Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Winner Winner...

...chicken dinner!

Somewhere down the road I owe this space three decent blog posts to make up for these last three sad ones for the end of NaBloPoMo. I have been really scrambling the last three days to make up for all the time I didn't spend writing while we were in Florida. I had to write about 10,000 words today to meet the 50,000 word goal by the time National Novel Writing Month ended and I did it! It was insane and I spent every free moment typing away.

The turn my story took at the end means that it isn't actually finished. The whole thing is incredibly flawed but it is there. Maybe I will pick it up again and finish the story or maybe not, but it always feels good to set a goal and reach it.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Home Stretch, Part II

I appear to have brought a cold home from vacation. This is not necessarily the type of souvenir I like to have to remember my travels by. I am feeling both cranky and whiny tonight, which is not a great combination for accomplishing anything.

The good news is, it is the time of year for listening to Christmas music - an effective mood-booster. The Piano Guys, A Family Christmas, is my album of choice at the moment, but there are so many good ones to choose from. What are your favorites?

Monday, November 28, 2016

Home Stretch

I'm a little under-motivated for blog posting today. I think nine days away is finally catching up with me and I'm feeling a bit overwhelmed with all the Christmas prep that now needs to be done! Only two more days in National Blog Posting Month and in National Novel Writing Month - I could use a little boost to get both done, but what I really want is to curl up and go to sleep.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Draft Day #4 'Tis Better to Give Than Receive

Ah, the final draft day post. And this brings me to the end of the random drafts I had sitting in Blogger. I think I saved the best for last!

When Harper was in kindergarten we decided to throw a big birthday party for her and invite the whole kindergarten class. It just so happens that good family friends of ours have a son whose birthday is about two weeks before Harper's and they were in the same kindergarten class. We decided to combine forces and throw a big party at the local rec center. We spent about an hour with snacks and games in a large multi-purpose room and then went swimming.

The only hang-up I had about having such a large party was that Harper really did not need 30 birthday gifts. We talked with the kids and they agreed to forego gifts in order to have a big party with all their friends. Instead of gifts for the birthday boy and girl we collected items for Toys for Tots.

What I found in my drafts were pictures of the day the children dropped the toys off at the collection barrel in our library:



Saturday, November 26, 2016

Road Weary

Earlier today I read a friend's Facebook post - she was in the car with a crying baby on the way home from visiting out of town family. We drove many a mile with a screaming child in an infant seat, so I really empathized with her. A little later she posted a picture of the child, then fast asleep. So all's well that ends well. I had a fleeting moment of thankfulness that we were past that stage of life.

We should have moved beyond screaming tantrums in the car, but Michael, our child of routine, has spent the last two days behaving as if he fell right from the pages of The Berenstain Bears and Too Much Vacation. After horrendous traffic nearly the entire stretch between Orlando and Atlanta, we've finally stopped for the evening near Knoxville, Tennessee. Michael is already crashed in the hotel bed, but he spent the last hour of the drive maniacally tormenting everyone in the car. He was also up, laughing hysterically, in the middle of the night last night and refused to be still and try to fall back asleep. He's thrown a fit today about choosing a bed, car snacks, dinner, where his headphones were, and how Harper's looked at him. It's a wonder we didn't toss him out of the car on I-75.

It probably has to do with his being tired, having had more snacks and less nutritionally sound meals than his body is used to, and the disappointment of our vacation coming to an end. He gets into these moods and rants that are almost impossible to snap him out of. He becomes completely unreasonable and the rest of us just have to hang on and try to survive Hurricane Michael. I sincerely hope this is something he grows out of as he gets older, although at this point I'm just hoping tomorrow is a little easier than today. We've got a good four hours of road time left...

Friday, November 25, 2016

Flashback Friday #4

I thought it would be fun, for the last Flashback Friday of this blog posting month, to flashback to the last time we were at Disney with both kids. Harper was about to turn 7 and Michael was about 3-and-a-half. Michael was probably a little on the young side for what I would consider an ideal Disney experience, especially since we had a stroller with us. The upside of the stroller was that we had all that extra space for storing whatever stuff we were schlepping around the parks.

