Showing posts from 2007

New Sarina pics

Mmm! This is the best teething biscuit I've ever had. I got my hair bow from Mama's Girls Bows over here . I got my flower clip from Bow Baby Bow over here . Today, Santa Claus was in my very own house. I wasn't quite sure what to make of him, but he turned out to be pretty cool. He gave me peach puffs. I love standing. I thought sitting was cool, but man, standing is so awesome. You should try it.

When she shares

Sarina is learning things at an astonishing rate right now-- I feel like she's in the middle of another of these "milestone madness" weeks. Among other things, she is now calling the cat "ca." She doesn't yet know that I'm "mama" (she uses the word "mama" all the time, but doesn't associate it particularly with me), but she knows the cat. You know what's funny? I totally predicted that. She's so in love with my cat. I guessed a while back that her first real word would be "cat," (or "kitty," which is what I usually call her). The beautiful thing, though, is that she's learned to share. She will feed her mommy one of her peach puffs, or share her gummed-up biscuit with me. I never would have thought that I would have accepted a half-eaten teething biscuit from another human being, but you know? When it's your baby, it's just not gross. It's beautiful. Last night, we took turns. She fed me

Me and My Girl (and Marilyn)

I'm hoping and hoping to finish the Marilyn Monroe first draft before Christmas. I'm not sure if it's possible yet, but I'm going to try. I've interviewed a number of people for it, but am still trying hard for several others. Did you know Gina Lollobrigida and Marilyn were good friends? I'm trying to reach her, and Eli Wallach, and her singing coach, and... well, about 50 others who haven't yet answered me. Time is getting tight. I have enough material already, but it would add a lot to the book if I could speak to people who don't ordinarily speak about Marilyn. I'm aiming to get interesting little anecdotes from people who met her along the way somewhere, even in very limited capacities. (Psst, know anyone who knew Marilyn Monroe? I'll be your BFF.) I'm so distractable about the actual writing, though. Every night, I tell myself I'll do nothing but write, but I have irresistible impulses to do stupid things online. Like, does eBay have

A bit like Pebbles

Thank you to Chesapeake Ribbons for the lovely hair bow!

The Best Game Ever

We've discovered the best game ever. It goes like this: 1. Mommy sticks a pail on her head. 2. Mommy says, "Hey, Sarina, what do you think of my new hat? Isn't it a lovely hat? I sure hope nobody steals my hat." 3. Sarina steals the hat. 4. Mommy hollers, "Ohh! How did you do it? How did you steal Mommy's hat?" 5. Sarina screams laughing. 6. Repeat, endlessly. We can do this for hours. It just never gets old.


She sure did. Her first word was "mama" during month 6. Last night, she started saying "baba." The adorableness of it is almost too much to bear. I awoke to the sounds of her practicing. "Ba... bama... maba... mbababababa!"

If you want to do something nice for me...

Please, visit here: That's Licia's blog. She runs a rescue center in Haiti. Before I had Sarina, I felt sympathy for suffering children. Now it's a physical pain that I can barely stand. I see Henrius, the five-year-old in the video, crying... and I think of my daughter and how much it kills me to hear her cry for five minutes because she has teething pain. That boy's skin is peeling off because of malnutrition. This is a center with 50-60 children in it at a time, not a giant company with corrupt executives. This is a place where you can actually help people save children's lives. Licia's sister, Lori, also has a blog. She runs the medical clinic next to the rescue center, where they see about 700 patients a week. There's a PayPal link and an address to send donations here: They're doing the heavy lifting. Let's do the easy part. Please, spread the word. Let's make sure th


Sarina's two front teeth are spaced widely apart so far, which makes me think back to my own youth, in which-- I am not kidding-- my parents had our Christmas card pictures retouched to erase some of my hideously gapped buck teeth. And this was before Photoshop, when you actually had to pay a photo lab to fix things with colored pencils or somesuch. Ahhh, braces. I would have been such a freak without you. Other people save for college when their kids are born. We're saving up for the orthodontist.

An extra hour to write

Michelle tagged me to write a post about what I would write if I had an extra hour every day to write . Hmm. Now, the real answer is that I'd just use that hour to get my assignments done, but I have to assume that the spirit of this meme is to find out what our "heart projects" are. Someone else asked me about that by e-mail recently. Well, technically, I asked myself. It went sort of like this: He asked me if there was anything no one ever asked me about my writing before that I wanted to be asked. I said I had never been asked if there was anything I wanted to write but wouldn't. So... he asked. Anyway, what I explained then was that I had several ideas for books that I'd love to write, but wouldn't be commercial enough to justify the time I'd spend on them. Some Absolute Write readers might remember the time I went searching for a book that would be appropriate to teach my brother (who has Down syndrome) about dating. He had asked me for a book that w


Yes, she did have (ahem) more than one costume. What can I say? Babies 'R' Us had a clearance sale, and her dad got excited.

