Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Candy and Codeine

I've been sick for so long that I don't remember what it feels like to be well. I miss it, I know that much. I miss taking an easy breath, laughing without faltering into a coughing fit. Despite sickness, Christmas was really great. I got to do my favorite thing: spoil my kids with time together and presents.

I went to the Doctor yesterday and finally got a prescription. I was so eager to start getting better that I quickly took the first doses of the antibiotic and the cough syrup.... the cough syrup with codeine. Great way to kick off New Year's Eve celebrations, let me tell you. By the time we went to an early dinner with friends I was feeling tingly all over and my head seemed to be floating a couple of inches off of my neck. I hope I didn't reveal to much information about our private life when we played the Newlywed game, it's all a little fuzzy, but I know at one point I used the word, "whoopie".

We got home later than we thought, and our poor kids were waiting for us. The youngest had already fallen asleep. I was in such a stupor and such a hurry at the same time, that on the way in, I slipped on a patch of ice and fell right down. The green salad I had taken to dinner flew into the air and fell around me like a rabbit food rainstorm. The writing was on the wall. I was snug in bed by 10:30, greeting the new year with codeine induced dreams by midnight.

New theory: we should all bring in the new year on New Year's morning after we've woken from a good night's rest! Our family has been really happy all day! We ate all of the snacks, played games, watched movies, and had Chinese food. The only downfall was that I put off the start of my new "healthy lifestyle change".

Tomorrow is another day. Technically today is a holiday and it's just sick and wrong to start a healthy lifestyle on a holiday. I know we've heard it all before, and I've been here before, but here's the pep talk. Eating right and exercising go hand in hand with everything else that's healthy in life. Religion, confidence, friendship, "whoopie"... a mind free of codeine. I think all of life improves with diet and exercise. I have new motivation. My first ever weight loss competition. My competitive nature has been dulled somewhat by motherhood. Too many years letting young ones win. :) It will be fun to see how playing for a reward more motivational than being first to reach "King Candy" effects me. I just realized the irony that even my board games revolve around candy.
I gotta get outta here!!!


Thursday, November 1, 2012

Nanowrimo. What the heck is that?

First of all, guess what I'm using for the first time? That would be my laptop. The laptop I got for my birthday! This gorgeous, expensive piece of equipment that was so gorgeous and expensive I didn't dare touch it. :) I should be laying on a couch in a therapist's office, I know. But I got it out from the corner of my bedroom, picked it up, and opened it like it was the Holy Grail this morning and it was all thanks to Nanowrimo. National Writing Month. Allow me to talk to you as if you are just learning the very, very first lessons about writing, as I AM.
National Writing Month is... well, mania, apparently. They, they meaning the writing people... hope that clears everything up... decided that the best way to celebrate National Writing Month was to have writers write like flippin crazy! They challenge anyone who likes to write at all to sign up and join the challenge of writing an entire novel during the month of November. 50,000- count 'em- nevermind, don't count them because that would be maddening- 50,000 words in one month.We have to put these words together into sentences that we make up, you know. These sentences don't previously exist! How many sentences do you think 50,000 words can make? Don't try to figure it out. It's not worth it.

Having never tried this, I had absolutely no idea how freaked out to even be until this morning when I woke up to my daughters fighting over the bathroom, found it to be 5:45am (could be why I sound a little delirious), and decided the dark quiet hours might be best for breaking out the Holy Grail and giving this whole Nanowrimo thing it's first try.
Holy cow. After writing for an hour and fifteen minutes, I'm up to 500 words. I'm excited about where it's going. I'm thrilled an idea came to me and that I'm inventing the sentences! Yet, I'm looking at the clock, looking at my life, looking at my tendency to overthink and try to perfect, realizing how that is SO not going to work for this particular challenge, and I'm thinking this is going to be the best thing in the world for me.
I'm scared. That's good. I'm writing again. That's pretty amazing. Thank you cousin (on the Gee side), Emily, for telling me about Nanowrimo and encouraging me to do it. Did I mention I'm scared? If anyone has any advice or encouragement... it's the only therapist's couch that I would get, so I would really appreciate it. :) Wish me LUCK! I will totally need it.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Anybody out there have mornings like this…. like, every single day?

