Sunday, October 29, 2006

The Pot of Gold At the End of the Rainbow

Daniel asked me to blow his bath water because it was hot. It was cute.

Caleb told me the other day that "There isn't Really a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. It's just a story."

That got me thinking. Rainbows are a gift from Heavenly Father. They are both a sign of His promises to us, and a blessing in and of themselves. It is a shame that we have attached a pot of gold, the ultimate in worldly rewards for many people, to the end of that. It's like we're saying that the end result of God's promise is monetary reward.

Unfortunately, I see that kind of thinking in the church (myself included) all the time. We think that, one way or another, the blessings from obeying this or that commandment should come in a worldly form. Conversely, I often get the impression that people think that if you are poor, you must be sinning somehow, because God blesses the righteous with money. A prime example, of course, is with Tithing. We all quote the "windows of heaven" scripture, saying that God will pour out blessings on us if we pay our tithing "that we'll not have room to receive." So we expect that if we continue to pay our tithing, we'll never go bankrupt or be without food, or whatever.

Of course, we all know that's not true. In fact, we are still poor, despite paying our tithing, but we have blessings that there is not room to receive them. For example, both Tim and I right now are completely overloaded with GOOD creative ideas--him for songs, me for novels--that we don't have time in the year to develop and pursue each one. Even in worldly things we've been blessed. When we pray for some object we think we need, more often than not, we're blessed with many of them. Like when Tim's bike got stolen, we prayed for a new bike and within a month he had four bikes, all good, that cost a total of $25--most of them were free. And just this last week, I prayed that we'd be able to get a color laser printer so Tim could produce the press materials he needs without the extreme cost. We didn't get a sudden extra $500 to buy a new one. Instead, unexpectedly on craigslist, someone posted a Color Laserjet 5 that worked for FREE--just come pick it up. When I got there 24 hours later (usually too late for to catch the deal) not only was it still there, but a newer Color Laserjet 4550 that is compatible with Tim's computer was also there, also free. We prayed for what we needed, and we got two--free.

And a laser printer is a "stuff" kind of thing, even. But it's not a pot of gold. Instead, it's the object we needed, which we might have spent the money on. Or we might not have. It's like giving a homeless drunk man a sandwich instead of $10 that he might or might not spend on the food he actually needs.

It's just a shame that we equate keeping covenants with getting worldly reward (fame, wealth, etc), especially when those things often aren't in our best eternal interest. Satan is clever. If we can become convinced that money is the reward for righteousness, then when we don't get the expected reward, we may be vulnerable enough to blame God for not keeping his promises instead of blaming ourselves for trying to control Heavenly Father by mandating the result of obedience. It's like all those stories we hear about people who were in car accidents or house fires but were wearing their garments and so were unhurt. That's wonderful that they were blessed that way--but hundreds of people are keeping the commandments and get hurt, or bankrupt, or "fail" in their eyes. Or are thrown into a flaming pit with all the scriptures in the city--or worse, have to watch their wives and children being thrown into the pit and not being allowed to stop it. And that doesn't mean that Heavenly Father failed to keep his promises.

Instead of spending our time predetermining the rewards we "will get" for our obedience, it seems like it would be smarter to enjoy the rainbow, trust the promises that it is supposed to remind us of, and stop searching for the pot of gold that probably would poison our souls anyway.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Home with the Kids

It's not the rejections that get me nearly as much as the "rules" I can't seem to follow but feel like I should. So today I felt vindicated. The first page of The Poison Spindle Problem breaks all the rules of TWO top agents, and I tried and tried to fix it but couldn't. So I left it as is and was ashamed, but comforted myself on the fact that the first five pages are what most agents take with the query, and those are okay. Today I got a response from an agent I had queried--she wants to see a "partial" (part of the manuscript to see if she wants to read the whole thing). And this request came based on (drum roll) the query, synopsis, and first page. She said it sounds "charming." So the kids and I gathered all the spare change we could find and made a trip to the post office to mail the three query packets I had set aside, plus the partial. It cost almost ten dollars, most of which will result in letters saying, "No thanks." Turns out writing is a cheapish hobby (cost of paper and ink if you decide to print it), but trying to get published is not so cheap.

