Homework: The Soundtrack of My Life

Chrono Trigger of Life by davidgoh

This year we are trying something new in the Ivins’ household. As soon as the boys get home from school they have a snack then jump right into homework. No one is allowed to play video games until everyone finishes.

There are two reasons for this approach. The first is because the kids’ AD/D-AD/HD meds run out by about 4:30pm. In the past if we let them wind down from school first, we basically had to staple them to their chairs to get them to do anything.

The second reason is one of the big reasons I never finished my homework as a kid. If you are stuck doing boring worksheets while your siblings are off in the next room having fun, there is a lot less motivation to finish whatever you’re doing well, or at all. Instead I would rush through everything so I could join them. My kids were having the same problem.

We instituted a new rule where the only things you can do after you finish your work are reading, writing, or drawing. Then when everyone is done, everyone gets to go play as a group. This strategy was working well, until they figured out I was surfing the internet while they were working. Needless to say they were a bit put out.

So, now I have a block of time every weekday were I have to (by my own rule) be either reading, writing, or drawing. Which would be great if I didn’t get interrupted every two minutes to answer a homework question. I know reading is right out, as I need quiet to read. I could draw, and I might some days, but that’s not overly productive. Also I like drawing to de-stress which is not a thing that homework time is conducive to. Sneaking so extra writing time in sounded amazing! But, yeah that didn’t work. I need to be immersed in that as well.

Instead I decided a half hour to an hour block of time would be perfect for a different kind of writing: I could do blog posts!

And now, here I am. Writing my first post in months, to the accompaniment of the Chrono Trigger soundtrack, because the kids like music when they work and it can’t have words.* I will admit unless you have kids, today’s post might not be that entertaining, but hopefully tomorrow’s will.

Happy Writing! 🙂

*Side Note: Any good video game soundtracks you can recommend? I have a few random songs plus Chrono Trigger, Final Fantasy IV & VI, and Knights in the Nightmare: Symphony of Souls. While they are good, I’m sure we will be tired of listening to the same ones over and over, by about mid-December. Any suggestions for new ones would be appreciated!

Title image by davidgoh.

My Boys and Bayonetta

Today through the magic of their highly restricted internet, my three boys managed learned that there were new Amiibos coming out soon (thank you very much Nintendo in-console advertising). Amiibos, for those who don’t know, are little figures that can interact with Wii U games, in this case, the latest Super Smash Brothers. All the characters are from Nintendo franchises and so far my kids have procured quite a collection. Aside from their small plastic faces staring up at me from various places they aren’t supposed to be in the house, I haven’t had a problem with them, until today.

The newest DLC and accompanying Amiibos are Corrin from Fire Emblem Fates, a game Kid #2 is in love with, and…Bayonetta from Bayonetta and Bayonetta 2. Again, for those of you unfamiliar, Bayonetta is a gun toting witch whose outfit is made of her own hair. She is, how shall I say? Provocative. Her games are rated M for mature, for some rather obvious reasons.

Bayonetta (covers)

The gaming community is still split on her character and whether she embodies a kickass woman freely embracing her sexuality or simply eye candy for the straight white male set. I don’t know enough about the games to have an opinion either way, though from my image search and few articles I’ve read I’m leaning towards the latter. But I’m not here to discuss who she is or is not. I’m here to discuss having to talk about men treating women as sex objects to kids young enough to not know what sex is yet.

This is not something that should need to happen. I shouldn’t have to explain to my boys that some grown-up men treat women badly and only like them because they are beautiful and not because they are nice people or smart or can do cool things. I shouldn’t have to tell them that some men are mean to women and think they aren’t as good as other men are. I certainly shouldn’t have to tell them that some men hurt women because they think they are lesser, or worse, just objects. Luckily that last bit didn’t come up, yet. But it will someday.

Today the conversation consisted of me explaining that some men were rude to women who dressed like Bayonetta and that I didn’t want them to be a part of that, even if the Smash Brothers version was toned down. After their why questions that I answered as best as I could, they insisted that they would never treat someone like that. Their sincerity made me smile, but the fact that I had to have this discussion at all made my stomach sick.

