Big Girl School: A New Chapter

It’s the big day, the day I’ve known was coming for a long time. Since the day my tiny little baby daughter was born I knew that one day I’d blink and she’d be staring school. Today is a big deal.

Except that it actually isn’t a big deal, not really. After all, the little missy already had a year of kindergarten (pre-school, to some of you). She was a little nervous on that first day, but she loved it, learned lots, and had tons of fun. Then came “orientation day” last June, during which the kindergarteners got introduced to the future of grade primary that laid ahead for them. She was super-nervous that day (I was out West, but my understanding is that she bawled her eyes out), but she had tons of fun again and didn’t want to leave at the end of the day. Since then she’s been bouncy as a jumping bean about the prospect of starting “big girl school”.

And today is the day. My husband and I just dropped our little girl off to her school, where she ran down the hall and showed us her classroom, excited to show us the “castle” where the books live and the big dollhouses and the blocks. She was sure to let her teacher know that her name has two ‘n’s, thank you very much, and she helped us pile all of her stuff into her new desk.

And then she hugged us and kissed us and said good-bye. Not a tear to be seen.

My big girl is tougher than I was on my first day of “big girl school”. But then, my big girl is tougher than me at pretty much everything. ^_^

Proud as a peacock and tough as nails. <3
Proud as a peacock and tough as nails. <3

Dwindling Word Count: An IWSG Post

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So it’s been a whole month since the last IWSG post day and I… Oh dammit, did I seriously write less than 6000 fictional words this month? That is totally unacceptable unsurprising.

It’s been one of those months. You know the kind: you have every intention of having a spectacular four weeks, but somehow by the end of it you look at your meager word count and begin feeling suitably bad about yourself. I’ve had a lot of those kinds of months this year and it’s starting to get to me a little.

This month I wrote approximately 20,000 words. Now, for some people 20,000 words may sound amazing, and it’s definitely nothing to sneeze at…better than zero words, at least! But here’s the thing…the overwhelming majority of those words were blog posts. A few of those blog posts were “Flash Fiction Friday” posts, so that adds up to maybe 5000 or so words, and other than that the only fiction writing I did was to revise a couple of chapters of The Other World: Book One, which only worked out to about 800 or so new words. So we’re looking at less than 6000 words of fiction over the course of a month.

Now I’ll grant that I have difficult hours to work with; for seventeen of the last thirty-one days I was dealing with 12-hour work days and an hour of travel each day. For three more of those days I was crammed into the most uncomfortable possible seats on a series of airplanes ferrying me across the country. That leaves eleven days that I was free to get some hardcore writing done, but those were the days I was actually home with my husband and daughter, and you can probably see where this is going.

Basically, what I’ve come to accept is that the best time for me to write is in the tiny window I have between the end of my 12-hour shift and the moment my body collapses into fitful, this-bed-sucks-so-much sleep. That window, after accounting for getting a shower and eating supper (and, twice a shift, doing my laundry), is about an hour long. I’m forever behind on blog posts, so I usually spend about half of that hour feverishly typing out something for the following day. That leaves half an hour. And what do I do then?

Honestly? Usually I wind up throwing on YouTube videos while I drool into my pillow and my eyelids begin to flicker.

could ignore my body and stay up later to get some writing done, but I choose not to because my health is bad enough as it is.

could rip the ethernet cable out of my laptop and refuse to let myself watch YouTube, but after a 12-hour shift I can’t help but justify my half-hour of semi-relaxation.

could suck it up and get down to it while I’m on my days off, but there’s always a million other things that I have to do while I’m home (or they don’t get done), and if I spend all day on my computer my daughter and husband end up frustrated with me because I’m home and should be spending time with them (and, you know, I actually want to spend time with them instead of sitting at my computer all day)

Basically there’s lots of solutions that I could employ, along with lots of reasons not to employ them.

And so I wind up with a measly 5800 fictional words over the course of a full month.

But I had plans, dammit! I was going to completely finish revising The Other World: Book One so that I could ship it off to my beta-reader and not have to look at it for a while! I was going to continue working on the first draft of The Other World: Book Two so I could feel like I was actually getting somewhere! And I was going to play my hand at writing a short romance novel, mostly out of curiosity to see what kind of reaction it would get, but also to broaden my horizons as a writer!

And literally none of that got done. None of it even got halfway done. Book Two and the romance story didn’t even get touched, despite my daily internal pep-talks that today was going to be the day.

I know that I’m being pretty hard on myself (hey, that’s what we writer’s do, right?) because I do have an outrageously awful schedule to have to deal with while trying to write as well, but sometimes I can’t help feeling that I’m just being a lazy whiner, that if I really wanted to do these things I would do them already. After all, I wrote, revised, edited, and self-published Nowhere to Hide while working this same kind of schedule. So why can’t I do it again?

Maybe I’m getting old and tired before my time. :P

So that’s my insecurity for the month, in all it’s twitchy, teary-eyed glory. How about you?

