Jan 22, 2013

I Remember When...

For writing prompt #2, find an old photo album and turn to picture #14.  Look at it for 2-3 minutes, then write down for 10 minutes all of the feelings that photograph made you feel.  Don't censor yourself, just write. (From the website creativewritingprompts.com)

"Do you have the ring yet?" I asked my fiance again.  He was living in Logan and I was down in Provo, working at my new career that I had just started a few short months earlier.  Our wedding date was quickly approaching, and we had scheduled to have our engagement photos done that weekend.  I was terrified, because I still didn't have my beloved ring yet.  Spencer was determined to buy that ring with cash in hand, and I was terrified that I couldn't get engagement pictures taken without a ring.

I don't remember what his vague response was, but we ended up going for a drive, and found our way to the Provo temple.  I knew it was coming.  We didn't typically walk around the temple grounds in the evening.  We found a bench and sat down, talking quietly and enjoying each other's presence.  It was in this position that we suddenly heard a woman exclaim, "Excuse me!"  We turned around, and saw a woman approaching us.  "I'm sorry to bother you, but do you happen to have a truck?  I really need help getting a piece of furniture moved, and I had a feeling you might have one."

Yeah, lady.  That feeling you got was right.  However irritated I was, my sweet Spencer said, "Sure!" and jumped up to help.  There is nothing more attractive than a guy willing to help, and I was grateful for his willingness.  We ended up wasting--I mean--spending a good hour helping, then eventually returned to our spot.

"She almost messed up what I was going to do!" he laughed nervously when we were back on our bench.

"What do you mean?" I asked, playing dumb.  This was it!

Spencer suddenly got down on one knee and pulled out a ring box from his pocket.  He held it open for me, and asked for me to be his wife.  While I knew it was coming (I practically forced him to give it to me for the past few weeks), I broke into laughter and tears, bending down to hug him.

"So, is that a yes?" he asked.

"Yes!  Yes, yes!"  I laughed.  I held out my hand and he took it, gently placing the ring on my finger.  Holy cow, it was gorgeous!!!!!  I could barely take my eyes off of it, and anxiously thrust it into my roommate's face when I got home as she and her long-time boyfriend cuddled on our couch.  She actually scowled when she saw it, shot a death-stare to her boyfriend, and I happily bounded into my room.  This couldn't have come at a better time, because the next day, we were getting our pictures taken by my good friend.

I remember wandering around BYU campus, finding the perfect spots to take our pictures.  We found some great places, and then made our way to the Provo River trail, where we took even more great pictures.  It was exhausting, exhilarating, and I was so proud as cars and others passed us.  I was finally the one getting married, and it felt great.

Picture number 14 in my album was the one of Spencer and me sitting on a bench by the bell tower on BYU's campus.  It was the picture we used as our engagement photo, the one that was slipped inside each gorgeous burgundy-lined envelope.  It was the picture that didn't even show my engagement ring, which had caused me so much stress the weeks before.  Picture number 14 was the beginning of a beautiful life together, one that I will always remember.

Jan 21, 2013

Write-A-Day Challenge

In one of my past posts, Empty  I wrote how I had the desire to write, but didn't know what to write about.  A great website was referred to me, and I am going to try my hardest to write one prompt a day.

Creative Writing Prompts

Day 1:  Close your eyes and think of an object in the room and focus on it.  Without opening your eyes, recall as much detail about it as you can.  After 3 minutes or so, open your eyes and write about that object without looking at it.

In the darkest corner of my living room stands a grandfather clock, tall, proud and majestic.  Its pendulum has stopped swinging since 4:36 this morning, and the slender, golden weights are resting at the bottom of the clock.  It needs to be wound, but I often forget.  Somehow, I'm bothered by the job of pushing the minute hand around and around the clock until I reach the correct time, and so I wait until the time is the same as when the clock stopped.  It usually stays this way for several days until I happen to catch the time just right.

This clock with the moon and ship that slowly, ever so slowly, sail around and around with the passing of time has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember.  It was in the house where I grew up in, and it was given to me when my parents upgraded to a newer model just a few years ago.  Its simple color and design are nothing compared to others, but to me, it represents a wonderment that I carry with me from childhood.

