Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Friends and Awards

Since I started blogging I've been amazed by the friends I have made. I love meeting new people across cyberspace because distance doesn't hinder our visiting. Nor does a dirty house, a late morning in which I find myself still in my robe, or finding a sitter for the kids. Even though I've never met some of you face to face I consider you my dear friends. We laugh together, cry together, share our life stories, and sometimes pray together. It's truly a wonderful experience.

So I am always humbled when I receive awards from you. It makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside. Then I start to break out into hives when thinking about who to pass the award onto. It's so difficult to choose. So I just close my eyes and spin around and point to my blogging friends names randomly. You are all deserving and I've never been good at picking. It reminds me of grade school when I was team captain and had to pick who was on my team, very difficult!

Anyway, my sweet friend Sasha (who I believe we have been friends since about the beginning of this blog) gave me this award.

Here is the description -

"These blogs are exceedingly charming. These kind of bloggers aim to find and be friends. They are not interested in self-aggrandizement. Our hope is that when the ribbons of these prizes are cut, even more friendships are propagated.Please give more attention to these writers."

Isn't that neat? And I've noticed recently some of my blogging friends are now blogging friends with some of my other friends. I'm not sure I was the link, but it's neat to think of this big circle of friends out there. Thank you Sasha!

Okay I pass this on to...I'm spinning....

Connie at Smockity Frocks

Karyn at The Teakettle Corner

The next award came from Karyn at The Teakettle Corner.
I feel honored that not only do I have friends out there, but as a writer that I have people who actually enjoy reading my ramblings!

I'm getting dizzy, but here are some lovely blogs you should check out:

Pat at Pat's Place
Terri at Terri Tiffany Inspirational Writer
Sasha at Cherished Moments

Okay, enough spinning for today. Thank you to all my beautiful blogging buddies!!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Soph's World

When I was a kid I had a wonderful imagination. In fact, I don't ever remember being bored. If nothing was going on I could curl up with a book and find myself immersed in a new world. If I had a piece of paper, I could make up my own story. Daydreaming was a favorite past time, even in the middle of Algebra class. Oh, and I took that class twice by the way.

Sometimes now that I am all grown up life gets in the way of my imagination and daydreams. Luckily though, I have kids who help me take a break from the real world and I'm able to immerse myself in the land of make-believe.

Soph is my middle child and she is a dreamer. Has been since she was very small. I recognize that trait in her just as easily as I recognize the ability of my oldest to finish math facts at an amazing speed. Some might call Soph a loner, but I know better. She is never alone. She is surrounded by all the characters she makes up in her head. She doesn't feel the need to talk very much around others because she is too busy observing and absorbing her surroundings.

She often asks questions like, "How do you feel being a mother?", "What do you think it would feel like to be in a rocket going to the moon?"and "What did people eat 200 years ago?". She's a thinker.

Her world is not black and white. Instead it is a kaleidoscope of colors which twist and twirl together exploding with points of light. This gives her the ability to view her surroundings with curiosity and wonder.

She constantly drags me into her world of make-believe. I'm not complaining though, it helps to me to see things from different perspectives. And for a writer, seeing things in different lights is essential. She helps me to exercise my imagination. I feel very privileged to view the world through her eyes every once in awhile. Lucky me.

So what or who triggers your imagination?

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

A Challenge For All Wives

My friend Aimee recently celebrated her 13th wedding Anniversary by posting 100 things she loves about her husband on her blog. It was very sweet. It reminded me of a group I started on Facebook titled, "I love my husband". This group was inspired by a t-shirt a good friend of mine had on one day with the same words on it. The t-shirt was inspired by the movie Fireproof. If you haven't seen it it is worth checking out. Anyway, I have the same t-shirt now and I decided to start the group for several reasons.

When my friend wore the t-shirt one day she was confronted by some people asking her "Really?" or making some general statement about their husband's ability to drive them nuts, etc. Don't you know people like this who have hardened their hearts towards the one person they stood up with and vowed to love for the rest of their lives? Or what about the couple that has forgotten they are bonded together through the love of God and that God is an active participant in their marriage? I think most of us have been there at one time or another, even if for just a brief moment.