FODMAP Diet: Experiment Conclusions

Okay, this is it: the end of the low FODMAP diet experiment. For two straight weeks I adhered to a strict low FODMAP diet – which includes going gluten-free – except for one evening, which I’ll talk about shortly. So how did it go? Did I see any pleasant results? Did I go mad at all?

Well, the first thing that I have to reiterate is that this experiment was exceptionally difficult to stick to with the limited food options I had available to me at my work camp. The bag-up room (where we gather the food we’ll be taking on our 12-hour shift with us) was the worst because aside from (some of) the fruits and veggies and the loose gluten-free bread and donuts, virtually everything in that room is high FODMAP, full of gluten, or has no nutritional info for me to work with. Because of this I ate practically the same thing every day (gluten-free toast with peanut butter, boiled eggs, strawberries, baby carrots…) which gets pretty damn boring and depressing pretty damn quickly. Dinners were better, since there’s always some for of meat and veggies I could eat…until the day there wasn’t. Yes, on one particular day every option was either breaded or some form of pasta; not a gluten-free option to be found. This was the day that I ended up “cheating” (because what else was I going to do…not eat?) and I’ll have more on that in a minute.

So, first conclusion: going low FODMAP is extremely difficult (and depressing), at least when you’re limited by the minuscule number of options at a crappy work camp.

The second thing I have to talk about is the fact that I saw virtually no change in my stomach/digestive issues. At first I thought that perhaps the effect was so gradual that I just hadn’t noticed it, but that brings us back to the day I “cheated”. If my constitution had improved at all, you would assume that suddenly reintroducing gluten to my system would have a violent effect, but nope. I had no problems at all (or, rather, no more problems than usual). Now, someone might say that I wasn’t on the diet long enough to see any real results (the suggested “cleansing” period is six weeks). However, there is one particular issue (which I won’t talk about because it’s majorly TMI) that should have cleared up within the first few days if gluten or high FODMAP foods were the culprits.

So, second conclusion: while I can’t say that this diet wouldn’t work for anyone, it doesn’t seem to do anything for me.

Finally, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the one good thing that has come out of my two week diet: I actually lost a bit of weight. I’m somewhat surprised, because even though I was, in fact, cutting a lot of sugars out of my diet, I was still getting a full day’s worth of calories, on top of which I snacked on potato chips almost every night since I couldn’t have any of the sweets or desserts. Despite that, and the fact that I did absolutely no exercise the entire two weeks, I still lost four pounds. So yeah, there’s that for sure.

So, third conclusion: this is actually a half-decent (and healthy) diet to go one if you’re looking to shed a few pounds.

And there you have it. It was an experiment worth doing, for sure, although the results were not what I was hoping for. The little bit of weight loss is definitely nice, but I would have traded it in a heartbeat for any kind of relief from my digestive issues. I guess it’s time to look for a new experiment!

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1 Event That Will Help You Expand Your Readership: Meet and Greet


Time to share some love! I always say that blogging is a community event (and I often fail at upholding that myself), so take a glance at this Meet-and-Greet Event hosted by “Dream Big Dream Often”. ^_^

Originally posted on Dream Big, Dream Often:

imagesWhat day is it??!!  Meet and Greet Day!

Ok so here are the rules:

  1. Leave a link to your page or post in the comments of this post.
  2. Reblog this post.  It helps you, it helps me, it helps everyone!  So don’t be selfish, hit the reblog button.
  3. Edit your reblog post and add tags (i.e. reblogging, reblog, meet n greet, link party, etc.), it helps, trust me on this one.
  4. Share this post on social media.  Many of my non-blogger friends love that I put the Meet n Greet on Facebook and Twitter because they find new bloggers to follow.  This helps also, trust me.
  5. And if you leave a link and don’t follow me, how about ya show ole Danny some love?

Now that all the rules have been clearly explained get out there and meet n greet your butts off!

The Social Media post will publish…

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So Easy

Flash Fiction FridaysIt would be so easy…

Alex tossed another rock into the “lake” and watched as it plopped down on the surface and hung there. Gretchen took no notice, but continued running her mouth at him like she was undisputed queen of the Universe.

Alex considered the process on which they were standing. The floating structure was effectively a boat that housed a powerful pump. The main oil plant would pump all of their dirty run-off out to this remote, man-made pond, and then the “boat” would separate the water and pump it back to the plant for re-use. What was left behind was a thick, black, tar-like sludge lake that was so solid it took almost five full minutes for Alex’s rocks to sink below the surface.

He’d tossed six rocks so far. They sink so satisfyingly.

Eventually, when too much sludge had accumulated, the entire lake would be buried.

And my rocks will never be seen again.

“Are you even listening to me Alexander?! My god, you are so inconsiderate! We’re supposed to be partners! We’re supposed to be working together! We’re all we’ve got out here in the middle of nowhere, and you can’t even be bothered to pay attention to me when I’m talking to you!”

Alex watched his seventh rock sink slowly, the sludge enveloping it in a warm, smothering hug until all traces of it had vanished into its slimy grave.

Oh my god, Alexander, you are such an asshole! Look at me! Look at me!!

Alex looked at her and wondered what he would tell Operations.

