Welcome to the blog of science fiction author Eileen Rhoadarmer--where science fiction and Mommyhood collide!

Friday, April 30, 2010

It Does Get Easier! ...and Ketchup

I went in for my son's 18 month checkup yesterday.  It was very quick, he only needed one shot (and he didn't cry!), and I had only two questions to ask the doctor.  I realized this was a stark contrast to his earlier visits, during which I would pull out a long list of questions and concerns (some of which could have me close to tears for one reason or another) and I would take copious notes of the answers.  The pediatrician wasn't my only attempt to find a Baby Owner's Manual.  Early on, I was religiously reading What to Expect:  The First Year, checking websites, reading my subscriptions to three separate parenting magazines, and posting questions on message boards.

Of course, this frenzy had to stop sooner or later.  I stopped reading the message boards when he was about 8 months old; I only got through about 10 months of the What to Expect book; and after my subscriptions expired, I only renewed one of the magazines.  I do still consult the internet whenever I feel I have a burning question or concern about child development, but I guess I no longer feel I need to consult experts on everything relating to my son.  I even feel a lot more confident when I have differences of opinion with said experts.  This just goes to show that, no matter now difficult certain stages of parenting can be, it DOES get easier.  I'm an experienced parent now!
This makes me wonder if baby #2 will be any easier--or will the child be that much different (or will I have forgotten everything) that it will be new all over again?  I'm an only child, myself, so I have no firsthand knowledge of what life's like with two kids in the house.  I guess we'll eventually find out.  (And no, I'm not pregnant.  But we do want to have a second child, sooner or later.)

I learned something else yesterday:  the power of Ketchup.  It's supposed to be the miracle sauce, but my son hadn't liked it the first few times I gave it to him.  Well, yesterday he decided that he did like it.  In fact, he liked it a bit too much.  I tried to give him a small dollop to dip his hamburger in, but he started using a piece of burger like a spoon (dip, lick, dip again.)  I then put a small dot on each remaining piece of burger and put the ketchup away--and that didn't stop him from pointing to that spot on his plate and squawking for more.  I guess that means it's time to finish up the current bottle so I can use the healthier, high-fructose-corn-syrup-free ketchup I just purchased.  I wonder how many other problem foods he'll now be willing to eat? 

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Holy Cow--I won something else!

So this evening I got online to do a little posting, and as I'm browsing through my reading list, I find a post congratulating me as a winner!  Wow!  Then I open my email (a little belatedly) and lo and behold...

This win comes from Littles Rule the Roost.  And to think I only found this blog because I won something else!

She's been doing travel posts for the month of April, and on one of them she reviewed a book entitled Tales from a Traveling Mum--and she was giving away a copy.  (Which I won.  I guess I didn't explicitly say that yet, though I would hope it was obvious.)  It sounds like a fun read, and should also have some practical advice for traveling with young ones, as we will be doing this summer.

I'm looking forward to receiving this!  Sending out a big Thank You to Littles Rule the Roost as well as the author of the book, Alice Griffin.

(Was that enough links for everybody?!)

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Making Progress

Well, at last I finished the time travel rewrite I referred to in this previous post.  My character made her decision, and it was actually not the one I expected her to make (funny how they do that sometimes.)  I also managed to get it from 11,400 words to just under 10,000!  10,000 was the threshold I was aiming for, as longer stories are harder to get published.  Not that 10,000 isn't still long, but it's a line that some markets draw.  (For anyone interested, the commonly-accepted definitions are:  Flash Fiction, up to 1,000 words; Short Story, up to 7,500 words; Novelette, 7,500 to 15,000 words; Novella, 15,000 to 40,000 words; Novel, 40,000 and above.)

I'll be adding it to the Critters' queue pretty soon here, although I can't have another one in the queue until my previous one gets critiqued, so it probably won't go out to readers until early June.  There is one way around the wait:  I could work to get Most Productive Critter status, which allows me to bump myself to the top of the queue.  To do that, I have to critique ten (or more) stories in one week.  I'm not sure whether I could commit the time for that; I suppose I'll see how many of my stories start to get backlogged, and perhaps devote a day (or three) to critting if I feel it's necessary.

