Auntie Joys

Yesterday morning I took a break from writing work to spend some time with my oldest sister, Betsie, and her family. 
Betsie is probably the first person to inspire me to write, thanks to the amazing stories she would weave for us siblings during my early childhood years. I remember sitting on the edge of the seat as I folded laundry or matched baskets of socks and listened to her enthralling tales. I would always beg for more and time seemed to fly by, no matter what work we were doing, when Betsie read or told us stories.
Now my sister has her own little bundle of children whom I’ve spent many hours reading and telling stories to as we work together. Her children have fantastic vocabularies and sometimes tell sparklingly unrealistic tales that glimmer and glow with the shine of active imaginations. They love having an auntie who writes books and one of my nieces often enjoys showing me short stories that she’s written.
This year I was quite excited when Betsie had her seventh child, because I’m the seventh child as well. Every so often when I’m cuddling baby Roy I inform him that we have a special bond and he was practically named after me since my middle name is Joy (although that is simply wishful thinking on my part). I’m not sure he understands yet the significance of sharing the same birth order with me (not too many people realize how special it is), but one day he will. Maybe. 

Last night I worked from about 8:00 until almost 12:30 so I could accomplish all my writing tasks that I had on my plate for yesterday after spending the day with my sister and her family. The day before had pretty much followed the same schedule and I wouldn’t be surprised if today was another repeat.

I’m thrilled that on some days I’m able to mix and match and rearrange so I can spend extra time with out-of-state family. I’m also so very thankful to have such a happy handful of extremely imaginative nieces and nephews. They really do make life more interesting and exciting.

* * *
What about you, do you have any nieces or nephews? And if so, do they enjoy using huge words that they spin into bright and happy stories? 

January 2015 in Review

What I focused on in January

1. Getting my book, Where Dandelions Grow to my editor for the final edit
2. Getting ready and going to Africa and Florida 
3. Helping our friends in Africa 
4. Getting ready for our business meetings in Florida 



Birthday Challenge: 
1. Read 23 Non-fiction books – I read 2 
11. Read the Proverb of the day 3 months (not in a row) – I missed one day, but then read it the next day

13. Go to bed before 10:30 23 times (not in a row) – I need to count it up, but I’m pretty sure I did this about 7 or 8 times

15. No texting for 23 days (not in a row) – 15 days
Dream List: 

Go to Africa


Reading Update 
Fiction: 
8
Non-Fiction:
2
Reviews:
None

Traveling 
I was gone 22 nights
Countries & States: The Ivory Coast (layover) and Ghana (14 nights) Traveling (2 nights) New York (layovers) Pennsylvania (traveling) Florida (6 nights)
New Countries & States: The Ivory Coast and Ghana

What I’ve been Learning

*Making my life count now. When we were in Africa we received the news that one of our friends from back home had drowned. The shock and sadness were mixed with the feeling of He lived his life well. Peter was just a few years older than me, yet he made an eternal difference during his short time on earth. He had run the race set before him and he had finished his course. No matter how long I live I want the same to be said about my life. 

* I had a fantastic time learning tons about the Ghanian way of life and their unique qualities and quirks. Wes and Charity, our friends who we were visiting, have lived in Ghana for around twelve years and they’re very knowledgeable about the culture. They were happy to answer hours and hours of questions.  


* January was a month greatly void of energy for me, which was really hard. It did give me a chance to continue learning a lesson that I’ve been working on for about eight years now: My self-worth is not determined by what I can accomplish. 
It is so crazily hard for me when I can’t look back at the end of the day and have a huge list I’ve accomplished. I’m still working on learning to rest in God and be ok with what I can and can’t do. My worth is determined by the fact that I’m created in God’s image and I’m His child, not by how much work I can get done in a twenty-four hour period. So simple to write, so hard to actually believe and put into practice.  

Other Things 


And I saved the best for the last. On Monday the 26th I was in an elevator when my phone rang and I missed a call from my cousin Alexa. I called her back after I was in my hotel room to be greeted with the wonderfully exciting news that just a few short hours before her amazing boyfriend had proposed and she had happily said Yes


Growing up Alexa, Aubrey (her sister), Helena (my sister) and I did everything together. Since we are all fairly close in age, one of the questions we had over the years was which one of us would get married first. Our predications always placed Alexa close to the top of the list and I guess we were right. It’s exciting entering this new phase in our cousinhood.

Alexa and Zach, I’m so excited/happy/thrilled/antispation-filled/delighted/joyful and all that good stuff for y’all! 

