Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Farming for Time

I have a confession.

A few months ago I quit playing all the Facebook games. Cold turkey.

And now. With a nice hot and juicy turkey heading toward me, I felt like I needed to confess something: I fell off the wagon.

Yes, that's right. I'm playing those time-sucking games again. And then some. But here's the thing. You expected the "but" right? Because when have I not had a very valid and legitimate reason behind anything?

Well, there was some time over the course of this last year that I was not in the best of health. During this time, I worked 100% from home when I could even work and I did 0 traveling. Which we all loved.

In the last month or so I've started traveling again and kidlets are none too pleased with my going MIA after 7 straight months at home. So the remedy?

Facebook games. You see, I play these games with my two little chickadees.

Petville is all 5yo and Happy Aquarium is 2yo's "pet fish"

Farmville, though, is where we have the most value and I'll tell you why. Each kidlet has a pet dog on the farm. They help me manage and decorate and all that. When I have to leave for a trip, we count out how many days I will be gone and we plant crops accordingly. The kids pick out what plant and where on the farm we plant it. And then while I'm gone, they go "take care" of the farm via my sister's / husband's / brother's FB accounts.

And then, the reward for being patient and as good as possible while I'm gone? We get to harvest crops when I get home! It's an easy, free and fun way of spending some extra quality time with the kids right after I get home and it doesn't take very long nor is it difficult.

It has really helped our little family sort out the time thing, because most little kids have a hard time defining the time concept anyway.

So yeah. That's my confession. Quality time with some Facebook games on the side.

Do you guys have creative ways of helping your kids cope with different things? I'd love to hear them!

When I leave for a trip,

Monday, November 29, 2010

Quote of the Week

"The best preparation for a better life next year is a full, complete, harmonious, joyous life this year."

Thomas Dreier

... Just something to keep in mind year over year, before you start thinking about New Year's Resolutions...

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Revisiting the Mayo Jar and Coffee

This was something I originally posted back in December of 2008. My blog was a lot different back then and I know I didn't have all the peeps I have now. So I just wanted to share this with you guys again, something to consider with Thanksgiving and the rest of the holidays coming.

I'm thankful to have all of you in my life even if it is mostly in a virtual way. I've found support and motivation, comfort and inspiration from everyone at one time or another and I know I will never be able to thank you enough.

I'll be back next week.

Hugs, and Happy Thanksgiving and Happy Thankful Thursday.

~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~

When things in your lives seem almost too much to handle, when 24 hours in a day are not enough, remember the mayonnaise jar and the 2 cups of coffee.

A professor stood before his philosophy class and had some items in front of him. When the class began, he wordlessly picked up a very large and empty mayonnaise jar and proceeded to fill it with golf balls. He then asked the students if the jar was full. They agreed that it was.

The professor then picked up a box of pebbles and poured them into the jar. He shook the jar lightly. The pebbles rolled into the open areas between the golf balls. He then asked the students again if the jar was full. They agreed it was.

The professor next picked up a box of sand and poured it into the jar. Of course, the sand filled up everything else. He asked once more if the jar was full. The students responded with an unanimous "yes."

The professor then produced two cups of coffee from under the table and poured the entire contents into the jar effectively filling the empty space between the sand. The students laughed.

"Now," said the professor as the laughter subsided, "I want you to recognize that this jar represents your life. The golf balls are the important things--your family, your children, your health, your friends and your favorite passions---and if everything else was lost and only they remained, your life would still be full.

The pebbles are the other things that matter like your job, your house and your car.The sand is everything else---the small stuff. "If you put the sand into the jar first," he continued, "there is no room for the pebbles or the golf balls. The same goes for life.

If you spend all your time and energy on the small stuff you will never have room for the things that are important to you. "Pay attention to the things that are critical to your happiness. Play with your children. Take time to get medical checkups. Take your spouse out to dinner. Play another 18. There will always be time to clean the house and fix the disposal. Take care of the golf balls first---the things that really matter. Set your priorities. The rest is just sand."

One of the students raised her hand and inquired what the coffee represented. The professor smiled. "I'm glad you asked."It just goes to show you that no matter how full your life may seem, there's always room for a couple of cups of coffee with a friend."

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Look Around

When I first read this week's quote, I flipped past it, thinking I cannot have a quote about birth and death the week of (American) Thanksgiving!

Then I went back. And realized it was the PERFECT quote for the week.

