January 2011 Update

I can’t believe it’s been four months since I posted to this blog! I wanted to do at least a monthly update, but the weeks and months just fly by. They retired the theme I was using (why?), so my header is different. I don’t like it, but I don’t really have time to change it, either. Martin and I were counting how many words Oona knows the other day and remembering that I kept track of all Shea’s first words here on Bustopher Jones, so I need to at least make an effort to do the same for Oona. First, the latest (in case anyone still checks this blog from time to time):

Shea turned 3 in December. We had a party for him at Head Over Heels gymnastics. My crappy photos are here. We bought an SLR (a Canon Rebel – mistake?) when Shea was born thinking we’d be able to take great pictures, and all our pictures are pretty crappy. I guess part of the problem is lighting. With indoor lighting and a flash, pictures just don’t turn out that great. But I need to take a digital photography class before these kids grow up because it kills me how many of our photos turn out blurry. That gymnastics place was very well lit, but the kids were moving fast. Maybe our camera just isn’t fast enough. Sigh. The kids had a blast, though. Head Over Heels is an amazing place for adults to play as well as kids. We’re a sucker for the expensive birthday parties, too. Each year I think maybe we’ll just do cake and a small dinner with family and then we go all out. But they only have birthdays two times a year! And because Shea’s is in the winter, we can’t have his in a park.

Shea started preschool last September and loves it. He never cried or even looked back at us as we were leaving him. He’s the kind of kid you can just drop off at a stranger’s for a playdate and he’ll be fine. (I did that last week. Not a stranger, but a kid he had only met once before. He wasn’t upset until I came back to get him three hours later. He wanted to stay longer.) School is only three mornings a week, which has made the transition easy on all of us. And that way he comes home and spends the rest of the day with the nanny and still gets Spanish two days a week.

Speaking of raising kids bilingual/trilingual – oy vey! It’s so difficult to get Shea to speak in French or Spanish, even though he understands everything. I find it’s mostly my fault because when I get tired I lapse into English without even realizing it. But I am making more of an effort to force him to respond to me in French. He can say, “Maman, je veux … s’il vous plait” no problem and he is finally starting to say “Maman, tu peux … s’il vous plait?” (“Mom, I want … please” and “Mom, could you do … please?” He knows the nouns, it’s the verbs we really need to work on. I went through our French flash cards yesterday (which I rarely do and vow to start doing more often), and he knew probably 150 of them. We’ve applied to the French school, but we really can’t afford it. We’re going to see what financial aid they offer us, and if it’s too little, wait to see if we win the lottery before kindergarten (kindergarten is the latest they’ll let them begin.) The whole school dilemma keeps me up at night (send them to so-so Berkeley schools? Move to an all-white super boring suburb in the boonies that will make my commute to SF miserable but where there are better schools? Get a full-time job and use all my income to pay for private school tuition? Send them to Catholic school, which we could afford? I don’t like any of the options.) Back to the bilingual thing – I need to buy a couple books and read up on strategies.

Oona is not as outgoing as Shea, at least not at this age. She’s not shy at all, but she likes her mama and doesn’t want to be held by strangers. If I’m around when the nanny is here, she’ll cry for me until I leave the room, then she forgets about me and is fine. This, of course, pleases me to no end since Shea couldn’t have cared less if I dropped him off for the week with total strangers when he was Oona’s age. Oona is also a thumb sucker. I haven’t discouraged it, but I suppose I’ll have to at some point. She sucks her thumb when she’s tired or unhappy. I’m still nursing her, and she’ll want to nurse if she falls and hurts herself, so I guess it’s a comfort thing. I don’t plan to nurse her much longer. She’s almost 17 months (shit, and I still haven’t taken her for her one-year photo!!), and my plan was to stop at 18 mos. I’ve been so good about taking them to get their pictures taken, but the last few photos I scheduled got canceled because Oona had some huge scratch on her face. I need to take her next week.

