Monday, June 23, 2014

Too Busy?

So, I have come to realize that I'm doing too much. I'm one of those people that's motivated very easily externally, and not as easily internally. What does that mean? It means that I don't do what I tell myself I will, but I am absolutely responsible if I make a commitment to someone. Hence, why I have not posted since January despite my best intentions.

Part of the problem, I have recently realized, is due to my crazy job schedule. I am a "stay at home mom" who works three different part time jobs. I have a part-time job teaching swim lessons at the Y (currently 4 days a week for 1-3 hours at a time). I have a part-time job at my church helping with their childcare ministry for Bible studies and currently a summer "day camp" for preschoolers (this can vary between 3-15 hours a week) and I have a part-time work at home job tutoring online. This doesn't even take into consideration all of my volunteer commitments (once per month in the nursery and counting the church offering, leadership position I just accepted at my "Mom's group" at another church). It also doesn't count the fact that when I go to work at the Y, I also have to drag along the kids and shower and change afterwards. Oh, and the whole being a full-time mother thing too.

I get so many "rewards" from work, that I don't realize how packed my schedule is until I try to schedule a doctor's appointment or therapy for my oldest son's sensory issues. I get the "rewards" of a paycheck every two weeks or so, and the feeling of helping others and a job well done. I get the rewards of some time without my kids (at least in the case of the Y job) and love the fact that I don't have to put my kids in childcare with strangers.

However, I do wonder sometimes if I'm stretching myself too thinly. Am I too busy for the most important things in life? Women are told that we need to be "super moms". We need to contribute to the budget, and teach our kids, and love our kids, and discipline our kids, and keep a clean, tidy house, and cook and play with our kids, and be a good wife, and take care of ourselves (mentally, physically, emotionally, spiritually). I heard somewhere that it's only possible to do 2-3 things well, and everything else will be done halfway. You can be a good wife and mom at the expense of yourself. You can be a good provider and mom at the expense of your marriage and yourself. You can take care of yourself and your spouse, but neglect your kids or not contribute to the household finances.

So, I think it's time to take another look at my priorities. Which two or three things are really the most important to me? Is it the $500 net a month I can bring home if I work in every possible spare moment of the day? Or is it taking care of my sanity, so I can take care of my kids and my spouse? I will say I know my priority is not taking care of the house/cooking, but we get by with the basics in those categories.

I'm also thinking that I need to find an "accountability" partner who is also focused on the same goals I have. I definitely need the external motivation. I often find myself comparing my schedule to other moms with older kids or more life experience than I have. I need to compare myself to my ideal life and not other people's lives. We can't all do everything, so let's do what's most important.

Thursday, January 09, 2014

Writing Examples - First Person Past Tense

So far, I've learned a few things about myself and my writing style. First, it is really hard for me to free-write without editing. I always knew that, but now it's obvious. I'm used to writing a first draft for school projects or college essays and just turning them in without re-writing or editing much at all. Generally, this is because I edit as I go. So, I will say that what I'm including as my examples of writing below are as "free write" as I can make myself be right now. The second thing I've learned is it's really hard to stick with writing in the first person past tense - I tend to want to throw in some present tense, and it gets really awkward. I'm hoping I was able to keep it all in the past tense, but feel free to comment if I'm incorrect!

I'm about halfway through my goals for this week. I still need a 30 minute block of free-writing practice for third-person past tense point of view focusing on character development.

Here is my work so far this week:

One paragraph free writes for both points of view:
  1. 1st person past tense:
    When I woke up that morning, it was dark out. I glanced over at the clock and saw that it was nearly 9am. Why was it still so dark? I pulled aside the lightweight curtains near my bedside window and looked out. The sky was deep gray, nearly black, and large snowflakes drifted slowly to the ground. Snowflakes? In May? I looked again, more closely, and eventually recognized that large pieces of ash were drifting down, even some burning embers, and a deep red glow lit the horizon.
  2.  Third person limited omniscience past tense:
    Jason watched the large pieces of ash drifting in the wind, and wondered what was happening. Could it be a volcano or a forest fire? He lived in the Midwest for crying out loud! What could be causing such a strange phenomenon? He saw that the wind was blowing the ash towards his house from the direction of the glow. Whatever was out there, was headed closer to him and everything he loved.
30 minutes of character development for Jason in first person past tense:

I stayed in bed for as many hours as I could stand, watching the hands of my watch tick past 1am, 2am, then 3am. The glow of the flames reflecting from the lake and the thick smell of smoke in the air kept me from nodding off. I glanced at my reflection, stopping to run my fingers over the dark circles under my eyes. Everything I ever cared about was in danger. How could I sleep at a time like this?

I knew in my head that the flames shouldn’t be able to cross the lake towards the house, but I couldn’t stop thinking about my animals. Could they breathe with all this smoke in the air? Did I do enough to try to get them out?

The fire had been burning for almost a week. At first, it was just a few hints of smoke, and didn’t even make the morning news. Then, my neighbors evacuated. A day later, the power lines burned. I was struggling through each day without any updates from the local news, relying on my own brainpower and limited brawn. The simplest of tasks took twice as long. Instead of a quick shower every day, I was now braving the nearest section of lake with a fragment of bar soap left over from a hotel trip as often as I could stand it. My clothes now smelled permanently of smoke, so I didn’t both trying to wash them, but the drifting ashes formed a grit on my skin that I tried to wash off whenever I could.

