Friday, December 31, 2010

Goodbye 2010, Hellooooooo 2011!

I have to admit, I'm probably more excited about 2011 than most people.  Given how intense and um, challenging 2010 turned out, I'm hoping that this new year will be much more positive and relaxed.  I know it's a bit silly, because anyone can make a change at any given point, it doesn't just have to be January 1st.  But there is something about New Year's that makes me feel the start and end of something so strongly.  In our case, it is the end of Year of Perspective and Introspection.


Due to our separation this year, my husband and I have had done a lot of introspection.  We took time to look inward and really examine ourselves, our behaviors, our feelings and more.  We are fortunate that our actions led us to a new perspective.  What we learned is that nothing is more than our marriage and our family.  And it's not just the basic concepts either; we realized and understood that while two individuals make up a team, it's only when that team works together that they can win.  It isn't enough to feel those things are important, you have to work to make them important.  We had placed too much focus on our individual selves and goals instead of our joint ones. 


As difficult as 2010 was for me, I am incredibly grateful to the Big Man Upstairs for placing this obstacle in my path.  I was given a glimpse of a possible future in my life and I won't lie, I didn't like it, nor did I want it.  I know too many of my own loved ones who now have to blaze that trail, and my heart aches for them.  I am a stubborn and proud woman at times (ok, a lot of times), and I had to fall really hard to learn what was truly important to me.  I know how blessed I am to be given a second chance, and it's one I won't take lightly again. 


I look forward to the prospects and challenges that 2011 will provide for us; i hope that it too, is a challenging year, but in a different way.  We have yet to really sit down and think about our resolutions for the new year, but you can bet it is something that we will be doing together!

I hope that you all have a happy and blessed new year, and that everyone is safe tonight as they celebrate the passing of the old, and the birth of the new!

Happy New Year!
The Guerra Family 

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Bento, Manga, and Japanese!

Amongst my close friends, it's no secret that I love the Japanese culture.  It came about as an accident really, when I was in college.  My best friend Kellie and I went everywhere together in those days, earning us the nickname of Kelly/ie Squared or K2 as some of our professors called us.  People began to wonder when only one of us showed up anywhere!  Part of our degree requirement was to have two semesters of a foreign language and we chose Spanish.  None of the classes worked out with our schedule, but Japanese did.  What the hell! we said, and we signed up.  The next two semesters were some of the most fun we had, as our sensei was quite the character.  She was new to America by only a couple of years and I daresay we taught her as much about American culture as she did Japanese culture with us.  Those two semesters sparked something within Kellie and I.

This is hiragana, just one of several forms of characters used in writing Japanese.  Hiragana is used to write out words that are native Japanese; katakana is used for foreign words that have been introduced to Japanese, and kanji is the complex language to spell actual words (as opposed to katakana and hiragana, which spell out syllables)

Kellie's daughter Madeleine is obsessed with anime, and in turn, Kellie and I got into it too.  One thing led to another and now we're obsessed with manga, anime, bento box lunches, Japanese cuisine, and relearning all of our college Japanese.  Kellie had told me about an anime called Fruits Basket on instant watch on Netflix which was a great show, but it ended on a weird note and I felt cheated.  It's a nice thing that my husband works for a bookstore, because I've been tearing through the 27 volumes of the manga that the anime was based on.  A side note: it's called Fruits Basket, because there is no 't' sound in Japanese.  Everything is spelled out with syllables, so the word 'fruit' in Japanese is actually 'furutsu', thereby translated in English to 'fruits'!  Pretty cool, huh?

 Some of the gang from Fruits Basket: Hatsuharu, Kyo (my favorite!), Tohru, Momiji, and Yuki.

With the new year rapidly approaching, I've been meaning to live a healthier lifestyle and one of my new resolutions this year is to start doing bento boxes for my lunches.  Bento is a way of packing your lunch in a little box that hits all of the food groups and keeps the portion sizes appropriate.  There are all sorts of fun gadgets and do-hickeys that help to make the bento look cuter and more appetizing.  It can get pretty serious, but I'm only concerned with trying to keep it healthy for now!  I think I will also plan on eating more meals with chopsticks since it forces me to really concentrate on my meal and how much I eat.

