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Read all about the adventures of the Tsao Family during the summer of 2012

Thursday, November 30, 2006

 

Passport to Bershon

Ya'll know what bershon means, right? If not, I give you the definition presented by Sarah Brown of Que Sera Sera:


"...the spirit of bershon is pretty much how you feel when you’re 13 and your parents make you wear a Christmas sweatshirt and then pose for a family picture, and you could not possibly summon one more ounce of disgust, but you’re also way too cool to really even DEAL with it, so you just make this face like you smelled something bad and sort of roll your eyes and seethe in a put-out manner."


And in case you need a more visual definition, I present to you Emily's recent passport photo:

emily_bershon
Also, she has started calling me mom, except she often pronounces it maa ahhmmm, in true bershon style.


Today is the last day of NaBloPoMo. Thanks for staying with me through this long month of blogging and novel writing. You rock! I know that having the support and encouragement of my friends, family, and readers is what got me through the month.

Thanks. *Rolls eyes*

***
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Wednesday, November 29, 2006

 

Garbanzo Bean and Sausage Served in the Vessel

The culinary term en casserole means 'served in the vessel used for cooking'. -- Wikipedia

Last weekend we had dinner at our friends D and M's house. They have a daughter almost the exact age as Emily and the two together are pretty darn cute. Their youngest daughter is five months younger than Thomas, which will mean nothing in six months or so. The kids always play well together, and that means the adults can enjoy wine and dinner while the kids tear up the other room. Good times.

D made us a fabulous tofu lasagne as well as a garbanzo bean and sausage casserole. It came out over dinner that the lasagne was the dish he had made to woo M. You know what I'm talking about, right? For us it was tuna seared in butter with port reduction served with rice. Mike made it for me on one of our first dates, and I knew it meant he was serious.

The company was great, the lasagne was wonderful, but it was the garbanzo bean and sausage casserole that had me whipping out pen and paper the minute we left their house. Here's my version of the recipe, which I made last night. Mike said it was pretty close to D's except I didn't add enough cheese. You are free to add more. Especially if you are making this for a potential mate.

I served this with steamed asparagus spears and spinach ravioli stuffed with ricotta cheese and pine nuts. Upon further reflection, I am thinking it would be superb with a pasta with pesto sauce and a green salad. You know, if you're aiming to impress. If not, chow down on it using a large wooden spoon while leaning over the stove. Like we do.

I expect an invite to the wedding.


Garbanzo Bean and Sausage Casserole

Olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced [Updated 11/30/06 -- Thanks, Grace!]
3 spicy turkey sausage links in casing
1/2 cup chicken broth
1/4 cup red wine
3 15-oz cans garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
1 bay leaf
1/2 tsp. ground thyme
1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
salt and pepper

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Squeeze sausage meat out of casings. Roll meat into approximately 20 meatballs.
  3. Heat olive oil (2-3 times around the pot) in large skillet -or- stove-to-oven pot such as Le Creuset.
  4. Saute meatballs over medium heat until browned -- about 5 minutes.
  5. Add chopped onion and minced garlic. Saute until onions soft, stirring often and reducing heat if necessary -- about 3 minutes.
  6. Add chicken broth, wine, garbanzo beans, bay leaf, and thyme. Stir and bring to gentle boil. Reduce heat and simmer until broth is almost all evaporated -- about 4 minutes.
  7. Transfer to baking dish or leave in oven-ready pot. Add half the cheese, salt and pepper to taste, and stir. Top with remaining cheese.
  8. Bake, uncovered, 15 to 20 minutes.


Makes 6 servings.


***
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Tuesday, November 28, 2006

 

Black Tuesday: Journey to the Dark Side of Retail

Ladies, I have gone over to the other side. After deliberating about it for a long time (Is it the right thing to do? What would it mean for our relationship? Would he start calling me mother?), and after my father-in-law pulled me aside when my sister-in-law was in labor to tell me that he was appalled by my husband's wardrobe, I decided it was time for me to step over to the dark side.

I have started buying my husband's clothes.

And guess what? It's actually kind of fun. First of all, men's clothes are pretty simple; you've got pants, shirts, and jackets--that's it. Second, the men's department is practically deserted. Third, the sales guys tend to be gay and they actually enjoy discussing the merits of french vs. traditional cuffs. And fourth, I like clothes. I should have done this years ago.

The problem is that whenever I think about buying clothes for my husband, the image of my old, portly boss comes to mind. This guy had been married since he was eighteen, and his wife bought all of his clothes. One day he asked her what size underwear he wore; he had seen some for sale at Costco (where else?) and thought he might get them. She told him, "You don't want to know." And she wouldn't tell him!

I don't want to end up being a control freak about Mike's wardrobe and I'm certainly not going to shield him from the horrible truth about his girth (if it comes to that), but I finalized my decision to buy him some new clothes after I put together my outfit for the Google holiday party. Mind you, I don't get out much to formal or even semi-formal affairs, so I've been thinking about this holiday party for--oh--a year or so. But because of NaNoWriMo, I didn't have time to shop for a dress until yesterday. This was a little nerve-wracking since the party is in three days, but I braved the mall (with kids in tow!) and walked away with this beautiful number:

It looks this good on me except it goes down to my ankles because I don't have six-foot long legs.


After I got the dress, I had to get a velvet stole to wear around my shoulders and the appropriate jewelry. I've been thinking about make-up (yes), stockings (no), and hair-do (hot rollered with either one rhinestone bobby pin or a thin headband) for days. Tomorrow I'm getting a mani/pedi and I'm contemplating a spray tan although I'm worried I'll end up like Ross in that Friends episode when he accidentally gets over-sprayed. Wish me luck.

Anyway, I've had our babysitter reserved for a month, but I only started thinking about what Mike was going to wear yesterday. Which is when I realized that his one suit WAS ALL WRONG. And so was his shirt. And don't even get me started on his collection of stained ties leftover from the nineties. Everything was wrong and had to change. Now.

That's when I got his sizes; I now have them on a little piece of paper in my wallet. I took the kids back to the mall, and bought him what I consider to be basics for any man's wardrobe: black wool pants, dark grey wool pants, two white dress shirts, two red patterned ties. I also got him an off-white dress shirt with french cuffs to go with the brown suit he already owns.