Once Shea started school, I limited their classes to one at a time. So we did gymnastics over the summer, music during the fall, and now we’re doing swimming. They love all three, so we just rotate. This is the first session Shea has been in swim lessons on his own (I watch from outside the pool in case he has to get out and pee, but I don’t go in.) He loves the water. The teacher keeps telling me he is “amazing” and “fearless,” but the truth is that if we had kept him in those underwater classes at Petite Baleen, he’d be swimming on his own by now – in fact, probably a year ago. But it was a 35-40-minute drive and they don’t have child care like the Berkeley Y does, so I had no one to watch Oona while I went in the water with Shea. Anyway, I think if we keep up these lessons, he’ll be swimming before he’s 4. He’s going twice a week right now. Oona goes once a week to the baby class, and she’s fine being dunked under water, she can blow bubbles and kick her feet, and she LOVES to play and splash around.

Martin and I are doing well. Not much is new except we got a kitten for Christmas. We finally put Xeno out of his misery (he had kidney failure) back in October, which left us petless for the first time. So we adopted a long-haired gray and white tuxedo cat and named her Kicha, which means kitten in Polish. She’s still a little afraid of the kids, but she’s very friendly and cuddly to everyone else.

Otherwise we’re just nonstop running, running, running with these kids. I feel like I have less and less time to myself as they get older. I have two days with a nanny and I frequently spend half of those days running errands, paying bills, etc. instead of working on my book because it’s the only time I can do those things. With Shea, I would stick him in the stroller or the car and do my errands with him, but lugging two kids in and out of car seats is a nightmare. Nannies are expensive and so is preschool, so we can’t afford more than two days (at least not on my freelance salary). All of our money goes to child care these days, which is a fine argument for sending out kids to public schools!

My solution to my lack of writing time has been to go up to our house near the Russian River once a month for a long weekend alone. I’ve done this three times now, and I always dread going, dread being away from the kids that long, because I’m so involved with them while I’m here and can’t imagine going that long without reading Shea stories, nursing Oona, playing with them, etc. But once I’m up there (with my breast pump), I love it. I get to sleep in late and go in the hot tub and write, write, write all I want. I drink some caffeine in the morning (which I don’t normally) and then just work through from about 9 a.m. to 11 p.m. with frequent breaks for food and tea and chocolate. It’s usually raining, so I don’t miss going outside. On about the third day I’ll go for a run, but otherwise I stay glued to the couch and work straight through. Speaking of running, my plan is to do the Oakland Half Marathon again in March, but I’ve hardly trained at all. I have another goal due at the end of this month, so until I achieve that, my runs are limited to about once a week.

My end-of-the-month goal is to finish the latest revision of my book. For all those of you out there wondering why in God’s name I am still working on the same book and why on Earth it is taking me so long, well …

1. I have almost no time to work on it, so progress is slow.
2. I am going to revise this book as many times as I have to until it gets published.
3. I’m a slow writer to begin with.

And there you have it. I came back from my last “retreat” all motivated and told myself that I was going to work on it every night for two hours and be done by the end of the month (January). The first couple of nights I had other obligations/deadlines. And then I found that starting writing at 9 p.m. when I was exhausted to the point of wanting to collapse straight into bed after dinner just wasn’t going to work. I couldn’t do it. I was too tired. So I got a little writing done here and there and then I got sick, and I’ve been sick for a week now. Sigh. And our taxes are due at the end of the month for our financial aid app for the French school, so that is a priority right now. Seems like there is always something else that takes priority. That is the challenge of being a writer. I wish I were one of those moms who could get up at 5 a.m. and write before the kids got up, but I already want to collapse by 10 a.m. getting up at 7. I guess I could try, but then I’d never see Martin since he is very much a night owl (Martin thinks going to bed at midnight is “early.” He stays up several nights in a row until 3 or 4 a.m. and then crashes at 7 or 8 p.m. for a couple of nights and starts the cycle over again.) This post is getting really long, and I haven’t even gotten to Oona’s words yet! All this to say that I am still plugging away at the book. It’s just really really hard to make the time AND do things like take the kids to get their 1-year picture taken (that will take half of one of my work days this week).

And now, for Oona’s words. These are all the words she knows at 16.5 mos:

Mama, Papa, Shea, baby, bye bye, agua, lait/milk, arbre/tree, chat/kitty, wow-wow (and the sign for dog), all done, more, truck, joom joom and the sign for car, apple, the sign for banana, hat, no, the sounds and/or signs for duck, horse, cow, elephant, bird, monkey. Chausette/sock, chaussure/shoe, bain (bath) and the sign, “cheese” for food when she’s hungry, cracku for cracker which is too damn cute, boots, up, down, “whee!” for slides and swings, hi!, nigh, nigh (night night), sshh for fish (Shea said the same), light, ball, keys, jacket (if shasha counts), choo choo (train), livre/book, ball, bubbles. I think that’s about it!

