It’s 2014, and I’m . . . Here? I think?

Guys, this is so hard. It’s been so long and it feels like I’ve forgotten how to put words together. It’s funny, my writing started with blogging and now the thought of writing a blog post feels harder than writing a novel. But I have things I want to say so I’m pushing forward, hoping I’ll fall into some sort of a rhythm. I know better than aspiring to regular blog posts. (I’ll be happy if I make it to the end of THIS post.) But maybe if I get my feet wet again (by writing a post about nothing? I’m beginning to question my reasoning here.) it will feel easier to come and talk and share and write.

I didn’t post anything on Facebook or here on the blog about the New Year. I didn’t pick a word or make a list of New Year’s Resolutions. I didn’t even think about what my resolutions would be if I did decide to write them down. Last year rolled into this one with little fanfare or reflection. That feels a little sad, so let’s reflect, shall we?

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2013 was a good year. My family life morphed into something that frequently makes my head spin.  My oldest turned twelve, a landmark that brings all sorts of added activities and responsibilities. My youngest turned 1, turning my life into a constant stream of toddler induced chaos and total mayhem MOST OF THE TIME. Nothing screams peace like a toddler in a diaper, standing in the center of your kitchen table flicking the keys off your laptop.  I mean, I’m not complaining. He’s totally adorable which makes the mayhem much more tolerable. But oh my word, he makes me tired. Funny how easy it is to forget how destructive a tiny person can be until you have another one, streaking naked around your living room, squealing with delight and sloshing his overturned bottle around like a maraca, spraying your sofa, your hair, your dog, even the ceiling with tepid milk. You can feel it, can’t you? The peace that fills my home? 

Also contributing to the general peace and quiet around here, 2013 was also the year we started homeschooling our three elementary age children. Because of limited educational opportunities in our very small town, we felt like it was the best option for our kids. I’ve been told all you should strive for the first year of homeschooling is simply to survive. And well, we are surviving. But I’m also not afraid to admit it’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done. The constancy and the noise and the SO MANY THINGS to keep up with. It hasn’t been easy. It’s getting easier though, slowly but surely, which is promising. We’re settling into more of a routine and I’m learning not to be too hard on myself when things don’t go as planned. Because really. When does anything ever go as planned?

The House at Rose Creek Cover2013 was the year of The House at Rose Creek. Oh, what a lovely experience it has been to have my book out there in the world. I can’t think of it without feeling humbled and grateful and so happy that I have the opportunity to write and share my words with others.

book signingThe book launch party in August was a highlight of my year. I’ll never forget how wonderful it was to have so many people that I love helping me celebrate. It was a great night. My next book, tentatively titled Mountains Between Us (don’t get attached, it’ll likely change in the editorial process) is due out in August, 2014. I love this one even more than the first and can’t wait for everyone to read it.

I’m also working on a third novel, this one for the mainstream fiction market, which is both thrilling and terrifying all at the same time. To publish in the national market, rather than the smaller, niche LDS Fiction market, I’ll need to get an agent, a process I hope I’ll be ready for by Spring. I hope I’m ready; I think I’m ready. Nearly Nell (again, working title, but I’m hoping it’s one that will stick around) is a novel I really, really love. (I say this like it’s unusual… like there are authors out there who say, “I wrote a book but I don’t really love it.” Just bear with me, okay? I’ll be done in a minute.) It’s a story that is so very different than my first two and I hope beyond all hope it can find a home somewhere out there in the literary world. I’ve been told the agent hunt is grueling, but I’m hopeful.

Other 2013 happenings? I celebrated 13 years of marriage to a man I’m still falling in love with, more every day. I attended my first LDStorymakers Conference and met many of my online friends in person, validating the unusual fact that many of them I already considered to be among my most cherished friends. The writing community is a wonderful thing to be a part of, that’s for sure. 2013 was the year of musical beginnings for the kids… cello, violin, guitar, piano. We are a noisy house. But it is noise I love.

I have high hopes for 2014; for the family, for my husband’s career, for my writing. But one day at a time, you know? Anything more than that, and it all starts to feel far too overwhelming.

Seriously. Is this adorable, or what. These little people make me very happy. Also very crazy. But mostly very happy.

Seriously. Is this adorable, or what? These little people make me very happy. Also very crazy. But mostly very happy.

What are you Writing Down?

