Friday, February 28, 2014

Foreign Service Fridays: Going Home

Today on Most Eligible Family, I write a little about the concept of "home" and what it means to those of us drifting all over the world. Also, happy birthday to my triplet siblings Sarah and Aaron today! Eight and a half is gonna be a great year!

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Writing Wednesdays: Yes, I'm Still Writing

Ironically, this started as a writing blog. I didn't ever intend to write a mommy blog or a crafting blog or a travel blog; it was supposed to be about my journey as a writer. Unfortunately, while that journey continues, it hasn't exactly been successful so far, and I decided a long time ago not to blog about all my failures. Besides, as long as I keep going, I haven't really failed, right?

I finished one novel last year which I've only queried lightly. I've had a few requests but not as many as I would have liked, so I decided to put that project on hold while I finished what I've been calling "the Russia book" for nearly two years now (Remember this post?). I got the idea for this novel right after we found out we were moving to Russia, and I wrote the first few chapters before we got there, but once I actually experienced Russian culture firsthand, I knew I needed to spend some time there before I could do the novel justice. Having lived there for more than a year, I finally felt ready to write it. And Baby #2 was just the deadline I needed.

So, the other day, I wrote "The End" for the eighth time. I don't know if this book will be "the one." I queried my first few novels enthusiastically, allowing myself to imagine the possibilities every time I got a request (and there have been quite a few all things considered). But I no longer see publication as an inevitability. It's still my goal, but I don't know if I'll ever get there. I believe I'm a good writer with good ideas, but I have absolutely terrible timing, and I don't have the willpower to query as widely as I might need to (60 has sort of been my limit, and for the last two novels I've only sent out about a dozen queries each). For now, my only goal is to make this manuscript as good as it can be before Baby arrives in approximately eight weeks. After that, I guess I'll just have to wait and see.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Mommy Mondays: This is the Part Where I Freak Out

This is my last full week in Montana, and I have to admit, I'm starting to freak out a little. Not because I don't want to get to DC and see my husband and all my friends, but because once I do get there I have SO MUCH TO DO! You know, little things like find, move into, and furnish a house; buy a car; have a baby, etc. That last part in particular is starting to freak me out. You'd think, what with this being my second kid and all, I'd sort of know what to expect, but I also feel completely unprepared. It's hard to envision having a baby when I don't know where it's going to sleep after we get home from the hospital, or even what we'll be driving to the hospital in. And to be perfectly honesty, I'm not that excited about the whole "giving birth" side of things. This may be hard to believe, but I'm really not someone who does well with unpredictability. Or pain, for that matter.

I KNOW everything will work out - it always does. But getting from A to B is the scary part for me. I'm sure the fact that I'm almost 32 weeks pregnant doesn't help; I've been pretty even-keeled throughout this pregnancy, but I'm going to blame the recent crying jags on hormones. I did have a really great weekend visiting my friend Jaime and her family in Bozeman, and that helped me calm down a little bit. But then I got back to my parents' house and realized how much packing I have to do, not to mention finishing a novel and the usual taking care of the four-year-old, and the freaking-out resumed. The good news is John gets back to DC a few days before I do, so at least I'll have someone to meet me at the airport and help me transport all our crap to our temporary digs. And flying to DC from Montana is a lot better than flying there from Russia, so there's that.

But, for now, I'm just letting you all know that this is the part where I freak out.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Things I Love Thursdays: Ferm Living

Sorry I've been so absent of late. The days are just getting away from me here in my last few weeks in Montana. Between trying to finish a novel in whatever spare time I can scrounge up and being sick (AGAIN!), and of course taking care of the little nugget, blogging has sort of taken a back seat. But I'm still here, I swear!

In fact, part of the blame for my blogging absence can be placed squarely on Ferm Living. This website has the cutest baby stuff EVER, and since most of it is out of my price range or unavailable in the U.S., I've been doing my best to make homemade versions of some of my favorite things. Of course I can't come anywhere near the quality of their products, but this mobile helped inspire the one I made for Baby Boy #2 (due in just 9 weeks - eeek!).

I'm obsessed with the color scheme...

So I adopted it!

This bunting will go along the top when I assemble the thing.

I've also been obsessed with this fox pillow for ages, and maybe I'll splurge and buy it once I actually have a nursery to put this stuff in.

Ferm Living also has a ton of really great stuff for grown-up rooms too, and remarkably you can buy some of there pillows and housewares on Amazon. Worth checking out, if you ask me (and if you don't have eight million other things you should be doing instead).

Monday, February 10, 2014

Mommy Mondays: Independence Day

For the past few days, Jack has really started to assert his independence. Yesterday he insisted on not only dressing himself, but also brushing his own teeth and hair. I was actually ordered to get out of "his" bathroom (the bathroom we share) so he could perform these chores all on his own.

Jack shows off his fetching ensemble.

On the one hand, this is kind of awesome. Jack's sartorial tastes are really emerging (I'm a big fan of the train sweater vest myself, although considering we didn't actually leave the house yesterday, it was perhaps a bit much), and it means one less thing for me to do. Since I can no longer reach my own feet, having an extra set of functioning hands around is pretty sweet when I'm trying to do things like fold laundry - Jack "helps" by retrieving socks from the floor. This is more helpful than you can imagine (unless you've been pregnant before, in which case, you feel me).

