Such a Year is 2016

I’ve been in a reflective mood these past few weeks. This year has been something else and I’ve still been trying to wrap my mind around it. So, in the spirit of introspection, I’ve been trying to figure where I’ve been and where I want to go.

introspection

From a career, or day job, perspective, I worked a major project for most of the last year that went live early this year. The project was very successful and it established me as an expert in my area which, as my father rightly put it, is a double-edged sword. There are days I can hardly do my job for people wanting to tap into my expertise. Not to mention there have been headcount changes and increased responsibilities. I am finally reaching a place where I can feel like I am no longer excessively behind, but it has been stressful. My eagerness to head into work every day has dimmed to an extent.

Also new this year, all of the kids are officially in school as of this August. Which is exciting and terrifying at the same time. It means a different chapter in our lives, but it also means there is more maturity in all the children to an extent. This is my one year where everyone is in the same school before Kidlet One heads to junior high next year. But Kindergarten is a busy time so it requires more time commitment. So this often keeps me on my toes.

At some point, I can only guess it was the stress and exhaustion, I inexplicably gained 20 pounds and experienced fatigue so deep I could barely function.My creative well dried up and the thought of writing anything was just overwhelming. I was in a cesspool of unhappiness.

After a few months, I decided I could no longer live like that. I spent some time outside, taking advantage of our unseasonably warm weather. I started on the ketogenic diet, and after a few starts and stops, I can successfully say I am now losing weight and have loads more energy to get through the day.

And while my creative well is not quite flowing anew, it does contain a few droplets. I figured rambling along on some blog posts with regularity might be just what the inner creative ordered. I have a few things to go about over the next few weeks, and my goal is to get back to writing fiction again with some consistency.

Look for more in the coming days and I am excited to be back!

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Chaos Uncontrolled

Last week, I was on vacation. It was the first full week the kids have all been out of school. And it was insane. I had all these big plans for what I wanted to get done. Very little of that happened.

I am totally ready for a break from them and some peace and quiet. That never happened. I almost look forward to returning to work. This is not the kind of chaos I want for our house. It has a very negative energy and nobody is happy. I am hoping balance returns soon.

Front Yard

 

Here is a pic of our front yard. My brother was playing with the kidlets. I was standing in the driveway. Still lots of things to clean up/fix, but all that room for playing is awesome.

A shout-out to some interesting things:

My online friend AJ Clarkson was nominated for a PARSEC award for her audio drama Fortuna. She just launched her blog, ClarksonPunk.

My other friend Joshua Roots has a new book, Summoned Chaos, coming out soon. The first one, Undead Chaos, was pretty entertaining.

And to round things out, a snippet from Abigail Quinn #2:

My mother’s face filled the mirror as she waved furiously. Only my mother. When technology wouldn’t let her in, she used all sorts of magical means.

“Mom, can you turn for a minute while I get my robe, please?”

“Oh, of course.”

She promptly moved out of sight, and I grabbed my robe from the hook by the door. Sitting on the edge of the bed, I said, “Okay, Mom, I’m ready to talk now.”

A little white lie never hurt anything. I needed a pot of coffee and a hot shower to deal with her on a good day.

Ramping Up Writing

As I said in my last post about all of our changes, I’ve been working to stretch myself when it comes to writing this year. The SSSFFSS was a big deal for me. I’ve never been one to really share my work and then I opened the door by writing something to specifically give to someone else.

It was writing from a prompt, which I have found to really enjoy writing from. A little idea sparks a big idea and so on. However, this prompt was wide open, which made me nervous at first. Especially since I had to try to be humorous. But, after my initial freak out, I got that little spark and a story was born. The giftee gave good feedback and the world Abigail Quinn lives in was born.

Since then, I’ve started another story featuring Abby Quinn. I’m not sure what it’s going to be yet, but this world and this character is pretty fun, so I am enjoying it. It’s relatively lighthearted, and I intend it to be mostly funny. Perhaps it will go deeper. I’m only at the beginning, so I’m trying not to think too far ahead. I find I write better that way.

I signed up for Camp NaNoWriMo, and as is typical for every NaNo I’ve ever touched, I failed miserably after real life stomped all over my plans. We had every member of the house come down with a stomach bug one weekend and another, I had a hip flare and that left me unable to function. Luckily, my husband stepped up and was teh awesomez.

