Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Merry Christmas!

Only a few days left before the big day. I thought I would share one of my favourite Nativity videos. It's set to Amy Grant's Breath of Heaven, which is an incredibly moving song. I can't ever watch this without tears, so be forewarned. I hope you love it as much as I do. Merry Christmas everyone!

Monday, December 13, 2010

The countdown is on!

Is anyone else's December flying by like mine is??? I can't believe the kids only have a few more days of school left, but I'm looking forward to it! No homework, no soccer, no piano lessons...and no dragging my butt out of bed to make lunches. They are the bane of my existence! (Honestly though, I am so lucky that all five kids get up and go without a fuss every day. I don't know what I would do if they were stinkers to get out the door to the school bus!) 

As much as I love having a low-key Christmas, I'm really looking forward to visiting with family over the holidays. We'll get to see people from both sides, so it'll be a good time. Another thing I'm looking forward to? Eating treats. Lots and lots of treats. Is there anything better than Christmas baking? I think not. (Oh great, I think I just put on a few pounds thinking about all that good food.)

So, do y'all have any special plans for Christmas vacation?

Monday, December 6, 2010

Happiness is...

My husband being done coaching volleyball! I know it's not a very long season, but the fall is one of his busiest times for work/travel, and with the kids' activities starting up, well, it makes my life really crazy. I'm so relieved to have him to help run the kids around, especially with icy winter roads.

Something else that makes me happy is our Christmas tree. The lights are so pretty, and it makes the long, dark mornings so bright and cheery. It even seems to make getting up to make kids' lunches more fun. Is that weird? We also have a cute fiberoptic pointsettia tree that I adore. My younger self is totally rolling her eyes for saying this, but I love the sparkle that comes with the season!

One last thing that makes me happy: sleep. Oh, how I love sleep! Mostly because it eludes me. First, it takes forever to get there, and then when I finally pass out, I'm a lousy sleeper. It's pretty annoying. The past couple of nights, though, I've had some great sleep and it's been AMAZING. Maybe it's because I'm finally getting over this nasty cold which has made sleeping even worse than usual for the last week, but who cares? I don't get this kind of rest, so I'll take it! Also, I don't want to be greedy, but I NEED MORE. I could sure get a lot done if I could get more quality sleep!

On that note...now that I've enjoyed some quiet time by the light of the tree, I'm off to chase after some of those ever-elusive quality zzzzzs.

Besos!

Monday, November 29, 2010

Traditions

***Thanks so much to all who have donated to my Secret Santa Project! I'm so grateful for your generosity - every little bit helps! I'm keeping it up for another week-ish, so please feel free to help out in any way you can. When lots of people give even a few dollars, it adds up!***


My husband's family has a wonderful Christmas tradition that his dad brought over from Germany, and we love doing it with our kids. The four Sundays before Christmas we celebrate advent where we get together with friends, light a candle on the advent wreath, sing songs and have a bunch of treats. Yesterday was first advent so we set up our tree and decorated our home. I love how festive it is in here! There's nothing better than cold winter nights lit up by the Christmas tree.

We didn't have anyone over because we're a bit sickly in our house, but we still had lots of fun singing songs, banging on bowls (for Little Drummer Boy, of course!), and jingling some bell ornaments. It's something our entire family looks forward to. Let's face it, I've got 2 teenagers already, with 3 more coming in the next few years, so anything that can get the family together - happily - is something that should be encouraged, right? ;o)

How about you - got any holiday traditions that you love?

Besos!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Secret Santa

Twelve years ago, at the start of December, we were poor students with a one and two year old, and a third baby on the way. It had already been a rough year, what with the loss of our stillborn son, and we were doing our best to make it through; all the while looking forward to the Christmas season and ringing in a new year with hopes of a better twelve months to come.

We went away for 4 days to attend my brother-in-law's wedding, and came back to find our back door kicked in. Our house had been ransacked and burglarized. We didn't have a lot, but they took what little we had of value. It was a sickening feeling, to have our modest home violated like that. I cried when the police told us that often it's much worse because the thieves will vandalize as well (think knives tearing apart furniture, excrement on the walls kind of thing...). They warned us to expect it to happen again in a few months (when things had been replaced through insurance).

For the longest time afterward my heart was in my throat every time we pulled up to our house after an outing. Every conversation before getting out of the car was the identical. Were those new footprints in the snow? Does the back gate look like it's been opened? Can you go first in case someone is in the house? Not a good time, let me tell you.

Our home was no longer a safe place, and to top it off, the insurance adjuster treated me like a criminal when I was trying to get them to fix our door and settle our claim. It took me losing it on the phone with him one day (and a threat to speak with his supervisor) to get him to treat me with a little compassion. I shouldn't have had to remind him that I was the victim in this whole thing, but I was extremely grateful he did a complete 180 after our little chat.

A little worse for wear, we tried our best to get ready for Christmas, but we just couldn't shake that defeated feeling. Then about a week before Christmas, we got an anonymous phone call late at night telling us to look in our mailbox. We did, and found an envelope with money in it. I don't even remember how much it was (somewhere around $100), but it was enough to make us cry and did a lot to help restore our beat-up faith in human kindness.

Money doesn't bring happiness in and of itself, but let's face it, its absence can make life extremely difficult. Knowing that somebody was thinking about us - that we were worth someone's time, energy and hard-earned money - made us more mindful of others who might be suffering. As a result, every year that we've been in a position to do so (so basically, the eight years we haven't been in school), we've tried to ease someone else's burden at Christmas time.

This year there is a family who is facing a rather hefty medical bill due to bureaucratic issues beyond their control. It's obviously far more than we can afford to take care of for them, but we are stretching ourselves a little this year to give as much as we possibly can. I'm not trying to brag or anything, but only mentioning this because I have ulterior motives. In order to do as much as I can for this family, I'm putting up a Donate button for the next couple of weeks. I know that many people play Secret Santa over the holidays, so if you feel moved to give even $5 toward this family, that would be wonderful. (A lot of you don't know me from Eve, but I'm hoping that my good karma from donating to other bloggers' causes will come around!)

I want to "make the drop" by mid-December, and will keep you posted on the status of donations. I'm aiming to raise $500 (on top of what my family is contributing), but obviously the the more I can get for them, the better off they'll be. If you feel like spreading the word, please do so!

Besos

Monday, November 15, 2010

Revelation and randomness

Don't worry, it's not the biblical kind of revelation. Or maybe you were looking for an amazing doctrinal revelation and you found my blog post instead. Sorry about that. (So as not to disappoint, I will say that I believe in personal revelation. I know God is real (no matter what you call him) and I've had answers to many prayers. Not just the ethereal-maybe-my-stomach-growled-and-that-means-something life-changing sort of thing, but concrete I-know-the-answer-to-something-I-didn't-know-before kind of thing. But I digress...)

I was just excited to realize that I've found my groove as a once a week blogger! I know what you're thinking...I'm so ambitious to blog a whole once a week. ;-) What can I say? I do what I can, hehe. Actually, I just have so much going on, and if I spend too much time on here I tend to lose hours at a time. The downside of the weekly blogging is that I miss out on a lot of what's going on with my bloggy friends because I'm not checking my google reader very often. I sure try to get around to everybody, but I will admit that I find it difficult. Many times, I'll give a quick read without commenting (which I hate to do, because I know how fun it is to get comments).

How do you other bloggers find the balance? Any suggestions?

On a completely unrelated note...it was my birthday last week, and I got a Kindle!!!! It was an awesome birthday surprise from my hubby and my folks (well, my mom likely told dad about it...). I cried when I got it, because I was overtired I'm a sucky-boo and that's how I roll.

In other news, I read my first (paid-for) book on my Kindle last night, and I was disappointed with the book but grateful I only spent $2.50 to download it (ebooks on sale RULE!). I had considered ordering the actual book because the cover is gorgeous (anyone else a sucker for a pretty cover?) and the story had an interesting premise, but it was really slow to start and it ended up being only meh.

Also, did you know that I can get the complete works of William Shakespeare for less than three bucks?? My husband asked why I would want it, but I love some of his plays and sonnets. And hello. Three. Dollars. Need I say more? I'm a sucker for a good deal.

Of course, there are a ton of out of copyright books that you can download for free as well. Which I've done. Hurray for free Jane Austen! I also got this cool book of Scottish Proverbs. You never know when that might come in handy. Like when I'm writing a novel with Scottish stuff in it. Which I will. One of these days. But not until I'm well-established so I can write off a trip to Scotland as research. *gleefully rubs hands together* My plan is all coming together, thanks to the Kindle...

Besos!

