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Sunday, 30 December 2007

Thought for the Day

Tonight we were having a family discussion and the conversation turned to self-worth. We talked about how we are all children of God and therefore have infinite potential and value. One of the kids asked, "When we do bad things, does that make us bad people?" My son came back with this answer..."Think bad about the verb, not the noun." I'm taping this one to my fridge.

Friday, 28 December 2007

My Brain's on Vacation

I have had a few people ask where I've been for the last week. I think my brain took a holiday. In the last seven days, I have only turned on my computer twice, once yesterday and once today. The first part of the week, I was down with a touch of the flu, then my youngest daughter woke up with it on Boxing Day. We had the three older children over yesterday for dinner so we could exchange Christmas gifts with them. And today just seemed to slip by without me realizing how fast it was going.

A few days ago, I mentioned to my husband that I felt guilty for not doing any work. I have a book to write a synopses for and another one to finish and start editing, plus all the little projects that require attention. He reminded me that I will never regret taking a few days to spend extra time with my children. He's right. We haven't done anything earth shattering, but we have been together. It really has been a good holiday so far, and I am looking forward to spending more time with the kids.

At the same time, I think it's time to bring my brain back from vacation and get back to work. I have all sorts of new writing goals running around my head and a brand new year to accomplish them in. I can't wait to get back into the routine. Until then...

Merry Christmas
and
Happy New Year!

Saturday, 22 December 2007

7 Things About Me

Ali and Rebecca both tagged me for this meme. This is going to be tricky since I just did the hundred things about me, but I'll try to be creative.

Rules of the Meme:

1) Link to the person who tagged you and post the rules on your blog.
2) Share 7 facts about yourself.
3) Tag 7 random people at the end of your post, and include links to their blogs.
4) Let each person know that they have been tagged by leaving a comment on their blog.

Seven Things About Me:

  1. I love any movie with Gene Kelly in it. Brigadoon. Singing in the Rain. Hmmmm, I think I need to go watch a movie.
  2. I always wanted to be a figure skater, but I was never very steady on ice skates. Figure skating is still one of my favorite things to watch.
  3. As a teenager, I wore braces for three and a half years.
  4. In high school, I was a cheerleader. A friend told me I should try out, but I didn't take her seriously. When I told my mom, she laughed and said I would never try out because I was to shy. I tried out to prove a point and made the squad, much to my surprise.
  5. My husband thinks these tag games are juvenile and wonders why I keep doing them.
  6. I think it is fun to learn new things about everyone and I'm constantly amazed by how much we all have in common.
  7. One of my favorite memories of growing up is playing ghost in the graveyard with all the neighborhood kids after it got dark. Good times.
I'm tagging...
Autumn
Mandi
Don
Marc
Kirsten
Kimberly
you :)

And now I'm hoping I can take a break from being tagged for a while. I am running out of things to tell you.

Friday, 21 December 2007

12 Things About Christmas

Tristi just tagged me, so here goes...

1. List 12 random things about yourself that have to do with Christmas

2. Please refer to it as a 'hoopla' and not the dreaded 'm'-word (Josi doesn't even know what the m-word is but she's trying really hard to think of all the dirty words that start with M that she's ever heard. Tristi thinks the "m" word is Meme.)

3. You have to specifically tag people when you're done. None of this "if you're reading this, consider yourself tagged" stuff is allowed...then nobody ends up actually doing it. The number of people who you tag is really up to you -- but the more, the merrier to get this 'hoopla' circulating through the blogosphere.

4. Please try and do it as quickly as possible. The Christmas season will be over before we know it and I'd like to get as many people involved as possible.

Drum roll please...

1. I love Christmas music. I have been known to listen to it as early as September.

2. I buy a new Christmas cd every year and try to have a wide variety of styles to fit every mood.

3. I usually prefer to make most of my gifts, but over the last few years I have cut down on this because time seems so short, and so many people don't really appreciate them.

4. I love to light all the candles and the Christmas tree lights and just sit and watch them.

5. I used to have a step-mom from South Africa who still used real candles on her real tree. Now that is a spectacular sight.

6. Every year, I look forward to the Christmas baking and always end up making more than I should.

7. After the baking is done, we load up the plates to give to neighbors, family and friends.

8. I love putting up my Christmas tree and decorations around the first of December (I can't put up the tree until the local store brings them in), but I also love taking everything down around New Years and having the house cleaned up and back to normal.

9. On Christmas morning the kids aren't allowed in the living room until everyone is awake, then Dad goes into the room and turns on the tree lights before the kids file in, youngest to oldest. We hand out the gifts one at a time and take the time to enjoy each gift before opening the next one.

10. I unknowingly started collecting nativities. Now the kids like to make a game of counting them and seeing who can find the most.

11. Both my older kids believed in Santa until they were teenagers. When my daughter finally figured us out, we passed the torch to her and told her she had a responsibility to be a Santa and serve all those around her who needed a little Christmas cheer.

12. I still believe in Santa. There have been too many difficult years in my life, when Christmas just shouldn't have happened, but somehow the gifts under the tree are always plentiful and the kid's faces always light up on Christmas morning.

So there are a few things about Christmas. I'm going to tag Mandi and Autumn. Do it quickly girls...only four more sleeps until Christmas. I will get to the seven things about me tag soon, but I figured I should do this one before Christmas becomes a memory.

Thursday, 20 December 2007

Not a Stalker After All

So something else interesting happened on my trip to Arizona. Friday morning, my brother's phone rang with a call for me. He said it was Autumn. I immediately went through a list of people in my head to see if I knew anyone named Autumn. The only person I could think of was Autumn over at Autumn Ables. Sure enough, it was her. With a little help from my husband she got my brother's number and called. My brother kidded me that I had my own personal stalker, but Autumn assured me she wasn't. All kidding aside, I am glad she called. We met for lunch and had a good visit and I am looking forward to seeing her again at the LDStorymakers conference in March.

It impressed me that she placed the call. I get stressed meeting new people and if I had found myself in her place, probably would have thought about calling, but getting up the nerve would have been another thing entirely. I appreciate her reaching out and I loved getting the opportunity to meet someone else who shares the writing bug with me. Getting to know others continues to show me how much we all have in common and I love having more people to call friends. Like Autumn mentioned on her blog, having online cheerleaders is a great thing. It really is a small world and I can't wait to meet more of my cheerleaders at the conference this spring and have a chance to visit with Autumn again.

Wednesday, 19 December 2007

In Memory

I've actually been back for two days now, but I arrived home to find myself six days behind on my Christmas preparations, and have been busy trying to catch up on the baking and sewing. Even though it was a long trip - six days, four of them driving - it was worth going. I had the opportunity to get re-acquainted with an uncle I hadn't seen in 27 years, meet cousins for the first time, and I even think we managed to get talk of our first family reunion started. But the best part was being able to show my respects for a great-grandmother who has always been one of my favorite people.

I spent most of my growing up years in Canada and she always lived in Arizona, so we didn't get the chance to be together often, but I always kept in contact with her over the phone. She was the person who drummed into my head what it took to be a lady, and I remember her teaching me how to make a bed with hospital corners so tight a quarter could bounce on the mattress. After my divorce, I remember her calling me and asking me if I was letting myself become frumpy. She was concerned that I would never find a husband if I let myself go. She was always so put together and beautiful.

She taught me how to age gracefully and never lose that youthful energy. Forty years ago, my grandad passed away, leaving her a widow. She claimed to be too old to re-marry, but she never acted old. I remember her coming to visit when she was about 78 and telling us about a whitewater rafting trip she was going on. And she could out-shop any of us, continuing on long after the rest of us complained about sore feet.

The last time I was in Arizona was eleven years ago, when my two oldest children and I stayed with her for a week. Those pictures from that visit are precious to me as not many children get the chance to hang out with their great-grandmother, let alone their great-great grandmother. Even more precious are the pictures I took two years later when she and my grandma flew to Canada to see us, and she got to hold her nine-month old name-sake.

Even though I hadn't seen her for nine years and our phone calls tapered off as her memory faded, she had a place in my heart and my thoughts daily. I miss her and am so grateful that I was blessed with such a wonderful lady to call Grandma. I look forward to the day when I can see her again.

Zona E. Waldie
1910-2007

Tuesday, 11 December 2007

Taking a Road Trip...

