Friday, December 30, 2011

Clean Slate

Well it's all over and done with ... Christmas, 2011... out with the old and in with the new. I've been taking the week between Christmas and New Years off since Grace was born. This year, I thought I might not burn that many vacation days but once again decided to do it.

On the one hand, it's great being home and getting all of the Christmas stuff that I enjoyed so much BEFORE Christmas down and put away. The minute the gifts are opened and everyone goes home, I'm over it. I want things clean and organized.

I stayed up late the past several nights getting things put away and doing the little and big tasks that had been getting put off while I was working. I revamped the Girl Cave and moved ALL of Grace's stuff to her playroom. She's already been in there more 'working'.
Moved the day/trundle bed to the playroom.
Girl Cave Redo

 I moved the futon to my Girl Cave and bought a book case. I'm going to buy a better and much larger one to put on the wall behind the closet door.
Futon and  a book case!

Optimistic exercise equipment
 With the futon out of the way, the exercise equipment beacons. I even dusted it off. Maybe this will be the year? Lord knows we need it.
The dog sleeps alone.
 And the dog got relocated. Bryon has had to get up with her every few hours to let her outside since we got her. She doesn't NEED to go outside that much, she just WANTS to go outside. She goes out there an lays in the grass in the middle of the night. Uh, No. Now she sleeps outside in her dogloo. If it gets super cold she can sleep in her crate. She likes the crate so it's not really the hardship it sounds like. AND we can all sleep better now. It makes me want to beat her a little less.

I have LOTS of goals for 2012. I've written them all down. The problem, as always, is in the IMPLEMENTATION of those goals. I'm all ideas. I just need more minion to do my bidding so I can follow through. I didn't make any resolutions last year. My number one resolution for 2012 is to finish this novel. I'm at 61,409 words as of last night. I need 18,591 more to reach 80,000 and then I can pursue publication. I'm not even going to try to follow that path until I have a completed project to present.

If I can't get it published, I'll self-publish it on Amazon and then you can read my pulp fiction masterpiece. Or not. No pressure. It's all good. Paranormal romance is not for everyone. I understand that. Try to make me read a historical romance or a 'classic' and we'll have a problem. Boring. Add zombies or vampires to that and I'm all in.

Maybe I'll share some of my other resolutions as we go. 

Life is Good in the Big Cedars.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Gift Giving - Consumption Umption, What's Your Function?

We might have gone a little overboard this year with Grace's gifts. We had a few ideas of things she wanted and a few more of things we wanted to get for her from us and from Santa. We got them all.

A few years ago we finally talked everyone, friends and family, into not exchanging gifts anymore. It was all just sort of insane trying to come up with stuff for everyone who, like us, bought what they really wanted for themselves. It was a tremendous relief. Now we only have to buy for Grace.

Grace really doesn't get get a lot of STUFF or gifts through the year. Her birthday is in October and we've had some pretty large and elaborate birthday parties that yield lots of kids which in turn yield lots of presents. This year she only wanted a small sleepover and to eat out somewhere fancy with her family. Jackpot! She still got some gifts but not the deluge she usually gets. She was just as happy.

Now the prudent person would have carried that logic through to Christmas and pursued a similar plan. We are not prudent people. We went a little nuts.
She has outgrown ALL her jeans!

A few science experiments, Wii, DS and Justin Beber

Stocking stuffers and no that's not booze ;)

She asked for books about jungles.

We also got her a REAL digital camera. She's had a couple of kids digital cameras and they are just worthless really. The pics are so bad they aren't even worth downloading. I know she'll have fun with a real one. It's shockproof, waterproof and a couple of other 'proofs' so hopefully it will last a while.

And finally I got her this Rock and Gem book that she's checked out of the library a ton of times. Now she'll have one of her own.

We did all of our shopping in one day while Grandpa Medley watched Grace. It was pretty fun AND we got to eat at Olive Garden so double score. I wanted to order everything from Amazon. Bryon wanted to go shopping. He won but I got to eat bread sticks and pasta so I was a happy loser.

Bryon is a great gift giver. I am a crappy gift giver.

Bryon once gave me a trip to Estes Park, CO to learn to snowshoe and cross country ski. I stayed in a condo with a jacuzzi with my Mom. It was wonderful.

I once gave Bryon a $3.00 pair of binoculars from Osco. Turns out the optics on a $3.00 pair of binoculars are not all that good. They might as well have come from a gumball machine.

