Friday, December 31, 2010

A Silly Thing

You guys! For, like, a week I've been worried about something. Something small and easily discoverable, but if discovered to be true it would become something big and stupid. So I've avoided discovering it. I'd rather worry that I messed up than know I messed up. Wouldn't you? Because then there is always the chance that I didn't mess up.

I had to know, though.

I had to know whether or not I had neglected to put my phone number in my contact information on the cover letter I sent with my picture book manuscript. Duh! But I honestly couldn't remember even thinking about it until well after I'd mailed the darn thing.

This morning I got up early and chopped veggies so the beef stew could cook for 11 hours on low instead of 5.5 hours on high, and since it was quiet and calm and dark it seemed like a good time to either squelch the worry or learn a lesson for next time. Either way, I could stop worrying. I opened Word. I opened coverletter.docx. I scrolled down to the bottom...

I'm not a doofus. Well, not all the time. And not when I mailed my awesome poem that any publisher would be lucky to have and turn into a picture book for preschool-age children. Now I'll know, when they don't call by April, that it was because they don't love me like they should, and not because they just couldn't find my number.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Nice Christmas. How About You?

Yesterday, I spent the day with my family. None of us got out of our PJs except Lulu, whose jammies got all wet when she was trying out the new toothbrush Santa left her. She changed into the blue jean leggings I gave her and the SuperCool sweater she got from our CA relatives. She looked way cuter than I did, as she should.

Today, I am spending the day with Nana and Poppop. 'Nuff said.

Can't talk about Christmas without mentioning presents, can I? Maybe you can. I cannot. I need a new bookshelf. The Grandpa and Meme sent me books and books and books and books. Yay for books! I am particularly looking forward to reading One Year to a Writing Life: Twelve Lessons to Deepen Every Writer's Art and Craft by Susan M. Tiberghien. My plan is to read a chapter a month for the next year (because that's the obvious plan, right?). We'll see how that goes. You know me... I also got a SLOW COOKER! A Great Big Slow Cooker. I have one, but it's small and the pot part doesn't come out. My new one (thank you, Moomie!) is 6 qts, has removable stoneware, and came with a tiny baby for melting chocolate or making single servings of soup or something else yummy. If you have any suggestions for what to make in a 1.5 cup slow cooker with just 1 temperature setting, let me know.

I hope you all had wonderful holidays, whatever you celebrate. I know that last year around this time I promised to post more (possibly I even said every day) and that I failed miserably, but this year I have written it into my schedule (a post for another day) so am planning to do better. You too, okay.

Oh! One more thing. You should check out Septembermom's blog Write With Pictures. She posts a beautiful photo every day during the week for you to use as a writing prompt. It's a lot of fun. And, I think, needs way more traffic. Go see her!

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Overnight Cinnamon Rolls

Christmas 2010 023

Hello, old friend.
Remember me? We met yesterday afternoon.
You were doughy and smelled of cinnamon.
I was covered in flour.

Christmas 2010 024
You have grown some since we were last together.

Christmas 2010 025
Can I interest you in a sauna?
It's a very special sauna.
With the butter and sugar you're sitting in,
it will be like getting a tan in a sauna while sitting in a hot tub.
Or a hot caramel bath...
I promise not to let you burn.
See you soon, then. Enjoy yourself.

Christmas 2010 014
I will be!

Christmas 2010 038

Hi, again!
You look wonderful!
Ooo... You're all gooey...

Christmas 2010 041
I'm afraid you're not going to like what comes next...

Christmas 2010 043
At least we, I mean, I have my memories...


Friday, December 24, 2010

LL Says:

A little while ago, Lulu and I were checking Santa's locatioin on NORAD Tracks Santa, and we clicked the video from the Taj Mahal. The voice over said, "This video was captured..." and Lulu gasped and cried, "Santa was captured?!"

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Pete Says:

The other day the 4 of us piled into the car for the hour+ drive to Moomie's house. We were about halfway there when Husbandguy said, "There's Santa on a motorcycle."

Pete said, "Where?!" We showed her and she said, disappointed, "Oh. I thought you said Nana on a motorcycle."

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Remember When?

Hey! Remember when I used to blog about my kids? Remember "Pete Says:" and "The Name Giver"? Remember when I used to post cute little poems about lost teeth and not wanting to nap (I sent that one off as a potential picture book, by the way...)? I should do that again!


Oh! I've got something it's a Pete Says:

Pete has had her picture taken with the same Santa since she was almost 2 (same mall, same man, very good at his job - and he's also a civil war reenacter! - I don't know how to spell that...) This year she is almost 9. So she's just the right age to, you know, be in on the secret of the Mall Santas. Know what I mean? Last year she made a comment that made me think she might be suspicious about the true identity of the person who leaves her gift under the tree, but she only said 1 thing and never mentioned it again. This year I asked her if she talks about Santa with her friends and she said, no, that they don't believe in him anymore.

I asked her what she thinks and she said, "You told us that the Santa we see at the mall is the real one and all the others are his helpers so I believe that."

On the one hand, it's fun to be the Santa for another year. On the other hand, it would also be fun for her to be in on it and be my partner in crime creating the magic for her sister. But, it's not my place to tell her, and I got one more super cute Santa picture with both of my babies this year.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Hi there!

Have you missed me? I admit I was concerned that you might be tired of me whining about my writing all the time so I took a break. Unfortunately for you, I'm back, and I don't have anything else to write about except writing...

I currently have 2 rejections pending. I know rejection is a big part of being a writer so I thought I'd go ahead and get started on it. For 1 of my submissions, I wrote a cover letter. That was, I believe, more difficult than writing the original piece had been! It's craziness, I tell ya! I did it though, and if I don't hear back about it by mid-April, I'll be able to add 1 to my rejected tally.

Whoa! This post is really negative. Sorry.

The positive side of that is that I've had practice now with cover letters and won't be so thrown by the next one. Hopefully...

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Does this happen to all writers?

I was feeling glowy and proud of this story I wrote.

Then I submitted it somewhere.

Now it seems trite and shallow and unpublishable, and I can't read it anymore.

I'm pretty sure I'm on my way to my very first rejection for several reasons, but not because the story isn't good. It is, and I will be submitting it other places too.

Once I get out of this inadequacy funk I'm in.

Friday, November 19, 2010

I Can't Do It

Apparently, self-imposed deadlines like NaNoWriMo, where nothing is at stake but my confidence and pride, aren't enough motivation for me. Especially when I can say I accomplished something, even if it isn't the 50,000 words necessary to "win" NaNo this year. Instead of slogging along, writing for the sake of word count, I'm going to start editing the first Tallulah Blue story and gathering ideas for the next and the next.

Because you guys are so supportive all the time (thank you!), I know you're not going to beat me up about this, and don't worry, I'm not beating myself up about it either. I'm proud of what I accomplished. NaNo was good for me this year, even if I didn't win. Maybe next year, I'll go into it even more prepared and get to the end. Maybe not. We'll see. Next year, you do it with me?


And while we're on the topic of writing (not that I write about anything else these days), please visit Shannon's blog ( She's got this cool anonymous critique thing going on where writers can post their work anonymously and we can give feedback in the comments. She posted her first volunteer yesterday (it's not me). Check it out!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010


NaNo word count: 26,033. I'm a little behind the NaNo suggested word count and quite a bit behind where I'd like to be, but I'm on track and can totally get caught up. Apparently I'm not good at writing from beginning to end because today I had an idea about how to add some conflict to my first Tallulah story so I just started writing that one again. The second one is completely tension free, too, which is why I flaked out, I think, but hopefully my brain is working on that behind my back and will surprise me with an awesome tension-filled gift of an idea. Come on, brain! I love surprises!! Please don't make me wait until Christmas.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Not a NaNo Day

Maybe I'll feel inspired later, but this morning, all I could muster was about 1,000 words for a total of 23,814. What I'm writing now isn't working for me. It is meandering and without tension. Do you think it would be okay to completely change direction again? I am definitely not writing anything beginning to end here. My best hope, I think, is that I will have enough material when December rolls around to patch together a couple of editable pieces, kind of like a Frankenstein's monster kind of thing, only prettier and for children.

