Guys! Our Book Confessions has just reviewed both Hiding Haelo and Haelo Hunted, the first two books in my Candeon Heirs Series. And I’m so stoked about it! Check it out at the link below.
Source: Part of Your World
Guys! Our Book Confessions has just reviewed both Hiding Haelo and Haelo Hunted, the first two books in my Candeon Heirs Series. And I’m so stoked about it! Check it out at the link below.
Source: Part of Your World
Someone hand me the award. Because I nailed Christmas gifting this year. Totally nailed it.
And I quote … “Mom, you’re the bestest ever! I’m going to keep this FOREVAAAAAHH!”
There was a time when I won a different kind of parenting award. The not-good kind. The I-can’t-believe-you-forgot-the-Easter-Bunny-you-terrible-mother kind. But this? This is legit.
Isn’t reading incredible? I love that this Harry Potter journey has been the catalyst to my children’s desire to learn to read. I now have a voracious reader of a daughter and an up-and-coming preschooler boy who is figuring out so many words already. They want to read. And let me tell you, it takes a special kind of book–one that they’ll always remember–that first inspires young readers. Thank you, JK Rowling.
I took a long break from writing the sequel to my novel, Hiding Haelo, to put together the ultimate Harry Potter lover’s chest. This all started with a little pin I saw on Pinterest of a printable Marauder’s Map. My kids will love that, I thought. My kids are obsessed with Harry Potter. I might have encouraged that obsession, but it’s there nonetheless. Well, that Map started a chain effect, which got waaaay outta control. Next thing I knew, I was spending hours a day for way too many days putting together the ultimate Harry Potter wizard kit for each of my two oldest kids. Nailed it, guys. Nailed it.
They LOVE these.
Included in their Wizard kits are:
Ministry of Magic Identifications
Harry Glasses/Hermione Time-Turner Necklace
Bertie Botts Every Flavor Beans
Hogwarts robes. (Which I’d already made a few months back for Halloween.)
Harry, Hermione, and little Ron-ette. Aren’t they cute!? Look at those faces.
Or this one. Look at this face.
I mean, come on.
So they have everything they need to play wizard. Except, well, magic.
(I came *this* close to sewing invisibility cloaks.)
Disclaimer: I have a printer, a sewing machine, a hot glue gun, epoxy, and a laminator (okay, my mom has the laminator). A good friend of mine already had the chocolate frog mold, too. I had leftover faux leather from when I cut a leather topper kid-shield for my freshly-stained kitchen table. I also already had off-white cardstock, embroidery thread, gold sewing thread, small glittery ornaments, wire ribbon, chopsticks, spare composition notebooks, wood stain, modpodge, an old leather studded purse, neodymium magnets, Hershey bars (we’re a s’more family) and those little plastic treat bags. The Hogwarts robes, Harry glasses and Hermione necklace we already had from Halloween.
So really, I only had to buy the paperweight “sorcerer’s stones,” the hinged boxes, the photo prints for the encyclopedias (in which I used a 50% off coupon code), photo albums from the dollar store, Bean-Boozled jelly beans, glitter scrapbook foam, and “quills.” The biggest expense by far was when my printer ran out of ink. Because our $30 printer uses $45 ink. Seriously.
So, yes, these kits were relatively inexpensive … for me and my stocked crafting horde. If you had to buy everything from scratch it could get pretty pricey.
Expense aside… the time put into these was so far beyond reasonable. The encyclopedia alone took me like 5 days of go-to-bed-at-three-in-the-morning. But lucky you, I did it already! So if you want to make these, you just have to print! Go ahead and click on each item to get to the good stuff.
Someone pat me on the back.
After I’d put the whole thing together, I placed the quills (in their packaging) at the bottom of a big box (because they don’t fit in the treasure chests), then placed the chests on top. Then I added the wrapped Funko Pop characters they asked for for Christmas (Quidditch Harry, Sirius Black, Dumbledore, Hagrid, Hermione, and Luna Lovegood) and threw in their Halloween Hogwarts robes to keep all the boxes from shifting around.
Harry Potter FTW. SuperMom FTW.
P.S. Did I mention that a stuffed Hedwig, and a super awesome Firebolt broom might have also been Christmas presents this year? Nailed it. I totally nailed it.
Reading is awesome. My daughter couldn’t read when we started this journey. She had little interest. Now she’s a voracious reader. She got a few different beginner chapter books for christmas from different people and she’s been plowing through them. I’m sure you have those *certain* books from your own childhood that inspired your reading. Yay for that.
