Thursday, November 20, 2014

A Matter of Perspective.

So, winter is here, and with it, is has brought some alarming winds. Like, blow me down the street kind of winds.

The other day I went through the entire house searching for windows open cracks, and drafts under doors that I could plug up to put a stop to the whistling and moaning that was going on as the wind found every single way it could to get into the house.

More than anything else, I was worried about how Kee would deal with it at bedtime.

I've always found whistling wind (on top of being annoying), a sort of spooky, sad sound, and Kee is particularly sensitive about that kind of thing. Shortly after moving here, and probably having something to do with the fact that she was in her own room now, she developed a crippling fear of monsters in her room.

She would not go to bed. She would not go up or downstairs if there was no one else in the room with her. It was getting really bad. Luckily, my mum thought of giving her a "monster repellent", in the form of a necklace. She wore it everywhere for a few weeks, basically until it broke, At which point, she tied it to her door knob, which at least keeps her bedroom specifically (and the second floor in general) monster free.

But this wind... if anything sounds like monsters and ghosts, it's this wind. I managed to dampen it, but I couldn't get rid of it completely.

At dinner that first windy night, it was particularly gusty. I casually said, "wow, that is some wind, huh?" in order to gauge her response.

"Isn't it great?" she asked, smiling at me.
"Oh, yeah? You like it?" I asked, trying not to sound surprised.
"Yeah! Wooooo! WoooOOOOOOOoooo! It sounds like a crowd cheering for me!"

Which just goes to show, it's all a matter of perspective.




Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Conversation With a Six Year Old.

 FADE IN:

INT. SCHOOL - CLASSROOM - DAY

Children are dispersed throughout the room, seated at desks in groups of four or more. The noise level is astounding. Close in on BLUE, six year old girl wearing a blue shirt, animatedly talking to KEE, a six year old girl, and ME, a 30-something woman who is already looking forward to lunch.


BLUE
 I was like, totally scared on my first day of school. Like, I didn't know ANYBODY. But then I saw Orange, and I was like "she looks like a cool chick". So I was like, "hey, Orange, do you want to play with me?" And the next day I was all "Orange is totally my friend." And now we're cool. I like it.

RED, six year old boy, wearing a red shirt, walks up behind KEE and taps her on the shoulder.

Red
(shyly)
Hi, Kee.


KEE
(coyly)
Oh. Hi, Red.

RED walks back to his desk across the room.  

BLUE
(conspiratorially)
Kee's in love with Red. 

KEE
She knows that, already. She's my mummy. (to ME) We're going to get married, Mummy. 

BLUE
Did you know that I'm in love with Green?


ME
Green seems nice. 

Kee
(Overlapping ME)
You're in love with Green?!

 BLUE
Yeah. I totally am. The first day I got here, I saw him, and I was like, "Green is hot." And he totally likes me too. 

BLUE turns and waves at GREEN, a six year old boy wearing a green shirt, who is currently picking his ear and chewing on a marker lid.


END SCENE






Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Winter is Coming.

"Winter is coming," the king said ominously, turning from the window.
"Happens every year," the queen replied, less than graciously.
They huddled together and drifted to sleep to the sound of the wind moaning through the snow swept night.

*********

The queen gingerly put her foot to the ground, searching for the slipper that she knew to be there. "Forget it," she mumbled, forcing herself from the warmth of the counterpane and into the inhospitable chill that permeated the room,  wincing as her bare feet touched the icy floor. She went into each princess' room in turn, kissing their heads and waking them gently.

Stoking the fire in the stove, she put lunch on to cook, then turned and busied herself with breakfast. As she set the table, it occurred to her that she was still alone. She climbed the stairs once again, and roused the princesses; less gently this time. The king gazed bleary eyed at her as she passed the doorway to their chamber, and she rolled her eyes so hard it hurt her neck.

As she was chopping vegetables to pack in the princess' ration bags, the elder stumbled through the door. She sat in silence and ate the cereal placed in front of her. The younger soon followed, and made much of pouring two different kinds of cereal, just so. She very particularly poured the milk until it just touched the rim of the bowl. Ah, sighed the queen, it shall be one of those days.

The elder packed her rations into her pack, and began donning her padded armour in preparation of her journey. "I love you. Goodbye." She pulled the woolen scarf over the lower half of her face and, with a look of steely eyed determination, stepped out into the cold.

Kee gathered her armour to her, and began to prepare herself as her sister had. The moment her sock touched her boot, she screamed and hurled the boot from her. She writhed on the floor, grunting, as if possessed by some demon. The queen brought new socks after determining that the issue was "they're itchy."

She pulled on her padded pants, then fell to the ground, sobbing. She screamed and moaned as she yanked at the bottoms of the pants. No understandable words could be found in the incoherent rant that followed but the queen, being fluent in tantrum, discerned that the inner pants were too short.

Her gauntlets had a tag, her hat seemed too small, the jacket had become suddenly uncomfortable. It was as if some monster had invaded the castle in the night and replaced all of princess Kee's armour to torment her; each item of clothing carefully crafted to torture her unto madness.

