Thursday, November 29, 2012

Things I Love Thursdays: Cute Christmas Gifts

Whilst searching for inspiration for this year's batch of felt ornaments, I stumbled across these adorable items on Etsy. They were too cute not to share.

Ursus the Astrologer Polar Bear from sweetbestiary

Rubber Ice Cream Stamps from MemiTheRainbow

Winter Terrarium Ring from HoKiou

Secret Hollow Locket from StrangelyYours
And my friend Courtney told me about these adorable animal prints from The Animal Print Shop by Sharon Montrose. If you're decorating a nursery, how cute would these be?

Baby Deer by Sharon Montrose at The Animal Print Shop

Kitten with Feather by Sharon Montrose at The Animal Print Shop


Monday, November 26, 2012

Mommy Mondays: A Rant, if I May

Last night just got added to my list of top ten worst parenting moments ever. A good half of them revolve around air travel, and this was no exception. See, we went to Paris for Thanksgiving, and the only flight back to Yekaterinburg from Frankfurt takes off at 8:30 pm. It's a 4.5 hour flight. I'll do the math for you - we arrived at 1:00 am Paris/Frankfurt time, which is 6 am Yekat time. It's bad, people. Just bad. Jack fell asleep (as usual) about an hour before landing, after crying and whining and being a general pain in the ass for the three hours prior. Then he woke up while we were landing and shrieked like a banshee - a combo of ear pain from a cold and just being plain old tired and pissed off. I didn't blame him, but I'm pretty sure the other 100 or so passengers did.

In the face of doing this all again in three weeks, only to a far worse extent (5 hour flight, followed by 2.5 hour layover, followed by 10 hour flight, followed by 2 hour layover, followed by 2 hour flight), I've come to realize that what is truly so horrible about air travel with a small child is not the child itself; it's the constant fear that I'm pissing off the people around me. But here's the thing: no amount of cajoling, yelling, bargaining, pleading, bribing or sobbing helplessly seems to make a difference when it comes to Jack. Yes, I was once one of those judgmental people who watched dazed parents sit idly by while their child had a tantrum mid-flight. "Why don't they DO something?" I would hiss to John, who would nod in agreement that when we were parents, we'd at least smack our kids around a little if they insisted on behaving like monsters. (I kid, I kid. Mostly). Hindsight, my friends. Hindsight.

The worst part is that there are other PARENTS out there who are just as awful and judgmental as the non-parents. Google "ways to help toddler sleep on airplane" (not that I've done this or anything) and you'll find all kinds of parenting message boards where one poor dope asks the question, clearly hoping for some magical solution like Benadryl, and is then bombarded with stories from mothers who have traveled around the world non-stop for eight days, who when not nursing their twin three-year-olds - who of course sleep for 24 hours straight - are entertaining their precious children with handmade puppets and educational flashcards or feeding them snacks of raw granola and fresh squeezed carrot juice. How dare you even think of drugging your child! The horror!

Let me tell you something - the only reason NOT to drug your child on a plane is that it may have the cruelly ironic side effect of making your child hyperactive. Trust me, I've tried it. And Jack is either one of those kids that responds poorly to Benadryl, or he's just freaking hyperactive when it comes to airplanes. (Considering I give him allergy meds on a semi-regular basis for actual allergies, and he usually sleeps like a log, I'm leaning toward the latter).

So what is a Foreign Service parent (or any parent who has to travel with their child every now and then on a flight longer than two hours) supposed to do? I'll tell you what THIS Foreign Service parent is going to do: make like all those glassy-eyed, frazzle-haired parents I used to judge and not do a damn thing. The other passengers may hate me for it, but I'm pretty sure my blood pressure - and John - will thank me in the end.

Monday, November 19, 2012


Just so you all don't think I've fallen off the planet entirely (at least those of you who are not friends with me on Facebook), I wanted to post a quick update before I head off to Paris for Thanksgiving. I know, I know - it's a tough life I lead. Seriously though, I'm beyond ready for a break from Russia. No snow for a few day will be a nice change, especially since I'll be in Montana for Christmas. Plus I get to see some of my family members who I don't get to see nearly often enough. And it's freaking Paris! How could I not be excited?

Writing has been awesome this month. I finished the rough draft of my new YA Contemporary on Sunday and I'm really excited to dig into revisions next week. Then it's off to a few betas (a nice mix of tough love and cheerleading, both of which I need in equal measure). I wasn't sure I'd be able to get this sucker written in three weeks, but despite work, working out, having a toddler - to include multiple major potty training fails - I made it work. My expectations are low, but it's nice to be reminded why I put myself through the tortuous submission process: because I LOVE to write. I'm grateful for so many things this year, everything from water filters to my job to the fact that I found my passion in life (it's writing, in case I didn't make that clear). Life is good. Cold, oftentimes awkward, and generally inconvenient, but good.

I also made a fake cover for the heck of it (since the NaNo website has a spot for one and it was killing me to see a blank box just sitting there). I took this photo from Office clipart, played around with it on PicMonkey, and voila!

It's not perfect, but I was limited in dimensions by NaNo and I wanted to fit in the title and as much of the girl's face as possible. Considering she's some random model, the photo was kind of perfect for a book about a girl who pretends to be someone else. She even looks the way I envisioned my MC, so yay! Making fake book covers is such a fun way to procrastinate...

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Halfway There

I interrupt this month off of blogging to give you a little update. November is half over as of today, and guess what? I already met my NaNoWriMo goal of 50,000 words! Woohoo! The novel itself will probably be close to 60k total, and I have until I leave for Paris next Wednesday to finish writing and do a quick round of revisions. So, since I actually started writing this novel on October 28th, and I got to 50,000 yesterday, I have been writing an average of 3,000 words a day. I write approximately 1,000 words an hour, which means I've somehow managed to find three hours a day to write.

