August 31, 2009

Busy, busy weekend.

I knew it was going to be insane this weekend and I was right. Saturday morning I had to be up to the fields by 10:30 to help out at the souvenir stand. Immediately afterward the boys' games started. The youngest played defense during his two scrimmages and the oldest played both offense and defense for both of his. A welcome improvement over our first year of football!

For those of you who are new to the blog and just tuning in, our first year with the program (2006) was rather discouraging. At that time the oldest boy was just old enough to get onto a team. Unfortunately, he had a coach who didn't really believe in giving the kids fair time on the field. He had his favorites and he played them. Our boy, who was admittedly not a star player, was put on the field the bare minimum of plays allowed at each and every game. When confronted, the coach always seemed to have an excuse. It was beyond frustrating.

So, kudos to the coaches this year. I don't know if the rules have changed or what, but the coaches are giving each of them plenty of play time. A just reward for the hours of practice each one has put in during the week! Okay, it might help that the oldest has a better idea of what's going on this time around and my youngest is a bit on the competitive side and wants to do well.

In any event, they're being on the field made the 6 1/2 hours I had to be up at the fields enjoyable. Except for the bees. I could have done without the bees. They were everywhere!

After the games I rushed the kids home, got them cleaned up, and then we were out the door to finish up our school shopping. We were going to get haircuts that night, too, but I decided to save some money and do the haircutting myself the next day. Almost $300 later we pulled back into the driveway.

Gotta love this time of year.

The next day should have been a bit more leisurely, but when you're hardly home during the week, there's a pile of housework that needs to be done. I washed our bedding, did some laundry, washed both dogs, did some preventative flea treatment on the bedroom carpet (Yes, the puppy brought home fleas from our last camping trip. Yippee.), went grocery shopping, and made dinner. I have to add the making dinner in there. I don't cook. The fact that I not only made dinner, but I actually used the grill to do so, is a big deal in my world!

See..crazy busy! Other than a bubble bath Sunday morning, I didn't have a chance to sit down and relax until almost 9:30 last night! No wonder I'm tired.

August 26, 2009

Life Right Now

DSC_8369

It's all about the football.

The boys have practice four nights a week. We're lucky in that my nephew, who is seventeen and has a driver's license, is dropping the kids off at the fields while we're still at work. For a few blessed weeks we don't have to worry about getting out of work early.

Of course, once school starts, this reprieve will come to an end. Until the end of the season it'll be shorter lunch hours so we can get out a half-hour early Monday through Thursday. I doubt my hubby will even notice. I get the sense his lunch is interrupted or exercised through on most days. Me? I enjoy reading, writing, or watching whatever is on Hulu or Netflix for that brief little siesta in the middle of my work day.

Weekends from now until the end of the season - which is what? October? - will be planned around their games. Our hope is that the boys will play on the same fields and not in different towns. The hubby and I would like to be able to watch both boys and not have to worry about making sure we flip-flop fairly. (Say that three times fast!)

I, as you may well imagine, will have my camera in my hands for most of these events.

Throw it!

August 24, 2009

Toppling Walls

Back in 2006 I was lucky enough to get into Holly Lisle's Breakout Novel class. Holly was still an active member of Forward Motion back then, which is how and why I came to be in her class. It was a huge honor to get to work with a professional writer in such a small group setting. Although we had several people "auditing" the class, there were only six of us that Holly agreed to mentor through the creative process.

Holly shaped our course around Writing the Breakout Novel by Donald Maass. After reading assigned chapters, we would have to complete our weekly homework assignments and turn them in for review. We had to come up with something new to work on, something fresh. We outlined scenes, discussed personal and world stakes, and filled in character sheets. Holly would comment and guide, ask questions and challenge plot holes. Trust me when I tell you it was hard work.

We didn't get a chance to finish the course, though. Real life interfered and Holly had to prioritize her work load. In the end, the class had to be sacrificed and the six of us were left to pursue the creative path on our own. Armed with the book and its companion workbook, we could continue on alone or amongst ourselves.

