Hello from the Pits of Stagnation!

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Okay, slight hyperbole.

I had meant to have so much up on the blog this past month.  Another small round of Dollar Tree Gift Basket ideas.  Updates graphic organizers, including holiday/gift giving ones.  A personal guide to planners.  Thoughts on the upcoming holidays.  The debut of my DeviantArt, where I hope to store my weekly sketches as I continue my journey to become semi-competent with a pen and pencil.

Sadly, between my new program at work being incredibly draining (but also a lot of fun and so satisfying), last minute holiday prep, Bear’s birthday, and the stomach flu running through both my classroom and my family (Bear still has no appetite, and is now coughing himself to the dry (and not-so-dry) heaves), and I haven’t updated in nearly three weeks.

I mean, sorry?  But while I want writing about my life to be a priority, living my life comes first.  So, sorry-not-sorry (but also kinda sorry), I guess.

I’ll be working the remainder of the week to create a queue to carry the blog through the holidays, and will take some time over break to develop a more regular posting schedule.  Until then, I hope your run up to the holidays has been more enjoyable and less filled with toddler puke than mine has been.

Take care, everyone.

Fri-day, Fri-yay: November 30th, 2018

& (1)I made it!  I don’t talk much about work, but I went through a substantial change at work this past week that I was not negative, bus was (as I said) a big change and, subsequently, incredibly stressful.  I’m immensely glad for the weekend, and for celebrating Bear’s 4th birthday tomorrow with some friends and family.

Things carrying me along this week:

I just discovered Sugar Rush on Netflix and I’m so upset that it’s only eight episodes!  It doesn’t have quite the same level of drama as some of the other cooking shows I watch, but I think that’s because unlike some shows (Cutthroat Kitchen, Chopped) there’s no “bizarre” ingredients they need to add or outrageous challenges they need to overcome, and unlike others (Worst Cooks in America, Nailed It), the contestants are professionals.  The biggest obstacle is the time limit, but still — the cakes they make!  Ahhh!  I’ve been a Cutthroat and Chopped fan for a while, but I’m seriously grooving hard on baking shows lately.  Well done cakes are just so damn aesthetically pleasing.

Also – speaking of Netflix – if you have kids, you should think about checking out Brain Child and The Who Was? Show Both of them are ostensibly “too old” for my son, but he asked me to put them on,, and he’s watched them both a dozen times now.  He can now talk quite authoritatively about germs, human cells, and the sleep cycle, so that’s cool.  I find them genuinely funny and charming, too, which is again, icing on the cake (I’ll tolerate a lot if my son likes a show and I can see educational value it it, but some of them are grating as hell.  These aren’t (I mean, your mileage may vary, but I sincerely like them)).

Guys, I don’t even like eggnog, but I tried Winterhaven Farms Eggnog at Friendsgiving on Saturday and it is chock full of holiday goodness; “holiday goodness” here meaning rum, whiskey, and brandy.  It legit made my ears burn.  It’s not something I would recommend drinking a lot of, but I could see having a holiday party and pouring out a round or two for friends.  Given the price, I might have to buy some for myself, and I’d wager my father and brother might appreciate it as well.

I’ve got some work to do on this blog this weekend, and I’m happy with what I’ve got to share — I have updated checklists for daily life, holiday checklists and organizers, lists for kids, planner reviews and suggestions, new mail art/exchanges, and a menu options to find and read my creative writing.  I’ll go more into all that later, but I’m happy to make this a more comprehensive compendium of my life and interests.

That’s all for this week.  What’s keeping you motivated?

Friday, Fri-yay: November 23rd, 2018

& (1)I’m trying so, so hard to stay positive about some changes going on right now, guys, I really am.  I never react well to change – I adjust, of course, and I’ve learned to conceal the emotional turmoil, but while there are a few situations in which I enjoy being sort of surprised, I internally freak out and hand-wring bout disruptions in my routines and expectations.  So while I know that I will be fine, I’m a little on edge.

Here are things that are keeping me cheery and distracting me from my anxiety for a while.

I went to see Bohemian Rhapsody last weekend, and I loved it.  I know there is a significant disparity between the critic’s rating on Rotten Tomatoes (62%) versus the audience rating (92%), but I just loved seeing my boys up on the big screen.  Queen were an essential, formative part of my life growing up; I can’t explain exactly why I loved them with the intensity that I did, but Freddie and his story were a big, big part.  I could easily have sat in the theatre and nit-picked – besides owning and knowing by heart the entire Queen catalogue (including several solo albums, all the music videos, and numerous officially released and bootleg concerts), I’ve also watched four separate documentaries and read five books written about the band.  The movie is not wholly accurate, but it’s just so, so good to see “Freddie” humanized on screen.  Rami Malek is amazing, and seeing so many new fans flooding the fandom is invigorating and beautiful.  Tomorrow marks twenty-seven years since Freddie died.  If I had the budget to see the movie again tomorrow, I would.

