Friday, November 30, 2007

Farewell, NaBloPoMo

So today is the last day of NaBloPoMo, aka National Blog Posting Month, aka November. And I did it! Not only did I write a post for every day, but some days had more than one post. A vacation, a butt-whipping holiday -- nothing stopped me! (Cue victorious laugh.)

I liked posting every day, and I didn't like it. I think it's too much for me at this point in my life now. Writing every day is one thing; writing on your blog is another. What if what you need to write isn't something you want to share? Then you have to post just for the sake of posting, which seems unnatural for a personal blog.

However, it's a good exercise in discipline, and NaBloPoMo is way easier than NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) because NaNoWriMo has a 50,000-word minimum and you have to think about character and plot. Or at least it did a couple years ago when I did it.

We now return to our regularly unscheduled blog posting....

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Thursday, November 29, 2007

It's Christmas Movie time

Holiday movies really get me in the Christmas spirit. Maybe it goes back to my deprived childhood, when my family owned a simple television with antennae because cable hadn't been invented yet -- and neither had DVD or even videotape players -- and the only time to watch holiday movies like Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer or Frosty the Snowman was whenever the networks decided to air them. (I can imagine the future conversation with Fly: "But why can't I have a DVD player in the car?" "When I was your age, we had to watch fuzzy shows, on the floor of the living room, at the mercy of scheduled programming, once a year only, and we were grateful for it!")

I can also thank my childhood for fond memories of Winnie the Pooh. I had a well-loved Pooh teddy bear and a Pooh-themed room until I was 12. (My stepmother wasn't into changing decor frequently.)

Just like TV, Pooh has changed a lot since then, and so have the rest of his friends. Christopher Robin doesn't exist anymore; he seems to have been replaced by a spunky red-haired girl named Darby. This might be sacrilege, but the much-improved animation and catchy new songs make up for it. I know all this because Fly and I watched the latest Pooh movie, the My Friends Tigger & Pooh Super Sleuth Christmas Movie.

In the movie (just as in the Disney series), Pooh, Tigger and Darby form the Super Sleuths, who solve mysteries and try to figure out strange things that happen in the Hundred-Acre Wood. This time, it's Christmas Eve, and a young reindeer named Holly gets lost trying to find Santa's magic bag full of gifts, which was dropped during a practice run with all the reindeer and sleigh. If Santa doesn't get back his magic bag, Christmas present delivery will be canceled! The Super Sleuths (along with the other Pooh characters Piglet, Rabbit, Eeyore, Roo and Lumpy, and Darby's dog, Buster) have to find Santa's bag and take it to the North Pole in time for him to deliver Christmas presents. Along the way, some of Pooh's friends are able to get their Christmas wishes come true.

The DVD also comes with two episodes of My Friends Tigger & Pooh -- one for winter and one for spring -- and a game.

The Disney folks who provided the DVD for me to review also gave me one to give away! I'll randomly give away one copy of the My Friends Tigger & Pooh Super Sleuth Christmas Movie the day after my birthday to anyone who leaves a comment here about their favorite holiday movie. Update: Congratulations to Groovy Old Lady of Groovy's Ruminations for being the random winner!

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Wednesday, November 28, 2007

What I'd Wear Wednesday: Holiday party fantasy part 2

What I'd wear today if I could: these black satin pants from Fredrick's of Hollywood. (What? They sent me a catalog.)

Actually, I'd wear them on Friday night. JP has a client who is having a big-bash retirement party, and I just don't feel like wearing the same black dress I've worn every year since ... let's see ... 2003. Then I saw these pants and fainted with joy, but it's too late to order them for Friday anyway. Sigh.

Anyway, these pants would look great with a fun top and strappy shoes. I've always worn a dress for special occasions, but these pants just look soooo fabulous.

Do you like to wear pants to special parties, or do you always wear a dress?

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Tuesday, November 27, 2007

"I love you" books

Some great folks sent me the book I Love You More by Laura Duksta to review it. They told me it was a unique, special book written by a woman with a special story of her own. I thought the promo was nice and all, but when I read Fly the book, I was truly impressed. (I think Fly was, too.)



