Tuesday, November 30, 2010


Did you know that November is novel writing month? Seems like they have a month for everything anymore - but anyways, I've been part of the writing community in Boise for six years now and this is the first year I remembered - well, was reminded - and the first year I participated.

I found somewhere on the internet, so take it for what it's worth, that only 3% of writers finish their book. I can relate, because up to this point, my longest book got stuck at 17,000+ words.

I'm what some call a "plotter". I can plot my book to death, and as seen above, have. I'm so anal about things that every time I ran into a little trouble, I started back at the beginning and rewrote it all to fix that problem. You can see where this might get a little tedious and where, after 8-10 times of rewriting, someone might just get bored with it.

So when a good friend of mine reminded me that NanoWriMo - that's National Novel Writing Month - was in November and encouraged me to join the challenge, I thought about it for a little while but didn't really make up my mind until the day of. The challenge itself is 50,000 words in 30 days. That's about 1,667 words a day, or 5-7 pages in the standard format.

That's a lot of writing for me, as I'm a stay at home mom and have my own chores and projects to accomplish. But I decided to give it a try. I also decided to try in a totally different fashion.

I was going "pantser". I know, if you've never heard the term you're probably thinking that I shouldn't be telling people that. In the writing world "pantsers" are people that don't plot, they just sit their butts down and write and whatever comes out, comes out. Their writing starts with anything from a general idea to absolutely no idea what they're doing, and they trudge on letting their characters and any new ideas that pop into their brains, lead the way.

You can see where someone as anal as I would just about pass out from the idea of just writing from the seat of my pants. It goes against everything I believe in, including my to-do lists that I do every day!

Since I hadn't made the decision to write until November 1st, I dug out my list of vague ideas - it's always growing - and grabbed one. I sat down and just went with it.

I'll have to admit that writing freely is very liberating. I didn't have a path so my current one couldn't be wrong. If I didn't have the answers, then I just wrote around it and put it off for another day! It was great! Don't get me wrong, I still did a little bit of plotting. During the time when I wasn't writing, I'd dwell on what I had written and what could happen from there, but that's as far as I went.

The hardest part - the part that just tormented me the entire month - was not editing! It was nerve wracking not to go and change something once I realized my current idea wasn't working. Yah, I cheated a little, I changed spelling errors that popped up, but that's it! When I had a problem or needed to change part of a story line, I just wrote a short note to myself right were I was, highlighted it, and then kept on writing like I'd already made those changes. Sometimes I even just left it, thinking a little confusion can be good. Don't worry, I'll fix it when I start editing after I've finished.

So, the month of November is over and I met the challenge. I had 50,000 words written on the 28th. However, I haven't finished my novel yet! I think I have about 20,000 words more before the first draft is finished, then I have to edit. In the Nano tradition, I've decided to try for 1,000 words a day until done. It's a good goal, not as long as Nano but enough to allow me to get an idea or two out.

I would definitely participate again, if I remember in time, and I'd recommend it for anyone who has ever wanted to write. It's been a great experience - even if my house work and meal planning has suffered - and I've learned that even a dedicated obsessive compulsive plotter like me can learn new tricks and accept a little chaos!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Do-Overs, AKA Week from Hell…

You ever wish you could just call a do-over? I hated that term as a kid. Only those annoying kids that wanted to cheat everyone else out of a turn called do-overs. Mom’s need do-overs and last week, I would have done just about anything to get one.

So last week started out okay. On Monday, my mother and I made 40 pints of salsa and I ended the day with a blood donation date with my husband. I know, doesn’t sound like much of a date. It counts in my book since we managed to unload the kids on my MIL and I even got dinner out of the deal. (Those of you are who are laughing, I’m betting you don’t have kids.)

Then Tuesday came around, along with a sick cat. We’d noticed that he was getting skinny, but on Tuesday he didn’t come in all night and he wouldn’t eat. He laid around sleeping and wouldn’t even purr when we petted him. The purring is what really got me, this cat rolls on to his back and starts purring himself into oblivion if you even look like you’re going to pet him. After consulting my dad (he used to work in a vets office and has a B.S. in Zoology - and you’d better say it right or he will correct you) and my neighbor (who breeds cats with extra toes), I called our vet. At this point, I was convinced that we’d have to put him down.

