Thursday, July 31, 2008

Because I'm Not Here...

To correct your grammar, go here to play a game based on Eats Shoots and Leaves. It's fun. Really.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Happy Birthday!

OK, I'm not really "here", remember?, but I want to be sure and wish my dear friend R. a very, very happy birthday.

She's already gotten a pretty good present. ("Baby V" is hers!) He almost came on the day but he heard the doctors say he might be due on the 26th and that little guy is punctual.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

A Mini-Rant

Prince Charming and I have been working on our homeschool notification for the up-coming school year. This is the first year we have to go hat in hand to the ego-maniacal local bureaucracy and beg inform them, "Our child will not be availing themselves of your institutionalized child neglect. Instead we will be actually educating and enjoying time with aforesaid child. Thank you, very much."

As you can see I'm just a little bitter about the whole thing. Everyone should go read Spunky's brilliant post about Truancy and Parental Rights to see why. She explains things much more clearly than I could. And she's just a bit less snarky about it, too.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Ballgame Girls

What is it about snow cones that makes you
want to
stick out your tongue?

Thursday, July 24, 2008

More Camp Documentation

One of the classes (this view is only one side of the room): The Slip 'N Slide (I've clumsily edited out a few of our girls who weren't quite blog ready):
The fabulous pool (I swam twice, Prince Charming not even once):
One of the games, played by the leaders of tomorrow (crazy thought!):
Rumor has it that this boy smells really good:

And no, I am not the one who started the rumor. It's finally happened: the teen girls at our camp have realized that The Bear is funny, gentle (usually), athletic, handsome and he smells good. What can I say? We plan to lock him in his house for the next ten or so years. It's that or continue to make him wear these blackout goggles while forbidding him to shower. And no one really wants that.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Where I Spent Last Week

The building where most stuff happened: The barn where Dodgeball games to the death and repeated variations of cries along the lines of "Cheater! You cheated!" happened (That's the snack bar on the side):
The beautiful dining hall. Where sat on the porch and rocked in rocking chairs as if this were the world's largest Cracker Barrel:
The inside of the beautiful dining hall:
Our teen camp has used this camp facility for the last 3 years. (Our junior camp has used it for 6). It's practically home away from home...or not.

Why haven't I shared pictures of the girls' cabin or "bathhouse"? (Neither a house nor a place of bathing...discuss.) Because the horrors are still etched in my mind and I didn't want to waste precious digital space on those places. Later I'll share pictures of What We Did at camp. (Hint: camp stuff when we weren't being attacked my Shelob.)

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Happy Anniversary!

OK, I didn't have most of your actual wedding pictures scanned in. So I cropped out some other people to use this one. And the margins are all off. Sorry about that.

But still, without you: no Me.
Without you: no LuLu or Princess or The Bear.
Without you: no Polly or Tigger or Sweet Pea.

So thanks, Mom & Dad. Thanks for being married 30 years. And for having 4 children. And for encouraging us as we pursue our dreams. I hope the next 30 years are even better for you both.

Monday, July 21, 2008

I've Been Tagged - Music Edition

Amy over at Buffaloes and Butterfly Wings has tagged me with this meme:

Here are the rules:

List seven songs that you are into right now. No matter what the genre, whether they have words, or even if they’re not any good, but they must be songs you’re really enjoying now, shaping your Summer of 2008. Post these instructions in your blog, along with your 7 songs. Then tag 7 other people to see what their favorites are this year!

So, here are my 7 songs:

1. New Soul by Yael Naim. I got this c.d. for my birthday, remember?

2. That's Life by Frank Sinatra and actually most of the songs on this c.d.

3. Jesus, Draw Me Ever Nearer by Keith & Kristyn Getty

4. Violet Hill by Coldplay (from the Viva La Vida cd)

5. Elegy for Dunkirk from the Atonement soundtrack, composed by Dario Marianelli

6. Crawdad by Elizabeth Mitchell

7. Daughter by Loudon Wainwright

Three of these songs are going on a movie Prince Charming is making about Sweet Pea, so we've been listening to them a lot. One of these songs I listen to when I'm writing my story. One of these songs I listen to when we're working around the house. One song Prince Charming and I sang as a duet at our church 2 weeks ago.
Any guesses which are which?

