A New or Not-so-new Thing | Blog 9.0 | A tale of many blogs

I’ve blogged extremely sporadically for years. Back in the early days of blogging when everything had to be hand-coded if you wanted to customize one of the few themes available, I had a blog called Emerging Ecclesiology. Which auto correct thinks should be “Emerging Anesthesiology” but I digress. I engaged in questions of theology and culture, the emerging church, and what ecclesiology (a theology of church, not as sleep-inducing generally as anesthesiology, if you’re interested in that sort of thing, otherwise, auto correct may have a point) looks like for a post-modern church.

That was about 17 years ago if I recall correctly, I was 23 and fresh out of seminary and bursting with ideas. I was teaching world religions at a community college west of Los Angeles, teaching assisting with some classes at Fuller where I had just graduated, and developing a college ministry program at a local church. Writing that reminds me that I used to have energy, now just looking at that sentence makes me tired.

Eventually I wanted to turn to more of an emphasis on general theology and spirituality so I renamed the blog Deep Soil and indulged in beautiful headers of trees and forests. Somewhere around this time (age 25 by now), I met my now husband on my blog. That’s right, I met my husband on the internet without internet dating and before blogs where a thing. I had to explain our origin story starting with “what’s a blog” to about 50% of the people I tried to tell it to.

I moved to Tennessee and took a full-time youth ministry position. That and planning a wedding, getting married, remodeling a house, husband getting ordained, then moving again a year later and both of us starting new jobs, a local church for him, a diocesan position in youth ministry for me, and blogging kind of fell by the way-side. Oh somehow in the middle of this, I wrote and published a book of youth ministry lessons on the book of Ezekiel. Why Ezekiel for my first book? Because I like to jump in the deep end and see how long I can tread water. This can be a good thing and very very bad thing, but it’s what it is. Now as I approach my 40th year, I sometimes remember to look before I leap. Sometimes.

We built a house north of Nashville, my diocesan position got cut after two years because of money problems, and I launched into free-lance photography, simultaneously starting two new blogs, one called Wayfaring Artist, which still exists in some ways on this site  as I moved the posts over here when I closed that down, and one called Daily Ikon which was a photo blog turned photography business. Those blogs lasted me through the birth of my first child (he’s now 8), after which I had to dial back the photography thing because it wasn’t paying enough to justify child care. Then in November of 2011 I finished my first National Novel Writing Month (aka NaNoWriMo), and decided I wanted to do something with the novel I had written. So I launched edits, and blog tour and started this site, A.E. Howard Writes to go with the “branding” of my author name. Initially I only used this blog feature for announcements, as I optimistically and unrealistically thought I could write a book a year and there would be things to update. I’ve done some short stories and novellas but haven’t published another novel as of yet.

Somewhere in there I tried briefly to revive Deep Soil, and at one point had (or maybe have, I need to check, lol) a blog called Anna’s Grace Notes, and now I’ve started a blog for my aquarium and vivarium business over on Engaging Ecosystems

So by relaunching now, that brings me to blog number nine I believe. Part of my problem is I kept thinking that I had to have separate branding for everything I did, and I’m getting to where I’m rejecting that notion. Now, what I want to write about here (more in a second), is very different then technical posts on how to build a dart frog ecosystem, so I am going to keep those separate, but that’s it. I’m not removing the artsy maker posts just below this that I briefly dabbled in trying to make a go of. I still make and build and design all sorts of things but I do that for me, not for content to share.

One constant theme in all these is a search for beauty in everyday life, hence the name “daily ikon” for instance, or some of my taglines “beauty in the daily” and so on. It has been a constant theme to learn to live everyday life with appreciation and gusto even because if we only wait for the big things, the milestones, the events, we miss the majority of our own life–the one built from seconds and minutes, from children’s smiles, hot coffee, and spring flowers. If we miss the ordinary, we can’t truly appreciate the extraordinary anyway, so it’s important to make the most of the daily.

So that brings me to this blog, now in the middle of 2019. I’m working on a non-fiction project that I don’t know exactly what it will be yet. As I get parts of it done and polished I’ll post them here. I’m exploring ideas related to empathy, right relationships, theology, and what’s wrong with American Christianity. Yeah, tiny little topics, I’m sure I’ll have it sorted and polished in no time flat.

I’ve been reading a lot, so I thought I could also share some feedback and reviews from my current reading list as I go along as well.

And I’ve got about 4 different fiction projects in the works, I can’t make any promises as to when they will be finished. Books 2 and 3 of my middle grade Keeper of the Keys trilogy, a full novel from the novella I contributed to Wonderstorms, and a new project that will most likely include frogs. Which gives me my latest tagline for this site: Faith. Frogs. Fiction.

I’ve suffered for some years now from a chronic illness, namely untreated and then under-treated hypothyroidism that really wrecked my ability to much more than survive. I’ve learned a lot from being so restricted, more that I can share in other posts, but the biggest take-away is that I am not what I produce. I am happy when I can write thought, and now that I’m closer to getting the proper dosage of meds and all worked out, I can tackle some of these projects and even start bringing them out into the light, even if I don’t have any time frame that I can promise on them.

So that’s where we’re at as of today. Thanks for coming along on the journey, and welcome! Or welcome back, as the case may be

Being Enough

A bunch of crazy friends of mine and I are about to embark on a 30-day writing challenge called JuNoWriMo (June Novel Writing Month).