I'll be leaving on an unexpected trip to Arizona first thing tomorrow morning. My great-grandmother passed away yesterday so my sisters, brother and I are driving down for the funeral. It should be about a 21 hour drive. We hope to do 11 hours tomorrow and the rest on Thursday. It would be nicer to fly, but none of us can afford the plane tickets, so it should be an adventure, especially since it is winter road conditions through Montana and Idaho. So I won't be around for a few days.

On another note, go check out the list of books eligible for the Whitney Awards. There are 95 books on the list now and I am sure there are more out there. So get some reading done over the holidays and then go place your nominations. All nominations must be done by December 31, 2007.

Monday, 10 December 2007

Seven Years

My husband and I celebrated our wedding anniversary yesterday. On Friday night we went out to dinner, finished our Christmas shopping and bought a new washer and dryer. (Why is it that the old appliances give up the ghost at the most inconvenient times?) Then, to finish off our anniversary, we gathered the children for a special treat yesterday afternoon. We ate ice cream and homemade fudge and enjoyed the time together, because the ninth of December is an event for the whole family. Seven years ago Rick married me and as part of the package, took on my three children as his own.

I remember the day he proposed. It was American thanksgiving. He made the arrangements for a babysitter for the evening so we could go out to a nice restaurant for dinner. Mid-morning he showed up at my house while I was watching "Sesame Street" with my three-year-old daughter. He sat on the couch and we talked while the show ran. Then he pulled a box out of his pocket and popped the question, in my living room with a children's show on the television and my daughter crawling on our laps. Of course I said yes, my daughter tried on the ring before I could, and he admitted to being too impatient to wait until evening. As funny as it sounds, it showed me that my children were loved as well, and that made the moment romantic to me.

A couple days ago I was thinking about marriage and how much I like being married to him. Every time I look at my husband I count my blessings. He is my biggest supporter and most loyal fan. He takes good care of me and our family, working especially hard so I can stay home for the children, and he took on those three children and loves them like his own. We worry, learn, love, laugh, and cry together. We plan for the future together.

Life isn't always easy and we don't always agree on everything, but after seven years, we love each other, and more importantly, we still like each other. One thing I'm sure of, I couldn't imagine a better husband or a better father for my children. I'm truly grateful for him every day.

Thursday, 6 December 2007

Roaring Children

This is one of those days where I wonder if my brain is still working. I'm sitting here staring at the keyboard hoping some great burst of inspiration will hit me and I will be able to write an amazing blog. Truth is, there are are days where I wonder if there is anything out there other than kid's shows and diapers.

My own children are all in school, but today I had six extra children. I spent the day changing diapers, fixing lunch, and trying to keep everything under control. The latest thing is roaring. They run around the house playing lion or monster and roar at each other. Even the one year old baby has a pretty good roar. By the time my children arrive home from school, I long for peace and quiet. The noise level only increases after three because all the little kids I babysit think it is great fun to play the monster game with my teenagers. And the teenagers encourage it.

Doing my own unscientific studies, I've determined that kids absorb the energy in a room, leaving nothing for poor, unsuspecting adults. Most of the time I feel tired just watching them. When the children are in the house, there is lots of laughter and fun had by all, but by the time everyone leaves and my kids go to bed, I want everything to be quiet. Even the stories in my head are too loud sometimes. This poses a real problem when I sit down in the evening to write or blog.

So I've decided that I need to figure out a way for the adults to suck the energy out of a room. I can only imagine how interesting a day would be if I could absorb all the available energy and get all the unfinished projects done, prepare wonderful meals, and write a bestselling novel. All while the little ones, smile calmly, sit quietly, and without energy read a book. And there would be no roaring.

Wednesday, 5 December 2007

Real Trees for Me


Tomorrow is the day our town does its community Christmas. The businesses in town will stay open until nine, offering goodies and sales. There will be a craft show and Santa will be there for the little ones. Carolers will fill the air with music and there will be a bonfire to warm chilly hands and noses. (It is only supposed to be about -13 C) It is a great time to get out and visit with our friends and neighbors, pick up a few Christmas gifts and enjoy the crisp winter air.

The Trading Company will be bringing in their fresh trees tomorrow as well, and we'll be there to pick the perfect one for our home. I love the smell of real trees. In years past, we have often had the stereotypical Charlie Brown tree. They are the ones that look pretty funny until they are decorated with love and turned into the most beautiful tree ever. Many times my husband tries to talk me into buying a fake tree after Christmas when they are on clearance, but he hasn't managed to convince me yet.

Every year my daughter likes to listen to Christmas music as early as she can. I don't mind it early, but my husband likes to save his Christmas music until December. We all give him a hard time about it, especially the kids. This year I had a great idea. We could get the fake tree, then next year the kids and I could set it up the day after Halloween, early enough to go with the early Christmas music. But I think we will be getting a real tree for many years to come.

Tuesday, 4 December 2007

I Hope It's Worth It

I'm sitting here listening to the piano practicing that is supposed to happen in our home every day. The sound of music filling the house reminds me of my own piano lesson days and how much I resisted practicing. Of course, now I look back and have great appreciation for all the piano teachers I had and for my mother, who wouldn't let me quit. I enjoy sitting at the piano and playing for my own enjoyment, and I can also accompany others when they sing or play in church.

My oldest daughter took piano for a few years until we pulled her out because we didn't have the funds to pay for her lessons. She finally begged me to get her back into piano because she really wants to be able to play. She doesn't mind practicing and does well, but wishes she had more time to put into her lessons. Having a teenager who chooses to take take the lessons on her own is a treat.

My middle child hasn't taken lessons since grade 2. He used to throw such fits for the teacher that she finally wouldn't take him anymore. I taught him for a little while, but that fizzled over time. This fall when we were discussing lessons, the youngest asked why she had to take them when her brother didn't. Her sister replied, "It's because we are girls." Boy, was I sending them the wrong message. So this fall he entered grade 8 and was signed up for piano lessons - under protest and with the promise that he could quite when he can play two songs out the the hymnbook we use at church. The funny thing about the situation is that he gets up every morning on his own to practice without any one having to remind him. He has also has caught up to his older sister, but don't even hint that you think he likes it.

Then there is the youngest. She has the ability, but completely lacks the desire. She is constantly trying to think of reasons why I should let her quit. So far she hasn't succeeded in convincing me, and I don't even try to tell her she will be glad for the skill someday. That's something she is going to have to figure out for herself. Meanwhile, we have to endure the grumpiness and tears and the sour notes, hoping it will all be worth it.

Every once in a while, a piece is played with such sweetness and skill, that I've begun to believe it is already worth it. The kids are developing musical ability, and they are learning not to quit. And even if they are never highly skilled at the piano, at least they can say they tried.

I think I should have no other mortal wants, if I could always have plenty of music. It seems to infuse strength into my limbs and ideas into my brain. Life seems to go on without effort, when I am filled with music.
-George Eliot

Monday, 3 December 2007

NaNo Update

Just another short post to tell everyone that I did it. I got my 50,000 words for NaNo. The whole month was a struggle and I think it was the busiest November I've had in years. The first part of the month, it seemed like the story had stalled and the words just weren't coming. Near the end of the month I finally got into the groove of the story and got out 25000 words in the last week-and-a-half of the challenge. The last words were typed into the computer at 11:30 pm on the 30th.

There is still more story to tell, and I can't wait to finish telling it, but now I need to focus on Christmas and actually feeding my family again. One thing for sure, I couldn't have done it without having a supportive husband. I love having my own personal cheering section.

Doing NaNo is always a learning experience. I figured out a long time ago that I work better under pressure and NaNo is no different. When I did the challenge last year I went into it having only written short stories. I didn't even know if I had it in me to write that many words about one story. This year helped me get that very scary second book on paper. Now I can bring Mitzi (my pesky internal editor) back from her vacation and put her to work. My first NaNo novel is almost ready to submit and then I can pull this years back out.

Right now I need a break from the computer, but I know that when next years challenge rolls around, I'll be signing up.

Friday, 30 November 2007

NaBloPoMo - revisited

This post is going to be short because I still have to put the final words on my NaNo project.

I'm so glad it is the last day of November. NaBloPoMO has been fun and helped keep me busy, or just busier. It has been 30 days and I managed to post every day, but don't be surprised if I fall back into my old habits of only posting on weekdays. The every day posting uses up a lot of brain power I should be using on my other writing. It was good to prove to myself I could do it, and now I have eleven months to decide whether I want to try it again next year.