The door to grandfather clocks has always fascinated me.  It's long and narrow--just tall enough for a child to step through.  I pictured it opening up to another world, and as a child, I frequently saw myself stepping into it and finding myself in another place, although I was never brave enough to step inside.  I suppose I wasn't ready for magic, nor am I to this day.  I like to think that it's still possible, that hidden behind the glass and the frozen pendulum is a gateway, leading to who knows where.  I'm too afraid to find out.  I only hope that one day, one of my children are brave enough to step into the beyond, and tell me of the adventures that I've sadly missed.

I remember listening to scary stories on tape that my father recorded in the 1970's, usually on stormy nights with the house lights off.  Mom would be away, and it was just Dad and us kids.  One story's ghost seems to linger, though my mind feels thick with cobwebs as I try to recall it, and I'm uncertain of anything except that a clock kept chiming and a ghost made its presence known.

One night, when the children were sleeping and I was lying in bed, waiting for my husband to return home from work, I suddenly realized that the clock had been chiming for some time.  I often don't notice it, having grown accustomed to listening to it as a child, but on this night, it suddenly caught my attention.  One...two...three...I counted along with the chimes, waiting for it to stop.  How many times had it rang out before I kept track?  I reached twelve, anxious for it to end, but still it continued, over and over again, as if a doorway to a ghostly realm had just been opened.  Would it ever stop?  Was my house being possessed?  I frantically called my parents, anxious for an answer.  I was instructed to remove the weights.  As I lifted one from off its chain, the clock continued to ring, echoing loudly as the sound reverberated from the cherry wood and glass.  I took the second weight down, fearing that the clock would scream all night long, but then only the ringing from my ears was what was left.  Never before had I felt so scared about a clock.  Ghosts don't exist...but this night tested my belief.

In the corner of my living room sits my grandfather clock, older than me, yet just as magnificent looking as I remember from my childhood.  Whether or not it's a doorway to the beyond doesn't matter; what matters is that I believe in the possibility, and with that possibility is a magic that will forever remain with this clock, stuck for the time being at 4:36 with the moon-face knowingly smiling back at me.

Jan 18, 2013


It is said that a person who is drowning isn't typically flailing their arms around, catching everyone's attention, but slowly, calmly, sinking, head bobbing up every so often for air until it completely submerges.  Right now, I feel like I am drowning in my life.  Nothing significant is causing me to flail around frantically, but the everyday undertows of motherhood are slowly pulling me under.

I've written before of my woes of having a 2-year old, and I had sort of hoped that they would be lessening by now.  Oh, it is so NOT the case.  While Jarod's communication is improving (using 2 or 3 words instead of "Uh!  Uh!  Uh!"), he still fully takes advantage of his volume.  When he doesn't like what he has to do, he releases this shrill, ear-piercing shriek that sounds identical to those screaming fountain fireworks that most cover their ears for.  The only difference between him and those is that those eventually die off.  His screeching lasts all day long, pulling at my nerves and twisting them until they are completely shredded, and I have lost all sense of self-control.  When he's angry at his brothers, he screeches in this awful, high-pitched squeal, sounding identical to a piglet's screeching.  My head hurts, my spirit hurts, my willpower hurts.

Telling Jarod "no" is about as useful as sweeping leaves inside a tornado.  "No" to a 2-year old is just interpreted as, "Whatever you're doing, do it quickly before I stop you."  All day long, I'm turning chairs over to prevent Jarod from climbing up and turning on my kitchen sink full blast.  All day long, I'm shutting the door to the bathroom so Jarod doesn't play in the sink and cause a swimming pool on the floor.  All day long, I'm telling him to turn off the TV, to get off the table, to get out of my bedroom since he's playing with my radio at full-blast.  I'm chasing him down around the van when I'm desperately trying to get Jacob to school on time, I'm re-zipping his coat, pulling his pants back on, putting his hood back on that he screams when is off, but insists on pushing off anyway.  He's throwing toys at his brothers, smothering his baby brother with hugs, throwing toys down the heat vents, screeching, squawking, and causing all sorts of mind-blowing havoc that I've lost the ability to control.

