The ramblings and musings of author and musician Geoffrey Young Haney.
Much more coherent and loveable fare from his wife, Michelle.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Update ...

It's been a while since I've made time to blog, but here it is.

Carter had his 6 month birthday and he's heading right into his 7 month already! It's incredibly crazy how time passes by so quickly. He's still just a little peanut though weighing in at 15 pound 2 ounces, 26 1/2 inches long. He is rolling around everywhere and scooting, but not quite crawling or sitting up by himself yet ... slowly but surely. He is however talking up a storm and I can't keep his feet out of his mouth. :D

Geoff has been working incredibly hard at his job doing 10 hour days for the past 3 weeks including Saturday's. He's pretty tired, but we will be needing this extra money. I am officially done babysitting the next 3 and 1/2 months, so we will need to try to make ends meet some how. God is very good to us, and continues to take care of us.

We celebrated our first Thanksgiving as a family of 3, and it was very nice. Carter is so incredibly loved, and we are so blessed to have such great families. It makes me really excited for Christmas. We are already decorated for the Holidays, but we have yet to get our tree, hopefully this week!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Anniversary and Birthday

October 11 marks a very special day in my life. October 11 is the day Geoff and I got married 2 years ago. This past weekend we were able to celebrate our anniversary by having our first official "date day." We started the day off with an amazing breakfast at home, then we dropped of Carter to the Grandparents and headed to the movie theater for a double feature. We saw Toy Story 3 in 3D (which was probably one of the greatest movies I've ever seen) and The Other Guys. Both totally worth it! We then headed out to an early dinner and then back to pick up the little man to go back home. Needless to say, it was the perfect day going into a perfect weekend.

Sunday the 10th we dedicated Carter at Engedi church. It was an amazing experience in which Geoff and I received support from our amazing family, friends, and the community of people at our church. We followed up the service with food from China Inn and watching the Lions win their first game of the season at BWW's.

Monday was our "actual" anniversary, and Carter's 5 month birthday. He is getting that much more beautiful and I love him so very much. I don't think any baby could be any more cute and cuddly. The poor little guy however got his first cold this week. Snot everywhere, coughing, fever .. we even had him sleep in his car seat for a few nights just so he could breathe. :( He's just now starting to get a little better. Praying for a fast recovery.

In other news ... Geoff and I signed a 6 month lease for our apartment. We're hoping to find a house or duplex that we can rent for a little bit while we focus on paying off our debt to buy a house with the next couple of years. I'm excited, and nervous at the same time. I just hope we can find what we're looking for by the time May comes around!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

A Little Carter and Mommy Update

Carter is now just over 4 months old and more fun than ever! He's 14 pounds 15 ounces and is 26 inches long! He's in the 50% for weight and 90% for height. On his birthday (Sept. 11) we introduced cereal on a spoon and he did spectacular! We are so proud of him! He's rolling over on his own, loves to be tickled and we're working on getting to sit by himself. His feet are starting to get more and more active as well. He loves to stand, and I think he'll be doing that on his own before we know it.

About 6 weeks ago now I stopped breastfeeding. About 3 weeks after that, I deeply regretted it. So, I called the Lactation experts at Holland Hospital and asked if it was even possible to begin breastfeeding once you've stopped for that long, and they surprised me with good news that it is possible. However, it would require hard work and a lot of patience. Well, it was really important to me, so I said, yes, I want to try. Well, it's been a solid two weeks, if not longer since I've been trying. With no success, I've decided to call it quits. I am really upset about it, but I can't make my body do something it just physically can't do anymore. I just hope I remember how I feel now so that when God willing the next baby comes, I know what I want and what I have to do.

Friday, August 20, 2010

A Little Update

At 15 weeks old Carter is more beautiful than EVER! He's 13 pounds 15 oz and stretching out at 24 1/2 inches long. The little man has been through quite a bit over the past 4 weeks. He's successfully moved to his crib, had a clogged tear duct, weaned from breastfeeding, and had his second round of Thrush. Some good things, some bad. Overall he's still a very happy baby, who's only fussy when he's tired or hungry. God has blessed us so much with this precious little angel. We had a pretty big moment last week Saturday. Carter laughed for the first time. It was the most amazing thing EVER! We were fortunate enough to catch it on film too! And just last night Carter rolled over for the first time, from tummy to back. *sigh* I hate how big he's getting, but I love it at the same time.

Praise the Lord my unemployment benefits FINALLY came in. It took 9 weeks, but the state of MI came through. It was by far the toughest road Geoff and I have ever been on, but through our faith in God and amazing support from our church and close friends we made it.

Geoff and I have gotten pretty serious about our health lately. We've always eaten pretty healthy, but we are taking that up a notch. We also both started running this past week, an activity in which we both loath, but we know is good for us and is one of the most effective ways to lose weight. New habits are extremely hard to make, but we figured if we started when we're "young" hopefully we'll carry this new habit through the rest of our lives. It's important to us both to stay active so that we can be a good example to our son.

This week has been CRAZY busy. The Hudsonville Fair is going on and I always face paint with my mom and sister there. It's really fun, and an opportunity for me to make some extra money. However I haven't been able to be there everyday all day like normal because I started my "nannying" job and I absolutely LOVE it. I'm watching two girls that are so good (knock on wood :D), smart and fun! Carter seems to really like them too, and I feel that it will be so good for him to be around them, perhaps he'll talk sooner too ??? So, I'm babysitting from 8-4 p.m. then heading to the fair to paint until about 9 p.m. Whew! :D

Geoff's been getting pretty serious about his projects lately, and it makes me so incredibly proud of him. He has a very strict schedule that seems to be working, as long as we both help him stick to it. He's been working on movie scripts, The World Within my Walls, and other short stories. He's so awesome, I just hope that one day all of his hard work will pay off.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Changes for the Week

Our beautiful boy is nearly 3 months old already. I can hardly believe it! He's no longer a newborn, but now a baby. *sigh* He's almost out of his 0-3 month clothes, and is weighing in around 14 pounds. He's not chubby, he's not thin, he's juuuuuust right. lol.

We had some pretty big things happen this week so far. I believe Carter is at the beginning stages of teething. Not close to cutting teeth yet, but he's drooling like crazy and he loves his gums being rubbed. Therefore, for that reason among MANY other, Geoff and I decided that this week would be my first week of weaning Carter from breast feeding. I figure it will take about 6 weeks in total, and it's going really well so far. He's responded great to the bottle and seems to be quite happy and content. We also moved him into his crib just last night and he slept like an angel. He's still not sleeping through the entire night, but I believe (and hope) that he's well on his way.

Geoff and I have been feeling crazy amounts of creativity lately. We've been rearranging the house, making lists of things we want to accomplish for our home (ei: things we want to make, buy, decor, etc.), and plotting many projects. It's been a lot of fun, even if all of the projects are a little ways away (financially anyways).

Still no unemployment benefits. Man o man, I seriously don't get it. Come on Michigan, isn't being unemployed torturous enough? You have to kick me while I'm down by taking 8 WEEKS for me to receive money?! Really?! I have a son to clothe and feed for crying out loud. Grrr .. so frustrating. Needless to say, it's been an extremely humbling experience. We've eaten up our entire savings. I've been trying to not be angry about it, and I've been just praying for a miracle or a blessing of any kind. Well, last night, that prayer was answered. Friends from Engedi, our church gave us a gift card to Meijer that should help us get through the week. Thank you so much Josh and Erika.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Reflections on the Past

As you can probably tell, I like to journal. Not just blogging, but physically writing in an actual journal. I used to find it extremely therapeutic. I still do, but now I find myself writing just so I remember things. lol. Last night I wrote an entry and caught myself reading past entries from 2008. In so many ways I've changed, but in other ways I haven't. I still catch myself struggling with three main things, which I found to be pretty sad. My relationship with God, money and my body. At least I'm consistent. lol. No, in all seriousness though, it made me realize that I need to work harder on all of these things. The church I've been attending, Engedi has made a significant difference in my life, helping me to rebuild my personal relationship with God. I think every Christian struggles at one point or another with God, if not everyday. Feeling that we could do more for Him or for others (believers and non-believers). I know God has been speaking to me more than ever, just in ways I didn't understand up until now because I wasn't listening for Him. This realization reminded me of something one of my good friends Bethany once told me, "Our God is a very jealous God. Jealous of our time more than anything." Oh Bethany, you are so incredibly right.

