Outside of photography and the books I read this last year, I thought I’d note a few of the bigger moments and highlights of my year, things that I did or experienced that I was really proud of or stuck with me as important moments.
There will always be tons of those when it comes to my kids. Yes, I’m hugely biased and think I have the best kids ever, even when they are being little shits. There are a couple that really stick out, though.
BG stepping WAY out of her mostly introverted comfort zone to be a dance assistant. Just the few months that she has been doing this, she has really gained a lot of self-confidence that I haven’t seen in her before. It has been amazing to watch. I’ve also seen her really grow and mature this last year with how she has handled friendships and dating and high school.
This has been MC’s year to really drop the proud mama moments on me. I’m over the moon proud of his accomplishments and getting not only accepted into his school of choice, but winning a top scholarship because of all the hard work he put into is school work. The biggest mush moment from him though is one I never posted about. I never could quite find the words to describe how he made me feel, but… for a project in one of his classes, he had to name the smartest and the wisest people he knew (separate people). His obvious choice, to me anyway, would be my Hubby because he looks up to him so much. He did name his dad as being the smartest, but he said that I was the wisest. When all the other students were naming famous people and other people of note, he picked me. When he told me all the reasons (which I have now forgotten because I’m still blown away by the fact he even considered me) I just almost bawled. I am not, and never have been, the person he really looks up to. I’m just mom. The fact that he feels that way about me, enough to include it in a school project and then tell me about it… talk about feeling like you’ve done something right as a parent! My 17 year old son thinks I’m wise. Just… wow.
There were a few creative projects that I’m still really proud of. While it wasn’t my best cake, by far, but BG’s birthday cake this year was still insanely challenging and turned out pretty well.
That costume really hit me in the creative nerve because just doing it in cake wasn’t enough, apparently. I had to paint it as well. Again, far from being perfect, it was something new for me and I’m thrilled with how it turned out.
I was also really pleased with the first piece of jewelry I’ve attempted in a few years. It reminded me how much I love working with stones and silver.
Of course I think one of my proudest creative endeavors this year was publishing my book, An Unexpected Turn. Considering I never planned, expected or even dreamed of writing a book, I’m still a little astonished that I actually did it. It has been this insanely difficult, emotional roller coaster of an experience. I’m even more proud of the fact that it really seems to be received well by most readers. It is selling and getting mostly positive reviews. I still sometimes struggle to believe it has all actually happened.
Even though I definitely had some rather low moments throughout the year, 2019 was a pretty good year, especially on the creative and mom front. With MC graduating in the spring, BG starting to drive, and my creative muse chafing to get my hands busy, I know 2020 will probably bring a lot of the same.
I have only just now had a few moments to go through all the photos I took over the last several days. Nearly all of them are family related, but I did manage a minute or two to play with my new toy, a photography sphere. I’m going to have so much fun playing with this!
Today is going to be focused on getting the remaining messes picked up and put away from the last few amazing days followed by the post holiday crash. We really had a wonderful, drama free holiday, so I’m very much a happy camper. Even more so because I got to be evil mom to MC by making his one and only gift something he had to really work for to get open. Let’s just say that multiple layers of wrapping and boxes culminated in woven packing tape can only be broken into if you cheat and use scissors. Even that took more work than he expected. The look on his face when he got to that layer absolutely made my day and was so worth all the time it took to set that up.
Everyone is off of work and school until after the new year, so I probably won’t be back to regular posting until then, though I’ll try and sneak in a couple here and there. This time of year is always family time and filled with food and movie marathons and lazy time.
Hoping you all had as amazing holidays as I did and will keep enjoying this fun time of year!
We have a school day routine. I sleep while Hubby and the kids get ready for the day. Hubby lets me know when he’s leaving and MC sends me a text when it gets to school so I know he made it alive. The last piece is when Hubby calls after he gets to work, also to confirm he is alive and well and the idiot drivers he has to share the road with every day didn’t manage to kill him. For the most part, I’m still asleep through all of this.
