My Maternity Tower of Mordor Costume and the Tolkien VILLAINZ!

This was another pregnant Halloween for me! At almost seven months pregnant, I felt like my belly was big enough to rock a proper belly-busting maternity costume. I was only about five months along for my last pregnant Halloween, so I went another route that time.

I was trying to think of some kind of hilarious thing to do with my belly that I hadn’t seen before. Inspiration struck one day in the shower (doesn’t it always?) and I couldn’t stop laughing at the idea, so I knew I had found THE ONE: The Eye of Sauron. I decided that I’d frame The Eye with a Tower of Mordor-like outfit.

Since I was going to be The Eye, my husband decided to be Saruman the White and we dressed our toddler up as Smaug the dragon. We were Tolkien VILLAINZ!!

Family Tolkien Costumes: Eye of Sauron maternity costume, Saruman the White and Smaug the dragonEye of Sauron Maternity Costume and Saruman

The whole thing was totally cheap and relatively easy. I spent about $10 on Sharpies and probably about four hours on crafting (and half of that was for the Nazgul necklaces, which I forgot to wear at the kids party). The details on how I made the costume are below. (Eric also made his Saruman staff out of cardboard, black tape, packing tape, a styrofoam ball, and an old Jesus costume staff, but I don’t have any details on that one!)

Materials I used:

  • Fine point Sharpies: Black, Yellow, Orange, Neon Orange and Red
  • Pencil
  • Belly Band in white, or a similar product
  • Black tunic
  • Laser-printed Nazgûl glued to card stock + scissors + black embroidery thread
  • I also wore a gray long-sleeved maternity top (gray like the skies or Mordor), black leggings and black boots.

Crafting:

There are really three items that required crafting: The Eye of Sauron belly band, the Tower tunic, and the Nazgûl necklaces, so here goes:

Eye of Sauron belly band:

First, I’d like to say that I’m not really into painting my belly, as is done in a lot of maternity costumes. For one thing, it’s cold here in October. Plus, I can’t really see the underside of my belly and maternity pants aren’t known for staying up. Not to mention that I’d probably end up getting paint all over the place. So, I was planning to color a tight shirt or something, but then a friend of mine was giving away some maternity clothes and I acquired this white belly band that was just perfect.

If you’ve never heard of a belly band, you should know that it’s a relatively pointless item to cover a pregnant belly in case one wants to wear non-maternity clothes while pregnant. Pretty much every pregnant woman gets one, but no one I know actually ends up using them because regular maternity are just more comfortable. Meanwhile, the belly band market thrives.

So, I put on my belly band and drew an outline of The Eye (shown below) on it in the mirror using a dull pencil. It looked like I got it a little crooked. But then, my belly is pretty round.

The Eye of SauronEye of Sauron Belly Band Outline

Then I put the belly band around one of my son’s cheap rubber balls and a big board book (ah, the spoils of having kids). I started by coloring the yellow parts first. Then I filled in the orange and red. Then I did the black pupil. I was surprised at how well I was able to blend colors with the Sharpies — the shading turned out better than I thought it would.

sauronyellowsauronredorangesauronredorangeblack

Next, I took the belly band off of the ball and filled in the edges with black. It turns out that black is the smelliest Sharpie color. I tried to get this done as fast as possible since I am, as I mentioned, almost seven months pregnant. I was pretty pleased with the results.

sauronblackEye of Sauron Belly BandEye of Sauron Belly Band On My Belly

The Tower Tunic:

The tunic was really easy. I had a black short-sleeved tunic that I cut in a low U-shape, so that The Eye sat at the bottom of the U. I safety-pinned the tunic to the top of the belly band to give it a little shape around the eye, then I cut off the sleeves. I didn’t take a good picture of the tunic, but you can see the effect in the photos of the completed outfit.

The Nazgûl necklaces:

The necklaces were easy, but time consuming. I printed out a few Nazgul in black and white that I found on Google Image Search. Then I glued them to card stock and cut them out. I filled in the weird parts with black Sharpie so that they’d look less like photocopies around my neck. Then, I used an embroidery needle and black embroidery thread to make them “necklaces”. Again, I don’t have a great photos of these, but you can see them in the photos of the completed outfit.