Maybe I'll get away from the computer and try to write a sort of outline...

Friday, November 12, 2010

NaNoWriMo, Day 12

Word total? 12,599. Next time I write, which will probably be Monday, I'll be halfway there! Appropriate, considering that Monday is the 15th...

I suppose I could have written one more word to make the total round, but I'm enjoying the uncertain, teetering-on-the-edge-ness of the 99. It's satisfying. Not comforting. Just satisfying.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Maybe I AM a Writer!

Those of you who write for a living or who haven't just recently discovered your creativity in a dusty shoe box under the bed (so, like, all 4 of you?) probably won't be impressed by this, but I found it thrilling and so I'm going to share.

Yesterday the family and I piled into the car and went to the mall in search of Pants for Pete. On the way home, a story started writing itself in my head. It seemed to have potential so I took a moment to get the first few sentences down when we got home. Then, since Lulu had fallen asleep in the car and Pete had gotten right into her jammies and watched TV with Husbandguy and I wasn't needed for anything, I kept writing. All the way to the end! Guys! I haven't done that in years, just sat down and written a story from beginning to end.

Of course, the story is terrible. Everything I write is terrible and rough at first, but it was (like I said) thrilling to come away from the computer with more than just another idea. And it's good in its terribleness with all the potential and everything.


So you know, I may or may not have time to increase my NaNoWriMo word count today. Everyone is home from school/work, and our drains stopped draining this morning (a thing which may or may not be the result of an absentminded mistake on my part) so NaNo might not get Wri-en today. It's okay. I have the whole rest of the Mo.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Day 10

Hi. I'm running out of interesting things to share about my NaNo adventure so I'll just tell you my word total and then share something cute that happened in the car this morning.

Word total: 20,103. (woohoo!)

Cute thing: Lulu was singing a sweet song she learned in RE (religious education - it's like Sunday school without the Jesus - unless they're studying Christianity...). I don't remember the words, but after singing it about 14 times she asked Husbandguy to sing with her. Because he's a stick-in-the-mud man engineer, he said he'd rather just listen. She told him that he didn't have to do the hand motions, he could just sing. I was driving and commented that I didn't realize there were hand motions, that I couldn't see them since I was driving.

Next thing I knew, Lulu was singing again, and in my rear view mirror I could see tiny hands doing the hand motions to go along with her song. Awww...

My monkey has always been a problem solver.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010


17,588! Whew! This is fun.

I have to admit that today I just stopped writing the first story and moved on to the second. The first one doesn't really have an ending, but I know that it is finished and will figure out how when the writing is done. Does that make sense? There wasn't any more to write about Detective Tallulah so I just stopped. I've moved on to Tallulah planning Thanksgiving, which is again based a little on real life. My monkey provides me with great material! Thanks, monkey!!

Monday, November 8, 2010

NaNo Day 8

I didn't write over the weekend and I spent the morning at Lulu's school reading with 4 & 5 year-olds so I'm not as much ahead as I was, but I'm still getting there.

My Day 8 word count is 14,295.

I'm 800 words short of where I'd like to be today, but I can make that up in a day of focused writing. What I wrote today is just awful, but it moves the story forward.

What I learned today:
  • The quality of my writing will apparently vary immensely from day to day, but I remember that that is what editing is for.
Now you say, "Duh. Didn't you already know that?"

Nobody commented on my excerpt...

Friday, November 5, 2010

Day What? Day 5 Already?! (an excerpt for you!)

Today when I emerged from my NaNo daze at 12,634 words, I felt like skipping. Yesterday I mentioned the many-branched growth that is my NaNo word collection, and which I was uncertain would yield anything coherent. Remember? I was asking myself how my character would go from being left behind in her classroom to being sent home sick to taking a trip to the mall with her mother to finding a mystery to solve, and today the mystery presented itself. The Good Dad side of Husbandguy showed up in my text today and solved that problem for me. Here's a taste:

Ducking down behind the arm of the couch, Tallulah pulled out her magnifying glass and peered at her father. He was blurry so she stood up just a little and looked closer. He still didn’t seem to notice her. Whatever was on the news must have been very interesting. Tallulah held her magnifying glass over his arm and peered closely at the hairs there. Then she made another “cursive” note in her notebook. Standing up more, Tallulah peered at her father’s ear. Ears look weird close up, she thought. He still didn’t notice her.

“Hmmm…” Tallulah said, squatting down to write in her notebook again. Then she stood back up to look at her father’s ear some more and was surprised to find his eye where his ear should be.

“WHAT ARE YOU DOING?!” he said loudly and suddenly.

“AAAAA!” Tallulah was startled. She fell backward onto the floor, dropping her notebook. Her father laughed. “Daddy!” she said. “Did you know I was there?”

“I did,” he confessed. “What are you doing looking in my ear? And where did you get that hat and the magnifying glass?”

“From Mommy,” Tallulah answered. She picked up her things and climbed up on the couch next to her father.

He took her notebook from her and looked at it. “I can’t read this!” he declared. “Is it some sort of code? What did you write about my ear?”

“It’s cursive?” Tallulah said. “Duh?”

“Oh. Cursive?” her father said, taking her magnifying glass and looking again at Tallulah’s notebook. “I see… Well, I still can’t read it. You better not have said anything bad about me in there.” He tried to look stern, but Tallulah could see that his eyes were laughing.

“Of course not!” Tallulah told him. “You’re Daddy!” She took her magnifying glass back and looked at him through it. “I’m a detective. Detective Tallulah! Do you need any mysteries solved?”

Tallulah’s father raised his eyebrows. “Mysteries? Hmm… I don’t know… Are you a good detective?”

“Yes!” Tallulah declared. She told him about discovering the way the pictures in her books were made and the dirt on the counter at the mall and the sales lady’s giant eyeball, but she didn’t know if that counted as a mystery. “So?” she said to him. “Any mysteries? You can hire me!”

“Hire you? I don’t know. How much do you charge?”

Tallulah hadn’t thought about that. “I’m free!” she announced.

“Free? I think I can swing that,” her father said. “Although you won’t make much money if you solve all your mysteries for free.”

“Good point,” Tallulah said. “The first mystery is free… Then after that…” She thought about it and said, “After the first one, it costs eight thousand dollars!”

“Wow!” her father exclaimed. “That’s steep! You must be good. I hope I don’t need more than one mystery solved.”

“Steep?” Tallulah asked.

“Expensive,” her father said.

“Okay, maybe not that much. Let me think about it. The first one’s free…” she coaxed.

“Right!” her father said. “I know just what mystery I need solved.”

Tallulah took out her notebook and flipped over the top page to a blank one. “Go ahead,” she said, her pencil ready to write.

“When I got home today after work, I changed my clothes like I do every day,” Tallulah’s father said. Tallulah didn’t think this part needed to be written down so she waited. He continued, “I took off my shoes and my work socks, which are black, and I went to the bathroom.” Tallulah still didn’t hear a mystery so she still waited to write. “When I came back from the bathroom,” her father concluded, “one of my socks was gone from where I had left it on the bed. Can you help me find it?”

