Friday, March 28, 2008
I remember rocking my son when he was about six months old. We were still in our condo and it was hot. Sticky, late July type hot. I remember his legs dangling down, his toes bouncing off my hips and thinking how amazing it was that he was so big. How before I knew it I wouldn't be able to hold him like this, like I could wrap him safe from the world in my arms.

I just went in and held Lila who woke from a dream and needed a quick snuggle. She's three times the age that my son was way back when, and her legs dangle down to my sides. And all I could think was, how did I get here so quickly? Not only one, but two children outgrowing me at warp speed.

What's different about watching Lila is that she's growing, in a lot of ways, into a miniature version of me. Stubborn. Headstrong. Loud. Dramatic. Flirtatious. She's a total ham, and she has a wicked sense of style (as is evidenced by the outfit she insisted on wearing today after her bath:)

Yeah, that's my girl.

(Is it wrong that I secretly wish that I could pull off this look myself?)

In other news, I've been somewhat successful at finishing some stories lately. I've had some interest from a local book publisher (nothing to get excited about mind you, but still, interest is nice) and some lit magazine submissions that have been floating out there for long enough that I'm starting to wonder if people might be biting. Had a re-write request tonight from a journal I've submitted to (and been rejected by) in the past, so that was progress. And it was nice to have feedback on my work in general. Another reason why the trip to the conference this summer should be well worth it.

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Wednesday, March 26, 2008
Just Me?
My husband gave me the word that he won't be able to come with me out to Ohio for the writer's conference in June. I knew he wouldn't be able to, not with having just started at his new position. But still, I had hoped. And when he finally came out and said No, my gut reaction was to backpedal and not go at all.

Am I so co-dependent that I can't even face one week apart from him?

Seven years ago, I was wandering Europe - alone - fully convinced that I would never marry and that this would be my life. Bumping around the world, overnight trains, dirt streets, nickle bread lunches from small town markets, muddy knees, worn boots, hands well used.

Yet, here I am. Mortgage. Cars. Kids. Movie rentals in my mailbox, for my shopping needs (why go out into the world when I can buy things with my finger tips and wearing PJ's?) I walk nowhere alone, unless you count the mailbox.

When I first met my husband, I was a different girl. A behind the wheel girl. Literally, I had a car, he did not. That changed in the first six months of our relationship - he got his vehicle back on the road and I've relinquished the wheel ever since. I guess even more than I realized.

So, I'm trying to warm up to this idea: I'm going on an adventure all my own. A plane ride, a rental car, a week of virtual silence (compared to a house with two children) and a laptop (well, not yet, need to purchase one...anyone have one they'd like to sell for cheap? I can't pay much, but I can credit you in the acknowledge part of my first publication. Eh?)

I'm trying to imagine coffee shops and diners and morning workshops and evenings spent maybe even talking and socializing with other writer's - imagine that. No TV. No sounds of my husband playing Halo in the next room. No cat at my feet or kids on my brain. Just me.

It's almost to crazy to conjure such a possibility in the realms of my imagination. Yet it will be here before I know it.

And just now, typing this, I feel a glimmer of excitement for it. A good sign. Maybe it's not too late for that girl yet.

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Sunday, March 23, 2008
Happy Easter

Mini-Eggs 28/365, originally uploaded by Mellahoney.

Friday, March 21, 2008
Balance, Persistence and Success
There was more poo last night, but thankfully it took place after my husband was home and able to deal with it. I was too pooped (yes, pun intended) to tackle it myself.

As far as the rejection I received goes, it's just another bump in the road. To quote the ever eloquent Nova, the universe has a way of balancing things and I don't fear that I'll die without having ever found a publisher for any of my full length projects. It's just a matter of finding the right one, at the right time, yada yada and so on and so forth. I spent my morning at work submitting samples to more small publishers, mostly for my story collection, but Phx, have no fear, I've still got Grace on the back burner (and have spruced up some sample chapters to submit as well...)

And now, speaking of both publication and Nova, you should stop over and give her a huge cyber-high five, as she has recently received some phenomenal publishing news. Bigger than anything I'm even aspiring to over here - larger than small presses and lit magazines - this girls going to be a star.

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Thursday, March 20, 2008
Triple Pooper
(What? Two posts in one day???)

First, Lila dropped one on the floor behind the play house in her bedroom - in a moment of unsupervised naked-time while I was on the phone.

It's cool. I have two kids, I left her in only a diaper to answer the phone. My bad. I get it.

Second, The Boss man decides to fore go using the potty in favor of stinking up his pants, screaming all the way to the bathroom and then pitching a fit when I put him in the shower - not even as a form of punishment, but as a cold hard reality - if you get poop all over yourself, you will need to be cleansed.

Third, I take a walk (if only to get away momentarily from the feces flying in my house) to check the mail, and find my thin little self-addressed stamped envelope. The one I sent off with my short story manuscript two months ago. Of course, it would've been far too easy for it to have worked out so smoothly, and I am really happy that they even asked to read the thing in its entirety in the first place. But still. It's poop.

