Sunday, November 30, 2008

Friday, November 28, 2008

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

So, How Was Your Monday?

Here's a summary of mine:

I was up late writing on Sunday night into Monday morning, so Paul got up with the girls. He brought Ada in to nurse with me around 6:30 am, then fed the girls breakfast and got them dressed while I tried to doze. (This is rarely effective, but always so tempting - and appreciated.) In the end, my assistance was required to find Ellie a pair of long pants. I'd only had a couple hours of sleep, but my day had begun.

I got myself dressed, and we loaded the girls into the car. Ada and I took Ellie to school, then headed to the grocery store. After shopping, I played puzzles and board games with Ada, but mostly I just tried to stay awake. Too many nights of too little sleep wear me a little thin.

Ellie's bus arrived at 12:30, and we all headed inside to make lunch together. After lunch, I chatted briefly on the phone with my mom while the girls played together. Then it was nap time. After getting both girls down to sleep, I collapsed in my own bed for an hour. By 4:00, we were awake.

The girls had snacks and watched Dora the Explorer while I straightened the house and popped dinner into the oven. (Thank heavens for Time for Dinner!)

Paul came home from work shortly before 6:00 and we had a lovely family meal. Afterward, he gave the girls a bath while I set out snacks for my book club.

Together, Paul and I got the girls ready for bed. Then I nursed and snuggled with Ada until my girlfriends started arriving at 7:30 and Paul took over bedtime duties.

My book club discussed an entertaining and provocative play called The Women, then moved into the family room to watch the 1939 movie starring Joan Crawford. (If the 2008 remake stays at the cheap theater long enough, several of us hope to go see that as well.)

By a quarter after 11, book club was over (it ran unusually long because of the movie) and it was time for my evening to begin. I did 45 minutes of cardio, then sat down with Paul to watch an episode of Law & Order from the Tivo for another 45 minutes. He made lattes, and I moved to the kitchen table and pulled out my computer.

First I put up my nightly blog post, then I alt tabbed over to my NaNoWriMo novel to get in my nightly 2000 words. Paul stayed up with me for a while, rubbing my feet the dear man, before doing the sensible thing and going to bed.

Shortly after 4:00 am I headed back to the bedroom to start the process all over.

But now it's Thanksgiving vacation, and the end of NaNoWriMo is in sight! I don't love the novel I wrote this year - we'll see what I think of it in a couple of months when I've let it settle and then reread it - but I learned something valuable. Last November I learned that I could write a novel. This year I learned that it can take me a whole year to write a novel at a pace of 2000-4000 words per week. And this November I learned that I can write a whole novel - this year's novel should be complete at 50,000 words - in a month without stopping my life.

As long as I sacrifice sleep.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Down syndrome advocates praise new law

A friend asked me what I thought of Missouri state Sen. John Loudon, and I had to go look him up. Hmm, I thought, weird question. For one thing, I don't live in his district. And I don't agree with most of his policy positions. I wonder why she asked me about him. That's because I hadn't read this article in the St. Louis Post Dispatch: Down syndrome advocates praise new law.

"When Missouri Sen. John Loudon and his wife, Gina, decided to adopt their third child, they knew three things: They wanted a little boy, they would name him Samuel and he would have Down syndrome."

I've sat on this blog post for a little while, because I didn't know exactly what I wanted to say about it. I still don't; this issue is emotional and confusing for me.

I'll start with the easy part, the legislation. You might have heard of the the bipartisan Kennedy-Brownback Pre-natally and Post-natally Diagnosed Conditions Awareness Act. Last year, Sen. Loudon proposed similar legislation here in Missouri, which he called "Sammy's Law." "The law requires medical professionals to provide accurate information on the outcomes of people with Down syndrome and inform mothers with a Down diagnosis of adoption resources."

A lot of people are uncomfortable with this. When we go see our doctors, we want to be sure that we're getting their educated, scientific, medical advice, not something that's politically mandated. I share that concern, for example with regard to telling women certain non-medical things when they seek abortions, or forcing them to watch an ultrasound before undergoing the procedure. That's not medicine; that's politics, and I don't think it has any place in the exam room.

