Posted in Around the House, Computers and Internet, Writing

Rough Week

I had that one really great writing day last week and then it all dried up. When I say “dried up,” I don’t mean that no words came to mind…not exactly. I was just too cranky to find the words and let them out.

It started with a migraine that wouldn’t go away. I woke up migraine free this morning after 7 days of migraine. It was not one of those all-encompassing-bad migraines, but one of those where your head hurts and you feel dizzy and things look weird and nothing seems right.

Then I joined a reading group for next year where you try to read a book a week all year, only you fit the books into categories that someone else makes up. It sounded fun, but led me down the deep dark path of “what did I read this year?” I only had like 20 books in GoodReads and surely I’d read more than that, right? Turned out I had 38 books in my “Currently Reading” list that I’d never gotten around to finishing. So I’m making my way through the ends of those now. I do the audio book of “Becoming” when I’m in the car waiting for kids, a fun kids book “5 Children and It” (from the Top 100 Fantasy Books list that came out not too long ago) in the morning when my brain isn’t awake yet, and “Thinking Fast and Slow” when I have more brain.

Then my sister told me that my dad caught Covid. Seriously? He goes nowhere and sees no one. He doesn’t even feel bad from it. He went to the doctor for something else and they tested him for it any way. So now he’s super perky because he’s on good drugs. This did not make me feel better about life, though, because now our carefully laid out Thanksgiving plans are not going to happen. We were kind of all depending on having a few lazy days somewhere that wasn’t this house for the first time in seven months. It made the crankiness worse. And a cranky Lisa is not a writing Lisa.

A few days into this “no writing” phenomena, I just decided I hated everything and I was done writing forever. I cleared off my desk, took down a bunch of art, and decided to work on some other projects. One of those was clearing out my hard drive. So I spent a solid day combining all my photo files, deleting the randomness out, and making those nice. Then I spent a day sorting out my documents folder into places where things actually went. That led to me shoving all my poetry into a Scrivener document, like I’d always planned. Which led me to looking for poems that I couldn’t find, but knew I’d written. Which led me to tidying up my writing from the TPL writer’s group and putting it all into the right Scrivener files.

Which sneakily led me back into real, actual writing again because I kept finding things that just needed a little tweaking here or there to fit into place in their own main storylines. So I’d tidy this bit up over here, and change the time of this piece right there, and bam: a whole new scene just appeared. MAGIC!

Posted in Computers and Internet, My Own Personal Weirdness, Organizing, Writing

NaNoWriMo 2020

Another year, another NaNoWriMo. I prepped all October to finish up the rewrite for last year’s Nano novel (Caro’s Quest) but then there’s been this other story this last week (Lady Air Pirates steampunk thing) that I cannot get out of my head, so I changed courses this morning and started on that instead. I’m in a mood, what can I say?

I’ve written 1711 words so far on the weird steampunk thing. It’s really weird, man. I had to stop for lunch (frozen cheese pizza for the third time this week – Greg’s trying to get it out of his system before he goes back to in person school tomorrow), but I feel like there’s more story in me and I’ve already done all the other personal life stuff I needed to today, so I think I’m going to write some more while my brain is still good.

I am still working on Caro’s Quest, though. I have thirty days of re-writes planned out, so I’ll do those and use this new story as a bargaining chip. As in, “do your rewrites, Lisa, and then you can write the crazy lady air pirate story after.”

I’ve made myself a crazy excel spreadsheet of all my projects and am going to track and see how many words I write a month overall. (A kid came through just now and wanted to know how many projects that is and I’ve counted four fantasy novels, one mystery, one memoir, all the short fiction I do during my writing group times, and this blog.) I’ve been curious about what that number would like for a while now. Maybe I’ll share that with y’all later. 🙂

What are y’all working on this month? Doesn’t have to be writing. What’s your passion project? Tell me about it in the comments.

