Wednesday, December 17, 2008

60,633 words

That's 106 pages. 302 pages when it's double spaced. But the end is in sight, I'm nearly there and when I get there I'm going to have to go through it all with a big red pen. Yay me? I guess it's a little soon for Yay.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Santa is a chump

Seriously, who would have thought there could be a down side to the kids not watching too much tv or not having cable? How could it prove to be detrimental to our experience as parents? I didn't see it coming, that's for sure.

If they watched T.V., if they were well versed in commercial culture, they'd have a whole host of gimme items ready for the 'season of giving.' But no, my kids make stuff up for Santa to make just for them, creations straight from their brains to the little hands of the elves. I guess it makes sense to imagine that for a magical fellow inventing new things wouldn't be hard. Maybe they could include blue prints or specs though. .

Tully this year tells me that Santa will bring her a duck that makes sounds. Not just quaking sounds, but cow and sheep sounds too, maybe even naming things as it sees them. It will also walk and go up and down stairs. This was after she told me that real Santa, come down the chimney Santa, was dead. He has since then apparently recovered. Good to know Jesus hasn't cornered the market on resurrections.

Felix is looking for a crane, of course the elves will know how to make that, because they gave him one last year (a handy-me-down that eventually broke). This year he wants it to be as tall as the Christmas tree and strong enough to lift Daddy. I think there was something in there about wheels and remote controls but I tuned out at some point overwhelmed by impossibility. He did say Santa might just surprise him, so there's some wiggle room.

Emer, as if sensing Santa's malaise, has gone uncharacteristically easy this year and simply wants a chef's hat and apron. This is a big improvement from last year when she wanted a remote controlled robot horse. But don't be fooled by the apparent ease of filling her request. You couldn't possibly think it would be that simple could you? She's been learning about electronics with Eric and wants to hook up a motion detector somewhere near the stockings so she can collect evidence of Santa's existence. Ah, the innocence and simplicity of youth.

Meanwhile if you ever need to make a calendar for your family from photos, the IMac kicks butt. It was so much easier this year, one might even say painless.

Yesterday the girls had their Irish Dance recital and they both did really well and had a lot of fun up on stage. I laughed through Tully's whole performance I was so tickled. We're going to get the video they offer of the performance later and I'll probably post a link.

In other news, the novel. 286 pages and I probably have 3-5 chapters to go. Then I need to let it rest for a while and get some distance from it. As for the middle school book, agent man tells me he'll have critique done by New Year's and also have some others read it.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Meet my epiphany

Epiphany, this is everyone.
Everyone, this is my epiphany. (Yes she's a little scrawny but don't tell her that.)

Alternating chapters with a different time line! A fiction book about the failing economy is asking a lot of readers. It's demanding and tedious to get the ideas down, throw in examples, instances where dynamics are at work. It's a little dull, I'll admit it. My novel is dull.
How to spice it up? It's not like I don't have a huge word count goal to work with here, what to do besides throw in some sex? There's a whole after the climax/ending story that makes the slow tedious build up worth it.

So I'm going to interlace in the story chapters from the future tracing back to the big climax while the alternating storyline of the past ticks forward toward the climax and they culminate in the wham bam present! Structurally it make sense to me, but I'll be surprised if I can pull it off. What the hell, it's worth a try. Also I found a hell of an opening line so at least that's going well.

Meanwhile Epiphany's ugly cousin, Belated Realization, has been lurking around and this is what she told me: It's time I let go of the fantasy of agent-man reading my manuscript and falling in love with it or passing it along to someone who could love it.
It was a nice fantasy but really it's not getting me anywhere.

That said, you can only have one first time. No matter where I go with the writing he will always be the first agent to read my work. I don't want to sully that relationship by nagging emails asking if he's read it yet or forgotten all about it. Like the one night stand that keeps calling afterward I don't want to be that girl. Busy man, reading manuscripts that need to become books. I'm on his desk somewhere, he'll find the time eventually, and with a little patience I'll still have my self respect. Seriously if he doesn't write back by December I'm going to go nuts. Maybe it's taking so long because he's tediously listing how each sentence truly sucks. Ack.

