Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Market For Ya: Traveling Mamas

Traveling Mamas Anthology

TravelingMamas.com is in search of true uplifting, funny, inspirational, and touching stories with a travel theme for an upcoming anthology series. Possible themes may include family travel, romantic escapes, girlfriend getaways, and solo trips.

We’re looking for stories that inspire us, force us to laugh out loud or make us reach for the tissue box. Bring us into your story by using the five senses. Every story must have a beginning, middle, and end.
Now this is the type of anthology that I need to contribute to! Or, wait, what's the proper grammar... this is the type of anthology in which I should contribute... no, wait, that's passive... I should contribute to this anthology. Perfect!

My daughter, the little traveler, was on 20 different flights before she was 14 months old. She was a dream, quiet, mellow...

But what happened to my quiet little one? She is not so quiet any more... she's in that 'almost 2' stage where it all must be picked up, thrown, tasted, yelled at, bitten, chewed, spit out and sung at.
I think my favourite thing right now is how she calls stars "uppas". You know, like "uppa bove the world so high...." She can see an uppa from a mile away too... we'll be calmly walking along and she'll scream "UPPA!!!" like All Must Stop Now and Behold The Uppa!
M used to say "slookit"... "Slookit that mama!"
I need to keep writing these things down before I forget them.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Cross-post: What happens after you get the contract

Over at Mama Needs A Book Contract!

And then? I'll have your babies.

As part of the regular spring ritual, I signed up the boychild for soccer and t-ball. He likes both. This will be year three of soccer (meaning he can actually run with his head up about half the time) and year two of t-ball. We're not 100% sold on t-ball but we had fun last year.

Every time we sign up there's the "where would you like to volunteer" section. The crafty little buggers don't ask IF you want to volunteer, but WHERE. So I usually choose something like communication or assistant-manager, figuring that I can step in somewhere if needed.

But this year I got an email from both t-ball and soccer mucky-mucks with the "hey, you volunteered to coach" line. Um. No I did not. Not even close. I cannot picture me and a toddler trying to coach anything while Major Man is still working nights.

(Which he won't be doing any more because he got THE JOB!! But I digress...)

So I kind of ignored those emails... and then the t-ball guy contacted me again. He was wondering if I'd could do the division coordinator position. I asked what the duties were.

Let me pause here to say: Never trust anyone who begins an answer with "Oh, it's just..."

The duties sounded simple enough, communicate stuff with coaches. Cool.

Then the email went out to all coaches and it soundes something like "and if you need this, email Heather. And if you need that, email Heather. And if you need a pink orangutan in a tutu with red nail polish, email Heather. And here's every phone number and email address she has. Amen."


It's day one of 'coordinating' and I have already realized I need to take the t-ball schedule to and from work on a little memory stick so I can reference the games and practices when the coaches email me... sigh.

But the boychild is sure to have fun. I just have to remember that soccer and t-ball are fun, hopefully my head doesn't spin around when we're running ten minutes behind and the baby is tired and hungry and it's a little cold and it's been a long day and I just want to sleep...

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Love Thursday is Enough

So many things to love this Thursday!

Grey's Anatomy is back! My week is complete!

Found out today that next week Hubby goes to pick up "pre-course material" from the job-that-isn't-yet-officially-his-yet-but-why-else-would-they-enroll-him-in-the-training-class-job.

The baby slept for six straight hours last night. She's finally getting over her sickness. No one puked last night either. Woot!

Granny is better. She's happy. She's awake. She's excited to still be here and I'm happy too.

I already love my new editor because she was awesome on the phone today. I think she's used to more... sensitive... writers, but she has me loving the editing process already. AND she said they were very happy with the photography I did! YAY! I can now justify the dollars I spent on camera equipment.

Desperate Housewives and LOST and ER and Grey's Anatomy and Brother's and Sisters were ALL NEW this week. It's like a trifecta, no a ... what's five? A quintecta. A pentatecta. Five perfect hours of TV watching where all I had to think about was "why does Christiana have 'intestines in hand!' and will Luka leave Abby? and who is the father and I can't believe Ben denied his daughter!"

