As the Year Closes

If you’re a long-time reader, you might remember how I handle my goals. If not, check here. In light of recent events, I’ve been introspective today. This year has been full of high and low points, successes and failures, but I know I’m better off emotionally and spiritually. So, rather than pick apart everything I haven’t done, I’ll do what I (try to) do best—find the Brightside.

Here’s what I’m focusing on in route to meeting my goals by my next birthday:

Physical—I see the need for improvement.

Mental—I’ve learned lots even though I haven’t read all the non-fiction books I’ve wanted to, yet!

Spiritual—I’m better off than I was this time last year.

Emotional—I understand myself better than ever.

Social—I’m doing much better in social situations.

Family—One-on-one time with each child is happening more often.

Financial—I think I can. I think I can. I think I can.

Professional—FORTITUDE is completely outlined.

There’s my situation, without dwelling on all the have-nots. I’m striving for hope amid the dark days of unrest. I’m wishing you the Merriest of Christmases, or Happiest of Hanukkahs, as possible at this time. More in the days ahead…

2012 Winter Carrie

An Autism Literary Journey

It’s no secret that my oldest child is on the autism spectrum (check out posts under the “Autism” category) but this summer we passed a milestone: a READING benchmark.

Call me a bad parent, but one of my only questions for the neurologist who “helped” diagnosis my son with PDD-NOS was “Will he ever learn to read?”  My sweet son didn’t sit still long enough for me to read more than a page or two of a picture book—he was more interested in lining up his video cassettes.

Thankfully, he did learn to read and in the past year he’s been reading for pleasure. Every night, he’d read aloud to himself from The Many Adventures of Winnie-the-Pooh, The Complete Tales of Beatrix Potter or the Curious George cannon. Over and over. I was happy to see him reading, and had to brush tears from my cheeks the first few times I caught his little brother and sister huddled around him in bed after lights out to listen to the stories, but I didn’t want him stimming on the same stories.

When his fourteenth birthday approached this July, I decided to formerly introduce him to my bookshelves which he passed dozens of times a day. I pointed out a section of middle grade novels and let him pick one of the E.B. White books since he was familiar with the characters from their movie reincarnations. He went through Charlotte’s Web, Stuart Little, and The Trumpet of the Swan the first week. He plowed through the complete Bunnicula series by James Howe and several Newbery books like Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH, Shiloh, The Whipping Boy, and Sarah, Plain and Tall. He even read Hemingway’s The Old Man and the Sea.

SIXTY books in two months! I gave him a journal when he began his novel reading journey and in it he draws the cover of each book he completes. Now, I need to go back to the bookstore and buy another journal.

I’ve always had a major children’s book collection happening but last week I started fearing for my home library. He’d moved from the lower middle grade novel—typically for 7-10 year olds—bookshelves to my personal favorites—the ten and up category.

So, we began this week with a trip to our local library branch like a good homeschool family. Usually, my guy would only look at the DVDs and a book or two if pressed. This time, I showed him the children’s fiction section and he started putting Roald Dahl and Beverly Cleary books in our bag. I’m majorly excited but a little sad that he’s got dibs on Lair & Spy by Rebecca Stead before me.

Ricky Nelson Remembered

Last month, I posted more information about the vacation I took in the spring, focusing on the Friday morning I spent at The Cathedral of St. John the Divine.

This time around I’m going to focus on my night out in Morristown, NJ.
Those who know me—or have been following this blog for long—realize that I love Rick Nelson. Ricky is the King around here, not Elvis. And The Beach Boys trump The Beatles any day.

CORRODED, the novel I’m seeking publication for, is heavily influenced by Rick Nelson. If you haven’t already, check out my soundtrack here. Yes, Corroded begins and ends with Rick Nelson, and noticeably, the main character is named after one of his songs.

The reason I went to NJ/NY when I did was for a Ricky Nelson Remembered concert. As an early birthday gift, my sister bought tickets—Golden Circle, baby! Please excuse my geek moment.

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Before the show, big sister took me to get my hair done at a local salon. At thirty-five years old, my virgin hair was highlighted for the first time. Foil wraps anyone? After the show, I met and collect autographs from bassist Tommy Vee (son of the legendary Bobby Vee) and original Stone Canyon Band member David Morgan (who I called “Mr. Morgan” because a SCB member is HUGE in my book.) After standing in line, I got my turn to chat with Matthew and Gunnar—friendly as always for another fantabutitus moment. Enjoy the goofy pictures.