Grace is just lucky she's got her Daddy shopping for her.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011


Wow, I thought I had read a lot more books than this during 2011. It SEEMED like I was reading a lot. I guess I spent much more time working on my novel than I thought. I only read 25 books this year. Last year I read 64. Grave Secret is on that list above twice. I only read it once. I'm just too Photoshop impaired to delete it.

I'm pretty sure I read a few more than this but just didn't remember to put them on Shelfari. No idea what those might have been. If they come to me in an epiphany, I'll update. I wouldn't hold your breath if I was you ;)

There were some good reads in that list. The Stand was a great reread as was One for the Money. I don't usually do that. Reread that is, but I thoroughly enjoyed both ... again.

I have The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo on my nightstand lined up to be next. Then I'm thinking maybe The Hunger Games. That's the great thing about loving to read ... there's always more!

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Winter Is For The Birds

I finally made this little project that I saw ... somewhere. I thought maybe I'd seen it on Pinterest which I recently started perusing but when I looked at my boards I didn't see it there. Pinterest is a cool site if you've never been there. It, like Facebook, is a great sucker of time but I LOVE looking at magazines and it's a little like that ... without the ads.

 I thought this would be a fun project for Grace but she lasted through two of them and I did the rest. I had two jars of organic peanut butter that I can't stand so at least it's getting put to good use. I've tried to like organic and natural peanut butter. I really have but I hate how the oil separates and then it's impossible to stir up or spread. These were a mess to make with that peanut butter. With Jiff of some other smooth brand, it would have been a lot easier. Still, they are pretty darn cool.

Toilet paper rolls, peanut butter and birdseed.
Smear on the peanut butter.
Roll it in the birdseed.

And suddenly you've got cool bird treats.

You just slip them over tree limbs and the birds will find them. Of course squirrels will too and since we live in the woods the last on the tree limb about eight minutes. At least something is getting to enjoy them.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Blogging in 2012

A blog is like a garden that you need to tend. If you don't water it, if you let the weeds grow up, if you just plant the seeds and then forget about it: nothing will grow there. Or if something does manage to grow, it won't be what you expected.

Here is my blog book for 2011. I ordered it a little early because there was a sale, so it goes from Jan. 1- Nov. 30, 2011. Next year's book will start Dec. 1. It goes against my sense of organization and completion but totally agrees with my sense of a good deal being had.  I felt like I blogged a lot in 2011.

I have been blogging since June of 2007. The first year I had only 49 posts. In 2008 I had 113 posts, 2009 115 posts and in 2010 I had 79 posts. 2010 was a long eventful but ultimately unbloggable year with all that was going on with Bryon's job. This year has been awesome. If I hadn't blogged so much in October though, I wouldn't have had very many posts. For 2011 I'm at 87 posts so far. I'll get a few more in before the time ticks down.

This year I'm going to really concentrate on my blog. I know a few of you guys out there read it every time I post. I think that's cool. It's very personally satisfying to see those page views increase. Since the month of October when I blogged every day, my monthly page views have gone from 200-300 in a month to 800 in the past 30 days.

That is AWESOME!

I'm not saying I'm some robed sage to be followed. I'll just be continuing on as usual, telling you stories about life in the Big Cedars, my family, preserving some of the stories about Bryon and my childhoods, our courtship, and our marriage for Grace and writing about the various and sundry other things that strike my fancy.

Things like writing. I'm still working on my novel. I started it in August so I don't feel like it's too stale yet or has been worked on a ridiculously long time and should be shoved into a drawer and forgotten. I'm still interested in it and still excited about it. I just need many, many more hours in the day to be able to work on it. I can't really accomplish much in fits and starts. I am looking forward to another Write-In day January 7 at the Creamery with the writing group (Ozark Romance Authors - ORA).

Maybe I can squeeze in a few more hours/days/minutes before then. At this point at least I don't have to reread the entire thing before I feel like I can sit down to work on it again. Those characters are like cousins I don't see very much but still remember what they've done during holiday dinners past. I at least know their story now.

Blogging is not as difficult as writing a novel but it still takes time in between cooking dinner, washing clothes, tending to kids, husband, animals, plants, sleep, reading ... you know how it is. You are doing the same things. I'm not promising a post a day because that will suck the joy out of it if it becomes a chore. I am promising I'll make an effort to post MORE.

I've been collecting a list of topics in my notes app on my new iPhone. Siri has been helping me ... when she isn't on crack that is and spewing forth nonsense.

Here's what I have (in no particular order) coming up in the next few posts to pique your interest...