To keep my mind off it, I focus on my word counts with nanowrimo and trying to hit my goals. Which for some reason reminds me of the title of a book, Run Rabbit Run.

In other news we're trying to pick art night back up though it's harder to get out of the house in the winter, it's worth it to see Mary as she's recovering from surgery. This is my latest project with her, called an expanded square. There's rules with it and it feels kind of restrictive at first, but once you start breaking the rules, like with most things it becomes more fun.

Friday, November 14, 2008

words, words, and then a whole lot more of them

I couldn't help it. I'd missed last year, I'd forgotten that November was coming around again and now it's here. Nation Novel Writing Month. Ack!

Now the problem is that I already have half a novel that I'd been tinkering away on and I didn't want to cheat -that's just not the spirit of the whole thing. I didn't want to start a new novel and abandon my original idea -I have so few good ideas that I follow through to fruition. So I made myself a deal. The goal of Nanowrimo is to make it to 50,000 words by the end of the month. I made it to that total yesterday, so now I'm going to start counting towards the next 50,000 and that will give me just oodles of material to slash and burn when I go to editing. I might not make it, but what a rush to try.

And as a newbie to the whole process I'm making some classic mistakes like jotting down some ideas for another story and wasting precious words on that. So if you look at my word counts and it doesn't seem impressive just remember I've got another 50,000 in my back pocket. So phooey on you.

No seriously, I've got to get back to work.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Happy Election Day!

This is Tully's constant companion lately. He's had a few different names. For the longest time I thought it was just, my creature, but apparently it was Emaleash first, then there was a super hero phase where he was Super Red, and now he is named Magnetscrew. She takes the cake in the quirky kid competition.

Eric and I are like zombie people lately with head colds that seem to bar all but truly critical functions of day to day life. The only silver lining is the big happy of election day.

I realized today that this is like a holiday for me in the way Xmas used to be when I was a kid. When I wake up in the morning I have no idea what's going to be waiting for me under the tree. I hope I've been good and I don't have a piece of coal to look forward to.

I voted, did you?

Thursday, October 09, 2008

3 posts in a month? What the heck!

Here are my illustrations for the story, Elliot's Weekend. With some of the text that led to each. I'm sending them out today to two mags. Yeah that's right, I'm on a first syllable name basis with a periodical. What of it?

.. .Friday Elliot's dad picks him up from school. He gives Elliot crackers and an apple to eat while they drive and a bottle of water to drink. Elliot waits for the red lights before he unscrews the cap and drinks the water.. . Elliot's dad unpacks his pajamas and helps him change. They go to the bathroom and brush their teeth. Daddy is wearing his silly pajamas with the monkeys all over.

. . .and then the happy ending -

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Where I'm headed

Rough idea for an abstract. Done with Art Rage, a free program that mimics paint. Even has a palette knife effect. When I get it on canvas I want to experiment and throw some sand into the wet paint.

Saturday, October 04, 2008

I remember I have a blog!

I haven't been very blogtastic as of late but things are looking up so it's still worth checking back here, you know, like twice a year and I might have a new post or two.

Summer ended, school began, and my few hours alone each morning are a big happy.
I'm finally getting organized with my priorities and figuring out what I'm doing. It had felt before like I had to choose between painting and writing and I had been focusing most of my attention on writing but having finished a few manuscripts and done some research it seems like illustrating my pieces is fairly practical. If you look at my work it has more of an illustrative style than fine art anyway. The only difficulty is switching from oil to acrylic but that's more of a fun challenge than a problem. One of my favorite illustrators, Georg Hallensleben, is a former oil painter who now does Acrylic and his stuff rocks my world. Hopefully his style can inform mine.

