Wednesday, December 31, 2008

The Requisite New Year's Resolutions Post..

You guys had to know it was coming, right? Totally obvious and such a cliche, but how could I not post about my New Year's resolutions? Embarrassing, personal and probably way too much information to be putting out on the internet, there's just no way I could resist.

Anyways, I've got 5 big goals for 2009:

1. Lose 10 pounds before our big trip to the Bahamas. Sadly, I think I've had this same resolution since I turned 15 and I don't think I've ever actually met my goal, which is probably the reason I make it over and over and over again. I did come close one year, but it involved Tara and I existing solely on eggs and oatmeal and doing Tae Bo twice a day in our dorm room. Not fun. Anyways, really I just want to get back in the habit of hitting the gym 5 times a week and eating healthy, portion-controlled meals. That's a resolution I know I can keep. Whether or not it leads to me losing 10 pounds remains to be seen, but it sure would be nice.

2. Complete G-Mail (the working title of our new book) and make it so fabulous and gripping that agents/editors will be begging to work with us. We have a great outline, have just begun writing the first few chapters, and so far so good. We've got a lot of work ahead of us, but it's so exciting to be writing again, especially since it really is a great story.

3. Be more patient with the kiddies. I'm horribly, horribly impatient. Especially when it comes to 3-year olds. Jack and I are constantly butting heads and now that Mia's favorite words are "NO MOMMY!" I'm hoping that I can turn over a new leaf in the New Year and be that wonderful, patient, laid back mom that I've always dreamed of being. Hmm, maybe some Xanax would help? Seriously, I bet most of those laid back moms are heavily medicated. How else can one deal with a screaming hitting 3-year-old without screaming right back at them? Note to self, schedule dr's appt ASAP.

4. Go to bed before midnight every single night. I am so bad about staying up too late at night and I have a feeling that not enough sleep makes me a little crabby (and thus impatient...), so my goal is to get my butt in bed before midnight every night.

5. Appreciate my life every single day. I'm so incredibly lucky. I have an amazing family, friends, a job that pays well and allows me the flexibility to write and spend loads of time with the kids. Everyone is healthy and happy and gainfully employed (for the time being) and I want to appreciate every single second of it. Unfortunately, we've all learned that life can change on a dime, so this year, while things are good, I don't want to take a single thing for granted.

Well, those are my big resolutions for 2009, and I'm hopeful that it's going to be a good year for everyone. A new book for Laura and me, a new president for our country, and a fresh start for all of us. What are your goals for the next year? Whatever your resolutions may be, hope you have a safe and Happy New Year!

Monday, December 29, 2008

Bad books...

I'm an avid reader and will read pretty much anything. There aren't many times where I've put down a book and been irritated that I actually wasted time reading. If you read my rave review of The Luxe, you probably came to the accurate conclusion that my literary standards aren't all that high. I'm not a reader that's constantly analyzing the usage of adverbs or nitpicking over little inaccuracies in the setting. I read for entertainment. I read to learn. And I read to see how different writers use language to engage readers and tell their stories. It's rare that I can't find something of merit in a book, but unfortunately, I really don't have anything nice to say about the book I just finished.

It was really pretty awful. I'll admit that I couldn't put the damn thing down because I had to know if it was going to end the way I suspected (it did), but after I read the last page I was so annoyed. I hated the characters and the plot was sort of lame, it all just sort of fell flat and felt very disjointed. The book was produced by our favorite book packaging juggernaut, Alloy Entertainment. It's actually really interesting because I can't find any information on the author on-line, perhaps it's a pen name? Or maybe it was written by several writers staffed by Alloy? I'm not familiar enough with how the business model works when a book packager is involved, but I find it extremely interesting, especially since some of my fave YA series have been produced by Alloy. I finally ended up on Amazon to see what other readers thought and it had a respectable 4 stars from 21 reviewers. Interesting.

I guess the moral of the story is that every reader connects with books differently. Honestly, it makes me feel better about our search for an agent because sometimes the old standby rejection of "not for me" really does mean it's just not for them. We've had a pretty interesting mix of agents who loved our work and wanted to see more and others who just didn't connect with the writing. Let's hope there's an agent out there who thinks it's perfect. Of course since we're in the middle of holiday limbo, I suppose that's TBD.

So, you tell me, what's the worst book you've ever read? Or maybe just one you thought was completely overrated. I know Laura loves The Red Tent, and I was just kind of "meh" on the whole thing. I love that everyone reads books a little bit differently and the potential discussions that result. Ooh, just remembered the book club meeting that I attended where everyone LOVED One-Thousand White Women and I absolutely hated it. That was fun.

