Saturday, January 24, 2015

Toothless

     Fro is turning seven today. Seven.

     There was a time when that boy was only five, had holes in his jeans, dirt on his feet, and mouth of snaggly teeth.

     Granted, he still has holes in his jeans, and his feet are pretty dirty, but he has more teeth than he did. And he's certainly not five anymore, more's the pity.

     We've never bought into the whole story about the tooth fairy. For one thing, I don't think it was worth Mom and Dad's time to convince us that the tooth fairy was a real person. And around here, if you loose a tooth, you're not going to get paid for it.

     Still, I think there's a certain attraction in having loose teeth, especially for the little kids in our house. Fuzz, for instance, was a big one for regularly yanking out another tooth. Fro has been a close second. He's always had a mouth full of loose teeth and falling out teeth and holes where teeth have been. Currently he's growing out of that stage, but he still gets called Toothless by Dad every now and then.

     Tooth extraction in the Clan is fairly straight-forward and simple. Pliers are saved for the truly desperate and truly brave. Most of the time, whichever six-year-old that has teeth falling out gets to work them loose on their own. This involved plenty of tongue-poking, finger-wiggling, etc. These teeth, by the way, are saved in little plastic bags and carried around for a few days before they get lost. No Tooth Fairies involved as far as I know.

     Fro used to be one of the most toothless children in the Clan, but I think he's almost over that. Of course, having pulled all those teeth out, he has quite a few holes where the adult teeth haven't come in completely yet. But he's working on it. I think in a year of two he'll have a gapless smile. Anyway, he smiles just fine right now.
Happy Birthday, Fro!

Friday, January 23, 2015

The LEGO Monster

     You've heard of the Cookie Monster, right? I'm assuming you have. Either you're from that generation, or you have parents or grandparents from that generation. If you've not heard of him, shame on you.

     We have our own monsters here. The laundry monster comes to mind, as well as monster-sized vegetables. We have our fair share of cookie monsters, too, though they aren't blue and furry. And we have plenty of things that go 'bonk' in the night. But we've also got this other monster, the LEGO monster. He's a really strange sort of monster that lives in a cave in our basement. 

     And he happens to be my brother David. Why is David the LEGO monster around here? Because he's a huge LEGO fanatic.

     David has been a LEGO fan for years and years, ever since he was a little boy. Basically from the first time he ever got his hands on LEGO's, he was hooked. He's been buying himself LEGO sets for years. We now have many, many Star Wars sets in our house - although David isn't directly responsible for all of those. Mom and Dad have bought us LEGO's for birthday presents often. But there certainly is an overabundance of stormtroopers in our house.

     Still, David owns the most LEGO's, hands-down. He has several boxes of them in his room, including a huge, white plastic stacker full of brand new LEGO sets that he bought last year.
     But David doesn't just buy LEGO sets. He builds his own models. Without using instructions. I don't know how he does it. I certainly can't do it! A lot of the parts for these models come from our own personal stock of LEGO's. I'm going to guess we have 35 gallons of LEGO's downstairs, and when he's in the mood David can put together some impressive models in a few hours.

     His biggest LEGO model ever is a huge red and black spaceship. If you know Star Wars, I can tell you that it's very similar to a ship called the Radiant VII which appears for a few seconds in the beginning of Star Wars Episode I, The Phantom Menace. David came across some designs for it on a LEGO fan website, and decided he wanted to build one of his own, with a few adaptions and with his favorite color scheme. May I present the Variga, David's biggest LEGO model and his favorite LEGO construction that he's ever built.
     That. Is. A lot. Of LEGO's.

     David is very proud to be a LEGO geek. In the height of his LEGO geekery, he actually started his own LEGO blog for a while, though he had to stop writing because of a busy schedule. He's that much of a geek. Trust me, he really is. And today, he's 20 years old.

     And still geeking on.
Happy Birthday, David!

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

The Melon Head

     The girls and boys in the Clan are all pretty evenly spaced. For every few boys, there's a girl in there to break things up. But there is the one long streak of boys; 3 of them in a row. That would be the Melonheads, Tubby, Cob and Pete. And in case you were wondering, they're called the Melonheads because those three have some of the roundest of the round Clan heads. 

