Tuesday, August 28, 2012


Right after we got back from Cancun, the kids had an appointment with their regular pediatrician for their annual checkups.

Alex was pronounced fine and fit and healthy, but the doctor didn't like the sound of Penny's breathing. And the more she listened, the more she didn't like it.

Apparently, Penny isn't quite asthmatic, but she's on the edge of falling into that abyss. And thanks to the Ultimate Fun that is combining diabetes with steroids (in which by "ultimate" I mean "absolutely zero"), the doctor doesn't want to treat this state of pre-asthma with the usual steroid regimen unless it's the only option remaining. So Penny's now got this awesome machine for doing breathing treatments three or four times a day, and she's also taking Claritin. And she's got a follow-up appointment on Thursday so the doctor can evaluate whether the breathing treatments are getting the job done and decide if they need to continue. (For what it's worth, Penny's still sniffling a lot, but she's stopped continually clearing her throat, so I have to assume that's progress.)

As much as I loathe the notion, I suspect allergy shots will be recommended, if not on Thursday, then at some point in the future. I don't know if I'll agree to it, though. I've been through two courses of allergy shots -- once as a kid, and once just a few years ago -- and both times, it's been an incredible amount of hassle and expense for what turned out to be a very temporary easement (not even a full halt) of symptoms.

This probably shouldn't come as a surprise to me. Both Matt and I are allergy sufferers; it was all but inevitable that the kids would be, too.

Penny sure got screwed over on the whole inheritance lottery, didn't she? Poor kid.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Good, but OW.

What a weekend! I'm still sore.

Friday night, I went out with my friends Elizabeth and Vicki and some of their other friends to PBR, a cowboy themed bar/club down in Hampton. That turned out to be lots of fun; I haven't gone dancing in way too long. I could've done without all the line dancing (I'm so uncoordinated I can't even do the Electric Slide) but I shrugged and stood on the sidelines (or in our roped-off VIP/party area!) and danced the way I wanted to.

Watching the bullriders was even more fun, though. WHEW. If the waitresses in hot pants and chaps were there for the guys to look at, then the two guys operating the mechanical bull ring were definitely there to appeal to the ladies present. (I'm not ashamed to admit that I was shipping them, a bit, in my head.) I posted one of several videos I took with my iPhone to YouTube on Saturday morning; if you missed me Twittering about it, it's here. (I think I've embedded it below, but as YouTube is blocked at the Day Job, I can't test it to be sure. If it doesn't work, leave a comment and I'll try to fix it when I get home.)

Saturday, once I'd woken up and taken a hot shower to loosen muscles that had forgotten they existed, I went out to run a couple of errands, including a stop at Bed Bath & Beyond to find some curtains for the living room windows. It was a little frustrating -- I'm not too keen on the current color selections (god, I thought we'd left avocado and orange in the seventies!) and I'm not a fan of curtains that look like hanging rugs, and since I haven't quite decided what I'm going to do with that room, decor-wise, I wanted something that would fit a wide variety of styles... and everything I liked turned out to be unlined (for a west-facing window, I really need lined curtains), or only in stock in the wrong length.

Finally, I found something and got a rod to match, and took them home, and after lunch I gathered my tools and started to put the rod up. That ran into a series of errors (including apparently trying to drill through nails or a metal plate, the size drill bit suggested by the instructions being too small for the wall anchor but too big for a naked screw, and my failing to take the hanger length into account when measuring where to put the brackets) so that project took me a solid two and a half hours to complete. And by the time I was done, I'd stepped onto and off of the kitchen chair I was using so much that I spent Sunday barely able to walk. Going up and down stairs was so unbearable that by mid-afternoon, I started scooting up and down on my butt, relying mostly on my (non-existent) arm muscles to do the work. (Today, after another hot shower and some extensive stretching, it's down to merely "very sore".)

But I got the curtains up and the broken blinds down and took all the brackets for the blinds out of the wall, and they look good, and now I can see out again! Hooray! Now I just need to go buy some spackle to take care of all the holes in the wall from the blinds brackets and my curtain-rod goofs. (Next project: curtains for Penny's room so she can get dressed without the boy across the street watching. Luckily, there are curtain rod brackets already in that room, left over from when it was our guest room, so I won't have to install those -- just buy the curtains and a new rod of the correct diameter.)