Thank you, creepy professor

So where was I? (Read the previous post first if you haven't already. I'm writing about how I became a writer. I'll wait here.) Right, so I was now an advertising major, and as such, had to take writing courses. That was cool by me because I had always enjoyed writing and had taken elective writing courses as an art major. I had even tried to take an advanced workshop in poetry, but I was turned down. What a disappointment that was! I remember waiting outside the class when the list was posted, and searching and searching for my name. I remember, too, the poem I used as an "audition," and how stupid I felt afterwards. Dumb poem! Why did I write you? Why did I think you were any good? I had a slightly weird writing history in school. Very early on-- I'm talking first grade, I think-- my teacher wrote on my report card that she expected to see my name on the New York Times Bestseller List. My mom, who was an English teacher and thrilled! thrilled! thrilled! by t

Art school dropout

Don't think I've ever told the whole real story of how I came to be a writer. I'll start today. This could take a while. I entered Furman University in South Carolina as an art major. After just a semester, though, I realized that the school was not the right fit for me. (The cafeteria was segregated, for a start.) I transfered to a community college for the remainder of the year because I had missed the deadlines to transfer to any of the other schools I was interested in. My big hope was to go to the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD), but I applied to several other schools "just in case." The acceptances came in quickly-- Pratt, Parsons, I don't even remember where else. I took a trip into the city by myself one day to see how it felt, though, and a man followed me from the subway to Parsons. I ended up hiding in a bathroom for at least an hour until he left. Decided the city was not the place for me. So I eagerly awaited the response from RISD. I watched

Some new photos, just 'cause.


Crazy 8s and Random 8s

Just noticed Christine also tagged me for Crazy 8s. I accept. :) 8 things I'm passionate about 1. Being a mom 2. Chocolate chip cookies and milk 3. Disability issues, specifically Down syndrome 4. Music with excellent lyrics-- try Counting Crows and Indigo Girls 5. Musical theatre, in all its forms 6. Children's books 7. Fighting injustice, defending underdogs 8. Homemade things 8 things I want to do before I die 1. Have more children 2. Make more crafts 3. Take vacations, pretty much anywhere 4. Go to more Renaissance Faires 5. Learn to cook 6. Get smarter 7. See scammers put out of business 8. Get back to the theatre in some capacity... maybe backstage 8 things I say often 1. I love you 2. You are the sweetest baby in the whole world 3. Are we out of milk? 4. I have to go to the post office 5. People are weird 6. Have you seen my shoes? 7. Awesome 8. I have to get some work done 8 books I've recently read 1. All the Available Light 2. Marilyn Monroe 3. Marilyn Among Frien

What was your favorite birthday?

Christine over at the blog From Dates to Diapers is having a birthday bash this week, and as is the nature of cool people, giving other people presents for her birthday. One of the ways to win is to respond to her blog prompts, and I'm going to take her up on this one-- an unforgettable birthday surprise. I was in college. My roommate had a thing about birthdays-- she always wanted to make sure that no one was forgotten on their birthdays, even if they were people on the floor who we didn't know very well. I thought that was a special thing about her. Can't remember now whether or not she actually bought everyone little presents... I think it was just a card, but still. Most of the people on our floor were freshmen, away from home for the first time, and knowing someone remembered your birthday is a good thing. Anyway. I had a favorite a cappella band at school. I'm kind of an a cappella junkie, if you must know. But The Dear Abbeys were the ones I actually followed a

Reflections on pumping

Well, here we are at 7 months, and I'm still a "full-time pumper," meaning that I use a breast pump every 3 hours. I had planned on doing it for 6 months, and to be honest, thought that was rather heroic. But then I joined an online group called "PumpMoms," and the first couple of messages I read were sobering: there were two messages from moms who had been exclusive pumpers for a year, and were writing to say they were finally calling it quits. Damn. A year. Well, if they could do it... I felt wimpy for stopping at 6 months. The APA recommends breastmilk for a year, so these women were determined to provide it. It was like coasting along at the end of a race, only to have someone pass you and tell you they're going to run the race again. A personal challenge. Or peer pressure, depending on how you look at it. Either way, I decided I would try to make it to a year, too. I can't pretend that it's fun, though. I've pumped in the oddest places-- inc