So after getting the kids to school and dropping them off at their grandma’s, I dragged a very skinny cat to the vet. I’d spent most of the car ride preparing the kids for the possibility that Gadget, our cat, wouldn’t be coming home today. Two hours later, and $200, the doctors decide that he has an infection and that it will be necessary to force a pill and some liquid down his throat twice a day for two weeks. I thought getting kids to take medicine was hard…geez.

Tuesday night is a complete blur. N started throwing up around 11:30 pm and didn’t stop until 3 or so. Isderf finally just laid on the couch with him and a bucket so that we wouldn’t have to change any more bedding.

Wednesday morning had us all awake, not willingly, tired and a huge pile of laundry to do. Oh yah, and my daughter and I both were nauseous and spending a lot of time on the potty. So everyone stayed home from school and work, cause even though Isderf wasn’t sick, he was exhausted and running around taking care of the three of us.

Thursday dawned with everyone still tired and both the kids had slight fevers. So Isderf abandoned me with two semi-sick kids with too much energy to sit still and get better, or even let me take a nap. By the end of the day, I was googling military schools.

Friday was actually pretty good. The kids went to school (thank you God!) and we already had plans to unload J at a friends for the night (I know, kind of close to being sick, but at this point, I was in bad mom mode). Then my son decided since J was having a sleep over, so was he - at grandma’s house. Thank goodness grandma decided that sounded like fun.

So Friday night, Isderf and I had an actual date night - no blood in sight. We went to dinner and got a movie and we were just about to lie in bed and watch it, when we discovered that our water heater was leaking. Isderf tried blaming it on me, said if I hadn’t used the bathroom downstairs I wouldn’t know it was leaking. I say it’s his own damn fault for being in the upstairs bathroom so I had to go downstairs. Anyways…it didn’t look too bad so we decided to leave it for the night and tackle it in the morning.

I know, most of you are sure that a major disaster struck in the night and we had a huge mess to clean up. You’re wrong.

It still looked the same as it did the night before. The problem is that we were only seeing a little bit of it. Turns out, it had probably been leaking for a while. We had to remove the water heater - drain it and then lift it over some piping that couldn’t be moved. Remove the dry wall behind it, from the floor up about 3 feet. We also had to remove the floor edging and about 3 feet of drywall along the entire back wall of the bathroom. The water heater had been slowly leaking and the drywall had just sucked it up and mildewed. So now I can do the laundry and look through the water heater closet to make sure my kids are washing their hands after using the bathroom.

The worst news (cause all weeks been full of bad news) is that it took us ALL day Saturday to cut out drywall, remove edging and the water heater, and clean up the mess. The good news, well for the kids anyways, is that taking hammers to walls is very therapeutic. Now we just have to get the kids to understand that putting holes in walls isn’t an everyday event.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Front Yard Garden

Thought you'd all want to see our garden in its full glory.
We've already harvested radishes, lettuces, carrots, cukes, and a few tomatoes.
Our pumpkins are almost ready (yes I know, too early for Halloween!) and we should have a watermelon in the next week or two.
We've gotten a lot of great feed-back from our neighbors and passer-bys, so I think it's a hit.
Now we just have to figure out what to do with it this winter!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Buying Tires, Revisted

Okay, it's been pointed out to me that I never really said where I bought my tires. I sort of did this on purpose though. I didn't feel comfortable with naming the companies that I visited, so I left it pretty general.

Since I have picked (yes, it's been a while) and have driven on those tires for almost 8 months now, it's probably time to tell you my choice.

I choose the father-like type at Commercial Tires, and I'll tell you why.

1) He seemed to try to fit my tire to my lifestyle. He asked how long I'd had the car and checked the mileage. He knew that I had only put about 70,000 miles on a car that I've owned for almost 10 years, so I really didn't need a 60K warranty. He also asked about what type of driving I did and found out that while we take a few road trips, it was mainly highway driving. The worst conditions I drive through are usually Boise in January - which is why I wanted All Season tires.

2) I felt very comfortable with him. He asked the right type of questions and answered mine without talking down to me or treating me like I'm stupid.

3) He didn't try to sell me the most expensive version of what I needed. He showed me the tire he felt I should buy and then flat out told me that it would be completely worthless for me to buy the highest end.

