Looking Back to Look Ahead

English: Two New Year's Resolutions postcards

English: Two New Year’s Resolutions postcards (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I don’t really believe in making New Year’s resolutions. In all my years I’ve never made it through March of the new year doing all that I resolved.

So … I’ve stopped making them. And this year is no exception. I won’t make resolutions but I will set some goals. Okay so I just use a name with less of a stigma …

But before I can look ahead I need to take a brief look back at 2012. I need to consider what I accomplished, failed at, and overlooked to determine what I should focus on in 2013.

Seem reasonable? It’s harder than I thought it would be to capture my year accurately.

2012 Year In Review

Writer Me

I decided or better yet declared:

I am Writer,
hear me roar.”
Or purr.
Or whimper.

It just depends on the day within my world.

In response to my declaration I started this blog as a way to write regularly; gain momentum; earn experience; and learn to deal with rejection.

And it’s served its purpose. I write every day even if the words don’t make it into a post or into my manuscript.

And I’ve learned a lot about writing. Sometimes it’s good and other times it’s not. I can easily psych myself out based on the latest advice I read. But still I committed to accountability with two partners and attended my first writers’ conference.

I haven’t forgotten that after the conference I committed to accountability to all of you … sharing more about my WIP. I am getting there. I am shy and anxious about it. Please be patient.

That's me ... the Middle Sister who's sweet and sassy. I wish I'd thought of naming a wine like that.

That’s me … the Middle Sister who’s sweet and sassy. I wish I’d thought of naming a wine like that.

Sister/Daughter Me

I reconnected with my family: brothers and sisters; niece and nephews.

Living at a distance has been a great excuse not to engage in what’s going on with them. I could keep it light and uninvolved.

Yet most of 2012 was spent wondering: How can I deepen relationships? Investing in others and being willing to take on their crap is part of it. That means family too. And distance isn’t an excuse in the technological world we live in.

No more excuses.

Parent/Wife Me

I watched myself grow up as a parent this year. Sounds strange I know.

My angry voice is lessening. I am slowly decoding my normal tendency to yell first and “use my words” second. It’s a wonderful thing to see how my mood influences my whole household. And, it’s important for me to show them how to manage their emotions rather than telling them.

It’s come in handy as we’ve traveled this first full year of my husband as pastor. With him working 3 nights a week, I am the constant for the dudes. Right now I hold us all together.

We added a Family Night to our schedule which doesn’t get touched by anything. We don’t accept appointments on those nights. It’s the one day each week we are intentionally together. And I wouldn’t trade it for the world.

Coming into my own.

This is the sum of my 2012. The highlights reel so to speak. My life is pretty homey really. Not a lot going on.

2013 Year in Preview

Writer Me


Reading Like a Writer

Reading Like a Writer (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I want to read two books on writing this year. I have one picked out: Reading Like a Writer. Plus, I want to read at least one book outside of my regular reading and writing genre of YA fiction. And, I will continue my weekly and monthly accountability with my partners in crime. Love ya guys.

Also, my goal is to have a first (rough-rough-rough) draft of my novel in progress. Hovering, just shy of 40,000 words. Goal = 90,000 by August. I know … it’s been slow going up till now. But my characters haven’t been speaking as much or keeping me up at night with ideas.

Blogging will be at a slower pace. Still interesting and engaging. PROMISE.

Sister/Daughter Me

I will continue to call home (weekly) and chat with my family and live life with arms linked. Hopefully, I will have one of my nephews living with me in 2013 for college. Who knows?

Parent/Wife Me

I will continue to take deep breaths before responding to a whine or foot stomp or a flippant word. Living moment by moment here.

And Family Night will involve some fun things like dessert for dinner or movie theater popcorn. Who says balanced meals are what’s important? Isn’t it more important that we are together and talking about our lives?

I also have some craft projects planned … specifically I need to scrapbook the pictures from our 2012 Summer Vacation which my youngest dude still says he’s thankful for when we pray at night.

