Life

Baby Racing

Last week we took the baby to the LA County Fair. And by “we” I mean my dad, sister, brother-in-law, and aunt. Brian hates the fair with a passion that is irrational, but I’m resigned to it.

Asher is pretty good in the car unless you’re stopped for any reason. Then he frets and complains, and sometimes starts to cry. On the way into the fair there were many stops and starts as we navigated traffic.

“Unghhh!” said Asher at all of them.

“What’s wrong?” said my dad.

“He’s just upset we’re waiting,” I replied.

“Oh,” said my dad. And then he started making vrooming sounds.

Asher stopped fussing almost immediately, totally content with the facsimile… “Good enough, and thank you for the attempt,” he seemed to say. “You efforts at infant placation have been accepted.”

Of course, this is not the end of the silliness. Part two of this story involves school. Both Brian and I have class on Monday nights, so Asher goes over to have a grand old time with Grandma. I don’t have enough time between drop off and school to go get food, so I usually run through the drive-through with Asher in the car throwing a fit because we are WAITING at a window, mom!

So tonight, instead of sitting through the crying, I am in the line for the drive-through making vrooming noises. My window is down, and there I am with a silent baby in the back who is unobservable because of the tinted windows, and I’m pretending to have some sort of stock car race with my mouth. I may not have been the weirdest thing those drive-through workers had seen, but I’ll bet I at least received a “you’ll never guess,” when they went home that night.

The things we do for our children…

In other news, the baby has realized that if he runs off with his pants in the morning, it takes me much longer to put him in them. He’s usually so proud of himself about it, too, waving them in the air with a smile on his face as he stalks around the kitchen and growls.

He’s trouble, but he DOES make me laugh.

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Fairyland Temptation

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I’m half-convinced that not only are there Fairies at the University of Redlands, but that they’re actively trying to get me to join them.  Observe the evidence:

Asher and I walk Brian to work most mornings.  I was walking home a few weeks ago, and I passed a tree which had step stools of mushrooms leading up to its trunk.  I thought it was funny, and it made me wonder what kind of nyad would willingly live on a college campus near Frat Row.  The debaucherous type, I suppose.

I passed by the next day and the stepping stones were gone.  Closed for business was Fairy Land, I guess.

But then the lilies started to appear in strange places, big pink clusters of them peeking out of the ivy, no visible leaves but just a stalk rising from the dirt.  There is no rhyme or reason for their placement.  We’ve seen feathers falling from the sky, and a secret mailbox ensconced in a bush by the alumni house.  Half open, for temptation, of course.

This week I found a mushroom doorstop clinging to a tree, the joint where the roots meet making a perfect semblance of a door.  It’s been tempting me every day since, and that one hasn’t closed for business yet (probably because it’s not in the path of the mowing gardeners).

All of this, of course, can’t be just coincidence.

My question is, though, what kind of Fairy thinks that a 36 year old lady with a baby would go rushing off to join them?  What would I do with the baby?  He’s formula fed, and I wouldn’t know how long until we could get back so I’d be loathe to go without some assurance that he’d be fed.  I can picture myself loading up the stroller with eighteen canisters of formula, falling out on the sidewalk as I try and inconspicuously walk around campus to the tree.

Or worse… “Don’t worry,” the Fairies would say.  “We’ll feed him.” but we ALL know what that means.  I’d never be able to take him back to the mortal realm again.

I suppose I could leave the baby with Brian and go alone.  But I’d be forlorn without that boy.  And time passes differently in other realms.  I’d never take the chance that I’d miss seeing Asher grow up.

So I’ve been viewing it all with quiet amusement before going home to get the baby a bottle and put dinner in the crock pot.  Maybe do a few loads of laundry while I’m at it.

I’m writing a book about Fairies right now.  Maybe they’re just telling me they approve of my next novel?

Anyway, that’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

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Ceiling Fan Magic

This family just went on Vacation for the first time.  My Mother-In-Law had reserved a time share for a weekend up in Big Bear, but then ended up not being able to use it.  She offered it to us instead. And it was mostly a good time although VERY stressful.  The packing list alone, man… Also, Asher didn’t know what to think of it and refused to adhere to any kind of regular schedule while up there.  I worried.  Incessantly (he’s fine, of course.  He’s even sleeping soundly).

But we had good times amidst all my superfluous woe.  It was beautiful up there. And the weather was not a million degrees too hot to go outside.  We hiked, we swam, we enjoyed awesome Nepalese food at the Himalaya Restaurant, we strolled by the lake.

