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

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Happy Turkey Day!

I'm thankful for many things.  Family.  Loving families on both sides who get along so well, we can combine family gatherings.  Family who is always here to support us, and who wraps us in their love.  Wonderful, beautiful kiddos who share their joy of discovery and learning with us every day.  And who are so darn cute!  Friends.  Old friends.  New friends.  Especially new friends who show all signs of being ones who will stick around forever.  All the things we have, even the stuff we don't need, because we've been fortunate enough to be able to accumulate it.  Health, even with its little hiccups.  School, and being able to watch my child grow and blossom even as he moves a little farther from us.  The fact that, even in financial hardship, we still can maintain our house, keep it comfortable, feed ourselves healthy foods, and enjoy life.  The creative desire to write, and the dedication to carve out time for it.  The encouraging rejections, even in the absence of acceptances.  The chance to start stretching my wings into a whole new territory, even though it terrifies me.  Romantic getaways.  Food, fun, happiness, love.  Life.

I hope, on this Thanksgiving Day, each of my readers has the chance to eat good food, spend the day with someone (or several someones) they love, and reflect on all their blessings.

Happy Turkey Day!

Monday, November 19, 2012

Two Solid Years

I failed to post this the day it happened due to my extended blogging absence, but October 19th marked two solid years of writing or editing every day.  (Minus a maternity leave, of course, so I actually started in July 2010.)

That's quite the milestone for me.  Before I set this goal for myself and held myself accountable, I had always wanted to write every day, and I would regularly get started, but after a few weeks I would lose my enthusiasm and stop.  The next thing I knew, it had been months since I had written.  That silly little ticker in the corner of my blog really helps me, as I don't want to see it go back down, and it forces me to find SOMETHING to write, even if I've finished a project.

I'm proud of the dedication I have managed to put into my writing these past two years.  It gives me confidence that I'll be able to persevere until something comes of it.

Now if only I could maintain a better motivation when it comes to submissions......

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Few non-preschool crafts

My crafts with Zaxxon have slowed w-a-a-y down lately, because we don't have as much time and he's getting some in school.  He's not coming home with as much as I would have expected, though.  His school is very free-form, allowing the kids to dictate what they want to do with much of their day.  Whenever I break out a craft at home, Zaxxon usually gets excited, but his enjoyment of that hasn't been able to compete with all of the cool toys the school has.  So he makes things sometimes, and makes a lot of his own creations like "books" (a few papers taped together,) flags (a small strip of paper on a stick) and other odds and ends (today he brought home a partially formed paper box.)  He also sometimes paints or does a special project they've set up, but probably less than half of the time.  He's thriving at school, though, and is already good at a lot of the skills he needs at this age.  So I bring out crafts when I can fit them into our schedule, because it's still fun to do at home.

Making another map from where Mickey lives, this time of Animal Kingdom
Hubby helped out.  He really wanted the background to match the park map

Here it is:  Zaxxon's path through Animal Kingdom

He made a birthday card for his Dada
I asked him to trace the word "Dada," but he wanted to circle the letters instead

This was the first time we used watercolors.  We had an extra set, because it was supposed to go to the first preschool for a school supply, but wasn't needed at the second place

He brought a pinecone and some sticks home from the preschool playground one day, saying he was going to make it into a man.  I racked my brain, raided the backyard, and helped him make pineconeman


He didn't use all the puffballs and eyeballs, so he wanted to just glue them on paper.  Mostly, he wound up drawing with the glue.  Yeah, not too fond of that method of crafting, but he had fun while it lasted

And that's really all we did from August through October.  We've done one Thanksgiving craft so far and I hope to make a few more before the day, but we'll see

Tot School

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Sometimes it's best to let things go

I suppose that's a rather ominous title for a post after more than a month of absence from blogdom, however, I'm not referring to the blog.  In my absence I've continued to write (or rather, edit my novel) daily, sometimes a lot and sometimes a little.