Maybe I’ll plan a Husband and Wife B&B retreat! 😉

Nothing grand or amazing in the year ahead. Mostly maintenance for things I’ve worked on in 2012. Or maybe there are great things lurking around the corner. And there will be ALL new adventures to share.

You know the drill … what are your resolutions or goals for 2013. Or share one of your favorite moments from 2012.

Happy New Year!

Some Photos from Zemanta

Sleepwalking …


Insomnia (Photo credit: EasyPickle)

Falling into bed at 2AM and waking up at 6AM isn’t good for me; or anyone for that matter. Understatement? I know.

Why do I have insomnia?

I have too much to do and not enough hours in a day. Anyone else have that problem?

Whatever this is, it’s leaving me foggy. The only way I know how to explain the sensation of sleep deprivation is to say, “I am like the walking dead. I am in zombie mode.”

I am sleepwalking through my days and nights until nights turn back into days. Always trying to get one more thing done before turning in. It’s not working.

Between the hours of 2 and 6 in the morning, I am wakened by my six year old. He crawls into bed next to me, “I just want you mommy,” or “I had a bad dream.” Which is kind of cute but acknowledging his need rips me out of my cocoon of rest. Another 10 minutes relinquished.

Operating on 4 hours of interrupted sleep is not healthy. Again, an understatement. It’s a wonder I can function.

The sleeplessness started with back to school and has progressively worsened.

Sleeping in till noon on Saturdays and taking naps on Sunday afternoons, is no longer working to supplement my sleep life. It’s not a good long term solution to insomnia but I hadn’t considered that insomnia would be a long term problem.

Not good. NOT good. Not GOOD.

Insomnia smiley

According to my recent health assessment, just to name a few things:

  • I need more iron in my diet.
  • I need to drink more water.
  • I need to get more rest.

My energy is drained. I just want to sleep. I crave a good nights rest. Eight hours please, charge it to my account.

To make matters worse, I’ve increased my caffeine intake so I can get stuff done. Work gets done on autopilot sometimes. Home life is done with a lot of effort and mental self talk. My poor family … I am crabby and irritable which isn’t fair to them.

I find myself hitting snooze way too many times which means we have to rush every morning. My reluctant riser and the slow mover get anxious of the pace. I’m like the White Rabbit checking his watch. Screaming, “We’re late. We’re late.” Morning Madness


sleep (Photo credit: Sean MacEntee)

Thankfully, I have the days between Christmas and New Year’s off. And I started my vacation sleeping in till noon. Maybe I can catch some extra zzzz.

Something’s gotta give. Can anyone relate? How do you combat insomnia and avoid sleepwalking through life? Oh and I’d prefer to do it without adding more caffeine or worse by adding meds. Open to suggestions.

Photos from Zemanta

Happy Birthday November and December

Christmas is so commercialized. So it was a refreshing relief to read this post by Britt over at A Physical Perspective.

And, thankfully, my husband saves me from most of the headaches and pressures. Like I don’t have to traipse around town to purchase gifts. He does all of our shopping on line. Plus, he knows what little dudes ages 8 & 6 would like for presents. One more reason why I love him.

Ultimately, a time of year that is supposed to represent peace often creates undue stress and heightened emotions.

I tell you these things so I can share an added obligation which some of you may experience …

Celebrating November and December birthdays.

© 2012 the Jotter’s Joint

Photo © 2012 the Jotter’s Joint

My youngest’s birthday is after Thanksgiving. Traditionally we have a family birthday party during the holiday weekend, making one of the desserts his birthday cake (complete with character of choice). It’s been nice and easy for me. I don’t always have to make or purchase the cake as other members of the family will volunteer.

This year he asked for a birthday party with some of his school friends to come to his house. How could we deny him?

So I find myself planning a 6 year old birthday party in December. Which I have to tell you he cried about, because:  “My birthday’s in November not December. I should have a party in November.” Sigh. Have I ever mentioned parenting is a tough gig?

