Thursday, 30 October 2008

Trying to Enter the 21st Century

In the last week I've learned that my family isn't as firmly planted in the 21st century as I'd thought. Sure, we are pretty computer savvy, but we use it mostly as a tool for work and school work. I hadn't considered how it has become such a tool for communication among the youth. They don't call each other on the phone, but they text, or send out a message on Facebook. None of my kids own a cell phone and they couldn't be bothered with facebook. But after a recent conversation with my neighbor, we've realized that if the kids want to be involved in the social circle at school, they need to take advantage of the technology available. They still won't get cellphones, bit I think we'll see a little more social use of the computer from now on.

Who ever thought kids would move on from talking on the phone all night to typing on the computer or texting their friends. I can remember visiting on the telephone for as long as my mom would let me get away with it. She always wondered why we could talk all day at school and then half the evening on the phone. I still love a good visit with a friend, but the kids now love a good session on facebook. I have to admit, I just don't get it.

Tuesday, 28 October 2008

Halloween Countdown

Most years Halloween creeps up on me and I spend the week before the big day trying to get Halloween costumes sewn. This year the kids took it easy on me and I haven't sewn anything yet. The youngest decided to wear a costume that her sister wore four years ago. Good choice.

My son decided he wants to be a pirate - actually, that's a pie-rat. So a gray sweatshirt, gray sweatpants, rat ears and tail, an eye patch, and some mini pie tins attached here and there and we have a pie-rat. What can I say? He comes up with some interesting ideas.

Then there is the oldest. She just wants to be pretty. Since she will probably only ever get one formal gown, she likes to use Halloween as an opportunity to dress up. One of the neighbor girls is lending her a dress, but you can only be a princess so many times. She thought about going as a beauty queen, but then found out another group of girls are doing this. Now she is trying to figure out what she can be and still wear the pretty dress. I've suggested the tooth fairy, Rapunzel, and an Oscar Award winning actress. She likes the Oscar idea, but I'm not creative enough to figure out how to make an Oscar statue in the next few days.

So this is a call for ideas. If anyone has any other ideas of costumes involving a pretty dress, or any ideas of how to make an oscar statue, I'd sure love to hear them. Meanwhile, I'm just counting down the days till Halloween is over and I can start enjoying Christmas.

Thursday, 23 October 2008


In the last month, I've been trying to be more consistent about wearing my pedometer. My goal is to get at least 10,000 steps every day. Now that I'm not babysitting and I have the freedom to take a little more time to get places, I've decided to try and walk and only drive when I have to. I'm excited about this and know it will make a difference. (I'll have to see if I can keep that excitement up when it is -25 C and the wind is blowing.)

Because I don't go anywhere most days, it is a struggle to get that many steps. Going up and down the stairs to the basement doesn't add up very fast. Yesterday I found out that it takes about 300 steps to walk the length of a block, so even just walking the eight block round trip to the post office only gives me 2400 steps. Sometimes it is discouraging how slowly the number creeps up.

When I'm not counting steps, I'm counting words. Some days my word count soars and other days I struggle to reach my goals. There are days when I feel like I've really gotten somewhere and then I check my word count. Usually a big mistake. There never are as many words as I think there should be.

Why do I put so much effort into counting? When those steps add up and I keep at it every day, I feel better and the pounds start to melt away. And when those words add up, I see my novel grow and know that I am that much closer to the end of the story. Someday I'll get a treadmill and type and walk at the same time. Too bad it all has to do with numbers. I was never that good at math.

Tuesday, 21 October 2008

Book List Growing

This is just a reminder to check out all the books eligible for the 2008 Whitney Awards. The list keeps growing and I am sure there are several I've missed. If you know of any authors that should be on the list let me know. As for the books, I've read 15 of them, there are four more I purchased, sitting at home in my reading pile, and I have several more on hold at the library. There are many I've enjoyed and I'll be nominating a few before the year is over. So check out the list and curl up with a good book now that the weather has grown colder. Don't forget to nominate your favorites.

