Sunday, January 28, 2007

A gluey situation

I love to scrapbook. Most of the time. Other times, I'd rather toss everything on a huge bonfire and forget the urge. Usually my frustration with scrapbooking happens when my supplies don't work as well as they should. Or maybe it's my total clumsiness with those supplies. Give me a glue stick and I'm a whiz----once the technology gets to a higher level, I need an instruction manual.

Yesterday I made a trip to Wallyworld to buy some glue runners. This was in anticipation of having time to PLAY today. My past history with glue runners hasn't been too great, but I figured if I took my time and tried real hard, it might work. It didn't. Or should I say they didn't.

Figured I had about an hour to scrapbook in my walk in closet. The weather has turned brutally cold and the closet has a slanting roof that's not insulated. Decided I could stand it for about an hour. My first step was to open the new glue runners. Did that okay, took it carefully out of the package and dropped it into the handy holder. It actually snapped shut and looked on the verge of working. I should have known better.

You'd think that if you dropped something straight from the package into the holder it would work. I did. I was wrong. Sloooooooooooooooowwwwwwwwwllyyyyyyy, I ran the wheel along the page to be glued. Got a few strands of glue and half a page of my scrapbook ran up into the glue and clogged the back wheel. Okay, a minor setback. . . .

Half an hour of minor setbacks later, I had glue on my fingers, in my hair, a long strand of the white paper the glue is glued on before it comes off where you glue cascading over my table and a LOT of frustration. Figuring I'd given that glue runner a proper chance, I decided to take the second one out of the package and begin again. Maybe I got a faulty one the first time.

Would you believe two faulty glue runners in a package? Neither would I. It kind of tips the laws of probability or something, huh? Which leaves me to only one conclusion---I better go back to glue sticks. It's just those little glue runners look so convenient, so easy. And since these are only the sixth and seventh I've ruined, I just might try again tomorrow.

I ended up gluing one sticker on a page (peel and stick) and a date (prestickied numbers.) The rest of the glue is all over my table, the floor, the wall, my dress, my house shoes, the space heater, Mary, the cat, who jumped up to try to help, and I'm sure I'll discover a bunch of other places I never expected. The package promised me 175 feet of glue. Boy howdy, they sure were right! Too bad they didn't tell me that wouldn't be on my scrapbook pages. . . .

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Snow Days. . . .

My friend, Cj, laughed the other day when I told her we were having a 'snow day' from school. I guess the idea of homeschoolers having a snow day is pretty funny. It's not like we have to shovel the driveway--circular and very long--to get out to school. Most days. On Leaves of Learning days, it's another story. We're as normal as anyone else who has to warm the car, get the car moving and get to school on time.

Wednesday, we got a frigid blast of air and snow flurries. No way did I want to be an hour from home. So, we had a snow day in that we didn't go to the school building. To the boy's dismay, I used it to get caught up with work we'd had to let slide Monday and Tuesday.

Miah commemorated the day by drafting a short story on the computer.


Too day we are going to play in the snow and throw snowballs because we did not go to school but we are going to do snowballs after schoolwork then we will kill with snowballs.

Clearly the days instruction included a review of punctuation. We raced through the work (three days worth! Hey, I had a fresh snowfall working on my behalf. I took as much advantage of it as I could.) The boys went out and tried snowboarding on their sleds. As far as I know nothing got harmed by their snowballs. Miah made a gigantic snowball and wanted to keep it. Since it was bigger than my entire freezer---the snowball is sitting in the yard. I can imagine spring coming and it slowly mellllllllllllllltttttttttttttiiiiiiiiiiiiinnnnnnnnng among the Easter egg hunt.

The snow and the cold have lasted until today. Yesterday, Jenny and the boys got out the sleds and had a great time. Grandpa went out and hooked all the sleds to the back of his tractor. He gave them a fun ride through the back fields. They tried standing up, skiing, and when they fell they tumbled like puppies in the snow. Miah had a harder time staying balanced than Jenny or Jarrod, but I did catch a few pictures of them all three upright.

