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2017 Goals

  • write to my grandmother every six weeks or so
  • call my moms every month or so
  • cook/eat better
  • clean out and organize my writng/craft room
  • re-institute the cleaning plan
  • publish six books by September 2017
  • reach 120 to 125 pounds
  • walk the dog three times a week

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Thursday, December 30, 2010

Bring on 2011!

The year started bad, was awful most of the way through, and ended bad. I can't recall ever feeling so relieved that a year was over. I have dubbed it the 'year from hell.'

Things can only get better right? (I suppose they could get worse, but we're thinking positively here.)

"They" say the economy is finally starting to improve, so hopefully some of that will trickle our way so that at the very least we keep our heads above water.

I don't have any real resolutions as the new year looms. Mostly to get back to eating better, cut back on the sugar and the carbs and eat more protein. And exercise. I need to start walking again, but when it gets too nippy around here--I hate being cold--then my motivation to do that drops to zero. I'll have to start up with our Wii again. There's an aerobics section--I can plug my ear buds in and listen to my music and do a little step aerobics. There's also some Yoga moves in there. I do some of those for stretching and conditioning purposes.

Of course, the biggest question is: when? When can I carve out 10 to 15 to 20 minutes to do this? Early morning does not appeal to me at all, though I do get up early every day. But that's my quiet writing time. By the end of the day, I'm ready to relax. So I guess that means lunch time...we'll see if I can arrange that.

So here's to a better, healthier, more prosperous new year for us all.
Thursday, December 23, 2010

It's Christmas, Charlie Brown

Yes, I have completed my annual watching of this classic Christmas cartoon. Although I have done none of my other traditional activities such as the Redneck Gingerbread House (this from '05):

(That's GI Snow on the left there--our minuscule attempt at honoring the men and women of the U.S. Armed Forces.)

Shopping is 99% complete--with 1.5 days to spare. Wrapping is in progress. Plans are set.

Whew!

All that's really left is to drive down Friday afternoon with presents, stuffed stockings and stinky dogs smushed into our Scion xB. Hmmm...

We'll be spending Christmas eve at my mother-in-law's house (about 12 m. east of the fireworks store) and then spending Christmas day at the store (a new tradition in the making).

Merry Christmas to all...
Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Down to the wire...

Only three days until Christmas and I am not done shopping. This is unusual for me as by this point, I am done shopping and spend the last few days off my feet, wrapping and watching/re-watching favorite movies and TV shows. All gifts, save the annual ornament, have been purchased for one DD; hubby is about halfway done and I know what I want to buy for the other half; Marching Band Boy has two things so far. His big gift is a cell phone, but until I buy that, I don't know how much I have left for the rest of his miscellaneous gifts. (Each person is assigned a $$ value; the kids' are higher than hubby's or mine.)

And there are stocking stuffers--not so easy any more. All that's left is candy, which I hate to do. Girls are easier than boys since we always need new hair stuff, makeup or nail care products. Either way, it is easy to spend another couple of hundred dollars putting decent stuff in those suckers. Maybe my sister has the right idea about no stockings. But I guess it's a little late now. :)

Today I will be leaving the office for a couple of hours to try and get hubby's gifts all bought. I may even buy MBB's cell phone. And it's all downhill from there. I think I'm going to end up doing a late night to super WalMart for the rest.

Marry Christmas to all!
Wednesday, December 15, 2010

A reprieve...

No event this coming Saturday. It was postponed for three weeks. Whew!

So this morning, I went into the local grocery store on my way to work to purchase lunch for hubby and myself. I bought two things and two things only. My receipt is -- no joke -- 16.5 inches long. Maybe if they didn't add all kinds of crap to the receipt I *never* read they wouldn't have to spend so much money on replacement rolls. Or better yet, why don't they (like the gas stations) ask me if I even want my receipt. Most of the time, I'd say no.

On a scale of 1 to 10, one being bad and ten being good, I'd have to rank today a 2. I think.

Hope your day is going better than mine.
Monday, December 13, 2010

No Rest for the Weary/Wicked...

Today is the ninth day on my own. And between all the work at work and the weekend activities, I am exhausted and there's no real rest to be had for some time to come.

This past Saturday was my writing chapter's Christmas party, which was fun. Before and after that I had laundry to do as I had not done it in two weeks and certain family members were starting to feel the hardship. Sunday, I had to work the Dallas Cowboys Stadium.

I thought I was going to get some down time as we didn't have to report the stadium until 1:30, but...hubby had gotten up in the wee hours with a rumbly tummy and woke up when I got up and then marching band boy awakened shortly thereafter. No quiet time to write then. They boys took their own sweet time getting the heck out of the house but by that time DD and I needed to make a trip to a store to find a specific item or two for the band director's Christmas gift bag, not to mention a bit of chocolate to put in all the band kids' goody bags. Back to home to assemble goody bags and rest before work. But I'd miscalculated the number of kids and we needed more candy. So DD drove back to the store while I lay on the sofa and watched an episode of Stargate: Atlantis and rested.

Today, DD will be baking 160+ so snicker doodles to go into the goody bags (4 cookies each x 40, plus the band director and extras for the family). They will be handed out tonight after the band concert.

But that means another late-ish night although not as late as last night ( 11:30). I couldn't even get up early this morning to write...I was too exhausted.

December is my least favorite month of the year for myriad reasons. And this year is more crazy than usual when I really need it to be less crazy. At least it only lasts for 31 days. Twelve down, nineteen to go...bah!

Hope your Christmas or Hanukkah preparations are going smoothly. :)
Monday, December 6, 2010

Whew!

Fourteen hours in a car in one day is not fun, but I survived and am now very glad I went on this particular road trip. Usually, I love going to Corpus Christi--the USS Lexington Museum is there and I admit to a little love affair with the ship and the main period of history it represents (WWII). This time, no Lexington. Instead, I visited a drug rehab center.

I admit I didn't want to go. I didn't want to waste my day on a place I didn't want to spend my hard-earned money for something I didn't believe would help my child. Not that the rehab center couldn't do it's job, but I felt/feel as if my daughter does not want to be helped at the moment and I don't want to spend the money if she's not going to put her all into the program and into getting better. I just can't afford for that money to be wasted because she thinks rehab is the lesser of two evils.

But the facility was very nice--they recently moved into a former small hotel and have/are refurbishing it. It's been in business for over 40 years and many of the staff and volunteers are former clients who are paying it forward. While waiting for the gal who was supposed to give us the tour, we actually spoke with one of the workers who had been a client about three years ago. She said she'd lost everything--her family, her job, a place to live. Sounds like my daughter, except she didn't lose her family, she pushed us away. She said for her it took 45 days at the center. And she told us that most people don't want to be there at first and they are either very scared or very angry about it, but after they get a few days into it, they settle down. Anyway, long story short, much of what she said really made a difference to me in feeling that even if DD goes in not wanting to get clean, that there's a good chance she'll get an attitude adjustment and find that it's really not such a bad place and can--if she makes a concerted effort--get better and find a clean, productive life on the other side.

What I don't think she's really accepted yet is that this is probably her last chance. If she messes it up, there's nothing else we can do. She will have made her bed and then she will have to lie in it.
Friday, December 3, 2010

BWAH

It's shaping up to be a not-so-good day. It's just a feeling and I hope I'm wrong because I'm starting to feel a bit stressed.

Today is day three on my own. It hasn't been too bad, to be honest. I answered a fair share of phone calls yesterday and one of our techs was out yesterday so everything fell to the other. The tech is out again today and we have one client who will be especially cranky to hear that. Hubby is going to have to take care of her issue.

On top of answering phones, I've actually worked most of the day the past two days. I've taken stolen moments to do personal things, but with payday (the 1st) there's extra tasks involved and I now that it is just me, I can't afford to put things off or get behind.

I know you might be thinking, "oh, poor baby actually has to work." And I'm not really complaining, I'm just not used to having that many things to remember to do in a day. It'll get easier each day as I develop a new routine and integrate these new tasks.

In addition to that, I have to work Cowboy's Stadium tomorrow. I'm not really looking forward to that, but that's okay. It's not that I mind doing it--only that it chews up nine hours of a day and by the end I'm completely exhausted and can hardly do much else.

On Sunday I may have to make a whirlwind trip out of town to check out a drug rehab facility for my oldest DD. A seven hour drive one way. So I may really have no weekend. :(
Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Just me...

We let a couple of people go. I mean that technically we fired them. But that just has bad connotations to me. Although for the most part I dislike using euphemisms (most especially 'passed away' in place of 'died'), but I digress...

We just couldn't afford to pay them, so we...let them go. (My jury is still out on that. The wording, not the deed.)

Regardless, I now have to answer the phones. UGH! I hate answering the phones. I no longer have a gate keeper. I have become the gate keeper. nonononono...

I also have to clean the office, but I think I'm going to pay DD to do that. She could use the money.

Oh, and in honor of the month and the season, see new icon. I loves Christmas lights. Don't know why, but I do, and have inadvertently, now vertently (is that a word?), been collecting them.

And, no, vertant or advertant are not real words. Doncha just love the English language? :)
Tuesday, November 30, 2010

I have my work cut out for me...

I spent some time yesterday putting together a list of all my unfinished (but would like to finish) fan fics. Some have higher priority than others. Some have been waiting so long already, what's a few more weeks or months or years?