With money ... very few people ever feel that they have enough of it, I understand this. However, it would be really nice to have SOME of it. lol. It just seems like every time Geoff and I feel like we're catching up, or even right where we should be, something devastating happens and we have to start all over again. Losing my job was a blessing, but when I filed for unemployment we thought we would receive funds right away (like we were told.) Now we found out that because I worked at a school they need to make sure I was a full year employee, not a school year employee. Therefore, it could be another 4 weeks before we receive any money at all. The good news is once they figure out that yes, I WAS a full year employee they will back pay. Until then ... life has become ... interesting.

With my body ... it's just an on going struggle. I know that I'm not alone in this one. Many women struggle with their bodies their entire lives, but I truly don't want to! Is that wrong of me? I don't want a "hot body" I just want to feel good. I know what I need to do to fix it, it's just finding the motivation, but more importantly, I need to make the time for it. It just makes me nervous because Obesity is such a scary thing, and it runs on both sides of my family. Once again, it's truly not about looks, it about how I feel.

Anyway ... enough of all that melancholy business.

Carter is 2 months old (10 weeks today) and is cuter than ever. He weighs 12 pounds, he's 23 inches long and is in the 50%tile for both height and weight. Ergo ... he's perfect. Okay, okay, I'm a little bias. :D He's smiling more and more everyday, and his little voice is so adorable I can hardly stand it. He isn't really rolling too much yet, but his legs are strong. He loves to "stand." He's in a stage right now where he no longer likes to be held "like a baby" but wants to face the world! It makes me sad how fast he's growing up already, but obviously, I'm happy that he's developing.

The summer has been really fun so far in many ways. My favorite place on the planet, the cottage has been a blast so far, and the best weekend is coming up this Friday. Friends Weekend at the Cottage! Basking in the sun, playing games, roasting marshmallows, water volleyball, tubing, grilling, and coloring ... who could ask for more? I've been going to the cottage for a long time now. So many memories, so many more to make. :D

I'm really looking forward to "working" again. I hate not contributing to our family financially. It's stressful for us both, and with the Hudsonville Fair coming up at the end of August (you should all come and visit me!) and the nanny position starting around the same time ... ah, it all couldn't come soon enough.

Monday, June 28, 2010

7 Weeks and Twilight

Carter is 7 weeks old and weighing in at 10 pounds exactly. He's growing so fast! Everyday I can see him learning new things, and thankfully he's starting to smile more and more. He's not quite grasping things, but he loves holding onto fingers. He's discovered his own fingers as well as his tongue. He sticks it out constantly. Geoff and I have also caught him sucking on his hand every now and again. Just the other day he rolled over completely too ... I think it was a fluke though, he hasn't done it since. The little man hates "belly time" but loves to hold his head up when you're holding him. It amazes me how he changes each and every day, I wish that Geoff could be with him every moment to take it all in.

My poor husband. He loves us so incredibly much. It must be the hardest thing in the world to leave your family everyday for 8 plus hours to go to a job you hate and doesn't pay enough. Not only does he miss out on things going on at home, but he's miserable as well. We keep praying for a miracle. For his brilliant writing to be discovered, for some type of offer to be made. Even for recognition at this point. Geoff and I have been discussing the possibility of him going back to school for classes on writing. We've been praying for God to give us direction on that as well.

Our family welcomed a new member this past week on June 23. My sister gave birth to my neice, Gracelyn Elsie Dalman. 8 lbs 6 oz, 20 1/2 inches long. She has a full head of BLEACH blonde hair and has the chubbiest cheeks you've ever seen. I can't wait to see how even more beautiful she's going to become.

I love being a mother. It's so incredibly amazing. Although I feel like a walking zombie most of the time, I couldn't imagine my life being what it was anymore. Carter makes my life complete. I finally feel like I've found my purpose in life. Finding the balance between being a mom and being Michelle is difficult at times, but I've had a lot of love and support to help me feel normal. For example, I get to see Twilight, New Moon and Eclipse tomorrow all in a row and I couldn't be more thrilled! I know I'll be thinking about Carter the entire time, but to give up my "motherly duties" for almost 12 hours ... feels good already. I hope Geoff doesn't go crazy. (just kidding)

Since I spend most of my time at home right now, I feel like I'm losing my mind with how things are. I want all new furniture, decorations, and change! That's not going to happen right now, but slowly we can start changing each room as the money allows. I think I just have "apartment fever." I'm craving an actual house more than ever. Someday. Someday.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

On These Hands

I’ve got everything but time on these hands
Mud, sweat, and tears
Blood
Dirt
A few wasted years
Cardboard cuts and smudged ink notes
Spilled guts and slit throats
Whiskey and gin
Smoke and sin

Responsibility
A new theme to my melody
A baby boy drifts back to sleep
Sing sweet
Breath in, dream deep
These hands are yours to keep

Keep steady now
Ready now
Conquer the world somehow
Pray God will keep wind in these pale, pale sails
Broke like fingernails
Calloused tips from countless chords and scales
As a craft the song of me
At least what I wish to be
Note by tattered note in key
She kisses each one quick and sets them free

A wedding band
Her steady hand
A promise never to be alone again
Pray God our love to keep
As she sings me back to sleep
With her eyes
And I’ve got everything but time
On these hands

But I’m not through yet

The sun has yet to set.


G.Y. Haney, 2010

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Reflections and Changes

One month ago today our little miracle came into the world. Wow. Time really does fly. He's changed so much already, but I love watching him grow. He's 22 inches long now and nearly 9 and 1/2 pounds. He still fits into some newborn onesies, but not for long. He's holding his head up more and more and already wants to stand up. He is starting to love bath time as well, which makes mommy and daddy very happy! Oh my goodness, I fear this will all go a lot faster than I'd prefer, but ... he's still a little peanut to me.

I've had some recent changes to my life that I feared were going to be devastating, but I've been pleasantly blessed and surprised. I lost my job of two years today. Apparently they felt that my position needed some revamping and they've now decided that the position requires two years of college experience (which I don't have) due to the expansion of the new school, therefore leaving me terminated. It was hard to take in. However, the good news is that I didn't leave on bad terms, I can collect unemployment, I get to stay home with my son, and I already have another job lined up starting at the end of August. Yes, I will be a "nanny" to two wonderful children and I get to bring Carter with me everyday. Amazing. I'm sure it will be a bit overwhelming at first to take care of three children, but it will also be great experience. I'm very excited about this change and opportunity, although it is a little scary.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

3 Weeks Old ALREADY!

It's been a while since I've posted a new blog. But, I have found energy (and time) to give my shpeel on our little miracle.

I can hardly believe that 3 weeks ago (to the day) I was in the hospital giving birth to our son. Wow. I would like to take a moment to reflect on that crazy/awesome event. My water broke at 11:30 p.m. on Monday night. By 5:00 a.m. Tuesday morning we were leaving for Holland Hospital. I made it to 7 cm with the help of IV drugs and finally thru lots of tears asked for the epidural. I really, REALLY didn't want to get it and by the time the anesthesiologist made it down to administer the epidural, I was at 8 cm. I only had about 1/2 hour left at that point. I labored for a total of 15 hours, including 50 minutes of pushing and being awake for over 39 hours, Carter entered the world. It was very difficult, but he was completely worth it. :D

I never would've made it through that experience without my loving husband and my amazing cousin, Emily. Emily is an RN who knows her stuff, but more importantly, she knows me. Both her and Geoff made an amazing tag team and were there for me every step of the way. From getting me water, to walking me to the bathroom, to holding on to me while I was contracting ... they were unstoppable and a Godsend.

What I didn't expect was having to stay in the hospital for 4 nights and 5 days. That was more difficult than the pain I went through during labor. Watching your son lay under lights 24/7 not being able to hold him, accept when feeding ... it's something I never want to go through again. I can't imagine what Geoff felt ... he barely held him at all. I cannot even begin to explain how happy I was Saturday morning when we were finally able to go home!

Home.