So at the party, I will be wearing the fabu dress pictured above and he will be wearing black pants, a white dress shirt with a subtle diagonal stitching, and a crimson tie with a swirly pattern. Unfortunately, he's going to be freezing because we don't have time to get him fitted for a matching jacket. Hey, being fashionable comes at a price.

Good lord, what have I become.

***
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Monday, November 27, 2006

 

Day 27: Cyber Days and Mondays

Ahh... It's a blissful day with nothing planned. At least, I don't think so; my calendar is sitting on my desk and I'm afraid to open it.

It's also Cyber Monday. Have you bought anything online today? I just got "the house" its present from Santa: zebra striped sheets and towels for the master bedroom. Because we need them. Real bad.

Hey, here's a meme I found over at The Dana Files. I know how much you love memes!

1. Flip to page 18, paragraph 4 - in the book closest to you right now, what does it say?
Does People magazine qualify as a book? If so: New York City. November 20. A fur-clad Sienna Miller and Guy Pearce (playing Edie Sedgwick and Andy Warhol) join the wildlife in Central Park to film a scene for the drama "Factory Girl."

2. If you stretch out your left arm as far as possible, what are you touching?
My cell phone. Is this a naughty question?

3. What’s the last program you watched on TV?
Legally Blond. It played last night and I couldn't resist. Oh, and I'm on Team Reese.

4. Without looking, guess what time it is.
9:54 AM. It's actually only 9:38 AM. Cool.

5. Aside from the computer, what can you hear right now?
Diego helping Linda the Llama get a basket.

6. When was the last time you were outside and what did you do?
About 45 minutes ago. There was a tapping sound on the roof. I determined that it was a crow digging for bugs in the water that's up there after yesterday's rain. Then I came back inside.

7. What are you wearing?
Purple flowered pajama bottoms, pink slippers, white fleece top.

8. Did you dream last night? If you did, what about?
I don't remember.

9. When was the last time you laughed?
Last night while watching Legally Blond. It was the last time I cried, too.

10. What’s on the walls, in the room you’re in right now?
A Rosie the Riveter clock and two bulletin boards filled with pictures of friends and family and school papers.

11. Have you seen anything strange lately?
Last night I saw a poop filled diaper on the floor, two feet away from the child who pooped. That was both strange and horrifying.

12. What do you think about this meme?
I’m thinking I wish it was shorter.

13. What’s the last film you saw?
See #3.

14. If you became a multimillionaire, what would you do with the money?
Spend some, save some, give some away. Also, buy an apartment in Manhattan.

15. Tell us something about yourself that most people don’t know.
My pierced ear holes are crooked. Damn that kiosk in the mall!

16. If you could change ONE THING in this world, without regarding politics or bad guilt, what would it be?
Women's negative body images.

17. Do you like to dance?
Yes!

18. George Bush?
According to an article I just read, he has his suits custom made by a "French born tailor in Washington."

19. What do you want your children’s names to be, girl/boy?
Emily and Thomas.

20. Would you ever consider living abroad?
Yes.

21. What do you want God to tell you, when you come to heaven?
There's no such thing as a hangover in heaven.

22. Who should do this meme?
Everybody in the entire blogosphere, starting with you.

***
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Sunday, November 26, 2006

 

Day 26: Thoughts about December in November

When I woke up this morning on the couch snuggled up to an empty bottle of champagne and an empty box of Triscuits, I knew it could mean only one thing.

I finished NaNoWriMo 2006!

With the task of writing a 50,000 word novel suddenly off my to-do list, my thoughts turn to December, to Thomas's 2nd birthday, to a visit from my mom and stepdad, to getting a tree and decorating the house for Christmas, to shopping and wrapping and checking my list twice, and to the end of the month when we will take a much-needed family vacation to a warmer climate.

Via M. Kennedy of Fussy, the creator of NaBloPoMo (National Blog Posting Month for those of you living under a rock), I found out about Holidailies, which basically is DeBloPoMo except they're calling it Holidailies. Yes, a group of hardy writers has decided to continue this blogging every day thing into the month of December. Will I be one of them? I don't know yet. Will you?

***
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Saturday, November 25, 2006

 

Day 25: Liveblogging NaNoWriMo

Well, folks, it's day 25 of NaNoWriMo and my novel languishes at 40,126 words. Clearly, I need to kick some behind today if I'm going to finish this thing by midnight.

Can I write 9,874 words in one day? Stay tuned to find out! I'll be liveblogging my word count, mood, and interesting plot twists all day. Isn't that exciting?! Yes, while you're out searching out the shopping deals, I'll be here torturing myself with this awful project.

Feel free to leave words of encouragement.

xoxo
mary

Updates
10:15 AM. 40,354 words. There are ants on my desk. They are bothering me, but there aren't enough to warrant declaring this an ant emergency. I will continue to write.

10:41 AM. 41,159 words. Damn these ants.

10:55 AM. 41,258 words. I hear that the dryer is stopped. I will take a small break to pee and fold clothes.

11:25 AM. Returning to my desk. Clothes are folded and I've got a new cup of hot tea by my side. I'm ready to write!

11:32 AM. 41,582 words. I've decided that I'd really rather be painting my front door right now.

11:42 AM. 42,013 words. Don't forget to save!

11:54 AM. 42, 301 words. I'm getting hungry. Time to break for lunch.

12:59 PM. Back from lunch. I made Creamy Brussels Sprouts except we didn't have any brussels sprouts so I used broccoli. It was fantastic. I think I could eat wood chips if they were simmered in heavy cream and nutmeg, then covered with a blanket of fresh-grated parmesan cheese. Anyway, back to the novel.

1:11 PM. 42,516 words. Mike took the kids to Home Depot and Target. I just wrote the following sentence: She sat on the bed with her hands underneath her thighs and gazed up at her therapist with a look of crazed anticipation. Ha! It's my novel and I'll suck if I want to!

1:49 PM. 43,359 words. Dancing break. I need candy, too. And more hot tea.

2:12 PM. I have been fortified with two chocolate chip cookies and a cup of green tea with lemon and honey. Also, I washed my face and shook my booty to "Don't You Wish Your Girlfriend Was Hot Like Me" by The Pussycat Dolls. I am ready to proceed.

