Technical difficulties

My internet died. On my wedding anniversary no less. No Skype with sweet words for me today. Sigh.

And 2 days before NaNoWriMo too. What crap luck. How we managed back in the days before Internet, I’ll never know.
I shall return as soon as it is all sorted. Posting from my phone is too much of a pain to do regularly. Damn touch screens.

Under the weather

Emilie caught a cold. So she gave it to Zoie. Who then gave it to me. When I taught my kids about sharing, this isn’t what I meant.

Now my house is filled with a chorus of coughs. A symphony of sniffles. A frenzy of fevers.

The past two nights I’ve spent lying in bed with a hot, stuffy, sticky toddler on my chest. Dead weight crushing my lungs, pinching my bladder. The slightest movement on my part setting off ear-splitting screeches as she protested my right to breathe, swallow, think. I had a wedgie I couldn’t resolve for 3 hours. This, is the definition of self-sacrifice.

And  in between these fretful nights, I sat in class. My longest was a 6 hour stretch. Slumped in my seat. Straining my brain to focus on contemporary art, the film industry, Italo Calvino, huh? I subsisted solely on vending machine fare scavenged from the uni cafeteria during 15 minute breaks. Paprika flavored corn crisps, blueberry fruit bites, and frosty cold Dr. Pepper.  Wholesome delicacies.

Dinner came in the form of a tub of chicken yakisoba, slurped greedily on the 21.43 Southwest train service to Alton. Heartburn was par for the course. And when I lumbered into the house minutes shy of 23.00, my real work began. Shrugging off my coat and scarf, hurriedly taking a minute to pee. There were medicines to be administered, little people to soothe. The shower, she is a luxury.

And to ice the cake, is my own sore throat. A bitter, grating, I’ve-swallowed-razor-blades type sensation. Thankfully it has eased somewhat. Somewhat.

At the insistence of my mother (what would we do without them?) I took Emilie to the GP today to investigate the contagion cough. I sat on a squeaky plastic chair and prattled off a list of symptoms to a slightly flustered lady doctor with a flame orange bob and a pronounced mole on her chin.  She’ll never need to dress up on Halloween, I thought. One of those thoughts you have in a split second before filing it away to the back of your mind with the rest of the Thoughts You Can’t Believe You Had — like when you wondered what it would be like to make-out with one of the Hanson brothers…

So the doctor did the ear thing, the throat thing, the temperature thing, the take deep breaths thing. Asked about allergies and aversions. Thought for a moment. Consulted a book. Consulted her computer screen. Had another go with the deep breaths, removed stethoscope, inclined her head and concluded “chest infection” in a decidedly triumphant tone. She returned to her computer and tapped at the keys noisily.

“One spoonful, 3 times a day. And 2 puffs if she’s wheezing.”

That’s all well and good — spoons and puffs. But a little honey and lime and sunshine never killed anyone. The drab weather is the culprit, I’m sure of it. Me and the kids need to be on a beach somewhere. Soaking up some UV love. Could she use that fancy pad of hers to prescribe us some plane tickets home? We are island girls after all.

“It’s going around,” says the doc.

Doesn’t it always?

I gave a wan smile and thanked her. Downstairs I gathered up my sniffling, snotty offspring and we set off toward the high street pharmacy dreaming of palm trees, parrots, and pina coladas.

Gross things adults tell kids not to do (but do themselves)

 

As a mom I constantly find myself telling my kids, don’t do this/don’t do that, especially when it comes to matters of hygiene. But upon closer observation, it can be noted that adults are some of the worst offenders around! Whatever happened to practice what you preach? Oh, the hypocrisy…

1.  “Cover your mouth when you cough” – I can’t begin to tell you how many times I’ve seen adults hacking away on the Tube or train with no regard for the innocent bystanders they shower with their germfest.

2.  “Don’t scratch your bum – ha, you’re probably doing it right now…

3.  “Don’t pick your nose” – now we’re ALL guilty of this one, don’t deny it. Plus, it’s oddly satisfying. Boogie-eating, however, is a whole other  territory. If you know an adult who does that, get them help. Now.

4.  “Don’t burp/fart/spit, etc” – well honestly, these are just natural bodily functions – even the Queen does it! Right?

