Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Little's Cooking Show Debut

Today was the day that Little and his Little Friends were seen on TV cooking with Emeril Lagasse on his new show, Emeril's Table.  Here's a picture from today's episode. Little is wearing yellow, unfortunately obscured by the cute girl in light blue.

Going with our friends to NY for the taping last spring was a blast. We think there should be a reunion show a few years from now with the same kids. :-)

Here's what they made:

  • Edamame with Sesame Oil and Sea Salt

    Emeril's TableGet the Recipe
  • Hot and Hearty Minestrone

    Emeril's TableGet the Recipe
  • Fruit Smoothies

    Emeril's TableGet the Recipe
  • Oven-Baked Chicken Fingers with Healthy Ranch Dipping Sauce

    Emeril's TableGet the Recipe

  • That was our excitement for the day. If I figure out how to upload the DVD, I'll add a clip. Here are some pictures from the trip:


    Tuesday, November 29, 2011

    Doing the Happy Dance

    Got up and finished this morning. It still needs a lot of editing. But it's done!


    50,151 words. 29 days of writing. 

    It has a beginning, a middle, and an end.

    Interesting characters doing their best to survive under challenging circumstances.

    Descriptive verbs.

    And I'm DONE!!!!

    Happy dance, happy dance, silly dance, silly dance...

    My progress screen this morning

    (And then I ran 3+ miles and did 20 minutes of weights, which would have been a major accomplishment in itself a year ago.  All before 10 a.m.  This is a good day.)

    Monday, November 28, 2011

    Kayaking with Savageman

    What a gorgeous day to be on the water!  We put the kayaks in near our house and took about a half-hour trip downstream, then spent another half-hour or so just paddling around looking at the birds and the deer and just being silly out in the middle of the water together. 

    We saw lots of ducks, several blue herons, two redtail hawks, and a family of deer.  The creek was still kind of high, but the current wasn't too fast and the water felt good for dipping feet. 

    Loving all this warm weather.  Each time I go out, I think to myself that this might be the last time for the year, so I really want to enjoy it - and then I get another nice day like today, which was great to share with Savageman.  He took the SlimJim and I had my new (aptly named) BlueberrySmoothie. I like them both just fine, but the BlueberrySmoothie is especially nice and fits me perfectly. 

    Very happy with the purchase, and with the second car rack.  The helpful people at Blue Mountain Outfitters explained that I could strap a third kayak inbetween the other two if necessary.  Good to know.

    Not holding my breath for another warm day like this as we head into December, but you never know.  Either way, I was glad to have had this time alone with my hubby to play with our new toys.


    Sunday, November 27, 2011


    "Writing a novel in a month is utterly ridiculous, an undertaking for fools and those who don't know any better.  Thankfully, we belong to the latter camp, which makes us dangerously powerful writers. Liberated from the constraints of constructing a pretty and proper novel, we are free to run, naked and whooping, through the valleys of our imaginations.

    This month, your story will achieve an at-times frightening force and velocity.  Go with it. Write wildly, joyfully, in huge and bounding strokes. Was that last page the worst thing you've ever written? Maybe.  Does it matter? Nope.  All words are good words this month.  Follow tangents.  Change directions at will. Stay loose.  Make messes.  Laugh at it all.  You are doing something weird and wonderful here, and none of it will go on your permanent record."

    - Chris Baty, No Plot? No Problem!

    I took a break with 774 words to go for the day and just re-read No Plot? No Problem! - the official user's guide to NaNoWriMo - for a little pep-talk. 

    Good stuff.

    I think I have my ending.  It's very different from what I thought it would be, but it's fitting. 

    And honestly, it could still change.  I still have 4 more days of writing / 7500 words ahead of me.  Stranger things have happened.

    I would be feeling sad that this is almost over - like the feeling you get when you're really enjoying a book you're reading and you know you're almost done - except I know how rough this rough draft probably is and how much editing it will need when I let the Inner Editor out of the box to have at it in January.  I already have a list started of things I want more of, plot lines I've neglected to develop enough, characters who are still not quite three dimensional.  Going back over it and expanding and tinkering will be fun, especially if I embrace the task with the same self-discipline I've drawn upon to write the rough draft.

    I'm learning so much from this experience.  It's given me such an appreciation for other works of fiction and the writers who create them, it's taught me that a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step (and then another, and then another).  It's taught me just how much I can do if I can successfully shut off the nay-saying, critical voices in my head. And it's reminded me of what a great guy I married, because he's been wonderful about all of this, even though I know he secretly can't wait for December.

