No NaNoWriMo For Me

I had thought about doing NaNoWriMo this year – even after swearing I wouldn’t. I liked the idea of joining with other writers, of pushing myself to get a set amount of words written/edited. In the end, though, I didn’t commit – this month, we have Joy’s 8th birthday (yesterday); Carl’s mother’s birthday (in deference to her, I won’t mention which one); Carl traveling for a scholarly conference, leaving me the sole responsible adult for several days; Thanksgiving; and of course, any handmade Christmas gifts have to get started now.

November is never a great writing month for me.

I am trying to not let myself be lured away from the edits I am properly doing right now, and the short stories I would like to finish before the end of the year, to start a full-length sequel to From the Shadows. I have the faintest glimmer of an idea for it, which properly should be left to sit and develop before any writing ever happens (even if I didn’t have other projects to finish, WHICH I DO), but of course I get excited and want to start writing RIGHT NOW.

Discipline and self-control, right?

Sigh. Being responsible – even being responsible to the story itself by not rushing it, not to mention being responsible to the other stories I have begun and must not leave half done – is hard.

And don’t even get me started on how hard it is to be a responsible homeschool mom when I want to spend school hours writing instead …


Top Ten Tuesday: Books That Made Me Cry

I’ve never done a Top Ten Tuesday post before, but I saw the topic for this week and couldn’t resist. Because who can pass on a chance to share the books that have moved them deeply over the years?

I’m not really much of a crier, so some of these are more along the lines of “stirred deep emotion that would have showed itself in tears were that my preferred method for expressing emotion.” Just so you know.

1. Ultraviolet, RJ Anderson. I knew I loved the characters and the story a short way into this book. I didn’t expect the moment of breathless poignancy and beauty (and no, I’m not going to spoil it for you by describing it) near the end. Suffice to say it took this book from a great read to a WOW read.

2. Till We Have Faces, CS Lewis. I love Narnia with all my heart. But it’s Till We Have Faces that stirred my soul, even when I read it the first time and didn’t have a clue what Lewis was trying to convey. I knew it was important, and powerful, and meaningful, at least.

3. A Ring of Endless Light, Madeleine L’Engle. This one really did have me in genuine tears. I was in the grip of depression, struggling to break free, with a toddler and a baby dependent on me for everything, a husband with his own struggles and not able to help, no family or friends around to give me a hand up, and a God who was silent toward me for the first time in my life. I read this book and sobbed. It hurt. But it was a hurt laced through with hope, and it wasn’t long after reading it that my husband and I began our arduous journey, together, toward healing and love.

4. The Blue Castle, LM Montgomery. I read this one for the first time in the first few months of marriage – a time that, though I didn’t know it then, was planting the seeds of the depression I mentioned above. Lonely, confused about what a healthy marriage was, a husband working long, hard hours, getting no sleep due to horrible neighbors … The Blue Castle showed me a woman escaping from an intolerable life, and it was both inspiring and painful.

5. Emily of Deep Valley, Maud Hart Lovelace. I’ve spoken before about what Emily means to me. I don’t think I can really top that post in one short paragraph here.

6. Code Name Verity, Elizabeth Wein. Oh, this book gutted me. I can’t talk about it without spoiling the entire thing, but if you’ve read it, even if it didn’t touch you the way it did me, you’ll understand why.

7. Rose Under Fire, Elizabeth Wein. CNV hit me because of the characters. RUF left me shaken because I knew that the very worst parts of the story were not fiction, but truth, and not even the darkest parts of that truth. WWII was such a dark time in humanity’s history – and yet even in that dark period, hope, love, and faith shone through, and Wein portrayed both the horror and the hope beautifully. A tremendously important read for anyone, I think, even if the ending did fall flat for me personally.

8. The Summer of the Grandmother, Madeleine L’Engle. My grandmother died after twelve years of diagnosed Alzheimer’s less than a year before I tried to read this book. I couldn’t get through it. I burst into tears somewhere in the first chapter, and decided I needed to wait until a bit more time had passed before I gave it another try. My own emotions were still too raw.

9. The Rogue Crew, Brian Jacques. OK, this one is almost cheating, because it’s been sitting on my shelf since it was published and I still haven’t read it. But I want to cry every time I look at it, all right? I don’t know if I’ll ever fully recover from Jacques’ death, and if I read his final book it will be like saying goodbye to Redwall forever, and I can’t do that.

10. The Golden Dream of Carlo Chuchio, Lloyd Alexander. Another author whose death devastated me. This book I have read, though only once, and I sniffled through the entire thing. There’s something incredibly poignant about a book which the author knows is his/her final work, and while Carlo Chuchio isn’t Lloyd’s best, it still has all the factors that made his work great, and oh my gosh, I miss him.

So there you have it, my first entry into Top Ten Tuesdays. And now that I’ve stripped my soul bare for you all, I’m going to go make myself a nice soothing cup of tea and read something very, very light and comforting. A nice murder mystery by Agatha Christie, perhaps …?


