Thursday, December 31, 2009

Happy Holidays

I will be taking a blogging break to enjoy the holiday season with my family. I will leave you with some thoughts on books and creativity. I will be back to blogging on January 5, 2010.

Quote comes from Wisdom Quotes

Thank goodness I was never sent to school; it would have rubbed off some of the originality. ~ Beatrix Potter

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Happy Holidays

I will be taking a blogging break to enjoy the holiday season with my family. I will leave you with some thoughts on books and creativity. I will be back to blogging on January 5, 2010.

Quote comes from Wisdom Quotes

All children are artists. The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up.
~ Pablo Picasso

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Happy Holidays

I will be taking a blogging break to enjoy the holiday season with my family. I will leave you with some thoughts on books and creativity. I will be back to blogging on January 5, 2010.

Quote comes from Wisdom Quotes

The creative is the place where no one else has ever been. You have to leave the city of your comfort and go into the wilderness of your intuition. What you'll discover will be wonderful. What you'll discover is yourself. ~ Alan Alda

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Happy Holidays

I will be taking a blogging break to enjoy the holiday season with my family. I will leave you with some thoughts on books and creativity. I will be back to blogging on January 5, 2010.

Quote comes from The Quote Garden.

TV. If kids are entertained by two letters, imagine the fun they'll have with twenty-six. Open your child's imagination. Open a book. ~ Author Unknown

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Happy Holidays

I will be taking a blogging break to enjoy the holiday season with my family. I will leave you with some thoughts on books and creativity. I will be back to blogging on January 5, 2010.

Quote comes from The Quote Garden.

My test of a good novel is dreading to begin the last chapter. ~ Thomas Helm

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Favorite Holiday Memories and Traditions

I have many fond memories of Christmases past...
  • Every year as a kid, I got a stuffed animal in my Christmas stocking. I looked forward to that every year. It is a tradition I would love to keep (for me - not for my son - he'd rather have Legos), but I have no where to keep all those stuffed critters.
  • When I was young, I would leave a note for Santa on a Snoopy dry erase board and Santa would leave me a note back Christmas morning.
  • Many Christmases were spent with my mom's sister and her family in northern Illinois. I don't have specific memories of events, but I remember a general feeling of warmth and happiness and family togethernerss.
  • I remember a game I got one year - The Electronic Detective. I remember sitting at the dinner table with my parents playing the game, solving the mystery. I loved that game!
  • I remember how Christmas changed when I became a parent. There is something magical about watching a child take in the lights and the holiday decorations and the stories of Jesus' birth.

I hope you make some wonderful holiday memories this year with your family and friends!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

How Do You Know You Belong?

I have a new "assignment" at church, helping with the development of a group to oversee the assimilation of people into our congregation. Another word we have used for "assimilation" is a "ministry of belonging." It has me wondering what makes me feel like I belong.

I feel like we belong in the community for my son's school because people know us by name. They welcome us. They invite us to engage on a deeper level than just showing up for school. I feel like I belong when I hear the teachers share real things with me or in front of me - things they are concerned about with their students or families. I feel like I belong when people trust me enough to be themselves.

I feel like we belong at our church for the same reasons - people know us, people know our "story" to some extent. They invite us to engage in the day to day life of the congregation rather than just show up on Sunday mornings.

How do YOU know when you belong to a group?

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Some Trust in Chariots and Some in Horses...

... but I trust in the Department of Transportation.

Some of you may recognize the first part - a reference to Psalm 20:7. The ending should read, "but we trust in the name of the Lord our God." This time of year, though, I sometimes forget that.

I hate driving in the winter. I blame it on one accident many years ago on icy roads one night when I was driving to class for graduate school. Ever since then, I grit my teeth through the winter months, wishing away the snow and ice, waiting for the return of spring temperatures. Part of the issue is that I now live far enough "south" that we get more ice than we did in Wisconsin where I grew up. I hate driving on that stuff. The anxiety leads to tense muscles and a short temper.

A couple years ago, I noticed my growing fondness for the DOT trucks I would see out and about bearing their gift of salt and sand. I would cheer inside when I saw them, thinking, "Now, it will be safe." I realized, though, that I was placing entirely too much trust in salt and sand and road temperatures and those large yellow trucks. They bring no guarantee of safety. Instead I remind myself that my trust in the Lord is far better placed than my trust in the Department of Transportation.... although I do pray a prayer of blessing and protection on those plow drivers whenever I see them!