I Love You More is really a sweet picture book. It has a good message told in a fun way, and the childlike pictures are extremely colorful -- which Fly loves. The pages and the words on the pages are big (unlike with some picture books that have small text), so when Fly learns to read, he won't have a problem reading this book himself.

But the best part of this book is, well, it's reversible! First, you read the mother's point of view of how she loves her child. Then you flip the book completely over and read from the child's point of view. Very cool. I have never seen a book like this before!

I Love You More is a great book to have, and it reminded me Fly has two other books with "I love you" in the title:



JP gave me Guess How Much I Love You by Sam McBratney on Valentine's Day when I was still pregnant with Fly. JP and I took turns reading the pages that night. It's a wonderful story, and although it's too long for Fly's attention span now, I just know it will be a bedtime standard in a couple years. It's a newish book, but it's already a classic.



Another book -- Fly's second favorite, after Hippos Go Berserk by Sandra Boynton -- is I Love You Through and Through by Bernadette Rossetti Shustak. When Fly wants me to read to him, he finds this book and throws it on the floor in front of me (nice hint, huh?). While I read, he points to some of the pictures and smiles at some parts. I think Fly mostly loves the motions I do while I read the story, like touching his nose.

Do you have a favorite I love you book?

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Monday, November 26, 2007

One night stand

Kim at In Full Bloom asked what is on my nightstand. Because there are only a few days left of NaBloPoMo and I am putting off important posts due to fatigue and stress, I figured, "Hey! Great easy post!"

At least you know this up front.



Mostly, you see lots of books and a couple magazines. There are also the ugliest alarm clock ever, mixed in with my pretty lamp, JP's senior-year high school photo (when I was his girlfriend) and a picture of me holding Fly about this time last year.

What are those things under my stuff, you ask?



Postcards from family and friends from Holland; Melbourne, Australia; Germany; the Virgin Islands; Maine; and other places I may never visit myself. JP has other postcards in our collection on his dresser top.

Want to play along? (Remember, easy post!)

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Sunday, November 25, 2007

Friends are there for the birthday cake

Fly had a milestone today: his first little-kid/friend birthday party. His friend Lancelot celebrated his first birthday today, a couple days early. This meant a lot to Fly, as he visited Lance in the hospital the night after he was born. What a pal. I guess you could say Fly and Lance are lifelong friends.

Being a friend means sharing your birthday presents:



Being a friend means trying to lend a hand (literally) when it comes to exciting new things like eating birthday cake:



And being a friend means being patient and forgiving:



Happy first birthday, Lancelot. And happy birthday to you, Guinevere, as you celebrate a year of being a mama!

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Saturday, November 24, 2007

Tales from the trip, part 2

When you love to travel but hate to fly, that's pretty stupid. That's my life. And when your husband says he has to have a vacation or he'll go nuts, but your baby can't be contained for hours and hours, you have few options.

Where I live, you can drive a few hours south or west as you did so often in the past and have lots of fun -- but not the kind of fun you're used to if you have a baby in tow. Or you can drive a few hours north where there are children of all ages, everywhere, and tell yourself there will be plenty of time in the future for family adventure travel.

So we went north.







The veryveryveryvery best part (well, except for this, of course) was discovering that Fly can now travel without screaming the whole time he's in his seat. Fly actually never even cried.

And that made me feel like this



Now we can really go places....

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Friday, November 23, 2007

Tales from the trip, part 1

Just for the joy of seeing you get so excited that you fall down....



Even though it meant buying you a new, dry outfit across the way because we were traveling and didn't have a change of clothes....



Your squeals and laughter, and the possible label of being a bad mother who would let her child play in the water on a cool night -- it was all worth it. And I would do it again.

video

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Thursday, November 22, 2007

Now I'm famous

It's official: I hack my kid.



Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

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Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Sooo tired

Pbbllt. This hardly constitutes a post. But there's this little thing called NaBloPoMo, see....

