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Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Z is for Zoo!!

You could take that one both literally and figuratively, because my world does often resemble a zoo. Certainly my schedule does!

However, since I have some cute pictures, I'll talk about the literal zoo. My family and I have memberships to the zoo and we love going there. I know some people don't like seeing animals in cages, but I'm actually okay with it because I know the zoos are protecting species that may soon be gone. It makes me sad to see the diversity of life on our planet, and how it's disappearing. Maybe I should accept it as the circle of life. Except I think back to creation and I feel like it's our duty as human beings to care for the planet and all the living beings on earth.

Argh... well, I was going to add some cute pics of the zoo, but the photo uploader thingy isn't working.

So, I guess we'll just talk about the zoo. Do you have happy memories of the zoo? Or do zoos make you sad?



Monday, April 29, 2013

Y is for youth

One of my friends celebrated her 40th birthday Saturday night. This isn't a terribly unusual thing for me because I tend to have older friends. And then I realized that 40 isn't so far off for me.

Where did the time go?

As part of my friend's birthday celebration, we went to a nightclub. Now, anyone who knows me will tell you that the nightclub scene has just never been my thing. But that's what she wanted to do for her birthday, so we went. It was kind of weird, doing something that I didn't do back when I was of age to be doing such things. I concluded, about ten seconds after walking in the door, that I hadn't missed out on much.

But there I was, dancing with my hubby, to a song that I remember from when I was young, and I wondered how it was possible that I'm not as young as I think I am. I certainly don't feel very old, and sure, when I look in the mirror, I look a little older. But I feel the same.

My example of who I want to be when I grow up is my FIL. He's 75, and he and his girlfriend are training to do a bicycle tour through Germany this fall. I had dinner with them the other night, and they casually mentioned that they'd ridden 30 miles that day, and were disappointed because their goal had been 60. I can't even do that now! But that's what I aspire to. My FIL is one of the youngest old guys I know, so maybe the key to staying young (and feeling young) is not acting like you're old.

That said, I don't think I'll be going to any more nightclubs anytime soon.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

X is for Xenophile

Okay, I admit it, this is where my perfectionist rule-following tendencies just can't be broken. I searched and I searched for a great X word without fudging or making one up. It's a sickness. But, as you saw with my Q post, I am working on it.

I love traveling and having new experiences. I love learning about new cultures and people who are different from me. I love trying new foods. In essence, I am a xenophile.

Which is weird, because I hate change. So I guess I like experiencing new things, as long as I get to go back to my same old, same old.

I think that's what I like about living in America. I love getting to see and experience the different cultures that exist all around us. I feel especially grateful that I have friends of different cultures because they teach me so many interesting things.

Friday, April 26, 2013

W is for Writing Journey

imageI don't always talk about my writing, at least not in online form, because sometimes there's a blurry line between being a writer and working in the publishing industry. Plus, it's a little weird given that as much as I've been in the business and know about the business, I'm still waiting on that elusive book deal. The waiting can be hard. I've learned a lot from waiting, but I can also say in all honesty, that I'm really done waiting. But that's not for me to decide.

In terms of the wait, agent Rachelle Gardner just wrote a great post on the subject. It inspired me to talk a little about my waiting journey.

Here's what I've learned about waiting.

1. Publishing really is a crapshoot. I've seen books that have made it that leave you scratching your head as to why, and also books that are excellent that sit in someone's drawer for lack of publishing. As much as you want an explanation, you're just not going to get one. It's the same deal once a book is published. Excellent books miss the bestseller list, and really bad books make it. Why? The person who figures out the answer to that question will make gazillions in the industry.

So here's what you do about it. Write the best book you can. Learn from the experts. Keep improving. Be willing to let go of your expectations. Understand that the journey is going to look a lot different than what you thought it would be.  Every single one of my friends from when I first got started (except those who quit) are now published. I never imagined that it would take this long for me. But it has. And ultimately, I have to be okay with that. My time will come. Hopefully before I die.

2. Take the waiting time to learn. I'll never forget the early days of going to writer's conferences. I ran into a woman I knew, and she proceeded to tell me how much she thought going to conferences was a waste of time because it was always the same information and same people, and she never learned anything. That writer is still not published. I contrast that with the time I sat next to bestselling author Joan Johnston at a small writer's group. The workshop was geared mostly to beginners, with very basic information, but there was Joan, taking notes. At the break, she made a comment to me about how the presenter said something she hadn't thought of before. The lesson I learned- even the pros have things they still need to learn.

3. Keep writing. I know so many people who spent years on that one book. And then, when that one book sold, they had nothing to come next. They struggled with how to start another new book, and couldn't figure out how to get it written in a timely manner. I have completed somewhere between 15 and 20 books. I lost count, and that's okay, because I imagine some of those books aren't very good. But I know how to write one, and I know how to get it done. I've learned something new with every book. My fabulous agent, Chip MacGregor, says that eventually, we can go back and sell some of those old books, so maybe... someday.

4. It's okay to be frustrated. I get really upset at people who want to offer pithy statements about bucking up and not letting you be upset about disappointments in the process. I cannot tell you how many times I've had to screw a smile on my face as some Pollyanna gives me lame advice about my crushing blow. You suck it up, and when you can, do whatever it is you do when you're angry and hurt and frustrated. Go ahead and cry. Write a cathartic piece about your feelings. Use those emotions in a scene that you're writing. Sometimes, you just have to let the emotions be what they are. This does not mean you post a blog rant about the editor who rejected your masterpiece or send that same editor black roses. Make sure you have a small group of writer friends you can trust- talking about it with them can really help. My go-to group is willing to kick my butt when I need it (and sometimes when I don't see it!) but also love on me just as much.

That said, there is a point at which you do have to pull yourself out of it and move on. I found a rejection letter the other day for a book that, at the time, was the book of my heart. I was depressed for WEEKS over that rejection. I was sure the editor was some kind of horribly mean human being for not seeing the beauty in my brilliant piece of work. But now, 8 years later, I looked at that letter, and went, "huh. I didn't know that editor rejected one of my books." It would be nice to do something with that book someday. But in the meantime, I've written at least ten other books, and I've been able to move on.

5. Your journey is your journey. I can't tell you how many well-meaning (and sometimes not so well-meaning) people want to compare your journey to someone else's. Heck, sometimes I want to compare my journey to someone else's. But that's not fair. The timing is just different for some people. Even once you sell a book or two or ten, you could have a dry spell of years without publishing a thing. Or you could consistently publish for the rest of your life. I don't know what it will look like for me or for anyone else. As hard as it is, and as much as I want to analyze it and find a formula, there just isn't one. So accept it. Accept your journey. Sure, you're going to be upset and disappointed from time to time, but accept that piece of it. Think of it as a journey to the new world- you don't know exactly where it is, or how long it's going to take. And maybe, though you're expecting to land in India, you'll end up discovering a whole new continent.

Are you a writer? What's your advice for people on the waiting portion of the journey?



Thursday, April 25, 2013

V is for Vegetables

[caption id="attachment_4104" align="alignleft" width="300"]Harvest Some of last year's harvest.[/caption]

Not as in, I am one, though to be honest, my brain feels like it is turning into one.

