Thursday, October 31, 2013

What To Do?

Here we are, at October 31, on the cusp of a brand new November. And what is November? We have gone through this a couple of times on the blog...it is NaBloPoMo. A month of posts. Thirty of them, to be exact. A goal to reach. Except I've done it before, and as I said last year (I think), Id rather accept a new challenge.

Well, you say, you could do NaNoWriMo. What? Yes, that stands for National Novel Writing Month. But I did that last February when I wrote Beyond the Trees in thirty days, which means I'm a little ahead of or behind the times, depending on which way you look at it. (By the way, funny aside. The NaNoWriMo website says, November 1-30, The world needs your novel. Well, I'm going to argue against that. So far, no one has grabbed the two that I've done, although to be fair, I've only tried to do anything with one. But I digress.) And I don't have enough time this month to sit and write a 50,000 word novel.

So where does that get me? I checked out my goal for last year, which was to finish up Drops of Jupiter. According to the blog, I made that goal. And while I am not looking for the easy way out (let's admit it, writing really isn't that easy any way you cut it), I have a manuscript that sits at about 24,000 words, right now. A manuscript that could go in many different directions, none of which I am sure about. If I take on the manuscript, and try to finish it up over the month of November, will my desire to be challenged be quenched? Is the Pope Catholic, as they say?

Well that's it, folks. By the end of November, I'd like to have a working draft of After We've Fallen. I can already tell this is going to be a tough thing to do, so if I get grumpy, bear with me, please. I'll report back here because, even when I say I'm taking a hiatus, I never do. I gots too much to say!

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

The Battlezone

Imagine this: Our house, last night. Melina snoozes in her room and Aaron has gone off to bed. The drapes are drawn and the dog has settled for a long nap in the family room. Tim is at the computer; I'm in my room, reading.
Z and T: Can I play Minecraft for a few minutes?
Me: I'm up here, in my room, and Daddy is in charge downstairs. Go ask him; it's his decision.
Z and T: Okay.
The girls head downstairs, and I catch a snippet of words here and there. I can't really tell how the conversation ensues, until I hear two sets of elephant feet on the stairs, from the girls who can sneak up on anyone (even me, with my extra sensitive canine ears). They trudge to their room and slam the door. I roll my eyes, take a deep breath, and go back to my book.

Not surprisingly, Tim walks into our bedroom next.
Tim: Did you hear that?
Me: Yes. I guess you said no to Minecraft.
Tim: Yeah, I said that we'll see how they do on their math quiz. Then we can address Minecraft.
Me: That's fine. I said it was your decision, so if you said no, then it's no.
Tim: Yeah.
Tim crosses his arms over his chest, in preparation for another battle, should the twins exit their room before he makes it down the stairs. Lucky for him, they don't.

I can now hear the girls twittering in their room. It is approaching 9 o'clock and they each have the start of a cold. Plus it is Halloween in a few days. And Grandparents are supposed to visit. They know all of this. And they know they are supposed to be in bed by 9 pm. I haul my tired bum out of bed and start down the hall. As I walk, I notice that the downstairs light in the study area is on, the place the girls just were. I knock lightly on the girls' door and go in.
Me: Hey, it's time for bed.
Z and T: Scowl.
Me: What are you doing?
Z: I'm ripping up paper.
Me (in my head): What the hell?
Me: Listen, the light is on downstairs, and you need to get to bed. Plus, your things need to be put away, please. And that is a waste of paper. Now get going!
Z and T: Silence.
Me (in my head): Crap, crap, can't they just get their tiny asses in bed and leave me alone?
I leave the doorjamb and take three steps, and then, I hear this:
Z or T (in a voice that attempts to imitate me, and rather badly, I must add): The light is on, your things need to be put away, and you need to get to bed. And oh, no Minecraft.
Like a robot on a mission, I turn and walk back to their door all the while mumbling to myself that I need to stay patient and that smacking your child across the face is not the way to make it to parent of the year. Plus, it is against the law.