4) He had the professional moves down. He checked the tires and the mileage. He showed me the tires he thought would be best and printed off bids that included disposal costs and taxes. I knew exactly what it was going to cost me, right down to the penny, before I left. They were also having a promotion of buy three get one free, so he told me how long that would last and about what the cost would be if I waited until that promotion was over.

5) He worked around me. Typically they don't do appointments, it's more of a "first come, first served" atmosphere. When I had made my decision and called to get it set up, I explained that I had a 2 hour window from the time of dropping off my kids until I needed to be home. It was either that or bring them with me. (*shudders* don't get me wrong, I love my kids, but being caught with them in a 10' x 10' waiting room for an hour or so... well, it's not a pretty thought) They told me that although they don't make appointments, as long as they didn't get hit hard they'd have everything ready for me at 9 am. When I got there, they were ready for me and got my car right in. I was home in plenty of time to pick up kids!

In short, I was very happy with my tire buying experience at Commercial Tire. The tires have worked fine and did well during our winter season too.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Front Yard Gardening

So it’s been a month since I’ve blogged and I’m sure everyone is wondering what we’ve been up to (okay, as I’m not that interesting, I know you’re waiting to see what trouble Isderf has gotten himself into). We’ve actually been very busy building a garden. Now you’re all probably wondering why it would take us a month to build a garden (oh, and a chicken coop - but that’s another blog).

We moved into our current home about 5 years ago. Our home has a lot of mature landscaping, which means a lot of shade. The previous owners had a garden box in the backyard, placed in the only place that gets enough sun to grow anything. Unfortunately, with kids that like to pick things and dogs that like to dig, our garden didn’t produce very much the first year we tried (“Look mom, we’ve got tomatoes,” as my daughter holds up a tiny green tomato that she’s picked). So we gave up, turned that area into a large sandbox/playset and started making other plans for our garden.

Seeing that our backyard is mainly shaded and that we have kids and a dog running around, not to mention our new chickens, we decided that our front yard would be our best bet. Fortunately, we live in an area without CC&R’s and there are no city codes against front yard gardening.

So Isderf drew up some plans and we took some spray paint to our front yard (We got a lot of comments just from the sprayed grass - most thought the kids had done it, but I set them right and told them it was my husband). The front tree got a trimming and we pulled up half the grass.

We decided to install sprinklers within the boxes to make watering easier. Actually, we had someone else do that and then he had to come back when Isderf took an ax to one of the sprinkler lines (okay, he was aiming for the tree root that had pushed the line up to the surface).

I’m not going to complain about the sprinkler line though, cause he did a great job on the garden boxes. Not only did he build them all by himself, and all in one day, but he also got the cedar for them at a great deal through craigslist (with enough left over for the chicken coop).

I think we’ve met more neighbors in the last month than we knew from the last 5 years, just by installing those garden boxes. We tried to arrange the boxes in such a way that it would look decorative and not cause all our neighbors to egg the house. I think we succeeded. A few neighbors that thought it was a good idea while in theory have since told us that they were a little apprehensive about it until they saw the final product.

We’re very happy with the results and have all the boxes planted with vegetables and flowers. This fall we’ll plant a cover crop and some winter hardy plants, and then bulbs and garlic for the spring. By doing this, we hope the boxes will be both practical and decorative, keeping our neighbors from rebelling.

In true Isderf fashion, we’ve already got more plans on the drawing board. Isderf and I think the grass under the tree needs to go, but we’re not sure what we’ll replace it with - maybe a picnic area!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010


A few months ago, I found a t-shirt online. At the time, I thought it was funny and considered buying it for Isderf’s Father’s Day. I thought it was apt and that everyone would think it was funny. At the time, I didn’t realize HOW appropriate it would become.

Okay, I’m sure all of you have dealt with little kids wanting something. The way they look at you with puppy dog eyes and plead so nicely. Especially when you get into pet negotiations: “But I PROMISE to take care of it and walk it and love it…”

I deal with it a lot and we’ve managed to get around most of their pleadings. Isderf is really good about negotiating with them or giving them responsibilities that they need to learn before certain aspirations can be reached.

So what do you do when not only your children are begging, but your husband is right there along with them… egging them on?