If it were just one boy, I might be able to handle it, but I've got FOUR boys.  And two cats.  My boys thrive on noise.  The louder it is, the better.  I feel like I'm trapped inside a cage of screaming monkeys.  No matter how desperately I try to solve problems, send them into time-out, and scream desperately for them to be quiet, it is all to no avail.  Pirate growls, whining, tattling, screaming, blaring music and the cacophony of three different singing chipmunks flood my home constantly.  And then there's my cats, always wanting to eat whenever I put the bowls up to the safety of the counter tops, peeing on my towels, on my books, in my bathtub, and driving me crazy, crazy, crazy.  Is there no end to this madness?

I always thought I was a calm person until the strains of motherhood hit.  My first son didn't sleep for the first YEAR of his life.  I never knew irritability until I was denied my precious sleep, and kept awake with a crying, inconsolable baby.  I never knew irritability until I had two boys, then three boys, and then four, fighting for the spotlight, fighting for toys, fighting, wrestling, whining and tattling.  I never knew irritability until I had finally gotten everything I ever wanted from life:  a husband and children.  The only problem was that I pictured a big, beautiful house filled with quiet, obedient children and a cat who stayed out of my way.

Sometimes, I think to myself that if I had to do life over again, knowing everything that I know now, I most definitely wouldn't repeat it.  Being a mom is the toughest thing I've ever had to do.  But then, on the other hand, it's the most wonderful thing there is.  I know that I'm growing, even though I feel like I'm faltering and drowning.  My heart  belongs to many instead of just myself, and the love that I've grown is immense.  Holding a new baby, smelling the sweetness of his skin, listening to the calm rhythm of him drinking is incredibly wonderful.  Hearing "Hi, Mama, Mama, Mama!" from my two year old, and getting his arms thrown around me in a tight embrace is one of the sweetest things, only getting better when he says, "Kiss, Mama," and feeling his wet lips press against mine.  I love hearing those rare words at dinnertime from my 4-year old, "Wow, Mom, this food is doo-licious!" and when I come out of the bathroom after getting ready for the day, and he says, "You look so beautiful!"  I love the feeling of appreciation when my 6-year old draws me a card with a picture of the two of us, with a heart drawn on it.

Nothing is greater than the love of a child.  Despite their faults, their noise, their chaos, and the millions of gray hairs they have given me, I absolutely, without a doubt, love my children.  They are greater than the world to me.  I love their smiles, their laughter, their shining eyes, and their rough, often-dirty hands that wrap around me daily.  Being a mom is tough, and probably will be the hardest thing I've ever had to do.  But despite the downfalls and insanity of motherhood, I think that it is one of my absolute greatest blessings.  Someday, when the kids are gone and my house is empty and clean, I know that I'll be remembering these crazy times, and I'll probably be laughing.

Jan 15, 2013

Never-ending Cycles

Just as the sun rises every morning and sets each night, so it goes with the rest of life.  Cycles are eternal, and make up just about everything, from the phases of the moon to the behavior of society as a whole.  But just as these macro-level cycles are unchanging, so are the cycles that make up my singular life.  I'm referring to the cycles of motherhood.

It doesn't matter how many times I shout, "Jarod, don't turn on that T.V.!" because I very well know that he's going to do it again for the 100th time for the day, despite any punishment I may have given him.  It doesn't matter how many time outs I give my older two children, because they're going to keep on arguing, keep on whining, and keep on tattling.  It also doesn't matter how often I pick up the cat food so my 1-year old Caleb doesn't make a huge mess, because as soon as those bowls go on top of the counter, that's when my cats decide that they're finally ready to eat.  And, just as all cycles repeat themselves, once Caleb spots the bowls in his territory, he makes a beeline for them at supersonic speed.  I'm getting really sick of stepping on pieces of dry cat food all day long, no matter how frequently I sweep the floors that day.

Doing dishes is another unwanted cycle that I wish would somehow end.  After finally catching up with the dishes that some had been waiting around all week for me to get to, I have to cook dinner (seriously, again?!), and something always comes up that prevents me from washing them again for another week.  It's like there's an alarm system in my children, where each time I pick up my soapy scrub brush to tackle a dish, I have to suddenly throw it down to stop a fight or pick up a crying baby...or relieve myself, which I suddenly remember I've been putting off for hours now.  And then, by that time, I've lost that small window of opportunity.

