Sunday, March 30, 2014

Scavenger Hunt Sunday 3/30/2014

Confession: All of these photos are archives--but only from a week ago. I got into writer mode this week, and completely forgot to turn photographer mode back on. On the upside, I finished and submitted two pieces (will definitely post here if they get published), read tons about writing, plus worked a little on my novel and my blog layout. So, all in all it was a productive week, whether or not I took fresh pictures.

1. What IS that?
I didn't realize blowing the picture up would make it look so strange, but you might recognize it as peanut brittle being poured from a copper kettle at +Silver Dollar City Attractions 

 2. Yum!
Enjoying a fresh warm funnel cake dusted with powdered sugar.

3. On the Road
The sun was setting behind us as we left Branson for home.

 4. On the Shelf
I love these Grease Jars from Hillcreek Pottery at #SDC. 
(Look for a post later this week about grease jars and their use).

5. Bad Habit
Hi, my name's Michael and I'm an appleholic. 
((Hi, Michael))
--Ok, really he was bowling for apple juice but it sure was cute.

Thank you all for looking. I enjoy hearing from you if you stop by to visit my blog. Linking up with: 

Saturday, March 29, 2014

A Temporary Change in Writing Focus Can Increase Your Productivity

How do you know when the story you are working on is the one you need to be working on at any given moment? For me, it has to do with focus. If things that couldn't possibly happen in my story keep popping into my head, I take that as a sign I need to take a break and work on something else for awhile...namely whatever it is that keeps popping into my head.

I consider myself to be a historical fiction and poetry writer with a few true stories from my own life thrown in for good measure. However, I recently had this great idea for a story in the science fiction/fantasy genre and no matter what I did, I could not get rid of this idea that had taken up residence in my brain...but then when I tried to focus on it, it felt forced because it is different than what I am used to writing. I felt like I really didn't have a good plot, just a good scene or two really--that's when I decided to take advantage of the one great scene and try writing some flash fiction. I am still in the drafting stages but I think flash may be just long enough to use the material that inspired me without forcing me to create a full plot in a genre I am unfamiliar with. I can't wait to see how it turns out.

I have another story in the works as about an Army Sniper in Vietnam which I began writing to show my husband that I have ability as a writer and that I could even write something he would be interested in. I think it may turn into another flash fiction also, or possibly a short story due to my personal interest in the story waning. Each time I think about trying to create a full novel from that story, I find myself unable to come up with a full plot, or even other characters that seem believable.

The novel I originally started is about a young girl growing up in rural Kentucky during the depression, who is suddenly thrown into an adult role where she has to make adult decisions and take care of her family herself when her mom falls ill. This was my main focus when I started writing, and I think I have plenty of material, as well as ideas for a second and third book already--but I don't want to get bogged down in a novel for the next two years and come to the realization that I am the only person who is interested in such a novel. So, I am splitting my focus a bit in order to get my feet wet and discover my niche.

If you find yourself staring at the blank page, try putting it away for awhile. If you feel the need to write something, try going for a different genre or writing just for fun--see where it takes you.

Update: I have a fully written children's book ready to publish, and a rough draft started on another (with ideas for several more.) My writing journey has been full of twists and turns, setbacks and bursts of inspiration. I don't think I will ever be on the straight flat road as a writer, but I am enjoying the bumps and twists of the scenic route right now.

How do you determine what you will write on a given day? Do you have more than one thing going at a time, or do you have to focus solely on one story in order to make it work? What are you writing today?

Friday, March 28, 2014

A Vacation from Education?

Last week, my children and I joined my Mom for a quick vacation in +Branson Missouri. When Alyson was in public school, we were not as conscious of including learning in our vacation time as we are now. As a home-school mom, I have figured out how to have a fun day and still count much of it as school time. Please don't mistake this--I am not saying we should never have fun just for the sake of fun--after all, that is a part of learning too! I want to share with you what we have done in the past to incorporate learning, and what we plan to do in the future as well.

One of the best places I have found for a vacation that is both educational and fun is +Silver Dollar City Attractions. They even have some lesson plans already made up for you (most of these work better for children older than mine).