This morning I got my daughters out the door before true insanity even began. Sometimes they start it. Sometimes there’s a forgotten assignment or an alarm that didn’t go off. Yesterday there was a hole that needed to be sewn up at the very last second, and the day before that I dropped one of them off in tears because of a friend issue. This all happens before 7:15 a.m.

Then comes the second fleet. I have to wake the first grader up. I’ve learned to take a few minutes of quiet for myself, plaster on a smile and some pep, and make him believe that the day is off to a beautiful and sunny start so that he has a fighting chance. Sort of like “kill ‘em with kindness”, it’s “trick them with optimism”.

Today I was booking on the Tooth Fairy. She hasn’t always been a source for a good start to a day. She’s very forgetful. VERY. Think how long it took her last time she forgot to come to your house and add another week. We made a sign for her. “Tooth Fairy ALERT!” We hang it in the hall now so that she knows, “There’s a tooth under a pillow in HEEEEEEEEERE!!!!” Sure enough. It did the trick. Luke got a dollar in trade for his first lost tooth.

Next obstacle: the homework that didn’t get finished the night before. How are you people doing this?!?! Maybe we’re placing too much importance on bonding time with Dad and the BYU football games. There’s not enough time in the day. We read Luke’s book one of the two required times last night before my patience was crying out for a respite. The credit I deserve just for that! Derek is a different story. He’s in preschool, so of course his homework can wait until ten minutes before we take him. I care about homework. It’s huge! But there are FOUR children! Two of them have math problems I don’t understand! The others, well, how tempting is it to cut through all of the sounding out and just blurt the word out to the child in answer? “H….H…H….ahhhh…” “That’s right honey, Home! Good job.  Oops. I accidentally told you that one? We better just skip this page.”

Reading groups will be starting soon in Luke’s class and if you make more than a couple of mistakes on a book, you don’t get to pass it off. This concerns him. I dropped everything to comfort him and make sure he knows that even if he makes some reading mistakes he’s still the smartest, coolest, most amazing kid in the world. We get through the second round of the book “Clifford is Tops”. It uses some outdated language. I have to explain to Luke why Emily is calling her Dad, “Pop” and he asks about three times why Clifford is “Tops”. Says that doesn’t make sense.

 Then he remembers that it’s library day, he’s very responsible about that. He needs me to read his library books to him before he takes them back. I read while he and Derek eat.

Shoes on, teeth brushed, cowlicks defying even the strongest of hair paste, Velcro shoes finally on the right feet and Luke is off to the bus stop in the nick of time.

I have the usual wrestling match with the pencil sharpeners. (Does ANYBODY out there own one that doesn’t give them fits?!?!) Then Derek learns how to write upper and lower case Bs. I realize that Luke’s library books are sitting in a nice organized pile on the chair next to the door. NOOOOOOO!!!! It was so cute the way he ALMOST remembered them. How can I let him go to library without them now?

Ryan needs to be dropped off at work today, the truck is being used on deliveries. We all jump into the van, Derek buckles himself. (Bless his heart for learning how to do it this week.) Ryan drives, I sit in the passenger seat groaning, sighing and muttering. Ryan laughs and calls me his little “Vexie”, he says I’m always vexed. I tell him the nickname is kind of cute and I actually prefer it to many of the others. I start telling him about some troubled girl Alli knows from school, but he interrupts me like three times to point things out on the sides of the road. Finally I tell him it’s impossible to have a conversation with him. He refocuses, reminding me of that guy on that commercial who is promised a Klondike Bar if he can truly listen to his wife for five seconds. Just then a woman drives by hanging a pajama top from her van window. “Oh. Go ahead,” I say. “I can tell you’re just dying to comment on the woman airing out the pajama top.” “Well WHAT is she doing?!?!” he says.

Derek is dropped off, library books are dropped off, Ry is dropped off, and I drive home in the precious quiet. I have two and half hours alone. I was sad when Derek first started preschool, but I quickly learned how good it is for him and me. I want to use it as writing time, but it’s awfully hard to put on the romantic goggles after the near drowning that my mornings always seem to be. I figured writing this blog post is a good start. Purge “Vexie” and then settle in to the fictional world. Besides, other Moms might relate. I can’t be the only one who has black and white visions of sending the kids off all groomed and well prepared, standing next to the door and placing a pert little kiss on the top of each head, while wearing a lovely circle skirted dress that shows off my trim waistline to perfection. Ahhh. The bitter contrast!

