Why I Like Winter Just a Little Bit

Written by Kay on . Posted in A Bratt's Life

So—the weather is finally getting colder and everyone around me knows how much I hate cold weather. It makes my back hurt, my knees hurt, and I walk around stiff and all old-lady-looking bundled up in scarves and thick socks, but stop! There is one advantage to cold weather. Something I see that is beneficial. A light at the end of the tunnel, pot of gold, rainbow, all that jazz…

The birds are leaving.

I know this is weird coming from a recovering bird lover. If you’ve been in my house, you’ll see a surprising  amount of bird cages. Heck, right now I’m at my desk and can see 5 without turning my head!

But my bird cages are empty. And so are the cute little bird feeders I hang from my porch and on the tree down by our pond. It’s so mean. I’m like, come on wittle birdies….see what I got…

And what I got is nada. Nothing. For them, anyway.  No more spending my hard-earned dollars on their skanky little beaks.

Why, you ask? Because I’m still not over my bird trauma. Two years later and I still shiver and sometimes have nightmares over my ‘experience’.

So this is the way it went down.

I loved birds at one time. L-O-V-E-D them, I tell ya! So much so that when one sassy little bird mama built a nest under out porch, I was tickled to death. All I had to do was get on my knees and look through the crack and could see the tiny speckled eggs! I was in heaven!

Then we went on vacation. While away, I worried about the little eggs and the sweet birdie mama. Were they okay? Did a snake get them? Would they survive?

We arrived back from our vacation and the next morning I realized I hadn’t checked to see how the eggs were doing. I went out to my porch, knelt down and put my eye to the crack between the decking boards.

Baby birds! Oh my—they were so freaking cute!

They sensed someone only inches from their nest and opened their tiny beaks at me. Feed me! I wished I could! I was so thrilled and felt so lucky that I had a front row seat to watch the baby chicks grow up and leave the nest. I wondered if they were as thrilled as humans when their young fly away, and if their young, like humans, come back when they are hungry and broke? But I finally got my fill of staring at the birds and got back up. It took me a second to get my aching knees under control but when I did, I felt something crawling on my neck.

That was just the beginning.

I reached up and felt lots of somethings crawling on my neck. On my face. In my hair!!

I screamed. Bird lice! Holy crap! I was covered in bird lice!

I ran across the porch screaming like my head was on fire and stripping out of my clothes. I slung open the front door and ran across the living room, losing articles of clothing and screaming until I was bare naked and hysterical—wiping the little suckers off of me.

Straight to the shower I went and stood under scalding hot water until it ran cold, sobbing and clawing at my hair. I poured shampoo, conditioner, Lysol, then more conditioner until my hair resembled something you might see on a Halloween scarecrow. I even considered hooking up electricity and frying the little suckers!

But that was just the first scene.

I got out and did what I always do when I’m freaked out and need to be educated about something serious.

I googled it.

Hmmm…bird lice comes up with quite some terrifying stories. Tales of humans losing their homes, money, and even sanity in their war against bird lice that has invaded their bodies and lives. Tales that had me shaking in my chair and dialing my husband at work to tell him life as we knew it was over. There was no outrunning it, I was doomed.

To see what I mean, you can go here. http://birdmites.org/nightmare.html

But I wouldn’t give up easily. I was taking back my life!

First, Ben was called home to remove the nest of mangy, lice-infested varmints. I wouldn’t let him touch it with his hands, I stood guard while he used a shovel. Because of Peta, I won’t tell you where the birds were relocated but I can say we didn’t hurt them. /snicker

Then I cleaned like nobody’s business. I vacuumed, mopped, scrubbed, scoured, disinfected, you name it. To me and the house.  And for weeks I never relaxed. Ben had to check my head several times a day. He never found a single one after that first shower, but oh, how I tortured him with my pleas to ‘just look one more time!’

I surfed all the nightmare stories online and sympathize with all those who were victims of the horrible disease of bird lice. I kept myself up at night worrying, scratching, checking, cleaning….

