Gift Ideas for Christmas 2014: Toys Part 2

Looking for some more gift ideas for the little ones? Let’s see what Tracey’s got in her pack today:

Frozen Color-Changing-Dress Dolls

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You’d probably stamp a huge “DUH” on my face if I started talking about how Frozen toys are big this year, so I’ll spare you that blurb. But I will tell you that amongst the available merchandise (and my god, is there a lot of it), a couple of my favorites are the Anna and Elsa dolls with color-changing dresses. One of the reasons I like them is because, unlike most of the other thousand doll options, these dolls have Anna and Elsa in their “coronation day” party dresses instead of the trademark outfits that they end up in by mid-movie. In other words, they’re actually a little different from all the other options. The other reason I like them is because their appeal is a kind of classic, old school one: you put water in the little wand accessory and “paint” the dresses to magically change their color and design. It’s simple, it’s not messy, and your kid can enjoy it over and over again. Hey, if you’re going to spend upwards of $30 on some random Barbie doll anyway, why not spend it on one of these dolls and make your little Frozen fan’s day?

Fisher Price Doctor Kit


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Now here is a classic toy…literally, I’m pretty sure this toy has been around for at least 30 years, probably more. A couple of my cousins had this kit as children, and except for a few minor changes (that were probably related to safety standards), it’s the same now as it was then. It still includes the little hand-pump blood pressure cuff, the same band-aid “braclet”, the same ear-checker-thingy (seriously, what the hell is that thing called?), and it’s all made of the same sturdy plastic that is nearly impossible to break. And seriously, what kid doesn’t enjoy checking heartbeats, giving needles, and wrapping up boo-boos? Kids love pretending to make parents, siblings, and grandparents feel better, so why not give them the tools they need with this affordable $20 kit?

Disney Infinity

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Okay, let’s get into something a little more, shall we say, substantial? Fair warning: with tons of figures and play pieces to collect, this is the kind of gift that you can easily find yourself spending more and more money on as time goes by. That said, if you’ve got a video game player who also happens to be a fan of Disney shows and movies, this is a pretty damn neat gift. The “starter packs” for the game come with a base on which you place your collectible figures in order to download them into the world of the game. The world and options available to you expand as you purchase your favorite character figures and the available “play pieces” (which unlock new words), meaning that you could theoretically keep playing this game for ages. The 2.0 version of the game also recently came out, giving us lots of new characters to choose between, and the 1.0 characters still work as well, making for an even bigger world (although be warned, the 1.0 play pieces don’t work with 2.0). Just a few of the available character figures are all of the movie-version Avengers (Captain America, Thor, Hulk, Iron Man, Hawkeye, and Black Widow), the Ultimate Spiderman characters (Spiderman, Nova, White Tiger, Power Man, Iron Fist, and Nick Fury), a couple of Disney princesses (Anna, Elsa, Rapunzel, and Merida), the Guardians of the Galaxy (Star Lord, Gamora, Rocket Raccoon, Groot, and Drax), and a ton of random characters like Stitch, Vanellope and Wreck-it Ralph, Donald Duck, Jack Sparrow, and many others. If you’ve got someone on your gift-giving list who is a gamer, a collector, and a Disney fan, this gift could easily be a triple-whammy.

Still not done shopping for your little ones? Come back on Thursday for my last batch of suggestions!