So what are we to do? Life is busy. You have housework and laundry to do, kids to raise, bills to pay, and the list goes on and on. Sometimes you may only say a few words to your husband each evening before falling into bed exhausted. So here is the challenge. Show him how much he is loved each day. For some of us that may mean cooking his favorite dinner or sending him off for a day of golf guilt-free. Maybe you could make a list like my friend Aimee. Since writing is my thing, I've decided to post a little story about some of the times that WB has made me feel like the luckiest girl on the planet.

What are some ways you celebrate your husband and your marriage?

Monday, May 18, 2009

Memorable Moments Monday...Completing Circles

Sunday morning was a very joyous occasion here at Cotton-Top hills, because WB was spending the morning with his family. The first in 19 days! He made his girls broiled grapefruit and the girls and I made him biscuits and bacon. As we joined hands for the blessing our circle was complete.

During mass we celebrated the baptism of a sweet little baby girl and our graduating seniors. At first I wondered who scheduled both for the same mass, makes a very lengthy service to celebrate both. I watched the precious baby being blessed with holy water, as her young parents held her protectively and smiled. Then I watched the young men and women in their graduation caps and gowns sitting together, ready to venture out on their own. Their proud parents scattered throughout the church, smiling from a distance. I realized that whoever planned this mass knew what they were doing, for the circle was complete.

That night as I passed by the empty crib that is awaiting pick-up by a family that is expecting their baby this week, I felt a little sad. I walked into Em and Soph's room where they were sound asleep, a tangle of arms and legs since they insist on sleeping together on the bottom bunk. Next I checked out Little One sleeping in her big bed, small hand tucked under her chin peacefully sleeping. Soon our house would be cribless...another circle completed I suppose.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Awe-Summ Award

My friend Aimee gave me this award a while back and I'm just now getting around to posting it. Sorry Aimee! Here's the rules:
List 7 things that make you Awe-Summ and then pass the award on to 7 bloggers you love.
Make sure to tag your recipients and let them know they have won!
Also link back to the Queen that tagged you.
Okay, well here I go:
1. My awe-summ kids. They are such a joy, and I love them even when they are sassy to their mom!
2. My awe-summ hubby. WB you complete me.
3. My awe-summ God. You are an awesome God!
4. My awe-summ family. I'm a lucky gal to be surrounded by such an awe-summ group of people.
5. My awe-summ friends.
6. That I'm able to stay home and take care of my family full time.
7. My ability to get teary-eyed over a Hallmark commercial. You know that is an awe=summ trait.
Okay, you know how I am with these awards. I can't pick just 7 of you to carry this on. I'd hate for just one person to go to bed conflicted over why I didn't chose them. I wouldn't want to be the cause of anyones sleepless nights. So I would love to hear what makes you awe-summ, just let me know so I can come check it out:)

Thursday, May 14, 2009

How My Life Has Changed...

Every once in awhile I think about what might have been. I usually don't dwell on them anymore because I am happy with where I am and the path I've chosen. But sometimes I can't help but think where I might be now if something like say, my pregnancy with my third child hadn't have happened. Let me share where I was almost three years ago:


I was an aspiring writer. I'd dabbled with writing children's stories, but left that behind to write a novel. A romance, a historical romance or maybe contemporary. My story kept changing as I tried to figure out my "voice". I love to read historical romances, so imagine my absolute delight at getting to take a writer's class at WT taught by none other than Jodi Thomas. It was thrilling. Even though it was over an hour drive to class once a week, at night, I endured. Well, my family endured too. WB and the girls would shove me out the door each night or sometimes they would come along for the ride. I had thier support. That class led to many other opportunities and I found myself immersed in the writer's world. I was in a critique group, more classes, local meetings, etc. I always had to drive at least an hour to get to these gatherings, but I was determined.

Then I took on the director job at my children's private dayschool. I had been teaching and helping out in the office, but this was a huge responsibility. I almost didn't take it. I even told the President of the school board it could not interfer with my writing. I had a goal to finish, my now contemporary romance novel, and nothing was going to get in my way! They respected my determination and so I took the job.

Suddenly, I found myself working until 9 or 10 at night, leaving dinner and bedtime to WB. The job that was to keep me close to my kids, was actually keeping me from my kids. I found myself too tired for my late night writing. I found myself floundering, but still determined.