But I finally stopped.

Now I just worry about something else.

But I am glad the cold weather is here and our bird population is dwindling.

And honestly, I still have a soft spot for birds. As long as they stay far, far away.

The End–you can go back to your productive day and stop reading the ramblings of a crazy woman now.

 

 

 

Want to Win an Advanced Reader’s Copy of A Thread Unbroken? [Winners Posted]

Written by Kay on . Posted in A Bratt's Life, Contests and Give-A-Ways

If you would like your name to be in the drawing to win an ARC (Advanced Readers Copy) of my latest novel, A Thread Unbroken, before it is even released to the public, please comment below. I’ll draw 10 names on Tuesday, September 18 using Random.org.

If you are chosen, you graciously agree to:

1. Write a review on Amazon for the book

2. After the release date, link to the book on Amazon from your facebook page

ARC’s are usually sent out to magazines, newspapers, authors and blog owners who help promote the book upon it’s release. I’ve put aside 10 copies just for my readers (ie: Facebook friends) as a huge thank you for their support. I wish I had more than 10 but I’ve had to sneak those from my marketing manager..shhhh!

Comment below if you agree to the stipulations and would like to be in the drawing. You can find the book on Amazon at this link to pre-order the Kindle or Print version.

Winners! Okay, after counting backwards and forwards multiple times…I’ve come up with these names as winners: Cassandra Wilson, Amy Aichele, Mia Danielle, Alice Harris, Cherie Jones, Danae Aman Meister, Dennis Wiemer, Sarah Scott, Sandra Dotson Sawwan, Connie Chung. Please email me at Kaybratt70@Hotmail.com so I can match your email address to the one linked to the comment to ensure I have the correct people. In your email, please give me the physical address you would like me to ship the book to. Thanks so much, everyone, for your participation! I wish I had more I could give away!

What’s in Kay Bratt’s Pants?

Written by Kay on . Posted in A Bratt's Life

Anyone who knows me in real life knows they never see me out in public unless I have on the basic makeup, hair decent and real clothes on. However, this week has been tough! I woke up this morning hoping I’d feel better but alas, another storm headache hanging around.

So, after a few hours of work I went to get myself ready to go to town and mail another box of donated shoes to China. I slapped on my face, made my hair presentable, then stood in front of my closet looking for something decent but comfortable to replace the ratty old sweats I was wearing.

After a few moments I realized I just didn’t want to give up my nice, cozy China circa 2003 knock-off Abercrombie sweats, even for an hour. I debated then told myself that no one would possibly notice little old me behind a huge box of shoes anyway. So I kept them on, added some cute earrings just in case, and slipped out to walk Riley. In his undeniable urge to seek out which neighborhood dog had the audacity to pee on our land, he dragged me all around the barn and into the high grass before I finally got all of his 13 lbs of pure muscle under control and back to the house. Worn out from his efforts, I looked down and saw that now not only were my sweats ratty and frayed, they were also now wet at the bottoms. Oh well, if I was going to jump off the deep end of ne’er thee care, I was going all in. I climbed into the car and headed to town.

On the way there, I thought I felt something crawly on my leg. Then I remembered that I had been dragged through high (wet) grass and was convinced not only was it something with multiple legs, but was the dreaded Lyme-infested tick coming to get me and add to my daily bouts of physical discomfort. We’ve thus far this summer pulled approximately two dozen ticks from either the dog or our furniture, and I was sure I had number 25.

I tried to calm myself as I felt a pin-sized lump through the fabric of my China sweats and held it down. Not only was I speeding along on a 4-way at 65 mph, but now I was doing it while isolating the mysterious lump in my pants so that it wouldn’t crawl around and spread more of its Lyme juice on my body. I debated pulling over but then saw a vision of a news clip stating ‘woman freaks over bug and gets run over’. I decided to wait. Then I heard my irritating little buzzer telling me I had emails start coming in and it drove me crazy that I couldn’t check them because being the safety queen I am, I had one hand on the wheel and one hand on the lump, leaving no hands for my handy dandy smart phone. The inability to check my emails added to my escalating tension.