Monday, 20 October 2008

A Manuscript and a Calendar

On Saturday, my husband and I were sitting in Subway eating sandwiches. I was looking out the window and noticed two interesting looking men walking toward the corner. As I often do, I watched them and made up stories about them in my head (all the while listening to my husband of course.) At one point I looked down for a little while. When I looked back up I experienced a moment of confusion. The men were still in sight, although my mind told me they should be long gone. It took me a second to realize they had stopped at the corner and waited for the walk signal. It was a strange moment of disconnect. I mentioned this to my husband and he pointed out how similar that was to the story I'm working on.

I've been going back over the manuscript looking for those points of disconnect, when the time frame of the story doesn't line up and leaves the reader disoriented. It's important to make sure there is consistency in the story so the time-line fits and things happen when they should. I'm putting all the events on a calendar so I can make sure everything happens in the right spot. The calendar goes back several years so when people mention important parts of the back story, everything matches up. It's taking a little time, but in the long run it should make the story more readable and less confusing. I want my readers to get caught up in what they're reading. They shouldn't need to stop to figure things out. As I'm doing this, I'm also finding other things that should go in the manuscript to make the story better. I guess this could be a good reason to save old calendars...

Wednesday, 15 October 2008

Another Week

It's been a week since I last posted. I think about blogging something every day - I guess that's not good enough though.

This past weekend we celebrated Thanksgiving here in Canada. On Saturday my mother-in-law, three step-children and daughter-in-law came for dinner. We had a wonderful meal and played a few games together. The kids left soon enough that we were still able to go to the Saturday evening session of Stake Conference. Sunday was Stake Conference and then Monday we did the whole Thanksgiving dinner thing all over again.

We held the Monday meal at the stake centre and served 34 people. Several years ago we started having the dinner at the church so the kids could run around in the cultural hall and the adults could sit in the other room to visit and still hear each other. This year all the young cousins got together and decided to put on a play for us. We were treated to a skit detailing the first Thanksgiving, another skit about the Thanksgiving food and a lip-sync number to "Once There was a Snowman" by Inside Out A Capella. The good food, company and entertainment made for a fun afternoon.

I left the dinner early so I could get home and do some studying and as I sat in the chair listening to the wind, I started thinking about some of the things I have to be thankful for. Of course, family came first on my list. I love my kids and my husband and everyday I grow more grateful for them. Then I thought about all the comforts we enjoy, living in Canada. So many people in the world go without, and even though our finances are very tight right now, we have a roof over our heads and sufficient food. The odd thing I thought of was the wind. I sat in my chair and listened to it blow and decided I am even thankful for the wild Southern Alberta wind. When I lived in Idaho I missed it and I realized, for me it is the sound of home. At 4:30 yesterday morning I about changed my mind when the wind woke me up by pelting buckets of rain at my window. Not appreciated since I had to be up at 5:30 and hadn't slept well to begin with.

Yesterday was our Federal election. This year I served as a poll clerk for the first time. It was a long but interesting day and I got to see lots of people I haven't seen in a long time. The biggest downside was when the return officer I was working with started feeling sick part way through the morning. By the end of the day she could hardly keep upright. I kept telling her she should call someone else in, but she was the boss and I couldn't force the issue. Meanwhile, I got to sit next to someone with the flu all day long. Now I'm doing everything I can to keep from getting sick. I just don't have time for that.

This coming week doesn't look nearly so exciting, but how do you beat two turkey dinners with all the trimmings, stake conference, and a federal election?

Thursday, 9 October 2008

How to Focus but Not Too Much

Do you ever have those days when you want to do everything but what you should be doing? There are so many things I could do in a day and so many of them are good things. But I have a 250 page manuscript that needs editing and a primary program to edit. Instead I want to go sew.

I think a huge part of the problem lies in my ability to become completely immersed in a project. Whatever I start doing I probably won't put away until it's done or a child starts begging for food. This has served me well when I am under deadlines for prom dresses or writing submissions, but the self-imposed deadlines I have right now aren't nearly as motivating as those set by someone else.

