Friday, April 29, 2011

Whirlwind Week Part 2, Or...

Why I Really Want My Son to Attend Notre Dame

It’s no secret on this blog that I’m a Harry Potter enthusiast. Okay, I’m a Potterhead. While waiting for books 5 through 7 to be released I searched HP sites, theorized, and discussed HP with online and offline friends. It was an obsession to be sure. One that I often miss now that the series is complete. I’d often joke that I could relate almost anything to Harry’s Wizarding World. Kind of like a Six Degrees of Harry Potter game. Even when I turned on the Royal Wedding this morning and the cameras panned the guests, my first thought was, “I wonder if Jo Rowling was invited,” and searched for a Luna-inspired Gryffindor hat.

Part II of my whirlwind week involved a long 15 hour road trip to Notre Dame University. After being home for 1 day from D.C. I got in the car with my husband and son and we drove to South Bend. We toured the gorgeous campus the next day, then returned home on the third.

Our tour guide explained that there are two cafeterias on campus, South Dining Hall and North Dining Hall. She said it’s rumored that students prefer South because it was inspired by Christ Church hall in Oxford; the hall that was replicated for The Great Hall scenes in the Harry Potter films. Huhwhat!? This was when my ears perked up. Notre Dame has held HP themed dinners in which the tables were arranged in long rows like The Great Hall.

We were given discount tickets to eat lunch in either hall after the tour was over. What a no brainer! I had to eat in South. And while it looked like a big room with pretty windows, lots of tables, and ordinary students eating off of plastic trays, I could easily imagine 4 long house tables with hundreds of kids dressed in wizarding robes and drinking pumpkin juice. I'd be sitting with the Hufflepuffs in case you were wondering.

I have no idea where my son will attend college, there are many schools on the list, but for a while it was fun fantasizing about taking a class and rooting for the Irish.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Heart in Throat

Need I say more?

Sorry, I just have to...

Neville's rejection!
The Prince's Tale!
Molly and Bella's showdown!
The kiss!!
Harry in Hagrid's arms!

Which scene from the book do you most want to see on screen?

(p.s. I apologize for covering your lovely faces on the right, but I'm not tech savvy enough to resize the video)

Monday, April 25, 2011

Whirlwind Week: Part 1

After 2 weeks of being blog-missing (sorry, I just finished Scott Westerfeld’s Uglies series and his vocab is still on the brain), I’m back. I’m planning on covering my jam-packed activities into 3 posts so as not to bore you all at once. Choosing instead to drag out the boredom over 3 days. Kidding. I won’t go into any great detail about the trip, but rather give you some of my impressions. I do want you to come back after all.

I was fortunate enough to spend 4 days with 2 buses full of 11 to 14 year olds (grades 6 through 8) as a parent chaperone on a school trip to Washington, D.C. Two of those days were mainly travel days; the trip taking approximately 9 hours each way. I love D.C. This was my 4th visit and every time I go I see something different and learn something new. We had a great time touring sites, memorials, museums, food courts, and gift shops (essential if you’re a kid).

Although I didn’t have a moment to write (motion sickness while reading or writing is a drag), I did try to observe and absorb the kids’ reactions, emotions, and relationships with each other. In the process I reconnected with my tween/teen self. We had an awesome tour guide, a former teacher who really knew how to connect with young people through humor and by making history come alive with interesting stories, some of them personal.

As a parent and chaperone I danced the “when-do-I-step-in-and-when-do-I-back-off” dance with my two daughters. It can be tricky sometimes but I think I succeeded in not embarrassing the girls too much *wink*. Actually, I think they were glad that I came (though I don't think they'd want to admit that out loud).

Some of the highlights were:

1. Visiting the World War II Memorial at night – absolutely beautiful.

2. My 11-year-old is having knee issues and had to wear a brace. As a result, Arlington Cemetary in the drizzly rain was challenging for her. She and I brought up the far rear of the school group but she was determined to keep going. We made it just in time to see the changing of the guards at the tomb of the unknown soldier.

3. Daniel’s Story exhibit at the Holocaust Museum – incredible and such a well done exhibit for children about a horrific time in history.

4. Newseum 9/11 Exhibit – This was the last place we visited on our trip before heading home. After a fun 4D film on the history of investigative reporting, we had about a half hour before we had to be back on the bus. I went to the 9/11 exhibit and wasn’t prepared for the powerful emotional reaction I had while looking at a piece of one of the towers and another piece of one of the planes from Flight 93. My eyes filled up, tears trickled down my cheeks, until I finally had to leave and walk to a quiet area (Tim Russett’s office display) and cry into my tissues. Amazing how that day flooded back in a few instants.

Another highlight of the trip for me was leaving behind my home responsibilities: no cooking, cleaning, laundry, driving, etc. Just hanging out with the kids and other parents and getting to know them. Most of the parents sat in the back of the bus. We chatted, joked around, shared snacks and stories – even broke into a chorus of “Dream On” (complete with Steve Tyler’s high notes) while the Miracle credits were rolling. We may have been a little tired at that point. It didn’t take long before we had our own little repertoire of inside jokes, almost like kids ourselves.