Someday I’m going to have to talk to my kids about sexism and catcalling and rape and violence against women. That makes me angry. It makes me angry that other moms and dads will have to do the same thing. And Heaven help the parents of girls!

This is not a society I want my children to exist in. This is not the reality I want them to grow up in. But all I can do about it is talk to them and help them grow up to be good people. I hope that is enough.

Wet With A Chance of Caterpillars

Spiderweb at Daybreak by Erina68

I never should have mentioned how nice the weather has been for my walks. I should know better by now.

Today the relative humidity was probably around 98%. And that’s being generous. Just getting the kids ready for school this morning made me breakout in a sweat. If there hadn’t been a breeze, I would have been drench by the time I got home from my walk. On the plus side my legs didn’t hurt when I finished, so I think my body is starting to get the hang of this. Yay!

In more exciting news (to me anyway) I caught a huge caterpillar on Friday afternoon! And when I say huge, I mean I saw it crawling across my driveway when I went to get a drink from the kitchen! It turned out to be an imperial moth caterpillar. I kept it in a box on my desk till my kids got home, and then we released it on the lawn.


This type of caterpillar doesn’t make a cocoon; instead it burrows into the ground and changes there in the spring. Almost as soon as we released him, he found a nice spot in the grass and dug a little hole to hide in. My kids decided to name him Pointy Leaf William, which I think is the greatest caterpillar name ever.

While we were watching him disappear into the grass, my youngest caught a butterfly. It was a very exciting afternoon! At least if you like bugs.


It’s amazing what you can see if you take the time to look around. There could be a whole world of wonders right outside your front door. 🙂

In the words of the immortal Dr. Seuss:

From there to here,
From here to there,
Funny things are everywhere.

See you tomorrow!

Title image by Erina68.

Lucky Mom

lucky in love by MarianneLoMonaco

I don’t like to brag, but I am the luckiest mom in the world. I have three beautiful, extremely smart boys who are full of imagination and love. They make me crazy and they are really messy, but I wouldn’t trade them for anything. Oh and as of yesterday all three of them are officially autistic.

They are all very high functioning autistic, and each of them has slightly different reasons they were classified. The youngest (who was the last to be classified, and falls somewhere in-between the other two) also as ADD and ADHD, something I’m sure none of my family is surprised by.

Does having three autistic boys in the house make life harder? I have no idea. To me, they are just them. They’ve always been who they are. Finding the correct words to describe how they behave and react to things just makes my life a little easier and will hopefully make their lives easier in the future. Now I can tell the school what they need help with and have the help given without arguments. Now I can connect with other parents with children similar to mine and share experiences and help each other. And now I can learn different ways to help my kids succeed that I may not have thought about before.

Would having non-autistic boys be easier? Maybe, but I wouldn’t trade my kids for the world. 🙂

Title image by MarianneLoMonaco.


Orange Jellyfish by favillephoto

Life is full of adventures. When I was little we would drive from New Jersey to Vermont to visit my mom’s family (or when we lived in Vermont, down to New Jersey to visit my dad’s family). Being in the dark ages, before GPS, we got lost a lot trying to avoid traffic through New York and Connecticut. And we loved it.

Being lost was part of the fun of traveling. We saw things we would never have seen otherwise and got to spend time as a family just goofing around in a place where nothing else could distract us. It’s harder to get lost on purpose now, but it is just as easy to have adventures.

We took the kids to the aquarium today. It was a blast! We saw giant fish and tiny fish. We got to pet sharks and stingrays. Kid #3 got to see at least ten different kinds of turtles (his favorite animal at that moment). And all three of them got their picture taken with a live 14-foot-long alligator.

The alligator’s name was Big Mike. Big Mike was behind glass standing statue still in the water, just chillin’. The kids all sat down in front of him so we could get a picture. Of course, as soon as they did, Big Mike moved.

