Betsy Whitt

I read. I write. I think. I live.

Category: Good Things (page 1 of 7)

The New World

It’s been one of the busiest years I can remember, and not only because we now have a baby to absorb every single extra second of our days (and a few non-extra ones as well, if we’re honest).

What can I say that’s worth saying?  We’ve done a lot of work around the house–mostly outdoors this year, as the majority of the indoor projects are finished or very close to it.

I’ve been participating in a certificate program through Princeton Theological Seminary, which means classes every other month or so since February.  That goes through the end of this calendar year, and then I will hold a Certificate of Theology and Ministry, which is satisfying to the scholarly bit of my heart.

I’ve managed to kill another plant and two more are on their way to death’s door, though I’m trying not to push them along the path.

I’m beginning to have the time and inclination to write fiction again, which is gratifying–unfortunately my brain is so out of practice that I need to set up some structured writing time to nudge the creative process along.  Most of my “writing” of late has been on facebook and twitter, in the form of a couple of sentences at a time (at most). So it will take a little time before my brain catches up to the function of writing in a longer format.

We’re winning the battle of the junk piles, barely.  The spread of junk paperwork has been limited to just one room, and only one pile in that room at present, which is a fairly major miracle in and of itself, but there is also some progress about to be made on the random boxes of stuff in the bottom of the guest room closet, and then I have plans to clean out the office closet–which is nigh unheard-of.

There are, of course, many projects that still need attention, but at least things are getting done. I’m getting a bit better at the “one thing at a time” mentality. Lots of things would be nice to have done; very few are immediately necessary. I’m working on separating them and approaching each type of thing differently. Maturity is insidious sometimes. ;)

At any rate, I ought to keep moving along. It’s good to write more than a few sentences at a time for an audience, however small that audience may be at present. In my experience writing feeds writing, thinking feeds thinking, and conversation feeds conversation–so this seems  like a good place to start the cycle.

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And The Whole World Changes

I hope anyone who wondered why there hasn’t been an update figured out that I did, in fact, have a baby a little while ago.  It’s amazing how every aspect of your life is affected by such an event–in some wonderful ways, and some less wonderful ways.

I happen to be working on a computer that has no pictures of our beautiful baby girl to upload, so you don’t get to see her right now, but I can tell you about her.  Mary Virginia was born at 1:54pm on January 3, 2013 (1-3-13, handy) after 38 hours of labor.  She weighed 6 pounds and 9 ounces and was 19 inches long and everything about her is beautiful, both from a parent’s admittedly biased perspective and from the objective medical angle that looks at whether she’s got any health troubles.  There’s one thing they’re keeping an eye on, but it’s correcting on its own as she grows, and everyone is optimistic that she won’t need any treatment or correction for it.  It makes for a few extra trips to the doctor’s office, but considering that Mary’s cousin had already had surgery at this point in his life and had two more scheduled within the year, we’re disinclined to complain.

For what it’s worth, I’ve also been doing well in terms of physical recovery, and I haven’t had any trouble with baby blues or post-partum depression, which might be considered something of a minor miracle given my history with depression.

I am even more behind on quite a few things than I was before Mary was born, and several of them have very little promise of getting done at any point in the near future, but I’m strangely okay with that.

And speaking of not getting things done because of the baby, she’s beginning to fuss for her second (third?) breakfast, which means it’s time to sign off.

I hope your new year has begun as wonderfully as mine has.

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Funny How Time Flies….

I can hardly believe that it’s been three months since I posted here, although I suppose from the other side of things, it’s pretty much expected at this point. Poor regular readers with no regular posts to read. I apologize, and am happy to announce that I’ve been having bloggerish thoughts again lately, and will be setting aside time to indulge them once again, which translates to mean I expect to be posting far more often.

Hmm… updates from last post….

It took four months, in the end, before the storm door’s hardware was replaced. It looks great, but the paint I used is already chipping off a bit in places, so it seems my brilliant DIY idea is more of a temporary fix than a permanent solution.

I’ve managed NOT to travel any more since May, and it’s been lovely to be near home consistently. The one exception was for about four days before the local schools resumed classes, which is also when Matt’s fall schedule kicks back into full gear. We took a few days and headed down to Manitou Springs to rest, relax, and be tourists–but being less than 90 minutes from home isn’t really traveling, so I don’t count it in that category. It was lovely to take a rest from our normal routine, though, and great to get that time together before fall’s craziness kicked in full-throttle.