I still have the work I put into that fresh, new story of mine. I have the chat transcripts, the character sheets, the numbers, the scene outlines. I have it all. This story is by far the most thought-out, preplanned, pre-written story I've ever worked on. Yet, every time I've tried to write it down, to mold the ideas and scenes into prose, I lose my way. I flounder. I hit a wall.

Runners talk about hitting walls. As a fledgling runner myself, I've hit it the proverbial wall more than once. There have been days when I let the wall knock me down and keep me down, when I let the sheer size of it overwhelm my will. There have also been days when I've kept my legs moving, forced my lungs to keep the rhythm, and, in doing so, have pushed the wall down and left it behind me.

I need to do the same thing with this story. I need to force my fingers to keep typing. I need to let the story unfold in its own messy, undignified manner. I need to keep reminding myself that the first draft of the story is like training for a race. Each practice lap is necessary if you want race day to be successful, just as each draft of the story is necessary to the final product. Nothing worthwhile can be accomplished without putting in the time and effort.

And I believe this story is worthwhile.

August 19, 2009

Silly Meme

1. Put your iTunes/Mp3 Player on shuffle.
2. For each question, press the next button to get your answer.
3. YOU MUST WRITE THAT SONG NAME DOWN NO MATTER HOW SILLY IT SOUNDS!
4. Tag 10 friends who might enjoy doing this.

WHAT DO YOU LIKE IN A GUY/GIRL?
Maneater - Nelly Fertado

HOW DO YOU FEEL TODAY?
My Love - Justin Timberlake

WHAT IS YOUR LIFE’S PURPOSE?
Chestnuts Roading on an Open Fire - Nat King Cole

WHAT IS YOUR MOTTO?
Rollin' – Big & Rich

WHAT DO YOUR FRIENDS THINK OF YOU?
If I Had - Eminem

WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT VERY OFTEN?
Welcome to the Jungle - Guns N' Roses

WHAT IS 2+2?
Drips - Eminem

WHAT DO YOU THINK OF YOUR BEST FRIEND?
Celebration - Kanye West

WHAT DO YOU THINK OF THE PERSON YOU LIKE?
I Want You - Bon Jovi

WHAT IS YOUR LIFE STORY?
Shake That - Eminem

WHAT DO YOU WANT TO BE WHEN YOU GROW UP?
Rap Superstar - Eminem

WHAT DO YOU THINK WHEN YOU SEE THE PERSON YOU LIKE?
Maru's boychild - Thijs Van Lerr

WHAT DO YOUR PARENTS THINK OF YOU?
Boom - P.O.D.

WHAT WILL YOU DANCE TO AT YOUR WEDDING?
Gotta Be Somebody - Nickelback

WHAT WILL THEY PLAY AT YOUR FUNERAL?
Nobody's Crying - Patty Griffin

WHAT DO YOU THINK OF YOUR FRIENDS?
Only in America - Brooks & Dunn

HOW WILL YOU DIE?
Come on Over - Shania Twain

WHAT IS THE ONE THING YOU REGRET?
I Hate Myself for Losing You - Kelly Clarkston

WHAT MAKES YOU LAUGH?
Pulling Teeth - Green Day

WHAT MAKES YOU CRY?
My Boyfriend's Back - The Shirells

WILL YOU EVER GET MARRIED?
Forget about Dre - Dr. Dre & Eminem

WHAT SCARES YOU THE MOST?
Magic Stick - Lil Kim & 50 Cent

DOES ANYONE LIKE YOU?
Crazy Dreams - Los Lonely Boys

IF YOU COULD GO BACK IN TIME, WHAT WOULD YOU CHANGE?
21 Flash Questions - Q Unit

WHAT WILL YOU POST THIS AS?
By Your Side - Antwan Stanley


No idea who wants to play along. Let me know if you do in comments!

August 18, 2009

Thanks, Zoe!