Actually, today's post is more of a wishful thinking post because I am DYING to plant some vegetables. But given that we seem to be getting snow every Tuesday this month so far, I don't dare. I have a few peas and some lettuce planted, but that's about it. Plus, I'm really concerned about the whole GMO vegetable thing, and I think that's going to make finding some nice seedlings a little harder for me this year.

Because I do want to be healthier and am trying so hard to eat more vegetables, I try a new vegetable in my garden every year.

I'll be really honest here- I do not have a green thumb. Stuff grows in my garden, and I'm usually mystified at how it all worked out. I tend to grow more than my share of weeds because I don't always know what is a weed until it's too late. I also never really know if something is ripe, or overripe, or what. I just guess. I mean, I read the books and I think I know what I'm doing, but it's really just me playing roulette with my plants. Some live, some die. Some taste good, others not so much.

But hey, I'm trying, so that has to count for something, right? Besides, even though my garden is a beautiful disaster, we still do get some yummy veggies that as of yet, have not killed us.

I'm also looking for more creative veggie recipes. Especially in terms of side dishes because I'm kind of bored with just a bowl of some veggie as a side. Surely there's something more creative I can feed my family, right? I had a really yummy purple yam at a friend's house once. I saw some in the store the other day and I bought them. I'm going to make them for dinner and hope I don't mess it up. And that my kids like them. Maybe it's weird, but the one thing I always buy at the store when my kids do the "buy me this" stuff is produce. If they point and demand in the produce aisle, the answer is almost always yes.

Do you have a garden? What do you like to grow? And if you're not the gardening type, but like to eat veggies, I'd love to hear your yummy veggie suggestions.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

U is for Uh...

magic-wand-mdYeah, that.

I wanted to write something about being unique.  Only I don't feel very unique and I don't feel like I have anything unique to say.

And then I thought about writing about things that are useful, only that felt boring to me. So then I thought writing about useless things would be fun, but then I thought that might come off as being too negative. I'm in a funk, and I suspect that what I think is a little negative will sound really negative to others since my filter is clogged.

I could have written about unicorns. I like unicorns. Except I don't have a picture of one, and really, what's the point in writing about a unicorn if you don't have a picture?

The next thing that came to mind was underwear. Which I KNOW no one wants to see, and that isn't really what I was thinking of anyway. I was thinking of those jokes little kids tell where the punchline is always underwear, and it's hysterically funny to the kids, but makes absolutely no sense to anyone else.

Actually, if we use underwear in the sense of the joke analogy, it makes perfect sense. Because it doesn't. Which is kind of where all of my thoughts are going these days, so I guess, if you don't take the word literally, my U word should be underwear.

Except that with all of this underwear talk, all of the spam bot troll freaks have now targeted my blog. This is why we don't talk about underwear. Which I have, so I guess it's too late now. Besides, I get a ton of spam bot trolls. Do they really think that by saying this is the best blog they've ever read I'm going to click their link?

Uh... yeah. Off topic, I know. It's been that kind of week. I feel like I'm in the middle of a really bad joke that is supposed to be funny, only it's not. But everyone but me is laughing. Actually, they're not. It's another bad analogy, I'm afraid. I guess I just feel really disjointed and out of touch with reality.

Maybe I should go find a unicorn.


Tuesday, April 23, 2013

T is for Trust

I had another post about half-written. And I'm not using it. Because a few minutes ago, I checked my Twitter feed, and caught a snippet of a quote from someone else, and it did something in my heart. So I'm going with that. The funny thing is, when I clicked on that part of Twitter, I lost the quote, and for the life of me, I can't find it.

The gist of the quote was about trusting in the goodness of God.

I'm dealing with a situation that really hurts right now. I talked to a friend about it today, and after she reassured me that things are going to be fine, she prayed over me. I'm ashamed to say I don't remember most of the prayer. I had to interrupt her at one point because I was crying so hard I had to put the phone down and blow my nose. Mostly they were good tears.

But some were hard tears. Of realizing that despite the hard lessons I've learned, I still trust in the wrong people, and the wrong things.

So today, when I read that quote about the goodness of God, I realized that no matter what crap gets thrown my way, there is still something I can trust in. I may not like it, it may not be on the path I want to take, but regardless of my circumstances, God is good.

I keep thinking of how many times the Bible says to "Trust in the Lord." I suppose if I had a fancy Bible app, it would tell me how many times that phrase appears. I know it's a lot. I guess we have to be told so many times because we forget it a lot. Or at least I do. For now, though, I'm really glad to know there is something I can trust.



Monday, April 22, 2013

Q is for Quick, pretend I didn't skip Q

I'd like to give you all a clever reason, or even pretend that I planned it this whole time. But the truth is, I'd been thinking of a really cool Q post, and somewhere in my mind, I lost a day. I lose days a lot, mostly because I don't leave my house to work. In fact, I only leave my house when I absolutely have to. I do what the calendar tells me, and even that's not very efficient, because I still get my days mixed up.

So there it is. The truth. I forgot my Q date. The worst part is, I'd been thinking of a very clever post for Q and I can no longer remember it.


This is what my life really is like. I'd re-date my posts so that it looks all nice and neat, but you know what? I'm leaving it messy. Because someday, people are going to look at my mixed up alphabet and think, "wow, someone else does that too." Or maybe they'll just think, "wow, there's someone who even has it less together than I do." And hey, if you're a mixer upper like me, it's okay. As I slowly lose my grip on my perfectionism, I'm finding that there are so many worse things in life than doing something like getting your alphabet out of order.

My name is Danica, and I skipped Q. Well, actually, I didn't. I just put it after S. Tomorrow I'll be back on track. Which letter is that?

Friday, April 19, 2013

S is for Salmon Faverolle

YES!! This is another post about my chickens! I am turning into the crazy chicken lady who tells everyone about her chickens and whips out pictures every chance she gets. I'm even thinking about getting a chicken purse. There may not be help for me.

The Salmon Faverolle is my chick. Her name is Gwendolyn. Gwendolyn was sick early on with some kind of weird eye/respiratory thing, but we gave her visine, neosporin in the eye, and antibiotics in the water, and she seems to have pulled through with no ill effects. I was a little worried about poor little Gwennie because the other chicks were getting lots of feathers, and she wasn't. Then someone told me that boy chicks don't feather out as quickly as girl chicks, so then I've been worried she was a boy. However, she's starting to get more feathers, and they are looking more like girl feathers than boy feathers (they're different colors). So I'm starting to feel a little more relieved and hopeful that we'll have Gwendolyn around for the long haul.

Tomorrow is the three week anniversary of getting the babies, so she's now just a little over three weeks old. Here are some pics from this evening.

[caption id="attachment_4400" align="alignnone" width="300"] The dog is not sure what he thinks of this Peep[/caption]

[caption id="attachment_4401" align="alignnone" width="300"] I love my Peep so much![/caption]

[caption id="attachment_4399" align="alignnone" width="224"] We're hoping these Peep feathers are girl feathers. Looking good so far![/caption]

[caption id="attachment_4398" align="alignnone" width="300"]Funny bird Gwendolyn is kind of at the awkward stage where her feathers are coming in funny[/caption]


Thursday, April 18, 2013

R is for Remembering

FlowerAs we grow up, sometimes we lose touch of the person we wanted to be. I went into college very confident, and I had a lot of great dreams. Unfortunately, I had some bad experiences in college, and some of that hope was torn from me. Over the years, especially lately, I've worked hard to recapture that person I once was. Not because I'm one of those people who clings to the past, but because I let so much of the pain of the past define me and hold me back.