See how fun bento can be?  I'd love eating this for lunch every day!

I'm excited about relearning all of my Japanese and then some.  I'd love to go to Japan someday and tour the country, trying the food, meeting new people, and checking out the scenery and historical sites.  I'll be sure to share my adventures in bento box making as well as reviews on mangas I read or animes I watch.  This is going to be an exciting year!


Sunday, December 26, 2010

Christmas 2010 Wrap-up

What a lovely holiday season this was!  We had a wonderful time visiting with friends and family and we are looking forward to the myriad of others we still have yet to visit.

The Sunday before Christmas we drove to Victoria, TX for the annual Guerra family Christmas gathering which was lovely.  Michael's Aunt Cathy and Uncle Pat hosted a scrumptious Tex-Mex dinner and we thoroughly enjoyed visiting with everyone, especially since we hadn't been able to see everyone at Thanksgiving.  We were so blessed to be surrounded by our family and to receive many wonderful gifts.  We completely forgot our camera, so I have no pictures sadly.  We did have a funny moment on the way home though: everyone had fallen asleep with the exception of myself and Caitlyn (who was driving).  Billa woke up, looked around, and then suddenly screamed at the top of her lungs, "Daddy, no go night night!"  It promptly woke him and everyone else up.  Cait and I were cracking up since we weren't rudely awoken.  Gotta love a kid with a mind of her own!

Christmas Eve was spent with my family.  My brothers and a couple of family friends joined us all for shrimp, ham, sweet potato casserole, green beans, and more for a delicious meal.  Afterwards, we opened presents and teased my brother Philip for his get up.  Billa ended up usurping the Play-Doh Philip gave everyone and had quite a good time carrying her "cake" everywhere.  My brothers left to go to mass with my brother David's girlfriend Lindsey and the rest of us stayed to watch Zombieland, which is a really fun zombie movie if you haven't seen it yet.  After that, it was close to midnight and we headed back home to prepare for Santa's arrival.  Billa, was of course, thoroughly passed out.

Billa begins to unwrap her gift from "Uncle Folf" (aka my brother Phil!)

Billa helps Uncle Folf unwrap his present

Philip hands out Play-Doh for all!

She was so passed out that the next morning, she didn't even notice the presence of presents under the tree!  We decided that we'd take advantage of that and take our time to open everything, which was nice.  Billa was over the moon with the teddy bear stickers, dinosaur coloring book, and Kumon books that "Santa" got her.  I was thrilled that she loved her puppy dolly that I've been working on for her. 

Present time!

Mommy has to lend a little assistance.  Check out Billa's awesome bedhead!

Billa's "dine-ror" coloring book with figures and stickers...she loves playing dine-rors with daddy!

The crown from Billa's Christmas crackers...she's not really sure what to think about it yet.

Later on, we headed to Michael's mom's house for Christmas breakfast.  Oh man, it's a good thing I only eat her boyfriend's Carl's french toast once a year...that stuff is an instant coronary!  He makes sausage and bacon and then fries up the french toast in the drippings which makes it super tasty, but also incredibly fattening.  We then opened presents and me and my sister in law Caitlyn promptly passed out on the couch while Gigi played with Billa and Carl and Michael watched car shows on TV. It was nice and lazy!

Caitlyn, Billa, and Michael at breakfast.  My fave Christmas pic from this year!

Billa unwraps her present from Gigi with a little help from Riley the beagle

Little People Noah's Ark!  Gigi got Billa ALL the animals that come with it.  Our only regret is that there is no Mrs. Noah with the set.  C'mon, Little People...don't be hatin!

Me and my new scarf...I can never have enough scarves!

Gigi takes a picture of Billa's new froggie blanket.  I can personally vouch for it's comfyness and coziness

We finished our day by stopping off at the Marino household to give them their presents and visit with them for a bit.  Anthony started up the fire pit in the backyard and it was so nice, given how chilly it was!

