Thursday, March 26, 2015

A bit of the crazies

It has been raining here nonstop for a week or so and the kids are about to drive each other crazy. They play well for awhile, then perfect the art of the sibling tease and scream. But I am thankful for the rain.

Today I am scheming 101 ways to take a longer nap, and I plan to put into practice at least the first ten.
1) Wear out kids
2) Wear them out some more
3) Play outside
4) Play inside
5) Run as much as possible (them, not me)
6) Lots of lunch
7) A walk
8) Settle into bed with a movie for Raccoon
9) Kitty gets to watch a few animal videos on youtube
10) Lay down in bed
11) SLEEP!

Kitty was up all night with a cold, so this is the grand sum of my plans for the day. Any school we get done will be a plus.

I'm off to complete #7.

Monday, March 23, 2015

My New Writing Blog

I like to keep things separate, so I decided to add a third blog to my collection where I can post exclusively about my renewed passion for writing. Adventures and Trials will continue to be about home life and non-writing things, and The Imaginary Country of Celosia will remain focused on our homeschooling journey. I added the new link below my header.

I'm just getting things started over at R.A. Gudino - Aspiring Writer but come on over and check it out!

Saturday, March 21, 2015

I'm Back... I Think

I've changed my daily routine a bit and now I'm doing my journaling and devotions during Kitty's naptime, which has freed up my precious two hours after the kid's bedtime to blog a little before I try to spend 90 minutes writing or editing.

I felt sad this evening at the thought of someday having to leave this house. I have poured a lot of love and effort into making our little half-acre into a beautiful spot, adding trees and flowers and a little landscaping. I discovered that I do have my family's love of all things bright and green. Seeing new leaves and growth is encouraging to me, as it reminds me that God's not finished with me either.

Only God knows what the future holds, but the life of a missionary is here and there. We are coming up on the halfway point for this three year term, which is good and bad. Good because having committed a certain amount of time to one place, we work hard on achieving the goals we've set and we hold material things lightly. But also bad because it can be hard to settle in sometimes, to open up and let myself get attached. And I've fallen in love with this fenced in space. I've never worked so hard to make somewhere home. We built this house, and the second floor. The land was just a sloped grassy hill when we bought it 13 years ago, so everything here, every touch has been ours. I don't want to let that go.

But the distance from our main body of work is weighing heavily on us, as well as our longing to spend more time with family. And I'm not going to give that up no matter how much I like my trees. We don't necessarily have to sell the place when it's time to move on, but we prefer owning to renting and we would like our own place in the capital city, our likely destination next term. But whenever I think of the future, I hear my mom's voice saying, "Stop worrying, enjoy today." Or the other place I'd like to work is a large city on the coast. Church. Beach. Or maybe church on the beach. Yes.

So I know that the Lord has more good things for us in the future and I'm going to continue planting flowers for me and peas for Kitty (she loves to eat them raw out of the pod). Raccoon is checking his ducks every day for eggs, even though they are just getting their feathers in. We let them out into the yard in the mornings, but only under strict supervision since Teddy and Morita have been given an indefinite pardon for the last fowl incident. Raccoon made his two ducks a large nesting box and filled it with fresh grass, but today all 9 ducks and chickens were snuggled up in it together, so he was thrilled.

I think Storm is barking at Gerry, our cat, so I'm off to let him in.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Confrontation...

has never been my strong point. I dislike it so much that I would even call it a character flaw. I had to talk to someone last night about a project she started and assumed I'd take part in every week, no questions asked. Our friendship used to be that way, and it got me into a fair bit of trouble as a preteen, but it's 20 years later and I have a family now and I can't drop everything anymore. What I said was right, but it was still hard for me to say. I still felt like my feathers were all ruffled several hours later.

What's the big deal? Other people I know just shake these things off. They say the truth and don't equivocate. Why can't I be like that?

