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Sunday, January 22, 2017

Hot Lead & Cold Apple Pie: The Long Awaited Prequel to Plum Pudding Bride

     Did Plum Pudding Bride leave you wanting to spend more time in the adventure-filled, crazy, laughable, often-times judgmental, never dull town of Gilman, Colorado? Were you curious about that time Peter Foote said he rode in a posse? Did you wonder if Mrs. Clinton, leader of the temperance league extraordinaire, has always been that insufferable? Were your thinking 2017 could use a little less stress and a lot more laughs?
     You're in luck. Hot Lead & Cold Apple Pie, the full-length prequel to the Christmas novella Plum Pudding Bride is coming soon to a bookstore near you. Below is the cover reveal and a sneak peek into the never before released first pages. :)



BOOK BLURB

      Jenny Thompson takes great pleasure in her job as secretary to the elderly sheriff.  The sheriff consults her on cases and she’s convinced she single-handedly protects the town. Then, college-educated lawman Cal Westwood arrives to combat notorious outlaw “Bloody Joe” and his gang.
Determined to run Cal out on a rail before he can take over her sheriff office, Jenny will stop short of nothing.
Initially, Cal’s attracted to Jenny’s elusive green eyes, but that’s before she convinces the town flirt and the entire temperance league to aim their ire at him.
He has a gang to catch, his fallen comrade to avenge, and he’s not going to let one interfering woman ruin it for him, by Jove. But he might have underestimated Jenny. Will hot lead and quick trigger fingers ignite not just shootouts but love, or will their feuding give “Bloody Joe” the opportunity he needs to kill them all?


