5 Ways I am Preparing for NaNoWriMo

I am super excited for National Novel Writing Month, starting in less than a week.  I have never tried anything like this before, and I am hoping for, nay, demanding my success.  I know not everyone finishes, and most people end up with work that will require major editing, but I am still remaining hopeful as I prepare.

There are a lot of articles out there right now, teaching people how to prepare for NaNoWriMo.  They talk about time management, outlining, story planning, all sorts of funny little details.  Some of these I am listening to, but not all of them.  After all, they won’t all work for everyone. Here are five things I am doing to prepare.

1. Have a plan.

I am getting ready for this, and I am trying to do this properly.  I know the story I am going to write.  I have an outline, with some scene details where I have them ready.  I am not going in blind, I am planning to follow a map.

2. Schedule writing time.

Life can get busy.  If the writing time is not respected everyday, the words will not be written.   They always tell you if you are trying to workout, write it in your schedule like an appointment.  Just like anything else, you promise to be there, and you show up.  My writing will be the same way; I am making an appointment for my writing time, and I intend to keep it.

3. Clean up.

To get all of my writing done this month, I will need to be focused.  So, the next week will need to be spent cleaning out the other projects on my list.  Beta reading, homework; anything I can get ahead on I need to do, so that I can have the time I need later.

4. Anticipate issues.

You can’t necessarily fix everything, in either the story or your life.  I can however look at my life in the next few weeks and see what will make things easier.  I know when my kids will be out of school, and when I have appointments.  Those times will not be a free pass to goof off and not get my writing done.  Instead, I can look at those moments and plan around them, not letting myself waste anytime.

5. Write!

No matter what I do, the only thing that will get me through NaNoWriMo will be sitting down and writing.  I can plan everything, anticipate everything, but if I do not actually do the writing, it is all for nothing.  By this time next week, I plan to be neck deep in a story, bringing it out, and hopefully making it mean something.

Advertisements

5 Banned Books to Read

I had a pin on my purse for a time, that read “I read banned books.”  One day, while driving in the car my twelve year old daughter asked me what it meant.

Now, Big One is generally a smart kid.  She gets good grades, reads almost nonstop, and is planning on going to Oxford one day.  The pin seemed straight forward enough, with very basic words.  I wasn’t sure what was confusing her, since I know she is smart.  The fact that she was asking genuinely confused me because I had no idea what could be tripping her up.

First thing I did was make sure she knew what banned meant.  She knew of course; she understood what every word in the pin meant, but she couldn’t figure it out.  The idea that a book could be banned was so far out of her range of thought she could’t understand.  Why would anyone ban a book?  How could someone do that?

We had a long talk about it, but I loved that my daughter found books so essential to life that she could not comprehend a book being taken away from her.

I LOVE banned books.  I hate that people feel the need to ban them, but I love reading them.  It is a little nerdy rebellion anyone can do.  I know I am a little behind, as Banned Book Week was technically last week, but here are five books I think are worth breaking the ban and reading.  Enjoy your little rebellion, and break some rules, the smart way.

(Small note, I have only included banned books I have actually read on this list.  There are many more to read and some of them might be even better than the ones I list here.  Take a chance and enjoy every rebellious moment.)

1.The Scarlet Letter  by Nathaniel Hawthorne

I originally read this book in high school as part of an assignment.  I found this to be oddly empowering; a woman in 1850 having a child on her own and taking all of the criticism.  There was no blame placed on the father, in spite of the biological need for two people to create a child.  It was horrible, the skewed way she was treated, so differently from how the men were treated.  As a high school student, growing up surrounded by that same double standard, it effected me.  I saw how she was treated and I hated it.  Apparently, when it was banned, there was feelings that they handled the situation poorly.  They should have been more remorseful, Hester Prynne should have been treated worse, and at one point it was considered to be pornographic.  Whatever the bad, I have fond memories of this book.

2. Where The Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak

Come on, who doesn’t love this book?  It is fun and crazy and honest to the emotional feelings of a small child.  It is hard to figure out how to deal with your emotions at times when you are an adult, let alone when you are still growing and developing.  Unfortunately, that was part of the problem.  Some thought this book was a little too dark for children and disliked the honesty of a child being that angry at their parents.

