Saturday, December 31, 2011

Fun Friday

I rarely post movie reviews here.  (OK, it's been a while since I've even posted a book review but I am feel confident in saying that this is the first time I've posted a movie review.)

You don't even need my review:  it is hard to go wrong with a film produced by Steven Spielberg.  If you have kids, especially bored kids at home over Christmas break--check this one out.

If you have a teenaged daughter who will not get out of bed if the clock has not yet flipped to "p.m" and two boys who are UP and READY to do SOMETHING in the morning, even if it is a cold, rainy day (especially if it is a cold, rainy day) you might consider going to the movies and you might consider "Tin Tin."

I'd never heard of Tin Tin until I was in my twenties.  I am not a big comic book aficionado but an old friend was shocked that I'd never even heard of the comic and presented me with a copy of "Tin Tin and the Red Sea Sharks."  I read it.  It was good, as far as comics go but again, I'm not a huge comic book fan.  

The movie trailer excited my boys and reminded me of good friends and a good comic book I had...somewhere.  So this morning, the boys and I headed off for a Spielberg/Herge adventure.  We had the (11:30 showing) theater to ourselves and it was great!  The boys loved the movie and it reminded me of an animated Indiana Jones movie.  Not a bad way to spend a rainy Friday morning.  Not bad at all.

As a bonus, I found that lone comic book and my son was reading it in bed before falling asleep a few minutes ago!

Monday, December 12, 2011

Food for thought

I just logged on to begin a post about inspiration at this time of year and found this one--still sitting in my drafts from the week after Thanksgiving.  It appears that I have been working on the same idea for a month now.  (I'll post the new one tomorrow).  Happy Monday!

I pray; I attend church; I find the Bible fascinating though I'll admit I don't open it on a regular basis.  I have taken enough women's bible study classes to know that I would not care to attempt what this woman did.  Sure--I could try but it would be like trying to sit through algebra class again.  You know, it would be HARD.

During a recent homily, a priest suggested we treat Advent more like Lent.  (He admitted he did not expect anyone to find this Homily popular.)  Rather than enjoying the Christmas season now, he suggested we use it as a time of preparation, contemplation and repentance.  Then, on Christmas Day we would be ready to celebrate the birth of Jesus and continue to celebrate for the following eight days.  (His suggestion to the children that they request presents for eight days in a row DID seem a bit more popular!)

Finishing my book is important--to me.  The universe has bigger issues to worry about.  You have bigger concerns.  The book is important to me but not as important as family.  More interesting but not as important as getting dinner on the table tonight.

I knew completing a NaNo novel this year would be nearly impossible but absolutely impossible if I did not try.  I quickly decided to use NaNo as a way to get many more needed words into the WIP I am revising and watch the little blue bar move to the right, at the same time.  Even with that cheating mentality, I did not get enough words into the WIP let alone start a new project.

This time of year is busy enough.  Every year I say I need to let something go but end up doing everything halfway.  So I took the laptop with me on a trip to Florida for Thanksgiving with my kids.  (I had a fantasy about leaving my kids with their cousins and finding a Starbucks in my hometown.)  Instead, I let my son play games on the computer (the one computer he is never allowed to touch) and watched my youngest play in the dirt.  Aside from my son's time on the laptop, it was a mostly unplugged, unscheduled weekend with family.  It wasn't perfect but it was perfectly good.  Twenty years from now, my son won't remember if I finished my book this year or not but he might remember playing football with his cousins in the yard.  He will remember the pie.  Sweet Mercy, there were so many different delicious pies!

I have worked on the WIP.  It still isn't done.  It is not ready but it is better.  I am learning to slow down and listen more (and if a main character in the book learns that lesson along the way as well, that's just gravy).

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Be careful what you ask for!

I asked for help.

I have three good kids but the older two have perfected the art of selective hearing.  They hear what they want, when they want.  The youngest simply thinks that every word that anyone says is always directed at him.  (He's the youngest, he is cute, why would you be talking to anyone but him?)  None of this is new, of course, but I don't have the best memory and forget to take all factors into account before I start my rants.

I've been complaining about the lack of help rather than simply requiring my kids to help.   I've been telling middle son he must fold laundry before he can play video games.   They know what needs to be done but won't do it unless asked.  Or, in my daughter's case, she needs it in writing!  (If I give her a list, with boxes she can then check off, she will do the chores.  Not on the list?  Not going to get done.)

After lunch, I told my youngest to go upstairs and I would be right there to read him a story before his nap. "No," he said.  "I am going to do laundry."

Funny.  Cute.  Sweet.  "Go upstairs and I'll be right there," was all I said. 
Unfortunately, I have taught my children that "I'll be right there" means they have at least three minutes, probably more.

So by the time I got up there, he was in his room.  He didn't want to take a nap but he was where I asked him to be.  We read a story, I kissed him goodnight and as I reached the door, he yelled, "Wait!  Can you bring my hamper back into my room?"

"Your hamper?  It's over..."

Hmmm.  Not there.   "Where is your hamper, buddy?"  Oh.  It hits me as I ask.  "Is it in the laundry room?"

"Yes!  I was doing laundry."

Indeed he was.  Blue liquid was pooled on my laundry room floor, spilled after he put some in the machine with his dirty socks, pjs and the dirty towels.  He can't read yet so he just turned the knob until it got to a spot he liked and turned it on.  Turns out he picked the stain fighting cycle, which takes over two hours. 

I received help.  And in another hour or so, I am going to have some super-clean towels! 

Friday, November 11, 2011


A college roommate used to remind me to "make a wish" every time the clock read "11:11." I had never heard of such a thing before but now I do it often (and think of her each time)!  Today, on 11/11/11 my wish is that each and every service member returns home safely--and soon.

When I was young and stupid, I declared that I would never marry a military guy.  I grew up in a warm town near three naval bases and I knew there were only two things in life that I would never do:
1. Become a military wife.
2. Live in any location where it got cold enough to snow.

