K. Stonham's Journal|
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|Thursday, October 23rd, 2014|
|Downs and Ups
Feeling a bit better after a bout of depression yesterday that led me to skip my writing class. I'm attributing the downs to one part that class and anticipating the remarks on my next ten pages, one part my parents leaving for six months sailing around Baja, and one part my period. At least the latter is finally back on a four-week (rather than two-week) schedule.
Things that are making me happy this week. I'd heard, months ago, about the Detroit Land Bank auctioning off vacant homes, and thought it was a good idea. Then this article
popped up on CNN, reminding me of it, and I went to look at the DLB's auction site
. If I lived anywhere in the midwest, or didn't have roots and a mortgage here in SoCal, and a milder climate wasn't better for Wonderful Husband's health, I would be on this like white on rice. Meanwhile, my mother, sister, and I can all use this website to fuel our Rehab Addict-inspired daydreams.
Also making me happy: getting back in my homemaking groove. I put up four half-pints of Marisa's Honey Lemon Apple Jam
today to go into the stash for Christmas gifts. And now, while Squiddle's asleep, I'm going to attempt to triage first the dining table, and then, if I'm lucky, the living room.
|Saturday, October 18th, 2014|
|Baking! And other stuff!
Sprouts had a sale on a lot of different types of apples this week, so I indulged. And bought a LOT. With a thought toward applesauce, apple jams, apple pies....
Tomorrow being a (large!) family dinner at my parents' place, I decided to experiment for the latter. You see, my go-to recipe is Apple Pie I from The Joy of Cooking. But there's also an Apple Pie II recipe, which precooks the apples so they don't shrink as much during the baking and you don't end up with a crust hovering an inch above the filling. I've never tried it. As of today I have, making one of each type to do a contrast/compare tomorrow. And since I had a bit of crust left over, and a bit of frozen mixed berries just hanging out in the freezer, I freestyled a couple of small tarts for dinner tonight.
I also pulled out a bed's worth of weeds and dead tomato plants, while Wonderful Husband fixed our washer (which wasn't draining properly), and also repaired my car's dome light and replaced the Squiddle's nightlight bulb.
Ah, yes, the Squiddle. Who had gotten me up five times by five a.m. last night, and then Wonderful Husband stayed up with him for a few hours until I was awake, whereupon we tag-teamed out. Usually the baby's much better than that. We're working on the theory that maybe his bedroom needs to be a touch warmer. He has also, as of yesterday, figured out how to open doors. Maybe getting paddle handles instead of knobs was a bad idea.... :)
And the big thing that happened this week was that we threw my parents a bon voyage party, and managed to keep it, and the fact that my younger sister flew down for it, a surprise from my mother until she walked in the restaurant door. ^_^ Being my first foray into party planning, this wasn't exactly a stress-free event, but I think it came off rather well. And now I know what I'm going about for the next time.
|Wednesday, October 15th, 2014|
|Wednesday, October 8th, 2014|
|Tuesday, October 7th, 2014|
|Kiddies and Kitties
One-year-olds are like cats in that when you are going into the bathroom to use the toilet, they wish to accompany you to make sure you're doing it correctly. And if they're not allowed to accompany you, they will stand before the closed door, occasionally making interrogative noises to elicit responses that assure them that you're doing fine and do not need any assistance.
One-year-olds are, however, vastly more likely to unspool the toilet paper....
|Sunday, October 5th, 2014|
|Be Cool, Be Cool...
It's been a hot weekend, so we've mostly been hiding inside until the heat of the day dies away. By opening doors and windows in the early morning, and evening, and then keeping them closed during the heat of day, we manage to keep the inside of the house about fifteen degrees cooler than the outside. The difference between 100 Fahrenheit and 85 Fahrenheit is significant!
That said, I feel like I've gotten a fair amount done this weekend. We had my parents up yesterday for brunch, the last chance we'll have before they sail off for six months in Mexico. I went through twenty pages of edits on Field of Stars. I made sun tea, swept two rooms, and realized my Italian plums weren't going to last another day, so put up four and a half half-pints of Peach-Plum Ginger Jam
Today I've gotten less done, so feel like a bit of a slacker in comparison. I've done the laundry, swept two more rooms and the hallway, made chicken cacciatore for dinner, and edited ten pages. Wonderful Husband and I also did a bit of grocery shopping.
But mainly we've been staying cool.
|Thursday, October 2nd, 2014|
|Wednesday, October 1st, 2014|
|Kristin Vs. Genre
I am, once again, frustrated by my writing class. Seriously, this is like my theme every Wednesday night! I ought to start a drinking game or something. "One drink if Kristin thinks her teacher needs to pay attention." "Two if a classmate fails to actually read the words on the page." Etc.