Thursday, 29 November 2007

Christmas Giveaway!


Here is a fun contest from Anne at Not Entirely British. Go on over to her site to enter and good luck.

"Anyone want to win a brand new, still-in-box, RjTECH UNO-02DVD compact slim DVD player? And since it's the Christmas season when it's nice to give more, SHIPPING by Priority Mail is FREE!

Closing date--DECEMBER 18th 2007.
  • Full DVD function
  • DVD format compatibility: DVD/DVD-R/DVD-RW/VCD/SVCD/CD/CD-R/CD-RW/JPEG
  • Audio Outputs: 2.1 CH RCA/Coaxial
  • Video Outputs: Video/S-Video/YCbCr
  • Multi-TV System NTSC/PAL
  • Dimensions: 10 x 9 x 1.5 inches ; 4 pounds
Two simple rules:

1) Post information about the contest on your blog with a link back to mine.

2) Leave ONE comment back at this post telling me you've completed #1.

Winner will be chosen by random number generator on Tuesday December 18th, and announced the same day.

Spread the word about this nifty give-away."

And a Merry Christmas to one and all!

Wednesday, 28 November 2007

The Angels of Morgan Hill by Donna VanLiere

"The woman I am has a great deal to do with that ninth year of my life. It started out as any other year, nothing extraordinary, but as each day unfolded it became remarkable in every way. There are times when I’m still amazed that we made it through. It has been said that every life has a story. This is my story, although it belongs to so many others, for I was never alone. They were always with me . . . and still are today." -excerpt from The Angels of Morgan Hill by Donna VanLiere

The Angels of Morgan Hill is a story told through the eyes of a nine-year-old, Jane Gable. On the day of her abusive father's funeral, she sees the first black family to move into her Tennessee town. The attitudes and people in town seem to change with the arrival of this family and Jane's life is directly affected as her mother befriends them. When tragedy strikes, Jane's family changes yet again, and she learns that love comes in all kinds of ways as she recognizes the angels in her life.

This is one of those books that distracted me from my Fall Into Reading List. I found it in the library and even though I knew I wouldn't get through the list as it was, I decided to take it home and give it a try. I am so glad I did.

I thoroughly enjoyed the time spent with this book. The characters were so real and the story moved me to tears at times. I felt like I had actually visited the town of Morgan Hill and got to know the people just a little. The story made me sit back and examine my own attitudes towards the people that cross my path every day.

The biggest problem with the book, is that I have now picked up the author's four Christmas books, and I will probably not make it through the reading list at all. C'est la vie.

Tuesday, 27 November 2007

Winter Wonderland


Overnight, we went from bare ground to several inches of snow. The kids bundled up this morning and the youngest finally got to wear her new boots. Ah, the excitement. My oldest daughter is ecstatic and is just hoping it sticks around until Christmas. I'm doubtful. White Christmases around here seem to be getting more and more rare.

I'm the lucky one. I get to stay home and try to keep warm. The heat goes up and the sweaters and blankets come out. It really is a battle, since once that first bone deep chill settles in, I'll be cold until April. I spend the day mopping the tile by the front door every time someone comes in, because the puddles are awfully slippery. There is also the constant hunt for mittens and scarves. Then it is the search for ice skates and wondering why the kids feet can't fit the skates for more than one season.

If a chinook doesn't blow its warm winds through and melt everything before the weekend, I imagine the kids will pull out the toboggans and sleds. The sledding hill will be covered with children and parents will be home putting on the kettle for another round of hot chocolate.

And me - my favorite thing to do is sit on the couch wrapped in a blanket and look out my front window at the snow quietly drifting to the ground. I love the iridescent glitter that covers my front lawn and makes the world seem peaceful and clean. I can do without the cold but the beauty of the season makes up for it somehow.

Monday, 26 November 2007

The Englisher by Beverly Lewis

This is another book from my Fall into Reading list, and is the second in the series Annie's People by Beverly Lewis. It is the continuing story of Annie Zook, who struggles with her desire to draw and paint against her preacher father's orders and her love of an englisher or non-amish person. She sees how easy her father is on her brother's doings and struggles with wanting to please her family and feeling that life isn't fair.

I enjoy reading about the Amish people and how they deal with things in their own culture and how they interact with the outside world. Beverly Lewis writes about these people with understanding and empathy. She develops her characters well and uses great descriptions. In this story I find myself rooting for the characters and yet not sure how she will write the final book to get things to work out. I can't wait to read the last book in the series.

Sunday, 25 November 2007

Success

He has achieved success
who has lived well,
laughed often, and loved much;

who has enjoyed the trust of
pure women,

the respect of intelligent men and
the love of little children;

who has filled his niche and accomplished his task;

who has left the world better than he found it
whether by an improved poppy,
a perfect poem or a rescued soul;

who has never lacked appreciation of Earth's beauty
or failed to express it;

who has always looked for the best in others and
given them the best he had;

whose life was an inspiration;
whose memory a benediction.

-Bessie Anderson Stanley

Saturday, 24 November 2007

Written Word vs Movies

Tonight I get to have a guest blogger. My husband has a theory he would love some feedback on. Enjoy.

"Stephanie and I were out together last night and we had a discussion on the topic of inappropriate things in cinema and books. I shared that I find language and steamy scenes in books much more disturbing than on the screen.

"In response to her question of “why do you think that is?”, I came to the (unscientific) conclusion that having something inappropriate that pops up unawares in a movie is being “thrust upon us” and coming from the outside, where we can to some degree (and at least on the surface) reject it as someone else’s words or actions.

"When the same word or phrase is on the printed page, we read it with our own internal voice. So we are effectively saying the word or phrase, rather than hearing some crude or upset person on the screen say it.

"I think the same goes for steamy scenes (even the PG13 versions). When it is acted out on the screen, we absorb it as an observation of someone doing something and we don’t use our imagination – we take it for what it is. When we read it, we are using our imagination to fill in around the words and paint the picture, as we tend to do as we read any story. It becomes as much or as little as our imaginations choose it to be. At this point I think we are not passively watching, but in some way actively participating through the thought process.

"All of this being said, we of course recognize that watching or listening to inappropriate things is harmful to our souls and we need to be very careful in our selection of entertainment in all of its forms.

"I applaud all who seek to provide quality literature and movies that don’t subject us to the filth of the world."

Friday, 23 November 2007

Red Chief's Ransom and Nothing to Say

Tonight I sat down with my husband and watched "The Ransom of Red Chief" by O. Henry. The story is about two thieves who kidnap a young boy hoping to get a ransom out of his father. Of course, their plans don't quite work out, and the job ends up being much harder than they bargained for. I remember reading this short in a junior high English class and loving the twist at the end.


We also attended our ward party this evening where we ate too much food and enjoyed visiting with our ward family. My family also had to perform Silent Night program (which I don't mind except it meant I couldn't sneak out early to catch up on my word count for NaNo because we were almost the last number).

Speaking of NaNo, I am up to 31,739 today. So my word count for today ended up being 2618. I am much further behind than I should be, but the story is really starting to flow and I am getting more words faster. I don't know if I will make the 50,000 words this year and I'm beginning to think the whole short story thing is much easier.

So this is ending up being a post about almost nothing, because I still don't feel that great, I'm tired and I'm going to bed. But I'm still keeping up with NaBloPoMO. And go read O. Henry's short story when you have a minute - it always gives me a good laugh.

Thursday, 22 November 2007

I've not missed a day yet...

Tonight I'm not feeling well, so this post is just here to fill the requirement to post every day in November for NaBloPoMo.

Happy Thanksgiving to all my American family and friends. Since Canadian Thanksgiving was over a month ago, my thankful post can be read here. There are always more things to be grateful for and I'm sure I could go on for pages. But instead of going on for pages, I'm going to bed.

*****

Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos into order, confusion into clarity.... It turns problems into gifts, failures into success, the unexpected into perfect timing, and mistakes into important events. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today and creates a vision for tomorrow.

-Melodie Beattie-

*****

Thanksgiving Day comes, by statute, once a year; to the honest man it comes as frequently as the heart of gratitude will allow.
-Edward Sandford Martin-

*****

To speak gratitude is courteous and pleasant, to enact gratitude is generous and noble, but to live gratitude is to touch Heaven
-Johannes A. Gaertner-

*****
And on the lighter side....

May your stuffing be tasty
May your turkey plump,
May your potatoes and gravy
Have nary a lump.
May your yams be delicious
And your pies take the prize,
And may your Thanksgiving dinner
Stay off your thighs!
-Author Unknown-


Wednesday, 21 November 2007

Grave Secrets by Marlene Austin

This book is on my Fall into Reading List and was also the book chosen by our book club for this month.