The story still lacks a title, although I have one idea that could work:  Pandora's Time.  I'm not thrilled with it, although it seems like it could work to hook people's interest.  Any opinions?

Now on to something new.  For my next piece, I think I'll be doing something unusual:  starting with a title.  Typically, I figure out the title somewhere through the process of writing a piece, but I came up with this title a while ago and it's starting to grow on me.  I have a basic idea for a plot for it now, and I've been feeling really enthused about this idea lately, so I figure it's time to see where it takes me.  I've learned from experience that I'm most likely to write a story if I get to work on it shortly after getting the idea, because that's when I feel most inspired.

The title:  Smooches By Proxy

I'll let you know whether this reverse process of writing works when I find out!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Happy Earth Day and EPIC MOMMY FAIL

Happy Earth Day!  Did anyone celebrate or plant a tree?  I'd like to plant a tree for Earth Day, but we don't need any more trees.  Our yard was professionally landscaped years before we moved in, and we've got 24 trees--and all but 5 of them are aspens.  I'd say we have a grove, except that they're spread out along the perimeter of the yard, so not very grove-like.  (Except when the aspen system tries to come up in the lawn.)  Unfortunately, aspen thrive at a much higher elevation than we have, so although they do well during the spring and summer, we don't get a pretty firework display in the fall--the leaves just turn brown (maybe a little yellow) and fall off.  Some of them also have a weird condition where the bark peels back and forms something that looks like a sore.  We've never figured out what that is, and since we're hoping to leave, we probably never will.

So I didn't spend Earth Day planting a tree.  It's been an interesting combination of dark, gloomy clouds (with rain) and patches of sunshine, so I decided to "celebrate" during one of the periods of sun by fixing the geyser our sprinkler system created, and dig up a few dandelions with my fancy new weeder.

Awesome tool, you can get right under the root and the curved part gives you great leverage to pull it up, and very little dirt comes too.  Our next-door-neighbor introduced me to this tool just a few days ago.  Kmart didn't have them, but we found one at Sears.

I led my son into the backyard laden with my new tool and some Mighty Putty to fix the sprinkler hole.  My son decided to explore the deck a little and I went down to the big hole the geyser had blown in our dirt.  I was reaching into the hole, trying to get the sprinkler pipe clean, when I looked back and saw that my son was starting to come down the steps off the deck.  Now, there's only a railing on one side of the steps--something we've recognized as a hazard but not done anything about.  It's not a big staircase--only seven steps--and he's handled it fine before, but today he was coming down close to the unrailed side.  I called out to be careful, but even as I was leaping to my feet he slipped off the edge of the stairs.  He was going feet first and actually managed to land on his feet, but only for a brief moment.  You see, right next to the stairs from the deck is a small fountain/pond.  He had very little space to get his footing, so his momentum carried him in, backwards, with a splash.
It hasn't looked this nice in years.  It loses so much water while running, and it's annoying to keep the plants out of it, that we don't often set it up to run.  We've been talking about the fact that it's a hazard since before I ever got pregnant, and debating the merits of making some sort of cover for it--but that's one more thing that just hasn't gotten done.

I was already running to him as I saw this happen, using words I typically try not to utter in his presence.  His face was above water, and he was crying.  I hauled the soggy boy out of the pond and carried him straight to the bathtub.  (Ironically, on our way out the door I'd been thinking of how much rain we'd gotten and how he would probably get soaked from the grass.)  I stripped us both down, and it was bathtime.  Two spur-of-the-moment baths in one week!  There really was no option not to bathe him at that point--the fountain was not full because we'd filled and groomed it, it was full from a season's worth of snowmelt (plus a little rain) and the smell reminded me forcibly of the zoo.

I let him play with his bath crayons for a long time and even gave him a written apology on the side of the tub:  "I love you.  I'm sorry I didn't supervise properly.  I'm sorry you fell."  He giggled, smiled, and splashed.  I can only hope he'll be this quick to forgive later in life.