I had spent two days making sure my animals were as safe as possible. The lake formed a natural firebreak before my house and personal yard, but some of the goats were fenced in on the other side of the lake. Rather than risk stranding myself if a rogue fire started near the road, I took the small rowboat back and forth across the lake rescuing them a few at a time. The ones that didn’t come near enough to the lake, I had to assume would either fend for themselves or may have already succumbed to smoke inhalation.

The backyard was completely fenced, so I brought the goats in and locked the gate. The vegetable and flowers gardens were the first casualties, but at least I didn’t have to worry about keep the grass trimmed. I took a few buckets of water at a time from the lake and wet down anything flammable within sight – the wooden storage shed, the woodpile, even last fall’s leaves that were still composting. I spent another day chopping down any trees that were nearby, and tossing the wood into the lake. Every so often, a burning ember would drift into my backyard, so I kept my eyes open as much as possible.

I tried not to think about where the fire would go once it passed my property. I knew it had to pass my property, otherwise everything I ever cared about would be gone. This wasn’t what I signed up for when I bought my small farm. I thought it would be a utopia – no people around to distract me from what I wanted to do, working in the dirt, with the animals, raising a better breed of goats for the sheer difficulty of it. I had increased their milk production by 5% with the second generation. Now I wasn’t even milking everyday, much less tracking any information. Even when I did milk them, there was nowhere to store or process the milk since the power was out.


Before my cell ran out of battery, I received a call from one of my local distributors. He was concerned about being able to promise his local store a certain amount of organic milk and cheese and wanted to make sure I would fulfill my contract. I told him to stick his organic cheese in his ears if he didn’t want to hear me curse him out. I hung up on him, just in case he really wanted to hear me curse, I wouldn’t give him the satisfaction.

Tuesday, January 07, 2014

2014 Goals

I think that I've finally decided to pursue writing as more than a "someday" goal and make it a "now" goal. I haven't written in my blog in years, but I do want to start using this blog as a way to track my goal progress and publish short stories on my path to my main goal: self-publishing a novel.

So here are my goals for this week:

  • Decide on two main writing points of view that I would like to develop
  • Practice developing a believable character
  • Commit to 30 minutes of a free-write in each point of view developing the same character
As I make progress, I plan on publishing more posts which include examples of my work from the week. My overall goal for this year is to finally finish one of the myriad of novel ideas I have floating around in my random brain. The random brain is that portion of the brain that operates mainly while sleep deprived. Because I have a 10 month old baby that still wakes up in the middle of the night, that portion of my brain has been running rampant for the past few months.

I need to get those ideas out of random and put them into a format that other people can understand. Why do I feel this need? One of the reasons I've never been committed to finishing a novel (other than my general lack of commitment) is that I don't really feel the need for other people to see my work. However, after reading approximately 500 free e-books, I've realized that maybe other people need to read my novels. I've read too many novels where the main voice is agnostic or atheistic because of some "Christian" theme which is incorrect (for example that God doesn't love gays, which is completely untrue). I've also read too many "Christian-themed" novels that don't develop any type of Christian theme, but just say that the characters are Christian. If you claim to be a Christian, your character should develop over time in some way (and also have some type of moral imperative such as not sleeping together before marriage). Yes, we are not perfect, but we should at least be striving for something.

I plan on focusing mainly on writing fiction books with Christian themes, not Christian books. I feel like many of the "contemporary Christian" novels are sappy and cheesy and don't really have much story. I want the story to take precedence, and use that story to convince readers of the inherent worth in the Christian point of view without browbeating anyone... I know that's an insanely high standard to hold myself to, and I will likely fail to some degree. But I have determined that the benefits outweigh the risks and can't wait to get started! Look for more to come as I make progress on my weekly goals.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Money Saving Mom

The Money Saving Mom blog is one of several that I read that help me stay on track. They motivate me to do my best and save money while being a better Christian example of a good mom and wife. Crystal Paine, Money Saving Mom blogger, has recently come out with a new book, The Money Saving Mom's Budget. I'm looking forward to reading more about what she has to offer in this new format.

Pre-order Now!

Friday, April 08, 2011

Cloth Diapering Journeys

I've determined a few things while starting my cloth diaper journey. Picking one method and sticking with it is much cheaper, unless you make the wrong choice. Here are a couple of the methods I've tried with the pro's and con's. I will have a few follow up articles with my suggestions as far as brands/prices/places to buy.

  1. Pre-folds and covers. This is by far the cheapest route to go when cloth diapering. I didn't find it that difficult to fold the prefold and put it inside the cover (we used velcro or snap covers, so we did not need to pin). However, my husband vetoed this idea as being too difficult. Since I do want him to at least know how to change a diaper, I went with his decision. If my husband were okay with it, I would definitely go this route.
  2. One-size pocket diapers. This is probably the second cheapest route, if you find a pocket diaper that really works for your baby all the way from birth through potty training. My recommendation (especially if you have a very small newborn) would actually be to buy newborn size diapers (either pre-fold or pocket or even disposables if you prefer for the beginning) and then use the one-size once the child is about 3 months or so. This will help with a better fit. However, I have used one-size diapers since my baby was about 9 pounds.
  3. Sized pocket diapers. One method I have not tried. More expensive, but probably get a better fit.
  4. Fitted cloth diapers and covers. Another method  I have not tried. Presumably less folding, but I'm not sure it's worth the added expense.