Monday, November 8, 2010

Cryin'

Do you ever get teary-eyed for no real reason? Well, for a reason, but sort of out of the blue? I have a few things that trigger the tear ducts, and in honour of Remembrance Day (or Veteran's Day in the U.S.) I thought I'd share one of them with you. I promise that it'll make more sense if you keep reading.

As a young'un, I was in love with The Diary of Anne Frank. Actually, I've been pretty much obsessed with the World Wars and the Holocost for as far back as I can remember. The biggest thing for me as a child (and really, even now), was that I could never understand the level of inhumanity and unfairness that went on, and I just couldn't wrap my head around why people committed the atrociously evil things that they did. In an attempt to understand, I've watched more documentaries than I can shake a stick at, and you can bet that if there's one on, I'll be plugged into the T.V. until it's done.

Obviously, war is a terrible thing, and watching and reading about it can make a person emotional. However, more often than not, my tears come at bizarre times. I'm not an overly emotional person, but it's generally when I'm thinking about the circumstances later on that the floods begin. I'm a reasonably mature woman, but the injustice makes my heart sick and I just can't keep my eyes dry!

In relation to that, I also get the same way when I think about the people who serve in the Armed Forces who truly believe in the cause of freedom, and desire to make the world a better place. I'm not going near the politics that are involved - I don't necessarily agree with certain decisions that are made in that regard - but what it comes down to, is that there are men and women who put their lives in danger for others, at tremendous personal sacrifice. Not to mention the physical and emotional sacrifices their families make as well.

I am so thankful to live in a land of freedom and prosperity (Canada), but I know that it was bought and paid for by people who weren't looking to be heroes. I love having this time of year to reflect upon their sacrifice and to mourn the loss of the many people who haven't been able to enjoy the same measure of peace that I've been afforded - and I salute the men and women who continue to put their lives on the line. Thank you.

Besos.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Fall is here!

Summer decided to take a vacation this year, and almost convinced autumn to go with it. Fortunately, it made a special appearance and gave us some fair weather before the winter deluge hits. I have to admit...I kind of like the schizophrenic weather.

Okay, so maybe I'm just saying that because today it's working in my favour and having this beautiful weather makes me feel like we're getting away with something sneaky. Mind you, last week I was whining about the three foot high snow drift that accumulated in our driveway. We barely got any snow, but we live on the edge of town, and the wind blows just right...into our driveway.

Another reason to be happy, is that we're getting our huge picture and basement windows replaced today and tomorrow. I was loathing the fact that they were two months (!!!) later than they had said they would be, but since the weather has cooperated, I am quite pleased because on top of there being no snow or frigid temperatures, there are no bugs to deal with! Hurray!!!

So for today's Marvellous Monday, I celebrate Getting Away With It.

What have to had the good fortune of getting away with lately?

Besos!

Monday, October 25, 2010

Growing up

As a kid, I used to think that becoming a grown-up was a tangible thing. I almost expected to wake up one day with a note on my pillow saying "Congratulations! You're a Grown-Up!". Well, maybe not a note, but I did think there must be something that delineated between those teen years and adulthood.

I was a little obsessed with growing up (as most teens are - I wasn't the only one right? Right? *laughs nervously*). Part of that could be attributed to my looks - I was the size and shape of an eleven year old boy for.ev.er. and hoped to outgrow it - but mostly I wanted to live life on my own terms. When you're grown-up you can do whatever you want, whenever you want. *wipes tears from laughing so hard*

Looking back, I can obviously see how naïve that was, but I did get one part right. I do live the life that I want. Sure, it includes getting up too early (before noon), doing more laundry than humanly possible, and far too much cleaning (okay, so I'm a minimalist in this department, but the house still has to be relatively decent); however, I can do (most of) it happily, because it's part of the life I chose. I'm an at-home mom and I love it!

Obviously my hubby and I take care of business in a responsible way, but other than that, my life has relatively little to do with being a grown-up. Maybe it's from being around these kids for so long, but really, lightheartedness comes naturally, and I love being a kid at heart. Not in the scatalogical humour kind of way, but by living life with a sense of awe and wonder.

No matter how old I get, I still feel like anything is possible. I'm sort of of the mindset that truly growing up means losing that. Sort of like the Peter Pan movie with Robin Williams (Hook) where he forgets who he is and is a grown-up with a capital G.

I mean, we all grow older - but to actually grow UP? I stick my tongue out at the thought. Who's with me?

Besos!

P.S. I ate a huge piece of pumpkin pie for lunch. That's it. Nothing else. And it was AWESOME.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

We never got to see fun stuff like this...

Maybe you've seen it before, but this is what my 5th grader was shown in class the other day, thanks to the teacher being a huge HP fan. Now it's all I hear around the house. (Sorry Mom, you'll think it's lame...)

I know it's a day early, but have a great weekend!

Besos!

p.s. It seems to be loading rather slowly, so hang in there. It's worth the wait!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Magical Monday

Welcome to another edition of Marvellous Monday! I promise that this week will not be as sombre as the last installment. (Thanks for sticking with me!)

As a kid, I never really thought of myself as particularly imaginative. My younger sister had a fabulous imagination and could make up the most fun stories. I always figured that was her thing. On the outside, anyway. In reality, I loved losing myself in fantasy-type books (one of my favourites was Lloyd Alexander's Prydain Chronicles/Black Cauldron series) and on the inside, I would make things up; fancying sprites and elves playing in the trees at the local park. I dreamed of magic and alternate realities, and wouldn't have been surprised to see a portal open up to whisk me away to mystical Avalon or some other fantastical place. If I'd had access to a wardrobe, I'd have been checking for a passage to Narnia for sure!

I had a lot of fun with imagination in my mind, which isn't too far from what I do now. I'm still very much in my own head, but now I write things down in hopes of sharing with others. Even though I now know better than to expect to be carried off to some distant, mythological place, I can't help but keep an eye out for elves in the forest, and if I ever come across an old wardrobe, you know where I'll be...

Seriously though, I do believe magic is everywhere if you know where to look, and I'm grateful for the ability to find it in everyday things (as well as in my head, hehe). It makes me happy and keeps me young (says I)!

What kind of magic is at work in your life?

Besos!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Kindle giveaway!

Sparkling Reviews is giving away a Kindle when it gets to 500 followers, so head over there to boost their readership and enter!

Besos!

Friday, October 15, 2010

On a lighter note...Happy Friday and a contest!

Shannon O'Donnell is having a contest over on her wonderful blog (one of my faves out there). She's got over 500 followers - woohoo!!! Go check her out here. Tell her I sent ya!

Besos

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Marvellous Monday: Wednesday edition part deux

As promised, here's the continuation of the story...
(Haven't read part one yet? Go here or you'll be wondering what the heck is going on!)

Well, that little fella, he wiggled and jiggled right up until it he finally made it out. However, by the time he was in our arms, he was already gone. We were left alone in the delivery room with our little guy. To be honest, I barely cried. I was all cried out from the whole week before, I think. Not only that, but there was an incredibly peaceful feeling in the room. The only way to describe it, is to say that heaven was close enough to touch. It's the only time in my life where I've felt that way, and I can tell you that it was real, and that it helped carry me through some of the more difficult moments.

I don't want to gloss over the aftermath of our loss - it was hard - but we pulled together as a family and made it through. For the most part, I wasn't too sad, but for months afterward, I would have vivid dreams and wake up crying on a soaking wet pillow. On the whole, though, we dealt with it pretty well, and I delivered a healthy baby a short eleven months later. A lot of people thought we were crazy to have another one, especially after dealing with the diagnosis of #2's cerebral palsy. In fact, some people said we should give up and just adopt in case we ended up with more "problems", but I'm stubborn and wasn't going to let a few setbacks keep me from having kids (if I could help it...). Although I had several miscarriages in between my last 2 children, we ended up with five beautiful, living children, and I'd have gone for more if my body hadn't given out on me. I love being a mom, and I think it's something I'm good at. But I digress...

Are you still with me? I hope so, because the purpose of these posts isn't to make you feel sad (and definitely not sorry for me - I'm fine!). Rather, I'd like to tell you a couple of reasons why I'm grateful for the experience and why I wouldn't trade it for anything.

First off, it made me more sympathetic to other peoples' suffering. I still deal with things logically, but I have a much better understanding of what others go through. I'm the same logical, even-keeled person, but I can relate better to others who aren't. This is something that I've not perfected - the first reaction in my head is usually "that stinks, but it's not the end of the world so get on with it" - but just being able to truly empathize with others is a huge improvement and has served me well over the last decade since losing our son.