So I left home to go to college, met a guy with an ROTC scholarship and while the Army paid for him to go to medical school, I married him.  He graduated and I became the wife of an active duty service member who, later, was assigned to Alaska.

I had my first child at an Army medical center and thought that "nervous" or "apprehensive" would be good terms to describe how I felt about having so many residents--most no older than me--coming and going, in and out of my room.  I didn't realize that only a few short years later, each one of them would have a chance to assist laboring women in Iraq and Afghanistan.  That sounds a tad more nerve-wracking.

Two of my children were born at that medical center.  They saw men and women in uniform every day for the first few years of their lives.  My daughter would yell, "Daddy!" and point at some man in uniform every time I took her to the PX or commissary.  These were approachable heroes--my kids were impressed but not afraid.

Those soldiers put on a brave face before each deployment and a happy one upon each return.  Of course they are afraid but they do not show it--the definition of courage.  With the possible exception of one soldier.  He was young, obviously new to Post, far from home, trying to find his way around the PX when a toddler in pigtails grabbed his leg and yelled, "Daddy!"  I'm pretty sure I saw a flash of fear, that day.

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

All a-twitter

I was hesitant to join Twitter.  I waste spend too much time on facebook and was afraid that I would get sucked into twitter, as well.  I was right.

I thought it was cool that I could follow anyone, including other writers.  I can follow writers I have met, writers I have not met, even writers that I have apologized to while getting a book signed while explaining I'm not really a stalker.  But now?  Writers are following me!  (Even writers who have said that I am so not a stalker and that she kind of enjoys having fans!)

Monday, October 31, 2011

NaNo or No?

It's that time of year again!  Gearing up for Halloween, my youngest's birthday, Thanksgiving and...NaNoWriMo!

For my non-writerly friends: NaNo is National Novel Writing Month, in which in a frenzy of frenetic writing, you attempt to compose 50,000 words in 30 days.  (See?  I'm already warming up, using wordy phrases rather than simple explanations like, "you write fast.")

One of the highlights of the SCWW conference was finding an agent who likes the idea of my book.  I pitched him the basic story, he asked several follow up questions and said he would be interested in reading  the first 30 pages -- after the book is closer to 90,000 words and "good."  Which means I still have at least 10,000 to 15,000 "good" words to write.

I did not meet my 50K goal for NaNo last year but did begin a new novel that I love.  Unfortunately, that one is still languishing in my hard drive at 30,000 words.

Can I write a novel in 30 days?  No.
Can I write 50,000 words in 30 days?  Yes.

Should I sign up for NaNo?  Probably not.  I just have a hard time resisting, even if it is just for that blue status bar and the pure joy I feel watching it creep to the right.

I'm not really from here

My backyard backs up to a corn field.  I live in Orville Redenbacher's home state.  I have no idea how long an ear of corn can last before, you know, things fall apart.

grasshopper largerMy son has to build a grasshopper for a science project.  (Each student has to research an insect, write a report and build a model).  We were thinking of using an ear of corn to make the grasshopper but my daughter reminded me that it will sit in a display case for "a while."  I have no idea how long that grasshopper would survive on display before it began to deteriorate.   I feel like I should know.

Looks like we're going with Plan B.  Or C.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Back to work

The good news is: I can still be taught!

The SCWW conference is over and I am ready to get back to work!   I knew the book was not perfect but I went to the conference anyway, knowing I would still learn a lot.  I signed up for a critique, query and pitch.  I was most afraid of the pitch.  When people ask what my book is about, I tend to ramble...

(If I could get the idea across to you quickly, I'd write short stories, right?)  Wrong.

While much of the information put out at conferences can be found on various websites or in countless books, it can sound different when you hear it.  Thank God I took Chuck Sambuchino's class on Friday afternoon.  When he said, "For those of you pitching at this conference..." I sat up and listened.  He talked about summarizing your book in one sentence.  (I couldn't do it then but I'm getting better.)   He went on to say that the second paragraph in your query letter should be about 3-7 sentences.  That paragraph should be your pitch when you sit down in front of an agent.  I heard the lightbulb click.

I learned many other useful things in that hour and fifteen minutes.  (There was more but I had to leave for a critique.)  I took those suggestions and reworked, revised and rehearsed my pitch all over again. It worked.  The agent requested 30 pages!

Of course, anyone can have an idea.  That doesn't make me a writer.  This same agent was not blown away by my first two pages in another seminar but now I have a second chance to impress.  I have recognized that I was not just rambling about my book before--I was rambling in it, as well.

None of this is a guarantee that anything further will ever happen with this book but it is a step forward.
I was going to skip the conference this year, knowing the book wasn't completely right, yet.  I was going to skip the pitch, out of pure and simple fear.  I went and was inspired and challenged.  If only I hadn't been too shy/embarrassed to offer to buy Chuck Sambuchino a drink at the bar, to thank him for the helpful advice!  Maybe that will be my goal for the next conference...

Friday, October 07, 2011

Olly olly oxen free!

My three-year-old still puts his hands over his eyes so that you cannot see him. He puts his head under pillows and, every Tuesday and Thursday, puts his head inside the back of my shirt as he walks into preschool.  (I have to spin rather quickly to "find" him!)  His actions are cute but not are not effective means of hiding.

I started this blog under a pseudo-anonymous name.  I thought if it didn't turn out too well, or if I posted something I shouldn't have, only a handful of people would really know it was me.  Over the years, I've shared the link in a few places so now it comes up as soon as you Google my name.  This was not an effective way to hide.

I say I need a critique group but I don't do the work to find one or start one.  It has been so long now--I hate to admit to anyone how long it's been since I have participated in such a group but waiting a little longer is not an effective solution.