5 Things I've learned so far on my winter vacation...

  1. I really, really don't like my job that much. Amazing how a couple weeks off work can demonstrate how tedious and truly irrelevant my work really is. Depressing.
  2. It's possible not to have a huge fight with my husband on Christmas. Over the past few years we have had one huge, knock-down, drag-out fight at some point over the Christmas festivities. It's really kind of inevitable given that over the course of 72-hours we attend over 4 family functions, survive an hour of church usually spent wrangling children and getting dirty looks from fellow parishioners, and on top of all that, we're usually completely sleep deprived because one or both children have some nasty illness that keeps them up all night. Usually we end up fighting about something ridiculously stupid, the kind of fight where you can't even remember exactly why it started, but for whatever reason you're willing to say hateful things to ensure that you destroy your opponent/spouse. Last year's round memorably ended in Ken screaming "Way to go, you just ruined Christmas!" Good times. Anyways, this year we actually made it through December 23-26 completely fight-free. Trust me when I say, this is a true Christmas miracle.
  3. Writing is hard. We have officially started book #2, and it's really, really scary to stare at a blank MS word document and realize that we have to somehow fill it with 60 - 70,000 words. There's that little voice taunting me in the back of my head asking, "Do you really think you can do this again?" But we've started and we ARE doing it again. So, what do you think, are we completely crazy or just tenacious? Feel free to opine away in the comments.
  4. Our new book is GOOD. Well, not to sound totally cocky or anything, and I realize that I'm totally getting ahead of myself, but I have to say that this book is going to be unbelievable. We decided to go with our mystery idea and at this point we've roughly laid out our plot, sketched out our main characters and we're just beginning our uber detailed outline. I can't wait to see how it all plays out once we really start writing because the concept is pretty fun and twisty. I'm dying to post the first couple paragraphs we've written on here, but I don't want to give too much away. Maybe we'll post some excerpts once we're further in.
  5. I really miss tv. There's absolutely nothing on tv right now, although I should probably be grateful because based on this winter television premier schedule, watching tv is going to be like a part-time job for me come January. I actually have no idea how I'm going to balance work, writing and my tv addiction. I seriously might not have time to sleep.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

The Case of the Commentless Blog...

It's no secret that I'm a little obsessed with our blog. Between you and me, I have been spending the past 3 years looking for an excuse to blog and thankfully the book provided me with the perfect reason to start a blog of our very own. You see, I follow many blogs religiously, and I love them all. I love the random blogs where people post pictures of their kids and pets with captions. (No link for this one to protect the innocent, but you know who you are.) I love blogs about cooking. I love blogs about writing. I love blogs about reading. And I especially love catty blogs.

I realize that our readership is, ahem, limited, but those of you who do read, you should know that I love reading your comments. It's no fun to post things and have no one respond to them, so most of the time I just assume that the post was lame, which actually might be a safe assumption now that I'm thinking about it.

Anyways, I want to announce that I've enabled the anonymous commenting function, so now anyone just lurking around can comment without fear. Tell us to stop talking about ourselves! Tell us that our book sucks! Tell us that you're dying to be our agent, but are just too scared of rejection to actually ask! Tell us that you decided to call child services based on our lackadaisical approach to child rearing! Well, that last one definitely applies more to me than it does to Laura, but you get the idea. You can say whatever you want and we'll have no idea who you are. We'd love to hear from you and what you'd like to see more of on our little blog.

So..seriously, start commenting.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Skinny jeans!?

A quick update before the Christmas festivities continue, the box has been opened and it contained a sparkly shirt and a pair of skinny jeans. To be fair, this outfit would look amazing on Heidi Klum. As for moi, I look like a sparkly sausage. Very, very cute that he tried and actually quite flattering that he thinks I'd look good in such an ensemble. Thankfully, Nordstrom's fabulous return policy will allow me to exchange the items at my leisure, so I can buy the perfect pair of jeans after my post-holiday diet is complete.

Note to self: Do NOT let the pushy sales person talk you into trying on skinny jeans. It really doesn't do much for the self-esteem. Yes, they are tres chic, but when you're 5'3 and weigh over (ok, fine, full disclosure, WELL over) 100 pounds, it just isn't a good idea. Trust me.

Hope Santa was good to everyone! My kids are sick and completely delirious from lack of sleep and over-stimulation, but it's really not Christmas unless someone's on Ammoxacillin and you're perpetually threatening that Santa does indeed take toys back from little boys and girls who don't listen, right? Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

We have a busy couple of days planned with family, so posting on the old blog will be somewhat scattered. Of course, there will be an update on Present Watch 2008, as I'm sure that readers everywhere are on the edge of their seat waiting to hear what horror awaits me in that box.

Anyways, thank you for following our journey into the publishing world over the past few months. Hopefully 2009 will bring us lots of exciting news to report, and just remember that when we crack the NYT bestsellers list, you can tell all your friends "Oh them? Yeah, they're pretty funny. I've been reading their blog for years!" Hmm...well, hopefully not years, but you know, a really long time.

Need a handyman?

I know this guy who is dirt cheap. He even works holidays and entertains the kids while he's working. And he does EVERYTHING. Plumbing, drywall, locksmith repairs, mailbox installation, appliance issues, you name it, this guy will take a look at it, and, get this, he works for free!

What's that you say? You'd like his name and number? Sorry, no can do. This guy only answers to Dad and Grandpa, and unless you're blood related, chances are he's not going to be willing to help. Did I mention that he also provides his barber services free-of-charge? Fantastic!

Thanks for all of your help, Dad!

Monday, December 22, 2008

Present Watch 2008...

Ok, for those of you who ready my original post about Ken's track record with Christmas gifts (short version: he's terrible), I've got a little update for you. And just let me preface this by saying that I'm so lucky that he cares enough to try and I know it's the thought that counts, but I can tell already that this is not going to go well. I hate the idea of hurting his feelings, but I also hate the idea of wasting money on something I'll never wear.

