Monday, November 22, 2010

Elissa at Nine Months

Today, my little Ellie Bear turned nine months old - and on the actual day of the week on which she was born, too :)  So I thought this occasion warranted a brief update on how she's doing, especially since we just conducted a round of checkups coinciding with this milestone. So there's lots to share!

Our first visit, about a week ago, was to Dr. Doody at Mass General.  He's the pediatric surgeon who performed the ECMO procedure (and basically, you know, saved her life).  We always like to see him.  The visit was just a quick check in to look at her scars, listen to her lungs, and just see how she's doing.  He was impressed that she's never even had a cold and also that she tried to steal his stethoscope.  Hey, if you're going to dangle shiny things in front of the kid's face, it's bound to happen.  She got an A+.

Friday, November 19, 2010


With the deadline for National Novel Writing Month looming and me behind on my word count, it's hard not to think about all the things I've left unfinished in the past.  I don't like to talk about these things because I'd prefer it if everyone thought, "Oh wow, that girl's got amazing follow through!"  Because when you're a kid you always hear, "You can do anything you put your mind too!"

Well, I put my mind to a lot of things and sometimes I get distracted.  I've had a lot of failed blogs, lots of false starts on new novels, and I have an entire file folder dedicated to empty documents with really great short story titles.  Do I get bored? Am I obsessed with the feeling that newness brings? How easily am I seduced by novelty?

Thinking about failure like this is a quick way to make a girl depressed, let me tell you.  If you sum my life up as a resume of things I started and didn't finished, it wouldn't fit on one page... also, it'd be the lamest resume ever created in the history of man.  Does the resume of things I have completed stand up?

But in my usual fickle way, one that Pollyanna would be proud to have inspired, I eventually turn to look at things like this from a positive perspective.  After all, everything has a light side... clouds with silver linings and what not.  Cliches aside, I can probably say that I start more than most people.  So I don't finish everything. Who can?  I do the best I can and I know when to cut my losses or shift gears or whatever you want to call it.

If I look at that list of started novels--According to Bogart, Garden Variety, Returning Phoebe, Remaking Mackenzie, Superheroes (there's a winner... ugh), or Rent This (oh, college)--at least I can be proud that I opened up a document and started typing.  Not all words need to have a destination, they're all part of the journey.

Ooh! Can I use that line in a book somewhere?

Anyway, I hope you see my point.  If you've got a 100% completion rate but you've only ever started two or three things in your entire life, is that better than a 25% completion rate when you've started two or three hundred things?  Ask Tom Brady, I'd bet he'd rather throw the ball more often than not, even if Wes Welker can't get underneath it every time.  Because who knows which one of those will be a touchdown pass?

Maybe I just need to work on my aim.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Adult Contact, Optional

My life has changed drastically since 2009, and not just in the ways I expected.  I went from a fairly social, working full-time out of the home mother-to-be to what I am today and it hasn't even been nine months.  It's enough to make your head spin, if you think about it.

Before I had a baby, there were so many things I didn't understand.  You can't just take the baby everywhere you go.  You can't make a child take a nap. You can't explain to an eight-month-old that pulling hair and biting are considered rude in your culture, and many others.  You also can't explain work, chores, and what in the bloody hell a laptop is used for... cuz it's certainly not for eating.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Multi-tasking: The Secret to a Happy Mom

I was good at multi-tasking before I became a Mom.  I could do my homework while I watched a Pats game.  I could talk on the phone and paint my toenails.  Hell, I could even walk and chew gum at the same time.

But when you're as pressed for time as I often find myself these days, multi-tasking isn't just a skill that's nice to have. It suddenly becomes a necessity, if you ever plan to accomplish anything for yourself.  People ask me how I'm finding the time to write professionally, write fiction for fun, parent, cook, review all the DVDs in our collection one by one, do the laundry, and walk the dog.  The secret is simple: I never do any one of those things, I do several at the same time.

A typical day in my house is filled with combination task completion.  A movie plays on the TV (for me to review later) while Ellie plays on the floor with her hearing aids in, Penny eats her breakfast, and Mommy folds some laundry.  When Ellie naps, I cook breakfast for myself while also cleaning the kitchen, making bottles, watching a movie, and opening the mail.  By the time four o'clock hits, I'm pretty tired... but that's when my time starts.

When Mike gets home, the multi-tasking doesn't stop, it just takes on a new purpose. It's for me.  Instead of passing out, as I always want to do, I grab my iPod and a pad and paper and go to the gym.  Yes, I take a notebook to the gym.  Why? That's valuable brainstorming time, my friends.  My neighbors think I'm strange, jogging on the treadmill while jotting down haphazard phrases like "they look like sisters" or "why doesn't he want the hot chick?" Amazingly, I can always manage to read them later.  You probably couldn't read them, but I can figure it out.

That notebook helps me jumpstart my writing for the night after Ellie goes to bed.  When I finally sit down in a peaceful, quiet house and I'm the only one awake, that's when I write a movie review, while checking my email, balancing my bank account, formatting a query letter, and researching articles.  I think my brain is happier when it's doing more than one thing at a time.

That's lucky for me, since my brain probably doesn't have a choice right now.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

NaNoWriMo is Not a Disease...

But it is an affliction.

Seriously, though, some people have been asking what NaNoWriMo is all about. What does it stand for? What do you have to do? And most importantly, why am I doing this to myself? (Again?)

NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month.  Basically, a bunch of people around the world hold aside the month of November to write out the entire first draft of a novel.  It can be about anything or anyone. It doesn't have to be good. It just has to be 50,000 words or more and completed between November 1-30. That's 50,000 words in 30 days... roughly 1667 words per day.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Like Father, Like Daughter

When I was growing up, I remember hearing my mom say "your sister is too much like me." I thought it was an odd thing to say back then. I mean, if she's so like you, wouldn't you understand each other really well? Get along great? As a kid, you think sharing certain personality traits will bring people together. 

I also remember that Paula Abdul song "Opposites Attract." That was my introduction to the concept that surrounding yourself with people who are different from you is a good thing.  I thought about the parent-child relationship in this context, and thought, "OK, maybe this applies."  But Paula and Scat Cat were singing about romantic relationships, right? So maybe not.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Shifting Schedules

Once upon a time, my daily schedule was like most peoples'.  Get up in the morning, go to work, come home and have dinner, watch some TV, maybe go for a walk, then go to bed.  It worked out well for me, since I've always considered myself to be a morning person.  I always do my best work before lunch, so I'd get to work and go full-steam, then slow down in the afternoon. After dinner, that was it for me.  I'd just unwind and call it a night.

And now, things are different.  I know what you're thinking, "a baby changes everything." Right. I know. It is true. But in this case, it's not so much the baby that's changing my schedule. It's working from home.  I guess really, it's working from home around caring for a baby.  And by necessity, I'm now a night person... and I have no idea how I've forced this physiological change on my body.