We stayed up literally all night last night helping Tim pack and keeping him awake so that he would be ready to leave at 6:30. I told him I couldn't drive him to Denver at 9:30 am--I'd have to get up at 8:30, get the kids out in the car, and survive 2 hours of driving, half of which I would feel incredibly sick and the other half I'd have to try desperately to stay awake driving on Denver's messy freeways towing the trailer, which I would then have to get the neighbor to come unhitch from the van because I'm not strong enough. Then I would spend the next three days trying to recover from being that sick. So Tim and the guys took the shuttle. But we did have to drop them off there, across town. We watched a beautiful sunrise--better than any sunset I've ever seen--on the way home, and then the kids burst into tears because they didn't get to sleep and it was already tomorrow. I told them it was still night in our house, and everyone went to bed and right to sleep. We slept until 5:00 pm. This was weird, because it then got dark again at 6:00. I hate "vampire" days.

Anyway, "today" we had a nice time depositing checks in the night deposits for moosebutter and for us, and having an adventure at the post office with all our spare change. It would have been more fun if the two big kids didn't suddenly "have to go potty right now!" They eventually peed in the parking lot--one on my hand and one on my foot. And on a stuffed animal. Don't ask how we managed all that. It was one of my least favorite trips to the post office.

So I was finishing the last few copy edits in my novel (just in case anyone actually wants to read the whole thing), and I heard one of those sounds that makes moms alternately turn white with fear and red with anger: someone coloring on the wall. It turned out to be of those "couldn't be worse" times. Daniel was scribbling all over the wall with a black permanent marker. The big kids, trying to be helpful, managed to cover the marker with toothpaste (this does often help). We let it sit for half an hour (it has to sit in order to work), and only then did I notice that they also managed to coat Tim's rocking chair with the stuff--and it dried while we were waiting for it to suck up the ink on the wall. This was not pleasing to me. Then, to add to the stress, they used a kind of toothpaste (at my instruction) that has a smell that makes me feel sick. That's why I didn't want to use it to brush my teeth. It also made me not want to scrub the wall with it. And then, when I did scrub, it didn't work. So while I wasn't looking, Anda covered the wall with toothpaste AGAIN! So now I have to start over.....

Maybe not. Maybe I'll just go to bed and pretend the toothpaste will disappear over night. And that the lost library video will appear magically. And that the living room will clean itself. And that Tim really didn't fly to Boston for five days.

A couple of days ago we went to WalMart to look at toys while Tim recorded some parts for his new Christmas album (You're gonna love "In the Corner all Alone"--musical AND literary). Daniel looked at all the toys and finally pulled out a box of crayons. He crawled over and put it in my hands. "Oh, Dan," I said, "we aren't going to buy this." He smiled, pointed at the box, and then started spitting like he was spitting out yucky stuff. Then he pointed at the crayons again. Guess what Dan usually does with crayons? He eats them, and then spits out the bits when I catch him. It was like he was saying, "Don't worry, Mom, I'll spit them out again!" Very cute. A non-verbal one year old trying to negotiate for what he wants.

I've had to learn a new langauge lately as the big kids make up lots of words with few or no consonants and assign meanings to them. They're speaking "baby". And they remember the words, sometimes. So I walked into the bathroom and found Anda playing on the potty (lid closed). "I need to go potty, Anda. Can I go in here, or should I go to my room?" "Beeday-it," she said. "What?" I said. "That means go to your bathroom in baby," she said. "Oh," I said. This is a fairly typical occurence around here lately. "What cereal do you want?" "Uuuooo." "What?" "That's the word for rice krispies in baby." "Oh." Or "Ohohboo." "Is that rice krispies?" "No. That's Uuuuooo. Ohohboo is fruit loops." "Oh."

The irony is not lost on me that Daniel is spending all his time trying to become like the big kids, and they are spending all their time trying to be like he was three or four months ago. Except they insist on standing on their chairs while we eat dinner because they're babies. I don't know where that one came from.

Dinner has been exciting in other ways, too. Caleb insists on making a menu for each meal, which can be annoying when we are about to say the blessing and he won't let anyone eat until he's drawn a menu (pictures, not words, which would be a lot faster). This was tolerable, though, as long as the menus were descriptive of what I was making anyway. At our last meal I looked at the menu as we sat down, and Caleb had added "Gogurts" to the menu, which everyone ordered with glee as soon as Caleb announced they were there. He also refused to put fruit cocktail on the menu because he hates it, and then he said that nobody could eat any because it wasn't on the menu. That was irritating. Daniel saved us, though, by spontaneously learning right at that moment how to say "Peaches!" Renamed, the food was suddenly acceptable, and everyone but Caleb was allowed to eat it.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Writing and Why Editors Reject It

Somehow I always swing to extremes when contemplating my own writing. I suspect it has more to do with how much I've eaten and slept than the actual value of the writing, but today (Sunday: not enough sleep, and thus too sick to eat enough) I looked at my manuscript again (which yesterday I declared, once again, "Finished!" for maybe the fifth or sixth time) and said, "Oh no! It's boring, abrupt, longwinded, and doesn't compare favorably with what's out there. Not to mention it's only down to 166,900 words, and many publishers cap their books at 150,000."