We had a wonderful Christmas and we hope that each and every one of you did too!

Happy Christmas,
The Guerra Family

Friday, December 17, 2010

Twelve Days of Christmas: My Favorite Ornament

I'm doing Anna's linky party again.  Today's theme is favorite ornaments!

I love today's theme because it gives me a chance to espouse my love for my favorite ornament: the gay little elf!


This cheerful little cherub has been in my family now for a couple of generations.  After my mom's mom passed away in 1995, we inherited a lot of her stuff, including some Christmas ornaments.  The gay little elf was one of those ornaments.  He actually has an identical twin and before I claimed my half of the pair, we'd hang them on the tree facing each other every year.   My brothers HATE the gay little elf because they think he's dumb looking.  I, on the other hand, find him absolutely adorable and hysterical in equal amounts.  My brothers would always make silly faces or crack terrible jokes about the poor little elf, and we'd have great fun laughing about it all afterwards. Those memories are forefront in my mind when I unpack the elf and he always gets a place front and center on the tree.

Someday my mom will give me her little elf too and I shall have a matched pair.  As time goes on, I hope that the elf will continue to witness many happy and joyful Christmasses from his perch on our tree.

Happy Holidays,

Billa Babble: All I want for Christmas

Billa is in love with Christmas decorations.  When we drive around in the evening, if she sees Christmas lights, she makes sure EVERYONE knows it.  She calls them "those lights", most likely because we kept pointing them out that way: "Billa!  Look at THOSE lights!"

She is also obsessed with the jolly old elf himself whom she has dubbed "Santen."  I don't know why, that's how she says it!  She's grasped the concept that it is Santa that visits and delivers presents, something they must have talked about at school because we didn't really mention it at home.  It's not that we don't believe in Santa (we do) or that we were trying to spread some sort of message to her (we are, but not overtly), it just never occurred to us that we should explain it to her this year.  But as always, I am proven wrong by the extraordinary little brain hidden underneath those strawberry blonde curls.  Observe:

The other night as we were driving to visit a friend, she saw a blow-up Santa and pointed it out.

"Mommy, look!  A Santen!"
"Yes, that is a Santa." I said.  "Hey Billa, are you excited about Santa coming?"
"What does Santa bring?" I asked, a bit smugly.
"Um...presents!" she replied brightly.
 Huh, I thought. 
"And what would you like Santa to bring you?"
In the rearview mirror, I caught a glimpse of her drop her chin into her little hand in the classic philosopher's pose.  She thought long and hard for a few seconds.
"Pizza!" she declared.
"I'll get right on that," I said.  "I mean, I'll see what Santa can do."
"Danks, Mommy!"

Here's hoping "Santen" brings you everything on your list!


Thursday, December 16, 2010

Twelve Days of Christmas: My Favorite Person

My friend Anna is doing a really cute and fun linky party on her crafty blog, and I felt like joining in on the fun.  Today her subject is your favorite person.  I'd be remiss if I didn't claim my daughter Sybilla as my favorite gal in the whole entire world!

My little toot has made my life bright, delightfully chaotic, and challenged me to grow as a person and a mother.  Every day she finds new ways to make me laugh, to amaze me, or to melt my heart.  She's almost three and her personality is full of spirit and spunk.  She loves the color green, loves kitties and puppies, and is active beyond belief.  Her vocabulary is incredible and every day I am blown away by what else she has picked up and learned.  She says "please," "thank you," and "welcome" at all the appropriate times and usually doesn't need to be prompted on it.  She knows just about all the colors including chartreuse (said "shuh-shoo").  Her counting consists of repeating 2 and 4 until she's satisfied.  She loves to pick out her own clothes and loves to wear brightly colored things, just like her mommy.  My heart just swells at how incredibly empathetic she is with others around her, and it warms me to my core to see her try and make things better.