This morning was epically weird. All the goings on pulled me into a weird state of sleep and I never dropped back into anything deep, so my brain apparently decided to mess with me. When Hubby calls, I tell him about my absolutely brainless mom moment (of which there have been a stunning amount lately, I really probably need to get my head checked) when I, for some insane reason, felt the need to call MC to check on him. Before his morning text. While he is driving to school. I’m half asleep while I do this and MC gives me the “Mom. I’m driving. I’ll text when I get there” frustrated response.
The whole thing has me flabbergasted. I haven’t a clue why I felt the need to make that call. Why it was imperative in that moment that I do so and that I recognize that I wasn’t entirely coherent in the process. I’m thinking that MC had to have thought that is what I sound like if I were to drunk dial him because it is certainly what it felt like. Hubby mentions that he is surprised MC even answered his phone while driving and that maybe in the future I need to message or call BG instead (since MC drives her to school with him). My son probably thinks his mom has lost her ever loving mind at this point.
In all honesty, I even have a hard time remembering much about the whole conversation with MC. I get off the phone with Hubby and promptly fall back asleep like I’ve taken some heavy duty meds. This is because I slept for crap the night before because I wasn’t feeling well. I didn’t fall asleep until probably well after 2 am and after I caved and got up to take something for the headache and sore muscles.
It wasn’t until I woke up much later and saw my normal daily “I’m here” text from MC and realized I’d slept right through it without responding that I examined the whole situation. I decided to go and look. Sure enough, there is no call to MC in my call history. I did not, in fact, sleep dial my son while he was driving to school and he did not answer and talk to his sleep calling mother. My brain did, in fact, mess with my head in an extreme way this morning. I did have the conversation with Hubby and he laughed his ass off when I called him again after I was fully awake and told him it was all a dream.
I really need to get my head checked. I apparently also really needed sleep.
I’m breaking a bit with my normal tradition, which is to put up decorations the day after the US Thanksgiving. I decided I didn’t want to risk trying to do this in sub-zero temps when I have a nice, mid 50s day to work on them now. Nothing will get turned on until the normal day and the inside is going to happen as usual, but it will at least be up and ready before it gets too miserable. This also breaks it up a little so that I don’t have as much to do all at once, which is nice.
We aren’t the only ones with this idea as most of the people along my street are outside working, taking advantage of the small warm break we are getting. Now, I’m off to work my butt of.
Oh! I’m also going to get to see BG’s pointe costume for this year, which I’m insanely excited about because they are doing a piece from Swan Lake. I’ve seen glimpses of a stunning black and white piece, but I get to see it in person today, so I’m over the moon excited, even if it means I have to stop in the middle of my work to go watch them unveil it.
Taking a break and thought I’d share. When I’m in the kitchen working on a project, I almost always have music going. I also set my playlist with most all of my music with the exception of Christmas songs on random play. I love how I can change from one musical style and decade to a completely different style and decade a song later. It is an interesting dichotomy. I thought I share a small sampling of what has been my background music today.
Misery – Maroon 5
Low Rider – Cheech & Chong
Blackbird – The Beatles
Dem Beats – Todrick Hall (feat. Ru Paul)
Closer – Nine Inch Nails
Walk This Way – Aerosmith
Peek-A-Boo – Siouxsie And The Banshees
Let’s Pretend We’re Married – Prince
Landslide – Stevie Nix
Dancing With A Stranger – Sam Smith
Funky Town – Lipps, Inc.
Hey Look Ma, I Made It – Panic! At The Disco
Miss Me Blind – Culture Club
Silent All These Years – Tori Amos
Say Something – James
Jive Talking – Bee Gees
Modern Love – David Bowie
Dream On – Depeche Mode
Budapest – George Ezra
This is only a small sampling, but it sure is a fun list. I’m never quite sure which direction I’m going when it is time for the songs to shift.
I’m kind of weird about these things and tend to just not do them if I’m nominated or tagged. I’m stepping out of that weirdness for a moment to participate in this one. If you are interested in all the reasons why I’m so weird about it, that is posted below the award piece. I will note, that the very, very few times I’ve done something like this, I rarely play by the rules. This won’t be an exception.
