Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Foster Parenting While Writing OR Writing while Foster Parenting (You Decide)

This writing prompt courtesy of MRW:

18 months ago to this day, my husband and I took in two little foster girls. Very scared and very quiet,  we were their third foster home in a year.

At that time, I was writing about 3 times a week and editing about an hour or two. I felt very productive and thought I could see myself sending out serious queries at the end of summer. I signed up enthusiastically for the California Crime Writing Conference and managed to spend an hour or two a day getting all that ready.

Then these two little girls stood on our door step. Placed on an emergency order, Big Princess at 6 years behaved far too old and Little Princess at 4 came off much younger. Within 30 minutes of placement, Big Princess poo'd her pants and Little Princess cried off and on. We signed the papers to receive them and sent the social workers on their way.

The following days consisted of setting up showers for Big Princess who poo'd her pants out of anxiety, finding Little Princess day care, and driving Big Princess around to an amazing about of doctor's appointments.

Writing? Impossible. When I did find the time to write, I found myself endlessly interrupted by calls from social workers, setting up showers, and "Lee, Lee, Lee". So most of my writing of the time seemed almost schizo.

After the conference, I ditched my writing. I felt little satisfaction in doing so, but I'm a licensed Foster Parent and I agreed to taking them. After three weeks of taking them in, we learned that DCSF wanted them to stay permanently longer. We agreed.

18 months later, I'm finally sitting in front of my screen and hammering out words. No regrets over those 18 months of lost writing time or the lack of publishing, lack of query, lack of...everything creative.

We've gotten into a rhythm that allows me to write with them in the house. Big Princess, now poo-free thanks to anti-anxiety exercises, seems content to do crafts and can do her homework with little supervision. Little Princess, my budding drummer, can pound away happily while I write...and nope, it doesn't bug me.

The secret lies in routine, consistency, and setting the girls up for success. They know they need to think twice before interrupting Mommy's typing (if you're not bleeding or it out!). I try to only write when they're busy or during lunch time when Daddy's on duty.

All in all...I'm back in the office chair again and I'm ready to roll...but the Princesses still sit in first priority...and that's ok.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Having a Julie Andrews Moment.....

It's raining today. I love the rain and since we don't get much here in SoCal, the sound of rain makes today seem extra special. A perfect day to write about "my favorite things".

Each of my favorite things create happy remembrances when I hold them or re-experience them. That's what makes a favorite, isn't it?

I love See's chocolate Bordeaux's. I really don't love them exclusively, but when I see them in the fridge I go to my happy place. I don't love them for the taste: I love them because my husband thinks they're my most favorite and makes sure I always have a supply. I love that this is one thing that he does for me so consistently that I can put my hands on. It's physical evidence of his thoughtfulness and that gives me the happys.

I love the book An Old-Fashioned Girl by Louisa Alcott. The only copy I own belonged to my mother and I've never read any other copy. Dating from the 1930's, the book smells amazing and the crisp, brown pages have a feel that modern copies don't have. I make a point of re-reading the book every couple of years, but it's the copy itself the I love. My mom owned this book first and now I do...eventually I hope one of my foster daughters will love it, as well. When I read my copy, I can just imagine my mother curled up somewhere reading the same copy and that gives me such a strong sense of history.

At 14, if they'd had such a contest, I'd be a shoo-in for Awkward Teen Queen. However, that summer for two magical hours, I rode co-pilot for the guy who did the Kessel Run in 12 parsecs. "Star Wars"  made a crappy summer pretty awesome as I plunked down $1.25 five times. I loved that film and I still get the chillies when I re-watch and don't get me going when about the shivers I feel on the rare occasion I get to experience it in a real theater. Yum.

Favorites aren't the best written, best directed or the yummiest tasting: favorites stem from the memories we attach to them. Memories of splashing in the rain, memories of indoor recess playing bingo or heads-up 7-up or eating lunch at your desk instead of the smelly cafeteria. We attach positive or happy memories to things, places, experiences...and that's why they're favorites.