Those two weeks I mentioned yesterday? My plan for my time is to write and get some of these stories finished. I realize every author probably has a few projects that will always remain unfinished, but some of these are so close I don't know why they're not actually finished.

"What about your original works-in-progress?" you might be wondering... Yeah, yeah...not nearly as fun or easy to write. My desire to work on them waxes and wanes with the seasons and I'm back in the "I don't know if I really want to pursue publication" mindset. That could be due to personal issues. Writing for real is work. Writing for fun is fun and provides a way to escape for a time. So who knows about all those original WIPs. I suppose eventually they'll get finished, too. But then again, who knows... :)
Monday, November 29, 2010

Mission Accomplished--

I had one major goal for the four-day holiday weekend:

Finish chapter 34 of my epic Robin Hood fanfic.

And I did it. After several major re-writes, I finished it (all 2700 words minus 2 of it) Sunday morning before noon and then put it aside to read later with a fairly fresh eye before sending it off to my wonderful beta-reader.

My openoffice.org word processing software sucks and its spell-check isn't turned on, so I'll read it this morning in MS Word before sending it along to catch any misspelled or missing words. Reading my work on two different computers and in two very different programs is very helpful for that. And that's all the credit that other software gets. :P

~*~

The countdown's on...eighteen days until hubby and son are off on their bi-annual stay at our fireworks store. This leaves DD and I and the dogs home on our own. This is a time when I get the bed to myself for two straight weeks. And I can snore my fool head off without being jiggled awake every once in a while. I won't have to make the bed or clear off his half from clean laundry or other stuff so he can sleep.

Over the next eighteen days, I will get the house C-L-E-A-N so I don't have to do but the basics. DD and I will talk about what we want to eat while the boys are gone--less cooking or things the men don't like. Either way, it's win-win.

I'll lose a few days to working the Dallas Cowboys Stadium and a couple to Christmas and to actually working the store on the 30th & 31st. Oh, and then there'll be Christmas shopping, but I think I'm going to delegate most of that to DD!! Then all I have to do is shop for her. Oh, yeah, I'm liking that idea.

And the rest of the days are mine. I can stay up late or get up early or both or neither. :) I don't have to consider my other half.

~*~

After a year and a half, I have finally had pumpkin cake! Heavenly! Although, I will admit I don't need as much frosting as I used to. But the cake itself was just lovely.
Friday, November 26, 2010

Craftiness at Half Off!

So I decided to go to Hobby Lobby today. I was hoping that despite it being black Friday, the craft store at 11:30 am would no longer be jam packed.

Well, it hadn't been jam packed at all according to the cashier, but regardless of the crowd, everything I bought, except one item, was 50% off. The one item was 30% off! So $73 worth of stuff for $36. Woo Hoo!! It was as if my trip was meant to be. :)

I decided to make little goodie bags for all the band kids and I wanted to include an ornament with their name and the year. We had all the other little things going into the bag, save the home made cookies, except the ornaments. We (DD and I) wanted something pretty easy to make, hence the trip to the craft store.

First stop, the wood section, hoping for a lot of something we could easily paint and decorate for 34 kids. No such luck. But when we went over to the Christmas section, we hit the jackpot. Letter ornaments--four different Christmassy designs. We ran into trouble with Ms though. There are five kids whose names start with M, but we could only find three of the four patterns, so unfortunately we have to have two dupes there. But the best part was they were only 49 cents each after the discount!!! Woot!!

So all that's left to do is personalize each one, bake the cookies and put the little goodie bags together. And deliver them of course. Can't wait to see their faces and collect all their hugs!

So Parade of Lights tonight downtown and then back home to work on these ornaments. This is one of the parts of Christmas I love the most--the unexpected giving and the reactions of the receivers.

What's your favorite part of Christmas?
Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Daddy's Little Girl

My dad died one year ago today, and in remembrance of him, I'd like to offer this...


Hmm...

I'm an aunt again for the seventh time. It's a boy, my third nephew. (Phew)

He was born yesterday (11.23) around 4/4:30pm CST, weighing in at 6lbs., 14oz.

Name: Austin James--although that's not the correct spelling for Austin. I think my sister used a y somewhere instead.

I'm not all that excited about this kid, to be honest, for various reasons.

~

My daddy died one year ago today. (Part of the *meh* surrounding my newest nephew, I think.)

~

I am wearing summer clothes to work the day before Thanksgiving. Even in Texas that's a bit odd. :)

~

My current fanfic-in-progress is finally moving along again. I was able to get quite a bit written yesterday and last night, I spent a few minutes outlining what still needs to happen. I had actually written some of the end bits some time ago and then recently I'd written some more whilst trying to overcome the struggle I was having with the current chapter. So I think, with all the alone time I'll be enjoying soon, I'll be able to finally get this story finished by the end of the year.

I'm definitely ready to have that story behind me so I can focus on other writing projects.

~

To cook or not to cook...we have decided to accept our invite to Thanksgiving dinner. However, I have already started defrosting my own turkey and will cook it on Saturday. I've had this thing for almost a year now. It needs to be eaten. Of course, it may not be suitable for cooking/eating after being in the freezer that long. If that's the case, I'll just go buy another another one.

One of these days, my children are going to start coming to my house for holiday meals and I'm woefully out of practice. As I mentioned a few days ago, I think I've cooked a holiday meal only once or twice since I've been married. I'm not complaining at all, but it's time I developed my own techniques and menu.

On that note, Happy Thanksgiving to one and all.
Monday, November 22, 2010

Progress...

...not really on the writing front, although I did get a bit done Saturday afternoon. Just not as much as I would have liked.

But I did finally get those last two sections of hallway wall washed down. *yay*

Our oldest daughter moved out last June and her room has been sitting empty since then. It has sort of become known as the dog room since the dogs' water bowl and their beds have moved in there. I hadn't wanted to re-do the room too soon on the off chance, daughter wanted to come home, but with each passing day and some new developments, that's unlikely for quite some time.

Hubby and Sonshine will be away for 2.5 weeks over the Christmas holiday working our fireworks store. In years past, I have usually taken on some sort of household project during the time the boys are away. Not last 4th of July but the one previous, I completely redid the living room. So I decided, that over Christmas, while they were away, I would finally do something with the dog room.

We'd discussed several ideas, including a TV room for Sonshine so that when his friend are over they can hang out in there rather than our living room, leaving us no place to be. Another idea is to make it a satellite office for our business, but that *really* doesn't appeal. We live so close to our office, but, on the other hand, sometimes you just don't want to go back to the place you spend way too much of your life.

But I want a guest room. And a place to write. I had extra energy to burn this weekend and was unable to focus on writing, so I worked on the bedroom instead. I removed the old dusty mini-blinds, pulled up *all* the baseboard and shoe molding, patched the holes in the walls, & sanded the patched spots. So I'll have more time during those two weeks to do the fun stuff, like painting and decorating (if the funds can be scraped up).

The next step is to finish primering the wood chair rail molding and the molding around the window (daughter had been working on this previous to her departure from the house). After that it'll be time to find bedding/pick a color scheme. I'm leaning toward orange, green, brown, & white. Daughter's favorite color is orange, so on the off chance she ever comes home...

After this room is done, either my bedroom or the garage needs to be worked on next. Really, in my room, I just need a new bed and new bedding. I'm perfectly happy with the decor. Of course, Sonshine might like his room finished, too...
Friday, November 19, 2010

Has everyone started their holidays early?

Again, my blog tour this morning was disappointingly short, which brings me back to mine.

Fall is here in force, even the edges of winter are creeping in. The days are decidedly crisp and the nights are deliciously cold. It's hot tea time all day now. Although that may be because I'm feeling as if I've got a bit of a cold coming on. Usually in the winter I have a hot and a cold beverage by my side.

My muse has come back to work part time and I'm anxious to get a couple of my fanfics-in-progress moving again. One is so close the the end, I can hardly stand it. I'm so ready to be done with it. I'm still stuck on the next chapter, but I've bypassed it for now and skipped to the next bits where I do know what's happening and then I'll go back fill in the blanks. It's been over a year now since I started writing this thing and posting it to Fanfiction.net and a LiveJournal account as I go. It started as an experiment and it's been a very wonderful experience, but as I said, one I'm ready for it to end. So to that end, my goal is to finish it by the end of the year. My goal is three or four more chapters max at 1700 to 2400 words per chapter. That's just under 10,000 (max) words by January 1. Seems a bit daunting, but I already have some of that written. It's just not in order or edited and revised and ready for publication/posting.

And if I could stop being distracted by TV and movies, I might make better progress. :) But sometimes the well needs to be refilled and so I allow myself to be distracted. Not only that but I also need to spend time with hubby and son...
Thursday, November 18, 2010

*chirp, chirp*

It's been quiet on my round of blogs... I guess that's a good thing--less stuff to read so now I have more time to post. Posting can be rather time consuming, like when you have images to choose and then format and then upload and then caption... But we're done with that for now. :)

So--news from across the pond is that Prince William has finally asked his long-time girlfriend Kate Middleton to marry him. The wedding is scheduled for sometime next spring or summer. Thirty years ago next year, William's own parents were married.

