Friday, November 30, 2007

I Did It!


I need a nap.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Oh Dear!


Looks like the girl from school was telling the truth!! I found this on eBay. It's a hamster tote (read: purse) a vest (I don't know if I can go on!) and a beaded leash. Beaded! I have to ask, what could possibly be next? A fishbowl on a necklace so you can take your fish out on the town?

More Christmas Myths Dispelled

Myth #1 Stuffed Animals Need Stockings
Today I had to explain to Jonah that stuffed animals did not celebrate Christmas. Nevertheless, Jonah has put up a stocking for his stuffed dog Patrick. I suppose this is a special Christmas for Patrick. Jonah has requested as one of his Christmas gifts, a wife for Patrick.

Myth #2 Hamster Leashes Make Great Christmas Gifts
Ethan has ignored my previous instruction about who in the family is eligible for Christmas presents and has requested a hamster leash for Jacob so he can take him for walks. I have serious doubts that such a product even exists. Ethan claims a girl in his class has one for her hamster. I don't even want to dignify the seed of curiosity this has planted within me with an Internet search, but we all know I'll Google it as soon as I'm done with this post.

Myth #3 It is Christmas Tomorrow
My Christmas wish is that Jonah and Isaac will stop asking if tomorrow is Christmas. It's not. It's not even December. They've actually been asking me this nightly question since before Thanksgiving. Serenity now!

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Hamsters Don't Celebrate Christmas

This morning before Ethan left for school: Mom, what are we going to get Jacob (hamster) for Christmas.

Me: Nothing

Ethan: I was thinking we could build him a big play area in a box with tubes and things to climb on.

Me: He already has a play area. It's called his cage. He's got a wheel. That's fun.

Ethan: Maybe we can each get him one present so he would have 5 things to open on Christmas.

Me: If you want to buy him presents, be my guest.

Ethan: We need to take Jacob to the vet. You are supposed to take a hamster to the vet once a year.

Me: (Are you kidding!!) I don't think so. Besides, he's not a year old yet.

Ethan: Can Jacob have a stocking?

Me: Ethan, hamsters don't celebrate Christmas

Friday, November 23, 2007

Black Friday Bail Out

For the last few years I've abandoned sleep and braved the crowds to get in on all the fabulous Black Friday deals. This year I planned to do the same. However, this 50,000 word novel is taking up a bit of my time and I didn't do the freakishly detailed planning I've done in years past.

In the past, I've subscribed to a Black Friday website that sends out lists of store sales as soon as they become available. Some of these sale notices are available around the end of October so you have at least 3 good weeks to plan your Black Friday strategy.

Additionally, I subscribed to e-mail updates from my favorite stores, like Bath and Body Works and Eddie Bauer to get last minute special deals and additional coupons and e-mail love notes.

This year I did none of that. The extent of my planning was to purchase a newspaper Thanksgiving morning with the plan to browse all the store flyers on the way to Olympia for Thanksgiving at Aunt Paula's house. Unfortunately, the newspaper I purchased did not have flyers for the stores I was interested in shopping. There was no Fred Meyer, no Toys R Us, and no Kohl's. The newspaper did contain a Target flyer, but there was not one thing in it to tempt me.

Later in the evening, I was able to see what was on sale at my favorite stores, but there wasn't anything worth getting out of bed for. So I didn't.

I did shop later in the day and was able to get a few very important Christmas items. But that is all I will say about that.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Four Months Ago Tonight...

Where were you 4 months ago? Were you reading Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows? You were? Me too! Here's a little Harry Potter fun for those who are interested. Warning: Just watch this once. I can't be responsible for anything getting stuck in your head all day. (Voldemort, Voldemort, oh Voldie Voldemort!)

In the Mailbox

The toy catalogs continue to fill the mailbox. Most are actually really cool. For some reason I got on a mailing list for educational toys, so I get catalogs like Constructive Playthings and MindWare. But today I got MetKids from the Metropolitan Muesum of Art.

I was immediately taken back to my days as a New Yorker; those money scraping, no air conditioning, work for free, days as a BYU intern when I could get Broadway musical tickets for $20. (I didn’t know how good I had it!) The Metropolitan Museum of Art was free, and therefore, a place I went often.