"On the day Bethany Carlisle receives her doctorate, she learns that her grandmother has died. However, Bethany’s dismay immediately turns to anger when she learns that the wealthy, eccentric, and distant woman who raised Bethany has taken pains to torment her granddaughter even from the grave. Now, in order to claim her substantial inheritance, Bethany must spend a year at an abandoned house in Maine — and write a book. But what book? In the course of making the old house livable, Bethany believes she’s discovered the answer. But the process of writing the now-important book soon becomes complicated by threatening messages — and the attention of three very different men. She wonders if any of their motives are honorable as it becomes clear that someone will stop at nothing to wrest away her inheritance. Now, Bethany must use every ounce of her faith and resourcefulness — if she is to survive."

I enjoyed this book and loved how the author wove the genealogy into the story. It was interesting to read how she searched back through different records to find the answers she was looking for. The book had a good combination of suspense and romance, which really is my favorite type of book. There was good character development and I loved the descriptions. Grave Secrets is not a difficult read and I look forward to discussing it with my book club when we meet again.

Tuesday, 20 November 2007

What's in it for Me?


Tonight I went to the school with my husband and sister-in-law to hear Barbara Coloroso speak. What an amazing evening. When I heard she had been scheduled to come to town, I was quite excited. I have never read any of her work, although I have had one sitting in my pile of books to read for some time now, but I did see her on Oprah many years ago. It was especially exciting that she came to our little town of 2000 people.

One of the things she talked about really caught my attention. She discussed how we are a society that has taught our young people to do everything based on rewards. When children are in school they are rewarded points or prizes for good behavior. At home they are given allowances just for helping around the house. When these same young people get to college or university, they are still looking for the reward. What job pays the most? What is in it for me? She said when we reward children in this way, we are teaching them to think only of themselves and how they will benefit. Instead we should teach our children to do things for the kinds of feelings they get, and by doing so teach them to be caring human beings.

That got me thinking. My kids are often rewarded at school, in church and at home. I even reward myself. "If I lose so much weight, if I write so many words, etc...I will reward myself with ___ because I deserve it." In some ways I have forgotten how to do things just for the joy of accomplishing something and the satisfaction of a job well done.

There are many times when I question my desire to be a writer. I spend many hours writing and editing and daydreaming new ideas. So far I have very little to show for it. Often I ask my husband if it is worth the time and the effort I am putting into it if I never get my books published. He always tells me to keep going and I do. This is what I realized tonight...even if I never sell a book and always write only to have close family and friends read it, the monetary reward really isn't that important.

I love writing. I love telling a story and hearing the delight in my readers voices when they finish something I've written. Yes, it will be wonderful when I finally get published (positive attitude here), but that is just the icing on the cake. The true reason I do it is for the satisfaction of putting my words down and learning new skills in the process. In the end I have to do it because it is part of who I am and I love doing it. And if you can do something you love, isn't that the real reward.

Monday, 19 November 2007

Loads of Fun

I'm sitting here at 11:22 pm trying to think of something inspiring or even mildly interesting. It's just not happening. Instead I'm staring at piles and piles of clean laundry. Monday is wash day at my house, but because of everything else going on, I wash and dry loads of clothing all day, but don't fold anything until evening. By the time I get around to folding there is about an hour and a half of work.

It is quite tempting to put the baskets of clothing aside and try to find the time to fold them later in the week. I could blog something amazing and work on my word count for NaNoWriMo, but the truth is, with all that work staring me in the face, I can't get anything else done. Same thing in my office. If things are out of place it is hard to concentrate and get the writing done. I'm certainly not obsessive about it - we have our fair share of the mess that comes with teenagers and little kids in the house - but when I really want to concentrate, I need to clean up the clutter.

When I do get to the writing, it's a similar situation. As I revise, I need to remove the clutter of the writing. All the extra words and scenes have to go. All the extra ideas have to be put aside until the next project. The more clutter I remove, the easier it is to see whether the story works.

I can't wait until NaNoBloMo and November are over and I can go back to posting a little less often. Right now I need to get folding that laundry before I fall asleep in a laundry basket.

Sunday, 18 November 2007

Life

Life is a gift to be used every day,
Not to be smothered and hidden away;
It isn't a thing to be stored in the chest
Where you gather your keepsakes and treasure your best;
It isn't a joy to be sipped now and then
And promptly put back in a dark place again.

Life is a gift that the humblest may boast of
And one that the humblest may well make the most of.
Get out and live it each hour of the day,
Wear it and use it as much as you may;
Don't keep it in niches and corners and grooves,
You'll find that in service its beauty improves.

Edgar Guest

Saturday, 17 November 2007

Advice from Winnie-the-Pooh


Winnie-the-Pooh is one of my favorite cartoon characters and now my children love him too. Since I don't have a lot of time to think of a profound and life-changing post tonight, I'm going to share some wisdom from my favorite bear...

*****

If possible, try to find a way to come down the stairs that doesn't involve going bump, bump, bump, on the back of your head.

*****

To the uneducated, an A is just three sticks.

*****

When having a smackerel of something with a friend, don't eat so much that you get stuck in the doorway trying to get out.

*****

"It's always useful to know where a friend-and-relation is, whether you want him or whether you don't." -Rabbit

*****

You can't stay in your corner of the forest waiting for others to come to you. You have to go to them sometimes.

*****

A bear however hard he tries,
Grows tubby without exercise.

*****

"Spelling isn't everything. There are days when simply spelling Tuesday simply doesn't count."
-Rabbit

*****

Don't underestimate the value of Doing Nothing, of just going along, listening to all the things you can't hear, and not bothering.


Friday, 16 November 2007

Six Thoughts

I have been tagged again, this time by mandi. Since I have already posted 100 thigs about myself and done the liar tag, I couldn't think of anything new to tell you. But then I decided to focus the six things all about writing.

Here's how you play...

A. The rules of the game are posted at the beginning.

B. Each player lists 6 facts/habits about themselves.

C. At the end of the post, the player then tags 6 people and posts their names, then goes to their blogs and leaves them a comment, letting them know that they have been tagged and asking them to read your blog.

1. I wrote my first book when I was 9 years old. It was a book of poetry that my mother sent to my great grandmother, "Gammy" for Christmas. When Gammy received it she called and told me just how much she loved it and said she hoped I would always write. Writing a book was one of my childhood dreams, but that was the first time I thought I might really be able to do it. From this I learned to always encourage children in their dreams. You have no idea when you might say something that will give them the courage to do something great.

2.In high school, my English teacher hated my writing. He marked very little wrong in my grammar and spelling, but he didn't usually agree with my opinion in the essays and would often give me a low mark. He is the only teacher I ever got into an argument with - I can't even remember if I won - he basically told me not to bother writing anything. By the time I got to college, I wrote a little poetry for myself, but didn't share anything with anyone except my brother. I had to take a basic composition class in college and the teacher used to ask me if he could keep copies of my assignments to read to other classes because they demonstrated good writing. I got an A in that class. From this I learned, even though someone might be in a position of authority, that doesn't make them right. It's always good to get a second opinion and more importantly to believe in yourself no matter what others may say.

3. Once I got married and started having children, I wrote less and less. There wasn't much time, my first husband didn't support me, and it seemed like I needed to spend most of my time being a wife and a mother. Once my aunt asked me if I could write an essay about my grandmother as a companion piece to an essay about my grandfather I did in college. It was the hardest thing I ever wrote and I never was happy with it. I determined at that point that I had lost the talent. From there I put it away for a few more years. From this I learned that writing needs to be done all the time. It is a skill and needs to be honed and polished.

4. When my children were still young I wrote them a story. I worked on it, polished it and sent it off. This resulted in my first rejection letter. I still have the story and the letter. From this I learned that the stories we write will never go anywhere if we only send them off once, and we can't start the mandatory collection of rejections if the editors never see our work. I guess I need to pull the story out again and work on some more rejection letters.