Tonight's bout of consternation is brought to you by the eternal struggle of "you have too many characters." Which about half my class commented on. Mind, I don't know how many of these comments are add-ons in class and thus basically "me too!"s following the teacher.
The thing is, though, the book I am writing is high fantasy. It's about an international war. It's continuing with both the upstairs and downstairs characters from book one. I have a goddamn game plan, I know where all these plot threads eventually lead, NO I NEED ALL THOSE CHARACTERS. They're not throwaways. Go read Lord of the Rings. Go read Game of Thrones. That's my genre. But no matter how many times I say this, it never seems to sink in.
For whatever reason, genre writing limits my audience. Being a genre reader, I don't get it. I can read mainstream and get it, I can read scifi and get it. It's all good. Similarly, those of my class who get it, GET IT. They realize I'm not writing Waiting For Godot, or a romance novel that only needs two people plus some distractions. But for whatever reason, over half the class has problems with "different genres have different rules and expectations." Now, granted, whenever the time comes, a romance or a mainstream book would probably be easier to sell. But that's not the book I want to write. It's not the book I want to read.
Which leads to me being frustrated by half the feedback I'm getting, and subsequently having long conversations with Wonderful Husband about this series and why I'm writing it and if it's worth it. Sorta. Something along that line, anyway. I am seriously considering whether I should stop submitting this book to the class, and eventually give them something else instead. Even I can only bash my head against a wall so often before ceding to the headache.
Sigh. I don't know. At this point I'm just vomiting words and frustration onto the Internet. I should go to sleep, and tomorrow hopefully I'll find some clarity.
|Saturday, September 27th, 2014|
|How 2 Train Your Baby?
Movies I have watched recently: Maleficent (ooh, fem!fantasy movie - I liked bits, especially Diaval, but I think Wonderful Husband nailed it when he said this was Maleficent's version of what happened... and Sleeping Beauty is the three fairies' ^_^). Guardians of the Galaxy (pretty good, but not my favorite in the Marvel'verse... fourth place, maybe?). Lucy (the film needed a bit more time in the kitchen, as we were only really able to connect with one scene in it; Wonderful Husband and I were both sniggering at the science, but OTOH I LOVED the genderflip on The Creation of Adam
). Chef (pretty good, though the fact that it didn't hit its story beats as hard as most films left it feeling without a sense of urgency. Still, foodporn movie that left me craving a grilled cheese sandwich).
Parenting is about finding your own personal balance. Initially I felt guilty that I didn't make all of Squiddle's baby food from scratch. I tried. I did! But he liked the stuff from a jar so much better, and it was so much easier. So I assuaged my conscience by buying the organic brand, and found the balance I could live with. We've deliberately taken it slow with his diet, knowing that as the child of someone with major food allergies, he has a higher chance of inheriting them. So far so good. *touches wood* But part of it is also choice. His agemate Connor has been introduced to cotton candy and ice cream, and had a iced cake at his birthday party. Squiddle has had none of these things. It's not that we plan to keep him from sugar forever, and heavens know it's not that we don't eat it, because we do, too much of it. But at his age he doesn't need that stuff yet.
Similarly, our TV has seen very very little use in the last year. We're making the decision to not expose him to television or vidgames much. But last night I settled Squiddle on the sofa beside me and proceeded to show him How To Train Your Dragon. He made it through the first hour before wanting bedtime. And I'm not sure how much of that he was actively watching, given that he was moving around the sofa quite a bit. He probably liked the colors and moving images, but this isn't going to be an everyday or even every week occurrence. TV, like cookies, is a sometimes food.
I finished the film up afterward. I find it stunning that, given how many times I've watched the film, I'm still
finding new things. It's just that good. So, today, being in the mood, I went to rewatch the sequel at the cheapie theater. It improved on the second viewing. Not that it was bad on the first one. But two doesn't feel as tightly written as the first. Or, at least, there aren't as many repeated elements in it. No triumvirates of "Night Fury! Get down!" or Astrid punching Hiccup or "You just gestured to all of me" with the shades of meaning changing each time. The film also has Astrid for some unexplained reason develop a severe case of idiocy in the middle, and it's a bit iffy having the only person of color be the bad guy. Would've been better if Eret son of Eret was also of quote-unquote exotic origins. Also, as Wonderful Husband pointed out to me, where exactly does Drago's armada go between Valka's fortress and his arrival at Berk? Meh. Whatever. Currently devouring the artbook and debating on preordering the Blu-Ray or being good and putting it on my Christmas list.
|Thursday, September 25th, 2014|
|Things, Happy and Resigned
Things that let you know you're a parent:
--the soft crump
of Cheerios underfoot
--realizing that before a year ago, you had never washed your hands so much in your life, whereas now it's at least a couple times a day thing
--opening the outer pocket of your purse to discover the baby's secret stash of star puffs that he put there for later.
