Friday, May 22, 2015

Poetry Friday: Go Congratulate Matt!


I'm on the run today, but wanted to be sure to send you over to the round up. Matt Forrest Esenwine is hosting, and he has big news about a book deal! Go say congrats, and enjoy a plethora of poetry.

The round up is here.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Bits and Pieces of Our Days: The My-Laptop-May-Have-Died Edition (With Other Stuff That's Much Cheerier)

Photo courtesy of FreeImages.com

This post is brought to you courtesy of the old, old, old laptop that belongs to Atticus. Where's mine, you ask? I'm glad you're feeling inquisitive as I am ready to complain. You see, I tried to update the operating system on mine, and apparently this was a near-fatal decision. We'll know soon, but for now I am just extravagantly grateful for the fact that I obsessively back up my work when I'm writing a book. So ... Whew!

And, dear friends and readers, please remind me to never, ever, ever, NEVER EVER do anything that could even remotely be described as tech-y when I am working on a manuscript. Thank you. 

~~~~~

I'm done obsessing over Mad Men and the series finale. Really. I think. I never did get that post written, but partly because I'm mulling over the idea that some of my thoughts could go into this book I'm writing. Soooo ... best to keep mulling for now. Stop obsessing. Keep mulling. That's the ticket.

~~~~~

Ramona has been baking and she has mastered my chocolate chip cookie recipe. No wonder I haven't been hungry for real food the last couple of days. Too. Many. Delicious. Cookies. Sitting. Around. 

~~~~~

The VanWonderful VanDerwater (that's Amy Ludwig VanDerwater) is running a summer edition of Sharing Our Notebooks, and she's inviting readers to share ideas. I love this!

This post explains the idea.


And here's the idea that Ramona and I contributed: Make Your Own Notebook

Ramona's Homemade Notebook

Monday, May 18, 2015

About Not Working Because I'm Obsessed With the Mad Men Finale

Truly, no time to write an actual post about it because I'm writing a book right now (really, dear editor, I am) but I was obsessing over at Facebook, if you want to join in.

It goes without saying: SPOILERS ALL OVER MY FACEBOOK PAGE.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Poetry Friday: To Happiness


I was in Omaha this week, for an interview with Al Kresta, and that gave me the chance to see my old friend Jack, too -- to catch up, talk over coffee, and remember the many incarnations of our friendship. 

To Happiness
by Carl Dennis

If you're not approaching, I hope at least
You're off to comfort someone who needs you more,
Not lost wandering aimlessly
Or drawn to the shelter of well-lit rooms
Where people assume you've arrived already.

If you're coming this way, send me the details—

(Read the rest here, at The Writer's Almanac.)

~~~~~

Random Noodling has the round up. 

Monday, May 11, 2015

Coming Up on the Radio


Wednesday, May 13th: In Omaha with Al Kresta, 4 p.m. central time

Thursday, May 14th: Morning Air on Relevant Radio, 7 a.m. central time

Thursday, May 21st: Spirit Catholic Radio, 8:35 a.m. central time

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Becoming

Recently, I was talking with another mom about children -- about almost-adult children, children who are on the brink of independence but not fully ready for it, children who are no longer children, really, but who will always be our children.

Our children don't always know, from graduation day* forward, exactly what they are meant to do, or to be. The world acts as if they should know ("I will graduate from high school, go to the college of my choice, then go to work as a ___________.") But most of them don't know. When I look back at what most of my friends in high school and college, including me, thought we would do with our lives, I realize that we didn't have a clue.

Moving forward, one shaky step at a time and trusting that all will be well is a lesson I've learned and relearned over many years. And it's a lesson I've tried to pass on to my daughters (though, like most lessons, it's also one they'll have to learn for themselves.) I had no idea, when I was a teen or a young adult, that I'd end up where I am.

When I was a young atheist, working in the world of business (does that sound like the title of a bad sitcom? "Young Atheists in Business!") I already knew that God liked dashing plans. I didn't call Him "God" back then. I called Him "fate" or "destiny" or "the forces at work in the universe" or "luck" or "karma" or "my crummy life."

I'd never planned to work in the business world and yet that's where I'd ended up. I hadn't planned to go to college, either, until my senior year of high school, but since I didn't know what else to do, and I wanted to be an actress, I decided to major in theater. Then I added an English major and a philosophy minor. I maintained a healthy distance from the business department (no offense to you, Business People, it just wasn't my thing.)

So, how did a Theater-English-Philosophy person end up donning matchy-matchy suits, getting a "Manager" title, traveling to Manhattan to visit clients, all the while feeling that she was an imposter who was good at playing dress-up?

Umm, I had to eat. And pay bills. And the acting jobs in Omaha, Nebraska weren't exactly rolling in. Neither were the novel-writing or philosophizing jobs. The fact that I preferred not to starve forced me to take the first job that came along. And because I had nothing better to do than work hard (and my obsessive-compulsive tendencies made me ultra-organized in the workplace), I got promoted and ended up on those business trips, marveling at things like seeing the Waldorf-Astoria from the inside.