5.  “Wash your hands after you use the toilet” – it really doesn’t bear talking about but, oh yes, you only have to spend 2 minutes in a public toilet to see at least 1 person who can’t spare a few seconds to wash. With soap. And they go on their merry way happily spreading rotavirus or whatever else kind of nasties hang out in public toilets. *shudder*

6.  “Don’t bite your nails”this one is my pet peeve. Nothing irks me more than seeing a grown person (ahem, you know who you are) biting their nails. You don’t know where those hands have been… probably scratching your bum – in a public toilet!

So, you know that Bible verse about taking the plank of wood out of your own eye before taking the splinter out of someone else’s? (sounds unpleasant either way) Yeah, it definitely applies here. Lead by example right? Give the kiddies a break.

And take that finger out of your nose.

Hopes, dreams, and what?

I'm the gal on the right.

Last week’s assignment for Creative Development was to write 500 words on the  “hopes, aspirations, and goals for your career.”

Hmmm.

This would be an easy task provided I actually knew what they were.

Hopes? I hope it doesn’t rain tomorrow because I have a mountain of laundry to hang outside.

Aspirations? I aspire to make it through the next week on a minimal grocery budget.

Goals? My goal is to go through life with my sanity intact.

But seriously, (or perhaps I was being serious?) I’ve never really sat down and thought about it. I mean really thought about it. In the context of, “what do I want to be when I grow up?” Because 28 is hardly grown up. Trust me.

What I really want out of a career is lots of money fulfillment. I want to do something that I enjoy. Something that I am good at. Something flexible. Something fun. And of course it goes without saying that the pay should be better than decent. But. I just don’t know what that is. Yet.

I set out to do this MA as a way to discover myself. Nevermind that I have been discovering myself since my first day of university 11 years ago! Who starts out studying Pre-Med and then switches to Creative Writing? It seems I have been indecisive since day 1, no?

Well what is it that I’m good at? Let’s make a list. Lists are fun.

  1. Writing stuff, all kinds of stuff
  2. Planning parties
  3. Decorating
  4. Editing other people’s writing
  5. Crafty things
  6. Procrastinating (honestly, that pic at the top sums up my life)

Anyone know of a career that combines some or all of the above? Drop me a line if you do.

My life assignment depends on it…

NaNoWriMo 2011

I may have lost my mind.  In a moment of temporary insanity this afternoon, I signed up to participate in this year’s NaNoWriMo.

What the heck is that, you ask? I asked myself the same thing and thanks to the goddess we call Google I was able to learn all about this bizarre acronym.

Simply put: it’s a writing challenge. A challenge to write a novel. Of at least 50,000 words. In 30 days.

Right.

No pressure then.

Hey, I thought. I can do that! You know, somewhere between studying for this MA, taking care of 2 small children, and breathing, well heck yes I can write a novel! What’s a novel anyways besides a bunch of words? Words that have to somehow come together to make sense…. Oh. Yeah. About that…

And so what is the prize at the end of this mammoth challenge? Nothing! Well not quite. You will have your completed (or somewhat completed) novel, that may or may not be a complete pile of rubbish. And a few other things such as a printable certificate and, of course, immense pride. Surely that is reward enough?

I think the whole point of the challenge is to get it all off your chest. Just write. The website states that it is “quantity not quality” and that, at least, takes a bit of the edge off.

So who cares if it’s crap? At least I will have done it, right? And you never know, maybe it won’t be a worthless pile of rubbish musings. One can only hope!

Now — here’s where you guys come in. HELP! I need plots! Ideas! Storylines! Outlines! Anything and everything! My mind has drawn a complete blank. I’ve no idea what on earth I’m going to write about. Not a great way to start out, huh?

I have approximately 7 days until the 1st November which is when the hubbub all kicks off. And I need to be finished and submit my work before midnight on the 30th November.

Like I said, no pressure…

Wish me luck guys! Your love and support is all I need.

Oh, and a miracle wouldn’t hurt either. That or J.K. Rowling on speed dial.

2nd Annual Halloween Spooktacular!

The  Halloween party was a success! The costumes were awesome and everyone had a really great time!

I ended up using the mini broomsticks for my caramel apples. Yummy! And you can also find a tutorial for the creepy cupcakes here.