So instead of fixing typos Mom and Dad found (and some serious logic and motivation problems which, when I saw their notes, I had to laugh at myself over), I was surfing the "agents who tell us why they reject things" pages online (mostly blogs like Miss Snark and The Rejecter, both famous and excellent resources for writers), and I found a link to a posting from some other blog in 2004 from an editor that spelled out why most authors are rejected. I post the text below, since it was enlightening and made me laugh out loud.

It also gave me hope that perhaps it's not the manuscript that's poor. Perhaps it's my blood sugar levels.

"Manuscripts are unwieldy, but the real reason for that time ratio is that most of them are a fast reject. Herewith, the rough breakdown of manuscript characteristics, from most to least obvious rejections:
1. Author is functionally illiterate.
2. Author has submitted some variety of literature we don’t publish: poetry, religious revelation, political rant, illustrated fanfic, etc.
3. Author has a serious neurochemical disorder, puts all important words into capital letters, and would type out to the margins if MSWord would let him.
4. Author is on bad terms with the Muse of Language. Parts of speech are not what they should be. Confusion-of-motion problems inadvertently generate hideous images. Words are supplanted by their similar-sounding cousins: towed the line, deep-seeded, dire straights, nearly penultimate, incentiary, reeking havoc, hare’s breath escape, plaintiff melody, viscous/vicious, causal/casual, clamoured to her feet, a shutter went through her body, his body went ridged, empirical storm troopers, ex-patriot Englishmen, et cetera.
5. Author can write basic sentences, but not string them together in any way that adds up to paragraphs.
6. Author has a moderate neurochemical disorder and can’t tell when he or she has changed the subject. This greatly facilitates composition, but is hard on comprehension.
7. Author can write passable paragraphs, and has a sufficiently functional plot that readers would notice if you shuffled the chapters into a different order. However, the story and the manner of its telling are alike hackneyed, dull, and pointless.
(At this point, you have eliminated 60-75% of your submissions. Almost all the reading-and-thinking time will be spent on the remaining fraction.)
8. It’s nice that the author is working on his/her problems, but the process would be better served by seeing a shrink than by writing novels.
9. Nobody but the author is ever going to care about this dull, flaccid, underperforming book.
10. The book has an engaging plot. Trouble is, it’s not the author’s, and everybody’s already seen that movie/read that book/collected that comic.
(You have now eliminated 95-99% of the submissions.)
11. Someone could publish this book, but we don’t see why it should be us.
12. Author is talented, but has written the wrong book.
13. It’s a good book, but the house isn’t going to get behind it, so if you buy it, it’ll just get lost in the shuffle.
14. Buy this book.
Aspiring writers are forever asking what the odds are that they’ll wind up in category #14. That’s the wrong question. If you’ve written a book that surprises, amuses, and delights the readers, and gives them a strong incentive to read all the pages in order, your chances are very good indeed. If not, your chances are poor."
From (most of the rest of the stuff is details about why authors are just too sensitive and think way too much about each rejection they receive.)

So I looked back at my rejections. I thought I had been rejected a lot and that's why I rewrote the book again, cutting those 44,000 words. I had 4 rejections. Now I have 5. I hear that you have to get between 25 and 100 to get an agent, but if you get 12-25 form rejections with no requests for sample chapters, it's time to reevaluate and rewrite. So I'm way jumping the gun on thinking it's terrible.

Probably I should have a snack and go to bed--I'll look at it again in the morning and think I'm a genius and have written the best escapist entertainment in the world and its only a matter of time before it's published, right?