3. His Dark Materials Trilogy by Phillip Pullman

This makes the list mostly because I am currently reading it, and was not aware it was a banned book.  I am only halfway through and have been enjoying it.  There is a mix of religion, science, and witchcraft all in the middle of dimension jumping and war.  It is engaging and in some ways completely believable.  Religion has been at the center of many wars, and there is no reason not to believe it would not be at the center of at least a few fictional wars.  And sorry to the very religious people in this world, but lets be honest, the religious groups are not always on the right side of the war.  However, the work was seen as an attack on religion, and was confirmed as at least partially true by the author.

4.Where’s Waldo by Martin Hanford

Where’s Waldo was a book I deeply wanted when I was a child.  I’m not sure why, but these were considered the absolute height of coolness in my Elementary school.  If you had one of these books, you were amazing.  There was just so much stuff to find, not only Waldo, but other things as well.  Apparently these other things were the problem.

5. The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

While not banned in the completely traditional way this boot makes the list for a couple of reasons.  First, I did like the book and the movie is currently sitting on my shelf waiting for me to have some time to watch it.  Secondly, this book was recently banned, just within the last week.  It has not been banned on a national level, just within a school district and only for the middle schools in that area as far as I know.  The worst part of this banning?  I can sort of agree.  I am not for censorship in general, but I have a middle school child.  Big One is in seventh grade, and is interested in several books which I have refused to let her read due to a sexual element.  She is smart, and she could probably handle it, but she is still a little young to be thinking about those topics.  Maybe it is because in my Mom brain she will never think of things like that.  In a couple of years, yes, I will let her read it.  I am not banning it forever, but just for now, in the same way the school district is banning the book.  This is not a banned book per say, simply a book that is being saved for those who are within the proper age range.

FIve Things About Summer

One week into summer, and it is already easy to feel overwhelmed.  To think that once upon a time I thought of this time as relaxing.  I’m not sure what I was ever thinking!

Well, alright, I know what I was thinking.  I was thinking I had no responsibilities, and having the summer off meant hanging out with my friends, lounging in my pajamas all day, and only doing what I wanted to do.  If my summers were still like that, I might be much more relaxed.

1) Summer is in, my school is not out.

The children are out of school, but I am not.  I received one week when there was a lapse between the class I had finished and the next one I needed to start, but I am back in with no breaks until Christmas.  That is both the joy and the torture of the continuous program; I don’t need to take multiple classes at once, but I am always in school.  Luckily my children are used to this, having watched Mama go to school for a few years now, and they are understanding of my need to complete homework.

2) A child’s lazy day and an adult lazy day are not the same.

If I were to have a lazy day, I would wake up early.  It wouldn’t be on purpose, but mostly out of habit.  I would drink my coffee slowly as I read a book or as I wrote on my own book.  Eventually I would get dressed, and maybe take the dog for a walk or go for a jog of my own.  I might spend a little time in front of my sewing machine, with a movie playing in the background.  I wouldn’t have a schedule, or anything I needed to worry about, I would just do whatever sounded like a good idea at the time.

When my kids have a lazy day, they want to stay in their pajamas.  Meals should consist of popcorn or ice cream, with maybe a pizza thrown in for their version of a healthy meal.  They would pull out art supplies or toys, and not clean anything up.  They would later go to bed, without showers and without cleaning anything in the house.

My lazy day is about having no schedule; their lazy day is about having no cleaning or healthy food.

3) Vacations are not relaxing for the one who is planning them.

In one week my family and I leave on a three day vacation to Edinburgh.  Everyone else gets to be excited as they ask me, “So what are we doing when we get there?”  I was looking forward to this much more before it became reality.   Now I am just tired from a vacation that hasn’t even started.

4) Houses stay less clean when there are more people in them.

When my children were in school everyday, there was forty hours a week where it was just me and the dog.  Most of the house wasn’t even used during that time, just my work area, the kitchen and occasionally the living room.  Now, everyone is running through every room in the house.

I may not have a clean floor again until August.

5) I miss warm weather.

