Time Traveling With Kids: Childhood Memories

memoriesToday I took my two youngest children back in time to a place where my fondest childhood school days were experienced.

Twenty five years ago I was a little girl playing tag, swinging as high as I could go, pretending to rob a train, having races to the top of the jungle gym, rubbing dirt on my hands so the rings wouldn’t give me blisters, lying in the grass in the sun, looking for four leaf clovers, making clover flower crowns and pretending there were trolls under the slide as we slide down the “bridge.”

It was there on that little first and second grade playground of my little mountain school where I made my first true friend.

It was there I first remember conquering a fear as I tried again and again to swing on the rings. I remember leprechaun foot prints, my first standardized testing, what it meant that someone was popular and I was not, and being bullied. I remember the great swelling of love for my few true friends who always knew how to make me forget about the things that made me sad.

As I watched my kids play under the big canopy of trees on some of the very pieces of playground equipment that I had played on, I could see myself, happy, and running from my class room to go off on my next adventure with my friends.

These were my happiest school memories.

When I think of the things I went through, the struggles I had, I truly believe that God put me there on that mountain school playground to save me. I needed that time of stability to be a child. I needed those friends that I made and kept through childhood.

When my two youngest kids wanted to take a break from playing, I took them over to look through the windows of my old classrooms.

Even though the rooms are used as storage now, there are still relics of teachers with displays on the walls and the evidence of years of students. For a moment, I could see where we’d have story time and where my life size drawing of myself hung on the window next to my class mates.  I was able to tell my son, who’s going into first grade, what I used to do in class and what I used to play with my friends. I told him about some of the games we made up. I could see the wheels turning in his little head of some of the things he too could do with his friends.

I had no idea what this little trip to the playground was going to do to me.

It was just a beautiful summer morning. Even though I’d driven past the closed down school hundreds of times, today was the first time in twenty five years that I had actually set foot on that playground. It hit me. It hit me hard.  And while I am weeping about it now, there was nothing but absolute joy for me while I was there sharing this experience with my kids. My tears right now, are tears of joy and gratitude for those happy childhood memories –some of the very best memories that I have.

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My Happy Place: Where All Is Good

happy place bees

Do you have a happy place? A place you go where you it just makes you smile and everything seems so good?

Right now, my happy place is my garden.

Outside my office window, this tree (shrub?) is blooming. While it is wrecking havoc with my allergies, there is a happy buzz of bees gathering pollen. These amazing little creatures have practically swarmed this tree and the air vibrates with the beat of their wings. They did this when the orange tree was blooming too and I love it.

happy place marigolds

I haven’t been up to full speed lately -which means I’m still doing a lot by most people’s standards, but not by mine. It turns out that that “off” feeling I’d been experiencing for a while is more than just being out of shape like I was hoping. There’s actually something more substantial going on with my body and I’m going through the process of seeing different doctors to get it sorted out. I still don’t know exactly what it is, but I have my suspicions. Don’t worry, I don’t think it’s going to kill me. 🙂 But it has affected every part of my life, even down to the simple act of writing. It’s been a frustrating experience.

That’s why I planted marigolds in my planter box this year. Every time I go out to pull a few weeds, gather herbs or water plants, these bright orange and yellow little flowers make me smile. They are also attracting lady bugs which makes me smile too.

happy place carrots

Something else that makes me smile, is when my garden is actually producing. This is my last carrot harvest until the fall because the weather is warming up quite a bit and carrots don’t like the heat. Since switching to a square foot gardening system (mostly), I continue to be amazed at how much food you can grow in just a little amount of space. The wonder of it is another thing that makes me happy.

happy place rosemary

Rosemary cuttings that will be prepped for drying.

Another reason my garden is my happy place, is because I can see the result of my labors. I don’t have a lot of energy  to dig and pull weeds, or to spend hours out there. However, my efforts to learn more about gardening and consistently spending just a few minutes a day pulling up the invaders, pruning and planting, have really paid off in the long run.