And, before I forget, I tag:








Saturday, July 19, 2008

Clean Again: Lessons Learned at Church Camp

Well, I'm home! I've just spent five nights away from my comfortable bed, air-conditioning, and most of my stuff. I slept on a bed that can only be described as achingly uncomfortable, in a cabin best described as "rustic" and with a bathhouse that went almost completely on strike by Wednesday, never to return to its reasonable service.

Did I mention that this was church youth camp? So you can add 20+ teenage girls to that list. Most of whom I love, some of whom I barely tolerate. And you can imagine the squabbles, hurt feelings, difficulties, crabbiness, and vulnerability that come with the territory.

But that's not the point. The point is that around 40 teenagers have now been exposed to the Gospel, basics of living like Christ, and concepts for making right choices in their lives. Incidentally, I've been learning the same things. And it got me thinking.

When Prince Charming and I got home today the first thing on our to-do list was: take as long a nap as Sweet Pea will allow. Fortunately for us, Sweet Pea was also completely worn out from taking care of her Gram and Grandad this week. (Well, it was something like that...) So we all slept for about 2 hours. (Incidentally, while I write this, my husband and daughter are both asleep again. Obviously, I am not.)

Next on our agenda? Take real showers in a semi-clean environment with water wherein the temperature can be regulated and the shower head is actually taller than I am.

Because I am of a philosophical bent, this greatly desired shower started me thinking. Among all the shampoo, scented shower gel and the lotions and potions that make up my cleansing ritual, I started wondering about how clean I am on the inside.

Don't get me wrong, I'm saved and have been for a long time now. That's the ultimate cleansing. But still, there can be build up and gunk in my soul that has to be cleaned out.

This week I heard the Word of God preached and taught. I had opportunity to share the gospel with several girls. I had opportunity to open my Bible and explain passages of scripture that I treasure. I prayed with girls who asked me for answers to situations I can't make better and for problems I don't have answers to. I tried to offer common sense (along with Biblical sense) for issues that came up.

Sometimes when church functions are over we like to distill them down into numbers: this many attended, this many verses were memorized, this many classes were taught, this many meals were shared together, this many decisions were made.

I suppose that's just what humans do: quantify things. The last item on that list is not quite the same, though. Because, whether we realize it or not, each and everyone one of us, councilor or camper or visitor, made a decision this week. We either decided to take what we've heard and pursue it, or forget what was presented and simply walk away unchanged. So you could say that around 50 decisions were made this week. Time will tell what those decisions were.

As I stood, feeling shiny and clean and good smelling for the first time in days, I determined that I want to be in that first group: take what I've learned and pursue it.

Later on I'll tell you about funny stuff that happened and irritating things that happened (Like the fact that I have 6 more spider bites than I wanted. Hint: I didn't want any.) And, after a few days here at home, we'll be back at it for our camp for juniors. That camp is more work for Prince Charming and me (although the facilities are nicer) and I know I'll be feeling both elated and exhausted by the beginning of August.

But, just for now, this is the longing I don't want to ignore:

Create in me a clean heart, O God: and renew a right spirit within me. Psalm 51:10

Friday, July 18, 2008

Right About Now

I suspect, by this point, I've had waaaay too much of this: And not nearly enough of this (for me, of course, not Polly):

But that's how it goes at church camp.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Joining the 21st Century

I had this conversation with Someone I Dearly Love Sunday night:

Me: "How did you sell [that thing] you wanted to sell?"

Person I love: "Well, we listed it on that - now what was it? - not the Internet..."

Me (pretty sure I understood the confusion): "Do you mean Craigslist?"

Person I love: "Yeah, that's it. Sold right away."

Don't laugh.

OK, laugh a little bit. I did, later.

At least I don't have to worry about this Person I Dearly Love reading this on my blog. Clearly.

Monday, July 14, 2008

What We're Doing

Well, the young'uns (that's Southern Speak for "my children") are off for a visit with the Southern part of their family. The oldest two have been looking forward to this for literally weeks, maybe even months. Or so Polly told me before she left. I'm thinking they're not going to waste a lot of time pining for their Mama, if any.

Sweet Pea (not actually considered a "young'un" yet, more like a "little 'un") is, fortunately for me, not two states away. She is a mere 45 minutes away and will most likely be around to see me at several points in the week.

And why are my children scattered around the U.S.? Prince Charming and I are loafing around suffering for the Lord at our church's camp for teenagers. 'Cause, you know, nothing says fun like sharing a cramped cabin with around 20 hormonal under 18-year-old females. Not to mention the 20 or so hormonal, stinky, ego-maniacal, bundles of immaturity known as the teenage boy that will also be around.