Now, I’m trying to figure out the way to get more writing time in schedule. Things have been a little hectic lately and competing priorities make things hard. Once I get a little farther into this story, I look forward to working on it more.

What have you been working on lately and what struggles have you faced?

Change is Good, Bad, and Ugly (But Mostly Good!)

2014 has been crazy so far in ways both good and bad. We moved to a new place on December 28 and rang in the new year trying to get things set up to be functional enough to survive. The move was great for us though. We now have more room and a few acres, complete with a big front yard and a small bit of woods in the back. We also have an abundance of doors and a certain youngest child who likes to escape whenever he deems the weather nice enough to ride scooters on the back patio.
New Year’s Day was a sad in that my husband’s stepfather lost his battle with cancer. And after a few weeks, another relative of his was in a serious car accident. If the other driver hadn’t been paying attention, he likely would have died.
Now we are settling into a new routine. Kidlet 1 loves to ride the bus, so thanks to a flexible work schedule, I was able to shift things around so she can ride in the mornings. I think her sister looks forward to riding with her when she starts Kindergarten next year.

Then the news came that we are losing my mother as childcare at the end of this summer. I understand the reasons, but it doesn’t make the finding of a new care provider and the associated costs easier. I do look forward to my mother being able to the “grandparent things” which means it might be possible for my kidlets to stay the night on occasion, which would let the hubs and I have some time together. So it’s not the most awesome thing, but it’s not the most terrible.

I challenged myself to do the 2013-2014 Sekrit Solstice SFF Story Swap, affectionately dubbed the SSSFFSS, over at Absolute Write. I was given a prompt to write a story of indeterminate length. Then polish and give to a fellow writer. I’ve not done something like that, and I’ve not shared anything really before, so it was a new and boundary-pushing experience for me. I enjoyed it, and my giftee seemed to enjoy the story, so I was pleased with the overall experience. I’m challenging myself to write more this year, and I’ve opened up a whole new world with my short that makes me look forward to writing.

I’m trying something new where I dedicate a section to each post of something interesting in the writing arena, especially writer folks with an upcoming book or intriguing blog post. So, look no further, writer shout outs are below.

Several of my online writerly buddies have upcoming works:

Anna Zabo has new book coming out in August. Takeover looks mighty intriguing and the cover is gorgeous. You might remember I featured Anna and hosted a book giveaway when Close Quarter came out.

Tiffany Allee just had a book come out. Don’t Blackmail the Vampire is a delicious tale you can really sink your teeth into. (Don’t mind me, I’m just a dork.)

One of my favorite author teams has a THE mega book in the series coming out later this year. Ilona Andrews has the next Kate Daniels book coming out in July. Magic Breaks is the pivotal book in the series. Can’t wait! There is also a new series coming out in October, the first book titled Burn for Me. Also, the lovely duo has picked back up with the second book in their free serial, Sweep in Peace.

What new things do you have going on?

Summer Fun, Special Projects, and Fall Sports

So our summer flew by. Busy days going places, doing things. I wanted the kids to have fun and I think we did.

School started about a month ago. Oldest Kidlet (OD) is now in second grade. Middle Kidlet (MK) is in her last year of preschool, and Littlest Kidlet (LK) has started his first year of preschool. So we are busy doing all of that.

Then I took on a two month special project that started in August for work. While a good move for my career, it’s been eating up most of my time at work and some of my personal time. Luckily, I was able to complete it successfully.

Just in the knick of time for fall sports to begin. OK is doing both soccer and cheerleading. MK is doing soccer. LK just runs around like a little demon. These are all recreational, so they are not super intense, but we are busy and this is where I am super thankful for the Cozi web calendar and app because I can see at a glance what is going on when.

However, I am writing more than I was before. NaNoWriMo is coming up and I’m trying to decide what to do for it. I have arranged for some time off during November since I can do that at New Job. Hunter Husband seems to be more understanding this year as well, so that helps too.

Over the last few months, I’ve encountered so many things where I think, “That would be good to discuss on the blog,” and then I never do, so I am going to attempt to do that a little more often.

What does everyone else have going on during this fall season?