There was the mystery! Tallulah wrote in her notebook with real letters this time. She wrote, FIND DADYS BLAK SOK. “Got it!” she said, jumping down from the couch. Then she stopped. This was a real mystery. She wasn’t sure where to start.

“What’s wrong?” her father asked.

She didn’t want him to think she couldn’t solve his mystery so Tallulah said, “Nothing. I’m thinking.”

“Okay,” her father said. “Good plan!” He smiled at Tallulah and then went back to watching the news. “Let me know when you find my sock.”

“You’ll be the first to know when I solve your mystery,” Tallulah answered.

It's cute, right? Remember, it's very raw, completely unedited, permission-to-suck stuff, but it gives my story some continuity. I was pleased. This is good. And it helps that I know how her search is going to go and made a big bold note of it at the end of my document, since chances are good that I won't get much time for writing this weekend. I'll have a starting place on Monday.

I'm a little concerned about something new, though. What if my story is finished before I reach 50,000 words? It's for elementary age children, just starting to read chapter books, like a Junie B. Jones sort of thing. I looked it up, and it seems that 50,000 words is actually about 10 JBJ books! Hmm...

So today's lessons:
  • Keep writing. It does work itself out in the end.
  • Keep writing, even if you end up with 4 or 5 books in the end (that's my answer to my new concern)!
Are you using my lessons for inspiration? Just wondering...

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Day 4 Word Total: 10,188!

I'm all caught up! I'm all caught up!

And I managed to write 3,000+ words in spite of laundry and lunch out with Husbandguy! Go me!!

What I learned today? Good question...
  • I guess I learned that it really is important to just write. If you get hung up on the fact that your story seems to have too many branches going out in all different directions, you might use that as an excuse not to write it, but if you just go with it, one of 2 things will happen: either they'll all come together in the end into a beautiful tree that children will want to climb while their parents picnic in the shade or they'll just keep going awry until you've got a gangly, precarious mess of text that may or may not be useless. NaNoWriMo is about that, I think! It's called Permission to Suck. For real.

I Wrote this Yesterday

Old Mother Befrigerator (<-- that's me)
Went to the refrigerator
To pack her sweet girls some lunch.
But there was no more
So she went to the store
And and bought yummy things to munch.

It's okay for you to groan out loud. You won't hurt my feelings. I will confess to muttering, "Ouch," after I wrote it. I will not confess to using a rhyming dictionary to come up with the 4th line. That is a nasty and unfounded rumor!

What I learned yesterday for NaNoWriMo:
  • Everyday things are going to take time away from my writing, but I can still sit for an hour and get something done.
Day 3 Word Count: 7,044!

That puts me a little behind, but as soon as I throw the whites in the machine, I'll be getting caught up. I am hoping to top 10,000 today...

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Explore This Feeling with Me

Recently, I've been thinking it would be nice to have another baby.

WHAT?! you say. We thought you were done having babies?

I am. For a couple of reasons. Husbandguy and I really feel like our family is complete. Two children is enough for us. You know? Also, when I had Lulu, I told the doctor (12 dozen times) that yes, indeed, I was certain I wanted my tubes tied. So having another baby would not be a simple and natural thing for us anymore. We would really have to want it and it could end up being expensive and ultimately possibly disappointing.

This last is the thing that is keeping me level-headed about all of this. I realize that I don't actually want another baby. I remember that I loved being pregnant both times (I was very lucky to have easy pregnancies) and I adore those sleepless nights with a newborn who can be soothed by simply swinging on your shoulder while you talk on the phone or in your arms while you doze in the rocker or across your chest while you wash dishes. I wouldn't mind another chance to try nursing again. Third time's the charm, right? But as wonderful as all of these things are, we made the choice 4 years ago to not go through it again. We had good reasons (beyond not being outnumbered), and they are still very valid.

So what's the deal? Why the feeling?

The answer to that question is found, I believe, in my reaction to Pete struggling to find motivation at school earlier this year. I told her that if she didn't shape up and take some responsibility, I was going to pull her out of the school she's been going to for the past 5 years and home school her.

Ah Ha! you say. Right? No? Nobody? Okay then. Here it is:

This whole empty nest thing is getting to me! It's lonely here without my little monkey. For 4 years I had at least one child with me most of the time, learning, laughing, whining, pestering, making crafts, making messes, just generally amazing me every day. And even when Lulu started preschool and both girls were gone, it was only for a few days a week for a few hours at a time, barely enough time to do a load of laundry, let alone feel lonely!

Here I am now with all this time for writing and introspection and housework, things I've wished I had time for for years (well, maybe not the housework). And I'm loving the writing part of it. So far it's like being pregnant was for me - a little uncomfortable at times, but mostly easy, with the joy of something growing in spite of me (but absolutely not inside of me). The housework hasn't quite figured out how to fit itself into my schedule - if my housework was Pete's school work, we'd be home schooling. But the introspection! Oh man! I have never talked to myself this much ever, I don't think. At least not since I was 5. And I suspect that 5 year-old me was way more interesting than 36 year-old me is. Yikes!

Seriously. Yikes!

It's good, though, that I see this urge for what it is. It's good, too, that I get how difficult it would be to act on it anyway. It's also good that I confessed my feelings to HG because maybe, just maybe, instead of a baby, I can get a laptop and get out of this place and write somewhere else.

Laptops are less expensive than babies.


On another note:

My Day 2 NaNoWriMo word count is 5,021. A good solid number. More than halfway to the point where I gave up 2 years ago. At this rate, I will reach and surpass the dreaded 10,000 word mark before the weekend!

What I learned today:
  • Full credit for this lesson goes to Charmaine over at Wagging Tales. In her Day 2 post, she reminded us that making changes to text already written wasn't a good idea time-wise and suggested that we simply make the change going forward and make a bold note of it so we can retrofix it later (that word works, right?). For example, I realized today that the character I had been calling Abigail for the past 4 pages was actually named Iris. I had written Abigail so many times, though, that to go back and change all the occurrences would have taken a lot of time and completely interrupted the flow of my writing. Instead, I made a note to myself right in the text that said, "ABIGAIL'S NAME IS ACTUALLY IRIS" and went on with the story using the name Iris. And what I learned is that I should visit Wagging Tales every day before I start writing. Thank you, Charmaine.

Monday, November 1, 2010

NaNoWriMo Day 1

I almost forgot that today was the first day of NaNoWriMo! Luckily I remembered in plenty of time to drag myself away from whatever mind numbing waste of time I was doing in time to knock out 2000+ words before Husbandguy got home for lunch.

Today I learned:
  • My audience is even younger than I thought.
  • Lulu's adventures do translate into cute stories.
  • Today I am able ignore the little voice in my head that says, "This is too terribly simple. That character should have a name. You should go back and write what she was feeling right now instead of going on. Etc." Turns out there's another voice in my head that knows those things can wait.
  • If I get to write every day, I will need to write 1700 words a day to win NaNoWriMo. Since I don't get a lot of time to write on the weekends, I am shooting for closer to 2500 words a day. Today it was easy. Tomorrow?
  • The NaNo website is busy at 1:30 in the afternoon on Day 1.
Oh hey! How was your Halloween? Me? I'm glad it's over. Halloween is my least favorite holiday. Followed closely by Valentine's Day (that was the day I was diagnosed with MS, but I still like to make cards for my girls).

Monday, October 25, 2010

It Feels Like Cheating

When you're in the swing of things and you're writing like you should be and words are appearing on the screen and your story or whatever it is is getting plumper and you're not stopping every 5 seconds to check your frontier, it feels like cheating.

You know?

Because you're working, but it's not work, and it's stimulating and fun.

