Posted in holiday guest blog

So Many Hats, So Little Time: A Guest Blog from LynDee Walker


Thank you, LynDee, for this lovely look into your world.

LynDee Walker
LynDee Walker

Note: I wrote this post before the news of the events in Newtown broke on Friday. As a former journalist and current mother of small children, I have been both glued to the news and horrified by each new revelation. I have squeezed all my monkeys tighter this weekend, but especially my oldest, who got off the bus from her elementary school Friday afternoon surprised to find herself swept off her feet by a mommy who was bawling her eyes out. My thoughts are with the parents in Connecticut who can no longer hug their children.

Mom. Wife. Author. Event planner. I have quite the hat collection these days for a girl with a head so big normal hats don’t fit it. But I adore hats of all kinds, so I line up my mental collection and look at the pretty colors and shapes.

Keeping them all straight often requires quantities of coffee that would probably horrify my doctor. But, since I love pretty much everything about my life even when I’m having one of those days where I just want everyone to shut up for ten seconds and I take to hiding in the bathroom or my car to get a few moments of peace, I keep juggling the hats.
Lane asked me to chat today about how I do that. The simple answer is: gadgets. From my MacBook to my iPhone to my refrigerator door, I have reminders, calendars, and spreadsheets all around me to keep me (sort of) on track. But I thought it might be fun—and helpful to mommies who have dreams they’d like to chase—to have a look at these lovely hats and how I keep them in order.

 

My mommy hat, which looks rather like a creation of Dr. Seuss
The outside of my fridge is the magical map to how I run a household and keep five people and one tiny dog fed and happy in the midst of everything else I have going on.
First, it has all the school info: since I can’t say no to my oldest monkey’s big blue puppy-dog eyes, I also have a room mom hat (I see this one as a slick black fedora) this year. We are fortunate to live in an amazing school district and she has the very best teacher in the whole world, so that makes this one fun. But I still have to remember to do things. All the class parties and events and their various deadlines, plus when I need to make a sign up genius (calling all room moms: if you’ve not discovered this amazing free online tool, you’re really going to love me for eliminating the dreaded reply-all email from your life! Just go create a sign up form and forget about it. They even remind the folks who sign up a couple of days beforehand. Truly, genius.) to make sure everything gets there on time are on the school calendar on the side of the fridge.
Above that one hangs the preschool monthly calendar so I can keep track of when pajama day is and what letter this week’s show and tell must start with. Next to that, the monthly elementary school lunch calendar tells me which days my daughter will and won’t eat the cafeteria food for lunch, which can lead to early-morning swearing when I discover that I have thirty-five seconds to pack my pickiest eater a lunch and get her to the bus on time.
I also have these fabulous magnetic notepads from Anthropologie that make grocery lists and meals no-brainers. One allows me to check off items we need from the store as I notice we’re out, and then tear off my shopping list on the way out the door. The other has a place for weekly menus, so I don’t forget to buy anything. One trip to the store is way better than five.

My wife hat, a sexy and slightly mysterious pillbox of satin with some sort of cropped veil
I try really hard to not let my marriage get lost in the constant chaos that is my very happy life. My husband is a wonderful man and a great dad, and truly my very best friend. During the day, my MacBook helps out with that, because while I’m working, I can use Messages to keep up with how his day is going and send him little notes. He emails me photos of flowers, which I adore because it says he’s thinking about me, they don’t die, and they’re free.
My calendar keeps track of date nights and movie releases we might want to see together, and my iPhone is the lifeline to my wonderful babysitter, who always replies promptly to my texts even though she’s a busy honor student who plays competitive sports.

My author hat, which has magical powers and changes from book to book
This is definitely the one that’s been hardest to keep up with for the past few years, and now that I have a book launching in just six weeks (Eep!) it’s become a fun-with-a-hint-of-work Chanel baseball cap, instead of a jaunty little hobby beret. Just yesterday, I was chatting with the principal at my daughter’s school and I mentioned the book and she stared with wide eyes and said “Don’t you have two other little ones? How in the world do you find the time to write novels?”

