Sunday, November 30, 2008

Author's Incognito Christmas Story

I have decided that the reason why I sometimes go so long in between blogs, is that I keep waiting for me to come up with something funny and entertaining to write about--or at least something interesting.

Then I realized that I haven't done that at all up to this point, so why start now?

I might as well write constantly in the inane and humdrum style and hope that inspiration strikes at some point.

Like maybe my next life.

So today's blog will not be funny or entertaining or interesting. It probably won't be inspirational either. Humdrum though, I can pretty much guarantee. And thanks to my spell check, I will probably have very few spelling errors.

So we have that going for us.

It is the last day of November and my Yahoo group 'Author's Incognito' (a group of LDS Writers) have started a Christmas story. Each day someone new writes another chapter in the story and we see how it turns out on Christmas.

My day is this coming Saturday. December 6th.

I was looking forward to it in a going-to-the-in-laws kind of way (not too horrible, but you know that at some point disaster could strike without warning..), but now after reading the first couple of chapters I'm looking forward to it more in the 'going-to-the-dentist-for-a-root-canal' type way. I've had time to think about what I've gotten myself into--adding a chapter to authors who are actually published, instead of authors such as myself who write a bunch and WISH they were published. And where I was sort of hoping for an easy, cliche filled icky-sweet Christmas story, we have already had one woman flying to China, her husband in a hospital in Boise, and nary a single elf or Christmas miracle in sight.

At this point I'd be happy for a leg lamp and someone with their eye shot out with a bb gun...
(it's a major award...)

The good news is that I am early enough in the rotation that the skilled writing of the other authors can salvage whatever damage I might do to the story on my day.

I was hoping to gain a tiny bit of assurance in this whole scheme that I have a bit of talent and am not just fooling myself into a sense of skill, so the bad news is that is pretty much not going to happen.

Oh, well.

Since it isn't my next life yet (the life I am really starting to look forward to, by the way--I'm thinking that I'm going to be pretty darn amazing in my next life--brilliant, talented, "really, really good looking" (you have to say that like Zoolander, or it loses it in the translation...) :) ), I do have all power on December 6th. I can pretty much take the story to new maybe Des Moines. Who needs Boise, right? I just got back from there and it isn't anything to write home about. Or write a Christmas story about...

I'm starting to think more and more about every Christmas cliche out there, and I'm fairly certain I could take this story to a whole new level of hair-pulling frustration for the other authors.

Okay. I wouldn't do that. Not intentionally anyway. But I would have a lot of fun thinking about doing just that.

Instead, I will take my 24 hour time frame for writing and do my very best for what is given to me and hope that what I end up writing just helps make the flow easier for the next author in line.

Darn, I'm too nice.

Maybe I'll write my own Christmas story this month. I'll start tomorrow and go every day if possible. That way I will leave the serious book alone and the other A.I. writers won't hate me.

Be forewarned...I'm also restricting my diet and exercising more this coming month, so for the first week I'm going to be horrifically cranky. It will probably show up in my story. Sugar/chocolate withdrawals will do that to me.

And please remember the disclaimer at the beginning of this post. Humdrum I guarantee. Everything else is a crap shoot.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

As Long As We're Dreaming...

I think I have mentioned before about how one of my mom's favorite past times is to imagine herself winning the Publisher's Clearinghouse Sweepstakes, and then proceed to figure out to the penny how she would spend the 10 million dollars...

If I have mentioned it, I might be repeating myself here...but this is where my rambling thoughts are taking me today, so if you read on it is your own fault. :)

My mom figures out how much money she will give to each of her kids. And then proceeds to worry about 'ruining' us with the gift and imagines us all (or most of us) blowing through the money in record time with nothing to show for it except maybe some photos of exotic vacations and a mortgage on a house we would no longer be able to afford. Of course, I'm sure she figures all the breadwinners in the family will have quit their jobs when given a cool million or two, so she will be worried that once we have no more funds we won't be easily employed.

Which is where the REAL nightmare starts, and she pictures all six of her kids, their respective spouses, and all 27 (?) grandkids move into her house with her and dad. Which means she goes back to her original 'How would I spend the money' thought and revises her dream home to include a lot more bedrooms and bathrooms to fit all of us.

Or she decides to not give us any money at all so that she avoids the whole ruining part of her dream. Which is nice.

What started out as a pleasant 'What if' dream, turns into an ulcer causing headache that just makes my mom glad she won't have the problem of making those decisions. Even though deep down (or maybe not so deep down) she would welcome the opportunity of finding out how it would really all work out.

Her talking about this usually makes me think about what I would do in that situation...what if I suddenly came into millions of dollars? What would I do? I mean besides be annoyed at suddenly finding myself popular--or suddenly meeting relatives I never knew existed, or getting phone calls not from bill collectors (they would be genuinely happy for me for a change ;) ), but from people expecting me to suddenly want to donate money to every cause known (and unknown) to man.