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Writing Schedules and Scavenger Hunts

Just Me 25/365, originally uploaded by Mellahoney.

I've been trying to explain to my kids that I work from home. True, I am not getting paid for the majority of the "work" that I do here at the computer (yet - wishful thinking) - but I have to make this commitment to myself. To treat my writing as though it is a job, a career choice and not a hobby. If there's anything that will separate me from the other would-be-successful-author's, it's my persistence.

I've begun doing some for-profit editing and manuscript critiquing. My rates are ridiculously low, sure, but I'm just getting my feet wet and I don't want to overcharge someone on the off chance that my work is somehow less than they're expecting. Maybe I'll get the hang of it and charge more - or maybe I'll realize while spending my evening hours reading and editing other people's 100K-plus manuscripts, that I should have completed one myself. Something other than a short story collection. (Although, I do so love the medium of short stories - of just capturing enough of a glimpse into another world to satisfy.)

Or maybe I just like the feeling of completing something, and for now short stories are it.

Because the thing is, three year olds don't understand the difference between you working and you ignoring them. So, while he's perfectly capable of playing by himself or with his sister - and does so quite easily whenever I'm NOT on the computer - my son has begun a habit of whining at me and tugging on the mouse to get me away from here.

You can not be selfish and be a good parent. It's just impossible. So I relinquish some of my "me" time while he's napping to do things like draw makeshift scavenger hunt lists or print up activities for him to do at his desk while I'm working on the computer. It all sounded so good in my head - I had great visions of him sitting quietly, or so fervently seeking his plastic dinosaur to check it off of his scavenger list.

So far we've had only moderate success with this. Any activities that involve crayons or glitter or crafty-types of things, requires me to, at the bare minimum, walk over every few minutes and acknowledge the wonderful masterpiece he is creating. And the scavenger hunt is not the independent activity that I had hoped for. Seems my drawing skills are somewhat lacking and he'll wander around the house for ten minutes whining that he can't find the turtle, when in fact, he's supposed to be looking for his plastic dinosaur.

I'm looking forward to the great someday when it's springtime and we have a yard with a fence and he and his sister can play outdoors while I sip coffee and write on my laptop on the deck. Or the even greater someday, when we have a big 'ol house with a farmer's porch and we're in the country somewhere where I can just let them run loose (and we're also independently wealthy and there is world's really a nice little dream.)

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Sunday, March 16, 2008
I don't keep tabs on celebrity gossip. I don't know who's dating who, who wore what where or even, for that matter, who won what. I don't watch the Oscar's. That said, for Once I think that they got something right. It's a simple and sweet movie and it resonated with me enough that I had to recommend it. (They even play the soundtrack on the website. I'm actually typing this with it opened in another window just so I can listen to the music...)

For starters, I've always been a sucker for a man with a guitar. In fact, the very friend who recommended this movie is one whom I would follow around like a fifteen year old groupie just to listen to him play.

And then there's the European aspect of it. I'm a sucker for Europe. The grittiness of it, not the places from postcards or travel brochures. But places like this, cramped apartments with people learning English and mother's cooking in dimly lit kitchens and a grown Irishman living above a vaccum store with his dad in some sort of arrested development bedroom with magazine cutouts on the wall. It touched a chord with me, because it harkened back to that place inside me that never left Romania (which is, of course, no where near where this was filmed or takes place, but one of the main character's is Eastern European...)

It's late and the weekend was long. But this was good enough that I had to share. Immediately. If nothing else, go to the website and listen to the song that won the Oscar. (But you really should rent it. It's a sweet one.)


Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Sweet Baby Girl, originally uploaded by Mellahoney.
I haven't called the preschool yet, even though I told them I would get back to them on Monday to set up a tour of their facilities. I'd like to say that it's because I've been terribly busy and far to involved in more important things to invest the ten minutes of my time that it would take to pick up the phone and dial the number.

But that wouldn't be true. I've done a few things. Babysitting here, cleaning there, snapping pictures of my kids like I'm the paparazzi desperate for the money shot, cooking, cleaning, nothing too out of the usual. Though our dishwasher did break and that did mean that I had to take an additional chunk of my day to wash and dry and put away dishes. It's my least favorite of all chores. There's just something so icky to me about reaching my hands beneath a layer of bubbles and pulling out a sponge or cloth and using it to scrub dried food from people's plates. Trying to clean between the prongs of forks, feeling for any residual caked on food with slipper fingertips. Blech. No thank you.
When we found that the new washer wouldn't be here for two days - I actually asked my husband (like some sort of pampered heiress) "Two days? What are we supposed to do?"

Go ahead, roll your eyes at me. He did too.
Thankfully, I was out of the house today and didn't need to wash a single oatmeal crusted bowl or sticky child-sized spork. Instead, I was at my parents house (oddly enough, also without a dishwasher) where I spent the day with my nephew. And despite being indoors with two three year-olds, a toddler, a cat and a sweatsuit clad Grampy (working from home) - things went surprisingly smooth. The kids listened, the cat slept and my father struck the perfect balance of working and visiting.
And when I walked through the door at 9:30 tonight, there was a sparkly new dishwasher running quietly in my kitchen and a sweet husband who had worked a ten hour day, then came home to install it right away so that tomorrow I wouldn't have to run my fingers over dried on bits of noodles or rice on any of our Fiestaware.
Happy day. Happy night. Hopefully a phone call to the nursery school tomorrow. And maybe even some writing...wouldn't that be great?