I signed up to go to the Romance Writer's Conference in Atlanta. I had hoped to have my novel finished so I could try to find an editor or agent. My novel wasn't finished, but I was going, no matter what!

One week before leaving for my trip, I felt a little strange. I took a pregnancy test just to rule that possibility out. Much to my surprise it was positive. I took two more tests. The lady at the drugstore looked at me a little funny the third time I walked in for a test. I even got the test that says "Pregnant or Not Pregnant". Sort of the pregnancy test for dummy's I suppose, but that was me. Oh, and did I tell you I just happened to be in Houston. WB was back home working and the girls and I drove down to my parent's. My parent's would be taking care of the kids and my friend would be flying into Houston to meet me for our road trip.

Staring at the positive test I realized quickly two things. One I would not be schmoozing any agents at the bar and two my life was going to have to take a drastic turn. But I was going to the conference.

I should have not gone. I was miserable. Our road trip was way too long, my morning sickness reared it's ugly head, and I just felt a little disgusted by the very young agents who sat at the bar talking in such a way that I wanted to wash their mouths out with soap and yet they were who I had to convince to like my writing. There were good things though. I got to listen to one of my favorite authors talk, Julie Garwood. I was able to go to the RITA awards and watch Jodi win yet another RITA that earned her a place in the Hall of Fame. Later, I sat at a small table with her as people stopped by to congratulate her. It was one of those once in a lifetime experiences. I was an awe of the industry, but not in love with it.

The next year flew by. My writing friends faded into the distance. My trip mate never did respond to any of my e-mails after the event. Not that I can blame her, I think the long trip along with the sick roommate would have driven anyone to the edge. WB and I bought a larger house an hour away and slowly moved into it on the weekends. I was hospitalized for severe dehydration a month after the conference, on the verge of kidney failure, and yet still made phone calls from my hospital bed dealing with my director job. All the while this new life was growing inside of me.

Somewhere between the moving, school board meetings, and the gentle kicks from the new one inside of me I saw the light. God spoke to me clearly. Now was not my time to be a novelist or to be a school director. Now was the time to be a wife, a mother to my two daughters and the one on the way. I hung up my director's cap in December, put my laptop away and moved with my family into our new house at Christmas. I was celebrating not only the birth of Jesus, but the birth of a new me.

The transformation is ongoing. I've realized that voice in my ear will speak softly at first and then get louder and louder if I ignore it. I don't always follow the directions God gives me, but when I do I find the path is much easier.

So today I'm still writing. Not the hot and heavy love scenes I was told I needed to have in my book to make it sel,l but a rather tame column titled "In The Spirit Of Family" in our little community paper. I have to admit I get a little thrill when people stop me and say they love my column. I can almost call myself a writer. I've been a member of a internet writing group who have supported me for the last ten years, through it all. This blog has been wonderful as well. When just one person comments that something I have written about has touched them I feel one step closer to being able to call myself a professional author. I've always said if I can touch just one person with my writing I will feel successful, so in a way I know I've done that.

Now when I read about my former critique buddies and how they have a booming publishing business, nice big houses, and go on business trips to Hawaii I am truly excited and happy for them. They've worked hard to get there. But I don't wonder what if any more because I know that trips to exotic places without my kids would just make me miss them, big houses without the sound of giggles and six little feet pattering around would feel empty, and a business that took me away from my family would be miserable for me.

At that conference back in Atlanta I joined Jodi one morning. I think she sensed my conflicting emotions about the timing of my pregnancy and she told me this, "Children are a blessing. You may regret many things in this life, but your children will never be one of them." How true this is. I can't imagine my life without my girls, and thank goodness God knew what an enormous blessing my third little bundle of joy would be.

And, well, that's where I am today.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Family History Scrapbook

I have always been fascinated with geneolagy. My mother-in-law Pat does a wonderful job of researching and documenting the lives of WB's family and ancestors. We have many wonderful short booklets about family members that include stories and pictures. A few years ago when my grandparents passed away their belongings were split between the three siblings. I worried that some of the history of these pieces and precious treasures would be lost on future generations. So I've started taking pictures of my mother's items and am working on putting them in a photo album for her to identify and tell any information she remembers about it.