CHAPTER 1

The Rocky Mountains, Gilman, CO 1891

         “Next we should make a law mandating that all women wear bloomers to the Fourth of July picnic.” Jenny Thompson flourished her pen across the last t of the sheriff memo and plopped the writing utensil on the desk.
          List of stolen items in the recent robbery complete, she pushed the paper toward Uncle Zak. The intensity of the Colorado afternoon sun hit the sawn lumber of the pine floor.
          Uncle Zak leaned heavily on the desk. His large, gray eyes fixed on her as he slowly shook his head back, then forth, ruffling his red neckerchief. “It’s just not done.”
          “Doesn’t mean we can’t start.” She’d seen a lovely bloomers pattern in the Butterick Home Catalog.
          Uncle Zak’s shoulders slumped along with his suspenders. “The Temperance League would have convulsions.”
          She smiled as she imagined Mrs. Clinton, the Temperance League leader, in bloomers.
         “Besides, the laws are to advance the public good, not force agenda.” Uncle Zak stood. He closed his fingers on the robbery report.
          “Freeing women from artificial constraints is a public good.”
Uncle Zak’s sigh lasted twice as long. “Some constraints are aimed to serve not restrain. Like how only men are sheriffs.”
          “About that, I’d make an excellent sheriff.” She was perfectly capable of doing the job. Actually, she’d planned on it ever since she started target practice under Uncle Zak’s tutelage at the tender age of six.
          Uncle Zak froze, hand suspended in the air.
          For the first time since she’d been in pigtails, she had flabbergasted him. Even his eyes popped.
         He didn’t need to look so shocked. Sure, there’d never been a female sheriff in Colorado, but someone had to be first. George Washington was the first president. Wyoming had just entered the Union as the first state allowing women’s suffrage.
          “You’re not as strong as a man.” Uncle Zak’s voice quavered, his knees too. He rested a steadying hand on the pine boards of the wall separating the main room from the office and jail cell within.
          True, but she had a Colt .45. What did people say? God created man, but Colt made them equal. “I could do the job. It’s 1890 after all.”
          The muffled sound of gulping came from Uncle Zak’s throat.
          She did pity him. Out of the kindness of his heart, he, a bachelor, took her in when her parents died. She certainly hadn’t been the easiest child. But Uncle Zak bore the blame for her desire to be sheriff. Maybe if she’d been raised by a mother who excelled in needlework, musical abilities, and other womanly virtues, then she’d want to be a proper lady.
         “When you buy that ranch you’ve been wanting and retire, I could take over.” She smoothed a wisp of hair behind her ear.
         “You’d never win the Gilman sheriff election.” Uncle Zak rested his desperate gaze on her as if praying such would be the case.
         “Because women can’t vote. When even a backwoods territory like Wyoming had the sense twenty years ago to give women the vote, you know there’s a problem.” Jenny righted her chair with a clatter and grabbed her basket from under the desk. Scooping the apple pie, which emitted a delicious hint of cinnamon, out of her basket, she set it on her desk. Women might not have the vote, but the temperance league held quite the sway here in Gilman. She needed to win them over.
           “And he’s coming on the noon train,” Uncle Zak finished.
           She blinked. “Who’s coming?”
          “Cal Westwood. He’s a great shot, lawyer-educated lawman from Houston.”
          “Why?” She reached for the pie spatula.
          “My leg’s been troubling me more than ever. Mr. Westwood’s agreed to come on as assistant sheriff and see how he likes the town.”
          Spatula half-immersed in apple pie, she stiffened. “I help you, Uncle Zak!” Her voice went shrill.
         Uncle Zak’s chest heaved. “You’re a pretty young thing of nineteen. Don’t you want to get married and have babies instead of sitting at some old man’s jail all day?”
         Sit! Sit was scarcely the word! Beyond her official duties as secretary, she solved crimes. The only thing she didn’t have was a gold star, and she intended on getting one of those as soon as possible. “I already explained my ambitions to you, Uncle Zak.”
        “Don’t you want to get married?” Uncle Zak barely disguised the eagerness in his voice.
        She was his only kin and he’d hinted at grandnieces and nephews ever since she’d turned sixteen. Uncle Zak needn’t worry. She had every intention of marrying. Peter Foote was her man. Peter Foote owned the general store in town, and he was handsome and personable in a quiet sort of way. They’d get married in the schoolhouse, and their children would have Peter’s velvety-brown eyes and would play among the store aisles…all while she kept this town safe.
        She inched her fingers up to span her waist. How horrified would the Temperance League be if she took to wearing a gun belt over the calico?
        Uncle Zak dug his fork into the apple pie. “You better hurry up, honey. Westwood’s train should arrive in a quarter hour, and I don’t want him having to ask directions to the sheriff’s office like a common stranger.”
        A scowl iced over her lips. Cal Westwood was a common stranger. With distaste, she scooped up her parasol. Just because she ran this town didn’t mean she needed her nose getting burnt.
       “Make sure to tell the townsfolk there ain’t no trouble in town. Cal’s just coming for my job.”
       Jenny flinched. She’d identified the ringleader in the hooligan uprising last year as well as put a stop to that silver mine strike ten miles north by improving the men’s rations. She should be sheriff. “How old is he, Uncle Zak?”
       “Young whipper-snapper. Just twenty-three.”
       Twenty-three! He’d never die off. The town would vote for him and then he’d be sheriff for ages and she’d never get her chance. Tears gathered behind her eyelids. This Cal Westwood wouldn’t do half the job she did.
       Her fist constricted. Know what? She wouldn’t stand by and let this happen. She’d ride Mr. City-Educated Westwood out on a rail first.

Friday, December 30, 2016

Ending 2016 in Pictures

We wish you a Merry Christmas,
Almost got everyone to smile at the same time.


           We wish you a Merry Christmas,
Swords, necessary for all of life according to Joe-Joe. #armingbabybrother


             We wish you a Merry Christmas,

Pretend ax. Shudder to think what Joe-Joe might think up for Dolphy-Dolph to do with a real one.

                    and a Happy New Year.

My boys
       Here's wishing you all the best for a wonderful 2017.

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Baby Chip: Progress Report

Our little Baby Chip is five months old, and at his four month doctor check up last month, he got a clean bill of health.



