Wednesday, November 25, 2009

The humble beginnings of the holiday tradition

It's that time again.

We took a few weeks off since Halloween and Netflix keeps sending subtle hints my way. ("Hey, Lady! You have MUST want Christmas cartoons, right? Pick me. Pick ME!") Seriously. Not so subtle, right?

So here we are on the eve of Thanksgiving. For some reason, the yoga DVD I requested doesn't live in the Anchorage warehouse (it lives in the California shipping center. Are you surprised? I'm not. Damn hippy DVD.) So it's unavailable. Then, we chose to rent a movie that was just released this week. Again, not available. So the smart computers pick the next three movies in my queue (lesson to Megan: check your queue past the first three freaking choices next time). In no particular order, they are:

  • Frosty the Snowman

  • Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and

  • Santa Buddies

Damn. Looks like the weekend holiday movie festival has begun again.

P has requested the 80s movie "Santa Clause: The Movie" (never seen it.) I've put in for "Holiday Inn" (if for nothing other than the song) and a couple versions of "A Christmas Carol" including Bill Murray's "Scrooged." I threw in "Miracle on 34th Street" for good measure.

I hold off on "It's a Wonderful Life" until Christmas Eve for some's become a tradition that I watch that late into the night as I'm wrapping presents. That movie is magic to me and not to be used/consumed lightly. I can't watch it with my family because if they grew bored or turned out to be un-enamored with it, I'd disown them. No, seriously. It would be a chasm in the house that would ruin us all. (I know, I'm exaggerating. But I'd be soooooo damned mad if they knocked Jimmy Stewart.)

We caugh the Boris Karloff verision of the Grinch last night, so we can check that off the list.

So that begs the question:

What are we missing? What are your favorite holiday movies?

Do tell, do tell.

Friday, November 20, 2009

The Library Lion (A very good book)

Call it neo-nostalgic: This book feels like a children's classic of the '40s or '50s. A lion wanders into a library and is chided for his noisy roaring. He finds he loves story time, so he quickly learns the "Be quiet" rule. Soon he is the library's favorite visitor. But when a librarian is hurt in a fall and the lion must roar for help, he—and readers—learn that rules sometimes need to be broken.

Written by Michelle Knudsen, it's a book I randomly grabbed at Boy Wonder's book fair at school. We've read it a bazillion times already and we love it. She's got a neat Web site. You should check it out. And read the book. Do it.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

When the World is Trying to Tell You Something

For the first time in years, Boy Wonder and I clashed tonight. Nothing major...just a version of grating each others nerves from the moment I got home from work all the way through dinner (he chose to eat his pizza in his room, thankee verra much) and into our "art" time. Getting said Boy Wonder to complete a bookmark for a library contest was a real treat, please believe.

Add to the bad vibes one baby who learned a new trick: jamming your fingers down your throat makes you gag. And gagging is a really neat noise. So you should do it a lot. Like, constantly. In your high chair, on the floor, in the bath, during your dinner. Gag, gag, gag. And scream bloody murder when your mother yanks your dirty little fingies from your maw. And slap at her face with your free hand. She loves that.

I digress. Two angry boys. One pissy mom. Betcha wish you were in town visiting us right now, eh?


I get all parties (minus me) into bed. Boy Wonder made up about eleventy-seven reasons to leave his bed, the last being he couldn't find "Marvin." (His stuffed dog.)

Exhausted, exasperated, tired, frustrated, hungry, stressed, pitiful wreck that I was, I stormed into his room and found the damn dog...under his pillow. Mad as all hell at his refusal to go to bed, I threatened to give all his toys to the neighbor's dog (hey, I was caught off guard) if he didn't stay in bed. He said I was mean. I said I'm allowed to be. He said I should be nice. I said I was going to tell his teacher what a naughty boy he's being. He caved.