I’m talking about chickens. For some reason, Isderf thinks we need them. Now he’s usually pretty good about thinking things through and answering all the important questions before following through with a plan, unless of course he gets really excited.

We’ve discussed the possibility of chickens off and on over the last 6 months. Since he’s never gotten into the research or started building a coop, I assumed it was just talk.

Then we make the HUGE mistake of taking the kids to Zamzows the week before Easter.

Before I had even gotten my cart, I was hearing, “Chickens, oh mom can we get a chicken…” I, of course, rolled my eyes and said something about talking with their father and thinking it through. And did Isderf back me up, say something about, “Of course, chickens are a big responsibility…” or such? No, he was begging with the kids. “Chickens are a great idea, I agree.”

So now, I have two kids and a husband following me through the store begging in stereo for chickens. And the nice guy that works there? Well, then HE turned on me. “I raised chickens for 10 years, they’re really easy.” I wanted to smack him.

Then we’re waiting in line to pay for our purchases and I’m throwing excuse after excuse out, “We have a dog, I don’t know how he’ll react to chickens.” When other customers get into the conversation, “Oh, we have dogs and chickens and they do just fine.” I really REALLY want to hit someone now.

Okay, so I’ve completely lost this argument. Isderf and the kids went straight home and started researching chicks, feed, and brooders. Next thing we know, we have a brooder all set up and no chicks. As we supposedly have weeks before we need a coop, the decision is made to get the chicks for Easter morning.

So now Isderf is doing more research and looking up chicken coops and what type of feed they’ll eat and how cold it can be outside, he points to something he’s reading and says, “We can raise ducks!.”

At that point, I ordered him that damn shirt and I didn’t even wait until Father’s Day to give it to him. It just fit a little too well and instead of laughing every time I see it, I just shake my head and am thankful we’re not raising ducks.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Don’t Try This At Home

Last year I received an email from a friend, directing me to a link. Now she went to high school with both Isderf and myself and has been in touch since, so she knew how appropriate this link was.

The link went to a t-shirt for sale. It had a stick figure on fire and said “I tried it at home.”

My friend just knew that Isderf needed this t-shirt. So for Father’s Day, the kids and I bought him that shirt (see pic on left).

Since then, he’s worn it to work and various family functions. Everyone laughs and just shakes their head, cause they know it’s SO Isderf.

So today, I’m posting a picture of that shirt because once again, he’s proven how appropriate it is.

I was cleaning out my junk drawer the other day and found an old tube of pepper spray. Now this tube has to be about 15 years olds so I wasn’t sure how well it would work and I was kind of wary of having it in the home with young kids. Being the responsible parent/adult in the relationship, I ask Isderf, “Do you think we should keep this or put it out for the hazardous waste pickup?” (Okay, so at this point, most of you are probably wondering why I even asked him - I think I was having a brain blip that day. Any other day I would have just hidden it and never mentioned it again.)

So how does my spouse reply?

A) “Of course hon, it’s so old it might not work and it’s dangerous with the kids around. I’ll take it up to the hazardous waste pickup.”

B) “Nah, it probably doesn’t work. Let’s just throw it away.”

C) “Hmm… It’s pretty old. I’m betting it doesn’t work. You, ah, wanted this door shut right?” Then he closes the door in my face and disappears. And having that sudden brain blip straighten itself out, I grab the camera and sneak out with him…

Okay, if you’ve read any of my other Isderf Blogs, you know that the answer has to be C and that whatever he has planned; it’s probably not good. I know that he took the tube a little too quickly and then shut the door a little too fast. He definitely wanted me out of the way for whatever he was doing - and I was worried about the kids!

Being the good wife that I am, I always grab the camera first and ask questions later. I mean, if he can’t figure out the bad consequences of actions like these, then I guess hands on learning will have to help.

Unfortunately, he also knows me too well and took that tube with him behind the kids swing set, where I couldn’t get a good picture.

According to him, he sprayed some at the ground and since that didn’t give him the reaction he was hoping for - like there should get a GOOD reaction? - he sprayed it in the air. At that time, the wind shifted and guess what? Well the pepper spray was still good! He got a face full of the stuff.

I saw the puff in the air and then Isderf came running back from behind the swing set coughing and spitting and hanging his head.