I am a bit of royal watcher. More so in my youth (thirty years ago) than now, but I just happened to catch the announcement on TV when I went out to eat the other night. Otherwise I'd probably still be oblivious. My first thought was that William is starting to look more and more like his father and less like his mother. I don't necessarily think that's to his benefit. Second thought is that I still haven't forgiven Charles. Oh, I know it takes two to tango, but I certainly don't think he did everything he could have. And in this case, I think the age difference was a detriment.

Not so with Will and Kate (who's actually several months older than her prince). Plus I think she's been in the lime light for enough years to really know and understand what she's getting into. And she seems to be a stronger, more independent personality than Diana ever was.

Third thought is though William is second in line for the throne, I'm wondering if Charles (age 62) will actually be king. The Queen seems pretty spry for being 84 years of age, but I suppose he's young enough and will probably end up being king for a short time. For some reason, I thought he was older. I wonder if the Queen would ever force him to give up his claim and pass it directly to Wills. Highly improbable.

As a side note, Elizabeth is the last surviving head of state who served in uniform during the Second World War.

Okay, well, I got caught up in reading about the royals instead of writing about them, so I'll end this now and finish reading.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Writers Retreat pictures...

We went to Country Woods Inn...if you want to see what the cabins and the grounds were like, check the web site. I failed to get many pictures of those.

The highlights of my weekend were, not necessarily in this order:

1) Ella, the sheep with the missing ear, who reminded of my dear stuffed neon green bunny, received many many Easters ago.

2) Annie Sam the resident pig who was quite cute and enjoyed a good scratching.


3) And Josh, our waiter at dinner on Friday night at a local restaurant.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Pictures, yay!

Here are the pictures I promised...

First, the Veteran's Day Parade in downtown Fort Worth:

1) The beginning of the parade...



2) The tail end of the Harley riding vets...



3) A pair of walking vets...Army ground pounders from the looks of them.



4) Our band sans Marching Band Boy...



5) ...who walked with his JROTC battalion.



6) Quite the group, aren't they?



7) And here's Marching Band Boy, aka Private First Class


Writing retreat pics to follow in another post...
Monday, November 15, 2010

The mind is a terrible thing to lose...

I know I promised pictures and I did take them, but the cable that allows me to download the pics from the camera to the PC is still at home. Grr...

The weekend was fabulous and the rain was a no-show. It did get rather chilly overnight, but the days were gorgeous. We stayed at Country Woods Inn in Glen Rose, Texas. The accommodations were rustic and charming. The conversation with fellow writers, about everything from our works-in-progress to politics and religion to our children or grandchildren, was delightful. The setting quite conducive to writing--at least by all members of our party.

Pics tomorrow, I promise. *writes note to self*
Friday, November 12, 2010

Checkin' it twice...

I've got my list, I've checked it twice and thrice...

This is retreat weekend and I'm leaving the office in three hours or so. WOO HOO!

I've been working on packing for a few days now, but there are just some things you can't pack until the very last minute--toothbrush, toothpaste, deodorant.

Other things I've been gathering into a pile, hoping I don't forget something important. I am a creature of habit and I can be an anxious person. In order to lessen my anxieties when I am away from home, I take certain things with me to provide that semblance of comfort.

So I'll check my list at least thrice more, once when I leave the office as there a couple of things here at the office I need to take home, the second when I stop by the store for those last few snacks and health & beauty products, and the last time as I load up my car to leave home.

No cleaning this weekend (although I *still* haven't finished that last section of hallway wall). Just lots of time for writing and brainstorming and critiquing with my fellow writers. YAY.

See you on Monday with pictures!
Thursday, November 11, 2010

THANK YOU

Thank a veteran today!

Monday I shall also have pictures of our local Veteran's Day parade.

My son marched with JROTC rather than the band today seeing as how it is Veteran's Day.

Is it Friday yet?

This weekend I'm off to a writing retreat with a dozen or so fellow members (and friends) of my writing chapter. I can't tell you where we're going or I'd have to kill you because I'm not in charge of getting myself there and I've completely forgotten the name of the place. I do know there are a handful of cabins, so we're all divided up. I'm sharing a cabin with my critique partners and an extra.

I've been working on my YA manuscript these past few days, getting ready for the weekend, trying to figure out what I want/need help with in preparation for submitting it in my chapter's writing contest at the end of December. I want to it to be completely finished/polished/ready to send to the final round judge (an editor from Berkley Books) should it make it that far and get requested. :)

I work about a third of a day tomorrow, maybe half and then I'll be off. I'll try to post on Monday, with pictures, of our weekend.

See you there, Regina! (And I sure have missed seeing you.)
Tuesday, November 9, 2010

The Naked Eye

...can see Jupiter. Yes, really. There's been a very bright dot up in my night sky for the last several nights, maybe weeks, and using my GoSkyWatch app on the iPad, I can't see any major constellations with stars bright enough to match that of this particular celestial body. Not only that, but the app shows Jupiter to be in that spot. Uranus is there also, just beyond it, but you can't see it without a telescope.

After some research (not conclusive by any means, but good enough for me), I have determined that, yes, Jupiter can be seen with naked eye and this body is probably it. Not only for the reasons mentioned above, but because apparently stars provide their own light (the little hazy halo you see around them) and planets do not. So this bright spot in my night sky has a clearly defined edge and no halo. I say it's Jupiter!

On to the sort of promised reviews...

TV

The Tudors ~ a Showtime series based on the life and wives of King Henry the VIII of England. Four seasons of fast paced, rich settings and costumes, gratuitous sex scenes, and some historical facts. The show doesn't claim to be completely historically accurate and one official site states plainly certain things that were modified to provide the maximum entertainment--that's what TV's all about after all.

I finished season two this past weekend and Anne Boleyn has just lost her head. I did learn that she was, of a sort, the mother of the Reformation. This period of history isn't one of my strong suits, but now I am reading and learning. That's always a good thing. :)

Movies

Bright Star ~ another documentary in movie format of the love affair, such as it was, between the poet John Keats and Fanny Brawne. I found the pace to be too slow for my taste, although I suffered through most of it before I got fed up and quit watching a mere twenty minute from the end. Not recommended unless you just really really love the poetry of John Keats.

Coach Carter ~ a sports film based on the life of Ken Carter, high school & college basketball player. The film was a bit more feel-good than actual events according to the bit of Googling I just did, but that's not such a bad thing. Coach Carter's (the film) main point is that academics are just as, if not more, important than sports. Sure, talent will get you to college, but if you're going to fail all your classes once you get there, what's the point? Over all, I enjoyed it.

Hoosiers ~ another sports film loosely based on the Milan High School team that won the 1954 Indiana State Championship. This film, set in 1951/52 very rural Indiana, is another feel good movie. No big message to impart, however, only that hard work and sometimes a little luck can go a long long way. If you like sports movies, this one is worth the time investment, too.

All right, that's it for now. I'll be back in a day or two, I hope.

Have a good day.

Oh, and though she doesn't read my blog, HAPPY BIRTHDAY to my sister Kristen who turns 28 today. Wow, is she really that old now??? Not that 28 is old, I just wonder how time passed so quickly. :(
Monday, November 8, 2010

Refreshed

The weekend was everything it should have been. Relaxed and productive. I had hoped to get more writing done, but I'm content with what I was able to bang out. I even gained an hour of time. I wish that could happen every weekend. :)

Not only did I get a bit of writing done, and most of the laundry (including the important stuff like socks & undies for everyone), and most of my hallway walls (*must finish tonight*), but I also spent a great deal of time outside.

Where else can you rake leaves in November in a tank top and shorts and get a sunburn but Texas! Most of our leaves haven't changed yet and are still on the trees, but I filled a couple of yard waste bags with mostly acorns and dirt. We also had a fire in the pit going while my son burned most of my business trash with sensitive info on it I'd been hauling home for a good six months now.

And since last Wednesday evening, I have watched three movies and a season of The Tudors. Reviews maybe tomorrow.

I hope you all had as enjoyable a weekend.
Friday, November 5, 2010

Friday or Bust!

Well, I survived another week. And I'm rewarded with a weekend off, so to speak. No marching band contests, no writer's meetings or events, no Cowboy's Stadium concession work. Whew! I can sleep in tomorrow. Sort of. I have to be up at 5:30 to make a quick post for my RH fandom, but I can go back to bed and sleep for as long as I wish once that's done. YAY!!

My big goal for the weekend, aside from the normal laundry, is wiping down--I should say scrubbing--down the walls in my hallway. I have two big dogs who sleep in the hallway, and the walls at dog level are filthy, icky, and nasty. And I just can't stand to look at them any longer.

Marching band season is officially over and ended on a sad note. If our HS had won the football game last night, we would have proceeded to the playoffs and played in at least one more game. I think we had a chance except for the fact that one of our star players had to be whisked off to the hospital during half-time because his father had died or had taken a turn for the worse (and subsequently died). Needless to say, the football team lost their focus. So if you're the praying sort, please lift up the family of the EHHS football player who lost his father.

I held a baby last night for the first time in years!! A little ten-month-old girl. So sweet.

Well, it's time for me to get some work done so I can maybe start my weekend early and enjoy it.

Have a good weekend!
Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Star Gazing

I bough a really cool app for my iPad the other evening: GoSkyWatch. (It works on iPod Touch, iPad, and iPhone.) Using GPS, I think (and therefore needs Internet access), it will triangulate your location and when you hold your device up to the sky or at the ground in any direction, it will show you what stars, constellations, planets, and other heavenly bodies are out there in that direction. Even through cloud cover and the earth's large sphere. It's very neat.