For the last week and a half, it's been on the "little" side.  I've been working on a chapter that just hasn't been working.  As I set to correct the little details and bring it into line with some changes I made earlier in the book, I just haven't been motivated.  I've wasted time.  I've stalled.  I've finally forced myself to focus, gotten through a small passage, and declared my obligation "done," though in the weakest sense of the word.  Today, however, as I stared at the screen with all signs pointing toward another day of editing doldrums, I suddenly realized that if this chapter has been boring me so much (the first moment I realized it even was boring me), then it probably ought to just be cut.  I could start the chapter later and add a few paragraphs of summary, and instead of dragging me (and very likely, my readers) down, it would arise stronger, tighter, and as a better read.  Hooray!

Except that now I feel like I've wasted the last week and a half.  All that time spent arduously ironing out prose that isn't even going to make it.  My husband tells me they weren't wasted, that I needed that time with the work stewing in my mind before the solution could come to me.  Wise words.  Slightly tempers the disappointment.

Anyway, after restarting the chapter, cutting a little here, pasting a little there, and writing brief summaries, I turned 900 words into 200.  And regained my enthusiasm to keep going.  So it was the right thing to do, but boy, it can be hard to throw out that much work.  Especially recent work.  Such is the work we do.

Now to see if anybody's still reading!

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Prepping for Preschool

So if you read this earlier September post, you know that our preschool situation blew up in our faces.  Long story short, the place we selected ultimately was not able to handle Zaxxon's food allergy needs because the program itself was not licensed or certified--even though they'd promised me months earlier that the could handle everything.  We'd thought that they would be able to get things sorted out, but they're not going to be able to do that until they get licensed, which could take months or a year.  Hubby and I were extremely pissed off about all this, but we pulled together, looked at other programs, and thanks to the flux of children that usually occurs at the beginning of the school year, we were able to find Zaxxon another position and he started this week.  (The new school IS properly licensed and certified, by the way.  Not making that mistake twice.)

The diaper really hit the fan regarding preschool back on September 10th, which was the day before Zaxxon was supposed to start school.  If you're at all familiar with this age group, you know that you can't just spring a big change on a little kid and expect them to be okay with it.  Zaxxon knew he was about to start preschool--I wasn't going to just drop him off on the first day, say "you're going to stay here for the morning, I'll see you in a few hours," and then leave.  That would be absurd.  Kids need help with transitions.  To that end, we did this craft to help him count down to the big event.

The countdown chain we made to prepare for our trip to Disney worked really well, so Zaxxon and I made another one for school.  The idea is we were making a visual calendar.  Zaxxon would tear off a link of the chain every day, and he could see the chain getting shorter, telling him how much time was left before school started.

Zaxxon is getting exceptionally talented at crafts.  He did a LOT of this one by himself.  He cut about two-thirds of the links by himself before he got tired of using the scissors

He even used my scissors for some of them--and did it so fast that he made me nervous, but he performed fine

He decorated a school bus to hang at the top of the chain.  He won't be riding a bus this year, but it's still a major symbol.

Lastly, we glued the chain together.  Zaxxon did not want to use a glue stick this time, but he tends to go overboard on white glue and I don't like letting him use it.  I found a good compromise online--I put white glue in a shot glass and gave him some q-tips.  He dipped the q-tips in the glue and used that to apply--and it kept the mess much more contained.  We'll definitely be using this tactic again!  He probably made about half of the chain by himself before he wanted me to take over.

I forgot to take a picture of this until the chain was nearly gone (we started almost a month before school was supposed to start.)

After all this, I was very unhappy about the prospect of telling my child that, after all his prep, he wasn't going to school after all.  Hubby and I eventually ended up babysitting the preschool for a week.  We took turns sitting in the hall outside the preschool room with Zaxxon's medication handy just in case so Zaxxon could go to school.  It wasn't a long-term solution, and as such only lasted that week before we learned that they wouldn't be able to get it together, but at least Zaxxon wasn't deprived of his carefully-planned first day.

The following week he simply didn't attend (and he was sick for half the week anyway) and by week three we had found our new program, so things worked out in the end.  He took to the transition to the new place better than I had expected.  We simply told him the old place didn't have a safe place to keep his allergy medicine, so we had to find a school that did have a safe place.  He wanted to see that safe place (and we showed him where they keep it) and he hasn't been at all concerned about the change otherwise.