But are two big differences here.
  1. Doctors are failing at their jobs when it comes to telling a pregnant woman that her fetus has Down syndrome. They are spreading fear and outdated/misinformation about Trisomy 21, and sometimes allow their own biases or fear of being sued make it seem as though they are encouraging women to decide to terminate. Boo, hiss.
  2. The language of the bill simply requires doctors to provide "accurate information on the outcomes." No politically motivated specific language is required, and there's no script to read. It's simply requiring physicians to do what they should have been doing already; providing accurate information to patients rather than spreading fear and misinformation.
Speaking of spreading fear and misinformation, the Post-Dispatch article spreads a little bit of that themselves, with this bit: "Down syndrome is caused by an extra copy of Chromosome 21, causing varying levels of disabilities, including decreased intelligence, slackened muscle tone, gastrointestinal problems and heart defects."

That makes it sound like all people with T21 have the above list of disabilities, while that's far from the truth.

But back to Senator Loudon. I think it's great that there are people who want to adopt children with Down syndrome. Really, it's fabulous, and I appreciate that that option was one available to me when I learned that Ellie would have DS. It's not an option I seriously considered, but it felt good simply to have options, which made my decision to have and keep Ellie feel even more like something I intentionally chose to do.

I do, however, feel a little uncomfortable with the idea of choosing a child based on any specific characteristics. I don't think it's always a bad thing. But it's something I need to think about more, because if someone told me that she wanted to adopt a child but only a blond girl, I might wonder if she's really ready to be a parent. Because there are no guarantees when it comes to having children, and I'm uncomfortable for trying to control for too many variables. What if your blond's hair darkens? Would you love her any less?

I am uncomfortable with generalizations about people with Down syndrome, as though everyone with the diagnosis is so this or loves that. What if your child isn't this or doesn't love that?

But I am truly grateful that there are people who are willing to adopt the unwanted, especially those who are deemed "imperfect" in some way and have a harder time finding homes, because they're older (no longer infants) or have a challenging diagnosis.

In the end, I disagree with Senator Loudon on most political issues, but I have a great amount of respect for him too.

Thanks to Flatflo for bringing the article to my attention and solving the mystery about why people were mentioning this guy to me.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Christmas Card

OK, so Paul won in a landslide (purple shirt photo). Here's a first draft of our Christmas card. We usually have a beautiful, posed picture accompanied by some sort of creative letter written by me.

This year we have three tiny candid shots accompanied by an even tinier bit of text about our year that - do you see it? would you if I hadn't told you first? - is basically ascii art.

It's a lazy, lazy year, but we might be sending out our cards early for once! And that's a wonder because I still haven't found a way to get our list under 100 names. Sheesh.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Please Settle This Marital Dispute

First, I am a button click away from ordering our photo Christmas cards. But there's a snag; Paul doesn't like one of the pictures I've chosen of Ellie! Please vote in comments for which picture you like better (or feel free to suggest another you've seen). Your input is greatly appreciated!
A) B)

Second, the expansion will open in a few short weeks, but in the meantime we still can't stay away from The Magic House!

Third, I'm in love:

I love them for just being them. I love that Ellie is using complete sentences now to tell me things, like which therapies she had in school that day and where Ada just bit her. I sometimes wonder if it's normal that my 1-year-old knows (many of) her letters, numbers, shapes, colors, and phonics . . . and says things like, "Ellie, lie down on your own pillow with me!" But then I decide to stop wondering and just enjoy, because I love all that, too.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

November is Boring Blogging Month

First up is a progress report on my fitness goal, because I know that you care. But it's a happy day because I passed a significant (to me) "decade" mark. You know what I mean, right? There's something so psychologically important about that tens place ticking down one. And I'm also more than 1/6 of the way to my goal. So, woo hoo!

Second, before I go to bed tonight I should have written more than 30,000 words on my NaNoWriMo novel, which is fabulous. I find the 20,000's to be the hardest part. And given the email pep talks the NaNoWriMo folks send out, it's a pretty common problem. After that, it's sort of a long, fun coast to the end. There's something psychologically important about passing 30,000 words for me.

I think I'll leave it there, and save the substantive bit for tomorrow. I'm off to write!