After his bath, we went back outside.  I was both relieved and chagrined that he showed no fear of the stairs after his fall.  We'd lost the sun, but I still managed to get the pipe epoxied and most of the dandelions pulled before it started sprinkling on us.  My son climbed in my lap and pointed at the sky when he heard thunder.

This Earth Day, I learned the importance of supervision in protecting my most important thing on Earth.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Oh. My. God.

I truly had no grasp of the extent that toddler messes could encompass until yesterday.

The day started well enough--my husband took the day off from work and we made a trip up to Lookout Mountain.

We hiked a bit (our son did really well, and only wanted to be carried at the end) and had a picnic at the overlook by Buffalo Bill's gravesite.

We were rather late for naptime by the time we left, and hubby had quite a job keeping our son awake during the ride back (if he sleeps in the car, he won't transition well to the crib.)  Despite hubby's best efforts, our son caught a few z's on the way back and perked up as we tried to put him down for his nap.  As a result, he cried for a good long time before finally settling down for sleep.

When he woke up from his nap, he woke up screaming.  I went into his room to find out why he sounded so upset, and a monstrous sight met my eyes.  Apparently he'd pooped earlier, and managed to pull off is sleepsack and reach into the diaper to get ahold of it.  It must've been quite an exploratory journey, given that he's never been allowed to play with his poop before.  He put a big smear of it on the mattress, bits of it on most of the rails of his crib, and a smaller smear on the wall.  His bear and one of his bunnies looked (and smelled) okay, but the second bunny had a few spots.  Of course, he'd also managed to get it all over himself--hands, arms, feet, legs, torso... yes, his face too.  In fact, there was a bit beside his mouth, making me wonder if he'd decided to sample it.  Son, that's not fudge.  I can only hope he learned not to repeat that particular aberration.  Then, after this incredible exploration, he somehow managed to sleep.

We plopped him straight into the tub, removed his clothes in there, and hosed him off first.  Then I had hubby occupy him in the sink while I cleaned out the tub--and cleaned off the bath toys.  (Silly Mommy, it would've been SO much easier to remove the toys BEFORE putting the poo-covered child into the bathwater!  Why did you make more work for yourself?)  Then I gave him a proper bath while hubby removed the sheets and wiped off the crib.

After his bath, we wiped the crib down again, this time using 409.  Then I wiped them down with lemon juice--but some of the slats still smell upon close inspection.  I'm not quite sure what to do about that.  I just never imagined he would spread it around so much.  I mean, it smells!  Why would ANYBODY want to play with it?  Ick!  Toilet training, despite the impending move, is looking more and more appealing--though I STILL don't want to deal with regression during upcoming vacations or after we move, or with trying to sell a house that smells like a latrine.

I'm sure other parents probably have similar mess stories.  If you care to share, I'll be here to sympathize!

Monday, April 19, 2010

The Ultimate Blog Party is over

Am I behind the times or what?  Unfortunately, I'm changing over to a new laptop (well, a hand-me-down, but it's newer than my last) and things are taking a while.  The old one often moves as slowly as if it were dial-up (if those comcast turtles came to my house, they'd be in heaven) and the new one still needs a bunch of updates--for some reason, the blogger compose software is not yet compatible with it--so I'm switching back and forth between the two.  If the wireless part of my modem worked, I could have both online at the same time, but... well, I hate dealing with customer service when I have a feeling they'd just tell me it's time to buy a new modem.

At any rate, the Ultimate Blog party was a great way to do some networking.  I'm quite crunched for time, so I didn't browse nearly as many as I'd like, but the links are still there, so I'll probably keep going back!  And guess what?  I WON SOMETHING!!!

How about that?  I NEVER win things, but this time I did.  I won some tea and a tea ball from Littles Rule the Roost.  How awesome is that?  I'll post pics of me drinking my yummy new tea after my spectacular prize arrives.  I'll get to be like Picard:  Tea, Earl Grey, hot.