I'm stuck in a relatively new cycle where I'm tired by 10:00 p.m., but I can't bear the thought of giving up my free time to waste away in bed...sleeping.  Who does that?  I'm so used to waiting up for my husband to come home at night around 11:15 p.m. that I've forgotten that I really need to go to sleep instead, because he in fact comes home much later than that now, and my children wake up MUCH earlier than he ever will (which, of course, means that I'm the one waking up).

Newton's Law of Motion says that an object in motion stays in motion, unless an external, unbalanced force acts on it.  Cycles are pretty much the same.  It takes a significant step in stopping one, or altering it in any way.  Next year, I'll have two children in school, one in Kindergarten, and the other in all-day first grade.  My two year old will then be three, and my baby will be entering the terrible twos.  I'm not sure if the school thing will be enough of an unbalanced force to break this cycle, or if two years old supersedes everything else.  I'm have a feeling two is more powerful than...well, the at the rate things are going...everything else.

Jan 14, 2013

Diamante Poetry

Back by popular demand, I decided to add more diamante poems.  This seems to be my most viewed post, so I figured maybe I should try my hand at a few more.

Diamante poems are pretty simple to write.  You choose a one word topic, and that becomes your first line. The last line of your poem is another one word topic, but one that is opposite of line 1.   Line 2 is two words to describe line 1.  Line 3 is three -ing verbs, and then there's line 4, which is a bit trickier.  There are four nouns:  the first two describe line 1, and the other two describe line 7.  Line 5 is three more -ing verbs, this time describing line 7, and line 6 is two adjectives, also describing line 7.

Adjective, adjective
Verb, verb, verb
Noun, noun, noun, noun
Verb, verb, verb
Adjective, adjective

Another type of diamante poems is where lines 1 and 7 are synonyms.  I will give an example of each type of diamante poem, to give you an idea. 

My other diamante poems

Antonym Diamante poetry

Cold, happy
Rolling, building, dressing
Hats, gloves, cone, candy
Melting, slipping, falling
Warm, sad
Ice cream cone

Synonym Diamante poetry

Best friend
Funny, kind
Laughing, whispering, sharing
Secrets, dreams, hopes, fears
Loyal, eternal


Jan 6, 2013

Character Development

As I was walking on the treadmill (a miracle in and of itself), I found a notebook that I had left on it, which kept track of my pace/calories burned, etc.  I flipped through the notebook, and found several ideas for a picture book series.  I read through the ideas, and I was excited about them (which is always a good sign after a long period of time). One of those ideas I had tried getting published, but, of course, it didn't work out.  I couldn't understand why, because I thought it was my best work.  However, I realized that my character wasn't memorable...or even likeable.

You know those Little Critter books?  My book's voice had a similar quality...which, I stupidly thought, meant it was good enough to be published.  But as I walked, I remembered my time at the LDStorymaker's Conference and the class I took on character development.  A story isn't worth re-reading if you don't feel connected with the character in some sort of way.  "Olivia" is a character that parents can relate to since children are as erratic as she is.  Clifford the Big Red Dog is memorable, because, well, he's big and red.  Amelia Bedelia is hilarious, Winnie the Pooh is adorable, Dennis the Menace is the obnoxious neighbor that many are familiar with, and just about any other character you read about has something about them that makes them stand out.  My character had nothing.  In fact...I didn't even know who (or what) my character was.  I was so busy writing my book in the voice of Little Critter that I hadn't bothered figuring out his identity.  (Little Critter, by the way, was constantly getting into trouble, though the words of the book never actually said so).  I had some serious brainstorming to do.

In a way, I felt like I had an advantage since I had young children.  What attributes did my children have that I could use for my book?  Jacob talks.  All the time.  Gabriel freaks out if his sandwich drips mayo, and Jarod can't go ANYWHERE without his blanket, "Dee."  I thought, and I thought, and I thought, trying to figure out how any of these would work for my book.  It was getting pretty frustrating, because nothing seemed to be anything that would make a story character stand out from all the rest.  I tried to think of any and all personality traits.  Quirky?  Annoying?  Talkative?  Troublemaker?  Which ones haven't been used already?  And then suddenly, an idea struck.