Happy Winter Thoughts

It’s a cold day outside – granted, practically balmy compared to the -16°F (with ice! and snow!) we had here at my parents’ the last few days, but it is windy – and I am snuggled onto my grandmother’s couch while the family fun goes on next door and the girls rest upstairs in preparation for more fun this evening. I told them “only an hour” almost two hours ago, but they’re so quiet, and the house is so cozy with the furnace roaring, and the thought of crossing the driveway to get back to my parents’ house is so bleak, that I’ve not yet fetched them.

Today Mom watched the kids while Carl and I ran some errands in town. You know you’ve been parents for a while when running errands childless feels like a date. We closed our old bank account, visited Dad at the hardware store, and went to the Co-op and grocery store. When we got back to the house, Mom had helped Joy knit one row in a doll blanket, and helped Gracie make a bead necklace for Aunt Zizzy. We always did fun crafts with Grammie when we would visit her. It’s fantastic to see my kids doing the same with their grandmother.

I’ve been reading Project-Based Homeschooling and getting all sorts of great ideas from it. I need to hurry up and finish it so Carl can read it before I have to return it to the library. I think it was Melissa Wiley I saw recommend it on Twitter. I’m so glad I did!

The US Figure Skating Championships start tomorrow. So does Downton Abbey (though I won’t be watching it until Monday evening, after we’ve returned home). The Bobsled, Skeleton, and Luge races are heating up. We’re moving closer to the Olympics! And, of course, SHERLOCK RETURNS on January 19.

I’m making lists of books I want to read this year. Trying to put more non-fiction on there, since that (to my surprise) is what I loved most out of all my plethora of books I read in the last two years. I keep getting disappointed by most of my fiction reads. (But not Jinx, which Maureen recommended and I promptly bought, devoured, and loved. I’m already planning a re-read so I can really savor it – I was so eager to find out what would happen next that I know I missed a lot of the beauty of the writing itself).

Joy just came downstairs and told me Gracie is asleep, which means I need to go wake her up so she will sleep tonight. Poor little chickadee! All this traveling about to visit family has been wonderfully fun, but exhausting. I have a hunch we’ll all be happy to settle back into a routine when we return home.

May this first weekend of 2014 be full of peace and rest for you all, my friends.



The question we’ve been asked most often recently is “So are you getting excited about the move? Nervous?”

Up until just a day or so ago, my answer was always “Nah, pretty calm about the whole thing, actually.” There are certain aspects to the move that excite me (living so close to Boston! Living so close to THE OCEAN! Being able to explore new places, etc), and certain aspects that make me nervous (figuring out homeschool requirements in a new district and state. Living in an apartment again after six years of duplexes/houses. Exploring new places, etc), but about the move overall, I’ve been calm.

Yesterday, stress started to set in (there’s some alliteration for you!). I’ve reached the packing stage where I’m trying to make sense of all the little things (how do I pack everything that’s been scattered all over my dresser top for months because I can’t throw it out but there’s no other place for it?) and figure out the bare minimum of what we need to survive for the next week so I can pack everything else.

Along with the stress, though, has come a certain building excitement. When the pillows and mattress cover that will transform our daybed into a couch (our old sofa is too big and clunky, so we’re selling it & using the daybed) arrived in the mail yesterday, it was a definite thrill, envisioning them in our new living room. As I tape closed boxes of kitchen supplies, I imagine unpacking them in my new kitchen, and preparing and eating meals as a family in our new home. When the girls squabble and fuss with each other, I pry them apart and think gratefully of how soon this time of uncertainty will be done and they’ll be settled back down into their usual (mostly) cheerful selves.

So yes, now I am getting excited, right along with the stress. Moving is never fun, per se, but it can be thrilling. And it’s taken a while, but that thrill is finally sinking in with me.

One week and one day!


Overcoming Adversity Bloghop

Today is the start of Nick Wilford’s “Overcoming Adversity” bloghop. I haven’t done a bloghop in ages, but I knew, as soon as I saw Nick’s first post talking about it, that I wanted to do this one. Nick asked bloggers to write a short story on overcoming adversity that he would later compile into an anthology to help raise funds to send his stepson Andrew, who has cerebral palsy, to college. What an amazing privilege to be able to participate in a project like this!
I wasn’t able to come up with a respectable story (embarrassing for a fiction writer to admit, but true), so I turned to poetry. This piece is in honor of my grandparents. Some of my most precious and painful memories are seeing my grandfather sit beside Grandma’s bedside holding her hand, long after her memories of him had faded. The very last memory I have of them together, in fact, is of them in that position when she was in the hospital with the pneumonia that eventually ended her life. If anyone in my life has ever been an example of overcoming adversity, it is them.
Nick, thank you for giving me this chance to join in something like this – it truly is a gift from you to us!
Farm boy

Farm girl

Husband and wife
Grandparents and more

Her memories are gone
His legs no longer bear his weight
To the world, they are broken

Side by side
Her in a hospital bed
He in his wheelchair

Hands clasped
Love forever
Together, they are always whole.