Tuesday, January 27, 2015

A RMFW Blog - Why You Should Warm Up Your Writing

I thought I would post this writing-specific blog here, because I figured - why not?  Here is a short post that I wrote for Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers on why should warm up your writing. I feel like it could apply to bloggers as well - I know that I can't leap right into blogging normally, and when I do, it's total crap.

The other day I was trying to explain to someone why I can't just write for two hours.  In two hours, I can do a lot of things. I can clean a house, take my toddler to the park, watch a movie. But I can't write.  Sure, I can put words on a page, but I know in my heart that they will be tired words, useless words.  At the very most, my hope would be to accomplish two pages of barren junk with a pretty good ending.

It took me a long time to realize how I write, and even longer to realize that I need to warm up. At first I regarded having to warm up as a weakness, but later came to the understanding that knowing intimately EXACTLY how I write was a strength. Denying what makes you great as a writer will hurt your career more than it will hurt your pride.

So - what exactly is warming up for a writer? 

I could use a sports metaphor here, but I'm not going to.  To quote Mindy Kaling: "Athletics and sporting are the great non-loves of my life."  Instead, let's compare it to vocal music.  When a musician prepares to give the world her contribution to the wild beauty of art, she warms up.  A Met lead soprano wouldn't dare step on a stage without warming up her instrument.  If she did, her performance would be sub-par vocally, but also her nerves would overtake her senses more easily, seeing how she had not run the piece ahead of time.  More devastatingly, the joy of the performance would be lowered, for both the singer and the audience. The art would suffer in the end.

So - let's have a frank conversation - are you as a writer struggling because of your lack of warm up?

Do you spend a lot of time staring a blank screen, grasping at lose concepts? 
Do you struggle with finding the right word for complicated sentences? 
Are you spending massive time distracted by the internet or "research?"
Do you spend more time planning your plot than actually writing?
Does your writing tend to be rambling with short bursts of inspiration? 

If these apply to you, then I would think about how you warm up your instrument: your pen. Or keyboard. Or blackboard. Or whatever.

First, remember that you are starting on the ground level. You are ramping up to greatness.  Let your words RISE, like yeasty bread in the morning.  Warm-up writing should be simple, clean and easy.  You won't get stuck on a warm-up because it's impossible. Think of it as laying the road that you will later travel on.  Write a blog, an entry in a personal journal or a letter, heck, even an email to a friend.  What matters is that you are turning on the part of your brain that says "it's time to write."  By doing this, you push open your creative doors and prepare to stroll through them.  And don't worry about quality  -you'll face the hurdles later when you are working on your real writing.  Right now is all about enjoyable, brainless writing.   Fire up the engines, stoke those inspirational flames and go.

How long should you warm up?  I would say that depends on what kind of writer you are. I warm up for about an hour before I begin working on my novels.  I have found that my best writing occurs when I have about a five hour writing stretch. Anything less than that is not within my peak writing abilities, and anything more than that starts to get messy and tired - I see it when I edit, every time. "Oh yes, here is where I timed out."  Everyone writes different, and so you should be able to tell when you are sufficiently warmed up.  Maybe five minutes works for you, maybe two hours of warming up is what you need to have two brilliant hours of word craft.  Are the sentences flying fast and furious? Is your brain tingling with great ideas, story concepts? Are your fingers dashing out words like they are moving on their own.

Good. Now you are in the good writing zone. You've warmed up your writing voice and you are ready to share your gift.  Step out on the stage and wow us. 

Monday, January 26, 2015

My First Baby Gender Reveal Party


 Last week I went to my first gender reveal party! I've seen these on Pinterest, and I've thought that they looked really fun, though since we adopted, this probably won't be a thing for us, but that's okay! Some people get gender reveal parties, some people celebrate their adoption day, but a baby is a reason to celebrate, each time, every time.   Also - I love Katie and Dave. They are some of the nicest people ever, despite Dave's love of photobombing perfectly good friend selfies.

