Thursday, December 13, 2007

Top Baby Items for New Parents

As parents of three kids, W and I have opinions about what baby items are worthwhile. We have created lists of these items in the past and I thought it was about time to put the information on my blog. That way, I wouldn't have to search for the list every time a friend told me they were expecting!

Just so you know --- you don't really need more stuff in your house. IMHO, I think baby essentials are diapers, breasts and a safe place to sleep. All the rest just makes being a parent easier.

Here is a list of our top baby items. They are in no particular order:

1. Sling for carrying the baby. You may want to try a variety of slings since you don't know what will work for you and with your baby. Also, different slings and baby carriers work at different ages of the baby. Our favorite sling is from Kangaroo Korner and it is called the "adjustable fleece pouch." When your baby gets bigger, and you don't want to carry the weight on one shoulder any more, try the Ergo Carrier. I find this carrier extremely comfortable and my twins love it (one at a time of course).

2. Pure lanolin (brand name I used is Lansinoh) if you are going to nurse your baby. Buy the smallest tube available because it lasts forever! This product is wonderful at helping soothe the nursing mother.

3. Breast pump (again if you are going to nurse your baby - which I highly recommend). Don't get a hand pump - it is not worth the time or energy! Electric breast pumps are very efficient which as a mother you will appreciate. I used a Medela Pump-In-Style which worked great.

4. Fleece car seat insert to keep the baby warm without messing with blankets. We used a Bundle Me which we really liked.

5. Lots of blankets for swaddling the baby. Swaddling new babies helps them to feel secure (like the womb) and helps them not startle themselves awake. The ones we liked the best were waffle weave which are a little stretchier than flannel. You may also want to check out a book - The Happiest Baby on the Block which has great tips for settling a baby.

6. Hylands Colic Tablets - a homeopathic remedy for colicky babies. Nice to have on hand. The Hylands Teething Tablets and Gel are great for when babies start teething as well.

7. The Baby Book by Dr. Sears. This is a nice "how to" for new parents. It has simple information such as how to bathe your baby or monthly milestones. I really love this book.

8. A bouncer is a nice tool to have when you need to have your hands free (i.e. while cooking dinner). Some parents I know have one on each level of their home. I like the simpler bouncers the best. We used one similar to this. One of our children, in particular, was really soothed by the vibration mode.

9. 3-D Activity Gym - you put your baby on the floor under this and the baby looks at it and plays with it. We had a red, white and black one like this where the kids did their "tummy time." Remember, babies don't see colors at first - just contrasts so red, white and black are best.

10. Lactation consultant!!! If you are going to nurse, I cannot stress this one enough. Nursing is not innate (which is what I thought). It is a joint learning process between you and your child. A lactation consultant can really help set you up for a wonderful nursing experience. If possible, get a recommendation from a trusted friend.

11. Cod Liver Oil. Taking Cod Liver Oil when you are pregnant makes your baby smarter. We use this tasty one (no really) that is lemon flavored. For more information on this topic, check out W's blog post on the topic.

If you go here, you will find a list of W's dad recommendations which includes the post on Cod Liver Oil.

I am recommending these products and books because I have had good experiences with them and not because anyone paid me or otherwise coerced me to post.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Check this out: The Ripple Effect

I read a post today that really hit me. It looks at the idea of how a bad day can perpetuate itself. It also raises the question, can a good day / good thoughts / good deeds also perpetuate? I think so. Try it out and let me know if it works for you!

How is your energy generated?

Thanks to Jason for sending me this link where you can find your electricity generation mix by zip code. For example, according to the website, my zip code gets energy in this breakdown: 2% non-hydro renewables, 49% hydro, 4% nuclear, 0% oil, 11% gas, and 34% coal. This "power profiler" is provided by the US Environmental Protection Agency so it will only work in the US. Does anyone know of similar tools for other parts of the world? How is your energy generated?

Monday, December 10, 2007

Oddly relieved

Ok, so I guess I am back to my old ways...of not posting that often. But I must say, I am oddly relieved to be away from the stress of Nanowrimo and NaBloPoMo. I have taken a real break from my computer (except for work) and I think it has been good for me. I am getting more sleep - yay!

I have not done anything on my novel except print it out to be read. I am old school and need to see it in printed format where I can make changes in red. It will be interesting to see if the efficiency-loving part of my personality can overcome this to do my editing on my computer. I feel like I need to go back to the Nanowrimo website and figure out what to do next...

I know that some funny things were said this weekend but I cannot, for the life of me, remember what they were. :) I guess I am not getting quite enough sleep.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Using Flickr Photos on Your Blog

Although I have put some of my own photos on this blog, I never really considered using other people's photos here. Today I read an excellent article on Skelliewag's blog about how to find photos on Flickr. Obviously, you only want to use photos that are OK to use. The author goes through all the Creative Commons licenses and what you need to do to use them. I decided to try uploading a photo here as practice.



Photo by SoftPIX_Techie

p.s. I took a couple of days away from the computer and I think that was a good thing. Now I am motivated to continue posting regularly.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Days 29 & 30: Nanowrimo

Nanowrimo

Words written so far: 51,617

Impressions: Well, I am happy to say that I am done! Hooray! I passed the magical 50K number. The silly thing is...the book isn't over. I am not going to write anymore today and I may not even write anything tomorrow but I would like to spend a little more time writing before I put it away and let it ferment.

I like this story. I like the characters (and hate others, which is the way it should be). It doesn't make a whole lot of sense taken as a whole. It is disjointed in places but I still love it.

I have absolutely no idea what to do next. Well that is not exactly true. Here is my list of what I am going to do in the immediate future:
  • Clean out mail closet
  • Set up a new home page
  • Figure out a new theme for this blog (if needed)
  • Finish any Christmas shopping
  • Mail gifts.

But as for the book, other than finishing it and letting it ferment, I don't know what to do after that. What do I do next with 50,000 plus words? I suspect I will be (along with every other Nanowrimo winner) going to the library to search for books on editing. I believe I have a long road ahead of me but the journey looks interesting. Thanks for hanging in here with me.

Likelihood of Finishing Nanowrimo: 100%. I am done! Yay!

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Recycling in Portland

Shauna, looking at clear plastic tray from Newman-O's Organic chocolate sandwich cookies, "Do they take #8 here?"

Court: "Yeah, yeah."

Bob: "Just let God sort it out."

This conversation was followed by caroling at Paul's house but sadly, he was not home. We did, however, make a video which I am sure will soon be on You Tube. It is good to spend time with old friends.

p.s. A shout out to Jean MacDonald who is getting an RSS feed from this blog on her sweet iPhone.

p.p.s. W - you should read Jean's post.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Day 27: Nanowrimo

Nanowrimo

Words written so far: 45,136

Impressions: I told a friend that I had written more dialogue than description and she asked what I liked to read. I thought about it and realized I like to read dialogue. A little description is nice but too much of it bores me. There are exceptions, of course, but generally I like things to happen and equate dialogue with action.

With less than 5K words to go, I am feeling a little bit like I am running out of things to say. I have grown out of the outline I wrote at the beginning of Nanowrimo and I am struggling to tie up all the loose ends. I am still not sure what I am going to do with all the bad guys. I already ruined their company. What else is left? :)

Likelihood of Finishing Nanowrimo: 100%. Only 4,864 words to go.

Happy Birthday Creation Halt!

Year One

Today is my blog's birthday. Creation Halt is O-N-E. How do you celebrate the birthday of a blog? I created this blog around the holidays last year in order to come to terms with all the stuff in my life and stuff that was likely going to come into my life (and my kid's lives). During this past year, I have worked hard to get my "stuff" into some sort of reasonable order. I have given lots away to friends, given some away to Goodwill, recycled a lot of paper, and the list goes on. This blog has provided me with a "non-stuff creating" creative outlet, a place to bounce ideas off my readers and a way to keep me honest. It has also been a vehicle for me to learn a new skill (blogging) and to participate in NaBloPoMo.


A big thank you goes out to all my readers (all 3 or 4 of you). :)
A special thanks goes out to anyone who has ever posted a comment or linked to me. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Year Two
As I move into year two of this blog, I need to think about what my focus will be. I know I enjoy reading blogs that have a focus. Here is a question for all of you readers...what do you want to read about? I know that M has requested more "dooce-esque" type stories and I will try to capture those when they happen (but they don't happen every day). More sustainability? More novel writing? How about the novel editing process? What else? I'd love to hear from all of you. You can help guide this second year.