Today’s trending twitter hashtag (at least on my feed): #firstsevenjobs
I’ve never been a pig farmer. Or an arborist. Or a ninja spy. My job history has been a little more . . . unremarkable.
Now, I’m a writer. (AKA: stretchy pants wearing crazy lady). But guess what, that means I get to take that list and turn my unremarkable job history into a feast for the senses!
*Side note: LONG POST. If you don’t care, don’t read. Scrollllllll to the next post about the time I forgot Easter and confused my children. Maybe someday my kids will forgive that day and read this.
READY, SET, GO!
Diapers, dog poop, clogged and overflowing toilets. A kid’s pet lizard pooped in my hand once. Then there was the time I was changing a diaper on a kid much too old for diapers and he sharted. On me. That was super fun. Mac n’ cheese will never be the same. Especially after the time I thought I added butter, but it was deceptively packaged Crisco. I’d never felt so judged, and by an 11 year old, no less. There was also the time I locked myself in a bathroom because a 9 year old was coming at me with a knife. He says he was joking. I sure as hell wasn’t sure.
But there were also giggles. And sweet forts. And preschooler dance parties (the best kind of dance party). There were theatrical productions from the dining room stage and borderline inappropriate hilarious I-know-you-are-but-what-am-I battles. And art projects. Lots of art projects.
I did medical transcription at a Physical therapy office. Too many opinionated females in a small space (the front office). Drama, Drama, Drama. I focused on my job: old head-set, dictation pedal at my foot, listening to the stereo sounds of therapists rattling of strange medical terms in long sentences that they’re so used to rattling off it all sounds like one big long 37 syllable word. But I took anatomy that semester and figured it out. It was easier than figuring out the three ladies in the desks behind me. Don’t get me wrong, I liked each of them very much. Individually.
The biggest obstacle to getting those audio transcriptions typed out was the fact that the owner (and lead therapist, also a family friend) dictated during his lunch break. I got a lot of apple crunching sounds in there.
For some reason, when I think back on that job, the thing I remember the most was a pair of shoes I wore for just one day. They were made of either foam or wood pulp, I couldn’t really tell. I know that makes no sense at all, but that’s why it was so flabbergasting. What is this material!?
But that was high school, and I got depressed. That was my dark period. And I quit. Even though it wasn’t the job that was making me depressed.
Then, my longest standing job, which I come back to frequently ad still do to this day. Piano teacher. Teaching kids a skill that I hold near and dear to my heart helped pull me from depression. How can you be depressed when a perfectly innocent second grader finally gets that measure and pops up to you with the biggest smile, beaming with pride? You can’t. Joy is infectious. I did that through high school and into college. Highest per hour pay school gig out there, ladies and gentlemen.
I married my best friend (the man of my every dream), and sugar-momma’d our way through another year of college with nearly 40 students on my plate. But that didn’t last long. Because the best adventure ever happened.
The hubs got recruited to play basketball at BYU-Hawai’i. Hawai’i!! Who goes to college in Hawai’i!?
(There was the one day I worked as an elementary school aide, but it only lasted a day. So I’m not going to count that. Even though I still get a letter every year from the State of Hawai’i informing me of the $1.42 I earned towards retirement.)
My first Hawai’i campus job was as the Administrative Assistant to the Computer and Information Sciences department. Those guys were cool. Super weird, but cool. I had to figure out how to communicate with computer nerds. And accounting. Because the main secretary over the entire “Business and Computing” college apparently wasn’t detailed enough in her budget reports. We both rolled our eyes over that one. No, no, the computer guys wanted details. From every angle. I became intimate with Excel. But at least I had my own office with a plaque at the door.
One professor had canned refried beans every day for lunch. (I’m implying something here for you, dear readers.) At least his office was down the hall a little ways. Man, those guys were quirky. But endearing. I wanted to pull my hair out on a weekly basis, but I loved ’em.
The university was making huge changes. Business and Computing got a little too political for me. So, I transferred to the Fine Arts department; I was a music major after all. I mean, this was my chance to work for my professors! Oh the things I could learn! Oh the brownie points I could earn!
When their head secretary found out I’d been doing the computer nerds’ budget, she about cried. It was her least favorite part of the job. I’m a perfectionist and I saw the Fine Art’s budget disaster and just couldn’t say no. So instead of taking it easy at a quiet front desk a few hours a week, I was back to accounting.