Victorious, I stomped back to the kitchen where I found his "reading packet" for the night (which we forgot to do and will have to read at breakfast.). Do you know what book I found staring up at me from the backpack? A g-damned mirror, that's what I found. Here, judge for yourself:

Ok, ok, world. I get it. Grumpy elephant= me. Ha ha...very funny.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Another big day on Wednesday

Tonight I will go home. I will do the normal "home" things with my family. I will kiss P hello, tell him that I missed him. I will read Boy Wonder's school folder, see what "color" day he had. (Blue is great. Yellow is not.) I will ask how Boo did. Did he sleep? Did he make "mad baby" noises all day? We'll figure out dinner. I'll watch 4 episodes of Spongebob while P teaches jiu-jitsu. Then we'll figure out dinner. (Thinking take out, if you really want to know...)

The boys will have baths. They'll eat dinner. They'll destroy the house with their toys and pull things out that they'll never even play with. I'll throw them in bed and pick up after them. I'll tell the dog to relax, that P will be home any minute. I'll look at myself in the mirror and say something to the effect of "What the hell???"

And then...

I'll freak out.

See, I have another chance to pitch a manuscript tommorow morning with a Harlequin editor in New York.

6 a.m. to be exact...

The manuscript in question is a little ditty I like to call "Shelter from the Storm." It was fun to write. Not much fun to revise, and absolutely NONE fun to try to compartmentalize into cutesy sound bites for tomorrow's pitch session. I have lots of work to do tonight, perfecting my "this is why you should request a partial from me" spiel.

And that's what I'll be doing into the wee small hours of the morning. I'll attempt to interview myself and write out all the answers to the questions Ms. Editor may, or may not, ask. I'll spend a few hours tonight hanging out with my characters...the strong, silent type hero. He's a small-town sheriff with a nasty ex wife who up and broke his heart. (Nasty ex wife!)

There's our scarred, traumatized heroine. She's got an angry red scar from her eyebrow down her cheek--a souvenier from an attack by a serial killer she survived. She bought a bakery from her great aunt and started over in her old hometown. She's quiet and can't sleep well, but she's doing alright. Until...

Dun Dun DUNNNNN...

And that, dear Reader, is what makes Romantic Suspense, well, romantic suspense. (Which Harlequin Intrigue is.)

This is the second romantic suspense I've worked on, and I find they are actually kind of fun and easier to write. It's much easier to fill up pages when people are hacking at your characters with kitchen knifes or shooting at them from speeding SUVs. It's much harder to fill 50k words of two characters just plain ol' falling in love and stuff. Way harder.

So that's it. Tomorrow. Another day. Another chance to pitch the ol' romance novel. Will post any good news...

Sunday, November 15, 2009

At last...

Picture it...Eagle River, Alaska. Winter 2009. A beautiful young peasant girl walks down the aisle....

Ok, ok, no more nods to Sophia Patrillo or the Golden girls.

I don't sing like Etta James (more like Bartles and James), but, if you could, please imagine that song playing in the background. It sets the mood of sorts for this post.

I know all brides think their wedding was amazing, and I'm no different.

It was a-m-a-z-i-n-g.

Our church had dim lighting and candles. And fall decorations. And bridesmaids in beautiful black dresses. And groomsmen in dapper black suits. And guests in lots of pretty party clothes. And P. And me. P had hemmed up pants. We bought a new shirt/tie combo for Boy Wonder and subsequently lost the NEW TIE moments before the ceremony. (I'm awesome like that.) Boo had a nice new shirt and some brown pants. (He looked great!) And I had a fancy hairdo AND a bouquet. (That I made a few hours before the ceremony with some roses and some ribbon. Martha Stewart can kick rocks...I didn't even need You Tube.)

The day was a blur. I had to coach Boy Wonder's basketball game at noon. P had a huge math exam at we crammed a day's worth of errands and prep into a couple hours. (Yes, I panicked and went crazy a few hours before...but I was chained to a stylist chair for two hours while the girl curling ironed my hair into oblivion, so I couldn't really unleash the true Bridezilla, scales and all. The hair was a really pretty oblivion, btw.)

Anyhoo...I just remember 7 p.m. arrived and there Boy Wonder and I were. Standing at the door of the church. And all of our friends stood and looked straight at us and I stared at the floor the entire walk. :) Stage fright, anyone?