I don't knock this time.
Me: Allright. I heard that. Who said it?
Z and T: Silence.
Me: Who said that? That was completely disrespectful. Who said it? (My eyes feel like they are blazing fire and if I could, I'd have put my hand out and used the force on them.)
T: I did.
Me: Well, thank you, Zoe, for not ratting out your sister. Talia, Halloween might need to be negotiated this year. We'll see. 
I don't hear from them the rest of the night. And when I wake this morning, they are still soundly sleeping. But when it is time for the girls to come down and have breakfast, all is still not right. Talia says nothing to me, and Zoe has a furrow between her brows. We make it through the morning routine, barely, at least in my opinion.

And this is why I've learned that a little bit of alcohol in a cup of coffee (or an extra pumpkin scone) is never a bad thing.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Pumpkin Carving

Amazingly, but only because some friends called and suggested we do it when they planned to come over, we carved our pumpkins. Last year, and maybe even the year before, we bought pumpkins. We just never got around to putting a knife to them.

The results? See below. They aren't all ours, and I have to say that we cheated and used a Dremel power tool for some of the tough spots. Plus, we had an artist on hand (no, it wasn't Tim, but our friend, Tom).


Monday, October 28, 2013

SHOUTING AT MYSELF

SO THAT I REMEMBER TO:

1. SLOW DOWN.
2. BE PATIENT.
3. BE LESS VERBOSE.
4. HOLD CONFIDENCE AS A TOP PRIORITY.
5. BELIEVE IN MYSELF.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Words Are Not Enough

Despite the large number of words that pass out of my fingers each day, and out of my mouth, I don't always have the right ones. Like anyone else, I grapple with being more assertive when necessary, or finding the right words in awkward situations. And even though I think I am a warm, caring, person who can express herself reasonably well on paper, when life happens to people I love, my words are not nearly enough.

I found out this morning that a new friend of mine has lost her father, someone I didn't know. What do you say to this? I sat at my computer, mouth to my hand, tears forming in my eyes. Had she been my neighbor, I might have checked to see if she was awake and trudged over for a long and comforting hug. But she's not even in our city, much less our state, at the moment, and because of the shock of the news, I threw out a standard line of being sorry for the loss.

It is not the worst thing that anyone can say at a time like this, but it isn't the greatest, either. But being put on the spot, it was the best I could do. Now that I've had time to think about everything, there are so many better things that I could say. The one I'm going to say is this:
And still, after all this time, the Sun has never said to the Earth, You owe me. Look what happens with love like that. It lights up the sky. ― Rumi
Love for a parent and love from a parent, things that change with the years but never waver, are as capable of lighting up the sky as the sun is. Put those together with the memories of that loved one and you've got enough light for a million or more years.

Hugs and prayers and lots of love and light to you, my friend.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Snips

I'm not one to judge, really, but this is the headline I read today:

Tori Spelling: We can't afford a vasectomy

I'm guessing that can't possibly be true, and here is why.

(Are you ready for a bit of TMI?)

I was at my annual exam and the nurse practitioner asked, "Is there anything else we can help you with?"

Why yes. "Do you have the name of a good urologist? I'd like my husband to get a vasectomy. And, he's on board with the whole thing."

"Sure," she said.

That afternoon, I got a call from the physician's office to which we were referred. I called the receptionist back, gave her Tim's information, and made an appointment for a consult. The woman said she'd be calling me back once she talked to the insurance company.

"Christina?" she said. "The initial consult will be a $40 copay, and the outpatient procedure will be another $40 copay."

"And the rest will be covered by insurance?" I asked.

"Yes," she confirmed.

"Well that makes me wonder why we didn't do this before now!" She chuckled at my comment, but I was serious.

And really, if we can afford what will amount to an $80 procedure, I think that Tori and Dean can, too. 

 

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Things I Realized Today

That Melina can brighten any bad day of mine just by smiling.

That writing is far more difficult than I ever imagined.

That writing is more difficult than giving birth.

That confidence is a tough thing to keep with you every day, all day.

That running into friends at the grocery store can make my day.

That ordering a kid's temperature Vanilla Creme is not a good idea; it's just not hot enough.

That I do not look forward to going back to teaching A & P, and that actually makes me sad.

That snow, in October, is never okay.




Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Thank You.

A blog is great, sometimes, for keeping things anonymous. But I know plenty of you out there would know exactly about whom I am speaking if I tell my story of the day here. So I can't.

