Friday, January 23, 2009

progress, a puppy, and pendragons

I have writing progress to report! This makes me so happy! Can I get a gold star?

I sat down last night and started editing the first chapter of my children's novel (It's complete, but not ready to go out yet. Still needs lots of cleaning up, cutting, and character voice). So my writing progress this time isn't how many words I wrote, it's how many words I cut. I worked on the first 2400 words and managed to cut it down by 282 words (which is slightly more than the recommended 10%). I also re-wrote some sections, including the first whole page. The dreaded FIRST PAGE! It must be perfect - most people browsing through a bookstore will only read the first page (or even just the first paragraph) of a book before deciding to put it back, or read more.

Topic #2: the puppy. I broke down and let B get a puppy. Now we haven't had very good luck with dogs so far in our marriage. We've tried a few - his sister "rescues" dogs at the vet clinic she works at and has tried to place several with us. We decided we weren't going to try any adult dogs anymore, they come with too many problems, and we have too many kids to have a problem dog on top of it. That was also my reasoning for not getting a puppy - as if we aren't overwhelmed already with 4 small children running around the house! But B heard about these black lab/rottweiler pupppies at the pound, that there were 9 of them that needed adopting. He brought home an application. He begged me, just go look at them. I said, no way. But then he did a smart thing. He left the application in my purse, and said "I'm leaving it up to you." I would have continued to fight him if he had tried to insist, but when he just gave up and let me decide... well then, awwww shucks... so, now we have a puppy. B, of course, is completely responsible for cleaning up ALL his messes. And 2 weeks now into this adventure, he's keeping his word.

His name is Remington (Remy). He really is heart-meltingly cute. I will report back in 6 months with whether or not I still have a soft spot for him - let's see how much of our house he chews up-

Topic #3 - Pendragons. I really don't have any reason to mention pendragons except that I've always thought it was a neat word and it seemed to go with the post title. What exactly is a pendragon? I envision a tiny dragon the size of a match, and if you try to write with it, it flames out. Personally, Ithink my definition is better than Wikipedia's: Pendragon or Pen Draig, meaning "head dragon" or "chief dragon" (a figurative title referring to status as a leader), is the name of several traditional Kings of the Britons.

In my last blog I had also mentioned parenting frustrations and foolish New Year's resolutions. I'll skip the parenting frustrations, for now (last week was bad, but this week has actually been great with the kids), and as far as resolutions, I've NEVER been able to keep any of them, EVER, for more than like 2 weeks, maybe, probably not even that. So this year I found this quote on one of my friend's Facebook posts and decided to adopt it as my new philosophy: "I think in terms of the day's resolutions, not the year's."

Nevertheless, I did commit to three things this year. One, I signed up for Beth Moore's scripture memory challenge - memorizing two verses a month. I've got Galations 2:20 memorized and now I am working on Matt 9:12-13. Here goes: Jesus said "It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. (check) But go and learn what this means: 'I desire mercy, not sacrifice.' For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners."

Then, I also decided to try to do a Bible read-through this year. I haven't tried this since 2005 (only got about 1/3 of it read), and I haven't actually completed a read through for 12 years now. The first month is always easy, because Genesis is fun to read. I wonder how motivated I'll be when I hit Leviticus. I think this time I'll try to jump around more, for variation.

Finally, I signed up on to try and keep myself motivated to lose weight. It's been two weeks now, and I haven't logged back in yet. Hmmmn...

I'm hoping that the first two challenges will help me on the spiritual side, so I can be more successful on the physical side. But really, it boils down to prayer. That's the only way I can fight the call to the pantry (or, right now, the vending machine...)

Tuesday, January 13, 2009


I was cleaning up old emails out of my inbox when I discovered this one, the final NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) encouragement for 2008. Re-reading this email today was providence, I am sure, because I need that motivation to get back into writing mode - haven't written anything for 2 weeks now (other than blogs). Next time I write a blog (which will be about parenting frustrations, foolish New Years resolutions, and puppies), I WILL have writing progress to report!

From NaNoWriMo:

Jobs. Having a job is one of the greatest, trickiest things you can do as an adult. Employment brings perks like challenges and growth and (sometimes) money. But the longer you work at a job, the easier it is to confuse what you are doing with what you can do.
This is true whether you're a dental hygienist, a stay-at-home parent, or Sirkka-Liisa Anttila, the Forestry Minister of Finland. Because careers tend to be all about specialization. Human beings, on the other hand, contain multitudes. Each of us has a wealth of talents spread broadly over domains both marketable and deliciously impractical. The tricky part is that we tend to develop the former at the expense of the latter. Passions become hobbies. Hobbies become something we swear we'll get back to when we have more time. Or when the kids are grown. Or when the stock market recovers.
Which means we leave unexplored many of those paths that ultimately make us feel most alive—the moments of creating, building, playing, and doing that lead to extraordinary and unexpected things.
Like writing a book.
Or, more loosely, postponing the must-dos of the real world to spend 30 days exploring an attractive, improbable dream.
Giving ourselves that time is so important. Because the world can wait. It's what the world does best, in fact. It was hanging out for 4.5 billion years before we arrived, and it'll be waiting around for another few billion after we're gone.
Our dreams, however, have much shorter shelf-lives.
If there's one thing I've learned from running NaNoWriMo, it's this: Whatever you think you are, you are more than that. You possess a fearsome array of skills and abilities, and the most satisfying of these may be completely unknown to you now. Your curiosity is a dependable guide; follow it. Put yourself in unfamiliar places. Kindle passions. Savor the raw joy of making things, and then remake the best of those things until they take someone's breath away. Wrestle bears.
Actually, skip the bear-wrestling.
But do keep trying big things, okay? Sometimes we can wait so long for a clear sign that it's time to begin, that the opportunity sails right past us.
Life is so short. Adventures beckon. Let's get packed and head out on a new one today.
I think it's time.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

dancing and dreams

I signed up for the 2009 Scripture memory challenge at Beth Moore's blog. My first verse to memorize: Galations 2:20. Okay I am writing it now by memory: I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body (check) I live by faith in the Son of God, (check) who loved me and gave Himself for me.

