Monday, August 25, 2014

First Day of School

So, summer is officially over for us. My kids went back to school today, and I have to admit, it is bitter-sweet. On one hand, I am sooo excited for a little less noise and chaos (and definitely less electronics!), but on the other hand, I am not looking forward to early mornings, packing lunches, or homework.

Every year, I have big dreams for how my children will look the first day back to school. In my mind, they look like this...

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Or even this would be cool...
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                                      But, in reality, this is how they would rather look...

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Or they would be happy in this...


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                 Obviously, a little compromise was in order. And this is what we came up with...

My middle-schooler looks thrilled, right?

The two youngest aren't going to school today, but still wanted
to wear backpacks. 

I guess I can't complain. They turned out pretty cute, right? It isn't the J. Crew-catalog-perfect-kids-look I hoped to see, but I'll take it!! 

How was your kid's first day of school? Any fun outfits?

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Summer of Awards

This has been a great summer for me, not because I've necessarily gotten a ton of writing done, but because I've been nominated for a couple different awards from fellow bloggers that I admire greatly.

I've been saving them up, so I apologize if this turns out to be the longest blog post ever! Here goes...

A BIG thank you to the amazing Crystal Collier for nominating me for the Versatile Blogger award. For those of you who don't know Crystal, you should! She is so talented, not only as a writer, but as a singer, composer, name it, she can do it! Soulless, the second book in her Maiden of Time trilogy is set to release in October.

With this award, I am required to list seven random facts about myself, and then nominate 15 other bloggers I've recently started following. So, here you have it:

7 Random Facts:
  1. As much as I think I'm a social butterfly, I'm really just a homebody. I love to be home with my family.
  2. My favorite dessert is ANYTHING with chocolate.
  3. I can play UNO like a pro.
  4. Growing up, I read Nancy Drew, the Babysitter's Club, and the Sweet Valley Twins series like they were going out of style.
  5. I've always loved writing, but I was inspired to start writing my first novel years ago after reading the infamous vampire series written by a truly talented author who is a mother to all boys, like myself. 
  6. I used to love riding roller coasters, but now, they just make me sick. Instead, I watch my kids ride them and that is twenty times better!
  7. I love to laugh.

Blogs I Nominate:

1. Heather Belle—Heather is a fun blogging buddy I recently connected with because we have so much in common!
2. Charity Bradford—Even though I've known Charity for years, I'm a recent follower of her blog. As my mentor in this publishing process, I can't say enough good things about Charity. She's awesome!
3. Heather Holden—I love Heather's blog and her webcomic Echo Effect. I can't get enough of Coco and Nicholas!
4. Elizabeth Seckman—I'm sure Elizabeth has been nominated for this award dozens of times, but she is such a fun person and I've enjoyed getting to know her through blogging. And hey, us mothers of "all boys" have to stick together!
5. Mark Noce—One of my first followers when I started on this blogging journey, Mark is a great blogging buddy and a very talented writer. So excited that he recently got an agent for his manuscript!
6. SA Larsen—Sheri is simply amazing. One of the nicest people in this blogosphere, Sheri is always available for an encouraging word or uplifting comment. 
7. Madeline Mora-Summonte—This amazingly talented writer awed me with her A to Z challenge theme, and now, I keep going back for more.
8. Cortney Pearson—I found Cortney in this big, beautiful blogosphere and immediately connected with her honest, heartfelt writing. I'm so excited for the release of her debut novel, Phobic, coming out in September. Congrats, Cortney!
9. Sherry Ellis—If you haven't visited Sherry's blog, you need to! Her posts about the humor in mothering are Hi-larious! 
10. Aditi Kaushiva—Aditi's blog is another one I found during the A to Z challenge, and I was immediately captivated by her raw, beautiful posts titled Shades of Life. 
11. Mark Koopman—Mark is the funniest person and the most entertaining blogger out there. I always know I'm sure to get a good laugh when I visit Mark's blog.
12. Lori MacLaughlin—A fantasy writer, Lori is one of the sweetest people in the blogosphere. She was one of the first people I "met" when I started blogging a few months ago, and she immediately welcomed me with open arms. Lori, you're the best!
13. Kyra Lennon—Kyra is a very talented New Adult author who came up with a brilliant theme for A to Z—diary entries of characters from her current WIP. So cool!
14. Stephanie Bruce—Stephanie is a good friend outside of the blogging world, but she's also an amazing blogger. She's one of the those super crafty people who can make anything, and her blog is full of fun DIY projects and yummy recipes. Love ya, Steph!
15. Emily King—I recently started following Emily, and although I know she's busy moving to Utah, I look forward to reading more of her posts and her journey as a YA author. 


Moving on to the next award, my good friend and mentor, Charity Bradford, nominated me for a Liebster Award. Thanks, Charity! Charity is another one of those talented writers and mothers who can do it all. From singing to decorating cakes, she is amazing! Check out her blog to find out more about her.