    Getting back to it now... I have a little more I want to write before bed.

    Saturday, November 26, 2011

    New Sport

    The Teen started playing Lacrosse.

    That's him in the middle.  He plays defense and he looks quite intimidating with all his gear on and that 6 foot long stick in his hands. 

    I think he's good at it, but really I have no way of knowing since none of us knows anything about this sport whatsoever.  It looks kind of like a hybrid of soccer and hockey.

    I guess I have to get a book out of the library.

    Friday, November 25, 2011

    My Black Friday Purchase

    Some people got video games, some got TVs, gadgets, DVDs, appliances, computers or clothes. 

    I got a blue kayak.

    I didn't have to push anyone down or hit anyone or pepper spray anyone to get it either.  It's brand new and I got a good price at Blue Mountain Outfitters, along with the paddle, two new lifejackets and a second car rack.  The woman who sold it to me really knew her stuff and helped me make the best choice for our needs.

    So now the Swifty (a.k.a. SlimJim) has a friend named Impulse (Blueberry Smoothie?) and we have all the equipment we need for a fun day for two on the creek. 

    As for the rest of Black Friday, I got Little's birthday present (his birthday's right after New Year's), and spent several hours hanging out at the mall with Middle.  Ran into our karate friends there and had lunch.  More time with karate friends at the gym and now Savageman has taken the kids to see a movie so I can write. 

    Speaking of which...


    Thursday, November 24, 2011


    Another trip to NJ today.  After 6 hours in the car, I'm ready for a hot bath and bed.

    But it's Thanksgiving and I want to take a minute to list some things for which I am thankful.

    I'm thankful for friends who convinced me to come out for a 5k run this morning.  It felt great, was a lot of fun, and I got to spend some time with people I don't often get to see.  I'm thankful for this body that I never in my life thought would be athletic, and for the karate school and my friends and instructors there who have shown me that it is.  I'm thankful for my running friends who have enlightened me to new ideas that have made running feel good and natural, like something my body is supposed to do. 

    Thankful also for the challenges of NaBloPoMo and NaNoWriMo this month.  The more I write, the more natural it feels to me.  I'm loving reconnecting with my inner writer - I haven't seen much of her since middle school and she is delighted to be creating again. This will be the first NaNoWriMo that I will actually complete, and I'm very, very excited about that.  So thankful my family has been enthusiastic and encouraging about all the writing (and kicking and punching) I've been doing.

    Thankful for a long car trip today on which I could get a lot of writing done, for a comfortable van and a husband who enjoys driving, for two sets of parents who are generally healthy and active, for a wonderful sister and brother-in-law, for aunts and uncles and cousins and nieces and nephews we get to see on such holidays as today.

    Thankful for my boys, who were so good with the little kids and such a pleasure to have with us today. 

    Finally, I'm so very thankful for Savageman - my best friend, my personal comedy act, my cheerleader, my comforter, the one who knows and loves and accepts me, flawed as I am.  So incredibly grateful for him and for the life we've created for ourselves.

    Wednesday, November 23, 2011


    Tonight, I passed the 75% mark on the NaNoWriMo novel.

    Now, the focus is on Finishing.

    How is this going to end?  How can I work it so that it ends in the next 12500 words or so?  How do I tie up the loose ends and make this come out in a way that will feel satisfying? 

    This is my challenge this week.

    The Author Pep Talk arrived in my inbox tonight.  The highlight for me:

    Some new writers spend years planning and preparing, but never get to the actual writing of the book. Others are “eternal rewriters” [me] who habitually get three chapters into a book, then go back and revise over and over. Others get mired in the death zone: that most difficult part of a book between the one-third and two-third marks.

    If you’ve never finished a book before, your goal in NaNoWriMo should be to hit that finish line. Don’t revise. Don’t stop and plan. Keep going, no matter what. The NaNo website talks a great deal about this goal, and I suspect other pep talks will cover the point in depth. So rather than belaboring the point, I’ll just reference my own personal experience.

    The biggest jump in quality I made as a writer came in finishing my first book and starting my second. Writing an ending, then being able to look back and see the entire book, taught me more about the process than years of education, years of reading, and years of starting ever had. Finishing one book is more valuable than a dozen creative writing courses and a thousand books started. I’ve seen this time and time again in other writers I know.

    My new mantra:  Don't think.  Just finish.

    You've come this far.

    You can do this.

    Just finish.