More Random Things You Might Not Know About Me

I can totally rock a Space Invaders t-shirt.
I can totally rock a Space Invaders t-shirt.
  • Most of my favorite shows are fictional stories like Supernatural, Doctor Who, and Game of Thrones, but I also enjoy a variety of different things, and one show I love is Penn and Teller’s Bullshit. I don’t agree with 100% of the things that they’ve said on the show, but I do agree with quite a lot of it, and I admire the way that they’re willing to talk about the unpopular opinions when they truly believe in that opinion.
  • I can sing at least one song, without forgetting any words, to every Disney Princess movie except Brave and Frozen, and only because I haven’t watched those particular ones enough to have the songs memorized. I regularly sing said songs at the top of my lungs when I know no one can hear me.
  • Moths and similar winged bugs freak me the hell out. I don’t mind them as long as they’re nowhere near me, but if they come close enough to touch me I lose my bloody mind.
  • When I was a little kid I had a Cricket talking doll that I loved to death. My mom’s coworker and friend used to call me on the phone and talk to me in Cricket’s voice and for years I really believed that it was the real Cricket who was talking to me.
  • I play a bit of guitar (although not that often anymore) but I am straight up phobia-level terrified of tuning the instrument. When I was young and taking lessons, my teacher had a string snap while he was retuning his guitar – a little surprising, but nothing too terrible there. Then a couple of years later I snapped a string because I hadn’t realized that particular string had somehow been wound up an octave too high. Again, it surprised me but was nothing too horrifying. But then I saw a horror movie in which a character broke a string on another instrument (I think it was a piano, but I can’t quite remember), and the string struck the character in the eye. A great deal of blood ensued. Ever since watching that scene, I can’t help but imagine myself getting hit in the eye by a flying broken string every time I have to tune my guitar. The only way I can get myself through it is to make sure the guitar strings are pointed as far away from my face as possible through the entire ordeal, and to wear a pair of safety glasses. I look like a total lunatic, but it’s the only way it’s going to happen.
  • I have a major pet peeve…about actual pets. I’ve always loved cats, but I have two and it absolutely enrages me how they run after me and wind around my legs and stand in the way of my feet as I walk whenever I get anywhere within ten feet of their food bowls. I might have just filled the bowls literally five minutes previous, but if I walk too close they’re on top of me again, tripping me while I try to carry laundry down the stairs or pawing at my feet when I turn toward the bathroom instead. And it makes me genuinely MAD. Maybe it’s a bit of an anger management thing, I dunno. All I know is that it makes me want to punt them down the stairs. 😛
  • I have a thing about certain scents. Some are reasonable, like the smell of sugar cookies, and some are weird, like the smell of Play Doh, and some send me straight into a nostalgia spiral back into my childhood. To this day certain smells immediately make me think about playing certain old video games or scribbling out stories in a notebook in the back of my mom’s car.
  • I am not, nor will I ever be, the kind of person who worries a ton about cleaning, but I absolutely wig out when I step on stuff (little crumbs or what-have-you) with bare feet. My entire house is hardwood and laminate flooring, so I wear socks 90% of the time to avoid stepping on little bits of things that didn’t get vacuumed up.
  • As a writer, I cringe when reading something that is poorly written, but – counter-intuitively – I have thoroughly enjoyed some books that were horribly written but had a fun plot.
  • For the first 27 years of my life I swore you would never get me on a plane because I figured I’d either have a panic attack from the height, or get violently ill because I occasionally have motion sickness. When I finally got on a plane for the first time in order to go away for work, I experienced either. My ears popped pretty bad during the first flight, but that was it. Color me surprised.
  • Once, at a wedding when I was about twelve years old, there was a big platter of nanaimo bars on the buffet table, and no one was really eating them. By the time the reception was over I had eaten a good dozen of those squares. And they weren’t small either.
  • When I’m working out West I tend to eat better because all the food is provided for me and it’s pretty easy to just grab some salad fixins and a chicken breast. But once a week or so I skip supper all together, buy a huge bag of chips and some cream soda from the convenience store, and spend the night gorging and watching shows on my tablet.
  • I get a strange enjoyment out of writing these “random things” posts because they force me to really think about myself and pick out the information that I didn’t even realize I was keeping to myself. 😀

A to Z Challenge Day 1: Ariel (the Little Mermaid)

Aariel

My first alphabetical fictional character is one who was a huge favorite of mine growing up: Ariel, better known as “The Little Mermaid”.

