Clean Out That Closet!

A month in to my Home Organization Project I was at a point where a purge was in order. On Monday, my husband and I began to sift through our walk-in closet because it had become un-walkable. Getting rid of clothes is an activity that I should do more often. Ideally, at the beginning of each new season I would get rid of anything I didn’t wear by the end of the last, but there is something so final about the purge that keeps me from doing it regularly.

It isn’t even all that time consuming. It took about thirty minutes to go through every piece of my wardrobe and toss anything I wanted to donate into a large pile.

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From this large pile I filled four trash bags. Then, after everything was bagged up we loaded up our car and headed for the Goodwill Donation Center. Some of you are all about the garage sales, and kudos to you, but I can’t stand the stacks of things piling up somewhere in the house waiting for the sale date. So I donate. (Not to mention I feel a little better about the whole act of purging when I know that my clothes all have a chance at another home.)

Although I get a little apprehensive about giving things away, I felt a lot of freedom after the act was done. I went through my closet and did not allow myself to second guess any decisions. Also, another helpful thing I did was get rid of the clothes immediately. Had I let the mood subside and left the clothes in a donation box in my house somewhere I may have talked myself out of a few of the tosses.

Now, I have a fresh closet with space to walk and an ability to see each item of clothing clearly without having to deal with the wrinkling effects of things all stuffed together.

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The Ameri Brit Mom

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Inaugural Zoo Trip 2016

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We woke up this morning with the anticipation of our first zoo trip in 2016. Arianna was up and at ’em early. We awoke to the sounds of her bounding around the house excitedly. Before long my husband and I were up (although I wouldn’t consider our reluctance to get up early as quite the level of excitement our daughter possessed.) We all showered, dressed, and packed lunches in the shortest amount of time possible. Then, we were off!

The Columbus Zoo is a big deal. It is the #1 zoo in the country and once you visit the place you understand why that is. Most schools in our area are on Spring Break this week and the weather was particularly sunny so we literally waited in line for an hour to get into the zoo. (I guess the rest of Central Ohio had the same ideas as us today.) I was so proud of Arianna because as we stood in line for an unforseen amount of time she waited patiently and made her own mental lists about what we were going to do once inside the zoo.

Before we entered through the gates we purchased our first Zoo Membership!

This is something I’ve been wanting for a few years, but because we are fairly cheap people it never happened. My grandmother knows I’ve been wanting a pass so over the Easter weekend I received my birthday gift a few months early and got a Zoo Membership card. There are so many things included with a membership. It works out that if you plan to visit the zoo more than twice in a calendar year that it pays for itself. Included with the pass is discounted entry to the attached water park, free parking, and an invitation to exclusive members only events.

Although it was crowded today we did not allow that to put a damper on our fun. Everyone was in good spirits and we truly enjoyed the entire experience.

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#Spring Break Goals

Spring Break: Two of the sweetest sounding words for any student or teacher. The terms when used together have the meaning-pretending that it is summer vacation. As a teacher this is my last hiatus before the impending summer. Spring Break is a much anticipated milestone in the educational calendar. This year the break has fallen just before the insanity of the standardized tests my students will be subjected to. Stakes are high and the to-do list at school is endless, but I vow not to think a thought about all of that this week. My mind and body are in serious need of a school detox so I plan to take full advantage of this week to accomplish just that.

This is also our first spring break as a family. Prior to this year my husband always worked at a different school district, but this year he has been a teacher in the same district as I am. We have loved the synchronized school calendar and the additional time we get as a family as a result.

I have created a list of some fun, stress-relieving activities I plan to carry out over this blessed break. Here is my top 5 Summer Break Goals:

1. Spruce Up the House

It’s been a while since my entire house received a good cleaning. Although I plan to not waste my whole break scrubbing floors and washing windows, I do think that a good half-day is in order to bring my house back to life. Also, I am working my way through the 40 Week Whole House Organized Challenge by Organize365. This week the focus is on the laundry room so I will get to work on that process as well. Additionally, if it gets warm enough I plan to mulch my front yard and till my garden in preparation of new plants.

2. Host A Party

Our church meets weekly in the homes of various families in the Columbus area. Our life group (cLife) is getting ready to multiply and split into two groups at the end of this term. It’s been a great run and we have grown to love each member of our group. Some of us have been together for two years. As a last hoorah we are hosting a party tomorrow night at our house (which to be honest is my motivation to get the house cleaned.)

3. Visit the Zoo

I’m so excited to have received an early birthday gift, a Columbus Zoo Membership. We live thirty minutes from the #1 zoo in America. Every year we visit the zoo a couple of times and now that we have a family membership I’m sure we will visit more frequently. As a family we really enjoy our zoo adventures. The animals are beautiful, the activities are fun, and the trails are fantastic.

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4. Go On A Hike

Lately, I’ve been all about the great outdoors. I think it’s a product of being cooped up for far too long over the winter. I am hoping the weather will cooperate and as a family we will have an opportunity to go to a beginner trail in our area.

5. Finish Editing My Novel

The last thing I hope to mark off my to-do list this break is finishing the edits on my novel. I’ve been working on a query letter for potential publishers and I’m hoping to be able to start sending it out at the end of the break. It’s helpful to send pieces of a manuscript along with query letters so I am working to get my novel to the point I feel comfortable enough to send out. I still have a couple of chapters to rework and a few subplots to tie off.