I lived in Okinawa Japan for eight years, a wonderfully hot and humid tropical island where you were never truly that far from a beach.  While it is nice to have more relaxed weather, and I am thrilled to have the rain in my garden, I am ready for some summer heat.  I want to be warm enough that I want to stand in front of a fan and never leave.  I have always preferred to be hot rather than cold.  It’s just my way.

 

Well, that is all for today, but please come back tomorrow when I join the blog tour, My Writing Process.  I haven’t had a lot of opportunity to interact with other bloggers yet, but I am hoping to move forward to a new period.  I’d like to get to know others better and branch out more.  What better way to get to know people than by being willing to share who I am with you?

A Very Special Five Things

Today is a day to celebrate.   We have just entered summer, and I am posting my 100th post since I began blogging.  I have to be honest, I haven’t grown numbers as fast as I wanted to but I hope I am growing quality.  I’d like to think I am beginning to find a bit of a rhythm to my postings, and writing better pieces than when I first started.

It seemed like today’s posting should be something special.  Falling on a Sunday, meant it would be a five things posting, and of course it would have to be unique or personal.  The thought ran through my head of doing 100 things, one for each posting.  When I was done laughing, I decided I needed something I could actually do without feeling like I was going insane.  Finally I honed in on one theme I could use.  Fear.

Fear is something that seems to be at the heart of us all.  Everyone is afraid of something.  When I am reading or writing, I tend to look at that fear and see it in the actions the characters make.  The characters who feel real factor their fears into their actions, even if it is not always obvious.  They jump on horrible relationships because they don’t want to be alone, or avoid relationships because they have been hurt.   They run because they are afraid of what is chasing them, or hide because they are afraid of being found.  They smile because they are afraid to cry.

Our fears move us through life.  Sometimes they stop us, and other times we keep moving and pushing through.  They are personal because they have power over us.  What better way to make a post having meaning, than to open up and share my fears?

 

1) Birds

When I was twelve years old, I saw Alfred Hitchcock’s movie, The Birds.  Within a few weeks, an angry bird flew at me, swiping through my hair and just missing my head.  I knew then that birds are evil.  You might think I am a little crazy with this one, but it is a fact that birds are mean.  Ducks bite, geese chase people down, and we do not even want to get into the cruelty brought on by feelings of inadequacy in large flightless birds such as ostriches. They stare at you with their beady little eyes, plotting to kill you with their shockingly sharp beaks and claws.

This is a fear I think I deal with well.  In spite of my knowledge that birds do in fact get angry and attack, I try not to let this fear be passed down to my children.  We do the bird feedings, and we even enjoyed a park in Okinawa where you stand next to 4 1/2 foot tall birds who chase you down hoping you have bird food.  I survived, but I know the truth.  Birds are evil.

2)Public Speaking

I know this is weak.  Almost everyone is afraid to speak in public.  It doesn’t change the fact that it is hard for me.  I stand in front of people, my heart pounding so loud I can hear it as it vibrates my ears.  My mind goes blank, and I completely forget everything I was going to say.  I always carefully go over my speech, rehearsing it over and over again, but it never matters.  The entire thing goes right out the window as soon as I have to stand in front of a crowd.

3) Standing Still

I don’t have an actual fear of standing still.  In truth, I can be quite lazy on occasion, almost completely motionless until I am forced into movement.  I’m not afraid of physically standing still, I am afraid of metaphorically standing still.  I am afraid of never changing, never growing, never becoming more than I am right now.  It’s not that who I am isn’t fine, it’s that I want to do more.  I want to be more.  I want to keep moving, and not solidify.  I fear missing my opportunities, and staying exactly as I am, with no new chances, for the rest of my life.  I like where I am, but another 50 or 60 years of this would get old.  I have so much time to fill, and I don’t want it to all be the same.

4) Failure

Again this is something everyone almost everyone shares.  It is easier to not take a chance than to risk the humiliation of failure.  As it is, I work on my writing, and I dream of publication, sharing this dream with a group of strangers, but I barely speak about it to people I see in real life.  I  know that there is a chance of failure, even if there is a part of me that believes I can do this.  The odds are against me, and I know it.  It is bad enough to fail, but I can’t tell everyone I am trying and have them know I failed.