Perhaps it's time for me to go out and buy a lottery ticket though, because today I received a letter in the mail from the Lego Outlet store saying that my guess was closest (they had a giant Spongebob made of legos and were having a contest to see who could guess how many legos he took to build) and I won a $20 gift card to Lego!  These things are supposed to come in threes, right?  My husband said maybe the third would be a writing contest.  That'd be almost as good as a lottery win--I've got a story at the Writers of the Future contest now.

There were some great blogs at the UBP (and many I couldn't figure out how to follow since they weren't blogspot blogs, and I haven't joined networked blogs or anything yet) but below are a few that I found and enjoyed.  I mostly looked at ones that involved books/reading, and also the blogs of people who came to visit me.  Lastly, I checked out the ones whose titles grabbed me.

Writing to Distraction - a fun one by a writer of historical fiction
Happy Birthday Author - a daddy blogger who helps his children navigate the library by choosing books by authors on their birthdays
Bookie Woogie - another daddy blogger who discusses books with his kids and shares their book-related artwork

I've also only barely checked out Littles Rule the Roost, but it seems like a fun one.

Well, this post has taken me far too long to create, and I need to write for at least 15 minutes before bed or I won't feel like I've done anything with that, so I'm signing off.  Nice to "meet" everybody from the party!  I hope you'll keep coming back, and I look forward to getting to know you all better!

Saturday, April 17, 2010

The Evolution of Adoration

I realized something recently, while browsing through old pictures of my son--and that is that love and adoration evolve.

There are a handful of pictures of my son from his early months that are absolutely adorable. They tugged at my heartstrings, and they were my favorites. I'm realizing that although they are still adorable, they don't tug at my heartstrings in the same way--new pictures take over that role, and the old ones aren't quite as attractive as they once were. It made me realize that my heart has been hardwired to this kid, and I find him most adorable at this moment in his life. (I wonder how long that will go on for...will I still find him the most adorable thing on earth when he wears a scowl and starts growing facial hair? I guess we'll find out!)

This makes sense from a survival standpoint--it's a way to make sure we take care of our offspring. But my son is just so darn cute, it's hard to imagine that anyone wouldn't find him adorable, or that any forces could be swaying my image of him!

My current favorite

Some of my old favorites

Thursday, April 15, 2010

It's Happening Again - I'm Procrastinating

I finished the mystery story! Finally! Actually, I finished it on the 2nd, and managed to rewrite a science fiction story by the 6th--which I proceeded to post as my first story to Critters (nobody's critiqued it yet, it takes 3-4 weeks for each story to move to the top of the queue, so it's set to go out on May 5.) Since that time, I've been working on rewriting a time travel story (that I was ashamed to realize I wrote over two years ago, and haven't touched since.)

Among other things, I discovered that the ending was very mean. I do that a lot according to my husband--I'm often not nice to my characters. I'll have to hope that I'm never forced to meet them through some Jasper Ffordeian twist--they might gang up on me.

At any rate, not only was the ending mean, it also was highly improbable, so I decided it could use some work. And that's when I got stuck again. I'm just not sure how it's going to end. Basically, the protagonist needs to make a decision, and she's not being very forthcoming about it. So I procrastinate. I've rewritten the part leading up to her decision twice (and I may reorganize it again) but I, or she, have not made up our minds. At least this time, I've only taken one day off--although my two-week hiatus the last time I got stuck was partly due to the distractions of packing up a house, though it was easy to let myself get distracted when I was also stuck. I suppose I ought to just write this one both ways and see which works better.

This one also still needs a title. It's about time travel and screwing up the timeline, but told from a (I hope) new perspective. Any ideas?

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Victory? Or just another mess?

My son hates having his diaper changed.  He fusses and struggles a lot, and that's when he's in a good mood.  I'm to the point where I would potty train him this week, if we weren't trying to sell the house.  It just doesn't seem like a good idea while selling, since my intended tactic is to keep him wearing nothing but thin underwear for a week--and I don't think those particular odors would encourage others to buy my house.  I also don't want to deal with regression after we uproot my son, so I'll be exercising patience and waiting a bit longer.  (What I'll do if this process drags on for months is still undetermined.)