As we come into the Christmas season and Billa absorbs it all, I find myself deliriously happy over the simplest things.  It is pure joy listening to her point out "those lights, Mommy!" upon seeing brightly lit Christmas lights.  And I love hearing her talk about "Santen" and asking her what she hopes he'll bring her (the other night it was pizza!).

Sybilla, you are definitely my favorite person in this entire world and I am so happy to be your mommy!


Thursday, December 9, 2010

Latkes for the Win!

We usually do a small dinner party once a month with a couple of friends of mine.  We all provide different components and it's so nice to entertain in an intimate setting.  I love entertaining and I enjoy showing my love and admiration for people through food. 

We aren't Jewish, but we've always wanted to introduce the customs and rituals of other cultures into our home so that we could inspire openmindedness and awareness in our children.  Now that Billa is older and aware of holidays, we thought this would be a good year to start.  Michael got a menorah and candles and we looked up the traditional prayers that are said as part of the lighting of the candles.  My newest issue of Cooking Light had recipes for potato latkes and so we decided to give them a try and share the last night of Hanukkah with our friends.

We tried traditional latkes and latkes with serrano peppers and cilantro that were absolutely fabulous.  The only downfall of these recipes was that it takes a while to fry everything up.  Part of the tradition surrounding Hanukkah is eating foods fried in oil, as the oil is representative of the sacred temple oil lasting for eight days.  I think it would have been faster had I not grated my hand.  Yeah, you read that right.  I was grating the onion and I totally shredded my hand too.  Ouch!  Trying to cook with one bandaged and aching hand slowed me down a bit.  But beyond that, the latkes were amazing! 

The recipe called for jalapenos, but I still had serranos to use from the garden, so we subbed those in.  Michael did a really great job with the chipotle sour cream and the combination of the two was super delicious.  This recipe will be added to our repertoire and cooked more often than just at Hanukkah!

Serrano & Cilantro Latkes with Chipotle Sour Cream
Recipe and picture from Cooking Light magazine
6  tablespoons  light sour cream
1  tablespoon  chopped chipotle chile, canned in adobo sauce
3/4  teaspoon  grated lime rind
1  teaspoon  fresh lime juice
6  cups  shredded peeled baking potato (about 1 1/2 pounds)
1  cup  grated fresh onion
6  tablespoons  all-purpose flour
1/2  cup  chopped fresh cilantro
2  tablespoons  finely chopped seeded jalapeño pepper
1  large egg
1  teaspoon  ground cumin
1/2  teaspoon  salt
1/4  cup  olive oil, divided

1. Combine first 4 ingredients in a small bowl, stirring well. Cover and chill until ready to serve.

2. Combine potato and onion in a colander. Drain 30 minutes, pressing occasionally with the back of a spoon until barely moist. Combine potato mixture, flour, and next 5 ingredients (through salt) in a large bowl; toss well.

3. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add 2 tablespoons oil to pan; swirl to coat. Spoon 1/4 cup potato mixture loosely into a dry measuring cup. Pour mixture into pan; flatten slightly. Repeat the procedure 5 times to form 6 latkes. Sauté 3 1/2 minutes on each side or until golden brown and thoroughly cooked. Remove latkes from pan; keep warm. Repeat procedure with remaining 2 tablespoons oil and potato mixture to yield 12 latkes total. Serve with sour cream mixture.

Some food for thought...
  • Cooking Light emphasized the importance of letting the shredded potatoes drain for 30 minutes or so.  This is very important as the shredded potato gives off a lot of liquid and that liquid will affect the quality and texture of your latkes.  I didn't let mine drain long enough and I could tell.  In the future, I will probably place the potatoes in cheesecloth and hang it over the sink to ensure that they have plenty of drainage!
  • Serranos and jalapenos can be used interchangeably.  Just remember that the heat of the pepper is mostly contained in the veins and seeds!  You can scoop those out using a spoon once they've been split down the center lengthwise.
  • if you're making a huge batch of these things, place the cooked ones on a foil lined cookie sheet and keep them in a warm oven until it's time to eat.
  • On frying: you need to make sure that you're oil is good and hot to ensure that the latkes don't get too soggy with oil.  Give the oil a minute or two to come back to temperature in between batches.  You can also use paper towels and brown lunch bags to help sop up any excess oil.
Happy Hanukkah to all of our Jewish friends...we hope your Festival of Lights was a wonderful one!