I will say, and you can all nod your head in agreement, that there are reasons that people come into our lives. And there are so many good people that enrich our lives because of who they are. They wake up in the morning and make our lives better simply by being. I am lucky to say that I have several people like this in my life. In our lives.

So thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

I Regret to Inform You

Dear Trader Joe's:

I've come to expect a lot from you. I love your sesame sticks, veggie sticks, Feta cheese, pasta, veggie meatballs, bag of Honeycrisp apples and Pumpkin Bread mix. The list is much longer, but you don't need a comprehensive list from me. So I was very excited, no thrilled, to see a Pumpkin Cranberry Scone mix sitting on the shelf. Perhaps the fact that it was on the shelf, should have been my first clue. In contrast, the Pumpkin Bread mix is bought by friend and foe such that I squirrel away boxes for the next year and people shove past each other in the aisle to get the last box.

But try it, I did. And served the freshly made and still warm scones to a few friends with tea this morning. I labeled the scones meh, as the kids like to say, and my friends agreed. Do you want to know why? It's easy: I could find the cranberry, but I tasted nothing that resembled pumpkin. Sure, there was a bit of spice, but not enough to call the scone a Pumpkin Cranberry scone.  Meh is not how I like to start my morning. Meh just doesn't cut it.

And so I blame you. Because of my meh scone, my mood soured and I got agitated at the smallest of things. But hey, my scone didn't taste like pumpkin, so I can blame it, or you. At the grocery store, when I forgot the list in the car, I blamed the scone. When I couldn't get dinner done fast enough for four hungry kids, yep, you got it, I took all accountability away from me and shoved it into your face, Joe. All because of your scone.

I've thought about actually sending you a nice note, telling you how much I really do love most of your products and that you need to go back to the drawing board, but since my day started off really badly, I'm tired, and I think I'll head to bed.

I plan on going back to my standard animal crackers and coffee in the morning.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Annual Exams

Today, I will make the annual trip to the gynecologist's office. And likely get scheduled for my first mammogram. It isn't something I am looking forward to, but for the health of my body, and the sake of me and my kids (and Timmy), I'll do it.

Imagine my surprise yesterday when I told a neighbor and friend that I had my annual appointment booked for today. She looked at me like I was crazy and sheepishly admitted that she did not visit the gynecologist each year. That the only times she visited a gynecologist's office were when she was pregnant and had to see the OB. That the first time had been with her first pregnancy and the last time, with her last pregnancy, six years ago.

It was my turn to look shocked.

I wanted to say, there is a reason we have pelvic exams, Pap smears, breast exams, and mammograms. I wanted to say that she was being irresponsible, not only for herself, but for her family. I wanted to say that her behavior would be mimicked, most likely, by her girls. I wanted to say so many things, all of which, I knew, would be met with excuses.

So I didn't. Instead, I said that I wasn't one to judge, but that I thought getting an annual exam (where not all of the above are even given anymore, i.e. Pap smears are recommended every 2-3 years depending on the age of the woman) was very important. I'd always done it, and I always will.

And I hope that it's enough. Had it been a student, I would have tried harder to sell the annual exam. Had it been a family member, you can bet I'd go to bat. Had she even asked my opinion, I'd have tried to pull out some long ago learned facts that might have persuaded her to behave differently. But sometimes, you just have to move on and hope for the best.

I hope for her sake, that she doesn't regret the decision she's made not to get an annual exam.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Best Things

Best thing about the kitchen, aside from a counter top that doesn't crumble and a refrigerator that we can open all the way?

According to the kids it would be the smooth wood floor. The older three are in that room, right now, break dancing.

And reminiscing about the Lawrence Welk episode they witnessed earlier this evening.

Wish I could get a video.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Kitchen V (The Big Reveal)

I present our new functional, fun, happy, kitchen. It's hard to see all the detail in the tiling: the fact that the ribbon of glass accent tiles is quite bright and that each subway tile is slightly different from its neighbor. But you get the gist. Words cannot convey my gratitude for being able to take care of the project at this point in time. Now, I better sell a book so I can pay off the home equity loan!


Thursday, October 17, 2013

Forgotten

I promise pictures next time, but aside from a nose on the stairs, the kitchen is done.

But I forgot one little thing in the whole planning of this kitchen.

Okay, maybe two things.