While I don't particularly care for snow, snow days are nice. Last Sunday we got so much I didn't go out of the house all day. The kids and I got out all the snowman mugs and had some hot mocha mix, (thanks CJ!) We played a game of Monopoly Here and Now, (much better than the original game. By the time we quit, I owned the Mall of America, the Golden Gate Bridge and the French Quarter. It doesn't get any better than that. Although Jarrod did have a hotel on Time's Square and we were all headed toward it.) I read three books--okay, two of them were middle grade, and cleaned out my scrapbook bin.

It's fun to go into my scrapbook corner and have stickers in one box, tags or brads in another. Somehow I feel more inspired when I don't have to search for everything I want to use. Spent one of my snow days finishing up some small scrapbook projects. Yesterday I actually FOUND my cousin's wedding announcement from December. Time to make a scrapbook momento of the day. . . .
The weathermen are predicting more snow this weekend. Could I use another snow day or two or three? YES!

Friday, January 19, 2007


It had to happen one day. I've been accused of------------hanger theft!

Today was another Leaves of Learning day. Decided to take all my blankets and wash them while the boys were in school. It's a frigid cold day. We even saw some snow flurries this morning. I figured that a laundromat, with all the steam from the washers and dryers, would be the warmest place to wait until dismissal.

Guess half the city had the same idea as it was packed. I managed to find one jumbo washer for the blankets and another small washer. Carried everything in, got the washers going and then made a pit stop to the black laquered ladies room. As I came out, an older lady said something to me in a language I knew not. I was almost sure it was English, but with the crazed washer doing it's dance (not with MY clothes this time), I couldn't hear.

My standard reply in times such as these that require a polite answer are to smile BIG, nod and give a generic response such as, "I know, ha, ha, ha." She gave me an evil glare. My mind went over possible topics of laundromat coversation. Had I violated a remark about the weather? Insulted her children? Not agreed on a pet peeve such as what happens when one must drag the laundry out to the laundromat while a no good husband stayed home?

Hoping she would quit staring at me, I went to sit down. Big mistake. A few minutes later, she stalked over and said, "So, you saw who did it?"
My first reaction was, HUH?
Thankfully, she cleared up the confusion. "You saw who stole my hangers?"
"Your hangers, um, no. Were they taken?" Stupid question considering I'd laughed and told her I knew when she asked me the first time. "I must have misunderstood you." Clever comeback, I thought. "I thought you were talking about the lack of s0ap in the restroom. There is never any soap in there, did you notice?"
She looked at me as if I was clearly as deranged as she'd first thought and entirely capable of hanger theft. "Soap?"
"Yes, there is never any soap in the restroom. I thought that's what you were talking about. You say someone stole your hangers?"
"I had four hangers right here. Took a break with my sons and somebody made off with them."
She kept glaring as I went into details about how I'd JUST THEN ARRIVED and MINDED MY OWN BUSINESS, STARTING MY WASHERS. I lamented her loss. Sympathized that four hangers weren't safe anywhere these days. Still she kept her eye on me as if I planned to snatch her clothes from the dryer.
My only redemption came from the fact that I'm so totally disorganized, I never REMEMBER to bring hangers to the laundromat! Final proof that organization is highly overrated. My lack thereof probably saved me from a criminal record today.
The picture on top is what I want to see out my bedroom window. The top of my forsythia (or as my niece, Cindy, use to call it, 'the for Cynthia bush.') I want SPRING.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

On writing, organizing and other things I'd rather not think about - - - -

Today was an odd combination of why I love/hate writing. Early this morning, I went next door to my sister's when she went to work. A couple of days a week, I go, wake up the boys and we get started on our various days. Today I found myself with an unexpected bonus of an hour of free time before anyone had to do anything. Since I came prepared with a notebook, I spent a productive time writing out part of a story in long hand.

In my trusty notebook, I also made a list. I love making lists! One item on the list was to start a first draft for an article that's been swirling in my mind for about a year. Got a good start on an outline AND think it might all be starting to gel.

Later, while still having happy writing thoughts, I decided to send off an article while I was out running errands. WHAMMY! A brown envelope in the post office box. As my friend, Erica, says, a brown envelope is NOT good news for a writer. Mine wasn't. It was no surprise really---considering my success with finding an agent---to have still another send back my proposal with a form letter. It wasn't devestating or enough to send me running somewhere for a good cry. (Been there, done that, too often!) It did give me a day of introspective thought.

