6 things I’m loving in September.

I am feeling pretty deep into the throes of September right now. School has been back in session for almost a month now (!!!) and life is starting to fill up with all of the things. Homework, school lunches, after school clubs, school day volunteering (because I have to protect my Super Mom Reputation and also because I not-so-secretly love it).

Add in all of the other things like vet appointments, oil changes and grocery shopping; and the Self Care Goals like hitting the gym regularly, getting in regular writing time at favorite coffee shops and squeezing in lunch dates with my husband. The end result has been pretty hectic days – it’s filled with good stuff, but it’s a LOT of stuff. And after the slow burning days of summer, it can be a hard adjustment.

I’m taking a page from Anne @ Modern Mrs. Darcy (you know, like always) today and sharing some of the things that I’m loving right now in the midst of this busy season, when I kind of want to go talk to a chocolate cake in a dark room for a minute.

  • A great pedicure – My good friend Laura and I have accidentally created a wonderful tradition of getting pedicures together at the beginning of the school year. It’s a nice chance to reconnect after a busy summer and celebrate the return to our regularly scheduled fall lives. And I’ve discovered since then that I love having red toe nails! I almost never paint my finger nails, but there’s something about red toe nails makes me feel like I can rule the world!
  • London Fogs – I’m trying to limit the number of coffee drinks in my life because I hate having nice things or something. I discovered London Fogs maybe a year ago – it’s basically a chai latte but it’s made with Earl Grey tea instead of chai tea. It’s magical and soothing and makes a gloomy day feel a little cozier. It’s been a good substitute for mornings when I still need a latte style indulgence, but maybe with less caffeine. PS: for hot days, I’m digging iced green tea right now.
  • My new purse and lanyard – I mentioned in my last post that I’ve been wearing a tiny cross body bag to hold a few every day essentials. This teamed with a lanyard for my keys (which has apparently become the telltale sound / sign that mom is coming according to my kids) seems to be the magical button answer to not being burdened with a giant heavy bag. I’m trying to cut down on the amount of stuff that I have to carry everywhere and have a little minimalist zen vibe about me. It also makes up for the lack of pockets in my life. #girlproblems
  • This cute Cactus pen! I got this adorable little pen in an Owl Crate a few months ago and it has quickly become my favorite pen. It was good timing, too, because I recently decided that my nice fountain pens really need to start living at home because they don’t seem to like living in my purse. I was really surprised at how nicely this pen writes and the little cactus topper makes me smile every. time. Does anyone else take their pen situation way too seriously?
  • Listening to classical music while I write – So I mentioned making regular writing time for myself during the week. I’ve been taking my laptop to local coffee shops and trying to get in at least an hour of creative writing – either a great blog post or working on a current writing project (of which I have a couple right now). The big problem that I ran up against initially is that I’m very easily driven to distraction. Coffee shops are seriously noisy sometimes between the espresso machines, tables of talking people and adorable children and whatever background music they’ve put on. It’s stuff that I normally love about a coffee shop except apparently when I’m writing. I knew that listening to my own music collection on headphones wouldn’t work either – I’d just find myself rocking out to some good jams and forgetting what I was doing. So after looking up writing background music ideas, I went to Amazon and found this CD by Laura Sullivan called Timeless: The Most Relaxing Classical Piano Music Ever. The title is very accurate and also kind of doesn’t do it justice. It’s seriously terrific writing music and I’ve found myself turning it on while the kids do homework or sometimes when what’s on the radio is feeling extra meh. I’m not a big Classical Music fan tbh, but I love this CD and it’s definitely doing the trick.
  • Watching The Joy of Painting with a cup of coffee in the morning – I know, I’m seriously late to the party. I never watched this show growing up because I was not remotely the target audience. But I put it on at a whim the other morning while the kids were finishing breakfast and quickly found myself in a state of zen. He is the most relaxing man on the planet and his show was way better than I expected. By the end of the half hour, my husband and kids had joined me in the living room and we were all enamored and it was quickly decided that this is Our New Thing. I’m having a little Creative Inspiration moment right now which is definitely helping to feed into my interest in the show, but honestly it’s half inspiration and half therapy. I can be in the worst mood in the morning and five minutes into streaming an episode of Bob Ross painting a waterfall and I’m feeling one million percent chill, inspired and Best Version of Me. What better way to start your morning? Pro tip: It’s streaming on Amazon Prime and Hulu but Amazon Prime has WAY more episodes to watch.

What are you loving right now?