More Recipes

I have finally tweaked and fiddled enough with some of our favorite recipes that they are now both easy and kid-friendly. So I share my modified recipes with you:

Beef Enchiladas:

Mix 1 can red enchilada sauce with 1 can tomato sauce and 1/2 c water. Brown 1 lb hamburger. Sir in 3/4 c sauce and 1 c grated cheese. Put some in each of 10-12 flour tortillas with a sprinkling of more cheese. Roll and place seam-side down in a lightly greased 9x13 pan. Pour remaining sauce over top and sprinkle with more cheese. Bake at 350 for 15-20 minutes.
I suppose you could make them layered, like a casserole, but we like them rolled, served half at a time, sometimes on a bed of lettuce. You could add any number of enchilada-friendly things to the filling (olives, onions, tomatoes, diced green chilies, etc.), but you don't need to.

Cajun Chicken

Slice 2-3 boneless skinless chicken breasts into thin slices. Stir-fry in 2-4 tbsp margarine until no longer pink. Stir in 3-4 tbsp flour and 1-2 tsp cajun or creole spice (you can usually get it at the dollar store). Slowly add 1 c milk and heat, stirring, until thickened. Serve over "confetti rice" (make rice and stir in 1-2 c peas and 1-2 tbsp pimentos if you have them).


In a bowl, mix 1 egg, 1/2 c milk, 1 tsp salt, dash of pepper, 1/4 c barbecue sauce, and 2 slices worth (about 1 c) of bread crumbs (blend in blender to make crumbs). Squish in 1 lb hamburger. Form into a loaf shape in a 9x13 pan and baste with 1/4 c more barbecue sauce. Bake at 350 for 1 hour.

My family loves this so much I have to triple the recipe for one meal. And yes, the barbecue sauce is even better than worcestershire sauce.

Great Kids' Educational TV

My kids are fascinated with a new discovery we've had on YouTube--Pitagora Suicchi, a Japanese Educational Math/Science show. It's all in Japanese. Some of it is subtitled, and some is not. You can access it from this website: There are several links at the bottom of the page, and you can also follow the links in to find more episodes. Both kids are absolutely fascinated with the whole thing, but especially the "incredible machines." And they might learn some Japanese in the process!

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

My Genre

It's important for an author to find their genre. Not from a writing standpoint, but from a publishing standpoint. If a publisher can't market a book, they won't publish it. It's a business thing. So authors are encouraged to find their genre.

The trouble is there are hundreds of genres and subgenres. Miss Snark, the leading Agent-blogger, says that 25% of the authors who query her (ask her to read their stuff) don't know their genre at all and label it wrong. 25% more get the general genre but not the subgenre. So half of us don't know what we're doing. lists genres with this (paraphrased) introduction: It's an easy question to answer for some people. Like "Where are you from?" If you've always lived in Ohio, that's not a problem. But if you were born in Indiana, grew up in California, live in Wisconsin, and work in Illinois, it's harder to answer.

So I got on AgentQuery again to read their description of genres, and then I furthered my research to include Wikipedia, my favorite online resource, and discovered I do write in a specific single genre. One that started the fantasy genre in 1858 with George MacDonald. They call it "Fairytale Fantasy." And, surprisingly, even my other planned works in the Bookstore Series fit the mold. The next book, as yet untitled, is set in the American West. But it is also set in the world of the American folksong and folklore, just like Poison Spindle is set in the world of Grimm and Andersen folksong and folklore. But the actual story, and the way the characters interact and the conventions of the tale are the same, despite the fact that they are set in the American West (which is, I might mention, the Enchanted Wood of American lore--I might cite "In a cavern in a canyon, excavating for a mine" or "Pecos Bill" or even "Johnny Appleseed.").

So I'm delighted. Now I can find an agent. Further, the genre itself took care of my audience problem. The genre is generally written for this certain unnamed unidentifiable audience of fairytale lovers--written for adults, marketed to Young Adults, but not strictly. LIke the works of Robin McKinley--read most widely by intelligent high school girls, so marketed both to YA and Adult audiences, often in different covers. Or Patricia Wrede--read most widely by smart 9-12th graders and beginning college students (she wrote "Dealing with Dragons," which Beth loved). Also marketed to YA, but not in the "high school drama/relationship drama" way. More in the way that Tolkien is often marketed to YA. But, because the readers are intelligent, the books aren't written with that "high school" or "junior high" feel--they just tell great stories.

Unfortunately, no agents list themselves as covering "Fairytale Fantasy" because its a subgenre. But many of the agents on my lists do both fantasy and YA, so I have a place to start. With a real name for my genre, even if I just go with Fantasy, I have a direction to look.