This is why we pick up the books I’m trying to write. Here’s praying for inspiration. Have a good day!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

The Feeling

Do you ever get this really inspired feeling? You’re sitting in a meeting or you’re listening to a song, or you’re having a moment out of time with your family and you know you want to change yourself for the better? You want to keep this feeling and you want to change everything in order to do it. I trust the feeling. A lot of times things happen very fast to steal the feeling away. You burn the cookies, you stand on the scale, the teenager cries about her hair, and the first grader doesn’t want to go to school. Ugh. You want to replace the difficult, daily happiness suckers with a quick fix, a mental, forgetful thrill. So you turn on old episodes of the Vampire Diaries and you forget for awhile. You also forget the inspired feeling. It becomes enough to just get through a day, an hour.

I’ll catch people up for a quick second. My Dad passed away a little over a year ago. He was a hero. He wasn’t old. He hadn’t necessarily “lived a full life”. My youngest brother got married last weekend and my Dad didn’t get to be here for that. That’s okay, it really is, but I need you to understand that losing my Dad was tragic. It wasn’t “just” a part of life; it was one of those tragic parts.
(A picture we cropped and displayed at the wedding, in memory of my Dad. It's my Dad and my three brothers.)
When he passed away, a feeling came over me. In my heart, I like to believe it was a gift from him. I had faced one of the hardest things I’d face in my life and I had survived it. If I could do that- Bring it world! I could do anything. I immediately started this blog. I would make my dream of being a writer come true. What was someone leaving a mean comment? What was a harsh critique? What were countless rejections compared to losing my Dad? Nothing. I’d face them until I reached my dream.
I wish the feeling could stay.
When the writing world got overwhelming, there were plenty of other things for me to pour energy into. Summer vacation, my kids my kids my kids, the scale, food, the scale, food, kids' hobbies, kids’ homework, brother’s wedding, home improvements, and lots of Vampire Diaries.
(My brother and his wife! SO fun!)
(One of many home improvements I've been working on. I painted our dining room and refinished our table!)

…But sometimes… I’m reading a book, or I’m driving alone, or (like last night) I’m sitting with my family and Ryan Edward is telling the kids about how he hopes they don’t settle for mediocre. He hopes they keep trying to improve themselves every day, because greatness is built line upon line. I get that really inspired feeling, that energizing feeling. It isn’t constant, but it doesn’t give up on us. I think that means more than we realize.

My life has changed almost completely in the last year and a half. My Dad isn’t with us now. My childhood home, my peaceful escape is gone. My Mom is remarried and trying to make sense of so many things.
Ryan Edward is busy, busy accomplishing his goals for our family. The babies each have a whole blog post of concerns that they need their Mom’s help with, and jokes they heard on the Disney channel that they need to recount for their Mom to fake laugh at.
We all have a list like that, and we’ll get through it to face new challenges tomorrow. I guess I just wanted to say: that feeling hasn’t given up on me, and I bet it hasn’t given up on you, and I, for one, plan to trade in an hour of comfort food and attractive vampires today and do something about it.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Cccccan't Puuuut The Book Dooooooowwwwwn

I just spent Spring Break in a way I can be proud of. It's kind of rare for me to be able to say that, maybe because I like to indulge in my favorite wastes of time, maybe because I'm hard on myself. But this Spring Break I made a list, and I made goal charts for myself and each of my kids and we accomplished everything- all of the fun stuff and all of the make-yourself-a-better-person stuff. I feel pretty great. Unfortunately, you have to prioritize and my blog has been falling by the way side a little.
I've spent this morning reading, (which could probably be defined as one of my favorite wastes of time, or... research for my career) and I am giddy over the book I'm reading, so I'll take advantage and use the adrenaline to update my blog!

My brilliant cousin, Emily made my whole life better by recommending this book to me. I read a handful of books I like, clicking on my bedside lamp and reading for an hour here or there before the book starts to fall out of my hands as my eyes start to fall shut. A handful of books in a row, somtimes a few handfuls, and then I find one that I can't put down. It's smarter somehow. It's more intriguing somehow. I'll attempt to tell you a couple of the things that stand out about this one.

I think the storytelling part of writing should come naturally. You have to be creative, and you have to have a really great idea. You can pour that thing out on paper without much hesitation, and you probably should. THEN you have to consider the rules. That's the point I'm at with the novel I'm writing. I've come to realize that you aren't doing your story justice without the rules. Your story deserves to be backed up by the kind of writing that let's people get to your story the best way they can. They need to feel it. They need to experience it. The rules are there to help them do that.