Monday, November 17, 2008

Blending of America

I've blogged about my grandfather and posted some of his writing before. Today, another of his meditations. This one cuts off rather abruptly and I wonder if it is finished as written. Perhaps he was distracted by a young grandchild tugging at his pants leg?

by Furman Lester

Man has forever been looking for new horizons, new goals to achieve, new objectives as a release for his frustrations in life, as a search for wealth, as an escape from oppression and discrimination and finally to satisfy in some way his curiosity and to look for the unexpected. Much courage and daring were involved. The ruggedness of the movement winnowed out the weak and lifted the strong in body and mind to explore the options fulfill at least part of the dreams.

For centuries, the restless migrants moved westward, always toward the setting sun, flooding the eastern coat of America and moving relentlessly across the mountains, the plains, and again the mountains. Eventually, the mighty Pacific was tamed in a limited way. But the search was not over. The creature became a searcher for the depths of the ocean and the bowels of the earth. He could not quench his thirst and began to explore the universe and to reveals secrets stored in nature for billions of years.

The exponent of these urges poured into the new land we call America. An over-populated Europe disgorged itself into a new land. Those searching for their own religious escape, traders, and explorers settled on the north east shores. The planters in the central Atlantic states and the search for gold, new land, and wealth in the south and southwest.

Lia Keyes


On the chance that you have a Google Alert on your name and you see this, I wanted to tell you that:
a) You have a really cool website, so
b) Now I'm even more excited to read your book, and
c) You are a hard person to contact.

I've been trying to find you over at NaNoWriMo but have failed. I hope the writing is going well!

--Sarahlynn (from this summer's Gotham Writer's Workshop)

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Walt Disney World in Pictures

It was a long drive, but we enjoyed it:

Our room was awesome:

And our view was even better:

We could (and did) watch the fireworks over the castle from our balcony, and we could hear them just fine, too. Ada's favorite things were the fireworks (Boom! Boom! Boom!), castle, Dumbo ride, and Minnie and Mickey Mouse.

Ellie loved everything Pixar (Block Party Bash with Toy Story et al, Finding Nemo - The Musical), the characters (especially the Mice), Kali River Rapids ride, and Playhouse Disney Live on Stage.

Paul and I loved enjoying it all vicariously through the girls. It was all about them this year; we didn't even ride any of our old favorites solo. Unsurprisingly, we couldn't have enjoyed ourselves more. And, yes, we did wear matching family t-shirts every day. When at Disney . . .

(This is Ada's hat.)

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

It's Still Working Out

I was thinking about adding a ticker to my blog so that I could see a pretty little graphical representation of how well my exercise regimen is going. I decided against it - at least for tonight - because my quick search yielded lots of cute little pumpkins bumping along a slider of pies but no options that didn't show either the weight or the weight loss. I'm not interested in the numbers on a pound-by-pound basis, though I am interested in a particular ending BMI range and percentage completion toward that goal. I like the look of a little ticker cruising along, but I don't need the numbers underneath. Maybe I'll create my own ticker dealie at some point.

But not tonight, because I'm supposed to be writing.

A textual representation, instead, with fractions: I am over 1/10 of the way to my goal, closing in on 1/6th. I hope to hit 1/4 by Thanksgiving, though that might be overly ambitious.

Fractions are how I manage long workouts, too. I'm 1/4 done . . . 1/3 . . . 1/2 . . . 2/3 . . . 3/4 . . . only 10 more minutes now . . . pant-pant-pant.

Currently addressing my graphical progress desires is my Wii Fit graph, which is truly fabulous, though not particularly portable. Other than that visual guide, the way that my clothes fit has been the most obvious change due to my workouts. And not the way you might think.

My socks won't stay up anymore. I might be losing some weight, but the primary change so far is some intense bulking up of my calves and some serious definition in my arms. I'm OK with that, even if it's winter and nobody else sees my legs or triceps very often.

I am Sleepless Woman, hear me roar!

Fourth Grade

Being ten years old is a difficult experience. The age varies from kid to kid, of course, but ten is often a challenge. There's long division, for one thing, and growing up for another.

Sometime in this "tween" age range, many kids begin the struggle to figure out who they are and who they want to be. They start to realize that their parents do not know everything and that adults are not infallible. And, for many of us, it's around this time that we learn that we ourselves are not perfect. Alas!

