For Mom & Dad

 

The Daycare helped the boys make mom and dad a special gift. Notice the little handprints on bottom right-hand corner of the blanket. Posted by Picasa

Presents!

 

After singing and sitting on Santa's lap, it was time for presents! Posted by Picasa

Santa's Lap

 

Time to sit on Santa's Lap!

Singing

 

The little guy sang his little heart out at today's Christmas skit. The kids (ages 1 to 5) sang Jingle Bells, Santa Clause is Coming to Town, and Away in a Manger. Posted by Picasa

Where has the time gone?

I can't believe I haven't posted since the 5th! Shameful.

Let's see...what's been going on and what can I blame my lack of communication on that won't sound totally lame? Um. I really don't have a good excuse other than I've been busy.

My youngest son turned five. We had a small party for him where he got spoiled rotten, as usual. His paternal grandparents got him Madagascar. My dad got him one of these monster trucks that jump. We spent way too much money on a karaoke machine and a couple of CDs he could sing along with. We did miss a few of his cousins that day, though. They had a play at church and couldn't be there to join in the celebration.

On a completely unrelated topic....

I am nearly done with my Christmas shopping. Just a few minor things left to do. And everything is mostly wrapped! No all night wrapping spree for me on December 24th!!

Another unrelated topic....

I've survived another semester of school. I wrote my last essay on Friday. Grades should be out sometime next week. No worries there as I'm a horrible over-achiever and have done exceptionally well all semester.

What else?

My sister may or not may be speaking to me. Hard to tell. I figure I'll just wait for her to call me when she's ready. And I will not say anything more on the inflammatory subject we last discussed. It's a no-win situation. I'm not going to see things her way and she's not going to see them mine. Doesn't mean I don't love her, though.

Not to worry. She'll eventually come around. (I hope)

....

....

Oh, my mom turned the big 5-0. My brothers and I and our spouses took her and her husband out to dinner at Famous Dave's (known for it's award-winning ribs). Dinner was nice. The drinks were great. I think Mom enjoyed herself. The only people missing were my sister and her husband, which isn't surprising when they live several states away.

Guess that's all I feel like sharing right now. Talk to you soon, my blogger friends.

Mythical Creature

elf
ELF

You are an elf. An elf is like a
human but much fairer and pure. Elves are
usually tall, with pointed ears, and resemble
humans very closely, but elves are usually much
more beautiful. Elves are a distant race. They
prefer to keep to themselves, because often,
many of them feel that their race is superior
to humans. Elves symbolize wisdom, prudence,
love, and hope. They are very merry and happy.
They are forever young and delight in music.
They are natural artists as well.


Which mythical creature resides in your soul? (11 Results + Pictures)
brought to you by Quizilla

Daz Studio

As you can see I've been playing with some 3D software. It came with some freebies, just enough to allow you to experiment. In the pictures below you can see subtle differences between the photo. The only thing I did was adjust the lighting and reposition the camera. The characters and their environment are truly 3-dimensional. You can rotate the camera(s) around them and get a view of every side.

If you're interested, you can download the software for free at Daz Productions. You should also be able to find a few freebies sprinkled throughout the site.

I'm seriously considering joining their Platinum Club. For a small monthly fee, you can buy packages for the software program at a discounted rate. Since I really like the idea of being able to create my own book covers for short stories and novels alike, I'm very tempted indeed.

The Lovers (View Three)

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The Lovers (View 2)

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The Lovers (View One)

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My First Attempt

 

The title of the piece is "By the Faerie Ring" and I know it's got some flaws. Still, I'm pretty impressed with myself! lol Posted by Picasa

Goonies

Remember that movie? I watched as it a teenager (I think). I thought it was great then and watching with my boys tonight didn't change my opinion.

Of course, I am surprised the boys are scared by it. Totally unexpected.

Where to Start?

Maybe I'll just do a day-to-day summary since my last update. No fluff, just the facts.

Wednesay
1. Worked a full day and then picked up the munchkins from daycare.
2. Went home, ate dinner, put a pie in the oven for Thanksgiving dessert.
3. Oldest boy complains about a stomach ache and refuses to eat his ice cream.
4. Oldest boy pukes all over little brother's bed.
5. Dad takes bedding down to the basement to be cleaned while I tend to the boy.
6. Boy passes out, totally freaking mom out and taking at least ten years off her life. (Never been so scared in my life.)
7. Turn off oven even though pie doesn't appear to be thoroughly cooked.
8. Take boy to ER (checked in around 9:00 pm thanks to a 45 minute drive on slick, slushy roads)
9. Boy is monitored and diagnosed with vasovagal syncope (loss of blood pressure due to vomiting)
10. Boy is given red popsicle, given permission to go home, and promptly pukes in the middle of the hospital corridor.
11. Home by 11:00 and the kids in bed shortly thereafter. All vomiting has stopped.

Thursday (aka Thanksgiving)

1. Clean house.
2. Cook dinner.
3. Company arrives.
4. Realize turkey isn't cooking evenly on the rotisserie thanks to a cold, gusting wind.
5. Put said turkey into the oven to finish cooking, which pushes dinner back by about a half-hour.
6. Finish making dinner.
7. Eat.
8. Clean off the table and put in the first load of dishes.
9. Women scrapbook while the men watch, yes, you guessed it, football.
10. Help the other women pack up their supplies when it's time for them to go home.
11. Help load mother-in-law's truck because father-in-law's hips are still too fragile after surgery to have him lugging around the totes and cases scrapbooking supplies demand.
12. Say goodnight to guests.
13. Put boys and babysitter (nephew) to bed.
14. Clean up own scrapbooking mess.
15. Go to bed. Gratefully.

Friday

1. Up at 5:00 with hubby so we can go shopping!
2. Get half a mile down the road and realize I left shopping list and coupons at home.
3. Return home for said coupons and list.
4. Resume early morning adventure with hubby (who didn't even yell!)
5. Target first. Last one of the item we wanted most was snatched seconds before we could reach it. Didn't stop me from spending nearly $170.
6. Walmart next. Spent another $160.
7. Hungry. Time for breakfast. Decide to go to the other side of town and sit for 45 minutes after placing order.
8. Eat breakfast, wishing I had known I could have ordered lunch.
9. Spend lots of quality time with hubby. Very enjoyable.
10. Pay bill. Leave a little tip. (45 minutes, people!!!)
11. Go to Border's and buy Harry Potter #6 for self.
12. Go to Lowe's. Get the three items on list. Can't believe they weren't sold out.
13. Go to Sam's. Buy much more expensive version of the item we were looking for at Target. You get what you pay for, or so they say.
14. Officially broke, so home we go. Hubby pays the sitter and takes him home.
15. Eat lunch and dinner. Boring ho-hum afternoon.
16. Hubby gets sick and goes to bed.
17. Put kids to bed and wait for them to fall asleep.
18. I bring in the gifts and begin wrapping.
19. Hear crying upstairs. Realize youngest is now puking.
20. Run upstairs and reassure him everything's fine. Take care of jammies, bedding, and boy.
21. Tuck little boy into bed.
22. Repeat 19-21 every 20-30 minutes for the next four hours while trying to wrap the gifts spread out across the living room floor.
21. Finally get little guy to sleep.
22. Decide it'd be wise to sleep on the couch instead of in bed with awake and miserable and sick hubby.

Saturday

1. Wake up to discover everyone in the house is feeling better. Breath huge sigh of relief.
2. Clean the house (somewhat)
3. Find Harry Potter #5 on my bookshelf and start reading.
4. Tend to family and house only as necessary. (Selfish reader)
5. Little guy and hubby still feeling a little under the weather.
6. Finish Harry Potter #5.

Sunday

1. Decide this isn't a good weekend for church and sleep in accordingly.
2. Start Harry Potter #6.
3. Keep reading until the book is finished.
4. Occassionally remember to talk to family and feed children.

Mom's House & Then the Store

Even though I spent 3 1/2 hours at my mom's house scrapbooking tonight, I only managed to get one two-page spread done. Of course, I was also helping her figure out why her scanner wouldn't work (ended up uninstalling and reinstalling the drivers and such).

After I packed up my stuff I had to go grocery shopping. Yes, at 9:00 pm, I was walking into Kroger to pick up some more last minute Thanksgiving dinner supplies. Sadly, I'm sure we'll discover Thursday morning that we're missing something essential. Doesn't it always work that way?

Done!

Ha! Just finished the second paper I had to write for tomorrow's class. I thought this one would be so much easier than the first. Not even close. The first one, my commentary, was fun to write. I focused on the use of color in Cristina Garcia's Dreaming in Cuban. While others may be bored by it, I find the whole pyschological impact of color to be fascinating.

