Thursday, October 29, 2015

Happy Halloween

Wow, it's Halloween already?!  Seriously, where has the time gone?

I got a writing prompt in my email regarding a "memorable Halloween costume" and I thought it would be fun to share one of my favorites!

My husband dressed as the Wolverine and I was a (chunky) Phoenix... Well, my husband really looked the part, but I was just... well, I had fun anyway!  (please excuse the messy kitchen!)

As you can see, my hubby nailed it with his hair and the way he shaved his face!  The "Claws" are just toys, but they actually make metallic clanging sounds when you swing your hands to make the claws come out.  It was lots of fun.  Especially since this was before we were married, pregnant, etc... just the two of us and his teenage son (who's now a 21 year old young man!)

We both love Halloween and enjoy taking our two youngest trick or treating.

It was a very memorable Halloween for us.  Lots of fun!

Do you have any memorable Halloweens that really stand out?  Feel free to share!  I'd love to hear about them!

Thursday, February 5, 2015

The Pursuit of Positive Posts

Well, I finally did it.  I finally lost a (Facebook and real life) friend due to posting an "offensive" meme.  It was bound to happen.  Honestly, I'm surprised it didn't happen sooner.

I posted a meme comparing a quote from Hitler to a quote from Hilary Clinton.  I'm sure most of you have seen it, but if you haven't, I apologize, but I'm not going to repost it again.  It's very negative and apparently very offensive to at least one person that I know.

I think the saddest part is the fact that he thinks his friendship didn't mean much to me just because we haven't seen each other in about 20 years.  What he fails to realize is that it did mean a lot.  He was one of the first people I met at college and I always admired him for many different reasons.

While I didn't realize that the meme that I shared would be that disastrous to any friendships that I have, it was a very negative post and that leads me to today's blog post.

While I think the whole thing got totally blown out of proportion and I think he took extremely drastic measures to not only unfriend me, but he also blocked me completely.  On top of that, he also made a post on his Facebook page specifically naming me (which most people have the courtesy to only give first names or no names at all, such as I'm doing, but I suppose he feels the need to do so) and showing a screenprint of part of the conversation.  Although at first, it upset me, upon further reflection, I realized that the whole event has made me think a lot about myself and my actions.  I would like to publicly apologize for any offense that I may have made against him, I certainly didn't share the meme with that goal in mind.  And I would like to thank him.  Without his drastic measures, I would not have taken stock in myself.

As I said, this was bound to happen... losing a friend, that is... considering that I'm a Christian, that, in and of itself is offensive to many people.  And I'm a Mormon (a member of The church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints... no, not the people on tv with the multiple wives.  Those people are not members of our church.) and being Mormon offends a whole bunch of other people.  I lost a lot of friends when I joined the church, but that's a whole other story.

But, as I said, this whole issue has made me really look at myself and the kind of person I want to be.  At first, I was upset that he posted (after blocking me and thinking that I wouldn't find out) his disgruntled response and posting my full name.  But then, I realized that I'd done the same thing to Hilary.  While she's a politician and is probably used to such demeaning memes and comments, that doesn't mean it was right for me to do.

I'm no politician, but I'm also used to derogatory and nasty statements, having received more than my fair share as a kid, but they hurt just as much now as they did when I was younger.  So, I also would like to apologize to Hilary.  No, I don't think she should be president and no I don't particularly like her nor her politics, but I certainly don't want to hurt her or anyone else for that matter.  Do I think she actually saw my post?  Ppffftthhh, no, of course not, but I don't need to keep the negativity going.  And if I'm a Christian, then why would it be ok for me to post such a nasty meme?  It's not.

Does that mean that I won't hurt anyone again?  No, I'm sure I'll do something at some point to offend someone again.  Like I said, I'm a Christian and a Mormon, so right off the bat, I'm offensive to thousands and thousands of people just for breathing.

But I have come to realize that I need to be more positive and stay away from as much negativity as I can. So I have decided to make a #PursuitOfPositivePosts Challenge.  For the next 30 days, I'm going to try to post, share, and make only positive posts on any and all social media that I get on.