WHAT IS THE SUNSHINE BLOGGER AWARD?
The Sunshine Blogger Award is given to those who are creative, positive, and inspiring while spreading sunshine to the blogging community.
Thank the blogger who nominated you and link back to their blog.
Answer the 11 questions the blogger asked you.
Nominate 11 new blogs to receive the award and write them 11 new questions. (This is the rule I’m breaking)
List the rules and display the Sunshine Blogger Award in your post/or on your blog.
I was first nominated for this by Nen & Jen. At the time, I declined to participate (see weird me). When Sascha also nominated me, I decided to just get over myself and do this one. Thank you for thinking of me!
Nen & Jen Questions:
What was the last book you strongly disliked?
My review is here and there are a few too many reasons to list.
How does your star rating system work for your reviews (if you use one)?
My system is maybe a little complex, but I go into details here.
What are your favorite pizza toppings?
Thin crust ham or Canadian bacon and mushrooms with light sauce is usually one of my favorites, but so few of my family members also like it, I rarely get it.
Would you rather read a great plot with mediocre characters, or a boring plot with amazing characters?
I really am not a fan of either. I need both to really enjoy a book, though bad characters are a peeve.
How many books are you currently reading, and which one is your favorite so far?
I’m in between as I just finished a book. I also never read more than one at a time.
Is there a popular author you’re NOT interested in reading anything by? (Elaborate if you’re comfortable doing so!)
Honestly, there are probably quite a few, but nothing specific comes to mind.
What marginalized rep would you most strongly like to see more of in books?
Nothing comes to mind.
Do you listen to music while reading?
I used to, but I can’t anymore because if music is on, I’m either trying to sing along or I want to get up and dance and I can’t do those things and read at the same time.
Do you prefer book twitter or bookstagram?
I’m only on Twitter. There are only so many places I’m willing to dedicate my time that I’m not reading to. Adding another would cut into that time.
Required reading in school. So many books we didn’t want to read. Was there one you actually enjoyed?
The one that seems to stick with me most was Lord of the Flies. Probably because we did a mock trial after reading the book. I actually enjoyed most of the books required, just not the work of analyzing and answering the questions. Honestly, there were a lot of books that I wanted to read that were only presented in the AP level classes and I wasn’t on that track thanks to a petty teacher that wouldn’t approve my advancement even though I had the grades. I’ve still not read those books.
Is there a scene from a book that has stuck with you? Why?
I don’t remember the author or the name of the book, but it was one of the first ebooks I read, so I wasn’t really paying attention to progress like I would have in a print book. No clue how close I was to the end. The book was tagged as a romance, but it ended with the main male love interest dying in a car crash. You literally finish the book at the moment he died and there were a mountain of strings left unfinished. It pissed me off to no end because that is NOT how a romance should ever end. I spent probably 5 minutes flipping between pages thinking that there was something wrong with the copy I got and that pages were missing, or that I’d hit something wrong and advanced too far. Nope. It really ended that way. It made me mad enough to not even consider picking up the next book.
Is there any movie that you’ve liked more than the book it was based on?
I don’t do a lot of both, but probably The Last of the Mohicans. I’m convinced it is because I watched the movie first.
What book would you recommend to….anyone?
Any book that is on my favorites list.
Do you have a bookish guilty pleasure?
None that I can think of.
Is there a hyped book that you hated?
I wouldn’t say exactly that I hated it, but I really wasn’t a fan.
I’d list the book I mention above with the scene, but I’ve managed to block out the name of it. Apparently I disliked it that much.
Stuck on a desert island…what 4 authors’ books would you bring?
I can only answer this because you gave me 4 authors and not just 4 books. If forced to pick only 4, I end up dying while I stood around trying to decide.
Anne Bishop, Faith Hunter (with all her pen names, just because it gives me genre choices), Michelle Sagara (West), and… dang… I thought that would be easier. Nope. Maybe G.A. Aiken/Shelly Laurenston (I get to keep them both since it is again pen names) to add the humor variety to the mix even though they are all still fantasy.