My new credit card has a 1.9% balance transfer rate until October. Take that stupid mastercard that won't lower its interest rate.

There is almost nothing that can't be cured by LOLCats.

I have been going to the gym and feeling it - this is good. This is progress.

I have enough. Enough love. Enough time. Enough people. Enough.

My Glamorous Fashonista Life

Yep. That's right. it's glamorous all right... I thought you might like to see what I'm wearing around the house today:

Yes, those are Socks With Crocs. The First Great Mortal Fashion Sin. You'll notice I'm also committing Sin Number Two with rolled up pant legs because the pants are too long.

I need Tim Gunn, that's all I can say.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Update: They Called....

... to let him know that they couldn't get ahold of one of his references.

They are checking references! This is a good sign!

Woot! Woot!

Video Tuesday?

I've been surfing around today (because I'm at home, being puked upon and wiping snot and babies are entertained by videos) and I've found several videos I must share.

First one is from Joshilyn and it's pure heartwarming lovey for the human raceness really made my day. I dare you to watch it without being heartwarmed.

FYI, Joshilyn's new book is getting awesome reviews.

The second one made me giggle. It's from Dooce (Heather Armstrong) and seriously, if you can maintain a straight face all the way through (especially at 24 seconds in) then you must be dead inside:

So, does anyone have any videos to share?

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Tips for living on a variable income

Wow, I can't believe I have survived financially without reading Gail Vaz-Oxlade's blog! She's the smarty mc smarterton behind "Til Debt Do Us Part".

Yesterday she offered this gem on her site:

Very important for those of us living on freelancing income. Now, you of course know that I have a Real Life Job, but I used to budget for a specific amount of freelance income and when I started writing fewer articles and focusing on books... the regular income dropped, but the spending level did not. Hence our new passion for being Frugal! and Clipping Coupons! and Sometimes Being Cheap!

Springtime in Alberta

So this is what springtime in Alberta is like. Earlier this week I was wearing a skirt and a tank top. M was learning to ride his bike without training wheels. We were kicking the ball around and you could smell the old grass as the afternoon sun baked it. This is why I haven't put the winter boots away yet!


Hey, I'm profiled (in a good way!) over at Maternal Spark. Check it out!

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

The Debt Countdown

Hubby and I have started the big climb out of debt. Well, not that big, but big enough. Posted on the back of our front door is the Big Honking Debt Number which, thankfully, is less than a yearly salary. ;0)

I'm gathering up tools to help me on this crusade to be debt-free and one of those tools is a blog by Gail Vaz-Oxlade. She's a Canadian finance guru and she could totally kick Suze Orman's butte. Or butt even. (I give up correcting my own spelling sometimes and figure laughing at my misspellings is much more fun.)

Have you ever taken a good hard look at your money and what you spend? I have. Just this week. Since I was handing over the financial reins to hubby I had to pull some knowledge out of my brain and on to paper so I could tell him things like regular withdrawls from the bank account, regular debits to the credit card... etc... But the problem is that it's stored up in random files in my brain.

The credit card statement came in and oh lookie there's a charge to The Biggest Loser Club because I'd forgotten to cancel my 'free except you have to give us your credit card but don't worry, you'll remember to cancel the free' web subscription.

And, oh my, I bought some music online. Luckily I could say it was for the kids (Crazy Frog) and not a the latest Britney Spears album or that Greatest Drum Corps Hits that I almost bought a couple weeks ago. (I iz band gek)

I think the best tool I found was Gail's Interactive Budget Workbook. Fill in all your expenses and it will tell you exactly how much over budget you are. She'll also give you some guidelines for where you should be.... what percentage of your income is going towards housing and what percentage is safe.

So the countdown is on. I think we can do it in about a year.