Earlier this week, I impulsively commented on a facebook post from a local bookstore.  This store happens to be my new favorite place to sit and write.  I love going on Thursday mornings and often have the place to myself!  (As a writer, the peace and quiet amidst shelves of books is perfect; as a mom, the peace and quiet is priceless!)  Another writer was enjoying the space yesterday but posted on the site that she would love for other writers to join her.  I spoke up--on facebook--using my real name.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Looking back

It has taken far too long to tell you about Karen Abbott's American Rose.  I was lucky enough to win a hard copy of this book!  (That makes this delay inexcusable but please forgive me and go out and buy this book.  Now.)  The book is the story of New York as much as it is the story of Gypsy Rose Lee.  I am so glad I read this book before my trip to New York in August!  It helped me to see so much of the city in a new way, especially Times Square.  I love history and it never ceases to amaze me how little human nature differs, over time!  It was a great read I won't soon forget.  (I can't!  My daughter is enamored with the show "Toddlers and Tiaras" and there is a stage mom in every episode that reminds me of Rose, Gypsy's mother!  Almost 100 years have passed since Rose was pushing her daughter, June, along the vaudeville circuit claiming that her daughter was destined to be "somebody."  I hear the same words in my living room today, but vaudeville has been replaced by reality television.)

I am sure you read The Help long ago.   I have been meaning to read the book forever but just got around to finishing it last week.  Though wonderful reviews abound, I knew I had to read the book when I read about it in Food & Wine magazine.  (They featured many of the recipes from the movie.)  Kathryn Stockett's writing was wonderful.  I love southern writers and southern writing but so many writers slow the story down by trying to capture dialect.  I have had to stop and re-read so many words so many times to understand what the characters are supposed to sound like.  Ms. Stockett's writing is spot-on.  Perfect.  Her characters in this novel are unforgettable, the writing is compelling and the food sounds delicious--though it will be a while before I enjoy chocolate pie again!
Minny's Chocolate Pie

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Brotherly Love


3yr-old:  "C?  Can I tell you a secret?"
10yr-old: "Sure."
3yr-old:"I love you."
10yr old: "I know."

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

I hang my head (Mea Culpa VIII)

I have amended an earlier post but as most of you have no reason to re-read my entries, I include it here, as well.  While I do aim to write fiction, I don't want to be known as a liar.

To that end, I submit my confession:

I was notified via facebook of an inaccuracy in this post, this morning.  I have some great friends (with amazing memories!) who pay attention to what I write here.  My own memory is not so good and I do not fact-check my posts well enough.  I regret to admit that I have not completely avoided meat for two decades.
I tried.  I failed.  
Nearly two decades ago, I was working for J.  We were working quite late one night and he bought dinner for everyone.  I was hungry famished.  I was tired.  There were no veggie options and I caved.  I confess--I ate a turkey sandwich.  Nineteen years ago.  
As long as I am confessing (and before my family members rat me out) I also ate a bite of kielbasa on Easter.  In 2008.  My son saw it and has proudly told everyone that I am not a real vegetarian.
I am a fraud.  

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Stalked by some bad battery karma

Every parent who has seen the Toy Story movies knows where the writers got the idea.  There is some toy, somewhere in your house, with a dying battery.  Batteries do not die quietly.  Toys do not come equipped with a "low battery" light or a status bar, telling you just how much time is left.  Toys...turn psycho.

I am not talking about the toys on your child's floor, nor the ones lying on the top of the toy box.  Those toys have been played with recently.  Those toys have received attention.  Those toys are good.

It is the toy you haven't seen for a while.  Maybe it isn't at the bottom of the full toy box but it is wedged in the middle, somewhere.  In the middle of the night, while your family is sleeping, that toy will beep for no reason.  When the children are in school, the dog is napping and the house is quiet, that toy will talk.  And if you should dig for that toy, find that toy and hold that toy it will stop.  (Think Rex in Toy Story 3: "He held me!  He actually held me!)

But my latest silence-stopper?  The potty. 
Fisher Price Royal Potty & Step Stool Combo

Yes, for the THIRD child, I bought a potty that sings when you, well, you know.  Except this one doesn't.  It can--it simply won't--because no one uses it.  Little guy uses it as a stool to step up to the sink.  He uses it to hold his books while he uses The Big Potty but he does not sit upon it.  So it has no reason to sing.

What to do if you are a potty with no reason to sing?  Well, sing for no reason at all!  It is 11pm.  Everyone, including the dog, is asleep except for me--and the potty.  So it sings.

Thursday, September 08, 2011


After much indecision, wavering and stalling, I decided not to go to the writing conference in October.  As I sat down to compose a post about my reasons, I found a similar post I'd already written and posted three years ago.  THREE YEARS ago.

I realized that I have no choice.  I try not to accept excuses from my kids and it is time to stop allowing them, myself.  I am going to the conference.  Part of my hesitation was that my draft isn't "ready."  But is much closer than it was last year (when I said it wasn't "ready.")  It is not perfect.  Of course, if it was perfect, I wouldn't need feedback.

So I have submitted pages for critique.  I signed up for a pitch session and query session, as well.

So now you know.  And now, I have to go revise other pages and forget that I have already sent some to complete strangers before I curl up into the fetal position and start sucking my thumb.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Moving past Teeewwwsday...

Hey, boys and girls!  It turns out, you're never really too old to have a theme for the day!

My youngest came home from preschool yesterday with an alligator pouch he'd made (full of "A" pictures) and an alligator dance.  You won't be surprised to learn that it featured a big "chomp!"

On the way to pick up the older two from school, I heard a little more chomp chomping from the back of the car.  This time, it was the dog.  Hers wasn't so much an alligator impression as she was trying to taste the DS game left in a cup holder.

We picked up my son first and while he mourned the loss of his Mario game, we picked up my daughter.  She placed a tiny present into my hand: the bracket that held her braces to her back molar.

I admire my friends and relatives who are dental hygenists and dentists.  I have never had any desire to put my hand inside anyone's mouth.  So after trying to coax Playdoh out of the dog's mouth a little later, I decided to open the wine, declare that I was off-duty and ordered pizzas for dinner.  (Yes, one was cheese-free!)