1. The new oven has an oven drawer on it with a handle. When you open the dishwasher, the handle is in the way. To make things easy, we took off the handle on the drawer.

2. I didn't even think about molding for between the wall and the ceiling. I'm not going to ask for it now that the guys have gone and the checks have mostly cleared. I'll plan on putting it up in the next few years.

Overall, though, we are pleased with our choices. Which is a good thing, because I have no intention of going through that again any time soon.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Publishing

It's not very good, but it's not unambitious, and it's not lazy. It's about him but it's not, it's revealing but it's not, and in the end, it's interesting but it's not.

That's a quote from Linda Holmes on James Franco's new novel. Do you know who James Franco is? If not, check out IMDb or even Holmes' entire article here at NPR. In short, he's an actor who seemingly does everything. I thought I even read a tidbit about him in the last year or so that said he was pursuing his PhD at Yale University. And among the things he thinks he can do, is that he can write. Or not.

But my point isn't whether or not that he can write. I haven't read the novel. And that isn't Holmes' point, either. My point is that the novel that Holmes says isn't very good, is a novel that he got published, probably within a short span of time. And why? Because of who he is.

And here we are, every day putting our fingers to the keyboards, or keypads, or pens to the paper, checking and rechecking our word counts and making sure our characters jump from the page and that our dialogue is natural and flows well and querying agents and collecting rejections like Aaron collects bottle caps, and this guy, who does everything but maybe not very well, gets a book deal. Because he's a celebrity.

Am I jealous? Of course; I'd be a liar if I said that I wasn't. But the chances of me becoming a celebrity are slim to none, so I'll have to go the traditional route of writing query letters and making connections to get any of my work published. And that is fine with me.

Write on!

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Happiness Is...

Running in the rain to the car with the kids and then pulling on warm fleece pajamas. The only thing that would make it better would have been to climb into bed with a good book. But homework had to be finished.

I think fall is in the air...

Monday, October 14, 2013

Plot Sisters

I haven't written much about the writing group of which I am a part. It's not because I don't want to; I'd love to extol the virtues of my four friends. No, I haven't written because I can't. I somehow have trouble finding the words to articulate what these women mean to me. Their personalities, their support, their wisdom, their experiences...all of those have come together to  help me become the writer, and person, I am today.

That's all I can say right now. The end. But thank you, Plot Sisters. There must have been some magic in the air the day we all came together.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Open Doors

I just wanted to say that, after ten years in this house, I can finally open my refrigerator doors all of the way. It took a pulling out of the refrigerator and a complete kitchen renovation, but halleluiah, we've got access to the cooler! Of course pictures will follow, once everything is complete (and they are almost done).

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Perseverance

"Hey," Tim said. "Did you hear about who won the Nobel Prize for Literature?"

"Yep," I said. I'd been feeling discouraged as of late. This writing gig is difficult. It's hard to carve out time to write much less find the inspiration to do so. Why did I try to do this again?

"You know something?" Tim continued.

"Nope." My head was buried in a book, as I was trying to help Zoe with her Great Sphinx report. To be honest, I was annoyed that he was bothering me. I'm sure the tone of my voice said as much.

"Did you know that Alice Munro first got published when she was 37?" His voice was hopeful.

"Yeah, well, I'm already three years past that." I'm sure my voice sounded petulant.

"And did you know that she had to write during her kids' nap times?" Tim added.

I paused and let his words sink in. I looked at Zoe, and said to Tim, "Thanks for that little tidbit."

I meant it, of course. Sometimes a small boost of confidence can keep a person going.

Friday, October 11, 2013

End Caps

Here we are, nearing the completion of the kitchen (yes, I'll post pictures, but I thought I'd wait for the final reveal) and this is the conversation I had yesterday with the foreman.
Him: The tile guy will be coming tomorrow.
Me: Okay, the tile is in  my bedroom. I'll be sure to bring it down.
Him: Oh, and do you have end caps?
Me: I have no idea what those are. So no, I don't have them.
Him: Well, those go on the end, sort of as a finisher. If you can find something for tomorrow, that would be great.
I call the guy from whom I bought tile, the sort that needs to be ordered. (In retrospect, this is a very plain tile. Why in the heck did I have to order plain tile?)
Me: Hey C! This is Chris. I ordered the tile, but do you have end caps for it?
Him: I don't keep anything in stock.
Me: So I'd have to order matching end caps. They would take about a week?
Him: That's right.
Me: Okay, thanks.
Didn't anyone, meaning the tile man, the foreman, the contractor, the designer, think to tell this first-time kitchen renovator that I needed end caps? Why didn't they check on this weeks ago? I'm learning, I tell you, from all of these little mistakes, and while I have no plans to redo another kitchen, the next time, I might actually have the system down.