I’ve defended Ariel (and the other Disney Princesses) before, but for today we’re going to ignore the people who like to complain about what a bad influence the Disney Princesses are on young girls and just pretend for a moment that The Little Mermaid is just a nice movie with nothing to complain about, because this is my childhood, dammit.

Back as far as I can remember, I’ve been watching Disney movies, but The Little Mermaid was the crowning jewel of my childhood and I loved Ariel absolutely beyond words. She was my favorite Disney character when I was little because she embodied what every little girl imagines their life to be like. Admit it, ladies: even if you had a charmed childhood, you grew up imagining that there was something better out there, that no one truly understood you, that every time your parents scolded you or reprimanded you they were just stifling who you really were! Don’t even try to deny it. That self-important, adventurous attitude is part of growing up, and that’s what made Ariel so easy to relate to. She gave up everything she had in order to follow her dreams, and in the end she proved to everyone that they’d just been blind to the truth that she saw so easily.

Plus, come on. Mermaids!

My cousins and I must have watched this movie more than a hundred times, easy, and it became a regular game for us to play “mermaids” when we were out swimming at the beach. We would hold our legs together and swim by kicking like we had one big fin, and we’d pretend that Ursula was trying to drag us down to the depths of the ocean. How cute is that?

These days I’ve been passing my love of Ariel and her adventure down to my daughter. The Disney movies aren’t her favorite thing in the world (she is much more interested in superheroes of both the Marvel and DC varieties), but she did watch The Little Mermaid in its entirety with me one night, and was very concerned when Ariel’s fin became legs. If I recall, the conversation went something like this:

Her: “Oh no! Ariel can’t swim”Me: “Why can’t she swim?”
Her: “She lost her tail!”
Me: “Yeah, but she has feet now.”
Her: “She’s got to find her tail!”
Me: “But it’s okay, she has feet now!”
Her: “Then she needs shoes! And she has to put on a shirt and be a princess!”

(I was extremely amused by the fact that she didn’t need a shirt until she had legs. Logic, by the littlest Tobin.)

So, in conclusion. Ariel rocks, and I’ll not let anyone tell me otherwise. 😉

The Princess Defence

For what seems like ages now, I’ve been reading about the bashing of Disney Princesses. The common thread, for the most part, seems to be the poor example that these princesses set for our daughters by teaching them that love is everything, that your man is the most important thing in your life, and that you need a prince to come and rescue you. People have praised the most recent princess, Merida from the Disney-Pixar film, Brave, for being the first and only princess to not give a damn about men and to stand true to herself, her dreams, and her desire to live her own life.

That’s great. Honestly and truly. I thought Brave was a great movie and I loved that Merida was such a headstrong girl with an “I don’t want to be a damn princess!” attitude.

However, as a woman who grew up with Disney movies, who has always loved all of the Disney Princesses, I feel a strong need to defend the others who have been so often picked upon.

Let’s go down the list, shall we?

They're pretty and they like men! BAD ROLE MODELS GRR RAWR!!!!
They’re pretty and they like men! BAD ROLE MODELS GRR RAWR!!!!

Snow White
To say that Snow White was a useless woman just waiting for her prince to save her is completely false. When this film starts out, love is the furthest thing from Snow White’s mind. At the start of the film she is simply a sweet girl who happens to be hated by a crazy evil queen. She is chased from her home and finds herself living deep in the woods with the seven dwarfs. She takes care of the dwarfs, teaches them common courtesies and how to clean up after themselves. She is then tricked by the evil queen in disguise into putting herself into a coma-state, which she awakens from by the good prince’s kiss. Okay, yes, in the end it was the prince who saved her. But it could have been anyone, really. Snow White wasn’t a useless woman sitting around and waiting for a handsome man to save her; she just happened to land in trouble because a crazy, evil, witch queen had it in for her, and as a result she wound up in a position where she needed saving. Guess what? Everyone on this planet needs a little saving once in a while. Not a horrible lesson for little girls, in my opinion.