Okay, I WAS concerned, I know that this stuff can cause breathing difficulties and a whole host of bad reactions. But it’s hard to really show that concern when you’re trying to hold yourself up and breath through the laughter. Then I started worrying about MY health, cause he didn’t look too happy.

Well, after a few minutes of washing his face and drinking some water, he was fine. And that tube of pepper spray, it went into the trash.

It only took about 15 minutes and everything was back to normal. Normal enough for him to have forgotten the ill effects and start believing that he could probably take a full blast to the face, cause of course he’s has a face full of tear gas - like 10 years ago. This time, he listened when I said it needed to stay in the trash, at least I hope he did.

Yes, I know it’s scary… but we’ve lived - so far.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Another Day in the Life of Isderf

(A/N: This was written for January 5th. Sorry it took so long to post, but life gets in the way!)

Okay, so I've been dealing with some whining lately. Isderf still claims that my last blog was not a good representation of weekend life for us. After I laughed myself silly and picked myself up from the floor, I agreed to write another blog about one of our weekend days.

To be fair, I picked the exact same date when he decided to complain again. So I didn't go trolling for days that were exceptionally busy... I just wrote down the things we did that day. And here it is...

Project #1: Fat

Isderf's day started early. As he'd spent most of the evenings during the past week rendering fat (that's just taking pieces of fat and frying it up, then draining off the liquid to solidify for later - which makes your entire house smell and draws every animal in the neighborhood to your door). The night before, he'd added water to the solidified fat and clarified it (boiling the fat with water and allowing it to cool, helps to separate any impurities from the fat). So this Saturday morning, he broke up the solid mass of fat floating on top and cleaned it off. He then cleaned the pan out and placed the fat back into it, to clarify it again (it still had a strong odor with it).

Project #2: Shopping With Kids

Our kids received money for Christmas and had plans for spending it, so Isderf and I spent two hours trying to explain the concept of not purchasing the first fun thing they came across and the idea that shopping around can be beneficial. Bizarrely, the youngest understood this too well. He knew what he wanted (a Dora or Diego Movie) and while we shopped around for the best price, had no problems putting other toys back once we explained that he wouldn't be able to afford the DVD if he purchased the toy. Our eldest didn't really care about what she originally wanted, she just wanted to SPEND HER MONEY. And even though she was drawn to more expensive toys, she wasn't willing to save her money for later to purchase them. She ended up with a handful of cheap things that probably aren't going to hold her interest for long.

This was a long and tedious process, but I feel it was worth while to give them a taste of how real life can be when dealing with money.

Project #3 Painting

Once home and fed, Isderf decided to spend some time in his garage. Which means that the children usually find themselves out there with him - at this point I'll have to say, I don't know if he eggs them on, or vice versa - and this time they found wood farm animals that obviously needed painting. So then the hunt begins for paints, brushes, and anything else that might need painting.

Project #4 Furnace

Once the painted has finished up and every else is mostly paint free, I send the kids downstairs for a while so that Isderf might actually get some free time. This time, the noises from the garage draw my attention. He's rolling sheet metal around wood frames, making another metal melting furnace. And my grass had finally come back from the last attempt.

Project #5 Fleshing Stand

The furnace gives away to hacking up a piece of wood for fleshing a deer hide. Isderf used a saw horse, attached a piece of wood to it and lowered the front legs so that a deer hide would lay across it.

The deer hide is sitting on our garage floor, thawing from its hibernation in our freezer, and earns a second look every time I see it. Looks like some weird animal curled up on the floor - even the dog isn't too sure about it.

Project #6 Games

This really isn't a project, but we took a good hour or so to play some games with the kids

On top of all this, we did our weekly grocery shopping. Now, I know that this wasn't as busy as the last day I decided to outline. But really, isn't it enough?

And to show that not every weekend is filled, this last weekend (Feb 20th & 21st) was fairly laid back; we only made cheese, two different recipes of soap, went thrift store shopping with the kids, Isderf spent an evening playing DND, visited Isderf's favorite butcher, went to the library, spent two hours trying to get the kids to pick up 15 minutes worth of stuff, we got our grocery shopping done and even spent two hours at a family birthday party (buffets with two kids 5 and under are more work than it's worth!).