The museum store was awesome and I wandered up and down the store aisles imagining the day I would be able to actually afford to buy something from it. That day finally came when I purchased a beautiful address book with artwork by Wiener Werkst├Ątte for $7.95 which I still treasure today, masking-tape covered spine and all.

Angela, there is a book and CD of Peter and the Wolf for $19.95 that you might be interested in. Claire, maybe Preston would like “What Can You Do with a Paper Bag?” A book that has instructions for making hats, wigs, masks, crowns and helmets using a paper bag. I noticed a picture of a King Tut head dress on the cover that would have fit in perfectly with Preston’s Egypt studies. (Not to mention the “make your own Egyptian Mummy kit!)

Anyway, I spotted this art kit and this one and was excited because my novel’s main character receives something similar to this and I didn’t feel like I described it very well, so I’m going to clip out the picture from the catalog and put it in my notebook for when I start the re-write.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Chocolate Fix


I made cookies today. You know how there are cookies you can whip up, bake and have the dishes done all with in 30 minutes. You have everything on hand at all times; you know the recipe by heart; you’re so efficient that you can also make bread dough, a potato casserole and bake a ham at the same time?

Well, these are NOT those cookies. I had to buy special ingredients for these cookies which required me to go to the store twice. I wouldn’t have had to go to the store twice, but I ate part of the ingredients and didn’t have enough to complete the recipe.

The cookies are Chocolate Malt Whopper Cookies and the recipe can be found here. I spotted the recipe at Cookie Madness and that blog link is at the bottom of my page. Unless you’ve become a vegan in the last 6 months, can’t tolerate massive chocolate overload, or insist on eating “healthy” by avoiding sweet snacks, these cookies are for you.

The recipe suggests using 6 ounces of bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped, or 1 cup of chocolate chips. I opted for the bar of bittersweet chocolate and I wish I would have just done the chips because the chopped up chocolate didn’t hold its form and kind of melted all over the place.

Anyway, the cookies were not too complicated, but enough so that I had to check the recipe a million times while I was making them. AND, chopping round whoppers is kind of a fun exercise in comedy.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

New Specs

Take a look at my new glasses. They’re kind of trendy, so I imagine I’ll be out of style with in six months, but until then, I’ll enjoy looking like a hip mom. Jonah was worried that I’d look like a jerk in my new glasses. When I asked him what “jerk” meant, he said he had no idea. (I guess that makes me feel a little better.)

So I was especially curious to get Jonah’s reaction when he came home from school today. He looked at me for a few seconds and just said, “good.” Ethan wanted to know why I didn’t get red frames. Isaac said he liked them, but wanted me to put the old ones on again.

I do feel like these glasses give me some kind of super writing power. Kind of like how Clark Kent took his glasses off and became Superman; I put these glasses on and become Super Writer. I’m not kidding. After I got home from picking them up, I wrote 1,000 words in like 10 minutes. (or something like that.)

*Update* Robert could not come up with a comment on the glasses when he got home because of his inability to lie. I gave him several ideas of things to say, but he couldn't bring himself to say any of them. (i.e. Wow, those are stylish glasses, those glasses have black rims, hey look, new glasses!) So, I gave him 30 minutes to figure out what his repsonse to the glasses would be and he finally came up with "they're growing on me" and "they kind of look like that lady from 30 Rock (nice try, but no they don't.)

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Welcome to "The Wall"

I've hit the wall with my nano writing. I need to make it up to 23,338 words by the end of today to be on track to finish by the end of the month and I'm just over 19,000. These are the hurdles I will need to overcome today:

1. My main character is a boy, but I don't think I should have done this. I mean, JK did it just fine, but she was really writing from 3rd person (right?) and I'm doing first person, so I have to be in this 12 year old boy's head a lot more. Do 12 year old boys notice small clothing details about the punk girl in their algebra class? (Probably not.) Do they notice medium clothing details? (I don't know.) Big clothing details (i.e. she was wearing all black....maybe, but would they even mention it?)

