Thursday, December 31, 2009

Goodbye 2009

"Live Authentically"

That's been my motto for 2009.

In this past year, I've learned to be
much more comfortable in my own skin.

In this past year, I've gained greater peace than ever before.

In this past year, I've felt less like a nervous girl,
more like a confident woman.

In this past year, I've felt profound love and gratitude.

In this past year, I've allowed myself to be more open.

In this past year, I've made some major life decisions.

In this past year, I've been more in tune
with my own spirituality than ever before.

In this past year, I've learned to listen to my heart.

In this past year, I've heard it loud and clear.

In this past year, I've learned to have the courage
to follow my heart.

And this song has had incredible meaning for me this past year:

Thank you, 2009.
Welcome, 2010.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Random Holiday Thoughts

I love the week between Christmas and New Year's. It is totally kick back. It feels like all we do (well, mostly) is play games and eat and relax. Love it.

Our kids got us Webkinz. Coolest gifts ever.

I love New Year's. I love that I don't do New Year's Resolutions anymore. I much prefer the "word of the year." 2009's has been "(Live) authentically." Not sure about 2010's yet. "(Live) ________" (TBD).

We love spending the holidays as a family. We are so content together.

I love holiday cookie trays and our awesome friends who share them with us.

I appreciate thoughtful gifts.

I cannot believe how much I'm enjoying having a puppy.

We went to a Dickens' Christmas and it was fantastic! All the actors were in character all evening and we were hosted by Queen Victoria, Prince Albert, and the Dickens (as well as their butler). It was hilarious and such fun! My Mom especially loved it. This may well become a yearly tradition.

I love good food. I understand that this is not holiday-specific, but such is my enjoyment of good food.

While I enjoy the kick backness of this week, I also love getting back to normal schedules afterward, too.

I love the magic of Christmas. I absolutely love our kids' total belief in Santa Claus. I still hold a grudge against my 2nd grade classmate Marie Russell for ruining the magic of Christmas for me. I'm so excited that our kids have brought it back.

I love the phrase "Merry Christmas." I love saying it. I love hearing it. It's part of that magic.

I love, love, love my family. I know that's not holiday specific either, but it merits being expressed. My husband and children are my favorite people and I love them so much.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Bet you smile at this . . .

I can't help but laugh and laugh when I watch this kid. He's so funny!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

OK, TODAY is the Day

Today marks 13 years since we were married on an extremely cold winter day--"Arctic Blast" was the term local weather reports used. That, along with the fact that we really started dating as the temperature dropped, always makes me feel nostalgic once the snow starts falling.

OK, so this isn't a winter picture. I like it anyway.

Another nice picture Thing 1 took.

A lot has changed in 13 years.

Happy Anniversary, Little Miss. I love you!

Monday, December 14, 2009

The Decade From Hell

I recently came across this article from Time Magazine. It is entitled, "The '00s: Goodbye (at Last) to the Decade from Hell." Favorable and forward thinking, right?

I thought the headline was a little harsh. Then I started the article and, well, it really has been a decade full of horrible news headlines.

This past decade, whose label I never quite know how to pronounce -- is it the oh-ohs? The zero-zeroes? The Ohs? I'm glad to be done with it just so we can move on to, what, the twenty-teens? That's right. I just coined that term. When it becomes the official name, remember that you heard it here first.

So, these oh-ohs have, according to the article, thoroughly sucked.

The article even goes so far to say, "The first 10 years of this century will very likely go down as the most dispiriting and disillusioning decade Americans have lived through in the post–World War II era."

Here are just some of the events it listed:

The 2000 Election debacle (hanging chads, anyone?)
No evidence of WMDs
Housing bubble
"Our recent near-death economic experience"
2 stock market crashes
Sarah Palin (okay, I added that one)
Anthrax letters
DC snipers
Enron scandal
Worldcom scandal
Hurricane Katrina
More mass shootings than any other decade
More school shootings than any other decade
More terrorist bombings
Doping scandals in sports
Sex scandals
Political scandals

And this article was written before we even heard about the humongous fall of Golf Great Tiger Woods.

Depressing, eh?

There have, of course, been good things, too. The article went on to say, "Sure, some amazingly great things happened this decade, from the stunning rise of China to Apple's dazzling array of new products to the feats of sprinter Usain Bolt to our nation rallying (at least temporarily) around its first African-American President. But all that seems more like counterpoint rather than the main act."

Anyway, all of this got me thinking about this past decade in terms of what it has meant on a less global and more personal level.

This past decade, the oh-ohs, has been the decade in which we've grown our family. Our beautiful daughter was born in 2000. It is a fun, big deal to have a baby born in 2000. We got a free pair of baby shoes from Payless and Thing 1 can also forever attend Harlem Globetrotter games for free. Not bad! Our beautiful son followed 2 years and 9 months later in 2003. Thing 2 didn't get free shoes or free Globetrotter passes, but we still think he's a fun, big deal just the same.

This past decade has also been the decade that saw us move from our first home (okay, so technically, the doublewide trailer was a car purchase sans settlement and complete with titles--one for each half) to our townhouse to our farmhouse. We feel very grateful be settled in a nice, small town in a beautiful home in which to raise our family.

