Sparkly Green Earrings: Catching the Light at Every Turn

Sparkly Green Earrings: Catching the Light at Every Turn

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by Melanie Shankle

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“There is really no better indicator you’re a mother than acquiring the ability to catch throw-up in a plastic bag, disinfect your hands, and immediately ask your friend to pass the beef jerky as you put on another Taylor Swift song and act as if nothing has happened.”This is the type of insight Melanie Shankle offers in this quirky memoir of

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“There is really no better indicator you’re a mother than acquiring the ability to catch throw-up in a plastic bag, disinfect your hands, and immediately ask your friend to pass the beef jerky as you put on another Taylor Swift song and act as if nothing has happened.”This is the type of insight Melanie Shankle offers in this quirky memoir of motherhood.Written in the familiar, stream-of-consciousness style of her blog, Big Mama, Sparkly Green Earrings is a heartwarming and hilarious look at motherhood from someone who is still trying to figure it all out. Filled with personal stories—from the decision to become a mother to the heartbreak of miscarriage and ultimately, to the joy of raising a baby and living to tell about it—Sparkly Green Earrings will make you feel like you’re sitting across the table from your best friend. A must-read for anyone who’s ever had a child or even thought about it.

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Tyndale House Publishers
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Sparkly Green Earrings

Catching the Light at Every Turn
By Melanie Shankle

Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.

Copyright © 2013 Melanie Shankle
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-1-4143-7171-9

Chapter One

Death, Taxes, & Motherhood

I ALWAYS ASSUMED I'd have a child someday. Like death and taxes and Barbara Walters, it seemed like an inevitable part of life. But I can't remember the exact moment Perry and I decided it was time for us to bring our own little person into the world.

However, I can guarantee we didn't put nearly as much thought into it as we probably should have. I mean, it's a person we're talking about. We were making the decision to create and then raise a human being. Which is much different than a dog, despite all those well-meaning people who compare their experience of raising a puppy to having a baby.

And, by the way, I was that person. It makes me want to go back in time and gouge out my own eyes when I think of how many times I compared my best friend Gulley's stories of sleepless nights with her newborn son to my own harrowing tales of getting out of bed to let our puppy, Scout, outside to go to the bathroom.

Yes, that's the same.


I think Perry and I both had the same perception of parenthood—something along the lines of "How hard can this be? After all, we've raised a puppy." Which is probably the same thing Cujo's owner thought. And we all know how that turned out.

But if I really think hard (which is something I try not to do very often), I'd say the whole baby thing began as Perry and I drove home from a beach vacation one day in June 2001. We'd just spent three glorious days at the beach, fishing and reading and doing whatever other relaxing pastimes we used to do prior to becoming parents. I'd give you all the details, but this isn't that kind of book.

We had the windows down and the Beastie Boys turned up loud. (Don't judge. Beach vacations mean the Beastie Boys to me. It's who I am. A child of the eighties. You've got to fight for your right to party.) We were a couple of tanned, relaxed fools listening to bad rap music.

Then my cell phone rang. I turned down the music and flipped open my phone. Because this was back in the days of yore when phones still flipped open and were incapable of telling you how well you slept the night before or what you needed to buy at the grocery store or how many steps you took that day.

(I read somewhere about a guy whose wife whispered, "Mark of the beast, mark of the beast," every time he used his iPhone to get directions and it was able to pinpoint his exact location.)

(Don't think about that too long or it will freak you out.)

Anyway, I opened my phone, and Gulley greeted me with, I m pregnant!

Immediately I felt tears sting my eyes. My heart did some kind of weird flip that on second thought may have actually been my arteries hardening up, courtesy of my steady vacation diet of various forms of processed snack foods.

I wasn't shocked to hear she was pregnant. After all, I'd been with her the week before and watched her devour an entire plate of triple-cheese enchiladas, which totally aroused my suspicions. That day she'd said it was too soon to know for sure if she was pregnant but admitted it was a possibility.

Three-cheese enchiladas plus a bowl of queso seemed to indicate there was a good chance a baby was looking for some calcium to build strong bones and some fat to build chubby, edible baby thighs.

I was right. She was pregnant, and I couldn't have been happier for her. But in my happiness there was this twinge of loneliness or sadness or some other emotion that I couldn't nail down. I mean, this was Gulley. My very best friend in the entire world. The person I'd shared a ten-by-ten room with all during college. The person who has loved me through all my ups and downs, who has seen me laugh the hardest and cry the most and encouraged me in everything from my faith in God to getting my bangs cut. The person who has known me since we believed there was no finer outfit in the world than a pair of plaid walking shorts with a denim shirt and some loafers. Worn with socks.

We've been together since the days we'd nail a beach towel over the window so we could nap all day before going out all night. College: it really is where idiots are born. Or at least where they thrive.