Thanks again!

Saving Grandma Kate's Needlepoint

Well, I am finally giving up...in a sense and replacing Grandma Kate's needlepoint on our dining room chairs with something much easier to clean. It feels like in the past 2 months there have been several near catastrophic spills by my children. It seems crazy to put these pieces of history at such risk. I have been resistant to doing this and I don't know why. I do know that it makes me smile when I see the needlepoint and I will miss it. But the replacement is just temporary. In a few years, the kids will be at a place where we can bring them back.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Day 26: Nanowrimo

Nanowrimo

Words written so far: 43,669

Impressions: According to Wikipedia, a novel is between 50,000 and 75,000 words so if I can make it past 50,000, I should be fine. I am nearing the end but am already starting to think about what I will do with my time after Nanowrimo is finished. There are things I have been procrastinating that will need to get done in early December. I am ready for a change of pace.

Tonight's writing was a little bland but told an interesting story. The problem is, I don't feel like the entire story is related - I feel like I have snippets of small stories. I realized today that even though I said I was writing a cyberpunk novel, the main character doesn't support that. I would need to change her or fit it into a different genre. Weird!

Likelihood of Finishing Nanowrimo: 100%. Only 6,331 words to go.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Days 24 and 25: Nanowrimo

Nanowrimo

Words written so far: 41,822

Impressions: I swear, after Nanowrimo is finished (only 5 more writing days) I will only mention my novel in passing! (At least until Nanoedmo - National Novel Editing Month).

Yesterday, thanks to John and Babs, I took a well deserved day off of writing. We had a lovely dinner (see previous post about green beans) and I just didn't feel like writing when they left. I caught up during my kid's nap time today and then busted out more words tonight. I feel that I am getting closer to the end of my story. I am starting to tie up loose ends. I worry that it doesn't all fit togther but I am ok with that for now.

I realized today that there is virtually no description - of people or characters, in my novel. It is just about what is happening in the story. Is that ok? I have no idea. I guess we shall have to see if editing this unweildy thing bears more description.

I have heard that 50,000 words is not "technically" a novel, that it is more like a novella. Hmmm...I need to understand more about that.

Likelihood of Finishing Nanowrimo: 100%. Only 8,178 words to go.

NaPoBloMo update: Even though I missed on day, (see previos post about getting locked out of the house), I have blogged every other day in the month of November - some days even more than once. I still consider myself a winner on the blogging front. And I am coming up on my 1 year blog anniversary!

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Too many green beans?

We had a huge bag of green beans which didn't get used for Thanksgiving. I wanted to make something different to serve with the Chicken and Dumplings I was making. I searched on "roasted green beans" and came up with this recipe. I made it tonight and it was delicious! And that huge bag of green beans was not too many. We only had a few left over at the end of the night. Yum.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Days 22 and 23: Nanowrimo

Nanowrimo

Words written so far: 39,225

Impressions: I did write very much yesterday and I did not want to write tonight. I wasn't feeling particularly inspired. But I sat down and decided to try to write something fun or exciting. I ended up writing a scene where a good gal and a bad guy break a woman in a coma, a little girl and a spirit out of confinement. It ended up being a really cool writing session. In total I wrote 3,173 words today which is my personal record for Nanowrimo. (I did have to catch up from not finishing my writing yesterday but today's word count still puts me ahead of my daily goal.)

Likelihood of Finishing Nanowrimo: 100%. Only 10,775 words to go! Wahoo!

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Why I am Thankful...

Put simply, I have a great life. To enumerate, I have a wonderful guy, super cute kids who are very much their own little beings, a loving family, awesome friends, a cool job, super-nice co-workers, and I could go on and on. I am thankful for all of you.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Day 21: Nanowrimo

Nanowrimo

Words written so far: 35,032

Impressions: I think I am starting to get "Nanowrimo wrists". This is something like "tennis elbow" or "Wii shoulder". Both wrists are really hurting. I am hoping that I am just having a bad random day today and that it is not something that will trouble me for the next 9 days. If I feel this bad tomorrow, I may have to take a day off.

I feel like the Main Character of the book has bounced around a bit. In the beginning it was one person and then it changed to be that person's mother. In a way, I feel like I have abandoned my other characters to follow the path of the mother. I am not sure if this is good or bad. I am looking forward to December 1, 2007 when I can read the entire thing in one sitting. I have not done this. The only thing I read is when I sit down to write I read the last paragraph of the previous day's writing.

Interesting writing tonight. Some surprising things happened. For me, writing is like reading a book, I never know what will happen!

Likelihood of Finishing Nanowrimo: 100%. I added a counter to the top of this page to count down to 0 more words to go to get to 50,000.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Day 20: Nanowrimo

Nanowrimo

Words written so far: 33.466 total.

Impressions: I am sorry if I am boring everyone by focusing on Nanowrimo. I thought that Nanowrimo would be a good excuse to get me blogging more. I am trying to mix it up a little though. And hey, November is almost done so I won't have Nanowrimo to keep writing about. Thank you for bearing with me. (That last line sounds really strange and I have no idea what it means or if I have even spelled it right. I mean, is it like we are bearing children together? If anyone out there knows, tell me!)

Story tonight was tempered by an excellent Margarita at a local Mexican restaurant called Autentica. Yummy.

Likelihood of finishing NaNoWriMo: 100%. Only 16,534 words to go...

Day 19: Nanowrimo

Nanowrimo

Words written so far: 31,747 total.

Impressions: One thing I don't like about Nanowrimo is there is no incubation time. When you are writing to a deadline every single day, there is no time to let ideas take root, grow or even ferment. But that isn't really the point of Nanowrimo is it? I think the points are to a) set an awesome goal and do it and b) get into the habit of writing every day. Now, I don't think that I can keep this pace up indefinitely. In fact, I may only be able to keep this up for say another 10 days or so. I am writing 1.5 - 2 hours a day (this includes working on the novel, writing these posts plus posting on the Nanowrimo website). This is precious, precious time. I do like my novel and I am thinking it may even be something worth publishing. But when this challenge is over, I am going to add some incubation time into my writing schedule. And when I am done with writing, it will be time for editing. I think I will wait till after the holidays for that!

Oh, and last night was terrible! I was so tired that I am not even sure I made sense. I am not letting myself re-read anything because I don't want to go down an editing hole. I can only hope it is worth keeping.

Likelihood of finishing NaNoWriMo: 100%. Only 18,353 words to go...

Monday, November 19, 2007

Movie Star --- Pass

Today I was the focus of a video shoot from 9:30 am to 4:15 pm. It was really fun in that I got to talk about all the parts of my job that I love. The only problem? It was incredibly exhausting. I am not sure I can write my Nanowrimo words tonight. I will have to see how I feel after I put R to bed. And this whole movie star business (not that they are asking...)? I think I will pass.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Days 17 & 18: Nanowrimo

Nanowrimo

Words written so far: 30,508 total. You know that silly dance that may or may not be called "churning butter"? I am doing that one in my head right now!

Impressions: The interesting ideas of the 16th have paid off. I had a really fun day of writing today. Actually, truth be told, I was on FIRE. I read two different Nanowrimo pep talks today and they did help. They helped me realize that if I could just get to 30K, everything would fall into place. They reminded me to keep writing and more importantly, as I have written here before, to write things I am interested in. Today I wrote about all sorts of crazy stuff some of which you can read here.

Likelihood of finishing NaNoWriMo: 100%. They say after 35K, it is a downhill slide (in a good way). I feel good about this and where the story is going. It is not dead ending like I keep thinking it will and is keeping my interest.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Hippie Tie Dye Boy

One of the twins, G, only wants to wear tie dye shirts. He is very opinionated (at almost 2 years old) and is very clear about what shirt he wants to wear each day. It is a tragedy if his shirt gets wet or dirty during the day because he is loath to give it up.

Yesterday he wanted to try on his sister's skirt (yikes). There he was in his tie dye shirt, wearing a skirt and so I said to him, "when you get older are you going to be a hippie?"

He shook his head yes and said, "Ya."

Oregon Country Fair here we come!

Friday, November 16, 2007

Day 16: Nanowrimo

Nanowrimo

Words written so far: 26,848 total.