Cinderella
Again, we have here a sweet young lady who has seen a lot of hardship…her father passed away and left her to the evils of her truly despicable mother-in-law and spoiled rotten sisters-in-law. She is forced to do all the housework, live in a tiny room in the attic, and never have any kind of life of her own at all. Is it any wonder that the poor girl dreams of a better life, of a loving family built with a loving man? Sure she could have dreamed of other things, but if you’d lost your father at a young age and been saddled with the worst surrogate family imaginable, wouldn’t you dream of real love? So she works her butt off in order to get to the ball (remember, she did a million and one chores all while trying to build her own dress from scratch, before the fairy godmother came along), and when she gets there she falls in love with a man who she doesn’t even realize is the prince. Cinderalla didn’t go chasing after the chance to be royalty…she stumbled into it because she just happened to fall for that particular guy.

Aurora (Sleeping Beauty)
Here we have another Snow White, for all intents and purposes. Aurora is chased from her home before she is even a few days old, by a crazed witch who puts an evil curse on her. As a result she grows up in isolation with three fairies pretending to be spinsters. She grows up with no one her age, or even remotely close to her age, and doesn’t even meet a boy until she’s sixteen years old. Is it so surprising that she falls for him? She’s lived her entire life up to this point without even the prospect of romance available to her, and then this handsome man just shows up in her backyard one day. She’s a teenager, for cripes sake. The hormones must have been through the roof!

Ariel (the Little Mermaid)
Ariel is one of the princesses who is often talked down about for caring only about her handsome prince. Absolutely not true. When this story begins the last thing on Ariel’s mind is love. She’s a headstrong girl who dares to dream of something bigger for herself. She’s strong and adventurous and dreams of the world above. It just so happens that in her pursuit of that she comes across a man and falls in love with him. Yes, she risks everything for the chance to be with him, and she does some truly stupid things, but remember that this isn’t all about a man. Ariel has been dreaming of the surface world her whole life. Eric was just the straw that broke the camel’s back. And hey, for the record, Ariel fought back in the end. Sure, Eric saved her from Ursula, but not before she saved him from Ursula. That’s teamwork right there, ladies and gentlemen.

Belle (Beauty and the Beast)
Okay, I’ll admit it…I’ve seen the comparisons between Belle and a sufferer of Stockholm Syndrome and I couldn’t help but go, “Huh.” But that’s not all there is to this particular Disney Princess. For one thing, she’s smart. She’s the first Disney Princess who is portrayed as a bit of a scholar, always reading and helping her father with his inventions. Second of all, she has convictions about the concept of love and marriage. She turns Gaston down flat out because he’s an ass and she’s not about to get married just because everyone expects it of her. Third, she’s brave. When her father goes missing she rushes off to find him, and selflessly gives herself over to the Beast in order to rescue her dear dad. Okay, the rest of the story may seem a little unlikely, with her falling in love with the person who has been keeping her prisoner, but the whole point of this particular story is that if you look for the good in people you just might find it. Is that really such a terrible lesson?

Jasmine (Aladdin)
Like Ariel, here we have a princess who dreams of something more. Come on, one of the first things that we learn about her is that she is rebelling against the traditions that say that she has to marry a prince. She doesn’t believe in marrying for money or power…she believes in marrying for love. How can you complain about that viewpoint? Sure lots of people insist that she never would have fallen for Aladdin if it hadn’t been for the power he possessed (the Genie), but personally I think that that’s just stretching for an argument. The first time we see Jasmine show interest in Aladdin is when he’s a beggar on the streets, sharing his stolen food with a couple of young street urchins. She sees the goodness in him long before he shows up pretending to be a prince.