I spent most of Sunday loafing around, nursing my aching leg (just the one; apparently if I'm not paying attention, I always step up with my right leg first). I did run a couple of errands, and then ducked into Pier 1 to wait out a rain shower. Man, that would be a dangerous store for me if 1) the combination of scents going on in there doesn't immediately bring on a blinding headache, and 2) their prices weren't so ludicrous. I did buy a pair of martini glasses on clearance, though, that I walked past three times trying not to buy, but they were too gorgeously tacky to resist. (I don't even drink martinis, but especially with those colors and designs, they'd make fantastic margarita glasses.)

Sunday night, I gave some thought to an idle half-plot I'd considered for an upcoming Torquere anthology and decided I'd see if I could get some of it out before the deadline hits. I'd tried writing it a couple of months ago, but it got bogged down in its own details, so I backed up and started over... and wow. I blew out nearly 900 words in less than an hour and a half, and then I took a break to watch Leverage, and then I took my iPad upstairs to bed with me and wrote another 400 words before I finally decided I needed to turn out the light and get some sleep at midnight. God, that felt great. I haven't really written anything of substance (barring a couple of exercises for my therapist) since June.

Hope I can keep it up... When I hit Torquere's site to double-check the due date, I noticed that the minimum word limit is 5000 words, not the 3000 I'd originally assumed. Which means I need to write almost 1000 words a night for the rest of this week so I can turn this in by Saturday. Talk about shaving it close!

Friday, August 24, 2012


As promised, I got my pictures sorted and prettied and cropped and uploaded to Flickr yesterday. The set is at http://www.flickr.com/photos/lizbrooks/sets/72157631152281266/.

It takes us from our departing airport...

...to the return flight...

...and everything in between!

Thursday, August 23, 2012

I'm Back!

I'm back, whoohoo!

Nope, I didn't post at all while I was gone. I tried to do a post over on the writing blog the day after we arrived (this incredibly hot guy flirted with me at the airport on our way down -- yay, cleavage shirt! -- and I thought it would make a good anecdote for that blog) but by the time I got it all written up, the resort's flaky wifi had dumped me and I lost the whole thing. After that, I lost my taste for longer writing and stuck to occasional tweets. If you missed them, you can pick them up (and the pictures I posted) at this link.

We mostly stayed at the resort -- we went to the pool every day, and down to the beach a few times, and Penny spent a lot of time doing crafts, mostly while Alex was napping. We did go to the "swim with dolphins" place, though they've changed their photo prices to be even more horrible this year. But one of the shots was nearly perfect -- the dolphin's jump out of the water perfectly framed me and the kids. It would only have been better if Alex had actually been looking at the dolphin, and if the dolphin's tail hadn't completely obscured my dad. But it's a spectacular shot, nonetheless, so I was pretty pleased to get it.

We went out for dinner every night (and a few lunches), but stuck to eateries either at the resort or available via resort shuttle, so I didn't get to eat at La Habichuela this year (sigh), and we skipped El Conquistator, too, because it doesn't have a kids' menu at all and we didn't think we'd be able to find something for Alex to eat.

The kids bickered more and more as the week wore on and they got used to the novelty and tired of sharing spaces so closely, but I got to spend plenty of time sitting beside the pool drinking margaritas and other frozen concoctions, so it worked out pretty well for me anyway.

The view from my poolside lounge chair.
(This might have to be my new desktop picture.)

(Next time, though -- next year, if I can afford it -- I'm going to find a way to go by myself or with a friend. I love my kids, but taking them on vacation is not as relaxing as the hits to my budget and vacation time at work imply. Maybe I can talk Matt into coordinating his visit to Chicago with me.)

We didn't get back to the house until nearly 10pm last night, so I haven't even started downloading pictures yet, but rest assured that they're coming, and I'll add them to this Flickr set and let you know when it's done.