It would be so easy…

Mommy Confessions

I love reading stories about parenting adventures because they make you smile about the kinds of things that, in your own life, would make you want to pull your hair out or hide under a bed for eternity. My friend and former classmate, Katie, understands this perfectly and shares the joy/horror of motherhood regularly on her mommy blog, She Didn’t Come With Instructions. Recently she wrote this post full of “mommy confessions” meant to give hope and a chuckle to those ladies out there who are beating themselves up trying to be the picture-perfect mom. Katie’s confessions made me laugh, cry, and nod enthusiastically, so today I thought I’d share some of my own mommy confessions.

"Confession" #1: This is what true love looks like.
“Confession” #1: This is what true love looks like.

When we first put the little missy in her own room at night (around 6-7 months) I used to rock her to sleep first while singing to her. Why is this a confession? Because I would sing the love songs from Disney movies.

At around 8-9 months we hit a period during which she would neither go to sleep nor stay to sleep, and we were pretty much at our wits end. Somehow we discovered that by sitting my portable DVD player outside her crib and playing “Baby Mozart” on it, she would lull herself to sleep, and I didn’t give two rat’s tails what anyone said about how babies shouldn’t watch TV because the solution meant daddy and I actually got to have more that an hour’s sleep at a time.

At four, my daughter still goes to bed with a TV show on, and I still don’t give two rat’s tails what anyone has to say about that because it settles her, keeps her in her room, let’s daddy and I get our sleep, and trust me, she gets plenty sleep of her own.

When I was home with my daughter during the first few months of her life, I would often lull her to sleep on my chest, and then use the fact that she was sleeping on me as an excuse to not move for hours (while watching Netflix, of course).

I have, on occasion, given my daughter crackers and cheese 2-3 times in a single day because I just couldn’t be bothered arguing with her. She never gets constipated, so I guess it’s all good in the end.

Until very recently I was still wearing some of my maternity shirts and sweaters (I only stopped wearing the sweaters because the zippers broke on both of them).

Sometimes, when I was home alone with the baby while my husband was at work, she would start crying and I would have no idea why. While entirely normal, this would spike my blood pressure and stress hormones (hey, I was getting next to zero sleep) and more often than not I would end up curling up in the armchair and crying with her.

In the past four and a half years I think I have taken at least five hundred pictures of my daughter sleeping. The most recent one was about three weeks ago.

We try to encourage our daughter to help out with the chores, and I definitely think that it’s super-important to do so, but sometimes when she comes running out to the kitchen to help me with supper I get a little nervous twitch because I was planning to whip through the recipe super-fast so I could move on to other stuff.

My husband and I are raising our daughter to be an ultra-nerd. We teach her the names of comic book and video game characters the way other parents would teach their kid new words.

My daughter watches tons of stuff that would make some parents raise their eyebrows. At 3 years old she watched all three Alien movies with my husband, and we’d all often watch Futurama together. These days she has quite a liking for Godzilla and Gamera. For the record, she has had about three nightmares in her life, and none of them had anything to do with what she’d watched the night before.

I often sneak candy behind my daughter’s back. Doubly so after just explaining to her that she can’t have cookies for breakfast.

Addendum: Mommy sometimes has cookies for breakfast.

When I first returned to work at the paper mill (when she was around 7 months old) I still wanted her to be having breast milk, so I had to pump. Pumping didn’t work well for me, so I had to do it every couple of hours in order to get anything at all, which meant I regularly had to sneak off, lock myself in the women’s locker room, and strap up. The industrial noise just outside the door probably did nothing for my nerves in these moments.

I was so relieved when I finally decided to stop pumping because it meant I didn’t have to worry about having an alcoholic drink whenever I wanted anymore.

The first couple of times I left missy with someone I was a nervous wreck because, despite having raised some pretty awesome kids of their own, I somehow felt that my parents and the inlaws were in no way capable of taking care of my daughter.

I still enjoy singing Disney songs to my daughter. So does she. We just do it in the car when daddy’s not around.

I’ve lost, like, 2 lbs since I gave birth. At my current rate of loss I should be back to my original weight in approximately 47 years.

I want my daughter to be an outdoorsy kid; I just don’t want to be outdoors with her all of the time. I’m a vampire. Sue me.

I have absolutely no shame about letting my daughter see me changing or getting in and out of the shower. My husband thinks it’s weird, but my mother was the same way with me so it seems totally normal to me.

I have gotten through entire conversations with my daughter by nodding and saying, “Mmm-hmm” whilst concentrating on something else and not hearing a single word she’s said.

I often find myself thinking that my husband is definitely the better parent, and though I know I’m a great mom, it still makes me feel small and insecure.

There is nothing in this world more wonderfully satisfying and comfortable to me than when my daughter and I snuggle up to watch a show or movie together and she lays her head on my chest and wraps her arms around me. I would do that exact thing every single night of my life if I could.

So there you go; some more confession-like than others, but a hearty list of mommy confessions none-the-less. Did any of them make you chuckle? Commiserate? Shed a tear? Let me know in the comments, and feel free to share some parental confessions of your own!