But plans for this have been in the works for ages. And it's as unto the Lord because, all joking aside, camp is a wonderful ministry and is known to change lives (including mine).

And in another week we get to do it all again. Except this time with the under 12 set. And my children will be close by to partake of the fun. And the "cabins" for the Junior crowd are actually air-conditioned.

I know, I know. But someone has to do it.

Anyhow, back to all the planning. I made lists. Lots of lists. Top on my planning list? Sunscreen. Because after two weeks without it I would look like this:

Only less cute. And a little madder.

Catch you folks on the flip side!

Friday, July 11, 2008

What Does Your Name Mean?

What Karen Means

You are a seeker of knowledge, and you have learned many things in your life.

You are also a keeper of knowledge - meaning you don't spill secrets or spread gossip.

People sometimes think you're snobby or aloof, but you're just too deep in thought to pay attention to them.

You are usually the best at everything ... you strive for perfection.

You are confident, authoritative, and aggressive.

You have the classic "Type A" personality.

You are wild, crazy, and a huge rebel. You're always up to something.

You have a ton of energy, and most people can't handle you. You're very intense.

You definitely are a handful, and you're likely to get in trouble. But your kind of trouble is a lot of fun.

You are friendly, charming, and warm. You get along with almost everyone.

You work hard not to rock the boat. Your easy going attitude brings people together.

At times, you can be a little flaky and irresponsible. But for the important things, you pull it together.

You are very intuitive and wise. You understand the world better than most people.

You also have a very active imagination. You often get carried away with your thoughts.

You are prone to a little paranoia and jealousy. You sometimes go overboard in interpreting signals.

OK, so this is about 50% - 75% right. I am not a bundle of energy and I am decidedly unlikely to get in trouble. My name is actually a form of Katherine and it means "pure".

So, what's your name and what does it mean?

H/T: MacKenzie

Thursday, July 10, 2008

A Few Rhetorical Questions

Why is it inherently more fun to run around the house in your t-shirt and under-roos? I don't know, ask Tigger. (Side note: at least she's actually wearing big girl underthings. That was a hard fought battle!)

Why is it more exciting to help Mom with the laundry but easier chores like putting silverware away is simply Cinderella level drudgery? I don't know, ask Polly. (Side note: at least she loves helping!)

Why is it better, in order to have the full sensory experience, to eat ice cream with your hands? I don't know, ask Sweet Pea. (Side note: at least she's allowed to eat dairy. And, furthermore, she's so stinkin' cute no matter how messy she is!)

Ah, the imponderables of parenting life.

Monday, July 7, 2008

On Writing

Amy of Untangling Tales has been gracious enough to answer some of my questions. Some of our "conversation" you can read here.

I'm not sure all my questions came out the way I intended, but that's what happens when you are operating with 30% of your brain cells. (That may be generous for how I'm feeling these days.)

Question #3 (What do you consider a short or long novel) I had actually intended to be more about what we read than what we write. I am a prolific reader. I'll read anything. Moreover, I read everything: road signs, cereal boxes, junk mail, catalogs, magazines of all types, movie cases, dictionaries, juvenile fiction or non-fiction, young adult fiction or non-fiction, adult fiction and non-fiction of all types. I go through stages when I'll read everything of a certain genre I can get my hands on. I have decided opinions about what makes a "good" book or a "good" read (and they are not necessarily the same thing!) but I'll give almost anything a shot.

Where this complicates writing is trying to decide where my book fits in all this. I consider a 300-400 page novel fairly easy reading. I just finished a 1,000 page non-fiction book which I thoroughly enjoyed. As a kid I read through complete volumes of the encyclopedia (I've heard that my dad did this too, so maybe it's hereditary). As I've gotten older I've tried to limit my fiction, even though I can read most things quite quickly, because I want to be educating and edifying myself instead of simply entertaining or evading responsibility. (How's that for alliteration!) And no, I haven't cut out all "fun stuff". Just read my book lists and you'll see.

All that to say, I'm not sure what other readers consider long or short. I'm not really interested in hearing "industry standards". I want to know what you like to read or what you consider a hardship. I'm starting to realize that not everybody reads like I do. I've always known that, I guess, but the implications have been lost on me before now, when I'm trying to pour out this story that has lived in my head for over a decade.