I took more pictures with my iPhone than with my nice camera, this trip. I don't know if it's because I didn't want to deal with the weight of the camera in addition to dealing with the kids, or because we didn't really go anywhere aside from the resort, but I did find myself wishing I'd just left it at home. Whether I'll take it on my next trip remains to be seen -- I'll probably do more touristy stuff if I'm going on my own or with a friend, and the camera might be worth the effort if I'm going to see Mayan ruins or wildlife exhibits. But for lounging around the resort, the lower (but still perfectly adequate) quality of the iPhone's pictures was more than sufficient. And heck, I have an app on the iPhone for taking panoramic shots, to which the beach lends itself.

Anyway, it was (aside from bickering/sullen/tired kids) a good trip. The only real fly in the ointment was that Matt emailed me earlier this week to say that he'd noticed, on one of his trips over to the house to feed the cat, that my car door hadn't closed entirely and the interior light had drained the battery. He'd jumped it for me and it had started okay the next morning, and the following night, but then he didn't turn it over for a few days, and the alternator won't recharge the battery unless you get it up to highway speeds, so it had died again. But after we got in last night, he jumped it for me again and took over getting the kids to bed while I drove around a bit (I took the long way around to the grocery store so we could have milk and bread this morning), and he promised to be on call to pick up the kids if it was dead this morning. But it started up okay, and taking the kids up to daycare was probably enough highway-speed driving to give it some juice, so as long as I manage to get it started and drive around some every day through the weekend, it should be okay. Though I'll be watching it, as it's several years old and may not hold its charge as well as it used to.

I'm working a half-day today, just to clear out my inbox a bit and flag the critical items to tackle, and then I'm off home to do laundry, start figuring out where I want to display my souvenirs (I might need to pick a room to have a Cancun theme), go grocery shopping, and run a few other errands. And, just possibly, take a nap.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Potterized / Into the Blue

The Harry Potter Party! It went so very well, even though I was utterly exhausted by the end!

My friend Elizabeth came over Friday evening with a huge box full of craft supplies, and we ordered sushi delivered to the house and crafted for hours so that the house would be a sort of faux Hogwarts. Here are some of the things we did:

 I decorated the door to Penny's room to make it the entrance to the Gryffindor common room. (I also put lesser decorations on the other bedrooms to make them entrances to the Ravenclaw and Hufflepuff rooms.)

We turned the playroom into a Quidditch field. The hoops are flat against the wall (well, laundry closet doors) to discourage the guests from actually throwing things -- but later, when I was blowing up balloons, I found a long skinny one that I bent into a hoop, and a tiny one that would fit through it, so they did, in fact, play a sort of semi-Quidditch with balloons, which I felt were reasonable to throw around the house. Do note that there's an actual Snitch hanging from the ceiling fan (in the upper right corner of the picture).

We made "broomstick" treat bags. These were surprisingly simple to do, though I was immensely glad there were two of us when it was time to tie the tops; that would have been near-impossible without an extra set of hands.

We put a base coat of paint on some craft dowels to make them look more "wand-y" -- the kids got to further decorate the wands with pipe cleaners and glitter glue and stickers at the party.

And my favorite decoration: a set of "potion" bottles made out of... mostly random stuff and some labels I found online and printed. If you click through to the Flickr set for the party, the individual potion pictures explain where the bottles came from and what's really in them.

The day of the party, I hung streamers and balloons (in Hogwarts house colors, of course) and a felt banner outside on the porch, and I also loaded up both my laptops with different Harry Potter movies and muted them (to mimic the moving pictures in the HP universe).

Penny was thrilled with all the decorations, and her friends also seemed suitably impressed. They made their wands, they played balloon Quidditch, they went up to the "common room" and played Harry Potter. I think I can safely say it was pretty much exactly the birthday party Penny wanted; it could only have been better if the broomstick she got had actually been able to fly.


I probably won't be posting regularly for the next couple of weeks, but at least this time there's a happy reason: I'll be on vacation in Cancun, with the kids and my parents!

