Family time

Day 23: Clock
No Novel November 2019

1971 Chevrolet Chevy Camaro Z28 yellow fastback

“Do you know why I pulled you over, ma’am?”

Officer Jensen leans on top of the canary-yellow Camaro fastback with a disapproving look on his thin features. His radar gun had nearly exploded when this thing came whipping down the country lane he’d been assigned to this weekend.

“I can’t imagine, Officer,” the driver says, all innocence.

“Ma’am, I clocked you going a buck ten in a forty. Anything about that seem odd to you?”

“Oh my. Yes, sir, I suppose that is a bit fast.” She smiles sweetly and bats her eyelashes at him through the window. “But seeing as there’s no one out here besides you and me, maybe you could let me off with a warning or a lecture or a coffee date?”

Jensen sighs and shakes his head. If this was the first time she’d done this, he’d be embarrassed. But seeing as it happens at least once a month, he’s nothing but frustrated.

“You can’t keep buzzing me like this when I’m on duty,” he says.

She sniffs. “Well, Steven, maybe if you called more, I wouldn’t have to get your attention this way.”

Before he can defend himself, she cranks the key in the ignition and peels away, leaving him standing on the shoulder in a cloud of dust and laughter.

Jensen pats the dirt from his uniform, then trudges back to his car, pulling out his phone.

“Siri, reminder: Tomorrow, 8am, call Mom.”

This story is part of No Novel November, a daily microfiction challenge. If you'd like to know more and/or join in, click here.


Day 5: Pickle
No Novel November 2019

Mason jars monochrome by rollingfishays via Deviant Art

I watch Gramma prep the glass jars by washing them with blue soap and clouds of hot water before roasting them in the oven as high as she dares set it. The massive pot—the one she used to bathe me in when I was little—hisses under its lid, fixed to boil.

She waves a thick, soft arm in my direction without looking. I scurry from my seat at the kitchen table to join her. It’s the first year I’ve been allowed to watch, and I don’t want to miss a single step.

We don’t speak as she pours plain white vinegar into the jars. Or as she measures coarse salt in the palm of her callused hand. Or as she pinches dill and cracks pepper and spoons coriander. I pass her the sugar; she likes them more sweet than sour. The contents of the jars cloud and swirl until I can’t make them out even by squinting.

We work in silence until she puts the lid back on the roiling pot and starts the timer.

“Why do you save up your memories like this, Gramma?” I whisper.

She pulls me into her side. The puff of air between us smells like yeasty dough, like brine, like home. “You just never know when you might need them,” she says.

This story is part of No Novel November, a daily microfiction challenge. If you'd like to know more and/or join in, click here.

State of the Ellie: August 2019

A (not so) brief summary of my July. Featuring a nagging case of FOMO, professional maturity, toddler attitude, and being bored with my health updates.

Another Way by Justin Peters - A man in a black leather jacket holds an umbrella with a road and landscape on top

The State of the Ellie is a monthly reflection on what’s been going on in my world for the last 30ish days.

Since the last one was late, this month’s update is of the quick ‘n’ dirty variety to avoid belaboring past points. Also, while July wasn’t calendar-busy, it was internally busy, so buckle up.


The news here is the same as last time: we’re shooting for November. As we get closer to Thanksgiving, I’m sure things will get nuts again, but for now, we’re back in hurry-up-and-wait mode. Which has given me existential whiplash. It took me a while to figure out why I’ve been feeling so tender, distracted, and lost after the timeline shift, but it’s so obvious now. We were running full tilt getting ready to go for August, then had a concrete wall slam down in front of us. Of course I’m discombobulated—going from 100 to 0 hurts.

I’m also coping with a nagging case of FOMO (as inadvertently evidenced by the story I wrote last week). Most of our team is heading south this month, and frankly, I’m jealous. The delay in our departure makes sense (for more than just immigration purposes—see “Family” below), but there is a huge part of me that just wants to go. To be there, to be starting. There’s another, crappier part of me that’s sulking about feeling left out. I know God’s using this to root out pride and abandonment issues, which is good, but uggggghhhhh. Unpleasant. Right now, I’m choosing to be excited for everyone else and to be as patient as possible until our number is called. It’s not how long you wait but your attitude while waiting that counts, right?


