Monday, November 29, 2010

Celebration Time!

Yep, I did it. I just completed it and sent it off. It's done.
My fingers are in need of some desperate rest because I did a typing marathon at a sprint speed the last five days and they are just not doing what my brain is telling them to do.
Tomorrow I'll post about what I've learned from this insane month of novel writing. But, for now...I'm off to READ a book.

So, are your fingers panting for breath right now, too?

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Just Being Thankful

Thanksgiving Day is ending for me for this year (I live in Asia).  Today was one of those days that tested my "thankfulness". I know, I's Thanksgiving and I should be SO thankful. So, here is my spin on all the "not so thankful thoughts" that kept popping up.  Here it goes....
1. My husband is in S. Korea. Yes, he left the day after the bombing. He is there for a conference.  But, I'm so grateful because, well...I'm thankful for oovoo and skype. I got to oovoo chat with him and see his handsome face. And thankful that things seem to be fine there. God's protection and MY peace.
2. In the shower with suds in my hair and our doorbell rings. No JOKE! Marcus tells me it is our building security man with a package.  Thankful for a helping Son and Candy Corn, fun magazines. And my kids are thankful for all their little gifts, too! (Thanks all who put that care package together!)
3. It was raining this morning....not drizzle, but downpour. And I "got"to walk in that rain with my three kiddos in tow . So, I'm thankful for umbrellas, raincoats and a stroller with a good rain cover.
4. I'm WAY behind on my NaNo writing....but, I'm so thankful for all that I've learned so far. AND, for the fact that I have the next few days to spend countless hours when kids are sleeping to write and not feel guilty because I'm not spending the quality time with the Husband.

Matthea's First Thanksgiving Meal...she's eating
Pumpkin Pie here and LOVIN' it!
And because of all the "taking captive" of my thoughts this day, I became thankful for all the other blessings in my life.
*Invitation to a Thanksgiving meal with a bunch of awesome friends who are so encouraging and uplifting in WORD and DEED!
*Pre-baked sweet potatoes: For pics check out my friend's blog b/c she posted about this same thing too.
TIP, after you buy the pre-baked (or after you bake them yourself) let them cool, then refrigerate or freeze with skin until you need to use them. They peel SO easy this way!
*Matthea's feeding tube removed last month.
*Megan's progress in Chinese language and how she makes me smile listening to her sing in Mandarin and sometimes in Taiwanese.
* Marcus' help while Uwe is gone(note #2) God's blessed me with this young guy (and with my two little girls, too)
*A warm apartment....I haven't had to turn on electric heaters yet. =)
*Friends: from my past, from my present, from home, from here, from all over the world, from my blogging world, from my "real" world. I am so thankful for you all!
*God...who took a small mid-west girl and transformed her into something she thought she'd NEVER be able to be and that HE still continues to work in her life DAILY with PATIENCE, PATIENCE, did I mention PATIENCE? He seriously is so patient with me...for that I'm so grateful!

May you have a blessed Thanksgiving today with your family and friends wherever you are!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Flattened Frogs and Critiques

A frog eye in its protruding eye socket, close up.Image via Wikipedia
A few nights ago I was walking around the track with a good friend. We were chatting away when I noticed this blob on the ground. It was a flattened frog. You know the sun dried kind that is shriveled up.  I didn't want to interrupt my friend, so I stepped over it.  But, as I walked the next lap I began to question myself. Was it truly a frog? On the track? In the city?
So, the second time around, I looked a bit closer. Which is quite hard when you are walking fast and talking. I still didn't say anything about it to my friend.
I did get a better look of it.  I was sure it was a frog.  How did it get there? Who stepped on it? Gross!
The third time around I told my friend. I thought I had better kick it off of the track so we wouldn't have to watch for it every time. We stopped walking and looked at it.
It was a piece of dirt in the shape of a flattened frog. Ya, I should have worn my glasses. 

What's this have to do with critiques?
1.  Take a good look at your manuscript. Slow down. Put it away for a week or two and revisit it. Whether it is 500 words or 50K, make sure it is in good shape before you ask someone to critique it.  I looked at that "frog" twice, but I did't slow down to look at it.