I'll admit to a little nervousness to start -- the flight schedule down is a smidge on the tight side, so I expect to be a mild wreck until we're actually on the plane that's meant to land in Cancun. And then I'll be in a two-bedroom apartment for eight days with four other people, two of whom are possessed of nearly limitless energy and a complete lack of comprehension of the enjoyment of "doing nothing", and there's a pretty firm limit on the amount of time we can spend at the pool in any given day without turning into crispy critters. But I'll have cards, balloons, a whole iPad's worth of movies, and their grandparents to help keep them entertained. Not to mention activities organized by the resort, and one or two planned activities.

The resort has free wifi, so it's possible that I'll post once or twice, but you probably shouldn't hold your breath. I'm more likely to do quicker, easier posts, like shooting anecdotes and camera pics to my Twitter account.

But just to hold you until I'm back, here's a few photos from last year's trip:

Friday, August 10, 2012


Whoops, missed a couple of days again.

Wednesday was my "day off" for the pay period. I spent the morning cleaning Penny's room, because even when she was trying to clean it up, there was this crusty build-up of crap and horribleness around the edges that I'm not sure she could even see. I started around 9AM, and didn't finish until nearly noon, but I managed to dig everything out, sort it, put things away again, and get rid of the trash and cruft. I paused a couple of times to post to twitter. I had to share the naked bondage dolls, after all, and point out that having yanked all the crap and clutter out of the corners into the middle of the room was actually an improvement.

But I did manage to finish in time to scoot over to the Movie Tavern for lunch with Spider-Man. Despite a couple of "wait, but what about..." plot holes, I enjoyed it. Andrew Garfield certainly made for a sexier Peter Parker than Tobey McGuire, though I still think Tobey captured the doofy nerdiness of the character better. I liked Martin Sheen as Uncle Ben a lot, and I can appreciate the subtle shift in the theme message (it changed from "with great power comes great responsibility" to "if you can help someone, you should", which is less catchy but brings it closer to home) but was kind of cheesed that they took it away from Uncle Ben and made it a thing Peter's father had said instead.

Which might be picking nits. For a summer action superhero movie, it was fun.

I tried to do some writing that night -- and again last night -- but I just couldn't sink into it. I'm too distracted with the planning for Penny's birthday party and the planning and preparation for going to Cancun next week. (I spent the best portion of last night, for instance, trying to get a bunch of kids' movies loaded onto my old iPod for Penny and loading books and more movies on the iPad for me and Alex, in between baking and icing the cake for Penny's party.)

Things are going to be crazy for the next few days, I expect. Tonight, Elizabeth is coming over to help me craft/decorate for Penny's party. We've got streamers to put up, signs to hang, potions to create, the cake to finish decorating (it's got a base layer of icing, but no decorations), wands to paint, gifts to wrap,and goodie bags to make. I'm actually really looking forward to it -- it'll be fun to do all this without having to scramble to get it all done after Penny goes to bed.

Tomorrow morning, I'm going to pick Penny up at Matt's and take her to get a birthday pedicure. (And while we're gone, Matt will take Alex to get a haircut.) Also, while we're on that side of town, if I don't get to it today, I'll need to drop by the bank to collect our passports from the safe deposit box. After I drop her back off at Matt's for lunch, I'll head home and put up the last couple of decorations and streamers (the stuff that goes outside, that I don't want to put up until close to party time lest it get wet or blow away) and start preparing the party food.

Matt and Penny and Alex will come over around 2:30 or so, and we'll give her the birthday presents that are Harry Potter themed before her party starts at 3 so she can have a little time to enjoy them. Then the party will run up until dinner time.

Sunday, Matt and the kids will come over again around mid-morning so Penny can open her non-Harry Potter presents and also so Matt can mow the lawn. When he's done with that and has showered and changed, we'll all go out for lunch together, Penny's choice, for the family birthday party.

And then after Matt and the kids are back at his place, I'll do my laundry and start gathering stuff together to pack for Cancun. (And continue to debate with myself about whether I should buy a new suitcase.)

Monday I'm at work, wrapping up all the last-minute stuff that needs to be wrapped up before I go on vacation, and then picking the kids up from daycare and bringing them home for the last-minute packing and trying to keep them from dragging everything they own along.

Tuesday morning we're up a smidge earlier than usual, eating breakfast, and then Matt is going to come over around 6:45 to load up the car and take us to the airport! Vacation, here we come!