Anyways, he pulled the "I have to run errands" excuse after work tonight and came home with a large Nordstrom box. It's relatively heavy and I think it's apparel of some sort. I have serious anxiety over what the box holds. Another corduroy pants suit? A XXL sweater? An inordinately heavy scarf? Seriously, what could it be? The worst part is that I'm a HUGE bargain shopper and I have no doubt in my mind that Ken completely skipped the massive sales. I can just picture him in the store wandering around and identifying something he thinks I would wear, discussing it briefly with a 65-year-old sales woman (who ALWAYS slips her card into the gift box, as if anyone would want to take credit for these gifts. Or maybe she knows that I'm going to return it and wants to help me pick out something new? It's mind boggling.).

I'm so tempted to peek, but I'm not really sure I want to know what's in there. It's like my own personal Pandora's box.

So what do you think? Is forewarned forearmed? Or am I better off being surprised by whatever is lurking inside that box?

I am NOT a morning person...

So you might be wondering what exactly I'm doing writing this post at 6:55 AM when everyone else in my house is still sound asleep. Truth is, I've actually been up since 6 AM and I just now finally gave up on getting back to sleep and came downstairs to fire up the computer.

I'm usually your quintessential night person. I can stay up until 2 AM writing or reading or watching trashy tv and sleep until 10 the next day. Of course 3-year-olds don't usually sleep until 10 in the morning, so I'm pretty much always a little sleep deprived. Fortunately, I'm very creative and Jack is a total couch potato, so I've developed a few different ways of dealing with this issue. Mia can usually be counted on to sleep in until 8:30 or 9, while Jack is usually up by 7:30 at the latest. Typically, I can coerce him into watching cartoons in bed with me or sitting quietly downstairs watching his shows and eating dry cereal while I sleep just a little bit longer. Don't judge. I swear that the extra hour of sleep makes me a better mom.

Anyways, the point is I'm up WAY too early today and it's all because of the book we've just started. I'm a little obsessed and I can't stop thinking about it. I honestly hate it when authors say things like "Oy, my characters are keeping me up at night!" or "I had so many ideas that I just had to get out of bed and start writing." It's just such a cliche. I mean, really, if you have voices in your head keeping you up at night then you have bigger problems to solve than getting a few extra hours of sleep.

And yet, here I am, a walking, soon-to-be sleep deprived cliche. It's embarrassing. All I have to say is that this book had better be good.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Remembering...

So, there are a few things you should know about me in my pre-teen/teen years. The fact that I was hideously awkward goes without saying, but there are certain moments that will always stand out as my most hideous and most awkward and because it is the season of giving, I'm going to share a few of them with you, if only to make you feel a little better about yourself.

1. I was in 3rd grade and had just tested into the gifted reading program, so I was feeling pretty sweet. Seriously, could I be more nerdy? Anyways, I was walking to lunch thinking about how smart and cool I was when my eternal nemesis and sometimes dance partner, Mike, turned toward me and said "Nice stache Lisa!" Well, sadly all of that advanced SRA reading which had managed to get me into gifted reading did not include anything about "staches," and it took me a good week to figure out that dear Michael was referencing my moustache. Ouch. Stupid Italian genes. I swore that I'd get back at him by totally messing up our big performance of the hop at the school choir concert, but I chickened out. Of course, I should really be thanking Mike because that seminal life-moment lead me to discover Jolene Bleach, and really, thank god for that.

2. I was in 7th grade. I had a HUGE crush on this skinny kid named Joe. I thought he was so cute, but I probably weighed more than he did and thus it was never meant to be. Anyways, we were all at some basketball game, the details are a little hazy, but I remember sitting precisely one row below him in the bleachers with my BFF (who really didn't turn out to be much of a friend, for the record. I mean who lets a friend talk to a hot boy with...well, keep reading and you'll see what I mean). In a moment of unprecedented courage, I turned back to strike up some awkward conversation and he and his ever-present sidekick, Mike, (yeah, did I mention that he was best buds with the same bastard that called out my moustache just a few years ago? Well, he was.) just started dying laughing. He was seriously unable to control himself. Just laughing and laughing and I just kept saying "what?" and looking awkwardly around. Joe was kinder than most middle school boys and politely pointed out that I had the hugest booger EVER hanging right outside of my nose. Ouch. My chances of making out with Joe were officially put on life support that day. Shocking, I know. Mustaches and boogers, who could possibly resist?

3. I had my first real boyfriend, and ahem, this is the guy I actually ended up marrying. Yeah, I know it's a little weird. Anyways, we were totally in love and of course took every opportunity to make out in privacy, which usually lead us to any and every available basement in the greater-Cleveland area. During one particularly steamy make-out session following a viewing of Teen Wolf (because if Teen Wolf doesn't get you going, what will?), we were rudely interrupted by my future husband's younger brother. Umm..did I mention that his younger brother was the same guy who first identified my stache and called me out on having the biggest booger of my young life? The one, the only, Mike. Anyways, he proceeds to plop himself down on a huge armchair in the basement, whip a 40 oz beer out of his shirt and turn on some porn. He didn't even notice us. Once we had pulled ourselves together, Ken started yelling at him and Mike started laughing and then we all ended up laughing because Mike was drunk and he had totally caught us in a compromising position and it was really sort of hilarious.