The main character in my NaNoWriMo novel is ten, in 4th grade, and has recently moved across the country and changed schools in the middle of the year. She has fabulous parents, but life is still very hard. Case in point: she has a really annoying much younger brother.

If you have any tales to tell about your own experiences being a "tween," parenting a ten year old, or just knowing folks around this age, I'd love to hear 'em. Comment away!

Monday, November 10, 2008

A Post-Abortion World

If abortion were outlawed tomorrow in all 50 states, it wouldn’t stop happening.

Desperate women would seek out illegal abortions from unlicensed practitioners.

Women with means would launch a medical travel industry for trips to Canada, Mexico, and elsewhere to get abortions.

Making abortion illegal won’t stop the debate, or drive it underground.

But if we put the debate aside for a moment, we can focus on the realities of the situation. We can identify common ground, and we can make a real difference, now. Instead of politically charged rhetoric that drives us further apart; we can save and improve lives, right here in America, right now.

We can fix our broken adoption and foster care systems.

We can make sure that no child in American goes hungry, and that every child in America has access to adequate healthcare. We can provide early intervention services and therapies for children who need them now in order to be fully participatory members of society later. We can guarantee prenatal care to all those who need it. We can remove many of the barriers that make women feel like they can’t have a baby now.

We can reduce the number of unplanned pregnancies. We can educate all pubescent kids about sex and what it can lead to. We can make sure all teens know the facts about pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases. We can make sure they know about birth control, its benefits and its limitations, because some of them will make the decision to be sexually active before they’re ready to be parents themselves.

And parents and churches can jump into the breach, educating kids about values, about right and wrong, good and bad decisions, responsibility. Our kids are going to hear about sex: from TV, movies, magazines, the internet, and each other. We can make sure that the information they hear outside is shaped by the value system we have structured and built. And we can provide good role models for our kids to follow. We can walk the walk in addition to talking the talk.

If we want to, we can effect real change. We can work together to improve and save the lives of millions of Americans. Or we can keep vilifying each other, dividing ourselves into Red and Blue, seeing each other as evil and wrong, and keep using abortion as a spur to drive increasingly polarized voters to the polls to elect officials who are in turn less interested in solving the problems than in political grandstanding.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to My Goal

First of all, it's very very hard to keep up with all the home stuff (this is the time of year when we have what seems like weekly meetings preparing for Kindergarten, plus all of our usual activities and therapy stuff, plus I'm doing this officer training thing at church) while doing NaNoWriMo and exercising nearly an hour a night. Very very very hard. I'm a little behind on my word count.

But the exercise and all that is going very well. Yesterday I had a funny little set-back. I ate well all day, no snacking or binging, and had a great workout. But my weigh-in was flat. Very frustrating. Ditto today. Weird.

It turns out that there was a bit of a biological cause. But also - and, I believe, mainly - there was something I was consuming that had a few more calories than I expected.

You know I love love love my lattes, right? Well, if there's anything in the world that tastes better than a latte, it's a Starbucks Egg Nog Latte, available only from mid-November through the end of the year. Paul got me one as a special treat yesterday, and it was even better than I remembered from last year. Heavenly! Delightful!

"Do you have a sugar free version?" my wonderful husband asked the barista.

"No, but it shouldn't be a problem," she replied. "The egg nog lattes have no extra sugar."

Whew, was she ever wrong.

I figured it was just a syrup, like Starbucks' other flavored lattes.

I was wrong, too.

It's not a syrup, and it's not sugar free. It's espresso and egg nog, with a little bit of 2% milk. Gulp. No wonder it's so good!

Serving Size 16 fl. oz.

Amt Per Serving
Calories 470
Fat Calories 190
Total Fat (g) 21
Saturated Fat (g) 13
Trans Fat (g) 0
Cholesterol (mg) 140
Sodium (mg) 230
Total Carbohydrates (g) 53
Fiber (g) 0
Sugars (g) 48
Protein (g) 16
Vitamin A 10%
Vitamin C 0%
Calcium 50%
Iron 2%
Caffeine (mg) 150

Thursday, November 06, 2008

October Photo Round-Up

I mentioned the 100,000 person Obama rally under the arch a few weeks ago. That was nothing, of course, compared to the huge crowd at Grant Park on Tuesday night. Whew! But here's how Obama looked to us, in a picture taken from the perspective of a child sitting on a parent's shoulders, then the same shot magnified:

But trust me, it was still worth it to be there.