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Monday, March 10, 2008
Smarty Pants!

Look Mom!, originally uploaded by Mellahoney.

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Friday, March 07, 2008
Preschool and Blankets and Hammer Pants, Oh My!
I'm working today. All day. Two jobs, until 11. Can you see my megawatt smile gleaming through your monitors? No? Odd.

In protest, I've spent most of my time here (job number one, AKA "the office") working on finding a preschool for my son. Unfortunately, most preschools have a "must be four" by September 30th cut off. And so I'm now considering nursery schools, for which programs are given ridiculous or completely random names. Camelodopheri (seriously), Pisces (other groups include the Little Dipper's and Aquarius...), and most any derivative of Teddy Bear or Snuggle Bug you can come up with.

And some of these places are just ridiculous. Sweet Pea's wants us to fill out a questionnaire, all of us. My son would need to list his favorite foods and colors (as well as name his friends, pets and relatives...) whilst my husband and I answer such subjective questions as:

How is your child special and unique?

What are we? Snowflakes?

When I step back and remove myself from the fact that I'm actually, officially, considering sending my son out into the world to be cared for (and taught by) another human being, I freak out a little and somehow feel as though I'm admitting failure. Which isn't the case. I think that my son is smart and developing well at home under our guidance. I just want to give him an opportunity to socialize (re: get used to not being around me 24/7 - which might allow us to sit through an entire sermon without him screaming bloody murder from the children's church room...)

I went to preschool and wasn't damaged by it, for goodness sakes. I even met my first little boyfriend and smooched him behind the trashcan while at good 'ol Paddington Station (apparently names haven't gotten any better or worse in the past couple of decades...and as for the boyfriend and I - we did actually reunite briefly in junior high, but ultimately his MC Hammer pants and flat top proved to be more than I could handle.)

Still, Mommy guilt is sneaky and it's getting to me a little over this. And worse, it's a double edged sword - I feel guilty for sending him out (for six to twelve whole hours a week without me - the horror), and if I kept him home I'd feel guilty for not giving him the opportunity to be apart from me and learn from other's.

Of course, I've been letting Mommy guilt get to me a little more lately anyhow. It started with the kids not settling easily the other night for bed. When I went in to check on them, my son asked for a glass of water, while Lila was curled in a ball, rocking back and forth, face down on her blanket, moaning "Blanket...blanket..." I delivered the water, blew kisses and left thinking how adorable it was that my daughter is so attached to that darn blanket.

Fast forward five hours. It's after midnight and we're getting ready for bed, before I stand up from the couch, I realize my daughter's blanket is laying on the carpet at my feet. How had I not noticed that? And the realization dawns - she wasn't snuggling with her blanket, she was sobbing FOR it.

And so began a week of feeling inadequate over the all but irrelevant parts of our lives. Though, I do have to say I'm pretty proud of Lila for self-soothing herself to sleep without going into a tantrum for lack of her precious blanket. Not that she normally does resort to tantrums...but she is getting ever closer to the dreaded two's (which started at about 18 months with her brother.) So I worry.

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Saturday, March 01, 2008

Satin Ribbon Loving 7/365, originally uploaded by Mellahoney.

From his bedroom window we watch the snow tumble down in stark white clumps and marvel as it piles up our driveway. Maybe we should have some cocoa, he suggests, sound like a good idea?

He speaks like a bonafide little person now and associates snow with cocoa, because it's what we drink after coming in and emptying our boots of damp snow sludge, after we hang our wet mittens above the pellet stove and stuff our socks in the washing machine.

He associates cocoa with warmth and being home.

So we have some cocoa and then he plays, quietly though as his sister naps.

First we try a puzzle, but since it is one he has long since mastered, he loses interest quickly. So we color, write our letters and talk in hushed voices about how much fun we're going to have when Lila-Bean wakes up, when Daddy comes home, when we have cupcakes after dinner. For him, life is all in the anticipation, in the wondering what's going to come next.

I'm a big boy now, I'm not a baby anymore, he tells me. And though it's true, my heart still winces at his words. Because for me, life is all in the moment, the exact moment we're living in. And after they're tucked in at night, I long to have the moments back, to replay hugging their wriggling warm bodies fresh plucked from the tub. To have again the giggles and crumbs and silly outbursts over who's toes would taste better with ketchup at the dinner table. To have them reaching for me, calling for me, wrapping their arms around my legs.

My husband worries that their clinging is overboard, that they reach for me too much and I need to be careful not to cater to their every whim. Which I certainly do not. But I do make exceptions. I'm only human, I bend. And how can I not? If they only want one moment more in my arms when it's all I want from them as well?

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