Finally I pulled into the post office, relieved that I was off the road and no longer a potential hazard to those around me. I maneuvered into the only empty parking space in the entire lot, eager to put my car into park so I could somehow look in my pants.

Of course, my luck would have it that the van parked to my right had a cute air con fixit man sitting in the driver’s seat giving me the eye. There was no way I could possibly look in my pants with him watching me. I may be 40(ish), but I’m not dead, ladies.

So I waited.

So did he.

I gave in first and got out, retrieved my box and did the walk of shame right in front of his van window in my shabby, baggy, knock-off sweats.

I was so glad the box covered my face. The tick could wait. I wanted my adventure to be over.

In the post office I got in line and filled out my customs sheet. All the while my mind played a cartoon of an ugly, blood-fattened tick slowly creeping up my leg. Finally, after six people ahead of me, I got to the counter of the slowest post office clerk in the history of slow post office clerks. When he finally finished up and handed me my receipt, I sweetly thanked him and bolted from the building, sure the Lyme carrier was now well on his way to my precious nether region and I’d never find him again.

I breathed a sigh of relief when I saw the air con guy had left. In his spot was an empty pickup truck. I looked around and saw no one paying me any attention. I opened my car door and using it as cover, stood between it and my seat and quickly untied my sweats, opened them widely and looked in.

I didn’t see Mr. Tick so I opened them wider. Now I know that I felt something crawling. I know I did. So I reached into my pants and felt all the way down to where the tick was when I held him against his will all the way to town.

I found that lump and cringing at what I had to do (that was usually the job of my responsible bug-fighting Big Ben), I pulled that tick out of my pants. I had him! I was so relieved! At least until I heard someone clear their throat and looked up to find an elderly gentleman only a foot in front of me waiting to get into the car beside mine, and smiling at me as I pulled my hand out of my pants. I smiled back and casually let go of the waistband of my pants. With a shiver I looked between my fingers to see that Mr. Tick had turned into Ratty Sweats Mr. Lint Ball.

I looked back up at the man and nodded. “Good afternoon.”  I pretended like he absolutely had not just caught me—a nice, southern lady—with my hands in my pants.

I also hoped he’d never read a fiction book in his life and would never match my face to that of Kay Bratt.

A Great Month in July!

Written by Kay on . Posted in A Bratt's Life, How You Can Help A Child

So I’ve been especially busy this month. Besides all the personal (boring to you) stuff that has been going on at our house, I was able to make time to fill my spirit with works that feed my passion.

Earlier in the month I spoke to a women’s group in Peachtree City. We talked about ‘Finding Your Sweet Spot’. I love to give this talk because I had to learn about it the hard way but my journey is a good model for others. I searched for many years for something to fill that empty hole in my heart. When I learned what my gift was (writing), and then found my passion (advocating for children), then brought them together to fulfill a need, (supporting the children of China), I soon found my own Sweet Spot. It is that part of my life that gives me satisfaction. I shared that message with the Peachtree Ladies and in turn, they supported my work by donating dozens of cute onesies to our AOW House of Love in China. Thank you, ladies! (I also got to meet some adorable children as a big plus!)

Then last weekend I got to attend Our Camp China for the second year in a row. Last year I was their guest speaker but this year was even better because I got to work with over 60 children! (Luci in the photo above was super sweet and wanted me to sign her copy of my book!) Anyway.. I was the Service Project Coordinator and helped with many crafts, but my project was helping the children with friendship bracelets. Each child made two identical bracelets; one for their own and one to send in a card to a child in an orphanage in China. This was a great way to help the children learn about needs outside of their own little world, and building compassion in our children will only result in a better future!

Jayme was a pro….she actually helped teach the others how to do the bracelets!

Maggie was my little Origami teacher. She is the craftiest kid I’ve ever seen! I wanted to put her in my pocket and sneak her home with me.

