Tuesday, April 23, 2013


My mind has been going crazy lately. Lots of interesting ideas, things I want to think deeply about, blog about, have conversations about. Yes when I sit down to the computer to put everything together my brain turns to mush and I ramble for paragraphs until I quit.

I seem to need quit and space to think clearly right now and I don't have much of either.

So have some pictures of my girls with their creations at the district art show instead.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Comforting Reads

In December I was very ill. The kind that hits you like a truck and then you lay in bed for days either wishing for good meds or looking at the interesting patterns on the ceiling after you take the good meds.  When I was able to want to read I grabbed my Kindle and looked around the cheap/free reads section. All I had loaded on it was the scriptures, Les Miserables and The Count of Monte Cristo. Not what you want to read with reduced brain capacity.

I like urban fantasy. I enjoy the mix of magic and city life. I enjoy having the lightness of topic that most of them present. I like the humor. So when I saw A Modern Witch by Debra Geary I took the offer of a free book. I like urban fantasy, it seemed like a good choice.

But the problem was, I read through it in short order and there were more. I guiltily bought several that weekend. Her books are on the Prime lending on Amazon, so each month I get one more. (Except for the month I got The Worst Hard Time.) But I never wanted to admit to loving them. They are urban fantasy, but there is a good dose of romance in them too, and that didn't sit well with my public persona.

But here goes, I, Katherine D. Ward, LOVE these books. They calm my soul and make me happy in ways other light reading just doesn't. Here's why:

1. They are happy books. No murders, no crime, no gritty urban life. There isn't really an antagonist. The conflict necessary to a book arises from the common issues of life. How often do  you have an antagonist? I personally never have.

2. They have families. I have often pondered what I would write if I ever went into fiction. I've long thought about books with real families, not ones who send their children away so the writer doesn't have to deal with the details of a true family. Ms. Geary has kids completely integrated into her character's lives. They worry about colic and babysitting and what to do with a troublesome child.

3. They are all perfect parents. OK, I admit, this bugs me sometimes too, but having happy families around in fiction is so important, I will gladly put up with it. The incredible amount of patience displayed by the parents in these books puts any family you have ever heard of to shame. But it is nice to see that instead of the much more common list of horrible things parents do to their children.

4. They are well written.  I have an obsessive mind. When I am not feeling well and read a lot I will often get a stack of books by a new author and plow through all of them. A few books in I could catalog the structure of each book, predict how each new one will go and list the verbal ticks and favorite phrases of the author. Reading the Stephanie Plum series by Janet Evanovich was particularly bad. Though there are so many of them I overdosed.

The structure of these novels feels less rigid to me because of the lack of a protagonist/antagonist struggle. There definitely is conflict in each novel, at least the ones I have read so far, based in the personal changes of the new witch introduced each novel and her attempts to find her place. In each successive book the previous witch somehow shares her growth with the new person to come in.

5. As I just implied, these books are about community. Each of us longs to be part of a community, to have that sitcom type life where people just drop in and visit all the time. Not very many of us have it. As an active member of the LDS church I have a stronger community than most and I am so grateful. These books feel familiar to me as they reflect the bonds I have and show how strengthening them can only strengthen me and my family.

6. OK, I admit it, the romance bits are nice too. Especially because there isn't much sex. I like sex, you don't get 6 kids without enjoying physical contact, but I don't like reading about it. Someone else's erotic scene feels like mechanics to me. Leaving it out is lovely.

7. They make me happy. Most books leave some kind of lingering feeling, the buzzing of new ideas trying to combine with old thoughts (At Home); the uncomfortable itchiness of death and evil ideas (sorry G.R.R. Martin, looking at you) or even the coziness of old friends (Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter). When I read a Witch book by Debra Geary, I feel happy. Happy that another family is happy, even if they are fictional.

So go out and read them, give yourself time to have a sweet guilty pleasure. Only on Amazon right now though.

A Modern Witch. Debra Geary. Fireweed Publishing. 2011

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

30-Day Challenge

It will come as no surprise to anyone who has seen a picture of me taken in the last 14 years that I have some weight issues. I also have some health issues that are complicated by this (not caused by though, just to be clear).

Through good genes I have managed to avoid any pre-diabetes, high blood pressure or high cholesterol which enabled me to excuse away my bad habits. And I had 6 kids and 9 pregnancies in 11 years. That will do a number on your health anyway.

My youngest just turned 3. I have been feeling that changes that come when you aren't pregnant or nursing for a while. In some ways I am feeling better. But the fatigue and joint pain make it very difficult to follow through on all the goals I made when I was deep in babies and toddlers.

So I told my husband, but now I announce it to the world! I am going off sugar for the month of April. I need more accountability. My three-yr old is still too small to rat me out if I cheat during the day.

I know that a good part of the extra weight I carry is labelled "Dr. Pepper." I am pretty sure that much of the fatigue is from bad eating habits. While adding more vegetables is a good thing, I need to eliminate the bad as well.

When I post anything else here I will mention how it is going, again, because I need more accountability. My sweet husband is so forgiving, just telling him isn't enough.

Hopefully I will be healthier soon.

Oh, and I found a great video about doing these types of things, though his 30-day challenges are more fun than mine. TED talks are great, have a look.