However, I have been casually introducing the potty seat by placing my son on it after removing (and cleaning, if necessary) his dirty diaper, before putting on a fresh one.  I've been doing this for months now, and the idea was for him to go "accidentally" a few times in hopes that he might have an "aha!" moment.  After all, he peed on the wall regularly enough during diaper changes back when we still used the changing table, so I figured we ought to catch him a few times.

Well, today marks only the second time that he's peed between diapers since I started doing this (darn kids never do what you want them to, do they?) and you'll note I didn't say it's the second time he peed in his toilet.  He's done that once, but not today.  After setting him on this toilet today, I left the bathroom to close his drapes and get his room ready for his nap, and I can't for the life of me figure out how he was sitting or where he was aimed when he peed.  There seems to have been no pattern to where the mess went--only a drop actually went into his toilet--and the rest seems to be all over, but not in a recognizable spray pattern.  Some was under the seat where his butt should've been, some dribbled down the front, and a lot was under the toilet entirely.  It also managed to get into the bathroom rug, which is now taking its upteenth trip through the washing machine.  (I don't think I ever laundered a bath mat before having my son--vacuumed, sure, shaken out or beaten, quite frequently, but WASHED?  Nope, that's a kid thing, for me at least.)  And, of course, this happened about 2 1/2 hours before somebody's supposed to come view our house.  His timing is impeccable.  At least we have three bathrooms, so I stole the rug from the (less important) downstairs bathroom, and will let the rug dry out on the deck rather than over the edge of the tub.

So should I be happy that he, at least, peed sort of in on the toilet, and see this as progress?  Or just sigh and deal with another toddler mess?

Sunday, April 11, 2010

I've Finally Joined Critters

Yes, I've been wanting to do this for a long time, but fearing the time committment--but I've decided to take the plunge and JOIN CRITTERS!

What is Critters?  Well, I'm glad you asked!

Critters is an online writers' workshop for writers of science fiction, fantasy, and horror.  They have hundreds (or perhaps thousands) or members, and they send out about 30 manuscripts each week (on a schedule of Wednesday to Wednesday.)  You're supposed to aim for doing one critique each week, and you can only have your own work critiqued if you have a 75% participation ratio (three critiques in four weeks.)

I've been doing a pretty good job of budgeting my time lately, and I've developed a bit of a backlog of stories I want critiques/opinions on--and I know that I ought to get a wider audience than just my husband and parents (who are themselves busy.)  So I decided it was time.  I figure I ought to be able to make the time to read and critique a short story each week, and this will be one more motivation to keep myself in the game.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Ultimate Blog Party

Ultimate Blog Party 2010

To those visiting for the Ultimate Blog Party, Welcome to Science Fiction Mommy!  To those who read regularly, Welcome back!  The Ultimate Blog Party is something I just discovered via my friend Sela, and just in time! It's a networking party for parenting bloggers, and a chance to win lots of prizes. Since one of my April goals is to network, this is perfect!

My name is Eileen, and I am a stay-at-home-mom to my wonderful son, who is almost 18 months old. I am also an aspiring writer of science fiction, so I imagine you can guess what I spend the majority of naptime doing! I try to balance parenting, writing, and all of the little things life requires of me, and I share my successes and failures here.

I started blogging in April of 2008 with a private blog (which I do not link to) to share my pregnancy and baby pictures with my family and close friends.  I started this public blog in February of this year for several reasons:  to keep myself motivated to stay in the writing game (when I have to tell people I didn't write, it becomes more embarrasing not to be creative,) to have a website where I can promote myself as a writer (all set and read to go once I eventually get some published credits!) and to network with others.

Life is wonderfully chaotic right now, because in addition to the usual entropy of life with a toddler, we are trying to sell our house--a process that our son is not fond of.  We'll be remaining in Colorado, just moving a littler farther south.

My son and I

If you're stopping by from the party, please comment and share your links!  I look forward to getting to know you!