2:48 PM. 43,844 words. A crucial part of the plot is revealing itself as I write. I'm in a groove. Finally!

3:04 PM. 44,374 words. I'm desperate to get to 45,000! My left wrist is starting to hurt. I take a break to change Thomas's diaper.

3:40 PM. 45,095 words. Hurrah! Time for a fifteen minute break while I contemplate how this novel will end.

3:59 PM. I'm back. I emptied the dishwasher and got a cup of coffee. Unfortunately, I forgot to think about the ending of my novel.

4:11 PM. 45,398 words. The words aren't flowing as quickly as before. I'm stumped about the ending. Maybe I'll go back and add a few dream sequences to bring up my word count.

4:39 PM. 45,612 words. Whose idea was this?!?!

4:56 PM. 46,084 words. Stopping for dinner. 4,000 words to go.

5:43 PM. Back from dinner. Guess what I had? Yes, a bowl of starch: stuffing, mashed potatoes, and sweet potatoes. I'm getting just a tad bit sick of Thanksgiving food.

6:08 PM. 46,817 words. It's not going to feel very good until it's over, but I'm pretty sure I can finish this tonight. Maybe even in time to enjoy a glass or two of champagne while watching "Law and Order." Oh, the joy!

6:57 PM. 47,206 words. So I'm thinking that writing 1/5 of your novel in one day couldn't possibly be good for your novel. If you know what I mean.

7:18 PM. 47,962 words. My wrist is aching. I am going to take a short break to get some water and help the kids into their jammies. Mike's been great, taking care of them all day while I've been holed up in my office.

6:57 PM. 47,206 words. So I'm thinking that writing 1/5 of your novel in one day couldn't possibly be good for your novel. If you know what I mean.

7:18 PM. 47,962 words. My wrist is aching. I am going to take a short break to get some water and help the kids into their jammies. Mike's been great, taking care of them all day while I've been holed up in my office.

7:48 PM. I'm back. I took two advils so I hope that helps with my wrist pain. Only 2,038 words to go!

8:11 PM. 48,638 words. The thought of reaching The End is driving me to type as fast as my aching wrists will allow.

8:23 PM. 48,841 words. I just saved my Word document as a .txt file and uploaded it to the official NaNoWriMo website to verify my word count. I'm almost there! Man, I need a drink.

8:54 PM. 49,548 words. Less than 500 words to go! And I've got all of my main characters in the final scene so there's lots of dialogue and lots of opportunity for words to be spoken. Does that make sense? Ah, who cares. All I know is, I'm almost done!

9:24 PM. 50,354 words. I got carried away at the end in a desperate attempt to make sense of a story written in 25 days.

9:27 PM. LOOK WHAT I GOT!



Good night. I'm off to drink champagne. Thanks for the words of encouragement!

***
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Friday, November 24, 2006

 

Thanksgiving 2006: The Good, The Bad, and The Turkey

If you ate leftovers for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, there's no doubt that today is the day after Thanksgiving. I hosted Thanksgiving this year and these are my notes to remember what worked and what didn't. For future reference. You know.

In general, I was very happy with how Thanksgiving turned out. It was a lot of work (isn't everything a lot of work when you have small kids running around?), but the food was good (if I do say so myself) and I didn't forget anything. However, it was--oh--just a tad stressful to have Thanksgiving coming on top of everything that's been going on around here: Mike's mom visiting, yard and fence work coordination, NaBloPoMo, NaNoWriMo, other writing work, etc.

Don't get me wrong; I like stress and deadlines. I don't know if I'm an official Type A, but I do know that working hard keeps my blood pumping and I like that. But after waking up today and working like a mad woman to finish my mothers club newsletter, then taking the kids to the post office to get passports, I came home, collapsed on the couch, and took a four hour nap.

I like my downtime, too.

Here's my Thanksgiving brain dump. In case you're curious, Jennie blogged the menu.

The Good

  • Outsourcing the turkey, gravy, cranberry sauce, and pies, and only cooking the side dishes at home was smart. We got the turkey, gravy, and cranberry sauce from Whole Foods and the pies from Baker's Square. Everything was excellent.

  • My favorite dish was the Creamy Brussels Sprouts. I found the recipe in the November issue of Better Homes and Gardens magazine and have included it at the end of this post. Yum! Jennie's favorite dish was the sweet potato casserole.

  • I cheated and made Stove Top stuffing instead of homemade and I don't regret it one bit. It's good stuffing.

  • This is the first year we had a separate table for the kids. It worked fine and it was nice being able to set the adult table without using any plastic plates or sippy cups.

  • I made sure to have a new set of plastic containers on hand so it was easy to get together a bag of leftovers for our guests.


The Bad

  • It's very difficult to coordinate the making of four side dishes without a double oven or a warming area. I have to work on this aspect of dinner to avoid serving cold side dishes.

  • I started cooking too late in the day. Next year I will have all of the side dishes cooked and in baking dishes well before the guests arrive. Then I will warm up some in the microwave and others in the oven.

  • Note to self: marshmallow topping only takes SECONDS to brown under a broiler. I barely saved the sweet potatoes this year -- the topping looks burnt in the photos, but it tasted good, like a campfire marshmallow.


The Turkey

  • The turkey was Diestal Ranch free-range, and we ordered it smoked (instead of roasted). It was really good. The kids enjoyed it, too.


Dinner is served
Click to see more photos from Thanksgiving 2006!


***

Creamy Brussels Sprouts
from: Better Homes and Gardens magazine, November 2006

For a green bean side dish, substitute 2 pounds of green beans for the Brussels sprouts, and reduce the baking time to 15 to 18 minutes.

* Nonstick cooking spray
* 1 medium onion, quartered and thinly sliced
* 3 cloves garlic, minced
* 3 tablespoons butter
* 2 pounds Brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved, or green beans, trimmed
* 1 teaspoon snipped fresh thyme or 1 /4 teaspoon dried thyme, crushed
* 3/4 cup reduced-sodium chicken broth
* 3/4 cup whipping cream
* 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
* 1/2 cup finely shredded Parmesan cheese or Pecorino Romano cheese
* 1/4 teaspoon salt
* 1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper

1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Lightly coat a 1 1/2-quart oval gratin baking dish or baking dish with nonstick cooking spray.

