Nano Struggles

I’m really struggling with Nanowrimo this year. I have zero energy, very little in the way of time for writing, and since I spent time working on writing classwork instead of planning this years nano novel, every time I sit down to write, I instead end up spending 3/4 of the time working on background info and character sketches. So for every 2 hour block of writing time, I get maybe 30 minutes of good writing in, which gets me about 500 words a day. But I haven’t had time every day because of days like Tuesday, where I spent all morning working on PTA stuff, went to the meeting, had to stay late to work on yet more stuff, and that used up all my free time and energy for the day. Or days like Wednesday, where I spent time writing for class, went to class, and only got real words on the book done during the Write-in that I could only stay an hour for (because they scheduled them during school pick-up time.).

By Friday this week I really just gave up. There was no way to get ahead with the way things were going. I sat down to write and spent an hour doing background planning again and while I got a lot of good information out of that session (and got to use my son’s new Apple Pencil, which is how I convinced myself to do it in the first place), I just couldn’t see how I was going to finish.

But then this morning, my sweet spouse asked how it was going and if I was 1/3 of the way through my novel like I should be. I told him about my struggles and he encouraged me to spend more time writing, to put it all into the calendar and enforce those times, and that he’d get me up every morning at 4am if that’s what needed to happen so I’d get my time in.

So here I am, blogging instead of writing. I can’t get into novel-mode with as short a time period as I have until breakfast, plus two of my sons have wandered through since I started typing (and in the time it took to start and end that part of the sentence, one of them wandered back in a second time, but it’s his birthday, so I’m indulging his wandering-ins because he’s showing me photos from his friends celebrating him at midnight last night.).

Here’s my writing schedule for the next three weeks (barring disaster):

  • Sundays: 7-9am at home, 2-4pm at the library write-in
  • Mondays: 9-11am and 1-3pm at home
  • Tuesdays: 9-11am and 1-3pm at home
  • Wednesdays: 2-3:15pm at the library write-in (will also write for classwork 9-11am, but it doesn’t count towards nanowrimo)
  • Thursdays: 9-11am at home
  • Fridays: 9-11am and 1-3pm at home
  • Saturdays: 3-5pm at the Barnes & Noble write-in

Mathematically, if I get 30 good minutes writing for every two hours spent times 500 words per session times three weeks like that, I should be at 50,000 words by Christmas. *sigh* Maybe I’ll have to start writing in the early mornings and late nights, too.

Nurturing Oneself

I had an early brunch with a dear, dear friend of mine this morning. As we sat in her sweet little breakfast nook with tea, boiled eggs, and stollen, we chatted about how the year was going and she asked me what I was doing to nurture myself. Honestly y’all, I babbled out an answer full of things that made her go “THAT’S what you find nourishing?” Things like scheduling things, making sure everything had a task associated with it, being better organized, etc. She expressed a bit of doubt with my methods, but being the gracious hostess she is, she just let it go and the topic moved onward.

I got home a while later and really started thinking about it. I am not really a planner. Oh, I try and try to be, but in the end every plan lasts a few days and then I scrap it. So I spent some time just meditating on the idea of nurture and what it meant to me.

Here’s what I came up with:

  1. Nurturing me means extra time around everything so I can digest experiences. Yes, that means a bit of planning, but it is soooo good to have time around things and not just be chock-a-block busy.
  2. Nurturing me also means time for music, which I have not been making. The words “I haven’t played the piano since I got these progressive lenses” slipped out of my mouth and now that I’ve ruminated on it, I got the glasses in January (9 months ago) and haven’t really touched the piano since my mom died.  Hmmm….
  3. Nurturing me means time to read. I have “Time to Read” in my Habit Tracker, but how much have I really been reading? None. Like one day a week, which is very close to none for a Lisa.
  4. Nurturing me also means eating foods I actually like. My husband is very good about cooking dinner, but he is very bad about making food that I really am fond of. Part of that is that the kids hate everything and part of that is that we really, Nick and I, have a totally different palate. I’ve been cooking my own lunches this week and eating all the things I love, like mushrooms and onions and zucchini and sweet potatoes and cabbage, and have been so happy at lunch time!