And now it’s time for me to say nigh nigh.

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Oona is One Today!

In honor of Oona’s first birthday, I created a SmugMug gallery of photos of her first year. Happy Birthday, Oona!

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May, June, July Update

How pathetic that my monthly update (which was already pathetic) has turned into a quarterly update! but I haven’t given up on you, Bustopher Jones! I may even start blogging here more often someday. Right now I just don’t have the time. So here is the quick (but it never ends up being quick) update:

Shea is cuter by the day. Lately he’s been so sweet, even saying, “Je t’aime” back after I say it. His new favorite phrase is “Talk to me, Mama, talk to me” (which has replaced “LISTEN to me!” He still loves sports and balls better than anything in the world, baseball in particular. I taught him how to say, “Three strikes, you’re out!” and “Home run!” Funny because I hate sports myself. He loves to read, though, too, and play with his Thomas the Train set, and run and jump and draw and glue magazine pictures onto paper.

Oona is getting so big. I can’t believe she’s almost a year old. She is cruising around like crazy (that means walking while holding onto furniture for you non-parents) and can stand for a second or two without holding onto anything. No big hopes for her to walk early, though, since Shea didn’t really start walking until two months after he took his first steps. She claps back when I clap, and she can almost wave bye-bye. She babbles a ton and says, “Dada” a lot, but I don’t think she knows what it means. She and Shea look very different, both a blend of Turon and Ward, but different blends. Oona’s taking swim classes; Shea’s in gymnastics classes. We’re all very busy busy busy.

We spent 10 days in Michigan at the end of June through the beginning of July, and it was a lot of fun. We mostly just hung out with family and friends. No Macinac Island, no Detroit Zoo, just BBQs and swimming and a whole lot of jumping on the trampoline (for Shea). Shea got to meet and play with all his older cousins, see fireworks, and spend some time with Grandpa and his aunts and uncles. He LOVED Michigan and didn’t want to leave (neither did I. We left 98-degree weather to come back to “sunny” California with our 65-degree summer. Boo hoo.)

This past weekend we did the first of three camping trips to Montana del Oro State Park, in Los Osos. The weather was worse than in Berkeley. Cold and foggy all weekend, but we still had fun. I feel happy and invigorated after camping, even though we didn’t do any major hikes. Just hung out with friends, poked around tide pools, and ate some s’mores. Then we all came home and got the stomach flu. Not fun to see munchkins projectile vomiting, but we’re all fine now.

I’ve been busy blogging over at Writerland and not doing a whole lot of other writing. Well, I had a book review in the Chronicle a few weeks ago, and I’m working on a new piece for this year’s Litquake, San Francisco’s annual literary festival, but no big progress on my book. My book. Sigh. I’m revising it yet again and I’m so unmotivated I just can’t look at it right now. I wish that weren’t true. I wish I could just sit down and sail through the edits and be done with it in a month, but it seems to take me an entire year to do each revision (for a variety of reasons, including the aforementioned munchkins). I’m considering just setting it aside for a few months while I work on something else. The book is, and has been, done for a while, but it needs something-I’m not sure what-to push it over the fence into the Published Books world, and I’m hoping this final revision will do the trick. More than anything I just want to move on. Lately I feel like I’m Atlas and it’s the world. But enough about that.

I’ll be back in August, September at the latest, with another update. And with pictures! Soon!

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April Update

Time for my once-a-month update. Above is a semi-recent (well, maybe a month or two ago) picture of the munchkins. In kid updates:

Oona is almost sitting up. She lasts a few seconds before toppling off to one side. She babbles a lot, sticks everything in her mouth, laughs, rolls all over the floor, and is eating three solid meals a day. She’s a good baby. She was sleeping through the night for a while, but now gets up sometime between 4:30 and 6 a.m. to eat, then goes back to sleep until 8. (She goes to bed at 7.) She’s overall a great baby – takes her regular naps in her crib without fussing, sucks her thumb to keep herself happy, smiles a lot. She’s a keeper!

