Saturday, February 20, 2010

On Lightning Bolts and Books

Those who don't believe in magic will never find it - Roald Dahl

As I type this entry, the printer is busy printing out the official first draft of my first novel. Or the official final draft, I suppose. It depends what happens from here.

I wrote in an earlier post (read here) that I started writing a novel when my friend Tara challenged me to participate in NaNoWriMo. I would never have even considered trying it at this stage of my life without her prompting. As it turns out, I am so glad that I did.

It was hard to find the time, yes, but unlike painting or charcoal drawing (which I have desperately tried but pretty much failed to make time for over the past couple of years), I could sit at the computer when I had half an hour and start and stop without any set up or clean up time. And, unlike painting, which requires standing in front of a canvas with a paintbrush in hand, I could also progress with my story by creating chapters in my head at the gym, on a run, or as I folded laundry. It was nice to think of matching socks as a worthy part of a creative process.

As for my book, I'm not sure exactly where I'm going with it from here. So far, three very unbiased editors have read and loved my book. (Okay, my mom, my husband and my eight-year-old daughter.) I am optimistic but realistic about my chances for actually getting it published. But whether I end up self-publishing or getting it officially published, I feel confident that something will work out.

After my mom and I wrote Cecily Cicada, I wasn't sure if I'd ever write a book again. The idea for Cecily Cicada hit me like a lightning bolt and my mom immediately convinced me that it would be a success. After that, no lightning struck and I eventually considered that none might ever strike again. This time, Tara basically forced me to create my own lightning bolt. I headed out for a run after getting her NaNoWriMo challenge email and knew I had to come home with a plot for a book. On that run, I realized that the magic of an idea was always there, I just had to go after it, rather than waiting for it to strike.

I've also come to realize that I need to write. I love the process of creating a world outside my own and diving into it, getting to know the characters along the way. And I am ultimately happier in my own world when I've given myself time to explore that creative process.

And so, while there's still a lot to do if I want to get my book out to the public, for now the writing process is coming to an end. I'm ready to start another one. Instead of waiting this time, I think I'll just head out for another run.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Kids' Books That You'll Love Too

The girls love nothing more than a trip to the library. There's something magical about all of the possibilities there. They can spend hours making their selections, while I endure several heart-attacks racing around trying to find Noni behind the shelves. Then, after I pay off our bazillion dollars in late fees, they come home with their arms full of new books and disappear into their room with their new loot.

Since by now I know every single word of Where The Wild Things Are and Moo Baa La La La by heart, I always enjoy reading Lucy and Noni something new. My favorite books seem to be the ones that make me either laugh out loud or cry. We just got some good ones at the library this week so I thought I'd share some of my favorite kid books below. What are yours?

Seriously Funny:

The Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Tales
by Scieszka and Lane Smith
Skippy Jon Jones by Judy Schachner
Any of the Frog and Toad books by Arnold Lobel
The Three Pigs by David Wiesner
Don't Let the Pigeon Drive The Bus by Mo Willems
Diary of a Wimpy Kid by Jeff Kinney (for older kids)

Read With Tissues:

The Lorax by Dr. Seuss
Tell Me Again About The Night I Was Born by Jaime Lee Curtis (I love all her books)
The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein

And Just Because He's Brilliant:

In the Night Kitchen by Maurice Sendak

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Rookie Parenting Move

I've learned a few things in my eight and a half years of parenting. For example...
- Don't leave permanent markers anywhere within reach. (And by "within reach" I mean able to be reached with a chair, a pile of blocks and tip-toes.)
- Don't let juice boxes, and especially kids with juice boxes, anywhere near your computer.
- Don't think that giving your kid a big pile of stickers to make a car ride easier is actually going to make your life easier. You definitely won't think so when you're still scraping stickers off the mini-van windows years later.
- And then, of course, there's the totally obvious parenting rule: Never, ever buy character Band-Aids. Because you know what? If your kid is hurt, a flesh colored Band-Aid and a kiss will do just fine. And the character ones? Will be gone.

Look at me Mom!

What? Oh, yeah, of course it's the whole box.

Toby's tagline for this photo: Busted but totally unrepentant

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Getting Techy

So my in-house tech support (husband) has added a new feature to my blog. If you enter your email address in the right hand corner, you can get these blog entries right in your inbox! It's free! It's fun! It's new! Anyway, I just thought I'd let you know about it.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Throw Up and Motherhood

Motherhood has a very humanizing effect. Everything gets reduced to essentials. ~Meryl Streep

This winter I signed up for a Nia class on Tuesday mornings at my gym. A friend had originally recommended it to me, insisting I try a class at her gym (as I wrote here). I enjoyed it so much that I decided to make it part of my weekly exercise routine.

Unfortunately, in a brilliant oversight by the gym, the class starts at 8:30 and the gym childcare starts at 8:45. Rather than decide not to take the class, I begged the dance teacher to let Noni sit in and watch the class for the first fifteen minutes each week. She agreed that it wasn't a problem as long as Noni was quiet. And for the first class she was as quiet as could be until the fifteen minutes passed and then, not wanting to leave, she started screaming "NOOOO!" when I tried to take her to the childcare. Since she had spent the first fifteen minutes sitting so quietly and playing with her mini Disney princesses, I figured it shouldn't be a problem just to keep her there for the next hour. I asked the teacher at the end of the class if that would be alright in the future as well. I am pretty sure that she had to fight some serious urges not to roll her eyes, but she's very hippie and polite and I think it runs against her nature to set rules in her class. And so, every Tuesday I head to Nia and Noni and her princesses come with me. The princesses dance quietly on Noni's lap while the rest of the class dances out on the floor.

It was all going pretty well until today. It started out as usual - with Noni and her princesses hanging out in the back of the room. But then, right at the end of the class, Noni said in a really loud voice, "My belly hurts!" I took one look at her with her hand on her mouth and immediately ran over. And then she threw up. And then she threw up again. And again. All over. All over the princesses, her backpack, her dress, her shoes, my coat, her hands, my hands, and, of course, the dance class floor.

At that moment, my heart went out to Noni for being sick, but I'll admit that I also shrank in horror at what everyone in the room must be thinking. I imagined the whole class gasping in disgust and running out of the room. Instead, within seconds I found myself surrounded by five different women, all of them handing me paper towels and one of them even helping to wipe up the floor. Each one of them told me not to worry, of course kids can get sick anywhere, and began to console Noni in soothing voices.

As they stooped to help me, I felt an immediate great love for all of the other moms out there. Because at that moment I realized that there is not a single mom in the world who doesn't look at a two-year-old throwing up in a dance class and think, "I have been there" and feel a great sympathy for both the child and her mother. And so I thanked them for their help and cleaned Noni up as quickly as I could. Then I left the class, smelling of throw up but feeling truly grateful for the connection between mothers all over the world.

Princess Leia

This morning Lucy tried to convince Noni that she should watch Star Wars with her and Evie tonight. Her reasoning? "Noni, there's even a princess in it! Princess Leia. She's just like Snow White...only with a gun!"
Hmm, a new twist on the Disney Princess...