The point of all of this is that I was totally lame growing up. Obviously. And Mike was really, really cool. Much cooler than I could ever aspire to be. The life of every party, the best man in our wedding; he had a heart of gold and a nose for trouble.

December 19th will always be a sad day for me, because it's the day we lost Mike. 5 years ago today. Some things you just never get over.

I miss you, Mike.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Trainwreck Alert...



Last night I was oh-so-innocently watching the Biggest Loser Finale, (For the record, I only watch the last episode. It's like one really long and very dramatic episode of What Not to Wear, who can resist?) and simultaneously doing some mindless work in Excel. I was only half watching as the episode ended, and suddenly the air waves were taken over by blonde bimbos discussing the distracting qualities of their breasts and mothers with some sort of reverse oedipal complex (I'd call it pedophilia, but that seems a little harsh). Naturally, my spreadsheet was completely forgotten and I was totally sucked in by the absolutely mesmerizing trash that is "Momma's Boys."

I'm really not even sure where to begin. The premise of the show is that 3 boys and their overly attached mothers live with 32 single girls in an attempt to set the boys up with the girl of mommy's dreams. The reality is heinously disturbing yet hilariously watchable. 50% of the girls are every mom's wet dream, while the other half are basically porn stars. It's awesome.

Some observations:

  • Meet America's new sweetheart, Megan. She is this cute little wallflower with ginourmous glasses who works at an animal shelter and doesn't spend as much time with humans as she should. She's a virgin and she spent the bulk of the first episode cleaning up after the rest of her hades bound housemates. Love her.
  • Uh..not sure what this chick's name is, so let's just call her seizure girl. She has a strange passion for lingerie and she's some type of signer/model. She actually writes her own songs and composed a little ditty on the spot for the camera and as she sang she looked like she was having a seizure (hence the name...). Actually, the truth is there were lots of times she looked like she was seizing....singing, crying (yeah, she already cried in the first episode), laughing and even just in general conversation. I think she might be on some type of herbal speed.
  • One mother admitted to calling her son on her cell phone over 100 times. Wow. The only mom admission that was more shocking, was the racist mom who told the cameras that she wants her son to settle down with a nice white girl. No Blacks, Jews, or Asians need apply. Yowsa.
  • One contestant admitted to spending time in jail, but don't worry, she was a non-violent offender. Phew! P.S. Note to Oprah, these people are supposedly living right down the street from you. Might be time to do some security upgrades, kay?
  • In one of the scariest interviews of the night, one of the non-hot contestants wondered if the momma's boys had any balls, as she herself has "cantaloupe-sized, stainless-steel balls, metaphorically speaking." Guess you have to at least give her points for not only knowing the word metaphorically, but also being able to use it accurately in a sentence. Well-played scary, feminist girl.
  • And then we've got Michelle, a career spokes model with two boobjobs under her belt. She paid for the second one using her student loan money. Smart!
  • And the Thank-God for the Instant Replay Button on my TiVo Remote award goes to one of the contestants who claims she's 21, but then gets all teary eyed talking about her 10-year-old son. WHAT? Is she really bad at basic math or did she actually have a child at 11? Honestly, not sure which is worse. I replayed this moment no less than 10 times just to make sure I heard her right. Shocking.

The episode ended with racist mom being accosted by one of the black contestants. It really is unbelievable that there are people who still feel this way in this day and age, I mean we're going to have a black president in a month for god's sake!

Regardless, lots of drama, lots of unintentional comedy, Momma's Boys already earned itself a season pass from yours truly. Do yourself a favor and tune in.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Good news/Bad news

Bad News...my eyebrows. They are an ungodly mess right now. I look like Peter Gallagher. Here's the deal, it never fails, on an annual basis my hair stylist always manages to convince me that I need to stop plucking my brows and rely solely on waxing. This time around, she also threw in some random fact about hair taking one month to complete a "growth cycle." She probably made it up on the spot just to keep me coming back for more, but I totally bought it. Bear in mind, I'm Italian people, and I haven't touched my eyebrows since November 24th. It ain't pretty.
Good News....I've got a hair appointment Monday. Thank god. At least I won't have to suffer through Christmas with brows that rival Santa's. AND I'm totally going back to brown hair with caramel highlights. Life as a red head has been fun, but I'm over it. No one should have hair that matches maroon Christmas stockings.

Bad News...Christmas cards. Yeah, yeah, bah-humbug. I hate Christmas cards. Don't get me wrong, I enjoy receiving them, but I HATE sending them. All that writing and addressing. And plus, my cards never look as cute as all the other cards I get in the mail. (And yes, I'm talking about you Tara. Damn you and your chic Christmas cards. DAMN YOU. ) I always end up with wicked Christmas card envy, and I don't do well with envy.
Good News...Christmas carols. Jack LOVES singing Christmas songs. He calls them Jingle Bells, as in "Mommy, I learned a new jingle bell today, you want to hear it?" You haven't lived until you've heard a three year-old perform his own medley of Jingle Bells, London Bridges, We Wish You a Merry Christmas and Santa Clause is Coming to Town. Hilarious.

