Little Home, Big World

…what would Ma do?

New Adventures of Old Bethany July 4, 2011

Filed under: Blahging,Opinionated — bethanyjoy @ 10:15 am
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When life gets a little nuts, that makes it the perfect time to jump into a new project. Right? What, that’s just me? 😉

I’ve had the idea simmering in my mind for a year or so to start a book review blog, and finally decided to get on with it. It will not be replacing this blog (aka my random-thoughts-on-life public journal) but is an entirely different project.

The new blog – Dark Side of the Covers – will be focusing on reviewing Steampunk, Urban Fantasy, and Paranormal Romance. (I’ll admit it – I grew up reading fantasy and other imaginative genres, and I’ve never grown up. Long live imagination!) I’ll be keeping the blogs separate, so if you’re into that sort of fiction and want to discuss the books with me, I hope you’ll subscribe or follow over there, or even share the link with a fellow bookworm.

And for those of you who aren’t into that sort of thing (*waves* Hi, Mom! *grins*), you can still hang out with me here at LHBW for more of my ramblings.

Here’s to new adventures, and a summer filled with them! 🙂


Taking My Own Advice June 20, 2011

Filed under: Blahging,Thoughts — bethanyjoy @ 8:40 am
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Irony is posting about rolling with life’s challenges, and then having a couple big ones wallop you good a few days later.

I find myself taking my own advice, or rather, trying to  – there’s a fine line at times between acceptance and denial. One will help you move on; the other just prolongs the battle. If you’re anything like me, you spend a few days bouncing from one to the other.

I’m also spending a lot of time breathing deep. Looking outside at the trees and the lake, and when I can’t sleep, the moon and stars. Did I mention breathing? Lots and lots of that. In with Mr. Good Air, out with Mr. Bad Air…

And looking at the good stuff. There’s always good stuff. Even when jobs are in the air and housing in flux, there is good stuff. Healthy kids. A somewhat chaotic and wacky family, but one that loves intensely. Sunshine. Summer breezes. The joy of a good book. The feeling of sand beneath your bare feet. A favourite song on the radio, right when you need to hear it. Imagination. Creativity. Pink hair. Yummy-smelling bodywash. Beautiful yarn. Chocolate-peanut-butter-cup-ice-cream.

If you open your mind and think about it, there’s always more good stuff. Hold onto it with both hands. The sun sets on good days and bad days, but we’ll only see the beauty of it if we take the time to look.


Roll With It June 13, 2011

Filed under: Thoughts — bethanyjoy @ 9:12 am
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I was nine – or close to it – when I went to a riding day camp. I saved pennies, folded laundry, and washed dishes (for something dramatically lower than minimum wage) to earn the money to go. I was so excited. Visions of trotting and jumping cantered gracefully through my imagination. Imagine my surprise when the first thing they taught us was how to fall.

“Roll with it,” was the advice we were given.

I was nineteen when I married the man I love. I had visions of happily-ever-after, candlelight dinners and romantic walks on the beach flitting through my mind. Imagine my surprise when I discovered he did the laundry “wrong.”

“Just roll with it,” said an older, wiser friend. “There’s more than one way to do, well, everything.”

I was twenty-one when my son was born. I had visions of an adorable nursery and buggy-pushing walks rolling through my mind. Imagine my surprise when he’d only sleep in my arms and wanted to eat all the time.

“Roll with it,” advised a kind midwife, “He knows what he needs.”

I was twenty-five when the ultrasound tech looked up from the screen and said, “It’s twins.” Visions of crying nights, sleepless days, and never being “enough” cast clouds of anxiety over my mind. Imagine my surprise. (There was a lot of surprise.)

“Roll into bed whenever you can,” said an experienced mother of twins, “Make peace with the fact that you’ll have to do some things differently.”