I’d been intimate with Excel before, but now I was reprogramming that thing into submission. I dominated Excel. And a few of my professors might have hated me for it. “Professor So-And-So? That such-and-such you need for the studio? Well, um, you don’t exactly have the money for it. Maybe you could ask for a transfer of travel funds into your supply fund? But you’d have to adjust your upcoming trip.” I mean, I was a super obnoxious student getting waaay in the way. “Just doin’ what I’m told.”
Me: “Don’t forget I need all of your receipts!”
Every professor in the department: “I can’t find it.”
Me: “… I’m going to need you to fill out this form…”
Super fun, guys. I was every professor’s dream. Wah-waaahhh.
But that was the first year in over a decade they actually knew how much money they’d spent before the next year’s audit. So there’s that.
Because of my course of study, there was one particular music professor I’d had for most of my music classes. Dr. B. And he was awesome. And just my luck, he needed a T.A. My job got better after that. And I was back to teaching music, which I missed desperately. (Teaching music … grading assignments … okay, lots of making copies, but it was a break from budget!! And I got to tutor!)
One day, while working on a piece for Dr. B.’s composition class, I just couldn’t concentrate. I daydreamed my way into procrastinating that composition and instead typed out the beginning of a little story about a high school girl with incredible, magical underwater abilities. I took a creative writing elective the next semester and worked on it some more.
The hubs and I had our first daughter, we both graduated, and sadly, had to leave. As much as we’d missed our families back on the mainland, we both weren’t ready to say Aloha to the island.
Back on the mainland, I was a new mom times two and a grad student. But I got back into teaching piano. There was the time a student of mine (after finding out I was pregnant) creepily told me, “Wait, wait, wait . . . you did it? The S-sssssss word?” I’m pretty sure he had Asbergers. It was a very interesting, delicate conversation.
I went through a few more dark periods. One with each pregnancy. But that’s a conversation for another day. And I’m a stronger woman because of it.
It was 9:30 pm and I had a big paper due at midnight for my master’s program. But I really didn’t want to write it. Like, really. I noticed an icon on my desktop for that mermaid-ish story I’d worked on in college. I pulled “Haelo.docx” up instead. Because, you know, priorities.
At 11:00pm, I forced myself to shut down my creative pursuits, and got back to work on that stupid grad paper. I think I got it submitted at 11:58pm. It wasn’t very polished, but it got an A. Haelo got a lot more attention after that. Though I did graduate with honors, I’m pretty sure I had candeons on my mind for most of that Public Administration degree.
After graduation, I decided to step lightly into the local political world. I had a goal of becoming a political advisor or speech writer for a senator or diplomat, but knew that was years down the road. I somehow ended up as a non-profit lobbying Director. I still don’t know how that happened. I was sitting, rather quietly, at a Christmas brunch for the organization, minding my own business, sitting in awe of these incredible women, and walked away with an invitation to take over a particular chapter. They didn’t know me from Adam. I think they were crazy. Or desperate. It took me a few months to accept.
I wasn’t ready for that post. Technically, I think I’m still in that post, because my attempts at passing the torch haven’t been successful. I can’t say no. I really need to work on that. But I don’t trust myself to not roll my eyes in a very inconvenient moment at an important meeting one day. Even state Congressmen and women I’m supposed to support have jaded me. There’s a lot of crap in politics. Speech writing would be fun. Dealing with multiple politicians at once is not fun. Ever.
I’m surprisingly diplomatic. Very careful with my words. But a little voice in my head is starting to get feisty, and I’ve got to get out.
My sister recently wrangled me into starting a community orchestra. This is the absolute funnest job I’ve had. The music is a blast, the musicians are fun, and they laugh at my jokes. It feels like a huge jam session mixed with dancing, because you can’t direct some of those pieces without a little bit of dancing. It’s just too fun. At the same time, I’m a thrifty tight-wad and can’t afford huge symphonic sets of sheet music. So I buy the parts for strings and arranged the parts for brass and woodwinds myself. It’s stressful, and takes up time I don’t really have, but it’s keeping my composition skills from wasting away into “something I used to know how to do.”