Yesterday // A Special Song

Yesterday was a beautiful, sunshiny day that made me thrilled just to be alive. I love walking along our gravel road with hay fields all around me, the tall hay rippling in the breeze. We have so many wild flowers mixed in with fields and I can hardly keep myself from going a little wild taking pictures of them. Add in a brilliant blue sky and some lemonade and you have a nearly perfect summer day. 
After spending a good portion of the day with family, my sister and I went to visit some of our neighbors who are like adopted grandparents to us. We’re so thankful for how they’ve served our country! 
After that we went and met with our amazing cousin, Aubrey, for some coffee and chatting. Of course y’all have heard me talk about her if you’ve been around Noveltea long. She plays the cello and is incredibly inspiring to me. Her dedication and creativeness is something I often marvel over. And now, I’ve got a special treat for y’all: Aubrey has a song you guys can listen to, and believe me, it’s something you don’t want to miss. She’s been so kind as to let me share the link with you guys, so why not head over here and enjoy a beautiful song that she composed and performed a few months ago. 

What are y’all up to today? I’m out to mow the grass and then cook and all those other great things I get to do around here. Of course I have tons of writing stuff that I need to squeeze into my life somehow and I’ve realized I need to go through all my stuff again before we move and weed out some of those possessions that I don’t really need. So, busy day for me. 🙂 
Don’t forget to get more entries for these two giveaways! European Postcard Tour and Corrie ten Boom’s Book/Bookmarks
By the way, y’alls comments have been making me really happy! Thank you so much for them. I’m sorry it’s taking me so long to reply to them. :-/ And, a big, huge WELCOME to all the new Noveltea followers. I’m thrilled to have you join us! If you’d like to introduce yourself in the comments, I’d be delighted to learn more about you, but of course that isn’t necessary. (And, anyone can introduce themselves, not just new followers!) 

Plotting and Swimming

Totally not the best picture of me… I actually just snapped it to send to my bro, but then decided to post it on here, because looky there! Corn on the cob! Corn on the cob! Having my braces off is a huge treat. =)

I’ve been brainstorming for my When Life Hands You Lymes book for a while now, but the plot wasn’t really getting written down. This book is hard for me, a definite challenge! Anyway, I keep telling myself “Ok, Aidyl, just sit down and work on it!” and it seems as if something always pops up. (It’s amazing how much can pop up when it will keep you from doing something you don’t feel like doing…)

Then last night I’d had enough of my lolly-gaggling (I’m not sure if that means anything, but I’m trying to say I’d had enough of my excuses) and so I told myself to sit down and stop the brainstorming and work on the plot. So I did. And I worked on it for quite a while and got a good amount done. Now I’m happy and looking forward to writing more of the book. Hopefully this will do away with most of the rambling that was taking place during those first few installments.

Yesterday some of my siblings and I were swimming and a fun idea popped into my mind, so I turned to my sister, Mariah, who’s 14 and said “Hey, let’s see who can go for the longest without touching the bottom or sides of the pool and without floating on their backs.” She said “Ok”, so we started. The pool isn’t very big, but it did have a section that is maybe six feet deep, so we both went over there. We later amended the rules to say that if you by mistake brushed the bottom of the pool, you weren’t disqualified.

My whole point of doing this was that I was really tried and yet still wanted to get some exercise in, and I figured if I was treading water, then I would be doing just that. After a few minutes, Mariah looked at me and said, “You know, this is going to be really bad because you and I are both competitive.” And she had a point there. I had already decided that there was no way Mariah was going to win, and weirdly enough, she had decided that too. Which means it was a stale-mate.

I really have no clue how long I thought it would last, but after about twenty minutes Mariah asked “Can you touch now, Aidyl? I’m getting tired.” The question was repeated in 2-5 minute intervals for the rest of the time. Of course I said no. At about 25 minutes, Mariah said, “If I win, you have to put this on your blog. If you win, we’ll all forget about it. Ok?” Of course I said no about that as well.

After a while my arms got tired, so I worked on just resting them while sinking down part way, and then kicking my legs to get me back up. Just remember that we don’t have a lot of opportunities to go swimming, so therefore we’re not really good at this kind of stuff.

Finally at 48 minutes, Mariah asked “If we both make it to an hour, can we call it a tie and both touch at the same time?” I agreed, and so that’s what we did. So yes, Mariah and I had fun treading water and swimming around without touching for 60 minutes. I think that might be the longest I’ve ever gone without touching anything (except occasionally a sister would brush past me). It was fun, tiring, and a cool challenge. Sisters are great!
***
Do y’all like to go swimming? 

