Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Incentive Power

It's amazing what kids can accomplish when they have the incentive to work hard.  Our 3 kids had their hearts set on going to the movies this weekend.  We told them that before we could play, we had to clean the garage and finish spreading the mulch.  If they helped us get these two tasks completed, we could see whatever movie they wanted.  The mulch was the biggest task.  Even though I had been working on it for a couple of weeks, we still had a huge pile.  I wasn't sure we would be able to finish it.

We got right to work.  Ryan stood on top of the pile and loosened it, the girls shoveled it into the wheelbarrow and I dumped it and raked it into place. At one point they found a giant spider in the rich mulch which of course freaked them out.  They didn't want to get near the pile.  They called me over.  Normally when they find a "huge" spider it's no bigger than an eraser at the end of a pencil.  But this spider was truly, horrendously large.... like the size of a credit card. They didn't want to kill it, but they didn't want to get close enough to move it either. I'm sort of an arachnophobe myself so I told them to just work on the other side, but they didn't think that was a safe distance.  I watched as my teenage daughters started yelling at the creature.  "Spiders don't have ears." I said laughing at the crazy spectacle unfolding.  I couldn't believe they were trying to intimidate a spider with trash-talking. Surprisingly it scurried off into the grass, the poor thing must have been disgusted by its rude treatment.  The girls cheered their success and then went back to work.  

With occasional breaks for water, sometimes for drinking and sometimes for getting each other wet, we managed to get it all done in 4 hours.  They wanted to dig right in on the garage next.  I told them we needed a break.
The next day they awoke with achy muscles but they were ready to tackle the next project. I didn't feel like working but their persistence rubbed off on me.  I wanted to make sure they got their reward after all their effort. Luckily for all of us, the garage took about half the time.
When we were done, we were exhasuted. I couldn't believe what we had accomplished!  It wouldn't have happened without all their hard work.

Later we all enjoyed every minute of sitting in the cool movie theater together.  We were happy to reward them and they were happy to have earned it.


Friday, May 27, 2011


I took an "unconnected day" yesterday because I was busy running errands, revising my latest WIP and taking the kids to piano lessons.  This morning I was swamped with 150 emails!  At least three quarters of them were junk.  As part of my "decluttering life" intiative, I finally decided to unsubscribe to most of them. It took only about 15 minutes.  I don't know why it took me so long to do this.  I never read them anyway.  I guess I thought I was too busy to bother with it. So instead I wasted a couple hours a week deleting messages.  I guess procrastinating never saves time!

We have a long weekend over here because of the Memorial Day holiday!  Yeah.  Everyone have a great weekend!


Wednesday, May 25, 2011

The Claw

The room was quiet.  The still night air carried none of it's usual sounds.  No crickets. No animals scurrying in the forest outside.  It was too quiet.  I was too exhausted to notice and I collapsed into bed.  My husband was already drifting into the world of dreams before me.  I reached over to turn off the light. Then I saw it.  It came out of no where.  My heart quickened.  It was right above me.  I could only see it's shadow.  But its two fingers ominously reached toward us.
"What is it? Where is it coming from?"  I screamed.
My husband woke with a start.  "It's THE CLAW and it's moving closer!"
"What do we do?"  We huddled tight.  I had an idea. What if it didn't work?  We had nothing to lose........

Ok this isn't my latest WIP, it really happened last night.  Well maybe not with the screaming, but there was this ghoulish shadow on my ceiling that looked like a clawed hand reaching for us. It creeped me out. Even though I knew it was nothing, I scanned the room. Where was it coming from?  When my husband playfully said, "It's moving!",  I huddled next to him and then jumped up and turned the light on.   There it was.  The  handle of the vacuum cleaner was casting the long hand-like shadow.  I couldn't sleep with it looming above me. I had to move it into the hallway.  Then my husband said, "What if we wake up and it's back in our room?!"


Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Nothin Like A Sister

Sisters watching a sunset

I always wanted a sister.  I ended up with two brothers.  They are wonderful brothers, I couldn't have better.  In fact, in addition to calling our Mom for Mother's Day, one of them calls me too. But as a teenager I craved the closeness of a sister.  There are certain things you just can't talk about with a brother.  I managed to survive high school and dating with a couple close best friends but I had a feeling it wasn't quite the same.