Last night though I couldn't see them for the clouds and distance, Neptune and Uranus were out there. I was facing south, though obviously these two planets are 'out' rather than in a southerly direction on the Earth's surface.

I can't wait until I'm way out in the country where there are no surface lights or nearby buildings to detract from or block my view. Maybe weekend after next.
Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Randomness...

Yesterday, I was totally exhausted. I could barely make it through the beginning of my day, pausing often to put my head down or my feet up and just close my eyes. I could easily have slept and slept hard. My plan was to go home, make sure there was something to eat and go to bed. But by that time I had already gotten invested in some TV watching and did not end up actually going to be until 9:30ish. Which was probably better anyway.

Then the dog started barking at 2:30ish. We don't have a dog door, so I stumbled out of bed and let them out and then waited for them to come back in, but dear doggy started barking again, and since I knew she wanted to chase night creatures rather than do any business I ignored her. Luckily she didn't keep on.

My alarm went off at 4:50. I turned both of my alarms off thinking hubby's phone would start jangling at 6:30 as it usually does, but no...my eyes popped open at 6:47. Marching Band Boy had to be at school by 7:30 and I'm usually poking *him* out of bed by that time. And, then, because I was so close to the edge of the bed, I almost fell out of it as I rolled over to get up. Luckily he was awake when I stumbled into his room.

So today is election day...the high school my son attends is a polling place. As a member of JROTC, he gets out of classes all day to serve as escorts and whatnot to voters. Nice. But he also had band practice this morning, so I received about a bazillion (okay, just a handful) of texts asking "where r u??" from the both the drum major and the band director ("we only have two practices before the game this friday") (They're learning new music for this week.). Which is fine as that is SOP on practice mornings. (Marching Band Boy does NOT have his own cell phone at this time so they come to me.)

I also got a text from another band member who is also in JROTC lamenting the fact that Ms. B (the band director) was not going to be happy about them missing practice even though the JROTC sergeants will be handling the paperwork.

I'm just thinking that if the band director gives my kid any crap about today, I may have to have a little talk with her. Until now, band has taken priority over JROTC. He even missed seeing his aunt when she was home on leave from Afghanistan because it was the last practice for the band prior to the UIL competition. He's never missed a practice or an event and probably has the highest attendance record for volunteer activities such as prop building for their UIL program and working Cowboys Stadium events. My son and one other boy showed up for prop building and ended up working the whole day instead of only half because they were the only two who did.

I like her mostly, but she's very contradictory. For example, this past Sunday was a Cowboys game and the band booster was scheduled to work our concession stand. We had to be at the school by 6:30 am to car pool to the stadium. Every other time, she has beat me to school and I am always way early. This past Sunday she wasn't there, although it was like 6:23 when I arrived. So I asked my son if I should call her and make sure she was awake--just to be safe. He shrugged. "If you want to." Thanks, kid. So I decided to call her. Basically, she was annoyed that I did so. "Well, it's not 6:30 yet." Right, but every other freaking time, you've beat me to the school, so... Had she actually still been asleep, I imagine she would have been grateful I called instead of waiting another 10 to 15 minutes to do so, right?? So you'd think she would have at least appreciated the gesture. Within a few hours the incident was forgotten. Ah, well.

Okay, well...I'm done venting for the moment. :)
Friday, October 29, 2010

I'd forgotten...

...how much I really enjoy NCIS.

We got the first disk of season 7 from Netflix yesterday. I had actually followed season 7 online for awhile last year until I just didn't anymore. So I have actually seen all these episodes already.

But I really loved this first episode. It was the conclusion to the season six season finale.

It is my second favorite episode as it shows just how awesome Agent Gibbs truly is. He was a sniper in the Marine Corps previous to his becoming an NCIS agent. We rarely, if ever, see him in sniper mode, but in this ep--oh, yeah--wow, Gibbs is totally hot here.

It's also the episode where we find out just how much Agent Tony Dinozzo cares for Ziva David. It's never said in words, it's all in context. And to me (and at least one online friend of mine) it's perfectly clear that Tony would go to hell and back for her and might have already done so, given the events leading up to this episode.

Anyone else watch NCIS?

(Okay, I do realize that season eight is now airing on regular TV, but as I don't have access to that, I am obviously a bit behind. It might be time to go watch on NBC's site again.)
Thursday, October 28, 2010

Let's Review...

Books and Movies

In the past week I have read three books, cover to cover (started #4 last night), and watched three movies.

Books:

HOT by Julia Harper was okay. A small town librarian has been planning revenge for the framing of her uncle in an embezzling case. She develops an attachment to the FBI Special agent assigned to the case as their relationship develops via cell phone while she's on the run and trying to find evidence. I liked it well enough, it kept me interested, although I was able to put it down as needed, like to sleep or eat. :)

Hill Country Holdup by Angi Morgan, my NTRWA chapter mate and dear friend was great. Her first book for Harlequin (or anyone, but her dream publisher). A super smart woman's child is kidnapped and she must go to the child's father, a FBI Special Agent, to help her. Only he doesn't know he's the child's father. Action packed from beginning to end as Jane and Steve travel across the Hill Country of Texas in search of clues. Full of twists and turns until the end. And I didn't guess the villain.

Blue-Eyed Devil by Lisa Kleypas was WOW. Written in first person, which I didn't mind nearly as much as I expected. Rich heroine is cut off from daddy's millions when she marries her boyfriend. Narcissicism and abuse ensues until she finally gets away. A well done PSA on the disease of narcissistic personality disorder of which there's apparently no real cure. Once safely back in the fold, the heroine must learn to set boundaries and enforce them and, of course, learn to love again. Very well told all the way around. That fourth book I mentioned at the beginning is the third book in this series; this book being the second. I'll be after the first one later.

Movies:

Star Trek 2009 - a perennial favorite in our house and I've seen 60+ times at this point. Don't ask me why, but I love this movie. Not going to really write a review per se on it, but I watched it. If you're a fan of the original series, you may or may not enjoy the modernization of the characters and the relationships. I think it was intended as a reboot of the franchise, bringing younger viewers into the fold. Two more movies are planned. Even if you don't like the premise of the reboot, you have to admit, the actors all did a fabulous job with the legendary characters. It's hard to pick a favorite, though. Least favorite of mine was Chris Pine in the Kirk role. I've never been a big fan of Kirk's. Sulu, meh. Uhura, Spock, Chekov and Scott were awesome. The Bones character was great. The music was fabulous and I do have the soundtrack.

Ice Castles - the 2010 remake of the original 1978 film. Believe it or not, I've never seen the original. The remake was blech. Not that the actors weren't fine, performances were fine. But the whole thing was a bit slow. First of all, it took to just past the mid-way point of the film for her to finally have the accident and lose her sight (well, most of it). So I'm supposed to believe that she overcame whatever fears she had and the physical obstacles in less than half the movie? Nope wasn't buying it. I really had to suspend my disbelief on this one. I'm sorta tempted to watch the original just to see how that aspect of the story was presented, but I've got better things to do with two hours (like read Lisa Kleypas's other book ;).

The Young Victoria - The story of Queen Victoria's young life, her ascension to the throne, and the development of her love affair with her husband Prince Albert. Very well done all the way around, except I really didn't get the point of the plot until the movie was over. It was more along the lines of a documentary in movie format. But the actors were wonderfully cast and for a history lover like me, well worth the time investment.

So any good book or movie recommendations?
Monday, October 25, 2010

Gotta love Texas weather!

Saturday we had a lovely cold front move through. Temps dropped and it was stormy almost all day. Perfect for the home made chicken soup I'd planned for Sunday.

Sunday dawned bright and sunny, however. No clouds, perfect temps, and a lovely breeze. The soup was still made, despite it being almost too warm.

No wonder my knees have been acting up for the last three/four days!
Friday, October 22, 2010

Friday!

Well...this week's football game was last night and our team whooped some butt! It was also parent night and the band members honored their parents and others who have helped support them by playing "Wind Beneath My Wings." It was a very nice gesture, but I really dislike that song. It was way overplayed when it first came out.

The band director bought individually packaged fake roses for the kids to hand out to their parents or others who support them. I got MBB's of course. And one other sweet young man said if he had a second one he'd give it to me. Aww...!

And we parents didn't have to haul anything around during half-time. No props, no drum major stand, nothing. Of course, before and after half time, it was business as usual. One dad drives the truck that hauls the instruments to and from events, and DD and I provide the snacks and hand them out right after their half time performance. And make sure they all throw their trash away rather than leave it on the ground. And amazingly enough, even after I've hollered about doing just that, I still find random empty wrappers or soda cans or water bottles on the ground after they've all trooped back to the stands.

But it's Friday. We've survived another week.

Have a great weekend.
Monday, October 18, 2010

Potpourri...

It's fall, it's fall here in Texas and, while it's fairly short-lived, it's beautiful and wonderful and fall. It's my favorite season. Man, now I wish I had a picture. The leaves are turning colors and the acorns are dropping like, well, acorns. The day temperatures fluctuate but the nights are blessedly cool and I love to sleep with the windows open. Canned pumpkin should be hitting the shelves any day now and I will be stocking up! I haven't had pumpkin cake in over a year. Argh!