2. In a 12-inch skillet cook onion and garlic in butter over medium heat for 3 minutes or until softened.

3. Stir in Brussels sprouts and thyme. Cook for 4 minutes or until onions begin to brown.

4. Add broth. Bring to boiling. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 3 to 4 minutes or until broth is nearly evaporated.

5. Add whipping cream and nutmeg. Cook for 4 minutes or until mixture begins to thicken.

6. Transfer to prepared baking dish. Stir in half of the cheese, all of the salt, and pepper. Sprinkle with remaining cheese.

7. Bake, uncovered, 20 to 25 minutes or until Brussels sprouts are tender.

Makes 8 to 10 servings.


***
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Thursday, November 23, 2006

 

Day 23: I am What I Ate

Which makes me...

Stuffed!

Happy Thanksgiving, friends and family.

***
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Wednesday, November 22, 2006

 

Day 22: Because the Moon

After a crazy start to the week, things mellowed out considerably today. I did my Thanksgiving shopping this morning, then Rosa came over to watch the kids and I was able to spend the rest of the day working on my mothers club newsletter and writing. My novel is now over 40,000 words, and I just might be able to finish by my self-imposed deadline of November 25 if I put in some quality writing time on Friday and Saturday.

I think it was Badger that got me thinking about the poetry of spam emails. Some of them are really well written, considering they're not "written" at all. I like this piece of one I got today:


because the Moon
was like, he had once
because the Moon



For some reason, it got me thinking about being pregnant with Thomas. Here's a picture of me from two years ago:

38 weeks pregnant with Thomas -- November 20, 2004


We certainly have a lot to celebrate and be thankful for tomorrow and every day.

***
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Tuesday, November 21, 2006

 

Day 21: Oh, the Torture

I just don't feel like doing this tonight. I'm sorry.

Here's a picture of my daughter Emily at preschool. Thomas and I joined her today for a pre-Thanksgiving feast. It was fun.



The landscaping finished today; the fence was completed yesterday. Things are happening. That's cool.

Goodnight.

***
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Monday, November 20, 2006

 

Day 20: One Wonderful Meme

I found this over at Angry Pregnant Lawyer, and thought, Hey, what a great thing to do for day 20 of NaBloPoMo!

The One Word Meme

Yourself: Busy
Your partner: Amazing
Your hair: Straight
Your Mother: Generous
Your Father: Quiet
Your Favorite Item: Laptop
Your dream last night: Forgotten
Your Favorite Drink: Champagne
Your Dream Car: Motorcycle
Your Dream Home: Penthouse
The Room You Are In: Office
Your Ex: Friend
Your fear: Failure
Where you Want to be in Ten Years? Paradise
Who you hung out with last night: Family
What You're Not: Shy
Muffins: Big
One of Your Wish List Items: Peace
Time: Evening
The Last Thing You Did: Ate
What You Are Wearing: Sweater
Your favorite weather: Warm
Your Favorite Book: The Secret Garden
Last thing you ate: Tuna
Your Life: Good
Your mood: Improving
Your Best Friends: Moms
What are you thinking about right now: Life
Your car: Sweet
What are you doing at the moment: Writing
Your summer: Full
Relationship status: Married
What is on your TV: News
What is the weather like: Fall
When is the last time you laughed: Earlier

NaNoWriMo update I'm behind at 36, 269 words and tonight I have a board meeting to attend. It will be a miracle if I can write 3,000+ words after I get home at 10, but I'm certainly going to try!

***
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Sunday, November 19, 2006

 

Day 19: Back to Basics

Um.

Today I woke up, had coffee, and hung around with my mother-in-law and kids for a bit. I went jogging, and when I can home I made scrambled eggs with feta cheese and a piece of toast, no butter.

Then I wrote 2000 words of my horrible NaNoWriMo-induced novel. Lucky for me my heroine just went crazy so for the next 14,000 words, anything goes!

After preparing and eating a lunch of leftover Chinese food, I took a shower and got dressed:

11-19-06
I'm shiny 'cause I'm hot.


After that I went to Target and bought the following: diapers, dishwashing soap, a pair of red corduroy pants size 2T, Tide, dryer sheets that smelled pretty, tape, and a bunch of random food items like crackers and juice.

I came home and put the items away and made dinner: penne pasta salad with andouille sausage, Sonoma Jack cheese cubes, corn, and red onion; CPK frozen thin-crust pizza with tomatoes and cheese; green beans; corn. I served it with chardonnay and crying children.

I honestly don't remember what happened between the hours of 6:00 and now. At one point, Emily and Teddy both wanted the same toy. Time passed.

I'm putting myself to sleep with this blog entry. So long, farewell, auf wiedersehn, goodbye...

***
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Saturday, November 18, 2006

 

Day 18: Notes of a Dirty Old Mom*

Happy Saturday. Blogging every day is hard.

La-z-boy
The La-z-boy arrived. I mean the chair.


Alex, Jennie, Jewel, Bear
Tutu Jewel arrived from Texas. I must be drunk because I'm letting her dog sleep in the house.


Teddy
This is her dog. Before I let him in the house.


Jennie wearing Alex
Auntie Jennie, Uncle Nick, and Baby Alex visited. Alex is the best baby ever; Jennie is a natural mom. Check out that baby wearing action!


NaNoWriMo update I'm at a little over 34K. I think I'll try drunken novel writing tonight and see what happens.

*Thank you, Charles Bukowski.

***
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Friday, November 17, 2006

 

Day 17: In Good Company

Even though I've now got two neighbors irked about the brand new, beautiful fence that is being built between our yards--yes, the lovely fence that's replacing the 45-year-old falling down fence--I do have three small rays of joy penetrating the dark cloud that can only come from having an 80-year-old man yelling at me at 9 in the morning about the fact that there's dirt on his moss.

*Deep breath*

The three rays of joy are:


  • Rosa is here taking excellent care of my children. I am sequestered in my office with a cup of coffee on my desk, a day to call my own, and my NaNoWriMo novel at 30,210 words. My blood pressure is lowering already.

