Friday, March 30, 2012

Foreign Service Fridays: Raising a Third Culture Kid

Finally, a new post on Most Eligible Family! Sorry I've been slacking. Hope everyone has a fabulous weekend!

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Things I Love Thursdays: Compendium, Inc. Stationery

You know how when you're in line at a bargain store like Marshall's or TJ Maxx, they like to bombard you with last minute things you never knew you needed but suddenly have to have? They designed that set-up for suckers like me. And the other day, true to form, I was checking out at TJ Maxx with nothing more than a pair of kitten-shaped hand-warmers (which I only bought for Jack because he'd been playing with them for the past twenty minutes and had most likely sucked on one of them at some point), when a package of stationery caught my eye. There was a fox in a top hat leaping across the bottom of the page, above the quote, "Imagination rules the world."

Put a woodland critter on stationery and you've already got my attention. Add a whale wearing a tiny crown and I'm sold.

Of course, I also had to have the yellow notebook with the vintage-looking roller-skates on the front, accompanied by the words "Go. See. Do." And just like that, my simple $4 purchase had somehow become $20.

Compendium, Inc. is a Seattle-based company, and their website,, kind of says it all. They're quickly becoming my favorite small press (although Chronicle Books will always have a very special place in my heart). I'm dying to get my mitts on this adorable journal:


 And I think I've just found my new motto:

And that's what I'm loving this Thursday!

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Writing Wednesdays: Ask Not What You Can Do For Your Characters...

This Saturday, I'm attending a regional SCBWI workshop entitled "Rx for Creators of Children's Books: Getting Your Stories Right." This will be my first writer's conference since 2005, and so much has changed between then and now I can't imagine the experiences will be anything alike (I hope not, anyway; the last one wasn't much fun). In order to get our minds working for Saturday, we were given a couple of questions to consider by the workshop directors:

1.  How might your current story's character introduce you to a room of strangers?
2.  What does he/she/it whisper in your ear when the going gets tough?
These questions scare me for a couple different reasons. First, I'm now terrified we're going to be expected to introduce ourselves to the 90 other writers attending the conference as if our main character was doing the talking. I HATE speaking in public, but asking me to be clever while doing so is a recipe for disaster. Second, I have no idea how to answer the questions. So I'm hoping some of you might be able to help me out in the comments - can you answer these questions? How would your protagonist describe you? Does your character have any advice for you when life is getting you down? What have your characters done for YOU lately?

Monday, March 26, 2012

Music Monday: Gotye and Kimbra at the 9:30 Club

I am interrupting my normal blogging schedule to bring you my review of the Gotye concert at the 9:30 Club in Washington, D.C., on March 22nd. Well, review might be too formal a word, since I have absolutely no credentials to back up my opinion. But I do have an opinion (shocking, I know), so here it is!

First of all, this show sold out ridiculously fast, and since I didn't even know about it until a couple of weeks ago, I paid a lot of money for what should have been a $20 ticket. I have no regrets. Considering the San Francisco show was moved from a small venue akin to the 9:30 Club to an enormous stadium, I'm pretty sure this was the only opportunity I'll ever have to see Gotye perform (at least at a smaller venue). Plus, I'm pretty sure Gotye won't be coming to Yekaterinburg any time soon, so the tickets were worth the money as far as I'm concerned. The fact that the show was amazing certainly helps.

Thanks to D.C. traffic, it took me over an hour to drive to Sarah's house (6 miles, folks), so we didn't arrive to the 9:30 Club until 7 pm, when the doors were supposed to open. The line was already wrapping around the block by then. They let everyone in around 7:30 and Sarah headed straight for the food while I got the best spot I could on the floor. If you've never been to the 9:30 Club (this was my first time), it's basically a big open floor with a narrow balcony wrapping around the theater. "Why would anyone want to be up there?" I recall asking Sarah. Famous last words.

I'll admit that I was a little nervous about the crowd for a Gotye show. I figured it would be lots of hipsters who've been Gotye fans for five years and look down on recent converts like myself. I shouldn't have worried. There were plenty of hipsters, of course, but also a whole lot of preppy Capitol Hill types and a surprising number of middle aged people. I realized I didn't need to worry about my own street cred when the girl next to me admitted that her favorite band was Life House.