     Having a round head is just part of being in the Clan. We've all got them. It's our head shape. In some of us it's more evident than in others. David, for instance, has always had a more oval head, rather than spherical. But in the end, we're all got big round heads. Particularly the boys, because when you shave off all the hair, those heads look very round indeed.
Classic Clan melons right here.
     Like I said before, the Melonheads have some of the roundest heads. This was especially evident when they were only 4, 5, and 6 and had a lot of growing and stretching left to do.
     This picture is a really good explanation of why Tubby, Cob, and Pete ended up being called the Melonheads. Melons are basically what they've got up there on their skinny shoulders. So if you've ever wondered why they're the Melonheads, well, now you know.

     I have to say that I personally think Tubby has the biggest, roundest head of the three. I mean, just look at it.
     It's hard to argue with that much evidence staring you in the face. Tubby just has a big, round head - with practically no hair on it most of the time, which makes it look even rounder. Thankfully, though, he's just fine with how his head looks. It's never bothered him in the slightest, and he's always a pretty happy guy, except where math is involved. But give him some lasagna and a big black sword and he's good.

     And he's turning 12. Today.
Happy birthday, Tubby!

Monday, January 19, 2015

Birthday Week

     Birthday week has begun. There are three Clan birthdays coming in the next seven days. You got that right. Three birthdays. So it looks like I'll have to come up with some birthday posts really quick here.

     Birthday week actually kicked off yesterday with the winter birthday party. All the winter birthday boys had their birthday party at our house, unwrapped presents from grandparents, ate cake - all the good stuff. The winter birthday boys are David, Skinny, Tubby, and Fro. Skinny's birthday was actually on the 31st of December, but beyond that all the winter birthday boys have their birthdays crammed into one week.

     I don't think I'm actually prepared for birthday week. All those birthday meals, everybody getting older, not to mention having to sing happy birthday that many times. Plus I've got to come up with birthday posts. Those have become the bane of my blogging existence. I had no idea they'd be so hard to think up when I started doing them. But I've got a few days, and thankfully, the birthday week boys aren't too hard to come up with post ideas for. It could be worse. 

     So be on the lookout for birthday posts in the next few days. Your birthday week boys are:

David

Tubby

Fro

     And by the way, these three birthday people were unbelievably hard to get decent pictures of. Apparently none of them liked getting their pictures taken except Fro. I had to be sneaky to get nice ones of Tubby and David - and they should probably thank me for that, because the alternative pictures might have been embarrassing. You know, with a scarf over their heads or a finger in their nose. That kind of thing.

     Being their sister and the author/co-editor of this blog, I can do that if I want to. But I'm nice, so I won't. At least, not this time. But David, Tubby - you have been warned!

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

My Writer's Journey - The Story of 2014

It’s still January, right? So I can still post stuff about what I achieved in the previous year? That kind of material is still acceptable, right?

Whew.

Because the other day I realized I had a post I could write about some things I’ve accomplished over the last twelve months.

A few days ago, I was going though my folders and notebooks where I keep basically everything I’ve written on paper from whatever project I was working on. It’s quite a big stack of notebooks and binders and just pieces of paper that float around on the shelf until I decide to sort through it. And while I was organizing all of that, I found the paper handouts from my very first writing class, which I took a year ago from the day before yesterday. The eleventh of January.

So now seems like the perfect time to talk about how writing classes have helped my writing basically explode over this past year.

That first class wasn’t actually about the writing process - it was about publishing. But it was a start, and it did have useful information in it about some of the steps between sending a manuscript to a publishing company and holding your published book in your hands and signing autographs. There are a lot of steps, by the way. It can be daunting to think about, but since I don’t have a manuscript that’s ready for publishing or that I want to have edited, I don’t think about it often. Actually, the most important thing about my first class was that I survived it, it didn’t kill me, and I didn’t embarrass myself in front of a bunch of strangers. Those are all pretty important to me.