**Although I am deeply thankful for the award, I will not be passing it on this time. I received a Liebster from the wonderful Lori MacLaughlin not too long ago, and for fear of being redundant, I've decided to answer Charity's questions, but not nominate other bloggers. Sorry!! 

Questions from Charity:

1. What's your favorite season of the year?
I would say fall. I love that the air turns chilly and the leaves change colors. Fall reminds me of apple picking, pumpkin carving, wood-burning stoves, and high school football games. 

2. Would you rather know when and where you will die or keep it a secret?
Keep it a secret. I would hate to have that hanging over my head. 

3. What's your biggest pet peeve?
Okay, this one will be a little gross, but it's the truth—when my boys pee on the toilet seat. 

4. What do you think is your greatest strength?
Friendliness. I believe the simple act of a smile goes a long way.

5. Your greatest weakness?
Impatience. I wish I had more patience with my children.

6. When you get in the reading mood, do you look for books by genre or author?
Whatever I can get my hands on. Sometimes by author, sometimes by genre, but I really like it when I get recommendations from friends.

7. Do you still own a camera? Or do you rely solely on your smart phone?
Oh yes. I still have a camera. It takes much better pictures than my iPhone, and I can zoom and do all this fancy stuff. It's a great camera, if only I could figure out how to use it to its capacity...

8. What is your greatest possession?
My family.

9. Chocolate or Vanilla?
Do you even need to ask? Chocolate, of course! :)

10. What's your favorite childhood memory?
I have two:
  • Playing in the ditch near my house (even though I would get in trouble when my mom found out) and playing TV tag in the summer with neighborhood friends.
  • Summer nights at the cottage—roasting marshmallows, staring at the stars, listening to music on the beach.

11. What drives you to keep pushing forward when exhaustion or insecurities strike?
Hmm, this is a tough one...I know I have the potential to be what I dream—a published author. I just tell myself that it takes time and perseverance (and good writing, of course!) That and the desire to make my parents, children, and husband proud. 

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

IWSG August—Productiveness

The first Wednesday of every month is reserved for the Insecure Writers Support Group (also known as the IWSG). If you are interested in joining this awesome group where we post our insecurities, triumphs, fears, and failures, as well as offer encouragement to fellow writers, you can sign up HERE. Created by the amazing Alex Cavanaugh, IWSG is a wonderful group to be a part of.

I'm not feeling insecure this month as much as I'm feeling downright unproductive. I had high hopes at the beginning of the summer—lofty goals, if you will, but somewhere along the way, those dreams and hopes of getting a lot of writing and revising done, were dashed.

Why you may ask?

Maybe because I have five boys running around the house in need of my time and attention. And food. Lots of it. (It's amazing how much these boys eat and they aren't even teenagers yet! Talk about messes!)

Or maybe because I keep putting things off...

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So while I could feel frustrated for not getting as much accomplished as I'd hoped, or I could feel disappointed because I missed the Writers Digest Conference in NYC because I couldn't get my YA novel ready in time to pitch to agents, I decided I'm not going to focus on what I haven't done. Instead, I think I'll focus on what I have. So, here goes...

  • I wrote a story for a Girls Camp (ages 12-18) and I am going up there this week to read the story to them while a very talented dancer performs a lyrical dance to the songs that inspired me while I was writing the story. It's kind of a cool performance. 
  • I hosted a week on Unicorn Bell and did author interviews. 
  • I spent a week in Georgia at a family reunion with my hubby's family. Very fun.
  • I took my kids to Virginia to spend a week with my family at my parent's cottage on the Rappahannock River. They had fun kayaking, boating, tubing, finding soft-shell crabs, and playing in the sand. 
  • I've nursed my son who broke his arm a little over a week ago when he fell backwards off a fence. He just got his cast yesterday and chose the Carolina Panthers colors—blue with a black lining. 
  • I said good-bye to a dear friend who has been by my side for the past nine years. She and her family moved to Utah and it was hard to say good-bye to them. We have laughed together, cried together; celebrated birthdays, holidays, and the birth of our babies; taken trips and had countless playdates and dinners together. I miss her already.
  • Cheered for my boys at their swim meets (while sitting in the hot sun and dealing with an active toddler).
  • Designed and decorated our playroom (still an on-going process—before and after pictures to come).
  • Went to an exclusive Olive Garden menu reveal for media/bloggers and experienced 11 courses of deliciousness (review and more info to come soon).
  • Set up several playdates, had lots of pool parties, entertained my kids, fixed dozens of meals.
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Hmm, so looking back I realize, maybe I haven't been as unproductive as I thought....Still, here's hoping August will be a better month for writing and revising. My goal is to get my YA novel ready for my critique partner! 

How is your summer going? Have you been more productive than I have?