Kimbra went on at 8:15. If you've never heard of Kimbra (I hadn't until recently), she's a New Zealand singer/songwriter with an absolutely incredible range. She's very charismatic and physical on stage, and she really knows how to draw the audience in. Her songs are very eclectic - not stuff you can sing along with easily - so I'm not sure if I would like her music as much if I hadn't seen her live, but she's adorable (she was wearing a red floofy dress - very Betsy Johnson-ish - and she has thick black hair with even thicker bangs) and at only 22, unbelievably talented. Her band was equally amazing and it was a great start to the show. Sarah and I had a decent view of the stage and Kimbra's 45-minute performance was fantastic.

Kimbra! Photos courtesy of Sarah

And then the Gilmore Girls showed up and ruined everything.

Let me explain. As soon as Kimbra left the stage, there was a mad rush forward - apparently people who'd been hanging out at the bar during Kimbra wanted to get a good spot to see Gotye. This is just bad concert etiquette. Worse still, a group of about five women decided to plow through the crowd, shoving people aside on their ruthless quest to get as close to Gotye as possible. Sarah and I were right in their line of attack. Their ringleader? A woman who was attending the concert with her daughter and had decided that they had the right to shove anyone aside they wanted, but could then turn around and be horrified when someone dared remark that they were being rude. Of course this woman (who seemed mighty proud that she was taking her teenage daughter to a concert; I think we were expected to be amazed by the fact that she looked so young to have a teenage daughter and that she was clearly an incredibly hip, awesome mom) decided to stand directly in front of me. After bitching to one of the men she'd tried to barrel past that she was shorter than him and therefore deserved to stand in front of him, she had no qualms positioning herself in front of yours truly, and she was about three inches taller than me.

She had also shoved aside a girl who was there by herself and was even shorter than me, and this girl looked pissed, and scrappy. When the annoying mom decided to get herself a drink ten minutes before showtime, I resolved not to let her back in. Apparently the girl in front of me had the same idea, but the mom was bigger and meaner than the two of us, and she got into a shoving match with the little gal next to me.

"What are you doing? I'm with my daughter!" the woman screamed.
"You cut in front of us!" the girl shouted. "We were here first!"
The mom pulled her daughter protectively under her wing. "Don't listen to them, sweetie." Then she turned to me for support.
"Well, we were actually here first and you're taller than us. That's why she's upset," I said. The woman once again told her daughter not to listen and turned around now that Gotye was taking the stage.

The balcony suddenly looked like an absolutely brilliant idea.

For the next hour and fifteen minutes or so, I spent my time dodging right, then left, standing on my tiptoes, ducking down to peer through armpits - anything I could do to see past the mom and her daughter, who were not only be-bopping around like maniacs, but insisted on filming the entire concert on their phones. This of course blocked the view of several people behind them, including a large man who actually shoved the mom in the shoulder and told her to put her camera down. But Mama Gilmore was undeterred. At one point I gave up and started watching the concert on the daughter's camera - it was the only way I could actually see Gotye.

Sarah took the photos, since I couldn't see anything but Gilmore hair.

The concert itself was phenomenal. Gotye sounded exactly like his album, "Making Mirrors," even though he was playing multiple instruments while singing (I personally hate it when musicians sound totally different live than they do on their record). He opened with "Eyes Wide Open" (a song both Jack and I love - for some reason he thinks the lyrics "we walk the plank" are hilarious) and ended with "Bronte," the saddest song ever about a friend's dog dying. I can't help but think of Mattie every time I hear it. Then he disappeared for long enough that I started to wonder if there was going to be an encore before returning to the stage for three more songs.

He also performed a couple of songs not on "Making Mirrors," including "Hearts a Mess," probably his best-known song prior to "Somebody That I Used to Know." Unfortunately, I couldn't actually hear Gotye singing "Somebody," because the entire audience was singing along with him. He did invite the audience to participate in his performance of "Save Me," one of my favorite songs on the album. Even songs that I don't particularly love from "Making Mirrors," including "State of the Art," really came alive thanks to Gotye's performance (along with the amazing animation that played on the stage's backdrop).

Gotye performing "State of the Art"

An image from "State of the Art" on my Gotye shirt (yay!)