Friday, December 3, 2010

Some Friday Fun...

A co-worker of mine sends out a fun email every week.  I really enjoyed these and thought I would share!  Have a wonderful weekend, everyone!

Real life definitions

A place where women curl up and dye.

Someone who is fed up with people.

The only animals you eat before they are born and after they are dead.
A body that keeps minutes and wastes hours.

Mud with the juice squeezed out.

Someone who is usually me-deep in conversation.
Never tell a lie if the truth will do more damage.
Cold Storage.

Cutting money in half without damaging the paper.

An insect that makes you like flies better.

Grape with a sunburn.

Something you tell to one person at a time.

The pain that drives you to extraction.

One of the greatest labor saving devices of today.

An honest opinion openly expressed.

Something other people have.


Thursday, December 2, 2010

Candid Camera

Billa got a hold of the camera again.  This is what she captured for posterity:

Her favorite thing to watch right now: Shaun the Sheep

Mommy's cooking!

Mmmm, Ponyo noodles (ramen) favorite!

Mommy: "Hey, whaddaya doing with that camera, Billa?"
Billa: "I takin' pic-cha, Mommy!"
Mommy: "Oh, ok.  [pause] Wait, what!?"

Thank you, Billa, for making sure to capture my good side and my double chin.  If only the media aspired to your standards of honest reporting!

Captivatingly yours,

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Gettin' Crafty

There's just something about the holidays that makes me super crafty. Maybe it's because the cold forces us to stay inside, or the ideas are flowing out the wazoo on the interwebs.  Whatever it is, I have all these great ideas floating around in my head.

Dolls, dolls, dolls
Since we decorated the house on Friday, Billa has been stealing the Christmas themed Beanie Babies and carrying them around everywhere, calling them her "babies."  I gave her one of my old purses so that she could carry them around.  I've noticed that she's started to develop an empathetic streak and is becoming obsessed with caring for things.  So we've decided that Billa will be getting a doll for Christmas.  I haven't liked a lot of the ones I've seen at stores, so I am going to make her one.  I'm so in love with these soft bodied dolls I saw on Etsy and I am planning on making one that is inspired by them and creating clothes to go along with it, and maybe even a little carrier so that Billa has something to carry her babies in!

Dolls made by The Windy Hill

I also saw these peg dolls and realized I had wooden pieces left over from a craft project that would be perfect to make some of our own.  And this cigar box dollhouse?  Too cute to boot!  Of course, I may end up saving these peg dolls for Billa's birthday, but they would also be really cute for ornaments or gifts for the other kids on my list.

iPad case
My company is giving all of it's employees an iPad for our Christmas gift this year and I am so stoked.  I've been iPad crazy now, trying to decide what apps I'm going to get, and looking at cases.  I love this owl case from Boutique ID, but if I recreate it, I'm going to make some adjustments/improvements to it so that it's a bit more functional for my needs.

Owl iPad case from Boutique ID

I might even use up some of my fabric stores to make some cute iPad sleeves for my coworkers too, since they'll all be in the same boat I will!

Gift presentation and Ornaments
Some of the people on our list will be receiving gift cards this year.  I don't have a problem with gift cards as gifts, but I really dislike it when there's no thought given to the presentation!  I saw these nutcracker ornament boxes from Crate and Barrel and thought it would be really cute to make some for holding gift cards.  I started a tradition with my friend Kellie's kids and my own daughter by giving the kids a special ornament each year as part of their gift.  That way when they go off on their own, they have a whole set to get them started!  These little boxes would be super cute for this year's ornament, especially customized with favorite colors.