2. Ask people to read it.  Don't assume you don't need anyone to critique it before submitting to a magazine or agent.  Don't be shy of having someone read your work and give you feedback. Don't be prideful and think you can do it on your own.  Most, if not all, published writers have at least 1-2 critique partners.  Remember that critiques are there to only make your story better. If I hadn't asked my friend to stop and inspect the "frog", I would have been stepping over it for the rest of our walk.  

3. Use the critique ideas.  Strengthen your character, clarify relationship, stronger plot...whatever is suggested.  But, remember you do have the right to not make all the changes. *But, remember pride in #2.
Had I not agreed with my friend, I would still believe the dirt clod was a flattened frog.  

4. Give Thanks!  Be thankful for those who took time out of their busy day to read your story or article.  Tell them "Thank-You".
I sure was thankful my friend was willing to slow down and even stop to look at the "frog".

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Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Coming and Going...Life as an Expat

Today I'm not posting my WIP..mainly because I've not done a whole lot. On top of a busy weekend, the Son and Husband were sick.  They are feeling better, but today I'm feeling it, but no time to be sick 'cause I have to take Matthea to see the surgeon for hopefully the last she has ST and PT today.  So instead of complaining, below is a fun post.

Every year  living overseas has its hard's usually at the end of a school year when one must say "Good-bye" to dear friends who are moving elsewhere in the world. This IS a yearly event. Not fun. During those times, I have to remind my self that it is not "good-bye", but a "see ya later".  For in fact, I will see many of them again. It may be in heaven. Or it could be for a weekend or a night or for even a few hours.  Expats move around. They travel.  They go places.  And they usually find people they know to visit with at every stop.  This is what I love.
 I love it that someone may FB me or call and say,
"Hey, I'm coming to Taipei for the weekend, want to get together for coffee?" (YEAH!)
Or "I have an overnight in Taipei, can I stay with you all?" (Of COURSE!)

Cindy came this spring and stayed with us. Taken at Taipei 101!
Heather came by Taipei for the weekend with her kiddos...spent an hour
with her catching up! That was just this weekend! 

Manuel gave a lecture at NTU last week and stayed with us this weekend.
Good family friend of Uwe's (and now mine! *grin*)
And more are coming this weekend for the day. I'm pumped because, well, more reminders for me this summer...that it isn't "good-bye", but a "see ya later".

Do you have people in your life that seem to come and go?  How do you deal with the "good-byes"? (I tend to deny, avoid, then cry buckets of tears...)

Monday, November 15, 2010

Camping in Taiwan: New Iron Horse Park Campground

This past weekend we camped out with the Cub Scouts Pack 23.  We've been a part of this pack for the last three years and have only repeated a campsite once (and we go camping twice a year).  There are some really great kid friendly campsites near Taipei.
New Iron Horse Park was no exception.  This small campsite is nestled between a hill and a stream. Outlining the campsite is mountains with rows and rows of tea bushes. Lots of tea is harvested in this area and you can watch them make tea oil at various places.
At the site, there were wooden platforms for your tent to sit on and the bathroom facility was simple, but clean.
The nice thing for us was that there was a pavilion that we were able to sit under and eat while it rained. It also had lights, so that gave us a place after the sun went down to hang out and play games.  The camp manager also let us have a campfire in the middle of the site.  Many times campfires are not allowed, so having one made me like this place even more. Of course, there was singing and s'mores around the amazing blazing fire.

We will be heading back there sometime in the spring when the weather warms up.  We are thinking the kids will love to hike up the stream. There is also a nice bike path that looks easy enough for us to manage, so we'll be doing that as well after the winter passes by.

Here are a few pics that I took while there.  If you want to check out more pictures you can go here. For directions click here.  

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Thursday, November 11, 2010

Homeschool: Let's go to the Zoo!

These past two weeks have been slightly chaotic.  I could blame NaNo. (btw, I'm 23,000 words or so from the 50,000 goal)
 Or hospital trips for all THREE kids. (ear infection, foot fungus thing, and feeding tube removal...and I still have two more visits in the next two weeks...*pathetic sigh* don't get me started...(=  )
Or the fact that EVERY weekend is booked with some huge family event....does anyone else out there feel that train speeding up out of control yet?
Anyhoo....last weekend some friends came to visit and we took them to the zoo. So, Matthea and I looked at some zoo animals and made some crafts.  She made two of each so we could revisit Noah's Ark...

