A Good Mother Would’ve . . .

It’s February again, and Valentine’s Day is just around the corner. I’m sure the holiday is welcomed by romantics, but not so much by this clutter-minded momma of four. Especially not this year: It’s my youngest child’s last year in elementary school. My baby girl is growing up. There’s to be no more class parties where sticky-cupcake fingers exchange obliged valentines. Bittersweet. I’m trying to maintain a semblance of parenting perspective.

Two years ago, when my daughter was a third grader, she taught me a lesson in planning ahead—being prepared. I was in the kitchen, hurriedly slopping together a late dinner when she said, “Momma, don’t forget I have to take in a decorated box with my valentines tomorrow.”

“Valentines?” I rummaged through a stack of school papers on the counter: Father-Daughter Dance invite, spiritwear order, the soon-to-be-late soccer physical, donation requests, and an urgent plea for Box Tops. Near the bottom, I found it. I glanced over at the calendar. Darn it. She was right. But in my mind, Valentine’s Day was still floating faraway in next week somewhere. A good mother would’ve remembered.

I turned down the stove, then rummaged through the recycling bins until I found a shoebox. I plopped the box on the table and reminded my daughter where she could find the construction paper, glue, and tape. I returned to cooking while she assembled her shoebox—unaided, other than help with the scissors. She patched her box in various shades of blue and created a kitten of sorts on the top; its mouth cut open to receive the cards. It was simply beautiful, completed all on her own. But still, we had no Valentine’s Day cards. It was very cold outside, and I’d just spent two hours at the grocery store not four hours earlier. So we ate our dinner and went to bed. A good mother would’ve run to the store for valentines or stayed up late making homemade hearts.

The next morning, after I got the high-schooler fed and out the door, it was time to wake the middle-schooler. My first daughter. Some mornings she’s delightful and thoughtful, but some days, like this day, she was totally unreasonable. From wanting to wear shorts in eighteen-degree weather to the food she was not going to eat, everything was a battle. By the time her carpool ride pulled up, I was emotionally drained and still wearing pajamas. That’s when my third grader ambled down the stairs, rubbing sleep from her eyes. I remembered then! Hastily, I got us ready and out the door. No time for breakfast. A good mother would’ve made the time.

At the nearest store, the boxed valentines were nearly picked clean. It’s no longer acceptable to give out just valentine cards; kids expect candy now, too. We continued looking, hoping. Most of the remaining valentine-candy combo kits had the dreaded warning: “May contain peanuts or tree-nuts.” Finally, I spied a lovely box of “Tootsie Pop Valentines.” The ingredients read safe! I smiled down at the promising, colorful images that plastered the packaging: butterflies threaded with sucker sticks. Simple, but cute. We checked out and left hurriedly—and hungry. I’d forgotten to buy a package of string cheese and mini muffins like I’d planned. A good mother wouldn’t have let serendipitous luck derail her plans.

We stopped at McD’s to eat and label the valentines. We walked carefully in the parking lot, avoiding icy patches, only to realize at the door that I’d forgotten the class list and permanent marker in the car. After navigating the ice again, finally, we settled into a booth near the cashier counter. I left my daughter at the table to start assembling the cards and suckers while I ordered. After paying, I looked over and saw her making funny faces—arms waving wildly. And then startling words reached over the short distance that separated us, “There’s no cards! Only candy!”

I slid the tray of food onto our table, and then studied the sucker box. Near one of the endearing butterfly images, in the tiniest of print it read: “Use your own cut outs with the enclosed pops.” I had nothing but a box of regular suckers. I turned one over in my hand, hoping for a writable place on the wrapper, but nothing. Time was ticking loudly in my head now. I looked at my disappointed daughter’s face and wondered if skipping school would be an acceptable option. Damn it. “Okay, look. This is what we have—suckers and a Sharpie—and we’re gonna have to make it work. Write the names on the white sticks of each sucker.” She printed the miniature names as instructed, while I marked each completed child off the list. Our food sat on the tray getting cold.