Shea is still obsessed with balls and Thomas the Train, still running in all directions. He’s really into the alphabet and into singing songs lately, so we’ve signed him up for Music Together again. He loves to sing Itsy Bitsy Spider, the ABCs, Happy Birthday (to Evelyn, our one-year-old neighbor, whose birthday was in November), Alouette, etc.

I’ve started writing down things Shea says. Here are a few:

“Close the computer, get down, come play.”

“I need a serviette. I have mokos.” (Translation: “I need a napkin (fr). I have boogers (sp).”

Hearing the branches of the tree scratch our dining room window, Shea asks: “What’s that?”
Me: “That’s the tree knocking on the window to say hello. It’s saying, ‘Hello, window.’ ‘Hello, Shea.’”
Shea: “The tree doesn’t have eyes. The tree has leaves.”

April 7, 2010
Me: “Shea, what’s your name?”
Shea: “Shea Turon.”
Me: “What’s Oona’s name?”
Shea: “Oona Turon. (Pause) Your name is Mama Turon.”
Me: “No, my name is Meghan Ward.”

April 8, 2010
Me: “Shea, what’s your name?”
Shea: “Shea Turon.”
Me: “What’s your sister’s name?”
Shea: “Oona Turon.”
Me: “What’s Papa’s name?”
Shea: “Papa Turon”
Me: “What’s my name?”
Shea: “Mama Meghan Ward”

I ran my half marathon on March 28. My goal was to run 10-minute-miles (I’d done many of my long runs at exactly that speed, but I’d never run 13 miles before). I ran 9:39-minute miles, so I was happy about that. It’s not fast, but it was fast for a 40-year-old who started training two months before the race. Speaking of being 40 – yes! I am 40 now! And it feels the same as 39. We had a really fun wine tasting party. Instead of providing all the food and wine like we usually do, we had everyone bring their favorite wine or a pairing (most people brought both), and we had a ton of fabulous wine and food as a result. Really fun.

I’m busy working on what I hope will be the last revision of my book (I’ve said that how many times before?) I gave myself an 8-week deadline one week ago, so I have seven more weeks until I turn it in to my editor, then I’ll go over it again once I get her feedback. I was extremely unmotivated for two months, but now that my race is over and I’m less exhausted from running all the time, I feel up for the task. The drawback is …

I hurt my back. It had been hurting ever since Oona was born from carrying both kids and lugging that damn double stroller in and out of the car (as much as I love that stroller, it’s messed up my back.) It hurt a lot the night before my race, and I had promised the doctor I’d stop running for a while after the race, and I did. But then this past Tuesday I twisted around to change Shea’s diaper and – OMG – couldn’t move. Got to the couch and could not get up. I was in so much pain and no matter what position I lay in, it hurt like hell. I tried Advil and ice (fortunately the nanny was here, so she had three people to take care of that day), but nothing worked, so I finally had to take a Vicodin left over from my wrist surgery. It made me fall asleep, but when I woke up after four hours on the couch, I could stand up and walk again. I went to the doctor and he prescribed me Vicodin and told me to sit as little as possible. So I spent Wednesday writing standing up all day. I thought it would be awful, but it was fine. I even kind of liked it. Now here I am writing in bed, but tomorrow I’ll work standing up again. This morning at 6 a.m. after feeding Oona, it tweaked again and I had to take another Vicodin, but now it’s a little better. I just have to take it easy until it heals. No running, but I joined the Y, so I can swim there now.

Shea is in swimming classes at the Y. If we’d kept up our Petite Baleen classes that he was taking when he was a year, he’d be swimming under water by now, but it was so far away and so expensive, that I just couldn’t do it once I was pregnant with Oona. And the Y has childcare, so I drop Oona off there to take Shea to class. He loves the water, though, and isn’t afraid to jump in, so I don’t think those classes were a waste. We take Oona once in a while on a Saturday, and I hope to get her into a class soon, too.