Impressions: I wrote the words tonight that I needed to stay on track but I don't think they were particularly good ones. I did come up with some interesting ideas for the story. Hopefully I can make something good come of them.

Likelihood of finishing NaNoWriMo: I am very tired. It is hard to say today.

Why, oh why?

Am I having an allergy attack today? I feel terrible! I hope the nettles / nettle tea kicks in quick! It will be hard to write feeling this way...

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Day 15: Nanowrimo

Nanowrimo

Words written so far: 25,238 total.

Impressions: Hooray! I passed the 25K mark. Only 25K more to go. Gulp. I am still enjoying my story. I have definitely been using the tips of other writers. One that I am using is the idea that if you are not enjoying what you are writing, start writing about something else. Instead of trying to write my way out of a corner, I go to a new room. It is keeping things fresh for me. I have slowed down my creation of new characters which is good (less people and spirits to keep track of). A big rescue is in the planning stages by my characters but I don't think they will get to it for a couple of days (meaning I won't write about it for a couple of days).

I told W about one of the scenes in the book and he was horrified. He was all like, "The bad guys are doing that to the good guys? You know I only like books with happy endings." Don't worry, I don't think I could write something that didn't have a happy ending (or at least a satisfying conclusion).

Stumbled across a short story by Charles de Lint that I had never read before. He is extremely inspiring.

Likelihood of finishing NaNoWriMo: I am only halfway done which is both amazing and sobering. I have had a good run of writing and my plan is to keep it up.

25K

Yahoo! I just passed the 25,000 word mark (25,019 to be exact at this particular moment). And right on schedule because it is November 15th. I am happy and I just wanted to share. More to come.

Days 12, 13, 14: Nanowrimo

I haven't charted my progress in a few days but I am still in the Nanowrimo game. Sadly, I am no longer in the NaBloPoMo game but that is another story.

Nanowrimo

Words written so far: 23,506 total. OK - I am color coding this orange because I am ahead of my goal but behind on my super goal.

Impressions: On Tuesday, I took the day off and didn't write at all. Because I was ahead, missing a day didn't impact my progress. I had my best ever session of writing last night. I wrote 2,802 words and they weren't all crap! In fact, I posted a new excerpt on my profile on Nanowrimo. You can see it here. The writing is not great. Basically, I am just trying to get my story on paper and then after I finish, I will go back and make it great. That is the plan, anyway.

Likelihood of finishing NaNoWriMo: Before last night I was feeling unsure about my ability to finish. After my session last night, I am feeling optimistic. I will finish. I want to know what happens in the story!

Likelihood of finishing NaBloPoMo: I already lost. See above. I will no longer be including this statistic.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

LOST NaBloPoMo

Well, it is over. I lost NaBloPoMo. Last night I went out to a fun event (Velvet, Votes & Vino) and afterward to a fun dinner. I got home around 11:20 with plenty of time to post (and I was thinking of posting). I walked up to the door and...it was locked. I am always trying to minimize what I carry with me when I go out and I have a bad habit of not taking the house keys. I knocked on the door but there was no answer. I threw shoes at our windows but there was no answer. I called our phone and W's cell phone repeatedly but there was no answer. I banged on the door (risking waking up our children) but there was no answer.

After about a half hour of trying to wake W (or my children) I went to a nearby lodge to see if there was room but there wasn't. It was REALLY cold last night and I was not looking forward to sleeping in the car. I went back to the house and tried calling and banging on the door again. At that point I was pretty much panicking (both at the prospect of sleeping in my car and losing NaBloPoMo) and randomly calling friends (none of whom answered). I tried to make myself comfortable in the car and called the house one last time. W finally answer and let me in but it was too late - it was after midnight.

I know, it is totally my fault. I take responsibility for not taking my keys and for not putting some random post up yesterday. But I am also really disappointed, too. Darn.

Clutter Battles - Part 9 - The coat closet

The bad news is, we didn't take "before" photos. It would have made a much better story! But alas, you will just have to take my word for it that our coat closet was a terrible mess. It was filled with things that shouldn't have been in there (like a window fan, an entire bag of outgrown outerwear, ski bib, etc). Today was my lucky day. Today was the day when Beth Meridith of Living Spaces Design came to my house to help me organize the coat closet. Thanks again to Brooke and Bob for getting me this time with her for my birthday!

Below are after photos. They are different shots of our teeny, tiny coat closet. One of the most important differences from how it looked before is that we took the door off. That alone gives us more room which we desperately needed.













Figure 1 Figure 2 Figure 3 Figure 4











Figure 5


Figure 1 = Looking into the teeny, tiny closet.

Figure 2 = Bottom of our coats plus our shoes. You can see a shoe sorter on ther right hand side which is where we keep hats, gloves, scarves.

Figure 3 = Top of our coats plus a little storage up above. We have some rain boots, summer hats and some tarps for the park.

Figure 4 = Left hand side of closet on bottom - just hooks for kids jackets. Basket on bottom holds twin's hats, gloves and rain pants.

Figure 5 = Left hand side of closet on top - hooks for cloth bags, diaper bag and W's backpack.

I really like the end result. But the real test is will be be able to keep it neat? I should take another set of photos in a week to compare. Fun stuff. After one day it is still looking good. Yay!

Monday, November 12, 2007

Social Networking Explosion

W: Dave just got a new job. It is more secure and just got Class A funding.

Me: WTF - I just got an invitation from a guy named "David" inviting me to join something called "Plaxo" (what a horrible name). It turns out it is Dave and he wants me to join and then yesterday I got an invitation from Eric to join "Plaxo" as well. Is that all they do - join social networking sites? Who has time for that?

W: Yes. And if you are having trouble managing your subscriptions, I have a social network management tool and I can send you an invitation.

Me: That is funny. I should blog about this.

W: It could be your blog post for the day.

And it is...

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Day 11: Nanowrimo (and NaBloPoMo)

Nanowrimo

Words written so far: 19,198 total. Ok - I am color coding this orange because I am ahead of my goal but not quite at my super goal. But I am tired and am going to sleep.

Impressions: I really liked the writing advice in the Nanowrimo pep talk of the week by Naomi Novik. Here is my favorite part of the pep talk and the one I have been using the past two days, "If you're finding a scene boring to write, cut it and skip to the good part. Set something on fire. Have zombies attack." Now I haven't set anything on fire or had zombies attach but I have definitely been skipping to the good parts.

I may be thinking far too much about my story (or perhaps not enough) because I keep trying to find ways to bring it back around. What I suspect is that I have created far too many non-essential characters that I now have to a) deal with and b) figure out something for them all to do. I remember doing this the last time I did Nanowrimo in 2004. At the end of my 50K words, I had like 40 characters which is far too many to keep track of (by me or the readers). I need to be very intentional about adding characters.

My story is very "good guys vs. bad guys". The problem is, the bad guys are generally faceless and nameless (big corporations). This is a problem because you want to get to know your bad guy for them to be realistic. However, this, of course, goes against my point above about creating too many characters. Another quandary to work my way out of.

Likelihood of finishing NaNoWriMo: I am still going strong but I am finding it harder and harder to stay with my story. I need to let my characters take me where they want to go and not worry so much (for this draft anyway) about tying things together. 100%.

Likelihood of finishing NaBloPoMo: I am still in the game.

Day 10: Nanowrimo (and NaBloPoMo)

NaNoWriMo - Progress report for yesterday, November 10, 2007

My words written so far: 17,901 total.

Impressions: I don't like doing the progress report for yesterday, today. It is disconcerting and I can't really remember what my impressions are! I think I am going back to the old way of doing it. It really doesn't save me any time either way. Yesterday's writing was ok. It was mostly done in a coffee shop but a little was also done while trying to direct a gluing project for two 4 year olds. Needless to say, I couldn't concentrate very well!

Likelihood of finishing NaNoWriMo: 100%. But I have to say drinking two beers before trying to write is probably not a good thing to do all the time.

Likelihood of finishing NaBloPoMo: 100%.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Day 9: Nanowrimo (and NaBloPoMo)

NaNoWriMo - Progress report for yesterday, November 9, 2007

My words written so far: 16,378 total. I am back on track with my Super Goal of finishing two days early.

Impressions: Dogs barking at each other freak me out. I say this because I am in a "dog-friendly" coffee shop right now and there are a lot of dogs here. They keep having little tiffs and it is freaking me out. I don't have a dog so I think they are going to hurt each other. It is a little unsettling.