Getting dressed:

The great thing about this costume is that it was really comfortable. I just put the belly band over a fitted gray maternity shirt (I chose gray to mimic the sky of Mordor) and wore it with black leggings and black boots. I put the Tower Tunic on and safety-pinned it to the top of the belly band to give it some shape and to keep it on. Then I tied on the Nazgûl necklaces. I had planned to wear some dark makeup and blow out my hair a bit, but I have a toddler running around and it just didn’t happen. Such is motherhood!

Overall:

This costume was super fun to make. I think colored belly bands should be the next big thing in maternity Halloween costumes. They’re reusable and easy, and most pregnant women have one lying around that they’re not using. Ladies, are you with me?

Here are a few more photos of our costumes — I hope you like them! What are you dressing as for Halloween?

Eye of Sauron Maternity Costume and Smaug the DragonTolkein Villains Family Costumes: Eye of Saruon Maternity Costume, Saruman the White and Smaug the Dragon

Real Things an Expecting Mom Can Do to Prepare for Having a Baby

There are thousands of guides on how to prepare for having a baby. If you’re expecting, you’ve read them. Then you skimmed them once you realized most of them are the same. Go ahead and get your nursery ready — your baby might sleep in the room with you for several months. Watch birthing videos to your heart’s desire — delivery will probably be less than a single day of your life. Get plenty of sleep — Ha! You haven’t slept a full night since your first trimester.

I’m writing this guide to provide you with some extra tidbits I haven’t read everywhere. Maybe you’ll find them helpful. I’m organizing them into a few categories and leaving out the more mundane ones. Here goes!

Real Things an Expecting Mom Can Do to Prepare for Having a Baby

Social Things:

  • Hang out with your friends. Call the ones who aren’t nearby. No matter how tired or miserable or boring you feel, you will miss the uninterrupted conversations that go along with being child-free. Also, when your baby is almost three months old, you’ll realize that it’s been only three months since you hung out with that one friend, and not five months since you saw her at your baby shower.
  • Have a social media plan. Are you going to announce your birth on Facebook? From the hospital or when you get home? Do you have a family member who posts their every movement on Twitter? If you’d rather not have photos of your baby showing up on Instagram before you’ve even mentioned to your friends that you went to the hospital, you might want to send some guidelines out to your immediate family, telling them when and how much they are allowed to post about you and your baby.
  • Decide on baby announcements. This is obvious, but collect email addresses for any email baby announcements, and home addresses for paper announcements (if you’re sending them). You can pick out a baby announcement template, but you might change your mind once you have baby photos. At the least, you can decide which company you’re going to order your announcements from and how much you’re willing to spend on them. Bonus: Buy stamps.
  • Have your boss’s contact info handy. If you’re working up until your due date, decide when and how to tell your boss you’re starting maternity leave (email? text?) in case you go into labor early.

Hospital Plans:

  • Check the hospital menu. You’re going to be ravenous after birthing a baby, and most hospitals only have a few truly palatable things on the menu. Get the menu. Read the reviews on Yelp. Eat up.
  • Research your undesirable scenarios. Many women who are planning a natural birth do a ton of research into avoiding labor induction, a Cesarian delivery, or painkiller use after birth. And many end up being induced, having C-sections, and needing drugs. There’s no shame in this — every mother has her own path to motherhood. But you need to be prepared for every scenario. If you have a C-section, will your baby be taken to a nursery while you recover or kept in the room with you? How much oxycodone is it safe for a nursing woman to take? These are things you’ll want to know before you’re in a hospital bed recovering while a beautiful baby stares up at you.
  • Pack comfort items. There are lots of packing lists available online. I’ll just say that, when I was at the hospital, I was so happy to have a nightgown, light robe and slippers. I wish I’d packed a nursing sleep bra and nursing pillow.

Home Preparations:

  • Make or buy frozen dinners. After you have a baby, people will bring you a lot of food. You’ll order a lot of takeout. It won’t be enough. With a newborn around, it’s harder to cook like you used to. Even making a sandwich can feel like a lot of work. Having frozen food handy will be like beaming in groceries from your pre-baby life.
  • Prepare your comfy spaces. You’re going to do a lot of sitting around with a sleeping or sleepy baby. Make sure there are as many comfortable places in your home as possible. Put pillows, blankets and magazines there. You’ll thank yourself later.

