Fun Ways to Fight an Internet Addiction.


For my freelancer portfolio.


The Last Leaf

—-Every morning (just about) Anna asks me for a writing prompt. I give her whatever random thought occurs to me, and she writes it. It’s my favorite game and one of my biggest joys, seeing my big girls grow and think and write. Today’s prompt was “a tree losing its leaves”.—-

The Last Leaf
by Anna (11)

All the branches around me were bare. I was the last leaf.

Many said that it was an honor to be the last one to fall. But really, it was just lonely. And quiet. Very quiet. No rustling, no chattering. Just silence.

A strong breeze hit me. I could feel my stem weakening. Pop. I was carried away a few feet. Then I floated down to my friends.






A Birthday

Well, I turned 33.

I did not cry.

I think it’s the first birthday in the last five-six years that didn’t see me bursting into tears at some ridiculous moment.

I blame the lack of meltdown on the thoughtfulness of my children and husband, which guilted me into being sensible and not giving in to the annual loneliness and homesickness that plague me at every holiday. Those people are amazing, I tell you.

Anna and Sarah made me a wreath from found objects:


Yesterday also marked the 13th anniversary of the day Jason proposed.

In celebration of the milestone, a brief recounting…

It’s been nine months since I met Jason for the first time at an airport in Hong Kong. Our semester together is over, and we’ve been living in our home states since the choir tour to Australia in July.

Jason has ridden a Greyhound bus 36 hours from Texas to California to see me for my birthday. The night before my birthday, we walk the beach in Ventura, the only two people under the stars. Afterward we sit alone on the pier at Eric Ericson’s staring out over the water and chatting. He has the ring in his pocket the entire evening.

But skip that. Nothing happens.

Next day, my birthday, we’re sitting in my parents’ living room in the heat of the day.

Jason: Hey, wanna go for a walk?

Me: No. It’s hot.

Jason: Why not? We could walk down the bike trail. It’s shady.

Me: It’s only shady in front of the house. Once you get two blocks down, it’s full sun.

Jason: Come on, it’ll be fun. Let’s go walking. It’s so pretty on the bike trail.

Me: No.

Jason: Why not?

Me: I told you why not. It’s hot!

Jason: But it’s pretty!

Me: It’s only pretty to you, because you don’t live here. To me it’s only pretty when it’s cool outside.

Jason: Well, you want to walk around the church then?

Me: No.

Jason: Why not?

Me: It’s hot.

Jason: Let’s go driving, then.

Me: Where?

Jason: I don’t know. Downtown? Anywhere?

Me: No. I don’t have air conditioning.

Jason: Well, where do you want to go then?

Me: Nowhere. Let’s just hang out here.

Jason: Can we at least go out on the deck?

Me: (sigh) Fine.

We settle down in the cushy chairs on the back deck. Jason’s chair faces the valley and the orange trees and the mountains.

My view is composed of Jason, the wall, and my dad’s power tools.

He gets shaky. I notice. He starts rambling. I can’t remember what he actually said, but it was along these lines:

Jason: (ahem) Well, Becky, ever since I met you, I’ve known that you were the one I wanted to… (He’s reaching into his pocket.)

Me: What are you doing?

Jason: Um, well, just listen. I want you to know that I promise to love you and take care of you for… (He’s getting down on one knee.)

Me: Oh, no. No, no, no.

Jason: No?

Me: Are you doing what I think you’re doing?

Jason: Um, what do you think I’m doing?

Me: Oh, no. Ohmygosh. I don’t know. Just don’t do it.

Jason: Um… Don’t do what?

Me: What you’re doing. Just stop. You can’t.

Jason: Um… Why not? I thought we talked about it…

Me: Just not now. You can’t right now?

Jason: Why not?

Me: Because it’s too soon! Oh my gosh, you can’t! Just stop.

Jason: Are you saying no?

Me: No? No, I don’t think so. No, it’s just… You can’t right now!

Jason: But you’re not saying no?

Me: I don’t know! It’s September!

Jason: But I’m here right now. Can I go on?

Me: I don’t know! Ohmygosh! I don’t know!

Jason: Okay… I’m going to go on… (opens the ring box)

Me: Okay. Ohmygosh… Okay…

Jason: (more of the long speech I can’t remember) So, Rebecca Elayne, will you marry me?

Me: Let me think about it…

Jason sits there with the ring held out and his eyebrow cocked for what probably seems like an eternity.

Me: Okay, I guess so.

Jason relaxes.

Me: Ohmygosh! I’m engaged! Can I put the ring on now?

Jason: I don’t know. Let me think about it…

September, and Birthdays

We’ve been half-timing at home school all summer, but we summered like crazy anyway. We got out to the pools and splash pads and Six Flags, and lots of parties and park days, too. In a couple of weeks we’ll lay into full time schooling again, but for now, we’re letting ourselves forget about that.

Jonah’s birthday party was balmy and laid-back at the park yesterday. He wanted a lemon-lemon cake, and a Lego Superheroes Captain America, and he got them, plus plenty of Capture the Flag with his friends and sisters under the trees. He’s nine now. So big. And he looks exactly like Jason’s school picture from third grade, only blonder.

Judah is going to be two on Halloween. So far I’ve held out on weaning him. He’s my last baby and I’m going to milk it for all it’s worth. He’s amenable to that. He talks all the time, and has way too many words for his age, but he still can’t seem to get them in the right order. His sentences go along the lines of, “Daddy work car go.” Yeah, no prepositions yet.