  • Both the fence and the landscaping will be done by Thanksgiving. Half of the landscaping is already complete; the guys came yesterday and planted my precious and beautiful Japanese maples. In just another week this particular hell will be over, and I will be left alone in my heaven of a backyard with a solid fence sheltering me from my crabby neighbors who hate change.

  • Laurie Toby Edison and Deb Notkin of Body Impolitic are presenting the 27th Carnival of Feminists and they included my post Guilty Mommy Doesn't Live Here Anymore. What an honor to be in such company as Liza Sabater of CultureKitchen, Kris of Wonder Mom, Erin of A Dress a Day, and all the other great writers featured in Laurie and Deb's roundup. Once in awhile, I really get this blogging thing right. Thank you, Laurie and Deb.


***
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Thursday, November 16, 2006

 

Day 16: The Adventure Continues

Today's our anniversary! 4 years and counting. As the card I got for Mike puts it, The Adventure Continues... And how convenient that we're celebrating on Love Thursday!

Here are some pictures from our wedding, which took place in the living room of our old condo. The bride wore red, and you can't see her, but itty bitty Emily is in all of our pictures at roughly ten weeks gestation.

moms
Without the moms, none of this would have happened.


dads
I suppose the dads deserve a little credit, too.


Backyard update The fence continues to be built. Meanwhile, the landscapers have arrived and are putting in the trees and plants along the back fence, which is already done. Crazy cool! It's so satisfying to see all of this work happen and this project come together. Pictures soon, I promise.

NaNoWriMo update 28,974 words as of 11:00 PM last night. If I can make it to 32,000 today I'll be back on track to finish on the 25th of November, no problem.

***
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Wednesday, November 15, 2006

 

Day 15: Insert Witty Headline Here

Today was supposed to be the day that I get all caught up on my writing and instead it turned out to be the day that I went to a meeting, then spent hours dealing with a neighbor and our fence contractor over the wood that the fence contractor used for the kickboard of our fence.

Please, stop me if I'm boring you to tears.

At least the fence company just called and told me they'll re-do the fence they've already put up with no extra labor charge. All that to change the kickboard wood to pressure treated at an extra cost of $1.00/linear foot. I really wish they had quoted me the more expensive wood in the beginning. The total additional charge is less than $100. My headache must be worth at least half that.

Based on my reaction to this minor fence glitch, I wonder if I could ever handle a remodel or building a house from the ground up. If you ever catch me writing, talking, or even *thinking* about remodeling, remind me of this blog post.

On a positive note, I've passed the halfway mark on my novel for NaNoWriMo! It's all downhill from here, and that's a good thing. Unfortunately, I have 4500 words to write tonight to remain on schedule. Doing NaNoWriMo makes me feel like I'm constantly behind. I am really looking forward to day 25 when I can put a _final extension on my Word doc and call it done.

Wishing Tutu Honeygram well as she journeys here from Texas with Teddy the three-legged wonder dog!

***
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Tuesday, November 14, 2006

 

All They Want for Christmas is a Deluxe Scooter Board Ramp

Leelo's potty-mouthed mom Squid is counting on the power of the blogosphere. Won't you help her? She's raising money to pay for a Deluxe Scooter Board Ramp for Leelo's special ed/occupational therapy department. You can straight donate any amount or purchase a handmade Leelo coloring book at $20 each. Squid writes, "The books feature the bold lines and simple rhymes that Leelo and his friends enjoy, plus scenes that will make any parent--but especially parents of autistic children--chuckle (or sigh) in recognition. All proceeds will go towards the ramp."

Squid's post on her quest is here.
Her donation page is here.

She's cool. And she can draw a mean comic book, too.

***

And while you're feeling all happy from your donation, you also can help out Hattie over at Motherpie. She's set up a blogging survey as part of her graduate media study research project on blogs. she writes, "This is all part of a larger study building on my previous and ongoing research and studies. I will make my research results available in late January and through the spring on my MotherPie blog."

Hattie's blogging survey is here.

***

And if you're not feeling too happy, I'll let you know if these Happy Camper pills I picked up at Whole Foods work. Wouldn't it be nice if they did? I might be nice if they did.

Happy Camper
I'll try anything once. Or twice.


***
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Monday, November 13, 2006

 

Enough about me, let's talk about me

I saw a friend tonight who told me she read about my blog in last month's San Francisco magazine. I played it all cool like and went, "Oh ya, I'll have to try and track down a copy..."

And then of course I ran home and immediately started a frantic Google search for some/any mention of my blog in the online archives of San Francisco magazine. Please, people, I'm a blogger. We're vain. Trust me.

And then I found it!

It was a mention in the Snap Judgements section of the September 2006 issue of San Francisco magazine. (Just in case, uh, you maybe have a copy lying around. You know.) I quote:


"Blogging is by its very nature self-indulgent, but blogging about your kids takes it to a new level. Berkeley writer Ayelet Waldman ignited the burgeoning mommy blogger community with her comment in the New York Times last year that writing about one’s children “is narcissism in its most obscene flowering.” Not surprisingly, she gave up her seminal mommy blog soon after. Nonetheless, the Bay Area has dozens of mommy blogs now. On Mom Writes, Mary Tsao argues that, being “a selfless person in the service of small children who demand juice almost incessantly,” there’s very little in her life that’s about her except for her blog."


As somebody who poured 5 juice cups and made 2 chocolate milks before 10 AM this morning, I am going to have to agree with that statement.

There's also a mention of my fellow mommybloggers Jenny Lauck of Three Kid Circus and Mommybloggers and Grace Davis of State of Grace and Marathon Mom.

Neat. I might just have to get a subscription to that magazine.

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Sunday, November 12, 2006

 

Day 12: It's a little like the plot of a movie

A friend asked me how the writing thing (NaNoWriMo and NaBloPoMo) was going. I think I lied and said, "okay." After thinking about it for a bit, I realized that it was a little bit like the plot of the movie Groundhog Day. For example, right now my 2,000 NaNo words are written and this blog post satisfies the NaBloPoMo requirement. Cool. I will go to bed tonight feeling good about my accomplishments.

And then tomorrow morning I will wake up to do this all.over.again. AHHHH!!!

It's going like that.

Here's a picture of my cousin David. He is visiting from New Mexico. Hi, David!

David


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Saturday, November 11, 2006

 

Day 11: FlyLady Was in My 'Hood!

