Trying to Keep Up

I’m sure you’ve been wondering where I’ve been lately. Here’s the scoop:

Toward the end of 2018, just before my mother passed away, I joined a local professional writing group. I’ve spent the last year waiting for a spot in one of their critique groups to open up, and meantime I (and my friend E from NANOWRIMO2018) started attending a weekly writing group at the public library as well. The library group has writers from many genres, but doesn’t critique the work we bring in. Mostly we do several writing prompts for 10 minutes each. It’s been fun stretching my writing skills with them.

In December, a spot finally opened up. Two, actually. I brought my friend E with me to this group. We got started and then a week later, our library group started an off-shoot group for critiquing as well. E and I both have multiple novels in our back pocket needing critique work, so we joined this group as well. Both groups meet every other week. One group has five ladies and one has just three for now. One group has no other speculative fiction writers, the other is all about that.

I also joined two book clubs. One with the Unitarian Universalist church my mid-kid and I have been attending. It meets in person once a month and they have a full 12 month schedule plotted out—most of the books are some historical fiction or something similar. Last month it was The Secrets We Kept. This month it is Rules of Civility.The other book club is a feminist book club with an old college friend and some of her other friends. It meets online twice a month, and is covering an Audible book Warriors, Queens, and Intellectuals: 36 Great Women Before 1400.

In between all that, there’s been the usual PTA/BPA stuff, family events (Board Game Extravaganza! SuperBowl!), and the kids had band All Region events. We visited an event at NASA that my dad’s cousin spoke at (he was one of the Gallaudet Eleven) and got to spend time with him, then went back to BCS and visited with my sister, her new girlfriend, and my best friend.

I lost my planner sometime in the middle there. Finally gave in and bought a new one, so now I’m back on schedule. Literally. I wrote out a new schedule. Expect more blog posts, FB, IG, and Twitter from my author accounts. I even set up Hootsuite to help me keep track of it all.

Hope everyone’s doing well out there. Drop me a comment if you’re interested in seeing any photos from the NASA event. 🙂

Site updates

I’m working on bringing a more professional look to my website as I transition from a more family style blog site to an author website. Most of the blog content will remain the same: meanderings on life, family news, burbling about books I’ve read or places I’ve been, writing or crafting thoughts. But the main screens and some of the other pages are getting updates to look nicer. I’m getting organized for life as an author. DON’T LET THAT SCARE YOU OFF! 🙂

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.

Planning for Writing

I have been stuck at home either in my bed or in my favorite chair today because moving is ridiculously painful and just sitting makes me cringe, but have been watching all those videos I have amassed over the last few weeks of being too busy to watch them, so there’s that. Learning about other people’s planner hacks, some new-to-me novel planning procedures, and doing a little background research for the next novel. Have loved being cozy while watching the rain and breezes outside my window.

The Missing Planner Saga

Everything is a saga this week and I’m chronicling them because I am working on practicing upping my word counts for NANOWRIMO next month.

I am a Day Planner enthusiast. I use one year in, year out, have done since I was a freshman in high school. It always lines up with the school year, even as an adult, because I’ve always bought one-year academic calendars and I started in August and it ends in July every year and I get another one. Over the years the things I’ve used it for have changed, but I always use one. Those of you that see me in person know that I also use my phone calendar. I have an online Google calendar for each of my family members and one for the whole family. I’m pretty obsessed with keeping it up to date and I get pretty annoyed when people don’t keep up their end of the bargain with their calendars. There is quite a lot of overlap with my two systems, but it is not 100%. My paper planner tends to hold a lot of things that my online calendar does not, like personal schedules for crocheting things, when to mail cards to loved ones for weird anniversaries of things that probably don’t make sense to anyone else, passwords to things I use fairly frequently yet didn’t get to make the password for (I remember ones I made), notes about what I’m writing, when I want to blog about certain things, gift ideas for the kids and the cousins, kids current sizes, colors I like for painting the other half of the bathroom, stars and triangles and hearts and circles to remind me about progress with different things or pain levels or how many headaches I’ve had lately. It’s my brain outsourced, basically. I feel lost without it.

The last full day we were in Florida everyone was supposed to come home from church and pack up all their stuff. I knew this, and I knew that at least one of my kids was going to need help, so I spent my time at home in the morning washing clothes and pulling stuff out of dark corners and drawers of forgetfulness. I was just about done in my own room, one drawer mid-way to clear, when the kids started pounding on the door to come back into the condo.

I slid the drawer closed, set the bag I was working on down beside the bed, and went to open the front door. The kids exploded in, each telling me in their separate ways simultaneously what their dad had told them to do as soon as they got in. It was basically exactly what I had told them when they’d left: come in, change into play clothes, eat some lunch, and then start your packing.