While I was working and getting promoted and going on business trips, one day I was asked by a colleague, "What's your five-year plan?"

I almost spat coffee all over my desk because the question sent me into a fit of laughter.

"My five-year plan?" I asked, recovering from the near-choking. "What do you mean?"

"I mean," she said, "where do you see yourself in five years? Do you plan on working on an MBA? Do you still want to be here?"

Still laughing, I said, "I don't even know where I see myself next week. I certainly didn't plan to be doing this with my life. I can't imagine knowing where I'll be five years from now." And, because I regularly quoted lines from Casablanca, I added, "I never make plans that far ahead."

In a way, I still live by Rick Blaine's philosophy. When my colleague asked me where I'd be in five years, I would never have guessed that the answer would be, "In a small town, living the life of a newly baptized Christian." Or, that five years after that, my answer would be, "I'm Catholic."

Five years after that? "I'm homeschooling now. And -- oh, get this! -- my husband is now Catholic, too."

Nope. Wouldn't have guessed a bit of that.

I can make all the plans my organized heart desires, but God (as I now call Him) can force me into flexibility at a moment's notice.

St. Therese of Lisieux wanted to be a missionary, evangelizing the whole world. Instead, she was given a short, hidden life, full of mundane little tasks in the convent, tasks she learned to do with great love. And now, this Doctor of the Church is evangelizing the whole world through her intercession from heaven. It wasn't the way she planned it, though, was it?

We don't have a clue, do we? God is too big, too cunning, too crafty for us to outguess Him, dodge Him, or stay one step ahead of Him. Oh, sure, occasionally He lets us coast, thinking we're in control, but it's usually a set-up, because suddenly - bam! "Never saw that one coming."

Motherhood was like that for me. I didn't predict it, plan on how it would make me feel, and I certainly didn't know that I would one day say, "This is what I was meant to do."

Sometimes I picture God the Father nudging Jesus and the Holy Spirit, and saying, "Look! Aren't they cute, those little people We made? They try so hard to use all the faculties We gave them. Well, bless their unsuspecting little hearts. And prudence! Hey, they're actually trying to put it to use. Now, that's something a Father can be proud of. Huh. Sure will be hard to crush them when this plan falls apart [much nodding of Divine Heads at this] but, oh, well ... A God's gotta do what a God's gotta do, eh?"

And then, the Trinity often shares a good laugh at my expense, and turns me into things like a Catholic, a mother....

But, that's okay. That divine laugh usually shakes me to the core and then somehow rebuilds me from the inside out. Because that's what God is all about. Making me new.

"Behold, I make all things new." ~~ Revelation 21:5

And that includes my plans.

So, what's my latest five year plan?

To just keep letting God to make me new. Because I like surprises.

~~~~~

*I always feel bad for high school graduates. Everyone is asking, "So what's next? What are your plans? What do you want to do/be/become?" And most of them, if they were honest, would like to scream in response, "I have no idea what I'm doing! Leave me alone until the future reveals itself!" Hang in there, graduates. Get used to surprises.

Friday, May 08, 2015

Yup, It Kind of Does

Today's Tweet:

Poetry Friday: Spring (Again) by Michael Ryan

Photo: FreeImages.com

I want to post this whole, perfect little poem. As it is, I'm pushing the envelope of fair use by sharing two of the mere five lines of "Spring (Again)." It made me laugh because I go through the same thing every year -- startled by the insistence of the birds. Read it and be happy today.

Spring (Again)
by Michael Ryan

The birds were louder this morning,
raucous, oblivious, tweeting their teensy bird-brains out.
.....
(Read all five lines here, at Poets.org.)

The Poetry Friday round up is at Today's Little Ditty.

Tuesday, May 05, 2015

Bits and Pieces of Our Days

Ramona had her piano recital on Sunday and it was lovely and bittersweet. She did a beautiful job (not that I'm partial), but it was her final recital with this particular teacher, which saddens us because we love her. Kathi is really a strings teacher, was Betsy's violin teacher. But she also taught Ramona for as long as she could and now feels Ramona should move on to someone more fully trained in piano, because, she says, as a piano teacher she "doesn't know what she doesn't know." We have loved her for her gentle spirit, her generous heart, her passion for music, and her understanding of girls and all things pink and sparkly. We'll miss you, Miss Kathi!

~~~~~

Anne and Betsy's semester is almost over. Are they happy? Are they ready?
 
                     


~~~~~

Reading with Ramona: 

Still reading Anne of the Island together. It's taking us awhile because, just as we did with Anne of Avonlea and The Penderwicks in Spring, we are reading it only when Anne and Betsy can join us (which is a couple of breakfasts a week.) There was just a very painful proposal scene. Ouch. (Anne, stop being so stubborn!)

Library find: the new one from Chris Grabenstein. We really enjoyed Escape from Mr. Lemoncello's Library and we're finding The Island of Dr. Libris to be equally fun -- mystery, word play, love of books. And I get to do different voices for Robin Hood, Hercules, Pollyanna. Fun stuff.

