Category Archives: Life

The Year I Almost Missed the Tolkien Birthday Toast

Every January 3rd, I spend more of the day than I should staring at the clock. School isn’t back in yet, which means I’m normally at home. Though there’s plenty of work to do, it’s easy to watch the clock and think about 9:00pm. What will I drink this year? How many minutes does it take to prepare? I have to ready right on time.

Since it fell on a Wednesday this year, we would be at church beforehand, but the timing would be perfect. We would be home in plenty of time, I would make my husband and myself a cup of tea (or maybe hot chocolate for him), and we would have the toast at home. It would be great.

Then reality hit. We got into the car and realized that everything had gone later than usual. We wouldn’t make it home in time. I would miss 9:00.

Though it’s a kind of silly tradition, my husband knows it’s important to me, so he had already thought of a plan B. There’s a Starbucks right on the way home. We swung in, ordered some hot chocolate, and were back in the car in time for the birthday toast.


It didn’t have the same sense of ceremony that Tolkien’s birthday toast normally does, but it still happened. And that’s what really matters.


2018 Goals

A belated merry Christmas and happy New Year, everyone!

Around this time every year, I reflect on the past year’s goals and set some new ones. Sometimes, I find that I’ve done a great job. The past two years, not so much.

2017 Goals

Finish a draft of the steampunk/fantasy/sci-fi novel
I started with a valiant attempt, but the novel still isn’t ready. Unlike most things I’ve written, it’s really comprised of 2-3 stories that come together to make one narrative. The main one — the one I started with — just can’t seem to find its footing. It needs more time to brew. And that’s okay.

Continue to blog at least weekly, but aim for three times a week
I haven’t done awful with this one, though I did change midyear to two posts a week. It seems like a more reasonable schedule with a baby on the way.

Read more books 
I’ve actually done well with this one, considering my previous track record. (It stinks to like books but not feel like you have time to read.) I think, in all, I’ve read 13.75 books. (I’m nearly to the end of Warbreaker by Brandon Sanderson, which is 652 pages.) Last year, I started reading works by Inklings besides Tolkien and Lewis. So far, I’ve finished two: Robert Harvard and Dorothy Sayers. There are still plenty more to go. I’m hoping to read even more this year… though we’ll see how that goes.

So what about this year? That’s a good question. Since I’m close to a major life change, it’s hard to say what this year will look like, but there still are things I’d like to accomplish.

  • Continue to blog at least weekly, but aim for twice a week
    (Obviously, I might have to take a short, unscheduled hiatus when the baby comes.)
  • Continue to work on my writing projects at least once a week
    Regardless of what it is, I want to take some time to keep my writing skill sharp and enjoy my favorite hobby
  • Learn to find balance
    It’ll be interesting to see what my reflections are on this next year. Between teaching part time, writing, and being a new mother, life is going to be interesting. But I’m excited. We’ve been waiting for this for a long time, and I’m ready.

What are your goals for this year? How did you do on last year’s goals? Do you make goals at the beginning of the year or prefer to measure your progress another way?

Lessons from a Student

There are many things that I love about teaching. But one of the hardest things is watching students walk through difficult times.

That was the case for 13 months, when one of my first high school French students was diagnosed with brain cancer. She was a strong and dedicated young woman who took French because she liked it and spoke it beautifully. Only a few months into her second year, she was diagnosed and rushed into emergency surgery.

Last month, she passed away. It’s hard to watch a 17-year-old go through everything that she did, but she did it with more grace and faith than many adults have. I know her attitude challenged me to rethink how I approach hard times and has changed everyone who knew her.

Besides memories and a few pictures, I have one thing to remember her by. A book that her aunt brought from France as a gift. Her mom wanted me to have it for my French classes.


The book is all about fairies. 

I love that something from her will always be a part of my classes, especially such a beautiful book. It’s a poignant reminder that life is beautiful, even when it’s difficult, and the power of faith and courage in the face of any trial.

The Mystery of the Alarm Clock

The older I get, the more I realize that I like old technology as much as the new at times. Case in point: my alarm clock. I’ve had the same one for at least fifteen years because it knows how to wake me up properly.

I’ve never been much of a morning person (and it has only gotten more pronounced with pregnancy), so the abruptness of regular alarm clocks kills a little piece of my soul. There’s no easing into the morning with them. They just start shouting mercilessly.