After Sarah and I got our T-shirts, we walked back to Sarah's place, reliving our favorite moments from the show and imagining the many different ways we'd like to kill the woman in front of us. In the end, I learned two things from this experience: 1) That I am an even bigger Gotye fan than before, and 2) That a concert is only as good as the moron you're standing behind. Next time I'll be sure to avoid crazy mothers and their teenage daughters. And I'll be wearing heels.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Something's Fishy

I don't have anything new to report on the Foreign Service front this week (other than a job interview that was pretty terrible; I'll let you know when they tell me I didn't get it), but there's something I've been meaning to tell you all about. It didn't really work as a "Things I Love Thursday" item, and "Things That Were Kind of Weird But Not Totally Awful" just doesn't have the same ring to it.

A couple of weeks ago, Courtney and I got the "doctor fish" pedicure. You may have heard of this, although it's now only done right here in Alexandria, at least in the United States, anyway (everyone else lost their license because of sanitation concerns; reassuring, right?). This is the pedicure where a couple dozen tiny fish eat the dead flesh off of your feet. I know. It sounds disgusting. And it kind of is. But it's one of those once-in-a-lifetime things that I'm all about trying these days (just like the Gotye concert last night, which totally rocked, btw; more on that later). Right now I'm running under the assumption that I'll only ever regret the things I didn't do. It's certainly been true in my life so far, and life is way too short to have regrets. So, I don't regret the fish pedicure. But it's not something that ever needs to be repeated.

Yes, those are actually my feet.
So, what exactly does it feel like, you ask? It feels like a bunch of small insects crawling all over your feet. It's tickly and creepy and bizarrely pleasant all at the same time. I mean, you figure all these little sucking fish must be doing something to your calluses, and there's some gratification in that. Although I'm pretty sure that what really got rid of my calluses was the cheese grater treatment I paid an extra five bucks for. The smiling faces of the ladies of The View, beaming down at me from a giant poster on one of the walls in the salon, helped somewhat. I figure if it's good enough for Barbara Walters, it's good enough for me.

But mostly I had to distract myself from the tiny fish wriggling between my toes and pecking rather violently at the sensitive underside of my feet by talking to Courtney. Fifteen minutes was almost too long. And apparently there are some places in the world where you can immerse your entire body in a pool with the fish, as a treatment for skin conditions like psoriasis. The only way I'd ever get in a pool with those fish is if I was unconscious. I shudder at the thought of having those fish ALL OVER me, exploring various crevices. Ewwwww!

So there you have it, folks. I tried the doctor fish pedicure and lived to tell about it. Hey, at least the fish got a free meal out of the deal. And I got a pair of soft tootsies that lasted about a week.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Things I Love Thursdays: Color Blocking

In honor of the Gotye concert tonight (woohoo!), here are some awesome examples of color blocking, as inspired by Gotye's video for "Somebody That I Used to Know."

The original inspiration. Yum.

Then again, why paint yourself when you can wear this T-shirt?

This would have saved some poor artist a hell of a lot of time.

Not ready to spend money on the trend? Try this:

Of course, if you have the time to do this, I worry...

Or use clothing you already have to create a color-blocked ensemble.

What do you mean, you don't have fuchsia pants in your closet? How are we friends?

You say you don't like color blocking? You DO like ice cream, though, don't you?

You can have your color blocking, and eat it, too.

And you can always experiment with your kid's room. Since they have no say in the matter anyway.

Horse print by owlthousand on Etsy

Only twelve hours or so until showtime!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Writing Wednesdays: How To Stay Sane While Querying

I recently started querying my YA Paranormal novel. It's a scary process, but I've been through it before (twice) so I know what to expect. In short, a lot of waiting around, some disappointment, and the occasional glimmer of hope. I have a few hopeful glimmers out there at the moment, but I also know not to get my hopes up too much. This is the nature of the game.

But even now, after having sent out more than my share of queries in the past, I still get insanely nervous every time I hit "send." Here's the thing: it takes hours to find the agents you want to query, to dig up blog interviews they've done, to suss out their formatting preferences (if they give them at all), and to make sure you've spelled every single bizarre last name correctly. Some agents are cool; they won't be mad if you include ten pages of your ms even though they didn't specifically say it was okay in their guidelines. They won't be offended if you call them Ms. when they're actually a Mrs., or if you add an extra "i" in their long, Italian last name. But there are others who are not so kind. They will reject you at the first typo (or so we are led to believe by some people out there).