Finally clad, yet still unhappy, Kee stepped up to the door and flung it open. She was hit with an icy blast, and recoiled as if slapped. She attempted to bar the door and refuse to leave, but the king and queen reminded her of her duties, and she grudgingly agreed. As the king led her down the road, the queen could still hear Kee's loud lamentations, despite the screaming of the wind past her ears.

She closed the door when she lost sight of them, and sagged against it, exhausted already despite the early hour. She closed her eyes and sent a prayer of thanks, a plea for understanding, and a profuse apology to the instructors awaiting her daughter at the other end of her journey.



This is day two of full winter gear. Help me.



Monday, November 17, 2014

Mittens, Movies, and Me.

It's the first real snow fall today. The one where it sticks on the trees, and makes your messy backyard look almost beautiful. It's also the first day of snow pants, and lost mittens. No matter that I go through and carefully pair up the mittens and take out anything that's too small and make sure that there's at least one of everything for everyone before I put the winter gear away in the spring -- by the time I open the bag in the fall, some mischievous creature has gone through and taken them all apart.

Any matching ones are mine.

Kee somehow managed to break the curse and is currently (well, not currently, probably, but you know what I mean) wearing matching, waterproof mittens that actually fit. They even have her initials embroidered on them. We'll see what she's got when I pick her up after school.

Beege, on the other hand, is wearing mismatched gloves that belong to her daddy. (Who, btw, is the proud (?) owner of 6 left handed gloves and 2 right ones, from 8 different pairs.) I offered her the option of one of my smaller, actually  matching, pairs but apparently waterproofity* is more important than actually staying on when there is snow on the ground.

Me? I've got three pairs of mittens, of varying warmth, one of which has those nifty folding tops so that I can still use my fingers. I do weird things, like join their little hooks together so they don't separate, and actually put them where they go.

And after all of that searching they were, of course, late for school. The first day back after promising at parent night to make an extra effort to be on time. *sigh*

NaNoWriMo is going well. Mostly. I'm over 25,000 words in! Woo hoo! But I feel like I'm losing steam. Boo.

Instead of beating myself up about being under my goal for the day, I'm going to be happy that I wrote.  I'm going to write even when I don't really feel like it, and not worry that it feels stilted, because that what rewrites are for. I'm going to stop going back to change things, or edit things, or mulling over five sentences of dialogue for half an hour, and save all of that stuff for January and February.  

Rewrites!

I'm also going to take some time out and watch a funny movie or two with the kids,  I think we'll start with "Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs", considering the inclement weather. Isn't there some kind of snowball snack cakes? I could pick up some of those, and make it a theme day. Oooh.... paper snowflakes. We should make some of those. And maybe we'll go out and make a snowfort. And when we're done with that, we can come back in and watch "Frozen", in honour of our poor icy fingers. Hot chocolate!

I just googled those "sno ball" things. They look disgusting. Maybe snowflake shaped pancakes? Cookies?



             
             
      1. Shrek Forever After
2. Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs

3. Despicable Me
4. Dr. Suess' The Cat in the Hat
5. Kung Fu Panda 2
6. Mr. Popper's Penguins





 *Waterproofiness?

Monday, November 10, 2014

Distractable Me.

So far so good, with this NaNoWriMo thing. I've managed to write every day, forcing myself to even when I really don't feel like it. It is so much easier to give up on things than to push through and work at it. I'm right on track at just under 15,000 words. Hopefully, this is the turning of a new leaf for me!

One of my biggest problems, thus far, is that I am entirely too distractable.

I'll be thinking of the next bit of my novel, and then I'm distracted by a completely innocuous street sign that starts spiraling into its own story in my head, one that unfortunately has no place in what I'm working on. Or one of the kids says something that sparks an idea, again, one that has nothing to do with my current story.  Or a character will want to me to get to know them.

No matter how hard I try to tamp them down or push them out, these new ideas start clamouring for my attention, and kill momentum for the one I'm actually writing.  Already, this story is not the one that I sat down to write.  (Although I still plan to get back to my original idea at a later date.)

The solution I came up with is the "other ideas" folder.  I've created a folder within my manuscript so that when one of these new ideas comes up, instead of pushing it away, I open up my "other" folder and write down the scene, or the character, or the beginning of the plot. Once that's done, I find it'll leave me alone to get back to work. It only takes a few minutes, and then I'm back on track.

I am still counting these little sidebars in my total word count, since to me this is more about getting in the habit of slogging through when it gets hard and actually finishing something than anything else. Besides, who knows, maybe one or two will end up in my story after all and I just don't know it yet.

The best part is that when I'm finished working on the current book, I've got a whole folder of partially fleshed out ideas to choose from for my next project.

How about you? How do you push through distractions?



Monday, November 3, 2014

Finish It.

I am not the world's best finisher. You just need to look around my house at the unpacked boxes, the half sewn or knitted projects, and the notebooks filled with beginnings of stories to see that it's true.