Advent calendar
Last year, it was the middle of December when I was blogtrolling and discovered all sorts of cute ideas for advent calendars.  It being the middle of December, I couldn't exactly start one then, but I resolved to do it for the next year!  I bought some felt from the craft store over the holidays and I am ready to st out to make an advent calendar for this year.  My idea was originally that I was going to make little mittens and socks out of the felt and then hang them up on a line like this one from Martha Stewart, but I don't really have any place to hang them in our apartment now that everything is decorated. 

I may just make a panel that hangs on the fridge and each one of the little socks and mittens clips to it if I can't find someplace to hang them all up.  They'll all be little pouches so that I can stuff candy or other activities into them and hopefully it will grow with us if our family ever expands!

Hopefully my budget will allow for all of my craftiness.  I haven't been able to craft in some time and now that I have some free time after finishing NaNoWriMo, I am ready to get crackin' on my craftin'!

Happy crafting to you!

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Nanowrimo 2010: WINNER!!!

I submitted my word count to and I was rewarded with this image:
Huzzah!  I finished my novel this morning with 50,010 words.  Well, according to Nanowrimo, anyway.  My word counter on Scrivener had about 60 more words, so I'm not really sure what Nanowrimo isn't counting, but who cares?  I won, dammit!

It feels so good to claim victory, especially a little bit early.  I spent about four hours Saturday night and pounded out almost 8,000 words before I gave into the siren call of sleep.  And then this morning, Michael was really sweet and took Billa to the park so that I could finish the last 1,800 words and post my victory.  Not ten seconds after I finished whooping and hollering over my win, my husband and daughter walked in the door and saw me grinning like an idiot.  He knew why I was so happy and we celebrated by purchasing a bottle of wine to enjoy with our dinner and movie for this evening.

I am so relieved to have finished.  I gladly took on the challenge and while I am proud of my accomplishment, I didn't realize how much pressure and stress I was feeling from the challenge!  But like last year, I learned so much about myself and my writing.  As I mentioned previously, I had started with another idea, but nixed it in favor of an older one.  I'm glad I did, because I am looking forward to editing that story soon.  It's total crap right now, but with a little hacking here and there, I think it will be much better.  i also learned a lot about where I need to improve my skills as a writer.  I'm good at dialogue, plotting, and characterization, but I need to do some serious work on describing things and figuring out how to tease the details to keep the reader engaged. 

I'm also relieved because during the course of this year's challenge, I came up with several more novel ideas and now I can actually start them!

Thank you to all of the wonderful people at Nanowrimo for putting together this year's challenge and especially to all my friends and family for encouraging me to keep going.  I want to give a shout out to my friends Victoria and Michelle for joining me in the challenge and helping to keep me on track and moving along.  I hope you two are winners too!

Excitedly yours,

Friday, November 26, 2010

Deckin' the Halls and Thanksgiving 2010 Recap

Now that we are recovered from our food comas yesterday...

We had a wonderful time visiting with Michael's mom's family and my family yesterday for Thanksgiving.  It was Michael's mom's birthday yesterday, so we drove out to Wimberley, TX to have dinner with Gigi, Aunt Cait, Auntie 'Chelle, Uncle Kevin, Uncle Steve, Aunt Jerry, Nana, and Mrs. Roberts (Uncle Steve's mom).  Dinner was fabulous and we watched the Macy's parade, a dog show, and the beginning of the Cowboys vs. Saints game.  We also took a lovely walk around the ranch to make some room for dessert:

Some of us climbed...

And ran...

And played in the birdbath!


Afterwards, we drove to my parents' house in Buda and enjoyed Thanksgiving 2.0 with my folks, my brothers David and Philip, Phil's girlfriend Andrea, and his roommate Aaron.  I am sad to say that my beloved Longhorns put up a good fight against the Aggies, but it wasn't enough.  We lost 24-17 and I was so very sad.  I seriously hope the Aggies make it the Big 12 Championship though; we need a Texas team to represent!

This year's Thanksgiving was one of the best, although it was marred just slightly by the news that my husband's Gramma Bobbe took ill and so we won't be seeing that side of the family this year.  We hope you feel better soon, Gramma!