Here are the prizes I would like to win, if I win anything, from the Ultimate Blog Party:

     My top picks:
          US 8:  Buds to Bloom Photo Tile Necklace from Lisa Laverty at Elemental Memories
          US 63:  Razor Rip Rider 360 from Busy Mommy Media
          US 101:  Human Touch Foot and Calf Massager from Still Blonde After All These Years
          US 83:  Disney Mickey 5-in-1 Tasty Baker by Pop Art from Pop Art Toaster
          US 72:  Your Shape for Nintendo Wii from Kristie's List

     Or any of these, in order of preference:
          US 39, USC 60, USC 23, US 19, US 57, US 47, US 99, USC 62, USC 38, US 43, US 9, US 108, USC 42, US 18, USC 14, USC 43, USC 57, US 6, US 77, US 76

     Lastly, any childrens book or gift certificates

Friday, April 9, 2010

Alas, why do children take so long?

I have determined that my son and I will no longer spontaneously visit my husband for lunch--at least, not until after we sell our house.

If I plan ahead, I could make lunch for my son and I the night before, and then getting out the door would be as simple as cleaning up the kitchen after breakfast (not all that simple, but less complicated than trying to make lunch, too.)  The biggest problem here is the "cleaning up the kitchen" part--which I cannot put off these days.  If we weren't trying to sell the house and I wanted to get out the door for any reason, I could simply put off cleaning up until naptime (especially if my son is acting clingy.)  But alas, since I never know when someone might call and want to view our house, I have to keep it in nice condition at all times.  (So far, no one has called and come over quickly while we've been out, but our old friend Murphy will likely see to it that the day I choose not to clean up will be the day that happens.)

We actually had a place to go before my husband's work today, and thankfully his schedule is flexible enough that we were able to arrive later:  we went to a park near a house we're considering buying.  Whoa, whoa, wait a minute!  We haven't sold our house yet, how can we be looking at one seriously enough to check out the local parks?  Well... this particular house is the one that has spoken to us most, so far.  Granted, we can't buy until we sell (please, please sell soon!) but we're trying to keep track of the market a bit, so once we DO sell, we'll be ready (or close to ready) to move on a purchase.  The story behind this particular house is quite complicated, so I won't go into it here, but suffice to say that it's in an area and school district we like, and my husband's commute would be right around 10 minutes (much better than the ~30 it is now!)  My impression of the park was excellent--no graffiti, it had lots of good equipment--and there were several parents with small children playing today, so I was able to ask them how they liked the area.  I got several emphatic replies of "we love it," so that's a good sign.  Now we just need to sell!

(C'mon, SELL!)

Thursday, April 1, 2010

March Stat Check

During the month of March, I wrote on 13 of the days--and all but two of them were since the 19th
I polished up a very short science fiction story, and spent the rest of the month working on a rewrite of a mystery story.
I sent 5 submissions
I received 3 rejections--and they all came clustered at the beginning of the month
I have 8 stories now in slush pile circulation
I took between 10 and 19 days to resubmit a story after a rejection
I made 9 blog posts
Between writing and this blog, there were 14 days in which I did nothing

The only goal from March that I met was getting another story out into circulation.  Unfortunately, I let the house take over my time and my creative energy.  In fact, I'm still pretty sleep deprived, although that's partly due to the fact that I am writing again.  I've managed to do so every day since the 23rd.  Since naptime has been used to take care of  other things--like cleaning, real estate stuff, baking, and dealing with the week-long saga to fix the water valve in the new (used) fridge--my creative time has been after my son has gone to bed.  In fact, I've modified my sleep-deprivation routine to involve staying up way too late writing (rather than packing or reading.)

Hopefully, in April I ought to be able to write nearly every day, get stories out to new markets within a week of rejections, and get some blog networking done.  (Ha, I say that now.  Watch, we'll actually sell the house and then I'll have even less time.  But hey, that'd be a fantastic dilemma, I think.)  My blog goal for number of posts for March was actually a little high.  I'd been thinking every 2-3 days, which would be 10-15 posts, not 14-15...so 9 isn't bad, even though they came in clumps.  I'm hoping for a slighly more calm April and creatively productive.