Second of all, a short time after our loss, some friends of ours ended up in the same situation (only with a different birth defect). They told us that they never would've been able to get through it if they hadn't seen how well we dealt with our situation. Ironically enough, they were our only friends who really talked with us about the baby after he died. Everyone else was too sad, or felt too awkward to bring it up when I wanted nothing more than to talk about his ski feet, and long, slender fingers! Ignoring that he was real, and that we held him in our arms was a little hurtful, although I do understand how difficult others felt about the situation. Also, I was able to tell that couple some things we would've done differently (such as taking more pictures, spending more time with him, etc). In any case, I was so glad that our experience could help them in some way.

So there you have it. A huge trial, and a few of the reasons I am truly thankful for it. I'm really not one of those people who pretends to be happy for the sake of appearances, so I hope you can feel the sincerity in my words. If not, then I obviously need to hone my skills before I'm published, hehe. ;o)

In the end, what I really hope is that others can see that eventually time heals all wounds if you let it, and that you can also find happiness in the painful moments if you keep the proper perspective.

So, I hesitate to ask this for fear that everyone think I'm crazy...but does anyone else appreciate the tough times like I do?

Besos!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Marvellous Monday: Wednesday edition

Sorry I'm a few days late with this one. It was (Canadian) Thanksgiving weekend and I was out of town visiting family. I barely got on the computer, and when I did, it was too late to post anything coherent. :-)

In honour of the Thanksgiving holiday, I thought I'd do a gratitude post with a twist. Everyone always talks about how thankful they are for the good things in their lives, but I want to something a little different. Not that I'm ungrateful for the good stuff - bring it on! My life is definitely filled with wonderful friends and family, a husband who works hard, and children who are healthy and happy. However, some of the greatest blessings in life come from our trials, and that's what I want to talk about.

I'll be the first to admit that I feel like I've led a prettty charmed life. I will also admit that this is extremely easy for me to say because I'm an optimistic person, and even when things aren't that great, my mind turns the situation into something positive. I'm a very logical person, and my universe has very little room for bad things. Everything is an opportunity to learn and grow, therefore, bad=good.

Am I weirding you out yet? Okay, good. I just want you to keep that in mind so you don't read the rest of this and go "This chick is a nut job". (Well, you might think that anyway, but whatever. At least I'm a happy nut.) It's using that logic, that I want to share one of the things for which I'm most grateful. I hope you'll forgive me for getting a little up close and personal.

When I was twenty-five, I was pregnant with our third child (a boy). We had a precocious 2 year old, and a one year old with some developmental delays (to be diagnosed with cerebral palsy shortly thereafter). It was a little overwhelming to tote those little ones around, and I remember praying that our 1 year old (who could finally sit up on his own) would learn to walk by the time the baby was born. Yes, that was a little ambitious, but I prefer that my optimism dictate my reality and not the other way around...

At the end of the second trimester, we discovered that our incredibly active little baby had a condition known as anencephaly where the skull doesn't form completely. Basically, he had a hole in the top of his head, and only part of his brain was there. When the time came to have this little one, we wouldn't be taking him home from the hospital. It was devastating news. We were told that these babies generally don't trigger labour, and rarely even survive the birthing process. When they do survive, it's for a very short time, and there was no telling how much baby would suffer before dying. On top of that, they can bring a lot of complications for mom during delivery.

Since I was already high risk (I'd had a c-section and a forceps/vacuum delivery already, as well as going 42+ weeks with the first 2), we decided to induce labour a few months early. Really, it would be no different than inducing my other babies - all but one were induced, and even that one was 13 days overdue - and anything that could make it easier on me was a good thing.

It was just over a week between the diagnosis and the induction, and I was literally sick with grief during that time. I just kept thinking that these things only ever happened on TV or in books. I was too young for this (as if there's an age-appropriate time to have your child die...) and wondered why it had to be this way. It was pretty surreal. Even the hospital stay was crazier than it should've been. The doctors and nurses were baffled when it took so long to get my labour going. Anyone who came into my room said "It never takes this long". Meanwhile, this baby was busy kicking up a storm. It gave me hope that we'd get to hold him while he was still alive...

I hate to cut it off right here, but this is getting pretty long, and I've got to run. I'll post the rest of it tomorrow. Stay tuned...

Besos!

Friday, October 8, 2010

How cookies saved the day

My 13 year old came home from school one day this week, and was looking a little out of sorts. Being the excellent mother that I am, I asked how his day was. (I know, my skills are astounding...) He plopped himself on the couch next to me and said "I'm so angry." This surprised me. My little fella is pretty easygoing, and usually comes home from school all bright and cheery and eager to chat about his day. He didn't elaborate, so I prodded a little and got out of him that his teacher had told the kids that if they worked well in class, they wouldn't have to do any math homework. The class wasn't good, so they all got homework. He was extremely frustrated. "Why would they do that?", he wanted to know. He did what he was supposed to do, and now he was being punished for their bad behaviour.

My heart went out to him. He works hard, and because his cerebral palsy affects his fine motor skills, it takes him a little longer to do things, so he often has homework anyway. Homework that he does diligently the minute he gets home from school. (So not like his mother. I seriously love that kid.) Anyhoo, I just gave him a squeeze and told him how much it stunk to be lumped in with lame-o classmates, and that it really wasn't fair. Then I told him that I'd baked cookies, and that he'd better go get some with a nice glass of milk.

He looked at me with his slightly teary puppy dog eyes (seriously, they're a little droopy like a puppy) and said "You made cookies???" People, this teenage boy was too upset to notice that our house smelled like cookies! (To which I say: shame on you, evil classmates!)
I gave him an extra big MOM hug and sent him to the kitchen for his treat. After consuming the goodies, he happily finished his homework in record time.

And that, my friends, is how cookies saved the day.

This week's lesson is: Never, EVER underestimate the power of baked goods. (Also, in yo' face, healthy snacks!)

Besos!

Monday, October 4, 2010

Marvellous Monday: Favourite songs, childhood memory edition

I think we're all affected by the music our parents listen to. It's not that I like all of the same music my parents listened to (sorry, Mom, but Hoyt Axton??? It still makes me cringe...), but I've definitely been exposed to some excellent music over the years. Knowing that my parents were teens in the 60s and 70s, you probably won't be too surprised by the memories that music has etched into my brain.

One of my strongest memories associated with music, has to be waking up to the Beatles blue album - Back In The USSR to be exact - blaring on a Sunday morning. My bedroom was in the attic, but I could feel the bass all the way up there. I always knew that meant that mom and dad were making a yummy breakfast/brunch, and I think I still drool in anticipation when that song plays on my iPod!

Another couple of childhood songs that I still love to hear, are Sympathy for the Devil and Ruby Tuesday by the Rolling Stones. I think the lyrics for Sympathy for the Devil are extremely clever, and if you believe in the "devil" as a literal being, it really gives you something to think about. Even as a kid, I was a real sucker for lyrics with either a message, or a good story to tell. That said, Ruby Tuesday is just something I liked to sing along to. :o)

One last memory that gets triggered, takes me back to early elementary school (I was about 7 or 8, I think). There was a boy in my class that used to sing Rod Stewart's "Do You Think I'm Sexy". We all thought it was hilarious, even though we didn't know what that was supposed to mean...I had classes with him all the way through grade 12, and he's never been able to live it down. Poor guy!

Anyone else out there with some fun memories associated with music? I've barely scratched the surface of mine, but I don't want to bore you. :o)

Besos!

Monday, September 27, 2010

Marvellous Monday: What I like in a book

Now that I'm getting somewhat settled into the school year with the kids (I know, they've been at it for a whole month...I'm a little slow, haha), I'd like for the routine to spill over into my blogging. This is the first installment in my new regular feature (okay, so it's the only regular one I've come up with so far...but baby steps, right?). Since a lot of you are writing (or at very least, you like to read) I thought it appropriate to start off with something writing-related.

I will say that I'm not terribly picky when it comes to books. I rarely stop reading a book once I've started it*, unless there's tons of bad language or the writing is distractingly awful. As long as I'm sufficiently entertained, I'm usually good to go. In the past, I've been known to read the dictionary and encyclopedias for fun. It's nerdy, I know, but I love to learn, and have acquired a vast knowledge of many useless things. :o)

Non-fiction aside, I'll read (and enjoy) anything from picture books to complex literature, but only if it has some of the following criteria:

- a sense of humour (from the dry wit of Pride and Prejudice to the Diary of a Wimpy Kid and Mercer Meyer books - I LOVE I Was So Mad and Just Go To Bed! - and on to some of Meg Cabot's books which are seriously LOL funny)
- alternate universe/time travel (Scott Westerfeld's Midnighters series, Chronicles of Narnia)
- dystopian themes (Uglies/Pretties/Specials, The Chrysalids and Ender's Game are faves)
- wizards (Harry Potter, Septimus Heap, Lord of the Rings)
- historical/literary twists (Anne of Green Gables, Ophelia by Lisa Klein, Sorcery and Cecelia)
- WWII (Anne Frank, The Book Thief, Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society)
- Fairies/genies/mythology (Artemis Fowl, The Children of the Lamp, Percy Jackson)
- Fantasy (A Wrinkle in Time, Books of Bayern, Princess Academy by Shannon Hale, Shannara series by Terry Brooks, Fionvar Tapestry by Guy Gavriel Kay)

This isn't a comprehensive list, by any means, but it's a start! How about you? What are you most likely to pick up?