I've been dying to find out what Katie's baby is going to be, so I was more than ready to head to the party last weekend for the big reveal. That morning Katie, her hubby Dave, and her Mom went to the ultrasound. The tech secretly told Katie's mom the sex of the baby, and her friend Erin - who threw an amazing party! - quickly prepared the reveal for that evening.  Katie and Dave literally had no idea what it was.

But first, there was yummy food to be had, and decorations to take pictures of!  How about these Hershey bars, with the He and the She shaded in?  I thought that was so creative!

Or this duel gender table, decorated for a boy...or a girl! Above it are all the Old Wives tales about gender, and then a voting board where you voted for what you thought the baby would be.

We were instructed to wear either pink or blue, depending on what we thought it was. Naturally, all the girls were wearing pink and the boys were wearing blue. It turns out I don't actually own anything light pink OR light blue, something that must be remedied soon, so I rocked a grey shirt with little pink bows and a pink bracelet. Though technically my jeans were blue, so I'm not sure what that means. I think it means I need more clothes. (Ryan would disagree.) My friend Amanda even wore awesome hot pink lipstick and hot pink jeans! She had it way more together than I did.

We laughed and chatted, and then it was time to see what little bundle of joy Katie and Dave will be expecting this summer.

Erin, the host, had put colored  helium balloons into the cutest box ever after Katie's mom had told her the sex of the baby. She sealed it, and then the whole family opened the box at the party. AJ was thrilled, as you can see.

They had a little drum-roll and the video cameras rolling, and I was taking pictures, but seriously, my heart was hammering the entire time, and I'm not even having the baby. It was intense. I don't think I could ever do this for many reasons, but the fact that I would faint from anticipation is one of them. I do not do well with surprises or public emotion.

The box opened and...

 It's a boy! They are having a boy! I knew I wore my jeans for a reason. There was much laughing and hugging after that.  Congratulations my dear friends! I don't know what face Dave was making behind the balloons, but knowing him, it was probably a shrug, "Sorry?"

 Deacon James. I can't wait to meet you.   You have no idea how loved you already are. And how much I love your name. And your parents.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

In The Bleak Midwinter

It's winter. Midwinter, to be specific, that time of year when Valentines Day hasn't quite made it to the forefront and Christmas is sadly over.  It's bleak. It's bleak and busy at the same time.There's so much to catch up on, so many things strewn around my living room, it's like Overstock.com mated with a library and they had a baby made of children's socks and furniture boxes.  I just found a piece of celery in my new office. That's about how things are going on the unpacking front.  However, on the life front, I am finding this midwinter weather totally blah, with it ranging from too-cold-outside-to-play to holy-what-how-is-it-even-this-cold.  I don't know if it's seasonal depression or what, but I am definitely feeling MEH about the whole month of January.

Not everyone in our home is unhappy about this confined Midwinter weather.

Some people are downright loving it because it means they can play Lego Superheroes for a long, long time, bundled up under a blanket and giggling with joy.

Proof of the bleak midwinter?  We had a very unfortunate playground incident/Mom-FAIL a few weeks ago, when I took LittleM to a park that is usually packed to the brim with kids, seeing how it is like the coolest park in the world. It has a carousel! And a lake! And a splashpad!   For once, this huge, amazing park was empty!

 I thought, this will be great!
LittleM will have so much fun.
I'll take so many Instagram shots of him and the sky and the pretty, ice-crusted lake.
 Then I got out there.

 The thermometer said it was 39, but the wind, this bitter, awful wind that howled down into the valley of the playground was about negative 1200 degrees.  I was instantly freezing. LittleM was bundled up a bit more in a hat and gloves, so he was  a bit warmer, but he couldn't even walk into the wind because it was blowing so hard.  After about ten minutes, I decided we were DONE.  That's when LittleM decided to run into a huge herd of geese that was waiting nearby on a grassy hill, doing what geese do - pooping and being dumb. The geese - probably about 200 of them - took to the air when he ran at them, which was kind of inspiring and beautiful in that nature-y kind of way, and LittleM kept chasing them as they flew...right towards the lake.