There is a strange intimacy in the anonymity of the internet however.  I can tell you all about my hopes and dreams because I might never have to look you in the face.  I may never have to see the look in your eyes as you pity me for my hopeless, failed dreams.  It lets me share in a way that is essential, and for that, I must thank you.

5) Smallness

Again, not literal smallness.  I like puppies, babies, and those tiny espresso cups.  I fear never growing into anything more than I am now.  I always wanted to be someone important, and I know there are people who see me that way.  I have children, a husband, and a dog, who all look to me as a part of their lives.  I live a normal life, and there is not necessarily anything small about that.  The world needs normal people as much as anyone else.  But I am building my own life, and I want to be able to look out at the life I have built and know that I have made it large, engaging, and interesting.  I want to know that I have done everything I possibly could with my life.

 

Alright, there is my personal moment.  I’m hoping a few of you will take the plunge and share something personal with me as well.  Tell me, what are you afraid of?

Five Things About Reading

I have been on a little bit of a non-reading mode for about a week. It is not something that happens to me often, but occasionally I just cannot find a book that I am into enough to want to keep reading. It is incredibly hard when this happens, as reading has been so much a part of my life since first grade. I almost don’t know what to do when I do not have a good book to read.

1) Even in a non-reading mode, I still finished two books.

When I say I am not reading, it generally means one of two things. Either I am not reading for pleasure, typically because I am reading a lot for school, or I just don’t have a book I am really excited about. More often than not I am reading something that I do not want to put down. It doesn’t have to be a best-seller; I can get just as excited about a poorly written cookie cutter romance. As long as I want to know what happens or how it will happen, I will keep reading.

For this hiatus, I read two midgrade books from the library. It wasn’t something I chose for pleasure, but chosen for research into what makes a midgrade novel work. It is a writing age I feel has great potential for many reasons, and one I may want to spend some time writing for. Reading novels from there give me a little more insight into the possibilities. They were good enough, but it was definitely research, not pleasure reading.

2) I never cry when reading, and have never had a ‘book boyfriend.’

I’m not sure why I don’t cry over books. I cry over enough other things in life, maybe I just don’t have any tears left. My emotional involvement with books is typically limited to getting angry when the book gets it wrong. I like to think I am understanding of creative differences, and the potential for making different choices, but sometimes it’s hard not to HATE what the author chose to do.

As far as having a special fictional character be someone I claim as my own? I’m not sure why I don’t do that. I guess I fall in love with the way the characters are together, whether they are in a relationship or just working together. Inserting myself in there changes the characters and how they interact. I can’t have a book boyfriend because they wouldn’t be the same person with me as they are on their own.

3) I occasionally crave books, much like other people crave food.

Every now and again I have a deep craving for a rice krispy treat. It’s not for any one thing, such as the marshmallow, or the cereal, or the sweetness. It’s for the entire sensory experience. I want the stickiness, the crunch, the flavor, all combined together in just that one special way.

Books are the same for me. It might be a strong desire to read a specific book I have read many times in the past, it might be a desire for something new, or something from a specific genre. Whatever the craving, I want the book that fills that need. I read it obsessively until I have no more pages to turn. I look for another book that might be similar. Sometimes I just go back to page one. I do everything I can to get that book feeling, until I finally feel at peace.

4) There are stories from my childhood that I remember, but cannot remember what the book was called.

There is a book, I want to say I read it in fourth grade, about a group of girls who play baseball together. One of the girls is new, and drives a wedge in between the friends, leaving one of them out in the cold. I remember at one point she gets half of the team to tie dye their jerseys, and there was probably a few other things. I remember these little details so well, but I cannot for the life of me remember the title of the book. I want to remember; there are so many details I have forgotten that I would love to learn again.

It’s not just one book, sometimes it is details I can remember without a full context of a story. I know I once read about a girl who had really long hair. As long as she didn’t tell a lie, her parents wouldn’t make her cut it. One day, bullying got out of hand, and someone cut a large chunk from the back of her hair. She lied to her parents about knowing who did it because she already had to cut her hair now.

Some book out there had a new girl getting all of the others to listen to her because she had a four color pen and had created an exclusive club where the girls ate lunch together.

I really want to know what these books are. Maybe I am remember parts of books that went together, and I just forgot. There are so many books that influenced who I became. It wasn’t because of the special message of the book; it was because they kept me reading. I wish I could remember because I would like to see them again. Remembering is a way of thanking them.