Bad News...sick kids. The kids are dripping, snivelly, clingy, whiney, non-sleeping nightmares right now. AND they're preventing me from doing anything except sit around on my butt all day. It's been over a week since we've been to the gym because I can't take the little sickies anywhere without getting the "you're the worst mother in the world for bringing sick kids out in this weather and possibly infecting other kids" look. So yeah, not only do I have brows like Benicio Del Torro, but I probably weigh about the same as he does. Ouch.
Good News...vacation baby! Ken and I are going to the Bahamas with loyal blog reader, Tara, and her husband at the end of February. There is nothing like an upcoming vacation to whip me back into shape. I'm going on a MAJOR diet post New Years. Yeah, it's a total cliche, but whatever. I've got to squeeze back into my summer clothes and it's going to take drastic measures to make that happen.

Bad News...indecisiveness. We still haven't decided which book to start post New Years. We keep debating, deciding, second guessing and then debating some more. We LOVE both of our ideas, but we want to write something that's marketable. Decisions, decisions...
Good News....at least we have ideas. I guess I should be grateful that we've got a few ideas rattling around at this point. I guess I'm just anxious to start writing again. Querying is fun (and consuming) but writing is much more fulfilling, especially with a partner like Laura. And I'm going to be honest, I'm not a big writing for the sake of writing type gal. I want to see all of our hard work pay off. I want to hold a published copy of our book in our hands dammit. So, it's back to the grindstone girlies!

Monday, December 15, 2008

This might be the funniest thing I've ever seen..



Ever.

Ok, so I know I'm supposed to be off The Hills, but Gossip Girl was a repeat, don't judge. Anyways, I happened to stumble across this little gem of a show on MTV entitled "The Hills: Spoof'd." Don't you just love it how MTV always adds that random apostrophe to keep things fresh for America's youth who apparently loathe shows with titles that are spelled correctly? Anyways, I digress...

If you do one thing tonight, click on this and watch it in it's entirety. I beg you.

If you're not convinced by my impassioned begging and need further details here is everything you have to know:
  • There is an Apocalypse
  • All cast members of the Hills survive
  • Survivors run around fleeing for their lives, trying survive in a post-apocalyptic wasteland
  • Audrina manages to snag an outlaw named Lord Humongous
  • Lauren is devastated, yet somehow ends up being set up with his "bro", Berzerker
  • Heidi sings a song called "Body Business"
  • And Spencer raps

Funniest moment has to be when random survivor guy screams "GET OUT OF THE CLUB! THERE IS NO FUTURE IN THE CLUB." I almost peed my pants.

Now stop reading my lame-ass blog and go watch this staggering work of genius. Seriously.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Saturday morning randomness...

  • Ok, big leap last night. I actually posted my picture on The Facebook. Terrifying, right? I have like 3 friends. It's sort of pathetic, but people kept yelling at me to give it a shot, so......already some tres random people have come out of the woodwork. Should be interesting.
  • Note to my secret BFF, Ms. Aniston. Uh, put some clothes on. Seriously. You look amazing, but that's a lot o' skin, lady.
  • And Anne Hathaway. I love you. Please eat something, and yes, I mean something aside from Diet Coke, air and fumes of Chanel No. 5. You look really, really hungry.
  • Love the Fug Girls, but I think they sort of missed the boat with this pic of Audrina and Tori Spelling. Mainly, what the hell happened to Audrina's face? I mean, don't get me wrong, she looks good, but different. Almost like a young Angie Harmon, no? I think it might be something in the chin area, but would love to a second or third opinion...

That's all I've got, and really you should be impressed because I was up until 2 am reading Pretties, the sequel to Uglies. Should have a post reviewing both books soon. Of course, Mia is sick and crabby and Jack is instigating (as usual), Ken has to study for an accounting final and I'm getting the feeling that it's going to be a lllloooooonnnnngggggg Saturday over here.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

All I want for Christmas...

So, those of you who know me, know that my dear husband has a horrible track record when it comes to giving gifts. His heart is always in the right place and he really does try to pick out things he thinks I'll like, but it's inevitably all wrong.