Recycled notebooks

For just about every book I've written, I've kept a large looseleaf notebook filled with notes, correspondence, photocopied medical studies, etc. If I kept all these notebooks on my shelves, though, they'd crowd me out of my office eventually-- so I reuse them. I have two big ones (1 1/2 inch ring binders) and two smaller ones that I keep swapping out when it's time for a new book. It's always a strange feeling, though, tossing out the old. Each of those notebooks represents several months of my life. But when I look through them, I realize I'm done-- there's no need to hold on to a hundred newspaper articles about bullying when the book is already in bookstores. So I throw the notebook contents in the recycling bin and put a new label on the spine of the notebook... but it's still hard to do. Only once did I regret it, and that was my Celine notebook. I still know which one it was. I replaced it with notes for another book, but every time I look at it,

She has her first cold

and I gave it to her. Waaaaaaaah!!! *Flogs self forever.*

Mommy, I don't like carrots

And here's the video to prove it. And a still shot. :)

I had a dream of Sarina's first words

and they were, "I have to go to work." I asked her to repeat it in the dream, and she did: "I haf-ta go to work." I was so excited that she was talking, and so sad that that's what she was saying. I knew it meant that she had heard me say that too many times. Sometimes my dreams are really on the nose.

The whole publishing world moved

Oh, yeah, and a PS to my last post: the whole publishing world played musical chairs while I was off in babyland. Two of my favorite agents have left publishing altogether (one's opening a retail store and the other is in nursing school), one of my favorite editors moved houses and I found out only by accident, another is now a freelance writer... I know I was out of the loop for a while, but was it really that long? Who moved my cheese? (I actually have no idea if that's an appropriate use of that phrase, seeing as I've never read the book. It just felt right.)

How will I write again?

I didn't expect it to be this hard to reconcile motherhood and writing. I figured all along that I was so lucky to be in the position I'm in-- I work from home and make my own schedule, so I always thought I'd be able to continue fairly easily once baby arrived. I've hesitated to write a post like this, because it brings up another issue bloggers face: my editors could read this. My editors could read this and think, "She's not going to be committed to her work." But for the past 7 years, I've been telling the truth about my career and what I know about publishing in the hopes that it might help other writers, and I don't want to give that up now because it's a riskier topic. So I'll tell it. Somewhere around halfway through my pregnancy, I stopped actively looking for work. I continued the projects I was already contracted for, and took on some small work here and there, but took a "wait and see" approach to the bigger work. I d

More lead paint toy recalls

I can't believe this is happening again, but it is. Parents, if you haven't already, check out this handy toy recall finder . Mattel has announced its third recall this summer for lead paint in children's toys. This time it's Barbie accessories, Geo Trax locomotive toys, and Big, Big World 6-in-1 Bongo Band drums. I was blissfully unaware of how poorly regulated products for children are until I had a baby of my own. Now I'm just mad. Bottles, sippy cups, and breast pumps that leach toxic chemicals (BPA) into baby's milk, botullism in baby food, lead paint in toys... Sarina's just 6 months old, and these things have all happened just since she's been born. Mums The Word is collecting comments to send to the FDA, and they're promoting Natural Pod , a company that manufactures wooden and natural textile toys and clothing for babies and kids. I hope this is the end of the lead paint recalls. Somehow I fear there's much more to come.

Babywearing sling contest

Ooooh, I so want to win this. If you do, too, hurry on over before 10:00 tonight. It's a Strawberry Fields Forever sling from Rockin' Baby , and the contest is here . And in keeping with the theme, here's a new Sarina-n-me pic with our wrap on.

4 major milestones in 5 days

Clearly, the child is going to be the sort who needs the gauntlet to be thrown down before she acts. As if to mock my second to last post, she has decided to hit all her milestones at once (like astonwest's niece). Three days before her 6-month birthday, she sat up by herself. No real warning. I didn't think she was ready to do it. But she did it-- and then stuck her arms in the air and bellowed "Aaahhhhhh!" in a victory cry. Two days later, she started kneeling. The next day, she stood up in her crib (and gave Mom a case of the vapors. Mom was about to get in the shower, saw vertical legs in the video monitor, and ran in to see what was going on-- promptly scaring the heck out of the poor baby, who bit down hard on the crib rail that she was gumming). Today, she crawled. She crawled! At Aunt Michelle and future Uncle Jimmy's house. She had been in a crabby mood most of the day, but made up for it about an hour before we went home, when she began crawling to reach