I'm an awful procrastinator too. There's "I don't want to start something early because I know that I won't finish it until the night before/day of anyway so why bother" coupled with being able to say "well, yeah, it's not the greatest, but I did only work on it for one day." Add to that the fact that until a project is finished, you can't really say it's a failure. Nobody likes to feel like they've failed.

It's a perfect storm of slackerness. Which drives me nuts, because I'm really not a slacker, I swear. I'm a hard worker, with good attention to detail, and a whole bunch of interesting ideas. I just have so many ideas jumping on top of each other that I don't know where to start. Besides that, I probably won't finish, so why bother? And maybe my ideas aren't as great as I think they are anyway.

See?! I'm well aware of the ridiculous cycle I'm in.

So. This month, I'm trying something.


NaNoWriMo, aka. National Novel Writing Month. I've signed up. I'm committing to writing 50,000 words this month, in the hopes that at the end, I will have the makings of a novel. I've got a profile, I've got writing buddies for encouragement, and I've got time alone while the kids are in school. I'm going to finish. When I'm done, I'm going to edit it.

Then, I might even let some people read it.

Are any of you participating?



For more information, go to nanowrimo.org


Friday, October 31, 2014

Everything is Awesome.

Ahh... Halloween. How I wish I remembered you were coming on October 1st.

Last year, the night before Halloween, I was busily knitting a Gryffindor scarf, while waiting for the cover on "Advanced Arithmancy" to dry so I could finish adding the gold paint to the runes.

There has also been a flower costume (with posable leaves), a jack o' lantern (I didn't get to add the glow sticks to the "face"... still a little disappointed), a jedi... each costume finished in the early hours of Halloween morning.

To be fair, I do it to myself. I can't just get something from the store, or make it simple, I need AUTHENTICITY*. "Which year are we doing? Hermione needs to have S.P.E.W buttons! An ugly knit elf cap! Ugh... all these wands are too plastic looking... I'll just carve her one."

Anyway.

This year, I thought I had it easy. Kee wanted to be a superhero of her own making. She is a cheerleader for her secret identity, but at the first sign of trouble, she turns into "Pom Pom Girl!" She has a cape, and a "power belt", and she can freeze the bad guys for five seconds. She ran around the house and collected everything on her own. Super easy for me.

Beege wanted to be Batman. Cool. Black clothes, cape, mask, done-zo. Not so much. I found out last week that she wanted to be LEGO Batman. Oh. Okay. Still do-able. No big. I really should have started then. Being me, however, I decided to wait until yesterday.

So here is how to make a Lego Batman costume. In eight (or so) easy(ish) steps.


It really is a good idea to measure your kid** first, so that you have some idea of how big you need to make this thing. Crossing your fingers and guessing based on the shirt she left on the couch isn't a great idea. Remember that if your child will be wearing it to school, they need to be able to sit down.


Lucky for me, there are a tonne of pictures of Lego Batman all over the internet, from different angles and in different colours.


Now it's time to paint. It is helpful if you know where both paint and brushes are. Husband suggested that spray painting would be easier and give more even coverage, but like I said, I like to make things hard on myself. Acrylic craft paint worked just fine.


Again - thank you internet! I chose to leave all the abdominal and chest lines off, because I think they look silly. If you have a printer, as I do not, it might be helpful to print out the bat, etc., or at least measure so that you don't end up staring at it later and obsessing over that little crooked bit right there.


It probably would be easier if you did some math and calculations and things. Cross your fingers and wish is not a valid method of design, and I really should learn to do things properly. That said, looks good, right? Everything lined up nicely for me, because I'm some kind of savant.

This is also the point in the evening when you will realise that you also need to make a head for this thing, and text anyone who might want to get in your good books to pick you up a construction tube. (Thanks, Husband!) Or you could just plan better than I did and already have one on hand. In fact, that sounds smart. Do that.


So. You're going to have to cut the tube. Those things are like... eight feet tall. You only need nine inches. Just think of all the other Lego heads you can make with the leftovers! You can either paint that construction tube or, as I did, wrap it in the coloured duct tape of your choice. We left an open space to put the face. I chose a mouth that she could use it to see out of. Again, many examples on the net. I covered the opening with cheese cloth - although I would've preferred white tights/nylons - so that it would be white, but still see through.


At this point in the evening, I broke down and ate some Halloween candy, after realising that she did not have any black pants. Then I sewed her some black pants. Husband was a big help on the cowl part of the costume - which we made using a couple of large sheets of craft foam - because at this point it was after midnight, and I was having some sort of a breakdown.

There is also a really awesome cape that was just a felt cape purchased for $5 at the craft store and then covered with black duct tape and re-shaped a little. It didn't make it into any of the pictures, despite it's awesomeness. Probably because it was super easy to do. Almost boring.


Only getting a few hours of sleep was totally worth it though, to see how happy she was with her costume. To complete the outfit, she wore a long sleeved black shirt, black mittens, and the aforementioned black pants.Now I just have to cross my fingers for her that her head isn't falling off all day.

If I figure out a good way to keep that thing on, I'll let you know.



 



*I've mentioned that I went to school for costume design, yes?
**Or whomever will be wearing it. I know
I'm thinking of being Lego next year.