One of my favorite things about this particular trip was that Michael told every single character we met that we were staying in a condo. It was adorable. I looked back in the blog to see if I'd written much about our trip or posted pictures and I had hardly posted anything! Oops. I wish I'd kept better track of that trip in this space. Oh well.

Michael was still perfecting the art of the funny face.
Michael was a little uncertain about the characters. Also? He called them mascots. 

By the end of the trip he'd warmed up a bit, especially toward the princesses, no joke. 
Here's an odd side note... seeing these pictures really makes me miss dressing little kids. They looked so cute and put together all the time. I'd like a four year old again, just for the dressing!

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Thankful Thursday - The Fourth

At the risk of sounding incredibly cliche, what an abundance of blessings this last week has made clear! It's been a highlight of so many of the best parts of my life: the weekend with friends I've held dear for over twenty years, time with my family in the "Happiest Place on Earth," crossing paths with friends from different parts of our lives and sharing vacation moments in a way I wouldn't have imagined possible, and lots of loving texts from the pieces of family we aren't sharing this holiday with - I'm even grateful for the technology allowing me to see my adorable nephew in his Thanksgiving finest this morning.

I know, in a logical way, all of the things I have to be grateful for on a daily basis - food, education, electricity, love, all of it and so much more. But there is a difference between understanding what you should be grateful for and deeply feeling gratitude. I think it sometimes makes me seem silly, but there are moments when I pause and just think, "I am so happy right now." Occasionally I even say it out loud, which usually garners me odd glances from my companions. Seriously though, I have had many of those moments this week, this month, even, and I'm even grateful for the ability to stop in a beautiful moment and allow it to wash over me.

We ate some darn good carved turkey sandwiches in a castle for lunch today - I hope, wherever you are and whoever you're with, your meal and company are equally magnificent!

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Pro-Tip

Sunday morning I sat in an aisle seat, waiting for my flight to travel from Nevada to Florida. There was a gentleman who was one of the last on the plane to take his seat and reluctantly sat in the middle seat next to me. As he sat down he grumbled something about hoping it wasn't row 13, which, clearly, it was.

After the flight attendant confirmed that it was the 13th row, I said, "Don't worry about it, I'm pretty sure all the rows are going to have the same luck."

The flight attendant cracked up - it was quite gratifying.

Seriously though, if you've ever heard of an airplane having a problem with only the 13th row crashing, let me know. Otherwise I think we can sit in row 13 with confidence.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Dispatch from The Happiest Place on Earth

A brief entry from a busy day. Here is a pro/con comparison for this day of Thanksgiving Vacation:
  • Con - children cannot seem to leave bickering habits at home and drive parents to the brink of insanity while they are supposed to be having the time of their lives.
  • Pro - things fall into place to meet up with great friends from home and run around after dark sharing a bunch of adventures.
We are having a great time, but I wish there was a suspension of sibling nonsense that magically settled over holidays, vacations, etc. If anyone has some Pixie Dust that makes such a thing possible, please share.

Monday, November 21, 2016

Tables Turned

There have been two instances recently when I've had the experience of being on the other side of food allergies, as in, I have encountered situations where someone has a food allergy and that someone was not my child.

This year Michael has a boy in his class who is allergic to nuts like Harper is. Early on in the school year we received a letter requesting students to sign-up to pack nut-free one day a week to sit at the nut free table with this student. It is exactly the same system we used for Harper all through elementary school and, year after year, I was touched by the efforts made by so many school families to ensure she had friends to eat with. In fact, I think the letter I received is the exact same one that I used to send. Of course Michael is eating with his friend at the nut-free table once a week.

On Friday when I was flying out to Las Vegas, I actually had a stash of Snickers bars that were pilfered from the Halloween haul. We do not keep or eat nuts in the house. But it was Harper's idea that I put all the Snickers in a bag, freeze them, and have them for my trip. Years ago I probably would not have done that, but both the kids are old enough now that I wasn't worried about someone getting in to them - they both understand the potential for danger. I was unlikely to eat all the Snickers bars on the plane ride, but I was looking forward to nibbling them. And I failed to pack anything else to eat - not really thinking through that the flight was 4.5 hours long.