Pocahontas
I’ve never actually heard anyone complain about this particular princess, but for the sake of argument I’ll say this. Pocahontas was a strong warrior with strong convictions. She happened to fall in love with a man during an extremely tumultuous time in her life, and in the end she gave up that love for her convictions and her people. Not exactly a damsel in distress here.

Mulan
And the exact opposite of a damsel in distress is Mulan. She’s a young Chinese woman who breaks all the rules about tradition. She doesn’t care about looking pretty, being delicate, or finding a groom. She is a tomboy of the highest order who would rather fight than be rescued. She bravely takes her father’s place in the Chinese army to keep him from getting hurt. She pretends to be a man to enter the army and goes through all the same training and hardships that the men go through. In the end she  saves everyone  – including the Chinese Emperor himself – from the Hun army. Oh, but she happens to fall in love while she’s handling all of that, so yeah, shame on her I guess.

Tiana (The Princess and the Frog)
Yet again we have a young lady for whom love is the absolute last thing on her mind. She has dreamed all her life of opening a restaurant of her very own, a noble, independent kind of dream. She works her ass off to make this dream come true, despite being blocked at every turn by corruption and good old fashioned human indecency. When she’s at her last straw, about to have all of her hard work and dreams ripped away from her, she takes a chance on a talking frog who claims to be a prince. What a horrible person right? For taking a chance when no options were left? For shame. And in the process of righting the wrongs and trying to get back to her true self she, like Mulan, happens to fall in love. Oh the horror.

Rapunzel (Tangled)
And, my friends, before Merida ever landed on the scene we had little Rapunzel, who apparently was completely forgotten about. This girl was locked in a tower for her entire childhood, never knowing the outside world, never knowing any human contact aside from her “mother”. And yet she has the strength, bravery, and cleverness to coerce Flynn into helping her achieve her dream of seeing the “floating lights” in person. She goes on a great adventure, during which she is often the one doing the saving (Flynn would have been arrested several if not for Rapunzel and her frying pan), and in the end she is willing to give up her life and her freedom to save the life of a good man that she believes, at this point, she will never even see again.

And then we have Merida, who apparently is the only Disney Princess worth idolizing because she’s the only one who didn’t fall in love.

Let me just get this last bit straight: I’m not saying that each and every one of the Disney Princess was a perfect, flawless, shining role model for our little girls. What I’m saying (or rather, wondering, I guess) is when did it become such a horrifying thing to fall in love? Most of these princesses weren’t fawning around, waiting for a big strong man to come and whisk them away…they were lovely young women who went through hell and back, followed their dreams and beliefs, and oh, geez, sorry for being human, but I happened to fall in love somewhere along the line, and if I happened to have been rescued at one point or another, sue me, have you never needed help from anyone ever?

I just think that in this day and age we put far too much emphasis on teaching little girls that they need to be strong and independent instead of just letting them be what they want to be. When I was a young girl watching these movies over and over again I can honestly tell you that the romance aspect was not what I was enjoying. I loved Ariel’s adventurous spirit, Belle’s intelligence, and Jasmine’s plucky attitude. I felt sad for Snow White, Cinderella, and Aurora for having their lives snatched away from them by the evil people in their lives. I was amazed that Pocahontas and Mulan were strong enough to fight for their people and what they believed was right. Never once did I watch a Disney Princess movie and think, “Yeah, I totally want to be a princess, so I’m going to go and get a bunch of pretty clothes and make-up and sit around and wait for a hot guy to come sweep me off my feet”.

In this, as with many things, I truly believe that we underestimate our little girls. We try to rescue them from dangers that we fabricate in our own minds. And in this, aren’t we ourselves being the “handsome prince” who swoops in, all cocky and self-absorbed, and tries to save the day even if it doesn’t need saving? Ladies and gentlemen, our little girls are not damsels in distress. If we let them be, they can be strong and brave and intelligent and adventurous. They can make their own decisions about the world and what is important to them.

And oh, by the way, if it does happen that “true love” is what’s important to a particular little girl? Deal with it. There are a hell of a lot worse things that they could be focusing their time and energy on, and many much worse role models they could be idolizing.