An incomplete list of things that make my baby laugh

1. When I touch her nose and shout, "BOOP!" 2. When I talk like Donald Duck. 3. When I lie on my back and put her on my knees and help her "fly." 4. When I kiss her feet. 5. When I raspberry or kiss her belly. 6. When I whisper "shooshooshooshoo" and turn my head back and forth (um, maybe you have to see this one in person. It's a laugh riot). 7. When Anthony sings "Cotton Eyed Joe." 8. When she's sucking her pacifier and I pretend to suck the handle end. 9. When I imitate the way she grabs my face and slobbers on my cheek. 10. When I use hand puppets. 11. When I lie behind the cat and pretend the cat is saying "BEEP." 12. When I kiss from cheek to cheek as fast as I can a quazillion times. 13. When I slap my face like the Home Alone poster. 14. When I make it look like any toy is flying toward her nose. 15. When I quietly pop up on the side of her crib, surprising her. 16. When I move her around in a circle, imitating a ferris

Stalled on the milestones

Sarina was so ahead of schedule for her first three months-- she was holding in her own pacifier on day three, reliably flipping over from back to front and holding up her head by month three, vocalizing, holding on to toys, and so on-- that nothing could have surprised me. Walking and speaking in full sentences by six months? Sure. By month four, when she was rocking back and forth and hurling herself around the room by dragging her head while she quasi-crawled, we all took bets on how much longer it would be until she really crawled. My bet was three more days; no one bet longer than two weeks. But here we are, closing in on six months, and she's actually made no progress since then. She also makes exactly the same vocalizations as she did at three months. No consonants. Just a steady stream of "ahhhh"s and "eh"s and the occasional "ooh." She doesn't sit up well, even with pillows. She doesn't "razz" or mimic my faces. (On the other

New baby pics, and the lump

Dawno asked for them. And what Dawno wants, Dawno gets. (I fear her sparkly powers.) And this one's for psychic Amy Derby, who predicted a few posts ago that Sarina would crawl backwards first. The next day, I took this: Yep, that's Sarina stuck under the couch. How she accomplished that is beyond me. More photos coming soon. Oh, and by the way, no one ever told me how absolutely tear-your-heart-out miserable it is when your child gets her first injury... on your watch. Sarina is still trying her darnedest to crawl, and she's very mobile now (even if the crawling isn't technically accurate). She sort of just hurls herself forward, dragging her head most of the time. Or she gets up all the way with her butt in the air, leans forward, flops down, and repeats until she reaches the desired toy. Like this: Anyway, she was doing this and getting too close to her Pack & Play, so I was spotting her and putting my hand over the plastic bottom piece. Then she suddenly changed

Courageous Blogging Award

Thanks to my friend Dawn Colclasure at Palms to Pines , who recently gave me the Courageous Blogging award. I now get the honor of passing it on, which I am about to do. I hereby bequeath this award to three lovely ladies: The first goes to Ann Crispin and Victoria Strauss at Writer Beware , because they kick ass. It's no easy matter sticking your neck out to protect writers the way they do every day. Thanks, literary superheroes. The second goes to Meryl K. Evans, who has a Bionic Ear Blog , where she detailed her progress when she got a cochlear implant, and has since blogged about CI issues in general there. I found it very interesting reading, and have always been glad she gave us a chance to take that personal journey with her.

Martinis with Mandy Moore

All last week, I called in to a radio station to win tickets to an event where Mandy Moore would sing a few songs, then mingle with the crowd signing autographs and answering questions. The event was called "Martinis with Mandy." I was so goofy with excitement when I won that the DJ asked me how old I was, because he was pretty sure I was a kid who could not drink martinis with Mandy. Yeah, my voice does that. I have to consciously NOT sound like a 12-year-old, particularly when I'm excited. I don't have a high-pitched voice, but for whatever reason, it sounds young. This is one of the reasons I'm wary of doing radio interviews. But anyway. I've admired Mandy Moore since A Walk to Remember . Didn't know her early albums, which is apparently a good thing, because she thinks they were pretty lousy. Her latest, though, Wild Hope, is a folk album. That's my stuff. So today was the big day and I, of course, brought my brother-- best audience member in the w

We interrupt this blog with an important message...

She's sleeping through the niiiiiight! Extra exclamation points all around!!! O joyous day! This is her, practicing her pout. I'm still staying up half the night, though, because I have several more books to read for the Writer's Digest Self-Published Books competition in the next couple of weeks. I guess I thought I was a faster reader than I am; it's taking me a long time to get through them. It's worth it, though. I really like the idea that at least one book is going to get plucked out of relative obscurity and get some big attention. I interviewed a fellow a couple of years back who won the contest and wound up with a 2-book deal with-- HarperCollins, I think. I keep hoping the big winner will be one of the ones in my pile, though the odds of that are low (there are thousands of entries; I'm reading about 65 of them).

