Every Mom Needs a Dictator Coffee Mug. Here’s Why!

Don’t you love my click-bait title? 😉

It is true, nonetheless. Moms do need a dictator coffee mug. Why? Truth in advertising of course!

Let me share the story behind my mug.

A few months ago we had a busy day planned. James was at the refugee camp for the day so I made a housecleaning list for us to accomplish once the kids had finished school. I’m a huge believer in rewarding hard work so I went over the list with the kids and we all jumped into the work with a promise of a reward at the end. At least I did. The rest of them finished school and then disappeared. 

I first noticed the disappearance when I took a break from my own work to see how everyone else was coming on theirs. They were all gone, hiding in various locations about the house, hoping I wouldn’t notice the disappearance and would leave them to whatever project they had taken up.

Being the responsible parent that I am, I rounded everyone up, put away the distractions and got everyone on task again for the day. 

Jamie was not happy with me. Well, to be honest, none of them were, but he was the only one brave enough to say anything.

“You’re just a dictator!” he growled at me as only a teen boy with a changing voice can growl.

There was a moment’s hesitation wherein all the air in the room was sucked out by the other kids’ intake of breath as they waited for my response.

I burst out laughing. I know a parent isn’t supposed to laugh at their child when they are being disrespectful but I couldn’t help myself. I laughed almost until I cried. “You’re only just figuring this out?” I gasped. “Of course I’m a dictator and don’t you forget it!”

The other kids laughed, too, mostly out of relief, some because they thought it was funny, too. Jamie wasn’t very happy with the laughing, but what was he to do? 

In their defense, my kids almost never mouth off to me. They rarely get bad attitudes. They are hard and thorough workers, Jamie at least as much maybe more so than the rest. 

Mom is the Dictator has become a running joke.

Why do I get this job? Why can’t ___ do it? Because the Dictator said so.

Complaining about going to bed? The Dictator said you had to.

Why can’t we have dessert? The Dictator said we couldn’t. 

Why do I have to sit in this seat at the table? I called the seat over there! The Dictator told you to.

The Dictator has spoken.

Do not question the Dictator.

Then we all laugh and Jamie looks sheepish and we all go on with what we have to do with a better attitude.

James got me a Dictator mug for Mother’s Day this year. I love it! Now, when the questions come, I take a sip of the nectar of the gods (i.e. coffee) and point to my title engraved on the mug.

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I am a Writer

I promise not every post will be about writing. However, I thought some background might be nice for you, dear reader. Why now? What changed? Why this course of action at this point in my life?

A couple years ago I read Stephen King’s book On Writing. He spent the better part of that book explaining his background and how he came to be a writer. It was a fascinating read. I promise not to write a book — not quite anyway. 😉

My mom taught me to read before I started school. I don’t remember a time when I didn’t know how to read. I started writing stories not long after. My grandma showed me a story that I wrote in Kindergarten and sent to her. It was fairly well constructed — for a six year old. 🙂

I was also an avid reader. I think I was nine when I read Little Women for the first time, and I was around that age when I fell in love with L.M. Montgomery’s body of work. I loved those stories. My mom told me I could write stories like that if I wanted to and worked hard on it.

So, I wrote my first novel when I was nine years old. It is called The Swords. It had five chapters and about 700 words. And a moral. I guess when you are nine every story must have a moral. I spent the next twelve years rewriting it every couple years or so. A couple years ago, I decided to do a final rewrite of it for NaNoWriMo. I found at least three different versions of it and I know I had a fourth on an old hard drive that got reformatted before I salvaged that information.

I also found creative places to write — some branches in a magnolia tree that grew in our back yard, under a blanket tent in my bedroom, and my favorite, on the roof of our house. I got in trouble for climbing up there. I’m sure my parents were concerned about my physical safety. However, I felt they were trying to stifle my creativity 😉 and sneaked up there as often as I could get away with it.

Around that same time God brought my life-long best friend, Rachel Miller, into my life. She wanted to be a writer, too, so the two of us collaborated on several projects and then drug our younger sisters along with us kicking and screaming. 

We wrote plays, mostly, and then performed them for our parents. Most of the time was spent arguing about who had what role, what we were supposed to say, how we were supposed to say it, and that, yes, one of us girls would have to act out the boy parts and there was no way to get around that. I don’t remember us getting past the rehearsal stage for very many of our plays. No record of those scripts exists today. Ah, well, we had a blast doing it (for the most part, when we weren’t arguing).