So as you can see, I had a lot of fun. Even with the hours of cutting and knotting thread I couldn’t have picked a better way to spend my weekend. I do hope I’ll see all the same faces next year plus a few more newbies! This year we had families from 12 states…..let’s add yours next year!

I hope you’ve all had a great summer so far.

 

 

Kay Bratt Releases a Children’s Book! Introducing Mei Li and the Wise Laoshi!

Written by Kay on . Posted in A Bratt's Life, Adoption Stories, Contests and Give-A-Ways

Available just in time for Christmas from CreateSpace and Amazon and now on Kindle and soon to be on Nook!

Mei Li and the Wise Laoshi

By Kay Bratt

Illustrated by Monika Vass

Mei Li has just about had it with Cameron’s teasing, and she daydreams of having a fairy godmother. Instead she is granted with a wise old teacher from China who appears at her bedside! With his magic cane and his gentle ways, Laoshi takes Mei Li on an adventure to China and back to the day she was born to show her how her story began. Together they perch on a shaky pagoda and look at the Great Wall of China, a flowing river, and even pandas as the wise old Laoshi guides her through some hard questions she has been holding in her heart. Laoshi teaches Mei Li that a family is not just about who you were born to, but can also be created through the amazing gift of love.

Just in time to wrap and put under the Christmas tree for that special adopted child in your life!

[Buy now at CreateSpace, or Amazon]

..and of course we have to include a giveaway to celebrate what has been one of my most difficult projects yet! So share a link to this blog post on your fb wall and/or website and come back and comment that you did it. Last day to get in the drawing is Friday, Dec 9 @ midnight EST. The winner will be drawn on Saturday, December 10, just in time to get you out the prize of a signed collection of Kay Bratt books. You’ll receive an autographed Silent Tears (with brand ‘spankin new red/white cover), an autographed Chasing China, and of course an autographed Mei Li and the Wise Laoshi with a special note written to the child of your choice.

You will get an extra chance to win for each Amazon review you have written for a Kay Bratt book. Just be sure to alert me in the comment you leave below and tell me which ones you reviewed so I can double check and add your chances!

    

Thank you for your support of Mei Li and the Wise Laoshi!

The Bridge by Kay Bratt released today!

Written by Kay on . Posted in A Bratt's Life, Short Story

The Bridge

A Novella

99 Cents on Kindle!

In present day China, an old woman’s house sits opposite an ancient bridge. Not just any bridge—but a special one because it has always been known as The Lucky Bridge. In olden days it was said that to walk over it during a marriage ceremony, or at the beginning of the New Year would bring the traveler good luck. Because of its reputation, over the years it has also become a popular place for young mothers to abandon their children. What to some may seem cruel is in reality their final gift to their offspring—one last chance to send them off to their new destinies with luck on their side. Jing, an old woman, is the unofficial and often reluctant guardian of the bridge. When no one else will, Jing steps in to prevent the children from frostbite, abuse and hunger, and then she delivers them safely to the orphanage. This has been her routine for many years, but what does Jing do when the latest child, a blind boy, burrows deep into her heart? Read ‘The Bridge’ to see how Fei Fei’s life is changed by the love of a lonely old woman. The Bridge is a short story of 17,000 words, approximately 72 pages. Fei Fei’s character is based on a real orphaned boy that Kay Bratt met during her time in China.

Download The Bridge now on Kindle or Nook

Chasing China has officially released!

Written by Kay on . Posted in A Bratt's Life, Contests and Give-A-Ways

Just Released!

Chasing China; A Daughter’s Quest for Truth. 

Chasing China holds a warm place in my heart, and let me tell you why. Every child character in this book is based on a real child I met, or saw in China. Every description of the orphanage, towns, historical sites, and people are created from memory. Actually, the book is fiction, and the story line is fiction, but it is wrapped around much of the truth I experienced during my years in China. I really, really hope you like it. I feel like a student turning in my thesis and waiting for the professor to declare it worthy–with more to lose because of the emotional investment of my words. For those of you who decide to read it, thank you and I do hope you will consider giving it a review on Amazon, your reviews will help give it a boost. (inside secret…my next giveaway is freaking awesome and review writers…even the less-than-5-star givers!….will have an edge on winning it.. or should I say ‘her’!)