There's so much work still to do, but I had a really profound healing moment the other day as I came across a piece written about me in college. Our assignment was to interview a classmate and then write that classmate's biography based on what was said.

Here's my bio written by a classmate:

"'I love to read. I have an unquenchable thirst for knowledge,' said Danica Favorite about herself. Well, that about says it. Look out world because Danica has come willing to try almost anything once, and she intends on doing just that until she reaches her goal: To make the world a better place. Danica, who is from Loma, CO (outside of Grand Junction), believes in keeping an open mind. This is probably why she enjoys debating as much as she does. Her dedication and perseverance shows in her debating, as she would rather tackle the challenge of arguing/defending a point she disagrees with instead of a point she believes in.

Believing in never judging a book by its cover, Danica has aspired to prove that the world, much like a book, has many secret treasures; you just have to find them. She would like to travel, experience the lifestyle of different cultures, and document her activities in books.

She has come to the community with the hopes of having the education that will help her achieve her goals. After that, it is off to show the world what she feels; that there can be a better world, and the sky is the limit."

Wow. I had pretty big plans and aspirations. The funny thing is, not a lot has changed. Okay, so I'm not willing to try ANYTHING once. I mean, I have watched the Meth commercials on TV. Meth. Not even once.

But I still love to read. I still have an unquenchable thirst for knowledge. I still want to make the world a better place. I don't like debating much anymore. I finally learned that most people don't have an open enough mind to be willing to see another point of view. However, I still do like considering points of view different from my own. Not so much because I doubt myself, but because I do want to understand people who are different from me. My close friends will tell you that I'm still dedicated, and one of my dear friends recently gifted me with a token as a reminder of the perseverance she admires so much. I still believe in never judging a book by its cover, unless, of course, Fabio is on it. I would still like to travel.

But you know, I keep going back to his point about the world being much like a book, that is has many secret treasures- if only you find them. It's been a long time since I've approached the world with that desire to seek out those hidden treasures. It might be a smile from the man down the street my daughter calls Grumpy Old George. Most of the kids around here are terrified of the guy, but my daughter adores him. George is a secret treasure. And I've stopped looking for a lot of them.

I had to smile at the part about my desire to travel and document my travels. That hasn't changed. However, with a family, a mortgage, and the cutest little Peeps on the planet, that kind of travel isn't possible right now. Still, I do get to visit some neat places, and I'm really grateful for that.

What got me most, though, was how, even then, I wanted to be a writer. I'd forgotten that. Mostly because the same class in which we'd written those biographies killed that dream in me. My professor was an egotistical jerk who plainly told me that his goal was to take me down a few notches. It worked. But only temporarily. I spent four spirit crushing years in which I wrote furtively, pretending I wasn't that girl, pretending that my soul hadn't been torn from me. And then I moved on. I still said I would never be a writer. I found many more dreams. I followed them. I started a family. And I wrote. Secretly at first, but then, I decided to go for it.

It's been a long hard road. I have not achieved my writing goals. I have lamented how long my writing journey has been. But I'm still here. And I'm still fighting. The girl who dreamed of writing books and changing the world is still inside me. It's taken me a while, but I remember her. I still have a long ways to go, and I'm sure I will never fully arrive at my destination, but remembering that girl, it gives me the strength to keep going.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

P is for Princess

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA I've been planning this post for a long time- every since my C is for Cowgirl post. Because you see, my other little one at home is a Princess. I never imagined I'd be raising a Princess. I'm not really the princess type, but I made a choice a long time ago that I would embrace whatever little people came my way. I grew up in a family that didn't embrace my personality or the things that were important to me. So... who did I end up with? A Cowgirl and A Princess. Two completely opposite personalities, and worse, two personalities I don't relate to.

The hardest for me, though, is the Princess. Everything is pink. She is bubbly and pretty and needs everything to be pretty. She's almost 9, and she already spends hours doing her hair. Today's hairdo also involved twisting fake flowers in her braid.

Fortunately, my princess is also a tomboy. She likes to climb trees, and be as active as possible. She usually does it while looking like a princess. Well, sort of. All of her pants have holes in the knees. And I think that's what makes my little Princess so delightful. When you peel back the layers, you always find something unexpected.

One of the most unexpected results of having a princess is that I really do enjoy her. I can't imagine having her any other way.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

O is for Organization

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThis is the part of the blog where I come begging for YOUR tips.

A lot of people compliment me on how organized I am. Can I just say, once and for all, that I have them all FOOLED??

I would love to be more organized, and most of the time, I feel like I am grasping at straws trying to make things fall into place. My newest organization project is that I need to take everything from my desk (pictured) and find a new home for it so I can bring in my treadmill and have a treadmill desk. UGH!! I am so procrastinating on this.

Another organization project is that I am finally accepting the fact that my old desktop (over 9 years old, I should say), is on its deathbed. To be honest, I only use it for taxes and family finance stuff, so it is time to bid it adieu. However, this means that I need to get the old files off it and put them... somewhere. Let me explain what my laptop looks like. I have files in it. Within the files, I have a file called "old laptop." This is the mostly dead laptop I have in my office that I'm terrified of getting rid of in case I need something off of it, even though I've transferred all of its documents to the "old laptop" file and I haven't needed that computer in a long time. Even then, I only used it for a Microsoft program that I have on that computer that isn't on this computer because I won't pay $500 for it. Which I used once.

So... I have a lot of computer files. Now that I am going to be taking the ones off my desktop, I have to figure out where to put them. On one hand, since I haven't touched most of them in YEARS, the thought might be, I don't need them, forget about it. On the other hand, most of them are stories I've written that someday, maybe I could theoretically publish. Sure, they were rejected once, but I could resurrect them, right?

Which leads to my next story organization dilemma. How do other writers organize their stories on their computers? I've tried so many different ways, but nothing is consistent, and I only remember my most recent ones. I need to find a way to reference or at least know where older stories are. I have about 15-20 complete manuscripts, and at least that many more partials, and at least that many more ideas. PLUS, I have articles and article ideas.

These are times when I wish I had some kind of assistant or secretary who could figure out a system for me. Since I'm not a rich and famous author, I'll just have to rely on you guys. What are your tips to help me get organized???



Monday, April 15, 2013

N is for Nutrition

Last HarvestOne of the things I'm struggling with is weight loss. I should preface all of this by saying that all of my "I need to lose weight" comments are based on the fact that my doctor has told me to lose weight. My weight loss goal is based on what my doctor says is a healthy weight for me.

While my doctor thinks the primary reason is my need to exercise more (and I don't dispute that- but I also haven't seen results from exercise), I've also been looking at nutrition. I am pretty anti-diet. I've just met too many people who go on diets, especially fad diets, and temporarily lose the weight, but mostly gain it back. Plus, I really don't want to live that restrictive of a lifestyle. Both my doctor and nutritionist think that my diet is fine, and I know that my caloric intake is in the range of what it should be to lose weight.