Have you ever been to Washington, D.C.? What is your favorite place to visit there? If you haven't been, what would you like to see?

Monday, April 11, 2011

Be Back Later

Just a quick post to let you know I'll be offline for a while. I won't say why just yet, but I'll give you a hint.

I should have plenty of good material to use in my current and future writing since I'll be spending a lot of time with 40 11 through 14-year-olds.

Have a great week, my friends!

Friday, April 8, 2011

F is for Fabulous!

I'm not really participating in the A-Z Challenge that you've probably seen around the blogosphere. And those who are participating are on the letter "G" today. But today as I was leaving work, a bunch of fabulous F words (not those kind of words) kept popping into my head.

F is for Fabulous Friday!
One of the best feelings is striding to my car after work on a Friday afternoon.

Fabulous Fifties
It's starting to finally feel like spring here in the Northeast. A sunny day in the 50s definitely lightens my step and puts me in a good mood.

Foo Fighters
While running errands this afternoon I heard their new song, "Rope" twice. Did you know they have a new album coming out April 12th? Did you know they will be performing on SNL this Sat., April 9th?

I have been craving a coffee milkshake from Friendly's for a couple of weeks now. Today was the day I indulged in icecream bliss.

F-16 flyover
As I returned home, a thunderous sound filled the sky for about 5 seconds. Four F-16 planes were heading east. Which could only mean one thing...

Fenway's Opening Day!
For many Bostonians, today is the official first day of spring. Does it really matter that the Red Sox are 0-6 so far this season? Not on Fenway Park's opening day. Go Sox!

That fact never gets old, does it?

What's fabulous about your day today?

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Wouldn't It Be Easier to Just Give Up?

Yes. Yes, it would. There are days, weeks, months when my life is so crazy hectic with no end in sight. Giving up on the dream of publication would be the easy way out. I know I’m not alone, but sometimes it feels that way. When I'm feeling like this the voices get a little louder.

Publication is such a longshot.
Writing is time consuming.
Maybe my chance has passed me by.
I should have started when I was younger.

Doubts that my writing isn't good enough start to rattle my confidence. Frustration that I’m too tired at the end of a long day, a long week, and CRAP, a whole month has gone by and I’ve only added one scene to my ms. And the voice sounds soothing and sweet.

Wouldn’t it be easier to just give up?
You really don't have the time to pursue this now.
You're drowning in responsibilities.
Why don't you just quit?

Then while quickly browsing through my Blogger reader, I come across 2 posts from Adventures in Children’s Publishing which interview recently published authors. "How long did you work on this book?" ask the ladies of ACP.

Lousie Lambert – 3 years to write her book
Carole Etsby Dagg – started writing her book 17 years ago
Holly Black – Curse Workers 2 years
Malinda Lo – current novel 2 years; first novel 6 years
Martyn Bedford – 15 months
Jennifer Archer – from start to publication 6 years

Now I feel like a shmuck. My goal at the beginning of the year was to be finished with Nitpicky by June. I've been working on it for 17 months and I'm halfway through. After reading these interviews, a tiny glimmer of hope ignites.

Maybe I can do this.
I love to write.
If they can hang in there for the long haul, then so can I.

Then I visit Candyland. Not the place where you hope to turn over a Queen Frostine card rather than a Plumpy (didn’t you just hate when he sent you back to the beginning?) I mean the blog of the awesome Candace Ganger. I know she didn’t specifically write this post for me today, but it was exactly what I needed to hear. Especially because of this line...

"Because giving up is not an option."

It's nice to know we're not alone.

Friday, April 1, 2011

April Fool

My apologies to those who have been visiting only to find that I haven’t posted in almost a week. My head is hanging right now. The kids’ activities have kicked up a notch now that spring’s here and my girls are in a school production of Peter Pan, so yeah, basically, NO TIME.

Did I say spring’s here? Because when I woke to see 3 inches of snow on the ground I thought that perhaps a rogue time turner had thrown me back to January. Seriously, it was snowing sideways at 7:00am. Maybe it was the weather gods’ idea of a prank on April Fool’s Day. I wasn’t laughing.

Speaking of April Fool’s Day, I've got nothin.’ Not that I usually plan any elaborate pranks. I'm usually the gullible victim of said pranks. I thought of waking the kids with, “No school today! Look outside!” But I couldn’t bring myself to do that to them. In fact, I prefaced my “Kids, time to get up,” with “This isn’t an April Fool’s have school even though it’s snowing.”

If you have or work with kids, today can be fun. My 7-year-old tried to trick me with the ol’ “Mom! There’s a spider on your head!” After a brief panicked mental dialogue of, “Spider?! No way. Snow. Cold. Not Possible,” I dutifully pretend-shrieked, “WHERE???” (along with the accompanying hair mussing) while she collapsed in giggles and exclaimed, “APRIL FOOL’S!”

So, that's all I've got. I am the April fool. Have a great weekend everyone and I hope to get back to a less erratic blogging schedule soon.

ETA: Okay, very funny Blogger. You got me. Publishing my post as one loooooong paragraph instead of 5 separate ones is a total riot. But really, there's pizza to be bought, a play to attend. You can format correctly now.

How 'bout now?