Anyways, that’s what’s on my mind today. Time to go eat the mushroom/onion/zucchini/feta dish that’s been sauteing while I type. 🙂  Hope y’all have a good afternoon!


It’s around the one year anniversary of me taking myself and my writing seriously. It took a big health scare to do it, but I finally started regularly doing the things that make me feel all sparkly inside when I do it. Since then I’ve been writing or reading-about-writing as closely to daily as possible, I’ve joined classes and groups that have helped me not just work on my craft, but also expanded my knowledge of areas of writing and publishing that I had been previously unaware of. I’ve scaled back on a myriad of things that I was doing just because they filled a need for others and have tried to concentrate my efforts on things that I am really good at or knowledgable about (being the secretary for organizations and helping PTA’s learn & grow). Despite some hard times this last year, I feel like it’s been a year of growth and I’m excited to expand on that and start putting my writing out into world this next year. 🙂

Another Exciting Friday Night

Chronic illness style fun: My exciting night has been spent stalking my middle child at the football game via friends posts & videos, listening to top 10 lists on watch mojo with Nick, and generally resting so I can be ready to train new PTA leaders first thing in the morning. 🙂

This week has gone well

Since I cut back on social media and kids have gone back to school, I have read two books (one of them my nearly complete novel), made notes on what needs to be finished in said novel, started and nearly finished this weeks work on a mystery cross stitching project that involves new kinds of stitches and blends, and gone shopping three times for more school supplies and floss. Oh, and attended a brunch, started using a new-to-me online writing group app, and not gone hyperactive with my blood pressure like I have the last several years this time of year. Wahoo me! 🙂 (Also I have drank A LOT of tea. A LOT.)

Changing Priorities

Having that moment/series of ongoing moments where I realize that my interests/priorities have shifted in the last year. Pondering changes that will be needed to support things that are floating to the surface and how to gently extricate myself from things that used to be higher on the list. #thismessagebroughttoyoubytherapy #changeisgrowth #closingdoorsopeningwindows

I joined a gym

To enjoy the glow of good health, you must exercise.
-Gene Tunney

After a month of pros & cons lists, visiting local gyms either via online tours or in person, and asking lots of people lots of questions about their exercising and health efforts, I have finally joined a gym. (I see you out there looking shocked. You may close your mouths now. 😉 )

I know it’s taken me some time, but I’m finally ready to get back on the health bandwagon. Some may be amused that I’m starting so near to the Feast of Tabernacles, but I am all about starting now that I’m ready, rather than waiting until some nebulous “perfect time” that never will come.

Fitness plans (this week and next)

  1. I’m already taking a daily walk with the dog. Started that just this week. It calms us both down and makes us happy. Win!
  2. I joined the gym. I learned the machines this morning, but there will be someone there every day, every hour they are open to answer my silly questions. This was a big deal to me. I forget how to do a lot of things (like brushing my teeth. how can you forget that? My mind is a seriously weird place.).
  3. Tomorrow I will be resting from this week’s craziness. Resting is a goodness.
  4. Sunday, I will find my FLEX, charge it, and then I might go to the gym. I forgot to ask their hours. Oh wait, they may be in the stack of papers the trainer handed me. I dumped them in my inbox and forgot about them. Hmm.
  5. Monday, I will go back to the gym and try out the circuit. It will be good because I tried the machines today and only one made me want to cry. The trainer said that was the machine everyone hates the most. Well, yay for that machine. That night I will look at my stats on the computer because they should be available by then.
  6. Tuesday I am trying out Zumba for the first time. They promised not to laugh at me. I am glad about that. I am not terribly coordinated when it comes to watching someone do something and then doing it myself. I hope I don’t hurt anyone.
  7. Wednesday, I am taking a break. My trainer said I should have a couple in there during the week to let my muscles rest.  Woo hoo! (Also, I have Bible Study Fellowship on Wednesday mornings.)
  8. Thursday, I am either doing more Zumba or the circuit again. It depends on whether I broke myself and/or others doing Zumba on Tuesday.
  9. Friday, I will go do the circuit again. I will check my stats again and I will be happy that I finished out the week. 🙂


