Sunday, July 20, 2014

baby talk

I thought I'd already posted this, but here sits in my drafts folder. Oops. Posting now!

We love our baby-sitting charge, Baby E (although it isn't going to be long before I need a different online nickname for the little guy--he's not really a baby anymore). He adds a great deal of fun, laughter, and delight to our days.

Some amusing highlights from this week:

It's Fun Fest, one of the girls' favorite weeks of the year. On Monday, we headed to the Kids Central activities. We met up with a friend. While Natalie and Baby E were playing in a tent filled with toys, Sarah was trying to master the monkey bars on the playground next to us.
When it was time to go, I called out, "Sarah!"

Baby E spent the rest of the time bellowing, "Eh-wa!" every time he thought she got too far away. Even here at home now, he'll call, "Eh-wa!" in that same sing-song voice to summon her.

He's learning to say a few other words, and Sarah is quite determined that he will learn to say "Da-da."

He thwarts her at every turn. She says over and over: "Say Da-da! Say Da-da!" And every single time he responds with, "Ma-ma! Ma-ma!"

You can't tell me he doesn't know exactly what he's doing. Cheeky kid. :)

Wednesday found us back at Kids Central. It was the day of the Splash Dance. They close off street and bring in a fire truck and spray the hoses. Sarah loved it. Natalie...not so much. Baby E...not even remotely.

I didn't go out into the street with him. I knew fire hoses would be way too intense for our little man. But even off to the side on the grass, we got misted. And being misted was enough to make poor Baby E one miserable little dude. He burrowed into my chest, wailing. (He doesn't like the local splash pad either. Apparently he loved the ocean when on vacation, but sprinklers and hoses don't do it for him. At all.) 

Maybe next year he'll have a better time. And maybe by then, he'll be saying "Da-da" for Sarah. ;)

Thursday, July 10, 2014

so many books, so little time

I love books. My favorite genre is mystery (sometimes with a little romance thrown in). I don't like graphic violence or hard-core gore; I prefer just the old-fashioned "whodunnit" type of detective story. I like trying to put together all the clues.

But I also read other things--fiction and nonfiction. I got to thinking about my reading habits today as I was organing books on the Kindle. 

I love my Kindle. I love being able to carry around hundreds of books at a time in one lightweight little device. I love the daily freebies. (Nelson would love not having to buy yet another bookshelf, but that hasn't actually born out in reality--I still love real books too. And some things I strongly prefer in the "real book" format. So, yeah--sorry, dear!) 

So here is a breakdown of what it currently on my Kindle, so that you can all psychoanalyze my reading habits. ;)

Fiction: 533 books
Christian: 252 books 
Health, beauty, and fitness: 202 books 
Food and recipes: 180 books 
Business, money, and finance: 151 books
Home and family: 141 books 
Writing and blogging: 128 books 
Time management and organization: 107 books 
Books for Sarah and Natalie: 91 (I have more on the iPad; some children's books won't work on the actual Kindle because of the graphics and whatnot)
Homeschooling and other education: 74 books 

Whew! I'm glad I don't have to store or tote around all those!

Now, some books may show up in more than one category. Some fiction books are also Christian. Some businnes books also cover time management. And so on.

I try to switch it up and read from all the various categories, but I'll admit that I haven't even opened the food and recipes folder in ages. The business and money one is pretty neglected as well. 

Fiction, health, and writing probably see the most action. Go figure. about you? What are your favorite types of books? How might your folders break down? 

Thursday, July 3, 2014

you say po-tay-to, I say po-tah-to

After the trials of fixing supper last night, I was at least able to offer eggs and hash browns. Natalie was excited about the idea of hash browns while I was cooking. However, once the hash browns were actually on her plate, she had a different reaction. "You said hash browns! These are potatoes!" she said, sounding quite affronted by the whole thing.

Poor kid, with her horrible deceptive mother.

Today, she offered to help me with my "dirty work" (her term for house cleaning chores). I'm going to give her that one. ;)

On the subject of "dirty work," I really should have taken before and after pictures of my pantry today. It's all organized! Alas, a camera never actually occurs to me. So just imagine that it was a kind of a jumbled mess before and it's all neat and tidy now, okay? ;)

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

when Plan A fails, go to Plan B...I mean, Plan C...I mean...oh, never mind

Some days trying to cook supper really isn't worth the effort.

Today was one of those days.

I had a plan. Spaghetti and salad. I had lots of good salad ingredients. Something for everyone (and in this house, that's no mean feat!).

But I took the meat for the spaghetti sauce out of the fridge and knew immediately that Plan B was in order. The package had leaked, the meat didn't look right, and it smelled even worse. Gross.

Okay. Toss the meat; regroup. I had bacon, eggs, and some frozen hash browns. Breakfast for supper would save the day!

I hadn't actually bought the bacon. It had been given to us. But I pulled it from the fridge and looked at the date. November 19, 2013.

Um. That's really not any better than the meat. Yeesh.

Sighing, grumbling, and generally being put out with life, I tossed the bacon too.

Okay, eggs are protein, I have cheese, I have hash browns. We're still going to make this breakfast/supper hybrid thing work.

And it did, sort of. Not to brag or anything, but I make really good scrambled eggs. I don't always like eating anyone else's, truth be known. And this batch came out really pretty and perfect.