I am agonizing over taxing invitees financially and sending out invitations last minute; praying that some of the 6 children he invited would come. Ugh! I am trying to figure out activities that a group of 6 year olds will enjoy without causing disappointment and embarrassment. Especially, when my dude tells me:  “They’ll think I’m a baby if we do that.” All of my activities suggestions have been vetoed. Plus he nixed his big brother’s recommendation of a scavenger hunt.

If you’ve read any of my posts where I mention my dudes you’ll know that they have definitive ideas about EVERYTHING, which has it’s pros and cons.

© 2012 the Jotter’s Joint

Photo © 2012 the Jotter’s Joint

Surprisingly, the response has been wonderful and all the kids can make it, but I still feel the pressure. And it makes me a little sad for any of you whose birthdays are during this time of year, especially if said birthday is swallowed up by the season never to be heard from.

Maybe some of you are like my older sister, who figured out ways to make it work for her:  “Just put 2 presents under the tree for me.” And she would buy herself a gift, wrap it and place it under the tree. That way she got at least one item she wanted.

I was always jealous of her opportunity to double her gifts. Being a January birthday myself meant, if folks remembered my birthday, they were still recovering from their Christmas spends. But, that’s a story for another day – about the perils of being a middle child.

Anyway, in case it’s not acknowledged by anyone else, I wish you a HAPPY BIRTHDAY. Hope someone sacrifices to give you a party or places more than one gift under the tree for you.

May your birthday be remembered in the midst of it all.

Parenting a Budding Hobbyist

Paint SuppliesLast week we had Family Night on Friday instead of Wednesday due to a work requirement for me. We planned breakfast for dinner and an outing to Hobby Lobby to get paint for their latest hobby, which my oldest refers to as “Collecting and Customizing LEGOS”.

While waiting for our food we had the following conversation:

8YO – I’m going to be a doctor of science when I get done with college.

Hubby: Which science?

8YO – Something to do with technology and chemistry.

Hubby:  A Chemical Engineer. Nice. What will you make?

8YO:  A unicorn army to take over the universe. (Laughing because he recognizes that it’s far fetched. Yet one more reason I love Disney’s Phineas and Ferb. If you haven’t watched an episode of this trust me when I tell you that you’re missing out.)

Me:  If you do that I’ll pay good money for access to it.

Waiter:  I think a lot of people will pay good money for that. (As he walked away with a smile and a shake of his head.)

I need to replace my “if” statements with “when” statements in the you-can-do-anything-vocabulary. 

Paint Bottle Flower

But the real story here … is how I want my actions to match my words as I build their personal belief; water and grow their creative dreams. It’s possible to teach people tasks and functions. It’s not always possible to help them use their imagination. It’s a skill and an art that they can apply to any aspect of life.

My parents always had the words. But as I reflect, they rarely put those words into actions. Don’t get me wrong, their words took me a long way in achieving certain success. I can only imagine what I would have accomplished had they invested in other ways too.

So even though I don’t have personal experience to draw from or real life examples to reference, I want to take it to the next level of support.

As I listen to my dudes play it’s clear they are highly inventive. And now is not the time in their young lives to poke holes in their ventures. Some of their projects so intrigue me.

Red - The Beginning

The 8YO intends to create real light sabers. His business plan involves low cost initiation with the product but the profit will come from upgrades as a customer completes proficiency levels. We talk a lot about the importance of chemistry to excel in his passion. He also has plans for some stop motion LEGO videos, memorializing stories that he plays out as live action.

Lego Mario

The 6YO wants to write comics and make movies. “Some movies will be appropriate. And some will be inappropriate.” Which is his way of explaining that some won’t be kid-friendly. Chapter 3 of his current comic is titled:  The Parents Made The Kid Bad. Not sure if he’s trying to tell me something. Anyway, his artistic representations go well with his dialogue.

Together they are role playing scenes for their upcoming talk show. NOTE:  I’m not allowed to sing the theme song because apparently they “created it” and so they “own it”. Who taught them copyright disclosures so young? It wasn’t me. And I won’t name the show or tell you more … you’ll have to wait for the pilot release on YouTube in the near future. (I’ll  post a link when it’s out.)