-LY Adverbs: The Irresistible Novel

Saturday mornings are the linchpin of my weekly schedule. All week I anticipate the extra sleep, warm coffee in a mug (not a to-go cup), and my chance to work on some current writing projects. On Saturdays, I plan to complete writing activities for two hours. I wake up slowly, eat a healthy breakfast, brew a cup’o’joe and then head up to my writing space in our upstairs office. I am only ever guaranteed those two hours of writing each week so I count on that time being productive. It is a wonderful creative time for me and sets the tone for the weekend ahead.

This morning I am beginning my Saturday morning routine with a quick read through the next chapter in The Irresistible Novel by Jeff Gerke.

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-LY Adverbs

According to Gerke, “-ly adverbs are the redheaded stepchildren of the fiction craftsmanship world.”(page 31)

Those who dislike the use of the -ly adverb do so with a passion. They are the writers who go overboard replacing any and all of the uses from a manuscript. These are the rule-abiding authors who feel that every -ly adverb can be replaced by a stronger verb. (example from the book: “walked stiffly” can be changed to “lurched”)

Those in favor of allowing authors to include -ly adverbs in their writing argue that those words make up a substantial portion of the English language. In some cases it is true that overuse of the -ly adverb can water-down fiction writing, but there are times where no suitable replacement can be found. Authors have to be careful that while trying to avoid overusing the -ly adverb that they are also not taking their writing to a strange place. There are times when using words like quickly, gravely, curiously...etc. really are the best expressions of an action.

Approach Cautiously 

As a writer when you find yourself at a crossroads where you are  forced to choose between using an -ly adverb over another verb always weigh your options with caution. Write out some other ways to describe the action in your sentence and choose whichever wording seems most natural to you. Always follow your natural instincts. If writing without -ly adverbs is second nature to you then go for it, but if in doing so it hurts the quality or focus in your writing then don’t get hung up on the do’s and dont’s. You can’t follow every rule to a T, and no one will blame you for not doing so.

My Current Project…

As you can probably tell from the angle I took in this post I am not against the use of -ly adverbs in a sense of moderation. If you scan up and down the pages of this blog you will get a sense of my natural style and I do oftentimes lean on those adverbs. My writing is a natural style. -Ly adverbs are naturally ingrained in dialogue so it comes out every now and again in my writing. I agree with Gerke that oftentimes there is a stronger verb replacement for each -ly adverb. As I work to edit my book I am contentiously making myself aware of my use of the taboo adverbs and working to not overuse while also not avoiding.

On a side note, I’ve sent the first ninety-three pages of my book to someone other than my husband to help with editing. Although it’s someone I love and trust I’m still a bit antsy about the whole thing. I look forward to the critique and advice, but I am nervous about their thoughts. As always, I’ll keep you updated!

The Ameri Brit Mom

Five Minute Friday: Alive

This week the topic for the Five Minute Friday link-up post is Alive. What is a link-up? Essentially a link-up is when you join other bloggers and write on a similar topic. You share your blog posts with one another and begin conversations via a host site. You can head over to Kate Motaung’s page to check out other entries from inspired bloggers. Here’s my five minutes of uninterrupted, unedited writing on this week’s topic:

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When I Feel Alive

Lauren Sisley

Spring is upon us. Morning showers have become the compliment to each day’s commute. Dew rests temporarily on petals and on earth. The luminescence of the sun paints the horizon in golds, reds, and yellows. This is when I feel alive.

He takes my hand in his lacing finger between finger. In love he strengthens me. His confidence gives wings to my dreams. He holds me in my weakness and showers me with kindness. This is when I feel alive.

In the light of day a small bundle jumps into my lap. Her small arms wrap around me and her gentle words recount her love for her mother. The girl with her soft curls beckons me with her desire to be talked to, to be read to, and to be played with. This is when I feel alive.

A bell tolls in the distance. Thirty pairs of ears obey my instruction. They belong to pupils awaiting knowledge with hearts panting to matter and to feel loved. They hear my words and follow my my commands, but what they are most attentive to are my actions. My character is perceived and learned by those entrusted to my care. This is when I feel alive.

A new page is turned an a pen is uncapped. Emotion pours forth from my heart to words upon the paper. Writing gives life to each sentence. The Lord writes my story through words; he builds and deconstructs syllables. To tell of His story I toil in peace. This is when I feel alive.

A Savior on a hill. Cursed, bruised, and despised he looks his last at those he came to save. His purpose in death was fulfilled. But his promise in life was still to come. Jesus died to give us life so fill your life with things that make you feel alive. Each life-giving moment is a testament to a Savior who gave his so that we might live ours. This is when I feel alive.

Toms Shoes

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You can’t beat a good pair of TOMS. I personally own two pairs of TOMS. I love my original style pair, but I also enjoy the versatility of my lace TOMS as well. My oldest pair is beginning to show its wear and is need of replacing. I’m in quite the predicament as I love the colors and styles of so many TOMS shoes. Plus, the company itself is in the business of giving back. I’m appealing to my readership for a little help.
As we head into Easter weekend I’m torn between multiple pairs of Toms. I’m planning to wear a navy and white striped maxi dress on Sunday and I’d like to accompany my ensemble with a new pair of TOMS.  On the left side of the photo above I’ve pictured some of my favorites of the original TOMS style. The right side of the photo is a look at some special TOMS styles. Which do you prefer?