Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Conversation just last night

Hubby: (holding a piece of lumber) I love two-by-anything lumber because it's big and cheap.

Me: Wow, that's what I love about you, too! (totally cracking myself up)

He's so cute when he's pretending to be insulted. But he knows that we would never be able to afford this house and live like we do if he weren't cheap, so it's a compliment. Really.

In other news, my two year old, who still won't say simple words like "no" (who ever heard of a two year old who doesn't say no?) said "puppy" last night. Too cute.

If you haven't read my chapter yet, go down to yesterday's post. I'll be waiting for those comments!

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Chapter One

Thanks for the comments yesterday. I know I'm a long way from being finished, but I like to get as much feedback as possible along the way. If you'd like to read the first chapter of my new novel, A Cappella, head on over to this link:

Visit My Portfolio @ Writing.Com

Then just click on A Cappella Chapter One. When you're done, I'd love some comments, either here or over there. And don't worry, I have a very thick skin. You don't have to be nice just because I'll be rich and famous one day

Monday, January 29, 2007

How do I know when I'm done?

I was up until midnight working on my novel. I'm getting pretty tired of the first three chapters, but I need to get them perfect. There's a lot of stuff that happens later on in the story that needs to be introduced in the beginning, but because I was writing it during NaNoWriMo, I didn't get it in there before. Now I have to go back and add it.

And then there's the question of how graphic do I want to be. There's a violent scene in chapter 3, but I'm considering editing it heavily to just get the general idea across. I mean, it becomes very obvious later exactly what happened, so do I really need to spell it out?

Being a romance, I'm also wondering how much description of the main characters should I go into? I want the reader to get a general idea of what they look like, but I don't want to get into ridiculous detail. It's important for me that the reader fall in love with the guy, too, but at the same time, he has ulterior motives for what he does that are going to surprise everyone.

Maybe I'm being too much of a perfectionist. I don't know. I think I'll post the first chapter tomorrow and get some non-biased opinions. The first chapter is the only one I feel is pretty much finished, so I could use some critiques. Watch this space!

Friday, January 26, 2007

SPF - My buddy

Kristine has pared down SPF to just one picture, which is nice because I don't have to think so hard. This week's assignment is My Buddy. And while there are a lot of things or people I could put here, this one just jumped to mind, and so here it is.
It's been a long time since I was excited to step on the scale, let me tell you. You might remember an SPF a long time ago (June, July?) where I said I was trying to lose weight. I am now down about 24 pounds. I'm actually excited to step on the scale every week because I know I'm going to see lower numbers. And yesterday, I put on a pair of real jeans. Real, as in no elastic in the waist. I'm wearing size L clothes and they're actually a little loose. Before, I wore XL and they were kind of tight. And even though my waist size hasn't gotten smaller (I blame the 4 kids), everything else has. So I'm feeling good.

Did you play? I'd love to come see your buddy, too!

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Anyone know a robotic counselor?

I think my desktop computer has some sort of personality disorder.

For the longest time, I had a printer, a scanner, a microphone, speakers, and other peripherals hooked up to it and there were no problems. Suddenly, one day, the microphone stopped working. I'm not sure what the computer said to it, but it refused to continue the relationship. We tried another microphone, but apparently word had gotten around and it wouldn't work either.

Then it was the scanner. For years, I scanned pictures, documents, and other things I wanted to keep. Nary a problem. Then one day, a little error box popped up on my screen telling me there was no scanner connected. I checked all the cables. The light was on, but nobody was home. At least nobody who wanted to talk to the computer. I carried the scanner to another computer and it worked fine.

Next came the printer. This is an old HP Laser printer, a really nice one, and it connects to a serial port, one of those big, heavy cables you could choke a dog with. Anyway, we've had this printer a decade or more, and never had a problem. Suddenly, it won't take orders from the computer anymore. We ended up hooking the printer to our home network through a switch. Now it talks to the printer on the computer's behalf. Sort of like when people are fighting, the switch will say, "Hey, HP, the computer says to print this," and then HP says, "Well, you tell the computer I'll get to it when I get to it." And then it spits out the required pages. The only problem is that there are one too few cables to the network, so if I want to print, I have to take the internet cable from the computer, hook it to the printer, then take my son's internet cable and hook it to my computer. Otherwise, it doesn't work. I don't print much.

