Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Wish List

I'm working on the premise for a new story in which the protagonist, (a ten-year-old boy, who, after having a terrible, rotten, very-bad, no-good day), makes a list of things that would define utter happiness for him. Except that, when they start coming true, he finds perhaps he already had everything he ever wanted—and now he must find a way to stop the fulfillment of his wishes. . .

This idea came out of my own personal musings on what would make me happy. A dangerous game, but there are times when it's a wise practice to list a few wishes and examine them in light of what really matters.

I made two lists.

The first one was a quickly-written silly list of things I think I want. I'll not bore you with the contents of that list here. Chances are, you can come up with a few of the items that were on that list all on your own.

My second list was a little more careful. What if these things were fulfilled, I asked myself. What do I really want?

A few items from the second list . . .

1. To know, with all certainty, that I have accomplished what I was placed on this earth to do, and that I have done it beautifully.
2. To love well.
3. To give my husband and my children the best of me, even on the worst of days.
4. To have wise children, even if they are not always happy.
5. To instill joy in my children.
6. To have faith in the impossible and the improbable, regardless of what life chucks at me.
7. To be creative without being cynical.

Made any wish lists recently?

Tickle Monster

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Sweet Moment

Me: Caleb, can I have a hug, please? I need a big hug.
Caleb: You sad?
Me: No, but I would love a hug.
Caleb: And a kiss?
Me: Sure!
(hug and kiss ensues).
Me: Thanks bud, that was great.
Caleb: Sure Mom. You the best in the whole world.
Me: *melts*

Friday, July 17, 2009

En-Courage or, My Life as a Writer

I’ve ben thinking a lot about discouragement this week. Not a great start, I know—but hey, at least I’m real.

As a writer, I think it’s pretty natural to become discouraged every once and a while. The very act of my profession demands that I bare certain elements of myself that I have put in text, for the world to read and alternately love or hate. Of course, that is part of the thrill—getting under someone’s skin just enough to cause a new train of though or spur a new perspective.

But change never happens without struggle, and writers—I among them—are some of the most struggling and “rejected” people on earth. We continually run up against the wall of commercialism, and often our best ideas are sacrificed on that alter so that we can continue living with the luxuries of heat, plumbing, and electricity.

There is nothing so discouraging as having someone say “no thank, your idea sucks,” over and over and over—and conversely, nothing so encouraging as having someone say, “maybe.”

The protagonists in my stories tend to wrestle with discouragement on various levels as well. And yet, I have never written a story where the bravery of said protagonists is not tested, tried, and then revealed. Which makes me wonder if perhaps I don’t think about encouragement in an confused light.

Perhaps I confuse encouragement with support or approval. To encourage is to impart courage—to illuminate the bravery that already exists within someone. How healthy is that? And really, I suppose the last thing I want, is for someone to tell me what my itching ears are wanting to hear, when it may not be the truth.

So there. Tonight, I am going to be encouraged—to allow myself to be imparted with courage—allow the bravery that I already posses to have the upper hand in my battlefield of self-doubt.

Wow. I almost sound like a heroine!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Words to Live by . . . and Chocolate

How many Dove Promises Chocolates does it take to find a descent quote?
Today: 5
Yesterday: 3
Tomorrow: Who knows.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Writing in the Rain

What is it about a good thunderstorm/rainstorm that makes me itch to set words on paper? Seriously, am I that melancholy? (Husband nods the affirmative). Maybe it has something to do with my roots that are still deeply planted in the pacific northwest, watered regularly by heavy rainfall. Regardless . . .

Tonight, as a lovely thunderstorm rolled through town and beat back the dust, the humidity, and the length of my mid-July day, I rejoiced. I couldn't wait till I got the kids to bed so I could blog these thoughts.

Caleb, Ella, and I cozied up in the front porch—newly refurbished with windows that actually opened—and flung said windows wide (sans screens), to the wild wind, resolunding thunder, and torrential rain. Glorious.

We are working on reassuring Caleb that thunder is not a thing to be afraid of—that God made it so that the skies could praise Him. ("It's just the sky saying, You are amazing God!!!") Caleb is still a little skeptical, but it got him thinking and with every resounding boom he looked at me with cautious eyes—

"The sky is praising?"

"The sky is praising," I assure him with a nod and he is satisfied until the next boom forces his wide eyes back to mine.

Ella is still too little to be bothered by much of anything, save an empty tummy or dirty pants; still, she too was wide-eyed and attentive tonight as we sat together and admired the chaos outside.