5) I deeply miss the used bookstore I went to as a child.

The other large factor in my life with books was the used bookstore my mother used to take me to. We never had much money when I was younger. Reading for us was a combination of library books and used books. My mother used to work on weekends at the store, just for a few hours here and there, to earn our book money. Some of the time I would go with her. I would clean the books, and place stickers on for pricing. Whenever I could, I would spend my ‘working’ time in the nook of juvenile books. That section would probably be split into midgrade and young adult now, but I really didn’t care what it was called. I could browse the books for hours under the guise of organizing. It was probably the most satisfying job I have ever had in my life, including the fact that it paid in used books.

I can’t be the only person out there with a strong memory tied to my books? What is the strongest reading memory you have?

Five Random Thoughts on a Sunday Morning

Normally when I count off a five things posting, I try to stay on a theme of some sort.  Lately my life has been random enough it seems to be becoming a theme of it’s own.  My head seems to be swimming around too many things lately, it’s hard to make sense of any of it.

 

1) My husband comes home this week.

After six weeks apart, the light at the end of the tunnel is here.  As it always does, time has flown by, and by the end of the week our family will be complete again.  As happy as my daughters and I are, I think the biggest reaction will actually end up coming from the dog.  She went through a depression the first couple of weeks he was gone, and has gone nuts looking for him every time she hears his voice on the computer.  I’m not sure anything I do will be able to compete with the excitement she will show when she sees him again.

The only bad side of my husband coming home is my lack of anniversary gift for him.  Last week we hit our 13th wedding anniversary.  Since he has been gone, I haven’t been too worried about getting anything together for him.  Now that he is coming home, it is a mad dash to get things finished.

2) Being sick sucks.

I know, this should be obvious, but sometimes it still needs to be said.  After a few weeks of misery, I was finally able to be diagnosed with a lovely stomach infection I am certain no one really wants to hear about.  Unfortunately, the medicine I need has to be shipped from the states, leaving me miserable for a few more weeks (hopefully less than that) and getting to start an exceptionally restrictive diet in order to keep things from getting worse.  I know I have been really sick before, and possible more uncomfortable, but I have to say that this time is the worst.  Why?  Because it is in the present.  This is the sick I am currently dealing with, and as always, that makes it the worst one ever.

3) I’m beginning to wonder if I will ever finish all of the stories I have going.

This is one I feel like I shouldn’t complain about.  When I started the year, I had a goal to finish the three open novels I already had.  I wasn’t necessarily planning on having them be perfect and ready to publish, though I wouldn’t mind that.  Mostly I was looking for good drafts.  Since then I have outlined 7 more stories, and written basic synopsis of 5 others.  That gives me a total of 15 unfinished stories. Even counting the fact that some of them may turn out to be horrible ideas that go no where, it’s hard to complain about having too many ideas when I know there are people out there who would love to have more story thoughts.

As I am a slow writer (something I have mentioned before) I am working to find ways to be more efficient.  I am writing more chapter outlines than I ever have before, which seems to be helping me keep track of where I am going.  I’m also working on revising my daily writing goals.  I used to write based on time; if I knew I would have three hours available, I would write for three hours.  It never seemed to matter how much I got done, and sometimes those three hours would be squandered away on other things such as checking laundry and refilling my tea.  Last week I tried making a goal of 2000 words for Friday.  During the hour I had available that afternoon I only hit 1100.  Having a word goal brought me back later, and after my children went to bed, I sat down and pounded out another 1100 words, putting me over my daily goal.  Maybe I happen to be the kind of writer who needs a numerical goal like that to succeed; it is definitely worth exploring more.

4) Gardening was much easier last year.

Last winter I was cold and miserable in the snow.  This year, I was relieved that we didn’t have as much cold weather as the year before.  Unfortunately, that also meant the garden was ripe for overgrowing with weeds.  Combining that with the difference of being in school now versus out last year and I can’t seem to find much time to get everything together.  I’ve been pushing through, mostly due to my deep love of fresh vegetables.  After four hours yesterday I was proud to have 6 zucchini and 6  yellow squash plants added to my garden  as well as weed treatments on my zucchini patch, my corn patch, and my daughters sunflower patch.  Now, I just have to wait until the yummy starts coming.  With all the trouble it has been this year, they better be amazing vegetables.