I hope that by applying the same principles to my writing, that some day I will see the same results. I’d like writing to be my “happy place” again, and hopefully soon. Until then, my garden is the next best thing.

What about you? What’s your happy place?

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Writing Is like Growing Onions: Making Mistakes

mistakes onion bulbsI’ve made a lot of mistakes lately and have had some epic failures. One particular project took me two months before I finally just gave up and threw in the towel.

I’ve also had a lot of discouragement. That’s nothing new. Life is full of discouragement and that’s alright, even when it may not seem like it at the time.

Sometimes when you’ve worked so hard for something, you have nothing at the end to show for it. Worse, you might have equipment lying about that’s not being used, reminding you of the money and time you spent only to give up at the end.

But you know what’s great about writing? Writing is like growing onions.

Now how in the world is writing like growing onions? That seems like quite the stretch doesn’t it?

When  you grow onions, you often start out with something small like a seed or an onion start.

Here’s two ways that works with writing:

First. As a writer, you have to start somewhere. Did you start as a child with the wonder of creating your own stapled construction paper book? Did you start with a class on basic story structure? Chances are, none of us started out as a fully grown onion, but needed to be taught and “watered” along the way.

Second. Every story, article, poem or what-have-you, started out as a seed -an idea. Then through work, you had to help that piece of writing grow.

The next way that writing is like growing onions is that it’s ok to make mistakes.

I am fairly new to growing onions. I tried five or six years ago and really had an epic failure. Since that time, I’ve learned a lot about gardening and so I thought I’d try my hand at growing onions again, applying all my accumulated knowledge. Everything was going great until I learned I had made a typical rookie mistake. I let my onions bolt (bloom). Apparently this stops the onion bulb from developing properly and long term storage of the onion might not be possible.

As writers, particularly new writers, we all make mistakes. Sometimes they are epic mistakes and sometimes they are only minor ones. It’s ok to learn from these mistakes and try again, and again, and again. The important thing is to learn from your mistakes.

Even if you make mistakes, you still have something to show for it.

mistakes onion harvest

The best way that writing is like growing onions, is that even if you do make a mistake, you still have something to show for it. With onions, you can pull up and use the onion pretty much at any point in the growing process. There’s no reason to throw it all away a sulk. You can enjoy the blooms if you get them and you can still enjoy the amazing flavor of homegrown onions.

With writing, even though you may have made mistakes, you’ve still written something. You can try to fix it or make the best of it. You can learn from it and you can even enjoy your writing, epic flaws and all.

What else is writing like?

Writing is like losing weight.

Writing is like Photography and

Writing is Like Going To A Dance.


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That Soccer Mom Ran Circles Around Me

soccer momA “Soccer Mom” is a general term to describe a woman who spends a lot of time driving her school aged kids around to various activities.

Wikipedia has a pretty good description (of course!) for the term “Soccer Mom” and if you really want to read more about it and how it came to be, you can find it here.  But for the sake of this post, let’s just say I never wanted to be one, -or at least the stereotype of one.

I never wanted to be the one who’s kids were involved in more than one activity at a time and certainly not having multiple kids concurrently involved in these activities.

I never wanted to be the one who spent three fourths of her life in the car driving these darling kiddos to where they needed to go while they methodically drove her crazy (<—I’m laughing at that one.)

I’m a home body. I like being home.

I like having my kids home, working with them in the garden and teaching them about plants and animals, and how to get along and love each other (yeah . . . still working on that one). But at the same time, I want to encourage their interests and help them develop talents. So . . . that means that this past month, despite my best efforts, I have become . . . a Soccer Mom. Yeah, I know in my last post I claimed I wasn’t. I guess this is just the universe laughing at me.

Until last week, two of my kids were involved in sports practices on the same days (almost the same times) with trying to get music lessons in and other activities. Basketball took up every Saturday. The Saturday before last I was very thankful that there were two parents in the family because my son had basketball at one end of the valley, while my daughter had track at the other end. Last week, I spend six out of the seven days away from home doing what needed doing.