And now, it's the speakers. Whatever this computer said to them is obviously unforgiveable. We have no sound, except those little beeps that come from the CPU when an error pops up.

I wonder how long before the monitor realizes what a jerk that computer is and calls in sick.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

WBW - Free therapy

This week, TKW has asked us to share pictures and stories about some traumatic event in our lives (like dropping an ice cream cone or getting our shoes thrown up on) that would later cause us to need many years of therapy. And since this is free, I think it's a good deal.
Okay, so on first glance you might say, "What's the problem here?" Is it that my brother is wearing a nightgown? No, it's a night shirt, thank you very much. It probably came with a matching nightcap. His head is bare here. But take a look at mine. That, my friends, is head gear. You see, my orthodontist gave me a choice between having some teeth pulled and wearing head gear every night. Guess which one I picked.

Now, thankfully, I didn't have to wear it to school, but I did wear it out in public on more than one occasion. I can remember oh-so-clearly the stares and the people talking in hushed voices about the freak in line behind them. I always had a snappy comeback - I'd say it was my antenna, or that I was an alien, or something equally as clever. But it never felt good.

And you thought this would be about those Dungeons & Dragons modules I'm holding there. Yeah, like I need any more visual proof that I was a geek! Well, just so you know, I mostly only played D&D with my brother. But when I played with other people, my character was named Kitiara and she kicked serious tail.

So, did you play?

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Where's that burst of energy?

I have been working out for at least 30 minutes a day since last Monday. Now, I wasn't expecting a lot of changes in one week, but you always hear people saying how much better they feel once they start exercising. I've experienced that in the past. So where is it this time?

Not only do I not feel better, I'm more tired. It's all I can do to stay awake until the baby goes down for his nap, and then it takes every inch of my willpower to get on the treadmill instead of into bed. I'm exhausted. It would probably help if I could get to sleep before midnight, but that would involve getting the boys to sleep before midnight. We've been down that road before. And honestly, I'd probably be up late anyway. I'm definitely a night person.

And as long as I'm complaining, what's the deal with my waist? I certainly would have expected a smaller waist size after dropping twenty pounds. Every other area has gotten smaller. I can wear clothes now that I haven't worn in several years. And yet, I still have the exact same size waist. I know I've had four kids, but why can't I lose even a measly inch off my waist?

I want to believe that changes will come. I don't want to get discouraged.

Monday, January 22, 2007

So now what?

What happens when my teaching style becomes incompatible with my sons' learning styles?

Lately I've been having trouble with school because I have no plan. I've been using a unit study curriculum for everything except math and language arts. For those of you unfamiliar with unit studies, basically you take a topic and you explore it from every possible angle: history, art, geography, science, music, etc. Once you've worn a topic to death, you move on. I thought this would be a great approach because then both boys could learn together. A regular curriculum would have me teaching all subjects separately by grade level, and I just don't have the time for that.

The problem is that I sit down in the morning with no idea what to teach. I just have this vague list of things, and a few activities, but no set plan. It's not that the unit studies don't come with one, I just can't seem to get organized enough to follow it. It takes too much planning on my part. I liked the pre-planned curriculum that told me exactly what to do each day.

But the boys thrive on the freedom of the unit study. The structure of a boxed curriculum was too tiring for them. And after all, I'm doing this for them, not me. But it's driving me crazy. The worst part of it for me is that the curriculum recommends this whole list of books, and our library doesn't even have a third of them. How can I follow the curriculum with no books? It would take so much time and effort to get them sent from other libraries, and I just don't have that kind of time or energy.

I really want to go back to the boxed curriculum with set lessons for every day and all the information right there, instead of bi-weekly trips to the library that turn up nothing I can use anyway. But I don't want the boys to become completely antagonistic towards school either. I actually heard my 10 year old say "I hate school" the other day. Boy, that really makes me want to continue the daily battles around here.