So, it begins.... Positive Posts!  Who's with me?  Post a comment below and let me know if you're up for the challenge to bring positive posts to the world and have a better outlook on life.

Remember the hashtag!


Sunday, January 4, 2015

The Alternative 52 Week Money Saving Challenge for 2015

So, I'm sure that most of you have seen the 52 Week Money Saving Challenges out there on the internet.  I've decided to use an alternative style.  I had come across this idea a few years ago, but for the life of me, I can't find it again, so I drew it up myself for this post.  It basically alternates from the low end of the savings to the high end and back again.  So on the first week (I'm starting on Jan 3rd) you put aside $1, then on the second week you put aside $52, on the third week, $2, on the fourth week, $51 and so on.  You get the idea.  Here's a visual for you.

(This is my first time making a downloadable link, so please let me know if you're unable to download.  Thanks!)

I like having the amounts staggered rather than having all the large amounts together.  If we have an unexpected bill or something comes up, then it won't be so hard to save $52 one week and $2 the next, but saving $52 then $51 the next week is a little harder to do.  This alternating between the larger and smaller amounts just makes things a little easier.  Saving the larger amounts all at one time (either at the beginning or the end of the year) is tough when you're living paycheck to paycheck.  Doing it that way would be $202 in one month.  I don't know about you, but that's a little bit much when I have to buy groceries!

Also, having the bigger amounts toward the beginning of the year is easier (in my opinion) than having them at the end when Christmas is coming.  To me, it's harder to save around the holidays.  By then, I'm wishing I'd have been saving all year and with the holidays, my hubby gets time off, so the pay's not as big (not getting overtime makes a big difference) so it's a little harder on the wallet.

I think I'm going to start something with my 4 year old as well.  We're just starting to learn about money, so this might help him.

Of course he doesn't have a "job" but he's going to start "earning" this money by doing his chores.  We've been a little slack in the chore department.  He has them and does them, but we haven't been as consistent as we had planned to be.  Don't judge.  It's the least of my worries right now.  But hey, New Year, New Plans! Part of the New Year's Resolutions list.  (We might get the 2 year old in on it too, but that would be more for fun than teaching at this point.  He is so cute when he giggles and claps his hands at the "plunking" the money makes in his see-through bank that he got for Christmas!)

I suppose one of the biggest thing on my list (every year) is to be more organized and this money saving plan falls right into place with that particular resolution.  There are many subcategories to that resolution, but that's a whole other post!

So, who's with me on the challenge?  If you don't like my take on it, you don't have to use my particular schedule... or you can make your own.  Just Google "52 Week Money Saving Challenge" and you'll instantly become overwhelmed with spreadsheets of all kinds, shapes, colors, etc.

I'd love to know what you think of my plan(s) above.  Do you like it?  Hate it?  Want to give it a try?  What do you think of the children's version?  Let me know in the comments below.  Thanks and Happy New Year!

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Homeschool Ramblings and FREEBIES for you!

I've been busy lately at homeschooling my Little Ones... Well, really just the 4 year old, but the 2 year old likes to participate also... especially coloring.  For a little while, anyway, until he's bored and then he's gone. But with the 4 year old, I've started unofficial PreK, meaning that I'm getting my feet wet, hoping to get a feel for it and make sure I can do this before it actually needs to become official.  So far, things are going quite chaotic well. We have our good days and our bad days.  Sometimes lessons show up on their own from the back yard. (I'm talking about bugs and other icky creatures, but hey, I've got boys... good thing I was a tom-boy growing up, or this stuff would really freak me out. LOL)

We've come across quite a few interesting things, such as a giant caterpillar (I really need to keep my camera handy) that I looked up and saw that it will turn into a gigantic moth, (we're talking a half of a foot across... yes, that's right, I said a half foot, 6 inches!  That's just an insane size for a bug!) the likes of which I've never seen around here, so I'm not sure where the creature came from... and I'm not sure I want to!

