Roll the Dice and Hope for the Best

 

cards and dice
Photo courtesy of “Alan” at https://www.flickr.com/photos/kaptainkobold/

 

Does anyone else feel a twinge of guilt when they read an article detailing someone else’s carefully crafted ‘writing routine?’

I feel that I must confess: I don’t currently have a set daily time to write.

I don’t have any more written on my second novel-in-progress than I had last week.

I don’t even have the notes lined up for the article on the WW2 ‘elephant company’ that I’ve been meaning to write for…how many months has it been now? (Though I DO have another overdue fee on the book…sigh.)

What I do have is the responsibility of raising three very small humans.

And let me tell you, while I wouldn’t trade that job for a dozen published novels, it has been a wild ride of late.

It feels a bit like one of the board games our family likes to play, except the ‘bank’ would have vouchers for free time rather than fake money, and the cards would look something like the following. (Note: I tried to make them look more like cards- then the youngest tried to use me for a jungle-gym and I gave up.)

You Shall Not Pass

The children have taken every toy they own and covered the floor. Give up one hour free time to supervise clean up. 

 

“Cat’s In the Cradle”

As you prepare to write, your child asks you to play with them. You are unable to resist. Give up one hour free time.

 

Vomit

Roll the dice. 

A 1 or 2 means that your child only vomited on himself. Give up 1 hour of free time. You may still have time to write while he naps.

A 3 or 4 means that it is projectile. Give up 3 hours of free time and get on that laundry.

A 5 or 6 means that it is a bug. Give up 24 hours of free time and hope you don’t catch it.

 

Nightmare

Your child awakes in the night, frightened. Roll the dice.

The number rolled indicates how many times they wake you up. If it is 3 or more, give up 24 hours of free time, as you will be too tired to be creative.

 

Doctor’s Visit

Give up 2 hours free time. 

Roll once for each additional child. A 1 or 2 means that they picked up an additional illness from the waiting room. Give up 2 more hours for each additional doctor’s visit.

 

School Event

Give up two hours free time to participate.

You may give up an additional hour to provide the baked goods that the teacher requested. 

 

Babysitter

Roll the dice

A 1,2 or 3 means the babysitter can make it! Gain 3 hours free time.

A 4,5 or 6 means she cancels. Too bad.

 

Shower

Your aroma is showing that you haven’t had much time for personal grooming. You may choose to give up 1 hour free time to shower, OR gain one extra hour free time and just ignore it.

AND, the grand finale…

Anniversary

Roll the dice.

A 1 or 2 means that you can’t get a sitter. Try to watch a movie after the kids are in bed. Fall asleep on the couch. No gain or loss of ‘free time.’

A 3 or 4 means you manage a date night. You are so relaxed and happy from time with your spouse that you are extra productive. Gain one hour ‘free time.’

A 5 or 6 means that you manage a night away. A month later, SURPRISE! Your family is growing. Give up all free time for the next 2 years. 

What cards would you add?

As for me, I’m going to go give my kids a hug and I’m going to enjoy the blessings of these crazy years while they last…

…and maybe, just maybe they’ll sleep tonight, and I can WRITE!

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Homesick

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I miss

the iron bones of Superior’s rocks

firm beneath my feet

holding me above the icy spray

 

The smell of tilled earth

below a sky stretching forever

fading to pastel dusk, the evening star

whispering possibilities

 

Far away

from fluorescents

disinfectant

weary bodies

resting  uneasily

to the perpetual shrill of beeping monitors

Phantom Otter

A flash of movement, a lithe, furry body rolling over in the shadows of the stream bank, a glimpse of a webbed foot- I stared, unbelieving. Then, I reacted like any dignified adult would.DSCN2494

“LOOK, KIDS! AN OTTER! A RIVER OTTER!”

Yes, yes, I know. It was exactly the wrong reaction when spying a wild animal at close quarters. (There may have also been some jumping up and down.)

My only excuse is surprise. We’d come to watch the salmon making their mass migration upstream. The huge fish were impressive enough- I wasn’t expecting bonus wildlife.

The reasons didn’t matter. The one glimpse was all I got.

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My attempt at a salmon photo. Completely otter-free. Sigh.

My ‘otter incident’ sums up my writing experience lately. Ideas surface, tantalizing ideas, good ideas.

I just can’t quite catch them.

Part of it has been timing. My site’s title is fast becoming a misnomer. ‘Naptime’ has nearly vanished from our house, and with it my one regular span of ‘alone time.’

Scores of ideas, sometimes even fully-developed articles and stories, swim through my mind while I’m driving the kids back and forth or fighting the never-ending battle to keep my kitchen counters visible.

By the time I sit down to write, they’ve swum right away again.

I’ve tried starting a little journal- when ideas come I can jot them down quickly. I have a respectable list of history and writing topics already.

The problem is, the ideas don’t seem quite as ‘shiny’ after they’ve sat a while.

Again, it’s like my otter encounter. Only a few hours later, I’m wondering if I actually saw him. After all, the salmon are close to the right size. They were rolling about through the waves, struggling to climb the fish ladder. Yes, the creature looked furry, but then some of the fish are looking a little rough around the edges by this point in their quest for a little fishy-style lovin’ before becoming food or fertilizer.

Maybe my amazing viewing…wasn’t. *

I find myself staring at the list in my little journal. Maybe my writing ideas aren’t either.

It’s easy to doubt. After all, my novel queries have only resulted in polite rejections- maybe I wasn’t as ready as I though I was. Family illness and friends’ struggles weigh heavily on top of my other obligations, and it’s hard to find words under that weight.

But…

Salmon do not have webbed feet. Otters do.

Some of my ideas aren’t going to go anywhere. Giving up means none of them will.

Life is heavy just now, but this is a season. Seasons change.