He's still tiny, but catching up. Went from about 1% overall on the preemie chart to now 20% on the preemie chart. No health issues at all except for the crookedness in both feet that we are doing stretches for. We see an orthopedic surgeon for that next week, but it's a fairly simple issue so shouldn't be a big deal.
 



We are praising God for how healthy our little guy is!

Here's a re-cap of how far Baby Chip has come.
20 weeks (March): Abnormal ultrasound found Baby Chip with short arms and legs, less than 1% bodygrowth, and a clubbed foot.

21 weeks: Specialists' level II ultrasounds confirmed that diagnosis, but found two clubbed feet. Since clubbed feet and small growth are very related to genetic issues, the doctors immediately thought about potentially lethal genetic issues as well as spinal dysplasia.
24 weeks: Specialist found absent bloodflow. Without blood, babies die. The specialists expected to have to deliver a one pound preemie in the very near future.
25-27 weeks: Doctors do a DNA blood test and amnio, preparing me meanwhile that genetic abnormalities, potentially lethal ones WILL be found. Doctors are shocked to find that Baby Chip's DNA blood test and amnio come back with no abnormalities. Bloodflow to Baby Chip is improving, not deteriorating, which puzzles the doctors, but makes us all very happy. The doctors still tell me to be prepared to deliver any time.
29 weeks: A routine bloodtest shows that my blood is attacking Baby Chip's blood big time. From then on out every week (up to 3x a week) the doctors consider giving him a blood transfusion in-utero. Several times we are sent or almost sent to Children's Hospital because the test results show that Baby Chip is very anemic. Every time he improves enough that we can avoid the transfusion.

30-36 weeks: On top of blood issues, Baby Chip is still less than 1%. With doctor appointments up to 3x a week, the doctors are continually talking about when to deliver, and how long they can keep Baby Chip inside. Because of the clubfeet, doctors say that Baby Chip still has a 4% chance of having genetic abnormalities that the amnio failed to detect.
36 weeks 3 days: Doctors induce Baby Chip. He's born at 4lbs, breathing well, but with obvious signs of my blood attacking his. The first physical therapist thinks he has clubfeet.


Baby Chip spends 12 days in NICU for blood issues. The specialists confirm he does not have clubfeet and, after a thorough examination, that he doesn't seem to have any genetic issues either.



 Baby Chip ends up on oxygen, no one's quite sure why, but probably from the combination of high altitude, prematurity, and blood issues.

Through the next three months, he visits the pediatrician at least once a week for blood-draws and gets six or seven blood transfusions and is on oxygen. All that time he is slowly catching up with growth and moves up to the 10% on the preemie chart.

4 months: Clean bill of health, 20% on preemie chart. We stretch his crooked little feet daily, but they aren't clubbed.

The doctors' most recent theory is that there was a massive bleed in the placenta, which caused the blood issues and the tiny growth. That massive bleed somehow improved and that's why Baby Chip was able to stay in until 36 weeks.

Thank you for all your prayers and support on our journey! I don't know if you believe in God or answered prayers, and I can't actually prove that our baby didn't beat all those odds stacked up against him at 20 and 24 weeks by chance.

I can't actually prove that our first son didn't survive his at-birth meningitis with no damage by chance either, though all of Baby Chip's maternal fetal medicine doctors that I told about Joe-Joe were surprised.
 

Still, when one has two healthy little boys in the house who the doctors believed should be dead or greatly delayed, it takes a lot of faith to believe that all happened by chance. I, for one, think the theory that my God intervened in my boys' life makes a lot more sense.



Sunday, November 6, 2016

Election 2016 Inspired Giveaway

         If I have stressed you out this election season with my political posts, I want to apologize. Ok, I take that back. That sounds like a lawyer's apology. Let me try again.
          I'm sure I've stressed you with my political posts this election season and I'm sorry. No matter what side of the aisle you fall on, I'm sure we can all agree that this election has been irksome, disquieting, nerve-wracking, anxiety-provoking, STRESSFUL.
        So I'm offering a multiple copies giveaway of my romantic comedy novella, Plum Pudding Bride. It's short. It's funny. It's set at Christmas time in Colorado, with aromatic greenery and bright red juniper berries. It has a happily ever after where the good guys win and the bad guys get their just deserts.
        In short, it's everything this election isn't and comes with an (almost 100%) gurantee to lower your stress levels. :)

Comment below to enter to win a copy of my novella, Plum Pudding Bride.