Monday, August 29, 2011

Who moved my cheese?

We talk about the "first 12-hour date" but that wasn't really our first date.  The first one was a lunch date.  I had a cheeseburger (and fries, I assume).  He had an apple.

The following summer, I decided to try giving up meat for 30 days. Those thirty days turned into two decades, although for years my husband tried to wait me out, convinced it was "just a phase."

Just a little over a week ago, my husband decided to go on a "plant based diet" for 30 days and invited me to join him.  He eased into it--the first day he just avoided "anything with a face or a mother."  It's been a vegan week since--no dairy, no eggs.  Unless you count the "butter" on our popcorn Saturday night.  I don't.  (Elaine Bennes covered the whole "is it real butter" issue for us, a while ago!)

We'll see how long this phase lasts!  I know he'll make the 30 days--he sticks to his goals.  He gave up wine for 40 days.  (He invited me to join him on that venture, as well, but I couldn't commit to that one.  This latest kick is much easier.  Wine qualifies as "plant-based.")

Our first lunch date was during the week before Labor Day, twenty-two years ago.  If you had told me then where I'd be now, I never would have believed it.
I never would have seen myself as someone who could give up cheese.


An amendment for my loyal readers:
I was notified via facebook of an inaccuracy in this post, this morning.  I have some great friends (with amazing memories!) who, apparently, do pay attention to what I write here.  My own memory is not so good and I do not fact-check my posts well enough.  I regret to admit that I have not completely avoided meat for two decades.
I tried.  I failed.  
Nearly two decades ago, I was working for J. We were working quite late one night and he bought dinner for everyone.  I was hungry famished.  I was tired.  There were no veggie options and I caved.  I confess--I ate a turkey sandwich.  Nineteen years ago.  
As long as I am confessing (and before my family members rat me out) I also ate a bite of kielbasa on Easter.  In 2008.  My son saw it and has proudly told everyone that I am not a real vegetarian.
I am a fraud.  Now you know.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

School daze

The older two went back to school on the 16th and my little guy started preschool yesterday.  So you're probably thinking that with all three kids in "school" I finished revising the novel, finished reading a book and folded all the laundry, right?

I was really, really close.  I went to the dentist, bought a new bra and a coffee.  Whee!

But I am revising the novel.  At 0-dark-thirty.  I've been getting less sleep during this last week than when I had newborns but I just might get this done, yet!  (Delirious, bleary-eyed edits have GOT to be good, right?)

How's your week going?

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Greetings, Friends!

Liebster means "friend" in German.   I don't speak German (despite having a German maiden name) but am honored to be nominated for a friendship award, in any language!  Many thanks to Jen McConnel for this honor!  (I am also VERY late in posting this thank you here.  I've known Jen less than a year but unfortunately, she has already learned that I am always late.  I'm working on that!)

This award is intended to connect bloggers, specifically those with less than 200 followers. In accepting the award, I must:

* Show my thanks to the blogger who gave me the award by linking back to them.
* Reveal my top 5 picks and let them know by leaving a comment on their blog.
* Post the award on my blog.
* Bask in the love from the most supportive people on the internet—other writers.
* And best of all – have fun and spread the karma.

I want to thank Jen McConnel again for the lovely nomination and she is also my first "pick."  I met Jen at a writing conference last October and she has been very encouraging here, on this blog, as well as in reading and commenting on some of my writing.  I sent her a confusing, mess of an excuse for a "draft" and God bless her, she still read it!

I am also nominating Tracy.  I've never met Tracy in person but we became online friends when we were both Kansas writers.  (She still is but I've moved over to Indiana).  Tracy always has an encouraging word here and inspiration on her site.

I'd like to introduce you to Caryn Caldwell.  Caryn is another writer I've never met but always so encouraging!  She is another mom-writer but is further along in her journey than I am--I love reading success stories!

Renee shares some wonderful ideas about getting into the world of your characters--as well as real survival stories about trying to balance writing with being a mother and wife.  Renee is yet another "friend" that I've never met in real life but I knew I'd like her as soon as I saw the title of her blog!

Aaron is the other friend on this list that I have met in person.  In fact, I'm sure we met before the internet existed!  He's an excellent writer and we attended a writing conference together 14 years ago but we'd been friends for years before that.  I decided to take the plunge and begin writing my own blog after reading his.  So, who knows?  If not for Aaron, I might not have started a blog, would never have met so many writers online and would never have learned the German word for friend. :)

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

Consequences I can live with

I love spending time with my children.  I also love to read.  I think it is important to read to your children.

But a day off from any one of the above wouldn't kill anybody.

After spending two hours at the muddy playground with my youngest and the dog today, everyone needed a bath!  My exhuasted son did not want to get back out of the tub and was quite irritated that I kept trying to drain the tub.

"Mommy!  If you touch that drain ONE MORE TIME, you will not get to read me a bedtime story!"

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Summer vacation

How is your summer going?

Every year, I think the summer will be a time when I will get more writing done and every year, I am wrong!  If I can't pull it off during the school year when two of my children are gone most of the day, I don't know how I think the summer will be easier!

The summer always seems to fly by but it has been great, so far!  My daughter and I flew to Florida for my cousin's wedding and our whole family drove down to Florida two weeks later to spend a week on the beach!  My son completed one Taekwondo camp and begins another tomorrow.  My daughter attended a gymnastics camp in Indianapolis but her friend could not go--so that was a little bit of a commute each day but still an easy drive.

I am just now getting to the rewrite I had planned for the summer so it is progress--but I'm still far behind where I wanted to be.  (It probably doesn't help that I keep thinking how nice it would be to be writing on the beach!) One day!

Having said that, I need to get back to work.  I have not yet registered for the writing conference on the beach.  Last year, I did not take full advantage and really need to get this rewrite finished if I am going to go, again!

How are you enjoying your summer?

Friday, May 20, 2011

I feel fine!