Fifteen minutes later, I was driving us to school, sipping my cold coffee at the lights. My daughter finished her breakfast sandwich. Time still seemed doable—maybe we’d only be slightly late. But then, I turned the corner and saw the surprising line of minivans and SUVs. I pulled to the side of the road. “Let’s walk,” I said. We jogged instead. A good mother would’ve anticipated the loads of box-carrying kids not riding the bus.

I got my third grader to the school door just before the bell rang. She flashed me a sweet goodbye smile. I watched until she disappeared into the long hallway, then turned and headed back to my car. While walking through the parking lot, I noticed some things: shouting mothers pulling their kids along, late kids popping out of minivans, and several little red faces streaked with tears. Many carried elaborately decorated valentine boxes that were just too perfect, too precise. Too pink. My child went to school happy with her self-made blue box, filled with unadorned suckers. Even though I’d goofed in preparing for Valentine’s Day, it got done. And maybe my daughter learned a few things too: improvisation, making do, and just how to go with the flow. Cluttered mind or not, a good Mother did well.


This year’s box.


Everything is awesome…

Seriously, the new Lego Movie theme song has been continuously looping through my head for the last day. YIKES! So, here I am, riding in on that awesomeness wave of optimism to reconnect with my blog.



Alas, Lonely Little Blog, I’ve been neglectful for far too long. (Wow, exactly 100 days to be precise!)

I’m happy to report that even though my blog has been void of words, my writing has not. I didn’t finish November as a first-time, National Novel Writing Month(NaNoWriMo) “winner,” but I did end the month with a solid outline and well over 15,000 words for my current project, SKY. Presently, I’m at 27K in words.



My “Wonder-Mom” Lego keychain figure…

My 2014 writing goal is/was to write every day, and for the most part I’ve followed through, connecting in some tangible way with writing. There are a few poems that I’ve been fiddling around with—all desperately need a lot more thought and time. In January, I submitted two, equally “awesome” flash-fiction pieces. So far, I’ve received one rejection, but no word on the other yet, so I’m hopeful and totally awesomely stoked either way. Why? Because it means two important things:
I’m writing
I’m trying!!!

In the end. that’s all I can do—try and put myself/writing out there. So that’s awesome!

P.S. I used an awful lot of adverbs in this blog post, but really inserting the word “awesome” just seems to require heavy usage of LY-words. 🙂



Last-minute NaNoWriMo Participant!


This project will be written entirely in longhand using notebooks(on purpose). Can you guess my favorite color? 😉

I had no intention to sign up for NANOWRIMO. In the past, I’d considered it briefly with the same intrigue someone might consider eating fried Oreos. Interesting concept, but probably a really bad idea that could lead to unpleasant distress.

November begins the holidays, right? My kids have five scheduled school days off this month. There are several family birthdays and those end-of-season sports parties to plan/attend. And, let’s not forget the twenty-pound turkey that needs cooking with all the fixings. And that Christmas craziness that the stores started pushing before Halloween. Whew! Overwhelming! November is one of the worst months to delve into writing 50,000 words. Or, is it?  http://nanowrimo.org/

Often, I don’t listen to the rational hemisphere of my brain. So, I’m actually looking at this as an auspicious occurrence, that was possibly meant to align despite difficulty. I’m always looking for signs. And there have been a few that watered the NANOWRIMO seed:

  1. A new project that I want to see in rough draft ASAP! https://shermierayne.wordpress.com/2013/10/11/when-the-dogs-bark-listen/
  2. A major age-related milestone is coming up.
  3. A conversation hubby & I had Wednesday afternoon.

Without any doubt, it was that conversation that not only shone brightly on that little growing seed, but soaked it until the roots were spreading quickly. The conversation? Well, it was the basic we-need-more-money lament. But, when hubby finished with, “Why don’t you hurry up and finish that book and make us a million dollars?” I actually felt belief in his words (maybe for the first time). Perhaps it was merely a desperate, temporary dreaming lapse on his part. Yet, I heard in his voice an undercurrent of hope and confidence. I needed that. In that moment, I knew I would push harder, try harder, and struggle more. And not for the possible selling of a book that might someday make a little money, but because I had a believer.