Cross-posted at The Thousand Teeth

Looking towards summer

I have been breathless with busy-ness (four field trips, school carnival, track and field day, and a spring recital) and all the household fallout that happens after a couple of weeks of not taking care of it at all. But today, finally, there is some breathing room and I am sitting here in my pajamas drinking coffee and looking ahead to the summer.

Summers past
Okay, so this is the past.  Look at my babies: they were so little. This was in South Dakota at our last big family reunion 7 years ago.

Let me tell you about summer in my house: if I do not plan it out, we devolve into days that revolve around the electronic screens. We end up lying around staring mindlessly into them and there’s an occasional death match figuring out who goes next for what screen or game or show and we never see the sunlight. That and eat. Seriously.  Last summer we had this kind of non-schedule and I HATED it. Not only that, but the kids hated it, too.  So it’s back to the drawing board.

This is what I want to avoid.
This is what I want to avoid.

Here’s how I plan things for our summers at home: First I put into the calendar all the camps, trips, fun days at the library or city parks, and obligations we have.  Then I go spelunking through the internet, looking for bizarre holidays/celebrations/etc that I can pull into play as themes for the days we have left. (My favorite site is Brownie Locks, which is not the prettiest to look at, but has good info and links updated every year. Holiday Insights is also pretty good and is much easier on the eyes.)  Some dates have nothing good or nothing that fit in with my kids interests, so I go ahead or behind and pull things from other days to fill in days (those are the ones listed as “rescheduled” in the pages linked below.)

At the library
At the library for storytime many years ago. That particular day a doctor came in and read the kids stories about hospitals. It was pretty cool. They still do things like this, but they also have afternoon activities for older kids.

Once I have a theme for a day, I start looking for websites that have free worksheets, interesting videos, yummy snacks, or fun projects within that theme to do with the kiddos.  I also have a board of ideas (well, one for each season and one for each kid individually as well) on pinterest that I add to year-round, so I’ll go through that and pull things out I’ve saved. This year we have swimming lessons taking up pretty much a large portion of June, so we’ll go easy on those theme days and have one little craft for each day and I’ll look up books at the library for our daily reading time to coincide with the theme. In July (after our big trip) and August, we’ll go more in-depth with things and I’ll plan bigger projects and even field trips to work with the theme. For example, for Video Games Day we’ll take a look at what it takes to code our own games on the computer and maybe go out to the arcade in the mall if the kids aren’t as interested in that as I think they’ll be (I’m betting we won’t need to go, but I like back-up plans). For Amelia Earhart day, we’ll probably visit the little local airport and watch the airplanes come and go and at home we’ll watch some of the videos that have popped up recently about her crash site being possibly found.  We might also look into how flying has changed in the last decades and study about how airplanes work (yay physics!).

One year we had cousins and still did our daily theme schedule.  This photo is from years ago, obviously. :)
One year we had a cousin over and still did our daily theme schedule. David was working on his special project and M was doing a coloring sheet. This photo is from years ago, obviously. 🙂


I also have a daily schedule that we follow. We start our day outside (because we live in Texas and it’s over 80 degrees already when we wake up), doing some gardening followed by playing in the yard or riding bikes or going to the sprayground. Then we move indoors once we’re too hot to play anymore and have a snack & spend some time reading before lunch. My husband comes home at noon most days, so we have a bit of time to catch up on our days activities while having lunch.  After lunch we start working on our “homework” type stuff. We have instruments to practice, theory workbooks, and a summer bridge activities workbook the school district sends home every year. We’ll work our special projects (or in June we have swimming lessons) around in there sometime after all that is done. Then we do some indoor chores, mainly cleaning up from the aforementioned special projects, and then the kids will have some time to themselves for a bit of screen time or personal reading or playing with the puppy. Whatever they want until their daddy gets home and it’s time for dinner and showers and bed.