Here's the blurb and a short excerpt.

Patience Callahan is twenty-five and fast becoming an old maid. But she’s spent most of her life dreaming over romantic European literature and wants a dashing d’Artagnan, not a bookish Bob Cratchit. Alas, the Colorado town of Gilman’s chock-full of Cratchit’s without a d’Artagnan in sight.
Peter Foote, the general store owner, has been in love with Patience for seven years. But every time he’s on the verge of proposing, she cuts him off; he can only imagine on purpose. This time though, dadburn it, he’s going to go through with it.
Ring in hand, he’s moments from touching knee to floor, when Patience pulls out a list of mail-order bride advertisements and declares her intention of marrying a backwoods stranger on Christmas Day.
He’s got two weeks to change her mind.


The first page of Plum Pudding Bride

         There she was, the girl he’d loved for seven years. And she was sorting preserve cases at his store, as she’d done for the last four years. She stood not six paces from him, and yet so far away.
          Peter’s fingers squeezed the ring box in his jacket. This time he was going to go through with it, no matter if she pointedly changed the subject, or hastily found excuses to be elsewhere, or pushed other eligible young women at him. Dadburn it, today he’d have his answer, a “yay” or a “nay” instead of living in this wretched bog of uncertainty.
         The store had already closed. He just needed to grate the key in the locks while Patience tidied the shelves. The falling winter sun made long shadows on the floor between them. Now she had put down the strawberry preserves and taken an inventory list. She moved towards the mercantile section.
          His heavy boots clomped on the hardwood floor, but his heart clomped louder. His fingers tightened around the red velvet box. It was a white gold ring and a miner’s cut diamond. Size six, as he’d discovered four years ago when he’d stolen her glove.
           Patience’s brown hair twisted back around her ears. She always complained it lay too flat, and said her younger sister teased her about having a mottled complexion. But he’d never seen hair shine like hers, and her soft skin set off brown eyes that possessed a luster no girl in Gilman could match. And her smile. Oh, her smile. She could turn Antarctica into the tropics by just curving her lips.
           A head-high shelf of baking perishables hemmed them in on one side while bolts of fabric made up the other side of the narrow aisle.
          “Patience Callahan, will you,” Peter slid the box out of his pocket, and started to lower one knee to the ground.
           Her gaze flicked to the ring box. “Why, Peter,” she stepped into him, blocking all attempts at kneeling. “I’ve been meaning to tell you my news.”
           Her long fingers were slender. Yet, they could move lickety-split when sorting spools or organizing canned goods.
           “I just received this.” Patience tugged a newspaper clipping out of her pocket along with a small daguerreotype. “This is Arnie Dehaven. He’s a Montana rancher. I’ve answered his mail-order bride advertisement and I’m marrying him.”


Comment below to enter to win. OR buy it now for 99 cents. https://www.amazon.com/Pudding-Bride-Christmas-Holiday-Extravaganza-ebook/dp/B0175P1QZ0


Saturday, October 22, 2016

Neither Pro-Lifers Nor Pro-Choicers Have the Answer

         Since the Trump/Hillary debate moment on abortion, many moms have been sharing their stories about babies who died inside of them during the third trimester, saying that late term abortion laws endanger mothers. Pro-lifers have been responding with insistent demands that pro-life laws are perfectly written as is. I've found the social media debates very triggering because I have a four month old, and those stories so easily could have been me.