Besos!

*I wish I had put down Gone With The Wind and War & Peace, but dangitall, I'm THAT stubborn.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

We have a weiner...er, a whiner...no - it's a WINNER!!!

Sorry I didn't post this sooner, but this is the first time I've been able to steal a few minutes on the computer today. I have pictures of the exciting draw from my Mexican bowl, but it'll have to wait until later (I'm heading out in 2 minutes to sign away my freedom for the kids' soccer registration).

Without further ado, the winner of the Hunger Games Trilogy is....

SHANNON O'DONNELL!!!

Congratulations, Shannon! I'll send you an email to get your info. Thank you everyone, for spreading the word and for making this an awesomely exciting giveaway. I wish I had a set of books to give you all!

Besos!

P.S. Oh, and also, before I forget, Jen Daiker is giving away a signed copy of Princess For Hire here, so go leave a comment (and don't forget to follow her wonderful blog too!) for a chance to win!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

One week left, and driving isn't all it's cracked up to be

The final countdown to the winner of the Hunger Games Trilogy is on! The contest closes at midnight of the 22nd, and on the 23rd I'll blog the winner. I'm already preparing my lovely Mexican bowl for the prize drawing (you can see the bowl and read about the fancy way I draw for a winner here).

In the meantime, I hope y'all* are doing well. I'm finally starting to adjust to our new, school/activity schedule, although the driving - OH MAN ALIVE THE DRIVING! - is going to do me in, and I, er I mean the kids haven't even started indoor soccer yet which will be every Monday-Thursday evening and goes until April. I'm tired just thinking about it.

You're probably thinking "Well, don't put your kids in so much stuff", which would be perfectly reasonable, but with 5 kids, there seems to be something going on ALL. THE. TIME. Trust me, I'm not one of those super high-energy moms with their kids involved in every extra-curricular activity out there. For starters, who can afford** it? For seconders (seconders?? Somebody*** needs a nap) I believe in a kid needing down time. Lots of down time. Because I like lots of down time. With reading. And sleeping. Did I mention that I'm tired?

Sorry, where was I? Oh yeah, not overscheduling kids. Or moms. Fortunately for my kids, they aren't overscheduled. Unfortunately for me, someone has to drive them to their activities. Since my husband is out of town working and/or coaching men's volleyball (until December - yay!) or playing volleyball (until March - boo!), I'm the one who gets to do the driving. I try not to complain too much, but I do get tired!

Besides, I'm just really grateful to have a vehicle to drive. When we first moved here, my husband had our only vehicle, so a lovely friend would take one of my girls to dance class with her daughter. She was (and still is) a darling, busy woman, and I never hear her complain about all of the running around she does for everyone else, so I have no business whining about my schedule. :o)

Speaking of schedule, I've got to get the rugrats a snack and then ready for bed. (Hubby is out of town for meetings.) Everyone is tired and a little cranky, so a good night's sleep is the only thing on the agenda for the evening. We're going to enjoy our last 3 weeks before the soccer madness sets in! And tomorrow? Well, thank goodness it's Friday, because weekends are free. Except for the out of town trip 2 kids are taking on Saturday with that amazing woman I just told you about in the last paragraph (I really hope she knows how much I love her).

Besos!

*Sorry, it's a throwback to when I used to live in Texas and just slips out every once in a while, y'all. See? There it goes again!
**Uh, not us, that's who.
***That somebody would be ME.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Egg Salad 1, Vampires 0

So, I was going about my business getting chased by vampires, when I was given the opportunity to become immortal. I declined, stating that it would be too difficult to live on blood. The reason? Because I love egg salad too much.

Yep, that's right - in my dreams, egg salad is enough to keep this gal from becoming a vampire. Who knew? And the vamps? They were so disgusted that they just left without further argument. I guess egg salad is the new garlic.

Do you think I could turn this dream into a multi-billion dollar series? The vampires didn't sparkle, so that's, like, a new twist on the genre, right?

Besos!
P.S. Guess what I'm having for lunch today?

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Wow!

First off, I want to welcome all my new followers! *waves hello with much gusto and enthusiasm* You guys have done a great job of spreading the word by tweeting and blogging - thank you! Things are a little hectic right now, but I'm hoping to get around to all of your blogs by the end of the month. It's so nice to meet some of the wonderful bloggers out there. :o)

Well, I don't know about you, but I'm getting excited to draw for a winner, and there are still many days left before the contest ends. Fortunately (for me), my next couple of weeks are filled with settling into a routine with my kids' new school and after-school related activities, so I won't have much time to think about it. ;) Besides, it's looking like I'll have to spend any free time writing everybody's entries out to put into the draw. (For a look at my highly scientific process for drawing a winner, go here.)

I hope everyone is having a great long weekend!

Besos!

Once again, if you haven't done so yet, go here to enter to win the Hunger Games Trilogy.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Another fun giveaway (from someone else)

Happy Saturday, everyone! I can't believe my kids are finally going to be in school on Monday. I'm celebrating all day today by renovating the basement bathroom. (Well, the bathroom needed to be done regardless, but whatever. I heart power tools.)

Anyhoo, check out Jennifer Daiker's contest for a $60 gift certificate here!

While you're checking out new blogs, stop by Michelle Teacress's place, give her some love, and enter her 100 follower giveaway here.

And of course, if you haven't entered my Hunger Games Trilogy giveaway, go here!.

Besos.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Back to school/100 followers contest!

Okay, I've been a total blog slacker over the summer, but as a thank you to my fabulous followers, I'm hosting a giveaway! Up for grabs? The Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins! (And yes, I realize this is ironic after reading my last post because this series is written in the present tense, but a lot of people really love it anyway and I'm trying to give something people will enjoy...)


In case you've been living under a rock (or don't usually pay attention to what's going on in the Young Adult book world), here's a short description from Amazon.

"In the ruins of a place once known as North America lies the nation of Panem, a shining Capitol surrounded by twelve outlying districts. The Capitol is harsh and cruel and keeps the districts in line by forcing them all to send one boy and one girl between the ages of twelve and eighteen to participate in the annual Hunger Games, a fight to the death on live TV. Sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen regards it as a death sentence when she steps forward to take her sister's place in the Games. Without really meaning to, she becomes a contender. But if she is to win, she will have to start making choices that weigh survival against humanity and life against love."

The details:

1. Contest is open internationally, but you have to be a follower of the blog to enter (either on the follower thingy on the side, or on some sort of reader).
2. Leave a comment on this post (for one entry).
3. Mention the contest and link to it on your blog or tweet it (for extra entries).

Contest closes at midnight on September 22nd* with the winner being announced on September 23rd.

Good luck!

*Why so far into the future, you ask? Well, that gives me a chance to get settled into the school routine. I've barely recovered from "holidays", and it takes a couple of weeks after the kids are in school to feel like I've got a handle on things, so...there you go! :o)

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Tense

Not as in "I'm so tense and need a massage" (although I'd totally take the massage...). The other night I read two YA novels that were written in first person, present tense. I know it's supposed to lend itself to a sense of immediacy, but it just doesn't do it for me. I find it much too awkward. Rather than enjoying the story, I spend the entire time nursing an odd twitch that I seem to develop while reading that point of view, and I feel like there's someone in the background dragging their nails on a chalkboard.

I don't know, maybe I just need to get used to it? I've read about 7 or 8 books in the present tense, and I can't remember liking any of them. Even the ones that are bestsellers - the ones that I know would've been a favourite - are moved to the "meh" pile because they're written that way. Sad, but true. I've had a hard time coming to terms with my tense-ism, but after reading that many books, I feel like I've more than given it a fair chance.

Don't get me wrong, I'll still read something that comes highly recommended, but I can pretty much guarantee that I won't buy it or re-read it. (Don't judge - would you spend money to hear nails on a chalkboard? Exactly.) That's not to say that I won't give credit where credit is due. There are some excellent stories out there...it just hurts to have to read them.

What do you thing about books written in the present tense? Anyone else out there with tense-ist issues they'd like to get off their chest? Is there something wrong with me and should I be hanging my head in shame?

Besos!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Why I can't wait for my kids to graduate

I read an interesting post over at Shannon Hale's blog where she mentions someone trashing books based on a one sentence summary. While I agree with her assessment of the situation (in that one can't distinguish between trash and art based on a summary), it got me thinking about the summaries she used from some often studied works in high school curriculum. (Hint: my little rant might make a little more sense if you read her summaries of some books teens are required to read.)