If you’re a writer (or secretly want to be a writer—I won’t tell 😉 ) who would you most like to write like?
I honestly can’t say. There are things I admire, like the ability to create stunningly vivid worlds or to lay down gut busting irreverent humor that I’d love to be able to do, but I never really felt like I wanted to write like anyone in particular. I’m not sure I could give you an author to compare with how I wrote.
What’s your favorite setting for reading?
The quiet of my house while everyone is at school or work, snuggled on my couch under a blanket. It is even better in the winter when the decorations are up and the fire is blazing.
Ebooks, audiobooks, hard copies. Do you favor just one?
I prefer the versatility and ease of ebooks.
Do you have a favorite book quote? If not, a favorite scene? If not, a favorite character? If not, a favorite anything book related? 😉
Again, the favorites thing… How about I give you 2 (and only because I remember them)?
“Titus! Come on up, dude. We have beer.” – Faith Hunter’s Dark Queen This is only because of who said it in the book and the situation it was said in. It was kind of epic.
This is me breaking the rules. I’m not nominating anyone, but if anyone wants to grab any of the questions, please feel free. Tag me if you do as I’d love to see your answers.
Reasons I’m weird:
I’m not completely sure why I’m so weird about awards and tags (because yes, this applies to those too), but there are a few reasons I can articulate.
Often I feel like I just don’t really have anything to say to fit whatever it is, usually because questions fall into lines like “What is your favorite [fill in blank]” and I just am not a favorites person, especially if I’m forced to only pick one or two of something. Another part of it is that, as much as I may write about stuff here, I avoid some things because it just feels weirdly private. Or it feels like I’d bore readers to tears because I’m really not that interesting.
Then there is the whole tagging of other people thing. Sometimes it feels kind of like the whole mess surrounding picking teams or being invited to join certain clubs and being the one on the outside or picked last. I understand, intellectually, that that isn’t the thing here, but it touches on some of those emotions and I don’t want to make others feel that way. It also tends to push against my introvert tendencies and participating in things like this means stepping out of my comfort zone.
I don’t think these kinds of awards or tags are bad. Not at all. I find it fun to read a lot of these. They just tend to make me feel uncomfortable when I get tagged or nominated, because I just don’t know what to do with it most of the time, even though I do appreciate when someone thinks of me when they are participating.
I was trying to do some research to come up with some good book club questions for my reader and this… ad? Joke? Thing? showed up. Yes, someone actually published that and it doesn’t look like a joke. People are just weird. Oh and that cover? Can you get any creepier and and freaky? Yes. I’m sure you can. No. I don’t want to see it.
Last night MC came down when I was playing with getting my new tablet set up. I’m all focused on that when he asks me a question, so… absolutely distracted and not really listening.
MC: I have a question about my calculus homework.
Me: Hmm? What? *still not entirely paying attention*
MC: I have a question about calculus.
Me *finally looking up*: Um … *vacant stare*
MC: *blank, expectant face*
Me: … Whhyyy… *sees the smirk forming* Why are you asking ME?! That’s math!
MC: *cracks up like the total shit he is* Yeah. I know. I’m just waiting for Dad.
Yeah, my kids know which parent to ask about which subjects. THAT is not the one to ask me about unless you goal is to fail the class.
I actually didn’t intend to go out and purchase this weekend, but I wanted to get my hands on my options so I could see how the size differences felt. When we went to the store, it was supposed to be only so that I could look and get a better idea of what I wanted. Turns out I could get this at a crazy discounted price with a bonus discount included, dropping the overall price much lower than the tablet I was drooling over. The one I got wasn’t even on my radar as it was a couple of steps too expensive for what I was looking to spend. The difference? This one is actually the newer/better version of the tablet I really wanted.
The one downside is the size. This is much larger than I wanted at 10.5 inches and was the other reason it wasn’t on my radar. When you compare it to my Nexus (see image), there is a significant difference. It is going to take a whole lot of getting used to for that difference alone. My reading app feels exceptionally large, holding what feels like 2 or 3 pages worth of text on a single screen. I’m also going to need a case to make it a bit easier to carry around.