Then I had daughters two years apart.  Almost from the time my second daughter was born they were best friends. They did everything together.  Jessica took care of Alyssa and Alyssa looked up to her older sis.  Now as teens they seem to have grown even closer.  Of course they don't "play" like they used to and some days emotions are high and clashes occur, but at the end of the day they always have each other to share their silly inside jokes.  They are still inseparable.  They play music together, skate together, laugh together, and by their own choice still share a room.  When one is gone the other is not the same.
Hugs for a new sis

I love that I'm a part of their special relationship.  I still don't have sisters but somehow their sisterly bond is enough and I realize that what my brothers and I had was just as special.  A part of me is missing when they are not around.

"My sister will always be my best friend!"  by Alyssa

"A sister is someone who you can count on to keep your countless secrets... most of the time." by Jessica

Sisters in the snow


I also want to thank Ali for mentioning me in her post "the bitter and the sweet".  Check out her little writing ninjas they are great!

Thanks Ali you're awesome!:)


Monday, May 23, 2011

A New Home for Our Books

Books Needing a New Home
We love books.  We love books so much that we ran out of bookshelves to put them in.  We have double rows on some shelves.  We even have a small stack or two on the floor.  Finally, both my husband and I got fed up with the clutter.  He suggested we go through all our books and donate anything we didn't want to read a second time.
We got right to work.  I couldn't believe how many old out, of date books we had that weren't relevant anymore, like a Writer's Market from 1999!  It was kind of fun to search through all the old titles I had read.  There were textbooks from college, baby books, travel books, writing books, skating books, novels and histories.  It was like traveling back in time to the person I was when I read them.   I also found a few treasures that I forgot I had and have never read.  All in all we collected about 100 books that we don't need.  Our local library happily accepts books in good condition so we handed them off to a new owner who will give them more attention than we did.

It feels surprisingly good to get them off our shelves and out of our house.  It's liberating to have less in our house.  This week we are going through all our old magazines which I have stashed in a cupboard. I can't wait to see what I find in there!


Friday, May 20, 2011

Hurray Hurray

Hurray Hurray
It's a beautiful sunny day!

Instead of working inside
I'm going out to play!

The rain is gone
The gloom is done

Hope you too can enjoy the sun!


Thursday, May 19, 2011

Online Images

I like pictures.  I think they can really spice up a blog, but as I've been reading about blogging and writing in general I've come across a number of different sources that warn against using other people's pictures.  Originally, I assumed that if pictures are on the web anyone could use them but that is not the case.  Just like in traditional publishing, you must get permission to use the images.  Often it takes a simple email asking for permission and a link to the person's website. Luckily there are lots of free pictures which can be found by searching for "public domain images".   My solution:  I keep my camera handy and snap a quick picture of anything I think is  bloggable.  I'm not a photographer so my pics aren't always the best, but at least I know I'm safe.  Check out the article by Brian Klems on  Writer'sDigest.com to read more about using pictures from the web.

Happy Blogging!


Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Chocolate Isn't Always Good

The kids and I were craving something special tonight so we decided to make cookies.  My son wanted double chocolate chunk cookies.  I found a yummy looking recipe on FoodNetwork from Ina Garten.  We only changed her white chocolate chunks into dark chocolate chips (I don't consider white chocolate to be real chocolate!)  As usual the kids sampled a few clumps of brown sugar.  I handed Ryan the measuring cup full of cocoa powder.  I turned away to get another ingredient prepared.  He must have stared wide eyed at the rich chocolate in front of him and been tempted beyond control.  The next moment he was sputtering and trying to spit something out.  A faint line of powdered chocolate rimmed his lips.  He tried a whole spoonful.   I guess he didn't believe me when I told him it was bitter.  He had to try it for himself.   
We finished mixing the batter and Ryan dropped large spoonfuls onto the pan. He watched them transform from a misshapen glob into beautiful deep brown chewy cookie.  As soon as they were cooled he couldn't eat them fast enough.  Sometimes bitter makes the cookies even sweeter.


3 Munchkins crunching cookies
Ryan focused on the batter
Focused on eating!

I also want to say a big Thank You to Elizabeth Mueller for the great A-Z Challenge award! Head on over and check out her blog too!

Monday, May 16, 2011

Ice Cream for Two

We had a great time on our little vacation!  We spent lots of time at the pool with the kids.  I even went on some of the water slides with them!  We also had some wonderful meals.  My favorite was from a little Ethiopian restaurant in Madison, Wisconsin called Buraka.  We ate family style with all our entrees coming on one large platter.  There were meat curries, lentils and vegetables atop a bed of Injera.  Made from teff flour, an Ethiopian grain, Injera is a flat spongy bread which is torn and used to scoop the savory dishes to your eagerly awaiting taste buds.  Like a pack of hungry hyenas, we quickly devoured everything.  Even Ryan, our pickiest eater, found enough to fill his belly.  We skipped dessert at the restaurant, only to find ourselves walking past an ice cream parlor on the way back to the hotel.  The kids each got their own, but my husband and I decided to be good and split one.  The only problem was he couldn't decide between 2 flavors...  he got both.  So we split 2 scoops instead of each getting our own.  For some reason we still felt healthier knowing we were "splitting".  Then because the kids were stuffed from dinner, we got stuck finishing theirs as well.  So instead of eating half an ice cream we both ended up eating 1 1/2.  Somehow that wasn't the outcome I had expected!  But it sure was yummy!