Paper #2 was a bit more painful to write. We had to identify a community and focus on questions like whether or not women empower or undermine each other. I identified the unique combination of gender and ethnicity of the characters as their community. Then I addressed the issue of empowerment and whether or not I felt the two books in question handled the question in the same manner. Took for-flipping-ever!

But the papers are done and I'm ever so grateful. The only homework I should have to worry about over the holiday weekend is reading the next book on our reading list...oh, the agony! lol

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

The movie was wonderful. It was everything I had hoped it would be. Of all the books, has always been my second favorite (book 6 gets first place because it explained why the adults stood aside while Harry and company stood in the line of fire time and time again).

Anyhoo...back to the movie.

It's not often you can go to a movie on opening night and spend less than $20 for three people. It's unheard of, but I somehow managed it tonight. The University was sponsoring a movie night at my favorite theatre; all you had to do was show a student ID and you got two tickets free and two coupons for a medium drink and popcorn. I only had to buy candy and one ticket. The ticket cost me $10, which was fine because the show was sold out and only the University held tickets, and the candy cost me $6. $16.00 total. I can't get over it!

Standing in line with a four-year-old and a seven-year-old for 30 minutes wasn't fun. Restless doesn't even begin to describe it. Eventually we got into our seats...and only had a twenty minute wait. Again...restlessness. Figeting and anxiousness.

Of course, you know I had to take the little one to the bathroom at least once during the movie. Fifteen minutes later the oldest has to go (I made him hold it because the movie had maybe fifteen minutes left).

The boys had proclaimed this their favorite HP movie, and have demanded its purchase tomorrow. When I explained it wasn't possible there was great disappointment but I think they'll live.

All in all, what a great night!

Shadow Hearts: Covenant

I've nearly beat the game. I've already been inside the last maze leading to the climatic confrontation. A sneaking suspicion told me my characters weren't powerful enough to defeat the big boss--that's what they call the major opponents in these games--so I decided to go online and find a cheat sheet.

Boy, oh boy. I missed so many little side quests! These side quests provide incentive for completing them, lovely little goodies to help your characters. Weapons, armor, and various other items of usefulness can be found or won. So, cheat sheet bookmarked and open for easy reference, I started to backtrack. I'm glad I did. I unlocked another fusion monster for Kurando and have powered up several other characters.

Of course, having the cheat sheet means I now realize just how many things I've missed and how much more powerful my characters would be if I had only known! Ah, well. It's just a game, right?

I find this funny.

You're Godzilla!
Mean and Green.


Which B-Movie Badass Are You?
brought to you by Quizilla

Me, Godzilla? That's hilarious!

Meh

I've been thinking about this a lot lately. I know I enjoy writing, but do I have what it takes to dedicate myself to it? I'm not sure. When I consider how often it's the last item on the priority list, I think perhaps not. I can't even say its the fault of the husband, children, job, or household chores. I watch too much tv to say such a thing.

~Reading doesn't count. It's part of the whole process for me.~

So then I ask myself if it's not a priority, what is it? A hobby? It's certainly not an addiction. I can go for days, even weeks, without writing a single word. It used to be. I remember when I couldn't get enough time on the computer, when I'd ignore television and even the people in my life, just so I could get the story out of my head and onto the screen.

When did I lose that drive? Will I ever get it back?

Then there's the whole publishing thing. Is it absolutely necessary to be published in the traditional sense? Lots of people take the e-book route. Lots and lots. I don't know how well they're doing but they've at least made an effort to get their name and book out there.

I have a story I've been seriously considering polishing (grammar and typos only) and converting to a pdf. I think I might just throw it on my website, or this here blog, and let the curious read it for free. I'd be sharing my story, and isn't that really what it's all about?

I'm going to keep thinking on this. I just don't know what in the hell I'm meant to do...

Oh, The Things They Say

Last night was parent-teacher conference for my oldest son. We hadn't heard all that much from his teacher this year so we really didn't know what to expect. After last year's continual up-hill struggles I must admit I didn't have high expectations. While he didn't get all As, he scored mainly between 89% - 70% on the majority of the scored areas. They don't award letter grades just yet. The grading scale is set up something like this:

1 = 100-90%
2 = 89-70%
3 = 69% or lower

His report card had a few ones and a couple threes, mostly he scored right in that average range. I can live with that.

What I really like is its evident his teacher likes him. She told us "there's not a mean bone in his body". She also told us he's quite the storyteller. Very creative. While most teachers would have labeled his exaggerations as lies, she complimented his public speaking abilities. "He's very confident and at ease in front of his classmates". Even when he's telling a whopper.

Here's a great example of a story stretched beyond the truth.

First, the facts: my son had borrowed his dad's hat that morning, another little boy took a liking to the hat and wanted to claim it for his own. This led to a confrontation the teacher and principal had to sort out. At first, my son stuck to the truth--it's his dad's hat and he has to take it home or he'll get in trouble. Unfortunately, the other little fellow wouldn't admit defeat at this point, forcing my son to add some flare to his story in an attempt to earn sympathy points.

The hat wasn't just his dad's. It was his dad's dad's dying friend's hat. Yes, the child actually said the little knit cap originally belonged to someone dear to the family who was dying.

Save those chuckles. I'm going to give you a laugh out loud moment.

Now, you'd expect most teachers to be offended by this behavior. My son's teacher is going to channel it into fiction writing. (I think I may love her). She also said they'd work on when it's appropriate to make things up and when it's not, something we'll reinforce at home.

Now for the really funny part. I thought I was going to die of embarrassment. The teacher asks my son to read from his journal. He flips through the book he's been keeping since the beginning of the school year and selects a passage on keeping his family safe. Aw, how sweet, you say. Uh huh. I thought so, too, right up until he said "I want to keep my family safe from drugs and alcohol" and then he looks at me and his eyes get real big and accussing, "Mom!"

Great! His teacher and her assistant now think I need rehab or something. That's just lovely. You know that's how rumors get started, don't you? LOL

Good News (Let's Hope It Lasts)

The little man saw the surgeon as scheduled yesterday. It was pain-free and promising. If in four weeks time the cyst looks as flat as it did yesterday, we won't have to worry about surgery. However, if the little bump that has been there since birth reappears, the surgery is back on.

Any and all of your prayers have made a difference. Thank you.

Ever feel this way?

From the archives of The Writer at Work: Picture

When I saw this I couldn't help but to identify. It often feels as if most of my ideas are cliched, idiotic, pointless, or too chaotic to organize into anything coherent. But every now and again, there's a solid story waiting for me to find the time and inclination to write it.

I've had a pretty good idea simmering for quite some time. I'm thinking I'll pull it out for Nano. Sadly, October is almost over and I've not done any of the preplanning I'd hoped to accomplish.

Little Man Update

My youngest saw the surgeon on Tuesday. It was horrific.

Although our family doctor had lanced the cyst the week before, he hadn't gotten rid of all of the infection. The surgeon palpatated the still swollen and sensitive area and announced he had to get the rest of the infection out before he could even schedule the surgery. He also explained he couldn't numb the area--apparently anesthetic doesn't work on abscesses--and that he would just have to do what was coming next as quickly as possible.

The Little Man was so brave but no one could have withstood what he went through without screaming and crying. The surgeon made an incision slightly larger than the one our family doctor had made and began pushing on the wound, much as you push at a zit to make it pop. The infection started to emerge in chunks. Once the surgeon had pushed as much out as possible, he grabbed a syringe (no needle) and filled it with saline solution. Twice he pushed the saline into the open wound in an effort to cleanse the site.

My poor baby has never screamed so long or so hard. His daddy had to hold his arms down and all we could do was try to calm him down with the tone of our voices. Even though I don't do well with blood, I couldn't stay away, so I stood near his feet and petted his legs. What I really wanted to do was push the doctor away and scoop my son up. Although the surgeon's actions were in G's best interest, it seemed like torture.

Finally the procedure was over and I could hold my little man. He cried and cried, telling me how much it hurt. Even the promise of ice cream with sprinkles couldn't stop the tears.

We go back next Tuesday so the surgeon can verify the infection has indeed disappeared. Then he'll schedule surgery to remove the cyst. Although the IV may scare the crap out of G, the surgery should be much easier on him than what's he been through the last few times he's been to the doctor's office.

Tayln

Most of you probably don't know this but I won a copy of Holly Lisle's latest fantasy book, Tayln. (Many thanks to Michelle for the unexpected but much loved copy!)

I started reading the book over the weekend. This is one of those books that makes you want to sit down and just read. Putting it down is damned difficult. I guess I should be grateful I had finished the last of my papers and classroom reading assignments before I started it, otherwise I'd be in serious trouble.