Back to my impressions of NaNoWriMo and NaBloPoMo...I got back on track writing last night. I was so tired I didn't think it was going to happen but it did. I actually got into a really nice groove and felt good enough about the story to post an excerpt on my NaNoWriMo page. Check it out and tell me if you don't just hate the characters! (You are supposed to!)

So I feel good; even in this dog heavy coffee shop. And I am just getting ready to start Chapter 6. Last night I was able to weave the story back around and now I am going to do more of that. I am going to visit back with some of my original characters. The question is, if an Augmentor dies, does the part that split off from him or her, the spirit part, die, too? If you have a thought, let me know. I think it is one of those crucial pivots to the story that I just don't have an instinct for.

Likelihood of finishing NaNoWriMo: 100%. Can you tell I got a decent night's sleep?

Likelihood of finishing NaBloPoMo: 100%.

Now, back to writing. If you are reading this, let me know!!!

Friday, November 9, 2007

Day 8: Nanowrimo (and NaBloPoMo)

You may be wondering why I am writing about Day 8 on what is technically Day 9. Well, last night I was thinking that I would get to bed a little earlier and post this today. But the day has gone by and now I am needed to actually work on my book and I have this hanging over my head. Hmmm...not sure what is a better way to do things. I guess I will have to wait to see how I feel tonight.

Day 8 words written: 13,767 total. This is above my normal day's goal but below my super goal. I am leaving it black.

Impressions: I figured a way out of my dilemma of characters who couldn't speak to each other. That was fun. Now I need to work on pulling all the parts of the story together. Because I created an outline before I started writing, and I have been writing to the outline, I have more like a series of short stories right now. They are all vaguely related but I need to tie them all together.

Writing is hard work and at the same time it is easy. I want to go back and edit but I know now is not the time for that. As I read over what I have written, I see so much room for improvement. And yet, I like what I am writing. I guess my question is...how bad does a story need to be to abandon it? Or how good does a story need to be to pursue it?

It is easy because once you turn it on, it just flows out (on a good day). I never know what is going to happen!

Likelihood of finishing NaNoWriMo: 0% unless I can get healthy. Otherwise I may not have the energy.

Likelihood of finishing NaBloPoMo: ditto.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Taking Challenges Seriously

While I realize that NaNoWriMo and NaBloPoMo are voluntary challenges, I still had to make a commitment to fulfilling the challenges. I take these challenges very seriously. NaNoWriMo is more forgiving than NaBloPoMo. If I miss a day, I just have to make it up another day as long as at the end of 30 days, I have written 50,000 words. NaBloPoMo is a different sort of challenge. It challenges you to write a blog post every day. I fear that I won't be able to meet this challenge. I fear I will fall asleep with my sick son and miss posting. I fear I will fall prey to Blogger's silly pre-post dating. I fear that I won't fulfill the challenge.

What I don't understand, is why I can't take other challenges as seriously. For example, I have an excellent reason to lose some weight right now. I am going to be filmed in 10 days. Why am I not pulling out all the stops to a) not eat and b) exercise more? I don't know. That challenge is much harder than NaNoWriMo and NaBloPoMo combined. How weird is that?

My throat is hurting and I am tired. I am not sure I will write for NaNoWriMo tonight. But that is OK because I am still ahead. I will definitely not post my progress tonight. I will give myself a break and do that tomorrow.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Day 7: Nanowrimo (and NaBloPoMo)

Nanowrimo

Total words written: 12,691 total words

Impressions: Another day of strange writing. Today I was writing a scene in which the two main characters couldn't hear each other. They had to make lots of gestures and try to read each other's lips. How do I write myself into these crazy corners? The story is still flowing but I am less optimistic about it than I was the first few days. I keep trying to convince myself that it will get better with editing (which I don't have time to do). Having never written a published book before, I am curious about the process. I mean, how good does your first draft have to be? My novel from Nanowrimo 2004 was crap with a few interesting ideas in it. It was not worth any editing (even though I did attempt it). This story seems to be worthy. I guess we shall see if I can tie everything up in the end. I am introducing characters like crazy which is making me nervous. I had to create a "character descriptions" file to keep track of everyone! I am happy that I just popped over the 12,500 word bar. Yay!

Likelihood of finishing Nanowrimo: 100%. I am still motivated.

Likelihood of finishing NaBloPoMo: 100%. Although I may change the way I post about Nanowrimo and leave those posts till mornings (thus allowing me to go to sleep earlier).

Super goal: End up with a decent first draft that is worth all the work of editing.

Kids Yoga Game

Today I thought up a game to play with my man and kids. Our kids already know a few yoga poses. Wouldn't it be fun to teach them so more and then when someone shouted out the name of a pose, everyone would have to do it? It would help me do more yoga and it probably be good for the kids to be "in control" some of the time. I am sure there would be limits like "no yoga during meals". I am looking forward to trying it.

p.s. You could also do this using yoga cards. Each person could just pull a card and then everyone would have to do the pose on the card.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Day 6: Nanowrimo (and NaBloPoMo)

NaNoWriMo

Today's goal / alternative "finish early" goal: 10,000 / 10,714
My total words written: 10, 847 words total.

Impressions: Yahoo! I made it past the 10K mark. I am over 1/5 done! Yahoo! I am so tired today that I wasn't sure I even had the energy to write. When I looked to see how much I needed to write to stay on track, I realized it wasn't that much. I decided to just go for it. I am glad I did as I got some pretty cool concepts on paper, er, I mean into the computer.

Because I have a day job, a cool man and 3 small kids, the only time I can work on this is when the kids are all asleep at night. The problem with that that I am always leaving the writing until late at night. I remember reading an interview with Charles de Lint and he was talking about writing and said he had a page goal every day and couldn't go to sleep until he finished it. He talked about if he wrote in the morning, he would be done! I'd like to do that but so far it hasn't happened yet.

Last night on the website I saw that Chris Baty had done a writing exercize which looked cool. Here is what he wrote: "Borrowing a question from one of Tavia's Young Writers Program exercises. Namely: What do each of my characters want more than anything else in the world?" I thought about this question during the day and couldn't come up with a single thing my main character wanted. I realized I didn't know her very well!

Likelihood of finishing NaNoWriMo: 100% because I am still on track.
Likelihood of finishing NaBloPoMo: and going...

Is anyone out there reading this??? Please let me know. I have never blogged this much in my life and I feel like I am blogging into a black hole!

Monday, November 5, 2007

Day 5: Nanowrimo (and NaBloPoMo)

Nanowrimo

Daily goal / alternative "finish early" goal: 1,667 / 1,786 words
Today's goal / alternate "finish early" goal: 8,333 / 8,929 words total

My total words written: 9,812 words total (I so wanted to get to 10K tonight but I am just too dang tired.)

Impressions: What a difficult writing day! I was on fire yesterday. Today, not so much. I didn't like where the story headed today. I am hoping that I will be able to pull it out of it's current direction tomorrow.
You may have noticed that I have an "alternative "finish early" goal". This is how many words I have to write if I want to finish in 28 days instead of 30. I figure it is a little bit of insurance against a day when I might want to skip writing.
I also have a spreadsheet that I have created to chart my progress. What can I say? I have an engineering degree!

Likelihood of finishing NaNoWriMo: 100% only because I am still on track but honestly

I am too tired to think about it right now.
Likelihood of finishing NaBloPoMo: Still going...

Super Goal: Same as yesterday...help our whole family get healthy.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Day 4: Nanowrimo (and NaBloPoMo)

Nanowrimo


Daily goal / alternate "finish early" goal: 1,667 / 1,786 words


Today's goal / alternate "finish early" goal: 6,666 / 7,143 words total


My total words written: 7,753 words total (What do you think of the color coding?)


Impressions: I like this story. It isn't particularly a new story...but what story is? I think I have figured out a plot although I am not sure how the prologue I wrote fits in to the current storyline. Either I am going to have to come up with a link or I am going to have to write it off (pun intended) as a warm up exercise.

I am having serious issues which I am not addressing right now. They are in the areas of consistency of voice and dialogue. I am not a regular writer so to some extent, I don't know how to a) choose a voice and b) do non sucky dialogue. Will writing a lot help? Or do I need to focus on learning how to do these things? Since I have no time to learn (only time to write and blog) I will have to hope it is the former and not the latter. I will leave these problems until NaNoEdMo (or perhaps sooner) unless anyone has any great ideas they want to share.