Just roll with it. Turns out to be the best advice I ever received, so I pass it on: the next time life clobbers you, don’t beat your head against it. Just roll. And when the world stops spinning, take a look back and see what you’ve learned.


if you’ll only look June 5, 2011

Filed under: Blahging,Writing — bethanyjoy @ 9:25 am
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I’d pick beach stones over diamonds any day. Diamonds are obvious and flashy, beautiful in a cold and untouchable way, but the stones nestled in the sand? They feel incredible in your hand, smooth and touchable. Diamonds may be unbreakable, but beach stones? They’re adaptable. Caught between powerful waves and abrasive sand, they grow smoother and more consistent. Diamonds catch the light and make it fly, but when you reach through the lapping water and pick up a stone, it literally glows in your hand. Then the breeze starts to dry the stone, and you watch the colours fade until there is only pale texture against your skin. Diamonds demand the admiration of everyone, but the beauty of a stone nestled in the sand and half-hidden by the water can only be enjoyed by those who are willing to search. True beauty is like that, I think. Born in humility, polished by difficult circumstances, and all around us – if you’ll only look.


30 Before 30: Redux June 3, 2011

Filed under: 30 before 30,Blahging — bethanyjoy @ 9:00 am
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I had great plans last summer to complete my 30 before 30 list. Then life happened. Which is fine…my motivation behind the original list was a desire to live with intent, rather than letting life sweep me along. Intentional living involves planning…but it also involves seizing the opportunities as they come, rather than being so fixated on any given goal that you miss the chances that grow out of a busy life. Here’s where the 30 before 30 list ended up:

Bethany’s (revised and altered) 30 before 30

(for the original list, click here)

  1. Go to an amusement park without the kids and ride all the big roller-coasters August 8, 2010
  2. Assemble a family tree picture wall. It didn’t happen quite as I envisioned it…but I did sort, print, and frame a bunch of family photos…and even got them up on the wall. September 2010
  3. Start jogging with my 6-year-old. He wins.
  4. Sew a slipcover for the couch.  July 2010
  5. Knit Bry a sweater. October 2010
  6. Design and publish at least two new knitting/crocheting patterns.  They aren’t online yet, but I’ve written a few for the students in my knitting class. January 2011
  7. Find super comfy jeans that fit. May 2011 (This is always worth celebrating. 😉 )
  8. Stop biting my fingernails  April 2011
  9. Write another NANOWRIMO novel.  Completed November 29, 2010! 54, 755 words. Woot-woot!
  10. Write my 3rd novel. In progress…
  11. Spend weekend stripping wallpaper, painting, and visiting with my Nana. Nov. 2010
  12. Get a book I own signed by the author  “The Gathering” signed by Kelley Armstrong, May 2011
  13. Learn how to make really.really.really.yummy custard. Mmmm. April 2011
  14. Find a new band/musical artist that I *love*. Mumford & Sons! February 2011
  15. Start writing poetry again. Ongoing!
  16. Make my own pasta. Not quite…but I’ve developed kickass bread-baking skills instead. Yum!
  17. Learn to make beaded stitch markers. Knitting bling. It’s all that. 😉
  18. Share written work with others for critique and input. Winter/Spring 2011 – This is probably the goal I’m most proud of, it required a massive amount of willpower/courage for me, but has proved incredibly helpful and encouraging.
  19. Go away with hubby for longer than 24 hours! We owe the Ultimate Uncle and Awesomest Aunt big-time. 🙂
  20. Discover new (to me) authors I enjoy: Jeanine Frost, Seanan McGuire, Lois Macmaster Bujold, Rob Thurman, Jennifer Estep, Scott Westerfield.
  21. Use the camera on my iPhone. So it’s not DSLR…but since it’s always within reach, at least I’m using it to document life on a regular basis. 🙂
  22. Grow hair out. Although, I’m not giving up on the purple yet…
  23. Find & attend a writing circle. Winter 2011
  24. Learn how to remember people’s names when I meet them. Still needs improvement, but I’m getting better. The key is to use the name at least 3 times in the initial meeting, if possible.
  25. Go downhill skiing. No…but I went zip-lining instead. Wheeeeeee!
  26. Learn to knit with beads. Lace with beads, even. Mad skillz, those… 😉
  27. Get a part-time job. This one was an unplanned goal, and has had a major impact on the changes to this list. It’s been good, though – a few hours out of the house each week is good for one’s sanity.
  28. Complete ACE English (final grade: 95%)
  29. Start teaching knitting classes. Another unexpected event! One of my favorite things now…
  30. Take bellydancing lessons. I still want to do this! Unfortunately I’ve somehow ended up taking math instead. Don’t ask me how THAT happened. *sigh*