Here is a description of my favorite guy in Divergent. "His eyes are so deep-set that his eyelashes touch the skin under his eyebrows, and they are dark blue, a dreaming, sleeping, waiting color." I've never heard a color described this way! I like that the author describes it, but also leaves it to your imagination and preference. What is a "dreaming, sleeping, waiting" blue to you? I'll bet it's a pretty fabulous blue.

Early on in the book, I was bordering on frustration because I was so eager for what I wanted to happen and it wasn't happening! Only a subtle hint of it was happening. Just enough to give me hope without me knowing for sure that things would go that way. When things did start to progress in the way I was hoping, it was that much better! I didn't realize the power of making the reader wait and wonder. The payoff is an emotional rush!

So that's what I've been up to! ...And it makes me pretty darn happy! Gotta go now, as soon as I get the kindergartener on the bus I can apply my brown eyes, currently an eager, single-minded, hungry shade of brown, back on the pages of my book.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Trying on the Overcoat

Ryan Edward has two jobs. He owns mattress stores, and he buys and sells items much like you see on the popular television shows, Pawn Stars and Storage Wars. He loves antiques and has a great knowlege of history. He bids on Storage units that go up for auction and it's always fascinating to see what he ends up owning, everything from someone's old VHS collection to highly valuable treasures. I tease him that so many of his success stories start with, "So I thought better of it, and dug it out of the trash."
On Saturday, he came home with the most amazing memorabilia from World War II. He sat us all down in the living room, picked up each item and told us its story. The most interesting and foreboding was this jacket.

It was worn by a member of the Gestapo during the reign of Adolf Hitler in Germany. It's sitting in my living room, its black leather worn and rough and heavy. I could try it on, but the very idea scares me. What acts did the hands that slid themselves into that coat every day commit? What were the thoughts of the man who buttoned those buttons? Was he conflicted? Was he purely evil or just filled with a hope that had turned to dillusion?
Writers have to think a lot about people. We have to think about who they are, about their thoughts, their motivations, their goals.
Dwight Swaine

wrote that it is impossible for a writer to do justice to any real person with a character in a book. People are too complex. Our job is to accurately portray the things readers need to know about our characters.

According to Randy Ingermanson, there are three main things a writer should try to understand about his character when he "tries on his overcoat".
1) His values, or his core truths.
2) His Ambition, what he wants most in the world.
3) His Goal, the one concrete thing he believes he needs to do, or be, or have in order to achieve his ambition.

I might have to try on that heavy, Secret Service overcoat and get inside the head of my villain. We all know I'd rather write about the hero and the damsel than the bad guy. I once watched Beauty and the Beast at the Tuacahn Theater and Gaston stole the show. Who are your favorite villains?

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Not Feeling Sexy.

Okay, apparently a Monday can pass without romance while I'm still alive. :) In my defense, I'm barely alive. It's not that my writing isn't on my mind every day. My focus has to shift a little sometimes to things that will further my goals in a way that blogging won't. I've been using the extra time to read this:

I have two more like it on hold at the library.

I guess you could say I've been feeling studious instead of sexy.

Also, I've been on a diet. That's right, the evil, evil diet. When dieting, I am an unhappy person with occasional dreams of one day being happy.

You might say I've been feeling starvation instead of sexy.

Also, I've been working out more. Which will eventually make me feel sexi-ER, but given the fact that in my crazy life right now time for a shower is a luxury,

You might say I'm feeling sweaty instead of sexy.

Also, I'm suffering from a terrible cold. My sinuses hurt.

I'm feeling stuffy instead of sexy. Whenever I think of stuffiness and sexiness at the same time, I think of this:

I couldn't find a clip of this episode that was clean enough. I just always think of Monica trying to seduce Chandler with a stuffy nose when I'm sick. Funny stuff.

The positive side is, these things will all lead to improvements! There's sun on the horizon! There are little green shoots springing out of the ground. I can hear birds singing outside again. A bright future beckons. We put up our trampoline, we went to the park, we went for a walk and saw baby farm animals. I've been bonding with my family.

I feel spring-y even if I don't feel sexy just yet. There is a time for everything.