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 Nanowrimo.org 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 encounter...it 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!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Parenting Paroxysm and Other Randomness

You know what vexes me?

The fact that my child can remember almost two weeks later that the yard two doors down from her daycare had Halloween decorations out the wazoo ("Puh-kin patch gone, Mama.  Puh-kin patch GONE!") but she can't remember me telling her not to stomp through the house not two seconds ago.  Why is that?!

I love Billa's sense of fashion.  Not only does she love bright colors (like me), funky footwear (also like me), but she sure loves layering and looking as strange as possible (definitely just like me!).  Observe:


This is what Billa chose to wear to church a couple of Sundays ago.  I have to say, it could be worse  (And yes, she insisted on accessorizing with my keys and the shopping bags).  Most days we pretty much let her choose what she wears with our only input being whether or not something is weather appropriate.  In my opinion, I love the fact that she marches to the beat of her own drummer and as far as I'm concerned, I could really care less most days what she wears.  It won't be long before society starts holding her to their beliefs as to how things should be, so I think letting her experiment is perfectly A-OK.  Let her innocence and spunk shine through while it can, I say!

My Nano novel is coming along.  I started with a different idea and after writing about 5k words, I realized my heart just wasn't in that novel.  I kept thinking about this dream I'd had three years ago and the plot I'd created around it.  So I figured after three years of thinking about it, playing with it, and dreaming it, now was the time for me to just suck it up and finally write it.  I mean, come on, what was I waiting for anyway?  I'm farther behind than I'd like, but I'm happy with the story and content to see where it goes.  I need to try and hit 25k words by Sunday night; we'll see what happens!  I am determined to finish this novel if it kills me (ok, well maybe not that extreme), but more than that, I'm finally ready to put the effort and time into editing it and actually having other people read it and see what happens with it.  I've never actually bothered to try and publish any of my writing before, but I think that if I'm going to try and actually be a writer, well, I should probably actually make an effort at submitting it to an agent and see what happens, shouldn't I?  I'll keep you posted on that!

Anyhoo, if I'm going to get anywhere close to 25k words by Sunday night, I better get cracking. 


Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Halloween Recap!

Halloween was a blast this year.  Because of our recent financial difficulties, it was a little bit different than I had hoped (I didn't get to do the costumes I really wanted to), but we got to dress up nonetheless and we had so much fun trick or treating twice.  Yes, you read that correctly. TWICE.

Billa and Mama

My parents' HOA does a Halloween hayride every year since the neighborhood is so large and the houses spread so far apart (it's rural Hays County, what can I say).  It's a win win for everyone: the kids are kept safe by going in big group, it fosters a sense of community, and for those giving out candy, it means one visit only so you aren't constantly bombarded by the doorbell ringing every two minutes.  Billa wasn't the youngest by far, but she was one of the littler ones.  She really enjoyed running up to every house and saying, "Trick er please!" for her candy.  She got quite a bit too!  My parents house was one of the last stops and after heading there, she had a total meltdown because she thought she was done and wanted to stay with Boppa and Papa.

One of the funnier moments that evening was when she tripped in someone's yard and fell down.  She cried for all of two seconds before seeing the other kids pass her and then pushed us away to hobble to the door to get candy.  Girl has her priorities, ya know!  There were also a few times when she got really confused and bypassed people in their yards in favor of running up to their doors instead.  At one house, the lady was just as confused as Billa when B ran past her to ring the doorbell.

"Trick or please!"

Halloween night we went trick or treating with the Marino and the Patterson family.  This is now the third year that we've gone trick or treating as a group and it's been so much fun.  The kids are all so close in age and they play together pretty well.  Billa got tons more candy, although this time she was more interested in every dog and cat at every house we stopped by.  She kept waving people off so she could pet the dogs and even refused candy at some houses as a result.

All the little trick or treaters: Bumblebee the Tranformer (Cameron), Ariel the Little Mermaid (Madeleine), Tinkerbell (Sydney), Superman (Jacob), and the Halloween Sprite (Billa)

Ding dong!

At several houses, Billa was far more interested in people's pets than the candy.  I can't complain! 

I think Halloween is easily Billa's favorite holiday now.  It's not just the candy or dressing up (which she really enjoyed; she got mad at me when I didn't put her tutu on fast enough!) but the decorations that she loves.  Every house that had decorations she wanted to stop and look at.  One of the houses next door to her daycare had a lot of Halloween decor in their yard; the morning after Halloween they had taken it all down (I still haven't taken mine down...I'm in denial that it's over) and she keeps saying "Mama, puh-kin patch gone.  Ghost gone.  Puh-kin patch gone!" in the saddest little voice ever.  Somebody loves themself some Halloween!

The only problem now is figuring out what to do with all of the candy we got.  I've probably eaten my weight in it by now, so I'll freeze some for around Christmas time (stocking stuffers!) and maybe use some in some sweet treats to take to the office.  Not that the office doesn't have it's own perils there...everyone keeps bringing in their own leftover candy.  Argh!  Time to hit the pavements and up my yoga intake :o)

Gimme all yer candy, or ye walk the plank!  ARRRRRR!

Hope you all had a safe and fun Halloween too!

Happy Birthday!

I ain't gonna lie...if it weren't for Facebook, I would probably forget half the anniversaries and birthdays of the people I love.  So, thank you Facebook for reminding me that today are the birthdays of two very special people: my daughter's godmother (and one of my best friends) Debi and my cousin Kari!

If you have a chance, swing by my cousin's blog, Hound Girl.  Kari has two awesome dogs, Hayley and Fred and I love reading her stories about their adventures.  Plus, who doesn't like cute dog pictures?

And if you know a Marine, hug them or tell them thank you today in honor of my friend Debi.  Debi is a Marine and she was there by my side as I was giving birth.  She was also there by my side during some of the worst depression I have ever experienced and I am forever grateful for her friendship and her service to our country.

Happy birthday ladies...you are well loved in the land of Lapiz de la Guerra!



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