Growing up, I always imagined of the elegant Christmas tree that would stand majestically in my living room. It would have matching ornaments and maybe red bows. The real and not artificial tree would create a lovely ambience, down to the wonderful pine smell that would enhance my sophisticated living room.
Fast forward to my life now. My family, all six of us, decorated our Christmas tree this week. Taking four children to pick out a Christmas tree is a tradition with us, but one that might be wearing on their nerves. They wanted the first tree that we held upright. Wonderful hubby and I made them look at four before we all agreed on one. We brought it home and decorated it that night. Before I married my wonderful hubby, I worried about how I would ever have enough decorations to fill a tree. Now we have two boxes full of decorations either made by one of the four children or purchased on our summer trips. To say our tree is eclectic is an understatement. There’s an ornament with Santa in a bathing suit (that got the biggest chuckle from Cupcake when she saw it) next to ornaments handed down from my husband’s great aunt. There are handprint pillows next to Scooby-Doo ornaments.
It’s a long way from the elegant tree I envisioned I would have. I think of George Bailey in It’s a Wonderful Life when he gets a chance to see what his life had been like if he’d never been born. Instead I think about my life if I’d never met my wonderful hubby. I’ll take the eclectic tree with the myriad of mismatched ornaments, each with a memory behind it, rather than the imagined elegant tree of my youth. He’s worth it.
How is your life different from how you envisioned it as a teenager? I hope that you’re like me and real life is a whole lot better.
In my neck of the woods, there is a farm less than two miles down the road that offers u-pick blueberries and u-pick pumpkins. In late spring, there are u-pick strawberry farms relatively nearby. In the fall, several orchards feature u-pick apple days.
This year all six of us went blueberry picking. That’s right: six of us. You’d be surprised at how many looks I get when I tell people I have four children. I get the “what a big family” look, the “you’re ruining the environment” look, the “Oh, poor you” look and so on. That’s nothing compared to the looks that I get when I tell people I have twins. In addition to looks, I hear so many comments: “Lucky it’s you and not me,” “I’d never have the patience to handle twins,” “My cousin’s best friend’s veterinarian’s second cousin twice removed has twins.”
My wonderful hubby gets a lot of looks when he tells people the ages of our four children. Kath is 15. MJ is 10. Cupcake and Chunk are 4. Most people ask him if he’s divorced and has started a second family with his second wife (kid you not, real story).
Sometimes it’s hard to find places to take all of our kids for a day of family enjoyment away from the house. Blueberry picking is a fun activity that all ages can enjoy. Recently we went to Tennessee to visit Dollywood. We were rained out. I took Kath, Cupcake and Chunk to a nearby children’s museum while my wonderful hubby took MJ to a science museum as he’s outgrown most of the activities at the children’s museum (Kath was stuck in a quandary but chose the children’s museum over the science museum).
The important thing is that each of them feels loved and part of the family. They may not get to choose what family they have, but they have unique personalities that bring something different to the table.
If you have children, do you have one or more than one? How close in age are they? What have been your favorite looks from strangers regarding your family?
I’ll let you in on a not-so-big secret: I love books. There are books in practically every room of my house. Even the bathrooms in my house have some type of reading material. While I’m not a hoarder, there are books in my bedroom, books in my basement and books in my foyer. This is a house where there are bookshelves in most of the rooms.
From the time they were little, I’ve tried to read to each of my four kids. When my eldest was an only child, we would go to the library. There were times we were there for hours as I read the stack she collected before we took them home to read them again. When MJ was little and Kath was in school, we’d go to the library and he would pick out one book which I would have to read over and over again. Now MJ and Kath are in school and there are two new little ones: Cupcake and Chunk who are now four. I love reading them the same books that I read Kath and MJ. I still love Hairy MacLary from Donaldson’s Dairy, Henry and Mudge, Dr. Seuss, Poppleton, and way more.