Perhaps you're thinking I'm making a big deal out of nothing (hey, it wouldn't be the first time), but I really do take issue with some of the stuff that is taught in schools. Obviously, I'm not for trashing a book based on a plot summary, but just because it's part of the curriculum doesn't mean it's appropriate for all (or even the majority of ) students. Considering the amount of great literature out there, I think school boards could do a better job at giving a wider variety of material for teachers to choose from so that kids who aren't ready for mature themes or language could have a chance to succeed in and (gasp!) enjoy the class.

The easiest thing for me to pick out, are books with a lot of language and/or crude content. I know that not everyone finds crude language offensive, but my kids are very sensitive to it, and to have to read books with a lot of it is completely frustrating. Case in point, my oldest is taking an online English course (grade 10), and Of Mice and Men is required reading. I'm using this one because I actually find it to be on the tame end as far as subject matter is concerned. To be honest, the story raises excellent questions about how society treats the elderly and the mentally/physically handicapped, BUT there are a lot of swear words, derogatory terms, and bad grammar (okay, so that part is merely annoying*, but still extremely distracting...).

Really, it was all my daughter could do to get through the novel, and it left her with a bad taste that overshadowed anything else she may have learned. The biggest thing she got from the experience came from me telling her that there would likely be a lot worse she'll face before graduating from high school. Guess who hates Language Arts just a little more than when she started? (Besides me, I mean...)

So what's the answer? Well, I'm not talking about a completely sanitized curriculum, but is there no way to generate serious discussion without reading books littered with swears and who-knows-what? It's been my experience that English teachers are extremely well-read and fairly in-tune with students to recognize which ones could appreciate more "intense" books with more adult themes/language, so why couldn't there be a list of "If you like this book we studied, you may also enjoy these other books". I mean, that's only one idea, but it wouldn't be so hard to do, right?

Anywho, that's just my two cents on the matter, and it's what gets me excited for them to get out of high school. Beyond that, they're on their own (snip, snip go the apron strings...). What do you think? Is anyone else bothered by what kids are required to study these days?

Besos!
*Also annoying: hearing about Steinbeck's descriptive passages ad nauseum. I'll admit it: I'm sometimes a skimmer, because otherwise... Le. Snooze.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Thing I can get done when I stay off the computer*

1. Laundry (including putting it away)
2. Organize my laundry room (somewhat)
3. Put away suitcases (finally)
4. Clean the kitchen (mostly)
5. Clean that mountain of stuff off my dresser (where'd all that come from anyway??)
6. Make the bed (I don't know why I feel I deserve a pat on the back for that, but hey, credit where credit is due, right?)
7. Sort through the two baskets + 1 miscellaneous pile of clothes at the end of my bed (good thing my room is so big...)
8. Exercise (which I mostly don't mind, except that it takes up energy, hehe)
9. Actually have dinner planned (no defrosting meat at the last second - I know, I amaze myself)

As you can see, it's not that big of a list, but I'm a slow worker (quit laughing, Mom), especially when organizing is involved. I'm a perfectionist, and until I can figure out exactly where I want to put something, I just leave it alone. This sometimes *coughalwayscough* leads to little piles of stuff everywhere, which drives my husband crazy. I'm (very) slowly getting better. I've actually been able to overcome this tendency in my writing, so maybe there's hope for me in real life too. (I've discovered the joy of writing scenes that will come later, and then writing the stuff in between afterwards.)

So, er, I guess I'd better get back at it, because some of that stuff still needs to get finished...

Besos!


*Yes, I realize that I am, in fact, on the computer typing this right now. BUT - I wasn't before. :o)

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Enlightened: High School Musical edition

Well, not really. I just have that song in my head because I just had my high school reunion on the weekend. Okay, so that doesn't have anything to do with HSM per se, but just go with it, mmmkay? My high school was not so much musical, although we did put on a few of those (The Boyfriend, anyone? No? Um, as you were...).

Uh, anywho, I went to my reunion, and had a flash of inspiration: I was a terrible teenager! Now, before you go rolling your eyes at me because you're thinking all teens are terrible (admit it, it's crossed your mind), what I really mean is that I wasn't any good at being a teenager because I didn't really have the right mindset. You know, the one with all the drama and parties, and the drama, and I heart the football team, and the drama! and all that jazz?

I didn't care what other people did or thought; I just did my own thing*. Peer pressure was a non-issue**, and when I was interested in sports or drama, that's what I did. I loved band, so I did that all the way through. I took motor mechanics because I thought it'd be interesting. It was! I did cheerleading (very briefly in grade 9 before volleyball started), tennis, volleyball, basketball, track, badminton, drama, choir, band, debate team, Model U.N., SADD, variety nights...and I had a blast!

Where was I?

Oh yeah, me being a lousy teen. I definitely had the cranky hormonal thing going on (sorry mom), but for the most part, I was too grown up to be a teenager. This was a big revelation for me at my reunion. I watched people acting pretty much the same way they did in high school, and as I sat with my girlfriend (love you L!), I realized that my point of view was also the same. People were just as ridiculous as they were back then, but I hadn't changed. Sure, I'm less hormonal (er, mostly...), but I'm more or less the same gal I was back then (only wiser, and hopefully kinder, and maybe - okay, definitely - a little chubbier, hehe). Honestly, the reunion was a great time, but I'm grateful to no longer be a teen-aged grown-up.

Anyway, I got to thinking about how this affects my writing. I've got a few young adult novels in progress, but I know they lack a little bit of that teen flavour. I've always known there was something amiss, and I now know that it's because I wasn't typical in many ways. This is pretty exciting, because now that I recognize that, I can fix it! I think that everyone has strengths and weaknesses in their writing, and this perspective was definitely a big one for me in those YA novels. Not that I'll be working on them for a while, what with my focus on perfecting this middle grade novel, but still...it's there when I've got the time.

Have you had any revelations lately?

Besos!
*Too bad one of those things wasn't my hair...
**And would it have killed me to feel the pressure to dress a little nicer??

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Summertime memories

One of my favourite things about summer (aside from school being out) was knowing that many adventures awaited in between the covers of yet-to-be-discovered books. Many times, I would ride my bike to the library, filled with the anticipation of loading up my basket with books. The library was a magical (air-conditioned!) place where sprites and elves could pop out from behind the shelves, and a trip to Narnia seemed possible. I also remember the excitement of finding a Nancy Drew mystery that I hadn't already read, or the thrill of discovering that a beloved book was actually a series.

Judging from what I've read on your blogs, I know I'm not alone in my library love, and when I think of some of my strongest and happiest girlhood memories, I think of summer days picking out books at the library. In my mind's eye, I can see that ecstatic little girl wandering down the aisles, touching every spine, and pulling out the most promising ones for inspection.

I caught a glimpse of that little girl in my daughter today. We went to pick up the last book in a series on which she'd placed a hold. Before picking it up, she browsed the shelves and found a book that she knew she'd love. Her face was glowing when she showed it to me, and for the first time in a long while, I was lost in my own memory of a time (was it so long ago?) when I lived for magical summer days when I could get lost in the stacks.

As a grown-up dealing with 5 kids at home and the general busy-ness of summer, it's sometimes hard to capture that magical feeling - even for an upbeat person with an active imagination. However, today's little trip down memory lane was a gentle reminder to really savour every moment; to feel the joy of new discovery, to enjoy the warmth of the sun on my face, to go for walks in the park, and to look for elves and sprites in the trees.

In between all of that, I will be travelling, editing, querying, reading and writing. I'll blog when I can, but the way my summer is shaping up, I'll be even more scarce than usual! May your summer be filled with magic, and don't forget to have fun!

Besos!

P.S. I will still be holding my 100 followers contest sometime this summer, so I do plan on being around at least a little bit!

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Fifteen years

Last week my husband and I celebrated our 15th anniversary. How did this happen? I have no idea! I suppose it's a good thing that time seems to go by so quickly, but to be honest, I don't like the idea of the years racing by. I get this sense of urgency that I need to accomplish something before it's too late. This is ridiculous, because while my family is definitely a work in progress, it is (and will remain) my greatest accomplishment. I say "my", but I really mean "our". I couldn't do this without my husband.

I want to talk a bit about this man of mine. My husband is hard-working, honest, thoughtful, caring, humble and true. He can't walk by someone in need without checking his pockets for spare change, and cannot operate under any pretenses - what you see is what you get. Lest you think he's perfect, I'd like to point out that I didn't say he's patient. He's not. That's sort of my department, and sometimes my ability to detach from a situation drives him bonkers. :) That's okay though. My husband and I are opposites in many ways, but I appreciate those differences so much! If there was one thing I'd change about him, it's that he looks at things a tad pessimistically (quit laughing, mom). Other than that, he's pretty much perfect. Which he'd totally deny, by the way*.