While I haven't finished the book yet (I'm only about halfway through), I highly recommend it. Talyn is an amazing character. A-Maze-Ing. Honest, loyal, flawed, honorable, vulnerable, strong. The list of character attributes goes on. She's a woman and a warrior, a combination of strengths and weaknesses that create a vivid, breathing character.

The plot is also brilliantly laid out. I don't want to give anything away, which means I really can't say much more. The plotting moves the story smoothly forward, challenges preconceptions, and raises moral and ethical questions in the lives of the characters.

I can't say enough good things about this book. Go buy it. Now.

Finished

I just finished writing the first paper for my Latina Literature class. I can't believe how long it took me to write 5 little pages.

This is good news because it means I can focus on my Nano project.

Tired. Must sleep.

Later.

Picture Time

I love this picture of me and my little guy cuddling by the campfire, which of course you can't see. :) Posted by Picasa

Is It Ever Going to End?

I would really like to stop missing work because of illness or injury. The last few weeks have been ridiculous! I thought we were finally past the worst but I was wrong. I worked for about three hours today and then had to come home because one of the boys needed to go the doctor's office.

My youngest son has had a cyst on his upper chest near his collarbone since he was born. It gets fatty tissue in it every now and then but it's usually not an issue because a little squeeze and the thing pops just like a zit. Nice imagery, huh? But it's true.

Well over the weekend the damn thing got huge, hard, and red. Clearly infected. We babied it through the weekend and I made an appointment for him tonight after work. I dropped him off at the daycare and got a phone call a few hours later. The thing had popped and drained a bit on its own but apparently it had only made matters worse because my son was crying and upset, complaining whenever he had to move his arm or whenever his shirt would rub against it.

I have to say my boss has been beyond understanding and patient. Remember, this is a new job and taking time off isn't necessarily the best way to start off in a new department. But what do you do? My baby was in pain.

I picked him up from daycare and drove him right to the doctor's office--several hours before our appointment. The doctor numbed it, lanced it, and then had the nurse bandage it. Of course, it wasn't nearly as painless as that simple sentence would make you think. He cried and screamed through the entire process. "Owwie, owwie....mommy...mommy...owwie..."

I nearly passed out. I'm blaming it on the blood and pus. Truth is I think it was the emotional stress of listening to him and knowing I couldn't do anything to make it better.

Unfortunately I think the scene will be repeated next week. The doctor referred the little guy to a surgeon for removal of the cyst. I'm assuming it's a in/out patient procedure because we're going to the surgeon's office and not the hospital to have it done.

Next week hubby has to go. I'll be there but it'd be nice to have his daddy there, too.

NaNo

I will be participating in NaNo this year. If you're a writer but unfamiliar with the term, you may want to visit the official site. Basically, in one month's time you're supposed to produce 50K on a new story.

I've signed up for the last two years and failed miserably. Won't stop me from trying again, though.

If you want to keep track of my progress (or lack there-of), visit my NaNo blog. I've already started updating it with pre-writing goals and the like.

Long Weekend

Ick. That's the word that most accurately describes my weekend. I don't really feel like going into detail but here's a few sketchy details:

I had been feverish for several days.
I passed out Saturday morning.
Littlest son found me bleeding on bathroom floor.
I eventually got myself and the bathroom cleaned up.
My face has looked better.
I have felt better.
Had a teenager stay the rest of the weekend at my house because hubby was up north.
Watched lots of movies.
Seen doctor on Monday.
I am on antibiotics, which means I should be on the mend.

Scrapbook progress

I've really been scrapbooking a lot lately. At home, at my mom's, at my sister-in-law's, and at my mom's church. Several pages have been added to various albums.

Last night was my night to scrapbook at my mom's. I worked on a page all about me. I answered a bunch of questions about myself and included them on the two-page spread, along with some pictures of me with my boys. I also did an adorable baby page featuring my youngest son. So, so cute. Okay, it might be that he was just too sweet for words. Those eyes!

At home, I'm trying to catch up on the Halloween pictures. I've finally gotten to my 4-year-old's first Halloween, which means I'm only three years behind now. I'm hoping to catch up by the end of this weekend as I'd like to set the book out for everyone to look at over the holiday season.

Good News + Concert = Me Happy

My girlfriend and I have a tradition. It's a silly, totally-stuck-in-the-80s type of tradition but it's ours. Whenever Def Leppard offers a concert within a reasonable driving distance, we buy tickets. We tried adding up how many of these concerts we've been to and I must admit I'm embarrassed to admit how many of them we've managed to watch over the years. I think we agreed it was more than 10 but less than 15. Of course, that wasn't counting the numerous other concerts we've been to...just Def Leppard.

Well, true to tradition, when we found out the band was going to be playing in one of our favorite venues, we purchased tickets. There's eight of us crazy enough to pay nearly $50 a ticket. Call us crazy. Everyone else does!

The only fly in the ointment has been a babysitter issue. The concert is on a Sunday night (who was the moron who set that up?) and the kids have school the following morning. No big deal if the hubby hadn't planned a long weekend away to go hunting with his friends. The issue is complicated because my regular babysitter is a senior, so she has school the next day, same as mine. And how do you ask family members to keep your kids overnight and to take them to school/daycare the next morning because you want to go out partying with your friends? Do you see the problem here?

Luckily, things have a way of working themselves out. The hubby is going up earlier than planned, which means he's coming home earlier than planned, too! Yay! He'll be home Sunday afternoon. Just in time for me to kiss him on the cheek and head out the door to revel in my favorite 80s music.

Busy Week

Well, the kidlet is finally feeling better. He's been fever-free for two days now. This means he gets to go back to school on Monday! I'm grateful because that means the routine will be back in place. No more calling in sick or trying to figure out who can take care of him while we're at work.

Speaking of work, the new job is going great. I really like everyone I work with and, although I still feel like a fish out of water, the job seems pretty stress-free. I'm sure it'll have its moments--what job doesn't?--but, if this last week was any indication of what a normal week in the office is like, it's going to be a very enjoyable place to work.

Now onto a completely different subject. Writing. I did manage to write something during the week. It wasn't much but I figure any progress is worth mentioning. I'm hoping the return of routine and less stress will help me find the time and energy to make writing a priority again.

Kids Have the Worst Timing

So it's my first week in the new office right? Wouldn't you know one of the kids would get sick? My oldest started to run a fever Sunday morning. Monday the hubby stayed home with him but I had to stay home today. The doctor has said he won't be able to go back to school until he's been fever-free for 24 hrs, so the hubby is planning on staying home tomorrow.

Fun stuff.

And That's That

I had envisioned my last day in the office to be one where my giddiness would drive everyone else to distraction. Instead, I worked my tail off and hardly socialized with anyone. I know my efforts will make a difference in the coming week but it sucked having to closet myself away in my office.

Once I finished burdening my already overwhelmed coworkers with the last of my various duties, I turned off my computer and the lights in my office. How empty the room looked. No pictures or childish artwork on the walls. Nothing remained of me. My lava lamp, my plant, my radio...all gone. Just as I would be in a few minutes.

I hugged everyone goodbye, determined not to cry (sSaying goodbye is never easy, not even when you're excited and anxious to begin anew elsewhere). Then I walked out the door with the last of my posessions tucked safely in my tote.

Monday begins a whole new adventure. Wish me luck!

The Difference in Paper

I own a HP Photo printer and I love it. But you know when the manufacturer tells you buying their paper really does makes a difference in print quality? Well, you really should heed the warning.

I wanted to print two five-by-seven prints on a piece of 8.5 x 11 paper. Unfortunately, the only paper I had in that size was not HP photo paper; it was Kodak. What a waste of ink! The difference in quality is amazing. I love how the printer works with HP photo paper but it totally sucks with non-HP brands of paper.

Looks like I'm going to have to order some HP photo paper. Now, what do I do with all the Kodak and off-brand photo paper I have laying around? Ideas anyone?

Checking In

I don't really have anything to say. Hubby is watching football, kidlets are in bed, and I'm left with some time to myself.

Today I managed to get the laundry down to manageable piles. I'd like to say it's all done but I can't. It's going to take more than one Sunday afternoon to catch up. I'll just have to be satisfied with clean towels and a variety of clean clothes to choose from for the upcoming week.

I also mopped the floor. May not sound like much but believe me when I say you can't believe the difference!

Once I had the house in order, I decided it was time to catch up on my journaling. I've been scrapbooking steadily over the last few weeks but none of the pages were complete because they were missing journaling blocks. I am a firm believer in journaling when it comes to my scrapbooks and do very few pages without at least a token entry to explain the who, where, when, and why depicted in my pictures.

Historically this hasn't been much of a problem because I tend to do most of my scrapping at home. Well, that's not necessary true anymore. My Tuesday night scrapbooking date with my mom is at her house, not mine. So I often do the pages and leave room for journaling. The problem is I don't come right home and complete the pages. I set them aside with good intentions I usually fail to follow through on.