The oh-ohs have seen me finish graduate school and Mark graduate from medical school. It has seen us move from west to east, from Phoenix, Arizona to beautiful small town, PA. It has seen us struggle with my debilitating depression while finishing med school and starting up residency. It has seen us deal with the highs and lows of attending residency. It has seen us wrestle with how to incorporate our education and training in a way that suits our family, our strong desire for lots of family time, and our belief in work-life balance. It has seen us walk away from traditional paths and take a giant leap of faith to start our own business, a clinic right in our own home where, together, we both get to do things we enjoy professionally and where we both get to work and help provide for our family and serve people in this area. It is ours, all ours.

The oh-ohs have seen us learn about and decide to homeschool, finding that we couldn't choose an educational option that better suits our family than this. It has seen us constantly tweak our approach and play with it so that it continues to meet our needs and desires in a fun, challenging, and wonderful way. It has seen us start a homeschool group that continues to grow and thrive and in which we've found some of our closest friends in the area.

The oh-ohs have been challenging and fun and wonderful and difficult and happy and sad. This past decade saw us deal with my Dad's battle with Parkinson's Disease, his declining health, and his death, something that has been really hard and also a major turning point in our lives. This past decade has seen us make very big and deep personal and family decisions, always striving to follow our hearts and be true to ourselves and live authentically.

This past decade saw us do some traveling. From Arizona, we traveled to California for a surprise Father's Day trip for my FIL, where we also got to visit San Francisco. We made trips to MA, mostly to visit my Dad in the hospital when he had his heart attack and back surgery, but also squeezing in some side trips to Boston and other neat places in New England. We arranged several trips to Utah so we could do medical school rotations and visit extended family members on both sides. We traveled to PA twice in order to check out residency programs and various towns and areas. We moved cross country and visited many states as we did so.

Since settling here, we have managed to visit many areas nearby, including Hershey, various places in New England, DC, New York City, Boston, Philadelphia, Baltimore, the beach in Jersey, the beach in Delaware, and more. And we've also made some pretty big trips down to Florida for a wonderful vacation to Disney World and to visit extended family again. One of our biggest trips was a cross-country road trip to attend Mark's grandmother's family reunion. Though it was our 10th visit in 17 years to see Foleys, it was our first venture west since moving here and the first visit in the past 10 years where all Foleys have been together in one place. It was emotional for me -- less than two years after the last time my side of the family (me, my mom, my dad, my brother) would all be able to be together, it was a time of celebration for Mark's side of the family to be together. I felt grateful, but admittedly a little jealous and wanting, too. Road tripping on Father's Day, being together, remembering Mark's grandfather . . . it reminded me how raw my feelings still were and how much I missed my Dad.

So, this past decade has been full of ups and downs for us. It's been an emotional decade and it's formed much of where we are today--physically, emotionally, spiritually, mentally, intellectually. It's had very stressful aspects--no major life decisions come without some amount of stress--and very difficult ones and it has also had very joyous events to celebrate as well, most notably, our growing family and our settling down in a place to raise our beautiful family. Who knew it would be a farmhouse with a great yard, garden, and barn out back, a clinic that is our own out front, and a happy family of 4 and a dog inside? We are grateful and we are happy.

I guess I wouldn't call it the decade from hell. And I'm not one to hurry time along and always look ahead. I like to try to live in the moment. So, I'm enjoying what's left of the oh-ohs. And reflecting on what it has been for us.

How has your "oh-oh" decade been?

Sunday, December 13, 2009

For the woman who has everything . . .

Thank you to one of my very favorite blogger friends, bythelbs, for alerting me to these PSAs.

And to her commenters for letting me know of the far less creepy Jack Black one.

Seriously? Is it me or would that have been better coming from a woman?

And! In the name of equal opportunity public service announcements, there is one for men, too!

Anyone else think she says "prostate" a little too happily at the end there? Ewwww.

But don't despair! While those are creepy (and really horrible ideas for Christmas--if you really care, schedule it, but don't be so stupid as to put that in someone's stocking. Can you imagine unwrapping that? Can you imagine trying to say, "Er, thanks and Merry Christmas to you, too?" without being violent?) . . . as I was saying, while those are creepy, Jack Black's is far more comfortable to watch. Because who doesn't love watching Jack Black press his man-boobs into a mammogram machine? I bet Greg gets a little turned on watching this.

Because nothing says "Happy Holidays" like pap smears, prostate exams, and mammograms.

To you and yours, happy invasive exams.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

17 Years Ago Today . . .

. . . it all started with a kiss.

And they lived happily ever after.

The Beginning.

I love you, Littlemiss.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

I've responded.

I like to try to respond to my blog comments. I've just gone through the past many posts and responded (if you comment and subscribe, you already know that, but in case you didn't, now you know). Thanks!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Blog Posts

Our blog started mainly as a way to keep in touch with grandparents and aunts and uncles who live far away. We thought it would be an easy way to share pictures and keep in touch. I've liked getting to know my SILs this way, since we tend to be the bloggiest in the family.

It's evolved into, well, a whole mix of stuff, I guess--family posts, vents, political stuff, food posts, memes, American Idol recaps, and just general what-we're-doing posts. There's really not much of a theme or method to our blog madness.

As we get back into regular blogging, I have well over over 100 pictures to go through and I know there are some we'd like to share--Halloween costumes, puppy pictures, NaNoWriMo stuff, etc. But I still feel "blunky" at times and toy with the idea of quitting/going private.