Breastfeeding (if applicable):

  • Understand breastfeeding. I mean, really do your research. Some lactation consultants will do a pre-delivery consultation with expecting moms. Consider signing up for one. Breastfeeding is confusing and painful and weird, but it’s also healthy and beautiful and rewarding. You don’t want to miss out on breastfeeding because you couldn’t get past a common breastfeeding issue during the first few weeks, which is when a lot of moms end up quitting. By educating yourself ahead of time, you’re giving yourself and your baby an extra advantage.
  • Get nursing sleep bras/camisoles. You won’t know exactly what size you’re going to be until after you start nursing, but you know your general build. I’d recommend buying a nursing sleep bra and a few nursing camisoles in a size that will be comfortable for you. You’ll want one for the hospital. You can buy nicer bras for going out after you recover from delivery and can get your bra size figured out.
  • Have a pump plan. You might not want to buy one too far ahead of time because you might end up renting a hospital-grade pump, depending on your nursing scenario. But you can at least decide which pump to buy and where to buy it. Then you can send your husband or mom out for it when you need it. Also, you’ll probably end up freezing milk, so have some milk-freezing bottles or baggies handy.

These are just some tips I’ve had floating around my head for a while. I might add more if and when I think of any. I guess I should mention that this is on my mind partly because I’m expecting my second baby boy in January. We’re so excited!

NaNoWriYear: Progress!

Last November, I posted that I was embarking on a [not exactly National] Novel Writing Year, which really just means that I’m trying to finish one novel in a year. (I emphasize one because I’ve heard of a few people doing a “NaNoWriYear” challenge wherein they write twelve novels in a year. Good for them. That is not what I’m doing.)

Well, I offer you a short update: The novel is being written! Hooray for me.

It’s going slower than I expected, but I’ve managed to bump up my word count during Camp NaNoWriMo in April and July. Camp NaNoWriMo is sort of a bonus writing challenge run by the NaNoWriMo folks where the word count challenge can be anything greater than 10,000 words.

In the interest of keeping up my progress so I can finish this novel by November, I’m trying to write at least 15,000 words per month. Since I’m addicted to Writing Months, I signed up for AugNoWriMo.

AugNoWriMo

I shall do SeptNoWriMo and OctNoWriMo too, if that’s what it takes (even if one of those isn’t a real thing). I’m going to write this novel.

If any of you WriMo types are working on your own writing challenges, may I recommend WriteTrack? It’s a great site that keeps track of your word count goal and progress, making handy charts for those of us who like that sort of thing. (It’s a free site, but if you dig it, consider donating to help with the expense of hosting!)

3-Day Novel ContestAnd if you’re much, much crazier than me, and more eager to get that novel down, check out the 3-Day Novel Contest, in which writers compete to write a novel over the Canadian Labour Day weekend (Aug. 31 – Sept. 2, 2013). This insane goal fortunately comes with extra incentives: One publishing contract up for grabs, and cash prizes! If you’re capable of staying conscious and coherent for 72 hours straight, this might be for you.

So, there you go. The writing is happening here. There’s probably more I should tell you, but I really need to get back to my manuscript! Thanks for checking in.

Fold n Fold, but do it carefully!

I just bought a new reusable coffee cup. It’s a very special cup. Partly because I bought it at an art gallery for the bargain price of $10. But mostly because it folds flat and can be stored in a cute little pouch in your pocket. It’s the Fold n Fold FoFoCup!

Fold n Fold FoFoCup

I hadn’t planned to buy anything when I checked out the industrial design exhibit at the Artisphere the other day. I was really just taking the long way back from the bathroom during our weekly writing meetup. On my way out of the exhibit, I noticed a sign by the information desk that said there was something for sale. So I asked the guy at the counter whether they were selling the pieces in the show.

“No,” he said. “There’s a little gift shop here.” He directed me to a shelf around the corner.

Thanks, I said, but I was just curious. He assured me that the cheapest thing was $10. I perused it out of politeness.

Instantly I saw it. “Is that a folding coffee cup?” It was, he told me, and it was their most affordable item. I bought it immediately.

I brought my plunder back to my writing buddies and showed them my new cup, in all its collapsible glory. They were impressed when I collapsed it flat and when I opened it up again. Suddenly I wasn’t so impressed. “Oh,” I said.

“It has a hole in it, doesn’t it?” asked my buddy next to me.

I sighed. It did. I went back to exchange it.

“That’s weird,” said the guy who sold it to me. “It’s supposed to last over 10,000 uses.”

I laughed. Then I realized he was serious.