Well, today I did journaling for my oldest son's first year of basketball, a fishing trip, and Halloween. Quite a wide range of topics there but I think I managed to pull it off.

Now I just need to get the pages of my desk and into their respective albums...

Poetry

There are very few poems I like. The fault in many cases is not the author's but mine as a reader. How does one learn to read poetry? How to analyze it? Critique it? Appreciate it? Is it a developed skill or an instinctual one?

The art of conveying so much with so few words is awe-insipiring. Of course, that feeling only occurs on those rare instances where a poem resonates deep within me. Most of the time I'm simply baffled by the meaning, the hidden agenda buried deep beneath the surface. Am I trying to search out what's not there? Or am I blind to references others would find obvious?

I know very few poets. I tend to migrate toward other novel or short-story writers. These people speak to me on a level I can not only admire, but one I understand. While we may see things differently, I'm confident in my instincts. I know what good prose sounds and feels like, how it flows and ebbs. I can discuss point-of-view, themes, dialogue, monologues, plotlines, motivation, and a number of other writerly topics with some level of confidence.

Change the subject to poetry and I'm done talking. I'll listen but rarely do I comprehend. I have no insights to offer. My incompetence is vast and glaring when poetry is introduced.

Even when I recognize something compelling in a poem, I couldn't begin to tell you why it works. I don't understand the rules, of which there seems to be many. I've heard of them, been forced to study them, but I don't instinctively recognize errors more proficent readers would identify.

Now, this being said, I do read poetry on rare occassions. For my Latina writers class I have read several poems already. I also try to read my friend's poetry; I don't always have a comment but occassionally one will strike me as outstanding and I'll let them know. Today was such a day. I think this is one of the best poems I've seen Crystal write and I hope she's not offended if I point you in her direction.

Lily by Crystal (she's my babysitter! And already has a poem published in an anthology(?) I believe.)

Once again, well done, Crystal! I don't know why it works but it does.

Stuff

Let's see...I hate mornings but not as much as I used to. Over the weekend I got my hair permed. Yes, you heard me, permed. I've had straight hair for several years now and I've liked it, but the truth is it takes me fives times as long to get ready in the morning when my hair is straight. I have to blow dry it and curl the ends if I want to look presentable. Because my hair is so thick, it takes 15-20 minutes just to blow dry. When it's curly, five minutes is all I need. Wash, gel, scrunch, bobby-pin, and go! 'Tis fabulous!

While we're talking about getting ready for work in the morning, I should mention I recently cleaned out my closet. I cleaned it so well, I threw away most of my wardrobe. (I still have the 40 gallon garbage bag...do you think there's a way to get these perfectly fine but out-dated clothes down to the Katrina victims?) I have a few pairs of pants and several shirts left but the pickings are pretty slim. I need more variety. Thus, I intend to slowly replenish. I'm thinking slacks will be the first thing I focus on.

Jumping to a new topic.

I've been training my coworkers on how to do my job. It's going well but I'm feeling a tad bit stressed by how long the process is taking. There's so much that needs to be done before I leave and I'm beginning to wonder how much I'll actually be able to accomplish. I don't like leaving a mess...and this job is a mess, especially when you consider it's the beginning of our busiest semester.

I also need to clean out my office. In five years I've accumulated quite a bit. Pictures of the kids. Artwork courtsey of the kids. Books. A plant. My radio. A lava lamp. A clock. Food. I intend to start bringing it all home next week.

Well, it's almost time to start the workday (I get here a half-hour early thanks to the bus route).

Katrina

Over the last couple weeks I've heard so many disturbing stories and seen such unbelievable footage. My heart aches for the men, women, children, and pets whose lives were lost or destroyed. I can only imagine what it must have been like to survive the storm only to discover the danger hadn't yet passed. And even though I can imagine, I'm sure reality far exceeds my imagination.

I can't watch the news without becoming irate. Between the government, the rapists, the looters, the prejudice, and the racism, I find myself ranting and raving at the television. I also find myself questioning the nature of our civilization. The answers I'm coming up with are ugly.

Yet, despite the depravity and incompetence, there are also stories of hope and happy endings. I try to weigh the good against the bad, to think of the people who have given money or supplies to help those in need.

Writing Update

LMAO.

Updated enough?

The Job Hunt Ends

I gave my bos my two week notice this afternoon. I accepted a position in another office on campus today. The pay is slighty more than that of my current position but the best thing is going to be the change in job duties. I'm so relieved that I won't be dealing with the things I've been dealing with for the last four and half years (November would be my 5 year anniversay if I stayed).

In my new position as an Administrative Assistant Senior I will be responsible for a variety things. Budget, project management, back-up to the help-desk employees, web pages, reconciling credit card expenditures, and much more will fall under my purview. I expect to be busy but I can't imagine the level of stress will be anywhere near what it has been over the last few years.

My last day in my current office is September 23. I'll begin the new job the following Monday.

Yay, me!

I think it's Monday.

I know it's Tuesday but it sure doesn't feel like it! My oldest son had a headache on and off all weekend. Although I'm not sure I believe him (he's acting fine at the moment), he didn't think he could handle going to school. Now, if he were the type to pull this stunt all the time, his little butt would be at school instead of upstairs in his bedroom.

I did take him to the doctor, though, and I set up an appointment with the eye doctor.

Now I'm waiting on the hubby to show up so I can go to work. I told my boss I would be there by 1:00-1:30. Oh, joy.

Blogroll down?

I'm assuming none of my links are appearing because of a glitch on their end and not mine. Hopefully the problem will be fixed soon.

Katrina - Another way to Help

While I'd rather give money to help the relief effort, there are other ways people can make a difference. As anyone who owns a television, radio, or computer knows there are thousands who have been left homeless due to Katrina's merciless fury. Organizations are attempting to offer assistance in any way possible.

This website provides a means for communicating a willingness to house individuals or families who have lost everything: tacitus.org. I realize this isn't something most people would be comfortable doing but if you can find it in your heart or means to help, please do.

They're Going Home

My sister and her three children are moving back to North Carolina. They've been living with my dad for the last 11 months and we've enjoyed having them so close. Of course, it's been difficult living with dad the clean-freak, putting up with Nutty, and not having their own space. Many nights my sister had to sleep in a bed with one or more of her kids.

More difficult was the actual separation of their family. My sister had left her husband in North Carolina. Thousands of miles separated husband and wife, father and children. The problems they face as a couple and as a family cannot be fixed over thousands of miles. It's just not possible. So, after much deliberation and no small amount of emotional energy, my sister and her husband have agreed its time to work on their issues and give their family a chance. Thus, the move home.

After work tonight I took my boys over to my dad's house so we could say goodbye to my niece and nephew. Over the holiday weekend my dad will be driving my sister and her kids down to North Carolina. The two oldest children are going to stay there with their dad but my sister and the baby will be coming back up here--my sister has agreed to finish out her two weeks at work and needs to finish packing up their belongings for the final trip home.

How sad to say goodbye. I am going to miss them and I think they'll miss us just as much.

While I'm saddened by the trouble in my sister's marriage, I have to say the one good thing that came out of all this is that her children finally know our family. We're not just people in pictures anymore. We're aunts and uncles, grandparents and cousins.

I imagine the phone bills will be tripled after they move. It won't just be me talking to my sister any more. Each of the kids will no doubt want their turn to reconnect.

Writing

Who has time for it? I don't know that I'll be able to work it into my schedule at all this week!

First Day of School

Well, my oldest started second grade today. Thanks to the bus garage it was not a smooth welcome into the school year. First, the bus came 15 minutes early. Early, people! So instead of getting on the bus at the quoted 7:15 am time, we're now required to be at the bus stop by 6:50 or so. However, the horrible timing wasn't the only offense committed. While my son wasn't there many of the children were but they didn't get to ride the bus either. She drove right on by because instead of being at the edge of the road they were standing on the driveway near the house. Mind you, this is the same spot they've stood in for the last two years and never had a problem.

Since I was the only parent there, I volunteered to take my son and one of the other little boys into school. I dropped them off and went to the bus garage. Excuses, excuses. Bottom line: Have the kids there a little before 7 am and standing closer to the road because she's a new driver.

Bleh.

Thanks to the community school system I was an hour late for work on the first day of our Fall semester. NOT GOOD.

On the brighter side, my son says he likes his teacher.

More Drama

Warning: Family rant ahead. Strong lanugage used. Proceed with caution.

You know what I'd love to tell my dad? No need to guess. I'll just blurt it out here on the web for the entire blog-o-sphere to read. I'd love to tell my dad to get some damned self-respect or his head out of his ass, whichever works best for him. Maybe a clue would be a good thing to have, too.