Posted in Computers and Internet, Lifelong learning, Writing

Artist Dates

Another one of Julia Cameron’s big things is taking yourself on an Artist Date. Julia describes them thusly: “The Artist Date is a once-weekly, festive, solo expedition to explore something that interests you. The Artist Date need not be overtly “artistic”– think mischief more than mastery. Artist Dates fire up the imagination. They spark whimsy.”

A bajillion years ago when I did my first Julia Cameron experience, I had no kids, I lived in a big city, I wasn’t immunocompromised, and there was no pandemic going on. So there are big changes in the here and now version of my life.

I’m really not leaving the house much these days. I go on walks around the neighborhood, the grocery store occasionally, and Wal-mart even less often than that. Not much more than that. So Artist Dates are hard to imagine right now. Fortunately, the group I’m doing this with is awesome and came up with a list of alternate ideas for artist dates, some of which I’ll share below:

For this week, I did an Artist Date with my youngest son. We painted “pawtraits” of some local rescue cats as part of a charity fundraiser to raise money for O’Malley Alley Cats in Tyler (the group we fostered for this spring and summer).

Posted in Computers and Internet, My Own Personal Weirdness, The Past Comes Back to Haunt Me, Writing

BYOB

I am taking an online writing class called BYOB – Blog Your Own Book. It’s thirty-one days of blogging with a goal to use the posts to make an e-book at the end of the month. I’ve decided to blog my own adoption story from start to finish, with a few meanderings here and there to talk about Adoptee Rights, the psychology behind healing the emotional wounds of adoption, websites that help people search, and other adoption related topics. I plan to send copies of the resulting e-book to my family members when it is complete.

I am telling the story from just my point of view, I am leaving out possibly salacious bits of information that might upset anyone involved, and I am not posting the given names of those who are featured in my story. Everyone named will be given a pseudonym to protect their anonymity.

I’ve chosen to post my pieces on Medium because there is the possibility of getting paid for my posts there. If this series works out, I will write more stories on Medium about other topics.

Here is the link to the first piece: https://medium.com/life-according-to-lisa/my-quick-and-dirty-adoption-story-e44ecc9a79db

Posted in Around the House, Computers and Internet, Crafts, Exercise, Family Time, Friend Time, health, Lifelong learning, Music, My Own Personal Weirdness, Organizing, Parenting, Television & Film

Huge List of Activities to do with Kids during Covid-19

I started this document ages ago and have shared it with many friends, family members, and FB forums already. It’s compiled from many, many different places: lists on facebook, travel websites, space websites, family websites, school websites. It’s broken down into categories for ease of use: The Arts, Books, Celebrities, Coding, Crafts, Disney, Exercise, Food, Movies/TV/ Mental Health, Museums, Music, School Related, Travel, and Non-Internet Things to Do.

Hope you enjoy it. Here’s the link.

Posted in Computers and Internet, Crafts, Family Time, Lifelong learning, My Own Personal Weirdness, Organizing, Parenting

Summer of Themes 2020

School got out a couple weeks ago, but my family has been taking a little staycation. I spent some time working on my summer plan for the kids. With summer camps being out of the question, we went back to the drawing board and decided we were going to do another summer of themed days. We’ve done them off an on for years and I first wrote about them here and here.

A lot has changed since then– we’re down to two children at home now, both teens, the internet can be viewed on the big TV in the living room, and free videos abound about far more subjects than we’ll ever have time to watch.

Here’s a link to this year’s list of themes. I’m updating them weekly on Sunday mornings, usually. Feel free to download and change for your own needs. 🙂

Posted in Around the House, Computers and Internet, Exercise, Family Time, Lifelong learning, My Own Personal Weirdness, Organizing, Parenting

Our Quarantine Home Life

Sundays are fairly normal. My husband, Nick, gets up around 6:30am and exercises, then I get up and make some breakfast. The midkid and I watch our church service online instead of driving two minutes down the road. Nick and Greg make a grocery list, which Ree and I add to once our church is over. Then Nick goes out shopping for a couple hours while the kids and I do some household chores. In the later afternoon we watch another documentary or play a board game. Sometimes Nick has to work some more. Then the Nick makes dinner, the kids set the table, and we eat dinner. Then it’s time for showers and bed.