    Tuesday, November 22, 2011

    Almost There...

    Slow and steady wins the race.

    Also NaNoWriMo.

    I'm close to 75% done and a lot still needs to happen in my story.  But the plan is to wrap it up by 50,000 words / November 30th.  I can always go back and pad it later when I edit it.

    My protagonist will soon be faced with a choice and, while I have some idea of how she's going to go on this, she could still surprise me.  That's how it's been so far, and the suspense of finding out what happens is a large part of what's keeping me writing. 

    All in all, it's been a fun ride and I suspect it's about to become even more fun.  I'm happy that I've been able to stick to the schedule with a minimum amout of stress or interference with my regular activities.  1700 words a day really isn't that much when you enjoy what you're writing.

    Ready for the final push to finish.  I can't wait to find out how it ends.


    Monday, November 21, 2011

    Gotta Write

    I have 1600 words to write for NaNoWriMo, it's 9:40, Savageman wants to watch a movie together, I just got home from the dojang and I'm beat. So let's make this quick, shall we?

    I started running again last week. My calves are not as sore today - I guess they've resigned themselves to the fact that this is what we're doing and they seem to be going along with it. Bumped it up to 3 miles today. It's quite enjoyable when I have good music on that matches the cadence of my footfalls, so I'm using a good "running" playlist on the iPod. It feels more like dancing. And everything feels better barefoot than with shoes on, so I'm digging the daily run in the Vibrams.

    Home, schoolwork, housework, lunch, schoolwork, housework, library. Dinner for everyone else, Kickboxing for me and Middle.

    Tonight's menu:

    3 minute warm-up shadowboxing
    Pair up and grab a shield and two hand targets
    (I paired up with my friend who recruited me for ToughMudder.)

    Trade roundhouse kicks with hand targets - two minutes
    Take turns doing front kicks while partner holds a shield - 45 seconds each
    Back to roundhouse kicks
    Front kicks again - 1 minute each
    Roundhouse kicks
    Front kicks - 1.25 minutes each
    (20 crunches, 10 leg lifts, 2 burpees) x 5
    Roundhouse kicks again
    Take turns doing side kicks with shield - 45 secs
    Roundhouse kicks
    Side kicks - 1 min
    Roundhouse kicks
    Side kicks - 1.25 min
    (40 crunches, 20 leg lifts, 4 burpees) x 5
    Trade hook kicks / roundhouse kicks
    Take turns doing spinning back kicks with shield 45 secs
    Hook / roundhouse
    Spinning back kicks - 1 min
    Hook / roundhouse
    Spinning back kicks - 1.25 min
    (60 crunches, 40 leg lifts, 6 burpees) x 5

    You get the idea... We finished with a cool down / stretch and then dashed off to change out of soaking wet clothes into our nice, fresh, clean gis.

    In class, we bow in, then immediately we're in a horse stance doing a million single straight punches. Then 36 taekwondo actions in random order that we have to remember and execute properly. Then kata, followed by kata interspersed with 18 pushups (one after each move). Then a series of kicks, then pairing up for fighting techniques, followed by hapkido techniques. We ended class with several hundred crunches and about 50 pushups.

    Changed out of soaking wet gis and back into our regular clothes.

    Here's the kicker... I drank coffee. I ate a poached egg and some yogurt and granola for breakfast. A few bites of grilled salmon for lunch. A small amount of Caesar salad with a few bites of grilled chicken and maybe 5 olives for dinner. And a glass of red wine.

    Tomorrow I will get on the scale and still be exactly the same weight.

    I must have a really solid set point.

    (Screw it. I'm hitting the secret stash of dark chocolate tonight.)

    Time to write...


    Sunday, November 20, 2011

    Couldn't Resist

    Had to take it out on the creek one more time before the weather got rainy and cold.

    Pure Bliss.

    Still shopping for a second one because it's a little bit lonely all by myself. But peaceful.

    I saw ducks and geese and an egret. The air was warm. Every once in a while, I would hit a pocket of cold air; a taste of what's moving this way.

    Today I also practiced lifting the kayak in and out of the car roof rack. It's only about 40 pounds, but it's a little cumbersome. Now that I've practiced it a few times, I feel more confident doing it by myself.

    So happy my friends forced me to do this. It was so nice driving over the creek today and thinking, "Wow, it sure would be nice to be out there today" - and then actually going.