The trouble is, every agent wants something different! And sometimes it just isn't clear what they want. Janet Reid, for example, just had a poll on her blog regarding page numbers. Apparently they're supposed to go in the footer, lower right. I've been following different guidelines for the past couple of years (in the slug line, upper left), and now I feel like a complete moron. Even if there were a standard for these things, they would be constantly changing anyway. I was apparently the last human being on earth to find out two spaces in between sentences is a major faux pas. How far down the page should the beginning of a chapter start? Are my one inch margins acceptable? Formatting the title page alone is enough to cause a minor heart attack. You see, it's not enough just to write a good book. Or even a good book and a good query. You have to get everything *just right*, or risk blowing an opportunity.

And then, at the end of the day, you have to be okay with the fact that your query might not even merit a rejection. While you're busy hoping that Agent X just hasn't gotten to your query yet, it could have been relegated to the virtual garbage bin weeks ago. It's an awful lot of work for potentially a whole lot of nothing. And you'll never know if you were rejected because your writings sucks, or because you just happened to put your page numbers in the wrong darn place.

Why is a query like a writing desk?

So, how does one stay sane in the face of all this madness, you ask? Some people suggest starting your next project. Others recommend working on your synopsis, just in case an agent asks for one. Some people find solace in complicated querying spreadsheets that make them feel like they have some semblance of control. But I find that the best way to stop obsessing about one thing is to find something else to obsess about. Schedule a telephone job interview with six people in Russia, for example. Or find a new musician you love and then make yourself crazy trying to find tickets to his sold out concert. Enter a few writing contests - those are practically guaranteed to cause obsessive worrying (about something other than your query).

Not that I've done anything like that, of course. These are just mere suggestions, from one nutter to another. Because if there's one thing I've learned, it's that there is no way to stay sane during the querying process. You just have to embrace the madness. And, as always, hope for the best.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Mommy Mondays: 200 Posts As A SAHM

Good morning everyone! This is my 200th post! That's right, in a year and a half or so, I've managed to find enough time to post on this blog 200 times. I can't say all of those posts were very good, or even worth reading, but it's still an accomplishment of some sort. It's meant that even when things weren't going very well on the novel-writing front, I was writing SOMETHING. And that's half the battle right there.

It also means I've managed to find a way to stay busy since quitting my job as a magazine writer and editor in late-2010. Not that being a full-time mom isn't work enough. But some days, I can't help but wonder, is it enough?

Here's the thing. All my life, I've wanted to be a mommy. I was the little girl who played with baby dolls, who played the mom in "house," who took care of the younger girls at camp. I didn't know what I wanted to be when I grew up, but I knew I wanted to have children. I saved my dolls and favorite outfits for the daughter I would some day have (ha!). I didn't know when I would have kids, but I knew I would have them. And then I got pregnant, and I was ready to quit my job then and there. But I stayed with it for a while, because even then a little niggling bit of doubt began to creep in. What if being a mom full time wasn't as fulfilling as I imagined it would be? What if the writer thing never panned out? Did I want my resume to shrivel up and die in the meantime?

So I worked from home the first year of Jack's life. But I was also his full-time caretaker. Toward the very end I got a nanny a few hours a week, once my boss made it clear that bringing Jack to work wasn't really working for anyone (including me; trying to edit and breastfeed at the same time is tricky, people). I tried putting Jack in daycare, but as much as I feared giving up any semblance of a career, I feared leaving him with strangers even more. It wasn't that I thought they were going to harm Jack in any way. I just knew they weren't going to take care of him the way I would, and I'd always told myself there was no point in having kids if I wasn't going to raise them myself.

It's funny the things you believe BEFORE you've had children.

I don't regret staying home with Jack, especially not for the first 18 months or so. But lately, now that the Terrible Two's have kicked in, I'm starting to think that if we weren't moving to Russia in five months, I would be looking for jobs during nap time instead of blogging. Admittedly, I was hoping that my fiction writing career would have taken off by now, in which case I wouldn't need a "job" job. But that hasn't happened. And after more than two years of staying home with Jack, I'm starting to feel burnt out.