We’re currently working on an Appalachian backstep, a Lady Gaga jam, a bit o’ Disney, the get-up-and-shout “I Will Follow Him” from Sister Act, Debussy (Satie’s Gymnopedies), and . . . The. Tango. <– the funnest thing I’ve ever jammed on in my life, and that includes my time in a hella-awesome Caribbean steel pan band. (Youtube video)
And the best part is that I don’t feel like a poser admitting that! It is an incredible creative outlet for a busy mother of three. That little story I started in college, worked on as a grad student, and finished in whatever meager spare time I had inbetween potty-training, dinners, and church service, is PUBLISHED! And I want to scream into a pillow at how good that feels!
A milestone! After so many nights of feeling exhausted. So many mornings waking up knowing I was farther behind than I was the day before. Too much, too many, too little, too late. But then, I remember my favorite quote.
Life is funny sometimes. I’m going to look back on this post ten years from now, with more jobs added to the list, and smile. I have no idea where life is taking me. But I’ve got a best friend / husband / co-parent dreamboat at my side, three incredible kids, a strong spiritual foundation, and just enough gumption to march forward with a wink.
Guys. We IOU’d Easter.
It’s a long story, but the point is this . . . we forgot about the Easter Bunny.
I was laying in bed Easter morning, thinking what a beautiful, wonderful day it was, pondering peaceful thoughts of my Savior, when the hubs and I heard our son burst forth from his bedroom proclaiming to the world, “IT’S EASTER!! WE’RE GOING TO DYE EGGS! YAY!! (SISTER), WAKE UP AND LET’S FIND OUR EASTER BASKETS!!”
I’d be lying if I said my thoughts of heavenly things didn’t go south quickly with a swear word or two.
We forgot. Completely.
There were no hidden eggs. There were no baskets. I didn’t even have any eggs.
I kid you not, the kids searched everywhere. It would be hilarious if it wasn’t so . . . not hilarious.
I ran to the laundry room and drew up a note from ol’ E. Bunny that said, “Your door was locked! I’ll come back tomorrow!” which the hubs taped to the back of the house while I was helping confused children get ready for church.
Seriously. We IOU’d Easter Bunny.
It gets worse. How do you put together Easter baskets when you observe the Sabbath day? Without going to a store? I’ll just let you ponder that one for a minute or two.
In the end, it worked out. Our children are not traumatized. Mostly.
Are you ready for the kicker? The punchline of all punchlines?
A few days later, we forgot the tooth fairy.
I can’t move my legs.
No, that’s not it.
My legs are moving all by themselves.
As in, they’re shaking.
I can’t pee because I’m terrified I won’t be able to get up off the toilet. Nick’s going to come home to wild children and find me stuck on the porcelain throne.
Leg day just kicked my butt.
Once upon a time, I was fit.
In fact, I worked out with a trainer 3 days a week, not including the other 2 or 3 days I spent at the gym with the hubs or by myself. I was strong. I was toned. I could do cardio without fainting. I had a goal: get super fit and super strong so the next time I got pregnant, I’d last longer before my muscles and stamina atrophied away.
Best shape of my life.
Flash-forward 14 months: I’ve got an adorable, perfect baby, and the body of a limp sea cucumber.
I mean, it’s not Jabba the Hut over here, but there’s definitely more squish than there was before. My pencil skirts are riding a lot higher.
So, I’ve been taking my kiddos to the park a few days a week to exercise with another neighborhood mom. She’s awesome. I’m pathetic.
Today, four of us mothers worked out, one of which is a fitness instructor at local gyms and brought a game plan. A leg game plan.
I still remember the feeling when it was all over and I looked at my baby in the car seat and realized I still had to haul her up the hill to the car.
Somebody call my husband and warn him not to expect dinner tonight. I’d call but my phone’s across the room. Let’s hope there’s no zombie apocalypse in the near future. I’d be a goner.
Tomorrow is going to be worse. I can’t wait.
Remember the aforementioned pencil skirts? Or those jeans I’m trying to wear sans muffin-top? Meh.
the moaning noodle stuck to the couch.
It’s high time I stopped succumbing to the Pinterest fantasy.
See, I saw this lovely pin from The Nerd’s Wife:
“I’ve got to get my kids’ valentines done!” I said.
“Hey! I’ve got a heart shaped ice cube tray!” I said.
“I’ve got crap-loads of broken crayons lying around here somewhere!” I said.
“I can do that!” I said.
Well mine looked like crap. Aaaand I ruined my tray. Aaaand it was a pretty silicon one. Aaaaand I probably left them in the oven way too long because the colors blended super weird with a film of waxy/oil almost-color across the top.