Safe driving this winter season!

Saturday, December 12, 2009

My December Birthday

I have a December birthday, and I love it.

Not only is my birthday in December, but it is also in the same week as Christmas. I wouldn't change that for anything. In fact, my father frequently offered to celebrate it in June, instead, but that would not have been the same. I like my birthday in December because the preparations for Christmas make it feel like a special, magical time. A birthday at another part of the year would just sneak up on you. One day it's not your birthday and the next day it is, and then it is over. A December birthday is surrounded by festivities.

There are downsides, of course. My birthday is late enough in the year that I never celebrated my birthday at school. It is easy for it to get lost in the shuffle of holiday plans when people have too many things on their minds already. I was fortunate that my mother also had a December birthday, although hers was between Christmas and New Year's. She knew what it was like to have a birthday during the holiday season, and she went out of her way to make sure my birthday was no less celebrated than it would have been at any other time of year.

So, to all my fellow December birthday folks I say, "Happy Birthday and Happy Holidays!" I hope your special day is filled with the wonder and magic of this season.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Only Children

At my son's school the other day, I overhead a couple teachers in conversation about a student. One statement was that, often, the child was in charge of the dynamics at home. Then came the words I dreaded. " [The student] is an only child." In fact, this particular teacher has a few only children in her class. Apparently there are some similarities.

These are conversations that make me wary. I am an only child, and my husband and I are raising an only child. I know what a bad rap only children get. I have even known some of "those" sorts of only children - the ones who are self-absorbed, bossy, etc. I work really hard to make sure that (a) I don't act that way and (b) that my son doesn't act that way.

But it is hard to teach an only child not to be bossy. My son has an active imagination that drives 90% of his play. When he plays with others, they can't read his mind and therefore don't play the way he wants them to. I am proud of how he works at this, but it is something that will have to develop over time.

We also work very hard to have clear boundaries with him that we are the ones in charge. But, again, the dynamic of a three person family is just different than a five person family. We include him in decisions about where we want to go for the weekend or what we want to have for supper or what movie we want to watch. I have had to learn, as a parent, to tell him when he doesn't get a vote. We have to make a conscious choice to say it's "Daddy's turn to choose" or else he will think that he is an equal to the adults when it comes to making decisions.

Some people think it is easy to parent just one child. And it some ways it is. But, if the parents are aware of the pitfalls for only children, they have to work hard to parent in a way that diminishes those pitfalls!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009


I realized the other day that something my son and I have in common is that we are "wonderers." We wonder a lot. He asks all the time about how things work. Often, I have no idea. At first, I looked at this as a way we are different. He asks about things I would never THINK to wonder about. I don't care how my car or email work - just that they do.

I, on the other hand, wonder how people work. Someone tells me a story about something another person has done, and my first thought (or even my first audible response) is "I wonder why he does that?" I am far more interested in the things that motivate people -like the experiences from their past that cause them to act a specific way now. I wonder how it is that one person in a family is driven and knows exactly where he or she is going while another flounders. Part of it for me is the idea that if I can figure out what is behind the behavior, maybe the person could change it (if he wanted to).

I'm sure there are Myers-Briggs applications in all this. Perhaps my son is a budding NT, while I am ever more convinced of my NF nature. Whatever it is, I find it more fun now to listen to his wonderings because I know, in a way, that I wonder just like he does.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

More on NaNoWriMo

If writing a 50,000 word novel in the month of November wasn't enough, here are more writing opportunities throughout the year. This was originally published on the NaNoWriMo site here. - National Novel Finishing Month (December). Goal: 30,000 words.

FAWM - February Album Writing Month (February). Goal: Write 14 original songs in a month.

NaNoEdMo - National Novel Editing Month (March). Goal: Commit to 50 hours of novel editing.

Script Frenzy - NaNoWriMo's sister challenge (April). Goal: Write a 100-page screenplay or stage play in April.

RePoWriMo - Refrigerator Poetry Writing Month (April). Goal: Write poetry using only refrigerator poetry magnets.

NEPMo - National Epic Poetry Month (May). Goal: Write 5,000 lines epic poem in May.