So I took a few more writing classes. To date, I’ve attended fourteen different writing classes. Some of them were offered by the local community ed program, others I took at a literary community in Minneapolis called the Loft. It’s a great place to meet with other writers and take really good classes on all sorts of writing related topics from some awesome instructors. I’ll probably be taking some more classes there this year, I just haven’t picked any out yet.

It was the writing classes that really pushed me to reach a little further than I thought I was capable of with my writing, and I started dedicating more time to writing and bringing a notebook with me almost everywhere so that if I had the time, I could jot down a little bit more on whatever I was working on. In this year alone I have filled three or four standard, 70-page notebooks just because I had them around and took the time to write down what I thought. And that’s something I wasn’t doing until 2014 when I took writing classes.

2014 has also witnessed a lot of other big steps I’ve taken toward making writing a very central part of what I do on a daily basis. For instance, I started this blog, and I’ve made it nearly 10 months now without getting bored and giving up. That’s progress! I’ve also got a second blog where I review books, and that blog has been a big help because it keeps me reading new books. And because I have to be able to review them, I analyze them and figure out what works and what doesn’t.

I completed the NaNoWriMo challenge in 2014 - write 50,000 words in a month (a post on my NaNoWriMo experience coming in the next few weeks). I’ve done a lot of the plotting, outlining, and world and character creation for three entirely different stories prior to that, particularly in the spring. And sprinkled throughout the year I’ve written on-and-off (mostly off, I have to admit) with writing friends on two different stories. Many, many thanks to David, Alaina, and Jayden Robyn for putting up with my inconsistent participation on those projects. I even had a poem published in a local anthology of poetry very early in the year, which was very exciting for me.

Looking back, I can see that in just one year, writing has become a very integral part of my life. I think that’s a pretty big achievement, and I’ve made some incredible progress in my writing. No, I didn’t finish any novels, but I’m much closer to having a real novel than I’ve ever been.

One of the biggest things that changed my writing habits is when I started to take that saying, “Write every day” seriously. It’s something that wannabe writers get told a lot, and I think that most wannabe writers kind of shrug it off. I certainly did. In the back of my head, I was thinking to myself: “Someday when I’m a full-time writer, I’ll have the time to write everyday. Writing will be all I’ll do all day! It’ll be wonderful!”

Yeah right. Turns out I’m a slow learner.

But in 2014 I learned that the truth is, the time I should be writing every day is now. I am a full-time writer today. I’m probably never going to have as much time to write as I do right now. Now is the time I should be taking advantage of my flexible schedule and writing as often as I can.

No, I don’t write every day. Not yet. But I’m a heck of a lot closer to it than I was an entire year ago.

And there are a lot of people I have to thank for that. The biggest thanks I owe to my parents, who have paid for my writing classes and gotten me to all of them and generally just encouraged me to do this. Secondly, I’m blessed to have a variety of writer friends who are willing to listen to my latest half-baked idea, talk about characters, or brainstorm plot ideas if I need it. Last of all, it has been no end of awesome to have an adult writer actively encouraging me to keep writing. Thank you very much, Jimmi Langemo, for pointing me toward the classes at the Loft, for advising me to get my hands on Story, by Robert McKee, and for being another reason to keep putting words on paper.


Since it’s January, and I’m looking back, I can now see that I’ve had an awesome opportunity in 2014 to write my heart out and learn so many important and useful things about writing and telling stories. And I think that I did a pretty good job of taking advantage of what 2014 had to offer. I’m sure 2015 won’t be the same, but hopefully its just the beginning of more amazing things to come. 

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Kingdom Animalia

     I have been living on this planet for seventeen years, and in that time I've drawn what I would say are some very important conclusions about life in general. One of the things I've concluded is that there are certain members of Kingdom Animalia that aren't groovy. In fact, to be completely honest, I'm not really fond of most members of the Animal Kingdom.

     But this post wasn't meant to be an encyclopedia, which is what it would have to be if I were going to catalog all the animals I really can't stand. So instead, I'll just list the ones that I do like, because that's a much shorter list.

     When it comes down to it, the only members of the Animal Kingdom that I really like are:
  • Well-trained dogs
  • Eggs
     And that's basically it.