I also finished the most recent edit of my novel. I ended up cutting out 44,500 words---that's 133 pages. And I think it's better. Most of the cuts were like this: "She lay down on the floor and peeked under the door" became "She peeked under the door." Over and over and over.

Hopefully I didn't ruin it. NOw I have to reread to get out the "edited here" errors--like "he said" twice in one sentence where I edited dialogue. And then....we look for Fantasy agents.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Kids say funny things

From Caleb, teaching Anda to read: "TH is called 'eth'; SH is called 'esh'; CH is called 'etch'."

From Anda, out of nowhere: "A bowling ball is too big to swallow. It's also too big to put in your mouth."

From Caleb, on seeing the first snow of the year: "Oh Joy! Happiness at last!"

From Caleb: "I speak six languages: a little Chinese, a little Russian, a little French, a little Spanish, all of English, and all of baby."

Really Funny Stuff

I've collected (and written) some of these funnies. Time to share:

On a Subway in Provo: "Today is the first day of your life."

On a craigslist "free" posting: "Free Afghan from Afghanistan--with 2 pillow cases!"

On a poster at church: "We specialize in abuse by trained professionals."

On the One Step Home Pregnancy Test: "Step 1....Step 2.....Step 3....Step 4.... Step 5....."

From a file on my computer called "Stupdi Lines Written by Accident", all by me:

"You and your team start interviewing people who are alive. "

"Nobody's sure where Ebola comes from, but it always comes from Africa."

"You need to find everyone who has the disease and take them to the hospital or it will keep spreading." (the hospital is malignant?)

And lines cut from The Poison Spindle Problem:

"She sat with her back in the corner where the two walls met and looked around."

"Pulled the chain from her neck, breaking it."

"The only thing they disturbed were the flies on the compost heaps, which rose in annoyed, buzzing clouds."

"Kate wasn’t a decorator. Not even a chair."

"Pipes appeared wearing a long white nightshirt holding a candle."

"He shuffled across the room and picked it up, turning it over and over."

"When Kate had stepped out of the bath dressed in the gown, pantaloons, and petticoat...."

Thus we see clearly why I keep rewriting. My pronouns and modifiers tend to dangle, become vague, or otherwise mangle the sentences. My favorite is the one about the flying dungheaps, which made it through three versions by me and three other readers before I caught it.

Hope you had a jolly laugh. Now, back to work.

Happy Birthday to Me

Tim surprised me for my birthday by inviting my friends over from the ward. He even cleaned the house. It was really fun. Some even brought us chocolates!

Daniel surprised me for my birthday by taking his first steps. That was cool.

I got to talk to family. That was fun.

And now I'm 30. Wow. Finally I'm a grownup.

Finally I'm old enough in Boulder to start thinking about starting a family. Oh, wait....I'm on number 4 already. I'm not old enough for that, out here, but nobody ever is. So--Hooray!

It was a nice birthday.

And I got a new alarm clock and a new nightgown. Am I obsessing about sleep or something?

And the kids let me make a round birthday cake, one layer. That's wonderful.

Happy birthday, me!

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Scary Moments and a Reset

I had a doctor's appointment today and--horror!--they couldn't find the baby's heartbeat. I was in a mild panic, and they took me across the hall and did an ultrasound. Nobody else panic. The baby is fine. Cute, in fact. He's?SHe's just wiggly wiggly wiggly. While I was watching the small person jumped and rolled over at least five times. THe ultrasound only lasted one minute. So we have a wiggly person with arms, legs, a nose, eyes, mouth, head with a visible brain. What a relief.

Also, I found a great new blog for "newbie" writers: Six romance writers give their advice on writing, and all of them said their pet peeves include the "rules" for how to write a novel. I had come to this conclusion myself: the rules only work for the person who wrote them. So I threw them all out. But the bloggers (all professional writers) also said don't use too much description, which was one of the rules. So what do I do?

My general conclusion has been that writing is like teaching. If you don't trust your readers/students, they won't get into what you're trying to say. But if you trust them, and talk to them as people, you all have a wonderful journey together. Beyond that rule: trust and respect the people you are teaching/telling a story to, there seem to be no hard and fast rules.