My son, Baby "Chip"


         In April of this year, at 24 weeks gestation, the doctors discovered that Baby Chip's umbilical cord  had absent bloodflow. Without blood, babies die. The only solution is an emergency c-section and NICU. One problem, at only 16 ounces, babies often die in NICU.
    The doctors suggested taking Baby Chip out that week and gave him a 1 to 5 chance of survival after months of NICU and probably severe delays from prematurity. Or I could choose to keep Baby Chip inside and he very well might die from lack of blood. I chose to keep Baby Chip inside.
     The waiting was torture. I remember counting kicks, counting movements, and wondering every hour between my often thrice weekly appointments if my son still lived.
      I now have a beautiful four-month-old baby with no delays, so I'm thrilled with my decision. It could have turned out very differently though. Either way, as Baby Chip's mother and a mentally competent person, keeping Baby Chip inside me was my decision to make, not some government board's.
    From 20 weeks to about 27 weeks gestation as doctors ran tests and tried to discover what was wrong with Baby Chip, they often threw out the term "incompatible with life." The point of the tests was to discover if Baby Chip had some sort of genetic abnormality which would make it impossible for him to survive outside the womb. Praise God, the tests showed he didn't have anything like that. The doctors warned me though, that should they discover that Baby Chip was incompatible with life, I'd have to make a choice. Did I want to eke out every hour I could with Baby Chip, or would I let him pass sooner rather than later?
     I had a truly horrid pregnancy, nausea the whole time etc. to the point that I was unable to be present for my 4-year-old or husband the way I should have been. If the doctors told me that Baby Chip was incompatible with life, I may have chosen to induce labor early and let him take his first and last breath at 26 or 27 weeks rather than 40 weeks. Parents of minor children who are critically injured by a car accident, brain dead, and only able to function on life support choose what hour they remove the life support. Don't mothers have the right to choose what hour to remove the life support of a placenta for their dying baby? Under many proposed pro-life laws, they don't have that right.
      Pro-lifers like to think that every abortion is a 40-something-married mom with a healthy baby and an SUV. They like to think that a stroke of a pen will turn a would be baby's death into a Walton family. Pro-lifers would like to believe every situation is like that, because then the choice would be easy.
    On the other hand, pro-choicers talk like every single abortion happens because the mother's about to lose her life from a baby who's dying anyway. They'd like to believe that,  because, if so, the choice would be easy.
      No matter what our political orientation, we make up little lies to eliminate the hard decisions. One pro-choice lie I've heard is that babies don't feel pain. Give me a break. I suffered every day knowing my baby was getting starved in-utero from lack of nutrient-rich bloodflow. I knew he was hungry and suffering and there was nothing I could do about it. It would have been easier for me to believe Baby Chip didn't feel pain, but that wasn't true.
My son in-utero

      A pro-life lie I've heard is that doctors are often, even usually wrong. All the tests will say your baby is "incompatible with life", but actually he'll be born perfectly healthy. An amniocentesis is as accurate as a blood draw, genetically speaking. After the amnio, blood DNA test, and 50 gajillion ultrasounds, doctors knew more about my unborn son, than they did about me after thirty years of doctor visits. It would be easier to believe that all children are born healthy because doctors don't know what they're talking about, but it's not true.
      Another pro-choice lie I've heard is that unborn children aren't really babies. Come on. We've all seen sonograms. Even the pregnant 14-year-olds I counseled who ultimately chose abortion still told me in each therapy session that their first trimester pregnancy was a baby. You're as smart as a 14-year-old. Admit it's a baby. It would be easier to believe that the baby who is complicating a woman's life, perhaps even putting her life in danger, is just a fetus, but it's not true.
      A pro-life lie I've heard is that only life or death matters, not suffering. Let's disregard maternal suffering. You're in a domestically violent relationship and getting hospitalized for abuse?--so what, you're not dead. We don't need to change the laws. Those parental rights we fought for mean a child is getting educationally neglected and yet no social worker shows up? Not my problem. No one's dead. We don't have to make hard decisions to stop this suffering. That's a lie. Even when it doesn't result in death, suffering matters.
        For example, hawkish types often post the death toll of the Iraq war. It's a smallish number compared to a lot of wars. See, the cost of war was small, they say. What about all those missing limbs from IEDs though? Four years ago, I met a man missing both arms and legs from the war. What about those with PTSD? What about those kids who didn't get to see Daddy or Mommy for months and years at a time? What about those marriages which broke because of the war? It would be easier to believe that the cost of war is small, but it isn't. I know war comes at a cost, you see, because I'm a military spouse.
my soldier on our wedding day