Being at home with my child has been the most rewarding experience of my life. Our friends and family have been so helpful, loving and supportive. It feels amazing to know that so many people love us and Carter so much! Carter has so many "aunts" and "uncles" it's crazy! I must say that the best part about being home is the support that my husband gives me. Geoff is truly the most amazing man on the planet. He is incredibly thoughtful, compassionate, loving and PATIENT. He's so good with Carter and really is "a natural." He was meant to be a Daddy. A prime example of how good he's been to me would be a situation that arose over the past 24 hours. Last night I developed a fever that gradually got higher and higher and peaked at 102.5 and thankfully broke within 6-8 hours. I figured out that I developed a breast infection called Mastitis. I called my Doctor this morning who prescribed me an anti-biotic. I still wasn't feeling 100%, not even well enough to go less than a mile down the road to get my medicine. So, Geoff left work during his lunch break to get my prescription and brought it to me. Just so I wouldn't have to even worry about it, and so I could rest. That is an amazing husband.

Time goes by so quickly. It breaks my heart to think of returning to work in just 3 short weeks. Damn the man, why can't we get a year's paid maternity leave like they do in Europe? Boo.

All in all, life is good. I have never felt more complete than I do at this moment. God is good.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Carter Is Home!

And has been for a while now! I haven't gotten around to posting anything since the moment he came into this world, May 11th 2010 at 4:11pm, weighing in at 7 lbs. 9 oz. and 20.5 inches tall. His mother did SO wonderful with the delivery. I was severely impressed and proud to stand beside her. And her cousin Emily who assisted us the entire time we were in the hospital that Tuesday was such a rockstar! Love you girls.

Anyhow, on to the update:

the future is now, Doc Brown style...
Our little baby boy was a bit jaundice so we had to stay in the hospital longer than planned, from Tuesday morning to Saturday morning. On Thursday afternoon we were moved to the third floor and put in a pretty small room with nowhere for me to sleep and this neon contraption to your left supplying little Carter with some much needed photo-therapy. It sucked pretty bad actually to have to share a tiny hospital bed, eat hospital food (even though it was usually pretty decent,) and most of all to not be able to hold our new baby. He had to stay under those lights 24-7 unless, obviously, he was feeding. Still... I think he looks pretty bad-ass. Those shades are way cooler than anything Kanye would put on his face.... I guess that's not really saying much...

I solemnly swear that I am up to no good...
Moving on... Saturday morning, May 15th, Carter's bilirubin levels where finally in the safe range and we were allowed to take him home. Since then it's been a wonderful experience. Maybe we haven't hit the rough newborn patches yet or maybe we're just lucky, but Carter is SO good! He eats great, sleeps well, hardly ever gets fussy, is strong and very alert, loves to be held by all his family and friends, and it pretty much the greatest kid that ever graced the planet. Plus, unlike his father, he is super photogenic. That's not bias, that's fact. It's Science. I read it on Wikipedia. Carter Edison Young Haney... best kid ever. He already has a million nicknames, including Blue Steel (because of a face he always pulls (re: Zoolander,)) Carter Sauce, C Money, White Whoopi (because he hasn't grown any eyebrows yet,) and "My Squishy," which was bestowed upon him by his Aunt Ally.

Michelle is tired but adjusting well and is seriously growing into a great mom. I knew she would. She's pretty much great at everything else.


Other than Carter, life goes on pretty much without a hitch. There's still work to be done, both at my paying job and my unpaid job (writing) and I've been getting back into the swing of things with both. I went back to UniSource last week Thursday after enjoying Mon-Wed home with my family. It was great to have a mini-vacation of sorts. All in all, Carter is a very motivating force in my desire to accomplish my dreams, work harder, love the Lord stronger, and basically be an all around better human, and he really makes being a dad a lot of fun!

On the writing front, tomorrow I am sending out my scholarship consideration packet to the Midwest Writers Workshop. Every year they offer a few scholarships to writers who want to attend but don't have the financial means. I had to write a letter stating my writing goals and experience and my financial needs (that was daunting) and a five page writing sample. (I sent the first five pages of The Sons of The Moon, naturally, which, by the way, you can read here if you'd like. You can read the first 4 chapters in fact. Go on, do it.) Its kind of an odd feeling basically begging for money, and having not sent scholarship applications to colleges in my day, it was a new experience. Hopefully it would pan out. I would absolutely love to go, God willing.

So that about does it on the ketchup - er, catch-up. (Ketchup? How the H am I still hungry?) I will most likely be posting a couple of more "writerly" entries this weekend because I'm trying to hash out some topics that have been on my mind. I hope to use such topics to enter a contest to win a guest blogger slot on the excellent Pimp My Novel. I guess after my foray into guest blogging, I've got the bug! So look for that... or ignore it completely until there's more Carter talk! Come on, admit it... that's why most of you are here. He's way more interesting than I am!

Take care and God bless.

G

P.S. If you enjoy indie pop-punk and have a minute, check out Junior Battles. I've had the song Major Label Bidding War off their new 7" stuck in my dang head all day! It's good tunage... and if you didn't know this about me, I have really good taste in music. :P

P.P.S. I also apparently have a crush on ellipses...

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Today Is The Day! pt. 2

So it's a little after three now and Michelle has done SUCH an amazing job! She was experience a lot of back labor and was so very tired that we decided at 7cm to do an epidural. Before that she had taken only a couple doses of pain meds and I'm very proud of her for trying to things natural like she wanted to. We just ran into little Carter wanted to come out "sunny-side up" which leads to a lot of back pain because his hard noggin is press on the pelvis and spine instead of his soft little face.

So we started things off on the birthing ball and it went really well for her. Tony (Mic's brother, pictured) stopped by for a photo op and Del (her dad) also made it out before having to get back to the farm. But we hit some hard times there and, after a valiant effort, Mic opting for the epidural.

Now she's awake and feeling much better, so much better in fact that she's now doing her make-up! Go figure. And it looks like the pushing has begun!!! Gotta jet - I have a son to meet!!!

Today Is The Day! pt. 1

So we are officially all settled in to Holland Hospital for the birth of little Carter. What's that you ask? Oh, yes, he is exactly TWO WEEKS EARLY! I blame our families - they've all been calling it all week. Way to jinx us!

Carter is feeling just fine and his heart rate is right on track. Michelle's blood pressure has been a bit high so she has been stuck in bed until just a few minutes ago. Now she's rolling on the birthing ball and says it is really helping her battle those contractions, which are now about 3-5 minutes apart!

Emily (pictured) is here with us assisting in the labor, and Mama Wedeven, Linnea (Mic's sis) and Ryan (our nephew and new cousin-to-be!) are here in the room for a bit keeping us company.

So things are under way! I just got some delicious breakfast from the great cafe they have here at Holland and Michelle has requested Journey on the iTunes, so things are going well! Thank you for your prayers and support and I will do my best to keep you updated.

Geoff

Friday, April 30, 2010

We're Almost There!

36 weeks, 26 days away now! Geoff and I got wonderful news yesterday from the doctor. I'm 2 cm dialated, 50% effaced, Carter has dropped, his head is down, ready to go and they estimated that he'll be 7 1/2-8 pounds at birth.

The nursery is really coming along (pictures to be posted soon), we just need to paint the dresser we got from Aunt Deb and Uncle Phil (thanks again, we LOVE it!) and I think we're ready. It feels good to be able to say that. :D

Geoff is so stoked to be a Dad. I truly can't wait to see my son in his arms, he's going to be an amazing father. You should all see how adorable he is when he talks to my belly. It's truly precious.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Gifts And A Pregnancy Update

Blessings. Geoff and I have received many recently. I had my last baby shower this past Saturday, and it was so wonderful to see all of my friends and family, not to mention to have all the love and support that surrounded me. Thank you everyone for making it wonderful!

Geoff and I aren't 100% set on everything that needs to be done before Carter arrives, but after this weekend, we are certainly closer. We got our Stroller/Car seat "travel system," the changing table assembled and in the nursery (along with totes to store diapers, creams, lotions, etc.), and Geoff proved that he is a true "man's man" and put together our crib without any instructions and without ever seeing it put together before. :D He rocks. The crib is massive! It seriously takes up at least 1/4 of the room. lol. It's beautiful, but whooza! Also, thanks to our extremely generous friends Jen and Bill, we now have a high chair and a Pack and Play (that raises into a bassinet) that match for FREE. It's too much you guys, but Geoff and I appreciate it more than I can express. THANK YOU! We ALSO are going to be getting a cute, square dresser from Geoff's aunt Deb and uncle Phil for Carter's clothes. 36x36 ... I can't wait.