Maybe that isn't really surprising. I've never lasted at a job for more than two years! And while I never used to consider myself a particularly ambitious person, or someone with major career goals, that all changed once I discovered writing. I've been lucky to continue to write and edit since having Jack, but it always seems like Jack decides to cut a nap short, or wake up early, or be generally impossible, on the days I really need to work. Take this morning, for example. John encouraged me to apply for a position at the Consulate in Yekaterinburg as a way to keep busy and meet new people once we move. Of course, I don't even know if I'm going to have childcare, so it's a little premature, but the job requires a security clearance, which takes months to get. At any rate, this morning I was supposed to complete a writing sample at 7 a.m. (Moscow is 8 hours ahead). Jack normally sleeps until 7:30, so I figured I'd be fine. Guess who decided to wake up at 6 this morning? So while I'm busy trying to write a fake letter to an incoming Eligible Family Member arriving at a post I've never even been to, Jack is tugging at my leg, asking for "Chicka Boom song" and "lap." I can't wait to see how my 7 a.m. conference call with Moscow and Yekat is going to go tomorrow morning...

Of course, there are days like last Wednesday, when I get to do this while everyone else is sitting in a cubicle:

Chesapeake Beach boardwalk

I mean, if you've got to spend every. single. day with one person, they might as well be short, chubby, and adorable right?

You don't want to stay home with ME? Say wha?

I am so grateful that I'm able to stay home with Jack, that I wasn't forced to take a job I hate just to put food on the table. I know how lucky I am. And I'm grateful for my amazing SAHM friends who have helped keep me busy, and sane, over the past two years. Being a mom is fulfilling on so many levels, and no matter what anyone says, it IS work. But is it enough? I don't know. Maybe I'll be able to tell you some day, after another 200 posts or so.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Foreign Service Fridays: Gearing Up

This week's installation of Most Eligible Family is here. Hope everyone has a great weekend!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Things I Love Thursdays: "Somebody That I Used to Know"

I don't think I need to go into why I love "Somebody That I Used to Know" by Gotye. It's brilliant. Just brilliant.

This cover by Walk Off the Earth is also freaking amazing. There's so much talent in the world!

I'm off to watch it again... Happy Thursday!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Writing Wednesdays: Pitch Madness

A few weeks ago I participated in a pitch workshop over on Brenda Drake's blog. I wrote about it here. But I didn't know when I entered the workshop that I would automatically get a spot in the top 200 of a contest called Pitch Madness.

These sorts of contests seem to be the thing lately - writers post a snippet of their manuscript, sometimes a query letter or a one sentence pitch, and participating agents try to outbid each other for the manuscripts. It's a great opportunity for writers because it creates a sense of competition that generally isn't there when you're just out querying blindly in the real world. It's also really scary, because everyone will see if no one is interested in your novel.

Of course, you have to keep in mind that a 35-word pitch and the first 150 words of a manuscript don't tell you much. 150 words isn't even a page! All of the agents are also interested in different things. Some people don't want Paranormal, so I already knew three or four agents of the ten who participated wouldn't be interested in my book. Since I had no idea how this would work out, I didn't really tell anyone about it. I wasn't even sure if I'd make it into the top 60 who were allowed to participate in the agent round. But I did (yay!) and I got three bids on my book (yay!).

I just wanted to say a huge thank you to Brenda Drake, Cassandra Marshall, and Shelley Watters for hosting the contest. I can only imagine how much work went into this - reading through 200 entries, picking the top 60, monitoring all the agents' comments, tweeting about the whole ordeal...not to mention coming up with the rules in the first place. This contest had a poker theme and since I can't for the life of me understand how to play actual poker, you can bet I didn't have a clue what was going on in this contest. I'm also extremely grateful that all of this was done blindly (you couldn't see the agents' comments until noon today) because it meant I didn't need to obsessively check their blogs every ten minutes. Of course I made myself slightly insane on Twitter, but it could have been way worse. Thanks also to the agents who participated! I'm so grateful for this opportunity!

Monday, March 12, 2012

Mommy Mondays: Parenthood: Not For the Faint of Heart

It is a truth universally acknowledged by parents that the most feared of childhood viruses is the dreaded stomach flu.

For over two years, John and I have managed to escape such horror. No vomiting, no diarrhea, even when we were both wiped out by the stomach bug of Christmas '10. Puking is bad enough when you're an adult, but when you're a child unable to utter such useful phrases as "Grab a bucket, I'm gonna hurl," the stomach flu becomes something akin to a minefield. A minefield containing hidden pockets of puke.

