Tuesday, March 30, 2010


When String Bean was three months old, I took her into work to show her around. I’d decided to make my maternity leave permanent and needed to sign some paperwork, and everyone had been asking when they’d get to see her. She was a fussy baby in general, a mama’s girl who wanted nothing to do with strangers, but on that visit she was surprisingly calm, sleeping through most of it as one coworker after another came by to coo at her. One woman, Mary, one of the funny ones I was sure to miss after quitting, asked how she was sleeping at night. A miraculous thing happened at three months old. String Bean discovered her thumb. Sure, now that her bite is getting messed up from thumb-sucking, it isn’t so cute, not to mention the germs I imagine on her thumb every time I watch her slide it into her mouth. But at three months old, thumb-sucking meant self-soothing, and she suddenly started sleeping in a solid block of five or six hours, what we considered to be “through the night” in our sleep-deprived states.

“Wow, that’s great!” Mary said, “Sleeping through the night already. I don’t think my kids slept through the night consistently until they were eight years old.”

Her comment struck me as funny, an obvious joke. Of course kids sleep through the night before they are eight years old. Don’t they? Well, I have a five-year-old and a three-year-old and I’d say it’s a 50/50 chance each night whether I get a full night’s sleep or have to get up with one of them in the night. Last night I was up with Peanut three times due to nightmares and her generally not feeling well. That’s like having a newborn again. If Mary was right, does that mean I only have three more years of interrupted sleep before I’m only getting up semi-regularly with one child? I certainly hope so. Because I miss it. Sleep.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Sneaky Kids

A little while back String Bean discovered our chocolate stash, and began sneaking downstairs first thing in the morning to eat candy, then hiding the wrappers in her toy box. Not the best hiding place, and I appreciate that, because that’s how I figured out who was responsible for our disappearing candy stash, and why String Bean had gone temporarily insane. Hubby and I suspected something was up, because she was a bit crazier than usual, hyper and argumentative and weepy all at once. Our kids aren’t used to having much sugar, so a little goes a long way with them.

After that I moved the candy, which was for napping/potty using rewards, to a high shelf in the cupboard in the kitchen. A few days later I came home and found chocolate on Peanut’s shirt, and because three-year-olds aren’t very well versed in the art of lying, when I asked where it came from, she told me that she and her sister were sneaking candy while I was out and Grandma and Grandpa were busy downstairs.

I made a great show of packing up all of the candy in the house, leftover holiday candy and Peanut’s M&M reward supply and tossing it all. Well, I didn’t really toss it, I just put it inside a plastic grocery bag and told her I was taking it out to the trash, then hid it in the car until nap time, when I could find a better hiding place. Yes, I have my own sneaky streak. I figure she must’ve believed me, because the tightly latched canister it now lives in, on a high shelf behind the wine opener, hasn’t been disturbed. And the formerly hyper-insane sugar-high kids have returned to their normal state of semi-sanity. But I know String Bean still has her sneaky streak. I’m curious what she’ll be getting into next, and hoping Peanut hasn’t learned how to cover for her yet.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Caring About Everything

The other day, String Bean and Peanut were dividing up a pile of princess toys, which can be a tricky business in our house. We have about a dozen princess dolls of various sizes and styles, so you’d think it’d be easy to divvy them up, but somehow fights still break out over who gets the Belle with the removable shoes versus the Belle with painted-on shoes, and who gets the lone Ariel doll. String Bean was making the tough decisions, carefully doling out dolls, when she took a look at her progress and saw something amiss.

“Can I take this one back?” she asked, and because she asked, rather than just taking the doll, Peanut agreed. Peanut is easy like that. She’ll fight if you snatch anything from her, resorting to biting if necessary to gain the advantage, but if you ask, she almost always gives in.

“Yeah, because you don’t really care, right?” String Bean said to her, “and I care about everything.”

I had to stop making their lunch to laugh at that one. And to make a note to write about it later. Truer words were never spoken. I don’t know what it is about how String Bean’s hard-wired that makes every little thing a monumental big deal, or what it is about Peanut that enables her to let most things go without any hard feelings, but it’s very clearly how they came into the world and not anything I’ve been able to influence one way or another. I remember when my mother would suggest that I be a little more outgoing like my sister, and even though I adored my sister, I hated being compared to her, so I’m careful not to evoke the sister measuring stick aloud between my two girls. But, secretly, I hope that someday Peanut’s laissez-faire attitude rubs off on String Bean, just a little.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

A Writer's Life

Just over four months ago I started my second novel, while my first one is still making rounds among agents, waiting for someone to feel enough of a connection to it to ask to see more than the synopsis or first 50 pages. So far no nibbles on that one, but that hasn’t slowed me down any in writing. Now that I have a good writing schedule set up, I’ve been doing a pretty good job of staying on-task. Which means only the blog has been suffering. Sorry about that.

Anyway, last weekend I finished my second novel, which I probably don’t have to say is a huge, exciting, terrifying thing. And now I get to repeat the process again. I’m doing a full revision right now, smoothing out some bumps in the time-frame of the story and looking for overly conventional word choices to change. Next I’ll use one of my beloved writing nights, when hubby keeps the girls and I duck off to a local hotel for the night, to read the entire thing out loud. It’s my favorite editing tactic, the only way I know to “hear” those old familiar words with fresh ears. Then, I’ll send it to friends I can trust to find my typos, continuity problems, underdeveloped characters, weak points in plot development, and who will hopefully tell me if the ending is a sufficient payoff for the setup (to quote a grad school writing prof of mine). Then comes the synopsis, the query letter, and a list of agents to target with my hopes and dreams for this little work of mine.

But first, I’m going to spend a few more days just looking at the finished product, the collection of files on my computer that make up this little book of mine, and marveling that I’ve managed to write two novels now. The third one is already taking shape in my mind, a little seed that’s just starting to sprout. I don’t know if this new career venture is going to work out for me or not, but I have to say I genuinely love the process, and so I’ll keep it going, until I simply can’t anymore. And maybe, just maybe, I’ll get one (or more) of these novels published.