July 2013 (Facebook compilation)

July 2: Jay is building me a new workspace for this corner!


July 3:

“This doesn’t make Sense!” is Melody’s cry for help with schoolwork.

I’ve been asking her to use the phrase “I don’t understand,” but I think she’s resisting taking ownership of her problems.

After the latest one I finally snapped, “There are lots of things in this world that do not make sense. 3rd grade math is not one of them. Don’t waste your ‘Doesn’t make sense’ on this.”

Mitzi Barber:  Don’t you think “this doesn’t make sense TO ME” is just as valid “I don’t understand”?

Amy Jane Helmericks: Yes! I tried to get her to add that, too. Just as much resistance.

Making progress. Clamping/gluing/screwing on the bits to make the countertop level.



victory A victory B

July 4: Cat-friend vs. Dog-friend videos (part 1) (part 2)

July 16: Shared one of my fav YouTube Sherlock vids with a friend.

So, I stayed up way too late last night, was taking a ‘nap’ this afternoon (trans.: lying still, appreciating my children’s respecting my tiredness and watching my consciousness come and go).

M runs from the back of the house: “Natasha! The bathroom sink is overflowing!”

N runs after her and I. don’t. move.

After I get up, this is what I find in the bathroom.

towel pile

Not bad. Worth staying in bed.

July 18: “Smells like Grandma Teena’s house!” Natasha said this morning

N's bacon

Jennifer: “Well, I read Pride and Prejudice.”
Me: “Good for you, I still haven’t.”
“Do you have the movie?”
“I have two of them.”
“Great. I want to watch the movie. I’m not sure I got the gist of Elizabeth fully from the book.”
“Ooo that’s heresy. I’m totally putting it up on Facebook.”

July 19: Finished my proof-reads on Lindorm 13.1 (the version I sent out the end of May).

Celebrated by writing next month’s “Life & Fiction” column for Wyn.

Mama’s tired, now. But content.

July 20: The room progress: floor clear/vacuumed, and individually owned stuff on the beds of their owners.

I wouldn’t let them watch the initial sorting (which I did) and have offered to finish the job with similar oversight.

They are currently moving forward, on their own. Slowly.

Room A Room B

July 23: Got praised tonight (by someone I’d known ~5 minutes) as being very well-spoken and articulate. (I’d jumped into a debate before I knew the people, just the topic– and my fierceness could have alienated my listener, but it didn’t. And that felt a whole lot like love.)

Still feels wonderful to have my strengths noticed.

Also at that get-together, was asked to share “as much of [my] story (context of what I was fighting for) as [I] was comfortable sharing.”

Started by saying, “My parents were in leadership at basically every church they’ve ever been in, so I was one of those kids/ teenagers whose ‘fishbowl complex’ was actually grounded in reality.

“I’ve spent much of my life expecting to be seen, and often making choices within that context. It made the jump to blogging very natural…”

I laugh, now, because I’d never thought of that context before tonight, but it makes perfect sense.

July 26: Finishing up some writing tasks while my girls learn how to find letters on their keyboards (aka, write down their own stories).

Melody was w.i.g.g.i.n.g. out about formatting (where the words fall on the page) and I said, “The important part now is to build up a nest of words that we will then make tidy once all the materials are collected.”

And she said in a little voice, “okay.”

Melody: “I want my book to have a hard cover. Not be the kind you buy on facebook. How do I make sure of that?”

Me: “You start by finishing your book.”

June 2013 (Facebook Compilation)

June 5: Our new in-house OCD test:
Real-life picture layout on our welcome-wall (first wall you see walking into house).

welcome wall

June 8: The newest member of our crew at Willow Rock Farm: flew her home from the Palmer airport.

Plane ride home

June 13: My work over the last week: organizing (and thinning) the books in my library.

A job I haven’t done since before we moved here.

It was fabulous to discover/recognize the pattern of my “collecting.”

books 1 books 2 books 3 books 4 books 5

June 15: Got all three freezers emptied/defrosted/inventoried this afternoon. A few people commented on the soggy ice cream. (It all took about as long as you’d expect…)

Still in awe of the accomplishment, and figuring out the best way to meal-plan with the new information.