The manuscripts:
I have one very short story for early readers about a boy's first weekend visit to his dad's new apartment, titled Elliot. I'm going to illustrate it with three small pieces and submit it to some children's literature magazines. It was doing the research about that market where I learned that doing my own illustrations makes sense. I had thought that it was just a conceit or vanity to want to see my artwork with my writing, but then it dawned on me -that's twice the paycheck because you're doing two jobs! I'm looking at the submission and rejection process as just that, a process that I'll have to chug through for quite a while before I begin to make progress but I'll be learning the whole time.

I have another small chapter book for late elementary to middle grade readers. I'm really excited about this one. Recently there was a writing competition here in Leesburg based on the American Idol show. 3 literary agents served as the panelists. They explained that more and more these days the fate of a book lies in the title and the tag line.
This was mine.

Learning Magic: A step by step guide for solving problems of sibling rivalry with curses, hexes, potions and spells.

Tag line:
Saddled with an unusual name, unhappy in her family, and escaping into the magic of books a bit too often, Dorcas Fidelia Meadows gives herself the task of proving that magic is real and then using it to fix her life.

Based on the tag line I made it to the Maybe pile. Later, looking at my query letter I was promoted to the Yes pile. All of the manuscripts from this pile were read out loud for a minute and a half and the audience of writers voted.

I won second place. The prize is to have my manuscript professionally critiqued by an agent. Yippee!

I have another small elementary age book, that I plan to illustrate with sharp well composed photos titled Woo.

I also have what could be a Young Adult or just plain novel titled A Fragile Collapse. -This is the one that's especially frustrating lately. 6 months ago it had sounded really cutting edge and interesting to look at a single mother convinced the next great depression was coming and preparing in more and more extreme ways till there is a breaking point between her and the teenage daughter.
The concept is still good, but less cutting edge. Now I have to focus on character development, plot and the rest of it instead of relying on clever concept.

I'm thinking I'll still use the Etsy site to sell prints of the illustrations I make. I might also offer a line of the abstracts I'm making. I did one for a friend as a house warming gift and it was so much fun I'm going to have to do more. This is 3 1/2 feet wide. It's supposed to be Rothko-esque but looks more like a frozen screen in an old school video game. Dig it I've got a new signature.

The kids are all doing really well. Emer is still taking Irish dance, plus skateboarding and piano lessons. Felix has been taking swimming lessons and has been panicking less in the water. He's reading like crazy and loves kindergarten and is also learning piano. Tully has a blast in preschool and the morning daycare with Ms. Wendy. She brings home all sorts of artwork and new songs and she's started doing a little Irish dance class too.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Apply Heat and Pressure

I wish things would just slow down for a little bit. For one thing, the headlines. I mentioned that I'm trying to write a novel -it seems pretentious to even admit it but what the heck, trying to do something is better than not trying. The problem is that the plot is built off of current events and things keep happening. My fiction hardly has any chance of being prophetic and insightful if it just describes the real world. How annoying.

In other news of the annoying, Eric is back in Kazhikstan for the rest of the summer. I remember when he got back from the last time, and he was feeling a little guilty about being away I had said something along the lines of, 'It wasn't all that bad, at least they all had school. I can't imagine if it was during the summer.'

Well at least I won't have to strain my imagination muscles. Lucky for me Eric's grandparents gave both Emer and Felix the gift of some summer camp, so those two weeks should help. And I could sign up for more if I'm going too crazy. I'm trying to fill up the calendar with activities and I'm developing a schedule for each day along with their list of chores so they know what to expect. There isn't much I can't handle, but this is one of those things that makes me whine, "Do I really have to?"

While he is gone I also have to plan a birthday party soon for Tully who is turning 3! And that's really the light at the end of the tunnel because she's going to do some preschool next year and hopefully fingers crossed some day care hours in the morning! I say fingers crossed because full time kids take priority in the day care across the hall from her preschool so I have to wait and see if she got in. It will be mighty convenient if she does though. I can even have Felix bused to the community center so I can pick them both up at the same time.