A Walk In The Woods
Gift Giving
Coolest Apps in the Universe
Needless: How to be not so needy
Serial Killer: Why series books and shows turn me on
Product Loyalty
What Do You Want To Be When You Grow Up?
Picky Eater
Amusement Parks & Memories of Vacations Past
Getting Religion
Old Timey Ways
Resolutions for 2012 - 12 Months of Projects
Oldies But Goodies

I'll keep working on more as they come to me.

For now, thanks for reading. You're swell.

And if you haven't subscribed by email, you should do it. Just fill in your email address at the top of the blog and you'll get my posts emailed to you. They also update on my Facebook page. Friend me and you'll never miss an episode. I can't promise there won't be any reruns though. I am my Mother's daughter. I have to search my own blog sometimes to make sure I'm not repeating myself :)

Life is Good in Big Cedars.

Friday, December 9, 2011

A Walk in the Woods

Grace got lost in the woods a couple of weekends ago. Ever since we got Belle, we have been making an extra effort to walk her at least twice a day. We walk her in the morning for 10 or 15 minutes before putting her into the outside kennel and going to work and school and then again as soon as we get home. She gets a few more walks usually on the weekends.

We've been sending Grace out to do some of those walks. When Bryon was off last year, he made some awesome trails through out woods. We especially like to take her there. Grace has been on those trails now many, many times but never alone. A couple of weekends ago on a Sunday afternoon we told her to take Belle out for a walk. Grace said she was going to go on the long trail. We said fine. She had just led her Nana on that same trail the day before. It's not too complicated. The trail isn't marked but it's pretty obvious. So off they went.

The entire trail takes about 15 minutes to walk at a pokey pace. Twenty five minutes later Grace and Belle still weren't back. I hollered and hollered and got no answer. Now, I wouldn't have put it past Grace NOT to answer but I sent Bryon out on the four wheeler to track them down.

I heard the four wheeler racing through the woods and then doubling back. I knew he hadn't found them. Then I saw her coming down the driveway with the dog in tow.

Me: "Grace, you were gone a long time!"
Grace: "I know! I was lost! I thought I was going to have to spend the night outside!"

She was getting teary as she started to tell me the story of her adventure. Bryon pulled up just a few minutes after she got back. Apparently Belle had gotten away from her and she had chased her and then supposedly got lost. She then proceeded to cross two fences and walk to our neighbors house (a little classmate) and knock on their door for help. They weren't home. She said she turned around and saw our mailbox and walked down the ditch to it and then down the driveway back home.

She said she hollered and hollered for us. Well, we were in the house and she was a quarter mile away in the woods.  We didn't hear her.

Now, there were a few holes in her story. First of all, if she could see the neighbor's house to walk to it ... then she could have seen our field and mailbox. Secondly, if she hadn't crossed any fences she would never have left our property. Third, after Bryon reviewed the trail cams, he saw her heading RIGHT ON THE TRAIL to our field just like we always go.

The only ones that really know what happened during that twenty five minutes is Grace ... and Belle but she was pretty undone about it all. I made her hot chocolate with marshmellows. I tried not to make too big a deal about it because she can be a real drama queen and would have really been upset if I had. She did learn some lessons that will hopefully stay with her.

1. Never cross fences.
2. Never walk by the road.
3 If you get lost, stay put. Someone will come and find you.
4. If the dog escapes, let her go. She'll come back or we'll find her later.
5. You are ALWAYS on camera, even in the woods.

That night when I said sweet dreams she said she'd probably have nightmares about being lost in the woods. I asked her why? She knew it had a happy ending, so she shouldn't worry about it anymore.

What happens in the woods, stays in the woods.

Next time she's just going to have to stay on the road more traveled.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Small Town Parade - The Whole Enchilada

So I finally got the whole parade uploaded. It's actually only 10 minutes long and it has a LOT of wind and me laughing about people thowing candy at me in the audio. Sorry about that. I took it on my iPhone. This is the last leg of the parade. The other little video was as it left the school.

I especially like the guy at the end trying to sell his wood.

Ah, life in a small town.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Baton Twirling Pinnacle

Saturday was the Niangua Christmas Parade. We had never actually gone to the Niangua Christmas Parade but the cheer leading coach and her mother at school sent home letters a few weeks ago to see who wanted to be baton twillers in the parade.