I am exhausted. I have spent the past two days cooking and cleaning for Thanksgiving (hosting JP's family). The past two nights, I've gone to bed past 2 am.

I really wanted to post about our little trip. Maybe I can get to that tomorrow.

Anyway, wishing anyone and everyone in blogland a happy Thanksgiving and many blessings.

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Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Home is where the to-do list is

Welcome back, Damselfly. You have 303 unread e-mail messages and 1000+ unread blog posts (we stop counting at 1,000), in addition to 11 people to entertain and feed in two days, five loads of laundry to do, a house to clean and 290 vacation photos to sort through.

And your neighbors already have their Christmas lights up.

There's no place like home....

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Away....

You may remember that earlier this year, JP, Fly and I took a not-vacation. That is, we didn't go anywhere, but JP took a day off work and we acted like tourists in our own town.

That was OK, but guess what? We are dreaming the impossible dream! We are actually away somewhere! We are taking a trip that may ruin our sanity for life (Fly is a terrible traveler), but not taking a vacation ("taking a break" as JP likes to say) has its own form of ruination, at least for JP. So off we go.

Because of NaBloPoMo, I have posted for all of the days we'll be gone. This may or may not count as far as posting every day -- but it's too bad, ain't it?! See ya when we get back!

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Monday, November 19, 2007

Magazines should come with warning labels

I subscribe to this



and this



(The fact this cover shows a shirtless man is just coincidence.)

Magazines are like their own little subculture. Have you noticed? Martha Stewart Living? Real Simple? People?

JP and I look forward to our Adventure and Outside. However....

When we were discussing for the 457th time where we've dreamed about going where we should go where we could go where Fly would allow us to go, months and months of adventure-travel destinations piled up in our heads came spilling out -- and right into the trash.

There will be no rock climbing in the Ozarks. (Try that with a sling.)

There will be no sea kayaking in Puget Sound. (Too long of a flight from where we live.)

No exploring amazing places on our wish list. (Ditto.)

No exploring new puffin territory in Maine. (You can't sneak up on a bird with a toddler who squeals.)

And we can forget about rafting through the Grand Canyon. (Not suitable for toddlers.)

We tell ourselves someday, someday....

Dern those magazines!

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Sunday, November 18, 2007

Mom Sorority

Janet at Three and Holding asked, "Has blogging had any unanticipated side effects on your behaviour or life?"

I commented that blogging has made me realize we moms are more alike than we are different.

Before JP and I thought seriously about having a child, I felt we were like the odd couple out. Almost everyone we knew who was our age had children. People with children tend to do things with other people who have children. I knew this because one by one, we saw the majority of our good friends drop out of our lives after the baby came. We sent cards. We called. We e-mailed. But you can only have a one-sided relationship for so long....

I began to think that if we were going to have any friends at all, we'd have to have a baby just to have a social life.

And I admit that back then, when I would see moms, I would wonder what it was about having a baby that made you shun childless friends. I'm a nice person. I enjoy playing with little ones. Heck, I went to all those baby showers -- why wouldn't my friends want me around the actual baby? I began to be afraid of moms my age, just a little bit, probably a fear of the unknown. They had their own secret society -- a mom sorority that I wasn't allowed to enter.

After several years of all that, though, I just put it behind me. I forgot about it. And when the baby pinings became so intense, and when JP and I finally had Fly, the mom sorority fears surfaced again. What if I didn't fit in? What if having a child was only a small part of being accepted?

Then I found mom blogs. I read the funny posts, the cranky posts, the tantrum struggle posts, the up-all-night-sick posts, the deep and thoughtful posts about what it means to love your child. I realized moms are all different, but we all want the best for our children. We want the best for our own lives, apart from our children, too.

Meeting new moms in my hometown cemented this fact. There is a sorority of sorts. And that's comforting to me, now.

Even though some of my old friends flaked out on me, that stuff doesn't matter anymore. What matters is the community of mamas around me -- online and offline.

And I'm thankful to you all for that.

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Saturday, November 17, 2007

The greatest of these is love

Love is patient, love is kind.



It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.



It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.



Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.