Zaxxon's been doing really great at the new place, and we're happy with where we ended up.  It's one more day per week than we'd planned on (three instead of two) but he likes going there.  They have lots of TOYS for him to play with.  In fact, it's less structured than the other place--he's allowed to do whichever activity he wants and comes and goes as he pleases for a good portion of the day, whereas the other place told him "you need to be at this activity center now."  While he often needs direction, he'll probably flourish better when he gets to call more of the shots.  He acted up a bit more at home this week, but that's to be expected with a big transition.
Through all of this, I didn't even really get the chance to feel nostalgic about my baby starting school--I've been too preoccupied and distracted.  Hubby felt it a bit though.  On the first day at Zaxxon's old school, Hubby kept saying "He's not old enough for this, is he?"  And this is a big transition.  He's moving away from us.  But he's having a lot of fun doing it!
From his real first day of school
Tot School

Friday, September 14, 2012

I made it!

I got my pitch in on time, and I am in the GUTGAA Pitch Contest!

Deana Barnhart


Next week, my query will appear on either Deana Barnhart's blog or one of four others(Robin Weeks, Falling for Fiction, Emily R. King, or Jaye Robin Brown), along with 39 other queries (presumably of similar genres.)  Anonymous judges will pick their favorites, using the comments (I believe) to cast votes.  The top ten from each blog--so 50 pitches total--will be advanced to the Agent Round.  The pitches appear on Monday, and finalists are announced on Friday.

If I make it that far, my query will appear again, this time definitely on Deana Barnhart, and a group of agents will judge the queries.  There's no narrowing down, selecting of "winners," or actual judging.  The big prize is the possibility that an agent reading my query, if it makes it to finalist, could request to read the manuscript and potentially decide to represent me.  Wouldn't that be AWESOME??!!!!!

Stay tuned next Monday, when I will direct you to the blog that has my pitch.  I probably ought not to identify mine, as this is supposed to be anonymous, but there can't be harm in pointing you to the right blog, can there?  I don't know whether the judges will be at all swayed by general comments--they're supposed to pick their own favorites, after all.

My persistence paid off!  I missed the first window but thankfully there were two, and I spent some time trying to figure out exactly when it would open--basically whether my clock matched the destination one.  I'm glad to get a bit of good news, as the preschool saga (mentioned in my previous post) took a turn for the worse today, and stress is high.  But maybe I can make a sale soon.  Wouldn't that be nice?

How about you?  If you entered, did you make it?  Good luck to everyone!


Chaos.  That would be an accurate descriptor for my life right now.  Zaxxon started preschool this week, only things aren't going as planned.  Just over a month ago, I found out that the program we had chosen wasn't licensed, and also wasn't certified to administer emergency medication--which is a big deal since Zaxxon has food allergies.  I'd been told months previously (February, to be specific) that they could easily accommodate food allergies, that they'd done it before, that the director had food allergies herself, etc, etc.  It never occurred to me to ask whether they were actually certified to do it--and therefore legally allowed to (we've got some dumb laws in this country--oops, you're dying but I'm not legally allowed to help you because you might sue me and say I was assaulting you, even though I saved your life.  Sorry.)

This all came to light because the director of the preschool program took another job, so somebody else got shunted into the position temporarily.  The new guy realized things weren't being done according to state law, and was trying to align everything.

Okay, fine (after I calmed down from my mommy-sized tantrum.)  So could they get certified?  I got the impression that he'd been hoping I would just go away and stop making an abstract issue come to life in front of him.  But since I didn't, he agreed, after talking to his boss, that they'd get certified for emergency medication.  They assured me that they'd have it covered by the first day of school.

Good.  I took them at their word, and proceeded to help Zaxxon get prepared, on all levels, to start going somewhere else a few days per week.