5) I’m really happy I found Tone it Up.

When someone mentioned Tone it Up to me a couple months ago, I figured it would be yet another program I started and never really finished.  However, having 10-20 minute toning exercises show up on my phone everyday has been easy to fit in.  Even being sick, most of their stuff is things I can do, though occasionally I have to modify.  I’m really enjoying the program, and I am hoping that when I am better, I can keep going even stronger.  It is amazing what finding the right health program for you can do to your motivation.

Just as a small reminder, I am not paid by Tone it Up.  I simply found a program I like, and am choosing to share the name with you.  If anyone decides to join up with them, you can put my name, Shannon Bradford, as a reference, but it won’t do anything for me that I know of.  Not everything is for everyone, this thing just happens to be what makes me happy right now.

Five Things About Writing New Stories

I love creating fiction, at least as much as I love reading fiction.

Sometimes I feel as though I have a thousand ideas, many of them feeling fully formed and perfect, while others are little more than a vague notion I still need to think about.  I love almost everything about the creation of a story, from idea to finished manuscript, but it is definitely a process.  Creating a story is much like having a child.

1)Birth

When the idea first comes to you, you are so excited and proud.  You instantly know this will be the best thing you ever did.  It is brilliant, and you are clearly the most creative person on the planet.  There are so many things to do to get ready, and bring this idea into a fully functioning story.  In spite of the morning sickness, the nerves, and the fears, you know this will be fantastic.

2)Growth

You are making your plans, and adding a little to your story every day.  Sometimes it is a chapter or two of writing, other days it is a few notes on the outline.  It is, at times, hard to know how your baby is doing, and you need to give it a check up to make sure it is growing healthy and strong.  Of course there are days when you know you could keep this as your baby forever, and other days you wish it had grown up already.  In spite of it all, you are amazed at how much your one little idea has changed.

3)Potty Training

Just as with a child or a small animal, sometimes the poo ends up in the wrong place.  There will be days of messes all over the pages of your precious manuscript.  Other days will be filled with long hours of focused energy, trying to keep your pages clean as you flush the waste away.  It can be a difficult process for some stories, making you jealous of the stories that seemed to be clean over night.  In the end, it doesn’t matter how long it takes, as long as you end up clean.

4)The Teenage Years

Considering your story is only made of your own words, it should be difficult for it to talk back to you.  But somehow, it does.  The characters can be unlikeable, the plot full of holes, and have the whole idea suddenly stinks.  You’re not sure how this happened, as the story you were raising used to be such a polite, clever, and delightful child.  Now suddenly you are certain it has been doing drugs in the basement because that is the only explanation for how it is turning out.   Before long, you don’t know what to do with it anymore.  You still love it, but you’re not sure you like it much and you know you cannot continue to live with it this way.  You cry, you fight, you threaten to send it to a severe editing session and cut it down to size.  No matter what you do, nothing feels like it will ever get better.

5)Moving Out

Eventually your story outgrows its awkward, rebellious stage.  The wonderful idea you once had has returned, a fully complete manuscript, ready to enter your personal publishing process.  Maybe it has a contract to a major publishing house, maybe it is still looking for an agent.  Maybe your story has decided to strike out on its own for the world of self-publishing, or even enter a contest.  This story is now ready for the world, and ready to make you proud.

Of course, not all stories move out.  Some simply move into your basement.  Sure they call it their own apartment, and talk about how they need to find themselves, but you both know they have no ambitions anymore.  They may have started out with so much potential, but now they can’t even get a job pulling in readers on a blog.  Best case scenario has this novel in a writing workshop, demonstrating all of the things a writer shouldn’t do, and working to scare other stories into a good life of being published.  As much as you know you should throw it out, you can’t quite get rid of it.  It is still your baby, and you are still hoping for the day it grows up and becomes a novel.

Five Things About Mothers

 

It’s mother’s day, so I’m sure you don’t need to wonder about today’s inspiration.