Prompt Source:

Friday, February 5, 2016

It Sucks Being a Foster Child....

Dear Teachers of the World:
It's not OK to print out random baby pictures on the Internet and pass them off as students in your class.
If a student does not have a baby picture, for whatever reason, you can either:

a. Not do the project at all.

b. Talk to the student and come up with a mutually agreed-upon solution.

c. Talk to the parents, if the child is in...say...Pre-K and see what they would like.
I went to Little Princess' open house tonight at her preschool. I wrote a few days ago about how I hate when teachers ask for baby pictures of foster children. DCFS does not even have a picture of Little Princess before she was removed from her mom. Her mom doesn't have one, either - I asked. I told the teachers this and they assured me that they "knew what to do". Bad me for not asking what their work-around was.
For the last week, she's been convinced that her teachers have a baby picture of her and - for the last week - I've been telling her that she must be misunderstanding...that none exist and I'm so, so sorry, baby girl. 
So tonight, at Open House, there on the wall for everyone to see, is a "baby picture of Little Princess". It's a random picture from the Internet of a white baby (Little Princess is Hispanic). The baby in the picture is a cute baby, but she's not Little Princess...not even remotely. 
My Little Princess is beautiful and smart and clever. She's feisty and spunky and full of character. She's amazing and cuddly and sweet. She says "I love you" every chance she gets and always has "kissees" for me and her Foster Dad. She sings in the middle of the night and plays her bongos with amazing rhythm early in the morning . She makes up songs when she can't remember lyrics or tunes. Her artwork defies categorization. 
When she "gets bigger", she wants to work at McDonald's while giving people shots in the arm so "they'll feel good". She loves chicken nuggets and tater tots and hates tuna noodle casserole and anything with cheese in it...except pizza or lasagne or mac & cheese. 
She's amazing and wonderful and my heart broke when I saw that her preschool teachers downloaded some random picture and passed it off as her...and she's convinced that it's her in that picture. She's convinced that the white baby with perfect eyes (Little Princess has an eye problem) is her. 
And that's not ok: they placed more importance on a wall of uniform timeline projects using some stupid, silly random picture that is someone else's baby so that my Little Princess could have a project on the wall that looked like everyone else's. They discounted the sweet, wonderful, little five-year-old with the olive skin and the purple glasses that's correcting her lazy eye that was standing directly in front of them.
And that's not ok. 
I'm sorry, but my heart feels shattered.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Starting over in 2016

I've set a yearly writing goal of 100,000 words for 2016. Which means I need to write 275 words a day. Which is harder than I thought thanks to my role as a Foster Mom to two little girls (5&7).

So...I missed my writing goal yesterday. In fact, I didn't write a single word yesterday outside of responding to posts on Facebook. I now have a few choices. I can:

1. Quit and start up again next year.

2. Stomp my feet and cry.

3. Feel bad that I've let myself down.

4. Tell myself that it's ok: I can adjust my word count goal to 99,725 for the year. 

5. Hate or envy my fellow Poe Writers.

6. Feel intimated because Cassie's written over 3,000 words and I've done...1500
7. OR I can tell myself that life gets messy and I need to accept that.

I think I'll choose #7: yesterday I needed to monitor a visit between my foster daughters and their biological mother. She was an hour late: my writing goal turned into feeding the girls and acting as cheerleader. 

Little Princess wanted to write her mom off and go home, but Big Princess needs the contact with her mom. So, we sat in a crappy McDonald's, ate equally crappy food and waited. 

She showed up, finally, and pretty much ignored the girls while complaining about her life to me. Yay.

Little Princess played on the playground or cuddled with me. Big Princess played with mom's phone before playing and I lost the time I intended to read and research England's Parliament (something necessary for my work in progress).