It will be a different story when blockage occurs (not "if," when).

Friday, October 22, 2010

YA Fiction and NaNoWriMo

Hi! I'm back. Follies is done for now. Sadly, they didn't want me to create the video for the DVD version so I'm all what-do-I-do-now and stuff.

Pete, by the way, was awesome in the Follies. She had ZERO stage fright, although she was nervous, of course. She spoke up and didn't miss a cue and got a ton of applause just for her. She wants to do it again. I am loving this.

While the Grandpa and Meme were here for the show, they gave me their notes on the story I was working on. The other one that I wrote a long time ago. They had some good things to say and some great advice. They thought it seemed more like young adult fiction than adult, which I hadn't considered before. But when I did, it made sense and opened up a whole new path for me to take. I considered working on it for NaNoWriMo, but it is against the rules to have anything written (other than an outline or some notes) before November 1 so I'm working on it between now and then.

Then, when November rolls around, I'm taking a break from all of my current projects and trying something new. A couple of years ago when I did NaNoWriMo, I didn't make it. I quit part way through. I gave up at just under 10,000 words. I do that, give up, when it looks like I'm going to fail at something, because for me it's better to not try and not fail than to have that failure on my record. I'm a chicken.


I'm ready to try again, though. I may not make it to 50,000 words. Especially considering I'm going to try to pull something completely new out of my hat. But I have an idea (inspired by Lulu's recent adventure) and I have in mind some books I've read recently (The Graveyard Book, the Series of Unfortunate Events books) that I enjoyed and a new audience (YA) to consider so I am hopeful that I'm not a total nut job. And I admit to having written 109 words to help get me started because I don't want to sit down on November 1 and go, "Duuhhhhh..." (drool). That would be unproductive. And gross.

How about you? Do you have a novel floating around in your brain that you just haven't had the time or motivation to write? If you sign up, let me know! We can be writing buddies.

And also, I'll be sharing the joy that is my NaNoWriMo adventure here with you so check back!!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Listen to This

Lulu: Mom, how do you spell "air"?
Me: You mean like the air we breath?
Lulu: No. "Air" like in "Mary."
Me: Oh. A-R. Then you need a Y to make the ee sound.
Lulu (writing): A - R - Y. Mary. Bloody Mary.


Me to Husbandguy: Why is my 4 year-old writing about Bloody Mary?
HG: Apparently someone told her a ghost story at school.
Me: Oh...
HG: I told her it was a drink so she would go to sleep.
Me: You're a good dad.
HG: She thinks it's silly that people make drinks with tomato juice and celery.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Kids. In a Box.

Last Friday, Pete and I packed sleeping bags into the trunk and gathered our toothbrushes and headed out to the church for a soup-kitchen-style dinner and a loooong night of sleeping in a cardboard box on the playground. It was supposed to be similar, for the elementary children, to what a homeless person might experience. Since the weather was nice (clear with temps in the 50s), it turned out to be a lot more like camping than homelessness, I am sure, but the point of the night wasn't to cause our children to be miserable (that comes when they're in high school and do the cardboard city in December); it was to stimulate discussion about homelessness and what we can do to help people who don't have homes. That part was a success! For our family, at least. Pete and I are exploring the social justice volunteer opportunities through the church and will be participating in as many as we can (after Follies). I intend to include Lulu in as much as I can too. She was too little for sleeping in the boxes, but she had a lot of questions about soup kitchens when we were talking about it beforehand.

Some other nice things happened at the event. Pete made 2 new friends. Unfortunately they go to the late service and we go to the early one so she won't see them much, but it was neat to watch her make friends. This seems to be an area where Lulu excels over Pete, usually. Maybe she's rubbing off on her.

Also, Pete played the prelude for the little worship service we had after dinner. She played Für Elise. Beautifully, of course. And even let me turn the page for her without seeming all embarrassed that I'm her mom. I got to ring the gong, but Pete's piano was prettier.

I did not sleep. It didn't help that someone decided that Friday night would be a good night for some Midnight Leaf Blowing. What was that about?! I'm not kidding, though. Someone nearby was using a leaf blower in the middle of the night. Also, 2 trains went by on the tracks near the church. There was only 1 emergency that required a siren nearby. No wild or stray animals wandered by our boxes. Although there was a giant cricket thing in my box when I slithered in to go to sleep. It was hideous! I'm not a fan of bugs. And Pete didn't walk in her sleep. I was mildly worried about this. She, in fact though, fell asleep fairly quickly and stayed asleep all night. That was nice. In the morning she was even rested enough to go to her swimming lesson at 8. We stopped for coffee and a pastry in the way (she had a smoothie, not coffee) and then met Husbandguy and Lulu at the pool.

And then later? After real breakfast?

I took a nap.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Oh! I'm So Behind!!

I am so sorry! I am so behind in my blog visiting and commenting. Please don't give up on me. As soon as I finish the giant powerpoint presentation for the Follies (which includes converting one more DVD to video, a process that takes a long time with StupidVista), learn all my lines and the rest of the songs, finish putting together my props and costumes, clean the piano room and my room and the bathrooms, and do the laundry (and then clean my room again because it will all end up unfolded in baskets on my floor unless I do something with it once it's washed), THEN I promise I will visit each of you and stay to chat for a while. I PROMISE!! PLEEEASE DON'T LEAVE ME!

Friday, October 8, 2010

Brain Scan!

Every 2 years, my neurologist likes for me to have an MRI. That, there, to the left, is an image from my last one 2 years ago. Weird, right? I actually think it's kind of cool. Although, if I had to see an actual head transected like that, not just an image, I'm not sure I'd still think it was cool.

Today was my this-year one. Just like last time, my MRI was done in a trailer behind the building. It's strange to go outside for a medical test, but I think it would only be a problem if we were having a hurricane or tornado or something.

MRI's are boring; it's not like you can read a book when they're scanning your brain. And loud; they gave me ear plugs (actually, they put them in my ears for me, which was weird). And not particularly comfortable because you're not allowed to move. I passed the time trying not to get dizzy from laying on my back so long. And counting the knocks and bangs and boops and buzzes. And discovering that I have a song for the Follies memorized. That song then played in my head for the remainder of the time, even when I was thinking about other things. It was like a soundtrack. It was there while I wrote the beginning of Lulu's story. It was there while I relived the woman stabbing me in the arm again and again trying to inject dye (there are only so many times a person can say sorry and expect a gracious response - she used hers up and then some - although I didn't fault her - I just didn't excuse her eventually). It was neat (the song, not the stabbing). My brain can multitask. Even while it's being bombarded by resonance!

So that's done for another 2 years. Well, once I find out what it showed. And pay the couple-of-thousand-dollars we'll owe for it...

Thursday, October 7, 2010

More About Lulu's Abandonment

I asked Lulu a bunch of questions about what happened when her class left her behind. Because I think there's a chance this could be a really sweet story. And I found out this:

When she came out of the bathroom and was all alone she:
  1. started to cry,
  2. stopped crying and walked around the classroom,
  3. she didn't step on anyone's work (she goes to a Montessori school, remember?),
  4. then she sat in the "thinking chair" and thought about what to do (this is my favorite part),
  5. she realized she knew where they were and decided to just go on her own,
  6. she looked for a hall pass to the cafeteria, but there wasn't one so she just went without,
  7. she walked all by herself down the LOOOOOOONG hallway,
  8. and managed to beat her class to the cafeteria because they had taken the scenic route.
My child is very proud of herself. As well she should be.

