Happy Birthday from Netflix #Streamteam!

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Every year, it happens.

October. October happens. October, with its leaves and its crisp weather and its pumpkin spice all up in my biz..

All good things. Yes.

Also, the birth of my husband, some six million years ago. And the wee first born, my preshus wee angel, WILL BE NINE YEARS OLD. (Hashtag howdidthathappen? timeisweird hewillbeshavingsoon).

The husband does not get the hoopla. He gets a cake, some really crappy cards from my kids, and a golf shirt. That, my friends, is the holy trinity of birthdays when you’re old and boring.

But, did you know? Nine year olds like to think their birthday is going to be second only to when Moses parted the Red Sea, except there will be no drowning and tragedy, and also, no biblical prophecy, so you know. Not as cool. But close.

I have failed birthdays before, y’all. This is daunting.

BUT LO, THE NETFLIX HAS SAYETH: I SHALL HELPETH YE!!

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Friends, it’s not often that my television speaks to me in Old English, but when it does, I listen.

Here’s the deal – Netflix has created Birthdays on Demand. This feature offers your children their favorite characters in cute short clips wishing your kids a Happy Birthday.

 

I don’t know about you guys, but sometimes? A little bit of help really… helps.

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Notice the oven mitt. It’s fitting.

So, how does this magic happen? Just open your Netflix and search “Birthday”! From there you can watch anyone from Barbie to Lego Friends to My Little Pony celebrate with you. Our personal fave? King Julien. Of course. (King Julien is kinda my spirit animal.)

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Thank you, Netflix, for giving me yet another reason to convince my children I am a magical, wondrous woman who has Ninjago at her fingertips. This totally makes up for my frosting abilities.

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As a Netflix SteamTeam blogger, I get to watch the awesomeness that is Netflix, and chatter about it on my blog. It’s a great gig.

 

 

 

 

 

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Done, Part One.

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Setting: A college classroom. Various students are slouched in chairs, tired, and they are all wearing weirdly tapered Nike pants, which were so in style when I was a kid, but I still cannot fathom that young men are wearing these things today.

They kind of look like M.C. Hammer. But, you know.

I teach this class. The tapered pants are a distraction, but for the most part, we get through.

Last class we were discussing what a writer does for a living. And I was all:

“Hey, looket! I wrote a book. Like, for real. Here, let me show you!” And I showed them. But not, for real, because I have NO COPIES OF MY OWN BOOK for some reason. This is a weird glitch – but then, I figured. If you were Mark Hamill, would you have a bunch of copies of Star Wars at your house? That would be odd, right?

Actually, I so would. I would have a ton of Star Wars movies at my house.

And, too, I am not comparing Bottled to Star Wars. That’s just crazy.

Maybe Battlestar Galactica, though.

But I digress.

Then the whole class shouted, “NO WAY. Like, for REAL? Will you sign my notebook? Oh, wait, I forgot to bring paper. Or a pencil. So, here, sign my pants!”

That’s not how they responded. No. There were crickets. Crickets were chirping. I think one cricket felt sorry and said, “Nice job, dude,” but I am not sure because I don’t speak cricket.

Such is the glamorous life of a writer. You work on something for nine months and then you find yourself hoping that weirdly panted college kids will think you’re cool.

Ok, now, truth be told, I don’t really need the approval of these wee lads. But, at times, the writing life can be like this. You find yourself with all these pages of your life and you kind of carry it around, toting it from one reading to the next, and saying, “Please. Read me,”  hoping for a signing that has more then three people at it, one of which showed up because he was looking for the bathroom.

We writers. We are ego, coated in insecurity, propped up by a thesaurus.

So, a few weeks ago, I left my husband and babies (see below):

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These are not my actual present-day babies. I mean, they ARE my babies, but this is a much older picture. It was on my desktop. How could it not be? I mean, look at them. The adorable is strong with these two. Blond is all… Blondo Suave. And Red? Full on nutball.

Nothing much has changed really.

But, anyhow, I left ’em. And I drove here:

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To work on this:

 

IMG_7005.jpgAnd I was greeted by this guy:

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Look deeply into my eyes. I am here for you, dude. Write. WRITE LIKE THE WIND.

Yes. It’s a church. As I am a deeply spiritual person, and am always kinda Floaty with Jesus, it only made sense that my writing retreat would be at a church.