I traced a giraffe from an online coloring page. Matthea cut brown pieces of paper and glued them on.
We dipped the side of a pop-cycle stick into black paint and printed the strips.
Got the idea from Kids Craft Weekly, even the zebra drawing!  
The Ark now with two sets of animals...we may add more throughout the year.
Cognitive:  We've been working on matching lowercase to uppercase letters...still on a-d.  With numbers we are recognizing 1-5 and now I'm adding #6.  Also focusing on the concept of two.  The other is learning "inside" and "outside" concepts. I had big plans for the last two concepts, but will use them next week and take some pics of how I did it then.

Social: We are working on taking turns in playing simple games. We do this during family time with her siblings, but mainly with me. We've played a few fun games and she is learning.  Right now her favorite game is a bead threading game from Germany called Fadelraupe or in English it's Thread Caterpillar.  It's a great game for color learning, taking turns, and threading beads.

Fine Motor:  Scissor cutting, which we did for the giraffe; using the fingertips to hold and grab...she had to do that with the printing zebra activity.  And we continue to drawing circles and lines. This week our hot water heater started leaking, so we got a new one (one thing I love about being a renter...not having to pay for the new heater) and I let her draw all over the box.

Getting started with her drawing.

Gross Motor:  We are working on stairs, using one hand on the rail going up and both coming down.  Also, lots of jumping going on in our apartment. Thankfully, our downstairs neighbors our out of town for a bit, and are very gracious when they are home.
Then we used the box for a tunnel.

She crawled round and round in it for about fifteen minutes only because...
this was more fun!
Until the box gave out completely. =)
Speech:  We met with a ST last week and have changed Matthea's speaking cards to more simple words....words with a vowel ending.  She still struggles with some blends like "moo" and "boo", but she really tries hard. It'll come.  And her favorite speech activity is horn therapy. We switched to a horn that has a windmill that spins if you blow on it correctly. That is always fun.

 Hope everyone has a great weekend....I'm packing for an overnight camp out with the Cub Scouts and my family.  Praying it doesn't rain...

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

NaNo...week 2

Postings are choppy and very random this month because I need to stay focused! =)

WIP: Work In Progress
Otherwise known as NaNoWriMo.  I'm doing ok with my word count, I think.  I'm at 18,760 words when I stopped last night.  I wasn't able to write this past weekend and won't be able to write this weekend either, or the, early mornings and late nights for me to push this through. But, so far all is good. Coffee is my best friend right now.  At the end I'll post what I've learned during my first NaNo experience.
PiBoIdMo is going ok, too.  I'm at 12 ideas and it is day 10, so I'm hanging in there. But, again, this is harder than it sounds.  I'm still so thankful for the daily prompts from other authors that is blogged about.

QBR: Quick Book Reviews
1. Moxy Maxwell Does Not Love Stuart Little by Peggy Gifford
Who does not love Stuart Little? I had to find out why Moxy didn't like him. He'd been with her all summer - she was suppose to read the book over the summer. But, isn't there always some distraction for anything you have to do? (like NaNo?) Same for, easy upper elementary read.

2. Bud, Not Buddy by Christopher Paul Curtis
This book made me laugh out loud in the hospital lobby. To read more about it click here.

TGC: Tips, Giveaways, and Contests
Tip:  Comes from my 9 year old. The Son tells me the best way to up my word count is to write "do not" instead of "don't" little cookie, ya think?  Bless his teacher's heart. HA!

I don't really have any contests or giveaways to report this week. I did win one though. I will be receiving Audra Harders' book Rocky Mountain Hero when it comes out in January.  This contest comes from Seekersville...thanks so much!