So, what do you read?

Saturday, July 5, 2008

What's Up

On my bedside table: Five books - 3 nonfiction, 2 poetry. Each partially but not completely read. And one more on the floor beside my bed. (It's too big for the table!)

On my c.d. player: This Frank Sinatra c.d. loaned to me by my dad. The girls and I are really enjoying it (sometimes playing it twice through) but I'm not sure Prince Charming is as into it as we are. Bit of trivia: Frank & Nancy Sinatra had the first and only father-daughter #1 song. And it's on this c.d. ("Something Stupid" which is actually very pretty and not stupid at all)

On my computer: 39, 444 words of my novel. About 5,000 of which were written this week. And most of those are probably the wrong words or in the wrong place or both. Meanwhile these people are living in my brain 24/7 rent free. I hope none of you has the idea that writing a novel is romantic. Come over to my house and I'll show just how un-romantic it is and yet...

On the menu: homemade bean burritos. Quick and easy is the name of the game here. And yes, we are still living without a microwave. We did actually buy a new microwave but we returned it the next day because we realized we didn't need it.

On my piano: This music I bought with some of my birthday money. I love everything in it but I notice I'm playing one song from S&S more than the others.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Old Glory

The Name of Old Glory
by James Whitcomb Riley


Old Glory! say, who,
By the ships and the crew,
And the long, blended ranks of the gray and the blue,
Who gave you, Old Glory, the name that you bear
With such pride everywhere
As you cast yourself free to the rapturous air
And leap out full-length, as we're wanting you to?
Who gave you that name, with the ring of the same,
And the honor and fame so becoming to you?
Your stripes stroked in ripples of white and of red,
With your stars at their glittering best overhead
By day or by night
Their delightfulest light
Laughing down from their little square heaven of blue!
Who gave you the name of Old Glory? - say, who
Who gave you the name of Old Glory?
The old banner lifted, and altering then
In vague lisps and whispers fell silent again.


Old Glory,--speak out!--we are asking about
How you happened to "favor" a name, so to say,
That sounds so familiar and careless and gay
As we cheer it and shout in our wild breezy way
We-the crowd, every man of us, calling you that
We-Tom, Dick, and Harry-each swinging his hat
And hurrahing "Old Glory!" like you were our kin,
When-Lord!-we all know we're as common as sin!
And yet it just seems like you humor us all
And waft us your thanks, as we hail you and fall
Into line, with you over us, waving us on
Where our glorified, sanctified betters have gone,
And this is the reason we're wanting to know
(And we're wanting it so!
Where our own fathers went we are willing to go.)
Who gave you the name of Old Glory O-ho!
Who gave you the name of Old Glory?
The old flag unfurled with a billowy thrill
For an instant, then wistfully sighed and was still.


Old Glory: the story we're wanting to hear
Is what the plain facts of your christening were,
For your name--just to hear it.
Repeat it, and cheer it, 's a tang to the spirit
As salty as a tear;
And seeing you fly, and the boys marching by,
There's a shout in the throat and a blur in the eye
And an aching to live for you always-or die,
If, dying, we still keep you waving on high.
And so, by our love
For you, floating above,
And the sears of all wars and the sorrows thereof,
Who gave you the name of Old Glory, and why
Are we thrilled at the name of Old Glory?
Then the old banner leaped, like a sail in the blast,
And fluttered an audible answer at last.


And it spake, with a shake of the voice, and it said:
By the driven snow-white and the living blood-red
Of my bars, and their heaven of stars overhead
By the symbol conjoined of them all, skyward cast,
As I float from the steeple, or flap at the mast,
Or droop o'er the sod where the long grasses nod,
My name is as old as the glory of God.
...So I came by the name of Old Glory.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Picture Saboteurs

Hey, girls, let's show everyone your new bee-you-ti-ful dresses! Um, Polly, this is isn't a prison photo. Look happy!
Oh, Tigger, you closed your eyes...
Sweet Pea, honey, there isn't even any spraying water. Why are you pitching a fit now?
Um, no. This is possibly the worst family picture, ever.
No, this isn't better. I quit.

Why do I have the feeling that, had they been wearing absolutely ragged and filthy old outfits, they all would have smiled and cooperated?!

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Books of 2008 - June

This was an intensive reading month. My head may explode from all I've crammed into it. Then again, that's never happened before so it'll most likely be okay.