As we were getting ready to depart the crew made an announcement that there was someone on board with a nut allergy, not nuts or nut products would be served, and would we please refrain from opening and consuming any food we'd brought with us that might contain nuts. The friend I was traveling with hadn't eaten and, of course, had packed a peanut butter sandwich. Obviously we didn't eat our peanut products and, even though I had to delay gratification for a bit with the Snickers, it wasn't the end of the world.

In gratitude for all the people who have gone out of their way to help us keep Harper safe over the years, I'm more than happy to return the favor.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Draft Day #3 Summer Reading

I loaded the following photos on June 17, 2009. Harper would have been about four and a half years old. I believe it was the first summer we fully participated in our local library's summer reading program.




Someone was pretty proud of her yard sign!

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Vegas, Baby!

Before yesterday I hadn't been on a plane since I was pregnant with Michael. Let that sink in for a moment please... Yes, it had been about nine years. I've not been a huge fan of flying since I was a child, but this trip I was pretty nervous, just because it had been so long.

It did a lot to calm my nerves when, right before he got on the bus yesterday morning, Michael looked at me and said, "Are you sure nothing with go wrong with the plane?" Of course I chirpily replied that all would be well, but my stomach was rolling all day.

All's well that ends well and we arrived in Las Vegas largely without incident. There were a few moments of turbulence - it was a tiny bit nerve-wracking when the pilot called the flight attendants back to their seats - but even that wasn't so bad.

I was fortunate to fly with another of my roommates so I wasn't by myself on the plane. And we ended up sitting in a row with a person who is a senior at the college we attended, hopefully our little Vegas excursion will provide some squad goals for her and her college friends.

And now we're here and I'm looking forward to whatever this day will bring, but I'm not very likely to write about it...

Friday, November 18, 2016

Flashback Friday #3

When I left Wisconsin to go to college in Ohio I was blessed with an incredible group of women who became my friends and roommates. I was fortunate to have many friends at my school and to still be in contact with a number of them today. Years ago I let Matt know that I was definitely going to want to celebrate my 40th birthday. He also knew that, more than just about anything, I would want to do it with the five women who were my housemates our junior and senior year of college. I wasn't counting on it, however, because many of us have children (lots younger than my own) and we're pretty thoroughly scattered throughout the country. A couple in Ohio (but in different cities), a couple in St. Louis, one in Seattle, and one in San Diego. We had a full reunion (all of us present) in Chicago about nine years ago. Since then we've been together twice more, for one or another's weddings, but the bride doesn't typically get a ton of time to hang out with her college roommates when she's getting married.

Being the thoughtful and awesome husband that he is, Matt worked behind the scenes to put together a big surprise for this November. He arranged for all six of us to spend the weekend together in Las Vegas. And that weekend is happening now! We haven't all be in the same place in almost three years and now we get a whole weekend. I am out of my mind with excitement. 

Here's a look back at some of our greatest hits:

At our house Christmas party, December 1998. Please note the awesome paintings on the wall behind us - our very own artwork from the year before. Each of us still has one of the other girls' paintings in our possession today.


Here we are on the steps of the capitol building in Denver, Colorado. We took a road trip to Breckenridge to celebrate graduation back in May of 1999. We met up in St. Louis and drove a rented minivan out west. It was spectacular..


Who can forget Y2K? Here we are at my friend's parents' house in St. Louis, all dolled up to go downtown and ring in 2000.

I cannot wait to live it up with these ladies this weekend, but I can't promise any pictures. You know what they say about Vegas...

