Friday, February 29, 2008

"Hey, Sis!"

Today I had a "luncheon" with Marybeth. At least if you call chicken nuggets in the McD play area with 4 kids "luncheon", then that's what we did. But we did have a fabulous time talking houses, schooling, and writing. I love that God has so richly blessed me with friends here that are such a big help and fun to hang out with.

Almost as soon as we left McD, my phone rang. The caller ID showed a "+1999" number and my first thought was, "Great, sales call." I answered it and, lo and behold, it was my little brother. Calling from Iraq. Wanting to know if I'd help him and his teammates out with their Eng 101 homework.

You see, several of them are starting an on-line English course in a few weeks. So in between missions where my baby (a broad-shouldered 6'4") brother is riding on top of a humvee shooting at insurgents, they'll be parsing sentences and writing essays.


After assuring him that I'd be helpful while trying not to bleed red ink too badly on their papers (especially since one is his staff sergeant), we had a long chat about his upcoming leave, rank, reports, writing, my girls, jeeps, college, career plans, and who knows what all else. I don't hear from him too often when he's deployed so it was nice to just talk. And then I started thinking...

1 day.

2 conversations.

Same topic of writing, but two such different situations.

Now that's surreal.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

"Mommy, I have a problem"

Today was just one of those days. The kind where everyone is out of sorts and can't seem to be happy no matter what.

This morning was bible study, so we got everyone dressed and out the door, but not before the bickering started. Before we'd made the 10 minute trip to the church, the girls had declared they were no longer sisters and had, in fact, begun to deny each other's existence at all.

After classes were over, we settled back in the car and the girls picked their argument up exactly where they had left it off a couple of hours before. Sigh....

Through lunch and a run to the bank to deposit yet more girl scout cookie money, it just got worse. For the sake of my last nerve, I instituted martial law and demanded absolute silence for the rest of the trip home.

Once home, things cleared up some and an uneasy peace was reached only by limiting the interactions of my sweet daughters. After awhile, we packed up for a trip to the post office with a promised stop at the mall to spend a Build-a-Bear certificate. Both girls put on their shoes, loaded their cannons, and let each other have it before we'd even made it out the door.

So I called off the trip and sent them to their rooms. Because no one should have to put with that.

While in her room, L decided to do some reading and ended up with most of the books from the bottom shelf of her bookcase scattered on the floor. Being the responsible little angel that she is, she decided to put them all back. Then, naturally, dissolved into wailing sobs when it proved a harder task than she liked. I heard her from the living room as she cried and I could barely make out the words, "Mommy! I have a problem!" I walked to her open door and saw her sitting on the floor working hard at those crocodile tears. She never even turned to look at me as she continued her fit.

It struck me how often we do exactly the same thing. We see a task that needs to be done, so we jump in head first. Soon we are overwhelmed as we realize that our own strength and ability isn't enough and we start crying out for God to help us. Unfortunately, we're so busy wallowing in self-pity that we never turn our heads and open our eyes to see that God is standing right there with us the whole time. Once we do see Him, we expect Him to jump in and solve our problems, completing the task for us. If He chooses, like I did, to help by teaching us how to do the work ourselves, we fall back into our pity party feeling betrayed because God didn't just fix it miraculously. We can't see that it's far better to learn by doing and experiencing the hard things than to simply be rescued.

And that's my deep and profound thought for the day. Thank you, thank you very much.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Digging out from under the *stuff*

Today I finally took the mess by the horns and got serious about digging out from under all the clutter that has taken over my house while I was busy with my writing contract. Unfortunately, it was complicated by the fact that *of course* my allergy thing has made a right turn toward Sinus Infection Land. Did I call the doctor today? Of course not! Because I felt far too bad to make the decision if I was going to drive all the way uptown to visit my regular doctor or find another one closer, pick up the phone, make an appointment, drive over there, entertain 2 rowdy kids while some PA looks up my nose, drive over to the pharmacy where I am again required to entertain said children, then drive home again and wait for the meds to kick in. It's much easier to whine and complain here.