Asher didn’t care about any of that.  His favorite was the new and fancy suite to run around in.  New rooms with funky flooring!  Vertical blinds!  Oh, the remotes! And then there was his one true love, the ceiling fan.

I noticed it one morning when I had pulled him into bed with us.  He stood on the white comforter, one hand bracing himself steady on my hip, and gestured to the fan.  He stared at it, and his hands twirled.  His fingers extended out and then in again as he gestured, pulling his arm back, pushing his arm forward.

It looked for anything like he was performing magic on the fan.

So here is the question: what WOULD an eight-month-old want to summon from inside of a fan?  Or is he just trying to keep it running with his magic fingers?  He did this several times throughout the trip, too.  It wasn’t a fluke.

I don’t know, man.  I may be waiting for an owl to fly in my window in a few years with an epistle from Hogwarts.

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A Nano Wrap Up

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Well, tomorrow is the end of Camp Nanowrimo, and I did VERY good this year.  In fact, shock of shocks, I won. I have an excellent track record at the regular Nanowrimo in November (I’ve won every year but last on account of, you know, going into labor and stuff), but I’m typically pretty terrible at Camp.  It lacks the urgency of November, and the cabins don’t really do anything for me.  Pep talks are also typically not as inspiring.  Still, it’s a good opportunity to have a little accountability.  I don’t usually win, but I usually get more done than I would have without participating.

I’ve been holding off on my writing this year (and honestly most of my hobbies, too).  The Small Boy takes precedence over everything right now.  But he’s becoming more self-sufficient with his entertainment and sleeping pretty consistently most nights.  Which means I found it pretty easy to scare up a bit of time for the writing this month.

I didn’t write things every night, though I did do things that furthered my writing career.  But I did write most nights, am about 1/3 of the way through the “final” draft of my next novel (before Autocrit, maybe Critique Circle, then 2nd/3rd party edits).  And I think, going forward, that I’m going to instate my old goal for the year.

  • I will write 20 days of the month for all the months left of 2018.

I think it’s totally doable, and I’m posting it here so that you can all keep me accountable to it.  I’ll include it when I do my rundown in December on whether I reached my goals for the year or not.  It may be a pipe dream, since the Alpha and Beta read process can take a long time, but I’m kinda hoping to get book #2 out to the world by this time next year.

Also, I GOTTA find a way to speed up that process…

That’s it for now.  T-minus 1 day until Blue Gentian releases!

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Baby Days

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It’s been a while since I’ve done a post about life in general.  Largely, it’s been good.  Although I will say that it’s a bit strange to be a stay-at-home mom sometimes.  I find that most of my day isn’t terribly interesting; always repetitive, even while it’s extremely rewarding.  All I need is a baby grin and I’m a happy mother.  Bonus points for one of those shrieking giggles he gives sometimes about unpredictable things.

Being a mother is also surreal, though.  Asher doesn’t look exactly like me at his age, but he’s close enough that things get strange in my head.  Especially when I’m sleep deprived.  I often get the sense that I am outside of time, scrubbing my own elbows in the whale-shaped bath, cajoling myself to eat peas, pulling my tiny self close at 3 am when I’m having a hard time sleeping, singing show tunes to calm my younger nerves.   I know logically that he’s not me, but the lines still blur.

It feels sometimes like I traded everything that made me interesting for a suitcase full of baby snuggles, but it never feels like it wasn’t worth it.  Baby snuggles are pretty great. Besides, I know it’s a temporary condition.  My mother and grandmother, both stay-at-home moms, are/were VERY interesting women.  And I sneak in interesting whenever I can, between the cracks of bottles, naps, and routine.  Brian, wonderful Brian, helps.

It’s summer, so Brian and I have been taking Asher on an adventure once or twice a week – hiking, to the Redlands Bowl, swimming… It messes up the baby’s schedule but I think it’s worth it for the way it breaks my monotony.  After all, if Mom isn’t happy no one is happy, right?  That’s what I’ve been told and I don’t intend to test the theory.  That and books are my saving grace.

I don’t know why motherhood is this oxymoronic bundle of easy, boring, and the hardest thing ever, but it is.  I’m continually looking forward to whatever this baby is going to do next, though.  That’s all I really wanted to say this week.