This does have the option of adding a keyboard (sold separately), but I really didn’t want or need it as I just want this as a tablet. It is kind of nice to know I have that option for later if it ever comes up, though. It also has some killer speakers for a tablet, which is saying something because I’m a snob about good sounding speakers for music. I rarely do anything with sound on my tablet so this really didn’t make a huge difference to me. I can see how it would be pretty amazing for anyone that plays games or watches shows and movies, though.
It took forever to get everything set up and the apps I use downloaded along with all my books, but I was so excited that I have something that isn’t going to crash on a regular basis. No more spending as much time resetting everything as I do reading. No more worrying that my tablet is going to give up the ghost at the most intense scene in the middle of a book making me wait who knows how long before I can find another way to finish it.
Sadly, or maybe not so sadly depending on how you look at it, I may just spend as much time playing with the frickin’ off the charts cool drawing features I get to play with because this comes with the S Pen (that piece that made me drool in the first place). Saying I was doing a happy dance and squealing like a toddler at Christmas is maybe a tiny bit of an understatement (kind of like that sentence). Especially when I discovered I can work directly on a photo. The number of possibilities this has opened for me is immense. Do you have any clue how many killer drawing apps are out there?
Reading. Drawing. Playing with photos. The only thing that would make this better was if it did my laundry, too.
This road is along the very northern edge of the Door County peninsula of Wisconsin. I’m sure we would have run across it at some time as we tried to explore every inch of this area, but were told about it from the lady at a candy store (Uncle Tom’s if you are really interested in some AMAZING fudge). Hearing about it, we were like “It’s a road. How interesting can it really be?” How about FUN more than interesting?
I think we drove up and down this road half a dozen times before calling it quits because it was so much fun. This stretch isn’t really that long. Maybe half a mile or so, if even, but it was kind of like riding on a kiddie roller coaster. One that isn’t too crazy, but just wiggly enough to entertain really young kids. Apparently we are really young kids at heart because driving this was hilarious and fun. Who on earth decided designing a road like this was the way to go?! Whoever it was, I’m glad, because this was so silly it was awesome making it worthy of its own post. It was also such a notable feature of the area that it is on a lot of the souvenir merchandise as well.
Apparently previous spam theories and techniques weren’t working anymore. Now spammers are resorting to insulting post titles to get you to click on them. Really?! Sorry, I was just cleaning out the spam folder to make sure nothing got dropped there by mistake while I was gone and I ran across that one. As I’m reading and seeing this rather obnoxious critique on how I titled a blog post, I just laughed my ass off at the things people will do to get you to interact and had to share.
My family actually left me some bananas to work with again. I am stunned. And obviously in the mood to bake. I decided to do the mini-muffin version just for something different. The recipe is still the same, I just changed the cooking time to about 20 minutes. They do lean towards the lighter color side than the bread because of that shorter time, but they are still just as tasty. Needless to say, these are already getting gobbled up.
*My base recipe for bread makes about 3 1/2 dozen mini-muffins.
MC just got his test score back for his AP Biology exam. He nailed a 5!!! Highest you can get and he was the only one in his class to do so. My boy is totally kicking high school’s ass! We have a few days before he is supposed to get his AP statistics score, but he felt he did pretty good after that test and isn’t worried about that score.
I’m probably lounging around the pool and chilling out with my Hubby and my kids right about now, but I thought I’d still give you some pretty for the day. This fireworks display brought to you by the sometimes crazy neighbors. Enjoy!
It took forever and I found that some of my images were actually too big (first time for everything) and I had to do some adjustments. That said, I’m now sitting at well over 400 images on my Pixels photo print site. Including all the stunning water shots I got the other day.
Playing with manipulating some of my photos was so much fun, I’ve now got a collection of “art” images that are photos I’ve played with. It is still a small grouping, but I intend to grow it over time.
As always, though, the majority of the images are macro shots of flowers, which continue to be my obsession because some of the most interesting and beautiful parts of the world are in the little details you have to get up close and personal with to see.