Where was I? Oh, right! The cleaning.

So I started in the kitchen and bribed the children with double chore money if they would please clean the living and dining rooms for me. Then I tacked on their bathroom and they happily went to work. I finished the kitchen and swept and mopped all the floors, so we're well on our way to cleanliness again. Now to get all this laundry washed as I think we're out of clean towels and I know someone will want to bathe soon. At least I hope they will.

I also took advantage of the beautiful weather yesterday and cleaned out the trash dump known as my minivan. The girls LOVE car cleaning time, in spite of their disappointment that I had no intentions of spraying them down with the water hose when I rinsed the van - it wasn't that warm. We emptied it, wiped down all the surfaces and PRAISE BE TO GOD put the huge, bulky car seats out by the dumpster. K insisted that weigh them both yesterday and we discovered that while she has only gained 5 pounds and is still a few pounds away from the "magic number" to go without a booster, L has gained over 8 pounds and is now heavy enough for a small booster! You should see the look of glee on her face as she climbs into her own big girl booster. L has absolutely shot up recently, growing so quickly that I can't keep that child in clothes and shoes anymore. She fits right into my...vertically blessed family.

I'd post a picture of the girls in their boosters, but that would require actually going somewhere with them. And my clogged sinuses just aren't up for all that. Besides, my house is looking good and I'm basking in the Pine-Sol glory of it all.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Whew! Spring!

Remember how I waxed poetic about the "first blush of spring" (why, yes, I *do* have a Barbie Fairytopia fan in my house! If you recognized that quote, I'm assuming you do, too!)? Oh wait, I was going to wax poetic, but I was in the middle of a crushing writing deadline and I had to condense it down to one uninspiring sentence. So just imagine that I wrote such a beautiful ode to the first pink blossoms of spring that you wanted to pack up and move out to NC.

The pink blossom percentage has increased so that we have beautiful blushing trees all around. My favorite daffodils are showing their sunny faces and I've heard rumors of tulips. Within the next week or two I intend to pack up my minivan with snacks and children, shut out all thoughts of the atrocious price of gas, and make the drive down to the zoo and botanical gardens where I can bask in a bright array of various strains of daffodils to my heart's content. I intend to borrow Mr. at Home's good camera and invite every single one of my friends and probably a few strangers to enjoy the beautiful side of spring. After all, carpooling can save on that gas money.

Because, you see, there's the not so pretty side of spring, too. Every person I know is currently suffering from coughing, sneezing, and congestion. When the weather is almost 70 one day and in the 40s the next, then back to the 60s the next, can mess with all those delicate body systems. And then there's the fact that softball season started Saturday and we will now be devoting 2 nights a week and every Saturday for the next 3 months to practices and games. Even if Mommy and Daddy aren't too crazy about the crazy schedule, K *loves* softball. K *lives* for softball. K *never stops talking* about softball. We really all enjoy the sport and are ecstatic that we only have 1 kid playing on 1 team to shuttle to evening practices - woohoo!

We dove head first into the deep end of the softball thing on Saturday and got a not so pretty glimpse of our lives for the next 3 months. This was Saturday.

8am - get up and get ready for Skills Day at the ball field. Planned to swing by the sports store for cleats on the way since Target doesn't carry the *pink* cleats in big enough sizes.

9:15 - Finally get out the door with all the necessary equipment and children. No time for the big sports store, so we make a quick run in WalMart who thankfully has the right size in something K will wear.

9:45 - Pull into the parking lot and head to the field. Which is empty. Which ought to have been busy with the U6 crowd who had their time slot first. Wonder around, chat with a couple of other confused parents, and finally talk to an official-acting person who said the fields are too wet and we've been postponed to 1pm. Make him call the bigwigs to verify the time. Oops! It's 12:30.

10:30 - Go to Bojangles for brunch and take our own leisurely time. Get a call that the Skills Day time has been changed (thanks for calling 30 minutes *after* it was supposed to start!) to 12-something that sounded like 12:50, maybe 15, so we'll get there early. Go to a couple of stores to waste time, then Mr. at Home gets a migraine. Race to take him home, then head back to the field.

