The Birthday Breakdown

Holy Age-Defying Facial Moisturizer – is that another wrinkle?

As many of you know, yesterday was my birthday. It was also my little friend C’s second birthday, the birthday of my friend L, a friend of a friend, T, J’s mom’s birthday, and the birthdays of, get this: the Nugget cashier’s brother, cousin, and friend. April 3rd is a very popular day.

Because of me, of course.

So, here’s the breakdown of highlights, including getting carded by the Nugget cashier (YES!).

As a nod to my earlier years, I requested hot dogs and macaroni and cheese for my birthday dinner.

My in-laws brought princess cake from Victoria Pastry for dessert.

Princess Cake!

If you haven’t had princess cake before, I suggest you march on over to Victoria Pastry and get yourself some. It’s got marzipan icing covering triple-sec-soaked sponge cake, with whipped cream, vanilla custard, and raspberry filling. My mouth is watering. Z’s distracted. I think I’ll just sneak over to the refrigerator with my fork and…ah. Goodness. (Such goodness we couldn’t refrain from chopping it up and eating it before I could get a photo of it intact. Well, this way you can see the middle.)

Even though I thought my laptop was my Christmas-and-birthday combo present, Husband has spoiled me again, with this antique ring:

The moonstone is surrounded by the prettiest lavender gemstone…and he can’t remember what the lavender stones are called. I’m not complaining!

I even snuck some writing time into the day, and am nearly ready to submit my manuscript to my critique partners for their hawk-eyes to read and their hawk-beaks to rend to pieces. Gulp.

It was an awesome birthday, and while Husband guessed my birthday candle wish was a book and movie deal for my manuscript, it wasn’t. Because I’m not superstitious enough to stop myself, I’ll tell you what my wish was: for more birthdays just as happy as this one.

It’s a blurry shot, but you get the idea. Husband will never stop teasing me for “getting old.” That’s okay. As much as we complain about getting older, the alternative is not perfectly fabulous, either.

Happy Birthday, Everyone!

Parenting Soundtracks

Anita Renfroe had the right idea when she created “Momisms” and sang it to the tune of the William Tell Overture. The problem is her song condenses everything, so we can’t use it in place of real parenting. Which got me thinking: I could totally use a Parenting Soundtrack (patent pending) to get me through the days where it’s just me and Z. I’d be free to read another book, or think about the plot of my current manuscript. She’d be free to ignore me (which she often does anyway). We’d be happy as clams.

See how happy we are?

Here we have a demonstration of the Parenting Soundtrack “Fine Dining.” Other available soundtracks include:

  • Pleasant Potty Training: “Pee and poop go in the potty!”
  • The Great Outdoors: “Run as fast as you can! Burn off that energy before naptime!”
  • Beautiful Bedtime Routines: “You may choose two stories and two songs.”
  • Responsible Clean-up: featuring that all-time favorite “Clean up, clean up, everybody, everywhere!”
  • Fantastic Freeplay: “Be gentle! It’s good to share.”
  • For Parents of Two or More: “I give up. The bigger one gets her way.”

As soon as she wakes up, I’m going to get started on recording. My studio? Wherever it is I find myself needing to remind my daughter of the rules. So I guess that’s the kitchen, dining room, bathroom, family room, the backyard, the car, the grocery store…

Restraint

From my diary:

Sometimes I am the picture of restraint.

Situation exaggerated to illustrate point.

Other times, not so much.

Situation exaggerated not so much.

That’s all! See you on Friday with NiFtY author Elaine Cantrell!

Compromised by Heidi Ayarbe

Set-up: Everything Maya holds dear – her house, her belongings, her designer clothes, and her con-artist dad – are taken away when her dad’s crimes finally catch up with him. Maya is sent to Kids Place, an institution where children and teens wait for foster parents to take them in.

Main character’s goals: This is pretty straightforward. Find long-lost aunt. While this is a great goal in and of itself, the stakes are raised when a creep-nasty couple of foster parents plan to take Maya in. The couple is outwardly religious, but the man seems to only worship one thing: teenage girls. If that isn’t shudder-inducing enough, add the complex power struggles among the other children and teens in Kids Place.

My reaction: You know I hate stories that make me cry, and this one did. Grr. But it also had a very satisfying ending, and not in a sunshiny, “girl gets boy and lives happily ever after” sort of way. I mean, I love Disney fairy tale endings, I really do. But this felt real, and plausible, and even better.

Of interest to writers: Maya’s got a scientific and, actually, a very paranoid way of looking at the world. For every decision she makes, she creates a scientific-procedure to go with it. Here’s an example:

Purpose: Find Aunt Sarah.

Hypothesis: If I can find Aunt Sarah, I can avoid being sent to the Holy Rollers’ house.

Materials: Mom’s box, a backpack…

Procedure:

1) Get a Citifare Bus schedule… (p. 89)

These scientific procedures serve to underline Maya’s voice. They also reinforce her character as a scientific, logical smartypants. And – even better – they clue the reader in to her ever-plummeting situation (as if the various crises in the story are not enough…trust me, they are).

Bottom line: This is a well-crafted novel, with believable characters who will win you over and quite possibly break your heart.

The Challenge of Turning 30

The clock is ticking and I’ve got six months left of my twenties. I want to do them right.

The thing is, I feel like a kid most of the time. There’re all kinds of things I don’t know how to do or even handle, and so like the bibliophile I am I turned to a book. I (rather smugly) gave this one to Husband when he turned 30:

30 Things Everyone Should Know How to Do Before Turning 30, by Siobhan Adcock.

Here they are (lifted from the back of the book) (with slight commentary as embellishment where necessary):

  1. wrap a present
  2. start a successful fire in a fireplace, at a campsite, and in a barbecue
  3. finish a piece of furniture
  4. get a raise (whahahaha!)
  5. order wine at a restaurant without getting stiffed
  6. parallel park in three breathtakingly beautiful movements
  7. dance a “slow dance” without looking like an idiot
  8. use a full place setting properly, including chopsticks and Asian soup spoons
  9. clean your place in under 45 minutes, when friends, relatives, or prospective lovers (hahahaha) are coming by unexpectedly, and soon
  10. hold your liquor
  11. cure a hangover
  12. do the Heimlich maneuver
  13. use a compass
  14. change a flat
  15. jump-start a car
  16. open a champagne bottle
  17. send a drink to someone’s table
  18. cook one “signature meal” (I’m shuddering in fear at this one)
  19. whistle with your fingers
  20. take good pictures
  21. fold a fitted sheet (those damn things are so annoying!)
  22. remove common stains
  23. sew a button
  24. carve turkey, lasagna, and birthday cake
  25. hold a baby (hahaha!)
  26. change a diaper (if only I didn’t know how to do this)
  27. keep a plant alive for more than a year
  28. make dogs and cats love you
  29. help someone out of a car
  30. write superior thank-you notes

The rules for my challenge are simple. I have until my thirtieth birthday. I’ll write here about my successes and failures. I’ll try not to burn down any cities (#1–whoops, Dana pointed out this should be #2, not #1), bite off my fingers (#19), or make everyone else’s pets move to my house (#28). As much as possible, I’ll stick to my regular blog posting schedule, but if I have Breaking News, things might get switched up a bit. Breaking News will not include items I feel I already have proficiency in (such as keep a plant alive for more than a year, hold a baby, change a diaper, and a couple of others).

Wanna join me? No age requirements. You can be 30, close to 30, or nowhere near 30 (on either side of the number).

In totally unrelated self-promotion, come by on Friday for an interview with Vintage Veronica author Erica S. Perl, and my first ever Giveaway Awesomeness.