June 18: Pleased to announce that ‘that magazine project’ I’ve been talking about for months is now live.

Wyn (wynmag.com) is an online magazine focused on providing resources and hope for mental and emotional healing. Each month’s issue has a specific theme that runs through all the articles.

I am so excited to be a part of this project with amazing women from around the globe.

Please stop by and join the conversation on the blog.

June 19: Wheee 2a.m. and a gentle tiredness on top of a feeling of productivity. Got some good writing done and kids are at Gma’s so I can sleep in.

June 21:

Dunno if you can tell from these pix, but this is Griffin scratching himself six ways from Sunday.

Can’t tie him out b/c he’s helpless against the bugs, and now I can’t even walk him, because we’re both *mobbed* instantly.

Finally just turned him loosen out the front door (which I *never* do on purpose). He was back five minutes later: more itchy, but less whining. Took care of business, I assume.

griffin itch A griffin itch B griffin itch C

June 27: Vamp bucket. The mosquito magnet catches them, but this model at least has trouble getting them into the collection plate.

Freakiest part: we’re still chewed on in the length of time it takes to cross the yard, and the dog continues to be scared to go outside.

vamp bucket

Elisha [getting ready for a camping trip]: “But what do we need to bring *toothbrushes* for?!”

May 2013 (Facebook Compilation)

May 2: EEP.

So I’m slowly and in a not-actively-marketing way growing my business (Untangling Tales: Professional Bios and Story Coaching), basically praying about it, staying “available” but not pushing anything because my life is full-enough, and I’m sort of being asked for the next level.

That would be being paid for my talk/workshop on writing professional bios.

In other (big) news, my Lindorm novel is now officially long enough to be two books, and part of knowing that is announcing Book-One is *finished.*

70,000 words. (Approximately.)

Next step is proof-reading the and writing a query letter. (But you can get as many details as you want at UntanglingTales.com. Just search Lindorm for the latest.

May 7: Okay, how much of a story-geek does it make me that I’m reading the Sparknotes summary of “The Importance of Being Earnest” and cracking up multiple times?

Never saw or read the play before. Just had it referenced *again* and decided I needed to know what’s going on.

Anyway, totally worth the read. Just the *summary* got me belly-laughing. Can’t know if the whole play would be worth wading through, but this I loved.



I’m editing my novel, right?
Which means I’m entering other skins and descriptions.

Here’s what I’d just. finished. reading:

**For some reason it made me remember my revulsion in the lambing pen when large spiders, drawn by the warmth of new life, skittered across the straw and, three different times, onto the face of the new lamb itself.**

And something was skittering on my wrist under the desk.
I whacked it automatically and it *crunched* under my fingers. An ant as long as my fingernail.


May 10: And to celebrate (the previous post), I’m… scrubbing out our oddly-discolored dishwasher.


If it goes squicky again before next year, we’ll just keep suffering through. (Aaand it finally died. 11/13)

Also: Something that made me *wail* with much-needed-cathartic-laughter–

Dogs don’t understand basic concepts like moving.
Pretty much the whole time.
Every next-line started me over again.

I did not know how much I needed to laugh.
Or remember how good laugh-tired feels.

May 14: My subconscious is so *cute.*

The way things can layer and still make sense.

My dream this morning included a note from a “friend” in New York (someone I knew in the dreamworld) I’d apparently given a guinea pig to.

She (the human) was both true to her own beliefs (agnostic/atheist– no afterlife) and either very kind or “socially discrete.”

She had a note sent to me in my (1800s era) hotel room with a the item, “[Guinea pig name] went to China.”

Once I understood the animal was dead, it made sense: into-the-ground=traveling to China.

I thought it made a surprising amount of sense for a dream.

May 16: 2nd goat went into labor today, and I got all James-Harriot up-past-my-elbow in her uterus for two hours trying to straighten out the kid’s head. It was snaked back behind his shoulder, blocking progress.

I was keenly reminded of my own weakness this morning. Kept feeling as though greater endurance could have won the day.