I’m busy with Writerland.com, reading a 550-page book to do a book review for the Chronicle, editing a client’s memoir, tutoring three students, and trying to finish my own book during the two days we have a nanny, so I’m plenty busy. Martin has suddenly gone vegan (well, except when we order pizza, but he’s still vegetarian on those days), so we’re eating a lot of vegetarian food lately. Although today while he had his tofu, Shea and I stuffed ourselves full of pork and beans (made from the Easter ham) and quesadillas. Yum. Yum.

We enrolled Shea for preschool starting in August. He came with us and loved it (three friends from his French playgroup who go there already). It wasn’t my first choice because it’s not walking distance, but the nanny said she can take the bus to pick them up at 3. That way they’ll still get some Spanish two days a week. Plus I felt sad at the thought of her not seeing Shea anymore. He’s so attached to her since she’s taken care of him since he was six weeks old. There’s a Spanish-speaking preschool we could try to get Oona into, but it’s way too late for Shea. I didn’t know about it until recently, and there’s a LONG waiting list.

As for where to send them for elementary school, that’s another post. A LONG post.

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I still haven’t had time to upload pictures, but one of these days I will. Shea is driving me nuts with whining and questions most days. He asked me where the moon was over and over for the entire hour-long drive home last night from Martin’s parents’ house. All day long he says, “What’s this, Mama? What’s this?” even when he KNOWS what it is. Or “Where’s Papa, Mama? Where’s Papa?” even though I just told him 8 TIMES where Martin is. Typical two-year-old stuff, and I am dreading the “Why?” stage because “What’s this?” is bad enough. Anyway …

Our kitty, Xeno, was given two weeks to live about six weeks ago. The vet encouraged us to put him to sleep, but Martin wanted to wait and see how long he lasts. So far, he’s lasting fine on the IV Martin has to give him every night and the special food I have to give him every day. Anyway, Shea, who spends his days terrorizing Xeno, has decided that he wants to sleep in the “big bed” in his room instead of his crib because Xeno is sleeping there. So now, when we say good-night to Shea, he says, “Don’t scare him! Don’t scare him!” about Xeno because he wants Xeno to stay sleeping in the bed next to him. So the two are curled up together in bed now. Enemies by day. Best friends by night.

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February Update

I will try to update this blog at least once a month for now. I am so crazy tired and busy all the time, it’s all I can manage. And I have tons of pictures of the munchkins, but they’re who knows where – on one of our cameras, some on my computer, some in private folders on SmugMug. I haven’t had time to post any of them, but will soon. I’ll try to make this a “quick” update.

Shea is 2 and two months now. He’s doing great. Talking, running, playing. Today he corrected me. I said that the gift on the table was for the “Bebe Woo Woo” party – he knows the kids in his French playgroup as the Bebe Oui-Oui’s and not by their individual names – but I, by mistake, called it “Bebe Woo Woo” instead of “Bebe Oui-Oui.” Bebe Woo Woo his his favorite dog – the bebe to distinguish him from Grand Woo Woo and Petit Woo Woo (he was calling dogs “woo woo”s when he got them.) And Shea said, “No, BeBe Oui-Oui!” A glimpse into the teen years. Can’t wait.

Shea is really into Thomas the Train these days, although we have just one book and one DVD. He knows the names of all the trains (and so do I), but no, we’re not buying one of those multi-hundred-dollar train sets! He still loves sports of every kind and is really obsessed with letters. (He knows them all by their sounds, thanks to The Letter Factory). As we’re driving down the street, he says, “Oh! Letters!” and points to a street sign. Then “Oh! More letters!” and points to another – all the way down the street. He’s also really into Playdoh (which he calls, “Potatoes”) and finger painting.

Oona just started eating solids, so I spent this morning (ugh, at 7 a.m.) pureeing apples and pears. Tonight sweet potatoes, yams, carrots, and potatoes, so I can freeze them all and be stocked up for a couple of weeks. She is getting big. She smiles a ton and coos and sucks on everything in sight. She was sleeping all night, but now tends to get up once (sometimes twice) a night. Hopefully the solids will solve that.

I have been running a lot. I’m training for a half marathon at the end of March, so I’ve been running 18-20 miles per week (ran 8 miles today – 10 miles last Saturday). It gives me energy for a few hours and then I just crash out in the evenings when I have free time to get stuff done. Definitely cuts into my writing time.