There's still a lot left to do as far as preparation goes, such as organizing the nursery, laundry and unpackaging bottles and kitchen stuff and what not. We also need to pack our hospital bag, but the thing that stinks is a lot of stuff we need to bring to the hospital is stuff we use daily. lol. We'll figure it out. I'm doing my best to pace myself and not get too anxious or worked up, but it's a lot and it's overwhelming.

I'm really starting to feel pregnant, now that I'm 35 weeks and still measuring ahead of time ... I really shouldn't complain because for the most part I've had a wonderful pregnancy and have felt pretty good. However, Carter has already dropped which means sitting, standing, laying ... none of them are comfortable for any period of time. However, I am going to try to help myself out by getting into a regular workout routine to build muscles and stamina for the "big day." My friend Shana loaned me this wonderful pregnancy workout that I did yesterday, and I felt great while doing it, and even better today. (My appetite increased overnight from all the calories I burned though ... so I felt like I kind of defeated the purpose, lol.) Therefore, I'm going to continue to do that every day that I can. There's also a post baby workout as well, so I'm hoping to trim the fat as quickly as possible and hopefully more than just the baby weight!

Geoff and I are trying to enjoy the sunshine as much as possible and are filling up our weekends with friends along with alone time. I'm starting to feel the stress of, "this is the last time we'll be alone!" Or, "this is the last time we can hang out with these friends without stress of a baby sitter fiasco." Silly I know, but we're trying to get the most out of our time as possible.

Thanks for checking in and for listening. :D

Thursday, April 15, 2010

34 Weeks And Other Junk

Spring Break was last week. It was so great to have a whole week off from work. Not so great not making money, but I got lots of things accomplished including many visits with friends, cleaning the house, and getting some things reorganized. However, I must say it feels good to be back at work again. There's something to be said for the daily grind. :D The only negative was that I spent the majority of it with a bad cold, and I ended the week with a bang by getting food poisoning. I've never had that before, and I don't wish it upon anybody. I've never felt so horrible in my entire life.

Moving on ....

Thank God for the internet. I'm so thankful for the Pampers, Huggies, and What to Expect When You're Expecting websites. Their weekly updates and articles have been so incredibly helpful throughout this entire pregnancy to both Geoff and I, I don't know what I'd do without them. Clearly, people have been having children for years without all this info at their fingertips and have gotten by just fine. However, for someone who is a control freak, like me, it's so nice to get any question that pops into my head answered pretty close to immediately. I love it.

I had my 34 week appt. today. I had a 30 minute wait, but then a 45 minute long appt. once I got in there. Now, this was my doing. I had several questions, and I figured, they made me wait, I might as well get all my questions answered dang it! I asked all about how do I know when I'm in labor, what can I expect at the hospital, blah blah blah. Overall, it was really good. My blood pressure was perfect, and I only gained 2 more pounds. Carter's heartbeat was 132, and his head is down and where it should be! In two weeks from today I'll be 36 weeks and we'll do the first internal exam where they can tell if I'm dilating and preform a Strep B test. That hit me kind of hard, because it made me realize that it's really not far away now. Whooza ... that's scary.

I have a baby shower coming up this Saturday. I'm very excited to see everyone! Once again, I know it's going to be overwhelming and humbling, but I love any excuse to get people together!

Geoff and I finally finished painting the changing table and crib! Now all we need is a dresser, rocking chair and a book case for Carter, and we'll be all set. Thank God for my Mom, she's going to keep an eye open for me at garage sales! Geoff and I are picking up the painted furniture this weekend and hope to set up Carter's nursery this weekend! I can't wait to FINALLY get some things in place.

Other than that, Geoff and I are adjusting to some transition slowly with our jobs, the up coming birth amongst other things, but over all I suppose we're hanging in there. Finances are never easy, but our love carries us through. Sounds very cheesy, but it's more true than I can say. There may be times where we're short on cash, but one thing I'm sure we'll never be short on is our love.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Getting To The Point

So I had a great experience last week Wednesday. Casey McCormick at Literary Rambles was nice enough to post my article, Self-Publishing: Your "Demo" Tape? as a guest blogger piece on LR. LR has over 400 readers and is a very informative and helpful site for would-be writers. I had written the piece for Creating Life and e-mailed her asking to check it out and if she enjoyed it to republish it on her blog. She was totally gracious and cool and said that she would. She did however mention something I found odd at the time. She said that because of its length it may not get that many comments.

It's been over a week now and it has received 10 comments (two of which are mine.) On a blog with steady readership and a pretty regular flow of traffic, I have to somewhat assume that Casey's prediction was correct. Since I believe I wrote it well and self-pub in this New World of e-books is definitely a hot-button issue, I have to believe that the piece was just too long.

A couple of lessons learned here:
  1. Casey understands this blog thing WAY better then I do!
  2. I need to learn how to get to the point! My blogs tend to be very rant-ish in style, written as opinion pieces for entertainment purposes more than to speak from a given platform (frankly, because I haven't earned one.) But I do want them to spark debate. I think debate is fun! The article in question is no exception, and my buddy Jon Gibbs started a discussion on self-pub on his blog after reading and commenting on my article, and that did receive some good chat. So that was cool to see. But his counter-opinion on my opinion was probably a third the size of mine and still he managed to make his point loud and clear! I think that in spinning my yarn - in trying to make my point - people have missed the point, or simply I've failed to illustrate it concisely and in an effective manner.
So what do I take away from this experience? No, I don't hate you all (at least not anymore than I already did. :P) What I need to be weary of is that my blog-iness doesn't transfer to my actual writing. I catch myself doing it sometimes, pontificating on something that isn't that important to the story in any way, shape, or form. Now I like detail as much as the next guy. But needless detail? My PIC Matt called me out on it once when I went off about why a character in The Sons of The Moon wore the type of clothes he did and how it circled back to what music he listened to and what "scene" he hung out in. It was interesting to me because, frankly, the character is modeled after me. But Matt was like.... "dude... what is all this?" I made it unrelatable. Perhaps I did the same thing with my article - too many references to things the LR audience doesn't relate to.

So in short, before I ramble on again in this post, I think it's important as writers to:
  1. Check yourself - Make sure you aren't tangenting off into no-man's land.
  2. Be relateable - This means knowing your hopeful audience and using language and reference they can follow
  3. GET TO THE POINT - Because that's what we write for, after all, to share a perspective. The road to reach it can be long, but it must be entertaining (and not just long because we don't know when to shut up!)
What do you think? Do you catch yourselves growing long-winded in your writing? Are there evident places you could trim the fat?

Monday, March 29, 2010

8 Months and Counting

32 weeks/8 months along today. Wow. Carter is weighing in at 4 pounds and is just over 19 inches long. I cannot believe that I only have 6-8 weeks left in this pregnancy. I am so ready physically for this to be over. Sleep is getting harder and harder to come by. You can expect that all you want, but no one can ever prepare you for sleep deprivation. lol. However, in every other way, Carter can stay inside as long as he wants! I have a feeling I'm going to miss my little nudger insider of me.

It really hit me hard today that this is happening in a shorter amount of time than I would prefer. I think it's because I had my first baby shower this past Sunday, given by my sister in law, Miranda. (Thank you again Auntie M) It was so beautiful, fun and overwhelming! Geoff and I received many wonderful gifts. Everyone was far too generous. (Thank you to everyone who was able to come!) I have one more shower lined up for April 17, and I'm very much looking forward to that as well!

Geoff and I got all of the baby furniture sanded and primed this past Saturday. We begin the painting stages this upcoming Saturday. It's supposed to get into the 70's this week, so it's perfect painting weather! I think it's going to turn out beautiful! I can't wait to get it all home and actually start working on Carter's nursery. I'm such a planner/organizer, it's been driving me NUTS not having it all prepared. All in good time. Also my cousin Emily and I are going to be working on some photography art this Friday to put up on the walls, since we live in an apartment where we're not allowed to paint. Boo. It's completely awesome what we're going to do. We're taking all of these old school toys, like He-Man, Legos, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, etc. setting up some sweet scenes, and taking pictures. We'll use a white back drop so if we want, we can super impose a different picture in the back ground on photo shop. Genius. :D Thanks to Geoff's mad graphic design skills.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Self Publishing: Your Demo Tape?

