Friday, May 23, 2008

Tag, I'm it!

Julie over at Joy's Hope (the WAHM I mentioned in my last blog) tagged me for this little survey. Haven't gotten one of these in a while!

What I was doing 10 years ago
Let's see, 1998. Well, if we get specific and say May of 1998, then I was packing up my gear down at U of Illinois in preparation for moving home for the summer. I'd just finished my second junior year (or first senior year--I was on the 5 year plan thanks to my stint abroad in Scotland the year before), ended a rebound relationship I had no business being in in the first place, and was preparing to start an internship with the Axis ministry at Willow Creek Church.

Five things on my to-do list today
Since I'm in La Jolla today and not home, I don't really have a to-do list--this is like a mini vacation. Were I at home, the list would be pretty mundane: get the dishes done, clear up the kitchen, figure out something decent for dinner, try to get some writing in, spend way too much time on the internet.

Snacks I enjoy
Oh man, this is just cruel to ask--it makes me think of all the things I can't have now that I'm dairy-free. Big ol' bowl of cereal, cheese puffs, chocolate...hold on while I mop up this drool...

Things I would do if I were a millionaire
Relocate. Bail some folks I know out of debt. Donate to a handful of ministries. That's probably it. A million bucks doesn't go as far as you'd think when you start to really calculate. If I were a MULTI-millionaire the list would be amended to say "a lot" instead of "a handful" of ministries.

I don't know how many people I'm supposed to tag, but I'll tag my hubsters, Meg, Kelli, and Kyle.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

The newsletter!

So I'm finally taking the leap and creating a newsletter. It's something I've been contemplating for a while, and since I've never been busier in my life than I am right now, it seemed logical to throw caution to the wind and pile one more spoonful of potato salad onto the overflowing buffet plate that is my life. Why not, right?

The first issue will come out this June, and at this point it will be a bi-monthly affair. Every issue will have a contest (with fun prizes!), an article, Q & A, book release and writing news, book reviews and recommendations, and the WAHMmy Corner, which will profile one or two Work At Home Moms who make awesome stuff that everyone should know about. I've developed a heart for WAHMs lately, not only because I am one and I know how hard it is to balance work and motherhood, but because I want those moms to be able to continue staying home with their babies, and the more customers they get, the more likely it is they'll be able to!

The first contest is starting now, before the first issue even releases. My newsletter needs a name! So sign up to receive it, then put on your thinking cap, get creative, and send me your idea. The winner will be announced in the first issue, and the prize is a signed copy of Worlds Collide and a movie pass pack!

Know of a WAHM who deserves international recognition? Have a question for the Q & A column? Email me! And don't forget to sign up--the form is in the sidebar!

Monday, May 19, 2008

WAHMs rock! (edited to correct a url)

My foray into the world of cloth diapering has made me much more aware of just how many mamas are out there busting their butts to work from home so they can stay with their babies. I can't tell you how many hundreds of diaper brands there are out there, but only a small percentage of them are companies. The rest are moms who decided to make diapers the way they wanted them, and then started selling them to others who liked their approach and style. Discovering all these WAHMs (work at home moms) has made me want to buy from them whenever I can, be it for diapers, or nursing covers, or wet bags (for dirty cloth diapers), nursing pads, whatever. I know what a tremendous blessing it is for me to be able to stay home with our girls, and I want to help those moms however I can.

To that end, when I start my newsletter (yes, I'm starting a newsletter! More on that later!), I'm going to feature one or two WAHMs in each issue so you can show them a little love the next time you're in need of what they're making.

But until then, here's a WAHM I just learned of when my friend Marcela gave me one of her wares as a baby gift. I thought this was just one of the cutest ideas ever: it's a picnic pack for a baby!

This is what it looks like all folded up and velcro-d closed:

And when you open it up, it has pockets with all these goodies:

It has a bib (handmade in matching fabric), a pack of rice cereal, two jars of baby food, a spoon, and wet wipes to tackle the post-meal mess. How brilliant is that? And how adorable is that fabric?!

Julie is the mastermind behind this project, and her store is located at She's in the middle of restocking her supply, but she also has some other great products available at her other store, Super cute and creative stuff, and fantastic gift ideas. She's going to be launching a new website this summer; I'll include it in my newsletter.

Do you know of a WAHM whose products deserve a wider audience? Leave a comment with their contact info and I'll consider them for a newsletter!

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Embrace Me by Lisa Samson

My homegirl Lisa has a new book out! She rocks! Go buy it! Here's the CFBA blurb for Embrace Me.

Lisa Samson is a Christy Award-winning author of 19 books, including the Women of the Faith Novel of the Year, Quaker Summer. Lisa has been hailed by Publishers Weekly as "a talented novelist who isn't afraid to take risks."

In Embrace Me, the latest novel by acclaimed author Lisa Samson, readers are privy to the realization that regardless of outward appearances…hideous, attractive, or even ordinary…people are all looking for the same things: love, forgiveness, and redemption.

This story explores a world that is neither comfortable nor safe, a world that people like Valentine know all too well. Masterfully crafted by Samson and populated by her most compelling cast of characters yet. It is a tale of forgiveness that extends into all spheres of life: forgiving others, forgiving oneself, forgiving the past.