12:15 - Get K measured for her uniform then the girls wander out to the outfield for a warm-up before the 12:30 start. Meet up with 2 moms from last year and talk while the girls get put through their paces and try to keep an eye on L, who is playing on the playground with some other little girls. ("She's from China like me! Her name is Abby!")

1:30 - Done with Skills Day! Head over to the mall to give Daddy more time to get over his headache.

2:50 - Run home, let the girls in the house for Daddy to watch, and race to my hair appointment.

3:15 - Get the most fabulous haircut I've ever had. I had no real plan or style in mind, but I happened to see another stylist with a really great haircut that was exactly what I didn't know I wanted. About the same length as mine, same hair texture, and my stylist is the one who gave the other lady her cut, so she knew exactly what she was doing. Totally lucked out.

4:00 - Quick stop at Target where the pants I've been wanting for 2 months are now on clearance, then race home.

4:30 - Get ready quickly for a dinner party. Check email where there's one from the softball league who says the U8 Skills Day time was changed to 2-4. Hah! This is not giving me good vibes for this season.

5:00 - Load the girls in the van where we drop them off at our friends' house who have graciously come to our babysitting rescue, swing through the grocery store for a cake since when did I have time today to bake?!?, then finally sit and relax and enjoy an evening of hanging out with 30 of my closest friends.

I was totally exhausted after all that, but it's still a huge sense of accomplishment to get so much done in one day. I mean, clearance prices AND a fabulous haircut all in one day? It just doesn't get any better than that.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

I am going to fall flat out any moment

Why am I going to fall flat out?

Because of this.

Do you know what that is?

It's a book. With stories by 50 authors.

1 of those 50 is me.

Can you believe it?!?

People can actually go to Amazon and buy something I wrote!!!

(I'm not doing such a good job of convincing you I can write with my one sentence paragraphs, am I?)

And when you read in the description "Sometimes hysterical and sometimes heartwarming...", just know that my story is on the hysterical side. Waaaaaaay over on the hysterical side.

Stay on target...stay on target...

I am *this close* to being DONE with my little writing contract - woohoo! Most of it is written and turned in, but I still have plenty to keep me busy until tomorrow's deadline. My feedback from the company has been very positive and that's been a nice ego boost. It's felt good to flex my mad writing skillz, but I'm totally ready to get back to normal life. I hadn't realized how busy my life really is until I added another 30 hours of work a week to my normal workload.

So after tomorrow's deadline passes and the last 12 of 60 pieces has been submitted, I'll be back to my normal chatty, bloggy self!

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

WFMW: A Kid Friendly Lunch

Why I Homeschool Reason #465 - I don't have to pack lunches!

Ok, that's not entirely true. I do have to pack a lunch periodically and I still have to make lunch everyday. Chicken nuggets and french fries are usually a hit, but my youngest has an irrational dislike of easy stuff like sandwiches. Fortunately, I have a secret weapon that will get even my picky 4-year-old to down that sandwich and LIKE IT.

Behold! Sandwich-on-a-stick!

Slice up the bread and meat into 1" squares and stack them up with cheese cubes. Spear them with a frilly or sword-shaped toothpick and toss a bunch of them in a sandwich bag. What was just a plain boring sandwich is now the coolest thing at the lunch table. You can also do this with fruit and it never hurts to throw in a princess or pirate napkin.

To see more Works For Me Wednesday tips, visit Rocks In My Dryer!

Monday, February 18, 2008

April in February

Today obviously stole the weather from April as it was *gorgeous* outside.

And as any kid knows (or maybe it's just my kids) the slightest bit of warmth in the air means summer! And shorts! And spaghetti straps! We had to pull out some of the boxes of warm-weather clothes and K found a pair of shorts and a sleeveless shirt that she soon traded for something with sleeves. It wasn't *that* warm! L was insistent on a dress, but we could only find one in the hand-me-down box and she can't wear it without a slip. I guess size 5 is when K was in the middle of her "I hate dresses!" phase. At least I now know that both girls are going to need some new clothes soon.