Marching band season has come to a close. (Thank goodness!) Marching band boy and his marching band compadres competed at UIL this past Saturday, scoring a 1-2-2, despite my section of the prop falling forward. The band director was well pleased and so, then, were the rest of us. Our poor little band had quite a few hurdles to overcome so the score were a testament to how hard this little-band-that-could worked. Construction at the high school over the summer meant they had to move to one of the middle schools for practices. Then there was the Texas heat; August here is hot, hot, hot, so sometimes it was just too hot to practice outside on the field. Then the district instituted an A/B schedule at the high school this year which meant band itself officially met only every other day: three days one week, two days the next, and so on. To their credit, every member attended every extra practice even when it was called last minute. And last but not least, the six-week grading period ended October 1st and the band lost five members, bringing its number down to like thirty members. This meant some finagling of the program to account for the missing bodies/instruments. So now...we have three more football games to play unless our football team makes it to the playoffs and I really have no idea what their chances are. I hope they make it, but then again... :)

I watched most of the second Harry Potter movie on Thursday, but started falling asleep, so I still have that to finish and move on to the others. Friday night was the football game and home late, Saturday MBB had friends over so they were busy doing what boys do: playing video games, wrestling, making a mess in the kitchen, Sunday night was read, rest, relax in preparation for the work week. We may get to the next film tonight, we may not. I'm suddenly in reading mode.

And how about those Texas Rangers?? This is their first time in the American League playoffs ever. With a win and a loss against the NY Yankees, they play tonight in New York. Go Rangers!
Thursday, October 14, 2010

Harry Potter

In a run to the release of the latest Harry Potter movie on Nov. 19, 2010 my children have decided to have a Harry Potter fest. They started last night and I decided to watch with them. I've seen it before, but remember very little of it. I haven't read the books.

Being in a musically-minded mode, specifically marching band program music, I was enthralled with the musical score. I think a very fun and popular program could be created using several of the songs and symbols from the movie. But convincing the band director might be another thing altogether.

As for the movie itself, I enjoyed it very much and Daniel Radcliffe was a cutie patootie as an eleven-year-old.
Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Since when do I have allergies...? :)

I've been pretty healthy and malady free all my life. I grew up in Southern California and moved to the Omaha, NE area as a young adult. Never suffered an allergy in my life. Now, eleven years in Texas and I am an annual allergy sufferer.

I realize I'm older now and my body's changed over the years, and the "stuff" here in Texas is different than the "stuff" in California or Nebraska.

I'm not really complaining. I mean, I don't feel bad. I just have mildly itchy eyes and nose and am doing a lot of sneezing. My ears are a bit itchy today, so it may be morphing into a cold. I can go without taking allergy medication unless I'm outside for extended periods of time--which I have been with marching band boy's football games and competitions. (Last competition--the big one--is this coming Saturday.)

I wonder if marching band boy will develop allergies at some point in his life. And the only reason I mention it is because we moved to Texas from Nebraska when he was 31/2 years old; and right before we left, he'd had an ear infection. (He had his fair share, though not chronically.) He got antibiotics and the doctor said to bring him back in a couple of weeks for a re-check. And when I mentioned we were moving to Texas the doctor basically said that my son would probably never have another ear infection then. And once we moved to Texas he never did. Amazing!
Friday, October 8, 2010

One of those days...

The day started off with potential, but that quickly went out the window when not one, but two clients called with serious issues. Issues that can be directly related to one certain employee. One we wanted to disemploy but now can't, at least not right away, because one other employee gave notice. Another employee texted in sick. How convenient that it's Friday. I hope he's looking for a job, 'cause I really have no use for this guy.

Hubby was going to try to go out on the boat today, but those plans have probably been derailed due to the above mentioned client issues. One client has now lost faith in said employee's competence and no longer wants him to service their company. Can't say as I blame her. However, this now means that hubby is the only one left to do so. Being a PC tech is not what he wants to do with his time.

As for me, cranky hubby means stressed Jen, so hopefully the issues can be resolved in a timely fashion and hubby can try to get that trip to the lake. Plus, we haz football game/marching band tonight. I have to be out of the office by 5ish (although I'd rather leave earlier if I can) in order to get home, eat dinner, get DD and band snacks and get to the school to help load and then get on the bus.

Tomorrow is a marching band competition almost 2 hours away. We have to be at the school by 8:30 am. I will get to sleep in since I'm usually up by 6:30, but since I probably won't get home and sleepy before 11 or 12 tonight, that 'sleeping in' isn't going to mean much. :)

And Sunday is a Cowboy event--the Dallas Cowboys play and the band is working a concession stand at the game. The band director has put out a call for workers, but I can't answer this one. I have been at/worked every band event so far. I'm talking football games, band competitions, AND Cowboy's events. Every single one. And after tonight's game and tomorrow's competition, I'm not going to be in any condition to be on my feet and working my ass off for nine hours. I feel a bit bad, but I just can't do it. A few other parents need to step up.

That is all.
Wednesday, October 6, 2010

School District Competition

Last night, our marching band performed their program, Ocean Quest, at the school district's inter-city competition. This time, unlike Saturday, we competed against at least two other schools. And we brought home some gold!!

Both our color guard and our drum line took first place. WOOT!! Quite a feat for the color guard considering there are only two of them. :)

Now they need a little work on their music, toning the drums down and getting the woodwinds to play louder, but the director thinks they'll be able get that worked out in time for Saturday's competition.

Now, if we could just get the hauling of the prop on and off the field a little more finessed. Of course it would help if we always had the same people every time. But what can you do?
Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Will wonders never cease?

I got home from work last night to find DD holding a mug in her hand.

"Whatcha drinking?" I asked.

"Yes, mom, I'm drinking hot tea," she replied with a bit of friendly sarcasm. "My throat was hurting a little so I finally did what you always tell me and made some hot tea."

Wow, what? Amazing. They do listen and at some point realize you know what you're talking about. (Hi Mom! :)
Monday, October 4, 2010

Potpourri...

Marching band boy and his band competed in their first competition this past Saturday. They competed first and were the only school in their class, hence they took first place and got to bring home a huge trophy. They did good. They accomplished what the band director had hoped for. They got some feedback on their program and know where/what to fix. The next competition is Tuesday evening then the next two Saturdays. I'm pooped just thinking about it.

Back to Friday Night Lights. I finally got to see season four. I was expecting a wait for the physical disks, but by some miracle I discovered it had become available in the "Watch Instantly" section. WOOT. So between 7pm Saturday and 1PM Sunday, I watched all thirteen episodes of season four, crying through almost all of them. They were that intense and heart-wrenching. Kudos to Zach Gilford whose performances were just amazing. In a short story arc, Matt's father is killed by an IED in Iraq and his range of anger and sadness and confusion is just beautiful. I can't recommend this show enough.
Monday, September 27, 2010

The Perfect Day

Yesterday was a perfect day. Baby boy spent the night at a friend's house and wasn't home, DD went to church, hubby spent the night at his mom's house. I was alone. A cold front moved in Saturday leaving our neck of the woods much, much cooler that it had been. The morning was cloudy, slightly humid, but cool. I opened all the windows and enjoyed fresh air and the sounds of nature.

And I wrote. Actually, I did quite a bit of editing/revising. In between bouts of writing, I cleaned house and did laundry. So I was doubly productive. I love days like that.

Then around 1pm-ish, the clouds dissipated and the sun came out. The moisture in the air went away and it was a beautiful, gorgeous afternoon. I should have gone outside to enjoy it, but I can't see my laptop screen and I was on a roll and had a goal to meet, so I opted to stay inside and keep on trucking. I met the goal and then some, partially making up for some of the previous days' word counts I missed. But I'm still a bit behind.
Thursday, September 23, 2010

Thursday Night Lights

High school football game tonight--not that I watch the game. I usually sit with my back to the field and watch the band. These kids are energetic and a lot of fun. That's not to say they aren't kids and don't mess around when they aren't supposed to, but they *are* teenagers. Very few seniors are in the band this year--which explains why my freshman son is first trumpet. (not that he's not talented, but it is unusual)

I've been put in un-official charge of game-night snacks. The band members aren't allowed to visit the concession stands any longer as they wear their official marching uniform to the games and the district does not want them staining them. So right after half-time, my DD and I are set up to hand out pre-packaged cookies and chips or rice crispie treats, etc. and a soda and a water to each kiddo.

Also, they now have to be fed prior to them leaving school for the game (our home field is a mile away and shared by several other schools)--an additional task that got dumped on the band director's already over-burdened shoulders. Next week, our family will be providing dinner for the band. Oh, boy.

Well, here's a shot of my handsome boy:


and the band playing the Star Spangled Banner:

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Friday Night Lights

I got sucked into a new TV show and am halfway through available episodes. (The fifth and final season begins in late October.)

Friday Night Lights was recommended to me by a friend and I finally decided to give it a try. Based on the movie and book of the same name, the show is compelling drama. At least to me. I don't think it's everyone's cup of tea, although it has won many awards and the actors who play the coach and his wife were nominated as best leading actor/actress.

It centers around the high school football team of a fictional west Texas town. The coach and his family serve as the central focal point, but the show also spends a lot of time following a handful of players and their lives/loves/family life. Not every character has a story in every episode although he or she may be seen as part of others' story lines. But I almost never realize a character is missing, 'cause what's onscreen is pretty riveting.

