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Thursday, February 28, 2008

Thursday Thirteen #35: Excited about SPRING

Thirteen Things about SPRING

Okay, I know, it's only February, headed into March. But it's been nearly 60 here for the past few days and I can't help but Think SPRING!!

1. Since we're in a new house, I get to re-plan my landscaping. Start fresh. Anything goes. Ugh. I'm sorta nervous about this. I have a black thumb and have no idea what's going to work. But still... it'll be a grand adventure.
2. We'll get to finally dig a sprinkler system. Really, when I say "we", I mean "he" as in That Man.
3. We'll get to finally pull out those ugly evergreen hedges. Why, oh why, does every house have to have those nasty spider home things? Again, when I say "we", I mean "he".
4. We'll get to start another garden. This time, I really do mean "we". The kiddos love growing tomatoes and snacking on them all summer. Once "he" gets it plotted out, tilled, and whatever else one does to a garden, I'll start planting.
5. We'll finally be able to see the back yard to pick up the dog poop. Here, I say "we", mean that I'll try to make the kiddos and hubby do it, but end up doing it myself because I'm the only one who cares about dog poop in the yard.
6. We'll get to take walks. Or at least think about it. We moved away from the nature preserve, so now I'll have to walk through the neighborhood. Not so much fun, but good exercise.
7. We'll get to walk to DQ and Starbucks again. Both within walking distance of the new house.
8. I'll get to make the kids stay outside more. YAY!! No more running and screaming in the house.
9. I'll get to sit on my nice new patio set I bought specifically for sitting on the front porch, sipping iced tea, and waving at the neighbors.
10. I'll get to say "YES!" next time the kids want to go to the zoo.
11. I finally won't have to live in sweaters.
12. We can get the rest of our stuff out of storage and finish moving in. Yes, I mean "we" as in "he" except that I'll be pointing and bossing him around.
13. Tax season is almost over and I can have a life again.

Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!

The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others' comments. It’s easy, and fun! Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Shocking post time

I know, two posts in less than a few hours. I'm sick, I tell you, sick. Really. I am.

Anyway, I was having a minor pity party for myself because I'm being denied valuable Panera time. Yesterday, I missed because I could not move, I was so sick. Tonight, I missed a writing thing I wanted to go to, but decided I'd keep more friends if I didn't share my germs. Tomorrow, I have to help out at kiddo's school, so I can't go to Panera (although... do you think my germs are lingering, so it would be doing them a disservice to go).

So here I was moping about not being able to write, and I had a realization.
"Self," says me, "why can't you write now?"
"Yeah, now."
I pondered this for a moment and realized that there was no logical reason why I can't write and feel sick at the same time, so I opened up the computer and started working on the revisions for the second book.

And you know what I realized?

It's GOOD.

Really good. Send off to crit group and prepare to submit good. Bang down people's doors and make them read it good.

Once I hit the "send" button on my email, I realized something else. I'm free. For the first time in forever, I no longer have horrible edits and revisions hanging over my head. I get to write something BRAND NEW.

And it's gonna be good!

I almost wish I didn't have to go to bed right now, it's so good.

Linked In or Out?

Since my last post, a lovely little tummy bug decided to grace my life with its presence. I'm finally feeling well enough to lift my head from the pillow, so I thought I'd get caught up. We won't discuss how many emails were in my inbox. One of the emails was from a survey thing I joined years ago. Mostly, I'm so busy that I delete the surveys. However, I decided to answer this latest one, and it was on... all things internet.

As I examined the latest offering in ways to keep up online, I had to wonder about whether or not I'm linked in and whether or not it's a good thing. There's all these ways to connect with folks online, ways to talk local politics, ways to find out what's happening. I admit, I don't use any of it. Truth be told, I know more about the presidential race (which is next to nothing, except that I'm disgusted by all of the candidates) than I know about who my city council reps are. Actually, I don't think I have any, because I'm living in unincorporated territory. But still. I know little about life around me. I had to wonder, am I linked in? Am I so wrapped up in my own little world that I have lost my sense of community?


Most of my closest friends are hundreds, even thousands of miles away. I wave to my neighbors. I'll occasionally say hi to the folks at church. And *gasp* I'll even attend a gathering I'm invited to now and then.

I don't watch the news. I don't read the papers. I know about as much about current events as the guy at the water cooler at work. Frankly, I don't really want to know more. Which is sad, because I used to be the nerd desperate to get cable so I could have CNN. Now, I figure, if it's important enough, someone will let me know.