I got busy taking laundry out of the dryer and putting more in. I moved on to showing kids for the umpteenth time how to roll their clothes to fit them all in their suitcases. I tried to get people to do their homework.

I completely forgot about the drawer I was emptying.

The next day, I double checked the kids rooms, looking under beds, inside closets, and even into drawers I knew they hadn’t used. I double checked their bathrooms for forgotten toiletries. I double checked the kitchen for hidden food, forgotten laundry, and dirty towels. I double checked the living room sofa for items that slid between the cushions, behind the entertainment center, and under the edges of the sliding curtains. I double checked my bathroom, my closet, the other closet, the dresser, the other part of the bathroom. I looked under the bed, under the chairs, behind the headboard.

I completely forgot about the drawer.

So we traveled home. I dug a few times into the bag that should have held the contents of that drawer. I thought it felt light, but several people were reading books out of that bag, so I didn’t really think about it too hard.

This morning, amidst the chaos with the dogs, I reached into the bag to pull out my planner so I could make today’s To Do list. It wasn’t there. I looked through the few bags left packed. Not there. I thought I spied it on my bedroom floor peeking out from a pile of books, but that was just a scrap of the fabric I used to cover it.

Panic set it.

Everyone else was calm about it: “Just call the condo and have them look for it. They will mail it to you.” I know, I know. But I need it to make the list so that I can remember to make the call when the condo office opens. If it’s not on the list, it doesn’t get done.

So I printed a copy of the online calendar for this week. It’s not the same format as my paper planner. I started writing things in that I thought I remembered I needed to do. I dug out last years planner and stared at this weeks list from last year and I felt a bit calmer. I added a few things I wouldn’t have thought of until it was too late. I tried to remember if I had any tasks from new positions I’ve taken on this year (I haven’t. Sorry!)

Once I ran around and dealt with dog things for a while, I finally had time to call the condo office. Well, first the resort hotline, which was just booking. They gave me the resort office number. The resort office transferred me to housekeeping. Housekeeping said they had a book and some glasses from that room yesterday, but it all had been sent on to Owners Services. They said things usually take around a week to get back to the people that left them behind. Housekeeping took my name and number and sent it on to Owners Services and said that they would call me soon. Seven hours later they did. Owners Services took my name and address and phone number and said they were calling another service to come to pick up my book and glasses – I did ask about that then because I lost my planner, not a book, and a pile of papers that was also in the drawer, but no glasses. They said they only had a list in their location and hadn’t actually ever seen anything but the list – and this other service would call me tomorrow or the next day to set up shipping and payment information.

So I still don’t have my planner. *sigh* This week ahead is going to be rough.

Create more

I’m finally getting around to the “Create more” portion of “Pin-free February!”

The first thing I’m trying to “create more” of is less chaos.  🙂  I know that sounds weird, but that’s the first thing on my list.  So I’ve been emptying bins around the house and making sure that they are filled with what they’re supposed to be filled with and then I’m labeling them.  I’ve also got a few new/new-to-this use bins and have been putting them into use.

New baskets for hats in the hall closet
New baskets for hats in the hall closet

Newly labeled (but definitely not new) bins in the hallway closet.
Newly labeled (but definitely not new) bins in the hallway closet.

Reorganized & labeled kitchen drawers.  I'm trying to teach the kids to be a bit more independent when emptying the dishwasher.
Reorganized & labeled kitchen drawers. I’m trying to teach the kids to be a bit more independent when emptying the dishwasher.

Kids bathroom drawer: now organized & with labels!  (that black tray came from today's kids meal - saving money FTW!)
Speaking of kids independence: kids bathroom drawer: now organized & with labels! (that black tray came from today’s kids meal – saving money FTW!)

I’m also trying to create more beauty in my house.

I bought a cheap garland at the dollar store and prettied it up with some extra fake flowers I had lying around.  I looks a lot nicer in person, actually.
I bought a cheap garland at the dollar store and prettied it up with some extra fake flowers I had lying around. I looks a lot nicer in person, actually.

Prettying up my laundry room shelf - I think I'm finally going to repaint it once the rain goes away.
Prettying up my laundry room shelf – I think I’m finally going to repaint it once the rain goes away.

Later:

I spray painted the shelf and the picture frame (using a pinterest method that failed). and tried to decorate the other frame as well.
I spray painted the shelf pink, which is not a color you will really find a lot of in the house, and the picture frame I tried using a pinterest method that failed and I tried to decorate the other frame using a different pinterest method as well.