    Saturday, November 19, 2011

    Blogging On The Road

    We're on our way home from NJ and I'm taking this opportunity to practice using the swipe keyboard on my phone to write this. Although it doesn't have internet access, I did bring the laptop so I could catch up on Nanowrimo today- I had gotten a day or two behind and had to do a car ride marathon to get back on track, which thankfully worked. Took a different direction in the story than I'd planned, which was kind of daring, but what the hell, this is what Nanowrimo is all about, right?

    Don't think, just write, is what I keep telling myself. Reminds me of the line from Bull Durham : "Don't think- it will only hurt the ball club."

    Letting my subconscious run wild, I am.

    Got this motivational email in my Nanowrimo inbox today - recording some of it here:

    "Delivering a novel in a month must be the most extreme challenge in writing.

    "I can’t claim to have done it in a month, but I once drafted a novel in six weeks. That draft eventually became my first published book, Incendiary. There are three things you need to know about that. One, that the first draft was unpublishable. Two, that the obsession and the sleep deprivation drove me to a place of dubious mental stability which, in retrospect, we can all laugh about. And three, that I am more proud of those six weeks than of any other period in my life. It changed me. I was working in an attic room in Paris, living on coffee and nerves. I say “living” – in truth I was mutating. I crossed a Rubicon that they will have to drag my cold dead body back across.

    "That’s what you’re doing, if you’re doing NaNoWriMo. You could have chosen to write a short story this month. You could have redecorated. You could have lounged on your couch and absorbed reality TV, formulating opinions about which of the nice young people ought to be your nation’s brand new idol. Instead you have crossed a line of no return. You have chosen to engage – and in many cases reengage - with a dangerous process that changes you."

    "...A novel is a living thing and it resists containment within the structures we erect for it. Even worse, the novel has intelligence and it will inevitably turn against its creator. Think of it like the velociraptors in Jurassic Park. The problem is that a good character in a novel will reach a point of maturity where he or she is not necessarily biddable.

    "...My point is that the job of a novelist is to explore human emotion and motivation. You learn more about your protagonists as you write them. If you are not very often forced by your characters to bin your masterplan, then you are a wooden and a formulaic writer indeed. So, better than having a planned structure is to begin with a character or two, and a theme you intend to explore, and an initial direction you plan to start exploring in. Don’t be alarmed when, on arriving at what you thought was your summit, you realise you’ve climbed up the wrong mountain. That’s why novelists go through drafts – because plans go brilliantly awry."

    This is where I was this weekend - watching things take a different turn than I had expected in the story, which will get a lot more interesting and complicated now.  It's very much fun to see where this is headed, and infinitely more fun than watching TV or doing Suduko, which could just as easily have taken up this amount of time this month. 

    In other news, the last two days of adding a 2 mile run to my usual kickboxing and karate class routine has left me with aching calves like I couldn't believe. Guess that answers my "baseline" question... So I need to run more, which isn't a bad thing, actually. Days that begin with a run are almost always more productive than days that don't. The time I invest always pays off. Reminder to myself for the day I know will come when I decide I'm too busy, it's too cold, etc.  Don't think - just run. It's better that way.

    I'm realizing that "Don't think" was a huge theme for me this month.  Starting with the concept of mushin, both in martial arts and in writing.  I'm my own worst enemy.  Overthinking tends to paralyze me.  Or worse, depress me.

    I'm realizing I need to more often get out of my own way and just do things.  I'm a lot happier, more confident and infinitely more productive this way.

    Reminder to myself...

    Friday, November 18, 2011

    I Signed Up

    No going back now...

    "Our 10-12 mile obstacle courses are designed by British Special Forces to test all around strength, stamina, mental grit, and camaraderie. Forget finish times. Simply completing a Tough Mudder is a badge of honor."

    On April 29th, I will be here participating in this event, which raises big bucks for the Wounded Warrior Project.

    The link to make a donation is here.

    If my information is correct, there will be four of us from the dojang on the same team - all women.  We'll have a good time training for this all winter.  :-)

    Pictures from last year in Allentown are here.

    Some highlights:

    I'm a little worried about the monkey bars...
    Not kidding about the barbed wire.
    Glad I'm on a team.
    Wonder how cold that water is...

    Thursday, November 17, 2011

    Back to Barefoot

    Watching this and reminding myself that I need to get back to running, especially if I'm going to train for Toughmudder this April.  That's all we were talking about at kickboxing tonight; who's doing it, who's not, what we need to do to train for it... that kind of thing.