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Thankful Thursday - The Third

Dear Harper,

This month I've been using Thursdays to post about things I'm thankful for. Today my thankful day just happens to coincide with your 12th birthday. So here, in no particular order, are a few things about you that I'm thankful for:

  • I'm thankful you came along 12 years ago and made me a mother.
  • I'm thankful, despite the fact that it drives me crazy much of the time, for your sense of independence. You are not afraid to do you own thing and that will serve you well as you get older.
  • I'm thankful that you are able to use the ups and downs you experience in your friendships to cultivate a kind and compassionate heart.
  • I'm thankful that, despite the fact that I am certain I drive you crazy much of the time, you talk to me and tell me about what is going on with dance, and school, and your friends.
  • I'm thankful that I have the opportunity to watch you discover your talents and interests - this year it has been especially fun to witness how you love your science class and your blossoming interest in the violin.
  • I'm thankful you love books and that we get to talk about the great books we read. 
  • I'm thankful we get to share a love of music and theater. (And by the way, I predict you'll love Hamilton, eventually!)
  • I'm thankful for all these years of watching you express your passion for dance.
  • I'm thankful that you work hard at school, even on the nights when we need to tell you to just go to bed already, and that your efforts are paying off.
  • I'm thankful that you're not too old or too cool to hug your mom and dad goodnight before you go to bed.
  • I'm thankful for the hope that you and I will continue to learn how to grow together and have a good relationship, despite the rocky terrain we'll encounter in the years to come. 
I love you, Harper, and I hope you've had a great birthday!

Love,
Mom

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Fortune Teller

About a week ago I had a lunch meeting with some other library media people. We went out for Chinese and the following message was in my fortune cookie:

Use your abilities at this time to
stay focused on your goal.
You will succeed.

Message received.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

This is 40

I know not everyone is a fan of having their birthday on Facebook. And I'm not always great about wishing people happy birthday on Facebook. But today I enjoyed reading greetings from relatives and friends old and new.

This morning a good friend of mine showed up before school started with breakfast for me.

Several students went out of their way to stop by in the library and wish me a happy birthday.

I came home to balloons (40 of them!) and a 6-pack of Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Ale from other family friends. (The ale was delicious, by the way.)

We dropped Harper off at dance and I got to go to dinner with Michael and Matt.

I took a tap class.

Finally I spent some time with my National Novel Writing Month novel and I'm actually on track to hit the 50,000 world goal for the month - I surpassed 25,000 words today. I'm really flying by the seat of my pants, but I'm doing it.

Not a bad start to the next decade, if I do say so myself.

Monday, November 14, 2016

Take a Deep Breath

Dear Michael,

Tomorrow the third graders in your school, including you, will take your first "high stakes" standardized test. It is part of a requirement in our state. Third graders will take the test this fall and have another opportunity to take it in the spring because students must pass before they advance to the fourth grade. Well, it's a little more complicated than that, but that's the gist of it.

Even though Dad, myself, and your teacher think you'll do just fine on the test you are very, very worried about it. You've been talking about this test for a couple of weeks and tonight you were anxious to the point of crying about it.

I wish there was something we could say or do that would help you relax, but I know there probably isn't.

I think these tests put schools in a difficult position, there's a lot of pressure for schools to perform well and they need students to take the test seriously. The result is that it gets communicated to the students as being a very big deal. Dad and I may have added to the pressure without meaning to. We've reminded you to take your time (you tend to rush) and to read directions carefully (again, you tend to rush), and then to do your best.

It's a little early in the game to know what kind of test-taker you'll be as you get older, but we already have some evidence that these kinds of standardized tests may not be the best way for you, personally, to show what you know. These sorts of things come more easily to some students than others.

But here's what Daddy and I (and I bet your wonderful teacher, too) really want you to know:

We love you. We love you for who you are and what you are capable of. You are more than the grades on your report card. You are so much more than the score of one test. You are your enthusiasm for baseball. You are your kindness to the children around you. You are the love you have for your family. You are all of this and so, so much more. No matter what happens on that test, we love you and we're proud of you. There's no number in the world that can change that.

Love,
Mom

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Draft Day #2: Baby Michael

This "draft" was sitting my folder from April 9, 2009, which means Michael just over a year old in these photos. There was not title on the draft so I didn't know what to expect when I pulled it up. These images surprised me and then I had myself a good long cry about the fleeting nature of childhood. Ahem.