Here's a little Christmas gift timeline for you.
  • 1995 - This is the first Christmas we were dating and I was 16-years-old. I got a HUGE bottle of Eternity perfume and a plaid Gap button down. Size Men's Large. Yeah, just for the record, I'm 5'3. The sad reality is that this actually one of his better Christmas gifts. I actually liked the perfume and let's face it, the grunge look was totally in, so a ginourmous shirt wasn't that horrible. Although I think I might actually have returned it. It was THAT big.
  • 1996 - An opal ring. At the time I totally loved this gift. Opal was my birthstone and he got me one of those cheesy rings from Alvin's Jewelers in 14K gold with some itty-bitty diamonds on the side. In my 17-year-old mind it was the epitome of style and class. Unfortunately my tastes have evolved over the years and I just had my mom liquidate the thing at one of those gold parties where they pay you for your old gold jewelry. Yeah, I'm not exactly the sentimental type and I made $189! Of course that included the opal earrings he got me too. And the heinous heart shaped diamond necklace. In my defense, I saved the bracelet, ok?
  • 1997 - Now this is the year things really started to go downhill. I'll never forget Ken coming over on Christmas morning with a huge garment bag with the words "Petite Sophisticate" emblazoned across it. I remember thinking, well at least he's realized I'm a small person and then I opened it. "It" was a pair of brown corduroy pants, completely tapered at the ankle, yet loose through the hips and thighs. I think they used to call this a relaxed fit back in the day. They looked a little bit like textured, brown, Hammer pants and they were practically guaranteed to add about 20 pounds. Sexy! There was also a matching corduroy, brown blazer that hit at about mid-thigh, last seen in the closets of substitute teachers across the country. To top off this dung-colored ensemble, he had purchased an over-sized brown, striped, button down shirt and a pair of matching brown socks. After Ken left I tried the whole outfit on for the fam and Laura and Stacey almost peed their pants.
  • 1998 - 2005 - These years are all sort of a blur. I think there was a cashmere sweater somewhere in there that I actually liked. Oh and who could forget the cooking lessons! That was the first year we were married. My husband gave me cooking lessons for Christmas, ouch.
  • 2005 - This was Jack's first Christmas, so my first official Christmas as a mom, and what do I find under the tree? A Victoria's Secret, hot pink, velour sweat suit with the word "Sexy" emblazoned across the butt in rhinestones. Can't you just picture me showing up at playgroup in that get-up? Hilarious. TGFGR. (Thank God For Gift Receipts)
  • 2006 - A cashmere poncho. Fuschia. Returned at Nordstrom's the very next day.
  • 2007 - Umm..can't remember. But I'm sure I returned it. He got me a barn jacket for my 30th birthday, so that should give you an indication of what his gift must have been like. Not good.
  • 2008 - TBD. I can't wait to see what he comes up with this year. If I was picking out my own gift there would be one of these or maybe these and if I was really lucky one of THESE underneath my Christmas Tree. But I know Ken, and I'm not holding my breath.

The truth is holidays are actually more fun this way. I never know what I'm going to unwrap Christmas morning, and you know what? That's just the way I like it.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

First paragraph, are you hooked?

So, this crazy literary agent with an uber popular blog is holding a contest for the best first paragraph of any completed manuscript or work-in-progress. And in case you're wondering why I call him crazy, it's because so far the entries are up to 1,115 and people can enter through 4 PST tomorrow. Insanity.

Anyways, I may or may not have entered us without Laura's permission. Hey, it's worth a shot right? The North Shore might not be his style, but I'm sure our amazing writing will have him completely hooked. Regardless, it's sort of fascinating to skim through the entries. So many different wannabe authors out there trying to achieve their dreams of getting published. My personal favorite had Jesus making his grande entrance while smoking a joint. Fantastic! Perhaps they'll start making WWJD bracelets out of hemp if the book gets published. You seriously can't make this stuff up.

Anyways, in case you're interested, our entry, the current first paragraph of The North Shore:

Regardless of what you read in those tabloid magazines you devour religiously each week, being a socialite is hard work. There are the bi-weekly highlights, daily meetings with your stylist, conference calls with your PR rep, and, of course, lunches with your agent. Well, I suppose the agent is more of a celebutante thing, but you get my drift - you can’t half-ass it. Perfection isn’t an aspiration, it’s a job requirement and you have to be prepared to work for it. Lucky for you, I know all the tricks, and I’ll share a few of my secrets with you. But fair warning, I move fast and you have lots to learn, so pay attention.
--The Modern Socialite’s Handbook

So tell me, dear readers, does our first paragraph hook you? We'll know Nathan Bransford's opinion come Friday when he posts the finalists.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Give the guy a Chucking Emmy...




Bravo, Gossip Girl writers. Bravo. This week's episode was so unbelievably good that I almost gave a solo standing ovation in my living room, but then I realized that would officially qualify me as some type of unhinged stalker-fan, so I sat my ass back down.

First off, Ed Westwick can ACT. Seriously, he should get an Emmy for his performance in this episode. I have to say I was a little surprised, but he did a phenomenal job. I think the best quote of the night was when Blaire told Chuck that she loved him and he responded:

"Well, that's too bad."

Nobody does self-destructive playboy in pain like Chuck Bass. Nobody.

Other random thoughts:
  • Love Blaire's relationship with Cyrus. Seriously, adorable. She needs hugs and is turning into an overbearing Jewish mother. I love.
  • Serena had to be kidding when she showed up to breakfast wearing that black nightie. Who does that? I honestly can't imagine walking around a penthouse wearing next-to-nothing to sit down to breakfast with my grandmother to eat some type of tuna tartar parfait. On second thought, the nightie actually isn't the most unrealistic part of that scenario, but still...
  • When Chuck showed up in Blaire's room I cried. I'll admit it. If you didn't tear up just a little bit you're heartless, ok? I can't help it that I'm a sappy romantic at heart.
  • Does Rufus really have to bring his guitar everywhere with him. I almost peed my pants when I saw him packing that bad boy for his little trip with Lilly. He's a former rock star, we get it. Please don't force us to sit through any more scenes of him playing his guitar and singing by himself in his apartment. It's just creepy.
Do we really have to wait until January 5th for the next episode? I'm not sure what's more upseting, the wait for a new Gossip Girl or the fact that 90210 is a repeat AGAIN tonight. Note to C-dubs, I rely on you for sub-par television every week. Based on the quality of most of these shows, I'm guessing it doesn't take much time or effort to crank out a new episode of 90210, so get off your asses already. You can't seriously expect me to watch the creepy drama girl go to rehab AGAIN.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Sunday Night Status check...