Why the sudden hissy fit of frustration? Apparently his psycho girlfriend--you remember her don't you? The alcoholic who has made it a habit to offend or alienate everyone in my family--bitch slapped him this weekend. Any harder and he said he would have stumbled. Now, my dad isn't a twig or a weakling so this slap had to have some umph behind it.

What did he do? He pretended to dial 9-1-1 and then acted as if he were talking to the operator. Of course, when psycho started hyperventilating, bawling, and mimicking heart attack symptoms, my sap of a dad told her he was sorry. The bitch hits you and then you kiss her manipulative ass? WTF?

I bet you're wondering what provoked her into slapping him, though, aren't you? Check this out. He told her "I don't love you." Seriously, that's why she hit him.

I still can't believe that bitch hit my dad.

Worse, I can't believe he let her manipulate him into feeling like the bad guy.

You know what makes me crazy? If my sister or I were in a relationship where a man ever dared to raise his hand to us, my dad would be the first in line to kick his ass. Dad would also be the first to insist we get the hell out of that relationship. He'd even go so far as to move us into his home and disrupt his life in order for us to be safe. I have not a single doubt about this.

But will he kick her out of his life? No. He'll be mad at her for a week or so and then the fear of being alone will kick into high gear and he'll conveniently forget what a bitch she is. She'll cry, tell him she's horny (did I mention she's a first class ho?), and he'll welcome her into his life once again.

I know it's wrong to wish bad things on people but this woman really brings out Evil Krista.


Me and my two boys. Posted by Picasa


This was the only rollercoaster we could all ride on together. My cousin's daughter just turned three and they let her on the ride, too!  Posted by Picasa


My 7-year-old's first rollercoaster ride ever was the Corkscrew! I still can't believe he was big enough to ride the big rides!  Posted by Picasa

Sinus Cold

Other than "ewww" what can you say? My head hurts and all I want to do is sleep.

Bittersweet Family Reunion

Grandma's memorial service was today. The hubby dropped off the boys at daycare while I did my hair and makeup. He returned just as I was finishing up. Amazingly enough, we got there in plenty of time and didn't feel at all rushed. (I'm notoriously late for everything, so this was impressive.).

This particular branch of the family is quite spread out. We have relatives in Florida, Texas, Wyoming, New York, North Carolina, and some states I'm sure I've forgotten to include. It's sadly true that nothing brings the family together like a funeral. There were missing family members, of course, but the turn out was exceptional given the distances some of these people had to travel.

The most surprising reunion was in finding my cousin, Duane. It seems he lives less than a half hour from me. His dad had tracked him down a few months back (long, convoluted family story there) and had been keeping him apprised of grandma's pending death.

I don't have a lot of memories of Duane but I did remember the one common interest we had had as children. Writing. He used to write science fiction, IIRC. It seems he still writes, although not as much as he'd like. (Boy, does that sound familiar!).

I also got a chance to visit with my younger, twin uncles. Mind you, I don't call them Uncle Joe or Uncle John. It's just not natural to call someone younger than you by that particular title. They'll always be Joe and John to me, the boys my brother and I played in the tree house and woods with when we'd come to visit. They're both married now and have families of their own.

Then there was my second cousin, David. He's a bit older than me and I don't have many memories of him. We still managed to have a nice little visit. His mom and dad have told me so much about him and his family that it really wasn't hard to strike up a conversation.

The most amusing thing, to me anyway, is that most of them had to comment on my height. I'm short. Probably the shortest one of the bunch. Most of the time it isn't that noticeable (hey, be nice!) but when you're surrounded by those much taller than yourself it becomes strikingly obvious. So much so that my one Uncle kept refering to me as the "midget". LOL

All in all, it was nice seeing people I usually don't run into on a regular basis. It's times like this that make me regret not keeping in closer contact.

Goodbye to Grandma

My mom called this afternoon. Grandma has passed onto a better place and is no longer in any pain.

Deservedly Reprimanded

After dinner tonight the hubby mentioned to me that he reads my blog every now and then (which I already knew). He was more than a bit concerned when he realized I had been telling people I was home alone while he was gone fishing in Canada. "Not smart" was a phrase I'm sure he uttered more than a time or two.

And you know what? He's absolutely right. It was more than "not smart", it was downright ignorant. Despite my over-developed sense of paranoia I announced to the entire blog-o-sphere I would be all by my lonesome. What the hell was I thinking? Although I would guess anyone reading this blog is harmless and has no desire to actually track me down, the possibility of some computer-savvy psycho running across my blog is more than possible.

So in the future I will keep such tidbits to myself until hubby is safely home again. Then I can post how my week or weekend alone went.

Go ahead and scold me. I know I was bad.

Taking the Challenge

I joined Monica Jackson's Writers Write challenge. The goal is to write every day, six days a week. I did great Monday night with an added 700+ words to my WIP, Magic & Madness. I knew I wouldn't be able to write last night so I tried writing on my lunch hour. I got one and a half paragraphs before I got interrupted; Tuesdays will remain the most challenging day as they're my scrapbooking night at mom's.

An Unbelievable Weekend

This weekend was a roller-coaster ride of emotions. I think my current state of exhaustion is a mere side-effect.

First, the good news. I'm an aunt once again. Nephew number 9 has arrived. He was born Saturday afternoon to my youngest brother and his wife. They named the little fellow Luke Jasper. Isn't that cute? Jasper is such an uncommon name but I love how it compliments Luke. They baby weighed in at 8lbs and 3oz and measured 19 3/4 inches long. A good sized little fellow, wouldn't you say? His mama only had to push twice to bring him into this world.

When my brother called to say the baby had been born I didn't believe him. No one had even called to say "hey, we're on our way to the hospital" or "Jaime was just admitted to the hospital. We're having a baby today." So the shock of hearing he was actually here was a great surprise. I have to admit I was a bit disappointed we hadn't been informed but the feeling quickly passed when I realized I had a new baby to get to know.

I can't say the rest of the family was so forgiving. My dad was particularly offended and didn't go to the hospital until the next day. My sister and I argued with him to no avail. We only pissed him off more by defending Jake and Jaime's decision to do the delivery on their own. We got him riled enough to get our other brother irritated with us...oh, well. No one can piss you off like family, right?

In the end it all worked out, though. My dad went to visit the baby at the hospital this morning and then the rest of the family (including my dad) visited them at home late tonight. Hopefully this enmass gathering made up for the lack of visitors at the hospital.

My grandma survived the weekend but hospice has announced she's "actively dying", whatever that means. So I expect there will be a funeral within the next week and half.

Now for the really tragic news. Knowing my grandma is going to pass softens the blow. We have had lots of time to visit and say our goodbyes. We can also see how frail she is and how difficult life has become at 92. When death is abrupt and descends upon a loved one without warning, there is no way to soften the blow. Yesterday a good friend of mine lost her husband in an automobile accident. When I received the phone call letting me know I could hardly fathom her loss.

I've said many prayers for her and her family since last night. If you'd like to ask for God to help carry the burden of her loss, please do. Her name is June and I think she can use every well wish and prayer we can give her.

Writing Update

As you can imagine not much progress has been made this week. Considering the circumstances, I figure any progress is worth boasting about, though, so bear with me. :)

Dragonborn:
I don't know if I'm working on the rewrite of Dragonborn or simply creating a new story that parallels my first attempt at fantasy. The female MC and the antagonist have the same names and their backstorys are similar to those in DragonBorn but I'm not sure how much else will remain. Small pieces of worldbuilding still work but for the most part I think it's going to be completely revamped.

I figure I have to write this story because it just won't leave me alone. But what, then, do I do with my first sad attempt at fantasy? Do I toss it? The urge to toss it onto the Internet as a pdf with copyright stamped all over it is there but then I worry about what that would do to my chances of getting the majorly revamped story published. How different do they have to be? The title no longer works. The MC has changed. The world history is mutating. It'll no longer be the first in a trilogy but a stand alone novel. Yet, instinct tells me to hold the original close.

Magic & Madness:
I tried writing on this story a little bit this week. I think I added a paragraph or two after I deleted twice as many. ~sigh~

Redeeming Angels:
Didn't even give it a passing thought.

For Fun.

Your Hidden Talent
You are a great communicator. You have a real way with words.
You're never at a loss to explain what you mean or how you feel.
People find it easy to empathize with you, no matter what your situation.
When you're up, you make everyone happy. But when you're down, everyone suffers.

Grandma

I don't know if I've mentioned this or not but my Grandma is going to die in my mom's house. Several years ago my mom and her husband remodeled their house so my great-grandparents could come to live with them. They sectioned off their house and installed a fourth bathroom. Since the day they moved in they've had their own space: a bedroom, a bathroom, and a living room. Within the last year and a half my mom and her husband also installed a "Michigan Room" for them.