And, on a different emotional tack, things that I just can't even bring myself to feel angry about: last night I had my writing class. We had a low review load. Three hours, five submissions to get through. (The usual is seven to eight, like this week will be.) So everything was leisurely, and everyone got a half hour to forty-five minutes. Until the teacher looked up and realize there were two minutes until the end of class and there was still one manuscript to go.Mine.
So I got like five minutes of feedback. I'd be pissed off about getting the really really short-ass end of the stick, but by this point I know there's no point. This isn't the first time I've been shorted this badly, it won't be the last. Getting angry about it is like pissing into the sea.
Though the classmate I walk to our cars with was talking afterwards about how maybe we need to set timers for each submission review. So it's not just me noticing this has happened more than once.
|Tuesday, September 16th, 2014|
|Superior in Age, Stealth, and Treachery
Squiddle is a touch anemic, which, according to his doctor, is not unusual in babies his age. So I've been trying to feed him infant porridge, which is iron-fortified. Only problem is, he doesn't like the porridge. Yesterday, I'd left the newest issue of Parents magazine on the edge of the table while I fed him. He started paging through, looking at the pictures and enjoying the crunkly paper.
And paying no absolutely no attention to what I was spooning into his mouth.
Heh-heh-heh. Mama technique get!
|Monday, September 15th, 2014|
|The Baby Shuffle
o/~ Well, we never miss a chance
We get up and dance and do the Baby Shuffle!
(points to anyone who gets the song I'm parodying)
Squiddle, as of Saturday, has taken his first few hesitant steps all by himself. Whee! Baby milestone reached!
Not much else going on, other than trying to avoid the heat wave.
|Friday, September 12th, 2014|
|Gratefulness to the Universe
Squiddle had his first birthday this week, and later this morning he goes to the doctor's office for a checkup and his next set of vaccination shots. Which he is not going to like. He certainly didn't like getting blood drawn last Friday! But these are things we must do in this modern era to be assured of healthiness. And, hey, Kaiser puts bloodwork results on its website, so I've already looked at them and with the help of Google figured out what each of the results were. He's a touch low on iron, but the lead test, thank goodness, is WELL within parameters. Given we live in a 1955 house, I was a little worried. Though I suppose that worry was stupid. The only surfaces we haven't
painted over since moving in are three windowsills, the laundry room, and three-quarters of the exterior of the house. Very little exposed pre-1970s leaded paint left.
On a different note, I sometimes feel guilty about my life. I have a friend who has several chronic conditions and she never seems happy. I realize that, not living in constant pain, I can never truly understand her position, but it makes me sad that I never see her take a moment of joy or beauty and just appreciate it for the solemn gift from the universe it is. I sometimes feel like life must have stolen my friend's share of happiness and given it to me, and I want to give it back, but I don't know how.
Not that my own life is perfect. I have conditions of my own. I will have to take thyroid medication every single day for the rest of my life. My left foot has heel spurs that, if I don't stretch my calves a couple times each day, make walking misery. I had - I will admit it here for the first time - infertility issues which I had to seek treatment for. I'm slowly coming to accept that biology is simply fact, and that that last point in particular is not something to be ashamed of and keep hidden.
But I can walk and sing and dance. I have the financial freedom to be a SAHM. I can and do pursue my interests, sewing and gardening and writing, with the support of my Wonderful Husband. I have a beautiful, happy child (complete strangers come up to me in the grocery store and tell me he's beautiful, so I suppose it must be true), and a good man to help me raise him.
My chalice is full.
|Monday, September 8th, 2014|
|Round Two, FAITO!
Adventures in YA Contests
has posted round two of the "Pitch Plus Five" contest. This time I'm entry 23
. I beat out twenty-five other people to end up in round two, which is nothing to be sneezed at!
Though I did wonder about the two (anonymous) blogger judges I got for round one. One said "Loved this!" (literally, that was the entire comment) while the other made comments that made both Wonderful Husband and I scratch our heads and wonder if she'd actually bothered reading
what I wrote. Most puzzling.
Round two, though, is where my revised first five pages (no major changes, just a bit of tightening up) and my query pitch get read and commented on by professional authors! And of the twenty-five of us in this round, only ten will move on to round three. Nervous
I feel a bit strange asking people to read and comment again, but if you can, and are so inclined, I'll love it, and any of the other authors you leave feedback for will also really appreciate it! (And, if you're curious and want to compare the drafts and revisions, my first five pages from round one are here
Things that are funny: when you've just typed your home phone number into the baby's playphone... and the phone actually rings.