So instead, I bought my son the cheap Star Wars valentines at the grocery store like he wanted from the beginning. No candy. No super cute quote. No not-candy-but-look-at-this-cool-item-because-I’m-a-really-on-the-ball-mom pun thing. Just a small piece of holographic cardstock. And my son LOVED IT.
But my daughter, who’s been through this song and dance before, straight up ASKED me to look at Pinterest. “Pentrist?” she said, with a hopeful smile. They get ’em young, I’m tellin ya.
So, I found this awesome Pinterest gem, thinking “no oven, no hot glue gun, no photoshop, no selling my soul to the craft store gods . . . and I get to be ‘the healthy mom.’ I can do this.”
I didn’t think this one through.
I printed that printable on hot pink paper, cut them out by hand (because who has the “circle cutter” mentioned in the post?) and taped those babies to my dollar store applesauce all within an hour the night before the kindergarten valentine’s party. I felt awesome. Correction: awesome sauce. Everything was going according to plan.
Until morning arrived.
Do you know how much 28 applesauce cups weigh?
It’s a lot. Like, too much for a forty pound kindergartner.
When my daughter’s carpool ride arrived, I had to walk out, help her load the bag of cups into my neighbor’s van, and mumble some weird apology/joke about how I was making my daughter lug half her body weight around in a new-baby gift bag.
She came home and told me that her friend had to help her haul the valentines across campus into class.
Good job, mom.
It wasn’t until later that day, as my daughter and son were going through all of the valentines they’d gotten from friends that I realized something else. We never put her name on her valentines.
So now, I don’t even get the credit for being the healthy mom. What’s the point of being the healthy mom if I don’t get the credit! Oh, not the point, riiiight.
Verdict: Holographic cardstock valentines for the win.
But we ended Valentine’s day with a lovely family BBQ, drawing with chalk on the back porch, watching the sun set. I love my Valentines. All four of them.
Did I mention my husband painted my portrait? And nope, he didn’t have help.
He said the wet smudges at the bottom are “cloud nine.” Because I’m floating.
Until next time,
p.s. There was a third FAIL, but it involved a compromising chalk drawing of yoda, darth vader, and obi wan kanobi in a fight. It was on accident, but my brother keeps bringing up “schwartz” Spaceballs jokes…
Yesterday the hubs and I went to kindergarten parent teacher conference for our daughter. I wish I could make some funny comment about how we were dreading it, but I’d be lying. I wasn’t dreading it. My daughter is awesome. And I’ve got the perfect story to illustrate why.
Her teachers are amazing. (She’s got two – one mostly for English, reading, art, & kindergarten “social studies,” and one mostly for Spanish, science, & math. Spanish Dual Immersion kindergarten is so cool!) And they “get” her. They love her! They were oh so sincerely rantin’ and ravin’ about her. We ate it up.
Even the hubs got misty eyed when one of her teachers spoke about her character. And dang, my girl is smart. I couldn’t be more proud!
Both teachers told us stories about her that made us giggle and beam. But my favorite story about her was one I experienced myself.
Usually when Reese gets home from school, I “casually” ask lots of “nonchalant” questions. Who did you play with at recess? What did you play? Who did you sit by at lunch? Did you see anyone who didn’t have friends to play with today? What did you do? Did anything make you sad? Did anything make you nervous? Did anything make you laugh?
I’ve gotten lots of different responses, and then one afternoon, this conversational gem:
Me: “So who did you play with at recess today?”
(Daughter) R: “In the morning I played with *Jessie. But I didn’t play with her for the recess after lunch.”
Me: “Oh. Did something happen?”
R, with no indication of sadness: “She just didn’t want to play with me.”
Me, trying to hide my ruffled feathers: “What were you playing?”
R: “We were playing tag and Jessie didn’t want to play after lunch.”
Me, hesitantly relieved: “Oh, she was probably too hot to play tag. It’s really hot out there, huh?”
R: “No, mom. She said that tag is for babies.”
Me, eyes bulging, mouth pinched, secretly thinking WHO IN THE WORLD IS THIS JESSIE GIRL AND WHERE DOES THE LITTLE BOOGER LIVE!?: “Oh.”
R, with gleaming, glittering eyes and a stinking confident smile: “But mom, (shakes her head like an adult), babies can’t run.”
Babies can’t run, people. And tag, well, tag is no baby game.
You go, girl. You go to the moon and back.
Love, your mom.
*name changed to protect the friggin’ guilty.