Of course.. that's if "PLAN #1" works out... more on that in... ten days. I promise. And if Plan #1 doesn't pan out.... we'll be moving on to Plan #2. (Which is not my favourite plan, let's just say that.) Wow, could I BE more cryptic?

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Lonely Planet writer "supplements" income

Well, guess I won't be buying any Lonely Planet titles anytime soon!

The gist of the story is this: the guy said they didn't pay him enough so he didn't actually visit the countries he wrote the travel guides about and he supplemented his income by dealing drugs.


But it gets better. Then he has the absolute gall to pitch his book:

Kohnstamm's book, "Do Travel Writers Go to Hell?: A Swashbuckling Tale of High Adventures, Questionable Ethics and Professional Hedonism," is set for release next week.

Uh, so if you have questionable ethics... why am I going to pay you more money? Because this time you're telling the truth. Thanks. I'll pass.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Thought for the Day

Givers have to set limits because takers rarely do.
-- Irma Kurtz, Cosmopolitan Magazine, September 2003

This struck me as really profound this weekend. It's the weekend of the financial reckoning. The weekend where I hand the reins over to my husband.

Part of me feels very 1950s Housewifeish. I'm not the one in control. But part of me welcomes this change. Major Man isn't shutting me out of the budget decisions, he's just the one doing the footwork. Our budget is posted on the door, as is our current debt load.

It's been eyeopening. For me and for Major Man. I don't think he realized the situation or why I was freaking out two months ago because I knew that the day was coming where we'd run out of credit.

It's not THAT bad, please don't think we're a hundred grand it debt or anything. But we have a credit card, a line of credit, a truck loan and high rent. We're the working poor it seems.

But not for long. Because we are not IN debt, we are climbing out of it.

We may need to downside, we will need to make some tough decisions. I will need to keep my fingers OFF the credit card.

But we shall also be improving living conditions and we will be happier. My outlook has changed this weekend from "oh my gosh, how much longer can I do this" to "I can so do this" because now I'm looking at where I can cut the fat.

I'm even considering biking to work!

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Love Thursday

Up at Joshilyn's blog there's a post with Rebecca Flowers who wrote Nice To Come Home To, her first novel. It's about love and, I suppose, the aftermath. I haven't read her book yet, but I intend to.

Anyhooo, for Love Thursday I'm going to talk about something that Rebecca Flowers said on Joshilyn's blog:

Hold out for true love. ‘Cause it’s just too hard to live with someone, under any other circumstance. And because yes, yes, YES!, it exists. It’s not what Lori Gottleib seems to think it is, however. True love is NOT the thing that gets you what you want out of life – a house, a baby, a family, perfect and unerring happiness. True love is the thing that complicates life, that makes it messy. And wonderful. And joyous. And profound. But will it get you what you’ve always wanted? Certainly not. Certainly, certainly not. It’s just like prayer, you know.

I so believe that. How could I not? I met my husband when I was 18 and I KNEW he was the one. Knew it in my marrow. He, unfortunately, didn't realize this. He was very career focused and a dedicated bachelor. But I knew.

We dated only briefly. He lived in Germany, I was in Austria... I moved back to Canada and he moved back to the US. We lost touch. In between I married and had a wonderful son. And got divorced.

My son was about two and a half when I started reading Diana Gabaldon's book, Outlander. Perhaps you've read it? Well I was head over heels in love with Jamie Fraser, her main male character. I stayed up until 3 am reading some mornings...

Suddenly, mid-passage I realized that the reason I loved Jamie Fraser was because he was the literary equivalent of Major Man. I knew I had to find him. I knew I wouldn't be happy until I could either walk through or close that door. I knew he was the one.

So I stalked tracked him down and called him. It started off a little shaky. I called him twice in a week and got the definite "you're crowding me" vibe. Dedicated bachelor, remember? And I'm not exactly subtle.

We emailed for about a year before I called his bluff. Was he scared to see me, did he think that I was a crazy stalker? He called my bluff, saying that I could just as easily come and visit him in the US.