    Despite the fact that I did about a million burpees this week, my upper body strength is not what it needs to be to get across 25 monkey bars, and I haven't run more than 5 miles in a row, ever - this thing is 10-12.

    Of course,  it's not all running.  There's crawling through the mud under barbed wire, for example. 

    You know, for fun.

    Still thinking about it.  I'd do it, just for the experience of it and the camaraderie - if not for fears about injuries.  By April, I might be preparing for my red belt test, which is a big deal.  Mud is slippery.  I'm not a fan of slippery.  The dojang is slippery when people are really sweating, but at least you can usually jump over the slippery sweat puddles there. 

    (I know, Ew.  But I'm convinced all the sweat sharing stimulates the immune system.)

    Anyway, the video features Chris McDougall, who wrote Born to Run, a book I absolutely love.  Running was never really my thing until I learned you can (and possibly should) do it barefoot or at least in minimal footwear.  I'll never go back to sneakers knowing what I know now.

    Hoping the weather stays nice for a little bit longer - I should probably get a baseline on how far I can actually run before I make a decision about this thing.  And how far I can go on monkey bars.

    Wednesday, November 16, 2011

    Happy 16th Birthday to the Teen

    Sixteen years ago today, I became a mother.

    I  was a 26 year old doctoral student living far away from my family.  I had been married 13 months.

    In so many ways, you and I grew up together.

    You have been the recipient of my fiercest devotion and my fiercest criticism.  The blessing and the curse of the firstborn, you had my undivided attention and I knew how intelligent you were.  I expected a lot from you, and also from myself.  We fought bitterly over those expectations and we still bear the scars of them. 

    Had I to do it over, I would have enjoyed you more and pushed you less.  You didn't need me to push you to be brilliant - you had that in you all along, and you still do.  Maybe all the energy you put into pushing back would have been better invested into something more enjoyable.  I regret that for so many years, you felt like nothing you ever did was good enough for me.  Hopefully you know by now that nothing I ever did was good enough for me either.  We grew up together, you and I.

    They say that our relationships with others reflect our relationship with ourselves.  Never has that been more true than for you and me.  I'm glad we've begun to move into a more accepting, more enlightened place with each other and with ourselves.  I'm just sorry it took so long.

    Today you're sixteen and a young man.  You have already left the nest in so many ways, and despite all of our worries, you're doing okay.  You're going to be just fine, and I want it to go on record that if it's good enough for you, it's good enough for me.  I love you and value you for the unique person you are, whether you do Great Things with your life, or Ordinary Things.

    Most of all, I want you to love and accept yourself and be happy and loving and accepting of others.  I hope I've been a better example of that in these last few years.   

    We haven't stopped growing up together.

    I love you as much today as I did that day sixteen years ago when they put you in my arms and you changed my life forever.

    Tuesday, November 15, 2011


    Tonight the word count stands at 25,006.

    I'm halfway done with NaNoWriMo - exactly on schedule and going strong for the First Time Ever. 

    And feeling rather pleased about it, I might add. :-)

    I know I've mentioned this before, but going in with a completely different attitude this time seems to have made the difference. 

    I haven't been stressing about it, I haven't been thinking much about it when I'm doing other things. 

    I definitely haven't been reading over what I've got so far.  That was always the Kiss of Death in other years.  Those were the moments when the Inner Editor would work herself free of whatever evil trap I had managed to confine her and offer to just take a small peek.

    The resulting deluge of criticism would then wash away any amount of enthusiasm I had for the project.  Within a few days of her "small peek," I would give up, knowing I could never live up to my own high standards.  I'd rather not even waste my time.

    The really scary thing?  She looked a lot like me, dealing with my kids.  And surprisingly enough, I got the same results.

    I'm happy to say that I've had a change in attitude toward them as well.  Starting with I let them know that I love and value them.  No matter what.  Whether they are High Achievers in whatever they are working toward has very little to do with me and everything to do with them, as it will be throughout their lives.  Backing off with the criticism and perfectionism has changed absolutely nothing about their performance - but it has done wonders for how we relate to each other, and for the increased confidence and responsibility I see developing in them as they create their own outcomes.

    I tell them all the time that people tend to criticize in others what they fear most about themselves.

    (Note: It's actually really tough to criticize other people when you've been telling them something like that for a while.  They start looking at you in a kind of knowing way. Narrowing their eyes and nodding.  That kind of thing.)

    Maybe I finally got to the place where I could honestly look at myself though that statement.  If I was  criticizing them for being lazy or for giving up too quickly or taking the easy way out, maybe that was saying more about me and my own Inner Editor's take on my life than it did about anything they were doing or not doing. 