Tuesday, August 7, 2012


Because she loves me, KT posted this on my Facebook wall last night:

Of course, by the time I saw it, I was already into this week's episode of Leverage and chatting with her, so I didn't actually do any writing. But it's an awesome picture anyway. And true. I should be writing.

I should also be editing, as I have a novel on my plate that I need to get back to its author before I go on vacation in -- erp! -- one week.

Unfortunately, what I should be doing at work today is approximately a metric assload of paperwork. Hm, maybe instead of trying to make it palatable with music, I'll put a movie on the iPad (one I know well enough to listen to instead of watch) and see how that works. And maybe I can break the paperwork into subtasks, and alternate with the editing a bit.

Anything to get (and keep) myself motivated.


Happy joy joy moment of the day: Alex got up a bit before six and went to the bathroom. (I knew it was Alex and not Penny because Alex neither closes the bathroom door nor flushes without a reminder.) And then he went back to his room.

Ten minutes later, when my alarm went off for the second time, he came into my room, as usual, and climbed up on the bed.

"Hey, buddy," I said. "How're you doing this morning?"


"Yeah? You sleep good?"


"How's your pullup this morning?"

"It still has a picture."

Dude. That's three mornings of the past four that he's gone through the night with a dry pullup! The first two were at Matt's apartment, and while I'd celebrated, I'd kind of wondered if it was because he wasn't sleeping as deeply there (unfamiliar room and bed, you know how it is) so I wasn't really expecting it to come back to the house with him.

But whatever the reason, it seems he's starting to move into nighttime control, finally!

(And further reason for celebration, as a friend pointed out to me -- it means that he's not excessively traumatized by Matt and I splitting up. Kids who are traumatized tend to lose potty training, not gain it. So we can feel good that all the effort we're putting into the kids is paying off.)

Monday, August 6, 2012

Weekend Blather

That bit where I said, "hey, maybe I'll hit the Target on my lunch break rather than brave the insane crowds sure to be clogging the place during tax-free weekend"? Heh. Hehehe. Heeheeheehee!

Yeah, the place was mobbed. But I'm glad I went, because they were already almost out of some things on Penny's list, like black 2-pocket pronged folders. (Back to school lists are weirdly specific. I was also directed to buy a 1/2" 3-ring binder, preferably red. But the only 1/2" 3-ring binders they had were white, so I'm going to take that "preferably" as literal and they'll just have to cope with white.) Two boxes of kleenex out of the house store, and Penny assures me that she still has her earbuds from last year, so that's the school shopping done. Whoohoo!

After work on Friday, I drove down to Newport News to hit Sam's Club, mostly for pullups for Alex, but I got a few other things while I was there, of course. (Stupid Friday traffic. Forty-five minutes to get down there, for shopping that took about fifteen minutes.) While I was down there, though, I also stopped at Michael's Crafts and got a thing or two for Penny's Harry Potter party.

And then, shopping completed ahead of schedule, I decided to treat myself to the Batman movie. I enjoyed it, though it desperately needed better editing. There was no reason at all for that movie to be three hours long; there were at least three scenes that could've been cut wholesale without affecting the storyline at all -- and I wasn't even really concentrating on it. Most jarring moment in the movie for me: "Hey, who's in this picture?" "My dead girlfriend, the love of my life whose death drove me into loony seclusion for the past several years." "Oh. Wanna make out right here in front of her picture?" "Yeah, sure, let's get naked." (Okay, I'm paraphrasing, but it really was about that quick... and completely pointless, as there's no indication beyond this point that Bruce has any feeling for this woman beyond her role in the plot's political machinations. Both the writing and the film were in desperate need of some editors who were willing to be just a little more ruthless.

I did really, really like their use of, for lack of a better term, audio whitespace. As an audience, we've been conditioned to key our feelings toward a scene off the movie score. If it's any good, the music subconsciously tells us everything we need to know about how the characters are feeling and about how we're supposed to be feeling. So when they get to that first fight scene between Batman and Bane and the music just stops, not so much as a percussion line to echo and underscore the fight, not so much as a sustained violin or oboe note to lead us down to the pit of despair... it's like an extra punch in the gut. It did it again another time or two in the movie, and I loved it. For a movie that relied heavily on internal, psychological issues for its conflict and crisis, using our own subconscious against us was a brilliant and brave stroke.