When my grandparents became too old and it became too dangerous to allow them to live on their own, they were moved into separate nursing homes. Why separate ones, you ask? Well, Grandpa had some serious health issues and dementia, whereas Grandma had her health but not her eyesight. They couldn't stay at the same place because their needs were so very different. Grandpa went into a nursing home and Grandma into assisted living quarters.

Being separated was so very hard on the two of them. It broke their hearts and it broke my mom's heart to see them so sad. With a little finesse and a lot of love my mom began caring for them in her home. It wasn't easy, especially when Grandpa was still alive. He was quite the character. Grumpy. Bossy. Particular. And sick. Eventually he went into the hospital and came home to my mom's house with hospice, much as my Grandma has.

It's been a couple of years since his death and I know Grandma never stopped missing him. When she was still in the hospital she asked my aunt, "Do you think if I die here Pa will know where to find me?" Coming home eased that worry from her mind. She is ready to go but lingers on. I think it's because she's waiting for her oldest son to arrive, which will be today. I'm not sure how long she'll be with us after that.

After work tonight I stopped by mom's house where my great-grandma has been brought home to die. Hospice has been arranged and meds are being provided to help with pain management. The end started last week when she had a heart attack and the doctor's discovered some blockage in her heart. Refusing surgery, she merely wants to made comfortable as she passes from this world into the next.

So, tonight I stopped by for a brief visit. I love her dearly but being there is very uncomfortable for me. So why am I going back tomorrow?

Missing Them Already

Well, the hubby left this morning at 6:00 am for Canada. I vaguely remember telling him to be safe and "I love you". Mornings aren't exactly my best time of day.

The kidlets are at the campground with Grandpa and Grandma, which leaves me all by my lonesome. After I dropped them off I ran to the grocery store--I always spend more than I anticipate. The rest of the night was spent playing the PlayStation and watching TV.

Yet, no matter how well entertained I was, I couldn't help missing them. The house is empty without my family around. I missed goodnight kisses and snuggling with my hubby before falling asleep.

The dog even seemed lost. She kept going upstairs to the boys' bedrooms and then coming back downstairs like she was looking for her sleepig partners, which she was.

This and That. Again.

Let's see.

Went to a jewelry party tonight. Spent $49 on a pair of earrings and a necklace. I realize they don't go together but separately they'll work with other pieces I own.

I also used the JoAnn's gift certificate I had gotten for my birthday. I bought some metal glue, some embossing powder, a black staz-on ink pad, and some ribbon. All for scrapbooking, of course.

My hubby is leaving on Sunday for a week long fishing trip in Canada. I think he'd be happier about it if he wouldn't have broken his favorite fishing pole last night. He's off to buy a replacement today but you know how it is. You can never quite replace the old tried-n-true with any real satisfaction.

The boys are staying with their grandparents for three nights next week. I imagine the house will seem very empty with them and their daddy gone. Don't worry about me, though. I'll have the dog and cat for company.

My great-grandmother, who is in her nineties, has been hospitalized because of a heart attack. They found some blockage and wanted to do surgery but she declined. They're going to make her as comfortable as possible and then send her home. She told my mom, "I'm ready to die, I just don't want to be in pain." I get teary-eyed thinking about it.

My brother is replacing the roof on his house this weekend so that's on the evening agenda. Only, it's not just his roof but the trusses, too. Big job. Messy job. Not a very fun job. I'm glad I'll just be watching. LOL

And that pretty much brings you up-to-date on my not so entertaining life.

Something for Fun.












The Keys to Your Heart



You are attracted to those who are unbridled, untrammeled, and free.

In love, you feel the most alive when your lover is creative and never lets you feel bored.

You'd like to your lover to think you are stylish and alluring.

You would be forced to break up with someone who was emotional, moody, and difficult to please.

Your ideal relationship is open. Both of you can talk about everything... no secrets.

Your risk of cheating is zero. You care about society and morality. You would never break a commitment.

You think of marriage as something precious. You'll treasure marriage and treat it as sacred.

In this moment, you think of love as something you thirst for. You'll do anything for love, but you won't fall for it easily.


New Addiction

I have a confession to make. I'm addicted to the Playstation. It happened during the second week of my vacation. A few months ago I bought Shadow Hearts: Covenant, a role playing game.

I played it now and again but could go weeks without even thinking about it. That's not the case anymore. I love playing that stupid game! LOL

Of course, I'm spending so much time on the Playstation that I'm not writing. Strangely, I don't even feel guilty. I know I'll start writing again when I'm ready. I always do.

Progress

Well, it ended up that today was really my first day back to work. I walked into the office Monday morning and didn't last for 5 minutes. I hurt so bad I thought I was going to pass out. Literally. Things got fuzzy and my vision narrowed. As I have more than my fair share of experience at passing out, I knew this was bad news and sat down in the nearest chair. When I could stand up I told my boss I had to leave.

I couldn't even drive myself home. My hubby had to excuse himself from work in order to get me safely home.

I'm not sure what was causing the pain but it seems 1000mg of Tylenol and a three hour nap took the edge off. I woke up to tenderness but not pain, which meant I quickly cancelled my afternoon appointment with the doctor's office. Made a new appt with the OB/GYN who gave me the C-section 4 1/2 years ago. Don't know if it was the scar tissue causing the pain or an ovarian cyst but I'd rather have him deal with it. (Too much information?)

Anyhoo..today was my first day back in the office. I can't believe I managed to get most of my email sorted, answered, and filed away. Amazing. I also made some adjustments to the websites I'm responsible for maintaining. Not bad at all.

Hopefully tomorrow will go so well.

Huh?

Okay, so I go on vacation for a couple weeks and what happens? Michelle up and deletes her site.

Hey you, you better email the link to your new website! And give me a clue as to what in the hell happened.

Goodbye Vacation

Well, tonight's the last night of my vacation. Tomorrow it's back to the ole grindstone. ~sigh~

I loved being home. I hate the thought of returning to work. But I love having a paycheck so come 5:45 tomorrow morning, I'll be dragging my butt out of bed and into the shower. Ick.

I can't even imagine how much crap I'll have to sort through when I get into the office in the morning. Double ick.

Home

Well, I made it back from Wisconsin. The long drive home was made longer by a blown tire in Chicago. That was fun. I heard some funky sound and next thing I know we can see black chunks of tire flying through the air. Must admit to being impressed by how well the 5th Wheel drove with a shredded tire.

The day had started out ordinarily enough. A few clouds in the sky and projected rain for the afternoon. My sister and I carried our lawn chairs down to the concert grounds in the morning. We had a great view. Much better than the one I had had for Tim McGraw. After watching the karoake contest and listening to a new artist we headed back to the campground (about a mile walk one-way according to my dad--I'm hopeless with distance).

We had just finished lunch and tending to Little O (my two month old nephew) when the bad weather struck. I've never seen such a scary sky. I think it looked even more ominous simply because of our vulnerable location. Sitting in the middle of a field with hundreds of other campers in RVs and tents doesn't exactly make one feel safe when a tornado warning has been issued for the very town you're visiting.

The storm front was a towering black mass of angry clouds and we were sitting right where the somber gray skies colided with the incoming storm.

Chaos reigned in the campground. I have never seen such stupidity and hope I never see the like again.

After witnessing some unbelievably stupid manuevers, we made it out of the campground and onto the road. We turned toward the gray sky and put the storm to our backs. We drove until we felt reasonably safe and the radio had issued an all-clear for our area.

Although the tornado warning had expired, the skies weren't clear and the storm still had enough energy to produce driving rains, lightening, and thunder. The day had turned into a bust.

Now, we had been planning on leaving that day anyhow but not until after Big-N-Rich played. Considering the scare we had just had (I seriously thought I was going to die without being able to say goodbye to my husband and babies) and the less than promising weather, we decided to pack it in and go home a bit early. SheDaisy and Terri Clark's showtimes had already come and gone and who knew how long it would take to get the equipment up and running for Big-N-Rich.
Of course, you'd have to know we forgot all about the lawnchairs we had taken down to the concert grounds that morning. I imagine they either got blew away by the 60mph winds or were thrown away by the clean-up crew.

County Thunder USA

So I took this week off so I could get ready for Country Thunder USA. I'm packed and ready to go. At least, I hope I am. I guess I'll have to live without whatever it is I'm forgetting to pack. Nothing new there.

We were supposed to leave tomorrow morning at 5:30 am. That was the plan. But who needs plans? Not my family. Oh, no. They decided spur of the moment to leave tonight. Of course, it's 10:30 here and they still haven't picked me up. I imagine it'll be closer to 11:00 before they pull into the driveway.

I'm already tired. I hope they don't expect me to drive all that much tonight. My eyes are already doing the lazy blinks.