The 'what would you do with X amount of money' daydream is a fairly common one. It is one that helps me keep my husband awake on long driving trips--although now that we are older our answers are not as frivolous and are pretty boring, funds, wedding funds--with 5 daughters that is a worry for him--mission funds, retirement...My husband usually throws in a car just for kicks, but it isn't anything exciting like a Lotus Elise, but he wants a Mercedes diesel sedan that he gets with no mileage on it so he can keep it forever and drive it to a million miles...

So we have upped the daydream. Beyond money, we take it personal.

What would you imagine you being like if you could picture a perfect life? What would you change in your motivations and goals and life situation?

This discussion usually touches on money...I think most people assume that having money is a better option than not having money. So you wouldn't hear us say "Well, for one thing, we'd be dirt poor and living paycheck to paycheck". Sorry. Been there, done that. :)

Usually we just say that we have enough money for our needs, plus extra for saving and having the freedom to be able to do what we want without worry. Then we move on to other things...

Oh, and one big rule with this discussion--Never suggest what the other person could change to be better. Never, ever, ever. Not unless you want the silent treatment for the next three days.

We talk about physical changes. Like, I would--without the pain of surgery or dieting--be back to my pre-kids weight, but actually have a chest that needs no help from 'miracle' bras. (Can I say that outloud?)

We talk about personality changes. I would probably hope to be more outspoken and quicker to help others. I know my husband would rather I show more emotion--he actually complains that I am too even tempered. Ha. He has no idea how good he has it--until he sees one of his friend's wives throw a complete tantrum over something ridiculous, and then he is forever grateful and thanks me for not being a 'typical' female. Which I am sure I should be offended about that crack, but that would take actual energy... :)

We talk about spiritual changes. I would love to be a scriptorian. I, however, have a memory like a seive. Maybe in my next life....
Until then, we always discuss how we should read and study more, pray more sincerely. Etc. Things we really have the power to do and change, but as you'll see in the next category I am just not that good of a person yet.

We talk about habits--ones we need to gain, and ones we need to lose. I am stuck in the "ignorance is bliss" mode of life. I am fabulously skilled at ignoring the things I should be doing. I'm not proud of that fact. Usually. But I am good at it. If I could change habits--adding or subtracting them with the snap of my fingers--I would probably be a better time-manager. I seem to waste more time than I should. And I would be organized and "together". Although I would probably need a solid definition on "together" in order to really grasp that one.

We talk about professional choices. This can be hard if your spouse or you had a different vision of what his or her life would be like at this point. Annoyingly depressing, actually. So don't forget to keep a lighthearted backup plan ready to fire off if you see the eyes glaze over. For example when my husband starts off with "I always planned on being a doctor. It is what I studied for. It is what I went to school for. It is what I had as a goal since I was eight years old." It would be a good idea to throw out something like, "My high school career center test told me I should be a migrant tree farmer, but I think if I really applied myself it would be fun to be a rodeo clown." Just the shock factor if you can say that and keep a straight face, should be enough to pull the dramatics back about fifty notches and get him over the melodramatic hump.

I'll add a warning to this discussion, should you choose to bring it up with your spouse or a friend. Unless you keep it light, this can be a depressing topic. Not just the career part. And if you don't stick to the rule about not giving the other person suggestions for themselves to change, you will not enjoy this chat even a little. Even if you start your sentence with "We should", that is a dangerous direction to head. Because chances are you meant "You should"...not really "we" should.

So, as long as we are dreaming...what would my picture perfect life be like?

Kids who grow up as assets to society, who help others and are friends to the underdogs.
A husband who is a doctor. :) Or at least finally happy with who he really is so that it doesn't bother him anymore.
A family that enjoys spending time together and is well rounded and not caught up with the things of the world.
Good friends.
More time with extended family.
And an abundance of love to give and to receive.

Oh, and I'd look fabulous, be able to eat all the chocolate I want with no weight gain, and will have just won the Publisher's Clearinghouse Sweepstakes....

As long as we're dreaming. :)

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

What Kind of Family Are You?

Every once in a while, my husband and I will start talking about what kind of family we want to be.

The conversation usually starts after we have done something out of the ordinary but really enjoyed, like gone water skiing, or camping. Or when we have been talking with friends who have told us about some random family activity that they participate in, like one neighbor who has a daughter who is heavily involved in Jr. Rodeo, or another neighbor who always spends a lot of time during the winter with their family snow skiing.

My husband and I end up making a list of all the activities we used to enjoy before we had kids. Then we add to that list the things we always thought we would be doing with our kids.

Then we make a list of things we actually DO with our kids, and proceed to get a bit depressed at the lack of fun and excitement in our lives. :)

After the depression phase of our discussion, we pick at the list and work it down to what we really think we might do with the family. Our list would be longer if it were just the two of us, or if our kids were all older...but we work it and tweak it and do the best we can. Add the pros and cons, and then pretty much just move forward as always until the urge to make new lists hit us. Which is sad, really...