         One of the biggest lies I've heard from both the pro-life and pro-choice camp is that life matters because it is innocent. This is why some liberal groups focus so hard on saving the endangered random bird while disregarding troubled teens in foster care. This is why some conservative groups focus so hard on passing laws to save an unborn child while turning their backs on laws which could save the mother whose life is at risk from domestic violence.
         As a mental health counselor, I've worked in jails, sex offender programs, substance abuse recovery, and mental health facilities. In my work, I've rubbed shoulders with some of the least innocent in our society.
          Often times, I'm the one who gets the client who is thinking of suicide and I'm tasked with the job of convincing him or her to choose to keep on living because their life matters. How do I convince this man or woman sitting in front of me that they matter? I'm not presented with a lot of material to work with.
         I can't tell him, "oh, look at all the career rungs you've climbed, that makes you matter." For the last thirty years, he's been living on the streets holding up a cardboard sign.
          I can't tell her, "but think of all the loved ones who will miss you if you die, that makes you matter." She grew up in foster care, her friends are drug dealers, her last three boyfriends beat her up, and the man she sees most often is the pervert next door who pays her for sex.
     So I look into their eyes and I tell them, "you matter because you are you." I mean every word I say. Life doesn't matter because it is innocent. Life matters because it is human and, I believe, made in the very image of an all-powerful God. It would be easier to believe that those who have made bad choices no longer matter so we can just focus on saving the babies and the animals, but it isn't true.
     Even when we see evidence that our little lies are wrong, we cling to them, because they make life easier. Without our lies, life is gruesomely difficult. I wish there were easy answers to the brokenness in this world. I wish I could pass a piece of legislation that would prevent all men, women, and children everywhere from ever experiencing death, pain, or suffering. Newsflash pro-lifers and pro-choicers: no government can do that.
       Suffering, death, and disease will haunt us at every turn in this world. If we're to create a culture of life, we have to first acknowledge that we will often be put into situations where we can't save everybody. We have to accept that and we have to work from that premise to save as many as we can.
      What about people who just genuinely hate other human beings and don't value any life at all, you ask? Those people exist and they are horrid human beings. If you're reading this post though, I don't think you're one of those. I think no matter what side of the aisle you come from, all the pain and suffering in this world hurt you as much as they hurt me.
         If you and I can drop the political labels for a moment, I think we can try to work together for solutions that truly minimize suffering, death, and disease for all people, guilty or innocent, man or woman, unborn or born.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Free Clean (PG 13 or less) Romance Books for Book Bloggers

Book bloggers make the world go around. Or at least they make authors' worlds go around because book bloggers are who post the insightful reviews that allow readers to find authors' books.



One of the perks of being a book blogger is free books. One of the downsides of being a book blogger is a ton of authors asking you to review a book of theirs which you have zero interest in reading.


As an author, I've teamed up with some authors to create a Facebook group geared toward book bloggers who like to read clean-ish (PG-13 or less) romance novels.

Bloggers, want to take control over your review requests and pick the free books YOU want to review? Search no further. In my new group (https://www.facebook.com/groups/192888064470707/), you can look through files of romance novels sorted by subgenre and request the ones you want to review. No being spammed by authors, ever.

The group launched today and we're actively recruiting bloggers. Newer/smaller-audience bloggers very welcome. Check out the group here. https://www.facebook.com/groups/192888064470707/

Friday, October 14, 2016

Anne Garboczi Evans' Colorado Voter Guide

Hey Colorado Voters,

  Been mulling over how you will vote this year? I'm sure you have. Care two cents about what initiatives and candidates I endorse? Well, I'm not so sure about that. :) For what it's worth though, here's how I suggest voting this year.