So will one of these new and better ways to get me linked in to my community change my attitude? Will it change my behavior?

Probably not.

Sure, I think I should probably be a little more involved in the world around me. But I'm not sure more technology is going to do that. The truth is, I don't believe any of that makes a difference. Getting a news feed on the latest pregnant starlet does nothing for my quality of life. Ditto for hearing the latest slam on the presidential candidate of the day.

So what will make a difference? Things like going around the big bush separating "us" from "them" and ringing the neighbor's doorbell to say "hi" might. Attending my kiddo's PTA meeting to find out why, exactly, do they have our kids pimping out "stuff" to raise money for the school every other month and then committing to change whatever that is might.

But being more linked in? That, I'm not so sure about.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Hey Look, it's a....

Darn, couldn't think of anything clever to take your attention away from the fact that I am getting worse at the regular blogging thing.

It's been a rough week. I keep saying that, and yet, I can't come up with any answers as to why. I just feel pounded on all sides by all things. I'm tired. I did, however, take a totally rad (tee hee, I said rad... where's carmel to tee hee at my carmelisms?) picture of the terrorist. Unfortunately, said child absconded with the camera and now all I have is the blog version of a shaggy dog joke. Guess you had to have been there. :)

Other than that, my life is boring. I have no words of wisdom for anyone (except maybe don't leave camera where children can find it). I have no sad but true stories of things that have happened to me lately. No funny stories. Nothing remotely, slightly, or majorly embarrassing. I am becoming, I fear, ordinary.

In three weeks, I'll be going on a silent retreat. Maybe somewhere in the silence of the mountains, I can find my sanity. Or not. Maybe I wasn't sane before and am now. Ugh. Isn't that just the most depressing thing I've ever said?

So tonight, as I prepare to lay my weary head on the pillow, I beg of you... share something good. Please!

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Those pesky kids!

The past week was crazy. Kiddos off school, work, life, blah blah blah.

Because the kiddos were off school, I watched an inordinate amount of Scooby Doo. Almost every episode ends with the criminal exclaiming, "and I would've gotten away with it if it wasn't for those pesky kids." Or some version thereof.

I can relate to the criminals... I kept saying that over and over while the kiddos were off school. I'd start working on a project, and wham! "Mom, she bit me!" "Mom, she said I was ugly." "Mom, she won't help me clean." "Mom, I need some milk." "Mom, I'm hungry."

Needless to say, I've gotten little done over the past few days.

Recently, on the ACFW loop, people were discussing the idea of being a SAHM and trying to get writing done. A lot of folks talked about what they do to facilitate writing and kids.

I've shared a lot with you all about my Panera time, Starbucks visits, and my beloved Denny's. That's how I get my writing done. With the kiddos off school, I didn't get my two Panera days and I'm hurting for it. I didn't get the writing done I needed, and it's been driving me crazy. Those pesky kids!

I finally resorted to bribery. If they let me have my writing time, I'd bake cookies with them. It sort of worked. We baked cookies, but I didn't get as much writing done as I would have liked. But that's okay.

The reality of being a writing mom who also works the tax season is that I don't always get to write as much as I'd like. However, I'm learning to balance the realities of parenting with the realities of being me. It's important to set boundaries with my kids to let them know writing is important to me. I want them to know that dreams are important and require hard work. Just because I'm "mom" doesn't mean I don't have dreams. More importantly, as I model the behavior of what it takes to achieve dreams. How else will my kids learn that the things they want to do with their lives aren't going to just land in their laps? But I also want them to know that they are important to me. I've always got time for a cuddle, and some of my best stuff is written with a kiddo on my lap.

So what about you? How do you balance the demands of parenting and working towards your goals?

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Thursday Thirteen #34: Valentine's Chocolate Edition

Thirteen Things about Valentine's Day Chocolate

It's a VDay Standard... but do you know what's good?