Ok, but seriously, my friend Sonya loaned me her house while they traveled. She has the added benefit of being a pastor’s wife.

But, I am deeply spiritual. Just not Floaty. One cannot be floaty with two small children.  That’s just asking for trouble.

So, I was working on the second book. The publisher that worked with me on Bottled actually decided to let me stick around, and so, Perfect* was born.

Actually. Not yet. It’s done… but it’s not DONE done. Because there is editing and fixing and moving and cutting and OH GREAT FLOATY FATHER there is still so much more work to do.

And I love it all.

Oh, and also, at the writing retreat? There was this:

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Cat, accessorized by a clip.

And:

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I’m in charge.

And:

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And IIIIIIIIIIIII EEEIIIIIIIII WILL ALWAYS LOVE YOUUUUUUUUEEEOOOUUUU.

IT WAS ALL CATS, ALL THE TIME.

Cats + writing + fifty thousand Blow Pops + too much coffee = and almost done book. It’s possible I’m dedicating it to those cats.

 

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*This is a working title. Other possibilities:

The Perfect Book

Second Books Are Hard

This is a Book and I Wroted It

Prefection

 

 

 

 

And so on.

If at first you don’t succeed… blah blah blah.

Linking up with my people today at Five Minute Friday.

But, I don’t want to.

My fingers are tired. So is my head. Yesterday I had a meltdown so epic with my kids that even the dog left my side for a whole ten minutes. Which would have been kinda nice because honestly being followed constantly by Mr. clicky toenails guy is a bit annoying, but not in this case. In this case, I felt major dog-mom guilt. And basic mom guilt. Just, guilt. Loads and loads.

The theme for today, you ask?

 

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Good one FMF. I see what you’re doing there.

Ok, so pretty much every single free minute of my existence has been spent writing The Big Fat Second Book.

Here are some facts:

  1. That which won’t kill you will make you stronger. Maybe.
  2. It’s always darkest before the dawn. Or all day. Take your pick.
  3. If at first you don’t succeed, oh just put a sock in it.

Brace yourself. Whining is coming.

WRITING ABOUT HARD THINGS IS HARD. The past three chapters have been about hard things (good news! it’s still funny! don’t forget to pre-order!!! it will still be funny!). The hard things are there because Newsflash: LIFE IS HARD.

That’s kinda the premise of the whole book, actually. Dana finally figures out how HARD life is and she writes about it. I know, right? Should be a bestseller. I can just see the droves of people at the Barnes and Nobles:

“I can’t WAIT to read this book! It’s all about how life sucks the life out of you and is so very hard!”
“My gosh, that’s totally new information to me! I must read about it! It sounds wonderful!”

Perhaps I’m being a bit hard on myself here, but words are all stuck up in my craw and it’s making me… what’s that word for when you are upset and want to hit things?

Anyhow. The other day I broke our coffee grinder because I dropped it. It was a really nice coffee grinder and I hate hate HATE it when I break things. I also hate it when people say, “Oh well. I’ll just go buy another one,” because that just seems wasteful and the poor kids in India who made the coffee grinder probably could use a break. But, I really do LIKE ground coffee. It makes my heart sing a little. So – I was all smart and good for the environment and I bought a cheap little hand grind grinder thingie on the Amazons. Boom! I can work out my arms and save money AND electricity! I AM SAVING THE EARTH AND ALL THE THINGS!

Guys. To grind about one cup’s worth of beans takes forty five minutes.

Well, maybe not quite that many but it feels like it. I ground and ground and ground and… ground and ground… and ground… and checked and ground and ground…

I WANT MY ELECTRIC GRINDER BACK.

All of this is to say: keep trying. Don’t give up. Don’t give up on yourself as a momma, and also as a really bad hand-crank coffee bean grinder person. Because, you know, I am KEEPING that #@@%$ grinder and I’m gonna crank the ##$$ out of it. JUST KEEP GRINDING THE BEANS.

And, you, my sweet children, I will keep trying. I will come up to you and say “I’m sorry. Please forgive me?” and you will reach your little arms around my neck and we will all keep trying. We have to. We’re stuck with each other.

And YOU, book. Yea, I’m talking about you. I will keep trying. I will. I will write about the hard things and the funny things and dance around the parts that I think sound like the world’s worst writing since the history of writing, and I will not give up.