By the way it is good to be back to the blogosphere again!   :)         

Monday, May 9, 2011

Road Trip!

The kids couldn't wait to pile into the minvan yesterday.  They packed all their stuff into their suitcases.  Even my 6 year old packed his own clothes.  (I hope he remembered underwear!)  By 10:30 am. we were finally ready to go.  Unknown to me, my husband had had the kids answer a list of questions for Mother's Day.  In the van he handed me my own set of questions.  I was supposed to answer them out loud and then hear what the kids had said about me.  It was great to hear all the funny  and wonderful things my kids said about me.  My 6 yr old son, ever the joker, answered the question "How are you like your mom?", with "We both have ears."  My daughters were far more detailed.  My favorite were their answers to "What makes you proud of your mom?"  They put things like, "she is honest, she doesn't give up, she likes to learn new things".  I think I teared up.  It was the best present I could have gotten. It doesn't always feel like it, but I guess my kids really do understand me. 
45 minutes later my son asked, "How many more hours til we get there?"
Only 7 more hours to go!

I hope all of you moms had a great Mother's Day yesterday! 

I will try to continue posting off and on this week but we have spotty internet here.  Next week I will get back to my regular posts.  Have a great week!      


Friday, May 6, 2011

Close to Home

Backyard Beauty

There are times when I want to drop everything and escape to some far off tropical paradise surrounded by lush landscapes.  Unfortunately this isn't always a feasible option.  But some days I am lucky.  Some days I can step right outside my door and let my eyes feast on the beauty closer to home.  If I look hard enough I can always find it.  It's been there the all along, I just never took the time to appreciate it.  I wonder, if I lived in paradise would I miss out on that too?

Simply Green

Fabulous Fungi

Thursday, May 5, 2011

A Mountain to Move

Mountain of Mulch
In the spring I am always anxious to get out and work in my garden.   So I was excited last week to have our mulch delivered.  But thirteen yards of  mulch looks like a mountain in your driveway.  Then it dawned on me that because my husband is still recovering from knee surgery, I have to move the mountain on my own. But the other day my son wanted to help.  He got out his little snow shovel, his rake and his wheelbarrow.  He tried to get big scoops but because of all the recent rain it was quite heavy.  He wanted to give up and stomp back inside.  Then he had an idea.  He decided to climb on top of the pile and rake the mulch into the shovel.  He proudly showed me how it worked.  He jumped down and began to lift his load.  It took all his strength to lift the load to the rim of the wheelbarrow.  He carefully dumped it in.  The beads of perspiration were just beginning to form on his brow as he glanced back at the mountain and asked me, "Mom do we have to move all this?"  
"Yes. But not tonight."  A look of relief briefly passed over his face, and he went back to work.  

About an hour passed and the sky began to darken and he decided we had done enough for the night.  He went in, took off his coat and shoes and said to my husband, "That was a fantastic day in the garden, I can't wait to do it again!"

It's funny how the mountain didn't seem daunting when he found out we could move it in pieces.


Good luck moving your mountains this week!


Monday, May 2, 2011

A-Z Challenge Reflections

Wow! I can't believe I made it through my first ever blog challenge!  On a whim I signed up for the Challenge thinking "hmmm that might be fun and maybe I will find some cool new blogs and even get a couple new followers".  I am still amazed at what I have gained from this experience!  Not only did I find incredibly talented bloggers who sometimes made me laugh and sometimes made me cry, but I also learned about writing, science, travel and life.  One of the best things I learned is that I can write everyday if only I carve out the time for it.  I learned to make it a priority. In the process I made lots of great new friends.

I want to thank all my new followers.  If I haven't made it to your blogs yet, I will soon. I'm even keeping my buttons so I can continue making the rounds on all the blogs I haven't visited.   I can't thank the organizers of the Challenge enough for setting this up and I am already excited for next year.  This has been a great way to be more connected with the writing community! I can't believe that I spent a whole night wondering whether I should sign up!  

Thanks Again

And thanks to Pk Hrezo for my cool new Blogger Buddy award!  PK you're awesome!