Status of my TiVo: Finally back under control after being completely out of space as of Friday. I have to say I enjoyed catching up on all of my shows over the weekend. Best line of tv this week,"Hold on to your daddies girls because here comes Gretchen!" Thank you Tamra from Real Housewives of Orange County. You are truly a national treasure.

Status of my Christmas shopping: Almost done! Just a few more gifts to purchase. We even got the Christmas tree up AND ordered our Christmas cards tonight. Impressed?

Status of my credit cards: More fraud! Someone just charged almost $3,000 on a card I never use for Franklin Covey planners. Seriously, how random is that? Who even uses Franklin Planners anymore? That feels so 1985 to me. Shocking. I actually used to work with the guy who invented the fraud detection system that most credit card companies use. I think I need to send him a thank you note.

Status of the kids: Jack and Mia are both awake and not happy. Jack is sick. Mia is just mommy obsessed. Not good.

Status of my bookshelf: I'm almost done with Uglies and it's good. Definitely not a book that I would normally read, but well written and creative. More on that when I finish.

Status of SNL: Still funny. Andy Samberg's song this week was hilarious, but I can't go into details, because this blog is way too PG. Also loved the random commercial about the woman who would deliver your mail on her horse, but then gave a PO Box for you to send it to. Totally cracked me up. Who even thinks of this stuff? If everyone was this funny when stoned out of their gourds, then I would totally vote to legalize pot.

Status of The Hills: It's official. I'm off The Hills. I just can't do it anymore. I tried, but Audrina's wonky eyes finally did me in. Does this mean I'm finally maturing or was I the last person watching this pathetic excuse for television?

Status of our inbox: Empty, but hey, it's still technically the weekend, so I suppose that's to be expected. Maybe some good news this week?? We'll see.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

So long Baltimore...

It's official. I'm a Clevelander once again. Although actually, I'm not sure how official the move is considering we are shacking up with my parents until we find a house. I feel like I'm in high school again (if I ignore the fact that I'm married with a baby)--even more so after my mom "joked" about ground rules. But even if there are new rules to get used to (again), I'm still super excited to be back for a bunch of reasons. I'll list three.

1. Close proximity to family. This is fabulous for lots of reasons. First of all, Lydia will grow up around family and you can't beat that. Second, John and I might actually be able to leave the house together after 7 p.m. because we have some willing babysitters. Nice. And third, I don't have to feel sad anymore when I am the only one missing at a gathering. I live at the gathering place, so take that Lisa and Stacey.

2. Close proximity to my writing partner. I would say, "yay, no more emails," but I would be lying. I've only been back a couple days, and we've still emailed back and forth at least 10 times. And I should say, "yay, no more 24 hour + phone conversations in a month," but I would be lying again. Baltimore, Cleveland, it doesn't really matter where I am. Lisa and I will still sit on the phone listening to the other person breath while we type, read, or just be.

3. Close proximity to "The Greatest Lake," and by that I mean Lake Erie (sorry Mary). It's no Eastern Shore, but it's still a pretty sweet body of water if you forget that it once caught on fire.

So...it's good to be home. And it will feel even better when Lisa and I can celebrate in person when we get an agent this week (just putting some positive energy out there :)

Friday, December 5, 2008

Blog Guiltitis: the strange and irrational avoidance of your blog when you haven't posted as regularly as you should

Yeah, I've got a raging case of blog guiltitis. I've got all the usual symptoms, fear of blogger.com, extreme fatigue, dreams of angry commenters. Anyways, phase 1 of my treatment requires a long blog post to control guilt levels, so here we go.

I'm so sorry I've been a terrible blogger this week. Just to put things in perspective, I haven't even had time to watch The Real Housewives of Orange County yet and it aired on Tuesday! You know it's busy when I don't even have time for trashy tv on Bravo. There are many forces, both good and evil, that have conspired to keep me away from the blog this week. Just to give you an idea of what we're dealing with over here...

Work: It's annoying and busy. Worst combination ever. Of course, I have a job that pays me actual money. So that's a good thing, especially given all of the recent news about layoffs and etc. Let's call this one a draw.

Mia discovering books: Ok, Mia has always LOVED to read, well technically she loves to be read to. Over the past week her love of books has turned into something of an obsession. She's constantly running up to me with a book and crawling into my lap to read. Unfortunately, there is not enough room for my laptop and Mia in my lap, and in spite of some of my questionable mothering tactics as discussed in graphic detail in previous posts, Mia always wins. I love that she's taking after me and loving books. Jack is much more of a couch potato. He loves books, but he also loves tv, so technically I guess he REALLY takes after his mother.

Burberry coats at discount prices: Ok, so I love shopping and I especially love shopping when I'm getting a good deal. They just opened up a Nordstrom Rack dangerously close to our house and I happen to be there looking for some new shoes for Mia (they have fab kid's shoes there) and what do I spy, but an entire rack of fabulous Burberry down coats at a really, really good price. So, not only do I buy myself a coat, but I also had to broadcast the sale to friends and family essentially ensuring that I, and everyone I know this winter, will all be wearing the same coat. The sales people at Nordstrom Rack officially think I'm crazy. I've been in there 3 times buying coats for three different people, sometimes they were on hold under different names. Totally random and time consuming. They probably think I'm running a Burberry racketeering ring or something.