I mentioned a new job in passing last time–it was truly a job in passing, as before I’d been there for three months they had to let me go. A bit of a bummer, as the extra money would have been nice for a few more months at least, but in the end we’ll be fine and it’s been quite a blessing to not have a day job to work around in recent weeks.

I’ve played plenty of Diablo 3, and I could probably talk for a while about its pros and cons, and why I’m okay at this point with just the occasional opportunities I get to play it these days. But I won’t, because this is not a gamer blog, nor is it likely ever to be such a thing, and because I don’t have the patience to put all my thoughts in a coherent form, which pretty much negates the whole “writing a blog post” idea. I will say, since I specifically mentioned it in the last post, that eventually the wizard’s crystal skin ability is far less effective, because its capacity to absorb damage doesn’t increase as your health does, nor does it increase as your opponents begin to deal significantly more damage–so in early levels it was brilliant, but later on it’s less awesome. Sorry, for anybody who googled “wizard crystal skin” and got my last update without the tempering information I have just disclosed. Hopefully you figured it out for yourself, but if not, I have now covered my proverbial backend and cannot be held responsible for wizards going up against Belial in Hell thinking crystal skin is going to materially help them. Sorry, it won’t. Not even a little bit.

And now we get to that amorphous “other things are brewing” bit at the end of my last post. Those of you who follow me on twitter or Facebook, or who know me in real life (what?? who knows anyone that way any more these days?) have likely surmised that this was primarily a veiled reference to the fact that Matt and I are expecting our first baby in January. We didn’t tell most people until almost July, so only our immediate family and our closest friends caught the sideways reference, but it was definitely in my mind when I wrote it.

Everything’s been going smoothly thus far with the baby-growing, and we’re not finding out whether it’s a boy or a girl, and several of the things that have been brewing in my blogging-mind are pregnancy related, so I’m not going to say much more for now. Feel free to ask any questions you might have, and I will feel free to answer only the ones I feel you have a right to know the answer to. :) But yes, we’re thrilled and excited and all the positive things one can be about preparing for a new baby.

So yes, the baby-brewing was foremost in my mind when I wrote about things in the works that were not being worth talking about yet, but there are other things we’ve been working on as well. Things like figuring out what to do with the retaining wall that’s collapsing in our back yard, and my slowly developing plans for remodeling the guest bathroom–the last bastion of pure ugly in the house. Things like wading back into the world of writing and how I’ve been catching up on my scrapbooking, and posting photos of the progress in the house (the kitchen is done!).

And since then, I’ve been saving up all kinds of things to say about topics like ridiculous “must have” baby registry checklists, finding decent pregnancy clothes (using “decent” on so many levels…), depression and pregnancy, how annoying car repairs can be, and my ongoing inability to keep plants alive: alas, Bob2 finally met his doom; Mr. Prickles didn’t survive the winter (even though he lived indoors); Bob3 is already struggling; my three porch plants died within a month of buying them this spring; basil and sage plants both died; and the two indoor potted plants are struggling valiantly, but one is clearly losing.

In other daily-life news, I’m still almost always behind on laundry and cleaning the kitchen, but I’ve managed to restrict the piles-of-junk to one table and my office. Although clearly not optimal, this is a significant improvement over previous norms.

And now it’s time to sign off and make a list of all the things that need doing to finish all the partially-finished home-improvement projects in the house, with priority listings for those things that ought to be accomplished before my parents visit in a month.

What’s up with you?

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Days Go By

I’m not entirely certain whether it’s funny or inexpressibly sad that after a month and a half, the front door’s handle is still not fixed, and one still enters by pulling an orange string to open the storm door. Whether sad or funny, it is the case, and I’ll thank you to keep your snide comments about not finishing projects to yourself, thank you very much! I’ve been Doing Things!

Things like traveling to Ohio and North Carolina, finding bits of family history and visiting with family present along the way. Things like starting a new job. Things like having out of town friends and relatives visit and having large groups of people (like over 30 at a time) over at my house in the evenings–three times in one week. I think I can be forgiven for not having painted and replaced the front door’s hardware. At least, I hope I can. Because if not, then I’m in deep doo-doo.

Also, people who know me now may or may not be aware that back in the day I was quite the Diablo 2 player. And they may or may not know that Diablo 3 FINALLY came out a few weeks ago, and those who are fond of connecting dots may correctly surmise that I have been properly enjoying fighting the minions of evil. For the distinct minority who might care, at present I have a level 30 Wizard, a 20 Monk, and a 10 Demon Hunter. Most useful spell thus far when fighting bosses: the wizard’s crystal skin. Won. Der. Ful.