Last post was the family hat. Right now I'm gonna put on my writer hat. Feel free to tune out if you're not interested...

But I think you should be, because this isn't only about writing. It's about art and the consumption of it. So yea, let's see if I can organize all these thoughts into something coherent! :D

As I've been diving harder than I ever have before into editing a manuscript, I've been learning a ton. But lately I've found myself wondering what to do next. I know I wish to have an agent and a publishing deal when it comes to The World Within My Walls. It's a series (a big one - four main stories and possibly four related tales, including two prequels...) and I want to make sure my rights are intact for something I feel could make a long-term splash out there in the world - if given a chance. But I've been battling with what to do in the MEANTIME, that is to say, the time when TWWMW will sit idly on my computer and its queries sit unanswered in the slush piles of agents too busy these days to dole out rejections with anything more than a form letter (if they send anything at all.)

I have myriad other ideas that could be better suited for the New World: e-books. (Eeek!) Or more specifically... SELF-PUBLISHED e-books (and non-e-books alike)!!! Now before I'm struck down by the Publishing Gods of Old, let me remind them that I did just mention that in many ways I prefer the Old Ways: A publishing house edits, designs, prints, and promotes your book and you sit back to take in the profits (hoping that it sells.) But this day and age is not for the author who simply sits back. More and more authors are relied on to almost tirelessly promote themselves. There is just far too much entertainment out there to not be active! Getting lost in the crowd is almost a given. A review in Entertainment Weekly or a positive blurb from some big wig won't alone sell your book (unless that big wig is a certain Mrs. Meyer, in which case you might as well buy your mansion right now...) Authors need to go out there and FIND their audiences, with blogging, Facebook pages, Twitters, Tweeties, Torpedoes, Tiptocksters, or any other oddly names social networking site that comes out this month. Therefor authors, especially new ones, are more responsible than ever for the success of their product. This is a good thing, I think. Who is better at selling something than the person passionate enough about it to sink countless hours, days, weeks, and years of their life into creating it?

Yet publishers, store chains, and e-book outlets seem to forget all that. They want US to do more for less (go ahead and check out this post from lit agent/blogger extraordinaire Kirstin Nelson for just one glaring example.) With more people out there writing books than ever before and new technology looming around every corner, the Big Guys hope to cling even tighter to those keys to the pearly gates of publishing heaven while squeezing as much money out as they can. I think they're afraid that their time is running out, at least their time of being financial giants. Its a pessimistic worldview, perhaps, but lets not kid ourselves. We've seen this in the music industry, an industry who continues to cry about profits dropping from 13.5 BILLION to 8 BILLION dollars since the wave of file-share and the Internet. If I ever complain about making 8 BILLION dollars, I want someone to cut my head off.

But they NEEDED to make that money, because they had grown so large under the weight of their own self-importance that every dime they made they SPENT. And now that they aren't making as much, they find it hard to pay for the things they once paid for (mainly CEO salaries. *tear*) But that's a discussion for another time.

Back to publishing. We have this model of publishing that is intrinsically designed for Gate Keeper mentality. An agent must like your work. That agent must convince a publisher to like it. That publisher must convince those who hold the purse strings to promote and present it properly (you know, as if they liked it.) How many hoops does a story-teller jump through just to REACH an audience? How much approval (opinion) must we seek before someone actually READS our story simply to ENJOY it free from the worry of if they're making any MONEY of it or not?

So it may have been all well and good back in the day to hand over so much responsibility and profit to a publishing house, seeing as they were chiefly involved in making you money and sharing your work. But now authors have even more responsibility in selling themselves. Heck, most of the blogs I follow our authors just like me, seeking an audience while having little if ANY published works to their credit. Already we're pimping ourselves. Why? Because its what you gotta do now. It looks good on your resume to have a blog and a readership, even if you don't quite have anything published. So on top of pouring over and perfecting manuscripts, synopsises (synopsi?), and query letters (*shudder*) we should maintain and write blogs, guest blog on other blogs with more readership, read and comment on each others blogs, and have a veritable blog orgy in the limited amount of time we have between ACTUAL writing, family, and (in most cases) a 9-5 that pays the bills. Why, then, would we want to do all this promotion and networking just to turn around and hand over more of our money to companies who seem to be doing less, or at the very least doing the same (while we work harder.)

Enter self-publishing.

Yar, is it easy these days. We don't even have to BUY the books first, with a little thing called Print-On-Demand (POD.) Now, it takes a lot of work and a lot of know-how. But I argue that we're already DOING most of the work. We tirelessly join critique groups. We're networking with not only authors but artists and designers and musicians and all these creative types. You mean to tell me that between all the people you know you couldn't find one starving artist who is exceptionally good as an editor (maybe even freelances or has held an editor position in the past) and would be willing to work with you for little to no money? Remember, they're a fan of you or your project already without seeing dollar signs in their eyes. And it can become a you-scratch-my-back-I'll-scratch-yours scenario. Same with designers. Plenty of people in your circles I'm sure could teach you to properly create a PDF which would be the layout of your POD book. You could have illustrations! Tons of them, because a publisher isn't freaked out by how much ink it would be!

My point in saying all of this boils down to one thing: One of people's biggest complaints I've heard with the POD and self-publishing models is that "99.9% of its list is nearly unreadable dreck" because there aren't "quality checks" in place. How does that make you feel? That just because you haven't found an agent or a house whose opinion is that your story is good (and will sell) and choose instead to self-pub that you're peddling garbage? The quote above came from an anecdote by seasoned man of publishing Michael Stearns, founder and agent at Upstart Crow Literary. It was posted on the linked blog entry (read it, Upstart Crow is a pretty cool and "with the times" agency) and goes on to make many valid points about the importance of publishers and editors, including that they bring with them "those ineffable quality enhancers that make a book cost more than its printing, paper, and binding. Editing. Marketing. Publicity. Design. Attention to detail. Vision." All well and good.

But I argue that, in this new age, authors are already DOING so much of this, and that our web of contacts and networking buddies could help us with the rest. We already need to have a manuscript looking solid before submitting it. Agents want to see that we can do all those things above: self-edit, self-marketing and promotion; our attention to detail and our vision. Why? Because we are no longer simply creators of story, we are partners in selling a product. I will never sit here and say publishing houses are over and done with, or diminish the importance of a solid critique group, a skilled agent, and an experienced editor. I'm merely saying that we don't necessarily have to rely on one to get the others.

I'll equate it (as I always tend to do, because that's where most of my experience is) to the music industry. Look at it like this. No one 10 years ago thought you could make a living off original music without a label. A label, after all, fronted hundreds of thousands of dollars for you and/or your band to go to a studio, paid for you to make a music video, and promoted you (that is, if they felt like it. More bands got dropped in the 90s due to lack of promotion than I can even count...) But now, that just isn't the case. What made it possible? Technology. MySpace began dictating what was popular and put artists directly in touch with an audience. Home studios became all the rage. We can shoot and edit our own music video and have it on YouTube in a week. My former band spent a little under 3 grand to buy an entire recording studio (Mac laptop and all) which we used to produce completely serviceable recordings. Could it have gone on the radio the next day? Maybe not. But our MUSIC, our MESSAGE was out there. There are more than a handful of examples of success musicians have had with just a few microphones and a solid set of MIDI synths and beats. Adam Young, the man behind the wildly popular Owl City did just that...