1. Pearls Before Swine: BLT's Taste So Good. This is comic strip written by Stephen Pastis. It's snarky, irreverent, and just a little "off". And that's why I like it.

2. Characters, Emotion, and Viewpoint. Non-fiction by Nancy Kress. This is one book from the Write Great Fiction series. This book was really helpful for me in clarifying my novel and making it sharper / better. I would recommend you read this if you have a desire to write novels, short stories, or just better-than-average fan fiction.

3. Captain Wentworth's Diary. Fiction by Amanda Grange. An Austen parallel book. It was o.k but not great. Persuasion may be my all time favorite Austen and this book did not capture even a small percentage of the magic.

4. Anytime Playdate. Non-fiction by Dade Hayes. A book about the effects of TV on children and how shows are developed for the preschool crowd. Unfortunately this author seems to believe, "yeah, it's bad, but they're going to watch anyway so..." Somewhat disappointing.

5. Pygmalion. A play by George Bernard Shaw. This play inspired the musical My Fair Lady. The play is sharper and more political than the musical. By the way, when it comes to the musical, I prefer my Original London cast recording and Original Broadway cast recording to the movie. I love Audrey Hepburn but what in the world was Jack Warner thinking? Julie Andrews is Eliza Doolittle.

6. The Blind Assassin. Fiction by Margaret Atwood. I liked the cover of this book. I liked parts of this book. I would have enjoyed it more if it hadn't seemed to scream at me, "I am An IMPORTANT Book written by an IMPORTANT Author. Read this and weep at my genius." No, thanks. Besides, I figured out the twist before the end. And, just in case you like the cover too, the cover has nothing to do with the story. Also, this book is as liberal as they come. (I almost made a Nancy Pelosi joke there, but I resisted.)

7. Goodbye, Mr. Chips. Fiction by James Hilton. So sweet. A very quick read but well worth the afternoon. Now I need to track down the Robert Donat movie.

8. The Gathering Storm. Non-fiction by Winston Churchill. Incomparable. Maybe I just have a good imagination but I could practically hear Mr. Churchill "reading" this to me. Also counts as research for my novel.

9. Revision and Self-Editing. Non-fiction by James Scott Bell. Another helpful book in the Write Great Fiction series. I preferred #2 above but this book was also helpful.

10. The Diplomat's Wife. Fiction by Pam Jenoff. Will I never learn? This is another book I picked up because of the cover. Also it's set in post-WW2 Europe, a subject I'm immersing myself in. This plot has more holes, completely implausible twists, and bad comic book-esque dialogue than some fan fiction I've read. (Sample of actual dialogue: "Thank you, she said." "No, thank you.") Another nitpick: despite the characters coming from different parts of the globe (Poland, England, US, etc.) they all "talk" the same. Characters are supposed to have different voices. A refugee from Poland should not use the same language and syntax as a well-educated Briton. Gah!

11. Never Will We Forget. Non-fiction by Marilyn Mayer Culpepper. Personal WW2 stories. Could have used a bit more editing (typos, bad grammar and such) but was interesting and helpful. Read (obviously) as research for the aforementioned novel I'm writing.all.the.time.

12. Love Comes Softly. Fiction by Janette Oke. I read this one night (in about an hour, actually) while waiting for my Prince Charming to turn off the computer and go to bed. Also because I borrowed the Hallmark movie and after watching it I wanted to remember the charm of the original story. Sure, Oke's laborious phonetic writing is well, contrived and a bit obnoxious, but the actual story is sweet. Definitely better than the Hallmark movie to which I also have a few words: So Missie is a pre-adolescent brat now? Marty is a city-fied book worm? And last, but not least, Her hair, Louisa!

13. The Library of Congress WW2 Companion. Non-fiction edited by David Kennedy. The word that comes to mind is "comprehensive". This is an amazingly helpful book. Nearly 1,000 pages of pertinent information. Lots of helpful charts (especially the ones showing what exactly was going on in each theatre of war - African, European, Atlantic, Pacific, China-Burma, and so on). I'd love to buy a copy of this for our home library.

14. Churchill at War: His Finest Hour in Photographs. Non-fiction by Martin Gilbert. Mr. Gilbert is author of an extensive multi-volume Churchill biography. This book is a companion to that.

Read most of but did not finish before the library cruelly snatched it away: The Closing of the American Mind by Allan Bloom. This is a brilliant book. I probably only understood 30% of it, but even that was challenging and helpful.