    My worries that any one of them would miss out on opportunities to live a full, satisfying, unapologetic, truly authentic life because of the lazy choices they are making now suggested that it might be my own life that needed some attention; my own choices that needed to be examined.

    I've done a lot of that.

    So now before I criticize (and I mean criticize, not parent*) them, I can ask myself, "Am I putting forth 100% effort?  Am I challenging myself?  Managing my time well?  Showing self-discipline? Keeping my own space clean and organized?  Looking for opportunities to pitch in and help?  Am I living a full, satisfying, unapologetic, truly authentic life?"  If I'm not, I can make the choice to go work on that first.  Setting a better example appears to be getting better results from them than all the nagging and fighting and criticism in the world was accomplishing.

    They can follow that example or not.  That choice is theirs, not mine, and they are the ones who will live the lives they create for themselves.

    Meanwhile, I can love them for the unique individuals they are. They really are much more pleasant people when they sense that they are loved and valued, even when they screw up or don't do everything they know they're supposed to be doing.  I know I am.

    So those are my Deep Thoughts on this, the night I actually hit the 50% mark on schedule for the first time in the many years I have attempted this challenge.  I sincerely hope that my kids will have many opportunities in their lives to know how good this feels.


    *criticize: meaning to find fault with, to judge unfavorably, to tear down one's character or actions  vs. parent: meaning to guide and nurture, set limits, enforce natural consequences

    Monday, November 14, 2011

    The Kayak Needs a Name

    ... and quickly, because the little Savages have started calling it the Mim SlimJim.  They've decided that its hue somewhat resembles a SlimJim wrapper. 

    Not that they would know what that looks like, since I only allow good, wholesome, non-processed food in my house... right?

    Anyway, the good news is we took it out today and it is indeed Creekworthy.

    We had yet another unseasonably warm November day and the quackers and honkers were also paddling around on the creek.  Little and I took a ride together to check them out. 

    Middle thinks the kayak is okay, but doesn't really need one of his own. He was content to take the pictures. Little, on the other hand, can't wait for me to find a second one so we can go out together all the time.  I'm keeping an eye on Craigslist.

    All in all, it was another great day.  Happy in the house, listening to good music and being productive; happy outdoors, enjoying what might be the last of the warm weather and doing something different with the little Savages.

    But I need a better name for the boat.  Or a fresh coat of paint.

    Sunday, November 13, 2011


    After years and years of hearing me talk about getting a kayak, for my 42nd birthday my Book Club friends decided I'd waited long enough and they were going to make it happen.

    So today, this:

    Became this:

    Thank you thank you thank you all so much for this incredible gift.  Can't wait to get it out on the creek, (and to get a second one - I want to go out paddling with each and every one of you.)

    Love you all...

    Saturday, November 12, 2011

    I Smell Like Campfire

    Another beautiful day for November.  I'm happy to report that I spent a large part of it sitting by a campfire,  hanging out with my young teenager, just talking about life and enjoying each other's company while Savageman and Little were off doing Cub Scout things.

    I hadn't intended to on the Scout hayride this year.  I told everyone I had too much to do at home.  But it was too gorgeous a day to skip it and stay inside writing.  Or assembling more IKEA furniture, for that matter. Glad I made the decision I did, because it was all still here when I got back, with no harm done.

    Plus I smell like Campfire, which is never, never a bad thing.

    Life is too short to turn down opportunities to stop and smell like Campfire.

    Getting my fragrant self caught up this evening.  First, a 2400 word sprint (from which I am taking a break right now with about 1300 words to go).  By then, the prospect of putting some furniture together may seem more appealing, especially since the boys are out getting a movie for us to watch.

    I'm procrastinating much less this year when it comes to NaNoWriMo.  I sit down and start writing.  That's it.  It reminds me very much of an archeological dig.  The story is there - all I have to do is use the tools I have - the little chisels and brushes - to bring it out into the open one tiny piece at a time.  It's very satisfying, because I don't know what I'm uncovering next or what other discoveries each new uncovered part will lead to.  I have no idea of what's going to happen; I'm just taking it as it comes and letting my characters decide what they want to do next.  It's a dynamic process.  I hope I'm doing the story justice and using the right tools - and not being too clumsy with them.