Combo: I spraypainted my  red key holder to match the shelf and run and I also labeled the hooks once again.  That empty space is awaiting a spraypainted basket.  :) I wanted to make it green but I didn't have the right shade so I once I realized it looked bad I decided not to hang it up until I got the color right.
Combo: I spray painted my red key holder to match the shelf and run and I also labeled the hooks once again. That space is awaiting a spray painted basket. 🙂 I wanted to make it green but I didn’t have the right shade so I once I realized it looked bad I decided not to hang it up until I got the color right.

My new laundry room rug - see how it picks up the colors from the fairies & art on the shelf?
My new laundry room rug – see how it picks up the colors from the fairies & art on the shelf now? YAY!  🙂

Little things

David stayed home Friday, so we stayed home and I did some little things I’d been meaning to get to (photo editing, making appointments, etc.) 🙂

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Greg helped Nick make dinner that night, which was super cute.
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:)Then later Nick and I had a wine & cheese night. 🙂 It was lovely.
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Yesterday was a church day, but today I got back to my little projects. I cleaned the front hallway closet, took out the hanging shoe rack thing since we haven’t been using it since we no longer exit out the front door in the mornings. I moved those items into bins on the floor of the closet (mostly spare hats & gloves, sunscreen & bug spray, and miscellaneous fun things we use mostly in the summer.) and threw out most of the junk that was in those bins previously.
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Next up I’m going to cut the shoe rack into fewer columns of cubbies since the outer rows are broken. I’m going to move those into the garage for wrapping supply storage. Then I moved my purse rack into the hall closet because it was messing with the calmness of my bedroom.
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After all that I put away my stamps & ink from last week and gave Greg the leftover bin for his science supplies.
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While I was doing all that, my menfolk were getting the garden started for the spring.
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Last week I was thinking that I’d love some kind of jewelry rack that hid my jewelry a bit more than what my current system did. By some miracle, I found just what I was looking for in the Family Dollar store:

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I bought two, because I have a lot of jewelry. (I also got a cute rug for my garage entryway/laundry room, but I forgot to take a photo of that.) I haven’t filled them with photos yet, but I’ve been digging through Flickr looking through 2009 photos (because they were lost in the Great Hard Drive Failure of 2009) and I’ll have those printed tomorrow while I’m getting things ready for a Secret Project.

Speaking of projects, I also helped Ben with his Solar System project this weekend. He decided to make a mobile, so we made balls from Sculpey, baked them, & painted them today.
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Now we’re having dinner and games with my parents. All in all a productive weekend.

Merrily I Roll Along

I’m adding to this post as I go on today.  Seemed like fun!

  • My bedroom & bathroom before (the parts I’m working on today only):
  • 9am

Bathroom before: the sink is rusting and I can't figure out how to stop it from dripping short of a bathroom renovation.  So I'm constantly having to wipe up down there.
Bathroom before: the sink is rusting and I can’t figure out how to stop it from dripping short of a bathroom renovation. So I’m constantly having to wipe up down there.

The tall cabinets before: Not too bad, but could be better.  The towels definitely need help and it'd be nice if my shelf were better organized.
The tall cabinets before: Not too bad, but could be better. The towels definitely need help and it’d be nice if my shelf were better organized.

Most of this stuff does not belong in my room, but it’s where stuff gets dropped when the kids can’t find other homes for stuff when they’re tidying other parts of the house. If I can’t find new homes for this stuff by end of day, I’m taking stuff to Goodwill on the way to pick up the kids.

  • After:
  • 10am:

I took  the old art bins to use as a cleaning bins for the bathrooms.  I moved out the unnecessary  sharps bin and extra cleaning supplies.  Tidy!
I took the old art bins to use as a cleaning bins for the bathrooms. I moved out the unnecessary sharps bin and extra cleaning supplies. Tidy!

I separated out mine and Nick's hoards of extra supplies into two bins up top, then tidied up the other three shelves below.  Then I put a different shelving unit in for the towels.
I separated out mine and Nick’s hoards of extra supplies into two bins up top, then tidied up the other three shelves below. Then I put a different shelving unit in for the towels.

  • noon

My spouse is home for lunch, but he is very busy preparing things for dinner. Apparently it is multi-step and I will need to assist as well. Yay?

  • 1:05pm

I just mashed potatoes for the first time ever. It was smushy. Then I added stuff to them. They smell good. 🙂 I am supposed to wait to eat them for dinner. Hmmm….

  • 1:30pm

Look: you can see the floor!  And the stack of linen-filled hat boxes have been emptied into a basket and put in the linen closet.  And the boxes of my grandmother & great-grandmother's china from the top shelf of  the linen closet got emptied into a cupboard in the kitchen and that cupboard in the kitchen got emptied into the donate-to-Goodwill box.
Look: you can see the floor! The stack of linen-filled hat boxes have been emptied into a basket and put in the linen closet. And the boxes of my grandmother & great-grandmother’s china from the top shelf of the linen closet got emptied into a cupboard in the kitchen and that cupboard in the kitchen got emptied into the donate-to-Goodwill box. I also drilled holes and installed the iron curtain tie-back things.