There’s a serious leveling up happening here right now. While I don’t have a full slate of clients (yet), the work I’m doing with them, the way I handle my schedule, and even the rates I charge are morphing from wobbly-legged amateur to sort-of-confident professional person. I’m taking on challenges that make me uncomfortable but not uneasy. I’m valuing my time and skills more. I’m finding new ways, places, and times to work that seemed impossible five years ago.

I’m growing, you guys.

There’s still a fair amount of chaos, and I’m still looking for clients, but there’s a new undercurrent of competency I’ve never felt in my business life before. And I kinda like it.

Also: I wrote my first fiction last week for the first time in two years. I had to double check the dates because that doesn’t seem real. I miss it so much. I have tons of story ideas, and I want so badly to finish Forgotten Relics. But I can’t seem to pull my mental/creative/temporal shit together. Then I fall into the comparison trap—“XYZ author person writes all their novels while working 40 hours a week and homeschooling their five kids and…”—you know. Anyway. The desire is there. I can’t make any promises, but I will say there’ve been inklings in my prayer time that full-blown fiction is returning. Someday.


Less than a week after we had to delay Florida, we found out why we needed to: Lino’s mom was rushed to the hospital in the middle of the night with heart issues that resulted in her getting a pacemaker. I’ll spare the long story, but the upshot is that we’re really glad we decided to stay. She’s facing a lot of changes in her life that we need (want!) to be present for and to support. On top of that, my sister-in-law is expecting her second baby mid-August, so we get to be present for and to support her through that newborn season, too. So it turned out that what we’d been angsting about as a setback to building the Kingdom was actually a green light (reminder) to be doing it here, now.


I always feel like I should have so much more to write here. How do those mommybloggers do it?!

Each month that goes by intensifies Mackenzie’s toddlerness. The last couple of weeks, her attitude has ratcheted up to teenage Valley Girl levels, including once telling her daddy “don’t worry about what I’m doing and mind your own business.” I….what. We’re at a bit of a loss as to how to discipline that, but are doing our best to be consistent with what we know to do. We also suspect that, after six months of not needing a nap, she might need one again. The couple of times we made her lay down due to a late night, her attitude was markedly improved. Hrm….*strokes beard*

Also (TMI ALERT): Mack’s big accomplishment this month is that she all the sudden decided to start pooping on the little potty in the morning and then get right back in bed to wait for her wakeup call. WHAT. She’s been daytime trained since May, but we’ve purposely not started night training because we don’t want to deal with any stress-based regressions in the mattress department due to moving. But, hey, if she wants to poop on the potty, I’m all for it.


Guys, I’m so bored with this category. It’s one of the regulars, but honestly, it’s the same stuff all the time. Cold symptoms, aching joints, weird stuff doctors don’t care much about because it isn’t bad enough. Blah, blah, blah. You guys deserve better than this. Suffice to say, I’m on sinus infection #2 of the year. Two more and the ENT will give a crap about what I say. Hooray?


  • My reading life is picking up! I wrestled that Tolkien to the ground, finally, and rewarded myself with Redshirts and a few YA graphic novels I randomly grabbed at the library. Going on to Murakami shorts next. Gotta retrain my flabby brain after four years of basically just reading nutritional labels.
  • Our local libraries show movies for free in the afternoon, and we’re taking Mack to train her up to go to the Real Theatre. Moana tomorrow. Let’s see if she can sit still for the whole thing.
  • It’s starting to be too dark at 5:30am for me to safely walk our neighborhood. This makes me sad because a) I need to exercise, and b) it reminds me that winter is coming. Argh. I might have to find some room in the budget to get back to the gym.

That’s it for me this month! Now it’s your turn.

Jump in the comments to tell me how YOUR July went and what you’ve got planned for August.

A prayer for my somehow three year old baby on her birthday

Let her be quick to forgive and quick to say sorry.

Let her not seek her own way but Yours.

Let her give lavishly of herself and what she has without thinking of debt or payback.

Let her have strong boundaries that serve her and others, to keep connection without sacrificing sanity or health.

Let her love with abandon, never fearing being hurt or giving thought to what’s in it for her.

Let her be confident–the kind based on her position as a child of the most high king, never proud or arrogant.

Let her be curious, exploring the world in all its wonder and mystery.

Let her be brave, never letting fear rule her even though she may feel it.

Let her see the truth and express it with overwhelming gentleness.

Let her be running over with big faith, the kind that moves mountains.

Let her question all things but never doubt Your great love for her.

Happy third birthday, Mackenzie.