~~~~~

My usual TV time, other than weekend date nights with Atticus (oh, Mad Men, how we'll miss you) is when I'm working out. Parenthood is my latest workout show. This show keeps making me cry. Is a workout more effective when one is sniffling?

Friday, May 01, 2015

Poetry Friday: Today, by Billy Collins

Photo: FreeImages.com

Ramona and I were at a park yesterday, and the air was charged with perfection.

Today?

Revel, run, repeat.

Today
by Billy Collins

If ever there were a spring day so perfect,
so uplifted by a warm intermittent breeze

that it made you want to throw
open all the windows in the house

and unlatch the door to the canary's cage,
indeed, rip the little door from its jamb,

(Read the whole poem here, at The Poetry Foundation.)

~~~~~

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

A Bookish Birthday Weekend


A new Mighty Bright book light from Ramona, Marmee and Louisa by Eve LaPlante from Betsy, Barbara Crooker's More from Anne-with-an-e, Sigrid Undset's Catherine of Siena and Anne Lamott's Stitches from Atticus, Undset's The Axe: The Master of Hestviken, Vol. 1 (and that lovely candle) from my sister. 

And thus grows the TBR pile. 

Happy, happy. 

Friday, April 24, 2015

Poetry Friday Explained

Renee LaTulippe tells you everything you've ever wanted to know about Poetry Friday (and she has the round-up!)

And you don't even need a poetry post from me today, because Jama Rattigan's post about Enormous Smallness: A Story of E.E. Cummings is to die for, as is that picture book. Beautiful!

Happy Poetry Friday!

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Tasting Cheeses or Seeking Jesus? (And Other Bits and Pieces of Our Days)

This morning, Ramona told me about a dream she'd been having as I woke her up.

Ramona: "You and I were tasting cheeses for a party -- "

Me: "We were seeking Jesus? For a party?"

Ramona: "No! Tasting cheeses!"

Me: "Oh. Well, okay. I didn't think mine made sense. I mean, He's always there anyway, so you don't really have to seek Him out for a party, but --"

Ramona: "Tasting cheeses." (Shakes head, moves on...)

~~~~~

Random Instances of Instagram:


Ramona said to Betsy, "Your toast looks like the 10 Commandments." 
Anne added, "It's the Toast Commandments." 



Ramona and I were at Hobby Lobby and saw this. 
Someone had written on chalkboard: "Help, my wife won't leave."



Happiness ... Working on a Van Gogh art project with Ramona & Betsy (Betsy's experimenting on us for her Art for Elementary Teachers class) while listening to the Wicked soundtrack.



Ramona's Easter nails. 

~~~~~

Recent Ramona: "If you kissed a stuffed frog, would it turn into a Ken doll?"

~~~~~

Recent field trip

Went to a dairy farm. 
Saw a calf born. 
("It's a boy!")
I may live in Nebraska, 
but I've never 
watched a cow 
labor and give birth. 
As my friend said 
that day, 
"I think we can check 
'biology' 
off the list 
for the whole year." 

Sunday, April 19, 2015

I Love Frank Fraser's Art!

So, awhile back I heard from Frank Fraser, a writer and artist and all-around creative dynamo with an impressive list of credits who has now gotten into the business of writing and illustrating children's books -- books that are all about God (because we know that books about God are much more lucrative than working for Disney, as Frank used to.) So, call me a sucker and a cheerleader for the underdog who has left the corporate world behind, or just call me a good judge of art for children. Whatever you call me, I can tell you this: when I first looked took a peek at The Bible Amigos: Five Loaves, Two Fish, and One Big Hat and The Bible Amigos: Jonah and the Bear on Amazon, I emailed Frank and said:

I have just been looking at your Amazon page, and I'm kind of in love with those illustrations!

and I added that

...my only concern is that you will add to my daughter's desire to acquire a pet hedgehog. 

I mean, look at these:


Look at how cute these guys are! They make me so happy! 




Frank sent a couple of books for us to look at and, yes, the three Bible amigos have indeed ramped up Ramona's desire to campaign for a pet hedgehog. (It's not going to happen, Ramona, unless someone else starts getting up with the dog when she wants to go out at 4 a.m. Until then, no further pet negotiations. And, there's the little problem that Frank pointed out in his response, that there are pesky postal regulations about hedgehogs....) 

These books are sweet and adorable, the stories are based on Scripture and virtues, and I am sold. I love them. 

(Frank and his wife, Terri, also have an Etsy page full of stuff, including more of Frank's art for children. My girls and I are fighting over who gets to keep the print above.) 

Friday, April 17, 2015

Poetry Friday: Richard Wilbur (aka, He Who Never Fails to Bowl Me Over)


Although I have often commented on him, Richard Wilbur doesn't need my blather. Here he is, simply being his perfect, poetic self.

April 5, 1974
by Richard Wilbur

The air was soft, the ground still cold.
In the dull pasture where I strolled
Was something I could not believe.
Dead grass appeared to slide and heave,
Though still too frozen-flat to stir,
And rocks to twitch and all to blur.
What was this rippling of the land?
Was matter getting out of hand
....

(Read the rest here, at The Writer's Almanac.)