I booked a flight for the long weekend in September 2004. We married in September 2005.

It's been a rough few years, true love doesn't guarantee smooth sailing. Far from it. And we have made things extra difficult for ourselves by having a baby without waiting for his permanent resident card, getting in and out of debt, living in a city that's too expensive... But I can say, without any reservation, that he's still The One. He's still the rudder in my life, the one that can calm me with a touch the same way he used to calm our daughter. It was incredible, when she was still in the womb she'd start kicking and he'd put a hand on her and she'd stop instantly.

He's patient beyond belief. He'd have to be to live with me... I'm a control freak and most of the time he's waiting out some issue I've manufactured. (Where is the plastic thingy for the apple slicer, where the heck is it... it's supposed to be Right Here. Did you touch it? Did you move it? Did you see it? Why can't anything stay where it's supposed to?! Oh, here it is, uh, um, I think I left it there after getting an apple for M earlier. Okay... moving on...)

I think our rough patch is evening out though. We see where the waves are, we know the shallow pools and deep still waters. We know what we need to do to make this work. We can do it together now.

Happy Love Thursday!

Sunday, April 06, 2008


If this doesn't make you smile... you are dead inside.

Some questions...

I found this over at My Write Hand:

What is your idea of perfect happiness? Just enough on my plate to eat, just enough warmth to go without socks, just enough money to pay the bills, just enough love to fill my house.

What is your greatest fear? Losing my family.

Which historical figure do you most identify with? Sir Winston Churchill.

Which living person do you most admire? My children.

What is the trait you most deplore in yourself? Deceit.

What is the trait you most deplore in others? Deceit.

What is your greatest extravagance? Buying books.

What is your favorite journey? When I'm "leaving on a jet plane".

What do you consider the most overrated virtue? Are you kidding? There are no virtues that have reached the level of overused. They should all be used more!

On what occasion do you lie? When my kids aren't ready for the truth.

What do you dislike most about your appearance? My my face breaks out.

Which living person do you most despise? No one. "Let no man pull you low enough to hate him." -- Martin Luther King Jr.

Which words or phrases do you most overuse? "Like". I hate that word. "and she's all like, I hate that word..."

What is your greatest regret? I don't believe in regrets.

What or who is the greatest love of your life? My husband. For real.

Which talent would you most like to have? Singing!

What is your current state of mind? Scattered.

If you could change one thing about your family, what would it be? That we followed the seven virtues more often.

What do you consider your greatest achievement? Achieving the title of "mommy".

If you were to die and come back as a person or thing, what do you think it would be? An angel.

If you could choose what to come back as, what would it be? Me.

What is your most treasured possession? My health.

What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery? Absence of God.

Where would you like to live? With my family. Wherever that is.

What is your favorite occupation? Mother.

What is your most marked characteristic? My red hair... or my temper that goes with it.

What are the qualities you most like in a man? Honesty.

What are the qualities you most like in a woman? Proverbs 31:10

What do you most value in your friends? Kindness.

Who are your favorite writers? Joshilyn Jackson, Shirley Jump, Jodi Picoult, Maeve Binchy, Diana Gabaldon.

Who is your favorite hero of fiction? Jamie Fraser (by Gabaldon)

Who are your heroes in real life? Our men and women in the military.

What are your favorite names? Mommy and Daddy.

What is it that you most dislike? Noisy eaters.

How would you like to die? With advanced warning.

What is your motto? I can do it.

Saturday, April 05, 2008

News Flash: Being a Writer has NEVER Paid Well

I'm not sure I can call this a rant or not, but here are my thoughts on writers and pay.

There are regular writers and there are highly paid writers. The difference between the two is simple: highly paid writers are highly paid somewhere else. They are the Donald Trumps who decide to write, the Madonnas who think "I can do that", the ex-wives of baseball players who have some really specific inside knowledge that no one else on the planet has.

99.999999654% of the rest of us are regular writers. But guess what? We are in great company because in our camp we have the Mark Twains, the Hans Christian Andersons, the Anton Checkovs, the apostles of the Bible.

