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2009: A Great and Trying Year

Thursday, December 31, 2009
Blank Sheet of PaperImage by mark78_xp via Flickr
This past year held a lot for me, both bad and good. For the bad, our house has sat unsold all year long. Our savings are dwindling. As usual, I have more dreams and goals than I have time and/or money for. But there was plenty of good this year, too. We've (mostly) stayed healthy, had some great trips, learned a lot, and have gotten to do some exciting things. I also became a real official blogger, first with the local newspaper, then in March for GeekDad.

Writing for GeekDad has made a huge difference in my life. It's been something new to inspire and excite me. It's opened doors and given me opportunities. I hope that will continue if I keep working hard. Writing for GeekDad has been more than all of that, though. I finally feel a sense of purpose. Before I had kids, I had no real tangible sense of purpose. I worked at jobs and did random things, but I wasn't doing much that fed my soul, that made me feel like I had found my calling. Having children made a big difference in that. I always knew that I wanted kids, and when I had my first child at age 28, I was finally doing something that was important to me and that I enjoyed: taking care of a little being (and later two little beings).

I also feel like writing is finally my vocation, or avocation, depending on how you look at it. It's something that I can do. I have so many interests that it's hard to pick just one, but writing can be used for everything, and thus doesn't exclude any subject. So writing is doing a good job feeding most of the rest of my soul. I've always written, to varying degrees, though I'm not usually compelled to write. I just like having written something good. But now that I have a reason to write, someone to hold me acountable, I do it much more. Now, when I write, I feel myself growing as a person. I'm finding my voice, fleshing out my opinions. No wonder people say their 30s are better than their 20s! I'm doing some things for me now. I'm doing things that I'm proud of that lead to other things that I'm proud of. Squee.
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Finding Your Voice

Monday, December 21, 2009
Work with schools : writing a composition : gi...
Ever since high school I've written things on my own, just for fun and mostly for myself. I always knew I wanted to write, but didn't really have much to say. Or I didn't feel that writing without an audience was terribly useful. Unless you're writing for therapeutic reasons (which I have also done), why write if no one will read it, and perhaps comment on it? I know there are a lot of valid answers to this question, but I hadn't yet found any for me. Until about a year ago. I started writing a blog for the local newspaper. This then led me to write for GeekDad. I haven't looked back. While I have put a lot of work into the GeekDad blog (and some into the newspaper one) over 2009, and haven't gotten paid much, if anything, for that hard work, it has been so personally satisfying that it's all been worth it. Plus the free review copies don't hurt. It has been like a giant unpaid internship, where I can learn, make mistakes, and personally grow without the pressure of it being a real job. I am making friends, making contacts, and having a great time. I can't wait to see where else it will lead.

The whole writing thing... In some ways, writing is easy. Sometimes the words just flow out like water from a faucet. And sometimes it is nearly impossible to come up with anything eloquent or it all sounds like gibberish. I don't always know which one of those I'll get until I start to write, so it is hard to be prolific. The best posts I've written are ones that I didn't spend a lot of time on. The worst ones are also the ones I didn't spend a lot of time on. The rest I put a lot of work into. And so it goes.

I'm learning about my process as it unfolds. Usually, especially with a review or something on which I've taken notes, there are three phases to writing. One, get all the ideas down, preferably in some semblance of order. Two, rearrange, add, subtract, and generally organize the post, making major changes. Three, fine tune it, fixing minor errors and omissions. Once in a while, I have to do a fourth pass, if pass number one was a real mess. And also, once in a while, I get lucky and get away with two passes.

But it all gets easier, the more I write. I'm sure others have experienced the same thing. Unlike some people, I am not compelled to write, but when it's easy, it's a great feeling. When it's hard, it does feel a lot like work. But that happens less and less.
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When Do You Get Your Ideas?

Friday, November 27, 2009
Tapping a PencilImage by Rennett Stowe via Flickr
Is there a special place and time when ideas just come to you? Whether for writing or other creative outlets, or inspiration for how to solve a pesky business problem, or how you'll code your current program... Where are you and what are you doing when ideas and solutions tend to come to you?

I've noticed lately that my ideas come to me when I am in the shower. My mind is on autopilot: shampoo, rinse, wash face, rinse, conditioner, wash rest of me, rinse. So the creative and task-based parts of my mind are free to think of things that I need to get done, or ideas for the next post or project.

Of course, like most people, I don't have a way to write down these ideas while in the shower. I'm not sure a small white board would work. Perhaps something with grease pencil? How does one take notes while in the shower?

So I'm asking all of you out there, my handful of readers, do you have any ideas for how one could take notes while in the shower? Perhaps something to hang up, held up by suction cups? Of course, I'd have to squint while I wrote things down (who showers with their glasses on?), but it'd be better than forgetting the genius idea that I just came up with, or the important thing to grab on the way out the door.
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Saturday, November 21, 2009
MoneyImage by TW Collins via Flickr
Okay, not quite micro-income, but fairly close.