But enough of my grouching. I'm going to get excited and enjoy myself. The concerts should be a blast.

I'll be back in a few days to let you know how it all worked out.

Interesting

On July 10th The Times online posted an article about a Navy Seal operation gone bad. If you haven't heard anything about this and are interested in the continued search for Bin Laden or other terrorist leaders, give it a quick read.

Interpersonal Conflict

So there's a group of us who hang out pretty regularly in chat. A while back we decided to do a BN class. Once a week on Wedsnesday evenings those of us who are available--it varies from week to week--gather to offer our insights, perspectives, experiences, and ideas on a specified topic.

Last week we discussed the three types of conflict found in fiction. We were asked to give definitions and offer examples. Once a definition was generally agreed upon we'd begin discussing various formulas for acheiving that type of conflict.

Now, I've been a member of little group for a long time and I know we all tend to approach things differently. Writing is such a subjective endeavor it would be more bizarre if we didn't. So I go into these sessions knowing I'm probably not going to see eye to eye with my friends on every subject. I also have come to realize we tend to share a common ground and disagree mostly in the details, which is cool because it gives us lots to talk about in chat.

Internal conflict didn't generate much controversy. We all seemed to agree with the overall concept that internal conflict occurs within an individual. We discussed a few formulas an author could use to acheive internal conflict. My favorite and the one I tend use the most in my writing is Goal vs. Goal = Conflict. An example would be the desire to live (goal 1) vs. the desire to commit suicide (goal 2). The conflict is the result of these opposing goals. Does this mean the goals have to be mutually exclusive? I don't think so. I think they merely need to be different enough to cause some emotional and mental strife.

External conflict is likewise self-evident. It can take on many forms. The scenerios are endless. War. Nature. Geography. And on and on. The most common formula for this conflict tends to be Goal vs. Obstacle = Conflict. This could be anything from wanting to find a warm bed (the goal) only to discover the river has flooded everything within a 10 miles radius and there's not dry land, let alone a dry bed, to be found.

Interpersonal conflict became my stumbling block last week. In a broad sense it's conflict that occurs between people. It's that simple. I understand this but it's too broad for me.

When I think of interpersonal conflict in fiction I tend to focus on those people who have an ongoing relationship. This relationship doesn't have to be friendly or even the focus of the book. It can be but it doesn't have to. It can be between family members, friends, lovers, enemies, coworkers, or anyone else who has a significant impact on the character. It's not the woman at the bakery who makes a face when the somewhat chunky protagonist buys a bag of donuts. Let's even say the woman makes a snide remark. Sure, it may piss off our heroine or hurt her feelings, it may even set up the mood for the next scene, but this interaction is minimal and, in terms of relationships, insignificant. I didn't see this as interpersonal conflict despite there being two people involved.

Now, I was not in the majority in my viewpoint. I was on an island all of my own. Smoke signals couldn't have saved me so eventually I cried "uncle" and shut up.

But how do you define the scenerio I just described? If we never see this sales clerk again, if she plays no significant role in the book or the story line, I think she's an irritant. A prop. A means to an ends. She's incidental. Not that I'm saying she doesn't have a place or purpose. She's a piece of the background that has a flash of vibrancy in the fabric of the story.

Given this scenerio, I would probably focus on the internal conflict this woman's condemnation had on my character. I want to have people see me as thin vs. I really want that donut. Do I eat it? Cancel my order? Pay for it and then toss it in the first garbage can I see?

Of course, this woman could develop into a character who becomes very important. She ends up being the Weight Watcher leader of the new chapter our heroine has just joined. She tries to sabotage our heroine and actively pursues the heroine's boyfriend. Suddenly a relationship has developed and the conflict becomes interpersonal.

I know no one agrees with me on this but I'm perfectly content to break up my conflict into four categories: internal, external, interpersonal, incidental.

Don't ask me why.

I decided to take the book quiz again. I really didn't understand how I could possibly get my original results. So...I wasted a few minutes answering questions. Strangely...the questions weren't the same! Sure a few of them were but there were some new ones in there. I didn't get the intuition vs. reptuation question the first time or the one about which animal do you prefer.

And I like the results for this one better. Those rabbits have always been dear to my heart. I read Watership Down when I was a wee teenager. Loved it! Still love it. I'm waiting a few years to introduce my boys to it but it's definitely on the "must read to kids" list.






You're Watership Down!

by Richard Adams

Though many think of you as a bit young, even childish, you're
actually incredibly deep and complex. You show people the need to rethink their
assumptions, and confront them on everything from how they think to where they
build their houses. You might be one of the greatest people of all time. You'd
be recognized as such if you weren't always talking about talking rabbits.



Take the Book Quiz
at the Blue Pyramid.

Dealing with Doubt

Ever have those moments when you're certain you can't write? Where it seems as if all the hours you've invested into this story and these characters are a colossal waste of time?

I have. But I figure these doubts are pretty normal for writers, which means I can usually push aside such nasty thoughts and keep writing.

Lately I've been in a real funk. I'm not worried that what I'm writing is awful because I just can't seem to write. Every time I sit down to try the mind goes blank and the eyes glaze over.

New ideas aren't sparking.

Current stories feel dead.

Past projects seem dismal failures.

I don't like feeling this way. Not at all. It's not normal for me. Even when the writing isn't going well, the passion has always been there. Yet, it seems the passion has disappeared and only the need to write remains. Every thing I look at or consider feels forced or contrived. The characters feel flat. The conflict laughable.

I refuse to allow this funk to continue. The problem is everything I've tried has failed. I guess the only thing to do is keep writing and wait for the sparks to fly.

Ohhh....




You're The Poisonwood Bible!

by Barbara Kingsolver

Deeply rooted in a religious background, you have since become both
isolated and schizophrenic. You were naively sure that your actions would help people,
but of course they were resistant to your message and ultimately disaster ensued. Since
you can see so many sides of the same issue, you are both wise beyond your years and
tied to worthless perspectives. If you were a type of waffle, it would be
Belgian.



Take the Book Quiz
at the Blue Pyramid.

Around the House

Hubby's gone fishing for the night so the kidlets and I are just hanging around the house tonight. I rented a couple of movies, a Playstation game for my oldest, and bought some frozen pizza for dinner. I haven't even cleaned my kitchen yet! ~gasp~

I read the most amazing book over Thursday and Friday. It hasn't hit the stands yet but you should pre-order it. It's bold. Daring. Somewhat startling even. The author is brutal with her characters and, while I can't promise you won't experience some discomfort, I can guarantee this book will haunt you for at least a day or two. Perhaps longer. I know I certainly haven't stopped thinking about it.

The author? Tamara Siler Jones. The book? Threads of Malice.

Go pre-order it now.

That's all I'm saying on the matter.

Going Camping

I'll be MIA for a few days. We're taking the kids camping on the shores of Lake Huron for the holiday weekend. It's supposed to be warm, not quite as hot as it has been but not cool enough to keep us from the water.

So...See you in a few!

Justifying the Time

Writing looks, in a lot of ways, like a very selfish enterprise. - Gail (chatroom buddy and writing pal)

This little statement really hit home with me when I read it on the screen during a recent chat. When I consider my personal struggle with finding and taking the time to write, I invariably end up feeling guilty. Not because anyone says or does anything to make me feel bad but because I have a hard time justifying the time and effort.

I've often dreamed of retiring from the day job and making writing my fulltime profession. In this little fantasy of mine I see myself dedicated to the computer while the kids are in school and the hubby is at work. I see myself succeeding because I've finally found guilt-free time to focus on the story. Distractions would be minimimal and yet I'd still manage to be wife, mom and housekeeper. I'd churn out the stories and start peddling them to agents and pubishers alike.

Of course, I never quit the day job because that would be irresponsible and, dare I say it, selfish. My income is just as necessary as my husband's. It does more than pay for daycare, it allows us to eat on a regular basis and remained clothed in more than tatters. My checks also help to fund things like vacations, Christmas, birthdays, and anniversaries. Hubby's checks pay the bills--mine make life comfortable. Quitting my job to write would probably kill my marriage and force me to stop spoiling my very spoiled children. So I keep working.

Working full-time means my time is limited. Should I lock myself away to write when the kids need help with homework? The dishes need to be done? Laundry is piled sky-high? Dust bunnies are gathering under the furniture? Do I sacrafice a social life I value? And what about my extended family? Do I blow them off to write?

I know many people are faced with the same dilemma and I know some of them answer those questions quite the opposite I do. I'll admit I have regrets when it comes to my writing. I know I don't give it or myself a chance to shine. But I've yet to regret spending time with my loved ones, of providing for my family, and taking care of them the best I know how.

Perhaps someday when the kids are grown and the mortgage is paid, I'll be able to retire and devote myself to the one true professional goal I've ever held. I know the writing will always be there; it's been a part of me for too long and has survived many years of neglect.