So, my question is, why do you read our blog? Are there certain posts you like/don't like? Do you wish I did stuff like "Wordless Wednesdays," (I don't like those--I'm too wordy to be wordless)? Do you care? Is it to just generally keep abreast of our lives? Do you wish we switched up our blog decor (though I'll say now I'm rather partial to the simple sushi picture)? Are you just waiting for us to get back to Idol season? I've barely blogged recently and when I have, it's mostly been about our crazy novel writing project (snore?). I wonder, what keeps you coming back?

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

What I've learned from doing NaNoWriMo

1. That it takes an enormous amount of time and discipline to do it and that's not always good for my mood.

2. That writing my story was much more emotionally challenging than I expected. I thought I had enough distance from some tough stuff that I wrote about, but writing about it was really affecting me at times.

3. That getting your story overwritten is really stressful and can make you cry so hard that you have a headache for the next two days.

4. That data recovery is not easy and can take 14 hours to compile and even then you don't get all of it and then you're even further behind.

5. That coming back from that data recovery setback is GRUELING.

6. That if it hadn't been for the data recovery issue, we were not only on, but ahead of, pace.

7. That getting a puppy while doing NaNoWriMo is really testing the limits of your ability to pull it off.

8. That it makes sense that so many writers have dogs. They are wonderfully, cuddly writing buddies. They make you be disciplined and snuggly.

9. That doing NaNoWriMo with friends is wicked fun and keeps you going and excited.

10. That several other story ideas can pop in my head as I work on the one story at hand.

11. That so much of what I wrote was total crap.

12. That some of what I wrote was really good!

13. That I think I'm a pretty good writer, but not so great in the imagination department.

14. That my husband rules at going after what he wants in life even while working his tail end off at multiple jobs and things around the house, too.

15. That our kids LOVE NaNoWriMo and are totally doing it again.

16. That it's a good feeling to print up our winner's certificate and collect our winner goodies (certificate, blog picture in post below this one, etc.).

17. That I appreciate all the support and encouragement from friends.

18. That Cristin's family sent her the coolest package full of supportive items to help her do it--now, that is super thoughtful and super cool.

19. That I so appreciate friends who I know laid low and refrained from contacting us or inviting us to do stuff for the whole month--we've missed them but love that they supported us like that. Bring on December!

20. That I can get REALLY behind on emails and general life stuff when doing this 30-days-of-literary-abandon thing.

21. That I don't miss Facebook one bit.

22. That we're grateful for friends who invite us over for Thanksgiving so we won't be lonesome. We were going to be by ourselves and, in a way, were cool with that, given that November is NaNoWriMo month, but it was nice to not have to cook at all and to share it with friends and their family. It was really good of them to include us.

23. That I would totally do this again.

Mark and Cristin, I'd love to hear any more you've come up with, too!!

Monday, November 30, 2009


Some people run marathons.
(The 5K).

We write novels.
(The 50K).

*Thing 1 and Thing 2 have also won the Young Writer's Program for NaNoWriMo.
Congratulate them here.

Thanks to everyone for the comments, support, and encouragement!

Saturday, November 28, 2009

I can see the Finish Line

Less than 2,000 words to go. I'm at 48,095. Just seeing the ribbon ahead of me is giving me the energy to forge ahead. And forge I must. I think a lot of it is not half bad, some of it is really good, and about half of it is crap.

I had no idea what an emotional process this would be. I'm excited to be done. And I'm excited to get away from it a bit and get on with the holidays.

Okay, back to writing I go . . .

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

First across the finish line . . .

This is a shout out to our writing buddy Cristin for being the first in our WriMo group to pass the 50K mark!! And we were there to witness it at our group writing session today.

Mark and I are plugging along and will pass 50K soon (but not today). The kids are well on their way. I bet they pass their goals by Friday. Onward and upward!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Reading Books

What keeps you reading a good book?

I'm at 33,000 words and I hope my story is still compelling and interesting, but I worry, at times, that it's become trite or technical.

When you're reading a book that interests you, what keeps you reading when you're more than halfway into the book?

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Part of why my word count is low

We do parent-child dates every so often. We try to do them monthly, but we're not always that on top of things.

Usually the kids are pretty cheap dates. They are content with a bike ride or visiting the pet store or getting an ice cream cone or maybe bowling using our free bowling coupons.

This past Thursday, Thing 1 and I went on a date. She chose to have us visit one of her favorite date places--the pet store that not only allows, but encourages, us to play with the puppies.

I like visiting the pet store for many reasons, chief among them is that the kids can play with puppies and get it out of their systems since I am not a dog person.

I mean, we've toyed with the idea of getting one. The kids would love it. We might even enjoy it, I don't know. And I remember Jimmy saying kids should have a dog growing up and that tugged at me a little bit. But neither Mark nor I has grown up with dogs and so we haven't been super keen on the idea.

I like smaller dogs better than bigger dogs, but still. A dog person, I am not.

Here are some of the reasons I don't consider myself a dog person:

1. You always have to pick up poop. Children eventually learn to potty train and wipe themselves. Dogs? Nope.

2. They smell. Dog smell.

3. It's a lot of work.

4. It's a lot of expense.

5. What do you do when you travel?

6. Having to go outside when it's cold and/or rainy.

7. Some dogs bite.

8. Some dogs scare me.

9. Allergies.

10. Barking.

So, every time we go to the pet store, I try to see if I might like the idea. Usually, I do not. I generally walk out saying to myself, "Yeah, they're cute, but nope, not for me."

Our date was no exception. We played with a little, black Yorkie Poo and it was cute. But man was it hyper and nippy. We watched him run around the play room, try to eat our clothes, and try to eat my backpack. After that, I was ready to go home.