Also, just for kicks, I’m going to write down our daily schedule for posterity:

  • 6:00 am ish – Baby wakes up.  Brian or I feed him a bottle (whomever is more sleep deprived gets to sleep).
  • 6:30 am – Brian gets up and gets ready for work while I corral the baby.  He usually squirrels around and plays with his Totoro plush while I sing to him.
  • 7:00-7:10 am – Brian finishes getting dressed, so he corrals the baby while I get dressed and eat breakfast.
  • 7:40 am – Brian leaves for work and the baby is MINE.  I feed him and sing songs to him until he either gets fussy or finishes his tray.
  • 8:00 am – Asher plays for about an hour, doing mostly his own thing except that every 10 minutes or so he wants to climb into my lap and get kisses for a second before moving on to the next thing.
  • 9:00 am – Bottle and nap time.  This kid usually falls asleep while he’s eating, right on top of me.  I read quietly on my phone until he wakes up. He used to have another nap later but for the past few days this one has just been epically long.
  • 10:30 am ish – Baby wakes up and plays again, but this time I MUST BE RIGHT THERE for him to stand on or hug him.  He wants to be touching.  Unless he doesn’t.  But no really, he does.
  • 11:00 am – This kid gets another bottle, though he stays awake and hums at me through it. He plays when he’s done, crawling around the living room from toy to toy.
  • 12:00 pm – Brian comes home for lunch.  We swap out watching him, and I get Asher a tray when I’m done eating so he can have lunch himself.
  • 12:45 pm ish – Depending on the weather, Asher and I walk Brian back to work.  The baby usually falls asleep sometime during the walk, and (depending on the weather) I just park him under the shady tree in the front yard until he wakes up while I sit on the bench on the porch and read some more.
  • 1:30 pm ish – This kid wakes up and we head inside.
  • 2:00 pm – Baby gets another bottle, to which he usually falls asleep.  This one’s his long nap, and I can usually count on 1 1/2 hours from him.  Yesterday he slept for 2 1/2, though… When he wakes up, he plays.  He doesn’t care at all about me now, just wants to do his business on his own time.
  • 4:00 pm – Another bottle for baby.
  • 5:00 pm – Brian gets home.  After Brian’s changed out of his nice work clothes, I get a small respite from being “in charge.”  And if there’s anything I need to do on my own, I can do it.  I also often make dinner.
  • 6:00 pm – Everyone has dinner together, Brian and I at the table and Asher in his high chair.
  • 7:00 pm – The baby bedtime routine commences.
  • 8:00 pm – Asher is (usually) asleep by now.  The adults collapse in exhaustion in front of the TV.
  • 10:00 pm – The adults go to bed.  Or at least pretend to (if my book isn’t too diverting).
  • Sometimes Asher will wake between 3:00 am and 5:00 am in which case he’ll get a bottle before going back to bed in the pack-and-play in our room.  Sometimes he doesn’t.  It’s kinda a crapshoot. And that’s it!  Are you tired yet?

 

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Blue Gentian

Blue Gentian Cover - Final -

Well, thanks to Camp Nanowrimo, I finally have my act together on something.  It’s only been four days, but so far it’s given me the bit of a push I need to prioritize at least some of the writing.  Some days I don’t get much done, but it all adds up, right?  And at least I’m DOING something now…  We’ll see if that continues.

After much ado, I have some amazing news:

Blue Gentian is all formatted and ready to go.  I tweaked the cover a little bit font-wise, as you can see above, and the book will be available for pre-order on Amazon in a couple of days with a release date of August 1st.  I’m going to try and do a thing where at least one of those weeks is a week you can get the book for free (please consider leaving me an honest review if you do download for free). I decided a long time ago that I’m making writing career decisions based on getting lots of people to read my stuff and not based on monetary concerns.  After all, I have a day job.

To say I’m EXCITED would be an understatement.  I’ve been working on an iteration of this book since high school, and it’s finally here and as perfect as I can make it.  Those who have read it for me have been excited about it too.  I hope you’ll consider picking up the book when it goes live.

And thank you for following me here and paying attention to my writing.  It’s you as much as anyone that gave me the courage to get this book into the world.

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The Annual 4th of July Post

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I’m going to preface this entry by saying that I’m a closet rampant Christian.  Or, not closet exactly… I just believe that there’s many ways to reach God and that Christianity is a good one, but I know it doesn’t work for everyone as amazingly well as it works for me. So, I tend to keep quieter than some.  I mean, it’s not like you’re NOT gonna hear the message of Jesus in America today…

I’m putting in this preface because I’m going to get a little religious on you at the end.

