Monday, 29 September 2008

6 Quirky Things Tag

My friend Ali tagged me, and I'm supposed to list six unspectacular things about me. There are so many to choose from, I don't know where to start...
  • I make really good pie crust. Light, flakey, and totally fattening. That's why I don't do it very often, but it is really good. Even though most people think it is too much work, I don't mind doing it.
  • My brain has been on holiday for the last few weeks, thus the lack of any meaningful blogs. I'm trying to get things under control and get back to business. Seems to be a lot harder than it should be.
  • I'll be applying to be a teacher's aid sub at the school. For some reason, that's a little scary to me. Maybe I just don't like change.
  • I've been in the primary presidency in my ward for four years. I think I can almost do the job with my eyes closed. Right now I'm supposed to be writing the script for our sacrament meeting presentation.
  • I have another blog where I just post book reviews. I haven't posted anything in quite some time. That's because I haven't read any books for awhile. I really need to get life organized again.
  • Tomorrow I get to make a backpack for my youngest to take her things to ballet. I found the best fabric - pink flannel with embroidered ballet slippers. It's perfect. Youngest daughter's birthday is on Wednesday, so it will be a birthday gift.
I guess it doesn't get more unspectacular than that. Now I get to tag six people. Mandi, Amy, Autumn, Melissa, Don, and you.

Here are the rules:

Link to me in your post.
Mention the rules on your blog.
List six unspectacular quirks about yourself.
Tag six other bloggers by linking them.

...and have fun.

Tuesday, 23 September 2008

Easier and Easier

I've had one little boy to babysit during September but tomorrow is his last day. He just turned four. Over the last four weeks, when he's been here by himself every day, we have been walking to the post office after lunch to get the mail. With just the two of us, the four block walk to the post office is quite pleasant.

He is the youngest in a busy family and they don't walk very many places. The first couple times we walked, he would whine a little. "It's too far. I'm tired."

Then he tried a different tactic. "If you go without me, you could go faster." He even had it figured out. I could leave him with my kids for a few minutes while they were home for lunch. I told him we didn't have to go fast. We were just going for a little exercise and fresh air.

Next he made some effort to convince me he could stay at the house by himself. He said he'd be fine and his mom lets him stay alone. (I know that never happens).

The last two days he resigned himself to the walk. Today as I was finishing my lunch, he said he would go to the bathroom so we could go get the mail. With that kind of enthusiasm I hurried and got ready to go before he could change his mind.

At the end of the first block he decided it was too far. But as we finished the second block, he informed me the post office wasn't that far after all. In fact, he announced that he would tell his mom they had to always walk because it was easy. I laughed and told him I thought he might be getting stronger.

This reminded me of writing. When I wrote my first novel, it seemed like I had to come up with so many words. And when I did find the words, the revision process seemed so hard. And then giving it to readers and eventually sending it off to publishers to be rejected, again and again, really tested me. The journey seemed so long.

Every time I start a new story, it's the same. I look at the distance to the end and wonder if I'll ever make it. Yet, each project gets a little easier. It's still difficult to find the words some times but I know they're in there somewhere. I still struggle with the revision process, and giving it to readers and publishers still takes a giant leap of faith.

Just like my little friend walking to the post office, I know the path and I know I can get to the end. The distance doesn't change. The steps are still the same. But my confidence in myself continues to grow and the journey doesn't seem nearly so hard anymore. I think I'm getting stronger too.

Thursday, 18 September 2008

Now What?

So I didn't get the job. It came down to me and one other person. How depressing to come in second place.

Okay, I'm over that now - no use dwelling on something I can't change.

Now what? After the phone call this afternoon I had a brief panicky moment until I reminded myself that things always work out somehow. Now I'm researching this idea I have and trying to figure out if it will work.

On a happier note, I sent a query letter to an editor on Monday and had a request for the full manuscript an hour later. That's kept me happy all week, despite all the other worries. I had it in the mail a few hours later and now I wait.