How, you ask? Well, I've been getting up early every day and staying up late, for one thing. Some mornings I write from 6-7:30, others I get my run in early and then try to stay at work late to make up for it. Some evenings I write from 8:00 (after Jack goes to bed) until 10:00, when John forces me to stop. On the weekends I've managed to write during Jack's naps, and thankfully John has given me a few hours here and there too. All in all, it's been a busy couple of weeks, but I'm really enjoying writing again. And it also makes me realize how much time I saved by cutting out the blogging.

I know some of you are missing the Jack updates, but fortunately I don't have anything too funny to share with you (potty training stories aside - you know how John feels about those). I did, however, take a few minutes to make this little collage, featuring Jack and a slice of chocolate cake. I think he devoured it in about two minutes. Maybe less.

May you all have a week filled with this much joy!

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Inspiration Tuesday: Do it for Bob

Okay, so "Inspiration Tuesday" doesn't really work with my alliteration theme. But I came across this inspirational letter in my NaNoWriMo inbox (yes, it's worth checking!) and I wanted to share it in case you haven't seen it or you're not doing NaNo. Hopefully I don't get in trouble for stealing it!

This letter comes from Kate DiCamillo, the author of The Tale of Despereaux (Newbery Medal), Because of Winn-Dixie (Newbery Honor), and The Tiger Rising (National Book Award finalist).

Dear Writer,
When I was 30 years old, I moved to Minneapolis and got a job in a book warehouse. My official job title was "Picker." This meant that I went around the third floor of the warehouse holding a computerized print order in one hand and pulling books off the shelf with the other hand. I put all the books into a grocery cart and I took the grocery cart and wheeled it into an ancient, crabby freight elevator and went downstairs to deliver the order to the shipping department. Then I took the stairs back up to the third floor and started over again.
It wasn't a challenging job. It didn't pay much. I was on my feet all day long. My back hurt. My hands hurt. But I was happy. I was surrounded by books and by people who loved to read them. Also, for the first time in my life, I was writing.
I got up every morning before work (the alarm was set for 4:30) and wrote two pages before I went into the warehouse. And then, when I arrived at work at 7:00 to punch the time clock, I received my daily so-you-want-to-be-a-writer pep talk from a coworker.
Let's call him Bob. (Even though his real name is Gary).
Bob wanted to be a writer, too. But he wasn't writing. Every morning we had the same exchange.
Bob: "How did the writing go?"
Me: "Fine."
Bob: "How many pages did you write?"
Me: "Two."
Bob: "Do you think Dickens wrote two pages a day?"
Me: "I don't know how many pages Dickens wrote a day."
Bob: "Yeah, well let me tell you something, you're no Dickens. So what's Plan B, babe? What's Plan B for when the writing doesn't work out?"
For this question, I had no answer.
I turned my back on Bob, pulse pounding, fists clenched, and climbed the stairs to the third floor and started picking books.
When the alarm went off at 4:30 the next morning, I thought about Bob and that is part of the reason I got out of bed.
It is a truly excellent to have someone to believe in you and your ability to write.
But I think it is just as helpful to have people who don't believe in you, people who mock you, people who doubt you, people who enrage you. Fortunately, there is never a shortage of this type of person in the world.
So as you enter this month of writing, write for yourself. Write for the story. And write, also, for all of the people who doubt you. Write for all of those people who are not brave enough to try to do this grand and wondrous thing themselves. Let them motivate you.
In other words, do it for Bob!
Your friend in writing,
Kate DiCamillo

Thursday, November 1, 2012

So I Lied. Just a Little.

I wasn't supposed to blog in the month of November. And now look at me! I didn't even make it past November 1st. This does not bode well.

But see, I realized after I posted on Monday that I'd agreed to do a workshop over at Ink in the Book, which runs all the way to February. And then, my awesome revising peeps from NaNoRevMo last year decided to do it again this year, and even though I'm not really revising, I couldn't bear the idea of being left out. Most of the action will take place on our Facebook page, but I had to at least post my goals for the month. This way you can all hold me accountable. Yay!

My original goal was to finish my YA Urban Fantasy set in Russia by December. And I was doing good up until Saturday, when a shiny new idea showed up out of the blue and said, "HEY! You, with the eye bags, you don't have enough going on in your life. WRITE ME, B*TCH!" (What can I say, she's a bossy little idea.) So I started writing on Sunday, and today, 5 days later, I have 15,000 words. Now I have an official novel to enter into NaNoWriMo, and Russia Book is on the back burner for now. But at this rate, I plan to finish at least one of these novels by Thanksgiving, because I'm going to Paris for Turkey Day and I don't want to be stressing.

And just because I like the bossy little idea, I'll tell you a little bit about it. It's a YA Contemporary, something I swore I'd never write because I'm in love with all things fantasy at the moment. But you know what? It's refreshing to write a story I feel like I know, because I don't have to create an entire fantasy rule book in the process. My main character, Dorothy, is very familiar, and the plot has sort of written itself. The working title is "Reinventing Dorothy Weil," and it's about a girl who decides to deal with her severe social anxiety by pretending to be someone else.

I hope to be revising in December (assuming I stay on track and I can get my core betas to read quickly for me). In the meantime, I'll probably ask my NaNoRevMo friends to help out with my query and anything else revision-ready before the month is over.

So I'm sorry I lied to all of you. I'll try to be good and resist the blogging. But what can I say? It's kind of a habit.