NaNoWriMo update: Word count: 22,160. I'll be at the halfway mark on Monday. My story just took an exciting turn when Susan Sugerman's therapist Dr. Young invited her to an intensive therapy retreat at a therapist's cooperative retreat center in Sonoma. Because those kinds of places exist, right? I can't tell you what's going to happen when they're there because I have absolutely no idea. Maybe they'll get it on. Who can say?

Today Emily and I went to a local expo center for a Women's Health and Wellness Fair. I didn't realize it, but the real attraction was none other than Marla Cilly, aka: FlyLady! She gave a presentation, which I missed, but then she spent hours signing books for a line of women that snaked through the aisles. Emily and I circled her table several times and got a good look at her. She's pretty! It was moving to see all of the women whose lives have been changed by that one woman. She's got fans, that's for sure. I didn't bother trying to wait for an autograph; Emily would have gone nuts in that line.

And we ran into a friend, J from bad mom's coffee! She was there to see FlyLady and we chatted about the presentation that I missed. She said it was good, unscripted and moving. I'm sorry that I missed it.

Here's a good picture I took today of Emily. She's my girl.

Smiling, happy

Friday, November 10, 2006

 

NaNoWriMo Day 10: If only I had an attic to clean

NaNoWriMo is kicking my butt in a really odd way. Because I have this &%^$#*# 50,000 word novel to write, it's all of a sudden EXTREMELY important that I take care of household chores that I've been meaning to do for weeks, months, heck, years!

I guess I'm bummed, but I'm also kind of stoked. So ya, I'm 2,000 words behind on my novel and right at this moment I'm procrastinating writing them because... well, because I can. But I'm no longer procrastinating on getting the new fence put in; work starts on Monday. And the landscaping will be finished shortly after that. Last week I picked out the trees, and I confirmed his time with the lanscaper today.

The project I started over a year ago will be done by Thanksgiving.

And then there's Mike's home office makeover, which is suddenly almost complete. He took it upon himself last weekend to get his desk in order, and there's now very little left for me to do. I've got a teeny bit of painting and two curtain panels to hem. His leather La-z-boy recliner will be delivered next week, and then I'll definitely put up new pictures. His office has been a problem area since we moved in over two years ago, and I first started blogging about tackling it sometime in the spring.

Nothing like wrapping up a six-month project during the month I'm also writing a novel.

What about Thanksgiving? Oh, I've planned out our Thanksgiving menu, invited family to our house, and ordered the turkey. And Christmas? Girl, my office closet is already loaded with Christmas presents, and yesterday I won my Ebay auction for Emily's dollhouse (Shh! Don't say anything!)

Too bad Thanksgiving is still weeks away and Christmas won't happen until next month.

And did I mention that today we had our Holiday photo taken? I picked out clothes for the family (coordinated, but not too matchy-matchy), freaked out when Thomas hid my mascara, and cried just a little bit when Emily got "accidentally poked" this morning and ended up with a slight black eye. But then my fabulous photographer friend came to our house and took 150 pictures of my beautiful family (If not, there's always Photoshop), which means my ultimate yearly project--the making of the Holiday card--is underway and off to a great start.

Weeks ahead of schedule.

And all of this means that after I'm done writing this blog post, there will be nothing left for me to do except work on that crappy novel of mine.

Darn.

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Thursday, November 09, 2006

 

Love Thursday: Guilty Mommy Doesn't Live Here Anymore

Moms and dads, do me a favor. Raise your right hand, bring it around to your left shoulder, and slap that puppy up and down. That's right, you deserve a giant pat on the back.

Why? No reason. And lots of reasons. How about for the fact that your kids ate today? That you had snacks at the playground? Or that you had snacks for your friend's kid when she ran out of the house without any? (Thanks, Leslie!)

How about for the fact that your kids have clothes and shoes? I might be going out on a limb here, but I'm betting that they do.

How about for the fact that your kids are loved? And for the fact that you take care of them the best that you can, which I'm sure is a lot better than you give yourself credit for.

How about for all of the poop and pee you cleaned up today, whether it was in a diaper, down a leg, or on the floor? Yes, you definitely deserve a pat on the back for all the cleaning up you do.

How about for all those boo-boos you've kissed, hugs you've shared, and tears you've wiped? Not to mention all of those stories you've read over and over again until you were dreaming of red and blue fish.

And what about for all of the paperwork and organizing you do every day? Your schedule juggling and calendar filling would boggle the mind of most humans.

How about for all of those times you were in the middle of writing a life-changing blog post when you were interrupted four times: once for juice, once for chocolate milk, once for goldfish crackers, and once to put on Dora the Explorer? Ya, you know what I'm talking about.

How about for that time when your kids found your secret stash of Double Chocolate Milanos and instead of screaming, you shared them?

How about for all of those times you had change in your purse or diaper bag for the fountain?

I'm sure you won't have to think too hard to come up with a reason why you deserve a pat on the back. Go ahead! Allow me to demonstrate:

Raise your right hand
Raise your right hand.


Bring it to your left shoulder
Bring it to your left shoulder.


Up
Up


Down
Down


Up
Up


Down
Down


Happy Love Thursday!

***
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Wednesday, November 08, 2006

 

NaNoWriMo Day 8: Yesterday, all this novel stuff seemed so far away

As promised, here are some pictures from yesterday. It was only a mildly guilt-inducing day for me, as defined by the following:

Very guilt-inducing: This is a day when the kids and I don't leave the house. They spend more hours than I care to count watching TV, and the only physical exercise they get involves jumping up and down on the couch or crying for more juice.

Mildly guilt-inducing: This is a day when the kids and I leave the house, but the only exercise they get is at indoor play structures contained within fast food restaurants or malls. Because mommy much prefers playgrounds that are located by retail therapy outlets.

No guilt whatsoever: This is a day when the kids and I leave the house and explore the great outdoors. We might go to the beach or to a playground, a hiking trail, or an outdoor amusement park ideally suited for the toddler set. On an ideal outing, every need has been predetermined or anticipated and accomodations are provided for as necessary. We do not run out of diapers, juice, or snacks, and we have any/all extra clothes, blankets, strollers, change for parking meters, good parking mojo, whatever. At the end of the day, we are tired and dirty and ready for bed.