  • 2pm

If you look back at the day I was working on David's room, you'll remember that his closet top was very full of mess.  I cleared a bit out.
If you look back at the day I was working on David’s room, you’ll remember that his closet top was very full of mess. I cleared a bit out by moving stuff in the big bin into the little boxes that used to house china in the linen closet. Now it houses the pile o’ pants that used to be in that empty spot.

  • 2:45pm

No before picture, sorry.  I cleared out my magazine racks, filled them with the piles of Nick's magazines from the floor, and put them on shelves.  Then I cleared out the top shelf of the closet and put all the empty boxes from up there in the recycle bin.  Don't ask why I had empty boxes up there.  I don't know.
No before picture, sorry. I cleared out my magazine racks, filled them with the piles of Nick’s magazines from the floor, and put them on shelves. Then I cleared out the top shelf of the closet and put all the empty boxes from up there in the recycle bin. Don’t ask why I had empty boxes up there. I don’t know.

And last but not least, I started spraypainting Nick's side table.  It used to be blue and silver, but it was very scraped.  I say "started" because I used to have half a can of that paint and when I started spraying I realized that someone else must've used it for something because it was mostly empty. *sigh*
And last but not least, I started spray-painting Nick’s side table. It used to be blue and silver, but it was very scraped. I say “started” because I used to have half a can of that paint and when I started spraying I realized that someone else must’ve used it for something because it was mostly empty. *sigh* Anyway, I have a new-to-us alarm clock-and-Iphone-charger-player thingie to put on top of it. The younger kids are getting our old alarm clock-cd player and David is getting their old one, which doesn’t have readable numbers, but does have a CD player for him and then I’m going to hand him all the Weird Al CDs.

And that’s the end of that, because I’m having weird back spasms now.  I have definitely overdone it today.

More organizing

I promised more organizing for the next day’s post and many days have gone by and I can’t remember any more what I organized, so I’m looking through my pictures to help me remember:

See, now my three-tiered shelf can be for pretties again!  (Temporary display for now; first things my hands came to)
See, now my three-tiered shelf can be for pretties again! (Temporary display for now; first things my hands came to)

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This is our new art storage cart. I like that it has many drawers, so pens in one, markers, crayons, pencils, etc… I also like that it’s on wheels so it can live there in peace during regular life, or move to the kids room when Greg is on an art spree, or move into my room when we have guests over for dinner. 🙂

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This doesn’t look as tidy as I’d like, but for a $3 over-the-door tie-and-belt rack, it does the job. No more lost belts & ties! Woo hoo!

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Shoes are always going missing in this house, but NO MORE. Bottom two rows are Greg’s, next two are Ben’s, and next two are next-size-up for each of them (for those days when Daddy is impatient).

Honestly, I’ve gotten nothing else done since then, except a tiny bit in my makeup & hair boxes.  Steph and I did a writer’s retreat this weekend, which I posted about here(from a writing standpoint) and here (from an RA standpoint).  Since I’m still working on last month’s holidays, I brought her her family’s gifts, and she sent some home with me for the boys as well.

There were cards & gifts from another friend in there as well.  :)
There were cards & gifts from another friend in there as well. 🙂

The kids were out of school on Monday, so we had a quiet, fun day:

Greg pulled out his science kit and we spent quite a while trying out all its tricks.
Greg pulled out his science kit and we spent quite a while trying out all its tricks.

I remember playing on this with them when they were all babies!
I remember playing on this with them when they were all babies!

This sign on the door of the bathroom at the park cracked me up!
This sign on the door of the bathroom at the park cracked me up!

and worked in the garden. Ben had scouts in the evening. I don’t know that we should call it that anymore, as he’s the only one that ever shows up any more. *sigh*

Yesterday I didn’t have to work, but I did have a bunch of errands to run: a Goodwill drop-off where I spoke to a man named Ram about how God changed his life, a grocery store run to buy lunch makings since the kids had eaten them all up over the weekend, and then my book study on Raising Resilient Kids over at the PDC. After school Ben had dance, so Greg and I hit the dollar store so he could use some of his Christmas money. Then off to piano lessons, where we got a lesson on what goes on inside the piano and how all the pedals work. It was awesome!

Our teacher is super interesting!  :)  We love her!
Our teacher is super interesting! 🙂 We love her!

Today I was hoping to sub, but haven’t gotten a call, so I’m going to go off and work on some stuff in my bedroom, which has all the boxes of “doesn’t live here” from David’s room cleaning last week. It’s pretty scary and I’m tired of looking at them! Once I get done with that, it’s time for fun stuff: writing! 🙂