Or, as my son put it: “I forgotted yesterday anyhow, Momma.”

Press on.

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Women Who Move Mountains

I ask you, do you have any mountains you’d like moved?

I have a few.

Last month I kept a manila file in the office for far too long. It sat there and sat there, sullen and unopened, for far, far too long.

I’d really like to provide a gut-wrenching suspenseful scene here with something fascinating IN the folder, but well, it was our taxes. Receipts, forms, all sorts of paperwork, signifying money.

I let that file sit there because I was afraid of dealing with money. I cannot help but feel that as I file through all the papers and forms… that somewhere, a paper will flitter out, fall to the ground, and on it a statement:

“This is your bank statement. You are totally out of money. This means you will end up in a van down by the river and all is doomed.”

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Ok, I realize there are a few flaws in my thinking. Let me provide a short list:

  1. We have money.
  2. If we didn’t have as much money we’d still be okay.

This money thing is because money = stability. And, did you know? Stability means that

Everything Must Be All Right All of the Time No Matter What.

Catchy, right? I’m going to needlepoint that on a pillow.

Making sure that Everything Must Be All Right All of the Time No Matter What is rather tiring, did you know? Also? It’s impossible, so there’s that.

I recently had the honor of reviewing this book, and I would like to recommend it to you here:

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You guys. This book is super. There are so many things I like about it, but to be brief:

IT IS JUST WHAT I NEEDED.

Ok, the book addresses the issue of prayer – something I have always struggled with and for good reason. By this, I mean I tend to pray a lot like this:

Dear God – WHYYYYYYYYY CANNNNN’T YOUUUUUUUUU…. (fill in the blank) AND ANOTHERRR THING….

And so on.

Now, this is NOT bad. Praying + whining is acceptable to God. God knows. He made us after all, and if he made some of us, ahem, a bit more pessimistic and screechy than others? So be it. But when I whine/pray (Prine? Whray??) it just ends up with me feeling sad and twisty when I hang up with Him.

Detweiler’s book offers clear, practical advice on how to pray in solid, joyful FAITH. Yep. FAITH with BIG CAPITAL LETTERS. The kind of faith, that, well,  you know.

It moves mountains.

I highly recommend this book if your prayer life needs a little sprucing up. If you’re feeling like every prayer is uttered with all the verve of Eeyore. If maybe, just maybe, you have some mountains to attend to.

If you’d like to know more, or take a closer look at Sue Detweiler’s book click here, and get moving. 17903556_10155247020512206_6837944691568322308_n.jpg

 

 

Fight the Good Fight

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Sometimes being afraid just takes up too much time in the day.

And sometimes, we can fear the strangest things.

Y’all, I am fighting off some gunk lately. It is real, biological gunk as I think I might be getting the horrible plague-flu that is going around the boys’ school. I substitute there, and just yesterday a little sweetheart came up and coughed in my general direction and I swear I could SEE the horrible plague-germs attack me.

Also, sadness and confusion. I am fighting that. And a complete lack of confidence. I am a lump of all of that.

Here’s the deal. I am working on book 2. This is wonderful and exciting and such a straight up gift from God. So, you know Satan has to get in on it, don’t you? Satan’s all:

“This is the worst drivel you have ever written. You just googled The Spice Girls, to put IN your book, are you kidding? Who is going to read this crud? Maybe Scary Spice but that’s IT. And, you know? It’s really, really important right now for you to go on the facebooks and waste about 30 min. scrolling, scrolling, so you can mush-ify your brain a little more, BECAUSE YOU CANNOT WRITE.”

Etcetera, etcetera, etcetera. Satan has a very good way of instilling fear, distracting, and then lumpifying me. Allow me to show you in a cool graphic display:

Step One:

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Step Two:

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Step Three:8182018_orig.png

 

Also, this morning I received an email rejecting my writing. It happens. It happens a lot, actually. If you want to be a writer, oftentimes you have to hold your writing out for others to see, and that merits some rejection.

Still hurts, though. Still makes Satan just rub his hands together in glee, so he can now sprinkle “SEE? I TOLD YOU SO. YOU CAN’T WRITE. GET A CLUE AND START FILLING OUT APPLICATIONS AT JC PENNY” onto my already mushy brain.