We are back in Laramie after a lovely week in Kansas preparing for and then celebrating my niece's wedding. The highlight of the wedding, for me: my little Starlet "dancing" with the groom.

When the bride and groom were having their first dance together, the wins both trotted out onto the dance floor with them. While Serious started dancing solo, toddler-style, Starlet went straight to the groom and tugged on his pants until he picked her up!

My stepdaughter really wanted to read my rough draft of my 2nd novel while she was here visiting for Christmas. I warned her it was REALLY rough - I haven't even spell-checked it yet! - but she blazed through the 160 pages and said she really liked it. She really got into my two main female characters and asked if she could assign them fashions, and cars (Kell gets a Lincoln Navigator; Rowen gets a BMW). It was very satisfying for me that she really liked my book - even a half-finished rough draft - but it was also exciting for me that she was reading my first Christian novel. It is full of Scriptures and my characters' ups and downs with their Christian walk. I even had Rowen and Pete share their testimonies with each other in one scene.

I had also had an interesting conversation about dreams with my stepdaughter. We both seem to recall our nightmares better than good dreams, though I have had several wonderful dreams that I call my "heaven dreams" because I believe I was dreaming of heaven (or at least, completely beautiful, otherworldly places; rainbows are something I usually see in these heaven dreams). As I was reflecting on the good dreams vs. the nightmares, I realized that all my nightmares occur within houses, whereas all my good dreams occur in natural settings, usually with water (and rainbows). There are websites that offer suggestions for dream interpretations - for instance "Dreams relating to a house often refers to various aspects of the Self. When trying to analyze the house in your dream, consider also how the house is kept and the condition of it. The rooms in the house relates to facets of your personality" - which makes me wonder if when I dream about aspects of myself, it turns into a nightmare, but when I am dreaming about aspects of God (my heaven dreams) the dreams are heavenly beautiful...

My most favorite dream (after my rare heaven dreams) is a semi-awake dream, not a day-dream but what is a called a lucid dream (wikipedia). All of my story ideas have come from lucid dreams, and are often developed a later points through more lucid dreaming. On the long drive to Kansas, I had a lucid dream about a brand new story idea. I'm still searching for a name for it...right now in my notes I am calling it "Reading in Love" (a take on "Falling in Love") because it is a story of a love between two people that grows from reading a book... not altogether an original idea, I know, but it's my twist on the idea.

So, thanks to "Reading in Love" - my writing progress last week was 1262 words.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Christmas, New Years, Weddings, Hanging Beds, Parrots, Drinking Games, and other assorted adventures

Christmas in the family of little women and a couple beleagured men shall be summarized as usual: it was wonderful, we survived, we are all very poor now. My Christmas project this year was to create (with the help of the girls) our very own Advent Calendar. I wanted a nativity scene calendar, though I had to add a few extra Christmas symbols (candy cane, Christmas tree, poinsettia plant, wreath, bells) in order to come up with a total of 24. But the main point of making our own Advent calendar was so that I could spend a little time each day talking with the girls about the Biblical meaning of Christmas.

A couple days after Christmas we loaded up the minivan till it was dragging its tailpipe and headed off on the 10 hour drive to Salina, Kansas to visit B's family, celebrate the New Year, and prepare for a wedding. Right now we are sharing a house with 15 people, 8 dogs, 3 cats, 2 parrots, and a squirrel. Okay, not so bad as it sounds; the dogs and cats are mostly outside and the squirrel lives in the garage (M.G. works at a vet clinic and often rescues animals). Another interesting aspect of our visit is that B and I are sleeping in T.G.'s hanging bed (all humans younger than 30 years have been relegated to air mattresses). I still have to hear the whole story about this bed, where the idea came from, but there is this huge wooden frame that a regular full size mattress (and box springs) are hanging from, by ropes. Kind of like a gigantic, stiff, well-padded hammock. B and I were a bit dubious sleeping on such a contraption - especially since we are quite heavier than its regular teenage occupant - but fortuntely the contraption did come with four legs that could be swiveled down to provide more stability.

B.'s niece is getting married in less than two days, so for the past few days I have been involved in the fascinating process of altering bridesmaid dresses, assembling corsages and bouquets, making endless bows, and watching a wedding cake being built. I am amazed at the amount of equipment, sugar, and time goes into making a wedding cake. Also, the amount of food that 15 people can go through in a single day.

I thought my days of playing drinking games had ended with college, but here I was 15 years later on New Year's Eve playing "Presidents and A___oles" with an assortment of ages from 70 down to 13 years. Now, don't be shocked, the underage participants were drinking Sprite, and most of the rest of us were refilling with soda, too. I am so happy and proud to announce that you can have an absolute BLAST without anyone getting drunk. My favorite part of the game was the little green man rule. When the president declares this rule, every time you take a drink, you have to first flick the imaginary little green man off the top of your drink, then take a swig, and then hurry up and recapture the little guy and place him back on top of your drink before you can proceed with the game. Another fun rule was having to say something like "yuumm, I like peanut butter cookies" every time you take a drink, or "excuse me, I farted," every time you put your drink down.

I have more to share later about interpreting dreams, what is underneath girls' pony tails, good books and movies, and of course the wedding itself, which is this Saturday.