The Jello gummy worm cups were a breeze to put together – mix up your favorite jello flavor, pour into clear cups, toss in a few gummy worm pieces and  hang a few over the sides of the cups, refrigerate overnight and you’re done! Gross but good!

Oh, and how cool are the juice box labels?

I love parties!

Check out the photos:

Creepy cupcakes (tutorial)

I made these  spider and cobweb cupcakes for my Halloween Spooktacular (which was a huge success – stay tuned for a separate post!).

Here’s how you can make your own!

You will need:

cupcakes

frosting in your prefered color (I used light orange)

black writing icingI bought one that came with 3 different tips,

 you need a small round tip for the cobwebs and a star type tip for the spiders

toothpicks

silver sugar pearls

colored sugar

Frost your cupcake.

Using black writing icing, pipe a small circle

on top of your cupcake.

Pipe another larger circle around the first one.

Continue until you have 4 circles on your cupcake.

Now the fun part!

Grab a toothpick and starting at the top of the cupcake,

drag the toothpick downwards through the 4 circles.

Use a light-ish touch — you don’t want to scrape bits out of your cupcake!

Continue this technique around the cupcake.

About four equally spaced drag marks looks good.

Finish with a cupcake topper or some colored sugar!

Now on to the spiders!

Start with a freshly frosted cupcake.

Swap tips on your icing tube. (or piping bag if using one)

You should have roughly a star type shape.

(to me it kind of looks like an asterisk)

Now pipe a little spider leg onto your cupcake.

Drag the icing downward, releasing pressure as you reach the

end of the leg shape to get that little pointy end.

Pipe 3 more spider legs in the same way.

Repeat piping 4 more legs on the opposite side.

Pipe a long oval on top of the legs. This is the spider’s body.

Then pipe a smaller circle in front of the oval, between the spider legs.

This is the spider’s head.

Add 2 small silver sugar pearls for the spider’s eyes.

Finish with a sprinkle of colored sugar on the spider’s back.

Creepy!!

And yes, they tasted as good as they looked!

Mini broomsticks (tutorial)

So I have been in full party planning mode for my upcoming 2nd Annual Halloween Spooktacular and as always my motto is:

Why buy it when you can make it?!

I came across these cute little broomsticks while perusing the ‘net for inspiration. I immediately thought they would be so simple to put together and they were!

You can use them for just about anything Halloween-y — as table decor, place holders, quirky additions to goodie bags, etc. Whatever you can think of really.  Here’s how to make your own:

You will need:

lollipop sticks (you can find these at most craft stores)

natural or brown raffia

string

scissors

Cut lollipop sticks in half.

Grab a small-ish bundle of raffia (3-4 in long) and cut.

Fold raffia bundle in half and poke the little lollipop stick

through the top. Push the stick down about halfway.

Cut a good length of string and wrap it tightly around (and around) the top

section of the raffia, pulling tightly to ensure the lollipop stick

is secure. Tie string in a double knot.

Snip off any uneven ends of the raffia.

And you’re DONE!

Easy peasy lemon squeezy!

If you’re feeling really ambitious you can dress them up with a dab of brown paint

for a realistic broom handle look.

Here’s the finished result (with one I made earlier):

Happy Halloween!!

There’s no such thing as 30

It recently dawned on me (as these things often do) that I will be turning 29 in a few months. And if we all paid careful attention in math class then we should know that the big 3-0 is not that far behind…

This horrifying illuminating realisation inspired me to write an ode to the approach of three decades. It neatly sums up precisely how I feel about getting older.

There’s no such thing as 30,

29 is also fake,

I’m certain I’ve not turned 28, there must
be some mistake.

I don’t recall a 27, perhaps I was in a
meeting?

26 I missed, I’m sure of this – must have
happened while I was sleeping.

At 25 I reached halfway – to what, I’m not
quite sure,

Because I’m absolutely positive I never
turned 24.

23? No, that wasn’t me – another one I’ve
missed.

I shan’t discuss the 22, it just does not
exist.

I should have spent my 21 drinking in a bar,

But since my liver’s in top shape, I didn’t
get that far.

So I guess I must be 20! I’m sure it’s what
I know.

Does it matter that I’ve been 20 for the
last 8 years or so?

Written by Mish, in her head, during the school run on a particularly windy autumn morning.