So, we bought the American Girl doll in a middle class gesture to get Daughter attached to something other than her mother's tummy, fun though that has been. Daughter was thrilled by the doll in the catalog (and how did we ever get that first catalog through our door, anyway?). I bought a matching nightdress for doll and girl, because (cheap at heart) I know Daughter can wear nightgown all year, and through next winter as well. Although the doll will not outgrow hers, Daughter will, but first nightdresses just become... shorter.
Daughter named doll Sally. All day yesterday, the signs were good. Daughter spoke to Sally, took her everywhere, explained snow, and Christmas, and how to behave at a party ("don't take off your shoes, or your underwear").
However, today I'm a bit alarmed. The fear was that Daughter would not attach to Doll. I fear instead that Doll exerts more power than I gave American Girl credit for, and Daughter has become fetish object for Doll.
Daughter will only dress like the doll today, and wants to be called Sally as well. My tummy is also feeling a little slighted.
However, we did have a visit from The Man Himself on Christmas Eve, braving ice and snow on the busiest day of the year. It is Santa as we have him in a wall of pictures, one from each year, framed in the hall. But as we were missed off the studio call list this year, Santa took pity, and paid a personal visit.
Daughter, across dinner table, during ice storm: I have the power... of ICE! Son, in riposte: Oh yeah? I have the power of FIRE. Mom, kidding: I have the power of chicka chickaaah! Daughter: I have the power of love. That's the best. Son: I have the power of Donald Duck. You can't defeat that, because I'm fictional.
Daughter had a wonderful Christmas Polar-Express-style dream that she firmly believes actually happened ("it was a awesome night").
In it, Santa collected her from our house by sleigh, then flew to the school to collect two of her best friends, and then returned her to the house. She was sleepy when he first arrived, but then woke up. Along the way, she discovered:
* Rudolph does not have a red nose, but a white one (it glows) * His nose is in fact tiny * Oddly, he flies in the rear of the formation and not in front * And so do the rest of the reindeer (ie. behind the sleigh) * Santa doesn't come down chimneys at all! The whole roof just dissolves off the house! So the reindeer can come in too! Because he's magic! He knows what you're thinking!
At the end of the ride, Santa put two gifts into her hands (wrapped in pink paper with Barbies on them: "he noticed that I like pink").
How to: * tactfully not refer to it as a dream, let alone an abduction * tactfully explain that Santa was being kind in putting the reindeer in back. Oats give them gas, and while Santa is used to it, three little girls might not be * explain why her brother wasn't invited: perhaps it was a five year old thing, especially for five year olds? * get some pink wrapping paper with barbies on it at this late hour? Because, as daughter also explained: "tomorrow and tomorrow after that it's Christmas!"
Son, to his sister: I'm bored. Daughter: I'm bored too. But you're boring.
On the writing front there is much labor and sweat and persistence, all of which I understand to be key ingredients. I'm slowly working on the early chapters of a YA novel, and enjoying it a great deal. When I need a break from that, I'm exploring new types of magazine writing, like rebuses: fictional and non-. Thanks to one of my lovely crit group members from Kansas City, who brought a rebus that Highlights had purchased and showed us how they tick, I have had fun playing in those waters! There is craft in keeping to 120 words or so, telling a story, using age leveled vocabulary, and a set ratio of concrete (illustratable) nouns with some repetition. Try one! They're bite-sized wonders.
And have set up a new ms exchange with another SCBWI Kansas City-ite, to swap chapter book drafts. Am enjoying the critiquing there too.
Oh, and have another piece published in the regional quarterly newsletter of the Kansas SCBWI, In the Wind, called "Breaching Decorum," about selective register leaps in children's picture books (December 2009 issue).
I spend some weeks mailing out a lot of pieces. I remember back to working on the doctoral dissertation. One piece of advice that was helpful from another grad student (in computing!) was to do at least one thing a day toward the cause. If that meant buying post-it notes, then so be it. Usually one thing lead to another and another, of course, but sometimes it didn't and post-it notes were the only thing accomplished in a day. Nevertheless, like knitting it came together one stitch at a time. The same mentality (without the luxury of time) worked for the Bluebeard book, the second one written around teaching full-time and having babies and raising them. Some days, only one email got sent out "toward the cause." So now it is with the kidlit writing and editing and mailing. Some days, I just want to play with my binders, put them in order with dividers, and create systems to manage the different genres and communications going back and forth. It never feels like wasted time.
So, before going in to work to complete finals grading, I'm going to work for an hour or so on my novel! Have a great weekend all.
Daughter, in non-stop excited babble on the car trip to Kansas City (where it had snowed), for her annual checkup:
Are we in Kansas City? Are those houses Kansas City? Why would anyone live here? It's so crowded! ... Oh! I know. They come here because of the snow. Why do they get to have a snow world and we don't? Are all those people in cars coming to Kansas City too? Are they moving here for the snow? Oh, there's some sun. Are we in California now?
Daughter (5): Can I be excused? Me, to daughter: Eat a bite of your omelette first. Daughter: Well, I'm making it into shapes. Me: Yeah, well eat a shape. Daughter: Okay. But I'll only eat the trapezoid.
Son (8) swinging a Christmas ornament in front of his sister: You are getting sleepy. When I click my fingers, you will do whatever I tell you to, for the rest of the day. Got it? [click] Okay, hang this ornament. Daughter, ignores him. Son: I said you have to hang this ornament. Daughter, ignores him. Son: You are getting sleepy. When I click my fingers, you will do whatever I tell you to, for the next HOUR. Got it? Daughter, ignores him.