Monday Morning: April 13

Monday Morning Meme at writefromkaren.com

April 13th Questions:

1. How long have you been blogging? Who is your target audience? How often, if at all, do you think about quitting or taking an extended break? What do you do when you start feeling burned out with blogging? I’ve been blogging a little over a year. My target audience? I suppose it’s fellow mommies and anyone else who might be interested in the goings on of my life. Basically it’s the eight of you who may or may not be reading right now. 😛 I very occasionally feel burnt out from blogging, usually because I’ve started to “care too much.” But typically I’ll just take a day or two off or try a new approach, even if it’s only in my mind. I’ve only been blogging a year so it really hasn’t been an issue yet and at the heart of it, I’m really just doing this for me.

2. What’s on your mind now? ::laughs:: What isn’t on my mind? Yesterday was Easter so we just saw family, ate good food, MM got to participate in Easter Egg hunts at both families’ which was fun and he was adorable. We had a great time and I’m berating myself for being a terrible mommy blogger and not taking any pictures. And you know… the job hunt. Still no word yet from Dream Company but it’s still earlyish, who knows. Dan applied to a bunch of jobs this morning and we took some long walks, did laundry, etc. Productive yet relaxing. Now the boys are both napping and I’m squeezing in some bloggy time – yay!

3. If you were able to live to the age of 90 and retain either the body or the mind of a 30-year old for the last 60 years of your life, which would you want? Explain your answer, please. I think I’d take the brain of a 30 year old. I think that accepting the physical aging process is a good thing to do – those wrinkles and what have you are a sign of where you’ve been, the gray hairs – they are worth every minute. But the memory loss that comes with age? It would be nice to skip that, to stay sharp and really be able to remember every little second – or you know, as much as possible. It’s not like my memory is so hot now to begin with. 😛

4. What would you constitute a “perfect” evening for you? Perfect would mean that MM ate his entire dinner without complaint, didn’t kick and scream his way to bed time and that we enjoyed every minute of the day together. Dinner would have come out perfectly and / or been prepared by someone else. We’d have a great movie or favorite tv show to look forward to or maybe play a board game or get together with friends. I’d go to bed tired but content and actually fall asleep when my head hit the pillow.

Your turn.

Thoughts On Blogging

Last night’s blog post inspired me to rethink the way I blog. It felt so refreshing to simply open up a new post and write what I was thinking and try to spin my ideas in a creative way and really say what I was feeling in this moment. A blog is a funny thing because it is both a diary and a public soap box of sorts. Am I an entertainer, providing material for your viewing pleasure or a journalist chronicling my thoughts for myself to look back on, as well as future generations of my family? I know it’s both – but sometimes, lately, I think I only worry about the first part, which doesn’t make a ton of sense. I’m not Dooce and I don’t need to hold myself accountable to you, my audience.

I’m not stating that from this moment on I will only write “diary” style entries with no memes – I’ve tried to limit myself to less memes in the past and it doesn’t work because I like memes. But sometimes I think I cut my thoughts short and limit my “posts per day” if you can conceive of such a thing, out of fear of being a bother – of bugging you guys too much or something. That’s absurd – this is my blog – if I have something to say, even if it’s god forbid another meme, where say it but here? I don’t expect any of you loyal readers to read every word I write – I know that I don’t always deliver the same amount of attention to your blogs, although I try. It’s like last week, on the In My Opinion video meme I recorded about whether society or the individual should be placed first – I think that my ‘healthy balance between the two’ has been skewed – for no real reason.

So what am I saying? I’m probably going to start writing more – because I don’t feel the need to limit my current level of memeing but I don’t think I’m doing nearly enough just journaling of my life. Last night’s post felt so real to me, so current and relevent to my soul and with so many big changes coming – a new baby and soon a new job for Dan and maybe a new home – I want to make sure I’m writing all this stuff down and getting my thoughts out there to look back on later, or maybe to share with my family someday – heck if I actually start writing stuff of worth I could even publish some of this stuff as a book someday. You know, it could happen.

Weekend Diversions: Dangerous Drinks, Double Nerd Scores & Dozens of Dozens of Bloggers Block Solutions

It’s time for another helping of Weekend Diversions. Here are a handful of the interesting, intriguing and worthy of note things that I’ve stumbled across this week while surfing the ye old net:

First off, two very cool keyboard-related pieces. I saw this first one on woostercollective.com, it’s a monument to the keyboard, found in the streets:

I found this next one at Gizmodo and it is slightly more usable and equally cool, who wouldn’t want their very own homemade Scrabble-style keyboard?

This keyboard was made using real scrabble tiles with the points score slightly modified to show each key’s secondary function. Um and it’s absolutely drool worthy. Feel free to make me one – or send my husband an email asking HIM to make me one. Wouldn’t this be the coolest Valentine’s Day present? ::cough::hinthint::cough::

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These next two have absolutely nothing to do with computer keyboards, scrabble or stone gardens. But they have EVERYTHING to do with beverages and sharks. Want to add a spice of danger to your daily drinks? You’ll really feel like you’re living on the edge with this Shark Fin Ice Tray.

