Sweet Boy, Moms Don’t Get Days Off

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This morning, when I woke up my 10 year old son at the crack of dawn, 6:30am to be exact, he groaned and made it very obvious that getting up for school was the last thing on his mind. Yeah, kid…I know just how you feel.

But a Mom’s gotta do what a Mom’s gotta do, otherwise no one would EVER get up for school.

He then told me that he wanted to take the day off like me! What?! Day off?! In my dreams!

Oh, sure, I work part time, and happen to have Monday’s off from my paying job. But I would hardly call it a DAY OFF.

On Mondays I take care of all the “business” of being a homemaker.

For instance, today there were 7 loads of laundry, general picking up of the weekend clutter, not to mention a myriad of phone calls to doctors, insurance, doctor appointments, Spring soccer to enroll in, filing, cleaning, etc.

Oh, and lest we forget helping with homework once the kids get home, planning dinner…whew…I’m pooped.

Sure it’s not digging ditches, or saving lives (not everyday), but it never stops.

I know this is nothing new to millions of moms and dads out there, but apparently it is to our kids.

So if you’re having a busy day, don’t forget to take a few moments and put your feet up, and do something for yourself, because you are the only one who can make that happen. And you deserve it. Because it starts all over again in a few minutes.

Book Banning in Virginia

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Last week, a temporary ban was put on two classic American novels “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” and “To Kill a Mockingbird” by the Accomack County Public Schools. The books were pulled from the shelf after ONE PARENT complained to the school board about racial slurs in both books.

It was a reading assignment for a high school class, and the mother of a biracial child said her son couldn’t get past a certain page in Huck Finn that used the N-word seven times.

I’m sorry her son felt that way, but BANNING BOOKS IS NOT OKAY!

Both books are statements AGAINST prejudice, so she has totally missed the point of the stories.

Writers often use offensive and harsh language to evoke emotion out of their readers so that they will feel empathy for the characters and fight right along with them. Is it uncomfortable? Sure…it’s supposed to be!

Banning books is a frightening and slippery slope.

When you think about it, books are the one true form of freedom of speech that we have left! Our news is slanted, our magazine and newspaper articles are often skewed, but books are still FREE from censorship.

There was a peaceful protest outside the courthouse last night where students and parents gathered to express their frustration that ONE PARENT’S complaint can disrupt the entire district’s curriculum.

This parent missed a huge teaching opportunity to talk with her child about his feelings and for that I feel sorry for them.

As writers and parents, I hope we can all agree that when we start to erase history through censorship, we will forget what we’ve already learned from it.

I haven’t seen an on-line petition circulating yet, but will post an update if I find one.

By the way, my books tend to have a Christian message…some may find THAT offensive.

Shaving relief…at last

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I don’t write about beauty very often…okay…ever. I mean, I am a t-shirt and jeans girls through and through. Much to my husband’s chagrin, I don’t polish my nails, color my hair (professionally or regularly), wear makeup unless I absolutely have to, and when I go shopping I usually come home with more things for my kids than I do for myself. #notashopper

But I have to share this beauty tip I just discovered.

For years, I’ve been suffering through horrible itchy legs after shaving. It’s not razor burn. I’m talking about a burning itching sensation that starts immediately after shaving and never goes away, because it runs into the next shaving cycle. #stopthepain

I know there are others out there like me, because I’ve seen you on message boards when I’ve been searching desperately for a “cure.”

At first I thought it was our water. It seemed to start when we moved to the Mid-Atlantic a few years ago, and for the first time experienced “hard water.” So I bought a filter for the shower. It didn’t help.

It got so bad, that I even gave up shaving for a week. Sorry, TMI, but that’s how desperate I was.

Then last night I ran across a miracle on a message board.

Someone explained that shaving with the newer multi-blade razors, even if they have a lubricant strip on them, actually irritates your skin more than the simple, single-use, single blade razors. (My pocket book liked the sound of that – razor blades are crazy expensive)

So here’s the solution: Get one of those disposable single blade (I had a double) razors; Lather your legs up with something like Cetaphil skin cleanser; And then shave…now here’s the key…WITH THE HAIR, as in shave DOWN (from knee to ankle) rather than up, and rinse as usual! You won’t get a super smooth shave, but who cares! No one but you will be able to tell. And you won’t be miserable!

I didn’t have any Cetaphil on hand, but I also read on that same message board that someone used hair conditioner. I happen to use Mane’N Tail Shampoo and Conditioner (which I highly recommend for your hair), so I tried shaving using that conditioner… IT WORKED! Hallelujah!

I shaved my legs, and then didn’t spend the next 5 hours (or longer) scratching in pain. Sweet relief!

This might not be news to some of you, but if it helps even one of you, then my work here is done.

So that’s all the beauty tips I’ve got, well, that and O’Keeffe’s Working Hands is great for winter elbows!

And if you happen to work for any of the above mentioned companies, I’ll happily collect my commission now.

End of NaNoWriMo

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It’s almost the end of November which also means that you should be reaching your 50,000 words if you participated this year. If you have, Congrats! Most people will never even start a novel their entire lives, so kudos for reaching such an amazing goal. #gonanowrimo

I wish I could say that I reached it with you, but unless I’m going to be able to write approximately 35,000 words in the next few days, then I won’t quite make it this year. But I’m okay with that. #nanowrimofail

I had a lot on my plate with month which encroached on my creative time.

Writers participate in NaNoWriMo for a lot of different reasons. Some start a novel from scratch, some use it to finish a current WIP, but whatever your purpose, it’s a great launching pad.

I used it to find out that the manuscript I was working on was meandering and really going nowhere. I’m a “Panster” and not an “Outliner,” so it’s a risk I always take when I start a new story. #panstersunite

The problem with my current WIP?