Look! I've been nominated! How sweet is that? Many thanks to Zoe from Le Chateau de Chiffon.

Picture Story

I'm pretty sure I've mentioned the fact that the boys are at home during the day now. While the hubby and I are off at work, they're enjoying their computers, DS games, and playing basketball with their cousin in the driveway.

Of course, it can't all be fun and games. They're getting a dollar-a-day allowance for doing small chores around the house. Chores that need to be done before Mom and Dad get home from work. These tasks range from cleaning their bedrooms, to sweeping and vacuuming, disinfecting their bathroom, and doing the dishes.

Before Ken and I left for our little mini-vacation on Friday, I opened the cupboard door to find this...


What a disaster! Not only were things not stacked very well, they weren't even put away in the right cupboard. Sure evidence that the kids had taken care of the dishes. When confronted with the mess, my little guy, the guilty party, could only offer a teasing smile.


He wasn't smiling quite so much after I had him help me reorganize. The little stinker.

Win a Lensbaby!

Jodie at MCP Actions is hosting another giveaway. Don't miss out on this opportunity to win a new lens for your SLR!

More info here: Win a Lensbaby Composer.

August 17, 2009

Nearing the End of Summer

Last night we took the boys shopping for school shoes and football cleats. We ran to the Outlet Mall and ended up visiting three stores before finally settling on soccer cleats instead of football cleats. That's right. Neither Nike, Reebok, nor Adidas carry football cleats for anyone with a foot under a size 9. And, to be fair, only Nike carried those. The other two stores only had soccer and baseball cleats on their shelves. Craziness! We'd have been better off driving into the city and visiting Dunham's.

While we were there looking for football cleats, we decided to get the boys their school shoes, too. We spent more on three pairs of shoes than I did on eight pairs of jeans. I can't imagine how much the bill would have come to if we hadn't insisted on buying sale-priced merchandise.

With their jeans and shoes out of the way that leaves backpacks, lunch boxes, shirts, underwear, and socks. I'm hoping if I wait until the weekend before they head back to school I'll be able to find some killer sales. Hope, hope, hope!

Of course, as I turn my focus to school shopping, I realize my summer is almost officially over. This weekend was our last vacation. I can't complain, though. It's been a great summer. We've spent a lot of time together as a family and that's awesome. We've also seen some great movies (Transformers 2 and Harry Potter & the Half-Blood Prince are the only two that come to mind, but I'm sure we've seen a couple others). We've celebrated graduations and weddings. We even managed to get our flowerbeds redone with perennials that were abundant and beautiful throughout the long summer months.

It was a good summer.

I'm sad to see it go.

The truth is I'm not sure I'm ready for school to start back up. Keeping track of sports and school schedules, helping with homework, keeping the lines of communication open with the boys' teachers, field trips, and sleep overs is a never-ending race. It's exhausting just thinking about what the next 9 months will likely hold in store for us.

It's also exciting. Every year the kids seem to develop another facet of their personalities. Every now and again you can catch a little glimpse of who they may become, what type of men we'll someday be turning loose into the world. It's nothing short of amazing.

August 12, 2009

Getting Ready to Blow Out My Eardrums!

What? It's not healthy? Might lead to impaired hearing in the near future?

Too late! Already there!

Here's just a small sampling of why (imagine me in that crowd, screaming my fool head off).


Nickelback - BURN IT TO THE GROUND from Nickelback on Vimeo.

August 11, 2009

Idle Hours

I love the fact that I'm not taking classes this fall semester. Knowing that I'm going to have a few more months to enjoy my favorite pastimes is so very, very sweet.

While on vacation I managed to sneak in quite a few books in between our touristy moments. I read romance novels (2), historical fiction (1), and science fiction (1), and fantasy (1). Yes, five books in two weeks. And it was glorious!

Right now I'm reading One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez. I've tried reading this book before but only managed to make it about halfway through. I blamed my lack of progress on school last time. We'll see if that was true now that I don't have that particular excuse to pull out of my magic hat of excuses. This book is challenging not because of it's content, but because the author used character names that are easily confused.

