Category Archives: Words and Writing

Does anyone know how…

…to get that little barbed-wire picture off of my page?  I am looking everywhere and can’t find the way to do it.   Another question…if I want to change the name of my blog, do I have to create a new one?  I reallyyyyy hope not…that would be a procrastinator’s nightmare!

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I’m back…I think.

If there is anyone reading this who is looking for the Bordermama, welcome back.  Or perhaps I should say, let me (re)introduce myself.  When I left off with my, ahem, last post wayyyyy back in 2007, I did what I normally do when faced with a lot of change, anxiety, and uncertainty…nothing.  Modus procrastinatus.  Much was brewing then…adoption plans off, new baby on, job/city change, etc.  I was also feeling the need to, not reinvent, but adjust my blog.  I wasn’t liking my tone.  Too know-it-all, too smirky… I still haven’t exactly pinpointed what was bothering me, but change was needed and change was a-comin’.

I’d like to think that the biggest change is that I have given myself permission to do something I have been loathe to give myself in the past…permission to fail.  Yes, fail.  Fail in what, dear reader, I hear you ask.  At first, I merely thought it was permission to fail in keeping a timely blog…not letting too many days slip by, posting every single day like the other blogging moms who manage a post-a-day.  I had craftily thought that by not blogging, I might avoid failure.  You might know that disease I speak of…the If-you-don’t-do-it-perfectly, don’t-do-it-at-all disease?  The last two years have taught me that the only prescription for that affliction is failure.    There is great (and humbling) value in seeing that the whole world does not fall apart when you fail in something.  I have learned that when my plans either disintegrate, get pushed aside, are not good enough, or are just plain wrong, some surprising things happen.   I may have to start over, or listen to advice, or work alongside someone, or (horrors!) let someone else take over.  That’s okay.  Really it is.  And you might have guessed that I am speaking of bigger things than just blogging. 

So, while I say I’m back, I have given myself permission to miss a day, a week, or even a month or two, and not have an all-or-nothing mentality about it.  And you may see a few more un-edited typos.   Or some outrightly lame posts.  That’s okay…it’s my own perfectly (!) neurotic therapy.

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Filed under Thoughts, Uncategorized, Words and Writing

Chocolate Floors

I think one of the best things about blogging is reading the search terms people use to find their way here.

My blog gets a lot of hits from people searching for kitchen makeovers. If you are one of those people, you can read about my story here and here.

kitchen-renovation-1.jpg

Today, though, one searcher particularly tickled me. They searched under “kitchen makeover chocolate floor.” MMmmm, looking for a Hansel and Gretel house? How about a dark chocolate floor? Bittersweet? Or maybe you already have so much chocolate on your floor you need a makeover? I know, I know, it was probably something more mundane like, “I really want a kitchen makeover and I want my floor to be chocolate brown colored.” But it sure made me smile!

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Filed under Homemaking&Cooking, Uncategorized, Words and Writing

Setting Out Bait

Did anyone notice my shameless attempt to attract more readers?  It didn’t work.  I guess no one searches under “Grey Anatomy,” the wildly popular tv show (actually spelled Grey’s Anatomy) that I’ve never even watched!

My husband and I had a good laugh, though.  We could just picture some dude, upon seeing my site, staring and saying (in a confused, dull voice) “This is stupid.”   Hee, hee.

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Racehorse writers/Reluctant writers

I ran across my daughter’s second grade journal today and began to panic a little. My son, nearing the end of first grade, is nowhere near the skills shown by my daughter’s writing, even at the beginning of her second grade year. I know that it can be folly to compare children but it did spur me on today to search for ways to encourage writing fluency in my son.

I really should be encouraged by the fact that he no longer grips the pencil in a tight fist. And that he is a better reader at this age than his sister was. But writing?? He’d rather go to the dentist and get his teeth filled. Much of this has to do with a little perfectionist tendency that has surfaced in him. He hates to guess at the spelling of a word, lest he be wrong!! How different this is from his sister, who can write like a racehorse, but can’t even spell her own name. (I’m not kidding…in the midst of furious writing, she has been known to misspell her name…multiple times.) Like immersing yourself in a Shakespeare play, it takes me awhile to understand her own “alternately-spelled” language, but once I get it, it all makes sense. And the stories are riveting.

