Five.

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I remember the early days, the long hours at seemed to stretch on for eons. The way the afternoon sun would shine into the living room where we would sit, toys and books scattered around us. Those hours–lets be honest, those days–are all in my memory under a haze of new mom exhaustion. They are all in my memory as beautiful moments. Even the three AM ones, when I would groan in frustration when I heard that tiny baby cry.

There weren’t a lot of times when I left infant JC with someone else. I wanted to be there for everything and not miss a moment. Call it attachment parenting, call me overprotective and sensitive, call me just plain crazy–it worked for me. I didn’t know–still don’t know–if the universe would see fit for me to have more than one kiddo, and I wanted all the moments. Because I knew one day, that tiny baby would be blowing out five candles on his cake. I knew that he would want to play with his friends and not need–or necessarily want–my constant supervision. I knew that there would be other people he would learn to adore–and I’m lucky that there are people in his life he loves so much that when they walk into a room, it’s like I don’t exist. I knew there would be a time for baby-sitters and date nights for my husband and I and sleepovers with his grandparents, and I knew when that time came, I wanted to be able to give him his freedoms and not regret missing out on his babyhood.

I realize to some of you–nonparents and parents of older, college-aged children–I must sound dramatic. After all, he just celebrated his fifth birthday. He’s hardly calling home to tell me he’s going on a ski trip with his frat brothers instead of coming home for Thanksgiving. But he’s growing up. The days were long but the years are short. Suddenly he’s not a baby, or a toddler, or even a preschooler. He’s a legitimate big kid.

I’m thankful for his health, his sense of humor (which he only has when he’s in control of the situation), his creativity and his quirkiness. As much as I loved those baby moments, I’m ready to embrace the big boy ones, too.

It’s hard not to wax poetic on his birthday–to recall the day he was born, how I labored at home for hours after telling my husband to get some sleep, quietly spending those last few hours with my boy while I still carried him under my heart;  how the doctor laughed at me when I told him I didn’t take the birthing class and I was going to need a pretty specific overview of how things were going to play out; calling my mom at 5 AM and saying, “the nurse says he’ll be here by lunchtime, it’s for real this time!”; looking at him the first time and thinking, of course that’s him, and knowing I would have recognized him anywhere; knowing something was wrong with his breathing before the nurses did; the panic of having to leave him in the NICU and the joy of getting to bring him home a few days later.

Right now, JC loves hearing about the day he was born. He loves to pore over pictures with me, listening to the story over and over. I know one day he won’t want to hear it, he’ll groan “Mo-ooooom!” when I talk about the day he came into the world. So I’ll tell him as many times as he wants until that day.

After all, it’s one of the best stories I know.

Today I’m linking up with Mama Kat and her writing workshop and blogging about something sweet. 🙂 

…They Should Have Behaved Better.

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Every writer has heard it. Someone reads something you’ve written: an article, a blog, a book. And the questions start.

“Who is that character in real life? It’s me, isn’t it? And isn’t the guy with the good hair so-and-so? I didn’t know that’s the fight that ended your relationship!”

Ugh. Just ugh.

I’m sure that there are some writers out there who write for revenge. But I think that for most of us, the truth is that the majority of characteristics are just that…characteristics.

It must be unnerving being close to a writer, and knowing everything that happens is fodder for their art. When people see themselves in my writing, I always answer with this: “Are you pleased with it? You are? Well then of course it’s you! No? You don’t think you’re anything like that? Then it is obviously someone else.”

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Here is how it works for me. My stories ALWAYS start out with people in my life in them. Not down to the letter, but with pretty strong characteristics. But as I write, the characters take on their own personalities. They shed their skins and grow new ones, and that is a magic moment for me. That’s when I know I’m on a roll.

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My favorite example of this is a blog I wrote a year or so ago. It was a writing prompt to write a break-up letter to someone who is taking up space in your heart that shouldn’t be allowed to be there. Within a day of publishing it, I heard from three different guys from my past–all assuming it was about them.

It wasn’t about any of them.

Who was it about? I’ll never tell.

Do you write real-life people into your stories? How do you answer if someone thinks they see themselves in your writing?

How Do You Know When to Stop?

This is a problem I do not have much in my writing: knowing when to stop.

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I’m kind of an exposition fan girl. I like to stay there, obsess there, and never wrap things up. It is not my strong point, which is problematic for my future as a published author.

So it is odd to find myself in the position I’m in. I began writing what I expected to be a novel about a man and a woman with a complicated history who run into each other as adults and the situations that inevitably arise from an occasion such as that.

However, as I put my pen down at the end of what I was considering to be the first section, I realized I kind of liked the story as it was: enough back story to be interesting and catch someone’s attention, enough development to show how the characters had changed, and a tempting little end that manages to leave things open but not be an obnoxious cliffhanger. My long-winded novel had turned itself into a short story.

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Is it? IS IT?!?

I put it away for a few months and came across it again today. I have more to say, certainly, but I don’t know if I should say it. As I mentioned before, wrapping things up is not my strong point. Sometimes characters stay with me even when I have an end in sight for them, and these guys aren’t doing that (I realize that makes me sound crazier than I actually am, but there you go).