So Saturday evening, John and I came home from coat shopping (the quest for the warmest of all winter jackets seems to be at an end; we're opting for the ridiculously expensive Canada Goose, because it's the best, and when it comes to cold, I ain't messing around). John lifted Jack out of the car and, "Grak," Jack deposited the partially digested contents of his snack - goldfish crackers, to be exact - onto John's shoulder.

"I think I just picked him up wrong," John said doubtfully. I, being the pessimist I am, was already convinced it was something far worse. When Jack refused to eat his dinner, I knew we were in trouble.

Upstairs, as John was getting Jack's bath ready, I started to unclothe the child and heard a most unwelcome sound. Something like a cat getting ready to hack up a hairball. "Incoming!" I shouted, carrying a half-naked Jack into the bathroom, where he proceeded to projectile vomit into the sink. The poor kid was pale and trembling, clearly traumatized by the whole thing, but he seemed to feel much better once he got into the bath and we brushed his teeth.

"Maybe that's the end of it?" John said hopefully.

I shook my head. "Not a chance."

John got Jack ready for bed while I proceeded to vomit-proof the crib. See, I may not have experienced this kind of thing before, but I knew it would happen eventually. A plan for just such a disaster had formed in my mind ages ago, and now it was time to put the plan into action. First up - the accident-proof pads I used to keep under Jack's sheets when he was little. Next, two blankets that I tucked across the top that could be easily removed in case of emergency. All non-washable animals came out of the bed, while a select few blanket-type lovies were allowed to remain. I got the Pedialyte ready, grabbed a large Tupperware, and steeled myself for a long night. Two hours after the initial puke, we heard Jack whimper from his crib.

"GO, GO, GO!" John and I raced upstairs, grabbed Jack from his crib, and got him over the toilet just in time. I tried in vain to get Jack to drink some Pedialyte, but he was already falling back asleep, so we changed his jammies and laid him back down. An hour later, another whimper. This time the Tupperware was on hand and the vomit was contained. We gave Jack a few sips of Pedialyte and went to bed, ready to spend most of the night cleaning up messes and comforting a sick child.

Miraculously, I did not wake up again until 8:30 on Sunday morning. It was Jack's voice that roused me from my sleep.


I bolted upright, prepared to grab the Tupperware from the hallway.


And that, my friends, was that.

I am happy to say that John and I made it through our first stomach virus relatively painlessly. While John may consider the whole thing luck, I'm pretty sure it all came down to my carefully laid plans (and John's willingness to clean a hideously defiled sink). The next time the stomach bug decides to rear it's ugly head, we'll be ready. Because parenthood is war, people, and right now, it's Parents: 1; Vomit: 0.

Game on.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Things I Love Thursdays: The Little Things

I've always been a sucker for the little things. Not just tiny things (which I have a slight obsession with), but also with the small things that make life worth living: a funny thing John says; coffee with my sister; the joy on Jack's face when he eats...anything. So this week I'm bringing you a few small things that made my week not just liveable, but kind of wonderful too.

First up, these tiny crocheted animals by Su Ami.

Are they not the cutest things ever??? I mean, who DOESN'T need an extreme micro snail? Or a tiny chameleon! If that's not your thing, there are also tiny mountain goats, pugs, and sock monkeys. Okay, tell me you don't need a tiny sock monkey. Thought so.

Next up, this video of Jack and Anneliese getting a total thrill out of running up and down the same hill over and over and over.

And finally, there is this.

Who knew a one-dollar bow-tie from Target could provide such a fabulous photo op? Me!

Those are the little things that made my week. What about yours?

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Writing Wednesdays: My Very First Meme

I'm not even really sure what a "meme" is, but I've been tagged in one by the lovely Hope Roberson. Here's how it works, apparently:

  1. Go to page 77 of your current WiP
  2. Go to line 7
  3. Copy down the next seven lines or paragraphs and post them as they're written
  4. Tag 7 authors and let them know :)
I'm not sure they're the best seven lines, but I'm following the rules! So here, without further ado, is my Lucky Seven post:

Craig went up to the counter to order our coffee and I couldn’t help but stare at him. He was leaning against the counter, one leg bent at the knee, and the girl at the register was so nervous she dropped Craig’s money twice. "Keep the change," Craig said with a smile. When he walked away the girl rolled her eyes at her own clumsiness. 

