To puzzle or not to puzzle

Harry and I came back Monday from a four-day weekend in Topsail Island. We took our black lab Alex and frolicked in the waves with him. It was an awesome break that we both needed. And watching our dog have so much fun swimming and chasing his ball over and through waves was worth the extra expense to bring him. Like the commercial, priceless. Aside from Harry dunking in the surf unexpectedly and losing his favorite pair of glasses, the trip was fantastic.

We didn’t take any pictures on the beach because neither of us ever remember to take them, but here is Alex on the back deck with his favorite squeak toy.
Alex with Squeaky

Alex carried Squeaky around everywhere at Topsail Island, just like he does at home. It is so comical to see a 90 pound labrador with a squeak toy. At one point Squeaky fell of the second floor deck and we had to restrain Alex from jumping over the railing to get him.

And that finally brings me to the topic of this post. When Harry and I have downtime on vacation or even relaxing at home on a Saturday afternoon, Harry likes to work crossword puzzles and I like to read novels. At Topsail, I finished David Baldacci’s latest THE WHOLE TRUTH, which was very powerful, and started one of the PREY series by John Sandford. But I digress, I love to read. If I was to sit and work a crossword, I’d be frustrated and bored and probably end up burning the paper and breaking up my pencil into pieces. Harry says working crosswords keeps his mind sharp and makes him a better writer. I have to agree with him. Harry has the most extensive vocabulary of anyone I’ve ever known. I have yet to find a word that he doesn’t know. So am I missing out by not forcing myself to work crossword puzzles? I find reading novels in the genre I’m writing makes me a better writer. I’d much rather read a book.

Is it better to puzzle or to read? What do other writers do in your downtime and what do you do to sharpen your writing skills?

This question won’t be much of an issue for me for awhile. I simply don’t have a lot of downtime. It has been a busy time for me developing questions for state tests. By the time I sit at the computer for ten hours or so editing test questions, I just don’t feel like writing anything, not even this blog. But that’s what they pay me the “big” bucks for, and I like developing tests–it just means I won’t be posting as frequently for awhile.

Also, I’m looking forward to a trip to central New York to visit my daughter and grandson. I’m leaving on Wednesday and I can’t wait.

Happy Mother’s Day

I originally posted this one year ago, and am reposting it today for my mom.

Today I’d like to thank you, Mom, for the things you did that helped me become the person that I am. You married my father when you were still in high school. You and dad lived in a small one-room cabin when I was a baby. You took me there several years ago. I was startled to see how small it was. What it must have been like for you in that small room with a baby, I can only imagine. Yet, I’ve never heard you complain. You talk about that time almost with yearning. It must have been a happy time for you and Dad.

I have some of my happiest memories of later, when we lived in a small singlewide trailer until I was five. I remember falling asleep in my bunk bed listening to you doing the dishes and singing or talking with Dad. I felt safe and warm and wanted to live in that trailer forever. You never complained when you hauled our clothes to the ringer washer in the trailer court and then hung them on the line. I remember playing under the clothes strung from one end of the trailer to the other, the smell of laundry soap heavy in the air. As a young child I thought it was fun running through those clothes, not able to walk from one end of the trailer to the other. I never asked you how you managed to raise five kids living so simply. I’m so proud to call you my mom.

Mom TodayTrina 5th grade

Mom, you had a huge influence on my success. Here are a few things that you did that helped make it possible for me to pursue my dreams.

• Because you were so young and cooped up with my sisters and I, you played games with us. When I was very young, we played, “I’m thinking of something green.” We begged you to play “the color game” and others, endlessly. Later it was cards, yahtzee, and even Barbies. I still love games because of you.
• Mom, you made the time to read us stories. You hauled us to the library every week, where I checked out as many books as I could carry. Because of you, I still love reading today. You will find me at my happiest with my nose in a thriller.
• You played the piano and sang and encouraged all five of us to play an instrument. You forced us to practice, which we hated. Although none of us pursued it, the experience taught us persistence and a good work ethic.
• You made our clothes, for all five of us. You also made all of the clothes for my dolls and Barbies. You taught me to sew, which is a skill that I found so valuable later in life.
• Mom, you instilled a work ethic in me that has brought much of my success. I would not have been a good teacher without that skill. The attention to detail and drive for success that helps me now as a science education researcher I owe to you.
• You are not afraid to stand up for yourself. That one example has probably helped me more than anything else. I’ve watched you march up to a receptionist or make a phone call where you were relentless in getting what you needed, either for your husband, your children, or yourself. You are an inspiration to me.
• Mom, you show me that you love and care for me every time that I talk to you. I treasure our walks together and our long talks.

So thanks, Mom! You have helped me by your example and your caring. I love you.