I have to admit, it’s hard to look at my son writing. It still looks painfully awkward. I can see why he wants to wriggle, and shake his hands in frustration, and whine and complain. Because of this, I realized today I have been reluctant to make him write as much as he should. He never minds dictating a story to me, but to write one himself…??

I found this website and I’m going to give it a whirl: WritingFix: Word and writing games for young writers
I have also determined to suffer through a journal time every morning, no matter how much I want to stop.

It’s funny to see bits of my own writing habits in both of my school-age children. As a young child I had terrible handwriting…consistent C’s and D’s, but boy, could I spin a story!  With near perfect spelling, too!.  But what went on before I began the story?  Whining by me, cajoling/threats by the adults.  I have always had a love/hate relationship with writing.  It’s dreadful to get me started, yet I am constantly writing in my head and can’t stop.  Once it’s out…I love it again.  Strange.

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Filed under Babies & Kids, Homeschooling, Words and Writing

Wow, this is so much better!

Our family is notoriously slow to acquire the latest technology. It took us YEARS to buy a CD player and we stubbornly held onto our VCR tapes until the movie stores removed that option. It is not that we don’t like change, but I think there is a surprisingly thrifty streak in us. Why throw out perfectly good cassette tapes, or buy repeats of movies we already own? My home phone was perfectly capable of handling calls and my answering machine never failed to take a message, why pay for a cell phone?

Eventually, even techno-grumblers have to give in. We finally succumbed to cell phones and I’ll admit it…I love it. The ultimate in convenience. But that doesn’t mean I have to like paying the bill, though.

That is why I was thrilled when our cable company offered us digital internet at the same price as our old dial-up. Ha! It paid to hold out! I can hear my family rejoice now (“Yea, no more busy signals!”) And, really, this is so much better. I feel so efficient now…I can listen to great music for free, watch videos, catch up on you-tube wonders, and best of all blog in half the time!

At installation, the cable tech could not believe that I was still using a Windows 98 computer. “What?? But we just bought this in, what was it now? 2000? Wasn’t that just yesterday? It cost a whole bunch…. ” Grumble, grumble. I know I’ll have to give again soon. I currently can’t hook up my printer and my mouse at the same time. And I’m getting a little tired of reaching around the dusty box in the dark, stabbing at little holes that are almost out of reach, knowing if I pull the box out just a little too much…POOF…there goes the power cord. Gee whiz…what I’ll do to save a buck.

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Filed under Thoughts, Words and Writing

Blogging, Quicksand, and a Bubble Bath

I think that I must have subconsciously chosen a fast from blogging for Lent, because since it has begun, I’ve logged on once to post. Once. And I haven’t even lurked around on my favorite sites, either.

Being away nine days plus another out-of-town soccer tournament weekend in March has made for one busy mama. How do you recover from all those extra husband-rich days (i.e. weekend) away from laundry catch-up, grocery shopping, and lesson planning? They say that women are better multi-taskers than men, but I think that my multi-tasking neurons never connected. I am one of those who deeply concentrates on one thing at a time, and it’s usually my own thoughts, so I can be pretty unproductive outside my noggin. Add disorder and playing catch-up to my one track mind and I can easily feel like I am trying to climb out of quicksand.

All of these days away from my computer has made me think about how I use my time. Spring sports have begun and I have less free time now than when I first began blogging in the lull between fall and spring sports. I know that there are busier moms than me who find time to blog, lesson plan, clean, cook, etc. If I can discipline myself to schedule a thirty minute time block to blog, and stick to it, I would still be able to write and read other blogs a little. I like to think of blogging as my mental organization time, akin to untangling colored thread in a well-used sewing box. But it’s not all verbal housekeeping. It is also a little like taking a mental bubble bath as well.

Like busy mamas everywhere, I just hope that I can squeeze in a relaxing ‘soak in the tub’ from time to time.

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Book Review: Baby by Patricia MacLachlan

My 10 year old tossed Baby by Patricia MacLachlan at the end of her bed last night. “That was sad” was her only comment.

Having an attraction to “sad” books, I immediately grabbed it and began reading it while putting my toddler to sleep. I stayed there until I finished. When I finished my side was numb and I had tears running down my face. What a beautiful book.

Patricia MacLachlan has a rare gift among storytellers. She writes stories poetically. I don’t mean she uses poetic phrases, as so many good authors do, but she composes poetically. She turns simple words, that could be read by any second grader, and makes a story that reads like one big poem. Each word is savored, never wasted. The wonderful thing is that readers none too fond of poetry would never have guessed that they just read a poem disguised as a story.

