Why couldn’t my kids be more annoying?!?!

Sometimes when you travel for business, it’s better to have annoying children who misbehave a lot.  Then you can feel happy and relaxed when the plane takes off.

But I have to have kids who spent the whole weekend being sweet and cute and cuddly.  Kids who played games nicely together and took turns sharing all their toys.  Kids who helped me make Thanksgiving dinner and actually helped.  Kids who played well with my little goddaughter.

Damn them!

Here I am, a day and a half into my 4.5 day business trip and I already miss them like crazy.  Hopefully, I can facetime with them later.  They love that, even though my daughter doesn’t understand where the camera is so I can usually only see the top of her curly head.  It’s still nice to know she is giving me kisses even when I can’t see her face.

Since the hotel is attached to a mall, I will also help ease my grief with some retail therapy.  I have learned that Claire’s is a great store when you have a girly-girl who likes sparkly things!

I am sure they will make up for all of their good behavior when I get home and I can long for the business trip then.



Holiday Happiness

I love me some alliteration.

I also love the holidays and all the traditions that go along with it.

Yesterday we had the whole family over for some fried turkey.  Frying the turkey gave me extra time to focus on other cooking, like pizza rolls, pigs in the blanket and some sweet potato spoon bread (which I did horribly wrong, somehow).

I also made desserts from scratch, including some chocolate chip cookies, peanut butter banana cream pie (from epicurious) and the apple pie I posted about previously.

I had planned on posting some pictures and recipes here, but I was too busy to take pictures – first cooking and then eating.  So sorry!

Tomorrow, we go to my friends’ house for our annual Autumnal Feast, which is our non-blood relative Thanksgiving dinner celebration.  It’s always a fun time.  I think it will be extra fun this year with all the kids being able to run around together.  There’s something about kids running around that makes the holidays even better.

Then in the coming weeks, we have my little boy’s 5th birthday party with the family.  I can cry just thinking about it, then Christmas Eve dinner with the in-laws, Christmas morning with my dad, Christmas afternoon with the extended family.  Then “Our Christmas” with the aforementioned non-blood relation family.  Then my boy’s birthday party with all of his friends, which I delay until January so it’s not impacted by all the holiday craziness.

And somewhere in there we want to take the kids on their first train ride to see the tree and the joys of FAO Schwartz.

So much to enjoy, so little time.

Sunday, I head down to Dallas for 4 full days of research, all in the same place.  It’s practically unheard of!  And the hotel is attached to my absolute favorite mall.  So I will have a few rough days of work, and some nice nights of quiet TV time and wandering a mall with a peppermint mocha in hand, watching the ice skaters, listening to Christmas carols.  Oh and I also have a half-done book to finish – so add hectic nights of writing in there.

Then my husband and I are heading off to a weekend in Vermont.  I wish I had known I would be away from the kids for the previous 4 days, when we planned this little weekend, but oh well.  Market research is unpredictable like that.

I am in a good mood today, happily sitting in my pajamas doing some Black Friday shopping (assuming the websites eventually work, that is, but it beats waiting on line any day), with plenty of leftovers in the kitchen to feast on all day.  The kids and I are doing some serious cuddling today too.

Holiday happiness apparently leads to a pointless blog post with lots of run-on sentences, but I am too happy to care.

Christmas shopping for the boy in the “girl” section

Finally, a blog post not about my writing progress or my inability to write!

As most kids do this time of year, my son is making a never ending list of Christmas present requests.  He wants the usual trucks, race cars, anything angry birds, etc.

But he also wants lots of things that are sold in the “pink” side of the store.  We are firm believers that toys are toys and they are not gender specific, but try explaining that to the rest of the world.

Many times when my boy says he wants something pink or that he prefers the stuffed lavender unicorn over the more boy-friendly brown horse, I’ve seen adults smirk.  Sometimes they even mock him.  I know they don’t mean anything by it, but I jump to his defense anyway.  No one is going to make him feel bad for liking what he likes and being who he wants to be in front of me.

But what about when I am not around?  Who will protect him then?  Sometimes I even find myself trying to subtly steer him towards more socially acceptable toys.  It never works, because he knows what he wants.  And I feel guilty about it.  By trying to protect him from the people who might make fun of him, am I becoming one of them?  Am I subtly supporting these ignorant opinions and perpetuating the cycle?

My friend once said that I shouldn’t worry about such things, and that she plans to let her daughter play with whatever toys she wants, even if they are “boy” toys and I felt forced to point out the double standard.  She has a daughter.  (At least there is one double standard that works in favor of our gender.)

Girls can play with trucks and roll around in the mud without anyone thinking twice.  If anything, the girl is seen as an adorable tomboy.   But what of my son walking around in my stiletto boots?  Sadly, that is far less acceptable by society.  (FYI, along with the knee-high stiletto boots, he is wearing underwear, a shirt and an American flag hat, calling himself the sheriff.  Now that’s funny.)

He is barely 5, but I can already see peer pressure starting to take its toll.  He used to love pink, but recently told me that pink is a girl color.  Who told him that?  It wasn’t us.  But there it is.

So we buy him the jewelry making kits and the purple unicorn pillow pet, because these things make him happy.  But I worry about the day when he will come home in tears, because someone told him his favorite toy was a girl’s toy and that angers me.  Hopefully that day will never come.

