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

Thursday, March 31, 2011

The Ultimate Blog Party

Ultimate Blog Party 2011

Welcome to Science Fiction Mommy!  I'm excited that it's time for another Ultimate Blog Party.  Last year I even won a prize!  Click here to see my post from when it arrived.

My name is Eileen Rhoadarmer, and I am a science fiction author and stay-at-home-mom.  My son is almost two-and-a-half, and I have a second baby due in June.  The second baby scares me a little, even though I'm excited.  I'm an only child, so I don't even have a child's perspective on navigating a family with multiple children.  Hubby is the oldest of three, but they have large age gaps between them so he's never experienced kids this close in age.  There are a lot of things I'm worried about, like sleep schedules and nursing.  My son took FOREVER to nurse every day, and I don't know what I'll do with him while nursing if the new baby wants to take as long.
My son and I.

I don't have any intention of homeschooling my children, but I do a lot of crafts with my son in order to give us stuff to do during the day.  He won't get to start preschool until he's nearly four (he has an October birthday) and kindergarten until he's nearly six, so I also feel like I'd be wasting a perfect window of opportunity if I didn't encourage the natural learning he's already doing.  I still intend to send him to school--preschool, if we can afford it, kindergarten if not.  (My mom teaches pre-K for the YMCA, and has informed me several times that he's going to be bored/have nothing new to learn in preschool, so I guess I sort of am homeschooling him.)  Anyway, if that sort of thing interests you, you can click on the kid crafts label to see some of the stuff we've done.  We started with Christmas and have been going somewhat steadily since.

Since last year, I have gone from a wannabe author to published--I sold two short stories in the last year; both to anthologies.  The first, Doomology:  The Dawning of Disasters, which holds my story "Night Terrors," is now available from Amazon and Barnes and Noble.  As you might guess, Doomology contains stories about disasters and apocalyptic events; both small scale and massive, man-made and natural, and everything in between.  Check out the links if you're interested in seeing the book.

The second anthology, A Glitch in the Continuum, which will hold my story "Pandora's Time," is forthcoming sometime later this year.  I'll be posting here (a lot!) when it's available.  (I thought about doing a giveaway of Doomology for the UBP but I wasn't sure how many parent bloggers would be interested in entering--if you'd like to win a scifi anthology, put that in your comment.  I'll think about it for next year based on what kind of responses I get.)

I do my writing during naptime and/or after everybody else goes to bed, and I finished the first draft of my first novel in January!  I'll work on editing it sometime later this year and then... we'll see how long things take.

If you're here for the party, please comment and share your links.  I can't wait to get to know some great new people!

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Back on the Critter

Well, I've finally done it.  I reset my counter to zero and finally started offering critiques on Critters again.  I did my first one yesterday--a short one, to ease back into it.

I have a handful of stories (many freshly written) that I'd like to get opinions on before the baby is born.  With only 11 weeks left (Yikes!!! Is that all???) I really only have time to get two stories critiqued at the normal pace.  I'm seriously considering trying to get a Most Productive Critter award (or two, or...) in order to give myself a boost to the head of the queue.  How would I get one, you might ask?  I'd have to do 10 critiques in the course of a week.  I'm not entirely sure if that's doable for me, but I think if I stick to shorter stories I *might* be able to.  I have yet to decide whether I'll be attempting it this week or next (Critters' weeks run Wed-Wed) but the experiment ought to begin soon.  Plus, the boost in number of critiques I've done will keep me active for a little while after baby's arrival, meaning I could let some critiques filter in while I'm in baby-chaos mode and simply not worry about them until life regains a schedule.  But I would like to get as many stories as possible out into the world before D-day because I'll probably be motivated to resubmit stories that come back to me during that early time, but I doubt I'll be putting together anything new--especially since I intend to give myself a maternity leave.

But anyway, I've taken the first step.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Big House Projects

Hubby and I (sometimes with the help of family) have been doing some serious improvements to our house lately.  This is partly because we took it off the market after nearly a year and decided that if we're staying here, we need to fix a few things.  It is also partly nesting, because we need better storage to rearrange everything to make room for the baby.

Therefore, we've done two big projects so far:  we built a linen closet in our basement bathroom and we installed a bunch of cabinets in half of our garage.

The linen closet took us from January 16 to March 15, all told.  Our house tragically lacked a linen closet and we've just been using space in the spare bedroom/my office's closet all this time.  However, my office is becoming a nursery, so that storage is going away.  Here are "before" and "after" shots of the bathroom.

As you can see in the "before" shot, there was a very narrow gap between the shower and the wall.  Our original plan was just to build some shelves to fit in that gap, but then we realized that factoring in for the thickness of the materials, any such shelves would only hold one rolled-up towel.  So we asked my dad for his advice.  The cabinet door
you can see in the "before" picture just opened up access to the water shutoff valve, but there was a lot of wasted space there.  So Dad said "why don't we just take out this wall and build a real closet?"  We looked at each other, a little shocked because we hadn't planned to do any major renovations, and then asked "are you volunteering?" 