Tomorrow we are celebrating Friendsgiving at our friend Raeanne’s house, followed by game night, which it feels like forever since we’ve done.  It’s been a pretty regular monthly occurrence for – wow – almost four years now, plus we’ve done lots of other parties and celebrations in the intervening weeks, and then more recently we ht a patch where people were busy, I guess, and so it’s been a while since we’ve gone to one.  I’m excited to hang out with Raeanne and company, and have a last culinary hurrah before I start calorie counting again (yes… that’ll be another post, but yes).

My husband and I celebrated our engagement anniversary (yes, we occassionally celebrate it, still – he calls it “Ring-a-versary”) at a place called Yujo, which is actually a really good sushi joint.  Our first date and his proposal both took place at the same sushi restaurant that has since closed down, and we had yet to really find another one we liked as much.  This one was really good, and had the strongest drinks I’ve ever had in my life.  I had one (I swear!) Long Island Iced Tea, and I was smashed.  You certainly get your money’s worth.

That’s about it for this week.  What’s been making you happy?

Five Dollar Tree Gift Basket Ideas

Yooo, Thanksgiving is over, so guess what?  It is officially socially acceptable to roll out the Christmas shizz.  Full disclosure, as I may have mentioned before, I’ve actually been in the Christmas biz for a couple of weeks now (I think I put up my decorations – minus the tree – on November 9th.  The tree will go up after Bear’s birthday party on the 1st).

I’m ahead of the game for basically the first time in my life; it’s the day after Thanksgiving, and I’m decorated, I’ve bought Christmas cards, I’ve got my card list, I’ve made an Advent activity jar and bought Bear an Advent calendar, and I’ve bought (and wrapped!!) all my gifts.  The only things I have to do now is enjoy making a Christmas play list, and enjoy the holiday.

Oh, and I thought it’d be fun to compile a few Dollar Tree Gift Basket Lists.

I’ve written before, briefly, about my love of all things Dollar Tree (and I hope to write more about it in the future!).  There are tons of DT gift suggestions around, but most of the one I’ve seen are very vague or generic.  Going to DT several times a week, plus shopping their website, means I was able to put together a few pretty specific lists.  These gift baskets will cost between $15 and $20ish, but remember, you’ll be packing them with between 15 and 20ish items!  So they’re pretty substantial gifts.

For the Wine Lover’s Gift Basket, I didn’t mention alcohol because you can’t get it at DT, but you can throw in a bottle of good-but-cheap wine (I love Barefoot myself) and put the cost of the whole basket at just a little over $20.

I hope this helps someone out there hoping to put together some cool gifts for friends or family (and remember, you can add or take away items suggestions to make bigger/smaller baskets based on your tastes and/or budget!)

Happy Thanksgiving

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Happy Thanksgiving to all those who celebrate!

As much time as I spend complaining about the little things, I have to step back and recognize how many big things I have to be thankful for.  I’ve got a good husband, a sweet son, a working car, a house we own, a decent-paying job, food on the table, and some pocket money.  That’s pretty damn good.

Hope you’re having a wonderful time with friends and family.

NaNoWriMo, Halfway Home (Update)

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My Novembers nearly always start with a zero-word-count first day.  It doesn’t matter what day of the week it falls on, whether or not I have work, whether I’ve planned or am pansting my story – I tend to start off pretty slowly, and that’s only become more true the older I’ve gotten.

So ending the first without my fingers having touched the keyboard was not shocking or worrying.  By Day Three, I was caught up again, and maintained or exceeded quota through the 9th before finally hitting a wall.  So, I consciously took a break – I posted about the dilemma I was having to the NaNo Forums and got some feedback, and spent the night reviewing the notes I’d made prior to the start of the month.  Two days later, feeling refreshed, I sat down and plucked out a quick and easy 1,200 words.

And I haven’t written since.

Why?  Typical stuff.  I have other responsibilities.  I have no time.  I feel like death warmed over most days, and the emotional energy expended to create often feels disproportion from the satisfaction derived from forcing myself to sit down and create.

And… I’m okay with it.

And I’m not giving up.

There’s no way I’m going to hit 50k.  It’s not going to happen, and please do not come at me with posts of encouragement about how I’m being defeatist in saying that.  I know myself, my family, and my schedule.  I’ll never catch up.

But that’s okay.

I’ve won NaNo before; I’ve hit 50k on November 30th before.  I’ve also proven to myself – last month across two challenges, and in a previous iteration of this blog during the A-to-Z Challenge – that I can sit and create something everyday.  I feel no need to prove to myself or anyone else that I can  write everyday.  I’ve proven it already.  More than once.