On the other hand, "independence" in a four-year-old isn't always desirable, especially if you're a control freak like me. For example, did he really brush his teeth, or did he just suck the toothpaste off the toothbrush and call it a day? After a recent trip to the dentist, in which I was informed my child should be flossing every night, I feel like I might need to supervise his dental hygiene just a bit longer. And it was a good thing we didn't go out yesterday, because Jack's hairdo was reminiscent of a Great Horned Owl. Preschoolers tend to do things halfway and then act like they've just climbed Kilimanjaro. For example, does is it really count as going to the bathroom by yourself if you can't wipe your own ass? I'm not so sure.

Still, I feel like all this independence is coming at a good time, because in a couple of months, I won't just be responsible for ONE unruly little boy. When the baby arrives, I'm hoping to put Jack's new-found autonomy to good use for things like bottle-fetching and diaper-wrangling. He's already decided that he's going to lug the baby around in the carrier and that my new diaper bag belongs to him. In fact, I'm starting to wonder just how far I can push this independence thing. Is it really such a stretch to have Jack pick up a gallon of milk on his trike? Ask him to whip up dinner every now and again? Have him bathe the baby while I kick back with a bottle of Chardonnay? I kid, I kid. I'd only drink a glass or two. Someone's got to drive if there's an emergency, and Jack's feet don't quite reach the pedals yet.

In all seriousness, I think I'm the one who needs to be reminded just how much my kid is capable of doing for himself. As parents, it's sometimes easier (and certainly more efficient) to do everything ourselves. But as messy as our children's independence might be at times, with it comes a glimmer of hope, the promise of something far greater than we may yet dare to dream of: the day when we no longer have to wipe someone else's ass.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Things I Love Thursdays: Author Tana French

These days, most of my reading consists of young adult and the occasional Stephen King or Neil Gaiman. If it weren't for my mom, I most likely wouldn't have read In the Woods, the debut novel by author Tana French, which earned the Edgar, Anthony, Macavity, and Barry awards for best first novel. In the Woods was followed by The Likeness, Faithful Place, and Broken Harbor, all part of a mystery series revolving around a group of detectives on the Dublin murder squad. Each novel is told from the point of view of a different detective who factors into the previous novel in some way.

The appropriately creepy cover of In The Woods.

I'm reading Broken Harbor right now, and it's one of those books that keep you up at night (which is bad only because I'm sleeping terribly these days anyway). My favorite in the series was The Likeness, probably because it had a female protagonist and had a slight paranormal feel to it (even though it's not paranormal at all).

You don't need to be a fan of detective novels to read these books. You just need to like books that are incredibly well written, involve realistic, multi-layered characters, and keep you guessing all the way to the end. And I'm pretty sure that's everyone.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Mommy Mondays: The Second Time Around

Last August, when I first found out I was pregnant, I was really excited to write about my experience. I didn't blog during my pregnancy with Jack and I figured it would make for some fun, and funny, posts.  Of course, I couldn't talk about it for the first few months, and then I was traveling constantly and didn't have much time to write. When we found out we were having another boy, I had a lot of mixed feelings toward the pregnancy and wasn't really in a place to write about it. And now, here I am at almost 29 weeks, with less than three months to go!

Pregnancy the second time around has been very different, both from what I experienced with Jack and what I was expecting. For starters, being pregnant when you already have a kid changes EVERYTHING. I can't even imagine being pregnant with number three or four, especially if you have really young kids. I remember being exhausted when I was pregnant with Jack, and coming home from work and collapsing on the couch for a nap. Now, there simply isn't the time or opportunity to nap. I'm much too busy running around after a four-year-old for that nonsense. Any free time I do have (like when Jack is in school), I'm writing, because I know full well I won't be doing that for a while after this baby is born.

I also feel huge this time, which is probably because my poor abs gave up even trying to suck this belly in pretty quickly. I'm still measuring two or three weeks behind (even though the baby's growth is right on track) because I'm a small person in general, but I feel big and cumbersome and out of shape. I can't get comfortable at night, so sleep is elusive, and the thing about the second pregnancy is you know exactly what you're getting into (meaning I know I won't be sleeping well again for a long time!). During my last pregnancy, we moved when I was about seven months pregnant, which wasn't ideal, but at least then I got to nest like crazy. Jack's nursery was ready to roll long before he was. Right now, I don't even know where I'll be living when the baby is born, and that's causing me extra anxiety. If I end up on bed rest for six weeks like I did last time, I'm not sure how I'll get everything ready in time, let alone watch the kid I already have!

And then there are moments like the one I just had, where Jack sticks a freaking pea so far up his nostril I can't even see it, and I think, "How on earth am I going to do this with TWO of them?!"


Today I had an ultrasound. It was the first time I got to do a 3D ultrasound, and I'll be honest, I usually think they're kinda weird looking. But when it's your baby (just like when it's your wrinkly, pink, baggy-kneed newborn), they don't really look so weird. In fact, they're pretty darn cute. Especially when they look a lot like their big brother, who is also pretty darn cute (when he's not sticking peas up his nose).

We didn't get a great shot, because the baby had his hand AND his umbilical cord in front of his face, but I reckon if I think he's cute when he's only three-quarters baked, it's a good sign for the future. And I'm pretty sure that meeting this baby will be just as amazing as meeting Jack, even if it is the second time around.