Is there anything anyone out there would like to know about this experience? Just post a comment and I will reply to your post.

Likelihood of finishing Nanowrimo: 100%.


Likelihood of finishing NaBloPomo: I am still going strong (can you say that if you are just on day 4 of 30 days?).


Super Goal: Help our whole family get healthy!!!

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Day 3: Nanowrimo (and NaBloPoMo)

Nanowrimo

Daily Goal: 1,667 words

Today's goal: 5,000 words total

My total words written: 5,651 words total

Impressions: Carving out time to write on a weekend when I knew I was going out was difficult. I managed to get 1,400 words written before we went out. I was definitely getting stuck with my plot today. There was a big show down in my story and I am stuck on the explanation. Is it all because of greed? Is it because someone wants to save the world? (Save the world, save the cheerleader). I have to make some decisions in the next few paragraphs as to where this book is going. How trippy is that?

Likelihood of finishing Nanowrimo: 100%. Still going strong and I am interested in my words. I think that is a good sign.

Likelihood of finishing NaBloPomo: I figure it is either 0% or 100%. If I miss just one day, I automatically go to 0%. I had a scare tonight because I thought I would be out too late to make a post. (No J&D - that is not why we left earlier than you - we really were tired!) I think I have to plan better.

Super Goal: No super goals to report today.

Friday, November 2, 2007

Day 2: Nanowrimo

Nanowrimo

Daily Goal: 1,667 words

Today's goal: 3,333 words total

My total words written: 3,923 words total

Impressions: W and I are both on target today. I wrote a little this afternoon and finished up this evening. I am hoping that I won't experience "Nanowrimo insomnia" again today. I realize that I have a lot of energy and feel very creative. I am loving it. I'd like to get the small Nanowrimo logo for these posts but I haven't found the time yet. Imagine that!

Likelihood of finishing: 100%. I am on target and still optimistic. I am sure there will be a dark night(s) of the soul but that won't be for a few weeks.

Super Goal: I have surpassed my super goal of 3,571 words today. I want to bank enough words so that I can take a day off here or there.

Super secret admission: I am a glutton for punishment. I joined NaBloPoMo today. Hey - I was going to do it anyway to track my progress!

Nanowrimo Insomnia

I forgot about one danger of writing just before bed; nanowrimo induced insomnia. Instead of falling into an effortless sleep, I am thinking about how my story is unfolding. Thinking things like this, "taser / sword combo" and "observers can "chat" mind to mind offline". I may have to write earlier in the day to give my brain a chance to calm down.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Day 1: Nanowrimo

Nanowrimo

Goal: 1,667 words (per day)

Progress: 1,774 words.

Impressions: As usual, my writing has taken off in a direction I wasn't expecting. I said I was going to write a cyberpunk novel but now I don't know what it is...cyberpunk? Sci-fi? Fantasy? A combination of all three with spirituality mixed in? I have to remind myself to write a book that I want to read, to write about characters I want to know. It is hard to rein in the writing beast sometimes. I also have to remind myself to just write, write, write! Editing comes later. W wrote over 2,000 words today! Yahoo! Go W!

Likelihood of finishing: 100%. OK, just kidding! Who can say on the first day? I met my goal today which puts me in an optimistic mood. We shall see how the coming days go...I remember Thanksgiving being a pain to work around when I did Nanowrimo the first time and had only one kid. Now I have 3. Gulp.

Super Goal: Bank enough words that I don't need to write on Thanksgiving or the day after Thanksgiving (so I can shop - JUST KIDDING). This would move my goal to 1,785 words per day.

Just wait - soon I will break out the graphing tools. Yeah!

Are you doing Nanowrimo this year? How are you doing?

Super secret admission: I just decided to do this yesterday. What was I thinking???

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

National Novel Writing Month 2007

Dude. You so need to do this. You need to write 50,000 words in the month of November. I did it before. In 2004. Never mind the quality of those 50K words. (No, really. Don't ask -- all I can tell you is that there were technical incompatibilities between Pump-In-Style and Dragon Naturally Speaking.) You too can write a novel! All you need to do is write 1,666.66666 words per day! It is easy! I am going to do this. Are you?

I am planning to write a cyberpunk novel. You?

Monday, October 29, 2007

"Googley Famous"

"Googley Famous" is a term I coined tonight. Googley famous is an adjective. It means that someone is famous according to the top 10 matches in a Google Search. Here is an example, if you Google the name "William Hertling", you come up with 9 hits for the specific person I was trying to Google and 1 hit for the person's father. It can also be a differentiator between hits on a Google search. So using the example above, the person I was trying to Google is more googley famous than his father. When I first started Googling my own name (hey, I know it is narcissistic but who hasn't done it? especially if you are reading a blog?), I was not the most googley famous person with my name. Over the years, as I have gotten more and more press, more of the top 10 Google hits are attributed to me. Now, I am the most googley famous person with my name.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Book Review: Ysabel

Once in a while W and I will got to Powell's Books to browse the stacks and look for interesting books which we text message to ourselves. Back at home, we order them from our awesome library. There are certain authors that I always check (primarily in the Sci-Fi section) and I am very happy to find new books. On our last trip, a few months ago, we found many new books to read. One book I came across is by an author that I really like to read named Guy Gavriel Kay. I especially enjoyed "The Fionavar Tapestry" which was a series of books involving both travel to distant planets and Celtic myth. When I saw that he had a new book, Ysabel, I got very excited. I eagerly awaited receiving it from the library and I was not disappointed. The book pulled me in form the first few pages. It is the story of two teenagers in modern day France who stumble on to a mystery. In some ways it reminded me of The Da Vinci Code but in others it resembled Kay's previous work, "The Fionavar Tapestry", with a weaving of Celtic myth.

I could not put this book down and I kept waiting for it to go all wrong the way books do sometimes. But it never did. It captured me and kept me intrigued until the very last page. I loved it and consider it the best book I have read all year. Check it out!

Monday, October 15, 2007

Blog Action Day 2007

Blogging has not been my top priority for the past few weeks. My mom was in town (Hi Mom!) and so extra time was spent sewing my 4 year old daughter a gold lame dress (don't ask) and playing lots and lots of scrabble. I apologize if you have come to my blog and not seen anything new. I am back!

Today's blog post has a special topic. The topic is the environment. As part of Blog Action Day 2007, I am making it a priority to talk about the environment today. I have been working in the area of the environment for over 7 years. I have seen it change dramatically in that time. When I first started working to green printers in my high tech company, the environment was a sideshow. And I don't mean that in a nice way. It was the ugly duckling, the kid on the playground no one wanted to talk to. It was filled with fiery-eyed yuppie environmentalists and old school hippies. It was so not cool.

But the past 7 years have wrought a change on the world that I am surprised and happy to witness. Instead of being the ugly duckling, the environmental movement is just showing signs of transforming into a swan. It isn't there yet and amongst it's graceful steps there are still trips and falls. But the change is dramatic. Could you have imagined 7 years ago that Al Gore would win the Nobel Peace Prize? Could you have imagined giant Wal-Mart creating their own sustainability program for their employees?
Could you have imagined Arnold Schwarzenegger saying OK to a ban on phthalates in children's products ? Could you have imagined environmental heroes like Leonardo DiCaprio or Brad Pitt ?

The world is changing. Are you changing with it? Do you even know what you need to do to live more sustainably? There are many, many, many "top things you can do to green your life" kinds of lists out there. You can also get daily green tips or daily green news here or here. A fun thing you can do with friends or in your workplace or place of worship is to take a Northwest Earth Institute class. These are discussion courses that gently educate you on how to be more earth friendly.

What step are you going to take today? I challenge you to do one thing today to make the world a better place or to reduce your impact on the world. What you do is up to you.

Bloggers Unite - Blog Action Day

Friday, September 21, 2007

Clutter Battles - Part 8

Some day I believe that I will let go of my "clutter battles" and move on to different topics. However, reporting here in my blog is keeping me on track. For anyone reading this - I appreciate your support!