Yesterday was a mildly guilt-inducing day because we were out almost all day but our excursions centered around errands, a fast food lunch, and a shopping expedition to IKEA to scout out a kitchen table:

Thomas at the polling place
Thomas at the polls


Then some light grocery shopping
We go grocery shopping more often than I care to think about.


Lunch at McDonalds. At least they had apple slices.
Yes, I let my kids eat McDonald's. Actually, I encourage it.


Kitchen chair candidate #1
Somebody needs to knock some sense into me for even contemplating white suede kitchen chairs.


Thomas decides he likes broccoli
Thomas evens out the flora of his small intestine with a liberal application of broccoli on top of his McDonald's.


On second thought, I'll have to add that yesterday wasn't really guilt-inducing because I did take Thomas with me to vote and also I managed to sneak in some Christmas presents on the IKEA trip. Early Christmas shopping is super mom material, for sure. Plus, my kids ate broccoli for dinner, which surely cancels out the effects of their fast food lunch.

***

NaNoWriMo update: 13,752 words. Only a teeny bit behind schedule, but I'll make up for it today since Rosa is here watching my kiddos. Thank you, goddess of childcare! Charlene of Crazed Parent asked in comments if I would reveal some of my plot line. This is a good idea because it might actually help me to realize what my plot is, too. So here goes:

The Novel (working title) is the tale (saga? story?) of Susan Sugarman, a suburban housewife who has decided to try therapy to help her with her modern-day anxiety and angst. Her psychiatrist, Dr. Young, thinks the key to her present problems is held within a journal that Susan wrote when she was nineteen. Will the journal's secrets unlock the door to Susan's past? Or are some secrets better left hidden and some doors better left closed?

Dum dum de dum.

So the pitfalls to this plot are that I've never been in therapy so I have no idea if the dialogue between Susan and Dr. Young is believable. But who cares; in general it's the kind of story I find easy to write for NaNoWriMo because it goes back and forth between past and present so there are lots of opportunity for plot twists and continuity of storyline.

Also, I'm still working on what the "big secret" will be. I'm thinking of trying to tie in a modern-day affair with a past history of being a sex addict along with a family member dying of AIDS. Sex! Death! Illicit affairs! Alcohol abuse! Really, all the makings of a great novel. Or at the very least, something that will get me to the 50,000 word finish line by November 25.

***
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Tuesday, November 07, 2006

 

Don't forget to vote!

U.S. readers: Don't forget to vote!

I'm on my way over to my polling place now. Mike just took Emily to preschool, and I'm spending the morning with my little guy. I've decided to document our morning with photographs, which I'll put up later today. We have quite an exciting morning planned! First, I'll teach the little guy all about the democratic process, then we'll go shopping for groceries and diapers. After that, who knows what adventures life will bring.

vote
Don't forget to vote!


NaNoWriMo update: I made my word count yesterday, and I'm back on track with a current word count of 12,196. I'm finding it easier to get the story out now... a tiny bit of a plot is revealing itself. Cool. I'm almost one quarter of the way done. That thought makes me very happy.

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Monday, November 06, 2006

 

Blogging the blues away

[Updated: I did it! Word count is now at 12,196. I'm back on track! Feels good.]

I've got the blahs, the blues, whatever you want to call them. I hate arguing with Mike; it tends to bring in a cloud of hurt feelings and silence that lingers for days.

I'm glad that the kids and I have nothing planned for the day. I am working on my novel and they're making foam sticker placemats. The sun is streaming in through the windows and the sky is blue. I have thoughts of Thanksgiving on my mind. I'm going to do a combination of buying ready-made food and cooking this year. I'll order a cooked turkey from Whole Foods and make several side dishes. I'm thinking the old favorites but with a twist: sour cream and chive mashed potatoes, creamy brussels sprouts... Yum. Not sure yet if I'll make or buy the pie; there doesn't seem to be much difference between store-bought and homemade pumpkin.

Isn't it amazing that it's almost Thanksgiving? I've spent the last three days at local artisan craft festivals so I've made a good dent in my Christmas shopping, too. Last week I went to a local event called Dickens House, which is a benefit to raise money for a private grade school. A team of amazing moms from the school takes a local home (a nice one) and has it completely redecorated. Then they fill every room with things to buy: objects d'art, picture frames, candles, specialty food items, toys and stuffed animals. It's an amazing event.

Yesterday, Emily and I went to the Harvest Festival in San Francisco. This is a gathering of lots of different artisans and crafts people. They also had food and entertainment, including a magician and a local clogging group. The cloggers were wild! Michael's craft store sponsored a craft table for the kids, and Emily made Thomas a custom door knob hanging. Shhhh! Don't tell him!

The only drawback to shopping for Christmas presents at crafts festivals is that I usually find an equal number of gifts for myself, too. Yesterday I bought the most amazing necklace and earrings made out of polished shell by an artisan out of Capitola. I'll have to take a picture and post it. As soon as I'm over the guilt.

Okay, I feel better already. Writing does wonders for the soul. Thanks for your feedback and suggestions about the money issue, too. I know that I overreacted yesterday. Hopefully I can cook my way back into Mike's heart with a good meal tonight.

I've got to get working on my novel. 5,000 words today or bust to bring my word count up to 12,000. Wish me luck!

***
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Sunday, November 05, 2006

 

The hard part about blogging every day

I would have to say that the hard part about blogging every day is not succumbing to the urge to completely and totally lambast my partner.

All I have to say is that mine's got Ikea taste, and I've got Design Within Reach dreams. Sometimes I think arguing about money would be easier if I actually had a job and a salary. As it is, I don't feel I've got a kitchen table leg to stand on. And I mean that literally.

Grumble. grumble. GRUMBLE!

NaNoWriMo update. Here's my confessions: I'm behind. My heart doesn't feel in it; I wonder if I give a shit about this project. I'm pretty sure I don't except for my desire to finish what I started. Tune in tomorrow to see if I've written 5,000 words or not. C'mon, Monday, do me right, baby!

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Saturday, November 04, 2006

 

Swirl, tap, and buff, people

People, I have broken down, given up, and crossed over to the other side. Yesterday, I bought a box of make-up. Yes, literally, a box full of colored powders and brushes. I have watched the DVD that came with my box of goodies, and I now can say that I am an expert in the fine art of applying the Bare Escentuals line of bareMinerals make-up.