While at #SDC Alyson practiced budgeting: she wrote down each item she wanted to purchase as we walked through the park, and then figured out how much money she had and which things she could afford this trip versus which things she could live without until next time. Considering the length of her original list, I counted this as handwriting practice too.

She practiced map reading and orienteering as she looked for which ride, 
shop or show she wanted to visit next and led us there using the park map.

 We visited Sullivan's Mill and learned how corn is ground into cornmeal. 
Prompted a discussion on what cornmeal is used for.

 Peanut Brittle was being made at Brown's Candy Factory, so we stopped to watch the lesson 
and learned how to make 18 lbs of peanut brittle.
We also visited Hill Creek Pottery, and watched this young lady making large mugs/steins on the pottery wheel. Alyson was enthralled. She didn't move from this spot the entire time we browsed the store.

We joined the Gospel singing at the Wilderness Church which falls under music appreciation.

Things we did not do this time but have in the past include:

Tour Marvel Cave (Geology, Bats, Local history)
Watch the glass blowers at work at Hazel's.
Watch taffy being made at Phoebe Snapp's
History Lesson at the Oak Trail Schoolhouse
and much more!

We learn something every time we visit Silver Dollar City, so I almost always count it as at least a partial school-day What have you learned while on vacation? At SDC or anywhere else...?

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Scavenger Hunt Sunday 3/23/14

This week, the kids and I met my mom in Missouri for a couple of days at our favorite theme-park, +Silver Dollar City Attractions. Most of my scavenger hunt pictures today were taken from inside the park. (Check back later this week for more details on our trip).

1. Leading lines
These lines were leading right into the park. Mom and munchkin had just stepped off the tram in this picture. I would tell you which ones they are, but wouldn't want mom to be embarrassed by her jean coat circa 1980s (Oops! Sorry Mom!) In her defense, it was really cold, and I'm certain her coat was warmer than mine.

2. Relationship
These two #SDC employees had a great working relationship 
at Copper Kettle Candies / Brown's Candy Factory.
Don't leave without a Peanut Brittle Sample!

 3. Good Morning!
Now that I have shown you this beautiful "Good morning" photo, in the spirit of full disclosure, I must admit it was taken in the afternoon/evening. I could not find any scenery picture that 
better said "Good Morning" than this one taken through the window 
of my van since there was not enough room to pull all the way off of the road. 

4. Together
Before we left for our trip, I took this picture of the kids and I together. Mental note: buy a remote shutter release so you don't chop your own head off trying to take pictures with the kids.

 5. Project
Eighteen pounds of peanut brittle is a bit larger project than I feel up to undertaking.

 5. Project (again--because I couldn't decide)
This young lady is working on a large mug/stein at Hill Creek Pottery in #SilverDollarCity. Munchkin watched her the entire time we were in the store. She was fascinated. 
This is the type of project I would love to try someday.

I hope you enjoyed seeing my interpretations of the photo prompts this week. I would love for you to follow my blog and watch for the posts coming up later this week about our trip.

Linking up to:

If you want to participate next week, here are the prompts we will be using:

1. What IS that?
2. Yum
3. On the Road
4. On the Shelf
5. Bad Habit

Saturday, March 22, 2014


I promised to try to post something I have written at least weekly. I was pretty busy last week and wasn't able to post like I would have liked. This week is shaping up to be busy as well, so I thought I would get a head start. I wrote this poem (a haiku) yesterday on my way to work. Now, if u are picturing me scribbling furiously as I drive down the road, that is not quite what I meant. I suppose I should say "I thought of this poem while driving to work." I did wait until I parked before attempting to put it on paper. Before I share the poem, here is a bit of backstory for those of you who don't know. Just over five years ago now, I lost my sister and best friend to a form of cancer called Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma. Rebekah and I were like most sisters growing up; we fought a lot and were not very tolerant of each other's personality quirks for a long time. Things got a little better in high school, and after reaching adulthood, we became friends. When she died, I felt as though I had lost a part of myself. I know she wouldn't want me down here grieving for her every day, so I wrote this poem to help me with closure while we are apart.

Goodbye my sister,
Life-long friend; Rest in heaven
'Til we meet again.

Monday, March 17, 2014

A Writer's Journey of Self-Discovery

I want to be a writer. There it is--in print. No taking it back now. More accurately, I am a writer--I want to be an author. 