Florida Sunshine

Yesterday it was so bright and sunny and warm. It actually got up to 81 degrees and we got to go swimming in the outside pool. That was pretty fun! It’s currently not quite that hot, only about 61, but considering my bro back home told me that it’s negative 20… Wow, just wow! 
It was great going on a nice, sunny walk yesterday, without the freezing air burning my throat. I really do enjoy winter and snow and cold, but it’s been fun getting a break from it, too. 🙂 I just got back from my walk this morning. 

I’ve been enjoying getting to spend time with family. I’ve been so blessed to have a wonderful family. Every day when I wake up, I make it a habit to think of ten things I’m thankful for to help the day start out with the right mood. My family is almost always one of the ten. We don’t always get along 100%, but I can’t imagine life without them. 🙂

And now I’m ready to eat the delicious-looking breakfast my grandpa just made me, then it’s off to plotting and brainstorming.

What’s the weather like where you are today? Do you enjoy snow? I think it’s beautiful! 

Traveling Update :)

The drive yesterday was cold and beautiful. Those back home informed me that it’s snowing again today, but we’ve gone past the outer limits of snow. I really like snow, so I’m not thrilled to be leaving it behind. I am looking forward to being able to walk again without the coldness burning my throat. 🙂 
I spent a large amount of the drive yesterday reading and writing. I also had fun hanging out with my sisters. I’m looking forward to getting more work done today. Car rides provide such a good environment for my work. I have to just sit in the same place for hours at a time and that’s exactly what I need to get a lot of work done. 😉 
I’m already working on getting posts ready for this year’s A to Z Challenge because I know April’s going to be a crazy busy month for me and if I wait until then, I’ll not be able to keep up. I’m pretty excited about the topic I’ve chosen and am looking forward to sharing it with y’all! 

This morning before we left the hotel, I really wanted to get some walking time in, because I feel so much better when I take a walk. And besides, who wants to sit for almost the whole day? Then after I got in the exercise room, I thought “Why not run some?” My usual walk each morning is two miles and it generally takes me about 32 minutes. Walking helps me with brainstorming, which is a very good thing indeed. Plus I get some prayer time in. 
I decided to try for 3 miles this morning. I knew I needed to pick up my normal pace, because we were leaving the hotel before long. So I took off. And this is what I ended up with. I’m pretty thrilled with myself! It’s so exciting seeing my health slowly returning!!! 

What are you up to, today? 

When Life Hands You Lymes #4

I am having a delightful time traveling in the car with three of my sisters. We’re about four hours into our trip, listening to this song, eating hard boiled eggs (me, at least) and seeing this view (ok, and the picture won’t send to my computer, so I guess you won’t get to see the view for now :). I’m getting a good amount of stuff done on writing and reading, which is just lovely. 😉 And now, here’s the next installment to When Life Hands You Lymes

from pintrest
I was beat by the time we got to the conference center/hotel where we were going to be holding our business meetings. It was only a couple hours from our house, but we were getting there a day early to set up for everything. 
The party going on inside soon drove the tiredness out of me. About fifteen of our staff was there, as well as our family. Katie had turned some music on and they were all rushing around, setting up the registration tables, putting together the supply packets and joking and laughing with each other. That’s one thing about our company, we have a lot of fun together. 

“What do you mean? How can the rooms not be ready?” Mom’s normally easy going voice had taken on an edge. I stopped behind her, instead of going to her side. I knew from experience now was not a good time to ask her what she wanted for supper. Food is the last thing on her mind when theres a snag in her plans. 
I stood there long enough to figure out that the hotel had mistakenly double-booked some of the rooms, and that’s when I quietly faded out of the room. I would just get her a chicken sandwich, that would be quick and easy for her to eat. 
That night I was exhausted by the time I headed up to the hotel room Katie and I were sharing. The day hadn’t ended up the way I’d dreamed of, but hey, it was good in it’s own way. My dad has taught us kids from before I could even remember to take bad situations and turn them into good ones. Sometimes that’s challenging, but challenging often means rewarding. 
“Don’t you think it’s kinda crazy that we have to start out on such a rotten foot?” Katie was really tired, otherwise she’d never say anything so negative. 
“It’s not really that bad.” I double-checked the locks on our hotel room door. Even though it was a high-end, and therefore safe, hotel, I always feel better knowing the door’s locked. 
“Not that bad? What about the switch-up with the rooms. Do you know how much hassle that’s causing us?” Katie fluffed up her pillow and then slammed her head down on it. “Mom’s still out there trying to figure it out. We’re supposed to get here and have everything all nice and orderly.”
“It’s only the rooms they’ve messed up.” Yawning, I snuggled underneath the fluffy white comforter. 
“That we know of at least.” Katie’s voice was a lot less stressed and a lot more sleepy this time. I could barely make out her last words as a yawn muffled them. I guess the saying about yawns being contagious is true. 