I know there's an answer here, I just can't see the forest for the trees. Too much structure, enough that I'm happy, and the boys shut down. Too little structure, and I can't get organized enough on my own to effectively teach anything. There's got to be a solution.

Friday, January 19, 2007

My big fat story

As you may remember, I am losing weight. But Blest recently posted about her own weight loss journey, and it made me reflect on how I got to where I am. You see, as she indicated, there are two different types of people who need to lose weight: the ones who are genetically coded to be fat, and the ones who have let themselves become fat. Of course, there are combinations of the two as well. But I realized I have been blaming genetics for a while, and that's not right. I've been neglectful.

I was never overweight as a kid. I was thin all through high school. I don't remember my exact weight in college, but I do remember that on day one I made a pact with my roommate that we would not gain the freshman 15. She and I worked out together every day and had actually lost a couple of pounds by the end of the year, despite going to a college with amazing food served all-you-can-eat style. We continued our workouts right through graduation. I got married a month after grad, and my wedding dress was a size 8 (though we had to take it out a little, and my normal size at the time was 10).

Over the next four years, my weight stayed basically the same. I walked a lot, ate normally, and when I went for my first prenatal visit, I was at 139. With my first son, I didn't have a lot of nausea, but I was always hungry. I gained 40 pounds. But we joined a gym, I got myself back in shape, and eventually I was down to 155. Then we went on a cruise, I gained 5 pounds, and got pregnant again. This time, I carefully watched what I ate and only gained 25. But I still had extra weight I couldn't get rid of, and they always say not to diet while breastfeeding. So it wasn't very long after I weaned son #2 that I started losing weight again, down to 165, only to get pregnant with #3.

I gained 60 pounds with him. After he was born, I went back to the gym, and worked out periodically, but it just wasn't convenient anymore and I was tired. I let things slide. By the time I got pregnant with #4, I weighed around 188. I gained between 35 and 40 with him. And when I started this weight loss journey in May, I topped the scales at 212. So you can see how pregnancy after pregnancy, combined with breastfeeding for 18 months at a time, gave me really good excuses to be lazy. And that is what I did.

Now I've changed the way I think about food, and the way I eat. I used to go to buffet restaurants, eat two plates of regular food, and then four plates of dessert. I love food, what can I say? Now, I can go to that same place, eat a sensible entree of fish or chicken, veggies, and then carefully choose one dessert. It's not willpower. It's just changing the way I think. And I've noticed that foods with a high fat content or too much sugar just gross me out now. One bite and I have to stop. My body is getting back to normal.

So I just wanted to share this to let you know that it's never too late. If you're like me and have just neglected fitness for a long time and have been eating whatever you want, start making little changes. Even a small change is positive. I use Slim-Fast and count calories, but find whatever works for you and stick to it! You can do it!

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Open letter to all American Idol wanna-bes

Dear people,

You cannot sing. Get over it. The judges don't know you. It's not personal. You just can't sing. No, we won't be seeing you again. No, Simon is not a jerk, idiot, or any of the other colorful names Fox so wisely bleeped out. I would think after five seasons you might realize that the judges are in fact pretty good at what they do. Suck it up. Get on with your life.

And to those of you who will be going to auditions in the future, here's some advice. You might want to watch these current auditions closely so you can understand a few things. For example, talking smack about Simon might get you on camera, but it will also make you look like a Fool - that's with a capital F. If the judges are all three laughing at you, it is not because they are so delighted to have found someone of your caliber; it's because you're really, collossally, bad. If you must move to the rhythm of your music, keep it subtle. Throwing yourself about like a marionette attached to a weed whacker will not get you to Hollywood.

For the ladies, please avoid singing Celine Dion, Christina Aguilera, Whitney Houston, or anyone of similar caliber unless you know you can nail it. For the men, for the love of all that is good and right in this world, don't sing Freddie Mercury or Unchained Melody. Please don't compare yourself to these people either.

And finally, if your co-workers talk you into going on this show, it's not, repeat NOT, because they think you're talented. They are looking forward to getting together on some night in the future with a six pack and some popcorn and laughing their heads off at you.