I'll admit it. I was incredibly nervous and overwhelmed, but despite risking sounding like an absolute cheeseball, I looked to P when I got really antsy and he calmed me down. Talk about a rock...I'd look at him and the world sort of just disappeared and narrowed in on the two of us and Fr. Greg. (He did an amazing job and delivered a beautiful sermon that I can't really remember all that well now. But I do remember him saying that this is one of those moments that defines your life as "before" and "after." So true, so true.) And when it was just the three of us, I could focus. And I could say my lines without sounding robotic or like Optimus Prime. ("Autobots...let's transform...and ROLLOUT!")

Before we knew it, the rings were blessed and we were married. Amazing how time crawls like molasses in the church library before the ceremony and how it absolutely FLEW to the "Hey, you're married now" part. We had a few desserts with everyone and went home to tuck our boys into bed, then we were off to the hotel and after party.

Our first dance (to the best of my recollection) was to Sean Kingston's "Fire Burning." Hey, don't judge. Our first date soundtrack will forever be Soldier Boy's "You" song. We're not big on sentimentality around the Applegate house.

So we made it to the fairytale beginning and now it's back to reality. Like the electricity disconnect notice I have staring at me on the counter. (Why you gotta bust balls, Matanuska Electric Association?)

Thanks to every single one of our friends and families for the well wishes and the support. Lots of love to everyone!

Monday, November 9, 2009

Come And Play, Everything's A-OK...

If you've used google in the past 72 hours, it's likely you've seen cookie monster or big bird fitting their faces through the great big letter O in celebration of 40 years. 40 YEARS!

It's tough to believe they've been around that long, and that some of the original cast is STILL on. (I'm talking about you, Maria.) My first memories of television have Sesame Street in them, and it's amazing that despite the necessary re-vamps to keep time with SpongeBob and Dora, it's still got that same "feel" to it.

So, in honor of the big 4-0, here's my Sesame Street Top 5 of all time list. (Top 5 greatest memories, I suppose...)

5. Ernie and his Rubber Ducky Song.

I love Ernie and his little fella who is "cute, and yellow, and chuuuuuuubby."

4. Cookie Monster tells us what starts with C.

C is for Cookie, that's good enough for me....(me too, cookie monster!)

"OOH! Cookie, Cookie, Cookie starts with C..." Indeed.

3. Bert and the Pigeon Dance

Live from Peoria...I mean, what was better when we were 5?? (Full disclosure: I sort of look like that when I dance these days. I blame Bert.)

2. Grover the Waiter

It was a toss up between this big hamburger or the fly in the soup. I love, love, love GROVER. I really do. You'll see how much in a second... (P.S. Customer Man, you should have taken the LITTLE hamburger. Just sayin'.)

1. Super Grover

OH. MY. GOODNESS. I love super grover. Like, love him so much I want to bottle him up and carry him around in my purse LOVE him. Especially when he helps "Little Freddy Smith" escape the playground, so he won't be late for dinner and his mother won't be mad at him. Super grover to the rescue.

Happy Birthday, Sesame Street!

The Happy Ending Countdown: 5 Days...

Holy shite, Batman. Five days to go...

I think I have officially driven my friends (the bridesmaids) crazy with my lack of planning. I've offered a spreadsheet and not delivered yet (working on it...), we have a groom with unhemmed pants, a bride with an unironed gown, I've got a "Not Sure" status on the wedding cake (Hooray, you lousy baker woman), I have no shoes, and the baby has no fancy duds to match his dad or his brother. Oh, and we lost Boy Wonder's clip-on tie. And we still don't know who is going to take photos for us on Saturday. Dammit.

But...honestly...I don't think that's too bad. I mean, in the end, a couple wrinkles and a baby wearing his footie pajamas to watch his folks get married isn't the END of the world, is it?

Truth be told, I'm not stressed...I'm nervous. In a butterflies sort of way. In a "oh my gosh, this is real" sort of way. From the "we're getting married in a couple months" to the "happily ever after happens at the end of the week" sort of nervous. Remember how nervous I'd get days before a fight (or if you're old school, how sick I'd get the day of a swim meet)? How I'd have that sour stomach for days and days...yeah...that's about right. It's an adrenaline rush, methinks, but it's still crazy.