Owl City was started by Adam Young in his parents' basement while he worked at a Coca-Cola warehouse,[1][2] turning to music as a result of his insomnia.[3] Young received much attention for songs he had uploaded to MySpace, the "viral popularity" of which would later result in his signing to Universal Republic.[3][4] In 2007, Owl City released an EP titled Of June, followed by the 2008 release of the album Maybe I'm Dreaming. Of June reached #20 on the Billboard Electronic Albums chart, and Maybe I'm Dreaming peaked on the same chart at #16.[5]

Owl City's first two records were released while Young was unsigned. In early 2009, music industry website "Crazed Hits" leaked that Owl City signed with the major label Universal Republic.[6]

Owl City's third album Ocean Eyes was released on iTunes July 14, 2009, with the physical release following on July 28, 2009. The album debuted at #27 on the Billboard 200. Owl City has released four singles, "Hello Seattle", "Hot Air Balloon", "Strawberry Avalanche", and "Fireflies".[7] "Fireflies" topped the US and Canadian charts and became the most-downloaded song on iTunes in the US. Ocean Eyes reached the top ten on the US album charts and topped the US electronic charts and also reached Amazon MP3's top 10 most downloaded album list. By December 2009, it was certified Gold in the United States. On 24 January 2010, Owl City reached the number 1 spot in the UK Top 40 Singles chart with "Fireflies".

via Wikipedia

See that? Adam hit Billboard's electronic charts WITHOUT a major label. He landed a deal on the STRENGTH of his own self-produced product. And then look what he did with major backing. No one told Adam he was good enough - he told THEM. And Adam didn't just cut a disk and sell a few hundred copies at a local record shop (wait, what's that?...), I'm talking national radio play (his newest single is actually on the radio in the other room as I write this), attention from the big labels, loads of MySpace fans. All produced from the kid's basement. All which he and a team he surrounded himself with worked for tirelessly. I suspect we could see the same sort of thing happen with POD, especially with the wave of e-books making access to a book quick and easy (just the way we've been trained to like it. Thanks iTunes.)

So if you're thinking about self-publishing, as I am, remember that it's not always about the glitz and gloss of the finished product. Yes, Owl City does sound more polished than a rapper's Escalade, but there are plenty of indie bands out there who actually EMBRACE the low-fi, DIY sound of a home studio and write great material doing so. There are million dollar studios trying to EMULATE that sound for their million dollar artists because they fail to see its not the presentation, its the message. The "best" isn't always better, and for me, it will ALWAYS boils down to the message and the passion. It's about the story.

So do the work, find that editor and design friend (if you haven't inadvertently already,) do your very best to present the product well. Embrace your limitations and make the most of what you CAN accomplish. And then go out and promote the heck out of it! (You're already doing it now...) Don't imagine you will sell a Rowling amount of copies and don't try to hit a home run the first time out. Just put your best foot forward and surround yourself with the tools and the people to make that happen - people who were in your corner long before an agent told them they should be. Think of that self-pub release as a demo tape, something to give the masses and to get your sound out there. Don't let the fact that there's a lot of crap out there keep you from considering producing your own work (there was and still is a lot of crap on MySpace and there was, still is, and always will be a lot of crap in Barnes & Noble) Self-publishing isn't for the Big Guys, its for us and our audience, no matter how small it is. And who knows, maybe your little book could be the Owl City of the literary world.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Kicks To The Head

So this is my family blog, as well as my writer blog. When I jump on here, I wear different hats.

Tonight I'm posting a quick family update, so here's this! Michelle is clipping right along! This is our photo from March 15 at 30 weeks in! I've starting talking to Carter at night before bed. Its pretty fun. I don't say much, but I pretty much have to do it once a day now since about a week ago I leaned over the belly, said hello to my son, and put my ear where I had just placed my lips. He instantly kicked in me in the head. I'd say that's the perfect way for our relationship to start! Now I'm kinda trying it all the time to see if he'll do it again. You know, because I think its funny. And he can get away with it for now, so why not let him? All in all we've been very blessed with a smooth pregnancy. I hope he's as little trouble out as he is in. :D

On a writing note I'm meeting with Matty tonight to discuss our projects (my focus of course is The Sons of the Moon, his is Disciple 6, a comic book that has been stewing in his mind since his early teens. It's mega sweet.) We haven't got together in a long time and I'm really looking forward to it. Hopefully brains will be storming tonight! I'll post again soon on a longer, more official "writer's journey/rant" thing I've been working on this week. So look for that! Until then, take care!


Tuesday, March 9, 2010

29 Weeks and Still Preparing

Last week Thursday, Geoff and I visited my OB for my 28 week appt. Everything is looking GREAT! I didn't gain as much weight as I thought I had, and my glucose test came back normal. I'm measuring a week a head of schedule, which made me slightly panic, but other than that, the heart rate is perfect and Carter seems to be very content in his little home. That's fine by me, I'm not ready for him to come out just yet. :D

Just yesterday I registered at Holland Hospital for Geoff and I to take a Childbirth Education class, which turns out to be a class that Medicaid covers. Whoot! Also, my good friend Kim and her husband Rick signed up for the same class, which is pretty cool that we can share this experience together! It's an all day class on May 1. I'm very excited. Kim and I are also going to a Mom-2-Mom sale this Saturday at Holland Christian. Hopefully we'll find some nice things for our baby's at a good price!

I'm getting very anxious about our little man coming into the world, which of course is very normal, but it's not out of fear of not being able to be a mom. It's more like, certain things that I'd like to have in place are not happening right now. The nursery hasn't been set up at all because deep down, I've been hoping that Geoff and I would have found an apartment in Zeeland. Or that the one we really want would open up. However, I've come to the realization that you can't manipulate anything to happen the way you want things to happen, but just have to go with the flow. That doesn't mean it's not frustrating and maddening though. I suppose the plan as of right now is that we'll stay in Grandville until October, although I have no desire whatsoever to do that. Ugh, I suppose we'll just keep praying about this entire situation and trust that God knows what he's doing. That is always a challenge for me, but I'm working on it.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

In Other News ...

I'm 28 weeks along today! Baby Carter is 16 inches long and just over 2 1/2 pounds. He's not kicking as much as before, but I can feel him shifting around inside more. He's like a big bulge on one side of my stomach or the other. It's really weird, but very cool at the same time. We have our 28 week check up this Thursday and I'm really hoping that they're not going to tell me I'm becoming a fatty, lol. I've been doing my best to not gain a lot of weight, but I've heard that as you get closer to the big day, the bigger and bigger you get. Eeek! Only 3 months, or 12 weeks to go until we meet our little man.

I've been having a lot of strange dreams lately. I've always had weird dreams, but they're almost every night now, it's crazy. Between the dreaming and the fact that I only get 4 solid hours of sleep a night, I'm either slap happy most days, or REALLY crabby/irritable. Just ask Geoff. :D He's been so amazing. Very patient and helpful. I couldn't do this without him. He's the best.

We finally bought paint for the crib, changing table, bassinet, and dresser. It's called Dark Granite, and it's similar to a dark espresso brown color. I'm pretty excited about painting, and I think it's going to look really sharp. We can't paint until it gets a little warmer outside, so bring on the SPRING!

Geoff and I have been down to one car for almost two weeks now. His van was declared "unsafe" a while back, but thankfully we are getting it fixed this week! Thank goodness for tax money!

Overall some things are coming together, but the uncertainty of our living situation along with my job still being in Grand Rapids, things are still a little hectic.

The On-going Apartment Search

Hello everyone. It's been a while since Geoff or myself have posted anything new, but alas, here it is.

Geoff and I are still looking for an apartment in Zeeland that we can afford. With the baby on the way, and Geoff's work relocating in 4 short months we really need to be closer to our families. We need a 2 bedroom that allows cats, and only has electricity as the utilities. Of course I could go on about wanting a dishwasher and laundry in unit, but bottom line is that we need the rent to be $550 or less per month. I've been doing a lot of apartment searching online and via the classifieds and so far have come up with nothing. Every apartment that we can afford is in Holland, but we need it to be in Zeeland. The apartment can be a complex or a house, we don't care, as long as it's in a decent neighborhood. The whole thing has been very frustrating, and to be honest I'm starting to get really nervous. God has been good and has been taking care of us so far, but our financial circumstances will be changing very shortly here.

Thank you to everyone who's been praying for us. Your love, care and support mean the world to us.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Valentine's Day, The Joys of Gift Registry, and Back to Work

Valentine's Day. I love it and I hate it all at the same time. Holiday's that seem to be invented by Hallmark such as this, along with Sweetest Day just don't seem to be all that genuine. Shouldn't everyday be "like" Valentine's Day? Anyway ... moving on.

