Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Ugh, I did it again!

It's been ten days since my last post... Things have been kind of nuts. We've still been struggling with finding a routine that works, and also, the Chief is going through a thing. I don't know what it is, but I do know that I can't wait until it passes! He's been making a lot of progress over the past couple months, but as it is with any growth, there is a sort of crisis point that one reaches where he has to decide between good and evil, and I think the Chief is there right now. He's been playing with kids who are about 6, and that has been working well for him (he is 9, but has some developmental issues). However, now he is starting to get it, that you shouldn't grab things from people, that you need to compromise, etc. Of course every now and then he slips, but on the whole, he's been doing great at using his words and communicating and letting things go. Except... many of the younger kids still grab. A couple of his playmates think nothing of just snatching whatever they want from whoever they want whenever they want. And this causes meltdown city. I mean, sure it's not right for the kids, ANY kids, to be grabbing, and so the Chief has a right to be a little upset, but he just does not handle it well at all. Yesterday I was extremely proud of him, though--when someone grabbed a magic wand from him and said, "I want that!" he just found another thing he could use as a wand. We've really been working hard at the fact that not everyone does the right thing, and it stinks, but that does not mean that you should do the wrong thing, too. I feel like on one hand, being with some kids his own age might benefit him because it might be less competitive in that way (heh, though I don't know...), but at the same time I think he still has some things to work through before he's ready. He plays great with his older cousin, because they "get" one another, and the nine year old down the street has been playing with him for a few years, so they understand each other as well. But in a group with 9-10 year olds, I think he might seem very young. At the same time, though, seeing the other older kids as role models might be beneficial, depending on who the kids are. A conundrum...

Yesterday was the first book club day for the Chief. They read Stone Soup by Marcia Brown, and he LOVED it. They acted out parts of it, and after they got to make stone soup (sans stones, because you never know what might be in the stones... Of course, the Chief, ever the pedant, had to get his stone that we boiled the night before when we weren't sure about them, and stick it in his bowl. Hopefully all he got were a few extra minerals!), which turned out to be very delicious. Each kid brought an ingredient or two and helped chop. It was nice to be able to talk to a few other moms, even for just a few minutes. Being trapped in the house all day with no company but a nine year old can be...isolating.

We've had a couple critter additions over the past couple weeks. The Chief is the proud parent of a worm farm and a salamander we found under a brick in the garden. We have a little amphibian house, so we will see how that works out. Next week we will be reading the book Salamander Room in celebration (I've been incorporating Five in a Row back into our day. The Chief likes it, and it is so versatile that I can add whatever I feel needs to be gone into more deeply. We've tried to move on to bigger and better things, but I don't think he is quite ready yet. He really likes delving into one book over the course of a week, and exploring everything to do with it).

I have an addition to my Etsy shop, the first in my line of all natural fiber baby clothes. Check it out!

It's a very cold, wet day here, but the sparrows are out like mad, tweeting. It sounds like Alfred Hitchcock's The Birds out there. Here is one little fellow finding some shelter in our un-finished back porch.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Crochet to the beat!

I love crocheting to the sound of my husband playing the drums downstairs. It makes everything feel so connected. It's nice when we can all be doing what we love to do. Even my son is enjoying himself down there with Dad.

I had an epiphany about the story that was rejected last week. There was very little of my voice in that story, the thing about my stories which makes them mine. It lacked the dreamy quality which I like in my stories, which also makes them less likely to succeed in the huge selling market, but I'm caring less about that these days. People enjoy reading those stories, but the magazines which buy them don't have a huge amount of $$ to pay. That's OK, though. I'd rather have people read my stories and reach people who appreciate them and get something from them than change my writing style to suit the markets of big sellers. So I have something to work on now. I'm considering making this part of an anthology of my more "spiritual"/mythical stories (most of which were already published) and publishing them myself on Amazon as an ebook.

These are hanks of wool yarn I bought yesterday at the Apple Country Fair in Brookfield, MA. I've wanted to buy some local wool for some time now, but hadn't had the opportunity to find some in nice colors that weren't half cat fur at well... I'm very exciting to work with these. I'm thinking that some toddler sized sweaters might be just the thing...

Today we are off to pick pumpkins!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Something's happening...

So I've been talking about NaNo, and talking to other people who are doing it, and THINKING about it...

and I'm starting to get kind of excited.

I don't want to say that too loudly. This hasn't happened in a while. I had a false start a few months ago when I started exploring Steampunk, but I just wasn't able to make it work. The story was not working right and I didn't feel I had the time to really investigate why it wasn't working (I had a deadline for it). I ended up being kind of depressed about the whole thing. But now, I feel like I am starting fresh. A new beginning. It's not going to be easy. Now that the Chief is older, there aren't many opportunities during the day for me to get a lot done. I can easily get 1500 words done after he goes to bed, though. I just won't get to interact with my husband very much. The housework will obviously suffer (heh, what else is new?). But really... I am feeling good about this decision. I think it will be good for me to just pick a story, and write it through with no thoughts as to how "good" it is.