Even though I love to read to them, I also love stealing away with a book of my own to read. This afternoon, I found some time to pick up the book I’m reading now: What Happens in Scotland by Jennifer McQuiston. I’m around page one hundred and it’s starting to get really good. I especially love reading about Patrick’s three legged dog, Gemmy. It’s the story of a man and woman who wake up one morning to find they are married to each other, but neither can remember all of the events that led up to their marriage the night before. Now the heroine has run out of the room while the hero believes she stole all of his money. I’m enjoying it and looking forward to reading more of it when the kids are asleep and I’m not writing. I absolutely recommend it (even though I’m not even a third of the way done with it).
What book are you reading right now?
P.S. Stay tuned to my blog as I talk about different things on different days. Mondays are devoted to something about writing, Wednesdays to what I’m reading or watching, Fridays to family and weekends are a mixed bag of all of the above.
One of my favorite TV shows of all time is Ellery Queen. This one season show aired in the mid-1970s and centered around a mystery writer who solved mysteries. (Yes, this preceded Murder, She Wrote.) Last night I was watching one of the episodes on my laptop that featured Ellery working furiously to finish a book before a deadline. He only had a couple of days to finish forty pages and he had hurt his finger which was wrapped up and unable to be used to write or type. (One other aside: the show is set in 1947 before word processors and computers.) With a busted finger, he hired a secretary, one Miss Margie Coopersmith with a “C,” to write down his dictation. At eleven thirty at night, Miss Coopersmith asked Ellery if he would like to continue writing at the automat. Ellery looked at her as if she were crazy. “Writing? At the automat? It’s too noisy.” He told her he wouldn’t be able to get any work done in the noisy confines of the automat, instead preferring the interior confines of his New York City apartment.
This morning I was writing at Panera Bread since my two youngest are still at home with me and my husband didn’t have to go to leave for work until noon. Being a write-at-home mom is great because I set my own hours and work as often as I can. One problem, however, is that my children think my office, which is in my bedroom, has a rotating door which can be opened whenever they want. As a result, I tend to write elsewhere if they are at home: libraries, restaurants, anywhere where I can sit and write in relative peace and quiet.
The good thing about writing at someplace other than my house is that it gives me a couple of minutes beforehand to think about my writing for the day: where I’m at in my outline, dialogue, setting, POV, and so on. The bad thing is that it eats up time as I travel to different places.
The important thing is that I’m trying to work on consistency: writing almost every day, writing deliberately and writing for the character’s story to get onto the written page.
Where do you like to write?
Some people are lucky enough to know what they want to do from the moment they can talk about it. My son MJ has wanted to be an emergency room doctor for the past six years, and I look forward to finding out whether he ever completes that goal or changes his mind.
Some of us may have an idea of what we want to do but never take the first step. All my life I’ve been writing down snippets of poems or stories, even going as far as to enter a high school writing contest a long, long time ago in a galaxy far, far away. It wasn’t until I finally admitted to myself that writing was something I needed to do that I took the first step to writing a book.
I wrote the book and then got a little sidetracked when I found out I was pregnant. When I discovered I was pregnant, I had visions of typing during naps and rocking the baby while typing on my laptop. Then I discovered that I was pregnant with twins (hello Cupcake and Chunk). It’s too hard to rock twins and type at the same time. So I gave myself a maternity leave, but something happened. I thought about characters and realized writing is a part of my nature.
So when my maternity leave ended, I started writing a non-fiction book. Then I heard about NaNoWriMo less than a week before it started last year. I geared myself up and wrote 50,000 words. I completed a book and found writer’s groups. To my surprise, I had not written The Next Big Thing in Romance, but I discovered something more: I discovered that despite my book’s flaws (and it had many), I wanted to make it better. I wanted to improve my craft. Last year’s NaNoWriMo convinced me I could do it. Since then, I’ve spent time learning how to write: learning about dialogue, POV, word repetition, pacing. I’m still learning how to write, but I’m finding people and groups who are helping me. This year I entered NaNoWriMo with the conviction I could do it, especially with the help of those around me, including my daughter Kath who also won NaNoWriMo this year.
So this is my first blog on the journey about my trying to learn how to write as I weave the road I hope will lead to becoming a published author someday. I’d write more except I left my hero in a living room with his sister when he really wants to be at the heroine’s house instead. Happy writing or happy finding what you want to do and taking that first step to doing it.