Kid #1 wisely decided he didn’t want to sit next to Big Mike anymore and that we should go see the fish again instead. His brothers heartily agreed.

I don’t normally post pics of my boys online, but this picture is too good not to share.

Big Mike and the Boys

Kid #1 is the one on the left. 😄

Aside from adventures of the undersea kind, I’m starting out on my own adventure. An adventure into short story writing. I’m currently 900 words into a story that is set in the world of my Fading Marks series, but not involving any of the characters in the series. It was harder than I thought it would be to switch to another story after working on my novels for so long. It took me two weeks just to come up with an idea. But now that the idea is there, it’s shaping up to be a really interesting and unexpected addition to my story’s universe.

I’ve also been working my way through my portion of the Entry Plus critiques for the Fantasy Faction Anthology contest. That has been an adventure in and of itself. At first I was a little nervous giving out critiques for writers I’d never met, but the responses I’ve gotten have been great. It’s so rewarding to be able to help people with their writing, and critiquing other people’s work is helping me have a more critical eye for my own work. It’s an adventure that’s win-win in the best possible way.

Speaking of which, I should get back to work. 😉

Happy Writing!

“Today was good. Today was fun. Tomorrow is another one. From there to here, from here to there, funny things are everywhere.” – Dr. Seuss. One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish.

Title image by favillephoto.

Back from Vicodin Land

Doctor Doctor by Dongedyframe
Hello again everyone! I’ve been gone from the blog for a bit now haven’t I? It’s been a busy year for me, but most recently it’s been a very boring/trippy month. I had hernia surgery three weeks ago Monday. Since then, I haven’t been able to lift anything over 5lbs. (a gallon of milk is 8lbs.), walk or stand for any length of time, or laugh too hard without hurting. Until the end of last week I wasn’t even able to sit at the computer. Good bits about having surgery: you don’t have to do any cleaning or shopping, and you have an excuse to sit and watch TV all day. Also the pain meds I was on the first week apparently made me a lot more fun to be around.

This was the first time I’ve ever been put under for surgery. It was so weird. The nurse (who was very nice, but a liar) put a mask on me and said, “Okay, this is just oxygen. Take deep breaths to relax yourself.” I knew that wasn’t true. I’ve seen medical shows on TV before. And sure enough, as she’s talking to me the lights above my head started getting closer, like I was floating towards the ceiling. Then I fell asleep and the next thing I knew I woke up in the recovery room! It’s such an odd feeling to fall asleep against your will. It wasn’t scary or anything, just surprising. I somehow didn’t believe I would simply fall asleep than be awake somewhere else as if no time had passed. But that really is what it felt like. But I digress.

The point of this post is I’m now able to sit at the computer again. Which means I’m back to work on Fantasy-Faction, two weeks later than I thought I would be. I saw the doctor today and he said only two more weeks of reduced activity and I’ll be at 100%! Which means I still can’t lift anything and my house is going to stay destroyed for a bit, but he was very happy with how everything was turning out.

In the not so good news department, on top of me being laid out for three weeks from the surgery, my husband and I have had the cold from hell for two weeks. Which wouldn’t be too bad if the kids hadn’t all gotten a stomach bug over the weekend. It’s like my house is cursed with a plague. I’m not sure who I upset enough to get a pox put on my house, but I promise I won’t ever do it again.

So here I am now, two weeks behind schedule, tending sick kids, and so bored from staying put for three weeks that filing papers sounds fun. I have never been so ready to get back to work before in my life. 🙂 I promise if I owe you an email or response to something I should have it to you by Friday. Hope you all are doing well. I also hope I’ll be caught up with everything soonish, because I am really missing my writing right now. All this sitting around has given me way too much time to plot and worldbuild in my head. Time to write it all down!

A big thanks to all the Fantasy-Faction staff that covered things while I was out and to all the well wishes I’ve recieved from all my online friends and family. You guys are the best!

Happy Writing! 🙂

Title image by Dongedyframe.

