Monday, November 1, 2010

Halloween 2010

My friend NoLa had a big Halloween bash yesterday. The theme was Creepy Carnival, and she - along with her pal Cali - went all-out creating a huge set, complete with music, and everyone in appropriate carnival-esque costumes.

I had volunteered the Lopez family to go as the Freak Show, with my son, the Juban Princeling, as the Tattooed Baby, my husband as the Bearded Lady, and myself as the Two-Headed Woman. Alas and alack, October kicked my ass and I never really got around to creating our costumes.

Note to self: next year have all costumes DONE and READY TO WEAR by the end of September.

Instead, like the slacker loser that I am, I went to the neighborhood costume shop and bought us a family's worth of Star Wars-inspired costumes:

Help me, Juban-Wan Kenobi. You're my only hope.

My brother went as Mr. Spock. Because our family is nothing if not geek-tastic.

May the Force be with you and prosper.

Before heading out, Husband and I took the Princeling trick-or-treating for the very first time. I bought him a 99-cent Star Wars-themed bag, and we stayed in our building. Even with just six floors and four apartments per floor the kid still made out like a bandit, especially considering we went trick-or-treating at 3pm, a time when most families were either watching football or still getting into their own costumes. More than one of my neighbors had to open their brand-new bags of candy for my son's benefit. But everyone was tickled by my little miniature Obi Wan Kenobi, and the Princeling enjoyed knocking on doors. He was too shy to say, "Trick or treat!" to anyone, but not too shy to take the proffered candy.

What disappointed me about this Halloween, besides disappointment in myself for not keeping up with NoLa's Creepy Carnival theme, was the number of little boys dressed in costumes from the new Clone Wars cartoon who did not recognize me as one of their own. One little boy said, "Star Wars rules!" or something as we passed him, and all the grown-ups got it, but more than one boy dressed as an Imperial Storm Trooper walked right past me without so much as a "We have orders from Lord Vader!" I even said to one of them, "Oh no! Don't arrest me!" and he looked at me like I just spoke in ancient Babylonian to him.

Now that Halloween 2010 is behind us it's time to start thinking about Halloween 2011...

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Here's What You Missed...

Wow, it's...uh...been a while since I've updated!

I shoved aside most of my other writing commitments in order to focus on getting my novel done, and I'm pleased as punch to say that I did it! Back in early July I told the Husband that I would finish my novel - approximately 75,000 words - by our son, the Juban Princeling's birthday, which is October 8. That would be 5,000 words per week over 15 weeks. And I did it, with a week to spare, even!

Sometimes it was hard, sometimes the words flowed, but the important thing, I think, is that I have a first draft of a novel. This is something I've been trying to write for the past 10 years. I have more first chapters of this damn book than I can even think about, so I feel satisfied that I've finally made it all the way through.

People often ask me what my book is about, and the short, easy (but mostly wrong) answer is: vampires.

The longer, more complicated, and more correct answer is that this is a book about the friendship between two supernatural women (one a Lithuanian witch, one a Japanese vampire) who have traveled the world together for over 500 years and now find themselves facing an increasingly terrifying enemy. Can they survive the devastation and horror around them, even as their own darker impulses start to take over their friendship?

Hmmm, I think I have my 30-second blurb there...

The first draft of my novel is now in the hands of my Alpha Readers, four people close to me that are familiar with the genre and know me well enough to be brutally honest about my take on it. While they work on that, I'm reading and doing the writing exercises from "Self-Editing for Fiction Writers" by Renni Browne and Dave King, making a spreadsheet of potential agents to query, and devouring other dark/urban fantasy books. Some are by authors I'm already a fan of (Lori Devoti, Ilona Andrews, Kelly Armstrong) and others are established authors in the genre that I'm "meeting" for the first time and, so far, thoroughly enjoying (Patricia Briggs, Kim Harrison, Kat Richardson).

