Monday, September 22, 2014

Mommy Mondays: Do You Believe In Magic?

Because Jack sure does! I was perusing his class wall the other day and once again confirmed that our child is a bit...different.

Dinosaurs, dragons, and wizards. Yeesh. I'll leave you with this little conversation from our drive up to New York the other day.

John: "If you could choose, where would you want Jack to go to college?"
Me: "Georgetown would be good I guess, but it depends on what he wants to be."
John: "Jack, what do you want to be when you grow up?"
Jack: "A wizard."
Me: "Hogwarts it is!"

Monday, September 15, 2014

Mommy Mondays: Life With Boys

If you know me in real life or have been following this blog for a while, you probably know that I have always wanted daughters. I started saving my favorite toys and clothing for my future girls when I was about seven or eight years old. While my sister Sarah gravitated toward dolls with long hair and pretty dresses, I usually chose baby dolls, including a porcelain baby doll in a Christening gown that must have driven my father insane (we're Jewish). It was never a question that I would have a daughter. Even when I found out I was pregnant with Jack, I consoled myself with the fact that it was only my first, and Sarah wrote me the best baby shower card: "Remember: Shakespeare, Kipling, Tolkein, Twain - all boys." How could I not love a mini-John? The mini-me would come later.

When I heard the words "it's a boy" for the second time, I once again found myself reimagining my future. For the first few years of Jack's life, gender didn't seem that important. But starting around age three, when his interests became stereotypically "boy" (trains, pirates, superheroes), I had a much clearer vision of what a life filled with boys would look like. And frankly, I wasn't all that excited about it. I don't get many of the things Jack loves: building LEGO does nothing for me (and any satisfaction I get out of assembling a 500-piece set is completely obliterated the second Jack dismantles it); I've never cared where lava comes from; his obsession with tarantulas is basically my worst nightmare. A friend brought her daughter by the other night and I stared longingly at her ballerina Barbie while Jack pretended to ride his stuffed dragon. My own Barbies are stacked neatly in a plastic bin somewhere deep in a storage unit. One of these days I'll get around to donating them to Goodwill.

I feel wildly outnumbered sometimes, even though Will is only four months old. As a friend said the other day over coffee (she has THREE boys): there are just so many penises. The thought of sharing a house with John and two teenage boys is mildly horrifying. People tell me I should be grateful I'll never have to deal with a PMSing girl, but the thing is, I understand PMS. Greasy, sweaty, pimply teenage boys, on the other hand, terrify me as much now as they did when I was a teenager myself. I find myself buying T-shirts adorned with cartoon characters and detachable capes, a haze of pink tulle always just within my peripheral vision. But I've banned myself from the girls section of Target. I know it will only conjure images of the daughter-I'll-never-have. Or worse, I'll buy something and squirrel it away for the daughter-that-could-be.

But lately, when the boys are all upstairs getting ready for bed and I hear John's deep chuckle mingled with Jack's contagious cackle and Will's giggle-in-training, I feel indescribably blessed (and believe me, I'm not the kind of person who says "blessed").  I know I'll never get to braid my daughter's hair, but Jack is remarkably gentle when he tries to give me a ponytail. I feel a stab of envy when friends take their daughters to Disneyland to meet the princesses of my childhood, but I never imagined that I would get to be the princess ("Prettier than Elsa," according to Jack). And recently, when I went through the box of things I'd been saving for my daughter, I discovered that most of the items were stained or yellowed with age. The future I had so firmly in my mind, the one whose loss I spent weeks mourning last winter, was never really meant to be.

I'm still getting used to the idea that I won't take my daughter wedding dress shopping one day; I will NEVER be a soccer mom if John's and my hand-eye coordination is any indication. I dread the question I've already been asked many times: "Are you going to try again for a girl?" (I half-jokingly answer that I've "tried" twice and look where that's gotten me - it clearly wasn't meant to be.) But mostly, I'm trying to remind myself that the future never looks exactly how we think it will.

Sometimes, if we're lucky, it's even better.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Foreign Service Fridays: Did I Mention the Food?

I realize I've spent a lot of time blogging about FS stuff lately - I promise to get back to Mommy Mondays just as soon as something blog-worthy happens. (Jack's performance today at John's promotion ceremony might just make for a good post, once I've moved on from furious to amused.) In the meantime, I hope everyone has a wonderful weekend.

PS - Did you know Peru has the best food in Latin America?

Friday, September 5, 2014

Foreign Service Fridays: Russia On My Mind

I've been thinking a lot about Russia this week.  Hop on over to Most Eligible Family to read about it, if you like. Happy Friday everyone!

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Writing Wednesdays: The B Team

Some of you may be wondering what's been going on with that whole writing thing lately, since I haven't blogged about it in ages. The truth is, I haven't blogged about writing because there hasn't been much to report. That's not to say I haven't been diligently working behind the scenes for the past year or so. I have, a lot. But despite all my hard work, progress has been slow. I finished my Young Adult Contemporary Fantasy set in Russia, Needle's Eye, back in March, and I've spent the past few months revising when I can. I've entered a few contests and had some mild success in terms of agent requests, but nothing major (obviously). So when I entered Pitch Wars--a contest where 60-something mentors (agented or published authors or editors) choose one manuscript each to work on for two months before a big agent showcase in November--a few weeks ago, my expectations were low. (There were something like 1200 applicants this year.)

I've entered Pitch Wars with three different manuscripts over the past three years, and even though two mentors chose me as their alternate the first year, and I received requests for more pages from all four of the mentors I subbed to last year, nothing came of it. This year I took a chance and submitted to a blogger I've admired over the years, from way back when she was in the query trenches like me, to the release of her novel, Killing Ruby Rose, which came out a few months ago and has done extremely well. Jessie Humphries is one of the most down-to-earth, friendly, and funny writers I know, and even though I wasn't sure she'd like my novel, I decided to go with my gut. And I'm so glad I did!

Jessie chose me as her mentee this year, which means she'll be reading my entire novel and providing me feedback before the agents take a gander in November. I actually dreamed that Jessie chose me last week (she couldn't tell me she'd chosen me, but she told me "not to worry about it" and winked at me - which is kind of weird because Jessie lives in Las Vegas, so I'm not sure how we were hanging out, but anyway...) but I never thought my dream would literally come true! I found out I made it in last night at midnight, so I had to whisper-squeal and hop around quietly since both kids were sleeping.

Jessie's alternate, Jocelyn Rish, and I are officially part of Team B-Words (Jessie's blog is called "The B Word," which stands for Book Writer, Blog Stalker, Baby Maker, and, if you ask me, BRILLIANT! And beautiful too. I have serious hair envy when it comes to Jessie...) and I couldn't be happier with my team. Thank you, Jessie, for taking a chance on me, and Jocelyn, I'm so excited to be teammates! Go Team B-Words!