Fast forward to this Monday, September 10th, the day before preschool was supposed to start (yes, for some reason our program started really late.)  I get a phone call from the interim director saying that the teachers had taken the medication class and passed it, but that there was a nurse inspection element of getting their program certified which they hadn't been able to get done because their entire program wasn't licensed, and the state wasn't going to do that for an unlicensed program--so they couldn't accept my child at preschool the next day.

Excuse me, what?

Cue mommy-sized tantrum that completely dwarfs the previous one. Probably dwarfs anything I've done before.  I am not a confrontational person.  I tend to withdraw into a shell when debates and arguments are going on, but I told this guy exactly how upset it made me to have him call THE DAY BEFORE school starts, after all other programs are already underway, and tell me that I can't bring my kid in.  Was he saying Zaxxon couldn't come at all, or that they'd get it taken care of eventually?  He hoped they'd get it taken care of, but he was having difficulty getting ahold of the right people with the state to find out exactly where they stand and how they can proceed.  When would he know something?  He said he'd call me the next day, but that Zaxxon couldn't start.

The colossal inappropriateness of that timing still galls me.

Hours later, after tears, talks, commiseration, and much emotional turmoil (and all without even telling Zaxxon that school was cancelled yet) Hubby had an idea:  would they let Zaxxon come to class if one of us stayed on the premises?  I got ahold of the director the next morning, with less than an hour to go, and he agreed that staying was a good solution for the time being.

So Zaxxon still got to go to his first day, and his first week.  In fact, he never knew why Mama was so upset.  Nor did he know that I (and the second time, Hubby) stayed at his school, because I didn't want him to think that there was anything to be scared of at school.

But now things are in perpetual limbo.  The director is obviously frustrated with trying to get this sorted out--he's not getting calls back from key people and is warning us that things probably won't happen at the speed anybody wants.  And speed is my biggest concern right now, now that they're cooperating.  This is not a long-term solution--we don't want to spend three hours a day, twice a week, puttering around outside Zaxxon's classroom, overhearing the preschool activities while writing or doing other projects.  Not for any real length of time.

I like the teacher, I like what I've overheard of the program, but the way it's being run is not helping us.  I've begun a little preliminary looking at other programs in the area--all of which have started, but which sometimes end up with vacancies during the normal flux at the beginning of the year.  One program, which comes highly recommended from several friends, has a lot of quirks about its own scheduling--although their licensing and certification is 100% in order.  I'm reminded of the phrase "beggars can't be choosers," but this will also be a big part of our year, and I want it to fit with our life.

I never thought I'd have to be the parent to fight for my child's rights and safety at school.  I thought that was done already, and that I'd covered my bases months ago by selecting a preschool that had the right policies in place.  Silly me.  Naive me, really.  I didn't know specifically what I should be asking for.  I guess as parents, we walk the path we have to walk when it's necessary.

In addition to all of this, regular life goes on, and if I want to participate in the GUTGAA pitch contest, I've got less than 12 hours to polish my pitch.  And by polish, I mean write the dang thing.  It's halfway written in my head, but for some reason I've been dragging my heels on this pitch for years.  That's part of why I joined GUTGAA, to force myself to pick up those feet.  And now I'll have to deprive myself of sleep to do it.  Ah, life.  (You'll notice I'm blogging instead of pitching.)  Wish me luck.
See?  Would you want to disappoint this child on his first day of school?  He'd been counting down to it for a month!

Thursday, September 6, 2012


So I was lurking in the blogosphere this week and encountered several writer friends participating in GUTGAA.  GUTGAA is "Gearing Up to Get an Agent," a blog hop and pitch contest with the chance of landing, or at least getting read by, one or more agents.  First I thought "sounds like fun, it's too bad my novel is nowhere near ready."  And then I remembered that I have a completed middle grade Christmas book and pitching it just keeps getting pushed behind other projects.  It's the perfect match:  even if I get no interest, this will at least push me to get everything ready so I can start querying on my own!
Deana Barnhart

The blog hosting GUTGAA is Deana Barnhart, and you can sign up here if you'd like.
The first event is a Meet and Greet, so here are my answers:

-Where do you write?
At my desk in the basement office

-Quick. Go to your writing space, sit down and look to your left. What is the first thing you see?
A Silhouette Cameo paper cutting machine I purchased months ago but still haven't used, which hasn't managed to muscle its way into a more contained niche of my desk yet, because a lot of my husband's stuff is still behind it

-Favorite time to write?
While the boys are napping (or at least are obeying the rules and staying in their rooms)

-Drink of choice while writing?
I seldom keep something at my desk, I just get water every time I get up.  Unless I'm tired, then I get a chai

-When writing , do you listen to music or do you need complete silence?
Silence.  I sometimes have trouble concentrating if I even have a song stuck in my head.