We started with school out on the back porch, where we had to spend some time cleaning all the chairs from a winter's worth of dirt and grime. After about half an hour, we had to come in as it was simply too windy. We finished our work and headed out the door with Mr. at Home for the park.

Along with the entire population within a 50 mile radius.

Seeing as Saturday is Skills Day for the softball league, we brought our gloves and balls and headed to the soccer fields for (a parking spot) some practice (the softball fields are being worked on). Have I ever mentioned how much K *lives* for softball? Mr. at Home and I very quickly realized that we're way old and way out of shape for all that work :-) We spent well over an hour on catching, throwing, and batting and even L got in on the action with her little glove learning how to do alligator catches and frog hops (where you have to move to one side or the other to stop a grounder). It floors me that she missed the cut-off for tee ball by only a month as I can't imagine her being able to concentrate enough for an organized game.

After having enough of the whining and complaining (from those pesky grown-ups), we packed up the softball equipment and let the girls play on the playground. Miss L is absolutely fearless now and scrambles up the tall climbing wall to reach the dark, curvy slide. She did come over crying at one point because some 5-year-olds had called her a baby (because, you know *5* is so much more mature), but she got over it. Even K was admitting that she was tired when we finally headed home.

On the way home, I saw the first pink blossoms on a few trees. And I forgot my tired legs and smiled with satisfaction that spring is really on its way. Because, if you didn't know, spring around here is breathtakingly beautiful.

I did *lose my mind* and promise to take K out for practice again if the weather stays nice this week. And I will. If my stiff hips, sore legs, and spaghetti arms will let me. At the very least I'll get to see a few more blossoms.

Friday, February 15, 2008

A Call to Compassion (con't)

When you've read those links from my last post, you can add this one to the list.

Don't forget that box of kleenex. And if you're sitting in Monkey Joe's, free-flowing tears might earn you a few strange looks. Not that I would know anything 'bout that.

A Call to Compassion

I think I've mentioned here that a couple of my favorite bloggers are currently in Uganda on a blogging trip with Compassion International. Yesterday one blogger told about a little boy she met who talked about his sponsor here and today one of the bloggers had the chance to meet and spend time with the little boy her family sponsors here.

Go read both of those posts.

Go read them now.

Ok, you may want to get a box of kleenex and your credit card before you read it, because you will need both--one to dry your eyes so you can see the computer screen and the other to sign up to sponsor a child of your own.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Why I love my home

Happy Valentine's Day!!

In tribute to this day devoted to love and it's many expressions (mainly of the chocolate and roses variety), I'd like to tell you why I love where I live.

About 4 years ago, Mr. at Home got a job out here in NC, far away from my home state of Texas. We had long considered a move out here, but it was simply never the right time. Until early 2004 when there was a job opening in a field that Mr. at Home was vastly interested in and uniquely qualified for. After a whole lot of red tape, we finally go the house sold and moved out to our new home state.

My family (including all the very extended relatives) has still never quite forgiven us for moving. And taking the granddaughters away? Yeah, you can imagine how well *that* went over.

But the fact is that moving out here has been a wonderful, fabulous thing for us. Yes, I do miss my family a lot, but there have been so many opportunities that we've been able to take advantage of out here that wouldn't have been possible back in Texas.

1. The mountains - We live within a very short distance from the mountains. We can take off in the morning, tool around on the Blue Ridge Parkway for a few hours, and be home in time for dinner. Mr. at Home has discovered a love of camping and mountain scenery that makes my nature-loving little heart sing :-)

2. The beach - We also live within an easy distance from the beach. It's a bit far for a day trip, but we can easily do a weekend away of sand and surf.

3. Mr. at Home's job - He loves the work he does and he's very good at it. His employer considers him a valuable asset to the company and he's earned considerable professional respect within his field.

I will take a moment here to say that one of the things I love most about Mr. at Home is the way he loves his work, how he's so interested in the subject and the way he's constantly working to solve problems and learn new skills. It's an amazing thing.