Aw! My baby!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

I Know You're Jonsing for a Story Update

I am so unmotivated to work on this. It doesn't help that there is plenty of other stuff to work on for the Follies. And that there was a big to-do recently about closing my girls' school (it's not going to happen - whew!). And that Husbandguy's parents were her a week-and-a-half ago and the TV was on constantly, making it difficult to focus, since it's just on the other side of the room from the computer.

But I have printed it out and fumbled with it in the carpool line while I wait for my children so progress is being made. Sort of. You know, the kind of progress where a week and a half go by and four sentences get changed. Still, it's progress...

And also, I'm working on other stuff. I thought Lulu's abandonment experience might be a cute tale. We'll see...

Sorry. I'll be back for real after the Follies is done.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Oh! That Kid!

While I was eating my lunch today, Lulu's teacher called and left a voice mail. Husbandguy was there while I listened to it and looked alarmed when I gasped, but as the message went on I realized that he should really hear it for himself and just held up my wait-a-minute finger instead of explaining. Here is what the message said:

Lulu was in the bathroom before lunch, getting ready to go with the class to the cafeteria. While she was still in there, the class lined up and left. They left! They left my baby all alone in the great big empty classroom and went on to lunch!! Obviously it was an oversight. They are very careful, usually, head-counts, double-checks, etc., but somehow Lulu's absence from the line got overlooked. I was shocked, of course, and am very appreciative of the phone call. We'll be talking about this at the parent-teacher conference coming up, but come on. I'm sure Lulu isn't the first child to ever get left behind (physically, not academically).

Anyway, the message continued: When Lulu came out of the bathroom and realized she was alone, did she wait there for someone to find her? Did she cry or scream or give up? Of course not! She's my Lulu!! That kid gathered herself together and walked alone down the hall, the long hall (her classroom is at the end of the farthest hallway in the school) to the cafeteria and found her teacher. She then explained that she was "scared" when she came out and was alone but then felt "excited" that she had walked to the cafeteria alone. Oh, to have been a fly on the wall in those hallways!

I'm so proud of that kid!! I can't wait to hear her side of it all.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Two Things

First: I wish the dog wouldn't let the cat eat her (the dog's) food.

Then: At the mall the other day. there was a small stout woman with a bun of black hair on the back of her head near the top. Lulu, from atop her dad's shoulders, said this: "Yep. There's an Oopma Loompa." Then she said, "You don't see that every day."

I am usually sensitive to people's feelings and try to gently correct my children when they say something that could hurt someone's feelings, but OH MY GOSH! I had to laugh. A. The woman didn't hear her, and B. Lulu's observations, both of them, were very, very astute. And hysterical!

What socially insensitive thing have you done recently?

Tuesday, September 28, 2010


I know you're anxiously waiting for the next installment of Bel's Writing Adventure, but my in-laws are here and the Follies director is getting all anxious about the multimedia stuff I'm supposed to be working on and honestly, I haven't had a chance to write much. I promise, though, that as soon as I have something new to share, I'll bust out my keyboard and let you know. Okay?

Now, in the meantime, does anyone know how to get a Sn00kie hair bump without one of those hair bump thingies? I need to know by 1:00 today.


Saturday, September 25, 2010

Day 5 – Trudging Forward

Day 5: I did what I wanted to do; I rewrote the opening scene with her husband instead of her friend. It was not a difficult task to change the relationship and may have actually helped make the story more coherent. What is missing from the original relationship, though, is the emotion a person would feel if the partner that person had abandoned suddenly and unexpectedly showed up. How would she feel? What should she do? Does she still love him? What should she do about still loving him (or not)? This is my new challenge, and by challenge I mean thing I cannot readily and easily do, but it needs to be addressed to some extent in the beginning. So I printed the pages of rewritten material and will be performing literary plastic surgery with my pen over the weekend. I may or may not wear a surgical mask…

Since I was finished, then, thinking about this less-miserable mess of words, I pulled out my other story and went to work on the fantastic notes Septembermom had given me. I’ve added a paragraph and a couple of words here and there based on her recommendations, and it’s really coming along.

And then I found myself wandering through my house muttering, “Mud room… Front hallway… Wavy blonde hair…” and wondered if other writers talk to themselves as much as I do while they’re working. I actually wondered this out loud.

So? Do you?

(Next – Day Next: Dealing with dinner…)

Friday, September 24, 2010

Day 4, in which I consider whether it might not be the best idea to count the days.

I was thinking, are you really going to care what day it is when it’s day 627 and I blog about changing the word “and” on page 3 to “but”? Are you still going to be with me in a year-and-a-half? A girl can hope… But if not, I’ll just pretend you are and it’ll be just like now.

I was also thinking that you might be more interested in the changes I make to my gelatin-dessert-like mass that I’ve been referring to as a story, if you knew a little bit about it. Here’s a one-sentence summary for you:

A man tries to convince a woman to return to the family she abandoned.

You totally want to read it now, right? Yeah. No you don’t. But please do read this.

Day 4: I rewrote the pivotal dialogue at the end of the story. Originally it had been between the woman and a male friend, but I rewrote it, just to see, so it’s between the woman and her husband. I’m chewing on that now. There is definitely more opportunity for tension and conflict if the man is her husband rather than some random old friend. I think next I’ll try rewriting the beginning this way next and see what we get. Also, there is a bunch of stuff in the middle that is unnecessary to the story. It’s weird to chunk out big portions of your writing and just discard them, but it’s totally necessary sometimes. Changing the character will definitely make this easier.

And it feels like progress. It doesn’t look like much. But it feels like it.

(Up next: Day 5: more of the same…)

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Writing a Terrible Wrong (Day 3)

(you can read about Days 1 & 2 here).

Day 3: The typing is done. Finished. Fine (that’s “feenay” fine – it means end). The wretched text now resides in my “Working” folder. Whew! I didn’t do a ton of rewriting after I shook myself awake from the jaded trance I was in. Mostly I thought more about what the story is about and wrote a description of my protagonist, which, for some reason, didn’t include what she looks like… Sigh… Oh well. Something to do for Day 4.

Then I gave my other story, the one Talented Bel wrote 12 years ago, a once-over and rewrote the paragraph I shared with you to make it flow better (among other things). Now it says:

Her mother called to her from the porch. “Hi, honey.” She was standing on the top step with her hands hanging at her sides. She looked like she was trying not to wave.

It’s still not quite right, but I think that’s better, don’t you? Unfortunately I sent it to Septembermom to read before I changed that sentence… Kelly? Note the change, okay?

Day 3 wasn’t fantastic, but it wasn’t a bust. Right? I’m still going!

(Coming up: Day 4: Transformation! HAHAHAHAHAHA! Yeah right.)

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Because I Know You Want to Hear All About It But Are Too Shy to Ask...


I've got this miserable pile of random words that I half refer to as a story. I wrote about it a couple of days ago. Remember? Click here if not.

My plan now is to turn the stinky heap into something readable, and I am dragging you along on this tedious and painful journey. Welcome. And enjoy.

Day 1: You already know that Day 1 involved me giving up on the thing before I revisited my breakfast or melted into a puddle of inadequacy tears (yeah huh it’s a real thing!).

Day 2 (not consecutive days): I took on the role of the much needed unpaid intern and began just typing the stupid thing into Word. While I was typing, I did what any good unpaid intern would do, I silently criticized the awful unfocused-ness that I was wading through and thought about all the ways I could improve it. I didn’t get all the way through the “data entry” part of the chore yet, but when I had to set it aside to go pick up my girls from school, I took along my notebook and wrote down all the things that I, as my other self, had thought about while trying not to fall asleep on my keyboard. Things like: Who are the characters? Which of them are necessary? What are their actual roles? Should I change the setting (seriously thinking about this)? What is the point of the story (seriously wondering this too)? It felt like progress.