And since this post is all about lists, here’s another:

Lessons Learned in the Last Year:

  1. Perfection is a foolish goal. Strive for excellence instead.
  2. You’re less likely to say something in anger that you’ll regret later if you sit down, lower your voice, and look the other person in the eyes during an argument.
  3. Colorful scarves and nail polish make any day better.
  4. Deep breathing is almost as good as chocolate when you’re feeling stressed. (Chocolate + breathing = even better.)
  5. Peace comes from knowing who you are, what you need, and where you want to go.

Opening Lines June 2, 2011

Filed under: Writing — bethanyjoy @ 9:50 am
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Opening lines are to fiction what chocolate chips are to cookies – you’ve gotta have ’em. There’s a lot of good ones out there, but the truly great opening lines have three things in common:

  1. They plant the reader’s feet on the story’s ground by providing an initial sense of place, time, and character.
  2. They tease the imagination by providing just enough hints or clues to the plot of the story to make the reader ask questions.
  3. They establish the tone of the story – humorous, dark, sarcastic, narrative, etc.

For example:

“It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.” – Jane Austen, Pride & Prejudice

“‘Live life balls out,’ Katie Kramer told herself every night, and even though she didn’t own a pair, she hoped the mantra would keep the nightmares away. It never did.” – Jill Shalvis, Instant Attraction

“I have to. I’ve been fighting it all night long. I’m going to lose. My battle is as futile as a woman feeling the first pangs of labour and deciding it’s an inconvenient time to give birth. Nature wins out. It always does.” – Kelley Armstrong, Bitten

“I stiffened at the red and blue lights flashing behind me, because there was no way I could explain what I had in the back of my truck.” – Jeanine Frost, Halfway to the Grave

“Marley was dead: to begin with. There is no doubt whatever about that.” – Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol

“Once there was a tree…and she loved a little boy.” Shel Silverstein, The Giving Tree

Regardless of length or genre, the opening line of a story is a powerful tool, both for writers trying to captivate readers, and for readers trying to choose their next story. Skip the blurb on the back, and check out the opening line instead – it should make you want another cookie.


Do you have a favourite opening line from a book, story or movie? I’d love to hear it…



Rant: Mature Content May 26, 2011

Filed under: Opinionated — bethanyjoy @ 12:15 pm

“Warning: this show contains mature content and may not be suitable for all viewers. Viewer discretion is advised.”

This disclaimer baffles and amuses me every time I hear it. I understand – and appreciate – the warning that I’m likely to be bombarded with blood, guts, profanity and/or sex in the next few minutes. What amuses me, though, is the assumption that these things are mature.

I mean, that twenty-something kid you know with the foul mouth and off-colour humour?

Odds are good the adjective you use to describe them isn’t “mature.”

Maturity has nothing to do whether or not you can stomach the blood and guts in A Game of Thrones, and everything to do with whether you can stomach being the one who gets down on your hands and knees to scrub the floor behind the throne, if you know what I mean. It means biting your tongue instead of cussing the air blue when your five-year-old hammers your thumb instead of the nail, and it should also mean you’re discerning enough to watch the damn show when the kids are sleep, because the second part of the warning, about viewer discretion? That, I completely agree with.


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