"Do we have time for one more?" Thing 1 asked.

I looked at my watch. We didn't really. "One more," I said.

So, we played with one more. A Shi-Chon. Half Shitzu and Half Bichon. Translated: Hair, not fur. Hypo-allergenic. Non-shedding.

Of course that was nice, but not enough to convince me to do anything as crazy as consider getting one. Refer to my list of 10 reasons. I don't need much convincing. I'm pretty set.

So, we got this cute, little puppy and played with it for a while. She was very sweet. A few different workers walked by, independently of each other, looked in, saw the puppy, saw us snuggling her, and said, "Oh, that one. She's so sweet."

And I sat there and watched as Thing 1 fell in love with the puppy. So, I quickly got us up and out of that playroom and we high tailed it out of the store. The puppy whimpered as we left. UGH.

We got home and told Mark and Thing 2 about the puppy. Specifically, I told Mark how this puppy seemed to really have a personality and, I don't know, something about her that seems to fit in our family. I told him he had to see it for himself.

I couldn't shake it. I kept thinking about the puppy. I hoped Mark would see it and tell me I was seeing things and that it was cute and all, but it was really just another dog.

So, we all went as a family to play with her again. Thing 1 was excited to visit with her again. I was kind of excited to play with her since it was a fun playing time that didn't involve actually getting a dog. Like in our house.

Thing 2 was cautious. He's had a bad experience with a dog in the past, so part of going to the pet store is to slowly help him overcome his fears. We've gone in there several times and while he has slowly warmed up over time, he always starts out very cautious and not always interested in having the dogs touch him in any way.

Our visit with this little dog was met with lots of smiles and snuggles. This puppy is VERY snuggly and sweet. Her personality seems to fit with our family somehow. And even Thing 2 was comfortable getting on the floor and playing with the pup. I watched Mark's face to see what he thought. I secretly hoped he would tell me, "Yeah, cute dog, but I'm not seeing the connection you're talking about."

I looked at him and asked, "Are you seeing it?" (Thinking to myself, "Please say no, please say no . . . ").

He smiles and says, "Yes."


So we go home and we're all talking about the cute little puppy that has weaseled its way into our hearts and how she seems to fit, but UGH, a dog??

Thing 2 dreamily eats his dinner saying, "People could talk to me about Mario or Sonic, but all I can think about is . . . " and then with a VERY dreamy look and smile, "Kara, Kara." (That's what the store named her).

Thing 1 reiterated that she would forgo ALL Christmas presents, including presents from Santa, if we could just get a dog.

She also tried to use ecological save-the-earth arguments. "If we get the dog, it's good for the environment."

"How exactly?"

"Well, because then she'd be here with us and we wouldn't have to drive to the store to visit her which would cut back on pollution from the car into the environment!"

So, we get the kids to bed and continue to talk about it. We tried to talk ourselves out of it, but we weren't doing a very good job. We kept thinking about the dog. And we felt like she should be here with us.

Later that night, Thing 1 came running down the stairs in tears.

"What's wrong?!"

Through sobs, "I'm worried that someone else will buy her and she won't be there!!"

She knew we hadn't decided (they'd asked; we'd told them), but she was really upset. This wasn't helping. She looked a bit like we felt. We reassured her and helped her feel a bit better and sent her back up to bed.

Then we started to panic. What if someone else tried to buy her? We were pretty sure we wanted to get the dog. We had no idea how we'd do it, clueless as we are, and it didn't make any sense other than this puppy seemed to be choosing our family.

Every point on that list still applies, so it really was more an issue of the dog choosing us than of us suddenly loving dogs.

Long story short.

Meet Scout.

So, as if data recovery and some personal issues weren't enough, we got a puppy. The things parents do for their children.

I like her. She's a real cutie. And a lot of fun. We are all enjoying her very much. I have to say that the kids are LOVING having a dog and especially enjoy walking her and playing with her. But man oh man, I think Mark is smitten. Scout likes to cuddle on our laps for hours. She's a really snuggly dog and isn't yappy. She is about three pounds (if that) and won't get bigger than 10-12 pounds. She's a perfect size for us. We like dogs this size. (Bromleys, we blame Shylock for the beginnings of any interest on our part at all in dogs. And Jessica, Corky plays a part in the blame, too).

I will say, though, that I don't understand people who put their dogs ahead of their children. That is so totally not me. The dog is cute, but our kids/our family absolutely comes first.

And we looked at the Humane Society because we do understand the argument about saving strays. Thing is, we weren't looking for a dog, the shelter had mostly pit bulls (uh, not a chance), and like I said before, the issue here is that this dog chose us.

Another interesting aspect that we've discovered after the fact . . . dogs are really good for you. They make people more confident, happy, and social. It's been fantastic for Thing 2 and his fears about dogs. Thing 1 is our dog whisperer. They also help lower stress and blood pressure, and even cholesterol. Studies have shown that they are more effective than ACE Inhibitors! That's amazing. There was one really interesting study done on stock brokers in New York. Those with dogs had significantly lower blood pressure. The study was so conclusive and persuasive, that all the other stock brokers who didn't have dogs went out and got one.

So far, my blood pressure seems to be rising. This house breaking thing is for the birds. Or the dogs. Whatever.

We have 2 kids and we all sleep through the night and we've invited this furry creature into our home who cries and whimpers in the night from her crate. We understand this passes.