It's a beautiful day, I'm taking the dog and youngest child to the park and I'm singing. 
Enjoy today as if it were your last, just in case, but I'll plan to check back in with you tomorrow!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

In which I confess my Sin

It's not a new rule.  It isn't my rule.  It is simple.  If you want to write, you are going to have to write stuff down.
(And if you're a mom, you have to write stuff down; if you're over 30, it's likely you have to write some things down; if you don't sleep enough or if you were scatterbrained to start with, you have to write stuff down.)

If you write, you know your ideas--the good ones, anyway--do not come when you ask for them.  The ideas come while you're walking, driving, showering, cooking and sleeping.  Which is why there are pieces of scrap paper on my nightstand, in the laundry room and in my pocket when I go for a walk or a run.  The laptop is always on in the kitchen, so if I think of something while I'm frying eggplant, I can type a quick note.  I have a few apps on my iPhone so if I'm driving or running, I can at least jot a few words when I have a chance to stop.  I haven't found a way to keep a notepad in the shower yet but I don't always get in there, every day, anyway! ;)

This isn't new.  Life is busy.  We are trying to get other things done so we might have time to write or, if we make the time, we are trying to call up the inspiration on cue.  So the good ideas wait until you have a quiet moment to sit and breathe.

I had a great one last night!  I remember that it was great enough that I included an extra-loud prayer (in my head, anyway) along with the others, that God help me remember today as I was just too tired to write it down.
Apparently, my faith is not as strong as it should be.  As a writer, I know that is the biggest writing sin!  If you don't write it down before you go to sleep, it will be lost by the time you wake.  I prayed for it to stick in my head--and I can remember the two characters involved and where they were--but that's all I've got.  There is a stack of paper, pens AND pencils on my nightstand but I was too tired to pick up a pen. 

You have been hearing me talk about The Great American Novel for decades but you've been wondering why I don't just finish it already.  You had your suspicions but now, I admit it.  Writers who are too tired and lazy to pick up a pen aren't going to get very far.

(If one of you was suddenly gifted with a GREAT SCENE involving characters who aren't yours, in a story you don't know, sometime around 12:30am this morning, please email me.  I know God heard my prayer so I'm thinking when I didn't write the idea down, He went ahead and gave it to someone else.)

Monday, May 02, 2011

Muslims and schools in Pakistan, Jewish prayer books and Heaven

If you want to get along with people, you don't discuss politics or religion.  But I'm hoping if they're part of book reviews, with education and parenting mixed in, you'll still come back and visit my blog from time to time.

I might be the last person who finally got around to reading Three Cups of Tea.  But if I'm not, and you haven't checked it out yet, go out and pick it up now.  I'll wait.  You can finish the rest of this blog post when you get back.  It is an inspiring, true story that proves how much difference one person really can make in our world.  In addition to being inspired, I learned quite a bit about Islam, India and Pakistan.

Last night, I finally finished reading People of the Book.  I recommend it highly.  This one is not a true story but a fictional account of the journey of a real book, The Sarajevo Haggadah.  It's an intriguing take on how the book got to be where it was and the lives of people who came into contact with it.

Heaven is for Real was a quick read.  As I'd seen an interview with the author, his wife and their son, I knew that the little boy survived, in the end.  However, reading another parent's anguish over their child who was near-death, kept me turning the pages long after I should have been in bed.  It is certainly a book of hope.  The message is simple: Heaven is real. 
My only fault with the book is that Mr. Burpo claims that "almost-four-year-olds" aren't capable of guile or lying.  To some extent, I believe that is true.  A young child making up stories that completely agree with accounts in scripture would be difficult, indeed.

I have just been chuckling as my three-year-old has been telling me some very detailed stories lately, about a non-existent school that he attends, where no adults are allowed.  But that's his story.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Old stories

If you are like me, life may not afford you the time to sit down and read an entire book in one sitting.  And, if you are like me, you may find that you think about the story or the characters during the day when you aren't reading that book.  So, if you are like me, and you take a gander at the news online when you aren't reading, you might find it particularly cool to come across a news story that ties in perfectly with the book you have been reading!

I am making my way through People of the Book, by Geraldine Brooks.  As someone who loves both history and books, I am really enjoying this history of a very old book!  I haven't finished it yet but was excited to see this story online, a few days ago!  I can't help but wonder about the past of this 500-year-old Nuremberg Chronicle!  They say it proves that you never really know what you have in your basement but, as we are the first owners of our current home, I'm pretty certain ours contains nothing but insulation and dust! 

I am constantly telling my husband when the homes near my daughter's school put "for sale" signs out.  (Those homes are well over 100 years old.)  I love the unique design of each house, love to think about the stories the house could tell, wonder about who lived there during the last century but I'd never even thought about what might be left in the attics!  (I'll never know.  Where I see old charm, old stories and character, my husband sees old pipes, lack of central air and pending roof repairs!)

People of the Book offers a fictional history of a real codex.  Hanna Heath,  an Australian rare-book expert is offered the chance to examine and restore a 500-year-old codex, the Sarajevo Haggadah.  During her examination, she finds a small insect wing, a stain on one of the pages and what appears to be salt on one page.  In the chapters that follow, the book alternates between Hanna's life and people of other centuries--illuminating both what their lives were like back then and how they left their mark on the text.

Speaking of texts, it's time to get back to revising my own, unless I take yet another break to finish reading!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Whether the weather bothers you or not... bothers my kids.

The tornado warning ended officially at 10:15pm but tell that to the kids!  We are all fine but they have pulled the sofa beds out in the basement and are quite comfy!

A house on the next street over WAS hit by lightning today so I guess I can see where they'd be a little concerned.  Guess I'm not getting much work done and/or sleep for a bit...

...but we're good.  Goodnight!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

April showers, May flowers...June books?

April showers bring May flowers...and might help budding books grow, too!

Since my last post, I spent most of my time on the computer planning our spring break vacation, then changing those plans, changing them again and finally going back to plan A.  After plan A (driving down to Destin, FL) was arranged, we spent the next week there.  The weather was not expected to cooperate but it did, and it was a much needed break from the still-winter weather here.