“Here you go.” Craig handed me a mug and we sipped our coffee in silence. I tried to let my eyes wander casually around the room, but they kept returning to Craig’s perfect face. Every time our eyes met, Craig held my gaze until I looked away.  

Now I'm supposed to tag seven other people. I don't have a huge circle of writing friends, so I apologize if some of you have already been tagged. Please feel free to ignore at will!

Monday, March 5, 2012

Mommy Mondays: I Don't Wanna Grow Up

On Saturday night, our good friend Erin hosted a fabulous birthday party for Sarah and yours truly. Because we were born on Leap Day, and this was our 8th REAL birthday, we had an Eighties party. As in, Sarah and Mara would have been 8 in 1988; it's a bit of a stretch, but Sarah loves her an Eighties party, and my opinion never seems to count for much in these things. So, despite my pleas for a theme revolving around a slightly classier decade, we went ahead and had an Eighties Party.

If you can't beat 'em, join 'em.

Exhibit A: Sarah (aka Debbie Gibson), Liz (aka us when we were ten), Me (aka Madonna Lite - the platinum crimped wig came off after about two hours; I'm sure those photos will surface eventually)

Now here's the thing. I'm 32. I'm married (have been for nearly 8 years). I have a child. I'm too damn old to be running around DC in hot pink fishnets and fingerless gloves! And yet somehow, I find myself in these sorts of situations rather a lot (you might recall the Jazzerciser Halloween costume of 2011). I suppose it helps that I can pass for a college student (or a thirteen-year-old, if you ask my crazy dental hygienist), but I have to grow up eventually. Right?

When I had Jack, I made a deliberate attempt to age myself. Being carded is fine and dandy when you're out with friends. Not so when you're out with your child. After Sarah told me that one of the flight attendants on our recent journey to Washington made a comment behind my back about me toting Jack around "like a stuffed animal," it really hit home how young people think I am sometimes. I gave up the shirts with cartoon images and clever sayings (the red "Please don't eat me; I love you" pig shirt was a real heart breaker; the "Holla!" challah shirt is still stuffed in with my workout clothes...). I limit my Forever21 shopping sprees to a minimum (never mind that Sarah and I were dressed almost entirely in their clothing for this party...). I wear fairly neutral makeup and have given up the blue nail polish (navy doesn't count, right?).

But there is a part of me that will always love these totally ridiculous and immature endeavors. Maybe that's why I'm enjoying writing Young Adult fiction right now. There's just something so special about being young. Anything is possible. Reality (bills, jobs, death) hasn't yet set in. The future is as wide open as your imagination. If I can stick a giant bow on my head and pretend that it's perfectly reasonable to be singing "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun" (in public) with my best friends on a Saturday night, why shouldn't I?

Well, a really bad hangover and embarrassing photos, for starters. Sunday morning always rolls around too soon, reminding you none too gently that there are diapers to change and adult functions to attend. And you tell yourself it's time to put all this juvenile behavior to rest. For reals.

At least until I'm 76, when we all get to party like it's 1999!

Friday, March 2, 2012

Foreign Service Fridays: Now That I'm Done Freaking Out...

Go here for the latest installment of Most Eligible Family. Happy Friday!

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Things I Love Thursdays: Birthday Pressies!

This birthday was particularly fabulous. Not only did I receive some seriously awesome gifts, but I also got tons of Facebook messages, emails, phone calls, and cards from all of my amazing friends. Maybe it's because it was a REAL birthday this year? It's kind of nice that when people realize, hey, it's Leap Day, they also realize, hey, it's Mara's birthday! Yay!

Anyway, I wanted to share a few of my fave gifts from yesterday. First up, my truly gorgeous Kate Spade purse from John.

The Bow Bridge Monette shoulder bag (and she's all mine!)
Second, a delicious Queen Street cookie from my MIL that is so cute it deserves to be featured.

Get in mah belly! Oh wait, it already did...
Third, a delicious dinner at Rasika. If you haven't been - go! It's the best Indian food I've ever had.

Added bonus - LNRB and MB!
And finally, these weren't technically a gift for me, but I think you'll agree that these George Washington sunglasses my MIL got at Mt. Vernon are kind of like a gift to the whole world. A gift that just keeps on giving, if you will.

Oh My Elton John
Seriously, does it get any better? Thanks to everyone for making my day so special. Only four more years until we get to do it all again!