Friday, November 28, 2008

It's time for Christmas

And I mean now. Thanksgiving is finished. We had a different experience this year. Instead of bingeing on massive quantities of hot white buttered carbs and pie, we served some families from town at a friend's restaurant. It was not as crowded as we had hoped (and she had expected) so there was plenty of "down-time" but the kids all got to help, and Kate played dinner music on her violin for 2 straight hours. It was Scott's birthday, and I'm sure he could have envisioned something a bit more exciting to spend his day on than, say, squirting whipped cream onto slices of pie. But everyone was a champ, and service is always a good idea.

So the tree went up yesterday, and decorations were all over the house until I simply couldn't stand it any longer and swept them all into bins to store again. Why can't I throw away the funky ornaments from our "homemade" years? Why do I keep every tole-painted item that ever was wrapped and put under a tree with my name on it? I'm not a keeper, traditionally. I don't attach myself to "stuff" or even to traditions (see yesterday). But I have a hard time just taking that whole bin of cheesy Christmas junk and dumping it into the can.

Maybe next year.


Saturday, November 22, 2008


Scott comes home from Ecuador! I'm glad he's had a great trip. We haven't talked much, between a ridiculously busy week in North America and pricy cell rates in South America. But texting is so great (even if it takes half a day to appear sometimes) and Skype is a little miracle right in my computer screen.

He's had more success than he could have imagined (and I'm anxious to discover what that means), and his Spanish has improved greatly. Added bonus. I will surely regret the week spent not in rewriting my stories, but in cleaning and reading and playing and visiting and being busy in non-writerly ways. Because if I had ten thousand words to show him, he'd know I was productive and clever while he was gone. But if I had ten thousand new words to show, I wouldn't have clean windows. Or quite so scrubbed bathrooms. Or shiny grout. Or a dusted bookshelf (no, really!) or crisp clean sheets on the bed (not short-sheeted this time) or a long list of things to do, all crossed off.

Maybe ten thousand words next week. Or at least one (thousand, not word).

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

They Say...

Among other things, "they" say that time flies, especially when it comes to kids growing up. It struck me today in a moment of pondering (that's what I call it when the house is quiet -- otherwise all my moments are of either listening or avoiding) that next year, I will have a kid entering kindergarten and a kid entering high school. Yes. I am aware that I don't look old enough to have a kid entering high school. That is because I am lucky. And I got married young, and had a baby the next year. But I assure you, I am old enough, and I am still stunned.

I hope so many things for her as she starts off that adventure. I hope for fun, and for success, and for a lot of laughs. I hope for friends who are kind and good. I hope for teachers that challenge and encourage. I hope more than anything for confidence in herself. *That probably needs its own post, because why can't we wrap confidence up in pretty paper and a nice bow and just hand it to someone? I can think of several people I like very much and know very well who could use a gift like that. But I heard someone wise (Hi McNaughtan) say "Confidence can't be given. It must be earned." Hmm. More on that later, I'm sure.


Can I be overextended even when we don't really do anything? It is possible. I have a pretty firm rule that each kid can only do one extra-curricular at a time (mainly for budget reasons, but also for sanity) and we usually keep life fairly in control. But there are hours (last night, for instance) when Organization and Planning both sit back and laugh at me.

The oldest had a surprise meeting at 6. The third had a family party at school, with a jump rope team performance. And apparently "the top of my Christmas list is a jump rope. They're selling them at the party. I sure wish I could get one." Party also at 6. Second and fourth were happy to attend.

(Disclaimer: I know perfectly well how to say no. I think it's my most commonly used word. But I try to let them do something fun once in a while, especially when it's free.)

At 6.40 it was time to head over to the stage to be a Singing Virgin. It's not as cool as it sounds. I'm in a "Parable of the 10 Virgins" musical that is turning out to be more of an eternal commitment than I had any idea. And my oldest has become chief lighting technician for the production. SHe can work a spot like nobody's business.

So I left two, three and four at the school (under the careful supervision of a few friends -- mine-- who were in another room), went to my performance -- did I mention I was sick? -- and when I came home, not only were all three unattended kids home, they'd packed school lunches for next day, and were in their beds and ACTUALLY SLEEPING! How about that?

So I guess even when I have to do more than I'd like (more than sit home and read books to my kids by the fire) I can count on these great kiddies to step it up and get the jobs done. Yeah for them!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Agent thingies

So people who have agents say that the rest of us must-must have them too. Is this like me telling everyone that the Gruyere cheese from Costco is ridiculously superior to gruyere cheese anywhere else? Just because I like it, you should like it, too?