So I’m crowdsourcing: how do you know when to stop? Do you like short stories that leave you hanging or do you like everything wrapped up in a nice little bow? 

The Halfway Point

The year is half over. The year is half over. 

Apparently, I blinked and missed it. I was in Target today and the school supplies are out. My heart broke a little bit.

In January I made a list of ways 2015 was going to be the best year ever: goals, hopes, dreams. I thought now would be a good time to check in on them…before, you know, fall arrives.

Lets start with things I’ve accomplished from my list:

  • I’m going to publish a book this year. The Goldens will come out this fall and I just know (wink wink) that you’re all going to want to read it.
  • I read Judy Blume’s new book. Stay tuned for a review next week.
  • I have watched Friends and Gilmore Girls on Netflix. I’m not sure how this really accomplishes anything, but it makes me happy.

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  • I have survived the giant changes that have happened in my world, and I am the most change averse person on the planet. I am proud to say I only had to put myself in time out a minimal amount.

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  • I’m going to call my healthy living blog, Girl Seeking Healthy, an accomplishment…even thought I took a hiatus from it while we moved. I’m back to blogging there, so check it out!
  • Two of my best friends have moved closer to me–my very oldest friend to my very own city, and my college roommate to North Carolina. Still a bit of a drive for us to visit, but much closer than Long Island where she was finishing up a medical fellowship. And–added bonus–my BFF who lives in Denver just got engaged. Good things happening all around in the girlfriend department.
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Close by! In my city! Engaged!

  • My husband and I celebrated 10 years together this year. For better or worse, I’m glad I’m trekking through life with him.

And the things left on the list:

  • I still haven’t had that family portrait taken.
  • My “to read” list is still reaching epic proportions.
  • I haven’t been to the new reptile house at Zoo Atlanta. For shame, city girl!
  • I have not learned how to speak Italian or make my own pasta. Do you think it counts if I watch The Sopranos while eating pasta from that nice man at the farmer’s market?
  • We have not managed any weekend getaways. We did get a family vacation in May, though, so I’m not complaining.
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    Vacation! Does this count as a family portrait?!?

  • I have not doing a single crafty Pinterest project. And yet, I keep pinning…

So there we have it. I think I’m making pretty good progress but I still have a lot to do.

How are your goals coming so far for 2015?

When the Going Gets Tough…the Tough Edit.

It has been a very long week.

The stress of moving has caught up with all of us. My whole family is tired and cranky. Half our stuff is still in boxes. We have found the smoothie maker but not the blade, rendering the maker useless. We have found most of the silverware. The majority of my bathroom things are scattered between the master bath and the garage in half-open boxes–which is okay, because we didn’t have hot water until yesterday. These are all first world problems, and I feel even worse for being upset by them.

By last night, I’d had it. A combination of early mornings and itchy spots from the swarms of mosquitos in our backyard had both me and JC at the end of our ropes. Once I finally got him to bed, I went to sink into a hot bath with my newly turned on water–only to find water that could be called lukewarm on a frigid day. I put on my robe and my squishiest yoga pants and stomped around the house. I had just decided to sit down and have a good cry when I thought of something better.

I didn’t need to cry. I needed to edit.

I may not know where the lid to my garbage can is, but I know where all my writing is: on a little red flash drive that always–ALWAYS–sits on my desk. When it has to be moved, it goes on my person. For those of you who aren’t writers, this may sound dramatic. For those of you that are–well, I don’t need to explain any further.

Moments later I was facing a list of nearly all the writing I’ve done in my adult life, in various stages of completion. I picked a piece and BAM–it gave my mind something to entirely focus on. It took me into the character’s head, into someone else world. Someone who needed to be walked through things, made more precise here, slightly more direct there. Who needed to think about things and act on things that had nothing to do with the state of my physical house.

It was glorious.

Two hours of editing later, I felt refreshed. I went to bed with no tears having been shed and a readiness to pick it all up tomorrow and keep moving forward–in both the real world and the world in my head.

Do you enjoy editing your work?

On the Move

I’m back to blogging after a break in which we moved from our city apartment to a roomy house in the suburbs, and I have some things to report.

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Moving is hard. Especially for almost five-year-olds. Luckily, Grover helps.

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Hello Everybodeee!

As does shoveling packing peanuts.

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I really, really have too many books. This isn’t even half. You guys, the movers DID NOT like me.

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Moving isn’t the hardest part. Getting settled into a new house is the hard part. Yesterday JC stated, “Mom, I do not like this new house. You know why? Because your bathroom is too big.” And then he burst into tears. Luckily, playing baseball in his new yard eases the pain of his parent’s oversized bathroom.

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You find weird things when you move. While I was going through a box of my father’s old things, I came across this sugar packet from Disney World. From my parents honeymoon. in 1981.

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Not throwing it away. Nope.

Tomorrow is the start of our first full week in our new home, and I’m excited to start finding our patterns in a new space. And writing. And re-reading all the books I made the movers haul around.

How long have you been in your home? Any tips of transitioning a young child into a new space?