The Dreaded Year-end Blog

Or shall we call it “The New Beginnings Blog”? Yes, that’s much better. See, barely a year older and already wiser.
Speaking of birthdays, here’s a picture of my most awesome gift.

I’d get frustrated with it but it’s too much fun. Whoever created this is an evil genius.

Since I changed my New Year’s resolutions into birthday goals, I pulled out the dusty list and decided what was mastered, what needed continual coverage, and what had to be ditched. Here’s the latest line-up.
For my “physical” goal, I dumped the “get below ___” and have set in place actual monthly mile goals, as well as how many times a month, to chart my exercise. Life is too short to live by numbers, whether it’s counting calories or trying to get those last five (or twenty, or more…) pounds off before you can feel totally happy with yourself. Just give me jeans that don’t create a muffin-top effect and a shirt that doesn’t make me look six months pregnant and I feel great. But I must admit, it’s getting harder to find those clothes…
“Mental” was difficult to keep (no snide remarks, please!)—reading one non-fiction book a month. Some months I read more than one and other months I was lucky to keep up with my scripture studies and my few magazine/newsletter subscriptions (which are non-fiction). So, I’m keeping it simple: Keep learning!
“Spiritual” is a keeper. I still need to improve the quality of my prayers. It’s just too easy to whisper a quick “thank you” and snuggle into bed at night. Or keep hitting snooze until all the kids are running around and I forget to start the day on my knees.
For the “emotional” aspect of life I’ve broadened my goal to include more things but removed the actual time constraints. So, instead of completing an emotional inventory once a month (I only got around to doing two this past year) I’ll “keep track of my emotional state by regular (how’s that for a cop out?) journal keeping, testing, and meditation.” In case you were wondering, I do the Beck Depression Inventory and Burns Anxiety Inventory tests to track my ups and downs, as suggested by a great counselor many years ago. But that’s another entry…
“Social”: I totally suck with all things social. I’m keeping my dinky goal of having one date with my husband a month because I really need to work on spending quality time with my man. And I’m too much of a wallflower to attempt weekly/monthly social gatherings.
I think “Family” is the only goal I excelled at. We are in the habit of weekly Family Home Evenings so I’m upping the goal to have daily devotionals. Just a mini something, beyond the reading of a verse or two of scriptures before bed I already do with the kids. I’ll be homeschooling my oldest next school year (yet another future entry) so the daily devotionals would work well into a schooling schedule.
“Financial” is tough. Didn’t meet the goal but I’m thinking positively and increasing—actually decreasing—the numbers. Oh, those pesky numbers again! Didn’t I just write something about life being too short to live by numbers. Might need to rethink this one…
I came close to meeting my “professional” goal. I wanted to complete the first draft—I’m about two-thirds of the way through—of Corroded, my WIP (work in progress). My new goal is to have Corroded polished in time for the 2011 submission deadline for the Delacorte contest. Hopefully the publishing company will keep that contest going, but if not, I’ll look for an agent or submit elsewhere. Delacorte offers a yearly prize for the best contemporary teen book for a first time novelist. The winner is published with an advance as the prize money. Since that goal will actually extend beyond my next birthday—submission is in the fall—I’ve also added to begin my historical fiction novel, which I’ve been researching/thinking/planning/etc on for the past couple years. Plus, I will be open to submitting short pieces for publication or contests when the opportunities arise, but I don’t want to add in a goal for those. Less stress.
Feel free to urge me along with these goals. Keep me on task by asking me how something is going. I do much better at staying focused when I have someone checking on me. That’s why my BFF (Blog Free February) was so successful—I felt I had to answer to Laurie Halse Anderson.
On to other things…
I’ve read several interesting books in the past month.
The Map of True Places by Brunonia Barry kept me as interested in the story as The Lace Reader, her first book. It always helps when Hawthorne references are thrown in but the mental issues driving the story were well crafted by themselves. The fact that I visited Salem two years ago makes her books that much easier to visualize while reading. Brunonia’s books are two out of maybe six “adult” fiction books I’ve read in the past year or more. They aren’t squeaky clean, so reader beware.
From the local library I borrowed The Art and Craft of Writing Historical Fiction by James Alexander Thom. His actual novels are now on my to read list. The book is a great source of information and easily digested. I even read it before bed several times instead of my usual fluffy reading.