Should I manage to get lucky with the sporadic writing and even more sporadic submissions I mail out, maybe my priorities will change. In the meantime, I'm going to continue to play with my kids, attend social functions, love my husband, and keep our house relatively clean. (I can't vouch for the laundry or the toilets...I hate them both.)


Me & Ken camping this weekend. Posted by Hello

Psycho-b-gone

Well, apparently my dad's girlfriend stepped over the line Saturday night. She had been drinking again and let her claws out. I guess they had been sniping at each other on and off during the evening because she was drinking again. Dad always believes her when she says she's quit and then he gets all bent out of shape when she shows up on his doorstep with a 6-pack.

Well, long story short, my sister was bringing her three kids into the house (remember she lives with Dad while her and her hubby work out some issues) and heard the two of them arguing. So, she decided to turn right around and leave. She had the baby's carseat in one hand and a gallon of milk in the other. Using her hip and butt, she pushed out the door. Well, it slammed closed behind her. Not intentionally--her hands were full.

Upon hearing the door slam shut, Nutty looked at my dad and said, "Your fucking daughter just slammed the door."

That got her booted out of the house. Dad told her get her crap and leave. She did. Now if I could just find some psycho-b-gone spray to fumigate the house....

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Ha!

Changing the template seemed to help!

Font Issue

I don't know what happened but apparently it's some funky setting in internet explorer. I can't figure out how to reset to default so I'm just playing around with some settings until I can find something I can live with.

This shouldn't effect anyone else.

Weird question...

...for my handful or readers.

Does the text in this blog appear italicized to you? When I'm at work it doesn't but at home I can't get it to look normal! Is it my monitor or something funky about the blog? I just can't tell.

Your input will help. I hope.

Busy, Busy

Evening schedule for the week so far:

Monday - Baseball
Tuesday - T-ball
Wednesday - Baseball
Thursday - Pack Camper for Weekend Away

I've been busy! Unbelievably, I have managed to get a little bit written this week. Not a lot but I'm a firm believer that something is better than nothing when it comes to keeping the writing alive.

I've managed to bump up the wordcount on Magic & Madness (the romantica story) to 6K. Not bad considering this story is only a couple weeks old.

I also sat down the other night and began reworking Dragonborn. I'm still figuring out how to make this Ghislaine's story and not Danken's. While he still plays a major role, I never should have written with him as the MC. It's not his story! My only excuse is this was my first ever attempt at writing fantasy.

I'm going to try to get another few hundred words on Magic and Madness before bed. The story is moving along nicely and I don't want to jinx it!

Totally crossing a line.

Okay. I usually post blah-blah entries about life beyond writing but today I'm going to give myself over to the Dark Side of the Force.

My dad has been divorced for almost a year. This was his second marriage and it lasted 18 years; his marriage to my mom lasted for 11.

My Dad is awesome. Seriously. I couldn't love him any more than I do. When my mom decided to end their marriage my dad fought for us and won costudy. This was nearly unheard of in the 80s but, with our help, he managed to convince the Judge that he would be the better choice for his four kids. Mom had an issue I'll refer to here as "Crazy, Wacko Boyfriend".

I was ten then. I met my future step-mom a few months after my parents split. By the time the divorce was final, D and her one-year-old daughter had moved in. Wedding plans were underway. They were married the June after the the divorce was final.

Now, although I love my dad, I know the man has faults. He's a clean freak. No, not your casual clean freak but the kind that has minor hissy fits if his house actually looks like people might live there. ~gasp~

He also struggles with jealousy. Of course, given my mom's betrayal, I guess that's not surprising. However, even after 18 years of marriage to his second wife, he still felt it necessary to accuse his significant other of cheating on him. Living with this constant lack of trust must have been very trying; I know I'd want to beat the crap out of my husband if he went into jealous tirades over the simpliest things.

My step-mom was 15 years younger than my dad and, combined with his clean freak tendencies and his uncontrollable jealousy, the age difference began to take its toll. My dad is the type who loves to hang out at home and would be content to never socialize outside his family unit. Seriously. Bit of a hermit.

Step-mom, on the other hand, was a social butterfly and loved to party. She was good for Dad because she got him to come out of his shell and do things he would never just do for the sake of doing them. Unfortunately, when she started hanging out at the bar every weekend without my dad--he had no desire to go drinking and dancing--things went really sour. You could see where things were heading and when she left it really didn't come as a surprise.

Her actions during and after that timeframe did come as a surprise but this post isn't about her. It's about my dad.

So, Dad is suddenly single again. He's dating. Only he's not. He looked up a girl he knew from his childhood and discovered she was still single. He also found out if he would have given her any indication after his first divorce that he was interested in her, she might have been my step-mom instead of D.

Dear God, no.

This woman is a freaking nightmare! She's an alcoholic. I'm not saying that casually or just to be snide. She had one of those breathalizer units attached to her steering wheel when my dad first started dating her. She hides alchohol in the back of her toilet and anywhere else she can think to. Alcoholics Anonymous is a joke. She tells everyone she goes--and maybe she does--but then you'll see her walking out of the store with a case of beer. She never calls her support person when the urge strikes.

Now, if she were a nice drunk, I might be able to overlook this behavior. But she's not nice. She's a bitch. The first night I met her you could smell the liquor (it's not her breath so much as her skin). She opens her mouth and insults my brother. What the hell?

Okay. For dad's sake, because he really needed to be happy right then and seemed to like this woman, I pretended this didn't bother me and decided not to hold it against her. (Well, I've changed mind since then and am now holding a grudge...I'm a woman and entitled, damn it!)

Her next target became my little sister. Continually. My sister isn't in a position to do much about it because she needs to keep the peace with my dad. She's the one living him while temporarily separated from her husband. She can't afford to strike out on her own just yet and so she decided ignoring Nutty would be the best thing to do. Well, of course, Nutty complained to Dad about none of his kids giving her a chance.

She's nothing if not a trouble maker.

Well, I had heard some pretty nasty rumors about this woman that I kept to myself for a long time. Then I had someone give me details that went beyond "I've heard...". This person knew people involved. Gave me names. I waited to tell my Dad about this latest tidbit until he had broken up with Nutty--a weekly occurance because he hates it when she drinks, which is all the freaking time. So I told him (he's my Dad and I think he deserves to know).

Of course, Dad is so afraid of being alone, he'd rather put up with drunken rudeness and so much more than risk staying single. So they get back together and he told her what I've heard, which of course she denies.

Trust me on this...it's true.

But my Dad is a sap and he thinks everyone's picking on poor Nutty. So they hook back up. Break up. Hook up. Break up. Hook up. Get the picture?

Well, I know it's only a matter of time before this woman turns her claws in my direction. And you know what? I'm eager. I've had it with her and I'm tired of being civil just for the sake of keeping the peace.

She tried starting shit with my sister-in-law over the weekend. My SIL did the mature thing and walked away. She did tell my brother, who in return said some very rude things not four feet from where my dad stood. He didn't use his quiet voice either so we know Dad and Nutty heard him.

My brothers hate this woman. My sister hates this woman. My aunts and uncles hate her. No one thinks she's good enough for my dad. My husband thinks she a cancer that's destroying my dad's life. I think she's a freaking nightmare.

And now let me say thank you for reading this insane rant.

Good intentions

After I got home from my son's baseball game tonight I booted up the computer. I then made the mistake of turning on the TV. There's this new show, The Closer, on FX. It's pretty good. I had watched the season premiere last week and had liked it well enough. Yep, you guessed it. I got suckered into tonight's episode. Next thing I know it's 10:00 and I've not written anything.

Damn that box!

Father's Day

Didn't have time to post yesterday because we were on the roads most of the day. Poor hubby. I can't imagine it's much fun running from here to there trying please his dad and mine. After purchasing their gifts--yes, on Father's Day--we stopped by the campground where his parents were camping for the next few weeks. We went put-put golfing and on a horse-drawn wagon ride. After we left there we stopped for ice cream and then continued on to my dad's house.

We didn't get anyone anything fancy for Father's Day. My dad loves StarBucks coffee so we bought him a big ole bag of StarBuck beans. His dad has a passion for Peppermint Schnapps and popcorn so that's what he got. Not very sentimental, eh? But we know they'll be put to good use. :-)

My hubby insisted he didn't want anything more than the wash pail the boys had decorated for him at daycare. It has their little handprints immortalized on the sides with their names fingerpainted beneath their respective artistic creations. Inside the bucket the daycare provider had placed a sponge and carwash fluid.

Because money is always tight, I took the hubby up on his offer to bypass the store on his behalf. I know he wants a powerwasher but those things aren't cheap! Maybe for Christmas...or his birthday....