Now I was afraid she was moving on to exciting new things without me. We'd managed to get married within a month of each other. Probably because God knew we'd each need the other one to talk about all the things we didn't know about marriage, such as HUSBANDS EXPECT DINNER. But now she was headed toward full-on adulthood in the form of becoming someone's mother. She was moving on to things like wearing jeans that went all the way past her belly button and discussing the merits of different types of fruit snacks for school lunches.

(Considering that was my perception of motherhood, it should come as no surprise that it took me five years of marriage to even consider it.)

(Having a dog doesn't require any of those things.)

(Although Scout will eat a fruit snack, if the opportunity arises.)

I hung up my phone, looked at Perry, and announced, "Gulley's pregnant." He took his eyes off the road and glanced over at me, and I watched the color drain from his face. "You want one, don't you?" he said.

"I don't know. I haven't really thought about it. Maybe. I don't know," I answered. Which was all a total lie. The truth was I had thought about it. I'd thought about it a lot, and I knew I wanted a baby. Most likely a bunch of them. I may have even had a list of baby names prepared. I was ready to move on to the next phase in our lives.

My eyes must have conveyed my real answer because all of a sudden he said, "I feel like I'm going to throw up. I may need to pull over and throw up."

What can I say? I married romance.

It's safe to assume that the last hour of our trip was much quieter than the previous stretch as we tried to ignore the enormous elephant that had just dropped between us onto the console of the car.

For the next few months we engaged in the occasional conversation about having babies and listed all the pros and cons—and then September 11 happened, and it seemed like a bad time to bring a baby into the world. Especially because Perry went into some kind of mode like he was a contestant on Survivor and we had to do things like stockpile bottled water and cans of Vienna sausages in our garage. Although, let's be honest—I would rather die in some apocalyptic event than eat meat that comes from a can.

* * *

And then came the day in January when I drove to Austin to be with Gulley while she delivered the most beautiful red-haired baby boy I'd ever seen. It didn't matter that her epidural didn't work the way it was supposed to or that I heard her actually growl when her husband had the poor judgment to enjoy a stick of beef jerky while she worked through a contraction. All that mattered was the barrel-chested, impossibly pink little boy in the nursery who made all the other babies seem sickly by comparison. All I could think was, HOW CAN I GET ME ONE OF THOSE?

But in spite of my fever for the babies, I knew we'd need to wait a little longer because we'd already committed to chaperone more than a hundred high school students on a spring break ski trip, and then we had plans to travel to Sicily with my parents so I could see the land of my ancestors. These are what you call first-world problems. Oh, we can't have a baby right now because we have to go to Colorado and ski and then go to Italy to tour Saint Peter's Basilica.

Looking back, I think the funniest part of all this is that we were under the illusion we were in control. That a baby would happen on our timetable, like we were a couple of fertile magicians pulling a rabbit out of a hat.

As it turned out, that wasn't exactly what God had planned for us. Yes, we would become parents (otherwise this would be a short book), but our path to getting there was harder and filled with more heartache than we'd counted on. I guess in a way it became our first lesson in the realities of parenthood. Which is to say, it can make you feel like a monkey in a windstorm.


Excerpted from Sparkly Green Earrings by Melanie Shankle Copyright © 2013 by Melanie Shankle. Excerpted by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Beth Moore
Profoundly insightful, witty and relatable. . . . Relish this ride— you won’t be sorry you took it!