Another project Rachel and I started was the Pastime Periodical. Harkening back to the Pickwick Papers of Little Women, we decided to put together a bi-monthly variety magazine — produced entirely on scrap paper we got from a man in our church. Only one side was usable. The Periodical included family news, a picture page (with original artwork or a collection of pictures cut from magazines), poetry, and story serials. I still have those and pull them out now and then to reminisce and laugh. 

Most important, Rachel and I wrote our novels and sent a tape back and forth with us reading the newest portions to each other. Today, Rachel is in the final stages of self-publishing her novel and I have a good rough draft of mine, just waiting to be polished.

But then life happened. I got married and had kids. Rachel got involved in a ministry in Russia. She kept up with her writing better than I did. Mine fell by the wayside. In my mind, I had chosen a different path. I forgot all my story ideas. I laid aside my dream of one day seeing my work in print.

In 2008, someone told me about a month long writing challenge called National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo. I decided to give it a try. We were traveling through Alaska that month, raising funds for our mission in Africa. The month did not go well for me. I hadn’t written in years and didn’t have a clear idea of what I wanted to write. I hit about 20,000 words and got no further. 

More years passed. We moved to Africa and settled in there. In 2011, I was challenged to try NaNoWriMo again, only this time my kids were going to do it with me using NaNoWriMo’s Young Writers Program. The motivation and challenge of all of us participating together helped me plug my way through a book. A good idea and a little planning helped, too. 😉 At the end of the month, I had a rough draft of a nearly finished 50,000+ word novel. 

The following year, I read a book by Jeff Goins called You Are a Writer (So Start Acting Like One). That book was all the motivation I needed. I hadn’t considered myself a writer in so long that I’d lost sight of the gift God had given me. I’d lost sight of the love I had for the craft and the enjoyment I took away from it. I’d forgotten what it was like to write the words, feel them, pour them out on paper (or the computer screen) and then come up for air, back to the real world and out of the world that existed in my mind. I felt like I’d misused a talent that God had given me, had ignored it. That talent needed to be dusted off and used because it was a gift and not something to be ignored.

Later in the year, I did NaNoWriMo again and submitted both books to a publisher. They sent me my very first rejection letters. I still have those and look back on them proudly. A rejection letter is a badge of honor. You started something, finished it, and saw it through to a point of completion where you were willing to share it with others. 

Meanwhile, the idea for Talents had begun to grow in my mind. I thought about it all the time. I started it in July of 2013 but didn’t get very far with it. We had too many other things going on in our life at the time.

I worked on it again in November of 2013 and got more written. I had over 60,000 words but the book wasn’t finished. I kept plugging away at it for the next two years and finally wrote the last words in January of 2015. Then I edited, then got beta readers, then edited some more. I finally had it to the point where I could go no further on my own. It was as “perfect” as I could make it. 

Am I a writer because something I wrote is getting published? I don’t think so. I’m a writer because God made me a writer. I love writing. When I don’t get to do it for a while, I get restless and start wishing I could write new words. There are ideas in my head that need to get out. More ideas follow on the heels of those in a steady stream. I can understand why authors like Agatha Christie and Stephen King are so prolific. They have to get the ideas out to make room for more.

I am a writer. It feels good to be able to say those words.

Welcome to my blog

Years ago, I guest blogged on our family’s mission blog. It was fun. I enjoyed it! Until the paranoia set in, that is. I imagined all the people everywhere gleaning personal information about our family from my blog. We got a couple weird emails (I found out later these were spam), and I quit.

Flash forward to a few months ago. I had my first novel to the querying stage and was getting ready to either try to get it published or self-publish it (I was on the fence but leaning toward self-publishing at the time.) Turns out, most authors have at least a website and most have a blog. Who knew? It’s all part of that branding/getting your name out there thing that we’re supposed to do to promote our work.

My dear husband took care of everything. He reserved the URL and web hosting and started working on the web design. Meanwhile, I starting thinking of ideas of things to blog about — not limited to a writing theme, of course, that would get boring. On the contrary, I had dozens of ideas floating around in my head — recipes, life and people we know in Africa, some of my favorite sewing projects, I could go on and on.

I really should have written them down. It’s a well known fact I have a bad memory.

The website came online and I couldn’t remember any of those ideas.

I know they will come back once I’m not so nervous and excited about having my own website and blog. This time I’ll take notes. So…

Welcome to my blog. I hope you enjoy it in the months to come. I know I will. 🙂