As some of you know, I'm trying to save up for a few trips in the next few years, starting from zero dollars. Thanks to a very small job I have that takes about an hour a week, plus payments from Amazon Associates, I'm saving up about $70-100 per month! Go me! After a couple of years, that may just pay for one of the three trips I want to take. Perhaps other things will trickle in as well, helping to pay for the other two trips. You can help by clicking on the link to the book I'm reading now (at right) each time you want to shop at Amazon.com. I'll get a percentage of your purchase (but it won't cost you anything additional).
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GeekDad Tshirts Now Available at ThinkGeek!

Friday, November 13, 2009
We had our awesome GeekDad Tshirts made to wear to the Maker Faire this year, and so many people asked us where they could buy a Tshirt of their own that some of the other Geeks looked into it. Ken, our head Geek, wrangled a deal with ThinkGeek, everyone's favorite store for geeks. As of this week, they now offer our awesome Tshirt for sale. The logo is on the front, along with the URL, and the back has a tag cloud of post tags from GeekDad.

The price is decent, and your purchase goes to help all the Core Contributors of GeekDad earn a small amount of money (especially me, if you use my links - muhahahaha!).

(Image: GeekDad.com and ThinkGeek)

A Mom's Day Off

Sunday, November 08, 2009
Reading cornerImage by delphaber via Flickr
I love what I do in my life right now. I have the privilege and luck to be able to stay home, take care of the kids, homeschool them, and be able to schedule my own day (most of the time). I also write for a few blogs, mostly not for pay, and I do a little other paying work here and there. I wouldn't trade it for any of the regular 40 hour per week paying jobs that I've had in the past. I would miss my kids too much, and I never liked anything enough to do it for that many hours per week.

Spending all of my waking hours being on call, though, being the go-to person for everything for everyone in my household, tends to wear on you after a while. Having the constant possibility of needing to do something for someone, or listening to what someone else is saying, it doesn't allow for any quality time inside my own head. It makes me go quite mad after a while. It's hard to get much done when you have to put it down every few minutes. Especially writing.

Most weeks I get a couple of hours off one night a week while my husband takes the kids swimming (thanks, Ed!), but that is usually it. As time goes on, it's not enough to get me sane and keep me there. Today, however, I asked for the whole day off. Not so much to do things that I don't have a chance to do otherwise, just so I can do them without interruption. Naturally the dog takes this opportunity to be high maintenance, but her needs are simple.

I'm only a small part of the way through my day, and I've already done some writing (see what I did there?), some crafting, and a little Netflix watching (Mad Men Season One Disc Two). Later on, I plan to do some reading, some exercise, some more writing, and perhaps some Beatles Rock Band.

I had better get going, though, because the one thing that is inevitable for time off, is that I always have more things that I want to do than I have time for.
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A Little About Me

Saturday, November 07, 2009
1869 engraving showing an idealized, young :en...Image via Wikipedia
Some people seem to have a "thing" when it comes to blogging. Wil Wheaton seems to make most of his post titles be song lyrics. Bad idea for me, since I've always had a hard time coming up with examples. So I will have no one theme. As my interests are quite varied, so will my blog posts be. So, a little about me...

I'm a 30 something stay at home mom who dabbles in things here and there, in the little bit of free time I have when I'm not homeschooling my two kids or doing other household-related activities. Lately I've done a bit of writing, being a Core Contributor to the GeekDad blog. I also try to do as many crafts as I can. I especially like sewing (hand and machine), embroidery (my new thing), crochet, and just making things in general. I love to travel, but I don't get to do that very often. Fortunately, I also love planning travel, so that keeps me occupied when I can't do the real thing. I love to play board games. Not the takes-ten-hours type of board game, but ones that test your knowledge or skill. Ones that are pure luck aren't as fun. I spend far too much time on the internet, but it really keeps me connected to what's going on out there in the world, especially among my friends and family. I love watching movies and TV. Jane Austen movies are where I go when I need to get away from it all. But not the new Kiera Knightly Pride and Prejudice. The Colin Firth version, all the way.

I also love education and learning, and lean strongly in the skeptic/pro-science direction. Critical thinking is crucial to having a mind of one's own, and I'm teaching my kids that as well as I can. I am working on several posts for GeekDad listing materials and websites that we use in our homeschooling, so keep your eye out for that.

I also have listed people I follow and sites I visit regularly in the margin of this blog, so you can see other things that I am interested in.

I've been a geek my whole life, which wasn't easy growing up. Our world has finally caught up, though, and it's indeed a good time to be a geek. Thank you, internet! Bwok bwok!

Pulling up my bootstraps...

Monday, November 02, 2009
Exposed gnarly roots in Fall River Park
In my younger years, I used a computer at school that literally said it was pulling itself up by its bootstraps when it was booting up.

I realized recently that I needed a central blog where I could point people, any people, who wanted information on me. I looked into a new blog through Blogger, where I have my various other personal blogs. But the URL I wanted was taken. It turns out it was taken by me. From years ago. I had started a blog here a while back, and I hadn't posted anything in three years. So it is now rebooted as my root directory of sorts. A blog mind map. I'll post information about myself here, links to other blogs of mine, and plenty of links to my GeekDad articles. I'm sure it will evolve into something coherent at some point, so stick around.

More to come soon!