-What was your inspiration for your latest manuscript and where did you find it?
The novel I'm editing now was the only thing I've ever written inspired by one of my dreams.  I was pretty enthused and couldn't stop talking about the dream for weeks.

-What's your most valuable writing tip?
Just write.  Momentum has a lot of power, on many levels.  Don't spend an hour researching one detail that might get cut in the first round of edits.  Details can be hammered out later, just clear your space and your mind and write.  There will always be chores, jobs, children, etc and you simply have to make time around them.

My first published story appears in the anthology "Doomology:  The Dawning of Disasters" from the Library of Science Fiction and Fantasy Press.  I live in Colorado with my husband and two young sons, and write whenever I can get the boys down for simultaneous naps.  I also recently started developing a mobile app, because life just isn't busy enough.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

August Stat Check

During the month of August, I wrote/edited on all 31 days
I spent a lot of time figuring out details, things that needed to change, and reorganizing my novel.  Then I blasted through the first five chapters again at a pace of one chapter every 1 1/2 to 2 days.  It was nice that very little work needed to be done to them since they were previously cleaned up.  Once I catch up to chapter 14, which is where I paused to incorporate research, it'll go back to a slower pace again.  But it still feels good to move so fast.
I made 10 submissions
I received 6 rejections
I took between 0 and 23 days to get a story back out after a rejection (yes, some of them took quite a while.  But once I got back into my groove I made it within a week.  And once I was really on my game, it took me 0-1 days)
I have 12 stories in slush pile circulation
I made 3 blog posts
I took no days off

Blogging is really starting to fall by the wayside.  There just isn't enough time in the day, especially while trying to sort through hundreds of vacation photos on top of everything else.  I'm still reading blogs, but seldom commenting anymore either.  I'm not really sure what the future of my blogging is going to be.  I do enjoy it so I don't see it going away, but at this point I will probably admit that it's going to be less frequent, so I don't feel so annoyed with myself when I don't have time to do it.

When it comes to my writing, I'm satisfied with my progress.  I'd love it to move faster, but that's the story of everything in life, and I don't have the time to make it go faster.  It's not going too slow, at least, so I can feel real progress being made.  That's one nice thing about working on a novel--I can see page counts and word counts and watch myself move from chapter to chapter, so it's easy to see myself moving through.

And that's all for now, because after a day of grandparents and the Taste of Colorado, I'm pooped.  G'night.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

What? A post?

No, I haven't fallen into a black hole.  I've just been busy.  I'm trying to develop a smart phone app, the novel still progresses, the kids require care as always, and we're gearing up for Zaxxon to start preschool.  Yes, blogging has mostly fallen by the wayside.  But here are a few kiddie crafts that we've thrown in here and there.

The day after we got back from Orlando, Zaxxon declared that he wanted to make a map.  A map of what?  Of where we were... of where Mickey lives!  So we pulled out some big paper and a park map we brought home and set about making a personalized map, highlighting the rides we went on.

Drawing Cinderella's Castle

Coloring Mickey

Insisting on using liquid glue to put it together

Now this was an awesome craft, and all his idea (though I influenced the implementation.)  If nothing else, it helps him remember everything that we did, and it was great to ride on his enthusiasm.  He regularly wants to "talk about it," which I think is great.

A week or so later, we also made a map for Animal Kingdom. 

Hubby did a lot of background on this one

Animal Kingdom, as we saw it

These helped make his trip extra special.  I love it when Zaxxon suggests crafts, and I love it even more when the crafts he suggests are do-able!

