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this and this, and this, too

This sort of feels like a goodbye, and certainly feels like a we’ve been here before, but it’s not a goodbye, and it’s it’s own thing, if you dig me.

First off, you can certainly friend me on Facebook if you like. Just comment and I can click on your email and give you my Facebook name. I’ve made a few other friends that way and I really value keeping up with them on FB.

Secondly, not only have we not dropped off the planet, things are pretty fabulously great. I’m still writing a lot for Like Totally 80s and loving it, as well as continuing with the standardized test passage writing and loving that. Still have our bumps, of course, but things have been remarkably, blissfully smooth of late.

My big boys are in 9th and 10th grades now and rocking out in their various activities: theater, lacrosse, schoolwork, music, and social butterfly-ing.

Rainbow is bright and funny and smart and strong. Here he is singing “The Baby Bird Song,” part of our somewhat lengthy bedtime routine. You might recognize the plot line of the song from P.D. Eastman’s “Are You My Mother?”

Daddy J is still hot and awesome. We’re grateful every day to be married and get to be the parents of all our good, good, good boys.

The big thing, the psssst-guess-what thing, the OMG!!! thing that’s going on is that I’m writing fiction AND GETTING IT PUBLISHED.

I’m probably irritating Daddy J to death about it, but I can’t stop myself: I still giggle and hop around the house, all thrilled that my novella manuscript got accepted by a legitimate publishing house (yes, I totally researched on authors’ forums before choosing this one) and that I have an actual contract on it and YESSSSSS!!!

I’m plugging away on other romance stuff (the editor actually has three more stories/novellas of mine to review, and I just started a new one) in addition to my LT80s and test writing, so this blog has been pushed to the back burner.

Here’s the kicker: it’s erotic romance. Mom, you will NOT be invited to read this. Like, I’m writing using words I would never utter in public about possibly-illegal activities I’ve never engaged in with an assortment of interesting characters. It’s really, really fun, but people: it’s really, really risqué.

(Quick definition: erotic romance = fiction with the elements of traditional romance, including a Happily-Ever-After or Happily-For-Now ending, PLUS super-explicit sex scenes.)

My first novella comes out on August 13 (our wedding anniversary!) and should be available for pre-order in May or June. It’ll have its own racy cover art, you guys!! And the company I’m working with has really exceptional cover art, truly.

Anyway, let me know if you want to friend me on Facebook, and I’ll definitely announce here when my novella (with its pretty cover art!) is available. Thanks so much for checking in, and thank you for your support over the last several years. I hope very much that things are going well in your life and I’d really love to hear from you.

ka-thump, ka-thump, ka-thump…

That’s the sound of the holidays galloping up on me. Holy cow, time flies around here. We are in full-blown fall, and it’s already time for CRAFT FAIR again.

Sheesh. We’re avoided the obnoxious bra salesman so far, so that’s good, and I have a new crop of vendors setting up in the yard. Also, a food booth for the first time! We’ll see how that goes.

(side note: I just read a little of that post that I linked to above, and am wondering if I’m the only one who is slightly embarrassed to read stuff I wrote in the past. It’s how I imagine I’d feel if I were listening to a tape of myself rambling when I was twenty-two. Like, I’m sure I’d sound (and BE) sincere and all, but the passage of time would make me also sound somewhat ridiculous.)

I actually like craft fair, for all my grousing about the preparation for it. I’m just a poor organizer, so it’s stressful for me. I dread it when some of the vendors in my yard inevitably don’t make money; anxious little dark clouds grow over their booths and I feel compelled to smile brightly and hurry past. Also, I kind of hate talking on the phone and having the same conversations over and over with potential vendors. There’s that, too.

But! I enjoy walking around and shopping for presents and self-gifts and such. It’s fun to take the dogs out on leashes and let dog-lovers pet them and praise them. Friends pop over; we visit on the porch and compare our shopping loot. I bought some impulse purchase Italian lemon liqueur at the store today and I can’t wait to have a tangy afternoonish adult bev with a friend or two this weekend.

Cousins from Knoxville are coming in, which is always a blast for both grown-ups and kids. A good family/friend is having a party on Saturday night, too.