So life continues on despite my uncertainty about the future and what it holds. But there is always something exciting around the bend. I just wish I knew what it was.

Tuesday, 16 September 2008

The Only Thing Constant is Change

Since the babysitting gig has come to an end, I've been trying to figure out what's next. The options seem endless until I break them down into pros and cons. So often the cons outweigh the pros and the list shrinks as some things are eliminated. But after much thinking and praying, other things are starting to stand out.

When I began exploring the world of employment again I quickly determined that the idea of leaving the home to re-enter the work force was seriously scary. I’ve become quite a homebody, but that is only part of it. Even though my children are getting older, I still like to see them off to school in the morning, eat lunch with them, and be there when they return home in the afternoon. There is also the difficulty of trying to find a job that pays enough to make up the income we need and also pay for the insanely expensive gas I would need to drive to the city to work.

I also looked at the possibility of returning back to school. Getting a degree is something I’ve toyed with over the years and I always like the thought of getting that piece of paper that says I worked hard and I know something. But once again, after much consideration, it didn’t feel like the right thing.

Yesterday I interviewed for a job here is town and I’m still waiting to hear back from them. I spent much of the last three weeks worrying about even getting that interview, but now that it’s over, I’m not worried about it at all. Que cera. Stressing about it won’t get me anywhere at this point.

The biggest change I’m contemplating is one that scares me and yet leaves me oddly calm at the same time. It would leave us without the extra income for at least a little while but maybe it is the right time to make some big changes. Things looked pretty bleak even just a few days ago, and yet as this idea forms in my head, a lot of things are becoming clearer. I won’t say much more about what I’m contemplating right now as I am still trying to work it out and decide how to approach it.

Everything falling apart, or coming together as it did, leaves me marveling as I often do at the way things slide into place at the right time. It all leaves me wondering if this is one of those leap-of-faith moments. And if I do, maybe this time I’ll be able to fly.

Monday, 15 September 2008

It Works Out

"It isn't as bad as you sometimes think it is. It all works out. Don't worry. I say that to myself every morning. It all works out in the end. Put your trust in God, and move forward with faith and confidence in the future. The Lord will not forsake us. He will not forsake us. If we will put our trust in Him, if we will pray to Him, if we will live worthy of His blessings, He will hear our prayers."

-Gordon B. Hinkley-

Saturday, 13 September 2008

Busy Day

28 quarts of applesauce
7 pints of ketchup
1 batch of banana cookies to use up the over-ripe bananas
5 72-hour kits reassembled
1 cleaned bathroom
3 kids supervised while doing chores
1 organized cold storage room
1 blog written
1 tired mom


Thursday, 11 September 2008

Angel Falling Softly by Eugene Woodbury

"Over the past six months, Rachel Forsythe's perfect life has descended from the ideal to the tragic. The younger of her two daughters is dying of cancer. Despite her standing as the wife of a respected Mormon bishop, neither God nor medical science has blessed her with a cure. Or has He?

"Milada Daranyi, chief investment officer at Daranyi Enterprises International, has come to Utah to finalize the takeover of a Salt Lake City-based medical technology company. Bored with her downtown hotel accommodations, she rents a house in the Salt Lake City suburbs.

"And then the welcome wagon shows up. Her neighbors perceive her to be a beautiful, intelligent, and daunting young woman. But Rachel senses something about Milada that leads her in a completely different-and very dangerous-direction.

"Rachel's suspicions are right: Milada is homo lamia. A vampire. Fallen. And possibly the only person in the world who can save Rachel's daughter. Uncovering Milada's secrets, Rachel becomes convinced that, as Milton writes, "all this good of evil shall produce."

"As the two women push against every moral boundary in order to protect their families, the price of redemption will prove higher than either of them could have possibly imagined."