On any given weekday, Nick gets up at 5:30am, goes to the living room and exercises with some weights my kid brought home randomly from my dad’s house. He is so thankful for that. I wake up at 6am and grab a cup of tea and a chat with him before he heads off to shower. I read the news until it’s time to swap. After my shower, I dress myself and put on makeup and jewelry because that is one little piece of sanity in my day.

Nick starts work at 7:15am in the home office I rigged up for him from the desk our college kind left behind. It’s perpendicular to my own home office. We hung a curtain from the ceiling between us so our online meeting people don’t have to see the other person in the room. I also need it there because I cannot write if someone is looking over my shoulder. I’m also not used to people being home during the day. I usually spend quite a lot of time alone and I’m going a little bit crazy without alone time.

7:15am is also when I wake up the kids. They don’t wander out until nearly 8am, so I spend time playing the new Animal Crossing Game. It’s very soothing to have someplace to go and other villagers to visit with. My brain doesn’t care that it’s not real. Once the kids come out, we eat breakfast and then take a walk around the neighborhood. I try to pick a different kind of thing to look for every day, just to keep it interesting. Sometimes it’s a kind of tree or a bug or a bird.

When we come back inside, our 7th grader  has an online meeting at 9am. The teacher says its optional, but she also texts me every time he doesn’t show up, so I try to make sure he goes into the Zoom meeting before I leave his room. Then I encourage our 10th grader to look at his assignments. His teachers haven’t posted much at all, so he’s inclined not to check unless I stand there and watch him do it. Since he has 8 classes to check, this takes a while.

At 11am,  I coax the kids away from the computers and we start looking at our lunch options. I’m usually the one that buys the lunch food, but I cannot go out because I’m immunocompromised, so we have to make do with what my husband brings home. He rarely thinks of lunch food. By noon, we’ve come up with something, eaten it, and the kids wander back to their devices for some recreational screen time while I chat with my husband, who has an hour off for lunch. Sometimes instead I hide in our now-quiet bedroom and luxuriate in the fact that no one is speaking to me.

At 1pm, it’s instrument practicing time. Each kid has two instruments, so one plays for 30 minutes, then the other, and then back and forth again. Sometimes I don’t have to monitor this time period. If I can get away with it, I sneak off to do some writing or editing.

From 3-5pm, it’s serious school work time. The middle school teachers have been assigning all the things, so our youngest has a TON of work. The high school kid does not. So I have the youngest ask the middle one for help during this time while I go do my “work hours.” I have a lot of volunteer positions — Secretary for the Tyler Council of PTA’s as well as focus person for Bell, Moore, Lee, and Andy Woods PTA’s when they need help, Secretary for the Lee Band Parents Association, Secretary for the Moore Middle School PTA, Membership chair and Assistant Webmaster for the East Texas Writers Guild, Facilitator for this group. Plus I’m a member of  two critique groups. Some of my groups have successfully transitioned to online meetings, some have not.

At 5pm, I encourage the kids to go play outside or water the garden or weed something. Soon it will be too hot for that, so we may swap our morning walk for yard work, do indoor chores during this time, and take a post dinner walk.

From there, the kids get some non-homework time until dinner set up starts. I usually try to find some artistic thing for them to do or science experiment to run instead of more screen time. Some times it works. Occasionally one of them has an online music lesson during this time.

We eat dinner around 7pm, like we always have. After dinner, it’s time for a family board game or more Animal Crossing, which we play on the big screen together in group mode. Occasionally Nick or I will have an online meeting for one of our groups instead. (He’s on the security and media teams at church and he’s also trying to host online game nights for some of his co-workers who are quarantined alone.)  Then showers for the kids and they are sent off to read in bed until they fall asleep. Nick and I go to bed around 10pm after watching Star Trek: the Next Generation.

Fridays are different because Nick only works half days. We have our eldest son over (he lives alone around the corner from us) and do some take-out for lunch. Then play a game, usually. He goes home afterwards. Then Nick’s been finding household jobs to do to keep him occupied while the kids finish their school days. He’ll make a fancier dinner that night.