Since our return, I have accomplished some spring cleaning, helped with field trips and service projects, read and started planning our summer vacation. ;) 

It's time to get back in gear!  Especially as our next trip may take us back down closer to where my "other" book is set.  The "other" book is the one I began during NaNo in 2010.  It flowed nicely, seemed easy to write, but I keep putting it off, feeling like I should organize and polish the first one that I've been working on forever.  (It just might be time for me to admit that if another book is actually easier to write, I should focus on that one!)

Spring is here, I think.  After sunshine and record temps on Sunday, the rains came and cooled everything back down again.  But the sun is out today, flowers are blooming and a few new ideas are budding, too.  It's time to help a book grow!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

A little luck of the Irish

Happy St. Patrick's Day!  Here's hoping you all have a lucky day!

A genealogy project is on my "to-do list" (along with publishing a few books) but in the meantime, I don't think I have any Irish blood flowing through my veins.  I married a guy who is part Irish AND who is an alumnus of The University of Notre Dame.  He seems to be a pretty lucky guy, so maybe there is something to it! ;)

It's been a productive mom-day morning so I'm hoping, if I am lucky, it'll be a productive writing-afternoon!
My next non-writing project is finding that right project!  I do a few things in our community but not much--certainly not enough.  Just in case I wasn't aware of my shortcomings in that arena, I am currently (slowly) making my way through both The Rule of Benedict and Three Cups of Tea.  The former is a spiritual book that makes much sense but I can only absorb a few pages at a time.  It's a good reminder that good intentions are not enough.  The latter is an inspiring tale of one person who lives that idea and proves how much difference one human can really make in this world!  It makes me feel inadequate, thinking of the small impact I've made so far but is a compelling story!

Speaking of making a difference and people who could really use a little luck, I've been reading a few articles about the delays in getting "text-to-donate" donations to the poor people in Japan.  If you are considering sending funds to help in the efforts over there, please donate directly to an organization (use their website, call them, etc.) rather than texting.  Phone service providers are waiting until the end you a billing cycle before sending the funds so if you text your donation, it could take up to three months to get where it needs to go!

Enjoy the blessings today brings!  (Everything else can wait for tomorrow!)

Monday, March 07, 2011

Our little apple didn't fall too far

Life moves pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around once and a while, you could miss it.
 ~ Ferris Bueller

When I was 16, I thought Ferris Bueller was cool.  When I was 19, I thought I'd met a guy like Ferris.  He could talk his way into things, out of things and eventually, even talked me into marrying him!

An advantage to marrying a clever guy is that you may give birth to a son who is quite clever. 
Alternately, you run the risk of giving birth to a son who thinks he is quite clever--or thinks his mom is new.

I'm not new and I'm not this mom.

Saturday, March 05, 2011


I had to do something with the bananas.  My daughter and her friend were dancing around with them (a cute ending for a math video they'd been filming) and broke the stems off of the fruit.  They've been here a few days, anyway and are at the point where I usually declare that I need to make banana bread or throw them out.  I hate to throw out food so I make banana bread...and no one eats it.

So...I used one of Jessica Seinfeld's recipes this morning, and made peanut butter and banana muffins (with carrot). (Ssshhh).

 I got distracted (surprise!) in the middle however, and only put in half of the required amount of brown sugar.  Thinking no one would eat these now, either, I went ahead and sprinkled some brown sugar on the top of each muffin and hoped for the best.

My son just ate three.
(Maybe 3 is a bit much--he ate two and finished his brother's--but that has to be better than the 2 or 3 doughnuts I let him eat last weekend!)

Thursday, March 03, 2011

The Book Thief

Yes, it has taken me this long!  I mentioned the book in an earlier post but just finally finished reading The Book Thief today.  If you haven't yet read it, go forth and read it.   It's a beautiful book with a simple message:  Words can save your life.

It's just a small story really, about, among other things:

* A girl
* Some words
* An accordionist
* Some fanatical Germans
* A Jewish fist fighter
* And quite a lot of thievery

I couldn't post this immediately upon finishing it as I was still crying.  Since I've become a mother, I admit to crying during movies, television shows and even a few commecials but it is a rare event when a book moves me to actual tears.  Markus Zusak has created characters I will not soon forget.

Monday, February 28, 2011

Rainy days and Mondays...melt the snow!

Rainy days and Mondays...melt the remaining snow!

AND Mondays are usually my days to "catch up."  Last Monday was a day off for the kids, so I didn't catch up so much while they were home.  My daughter started with a fever Tuesday evening and was home from school the rest of the week.  I felt sick the week before and last week so after getting her on antibiotics, I went ahead with some myself. (I'd been exhausted, stuffy, foggy, had a sore throat, earaches but blamed it on lack of sleep until her strep test came back positive!!)  Huh.

My son had a few friends over to ice-skate and spend the night this weekend so's just the 3-year-old and I!  My husband was trying to stay out of the way Saturday (when one friend was over, early) so he caught me up on almost all of the laundry folding so that is no longer a looming, insurmountable mountain! ;)

It's raining but that means the snow is gone (for now). After a few days on meds, I no longer feel like diving into the frozen lake! I made it to bed before midnight, last night so life is looking good!  I have high hopes for catching up on writing, during the little guy's naptime, today!  (Here's hoping I didn't just jinx that!) 

Enjoy your week!

Friday, February 18, 2011

Seeing Red

My son's assignment was to write a poem about a color.  He chose red. I enjoyed seeing the drafts progress.  This week, he brought the final product home.  He typed it in computer class and printed it on red paper.

Red is blood
Stained on the rug.
Red is fire
That burned a wire.
Red are the stripes on the American flag
That I wish were plaid.
Red is the color of Santa's hat
Don't forget he's kind of fat.
Red is the lava inside a volcano
If you get too close you will become a mashed potato.
Red is the color of Santa's sleigh
If you yell, he might fall in hay.
Red is the heat
Coming from the sun.
Red is fire
Coming from a candle.
Red is such a wonderful color
It can make you happy forever.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Is it Monday, yet?