Why do I want to add something else to my already overloaded schedule? Well,...I enjoy it. Writing is an outlet for me, a way to experience life through someone else's eyes.

I have loved to read for all my life, and generally liked to write as well. Writing is only fun when I get to choose the subject though, or at a minimum choose between a few options. 

I write about things I love, things that irritate me, and places and times that interest me. 

My current favorite is writing historical fiction; the book I am working on now is set during the Great Depression. (Update: this book has been shelved while I write children's books for awhile but it is still a favorite.)

I am writing this post requesting the support of my family and friends through this journey.

I have a couple of submissions going out at the end of this month which may or may not get published. (Update: they didn't).

I don't have much written that is anywhere near finished, but have begun work on a book, and have a poem or two that I believe may be good enough. 

When I post new blog posts, I would love for you to read them. I hope to eventually post small excerpts of some of my stories and get honest feedback.

What I don't want from writing: I am not looking to make millions as an author, but would love to make enough so that I can stay home with my kids eventually.

I would love to make a little money, but mostly I want to share my writing with people who will appreciate it. I love being a home-school mom, and don't want to change that either. (Of course, this means less uninterrupted writing time, but my family will always come first in my life).

What do I want from you? I would love for you to follow my blog, or just check out my posts when I post them. They may or may not pertain to writing but I want to blog at least weekly about writing or share something I have written. 

I also like to exercise my abilities and stretch them to new lengths, so I welcome comments with suggestions you would like to see me do a blog post on. Or you can specify that you would like me to post a poem or short story about your subject. No promises whether it will be good, but it will be fun!

Thank you in advance for your support. I would love for you to follow me on social media also--use the links below to find me.


Sunday, March 16, 2014

Scavenger Hunt Sunday - 3/16/2014

I had taken a hiatus from Scavenger Hunt Sunday, and from blogging in general, but I am back now (I think). Here are my interpretations of this week's prompts.

1. Doorway

I feel like this is my #fail picture for this week. I had some neat ideas, but they never came to fruition, so here it is. The doorway to the bathroom. (Edit: changed my picture to sepia tone and I like it much better now).

2. Candid
Daddy put these glasses on me and now Mommy is blinding me with the flash from her camera.

2. Candid (again)
Mama, I play a mean air-guitar.

3. Open
I opened this candy bar...

 4. Look Up
 I love the way trees look in the winter. There is something awesome about looking at the 
bones of the tree. The intricate patterns of branches against the sky just don't exist when the trees are full of leaves.

 5. Stuffed
Mama, I'm stuffed!

I hope you enjoyed my interpretations this week. Join me again next week as I search for photographic interpretations for these prompts:

1. Leading Lines
2. Relationship
3. Good Morning 
4. Together
5. Project

Shared on: 
           Ni Hao Yall

Friday, March 14, 2014

The Best Thing about Spring!

Spring is almost here and with it comes longer days, warmer weather, and Spring Break Days at Silver Dollar City. Every year, after the Old Time Christmas Festival, Silver Dollar City closes its gates for two long months and fans across the country begin the long wait for spring and the return of our favorite theme-park. Well, the time has finally come! Silver Dollar City reopens tomorrow, March 15 with Family Spring Break Days.

Photo credit goes to +Martha Curtis Thanks Mom!

We have been planning our trip to Branson, MO for weeks now; Munchkin has had her bag packed since the first of March and she packed one for little man too. We plan to stay at the Colonial Mountain Inn in Branson West. We love that it is American Owned and Operated, there is a swimming pool with a slide (when the weather is warm enough), the prices are reasonable, and it's right up the road from Silver Dollar City. We have always had clean rooms and friendly service when we visit. To top it off, the hotel is beside a Taco Bell, so when we come in late from the park, we can get our late-night taco fix with a couple of Doritos tacos and a large Mountain Dew.

Spring Break Days is an excellent time to visit Silver Dollar City; the weather is usually nice, and the crowds aren't as big as they are in the summer. Even if you have to wait until summer to visit, Silver Dollar City has mature shade trees growing throughout the park so, even on hot days, you can usually find a cool place to sit. During the hottest hours of the day, I love to visit Marvel Cave, where the temperature stays cool year round. If spelunking isn't your thing, there are loads of air-conditioned shops too, so you can watch glass-blowers at work, or peanut brittle being made, or just search for the perfect souvenir. With package pick-up services, you won't even have to lug your purchases with you to the Great American Country Nights show in Echo Hollow. Just pick them up on your way out.