My biggest gripe is dropped plot lines. There are several times I've wondered, "Hey, what happened to so-and-so?"

What's your favorite compelling TV show?
Tuesday, September 14, 2010

What's going on in my world...?

A lot of angst mostly. Work related, of course. But that's not fun writing or reading so...

New TV obsession: Stargate: Atlantis. Hubby started watching this show several weeks ago; my watching was hit or miss. And then all of a sudden it was more hit than miss and Major John Sheppard played by Joe Flanigan started to grow on me. So I have started watching from the beginning.

Ongoing TV obsession: The BBC's Robin Hood and Jonas Armstrong. This fandom is my escape and fun. I play there with fellow fen and have made some nice online connections.


What keeps me busy: aside from work, I keep busy with my trumpet playing, band marching son. Going to his events and finding great enjoyment in listening to the band play. There are several talented kids and it's such a joy to listen to them play. Plus I help out the band director when I can, which seems very little. She's on her own this year and having to carry the program almost exclusively on her own shoulders, bless her heart. I wish I could do more, but since I do have to work, I just can't.

When I'm not being a band groupie or wife or mother, I write. For fun and not so much profit, at least not monetary. But writing is my creative outlet (which has taken many forms over the years) and it has brought many wonderful relationships my way. Some are now over, but many continue and no longer depend on the thing that brought us together in the first place.

What're your creative outlets?
Friday, September 10, 2010

I'm late, I'm late...

Well, not so much late as behind. I'm about 5000 words in the hole, and the days in which to make them up and reach my goal in full are dwindling. Tonight, though hubby may be visiting his mother, will find me at the high school football game watching my boyo play/march during half-time instead of at home banging out words. A mixed blessing. I'm looking forward to seeing boyo officially play, but I would really love to have the house to myself. Ah well...

And tomorrow is filling up fast, too--boyo has to march/play in a parade. Before he's due at school at 10am, he needs a haircut. Bad. And before that will probably be a trip to the Super WalMart for the new xBox game he's been asking for (in lieu of all the allowances I owe him). My day is looking to start at 8am. Argh... I may just have to get up at five or five-thirty in order to get some extra writing time in. Usually, I sleep in till six on Saturdays and Sundays.

But at least I'm writing...right?

What are you doing?
Wednesday, September 8, 2010

All wet!

Tropical Depression Hermine as wrought havoc up and down my state, at least in rainfall, if not in other ways. It has been raining since yesterday mid-morning pretty much without ceasing. There was a lull around two pm yesterday afternoon when I walked to the post office, but it was actually still raining. There were a handful of tornado watches and a few tornado warning last evening (and that's just in the DFW area). And, as you can guess, with the amount of rain and the speed in which it is falling, there are flash flood warnings and watches up and down the state as well.

Our office was shut down this morning for about an hour and a half as we discovered water in our fuse box! We called the business park for someone to take a look and they basically said we were okay now that the water was drained but that they couldn't really do anything until the rain stopped and everything dried out. Great; so in the mean time, we just hope the electricity doesn't arc and fry the building.

I was hoping I'd be sent home for the day, but we were given the go ahead to power the PCs back up. So here I am. Blogging. :) I'll get to work soon...maybe...
Friday, September 3, 2010

How about those Cowboys?

The Dallas Cowboys, that is.

Last night I worked a concession stand at the brand-spankin'-new Dallas Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas.

First let me say, thank goodness they move to Arlington! The new stadium is a hop, skip and jump down the highway from my house. A blessing indeed at 11PM when you are utterly exhausted. We arrived at 2PMish to get the stand set up. It's not really a stand, per se, but most of you have been to professional sports venues--yeah, we were in the one of those beer, burger, hot dog selling stands built into the facility.

That was an experience and I'm still too exhausted/sore to gather my thoughts about it at the moment.

But in case you were wondering why I was there...working the stand on behalf of the band boosters for my son's band. The contract with the Dallas Cowboys is their main source of income each year.

Anyhow, it was just an exhibition game,but the Cowboys won against the Dolphins.

And since my efforts were in support on my son--who, by the way, was chosen "Bandsman of the Week" at the game he attended/marched at last night. It was announced over the P.A., too... *big momma grin* I wish I could have been there for that!--here is the video of his band playing a part of their competition program as promised.


Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Football and Marching Bands

Last night hubby, DD (that's darling daughter, remember) and I went to see sonshine in his first marching performance. It was just for family to show us what they've been doing and what they've learned. I did take my camera and I do have pics and video, but (alas) I left the camera cable at home. So video will have to wait until tomorrow. (Sorry, Mom.)

His first real public performance is Thursday at a football game in Dallas. And I have to miss it. Hubby said he would go to show familial support. And where will I be you ask????

DD and I (and others) will be at the brand new Dallas Cowboys stadium dishing up hot dogs and cold beer on behalf of the band. Our band booster has a contract with the franchise and this is how they earn the bulk of their annual operating capital--somewhere around $15K to $17K. And if we work the Super Bowl in February, that'll be another $2K just for one event. Holy marching bands, Batman!

Video tomorrow, I promise.
Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Kool-Aid, Kool-Aid, Tastes Great

Who remembers Kool-Aid?

We still drink it at my house. It's not the best thing we could all drink (that being water), but it's certainly better than soda and energy drinks. I drink more sweet tea than Kool-Aid, which I also make with less sugar. But occasionally I like a nice cold glass of sweet, fruity flavored Kool-Aid.

Now, for awhile, I was making the artificially sweetened store brand kool-aid for hubby and son, but I have always been of the opinion that the bad things about aspartame far outweigh the good and finally decided to stop pouring it down my mens' throats. Back to the real stuff made with real sugar. :)

Have I noticed a difference? I'm not sure yet... Does hubby's inability to go to sleep at a reasonable hour count--or does stress and the fact that he's a night owl weigh more heavily there?

My favorite is pink lemonade, but I also like orange and last night I found black cherry again!

What's your favorite flavor?
Monday, August 30, 2010

No good blog title...

Yay for my younger daughter--she lost six pounds this past week.

She's a big girl. And I have been worrying about her for a few weeks. I was just getting ready to talk to her about her weight when she announced that she was gong on a diet. Her good friend and friend's mom have been on some program and have lost some weight. So DD (darling daughter) took notes about what and how much she could eat and dutifully went shopping last Monday am and started her diet. She's pretty sick of chicken salad, but if her excitement last night was anything to go by, she'll keep on eating chicken salad if it means she'll lose a few more pounds.

She got a few more items to add to her 'can eat' list and some recipes, too, so hopefully it'll be enough to keep her going for a few more weeks and pounds.

Go, DD!
Thursday, August 26, 2010

The writer's life for me...

What would that look like?

It would look much the homemaker's life: stay-at-home wife, keeping the house and the yard and the kids in order. In between cracking the whip or wielding the mop, I'd be banging away on the keyboard cranking out words on my latest WIP. Actually, it's be the other way 'round, at least during the day. Un-numbing my butt by mopping or scubbing a toilet or changing a load of laundry.

Hubby is well aware of my desire to be a homemaker, but for right now, I have to be a workin' girl.

One day....
Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Back to school...

Well, my boy has his school schedule which includes marching band, JROTC, and hopefully baseball (he's trying to transfer in), not to mention three pre-AP/honors classes. The boy will be busy. Which makes his momma happy. Mainly because if he's busy with with school activities, he's less likely to find some other troublesome way of keeping busy.

Of course, with his history of homework the past two years, I'll be riding him hard about getting it done and asking for help when he doesn't understand something. Not that we haven't done that in years past, but this isn't Kansas anymore, Toto. I've tried to impress upon him that while middle school was important this is HIGH SCHOOL and he can't really afford the mistakes or to make the choices he made last year. I know he's smart enough. (The boy can memorize almost anything he hears enough times and then recite it back verbatim. If only he'd apply that effort a bit more to school work.)

Speaking of classes, I'm taking couple, too. A writer is always learning better and new ways to wield their pen, er...keyboard and to tell their story. When you're a beginner, the learning curve is huge. As you grow as a writer, you learn various lessons about writing, the requirements of the genre you've chosen, etc...but even once you become published, there's always something new to learn. Not that I'm there.

I'm no longer a beginner, but I still have a lot to learn. I recently joined a second writers group, Savvy Authors, in order to participate in their Summer Symposium since I couldn't afford to attend the RWA National Conference. ($30 vs $1500, hm...) They offer classes and chats and workshops. Some free, some requiring a small additional fee.

Right now I'm taking a class on "Life in a Medieval Castle" and one called "Cracking the Romance Code." I'm always in search of the light bulb moment for things I still struggle with. Hopefully, I'll have one with the second class. The first is more informational as I'm working on a historical set in the 1100s. I've also participated in a couple of the free chats, one about utilizing online social networking sites to get my name out there and promote myself and eventually my work. But I have to admit, I still really don't get the Twitter thing.

Well, that second class started already, so I better go check it out...try to have that light bulb moment.

What exciting thing have you learned recently?
Monday, August 23, 2010

The downhill slide

My youngest starts high school today. In fact, he'll be on his way to school shortly. His older sister will drop him off and pick him up.

And so begins a new phase in my life as a mother. The baby is almost grown up.