I know that I should be advocating for More Pay For Writers! And I am. I always will believe that the better the writer, the more she should be paid. But that does not make "writing" a more valuable resource. That makes "good writing" more valuable.

The US Bureau of Labor Stats has something to say on being a writer:

How much does this job pay?

Half of all writers and authors earned between $31,720 and $62,930 a year in 2004. The lowest-paid 10 percent earned less than $23,330. The highest-paid 10 percent earned more than $91,260 a year. Earnings for technical writers were somewhat higher. Half of all editors earned between $33,130 and $58,850 a year in 2004. The lowest-paid 10 percent earned less than $25,780. The highest-paid 10 percent earned more than $80,020 a year.

But the part that got me thinking was this line:

A writer or editor must have a college degree.

And there's the rub. So not true. You do not have to be a college graduate to be a writer. And guess what, the jobs that require a college degree will always pay more.

To top it off:

There will be a lot of competition for writing and editing jobs. This is because so many people want to become writers or editors.

When the internet was born (or when Al Gore created it, whatevah) a whole new publishing world was born. Because basically, putting your words on the internet is publishing them. Suddenly information was published at light year speeds compared to before. It was suddenly possible to have a thought and have it published seconds later.

When Mark Twain had a thought it was a lot longer than that before someone else got to read it!

Back in Twain's days, homes were passed down through generations, people grew gardens, there were no credit cards, you could live on pennies a day. The issue of getting paid well for your writing was moot. You were a writer, that was it, you wrote, you got some money, you kept writing, you got some more money.

Twain worked as a printer's apprentice, a steamboat pilot, a miner and a soldier and married into money. He worked as a journalist but it was not for high pay. In fact being a steamboat pilot was the most lucrative job he ever had. He wrote because it was a job and it paid some bills.

And he's called the writer of the great American novel.

I hear many writers decrying the horrible pay in the publishing industry. And for good reason when you hear things like HarperCollins experimenting with new pay structures that pretty much suck onions for writers.

I hear writers who write for low pay referred to as "bottom feeders" and "hobbyists". These are comments generally come from people who write full-time and complain regularly about low-pay, lack of opportunity and the decline of the industry.


Pay isn't rising. Never has. Probably never will. That's why I advise writers to do more than writing, develop yourself. Learn to edit. Write eBooks and market them. Teach others. Learn new writing skills.

Change. Adapt. Evolve. Survive.

Who says I don't believe in evolution?

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Take my kids, please.

Major Man just started a new job. He's waiting to hear about another job and rather than sit around the house contemplating the difference between doing a load of whites, of colours or of not giving a crap and throwing it all in together.... he went out a got a between-the-time job.

Strangely enough he found one at the parent company of the company I work for. It's a few steps below what he's acutally qualified to do (since that was 'being a leader' and now he's 'moving boxes around') but he doesn't care because it's SOMETHING.

It's also a job that starts at 3:00 pm and goes to 11:30 pm. Which means I'm all by my lonesome with the kids in the evenings now. No more "can you put the baby in the tub while I clean up?" or "can you read the stories and I'll rock the baby?"

Just me. Kind of like single motherhood again. Fun.

Tonight my mom took the kids for about an hour and a half and at first I was all "yes, take them, please!" but then after I ran to the drug store and picked up the baby's prescription... I kind of missed them. I wanted them back.


Dear Family and Friends: This is how you know I love you....

(It's Love Thursday...)

If I feel you're upset and I ask what's wrong - it's because I care.

If I make an assumption it will be that you are doing the best you can with the best intentions, because I care about you.

If I'm upset with something you've said or done, I'll address it right away rather than let it fester inside me. This is because I value our relationship.

If I hear that you said something against me, I won't believe it until I ask you and look into your eyes.

I will apologize if I feel I am wrong because I care. If I don't think I'm wrong I'll still apologize for the situation and for your hurt.