5. I took and successfully completed the course "Writing for Publication" from the Long Ridge Writer's Group. In the back of my mind I still held the dream to write a book. I took the course as a way to get myself back into the practice of writing. It helped to have deadlines, expectations, and the positive feedback boosted my confidence and gave me the courage to move forward. I
read many writing books and also attended the LDStorymakers conference for the first time last year. From this I learned that one can never stop learning and growing. I can always add to my skills by being willing to study and try new things.

6. Several years ago I worked for our local newspaper. I usually wrote articles on things that were going on around town. I found this extremely difficult because I much prefer fiction. Often I would say to the editor, in jest of course, "Don't you think this story would be so much more interesting if I embellished it with this detail or that." I never did embellish but they did choose to print one of my short stories and a personal essay. From this I learned that all writing experience is good. And even though I still don't like writing newspaper articles, I learned I can do it and do it well.

So there are my six things. I'm not actually going to tag anyone, because I think people are tired of being tagged by me. But if you would like to take on this challenge, feel free, and let me know so I can read the six things you think of.

Thursday, 15 November 2007

Wii had too much fun...

I took the night off from getting anything done and went to dinner at my brother's house. We had a delicious meal and then like the adults we are, spent the rest of the evening playing the Wii. This afternoon I had a parent council meeting to attend and parent teacher interviews for my junior high age kids. By the time all that was done and we got to my brother's, I just felt like sitting. Sometimes it is great just to do something not even on the list of things that need to be done.

Now it is late, I'm tired and my NaNoWriMo word count is lagging behind. But I did have to post something to still be involved in the NaBloPoMo, so this is it.

*****

"Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm."
-Emerson

Wednesday, 14 November 2007

Thank You

I didn't get much writing done today. There was too much going on and I had a hard time focusing. Tonight we held a teacher appreciation night for all our primary teachers. I had food to prepare during the afternoon and I went to help set up for the evening after school.

It was great to be able to gather all the people that work so hard in our primary and let them know how much we value their dedication. We had good food and good conversation. We even played a version of the Liar game although we determined after the game ended, that we would probably remember the lies about each person rather than the truth. As the evening ended, all those teachers that we value pitched in and helped with the clean-up. All-in-all, it was a great evening.

The next appreciation night I hold should be for my family. Every day they do the things required of them with little complaint. I receive lots of loves and hugs from my kids and husband, which makes my day. Every time I sit down at the computer, they leave me alone so I can work and they are so proud of me even though I haven't made it quite yet. But I don't always show them exactly how much I appreciate them. I need to remember to tell them more often.

There is another place where I feel a great deal of gratitude for all the help and support - that is here online. I so appreciate the online community I am part of. Many times I have emailed certain authors for advice and received gracious and helpful replies. There are so many bloggers that I have learned from and look forward to the things they have to say. I'm grateful for every comment left on this blog. There are lots of people I feel like I know just a little bit and hope I can meet some of them at the next LDStorymakers conference.

This thing called the internet can be addicting and time-consuming, but it has also been so valuable in connecting me with a writing community I was totally unaware of last year. So to all those who have made a difference to my writing life, I can't make you a meal but please accept my heartfelt thanks.

Tuesday, 13 November 2007

Baby, It's Cold Outside

I'm sitting here at my desk trying to write and wondering how one types well with cold fingers. It is 1 C outside and I am dreading when it hits -30 c. Right now it is cold enough. I have a sweater on and a big fleece blanket wrapped around my shoulders. A mug of herb tea sits steaming at my elbow, its spicy aroma filling the room, and the keyboard of my laptop gets warm when I type, so eventually my fingers will become more nimble. Now if I could only find a way to make my brain more nimble.

Truth be known, I've been looking forward to this time of year. This summer I tried writing, but even though I accomplished a lot, it wasn't the same. I wrote my first book this way, herb tea and blankets, so every time I try to write anything else, I feel like I need that blanket over my shoulders. It's like the blanket holds in all those crazy thoughts and confines them so they have no escape except through my fingers.

I hear about other writers who have odd little habits to help them write. There are those who listen to certain music, play a game of solitaire first, or surround themselves with objects related to the thing they are writing. Some say having rituals can be limiting. They might prevent you from writing whenever you can. I am training myself to write anywhere in any amount of time (Friday night it was in a little notepad during the intermission of a play), but my serious writing happens in front of the laptop with my blanket over my shoulders. So what are your writing rituals? What helps you get into the writing frame of mind?

Monday, 12 November 2007

NaNo Update

Because it is a holiday, the kids didn't have to go to school today, and I also didn't have to babysit. So my family kindly let me hide in the office all day long and write. Some of the time was spent typing out minutes from the last school council meeting and emailing them to everyone, but the rest of the time I wrote (and did a little laundry on the side.)
So the update is: my word count has hit 16,400 and counting. I still have a little time tonight before the family gets home from the swimming pool. Who knows, I may catch up yet.

*****
Never consider the possibility of failure; as long as you persist, you will be successful.
-Brian Tracy-

*****

That which we persist in doing becomes easier, not that the task itself has become easier, but that our ability to perform it has improved.
-Ralph Waldo Emerson-

*****

For now you know one of the greatest principles of success; if you persist long enough you will win.
-Og Mandino-

Sunday, 11 November 2007

In Flanders Fields

As we observe Remembrance Day in Canada today, I just wanted to share a few things with you...


In Flanders Field

Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae, MD (1872-1918)

(Every school age child memorizes this poem)

*****



My Grandpa - he came home to his family, for which we will forever be thankful.

*****

That Brief Moment of Silence

I see,
soliders running
through the smog.

I see,
soldiers falling
to their death.

I see,
families crying
over just one letter.

I see,
soldiers lowered
in Flander's Field.

That is what I see,
in that brief moment of
Silence.


by M.K.G.
(age 12)

Saturday, 10 November 2007

Answers to Liar tag

Here are the answers to the Liar, Liar tag I posted last week.

#1 - FALSE: This is only partially true. I did have the opportunity to be on a television show called "Spelling Bee", and I did misspell the word "off" on the test that qualified us to go. We didn't win though. I remember misspelling the word "sweet" and spelling "sweat" instead.

#2 - TRUE: I once organized a beauty pageant when I was a teenager. My best friend and I organized a pageant for the little girls in the neighborhood. After the pageant (which we held in my friends back yard - all the parents came) we made a float and entered it in our town's annual parade. The float won first place.

#3 - TRUE: My daughter is the oldest daughter of an oldest daughter, who is the daughter of an oldest daughter, and so in for seven generations. There are twenty years between each of the generations. When I was expecting my daughter, we chose not to find out whether the baby would be a boy or a girl. My mother looked at me and without hesitation said, of course it would be a girl. Tradition you know. As odd as this is, it is absolutely true. I'm certainly not encouraging her to get married that young.

#4 - TRUE: I am more traveled in the U.S. than my home country of Canada. Most people here can't believe I have never been to our province's capital, Edmonton.

So that makes Don the winner as he was the only one to guess #1.

Friday, 9 November 2007

Creativity Breeds Creativity

NaNoWriMo started last week, and I have been faithfully working at it everyday, and consistently getting very little accomplished. According to my goals, I should have hit 14,000 words yesterday, but instead I barely broke 10,000. But that number came after taking the morning off.

Since the beginning of November, I have put just about every other project on hold. Between trying to babysit, keeping the house moderately clean, being wife and mother, I have been taking every spare moment and trying to push that word count up. No luck. Maybe the problem was a bad story idea, or the lack of any real time to pursue the story. Maybe there was too much noise in the house, or too many other obligations outside of the house. At any rate, the story just sat there, growing slowly, a hundred words at a time.

Yesterday morning, I didn't want to write, or even turn on the computer. Instead, I pulled my box of beads out and made two Christmas ornaments I'd been planning for along time. They turned out beautifully. It was so refreshing to work on a project that only took a few hours rather than the hundreds and hundreds of hours a book takes. The great thing happened later when I did turn on the computer. The measly word counts of the last week were gone, and I ended up writing almost 4000 words.

In my excitement to get the NaNo book underway, I had forgotten one of the keys to being productive. Creativity takes so many forms and we need to allow every form its opportunity to be expressed. By limiting ourselves to one outlet, we put a cap on where our minds can take us. When one project feels dried up, it is time to put it away for a bit. When I put NaNo away for a few hours, I felt refreshed when I came back to it.