Chasing China; A Daughter’s Quest for Truth: After an episode of prejudice rocks her usually secure world, Mia hops a plane back to the country of her birth to search for details about her birth parents, and confront the feelings of abandonment she has kept buried throughout her life. What begins as a simple tour of the Chinese orphanage where she spent her first few years quickly becomes complicated as Mia fights to untangle the web of lies that is her finding details. As she follows the red thread back through her motherland, she is enamored by the history and culture of her heritage—strengthening her resolve to find the truth, even as Chinese officials struggle to keep it buried. With her unwavering spirit of determination, Mia battles the forces stacked against her and faces mystery, danger, a dash of romance, and finally a conclusion that will change her life. 

Now! To celebrate my release, I am doing a giveaway of an awesome prize! …and it’s simple to enter! Kelly over at Jiayin Designs has offered to give one of her amazing Chinese New Year Rabbits to the first winner.

For the second winner, I’ll give an autographed copy of Chasing China.

To participate:

1. Share about the release of Chasing China by either the “Share” button on fb or posting this link on your fb, blog or Yahoo group.

2. Go to Jiayin website here, look around and decide which is your favorite Jianyin item.

Then come back here or to the facebook thread and comment that you have shared about Chasing China and tell us your favorite Jiayin item, then you are in!

Drawing will be held Wednesday, November 9. Good Luck and thank you so much for your support as I wrote Chasing China! For your own copy, you can find Chasing China at this Amazon link. The Kindle version is at this Kindle Link. Nook can be found at B&N site.

A Favorite China Moment

Written by Kay on . Posted in A Bratt's Life

Lately I’ve been much too busy to write any new blog posts so I’ve decided to repost one of my old ones from my Blogger site. Enjoy!

Communication barriers can get quite amusing. I remember one specific encounter, which will always remain in my mind as one of my favorite “China Moments”.

At the veterinarian’s office, I asked my driver to come in to assist with translating. At that time, my Mandarin was mediocre at best, and I definitely had not studied any medical terms that would relate to animals. My driver would much rather stand outside and smoke but he reluctantly followed me through the old, rickety door to the busy office. Much faster than could have happened in an American clinic, we were shown to the doctor’s exam room.

Dr. Cao was nervous to have a foreign customer and fluttered about the room as if he had consumed one too many cups of Green Tea. Something about the shiny black hair, super-thick eyeglasses and long, supposed-to-be white lab coat reminded me of Jerry Lewis. To add to his already comical presentation, his wandering left eye made it very difficult to pinpoint exactly what or where the sweet-natured young doctor was looking at. Getting right down to business, the doctor gave the pup a quick once-over.

Max, my puppy, was very sick and between the Chinese/English dictionary, my driver and the small amount of English the doctor knew, we were doing okay with our interaction. However, towards the end of the examination, things got complicated.

Trying to be resourceful, the veterinarian pointed to the word specimen in the book and told me to bring it in the next day.

“What kind of specimen?” I asked my driver to ask the doctor.

The doctor looked very perplexed and thumped the word specimen in the tattered dictionary one more time, obviously believing the more he pointed it out, the easier it would be for me to understand.

(Things were about to get embarrassing for the clueless American and the frustrated doctor.)

“Does he want poop or pee?” I just came right out and asked my driver, trying to maintain a serious face and a strong hold on my wiggly puppy. I wanted to be sure; after all, it is not easy to get a specimen from an animal!

My driver’s English vocabulary was also lacking in bodily function verbage, so he translated for about five minutes to the doctor. (How do six words take so long to convert to the Chinese language?)