The woman who couldn't stop laughing last night

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

WBW - Let it snow!

TKW wants to see all those old photos of us cavorting in the snow. I certainly hope we get some snow in the present day, but until then, it's fun to look back on the blizzards of the past.
This is not very way back, only four years ago, but it was a very big snow. That's not a pile my oldest son is standing in, that's how deep the snow really was! But even though this picture is not that old, it makes me nostalgic. What happened to all the snow?

I'm going to go look through some albums now and see if there are any old ones of me in the snow. Check back later!

UPDATE: Still looking, but don't hold your breath.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Enjoy your $20 sticker

I just got back from the pediatrician, who didn't have any appointments until today. I paid a $20 copay to find out that there's nothing wrong with the baby at all. But not to worry, the doctor was coughing and sneezing all over the place, so we're bound to actually be sick sometime soon.

At least the kids got stickers when we checked out.

Pardon our dust

I've been going through old posts to put labels on them and such, and then I noticed they were all popping up on my Bloglines account as new posts. So if you see 25 or 30 "new" posts from here, just check the publish date to see if it's new or not. Of course, if you weren't reading this blog back then, you might want to check out those old posts anyway!

Monday, January 15, 2007

Ow! Ow!

I was awakened this morning by the sound of my two year old crying and saying "Ow!" over and over. After carrying him around for a while, and trying to comfort him by playing Thomas the Tank Engine on our big screen tv, I agreed with Hubby's suggestion that maybe his ear or ears hurt. We forced some Tylenol down his throat, and I do mean some, since much of it went down his chin and a small blob somehow landed on the back of my arm.

Finally, after about twenty minutes, he curled up on my bed and fell asleep. Of course, now it's way too late for me to go back to sleep. And it seems we may have a trip to the pediatrician in our future. Did I mention there's a HUGE rainstorm headed our way. It should have been snow, being that it's January and all, but no, it's 58 degrees here and we're going to have rain, and lots of it. Ugh.

It's Monday, isn't it?

Friday, January 12, 2007

SPF - Hijacked!

TKW has hijacked SPF this week, which is just as well because Kristine has been having issues of late. Here we go:

A houseplant Those of you who actually have houseplants probably spotted right off that this is a fake. I don't have a green thumb. I don't even have a brown thumb. I have a rotting black thumb. No plant stands a chance in this house. So I have these lovely fake ones strategically scattered around to give the illusion that I am not, in fact, the Plant Angel of Death.

Something you complain about but secretly like I actually enjoy cleaning the bathroom. It's the only room in the house that doesn't get completely destroyed again within minutes. I mean, let's face it, the boys run in, pee, run out again. They don't hang around playing, spilling drinks, or drawing on the walls. Well, occasionally they do. But as a general rule, if I clean the bathroom, it looks nice for quite a while. However, I still make the boys do it. After all, I'm not the one who gets pee on the floor.

Something gross

The only thing grosser than a little girl who eats her toe jam (and if you haven't seen TKW's video, you really must) is a little boy who is so fascinated by it that he insists on watching it no less than 50 times.

So, that's SPF, the hijacked edition! Did you play?

Thursday, January 11, 2007

The rest of the story

Somehow I got through yesterday. The co-op meeting took 2 1/2 hours, and then I had another half hour of work on top of that. While we were sitting in the upstairs kitchen working, my boys and one of the ladies' two boys were downstairs playing. And eating and drinking. At one point my oldest came running up.

"J was drinking coffee and the cat-"
"Hang on," I said. "Why was he drinking coffee?" Nice thing for other moms to hear, right?
"You know, that coffee stuff you add to milk?"
"Oh, right, the syrup. Okay, so?"
"Well, the cat jumped up on the table and tried to drink it and it got spilled all over the tablecloth."
Knowing full well that my boys know how to clean up a little spilled milk, albeit milk with coffee-flavored syrup in it, I said, "So what's the problem?"

And then I got the rest of the story. "So now they're playing in it."