My other general conclusion is that I am so blessed that (1) I have to sit down a lot because of fibro and (2) I can jump my thoughts around all over the place and follow many distractions while writing cohesively ( perhaps because of ADD?). Because of this, I have been able to be a mom and write, which is consistently something writing moms complain about. Apparently most writers need a clean house and 2+ hours uninterrupted to write. I can't keep the house clean anyway, so I gave up on that a long time ago, and I don't have to be uninterrupted to write. So I can write as a Mom, while most writers have to wait until their children are at least all in school. So maybe these physical handicaps are a blessing. Or maybe writing is the blessing, given to help me not only survive, but create wonderful things out of my weaknesses. Don't they say with faith weaknesses become strenghts? I think maybe I understand a little bit what that means now.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Cute Baby Tricks

I logged on to blogger last night and noticed that, at 2:00 am, you get lots of foreign blogs being updated. Lots in Portuguese. A few in Finnish. Maybe I should move to Europe--our schedule would be right on there.

Daniel is at that "Does Something Cute Every Day" Stage. I was counting at him (I don't know why, but it wasn't a "I'm gonna count to three and then...." kind of count), and I said, "One," and he piped up with "Two!" I said, "Three, four five!" and he said, "Six!" Surprised me.

He also now says, "Woof" and "Meow", and he thinks that "Mama" means "Kisses."

He also just developed stranger anxiety, so we missed the "get him used to a babysitter" window. Shoot!

Tim is downstairs recording new songs (big surprise, right?). He wrote this gorgeous Christmas Pop song, like something a boyband would sing in perfect harmony and all the teenage girls would cry along with. Sounds like it should be on the radio. And he does this off the top of his head, without any agony, and then doesn't take it seriously because it's so easy. Naturally, this one is going to be a comedy bit. That's what he does. But it just amazed me that he can write classical AND pop AND jazz AND comedy, and it's all so easy that he doesn't even try to sell it or anything because, you know, it's like breathing. You don't sell that. Go figure.

I rewrote the beginning of my novel over and over following all the instructions from well-respected people online. And then I thought it was done, and gave it to Tim, and looked at it again, and it was Total Crap. So I went back to square one and said, "Time to delete and start over--just the first chapter"--and I came up with this great first line for a novel: "Kate hated to read." Then I remembered that That was the first line before I started messing with it. Oh. So I went back to the way it was before, and, lo and behold, I LIKED it. It wasn't any of what I had imagined it was. I would say the editing was a waste of time, but it actually got me into one more rewrite where I found several more rather big inconsistencies in the characters' behaviors (like why does Robin Hood explain Everything to Kate? Head Spy in Serious Trouble wouldn't give all his secrets away to a stranger. Duh. And its not necessary for the story). So, with those fixed, I managed to cut 28,000 words (yikes! that's a lot of dead wood) from just the first half of the book. I thought I might cut 20,000 more from the last half, but the last half is already really good. It was just the beginning that wasn't. Hopefully now it is because I found several more agents I'm interested in working with.

Just now I have to determine once and for all who my audience is. It doesn't feel like a Young Adult novel (think "Over Sea Under Stone" or "Ella Enchanted" for YA). But it's not chick lit (no sex or corporate stresses). So I need to figure out what to call the "16-26 year old smart female" audience--a book for the same age/gender as chick lit, but for people who want escapist fiction, not relationship fiction. What is THAT audience called?

We aren't wandering--yet

A few days ago I heard Anda say in the bedroom, "Uh, Oh! Dan's doing something really bad!" Then it sounded like rain. Naturally, I ran in. Daniel was cheerfully dumping an entire box of Rice Krispies (the new box, of course) onto the bed and floor. He was MAD when I took it away. Then it took me twenty minutes to find the vacuum, which was holding all the shirts I hadn't felt like hanging on hangers. We did eventually get everything cleaned up. I actually had to use the vacuum twice in one day (I imagine it felt overworked, since it usually holds shirts), and we got the shredded styrofoam off the floor in the family room.

The next day, a sociology PhD student came by to interview Tim about home recording and see his studio. I imagine it was the only studio setup in his research that was constructed from turning a bunkbed on end and strapping the mattresses to the outside with bungee cords.

Later, I once again heard a commotion down the hall. This time, it was cheering. So I again went to find out what was going on. I found Anda and Caleb cheering for Daniel, who was standing up and sitting down over and over again in the middle of the hall--without help, and without pulling up on the walls or anything. "Hooray!" Caleb said. "Daniel's a toddler now!" Dan thought it was great.

Nice to see that all three kids like to play together, even if they sometimes dump the cereal in the bedroom.