I didn’t collapse my new cup that night. I waited till the next morning. My mom had come over and I showed it to her, telling her what it does.

“Can I see?” she asked.

“Let me get the instructions.” She laughed at me while I ran upstairs for them. I had reviewed them the night before. They explained that the cup can last over 10,000 folds if folded and unfolded correctly. They even have a YouTube channel with instructional videos. I watched them.

As it turns out, there really is an art to folding and unfolding the FoFoCup. This thing is origami in polypropylene (and BPA-free, by the way!). Now that I know how the thing works, I feel bad about the first one. I don’t know if it was me or some previous user who broke it, but this thing comes with an instruction manual for a reason.

Still, I don’t expect to use it 10,000 times. Maybe a few dozen. But if it really lasts 10,000 uses? Best $10 I ever spent!

Fold n Fold is a small Taiwanese company with the endearing tagline, “engreeneering” (emphasis mine). Their goal is to save the world by reducing packaging and minimizing landfill waste. One of their upcoming products is a retractable, reusable, self-assembling chopstick with the unfortunate name ChopSDick. I kind of want to Hug n Hug them, in a completely platonic way that has nothing to do with the whole chopstick debacle.

The FoFoCup can be purchased for $10 at the Artisphere in Arlington, VA as part of the gift shop for The Next Wave: Industrial Design Innovation in the 21st Century, which runs until May 19, 2013. You might also be able to buy one here, depending on your foreign language skills and what countries the retailer ships to.

The All-Breakfast Diet

It began as a joke. One day, I had cereal for breakfast and french toast for lunch. That night, I went to a grab a sandwich for dinner, but it turned out the cafe was closing and they would only sell me a bagel. It was… A DAY OF BREAKFASTS.

And why not? They say breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Having breakfast all day promotes lunch and dinner to their own level of prestige.

rolls

Cinnamon rolls are totally a breakfast food.

My husband and I have been on the all-breakfast diet for days now. We think you can lose weight this way as long as you stick to one basic rule: You only get one breakfast burrito per day. Also, you need to limit your intake of bacon, syrup, sausage and all those other deliciously fattening breakfast foods.

So, if you need to watch what you eat anyway, how does this differ from any other diet? Well, obviously, you can only eat breakfast! As with any restrictive diet (a vegan diet, a gluten-free diet, a low cholesterol diet, etc.), when you significantly reduce the number of things you can eat, you tend to eat less. A typical day for me right now is:

  • Breakfast: Cereal with soy milk
  • Lunch: Breakfast burrito
  • Snacks: Kefir and an apple
  • Dinner: Toast with cream cheese and jam

That seems reasonably healthy to me! I guess I could have more fruits and vegetables, but there’s always tomorrow for that. And really, how long can this last?

Reading Like a Writer: ‘Succubus Blues’ Edition

“Read like a writer.” It’s a common piece of advice given to writers, dished out by writers, repeated by writers. The trick is allowing yourself to learn from what you’re reading, to examine the craft while enjoying the prose. It’s like watching a street magician and noticing his sleight of hand — you say to yourself, “I saw what you did there!” Once you’re in on the tricks, you can’t stop. Some might say that the magic is ruined forever.

Personally, I don’t think “reading like a writer” ruins reading for pleasure. I do think there is no going back. There are moments when you can still lose yourself in good prose, but you still want to go back to dissect the illusion, to figure out how each little word was stitched into the fabric that blindfolded you.

Without much effort, a writer will find that each book is teeming with lessons. Good books, bad books, page-turners, works of literary genius, guilty pleasures — there’s something to learn on each page, and we each have different lessons to learn. So, I was thinking, since what I got out of a book might be different from what another person got — maybe I should share?

I can’t possibly tell you what I’ve learned from every book, but I’ll be sharing one or two tidbits from time to time here. And here’s the first one.

Succubus BluesSo, I recently read Succubus Blues by Richelle Mead. I would definitely characterize this book as a page-turner, maybe even a guilty pleasure. It’s about a succubus who feels guilty about stealing people’s energy by having sex with them, so she avoids sex as much as possible. She tries not to date and ends up dating anyway, while also getting roped into solving the mystery of why local immortals are getting killed and injured. It’s a funny, sassy urban fantasy that’s really hard to put down.