You can have Friday.  I'm ready for Monday!

I spent last weekend assisting with two science projects.  It's been a busier week after school this week.  My son has been in basketball practice on Saturdays but they just began having games against other teams, recently.  One Monday night, one Tuesday night and now, one that was canceled during The Storm last week has been rescheduled for tonight.  I'm driving three additional teammates, so after dropping my daughter off at gymnastics, we might dash home for bathroom breaks and let them change before the hour drive to the away-game tonight.

At least the three-year-old is taking a nap today! ;)

This Saturday features a science fair, a birthday party and perhaps getting my daughter to gymnastics to watch her friends compete.  She competes on Sunday, after which I am scheduled to work the next competition while she watches more friends.

Writing?  Reading?  Yep.  Promised I'd get that draft sent out today.  (It's still officially "today" until Monday, right?) ;)
Update: the boys lost the game so they played well but made for a grumpy ride home.  It's all good.  All kids are in bed and I have wine.  ;)

Happy Friday!

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

Reading and Writing (but no arithmetic, whatsoever)

I don't deserve to win this book.  Of course, I would love to have it but I don't deserve to win another, until I've at least read the last one!

You deserve to win it!  Go over to Joshilyn Jackson's blog and tell her you want Evenfall!

I won one of the copies of American Rose in Joshilyn's last drawing and while I really, really want to read it, I haven't gotten to it, yet.  So this book should go to someone who might get to read it sometime this year!  (And then we can compare reviews after I read it, after The Book Thief, and American Rose, and finish Jen's book and finish putting mine in order and...well, let's be optimistic and say July-ish.)

Monday, February 07, 2011


Why're you trying to second guess me?
I am tired of second guessing
What will be your look this season?
Who will be your book this season? ...
~ R.E.M., "Second Guessing"

Once upon a time, a girl met a boy.  Or a boy met a girl, however you want to put it.

Many months later, she had no recollection of the first meeting but he remembered her.  He decided to call her, as she was no longer dating his friend.  He left a message with her roommate.  She did not call back.  One day, after two shelves worth of sticky-note phone messages, she answered the phone herself.  (Our story takes place long ago, before caller I.D.)

The boy begged her not to hang up and then convinced her to join him for one lunch, on campus.
After lunch and a walk, he asked her to join him for dinner, that weekend.  She explained that she was already busy on Friday.  (It was true.  She already had a date with a very nice guy on Friday).  This boy nodded and quickly said that he was busy Friday, too, but would like to take her out on Saturday.    She was at a loss for a quick excuse so she said yes.  (She could call and cancel, later.)

The weekend in question was Labor Day weekend, however, and our girl was not creative enough to come up with an excuse that would keep her busy for the rest of a long weekend.  Saturday night the boy picked her up in a friend's car and popped a cassette into the tape deck.  The girl started to relax, a little.  He had chosen one of her favorite bands!  This was an album that she loved but did not own.  It brought back memories of riding in friends' cars back home.  She started to think the boy had pretty good taste and the evening might not be a total waste, after all.  In fact, if all went well, maybe she would get to know him well enough to borrow the tape!

Twenty-one years later, a woman was running errands and heard an old favorite on the radio.  She smiled as the song brought back memories of riding in friends' cars back home and a particular first date, as well.  She even laughed as she realized that she never did borrow that tape.

She came home, downloaded the song and has enjoyed listening to it often, lately.  She asked her husband if he had ever really owned that tape, or just borrowed it from the friend who told him to play that particular album.  Her husband swears he owned it.  Of course, he gave away all of his cassettes a few moves ago, so there is no proof.  When questioned, he was able to provide the correct title of the album on the first try, so it's possible.

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Snow days

You have seen the storm rolling across the nation.  You can't see my state on the radar right now but we're still here, under that blanket of clouds, just like most of you.
In anticipation of the storm, my husband emailed me from work Monday, asking if we had all of the necessary supplies.  "Yes," I replied.  "We have plenty of wine and printer ink.  Oh, but we need milk." :)

We attempted to get my daughter to gymnastics as the edge of the storm rolled in and we never made it to Taekwondo but we stopped, on the way home, for the rest of the kids' essentials:  junk food.

So we're set.  I was grumpy, yesterday, as I'd planned to get much writing and reading done while I was "stuck" at home.  Unfortunately, with three wild kids who were also home, and who riled to dog up, too, I didn't accomplish much but cooking.  (I had the oven and the stove and the slow cooker going!)
Today the BIG snowflakes have arrived and are falling.  I gave up on being productive and made chocolate chip pancakes for the kids.  So now, they are building a fort, the dog is napping and I just might get something accomplished, after all! 

Monday, January 24, 2011

WooHoo! Winning over whining!

Happy Monday!!!
(What?  This isn't your favorite day?)
I'll admit, I was dreading this one.  My in-laws were here for the weekend.  (That isn't dreadful; they're wonderful people).  But the kids stay up later when they're here.  Our guests had to get up and leave even earlier than I normally wake the kids for school. I wanted to be up to have coffee and tell them goodbye, before waking the kids.  But I don't do early, well!

While I was trying to get a few last winks in before I had to get up, the dog heard our guests getting ready and began BARKING.  So I rose to quiet her, started with the coffee, and have been going ever since.  The youngest child (the only one who does not have to be anywhere, today) was the first child to wake, of course.  So I was thinking we would both shoot for a nice NAP today.  But by now I've had far too much coffee to ever actually sleep, anytime soon, so I'm typing, cleaning up, chasing the dog, forgetting what I was typing, reading blogs and then standing in my kitchen trying to remember what I was doing.  I'm moving, I feel busy but I haven't accomplished much.  I look much like this:

So I stopped, tried to stand still and check in here.  I read the comments for my last entry.  I had not yet made to Joshilyn Jackson's blog this morning but Tracy had!  I was so excited to see her comment (thank you, Tracy!) and hopped right on over to FTK.  There is my name, right there on her blog!  You can go see it--under "Winners and a whiner!"  (I often fall into the latter category but today I fit in both!) Thank you to you all! (If it weren't for my readers here, I'd have no reason to link to her.)  I can't wait to read American Rose!  (OK, one more thing to "fit in" but it'll be worth it.  Look for a review here, soon!)