SoCNoC - Southern Cross Novel Challenge (June). Goal: Write 50,000 words of fiction.

WriDaNoJu - Write a D*** Novel in June (June). Goal: Write 50K in the 30 days of June. It's perfectly situated six months from November so you have optimum time to prepare for WriDaNoJu and NaNoWriMo.

SoFoBoMo - Solo Photo Book Month (Between May first and June 31). Goal: Create a solo photo book within 31 days.

JulNoWriMo - July Novel Writing Month (July). Goal: 50,000 words for a new or unfinished manuscript.

24 Hour Comics Day - (Changes annually, lasts 24 hours). Goal: Draw a 24-page comic in one 24-hour period.

48 Hour Film Project - (Varies; operates via tours around the USA, lasts 48 hours). Goal: Create a short film in 48 hours.

Book in a Week - (Begins on the Monday of the first full week of each month, lasts one week). Goal: Write a novel.

April Fool's - (April). Goal: Set a word-count goal for yourself and fulfill it by the end of the month.

AugNoWriMo - August Novel Writing Month (August). Goal: Write a novel in one month.

3-Day Novel Contest - (September). Goal: Write a novel in three days. They've been doing this since 1977. So cool!

SeptNoWriMo - September Novel Writing Month (September). Goal: Set a word-count goal and edit, write, or edit and write throughout the month of September!

NaPlWriMo - National Playwriting Month (November). Goal: Write a play in one month.

NaBloPoMo - National Blog Posting Month (Year-Round). Goal: Post every day for a month.

WriYe - (Year-Round). Goal: Set a word-count goal for the year and work towards it between January 1 and December 31.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Meet the Author - David Slonim

I lead a writing club at my son's school, and we had an author/illustrator visit yesterday with David Slonim. The kids were squirrelly with excitement. We heard great information and watched David draw a character from ideas suggested by the students. My son was able to come and get his books autographed. It was an excellent experience.

It was enlightening for me to hear how he came up with the idea for the book He Came with the Couch as well as how things work when he illustrates for another writer. I wrote a picture book a few months ago for an assignment and my mentor said I included too much in the text about how the characters looked - that those things could be taken care of in the illus
trations. Now, I like to sketch and paint here and there but I have no delusions of artistic grandeur. I will not illustrate my own story. But I learned today that the illustrator gets to create the characters on his/her own based only on the story text provided. This gives me a lot to think about as I edit and revise and tweak this story I have drafted based on a particular child near and dear to my heart.

You can find out more about David here. His site has great informati
on, coloring pages and other cool things. And I will be posting more about his visit at my other blog on Friday. Here are a couple pictures from his visit (some faces have been blurred for privacy).

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

NaNoWriMo is finished

As I said on Saturday, I did it. I wrote 50,000+ words on one story in less than 30 days. It was crazy and fun and frustrating and exhilarating all at the same time. In the span of 8 days I went from completely stuck and contemplating quitting to finished.

Is it a great story? No. It has a lot of dead spots that weren't all that exciting to write and I am afraid they will be even more dreadful to read. But there are moments that I really got lost in the story. I am hoping when I revisit those spots, I will still feel that way.

What's next?
1) Nothing, at least as far as this story goes. I have had a couple ideas of how to make it into a real novel - a way to cut out the dead spots and to beef it up to a word count that would work for an actual novel. I want to get those ideas down on paper and then walk away. I have some other writing projects I would like to work on between now and the end of the year, along with enjoying the holiday/birthday season around here.

2) Read it - in January. I will read through it once and see what I think.

3) Type and revise/edit. I tried not to do too much editing. I might have fixed something that was glaringly off base for something I wrote later, but I only did something with it if I could fix it with a different word or two. I did insert some dialogue or draw some arrows to move thoughts around. But it will need a lot more help. As I said before, some of my conflicts aren't big enough. In life I prefer to avoid conflict when I can, but I have realized that even though it makes me uncomfortable, it is a necessary part of an interesting story. Also, if I go ahead with the changes I have been thinking about, it will mean a complete overhaul of this story and a lot more writing. We'll have to wait and see.

So, that's it. A quick summary of my journey to write 50,000 words in a month. We'll have to see what the next year holds to see if I am going to do it again in 2010. I'm not opposed to it, but I am not ready to commit again to the craziness just yet.