I am fortunate enough to be able to celebrate this day from two angles; as the mother of two beautiful girls, and as the daughter of one of the most amazing mothers on the planet.

Everyone knows mothers have a difficult and important job.  It is one of the reasons we often feel as though we are failing miserably in our efforts.  But somehow, the best mothers always pull through, and power through the difficult times.

1) Your mother went through the trouble of getting you.

I was going to mention pregnancy and childbirth specifically, but let’s be honest that is not the only way to become a mother.  I have seen women go through painful procedures to try and get pregnant, and women working hard through the process of adoption.  I have seen women who picked up raising a child for the ex-wife who threatened their life, and woman who took the place of beloved family members who they had recently lost. I had it easy, with two relatively simple pregnancies and fairly straight forwards births.  But I am one of the lucky ones.  How you become a mother isn’t important, it’s only important to do the best you can for your child.

2) All mothers are a little different.

When I woke up this morning, I had a picture sent to me from my mother waiting on my phone.

1004503_10152284500739104_156350251_n

My mother is a unique person who teaches me things on a regular basis.  Including how to embarrass my children.  You know, to make them stronger.  She is not like any other mother out there, and for that I am eternally grateful. 

3) No one loves like a mother.

I have made mistakes in my life.  Many of them.  But I have been fortunate enough to be able to come to my mother after each mistake and know that I am loved, I am forgiven, and I am accepted.  There is nothing in this world that is as amazing as knowing I will always have a place to call home.  It doesn’t matter what I have done, or why I am there, she will take me in and guide me through.

4) Mothers mess up sometimes, and that is alright.

There are times when I feel like the worst mother there is.  Sometimes it is simple, such as putting on a cartoon for my child so they will give me some peace and quiet to do what I want to do.  Other times it is snapping and yelling at my child, not because what they have done is so horrible, but just because I am having a rough day.  These are the moments where I feel horrible, as though no one does a worse job than me.  I know others have done worse things than I have, and I know I may one day do something much worse.  And that is okay; one day children will realize their mothers are human, and that will help to give them the strength to do this job when it is their turn.

5) My mother is the best one there is.

There is a lot I can say about my mother.  The story of raising eight children by herself, of always being there when we needed her, of returning to school to get her degree, and of somehow always keeping things together even if she would rather fall apart.  I could talk about her creativity, her giving nature, or her amazingly warped sense of humor.  I know many people think their mother is the best there is, but it’s only because they were not lucky enough to experience life with my mother.

 

Happy Mother’s Day everyone!

971900_4462658705149_2061057530_n

Five Things About My Weekend

I’m torn today. I have limited time to write a post. I don’t want to leave the blog blank, because I hate when Bloggers just ignore their posts because they have other things to do. I know other things are important, but us readers miss you when you are gone.
Of course, I don’t want to put a substandard post simply to fill space. That is insulting to the people who give me their time to read the things I write. You read my rambling nonsense as well as listen to my fears and deep thoughts (okay, sometimes they are about as deep as a puddles, but it’s all in your perspective). To give you a post that is incredibly poorly written is bad form.

I have decided to compromise. I will write a mediumly well written post telling all about why I am too busy to write more. Is that still rude?

1)I spent Saturday babysitting.

I don’t normally do any babysitting. In spite of the fact that I used to be a preschool teacher, I haven’t done babysitting since high school. However when a friend of mine’s husband wants to take her to a concert an hour away for her birthday, and realizes he needs someone to watch their daughter overnight, a daughter who happens to be best friends with my younger daughter, how can I refuse? My daughter got to have a fun sleepover, and I was able to help out a friend, win-win.
Unfortunately, when you spend hours chatting as the parents come to pick up instead of finishing a paper for school, it can make your weekend slowly disappear without you noticing as you rush to make up the homework time.

2)I feel like Mulan.

Yesterday morning, my daughters, the friend, and I went out into my large backyard to shoot arrows. They are the nice dull ones for practice, and I usually keep it short intentionally. This time they asked me to start by shooting one long shot. I complied, but accidently shot my arrow into a group of large pine trees. I keep hearing the training line from Mulan, “Retrieve the arrow.” Unfortunately, I can’t see it to know which tree it is in, and I am 90% sure most of them do not have strong enough branches to support me even if I had climbed a tree in the last 15 years.
However, I can’t stop thinking about getting my arrow back. It is becoming an obsession.