Another friend told me of a situation she's facing in her marriage and asked me what I would do. I couldn't answer, because she and I are very different people, married to different men. I couldn't answer. I wanted to be able to help her, but all I said is that I would pray that the Lord gives her a clear path to follow. She was looking for a clear yes or no, but I'm terrible at telling people what to do, unless they're my children. I get stuck imagining all the possibilities and how everyone feels and how hard it must be for them. My husband, on the other hand, has the gift of exhortation and he's not afraid to tell it like it is. He sees things so clearly; I envy that sometimes.

I'm currently reading Better Than Before by Gretchen Rubin and she divides people into four types: Upholder, Obliger, Questioner, and Rebel. The upholder finds it easy to keep commitments to self and others, the obliger keeps commitments to others but not to self, the questioner only keeps the commitments that make sense to him/her, and the rebel objects to all commitments. I know that I'm not an upholder or a rebel, but I vacillate between obliger and questioner. Or maybe I'm a questioner with obliger tendencies. My assertive friend is probably a rebel, because I seem to gravitate towards people like that. I admire their ability to do their own thing and not care what others think. I often care far too much.

Blogging time is up and writing time begins. So I leave this rather awkward post to be concluded another time. Or not.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Saying Things Out Loud

When I was an early teen, I began saying my fears out loud, at night in my bed, and I found that it took much of their power away. Now there is something else I want to say out loud. This time not to take anything away from it, but to commit to it and give it more life.

I am writing a book.

I was thinking the other day about what I like about Gretchen Rubin's newsletters, and it's experiencing the process of her writing. She shares about researching her book, editing, how it goes to press, what helps it sell, and so on. Most of these "how a book gets published" tidbits are included because of blatant and confessed self-promotion, but she is honest, so I don't mind. I find the whole process fascinating. One of my favorite quotes from her was something like, "I've finally chosen a title for my book (or maybe it was the jacket). If you don't like it, don't tell me."

Anyway, I wondered if perhaps anyone out there might like to follow along with me as I start out with high hopes. And if not, then I would still like to record some things for myself. I do dream of becoming a well-known writer, and wouldn't it be fun if fans of my work (wishful thinking) could look back at how I wrote their new favorite book. I write these things partly tongue in cheek, and partly serious. Please forgive my vanity and here it goes.

An interview with myself:

1) When do you write?

During my daughter's naptime and after both my kids' bedtimes.

2) Best writing advice you've heard?

Stop writing when you know exactly what you want to write next. It's easier to pick it up the next day. (My paraphrase) When I read this it surprised me because I like to write until I finish, but the more I worked on my story, I realized how true this is.

3) How is it coming?

Slow. I wrote the first 40k words pretty quickly, in maybe a month, but when I reread it, I realized that it was terrible. I tried to write other stories with the same characters, but I just couldn't make it work. So I gave up for a few months. But all along things were percolating in my brain, and I recently went back to my first draft. I sketched an outline of my new ideas, weaving two storylines together to make things more interesting, and I am now doing a combination of editing and new writing. I have to rewrite the beginning of my story to fit in the new pieces, but I'm excited about this new direction.

4) Biggest fear?

So many fears, so little time. Ha. Mostly it's a variation of two themes, I can't write or what I've written is awful. I keep thinking about something Stephen King said, "________ is all about confronting fears, finding inner strength, and doing what is right in the face of adversity. ________ is about how important it is to have a boyfriend." Although I admire certain things about both sets of work, I would like to be in the first category. I want my story to have depth and my characters to be flawed and struggling. I have this vision in my head, but I'm not sure I'll get there. I feel like my skills aren't currently up to the task. And then there's always the classic fear, "Does the world really need another book anyway?" 

5) Biggest surprise?

Just how much work editing that many pages is. I find it exhausting to edit. Once I get it to the point where I'm not longer embarrassed by it, I will be happy to hand it over to someone else to work on for awhile. I think the potential is there, but a manuscript is an unwieldy thing. I had no idea. No wonder people take years to write a book.