The highlight of the summer for me so far though was our trip to Chincoteague. We stayed in this really cute little old cottage and it was just so nice. Eric and I found it a little surreal that our idea of a vacation spot was somewhere that had sidewalks and a walkable downtown area. We were so fortunate that Kristi and Alise were able to come down and spend some time with us. Having friends to share the experience made it all the better. Best of all we were walking distance to the best ice cream shop where they also made fudge! The kids were also introduced to letterboxing and I have to say it was a lot of fun

Besides focusing on keeping the summer sane and trying to be productive I also have the garden to focus on as everything is coming up and thriving. Anyone need some zukes?

Friday, May 02, 2008

Here I am!

To post or not to post. . . well for the last few months, you can see where I fell in that spectrum. But here I am again, wondering what I have to say. I think I've been using up all my words in a new writing jag I've been on. I have one manuscript for a children's book done, but I'm working on the illustrations for it. I have the first in a series of early reader books done. I'm in the beginning stages of a young adult novel -or it might just be a novel novel, and I'm trying to round out an essay I'm submitting. When I put it all down like that it sounds like I've been getting a lot done, which is comforting since I don't have anything to show for it all yet.

In writing I miss how immediate the results are with painting. I saw a documentary recently on the life of Georges Remi aka Herge the author/artist of Tin Tin. In it there was a point where he discussed wanting to be a fine artist rather than a cartoonist but he lamented that to be a fine artist he would have to live the life of an artist and that he couldn't fit two lives into his one. Something to that effect. It made sense to me.

My idea of starting an art collective has settled into a great Tuesday night tradition of painting/sketching/experimenting with a few friends and this has been a nice way to keep the creativity going.

On the farm here, spring is springing. It's all so beautiful it's almost cliche. This year I got ambitious about the garden and I also tried to design it a little more interesting than plain rows. The teepee you see in the center here has morning glory and moonflowers all at it's base and it should fill out to be a nice spot for the kids. Also the garden is made up almost entirely things that they could eat right off the vine. This is handy since Tully has developed a taste for mint, wild onions, sage and garlic chives. Her breath most nights, when I haul her in from the outdoors, is atrocious.

Project wise I'm still recovering from a bout of furniture painting that took me over as I sanded, primed, and painted two bedside tables as a welcome home present for Eric. Notice how sturdy these things are. The kids could climb all over them and they aren't going to tip over. I couldn't believe what they were charging in stores for the flimsiest little things. The shape of them is sort of classic seventies but with the paint I thought it looked stylish. I also found an old window in a shed here and I taped off the glass, spray painted it black and mounted pics of the kids, dogs and us to each pane and hung it above the bed. I think it looks fabu, but he didn't notice it until I mentioned it. I thought it would be nice to have our room look more like our room and less like the place we shove stuff not meant for the kids, only to have them drag their stuff into our stuff and leave all the stuff lying around. -Of course that only happens when you're blatenly neglecting them to finish silly over ambitious projects.

Friday, February 15, 2008

The luckiest flat tire, ever.