For instance this clock:
The story goes that back when my mother was a little girl living on the family farm that a neighbor needed some bricks for a project back at his place. My grandfather just happened to have a pile of bricks so he rolled a wheelbarrow full of bricks over to his neighbors and came home with this clock. It was how the man paid my grandfather for the bricks. Now, I wish I had heard the story first hand, so I could have badgered my grandfather for the details. Like why did you have bricks laying around, where did the man get the clock, etc. But at least I will have this story to pass down with the clock.

My mother--in-law tapes pieces of paper to the back of family pieces telling who it belonged to and maybe a little something special about it. This is a quick and easy way to perserve the history of the piece.

For more helpful tips go to We Are That Family

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

My Big News

So I've been hinting that I have some big news. News that is going to change our lives here at Cotton-Top Hills. The huge, exciting news is that next year we will be homeschooling! Oh, it's such a relief to have that off my chest. We've been praying about it, discussing it, mulling it over now for the whole school year. Really, it's been on my mind since my children started school. Anyway, it has been a journey. I'm not sure where it is going to take us. Em, says she would like to go to high school, so for now we will just take it one year at a time. I figure God will guide us where we need to go.

I've been burying myself in research for curriculum, picking the brains of my friends, like my former neighbor Connie, and trying to get organized for next year. Really, it is exciting. I think I'm as ready as the kids to be done with this school year so we can move on. Having said that, I hope we stay in touch with all the dear friends we have made over the last two and a half years at Em and Soph's school. We've been blessed with some really special friends and I would be sad if we lost touch.

I'm also hoping to either add on to this blog or start a new blog about our homeschooling adventures. The girls would like to journal their thoughts and feelings about the change. We're all about keeping it real. I might even let them tell you what an ogre I can be when I'm trying to teach them about fractions or some such thing. I'd like to share each step with you all, because someone else out there might benefit from hearing our story. Just like my blogging friends who touch my life each day with their stories.

Anyway, I'm full of hope and excitement as we turn the pages on the next phase of our life. God is definitely at work here at Cotton-Top Hills! I can't wait to share it with you. Oh, and I'd be happy for any advice for those already homeschooling:)

Monday, May 11, 2009

Memorable Monday...Week of Busy Activities

My parents came to visit last week and we had a blast! It was full of lunches out (my oven is still broken), trips to the zoo, lingering over gorgeous fabrics at the quilt store, sewing, gardening, organizing and lots of family fun. They left today and it is definitely a little lonely around here, but I'm so happy for the time we got to spend together.

Gram and Little One during our zoo outing.

Gramp and Little One checking out the monkeys.

Gram and Little One doing some cooking on Derby Day.

Mother's Day Lunch
At Cadillac Ranch...we just had to do what the tourists do!

The week was full of memorable moments, each day is truly a blessing. Oh, and tomorrow I'm going to share my big news. I know you all are sitting on the edge of your seat to hear all about it:)

Friday, May 8, 2009

It's May Already?

Where does the time go? I last posted in April and here it is already May! I had every intention of posting several times between the end of April and now, and well I had issues. First my WFMW post was all about a picture, a picture that mysteriously disappeared from my camera. Quick call to Mom and she found she had it on her computer, but it wouldn't let her send it to me. Is anyone thinking conspiracy? I heard that...did someone call me paranoid? Not me!

Then I wrote a new post in my head while cleaning my house frantically before my parents visit, while watching my daughter at her track meet, while driving get the idea. But I never actually sat down to type them onto the computer. Could someone design a device that would just take the thoughts from my head and automatically post them to my blog? That would be very handy.

Then I retrieved my picture from my mom's computer and went to post my WFMW post this week and guess what? It was a frugal theme and my post was not about frugality! Darn. And no time to write a frugal post because I spent all my time trying to get my wireless connection to work.

Well, and here I am. I should be in bed, but instead I am writing this post that I hadn't even planned, but am determined to do because I can't stand to see that I have no posts listed under May! Okay, I'm finished. But as soon as I get some sleep and actually get on the computer and it works, I have news. Some big news! Some news that will change our lives here at Cotton-Top Hills. I just can't wait to share it. Be back soon I promise, unless my conspiracy theory is right and someone out there is trying to keep me from blogging. In that case, it might be awhile.