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Spending what I don't have

I have not been shopping, just spending far more time than I can afford on silly wanderings around the internet.  It is time to get back to writing and reading.  (I am finally reading The Book Thief, at the moment.  You should be, too, if you have not yet done so!)  I heard (read) about The Book Thief over on Joshilyn Jackson's blog, put it on my Christmas list and am finally getting around to reading it!

I am already taking a break from the things that I should be doing, however, to tell you about another great book that I have not yet read.  Another book that I have found via Joshilyn Jackson's blog, as a matter of fact.  I want to read it.  You will want to read it.  So I am telling you about it for two reasons:

1.  Pure selfishness.  I want to read this book.  Joshilyn Jackson is picking four lucky winners to receive a free copy of American Rose. If I post the link here, and then comment over there, I am eligible for the drawing. 
2.  You will want to read this book. Go on over to Joshilyn's page and leave a comment yourself.  Maybe you will win!  (And maybe you will loan me the book, when you're done.) ;)

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Are you ready kids?

Every once in a while, I have an opportunity to use this blog to issue a public service announcement.

Be careful. 

Karma is usually fairly reliable at making things right in the world.  Sometimes Karma is quick-acting and sometimes it takes years, but what goes around comes around.  Occasionally, incidents slip through the cracks and sometimes, Karma lets us off with a warning.  But Karma did not want you to know that!  (Not realizing how important this secret was, I let it slip on facebook, Tuesday). I told the world that Karma was Kind, and let me off with a warning.  Wednesday, I received my reprimand.

Tuesday morning, I said--out loud and in front of the kids--that "we shouldn't all have to drive 20mph on a road that had been plowed."  Stupid.  I never should have said it.  But it was too late, the kids heard and began to chime in with their two cents:  "Yeah!  We lived in Alaska, move people!  Mom, honk your horn!"  I did tell them that was enough and I did not honk my horn but the words were out there, floating around in the universe.
Tuesday afternoon, going faster than 20mph under an overpass (also stupid) I had just enough time to swerve to miss the car in front of me that had just spun entirely around and was now facing me. 
Karma was kind.  By all rights, I should have hit that car.  I am very lucky and grateful but posted on facebook that Karma was Kind and gave me a warning.

Wednesday morning, I was trying to help!  A friend that volunteers at the school library with me was trying to rescue a book that had fallen inside the book bin.  The heavy book bin has a platform/floor that is supported by springs.  (The more books you put in, the more it lowers to allow them to fit.) There is enough space around this "floor" however, for books to occasionally slip through the gap.  The only way to get the books out is to tip the thing all the way over, let the platform fall all the way down and then reach in.  It is heavy.  I told her to wait and I would help.  We found a few books, a sticker, a pencil and a candy wrapper.  She asked if I was ready to help her stand it back up and I reminded her that the platform slams down quickly.  You have to be careful where you put your fingers or it will hurt!  We started lifting it back up, I reminded her again to watch her right hand.  We set it back up and the thing slammed down. It still smashed my finger.

Karma did not like me telling everyone that she has a soft spot.

That was yesterday.  I'm starting to think about getting an x-ray.  In the meantime, my typing style is a bit altered.  I keep thinking of a Spongebob episode* my kids love--Patrick tells Spongebob to lift his pinky when he lifts his teacup to drink.  "It's fancy."  I, of course, am not drinking tea and should not be typing.  Too stubborn to avoid the keyboard , I am trying to type with 9 fingers, holding my left index finger aloft. It's fancy.

*The episode is "Tea at the Treedome" and can be found, somewhere, online if you would like to view it.  I just spent twenty minutes (Yes.  20.  Minutes) trying to find the perfect link for you, all to no avail.  I found the name of the episode, so, there you go. This is the kind of thing I end up doing when I should be getting something, anything done!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Oh, it makes me wonder...

You just never know what is going to come out of a child's mouth.  Especially when that child is three years old.  And you know, sometimes words have two meanings.

"Mom, I used to be a star!"

I smiled.  (Usually people much older than three are the ones making that claim!)  "Really?"

"Yep.  I used to be a star.  But now I'm in a kid."


Tuesday, January 04, 2011

What ever happened to predictability? The milk man, the paper boy, evening tv?

Before I had children, I made silly, blanket statements.  I said judgemental things like, "I won't let my children watch mind-numbing television.  They will never play a video game with any amount of violence."  Before children, I could not understand how any reasonable person could put their child on a leash, like a pet.

I have three human children, now. The only claim above that I have stuck to is that I do not own a "child leash."  (Clearly, if I was going to "cave" on one, that should have been the winner!)
Before we brought our current dog into our home, we vowed not to give her any "people food" of any kind.

Today, Gracie is one year old.

Our dog has tried most forms of "people food" by now and though we do not give her chocolate, I made her a cake.  A meatloaf cake.  With cheese "icing."  WHY?

Because my children have seen FAR too many old episodes of "Full House," including one with Comet's birthday.  (You will be shocked to learn that their dog was served a meatloaf cake frosted with cheese "icing.")  And because I ask all of my children what what type of cake they would like for each and every birthday but the dog cannot speak for herself--all three children agreed, unanimously, that Gracie wanted a meatloaf cake with cheese icing.

I do not eat meat.  The idea AND sight of ground meat disgusts me.  But I cook meat for my family, occasionally.  Today--I put my hands in a bowl of ground turkey, raw egg and a few other delicious ingredients--and made a meatloaf cake.  For our DOG.