So two days after the long car saga I piled the kids in the car and we were going to the store to pick up toothpaste, and hit the library. I know it's just too exciting to bare. So we'd barely pulled down the drive and I was asking the kids to quiet down because something didn't sound right with the car. By the time we hit the road I was telling Felix more firmly to hush up so I could hear that noise. By the time I got to the main drag I was running through this laundry list of new vocabulary words, front wheel alignment, struts, maybe loose lugnuts, maybe a loose tire? I drove as I ran through the options in my head. Realizing I was low on gas I pulled over to Costco. While I was filling up walked around the car and checked all the lug nuts only to see I had a flat tire. Very flat. I turned to the couple near me and asked if they could see an air pump near by. There wasn't. But the gentleman directed me to Costco's tire department to fill it. So I did. They were slow at the time and the man asked me to pull around and offered to take a look at it. As he put air in it, we could both see the nail and the hear the air hissing out. My first reaction was to kid around with the guy and in the process I blurted out that we had bought the tires at Costco. I had only meant to tease him about the quality of the tires, I mean -not impervious to nails? The nerve. The man's eyes lit up and he told me to go around to the office because they were probably on warranty -and lo and behold they were! So that's how I got my free tire.
Of course I had to wait for an hour for them to put it on. The kids and I killed time getting four big tubes of toothpaste. Little did I realize that it was the worst container of toothpaste ever. The kids were incapable of getting the attached cap to click on, and left on its side the paste just pours out to form these huge blue lagoon style puddles on the edge of the sink. But hey, I got a free tire! If I'd have gone anywhere else I probably wouldn't have remembered where we'd bought them and I would have just paid to have it replaced.
At this point I realize that the glitches in my system of three bad things are just too hard to work out. I have to re-envision history in order to fit events into the theory and it's failing all together at helping to predict when I'm done with a string of bad luck. I mean does a flat tire even count if it's replaced for free? Does a bad tune up count if it's refunded? These are some of the things I found myself pondering as I lay curled in a fetal position at the base of the stairs with a broken ankle.
The hallway light had gone out earlier in the day and I was worried about the kids falling in the dark stairwell. While dinner was cooking I had a little time so I went up to the first landing and got the lightbulb out and headed down the stairs. As I headed down I remember thinking that this wasn't so dark. Then I missed the last three steps. The lightbulb however remained unbroken. Can you imagine how inconvenient it would have been to clean up the broken glass? I spent a little time cursing like a sailor (no offense to the clean mouthed sailors in the world). The hardest part was pulling it together to tell Emer to just give me a minute, so that she wouldn't be scared. Then the timer went off on the dinner in the stove, so like Pavlov's dog I answered the beep and hopped up and got the dinner out on their plates, and served at the table. When I sat down to rest for a minute, I realized that I felt like I needed to pass out and throw up. Kneeling near the toilet I figured that either my ankle was broken or I was really turned off by my own cooking at this point.

I really like bed time for the kids. Once they've had dinner, we're on a getting ready for bed trajectory that I just hate to interrupt. I knew that once they were all in bed I could think it through clearly, call friends and pull together a plan for childcare and a ride to a doctor -because my luck being what it is, I busted my driving foot ankle. We finished the kid part of the evening, but not before making all 20 of Felix's valentines for his classmates and his party at school the next day, clearing up the kitchen and all the other chores. Emer helped a great deal tucking people into bed and fetching things for me. Once they were all in bed I made my calls, again realizing how fortunate I am to have found so many great people to populate my life. By the time I went to bed, I had a plan. Next morning that plan had to be scrapped because school was canceled on account of the ice storm, and before I even had time to really scramble, friends called and offered to help. At the hospital I was really happy to get it wrapped up and to get crutches, because as adept as I am at hopping, it gets old, as does crawling up the stairs. Then the next day Eric came home! He was so out of it with tired though, that it was like he was only half here. I think it's also really disorienting to come from his experience to this home. For five weeks he's had a driver, security guard, translator, laundry lady, cafeteria lady and maid, as well as no kids.
Today I went to get my cast and the silliest things pleased me. Having a ride that I didn't have to call for, having an appointment with a doc by myself. Again I got lucky! Instead of a cast and all the trouble I'd have keeping it dry in the shower, or trying to drive or not being able to drive, I have a boot! Oh happy boot. And just in time too, because by now the crutches were killing me and I ached all over from using them. My friendly boot fitter explained that the crutches were set all wrong for me and I shouldn't have to stoop way over to use them. And I'm satisfied to know that I'm not some crutch wimp with no upper body strength, no, I am super mom, queen of all things difficult and unlucky. Queen of the universe.I'm also just so satisfied to know that there really isn't anything I can't handle. Eric has been helpful since he got home, but he's also not babying or pampering me either. At first this annoyed me a little. I mean, I had a few ordeals, not to mention the usual grind of kids needing so much all the time and he didn't fuss over me or drown me in 'poor baby' kind of comfort. What I realize though, is that it isn't that he doesn't appreciate all that I went through or that it was difficult, it's just that he had all the confidence in the world that I could handle it. He never doubted that I could handle it, and the only one that's at all surprised is me.