Today, the kids informed me that they are planning a surprise party for my birthday. "What is your favorite thing?" they asked, wanting to know what shape I should make my suprise birthday cake in to surprise me with. I told them I would really really really like a round cake. Just plain round. Maybe with a smiley face on it. Not shaped like a kitty, or like Caleb and Anda together. Funny kids. They have a grasp on "Let's do something for mom," but not on "So we'll ask DAD for help."

When they asked what I wanted for my birthday, I almost said word for word what Mom always said, "I want everyone to be good." I understand now what she meant. When I was a kid, I thought she just was trying to save money. I don't think I ever really tried to be good. Now I wish I had. The other thing I want is for everyone to sleep through the night. Not for Tim to wake up with the kids, because I'll wake up, too, out of habit, and lay there wondering if he knows the fast way to get them back to sleep, etc.

I suppose I'll get that once before the new baby comes. Maybe. I comfort myself with the fact that Mom gets to sleep through the night every night now. And she doesn't have people dumping cereal everywhere, or playing in the toilet (except maybe the dog), or writing on the walls with markers, or spitting on the couch, or any of those other things I hate. And I seriously doubt she gets koolaid spilled on her feet on a regular basis any more. There is something to look forward to...

We were about to wander out to Boston, but moosebutter really preferred not to go for two and a half weeks, so now we're staying home and the guys are all flying out for the two weekends. This is a way I prefer--costs less, too, and we'll be travelling plenty later, hitting Utah for a month in November/December. So we're not putting Melody away yet.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Why do I think about food so much?

Jon's blog is about helpful, useful, spiritual things. Mine seems to be about food and hormones. Hmmmm.....

If you want to try a completely unsatsfying treat, try fat free no sugar added creamsicles. I bought them by accident. You know how advertisers use the strongest language they can to sell their products? This product's strongest claim in "Quiescently Frozen Confection." It's right on the box.

Another new thing in food we tried this week that was a serious flop was Shake and Bake, the Albertson's version. It turned three perfectly good chicken breasts into dog food. Amazingly yucky. And not easier than your usual tastes good made at home chicken coating (you know, where you throw a half-cup of flour into a bag and shake in some salt and pepper, maybe a little paprika and poultry seasoning, and a bit of powdered sugar if you're feeling frisky). You still shake the chicken. You still cook it the same way. Just home-made doesn't end up quite so thick on the chicken. But it tastes good.

So the pregnancy hormones are affecting my system in weird ways. For example, if I don't eat and sleep enough, I become convinced that someone is around every corner ready to jump out and get me, but only after the sun goes down. I believe they call it paranoia. Also, every person I see, I imagine a grisly death for--not at my hand. Things like trees falling on them, or their car plummeting into the ocean, get the idea. It's not something I enjoy. Let's call it SERIOUS motivation to eat and sleep enough. My doctor said, "You know, we have medicine for that. Let me know if it gets so you can't let go of the dark thoughts, and we'll get rid of them for you." Zoloft, they call it. Or just eat and sleep enough, eh? Why give the baby drugs?

The other weird hormone thing is that "13 years old" feeling again--that one that every time someone you know turns their back or is talking to someone else and you can't hear it, they must be talking about you? Julie knows what I'm talking about. So I hesitate to write in my blog because I'm afraid I'll annoy you all by filling up your email boxes. But, at the same time, I would love to get an email from each of you every day, and I love to get Jon's blog in MY email box, no matter how often it comes. Go figure. Hormones. Nine months of insanity.

Meanwhile, the baby that's causing all this upheaval, making me haunt the kitchen, and forcing me to face the fact that fibromyalgia can be a lot worse than I usually have it (right now, I'm experiencing the "real deal")--he's only as big as my thumb. Caleb says his name is James Tenors Jones. Anda says it's Madeline.

We finally got smart and made a prayer/last story chart so that I wouldn't have to say every family prayer every day anymore, and so that I wouldn't have to keep reading one book for each kid each night. It's really helped. So we added family home evening jobs to it, too. The kids love it. They even made a pocket for Tummybaby. He gets to plan the FHE lesson next week. The kids told me I can help.

So that's us right now. Melody sits idle in the driveway, limiting herself to trips to the library and grocery store because that's all the energy I have.

Oh, and moosebutter has a couple new promo videos finished. They should be showing up on google video soon--check moosebutter's website, I guess, and email your comments to me or Tim. We'd love to hear what you think.