Amendment T (vote NO!!): This ballot initiative would make it illegal to force those convicted of crimes to do unpaid work. This would likely make assigning community service as punishment and jail work programs illegal. As a counselor who has worked in the juvenile jail system, I believe STRONGLY that community service is a wonderful alternative to jail time. Why make juvenile offenders sit behind bars, falling behind in their academics and making bad friends, when they could be doing something good for their community through community service? Far from outlawing jail labor programs, I think we need a lot more of them. Jail labor programs give offenders job skills that they can use once released, thus lowering the possibility that they will re-offend.
    Honestly, I think the biggest problem with incarceration in America is that it's very expensive for the community and basically just sentences offenders to sit in jail and be bored to death. I would prefer much shorter sentences and much more forced work time so that offenders can contribute to the community and learn important job skills that they will be able to use to better their lives.

Amendment U (vote YES): This amendment would eliminate property taxes for certain properties worth less than $6000. Many say that this will actually save the government money since taxes on those cheap properties cost more to collect, as far as using stamps and paperwork, than they are worth. I'm all for less taxes. Also, I'm reminded of how our insurance sometimes sends us bill notifications for $1.25 or other small price tags. With what they're spending on stamps and paper, our insurance would save money not collecting that bill. So to with county and state governments. Save the trees. Vote YES on Amendment U. :)

Amendment 69 (vote NO): This amendment would get the government more involved in healthcare and raise taxes by an exorbitant amount across the board. As a voter with libertarian leanings, there's no way I'm going to vote for increased government involvement in our lives. And I certainly have no desire to pay a ton more taxes.

Amendment 70 (vote NO): This amendment would increase minimum wage gradually until it reaches $12. I do have sympathy for the arguments in favor of this. It's pretty impossible to support a family on current minimum wage. That said, I have a master's degree and I've often worked for $12 an hour or only a few dollars more. Do those with minimum job skills really deserve the same pay as I do with a master's degree? Also, my libertarian leanings make me want less government involvement in my life, not more. I think what really needs to be fixed in our awful economy is wages for mid-level jobs. That way we can leave the minimum wage jobs for highschoolers who don't need to support a family, and other wage earners would be able to move up the ranks and make a lot more than $12 an hour.

Amendment 71 (vote YES): This amendment would make it more difficult for CO voters to get stuff on the ballot. Sick of reading my voter's guide yet? If so, vote yes on Amendment 71 and next year there won't be near as much stuff on the ballot. :) But seriously, all these amendments on the ballot are to the CO constitution, our governing document. We don't want every voter fad set in stone in the constitution where we can't change it and must live with it forever.

Amendment 72 (vote NO): This amendment raises taxes on cigarettes. Smoking is bad for your health and I wish everyone would quit now. That said, it's mostly the poor who are addicted to cigarettes so this is really a tax hike on the poor. I don't think in this economy we should be in the business of making the poor pay higher taxes.

Proposition 106 (vote NO): Physician assisted suicide for those with only 6 months or less to live. Though I am pro-life, I do understand the appeal of this. These people have a terminal diagnosis. They'd like to live, but they can't. Their only goal is to avoid a little pain. It's not like they're actually choosing to die. Their diagnosis chose that.  I'd be the last person to judge if a patient chose to decline say life support or a feeding tube and allow their lethal diagnosis to go faster rather than slower. That said, should we really get physicians involved in the death business?
          Whether I condone it or not, those with terminal illnesses can already easily take their life if they so choose. (Suicide is all too readily available, as I know as a mental health counselor trying to prevent it.) I don't like the idea of getting physicians involved with the death business at any level. It's a slippery slope from physicians saying here's a pill you MAY commit suicide since you're dying anyway, to physicians saying here's a pill we REFUSE to give you any more medical care because you're dying anyway.