Fortunately, Dad enjoys this kind of project, so we all set to work.  Many weekends of my parents visiting (Mom graciously kept our son out of our hair--or at least from hurting himself on the power tools) plus many evenings of hubby and I by ourselves, and we took out the existing wall...
...framed the new ones...
...drywalled, mudded, sanded...
...installed shelves, caulked...
...and painted.  Then we had an open closet for about a month before we figured out how we were going to do the doors.
We finally decided to create the look of a frame door by attaching trim to a piece of particle board.
The doors then came together over two days.
For good measure, we also added an over-the-toilet cabinet for even more storage.  Tada!  Basement bathroom has a "DONE" stamp!

Our garage took us from February 20 to March 13.  I didn't get a very good "before" shot--so this tight one will have to do.
We started by building a cabinet to hold extra kitchen gadgets (most of which have been in storage for a while.)  It was originally going to be a second pantry, but we couldn't decide on safe foods to keep in the garage so we moved the food to other cabinets and put all the gadgets here.
Then we got busy on the side wall.  First my dad came over to help us install an electrical outlet before we closed off access to the studs.  (Well, okay, technically we helped him, not the other way around.)
Then we insulated...
...and drywalled, figuring that we'd never be able to get behind our new cabinets to do that at a later time.  Many thanks to hubby's parents who helped us out with the drywalling.
Then I built a two-shelf thingy to hold our recycling bins, allowing us to stack them on top of each other and save space.
Next came another large cabinet to hold paint, automotive stuff, large yard tools, and other miscellaneous items we have stored in the garage.
One of the harder things about putting any cabinets in the garage, though, was getting them lofted over the foundation.  The garage's foundation forms a concrete lip above floor level that goes around the entire perimeter of the garage.  This makes it impossible for any item to sit flat on the garage floor and be flush against the wall at the same time.  So while
hubby built the bulk of the various cabinets, I was busy building risers for them to sit on--not the easiest thing when you consider that the garage floor slopes away from the house and the foundation I'm setting the back of the riser on is level.  I'm rather proud of my (limited) carpentry work on all of these.
After the big cabinet, we got busy on my garden center.  My garden stuff used to be housed on two open shelves, but over the years this got really messy.  Now I have two lower cabinets and three upper cabinets, plus a pegboard and a workbench area to keep everything organized.
A few other miscellaneous things hung on the wall, and half of our garage is complete.  Now, two weeks later, I still smile every time I go into the garage.  It makes me want to finish the other half of the garage, which is still 2x4s and siding.  However, the other half isn't a priority right now.  Getting the kiddo into a big boy bed so we can reuse the crib (which requires building his bed,) moving my office down into hubby's office in the basement, and getting the baby's room set up in my old office are all our immediate priorities.  I'm sure I will be posting about them as they happen.  But for now, we're proud of our work and wanted to share.

Friday, March 25, 2011

The Ultimate Blog Party is Coming

Ultimate Blog Party 2011

Last year, I discovered the Ultimate Blog Party hosted by 5 Minutes For Mom, which proved to be a great resource for networking with other parenting bloggers, so this year I plan to participate again. Click on the button to browse the site and see how to join up for yourself. Not only is it a good opportunity to network, but there are hundreds of prizes you can win by participating. Last year I even won one of the prizes! Click here to see my post from last year from when my tea arrived.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Early March Kiddie Crafts

I started making this post in advance and realized just how long it would be if I waited until the end of the month to post it, so I decided to do one for the first half of March, and I'll do a second for the end.  This is the current state of our craft wall.

We finished up the letter "W" by doing "W is for Walrus and Whiskers" by, well, giving a walrus whiskers.  My son really enjoyed it and asked for more, but I declined (figuring he'd have lost interest by the time I finished cutting, tying knots, and putting tape on more yarn whiskers.)  He does seem to enjoy lacing activities, so I'll have to bear that in mind when deciding on volume in the future.

Since Christmas, I've had a handful of ideas for "snow" activities and I wanted to do "S" and "snow" when there was real snow on the ground.  One of the activities was to make rice krispies treat snowmen, so I also wanted to wait until most of the Christmas and Valentine's Day goodies were consumed so as not to overload us on sweets.  March is typically our snowiest month, so I figured it was safe to wait.  On Sunday the 6th, the weather forecast called for 2-4 inches of snow Monday night and another 2-4 inches on Tuesday, so I decided the time was ripe.  On Monday, I introduced the letter "S" while flurries were falling outside the window.  However, the flurries never developed into anything and by that evening they'd removed most precipitation from the forecast, with a string of 50-60 degree days to follow.  Doesn't that just figure?