I’ve been treading lightly. Hesitant. My footfalls have barely left an imprint. Now, I’m committing to the long hours of struggle, relenting to its beauty. The unrest to succeed. “Without a struggle, there can be no progress.”  Frederick Douglass

There y’all go, that’s my “why” to NANOWRIMO. I don’t plan to blog this month unless something truly remarkable happens (fingers crossed). If you’re curious and want to follow along with my month-long NANOWRIMO journey, please like my Facebook page:
https://www.facebook.com/ShermieRayne?ref=hl . I’ll update my running word count there! @ShermRayneIMG_8786


I hope everyone had a safe and happy Halloween!

Today I can have a pumpkin latte . . .


It’s officially fall. We all know this, except for those that profit from the gratuitous, pre-extension of holidays. For many weeks, commercially, Halloween, fall, and even Christmas, have been pre-emptively pushed down my throat. Stressed by the never-ending list of back-to-school requirements and requests, my mind has mutated this pre-mature “let’s get ready for the holidays” mindset into a beast that waits, ready to insert itself into my busy back-to-school month.

So, I vented my indignation against this unwanted pressure in the only way I could think of: boycotting. Did Starbucks notice that I had sworn off anything pumpkin flavored until true fall? No. And the local department store did not take down their Christmas decorations because I openly gawked in dismay. (It was very early September and I was shopping for back-to-school socks!) And yeah, just days ago, that was me shaking my head, entering the grocery store. Its doors flanked with pumpkins on one side and watermelons on the other. I bought the watermelon out of rebellion. After all, I was still wearing summer flip-flops. My right to enjoy a season or holiday in its proper time frame is being taken away.

Sometimes it feels like I’m running a race and just as I near the end banner, it’s being taken down and replaced for the next race. One that has already started without me. The week before school, and for a couple weeks after, days are packed with deadlines, never-ending packets of paperwork, new schedules/commitments, and a myriad of other changes that need tending to ASAP. I need to be present and focused for that onslaught, not distracted by the next busy race. I mean really, pumpkin spice is in everything food now, starting as early as July.

You might be asking, “What the heck does any of this have to do with a writing blog?”

Because I have been struggling, that’s why. I’m diverting my frustrations toward the poor pumpkins that represent so much hurry. And, I have not worked on my current novel in over a month. There, I said it. I feel a mix of shame and regret to admit that, but it’s true nonetheless. I could produce a long list of things I did complete, or have almost completed, but won’t. Perhaps venting against the commercial industry is merely a self-soothing way to lessen my guilt while allowing my writing to fall victim to a busy month. Eh, but still.

IMG_8282So now, it is officially fall. I can sense a return to “normalcy” in the household (if that even exists). My kids’ schedules & my volunteering days are plotted. Their afterschool events are aligned, the long back-to-school nights have come and gone, and the avalanche of back-to-school paperwork has been completed and returned. Now, I can return to writing. But first, I must tackle the laundry (this is what just a few days of falling behind looks like)!!! Oh, and my writing space—that is another blog posting all together though! IMG_8612



My first interview (kinda) . . .

Well, I was interviewed once by a very rural newspaper. I’d won first place in a national recipe contest. That was a cool experience, but my author Q & A interview with WOW! was surprisingly awesome. Feel free to check it out! There are some writing tips included, and perhaps more personal insights than I should’ve divulged. Here!


The above books I ordered with some of the prize money!

So, I won my first writing contest…

Contest Winners

Well, I won second place. However, it feels like I won it all, because, the true competition was within myself. See, I’ve been dabbling in writing for the last year and half, or so, unsure and uncertain—basically fearful of immerging myself completely. What if I wasn’t good enough? What if I was wasting time that could be more productively spent elsewhere? Thankfully, the biggest “what if” unwavered: What if I don’t try?

This spring, after months of abandoning my writing, and then mentally beating myself up for not writing, I had an honest discussion between my heart and head. It boiled down to one statement: Either commit yourself to writing, or quit. I could not accept the latter. I just couldn’t let it go (I’m a bit stubborn). I’d heard the promised whisper of what should be, coming to me when I needed it most. Writing helped me through a very difficult time. And there I was, neglecting it and its purpose—and ultimately, myself. That had to change. I needed to banish the doubtful, self-contrived comments to the farthest reaches of my comprehension.