I found this at OhGizmo! and I was like, “Oh that’s cool – but do I need another ice cube tray? For me personally, I’d pass on this one, cool as it is, and instead opt for this Shark Fine tea infuser, which I found over at Baekdal. Because I drink tea like every morning and I think it would be awesome to brew it with this bad boy.

This one was part of a design competition at Design Boom (it won 3rd place) and I can’t see any way to actually going about purchasing one. Maybe my husband could make me one of these, too? Engineers do that kind of stuff, right?

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Okay this last thing is a list of 101 Post Ideas For Your Mom Blog, found at the Mom Bloggers Club. Some examples for anyone suffering from Bloggers Block right this second…

39. If I could change one thing in this world it would be ________________.

66. My fondest dating / wedding moment is _______________.

90. When I lie awake at night, I think about _______________.

Well that wraps up this week’s Weekend Diversions. I hope you all have a very lovely diverted weekend. I’ll see you Monday!

Novel Update & Words Of Encouragement From The Professionals

My word count right now is 10,021 and I’m feeling a mixture between proud, because I’m not sure I’ve ever done this well with a NaNoWriMo as far as consistency, and concern that my novel is complete utter crud. I mean I like bits and pieces, but as a whole, it’s probably terrible. But I guess that’s in some ways the thing with NaNoWriMo – the goal is to simply get yourself writing and edit later. Which, as a former newspaper editor, is kind of painful for me. But I’m jumping around and letting loose a bit and it’s starting to get fun. I’m anxious to see where this story takes me.

Like most of you, I’m sure, I’m getting these emails from famous authors from the NaNoWriMo peeps chock full of information and quotes. The first two have been from Jonathan Stroud and Phillip Pullman, both authors that I think are pretty awesome. I read the entire His Dark Materials trilogy and consider Pullman a sort of literary god. I started reading Stroud’s Bartimaeus trilogy a year back and never finished but not for lack of quality so much as time and a huge pile of reading I had to do at the time for other things. Somehow I never found my way back, but I know I will be eventually because it was good stuff. Anyway, that’s hardly the point. I really just wanted to post some quotes from those two emails for anyone looking for a bit of inspiration and for myself for posterity’s sake, unless I’m using the phrase wrong. And then it’s for something else entirely. So yeah…

Quotes from Philip Pullman on NaNoWriMo:

…[T]he first thing you need to remember is that a long journey can’t be treated like a sprint. Take your time…

…One of the hardest things to do with a novel is to stop writing it for a while, do something else, fulfill this engagement or that commitment or whatever, and pick it up exactly where you left it and carry on as if nothing had happened. You will have changed; the story will have drifted off course, like a sh ip when the engines stop and there’s no anchor to keep it in place; when you get back on board, you have to warm the engines up, start the great bulk of the ship moving through the water again, work out your position, check the compass bearing, steer carefully to bring it back on track … all that energy wasted on doing something that wouldn’t have been necessary at all if you’d just kept going! …

…The question authors get asked more than any other is “Where do you get your ideas from?” And we all find a way of answering which we hope isn’t arrogant or discouraging. What I usually say is “I don’t know where they come from, but I know where they come to: they come to my desk, and if I’m not there, they go away again.” That’s just another way of emphasising the importance of regular work…

…When I hit page 70 with my very first novel, I thought: I’m never going to finish this. I’ll never make it. But then stubbornness set in, and I thought: well, if I reach page 100, that’ll be something. If I get there, I reckon I can make it to the end, wherever that is. And 100 is only 30 pages away, and if I write 3 pages every day, I can get there in ten days … why don’t I just try to do that? So I did. It was a terrible novel, but I finished it…

…Every novelist I know—every novelist I’ve ever heard of—is, or was, a passionate reader. I don’t doubt that someone with determination and energy, but who didn’t read for pleasure, who only read for information, could actually write a whole novel if they set their mind to it and followed a few rules and guidelines; but would it be worth reading?…

…On the other hand, if you do love reading, if you cannot imagine going on a journey without a book in your pocket or your bag, if you fret and fidget and become uncomfortable if you’re kept away from your reading for too long, if your worst nightmare is to be marooned on a desert island without a book—then take heart: there are plenty of us like you. And if you tell a story that really engages you, we are all potential readers…

Quotes from Jonathan Stroud on NaNoWriMo:

You could write a novel about the act of writing a novel. It’s a heroic act. (Or so I tell myself as I sit here in my garret study, chewing my nails, scratching my nose and staring blankly at my screen. That’s what this is, I say grimly: a heroic act.) Why is it so heroic? Because it fits the mythic pattern of all great legendary heroes’ lives. It’s the story of a mighty quest accepted, of a long journey undertaken, of insuperable obstacles overcome and finally—in your case after 30 painful days—of lasting triumph won…

…At the beginning there’s a kind of honeymoon period, where I’m pretty excited by the idea in my head, and the possibilities it evokes. Sure there are a zillion details to be worked out later, and plenty of things that don’t yet mesh, but that’s ok—we’ve lots of time. I write the odd fragment and chuckle over the occasional piquant joke. I do a bit of research, visit museums wearing black roll-neck sweaters, scribble ideas down on napkins in coffee houses. It’s a pleasant calm before the storm…

…Then things darken a little. Time is pressing. I want to get to grips with the novel, but I haven’t a clue how. This is the ‘phony war’ period. I now apply myself seriously to work, but the trouble is that it doesn’t hold together. Scenes start promisingly but peter into nothing. Main characters turn out to have all the zest of a cardboard box abandoned in the rain. Dialogue is lousy. Description descends into wall-to-wall cliché. No fragment lasts more than two or three pages before being printed off and tossed aside. And still the real writing hasn’t begun….

…The heroic quest deteriorates into a dog chasing its tail…

…That’s why a deadline—like the one you’re working to—is such a good idea…

…I did exactly the same thing you’re doing this November, and set myself a strict schedule of pages per week to get the first draft done. In my case this worked out at about 100 pages per month for 3-4 months. Each day I kept strict records of what I achieved; each day I tottered a little nearer my goal. Five pages per working day was my aim, and sometimes I made this easily. Other times I fell woefully short. Some days I was happy with what I got down; some days I could scarcely believe the drivel that clogged up the page. But quality was not the issue right then. Quality could wait. This wasn’t the moment for genteel self-editing. This was the time when the novel had to be dragged, kicking and screaming, into existence, and that meant piling up the pages….

…This is just a first draft, after all. It doesn’t have to be a perfect thing. I once met an author who claimed only to write when actively inspired. She was a fine and venerated writer, so I didn’t let my jaw loll open too widely in her presence, but I didn’t really buy her claim, and I still don’t buy it now. If ‘inspiration’ is when the words just flow out, each one falling correctly on the page, I’ve been inspired precisely once in ten years. All the rest of the time, as I’ve been piecing together my seven novels, it’s been a more or less painful effort. You write, you complete a draft in the time you’ve got, you take a rest. Then—later, when you’ve recovered a little—you reread and revise. And so it goes. And little by little the thing that started off as a heap of fragments, a twist of ideas trapped inside your head, begins to take on its own shape and identity, and becomes a living entity, separate from yourself….

…So what does my advice boil down to? Sweat blood, churn out the pages, ignore the doldrums, savour the moments when the words catch fire. Good luck with your novels. Those old legendary heroes may not have sat around like us drinking cold coffee and tapping steadily at their keypads, but for them—and for us—it’s the journey that’s the thing. That’s where the fun is.

How are your novels coming, fello NaNoWriMo-ers?

Do You NaNoWriMo?

So is anyone else planning to write a novel next month? Have you ever tried? I’ve “tried” but have yet to finish. But I’ve always been in college during previous attempts and did you know there are a lot of big exams in November? In hindsight it wasn’t my best idea. Or I’m the hugest procrastinator and excuse maker ever. One of those.

But so I’ve had this story idea flitting through my head since like um a year ago. It’s changed about eighty gazillion times since then so that if I told you about the first version and the current version you probably wouldn’t believe me when I told you they were related. Maybe I’m only pretending they’re related. But if I don’t start writing soon I don’t think I ever will and what’s left of this story might disappear altogether.

The nice thing about letting it flit through for the past year is that I think I have the core of this story down. I’m not going to “forget” it just yet because I’ve been thinking about it on and off for a year now. Maybe that means this is the “one” – that soon I’ll be the next Stephenie Meyer or Libba Bray or Janet Evanovich or whatever? People will KNOW my NAME and I’ll probably need to start a new blog or start mentioning who I am on this blog. Because I’ll be famous. All thanks to NaNoWriMo.

Or at least, I’ll have fun this month pulling my hair out and trying to do something productive for myself for a month and pretend that my English Degree really does mean something now because, “Look, I’m writing a novel!”

I’ll post the details of my story at some point maybe. I have this weird fear that someone will steal my idea like it’s really that brilliant. So maybe I’ll just include a word count or something or a sentence snippet until it’s done and copyrighted?

Anyone else doing the NaNoWriMo? What are you writing about? Wanna be my writing buddy?