She lives in Lexintgon, Kentucky, with her husband and three kids.


Biting and gentle, hard-edged and hopeful...a beautiful fable of love and power, hiding and seeking, woundedness and redemption.

When a "lizard woman," a self-mutilating preacher, a tattooed monk, and a sleazy lobbyist find themselves in the same North Carolina town one winter, their lives are edging precariously close to disaster...and improbably close to grace.

Valentine, due to her own drastic self-disfigurement, has very few friends in this world, and it appears as if she may be destined to spend the rest of her life practically alone. But life gives her one good friend, Lella, whose own handicap puts her in the same freakish category as Valentine. As part of Roland's Wayfaring Marvel and Oddities Show, a traveling band of misfits, they seem to have found their niches in an often curiously cruel world.

Residing in a world where masks are mandatory, Valentine has a hard time removing hers, because of her disfigured face but more so because of her damaged soul. It is much easier for her to listen endlessly to different versions of a favorite song, Embraceable You, and escape reality. Yet, life has more in store for her when she meets Augustine, replete with the tattoos, dreadlocks, and his own secrets. With his arrival, Valentine's soul takes a turn.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008


Head colds SUCK. This one whammed me around 3 this afternoon after a few days of being a small, mildly irritating cold. Now I can barely hear, my head is all pressure-y, and my throat is chronically dry. I sang all Abby's lullabies an octave lower than usual and kept having to swallow back coughing spells.

Zicam, do your thing!!!!

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Eight million things

Alright, so, eight million is a bit of an exaggeration, but that's what it feels like. It's been forever since I've had time to sit down and blog more than a brief note. Hopefully I'll remember everything I've been wanting to write about.

1. Abby prays on her own now at nap and bedtime. It's so cute the things she thinks to say thank you for. The other day she included outside, the swingset, the gardeners, and Jesus. Tonight when she was done she said, "Jesus loves me!" So sweet.

2. We went to the Jana Alayra concert last weekend. If you have children between the ages of about 18 months and 8 years, I HIGHLY HIGHLY recommend her stuff. They're such great songs, super catchy, and the concert DVDs (at least the second one, I haven't seen the first) are really fun. She does all these hand motions to the songs, and Abby walks around doing them as best she can and singing in her monotone alto. Adorable. They perform all over the country; if they're ever in your area you totally have to go. Anyway...we got there super early so I could get in line for the first-come, first-served seating. The girls napped in the car and I wrote thank you notes and read. I was first in line, which was awesome, because we wanted to get close enough to let Abby feel like she was a part of the action without having to go down into the mosh pit of children, which of course she would never do. She was pretty overwhelmed by the whole experience; this was her pose for the majority of the concert:

though towards the end she did start doing some of the motions very small in front of her. I think she enjoyed it, though; at least, she says she did, so that's good.

3. Ron Paul is coming to San Diego on the 23rd! He's doing a book signing somewhere in Balboa Park. We're getting decked out (kids too!) in RP gear and going down to see him. I can't wait to meet him. I'm going to bring a copy of Violette Between for his wife. :)

4. I just found ShoutLife. If you're on it, send me a friend invite! I'm giving up on MySpace; it's too overwhelming for me. ShoutLife is a Christian version--or at least, a much more safe version, you don't have to be Christian to join, but they're strict on appropriateness of photos, etc. I can't believe how many friends requests I got on MySpace from totally skanked-out women. Hello!?

5. I'm in the home stretch for my current WIP. Chapter 18 is mere paragraphs from completion, and I think I'll have about 27 altogether, so that's less than 100 pages left to go! Woohoo! My chapters have come out surprisingly even in length, especially considering I don't plan the out ahead of time. They're all between 9 and 11 pages long. I'm over 70,000 words, so I'll be just over 100,000. Right on target! Way past when I'd hoped to complete it, though, but oh well. I've been putting a lot of thought into the next book, so as soon as I wrap up this one I should be able to jump in and start with it. No title yet, though, which is weird; typically titles come to me right away when I start thinking about a book. This one, though, hasn't offered up anything yet. It actually makes it a little harder for me to connect with it when I don't have a proper name for it. "Untitled" or "Current MS" just don't cut it.

6. My friend Meg recently made the jump to cloth diapers for her son, who is a few months younger than Abby. She has completely inspired me. As she points out in one of the first posts she wrote about her decision, the #2 landfill item is diapers. Every single one ever worn is still out there, not any more decomposed than it was when it was first thrown away. GROSS. So even though we're probably not that far from being potty trained (I HOPE), we're making the switch for Abby, too, and once I'm comfortable with the process, for Penelope Jane, too. I just bought my first diaper, which should arrive on Tuesday or Wednesday. Yay! But I'm not stopping there. I'm aiming to stop using paper towels, tissues, and disposable napkins as well. I'm actually going to get out my sewing machine, get it serviced (I don't know WHAT I'm doing wrong, but the thread keeps getting messed up in the bobbin case when I use it), and going to work making my own kitchen cloths, hankies, and napkins. I mean, why not, right? And while I'm at it I'm going to FINALLY get the curtains made for my office, and once Dan's done with class (less than two weeks left in the semester, yay!) we're going to put up the shelves we bought at IKEA an embarrassingly long time ago.