I think the most important thing leading to my success in November is going to be establishing a good routine and rhythm this month. If I can manage to do that, then I should be able to carve out some writing time in the afternoon when the Chief is doing some quiet play by himself for a little while. The weekends, also, will be vital, where the Husband can take care of the Chief and have some nice one on one time with him. If there is a rhythm that my son is familiar with, he won't mind giving me a little time in the afternoon, because he'll know that right after, we'll be doing something fun. I find that generally it's when kids don't know what to expect that they become pests, asking every two seconds for something, or asking you to play with them, etc. A daily rhythm is vital for so many other reasons that it's a good idea to have one anyway. Because this fall looks different from others we've had, I've been putting this off a bit, but now is the perfect time to do this. I'll probably do a future post on our rhythm and how we develop it. I will also be posting any tips I have from my years of doing NaNo with a child at home--I've never had a babysitter for while I write, other than my husband on weekends, so I've discovered a few basic tricks. They are things that are very simple, but that just make life easier. I know first hand how hard it can be sometimes, when you are feeling frustrated, to look at the situation objectively and be able to see the little things that can help.

My username on the NaNoWriMo site is "phantomsquirrel". From 2003-2004 I was happycrab, but in 2005 I changed pen names for some reason I can no longer recall. I'm not sure how active I will be over there, but feel free to drop me a line, and if I notice it, I will respond. (Hey, according to that website, I am still 30 years old!)

Hey, maybe I can also use some of that writerly knowledge I gleaned from my visit with George R.R. Martin over the summer....

Here is to writing success!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

November is...

Oh, ugh! I promised myself I would never do this again... Every YEAR I promise, never again... But yep, it's that time of year. Time to think about NaNoWriMo!

For those of you unfamiliar with this form of torture, NaNoWriMo is short for "National Novel Writing Month." I've been partaking in it since 2003. Yes, if you count, that is 8 novels. Two years don't count, because I did not finish. So that is 6 novels. How many novels do I have in print now? Yeah, I know.

The problem with NaNo is that you write lots of crap. So then, when it is done, you have to wade through that crap and find the good stuff. You have to edit--A LOT. You need to use the left side of the brain, which I don't think I have, to tell you the truth...

In my quest to simplify life, there is one area I have been avoiding, and that is my writing. I kind of chose to ignore it, rather than deal with it. My writing life has always been so complicated and driven. It's a source of both enjoyment and stress. I love writing, but somehow it's been implanted in my head that the goal is NOT enjoyment, but publication. It must be a job, not a passion (and this advice is everywhere, so I'm sure other people struggle with this as well). You must write in this certain genre, and for God's sake, NOT in that genre or people will think you are a hack.

I used to write with reckless abandon, and not worry so much about publication at all. Sure, I wanted to get published, but it wasn't an all consuming thing. Now, it's like, "I love that story idea! Oh, but no one will want to publish that type of story..."

So November is going to be my time to just jump start myself, and get myself writing without thinking again. I might also write a series of short stories rather than a novel, and get my 50,000 words from there, but I haven't decided yet.

The weekend of simplifying my son's room went well. We have purged and sorted and containerized his whole room. I just need to conquer his books and pare them down to just the special ones. Oh, yes, and there is the top of the dresser which needs to be addressed. But so far, there hasn't been much mention of missing toys (you know, the things that "disappeared"), and he seems to be content playing with things he hadn't had a chance to in a while. It's nice that the visual clutter is all but gone in there, and hopefully we will see the benefits. I think we'll work on the downstairs next, which is hard with the herd of rabbits. But I am determined!

Eventually, we'll even get back to "school"... So far this year we've been doing some math and reading in the AM. Not that the Chief needs my to guide him through much more than that. He loves to read on his own about science and history, and we do a lot of other stuff so all the bases are covered. I do want to get back into our rhythm again and have a decent schedule.

My crocheting is going well. I'm trying to get my etsy inventory up so my shop gets noticed a bit more. Here is an outfit I just finished for a special order:

Today's goal: Do some school planning, and get going on the dining room. I don't have so very much to do in there. Maybe I'll even open the file of a story that just got rejected and see if there is anything I can do to fix it...

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Bad blogger

I used to be a good blogger. I used to have good content, and people used to find my blog and like it and actually COMMENT. This was a couple blogs ago. Now, I can barely find the time to post at all, and when I do, it seems to be here and there with no real cohesive content. It hasn't been ABOUT anything. But I feel like I am getting to a good place, where hopefully I can get back to the good stuff.

We've been decluttering and organizing around here, trying to simplify things so we can find some peace again. I am freecycling a dining room table that was serving as my work table in my bedroom. That certainly freed a lot of space. Unfortunately, two people who said they wanted it just never showed up. So I still have the disassembled table. Hopefully I will hear something tomorrow. Anyone in the Worcester area want a table? :)

I'm crocheting my fingers off. The current project is something special, but I will post pics on here when I have finished. If people like it, I can custom make something like it for them. That goes for anything else I make as well. If you see something at my etsy shop that you like, but is not in the size you need, just let me know!

Now, I'm going upstairs to cull a bunch of my son's toys.