The oldest child has moved out. I'm not sure what her life is like, but as far as I know she's still working, thank goodness, and she has someplace to live. I see her every now and again when she swings by to pick up mail or another box of her stuff, but she doesn't reveal much. But she seems to be doing okay.

The middle child is still at home. Not attending college this semester, but she will be searching for a job soon. She babysat twice a week this summer--just enough to keep her in pocket change. Not that she has any expenses at this point. But it's time to take that next step--a decent paying job and a car of her own. I expect that sometime between now and the time her brother graduates, this daughter, too, will be out on her own. Well, I certainly hope so. :)

The next four years will alternately drag and fly by. I'm not sure how I feel about that, all of a sudden. I have been looking forward to the time when all the kids were gone and my house and my time were my own. But thinking of my son all grown up and away from me...hmm...not so excited at the moment.

Is that a mother/son thing? I never felt that way about my girls. Or is it less the gender and more that it's the baby? Hard to know. Although I imagine in four years I'll be ready for what comes next.
Thursday, August 19, 2010

Critique Group

My critique partner has turned into a critique group and now we are three.

This is good, of course; the more eyes on your work, the better, right?

I've been working on some guidelines for out little group, eliciting input from other writers I know who are in groups. One answer was pretty useless: "Well, every group is different and it depends on what you're looking for."

This, I know.

So I e-mailed another friend, asked some specific questions and got back a 13-point dissertation.

That was helpful.

I sent another e-mail to yet another friend and am currently waiting a reply.

But I have concerns.

One major concern and one minor concern.

I'm afraid one of my new CPs isn't going to be handle it--the critiques or the commitment. Maybe I'm wrong. I hope I'm wrong. That's the major one.

The minor one is that I'm afraid I'm really not going to get what I need from this group, at least from the above mentioned CP. I swear I'm not trying to toot my own horn, but in recently reading chapters from both these women, I appear to be the more advanced writer. It's a tough job, but someone--okay, just kidding.

I know one of them is a beginner. She's only been in our writing chapter maybe a year and has said she's new to romance writing. I knew that going in, but she's writing what I'm writing *and* she's read a ton of what we want to write, so my advantage was that she could help me meet the criteria of our new genre.

Now, the newest member I've known for, oh...four years now. I think. Something like that. But she's gone through a lot of personal upheaval in the last few years and as you would expect, her writing, while important to her, had to take a back seat as she dealt with real life. So basically she hasn't grown much as a writer. Not that I fault her, but will she be able to help my writing as I'm pretty sure I can help hers?

So what do I get out of this relationship I'm now committed to?

I've read and heard that critique groups should be made up of writers at a variety of levels. That's really great for those writers at the lower levels, but what about the writer at the highest level? Maybe if they struggle with spelling and punctuation or...

But as I'm writing, things are coming to me...if the advanced writer struggles with shallow descritions...yes, she gets feedback; if the advanced writer struggles with...well, name your issue...she gets feedback. If the other writers grasp those concepts already. If they don't, then...what?

I'm afraid I'm going to be cheated.

I'm whining. Sorry. Let me go find some cheese and we'll see how Saturday's critique meeting goes.
Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Not all dreams are created equal...

My last post was about the culmination of a dream for a dear friend of mine.

This post is about my dream...(well, one of them, anyway)

There were a couple of comments to my last post along the lines of my turn would come, too. But you see, all those things Angi aspired to are not really things I aspire to.

Oh, sure, I'd like to be published; otherwise why am I here and why have I invested eight years and a chunk of change in learning the craft? Scratch that—until recently it's been more like a hobby than a pursuit of a dream. Hobbies cost people money. (Right Mom?) And for their time and effort and money, they have an end result such as a craft or memories of adventures and good times.

For my investment, I have knowledge, several books worth of fan fiction, a few possible books-in-waiting, and a lot of wonderful friends. If that was all I ever got out of this endeavor, it would definitely be worth the money.

Until now, I wasn’t really ready to seriously pursue publication. There were many reasons, I suppose, not that I could name any of them.

But now, I’m ready. I want it.

I want to be a published author. I’m ready to embrace it, to work towards it, to really invest the time and effort, and blood, sweat and tears to achieve it.

But before you say, “Yay, Jen.” or, “You, go, girl!” I have to confess I want it so badly because I really, really want to get out of debt.

During a conversation with a friend and published author, he commented that he was looking forward to getting his royalty check. I was nosy, so I asked, “Hundreds or thousands?”

He said thousands. His first book came out one year ago this month.

I about fell out of my chair. I want royalty checks a year later that are thousands of dollars.

Now that I’ve got my goal (publication) and my motivation (getting out of debt) I have to overcome the conflicts and obstacles. But that’s another whine--I mean post for another day.

What’s your dream? Have you achieved it yet? If not, are you working towards it?
Thursday, August 12, 2010

Good things come to those who wait...

...and work hard.

Tonight, three of my chapter mates/friends and I will celebrate.

One of us (not me) is at the top of her game. She's sold a book. Two actually. One hits the shelves this month, the second in February 2011. On top of that, she won the Golden Heart for her category with the manuscript of the first book. A dream for most aspiring romance writers.

My friend has wanted to write romance novels for Harlequin since forever. Her husband supported her dream from the beginning, allowing her to be a stay-at-home mom and writer even when money was tight for them. Since I've known her, she's had ups and down with her family, as we all do, and she even took a couple of years off, sort of, from the writing to deal with family issues and to enjoy her youngest child's senior year in high school.

Once said child was situated with college, my friend got back into serious writer mode. She worked hard. Revised the manuscript she'd been tinkering with for years. She finished it. She polished it. She entered it in contests. Last year (2009), it won several, including the Daphne du Maurier, a big one in the romance writer world. From that contest, it was requested by an editor at Harlequin. She got an agent. Harlequin called and said they wanted it. She entered the MS in the Golden Heart. She signed the contract. This was all back in November 2009. Then in February of this year, with the help of her agent, she sold the second book to Harlequin.

So since February, she's revised/completed the first book and written/been revising the second and waiting for the RWA National annual conference. GH winners are not announced until the awards ceremony on the final night. Just like the Emmys or the Oscars, most everyone's dressed up in their finery.

So here we are chapter mates and friends, celebrating the good fortune of one of our own. It can take a long time in this business. And it takes a lot of hard work. And it takes perseverance.

The same for any dream. And my friend will tell you, the wait and the hard work was absolutely worth it.

Congrats, Angi!!

Angi Morgan

Hill Country Holdup (to be released any day now)
.38 Caliber Coverup (February 2011)
Monday, August 9, 2010

Caffeine

Wow, I didn't realize how little caffeine I'm actually ingesting these days. Not that I'm complaining as I made the decision to do so at the beginning of the year. There are occasions when I do drink regular iced tea, say out at a restaurant. I didn't turn into a complete stick-in-the mud about it, but I try to avoid--yes, I did give up chocolate for the most part. Every once in a while I'll have mint-chip ice cream or the cheesecake from Olive Garden that has the chocolate crust (yummy...).

But today, my co-worker brought me back a drink from QT while he was out and about. He swears he got what I asked for, which is fine, but what came out of the machine wasn't what I wanted...

I wanted peach or raspberry flavored (regular) iced tea (yes, caffeinated). What I got was peach flavored green or white tea, which apparently is VERY caffeinated. Three drinks in, I had a headache coming on. Wow. I finally dumped that out and opted for water. Hopefully, the headache will dissipate before drugs are needed.

I never really thought caffeine affected me that much--I mean it never kept me awake at night or anything. Just goes to show that you never know!

Now if could just give up the sugar.
Friday, August 6, 2010

I'm so tempted...

...oh, so tempted.

To run for newsletter editor of my writing chapter's newsletter. I've done it before. I *do* know what it entails. I'm trying to decide if, with my new writing goals, I'm willing to take it on.

The other day, I got a wild hair to write an article for said newsletter. Most article writers include a little blurb about themselves at the end of the article. It's been quite a while and I was at a loss as to what to include in my blurb, so I figured I go read our newsletter. I haven't read one in months. Years, actually; probably since I handed over the reins.

So what to my wondering eyes did appear? A newsletter with no articles. Well, no articles about writing. There was the standard letter from the president, an article from the president-elect about serving the chapter (she'll be asking for nominees soon), an article from the hospitality chair about donations for the raffle basket our chapter sent to the RWA National Conference, and a recycled article from the chapter's Web site.

Huh.

RWA has a Yahoo group for newsletter editors where they can use articles written by other members of other chapters and submit articles written by our chapter members for the same purpose. Why didn't our newsletter have a single article from EditorLink?? She only used eleven of the twelve allotted pages. If she'd shrunk the font a couple of sizes throughout the newsletter and decreased the margins by a half-inch all the way around, she could have gained another page, maybe a page and a half.

And where was all the other stuff that's supposed to be in each edition of the newsletter, like times and dates of all board meetings and info on the upcoming general meeting?

I suppose beggars can't be choosers, but it really perturbed me.

Not that I don't like the newsletter editor, 'cause I do. She's very nice. But where's the rest of the board on this? Helloo...?

Of course, two of my sometimes readers are chapter mates. I trust discretion is the better part of valor with you both.