The next step for me will be to revise my manuscript based on "Self-Editing" and the feedback from my Alpha Readers, then send a second draft to my five Beta Readers: three are familiar with the genre, one is doing line edits, and the fifth person is a longtime friend who will, again, be brutally honest with me. When they are done, I'll make more revisions, and then, hopefully, have a polished draft ready so I can begin the query process for an agent.

It's a lot of work, but I have to admit that I am really enjoying this! I get to read my favorite books by amazing authors (as "homework"), and I finally have a finished product to tinker with and prep for submission! After 10 years I finally feel like I've written the story that was meant to come out of me.

And, I already have plans in the works for the book's sequel, as I intend for this to be the first of a trilogy, which will (hopefully) be the jumping-off point for a larger series starring some of the other characters, ala Kelly Armstrong's Otherworld series or Lori Devoti's Amazon series.

Meanwhile, in non-writing news, the Juban Princeling turned 2 years old a couple of weeks ago...I know. I KNOW! I KNOW!!!! How that happened, I have no idea. Wasn't he JUST born?

He's doing so great, though. His pediatrician would not stop gushing over him at his 2-year checkup last week. He's still in the 90-95th percentile for height (he's a full 36" tall now) and 50th for weight, which means he takes after the men on my mother's side of the family: tall and lanky. His favorite word is "No!", which I know is normal for 2-year olds, but he is nevertheless an overall sweet, agreeable little boy. He loves to feel helpful and loves to do what we do. He chatters up a storm, even if we can only understand every tenth word he says. When we call my husband while he's at work, the Princeling loves to tell his dada about his day so far.

I'm so happy that my little boy is so happy and healthy. And, thankfully, he's also very independent. Sometimes I feel like a bad mommy at the end of the day, turning on the TV and letting him play by himself while I sit on the couch and read "Self-Editing" or one of my fantasy novels. But then I remember that the two of us just spent the whole day together, going to music classes or the playground or a playdate at one of his many friends' houses, and that he, too, needs his "alone" time when I'm not up in his face making him do this or go there. I'm so lucky to have a little boy who is so independent and content to entertain himself.

And I'm so lucky to have such a wonderfully supportive and loving husband, and so many wonderful friends who are all eager to help me out in my crazy writing career!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Love Hurts

Yesterday morning I took my son, the Juban Princeling, to a nearby playground. I was actually quite looking forward to our day together, as it would be the last day of just us two for a while: today he has daycare, and tomorrow my parents fly into town for a week.

The Princeling was engaging in his favorite activity, swinging a gate back and forth. I bent down to pull up his pants, which were falling down, and he swung the gate, hard, into my head. Stunned for a second, I reached up to touch the tender spot where the gate had made contact, and my fingers came away covered in blood. I stuffed the Princeling into his stroller, called his daycare babysitter, and ran him to her. He was happy enough to be there. I then walked myself to the nearby emergency room, where, 2 1/2 hour later, I walked out with a tetnus shot in my left arm and two staples in my scalp:

It's exactly as painful as it looks.

I picked up the Princeling on my way home. Despite what my father said on the phone about my son being wholly unaware of what he had done to me, I considered pressing assault charges.

My mom: "For what, elder abuse?"

Hardee har har.

When we got home I cut off my hospital wrist band and taped it to the Princeling's baby book with a little description of what happened. This way I can use this as guilt-trip fodder for the rest of his natural life.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Only 77 More Days Until Halloween!

I take Halloween very seriously. It's my favorite holiday. The only thing I love more than dressing in costume is dressing in a FAMILY costume.

Last year my husband had none of it. I went as a witch, and the Juban Princeling went as my black cat familiar.

The Princeling and I, and our friend Julie, Halloween 2009, Prospect Park, Brooklyn.

This year I can't convince my husband to do a family costume: I was thinking, since I have red hair and he has black hair that we could go as Ariel and Prince Erik from "The Little Mermaid," and the Princeling could be that little red crab who sings the Under the Sea song.