Whether you visit for the rides and attractions, the toe-tapping shows, perusing the shops, watching the craftsmen at work, the excellent food, or the one-of-a-kind festivals, Silver Dollar City has something for everyone. I hope your family loves it as much as mine does.

+Silver Dollar City Attractions +Taco Bell +Branson Missouri +Doritos®

 (Disclaimer: I have not been paid or otherwise compensated for my opinion.)

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Am I holding her back?

At one time or another, I believe most parents worry about whether their child is receiving an adequate education. 

Parents of children who attend public schools wonder if their child would be better off in a private school that just isn't in the budget right now; parents of private-schooled children wonder if their child should have gone to the super-elite private school that denied their application. 

As parents, we just want our children to have the best education and best opportunities possible. This worry never bothered me so much as when we embarked on the journey of home-schooling.

I recently went through a phase of worrying almost constantly whether I had made the right decision in pulling my daughter out of public school. 

I work full time as a nurse (12 hour shifts, 3 days a week--and lately have been putting in overtime), so we home-school on my days off. I work the midnight shift, so when I get home, I go to bed for a few hours. Sometimes munchkin wakes up and turns on the TV before I get up. This creates a problem because she doesn't work as well afterwards. She is more argumentative, and more restless. She wants to do the bare minimum and then go back to TV, or playing with her toys. 

Occasionally, I let her. I tell myself: "We will make it up tomorrow" or "The baby is fussy, and neither of us can concentrate on school work right now." Most of the time, we do make it up the next day, or the one after that...occasionally it is a week or two before I feel that we are caught back up. 

It is during these times that the devil sits on my shoulder and tells me that I am a failure. And I listen to him. I begin to beat myself up, wonder if she needs to be back in school, wonder if I am holding her back by not doing school 5 days a week...

And then, one night she crawls into my lap with a National Geographic Kids reader about Polar Bears and begins to read to me. She sounds out words she doesn't know, and uses the pictures to help her guess at the words she cannot sound out yet. She surprises me with the speed she is able to read, and her ability to recognize a word (she previously didn't know) when it shows up again. I realize at this point that I am doing the right thing, she is learning and is reading at grade level as she should be. It's still not going to be easy; things worth doing rarely are. But for now, I can flick that old devil off my shoulder and be content in knowing that I am doing what is best for my family.

Proverbs 22:6
Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.

Homeschool mamas, do you ever feel this way? How do you remind yourself that you are doing ok?

Monday, March 10, 2014

A home-school education is not inferior

When I checked my mail today, I was not expecting to receive a letter insulting my children and myself. This letter came from the county school board where I live and concerned participation in certain programs offered through the school system. (Title I, Title IIA, and IDEA-B). The letter in particular was not offensive, but this statement of purpose bothered me: The purpose of assistance under this project is to improve the educational opportunities" --sounds good so far, right?--"of educationally deprived (emphasis mine) children..." The purpose statement continued, but I had read enough.

I received this letter because I am a Home School Administrator (aka Home-school Mom) and apparently, my children are therefore "educationally deprived" and in need of assistance from the board of education. This letter did not come as a result of a failure to properly educate my child; it was sent to all home-school administrators who are registered with the county board of education in accordance with Kentucky law.

My "educationally deprived" first grader is learning sign language and Spanish in addition to her regular first grade curriculum. She is taught in our home with plenty of one-on-one instruction time. She no longer has to catch the bus at 6:30am, and be gone from home until 4:30pm. We have the flexibility to spend extra time in areas where she struggles, and to work ahead in areas where she excels." Our school budget for art, music, and PE has not been cut. We do Art and PE every day, not just on Tuesday and Thursday, and Music is not confined to the hour after lunch on Wednesday and Fridays. We do not skim or skip over chapters in history because they "aren't on the test."

My daughter is a happy, well-adjusted seven-year old who is, in no way, "educationally deprived." Needless to say, we will not be utilizing these "services" offered by the school board.