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Notes on the Happiest Place on Earth

We’ve just returned from two _______ days at Disneyland!

You fill in the blank:

A. Fun Filled

B. Terrifying

C. Delightful

D. All of the above…

If you answered D, you’re correct!

Fun filled: Disneyland is magical. From the word “go!” — point of fact – we drove up to the in process renovation of the Disneyland Resort Hotel. My dear hubby got the bags out of the car while I sashayed up to check in, girls in tow. With my winning smile firmly in place, I asked the desk clerk if a room upgrade was possible. He frowned at me, glanced at the girls, then suggested that maybe his newest employees could get us a room in the new wing.

Newest employees? That would be great! I grinned. He leaned over the counter and called my daughters back, dressed them in employee vests, and allowed a 6 year old and a four year old to hunt and peck letters of our reservation into the computer. Darned if we didn’t get a brand new room in the renovated Dreams tower, complete with carved wall mural, “A Dream is a Wish” music box, and LED fireworks light show behind the Sleeping Beauty Castle as a night light.

Each girl received a balloon, an autographed picture of the 1950s Disney cast, and entry into the kingdom!

Terrifying? Not for my oldest. Rachel is up for everything, though she has to be reminded to ride the little kid rides, as she calls them. LOVES them while she’s on them, but would rather ride an endless stream of Splash Mountain, Grizzly Rapids, and of course – Big Thunder Mountain Rail Road. Her four year old sister? Chickened out of Splash Mountain at the last possible moment. Again. Perry and I discovered the wonderful world of Parent Passes, which enables one parent to pass of the kid that won’t go, while the other rides, and vice versa.

Ellie wailed on her way out, begging for another go around on the psychadellic trip that is Winnie the Pooh’s Heffalump adventure. She opted for the toddler track, riding Mr. Toad’s wild ride, Dumbo, Alice in Wonderland, Small World, Buzz Light Year, and at CA Adventure – King Triton’s Merry Go Round, and the new Toy Story Midway Game. The girls played together at the “Smoke Jumper’s Camp” at Grizzly Bear Country, running up and down rope bridges, swinging on tire swings, and laughing themselves silly.

All was fine and good, until she watched us all “Trading her Off” with increasingly long face. She tried the Soarin’ California and discovered that flying was cool! More fun when we were all together… and “Not dat scawy.”

I convinced her that getting her grandmother onto the Grizzly Rapids ride was her bounden duty. She went to great lengths to encase her grandmother in waterproof capes, and drag her onto the river raft ride. Ellie was the wettest kid on the boat. We laughed until our sides hurt, at how waves crested her head at every drop. She loved it. Loved the attention. The drama! and ultimately decided, at the very end of day two, to brave Big Thunder Mountain Rail Road.

The end result? In her golden haired brilliance, she grins, “Mommy! I weally wike wollah coastahs!”

Ah, if only she’d have decided that before the end of day two!

It’s a delight to see your kids relish new found things. Her boundaries are expanding. Her universe is bigger for having been brave. More than one set of parents and grandparents warned us to not rush this part… soon, they’ll be tromping all over the park calling “Single!” and jumping to the front of the line, staying out until park close, as long as they phone in at regular intervals.

For now, we’re riding roller coasters as a family…and our Disney trips for the next years to come will be all the more full because of it!

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How to tame a toddler

There were posts going around on our message board for TWRP yesterday about writing with toddlers around. Yeah. That’s a real trick, isn’t it? Rachel’s in that phase now that she can be kept busy for hours coloring, watching a favorite show, or working on her projects (see Rachel at the kitchen table with a pair of child-safe scissors and a bunch of hastily printed out family pictures. The kid is an amateur scrap-booker extraordinaire!)

Ellie is another story. The girl is a ball of energy, needing constant attention and wanting to talk all of the time. ALL of the time. These days, she still sounds vaguely like Elmer Fudd. All of her “L’s” are “Yuh” sounds. Hear: Eh-yee instead of Ellie. Yost instead of Lost. At any rate, they’ve settled down again. I have a full day of work ahead of me, and we’re going to race off with the “school kids” and meet our day care at the elementary school.

Will I have time to work on edits for All or Nothing today? I’ve reviewed the full MS –returned to me from Elizabeth on Tuesday–and I can absolutely make the changes needed in just a few short weeks if not sooner without breaking a sweat. The only question mark is with the kids! will they let me? Working on my writing before and after work, staying up late into the night, waking early in the morning, my friends ask me “When do you have time to sleep?” perhaps writing with small children in the house gives you just what you need to do that. I wasn’t sleeping anyway…I might as well write.

Of Little Girls and Ladybugs…

My sister gave us a “new” used hybrid trailer for Christmas – that means, it has a 17′ long body, and pop out beds to 23′. We’re planning on putting it to good use this summer, having already braved a trip in February – when we discovered the heater didn’t work (BRRRRR). All freshly fixed up and serviced, we just spent a lovely getaway to the lake over the weekend. Perry fished to his heart’s content (though I think I heard the fish laughing… we didn’t see ANYONE catch ANYTHING all weekend.)

The girls and I collected ladybugs and butterflies and played on a hidden beach.We had a picnic under an enormous oak tree on a field of grass. Flew a kite. Connected the dots with the stars, and woke up with the birdies. Idyllic? well, we were camping in a pop-out trailer. I did my best this time not to envy all of the lovlely, shiny new 5th wheels and Class Cs that were parked all around. Class As didn’t even bother to try camping where we were parked… So, social envy was curtailed in that arena.