But despite winning NaNoWriMo by word count, I’ve never actually finished a story, and I don’t mean I’ve never sat down and cleaned up a first draft – I mean I’ve never finished the first draft.  I pushed myself to write everyday and I was generating words for the sake of words, and by the end of the month, I’d inevitably lost my interest in the story I was writing.* Forcing it made me resent it.  Forcing it made me hypercritical.

This year, after allowing myself that two day grace period?  Going back and continuing it was fun.  It was enjoyable.  And now, a week later – having written nothing in that time – I’m still looking forward to going back and working on the story.

NaNoWriMo has given me the impetus to sit and start a story, which is and always has been the hardest part of any project for me – initiating it.  It gave me momentum to sit and crank something out every night for several days.  I’ve got 12k or something I’m actually still pretty excited about, or at least having fun with.

Will I finish it this month?  Probably not.  Will it be a novel?  Probably not, though I never really expected it to be (I’m not a novel writer; this year is a rare departure from Rebelling for me).

But will I continue the story?  Definitely.

Will a finish it?  Actually, yeah, I might.

Am I having fun with it?  Yeah.  Yeah, I am.

I hope you are all getting something worthwhile out of NaNo, be it a satisfying word count, a great story, a sense of satisfaction at meeting a goal, or just a fun hour or two to yourself each night playing in your literary sandbox.

I’ll update you as to where I am at the end of the month.  I might not be at 50k, but I’m excited to see how far I’ll have come.


*  There are two exceptions to this; one was my 2016 novel, To Catch the Falling, which I was really enjoying writing (though when I read it over a few weeks later, I realized that it was riddled with plot holes and so much, just, extraneous grabage); and by 2005 novel Thirst which was so, so rambling and melodramatic and self-indulgent and went nowhere, but man, did I have a friggin’ blast writing that thing.  I’ve long since lost it, and I legit think about it regretfully every subsequent year during November.

Friday, Fri-yay: November 9th, 2018

& (1)Oh guys, this… has been a draining week.  Nothing bad has happened, but everything that’s happened has been emotionally charged and has tested my anxiety to the limit.  With that in mind, I’ve got to stop and reflect on the little positive things that have been keeping me grounded.

First, I have a three day weekend – and a well-deserved one, if I do say so.  Monday is Veteran’s Day, and I legitimately forgot that I had the day off until mid-way through the morning yesterday (at which point I made a triumphant Facebook post because i couldn’t contain my sheer joy).  I plan on playing with Bear, reading, and catching up on NaNoWriMo.  I will also be tearing the house apart and doing a deep-cleaning, because…

…We finally bought a carpet cleaner!  I feel like it’s time for a sequel to my Ways I Know I’m Getting Old post, because I feel like the level of sheer joy and excitement I felt upon purchasing the carpet cleaner makes me officially Old (or puts me at Peak Parent Mode, at least).  But the one thing I’ve hated about this house almost since the moment we moved in is how filthy the carpet got, and how fast (though what did I expect with cafe au lait colored carpets and a toddler?)  We were going to just rent a cleaner, but Amazong was having a sale and the Bissel cleaner we got cost $75, and it would cost us $34 just for a one time rental from Home Depot.  The decision was easy.  I’m so excited.

I’ve also been starting to poke my head around AuthorTube, which is the section of YouTube populated by authors and aspiring authors.  I’ve started doing vlog style videos about my NaNoWriMo experience, and I’m trying to find time to watch and interact with others doing the same thing, hoping to create a habit that will sustain through November and beyond.  It looks like a nice community and I’m hoping to find a groove that allows me to be active in it.

Also – Christmas!  Dollar Tree Haulers are doing holiday hauls and DIYs, the stores are filled to the brim with Christmas stuff, and I’m getting ready to bring up all my holiday decor (and buying a ton of it from Dollar Tree and Target).  I’ve said on an earlier iteration of this blog that I understand why some people are put off by the earlier and earlier onset of the Christmas season — people who don’t celebrate/celebrate different holidays, people who have family issues exacerbated by the holidays, people who just prefer to celebrate one holiday at a time — and those are all valid complaints.  And I do agree that we are hauling out Christmas waaay too early — I saw some on display prior to Halloween — but for my own personal celebration, this is the time of year I start prepping.  Christmas makes me happy, and I’m going to do what makes me happy, okay?

I also just finished the book adaptation of Alice Isn’t Dead, and oh my gosh, I loved it.  It’s so… relevant?  So… visceral?  So refreshing to see a queer female protagonist with anxiety who uses that anxiety as a weapon and it totally works??  It’s such a good story, and I love Keisha’s character so much, and I know I speak only for myself, but this was such a well-written female character written by a male author, and some male authors could take lessons on this from Joseph Fink.

I desperately want to include NaNoWriMo on here, but that’s a little more complicated; I’ll probably have a post about it later, though.

What’s kept you afloat this week?