It's all about swirl, tapp, and buff.

Do you know the stuff I'm talking about? Hey, I just watched a DVD that has me convinced that wearing Bare Escentuals make-up is better for your skin than wearing no make-up at all. Am I the last person on Earth to own these fine products? I'm not sure if I'm going to wear this make-up every day, but it's nice knowing that when I want to look "like me but better" I can. I have the tools, people.

P.S. They did not pay me to write that nor did I receive any free products. Imagine that.

Also, I had a good experience at my local Sephora store and I would like to give a shout out to Sephora in Burlingame. Ya'll are nice! They didn't even laugh or snicker when I confessed my ignorance of all things make-up.

NaBloPoMo update You're looking at it.

NaNoWriMo update 7,091 words. If I can make it to 10,000 tomorrow, I'll be on track. Right now, it's feeling a little bit like torture. I think I remember this feeling from last year.

***
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Friday, November 03, 2006

 

Blog and Vote: No on California Proposition 85

I'm going to interrupt my mindless NaNoWriMo-induced NaBloPoMo blogging to help get the word out to California bloggers and voters about Proposition 85.

I just got off a conference call with Margaret C. Crosby, an attorney with the ACLU. The conference call was put together by Stefania Pomponi Butler of CityMama. Thanks, Stefania! Crosby spoke to a group of bloggers about Proposition 85.

In a nutshell, Prop 85 "would prohibit abortions for California teens until 48 hours after their parents have been notified." Pregnant teenage girls who didn't feel they could go to their family for this consent would be forced to try and obtain a court order from a judge. That's just ridiculous. What teenager (especially one who may come from an abusive home and doesn't feel comfortable talking with her own parents about her pregnancy and desire to have an abortion) would go into court and make an appointment to see a judge to explain her situation? Please.

I am pro-choice. I'm open with this opinion and I've blogged about it before. I'm not writing this post to try and argue my stance or to change your opinion if you are not pro-choice. Rather, I am doing what I can to alert my pro-choice California readers to a ballot initiative that you may not know about because of this year's--as Crosby puts it--"cluttered ballot."

If there's any way I can change your mind and get you to vote pro-choice when you otherwise wouldn't have, that's great, too.

My blood pressure rises just thinking about the ludicracy of the process that would be put in place by this proposition. And as a pro-choice advocate, I also fear what would happen if California fails to defeat this initiative. We are a pro-choice state and also one of the largest. What further erosion of our freedoms, perhaps even on a nationwide level, would occur if we allow this proposition to pass? It frightens me to think what future generations of young women might have to do to avoid having to deal with parental consent or with a judicial review. Illegal abortions, unwanted pregnancies... to me, these things aren't preferred to the idea that teenage girls deserve the right to decide what's best for them and to receive the medical care they need.

If we want to help young women, we would have more opportunities for them in our schools, churches, and youth centers to discuss their sexuality with trained professionals who can give guidance about birth control or abstinence.

I'm joining fellow mommybloggers Stefania Pomponi Butler of CityMama, Squid of leelo and his potty-mouthed mom, and Karianna of Kari's Couch to urge you to vote no on Prop 85. And if you believe that this proposition should be defeated and you are comfortable blogging about it, please do. Please know that Mommybloggers are a political force; we just don't always use the power that we have.

***
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Thursday, November 02, 2006

 

Busy day, quick update, lots of love

I'm on track with my NaNoWriMo project. I am calling this year's novel The Novel, and yesterday I wrote 2000 delightfully crappy words. I'll do the same tonight after dinner. I might even go to a local NaNoWriMo meet-up and write-in, although the likelihood that I stay home and write while lounging in my jammies is pretty high. It's raining here, which is nice, and it feels like a night to stay in and tap tap away while sipping hot chocolate.

As you can tell from this post, I also am on track with NaBloPoMo. Two pats on the back for me.

Let's see... Want to know what's up with our backyard? Well, we're replacing our fence in two weeks and today I put a deposit down and signed a contract for our perimeter landscaping. How exciting! We're going to have a combination of birch and Japanese Maple trees interspersed with lavender and grasses and other neat plants. And yes, "neat" is a latin word that means low-maintenance, child-friendly, and black thumb-resistant.

And as far as Love Thursday goes, I love this girl:

Boogle


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Wednesday, November 01, 2006

 

My idea of bloggity perfection on this the first day of NaBloPoMo

The Original Perfect Post AwardsI almost didn't get my act together to participate in October's Perfect Post Awards sponsored by Lucinda of Suburban Turmoil and MommaK of Petroville. But then I remembered that today is the start of both NaNoWriMo and NaBloPoMo, and I need to be uber on top of things this month. Also, I really wanted to highlight the following post and tell you what I think is perfect about it.

I am awarding Stefania Pomponi Butler of CityMama and her post Meeting Elizabeth Edwards.

*Roar of applause*

I like Stefania's post not because it prominently features a picture of Yours Truly (although that is a nice touch, isn't it?), but because Stefania was able to very accurately describe the meeting between the mommybloggers and Elizabeth Edwards. And I should know because I was there. It's difficult to blog about events and meetings after the fact; for me it feels like poking a sharp stick in my eye. So I definitely admire the great job Stefania did of capturing the details as well as the essence of the event. I particularly like how she described Elizabeth and our meeting in this paragraph:


"She asked questions and answered questions and it was weird. It wasn't like what you would think meeting with someone so famous would be like. I've met some big shots and am never much impressed with them in person. But Elizabeth Edwards felt like one of us. I mean, just look back at the photo. Is there any doubt that she interested and engaged in what Mary is saying? Look at her easy smile exuding warmth. She is really listening. At that moment, she felt like a mommy blogger and her blog was called Saving Graces and here it was in front of us in book form. She was never once dismissive or haughty. She let us bubble over with excitement and interrupt her and, well, it felt like a three martini playdate 'cept without the kids and without the martinis."


All I can add is, "What she said!"

I also liked Stefania's post because it contains a great book review of Elizabeth's book Saving Graces.

Thanks for the perfect post, Stefania, and for helping me to start NaBloPoMo with this post.

***
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