He really hates when I say good things about him, because he thinks he can't live up to them. He can never seem to grasp that he already has. I'm so grateful to have him in my life. He's a wonderful dad, and a great example for all of our kids. I hope our boys turn out to be just like him. Well, maybe the improved (read: more patient) version, but I think we always want our children to be a little better than ourselves, don't we?

I've been so blessed to have great men in my life, and I'm so thankful that I can give my kids the same thing. Thank you mom and dad for giving me a great example to follow - as a person, and as a spouse. I love you!

Others' flaws might drive us a little crazy sometimes, but we can learn so much from each other, and being with my husband has helped me realize things that I need to improve upon *cough*time-management-and-organization*cough*.  I'm a ridiculously unsentimental person, but I absolutely adore him for helping me become a better person. Here's looking to the next 15 years and more!

Besos!
*Don't worry, he never reads my blog, so he won't even know I'm saying nice things about him. :)

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Spit and polish

As some of you know, I'm trying to finish editing/polishing my MG manuscript so I can query agents right away. The idea of having it all ready to go by the end of this month, was so that I could just sit back and relax over the summer*. Summertime seems to be pretty slow for hearing back from agents, and even if I get a few requests right off the bat, my MS would go to the back of the bus and it'd likely take a while, so it seemed like the perfect plan. I could work on some of my other stuff and play with the kids.

The only problem I've encountered, is that the last few weeks of school are always such a zoo. I mean, I'm getting there, but it's been much slower than I anticipated. I have a terrible sense of how long something is going to take in the first place, and I really want to put forth my best work. It's just too bad that sometimes life gets in the way! I mean, it's a great life and all, but still...

Really, I don't know what the rush is. I guess I just hate to miss my own self-imposed deadline. It's kind of silly, because I'm sitting on a manuscript** that I think is pretty terrific, so does it really matter if it takes me an extra week to make it the best it can be? Hmm, there's something worth pondering. :o)

How about you? Do you have deadlines you make yourself meet? Are you hard on yourself for missing them?

Besos!

*You know, as much as you can while waiting by the email inbox...
**Not literally, of course. That'd be weird.


Saturday, June 19, 2010

It's a little sick, but I can't stop laughing

I'm not big on "potty" humour and I'm sorry if this is offensive, but I just can't help myself. I had to post this video. I'll just apologize right now for shattering anyone's image they may have had of me. :o)
Please tell me I'm not the only person who thinks this is hilarious.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Summer ramblings

Anyone else getting antsy for summertime? My husband just got back from fishing with a couple of the kids, and is busy cleaning up so we can have fish for dinner tomorrow night. I can hardly wait to BBQ it up with dill, lemon and butter. Yum! I hope we get to eat lots of fish this year. We used to live right on a lake* up north, and the fishing was awesome. I miss that.

As much as I love the long winter nights, I look forward to summer evenings because the sun doesn't fully set until around 10pm or so, and I don't feel so bad for staying up so late! :-) Oh, and the northern lights dancing across the sky...amazing! The one drawback? Birds singing at 3 in the morning. Not cool!

However, that early morning noise is totally made up for by the fact that I don't have to get the kids up and off to school, which in turn means that I don't have to make lunches!!! Hurray! I don't know why this is such a big deal, as I'm generally kicking kids out of the kitchen all summer long, but for some reason I find that way more appealing than getting up early and packing those little lunch bags. Maybe it's just the getting up early part...Mornings and I don't mix. (That may or may not be an understatement.)

Of course, one thing that I'm looking forward to is being able to query again. My manuscript will be all polished up and ready to go in the next few weeks, and I'm so excited! In spite of not landing an agent last year with my YA novel, I thought querying was a great experience, and I really learned a lot. As a result, I've finally got a way to fix what needs to be fixed in that novel, but I've made notes and set it aside for the time being. I have a number of things on the go, but I think I've really found my voice writing for the middle grade years, and I'm IN LOVE with my goofy little book that is about to be sent out. I guess I should have known - I love the Diary of a Wimpy Kid books**, haha.

In the meantime, I'm very happy to say that I won a 10 page critique from fellow MG writer Natalie Bahm whose website you should really check out because she's a lovely person, and will be doing a critique a week, AND her agent is currently looking to add to her client list.

Well, I'm off to bed to try and catch up on some of the sleep I missed last night. Insomnia is the worst! Especially when you have to get up and make lunches 3 hours after you finally get to sleep.

Besos!

*Not, like, on a houseboat or anything. We lived in a real house. On the shore...you get the idea.
**Seriously. I wish I had written those. They're awesome.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Delirious already

I have a hard enough time getting to (and staying) asleep, that I think school trips for elementary school which rob me of precious Zs should be illegal. I'm all for the band trips for older kids and such, but to travel 2 hours one way for a fourth grade trip to a place that they'll never remember? Not so much.

I know, I know - I shouldn't be such a grump. My #4 is completely over the moon at being able to go, but then she's always been (and will likely remain) my most eager child. (Seriously, she loves to help do anything!) And, I'll have to drug her to get her there and back (which I'm totally not supposed to do, but I'm doing anyway to save her the embarrassment of getting motion sickness*).

What's worse, is that she's so excited that she had trouble getting to sleep because she's worried her alarm won't go off, or that I'll sleep through and she'll miss the bus. I tried to remind her that my track record for school outings is impeccable, but try explaining that to a nine year old worrywart. Besides, out of all my kids, she would be the one most traumatized by me forgetting about an activity, so that's a HUGE incentive for me. I couldn't exactly tell her that, though. She'd just worry about it.

I'm hoping for a great sleep tonight, even though I shouldn't because that's when I end up staring out my front window until three a.m. (okay, so I read or go on the computer, but it's right by a window...) In any case, I'm already looking forward to tomorrow night, because I never have to worry about waking up on a Saturday morning. :o) Only 19 more days until summer holidays...but who's counting**, right?

Besos!

*Also to save the teachers from having a mess on the bus.
**Okay, you got me...

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Finally!

Sorry for the silence. I got home from my child-free week, and then Blogger has been acting up every time I've been on here to post! You've probably seen this around, but I just wanted to put this clip up. It's the author of Eat, Pray, Love and I loved every second of it! If you've been writing or querying and need a little encouragement, this is for you. I know it's a bit on the longish side, but it's worth every second. Enjoy!

Besos!

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Greetings

Just coming up for air to say hello. I've got super slow and sporadic internet right now, so I've not been able to check out blogs or anything! This is good though, because I've been able to read 5 novels in the last 3 days - something I've not had time to do in for.e.ver.- and I've been able to touch up a couple of my own projects.

I'm going to be climbing into my writing cave tomorrow and I'm not coming out until my middle grade novel is finished. It has to be done by Friday when I see the kids again, or I'm in big trouble. Fortunately, the kids don't care if it's unpolished, so they'll get to read it next weekend. That's the great thing about kids: as long as they can laugh and feel the conflict is resolved, they're happy. (And that's why it doesn't matter how much your kids love your work, and why you need some impartial feedback, hehe.) I'm already looking forward to doing the edits on this one, and (barring any major rewrites) I should be ready to query by the end of June as planned. Hurray! I love checking my email eight thousand times a day...

Anywho, I just wanted to say a quick hello, and let you know I'm thinking about y'all and that (terminator voice) I'll be back.

Besos

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

I haz mad writing skilz

Or at least I think I've still got some skills in there! It's been so long since I've made any major headway, that I'm starting to wonder. Never fear - I'll be a reclusive writing fool for the next week, because....

I've got a huge week ahead of me with almost seven (count 'em, SEVEN!) child-free days to work on whatever I want! Hubby will be attending a conference, and the kidlets will be at my mom's (love you mom!), so I'm super stoked* to have some time all to myself. This school year has been tough for getting much done on my projects, so this is my opportunity to git'er done.

Truthfully, I've been literally itching to write for longer than fifteen minute stretches. I'm pretty good at that (out of necessity, mostly), but it'll be wonderful to focus on one thing (without distractions!) for a long period of time. It's sort of like when I go to the gym, and there are just some days where I need to get on the treadmill and stretch my legs with a nice, long run. You know what I mean? Maybe I shouldn't have used the running analogy...

The plan is to finish the middle grade novel that the boys have been pining for, but I also hope to revise a good bit of last year's queried-but-not-quite-high-concept-enough novel. (I don't want to get too ambitious though, because then I'll probably just scare away all of my creative energy.) I've finally got a way to fix it up all purty, and I'm dying to see if I can make it work because I absolutely love the story and want to see it published!