This was about the time that my lungs were starting to really, really hurt and I realized that I was having to take deep breaths, bigger and bigger, even though the air going in was feeling weaker and weaker, and so I was taking more breaths to make up the difference. My lungs felt cold and hard, my mouth dry, my heart hammering with each ragged breath. That's when I realized I was close to having an asthma attack.  It's brought on especially by cold weather, and it didn't help that I was running around the playground in the freezing cold chasing my toddler who was chasing the ducks.  Right when I realized that I was having the attack and that my inhaler was in the car in my purse - a good five minute walk away - was when LittleM went careening after the geese. I had to run to catch him, and then when I did he did that crazy toddler no-bones thing, where he acts like he's a one of those blow-up car dealership inflatables, and he throws up his arms and sinks to his knees.  So he does this and begins crying hysterically because we've barely been to the park and he wants to chase the geese and here I am hauling him to the car already. I can't breathe, he's flailing and I'm having a hard time carrying him because he is 30 STRONG pounds of irrational toddler anger. Of course now a family has arrived in the bitter cold and they get to watch me struggle to the car, taking deep breaths, gasping as my huge toddler acts like I'm kidnapping him.  I wrestle him into the carseat (precision of language), and then frantically rummage through my purse as my breaths get shallower and shallower and LittleM screams bloody murder in the back. Finally, I found my inhaler and sucked that sweet medicine down into my lungs and pretended I was in Kauai, just for a second.

Then I sit back and breathe and everything is fine and it really wasn't a big deal except that I am feeling like the worst mother in the entire world.

What is it about mommy guilt? A normal person would be like "Well, that was terrible. Moving on!" but instead my inner monologue is more like : Why would you take him to the park when it was so cold? You get him all out of the car and excited and then take him right back, no wonder he's upset. Why didn't you take your inhaler with you? Why didn't you take him somewhere warm? Now he's back in the car AGAIN, and he needs to get his wiggles out, where will you take him next? Then you are going to have to put him back IN the car again after whatever magic thing you come up next. Good Pinterest Moms don't have these problems.

Other midwinter problems:  Ice.

 The slope of our driveway and the slope of our front steps is definitely Vertical Limit-esque.  We have to do this, pretty much, every time we leave the house.

Was anyone else scarred for life from that movie, when the son has to cut his Dad free and you think "This kid would be in counseling forever."  Chris O'Donnell, you were my life for a few months there.

 Back to ice: I was on my way out to get groceries to have some friends over for dinner when I suddenly found myself with my feet out behind me and my face hurtling towards the ground. I landed hard on my forearms and then scraped my face along the ice.  Ryan was inside with LittleM, and so I just laid there, facedown in the driveway, for like five minutes, until I could roll over and make my way back inside, looking much more like an 80 year old than I had a few minutes earlier.  I can't imagine what my NEW neighbors thought as I just laid on the ground with my face in the snow, groaning about the ice and telling myself "get up. Get up."  I crawled inside and sent my friend a quick text: "Fell down, not going to the grocery store or making dinner. Pizza? Still want you to come."

Ryan is regularly deicing the cars, and LittleM is regularly dressed up like the kid from a Christmas Story, bundled so you can only see his face, which is okay because my child looks adorable in hats.

Not to be a total downer here, so let's look ahead - I'm excited about what's coming in February! For our shared birthdays, my sister got us tickets for The Colorado Symphony plays songs by Danny Elfman from Tim Burton movies, which is the most ridiculous name for anything ever, but it's going to be amazing because:

1. I love going to the symphony
2. I love Tim Burton movies
3. I love Danny Elfman music in Tim Burton movies.

It could only be better if it included fudge brownies and wine.

The Colorado Symphony Orchestra plays Danny Elfman songs from Tim Burton movies sponsored by Ghiradelli and Cupcake Moscato sounds literally like a perfect evening.

We have some fun birthday stuff planned in addition to that, including a crafting night with friends and possibly a fun double date.  It's going to be a good month, especially with my little Valentine who put a bunch of plastic hearts in a cup today and then drank it and then had glitter mouth, like he had been at a rave.