What we end up with is usually a list something like this:

1. Water skiing family--my dad has a ski boat, we have bought enough life-jackets and water tubes over the last couple of years for just our family to make it a good possibility. Negatives--pretty much the cost in gas lately. And my fear of the kids drowning. But I'm working on that last one.

We actually went water skiing this past summer at Jordanelle Resevoir. This is two of the kids on one of our tubes.

2. Snow skiing family--Only my husband snow skis--which is pretty much sacrilege since I grew up here in Utah and have only snow skied once. We both think it would be fun for the kids to learn. I am still fairly certain that until they put breaks on skis or snow becomes warm that I want nothing to do with this one...
This is all the kids with husband in the background...we haven't ever gone snow skiing together so the best I could do for a photo is this one when we went to cut our own Christmas tree last year...snow was involved, so I figured this counts.

3. Horse family--We live at a house with horse property. We have owned horses before. I start at this point remember that my 3rd daughter is allergic to alfalfa and unless we can work around that one, it bumps down the list..but you note that it is usually still on the list.

Somewhat embarrassing, but this is a photo of me and my horse Summer about 20 years ago. Nice hair I had then, huh?

4. Camping/Hiking family--Not as expensive as any of the other options, and being in Utah we are blessed with all kinds of fascinating places to hike and camp. The negative with this one is that our youngest are still too young to hike very far and I am sooo not going to carry anyone.

This is Kelly, Victoria, and JD on a hike this past summer in the Uintahs with their dad. The littles and Kady stayed home with me.

5. TV/Movie/Hang-out at Home family--oh, wait. We already do this one.

I had to add this photo...I like Aragorn. :) He's way hotter than Legolas...

6. Soccer family--Everyone in the family plays soccer. From husband, to me, to all the kids. Well, Victoria refuses to enjoy soccer anymore so that is a problem...but out of default I think we have to just have this one be one of our descriptions--otherwise the insane amount of time I spend coaching, watching, and playing soccer year round would be a waste.

This is my oldest daughter (in purple) playing for her high school soccer team this fall.

7. My kids want to be a 'Go to Every Disneyland in the World' family. Sounds good to me.

So what kind of family are you? What activities do you all do together? What do you wish you did? Or what did you think you would always do when you first got married and then found out that real life kind of snuck up on you and you let it go?

I guess as long as we are doing things together, it doesn't matter what "kind" of family we are. It would be nice to do more things together no matter what the activity. We are lucky that we still enjoy each others company--even with two teenagers and three pre-kindergarteners and two in between...
And now that I've taken waayy more time to write this blog than I planned, I am fairly certain that in about 5 minutes from now we are going to become a "Clean That Mess Up Right Now" kind of family.
Ah, togetherness.
Gotta love it. :)

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Procrastination Pays Off

My whole life I have been a procrastinator.

That is NOT news to anyone who knows me.

From putting off homework all through school until the very last minute, to having to end up doing things myself because I put off asking someone to help out...I put things off with the best of them.

In college I remember having a major English paper due at the end of the quarter. I knew about it for a good month. A friend of mine had the same class and she very diligently studied and wrote her paper, completing it with two weeks to spare. She would ask me if I had written my paper yet and my answer was always "Um. No. I should probably start thinking about that."

The day before the paper was due, I spent 13 solid hours in the college library. I studied. I wrote. I turned my paper in the day it was due having finished the last draft about twenty minutes before class.

My friend who finished her paper two weeks early? She got a C+. Me? I got an A.

My friend was not happy with me.

I, however, was quite proud of myself. :)

Fast forward to this week.

Yesterday was Halloween. We still hadn't bought pumpkins for everyone to carve since I am the great putter-offer. So I loaded kids in the car as soon as school was out and we drove to two grocery stores--All pumpkins...Sold out. I'm thinking, "Crap, maybe I should start actually getting things early. My kids are going to kill me if I can't find a stinkin' pumpkin."

I drove over to a 'pick your own pumpkin' lot with my fingers crossed, and was thrilled to see their field still had a ton of pumpkins. The kids all picked one out (Remember I have 7 kids here...), and I went to pay asking "How much for these 7 pumpkins?"

The answer: "I'm dollaring them out today since it is Halloween. So that will be $7."

Woo hoo! :)

My procrastination saved me at least $14. If I had bought my pumpkins at WalMart at the start of last week like I considered briefly, they were selling for $3 each. Times 7 would have been $21. Plus tax.

That was huge.

I shouldn't really be proud of my procrastination bonuses, but sometimes it has paid off. And I won't be showing my kids this blog entry anytime soon since I keep hounding them about getting homework done early so they can relax and make fun of all the kids who are up late doing their projects at the last minute. I'm not thrilled with being a hypocrite on top of being a procrastinator, but that's what I'm looking at.

Someday I'll work on not putting things off. But not today. Maybe a week from next Tuesday...unless something comes up....