That said, I know I can do better diet wise. And while so far, it has not helped me lose weight, I have learned some good things about nutrition that will get me closer to my goal. Even if I never lose the weight, I know that diet-wise, I will be healthier because of my nutritional choices. One of my friends commented that I am her nutrition example, because she's also trying to lose weight.

Here are my nutrition tips that she said really help her:

  • Always add an extra vegetable. Our diet in America is so vegetable poor. So I made a point, that in every recipe, if it calls for one vegetable, I always add two. If it doesn't make sense to add an extra vegetable, I double the amount of the single vegetable. More veggies = more vitamins!

  • Add protein. This might just be a diet issue I personally have. Back when I tracked calories (I don't anymore, because I naturally eat within a good calorie range), I realized that the area that was always low was protein. I realized that when I'm eating on the go, or snacking, I almost always reach for carbs or fruits and veggies. I wasn't getting enough protein. So now, if I want a snack, I always look for something with protein in it. I also make sure every meal has a decent amount of protein.

  • Eat the best food first. When I start to feel full, and I have a lot of food left on my plate, I ask myself this question, "which of the foods left on my plate has the most nutrients I still need today?" Some days, that's protein, so I eat the protein, other days, it's the vegetable, so I eat the vegetable. If I still feel a little hungry, I eat the next most healthy thing. When I am full, regardless of how much food I have left, I stop eating.

  • Think about leftovers. If you grew up in the clean plate club like I did, think about how you can use the food you didn't eat for another meal. Sometimes, when I am deciding what to eat more or less of, I will choose the item that I can't eat for lunch tomorrow. I am notorious for going out to eat with the intention of taking food home for lunch the next day. If I know that one meal will actually be two, I won't eat as much.

  • Water. I actually hate plain water. However, I am convinced that part of my weight gain started when I started drinking water with the little flavor packets in them. I don't care that they say zero calories. I gained weight in a nightmarish way and I can't get it off. There are nasty chemicals in those things. Throw them away! However, since I hate plain water, I needed something to make it palatable. I do two things. One, I add lemon or lime juice to all of my water. It give it a little flavor, plus extra nutrients. Two, I drink tea. Now, I know that cup one is full tea and doesn't technically count as water. But then, I re-steep that tea ALL day. So by the time I'm on cups 3, 4, 5, and on (yes, I drink that much tea), it's really glorified flavored water and the caffeine and bad stuff is gone. I DO NOT ADD sweetener. I wouldn't make it as a Southerner.

  • Breakfast. I used to be firmly in the "don't make me eat breakfast" club. It took a while to get used to, but now that I make breakfast a priority, I've found that I get less hungry during the day and make better food choices. My ideal breakfast (I'm still working on doing this every day, but I feel best on days I do this) consists of protein, a complex carb (if I omit the carb, I'm hungry by 10 am), and some kind of fruit or vegetable.

Those are the tips that have worked for me. Like I said, I'm still trying to lose the weight, but I think if I weren't doing these things, I'd probably weigh more. Our bodies need good nutrition. My focus isn't on going on a diet, but on having good nutrition and taking care of my body.

What nutritional tips work for you?

M is for Money

1402725_girl_dances_with_an_umbrella_african_fiIt's Sunday night. For some of you, it's Monday morning. But I have a little while until my clock calls it Monday, so let's call it Sunday. Even though this is Monday's post. Whatever. I guess the only reason the time is important is because the money thing happened for us on Sunday.

Brief history of our family finances. My husband was laid off from his job less than a month after I found out I was pregnant with our almost 9 year old. Talk about world's worst timing.  He spent the next 3 years working odd jobs, starting businesses (that failed and put us HUGELY in debt), and doing everything he could to support us. I even took a job doing taxes. Which I actually loved, but ended up quitting a few years ago to spend more time with my family. Three years of no steady income and insane financial disasters, and I'll be honest- we're still paying off some of that debt. But we're doing well now, and not a day goes by that I don't feel incredibly blessed for what we have.

Fast forward to 2012 taxes. 2012 was good to us. I made money, hubby made money, both at his job, and with his side jobs. I paid off a lot of debt, including the car. Our daughter required extensive therapy not covered by the insurance and we could afford it without eating ramen for weeks. We refinanced and got a lower interest rate on our mortgage. I became thriftier. We made more money than we've ever made. In fact, we made more money than we'd ever dreamed we could make.

At first, I was disappointed because, I mean, you make all this money, and we're not living that much better than we did before. But then I realized just how much more we do have. Back when hubby was laid off, we qualified for free preschool for our other daughter. Now, we don't, but when we had a child with learning issues and no help from any source, especially the school, I could write the check. So yeah, it's disappointing to not have all the "stuff" I thought we would at this income level, but who can put a price on what we've been able to do for our kids?

And then there's the fact that this is the first year EVER that we've owed. Because I am trained to see what the numbers mean, and how the heck could we possibly OWE, I took a look at why we owe. The answer is kind of funny. We owe because I was more frugal this year.  We owe because we saved $5000 in mortgage interest by refinancing. We owe because I used airline miles instead of paying for some of my airfare for business trips. I look at all the good things I did financially, and I realize that we owe the IRS because I did a good job.

So you know what? The IRS can have that money. Even with paying them, I still come out ahead.

Today was the day of reckoning. I had to pay all of our bills so I could figure how much money we had left so I could figure out how much to take out of savings to pay the IRS. In the meantime, I've been watching airfare for a family trip we're taking, and since it was the first time hubby and I have sat together over finances for a while, I showed him what I'd found and asked his opinion. He told me to buy the tickets. OUCH. On the same day I'm paying the IRS! But we've been saving for this, and so guess what? I booked the tickets. And THEN, because clearly I'm insane, I checked prices for flights for a trip I'm taking in July, because I noticed there was a sale. Half the flights were SOLD OUT. So I did what any crazy person would do, I bought the tickets.

This morning I was at church, and I do a weird thing with tithing. I get a number in my head of what I think is right, and then I pray about it. If hubby's with me, I show him my number, and he tells me what he thinks. Sometimes his number is higher, sometimes mine is. And sometimes, I feel a nudge about an even higher number. I always write a check for the highest number. So today, I was in church, praying about what to give, thinking of my standard number, and I had the nudge to write it for more. Our pastor gave a great sermon about temptation, and how we're always tempted with good things. He cautioned us to never accept the good things apart from God. I realized that I tend to make a lot of my decisions, even good ones, apart from God, so I reaffirmed my commitment to consult Him more. This is the point at which I started writing my check.  Most of the time, you write checks without thinking, which is what I did, until I looked down as I was signing it. It was for DOUBLE my standard amount, which is more than the amount, I thought God had led me to give.

At first, I was a little startled, because I knew that I hadn't paid this month's bills yet, and I knew I had to pay the taxes. At the time, I had no idea I was also going to pay for two trips. That would have really freaked me out. I honestly had no idea how much money I'd need to cover it all.

But as I thought about trusting God, and how we'd trusted God all through hubby's dry season, I tore out the check and dropped it into the offering.