There is so much that goes on in our day to day lives that really, we tend to forget that somewhere in there, stopping to enjoy what's going on around us is not a bad thing.

Okay, so your first draft sort of sucks - guess what? You're so totally not alone.
And you got a rejection letter too? I'm totally with you.
Car trouble? Yep.
Bad hair day? OMG, who hasn't??

But really, that's all sort of trivial in the grand scheme of things. Before you let something like uncooperative hair, a sink full of dishes or yes, even a rejection letter, ruin your whole day, week or even month, take a step back and look around.

I'm betting that after a deep breath, a hot bath and a nice cup of tea (Earl Grey for me, please), you'll see the good that's around you and you'll see how much MORE of it there is than you realized.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Friday, November 19, 2010

Random Stuff Friday

Okay, hi. It's Friday already. I am writing this post and it is 12:14 AM and I have not yet gone to sleep nor have I done any creative writing. I don't like this feeling.

What have I been doing instead of working to finish my almost-finished wip? Day job stuff. It involves lots of spreadsheets with a bazillion lines. My eyes hurt. I might just type up the rest of this post with my eyes closed and see if that helps.

1) We had our family pictures done about a month ago and I just finally figured out which prints to order and which images to get on the CD. Anyway, I love Joanna Taylor. She knows exactly how to catch our family's whole personality on film. Plus, she's one of my oldest friends. By that I mean I've known her for forever, not that she's old. (Just making it clear, Jo.) If you want to see why I am gushing so much about how talented and wonderful and superawesometastic she is, check her out HERE I am so excited to get the pics and get our Christmas cards done!

2) Yes. I did mention Christmas already and it is not even Thanksgiving yet. Can't help it. The ads are already talking about Christmas lists and the stores have decorations out. The radio is playing Christmas songs and, well, it is what it is. The sad thing, Thanksgiving is my FAVORITE holiday. Why? The food. What can I say, I'm an easy girl to please. So you spend all that time in the morning cooking and stuff but then, the rest of the day is eating. Hanging out. Eating. Watching TV. Eating. And if you pay any attention to my Twitter feed, you'll notice, I tweet about food. A lot.

3) Speaking of Twitter, I love it. I know some people don't get it, others don't care for it and others still hate it, but I think it's because you have not learned how to appreciate it yet. So it has been suggested *ahem* to me by a few peeps (or tweeps in Twitterese), that I do a Twitter series on the blog. I'm working on it. Give me a couple weeks. Thinks have been super crazy at the day job and that's sucked up most of my brain power.

4) I use Excel. A lot. Like, a bajillion lines on a gazillion worksheets that link to a zillion other workbooks. After a few days staring at this stuff, you forget which way is up. Sorry if I sound more rambly than usual. That's been my life lately.

5) Thank you to Arctic Circle and the $.99 rootbeer float you made for me tonight to help me make it through Thursday evening all the way to Friday morning. I couldn't have done it without you. It's the little things, I tell you. The little things.

Happy Harry Potter Weekend Everybody! In the words of my 2yo waving her magic chopstick: Expecto Patronum!
P.S. I typed most of this post with my eyes closed and that helped a bit. But then, I had to open them to put in the links. But anyway. Wingardium Leviosa and what have you. Night. Er... Morning. Well, oh, nevermind. Let's just go with Peace Out.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

A Journey

I think it's safe to say most of us have been trudging along in this publication journey for a while now. It's the "a while" part that is open to interpretation, right?

There are all those success stories we hear, the ones where an author's written a book in just a few weeks that led to a multi-gazillion-dollar-deal, complete with glitter and sprinkles and loads of chocolate flavored confetti falling from the sky.

And then you think, dude, I could totally do that.

You scribble your book down. Jump on what you think is the Amtrak train straight for NYC where you just know your book is going to get an agent-editor-multi-bazillion-dollar (bigger than gazillion, you see) - deal and you'll have a parade and instead of throwing out candy to the masses you will throw chocolate covered words to help other writers achieve their dreams.

But. (Did you expect there not to be a "but?")

The train stops. You get out. And this is so not NYC.

You stand on the platform. And Platform 9 3/4, it's not.

You look around. Yep, still an Amtrak. In your hands, yep, still holding your gonna-be-a-NYT-bestseller. So you go over to find the conductor to get some information. And what do you learn? You've landed in Editsville. The conductor hands you a map and you see that this train stops in Editsville, Revision City, Rewriteston, Letitstewabit and then loops back around to Editsville again.