It strikes me as I dive into this adventure that writing or really any sort of creating we do is an exercise in courage.  To create requires we put ourselves on the line, bare our souls for others to see.

And it’s damn scary.

When I write a novel, somewhere around the one-third to one-half mark the novel starts to talk back.  And it tells me that it’s a horrible story, that it’s dumb, contrived, no one will ever want to read it, and what’s the matter with me for wanting to write it in the first place.

That spot used to stop me dead.  The story would die and I would leave it to break it up for parts later.  Novel after novel I started only to have them die at almost the same point every time.

Until I learned from Anne Lamott and started to talk back. Read more

Baby stuff: how much is "enough"?

At 8 months pregnant now, some serious nesting urges have kicked in (as in I may or may not have stayed up until 3 am last night looking at check lists and doing baby laundry… I’ll never tell, and you can’t make me!). I’ve been going through shower gifts and getting things sorted and put away like crazy, and have found myself grateful for the fact that even though what I have is a bit overwhelming, it’s not really that much stuff.

See, I decided a few  months ago, back when I was figuring out what to register for, that babies don’t really need THAT much stuff.  I mean, they just eat, sleep and poop, right? And I was developing hives at the sight of all the possible plastic baby stuff that manufacturers were telling me I “needed” to bring into my house.  (Both the expense and the plastic stuff, did I mention I’m not a huge fan of plastic stuff?).

Here’s where we’ve landed on the baby “stuff.”

Babies need:

  • Some clothes, a minimum of 4-8 onesies, 4-5 pair of pants to pull over said onesies, 4-5 jackets or something to wear on top, especially if your baby’s coming in the winter time, and 4-5 pair of socks and mittens.
  • Swaddling blankets (see Happiest Baby on the Block DVD): 4-5 or sleepers. We’re planning to swaddle for about 3 months, then do the sleepers.
  • Food. But fortunately, I’m equipped to handle that need 😉 (Awesome book on breast-feeding, Breastfeeding Made Simple: Seven Natural Laws for Nursing Mothers, I loved it!), added to that, I got a manual breast pump and am using BPA-free hand-me-down bottles from my sis-in-law so Husband can feed baby too.
  • Receiving blankets: 3-4 for warmth to cover a stroller or carrier
  • A carrier. We’re doing the Moby Wrap for the first few months exclusively, and then may use an Ergo when he gets bigger, tho the wrap is good up to about 30 pounds, so close to a year.
  • A car seat. We lucked out with a two-year-old Graco Car Seat as a hand-me-down. Awesome friends!
  • A place to sleep. We got a Arm’s Reach Mini Co-Sleeper Bassinet.
  • Diapers. We’re going cloth, and after much research have settled on the Thirsties Duo Wraps and a combination of prefolds and the Thirsties Duo Inserts.
  • Wipes. I’m making them. I had a stack of hand-me-down flannel receiving blankets, and I received a bunch more that were more my colors at my shower. So I’m cutting up the hand-me-downs into 7 inch squares and will be top-stitching them together (two squares per wipe) to make reusable wipes (I’ll post on this later so you can see them!).
  • A diaper/wipes pail. Since we’re doing cloth, I’m getting 2 5-gallon paint buckets from the hardware store with lids to make decent sized wet pails. If we decide we don’t like the wet pail route, I’ll buy some Bummi’s Waterproof tote bags to use as pail liners and go from there.
  • A place to set him down downstairs where he can see us and sleep. We’re getting this great baby seat by Baby Bjorn that moves with the baby’s movement. But you don’t even have to have this, you could get a Moses basket or something else that fits your lifestyle to set baby into sleep with you if baby’s room isn’t convenient.
  • A baby monitor.  This is one modern, plastic invention that I’m a big fan of :-)
  • Safety stuff: as in outlet guards, cabinet locks, gates etc, but you don’t even have to do this before they’re born as they’re not going to get into stuff right away.

I honestly think everything beyond this is a matter of convenience or preference, and while neither of those is bad, I think this shortened list is much easier on the budget, and is much simpler.  Plus, your house doesn’t get overwhelmed with plastic baby stuff!

Now, here’s a few more things I want to add as he gets older:

His room is nearly done being painted and somewhat decorated, but there’s still nothing it in. But you know what, that’s okay, cause he’s not going to sleep in there yet, and he doesn’t need everything in there ready the minute he comes out.

I filtered and filtered recommendations to get through this list, wondering if I was already a “bad” mother somehow as I created registries and the stores gave me lists of seemingly hundreds of items I “needed” to try to get for baby.  And you know what, I think he’ll have plenty. Parents through history have so few of these things when raising their kids and yet somehow these kids turned out just fine.  Looking at that, even my self-proclaimed minimalist list seems like so much overkill compared to what some people didn’t use to have and still managed to raise their babies (somehow there are 6 billion people in the world, folks!).

So I’ve taken a deep breath and since we’ve got pretty much everything on the initial list, I think we’re pretty well set in the stuff department (and I might add that thanks to the generosity of family and friends we’ve got more like 25 onesies).  Now, admittedly, we haven’t had him yet, so I may find that there are things on this list that I didn’t actually need, or that there are some things that are dang convenient that I didn’t think of now. However, I’ve talked and read a bunch of different folks that said they didn’t need as much as they thought they did, and their minimal lists look a lot like the one above.

My two cents. :-)