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Sparkly Green Earrings: Catching the Light at Every Turn 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 55 reviews.
DebbiC More than 1 year ago
I am not much of a reader- but polished this off in one "sitting." God makes some people authors....and after reading this, it is clear to me that Melanie Shankle is one of them. My only complaint? this should have come with a pair of Depends and a box of Kleenex.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I loved every second of reading this book! I laughed and cried, all the while nodding and actually saying "YES!" out loud! It made me thankful for motherhood, and I didn't want it to end! My only question is - when is the next book coming out? 
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
As a long time fan of Melanie's blog, I was so excited when I found out she was getting a book deal and anxiously awaited the day it would be available for purchase.  And I was not disappointed. I was moved to laughter, to tears, and to tears through laughter as I journeyed through each chapter. Her wit and candor regarding motherhood were both delightful and refreshing.  She makes me want to move to Texas and sustain on a diet rich in friendship, love, laughter, the Holy Spirit, and queso.  I was encouraged as a wife, mother, and woman by her story.  Devoured it one sitting!  I hope this book will be followed by many others!
iblog4books More than 1 year ago
I'm not a mother, and I don't know if or when I ever will be. However, Sparkly Green Earrings still resonated with me. Yes, it's a book about "motherhood," but it's so much more than that. It's really about relationships and friendships and trusting God when we don't know why things happen like they do. It's about growing up and growing out of our selfish tendencies so that we become more like Christ each and every day. Melanie has a special gift for writing about her personal life experiences in a way that still strikes a chord with readers. I found my eyes misting over as she talked about her miscarriage, and then mere paragraphs later (not even the next chapter!) I was guffawing loudly enough for Hubs to roll over and ask what was wrong. (I have GOT to stop reading in bed after my husband has already fallen asleep!!!) This is an incredibly charming book, one I am happy to recommend! [5 stars]
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I adore this book and was so sad to get to the end. Melanie's writting is so honest and pure. She will have you laughing out loud through most of this book.
JennyinTexas More than 1 year ago
This book will make you laugh and cry, especially if you have a daughter. You feel like you are sitting and sharing mommy horror stories with a girlfriend over a cup of coffee, yet at the end you both know you wouldn't trade it for the world. This book is heartwarming, honest, and so very relatable. This would be a great gift to a friend who has a little girl. It's very encouraging and also a very quick read. The chapter are short and easy. Would be great for the beach or a plane ride. 5 stars for sure!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is hilarious and heartwarming. I read it in just a few hours. Mothers to young children will relate to the stories she shares about raising her young daughter.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
HILARIOUS and Heartwarming!! Melanie does a beautiful job of making the mundane aspects of motherhood funny and touching at the same time. Thanks for sharing your heart, your story and your faith with us!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book was inspiring and it gives me the courage to face motherhood with an open mind and heart. It is relatable to any one who is a mother. Tears and laughter come for free with this book!
KJT37 More than 1 year ago
I can't recommend this book enough. Such and easy read...I laughed out loud, I cried, and I was so sad to see it end. Can't wait for the next one!
StephW73 More than 1 year ago
I cried just reading the back cover of the touching and heartfelt!  A must read for any Mama.  Mel, aka Big Mama, is able to put into words all of the emotions we mothers experience.  As with her blog, you will double over with laughter and cry tears of joy.  Can't wait for the next book!
Hstull More than 1 year ago
This is a must read! What a great story for all moms to read.  I have been a fan of her blog and was very excited for her upcoming book and she delivered.  I laughed and laughed and loved the lessons within the story.  So excited to read again.
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rlighthouse More than 1 year ago
Sparkly Green Earrings is a great book on parenting! I loved this book and often found myself laughing at something that had happened in the author's parenting journey.  This book took an honest and hilarious look at the author's parenting journey of her  young daughter and life's many adventures that come with a small child.
KLJ25 More than 1 year ago
A funny, laugh-out-loud book about trying to get pregnant, her pregnancy & daughter's birth, being a work-outside mom & then a stay-at-home mom. Her comparisions are hilarious (staying at home morning vs. visiting doctor offices morning for example). It's a bit over the top so I will wait a bit to read her next book. Her faith in God, letting go of the idea of having control of her life, comes through clearly which was interesting.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Truly loved every single page of this book! I did not want it to end! Melanie truly takes you on a journey throughout her life! You will fall in love with being a parent, a spouse and a lover of God :) soothes the heart and soul!
ShareeS More than 1 year ago
Sparkly Green Earrings is a tremendous book! The writing will make you seriously laugh out loud, cry and then laugh again. Melanie Shankle has an incredible way of making the everyday life of a mom extraordinary. This is a book I’d buy for every mom-to-be, new mom, and experienced mom from this time forward. It’s a joyful journey into motherhood. There were many times I had to read entire chapters to my husband because he wanted to know what was making me laugh so hard! She always brings her analogies back to the heart of God and makes each story applicable to every women longing to live for Jesus. I absolutely loved it!
Nicnac63 More than 1 year ago
Hmm…this is a tricky one… On one hand I liked this book—for the sweet, tender moments, and the humor. On the other hand, I felt the author harbors resentment and disappointment.  I read to be uplifted and entertained, which this book did in places, but there were many instances where I felt the entertainment value was overshadowed by negativity and whining. Because of this, I didn’t finish the book.  I’ve heard great things about this author/blogger, but this particular read didn’t do much for me.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I laughed and cried as i read this book in the middle of the night while feeding my daughter ! It was just what t i needed to read in those first few hard weeks and months of new motherhood , and i reccommended it to all my friends !
tatormc More than 1 year ago
Read as part of the Tyndale House Summer Reading program and I loved it! A must read for all moms because it's relatable and a great laugh.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Virginia76 More than 1 year ago
Melanie Shankle, author of the Big Mama blog, wrote this book about motherhood. It's an easy read and full of crazy tales about her family. I thought this book was a lot of fun to read. I haven't read the author's blog, but I'll have to check it out.