Koi Fish and Pinterest

Koi Fish by aroundtheisland

This weekend I got a lot done. Okay, I didn’t get a lot done, but I got a good amount of things done. Many of which are my favorite kind: the kind you only have to do once. But that’s not why I am here today. Today I want to tell you about koi fish and Pinterest.

It all begins with the best part of last weekend, which was when I got to go out to lunch with my husband and no children! This is related to the koi pond, but first let me just take a moment and remember what it was like to go out and eat dinner in peace and quiet.


Okay, I’m done. Moving on.

Where did we go? Well, some of you may know this, but in my pre-mom life, I worked in the restaurant industry. I was trained as a chef apprentice at my local community college. I was actually in the first year class, of their now, amazingly successful program. One of the classes they teach is the restaurant class, which is exactly what it sounds like. The students come up with a restaurant theme and menu and then open it to the public once a week during class. They all take turns at each station, including waiting tables, and learn what it’s really like to work in an actual restaurant. They’re only open for an hour and a half and you have to buy tickets in advance, but for $14-$18 per person you get a four to five course gourmet dinner, and you get to watch them cook it because the classroom walls are made of glass. I had a great time pointing everything out to my husband (he’d never been there before) and reminiscing about how it was ‘back in the old days’ (read ten-ish years ago).

As we were leaving, I called my sister who was watching the kids and asked if she needed us to come back right away. It was beautiful out and we were trying to get as much time away as we could. She said that we could stay out, because my mom and dad, my aunt, and her friend were going to take everyone to the park so no rush. Yes! More free time!

Of course, since we are boring and couldn’t go too far away, we ended up stopping at the local hobbie shop and buying a new set of dice. (Party all the time, that’s me.) We decided after that, we would head back to the house and enjoy the half hour or so of complete quiet before everyone returned from the park. About fifteen minutes after we arrived home, I got a phone call. It was my mom, she was laughing, and she said, and I quote, “We may have had a couple incidents.”

Now we can go back to the koi pond, pictures of which, you may have seen in my Flickr feed. It’s in the middle of a flower park with trails and a gazebo. Lots of people have their weddings there, or at least get their weddings pictures taken there. The pond itself is pretty big and deep in the middle and it has a curved bridge at one end. The pond has turtles, ducks, koi fish, and a garter snake that we’ve seen a couple times. Every time we go, we bring crackers to feed the fish, some of which are huge!

This was the first time I didn’t go with the kids. But there were five adults and only four kids (including my nephew) what could possibly go wrong?

I’m sure you can see where this is going. My youngest was the first one in the water. He slipped into the pond while standing between my dad and my aunt and got wet all the way up to his shoulders. Then kid two slipped in, though he was only wet up to his butt. The last child, my oldest, saw his twin getting pulled out of the water, looked at my aunt, smiled, and jumped into the pond.

So ten minutes after she called, three soaked to the skin toddlers in squishy sneakers, dripped through my kitchen and into the bathroom. Luckily, it was warm out and the pond was shallow at the edges. They are also lucky that I have a good sense of humor, but then I think that might be a prerequisite if you have kids.

That was Saturday, day. The rest of Saturday, I spent cleaning and posting things to Pinterest. Now I have a lot of things to do during the day, I really didn’t need another one. But my cousin Amber (@wanderingknits) was ‘nice’ enough to show me something else to distract me from my work. Pinterest is sort of a like a bookmark site, which sounds kind of boring, but really it’s amazingly addicting, because it’s all visual. And to prove how addicting it is, I spent over four hours adding stuff to the boards I created. You can check out all the neat things I found here. What kind of things you ask? Well things like this:

And this:

And of course this:

I also set up a board with all the reviews Fantasy-Faction has done since we started. It’s really cool to be able to see all the book covers lined up like that. It’s kind of like my own virtual review library. 🙂

Anyway, I think I’ve rambled on long enough, so I believe I will wrap this up now. And possibly go play on Pinterest some more.

Happy Writing! 🙂

Title image by aroundtheisland.