Go Daddy", said it will take a day or so. See-total computer idiot here.

I hope you are all having a wonderful Sunday and a wonderful Mother's day. See you on Tuesday.

BTW, if you do happen to stop by my new blog, before the contest officially opens, you will receive bonus entries for following me on GFC, more bonus entries for leaving a comment and a boat load of entries if you offer to post as a guest author, so check out my blog topics & see if anything interest you.

The design is not the best, but after a makeover from The Cutest Blog on the Block, it will be rocking!

After you take a look @ my topics, I will tell you about a second contest, I am hosting. My "Name this blog" Contest. So put the creative side of your brain to work. I figure that with the multitude of  authors. writers, poets, musicians & other creative types hanging out in this awesome community, someone will have a kick ass name to share.

Best Mother's Day Gifts: Mom's of all Kind

Top Mother's Day Gifts: Variety of Choices for Every Mom

Mother's Day is the day after tomorrow. Have you picked out the perfect gift? Are you scrambling for last minute gift ideas, like me?

This is an in depth list that includes a variety of gifts for mom's of all ages. You can find something here for the hostess mom; gardening mom, trendy mom; hipster mom; grandmotherly mom; professional mom and every other mom.

We only have one mom, so let's make this Sunday a special occasion for her. Let your mom know how much she means to you.

Here is my list of favorite gifts, in no particular order. Prices vary from under five bucks to over two hundred.

1.  I love this one and wouldn't mind (at all) hint...hint...hmm...hmm, if my hubbie helped my little darlings pick out a Zip up Smart phone wallet or clutch for mommy dearest. They are reasonably priced at under $50 and come in a variety of colors. 

2. The Ipad Pouch, also under $50
3.  How about these adorable mini sticky notes. They are perfect for tabbing your manuscript (I mean for your mom to tab her reading), and they are less than 5 bucks.

4.  If your mom is un-like me, and thrives on her organizational skills, check out these daily schedulers & planners, for under 20 bucks.

5.  More for the organized mom. The custom name chalkboard wall sticker, for about 30 bucks.

6.  Does your mom enjoy gardening? I do (I mean my mom does). Pick up a set of these nifty dipped plant markers for only twelve ($12) dollars.

How about some gifts for the mom who enjoys entertaining guest:

7.  I stumbled upon quite a few conversation sparkers. What guest wouldn't eat their greens, when the salad is served in this row boat salad bowl? For just $6, it also comes with a set of wood serving utensils.
If your mom is anything like my mom, she has picky eaters to cook for. "I don't want vegetables in my lasagna," or "I want extra cheese." And it never fails, my sister always has her healthy request...something like whole wheat pasta only. 
Problem solved, with the trio lasagna pan. Another bargain for under twenty bucks.

Don't you just love lacquer? My mom adores anything lacquered and I found these bright, cheery & colorful Square Lacquer Trays for under $25 dollars.

If you have kids then your mom is also a grandmother & we all know how much granny loves to entertain our children. Kids can be messy & we wouldn't want to discourage their creativity. Now you don't have to. Just toss this doodle tablecloth on the table and the kids will entertain themselves throughout dinner and grandma will have an artwork masterpiece to show her friends, all for around sixty bucks.

Have trouble keeping up with the number of guest you have? Me neither, (at least not until after a few cocktails), but just in case, why not use the trendy Ella James, Numerology Napkin Rings, What a bargain at under seventy dollars.

Wine...Vino...Didn't I just say something about drinking wine? I must have, because now it's on my mind.  What dinner would be complete without a glass of vino? You want to give mom a real conversation starter? Give her these funky wine glasses. Now you can tell who guzzles their wine too quickly and who nurses just one glass.

Try the fun, "sands of wine," WIne Hourglasses. Just flip the glass to start its timer ~ and the table conversation. A set of four will set you back $75 dollars.

But, these funky hourglasses aren't just for wine. If mom prefers her cocktail shaken not stirred, then opt for the time honored Martini Hourglasses.
Not so fast. I'm not quite finished sharing my wine related choices for mother's day. Now, I'm not a snob, so I'm not about to knock the wine in a box thing, but hey...if mom's gonna drink wine out of a box, I say let's jazz it up for her.

 Just like you, me or our mom, like to put on our fancy clothes when we go out on the town...well, we can dress up that box wine, too.
This next item was something new to me. I saw it for the first time today, but fell in love with the creativity and sassiness of it.
Next time mom wants to bring her box of wine to the family barbecue, both mom & wine can arrive in style. 

Give mom's box of wine a fashion makeover, dress her up in a baggy wine coat for $60-75 bucks and take her out to play.

More gifts to help mom around the house.

Every mom knows what its like to lose a sock in the dryer. Make it easy for mom to pair them up with her very own Sock Exchange, for about thirty bucks.
Don't you love hooks? I do. I'm like addicted to wall hooks...anything vertical, that gets the crap, kids junk, off the damn floor. Check out these cotton reel wall hangers, stunning hangers for coats, scarves, hats etc., in the shape of a spool.

 Does mom ever get stressed out & wish she had a punching bag? If not she can still use this gift to turn her laundry chores into a workout, for only forty dollars.
Does your mom enjoy reading books? That was a stupid question. Of course she does...she's your mom. Does she need some awesome book ends to hold all of your published novels? These are seventy dollars.
Don't you wish you could buy your mom a book every week or two? Me too, but it would be very expensive. What if mom could borrow two or more e-books per month, from Amazon or Barnes and Noble for her Kindle or Nook. Now she can for only $29. Let's hope she already has an e-reader...or a birthday coming up.

 What to get the health conscious mom: I have a few ideas

Why not start with a Fitbit Zip Wireless Activity Tracker. What a nifty & resourceful gadget for under fifty bucks.

And she'll need some cute & comfy yoga pants, to look her best while power walking through the neighborhood. Victoria Secret has several colors and patterns, all for under thirty dollars.

Or maybe mom would rather get fit, in her own home with a complete Zumba Kit, for around $75.

 So you want some ideas for the fashion savvy mom, you say. Well, you come to the right place.

I bet your mom would love sporting her new Marc Jacobs, leather ID bracelet. She'll never know you bought it for less than a hundred dollars.

Or maybe your mom is more into personalized and sentimental jewelry. Then a personalized storyteller bracelet or necklace, is what you're looking for. You can get either one for a little over a hundred dollars.

Does mom need an overnight bag? Maybe she lives out of town and you want her to visit, soon. Why not pack her in style. This one is a little pricey, but the two hundred dollar, day and night cow fur satchel is a knockout.

Do you love the comfort of Toms shoes? Then you'll, (I mean your mom) will fall in love with Toms Strappy Canvas Wedges For around seventy dollars, mom will be styling.

 And, last, but not least...

Why not pamper mom? 

Our moms are the reason we are here and most of us owe our mother so much. What a way to show mom your gratitude, pamper her in style. For under a hundred bucks you can treat mom to the luxury of unwinding at home with a wine/spa basket.

 Cloud 9 Living is available in most major cites and offers a host of packages and experiences including a special offer on the "treat mom to a day at the spa" package. Check out their site for other amazing adventures.

I had a few more gift experiences to share, but if I keep typing, Mother's day will be here and I will have not shopped.

Happy Mother's day to all of you who are mothers, daughters, grandmothers, aunts, sisters, god-mothers, step-mothers and to all women who have someone in their lives who make them feel special. You don't have to be a biological mother to enjoy recognition on Mother's day.

I am so grateful for my own mom and for my children who made me a mommy.

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