Anyway, that was Friday. Saturday around lunchtime, Matt brought Alex over so he could get his nap in while Matt took Penny to a birthday party at the Y. I had some kind of loose plan where Alex would nap for an hour and a half or two hours and then I'd take him with me to the post office to pick up stamps and then we could swing by Sweet Frog for a snack... but no, the kid slept a solid three and a half hours, waking up less than fifteen minutes before Matt and Penny got back from the party. So that didn't happen, but it made for a nice, quiet afternoon.

Then Jenn came down from Richmond and we piled in my car and went down to KT's house for a Pure Romance party. The party ran long enough that we didn't make it to see Magic Mike, but that was okay, because the party was a serious blast. I even signed up to have one of my own, in a couple of months. (Possibly near my birthday. I should get some fun toys for my birthday, right?!)

Sunday morning, Matt and the kids came over again so that Matt could mow the lawn and do a load of laundry. The kids were looking for a TV fix, so I put in a DVD of an old Adam West Batman movie that Jenn had loaned me... That was awesome. The kids loved it, and I nearly laughed myself sick with the campy nostalgia.

After they left, I did my grocery shopping, decided to put off the dollar store for later this week, and had a quiet afternoon. Then I went to Vicki's birthday celebration at the Green Leafe. I'm not usually good in crowds of people I don't know well, so I really only planned to stay an hour or so, but besides Vicki, Elizabeth was there, and I actually made myself talk to people, and wound up having quite a good time, even if I wasn't a social butterfly. I gave one girl the link to my writing blog, and she seemed like she might consider checking some of it out, and admired a cute baby (and the baby's mom's absolutely stunning hair), and -- I admit it -- even checked out a couple of the guys. So I was there for a good two and a half hours, and if it had been a Saturday, I'd have stayed even later.

It was an awesome weekend. This week is going to be all about getting ready for Penny's birthday this weekend -- party on Saturday, family celebration on Sunday -- and then getting ready to head out to Cancun next week! It's crazy how fast everything is sneaking up on me. I'm almost (almost) looking forward to getting back home afterward and getting everything to slow the heck down for a few weeks.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Busy Weekend

Well, I have a busy weekend lined up!

Matt has the kids this weekend, but I'll be seeing them anyway. Penny's got a birthday party to go to on Saturday that conflicts directly with Alex's nap, so I told Matt he could drop Alex off at the house after lunch -- I'll put Alex down for his nap while Matt takes Penny shopping for a present for her friend and goes to the party.

Then, shortly after Matt picks Alex back up, I'll be heading down to Chesapeake for a girls-only party with KT -- a Pure Romance party, and then (possibly, hopefully, if the friend I'm riding with can stay up late) a run to the theater for a showing of Magic Mike (which I only want to see if I can see it with at least one girlfriend).

Sunday morning, Matt will bring the kids back over so they can get their TV fix  (Matt doesn't have one yet) while he mows the lawn and does a load or so of laundry. (That's part of the deal we made when he moved out, because I really, really do not want to mow the lawn.) Then I have Sunday afternoon to finish my own chores, after which I'll be heading out for one of Vicki's many birthday celebrations.

Woven in with all that, I also need to do a whole lot of shopping. On my list is:
  • school supplies for Penny (this is Virginia's tax-free weekend for school stuff and clothes!)
  • a run to Sam's Club for assorted bulk items (most critically, pull-ups for Alex, as I don't quite have enough to get all the way through the Cancun trip)
  • the regular grocery shopping
  • a stop at the dollar store for stuff I need for Penny's birthday party next weekend -- streamers and craft stuff and cheapie toys for the goodie bags.
The dollar store can maybe wait until Wednesday or so, but everything else is running up against deadlines. I might try to get the bulk of it done today, if my bad knee will maintain its calm. (Actually, if work is going smoothly, I might do the school supply run on my lunch break. The stores supporting that stuff are going to be a madhouse all weekend, I expect.)