Midwinter has it's brighter moments, I guess. But I'm ready to be in the love month.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

My Son Is Better At Scarf Dancing Than Yours

Hello there! Amazing news - I am writing this short blog post from my HOME computer, complete with Wifi and the Chess Soundtrack playing in the background. It's heaven. My new office is painted, organized and I am no longer wanting to cry every time I look at the pile on paperwork on our counter-tops that was homeless and destitute for so long. My books! My pens! My grandmother's typewriter! My stationery! It's all here.

WE are also here, and life is moving forward!  First of all, in really interesting parenting news, LittleM had his first music and movement class at the library.  I was nervous, this being his first class and all, but I shouldn't have been.  After sticking by my side for a few minutes, the kid was running around, waving his arms up and down like he does when he's really excited, pretty much the cutest thing in the entire world to watch.  They sang some songs, and I only had to be a helicopter mom once when LittleM stole a bottle from a baby.  There were some times where I had to tell him what to do "Go get a scarf...thingy!", but other than that, he totally rocked it, and he was one of the youngest kids there!

Watching him dance with a scarf was maybe the highlight of my entire life. I may be getting ahead of myself saying this, but he will no doubt be attending the Ivy League school of his choice on a full-ride scarf-dancing scholarship. He's pretty much Nadia Comaneci.

Other than that exciting afternoon, we've just been settling into the new house, making sure that LittleM gets lots of time at the house so that he really feels like it's home, his home.  Our wonderful realtor gave us a gift card to Furniture Row, and so yesterday we headed over there and picked out two fabulous rugs. I've never owned like a real rug, so I feel like I have officially passed into the realm of adulthood. It's that and my Naked3 Palette that make me feel like I am a grown up now. I have a kid, two rugs and grown up makeup. What else is there really? Lots of tea options? Got it.

I had to take a picture of my guys because they were wearing their adorkable hipster vests together.  When they match like this, I practically tackle them with my camera. It's irresistible, those cute smiles. I would dress them head to toe the same if I was allowed to, which I'm not. Boys can only take so much.

LittleM is growing so fast. His language skills have exploded in the past week.  He went from maybe ten words - Mama, Dada, Cici, kitty, eat, Elmo, hi and bye - to about 50 words overnight: guitar, doggy, church, door, gate, stair, downstairs, outside, cookie, milk, snow, sun, moon, monkey, tiger, read, chicken, book, jammies....

It's amazing. He's putting sentences together "Hi Daddy! Eat grapes, yeah? Bye-bye, church?"  and I just continue to marvel at how smart he is, and how clear his words are.  Also, the cuteness. The cuteness never stops. Especially because everything is in the form of a question.  "I'm Ron Bergundy?"

Now that everything in the house is in its place, I am starting to consider decorating, and find myself a little lost. We've really relied on Pinterest this move, and I am pretty much combining different rooms to make rooms that I want to live in in the new house.  I don't think I'm terrible at decorating, but I'm not great either.   It's getting there. Here is our living room in progress. I do love our fireplace. I also love the Star Trek coffee mug in this picture.

  We ordered a bunch of Ikea furniture for the bedroom, and it all comes on Tuesday.  Ryan and his friend Dave are having a little furniture making/have a beer party, because that's what boys find fun, I guess. I literally cannot think of anything less fun than putting a room of Ikea furniture together.  

I  am literally this guy:

Other than that, we are just moving along, trying to get everything in the house where it needs to go, something that takes weeks and months. I'm face-timing a lot with my sister, who is on a two week trip to Pittsburgh (ugh) for work (double ugh) and is really bored. I really like this picture we took today, where from this angle she looks like a high school track star and I look like her elderly aunt who is worried about all those boys she's been talking to.  The forehead is worried.

 Don't worry, someday I'll cut off all her hair.  That's about it, though I'm happy to say that now that I have my computer and office back, I will be blogging more, though I am pretty tied up in edits for a certain Queen. Why am I editing Queen again? That's an interesting question, one that I would LOVE to tell you more about, but I can't, not JUST yet, but soon.  I know, secrecy is lame, but so is getting sued.