This morning, I took some time and put together a necklace my daughter has been wanting to wear with new sweater. I enjoyed the process and worked over some plot points in my head as I strung the beads. Now it is back to the writing. But my brain is racing and I can't wait to see my word count soar.

Thursday, 8 November 2007

Austenland by Shannon Hale


When Jane's great-aunt dies and leaves her a trip to England, Jane has no idea what she is getting herself into. She travels to Pembrook Park, an estate that puts its guests back into regency times. Her plan is to give up her obsession with Mr.Darcy, get over several disastrous relationships in her past, and put the idea of true love behind her. She struggles to live in the era without letting her modern ideas get in the way, but keeps saying things that only the modern Jane would say. She finally decides to get into the charade and enjoys the last several days of her stay. Of course, during her time at Pembrook, two different men show interest in her, and she has to decide whether she really does want to give up on true love forever.

This is another book I chose for my Fall into Reading list. It was a light read and I got through it rather quickly. The premise of the story held my interest, but I found myself wishing the author would have spent more time developing the characters. Most of them fell flat for me and in the end when she goes off into the sunset with her new man, I decided I didn't really care. There was nothing to make me happy that she picked him, and I'd have been just as happy if she returned home alone. That said, I did enjoy the story and laughed out loud a few times. I look forward to reading more books by this author.

Wednesday, 7 November 2007

Go Away, Mitzi

I should be in the middle of high word counts and a story that just won't turn off in my head. Instead my NaNo word count is pitifully low and the story plods along at a snail's pace. I've decided that most of the problem lies with Mitzi. This is the name I have given my internal editor. Or should I say, the name she has given herself - she is just that pushy.

Last year was a test for me. If I could write the 50,000 words, then I would consider myself a writer. Silly, I guess, but I needed that push. Well I did it, with Mitzi happily occupied elsewhere, maybe taking a vacation in Bermuda. But Mitzi came back from vacation in April and has pushed me like a slave ever since. I have been polishing and editing, and still she is never happy, insisting that each sentence could be just that much better, promising me that each character will be deeper and more real with just a few more hours of work. And really, keeping me from submitting anything. It is never quite good enough for her.

Now she hovers over my shoulder with each word, questioning my judgment and reminding me just how much work needed to go into last years manuscript after the challenge was over. "Let me help you," she says, insisting that she could save me so much work in the long run. And she might be right. But I also know I need to pound out the story as fast as I can or I will never get past the first chapter.

She has good intentions. Her favorite thing is a well-crafted story with tight plot lines and believable characters. But somehow, I need to turn her off. Otherwise, this NaNo novel will always sit at the start watching all the other novels cross the finish line.

Monday, 5 November 2007

100 Things About Me - Part 2

Okay, as if you didn't know enough about me, here is the rest of the list...

51. I love food way too much.
52. I don’t eat oranges. They bother my stomach. But at Christmas time I eat mandarin oranges. They don't bother me as much as regular oranges and they taste so good
53. My favorite meal is the kind found in a restaurant – no preparation and no clean-up.
54. I can my own fruit in the fall. (Or my husband does some at the church cannery.) Nothing beats the flavor of home canned food.
55.My favorite food is cheesecake. But not just any cheesecake. I’m thinking of going on a mission and trying every cheesecake in town just to find the best one. Anyone with me?
56. I learned to make bread when I was fourteen. It became my job to make eight loaves of whole wheat bread every Saturday morning.
57. My husband hardly ever gets homemade bread.
58. If I had to pick a favorite color, it would be deep green. But really, I like lots of colors. It just depends on my mood.
59. I am not an animal person. My youngest daughter is allergic to animals, and I’ve always been grateful that I don’t have to think about getting a pet.
60. I would rather do laundry than dishes.
61. When I was attending college, I worked as a housekeeper in a hospital.
62. While I was cleaning one day, my finger found a dirty needle where it shouldn’t have been. Let’s just say I got over my fear of needles as I had to have so many shots and tests done to make sure I was okay.
63. Crowds make me nervous. I hate feeling like I am trapped in a room full of people.
64. My dad thinks everyone should be able to grow plants and be great gardeners. I'm convinced I was born with a black thumb. I'm sure the dead African violet in my office would agree.
65. One of my favorite times of the year is our town’s annual celebration in July. It's great to see everyone come home. And I don’t have to try to figure out gifts for anyone.
66. My hair is naturally curly (or frizzy, or kinky…depends on the day). Sometimes I have viewed this as a curse, but more often as a blessing.
67. My grandmother was grey by the time she graduated from high school. My uncle, by the time he returned from his mission. All my younger siblings have more grey hair than I do. Even my 13 year old son is going grey. I don’t dye my hair. I seem to have escaped this genetic tendency.
68. I am always cold.
69. One of my biggest problems is procrastination.
70. I speed read, although most of the time I slow down when I read fiction. I like to savor the words and enjoy the imagery rather than rush through it.
71. My husband complains that I'm too soft spoken. I don’t know what the problem is. I can hear myself just fine.
72. I have hayfever.
73. My favorite flower is the lilac. I love their fragrance.
74. I am a night owl. This drives my husband crazy as he would really like to get to bed at a decent hour.
75. My dad’s side of the family descends from Scottish royalty.
76. This makes me a 27th cousin 7 times removed to Queen Elizabeth I. I knew I had to be in line for the throne somewhere.
77. I belong to our ward choir.
78. I love to go canoeing.
79. I love to go on long driving trips with my family to see the sights.
80. I participated in NaNoWriMo for the first time last year and completed my 50,000 words.
81. Every day I check the exchange rates for the Canadian and American dollars.
82.I am not very political. I know enough to vote, but don’t pay attention to much else.
83. I’m not very photogenic. There are very few pictures of me in the family album.
84. I wear glasses.
85. One of my favorite places to take the family is Writing-on-Stone provincial park. We have so much fun playing in the hoodoos.
86. Whenever we take a family vacation I buy a small print or postcards to frame that shows some of the culture from the area we visited.
87. Survivor is one of my favorite shows.
88. I use essential oils in my home and we take very few trips to the doctor.
89. I have never broken a bone except for a small fracture in one thumb after I slammed it in a car door.
90. There is a journal on my desk full of inspirational quotes, scriptures, and poetry. I am always adding to it.
91. I like horseback riding, but never get the opportunity to do it.
92. Every week, I make a half gallon of yogurt. It makes the best smoothies.
93. I love teaching which is kind of weird because I am pretty shy usually.
94. To help make ends meet, I babysit from my home.
95. It either keeps me young or insane…the jury is still out on that one.
96. One of my favorite games is Trivial Pursuit, but nobody will ever play it with me.
97. I really don’t like shopping in December. I try to get all my Christmas shopping done by the end of November.
98. I have brown eyes.
99. My husband and I went on a trip to the U.S. Virgin Islands four months after we were married. It was the first time I had ever flown anywhere.
100. One of my favorite quotes is: “If you can dream it, you can achieve it.” Someday I will be a published author. Don’t know how soon it will happen, but I’ll let you know when it does.

100 Things About Me - Part 1

There is a blogging tradition, that when you have reached 100 posts, you list 100 things about you. Here is the list I came up with, although I will split it over the next two days. Enjoy.