Melina and I went to the local tile shop, the one that didn't have the tile I wanted, and purchased some end caps that might be okay. All six of the family members here think they look fine. If they aren't quite up to snuff when they put them up today, I'll give the tile man a call and order those matching end caps. Which will put the end of this kitchen out a little later than I wanted, but that's the way life goes.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Thank you, John M. Cusick

I try not to judge people, but I've never said I won't judge a book.

And since many of the stories I write fall into the teen/YA category, I find myself, often, in the teen/YA section of the library. I came across a book today, called Girl Parts, by John M. Cusick. I don't know anything about it, although I do know that John M. Cusick is also a literary agent. In fact, I queried him the other day, just for kicks. I don't think he'll get back to me, but his interests are in line with mine, and I thought to myself, Why the heck not?

I opened the front cover of his book and read the dust jacket. It looked intriguing, to say the least. The first line of the book didn't completely hook me, but there, on that first page, sentence number seven called to me. I'll put sentence number six here, too, so you have some context.
It was quiet. The analog clock went teck.
Okay, okay, I know there's nothing supremely literary about those two sentences, but I heard the angels sing, I swear I did. John M. Cusick used (correctly) the word analog, to describe a clock that has hands on it. That's an act I thought everyone did until I read a book (by a different author, one that I can't even remember the title of) that used the word pre-digital to describe a clock with hands. Pre-digital? Really?

So judge I will, and I deem this book worthy of at least a little of the time I have so little of. And I just want to say thank you, John M. Cusick, for making my day. I borrowed the book, and, should I enjoy it, I'll recommend it to all my friends. (And please, spend a little time on my query letter while you are at it. I'm a first time novelist who really, really wants to spread the love of a good book around.)



Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Percents and Proportions

Can you tell me what number 63 is 90% of? Don't get scared, FRN, and please don't comment that I ended my question with a preposition. I just want to know the answer, and how you calculated it.

There are several ways that I know how to calculate the answer.

1. In my head. Which is now referred to as mental math. All the times when we were kids, when you didn't show your work and you said to the math teacher, I did it in my head? I never got credit for that. Well now, you can explain yourself by saying, I did mental math. The teacher will look at you, smile, and give you full credit. No matter if you pulled the answer out of your behind.

2. By converting the number sentence. 63 = 90/100 * N. N is what we don't know, and so we can solve for N by multiplying both sides by 100/90, and we get 70. To double check, if we say 63/70, we do indeed find the answer to be 90%.

3. Using a proportion, #1. This is a variation on #2 above. We can say that 63 out of N is equal to 90%, so the proportion would look like this: 63/N = 90/100. This is where I would cross-multiply and say that 63 * 100 = 90 * N, and again, we'd solve for N. Divide both sides by 90 and we have 6300/90 = 70.

4. Using a proportion, # 2. Again, a variation of #2 and #3, really. You can set up the same equation, 63/N = 90/100, but this time, you look and see how you get from 90 to 63. If you're good enough at math, you'd realize that you multiplied 90 by 0.7 to get 63. Since you did that to the numerator, you HAVE to multiply the denominator by the same value. So 100* 0.7 = 70. This sort of business works better for the 6th grade student if it is obvious what you multiplied the numerator by, such as in the following example. 25/N = 50/100.

Now, as if you didn't have enough ways to solve this problem, teachers are throwing another option at you. Instead of picking a short method from above (I really like #3 and use that all the time, like this morning, when I needed to adjust a recipe for pancakes.) my kids are learning about double number lines.