Love you friends.  And now that I have my computer back, I'm bopping over to some of my favorite blogs to catch up! 

Monday, January 5, 2015

Crazy Stupid New House Love

I write this remotely, and when I say that,  I imagine myself quiet like a traveling journalist in a dangerous county, but in reality, I'm sitting at a coffee shop, my first writing day to myself in a couple of weeks!  It's glorious! We still don't have Internet at the house, which is sort of maddening, because when you move, you have to order so many things online - blinds, because you don't want to give your neighbors a free peep show every night and you realize that their living rooms looks right into your bedroom, and also you don't like feeling like any creeper with a hammer can watch you watch TV without your consent.  A new trash can, because yours is suddenly the wrong size in the wrong place and you knock it over 13 times a day.  Mats, because your new carpet is so beautiful and you want it to stay that way.  A grey waffle shower curtain, because...pretty.  So here I am, at the coffee shop, setting aside an hour to take care of things (this includes blogging) before I dive deep into Neverland and ships from the 1900's that I know nothing about. It's a research day. Not my favorite sort of writing day, but a necessary one.

So yeah, we moved!  It has been a crazy six months leading up to this, and I'm sure everyone who knows us is glad that we are finally moved in so we can stop talking about it and stop stressing.  I have about ten more grey hairs now than I did before the move, I'm sure of it.  Putting a house on the market, selling it, than having buyers pull out, then pulling the house off the market for a few months, putting it back on and then dealing with five different contractors in the period of a week to make sure we are good to go is enough to give anyone grey hair and a nervous twitch in the form of copious handfuls of Honey Nut Cheerios. On the day of our move, it was at one point -9 degrees, the coldest day this year so far. We were terrified that no one would show up to help us move, but they did - MAN THEY DID. Men are amazing. Let me just tell you. We had, at one point, 16 men helping us. 16!!!  They moved our entire house from one house to another, furniture in the right rooms and everything, in three hours. Three hours!!  Just before they broke for lunch - a sad pizza affair since I underestimated how many people there would be - WIFE FAIL - they sang the Doxology in our living room and my heart could have burst with thankfulness and joy.  Thanks to my Mom watching LittleM overnight, we were able to unpack the entire day and then grab a quick celebratory dinner at our favorite restaurant, Thai Basil.  We toasted with hot honey lemon tea to our many blessed and the fact that now we are finally home.

 Ryan and I have been so stressed lately, and I'm happy - SO happy - to announce that the minute we moved into the new place, all the stress seemed to clear. We could breathe again. This house is peaceful. We feel peaceful in it, even though there is literally everything we own in a pile of boxes all around us.  To quote Fault In Our Stars AGAIN, " I fell in love the way you fall asleep: slowly, and then all at once". I am falling in love with our house, so quickly, so all at once.

 I love the octagon window that we can see from our bed, the moonlight bathing the whole house in it's glow. I love the stone counter tops and the big bathtub that I can stretch my arms out in . (I learned early that if you leave a wine glass on the bathtub, the next morning you will inevitably break it in the bathtub with the shower curtain). PS - that book is amazing.

I love LittleM's room, the way it gives him so much room to run and play - and for that same reason, I adore his playroom - a place he can make a mess and I don't have to care, not one bit.  My little boy loves his playroom so much, it's the first place he runs in the morning - besides towards whatever dangerous power tool is left out from the night before.  Here he is seeing the playroom for the first time with his Nana, who flew out just to help us pack up the house. I don't think we would have finished without her.

 Our entertainment room is so cozy! It's so much more comfortable than our last one, and I am so looking forward to curling up with my husband, my sister and my friends and watching movies and premium HBO shows. We have no Internet yet, and so in the evenings, burnt out from the endless unpacking and taking things like screwdrivers away from our son, we have just picked a movie out from our collection and watched it - and we've rediscovered why we loved these movies in the first place: Avatar (Ryan: "we own Avatar? WHY?"), Pitch Perfect ("Oh you speak German - now I know why you don't like fun things"), and Crazy Stupid Love (the look on Ryan Gosling's face when Steve Carrell opens his velcro wallet - I die every time).   A lady from our church brought us yummy soup and we've been eating it all week, cuddled under our blankets in our new house, loving it all - soup, our favorite movies, house, our little family.