Tracey’s Gift-Giving Guide: Part 5 – Last-Minute Ideas

There’s only a week left until Christmas people! And yet I know that some of you barely have any shopping done…some of you even have NO shopping done. For shame.

For you people, here are a few last-minute, minimal-effort ideas.

Gift Cards

Personally, I’m not a fan of gift cards at Christmas. I can’t help but feel like there should be a note on them that says, “I don’t know you well enough to have any idea what you might like, so here’s some pre-spent money, and please do the leg work for me”. No offense to those who like to give gift cards…that’s just how I feel about them.

That said, there are certain types of gift cards that I feel are acceptable. Two of them are shown above. If you know a Tim Horton’s coffee lover, a Tim Card is an excellent choice because it’s money that you know they’re going to spend anyway. Alternatively, a Playstation Network card (or a Microsoft Points card for the XBox lovers) for the gamer in your life is a wonderful choice because it allows them to “load” their account with funds without having to attach a credit card number to their account. (For those of you who don’t get the whole gaming thing, your recipient can use the funds to download games or virtual goods for their games.)

Depending on what your gift recipient likes there are other good choices for gift cards, but I beg you to avoid certain stores…giving a gift card to a department store says, “I had literally thousands of choices around me, but still didn’t know what to get you”, and please, please avoid those Dollarama gift cards…even if your recipient regularly shops at the local Dollar Store, giving them a gift card for one screams “I think you’re cheap!”

A Themed Christmas Decoration

There are literally thousands upon thousands of themed and licensed Christmas decorations out there these days. They’ve always been available at stores like Hallmark and Carlton Cards, but they’re also prevalent at the department stores and supermarkets now, so you can’t possibly try to say that you can’t find any. For a few bucks you can get your loved one something cute and/or personalized that they can use to decorate their house for years to come.

Does your loved one love the old Rankin-Bass Christmas specials? There are tons of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer decorations out there. Do you have a kid on your list who is obsessed with a particular cartoon? I can almost guarantee you that you’ll find a couple of tree ornaments dedicated to that particular show. My daughter has her own miniature Christmas tree and it is covered in Ponies, Ninja Turtles, Spongebob, Sesame Street characters, and Disney Princesses. Take half a glance in the decoration section of any store and you’re bound to find something, I promise.

A Throw Blanket

Hear me out. If you live in a tropical climate, feel free to ignore this one, but if you live anywhere where, at some time throughout the year, the temperature drops below freezing, this is a great gift. There’s nothing quite like snuggling up on the couch to watch TV/read a book/play a video game/screw around on the computer with a soft, snuggly blanket wrapped around your shoulders. For a cost of between $10 and $30, depending on where and what you buy, you can share this joy. I’ve both given and received these wonderful little squares of material, and they’ve always been appreciated. In fact, I have one wrapped around me as I’m typing this post. Trust me on this one. Lovely, easy gift.

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With this last gift-giving guide post, I would like to say one last thing… Pay attention to your loved ones. The reason we all tend to have so much trouble (and stress) shopping during Christmas is because we can never think of what to buy, and the main reason that we can’t think of what to buy is because we simply don’t pay attention to one another. I’m not trying to give the impression that I’m exempt from that statement…I’m as bad as anyone. But the worst offenders, I’ve found, tend to be the parents of young children. Working in retail has shown me that a lot of parents pay so little attention to their children’s likes and dislikes that it actually frightens me, so here’s a hint: if you think that every video game is a “Mario” game, or you can’t name even one of the characters of the TV show that your child loves…you need to start opening your eyes and your ears and stop relying on sales associates to help you figure out what to get your kid for Christmas.

Do you have any gift ideas that you’d care to share with the panicked, stressed-out last-minute shoppers? Leave a comment! We’d all love to hear your ideas!