Things out of the house:
Big steamer trunk
1 bag assorted computer equipment to Free Geek
1 pottery vase
2 pottery bowls
5 paintings
1 bag of baby clothes and baby toys
Half a box of books to Powell's

Things waiting to go out:
1 bag nice kids clothes
2 pottery bowls
2 pottery vases
~ 10 paintings
Clothes to Full Circle Consignment
1 bag plus some books to Goodwill

Things to go through:
Lots of books
Clothes that don't fit me
Lots of boxes of paper (?!?!)

Things / Places to organize:
Garage
Art supplies in playroom (K started doing this - thank you K!)

Things I don't know what to do with:
My art (although I have started giving it away to friends and family)

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Clutter Battles - a boost

Thank you B & B for giving me the ability to utilize the services of Kathie England, personal organizer! I wrote about her in several previous posts. Many of the surplus material goods are out of the house but what I am left with is mostly paper. Let me rephrase that and say, "paper - the bane of my existence". (Do I really need my second grade standardized test scores? I think not.) In some ways I want to wait until I make some more progress getting material things out so I can focus on the paper but I know myself and what I need to do is to call her ASAP so that I can get on her schedule. Knowing I have a meeting on the books will spur me to action. But realistically, I will take a week to mentally prepare to start working on the "paper project".

Thanks again!

Friday, September 7, 2007

Dark, Important and Dangerous

Have you ever played the fortune cookie game (see popular culture section)? It is where you read your fortune cookie aloud and add the words, "in bed" at the end. Here are a few examples:

* "A secret admirer will soon send you a sign of affection" would read "A secret admirer will soon send you a sign of affection in bed"

* "Love is for the lucky and the brave" would read "Love is for the lucky and the brave in bed"."

Of course it doesn't always work but it can be amusing. Last week we played the super fun game Apples to Apples. In the game you need to match the nouns in your hand to the adjective card on the table. At the end of the game, assuming you won some hands, you end up with some adjective cards. We decided to say that these adjectives described us. So according to that, I am "dark, important and dangerous". I felt bad for the person who got "lumpy" (sorry Nicole!).

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Clutter Battles - Part 7 An Update

The progress continues and we are amazed at how clean and open our basement looks. Here is an update on the variety of things I have been dealing with.

Things I have gotten out of our house:
1 violin
1 large keyboard, stand and chair (lent out)
1 printer
1 book
1 Package w/3 books, shirt, sunglasses
2 bags shredded material
1 small bag of diaper covers
1 small bag of waffle style baby blankets
4 bags to Joanna
3 bags to Goodwill
1 CD

My new total of things out of the house is 60 "grocery bag units". And we are not done!!! All I can say is this has been really fun once we got going. We definitely have momentum. I will need all the momentum I can get to go through all the remaining paper which is the bulk of what is left.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Clutter Battles - One Piece of Paper at a Time

Lost

Stand still. The trees ahead and bushes beside you
Are not lost. Wherever you are is called Here,
And you must treat it as a powerful stranger,
Must ask permission to know it and be known.
The forest breathes. Listen. It answers,
I have made this place around you.
If you leave it, you may come back again, saying Here.
No two trees are the same to Raven.
No two branches are the same to Wren.
If what a tree or a bush does is lost on you,
You are surely lost. Stand still. The forest knows
Where you are. You must let it find you.

David Wagoner
copyright 1976

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Ok. Now I can recycle that piece of paper. :)

Monday, August 20, 2007

Clutter Battles - Part 6 Back to the Garage

In addition to all the work we have been doing in the basement (more to come soon on that) on Saturday, we spent 1 hour in the garage sorting and purging tools. We set everything out on the ground and put like items with like items. We purged a whole box of tools that were duplicates or just didn't work very well. What we were left with, we sorted into three categories: everyday tools, woodworking tools and all the rest. The everyday tools went into the top, removable section of the tool box. The woodworking tools went in the bottom of the tool box and the rest were just put back in a cardboard box. We struggled with what to do with the other category. For now we are going to get small containers (shoe box size) to sort the other tools into. I am still not convinced this is the right way to go but we can try it and see. I have vague recollections of my dad's peg board with outlines drawn where the tools were supposed to go. This may be a better way. Only time will tell. It felt great to make some progress on the garage. Thanks to W for helping do the work!

p.s. the more I think about it the more I think that the small boxes are a bad solution. I need to talk it over with W.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Clutter Battles - Part 5

I cannot believe I am on "Part 5" of this topic. It is more like being on "Part 5" of a long, long journey. Stuff has continued to fly out of our house at an amazing rate. This includes:

* 2 baby bouncy seats
* 1 bag of maternity clothes and supplies to a friend
* 1 Baby Bjorn baby carrier
* 2 boxes mailed to people (I should have mailed the stuff long ago (whew!))
* 7 bags of shredded paper (with no end of paper in sight)
* 11 (!) more bags to Goodwill plus a large wire shelf
* 4 handmade pottery bowls (made by myself and my guy) (two of these were promptly regifted to me on the very next day as a joke but then the jokester took them back). they were very nice bowls. :)
* 2 handmade pottery cups (made by myself and my guy)
* 1 handmade pottery vase (made by me)

I have two items out on Craig's List for sale but haven't gotten any bites yet.

In terms of a sheer amount of "stuff" out of the house, if I use grocery bags as a unit then I am up to a total of 43! Wow!

But it isn't all good news...the garage, which was off to such a great start, has gotten stalled and is now in a state of minor decline. We did such a good job "Sorting" but never got any further. I have been working more on the basement since, a) we are having company in a few weeks and our guest is staying in the basement and b) my office is also in the basement and I need to work down here. So now I am torn. Do I go back to the garage or do I stick with continuing on with cleaning out the basement? I see the garage as a shorter term project but the basement is a more immediate need. A final question...does it matter what I am working on if I am still making progress?

Monday, August 6, 2007

Harry Potteritis

Last week I started having severe pain my both my forearms. The pain was unrelenting and I tried to figure out why my arms were hurting so bad. It felt as though I had injured both of my arms but I hadn't and I was baffled. My husband, who is no stranger to these types of injuries, suggested a course of action which included Traumeel cream, internal Arnica homeopathics and Advil. I did all these things before bed one night and the next morning I felt much better.

Better, that is, until I picked up the latest Harry Potter book, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. Both arms started screaming again and it hit me...I had Harry Potteritis.

The good news is that I finished the book (I liked it) and my arms are feeling much better. If you are planning to read the new book, make sure you protect your arms!

Monday, July 30, 2007

Clutter Battles - Part 4 - Turning the Tide

I forgot to take a "before" photo.

This past week was a clutter battle blitz. For a variety of reasons, the universe conspired (in a good way) to give me some space and mental capacity to get rid of some of my clutter - primarily in the area of children's clothing. So far, I have gotten 23 grocery bags out the door to new homes. Yes, I really said twenty-three!!! So where did they go? Most of them were "recycled".

* 5 bags to a friend who is having a boy
* 5 bags to a friend who is having a girl
* 5 bags to Goodwill
* 2 bags to a consignment shop (and now I have $61 credit there)
* 1 bag to another consignment shop (where my daughter got two skirts as trade)
* 3 bags paper recycling (2 of them were shredded on our new shredder)
* 2 bags to other friends (one is clothes loaned to my kids, one is clothes we are giving to someone else)

I also got my office painted and my shelving units installed. I have put my already organized bins onto the shelving units and am hoping to move my desk back into my office this week. We have a lot of work still to do but it feels so great to be making progress. It is very freeing!

Another area I am working on at the same time as working on my clutter is my health. One habit that I am finding hard to break is not eating within 2 hours of bedtime. During the week I do ok but on the weekend, especially Sunday nights, I have a hard time. I have heard that it takes 21 days to form a new habit. Does anyone out there have any good ideas for breaking this habit or replacing it with a new, healthy habit? I'd love to hear from you.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Clutter Battles - a note

Today I recieved a complementary 30 minute session with Kathie England, professional organizer. It was a great conversation and I told her all about my progress since I attended her presentation "50 Ways to Leave Your Clutter."

I told her that I had been reading the books she recommended and mentioned Creating Sacred Space with Feng Shui by Karen Kingston. I related that this book was perfect for me because we had moved into our house last September and had been wanting a "house blessing / clearing" but hadn't been able to make it happen. The book actually teaches you how to create your own sacred space. Then she told me that she hadn't recommended that book -- she had recommended another book, Clearing your Clutter with Feng Shui by the same author. Looking back to a previous post, I realize I wrote it down correctly but when I ordered it from the library, I ordered the other book instead. I can't help feeling like it is the perfect book at the perfect time for me. I love when that happens!