And all that's not even considering that I still want to see the Batman movie, and I've been told I should see the Spider-Man movie as well. Those movies I'm willing to see solo, but I might have to wait anyway. The weekend is already crazy busy, and I'm spending a lot of the coming week preparing for Penny's birthday party next Saturday. And then we're going to Cancun for a week and a half. So... Well. We'll see how much I can get done on my lunch hour today and whether my knee feels up to shopping tonight, and maybe I can do my own laundry on Saturday while Alex is napping. Stack the things that can be stacked, you know?

As I said: busy. But most of it should be fun! Yay, fun!

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Unmasked and Charmed

Trying to get/stay back in the blog posting saddle. So to speak. But I don't have to struggle for a topic today, because I have a couple of things to talk about!

First (because it's the quickest): I had a new release yesterday! My story "What You Are" was included in Torquere Press' Masks Off!, an anthology about masquerades and shapeshifters. (...Look, I don't come up with the combinations, I just write the stories.) I haven't finished reading it yet, but besides me, it's got some of my very favorite TQ authors, so I expect them to be lots of fun. And isn't that cover gorgeous?

My writing blog post about it has a blurb, and I put up an excerpt yesterday on Torquere's livejournal social community.

In addition to being my first real anthology inclusion, this will also be my first print publication! At least, it will be when the print book goes up for sale, which is typically a week or so after the e-book release, thanks to various complications with printing through Amazon, which is what Torquere uses for print books. But at some point in the next few weeks (I think), I should be holding this gorgeous book in my hot little hands! I can't wait! (Yes, you can expect pictures. I have no shame.)


And now, having taken off my Author hat, it's time to put on the Mom one!

Penny filled up a chore chart a couple of days ago, which means she's earned a reward. In the past, that's meant that I take her to our local Yankee Candle store, where they have not one, but two toy stores for her to waffle over a choice for a half-hour or so and finally settle on something.

Yesterday, she said, "...could we go to Charming Charlie instead?"

So there's one for the memory book: age at which jewelry first wins out over stuffed animals -- about two weeks shy of 9.

For those who might be curious, she picked out a sparkly tiara and a set of three red and gold rings that are about four sizes too big for her. She insisted on wearing the tiara and two of the rings to daycare/camp today; I warned her that if they were lost or damaged, I was not going to buy her new ones. We'll see how that goes.

(But I bought her a Charming Charlie gift card for her birthday like a month ago, so don't worry. She'll get to go back -- and with more than the measly $20 limit I put on her chore chart rewards.)

While she was waffling over her selections, I took Alex next door into JoAnn fabrics so I could price foam -- a friend had mentioned that they would cut foam to fit my couch cushion covers, thus enabling me to restore my crappy couch without having to buy a new one.

Extra firm and thick foam is expensive, though, so it's probably going to run me somewhere in the neighborhood of $200 to do that. Don't get me wrong; it's better than buying a whole new sofa (at least, better than a good new sofa), but not as much of a savings as I was hoping for. In any case, it'll have to wait a bit, as it's a higher price than I was hoping and a lower priority than some of the other things I want to do.

On the way home, I mentioned to Alex that when he turns five, he will also be getting a chore chart. He was, to say the least, not happy with this revelation. Not even when Penny tried to cajole him with the notion of stickers and reward toys. Oh, well; he doesn't get a choice. Everyone gets chores to do.

I also broached with Penny the idea of curtains, since it's looking like it'll be prohibitively expensive to fix her blinds. I braced for whining as I explained, but the instant the word "curtains" left my lips, I heard what can only be described as a gasp of delight from the back seat. So apparently Penny's on board with the idea of curtains. (She may be somewhat disappointed when I take her to pick them out, though, as I'm going to insist on heavy white-backed thermal curtains to help keep heat out -- her room is the hottest in the house. Though I'm open to the idea of a double-layer curtain so she can pick something pretty.)

But I'm doing the living room curtains first, as it's driving me crazy not to be able to see out. And even that's going to have to wait a bit, because the mortgage is due first.