Proposition 107 (vote NO): Restore open presidential primaries, rather than the convoluted caucus system we suffer under now. While I agree that the CO caucus system is supremely annoying, it does save the state money and open primaries are what gave us Donald Trump, (or as my 4-year-old fondly refers to him, Trump the Monster). So no, I don't want open primaries.

Proposition 108 (vote NO): This amendment would allow independents to vote in the primaries of either the R's or D's i.e. make Colorado an open primary state. While I respect the right of independents to take part in the primary process, and I think primary voting is very important, this initiative would cost the state as well as counties hundreds of thousands of dollars. Also, CO voters who chose to register as independents did that knowing they wouldn't be able to vote in the primaries, so I kind of doubt CO independents are all that interested in voting in the primaries anyway. Additionally, may I remind you that open primaries are what elected Trump. :) All in all, though I did like aspects of this proposition, I don't think it's worth hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Federal Senator CO (vote Daryl Glenn, R): I don't like the man. I think he's all "red meat" with very little substance and I disagree with him quite a bit. But I believe in checks and balances and since at this point Hillary winning is pretty much a foregone conclusion, I think we need a Republican house and senate. Just look at how well the country did economically with Bill Clinton as president and a Republican house and senate. Also, given the lousy job congress has been doing, I'm sick of incumbents and ready for some new blood.

7th Congressional District, Federal House of Representatives (vote Athophonapulous, R): I personally dislike Perlmutter (D) since he never answered my emails when I contacted him about foreign policy concerns as a military spouse. I also dislike how he supports foreign aid and basically every government program out there. I'm sorry, but I don't think my tax dollars need to go to a Senate pay raise or to bail out corporate executives who makes hundreds of thousands more dollars than I could ever dream of making. http://www.ontheissues.org/House/Ed_Perlmutter.htm#Foreign_Policy
   George Athophonapulous (R) is an interesting guy. He's the son of immigrants, served four tours in Iraq, and has multiple sclerosis. He says he wants to reduce the size of government and I like that. I'm not sure I like his foreign policy or other parts of his platform, at all. That said, a guy who did 4 tours in Iraq, and is fighting MS, and still has the drive to want to run for office deserves a chance, I think. I'm going to vote Athophonapulous, at least for the next two years. Though I don't like everything he stands for, again I think a R house and senate would be a good check and balance on a Hillary Clinton presidency. Also, ditto what I said about Daryl Glenn and throwing out the incumbents.

CO senator district 19 (vote Laura Woods): I like Laura Woods. I'm her friend on Facebook and my husband has met her. She comes across as a genuinely reasonable and smart person, something we need more of in politics.

Presidential (vote 3rd party):
         I'm not voting for Hillary Clinton because I feel like her actions in the government smack of "pay to play" and corruption and I do not feel she has any concern for our troops. I also dislike her plans to grow the government.
         I'm not voting for Trump because I do not think he has the temperament to be Commander-in-Chief and deal with delicate negotiations with Russia, etc. without turning things into WWIII. I know pro-life vs. pro-choice Supreme Court justices is a huge issue this election year, and is the reason some Republicans who are disgusted with Trump are still choosing to vote for him. While I do consider myself pro-life, I don't think starting WWIII and getting our troops unnecessarily killed can in anyway be construed as saving lives. Additionally, Trump is so all over the place with policy, I don't think anyone knows exactly what he would do. The only position he's stood staunch on for the last five decades is his right to sexually assault women.
     This year I'm voting for whatever third party candidate is polling highest on election day in the hopes that no major party candidate gets a majority of electoral votes and the house of representatives gets to decide.

      Even if you disagree with everything else I've written, I hope you listen to this next part. Please vote. We live in a country that allows us to vote. My husband deployed for a year and missed our firstborn son's first words, first steps, first haircut, and so many other things all so you could have the freedom to vote. Please don't throw it away. VOTE. Vote your conscience. Vote for freedom. VOTE.