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
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...
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

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.
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