I’ve been feeling like a big fuddy-duddy this year about the 4th of July, and if I’m feeling it you better believe it’s bad.  I’m usually all about breaking out the tricorn hat and ’76 flag while humming Stars and Stripes Forever and carrying a sparkler. But America IS NOT living up to what it should be in ways so profound that I’m not even sure we qualify as a democracy at this point.  A fascist oligarchy? Maybe.  Democracy?  I don’t know.  I’m hoping we can get back to a semblance of democracy soon.

I’ve always been a proponent of the fact that the 4th of July is a day to revel in the promise of America, the US that never actually can be because it’s an ideal.  It’s a day to party it up, think of freedom and founding fathers, listen to a little fife music, and gain stamina for the fight to make the actual US match the fantasy US.  If we bathe in the America that could be for a day, we can better work towards that actuality in the coming year. A little bit closer, the years bending toward justice.

I just didn’t want to do that this year.   I see the country standing for so much hatred to the point where we’re not even acknowledging the humanity of children.  Where do we even go from here? Is there a bottom lower than this one?  I don’t want there to be.  I didn’t want to ponder or celebrate America at all right now.

Still, in church this morning we had a little America celebration.  We sang My Country ‘Tis Of Thee and America The Beautiful among other things.  The sermon was on making apologies for deep wrongs.  I sat in that sanctuary, sang all the verses, and found that maybe I did feel okay about celebrating the 4th after all.  Because the Founding Fathers knew that this was a fraught experiment with potential for abuse, but they also knew their scrappy citizens who cling to liberty with both hands.

I want to point you to two verses in each of the songs from this morning:

O beautiful for heroes proved, in liberating strife,
Who more than self their country loved, and mercy more than life!
America! America! God shed His grace on thee.
Till selfish gain no longer stain, the banner of the free!

Our fathers’ God to Thee, Author of liberty, To Thee we sing. Long may our land be bright, With freedom’s holy light, Protect us by Thy might, Great God our King.

I think that this 4th is going to be more of a religious holiday for me this year.  I’ll be praying for everyone to be crowned with brotherhood, for selfish gain to no longer stain the banner of the free, for God to protect us with freedom’s holy light.  I’m hoping that the fireworks will shine like a benediction on these prayers on Wednesday night as they light up the firmament.

And then on the 5th, I’m going to fight like hell again to secure the blessings of liberty for myself and my posterity.

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I’m probably crazy…

Thank you to everyone who participated in the cover poll. The results are in!

Forest: 20

Caped Heroine: 9

Sparkly Face: 4

So, it looks like I’m going with the forest one. I’ll play around with the fonts a little more and see if I can’t get something better, though, since there were a lot of comments on that.

I’m a little nervous about it. Everyone I know who does design liked the Caped Heroine best, and honestly that sort of thing is what I’m seeing from most self-employed published authors. Still, Forest has my heart, and evidently the heart of everyone who has read the book (thanks to everyone who beta’d, too!).

That’s the great thing about self-publishing, though. If Forest isn’t selling the way I’d like, we can replace with Caped Heroine and see if it does any better. Yay for total control!

Aside from a few minutes faffing around with stuff that’s already mostly done, I haven’t done any real writing in a VERY long time. In a bid of desperation, I’ve decided to sign up for Camp Nanowrimo this month. Yes, I’m crazy.

I’m trying to take it easy on myself, though. I’m calling this project “be a writer” and I’m giving myself 1000 words for every day I do something writerly. Updating the blog, editing, creating Blue Gentian’s cover, formatting, outlining, actually writing fiction, plotting, random notes and penguins and iguanas lists; anything counts.

It will be hard, especially since I’m so out of the habit and in summer school. But I have faith in me.

I want to get ready to put my next book out, now that Blue Gentian is all but finished. It’s about 1/2 way through draft 2 right now, and I have at least two more drafts before I can put it though Auto Crit and then show it to Brian. Major rewrites usually follow any Brian input, and then there’s beta reading… Basically I’m saying it’s a WHILE off, even if I do manage to get my act together. It’s called Easterbay, it’s set in Maine during the 1940s, and it features creepy fairies.

I’ll keep you updated on how it’s going. Stay tuned for more. Also, I’m Caseykins over at the Nanowrimo site if anyone wants a writing buddy.

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School

I am officially a stay at home mom these days. At least for the next year or so. How am I managing that on our pared-down lifestyle? I’m going to school.