I’m still blogging a lot at Writerland.com, although putting less time and effort into it than I was. I now have a book to revise, the half marathon coming up, and I’m taking care of the kids on Fridays. We cut our nanny down from 2.5 to 2 days per week so we don’t end up in the poorhouse. So unfair that my sisters had my mom around to babysit for free! Although that would have meant staying in Michigan, so that probably wouldn’t have happened anyway. Childcare is crazy expensive, and if we do go the public school route, it will save us a ton of money. It took me becoming a parent to realize that school is free daycare for parents. Parents LOVE school! All those snow days we loved so much as a kid? And the vacations? No so fun for the parents!

I think I had a midlife crisis for about two weeks. I was really cranky and stressed out, and I can’t help wondering if the impending BIRTHDAY had something to do with it, but I’m all zen about it now. 40 is the new 39 from what I’ve heard.

See you in March!

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January update

Martin and Shea dressed up as chipmunks at the Bay Area Discovery Museum

I am blogging way too little over here at Bustopher Jones! (And blogging a lot over here at Writerland.) As always, a “quick” update:

We had a good Thanksgiving and Christmas Eve at Martin’s mom’s house. Michael and Nico were there for T-day and Kasia’s family for Christmas. I got depressed the last time we spent Christmas here because we had no plans for Christmas Day, so this time we opened presents with Shea in the morning (Christmas is way more fun with kids because they get so excited about their new toys), and went to our friend J&T’s house for dinner. The dinner was eventful in that their house caught on fire! No damage done and the firemen aired out the smoke, but it was a scary night running outside with the kids, getting the hose hooked up, etc. Thank God we got the fire out fast.

New Year’s Eve with A&A was fun, too—delicious food and fantastic company. The only thing missing was board games, but we’ve given up trying to get them to play. New Year’s Day, however, we DID pay board games, convincing our friend A to stay for NINE HOURS despite the fact that she was “a cranky pants” and wanted to go for a jog around the block rather than sit in her chair one minute longer.

In Shea and Oona news: Oona is four months now! She’s a cutiepatootie, all round and smiley and smelling delicious. (I sniff her frequently.) She has laughed a few times when I’ve tickled her or played peek-a-boo, and she rolled over a couple of times by accident. She has been sleeping through the night, my little angel, for a MONTH already! Shea didn’t sleep through the night until he was 8 mos! Oona is a VERY GOOD baby!

Shea is talking up a storm. He repeats everything and remembers much more than I realize. He understands English, French and Spanish, although he speaks mostly in English. He talks in short sentences. When we were up at the river house between Christmas and New Years, he saw my rain jacket hanging outside and said, “Maman jacket, open the window, go get it.” So that’s how he speaks. He eats most of what we eat, although his favorite food is cheese. He has learned to open the refrigerator and wants to put parmesan on everything now.

Shea is obsessed with Martin’s iPhone games (which I’m not thrilled about). This morning he came into my bed (after Martin had gone into his bed and fallen asleep there) and after I went to change Oona and came back, I found him sitting up in bed with Martin’s phone that he’d found beside the bed, playing a game of pool. He knows how to turn the phone on, scroll through the apps to find the pool game, start the game, and play it. SCARY. And although this may seem impressive, the doc says it’s equivalent to watching TV and he should be doing it as little as possible.

Shea got a trike for Christmas, but we haven’t really taken it out yet. We’ve mostly just pushed him around the house on it. We are attempting potty training and have had a few successes. Nothing consistent yet. Shea is still obsessed with balls and drums and loves his new mini air hockey game. He hasn’t shown much interest in all the cars and trucks he got for his second birthday, but maybe someday. He loves books and coloring in his coloring books, and he loves to run around!

As for me … I’m caught up in this whirlwind of blogging and tweeting and not really sure where it’s all going. Sometimes I wonder if I’m wasting my time, if an agent or publisher is really going to care, and yet I have read umpteen blogs and books stating that YES, they DO care and they absolutely google you to see whether your “online presence” is professional and whether you have a following. Between that and kids, I feel like I have no time to write at all. Kind of bums me out because isn’t that why I’m doing this? And yet I don’t want to be one of those writers with five books written and none published, so I guess I have to put as much time/energy into marketing my book as I did into writing it. (UGH! I like some of the marketing, but I need more balance in my life.)