Of course, this isn't the only thing I'm reading right now. Remember that Writers' Conference I went to back in May? Do you also remember that I signed up for the Writer's Workshop, which required that I read and comment on the works of other aspiring authors? After the workshop I was contacted by a classmate and taken up on my offer to read his entire manuscript. So, I'm working my way through his novel right now, too.

What I've not been doing in my spare time is writing. I've been watching DVR'd television programming, playing video games (Sword of Heaven), and playing on Facebook. I've also been running/walking with some irregularity (need to be more disciplined, but every little bit counts, right?).

So, my goal for this week is to do some research. Make some worldbuilding notes. Get inspired! Hopefully by the time the kids are back in school I'll be itching to get writing.

Oh! I should be able to do NaNoWriMo without any trouble this year! That'll be a first. Maybe I should make Novemember 1st my ultimate goal. Between now and then I can worldbuild and create characters to my heart's content.

Good idea. Glad I thought of it.

August 6, 2009

Pictures from Week 2

I meant to post these a day or so after the week 1 pictures. Sorry they're a little late!

Our second week of camping was at Tahquamenon State Park near Paradise, MI. While the scenery was absolutely gorgeous, the mosquitoes were outrageously numerous and persistent. We couldn't be outside without a thick layer of bug spray coating every exposed inch of our skin.

Still, the Tahquamenon River was picturesque and the falls were amazing. Here are just a few of the pictures from our trips to the lower and upper falls.





The scenery wasn't the only thing worth looking at, either. The last time we vacationed in this area we visisted Oswald's Bear Farm (see old pictures here and here). After that first adventure, how could we not revisit the bear cubs and the older bears? We just had to go back!




A day or so later we took a nice long ride through back country roads to get to this lighthouse on Lake Superior. The climb to the top was very narrow but the view was well worth any bouts of claustrophobia we might have suffered!

While we were at the lighthouse the boys went for a swim in very, very cold waters of Lake Superior. KC tried telling us it wasn't that cold, but Gage couldn't hide his discomfort quite as well.



In the middle of the week we went horseback riding. The boys LOVED it. Although I was at the end of the line, I got to see a few delighted smiles as the trail wound back on itself. What I didn't expect was Gage's complete meltdown when the ride was done. He really loved his horse. Really.






When we weren't off on some family adventure, the guys tried their luck at fishing. While they often visited the river banks behind our campsite, there were other fishing attempts made at docks and roadside parks. The most beautiful trip had to be when they rented a boat for a half-day, though, and rowed near the bottom of the lower falls. It would have been perfect if they had had some luck!





August 1, 2009

Just a Few Pictures from Week #1



Just hanging around our campsite. We were lucky enough to be right on the lake.


The Big Springs (a.k.a. Kitch-iti-kipi) was a just a couple miles down the road from our campsite. The pictures here don't do the spring justice - of course - but I hope you get a sense of just how clear the water was. Our most memorable trip to the Springs was our first. A beautiful adult male Bald Eagle landed in a tree overlooking the springs. I'd show you a picture if I could, but I hadn't thought to grab my camera for that particular road trip! I know! I'm shocked, too.


We visited a "ghost town". Fayette was once a prosperous community built around the iron ore market. Now it's ruins are protected by the State and visitors can wander around its abandoned buildings with the purchase of a State Park sticker. Since we already needed one of those for our campground, this was free!




And those are just a few of the animals we saw at the zoo.

Along the boardwalk in Manistique.

The boys had so much fun at Indian Lake. Our campsite was right next to a set of stairs leading down to the water. They were able to not only go fishing there, but they were also able to swim to their little hearts' content.



Ken got lucky and was asked by our neighbors if he would like to join them on their boat out in Lake Michigan. Of course he said yes. After getting up around 2:30 in the morning, they headed out and ended up catching these salmon. He was pretty geeked.