7. For some reason, over the last two or three weeks I've had a major energy shift. I finally reached my personal limit for being lazy, for procrastinating, for shying away from the mundane tasks I just couldn't be bothered with. I know I'm supposed to have less time and energy now that I have another baby, but it's just not true. I'm exercising, I'm cooking dinner, I'm going to the farmer's market again, I'm writing nearly every day, I'm planning an insane amount of sewing, I'm reading my Bible's awesome, I'm so psyched.

8. We got our new swing set! Old, crappy, screws-jumping-out-of-it set:

New, stable, doesn't-give-you-splinters-or-move-when-you-swing set:

The little house at the bottom has much potential; I can just imagine the girls eating lunch out there on rainy days. Here's Abby in there with her buddy Bryson:

9. A couple weeks back on Dancing With The Stars, they had some of the Riverdance performers on doing a number in between announcements of who was in danger of getting kicked off. They also had two kid couples who were contestants in their junior championship. Abby FELL IN LOVE with Riverdance and those two couples. Most mornings we watch that five or six times before our usual Blue's Clues. And now when we watch it she dances around the living room. "Wow--the feet are so fast!" she says when they show the Riverdance people. For Mother's Day Dan bought me a two-disc Riverdance performance, so Abby and I started watching it this morning. I LOVE that show. I've seen it five times, I think--London, Edinburgh, Chicago, and twice here. I saw the London show the first week I moved out to the UK in college, and listened to the soundtrack the whole year I was there, so now whenever I hear it I'm thrown back to my funky little room in Maclay Hall up on Park Terrace in Kelvingrove Park. Ah, the memories! Anyway, I'm happy Abby is so into it; I'm really hoping she'll want to take dance lessons in a couple years. There's even a big Irish dance studio not far from here. Nana took Irish dance lessons as a child; maybe the talent will run in the family!

Well, I think that about catches me up, save for Penny Jane news which I'll post on the baby blog. I'll leave you with a pic of the ladies of the family, taken today in my mom's rose garden. Happy Mother's Day!

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Oh what a night (Drama part III)

THIS is why I never throw anything away! Old computer to the rescue!

It's sad how slow my writing life has been over the last year, but it's also a really good thing, because I was able to recover pretty much everything in that corrupted Books file by retrieving the folder off my previous laptop. The only un-updated thing was my current MS, which I've been saving chapter by chapter on Google Documents and was also able to save through Word into the new folder.

So, as far as I can tell, disaster has been averted. Time for bed.

I am my own worst enemey (Drama part II)

"Oh good!" I said to myself. "I can just restore that Books folder with the one on my external drive! But it's been awhile since I backed everything up--better do that first." So I selected everything on my desktop, dragged it to the external drive, and let it do its thing.

A warning box came up that said, "A file already exists with this name." I clicked "replace," then clicked in the handy "apply to all" box, knowing much of what is on my desktop is already on the drive and not wanting to have to click "replace" a million times.

'Course, what does that mean I replaced? The uncorrupted Books file with the corrupted one.

Just how stupid can I get? Not sure; research is ongoing.


Could it be...Satan?! (Drama part I)

Something is wrong with my Books folder on my desktop. It was fine, I was using it, all was well, and won't open. At all. And if I try to open it through another program (like to upload a file from it, which is what I was trying to do when I first discovered this issue, and which is what I had just done when it was working), it shuts down that program. All my other folders are fine. Just the one that I need to build my career, the one with all my manuscripts and research and ideas. What the heck!?!?

At least I backed everything up. I certainly learned my lesson after the Great Hard Drive Crash and Burn of 2007. But still--why that one folder, out of the ten folders on the desktop? Coincidence? I don't think so...

Monday, May 05, 2008

A million things to blog about...

...but because I really want to exercise before I go to bed, I'm only going to mention this one.

Had never heard of this before, and for a word freak like me it's heaven! Build your vocabulary and feed the hungry--if there's a better way to kill time, I don't know what it is. Try it out.

Friday, May 02, 2008

God is so good

Last year there was a horrific accident on the I-5, just about 10 minutes from where we live. A semi truck barreled into the back of a minivan, killing all three of the family's young children. The community here really rallied around the family--every tree and lamppost and signpost had two pink ribbons and one blue one tied onto them in memory of Emma, Katie, and Kyle. It made it really hard for me to drive because I'd start crying every time I saw them. The anniversary of their death is this coming Sunday.

But guess what happened this past Wednesday?

The mother gave birth.

To triplets.

Two girls and a boy.

As far as I know these folks aren't Christians. To me, this is just an example of how God extends the most amazing and beautiful grace to people even when they don't choose to acknowledge him. Like a parent who can't help but continue to reach out to a rebellious child, God is continually trying to get our attention and show us, his sinful, selfish children, that he is real, and that he loves us so very much.

Welcome to the world, Ashley, Ellie, and Jake.