Clutter Battles and How to Win - Part 3

While this is Part 3 of a 3 part series, this particular post is only semi related to the two previous posts. What I want to share is not something I learned at the "50 ways to leave your clutter" presentation by Katie England. Instead, I wanted to share something I found it on one of my favorite blogs, rebecca's pocket. It is a post that compares permaculture zones with organizing your home. If you are on the A, Assigning an appropriate home, step of organizing, read the below article first!
Cultivating your home: Permaculture zones for getting things done

Friday, July 6, 2007

Clutter Battles and How to Win - Part 2

In my previous post, I wrote about a presentation I attended on personal organizing by Kathie England. She mentioned several books which I would like to share with you. The first is called Clear Your Clutter With Feng Shui by Karen Kingston. The idea behind this book had a big impact on me. She told us that sometimes we have a hard time letting go of things. But often, letting go of things makes room in our lives for new things. What was more impactful for me is that she said sometimes we hold on to things because they represent who we used to be. By holding on to those things, we can't move on. But by letting go of those things, we make room in our lives to be someone new. Whoa! I know I have a lot of things that fit into this category and I haven't come to terms with dealing with them because I know they could really shake my life up. I think I have to do some mental preparation.


Another book Kathie mentioned is It's Hard to Make a Difference When You Can't Find Your Keys: The Seven-Step Path to Becoming Truly Organized by Marilyn Paul. I have this book on order from the library and all I can say is the title cracks me up.


Kathie's presentation came at a good time for me. Work on our basement was just about done which meant two things: 1) we could start to organize the basement and 2) we could start to organize the garage. If you are wondering what the garage had to do with the basement, it was the pathway for the workers to the basement. Knowing that it was the garage that was bothering my honey the most, I decided to put my learnings to practice there.


Sometimes a task seems so overwhelming that you don't know where to start. For tackling these tasks, Kathie England suggests starting small. If you spent 10 minutes a day organizing (or doing anything for that matter) at the end of a year you would have spent 60 hours working on it. She actually recommends setting the timer for 10 minutes and then stopping when the timer goes off. Crazy, huh?


The first thing I did, per Kathie's advice, was take "before" photos.

Upper left wall.

Lower left wall

Full left wall.

The first day I grabbed some empty containers and started sorting. I was sorting in very general categories such as tools, metal things to attach other things (nails, screws), adhesive related things (tape, glue, grout), weatherizing, peg board accessories (we had a peg board at the old house but not the new one), painting supplies, etc. The presentation was three weeks ago. That said, I should have spent 210 minutes (or 3.5 hours) working on the garage since then. Truth be told, I would say that I haven't spent quite that much time. I do think I have spent 1.5 hours on my own and another 20 mintues with my honey sorting. He spent 20 more minutes sorting as well. Not too bad considering we went camping for 3 days in the middle. I think we are making really good progress but I have to tell you, we are still sorting! I am thinking that if I post about this process, perhaps I will be more likely to stay with it. I am hoping that this weekend we can finish up the sorting and do some purging. I will definitely keep you posted (pun intended).

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Clutter Battles and How to Win - Part 1

A few weeks ago I attended a presentation by a professional organizer. Kathie England has an organizing business called Time for Success. She presented some excellent ideas on how to get started taming your clutter. I don't know how much clutter you have but dealing with my overwhelming amount of clutter / stuff is one of the reasons I started this blog. I have a serious paper problem. I have a crazy, messy coat closet which doesn't work. I have a tiny garage that needs some serious organization. And the list goes on.

Kathie taught us a method for organizing based on an acronym that she learned in Julie Morgenstern's book, Organizing from the Inside Out. The acronym is SPACE. Forgive me if I hack this...I took notes but haven't gotten the book from the library yet.

First, S, you Sort like items with like items.

Second, P, you Purge. Once you can see that you have 5 potato peelers, you can pare down (pun intended).

Third, A, you Assign an appropriate home. For example, Christmas ornaments or your menorah don't need to be easily accessible. On the other hand, stuff you use every day should be right where you can get at it. A tape measure is going to be invaluable in this step and in the next step.

Fourth, C, you Containerize. I cringe at this word but basically, you find appropriate containers for the homes you assigned.

Fifth, E, you Equalize. This is maintenance where you make sure that your system is integrated into your life. One thing that she suggested is after you finish a project, you set an appointment with yourself in the future to make sure that you system is still working.

As you go through the process, she suggests having a "Quandary Box" (or bag or bin). This is where you put the stuff that defies sorting and that you don't know what to do with. You can go back to it later and make decisions. You may not be ready yet to let something go. This gives you an opportunity to get used to the idea of letting it go.

Another thing she mentions is to be sure to take before and after photos. She cited a client who had a 5 foot stack of papers to go through. During an organizing session with Kathie, she reduced the stack by 2 whole feet. The client was so excited! The problem was that when her husband returned home, he couldn't see the difference. It still looked like a huge stack of paper. A before photo would have been great proof of progress.

As a mama with 3 under 4, I really liked her idea of bins for kids with the word and the picture so kids can help clean up. Granted, I wouldn't even know how to categorize all our toys but it is still a good idea. One of the other ideas she had for kids was to take a photo of how you want a room (a bedroom, a playroom) to look. Then, set a timer, turn on some music and make it a game to get the room back to looking like the picture. Are you overwhelmed with toys? She suggested making it a fun event with your children to purge toys. You can build social awareness by talking about who would get the toys and why they might need the toys.

This post is getting super long so I will break it into Parts 1 and 2. Look for Part 2 in the near future.

Dear Blog,

I just wanted to apologize for ignoring you. It isn't because I don't love you, honest! It is just that, well, there is another blog in my life. There. I said it. I love you both and you are both so different! You fulfill my need to express the creative side in me, the crazy side and the confused side. My other blog, which is an internal work blog (so I cannot share it here) is totally different. It focuses on my work and on educating people about my work. The name of my other blog is "Water on a Stone" because that is how I think of my work sometimes.

The other difference is that this blog is a tiny little fish in a big, big pond. My blog at work is a huge fish in a little pond. It gets read. It gets comments. It gets lots of links and it gets noticed. But that doesn't mean I don't still love you and have good ideas for blog posts which I promise to write soon. Honest.

Love,
Your writer

Friday, June 8, 2007

Guitar makers seek to save trees

I was blown away by an article I found entitled, "Saving Trees Is Music to Guitar Makers’ Ears". Guitar makers are banding together with Greenpeace to save the forests because if they don't they will have no materials to build guitars. Imagine that, no trees or small trees mean no wood or not the right kind of wood to make guitars. I honestly can't imagine a world with no guitars. Can you?

Creating your Personal Board of Directors

If you are planning to make a big decision in your life, you may want to create your own personal board of directors. A personal board of directors is a group of individuals who can help you think through big decisions. They tend to have attributes that are different and compliment your personal attributes. The suggested number of people is anywhere from 4-7 and there are also suggested rolls to fill. Fast Company suggests that you have a clarifier, a challenger, a connector and a wise elder in addition to 1 or 2 free agents. You may find that you have strong talents in one of these suggested areas and then you may want to find an alternate archetype to draw on. Obviously, your personal board of directors are people that you trust.


Proactive Living says that personal boards of directors don't meet like professional boards. Instead you would meet with them one on one at least once a month. These people can help you stay on track toward you life's goals. They can make great suggestions and also often ask the hard questions that sometimes we don't want to face ourselves.

Decision Books lists reasons why you should create a personal board of directors. Here are a few of those reasons excerpted from the above link:
- It gives you access to experience you not normally available to you.
- It lets you to draw on the wisdom of people with diverse perspectives.
- It takes some of the fear out of making difficult decisions, and it allows you to climb the learning curve faster than if you were on your own.
- It delivers "intellectual bench strength," and helps you see the bigger picture more easily than if you were on your own.

If you want to get started, look around at the people you consult today. Are these people who support you in your decisions? Do they offer good advice that helps you to be successful? If the answer is yes, you are already on your way to creating a personal board of directors. If the answer is no to either question, you may want to consider replacing some of your current consultants with better candidates.

Who should create a personal board of directors? According to the links, everyone! This is not just for starting a business but for any big decision in your life. It can, however, be particularly helpful for career guidance.