I have been thinking about babies and careers for a long time now, and when it all came out in the wash, it came out English teacher. Not only are the benefits great and the hours conducive to kids, but I really couldn’t think of a better way to spend my days than surrounded by books and writing. I’m hoping my enthusiasm will be infectious.

I got my fieldwork assignment, though, and I panicked. Because somehow in the middle of all this, I forgot how much I loathed high school. Like, I hated it so much that I graduated in three years just so I wouldn’t have to be there anymore, only allowed because I threatened to drop out. And now I was going back? Voluntarily?

Careers and I have always been uncertain bedfellows. I have worked the longest at Disney costuming, and it took me years to realize it wasn’t going to work. I could put up with bad pay, lack of advancement opportunities, and the horrible commute. What tipped me over was the hours – 12 hour days, midnight parade rehearsals, never a break. In short, no room for children.

I remember feeling, on my last day, not exactly sad, but nostalgic. I looked back through the white steel gates to take it in one last time, the yellow swoop of the Team Disney building, the boxy windows of the Eat Ticket, the gray concrete parade building, where I worked, beyond. I watched dozens of people in different uniforms scan their passes and go though the gates. ‘you’ll never be a part of anything if this scale again,’ I told myself, not unhappy with the prospect but still lingering. Eventually I turned and drove home.

My first week returning to high school just ended. And it was ALMOST just as I had thought it would be, with one major difference. It was like attending your very favorite class in high school all day long. The kids were smart little assess. I enjoyed myself.

As supervisory teacher was showing me around the campus, the quad full of trees and planters, the tan cinder block buildings tucked under the mountains and the blue California sky, I found myself returning to that last day at Disney.

And I realized… I might be embarking on something of that epic scope again. I’m looking forward to the rest of it.

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Songs and Rain

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It’s a strange combination of spring and winter in California right now.  The Roger’s Red, which I measure the seasons by, has begun sprouting silvery leaves again.  The lavender is blooming in my front bed, and the giant Maple in the front yard is all dappled with fresh green leaves as well.  But it has been raining a dreary drizzle for days now.

It reminds me of the winters when I was a child.  Our house was mostly windows back then, and the loudness of the rain falling made you feel like you were out in it while simultaneously being able to cuddle up under a fluffy comforter with a book.  Sadly, I can no longer cuddle up under anything and expect to read.  I have a small boy who needs constant holding and attention.  He already grabs my phone when I’ve been reading on my kindle app too much.

He’s surprisingly coordinated now.  Meaning that when he tries to put things in his mouth he gets them within an inch of his target, hitting his cheeks or his nose most times.  That isn’t what I would call coordinated at all a few months ago, but the fact that he could reach for something and grab it was a revelation, let alone put it mostly where he wants it.  He’s like a little birdy with his mouth, too, opening it wide for a pacifier, a plush toy, a fist, or a nipple.  He’s putting the whole world in his mouth.

I have discovered that if you put me alone in a room with a small child long enough, what results is silly songs.  I’ve been singing “He’s got the whole world in his mouth” to the tune of “whole world in his hands.” You can substitute the verse for whatever he’s currently eating.  “He’s got his mother’s knuckle in his mouth,” is a popular one.  So is “the sleeve of his onesie,” and “his green knit blanket.” But really you can substitute almost anything.  We’ve been trying to avoid “the sudsy washcloth” with more success than not.

I also have been singing him this song, to the tune of “I Hate to Get Up In The Morning.”  It’s based on true events.

Oh how I hate to get up in the morning/ oh how I’d love to remain in bed/ But when your son pees on all your fancy clothes/ you’ve got to launder all of those/ Or spend the rest of your life na-ked. 

Add that to the bevvy of things we’ve all pulled out of nowhere to sing him, and he’s going to have the strangest musical vocabulary ever.  Brian sings him “I Feel Pretty,” (he likes the “la, la, las,”) and my mother has been singing him the theme song to Daniel Boone.  I’ve been singing him Alan Sherman tunes amid musicals, hits from the 40’s and 50’s, girl scout camp stuff, and my own silliness.  He babbles back with smiles.

It’s harder being home with a kid than it logically should be.  I mean, feeding, changing, and playing aren’t theoretically difficult things, it’s just that they never end.  But being home with him is also more rewarding than I expected.  All I need is to launch into a version of “Look to the Rainbow” and feel this kid snuggle into my chest to feel like it’s all worth it.  Maybe days of bedding down in the rain with a book just got more social…

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