You know that old Cosby routine about brain damage? Yeah. So they got it cleaned up, put the tablecloth in the washing machine, and that was that. Except for the sticky mess all over the floor and everything on the floor. Honestly, I think I need to just put down a dropcloth and forget it.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Where's the co- in co-op??

I know it's Wednesday, but I just don't have the energy for a WBW post. I haven't even looked at my photo albums. I was up until midnight trying to figure out which classes to put which parents in as helpers, for our homeschool co-op starting next month. I don't know all the moms personally, so it's anybody's guess whether I'm on the right track or not. The rest of the committee is showing up here at two to help me finish. At that point, I'm supposed to have everything else done and ready to print. Hopefully I will. They had better not hand me the stack of envelopes and tell me to mail them.

But before then, I have to take the four year old for a follow-up appointment to the dentist. The dentist's office is about an hour from here. So, it's 9:30 now. That gives me an hour and a half before we have to leave. And if we're lucky, a half hour when we get home. And I still need to shower. And the boys need to eat. So what I am I doing on here?? See ya later!

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Six degrees of Johnny Depp

As you probably remember, I have a bit of an obsession with Pirates of the Caribbean. So naturally, I got the 2 disc special edition of the second movie. As Hubby and I were watching the extras, he began to notice something that, quite frankly, he seems to notice wherever we go. Large equipment, made by the company he works for, was featured prominently in much of the footage. The company's name is clearly visible many times, so much so that he wondered if they paid some kind of sponsorship fee!

So this got me thinking. You know that old game of six degrees? Could I actually be only six degrees away from my beloved pirates? Okay, let's find out:

  1. From me, to hubby
  2. From hubby, to the CEO of the company
  3. From CEO, to salesperson
  4. From salesperson, to rental company person
  5. From rental company person, to person working on the movie
  6. From person working on the movie, to Johnny Depp!

I am so much better connected than I thought I was!

Monday, January 08, 2007

My two million dollar family

I'm sure you have all seen the "cost to raise a child" estimates before - you know, the ones where they figure up how much you'll spend on food, shelter, clothing, etc. before the child turns 18. Those people with children at home after 18 are on their own. Anyway, I used this calculator at BabyCenter and I came up with a figure of $488,000 to raise my seven year old, $546,000 for my four year old, and $588,000 for my two year old (it only does children born in 1999 or later). Add in my oldest, and we're at $2 million, give or take.

Now, looking at their categories and estimates, I think they're way off. First off, when I add the numbers myself and then multiply by 18 years, I get 1.2 million, not $588,000. But beyond that, they've totally left off the category of 'Damages'. You know what I mean.

"Don't touch that DVD!" CRACK! And there's twenty dollars down the drain.
"Stop jumping on the bed!" BANG! New bed frame - only $100.
CRASH! "What was that?" "Nothing!!" Cost of nothing - about $20.
And so it goes, on and on. Things get broken around here on an almost daily basis, and the only reason it's not daily is that sometimes my parents are here and they go break stuff in their motor coach instead.

There are just all kinds of things they don' t tell you when you set out to start a family.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Carnival of the Blogging Chicks

Check out this week's Carnival. It's all about looking forward to the coming year or looking back to the last one. I submitted a post, and there are lots of other great bloggers represented, so go take a look!

Friday, January 05, 2007

"Lyrics Included"

I've been putting some of my old cassette tapes onto the computer since I got my MP3 player, and the other day I came across some of my Steve Taylor tapes.

It's funny what can lead you to a new singer or group that ends up inspiring you. In the case of Steve Taylor, a friend of mine went into a Christian book store looking for a birthday present for me. She saw his tape "On The Fritz," and though she'd never heard of him, the big "Lyrics Enclosed" label across the bottom caught her attention. So she bought it. We both fell in love with his music the first time we heard it, and proceeded to collect his other albums. The year was 1985. Two years later, he came out with what I consider his best album, "I Predict 1990."