Finally my hands were just too painful to try any more (the dizziness and weak arms were also contributing factors).

Thankfully we found a vet answering the phone (I called four numbers, left messages and kept calling back to catch the person I did).

She got a C-section.

There was only one kid, already dead. A buck, so I felt less disappointed than otherwise. But also the vet said he was probably too big to get out anyway, and that assuaged my self-disappointment.

Thing is, the adventure/ emergency forced me to cancel the dr. appt where I hoped to ask what is up with this persistent weakness.

Now I have to start over again.

Praying for a full recovery and good milk supply from our bereaved doe.

And strength for me. I’m still a bit wobbly here at the end of the day.

May 21: Words often say more than what they say: “A Fate worse than Death.”

May 31:

Girls walking through: Ow! Ow. OW.
Me (noting the fairy wings): Are those pretend ‘Ows?’
N: Yes.


So I seem to have a habit of giving people more than they’re [really] asking for.

Gerald, my Toastmasters mentor, called up over his lunch hour and opened with some species of “How’s it going?”

I’m often very good at giving the standard flippant response, but I’ve been mulling over that same question all morning, so instead I said, “Well, I’m a little traumatized right now, actually.”

“Ah,” he said, still in convo-lite mode. “That snow coming down.”

“No,” I said, suddenly realizing I’ve been surprised by it all four times I’ve walked out the door since it started. “I had a trauma yesterday– The goat went into labor, I spent two hours with my arm inside her trying to straighten out a baby that was too big to get out anyway. We ended up getting her a C-section and the baby was born dead. So, yeah, traumatized is a good word for ‘how I am’ right now.” Then I rushed on, recognizing there’s probably no way for him to recover from that statement. “But that’s not why you called, how can I help you…?”

More trouble is that the surgery cost twice as much as the goat did, and she’s still not voluntarily walking around, she’s shivering in the warm barn, and too many things look swollen that shouldn’t be, so I am still concerned for her life/health, and the whole thing doesn’t feel over yet.

I had two appointments Thursday morning, because usually I take the kids to school and it’s a good day to get stuff done.

I had to cancel the doctor appointment, but it looked like I could make the consultation at the IDEA (homeschooling) office, so I pressed into that.  I felt really shaky, and every time I told the next person (four people over five hours) what I was doing/looking for and why, I got teary and self-conscious.

But I kept pressing because I wanted answers. I wanted something solid and concrete so I could wipe this question off the front of my mind.

The result is that I came home shaking and exhausted (I hadn’t brought any food or eaten lunch) but I had all the pieces I needed to loop the loose ends together and make a coherent whole.

Winterdust wasn’t then and still isn’t now seeming better as I’d hoped, and I’ve fallen back on my old standby (denial?) just staying inside and moving slowly forward on some small projects, like getting that broth canned, so it’s not wasted, and running the dishwasher.

One sad thing is that being the time of year it is I can’t even de-stress by catching up on TV shows, because they’re all finales, so my whole reason for watching shows right now (closure) is unlikely to be fulfilled.

Along the same line I’ve been delaying the dive-in to the next novel (Shadow Swan, NaNo 2010), because I dipped my toe earlier this week and all my intensity jacked up, full-throttle. That is, I usually feel the tension/stress of my stories until they’re completely written– which explains why I haven’t had the emotional energy to do a lot of work sometimes.

NaNo has been the exception– the pace of writing (and the legitimization of making the Story almost my main world of occupation…) it seems to work out.

There’s a *lot* that needs to be fixed and added to finish it from “just” 50,000 words, and I need to treat this like a marathon, not a sprint. But that looks like it’s going to take some rewiring.

April update 2013 (Facebook compilation)

April 6: Down to one row of rabbits! (Californians went to their new home today.) So thankful for the increased breathing room.

April 7: Melody cried, complained, delayed and “forgot” enough.  She wanted a low-maintenance haircut, Jay gave her one before church.

Shaved Melody 3

Sibling reactions (M came out of the bathroom, griShaved Melody 2nning to sShaved Melody 1plit her face).