It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.



And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.



From the Bible, book of Corinthians, chapter 13

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Friday, November 16, 2007

Rocking the crib

Nap Warden of The Chronicles of a SAHM has created an award! And she's given it to me! Aw, thanks!

I love it.

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Thursday, November 15, 2007

Birth tubs, maxipads, sadism, poo -- I've got it all!

It's a kick to read when other bloggers show what search terms people use to find their blogs. I've been collecting search terms too. Here are several of the best.

Birth tub blog
Honey, if you can blog from your birth tub, you da woman!

Maxipad straps table
Is this the feeling that you have a whole table in your underwear while wearing a maxipad?

Words to mamma
The best ones are "I love you."

Hard questions for children online
Sounds like someone is trying to stump their children with riddles.

Sadism and me
Sounds like a fun memoir....

Internal organs squashed
Best when the organs are still inside your body, or else your chances aren't too good.

Getting hair straightened while breastfeeding
Um, don't you think you should nurse the baby first, and then go to the salon?

Girly tools
Is this what women use while flirting?

Momivore
That would be Fly!

Poo wearing clothes
You can dress it up any way you want -- it's still poo.

Contractions constant pain
No kidding!

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Wednesday, November 14, 2007

What I'd Wear Wednesday: Holiday party fantasy

What I'd wear today if I could: this satin dress by Donna Ricco, from Nordstrom. Well, OK, I wouldn't wear it today, but ever since JP told me about the holiday party his company has planned for the first time since the year our country will always remember, all I can think about is What Am I Going To Wear?! It's not as though JP and I get out much. Now, not only will we be going out, we'll be going out. To a real party. It's a bit overwhelming to a mama who often just pads around the house with her hair in a half-bun. (Yes, that would be moi.) I not only have to think about the dress, but the heels! The hair! The jewelry! And what am I going to say to all those people, anyway? Sigh....

Back to the dress. I love the color, and people tell me I look good in red. I love the soft sheen and the off-center ruching that makes it just a bit different from lots of other dresses. The only down side I see is that I'll be doing lots of arm exercises so I won't have the Evil Upper-Arm Flab (EUAF).

Are you going to a special holiday party this year? What are you going to wear?

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Tuesday, November 13, 2007

In which I accidentally glue my toes together

Running around over this past weekend, I spotted this:



A beautiful vision of perfect toes came into my mind. The fake nails weren't a lot of money, so I figured I'd try them out. You can try just about anything once, right?

So after Fly was in bed, I sat down with the nail kit. The creepy little disembodied toenails. The cancer-causing glue. The impossibly small nail stickers. I wasn't deterred.

The first toenail went on perfectly! The second one was a little crooked, but who would be able to tell?

By the third toenail, though, I was getting overconfident in my fake-nail-putting-on ability. I got cocky. I was a little too haphazard with the glue. And I darn near glued my forefinger to my ring toe. Then I really did it -- I glued my forefinger and thumb together! Ack! S l o w l y, I pulled them apart. Yikes! This stuff is really sticky.

I moved on to the other foot. I started with the big toe. It didn't look right. I compared it to the first big toe. Gah! There are two sizes of big toenails in the package! Now I had two mismatched big toes! One normal, one Shrek-sized. But there was no going back now.

Fingers and thumb covered in rough patches of dried glue, I finally finished!



And then I realized I glued two toes together. Great.

Glue issues aside, I was still worried the toenails would fall off in bed and I'd wake up to little toenail carcasses littering the sheets. So I put socks on and hit the hay. (They're still on.)

I promise this isn't turning into a foot blog....

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Monday, November 12, 2007

The guy at the office

I am losing my cred.

When you have best-friend status with your husband (JP and I have been married almost 13 years), you tend to rely on each other a lot. Best friends do. Best friends really believe in what each other thinks. In fact, many times, you go out of your way to find out what your best friend thinks about what you should do. You know how it goes.

But lately, it seems what I say doesn't count -- unless another person can back it up. Humph.