4. Mr. at Home's second job - His success in his first job has led to the opportunity to work with a local university as a part-time teacher and consultant. He's also gotten involved in a consortium(?) that works out of the university and could lead to even bigger opportunities.

5. Our Sunday School class - The man who teaches our Sunday School class is a very scholarly, intelligent individual who is a gifted teacher. We thoroughly enjoy listening to him and have learned much. Mr. at Home has recently taken over the position of apprentice teacher and is growing his teaching skills. It's just all around awesome.

6. Homeschooling - When we moved out here, I was frankly amazed at all the families who homeschool. Back in Texas, we knew a few families that did it, but we had never even considered it. Out here there are hundreds of possibilities for classes, activities, and field trips for homeschoolers and it's been a wonderful (well, most of the time LOL) experience for us.

7. Seasons - Did you know there are 4 seasons? Seriously, four distinct seasons with different weather and vegetation in each. Ok, you can kinda see them back in Texas, but they are far more dramatic out here in NC. The first time we went to the mountains in the fall, we were blown away by the beautiful colors and dramatic scenery. At the moment I cannot WAIT for the next few weeks to pass so I can head down to the botanical gardens where I will simply soak in the beautiful colors of spring.

8. Writing - Within the past year or so, I've gotten to know a few Christian writers and speakers. My friend, Marybeth, told me about a writing contest, which led to my first published story, which has created in me a desire to write more. I don't know where that will lead, but I'm excited to watch the journey unfold.

9. SAHSM - I didn't stay home full-time until we moved out here. I did like working and I was definitely addicted to the sense of purpose, independence, and affirmation that came with it. It took me awhile to settle into my stay-at-home role, but I do enjoy being able to focus on my home and family and I love how I have the day-time to get things done and we can simply enjoy the peace and quiet of the evenings without running around all over the place.

It seems this is all the time my kids will give me for quiet reflection and my very messy living room is calling me to get to cleaning. Ah, the joys of a full life!

Monday, February 11, 2008


That's my word of the day.

Presumptuous - Going beyond what is right or proper; excessively forward.

As in - The writers of the 2nd Grade A Beka curriculum were being presumptuous when they assumed that the student in question would have a Valentine's party to write about so she could complete this week's assignments.

I'm assuming the writers know that many of their clients are homeschoolers that might not have a Valentine's party planned, especially when one of them just hosted a birthday party last week and she has no intentions of torturing herself further. To have a party worth describing extensively in an essay would take work and I'm kinda busy this week. But in the interest of my child's education, I sent an email to my homeschooling cohort and asked if she wanted to get together and let the kids exchange valentines as a pathetic attempt at the A Beka required party.

Imagine my surprise when she replied that she had already planned a Valentines lunch and we're invited. Score! I love Martha (my friend, not the Stewart one) and she has saved both my kids and K's essay from boredom.

So Martha, the kids and I thank you from the bottom of our construction paper and doily hearts.

Friday, February 8, 2008

Do prayers work? Why, yes. Yes, they do.

If you've been down in a well for the past couple of weeks, you may not know that I've been obsessing over a conference. It's fabulous, but expensive. Very expensive in relation to my SAHSM budget. Mr. at Home graciously offered to pay for me to go, but I felt really bad and a little selfish for taking part of his bonus or contract income or part of the tax return when we're trying to get back to debt-free living.

I knew that if it was within God's will that I go to this conference (and I will freely admit that I was trying hard to convince Him that it would be a great idea) that He would provide the funds.

Let's rewind a week or so. I subscribe to a homeschooling newsletter and they sent out an email advertising some openings they had there and at a related publishing company. I have never gotten anything like this from them or anyone else, but the publishing company job seemed interesting and it looked like I was qualified. Heck - part-time, work from home, specifically looking for homeschoolers - of course I applied.