All in all, it's been quite an adventure, but to see the light bulb come on and see the wonder in my son's eyes as he "gets it" during a lesson, is one of the most amazing things I've ever experienced!  Those are the moments where I realize that it's all worth it, that I made the right decision, and that I'm going to be able to really do this thing!  

Buggaboo loves his cut and paste lessons!

One thing that we don't have quite set up yet, is a designated area.  I want to get the spare room set up as a play room / homeschool area.  That way I can keep everything centrally located and not have to keep using the kitchen table.  But, you use what you have at your disposal. 


Anyway, while I was looking for homeschooling ideas and getting distracted going through a bunch of stuff online, I came across some free kindle downloads.  I'm not sure how long they'll be free, nor have I read any of them.  I thought they looked interesting and figured I'd pass along the good tidings of "free".  As of this posting, they are currently free for Kindle download, but please be sure to check the price before downloading to make sure they're still free for you when you actually click on them.  I take no responsibility for changes in price or status.  If you do decide to download and read them, let me know what you think about them.  I'd love to hear from my readers if you enjoyed getting this little tip.  All that said, here are the freebies I found:
(By the way, I get nothing from you clicking on any of these, I just felt like sharing some free books I came across.)

(I'm really wanting to grow my own garden, so I'm looking forward to reading this one!)

Friday, February 14, 2014

Quick Tricks to Help You Tighten Up Your Writing

I have a wonderful treat for you for Valentine's Day! It is my honor to offer a very informative guest post by the fabulous C. S. Lakin!

Enjoy her post and please be sure to read to the bottom as we're having a fun Give-Away!

Quick Tricks to Help You Tighten Up Your Writing

Guest Blog Post 
by C. S. Lakin

Writers often think about tightening their writing. Just what does that mean? And how is it done? Is there a way that writers can tighten writing without losing their voice or compromising their writing style?

Like sneaky calories, many unwanted words and phrases find their way into our writing unnoticed and bog it down. The goal should be to write in a concise fashion so that our meaning is clearly understood. It’s not all that tricky to do. And don’t worry—this can be done without adversely cramping a writer’s style.

That’s not to say these tips are a cure-all for major flaws in a story, article, or book. But similar to the get-in-shape-fast programs, here are some simple things writers can do to tighten sentences, shed unwanted words, and tone and shape the whole “body” of work.

1.      Eliminate fatty words from your “diet.” Make a list of your weasel words. Those are the words you throw in out of habit. Often they are pesky adverbs like very and just. Or phrases like began to or started to. Grab a random page of your document and see if you can eliminate at least one or two words from every sentence. It may not be possible, but it’s a good exercise. If the word doesn’t add importance to a sentence, it should go. Then attack the rest of your novel.

2.     Reword passive voice where possible. Whether referring to general passive (“The food was eaten by me” instead of “I ate the food”) or present progressive passive (“The food is being served” instead of “the waiters served the food”), most of the time a sentence will be stronger if the passive voice is avoided. An easy way to seek and destroy unwanted passive construction is do a “Find” for ing, was, is, it was, and there was, to name a few.

3.      Avoid circumlocution. I just love that word, so I have to use it. Don’t use two words when one will do. Don’t use four when three will do. If two adjectives are similar, pick the best one and toss the other.

4.      Ditch the extraneous speaker and narrative tags. If you are writing fiction or narrative nonfiction, you may have dialog in your piece. Be aware that if the reader knows who is speaking, you don’t need to tell them over and over—especially in a scene with only two characters. And remove all those flowery verbs that stick out, such as quizzed, extrapolated, exclaimed, and interjected. Just use said and asked, and maybe an occasional replied or answered. Really. Less is more . . . effective.

5.      Search and destroy repetition. We tend to repeat words, phrases, or ideas in the same paragraph. Sometimes that’s a good thing to do, to drive home a point, perhaps in summary at the end of a section or subheading. But writers often try to say the same thing in a different way, and instead of adding new material they are essentially rehashing what they’ve already said. One great way to catch those repetitive words is to hear your piece read aloud using a  software program like Natural Reader.