Life in the Fast Lane

Time flies when you are busy with all kinds of crap! It’s hard to believe that it is summer already and we’re in the middle of the sixth month of the year.

There have been all sorts of things going on around here, from successes to more illness. I am hoping the warm weather and the sunshine put an end to all this nasty germs.

The oldest finished her year of first grade by winning all the awards except attendance. She won the President’s Physical Fitness award, made High Honor Roll for the entire school year, made her Marathon Reader goal, and made her AR reading goals for the entire year. I am so proud of her hard work for all her accomplishments for this year!

Middle child finished her second year of preschool. She goes back for one more year before she begins kindergarten. I sometimes worry that another year of preschool and then kindergarten will bore her to pieces because she is so smart already, but I fear her social skills need the extra time to develop before she enters elementary school. I can only hope I am making the right decision for her. One of my favorite school tales is the time I was almost sent to the principal’s office during first grade because I was so bored I was smearing Elmer’s on my hands and picking it off once it dried. I don’t want my children to suffer that same boredom.

The youngest child begins his first year of preschool in the fall. I am thinking he’ll really enjoy it. He hated having to leave every time his sister was dropped off all last year.

I’ve been battle sinus infections some more. One of those triggered a nice case of iritis. But after spending ALL THE DOLLARS taking everyone to the doctor for tonsillitis and strep, I self-treated with the medication I already had.

However, I got to meet up with my rheumatologist to go over my x-rays. It turns out there is abnormal inflammation on the iliac side of both my sacroiliac joints. So he recommended I get an MRI to determine if the cause was degenerative or inflammatory and if it was inflammatory, he thought I would need to start on a biologic. MRI results came back, but I have not met with the doctor to discuss in person. Best I can tell from my e-chart is that there is some inflammation, but it is not acute. He recommended a different drug than the biologic at this time.

But then I think I’m going to have to see an ENT about my near-constant sinus pain.

Recommendation:  Don’t let issues fester!

I think I am going to attempt Camp NaNoWriMo in July. I am getting a handle on new job and there are far less restrictions on time off than my previous full-time job. I need to get my writing back on track. This is one thing I really want for myself.

The other things I am going to focus on including developing a daily exercising routine and actually doing it, and doing more fun things with the kids. Both are in progress. I think we will like the results.

What fun things do you have planned for the summer?

House of Ick! And Gross!

2013 has proved to be an interesting year. New job. New schedule. More activities. And a buttload of illness. For a house that rarely gets sick, we’ve been rocking the Sickness Salute since Christmas. Every week seems to bring something new. Stomach bugs. Colds. What appears to have been a mild flu. Sinus infections. Either a new illness strikes or a new family member gets it. I’m exhausted. Because nothing says awesome like waking up at 2 am to clean puke off the floor.

New job is going well. I am getting home earlier, but lately I have been battling exhaustion in the evening and I’m not nearly as productive as I had hoped to be. Perhaps when spring comes with some sunshine and warmer weather, things will ease up a bit. Sunshine is always good. My days at work are busy, but I stay just this side of panic about task overload. The hours sure fly by and the people are fun to work with. I like this company. Every time I’ve worked there (intern, 2 temp gigs, & now full-time employee), I feel right at home with these people.

The kids are getting busier than ever. Soccer will start up soon. I’m kind of disappointed that Kidlet One wanted to take a break as she seems to have a bit of natural talent. However, Kidlet Two is super excited to be big enough to play this year in the preschooler group. I am also trying to round up other activities and opportunities for the kids, even if it means I’m exhausted. Kidlet One has Girl Scouts, which always seems to be busy.

On the writing front, my novels (yes, that is plural) call out to me, mocking me about my lack of attention to their causes. Every time I sit down to write, it seems something comes up with the kids demanding my attention and I end up so exhausted it is hard to think once I finally sit down again. I am hoping some of this clears up with the warmer weather. I’ve also made efforts to get to bed earlier so I can get up earlier. This morning I got up a littler earlier, but so did Kidlet Three and he woke his oldest sister in the process, so I don’t quite call it a success. More like yet another work in progress. But isn’t all of life?

In the meantime, I keep trying to make progress, including a complete declutter of the house. It’s time to purge a great many things. I’ll keep trucking after my goals and get there eventually, including blogging more. I do enjoy it.