I finally had my character's personality!  I guess it's more like a flaw, but if I can create it right, it should hopefully be humorous.  One of the things about picture books is that it is meant to be read out loud, and parents are the ones who will be reading them.  The book needs to appeal to both the child and the adult, which is actually kind of a challenge.  I never really realized how much adult appeal a picture book has to have until my dumb brain finally relayed that information back to me that it selfishly kept to itself all this time.

Anyway, once I figured out the personality, it was time for a character sketch.  I read somewhere that you truly have to know your character and love your character before others can know and love them as well.  Whether or not it's needed, a basic background is needed on them.  If you know and understand your character and their circumstances, then writing them will become natural, and the reader will recognize the dimensions of their personality as well.

Because I have four boys, it only seemed natural that all of my story characters be young boys, since that's basically all I know right now.  But with my hopefully brilliant personality trait I had assigned my character, I realized that a boy was just all wrong.  It needed to be a girl.  I named her and I even gave her a prop (because, obviously, my books are going to be big, and they're going to sell plush toys representing my characters, and I needed something irresistible).  I wrote a brief background on her, and now, I'm feeling confident in who my character is.  I'm actually really excited to be writing about her!

The challenge that I now face is incorporating my character into the book ideas I have already outlined.  Since I'm not a seasoned author, I guess I'm a little apprehensive about whether or not I'm forcing a character into a place where she may not fit.  Writing is definitely a lot of work.  It's a bit intimidating, but I'm hoping that I can start filling my nights with the creation process once again.

Jan 1, 2013


Sometimes, I am overflowing with the desire to write.  My mind feels alive, and my stomach dances with excited anticipation.  There is something so liberating about opening up my laptop with just the quiet of the night ahead of me.  And yet, this vast expanse of opportunity suddenly sucks me in, and I sit, waiting apprehensively with my fingers positioned on my keyboard, lightly rubbing the bumps on the f and j key as if they will somehow stimulate my fingers to type.

Even now, as I sit to write this blog, the word evades me of what I am experiencing.  Emptiness?  No.  Road block?  Ah...writer's block.  I've got it big time, but I'm already sitting here, desperately wanting a piece that will inspire, or take me away on an intense journey.

I've come to know my style of writing, and it's really not that impressive.  I read the works of others, and I am simply blown away.  How did they choose that gorgeous word?  How is it that their sentences are so flowing, so meaningful, and so witty?  It's almost as if I'm comparing my mirror image to theirs.  I know that everyone speaks differently, thinks differently, and writes differently.  But shouldn't my own writing leave me breathless?

It doesn't matter how many creative writing classes I take, I'll never get to where I want to be unless I read.  And that's my problem.  I immerse myself in the lazy realm of television, demanding to be entertained and enriched when in reality, I'm rotting.  I want to write, but I'm too lazy to read.  I don't want to sit and read what others have created; I want to become the creator.  I want to find in my books that cold, dark, dusty castle that I can wander around in.  I want to meet the ghosts that others have met, I want to laugh the way others have laughed.  But for right now, all I can write about is the life I know, the thoughts I think, and the experiences that I wake to live.

There's a million things that I should be doing right now, like dishes, laundry, or picking up the toys that I'm pretty sure a tornado dragged across  my house.  I should change my sheets, hang the towels, and pick up that dumb plastic bag that I threw outside with the kitty litter and poop inside.  But I don't want to.  I'm sitting here, typing, praying that an idea will spark, and that I'll go to bed feeling satisfied with myself, as if I finally managed to do something productive today.

Writer's block is a painful symptom to have, especially on nights like this when the desire to create is overwhelming, but I'm helplessly staring at the blank white page.  Am I trying too hard?  Is there really nothing worth writing about?  I guess it's like going on a walk with no purpose.  You don't get anywhere until you start moving.  Maybe that's my problem.  Maybe just typing, getting my fingers moving, getting my brain thinking is the beginning I need to fill up my empty page.