Naiah is seven, still easy and sweet. She prides herself on being the ultimate little sister for Jonah, plays all his games and knows all his story worlds and characters. She almost exclusively wears dresses. Yesterday at the party she suddenly fell over with a strong bout of vertigo and got sick. We took her to the doctor, and he took one look at her nose and said it was ragweed allergies. She’s been sniffing and coughing for weeks from it, and it finally got so bad it gave her vertigo. He said it happens all the time around here, unfortunately. So now she has a prescription nasal spray to help, we hope.

Anna and Sarah have a stack of business and organization books on their desk. They read them and take thorough notes on each chapter. They’re starting a household organization business with their friend Sophia. Kind of ironic, considering who their mother is. Anna’s writing a six-act play, set a few years before the start of Little Women. She’s also working on a novel.

And Miss Ella. Four head wounds in two years, all requiring emergency medical attention, all caused by incurable hyperactivity, but somehow she’s still sharp as a tack. Extremely perceptive, stubborn as heck, sensitive and pig-headed by turns. She’s going to be four next week. I’m a little less worried about her safety, now that she’s growing some common sense, but I’m always worried that I’m mothering her wrong. She’s so quick and so sly that I feel like I’m always a step behind her. But she wants to be sweet. Impulse control is tough for her. She and Jonah are very much alike in that.

I’m writing full-time now. And by full-time I mean all the time I can use both hands to type in the daylight hours, and several hours at night if I can get away from Judah in time. It’s been four weeks, one synopsis, one expanded synopsis, two character synopses, four character studies, a spreadsheet master outline, and four chapters. At my fastest I can do two chapters a week, and at my slowest, one, so far. That would put me at three to five months to finish the novel that has been bobbing and sinking and resurfacing in my head for nine years now. Ya’ll have got to try this snowflake method for outlining. The instructions on the front page are free, and they’re all you need. I was scared that outlining would take all the flow and spontaneity out of the text, but it doesn’t. It just breaks down your big, unmanageable story into small writing prompts. You can do it.

Jason is hanging in with a job he still doesn’t like, and doing well at it. He’s teaching a Bible study at the apartment complex around the corner from our house every Tuesday, which keeps him happy. He’s also been my best encouragement over the last four weeks of figuring out how to be a mommy and a writer. I feel the most like what I’m meant to be right now, and he’s made it possible. I’m really grateful for that.

Because I am really and truly writing my book, the one that was once a short story and a smattering of scattered scenes scratched out over the past nine years and is now a novel in the works, I won’t be blogging, much, but it will be here:


(Not to be confused with the tumblr account in the sidebar.)

Since my mommy blogging is on facebook now, hopefully this will also serve to help me get back to being a better blogging comrade. That would be nice. I miss you people. Facebook is not the same.

I made five of these today for the sofa! They turned out to be quick and simple to sew, and they fit well, mostly because I made a lucky  mistake in the math during the planning stage. So I’m posting my first pattern here, mostly so I don’t lose it, but also so it can be useful to someone else.

Here’s the finished product:

They fold over the cushion in back, so it’s a quick on-off to wash and replace them. And you can display either side.

The pillow is Ikea’s Inner, size 16×24″. It’s probably cheaper to buy it than to make it yourself.

If you intend to make more than one cover, cut out a paper pattern, 21″ x 19″.

Lay it with the long side along the fold of your fabric, so that you get a rectangle, 21″ x 38″, unfolded.

Hem the short sides by folding them 1/2 inch toward the back of the fabric, and then folding again, 1/2 inch. (Use the iron to press the fold flat  if your fabric is thick.) Pin and sew 1/4 inch from folded edge, and another seam 5/8 inch from folded edge.

Lay your cushion in the center of the printed side of the fabric:

And wrap it tightly to gauge how much overlap you need to keep the pillow snug inside. Don’t pull it too far, or you’ll end up with a gap in the middle of the opening when it’s done. The opening will be held shut at the sides only, though, so it should be a pretty big overlap.

About 4 inches of overlap worked well for me.

Make sure your new rectangle is squared-up, then pin the open sides shut, with the overlap pinned well. Double check that printed sides are together before you start sewing. (If you have a preference for which hemmed edge will show in the finished product, then the one you want on top needs to be on the bottom while you sew.)

Sew the pinned sides, 1/2 inch from raw edges. Be careful crossing the overlapped hems if your fabric is thick, or if your machine is on the feeble side (like mine, poor thing).

Then turn it right side out and stuff it with a cushion! Done!
You can even fussy cut it to include a fun motif, if you’re into that.

Public Declaration

These are the things I wish to accomplish this holiday season:

  • Assign and work through a Thanksgiving history project with the kids
  • Assign a Christmas essay to the girls, and a creative writing project for the younger set and help them through those
  • Learn and make 3 new crafts that the kids can help with
  • Do some sewing and crafting of my own, with friends!
  • Mail crafty gifts in the mail with postage and addresses in the mail in the mail in the mail, and not stacked in my car waiting to be mailed
  • Make lots of gingerbread dough so the kids can build and create together
  • Take long walks outdoors in the not-hot weather
  • Start training for the February Color Run in Austin
  • Make and keep an advent calendar for once
  • Make a toddler-proof nativity (out of felt? wood?)
  • Bake treats for all the neighbors we know and a few we don’t
  • Visit the Trail of Lights at Zilker

There ya go. Now that I have publicly  stated my (overzealous and probably unrealistic) ambitions, I need to Google Calendar all this stuff so that some of  it actually happens.