I told this story to hubby tonight, as I was spending an INSANE amount of money, and he just laughed at how far we've come. For the amount of money I spent today between airfare, taxes, and bills, I should have a car for all my trouble. And even though I'm still appalled at the amount of money that just went through my checking account, I'm also incredibly grateful. Today was a day of plenty. I wrote all of those checks, and I know we can cover them all. The numbers worked out pretty close to perfectly. I'm so overwhelmed with gratitude for that feeling, because I remember the days when there wasn't enough money to cover any of them. When, if I had even owed the IRS $100, I would have freaked out because there was no way we'd have come up with it without sacrificing groceries or gas or some other necessity. I think about how far we've come. And I want to remember. I want to remember so that if things continue to go well for us, I don't get puffed up about it and think we've arrived. Or think that it's our due. I want to feel blessed instead of entitled. I want to feel grateful instead of bitter that we don't have more.

I have no idea what your financial situation is. If you're in a good place, I hope you take the time to be thankful for where you're at. Appreciate the blessings you have. If you are able, pass that blessing on to someone else. And if you're in a bad spot, that's okay too. I remember those days. I'm still recovering from those days. Hang on. Do the best you can. It's okay. It will be okay.


Friday, April 12, 2013

L is for Lazy

As in, I was too lazy to think up a blog post for today. Someone mentioned in a comment in one of my previous blogs that it was a deep post. Maybe that depth sucked my remaining brain cells out and I no longer have the capacity to think. Who knows? I will admit that I vary from being deep to being completely shallow. Right now, I'm just tired.

So how about a cuteness overload of chicks?

Cute Peeps!



K is for Kindness

ButterflyWhat the world needs is a little more kindness.

I say this as a person who is not particularly kind. I admit that I have a temper, and I have a tendency to snap at people when I don't mean to, or sound overly harsh when I'm just trying to be firm. But I'm trying to be gentler, kinder, and form nicer responses before biting people's heads off.

When I look at so many of the world's problems, I wonder what having just a little more kindness would do. I'm not so naive as to think that kindness would cure all of the world's ills, but I do think it would make the world just a little bit better.

A while back, I did a random act of kindness experiment. My goal each day was to find one random person and do one secret random kind act for that person. I did a lot of fun, sometimes crazy things that really stretched me as a person. I found that being kind to strangers was addictive. Sometimes, I had an almost intoxicated feeling watching someone's day get just a little bit better. More importantly, I learned that when I was intentional about doing one kind thing, I ended up becoming kinder in general.  While it was a great experience, I learned something else valuable. Being kind to random strangers makes no difference when you aren't being kind to those closest to you.

I've been wanting to go back to my kindness experiment, only this time I'm doing it with a twist. I'm choosing to deliberately be kind to someone in my own life. Rather than putting pressure on myself to be kinder or be nicer or whatever, I'm giving myself a manageable goal. One deliberate act of kindness toward someone who needs it. My act of kindness may be as simple as not giving a mean retort when someone says something to hurt my feelings. It might be buying my friend a cup of coffee. It might be watching a princess movie for the 1,987,230th time with my Princess. It might be following through with a promise I didn't really mean to make. It could be any number of things, but it only has to be one thing.

I would also be remiss if I didn't say that the kindness challenge also included being kind to yourself. Because let's face it. We'll do everything we can to be nice to those around us, but what are we telling ourselves when we look in the mirror? We give someone else a break, but when do we give ourselves one? My post about indulgence is a good reminder that sometimes the person we need to be kinder to is ourselves.

When I originally came up with this challenge, I kept it a secret because I try to be mindful of the verses in Matthew about giving to the needy in secret. I didn't want my good deeds to be about puffing myself up in the eyes of anyone else. But as I think about kindness, and the need for us all to be just a little bit kinder, I realized that I can't ask others to be kinder if I don't tell my story. So now, as I move forward in my own personal kindness challenge, I'd like to have people join me.

Since April is blogging A to Z month, I'm going to make May my Kindness Challenge month. Are you willing to commit to performing one intentional act of kindness toward someone in your life during the month of May? It may not change the world, but I know it'll brighten someone else's day.



Wednesday, April 10, 2013

J is for Judgement

I've been thinking about this post for a while now. Mostly because the J-word is such a huge part of my faith journey. I did not grow up in a Christian home. I was always curious about Jesus, and I went to church with whoever I could, whenever I could, but my family always had the attitude of, "no thanks." Their biggest reason: Judgement.

I've experienced a lot of judgement in my life. More when I've lived my life as a Christian than when I strayed from my faith. It's as though the moment we accept Christ, a switch magically flips and we're suddenly supposed to become more perfect and more capable of overcoming the flaws of humanity that made us need Christ in the first place.  Except it's never worked that way for me. Maybe I'm doing it wrong, but as much as I've prayed to become a better person because I'm a Christian, the more I find I fail. Worse, the more I work on being that person exhibiting the magical "Fruit of the Spirit," the more I seem to have a whole lot of rotting fruit falling off my tree. When I dig deeper into the question forever embroidered into friendship bracelets about What Would Jesus Do, I end up falling woefully short of anything that would make God proud.

The real Danica, the person I am when I am just being me, is not the person who exemplifies any of the Christian ideals we learn about in Bible studies. I cuss. A lot. Mostly in my head, but I do enjoy letting a good one rip once and a while. I can say, without any doubt, that my children learned every bad word they know from me. I have a pretty mean spirit. I was just talking on the phone today with one of my BFFs lamenting someone else's good fortune that we did not think was fair. I told her, "I know I'm supposed to be happy for her, and I know I'm not being Christlike, but man!!!" I yell at my kids. I plot people's murders in my head. I lust after things I know I shouldn't lust after. I don't read my Bible every day. To be honest, I don't understand most of what I do read in the Bible. I sometimes skip church because I'm too lazy to get out of bed. I do not love my neighbor. I really don't even love myself most of the time. I tell people I'll pray for them and then forget. I try to spend time with God, but spend most of that time sitting around, wondering what the heck I'm supposed to be doing and how you spend time with someone who's invisible. Mostly, I don't get what it means to be a Christian. Because while I think God is awesome, I'm really not sure what I'm supposed to do with that knowledge. Sometimes, I even question God. I wish this was the complete list, but I could probably continue the list all night and still not be done writing it.

Great confession, huh? The reason I don't confess these things more often, is that I fear the judgement that comes with them. I've seen Christians who confess to their failings in attempt to be more transparent, but you know what? Those confessions almost always come with some deep Biblical lesson to show how much God is working in their lives. I don't really have those same answers. When I slip in front of some Christians and say that bad word or unkind thing or totally blow it on a Biblical interpretation, I'm immediately thrown into the pot of sinners who, despite our best intentions, are going to hell. If I have a glass of wine, some Christians don't care, and others are immediately calling the exorcist in hopes of saving my soul. Some days, I'm afraid to take a step or open my mouth, because I know that despite my good intentions, I'm going to alienate a group of people I deeply care about. So I clam up and go through the motions. I try to be the good, more evolved (or maybe I should find another word, since some people would have me burned at the stake for saying "evolve"), Jesus-loving Danica that's sure to go to heaven. But it makes me miserable.