I mean, I know this isn't the same for most of you as it is for me, but doesn't your heart just melt at that sweet little boy? I would like to go back in time and snuggle him when he was that size just for a few minutes, please? Excuse me while I go miss that baby a bit.

Happy Sunday, pass the tissues.

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Harper, Meet Dar

Tonight, barring something completely unforeseen in the next two hours, I'm heading to Columbus, Ohio, to take Harper to her first Dar Williams concert. I'm trying to temper my expectations because I know the likelihood of Harper being as excited as I am are slim. I know that this evening is unlikely to be momentous for her, but I've been waiting years to see Dar Williams live with Harper. The last time she played anywhere near us it was on a weeknight and a testing week so keeping Harper out late seemed ill-advised.

This is a special show we're going to see. It's part of a tour during to mark the 20th anniversary of Dar's Mortal City album release. That album was released while I was in college and a song from it, "Iowa," was the first Dar Williams song I ever heard. My college roommate got the CD for her birthday, or maybe Christmas, and we listened to that song on repeat for weeks. (We were big on songs on repeat.)

Here's a video Dar's team created of fans holding up the lyrics to, "Iowa," which I'm very much looking forward to hearing tonight:




Friday, November 11, 2016

Flashback Friday #2

I'm feeling nostalgic today - adulting has been difficult this week. So here's a picture of me in third grade, with a pictures of Harper and Michael, also in third grade, for comparison: 



My third grade teacher was Mrs. Boehm and she was in one of her first years of teaching. I went to a very small grade school so that year second and third grades were in one classroom with one teacher. There were twenty of us in that class. Sadly, I don't remember a ton of specifics from that year of school, although I know I loved my teacher. We used to go out for a fish fry on Friday nights and often ran into her at a particular restaurant - which was always a bit of a thrill. 

Several years ago I ran into her at some kind of fundraiser or event. It was funny to reminisce as an adult and someone who has also been a classroom teacher. The year I had her I guess the 2nd and 3rd graders did not go to "specials" classes together. So when we went to gym or music, Mrs. Boehm still had the 2nd grade students. When they went, she was left with us 3rd graders. Teachers also used to have to take turns supervising the lunch room and maybe recess, too. It sounds like she didn't have any planning or grading time! Looking back, I bet that job was a bit of a nightmare. She was professional enough that we had no idea. 

What I do remember about third grade was that two new students, girls, joined our class that year. We had a little trouble getting along all the time. At one point we set up some sort of recess schedule to determine who would play with each other on which days - in an attempt to end our arguing about it. Ah, grade school drama!

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Thankful Thursday - The Second

Today's thankful thoughts, in no particular order

1. I'm thankful for a school community where parents are invested in their children's education and want to support the work of the teachers and administrators.

2. I'm thankful that Matt is home after being away for work since Sunday. It was the fourth time in five weeks that he had to travel for work - I'm thrilled that we are through that stretch. Life is so much better when we can play the kids man-to-man.

3. I'm thankful for the birthday card I received from my wonderful goddaughter today. I can't believe she's a senior in high school and I'm so excited to see what the future holds for her.

4. I'm thankful for the tender hearts of good friends near and far and the outpouring of love and support I've seen shown this week. We really do belong to each other.

Wednesday, November 09, 2016

Some Days

Motherhood is getting up early,
combing the hair,
packing the lunch,
signing the form,
writing the check,
dropping off and picking up and dropping off again,
washing the grapes,
cleaning up dog puke,
hands in soapy dishwater,
scrubbing the scum from around the sink,
returning the library books,
checking the homework,
finding the reassuring words,
and going to bed...
knowing you are going to get up and to it all again.
When you feel like it, but especially when you do not.

Tuesday, November 08, 2016

Democracy!

I don't tend to speak publicly about my political affiliations. There are lots of reasons for that. Some of it is related to Matt's job. Some of it is related to my views vs. the general views of some of the communities I'm a part of. For better or worse, I'm not interested in inviting hostility into my workplace or relationships with my neighbors because of differing political views. I have been quite anxious leading up to this election, more than any past I can recall. But today I woke up feeling excited because I. Love. Democracy.


