The book starts out in Summer. It is moving day for the Maxum family and it is not going well. Everyone is overwhelmed and they all need a time out. A new friendship begins on this day that will last a lifetime.
I focus a lot on Larry, one of the older children in this book. He has some anger issues. How does he learn from his outbursts of anger? Can he learn to change his attitude?
The kids are encouraged to pull pranks by one set of parents. The other parents are divided in the wisdom of pranks that are supervised and where safety is the major issue. They all learn there are consequences to pulling pranks on each other.
There is fund raising for the East Side Soup Kitchen. How good can actually come out of a bad situation.
Of course there is wedding - I don't think I can write a book that doesn't have a love story in it!
There are vacations in Montana. My husband and I traveled to Montana this past year to gather information for this book. The people we met were kind and helpful and even allowed me to put them in the book. Some of the book is set in Traverse City, Michigan. One of our favorite vacation spots. One of the children wants to work there over the summer. But she needs to learn what it means to have good work ethics before permission is granted.
I hope you will love this book as much as I loved writing it. I am in the last phase of editing and have really enjoyed getting to know these characters. Watch for the announcement of publishing. I can't wait!
Amanda yelled down from the top railing of the gleaming oak staircase, "Mom, where are the boxes from my bedroom?" Her mom was in the kitchen in the back of the new house. With the dishwasher running she couldn't hear her daughter.
Amanda screamed louder, "Mom!" Still no answer. She stomped angrily down the stairs, stopping at the landing to yell again. This time with all the pent up anger she felt about moving, she shouted, "Mother, where are my belongings?"
Without waiting for an answer she turned on the landing and ran down the last set of stairs to the entry hall. She randomly started opening boxes and as she rummaged through them, the contents began spilling out onto the floor. Her mom had heard the last yell and as she walked into the long entry hall to see what was wrong. When she saw the mess Amanda was making she gasped, "What are you doing, Amanda Jane? Don't start pulling things out of boxes right here in the front hall."
Tempers were short. Moving day was taking its toll. Mrs. Maxum stopped to regain her composure. She stared out the front door and started thinking about the move. When their fifth child, Timmy, was born it was evident they would have to find a larger home. The only other boy, the oldest, Larry was sleeping in a room no bigger than a closet. The three girls, Amanda, Clare and Joanna were crammed into the largest bedroom which had no place to put a crib. Timmy had been sleeping at the end of the hallway.
Mr. and Mrs. Maxum had talked for a long time about this being the right time to make a change in their lives. They could live anywhere in the Great Lakes Bay Region. They decided to choose from the three larger communities: Saginaw, Bay City or Midland. Mr. Maxum was a teacher at Delta College just fifteen minutes away from each of the main cities.
Mrs. Maxum was startled out of her reminiscing when Amanda started crying desperately as she whined, "I want to find the boxes for my room. I NEED to find my journal." She ended almost in a whisper, "It's a matter of life or death."
Upstairs in the nursery, the baby started crying. Amanda's mom sighed. She was tired and cranky and just didn't have time for drama. She pleaded, "Please Amanda, go get Timmy, change his diaper and then bring him down to feed him some cereal." Amanda glared at her mother as she stomped back up the stairs grumbling to herself, "Oh sure, Timmy, Timmy, Timmy, it is always Timmy." He was the stupid reason they had to move. As she walked down the long upstairs hallway to her brother's room, tears began to run down her cheeks. She hated this move.
Amanda had loved her old home. She had a gazillion friends. She could run the neighborhood for hours using all the shortcuts through the blocks. This new house meant a new school filled with strangers instead of friends. She felt stranded in the house because she didn't even know where she was, afraid she would get lost if she ventured outside.
The front screen door slammed behind six year old Joanna. She ran into the house, out of breath. JoJo, as everyone called her, took a deep gulp of air and exclaimed excitedly, "Mommy, we're here with more boxes!" She loved moving day. It was such an exciting time.
Her mom's voice sounded like she was going to cry when she said, "Go tell Daddy I need help in here before he brings another box into this house." Then as she began picking up the items and putting them back into the correct boxes. She added her own touch of drama as she yelled over her shoulder, "Tell him, I am about to have a nervous breakdown."
Amanda descended the back stairway that went right to the kitchen. She put Timmy in his high chair. When she tossed a handful of Cheerios on his tray she felt something wet on her toes. She looked over by the sink and screamed, "Aaahhh. Mom, the dishwasher's leaking!" Timmy jumped when she screamed and he started crying.
Noreen ran into the kitchen, right past the startled baby to go down the stairs to the basement to turn off the water supply. Talking to herself in a disgusted tone she said, "Oh for goodness sake, why didn't I pay attention to where the water shutoff was before we moved in?" After she finally located the pipes, she turned the faucet off. She ran back up the stairs yelling, "Amanda, don't just stand there grab some towels and help me clean this water up."
There was an angry outburst coming from the bathroom, next to the kitchen. Larry, came out of the bathroom with shampoo dripping from his hair and just a towel around his waist. He exclaimed, "What kind of house did you buy? The water just stopped coming out of the faucet and I still have shampoo in my hair."
JoJo ran back out onto the porch yelling loudly, "Daddy come quick. Mommy is having another nervous breakdown." But she couldn't see her Daddy because he was in the garage getting the handcart. A pretty lady, someone JoJo didn't know, was walking up the stairs to the front porch. She was holding a big plate of chocolate chip cookies in her hands. She laughed as she said, "Well Little Miss, I think you better take me to your mother. I can give her chocolate, it cures a nervous breakdown every time." As she eyed the plate of cookies, JoJo asked the stranger, "Can I have a nervous breakdown, too?" The pretty lady laughed as she handed Joanna a cookie and said, "You don't need to have a nervous breakdown to get a cookie, you’re so cute you get one without all the drama."