In The House at Rose Creek, the main character, Kate, finds an old journal in the attic of her old family farmhouse. The journal belonged to her Great Grandfather four times over and was full of his thoughts and feelings regarding his family and his faith. For Kate, reading the journal was a reminder that though time passes, the struggles and challenges that we face, even from one century to the next are frequently the same. Human struggles are the same. We all love. We fight and cry and overcome. We misunderstand and jump to conclusions; we feel sorry and try to improve.

I have an uncle who loves to do family history. My dream vacation involves traveling to his home in Missouri and barricading myself in his office until I’ve read every single document and looked at every picture he’s ever acquired. He sends me stuff on a regular basis, an event which when it occurs, makes getting the mail the highlight of my week. In the most recent stack of documents he sent,  he included copies of postcards that were sent from my great Uncles, home to their families while they served in the first World War.  The package also included a copy of the telegram that informed my great grandmother of her son Gordon’s death. I called one of my mother’s relatives to ask a few questions about my extended family last year. She told me a light went out when Gordie died, that no one in the family was ever really the same again.

One of my favorite family history documents is the newspaper write up about the wedding of my Great, great grandparents; full of flourish and elaborate descriptions, it was an incredible window into the personalities of the newlyweds, and the roll they played in a very close knit community. These are my people. Their story is a part of my story and I’m happy to know it.

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My nine year old son, Sam, reading my blog book, Mommy Snark 2007-2008. Compiling a book from the last three years of my blog is on my list of things to do. Sometime in the next . . . decade?

Over the past couple of years, I’ve made a project of writing as much of my own family history as I can. I’ve written my  personal history–significant events of my childhood, memories of my parents and grandparents. I’ve written about the heritage of faith that was passed down to my parents, that prepared them to join the LDS Church. I’ve written about how I met my husband, and quickly we fell in love.  And I’ve written about my children–the funny things they say and do, the things Josh and I hope to teach them, as well as the traditions and routines of our daily life. For many years, my record keeping took the form of a blog. I wrote almost daily about my kids and my feelings about being their Mom. I compiled the first two years of my blog into a book. It makes me happy to see how much the kids love to read it, but of course they would love it. They are the stars of every story.

I’m not blogging as much anymore, a fact that often makes me sad as I look back at all the wonderful stories I recorded when I did blog. But I haven’t stopped writing things down all together. It might sound silly, but I expect there are quite a few important thoughts and memories recorded on the wall of my Facebook page. It wouldn’t be very difficult to pull them all together and turn them into something printable and long lasting. I also have a journal that once in a blue moon I dust off and write something in . . . with miracle of miracles, an actual pen!

The point, I think, is to make sure we are writing something down. One day, we will be the ancestors and our descendants will be looking for ways to learn more about us, more about what our life was like. They will be strengthened through our experiences, through the lessons and trials of our lives, but only if we are willing to record them.

More than Genetics

People never tell me I look like my Father. But I know I do.jordan_and_poppop

I see it when I wash my face at night, when I’ve scrubbed the make up off and I’m looking at nothing but my own skin. It’s in the eyes, mostly–the pale blue color, the  way they are situated just so. When I look up from the towel, after washing the day away, it will catch me by surprise and I’ll think, “Well hello, Dad.”

I’m happy to see him there. It’s a simple and subtle reminder that I am his, and he is mine and that is something special.

I could write sentence upon sentence about why I love my Dad. He is extraordinary in so many ways. He is kind and humble and gentle. He has a sense of humor that will make you groan and roll your eyes. He is steady and reliable and unshakably faithful.

(While typing this I just looked up and said to my husband, “You know, I’ve said it before in passing, but I’m trying to think back to really see if it’s true, and it is. I quite literally, in all my life, have never heard my father yell.” And so I should add to my list, he never yells.)

Those are all perfectly wonderful reasons to love someone. But mostly, I love my Dad because he’s mine. I attended a church training meeting this afternoon while Josh stayed home with our children. After the meeting, my Dad took my bag, and walked me to my car. With a hug and a reminder to be careful, he sent me on my way. It was a simple gesture, but profound in that I realized, as I pulled out of the parking lot, how grateful I was that he was there.

We all need people. Not just any people, but people that will always be there, that will step in and be and do whatever it is we need. We need family.

My eyes tell me that I am my father’s daughter. That’s simple genetics.  But that isn’t what makes him my Dad, what makes him one of my people. It’s his heart that does that.