Then, having exhausted the literary journal full of short stories I’d been reading in the carpool line, I had quickly printed a story I’d found online to read instead. I just found it and printed it, not really looking at what it was about, just to have something to read. It turns out (you’re going to say, “No way!”) that it’s about the same thing as my “story.” Except that it takes place in Turkey, and even if I do change the setting of my story, it won’t have my protagonist in Turkey. Because I’ve never been to Turkey. Oh, and it’s been done. But I asked the same questions about this story that I had been thinking about with my story. Maybe this will encourage my words to get themselves in order and make sense, instead of swarming like rats in a sewer.

(Coming up – Day 3: More typing. Whee.)

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

I Need a Deadline, I Think

This whole being a grown-up and writing for my job thing isn’t going very well. For a couple of reasons. One is, you know, Follies, which is way easier to think about and work on than the stuff I get to claim all for myself. If something doesn’t work in Follies, I’m not the director and can look around like “Whose idea was that?”, and the congregation will appreciate the effort anyway.

The other is that I don’t have anything to be working toward so I don’t quite know what to be working on. It’s kind of like when I first stopped eating meat and was all unfocused and, “Well what do I eat now?” and my friend A-ME suggested I get a vegetarian cookbook, which gave me direction (the direction was just finding a vegetarian cookbook at first, but it was enough) and now I eat pizza with artichokes! Mmmm…

Sorry. Where was I going? Oh yeah…

I have several projects, new and old, that I rifle through every day. A little bit here. A word or 2 there. But I can’t seem to stick to anything. And when I get really uninspired I write something else not useful. The other day? I wrote a description of the back of my hand. Seriously.

I don’t have writer’s block. That would be easier to deal with, I think, because it’s a real problem real writers have and can’t just be chalked up to laziness or apathy. I do well with a goal, though, a deadline, a due date. But where do you get one of those when nobody is waiting for your work?

Thursday, September 16, 2010

One of My Favorite Things

Hi! Guess what! On Tuesday? This last one? The 14th, you know?

Follies rehearsals started!! Yay for Follies rehearsals!!

This year we have 30+ cast members at the start. The actual number will change as people drop out and whatever like they always apparently do, which last year allowed for the new upstart to pad her part until she had the most memorable role in the whole play (read about that here if you've forgotten). I had a hand in writing the show and in some of the multimedia stuff (which didn't get as big a laugh at the first rehearsal as I'd hoped it would, but people were distracted...); that's called "being on the production team." And the director is trying to get my character into every scene. Every scene. You know me. I don't mind.

Pete is in it with me this year. Since I helped with the script, I was able to write her a little recurring gag part that is going to be a big hit, I think. She's anxious, but I think that's because the little bit of "acting" she's done before involved, at most, 30 minutes of rehearsal on a Sunday morning right before the service in which she portrayed a (fantastic) bunny or a school child playing hopscotch (she was the only one who did the 1-2-1-2-1-2-1 right). She'll feel better about it in time for the show. I'm hoping she'll be bitten by the acting bug because that can be such a confidence booster!

The only problem is that it's hard to focus on what I'm supposed to be doing and not spend the day searching the internet for props and costumes... I already bought a mustache... :D

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

First I Called Windows a Bad Word...

Here's a little bit of Random and Uninteresting for you.

This morning I was sorting through my floppy disk files again, looking for the little poem I'd seen the other day that I thought I might clean up and enter in Cheerios Spoonful of Stories contest next March. I didn't find what I was looking for, but I did find a folder containing a file that I didn't want to keep so I told Windows to delete the unwanted folder, which was living inside another more important folder with all my files from the floppy disks on it. And Windows said, "You want I should permanently delete this large, full, important folder that contains the other little useless folder?" And I said, "Sure!"


Then I said, "Oops." That was when I called Windows a bad name, but right after that I thanked Windows for not living in a vacuum and not really meaning permanent when it said "permanent."

Then I spent the next 2 hours recovering my files. That didn't go so well, but the upside of the bungled recovery process is that I now have 1 - 3 extra copies of everything I had deleted. Ever. From my flash drive. I'm calling it quits for today, I think.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

LL Says:

Breakfast Conversation in Bel's Kitchen

Lulu: I've been practicing, Mom!
Me: Practicing what, Lulu?
Lulu (tucking her little fist into her armpit and pumping her elbow up and down): ARM FARTS!

Bet you wish you ate breakfast with us!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Hi. I'm Bel. And I'm a Moron...

Now you say, "Hi Bel," and I'll share my story.

Remember I mentioned the floppies with all my stuff from when people still stored stuff on floppies (I'll get back to the floppies in a minute)? And then, I mentioned I finished my story? Right? You're up to date, right? Okay, well, when I went to transfer my story from the notebook I had written it in to the computer so I could actually edit it, I discovered that it is so completely boring that no one will want to read it. I know. I know. It is literally the first draft and is a LOOOOONG way from being done. But it was so boring that I couldn't even TYPE it. It made me really uncomfortable. REALLY uncomfortable. I think I might need to hire a nonjudgmental transcriptionist to type it for me so I can look at it again. Except they would have to work for free... Because I don't make any money in my job (as the World's Greatest Mom)... Maybe an intern...

So I was so miserable and doubt-ridden that I thought it best to just put the mess aside and look for something else to work on. What I found (among the floppy documents) was a story I wrote in 1997. 1997! And it was pretty good. It needed a lot of work, but it has way more potential than my more recent stuff (I teared up when I got to the end - and I wrote it!). So I edited it and sent it to the Grandpa and Meme for input and will continue to edit it (right - boring again - you get it - moving on - sorry).

Here's the moron part: 13 years ago, my sentences didn't all start with "Suddenly" or "Then he" and they didn't all end with some phrase that TELLS the reader what they're supposed to know or think. There was way more showing and giving and flowing-of-words and action, all good things for a story to contain when a writer trusts her reader. Here. Read this:

Her mother called to her. “Hi, honey." She was standing at the top of the front porch steps with her hands hanging at her sides. She looked like she was trying not to wave.

Right? Simple, not perfect but "She looked like she was trying not to wave"! I haven't written a sentence like that in more than a decade, I don't think. "She looked like she was trying not to wave"! Where did that come from? I know I wrote it. I remember getting all teary the first time I wrote the end of the story so I must have written the middle, right? What happened to the part of my brain that wrote stuff like that? It's gone... No... It's turned off... No... It has ATROPHIED! That has to be it, right? RIGHT? (just say, 'right' - I'm sorry for grabbing your shoulders and shaking you just then)

So what has happened to me in the past 13 years to allow my brain to stop functioning, Let's explore this together...
  • I finished school, which led to less having to write on a regular basis and fewer challenging discussions with peers. Hmm...
  • I moved in with Husbandguy and got married (yes, in that order), which led to more time in front of the TV and fewer challenging discussions in general. Hmm...
  • My best friend and I had a falling out and then she moved away and we're still only moderately in touch (hi, PSP!).
  • I had a series of low-level, non-creative jobs, which involved no writing or challenging discussions, and which I quit or was fired or laid off from. The quitting allowed me opportunities to write resignation letters at least...
  • I had 2 children, which led to reading way more books with illustrators included in the "by" and fewer books discovered while randomly scanning someone else's bookshelf. Hmm...
  • I didn't write. Not even letters or journals, and recently not even emails longer than a sentence or 2. Until I started my blog, which has gone up and down in creativity and quality. Hmm...
MedlinePlus says that atrophy can be reversed with exercise if it's caused by not using the muscle, and that seems to be the case here, even though the brain isn't technically a muscle...