The doctor struggled to think of the correct English word, but after an unsuccessful attempt, he snatched the puppy from my arms, flipped it around, jerked up his tail and pointed to his little butt. “From HERE,” he said with total exasperation.

He stomped away, probably wishing that when Waiguorens decide to use his services, they would at least attempt to learn the language!

Do Not Worry!

Written by Kay on . Posted in A Bratt's Life

 

Over the last few years I have been invited and accepted many speaking engagements. It is always hard for me to get up in front of people to tell the story of my time in China. However, that was a promise I made to the children I knew and loved–that I would tell their stories, so whenever I consider declining I remember that vow and go through the fear and anxiety all over again. (Public Speaking….who likes that??)

This weekend I was the guest speaker at Camp China in Black Mountain, NC. The drive up was just Ben and I and it was a great three hours to just talk and enjoy the scenery. Once there, we checked in and unpacked and then wandered around to explore the campus.

The site has over 100 years of history and boasts beautiful mountain views, ancient trees and original housing structures. Robert E. Lee was the biggest connection to history and if the walls could talk, oh–what a story they’d tell.

We got the opportunity to see the children enjoying the evening, watching a movie and some just playing in the outdoors. Parents were practicing Chinese knot tying and calligraphy, so intent they were! The whole place had a feeling of joy lingering around.

As night fell, I became more and more anxious thinking about my presentation scheduled the next morning at 9;15. Though I have spoke many times in front of big groups, this is the first time to direct my story to so many adoptive parents of Chinese children. As hard as it is for me to tell it, I knew it would be harder for them to hear parts of it. I obsessed and worried over which stories to revisit, or which ones would be too painful for them, and how they would accept the way I explained some of the things I saw. By nightfall, I had worked myself into quite a nervous state and we retired to our room.

The room was cute in the way we felt like Ricky and Lucy in our matching beds.  (I thought about moving the nightstand and pushing the beds together but the thing was bolted to the wall!)  Ben wasn’t bothered, though. Much to my dismay, he quickly went to sleep. [It’s camp so there was not a television and we could not get wifi so his Ipad was useless–sleep was the only thing he had to do.]

I, on the other hand, took the time to go over notes and review what I would present. I really wanted to get to sleep early, because it had been a very long day including a long drive. However, four hours later my mind was still reeling with what to say and what not to say! I could not go to sleep, even with a mild OTC sedative. (A few times the snores from the other bed almost prompted me to try smothering sweet hubby with a pillow as punishment for his easy release into sleep..)

Earlier in the day when we were unpacking our car, I had grabbed a few small torn bits of paper from the very back of the car to use as bookmarks for the excerpts I was going to read aloud during the presentation. They were two pieces of white paper with red polka dots–I assumed something Amanda had left from school. These slips were moved back and forth as I continued to change my mind about the best excerpts to use, they almost appeared to have feet of their own as they hopped back and forth between chapters.

As I lay in bed for the 4th hour with no sleep, one of those slips fell out of the place I had marked. Grrr! Which one had I chosen last? Now I’d have to go back over the whole entire presentation in my mind to refresh my now feeble memory. I picked up  the slip and noticed it was actually folded over. As I grumbled about my weary but unyeilding brain, I unfolded the slip and this is what I found inside:

Matthew 6:34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

I laughed and joked with God for a few minutes, closed the book and put away my notes. Twenty minutes later I was asleep. This morning I awoke feeling refreshed and ready to take on the day. The presentation went very well and yes, there were tears from me as well as the parents in the crowd. There were also smiles at the ‘good’ things I relayed to them. My words came naturally, as they usually do when I hand it over to the one who wants me to give the message anyway.

I reminded everyone that my story is that of one group of children from one specific orphanage and may not have been anything like what their children experienced. After over two hours of talking with them, I walked away feeling as if I made a lot of new friends and a few more advocates to educate others about institutional care in China. If we can help one child—it is worth all the anxiety I needlessly heap upon myself.

And from now on, I’m putting that polka dotted slip of paper under my pillow the night before an event and in my pocket when I stand behind that podium.