Now Writing!

During our writing retreat last weekend, Steph told me her writing group was doing Novel-in-90 starting March 1st, so I joined that community. Yesterday we started. I didn’t get as much done as I wanted because I was busy, busy, and more than busy, but I hope to make up for it today.

I am working this year mainly on the Magical PTA novel, which I started during a different Novel-in-90 with the same group of people a couple years ago. I’m about 25,000ish words into it already, as I obviously didn’t finish last time. Hoping to do much better this time around. ūüôā

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Last Week at the Blue House of Joy

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In between the arm breaking and fall festival shopping craziness, things still did get done around here.

  • I got a plastic dresser from the clearance rack at Wal-mart (bright turquoise) for Greg’s closet and got his stuff moved over and Ben’s moved down. Now they have a shared Treasure Drawer and Ben has three drawers for clothes and so does Greg. I’d show you a photo, but it’s kind of boring in there.
  • I made my lunch drawer happen, even though it wasn’t on the Official List. Nick and I had a discussion about the plastic ware and where it needed to live (my answer: Goodwill. his answer: in the kitchen) : it’s gone into the top cupboards with the regular stuff. Some of the ¬†stuff was removed from several categories¬†and will be making its way to Goodwill this week: mugs we didn’t care about, bowls that didn’t fit our needs, lunch drink containers that ended up not being as leak-proof as advertised.
  • A tall bookcase arrived for David’s room, so he has room for the books that came out of my room (for his age and interests). We still need to get that moved in and the top of the old shelf arrangement mounted on the wall above his dresser for his Lego creations. The old shelf may go to its forever home in the garage.
  • I have plans for the garage. Oh yes. Plans that are not fully envisioned yet. But I did start work on making it tidier for the present. (For the future, I would like to take in half the garage and make a “project” room or -even bigger dream- the whole garage and move the master bedroom over there and let each kid have his own room. Nick would like to think on these further. Poor Nick.)
  • ¬†Last, but not least, I got my lovely, lovely, lovely electric teakettle for a feast gift from my sister-and-brother-in-law. Isn’t she gorgeous?

15 movies that have stayed with me…

When I first started this list (three or four days ago), I panicked and couldn’t think of any movies I’d seen, ever. Now I’m wishing I could do way more than 15! ¬†So, here are a few lists:

Childhood

  1. Watcher in the Woods – Bette Davis, spooky house & trees, child possession & kidnapping, aliens, what’s not to love?
  2. The Dark Crystal – Jim Henson + Brian Froud = LOVE
  3. Back to the Future – Time travel, great music, Christopher Lloyd as a mad scientist…whee!!!
  4. Labyrinth – see number 2
  5. Time Bandits – weird, dark, British
  6. ET – alien comes and befriends a child (I am seeing a theme here, are you?)
  7. Wuthering Heights (with Laurence Olivier) – I was seriously too young for this, but hey, a ghost, a forbidden & lost & returned love, a child saved off the streets, an undying romance…
  8. Star Wars – seriously, if you don’t know Star Wars, I can’t be your friend anymore.
  9. The Goonies – pirates, bad guys, kids saving the world, underground paths to hidden treasure
  10. 2001: A Space Odyssey – aliens, sentient computers, need I say more?
  11. Oliver – MUSICAL! I have the easy piano book and I played the songs over and over and over
  12. It’s a Wonderful Life – I love and hate this movie every year.
  13. Amadeus – Oh my goodness: fantastic geniuses are real people, too!
  14. Spaceballs – I love me a good parody and this one is GOOD
  15. Drop Dead Fred – silliness. lots and lots.
  16. Bedknobs & Broomsticks – magic, music, and mischief