So, be forewarned: I may not be on here much** while I'm in the "zone". Wish me luck!

Besos!

*Yeah, I can't believe I used that word either...
**I know, you're thinking that I'm not on here much anyway, but whatever, just go with it, k?

Monday, May 17, 2010

Momfail

I'm not the most organized person in the world (okay, you can stop laughing now, mom) but I'm pretty good at keeping track of the important stuff. You know, like if my husband says "Did you see that super important paper with that thing on it from two weeks ago?" and I'm all "Sure, it's under that stack of papers that slipped under the coffee table that I've walked by thirteen times and just haven't gotten around to picking up because I had my arms full of laundry each time." Stuff like that.

I'm awesome at remembering all kinds of crazy, weird facts and figures, and at remembering things like the birthdays of my friends' children that I haven't seen in eight years...so I can't for the life of me figure out how I could forget my #3's final basketball tournament AND a kid's church party on Saturday!!! What the heck???

The sad thing is, none of us remembered about the kid's party until someone else stopped by and brought it up later that night (as in "Hey, where were you guys this afternoon?") and we didn't realize we'd missed the basketball thing until TODAY when I asked #3 if he had practice after school and #4 was all "Oh no! Wasn't your big final tournament on Saturday?"

So, yeah. Huge momfail this weekend.

This is why I carry a notebook with me to jot down the story ideas that come my way. Now if only I would also write down some of that other stuff like parties and basketball tournaments...I could be mother of the year!

Besos!

P.S. I would just like to point out that #3 had a friend over, and #4 and #5 both had playdates with friends, so it wasn't like they didn't have any fun that day. I also got the lawn mowed and did some shopping, so in all it was a very productive day. We just didn't do anything we were actually supposed to do.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Happy one hundredth post!

Okay, so I'm a couple of posts late to celebrate my own blogiversary, but better late than never, right? I'm trying to come up with a fun little giveaway to celebrate my centennial, so watch for that. I'm hoping to make it coincide with my hundredth follower...only a few more to go! (But, uh, don't get too excited, because it won't be huge or anything - hey, we're a one income family with 5 kids, whaddya expect??)

I hope you know how much I've appreciated your comments over the last year and a bit. I've met so many awesome people, and even though I'm not the busiest blogger out there, I really enjoy doing it, and I just want to say thank you for sticking with me! The school year is done on June 28th, so I'm looking forward to settling into a relaxed summer routine, which should include more regular blogging. At least that's what I'm telling myself. ;-)

Have a great weekend!

Besos!

Sunday, May 9, 2010

A Mother's Day poem

Just a teeny little poem I wrote because I lack the capability to accurately describe the feelings of my heart when it comes to motherhood. The sad truth is, I'm not that good a writer!

Motherhood is...

Pushing, pulling, stretching, tearing
Aching, breaking, mending, wearing
Bonding, grasping, hoping, coping
Agonizing defeat
Ecstatic victory
Sleepless nights swaddled in unconditional love
Bliss veiled in snotty, slobbery kisses
Remembering, preserving and protecting
Innocence...
All in a day's work.

Happy Mother's Day to all of the wonderful women out there: mothers past, present and future, mothers in spirit and desire, sisters, grandmas, aunts, cousins, teachers, friends. Let's face it - it's a group effort!

Besos!

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Teacher Appreciation Day

I realize that I missed posting yesterday, but the kids had the day off school and it was a bit crazy around here, and then we had people coming in and out to look at some furniture we had for sale (it sold - yippee!). I don't know if this is a U.S. thing to appreciate your teachers this week, but I've seen several posts that got me thinking about some of the wonderful teachers I've had.

I had Mr. M. for 11th grade English, and he made me feel like I could write. He encouraged creativity, and gave me 'A's on essays called To Biff, or not to Biff (Death of a Salesman essay, I think), or on papers in pink ink on 6x8" paper (that I cut down myself) because I was a notoriously, uh, concise writer and he didn't specify that it actually had to be on standard paper.

Then there was Ms. S. who I had for several subjects and roughly a dozen classes from grades 9-12. People thought she was a little different, but she really cared about the students and was a gifted math teacher. She got quite sick by the time I graduated, which others never really understood. A lot of students poked fun at her, but she was a lovely person, and one of my favourite teachers.

My absolute favourite teacher though, was Mr. L. He taught me for grades 5 and 6, and I even babysat for him and his wife. He was a gifted teacher, and made science a blast. He planned amazing outdoor excursions where we learned so much. I would've gladly had him as my teacher for every year of my life. He's that good.

I've been extremely grateful for the many wonderful teachers that my kids have had in their short time in school. In spite of difficulties with the school division for our #1, the teachers in my little city are second to none.

A good teacher can make all the difference in the world, and I just want all the teachers out there to know how much I appreciate their hard work. Have you thanked a teacher lately?

Besos!

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Waiting in the wings

Yesterday, as I was driving home from an Easter break visit at my parents', my mind was filled with images from various novels that I've got simmering. My life has been so busy of late, that I've only had time to capture little snippets on paper here and there, and I've been (almost literally) itching to get in some really solid writing time.

I knew it was going to be a little crazy because I was homeschooling again, but this year surpassed any sort of craziness I anticipated and zapped almost all of my creative time and energy. I'm not complaining, just stating a fact, but the time is coming when I'll be able to restore some of that balance and get back to a routine that includes working towards my writing goals on a more regular basis. This anticipation has led to tingling fingers and a buzzing brain: my time is coming!

I hate not being able to write as much as I want, because that's when the discouraging internal dialogue and anxiety set in. I question my ability to tell a story, or begin doubting things like my knowledge of basic sentence structure and grammar. The less I write, the worse I feel, so the only antidote is to keep writing!

In truth, I don't have time to waste on that pesky fellow in my head who is more than happy to voice his opinion of my less than stellar abilities - you know what I'm talking about, right? (Please tell me I'm not the only one!) I can't afford to listen to that niggling, pessimistic voice. He's been getting a little loud lately, so I know that it's time to get cracking and finish my fun little MG novel. I had originally set a goal to have something ready to query by the end of this month, but I know I'm not going to make it, so it's been good to re-evaluate and see what can actually be done.

In the spirit of re-evaluation, I've switched my goal to coincide with the end of the school year. It's still ambitious, but I need to nourish my creative self, and squelch the evil naysayer on my shoulder. And I'm excited! Sometimes it's necessary to put myself aside to take care of the pressing needs of my busy family, but at the same time, it's important to remember to take care of me. It's a delicate balance, but I think I do a good job of maintaining harmony between my desire for a happy family and a happy self.

When I was in high school and university, I was involved in a number of drama productions. Sometimes I had a small role, other times I played one of the leads, but no matter what I did, I was excited to be backstage, waiting to go on. In some ways, I still feel like I'm involved in an elaborate production as an invaluable secondary character singing and dancing my way through motherhood. I may not always be the most graceful person out there, but I'm loving being on the stage and one day the spotlight will actually be on me! (Hard to believe sometimes, but still true.)

Although publication may not happen as quickly as I'd like, I'm always keeping my greatest accomplishment -my family- in full view. This anchors me and keeps me on an even keel when I feel my dream of a "writer's life" (such as it is, haha) slipping away. Everything else will fall into place in due time if I'm any good at all. The excitement of impending creative time is what keeps me going when I'm a little weary and worse for wear.

What keeps you happy and gives you the ability to plug away when the world is seemingly conspiring against you? I'd love to hear it!

Besos!

Friday, April 2, 2010

A wee game of tag

Howdy y'all! I'm feeling badly that I've been too busy to write anything of interest lately, but most days, I haven't even checked my email until nighttime. Crazy!

I've had my nose to the grindstone for the last 2 weeks with schooling in general and with #1's online Math10 course (well, aside from the usual busy-ness, along with a pneumonia-ridden husband, kids with varying degrees of colds, etc, etc...)*. I'm pleased to report that she finished with a 98.5% average and is excited to move on to 11th grad math. She's a smart one, let me tell ya.

I know I'm not supposed to admit to this sort of thing, but the more mature, enlightened and less bitter part of me is refraining from writing an in-your-face letter to the old school division that wouldn't let her take the darned course in the first place. Don't worry, mom. I would never do it. Especially since she wants to re-register here to finish out the year with her bandmates. :o)

So, since my brain is swimming with all kinds of formulas, I'm doing something fun. Michelle Teacress tagged me the other day (and since I've been pretty useless coming up with posts of my own...), I'll fill in the blanks and tag three others.


I like... the smell of clean laundry.

I like... the special kind of love that kids have for their mom.

I like... to laugh.

I like... when justice prevails.

I like... my pink, fuzzy, polka dot pyjamas.

I like... nighttime.

I like... eating tuna with tortilla chips.