6) Where did you get your inspiration for this book?

I've been jotting story ideas down in a notebook since 2007 and even fragments of stories. Often what pops into my head is a few pieces of dialogue and then I imagine who would say it and what their story is. But one day, a little less than a year ago, a six word sentence popped into my head as I walked out of my bathroom into my bedroom, preoccupied with the daily life of young kids. I jotted it down, and somehow I just knew that it was the right first sentence for my novel and that I was ready to start writing it. Who knows if that sentence will end up first or not, especially if I ever get to the professional editing stage, but it gave me the struggle of my main character precisely.

7) So what's the plan?

I want to write many books, beginning with this one and then branching out to other types of writing such as essays, poetry, memoir, and so on. My role model in this is Madeleine L'Engle's body of work. I have the bulk of Book 1 written and hope to have it ready for an outside editor (family or friend) by late summer, and I have the beginning idea for Book 2. My highest hope is that Book 1 will be a success, and if so, I can't imagine trying to write Book 2 under all that pressure and expectation. My creative process is very loose and I need a lot of time to think and play around. Because of this, I want to have the first three books in my series written and decently edited before I even start to think about looking for a publisher.

8) What kind of novel is it?

Ah, that I am not telling. Not yet.

9) What if you never get published?

I've thought about this. When I realized how bad my first draft was, I almost gave up permanently. I wasn't sure I had it in me to get my story to where I imagined it being. But something my mom said encouraged me to keep trying. My grandmother wrote two books, one is a chicken novel and the other is a memoir about learning to fly, and my mother told me that they are priceless to her. My mom said that even if I'm never successful out in the wide world, what I've written will matter to my family. A book I read, Cradles of Eminence, suggested to me the idea that sometimes dreams are cumulative in families, passed from generation to generation but not fully realized until some future child. My maternal grandfather also wrote a book, but after working on it for six months he burned his manuscript and wrote only poetry after that. Both my mom and I wished he hadn't destroyed it, although I now understand better his feelings of frustration. Perhaps it is my family's time to finally get published, and if not, my stories may live on to encourage the next generation to try. I've already told pieces of my story to my five year old son, especially when I'm trying to work out the story line, and he periodically asks me to tell him more, so in a small way, I've already succeeded.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

The Teddy Saga... and more

Remember Teddy? The not-so-cute puppy Raccoon talked us into buying after the King accidentally ran over Raccoon's first puppy, Knight. Ugh. I wish we hadn't bought him back in September. Unfortunately, I think we are going to have to cut his life short.

In December, Teddy and one of our other dogs, Morita, killed nine of our chickens and four ducks. I tried to find families for them, but there were no takers. I planned to put them to sleep at the end of January, but there were no more incidents and we hoped that was the end of it.

About a month ago, one of our neighbors started to complain about Teddy chasing her goats. Then a few weeks later she said that her daughter found him eating one of her baby goats. This morning she came back and said that he killed another baby goat.

I have trouble believing that he is actually killing baby goats. Eating them, yes, I can believe that, since he dug up all the dead chickens and ducks that I buried and ate them. But killing? If he's doing it, it has to be either at night or when we're gone, and he's never come home covered in blood.

But we still have several problems:

1) He does actually chase the goats, along with the rest of our dogs, although he, Storm, and Morita are the worst with livestock and cats.

2) The neighbor is convinced he's guilty even though she's never actually seen him kill, just eating.

3) Something is killing the neighbor's baby goats. The count is five so far, which is devastating for someone like her who lives off her animals.

4) What about our Christian testimony? What course of action will show Christ's love most clearly?

They point of us living here, in a place that is far from comfortable or convenient, is to win our neighbors over to Christ. This neighborhood needs examples of grace, because there is already enough trouble between neighbors.