I know this because of The Guy At The Office:

"The Guy At The Office said the way to get a baby to sleep through the night is just to pat or stroke him and not pick him up out of the crib," JP said.

"Oh, really?" I said. "That's what I told you six months ago the first time we tried sleep training with Fly. And you didn't want to do it."

Or:

"The Guy At The Office said you can use rubbing alcohol to get grease out of rugs," JP said.

"Uh-huh," I said. "Yes, I know. I told you I did that when you tracked motor oil from your boots on Fly's bedroom carpet."

That kind of thing.

I still think JP and I are best friends, but The Guy At The Office will probably continue to trump me for some time....

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Sunday, November 11, 2007

Clean noodles

"Fly! Look at how clean you are after the bath Dad gave you! Did you get all the chicken and noodles out of your hair?"

Fly smiles.

"There are still a few noodles in his hair," JP says. "But they're very clean noodles."

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Bliss

Waking up to this....

PS: Those aren't eyelashes on JP, but eyebrows. I keep teasing him that he needs to trim them.

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Saturday, November 10, 2007

In the giving spirit

I am definitely starting to get in the holiday mood. Good thing, I guess, since I'm hosting JP's family for Thanksgiving dinner next weekish.

This 5 Minutes for Mom giveaway is also putting me into the Christmas spirit:

Christmas Giveaway 2007 Sweepstakes

Oh Amanda also has Christmas giveaways:



And Heather at Cool Zebras is giving away books this month:



Thanks, gals!

Did I miss any?!

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You are so beautiful to me

...And if you have been a regular or even sometime commenter here, I'd like to send you a holiday card. If you'd like a card from me, please contact me privately with your address! (growingalife at gmail dot com)

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Something worse

It's universal that at one point, many women in their 20s or 30s fear (or at least worry) they'll turn into their mother.

{Cue scary screechy violin music}

That hit me at 16.

But now that I'm getting older and have lived with a year and a half of sleep deprivation, I have found something worse to fear: turning into my father!

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Friday, November 09, 2007

Island of misfit toys

I had to take a toy back to the store today.

Fly got a ride-on toy for his birthday, see, but it was his third one. JP's aunt, who gave the toy, said we should return her gift to the store it came from and get something else. He clearly doesn't need three ride-on toys.

But his birthday was in September. Now our aunt is coming over for Thanksgiving in a couple weeks. And she's probably going to want to see what we exchanged her toy for. (Hustle, hustle, one more thing to do to prep for Thanksgiving....)

Except, at the store when Fly and I looked at the toys we could get with our store credit, every one of them said "Made in China." I know China may have gotten more than its fair share of bad press for toy recalls, but even so, it still makes me wary. How do I know that the innocent-looking shape sorter won't be found to have lead or a date-rape drug or some other sickening horror? I don't want Fly to be doomed to having a collection of misfit toys.

We left with nothing. I want to do more research. I want to be a Safe Shopper.

And I want toy companies to do more to make sure the toys they sell are safe for their customers. Toy companies, do you hear us parent bloggers? I don't ever remember so many toy recalls in one year -- and it's not just because I am a new parent.

What will I tell JP's aunt?

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Thursday, November 08, 2007

Please come again

Is it too weird that I wish more trick-or-treaters would stop by again this week to help me get rid of all this candy?!

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Well, praise the Lord and pass the biscuits!

After perhaps just having eaten too much Halloween candy, and looking ahead to extra helpings on Thanksgiving and "sampling" Christmas cookies.... Here is some good news!

Have you heard this? "Overweight people have a lower death rate than people who are normal weight, underweight or obese," says the New York Times. If you read the whole article, it's a little confusing (and seems contradictory to what Oprah's beloved Dr. Mehmet Oz said just this week about calorie restriction being a great boost to longevity). But the bottom line in the research is "compared with people of normal weight, the overweight had a decreased death risk and the underweight and obese had increased risk."

Do you think in a few years this will be filed under "strange but true," with everyone trying to keep their weight on? Or do you think it will be debunked?