What is wrong with my book? Doubt rears it's ugly, warty, bug-eyed head when any kind of rejection comes. I find myself going over and over all the platitudes---someone else will want it, it wasn't meant to go to HER or HIM or THEM, God has a better plan. Somehow, none of those thoughts make me feel a morsel better. I feel---well, dirty darn--rejected!

As I drove home, I went over and over the reasons this particular agent might not have wanted the book. More doubts. Was this the RIGHT book to be writing? How sure was I that this the book I was meant to write and hope to sell at this particular time? It's easy enough to believe God inspires an idea, to write and rewrite and sweat over the manuscript, and be so sure you are on the right path. Then something causes me to stumble and all those doubts and fears
come back to haunt me. Should I keep trying to sell this book? If not, what was the purpose in writing it?

Did I come to any conclusions? Nope. Tonight, I'm still as unsure about the manuscript as I was before. I did ask God to confirm my committment to this particular project. I think I can wait in trust to see what happens.

On the plus side of the rejection, I can honestly say that it didn't stop me. This evening, I wrote over 2000 words on one WIP. The characters are leading me places I never expected and I'm having fun seeing where it will go.

Even better, two of my queries for non-fiction articles got accepted tonight. I just have to spend tomorrow rewriting the articles and email them in. So, love/hate. Joy/disappointment.
Writing is a weird occupation and writers are----well---most of us are a few dips short of an inkwell or we wouldn't put ourselves through this.

On to a better topic---my organization is coming along well. I can walk in BOTH closets, my files are LABELED, my drawers are CLEAN. It doesn't even look like the same bedroom. Now, if I can just get my pictures uncluttered. That will be the real challenge.

On another happy note, I found lots of cool stuff in the 'black hole of calcutta' (my closet.) Found a newspaper on one of the Apollo missions, several books I needed, the manual for my sewing machine and lots of stuff to pitch---moving right along!

Thursday, January 11, 2007

No Snow---

Since it's January, I decided we needed a snow picture. This happens to be from last year. Jarrod and Miah hooked their sleds to Grandpa's tractor. Having no hills to sled down, necessity is the mother of invention. It was all the more thrilling when the rope broke and the sled went sailing off on it's own.

I'd actually like snow. . . . if it wasn't so cold.

Had to do a short blog on my "Interesting Morning." It happened yesterday so I can be objective about it now. Even laughed about it last night. I was NOT laughing at 6 a.m. yesterday.

Around then I began to hear the piano play. Knowing our house is NOT haunted, I went to investigate and caught Smokey, tripping the light fantastic across the keys. I shooed him off, decided to lie down on the sofa and catch a bit more sleep before we left for school.

DA DA DA DUM. Tink, tink, tink, tink.

Smokey again. He didn't want to PLAY the piano, nor did he enjoy the sound. He wanted to sleep on the piano keys. Sent him to the floor again. Laid down. Another tune. This time he jumped down before I got into the room with the piano. Laid back down. This went on and on and on until time to get up. THEN, he settled down--right across the piano keys, and went to sleep.

I was out--racing to beat the get to school clock. Went outside to warm up the car. Back inside where I thought I could sit and have a short cup of tea. When I went back out, the car had died and wouldn't restart. Dad happened to notice the problem and came out to give me a jump start. Thankfully, the car started and the boys and I made it to Leaves with ten minutes to spare. Although some days, you wonder why you get out of bed!

Happy Birthday, Jenny!

Yesterday marked Jenny's 14th birthday. This is the real Jenny, my niece, not to be confused with the fictional version. A lot of people ask me if there really IS a Jenny, meaning, of course, the figment of my imagination. Yes and no. She "exists" as the child I wanted to be long ago, but not as a real person. My niece doesn't resemble her in anything but the name.