    Of course, whenever I think something like that, I have to stop to remind myself once again that it's a first draft of a first novel and it's supposed to suck at this stage.  Just so I won't be too disappointed when I finally do go back and read it all. January is the month for editing.  Right now, all I'm supposed to do is get the story down.  And that part is going very well.

    On that note... my break is over.  Savageman has just returned with the movie and a Chocolate Orange (Whack and Unwrap!) for me to reward myself with when I hit my 20,000 word mark.  Hopefully in about an hour.

    Diving back in...

    Friday, November 11, 2011

    Happy Birthday, Middle!

    Today was 11-11-11.

    And Middle turned 13.

    Needless to say, there was much celebration... And we're still celebrating, so I'm doing this quickly so I can get back to the kids. 

    They're the best kids in the world, but they sure do like to stay up late...

    Oh, never mind... They're asleep.

    Seriously, though...

    Lying in a heap on my family room floor are actually some of the hardest working, most amazing kids I have ever had the pleasure to know and work with on a daily basis.  I learn so much from them and they never cease to inspire me.  Middle included.

    2011 Battle of Baltimore

    So grateful for these kids, and for Middle.  My teenager, who's as tall as me now and has a deep manly voice that makes me wonder who's the stranger in the house during the day. 

    2011 Pumpkin Fest, Enola

    I love and admire him more than I can begin to express in words.

    Thursday, November 10, 2011

    Almost Done

    With the main floor of the house, that is.

    The IKEA Furniture arrives today, and my wonderful friend has offered to put it together with me.  Judging from how the first few pieces went yesterday (the ones that did come home in the car), it's a lot easier with two people, especially when one of them is experienced and patient, and not at all nervous about handing a screwdriver to Little and putting him to work.

    That would be her, not me. :-)

     Yesterday, we made this:

    Today, we could be starting on this:

    Or this:

    Or this:
    Can't wait to see what this all looks like once it's put together and that big open space is finally full and able to be used.  Still need lighing in there, and maybe one more piece of art. And different curtains. 

    This morning, I paid all the bills, including all the purchases and improvements we've made on the house this fall.  Happy to see that it's all paid off with plenty leftover for the staircase and whatever we decide to do upstairs.  Refinancing was a good move. 

    So, to date:  The basement has been reclaimed.  The storage areas are clear of excess clutter and there are plenty of empty shelves available for use.  The trip to the laundry room is no longer an obstacle course.  The toys the kids have outgrown are gone, the game closet is neat and organized and the doors are fixed.  All excess coats are stored there also. The remaining toys, art supplies, science tools, etc. are neatly organized on shelves.  The educational books are neatly organized in two new bookcases.  The TV area features the two oversized chairs from the living room with the ottoman, so it is a comfortable space to watch a movie alone or with friends.

    Upstairs, the old carpet and Pergo has been replaced with hardwood.  The broken kitchen drawer and pantry door have been fixed.  We have a new fridge, microwave and toaster oven.  Fresh paint and new window hardware in the living and dining rooms.  New art on the living room wall, and soon the new furniture as well. 

    Still to be done: the staircase - which the Man looked at yesterday, and the lighting, curtains and art mentioned above.  Maybe a throw rug eventually, but I'm still not ready to cover up the lovely new floor.

    And I might change the green in the hallway.  This winter we will paint the basement walls, and Savageman is working every night to clean out his own basement office so it can be used.

    Little might wind up getting his own room after all, if we have other places to store the books and CDs in the upstairs office.  We haven't even touched the upstairs yet.  Maybe this spring.

    It's all shaping up. 

    Wednesday, November 09, 2011


    It's 10:30 and I'm eating a McFlurry.

    Peanut Butter Cup.

    Very tasty.

    Savageman just brought it home - he's been at the McDonalds with Middle and the karate friends for the last two hours, where it seems he was telling them all about my NaNoWriMo project.  I called to let him know I was coming up on 15,000 words - a quarter of the way to the 50,000 word goal - and he brought me home this treat.

    Savageman's awesome that way.

    I actually started today a full day behind.  Squeezed in some writing while Middle and Little were doing math, and then got the rest of the way caught up this evening.  It meant parking Little in front of the computer for some Netflix viewing tonight, but being caught up again was worth it.

    I've been attempting this every November for several years now, but this is the first time I've really felt good about it.  Good story, good characters... no idea what's going to happen, so it's almost as fun and suspenseful as reading someone else's book. 

    As for the writing itself?  I really don't know.  That's the Inner Editor's department and I fired her for the month.  There are some things that I know she likes, and I'm taking care to remember those for when she comes back.  I'm using colorful verbs.  But I haven't read it over, I haven't changed anything, I just pick up each day with where I left off and move it forward. 