There are days when I wonder if investing in a timer might be wise. Maybe if I give myself an hour to do something and then when the timer goes off, I can move to the next task. (The timer is necessary because otherwise I'm bound to lose track of time.) I think this could be good for the quality of the things I work on as well. If I stop sewing before my back gets sore and my wrist goes numb the sewing project is sure to look more professional. If I stop writing before my brain goes fuzzy and I fall asleep at the keyboard I would probably need to make fewer corrections.

Since I'm so good at focusing on one thing, it seems a little counter-productive to try to learn not to focus as much. Hopefully more will get done and I can do more of the things that pull me every which way. How do you divide your time among all the things you need to get done in a day?

Monday, 6 October 2008

Birthday Flowers

Last Wednesday was my youngest daughter's birthday. I put much more time into her party this year than I normally do, since I have so much time on my hands lately. She picked a cake picture from a book and decided no other cake would do. I just smiled and agreed it was beautiful, all the while wondering how I would manage. I had to teach myself a whole new technique, but I think it turned quite well.

The flowers on the top are made from sugar paste and then hand painted. (I know - crazy. Sprinkles would have been pretty too.) The ruffly disk in the middle had her name written on it. Now that I've figured out the sugar paste thing, I'd like to give it a try on other cakes. The next birthday in the family is in February. I might change my mind by then.

I also spent quite a bit of time making invitations for the party. Usually I let the kids make their own, but she ran out of time, so I did it for her. They turned out well and oldest daughter wants duplicate invites for her sweet sixteen in February.

By the time youngest daughter's party ended on Friday, I felt the need for a long nap and I wondered if all the effort had been worth it. Other years had been just as fun. But when I tucked my little girl into bed that night, she informed me it was the best birthday party she's ever been to. All those hours and flowers were worth the effort after all.

Thursday, 2 October 2008

What's Your Favorite Time of Day

Since I've been unemployed and there isn't anyone else directing my day, I'm having to learn how to manage time better. I'm working on getting on the educational assistant sub list at the school, but I have to wait for a child welfare check to come back, so until it does, the days are mine. In the last fifteen years, there hasn't been a day when kids or work fill my waking hours. Now I send my three children off to school in the morning and look at the hours stretching ahead of me. It's a huge task just to decide what to do during that time.

There are chores around the house, volunteer opportunities, church responsibilities and of course, writing. My husband is encouraging me to take more time to write, which is important to me, but I'm quickly discovering that if I don't do it first, all the other things push it aside.

To write well I need to be clear headed and awake. This afternoon I was trying to re-type some minutes from the elementary school parent council I am secretary for. It didn't go so well. My lead fingers and fuzzy head made for interesting notes. I finally put my head down on the desk for ten minutes and took a little power nap. It made all the difference in the world and the notes made so much more sense with my eyes open. Often when I try to write in the afternoon, I end up closing my eyes and not getting much done.

So knowing this, I need to rearrange the way I do things. I don't think I'll be breaking any laws if I decide to do more writing in the morning after the kids go to school and more housework in the afternoon when I have such a hard time focusing. Evenings are also a good time for me to get writing, and I seem to be at my most creative after everyone else has gone to bed.

The hardest thing is just getting out of the rut I'm in and convincing myself I will do the housework if I save it until after lunch. In the long run, I think I'll get more done throughout the day. So what is your favorite time of day? When do you do your best creative work?

Wednesday, 1 October 2008

Another BIAM

Tristi is holding another Book-in-a-month challenge. I decided to sign up for this one, but I will be taking a different approach. Instead of writing a book this month, I am going to edit the one I finished during the July/August challenge. I've already started on it, so I figure if I continue on at about a chapter a day, I should have it ready for readers by the end of October.

I also want to do a rough outline of the book I want to start for this years NaNoWriMo. Still trying to decide if I really want to take part in the challenge, but even if I don't, the next book needs to be written. (Yes Kristi, it is the sequel to Finding Rose.)

This all sets me up for a lot of work, but these days I have a lot of time and if I can just get myself organized and motivated, I should be able to do it.

Life isn't about finding yourself.
Life is about creating yourself.

-George Bernard Shaw-
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