That’s about all the news that’s fit for the public at this point… as usual, there are several things brewing in the background that are far too undeveloped to reveal to the masses, but the rest of this year should be quite eventful.

oooOOOOooo.

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Um… Happy New Year!

Holy cow! It’s been almost 5 months since I posted an entry here!

In my defense (I always have a defense) I have been really really busy. Really! First there was the cross-country driving, which included visits to both my family and Matt’s family for Thanksgiving and also for pilfering various items from their houses–some of which we had left behind to be collected later and some of which were donated to the cause of furnishing our new house. We drove back with a big U-Haul trailer which, thankfully, did NOT try to kill us in Kansas like the last one did. In fact, this trailer behaved so well compared to the last one we pulled on the same route that any lingering doubts or guilt I might have carried about taking U-Haul’s money five years ago to repair our truck after their trailer tried to kill us have been laid to rest. Their trailer had a problem. A big problem. And it damaged our car and threatened our safety. And I do not regret taking their money to pay for the necessary repairs. So there.

So we returned with our bellies full of turkey and our car and trailer full of boxes and furniture, and promptly unloaded those latter items into our apartment’s garage, because we had not yet closed on the house. In fact, while we were gone another complication came up to delay things for *another* couple of weeks. In the beginning of December we threw common sense to the wind and cleaned up the leaves in the back yard even though we had no claim to the house yet, because we didn’t want them to be matted down over the grass by incoming snow in case we *did* close. At the most, it would be a few hours of free labor given to a good cause. We raked up 41 big bags of leaves and piled them on the back patio, just in time for a big snowfall to justify our actions. We also cleaned out as many roof gutters as we could reach with our apartment-sized ladder–most were entirely full, and some had plants almost two feet tall growing in them.

Luckily for us, we DID close on the house just after Matt’s finals week in December. We signed all the paperwork on Friday the 17th, I painted and cleaned like a crazy person all weekend, and we moved the bulk of our belongings in on Monday the 20th. In true Whitt fashion, we unpacked and decorated for Christmas in record time, and were entirely out of the old apartment before the end of the year.

After our housewarming party in mid-January, we started in on remodeling the master bathroom. That project is still in process, but it’s closer than ever to being finished. Right now, all we need are trim (baseboards, etc.), tile in the shower stall, and a shower door. The tiling is holding things up at present, because it takes a big chunk of time at once, and we haven’t had a whole lot of that.

The next project will be the half-bath and laundry room downstairs. And the garage doors (only one currently works). And the retaining wall in the back yard. And pulling out the enormo-bush out front. And the dead bushes. And… well, I’ll be sure to keep the photos coming.

Shiloh does, in fact, love her new house and back yard. She’s not too sure about all the service people who’ve come over to work on things and make sure our systems are up to par.

It’s probably worth mentioning that now that we have extra room even after designating a guest room and an office for me, we’re renting our spare room to a college student. His name is Kevin, and I’ll probably mention him from time to time. So now you know who this random Kevin person is.

In other news, I bit the bullet and got a new job. I’m driving for a car service here in Denver, mostly Town Cars with the occasional SUV, van, or stretch limo thrown in. It’s a good job, and I like it thus far. Flexible, good people, decent money. Can’t complain. So if you’re coming to Denver and you need a driver, feel free to drop me a line and I’ll give you the company’s contact info.

Matt is on schedule to graduate this May, barring a sudden descent into insanity as a result of his crazy schedule this semester to get everything done. So May will be busy, as we host several family members for his graduation ceremony, then throw a party, then head out for a week of vacation with some of those family members.

I don’t remember all the other things that have happened in the last five months, but I’m sure things will come to mind as I return to regular updatery.

So? How are things with you? What have I missed? What should I post photos of first? Talk to me, people!

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Super Sekrit Project Revealed!

Those of you who follow me on Twitter or are my facebook friends have most likely already seen this news, but we have finally reached a watershed point, and the Super Sekrit Project can be de-sekrit-ized.

Drumroll!
…….

We are buying a house!

Woohoo!