     Probably this is a shock to most people. Here's a teen girl who lives out in the country, and the only animals she likes are dogs - well trained ones, to be precise! - and eggs. What about horses? Or chickens? Cats? Rabbits?

     Here are the facts. Yes, I live in a rural area (sorta). Yes, I live on the property where my grandpa used to farm. Yes, I do animal chores. And yes, those chores involve feeding chickens and cats and sometimes a few other animals. I've been in charge of caring for a bunch of pigs once before. If it came down to it, I can probably do whatever is necessary. But none of that means I have to love animals. And I don't.

     Sure, I don't hate animals or anything. Animals are great. I'm just not an animal person. 

     Why? No reason, I suppose. It mostly comes down to my preferences. I like to know what's going on, and with animals, especially big ones, sometimes you don't. And for another thing, I just don't like getting hurt. There are a lot of animals that are a lot bigger than me. And if it came down to it, they could probably stomp right over the top of me. I know that the chances of them actually doing that - especially if I yell at them a little bit - isn't very likely, but it's enough to make me nervous. 

     And as for the smaller animals, like chickens and cats and such, I know for a fact that they can inflict a lot of painful wounds in a very short time. I've seen about three too many crabby roosters in my time to feel much affection for chickens. And cats just plain don't follow any rules. I can like them from a distance, but up close - maybe not so much.

     Plus, animals smell really bad. To be blunt, they stink.

     They just do.

     If that offends you, I'm sorry. But nonetheless, it's a undeniable fact.

     I like well-trained dogs and eggs because they usually do what I tell them, and because I can predict what they'll do - pretty much. Every now and then those eggs will do something really surprising, but most of the time they're 100% predictable. *wink* 

     I like dogs who behave, don't chew on stuff, and don't bark all night. Dogs that will actually come when called and get out of the way if they're told to. Plus, eggs have the pleasant side-effect of tasting really good fried up with butter and potatoes, which is definitely in their favor.

     And that's the story. I am just not overly fond of nearly all the animals in creation. It comes down to pretty much those two. 

     Told you I wasn't normal.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Happy New Year!

     Since it's New Year's Day and people are trying to come up with resolutions for the New Year or whatever, I thought I would go along with that idea and do a New Yearsy post. One that's sort of about the new year and resolutions and goals for the new year. That kind of thing. It won't be quite what everybody else is doing, but it should be similar.

     I'm like my Mom that way. I can handle similar, but I'm not so good at doing stuff like everyone else does it. And personally, I'm just fine with that.

     So, my New Year's post isn't about any resolutions - which, by the way, I suck at coming up with and am terrible at keeping. I don't care for them. Hey, if I'm going to reform or try something new, why wait until the 1st of January? Why not just do it when I think of it - that's when I'm going to remember it, after all.

     Instead, my New Year's post is going to be about my newest skill. And that is - no, not ice-skating, ballet, or singing opera. (Actually, none of those things interest me, sorry. Find some other sucker.) 

     So what new skill have I just acquired? I just learned how to snap my fingers! 

     That is so cool!

     Yes. Yes, that is cool. Trust me. And it's something I've been wishing I could do for ages! I'm 17, and I couldn't snap my fingers until a couple days ago. That seems pretty messed up to me. So I am very excited that I've got it figured out now. It will take a little practice to be able to do it loudly enough to be heard across the room, but that's my next goal.

     Of course...now that I can snap my fingers, I'm going to have to work on keeping it from becoming an obsessive habit. There's nothing that gets on my nerves more than someone who just snaps their fingers all the time, without a reason or even knowing that they're doing it. Okay, there are probably a few things that annoy me more, but finger snapping is high on my list of annoying things. If the obsessive snapper turned out to be me...that would not be fun.

     So, learning to snap my fingers has presented a new challenge, but I think I'm up to it. The next thing I need to learn to do is whistle through my fingers. You know, the really loud kind of whistling you use to get the attention of dogs and wandering children. I've been wanting to be able to do that for years, so that's the next thing I want to cross off my list. I'll let you know if that works out.