LynDee's first novel!  Coming soon--see below for pre-order links.
LynDee’s first novel! Coming soon–see below for pre-order links.

The short answer is, coffee. But the longer one is a much better explanation of how I make writing a priority in my days. My MacBook has a program that cuts me off from the Internet (because we all know how many hours fun things like Facebook and Pinterest can suck away from productivity), so I try to take care of my social networking type stuff in the morning and evening, and reserve my littlest monkey’s afternoon nap time for writing. On a good day, I can get down between 1,000 and 3,000 words in a nap.
At that pace, accounting for days when it’s less or more and days when I can’t manage to fit in much at all, it takes me about three months to draft a novel. The key is making myself write every day. In the process of drafting my current manuscript, which is a sequel to Front Page Fatality, I’ve had days when I wasn’t feeling so connected to Nichelle. But I found if I just parked my rear in the chair and opened the file and started typing, the story would eventually come. And even when there’re not-so-good words in part of a scene, it’s worth it for the ones that come when I get going. A rough draft is just that: rough. I know I’m going to revise it within an inch of it’s life, anyhow. So I just have to get it down.
The further I get toward being a published author, the more guest blogs and interviews I have to write, which present new (but fun and welcome) challenges. I have a spreadsheet with the post topic, the due date, and the email address I need to return material to, which helps me keep it organized. Every morning I check that to see if there’s one I need to write, and on days like today (when there is), I set the baby up with Mickey Mouse or a bucket of blocks and start writing. Sometimes it takes a few drafts to find exactly what I want to say, but I can usually knock out a post in the time it takes for her to watch Mickey or the Little Einsteins have an adventure.

My event planning hat, which of course must be a fancy silk party hat with bright colors and long ribbons
When I not doing one of those other things I just listed, or sighing at the latest mess the monkeys have made, or trying to squeeze in a pinch of sleep, I plan central Virginia events for a well-known international weight loss company. Having been through the program and lost a touch north of 100 pounds, I know what it’s like to walk through the doors for the first time, and exactly how much having fun, motivating events to attend can help people become healthier.
This is where my iPhone calendar, my cell phone itself, and my email program keep me in line. I have a separate email account for the planning stuff, which makes it easy to click over and glance through a few times a day, whether on my laptop or my phone, to see if there’s anything that needs my attention. I like to take care of emails right away so the sender gets a prompt reply, but also so I don’t forget about them.
I also manage the social media presence of the company in central Virginia, which various apps from the folks at Facebook make it easy to do from my phone. Every once in a while, it’s necessary for me to sit down and spend a couple of hours on this, usually when I have a big event coming up in the next few weeks or have a flyer to design, but most of the time I fit it in while I wait in the carpool line, between tweets in the afternoon, or while we watch TV after dinner. Twenty minutes a few times a day makes a big difference in the lives of folks who attend the events and get inspired to lead a healthier lifestyle, and that’s rewarding in a different way than getting a hug from the monkeys or a lovely review of a book, but it’s no less important.
There are days when I think there’s not enough sleep or coffee or combination of the two to keep me upright for one more second, and my rear end would appreciate me going to the gym more often, but I wouldn’t know what to do without any one of my lovely pieces of headwear. I hope something here helped you, lovely reader, to see how to keep all your own hats in line, and I want to offer a heartfelt thanks to Lane for having me on The Outside Lane today.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to swap the ballcap for the crazy Dr. Seuss contraption (with the party hat perched on top), because Little Einsteins is over and it’s time for the preschool carpool line.

FRONT PAGE FATALITY: A Nichelle Clarke Headlines in Heels Mystery (Henery Press, January 29, 2013)
Twitter: @LynDeeWalker
Facebook: LynDee Walker
Goodreads: LynDee Walker
Amazon author page: LynDee Walker
Posted in holiday guest blog

Holiday Guide–Send me Your Links!


Welcome to November.  I’m not sure how we got back around here so quickly, but…here we are!