Now, as I pulled this tape out of its case the other day, I thought, "Surely these songs are really dated." I played the tape, and couldn't help but be amazed at how relevant his songs still are, twenty years later! Take these lyrics, from the song "Since I Gave Up Hope I Feel A Lot Better" about modern universities:

Took a class/ Big fun/ Modern ethics 101/ First day/ learn why/ Ethics really
apply/ Prof says, "One trait/ Takes us to a higher state/ Drug free,
pure bliss/ Get
your pencils, copy this:
"Life unwinds like a cheap
sweater/ But since I gave
up hope I feel a lot better/ And the truth gets
blurred like a wet letter/ But since
I gave up hope I feel a lot better"

Now, Taylor was known for writing controversial songs, but they're also thinking songs, meaning you come away really thinking about what he wrote. I like that. He also has a great sense of humor. Like in the song "I Blew Up the Clinic Real Good" (Yes, you read that correctly). It's pointing out the hypocrisy of people who claim to be pro-life yet they blow up clinics and kill people. In the song, a psychotic ice cream man blows up a clinic, then confronts a preacher in the bridge of the song:

Preacher on the corner, calling it a crime/ Says the end don't justify the
means anytime.

I stood up on my van, I yelled "Excuse me, sir! Ain't nothing wrong in
this country that a few plastic explosives won't cure!"

And that line was, of course, yelled. It still makes me laugh.

So, I've rambled on enough. I'm just having great fun re-discovering some of my old favorites. See the article I linked to above if you'd like to find out more about Steve Taylor. I understand his songs are on iTunes also, if you're interested.

What's an artist or album you haven't listened to in a while that you'd like to revisit?

Thursday, January 04, 2007

You've heard of the Biggest Loser?

If there were a prize for the slowest loser, um, yeah, that'd be me. Checking my archives, I see that I started to lose weight in May. It's now January of the next year and I have just hit the 20 lbs lost mark.

Now, don't get me wrong, I'm thrilled to have lost 20 lbs. I've stuck to my diet even when I was on a cruise. I have truly changed my eating habits and the way I think about food, and I try to make good choices about what I put in my mouth. All of these are good things.

The one thing I haven't done is exercise regularly. I just can't seem to find a good time during the day. Hubby wants me to get up at 6 with him to work out, but honestly, 6 a.m.? I just can't see a couple of nightowls like us making that kind of commitment and sticking to it. And I also need to point out that this is just a suggestion on his part. He does not actually get up at 6 on a regular basis.

For a while, I thought I could work out while the baby napped, but now it seems like we're never done with school by then. We used to have a YMCA membership, but the ordeal of getting the whole family out the door was too much. I just need to find some way to fit that 20-30 minutes of exercise I desperately need into my day. Over at One Weigh Or Another (weight loss blog I belong to), the group's founder has lost about two pounds a week since July, and she is looking fantastic. She exercises.

Okay, so, twenty pounds down, only forty to go. Or fifty. Maybe I'll be happy with thirty more. Check back next...year!

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

WBW - Bad habits

This week, TKW has asked us to showcase our bad habits. As I looked through my old photos this morning, I found that I managed to avoid being photographed in the middle of most of my bad habits. But one did find its way in front of a camera. I was 13 in this picture. Twenty-three years later, I've still got the same bad habit.

There I am, sitting in front of the computer. This is probably a couple of years before we had an online service (remember Compuserve?), so I'm just typing in lines of Basic to make a little game or something. There really was no hope for me socially in high school, was there?

So, did you play?

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

The whole tooth and nothing but the tooth

I'm taking my four year old to get some dental work done today. Apparently, at least two of my children have inherited my cavity-prone teeth. My seven year old had his two front teeth pulled about five years ago, and several others since then. Now the four year old has to have so many cavities filled that the dentist is doing it at the hospital, under anesthesia.

I have to be at the hospital two hours before the procedure, and then wait for about two hours after he's done to be discharged. So basically I'll be sitting in a hospital all day. I should have asked if I could bring my laptop. At least my SIL is here to watch the other kids so I don't have to be chasing them all over the hospital telling them to be quiet, sit still, don't touch those buttons.

And thankfully, our insurance will cover a good chunk of the cost. We're still paying off the seven year old's dental bills. Did you know that the cruise we just took cost less than half of what we still owe on his teeth? Oh, how I wish I were kidding.