The galloping-horse part of it, though, is that this sort of heralds the beginning of the Holiday Season. Like, summer is officially over and The Holidays are here. After craft fair comes Ward’s birthday and then Halloween and then Brad’s birthday and Thanksgiving and my birthday and BAM IT’S CHRISTMAS. Which I am entirely unprepared for.

Totally unrelatedly, I had found Rainbow’s favorite binky in Brad’s room (apparently he dropped it during an upstairs wandering session) and stowed it in my jewelry armoire to, like, give Rainbow when he went to college or something. Inevitably, Rainbow found it yesterday. I tried to be all casual, but got really alarmed when Rainbow pulled it out and shouted, all gleeful, IT’S MY BINKY!! MY BINKY!!! MWAH-HA-HAAAA!!!

(aw, shit, here we go again…)

He popped it in his mouth and smacked it a couple of times, then yanked it out with a blecchhh and tossed it away.

(and yes, I stowed it away again for posterity.)

More Eighties Awesomeness

Writing for Like Totally 80’s is such a blast in every way. I’m still doing my test-writing, too, and have submitted one romance novella and have another underway. Fingers crossed…

By the way, there is quite a collection of 80s costume ideas on LT80s if you are thinking of dressing up eighties style this Halloween. I have contributed a few, but there are a ton of great ideas on the site.

There were thirty million and three music videos in the 80s, but here’s a list of my favorite high production videos. Costumes, plot lines, way cool sets. Yes! It’s probably the obvious choice, but I think my have has to be “Take On Me,” for its comic-strip awesomeness and cute boys.

I wanted to write an article about the handful of sugary cereals from the 80s that are no longer around. I mean, how many could there be, right? Turns out, A LOT. It was an artificially colored and super-sweet OPUS. Fancy a heaping bowl of Cabbage Patch Kids or Gremlins this morning? Yummy!

This breakdancing article was SO fun to write. I think the Alfonso Ribeiro commercial is a hoot. It reminds me of the instructional dance video in Napoleon Dynamite. And yes, I did a lot of practicing the wave and the moonwalk while writing this. Obviously.

and then there were none…

It appears that Rainbow is now binky-free.

I had been giving him a gradual binkyotomy, which was going quite well, actually. Here’s the bink in question after snip #3, before it scampered off on the Binky World Tour:


He didn’t even comment any more on the binky’s reduction, so I figured I’d just keep snipping until it was pointless for him to put it in his mouth any more. However, when we had friends over for dinner on Saturday, we couldn’t find it. Of course.

He was just inconsolable. It was so pitiful: Mama, where’s my binky? I want binky? *sob sob sob* We were fortunate, in a way, that he had skipped his nap that day and was ridiculously tired. We did look earnestly, enlisting our friends’ help, but No Binky. I lay down with him after he quit flailing and finally, finally, finally, he fell asleep.

No nap yesterday either (it looks like maybe we’re done with naps, bummer) and he did ask for Binky a few times at bedtime. I suggested that Binky was on an adventure and having fun. He woke at 3:00 this morning, wanting Binky, but I quieted him down fairly easily.

This morning, he was all sunshine and giggles. He asked for Binky some more, then got with the adventure idea. Binky’s gone to Discovery Center! Binky’s gone to play park! Binky’s on a train ride and is GOING THROUGH A TUNNEL!!!

It’s a sad milestone, really: his first love is gone forever. (MUST make sure he doesn’t come upon Binky anywhere, at least in the next few weeks, and cancel out our progress.) But: HIGH FIVE, I think we are finally done with the pacifier.

In other news, I was trying to figure out what to get for his Halloween costume this year. I figured I’d try the size 4T/5T costume that I bought for him when he was an infant from the clearance rack at Gymboree. I had chalked it up to mama-purchase-dumbness and figured it was bound for Goodwill, because no 5 year old wants to wear a velvety lion costume, right?