Not that working at JC Penny would be terrible. It’s just… retail does not really speak to me on a creative level, you know? And I decided, some years ago, when I laid down the wine and said, “Enough,” that my new addiction would be creativity. So, I have to have it.

I just have to. Or I wither.

Here’s the deal. Satan tries to wither us at any corner, any small space, any bit of emptiness he can wiggle into. He slides in, sneaks by, infiltrates oh so slowly, and next thing you know? You’ve start to feel fear. And then, you react.

I react by throwing a blanket over it, so I can pretend it’s not there. I try to numb it out. I poke my fingers in my ears and sing “La la la la la!!!” like I’m six.

I try all of these things and scroll on the facebooks too. It does the trick, for a while. But all the time, the fear is still there, shrouded, and waiting. So very, very patient.

Instead? Well, I want to breathe in God and breathe Him out and just sit with Him and talk about all this stuff. I forget to DO that. Such a simple thing.

Kelly Balarie’s book, Fear Fighting, gives us reminders and wisdom about all of this. It is a book that speaks to those of us who long for Control. Who Worry. Who hate Waiting. Who have felt the sting of Rejection. (These are all her chapter titles, and I re-read “Rejection and Opposition: They Have Issues just this morning.)

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I also want “rhythm with God.” I want to sit with Him in all of this, and then, get up and walk with Him and work it out. I don’t want to evade or cover up or sink into mushy, distracted, tired brain.

I am grateful for this book and for Kelly’s compassion. She’s been there. Oh, has she been there (Read her book; she’ll tell you all about it. )

Go do something un-mushifying today. I will too, with the help of too much coffee, Jesus, some good music (Sara Groves, of course) and this book.

Join the good fight. #FearFightingbook #DolifewithGod

And all God’s women said,  Amen?

Amen!

 

Hello, my name is Dana, and I can’t wrap presents.

Momsie, Christmas 2016:

This year I will make sure we do a meaningful and very spiritual Advent activity every day!

This year, we will not fight or argue during our Christmas break because Jesus is about to be born and he needs his sleep! Peace! Goodwill! Etcetera!

This year I will make fudge that actually ends up as fudge, not glorified frosting!

This year, I will wrap the presents BEFORE CHRISTMAS EVE.

THIS YEAR WE WILL DO ALL THE CHRISTMAS THINGS!

 

Bet you can guess how I’m doing on my list, eh?

You know that sledding scene from It’s a Wonderful Life where George’s brother careens right into the pond? Well, that’s how our Christmas can go if we are not careful. Right. Over. The Merry Cliff.

I am pretty sure Jesus did not have this in mind.

Anyhow, what will happen is that I do make the fudge, and we eat it with a spoon and it’s YUMMO.

Also, I will make divinity for my dad because he is the best dad EVER and he’s reading this right now, and I am maintaining my status as the favorite child.

Also, I will put off wrapping because when I wrap presents? I seem to channel my inner idiot savant (what? We all have one. Don’t judge) and my presents end up looking like this:

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I would like to state for the record that there is no booze in this post. The item in the sock is “stunt liquid” – perhaps some olive oil, or a lovely bottle of Sprite. Perhaps a nice 1997. That was a good year.

Anyhow.

Wrapping. Wrapping happens. It’s unavoidable.

NETFLIX TO THE RESCUE!

Netflix has soooooo many new shows to view, I don’t even know what to start. If for some weird reason your children* are a part of this whole wrapping thing (rare, and also very painful for all involved. I mean, have you ever WATCHED a six year old try to wrap a box? It’s like green and red paint drying.) You can watch these two gems:

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Tim Allen is so JOLLY in this one. It’s perfection.

 

or : 61456a59-f862-446b-bc27-9e0fb05c8332_1-40f4d8069640ced9fde27ccd4522295b

This bunny one? It’s adorable.

And, like the tag says, “Everybody needs some bunny to love.” SO TRUE. We could all do with more bunnies to cuddle! Bunnies for everyone!

Also, the movie also stars Florence Henderson in one of her last roles, and she is so gruff and real and NON Florence Henderson-y in it;  she really was awesome in this movie. The story line is about adoption and fostering children. I am such a fan of those families who open their hearts and homes to children – even the “tough ones.” Just watch it. Bring kleenex. Or, maybe a bunny to hold onto while you watch. To wipe away the tears.