Angel Falling Softly examines human nature at its most basic level. What lengths would you got to to save the ones you love? How strong is your faith when pushed to your limits? Rachel has to answer all these questions for herself when her daughter lies at death's door. She knows death is not the tragic event the world may make it out to be, but it doesn't change her desire to have her daughter around longer. She knows what she is doing is wrong and won't even talk to her husband about it. Milada also has to take a look at the direction her own life is going and how she got there.

The author didn't provide enough background for Milada and her sisters and it would have been nice if the virus that caused them to become vampires was a little more fully explained. It was a little confusing at times. I also found the sex scenes a little graphic for my taste. Compared to the national market, they were very tame, but still not something I enjoyed reading - especially the two scenes with lesbian overtones. In a book written by an LDS writer about LDS people, the scenes seemed horribly out of place.

As for the story, it was interesting and I thought the characters did change and develop over time. We all make decisions and have to live with the consequences. In the end, Rachel gets her wish, but at what price?

This book has good storyline and fascinating characters. It's just a story but it raises interesting questions about our behavior in extreme situations.

Unfortunately, even though I thought the plot line was interesting and the story brought up some good questions, because of the sexual content and some bad language, I won't recommend this book to my readers.

Tuesday, 9 September 2008

The Santa Letters by Stacy Gooch-Anderson

"One year ago on Christmas Eve, William died. For Emma, the hit-and-run driver killed more than her husband; he killed her joy in life itself. Now, as Christmas approaches again, Emma Jensen finds herself sinking into a depression that nothing can breach; not her job, not her love for her children, and certainly not the season. Money is tight, and emotions are taut, and this year Christmas will be a meager, empty, and painful experience. Only six-year-old McKenna believes in miracles and the magic of Christmas. The rest of the family knows that Christmas can never be the same. But when a mysterious package and an ornate letter arrive on the doorstep, things begin to change. Each day, a package and a letter signed Santa arrive for the family, and together they come to understand that the joy of Christmas does not have to be lost forever, and that God s love can heal any wound, no matter how deep. The Santa Letters will take the Jensens on a journey through a Christmas experience that will have the power to heal them all."

Every year I find a new Christmas book to add to my collection, so when I was asked to review this, I knew what the book would be for 2008. This story tugs at the heartstrings and gives the reader reason to look inside at their own feelings toward the holidays. The principles in the letters are timeless and something every family should take the time to review and remember.

As for the story, I was a little disappointed in the lack of anything other than the letters to drive the story forward. Everything goes along smoothly once the letters start arriving. The kids came across as a little too perfect, especially after suffering the loss of their father. I expected to see more conflict that had to be resolved. The letters seemed to take up a good portion of the book. It would have been nice to see more real conversation between the characters and more description of what the family did when the letters came. Much of the story seemed to take place in the letters and in Emma's thoughts rather than in the characters interactions with each other.

Despite this, the book is pleasant and is a good reminder of all the things we take for granted in our lives and would be a nice addition to any Christmas library.

Monday, 8 September 2008

Banana Butter

I didn't write anything today, but I did make several batches of banana butter since I found bananas for more than half of the regular price at Walmart. Here's the recipe. It's great on toast or muffins or even as a topping on cake.

Banana Butter

1 cup mashed bananas
1 cup crushed pineapple with juice
2 tsp lemon juice
3 1/2 cups sugar
2 Tbsp chopped maraschino cherries
1 pouch liquid pectin

Combine bananas, pineapple, lemon juice, sugar and maraschino cherries in a large pot. Cook over medium heat, bringing to a rolling boil. Boil for 1 minute. Remove from heat and add pectin. Stir and skim foam for 5 minutes. Pour into sterilized jars and seal. Makes 4 half pints.

Thursday, 4 September 2008

Farworld: Water Keep by J. Scott Savage (win a copy)

"Magic is not just spells. The magic you see on the outside is but a tiny
fraction of
the power of true magic. The real power of magic lies within you. Who you
what you do, and most importantly of all, what you may become."