Sib reaction 1 Sib reaction 2 Sib reaction 3

April 8: Person of Interest is now my favorite show. On so many levels. I don’t gush, but if you asked me to, I could make a starter list below.

  • Short list (since Becky asked), in no particular order (except #1 is #1)
    • 1. huge value placed on the individual– every life is worth protecting, even when you don’t know who they are or what they contribute to society. They are human: one of us, and therefore worth protecting.
    • The style of humor
    • Nobody yells
    • opportunities for “sexy” visuals are minimized or skipped completely (at least compared to the other shows I’ve seen).
      • I just learned the actor who plays John Reese is a practicing Catholic who refused to do a bedroom scene in an earlier movie because of his beliefs. That’s big-points in my book, makes me glad I’m supporting his work.
    • Smart writing
    • Layered, multi-strand stories
    • Things change almost every episode (i.e., no “Status quo is god” stuff. Even core characters appear to grow)
    • core characters are established, then stretched (i.e., “the brain” and “the brawn” have to swap or at least share roles at times.
    • “No one has to walk alone.”

April 9: (Me- shouting to be heard over the girls’ arguing:)

“Natasha and Melody! May I remind you that you will be living together for the next TEN. YEARS. You need to find a way to get along and communicate without yelling at one another.”


*Quiet conversation.* [Bless God.]

Also April 9: E [gasping in the midst of his story]: I barely got away. Had to kill them with my rubber band. They were *really* hard to kill.

April 10: Had my first business presentation tonight. Well-received, and good feedback from my TM mentor.

This is feeling more real by the day.

Next step might be to rework the UT site to be a more-fitting landing page for a business. (ETA: business website is now WritingHope.com instead of UT)

Surreal as well as real. I’m excited and getting into something I’m also good at.

April 13: Cleaned the girls’ room today– by putting each kid’s stuff on her bed.

Stuff always gets left on the floor b/c no one wants to take responsibility. Now that I’ve got the floor clear & vacuumed it’s pretty clear who needs to deal with what.

(Now to see if they finish the aways before bedtime.)

April 17: Anybody else– Okay, any other WOMEN– tired of the “modesty” talks females are repeatedly subjected to? Anybody think it’s time men had their turn? Please enjoy.

April 18: I love this. Especially the bit about finding something that gives you the energy to put the hours in– so true.

April 19: Melody got a new, pre-named toy.

M: Chalky [new toy] doesn’t make me feel ‘safe and cared for’ [the words in his description tag]. *You* make me feel ‘safe and cared for.'”

April 24: Woohoo! Jay got me the first season of Person of Interest for my Bday!

SO fun. Watched the fist two eps tonight.

Only downside is that J likes it too, now, so I can’t just binge my way through the season. :} Have to wait for him.

April 30: “Human beings are the only creatures who are allowed to fail. If an ant fails, it’s dead. But we’re allowed to learn from our mistakes and from our failures. And that’s how I learn, by falling flat on my face and picking myself up and starting all over again.”
? Madeleine L’Engle


So I’m walking by the Living room and hear the word zombies, so I stop and listen.

Melody is telling Elisha how only the one Playmobile figure is human and all the rest are zombies.

So I ask, “What’s a zombie?”
And she says, “A person back from the dead.”
So I say, “Oh, like Lazarus?” and she says, “No. They’re different. If you shake them, bits fall off.”
And I say, “That’s very interesting. Where did you learn about zombies?”

And she said, “From Morgan. In 2nd grade.”
I wasn’t sure whether to laugh or cry. I love that she’s not afraid, but, Really? Zombies?

Basic Steps Toward Healthier Living

This is the text of the talk I gave at my kids’ school assembly, to all the parents and kids that were present for the Fall Festival last Friday night.

There are two main approaches or philosophies when it comes to food.

The first, the one we’re most familiar with, is the Subtraction Model:

We make decisions based on what we’re told to remove from our diet:

  • Fat
  • Carbs
  • etc.

The second food Philosophy focuses more on what your food puts into you: vitamins, minerals, good, sustainable energy. An Addition Model.