Tot School

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

My manuscript is again Riddled with Comments

I've been spending nearly three weeks going over my research notes from my trip to Kennedy last month.
(That's one big rocket!)

I've been doing a lot of rethinking during this time.  Some elements are major, some are minor, but all require figuring out exactly how they fit.  I've begun adding comments to the manuscrit again so I can put my thoughts where they need to be, but not make the actual changes until I read through the story in sequence.  So now I have over 100 comments to consider as I go through--and I'm not even done adding them yet.

I am close to being done, however.  Soon.  Soon I will finish adding comments and start at the beginning again.  Soon.

The sad thing is that most of my new comments are in the first sixteen chapters of the novel--and I've already been through the first fourteen chapters once.  Why can't most of the necessary changes be to parts of the novel I haven't edited yet? 

Because the beginning of the novel takes place in and around Kennedy Space Center, but it branches out for the middle and end, that's why.  Ooh, Murphy, you tease me.

So I am still working.  Steadily.  Slowly.  I yearn for speed, but will bide my time until it all fits.

Some vacation pics:

Here I am, trying to pose at the astronaut van, when hubby pokes his head around from the back and calls "Driver, can you hurry it up?  I've got a rocket to catch."  Ppbth!
Zaxxon with a rocket.  He has LOVED rockets since we got back.  We got him a matchbox space shuttle to occupy him on the flight home and it has been played with a lot, he managed to find a non-fiction little kids' book on the space shuttle at the library, and he's constantly making rockets out of legos.  Methinks he's inspired!
Teaching them how to fly already
Our little astronaut!  This playground was awesome.  Kal'El managed not to learn to walk until just after we got back, but he still enjoyed crawling around after his brother

Thursday, August 2, 2012

July Stat Check

During the month of July, I wrote/edited on all 31 days
I edited my novel, working on chapters 11-14 (14 and 15 got condensed into one chapter), did some on-site research, and began making major decisions in preparation to start at the beginning again to make any necessary changes
I made 3 submissions
I received 6 rejections
I took between 4 and 8 days to get a story back out after a rejection (the ones that have made it back out already, anyway)
I have 12 stories in slush pile circulation (4 are waiting)
I made 8 blog posts
I took no days off

I was working through the novel at a pretty good clip, got to see Kennedy Space Center and the surrounding area firsthand, and then started figuring out what needs to change.  I knew I would need to make some changes after visiting Florida--some of them are in areas that I expected and purposefully left vague, but others were unexpected.  I'd never thought much about how different humid air feels from Colorado's dry air (even though I've been to Florida before)--but I have random comments about the nights cooling off that assumed the more drastic temperature change we get here without realizing that humid air holds onto its heat longer.  There are other little things like that, in addition to larger items.  I've slowed way down while orienting the necessary changes, but I still feel like I'm making good progress.  Soon I will start over at the beginning--I don't want to miss any other minor details--but I expect the first 14 chapters ought to go pretty fast since not much will need to change in them, and then I'll continue at the approximately-one-chapter-per-week pace of before.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Raining Rejections

Upon returning from the magical world of Disney, I logged back into my email and found four rejections waiting for me.  That's a third of my supply of stories, all dumped back to me during the same week.  Considering that I'm behind on many things right now and I've been sick since getting back, I think it's going to take me a while before I get them back out.  Ugh.

At least one of them was a nice rejection:  I received another Honorable Mention from the Writers of the Future Contest!  The story in question had been with them for a l-o-n-g time and I'd been beginning to get my hopes up.  It's not as exciting as a semi-finalist or finalist would have been, but at least it's something!

Woohoo for me.  Now if only I can get all these stories back out before the next wave hits me.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Countdown to the Mouse

We did some crafts in preparation for our big Disney World vacation this summer.  Ordinarly, I had not planned to go while my kids were so young, but since my inlaws were offering accomodations...

We began our countdown by creating a visual calendar that Zaxxon could watch getting shorter.  We reused a paper chain that has been floating around the house since Christmas, cut it down to the remaining number of days before our vacation, and added a Mickey Mouse at the top.