For this reason, I am wondering if the main character should have been a girl. I really wanted to write a boy book, but my main character is turning out to be too wimpy for my taste. I need to turn it around. But will any boy want to read about a boy that is just like them with fears and insecurities?

2. I have to get my main character to a party. It needs to be the kind of party that is thrown by an older brother while the parents are out of town and there needs to be all kinds of "who-knows-what" there. I say "who knows what" because, contrary to what you might be thinking, I wasn't very popular as a kid and never went to any parties. I've read books and I know what's going on at these parties, but I just don't know if I want my guy to go there. I'm really struggling with it. It's probably not as big a deal as I'm making it. I know when I'm reading these teen books I never mind a peek into the crazy-teen-parents-out-of-town party. I just don't know if I can write about one myself. I think I have party-phobia.

3. The whole premise of my book revolves around a map that was delivered to the main character's doorstep and which he saw upon returning from his old neighbor's funeral. I have only the slightest idea what the map leads to, but I'm thinking about changing that. Meanwhile, I don't know what the map looks like and I don't know WHERE it leads to. I know there is a secret door in the back of the shed that is not readily visible and I'm pretty sure the map leads through that door, but I'm not sure what to make the map look like so it's not totally obvious to the reader but not so confusing that no one could ever figure it out.

So, other than being crippled with self-doubt about moving forward on this book, everything is going great.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Dinner Comments

It's not too often I make a full-on dinner with all the sides. Tonight was one of those nights. I made Parmesan chicken, broccoli, a green salad (which got RAVE reviews when I made it for bunco last Friday), sliced apples and pears and french bread. Oh, we also had ice cream for dessert.

Here are some of the actual comments I got during dinner time:

I hate this.

Do I have to eat all of this?

I don't want this plate, give me another plate.

My feet don't work and I can't come to the dinner table, someone carry me.

Ouch! I bit a chunk out of my tongue, do you want to see it?

My stomach hurts.

I can't lift my arm to eat any more.

Someone put the broccoli in my mouth, I can't do it.

Did I eat enough for dessert?

I couldn't finish my chicken because the marinara sauce reminds me of my tongue wound.

I said get me more milk! Where's my milk?

You gave me too much ice cream!

I would try and teach my group of ingrates a thing or two by giving them cold cereal every night for the rest of the week but I have a feeling they'd actually like it.

Floam!


If you have a kid who watches kid TV, you’ve probably seen the commercials for Floam. In the ads, Floam is fun, Floam is exciting, Floam inspires creativity, Floam ends global warming, our dependence on foreign oil and world hunger.

In reality, Floam is messy, Floam gets on the carpet and won’t come off, Floam is the bane of my existence.

Jonah got Floam a while back and we quickly found that, contrary to the pictures in the commercial, Floam does not come out of the container ready to use. Floam is a mixture of foam microbeads and some kind of slimy goo. When Floam sits, unused for 10 minutes or more, the goo settles on the bottom and the foam microbeads rise to the top. Each time you use Floam, you have to mix these two substances together. The goo is sticky and the little beads love taking up residence between your fingers.

When you play with Floam, just about the only thing you can do is stick it to other things. It won’t hold its shape. You can’t create Floam coil pots and ash trays. According to the commercial you can “Floam” your skateboard, your bike or a model dinosaur. Of course all these projects would require about $1,379 worth of Floam (about a cup of Floam is $6.99!)

Now for a confession: A couple of weeks ago I noticed the tub of Floam up in a corner of the cupboard (where I keep all my half used candles) and since it had been probably 4 months since Jonah had played with it, and since I had absolutely no desire for him to play with it again, and since I decided to assume that it was all dried out without even opening the lid to check, I threw it in the garbage.

Two days later (garbage man had already come and gone) Jonah asks me to get his Floam down. “It’s right up there on that top shelf,” he assures me.

“No it’s not.” I say.

“Yes it is…I know its right up there!” He’s so confident; my heart breaks just a little bit for him. I know what I have to do.

“Jonah, I threw the Floam away.”

Jonah’s eyes get big with disbelief and he looks like he’s just learned the truth about Santa Claus, the Tooth Fairy and the Easter Bunny all at the same time. (Not to mention the truth that his mom occasionally throws out his stuff.)