Not meant to be. :-(

Alas, I'm now charged with coming up with a costume for the Princeling and myself, sans husband/Da Da. I have a few ideas, but they won't be easy to pull off, and I'm not exactly Martha Stewart when it comes to DIY costumes. Tick-tock, tick-tock...I'd better get a move on.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Happy 21-Months, Juban Princeling!

I can't believe this happened 21 months ago - and that in just three more short months I'm going to have a 2-year old on my hands!

I love you, little boy, so very much. You are the best son a mother could ever ask for.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Go Spain!

The hubby and I celebrating our 1-year wedding anniversary in Sevilla, Spain. May, 2007.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

I Wasn't, Actually...

...saved by the bell, that is.

This seems to pop up every once in a while in my life. Somehow, my brother Mr. Funny and I seem to be the only people who were raised in America in the 80s who did NOT watch Saved By the Bell. Why not? Who knows? Who cares? We went to play outside; we used our imaginations instead; it was stupid and we knew it; we were working on our dissertations. Whatever. We just didn't, OK????

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

How Does My Garden Grow?

This is the first sprout from the tarragon seeds I planted three weeks ago. The parsley and oregano seeds haven't sprouted up yet, but the rosemary - which I bought as a pre-grown plant - is thriving. We plan to hit up the Grand Army Plaza farmer's market this weekend to get some fresh ingredients to cook with our fresh rosemary. Of the two pre-grown lavender plants I planted, the lavendula is thriving but the Provence Lavender is drying out. Eh, you win some, you lose some.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Crayola Washable Crayons are the Greatest Thing EVER EVER EVER

Ropa Vieja

Last night I made my first ropa vieja, or Cuban pulled steak hash. I have to say - it came out quite delish. For a blancita such as myself, I do cook up some rather tasty Cuban food if I do say so. (And Husband confirms.) We have so many wonderful cookbooks at home, and as we are a family on a budget and trying to be healthy(ish), I don't often take advantage of all the delicious recipes I have laying around. With that in mind, I pulled out my copy of Mary Urrutia Randelman's "Memories of a Cuban Kitchen," and made some ropa last night. I bought the book years ago, back when my Cuban-American Husband was still just my Cuban-American Boyfriend, in order to impress him with my mad Cuban cooking skills, yo.

My first photo of the ropa was taken with the Hipstamatic app for iPhone, which all my friends have been downloading and posting photos all over Facebook with. I wanted to capture that authentic, old-fashioned Cuban feel, as if this was a ropa made during the Revolution. But Husband said the Hipstamtic just made the food look green and gross. So I took another with the regular camera feature on my iPhone.

Soylent Ropa is's people!!!!

Ropa even Jose Marti would love.

Friday, April 23, 2010

I Am Angry Red

My poor little guy has major diaper rash from his recent teething. Seriously, the kid is almost 19 months old - can't he just get all his teeth already? The last time it was this bad he cut four teeth at once. Actually, the rash is worse this time, and I'll refrain from going into graphic detail about why that is.

We can see two teething already poking through; I wonder about others. My son is teething at the speed of plate tectonics.

And it's a pain in the butt - literally. He hasn't not complained about a diaper change in months, but now the process is actually painful for him. The poor kid shrieks and pulls away from me, hiding his toushie on the changing table so I can't reach it with the (alcohol-free) wipees.

Please please please let this pass soon.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

It's Because I Have ESPN

...just a few short hours after my last post, and "Love is a Battlefield" came on my Pandora. I'm p-sychic.

Mommy-1; Mr. No-Nap-Crankipants-0

Naptime was a battle field today. Not unlike love ala Pat Benatar. But I persevered. And I won.

Sometimes parenting is about the small victories that get you through your day.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Coming Soon!

Welcome to The Baby Ate My Blog - my site for keeping up with my freelance writing career, HuffPo blog, hilarious (...or not) anecdotes about the mothering life, and other things I find interesting (...or not).

New posts and pages coming soon!