After we got home, I showered off the McDonald's ickiness from the girls. Fed husband and myself. Got the girls to bed with some cuddles and reassurances and then played Hay Day on my iPad until I fell asleep. No writing got done, but I need to feel OK about that.

So here's my internal cheerleader: Be OK with that: I need to identify life's elements that suck up time. If these elements are inflexible, then so be it. Do not compare my word count to the count of others: their life may not contain as many walls and barriers. Avoid feeling bad or intimidated. If I can flex some of these barriers, find a way to do so: you can always catch up on your writing on days without barriers.

The minute my enjoyment of writing ends...take up painting. Writing is suppose to be fun, not a chore.



Not all McDonald's are bad. The one we visit is an armpit. The nice one I found that's clean with nice employees and food that's actually yummy? Too far away from bio mom's home and she actually complained in court that it's not fair that we chose a McDonald's too far away. We are under court orders to go the armpit McDonald's where the staff cannot keep ahead of the clientele. Yeah. She rocks.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Goals for the week of May 18

So, I'm trying to stay focused by posting my goals and trying to stay on top of my writing this week.

It helps that I finally go through all the seasons of Park and Rec. Now I don't have Lesley Knope to distract me. However, I found Alias on Hulu+, now I've got that to distract me. Dang

1. Finish editing the next five chapters.
2. Out of Genre Reading: Red Rising by Pierce Brown
3. In Genre Reading: continue reading The Dangerous Edge of Things by Tina Whittle
4. Blog: Just try to blog at least two more times this week.

Thanks for holding me accountable

Friday, May 15, 2015

Yeah, About That Optimism

Optimism sucks.

Fear is so much easier to embrace! Thanks to fear I'm now Level 83 in Hay Day! And Level 24 in the Sims! Yay Fear!

Go Fear, Go!

Fear of success has enabled me to binge watch Parks and Recs! I love Lesley Knope! And I realize that I'm married to a real life Ron Swanson. Thanks Fear for that epiphany!

With Optimism as a friend, I would need to run three times a week and lose 2 pounds a week. With Optimism I'll feel compelled to finish editing the last four chapters of my book. And, HORRORS!, with Optimism by my side, I'll want - want! people! - WANT to clean house.


So, I'm going to bed with Fear: failure means I can stay in my jammies until noon. That rocks! Failure means I have an awesome excuse for not learning to make bread or how to do podcasts.

Optimism equates to actual production! Boo on productive lifestyle! Booooo

Yay for Fear! Go Fear!

I think I'll go crawl back into bed...

Thanks for listening.

Thursday, April 30, 2015

The Joy of Pity Parties

Yesterday, I held myself a pity party and enjoyed every minute of it. I even whipped out an incredibly bad blog piece full of misspellings, grammatical errors, and creative dog poo (don't ask me why).

The problem lay in my inability to make any progress on any of my current projects. Even editing, which normally bores me to the point of starting up writing on another project, didn't crash through my blockage. I felt stupid, ignorant, and annoyed with everyone and everything.

So, I held a Pity Party for myself: I snacked on the very last Cadbury Cream Egg that I found at the bottom of purse (nice and squishy with a hint of lint), I put extra sugar in my lemon water, I fired up a new time-wasting game on my iPad, and I bribed my tortoise-shell cat with treatsies so she would snuggle with me.

I watched Youtube videos, snarked a bit on Twitter, played Hay Day on my iPad for over an hour (don't tell hubby), and watched Parks and Recreation for over two hours -- all at the same time!

And then, this morning, a miracle occurred: a story idea that's been stuck in my head, suddenly unstuck itself and I have a solution to unsticking two characters stuck in a muddy plot with zero direction. This morning, I felt better. Not necessarily rejuvenated, but not quite so....defeated? Disheartened? Frustrated? Useless.

I didn't feel so useless as I did yesterday.

So, what I learned in the last 24-hours: Pity Parties can lead to a stronger sense of purpose and self.

Thank you for listening.