But there is tension too in thinking solely of our neighbors because Raccoon is devastated at the thought of me killing his dog. I would put Teddy to sleep without too much regret (he's caused us a lot of trouble), yet I worry about the effect on Raccoon. When he's 20 is he going to tell me that he remembers me killing his dog when he was five? Ugh. Parent problems.

The other two options are tying Teddy up long enough to prove to the neighbor that it's not him killing her goats (unless it is). Or spending $30 on a video that supposedly teaches a guaranteed way to break dogs of killing chickens (but will it work on goats, especially since I don't actually own any).

We have five dogs. Part of me doesn't want to invest the time in trying to break Teddy's bad habits and it is stressful to constantly have to be on alert for bad behavior. Even taking the dogs for a walk is stressful now because I'm worried about running into any sort of livestock, which is all over our neighborhood.

Adding to the problem is that if we do put Teddy to sleep, we'd probably do Morita too, and she is "Kitty's dog." Morita is so good with kids, patient and loves to be near them. She's just terrible with anything else that's alive. And she doesn't respect us as pack leaders, no matter what we try to do.

Our dogs have never known a leash and all of them except Storm practically choke themselves to death if we put a rope around their necks. I know Cesar Milan would say it's never too late, but I feel like it is for us. And Teddy.

So what now?

My dad accidentally killed my first dog, Misty, when I was twelve. She was my best friend and until Jewel, I've never really felt the same about any other dog since. Misty was special to me in an incredible way, and we had this connection. My parents put up with a lot for her too, she killed my mom's chickens and she was constantly escaping from our house to look for me when I went to school. My dad took her to the vet to get her fixed and the vet gave her too much anesthesia since she was freaking out. So she died in a cage, all alone. And that broke my twelve year old heart. I don't think I can do that to my son, because I would be killing his dog on purpose, not by accident.

On top of all this angst about Teddy and what to do, I saw one of Storm's puppies today. She is beautiful, but frantic. I gave my friend two puppies, hoping that by having each other they wouldn't be so lonely, but she gave the male to her dad and the female is all alone on the roof now. The puppy has changed so much in two weeks and is getting quite wild. I feel like I should never have let Storm nor Jewel have puppies because the fate of 12 dogs is my fault now. It's harder than I thought to be a good dog owner. Ugh again.

On top of all this, our two cats won't go out at night to do their thing because of the dogs, which is making our house a hygiene nightmare. Something has to change.

This saga is entirely too long, but I think best by writing it all out. Or talking but no one wants to hear me endlessly discuss pet problems when there are bigger and more important things in our world.

I am at a loss what to do, which for me used to be rare, but it is becoming more and more common now that I have a family to think about. And children, complicated little blessings that they are. Before it was just my heart that I had to worry about, now I am trying to protect and nurture so much more. I keep hoping Teddy will die naturally so I can console Raccoon with no guilt.

But no such luck. Part of being an adult, and a mom, is making those tough choices. Very soon, the King and I are going to have to make this one. And live with it.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Missing Family

Living in a rural area has many advantages, especially for our kids who have gotten all wild and woolly. We went trout fishing this morning, stomping around in the mud in a tropical rainforest with our rubber boots. Then we made an unexpected stop at the mall and I realized how dirty my kids were as they ran around the KFC play area. Oh well. Dirty and happy, that should be our motto for now.

But living far, far away makes it hard for us to see family and friends. Even the ones who are just an hour or so away. Coordinating schedules and kids in school complicate matters. Not to mention how much I miss my family in the US. I want to visit my parents this summer, but apparently night flights are our only option to leave the country, and after the last one we did, we swore we'd never do that again.

Money. Tickets. Ouch. Four paying fliers now. Sigh.

On a happier note, Raccoon and I have 49 days of school left until he finishes Kindergarten. I'm not sure we'll hit all our goals, but since I plan to do school year-round with just one month off in June, I'm not that worried. He'll get there.

So that's a little slice of where we're at today.