You've just missed the connection from Editsville to NYC.

The conductor asks, "Didn't anyone tell you that?"
You say, "Uh, no."
The conductor just shakes his head in apology and ambles away.
You stand there thinking, Uh, this is so not the trip I was planning. And then you look at your ticket. Everything looks okay and then you see some fine print beneath the destination.

Amtrak: Home to N
YC
with stops

With stops?!?!?!? You have a WTF moment. As in, Ms. NYT Bestseller just wrote her book in three and a half days and wtf, she is on the NYT Bestseller list and I can't even catch a freakin' break! Don't these people know I am the next (insert trend of your choice here). [You can insert lots more expletives, if you'd like. The moment is rather fitting.]

So your choices? Sit around Editsville eating weird Chocofake Rejection bars or you get back on the train. When you arrive in Revision City and are frustrated. Your options here? Sit around and eat the new White Chocofake Hopeless bars, or get back on the train. As tasty as that sounds, I'd vote the train.

Frustration turns to anger. Anger turns to resolve. And somewhere between Revision City and Rewriteston you break out your soon-to-be NYT Bestseller. You read through your ms as you chug along on the train. You find improvements you can make. You run into some peeps and they help you make it even better. So then, when you notice you've arrived in Editsville (umpteenth loops later) you realize something: You're in the right place. It's the right time. And you can get on the right train! And then you remember to check your ticket for the fine print again, just as the train pulls away from the platform.

Amtrak: Editsville to NYC
with stops

Great. What'd you think? That this whole getting published thing was easy???

~ * ~

All right, that was my so totally long-winded way of saying that while we hear lots and lots of success stories about those people who landed huge deals or seem to "have all the luck in the world," guess what?

We have no idea what their Amtrak ride was like, or how long it took, or what kind of an emotional rollercoaster it was. Okay, that's not entirely true. We get a reader's digest version of what they've lived through. Usually it's been edited to a significant degree, because no one wants to hear the crappy parts of the story, but what it comes down to is that everyone's journey is different. And sometimes it's hard to remember that.

Yes, we get frustrated, we get jealous. Yes, I said it. You don't have to deny it. But that's a post for another day. Like maybe tomorrow.

So yeah. Remember, we're all on a train. Sometimes people jump on and off, but each of our individual tickets is completely unique. Sort of like the tickets the kids get on the Polar Express.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Success via Daily Pep

I thought I had a blog post all ready for today.

I thought wrong.

However, I did get an email from a peep that led to a phone call that led me to want to write a post about success. And how some successes come quickly and others, well, do not.

But as I went through my blog roll, I found someone else had articulated my thoughts for me.

So hop on over to get some Daily Pep for Writers from Samuel Park and you'll know what I'm talking about.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Quote of the Week

"No trumpets sound when the important decisions of our life are made. Destiny is made known silently."

Agnes De Mille

Friday, November 12, 2010

And Random Stuff Friday Is Back

And more random than ever! Well, maybe not, but this week's title seemed a bit unfinished.

Anyway, obviously from this week's posts you could tell I'm back. And have I got some random stuff to share with you.

1) I went to a conference for the day job out in New York 2 weeks ago. Whenever you tell people you're going to New York, I've found they immediately think of New York City. For some, reasons are obvious, for others, I think it's just because it's a freaking gigantic city. But I sort of feel bad for the rest of the state. It's like they don't really exist because people are too focused on NYC. P.S. I was in Palisades, NY. Honestly, more New Jersey than New York, but not according to the official address.

2) My cousin got a new cell phone. The Droid X, I believe. It's big. And heavy. It does a bunch of cool stuff though, and she really likes it, so yay for her. But it just made me laugh at how the whole cell phone thing has come full circle. From being big and heavy to downright tiny (anyone remember the LG Juke?) and now we're back to the big and heavy. I realize, a lot of this has to do with phone capabilities, but it still makes me laugh a little.

3) There are 2 things that seem to be everywhere in Utah. They all seem to have sprouted up in the last couple of years and now you can't throw a rock without hitting one of them: build your own fro-yo places and sushi bars. Just an observation.

4) I'm so looking forward to the weekend. We've been
doing some house cleaning and sorting out things to donate, etc. I feel so ... Zen when we get rid of stuff and vacuuming, man, that's like the perfect Zen-tool. It totally "sucks" all the bad energy away. I know, I'm a bit of a weirdo when it comes to this, but honestly I don't have enough time to do as much cleaning as I'd like. I have to schedule it onto our family calendar just to make sure we can block out time. I know, a little crazy.