I don't presume to be a theologian. But here's what I believe to the bottom of my soul. God knows the real me. He knows when I'm faking it. He knows every single bad thing about me, every single doubt, and He chooses me anyway. He knows I don't have it figured out. He knows I'm trying. And I'd like to think that even though I somehow missed the class on how to be magically transformed because of faith in Jesus, that God loves me anyway.

Because I am not a fully evolved Christian, I don't always remember these things when people judge me. I forget that it doesn't matter that others think I'm the biggest messed up sinner on the planet. I sometimes fail to cling to God's love and grace when I need it most. And yes, there are days when I, too, judge. I'm sorry for that. Like I said, I'm still figuring this out.

There are people in my life who don't judge me. I'm really grateful for them. Those are the people who are Jesus to me. They don't need me to be more or less of anything. They love me as I am. And when I someday become that highly evolved Christian I read so much about in all the self-help Christian books, they're going to love me still. Of course, I'll probably be dead at that point, but hey, we'll be in heaven, so it'll all be good.

Tuesday, April 09, 2013

I is for Indulgence

[caption id="attachment_4367" align="alignright" width="300"]Tea Time Tea time with my girls. Notice I made some of my scones heart-shaped, just for the princess.[/caption]

One of the lessons I'm learning is the value of indulging oneself. Not to the point of being a silly, spoiled brat, but in saying, "I am worth it." Indulging yourself once and a while means slowing down and taking the time to care for yourself so that you are better equipped to do the things you need to do- including taking care of others. My friend Lucille Zimmerman wrote a great book on self-care, and I learned so much from her in the process of critiquing her book before it was published. I used to be the kind of person who took care of myself last, and found that I was always worn out, run down, and never seemed to have any time for myself.

Let's face it. I'm a busy mom. I have a busy life. I imagine that a lot of the people reading my blog can say the same about their lives. But you know what? Taking time for yourself, indulging yourself in a few things that fill you up make you a better person. Again, I'm not talking about always thinking of yourself or putting yourself first all the time. But every once and a while, give yourself permission to do something good for you because you want it.

Today was an indulgence day for me. The kids were off school for a snow day. But I had a massage appointment booked. Fortunately, the roads weren't bad, and you know what? I need my massages. For a long time, I waited until I was in a lot of pain to finally go in and get it taken care of. Not anymore. I have a standing appointment every other week. Yes, every other week. Is it expensive? I found a good deal that allows me to prepay for 12 sessions, and when I do that, it costs 50% less than if I bought them individually. So yes, it costs quite a bit of money, but I have less pain and am more relaxed because I make a point to do something good for my body.

After my massage, I worked for a little while, but then I remembered I had some yummy scone mix in the pantry I'd been wanting to use, so why not have a tea party with my girls? I made scones, used my good teapot, my good tea, my nice tea cups, and the girls and I had a lovely afternoon visit. It feels good to use my nice things, instead of saving them up for special occasions. I made a special occasion out of an ordinary day, indulging my love of scones, tea, and time with my girls.

This evening, after the girls went to bed, I took a bath with some lovely bubble bath my friend gave me for my birthday and read a book. Another indulgence.

I could have cleaned my house. To be honest, I should have cleaned my house. But the dirt will keep. Instead, I took some time to take care of myself and do something nice for me. I feel really good. I am relaxed and ready for a good night's sleep. And tomorrow, I will tackle everything else I needed to do with gusto- except maybe cleaning the house.

Monday, April 08, 2013

H is for Hard

The Road TakenI wrote 458 words tonight. That was really hard. Usually I can write a lot more in the time I took, but for some reason, the words weren't flowing. Plus, I've been thinking of what I'm supposed to write for "H" and that was hard too. I also had to get two excited little girls to bed. We're supposed to get a huge snowstorm tonight and tomorrow. We got the snow day phone call just before bedtime. Do you know how hard it is to get little girls excited about a snow day to GO TO BED!

I'm trying to eat healthier, and that's hard. Mostly because I crave bad foods, and though I try not to keep them in the house, a bad food always sneaks its way into my tummy.

In fact, I think about a lot of things in my life, and the reality is that a lot of my life is hard. And even as I try to list the things in my life that are hard, and barely scratch the surface, I know that my life isn't nearly as hard as others. Still, I always wish I had an easy button, like on the commercials, but the easy fairy hasn't made her presence known.

A friend of mine recommended The Road Less Traveled: A New Psychology of Love, Traditional Values, and Spiritual Growth by M. Scott Peck. I've read the first chapter several times, but  I never seem to get past it. He says, "Life is difficult." And he's right. He talks about how you have to accept this fact to get to the good stuff in life. I'm sure he says it more eloquently than I just did.

I'm not sure I've gotten to a place where I can accept that life is just hard, but I am learning to look at the hard stuff in life and do it anyway. I didn't want to write. I wanted to take a bath and read a book. But I would like to finish writing this book, and so, even though the words were hard, and I don't like what I wrote, I did it. Maybe I'm not yet where I want to be, but I'm closer. I think if I waited for it to be easy, it would never get done.

I used to have a poster of the poem, The Road Not Taken, by Robert Frost. It's my favorite poem. I wish I still had that poster, but I guess since I have the poem memorized, it doesn't matter. I like the reminder that the more difficult path is the one that ends up giving you a feeling of accomplishment.

So... life is hard. But I'm hoping, that if I push through the hard things, and do the hard stuff anyway, it will be worth it.

How do you handle the hard times?

Sunday, April 07, 2013

G is for Good Grief!

[caption id="attachment_4360" align="alignleft" width="300"]My cuddly chick. She was cuddly even before she got sick. My cuddly chick. She was cuddly even before she got sick.[/caption]

It's been a doozy of a few days. The MOPS sale was wonderful- this was a good year for the group financially, and they made a good profit. Not sure of the final numbers, but I know everyone was happy. My personal numbers- this was a record for me! I made more than I spent! I spent $140, and I made $160. Wahoo me!

Toward the end of the sale, I started feeling a little sick. Just tired and run down, but like I was coming down with something. So I went home and went to bed. I thought I was better today, but I'm still a little icky feeling, like my body wants to get sick, but hasn't yet.

On top of that, my chick, Gwendolyn, started acting sick on Friday. She was having issues with one eye being swollen shut, so we researched it, and are trying a few different remedies. The trouble with the Internet is that you get answers from "your chick will die," to "your chick will be fine- do this." Nyssa also ended up getting sick, but she's much better now. Gwendolyn is still not really better, but she isn't worse. And while she mostly sleeps, she's still eating and drinking fine. So... we'll see. I don't want her to die. I know that's part of life with animals, but I'm already attached. She's such a sweetheart. There is a vet who will see her, but I don't really have $80 to spend, especially if she's going to die anyway. From what I understand, she'll either make it or she won't, and not a lot you can do about it. Boo!

GwendolynAnd then... we woke up this morning to find that we'd been robbed. For the past three years, at about this time of year, someone breaks into all of the cars in our neighborhood. Last year, my Kindle was stolen from my car. This year, a dolly (from the sale) was stolen from my car. AND, my daughter's bike was stolen from our yard. Several bikes went missing from our neighborhood. We don't even live in a bad neighborhood. It's very middle class, low crime, but for this stinky teens who keep doing this! They caught the kids the first year, which is how we know they're kids. They didn't get enough evidence in year two to prosecute. So here's hoping that year three, they can get them again. The bad news is that these kids are getting smarter, and the police think they used gloves. Or at least that's what their attempts to fingerprint our cars came up with. The good news is that one of them was dumb enough to drop a flashlight in our yard, so maybe it will have something they can use.