Speaking of balance, I need a vacation! Hawaii is waiting for me, but I haven’t had the courage to commit to going there with two little munchkins and a babysitter. Sounds expensive for one. And hectic. We need to figure out a way to make it work, though. Our last big trip was almost THREE years ago! (Our honeymoon in Feb-Mar 2007). That is not acceptable!

Life with two kids is fine, but I just never get a break. I feel fairly rested and have managed to find ways to take care of them both at the same time (Today we went to the Exploratorium, just the three of us), but it’s just go go go every minute of the day. And I find myself, like tonight, up at 11:30 or 12 with 20 more things I want to do. I am CONSTANTLY behind. Tonight I wanted to spend some time looking at my cookbooks, choosing new recipes to try and making grocery lists. But I didn’t have time. There is NEVER ANY TIME! Unless I give up the blog. Which I don’t want to.

Speaking of the blog, I’m having a bunch of technical problems with my hosting service, so I need to log off and call them right now. And finally write the thank you cards for Shea’s birthday presents. And read a paper I need to edit. And pump. And research a preschool. And work on my book trailer. And read. And … ah forget it. I’m going to bed.

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November Update

I am way way behind on blogging over here, and I won’t be able to update as often now that I’ve started TWO new blogs. One is Writerland, currently at Writerland.com, but still experiencing growing pains. The other doesn’t really exist except on my computer, so I’ll hold off on advertising it for now. I’ve been BUSY lately. I have been:

1. Blogging every weekday at Writerland.com
2. Reading three books: one novel, one vook and one blogging for Dummies book
3. Going to kid birthday parties (and shopping for presents for each) EVERY weekend
4. Running: I ran 3.6 miles three times this week and made it the third time without walking any of it! (It’s pretty hilly.) I want to do a half marathon in March, but won’t be disappointed if that doesn’t happen.
5. Querying agents. Several rejections. Four more have the full manuscript, and I need to get five more queries out this week (but first I have research to do)
6. Working on getting my MeghanWard.com website redesigned
7. Have been scanning photos for my new blog. It’s going to be modeling-/French-related – a supplement to my book
8. Spending time with Oona and Shea: taking a few pictures, updating the baby books, going to French playgroup and moms’ group and parks. Have been with both to Fairyland, the zoo, the botanical gardens in Tilden, the Bay Area Adventure Museum …
9. Cooking some (some weeks I cook a ton and others hardly at all)
10. Watching Mad Men (over now) and Dexter and The Office – I’m one episode behind on Dexter and The Office
11. Trying to remain sane.

About number 11—this weekend was tough. Last weekend I was out jogging and stumbled across this yard sale that had a “Free” sign on a bulletin board, and I thought, “I could use that bulletin board,” but upon closer inspection, I saw that there was a photo on the bulletin board for a children’s playset. Long story short, Martin spent this weekend dismantling the playset and lugging it to our house while I had to watch both kids by myself. Oona barely slept, and when she did for just 30 minutes and always when Shea was awake, so I never got a break. It was a bit hellish. By the end of the day yesterday I was racing out the door to tutor at the pub, where the first thing I did was down a cup of sake. Today was no better, although outings in the mornings and tutoring sessions at night did give me somewhat of a break. This morning we went to a birthday party at a bounce house place where they had these big inflatable slides and obstacle courses. Finally a bounce house that allows adults inside! It was really fun.

When I was about seven months pregnant, I talked to a woman at the park (I meet/talk to a lot of people at the park! This afternoon I talked to my neighbor’s friend about Berkeley schools, to some French guy about the French school, to some other guy about how to cook quinoa and about this parenting book he was reading …) about what it was like to have two kids who are pretty close together, like hers were. She told me, “Your life is going to be hard for a couple of years, and then it’ll get better.” It’s hard to define “hard.” It sounded scary when she said it, awful even. Part of me felt, “No, she’s wrong. It won’t be awful” and part of me felt, “OMG, what have I done?” So now that two and a half months have passed, I can say, yes, life right now is very hard. It’s not bad, though, not awful. Just hard. Hard meaning I have almost no time to myself except for the hours I am paying $17 to a babysitter. That adds up really quickly. $17 to go running. $17 to take a shower and make and eat lunch. Another $17 to go grocery shopping and run an errand or two. $17 to blog. $17 to check e-mail and read other blogs. The evenings are getting a little better now that Oona is awake more during the day and going to bed earlier at night, but my problem is that it’s often 9:30 or 10 before I get any time to myself and then I don’t want to go to sleep because I want to read or e-mail or blog and, before I know it, it’s midnight and then I’m up twice in the night, sometimes for 30-60 minutes, feeding Oona, and then I’m TIRED the next day. But to get to bed early and get a decent amount of sleep, I get NO time to myself.