Geoff and I had an extremely random Valentine's Day. We started the day very early because he was scheduled to play in the band that morning at church, and I decided to tag along. Being up at 6 a.m. on a Sunday, not fun ... but wasn't as bad as I thought it would be either. I spent my time reading and socializing with fellow members before church. It made me remember why I love Engedi so much. The service was amazing and really hit home for both Geoff and I. Our Pastor, Brian was talking about guidance and boy, do we need some of that. Doesn't everyone? It was awesome.

After church we were going to head to Target to begin our gift registry, but decided that we were WAY too tired for that. We ended up going home for a little while, but convinced ourselves that we needed to get the registry done! We ventured out to run a few errands, starting with Best Buy where Geoff used his gift card. Then it was Target. We were extremely disappointed with the Target in Jenison. They seriously had nothing for babies there, it was just a bad idea. However, the good thing was that it REALLY opened our eyes to the fact that we have NO IDEA WHAT WE'RE DOING! lol. Becoming a parent already has had its hardships, but man o man, are we in for a treat. :D So, today we'll be heading to a different Target that will hopefully have a better selection of what we need.

After registering at Target, we headed over to Meijer to return pop bottles. Oh yeah, we're cool like that. The plan was to go home and have a Harry Potter Movie Marathon ... however, neither of us felt like doing that. Especially me, who's been cooped up in the apartment for 2 weeks. We went over to the mall, and let me tell you ... it was CRAZY. I kept thinking to myself, "who goes to the mall on Valentine's Day?! ... oh yeah, we're here too. Dang it!" It was actually kind of pleasant to window shop. We spent the majority of our time in Barnes and Noble (we both are obsessed with books and that store especially). We checked out a few other stores along with Helzberg to drop off Geoff's wedding band. It really needed to be replated, and it takes two weeks. Geoff was so sad to see it go, he's so sweet. I think the best part of our mall trip was sharing a blizzard from Dairy Queen. A pregnant women's DREAM! :D Oh, we also got Snackers from Olga's. If you haven't had Snackers, you haven't lived and shame on you! They're amazing! Finally, we settled in at home for a very relaxing night, and we still ended up watching the first Harry Potter. We're such nerds.

I suppose the moral of the story with our randomness is that just becuase it was Valentine's Day, and you're supposed to spend lots of money on your love, get flowers, cards, chocolates etc. clearly doesn't mean we had to in order to have a good time. Everyday truly is like Valentine's Day with Geoff. He treats me like a Queen, most if not all days.

Alright, enough mushy stuff. Work.

I've been on workers comp for two weeks now, and today was my first day back. No lie, it feels good. I never thought I'd say that, but I truly missed the "busyness." The drama I could do without, but it's almost like a family when you work at a school. You can't have the good without the bad. :D However, on the not so positive side, workers comp has had it's ups and downs as well. They payed for a massage for me last week, and I found out that they'd pay for more, so that's awesome! However, we found out how much we'll be getting monetary wise ... and it's not even close to what I make in two weeks. Therefore, I have no idea what we're going to do. Once again, another test for us to put our full faith in God and rely on Him for guidance. Whew.

Once again, a big shout out to those of you who have been so supportive with love and prayers. This journey called life, it's not easy, but you all make it better and more enjoyable. Love you all!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

FYI

So I used to have a blog that I did strictly about The Sons of The Moon. I won't be adding to it ever again now that I have this one, but I will update the links section in it to include excerpts I post from the novel on this blog. There are some older excerpts already linked that you won't find in Creating Life. It's a pretty cool little blog and dates back almost to the very start of this journey, so if you're interested in how The Sons of The Moon came to be and how the journey so far has looked, feel free to check it out!

See that little Sons of The Moon logo over on the left side of your screen (in THE PROJECTS menu)? Just click on that bad boy and you can go peruse the blog at your leisure.

Thanks!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Money in The Landscape of Big Dreams

If you're a frequent reader of this blog, you know that Michelle and I are in no shortage of financial woes. We talk about them on here with you not to complain or to dwell on the negative, but more so to share, so that if you are in the same sorts of situations, you can take solace in the fact that you're not alone. If it doesn't always come across that way, know that our hearts, if not always our words, are in the right place.

That being said, agent extraordinaire Rachelle Gardner posted a blog today (Keep Money in its Place) that really hit home for me, and probably for many others (writers or otherwise) as times (especially in MI) get tougher and tougher. It really spoke about having financial patience and a plan to solve your problems, one that doesn't involve words like, "Get a contract for this book so we can get out of this financial jam we're in." Dang have I uttered those words so, so, so, so, so many times! And I never really thought about how they could affect the spirit of my writing and the joy I take in it.

Rachelle goes on to say...

Don't get me wrong, it's perfectly legitimate to have long-term goals that include making some percentage of your income from writing books. ... I've found that when the writing is all mixed up in your mind with a financial need, especially a need that's fraught with anxiety, the writing suffers. Not only that, but the joy is diminished, because the goal has changed (maybe without your even knowing it) from "write a great book" to "pay off my MasterCard." And when that fantastic day comes and you finally get your first book contract, instead of being able to experience the joy of attaining a long-held goal, you'll be asking yourself if the advance is enough to pay off the MasterCard. A goal is a good thing. Desperation... not so good.


Wow, what a wake-up call. I know many of us out there are struggling to make our dreams a reality. Just today I was talking with my sister about her desire to go back to school and study sports business and management. She hopes to someday have a career in the behind-the-scenes of high school, college, or professional football, maybe even as a COACH! Do you have any idea how hard of a dream that is to accomplish? I do. I want to be a full-time, professional writer of fiction. My other good buddy Shaun (Remember Everything) is working diligently on an album of his music. It is an intensely honest and personal record, and he's really putting his whole heart into it. This is his dream, his goal, and it is also one not easily attained. Compound that with the fact that he - like so many others - has been unemployed for a while, and the stress to "pay the bills" and "play the music" can too often go hand in hand. I know he feels the pressure of this, and yet so far, his drive has only created the BEST art I've heard him create over the last 6 years of our friendship and mutual musical endeavors.

It IS easy to get caught up in the finances of reaching our goals. So let's remember the words of Rachelle today: "The quickest way to lose the joy is to expect that your first book contract is going to solve some kind of financial problem in your life." Now get out there and make some dreams come true, forgetting whether or not you'll ever yield a cent from your hard work. The creation is true gold, so treasure it.


We are the music makers,
And we are the dreamers of dreams,
Wandering by lone sea-breakers,
And sitting by desolate streams;—
World-losers and world-forsakers,
On whom the pale moon gleams:
Yet we are the movers and shakers
Of the world for ever, it seems.

The Ode by Arthur William Edgar O'Shaughnessy

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Moving: The Story of Our Lives...

Since Geoff and I have been together, we've seen our fair share of "homes." When we first got together we lived in an apartment with two other room mates, then I lived in a separate place for a while. Then we got an apartment together about 3 blocks away from our previous apartment. We were there for just over a year, but realized we missed home. Therefore, we headed back to our hometown, Zeeland. We only stayed there for about 6 months because we realized how much money we were spending on gas with our commutes for our jobs, and it was ridiculous. We currently reside in Grandville, the perfect in between town! We're close to home, we're close to work. Well, we'll only be close to one of those for a short period of time ... that's where our latest news comes in.

Last week Thursday, Geoff was at work when he was called into a meeting in which he was told that the company will be relocating in June/July of 2010... February of 2011 at the absolute latest. The company is currently in Grand Rapids, and they're relocating to the south side of Holland. Wow. Thanks a lot, we just moved to Grandville less than 5 months ago.

In reality, this is actually a great thing, but the timing couldn't be worse. Our lease isn't up until October which means we'll need to break the lease. Not only do I not feel good about doing that to a company that's been great to us, but it's going to cost some major monies do to it. And there's a good chance we'll be needing to get out of the lease before October comes. It's just really stressful because with Carter on the way, I don't want to move after he's born. Life is going to be complicated enough with a newborn. We don't need to throw a move in there too. Also, I don't want to have a nursery all set up and settled just to take it down. (That's just the mom in me though, I suppose.) The good news is that it just so happens that our old landlords from Zeeland would be happy to have us back, which is just a blessing! We can afford the apartment and it has decent sized bedrooms (2), great landlords, and is less than 3 minutes from Geoff's parents house, and about 10 minutes from my rents place. This way we'll have sitters that are close by, Geoff will be near work, and I'll be the only one who has a commute. I can handle that, I like to drive.