Btw, Mom, I'll let you read it first if you want before you mail it here. ;)
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Thursday, November 4, 2010

More Giveaways...and NaNo/PiBoIdMo

Wednesday I forgot to mention how I was doing with PiBoIdMo (Picture Book Idea Month)...well, it is the start of Day 5 and I have six ideas.  I like that they have a daily post from published authors to help stimulate ideas from. That has been helpful.
As for NaNo...I'm a little over 8K...I'm going to try to get to 12K by the end of the day.  Why killing myself on my birthday?  Well, this weekend is my birthday weekend bash...sort of. Saturday we are heading to the zoo (not planned for my birthday, but I'm declaring it as if it was).  Sunday my husband is going to make breakfast for me and he and the kids are going to make a cake.  Then we are going to a friend's house for see, I need to write like a crazy woman today so I can play with a clear conscience this weekend with my family.
Yes, today I turned...the big 36 (and I was graciously reminded that I'm over half way to 70, which confused the youngest who asked if I was 80...hmmm, I still love her!)
So this morning, I got hot chocolate mixes from the family...milk chocolate, mint chocolate, caramel kisses, and french vanilla...all go really well with coffee. =)  But, the best just happened seconds ago.  Hubby "forgot" his bag for work and had to come home for it he said on the phone. But, when he got here he informed me that he had taken a personal day to watch Matthea this morning so I could WRITE!  And then this afternoon he has sitters lined up to help out so we can go out on a DATE! I'm almost in tears...seriously! He is WAY too good to me.
But, I mentioned Giveaways in the Title...sorry, I'm not giving away my hot chocolates...but telling you about other blog giveaways. So here they are...

1. Marcia Hoehne is giving away another book...Clementine: Friend of the Week by Sara Pennypacker. Click here for details.

2. Two of a Kind Working on a Full House has two giveaways that I want to mention. Both are DVDs;
The first if for Barney's Fairy Tales. Click here for more details.
The second is for Veggie Tales It's a Meaningful Life. Click here for details.

Ok, I need to finish getting ready so I can'll catch me at Mr. Browns or Starbucks...I'm the one acting out scenes behind the laptop.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

WIP: NaNo Fever!

WIP: Work in Progress
Well it is NaNoWriMo Time!  I have had to slow down today because of doctor appointments (which Matthea is healing slowly, but still ok. We see Dr. again on the 17th), feeding the family, and now am just waiting for the Son to finish his homework and get to bed. Then I can pour a cuppa tea and enter "NaNoLand".  It's best if I can enter when all is quiet in the house. And tonight is especially quiet...the hub is out working and the two little lassies are in bed asleep. YES! (now if they'll just stay that way tonight)
I'm a newbie at NaNo and feel fairly good about the first two days.  I ended day two with 5090 words. But, is that because I'm a fast typist or winded with words. Time will tell as I plod along the path of my storyboard.  Yes, I thought I'd be a little organized for this event. Check out the tips section because this week's tip is on storyboards.  And I found it to be very helpful in planning. It has been quite useful already keeping me focused and going forward, not sideways or backwards.  Here's a picture of what mine looks like. Yes, it's sticky tacked up to the wall.  
As for getting out the other two magazine articles...well, that just didn't happen.

QBR: Quick Book Review
Just Grace Walks the Dog by Charise Mericle Harper was a fun quick read that I'd let my 3rd grader read. Although he probably wouldn't because the MC is a girl. Great illustrations that helped show how Grace tries to convince her parents that she is responsible enough to own a dog.  They even build a life-sized one out of cardboard and tape him to a skateboard to take on "walks". 

Sheep by Valerie Hobbs tells the story about Jake a sheep dog that looses his parents as a puppy and goes from one owner to the next. Some are good and some are mean.  He ends up at a ranch that does not have sheep-but orphan boys.  He meets Luke here at this ranch and finds a friend and a home.  

The Shakespeare Stealer by Gary Blackwood is a historical novel for YA. I liked this book quite a bit. I'm not into theatre, but liked the history part of it.  If you want to read a full book review on this book click here.

TGC: Tips, Giveaways, and Contests
Tips today come from Ali Cross.  She had two very great tips that have helped me start this NaNo writing mania. They were on storyboards and based on the book Save the Cat by Blake Synder.  To read this two part series click Part 1 and Part 2 to read more.
1. Angelina Ballerina Nutcracker Sweet DVD.  Click here for more details. 
1. Ali Cross is giving away The Lost Hero signed by Rick Riordan!  Click here for a chance to win!

And the Boy is ready for a few minutes you'll find me in Nanoland....
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