But today an agent told me I should have an agent.

I think he meant him.

The following things he really said and I am not making them up (hence the quotations):
"___ writes in the same style as you, but you are a much better writer."
"Your submission was my favorite that I read for this conference." (In fairness, how would I know if he said that to everyone? I grinned like an idiot anyway)
"Your career"
"Your next book"
"Change" (Just so you don't think I'm being unrealistic)
And finally, "Don't you know that paragraphs should be indented?" To which the answer is, "Yeah, theoretically."

I am still slightly giddy with positive attention and outside validation lo these nine hours later.

I'm going to give his "overhaul" suggestion a try in my next draft, and if it works, I'll send it on to him. Because he wants it. Because I'm great.

On a related but nonlinear note, I looked really great both last night and today at these schmooze meetings, mostly thanks to Bonnie's generous accessorizing assistance. It's so good to have a friend.

And also, I have a new friend called Annie Valentine who is selling hysterical shirts for the "Twilight" movie opening. Find her at or you will laugh, assuming you have any sense of humor whatsoever.

Friday, November 14, 2008


My preschooler and I just snuck in (okay, walked in, brazenly uninvited) to our elementary school to hear adorable author Brad Wilcox talk to first and second graders about how to write their own stories. He said (with actions that unfortunately I can't replicate here) writing is discovering what's inside you, getting it out, and putting it on paper. It was a great talk, inspiring to the kids. He gave my son a signed copy of his latest picture book "There's Always a Way, Annie McRae" which is very cute and all about dreaming big.

It reminded me of a talk I heard while I was a student at BYU. James E. Faust said, "You can have it all. You just can't have it all at once." Good stuff for me, then and now.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Five-year-old Boys

I love five-year-old boys. And the ones that are almost five, and to tell you the truth, I rather liked them when they were three, and two...

Case in point: Matthew has his buddy Dallen over today, and they are listening to Sandra Boynton's second best CD "Dog Train" (see also "Philadelphia Chickens" and "Blue Moo"). The iPod is playing on random -- don't ask me why -- and they've been patiently waiting for their favorite song, "Pots and Pans" as performed by The Bacon Brothers. Naturally it comes out to play as #17 of 17, so I get to watch them act out "I Need a Nap" (courtesy Weird Al and Kate Winslet) and "Settle Down" by Hootie and the Blowfish. Among others. And now the song has finally come. Out come two sauce pans, a metal colander, and a large collections of tea and soup spoons. And they jam. Twice. I take a little video and snap a couple quick photos. Maybe someday I'll become wiser than the technology and post those cute things.

Meanwhile, I could just eat these two little guys up (maybe over a PB&J and Allison Krause singing "Evermore").

Being the Mom

So the thing about being the Mom is that no matter what else needs to get done, Momming trumps it all. If I need to write and Matthew needs to read his Star Wars book, we read Star Wars. If dinner burns while I'm helping with piano or violin practice, so be it. Crispy dinner. If I want to be asleep before, let's just say hypothetically, 9:30 but someone wants some girl bonding, we bond.

Not to say that I'm so totally subverting my own needs and all that super-important pop psychology nonsense, because I defy you to find a more selfish woman anywhere. Really. But I'm just saying that when it's time to Mom, it's time to Mom and that's all there is about it.

Gotta run - Ellie needs a ride to school. NOW.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

It's Raining

And rain is good news because:

1. It is not snowing.

2. My grass is still green.

3. I can still see my grass (refer to #1).

Tomorrow there may be a different story, but as a girl who grew up in the midwest, I have to cheer for a fall that lasts longer than three weeks. As fall should.

Happy news

Yesterday my editor emailed me a page of positive reviews (they were all in-house, but they were all kind) on Bright Blue Miracle. It was fun to have people actually say nice things about my story/characters/voice and then SIGN THEIR NAMES TO IT!

...although I have to say that my favorite review used the words, "I didn't think I'd like this book". It's good comedy and irony and possibly humility-inducement.

I read Karen Hesse's "Brooklyn Bridge" yesterday -- she's amazing. Good historical fiction, good voice. Bad grammar didn't bother me after the first couple pages, because Joseph's voice was a charming reflection of his "straight-up Brooklyn guy"-ness.