Crack of dawn flight has cleared up my writer’s block

I was on a 7:30am flight to Chicago this morning, so I could come here and sit in a dark room, watching research being conducted on the other side of the glass.

This meant that I was at the airport at 5am.  Instead of staring into space, I decided to get to work on my book.  In the 90 minutes I spent in the Admiral’s Club 1500 words appeared.  Then I went to the gate eager to put hands to keys once again.

As the plane took off, I set my laptop on my lap with my finger poised over the power button.  Then came the familiar bing which meant I could turn it on and get started again.

By the time we landed, my novel that was stuck at 10,000 words had well over 16,000 words, still 5,000 words short of where I should have been by last night, but progress is progress.

As I made this headway in the book, thoughts came to me, about what the next crisis will be, how it will send my main character into a tailspin and how she will eventually come out of the tailspin into a new journey, which would signal the end of the book.

Can’t wait to get back to the airport so I can continue my work.  For once, I am happy about commuting to a different time zone for one day.  A hotel room would prove too distracting with its comfy bed and large TV.

Writer’s block and baby fun

I had a rough week at work.  I was getting up at 5am nearly everyday and busy all day long.  Still every night on my train ride home, I made a point to work on my novel-to-be.  I was still behind but was making steady progress and I liked where the book was going.

Yesterday, my hands were hurting me, so I decided to read what I wrote instead of typing more.  This is a big no-no according to NaNoWriMo and now I know why.  I read stuff I had written last week and forgotten about.  I read stuff that no longer made sense to the story and I started editing, perhaps the biggest no no.

I tried to write more when I got home last night, but was paralyzed.  I was too focused on picking up forgotten subplots that I no longer really liked to get absorbed in the story.  I was averaging around 1,500 words every time I sat down to write.  Since my stupid reading session yesterday, I struggled to write 300 words, 300 words that I don’t even like.

I spent today trying to rest up and clear my head while relaxing with the kids.  I figured we could just veg all day.

Of course, today my son decides he wants to write a book, entitled “Everything I do outside of school and inside of school.”  I volunteered to bind it for him.  He decided I was also the illustrator and writer.

Needless to say this little side job did not help my confidence level.  Apparently, I do not draw well enough, “The windows of my school do not look like that!”, or take dictation quickly enough “I am finished talking, why are you still writing?”

My daughter decided that I should also draw stuff for her.  Her instructions consisted of her pointing at the page and saying something unintelligible over and over again in increasing volume until I figured out what she wanted.

Then they spent half an hour hiding under the kitchen table, and popping out to scare me.  That was apparently the funniest thing ever, because they both squealed with laughter, which helped more than anything.  It feels pretty good to be around that kind of joy.  At what age do we stop squealing with laughter?

Now, we are cuddling on the couch watching a movie and I am attempting to write again to no avail.  Later I am having a much needed night out with my friends (no kids).

Hopefully, some additional cuddling and the night out will clear my mind enough for tomorrow to be a better day.


I want to do stuff!

A few months ago, my idea of a good time was to sit on my couch with some cookies watching TV.  But suddenly, I have this urge to do stuff, stuff with purpose.  My lazy, more practical side is telling me that two months ago, I couldn’t find the time or energy to clean the toilet on a weekly or even bi-weekly basis*.  How will I find the time and energy to do extra stuff?  I barely survive the stuff I have to do.

But the itch remains.

In the past month, I have pondered volunteering again and getting the whole family involved.  Since my kids are 2 and 4 and my husband doesn’t like to move more than he has to, I realize this plan has its limitations.  But I found I still want to do it; I miss it.  I used to mentor.  I used to volunteer at an HIV research center.  I began both of these things more or less for my graduate degree, but I loved both and did them for far longer than I needed to.

I have looked into the Make a Wish Foundation, Big Brothers, Big Sisters and the United Way.

The Make a Wish Foundation seems like a reasonable time commitment and I feel that the work is very important.  However, my practical side is telling me that this is not the job for me.  I think it might be right, because anything sad involving kids makes me cry ever since I became a mom.  I cried my eyes out at the Nanny Diaries when the boy cried because his nanny was leaving.  I think dealing with a kid dying from cancer may be a bit out of my league.

Big Brothers, Big Sisters apparently has a surplus of big sisters and desperately needs big brothers.  Alas, I do not have a penis.

United Way sounds great, but then there is my nagging practical side.  “Don’t commit to something because you feel a momentary itch.  You are a very busy person.  You don’t have the time or energy to do the things you have to do, and the itch will eventually go away.  Then what about the people who have come to count on you?”  My itchy side says this is not reason enough not to something I think is important and meaningful.  The jury is still out on this one while my two sides duke it out.

But I did hear about something fun and possibly meaningful I can do that requires me to commit to no one but myself and a website.  I am going to write a novel.  About what?  I have no idea.  I literally just decided this, like now.  And I am 4 days behind in National Novel Writing Month.  I better get a move on.  Hopefully, this will scratch the itch.

* FYI – I now have a lovely cleaning woman who comes every two weeks to keep my toilets from turning colors.  Perhaps it is the strange presence of cleaning supplies in my house that’s making me itchy.  Who knows?