We traditionally spend Black Friday decorating our home for Christmas and we definitely did that this morning!  Michael had to work in the afternoon, so we got an early start and were done in about an hour.  Now that's what I call teamwork!  Billa lent a hand hanging ornaments on the tree.  Here is a fine example of her handiwork:

At least she's consistent!


The stocking were hung by the chimney with care...

...In the hopes that St. Nick would soon be there!

In other news, the weather is finally cold!  I don't know how long it will last, but I am s thrilled about cold weather.  I broke out the sweaters this morning and put away some of my summer clothes.  I like to layer in the wintertime, so I didn't put away everything of course, but it was so refreshing to see my sweaters hanging back up again.

I have to say, given everything that has happened this year, I am so grateful to be able to spend the holidays with my husband's family as well as my own.  I have come to consider them as my family too and I grieved to think that I might not be seeing them at the holidays.  You certainly never know what you have until you are faced with losing it. 

We hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving as well and that if you are going out today that you're safe!  And if you are going out today, show a little kindness and appreciation to any retail employees you will make for happiness all around!


Thursday, November 18, 2010

Writing Woes: An update on NaNoWriMo 2010

I have to say that Nanowrimo is kicking my butt this year although I'm a bit ahead of where I was last go 'round.  As of this writing, I have finally reached the halfway mark of 25,000 words.  Woot!  But I'm still struggling with it.  I should have hit that mark Monday night and instead I hit it Thursday at lunchtime.  I have to hit 37,500 this upcoming Monday night if I want to stay on track.

As one of the pep talk emails said, "I've been Week Two'd."

It's traditional to start the month roaring and to finish the month mewing like a lamb.  Week Two is typically where a alot of writers stumble.  The pizazz they started with has fizzled and they're starting to really question the soundness of the decision they made.  I started the month scrambling for an idea that I felt I could commit myself to and yet, the idea I came up with just didn't resonate after five days.  I know, I probably should have stuck with it, but I had such an aversion to it that there was no way words were going to fly out of my finges.  So I scrapped it.

By this point, of course, two of my writing buddies were way ahead of me.  Crap, I thought.  [cue dramatic moan] What am I gonna write about?!  I started digging through the scrap pile of my hard drive.  There is a folder on my desktop entitled "Kelly's Writing" - any idea I have, any manuscript I'm working on, journal entries I've written, they all end up in that little blue folder that stares at me every day.  The scrap pile revealed to me that I had a story idea I'd ben entertaining in the back of my brain for almost three years.  I totally lucked out because I even had close to 5000 words already written of it!  Technically, it's cheating, yes, but I'd already written 5000 words of the other story, so it's all a wash at the end of the day.  I put in the effort, dammit, and twice at that!

So this buried treasure is what I've been working on but I keep finding myself getting distracted.  I've had to go so far as to turn of my web browser, because otherwise, I'll be tempted to lurk through Facebook, or blog troll, or look up other random useless trivia to lock away into the recesses of my brain.  Yeah, that's my life.  Great, isn't it?

I was really proud of myself for banging out almost 5000 words this morning and I hope to repeat it tomorrow so that I can get a little bit closer to 37500 by Monday.  It won't be easy, but I know that I am more inclined to met deadlines hen they're hanging over my head.  Nothing like the proverbial feeling of "do it or die!" to get ya going in the morning!

And this time, I am determined to actually take time and edit the story once it's written.  It may still be crap after I've hacked it apart a few times, but if I'm ever going to be a published writer (notice I didn't say REAL writer...that's a sound off waiting to happen, mark my words!), I need to get to a point where I can actually feel confident about my work to send it to an agent.

So here's to 50k and beyond...12 more days to hammer out 24,858 words!


Shadows and Smoke

I've been reflecting lately on how truly blessed I am.