This is what I love most about Minnesota. We have thunderstorms like no one else, and also what I miss the most come winter.

There is something soul-straining . . . stretching . . . about a sky that nearly tears itself apart. And yes, I am well aware of the meteorological reasons behind our storms—cold fronts and warm fronts, rising and falling pressure, the whole works.

Nevertheless, I prefer to raise my wide eyes to heaven with my son and wonder over a God who is so amazing that even the skies would rend themselves for His glory.

Reign on me . . .

My Two Kids

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Fritz Loven

We subscribe to the Minnesota Conservation Volunteer Magazine—a little publication with a lot of pop when it comes to excellent info on Minnesota's great outdoors. Aaron picked up the most recent issue and latched on to an article about picnicking—something families did regularly prior to the invention of the TV. I have great memories of picnicking with my family growing up, and I actually have a collection of black and white photographs of my Great Grandma, Great Grandpa, and their children (my Great Aunt and Uncle, and Grandfather as children) all picnicking in the woods of MN.

So, all that said, Aaron and I decided to begin a new tradition and take the kids on a picnic at least once a week, making our way around our local state and city parks. We started with Friz Loven last night, and had a great time, though it started out a little rough . . .

We have begun to realize that Caleb often needs convincing when it comes to doing something out of the regular day-to-day routine. So he wasn't too game about going, at first. But once we arrived and he realized he was going to get to run wild in the woods, he was really game. Unfortunately, potty training put a damper on the start of the adventures and we ended up having to pull a diaper out of the car and let Caleb go pant-less due to over-excitement. Once we set up our picnic—fried chicken, ice-cold pickles, cheese, and fruit snacks, we were about to commence when Caleb fell off the picnic table bench and wrenched his shoulder. After the tears subsided and the limb was tested for strength and flexibility ("Raise your hand high over your head—really high—good!" Now, squeeze Mommy's hand really tight—super tight! Good!") and it was ascertained as whole and functioning, we continued with the picnic.

Once the crumbs were swept off the picnic blanket, we went for a little family hike down to the stream that flows through the park, looked for brook trout, and threw a few rocks into the water for good measure. The evening was relatively bug free (a minor miracle), and the evening sun filtering through the trees was absolutely glorious.

Overall—a huge success!

Now . . . where to next week . . .

Monday, July 6, 2009

Farm Fresh

For those of you who don't know . . . at the Red House, we have chickens.

I don't normally make this kind of a public confession as it tends to generate raised eyebrows and strange looks. But today I am feeling particularly brave.

I grew up in the country and kept chickens, and honestly, while town life provides the welcome convenience of a grocery, the movie-rental store, and the local coffee shop, all in close proximity, my heart still resides in more wide-open spaces.

Last spring, when Caleb was still wrestling with his ongoing eating/health issues (another story, another day), we found that eggs were the only form of protein he would/could consume without negative effect. We were going through about a dozen or more eggs every couple days, and so in a desire to provide my son with the best possible form of this food source, and because I have always had the secret desire to keep chickens again, Caleb and I drove to the small hatchery south of town and brought home a few downy chicks.

After the long process of community involvement/petitions/dealings with local government that resulted in a change of city ordinances, the RedHouse Chickens rose from their "grandfathered-in" status of legality to "fully-welcome" citizens, as north Brainerd city residents. They weathered the sinfully-frigid temps common of Minnesota winters, and now are providing us with about four eggs a day.

A few benefits, aside from the constant and continual supply of eggs: plenty of garden fertilizer, excellent composting, a relatively bug-free yard and immediate neighborhood, a "farm" experience for myself and my children, and the infinite delight of watching my son not only collect his breakfast, but eat it too—the incredible, edible egg.

Which came first? Definitely the chicken.


I just had to share this picture of Caleb.

We spent the 4th with Aaron's family up north, and following a fabulous time spent participating in small-town old-style community games, (balloon toss, potato sack race, shoe kick, relay races, etc.), Caleb was pretty hot and sweaty. So, into the kiddy pool he went.

The look on his face clearly says it all:

"Can you believe I'm getting away with this much fun?!"

New House continued . . .

Well . . .

The new siding/painting project is almost complete!
I posted earlier on this process of reclamation, I am SO THRILLED with how the little red house has turned out. Beautiful!

I am posting a couple of pictures for the sake of comparison. What you can't see very well in the first photo is how the paint is actually being blown off the siding due to the wood rot. Lovely.
1. Before
2. During
3. Almost done! (the white/blue parts are not yet painted).

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Doll Baby—4 months old

She looks like her daddy, no?