We are attempting litter box training since it can be done and can save us from having to go out in the aforementioned cold and rain.

I can't believe we have a dog. I'm still a bit shocked and stressed out about it. Until I remember the blood pressure thing. And then I remember I'm not supposed to be stressed out.

I said our kids are generally cheap dates. Visiting the pet shop? Most Expensive Date Ever.

And this is also just part of why my word count is only now approaching 20,000.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Goal: 10,000 Words This Weekend

Due to the data recovery craziness, I am sooooo behind (I used to be ahead).

I would love to get caught up by writing 10,000 words this weekend.

I'm going to try.

I can think of about a million distractions.

Hence this blog post.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Data Recovery Update

Thanks, all, for the very sweet comments, emails, phone calls, sympathy, mentally-sent milkshakes, listening ears, help, etc. They mean a lot to me.

Monday was a REALLY rough day. I seriously cried a lot. My head hurt for a day and a half from all the crying (and freaking out).

So, 10,000 words were gone/messed up in that overwrite. After 14 hours of data recovery attempts, we eventually got most of it (thankfully) but were still missing about 2,000 words that also happened to be my favorite part where the story really felt like it was taking on the tone I'd envisioned. It was so good that I laughed out loud as I wrote it. And, though I'd shared nothing before that, I read it to Mark on Sunday night because I was so proud.

I was so upset when it went missing. And I was very much on the verge of giving up. After all that recovery, I was still missing words and was much farther behind on my word count, too. Days that were going to be spent writing were spent trying to find words and crying (and freaking out). I really didn't want to give up. And I got such sweet notes from the kids and from Mark encouraging me to keep going. I couldn't let them down nor could I let myself down. I really, REALLY want to do this!

So, Tuesday, I spent most of the day trying to recreate that part (I hate recreating--it never seems as good as something that just came so naturally). My word count actually went down and stagnated for a bit while I worked on fixing the mess. I kept telling myself "it's just a story," but somewhere over the weekend, it took on a life of its own, so I was also trying really hard to not give up. Plus my husband and kids are really rooting for me and that encourages me. They're so good to me.

So the recreated part is a bit different and I'm trying to move forward and not obsess over that or the 250 or so words that I'm still short. I can't figure out what those are. What am I missing?!? I tend to obsess and I'm trying really, really hard not to do that. I'm just now passing the word count I had Sunday night. I am really behind (and so is Mark) but am focusing on the fact that we recovered most of it and recreated the rest and we haven't given up and we are writing more. I want to feel that book excitement again and I feel like I got a glimpse yesterday evening at the coffeehouse with Cristin. I'm going with it.

I better get published.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Words for today include . . .


Freaking out.

Data Recovery.

Freaking out.

22 single-spaced pages missing.




Temporary Files.

Freaking out.

Garbled text.

Good chapters missing.


Original 8 pages overriding most recent 30 pages of work.

Freaking out.

Was very sad about my friends not coming this weekend.

But worked hard on book instead.

Have felt very happy with this weekend's work.

Weekend's work gone.


Entire past week's work gone.

Freaking out.

10,000 Words gone.

Data Recovery is expensive.

Finances are stressful.


Feeling like crap.

What if the Universe is telling me I suck at this.

Feeling lonesome.

Needing friends.

I can't recreate it.

If it's gone, tempted to quit.

Don't want to quit.

So sad.

Freaking out.

Where is my story?!




Sunday, November 8, 2009

Random NaNoWriMo Thoughts

Week 2 starts today. 13,900 words and counting. To be done by the 30th, I should have 13,336 done by tonight. To be done by Thanksgiving, I should have 16,000 by tonight. We'll see. Amazing Race is on tonight. Aussie Phil is calling my name.

The first part of the book was emotionally harder than I expected. There's a reason I've had this idea for years and hadn't put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard).

I seem to get stuck every time I have to name a character. I thought that would be the easy part, but it's not! I seem to really want my names to have meaning. Some are even shout outs to some friends and not-so-much-friends.

Except the "villain." For some reason, her name just came to me. And it's not based on anyone in particular. But the name fit her.

The Universe keeps sending material my way. I got a great lead from a random story told to me in one of my sessions this week. The couple I was counseling had no idea how perfect it was. It's so going in the book. I laugh every time I think about it.

I was bummed because this weekend was supposed to be a fun weekend with old girlfriends of mine from out of state, but we had to postpone. I'm glad we're rescheduling.

We've had lunch-and-afternoon writing sessions, coffee shop sessions, and night owl writing parties. It's all going very well. And we're poised to do it again this week and every week for the whole month. It's so much fun!

I've been having a lot of fun with the most recent chapters. I feel like the book is taking on the tone for which I'd hoped before I started. That happened around chapter 9.

Chapters 1-8 might need some attention in the rewrite/edit part.

I would totally do this again. I think my next book will be a Gothic Novel for sure, though, just because those are my favorite and that sounds like fun. Doing this is giving me the confidence to do more.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Your NaNoWriMo Questions Answered

Thanks for the questions. I think if I were on the outside looking in, I would want to know what it was like for that person. Plus, like I said, these questions (and posting) are good for me.

April asks, " Is everyone writing their own book or are you doing it together?"

Everyone is writing his or her own 50,000-word book. In one month's time.

April also asks, "What is the subject of your book?"

I have had some ideas for years and they are starting to take shape. I'm beginning to like where it's going. So, the truth is, I don't know how to answer the question entirely but there are some things I can say. As of right now:

- The main character is a woman.