Five months ago, I thought I'd never be able to pick myself up off the floor.  I hated being out in public for fear that everyone could see just how truly flawed I was.  My husband didn't want me, so surely there was something wrong with me, I thought.  I hated seeing other women wearing their wedding bands.  I hated it especially if they were moms, out with their husbands and children.  I felt like I had a blinking light hanging over my head with the word "FAILURE" that everyone could see and judge me for it.  And yet as much as I hated being out in public, I hated being at home even more, surrounded by memories of everything that my life had once been.  I felt so alienated from my friends; in fact many of them stopped talking to me.  I began to see who was rock solid and who was fair weather.  Some of them just didn't know what to say.  I was miserable and alone.

My life was over as I knew it.

I started to attend a new church and joined a Life Recovery class there and I signed up for DivorceCare, a support group for divorced and separated people.  With the help of these new friends and love from one of the most unlikeliest of places, I began to stir to life again.  I hated church growing up as a kid, and yet I found myself wanting to go back each week to listen and be surrounded by others who felt just as broken as I was.  I felt safe.  I felt like I could finally be me.  I finally felt like I deserved to be loved by myself, God, and other people.  I felt like I had a home in this church.

But still I felt like my life was over.

I mourned for the loss of my best friend, for the failure my marriage was, and for the dreams we'd shared.  I mourned the fact that Sybilla would be an only child, I mourned for the future that was now shadows and smoke.  I wondered what to do with my wedding dress and all the wedding memorabilia.  I have to laugh at how silly that sounds; I was so genuinely worried about what would happen to my damn wedding dress that it kept me up at night!

Slowly, the spark in my heart flared to life and a fire began to grow.

I cried all the tears I had.  I screamed all the obscenities I knew.  I poured out my frustration, loneliness, and brokenness onto reams of paper.  I sang every song I knew, letting music do the talking for my hurting soul.  Every morning and night, I looked myself in the eye in the mirror, telling myself it would be ok, only occasionally believing it.  I leaned heavily on friends as much they let me.  I prayed every night and morning and rejoiced in completing the simplest of tasks.

"I'm still alive," I told myself fiercely.  "I'm still here, and I'm still alive."

After five months of personal and couples counseling, turning the lens onto myself, gaining perspective, and learning to accept my faith and love myself for what they are, I have climbed beyond the treeline and am able to see the vista around me.  I am nowhere near the top of the mountain, but I can see it without the trees obscuring my view.

I heard a piano song last night that resonated with everything I'd been feeling.  It made me wistful and hopeful all in one.  The song was called "Shadows of Someone I'll Never Be."  I understand now that the shadows of the people we will never be are not always good ones.  Sometimes it's good to acknowledge the bad shadows of one's self and to let them go.  I mourned for my future as we once imagined it.  But now Michael and I are imagining a new one, one that's more loving and kind.  I mourned our relationship, but now I revel in what we are building anew.  I am grateful for this chance at starting over, and grateful for the lessons I have learned.  Even if Michael and I were not reconciling, I'd still feel blessed.

My life as I knew it WAS over.  But where one life ended, another came to take it's place, one that I look forward to living. 

It's a good life!


Monday, November 15, 2010


This is what happens when you leave your camera sitting within reach of tiny hands:

You get some perspective on life.


Friday, November 12, 2010

What Will You Be?

They never stop asking me,
"What will you be?"


A doctor, a dancer,
A diver at sea?


They never stop bugging me:
"What will you be?"


As if they expect me to
Stop being me.


When I grow up I'm going to be a Sneeze,


And sprinkle Germs on all my Enemies.


When I grow up I'm going to be a Toad,


And dump on Silly Questions in the road.


When I grow up, I'm going to be a child.


I'll play the whole darn day and drive them Wild.


Thanks for stopping by.  Have a great weekend,

PS The poem is one of my favorites from my all time favorite kid's book, Garbage Delight by Dennis Lee.  I received this book as a gift from my aunt and uncle in Canada when I was 5.  Billa got her very own (brand new, non-colored or cut up, updated with new poems and art) copy from my cousin Katy, for her first birthday.  It's those kind of things that make me feel warm and fuzzy inside.  I can't wait to hear Billa laugh when she's older and will actually understand the silliness of these poems a bit better!


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