This concludes Tracey’s Gift-Giving Guide. I hope I’ve helped a few people come up with some ideas for great gifts for their loved ones, but now that we’re down to one week left I plan to not even think about any more shopping. 🙂

Happy last minute shopping, everyone!

Random Things I Love

Since I’m short on time with no blog post prepared and my NaNoWriMo novel calling, I thought I’d quickly share a couple of my favorite random things at the moment. Do what you will with that. 🙂

Disney Princess. There has been a lot of flack around Disney Princess lately, what with the vast number of people who claim that the Princesses teach little girls lots of bad lessons about the important things in life (yes, most of the princesses are out looking for their prince, I’ll give you that), but I personally think it’s a major overreaction. I was obsessed with the Disney Princesses my entire life. My cousins and I must have watched The Little Mermaid about 10,000 times – we could quote every single word – and when I first got Beauty and the Beast I would literally watch it to the end and then hit “play” again. And guess what? I became an industrial technologist who hates cooking and cleaning and would rather sit around in jeans and a t-shirt than primp up with pretty clothes and makeup. The lesson is that watching cute, fun, musical movies with lovable characters does not define who you are going to become, even if some of the plot-lines are a little bit misogynistic. Let the kids have their damn cartoons.

Scentsy. Much to the chagrin of my husband, father, and father-in-law, I’ve climbed about the Scentsy train. I’m not a great lover of the big burners that need a big flat surface to lay on because my house is not abundant in clear flat surfaces. But I love the cute little plug-ins, and some of the scents that are available just make me melt. I also fell in love with the “buddies”, which are cute little stuffed animals that you can stuff a scent pack into. My daughter has an adorable little teddy bear whose scent pack (“Newborn Nursery”) has lasted for over two years now. I recently started collecting the holiday burners to use as decorations, and I haven’t been disappointed yet…they’re so cute!

My vacuum. This one might sound weird, especially since just two paragraphs ago I mentioned that I hate cleaning. But the fact that I hate cleaning is exactly why I love my vacuum. I’ve gone through a couple of vacuums now – we’re hard on them because we have two cats that refuse to keep their fur on their bodies, and I have an incredibly thick head of hair that is constantly trying to escape my head – and this is the best one I’ve ever had. I spent a little more money than I wanted to in order to get a Shark Navigator Pro, which seemed to have a lot of great reviews, and I couldn’t be happier. The swivel head is great for corners and tight spots, and the extra-long arm and detachable bucket make it super-easy to do stairs. Vacuuming is significantly less of a chore since I splurged on this particular piece of equipment.

Scrivener. I’ve mentioned this before, but since I’ve been working on my NaNovel I’ve fallen in love with Scrivener all over again. There’s a bit of a learning curve, it’s true, but if you can convince yourself to sit down and just play around with it for a while you’ll find that it’s an extremely versatile tool that can make a writer’s life a hell of a lot easier. I especially love it for the organizational purposes. If I decide that an entire scene is meant for the trash pile, it is super easy to extract it from the story. If I have a dozen characters I can easily organize scenes so that I can locate the particular character I want to deal with today. I haven’t exploited even a quarter of the things that Scrivener can do and it’s still my favorite writing program ever.

Retro Cartoon Reboots. We all know that reboots aren’t always the greatest things. Re-making a much loved movie, TV show, or video game has great possibility to destroy years and years of dedicated fan base. But in recent years there have been a few reboots of the cartoons that my generation watched when we were kids, and they’ve thus far been amazing. I regularly mention Nickelodeon’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and Hasbro’s My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, and I will continue to do so because both shows take wonderful, beloved old cartoons and turn them into something updated and amazing. They make homage to the old cartoons while still doing their own thing and being fun and cute and lovable.

Pizzaronis. I know, I know, they’re not exactly health food, are they? But I had some this weekend at my mother’s party and it rekindled my love for the little pizza bundles. I ate these like they were going out of style when I was younger, and I would happily eat them every day even as an adult. YUM.