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Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Imagine what the people in the elevator must have thought

As told to me by JP, on his cell phone going down from the twelfth floor:

"I don't care if the body has been in a warehouse for years, or if it's really old, or if we've got to dig it up from somewhere. We need a body."

Uh, that would be a race car body. JP has been in cahoots with a college friend to build a race car.

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What I'd Wear Wednesday: What shoe would you like to add to your collection?

What I'd wear today if I could: these colorful flower-print crackled-look flats from Free People. They would go great with my black yoga pants. And they're pretty inside and out.

I don't think I have a single pair of shoes in a print, so these shoes would shake up my shoe wardrobe -- especially for days when I feel artsy/funkaaaay.

What shoe(s) would you love to have?

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Tuesday, November 06, 2007

The Internet is blind



Have you done this celebrity lookalike thingy? Every time I've tried it, I use a different photo and come up with different results.

This time, I used my NaBloPoMo page photo and got new chicks. ('Cept it won't fit right on the page, bah!)

The first chick -- the person I supposedly look the most like -- is Woranuch Wongsawan, a Thai soap opera star. That's very flattering, even if I don't know who she is. And seriously, do I look Asian?

The second one is Amanda Seyfried from the Mean Girls movie and Veronica Mars. I really don't see the resemblance. At all.

Moving farther down the lookalike percentage, we have Mandy Moore, the lovely late Deborah Kerr (who passed away just a couple weeks ago) and Australian singer/actress Holly Valance -- another person I've never heard of. (Sorry to my Australian friends.)

Next is Amrita Rao, another eastern "lookalike" who turns out to be a Bollywood star, R&B hottie Ciara and -- perhaps most amazing of all -- the Internet thinks I look like Grace Kelly.

In real life, people have told me I look like Kristin Davis (Charlotte from Sex and the City), Geena Davis (Commander in Chief), Norah Jones and Helena Bonham-Carter (most recently in a Harry Potter movie but maybe best known as the Merchant Ivory-type historical British movie chick).

This all just begs the question: if these women can make millions, then why can't I?!

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Monday, November 05, 2007

Weekend by numbers

1: Knee that Fly scraped while playing at the playground

2: Fluffy white dogs at the playground who sniffed and licked Fly

3: Pairs of jeans I sat down to hem

4: Leftover Kit Kat Halloween candies I scarfed down

5: Cute little babies at church who made me want to instantly get pregnant

6: Time JP actually made it home Friday (pm) even though he drove four hours away to see a car race

7: Outfits I contemplated wearing

8: Books piled up on my nightstand

9ish: Time I got to sleep in on Sunday ... ahhh....

10: Number of minutes I talked to my stepmother, Anne, on the phone, when she cried because she misses seeing Fly grow up

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Sunday, November 04, 2007

Thanksgiving cards

Thanks to my friend Roo, who has a closet dedicated to nothing but Close to My Heart scrapbooking and cardmaking supplies, I have gotten the cardmaking bug. I thought I'd make some Thanksgiving dinner invitation cards to start, just from a mishmash of supplies from a local craft store.

I know the cards could have been better and more interesting (read: I could have used more supplies), but I had to stop buying stuff to create the cards. They're $2 each as it is! You can't tell, but the border and the colored leaf have a metallic shine to them.

I ordered a couple kits for making Christmas cards, and those will be a lot more economical. (And because I didn't hobble craft junk together, they'll look better.)

Do you make cards or other crafts for the holidays?

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Saturday, November 03, 2007

Worldwide family

I have a new nephew! (A new n'ew?) Isn't he cute?

My brother and sister-in-law adopted a boy from Guatemala and brought him home just this week. They are welcoming him into their family, which includes my niece from China.

I have such an international family!

I also have a sister whose father was Mexican (from my mother's first marriage -- she was swayed by the sexy Latino accent!) and a cousin whose mother is from Vietnam.

Do you have an international family too?

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Friday, November 02, 2007

Roses are blue

I love my husband, JP. He and I were friends -- are friends -- before our relationship became something more than special. (This Christmas will be the 21st anniversary of our first date.) He has stayed by my side despite my crazy family. He encouraged my dreams more than any other person could possibly have, and helped me to make them come true. We've traveled and had adventures together. He brings me roses -- he brought me these yesterday. Now he is the father of my child and will teach Fly what it means to grow into a man. JP and I have a bond.