Laura moved back to Cleveland: That's right, you heard it here first. Laura is not only back in C-town, she's also living with my parents. Good luck with that, Laur. Her husband got a fabulous job and they're currently looking for houses, so they won't be hanging out with Mike and Joni indefinitely, but I'm sure we'll be getting some good stories out of this whole situation. So fun to have my writing partner in the same city!

More book edits: Inspiration struck, and we've made a little tweak that has a major impact. AND we had some very interesting requests in the meantime. SO...we're still waiting, but at least we've been actively waiting this week, if that makes sense. Lots of exciting stuff happening, so we're just hopeful that something will come of all this. TBD.

A crazy weekend: I'd love to promise you guys that you'd have lots of fun posts to look forward to over the weekend as I get myself caught up on all the stuff I missed this week, but we've got a really busy weekend ahead of us. We have friends coming in town to visit, so we're actually going out sans kiddies. Too fun! Also have a kiddie b-day party on Sunday and a kiddie trunk show on Saturday. A little random, but what-ev. Adventures in suburbia, never a dull moment. Or actually maybe it's adventures in suburbia one really really long dull moment. I'll let you know post-weekend.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

A mini-blog, because I'm mega tired...

We had some encouraging news come in today, so we're a little bit excited over here. We'll be sure to post any actual updates on agent quest 2008, but while things are moving slowly, they're definitely moving, so that's good. I think I need to start building up my patience levels if I'm going to continue writing.

Anyways, just had to share this link of the Top 11 Lamest Blogs. I love it not only because it's a Top 11 list, but also because it's sort of hilarious and random. Well, and it's also nice that our blog wasn't on there. Actually, that might have been kind of cool, right?

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Un-Chucking-believable

I want to take a moment and thank Alloy Entertainment for providing us with weekly installments of Gossip Girl and, most importantly, Chuck Bass. Although, I have to admit that Serena's boobs gave Chuck a run for his money this week. Have you seen them? They're fantastic. Seriously.

Anyways, it's good to know that I can always rely on Chuck Bass to distract me enough to forget about our heinously empty inbox for 47 glorious commercial-free minutes. The only other option I have for inducing some level of inbox amnesia involves a large spoon and a pint of Edy's Slow Churned ice cream, so thanks again Alloy Entertainment. My ass really does not need the extra calories at this point.

As usual, there was much to love about Chuck Bass this week. His commentary on oral fixations, attempting to win DeRhoda in a bet and, of course, his sparkly tux. Fabulous. But my favorite line of the night had to be:

"Sandbox rules: I'll show you mine if you show me yours," after Blair demanded to see the blind date Chuck had procured for her. Well played, Mr. Bass, as always.

Ok, must get back to obsessing about whether our e-mail is actually working or maybe I'll just skip that and go straight for the Moose Tracks. Lesser of two evils.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Got a case of the Mondays?

For the record, the picture above sort of makes me want to crawl back into my bed and never come out, but more on that later.

Just typing the phrase "got a case of the Mondays" annoys me. It's practically a law of nature that you have to be a really annoying co-worker to use that line. Unfortunately, today I am that annoying co-worker and even more unfortunately I've got a raging case of the Mondays over here. Not sure if it's a turkey hangover or perhaps the fact that I consumed somewhere around 100,000 calories over the course of the weekend, but either way I just can't seem to get motivated to do much of anything today. Well, anything aside from a quick run down of the good news and bad news in my life.

Good news: Got a big chunk of my Christmas shopping done this weekend.
Bad news: I still have a TON left to do, and for some reason I keep buying things for myself. Not good.

Good news: Everyone that I work closely with is on vacation, so I'm practically on vacation.
Bad news: Uh...just realized that someone has to do the work, and I'm the only one around. Ouch.

Good news: I think I'll actually have time to hit the gym on my lunch break.
Bad news: I haven't been in over a week. Do you hear that sound? Yes, that thundering you hear in the distance is actually the sound of my thighs. Yuck.

Good news: I'm reading Uglies by Scott Westerfeld and it's very good so far, so hopefully you'll be seeing another book review this week.
Bad news: I keep staying up too late reading. At this rate I'm going to be a zombie by Christmas. A well-read zombie, but a zombie nonetheless.

Good news: Finally someone agrees with me about annoying post-baby celebs with their perfect bodies. Yes, I'm talking to you Faith Hill. I'm willing to bet my First Season box set of Gossip Girl that Pilates and elliptical training didn't do THAT to your abs. And as my mom pointed out, the writer sounds eerily like me. Love it. Thanks for the link, Mom.
Bad news: No amount of airbrushing or nipping and tucking could give me a stomach like that. Trust me.

Good news: We should theoretically be hearing back on some of our manuscript submissions this week. A couple of agents had indicated that they would be reading soon and we're just assuming the rest of the agents spent their holiday reading our fabulous book because it's not like they have anything better to do, right?
Bad news: I'm literally refreshing our e-mail every 10 seconds. At this rate I'm going to end up with carpel tunnel in my right index finger from all the clicking. And our inbox is still empty in spite of my efforts. Sad.

Good news: Gossip Girl is on tonight!
Bad news: Who am I kidding, there is no bad news associated with Gossip Girl. That's like an oxymoron in my world. I have a date with Chuck Bass tonight. Monday is definitely looking up.