6.      And a word about backstory . . . Yes, the dreaded backstory, which novelists have been told to shun in the first chapters of a novel. But really, do you need it? Take a look at all the places you have backstory and boil down just a few lines of the most important information you feel the reader must know to “get” the story. Then see if you can have a character either think or say these things instead of going into lengthy narrative. Look for any passage that feels like author intrusion or an info dump and find another way to impart the information.

If you’re the kind of writer that needs to “add weight” to your skimpy book, you have a different challenge, and the problem won’t be solved by ignoring all the above tips. Remember, it’s the unwanted fat you want to eliminate. Be sure what you add to a skimpy novel is muscle, not fat. And for the rest of us who overwrite, be reassured that by implementing these easy tips, you can help trim those unwanted “pounds” from your pages and tighten your writing.

BIO: C. S. Lakin is a multipublished novelist and writing coach. She works full-time as a copyeditor and critiques about two hundred manuscripts a year. She teaches writing workshops and gives instruction on her award-winning blog Live Write Thrive. Her new book—Say What? The Fiction Writer’s Handy Guide to Grammar, Punctuation, and Word Usage—is designed to help writers get a painless grasp on grammar. You can buy it in print here or as an ebook here.

Connect with her on Twitter and Facebook.

Now for the Give-Away part! We have a grammar question for you. The first person to answer correctly in the comments below will get a free book from C. S. Lakin! Be sure to put your email address in your comment as well so if you're the winner, we can contact you for your mailing address.

Question: How would you do a plural possessive for a family of people named Jones. Write a sentence talking about this family's car.

Last Day to comment for a chance to win is 

Friday February 28th, 2014!

Friday, January 24, 2014

Resolution Amendment

So, I've been doing a lot of thinking these first few weeks into 2014 and have already thought of some amendments to my New Year's Resolution List...

I want to add the following:

12. Start Couponing... really hard core coupon cutting. I've seen some people do some amazing saving with coupons and I want some of that action.
13. Work on my Documented Life Project. I still have a LOT of "prepping" that still needs done; Month pages (I'm only done through April,) Weekly pages (I'm only done through Feb,) and I haven't done any "tip-ins" yet, except for a few of the projects that I've done already. I'm not sure if I'm going to put them in ahead of time or just do them as I go. I also got some medical paper tape that I want to make my own washi tape out of. It's quite see-thru and I like that because I tend to draw/write/doodle/etc. right to the edge of the page.

Roben-Marie Smith

14. Plan meals better. But this probably should fall under the whole "get organized" portion of the list. But I've been wanting to get going with proper meal planning and cooking in bulk so I can have frozen meals that can just be heated up throughout the week.
15. Read the scriptures daily. I had been doing fairly well at this a while back, but I've slacked severely recently. Now, I've been back at a daily scripture read this whole week and it feels good.
16. Spend more time with my boys. Pay more attention to them and add in some new and fun activities throughout the week. I already spend a TON of time with my boys, being a Stay-at-home-Mom, but I feel like I can give more "Quality" time to them than I do currently.
17. Not waste so much time. Pinterest is a great source of ideas and inspiration, but let's face it, it's a time sucker. (As is Facebook and all other social media, but that's a whole other post!) I get on the laptop to do a couple things and hours later I realize that I've wasted the day.
18. Stop procrastinating. This kind of goes along with #17, but expands it a bit. I tend to wait until the last minute to do... well, everything. And then I'm rushed to finish. I usually do my best work in the Eleventh hour, but I shouldn't have to for absolutely everything. Plus, I tend to underestimate how long it will take me to do something, so that gets me more stressed out. I usually finish and usually by my deadlines, but I just don't need to do that to myself.

So, have you kept any of your resolutions so far? Or have they fizzled out early? Or have you done as I have and added/amended to your list?

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Happy New Year 2014!

Happy New Year!

Wow, it's 2014! Is it really the first of the year?