  1. I have been a member of the LDS church my entire life.
  2. Since I was born in Utah, I am an American citizen.
  3. I am also a Canadian citizen.
  4. I have lived in both countries, but I’ve lived in Canada the longest.
  5. By the time hit my 30th birthday, I had moved 30 times.
  6. I’ve lived in Alberta, Idaho, and Utah.
  7. After living all those places, I have determined I prefer small town living and really don’t like cities.
  8. If I could go anywhere in the world, I would take a long trip to Scotland.
  9. I like to listen to bagpipes.
  10. As teenagers in a small town, my friends and I had to come up with creative ways to entertain ourselves. One of our favorites was to get a blank tape for our cassette player and record our own radio stations and soap operas. Fun times.
  11. In high school, I auditioned to be a cheerleader, not because I wanted to, but because people thought I was too shy to do it. I actually made the cut. Talk about surprised.
  12. I went to Ricks College. I wanted to get an degree in English Literature, but everyone tried to convince me it would be too hard to find a job in that field.
  13. So I took fashion design and merchandising instead.
  14. In my second semester of this course, I designed and made my own wedding dress.
  15. My aunt and I owned a fabric store and ran a sewing and alterations business, specializing in wedding dresses and prom gowns.
  16. After the business folded I was left with more fabric than I’ll ever know what to do with. I call it part of the years supply and insulation for the house.
  17. I tat. I wanted to learn how, but my grandmother passed away before she could teach me, so I taught myself.
  18. I cross-stitch and do other types of embroidery.
  19. I can never afford to frame anything.
  20. I love homemade quilts and decided as a teenager that I wouldn’t have purchased quilts or comforters in my home after I got married.
  21. All the quilts in my home are homemade.
  22. I like to scrapbook, but I’m way behind and don’t think I’ll ever catch up.
  23. I have way too many hobbies and not enough time for any of them.
  24. Give me a needle and thread and I can do just about anything, but give me a paint brush and paint and I’m bound to have a panic attack.
  25. Almost every wall in my house is beige and I want to change it, but I have no idea what to change it to. Also, it would require holding a paint brush.
  26. I have pink carpet in my living room. I hate pink carpet and I am still trying to figure out what the previous owners were thinking.
  27. I have been married twice.
  28. When my friend wanted to introduce me to the man that eventually became my second husband, I asked her why I needed to meet him. She said, “He would be perfect for you. You’re both short.” I fell in love with him anyway.
  29. When he proposed to me we were watching “Sesame Park” (Canadian Sesame Street) with my three year old. She tried the ring on before I did.
  30. My husband is 12 years older me.
  31. I am the oldest of six children.
  32. Now I am the mother of six children. Three are my own and three are my step-children.
  33. I have the best kids ever. I keep wondering how they turned out so well.
  34. My oldest step-son is only twelve years younger than I am.
  35. Four of my six kids are taller than I am. One never will be, and the other is quickly catching up. I always tell them the tallest person in the house gets to do the dishes. So far it hasn’t worked.
  36. My favorite movies are all over 50 years old. I especially like all the silly, old musicals.
  37. One of my all-time favorite movies is Casablanca. My husband has never watched it with me. He always falls asleep.
  38. I can watch a movie over and over again, but I have a hard time reading the same book twice.
  39. My favorite performer is Josh Groban. I love his music, and my husband likes to pretend he is jealous.
  40. The music in my cd cabinet is quite eclectic. I like a little bit of everything, although the radio is usually tuned to the country station.
  41. I play the piano.
  42. I also love to sing, but I haven’t done a solo in years and the thought scares me to death.
  43. I always wanted to sing on Broadway. Now I would just like to go to a show on Broadway. When I finally get there, maybe I will sing anyway. Outside the theatre, of course.
  44. I have always wanted to be a writer. My first book was a collection of poetry that I gave my great grandmother for Christmas when I was eight.
  45. When I write, I like to wrap one of my big fleece blankets around my shoulders and put my rice bag around my feet. Because I write best this way, most of my writing is done in the winter.
  46. Classical music is usually what is playing when I write. I find stuff with lyrics to distracting because I end up singing along.
  47. When I was growing up, my favorite books were the Little House on the Prairie series. I think I read the whole series at least five times.
  48. I own way to many books and keep running out of bookshelf space. At last count, we had over 1400 books in the house.
  49. The library is one of my favorite places. I could spend hours there.
  50. I would rather shop for craft supplies than clothes.
To be continued...

Sunday, 4 November 2007

Persistence

Nothing in the world can take the place of Persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan 'Press On' has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race.

Calvin Coolidge

Saturday, 3 November 2007

Liar, Liar - tagged again

Carol and Traci both tagged me with a this one. I am supposed to tell you three truths about myself and one lie. You have to guess which one is the lie.

#1 - When I was in grade six I was picked as one of four students from my grade to participate in a local spelling Bee. To determine which members of the class would go, we took a one hundred word spelling test in class one day. I managed to misspell the word "off" ("of" is close enough isn't it?). But when it came time to spell in front of the cameras, I was in my element. I spelled every word correctly and helped take my team to the provincial spell-off, which we also won.

#2 - I once organized a beauty pageant. I was responsible for registration, making sure the entry forms were filled out properly and eligibility requirements were met. I also took care of the talent portion of the show and prizes. You can't imagine how relieved I felt when the whole thing went off without a hitch.

#3 - My daughter is the oldest daughter of an oldest daughter, who is the daughter of an oldest daughter, and so in for seven generations. There are twenty years between each of the generations. When I was expecting my daughter, we chose not to find out whether the baby would be a boy or a girl. My mother looked at me and without hesitation said, of course it would be a girl. Tradition you know.

#4 - I live in Southern Alberta. I have traveled all over Utah, Montana, California, Idaho, Arizona, Washington, and even the U.S. Virgin Islands. But I have never been north of Calgary, which is only 150 miles north of my home.

So which one is the lie? Because it is the weekend, I'll wait until next Thursday before I give the answer.

Friday, 2 November 2007

Another Tag

Devise a list of 5-10 courses you would take to fix your life. It’s more fun to be in classes with friends, so include one class from the person who tagged you that you’d also like to take. Tag five.

Organization 101: I'll be taking this class with Autumn and Tristi. I guess the writer type is too busy being creative to be organized. I spend lots of time organizing, but I never keep it that way. So I need this class to help me calm the chaos of my sewing room, office, laundry room, etc.

Procrastination 102: I would get so much more done if I didn't spend so much time putting it off. I always tell people I work best under pressure, but I think the truth is that I've learned to work better under pressure because I put things off so long.

Meal Planning 103: This might be related to the procrastination thing. I can cook. I even cook well. But usually I don't even begin to think about what to make for a meal until 30 minutes before we eat. That might explain why we have a short list of menus we use repeatedly, and when I do make the time to prepare a different meal, the kids think we are having a fancy dinner.

How to Enjoy Gardening 104: I always tell my husband I would rather hire a gardener than a housekeeper. My garden survives, barely. There are always good intentions in the spring, but by summer, I'm tired of the dirt and the weeds and the bugs, and the flowers never seem grow quite the way they do in the pictures.

Keeping in Touch 105: I used to write up to ten letters a week, every week, to keep in touch with family and friends. You would think with the invention of email, it would be easier to communicate with the people we love. Instead, we seem to send a lot of jokes and funny pictures, but actual communication is lacking. So I guess I need a class on how to get back to the art of letter writing whether it be through email or using an actual stamp.

Now, who to tag...

ali

mandi

and anyone else who wants to play along.

Thursday, 1 November 2007

NaBloPoMo

As if NaNoWriMo won't keep me busy enough, I have also signed up for NaBloPoMo. The idea is to blog every day of November including Saturdays and Sundays. I usually write something every weekday, but not on the weekends. So that is challenge enough by itself. Since I am also doing National Novel Writing month, I will be pretty busy.

I signed up for NaNoWriMo because I enjoyed it so much last year and felt like I accomplished something. This year I am quite excited to do it again, but I have the added stress of trying to keep the blog going. Hopefully, the other challenge will help me do that. So stay tuned everyday for further updates. Happy November!

Wednesday, 31 October 2007

Eclipse by Stephenie Meyer


I finally finished the third book in the Twilight series by Stephenie Meyer. After reading the first two books, I wanted to find out how things were resolved. In this book, Bella's story continues as she tries to sort out her relationships with Edward and Jacob. As the characters in the book deal with their own feelings, there are outside influences causing other problems. Bella's life is in danger once again and the vampires and werewolves have to put aside their differences to protect her.

Like the previous books, I still had a hard time liking Bella and often found her whiney and far too dependent on both guys. Stephenie Meyer writes in a way that holds my interest and keeps me reading until the end, but in the long run, I wish she could have given me a character to root for. I liked Jacob the most and wished he could have come out happier in the end. It bothered me that Edward always spent the night, and always behind her father's back. This book is marketed as young adult fiction, but I wouldn't recommend it to my teenage daughter. But I do wonder what the author will come up with next.

Tuesday, 30 October 2007

My Not-So-Fairy-Tale Life by Julie Wright


Suzanne Quincy has spent most of her young life trying to escape from her abusive mother. Her usual method is drugs or alcohol. She feels this method is working until she finds out she is pregnant. When her mother kicks her out of the house, she decides her only option is to go to Utah and see if her brother and his new wife will take her in. Throughout the book, she struggles with her brother's new religion, new friendships and her turbulent past.