Once again, it's just a situation that is completely "out of our control." That seems to be happening to us a lot lately. We're also in need of a car fixin. We're awaiting my last W2 to come so we can file our taxes, so we CAN pay for the car fixin. Oy. I hate when your world starts to revolve around money. That's the last thing I want it to revolve around. Such is life I suppose.

Anyway, thanks to everyone for your continuous support, love and prayers!

Inspiration From The Works of Others

I'm reading two books these days. That's a lot for me, considering I rarely read one. Yes, I'm one of those guys - a writer who has a hard time diving into books. When I decided a couple of years ago to take my writing seriously, I knew I would have start reading again, just as when I was in a band and I consumed every ounce of new music in my respective genres to see what the competition was like. But I am cursed with being a very slow reader. So I began downloading audio books and I love it! Listening to a book for about 6 hours at work is a great way to enjoy a book in a matter of a couple of days - reading it from the pages would generally take me a matter of a couple of months! So I am listening to a book right now at work. But I'm also reading one at home before bed.

Go figure that the book I'm reading is one I actually already LISTENED to a while back, Neil Gaiman's American Gods. If my life goes anywhere near the way I want it to and I have the power to call some shots in my career, I am going to meet this man and personally beg him to let me write the script for a film adaptation of this story. Maybe even convince him to let me direct it? Convince him to call me his personal protege? Convince him to be as obsessed with my stories as I am with his???

But I digress.

I love American Gods (hence I'm reading it a second time...) and it would make a great film. And why should I not be the one to make that happen!? Hey, a guy can dream, right?

The book I'm listening to, however, is what sparked this entry. It's a story called THE LIES OF LOCKE LAMORA* by Scott Lynch. It is the engrossing tale of the titular orphan boy who grows up under the guidance of a master thief known as Chains, a blind priest of the Nameless Thirteenth god. He goes on to form a skilled thievery group named the Gentleman Bastards.

What strikes me so much in this story so far (I'm only into about chapter 2) is that it is so insanely visual. Lynch is a master of language and takes great care in describing his characters and settings, as well as customs and language differences of the varying "counties" where his story takes place. I find myself blown away by his voice. It is akin to The Name of The Wind (which I also love) by Patrick Rothfuss in it's in style (loose fantasy told around a central character in a back-and-forth, from childhood-to-present-day type of non-sequential narrative) but I don't think I've enjoyed the language used in a tale this much since I first read Poe or The Portrait of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde. It's just gorgeous.

So the reason why I am only 2 chapters into a book that I find this engaging is? Because its so well written that it's challenging me to write MY stories better. Every 10 minutes or so I find myself stopping my iPod so I can make notes about The Sons of The Moon! Its really great when you find that inspiration from the works of other people. An aspiring writer such as myself could view this sort of tutelage as something to fear, that this story or that story is too good to match. It could bring us down, make us doubt ourselves. But that's only if we let it. Great art of any kind should be an empowerment to create our own art, as skillfully and successfully as we can. At least, that's how I've always tried to look at it. It may be my downfall someday, this confidence, ("The Mona Lisa? I could do that... gimme a year...") but it's the only way that I know how to be.

I have things I want to say with my words - tales that mean something to me and reflect certain ways in which I see the world. But these words I craft are not really mine. My talents have been giving to me for a reason. Now whether that reason is to be as well-known as J.K. Rowling or to simply have a cool fantasy story sitting on a shelf that I can break out every now and again and read to my kids, that has yet to be seen, for God's will on the outcome of all this is still a bit hazy to me. All I can do in my heart is trust in that I've followed Him down the right path and take a few pointers from those who have come before me...

Some people seem to think that I began by asking myself how I could say something about Christianity to children; then fixed on the fairy tale as an instrument, then collected information about child psychology and decided what age group I'd write for; then drew up a list of basic Christian truths and hammered out 'allegories' to embody them. This is all pure moonshine. I couldn't write in that way. It all began with images; a faun carrying an umbrella, a queen on a sledge, a magnificent lion. At first there wasn't anything Christian about them; that element pushed itself in of its own accord.
C.S. Lewis
*Be warned if you plan on reading this book. It's not for everyone. Though set in a sort of Renaissance, Oliver-Twistian society, the characters use a lot of modern cursing and a wry British wit that contains many dark humor overtones. Not everyone will be into this styling I'm sure. Basically... it's not your traditional picaresque fantasy novel... this is more like Monty Python had Quentin Tarantino directed it. At least, that's what I've gathered so far. My opinion of the work could change when I finish it, since I haven't even bitten into the meat of a conflict or really seen the arc of where the plot is taking me.

Friday, February 5, 2010

The Bachelor's Night

The winds of change blow consistently across my seas; each unpredictable wave threatens to maroon me on some forgotten island shore. But then, of course, I would at least be on solid ground. Stability - security - these are but ghosts shimmering in the memory of days gone by; simple dreams that fade in the waking moments, disappearing into the blood orange sunrise of a new and unfathomable day. Every great tale has its plot twists, and my many arc and turn like a winding road through a thick old forest. What lies around the next bend? I cannot say. And there in lies the danger. And the fun.

Tonight was my friend Ben's bachelor party, a milestone in a young man's life. Having been to my own as well as a few others, I can honestly say that - as much as society would love to pigeonhole all bachelor parties into ravenous and sexed-up romps through barrooms and strip clubs - each one has been different. Mine was the closest thing to what one may consider your standard bachelor party. There was a keg, and a barbecue, and lots and lots of friends, and lots and lots of alcohol consumed. (But no strippers, not my style AT ALL.) It was, to say the least, my last big blow-out. I was passed out by 8:30pm. My friends did what we did always did - drank, ate, and talked about anything and everything under the sun. It was festive in an almost medieval sense - loud men coming together to escape the workaday world. Eat drink be merry, that sort of thing.

I rarely see those friends anymore. My life shifted from that sort of "party" scene only a week after that last bash, when I made the best choice of my life and said "I do" to the most wonderful person I have ever met. Have a tossed back some booze since then? Of course. But it's never been as much fun as it was that night. In fact, it's starting to get less and less fun each time. If that's growing up, count me in. I can deal with one less vice. I've been slowly ticking them away for last two years. Now if I could only kick caffeine...

My buddy, Matteo, had his bachelor party just a couple of weeks ago. He had been at mine, and pretty much it was the same crowd populating his. And, as I stated, I hadn't seen a lot of them in a while. We threw down and had a good time, but there was a difference in the air. A few of that old crew had gone off and gotten married themselves. Most of us were living different places, different cities than we had back when most of our days were spent together. Everyone was growing up, you could see it on our faces and hear it in our conversions. Maturing life, with its different aspirations and responsibilities, was beginning to take hold. And I, for one, found that comforting. After all, who wants to stay the same all their lives. And it felt good not to be the only one changing hats, changing roles in the theater of life.

Tonight's party Ben was in a completely different vein. Six TVs set up in our friend Rick's basement, each plugged into some video game system (the majority being Xbox 360 armed with copies of Halo 3). There was beer, pizza, munchies, your typical bachelor party staples. I think we all put on about 70 pounds! But there was also something refreshing in this air, something I'm less familiar with than even growing older. Familiarity. In this room were a bunch of dudes who had known each other a great long time - most from high school, if not the very early years of college. Their relationships formed differently than those of my old peers had - in hallways and late-night parties at their parents' homes where they had still lived, rather than in the liquor-soaked houses and rock venues mine had. Most of my high school relationships have gone the way of the dodo.

I'm not saying one is better than the other. Every experience is worth the taking and can sow seeds in us that shape the very fiber of our character. Each life is our own to live. My party looked and felt like a party the way I had known it, Matteo's had his personality in it, Ben's his. In their own separate ways, our friends did what they were supposed to - made the night ours to remember. And I guess that's what it boils down to. We can spend time debating on which is the proper way to celebrate a bachelor's leap into wedlock. We can fret about who will make it and who will not, who needs inviting or who gets left out. We can say mine was "pure debauchery" and Ben's "too tame". But if our friends are their - no matter how the friendships grew or how lasting they may inevitably be - than the celebration is perfect just the way it is.

Congrats Ben. Tonight was a great and fitting way to raise a glass to you.