But yes, it totally fits my big boy. RRRRAWRRR!

weekend trip report

Daddy J had to leave town for business for several days, which, though infrequent, is always a bummer for me. I get lonely and stressed when I’m solo parenting for any length of time. SO! I whipped up a weekend getaway with my mother and the big boys. Her birthday is today, so it was good timing. We usually go somewhere every summer with Grandma MJ, but this summer she took the big boys to Yosemite and we didn’t get around to our Mama, Grandma, and boys trip.

Until now.

Poking around for places within driving distance, I came up Lexington, Kentucky. I’ve been to Louisville, but never Lexington. At 4.5 hours, it was sort of far away for a one night trip, but we pushed on. There was this Harvest Festival that we were really excited about. It involved re-enacters. Yay!

We went to Shaker Village in Harrodsburg, just outside Lexington. It’s a historic Shaker Village with buildings that date from the early 1800’s. Our suite was SO much better than I expected. Super roomy and comfy. Rockinrolla slept on the fold-out couch and housekeeping brought an inflatable mattress for Brad, so we were all set.



I had planned on getting there noonish, but we didn’t actually get out of the house until close to 9:00, which I thought would put us there around 1:00. The festival ran from 10:00 til 5:00, so I figured that would be fine. What I failed to realized, though, was that Lexington is in the Eastern time zone. With food stops and check-in, we actually set foot in the Harvest Fest close to 2:30. I wish we’d had more time, but whaddayagonnado.

The boys are now 14 and 15, so there were perfectly happy to branch off with some money in their pockets and go exploring. They reported that they loved the live music and holding the baby lambs in the barn. (awwww…)

I listened to this talented trio (Dad with 12 and 15 year old daughters) while I ate my fresh parmesan pasta with squash for lunch (yum):

My mother set off to pick some apples (sadly, the season didn’t cooperate for the apple crop) and I wandered into the Shaker Meeting House, where these ladies were leading a song and dance.

I sat down for about thirty seconds, and couldn’t stand it any more. Had to get up and dance. I will fail when I try to describe it, but I’ll try anyway: the dances I participated in had concentric rings of men and women who turned in opposing ways, and then another with a line of men facing a line of women. We did very simple steps (like, step, step, STOMP, step back) and various representative moves with our hands while singing repetitive songs. You hold your hands out in front, palms up, to receive the spirit.

It was one of the most joyful things I’ve ever done. I couldn’t stop smiling, I felt so full of happiness just being there. I wept and had to keep biting my lip and wiping tears away so I wouldn’t totally fall apart. It wasn’t so much that I was embarrassed, I just didn’t want to start sobbing and have to leave the dance. I thought, Holy shit! I’m a Shaker! and then, Damn, I bet there aren’t any Shakers around where we live.

Mostly I thought, I feel God’s presence here.

I thanked the ladies after the dance with a big smile and tear-smeared cheeks, and then floated out of the Meeting House.

Mom and I did a wine tasting for a local winery. (Yes, they had wine, beer, and hard cider at this event!)

The wine was actually great, but not as great as the winery owner’s daughter. She had painted three pumpkins and had a sign out: Hold a pumpkin for One Cent. Hold it twice for a dollar! I ponied up a buck to hold a pumpkin and get my picture with her.

We all got to see the sheep herding dog Cal, which was a huge highlight for me.


(Side note: The dog handler totally says “That’ll do, that’ll do,” just like in Babe.)

There were all kids of fun, gentle little kid activities at the festival involving pumpkins and hay bales and baby animals and face paint.



The boys wandered off to listen to music and do whatever teenage boys do at Shaker festivals, and Mom and I explored.




After the festival closed down, we had a little time before our 6:30 dinner reservations. The boys watched vulgar cartoons in the suite and I swung from a tree swing and did some reading outside. Mom read too, I think. Dinner was at the Shaker Village. We asked to eat outside under a tent instead of in the crowded building, which was a good call. The food was expensive and fair-to-middlin, but whatever. The scenery was great and we didn’t have to drive anywhere.





We considered driving into Harrodsburg for a movie or bowling, but opted to stay on site. We scoped out the common room, played a top game (skittles, I think), and a few rounds of Connect Four, then turned in.