This is a well-written book dealing with repentance, forgiveness and adoption. The author has managed to create a character that I started out not liking, but as she learned to like herself, I learned to like her too. The subject of adoption is also dealt with in a sensitive and insightful manner. I enjoyed this book from my Fall into Reading list and will certainly read more by Julie Wright.

Monday, 29 October 2007

Being Prepared

My dad has decided that once a month, he is going to gather any of his family that live close by and have a family council to discuss emergency preparedness. With hurricanes, fires, and other happenings in the world, it seems like a great thing to do. We spent a couple of hours last night discussing where each family is in their preparations and where we all need to improve. All of us have done a few things but we all have a long way to go.

I need these pushes once in awhile to get me thinking in the right direction. Our goal this month is to work on our 72-hour kits. At one point I had kits made for my family, but the mice got into them, I didn't fix the problem when it happened, and we are back at the beginning. (I hate mice!) The trick is to pull all of the different lists together and decide what will be the best thing for us. I guess it's always a work in progress and there are always new things to learn about the best way to put these kits together. And most importantly, I need to find a better place to store them, away from the mice.

Friday, 26 October 2007

I Love Primary

This afternoon we held a practice for our ward primary presentation. It is always an interesting experience, trying to get all those rambunctious children to sit still long enough to really understand what we are trying to do. Of course, none of our teachers came, so we (the primary presidency) were sadly out-numbered.

The oldest children sat in the back row of the choir seats. There are a few rather energetic boys in that age group. No matter where we sat them, every time we looked up, they seemed to be in different spots. The same age group also has some rowdy girls. They didn't switch spots, they just kept disappearing altogether.

The middle ages actually were very well-behaved and sat quite well through the practice. Now the youngest group was another story. With no teacher there, they were everywhere -- under the bench, over the bench, on other children, and in the hallway. At one point I had to stop two four-year-old girls from stepping over the backs of the benches, going row-to-row in the chapel.

Then the president left to go pick up the secretary who was home making fresh cinnamon rolls for the kids. That left the other councilor and myself even more out-numbered. Not five minutes after she left, her three month old baby (who was supposed to be sleeping) woke up and started fussing. So with one arm I held the baby, with the other arm I helped lead a song the children were singing in a round.

Despite all the craziness, the practice went fine. Even though they were wound up today, put them in their best dress clothes on Sunday, set them in front of their parents and it is amazing how well they do. I truly love the kids we have. But I do have to say, I am glad our primary has a mere 45 children. I can't imagine doing the same thing with the 150+ kids my sister has in her primary. The thought makes me shudder.

Thursday, 25 October 2007

They Grow Up Too Fast

I've read a few blogs today that have got me thinking about motherhood. I was horrified to read about this woman who says she regrets having children, wrote a book on it, and even gave copies to her two kids. Of course, motherhood isn't always pleasant, but I've never regretted having my three children or even marrying into three step-children.

There are many days I just want to hide my head in the sand and pretend all the responsibilities and expectations are gone. But there are more days when my children bring me joy. They are intelligent young adults. They are caring, sensitive and responsible and I know I can trust them to make good choices.

I would never give up any moment I've had as a mother. Right from the first time I held each of them in my arms until the moment I held each of them for just a minute before they went to bed this evening, motherhood has been an incredible ride. I've learned so much about sharing, having fun, and being a family. I've learned about pain, forgiveness, patience, and love.

My youngest daughter brought home the proofs for her school pictures today. She is in grade four, but in the picture she looks so much older. My other two children are both significantly taller than I am and love to tease me about it. It has occurred to me that if my baby is ten years old, and she goes to university before she turns twenty, I am on the downhill slope. It won't be long before I start sending my kids out into the world to make their way, and I will need to learn how to be an empty nester. Even then, I will still be learning and growing as a mother.

I read the article and felt sorry for the poor woman who wrote it. She's really missed the point. One thing for sure, I love my kids. If I anything about having kids makes me sad, it is that they grow up too fast.

Wednesday, 24 October 2007

Gearing Up for NaNo

October is almost over and that means life is about to get a little crazy. Not only is Christmas just that much closer, but National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) begins November 1st.

I first heard about NaNo last year. I stumbled across the website one day and found the concept intriguing. Starting November 1st at midnight, people all over the world start their novels. The idea is to write 50,000 words in thirty days. There is no entry fee to sign up and no prize other than the satisfaction of completing.

Even though I have always written, the last several years had been filled with weak attempts at accomplishing anything. I was aware of the LDStorymakers conference and really wanted to attend. But I decided that I couldn't travel all that way and spend the money to attend unless I could prove that I was a writer. But when I tried writing, I would get stuck on the first few chapters. They were edited to death; the stories never finished.

NaNo changed that for me. I approached the challenge with a scene in my head but no idea what the plot was. I turned off my internal editor and wrote. I wrote almost every day, during every spare minute I could find. The characters became alive in my head and their story fascinated me. My family became caught up in the challenge and asked what my word count was at every time I sat at the computer. They made dinner and didn't complain when I stayed up way too late and acted grumpy in the morning. The best thing about NaNo 2006 was the finished book. This same book is almost ready to be submitted to a publisher.

So now I am gearing up for NaNo 2007. I'm looking forward to pounding out the story and seeing where the characters take me. It is freeing to turn off the part of the brain that wants to correct every mistake as it is made. In NaNo, the mistakes don't matter. It is just about getting the story down. I can't wait.

Tuesday, 23 October 2007

Glad I'm Not Jane Austen.

Tonight my ten-year-old reminded me how much I really do appreciate technology. So often I complain about slow computers, lost files, and spam. It is such a part of my life, I forget how good we really have it.

My youngest daughter had a day off from school. While the teachers attended a teacher development meeting, she stayed home and hung out with me. During the morning she played with the kids I watch so I could sew her Halloween costume. After lunch I remembered that she had some homework to finish. Her teacher gave the class an assignment to write a story and it is due tomorrow.

The story is written, but she needed to correct the spelling and copy it out again. She didn't write a short story - it is five and a half pages long, single spaced, and written in tiny printing. The biggest problem is the spelling. This is something she really struggles with, so we went through the paper together correcting words. This took quite a long time. I kept wishing we could just type it into the computer and let the spell-check take care of it, but it had to be handwritten. It was painful watching her turn away her cousins who wanted to play. It took all my patience to help her correct the same words over and over again. She worked on it for hours, and finally at 9:50 pm she finished it. It was an hour and a half past her bedtime, and she'll be tired tomorrow, but the work is done.

It made me appreciate technology. I tried to imagine being Jane Austen or Charles Dickens, doing all my writing by hand in poor lighting and when a mistake is made, there is no delete key. I would have to throw the page away and rewrite it. So tonight I'm glad I live when I do and I'm grateful for technology. I love my backspace key, my keyboard, and most of all. . .spellcheck. And by the way, does anyone have any good ideas for helping kids understand spelling? I would love your suggestions.

Monday, 22 October 2007

The Costume Challenge

Halloween has crept up on me once again. The event has been haunting the back of my mind for several weeks, but it wasn't until I received the invitation for a neighbor's annual Halloween Crazy Rook party. Suddenly it hit me. All three of my kids still need costumes, and I still need to come up with something for my husband and me to wear to the party on Saturday evening.

At least the kids have ideas. My son wants to be a knight in shining armor. I was feeling lazy and decided to see if I could find something in town. They don't make anything his size in my budget. (When I was in junior high, hardly any of us dressed up...it just wasn't cool. Apparently things have changed. Not only do they dress up, but they go all out.) The oldest daughter wants to be a princess. But not just any dress will do. She was looking through my patterns and found one that has "the perfect sleeves". The youngest comes up with the most creative costumes. She is going to be a dog princess. She wants a poodle skirt and she will wear a crown. I'm sure there are other details of the costume she will fill me in on later.

The husband and I always have to compromise. One year we go as something silly or clever, and another year we follow my tastes and go as something period or ethnic. Of course we always wait until the last minute to decide. This year is a clever/silly year. We have some ideas, but we haven't made a final decision yet. It has to be something easy because I will be busy making Halloween costumes for the kids all week.

It's funny that we like to dress up so much. For me it's the perfect way to be someone else and leave behind my boring everyday self for awhile. I guess that is why I like writing. It is another way for me to be someone else for a time and leave behind the problems and stress of everyday life. It is a way for me to experience a little bit of the world without leaving my own little spot on the earth. And unlike Halloween which only lasts for one day, I can write all year long.
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