- There are heavy, serious parts and lighthearted, funny parts.

- It is written in the first person and I'm enjoying getting in her head like that.

Jessica asks, "What FUN stuff is going to begin? Getting into the plot? Introducing new characters?"

I feel like I've hit my stride. I feel like I'm getting into the plot more. I feel like I'm getting past the set up and I'm excited about that. It's about to get funnier, lighter, and start to move a bit more. And yes, new characters are about to appear and some of them are going to be terrible people the reader won't like (and rightly so) and some will be funny and some will be hilariously annoying. See? This is where it gets fun.

April then asks (thanks for the questions, guys!), "Fiction or Non-Fiction?"

Fiction. I enjoy writing fiction most, though I do have some non-fiction ideas, too.

And "What inspires you to write?"

Is it boring to say that I simply enjoy it? I think it's fun and terribly romantic, too. It's totally my kind of hobby (read: nerdy). I love to read and when I do, I find myself wondering if I can write and I think I can! I love blogging. And I very much enjoy satirizing American Idol and funny experiences. And, on a personal level, when I've dealt with depression, my Dad's death, and changes in my own spirituality, I've learned and healed so much through writing. I simply love to write. Even emails! I also feel I express myself better in writing than in speaking.

Word count so far: 7721

I am fairly happy with what I've written so far, but I don't like what I just wrote this afternoon. I nodded off at one point while typing, so that can't be a good sign. If I were an editor, I'd cut that part out. But for now, we are to quiet our inner editors while we write. She keeps talking to me. I keep telling her to shush.

I'm taking a break and I'll get back to it tonight.

4103 words and counting

I am sitting in a coffeehouse writing this post. Isn't that so freaking cliche? Oh oh. And Barbara Streisand is playing softly overhead. Now it's really cliche.

I feel like I'm starting to hit my stride. I feel like I've written a lot of set up. I'm well into my character's head and I like it. But now. Now, let the fun begin.

I feel like the book is a bit heavy so far, but that's about to change and I'm excited about that.

Mark is sitting next to me, typing out his book. Cristin is across from Mark, handwriting hers. Our kids are sitting at a nearby table drinking tall milkshakes and playing big piles of board games and doing writing exercises, including writing secret codes. They keep me grounded. I love them. Have I mentioned that? I love them.

I am finding that blogging actually helps me in my writing, so I think I'll be checking in more than I thought I would be.

Plus I appreciate the comments and questions and I think it's good accountability for me.

So, bring them on. What are your questions? I'll answer what I can in the next post.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Day 2, which feels a lot like Day 1

I changed my mind. I feel like checking in to report progress. I'll try to respond to comments/questions, but no promises.

We kicked off our month of 30 days and nights of literary abandon (or NaNoWriMo) with our friends here who are also doing it. We had a big breakfast and toasted in the month with some sparkling fruit juice in fancy glasses.

It was a full day since we also enjoyed a children's museum all afternoon with some other friends and attended a Tibetan Feast as a family at the college in the evening. That was absolutely fascinating--the chanting prayers and opening ceremony were so soothing and hauntingly beautiful, the food was fantastic, and the stories of the monks' escape from Tibet were riveting. Hearing about the situation in Tibet pained me. Horrible crimes against humanity. Just awful.

We left with full tummies (my gosh, the food was delicious), expanded minds and hearts, and we also picked up a lovely wall hanging with a great quote by the Dalai Lama as well as a colorful flag banner of a chant for compassion. These may well serve as my writing totems for the month.

I knew it would be a full day so I didn't write until just before bed and I was pretty exhausted. I didn't even report my word count, which was just under 200 words. The daily goal to pull it off is 1,667 so you can imagine how today started. I decided to get a good night's rest before really diving in since Mark and I, in typical daylight savings fashion, used our extra hour to just stay up even later than usual. We're so disciplined.

Mark got a decent word count in yesterday before bed. I'm impressed.

I have pictures of all these things, but I haven't uploaded them yet and I'm not about to do it right now since I've got more writing to do!

So today started very hopeful and feels like my first official day (I actually really like Mondays). I got an email from my NaNo buddy across the pond (we "met" through a mutual friend on Facebook and exchanged contact info before I closed down my FB account for the month--which, by the way, is blissful). She's in London and so she gets her word counts in before I do. I use it as encouragement to spur me on.

I also checked in with our local friend and it sounds like we're feeling similarly about this adventure . . . a bit uncomfortable at this whole flying-by-the-seat-of-our-pants method. But we're pressing on!

I've written about 1,592 words so far and I'm about to get back to it since Mark and the kids are out at violin lessons and this affords me some quiet time to work on my book.

I think I should type my book in a blog window like this one since the words seem to come easier here than on my Word document. Or maybe it's my story line. Or lack thereof. Not sure.

Anyway, back to writing I go . . .

Saturday, October 31, 2009

November Hiatus

I may or may not blog during the month of November. I also am hoping to not have many phone calls or emails during November--we're trying to scale back where we can so we can pull this off.

Our entire family, along with several friends, is participating in NaNoWriMo. Basically, you write a novel in one month.

So, see you in December. I think this is just what I need. I've blogged a bunch this past month but still haven't been "feeling it," so I think I'm still in a bit of a blog funk.

Plus, this little hiatus will make you all appreciate our blogging more. :P

I may check in now and then a little bit.