3)My daughter wants to go shopping.

Spending most of yesterday talking instead of cleaning or doing homework means I have a lot left to do today. Unfortunately, my older daughter had already asked if we could go shopping today. I could tell her no, I’m too busy. I could go shopping on any other day of the week without the kids; but I can’t have her try on pants unless she is with me. I made her a promise to attempt to get new pants, and now I can’t put it off, no matter how busy I let myself get today.
It’s not her fault I couldn’t shut up yesterday.

4)I’m doing laundry at home!

Yes, my washer was finally fixed. After two months of debating the problem, the military finally gave me a new one. I wish they had done that a while ago, but I will take what I can get.

5)I want a nap.

I am so busy, I feel so swamped, I just want to lie down and sleep until it is all over. On top of it all, I never sleep well when my husband isn’t here, so I haven’t had a good nights sleep in a couple weeks. I know I won’t have time, but I am dangling the prospect of a nap much like the proverbial carrot on a stick. Maybe if I move quickly I can squeeze it in, just a 20 minute power nap. I’ll even take a five minute ‘only resting my eyes.’

Well, I have to get back to it now! Tell me, how is your weekend going?

Five Things About Spring Break

I used to love spring break as a kid.  It was more exciting than winter break (since I prefer sunshine) but not quite as exciting as summer break.  Mostly, it was a chance to lounge about, reading books or having sleepovers with friends.  As soon as I was old enough to work, it was a chance to pick up a few extra hours.  Now, staying at home with my kiddos, it is a combination of time spent with them, and time trying desperately not to fall behind on my own working.

Spring break can be a magical time, when it works out for you.

 

1. Spring Break Trips.

As a kid, my mother was either in school or teaching at a school, meaning we had the same breaks.  We never took exotic trips, but a week at Grandma’s house, or a trip to visit my older brothers was always fun.

By the time I was old enough for a drunken spring break trip, I had a 2, almost 3 year old daughter.  (By old enough, I mean 21, the legal drinking age in America, not the legal drinking age in most of the rest of the world, or the screw this age used by most America students.)  Even if I had wanted to, there was no way I would be leaving my child in order to be drunk and vomiting on a beach somewhere.  It’s just not me.

Instead, our family has mostly used Spring break as staycation times, with maybe a few day trips thrown in.  Don’t get me wrong, I love to travel.  I also however, hate crowds.  Traveling to most places during spring break means fighting the massive groups of people, some not caring if they ever move, others pushing desperately to make it somewhere on time, and everyone sweaty and sticky.  No thank you, I’ll travel at another time.

 

2. Spring Cleaning.

When we stay at home it is easier to notice how messy a house can be.  It gets even worse when everyone is in the house, all day.  As much as the kids hate it, an occasional deep cleaning of the house is necessary.

 

3. Spring Reading.

I am a proud book nerd, always have been.  Spring break usually brings a lovely change from the normal school required reading list.  Sure, there might be something I needed to catch up on, but, usually it was a week of reading whatever I wanted.  When that reading could be done outside in the sunshine, all the better.

 

4. Spring Cooking

There is something about the slightly warmer weather that makes you want to eat differently.  The warm soups are no longer satisfying and begin to make you feel heavy.  Instead you long for fresh fruits, vegetables, cold drinks, and maybe a little ice cream.  Spring break is a great time to hit the markets, buy the fresh food, and enjoy the light feeling of summer and sunshine a little early.

 

5. Spring Renewal

There is a reason we love spring.  It’s not just because we are tired of the cold of winter.  It’s not just because we want an excuse to take a vacation and relax.  It is the hope spring brings to us.  So many people make new years resolutions, and break them shortly after.  Spring is a chance to start again.  The plants and animals are waking up, showing us how to get new life after the cold and depressing winter.  The world is new again, and we can be too.

 

Spring break has been a delicate balance this year.  I know I spent more time on what the kids wanted, and not enough on my work or even on house cleaning.  As our two weeks draws to a close, I am a little sad to send the kids back, dreading the week of playing catch up, but looking forward to not just getting back to normal, but getting back to somewhere great.