Didn't hear anything for over a week, then I got an email asking if I would be interested in a 2-week contract for a specific project. I immediately made the connection between the job, timing, and the conference. Bingo! It is *exactly* the thing I needed! Short contract where I go to work immediately, fairly easy writing, and it pays enough to cover the cost of the conference.

Can we say "answered prayer"?

Now I can use my writing to pay for a writing conference, and that seems to me the most logical way to do it.

Let me hear an "Amen!"

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Happy Birthday, L!

Happy birthday to my big 4-year-old!

We had a small, fun, and surprisingly easy art birthday party this afternoon for L and three of her friends. I covered the table with art supplies and let the girls create their own masterpieces. Very low key and it didn't leave me completely stressed out and over-extended. It was also motivation to get the seat of that one chair reattached to the frame, so it was good all around :-)

One mom and I were chatting at the end and the talk turned to our adoption day. I was reminded that somewhere in China today there is a mom whose arms ache to hold the little girl she had to give up when that baby was just 4 months old. She is wondering where her daughter is, what she looks like, and what's she's doing right now. I wish I could send her the pictures from the birthday party and let her know that her little girl is right now happily playing with a whole truckload of great new birthday presents.

WFMW: Mr. at Home's Favorite Online Store

If you're anything like the normal person, you often find yourself with NO IDEA what to get the males in your life as a gift. Unless they have a huge obsessive hobby that requires lots of accessories, guys can be so hard to buy for.

Instead of grinding your teeth in frustration and finally sending them yet another motorized tie rack, check out ThinkGeek. What guy wouldn't love a palm-sized RC helicopter or a desktop wooden trebuchet, which you find filed under Cube Warfare? Products range from the practical, like this UV Disinfectant Wand, to the merely fun, like these R2-D2 Laundry baskets.

You can score some major points with the men (and boys) in your life by shopping at ThinkGeek. Heck, I just scored some with Mr. at Home by simply telling you about ThinkGeek!

For more fabulous on-line stores, head over to Rocks at My Dryer Works For Me Wednesday.

Monday, February 4, 2008

The Cake

Yesterday we finally made it to the local grocery store to order L's birthday cake. Yes, I know, with 3 whole days to spare, I was *on the ball*!

We headed to the bakery and started flipping through the cake book. It was taking me a few minutes to get past the superheroes and trucks, so L got bored and started checking out the rest of the bakery. "Mommy!! Look!!!!!" She grabbed my hand and dragged me to the other end of the counter.

To the towering wedding cake.

Um, no, we won't be ordering one of those for a few more years. By then, I'm thinking she won't get all starry-eyed over a grocery store wedding cake. It'll be the specialty bakery and a few hundred dollars.

Which reminds me, if there's someone out there who was planning to buy L a birthday present and hasn't done it yet, would you please get her a Ken groom doll? She's desperately wanting one for her Barbies to marry.

She spied another cake nearby and got excited again. "I had one of those last year!" referring to the Barbie cake with the real Barbie and cake dress. "But I don't want it again." (Really?) And she ran back to the book where she picked out a pink and purple cake with Sleeping Beauty and Prince Philip dancing at the royal ball.

Maybe I'll save those dancing figurines for her wedding cake.

She Speaks winner posted

Lysa posted the winner to the She Speaks scholarship contest first thing this morning as she probably knew we were all waiting breathlessly. While it wasn't me, it was someone I voted for, so I'm doubly happy that she won.

Now, to figure out how to raise the $400 I need to go....

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Shameless request for help today

For the past year, I've been looking forward to going to the She Speaks conference, but it's rather expensive. Lysa at Proverbs 31 is hosting a contest to win a scholarship to the conference and she's asked for help in choosing the winner.

If you have a few minutes today and want to get a blessing, please go to Lysa's contest post and read through some of the entries.


Choose a few of your favorite and send an email to Lysa at telling her which ones you think are the best (if you include my name, it won't hurt my feelings in the least :-)). She will be drawing from these names to win the scholarship.

Thank you for your support. (My name is Valerie at Home and I approved this message.)