    In NaNoWriMo, it's all about the word count.  No time to worry about anything else.  That's the beauty of it.

    I'm attributing much of my success so far this month to the Fall Declutter Effort.  Clearing my space and my head of the mess and distractions has lightened the load on me considerably. I'm also taking better care of myself, eating well, exercising 2+ hours almost every day, and getting really good sleep.  All of this makes me happier and more productive in general. 

    Good stuff to remind myself if I start feeling dreary later in the winter.  :-)

    I'm going to finish my McFlurry and watch at least part of a movie with Savageman.  It was thanks to his efforts to keep the kids away from me tonight that I got caught up. 

    I think I'll save him the last few bites.

    Tuesday, November 08, 2011

    Today Was Just Plain Awesome

    ... and I'm not just saying that because I didn't spend it trapped inside the Baltimore IKEA.

    Okay, maybe I am.  A little.

    What an amazing, glorious day. Everything felt good. I wrote, spent time with the kids, planned and prepared a special celebratory meal for the Teen (who texted me that he had made the Honor Roll), had time outside, time with friends on the phone... it was a full day.

    And that was without kicking and punching, which I skipped in order to cook the big meal.  I'll be happy to get back to that again tomorrow.  If it's as nice as today was, I'll squeeze a run in as well. 

    Saturday night, a friend asked if I wanted to join her team for this.  I'm thinking about it.  Whether I decide to do it or not, just knowing that it's a realistic, attainable goal at this point makes me feel pretty darn good in itself.  Middle said he'd train with me (although he's too young to participate), and Savageman was supportive as always.  It would certainly be an experience.  And, I am learning, one of the best things I can do as a parent.

    I can lecture the boys until I'm blue in the face about working hard to achieve a goal, embracing a challenge, living life to the fullest, seizing the day, giving something everything you've got and then reaching inside yourself and finding more to give - all that stuff we like to tell kids - but it's the example I set - seeking out new experiences, taking on new challenges - that they will remember. 

    When Middle is pushing himself through a grueling hour of cardio kickboxing class, I hope he occasionally glances across the room at his 42 year old mom and sees she's pushing through the same workout. Although he's been at it longer and is much better than me, for where I am, I'm putting in the time and sweat and doing my very best. Not to please or impress anyone else, not because I'm being forced to do it, just for the sheer joy of mastering a new skill.

    I want nothing less for them.  Life should be one non-stop amazing adventure.

    The best way to cultivate that attitude is to fearlessly live it myself.

    Monday, November 07, 2011

    Land of the Swedish Furniture

    It's 11:43, I'm totally fried, and I'm just sitting down now to do all of today's writing.


    Because I spent the day with Savageman roaming through the Baltimore IKEA store.

    And when I say "the day," I mean the whole day.

    Don't get me wrong, Savageman's a hoot. We have a great time together, especially on the rare occasion we can get away without the kids.

    But furniture shopping together? Not our favorite thing.

    So really, I should be happy that he went at all. And he was excellent company. We had a nice drive to and from, we had a lovely lunch together in the cafe, and we did all kinds of goofy things together with all the amazing props we had at our disposal in the store.

    But making decisions on things - especially things we will have to live with for a long time - it's not easy.

    Part of the reason why it's not easy is the same reason we're such a good team. We approach these situations from completely different angles.

    I would prefer to walk into the place, look around, pick something, pay for it and leave. In like, 5 minutes. If I got it home and it wasn't quite right, I'd simply adjust.

    He needs to think about everything, examine every possibility, look through the catalog, talk to the salesperson, look at all the options again, sit down and think it over... you get the idea.

    As a result, there have been many times that he has talked me out of a purchase that I thought would be perfect - and he was right.   Other times, we wind up with exactly the thing I picked out in 5 minutes, but after taking 6 weeks for him to decide. 

    We only had one day, so we managed to balance each other out - my desire to be quick and efficient and not overthink things, and his desire to ponder more thoroughly - and in the end, we were able to be (relatively) patient with each other and we bought more furniture than we could fit in the minivan, even with the seats down.

    It's being delivered Thursday.

    A whole wall of shelving for our books and CDs, a loveseat and chair, a buffet for the dining room, and a bunch of accessories - our main floor will be just about done, with plenty of storage to (hopefully) keep it clean and uncluttered. 

    But first, I have to put it all together...