If you're bored, join us and write a book:

Happy November, everyone!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Fall Fun

Fall means back-to-school routine. We sort of school year round, but we always tweak our schedule and approach every Fall and dive into the fun stuff we come up with. This is true of our family and our homeschool group.

So, this past Monday was a particularly full one. This is uncharacteristic for us, since we're adamantly opposed to "over programming." It stresses me out.

Thing is, thankfully with homeschooling, we are able to do so much with our days that our evenings can be spent at home as a family.

And around here, there are so many classes you can take during the day (instruments, Tae Kwan Do, YMCA, ice skating, etc.) as well as so many classes and clubs through our homeschool group (art class, writers' group, knitting group, Legos group, newspaper club, etc.), that we can do so many neat things without feeling like we're always on the go and not having a moment to breathe. It's nice.

So, our main homeschool group day is Friday--that's the day we do whatever class or field trip we're doing for that week, then we have lunch, and then we all go to the YMCA for swimming and sports in the gym.

On some Mondays (mostly 1st and 3rd), we have additional fun stuff we do. This past Monday was a full one.

We did some school stuff in the morning.
10-11am Art Class taught by Miss Jenny (she's great!)
11-noon Writers' Group (we made mini-books; so fun!)
Noon Rendezvous lunch with Mark
1-3pm Knitting Group and Lego Club
5:00 Dinner as a family
5:30-6:30 Group Violin (Suzuki)
7pm Individual Violin Lesson

Also, I attended a wonderful meditation class from 7-8.

Full Fall day. But oh so fun! I got pictures of a lot of it, but they're a bit fuzzy.

And what's fall without good fall food?

I mentioned this on Facebook, but it bears repeating:

One cool, rainy Saturday, we made these:

Pumpkin Cream Cheese Streusel Muffins
They were DELICIOUS!
And kind of healthy, too (use applesauce instead of oil).
Recipe here

We also made homemade gnocchi with creamy saffron shrimp and caramelized onions and Italian sausage from our home-grown pig! Yum.

We also got our barn painted (it looks fabulous, by the way). As promised, here is a picture of the man who has been working on it:

We've made some fall crafts:

Those are painted acorns--then we make jack-o-lantern faces on them

The kids decided to donate some of their money to help endangered animals, so they each sent in donations to the World Wildlife Federation and they got these T-shirts as a thank you!

The kids also got a fun surprise in the mail from Vavó:

Posing for a picture

Thing 2's idea to take a picture with a look of "WOW!"
from seeing what's inside the card

Thing 1 also got to attend something really neat . . . An American Girl Night!!

10 Girls and their dolls (one girl not pictured)
enjoyed a fun evening of American Doll fun!

Thing 1 with her Samantha Doll
Each girl brought something representative of her doll's era
SUCH cute gingerbread cookies!

Thing 2 had a great time hanging out with the boys
and playing Bakugan and Yu-Gi-Oh!

No pictures of us, but I had fun hanging out with the Moms and Mark had fun watching a Phillies game while hanging out with the Dad of the hosting family. Fun night for all!

And here is picturesque fall--we were sitting down to dinner and looked out our back patio door and saw this and had to take a picture:

We love where we live!

And what's Fall without a visit to a pumpkin patch? Our homeschool group did a field trip to a local farm this past week and it was really fun!

Buddies -- on a hayride

Friends -- on a hayride

A couple that is looking a lot alike (we always have to some extent; back in our dating years, people would look at pictures of us and ask if we're brother and sister. Um, yeah, no)
-- also on a hayride

Listening to the farmer talk about all the different kinds
of pumpkins and gourds

We picked these from the pumpkin patch!

Thing 1 and her good friend navigate the corn maze

Good buddies navigate the corn maze

We found one of the stations!

Sampling the cider

Boys with their pumpkins

Yay! Toothless Grins!

After the field trip, our crew (and many others) met at the YMCA for swimming and street hockey (my hockey pics are a bit blurry, but here are some pool pics):


Sibling strength and love :)

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Just got a text from Mark

Thing 2 is at the dentist. He's getting his molars sealed. He says to the hygienist:

"My mom told me about it, but I want to know if it tastes bad, if it hurts--you know, important stuff."

Apparently, I am neglectful. So glad he can hold his own and ask the important stuff.

Life can also be . . .


It had been a while since we'd been to a wedding and we LOVED attending this one. The kids very much enjoyed their first wedding. It was outdoors, lovely, and yes, I cried. It was emotional and really, really beautiful. And the reception was so much fun. We danced for hours and stayed until the DJ was done. It was fantastic! I can't tell you how healing it was to let loose a little bit and have some fun like this. It carried me for weeks!

The happy couple

The bride's brothers played beautifully for the wedding

The bride's littlest sisters were flower girls

My mom took this picture, hence the finger.

My mom and the teen boys!

Thing 2 got his moves on with hands in his pockets--so cute!

The bridal party does the Thriller Dance

Thing 1 and Thing 2 can really cut a rug!

Vavó and Thing 1 have some fun on the dance floor

Thing 2 dances with a bridesmaid (yet another of the bride's many sisters)


Vavó got the kids some fun new DVDs. Why? Just because. She's just a cool grandma that way and we're grateful. So, she got Thing 1 the new "Three Musketeers" Barbie movie (I used to scoff, too, but the Barbie movies are really, REALLY well done and not what you'd expect at all--very Victorian/classic in their style and approach with humor, great music, and strong female protagonists--we love them!) and Thing 2 got the new Bionicle movie. After watching The Three Musketeers, the kids immediately made swords out of cardboard, donned capes, and began their own swashbuckling adventures!