Friday, February 1, 2008

She Speaks

I sat with the phone in my hand, mentally going down the list of moms that I knew. I wanted, make that needed to...get out and talk to someone who didn't have my last name. Someone who could sympathize with my life, who would laugh when I described how I found my youngest covered in make-up and smile in understanding when I admitted that I told my oldest my name wasn't "Mommy" anymore and I wasn't telling her my new name.

Let's see...I could, her husband works odd hours and he's probably gone. How about...right, she's still nursing and I overheard her Sunday talking about how hard her baby is to get down at night. There's always...nope, she goes to bed so early. I finally laid the phone down in frustration without having dialed a single number. Well, there's always bubble baths behind a locked bathroom door.

This whole stay at home mom thing is much harder than I ever expected. We go from respected professional with a full schedule of meetings and get-togethers to frumpy housewife in a stained sweatshirt who only talks to people shorter than 3-feet tall for hours on end. At first, these short people are all cute and easy, then the first one starts walking and another one comes along. They get involved in classes and activities and your play group falls apart because no one has the same schedule. Before you realize what happened, you're staring at the phone trying to think of even one friend you can call.

Thankfully, before I descended into a deep pit of isolation, I found an outlet. One that is available whenever I am and where there are other moms who have their own funny kid stories and aren't afraid to tell about their embarrassing moments. The best part is that it's as close as my computer. A mom friend of mine mentioned that she had a blog, which had I had never thought of outside the realm of technical geekiness. So I found her blog and started reading, then I went through her blog roll, and then I went through their blog rolls, and I was hooked. Wow! Some of these women were fabulous writers and I enjoyed reading their blogs and I began to feel I wasn't so alone.

After a few weeks of reading as many blogs as I could in stolen moments, I started my own blog. At first, my goal was to use my blog to keep in touch with my extended family in Texas. Soon though, I wanted it to be more. I wanted my blog to be a source of encouragement to other moms the way so many other moms had ministered to me through their blogs. So I broadened my topics, continued reading other blogs, left comments on other blogs and participated in blogging events to broaden my audience, and wrote more to work on my voice. I had been a technical writer and an English teacher, but this kind of writing was a different beast. It was a fabulous chance to do some creative writing on subjects that I knew and loved. I started talking more to other mom bloggers and found new friends. I have even noticed that it built my confidence level so that I'm a little more willing to pick up the phone and actually dial now.

At one point, my friend posted a link to a writing contest. Out of curiosity, I read the rules for the contest, they were calling for true stories about a day in the life of a mom, and thought, "Hey, I could totally do that!" I entered a story and surprisingly, my story was accepted. Suddenly a whole new realm of possibilities opened up. Some of my favorite bloggers were also speakers and writers of articles, devotions, and books. I read more and more about how publishers are looking at blogs as platforms when considering a writing proposal. My blog is enough for right now, but the possibilities are endless and could lead to fulfilling the other God-breathed desires of my heart.

Last year, I found out about an intriguing conference called She Speaks put on by Proverbs 31 Ministries. They have it set up so you can focus on speaking, women's ministry, and...writing. I was so excited, but by that time the conference was already sold out. So I waited and worked and now it's time for the conference again. I'm so glad I waited, because they've added a special bonus this year that specifically addresses blogging and some of my favorite bloggers will be presenting (I told you that blogging could lead to some wonderful things!). These bloggers are doing something even bigger in a couple of weeks, though. They are going to Uganda with Compassion International to live blog about the work that the ministry is doing in the lives of the children there. Mom blogs are powerful tools and it would be an amazing treat to attend this conference and learn more about using this growing platform.

My one obstacle to this conference is that it's fairly expensive. I happen to live near the conference location, but even without the cost of a hotel, it's still a nice chunk of change for a stay at home mom who's trying to get back to our debt-free status. Thankfully, Lysa TerKeurst of Proverbs 31 is sponsoring a writing contest to win a ticket to the conference. Now if I can only win.

L just told me

"I want to be a fire fighter when I grow up"

(dramatic pause)

"And a princess"

Let's just hope they make that ball gown fire retardant.