High School

  1. Untamed Heart – who doesn’t love this movie? (teenaged boys, probably)
  2. The Piano Рa mail order bride who speaks only through her piano gets her piano taken away from her by her uncaring new spouse  runs off with the man who offers it back to her
  3. Monty Python and the Holy Grail – probably my most often quoted movie. I don’t even realize I’m doing it.
  4. Rocky Horror Picture Show – I first saw it when I was 14 and there’s no turning back after that.
  5. Benny & Joon – crazy girl falls in love with crazy boy? oh yes.
  6. Fried Green Tomatoes – crazy girl falls in love with other crazy girl and runs a cafe? ¬†I never could decide if I liked the book or the movie better. Both had scenes that the other one didn’t have that I ADORED.
  7. The City of Lost Children – French, weird, dark. Loved it!
  8. A League of Their Own – I have been known to watch this more than once back-to-back. I don’t even like sports, but I love this movie.
  9. Lady Jane – I love a movie that can make me interested in real, actual history. This one was beautiful.
  10. Total Recall – Once I found out that there were BOOKS and STORIES like this, I went on a three month Philip K. Dick reading binge. It was awesome! I can’t believe they’re remaking it.
  11. The Adventures of Baron Munchhausen – Weird, Dark, British. Check!
  12. Dead Poets Society РI remember that we could get Mrs. Sanders off topic for an entire day in school if we mentioned this movie. It was that awesome and controversial. I just loved the idea of young men running around spouting poetry. I wanted to find me some of those.  Where were they? (Hiding from me!)
  13. Pretty Woman – Ah, who can forget the story of the prostitute in love? I have no idea what our parents were thinking letting us watch this movie, but we loved it so much!
  14. Four Weddings and A Funeral – I still love this movie. I can’t help it. British, silly, love, yup!
  15. When Harry Met Sally – I love movies that feature finding each other over and over again throughout the years. I don’t know why. I just do. This is my favorite of this kind.

College/Post College

  1. Sliding Doors – Alternate futures played out back and forth across timelines, possibly my favorite movie of all time
  2. The English Patient – again with two timelines being told at the same time, undying romance, war that is mostly off-screen
  3. Clerks – this one just says “college” to me
  4. Rebecca – Nick brought this to my attention and I love, love, love the creepiness and story.
  5. Pride and Prejudice, the six hour version – Colin Firth. Enough said.
  6. Bladerunner – I saw this when I was a child and loved it, but we watched it and read it and talked about it enough in college that that’s where my brain puts it when I’m thinking of movies.
  7. The Nightmare Before Christmas – Was this college? Or high school? No idea. Just a favorite. I sing the songs in my head a lot.
  8. You’ve Got Mail – our first internet/love movie. Whee! Love everything about it.
  9. The Long Kiss Goodnight – Love how she transforms from this perfect vision of wife/mother to this scary ninja spy lady. Love Samuel L. Jackson, too. I will watch it any time it is on.
  10. Men in Black – He’s wearing Edgar like a suit!! Ok, so that was really gross, but the rest of the movie: silliness, aliens! EEE!
  11. Dark City – Dark & weird. Really weird and really dark. Sometimes I have nightmares. I won’t say I love it. I just can’t stop thinking about it.
  12. French Kiss – French. French. French.
  13. A Room With a View – I want to crawl inside this movie and live there.
  14. The Talented Mr. Ripley – Creepy…and awesome…and creepy…and I just think about it and shiver.
  15. High Fidelity – I don’t know why I love it, but I do. I am not even a big fan of the music.

Post-Children

  1. Chocolat – French…chocolate…nostalgia for the past…mmm
  2. A.I. – Robots, kids, the future, the sadness of it all.
  3. Amelie – French (for real!), weirdness of the happiest kind
  4. Gosford Park – British, nostalgia for the past when people who had people that did things so they didn’t have to?, manners
  5. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone – British, I cried when it started, I don’t know why I was so excited
  6. Love, Actually – British, lots of stories to follow, LOVE
  7. Possession – British, what-if storyline, two stories to follow
  8. Wall-E – future, robots, LOVE
  9. Kate and Leopold – time travel! LOVE…the whole thing….
  10. The Lake House – time travel! LOVE…the house, the quietness, the waiting….it was just exquisite
  11. I, Robot – Robots, humans, what’s the difference?
  12. Sense and Sensibility – British, LOVE, manners, and Alan Rickman. Lots of Alan Rickman.
  13. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind – weirdness, lots and lots of weirdness
  14. Til There Was You – LOVE, what-if storyline, awkward, awkward love stories
  15. My Best Friends Wedding – LOVE, silliness, lots of silliness.

After I got started, I couldn’t stop, obviously. I’m still thinking of movies that ought to be on each of those lists. Hmm…Netflix is calling my name….