I feel like a lot of people don’t give page-turners enough credit on the sentence-to-sentence level, and I think part of the reason is because they’re too busy turning pages. Another reason is because the writing in some page-turners isn’t terribly well-constructed at this level (in Twilight, for example). But sometimes it is. In Succubus Blues, Mead accomplishes compulsive readability in at least two ways:

First, she throws the reader into a scene. The book is written in first-person, and we’re inside the head of Georgina the saucy succubus the whole time. When Georgina walks into a room, she not only describes the room, but how she feels about it, giving the reader an emotional connection to the setting.

Second, Georgina’s inner dialogue is believable without being distracting. Sentence fragments, jokes and asides give us glimpses into her immediate thoughts, but not too often as to be distracting. Sometimes we’re really in her head, and sometimes we’re a little further out, witnessing the scene from a few steps back. This balance works — snippets of Georgina’s thoughts help us jump ahead and read faster, but if there were too many of them, the writing would be choppy.

Those are two lessons I picked up from Succubus Blues on improving readability. I have a few more observations about the stakes and motivation, but this post is pretty long, so I think I’ll leave it there for now. If you have any thoughts on this, feel free to share!

Things That Are Nice About Winter*

1. The cats don’t shed as much.

2. It’s unlikely that I’ll have to shave my legs.

(I’ll have to get back to you if I come up with anything not hair-related.)

*Excluding holidays.

**Excluding snow, because the niceness of actual snow is canceled out by fleeting promises of snow that become wintery mixes, toilet paper runs, highway slow-jams, or nothing.

Here’s a photo of the cats. I don’t have one of my leg hair. You’re welcome.

kitty cuddlefest

The Peculiar and the New Year

Have you ever read a book with such good writing that you considered quitting writing yourself, because you’ll never be able to write like that? I’m talking about writing that is light and immediate without being simple. Writing that encourages you to turn the pages to see what happens next, only to turn back again to reconsider the words you just read.

Imagine that you read that book. You felt those feelings. Then you found out the book was written by a teenager. What would you think?

The Peculiar“Good for him,” a friend of mine said (of another teen in a similar situation). The LA Times said that this particular author “writes as if he didn’t just read classic books. His prose is so elegantly witty, it’s as if he absorbed them and is writing by osmosis.”

As for me, I’m genuinely happy for Stefan Bachmann, teen-in-point and author of The Peculiar. What reader isn’t happy to find a new favorite writer? I’m also prickling under my skin a little with healthy proportions of envy, rivalry, determination and desperation. Even if I never manage to write quite like Bachmann, I’ll write well enough to earn my own accolades from the LA Times. Or from somewhere. I hope.

Which leads me to my writing New Year’s Resolutions, which are simple: Write more. Finish more. Submit more.

So far this year, I’ve written a fair amount. I finished two short writing projects. And I’ll be submitting them once they’ve stewed a bit and passed the taste test.

Great books like The Peculiar keep me motivated. It’s going to be a good year.

National Novel Writing Year?

This year is the sixth consecutive year I’ve done NaNoWriMo. For the uninitiated, that’s National Novel Writing Month, the worldwide challenge to write 50,000 words of a novel in the month of November. I haven’t “won” for a few years now, but I always get a lot written in November. I’m not going to give up yet.

This has been a big year for me. I became a mom this year. In some ways, I’ve changed. But in many ways, I’ve learned more about myself, and one of those things is that I’m not about to give up writing. It’s a part of me. Even when I’m writing something that I never plan to see the light of day, I’m invigorated by the process. Creating anything is thrilling, but wordcrafting turns out to be my favorite creative endeavor anytime I have to choose one. Even when my son was just a few weeks old, I found myself saving up brief sentences in the back of my mind, jotting them down when I had a chance. I really can’t turn it off!

So, my son is eight months old this month, and I started a new novel. I’m really excited about it, but it is forcing me to employ time-management skills that I never quite developed. One saving grace is the writing meetup group I founded with two of my friends a few years ago. It began as a regular NaNoWriMo write-in (a write-in is an event in which the participants get together to write), but we continued getting together for weekly write-ins year-round. It’s amazing what you can accomplish with a weekly block of free time, a friendly support network, and a healthy dose of peer pressure.

This NaNoWriMo, I’ve done the bulk of my novel-writing during our weekly write-in. My progress is slow, but I’ve been churning out about 2,000 words per meeting. It occurred to me that, even though it’s unlikely that I’ll get to 50,000 words this month, if I wrote only during our write-ins, I would still get 104,000 words written per year. That’s totally a novel! And since I do write more than just on a weekly basis, I should be able to get a novel written and revised in the course of a year. I just need to stay on track.