Hey! Now you've got something to look forward to! Just imagine! In [insert lengthy time period here], after much "exercising" (writing and also writing), I'm going to be an interesting and compelling writer again. And then we can all sigh a big sigh of relief and enjoy my recovered brilliance together. Hang in there!


Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Today I Am Wondering

  • How to make a boring dialogue-driven story into something compelling to read.
  • Whether the story is actually compelling.
  • If it is possible to lose talent!
  • Whether we've scheduled Pete for too many activities this fall (it's really only Tuesdays that are full...).
  • Why it has to be 90º+ after Labor Day.
  • Whether 2 Honey Buns and 3 cups of coffee is really a good breakfast.
  • Whether Lulu's potty regression is only because of all the changes in her little life or if she needs a doctor.
  • Whether Pete's warts will clear up before her self esteem suffers and/or before Follies.
  • Who's going to clean this house.
  • Why I'm not motivated to work on my story (maybe see the first bullet...).
  • What I could work on instead.
  • How to work on the computer but stay offline.
  • Will our "free" roof really be free?

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

So Bel, How's the New Career Going?

Right? That's what you're wondering, right? Well, I'll tell you...

Last week was the girls' first full week of school and the week I had intended to start really writing every day. I did manage to squeeze in a little writing a couple of the days, and I read every day (a celebrated new addition to my daily schedule that involves being 30 minutes early for car-pool), but with volunteering and doctor appointments and procrastination, I didn't have time energy initiative to really start. [insert your very own random but valid excuse here - it'll be just as good as mine would be]

But guess what! Today, after I got home from the grocery store (crazy Real Life!) I finished the short story I've been working on for months. Go me! Now, when I say "finished" I mean that I got to the end of it, of the first draft. I do not mean that anyone will be allowed (or want) to read it. It's a mess. It's a confuddlement. It's terrible. YAY! Yay for very first, very rough, very finished drafts. And tomorrow I think I'll transfer it from my composition book, where it lives now because I knew I'd be more likely to finish it and not just editeditedit, to the computer so I can edit, edit, edit. Then maybe someone can read it... By January... We'll see...

Have you started any new big projects/chapters in your life recently?

Hey! Don't I Owe You One More for April?

The Hoodeler

He doesn't hide under your bed at night.
Oh, wait a minute
That's not quite right.
It's safe to say, I would guess,
If he lives in your closet
It's under duress.
You'll hear him always
In some other room
Hoodeling, hoodeling
Sounds of doom
You'd better look out
Once you're in his sights.
With razor claws and mad animal's bite,
He'll make you wish
(You'll be filled with fright)
That the Hoodeler
Was Hoodeling
Elsewhere tonight.

(The real Hoodler was my mom's and my cat, Vinnie, a large, orange fluffball with enough Maine coon cat in him. He made this little noise when he walked around the house that didn't really fit with his giant size. It sounded like "hoodlehoodlehoodle." He was actually a gentle doofus and couldn't fill anyone with fright.)

Monday, September 6, 2010

I'm So Glad I'm Not 20 Anymore!

This week I started sorting through all the stuff I pulled off of the floppies I have from when I was young and creative and prolific. Apparently I was also dramatic and passive aggressive and needy, too, because, included with the real Hoodeler poem (the not-real one is here, I'll post the real one tomorrow) and the scary short I wrote for composition class about a home invasion, are "love" letters to my high school boyfriend. Our 3-year relationship ended when I moved here from there, and apparently I took it really hard, harder than I seemed to believe he was taking it. I can't remember if I sent him any of these letters that I wrote him on my old Smith-Corona word processor (and saved, for some reason). I hope not. If I did, no wonder he was glad to be rid of me!

Friday, September 3, 2010

Another One About Growing Up

My 4 year-old uses air quotes. And she uses them correctly to indicate that the term she is using doesn't mean exactly what it sounds like.

My 8½ year-old was so brave at the doctor today. He wanted to treat the warts on her chest that her pediatrician hadn't frozen the other day, and he admitted it would be uncomfortable. Pete, at first, refused, covering the little patch with both hands. I offered my hand and told her it would be over quickly, but she still refused. After he explained, though, that it would be uncomfortable to treat them but without treatment they would never go away (I wish I could remember what he said exactly because it was really great), she unclenched her fists from each other and extended her hand to me and took a deep breath and toughed it out. I was so very proud of her.

sigh... no more babies...

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Me? Really?

Yesterday I said this, "Laurie Halse An-GASP! I WON A T-SHIRT!"

Check it out.

I never win anything! I guess I can't say that anymore...

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Not Cool Enough for School

The weather, I'm talking about. It's supposed to be in the mid 90's all week (it's Wednesday - so far, so good), and that is just too hot for school. It's September today, for goodness sake. That's not what this post is about though. It's really about school. And little people who are uncertain about whether they want to be there.

Lulu has had 2 days of school. According to the one of her teachers I keep bumping into, she is having a great experience. And immediately after school, Lulu expresses the same thing. As she was climbing into the car yesterday afternoon, she said, "I had so much fun today, Mommy!" but by the time I pulled away from the curb, she couldn't remember what had been so fun, and by the time we left the parking lot, she didn't like school anymore. Then she proceeded to reminisce, the whole way home, about what it had been like when I picked her up from school last year and we went home and had a snack and waited for Pete to get home on the bus. "I wish I could go to my old school again," she said. As fantastic as that experience was for both of us, it's time to move on and grow up and learn the 7's times tables and to write in cursive (oh wait, that's later...).

Fortunately, being Lulu, she hasn't had any trouble making friends or finding someone to play with on the playground. Her teacher said a few of the bigger girls drag her around with them when they're outside. I commented that that would probably change as Lulu gets more comfortable and that she'll eventually be the one calling the plays.

But (hopefully I'm not kidding myself) I think Lulu is missing being with me, just hanging out, doing whatever, Mommy's monkey. I miss that too. It's a lot quieter around here, and after the busy of this week and the shortness of next week, which is only a 2 day week with the holiday and teacher workdays, it's going to be really strange here. I imagine I'll go through a little remember-when-ing too. Probably right about the time Lulu gets used to it all.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Warts and All

This past week, Pete has been complaining about the little bumps on the back of her hand and some more popped up on her face around her mouth and chin and seemed sort of inflamed. Pete is growing up, in some ways too fast but I'm not going into that because creepy people search the internet for topics like that and EW!, so Husbandguy and Pete and I looked closely at the bumps to be certain she didn't just need to wash her face better, and we all decided that they weren't pimples. I wanted to take her to the doctor yesterday, but that was Lulu's first day of real school (it went really well - more about that later) and I wanted to be available for Lulu, so I took Pete this morning.

She seemed kind of keyed up. I don't know if she was nervous or excited or relieved, but she was loud and silly and adorable on the way there and while we waited for the doctor. Turns out she's got some warts, what we suspected. Not the kind you see on Halloween witches (those are called filiform), but just some everyday flat warts. The doctor recommended we see a dermatologist about the ones on her face, but she went ahead and froze the rest of them (she had some on her knee!). The doctor brought in a steaming cup with a cotton swab poking out of it, and Pete said, "What's that hot liquid in the cup?" The doctor explained that it was actually cold (she even said, "really cold q-tip"), and I launched into an explanation of liquid nitrogen that was probably totally unnecessary. Poor Pete! Apparently liquid nitrogen really hurts when it comes in contact with your skin. Pete was very brave, though. I can say that even though she complained and cried and tried to refuse treatment because she ultimately held my hand and counted with me and let the doctor kill the warts on her fingers and hand and knee. Then she got a bunch of Bugs Bunny bandages and I took her to lunch at the salad place she likes, where she tried to eat without bending her fingers.