"Joanna, who is your new friend?" her daddy yelled over his shoulder as he carried the handcart to the van where he picked up another box to take into the house. He walked over to the porch and the lady introduced herself, " I'm Sissy Castor, I live next door. He said, "Glad to meet you, I'm Sean Maxum. Come in and meet my wife." They walked through the house into the kitchen. On his way he called out, "Noreen, we have a visitor. This is Sissy Castor. She lives next door and she brought us cookies."
Noreen was mortified. She peered up from the floor where she was wiping up the water. She stared at the woman entering the kitchen with her husband. She looked perfect. Perfect hair. Perfect nails. Even perfect chocolate chip cookies. All of a sudden, JoJo noticed the big cardboard box in her dad's hands and exclaimed, "Ooh Daddy, Mama is having a nervous breakdown, no more boxes allowed!"
Noreen self consciously patted her hair as she stood up. She wiped her sopping wet hands on her jeans and extended her hand for a welcoming handshake. With a shy smile said, "Oh my goodness, those look wonderful. I'm Noreen Maxum and I really am having a nervous breakdown." Sissy took in the wet floor, the four children, which included the dripping teenager in a towel, and boxes piled high on every flat surface. She cheerfully answered, "Of course you are, it's moving day."
Sissy helped clean up the water from the dishwasher. She poured two cups of coffee from the coffeemaker on the counter. Sean told Noreen to take a break. He offered to look at the dishwasher and watch Timmy. Sissy agreed whith her new neighbor and directed Noreen to the front porch. They sat on the stairs drinking coffee and eating chocolate chip cookies for a much deserved break. Within minutes they were friends, laughing, sharing chocolate and moving day disaster stories.
Sissy asked, "How many children do you and Sean have?" Noreen looked at her and felt the hairs on the back of her neck stand up. She was used to people making comments about their big family and she usually expected it. She just hadn't expected it today. She firmly announced, "Larry, the wet one from the shower, is a senior in high school. Amanda, whom I am sure you heard screaming in the kitchen, is a sophomore. Clare is in her bedroom, decorating her side of the room. She is in fifth grade. You met sweet Joanna, lovingly called JoJo! She will begin first grade this fall and is the one Clare is trying to keep out of her side of the room. The reason we moved is our darling baby Timmy actually needed a bedroom, he is almost a year old.
Sissy laughed out loud. She saw the startled look on Noreen's face and quickly explained, "I was worried I was going to have to bribe the new neighbors to not move right back out when they met our family. William and I have six children. And I think that maybe they all are about the right ages to become best friends with yours. Jerry is a senior. Sarah and Julie are twins going into Sophomore year. Liz is in sixth grade and Mary in 5th. Our youngest, Timmy, is going into first grade. Having you as neighbors is going to be so much fun!"
Sissy asked why they moved to Saginaw from Bay City. Noreen explained she had been looking forward to the possibility of moving back to her hometown. After looking at several houses, the one they found on Hoyt Street was a dream. It was a beautiful brick home with six bedrooms and four bathrooms. It had a huge front porch and a great backyard. A bonus was that it was only three blocks from the Cathedral where they would go to church and the children could go to school.
Sissy stayed on the front porch a bit longer, but then heard Mary calling for her next door. She told her new friend that she would come help her unpack boxes after lunch and walked back home.
Noreen started thinking again about the decision to move. She and Sean prayed about this decision. Neither of them heard or felt any guidance from God. After several days Noreen said, "William, I think if we go ahead with the move and everything works out okay, then we can assume we are on the right path. We asked, we listened, and neither of us were told not to do it."
Once the house was found, Noreen and Sean decided to have special time with each of the children. That meant one by one each child would go out with them to the park behind their Bay City house to talk. They would listen to each child before making a final decision.
At first, Larry had been angry about the move. It was going to be difficult going to a new school for his senior year. Larry wanted to be a veterinarian. His father's sister, Aunt Nancy, was a vet in Saginaw. When she heard they might move to Saginaw, she offered Larry a job. That clinched it for him, now he was all for the move.
Amanda was going to be a sophomore. She hated the thought of moving. She was a cheerleader. She was on the volleyball team. She had several babysitting jobs. Her best friend lived just down the block. Her parents told her that she could join all the teams she wanted in Saginaw. She would always have her Bay City friends and could make new friends in Saginaw. Amanda told her parents, "I know you really don't care, but you are ruining my life."
It was Clare who really didn't care. She said she did, and she acted like she did, however she really didn’t care. Clare decided that if Amanda was against this move then so was she. Her parents told her that wasn't a good reason to give them for why she didn't want to move. That was just showing loyalty to her sister. While being an admirable thing to do, it wasn't going to persuade her parents. Clare whispered to her mom, "I really don't care if we move, it might be fun."
JoJo loved change. She couldn't wait to be the new girl in school. She asked if she could take gymnastic and dance lessons in Saginaw. Her mother assured her that could happen. JoJo was all for this move. She never had a friend in the neighborhood and she pleaded with her parents to find her a new friend right next door to the new house.
Sweet baby Timmy would be happy no matter where they lived.
Noreen laughed as she recounted the first time they went to see the house there were lots of kids playing next door in the front yard. How she thought their family would fit right in with so many families in the neighborhood.They didn't know those kids were all one family!
Noreen thought how nice it would be to have another big family right next door. One of the reason's they chose this neighborhood was to have their children be able to walk to St. Mary Cathedral school. The Castor and Maxum children could walk to school together. She prayed that Sissy's words about the children all getting along would go from her mouth to God's ears.