If your best friend shows up at the door with ice cream and a new game, you want the door to let that person in. If the dog makes a mess on your carpet, you want that same door to open to get the mess out of your house.

Now, out of those two images, if you imagined yourself in both, which one had you moving faster?

 I’m thinking the dog-mess for me, because if she’s really my best friend, she’ll still be there if I don’t open the door right away.

 This was the easiest place for me to start my growing awareness of nutrition and healthy eating.

For me it was cutting gluten and soy,

The result was losing weight and getting rid of my migraines, so you can understand I was motivated.

But it was also hugely stressful because it meant changing the way I ate, and learning a whole new skill set.

You probably don’t want to start at the gluten-and-soy level, but I’m asking you– to consider—cutting three things that will give your entire family a boost in healthy living: Continue reading

Your brain works differently when you’re tired.

I was bit by a rat today.

Of course, that’s because I grabbed it, as it was scrambling around the no-hiding-places new room Jay’s started building for the goats.

And he didn’t just bite me. He took hold of my thumb and hung. on. Showing his little ½-inch teeth as he did his mini-bulldog best to make his teeth meet before he relaxed his jaw.

It’s the first time I’ve ever been bit by a rat, and I didn’t really react, because I was so surprised– at his tenacity as much as anything.

I switched my hold to his tail as soon as he let go, and he promptly began spinning like a dervish, trying to get back at my hand.

At that exact moment, I was speaking with a new acquaintance who was there with her 4- and 6-year-olds.

Not really sure where this came from, but I asked the mama, in the same polite tone I’d been using up to that point, “Would you mind stepping out? I think I’m going to end this critter, and I’m not sure you want to be here.”

She looked a bit startled but did as I asked.

My heebeegeebees were pretty much activated at this point and I just did the easiest thing. I whacked it against the plywood wall. Then after the satisfying ?thunk?, I carried the barely twitching rat (still hanging by its tail) out of the room where the mother and children were now standing (as I suppose is to be expected) looking a little confused.

I hadn’t really suggested anywhere for them to go. My bad.

The little boy started asking questions about the rat that didn’t quite compute in my sleep-shorted mind, and I just lifted the lid on an empty metal trash can and dropped the little carcass inside.

Amazing how thoroughly the metal lid ended that topic of conversation.

What I’m desperately curious about now, is how this looked to the mama.  Here I’m talking hay quality and milk-handling procedures one minute, then Oh excuse me while I end this rat.

I am so weird.

Sooo… We have Goats again.

Most of you probably already knew that, and I was going to save this post until we have picture capacity back, but I’m sick (aka sitting still), and they’ve been here a week, and I figure I can come back and stick pictures in later if I want {wink}.

We bought three papered Nigerian dwarf dairy goats; two does in milk, and a suitably stinky buck.

(We also bought a little buck/wether companion for the big dude, so that he doesn’t have to live alone.)

We’ve been milking twice a day for a bout a week now, and with a recently improved milking stand design it now appears (once I’m not sick anymore) I’ll be able to milk without help, and therefore more times in a day (the goal being to bring up milk-production levels).

Being registered, they have big fancy mulisyllable names, and they each have the name of the heard/breeder who registered them. Jay went online before we bought them to verify pedigrees, and we learned a bit about the registering process– including the need to come up with our own name if we are going to continue to register the offspring (which only makes sense, at this point).

Most variations on “Serendipity” are already taken, so we have different name that we came up with (together, this time; half his and half mine, which was a delight to my word-loving heart) that may eventually be reflected onto this site. We’ll see.

The milk, as is typical for the little breeds, is very rich. This has been instrumental in winning Elisha back over to goat milk.

After our goat (share) kidded this spring (after a couple months just on cow milk) Elisha decided he didn’t like it any more, despite it being as good as ever. He’s reject it just because it came from the jar rather than a jug.

We’re getting milk in small enough quantities just now to finish it off the same day we take it, and all the kids see “Winterdust” milk as a *huge* treat now.

“It’s like liquid ice cream!” Melody said, and I have to agree with her.  Pretty amazing stuff, and a nice shot of instant gratification for the work of milking and managing.