What else is hard? Housework. It doesn’t end. I finally got ALMOST all of the laundry from Friday folded and put away today and then threw three more loads into the wash. There is a neverending pile of unfolded laundry on our couch! And dishes to wash, and toys to pick up, and … and … and …

But it’s fun, too. Oona’s a cutiepatootie. She smiles all the time, and does these little stomach crunches when you tickle her and has started cooing and making razz sounds. Shea is nonstop entertainment. He calls me “Meghan” now, which drives me nuts, but he’s hellbent on saying it, so I just have to let it go. He is saying little sentences, like “I have a book” and “Green ball go get it Papa up there. He speaks more in English than in French, but he understands both and can say most words in both (and in Spanish, but mostly around Dolores.) He mixes them up all the time, like he’ll say, “Dos chairs” or “Petit cow.” He loves cooking and has to drag a chair into the kitchen to help every time we start to make dinner. He likes to help clean, too. He still loves balls and this week is into juggling and diving from the coffee table onto the couch. He does random things, like today he put three balls on the sofa and covered them with a towel and said, “balles chaudes” (hot balls, he was warming them up), then he lifted the towel and said, “blow on it” (because they were hot, he had to blow on them to cool them down.) Like I said, nonstop entertainment!

We are spending Thanksgiving at Martin’s mom’s and Christmas Eve, too. I have already bought some Christmas presents. Every year I decide I want it to be a minimalist Christmas without a lot of gifts, and every year I buy one more, one more and one more until there are quite a few. I’m sure this year will be the same. All I want for Christmas is nook, but it’s sold out until Jan. 4. I’ve never been one to get electronic devices when they first come out, but there have been so many times recently that I really wanted to look at a book NOW and wished I could just download it and not order it from the library and wait until it comes in, then go pick it up, or pay $15-$27 for it at the bookstore. I think the age of print books is rapidly coming to a close.

And just for fun, I started writing a sci-fi novel last night. It’s really just a FUN project and not meant to be my “next book” (I have other books I want to write to sell), and it feels good to write for fun again. I know nothing about sci-fi, but this is a book I’ve been thinking about for a while. What’s that expression? If you want something done, ask a really busy person? I get that. You get into such a crazy busy-all-the-time mode that you never have enough time to wind down. It’s just go go go go go all the time. Craziness. And now I have to go to bed because I have to go to court in the morning to get the money this scheister who sold us our hot tub owes us. It’s 10 o’clock, and I’m about to turn into a citrouille. (l learned the difference between a potiron and a citrouille – two French words for pumpkin – this Halloween!)

And that’s the update. Bonne nuit a tous!

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Miss me? Although I’ll continue to blog here, I’m also blogging there, where you can get writing and editing advice, read the latest on the publishing industry, and learn how to market your work.

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Pirate Shea

Pirate Shea cropped

Gimme your treasure or I’ll sick my doggy on you!

Some funny Shea-isms. The other day in the car he kept pointing and saying, “fuck, fuck, fuck.” I knew that wasn’t what he was really saying, but it took me a while to realize he meant, “flag, flag.” Yesterday morning and this morning he woke up and called me from his bed (I was sound asleep down the hall, so he was calling for a few minutes): “Mama! Mama! Mama!” (pause) “Mom! Mom! Mom!” (pause) “Meghan! Meghan! Meghan!” Lately he says, “Okay” instead of “Yes” to everything, with a long, drawn-out “kay”: “okayyyyy.” Eg:

Shea: “Fuck, fuck!”

Me: “Flag?”


This morning after being up for 10 minutes, he looked into the empty bouncy seat and said, “Where Baby Oona go? Where Baby Oona go?” He loves his little sister!

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