New Motherhood and Patronizing Twits

I'll tell you the single most frustrating thing I've encountered as a new mom: hand-washing and the arguments that ensue over it. No, seriously. As I've learned in various places, one of the most important things you can do to protect a baby is to make sure that anyone who handles her washes his or her hands first. So I do my best to uphold that. And I'm sad to say that after four months, I'm still having the same arguments with people. I have no idea what's so difficult or traumatic about hand-washing, but there are people-- in my family-- who are determined never to do it. And who manage to seem freshly shocked each time I ask for it. (What? I'm supposed to wash my hands? I washed them last week when I came to visit! Isn't that good enough?) There are also people who can't seem to resist saying patronizing things after hearing me ask someone to wash his or her hands. The most common one is: I can tell you're a first-time mom. or It's becaus

Hair Today

There's a lot of stuff no one tells you about pregnancy until it's too late. I have run headlong into the latest one this week: somewhere around month 3 of your baby's life, YOU GO FRICKIN' BALD. I had learned that you lose hair after giving birth, but thought that was no big deal because you actually hold onto a lot of hair during pregnancy, making it super-full. I had great pregnancy hair. Only fair to lose it afterwards, I figured. But no. I'm not just losing the extra hair I gained. I have two actual, factual bald spots now, right above my temples. The rest of my hair is breaking and looks horribly damaged and thin all of a sudden, so I went ahead and did the cliched thing-- I got a "mom cut." I didn't mean to. The stylist actually apologized while cutting it. And it looks... bad. That's the sad thing about hair-- it takes so long to grow it back if you want it long (and I do). I need to cut it even shorter to get past the damaged parts, but it

Mail Woes

This is one of those deflating moments you never really think about when you're in the honeymoon stage of book publishing-- you know, the time between when you sign the contract and the first month or so after the book comes out. Those months are so full of possibilities. Then, there you are five years later with an unearned-out advance and a statement showing that you've managed to lose money in the last 6 months. How, you ask? Simple: the number of returns exceed the number of sales. "Returns" doesn't mean that a customer returned the book. It means that the book was sitting around on the bookstore shelf and someone who works in the bookstore finally decided it was just taking up space there and probably would never sell, so they get to return it to the publisher for full credit at any time. I guess some of those stores have been hanging onto the book for the full five years. Nice of them, really. Anyway, there does come a point-- maybe after the first two or t

If I'm back to my pre-preg weight, why am I still fat?

I'm actually two pounds below my pre-pregnancy weight, yet there's still this jolly little belly hanging around. I had refused to buy jeans in a bigger size because I was sure I'd be back to normal soon enough, but I gave in yesterday. Now I have fatty jeans. I also ordered a corset on eBay. What, me exercise? Pfaw! So it's been three and a half months since I became Momma Jenna, and I still can't get anything done. The advice I got most often when I was pregnant was, "Sleep when the baby sleeps." As I think I mentioned a few posts ago, that's not always possible when you're a "pumper." When she sleeps, I break out the breast pump. Then I have to wash it and get the bottles ready for the next time. And even though it sounds lovely to follow the advice of all the magazines that say things like, "The dishes can wait! Just take a nap!", they can't always wait. Eventually, you run out of things to eat on. So the practical truth

New Pictures of the Greatest Baby on the Planet

First off, you'll be thrilled to hear, I'm sure, that the day after I posted my reviews, we picked up a pack of Pampers Swaddlers and haven't looked back. What a huge difference! The blowout ratio has gone way down and Mommy doesn't feel like retching nearly as often. We also got a new (well, new to us) swing for her on Craigslist. It's the Fisher-Price Ocean Wonders Aquarium one, and boy, is it nice. She looks so comfy in it, and is very interested in the lights and mobile. But you really just want to see the pictures, don't you? Can't blame you. Here you go!

Baby product roundup: The best, the worst

First off, she's doing great. Still growing at an unbelievable rate (she's 3 months old and now the size of an average 6-month-old). Not sleeping through the night yet, though I hear rumors that this honestly reallyo trulio will happen one day ("Someday my sleep will come..."). Drooling a whole lot. Smiling and laughing. Making her mom melt. There are two main comments people make when meeting her: 1. She's huge! and 2. She's so fair! Both of these are surprises, as we're short and Italian. Well, Anthony's half Polish, which is where we assume the fair complexion and light hair comes from. She still lacks eyebrows, too. She looks darker in most photographs than she is, so I'll have to find one that's truer to life. She's the only person in the world who can make ME look tan (I'm mostly translucent). And now for our product roundup. While I was pregnant, I joined a pregnancy board where women talked about their "must-have" prod