I’m dubbing this year National Novel Writing Year. (Or maybe Personal Novel Writing Year, although it would be great if I could just write a novel every year.) In the interest of committing to getting this thing done, I’ll even share with you the little teaser I put together as I was outlining this year’s novel. Here is the (zeroth  draft) cover and back copy:


Trent is not having a good day, even by his standards. He’s always been unlucky, but today, it’s personal. He lost his job, his apartment, his wallet… and he just lost his last twenty bucks to the cashier at a Chinese take-out cart who charges him for the “good luck” cookie he just ate. It didn’t even have a fortune it in – or so he thinks.

But when good luck strikes immediately afterwards, Trent wonders if he can get more. He soon learns where to find luck of all sorts – at The Fortunes Market.


Happy NaNoWriYear!

Read the F**k to Sleep

I’ve been reading to my baby since he was a week old. They say it doesn’t really matter what you read to them at first. He’s over six months old now, and it definitely does matter. Anything that’s not a board book will be ripped to shreds in his tiny, freakishly-strong, relentless grasp. We’re particularly fond of reading to him at night, so bedtime books are big in our house. And, wow, are there some bad ones.

I’m a writer. I read like a writer. Unfortunately, many picture books are seemingly written by a committee of marketing interns managed by an editor who has never met a child. Okay, I’m being harsh. Really, the problem is that a lot of picture books are written for children. That’s well and good — kids need to read! — but they don’t learn to read for several years. Parents like me will read books like Goodnight Moon hundreds of times before our children will even utter the words “Goodnight mush.” And Goodnight Moon is one of the better bedtime books. Most of them devote several pages to proper hygiene.

Max abusing Good Night Moon

Max abusing Good Night Moon

So, we were given this book you’ve probably heard of called Go the F**k to Sleep. It’s a spoof bedtime picture book written for adults. It has bad words in it. But here’s the thing — it’s written for adults! The prose is totally less maddening than 90% of the bedtime books I’ve seen. Unfortunately — it’s written for adults! Even though my son is six months old and doesn’t really know the R-ratedness of what we’re saying to him, I just can’t read this book to him. I tried. It feels wrong.

On a quest for the perfect bedtime book, I took my baby to Barnes and Noble. I looked at as many bedtime books as I could find, and settled on It’s Time To Sleep My Love, written by Eric Metaxas and illustrated by Nancy Tillman. (I recognized Tillman’s work from On The Night You Were Born, which is an awesome book to read to babies, by the way.) When I got home with the book, I realized why I liked it so much — it’s an unsarcastic version of Go the F**k to Sleep!

Although I don’t think that the author has acknowledged it, it turns out that many people think Go the F**k to Sleep is a parody of It’s Time To Sleep My Love. There certainly are a lot of similarities. For instance, here’s a quote from It’s Time To Sleep My Love:

“It’s time to sleep, it’s time to sleep,” / the fishes croon in waters deep.

And from Go the F**k to Sleep:

The windows are dark in the town, child. / The whales huddle down in the deep. / I’ll read one very last book if you swear / You’ll go the fuck to sleep.

So, Go the F**k to Sleep is a little more verbose than It’s Time To Sleep My Love, but you get the idea. The artwork is similar between the two books as well, each featuring spreads of nature scenes interspersed with children in various stages of sleepiness.

Recently, I learned that the author of Go the F**k to Sleep released a G-rated version of the book that you can actually read to kids. That’s well and good, but here’s my problem with it: If Go the F**k to Sleep is a spoof of It’s Time To Sleep My Love, the humor being the inclusion of adult language, and then you remove the adult language — don’t you just end up with a ripoff of It’s Time To Sleep My Love? I know I’m oversimplifying this but, still, it bugs me.

The lesson here is probably that there is a burgeoning market for well-written books to read to preverbal children. That’s lucky for me because, prior to considering all of the above, I started writing my own bedtime book. It’s no It’s Time To Sleep My Love, but I enjoyed writing it. We’ll see where it goes.

In the least, it was great to get back to writing since the birth of my son. The fact that, in spite of all my crazy new responsibilities, I’m still making time to write has made me realize how important writing is to me. And that realization has made me write more. So here we are — back at it again! Wonderful.