I was being way too nice to my characters. I needed to rough them up.

My premise is good and my characters have good bones, but those bones need to be broken, put in a sling and broken again to make an amazing story. Characters need to fight for something, whether it’s a moral dilemma, a physical challenge or a person who is standing in the way of their goal. That’s what keeps readers reading.

So I did the unthinkable, something they tell you not to do…I started editing. Instead of having a side character as a handsome love interest, he became the main character’s nemesis, brash and insulting to her respectability. The story now has so much more depth and is, quite frankly, more fun to write.

Maybe now the ideas will start to flow, and I can take all the baggage from my messy November and channel it into my WIP.

Did you reach your 50,000 words?

Sliding towards Christmas

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I know, I know…we haven’t even celebrated Thanksgiving. But Thanksgiving means that Christmas is only a MONTH away! #dontjudge

It was only a few months ago, when my husband was laid off, that we weren’t even sure how we were going to provide Christmas presents for the kids. So shopping was the LAST thing on my list. But God provided, and my husband’s back at work, and I’m WAY behind. #Godwillprovide

My family has already started harassing me about what is on my Christmas List. My List isn’t “Christmasee” enough for them (whatever that means). You can read about last year’s List here. It’s not my fault. I never grew up making Christmas Lists…you got what you got. Somehow, Mom and Dad and Santa just knew what we wanted. Maybe because they were engaged with us, or maybe because you got what you got and you were grateful for it. If it had a bow on it, and it wasn’t clothes, you scored! #Barbiedreamhouse

I blame my husband for this whole “List” thing. It’s HIS family tradition. On Thanksgiving, every year, everyone is required to submit a Christmas List so people know what to get you. Where’s the fun in that?! Surprise…I got exactly what was on my list! No thank you. I get it…it’s practical, especially for people buying for me, because apparently I’m hard to buy for. But not for reasons you’d think. It’s not that I don’t LIKE or I am ungrateful for the gifts, it’s that I’m physically hard to buy for. You can’t buy me clothes (I’m 5’10” and 130lbs – I have to try things on), I don’t really wear jewelry (I work at home, and rarely go out – no need), quite frankly, I don’t really want for anything, at least not in the “gifty” sense.

For instance, this is my List so far:

  1. A staple gun – I don’t have one and I can’t tell you how many times I’ve needed one.
  2. A handheld sander – for the same reason as number 1.
  3. A cheese slicer – you know the kind that is a wire on a handle attached to a wooden base. Then the kids could make their OWN sandwiches without me worrying about them losing a finger with a knife.
  4. Wire cutters – I’m sort of crafty, and end up having to use my scissors and I cringe every time I do.
  5. My book published – okay, I know they can’t do that one, but maybe Santa has some pull.
  6. Sewing Box – mine is old and the latch and the handle are broken. I’d love one of those fancy wicker ones with the quilted top – but I’m not picky. One that stays closed would be fine.
  7. Slippers – who doesn’t need slippers?

As you can see, it’s a work in progress. I’ve been told it needs to be much longer. #whatever

Now the Kids’ Lists are fairly full. But they have listed things like iPad, phone, new 3DS and games, and that’s just the 10 year old’s list. Surprisingly, the 14 year old’s list is rather fiscally conservative, except for the digital drawing tablet, but even that’s not too bad, if you shop around.

My husband, or as I like to call him…the Instigator, hasn’t even started his list!

So what’s on your Christmas List (aside from Peace of Earth)? Does your family think your gifts are weird? Are you easy to buy for?

Best wishes to you and yours. Think I’ll make sure my husband reads this. LOL

A Wonderful Life

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When I was a child, “a wonderful life” was something out of a 1970s sitcom. I think back to shows like Happy Days, and Laverne and Shirley. Shows where conflict could be resolved within a half hour, and rarely was tragic, and almost always was filled with comedy.

As I grew into adolescents, the description changed slightly, and started to veer off course from the original script. And then I was diagnosed with epilepsy, at eighteen years old, just as my adult life was beginning to take shape. Wonderful life? You’ve got to be kidding!

Days filled with doctor appointments, blood tests, brain scans, and medications didn’t fit in the script I was beginning to write for my life. What sitcom modeled a life like that? None that I could find.

But life seldom turns out to be the one we would choose, and mine was no different. During the early days of my diagnosis I fought against the path. I thought if I prayed hard enough, or could just find the right medicine, that sitcom-life would fall back into place. But it didn’t.

Over twenty years have passed, and I’ve learned a lot of lessons, as any middle-aged woman has. I’m eternally thankful that life isn’t a sitcom, it doesn’t resolve itself in 30 minutes, and you don’t always get to write the script. But the saying is true: Life is what you make of it.

Now, at 40-something years old, I am living a wonder-full life. Married, 2 kids, house in the suburbs..yeah, it’s sort of like the sitcom I always dreamed. But it’s the “wonderful” part that is so different from my childhood dream.

I never could have imagined the life God had planned for me and my family. I marvel at the blessings that each morning brings. I am in awe of the plans that have been laid before us. Even the detours have been wonder-full. It’s a script that I could have never written on my own. Left to my own resources it would have been a predictable, well-organized life that would have bored any on-looker to tears.

Who would have thought that out of the chaos, disappointments, triumphs, tragedies, monotony, and simplicity, this wonder-full life could have been created?

And so as I reflect back on my childhood, back on the sitcoms that helped shape my expectations, I can only hope that what will shape my children’s lives, and my future grandchildren’s lives, will be what epic movies are made of.

And that whatever they make of their lives, that they will learn to call it wonderful, or wonder-full, whatever the case may be.