One of my goals when I published my book was to get into my local library. I’ve met that goal, but now I’d like to see how many more libraries I can get in and I need your help!
I’m asking readers, other indie authors, book bloggers/reviewers and just anyone that wants to help:
1) go to their local library
2) request An Unexpected Turn in ebook
3) share a picture or a link of the book in that library
4) share this post
Requesting an author’s book from the library is just as important as buying because it helps to get that book into the hands of other readers. Anyone that takes it a step further and wants to read and review it, then you are an amazing human being. I’ll be retweeting (for twitter) and sharing all blog posts (if you send me the link) and keeping track of library locations for anyone wanting to follow along. I want to keep this going for the month of July to celebrate summer reading and the TBR’s everyone has.
Not all libraries have this ability and I don’t know if it is even possible outside of the US, but I’d love to find out, so be sure to let me know what you find! I also highly encourage you to do this for any indie author you’d like to support.
We gave MC permission to skip the less than half a day that was the last day of school. This is so not something I EVER do, but… the kid got not only straight As all year, but maintained 100% in something like half his classes. He can have a frickin’ break. This did mean calling him in, which Hubby was in charge of, but he had to say he was sick. In a way, it wasn’t a complete lie, he was feeling a little sore because he played kickball the previous couple of days.
The funny thing about it all? BG wanted to go the last day (same grades and had zero absences the entire year) because she wanted to see her friends. Guess who ended up actually sick? BG. Poor girl. The last day was Friday and by Monday, she was miserable. Sore throat. Achy. Low grade fever. Major congestion. She did this for a few days before I took her in because her temp when up. They checked for strep but they said there was just some nasty viral stuff going around.
The sore throat and aches have gone away, but now she has a horrible cough. The kind that makes you want to cry every time you do cough because your abs have had it and are screaming at you. She comes down about every hour or so to whine that she feels like crap and wants me to somehow miraculously fix it.
Now, I totally shouldn’t laugh because I KNOW how bad she is feeling. I know, because this is me every winter. All winter long. And all I hear from both kids is “Sheesh! Quit coughing already!” or “You’re fine mom! That lung you just coughed up is nothing, let’s go!” I now get to give her tons of crap about taking the meds she needs (which she hates) and try really hard not to be a bad parent when I laugh.
I got to give her extra crap today because she is going to hang with a with a group of friends for someone’s birthday and they will be playing pickleball. She will be doing it while coughing with sore abs. I do feel bad, but I’m laughing a bit (and she is trying hard not to laugh along with me) because she insists on still going even though she feels like crap.
I’m dropping this little nudge for anyone that hasn’t seen it yet or is new around here. I did this thing called “writing a book” a while back. I’m kinda proud of it. At the same time, I’m trying to get really creative in ways to promote it besides spamming people here, on twitter and through their contact pages if they are book bloggers asking if they’d be interested in reviewing.
Would any bloggers be interesting in participating in a post-release party kind of thing (because I can’t do things in the logical, normal way and have done this PRIOR to releasing my book)? Especially book bloggers, but I’m not going to hold it to just that. Basically, I thought it might be fun for bloggers to host either a review or even a book club like discussion around this. Obviously, they’d get a copy of the book in exchange. It might even be fun to offer up a copy to one of their readers for participating if the blogger wanted.
This is just an idea I’ve been tossing around and thought I’d get some feedback or thoughts on whether this is a good/viable idea or not. Feel free to drop any other ideas or suggestions into the mix as well.
If you want to have a look at what the book is about, it is sitting quietly over here.
Normally I don’t touch my photos with the exception of a little adjustments on color or lighting if the image I take doesn’t come out quite on par with what I saw or a little cropping. Every once in a while, I’ll make one black and white or even just reduce the color saturation. Overall, though, I just don’t mess with them as I’m not a huge fan of artistic manipulations. Some are really cool, but it isn’t what I personally want out of my images.
That said, I felt like playing. The result is by no means super amazing, but I did think it was interesting. I love the grainy look and feel of really old photos as well as their sepia tones and this kind of has a similar feel. Like I said, this was just for fun and it came out interesting.