An example of a Special Project - this took all summer long during "Special Project" time on our schedule
An example of a Special Project – this took all summer long during “Special Project” time on our schedule

I know some of you are going: Wait, what about friends visiting?! What about playdates at other people’s houses?! What about enjoying the freedom of summer?!  The kids all LOVE this themed day schedule, by the way.  They actually asked this year if we could go back to doing it this way. (Ok, to be completely honest, they hate the gardening part. That’s not my idea, but my husband grew up on a farm and he wants the kids to know how to grow things in case of some sort of apocalyptic future occurs they won’t die of starvation.) Just so you know,  some of these themed day plans will get thrown out the window.  We have missionary friends that are coming back home for the summer break that we’ll want to hang out with, we might get girl cousins who aren’t as into “boy things” now that they are older to come over for a day or two, we have other out-of-town friends that we might go visit for a couple of days. Some days the kids are more interested in another day’s activities or I run out of supplies for something earlier in the week than I expected to. Those days we just change things up.  I usually have two or three activities floating around in the back of my brain for days like that. There’ll also be days that we are just plain tired of being with ourselves/people in general that we may give in and have a screen-time-all-day-long break.  We’re human, we can make exceptions to our own rules.

One day a friend called and asked us over right that minute to help try out an inflatable water slide they got for a party. Of course we went right over!
One day a friend called and asked us over right that minute to help try out an inflatable water slide they got for a party. Of course we went right over!

So here are my drafts of our daily schedules and theme day plans. Feel free to download them and change them up to fit your needs. I made them in Word, so that should be easy to do. 🙂  Enjoy!





The Wind That Shakes The Barley

There’s music in my heart all day, 
     I hear it late and early, 
It comes from fields are far away, 
     The wind that shakes the barley. 

Above the uplands drenched with dew 
     The sky hangs soft and pearly, 
An emerald world is listening to 
     The wind that shakes the barley. 

Above the bluest mountain crest 
     The lark is singing rarely, 
It rocks the singer into rest, 
     The wind that shakes the barley. 

Oh, still through summers and through springs 
     It calls me late and early. 
Come home, come home, come home, it sings, 
     The wind that shakes the barley.


Katharine Tynan Hinkson

Bible Study Fellowship

About 11 years ago, when we first moved to Tyler, I was invited several wonderful places to get plugged in to the local community. One of them was Bible Study Fellowship (hereafter known as BSF). I went to a couple meetings towards the end of their year, met some lovely people, but ultimately decided to join the Mothers of Preschoolers (MOPs) group at the church I actually attended (BSF meets at another church across town), which also on Wednesday mornings.

Fast forward 11 or so years and here I am again at the end of a study, joining into a new-to-me group. But this time it’s better.  Well, not BSF. BSF has always been good.  I’M better now.  I’ve had 11 years to find my way through life, make friends, lose friends, finally get some sleep, and to find out what’s important to me and what is not.

I went to my first real meeting this morning (last week I attended a one-on-one welcome session with the lovely lady that had been my HR director at a former job, oddly enough).  It was such a good morning. I’d finished all my personal Bible study during the week and was prepared for conversation.  I made my way to my classroom and found a group of women that I found delightful.  It was such a nice mix of women willing to speak out and ask the kind of questions that might intimidate others (either with their incisiveness or with their apparent lack of knowledge) and women that were quiet until a specific thing they felt passionate enough about to warrant speaking and still others who, like me, just had what seemed to be the most simple of answers.

I am so glad that I stepped out of my comfort zone and made my way to this group. I think it’s going to be a very good thing in my life. 🙂