Our goal for the next morning was Keeneland Race Track; they exercise the horses there from 6-10 am, and you can eat breakfast in the trainers kitchen. This is when I realized what a small town girl I am: I did NOT anticipate the Race Track being the size of a town. There were multiple grandstands, all sorts of buildings everywhere, and roads leading all over the place. It was incredibly confusing for a girl with a poor sense of direction. We saw the track where we thought the horses were exercising, but there was just one horse and it was obstinately refusing to run in front of us. We saw the trainer’s kitchen and drove there since we were all ravenous, and learned we’d miss seeing the horses exercising. That was a bummer. At least we got breakfast.

But! We scooted on over to the Kentucky Horse Park. That was a good call. There were two spots available for the trail ride, so I bought tickets for Brad and Rockinrolla to do that and Mom and I went into the park itself.

The Parade of Breeds show sounded interesting.

And yes, it was indeed fabulous. The stadium area was really small, and we got to be right up front. These young women in costume rode various beautiful horses around while the commentator explained what made each breed special. The sun was sparkling, the horses were gorgeous.




And again with the weeping.

I pulled out my sunglasses because I didn’t want to have to explain to my mom why I was crying. I didn’t want to spoil it with words. I felt again, God is here, and also, Wardie would have loved this.

And then realized,

Wardie DOES love this.

I felt him right there with me, part of God and part of me, laughing with pure delight at the talented, beautiful horses and their riders. I thought,

THIS is the way to keep him close; doing joyful, childlike stuff with people we love will help me feel his joy.

It was such a gift to feel him close again.

There was more to see at the horse park, but we were ready to get back home.

We had our cranky moments, our minor disappointments, but it was everything I wanted in a weekend trip.

So grateful for every minute of it.

Next year, a Rainbow three-year-old is coming along.

unboxing

So, I sort of knew this, but it still seems weird:

Rainbow is now bigger than Ward ever was.

Whew.

He’s now a few days shy of 31 months old, and Wardie was 33 months when he had his accident. But Rainbow’s a really big 31 month old. I pulled out the ridiculously huge toddler clothes of Wardie’s that I’d put in the top of the closet back in February 2009. It seemed like the day would never come when our teeny little dreamed-of infant would ever fit into these big boy jeans and jackets and turtlenecks, but now it seems I’ve almost waited too long.

With laundry piling up ominously (groan…) I needed to put Rainbow in long pants for school this morning, and was totally out of clean ones. I remembered that box of Wardie clothes, the one that I’ve always thought of digging into when Rainbow got much, MUCH older. And, yeah, they fit perfectly, and are sort-of-almost-too small. Like, the moss colored jeans I put on him today are just long enough and are have no room to spare around the waist. This will probably be their only wearing.

And it’s weird, a little bit heart-lurchy, but also oddly relieving. I feel like Rainbow hitting 34 months will be a big emotional milestone for me, but it’s also a milestone that he’s just bigger that Ward got to be. I’m probably doing a poor job describing it, and I know I’m almost certainly doomed to be a fretful mother for my entire life, but there is a certain deep exhalation that I’m counting on having when Rainbow lives longer than his brother.

Whew.

As far as the debinking goes, I think I made some major headway last night. I had clipped off the tips of two of his binkies a couple of days ago and offered them to him at bedtime. Of course he tossed them and insisted on the “fresh” binky. I wasn’t up for a battle, so I let him have the unclipped one.

BUT: at about 4 am, he woke up and had lost his binky. I searched for that thing and it was nowhere to be found, so I presented the two clipped ones. A FRESH binky! he begged. I want a FRESH binky… *sniff* And I mentally steeled myself for a miserable and sleepless early morning.

AND YET: he gave up pretty quickly and used one of the snipped binkies for the rest of the night. It couldn’t have been that satisfying, but he slept with it and had it in his mouth when he woke up this morning. I’m thinking that Gradual Binky Depletion may be the answer here. Shearing off slivers every day seems like the least dramatic option, if he’s willing to use a binky that’s been cut at all, don’t you think? And yes, it doesn’t seem like the silicone is going to rip into chunks with a straight cut across the pacifier tip. It seems to be made of pretty tough stuff.

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