Click on Goals Guy to see a list of 10 Personal Board of Directors Insights.

Monday, June 4, 2007

Opening Pandora's Box

Have you heard of the website Pandora? It is a super cool site where you enter your favorite music and then the website plays similar music. It is like your own personal internet radio station that plays music you like. What a great way to get exposed to new music! You can even buy songs you like directly from iTunes (very smart). The brains behind the website is the Music Genome Project© in which each song and artist is analyzed for particular musical attributes which they refer to as "genes". Ani DiFranco, one of my favorite artists, is classified as "folk roots, acoustic sonority, major key tonality, a good does of acousitc guitar pickin' and a dynamic female vocalist".


This website is an excellent example of what Web 2.0 can do. It lets you guide the music you want to hear. You can give feedback by rating each song thumbs up or thumbs down. I believe that it is a learning website as it learns which songs are most appreciated by the audience. It offers the ability to meet people who like the same music and there is a blog.


If you like music, you should check it out.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Green Computers

I got a green MBA from the Bainbridge Graduate Institute. While in school I participated in a project to write a business plan for creating green, low power computers. It looks like HP has green computers now.

Forget Killer Bees - What about Killer Cell Phones

This was an extremely disturbing article about the potential connection between cell phones and the decline of bees. Check it out at http://news.independent.co.uk/environment/wildlife/article2449968.ece.
Any thoughts?

Thursday, May 10, 2007

What the heck is Web 2.0?

You may be wondering what Web 2.0 is and how it differs from Web 1.0. Recently I took a class on Web 2.0 to learn more about its capabilities. In the past, when the web was referred to as an "information superhighway," it was describing Web 1.0. The web used to be a place where you went to get information. "Professionals" provided the data that went on the web. Now, everything has changed. Web 2.0 applications are sites where you, a common person, can get information but you can also leave information. There are often social networks associated with Web 2.0 applications. For example, there are numerous photo sharing websites that are currently Web 1.0. Snapfish, my favorite, is one such website. Sure, you can make some really cool projects - we made photo "memory" books for our moms for Mother's day but the site isn't particularly interactive. I can share my photos but the people I send the photos to cannot comment on them.

Enter a totally different way of doing things, Flickr. Flickr is also a photo sharing website. The difference is that Flickr is interactive. People can comment on your photos and they can look at all the photos that you have uploaded. People can also search the entire site to find particular photos. Flickr has groups (public or private) where photos can be pooled and discussed on discussion boards.

There are many other examples of Web 2.0 including RSS, wikis, blogs, virtual communities, podcasting / Vcasting, internet social networking, and video sharing. Web 2.0 is about collaboration. So if you want to jump on the Web 2.0 bandwagon, get collaborating!

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

This is a test to

This is a test to see if mobile blogging works.

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Who Am I?

I realize that I am straying from my original idea about what this blog was going to be about. I thought this was going to be more about my struggle with stuff and creating stuff (often in the form of art). I have found it to be more of a journey. It is simultaneously providing me with a creative outlet (so I am not making physical stuff!) and helping me to learn about blogging / Web 2.0.

Today I read a blog that made me laugh at myself. The blog is called The Onda and the post was about CB radio fanatics. The article was talking about how CB radio users used to do heroic things to get their CB radios working and then spent all their time talking about how they got their CB radios working. My blog, at the infant stage where it is now, is much the same. I am trying to simultaneously share my thoughts and learn how to blog. So I spend part of my time blogging about blogging. Silly, isn't it? I will have to keep that in mind as I continue to post.

Goal Setting

I have been acting sort of funny about this blogging business. I have a blog, but I don't tell anyone about it. I want people to read it, but I don't tell anyone about it. I want people to comment, but they don't know I want them to! What is my problem??? Today I typed "get people to read my blog" into Google and stumbled onto a website which at first glance didn't seem like it would help. The website is called "43 Things" and it linked me to other people who had the same goal. There were few, but good comments including a) make your blog interesting, b) link to other blogs, c) comment on other blogs and provide a link to your blog, d) use your blog address as your signature to really get your blog out there and e) make sure your blog has a purpose / target and stay on it.

After I read this I started poking around the "43 Things" site. Turns out it is a really cool site where you can post your goals, get help with them and report progress. It reminds me a lot of a favorite book of mine called, "Write it Down, Make it Happen", by Henriette Anne Klauser. The book simply states that if you write something down, you are able to move it from your imagination to doing it. Getting things down on paper (I think she actually says to write long hand but I may be imagining that), helps to get your brain in gear and start solving the puzzle of what you want to make happen. "43 Things" goes one step further in that it offers the possibility for others to collaborate on helping you think of things you may not have thought of on your own. If you have reached a goal that someone else is trying to reach, there is a way to share your story about how you did it. I definitely intend to spend some time there.

All of this to say that I need to create my own goals around blogging. So below you can find...my blogging goals. I would very much appreciate any comments you would like to share. It is lonely here in the blog-o-sphere when I feel like I am by myself. Am I?

My Blogging Goals:
  1. Get people to read my blog (I need to investigate how I can tell if anyone has read it!)
  2. Get at least 5 people to comment on each blog posting (this would be evident)
  3. Get linked from other blogs (my goal is to get linked from 10 blogs in next 90 days)
  4. Post comments on other people's blogs (my goal is to post 5 comments per week)

I look forward to your comments.

Friday, April 27, 2007

A further test in post dating blog posts

Ok, here is another try. I am writing this at 10:50 am but I am hoping to post it at 5pm my time. One thing I noticed about Emailschedule is that the time is East Coast time. I wonder if I can change that? Here goes!

Taking advantage of Web 2.0

I am trying to make the blogging experience as easy as possible for myself. In order to do that, and to keep my commitment to posting at least once per week, I am trying to gather tool which can simplify the experience. Two things that I am doing are 1) starting up my mobile blogging ability and 2) adding a way to postpone blogs. I am using a service called Emailschedule, which can be used to send a blog post whenever you want it to. I tried to do this with blogger directly but it wouldn't let me. I am going to use it on this post. I am writing this on April 27th but I am going to set it to post on April 28th. If you notice that it works, post a comment! I am also trying to put use a little html so we shall see what happens!

Monday, April 23, 2007

Don't go back to sleep

The breeze at dawn has secrets to tell you.
Don't go back to sleep.

You must ask for what you really want.
Don't go back to sleep.

People are going back and forth across the doorsill
where the two worlds touch.

The door is round and open.
Don't go back to sleep.

-Jelaluddin Rumi

I heard this poem recently at a conference and haven't been able to get it out of my head. I do love sleep but sometimes what I really need are the secrets that the breeze at dawn has to tell me. What about you?

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Permalink

I learned something new that I wanted to share. I learned how to link to a particular post on someone's blog. There are two ways that I learned how to do this. One is to click on the "permalink" button at the bottom of someone's post. This is how I linked to my man's post in my last blog entry. You may notice that my blog doesn't have a "permalink" button. What do you do then? Well, you can click on the time stamp at the end of each of my blog postings. That will bring up the post as a stand alone page. Then you can link to it! And you know, it is all about the linking...

Monday, April 16, 2007

Blogging lessons

My last post did not make much sense. I was trying to get my weekly post published and I rushed it. I wasn't thinking about the fact that I could "save as draft" and go back to it later! It is as hard to find time to blog as it is to find something interesting enough to blog about. Luckily, my man just posted on this topic: "Seven ways to find the time to blog".

I really like what he says in number 3 "get creative". I don't have to be in front of a computer to write a blog post (I just need to get in front of one to publish the blog post). I personally favor plain, blank index cards for jotting down notes. I got my man some fancy index cards personalized with his name and email address on them.

And it is my intention to go back and make some sense of my last blog post. I just need some time to think it through. I suspect there will be several "save as draft" events!

Monday, April 9, 2007

Web 2.0

My brain is about to implode. Ok, not really. But there is a whole lot going on up there and it has to do with virtual reality, artificial intelligence and the Singularity. Ever since I read Accelerando by Charles Stross, which I really enjoyed, I have been trying to wrap my brain around what is coming next. My impetus to blog more came from watching this cool video on Web 2.0. There were also some recent articles in Wired magazine, tangentially related to this topic, which are making my head spin. Anyone else out there thinking about this stuff?