Baby (1993, Delacorte Press) might be my favorite among her stories. The author is probably best known for Sarah, Plain and Tall. Even non-readers may be familiar with the Hallmark movie version of the story. That book, although poetically written, translates well into a dramatic reproduction. Baby would not work so well.

Baby is about words and the power of words and the destruction in lives when words are withheld. Like a good layer cake, it is also about loss, pain, cycles, giving, and healing.

Twelve-year-old Larkin lives with her mom and dad on an island year round. The story opens at the end of summer, as the last summer ferry carries the tourists away until the next summer. One little island “guest” is left behind at Larkin’s home. An almost year old baby, Sophie, has been left by her mother with a note attached telling the family that “I will come back for her one day.” Sophie becomes the catalyst which brings about healing in Larkin’s family.

As the family takes in Sophie, they uncover the pain surrounding the loss of Larkin’s newborn brother, “Baby,” six months prior. Larkin’s parents never talk about him, never named him, and through their silence have isolated each other from themselves and from their daughter. The story unfolds beautifully as Larkin’s family cycles through fear of love, love for Sophie, then once again has to face loss again, when Sophie’s mother returns in the spring to claim her. During the story, Larkin discovers poetry and how words are “wondrous” and powerful, and through this power Larkin and her family find their way back from loss and pain.

Baby speaks powerfully to foster care, too. Larkin’s grandmother, with foresight, has the following conversation with Larkin:

“This is not meant to be easy,” she said, “It is a very important thing to do, for Sophie and especially for your mother and father. But it will not be easy. Do you understand?”

I understood. I did. I knew that what she meant was what Papa had said. Sophie was not ours. Someday she would go away. Another thing to miss.

“Why is it important?” I asked her…

“It is important, Larkin, because we are giving Sophie something to take away with her when she goes.”

“What?” asked Lalo [Larkin’s friend]. “What will she take with her?”

“Us,” said Byrd firmly.

“And what will we have when she’s gone?” I asked .

Byrd is silent. It takes the rest of the book for Larkin to have her answer.

I had a wonderful conversation this morning with my daughter about the book and the power of words. We were reminded of how God spoke world into being and how Jesus is called the Word made flesh. Words are ordained by our Creator to hold power…power to heal and soothe, and also power to hurt. MacLachlin’s book addresses how the absence of words can be just as harmful as the ill-used word and what blessings may flow when words are used to heal.


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Filed under Babies & Kids, Book Reviews, Homeschooling, Words and Writing

I guess the disadvantage to formally learning to type…

…is that I’m awfully impatient typing with one hand. My other hand is holding my sick toddler, as it has been doing since Thursday!! I’ve been writing posts in my head for days now but I can’t stand the hunt and peck. It makes me feel all “scribbly” inside, in the words of my 7 y/o.

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Writer’s Block, Blog Envy, and Perseverance

I’ve decided to break my writer’s block by just throwing out whatever comes to mind. The first thing is that I don’t think I really have writer’s block, but I have started two unpublished detailed blogs that have had me stymied and I have drawn many more blanks recently when I sit down to blog. I can’t remember who said it, but he/she said that writing in itself isn’t difficult, it is narrowing the nearly infinite number of ways to write something that is difficult. (100 bingo-points to the person who can reference this quote! Was it Virginia Woolf?)

Anyway, I had no difficulty at all until I started reading so many blogs. “Oooh, wow, I love the way she said that!” or “I wish I could be so clever” and so on. The more I thought about writing, the less natural it seemed. So enough…I am just going to keep going for the sake of going.

One of my besetting sins is the tendency to despair and self-pity. I hear myself say all too often, “I’ve always been [messy, forgetful, a procrastinator…]” or “I never can [keep something good going, keep to a schedule, etc.], and leave it at that, as if God isn’t capable of changing me! I found that thought creeping in today, as in “Oh well, I guess I only had a good couple of months of writing in me…I’ve never been able to stick to anything.” But I can’t let that negative thought get me. Writing everyday or nearly everyday has been one of the best things I have done for myself, and inadvertently my family, in a long time. I am able to step back and see things in my life from a different perspective, to laugh at the daily happenings in my family, and help untangle my jumbled thoughts. Envy and pride would love to stumble me, but I am now onto them. Isn’t knowing your enemy half the battle?

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