NaNoWriMo. Even when I’m doing poorly (I’m two days worth of word count behind already) I still love this yearly challenge. Which is why I am now going to wrap up this post and get back to my new novel. NaNo participants, ho!

Accountability Tuesdays – Week 27

So here we are, on the first week of the second half of the year. It’s time for another accountability post, and I’ve got a confession to make.

That confession is: I have almost nothing to report.

I have done almost no writing, absolutely no editing, I’ve been eating terrible amounts of junky food, and the only exercise I’ve gotten is chasing the baby around. In fact, I’ve really got pretty much nothing of note to report.

Do you want to know why?

Because I’m home. I’m home for a while, with no threat of leaving again any time in the near future, and I’m enjoying it.

I know I can’t slack off forever, but I’ve been having a blast just being mommy and wife. You want to know what I’ve done this past week?

I arrived home on Wednesday and spent the rest of that day just rolling around with my daughter, enjoying the way she turns into a little barnacle when I come home.

On Friday my husband and I packed the baby into our car and we went shopping. We bought presents for my father and his mother (birthdays coming up), grabbed a stuffed Big Bird and Zoe for the baby (which she became extremely attached to), bought some games and fun stuff for ourselves, and picked up a couple of things that we can put away for the baby’s birthday or Christmas.

The next morning, on Saturday, we drove down home for the niece’s birthday party, where we ate barbecue, Ninja Turtle cupcakes, and ice cream cake while the kids had an absolute blast in the pool.

Sunday we took the baby to the parade for the Festival of the Strait (where she received a ton of candy), then I took her to the recreation grounds where she absolutely lost her mind in a giant Disney Princess bouncy castle with a huge slide inside, and in the evening we took her to the free concert after which she “ooh”ed and “ahh”ed and giggled like a maniac at the fireworks.

And yesterday we recovered by staying inside and relaxing.

Doesn’t that all sound awesome? Because it totally was. And during none of it did I worry about writing, editing, eating well, or exercising. Perhaps I should have…but I didn’t. So you’ll excuse me (I hope) when I tell you that I wrote a grand total of 1010 words in the past week, did not so much as glance at any editing, and probably gained a pound or two worth of ice cream cake.

Sorry, I was busy enjoying LIFE!

girlsswimming
Pictured: Life Being Enjoyed

With that said, I do know that I’ve got to get down to business at some point (even if I have a ton of other things coming up…wedding…visits…more festivals…), and with that in mind I have a few things to mention.

First of all, I’ve gone on a bit of a learning kick. I know that my zombie apocalypse story isn’t the “next great American novel”, and I know that I myself still have a ton to learn about being a good writer, so I’m taking it upon myself to start actually doing the research. I’ve purchased three books to start myself off with:
Kristen Lamb’s Rise of the Machines
Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way
Stephen King’s On Writing

From Kristen I hope to learn how to build a viable author platform (which, a year ago, I didn’t even know was a thing). From Julia I hope to learn some tricks and exercises to make myself a better, more efficient writer. From Stephen…well, I just hope to learn something because I love his writing and in case you haven’t notice, he’s been a wee bit successful.

I’m halfway through Kristen’s book right now, and already learning a lot, so if anyone has any suggestions for some other craft books I might want to read after these three, please feel free to let me know!

The second thing I want to mention is a bit of a vanity thing…upon publishing yesterday’s post I noticed that today would mark my 300th post on this blog. It may not be one of those super-satisfying numbers like 1000, but this is a big deal to me. A few months ago I surpassed a year of doing this blog, and now I can officially say that I’ve written several hundred posts. How awesome is that? Maybe I have a little bit of persistence in me after all!

fireworks

And with that, I bid you adieu for the day. I have a lot of things to do, the least of which is definitely not jumping on my daughter’s bed and helping her cuddle all her Sesame Street characters. Ta!