I can’t help myself. I open my mouth and this comes out: “I’ll get you more Floam. We can go to the store right now!”

So we have more Floam and I’m back to picking foam micro beads out of the carpet. Meanwhile, Jonah Floamed one of his Army guys. (See photo above)

Friday, November 9, 2007

I Have Questions

Question #1: Are you right brained or left brained? Click this link and tell me if the lady is spinning clockwise or counter-clockwise. The site claims that most people will see her spinning counter-clockwise and that you can force yourself to see counter-clockwise, but I don't believe it. Anyone out there able to prove me wrong?

Question #2: Have you read or heard of these books? (See list below) After an hour or so spent browsing some blogs, Kirkus Review, and Amazon, here is my list of books to read. I think they are all middle grade and young adult. Do you have anything for me to add to this list? Anything I shouldn't waste my time with? Of course I will wait to start reading until December when I'm done with Nano writing. I'm just thinking ahead/wasting time.

The Bearskinner, by Laura Amy Schlitz

Moxy Maxwell Does Not Like Stuart Little, by Peggy Gifford (evidently a story about procrastination, so it seems to be right up my alley!)

The Navigator, by Eoin McNamee (might be a little too "fantasy" for me, but I'm willing to give it a shot. I'm judging the book by the author's really cool name.)

The Name of This Book is Secret, by Pseudonymous Bosch (speaking of cool author names...)

The Arrival, by Shaun Tan (waiting for me at the library NOW! A graphic novel, I believe)

Kiki Strike: The Empress Tomb, by Kirsten Miller

Love, Stargirl, by Jerry Spinelli (I loved "Stargirl" and am not to sure that I want to continue with the series since I really liked where it ended.)

Good Masters, Sweet Ladies: Voices From a Medieval Village, by Laura Amy Schlitz (Fuse #8 can't say enough good things about this one, so I don't think I can pass it up. Not really non-fiction, more like the script for a play.)

Hatchet, by Gary Paulson (I'm trying to read "boy books.")

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Black Queen on Black King

Now that I’m trying to write a 50,000 word novel, the game Spider Solitaire has become much more interesting to me. Before I tried to discipline myself to write a certain number of words everyday, Spider Solitaire ranked about a 1 or .5 on a scale of importance. Now that I’m writing a novel, Spider Solitaire’s ranking has jumped up to around 8 (on a scale from 1-10).

Why is this? Could it be that organizing the cards into neat little groups gives me comfort when I can’t organize my thoughts? Or, am I just lazy?

Meanwhile, Ethan is in his room “working” on a 5 paragraph essay which is due in 2 days. However, I can hear the familiar sounds of his favorite game “Bulls-Eye Balls” and I know it’s impossible to play that game and write at the same time. Maybe he and I should have a little writing party.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Candle Rules

Did you know there were rules to owning and lighting a candle? I had no idea until I found myself in the mall (I have no idea how I got there!) and wandered in to Yankee Candle Company.

First of all, a bit of advice to Yankee Candle: Could you pare down your scent selections a bit? How am I supposed to choose between Sparkling Vanilla, French Vanilla, Sugar Cane & Vanilla, Vanilla Cupcake and Christmas Cookie (which smells surprisingly vanilla-y)? It's vanilla for crying out loud! I need to save my ability to notice tiny to non-existent details for choosing between Hershey's Extra Dark chocolate bar and Hershey's Cacao Reserve chocolate bar.

Second, for a jar full of smelly wax, these candles are pretty pricey. Some marketing genius came up with the idea to sell the 14.5 ounce jar for $19.99 and the 22 ounce jar for $22.99. (That's 7 and a half ounces for just $3 more!) The medium sized jar will burn for up to 90 hours, which is just about as much time as I want to have the scent of Autumn Wreath penetrating my home. The large jar will burn up to 150 hours. To me, that is a commitment I just don't want to make. What if I get tired of smelling Autumn Wreath after 100 hours? I'm stuck with this scent for another 50 hours.

Yes, I know, I can put the candle on a high shelf somewhere and forget about it for a while, but I have better things to fill my shelves with than half used candles.