Cutting out Mickey

Each day, he got to tear off one link and watch the chain get shorter.  He knew that once there were no links left we would go visit where Mickey lives.

I also, often at the last minute and sometimes on a whim, wrote activities on the chain links so we would have something to do to prepare for the vacation.

22 days out:  Watch Peter Pan
     I hadn't watched this as an adult before.  Wow.  Tinkerbell is a vindictive little snot.

21 days out:  Decorate his suitcase
My inlaws gave this to him for Christmas, and it is a great combination of toy and useable suitcase.  It's durable enough that a child can climb on it and ride it through the airport, and it locks so said child cannot spill his toys all over the concourse.  This was his carry-on, and probably will be for years to come.  (It's a Trunki by Melissa and Doug, if anyone cares.)

20 days out:  Look at a map of where Mickey lives.  We wound up looking through the beginning of a kiddie Disney tour book, too

19 days out:  No activity.  Forgot to even tear off a link until the next morning.

18 days out:  Watch Mama and Dada's videos of the last time they went to where Mickey lives.  He got a little bored, but got excited about some parts

17 days out:  Finish watching Mama and Dada's videos.  Hubby takes a lot of video footage, so it took a while to fast-forward through all of it

16 days out:  Eat a Mickey Mouse pancake

15 days out:  Watch Snow White

14 days out:  Make Mickey Mouse ears
This idea was in his kiddie Disney tour book.  It's just a headband with ears, simple enough!

13 days out:  Eat another Mickey Mouse pancake.  These are pretty standard in our house

12 days out:  Look at Mama's pictures of where Mickey Lives.  This time we just looked at still pictures of our last Disney vacation (before children.)  He was starting to recognize some of the rides and was getting excited about them

11 days out:  Look at videos of Animal Kingdom.
     We've told him this one is the zoo near where Mickey lives.

10 days out:  Watch fireworks!
     I wanted a firework dry run so we would know if it was worth it to keep him up/out to see the fireworks at the Magic Kingdom.  In years past, he really hasn't liked fireworks.  We didn't get as close as I would have liked for my experiment--in fact, waiting for them to start was really hard for him since we weren't in a good place to run around.  My conclusion, based more on the illegal fireworks being shot off near us than the official show, is that he'll be nervous but ought to do okay.

9 days out:  Finish watching Animal Kingdom video

8 days out:  Library Day.  Pick books for the trip
     I particularly like "The Noisy Airplane Ride" by Mike Downs.  It's great for preparing a child for what they might experience during a flight.  It's also great for any kids who are fascinated with airplanes (and Zaxxon's been picking them out in the sky, even ones that are only tiny dots, since he was younger than two.)

7 days out:  no activity.  Kal'El took the link off this day--though we hadn't planned it that way...

6 days out:  Pack your clothes!
     I had Zaxxon pick the clothes he wanted to bring--after requesting that he choose bright colors (so we could find him more easily among a crowd.)  I only reversed one of his decisions.  Then he helped put everything in his suitcase later on.  He wanted to pack everything--toys, books, his toothbrush--but we informed him that we still needed all that stuff until the day before

5 days out:  no activity

4 days out:  Look through the rest of the Mickey book

3 days out:  Bake cookies to take on the airplane
So close now!!!!!

2 days out:  Eat a Mickey Mouse pancake and watch an Epcot video
     Excitement level is getting high in the house (with the corresponding crash in behavior.)  We're mostly packed and all looking forward to the big trip!

1 day out:  Pick which toys to bring and watch your favorite Disney movie while Mama and Dada finish packing

Everybody's wearing mouse ears.  It's time to go!!!!!

(And guess what--we're back already.  I don't post about this kind of thing until it's over.  More on the actual vacation at another time)

Tot School

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Research, Mad Research

I've reached a point in revising the novel that is requiring a lot of research.  Stuff that I could have done during the first draft, but didn't because I knew it would slow me significantly and I didn't want to lose my momentum.  Some of it is integral, and some of it is just to make the background or minor interactions be accurate.  The rank of a minor character in the military, for example, or the layout and ambiance of a location.  This is a major cause of slowdowns in my revising.  When I spend a large chunk of my writing time doing research, I don't progress very far in the manuscript.