Those paying attention to the duration of the Super Sekrit Project thus far have probably noticed that this has encompassed a fair amount of time and energy in the last few months. We found quite a few homes with listings that looked promising enough for us to see them in person; we debated back and forth between several; we took a very deep breath and offered on a short sale property (this does not refer to the length of time it takes; it’s a type of pre-foreclosure, which complicates things); we waited several weeks for the seller’s bank to get some things together so they could decide whether to accept our offer or not; we looked at more houses before we decided to extend the deadline for our offer; we waited for some more wrangling between the sellers and their bank (remember how I said the short sale status complicated things?); and then we scheduled a home inspection to do everything we could to ensure that the property is in the condition we expected, that we most likely won’t run into something like a cracked foundation or leaky roof in the near future. Any one of those steps encompassed many ways the deal could break apart, so we have refrained from talking about it much in any public format.

Of course, as with anything, nothing is set in stone until after the closing–we haven’t set a date for that yet, but we’re prepared to move quickly and hoping everything will come together so that we can take possession early enough to do some cleaning and catch up on general maintenance before it comes time for us to move. The house has been vacant for almost two years, so there’s plenty to clean, lots of leaves to clear out of the yard, etc. Just to add a bit of an obstacle, we’ll be taking a road trip out east to spend Thanksgiving with our families, so we’ll be working around all of that.

In the last few weeks, I’ve gotten quotes for various home-owning-related things like carpet cleaning, repainting siding, and servicing the HVAC system; I’ve researched costs for home improvement projects like remodeling bathrooms and pulling out juniper bushes; and I’ve combed craigslist for moving boxes, since we’ve finally reached a stage at which packing up items we don’t need everyday actually makes sense.

It’s a crazy kind of thing, buying a house. It takes up all your mental energy, and a fair amount of the physical energy as well. I have a ridiculous number of bookmarks, and it’s hard not to tumble things over and over in my mind, trying to find the perfect solution to any number of challenges.

As a result of everything that’s going on, I have officially decided to NOT participate in NaNoWriMo this year. I will, of course, write as much as I can amid all the other activity, and I remain committed to my goal of querying actively this month. (I did finish my query letter. Huzzah!) And then there’s the packing and the cleaning and the finalizing a home purchase and the driving across the country and back. I think all that should keep me plenty busy without adding the pressure of 50k more words, and the guilt of being behind on my word count all month, as I know I would be.

Since I know everyone really reads the blog for news on Shiloh, you will be disappointed to hear that she remains completely baffled in the face of my house-related excitement. I try to tell her she’s getting a yard–with a fence!–but she just tilts her head to one side and looks at me rather blankly. No response. No enthusiasm. It’s really very disappointing, but I suspect she’ll catch on quickly after she sees the place.

So that’s the Super Sekrit Project, no longer a secret. See? I told you it wasn’t a book deal, a baby, or another dog. But it’s cool!

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Milk and Exercise

I promised last time to tell about adventures in milk. Through an acquaintance, we have had a supply of raw milk lately–lovely full-of-fat, cream-rises-to-the-top-to-skim-off-and-put-in-my-coffee, straight-from-the-cow milk. That’s really all the adventure has been, but it’s been wonderful. I do love milk.

In other news, you may remember that I joined a gym last week. This is in part because it’s the cheapest way for me to have access to a lap pool all year round, since the condo complex’s pool is only open between Memorial and Labor Days, and I do like swimming. Also, I tend to be more motivated to follow through on goals if I’m paying something for them–so paying for a gym membership significantly increases the likelihood that I will actually exercise. Nine days in, the theory holds. We’ll see how it does over the course of the next few months. I am doing cardio and I used my free introductory hour with a personal trainer to set up some weight training to help me reach my goals, which I admit is mostly to feel less like a lazy slug. Maybe not the most noble goal, but a goal nonetheless.

Most of the rest of what’s going on isn’t ready for public announcement yet, but it’s taking up a lot of brain space and it’s hard to not talk about. No, it’s not a book deal. No, it’s not a baby. Sadly enough, it’s not even another dog. But it’s cool!

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Oh My Goodness October Is Halfway Gone

How did that happen? This is craziness. Give me back my year!

Needless to say, life has continued on its “busy” trend. As I told a friend earlier today, I am alternately awash in activity and then entirely free, wondering what I’m behind on since surely I should be doing something. That pretty much sums up the last few months.

So, how are things going? Well, Matt has a stable job that we have every reason to believe will continue beyond his graduation from seminary, which will happen (fingers crossed) this coming May. I finished my manuscript and have made progress on writing a really lovely query letter, but it’s not quite there yet and I keep getting bowled over by things that Need Doing Now, so it’s not quite ready to send out on its own yet. My goal is to get it there by November 1.