Speaking of fluff, my last nighttime read was the type of novel I’d usually skip. But since I was lucky enough to get an advanced reader’s copy (which I also got for The Map of True Places) I tried it out. One of those upper class high school novels… it’s called She’s So Dead to Us, written by Kieran Scott. It’s better than I expected—stayed up three nights in a row, way past my usual lights out, to read. But even though the ending was more of a beginning (sequel/series in the works, I’m sure) it’s not something I’ll seek out again.
Tonight I’ll start When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead because Newbery winners seldom disappoint. Another library selection.
A few other things of interest that happened in April:

I saw my first 3-D movie since Captain Eoo at Disneyland in the mid 1980s. Alice in Wonderland was great! The technology and the story were a great match. I loved the older Alice and how the movie started and ended. Still not my favorite Johnny Depp performance, though. That goes to Benny and Joon.

Took a day trip to New Orleans to spend a few hours with my awesome cousin who was down south from out west on business. We hadn’t seen each other since a reunion in 1994, I think it was. I’d have to check the cow shirt to be sure…
The family spent “A Day Out with Thomas” one rainy Saturday afternoon. The kids LOVED all the trains, especially the ride on Thomas the Tank Engine, even though he was terribly SLOW.
Spent a dozen collective hours at the Little League park.
And all the kids went to the dentist for cleanings, the youngest for the first time. We’ll be dealing with a cavity-filling appointment in the future. Gag.

No, they aren’t that bad on the little princess’s teeth. This pictures makes me feel a little better, though.
Wow! It looks like I need to return to blogging more often. This blog is huge!

It’s Been a Month

I haven’t blogged in over a month now. I’ve thought about it a few times but life rolled on without typing.
Haven’t read any blogs in about two weeks. Will skim through and check-up on a few right now.
Hadn’t checked Twitter or FaceBook in over 48 hours until just a few minutes ago. And that was AFTER writing half a page in Chapter Twelve of Corroded.
My birthday is less than a week away and most goals will not be perfected by then. But I’m much better off than I was a year ago.
Look for an updated blog/ramble next week….

Gearing Up for Shutting Down

This past week I’ve slowed my social networking considerably. Didn’t check Twitter all weekend and only checked Facebook once a day—and I did not post an update each time. It’s been easy to slack off, but I had a busy week with appointments and errands. I was away from the house during my productive hours so I didn’t get much writing done, either. Plus, I had a last minute church lesson to prepare Friday PM-Saturday.
In total, I wrote my blog post and a little over a page on my WIP (Work in Progress). I barely squished together my seventh chapter to submit for my next critique group meeting.
News Flash: My birthday is a little over three months away. YIKES!
Since I decided to re-write my 2009 goals to be “Before I Turn Thirty-Four” goals, I really need to get focused on the personal deadline of completing my first draft, among other things.
I have goals in eight categories: Physical, Mental, Spiritual, Emotional, Social, Family, Financial, and Professional. My writing goals are “professional”, so I’m behind schedule on that. I’m halfway to reaching my physical goal—hooray for me!
Good progress on mental and emotional. Just about mastered the family goal—will need a new goal for the next year (the current one is a carry-over from the previous year). Been mediocre on the spiritual and social aspects, but I’m humble enough to admit it. And the financial front totally stinks—diffidently a carry-over for next year!
How have those of you that create goals been doing?
I’ll be taking notes of my productivity during February so I can see how it goes and will report back on the second of March.
Toodles!

Surfer Girl

I took last week off to recuperate from a family weekend in New Orleans. We celebrated my middle child’s fourth birthday by going to both the Audubon Zoo and Aquarium. The kids had a blast, and so did Mommy and Daddy. We all love animals—even the little princess. Her favorite word right now is “turtle”. She used to say “fish” but since she learned how to say “turtle” everything in the water is a turtle. So, here’s a picture of a group of “turtles” eating broccoli from a diver at the Audubon Aquarium of the Americas. Love those smiles.
As for my writing life… it ebbs and flows. Last week the tide was out—wrote a little over a page, total, on my WIP. This week I have big plans, so I’m starting it off right with my Monday blogging (to be posted on Tuesday). I even did a page of journal writing yesterday.
In my defense, the princess is teething—cutting four side molars. Last week she was a screaming, clingy, feverish, non-long-nap-taking banshee. So, besides being tired from the mini-vacation I had my hands full with the littlest. And then the tiny birthday party for the four year old. Plus my oldest… well, he was in school a good deal of the time and is holding steady.
So, since it’s still quiet time, let me close this and see if I can add to the page count of my project.
No such luck—she’s awake.