I also made the decision to re-start one of my several stories (all in various stages of development) and stick with it until the very end. No more daydreaming between various characters and worlds (unless something just happens to pop in my head). I’d be resolute, dedicated. I have to say, this obvious method is working, much to my chagrin.

Anyway, late one evening, while goofing off, I googled “writing contest.” I just happened to stumble upon Women On Writing! (WOW!) and saw that they had a quarterly flash fiction contest ending soon. From nowhere, a vision played out, a flash. Immediately, I wrote it down.

My inspiration: “The fair nymphs of this isle are in wonderful tribulation…” ~Francis, Lord Rawdon. I had recently heard/read of that famous British Army quote, from the Revolutionary War. It bothered me, or more precisely the story behind the quote’s meaning did. It angered me. Not because atrocities of that nature didn’t happen, or still don’t, but because it had occurred so freely on American soil. So, I envisioned being a mother with a young daughter to protect, and from that place of desperation, “Revolution” was born. And, in fact, it may become a full novel someday. 😉 Revolution

Falling off the Wagon

Yes, I have fallen from that bumpy, rickety novel-writing wagon! It’s not such a far fall, really. It’s quite easy to accomplish when you’re not holding on. Just a small bump in the road or a tree blocking the way, that’ll do it. I could list a zillion real-life reasons: kids, my first dental crown (ugh!), keeping up with cooking, cleaning, and household duties, this blog/social media, kids, and kids. However, the reasons are but glorified excuses. I should’ve been holding on, keeping at least a pencil in my hand or a finger on the keyboard.

So, for ten days or more, absolutely nothing has progressed in my current novel. My characters are frozen in time, trapped, awaiting the keystroked words to come save them, carry them forward. Thankfully, I’ve developed the awesome habit of outlining, and with the help of many, many Post-it notes, their story is safe and ready for the telling.

I felt a pang of guilt last night when unwrapping my nightly morsel of Dove dark chocolate. It revealed the following message: “Keep the promises you make to yourself.” Yeah, I had promised to write every single day. But then, I have to allow myself some softness. Because looking at the myriad of excuses, I did accomplish a lot of somethings—just not writing. Although, I did write a little poem. In the end, I suppose we all have to decide what to do with the time we are given. (I think I just re-worded my favorite Gandalf quote!) 😉

Today is a new day, and I will begin again!

“Man starts over again every day, in spite of all he knows, against all he knows.” ― Emil Cioran

Know Them as They Grow

To Know Them as They Grow

Wow, what a beautiful message! I think everyone struggles with being present in the moment. But think about how especially vulnerable the moment is when a child’s heart is involved. ❤

Fight the Fear

“Do one thing every day that scares you.” ~Eleanor Roosevelt

I took that sage advice today. I spent the morning and afternoon at a writer’s workshop. Although I’d attended a similar event a while back, and enjoyed it, I was in a nervous frenzy, having ongoing debates to cancel. Turn back, go home! These thoughts also seemed ridiculous, considering I’d stayed up past midnight waiting for the online registration to open weeks ago.

My angst was stemming from the workshop’s description: a writing workout to “tap into memories for inspiration.” That last bit had subconsciously echoed through my thoughts all week, causing my heart to race. Belly to flutter. The fear of disclosure petrified me. I’m an introvert, peacefully quiet and shy. Reticent. It takes a lot to reveal my own deep thoughts aloud. So much easier on paper! How could I possibly open up to a room full of strangers in such an intimate way?

Thankfully, through positive thoughts and fear-pulverizing quotes, I pushed through the week and didn’t cancel. I’m happy to report that I even arrived for the workshop on time, with a full two minutes to spare. And, as is often the case, reality never measures up to expectations.

I loved the writing workout workshop! The teacher was excellent. The prompts were varied and didn’t necessarily need to originate from one’s own memory. Best of all, there was no forced sharing or reading required. Perhaps, this is why I felt comfortable enough to read aloud. A little piece of flash fiction. When it was all said and done, I’d spent over three total hours writing. My hand ached, while my mind was numb, as I drove home. I was content. And I’d conquered the day.