P is cool as a cucumber, as usual. He looks at me like I'm a macadamia (nuts, hehe) when I tell him I'm worried all the details won't magically fall into place (and they won't...they need a spreadsheet to magically fall into place.) him, the stress robs the day of the fun and the magic and he's so right. The point of Saturday is not to make sure the candles match the napkins and the pumpkin pie coordinates with the autumn leaves's the fact that we're GETTING MARRIED and all of our friends and family that can make it want to be a part. Now that's just magical to me...

But he still needs to get the pants hemmed and we need to find Boo a monkey suit to match Boy Wonder's missing tie. Oh, and in case you were worried, I made a hair appointment to let someone else do it, realizing that a half-assed ponytail (like the one I rock to the office EVERY DAY) won't cut it. I nearly choked when she told me $50...there better be some gold or semi-precious gems tucked in there when she's done....

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Note to self

I've been doing it again lately. Keeping myself up at night with a million thoughts a minute. Replays of failures and worries running over and over on a continous loop to the point where it's damn near impossible to feel like things are actually doing just fine. I had an intense internal dialogue going for a while this morning on the way to work, and it got to be pretty funny. I was pretty hard on myself, truth be told. It went something like this:

Dear Self,

Grow up. No, seriously. Get over it already. We all have bills that are a month behind. We all hate our jobs on the ride in to work each morning. We all wish we had more money for more cappucinos or the Coach purse in the window. But move on. The constant whine in this head of yours is like a nagging buzz that never, ever ends.

Here's a hint: let go of the maniacal need to "organize" every other minute. In 10 years, your boys will remember the times you plunked down on the carpet and chewed on their legs or taught them checkers. They won't remember how awesomely organized the DVD cabinet was or how there was never any clutter on the kitchen counters. Seriously. Let it go now and then.

You should buck up. When did you get so wimpy and insecure? If someone is rude or makes you feel small, tell them to kick rocks. To their face, even. Don't carry the insult around for days, stewing on it. It's annoying. This hesitance and fear habit you've picked up the past few years is really depressing and it makes it hard to like you sometimes.

Quit worrying about how others see you. Nine times out of ten, the things they're thinking of have ABSOLUTELY nothing to do with you. And when it is about you, it's their problem, not yours. Let them be insecure and petty.

Would it kill you to pluck an eyebrow or put on clothes that have been ironed once in a while? Since when does having two kids make it OK to look like a cave dweller?

Remember how all the hair on one side of your head fell out after brain surgery? Remember the crying and the fits you threw because you had giant bald spots that you couldn't hide? I do. You didn't shut up about how you couldn't wait to feel normal again and like yourself in the mirror. And now what?

Buy a scarf or something, woman. You're starting to scare the children. What's next? Sweat pants and rollers at the store? Take a little pride in yourself now and then, and you'll go far.

Call your mother. Call your dad. Call your grandmother. Call P's family. Just call. Send them Boy Wonder's kindergarten art. Send them cheesy Alaskan postcards with computer-drawn igloos and whale tales superimposed on water scenes. Time is precious and it's rushing by like water in a stream. You should know this by now. Feel blessed that there are people out there who want to hear from you and who miss you.

If you want to write, write. If you want to hang upside down off a building, hang upside down off a building. It gets old listening to the "I wish I could..." and "Wouldn't it be fun..." repeatedly. Do it. Or don't. Just shut up about it already.

And turn the TV off a little more. Boy Wonder has seen every single SpongeBob and Phineas and Ferb twice over. Enough already. Make him use the ol' imagination a little more, and before long, he won't notice the big annoying electronic box isn't spewing a million commercials an hour at him. He might sleep better, too.

Make it happen. Anything happen, it doesn't matter--you used to be really good at that. Now you hem and haw and think about possible consequences and whether it'd be too inconvenient or time consuming. You're driving me crazy. Just make it happen.