As I have done the last couple of years, I will be sharing holiday shopping/gift giving information, links and tips.  If you have a business/blog/book/crafty idea, or know someone who has a business/blog/book/crafty business they would like to promote, please email me at lane@theoutsidelane.com.  Include the following information, and I’ll get back to you with a calendar date.

  • Your Name:
  • Your business/blog/book/idea Name:
  • A description of the business/blog/book/idea that says why you love doing it, and to whom you think it will appeal (ex.  I love making dried apple-head dolls.  These dolls marry the qualities of upcycling and craftsmanship into one adorably functional form.  I started making dried apple-head dolls in homage to my next door neighbor, who so closely resembled one.  Dried apple dolls make a great gift for everyone, but especially for hipsters, readers of Regretsy.com, and hungry squirrels.):
  • And at least 2 photos that correspond:

This year, I am also putting out a call for Guest Bloggers to write about holidays/holiday traditions/holiday horror stories.  Got a tale to tell?  Send it to me!

Get your goodies in to me by November 15!

Posted in holiday guest blog

Send Me Your Stuff for the Holiday Guide!


Welcome to November.  I’m not sure how we got back around here so quickly, but…here we are!

As I have done the last couple of years, I will be sharing holiday shopping/gift giving information, links and tips.  If you have a business/blog/book/crafty idea, or know someone who has a business/blog/book/crafty business they would like to promote, please email me at lane@theoutsidelane.com.  Include the following information, and I’ll get back to you with a calendar date.

  • Your Name:
  • Your business/blog/book/idea Name:
  • A description of the business/blog/book/idea that says why you love doing it, and to whom you think it will appeal (ex.  I love making dried apple-head dolls.  These dolls marry the qualities of upcycling and craftsmanship into one adorably functional form.  I started making dried apple-head dolls in homage to my next door neighbor, who so closely resembled one.  Dried apple dolls make a great gift for everyone, but especially for hipsters, readers of Regretsy.com, and hungry squirrels.):
  • And at least 2 photos that correspond:

This year, I am also putting out a call for Guest Bloggers to write about holidays/holiday traditions/holiday horror stories.  Got a tale to tell?  Send it to me!

Get your goodies in to me by November 15!

Posted in holiday guest blog

Days of Christmas: Holiday Have to Have–Smart Sprinklers


How often can you say you know an inventor?  I know an inventor!  I know a couple of inventors, but Trish Howard of SMART Hydro Systems is my favorite.  She and her husband have created an automated sprinkler irrigation control and foundation stabilization system that you will want to give your house for Christmas. Have you ever wanted a smart house that you could control from the internet?  How about a smart yard?  That’s what the Howards have created, and I got so excited when Trish was telling me about it, that I almost wished we weren’t selling our house so we could get it!  Almost. 😉

SMART Hydro Systems

It’s all about the technology.

SMART Hydro Systems is the most efficient sprinkler irrigation system available to the homeowner.  It is a web based irrigation control system that can be used to water your lawn, within water restrictions, to your specifications and to stabilize your existing foundation to prevent foundation repair.

 

This technology can be used to save a tremendous amount of money as well as doing our part in saving precious resources by “going green”.

When you combine state-of-the-art sensors with convenient on-line access, you get unparalleled control over your automated irrigation systems as well as foundation preventative maintenance programs. Install it and forget about it … it waters when and where it’s needed. It even reports clogs and leaks in your system, directly to your email. The SMART system can either be installed to retrofit your existing sprinkler system or it can be installed with a new system. SMART owners can see up to 40% or more savings in water as well as an immediate return on investment for the Foundation Monitoring System.

SMART Hydro Systems releases January 2012. SMART Hydro Systems can be used in two ways:
— automated sprinkler irrigation control
— foundation stabilization

*The average single-family home pours at least 25,000 gallons of water a month on the lawn as stated in a water conservation research paper from University of Florida, 2009.  With this year’s current drought conditions, that number is considerably more.  This is why there is a NEED for SMART Hydro Systems.