1. Tim Tams. Technically only available in Australia (but really, how romantic would THAT be to have a guy go all the way there to get you chocolate), however, my good friend found them for sale at Cost Plus World Market under the name Arnott's biscuits.
2. Dagoba Organic Chocolate. YUM!! Not only is it good for the earth, but good for you, too! The lavender is my favorite.
3. Chocolate dipped fruit. Doubly good for you.
4. Godiva. Need I say more?
5. Chocolate Fondue.
6. Chocolate body paint. For the adventurous. Personally, I'd go with real melted chocolate, because the stuff you buy for the body tastes a little like plastic.
7. Hot chocolate. Made the real way, on the stove, with milk. None of that powder stuff, tyvm. Topped with whipped cream.
8. M&Ms... while not pure chocolate, I have a weakness for the peanut ones.
9. Chocolate covered pretzels. I love the chocolate/sweet/salty combo.
10. Ghirardelli. Again, I don't really need to say much more, except I'll be in San Fransisco in July, and you can bet that'll be one of my stops.
11. Chocolate covered espresso beans. There's a great place in SD that makes 'em.
12. Chocolate dipped biscotti. Goes great with tea.
13. Really, any good quality dark chocolate will do.

Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!

The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others' comments. It’s easy, and fun! Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

The Little Things

We've all heard the phrase "it's the little things that count." Today seemed to be one of those days that really pointed out the value in that statement.

On my way to Words for the Journey, a writing group I belong to, I called That Man to see where he was working. Usually, I go out to lunch with the folks afterward so we can chat, but I had to go into work to call the IRS on behalf of one of my clients, and today was the only day I could fit it in. I figured if That Man was working anywhere on my way to work, I'd stop and have lunch with him. As luck would have it, timing was perfect for us to meet on my way to work and his way to another jobsite. The cool thing was hearing the happiness in his voice when I proposed the idea. You wouldn't think having lunch with your spouse was a big deal, and yet, it meant the world to him.

I've been thinking about it off and on all day, not so much the fact that I'm a wonderful wife for taking time out of my busy day to have lunch with my husband. But the fact that oftentimes, we can make such a difference in a person's life with little things, and yet we put it off because we think it's too small to matter. We're waiting for the opportunity to do a big thing.

There's a lot of things I'm procrastinating on right now. People I want to see, talk to, write to, whatever... and I keep thinking, well, I don't have time to do it properly. So I'll just wait until I do. I didn't have time to have a proper lunch with That Man, just a quick bite, kiss kiss, and away we went. But he was so thankful that I'd taken even that small amount of time, rather than us each going our separate ways through a convenient drive through, finding a moment to be together.

I think about those moments with my kids. How often we're too busy to do this or that, and we think we're saving up time to do the big thing that'll impact them forever. And you know, I don't think those moments really matter to them. I certainly don't remember those big things from my parents. I'm sure they did them. I'm sure they spent countless hours planning and more money than they probably could have afforded. But what I remember is sitting on the back porch with my dad, drinking coffee and chatting about life. Playing cards in the kitchen with my grandma. Tasting the sauce to make sure it was "just right." Mundane things. Moments they chose to invest in my life to show that I mattered to them.

What are the moments passing you by? Is there a little thing you could do in someone else's life right now? Maybe it seems small to you, but maybe it means the world to them. It's something I'll definitely be focusing more on in the future.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

A day off

My first in three weeks. I am so happy. I slept in, cleaned house, and that's about it.

I've been thinking a lot about the idea of Sabbath, maybe because I haven't had the choice of one in a long time, and I've realized that there's a good reason for it. I am, by nature, an introvert. Now, those of you who know me in cyber-space or see me at the occasional writer's group meetings or conferences might argue that fact. There's a girl in my small group who insists I can't possibly be an introvert. Trust me. I am.

Today, That Man wanted to go to some home improvement place to buy shelving stuff to build some shelves for the playroom. I'm envisioning this really cool Pottery Barn Kids thing I saw with a little seat. I did not want to go. I wanted to stay inside my beautiful, almost clean house and not have to deal with another living human being. So there I am, looking at shelving things that look nothing like the Pottery Barn picture because they're all in pieces, and I just wanted to sit on the floor, put my hands over my ears and cry like a baby. I conned my kiddos into being mostly quiet by playing "the quiet game" and staying silent until I said they could talk again to win a prize. We finally went home, and I sent them off to buy drinks for tonight, and I just sat there, on the couch, enjoying being completely alone.

I wonder what it would be like, to have a day, just like God did, where you could sit and do absolutely nothing. Not have to go chasing off to home improvement whatnots, pick up girl scout cookies (did that today too), make sure the bills get paid, scrub the toilets, figure out when we're going to buy valentines and make the silly little valentine box for school, and oh, yeah, since my Lent thing has been narrowed down to spending time in Scripture, get right on that one. The truth is, even if I had a real day off, I don't think I'd know what to do with myself. I've filled my life with so much busy-ness that as much as I crave calm, I go a little nuts when faced with the prospect. I have too much to do in too little time.