The next morning, both Katie and I awoke in a much improved state of mind. That turned out to be a good thing, because the day was great, but it didn’t go according to plan. That didn’t bother me nearly as much as it did dear Kate. 
Me? I’m a fly by the seat of my pants kind of girl. I can take changes and be fine with them. Katie, that’s something she has to work on. Naturally, she likes to have everything in it’s place, and everything planned out to a T. Sometimes I marvel that we’re such good friends. She said it’s the bond of being sisters. I know plenty of sisters who don’t get along with each other though. I’m not complaining of course, I love Katie to bits.

Writing Update :)

According to the polls I put up on my blog back at the end of 2013, it appears y’all would enjoy hearing more writing updates and thoughts of mine. Therefore, that’s what you’re going to get today. (Anyone feel like throwing a party and indulging in sugar-free jolly ranchers with me?)

What I’ve done so far this year:

*Co-authored a kids book with my adopted parents, which included amassing tons of information about the Ice Age which I’d previously been ignorant of. Just think giant sloths (2,000 pounds), armadillo-like creatures the size of cars (Glyptodon’s)  and deer with horns sticking out of their noses. So yes, it was a very educational and lovely time. Not to mention that it was like -10 degrees and we were working on a book about the Ice Age. How much more perfect can it get? (Note: my adopted parents did the research, I just helped with the writing. They know a lot of info, so it’s all good.)

*Wrote the first AK book. Which, AK stands for Action Kids. Sound interesting? I hope so, because that’s one of my big projects for the year and if you want updates… 🙂 It’s a “new” series I’m working on that I’ve actually been planning for about three and a half years now.

There are six main characters, all between the ages of 9-12. My goal is to provide uplifting, fun and entertaining ways for kids to learn success principles. Yea for becoming who God created you to be! Anywho, it’s exciting, and tiring, and amazing and all that other stuff. The book is only about 10,500 words long and it’s going to have cartoon-like illustrations in it. It’s going to be wonderful. I currently have the book off to some beta readers who will hopefully (nicely) tell me what issues and problems I need to correct before sending it off to my editor. My editor and I are in kind of a time crunch situation, which is why I worked such a crazy-amount of hours on the book in the last two weeks.

Also, I’m pretty sure that I’ve found the illustrator for the book, which is an answer to prayer and quite a bit of searching which left me going aggggg. Or something like that anyway.

*Entered a writing contest that only had 107 words, but somehow those 107 words took up a lot of time with all the many (many, many, many) re-writes. We should hear back from the contest this week. There were 204 entries, though, peoples!

*Working on the When Life Hands You Lymes book, which actually hasn’t gotten nearly enough plotting done because I was busy with the AK book. And I’m still learning who Madalyn is. I’ve known forever what her story is, but learning who the character is, that’s a whole new problem… Which is why I’m hoping to work a lot on her plot this week which will hopefully do away with the rambling and most likely start her story over again. Sorry peoples. At least you’re getting to know who she is along with me, which was kinda my idea in the first place. Really. Kinda. Maybe.

So that’s my year so far. Not too much, until you realize that it’s only fourteen days into 2014. I wrote one kids book and co-authored another during the first ten days of this year. It was a busy time for me. It still is a busy time for me. But I like busy. And I am trying to learn to be balanced and not do to much; I turn my computer and Internet off on Sundays now, that counts for something, right? Plus, I’m working on reading more, which seems like a good thing. Oh yes, and I taught my little bro how to play Settlers of Catan last night. And he beat me! But see, I take time out for games with my family. That’s a good thing. 😉

He was blue. I was red. He had the longest road, and largest army. Way to go, Moses! 

How do y’all stay balanced?
What have you been up to recently? 

My Week

Right now I’m sitting in my rather cluttered office, coffee (with flavored creamer! Oh joy!) next to me and the sound of rain coming through my open window. And, I just dripped coffee on my white shirt, so to ensure that won’t happen again, I did what every quick thinking Aidyl would do and put a sweatshirt on. It’s red. No one will notice the coffee.

random, colorful picture 

What I have on my list for today:

*Clean my office
*Get my AK (more about the AK book on a later date) book ready to send to some betas and send it
*Make lunch and supper
*Read/listen to audio for at least an hour
*Various other things

What I did this week:

*Had Christmas with my family and adopted family on Sunday
*Spent Sunday-Wednesday at my adopted parents, working on writing and formatting a book
*Wrote most of (and finished up) my AK book
*Went ice skating and hung out with some friends at our house
*Enjoyed getting to spend time with my family
*Went on a lot of walks for brainstorming sessions
*Cooked
*Planned menus for at work next week
*Throughly enjoyed working on memorizing Proverbs 1:5-7 and looking up verses on trust
*Sent out some packages I’d really been needing to send
*Wrote a 107 word snippet and spent way more time on it then I had planned
*And much, much more (like sleeping)

Currently I am enjoying…

Listening to this
The rain
Being totally blessed by long devotions
Emailing and chatting with one of the most amazing persons ever
Having a great time texting my younger friends who are really fun 😉

***

What have you been up to this week? Oh, and again, I’m (hopefully) going with no Internet and computer tomorrow. I scheduled do a post for then, just because I felt like doing another tag last night when my brain was fried from writing 6,000 words. 🙂

Family Fun

Sometimes it sorta weirds me out and amazes me that I have so. much. to. write every time I update this blog, but I do. Today I’ve had to really think and choose what to post about. Yesterday’s epic-ness won out though, so instead of getting a recap of 2013, or a working plan for 2014, you’re gonna see some of the fun-ness from Christmas day. Most of my cousins and aunts and uncles from my mom’s side are here for a few days, so imagine a big party when you’re reading this post.

(Note: Be watching for the year’s re-cap soon! I worked on it for about two hours yesterday and I only got to half-way through June on the first draft. Yes, this year was HUGE!) 





 Settlers of Catan? Humm… Let’s just say my brother got it with money from my grandma. It arrived in the mail on December 24th, and that night four of us siblings played for about two hours until I won right after midnight on Christmas day. I woke up raring to play again, but other things took precedence and we didn’t end up playing until that afternoon when my cousin, Zack, and sibs David and Helena and I played it. David won. A couple of hours later I was like “Who wants to play?” And then set up the game. Within a few minutes my uncle, my cousin, Aubrey, Helena and I were hard at it. That game ended after 11 pm with Helena as winner. I went outside for a few minutes to swing because that’s what I do at night. As I was coming back in, I started getting texts from Helena: 
We’re playing again
Come now
Come ASAP
We’re not waiting
Come
Come
And the texts went on, but I think you get the point. So I ran. And they had started the game, but just barely, so I slid into place and we started our third game of the day at 11:50 at night. Yep, that’s pretty much what our day was yesterday. This game ended with Helena winning (again!) after one in the morning. It was so much fun. I can’t wait to play again, today! 🙂 

and me wearing a shirt my bro, David got me which says “Country Chick” =)
During the first game of Settlers, I was extremely thrilled and surprised when our friend, Jo dropped in for a visit along with her husband and sister. She lives out of state, so we hardly ever get to see her. Her family lives only about 40 minutes from here though and she was visiting them. Since Joie and I worked together for about 8 years and she’s spent hundreds of days with our family, it has always felt like she’s more an extra sister than just friend. =) Glitter war ensued soon after she arrived, although I’m not sure she had anything to do with that other than bringing a gift wrapped in glittery paper. 😉 

Mousey is what she calls me… Why? Because she’s Aubrey and I’m me.
My wonderful cousin, Aubrey, made me (and Helena, Johanna and Mariah) each personalized picture-books for Christmas. She’s done this for two years now, where she gets pictures with all of us cousins and prints them out then writes great notes to go along with them. Really, I can’t think of a gift I would rather have from her. She’s beyond spectacular. 

It’s really funny because she and I are totally different. We’re both in the creative arts (“If you call writing a creative art” – direct quote from Aubrey), she’s an extremely talented cellist, and I’m a writer. Other than that though… 


Here’s a picture in the book that has me along with Aubrey and Sarah (along with some of my little cousins gathered around). And here’s what her caption says: 
Aww. Your two best friends. And only friends. Just kidding. You’re great. You have a lot of friends. And by friends I mean food. You’ll notice that theme throughout this book. Food. The one thing we have in common

And that pretty much describes our relationship. Not the food part, but I mean how we interact together. If you read her comments on this blog or the blog tour blogs, you’ll see ones like this one (which was on a character interview): “it’s like you’re doing an interview with yourself since the character is based off you. so basically you’re just talking to yourself on the internet. does that feel weird to you?” And then on one of my posts I had a true or false question which was something about “Did I get my inspiration for my book while inside a cave” and she commented “it’s obviously false– we all know i inspired your book. and your day to day life.” 

Totally, totally Aubrey. I adore that girl, folks. 


 And I just heard we have something going on now, so I’ll leave you with that little gem. What about you? How is your week going? Do you have any amazing cousins like Aubrey? Have a great day, y’all!