I asked Grace if she wanted to do it and she said she did. I called the coach and signed her up putting the wheels in motion. The coach wanted them to all dress the same (or at least as similar as they could): red skirt, white tights, white sweatshirt so while I was out and about I made a few stops to track down a red skirt that would be appropriate for twirling. I was surprisingly difficult.

You would think there would be a plethora of red skirts for little girls around Christmas time. Not so. In fact, I couldn't find one anywhere. I resorted to Amazon and found one. Just before I hit the confirm button, I asked Grace one more time (stupid I know) if she was sure she wanted to do it. She said no. I asked why. She said because it was just going to be older kids and she was too nervous to do it. Whatever.

I don't know where she gets this 'too nervous' thing. I have NEVER said that. I've FELT it at times, sure but I NEVER said it to her about anything. It's amazing how other people and shows and who knows WHAT help them form their little minds and opinions. I have no idea where she got that from.

I tried to talk her into doing it. She got upset and teared up and said no. No other first graders were doing it so she didn't want to either. Bryon told her she could be a leader and do it and if she didn't she would be missing out on a lot of potential fun. She still said no. I told her if she wasn't going to do it I needed to tell the coach before the week of practice started. Still no. I emailed the coach and told her she was out and why.

The coach emailed back and said four other first graders had in fact signed up to do it and the first grade had the most kids on the team. We worked on her some more. She finally said yes. I hit 'Place Order' and told her teacher she was staying after school all last week to practice.

The first night she came home elated. She had a blast and showed us all her new moves.

Practice continued all last week and then the big day arrived. I had finally found another red skirt at Walmart in the little toddlers section that was a five. Grace wears a seven but it looked stretchy and like it might work if we had to use it. I kept the receipt just in case.

Good thing too because Saturday morning all I wanted to do was sleep in. We didn't have to be at the school until 10:30 so woo hoo! Sleep in it was. Or not. Grace was up at 7:30 and in my room crying and complaining of a stomach ache and then that she was NOT going to wear the skirt I had ordered because it was see through and people would see her bottom. Well, yeah, it was see through. It was more of a tutu but she had white pant/tights she could wear under it instead of just tights and it would have been fine. Nope, it was too poofy she said.

Well this went on forever until I finally just got up, stalked out the car and brought in the other skirt that might or might not fit. Thank God it did. She dried up her tears, I gave her a Tums and we got ready to go.

She was nervous and excited. Bryon missed it because he had to work but you can see her in the video above. Noticetoo the tumbleweed blowing across the street in front of the police car. Pretty funny and pretty typical of small town Niangua. It is pretty much a ghost town. Also you'll notice the four hourses at the FRONT of the parade. Who puts horses at the FRONT of a parade without poop bags on them? Niangua does. The band followed pretty closely behind and then the twillers. You can imagine what happened. Grace was just happy it wasn't HER baton that landed in a steaming pile of poo.

By the way, three other girls had the EXACT same little skirt on (number two not the poofy one). Disaster averted.

Grace did a great job and took it very seriously. You can see how high she's marching. She complained about her butt hurting a few hours later and the next day too. No pain, no gain my friend.

If you would like to see the entire ten minute parade I'm trying to upload it to YouTube. I'll post it if I get it accomplished.

Just another day in big city.

Life is good.

Barbered Barbies

Well it was bound to happen. It's a rite of passage I suppose. In fact, have you ever been to a flea market and NOT seen it? Of course I'm talking about Barbies with eternal haircuts. Nope, Barbie hair does not grow back my friend. It's like every bald man you've ever met regardless of how much Rogaine they rub over their chrome dome ... when it's gone, it's gone.

Grace came to me this afternoon and asked me to promise not to tell her Daddy something that was probably going to make me mad. I told her I was not promising but she needed to tell me anyway. Here's how the conversation went.

Grace: I cut my Barbies' hair.
Me: Why would you do that?
Grace: I was bored.
Me: How many Barbies did you cut?
Grace: I don't know.
Me: Go where are they?
Grace: In my playroom.
Me: Go get them.

She did. She came down with her rolly backpack full of shorn Barbies. There were ten of them. And a pile of Barbie hair. She suggested we take it to the woods to dispose of it. She really didn't want her Daddy to know.

The only ones who survived the shearing were the pseudo Barbies and the ones in her bath tub.

Honestly it was hard to be too mad about it. They actually turned out pretty cute. All except Rapunzel, she's screwed. She looks like she just got back from Jamaica and she let those ladies braid her hair. She's got some seriously messed up dreadlocks going on.

I told Grace she was not getting anymore Barbie dolls since she obviously couldn't take care of them appropriately.