During this past month my husband and I experienced a new level of exhaustion.

We honestly went to bed early more than we didn’t and every day we woke up exhausted but still needing to run. I’m not even ashamed to admit that we had cereal for dinner several times. We went from “mostly on top of it” mode to “survival” and “that’s going to have to be good enough” mode.

Through it all, I was able to still work on writing. Obviously if  you’ve been a frequent reader (thank you for that by the way), you may have noticed my long absence. I found I had time to work on my book, but at the expense of my blog. At first I stressed about it. After all, I’m paying for this blog and I need to get my money’s worth. But honestly? What was there for me to write about? I’m so stressed! I’m so busy. I just don’t have time to write. Blah! That’s everyone. Yeah it’s nice to know that other writers are experiencing the same things that I am, but with my limited time, I decided it was more important to just write. So I stopped stressing about the blog.

I also came to the realization that Soccer Moms are amazing and that there’s a certain kind of beauty to the constant chaos.

With the school year coming to a close, things are getting easier. I knew the “busyness” would only be temporary. I can not imagine being this busy ALL THE TIME.  Because of this, I have a new appreciation for those who do the Soccer Mom thing all year long. It also makes me wonder how they possibly have the energy for it (without resorting to copious amounts of caffeine -because that’s just not my thing). Parenthood is amazing and the time and energy we sacrifice for our kids is never wasted and a thing a beauty.

If nothing else, this past month has taught me to live more fully in the moment because that’s all I had.

If I thought too much about what I needed to do, it led to the kind of stress that melts metals. I turned car rides into laughing sessions and had more quiet talks. It wasn’t just a month I got through, it was a month I lived through.  I feel pretty good about that.

So what have you guys been up to lately?

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Patience: In It For The Long Haul


One of the views from my solo hike this past Saturday.

I recently read a post on Writer Unboxed by Tracy Hahn-Burkett called “Patience over the Long, Long Haul.” I felt it was directed at me. It talks about writing especially when things are just taking foreeeveeeerrrrrr. It was really nice to read because sometimes it feels like I must be the laziest writer in all the world. I’m not! I’m totally not. But I’m also unpublished. It’s one of those situations where people don’t realize just how hard you are working because you don’t have anything “concrete” to show for it yet.

I must admit that sometimes this gets to me. I’ve written four books and I’m trying my hardest to get one ready to query this year. But sometimes I go days without touching my manuscript and it just kills me.

You see, I spend a lot of my days making targets or building ships out of legos. I’m also a master at shaping play dough into Star Wars ships. Millennial Falcon, Tie Fighter, X-Wing . . .  I’ve even made At-Ats. Am I a cool mom or what? Aside from that, I’m also doing all the typical, necessary chores that make this house run. I’m also a family “bus” driver to get my kids to music lessons, sport practices, church activities. I’m not a soccer mom though.  Nope! And before you think my kids are over scheduled . . . I’m also a lazy mom. They don’t get to participate in EVERYTHING. I just can’t handle that.

I’m also trying to get healthy again (which is like another full time job). I know I’m getting older . . .(yes, I hear this all the time) but my body just isn’t working efficiently right now. I’m thinking that five pregnancies, four births, breastfeeding and nine months on contaminated vitamins  has put my body through the wringer. I’m not overweight, I’m in general good health, but you know when you know your body’s just a little off? Well that’s me right now and I’m trying to get things “right” again. I’ve been trying everything with very little results until now. Wouldn’t you know, good old calorie counting and a lot of exercise is what’s finally working.

Wow . . . I just went off on a tangent there. Anyway, back to writing. Yes. I love writing. I know this is what I’m supposed to do. It’s nice to know that even though this is taking so long to actually accomplish something, there’s still hope. The ship hasn’t sailed away, leaving me back on the dock wondering if I should try to swim after it or just give up. As Tracy’s article states, I just need to quit beating myself up about it. I need to have patience. I’m doing what I should be doing and I’m good with that.

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