I know there are lots of things wrong in our political system, but I refuse to be cynical about this process we have a right to participate in. I do my best to pay attention to the issues and I am proud to vote in even our small, local elections. I try to impress upon our children the importance of exercising the right to vote. 

This year, the nature of the election has necessitated lots of extra discussion about respect in our house. And, I will admit, there have been times when I have found it a challenge to speak respectfully about all the candidates. Who knows what my children will hear when they go back to school tomorrow. Over and over again I have repeated that, in our house, we will speak with respect about our president and we will treat everyone with respect, regardless of who they voted for. 

Harper has commented a couple of times that she doesn't, "like," this candidate or that candidate. This year I have challenged her on that - why does she think she does or does not like someone? She might not care for a public persona, but does she know what policies the candidates stand for? Has she thought about how the result of her hypothetical vote would impact her daily life? She sort of blows me off when I try to talk to her seriously about this election, as almost-twelve-year-olds are wont to do, but I hope that some of my message is sinking in. 

Here's the truth - I would never vote for someone based solely on his/her gender or race. But I'm so incredibly moved that there is a woman as a major party candidate, when 100 years ago women didn't even have the right to vote. The fact that people are showing up at the graves of suffragettes to celebrate the right to vote makes me heart humanity. 

Monday, November 07, 2016

Typing With My Eyes Closed

It's not falling asleep at the wheel, thankfully, but I am about ready to fall asleep on my keyboard. I actually did close my eyes once or twice while trying to reach my word count goal for NaNoWriMo. We had a party on Saturday and I didn't have much writing time so I had to pull double-duty yesterday and I did. I'm still on track to finish my 50,000 words by the end of the month.

So NaNoWriMo has been a challenging goal and I keep surprising myself with my ability to keep putting words into a document. But here are some things that are suffering so I can spend more time typing:

1. My Fitbit step count. I need to learn to type and walk at the same time.

2. Reading. Apparently I have a word quota for the day and if I'm creating them, I feel less of a need to consume them. No, scratch that, it isn't that I don't want to read, it's that I can't seem to stay awake.

3. Sending thank you notes and birthday cards. I'm never on time with that sort of thing any longer, but this month will be worse than usual.

There you have it - I'm hanging in there. And now I do need to get some sleep because I have a feeling tomorrow will be a pretty interesting day.

Sunday, November 06, 2016

Draft Day #1: Story Time

I mentioned that I had some predetermined blog themes in mind to help keep me on track this month. I had four drafts sitting in my blogger account so I thought doing a "Draft Day" on Sundays this month might be a fun way to revisit items I thought I might post about in the past.

This first one was sitting with a title, "Story Time," from June of 2008. Which makes Harper about 3 1/2 years old in these photos:





She still sleeps in that bed and has the rest of that furniture. The color of her walls is different now, as are the sheets, and I don't think any of those particular animals are in her bedroom. Her walls are covered with posters these days, quotes from the musical Wicked, a Taylor Swift calendar. The room is almost always a mess. It's sort of a nice reminder to see this pictures and know that bare bones of the room haven't changed all that much. I think the important things about that little girl haven't either.

I can tell she's reading to her animals from a big book of "Golden" stories which she received for her baptism from a college friend of Matt's and his then girlfriend, now wife. I think the book went on to live in Michael's room for a while and is probably packed away. If I can remember who gave it to us, I'm unlikely to have gotten rid of it. The books are very different now, of course, but still read with the same intensity. These days she shares them with book club friends instead of stuffed animals. Although, if given the chance, she'll definitely invite a little one onto her lap for a story.

Saturday, November 05, 2016

I Wish...

Michael just had a tantalizing misunderstanding about our extra hour of sleep -

He said, "Getting that extra hour of sleep is really going to make it easier to get up for school this week."

He thought we'd get an extra hour every night! We were very sorry to break it to him that the extra hour was a one-time deal.

Tonight, in particular, I'm thankful that my children are of the age where they do not need to wake me up immediately upon waking the morning. I don't think I'll have any trouble using that extra hour!