After finally deciding on a medium sized Autumn Wreath candle and purchasing it, enduring invasive questions (What's your phone number? Can I see your driver's license? Are you sure you don't want the large sized, 150 hour burning candle for just $3 more? What about a $10 "illuma-lid?") the cashier informed me she was including a list of tips and instructions for my candle.

Silly me, I thought I just held a match to the wick and let the candle do the rest. My 2 page "Complete Guide to Candle Use, Enjoyment and Safety," includes general candle rules (extinguish candles with care as wax may splatter. A candle quencher or snuffer is recommended), storage instructions (candles are sensitive to temperature! I had no idea.), and instructions on cleaning spilled wax (basically, if you spill the wax, you're screwed).

So, I'm off to trim my candle wick to 1/8 inch, make sure it's properly centered, find a safe, non flammable place to set it, carefully remove the glass lid (which is breakable), and burn the candle for one hour per inch of diameter. I'm a little intimidated, but I think I can handle it.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Catalogs, Meet Recycling Bin

I joked with Robert that lately, we've been getting 2 toy catalogs a day. Well, I may have been exaggerating, but it does seem like the toy catalogs have been multiplying in the mailbox. I basically hand the catalogs right to the kids who literally spend hours poring over them, announcing every 20 seconds, "I want this for Christmas," and then, "No, I mean I want this for Christmas."

Today when I got the mail we had three toy catalogs: Target, eToys (are they still in business?) and Discovery Channel Store. The Discovery Channel Store catalog has an interesting looking hydrogen fuel rocket for only $40. When Ethan gets home and starts looking at this catalog though, I bet the first thing he'll ask for is the DVD collection of Mythbusters Season 4.

I'll let the kids tear the catalogs apart for a few days then it's off to the recycling bin they go!

**UPDATE**
I called it! After a minute or so of flipping through the Discovery Channel Store catalog Ethan exclaimed, "Wow! Mythbusters Season 4 DVD Collection! Can we get that?"

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Back In the Pumpkin Saddle

Some of you may know that I had a pumpkin pie disaster a couple months ago. Without going into too much humiliating detail let me summarize: There was a party, pumpkin pie was requested, I offered to bring it (Yes! Of course I can make a pumpkin pie!), the offered pie was not so much pie, but more like pumpkin pudding in a crust.

To be perfectly honest, I’ve been hesitant to use my pie plates again. In fact, I think they stayed in the back of my car for 3 weeks after the pumpkin pie disaster.

So, tonight I gave it another shot. Following the same recipe, I made another pumpkin pie. It turned out great and it was delicious. I probably wouldn’t even mention it, but Robert insisted on taking a picture of the pie for my blog. So, after he worked with the pie for several different poses, I felt a little obligated to blog about the pie.

p.s. Those of you with whom I will be sharing Thanksgiving dinner will be happy to know of my pumpkin pie success as that is my food assignment. See you then!

Friday, November 2, 2007

Dumb Dumb

If you were here, Ethan would offer you a Dum Dum lollipop. I don’t know how these suckers got their name, but just maybe it refers to the people who save the wrappers and send them in for cheap merchandise.

Ethan is currently trying to save 20 wrappers so he can get a “Dum Dum” cap. He has 17 wrappers saved, and 3 more lollipops to eat until he has 20 wrappers. Right now, he’s offering a lollipop to anyone who passes by his room. I asked him why he doesn’t just take the wrapper and throw the lollipop away.

“Mom! That would be wasting!” Ethan gasped.

Once Ethan eats his remaining 3 Dum Dums, he will have 20 wrappers. He can then mail them in, along with $8 for the cap and $2 for shipping and handling, for a Dum Dum cap.

I am really having a hard time biting my tongue on this one. I suppose, when I was Ethan's age, I would have sent in 50 Bazooka bubblegum wrappers and $2 to get the Fortune Telling Fish if I'd had the stomach to actually chew that many pieces of gum. (Not that having a strong stomach should have anything to do with chewing gum, but I don't have time to come up with any more creative of a reason than that. All my creativity is going to Nano right now!) After a while, a bunch of candy wrappers is really just garbage, isn’t it?