Thursday, July 29, 2010

Writing Contest

There's this writing blog that I sometimes read when I'm not too busy being brilliant or chasing my toddler out of the bathroom wrapped in toilet paper; and they're having a fun little writing contest. Here's how it works; you choose an item your MC would love to own on this website and write in your MC's voice a 250 word explanation of why he/she wants that item. Then you post your entry in the comments section.


The winner gets $60 toward any purchase on that site. I decided to enter 'cause, why not?

This was my entry:

Reasons why I need that mirror that you mount on an arm thingy and can swivel all around:

1. Ever since I had to cut that wad of gum out of my hair it takes a lot of time and expensive salon grade products to control the wild, mad mess that tragically has become my hair.

2. If I had that swivel mirror I could see my head from all different angles to make sure nothing is sticking up and making me look like one of those stuffed pheasants you see in crappy restaurants that wrongly think a little taxidermy makes them look charming and rustic.

3. Everyone would be happy, except for maybe Mom who thinks I use too much of her mousse and anti-frizz serum. But you can’t expect one little mirror to solve all the world’s problems can you?

The End.

If you think you can do better, you should enter too. Or even if you don't, it's a good writing exercise to get to know your characters. And fun to shop.

P.S. I won a writing contest once. It was a personal essay contest and I was a junior in high school. I haven't entered a writing contest since, until today.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Writer's Block and Peanut Butter Cookies

Why am I having such a tough time writing?

I mean on my novel?

Yesterday I was severely struggling, so you know what I did? I left the computer and I made Oatmeal Peanut Butter Cookies. (Only a half recipe because moi am on a diet. HA!)

I made cookies because there are instructions. You know, step by step guidelines that when followed, result in the creation of something divine. (Actually, I personally regard all recipes as mere suggested guidelines rather than directions I must follow. I reserve the right to experiment and substitute ingredients at any point in the process. But still, the suggestions and rules of baking are all there for me to obey or disregard as I so choose.)

The point is, it is easier (for me) to bake than to write. Sometimes.

But now I have a platter full of Oatmeal Peanut Butter Cookies in the kitchen and four cookies in my belly and there is still not much going on on the page.

Did I say four cookies??

At least I went on my run this morning; and let me tell you, two miles may not sound like a lot, but when you factor in that I'm running behind the combined weight of a 15 lbs jogger stroller and a 22 lbs toddler-with toys, I'm taking on some pretty killer hills and in heat conditions that only those who know Manhattan in July can fully appreciate, two miles feels like ten.

I'm a blinkin' superhero. A superhero who is stuck on her novel.

I need another cookie.

Want the recipe? Remember, they're only loose guidelines.

Monday, July 26, 2010

L'Oreal Beach Party

Pete's division at work planned a big beach party for all their employees an families, and the best part is, get this, Pete and two other interns were invited to serve drinks and hand out welcome materials at the gate. His official invitation to be a cabana boy included a request for his shirt and shorts' sizes so that all three interns could wear matching outfits. Classic.

Here are some pics from the event:

Amelia and Daddy cuttin' it up on the dance floor (after Pete was released from his official duties).

Is it any wonder why everyone at L'Oreal knows Pete as "the smiley intern"?

Hooray for winning a raffle prize!! We won a set of Popsicle makers. Tasty refreshing treats to fill the remainder of out summer.

The little dollface finally discovered the joys of playing in the sand. This experience is sadly overdue as the sandbox at our local park hasn't had more than a half inch dusting of sand in it since we've been here. She wisely decided to make up for lost time; Amelia was content to play in the sand for almost an hour before I could coax her into the inflatable bouncy castle.

It ended up being a really fun day at the beach and we came home with tons of free products. My kind of party, indeed.

Hobokey-Doken and The Cake Boss

Pete and I had Visit Carlo's Bake Shop on our list of 'Things We Must Do in New York'; although strictly speaking Hoboken is in New Jersey not New York. But it's just a quick paddle across the water from Manhattan, so no big thing. On Saturday (Pioneer Day, how appropriate) we crossed this adventure off our list.

FYI, if you ever decide to visit Carlo's Bake Shop be prepared to wait in line. A long line. I'm talking, we waited for over an hour in line in the hot hot sun for the privilege of crowding into a cramped little bakery and buying cannoli's. The family in line behind us had driven 5 hours from Boston expressly for the experience. And we didn't even see Buddy, as he's in Italy for a family wedding (is it just me, or does it seem like there's always a family wedding going on in the show?)