Only...Nelson had been feeling rotten all day and finally succumbed. (Whatever Natalie had at the beginning of the week hit him, and he's in bed with a fever.) He wasn't interested in supper at all. Sarah ate happily, but Natalie didn't eat much either. My beautiful eggs went largely unappreciated.

I like hash browns an awful lot though, so I probably ate more than my fair share. In that sense, I guess it's good that I didn't have to share, right? (Trying to find the silver lining here.)

If someone wants to take over supper preparations at my house, you are welcome to it. I think I'm done.

Monday, June 30, 2014

book review: behind the mask

I love the daily Kindle freebies. But the books are something of a gamble. Some of the books you snag for free are downright awful. Some are fabulous gems. Most fall somewhere in the middle.

I had been on a streak of mediocre to terrible as far as Kindle reading went. And then I started reading Behind the Mask by Elizabeth D. Michaels.

I knew from the start that it was going to be good. It began like a historical mystery, with a little bit of romance thrown in. That happens to be my favorite genre, so I was excited to find a new author who was actually good.

I guess I should have paid a bit more attention to the book description. The mystery only lasted through the first part of the book. Once it wrapped up, I thought the book over. It wasn't. Not even close.

Turns out the book was a saga. Seven hundred and ninety-two pages worth of saga. With a sequel to come. Wowza.

That's okay, though--it was a good saga. I'll probably get the sequel and read it too.

I'll admit that the twists didn't actually surprise me (I've read too many mysteries over the years--not many surprises left).  But since it was a saga rather than a straight-up mystery, it's more about the characters' journey anyway, so I'm not too bothered by that. I liked the characters enough to stay engaged throughout the whole thing.

It's available in paperback as well as Kindle (although the e-edition is certainly easier to tote around!).

If you're a fan of historical fiction, give it a try. (Amazon does offer the Kindle version in segments, although it ends up being more expensive overall to purchase it that way. However, it will let you try a part of it first to see if you like it before you commit to the whole thing. It's a nice option. Or you can just request a free sample--not sure how big of a sample they'll send, but it is free and at least gives you a preview.)

Disclaimer: The link is an affiliate link. 

Friday, June 27, 2014

Twitter tales

 Friday Phrases gives a prompt each week for people to post "micro-fiction" on Twitter. You can use the prompt or not (so far I've always used it). When I click through the #FP hashtag, I find it fascinating how different the stories all are. Some are light and humorous; some are dark and haunting. I'm often amazed at what people can fit into so few words. Being rather verbose by nature, I often find it hard to condense my thoughts down enough to fit into a tweet, but I think it's good for me to have to do so. And I pick up new followers each week I participate, and my tweets are being retweeted and favorited. I'll admit that those things make me smile. :)

Here are some of my Twitter tales:

She seemed so sweet and innocent at first, needing his help and protection. She robbed him blind. He forgave the theft but not the lies. (prompt: at first blush)

She wished she could go back, make different choices. But it was too late. She'd dug her own grave and had no way to claw back out now. (prompt: grave digging)

She scowled at the scenery whizzing by. He was excited about a new start; she already missed home. She'd make sure this never worked. (prompt: through the glass)

He watched through the glass. She never let up, bad cop all the way. He should go in, rein her in.
 He didn't move. This was too fun. (prompt: through the glass)

She'd seen it all through that dirty window.
She could never forget.
But he wouldn't either, and that's why she was still running. (prompt: through the glass)

If you find these interesting, let me know. I'll try to share here each week, for non-Twitter family and friends.

If you get a chance and are on Twitter, check out #FP. The creativity of the participants is really astounding!

Thursday, June 12, 2014

I get by with a little help from my friends...

So I talked a bit about faith communities in the previous post--about how we spur each other on (or sometimes carry each other along--I need the latter a fair amount if I'm honest). Sometimes we need someone quite literally to take our hands and guide us along the way. Other times it's more metaphorical.

A few weeks ago, I was the lucky recipient of a more symbolic hand-holding.

On Twitter, the hashtag #amwriting is a fun one to visit.  You can swap advice and tips, share a bit of your current project, or vent a little. On this particular occasion, I was most interested in the first and third of those things. It wasn't exactly going well. I had reread my work thus far several times, trying to get an idea of how the next scene should play out. I had turned on my favorite writing music. But nothing was coming to me.

Finally, in exasperation, I tweeted, "At the moment, #amstuck feels more apt than #amwriting." 

I think that is my most popular tweet to date. It was retweeted and favorited by several writers who could relate to the feeling. And I picked up several fellow writers as followers. lovely online pal (whom I'll call Campy) immediately responded. She offered to be a cheerleader, beta reader--whatever I needed, whatever would help. I didn't even know what would help at that point, but I appreciated her willingness to step in.

She then came up with the idea of doing a writing sprint together. We'd both set a timer, set our writing play list, and just write for that amount of time. Whatever came out. 

It honestly wasn't terribly different from what I'd been doing (or trying to do, rather) up to that point. And worked. There was something so powerful about knowing someone was out there, writing with me. I started typing...and I kept going. I ended up with over 800 words when all was said and done. And I know it had everything to do with the power of knowing someone was out there, doing it with me. 

The power of community--of being in this thing together. I love it. (Thanks again, Campy!)