 

www.getSMART.pro

www.smarthydrosystems.com

trish@smarthydrosystems.com

or phone 855-5GETSMART

 

The SMART Hydro System is our last Days of Christmas holiday guide entry.  I hope you’ve enjoyed the month of muchness and have found it helpful or at least fun to read.  If I don’t post again before then, Happy Christmas/Hanukkah/Kwanza/Festivus/Birthday–mine’s tomorrow!/New Year to you all.  You’re the best readers in the whole interworld!

Posted in holiday guest blog

Days of Christmas: Holiday Have to Smile–Remembering Last Year


With just two days until my birthday, which always shapes up busier than Christmas Day itself, I want to take the opportunity to consider the past twelve months.  I am fortunate to be surrounded by a good number of wonderful people, and they make such a positive contribution to my life.

January of 2011 ushered in the 7th year of matrimony for B and me.  Quite the opposite of an itch, I found myself even more in love with him than before.  Thor started a new school midway through his Kinder year, and managed to survive that major change along with the moving of house, and changing of jobs B and I had done only a few months prior.  And we took Manhattan with my Lobster and her princesses, which was long overdue and so very good for my soul.  There was the added and unexpected bonus of running into June Pillay Graham (of junebijou.com) after a decade and change, and she was just the cherry on the cake.

February made me shiver–because it was cold.  Bone cold.  Otherwise, I think it was unremarkable.

March, dear.  That was a lovely reunion of friends from near and far, and my once-in-ten-years venture out to a live concert for Duran Duran’s show in an Oklahoma casino.  Because I enjoy juxtaposition.  Nicole and I were hard at work editing our book for publication, and I was giving myself an ulcer over it.  I also organized a Women Worth Knowing networking event (Renae, I still have socks to give you!) and managed to meet some even more interesting people than before.

April was all about The Order of the Blood, a bittersweet experience for me.  I was thrilled to have been published and excited at having been given the opportunity based on the very raw draft Nicole had bravely submitted, and then horrified to realize the editing was up to us and on very short notice.  And while I am extremely proud of what we were able to accomplish in 72 hours, I learned a valuable lesson about why professional editors exist.  That said, Gideon is and always will be one of my favorite vampires of all times.  You can buy it as an eBook or paperback.  I’d get it at Amazon (cos it’s cheaper there.)

 

In May, I was delighting in the walks to Thor’s school every morning, feeling fortunate and grateful for this life we have.  And, I was also coming to realize that I needed to take charge of myself emotionally and find someone who could help me build skills for emotional infrastructure.

I had my first appointment with my therapist in June, started going back to the gym, swimming laps to overcome that fear of sharks in swimming pools.  Thor started swimming lessons.  I drove into a huge pothole at the YMCA and had to have a wrecker come tow me out.  A series of events at Thor’s summer camp led us to a new one, and back into the presence of Linda and her princess, and I couldn’t have been happier about that.

July was hot, but I got to cool off in a gorgeous resort pool in Houston for a work event, and was able to reconnect with Laura, bridging another decade long gap in time.

August was about birthdays for boys, end of summer breaks down in Corpus Christi, and back to school with our First Grader.

September was quiet, as was October.  Just like we like them.  Then with November came an opportunity to return to my career of choice in a position I’d coveted, working for the people I had really enjoyed–and I jumped at it.

And now we are in December, and pretty soon we’ll start it all over again.

For now, happy Solstice to y’all.  This year I started a new tradition of talking to Thor about astronomy, biology, and evolution on the Longest Night of the Year.  Next year, I will introduce Copernicus Claus, Santa’s science-minded brother.  Copernicus Claus brings books (written by his science and sci-fi elves Carl Sagan, Stephen Hawking, Ursula Le Guin, and Douglas Adams) about astronomy to all little girls and boys, so that they can learn about the universe and the billions and billions of stars in it.  The awesome thing about Copernicus Claus is that he comes twice a year.  On the Longest Day of the Year, he brings books about biology (not written by Hugh Hefner), so all little girls and boys can learn about the things living in their little neck of the galaxy.  It’s a good thing.