But as much as I am sad about the events of the weekend, I'm also feeling pretty blessed. Yes, they stole stuff from us, which makes me feel very vulnerable, it was just stuff and can be replaced. Yes, it sucks that my daughter's beloved bike is gone, but she's learned a valuable lesson about putting her bike away at night like we tell her to. And yes, I am really bummed about my chick. But she's not dead yet, and maybe she won't die from this. I've also had some really precious time with her, and I'm thankful for that.  As for being worn out, I realized that I haven't been sick since November, which is really good, considering I don't have a great track record in the winter. So if I am getting something, I'm still thankful it's been so long since I've been sick, and I'm really thankful for my body getting stronger and healthier.

And you know, as much as I am shaking my head and saying UGH to this weekend, I'm really grateful of the fact that this is the worst things have been in a long time. I'm really thankful for all the other wonderful things I have in my life. But good grief, I am ready for some plain old good stuff!

Friday, April 05, 2013

F is for Friends

[caption id="attachment_4350" align="alignleft" width="300"]Me and two of my dearest friends! Me and two of my dearest friends![/caption]

I've been thinking about this a lot lately, how lucky and blessed I am to be able to meet such wonderful people. I have a deep mistrust of people and friendships. A lot of bad things have happened to me, and I've met a lot of bad people. But over the past few years, I've met a lot of wonderful people and I've begun to appreciate the friends in my life.

People often mistake me for either being more friendly than I am, or less friendly than I intend to be. When I am in "more friendly" mode, it's because I'm working hard to push outside of my comfort zone. A natural introvert, I find even smiling at a stranger to be absolutely exhausting. So, when I'm not pushing myself, people misinterpret my lack of smile (which I guess looks like a scowl) to me being unfriendly. The truth is, I'm neither. I'm just not very comfortable around people. It takes a lot of work to be friends with me, so I'm trying really hard to appreciate the wonderful people who've made the effort.

So for my friend post, I want to share a list of things that people have done for me that have made a huge difference in my life. I hope, when you read this list, you'll realize that when you do these things for others, even if you think they're small, they can mean the world to someone else.

  • Notice Characteristics. This is actually a hard one for me. At first, when people would say things mentioning a specific thing about me (like, Danica is a writer), I was really uncomfortable. But I've begun to realize when people are doing this, it's a good thing, and they actually like that about me. I find it very affirming and healing, even though at first it bothered me.

  • Acknowledge. This one might sound kind of weird. I started going to a new church about a year ago, and I am overwhelmed at how the new people I've met have gone out of their way to acknowledge me and say hi. I nearly wept the first time I took communion from our pastor, and he said, "Danica, this is the body of Christ broken for you." Use people's names and care about them personally.

  • Hug. I admit, hugs are tricky for some people. I've spent the better part of my life being in the non-hug group. I'm always afraid of being the first hugger because I don't want to hug someone who doesn't like to be hugged. But now that I've got so many hugger friends, I have to admit that a lot of my hug barriers have gone down, and I feel really blessed by my friends who hug.

  • Check in on a personal level. "How are you" is great, but what has meant the most to me are the people who ask about something specific they know is important in my life, like "How are those chickens?"

  • Do stuff for no particular reason, without expecting anything in return. In the past, I've known a lot of people who had the attitude of "I did this for you, so now you have to..." And there's a part of me that does like to return favors. I hate to owe anyone anything. But there's also something really beautiful about someone doing something for you just because. "I care about you, so I want to do this..." is a really powerful message to give to a person. It doesn't have to be anything huge- it could be as small as helping with a project, or buying a cup of coffee.

Here's the cool thing about the above list. Not only did people doing those things in my life bring me a lot of healing on a personal level, but knowing how they've made a difference in my life have pushed me to reach out and do those things for others. And I hope, that one day, I can be the kind of friend to someone else that my friends have been to me.

What little things have people done for you that have made a huge difference in your life?

Thursday, April 04, 2013

E is for Energy

calgon take me awayAt the point in which you're reading this post, I am beyond exhausted and in desperate need of energy. The MOPS sale is in full swing, and I've already spent the better part of twelve hours on my feet and am looking to do the same today. Before you cry me a river, I should add that some of the amazing women I work with have been on their feet even longer. Of course, I also will have to find time to sneak in a few minutes of my actual work at some point during the day, and maybe even get to see my family. Or at least kiss their sleeping little heads.

So why do it?

I always ask myself this question at some point during the sale, and some years I even think that it will be my last year. I have a supervisor position, which doesn't mean much of anything, so don't be too impressed. It just means I work long hours in exchange for the privilege of shopping early. And, I get some of the headache and responsibility of some of the buck stopping with me (but only in a small way- there are others with way more responsibility than me). It can be a lot.

But really, it goes back to the idea of energy.

There's no doubt that I spend three intense days working harder than I work all the other days of the year combined, plus all the time and hassle (remember puking dog?) getting my stuff ready to sell. But I'm with a group of women who are doing the exact same thing- some more, some less, but there's an energy of all being in it together, and at the end of the sale, realizing that you've had some fun, made some friends, made a little extra money (hopefully enough to cover what you spent at the sale), and supported an organization that uses the money to help other moms.

I like the energy of a group of people working together for a common goal. I like the energy of moments when you and another person are so exhausted that someone says something that makes no sense at all, and yet it makes perfect sense because you're so tired that your brain has found a way to make it work. I like the energy of friends you only see once a year who are still your friends. I like the energy of finding a good deal. I like the energy of clearing some of the junk out of my house that someone else is going to love. I like the energy of knowing that it's only temporary. I like the energy of connecting with people who share my faith but express it in different ways and go to different churches.

I wish I could find that same energy in all of the things I do that exhaust me. I hope, as I'm writing this post ahead of when I truly feel the exhaustion, that I will remember this energy and be able to finish well.

How do you handle challenges to your energy levels? How do you find energy when you're exhausted?

Wednesday, April 03, 2013

D is for Dog

The DogIf you ask my children, my favorite child is The Dog. This is true. It is also true that I often like The Dog better than my husband. Except, perhaps, for the other day when The Dog PUKED IN MY CAR!

Allow me to rewind. We began April Fool's Day at 5 a.m. I am not a morning person and I do not do mornings. The Man had to to be at work at 3 a.m. Sadly, it was not a joke. So, at 5 a.m., The Man's usual time to get up with The Dog, I was awakened by a horrifying sound. The Dog was puking. So, my no poop rule. That also applies to puke and any other bodily fluids. I do not do bodily fluids. If I did not have a husband who supported me in this endeavor, I'd have a nanny. However, this does not help me at 5 a.m. when The Dog is PUKING and The Man is not home. The worst part of The Horror was that The Dog sleeps in my bed.