Also, a couple of weeks ago, Ada had her first hair cut, an experience that she loved:

And, finally, you know, Halloween!
We had a lamb and an ogre. Ellie was going to be a "Big Pumpkin" until she fell in love with the Shrek costume at the store. I'm all about encouraging her choices, so . . .

They both loved trick or treating this year:

Wednesday, November 05, 2008


On November 1st, I wrote three things: a quickie blog post, a grocery list, and the first 2300 words of a new novel. Of these, I feel that the the novel comes in a distant third in terms of being interesting reading.

I am excited by my ideas. And I'm good at marketing; I can sell them to myself as stories I want to hear, want to write. But. When I'm writing, I'm sometimes bored. Which is weird and surprising to me. Writers are supposed to looooove the actual writing. I myself have always enjoyed writing. I'm energized by it and feel great when I've done it - like exercise - but I'm not always excited by the process itself lately.

This is especially strange because later, rereading, I'm sometimes very happy with what I've written. And the reactions I've gotten have been positive. So what's that all about?

Maybe it's just because a) I'm perpetually exhausted, and b) the stories take a little longer to type than they do to appear in my head, or even to read, so that they don't feel quite as "fresh" when I am typing them out. But I didn't really have this problem with the NaNo novel I wrote last year.

Another interesting difference between this year's NaNo and last, for me, is the pace. I remember sitting at the kitchen table typing and typing, checking my word count and finding 2000 still a huge distance away, getting more snacks and coffee, then plugging away some more. By now, however, I'm much more practiced at the craft, I guess, and 2000 word segments come naturally for me. Perhaps this has been part of my transition from being a short story writer (a form I continue to enjoy) and writing longer works of fiction.

I know that the conventional wisdom is that you should write what you read. That makes sense to me. But I'm not sure it works for me. I definitely read literary fiction. But some of the books I've been most passionate about have been from other genres, lots of other genres. I don't often read romance or westerns, but I read pretty much everything else. And sometimes, when I'm looking for fun and distraction, literary fiction is not my first grab.

But it's definitely where the writing feels most interesting, easy, and fun, for me.


I'm going to take tonight off: from blogging, from NaNoWriMo, from working out. And I'm going to stop drowsing on the couch and go to bed, knowing that my parents' votes for president counted for the first time in a long, long time. And that my own state has lost its status as the nation's bellwether.

My heart is full. And my children will grow up in a new world.

Both speeches tonight were beautiful. But I'll close with this bit from President-Elect Barack Obama's inspirational and historical Grant Park speech:

This is our moment. This is our time -- to put our people back to work and open doors of opportunity for our kids; to restore prosperity and promote the cause of peace; to reclaim the American Dream and reaffirm that fundamental truth -- that out of many, we are one; that while we breathe, we hope, and where we are met with cynicism, and doubt, and those who tell us that we can't, we will respond with that timeless creed that sums up the spirit of a people:

Yes We Can. Thank you, God bless you, and may God Bless the United States of America.

Monday, November 03, 2008


Today's the day! The sun is shining, the tank is clean and we are getting out of--[gasps]--the tank is clean. The tank is clean!

Happy election day.

(Why, yes, that is a Finding Nemo reference up there. For no good reason. But does one ever need a reason to quote from Finding Nemo? We had a whole month of Sunday School classes last summer on "The Gospel According to Disney/Pixar." It was a whole family experience and my girls enjoyed it greatly.)

Sunday, November 02, 2008

National Novel Writing Month Is On

(See ticker in sidebar.)

November 1st:
The NaNoWriMo website is glacial today, unsurprisingly. Parts of the site are nonfunctional, while other parts are text-only, until the traffic dies down a bit. All of which means that I can't update my word count at the moment. But it's going.

And I'm doing something completely different this year. I'm writing in a combination of two genres, neither of which I've experimented with before. I'm writing a different age of character than I've ever tried before. And I'm writing not only without an outline but also without a detailed character sketch. So we'll see how this goes.

And we'll see if I'm able to keep up with Seek Ye First while spending my evenings with Wyoming the Witch. It's a month-long experiment for me! What could go wrong? Who knows, maybe I'll invent Flubber.