Then she went back to school with her battle scars and wondered if she would be able to get out of doing a lot of work since she couldn't bend her fingers well and probably couldn't hold a pencil. She did say that she thought she might be able to turn pages...

Monday, August 30, 2010

Empty Nest

I know that the usual definition of the Empty Nest involves grown children going away-away to college or whatever, but it occurs to me that perhaps there should be another use for the term: to describe the experience parents have when their youngest (or only) little monkey joins the rest of the big kids in big-kid school, all day, M - F, fall - spring. That's me. That's what has happened here today. It is very strange. And a little liberating. And a little sad.

After I kissed Lulu goodbye and told her to have fun and watched her walk away with her teacher, I swallowed hard and then found all the other parents who were hovering around coffee and muffins in the media center (we call this the boo-hoo breakfast). I didn't cry, but I did have to swallow hard a few more times.

When that was done, my mind was full of all these things I could do with the rest of my free day: write, read, clean out my car, clean the living room, clean the girls' rooms, go shopping, play on the internet. I opted to go shopping. By myself. And not even look at the toy section or the little cluster of shelves where everything costs only $1. And I bought a candy bar, just for me, that I'm not going to have to share or justify or get someone else something just because I got something. I haven't eaten it yet, but it has been added to my to-do list.

Now I'm playing on the internet and seriously thinking about adding clean the litter box to my list. I could run around and do all those other things on my list (I will probably spend an hour later working on my story), but I think today I'll goof off and do what I want and start my life as a monkey-less grown-up tomorrow. Or the next day...

Thursday, August 26, 2010


Holymoly. I'm all squishy today.

I just realized... Well, I knew all along but thought I was okay with it seeing how I've been through it before... Here I was being all, "Poor you, I know your pain!" to the moms who are going through this for the first time... And it's not like it's her first time... Except this is really the final first time...

Tomorrow is my last weekday with Lulu before she is officially part of the train of children wending their way through elementarythenmiddlethenhigh school, on their way to being all grown up.

Who's going to run my errands with me? Or meet Husbandguy for lunch on a Tuesday and then get frozen custard afterward with me? Or blow bubbles on the patio in the middle of the day with me?

It won't be the same by myself.

I'm okay with it because she's supposed to grow up and will do great things in school. But also, I'm not. Because she's my baby.

Friday, August 20, 2010


Poor Lulu. For the past few nights she has had miserable nightmares. Mostly she just writhes in her bed shrieking and crying, but sometimes she comes out of her room and climbs into HG's or my lap. She's not awake, but she will converse with you. Like you say, "What's scaring you, Lulu," and she says, "Abbert ibble wama markle!" Although sometimes it sounds like, "Abbert ibble HELP DADDY wama NO NO markle!" We just hold her and say things like, "It's okay," and "We're here," and "You're safe," until she calms down and goes fully back to sleep. The other night, though, I managed to redirect her dream so she was eating a popsicle on the front porch at the beach house we vacationed in with Moomie. It was very gratifying the way her body relaxed when I "gave" her the popsicle (in her dream) and asked if she wanted to sit outside to eat it.

Pete has a similar sleep issue. When she's stressed or anxious or excited or overtired, she walks in her sleep. It used to be nightmares but has morphed as she's matured. I'll be surprised if she doesn't pop out of bed a couple of times in the next week, with school starting on Wednesday for her.

Lulu doesn't start school until the next Monday (same school as Pete but new for Lulu and the pre-k kids start later and have staggered entry), but this week there has been a lot of attention paid to her starting school because this was the week we were supposed to find out who her teacher will be and what day she will start, and I've been kind of manic about it. I'm sure that's not helping her anxiety level. Hindsight blah blah blah. Poor kid with the crazy mommy. No wonder she's having nightmares.

So remind me, if I say to you "What's wrong with that kid?!" in the next month or so, that this is a big deal for that little girl and to have peace and to remind HG that she's only 4 and could probably use our patience and understanding as she deals with having to grow up a whole lot all of the sudden.

Holy moly! BIG KID SCHOOL! With reading and math and writing and science and PE! Whoa!

Thursday, August 19, 2010


The more I learn about a crucial component of my novel, the more doubtful I become that I can write it. It's not the in-the-closet-with-the-light-off kind of dark story I had in my little brain with a protagonist who is ultimately likable even though she does terrible things. Turns out it's bottom-of-a-very-deep-hole-where-the-sun-doesn't-reach kind of dark with an apparently cruel and terrible lead character. A note I made months ago, before I knew what I know now, said, "how to make her likeable?" but who knew what a big challenge that would really be!

I am not a Go-Getter. When I doubt myself, instead of trudging through and trying my hardest, I tend to hide. You know, the in-the-closet-with-the-light-off kind of hiding, where I can pretend that this thing that's troubling me isn't even something I'm interested in anyway. I realized this was happening this morning when I thought about why I hadn't done the last 2 WFMAD prompts. My thoughts when I had read them were along the lines of, "I don't need to do that," and "I don't want to write about that," and "That doesn't have to do with my story." But the truth, I think, is more along the lines of, "If I write that then I have to think about how it might relate to my story and then I have to think about my story that I don't want to think about."

But when I am a Go-Getter, I've found, great things happen. Like with the Follies last year when I signed up late and was given 3 lines and a part in the chorus and instead of being satisfied with a tiny role, I raised my hand and volunteered for everything I could and ended up with one of the biggest parts, which people still comment on (positively), almost a year later. And I didn't talk much about Lulu's school this past year, but I signed up to be the room parent for her class and met and became friends with a bunch of people I usually wouldn't have done more than talk to briefly at birthday parties.

So what I need is a plan of attack, I think. A to-do list, if you will. Like, finish the book I'm reading and explore the website of the expert who wrote the foreword for the book I'm reading and find other things to read about this stuff and build an outline including the new ideas I want to incorporate and do the WFMAD prompts I skipped these past few days and take a step back from all the Terrible by working on my short story or the Frog and Fox stories or by reading the Alcott biography I picked up at the library.

That's the right attitude, right?

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Here's a Problem, but Not a Bad One

You'll see over to the right, there, next to my photo (with Pete) that I have been neglecting my writing. Apparently for more than just a few years. Because I realized the other day, as I was preparing for this big deal I'm making out of having free time every day to write starting in September, that most of my writing from when I was young and spry and creative is on floppy disks! That's right. You heard me. FLOPPY DISKS. Does your computer have a floppy drive? Because mine doesn't. Not even an imaginary one, which probably wouldn't help anyway.

Admittedly I could write without the files on these disks (diskS). My miserable little skeleton of a novel in on a flash drive, and the Frog and Fox stories are mainly in my head and the short story that I just recently realized is going to end in a particular way is in a composition book, but what if I wrote something ten years ago, fifteen years ago, that is worth exploring and editing and finishing? I have to know. Wouldn't you?

Don't worry, though (I know you were). I am not going to let this stop me from doing what I want to do. I told the Grandpa yesterday that I have to write because if I don't write then I'm going to feel like I need to find something else to do (some other job, I mean) and I don't want to do anything but write so I have to do it. Also, Poppop, who has everything computer-related that you could possibly need ever or knows where to get it cheap if he doesn't have it already, has a floppy drive and said I could bring my floppy disks next time we visit them and transfer them to CD or flash drive or something so before long I will have everything except the little book I wrote and illustrated in the OSU library when I was 8 and the poem I wrote about spring in the 4th grade.

Some of my best work, those were...
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