Not long ago, I let the real Jenny "meet" the fictional Jenny for the first time. Anxious to know what she thought, I asked if she liked it. "I liked seeing my name," she said. When I pressed further, she admitted she liked the names of the ponies in the story.
On a happier note---it is now 11 days into the month and I am making progress on my organization! There is an actual path through my bedroom floor among the boxes, piles of stuff to store, and bags to go out for the Goodwill. My files HAVE LABELS! My Christmas bins have LABELS! The ornaments are organized in BOXES with LABELS! I know where things ARE and can actually put my hands on them without an all out search and rescue mission.
I even--JUMPING FOR JOY---have an address book and it's FILLED in! Only someone who knows my habit of scribbling phone numbers or addresses on any handy scrap of paper and "filing" it in a pile in my drawer, can appreciate this fact. (To be perfectly honest, it's not a real address book. It's a mini-journal--but it has lines, I had a pen and it works!) Although, come to think about it---where did I put that??
My organization also spread over to my writing. I had a rare day off Tuesday. Sister #2 came home sick from work so the boys stayed home. Although I could have written all day, I decided I'd better start cleaning first. Timed myself and every few hours I took a writing break. I managed to do edits to 3 chapters in my mid-grade, make a list of queries I wanted to send out, looked up some magazine info online, AND (drum roll, please), I committed to starting a first draft of "Lost." Managed to get down 2,000 words. Yesterday, I sat at the library and forced myself to plot out the whole thing on 3 x 5 cards. Also made a master list of things I need to research to finish the book. Somehow, it looks a lot less intimidating than it once did. Thanks, Erica!

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Happy New Year!

I'm getting a late start in keeping up this blog. Although I made a list of resolutions in my mind, I haven't put them in writing yet. Somehow, if you put them in print it's like they are written in a Sharpie. No erasing!

The two sweet faces in the photo are Mary, my Christmas kitten, and Mama, the orange stray who wandered up to the door too many years ago to count. Mary is about five years old now. I suppose as a good "cat mama", I should have written down the exact date of her birthday. I know it's near Christmas--sometime.

Not knowing Mary's actual birthdate reminds me of a lifelong battle against organization--or in my case, the lack thereof. Oh, I try to organize. I buy all those plastic tubbie things, all the little plastic boxes with slots and handles and spaces to organize. But somehow, my things never seem to fit the slots or spaces.

I watch all those home improvement shows when I can find the time. I've seen how they declutter and reorganize. "Put like objects in ONE bin." (This, of course, can backfire. A case in point are the Christmas lights----still missing, I might add. All except for one mislabeled bin. If the lights had been stored in their usual hodgepodge fashion, I'm sure we'd have found some strands by now.)
"Have a place for everything and let your files make sense." It's good advice in theory. In practice, it somehow never works for me. I can just imagine the utter chaos one of those home improvement gurus would find if they tried to organize my notebooks. Each year I begin with the a firm talk to myself. I WILL NOT use a notebook for more than ONE thing. If a notebook is for non-fiction article ideas---not a scrap of fiction or letters with enter it's blank pages. I WILL NOT use a notebook for everything that pops into my head, sticking post it notes on the pages to remind me where certain articles or stories begin.
Each year, I manage to keep that rule for about a week. Then I get caught out somewhere with the Work in Progress notebook and I'm suddenly overcome with a firm distaste for the WIP. I want to jot down some article ideas instead. Or begin a letter to my friend, Kitty. Or make a list to clean out my closet. Eventually, all my notebooks become like my life--layered with a little bit of everything. Guess as long as I don't run out of post it notes, everything will go along okay.
As January 1st rolled around, I made a firm vow to "Get Organized." I actually began the day with some closet decluttering. Four days later, I FOUND my missing Christmas tree skirt. Since the tree is still up, I'll get a picture to post here soon.
Being able to walk in that closet again gave me a terrific boost on the new year. I figured I was off to a great start! Of course, I later realized that I'd been washing my hair with body wash for the last few days. And, that the lovely blue spitz bottle I thought was window cleaner turned out to be laundry stain cleaner instead. Hey, what can I say---it cleaned picture frames equally well. After this, it all has to be smooth sailing, right?
This new year finds "Cookies and Milk" with our fourth page in print. Maribeth (one of my co-editors) and I both have non-fiction articles in this month's issue of Fandangle online magazine for kids. Check out the page at Click on this month's issue.
Okay, back to the organization--I'm sure if I work hard today I can actually find my bed tonight.