Here is my new view from the kitchen - it's a good one, I think.

Sure, there are some things that I don't love: our dishwasher broke and wouldn't drain after we used it the first time, and that's a real bummer when you are handwashing 95 dishes and out 500 bucks.  There is a weird window air conditioning unit that just sits in the middle of the living room that we are eventually going to have to do something about. The light switches seem to have been wired by a madman who just wanted to watch us endlessly flip switches and say "What does this one go to again?"  You can't open the oven without opening the fridge and Ryan punctured his leg with a knife and probably needs stitches but instead uses a butterfly band aid, which he would probably use if his arm fell off "It's a flesh wound!" These aren't great, but they are small things (except for maybe Ryan's wound), hiccups in our journey home, to our house that is just the right size for our family.  When I told Ryan I wanted a house warming party for Valentines Day, he laughed, he actually laughed, so I'm thinking now it's probably more like a mid-spring housewarming party.

Someday, when the rooms are all ready, I'll post beautiful pictures of the house, but that day month is not today. It's enough now to say welcome home.  Thanks for coming along for the journey. Now, back to writing, and then later today,  more unpacking.  Those mini-sweatshirts aren't going to hang themselves up.

Friday, December 26, 2014

Breaking Christmas Tradition for the Better

Our Christmas was simply magical. Even with all the boxes and the packing tape, even with our entire house being not in the right place, even with the fact that I am currently staring at a weird drawing of a wolf that Ryan found in his closet and placed on my pristine work desk, Christmas was perfect - and different. Different can be good. I need to learn to do different more often.

It started with celebrating Christmas Eve in a different sort of fashion this year - see, usually I go to the later services. I love Christmas Eve, the chill of the air, my fellow churchgoers dressed in their Christmas best...but I don't love the fight for seats or the dread I feel at not being able to sit on the end of an aisle with a toddler who might at any moment have a nuclear meltdown. "We call him...Godzilla."

 So this year, I decided with some lamenting to try the noon service at our church, and bonus - my pastor husband actually got to sit with us! We got to worship as a family! It was beyond wonderful!   The service was perfectly quiet and not very full at all. There was no rush for seats, just people there, ready to worship and celebrate the coming of the Savior. It was beautiful and relaxing. I felt like instead of being stressed by the crowds (big crowds really stir up my introvert anxiety), I was actually in the right mind to worship. Noon service forevermore!   Of course the one day I have my husband sitting by me, LittleM naps through church instead of trying to color the pews.

 Of course afterwards, I wrangled not one but TWO people to take our picture in front of the tree. 

 After service, we headed home to get ready for my sister and Mom to come up for Christmas Eve. About three days ago, I sent a text to both of them that basically said "I cannot throw a nice Christmas Eve dinner this year. Everything is packed, all my nice dishes and serving dishes are gone, and I don't have the energy to plan, shop for and cook a big meal. How would you feel about a pajama Christmas where you come up and we hang out in our pjs and watch a movie and go see the lights and I order pizza for everyone, because sad Christmas."

 Their response?  YES YES AND YES. I think sometimes I tend to cling too hard to certain Christmas traditions, be it the late Christmas Eve services, or even the need to make a perfect Christmas Eve dinner, roast and all. It's nice when we can do that, but that's not what Christmas is acutally about.  Luckily, a very nice family at our church gave us an Old Chicago Gift Card and so I was like "Done and done!" We picked up pizza and salads from there and munched on them in front of the tree while LittleM ran around like a maniac in a Santa Hat. "Tanta! Tanta!"