I decided to plow ahead anyway, so on Tuesday we made Rice Krispies Treat Snowmen.  And let me tell you, I now know that this is not a good toddler activity.  I'd do it a lot differently, were I to do it again.  Firstly, butter and marshmallows take a long time to melt on low heat, which meant my son lost interest quickly.  Secondly, when the
pot was on low, it didn't radiate much heat so my son didn't heed my repeated warnings that it was "hot" until he'd stretched his finger toward the bottom of the pot (he might even have hit the burner, I'm not sure) and gotten a small burn on his knuckle.  *sigh*  Thirdly, Rice Krispies aren't the easiest thing to stir, so after the owie was soothed he still lost
interest quickly.  Fourthly, my son doesn't have the fine motor skills to make balls yet, so he didn't do much there.  Fifthly, they didn't stick together in balls very well--even I had to press really hard.  (Were I to do it again, I think I'd add a cup fewer rice krispies so the marshmallow would hold it together a little better.)  Sixthly, while I'd heeded a
warning to coat our hands with butter or cooking spray before handling the treats, I didn't realize I'd need to reapply after every 2-4 balls--something else that would have slowed my son down had he still been participating.  Seventhly, I was almost out of powdered sugar and mixed wrong, so the frosting I made to stick the balls together/add the features was too runny for its purpose.  Alas.  If I do this again, I'll make the treats and balls myself before including a child as young as my son (28 months at the time,) make sure I have enough powdered sugar to thicken the frosting if necessary (and also make that in advance,) and just have him help me put the cooled balls together and decorate them.  Or I might do a similar idea I saw for the same treat, which is to make the rice krispies treats flat like normal and cut them out with circle-or-snowman-shaped cookie cutters once cool, and then decorate.  But the most important thing I learned is that cooking over a hot stove is too much for my son at the moment.

The next day we moved on to some non-snow "S" words:  sun and sheep.  I had him put pipe-cleaner-rays around a sun...
...and add cotton ball "wool" to a sheep.

We even tied a trip to the park (on one of our 60+ degree days--still no more snow) to the letter "S."  "S" is for "slide" and "swings," after all!  (There are a lot of kid-friendly "S" words.)

We've been doing a lot of home improvements since taking our house off the market; partly to organize, partly to improve, and partly to nest (or make room for the new baby.)  So we've been showing our son that not all crafts are indoor crafts.  He likes to help us, though his patience doesn't usually last too long.  Luckily, at least for the improvements
we've done to the garage, he's happy with pretending to drive my car after he loses interest.  These shots are of him "helping" us build cabinets and an electrical outlet for the garage.

We next did some St. Patrick's Day crafts.  First I had my son make a four-leaf clover out of green hearts.

And then I had him fill a paper pot with gold coins.  We then decorated both with glitter glue.

The next day I helped him make a leprechaun hat.  I was impressed that he kept it on his head for quite a while.  He was also enamoured of the stapler, which I used to secure the band in a circle.  He wanted to use it, but after a few tries I decided it wasn't safe, so we called a halt to that.

We also made a shamrock garland to replace the hearts we'd had up since before Valentine's Day.  Once again he REALLY liked the lacing and wanted more, but these were WAY too much work to cut out so I declared that we had enough.

The next day I think I overstepped his skill levels a bit.  We were piecing together a paper leprechaun with pre-cut pieces, but I thought he might be able to help create an orange fringe to make the hair and beard.  However, he has had very little practice with scissors so this was probably a bad idea.  I'd better let him just learn to cut better first, before
introducing the complicated concept of only cutting partway through the paper.  We finally got a little done when I got a bigger piece of paper, held the paper while encouraging him to go slowly, and then trimmed it to the right length after he had a semblance of a fringe.  I had to do most of it though, and ward off a tantrum.  (I was impressed that he attempted to use the scissors with just one hand, though.)

We took a break mid-leprechaun to make a rainbow mobile, but sadly this also went beyond his skill level.  I had an example rainbow to show him how to color it, but he still just scribbles wherever he wants--he doesn't stay within lines or anything.  I had to guide him to get a rainbow, just as I do if I'm helping him write something.  One at a time, these projects probably
would've been okay, but both on the same day was pretty frustrating for him.  He really likes the "hanging" rainbow finished product though.

I didn't manage to get him a St. Patrick's Day themed sensory bin like I'd hoped to, but a little leprechaun did hide some gold coins and beads inside the bin with pom poms.  He loved finding them and putting them all in one container.  He even wanted to count them, and held them up for me to name the number all the way up to 38!! before dumping the rest.  I don't
think he's ever had the patience to let me count anything that high before.  Gold is cool.

Wow, this post is still really long.  Perhaps I ought to post our crafts 3 times per month.

When I last posted about crafts, I enjoyed browsing some of the other kid craft ideas over at Tot School, so I've decided to continue to link up.  Click on the name if you'd like to see some other parent bloggers and their educational ideas for yourself.