I like... wearing high heels.

I like... wearing polka dots. They make me so happy!

I like... raisin toast with peanut butter. Mmmm, I'm hungry.

I like... my kids being home for the holidays.

I like... the television to off during the day.

I love... being a stay at home mom.

Today was... long, yet it went by too quickly!

I dislike... talking on the phone.

I dislike... movies that are awesome but that I can't show my kids because of the foul language, or that "one scene". Grr, so annoying that moviemakers can't have a good story without throwing in unnecessary adult content. *shakes fist at Hollywood*

I dislike... parent/teacher conferences that accompany the four reporting periods in the school year. If my kids are doing well, send me a note, and if they're doing poorly, just let me know. Oh, wait. Isn't that what the report card is for??? Waste. Of. My. Time. Seriously. (I'm sorry, I know some of you readers are teachers, and have to follow school policy or whatever. I don't blame teachers. I generally love teachers, and I originally went to school to be one. And I love you. Okay? Okay.)

I hate... tasteless jokes.

I dislike... my family using eighteen million cups between the time they get home from school and bedtime. Who needs 4 water glasses??? Little stinkers.

I dislike... when the internet conks out on me.

I dislike... mornings.

I dislike... really windy days.

I love... dancing to loud music.

I love... reading.

I now tag:

Roxy at A Woman's Write (she also happens to have a great contest going on right now - check it out!)
Lisa at Confessions of a writing mama
Christine at Day Dreamer

Besos!
*I know, I'm just full of all kinds of excuses, aren't I?

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Library-loving blog challenge

I'd like to encourage you to comment on C. Lee McKenzie's blog here between March 23rd and 27th. For every comment, she's going to donate a dollar to her local library. Everyone knows that libraries need all the help they can get!

If you're feeling really ambitious, go here to see a list of blogs of people who will donate money for each commenter. It doesn't take long to do, and I definitely plan on doing my part by surfing the net tonight after the kids are in bed.

Go libraries!!

Besos!

Monday, March 22, 2010

Homeschooling saga...part one hundred

Some of you may know that I homeschool my oldest (an eighth grader), and that she's a smart cookie in the math department. We've had problems dealing with our school division in that they've not allowed her to move ahead. We found an online option so that she could get credit for 10th grade math, but because we're not in the same school division, the tuition would be $500. Our school division finally acquiesced and said she could take their online math course...for $500 - and after she wrote the 9th grade final (on material she took 2 years ago).

I found it rather insulting that they would extend this offer, particularly since she could take the course for free if we withdrew her from this school division and enrolled her at the online school in the other school division. The problem with doing that though, is that she attends band at one of the middle schools here. So, no school division, no band. Now, understand that when she goes to band once or twice a week, nobody takes her attendance, and she kind of comes and goes as she pleases. If I hadn't gone to the principal at the start of the year, he wouldn't have even known she was there, and if I hadn't submitted it to the school division on her year plan, they wouldn't have known she was even taking it.

However, I did both of these things - neither of which were actually required on any sort of official level; I just thought it was the right thing to do. So when the superintendent of home school put forth the extra effort to call and let me know that she wouldn't be allowed to take band if we decided to pull her out of the school division, I was a little upset. She loves band, and I was hoping something could be worked out. Schools have guests come in all the time, and I know as a parent, that I'm able to be in the classroom as much as I desire, so I didn't think it would be an impossibility. After all, she already knows her pieces, so it's merely a matter of being able to come in and play with the other students.

I went and talked to the principal to see if something could be worked out. He is a great guy, and was shocked that she wasn't allowed to take the online course here (after all, "regular" students of the division have access to the courses - for free - if they need them) and he thought it'd be a very good idea, but would eventually have to check with his supervisor. He told her to keep coming until he found out otherwise.

Well, a few short days later, I got a phone call from him. He asked if I had received the official letter stating that she was no longer a student of the division. I hadn't (and still haven't, over a week later), but he had. Darned if they didn't send it to him first to make sure he knew that they wouldn't allow her to attend. He talked to his supervisor, asking if our girl could take a bit of time to "transition out", but they are trying hard to send a message to us. (I imagine the voice of the beast in Beauty and the Beast saying "You're not welcome here!")

Anyway, the principal was very sorry, and said that he found the situation to be extremely unfair, but that it was way over his head (which it is - they were pretty abrupt with him). Honestly, this school division has been terrible right from the get-go. I don't understand how they can behave in this way, and I plan on writing several letters once I do a little research into how other school divisions deal with their homeschoolers. From what little I know, I've seen that they at least allow their home school students to take the online courses that mainstream students can access.

In the meantime, our daughter has begun the Math 10 course with the online school, and in 4 days she has already completed 2 of the 7 units with an average of 99%. Her goal is to complete it as soon as possible so we can re-register here so that she'll be able to finish out the band year and go on their big trip in June. This is something we hadn't even considered, but at least it's an option. I hate to go back to our school division when we've been welcomed with open arms to this online school in the other school division, but I'm leaving the decision up to her.

Thanks for listening to me rant a little bit, but it feels good to get this off my chest!

Besos!

Monday, March 15, 2010

Unveiling the truth...edited

Well, one of you did guess correctly - the truth was #2.

Back in the olden days when I may have been a lot cuter than I am now, I went on 11 dates (edited to add: with 9 different guys) in one week*. I had a date every day of the week, with 2 on Friday, 3 on Saturday and 2 on Sunday (one was an invitation to lunch after church, and one was to visit sick people at a hospital). I don't know what I was thinking, and that was the week my roommate decided to screen my calls (remember that, B?). It was an exhausting week.

Here's the skinny on each of my lies:

1. I got to dance on stage with Madonna at a fundraiser bash. FALSE - I just totally made this up. My dance moves are questionable, and I'm not even a real fan of hers.

2. I once went on 11 dates in one week.  TRUE

3. When I was 7 months pregnant with #2, I got a free blender after I burst into tears while talking to a store manager. FALSE - Although, I did cry and get a free can of paint because the first can said it would cover in one coat (and it didn't). I got frustrated when they gave me a hard time, and the waterworks started. I'd like to say this is the only time I got something while crying, but that'd be a lie. It's embarrassing to have perpetuated such a cliché, but boy, does it get results, haha.

4. My eyes turn lime green when I wear pink. FALSE - I do have green eyes though, just not crazy lime green ones...

5. I have a tattoo on my hip that says "Bookworm". FALSE - Do stretch marks count? They kinda look like worms...Besides, I have an aversion to pain, particularly the self-inflicted kind.

6. In my spare time I like to throw clay, and have several pieces on exhibit in an art gallery. FALSE - But it's something I've always wanted to do!

So, there you have it; the truth revealed. Thanks for playing along!

Besos!
*Lest you think this was normal behaviour for me, rest assured that it wasn't! I just wondered what it would be like to go out with every decent guy who asked me out that week, and it happened to be a, uh, productive week. I never had another week like that ever again (and I'm sooo glad)!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

I'm such a liar

Shannon O' over at Book Dreaming gave me this Creative Writing award (aka: bald-faced liar award). I must say that I've seen this on a few other blogs and it looked like so much fun to do, so thanks Shannon, for thinking of me when you, umm, think of lying...? ;)

So, I'm going to tell you 6 outrageous things, and you have to try to figure out which one is true. Well, you don't have to. It's not like I'm going to hunt you down or anything...or will I? mwahahahahaha*cough*splutter* Note to self: evil laugh needs work! 

*hem, hem, hem*

1. I got to dance on stage with Madonna at a fundraiser bash.

2. I once went on 11 dates in one week.

3. When I was 7 months pregnant with #2, I got a free blender after I burst into tears while talking to a store manager.

4. My eyes turn lime green when I wear pink.

5. I have a tattoo on my hip that says "Bookworm".

6. In my spare time I like to throw clay, and have several pieces on exhibit in an art gallery.


Good luck picking out the truth...they're all pretty realistic*, haha.

I now pass this blog award to: (with working links)

Terresa @ The Chocolate Chip Waffle
zz @ eek.eke
Erica @ laugh.write.play

Besos!

*She says with tongue firmly planted in cheek...

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

On writing

It's been a while since I've actually posted anything on writing, but I read a great post over here at The Write Game about C. Lee McKenzie's process and wanted to share it. (She's the author of the novel Sliding On The Edge.)

I'm generally a pantser when I'm writing. Though I usually have an idea of where I'll end up, I like to let things go and see where the characters take me. In my most recent MG novel, things happened a little differently. I had a bunch of ideas that I wanted to take place along the way, so I wrote them as chapter headings. I ended up with a little outline that's been immensely helpful. It's even added another element of fun to my writing (okay, so I might be easily amused, but I'll take it :)).

What's working for you these days?

Besos!