Also, I’m pretty sure of what I’m going to be working on for NaNoWriMo this year, which I’ve signed up for despite the fact that I will be out of the state for at least half the month, given the current schedule.

I am a creature of habit, and recently I’ve realized that several of my habits of late are not as productive or constructive as they should be, though it’s better than it could be. Nonetheless I am endeavoring to improve, and on that note I have joined a gym and committed to a regular exercise schedule, thus far with widely varied results. Not varied results as regards working out regularly–there’s only been a chance for two workouts yet, and I’ve done both of them–but varied results in the level of extreme pain I experienced in the hours following said workouts. My hope is that more exercise will lessen the pain factor considerably, which would be good if I mean to continue with the exercising.

Shiloh is doing very well lately, especially since as a result of both Matt and I returning to more beneficial schedules, we’ve re-instituted our former habit of taking nightly walks, and Matt has returned to his habit of getting up early and taking a long walk in the morning as well. She’s loving it. We’re not displeased, either.

In other news, the library had its annual book sale, and then I found a used bookstore that was going out of business, so I bought a bunch of books that I otherwise wouldn’t have acquired because they were cheap! Yay books! Also, I’ve been really enjoying some nonfiction reading that I stacked up for myself alongside my usual fiction consumption.

Last but not least, I’ve been meaning to talk about milk, but I’m out of time for now, so that will have to wait until next time, which I full intend to be much sooner than the middle of November.

Oh yeah, I turned 28 about a week and a half ago; had a lovely quiet day and thus far my 29th year of life is treating me tolerably well. Can’t complain.

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This Post is Full of Lameness

Earlier today I had a brilliant idea for something to write about here.

Naturally, I completely forget what it was.

So, no brilliant discourse for you today. Or even moderately amusing discourse.

Life seems to be rolling along at a rather high speed, so I’m trying to keep up. I’ve been reading more non-fiction than usual lately, but I’ve given up on trying to keep track of all my reading this year, so you’re out of luck if you want me to recall them all. The house has almost entirely recovered from our recent parental visits, with the notable exception (as usual) of the kitchen. It’s still a bit of a disaster.

There are also several potential Things in the hopper, which would be rather big Things if I could talk about them, but they’re in such embryonic stages that it would do all of us a disservice if I started squeeing about them here.

Having let myself revel in Being Done with revisions on my manuscript for a few days (and also visiting with my parents, who flew thousands of miles to see us), I have officially begun moving forward with the next steps, which are updating my short synopsis and writing a query letter that isn’t horrible. The former is in good shape, I think, but the latter is one of my personal weak spots, and I am dreading revisiting it. My last attempt was truly terrible. It made my book sound boring. My book is not boring! It’s exciting! Thus, inherently a bad letter.

Shiloh seems to have made a full recovery from her tummy unpleasantness, and has returned to full cuteness. Lately, she spends her afternoons out on the porch sleeping in the sun and watching the birds on the feeder, and chasing off the braver squirrels who venture near the porch railing. A few neighborhood cats have also seemed to hone in on our porch as a good bird-hunting location, so Shiloh does what she can to save her birdy friends from annihilation. The birds are completely accustomed to her presence and are unconcerned with her proximity. They know she just likes watching them. It’s quite endearing to watch.

That’s all I’ve got. Hope all you masses of people who read my blog are doing well. :)

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It Is Finished

My big deadline? The super secret goal? Completed, with 6 hours to spare. It’s amazing what one can get done, amidst distractions, when one has resolved to do it anyway. We’ve had multiple visitors, a sick dog (she’s doing much better now, thanks for asking), car troubles (new clutch, and it’s making a HUGE difference, thanks), all my kids going off to college (no, not my biological kids, but they’re still mine, and they still all left to save the world), and the various other bits of craziness that normally make up life in the Whitt house.

My novel is done. The novel that I finished a long, long time ago, and then pulled apart a big section of because I figured out what was bugging me, and it was a big enough problem to warrant the pulling apart and putting back together. The novel that got rather abandoned because Real Life Took Over And Exploded this year.

That novel.
It’s done.
Again.
Finally.

That was my goal: to finally complete all the revisions needed to make it a whole story again, worth submitting.

There are, of course, always things I *could* keep fiddling with. But I will not. I am backing away slowly, with my hands in plain sight, leaving this manuscript just as it is, because it is finished.

I’m not even going to talk about the next steps until tomorrow, at least. Tonight, I get to enjoy the fact that my manuscript is complete.

Take that, August!

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