I jumped out of bed, freaking out that The Dog, my beloved, soon-to-be-toast, is PUKING in my bed. I threw him off the bed. Then I turned on the light. And found my faith in The Dog was restored. You see, he was considerate enough to lean over the side of the bed and puke on the floor. Well, it would have been more considerate if he'd gone and done it in the toilet, but I suppose that's asking a bit much. So, I was quite pleased that The Dog did not actually puke in my bed. And then, he had the great thoughtfulness to clean it up himself. By eating it. Gross, but I was happy to not have to clean puke.

The next day, I was busy getting ready for the annual MOPS used toy and clothing sale. While I graduated out of MOPS, I still volunteer with the sale. It's fun, and I get great bargains on stuff. I also sell a lot of my kids' stuff. The day proved to be quite stressful. Everything that could possibly go wrong, went wrong. I had to run to my FIL's house to get more safety pins (one more thing that went wrong) and decided to be nice to The Dog. He is very jealous of my new Peeps. He thinks he is being replaced. He is correct.

The Dog loves to go on car rides with me, but I don't take him often because I'm usually in and out of the car and I don't want to leave my sweet little cherub alone. So, I took The Dog with me to my FIL's. All was beautiful. The Dog got to play with Grampa, sniff Grampa's yard, pee on Grampa's stuff, and then we headed for home. That is when The HORRIBLE Thing happened, and The Dog PUKED in my car.

I cannot express the absolute horror of the disgusting smell of dog puke in a car on a cold day when you have to have the heater on. Fortunately, The Dog also ate this pile of puke, again saving me from cleaning puke out of my car. However, my car still smelled, and despite using cleaners on the stain, I still have a dog puke stain in my carpet. I almost got out the carpet cleaner, except it was raining, and I have a morbid fear of being electrocuted, which I was sure, with the way my luck was going, would have happened. Mind you, all of this happened at a time when I needed to load my car with my stuff for the sale and get it there at a certain time. I almost cried. Except I kept telling myself how stupid it was to be crying over dog puke when I had so much stuff to do. So I saved it for when I had time to blog. Aren't you lucky, getting to hear about my near breakdown over dog puke.

Wait. My post was supposed to be about how much I love my dog. I love him. Really, I do. And I still like him better than my kids. They don't clean up their own puke. I think I like The Man better. He usually cleans up everyone's puke, so he's got The Dog beat. Anyway, I love my dog. He's awesome. Except when he pukes or does other gross stuff.

(P.S. If I'm not as up on comments or visiting folks as usual, I'll catch up in a couple days or so. I'm pre-posting a lot of stuff because I'll be working at the MOPS sale pretty much the entire time. So not being rude, just being crazy!)


Tuesday, April 02, 2013

C is for Cowgirl

[caption id="attachment_4335" align="alignleft" width="300"]Cowgirl Cowgirl[/caption]


When I talk about my little ones, I use their fun nicknames. This is my daughter, Cowgirl. I think it's obvious why we call her Cowgirl.

We spent the weekend doing typical Cowgirl things. She belongs to an organization called Westernaires, which is a mounted precision drill organization. She rides every weekend- rain, shine, even snow. Even holidays.

Saturday, we got our chickens, got them settled, and then I drove Cowgirl to her ride.

[caption id="attachment_4337" align="alignright" width="300"] Cowgirl's team doing a propeller![/caption]

We do not own horses. Westernaires lets you rent their horses for a pretty reasonable amount of money. Which is good, because Cowgirl loves horses. Actually, she loves all animals, but she especially loves horses.

This is sad, because I hate poop. Horses poop a lot. You have to walk in their poop when you go watch Cowgirl ride. I try to step around most of the poop. But I still go to watch her ride, because she really loves it. You've never seen a kid grin so big as my Cowgirl grins when she's around horses.

[caption id="attachment_4336" align="alignleft" width="300"]Go Cowgirl! Go Cowgirl![/caption]


Sunday was a special day, since it was Easter. Westernaires celebrates Easter in its own special way. They have an Easter parade. Cowgirl was one of the kids on her team selected to ride in the parade. This means she had to be there at 6:30 a.m. to groom

and saddle. Then they rode the horses to the staging area, changed into costumes, and then the parade started at 10:00 a.m. After the parade, they had a church service in the arena. The kids stayed on their horses for the service, so this made Cowgirl happy. Then, they  changed out

[caption id="attachment_4334" align="alignright" width="300"]Easter 2013 service Church even a Cowgirl can love.[/caption]

of their costumes, unsaddled, and we went to a pancake breakfast sponsored by the Lions Club. I guess we should call it lunch, since

we didn't get there until 12:30.

So it was a long day. A long weekend, actually. Filled mostly with Cowgirl's activities, and the rest of us along for the ride. Well, she was the one doing the riding. We just watched.

But that's life with a Cowgirl.

Monday, April 01, 2013

B is for Brain dead

Zombie DanicaI'm on Day Two of the A-Z Blogging challenge and I'm already brain dead. I can't think of a single thing to write about. True, this is Sunday night and I'm cheating by trying to get all of my posts pre-written, but I'm afraid that if I don't, I'm going to forget and not have my posts.

So here's what I'm doing this fine Sunday night on Easter. Hubby is in bed. Cowgirl is in bed. Princess is sitting next to me doing her reading exercises. My Peeps are eating. The dog is upset because Princess is in his spot. With tomorrow being the first of the month, I have a lot of stuff for work that has to be ready for first thing in the morning. Since work is on Eastern time, and I'm on Mountain time, I'm never conscious before the work peeps demand that I have stuff done. My solution- have it all ready the night before. So that's what I just finished doing. Everything for work is set for tomorrow and looks good. So when I wake up in the morning, I won't have a million emails saying, "where's X?" Why? Because it's already done.

Wow. I really have no point to this blog post. I tried, I did. But I'm really tired. I really do look like the zombie me. Maybe I will come up with something more entertaining later.

In the meantime, tell me how you handle being braindead and unable to think of anything creative...


New Babies

We got the good news on Wednesday. The Chicken Law passed!!! We've been working for almost a year now on getting chickens for our backyard, but until Wednesday, it wasn't legal.

So of course, we took the first available opportunity to get CHICKENS!!

I have to admit that I'm still mostly a city girl at heart, and I'm still squeamish about things, especially when it comes to cleaning their vents (in lay terms, this means unclogging their poop holes). I know, GROSS!

But the more I research the value of urban homesteading, keeping chickens, and all that stuff, the more I'm convinced it's an important activity for our family. We're going to have fresh eggs without all the yucky additives, and some really cute pets.

It's an adventure! Or at least that's how I'm goDevice(Chicken cam)ing to choose to look at it, since this adventure involves an awful lot of poop.

(Have I mentioned how much I hate poop?)

But even this poop-hater has to admit that these little babies are awful cute. Our flock includes: Gwendolyn, a Salmon Faverolle; Lacy, a Gold Laced Wyandotte; Nyssa, a Black Australorp; and Matilda, a Speckled Sussex.

Hubby even installed a chicken cam in their pen so we can watch them and not disturb them. He calls it our Peep Show.  We are having a ridiculously fun time sitting around watching our little chicks. It's better than cable! Gwendolyn (my little cutie) is a real pistol and she's so fun to watch!

Do you have chickens? What's been the best part of raising chickens for you? Any advice for newbies like us just starting out?