After dinner was over, we all bundled up and drove to see two amazing Christmas displays.  There is a (somewhat lame) saying about seeing Christmas through a child's eyes, and I can tell you that for the first time this year, we did.  LittleM was over the moon in toddler delirium seeing the Christmas lights. In particular, he loved an inflatable peek-a-boo Santa and a Choo-Choo train. All night he just repeated "Tanta? Tanta? Tanta?", leading my sister to snap "No one say the S WORD!" in the car when he momentarily forgot about it, but then he tentatively said "Choo-choo?" Then: "CHOO-CHOO? CHOO-CHOO? CHOO-CHOO?"

 The next morning, LittleM woke up pretty cranky and not very much like himself.  Together we decided that he had just had too much stimulation in the last few days (we read a great article about Gaslighting Your Kids and wanted to take the advice to heart) and so Ryan headed off to Christmas Day worship and LittleM and I just stayed home and played quietly all morning. It was pretty great, actually, until there was a Mr. Hanky incident in the bathtub, and that's all you need to know about that because I don't want to dry-heave my way through this blog post.

After Ryan came back, we headed down to my sister's house for lunch and opening presents.  My mom helped her cook and set up for Christmas Day since she's been working like crazy and it was so lovely! They even folded napkins like Christmas trees. This was the kind of thing I could not handle this weekend, so I'm glad someone did a nice dinner.

We had prime rib and potatoes and some heavenly crunchy rolls, and then it was time to open presents.  LittleM got an Elmo from my sister, which he will NOT put down.  Is this a developmental thing? I'm guessing so. He hasn't attached to the 90 stuffed animals that I've given him in the past, so of course it's Elmo. It's just so easy to say, and I made the HUGE mistake of letting him watch a two-minute Elmo song on the computer while I was editing and ever since, it's all he can think about. We were like, "Yeah, this is why we don't let him watch TV." 
 Now we have an Elmo problem.  (It's actually pretty cute.)


 When he saw my sister this weekend, he took her arm and looked at her and said "Cici...Elmo?"  Like, "Do you know about Elmo? Do you know where he lives? I saw him once and then never again."  So yes, LittleM got his Elmo this Christmas. His face when opening the present was priceless. Today Elmo is "sleeping", so he can notice his other toys.

I got some great gifts, due to the fact that my family is amazing gift givers: Silver and gold earrings that I'll wear every day, an amazing set of necklaces, the Godzilla movie, beatific ice cream bowls, and a pair of L.L Bean Moccasin Slippers from Ryan. I've been wearing them for about three hours this morning and I can't imagine how I ever lived without them. They are like actual heaven in wool form, cradling and caressing my feet while still being so L.L Bean.

My sister got me the Naked3 Eyeshadow Palette and I'm excited, but also so very intimidated. I plan on watching no less than 20 tutorials over the next few days, when I really should be packing. Ryan also got me these SUPER CUTE reader girl mugs from Barnes and Noble. I've made it very clear that these are MY mugs and no one else in the family is to use them. Is that too much to ask?  THESE ARE MY WRITING MUGS!

We surprised my Mom with a carseat, so she can haul LittleM around, and the meaningful present that I got for my sister (A monogrammed Roman Numeral necklace with the date of LittleM's adoption stamped on it - the day she became an Aunt forever) didn't arrive on time, so that was not my favorite thing.  Happy mid-January, Cindy!   I got my husband a three day pass to the Denver Comic-Con with two of his good friends in May. He was so surprised and is pretty much ready to go tomorrow. (They are talking group costume, I'll make sure to keep you informed of that progress.)

Today we are snowed in - the snow fell heavy and hard down from the mountains last night on our (somewhat scary) drive home, big fat flakes that barreled down on the car, making the roads slippery. Somehow it's perfect that we are all snowed in together. Ryan and LittleM are currently taking naps, I'm blogging, doing laundry and packing, and we have a pre-made lunch of leftover ham and potato casserole from the Hall family.  It's going to be a pretty great, low-key day.

You probably won't hear from me for a week or so, due to our move this weekend and who even knows when the Wi-Fi will be hooked up at the new house. So a Happy New Year as well! I have such exciting news to share in the New Year, house stuff, book stuff, adoption stuff, good stuff all around. I hope you'll come by.

Merry Christmas! And here's to breaking traditions that need to be broken!

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