I'm getting the opportunity to do some major, hands-on research very soon, though, and I'm uber excited.  I'll blog more when I get the chance, but I'll just say that I've been looking forward to this for a while.  It should be fun!

How about you?  Do you enjoy your research, or does it seem like a necessary evil?

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Lose Weight with one weird tip - hrm...

Did you ever see these internet ads?  "Lose Weight with this one weird tip," "Area Mom discovers weird weightloss tip that really works," etc.  I used to see them all the time, although they've disappeared lately.  Now, I ignore 99% of internet ads.  If I see them, I usually just scoff at their advertisements and move on.  So I knew before clicking that those ads would be some sort of scam, but as I'd been hoping to lose the last few baby pounds, I was curious whether there were any nuggets to glean from the excrement.

There weren't.  In fact, I sort of wish I'd saved the webpage, just to be able to show my children someday when teaching them how to determine if a website is reliable.  Does it claim to be written by an impartial expert without giving any credentials about the author?  Does it provide a glowing review without a single negative?  Does it pretend to offer a scientific experiment that turns out to be one self-reported case study?  Does it fail to offer explanations for why "scientific" choices were made?  Does it claim larger-than-life results?  Do all links within the website point back to itself?  Is there a pop-up alert when you navigate away from the page, asking if you really want to do that and turn down such an amazing offer?  Yes to all?  Well, hmm.....................

The main ingredient in the diet pills in question (and it took a little reading before I even got to the part where I learned that this "diet" involved several "natural" supplements) sounded familiar to me, so I googled it independently.  Know what the ingredient was?

The pregnancy hormone.

Yes, some wackos decided that hormones that prepare a woman's body to nurture a fetus for nine months would somehow make people lose weight.  Considering that women gain a heck of a lot of weight during pregnancy, the logic here baffles me.  (I'd also like to know how they extract this hormone in order to put it in pills.  After all, home pregnancy tests are designed to react to that hormone, and we all know what women have to do to those little sticks...)

The article I was reading went on to say that claims that the hormone would cause weightloss were scientifically unfounded and selling it was actually illegal (or perhaps they were working on making it illegal--I can't remember the details, this was some time ago.)  I was therefore surprised that I kept encountering these ads on a well-respected news website.

The ads did disappear after a time, and I don't know why.  Unfortunately due to the nature of cookies and web-crawlers, the ads on my blog will probably now include this one, if it still exists.  Don't click through if it does--unless you'd like a laugh.

I'm happy to report that, without any help from diet scams, I have met my goal of attaining pre-pregnancy weight, and have maintained it for a few months now.  And I'm not just talking pre-Kal'El weight, which was about ten pounds higher than pre-Zaxxon weight.  No, I've reached pre-Zaxxon weight.  And I am thankful.  Babies have permanently changed my abdomen, but at least I'm no longer carrying around the extra pounds.  And I'm more than happy to share my "one weird tip," absolutely free of charge.


I decided, more for overall health and not with the intention of using it to lose weight, that I needed to be more hydrated.  Instead of trying to carry water around with me wherever I went, I just decided to use the bathroom as a mental stop.  After using the bathroom, I grab the cup I keep in there, fill it up, and down it.  It didn't take long for this to become habit, and the last ten pregnancy pounds slid off pretty quickly.  I believe this was partially because my stomach was fuller before meals, so I ate less.  Whether it helped in other ways, I can't say, but I can say that it worked.   I can also say that I've gotten slightly healthier in other regards, most notably with skin.  I used to get chronic eczema on my hands, and while I still get flare-ups, they are far less common now.  There have been a few other benefits as well, but I don't feel I need to delve into those topics on this blog.

Me, ten weeks with Zaxxon, before I started to show
Me, immediately after Zaxxon
Me, about ten weeks with Kal'El
Yes, it's not a huge difference, but lots of pants still didn't fit.
Me, immediately after Kal'El
Me, now.