(No, it wasn't him on the other end of the line. But still! ^_^)
|If the question is "Pancakes?" the answer is "What kind?"
(Or, more accurately, the answer is "Yes, please. What kind?")
Our household, being multinational, involves a good many kinds of pancakes. There are British pancakes, which are rather crepe-like, American pancakes, which are thick and filling, and Swedish pancakes, which are about two inches in diameter, and just plain fun. When my inlaws took us on vacation earlier this year, the itinerary included an overnight stop in Solvang, where I spied aebelskiver (Danish pancakes) on the menu and just had to try them.
Fast-forward a few months to my sister-in-law giving me an aebelskiver pan for a birthday gift. And Wonderful Husband working from home today and asking if I might make some for lunch. I found the recipe/tutorial
I was looking for, and proceeded to de-virgin the pan.
They're not quite like making Swedish pancakes in that the pan needs to be re-greased between every batch, rather than every third batch, and the flame on my stove needs to be a little cooler, about three and a half instead of four and a half. But they're fun and yummy and by the end of the batch I think I'd gotten the hang of them.
|Sunday, September 7th, 2014|
|Writing the book isn't the hard part.
Too fragging hot today to do much. Fortunately, last night's find that I'm in the second round of the Pitch Plus Five competition shifted things around so that my priorities are (1) revising my first five pages, and (2) coming up with a 150-word "query pitch" (which are usually two different things). Which are both due tomorrow by 9pm PST. While dealing with the distraction of Squiddle playing with his new noisy toys.
But. I've got a first draft of the query pitch done, and some thoughts for what revisions I want to make to the first five pages. Onward!
|Saturday, September 6th, 2014|
|Oh holy wow, I made it!
I'm through to the second round of Adventures in Young Adult Publishing
's Pitch Plus Five contest!!!
I need to stare at my first five pages, figure out how, where, and what I want to revise, and also come up with a 150-words-or-less query pitch by midnight Monday.
|Tuesday, September 2nd, 2014|
|Working on that Worst Mother Of The Year Award...
Sitting here in the office listening to Squiddle wailing via the baby monitor. For the last 51 weeks, I've nursed him to sleep. But that is a state that is not indefinitely sustainable. He will not be breastfeeding forever, and sooner or later needs to learn to fall asleep without it. So tonight I nursed him, gave the sleepy baby his pacifier, and put him in his crib before he was fully asleep.
It's been about ten minutes and the volume (as well as standing vs. lying down) seems to be going up and down in cycles, though gradually getting softer, horizontality winning out more often than not.
This is not fun, for Squiddle, for me, or for Wonderful Husband. But it needs to be done.
So glad we got double-glazed windows a couple years back.
...And, knock on wood, he seems to be asleep.
|Monday, September 1st, 2014|
|When I'm Sixty-Four...
Another birthday done and gone. I actually couldn't figure out how old I am now until I opened the card from my parents, which gave me the number. I don't bother acting my age, or feeling it, so why should I bother to remember it? Maybe I should just do what my maternal grandmother did, and be eternally 29. Otherwise I get depressed that I'm a first-time mother at my age. My twentieth high school reunion (which I missed, being on vacation visiting friends and family instead) was this year, and I only now have an almost-toddler. Just saying.
In any case, I received some very nice gifts. The Transformers: Animated DVD set, so I can finally rewatch season 3 (and all its Jazz-and-Prowl moments!), the La Mode Bagatelle Regency Wardrobe pattern (squee!), two Guy Gavriel Kay books I've really wanted to read, the 20 years of Dreamworks animated films artbook, and an ableskiver pan (mwahaha... I shall learn to make not merely circular, but spherical
pancakes!). Wonderful Husband also took me to see Maleficent before it left theaters. There were some WTF moments ("Um, why is she suddenly wearing a catsuit?"), but some quite good ones as well ("You're my fairy godmother!" "What.") so we both enjoyed it.
Today we went to Ikea to get the second out of three sets of bookcase doors that we need, given Squiddle has now learned both the joy of tearing paper, and the skill of deshelving books. Fortunately he has not yet combined these, so we're attempting to cut him off at the pass. And the Ikea parking lot was about as crowded as I've ever seen it, and we discovered (partly) why. Buy $100 or over of furniture merchandise, and your meal in the restaurant is free. Well, we were buying $100 worth of doors, and had planned to be having lunch there anyway.... And they're repeating this special a few more times this year, and we need to get two more doors anyway. ^_^ So not quite gaming the system, but if they want to feed us for free, fine by us. Lingonberry saft for everyone!