So when he said he wanted to go to a car race today that's four hours away, I told him he should go.

But I still resent that he's going to a race (for fun), while I couldn't go to an important writer conference related to my book (for professional reasons).

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Thursday, November 01, 2007

On becoming a writer, part one

I might not have wanted to become a writer if my childhood friend Pat's mother had been a stay-at-home mom. Maybe. But maybe not.

See, Pat's mother was a single mom with three children. So she worked. After school, Pat was supposed to walk the few blocks straight down the street from school to the public library, and stay there until it was time to go home. I went to the library with Pat plenty of times. My mother, who alternately stayed at home and worked part-time, didn't mind that I was at the library.

It seems incredible to me now, but Pat did this from the time she was in first grade until she was old enough to take care of herself at home -- maybe around 10 years old. But this was pblpbldk years ago, and it was a small town. Think one street light, which happened to be right at the intersection where the library was. From that intersection, you could see the school up the street, where the road ended. The township hall was next to the library, and the fire department was across the street. There was a sweet shop that sold ice cream, candy and snacks where the kids liked to go to after school. All of this was at that intersection -- our little downtown, if you will. My house was about six blocks south on the main drag, and Pat lived off a side street. Sidewalks took us straight home. I can't imagine a first-grader walking to and from school in my town today, even though I live in a relatively safe neighborhood -- and yet when I think about walking to school and the library in my home town, I never think of it as a big deal or a time to be cautious.

I grew up outside of Chicago (a suburb of a suburb of a suburb, I like to say), where shortly after school started, the weather turned cool and windy and stayed mostly dreary until about a month before school let out for the summer. So holing up at the library after school seemed like a better choice than playing outside, most days. Pat and I would play checkers (OK, Pat would play checkers, and I would just move the game pieces around on the board) and read books. We were good readers, even in first grade.

One day in first grade, sitting at that little corner library, I picked up a Beatrix Potter book. It seemed just my size. There were cute pictures -- and really, what good was a book without pictures? I don't remember which book I read, but I loved it. Loved. It. I loved books. I held them in my hands and squeezed them. I liked to open them up and inhale their scent. (Library books had a pungent-with-age scent, a little dusty and almost like cheese. New books had a chemical smell, like fresh ink and maybe just a little bit like Lysol spray.) Teachers, who were just a little lower than celebrities to me, seemed to think books were really important.

So it seemed natural when Pat, sitting across from me at a munchkin-sized table at the library, asked me what I wanted to do when I grew up.

"I want to make books!" I said, holding onto Beatrix Potter, with visions of drawing cute characters and making up stories. The idea of putting ideas onto paper seemed to make the ideas real and not just the fancy imaginings of a little girl.

Pat said she wanted to be a mountain climber.

Pat did go on to climb mountains, metaphorical ones: dealing with her mother's death from breast cancer, marrying and then divorcing a know-it-all sourpuss and watching her dreams die as she tried to keep her brother and sister together after her mother was gone.

And I did write a book. I'm a little disappointed it wasn't a picture book that children can sniff and squeeze and carry around with them -- it's just a nonfiction book that I have chosen to stay mum about because I am not ready to come out to the blogosphere -- but I might still have a chance someday to turn thoughts into words and pictures that children will love.

Even if Fly is the only child who reads it.

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This month, along with hoards of other writers, I'm taking part in National Blog Posting Month, or NaBloPoMo. It's a takeoff on National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo. I did NaNoWriMo a few years ago and got my required 50,000 words down in one month, having written a young adult novel that I then discovered had basically just been written and appeared on bookstore shelves about a month after my own writing. Yay. So, expect a daily posting from me.... If you are a creative person, I encourage you to take a month (whether it's this month or not) and commit to doing your craft every single day. It's scary, it's hard work, and yet it's also freeing. It will transform you. Try it!

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