Master Therapass, Farworld Book1 Water

"Other people may see thirteen-year-old Marcus Kanenas as an outcast and a nobody, but he sees himself as a survivor and a dreamer. In fact, his favorite dream is of a world far away, a world where magic is as common as air, where animals tell jokes and trees beg people to pick their fruit. He even has a name for this place- Farworld.

"When Marcus magically travels to Farworld, he meets Kyja, a girl without magic in a world where spells, charms, and potions are everywhere, and Master Therapass, a master wizard who has kept a secret hidden for thirteen years, a secret that could change the fate of two worlds.

"But the Dark Circle has learned of Master Therapass's secret and their evil influence and power are growing. Farworld's only hope is for Marcus and Kyja to find the mythical Elementals- water, land, air and fire- and convince them to open a drift between the worlds.

"As Kyja and Marcus travel to Water Keep, they must face the worst the evil Dark Circle can throw at them- Summoners, who can command the living and the dead; Unmakers, invisible creatures that can destroy both body and soul; and dark mages known as Thrathkin S'Bae.

"Along the way, Marcus and Kyja will discover the truth about their own heritage, the strength of their friendship, and the depths of their unique powers."

I've been looking forward to reading this book for some time and I wasn't disappointed. The characters of Marcus and Kyja are well developed and unlike some other books written for children, they seem to act their age. They both struggle with feeling inadequate in their world and have to learn to find the magic within themselves.

Now for the contest. Everyone who comment and tells me what their favorite book was as a kid will be entered in the draw for a copy of Waterkeep. I know there are a bunch of people lurking who never comment, but this would make a great Christmas gift or a great bookto keep on your own bookshelf.

Wednesday, 3 September 2008

A Compilation

I've been thinking lately about how little I write in my journal. Years ago, I was a compulsive journal keeper. I rarely missed a day. It is something I should still do, but somehow life has become busier and it gets harder to fit everything in. Then I read something Kimberly said in her blog. It reminded me about a project I started and quit several months ago.

Even though I don't write in my journal as often as I should, I've become a fairly regular blogger. So I spent the afternoon capturing all my entries from 2007 and formatting them in a word document. Nothing fancy. But at least I'll have a copy, once I replace the ink cartridge in the printer. Maybe I'll have to get some advice from Autumn on how to fancy things up and make a pretty binder to put them in. I figure I can continue to add new entries and keep the binder up-to-date. I should still write in my personal journal more often, but at least this is a step in the right direction.

Tuesday, 2 September 2008

Where'd That Rug Go?

I haven't said much for a few days because I've been having something of a rough week and feel like I'm just trying to stay afloat. Nothing too terrible, as far as terrible things go, but enough to make me feel like I've had the rug pulled out from under me and I'm busy trying to get my footing again.

For the past three years I've been babysitting in my home to help bring in the extra income we need to support the family. I didn't make much, but it was enough. The number of kids I tend was going to decrease this year as several of them are starting grade one and one is going to kindergarten. Still, it left me with enough and I could add to those numbers from there.

Meanwhile, I am always on the lookout for something else to replace the babysitting. It has never been my choice of careers but I haven't been able to find anything else. Options are limited in the small town we live in and the cost of gas makes finding a part-time job in the city not very feasible. There is also my pitiful lack of formal education, which leaves me not qualified for very many things.

Last Wednesday, the mom of two of the kids I watch told me she wouldn't need me anymore. There went that rug. Without those two kids, I'm left with one little boy who is only here ten hours a week and no one on my waiting list. Anyway, the kids started school today, so I have lots of time on my hands to figure out what to do next. As they go back to school and no little children arrive at my door in the mornings, I need to remember what to do in a quiet, kid-free house. There's lots of time to write, and that's a good thing. Too bad it doesn't pay the bills. (I still believe it will happen someday.)

I know things will work out somehow, but with the price of groceries constantly on the rise, I hope we figure it out sooner than later. These last few days I have spent so much time trying to figure out what my skills are and how to present them to people without the little piece of paper telling them how smart I am, that my head hurts. Hopefully, my own girls will learn from their mother and get the good education I wasn't able to.
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