5. Double number lines. You basically have to model the percentage by dividing the number into the number of parts you think you need to divide it into. And then you write 63 at the 90% mark. It was too much to do the math here, but I have a picture of a simpler example. See if you can do it. It's part of the common core, and kids need to know how.
Yeah, it isn't that intuitive, is it, to make this double number line. Mental math is easy here, and really, just setting up the proportion, if your brain fails you, takes no time at all. In my opinion, we're scaring more folks than helping with this method. In fact, they're making mountains out of molehills. I'd already be on question number 5 of my paper if I'd chosen to use a proportion to figure out the answer to 63 is 90% of? Instead, I'm still spinning my wheels, trying to figure out what I need to divide my number into. 

So my take on all of this? If the children are understanding the traditional method, why bother changing it? I've used proportions my entire life and they have yet to fail me. I don't need a number line and a piece of paper and 5 minutes to do them, either.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Middle School Mom Cop

Melina and I headed over to the middle school yesterday for our first experience with volunteering there. We had signed up to help with the Scholastic Book Sale. To share a couple of hours with Melina and books is never a problem. Unless middle schoolers are involved.

I was the only adult volunteer there for about two hours. In that time, we didn't see many kids, but a few trickled in during activity time (that's recess to everyone else) and we had an entire class or two stop by. During one of the lighter times, as in when only four or five kids were actually in the space with me, I had two girls who decided I looked like the right person to try something on. They were wrong.

The first girl, dressed in a cobalt blue hoodie with a front pocket, kept looking back at me when she was at the trinket shelf. I watched her, checked the rest of the room, and then put my eyes back on her. Twice, I thought I saw her almost slip something into that pocket. So, my eyes stayed put, on her, until she gave up and left.

Middle Schoolers: 0
Middle School Mom Cop: 1

The second girl was even more brazen. She purchased a $0.99 eraser set (wrapped in very crinkly plastic) and placed it into her hand. She then went on for the next fifteen minutes and fingered just about any of the other accessories we had set up. She looked at the bracelets, the pointers, the calculators that looked like chocolates, and even the erasers like the ones she purchased. I watched as she put them in her palm and then placed them back into the bin. Or not.

On her way out of the room, I said, "Did you pay for both of those? I know I rang you up for one." She said, "Oh, I guess not," and put the second one back into the bin. No flush of the face, no apologies, just a simple shrug, as if to say, I do this all the time.

Middle Schoolers: 0
Middle School Mom Cop: 2

Here's the deal. I hope my kids never steal. EVER. But if someone is going to steal something from a book sale, at least make it a book. The accessories are just a bunch of junk; books are something from which you can at least learn.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Rainy Days and Mondays...

What happens when the rainy day is on a Monday? Do we go berserk? Pull out our hair? Curse the sky as we run through the cold droplets that plunk against out skin like ice?

No, we sit and write about it.

At least we do if the we in question is me. But because I have quite a bit to do today that doesn't involve writing (more specifically my volunteer schedule is nuts today), I won't whine about it here. Just know that the Carpenters had it right with that song.

Talkin' to myself and feeling old.
Sometimes I'd like to quit;
Nothing ever seems to fit;
Hangin' around, nothing to do but frown;
Rainy days and Mondays always get me down.

Actually, I just looked it up, and Paul H. Williams wrote the song (of course he did. What hasn't that man written?). So I guess he had it right. Hope your Monday isn't as rainy as ours!






Sunday, October 6, 2013

Reasons 101-110

101. Eating a delicious brunch with new friends on a rainy Sunday morning.
102. Having a delicious dinner with not-new friends on a lazy Saturday evening.
103. Green peas.
104. Thinking about food but not always wanting to eat it, but always having it available.
105. The thought that our house was a haven, for a little while, for a worm trying to get out of the rain.
106. The sight of an almost 9 year old boy running naked around the second level of our house.
107. Autumn leaf colors.
108. The sound that plastic makes when it wrinkles in the wind.
109. The feel of warm carpet under cold, rain covered feet.
110. The fact that I have over 100 reasons to be happy.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Spreading Sunshine

Sitting here on a Friday with a half-finished manuscript, coffee, and some music in hand, and a wonderful song passes through the speakers. And I think to myself, holy cow, I love it. I especially like the title, I Make My Own Sunshine, and think how appropriate that is for everyone. Apparently, this was used in a Lowe's commercial some time back, but I don't watch television, so I'm a bit behind the times. So in an effort to spread a bit of sunshine, I'm including the lyrics here. Now go out and make your own sunshine, every day. You'll thank me.