I'm so tempted.
Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Critique Partner

I now have a critique partner. As I mentioned in my last post, I met with a chapter mate & friend to brainstorm for both our newest story idea. I suggested we become official CPs and she loved the idea. We agreed to meet the first and third Saturdays of the month. We met on a Saturday morning and agreed to send the other something by Sunday evening. We agreed a max would be approximately 2500 words.

What we didn't discuss was what being critique partners entailed so now I think we have to have a conversation and lay out some ground rules. Perhaps mine were set too high and hers were ... I don't know.

Granted she was leaving for the RWA conference that Monday and did not have a whole lot of time, but she took the time to read it, critique it (and I use that term loosely for the moment), and send it back.

Just FYI, I'm trying my hand at an erotic romance. And I'm excited because my new CP seems to have read a lot of those, and I'm thinking she'll be able to point out my weakness as I dip my toes.

So... I find my chapter returned and open it eagerly, hoping, expecting lots of red pen (metaphorically speaking). But no...

She's marked spelling, missing words, capital letters, etc. She's given me a basic edit. And had I been able to run my chapter through MS Word at the office before sending it to her, I would have caught probably all those mistakes myself. *sigh*

Not that I don't occasionally miss a missing word or a misspelling, and a second and even third pair of eyes for those are always welcome, but I need a critique. A nit picker, a question asker, hole poker... Someone to rip it to shreds if that's what's needed. Not a spell checker.

I didn't get a critique.

So, this Saturday when we meet I'll hand her the critique of her chapter and hopefully she won't cry. (kidding)

And then we'll have to work on what we each expect from the other in this critique relationship.

Any suggestions?
Friday, July 23, 2010

What have I been up to...

...since I haven't been posting?

Writing mostly. And working sort of. It's very slow around here, which I don't mind on the one hand, but means, on the other, that we are not making very much money. :(

But the writing is going quite well. I wrote 14,197 new words between June 19th and July 17th. That equals approximately 57 official manuscript pages (250 words per double spaced page at Courier New size 12 font).

What's so special about those dates? My RWA chapter meetings. At each meeting we share our page counts. Those with the highest count for the previous month get a little a something at the meeting and then in December our chapter gives out awards for those with the highest cumulative total.

I decided to shoot for 16K words for this month. I crested the 5K mark yesterday and in only a week. Cool, huh? The downside is it's all fan fiction. I can't sell it for money. Not that the interaction and feedback from my fellow fen aren't actually just as gratifying. However. I talked with another chapter mate and he mentioned he was expecting a royalty check. I asked how much, being nosy and said as much, hundreds or thousands? He said thousands. What??? I want some checks like that. And his book was e-pubbed and came out last fall. Hmm... The kicker here is that he writes erotic romance. I'm not sure I can pull that off. But that's where the money is apparently.

I did finally get an idea for a piece of original fiction and will be meeting with my writing friend this weekend to brainstorm. I'm woefully weak in the plot/conflict department.

I know I can churn out the words. I can leave readers hanging on hooks at the end of chapters. My stories are clean--little or no spelling, punctuation, or grammar issues. But do I write the emotion well? Do I capture setting? Can I create my own compelling characters? I don't know, I haven't done it in awhile.

I also need a critique partner who knows the genre and the rules. I think this weekend when I meet with my friend, I may pitch formalizing our relationship into that of critique partners.

And then, of course, I need to start writing original fiction again. Oh, boy...
Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Whew!

The boys are back in town. Hubby and son, that is.

Fireworks sales have not been completely tabulated yet, but should be more than anticipated. YAY! Of course, we still have to pay for the inventory we bought, a sizable payment toward the original purchase of the store itself, a payment to our son who hubby has made part owner until he leaves home. He's still debating what he wants to buy: an iPad or a cell phone, maybe both--if we agree to let him get a cell phone. The girls did not get one until they were sixteen and son is only fourteen, so...there will be discussion. Right now, he uses mine when I let him.

The boys are glad to be home in their own beds with access to a real shower. I, on the other hand, have to get used to sharing a bed again. ;) Ah, well, small price to pay for having hubby home.

And now life can return to semi-normal.
Thursday, June 24, 2010

A Time for Quiet...

...literally.

Hubby and son are in the wilds of central Texas manning our fireworks store. No outdoor stand for us any longer. We graduated to a building, indoors with air conditioning and living quarters. Woo hoo!

But I digress.

One daughter moved out a couple of weeks ago and the other was whisked off as a counselor at our church's children's camp for the week.

I have been at home blessedly alone with only the dogs for company since Sunday night. I kid you not, this is probably the first time I have really been alone in that house for any length of time since we moved in nine years ago this month!

It's very quiet. And odd. Even when my daughter's home, she's usually holed up in her room doing her own thing or sleeping, so it's not as if we spend a lot of time in the same room. But to know she's not even in there is just...well, odd.

Don't get me wrong, I'm certainly enjoying this vacation of sorts. I've gotten into a little routine and I like it. It's going to suck to have to go back to old routines when everyone starts coming back home.

Well, back to work. I'm leaving early today so I've got some things to get done. Shh...
Thursday, June 17, 2010

Happy Birthday--

Today would have been my daddy's 63rd birthday.

Sadly, he died last November.

Happy Birthday, Dad.
Tuesday, June 15, 2010

A Time to Step Up...

For my son.

We went to a meeting for the band last evening. It was little overwhelming, even for me. But what a great experience for the boy. The teacher has been teaching at that school seventeen years and at one of feeder middle schools for several years prior to that. She knows what she's about. It's apparent that she loves music and she loves kids. She hosts extra band camps in June and July that she doesn't get paid for in order to ensure the band has a leg up in learning the music and routines.

He won't get to slide in his school work any longer--there will be weekly grade checks in order to play at football games. Band practice every morning and on Tuesday evenings.

The Band Booster raises/spends close to $30K a year. Wow! But they provide everything from instrument lube oil, the sheet music, reeds for the woodwinds, drum sticks, etc... I guess I'll be a busy band mom this year. I think it's going to be an awesome experience for him (and me). This is a fairly protected group, for which I'm glad. It sounds terrible, but he'll have little time for the two friends I don't care for that are a grade ahead of him.

Plus he wants to play baseball in the spring and we've convinced him to take JROTC, as well, as he wants to join the Marines. He's going to be a busy, exhausted boy. He'll have little time to get into trouble.

So I dropped $100 last night to get him up and running with a uniform and marching shoes and other band paraphernalia. Of course, now I have to buy him an instrument. Yikes! Keep your fingers crossed we can find a good used one for a reasonable price.

The cool, but curious thing was that the teacher has made him first trumpet already. She knows him from last year as she spent some time with his middle school band and she is familiar with his ability, but he's a freshman. What happened to all the other trumpet players? Did they ALL graduate? Interesting. A good opportunity, to be sure, but odd.

Look out high school, here he comes!
Monday, June 14, 2010

A Time for Birthdays

I just celebrated my birthday this past Saturday. It started off a little in question. Not a standard birthday, to be sure, but it turned out just fine.

First of all, hubby and son were out of town at a paintball event. So the house was quiet since Wednesday. We'll celebrate together this week--maybe another hamburger at the sports bar. It was pretty tasty.

Oldest daughter moved out on Wednesday evening as well. Not under the best circumstances, but not unexpected or even necessarily unwanted. I was more sad and relieved than upset.

Younger daughter gave me a $50 iTunes gift card, a bag of my favorite gummi bears, and Band Hero. We played Band Hero for awhile then went out for a nice juicy hamburger and took a stroll around Target where I bought myself a dvd set of one of my favorite TV shows.

Aside from that, I spent the weekend writing (@ 3000+ words since Wednesday!) and watching a few other miscellaneous TV shows. Overall, an enjoyable and productive weekend.
Friday, May 28, 2010

A Time to be Proud...

My baby's not a baby anymore. He's fourteen and a half, is taller than me, almost taller than his dad, and has hairs growing on his chin. He'll be graduating eighth grade in a week or so and moving on to high school. My scariest moment so far....but that's not why I'm posting.

Last night we attended the spring band concert and (band) awards program. He started off in the 6th grade playing the trumpet, but volunteered to switch to the baritone earlier this school year because the band was lacking in the low brass section. The fingerings are identical, so the transition was relatively easy and he has the stature and lung capacity to handle a larger instrument.

So he walked away with several awards:

Outstanding Advanced Band Member - came with a trophy!
Best 8th Grade Baritone Player - certificate & medal
Pride of the Band Award - certificate
Participation - certificate & medal
Band Star - certificate & medal

He'll be joining the high school band. In fact, the HS band teacher has worked closely with the middle school band this year and knows my son by name already. She seems to like him and he seems to like her. Last fall, the MS band played at a couple of football games and the HS band came to play alongside them. Tim can hold his own with the HS band. He's got talent and skill--even the teacher said so, it's not all mom-brag, I swear.

Needless to say, I'm very proud of my son.

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Jen FitzGerald
Thanks for stopping by one of my little corners of the world wide web. So, a little about me...My husband and I have been married for twenty years and we have three adult children although our youngest is still in high school. We've lived in Texas for fifteen years and for the rest of the story, click here.
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Jen's Glossary of Terms

  • DH = my husband
  • my Brown Eyed Girl = my oldest daughter
  • DD = my Darling Daughter (the younger one)
  • Sonshine or Marching Band Boy = my son
  • NT = the North Texas chapter of RWA
  • RWA = Romance Writers of America