Today, my wonderful Man surprised me. As part of our church's Lenten experience, we're doing a silent retreat. Forty hours of not speaking. Of not having to worry about the laundry, what's for dinner, whether or not the kiddo wiped her butt, where the best price on lumber is, and how I'm going to get it all together to make sure every little thing is done just right. I asked him earlier in the week if I could go, and he did his usual "maybe" thing. Tonight, he said yes. I'm part excited, part freaked out. But mostly, craving that time for just me and God.

I don't know what your schedule looks like. For a lot of you, it's either as crazy as or even more crazy than mine. I hope you'll find a way to step back, take a deep breath, and give yourself a break. We all need one.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Lenten thoughts

Yesterday, I posted a TT on Lent. Mostly because it was timely, but also because it's on my mind a lot. Our church is doing something called Project Forty in celebration of the Lenten season. I admit, I worked the night they launched it. In case you've been on the moon the past few weeks, this is the peak of tax season for me. I haven't had a day off in almost three weeks, and I've been pulling 40+ hour weeks. And that's just at the tax job. Some part time job, eh? Ah well, it's only a few weeks a year.

Anyway... I'm digressing. I do that a lot. Particularly when sleep deprived.

I've been in this frame of mind for a while now, beginning with the New Year. Everyone makes resolutions that statistics show end up being broken within a matter of weeks. I decided I didn't want to make any resolutions, but I did want to grow. I just didn't know what that meant for me.

Then, I saw a program on TV about the end of the world. Not that I believe in all these theories or anything, but I found myself asking, "what if?" What if the world did end when all these prophecies say it will? 12/21/12 (the latest doomsday) isn't all that far away. If the world ended on that day, am I okay with how I've lived my life? Can I face that end with confidence?

Now, I'm not talking about salvation here. I'm talking about my own integrity as a human being and follower of Christ. Have I lived my life in such a way that I can stand in front of God knowing that I made the most of the life I was given? Do I have regrets? Are they things I can do differently now?

So there I was, at Lent, and I started researching Lent to have something clever to post on TT other than how exhausted I am. What struck me the most was reading about Ash Wednesday, and how the ashes represent the sin and fallen condition of man. In Biblical times, people covered themselves in ashes when they fell into a deep state of sorrow for their transgressions. I did not attend a service or have ashes placed on my forehead. And yet, I feel the deep sorrow of knowing my sins. And hungrily desiring to be better.

Like with New Year's, I'm not focusing my Lenten season on some grand "giving up" or "adding a discipline." If that's your thing, that's great. But to me, there's something empty about having a little list to check off. I'm hungering for deep, spiritual fulfillment. I don't want to spend forty days doing something just to do it. I want to come through this season changed for the better. More importantly, I don't want it to end with the celebration of Our Savior's resurrection. I want to continually grow in who I am in Christ. I want to live my life mindful of the fact that not one of us knows the day or hour, and that when my hour comes, I want to be able to stand in front of the Lord unashamed.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Thursday Thirteen #33: Lent

Thirteen Things about Lent

Since today (yesterday now) is the start of the Lenten season, I thought I'd share some things about Lent.

1. For most Christians, it the a season of 40 days of fasting and prayer before Easter.
2. In most western Christian traditions, Sundays don't count towards the 40 days because they celebrate the resurrection of Christ.
3. Lent begins with Ash Wednesday, a day of reflection on what we need to do to change and grow as Christians.
4. Ash Wednesday got its name from the tradition of placing ashes on people's foreheads as a sign of mourning for sin.
5. Forty is an important symbolic number in the Bible: it often symbolizes discipline and preparation.
6. Many people will either give up something in observance of Lent or take on a new spiritual discipline.
7. Three important elements of celebrating Lent are prayer, fasting, and almsgiving, showing justice to God, ourselves, and others.
8. Roman Catholics see Lent as an important part of their tradition, while most Protestants see it as a choice.
9. Sundays are feast days, so there is no fasting on Sundays.
10. Palm Sunday is the last Sunday before Easter, celebrating Jesus' triumphal entry into Jerusalem, the beginning of Holy Week.
11. The Thursday before Easter is known as Maundy Thursday, which is when Jesus and his disciples celebrated the last supper.
12. Some Christians will celebrate with a Seder meal, honoring the Passover, which is what Jesus and his disciples were celebrating with the last supper.
13. Good Friday is the next day, commemorating the crucifixion and burial of Jesus.

Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!

The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others' comments. It’s easy, and fun! Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!