Friday, November 04, 2016

Flashback Friday #1


Shannon and I, June 1993

At the risk of being too gimmicky - I figured the only way I was going to get through daily blog posting was to have some days with a predetermined theme. So Fridays are going to be for old photos. The one above is my younger sister and I, from 23 years ago. The picture was not dated in any way in my album, but I was able to draw some conclusions from the photos around it:

1) I had just finished up my sophomore year in high school, and that makes me 16 in this photo.

2) My sister would have just finished 7th grade and would be about to turn 14.

3) I'm pretty sure my brother, who would have been almost 8 at the time, took the photo. He did a great job, considering this was back in the day when you just took a picture and hoped for the best, unable to see how you did until weeks later when you'd sent the film in for processing.

There was a texture to that shirt that I can close my eyes and remember exactly, it was one of my favorites. I remember wearing that necklace, too, which I'm pretty sure was just a bead on a piece of leather.

Two of my favorite things you can sort of see in the photo are the giant boombox that was on top of my bookshelf (which had been a 14th birthday present) and the white phone cord dangling down from my dresser on the right. So old fashioned!

Thursday, November 03, 2016

Thankful Thursday - The First

1. The Cubs! Michael is so sad because apparently he's a Cleveland Indians fan, but the first thing out of my mouth when I woke up this morning was, "Who won the game?" I'm so happy it's the Cubs. I think my dad is probably pretty happy, too.

2. Turns out Vance Joy is pretty terrific background music for writing. I'm grateful for that discovery this evening.

3. I'm thankful for the way the people in this house can surprise me by cooling rolling with an unexpected change of plans. Let's just say dinner didn't go exactly the way we hoped, and no one cried (about dinner).

4. I'm thankful for friends who inspire me in so many different ways.

5. I'm thankful for little signs that I will, eventually, have work friends in my new building.
   
       5a. I'm thankful for the friends from the last two years who still keep in touch.

Wednesday, November 02, 2016

Tapping

It is possible that much of what I will post about during this month of blogging will be the experience of my first National Novel Writing Month. Two days in a row, I have met the word count goal for the day. If I'm being truly honest with myself, that's more writing that I thought I might manage all month.

Yesterday I was a little bit pleased with how my novel started out. Today, for various reasons, it felt a lot more forced and less polished, although I think it was coming around a bit towards the end.

I think part of the point of doing something like NaNoWriMo is that it forces you to just get something down on the paper. The only way to meet the goal is to write. It's not quite as bad as adding "The End" to push a 98 word book report to the required 100 words, but I think it is going to feel that way sometimes.

Years ago I took a graduate class about teaching writing - it's still one of my favorite classes I've ever taken - and the professor insisted that we couldn't teach writing unless we practiced writing ourselves. Something we read in that class (or discussed, or heard - I can't remember the exact detail) was that it takes 40 gallons of maple sap to make one gallon of maple syrup. 40:1! I think of that all the time when I'm writing, because so much of what comes out at first is simply not great. But as I'm slogging through the bits that aren't great I occasionally find one or two thoughts or sentences that I love. So that first pass, that initial draft, I guess that's the sap. Editing and revising gets you from sap to syrup, I suppose.

This month I'm giving myself permission for almost all of the writing to be sap - as long as it keeps coming. We'll see if there's anything to make syrup from at the end.

Tuesday, November 01, 2016

Intention

Well Happy November, all!

November is my favorite month of the year. Fall leaves, crisp evenings, birthdays for Harper and I (and many other wonderful people), Thanksgiving, and, late in the month, Advent beginning the countdown to Christmas.

This November is going to bring a lot of excitement, including, but not limited to, my 40th (?!) birthday.

So I'm going to try to do one thing I haven't done in three years and one thing I've never done at all.

I will participate in National Blog Posting Month (which I've not successfully done since 2013).

I will participate in National Novel Writing Month (which I've never done).

Maybe writing begets writing? Is that a thing?

Here is today's blog post and I've already surpassed my 1,667 words for the day.

We shall declare Day One a success and see where it goes from here. There is a series of events coming up later this month that seems almost guaranteed to derail progress on both fronts, but it never hurts to try.

Here's to November!