I threw the hair in the trash can and I did tell her Daddy. It was too funny not too. He wasn't mad, just flummoxed as to WHY she would do it. Well me too really. I don't think I ever cut my Barbies' hair.

Maybe she'll be a hairstylist instead of a vet.

You just never know.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Simply the Best

Man I have always wanted to be the best at something. I'm mediocre at a lot of things. I'm the BEST at nothing. I'm not whining about it, I'm just stating facts.

My problem is that I want it to come easily. I guess that makes me a little lazy in that respect. For example, it would be awesome to be a great singer. I can't carry a tune at all. In fact, when I was in the fifth grade we had a Christmas musical at our elementary school. We were all in it. We had to sing. As a group. Did I mention I can't sing?

Well at one point the teachers told us that if we didn't want to sing for some reason, we could sit out and not participate. I didn't want to sing. Neither did a couple of other kids. We sat at the cafeteria tables while the other losers sang their little hearts out.

The next day my teacher, Mr. Franklin took me aside at recess with his partner in crime (another female teacher who I can't remember the name of now) and asked me if I was having trouble at home. Uh, no. They asked if my parents told me I couldn't sing in the program. Uh, no again. They kept grilling and interogating me trying to get to the root of the matter. The root of the matter was that I can't sing, they said I didn't have to, so I didn't. Simple huh?

Well it turns out those other two kids were Jehovah's Witnesses and for some reason they couldn't sing in the program for 'religious reasons'. I was a Baptist. I suddenly had to sing.

They did tell me I could lip sync if I wanted to. After they explained what lip syncing was, I was on board. Keep in mind this was well before we all learned what lip syncing was after the Milli Vanilli fiasco.

So I never became a great singer.

I also wanted to play an instrument. I tried the trumpet which I wrote about in agonizing detail here. I am so not a trumpet player. I am also not a guitar player also detailed in the above post.

I tried several sports; softball, volleyball, basketball. I was again, very very below average at best. Now, some of that I think comes from inate talent. Some of it comes from early opportunities at success that help form a driving passion for a sport. Success breeds success. When you START OUT mediocre and never advance past that point, all you have left to fuel your fire is passion. If you don't have the passion for it, you are NOT, no matter how talented you are or how much potential you have, going to be the best.

In my early thirties I decided adventure racing was for me. I LOVED watching the inspirational stories of the Ironman and then Mark Burnett came along with Survivor. I could do that!

Well it turns out that I'm a much better organizer of adventure races and endurance activities than a participant in them. I'm a weak link. I would be the one being helicoptered out of the event with an IV in my arm that you see on CNN from time to time. One of my goals in life at this point is NOT to be that person.

I tried duathalons, 10ks, 5 ks, a relay marathon (I only ran the last glory mile) and finally I actually did an adventure race with my friends Monty, Laura and Tom. My goal was to NOT be last. We weren't last. But we were damn close. I did not get helicoptered out. I did get a dibilitating migraine headache and spent several hours throwing up afterwards. The Survivor dream died there. I would never make it.

I helped organize the Ozarks Greenways Adventure Races for the first four years planning and implementing torturous courses for those made of much stronger physical stuff than I was. I did get Ozark Greenways Member of the Year sometime around 2001. That was pretty cool ;)

Working on that adventure race was very satisfying and terrifying all at once. After four years of stressing out that something I did in the planning of one of those events might get someone hurt or lost, I finally quit. It was a good run but I was worn out.

After that I decided, maybe I would never BE the best at anything. At this point in my life I think that's okay. Good thing because it's getting a little late in life to start something new and still reach BEST status I think. That doesn't mean it's too late to try new things though.

Grace has spent this last week at Baton Practice at school so she can be in the Niangua Parade on Saturday. She said she wanted to do it, then chickened out and didn't. We talked her back into it. She's loved it this week. We told her if she didn't try things she'd miss out on a lot of cool opportunities to have fun and learn to be good at things.

Tomorrow night she's starting basketball practice with several other first graders. Two of the first grader's dads are coaching it. They are going to try to start playing competitively. I hope she likes it because if she does then by the time she gets into junior high she could be really really good at it. But she's got to have a passion for it. Starting young will help, but if your heart isn't in it, your body won't be either.

By the end of soccer this season she was done with it. I don't know if she'll find her passion and become the BEST at something or if she'll even care. I just don't want her to pass up any opportunity to try.

Like the great band Def Leppard says...

It's better to burn out, than fade away.