*Um, it’s also possible that the boys whilst watching the movies will be so transfixed by Christmas goodness that you can slooooooooowly slide the presents out of their sweaty little hands and then wrap those suckers for them in two seconds. I’m not saying I’ve done that, or that I’ve even done a good job IF I’ve done that, but we needed to be done wrapping that ONE BOX by 2017.

If you’re not watching with the babies, and you are also husband-free (he seems to avoid the whole wrapping thing because he knows better. I get surly. Plus, his style of wrapping, as an engineer, involves a level and measuring tape and, I think at one point there was some math formulas from an app on his phone involved) I go for the Hallmark-channely, romantic Christmas wondefulness stuff that is fluffy and happy. I like fluffy and happy. Heck, I’M fluffy and happy, so there’s that.

Here’s an example:movie-poster-back-to-christmas-563e51c486673-cb49ecc125dffb8d4491e3688e98609ba30f8aca-1“Sometimes you do get a second chance.”

That is cinema gold, people. We all need second chances, and if you’re a It’s a Wonderful Life-Ebenezer-Miracle on 39th Street kinda girl, you might realize –

IT’S ALL ABOUT THE SECOND CHANCES.

Jesus would agree.

And finally? I give you my second chance at wrapping:

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My masterpiece.

 

Merry Christmas! Sit back, relax, spoon up some fudge, and enjoy the season, with the help of Netflix.

 

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Banish Worry and Anxiety in Five Easy Steps!

Gotcha.

I hate to say it, but worry doesn’t go down that easy. It doesn’t do “steps.” Sometimes, it doesn’t even do logical.

And it doesn’t play fair. Does it?

Some of you know my whole story – the one that digs back behind the funny parenting posts and tells you that I am an alcoholic, in recovery. And here is the rub:

Worry was my THING.

And sometimes, it still is. The holidays are a time of festivity and lights and our Savior’s birth, but did you also know? For a lot of us, the holidays are fraught with fear, anxious thoughts, worry. Sadness. Depression. A whole cocktail of tangled thinking stirred with a cute little swizzle stick of “We SHOULD be totally happy right now! It’s Christmas! NO ONE can be sad at Christmas! It’s un-American!”

In some ways, worry is an addiction all its own. It can be picked up and put on, like one of those big puffy coats that make you look like the Michelin Man – it buffers you from all else. It wraps and constricts and, at the same time? It might just be what we think keeps us warm and safe. If we worry, that means we just might have a shot at fixing whatever worries us.

We think we can fix, with worry.

Instead? We only damage more.

Lately I had the pleasure of reading and reviewing this:

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Here is a bit of wisdom (in the form of a list! You KNOW how I love lists!) from the author, D. C. Berkel, CPA:

Worrying has never:

  • Paid a bill
  • Turned around a failing relationship
  • Made a sick person well
  • Improved anyone’s physique
  • Changed anyone’s mood to one more positive
  • Made a job more fun or secure
  • Taken out the trash
  • Mowed the grass
  • Painted the house
  • Or kept the mother-in-law away

Now, not all mother in laws are worry-inducing. But, this list? It makes sense. We worry. We worry about all sorts of things. And Christmas? Sometimes, in all this joy and celebration, it crashes up against us and makes the worry hit back. This workbook? It has a lot of help to offer. It defines anxiety, and worry, and tells us why we sink under it. It gives us some very practical advice, in a written workbook format, step by step. It takes it slow.

And that’s how we deal. We need to take a breath, do some writing, some thinking about our past, some work. Maybe because we owe it to our future.

I still worry. But, I don’t let it control me. And I don’t suffer from it, like I used to. It doesn’t cloak me, and my life, like it once did.

Did you know? About six years ago, every time I got in a car with my family to go on a road trip, I would envision our little vehicle ending up in a terrible crash. I would see it, the metal on the road, the ambulances, the terror. I would breathe deep and clench my fists and pray like crazy, but that, my friends, is some palpable, evil anxiety to deal with. So, today? I do every thing I can to work on it. I gather my tools and I keep them close. God asks us pursue wisdom, and knowledge, and live right.

This book is one of those tools to live right. I highly recommend it.

If you are interested in getting a copy, click here.

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