I Make My Own Sunshine, Alysa Bonagura

Everything is wonderful
Everything is great
Free as a bird singing outside my window pane
Got a fresh new start
It's a brand new day
And I got lots of love to give away 


It don't matter if it's raining
Nothing can phase me
I make my own sunshine
And if you think you can break me
Baby you're crazy
I make my own sunshine 


Hey, let's make a rainbow
Look for the pot o' gold
I'll show you how to keep it nice and easy
Even if a cloud starts forming on my lovely day
There's nothing, no nothing, that could stand in my way 


It don't matter if it's raining
Nothing can phase me
I make my own sunshine
And if you think you can break me
Baby you're crazy
I make my own sunshine

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Conversations with the Contractor

This seems to be par for the course with the contractor. I know things come up, especially in old houses, but I think a little bit of communication might be lacking.
Me: I'd like to just keep the pantry cabinets instead of buying new.
Him 1: Sure. We can paint them.
Me: Sounds good. How do they do it? Take the doors off?
Him 1: Yes, and they'll probably spray to get into the nooks of the doors, so maybe it would be easier, then, to just paint the inside of the cabinets, too.
Me: Okay, whatever.
Later on, when the painter is here, and he's started spraying the trim around the cabinets (the doors are already off) this is what happens.
Him 2: Did you ask Chris about that?
Painter: Uh, no.
Him 2: I don't know if she wants that or not.
I get  phone call.
Me: Hello?
Him 1: I don't think we'll be able to paint the inside of the cabinets. It looks like they'll be too sticky.
Me: That's fine. Wasn't that the first plan?
Him 1: Yes.
Me: I'm good with it.
I go over to the painter.
Me: That's fine if you can't paint the inside. That was what I had first planned to do.
Painter: I started on one. I'll try to clean off as much as I can.
Me: Don't worry about it too much. It's the inside of the pantry. If I really need to, I'll put some contact paper at the back so you can't notice it.
Are you confused? I am, to be sure. I can't quite figure out why Him 2 stopped the painter, since he was following orders from Him 1, and I'm guessing that the painter spoke to Him 1, but I didn't get to hear the phone call. So why are we back to what I thought in the first place? No clue. As long as it looks nice, I'll take it.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Dear Agent, Part II

I tried so hard to go against the grain.

I read query letter after query letter and decided I couldn't, I just couldn't do what everyone else did. I didn't want to simply jump in and tell the agent about the book. That goes against who I am. I can't even pick up the phone and delve into what I want to say. I always have to ask how the other person is doing, how the kids are doing, what they've been up to, etc. Then, and only then can I say, here is what I want or need. How could I expect myself to write down: Dear Agent. This is what my book is about. Please represent me. Thank you for your time.

So I didn't.

And now, I'm rethinking the whole debacle. Because I have done more reading of successful query letters, and realize that the agents don't want to bother with a quick Hello, how are you? They have a bazillion query letters coming in and they don't have time for my chit-chat. Doggone it.

So back to the drawing board.


Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Kitchen Pictures IV

And, we've got a floor!

When this kitchen renovation first became an idea in our heads, people asked us, What are you going to put on the floor? You have ceramic tile, will you use that again? I didn't hesitate much. I knew I didn't like the tile and that I preferred the look of hardwood. The rest of the first floor, save the family room, bathroom, and back hallway (the three places getting redone) are wood. A few people looked at me like I was crazy, and because I was trying to be cost conscious, the contractor hadn't even put wood down as an option on the estimate. In the end, I made him change that estimate.

Again, it's only a picture, and not a good one at that, but I think if you stood in my not-nearly-done kitchen right now, you'd approve of the wood floor.



Because the 1/2 bathroom  is right off the kitchen, the floor is the same in that area. The wood looks great there, too.

For the back hallway, we had a decision to make. The hallway leads in from the garage. (This picture was taken while I was standing practically in the garage.) It gets a lot of wet traffic, and we didn't think it would be a good idea for wood to be back here. So we actually went with vinyl! Good, old-fashioned, lay it down in one piece vinyl. It's always dark back there so it didn't matter what we chose. I don't like how it came out in the picture below, but in real-life, it looks fine. I'll like it better when the new paint (a bright neutral) is on the walls.