5) The University of Utah football team plays Notre Dame this week. Tomorrow, actually. And last week, well, they had a bit of an off game against TCU. So I'm wishing them much luck this week. GO UTES!!


Thursday, November 11, 2010

Fallen Apple

We've been going through some daycare issues because of the Husband's work schedule being a bit erratic lately, so last week found me dropping off and picking up the 5yo.

Well, she came running out of class ecstatic. As we walk to the car, she's flustered with excitement, telling me about a party. The first thing I wonder: oh, crap. Did I miss a holiday?

Then she tells me that it's a BOOK party.

My ears perk up. There were a lot of different kinds of book parties that I attended in elementary school. Ones where you got to wear pajamas to school and you spent the day reading under a table or a desk or wherever in the classroom. Book parties where you got to surprise someone else with a wrapped book exchange. Endless possibilities, I tell you.

But no. This was not one of those parties. It was a book party "for a man who wrote a book and he invited everyone from school!" Here's how the rest of our conversation went:

Me: "What's his name?"
5yo: "I don't know."
Me: "What book did he write?"
5yo: "I don't know."
Me: "Are you sure it's a book party?"
5yo: random rambling that I couldn't completely understand as she digs out papers in her backpack.
Me: *takes papers from kid and shuffles through newsletters* "Oh, Frank L. Cole came to your school today."
5yo: "Who?"
Me: *turns papers around to show her book covers*
5yo: "That's the books he had!"
Me: "You want to go to his book launch party next week?"
5yo: "pleasepleasepleaseplease."

Can you see where this conversation's going?

So yes, I will be taking the 5yo and possibly her younger sister also, to Frank's book launch party for his 3rd Hashbrown Winters book release tonight, Thursday, November 11. It's at the Barnes & Noble South Towne down in Sandy, UT if anyone's in the area and was also interested in coming.

Honestly, it sort of surprised me how excited she was about the book party. She's always loved books, but I had no idea that the idea of going to a party for a book would be so high on her list of things she had to do.

Clearly, 5yo is an obvious exhibit of the apple not falling far from the tree. And I couldn't be more happy about it!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

NoNano

I'm not doing NaNoWriMo this year.

I think I've said that before.

The funny thing about that? I've written more since November has started than I have in the last few weeks, I think.

When I tried Nano last year, I didn't finish. There was too much real life/day job stuff that came up and took away all the free time I generally have to write. Things that didn't allow me to "take away" time and use it for what I wanted.

So this year, I'm working on a quasi-Nanowrimo ... it's more like FiNoWriMo ... Finish Novel Writing Month.

I've got a list ... a LIST, I tell you, of projects I need to get to, all are in some way, shape or form, started, but the one I've been working on has been waiting to be finished since, oh, September, I believe. And I cannot push it off anymore. These other projects are screaming in my ears. I have to finish the current one to give it some time to stew. Time I can use to write something else.

So I'm writing. Lots. To finish a novel, but not one that was started for Nano.

There's no reason not to ride the wave of other people's word count motivations and use that energy to get some words in for myself, right? Anyone else doing noNano writing?

Monday, November 8, 2010

To Be Great

Well hi! Did you miss me? I totally missed you guys! Obviously, I'm back now. And I've realized something in this last couple weeks that I've taken an almost complete step away from the bloggy world: taking that time away is really good for one's mental health.

That's not to say that you guys drive me crazy or anything, because really, I missed our conversations! But coming up with blog topics and trying to figure out the best times to post them and remembering to answer comments and commenting on other blogs, well, it can totally do a number on your brain cells. Especially if you're not at 100%.

Really, what I am trying to say is that "To Be Great," I think you also have to know when to take a break. The world keeps moving, yes. Life continues on without you, yes. But really, you are the greatest part of your life (and probably a few other people's lives as well) so if you're not 100%, you end up being not so great. And we all want to be the best we can.

As I strive "to be great," I have realized that sometimes, I just need to step back and take that break. It gives me a chance to realign my priorities and also means I get to come back filled with more randomness to share with you guys!

What do you think are things that help us be the best we can?

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Quote of the Week

"Do you wish to be great? Then begin by being . . . The higher your structure is to be, the deeper must be its foundation."

St. Augustine