Our very own Musketeers!

And another of Thing 2's recent creative ideas--he made us all "airplane kits" and instructed us on how to make and decorate our planes and also made up a game so we could compete in flying them. So clever. Oh yeah, and our family is playing A LOT of "10 Days" games (see them in the picture?). We've got Africa, Asia, and Europe and our kids are getting the geography down just through the fun of the game (and watching Amazing Race). :)

Airplane Kits


We got to meet and listen to Abe Lincoln and boy, was he funny! It was great to hear his stories and his life lessons. We're so lucky that he came to our county to visit with us!

Abe Lincoln


Terrie and I went out to celebrate her birthday and she tried sushi for the first time--it was so fun!

Good Friends


We got to visit a bee keeper and tour the chocolate factory and also visit a school, all in one day. Here is our group at the bee keeper's . . . cautiously checking out the hives and then trying all kinds of goodies with homegrown honey!

Visiting the hives


My sister-in-law Lindsay has reminded me of someone since the day I met her. I haven't been able to put my finger on it. Yesterday, while watching Scrubs, I totally figured it out big time. Any guesses from those who know her mannerisms and expressions? Lindsay, what do you think?


A woman in our homeschool group approached the YMCA about tapping into a local demographic that would benefit both them and us--homeschoolers. Their gym isn't used much during the day and we'd love a place to meet and play. Win win. So we meet there every Friday afternoon (after our morning field trips/classes/play time and lunch).

First we hang out in the meeting room for ping pong, fooz ball, billiards, and more. Then the kids get an hour of free swim time followed by an hour of gym time--so far we've done soccer, kickball, and basketball. Gymnastics and Street Hockey and more are coming up (um, okay, I wrote this a while ago--we've done all those things now except for gymnastics -- that's this week).

It's fun to play at the Y-M-C-A!
(It's in your head now, isn't it. You're welcome.)


My best girl friend growing up is coming to visit with another girlfriend of ours--the 3 of us used to have so much fun together as teenagers. They are coming for a 4-day girls' weekend in November and we are so excited! We are going to laugh until it hurts and we cry, because that's how we roll. Recently, we've reconnected even more and have found that we have some pretty major things in common. Ah, the mid 30s. :)


We're in our 3rd year of business! It's crazy to think of that. Wasn't it just yesterday that we quit the traditional career track for medicine and took a gigantic leap of faith, not knowing exactly what we'd do? And then we barely, barely made ends meet while we pursued all the classes and business steps and county requirements necessary to do what we're doing now? Wasn't that just yesterday? Well, apparently that was over 3 years ago.

So, we decided to celebrate with our clients. We sent out postcards to all of our clients, inviting them to a catered, roasted pig backyard barbecue. Everyone who came loved it. And those who couldn't come were sorry to not be able to attend but thought it was a great idea. We did it, because we like being "that kind of place." It also served to remind everyone of who we are without soliciting their business--just saying thank you. Awesome.

We received tons of compliments on our beautiful backyard,
which was really nice to hear after all the hard work of this past summer!


It's getting to be that time of year. We made 2 kinds of sugar cookies -- regular and chocolate and both are SO good. We also even made our own homemade glaze, too. Sometimes I amaze myself at the things I do. That may sound arrogant, but that's not at all how I mean it. I'm simply saying I'm proud of myself. I love my Mom dearly and she knows it, but never ever ever do I recall making cookies together (she hates to bake). So in some ways, this is out of my comfort zone. Therefore, when I do it, I feel pretty dang impressed with myself!

The glaze turned out amazing!


Our homeschool group volunteers with our local library and it's so thrilling to see what a group of people can do when working together. Click to enlarge:


We go on a lot of fun outings. Not sure I feel like uploading more pictures at the moment, but I'll tell you about two recent outings.

1. We attended the annual Hershey Symphony Children's Concert where they let the kids pet horses (it was a horse theme this year) and try out the instruments beforehand. Then they put on a fun, interactive concert totally geared toward kids. It was great. Several families from our homeschool group attended the concert so we all did a little swapping and somehow we came home with 6 kids for movie, popcorn, pizza, and playing outside. Then all 18 of us met at Baskin Robbins for dessert.

Never mind, I'll upload pictures.

Party at our house!

2. We also attended the local ice rink's annual open house for homeschoolers and that's always a lot of fun.

They both enjoy it, but each seems to be gravitating toward a different interest (which is neat)--Tae Kwon Do/Karate for Thing 2 and Skating for Thing 1.


These are our new walkways, courtesy of 1. my spotting the awesome, extremely easy and inexpensive idea in a newspaper article while doing an activity with the kids and 2. Mark's hard work in actually doing it!

This is now how you step up to our walkway to our door. It needed it BADLY.
This area used to pool into a giant wet and muddy puddle before we put this in.
What a difference!
We're eventually going to plant moss in the cracks.

And this is the entrance from the street gate. Love it!


I found this note the other day. Both of our kids like to write themselves lists and notes. I can't imagine where they get that. This is a note Thing 2 wrote to remind himself to do something. He is so cute. You can't help but smile when you find stuff like this:

"Call Jake to ask what the store is called."


One of my favorite aspects of the flexibility our schedule allows is that I can often see scenes like this in the middle of the day:

And that concludes this 2-part series of "Life Can Be." Hope you enjoyed it.