Well, I said I would meet you back here and go over some New Year's Resolutions, didn't I? In all honesty, I haven't had much time to think about my resolutions. Oh, they've flitted through my head while doing other things, sure. But I haven't actually had time to sit and write them down.

Let's start by understanding what a New Year's Resolution is supposed to be. It is something that one decides to do or change about themselves over the course of the next year. Typically, these are things to help one improve oneself such as; lose weight, quit smoking, quit drinking, get organized (a standard for my list,) etc.. Yet many of us make these lists, but never seem to be able to keep them.

Are we making unrealistic goals? Are we just too lazy to keep up with them? Are we not ready to turn over a new leaf on the first of the year? Maybe we make too long of a list and it gets too daunting and overwhelming or too many things to try to remember to do/not do all at once.

Whatever it is, I still like to make out my list at the beginning of the year and see how far I get. One idea I had was to make a list, but start only one of them in January, then start the second one in February, the third in March, well, you get the idea. Since it takes 21 days to make something a habit, I thought that would be a good way of instilling each individual item on the list into my life. Make each a habit, one at a time. Although, now that I'm going through my list in my head, some things aren't under the category of "habit" and are just things that need to be done.

Now, for the list:

1. Organize the house (this may actually take more than one month LOL it actually needs it's own list of different areas)
a. My desk/office area
b. Master bedroom
c. Master bath
d. Guest bath
e. J's bedroom
f. B's bedroom
g. Kitchen
h. Living room
i. The garage (that is a whole entire project in and of itself that will take many months to complete, but leads me to my next main list item)
2. Go through a box a day from the garage
3. Get published!
4. Finish the books that I have started (I've got quite a few in the works and really need to finish them, a few are in a series of their own)
5. Lose weight (I've actually already started on this, having lost 9 pounds recently, but I want to get into regular sized clothing, rather than the "plus" sized stuff)
6. Start exercising (this should take care of the item above)
7. Start a garden (we've been trying, but can't seem to get anything to really "take" in our crappy sandy Floridian yard)
8. Get into major couponing
9. Finish the afghan I'm working on right now as well as one other I have planned as a gift
10. Write daily
11. Keep the van clean (I've got kids, what can I say?)

I've been working on a few of these things for a while, but really want to focus on them this new year, so that's why I've added them to the list. For example, this past November, I did NaNoWriMo, but now have to finish editing and getting the book ready to publish. Also, the afghan I'm working on is a project that I tend to only work on when going on long trips (a drive that will last at least an hour+) when my husband drives because I hate his driving and he hates me screaming at his driving, so crochet. Why don't I just drive instead of him? Well, I'd rather not and it gives me time to crochet when the kids are strapped in their child seats and can't come running up to me and climb all over me and my yarn with sticky fingers and drool. Enough said.

The main "habits" I need to establish are rite daily, exercise and going through a box a day from the garage. Now it's just a matter of prioritizing my list and getting started. The main thing I really need to do is get more organized. I still have Christmas cards that need to be sent out because I lost them! I had them, we got ready for Christmas Day, moved a few things around and *POOF* gone! Totally disappeared. I don't know if the little green men who live in the walls came out and took them or what. (That's something my Dad always said if we lost something; the little green men must have taken it.) So, better organization is my number one priority. With that, everything else should fall into place.

The main problem(s) is(are) that this house is too small (and I'm a packrat) and has no decent storage space. There are hardly any cupboards in the kitchen for pots, pans, glasses and dishware, there are only a few very small closets and the rooms themselves are small, so there's not a lot of space for our furniture. So, organization is a necessity that I've been putting off for waaaayyyy too long.

Starting a garden is also something that I want up at the top of the list because that could save us a ton of money in groceries. We'd still have to buy some produce from the store, obviously, but if I could grow my own bell peppers, lettuce, celery, squash, potatoes, sweet potatoes, etc., that would be a huge help! I've grown celery, but it only grows for a little while (about 3-5 inches tall) and then dies off. I'm not sure what I'm doing wrong with it.

Anyway, that's my New Year's Thoughts and Resolutions. What are yours?

Help me bring The Saratov Approach around the world!


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...