Writers, keep plugging away. Something wonderful might be swimming just below the surface, waiting for you to write it into being!

otter

What about you? Have you found any methods that help you keep creativity moving through the busy or difficult seasons?

Thanks, as always, for visiting!

 

*Amazing? Yeah, spotting new wildlife definitely fits into my definition of ‘amazing experience.’ I suppose it comes from the hours…and hours…and hours I spent in the car with my family driving around the old logging roads of northern Minnesota searching for moose or bear. (After a few hours, even the common white-tail deer were reasonably exciting!) We like our wildlife sightings 🙂

Sweet Stories

I had the best intentions.

I enjoy writing. I love my children.

How hard could it be to keep a journal of their milestones? How could I possibly fail to record the cute things they said, and the humorous little anecdotes of their early years?

The pile of blank journals available for use when I started writing stories again speaks for itself.

I’m terrible at keeping regular records. Even our photo albums fell off after the first child. (Yes, we are the cliché family. Millions of pictures printed off of the firstborn, and a few of the second. Wait, there’s a third?)

While I don’t have the detailed records I dreamed of, or even the basic ones that I thought realistic, my children’s little stories surface in unexpected places.

This week it was through birthday cake.

Since I have a difficult time seeing toys and gifts as anything other than future messes to clean, (not more Legos! Noooooooooo!) my husband tends to be the birthday shopper in the family.

My contribution is the cake.

I love to bake. Usually I focus on taste rather than appearance- fancy frosting and designs aren’t my specialty. For birthdays I make an exception. My children  come up with their design requests, and I do my best to fulfill them.

The cakes may not be professional or perfect, but I treasure these old pictures. Each design holds a story, a glimpse of who my children were.

My firstborn always expressed herself well, and had very specific wishes as a three year old. We had cats, so it had to be a cat cake. A pink kitty cake with blue frosting, and sprinkles.

I did my best.

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The frosting didn’t cooperate, but I was the only one who minded.

She grew, and the commercial world intruded.

My husband or I had brought home a DVD of some of the 1980’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles cartoons. Our little girl was an instant fan.

Still, just as in all of our games, she added her own twist- “I want a ninja turtle riding a tiger. In the snow. With gummy worms.”

cake

This year she requested a ‘Shopkins’ cake. This marked the first year public opinion swayed her- she became interested in Shopkins because of friends at school.

It also marks the first (though likely not the last) time that my children have gotten excited about something that I don’t understand at all.

“It’s food…with faces?” I asked her.

“Yes! Aren’t they cute?”

Cute’s not the first word that comes to mind…I’m not sure I like the thought of my food looking at me…

For her, I gave it a try.

shopkin cake

My son’s requests have been entirely different.

He’s loved vehicles and machinery since infancy. At three, the cake had to have motorcycles with roads and trees.

motorcycle cake

Next year he wanted vehicles again- airplanes.

airplane cake

I expected spaceships this year, but he surprised me.

“I want a cake with water.”

Water?

He loves the water. I almost had to carry him back to the rocks of the shore on his first beach excursion- he just wanted to wade, no matter how wet his tennis shoes got. He has added a river or lake to every scene in his National Park coloring book, including the desert and cave pictures, because “it makes them look better.”

It took a little imagining, but he was happy with the results.

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They’re supposed to be waves 🙂

 

My youngest is the animal lover. The others like animals, she adores them.

Hedgehogs are her favorite, especially her stuffed “Mr. Snuffles,” hence last year’s cake in her favorite color.

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This year it had to be a “fishy cake,” and she’s already planning on a polar bear for next year…but who knows? They grow and change and even a small thing like a birthday cake design marks the passage of time.

fishy cake

I love the little stories that these cakes bring to mind- memories of happy days that are receding too quickly into the past.

No, I haven’t got complete, detailed life-journals to hand to my children someday. I’m thankful that the memories, stories and glimpses of who they were survive even my poor record-keeping.

 

Have you encountered any little things in your life lately, things that brought up half-forgotten memories or moments from the past? Do you have tricks to keeping your family’s important memories close?

 

Finding and Losing Time

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“Put me in your hair,” says my baby, (who isn’t anymore, really.)

“What? Put you in my hair?”

“Put me in your hair, because I’m a flower!”

She proceeds to attempt to climb onto my head as I laugh and try to preserve my spine.

She’s spent the summer weaving dandelions into my hair and tucking them behind my ears.  From time to time she tries to keep up with the ‘big kids,’ but generally she’s content to wander along her own path, inhabiting a hidden world of imagination.

And she still wants me to come along.

The others run off together to play games of their own invention, only interrupted sporadically by sibling squabbles. I love to see them grow and bond, and to hear the elaborate stories they create together. I enjoy regaining time to follow my own pursuits.

Still…

The time I’ve gained is bittersweet. They’re moving beyond me.

This one, the last, stands at the foot of the rocking chair as I begin the article I planned for today, and smiles sweetly. “Mommy, will you play with me?” (She uses perfect grammar, but always in that irresistible baby lisp.)

I hesitate, then sigh. There’s so little time…

“Ok, honey.”

Her eyes light up as if we hadn’t played together in weeks. (It’s been about fifteen minutes.) “Oh, thank you!”

The dandelions are all going to seed, and the summer is waning, and next year my baby might not want to put flowers in her hair and mine.

The article can wait.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Miracle

We thought we’d lost him

As I stood before the room

Of shining morning faces

Who didn’t understand

Why Teacher’s went pale.

 

Driving to the clinic

I pulled over

When the sobs came too hard.

Dear God, please. Not this.

 

Waiting.

Barely breathing

Until a flicker of light-

A tiny heart’s flutter-

Shone in the dark.

 

Our miracle.

ultrasound