Enter my alarm clock. Stick in a CD. (I think most kids still know what those are.) Set the time. In the morning, I’m eased into the day with gentle music. Yes, my husband’s alarm goes off a few minutes later as a precaution (and as the signal to the cat that he can finally start begging for breakfast), but at least I’m at some level of alertness instead of being startled awake.

The trouble, though, is that things have recently changed with my alarm clock. Does it know that my sleep schedule will soon fall under the dictates of a crying baby? Is it showing some resentment because I missed a milestone anniversary that I’m not aware of? Has post-modernism taken over? Or does it just prefer words now? I’m not sure. But now the display always looks something like this.


The hour has been transformed into a J, regardless of the hour. As minutes tick away, they look like secret messages. Joy. Jog. Jes. Jig.

The clock still knows the hour. The alarm still goes off faithfully. It’s like time is a secret it’s chosen to keep to itself for some unknown reason.

I feel conflicted about what to do. I should take the batteries out, unplug it, and see what it does when it gets power back. But part of me is afraid that it won’t work properly again if I do (and I’m not thinking CD player alarm clocks exist anymore), and part of me would miss this strange phenomenon.

So I put off doing anything about it for a little longer and enjoy this strange phenomenon. Maybe I’ll figure out what’s going on eventually.


Post #601

I originally had another idea for today’s post, but then I realized something. This is post #601.

601 blog posts. It’s taken seven and a half years to reach that number, but here we are. And how different everything is than when I started.

Back in 2010, I didn’t quite know what to write, and I posted for several months before anyone even stumbled across my blog. I suppose I could have changed that, but I was too introverted to start randomly following people and too private to advertise to people I knew that I had a blog. Not that the second one has changed much. Only three people who know me personally have ever been here.

I’m still working on the same novel, though there are plenty of new projects in the works as well. But even seeing how much that first novel has changed over the past seven years is amazing. It’s grown up alongside me. Maybe one day, it’ll finally reach maturity, though I’m not counting my chickens yet. After all, I used to think it would be publishable by the time I was sixteen.

But one thing hasn’t changed. I still love to write. This outlet has turned into a good excuse to keep consistent with my writing habit, even in seasons when it’s not the easiest thing to do. And it’s allowed me to see how much I’ve changed as a person and a writer over the past seven and a half years. It’s like a writing time capsule, and one that I get to enjoy with you.

How long have you been blogging? Has your blog changed over the years or have you stayed consistent throughout?

The Great Mystery Book: The Voynich Manuscript

I have a thing for gathering random facts and information. I think it’s partly nature and partly nurture. My mom has always been a collector of facts, to the point that she could easily win Jeopardy if she ever applied to be a contestant.

As I grew up, I realized just how handy knowing so many random things can be for writing, which has only fed my need to create a personal menagerie of random facts. My husband always laughs when our evening conversations start with me saying, “So I was watching this documentary on poisonous potatoes in the Andes today…” (And if you’re interested, it’s “Food: Delicious Science” on Netflix.)

Needless to say, when I happened across a TED-Ed about a book written in a seemingly real language no one knows and filled with unusual paintings, I had to watch it. We live in a time when so many mysteries can be answered with history and science, but this is one that has remained an enigma. It’s enough to get the imagination going, whether it’s to figure out the truth behind the book or find inspiration to write a story in which there’s a similarly mysterious book.

Have you ever heard of the Voynich Manuscript? Do you have any similar mysteries in your stories?

The Strange Case of the Unexpected Tiny House

I’d say that it started as a regular day at school, but it hadn’t. It had been a week since the hurricane, and the aftermath seemed to be the only thing on everyone’s minds. Everyone felt off, but at least we all felt off together.

After class, I turned everything in to the front desk. There, the ladies were giggling. There was a strange new addition to the usual cars parked behind the building. Unable to resist, I headed back there with one of them.


There, we found a tiny house on wheels. It definitely wasn’t what I had been expecting. No one really knew where it had come from or why it was there. Perhaps it had been parked there so that the buildings would block most of the wind? Perhaps it blew in from somewhere else, like the catfish people found on their porches?

The tiny house on wheels vanished a few days later. No one knows where it went. I like to think it’s off on a new adventure… that doesn’t involve hurricanes.