What I’m doing this year

People are asking, so here we go:

  1. I didn’t “quit” the PTA, despite how gleeful I might be about stepping down from President-status. I’m still going to Student Health Advisory Committee meetings and am acting as a Council Delegate for at least the middle school PTA (and I’ve offered to do the same for the elementary school, since I’m already going to be there and be writing up reports, may as well kill two birds with one stone, right?). I’m still on the Staff/Teacher Appreciation committees and bringing food up for those days and also doing the Flex Day and 93 and Up Party at the middle school, and heck, I’ll probably even chaperon some field trips and dances while I’m at it. But I’m not on any Executive Board this year and really, that is a lot of work/time/mental stress I’m “skipping out” on.
  2. What am I doing? To sum it up quickly: writing and exercising and organizing.
  3. Oh, you want details? Okay, here goes:
    1. Writing: I have a few novels that are nearing the end of Draft One that I’d like to see actually finish Draft One and move on into Draft Two and Ready for Human Consumption/Editing sometime this year. Also a dozen or so poems that are probably finished, but need Eyes and Sending Off.
    2. Exercising: I’m trying to lose about 90 pounds (a number which I find horrifying). I’m a stress eater/drinker. Boy, have the last few years been full of stress. (Joy, too, but still a lot of stress.) Plus I have been taking multiple medicines that have been shown to cause weight gain as a side effect. ¬†So I’m starting with restorative yoga one day a week, strength training a couple days, aerobics a couple days, and a couple days off because I can’t keep it up if I don’t take time off for rest.
    3. Organizing: I’m a pseudo-hoarder. I occasionally watch those shows on TV and think “Oh, thank God I’m not THAT bad!” while I have boxes and boxes of things carefully labelled and awaiting sorting/filing/recycling. I love labeling things, but throwing things out or recycling them? AIE. I’d rather die. What if I need something out of that pile?!?!? No, really, I’d rather scrapbook them and move on, but barring time and energy to complete those tasks, I’ve labelled and boxed things up and now my house is impressively full. So my plan is to start going through the boxes and start tossing/recycling things that no longer have meaning to my family. Once that part is done, I’d like to get back into scrapbooking things again. I like scrapbooking; it’s just time consuming and I have been far too busy with working for money and working for the good of our schools and our church to get that kind of thing done. So part of my time this year will be catching up on that.
    4. Extras: singing in the church choir & ladies ensemble, helping out on the kitchen crew one weekend a month, playing with the church ensemble and playing piano/clarinet solos/duets for Special Music or Offertory, helping out with kids crafts/social time at church, maybe starting up a book club again, helping out with Cub scouts and Boy scouts, helping people figure out their computers and smart phones, writing blog posts, and¬†updating Facebook. You know, the usual. ūüôā

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. ūüôā

 

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. ūüôā ¬†Enjoy!

scheduleimage

 

 

NAPOMO # whatever

I’m not even bothering to catch up. ūüôā I am having an unanticipated quiet day at home, due to lost keys. I’m listening to the DVD of yesterdays musical adventures and cleaning up from all the fancy dinners.

Here’s an untitled poem from another quiet day this year:

I can hear:

tick   tick   tick

chime     chime   

HUMMMMM

No cymbals,

No shouts,

No tinny music

Just this:

tick   tick   tick

chime     chime   

HUMMMMM

No machines, 

No requests,

No frantic running.

Only quiet sounds:

tick   tick   tick

chime     chime   

HUMMMMM

Lisa Holcomb 2014

NAPOMO #7

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

NAPOMO #6

he can reach

the top of the table

under the crib

behind the piano

with ease

 

he grabs

a toolkit

a nail clipper

some cheerios

with tiny fingers

 

he finds

beads

rhinestones

plastic clips

in the shallow carpet

 

he’s just tall enough to choke.

 

 

Lisa Holcomb 10/27/04

NAPOMO #5

WHEN I AM AN OLD WOMAN I SHALL WEAR PURPLE
With a red hat which doesn’t go, and doesn’t suit me.
And I shall spend my pension on brandy and summer gloves
And satin sandals, and say we’ve no money for butter.
I shall sit down on the pavement when I’m tired
And gobble up samples in shops and press alarm bells
And run my stick along the public railings
And make up for the sobriety of my youth.
I shall go out in my slippers in the rain
And pick the flowers in other people’s gardens
And learn to spit

You can wear terrible shirts and grow more fat
And eat three pounds of sausages at a go
Or only bread and pickle for a week
And hoard pens and pencils and beermats and things in boxes

But now we must have clothes that keep us dry
And pay our rent and not swear in the street
And set a good example for the children.
We must have friends to dinner and read the papers.

But maybe I ought to practice a little now?
So people who know me are not too shocked and surprised
When suddenly I am old, and start to wear purple.

Jenny Joseph


 

Who doesn’t love this poem? But honestly, I started the “weird” life early on. Why wait til I’m old?

ūüôā

Image

NAPOMO #4

NANOPOMO #4

Image Poem entitled “Jelena”
Lisa Holcomb 2013

 


My eldest son was doing a poetry project for school, so I did it alongside him. One of the prompts was to write a poem inside a picture of how the poem made you feel.  It was interesting to do. Mine was depressing.