But the pastries were tasty and we did see a couple of the other cake decorators from the show and thank heaven neither Mary nor Buddy's mom were there running the cash register 'cause they always seem to be screaming their Italian guts out about something or other.

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I'm glad we went for the experience and so Pete could build his souvenir apron collection, but I don't think I'd do it again. The cannoli's were good, but they weren't that good.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

The Mormon Mother's Curse

I'm feeling happy today. And a bit wistful too.


I don't know.

Perhaps it's because Amelia woke up early this morning and was actually calling "Mama" from her crib instead of "Daddy" or "Bampa."

And maybe I'm happy because it took over a half an hour to make my bed this morning because Amelia kept diving onto it, which of course meant that I had to dive on after her and tickle her to within an inch of her chubby little life while she giggled like a mad mad thing. And maybe it's because she's learned the hand motions to the Eensie Weensie Spider and wants me to sing it with her over and over.

And I may be feeling just the tinsiest bit wistful because my beautiful child has officially abandoned the hollowed halls of babyhood and is nearly sprinting through the frightening forest of toddlerdom.

And wistful because it seems like everyone I know is either expecting a baby or recently gave birth which makes me think "I remember that. It is very hard." But it also makes me think "Wouldn't it be nice if . . . "



Is this inevitable?

Monday, July 19, 2010


It's too hot outside, so I've been reading a lot lately. And when I say a lot, I don't mean just a little here and there in spare moments. Unfortunately I have been engaging in the behavior my husband refers to as "binge reading." The kind that keeps me up all night and induces me to ignore my family for several hours at time while I plow through novel after novel. It sometimes happens when I find a series.

The last time this happened was when I read the first two of Suzanne Collins Hunger Games books. Still can't wait for the third one to come out.

This time it was books three and four in Brandon Mull's Fablehaven series. I read the first two in the series a couple years ago and thought they were okay, but I never felt overly compelled to continue. But a few friends and trusted book recommenders love the series so I picked them back up. The books I mean. And they were fun. As I admitted earlier, I binge read them. But come on Mull, (spoiler alert) you killed the romance. Honestly, the blossoming romance between Kendra and Gavin in book three is what made me go out and buy book four. Now that he killed the romance like a dragon slayer taking down the inhabitants of Wyrmroost, I'm back where I was two years ago; I don't particularly care to finish the series. Sigh.

Aside from reading until I'm sleep deprived and get headaches, I have been writing a lot too. New chapters of my book are coming together, which excites me more than I can say. But I need one or two readers who like YA and want to help me by critiquing my work. Any takers? I promise there are no vampires, dragons, werewolves or other fantastical creatures lurking in the pages of my novel, it's not my style. At least not for now. Unfortunately the market for paranormal romance is really hot right now, so maybe I should rethink that.

Worlds Colliding

That is how NYC feels to me. This city is full of juxtapositions that make it seem like I live in a dozen different cities at the same time. Examples? I would love to share some.

1. Another subway snippet: The other day as Amelia and I were on the train two Buddhist monks boarded and sat nearby. I watched them for a moment and thought to myself,"How strange and worldly they must find all of this. It must be incredibly overwhelming to come from an ascetic monastic lifestyle and experience the fast-paced, possession centered life of New York City."

As I was preoccupied with these musings, one monk drew an iPad out from his robes and began showing the other monk something on the screen. The second monk then pulled out an iphone and they had an animated conversation in Chinese referring several times to their respective gadgets. Weird.

2. Here's a more visual example; Contrast these photos that were all taken in one weekend. The following are from the conservatory in Central Park:

Compare to these:

City, city and more city. These were taken across the street from our building.

I've heard the U.S. called a melting pot of peoples and cultures. What a strange stew New York City is.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Family, Food and Furry Friends in NYC

Ready for another post completely dedicated to the cutenesses of Miss Amelia?

Regardless, I shall proceed.

Amelia loves the men in her life. While my parents were visiting us she became attached to her Grandpa, or her "Bampa." Even now that Bampa is gone she still asks for him first thing every morning.

Looks like she pretty much had him wrapped around her pudgy little finger.

And she is officially a Daddy's girl these days.

Sometimes I feel like Amelia loves Daddy more than she loves me. But I think I'm the constant in her life. Occasionally she takes a moment to appreciate me.

And she LOVED it when Daddy and I took her on our Food Network restaurant adventure last weekend. She was a big fan of the best dessert Michael Simon ever ate; a toasted marshmallow gelato shake at Stand4.

And the the authentic British Fish and Chips shop that beat Bobby Flay in a Throw Down.

But Amelia's favorite was visiting animal friends at the Central Park Zoo.