We still love Lake Skinner – the best place close by, thus far, for a cheap weekend getaway – with no computer, no work, no bad days…

Let’s just say, we returned home with far less beer (and stress) than we hauled out with us. The girls are tan and happy, with some bandaid scars to share with their friends today at school. We spent last night finding many more places in and around SoCal to wander in our little tiny trailer. Can’t wait to see where we take it next!

What a week.

I found out on Wednesday night that I had tonsilitis. What adult gets tonsilitis? Me, apparently. At least it explains my ping-ponging fever, and why I could no longer swallow. Perry was sick last week, me this week, I’m praying the girls stay healthy.

I’m 50 pages from being done with my first pass at revisions – then it’s off to the next phase – the Editorial phase – of which I’ve never been on this side of the coin. Scary! exciting! I’m so ready. Reading all of these authors – these women on the Wild Rose Press message board – I can’t wait to say that my book is on the market.

I’m also toying with several ideas on stories for the White Rose Line. So, we’ll see what happens next. For today, I need to go play with Ellie. Rachel and Perry are doing the Dino Dad Day at school. Ellie needs some mommy time. If I can work in edge wise around Grandma. Ha!

Where do the ideas come from…?

I’m in a think tank meeting, and I was just realizing that I am one of those people. Those idea people who think, why not? Why can’t we do this? instead of that? And what’s more… Where do all of the great ideas come from?

I think that most great ideas must stem from people being ticked off in one way or another. Wondering why something doesn’t work as well as it should. Or why there isn’t a better way to do something. Quicker. Faster. Cheaper. Better. Or maybe that’s just me.

I’ve been thinking about agendas and organizing and planning, and really – I make fits and starts at it – but the question of the week is – what is your 5 year plan for writing?

That one has kept me up at night. So here’s the deal with my writing background. I have always written. I used to dictate to my mother and she would read me back my elaborate tales. I fabricated great stories about riding on fire engines, or seeing a gorilla jump up and down on a policeman. (Some call this fibbing or – lieing. I call it a stellar imagination.)

so, I’ve always written. Since I was a child and could put pencil to paper. When I hyphenated words after consanants. When I misspelled everything. Okay, so I still need to edit myself – but who’s asking. The point is, writers write. Because they have to. Because it is in their blood. Because they need to have that fix. Create that universe. Live in an alternate reality. It’s who we are.

So, my 5 year plan for my writing is – to be the best writer I can be. To never give up. To write as many stories as I can. Enter contests. Publish multiple titles in e-book and print. To hone my craft. And, to learn how to juggle the important things, and let the little things drop where they may.

I have a few quotes from the prolific Nora Roberts that really made me understand my craft. And what I need to do to get to the next five years.

(I’m paraphrasing – but this is what I remember from her interview…)

“Write. Write the best story you can. Write what you would want to read. Enjoy
your characters. If you don’t enjoy them, no one else will, either. Don’t play
favorites. And remember, there are 88 keys on the piano – and think of all of
the beautiful and different songs and types of music.”

(This is me again) Every story and character is a unique universe. And with regards to my process, I guess you could say that I write with my heart. I write what I have loved to read, or love to read now. Sometimes it’s historical. Sometimes it’s a mystery. Sometimes a thriller. But there is always a love story at the heart, because I’m a hopeless romantic. As my daughter Rachel reminded me the other day…

“Every story should start with Once upon a time and should end with …And they lived happily ever after…

We only have a limited amount of time on this earth – and personally if I read a book, I want to be entertained. To escape for awhile. To fall in love with a place. The sights. The smells. To miss them when I close the cover. And that, my friends, is how I want to write everything I pour my heart into.

Priorities!

Guess who was more excited to meet Jasmine and Aladin? Rachel or Me?
FYI:
Ellie is missing from Pic as she couldn’t stop climbing the Cave of Wonders, and had to be removed by her daddy – whom I am quite sure was bummed about not watching Jasmine. Look at her! I would have been bummed, too!

This morning, Rachel slept in and I spent some serious snuggle time with Ellie watching Dora. Then we wrote names on her Leap Frog clickstart computer. She’s learning how to use the mouse. She’s also digging the song I taught her to spell her name – what 2 year old can spell Elizabeth? Mine can. 🙂 So proud. Then Rachel came downstairs, hair looking more like Madeline Kahn after becoming Mrs. Frankenstein, asking when Grandma was coming. HOLY COW. My mother’s coming out this weekend. My house! Where’s the housekeeper! What about my rewrites????

Then I remembered. Priorities. First my immediate family. Then my extended family. Then the rest of my life (writing, work, etc. etc.). I’ve added a new plate into my juggling routine. I now have to write in order to remain accountable. BUT – suddenly, it’s all I want to do. BUT – therein exposes my need to prioritize. Daily. Hourly. By the minute. What the heck am I doing blogging right now, anyway?

Anyway, after a nice note from my editor, I’m able to breathe again. Did I mention how cool it is to write for TWRP? They are endlessly helpful, my fellow authors are enormously encouraging, and I feel I’m drinking from this well off creativity – so much I’m overflowing! However…

It’s impossible to maintain a certain level of excitement for an extended period of time. I’m also going to have to step back from the message boards so I can get something done today other than lurk. Ha. SO – this morning, I’m contemplating the questions that the moderator of our online author’s group asked of us. Namely:

  1. How does your main character feel about you?
  2. What position do your characters sleep in?
  3. Describe your story in under 25 words.

All challenging. I love this. So, I’m submitting my responses -and must go back to solving the world’s bibliographic problems! so that I can pick up my kids and take them to the park. Oh. And go to writer’s group tonight. Thank heaven for an understanding husband. If only I could find him underneath all of the laundry.