Work In ProgressWe are in the process of getting them the tools to do all they wish. It’s easy to keep notebooks, markers, crayons, paints, and other craft tools on hand. However, part of this process of fostering their hobbies and interests is to teach them patience. My oldest seems to think starting today means finishing today. So managing expectations e.g. Painting LEGOS has to happen in layers so that the colors don’t bleed together.

Once he can appreciate this lesson we’ll take steps to get a tripod and help him experiment with a camera.

I feel like I’ve taken the long way around to say it’s important to me that my boys know that I care about what’s important to them in meaningful ways.

What are some ways that you invest in others’ dreams without squelching them? Or maybe you had a dream that you put on the shelf because you needed someone to encourage you? I’d love to hear about it.

Wine and Cheese Party: A Non-Wine Drinker’s Perspective

Witches Brew Spiced Red - December 2012

Witches Brew Spiced Red – December 2012

My approach to wine has traditionally been one of avoidance. But it’s an interest others have that fascinates me … Wine is serious business or hobby. Make no mistake about it.

My introduction to wine in my early 20s was:  Boone’s Farm Strawberry Hill followed by White Zinfandel in my late 20s. I don’t have any recollection of wine moments in my 30s, maybe the discovery of Riesling. And in my early 40s I’ve discovered Moscato, which is sweet and doesn’t have that sharp taste that makes me chose other libations.

Every year my girlfriend hosts a wine party. She spends a couple of days preparing savory dishes, selecting the right cheese, fruit, nuts and snacks, and stocking up on a variety of wines and beers. She has something for everyone even someone like me who isn’t a wine lover. It’s not meant to be pretentious, but it definitely can be involved and intense.

The invite encourages guests to bring their favorite bottle to drink and share, “Whether it’s an old favorite or a new discovery … We would love sip a glass with you.”

I picked 3 bottles of Moscato to contribute … Oh and I should mention that I couldn’t tell a good wine from a bad one, meaning whatever has a sale sign on it at the grocery store would work for me. Recommendation:  Don’t leave selection to me because I’ll probably choose a dessert wine to go with dinner.

The fun of attending such a party, for me, is in watching the evening progress. At the beginning of the night there is a lot of talk about wine:  making, tasting, selecting and favorites. Talk about vineyards and wine tours. It’s incredible how much I don’t know. Then it moves into general topics:  family, community, work, and world. By the end of the night it’s laughter about anything and everything.

Now back to the wine lessons I learned.

Put a Cork In It

Put a Cork In It

Screw Tops vs. Corked

I agonized over what wine to pick. Worried that buying a wine with a screw cap would immediately single me out as wine challenged. But one of my first conversations of the night alleviated my fears. Apparently screw caps are no longer the signifier of poor quality. I’m told by one winey that it’s actually the opposite. As cork becomes increasingly difficult to come by and manufacturers want to be environmentally conscience, we see a shift in quality wines turning to this practice of bottling. Who knew?

Put a Cork in It

And speaking of corks … there’s a reason people sniff the cork. I learned this over dinner in the days leading up to the event. A coworker used to be a wine buyer so while we were entertaining clients he displayed his wine skills for us. And the fun fact of the evening was:  if the corks smells of mold it means moisture got into the bottle which could compromise the wine. Good to know that fermented grapes can be moldy …

A Breath of Fresh Air

The other thing I heard as the night progressed … some wines need to breathe. So they get poured in decanters in order to “open up”. My palate wouldn’t know the difference as it’s not discriminating or discerning. But I watched as friends poured glasses and sipped only to say, “This one needs to breathe.” I was impressed that one drop touching the tongue could give so much information.

I sampled a few things … I didn’t drink enough to ever have two full glasses. But I found a red wine that I would drink again:  Witches Brew Spiced Red. Needless to say I had a good time.

And, now that I have exposed my wine ignorance … my lessons don’t have to end. If you have a favorite that you’d like to recommend please leave it in the comments. Or if you have a fun fact about wine I would love to hear it. Gearing up for next year’s party … I could be a connoisseur yet.