She lives for the weekend. Just like her Mama.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Boston Pops on Independence Day

I'm pretty crazy about Boston. I like New York; it's exciting and there are so many things to do and see. But Boston is . . . quaint. Charming. I could live there quite happily for a very long time. So let me tell you about the adventures of Bostonia:

First of all, getting to Boston was a bit of an episode alone. Pete and I looked into flying (not a great idea over a holiday weekend in case you were wondering) taking a train (almost as outrageously expensive, and a lot longer) and renting a car and driving to Boston.

It wasn't until two days before we were to leave for Boston that someone told us about the bus services connecting Boston and New York, which are unbelievably affordable ($15 one way) when compared to any of the above listed options. So we decided to take a bus. I think this is a good place mention that all these bus services are Chinese owned business ventures and are based in Chinatown. Chinese people are wonderful; I love their food and their low prices on consumer goods, but they sure don't believe in adding a lot of frills and unnecessary comforts. The four hour bus ride (that ended up being closer to five hours due to traffic) were not the comftiest hours of my life.

But Amelia was so happy to have Daddy, Mama, Grandma and Bampa to climb all over the whole time, and stayed relatively entertained for the duration of the drive. Once in Boston we met up with my sister and her chubby little Bunchkin. My parents both had permasmiles. Dad went to school in Boston back in his day and Mom served her mission in Boston. And they like Sharona and Caroline. So it was kind of cute to see how happy they were to finally be back after all those years.

Here's Sharonica and the Bunchkin.

That evening we went to a quirky little pizza place that Dan discovered through his food delivery job. I'd never had potato pizza before, but I must say it was rather enjoyable. Amelia was delighted to dismantle all the menus. Grandma was so proud, you can see it on her face.

The next day was Saturday, the 3rd of July and we visited the Boston Temple. Much more visually impressive than the Manhattan Temple. The Boston Temple actually has temple grounds. The light was nice and I took several billion photos of the girlies and my fam.

That evening we hit up the Esplanade for the traditional Boston Pops concert. I think this is a brilliant idea; the Boston Pops put on a free concert playing Tchaikovsky's 1812 Overture and then they light fireworks over the Charles River. SO you get the cannons blasting off in the crowd,a performance by a top quality orchestra playing and a massive fireworks show. Free.

Granted, it is a bit crowded, and you have to show up hours early to fight for your patch of grass (or asphalt, as was our case) but still brilliant. Sadly, Toby Kieth was the guest artist they brought in this year to perform with the Pops(I'm not a huge fan, and I was ironically looking forward to a 4th of July show that didn't include a country singer. Last year it was Niel Diamond. Surely Boston would choose someone other than country star. Wrong.)

Saturday night was actually the dress rehearsal for the big show on Sunday. We caught the show on Saturday (sidenote: all of Boston worships the Kennedy's. There was an emotionally wrought, tear-jerker tribute to their legacy that took up half the show, and not one mention of Jackie, the most accomplished Kennedy. Odd? A bit, yes.) But we left before the fireworks started. Tired babies. And Mommas. We saved that for the actual 4th.

Here we are enjoying the show, despite Toby Kieth and the Kennedy worshiping hour.

On Sunday, the 4th of July, we went to church. I felt this was appropriate for both religious and patriotic reasons.

Except it was testimony meeting, so no patriotic program. So I guess it was just religious of us. Entertaining as anything though. I love testimony meeting when a good portion of the congregation is made up of converts, it always gets a little unorthodox and cliche Mormonisms fly out the window.

Back on the Esplanade that evening, we found a spot on the Charles River. Both babies were dressed in red white and blue and pretty blasted cute, as you see.

We had a great time. that is, until Dad got lost. The crowd became so dense on the bridge over the river that Dad went off to find a restroom two hours before the fireworks were scheduled to start, and didn't find his way back to us until the show was over. This put a bit of a damper on the tone of our celebrating. The fireworks were incredible, one of the best displays I've ever seen. But we were all watching with one eye on the sky and one eye searching the crowd trying to spot Dad. Luckily he did find us (after Pete had put in a full description with the Boston Police) after the the show was completely over. The only upside to this was that by the time we met back up we had missed most of the traffic. Sad.

Monday was our last day in Boston and we spent it revisiting Dad's old haunts. Harvard and Boston University. Unfortunately, I somehow managed to miss taking photos of him at these places, and only got these two pics.

Then Pete, Amelia and I took the bus home. Home to New York. Vacation over, and back to my daily life of parks, shopping and playing with the wee girlins.

And after several days of pure junk food, I am eschewing high calorie foods with a firm hand.