Saturdays are pretty normal. We wake up later, sit around reading or playing music on our instruments, then eat a bigger brunch. Nick’s church meets on Saturday, so he and the bookend boys watch the service online while I sneak off to write. Our midkid wanders off to read. After church is over, we have a family dinner and maybe some more board games. Sometimes we watch a documentary together. Then the eldest goes home and we do our nighttime routine.

And that’s our week.

Posted in Computers and Internet, My Own Personal Weirdness, What I Love

More groups!

I like to post things on Facebook that I find helpful or that I think other people will find helpful. I’ve been doing it all week and apparently other people have noticed. I’ve been added to not one, but two East Texas Covid-19 Help and Support Groups (not their actual names, mind you). So I spent a substantial part of my last couple days copying and pasting links from my personal page to these pages. Then I cross-posted links previously posted from each group to the other one. Such fun! Seriously, though, it feels good to actually be doing something to help others right now. Everything seems to be getting worse out there. I can’t leave the house because of my own health issues. Kids are getting wacky. I’m just happy to help others out there in similar positions. If you’re interested in joining either group, let me know and I’ll send you an invite. 🙂

Posted in Around the House, Computers and Internet, Writing

Writing Group, Facebook style

Back before all this coronavirus craziness hit, our public library had asked our writing group to consider having an online presence. People had complained that they weren’t able to come at noon on a Wednesday, not to mention for a two-hour period all at once. Some people in wackier places, like the Phillipines, wanted to join our group as well. A poll of the current group took place –the people attending said they couldn’t meet or didn’t want to meet in the evenings, so we were at an impasse.

The library decided to set us up with a Facebook Group page, with our four in-person facilitators (myself included) as moderators. Today we started our online writing group adventure a little earlier than we had planned for, due to coronavirus closing our library. One of our facilitators figured out how to pre-schedule posts so they could go up when she wanted them to, just in case she turned out to be unavailable at the right time. Prompts got posted several times over the two-hour time slot we usually met. People could come and go, writing at whatever time worked for their schedules.

Personally, I was having internet woes by that point in the day. Having extra people at home using the internet constantly means that sometimes the internet goes wonky when you least expect it. So I wrote on the prompts later in the day. Other people have joined in, several of which I haven’t met in person before. I think it went pretty well, so I’m going to volunteer to moderate for next week. 🙂 Let me know if you want to join us and I’ll shoot you a link to the online group.

Posted in Around the House, Computers and Internet, Everywhere But Home, Lifelong learning

Spring Break Summary

Yesterday Spring Break ended. It wasn’t that exciting. Nick and I were minorly sick the first weekend, then Ree had his wisdom teeth out that Monday.

I saw the Endodontist on Tuesday and they told me I needed a tooth removed and sent me back to my regular dentist to have that done. I got a new shelf for my desk area that I found on deep discount at Michael’s when I looked for planner stuff. I got it all set up the way I liked.


Wednesday was the writer’s group at the library, which sadly I skipped because we were trying to get everything done so we could leave on time the next morning for College Station. We got Greg a laptop computer so he could start typing most of his assignments, which we’d discussed with his 504 committee the week before.

We drove down to College Station on Thursday. By then the coronavirus crazies had started. Nick tried to go to the grocery and they had announcements the entire time about what you could and could not buy. A fight broke out in the parking lot, and he came home without toilet paper. The rest of us just stayed at the house and watched movies.

Movie watching and dog snuggling
We also played games!

On Saturday, Steph and I were supposed to attend a Marbling Workshop at the Bookbindery. It ended up canceled. I went out with my dad and bought him a new computer so he could teach classes online for the next week or so until all this social distancing stops. His old computer was ancient, y’all. This was completely necessary.

Today I spent the morning fixing up the computer for my dad and transferring files and all that goodness. It took forever. Setting up two computers in two weeks. What was I thinking?! Eventually we drove back home. Bluebonnets have started showing up in fields now that weren’t there when we drove down. Could it be Spring?