Saturday, February 02, 2008

Lucky 3

I know. It's almost eerie the silence over here. We're actually fairing pretty well, though the first two weeks seemed like a trial by fire, which came to test my confidence in the number 3.

You see it's always seemed to me that bad things came in threes. I like it. It's a small number, you rack up three bad things, and then you know you're done. What I found though was the problems with the system, glitches. You see, I was counting the failed hot water heater as 1, the dog throwing up on the bed as 2, and a simple tune-up on the car gone horribly wrong as 3. So you see I was done. But then with the three inches of very wet snow, the power failed, and I quickly realized that dog vomit is not as bad as I had previously assessed.

So we made it for two hours with no electricity. I went into planning mode and I quickly fixed them dinner, put them all into their warmest PJ's, and we lit the candles and told stories. Then the power came on again, and we did a little power is great dance, spent a half hour watching tv and then it went out again. So once it got dark we all went up to bed and Emer and I tried to remember the plot of every Shrek movie. Tully eventually fell asleep -Emer is an excited story teller, then Felix then Emer. I fell asleep quickly.

Later my luck turned. But I have to go back before I can go forward. You see I had originally scheduled a tune up for the car because it was sounding a bit funny and I suspected the air filter was clogged and needed replacing. Eric had taken his car for a check up before his trip and he had told me the story of all the mechanics huddled around his car laughing, only to discover they were laughing because his air filter was filled with nuts. So with visions of nuts in my air filter I strolled into the dealership and explained my crazy theory of air filters and a car that didn't seem to have the right amount of pick up. Have you been to a dealership? Because this is how they set up the mark; let you sit in the waiting room with cnn repeating the same stories for what seems an eternity, call out your name with their little clip board in hand and say they'd just like to talk over a few things with you. This is where they pile on the additional services that would cost a fraction at a regular mechanic and try to talk you into going for the full service package. I was in that waiting room long enough to see the pattern, also to see that besides the elderly and women there weren't any stereotypical -I have an innate knowledge of cars type fellas around either.

So the guy called me over for our little talk and I agreed to replace the left front strut that was leaking. I also said I would probably reschedule another day to have the brakes and rotors replaced but that I really had to go. I also asked on my air filter and if it had been checked. Guy told me it had, tried to talk me into more. Finally, I leave the dealership. I run some errands and then have all three kids in the car and the engine light comes on, suddenly the car is straining to get up hill. I managed to get where I was going, though I was pretty stressed out at this point. Luckily a friend had met me where we were dropping the kids, she followed me back to the dealership where I left the keys, as well as a few choice words about how I had taken the car there so this wouldn't happen and that I wanted a diagnosis by the morning. Morning came and I called only to be told that I have a failed throttle position sensor which is a non serviceable part and the entire throttle body would need to be replace for 1750! Oh but the dear gents offered to get to my brakes too. So scrambling in my mind for some rational thing that had been overlooked I asked again about my air filter and if it had been checked and he said that it had and I asked if he could verify that it had been checked and he said he could. I also asked about the fuel filter, same story. I told him I would call him later to tell him what I had decided but that at the moment I had no confidence in either their ability or trustworthiness. Okay, my language was a little more course than that, but I'm giving you the cleaned up version. Long story short, no really it's still long -I limped it over to another mechanic and they took the throttle apart, cleaned it, put it back together and charged not much at all. I had them replace the brake pads and resurface the rotors too. They are now on my xmas card list and I'm going to bring them home baked cookies. They liked my nuts in the filter story, especially when they pulled out my filter to see that is was as black as night.

I went back to the dealership. With Tully on my hip, her naked Madeline doll in her hand and a dirty filter in my other hand. I dropped it on the guys desk and asked if he had a minute. I gave him my tirade, loud enough so other customers could hear, he sent me to the service manager, I repeated my shpeal and they stonewalled me. At this point I was shaking. There's this adreneline rush that comes with confrontation and for me it's like a whole pot of coffee. I threatened to call the better business bureau, call one of those consumer reporters from the local news agency, and take them to small claims court. I felt like the shaking was my tell though and it was giving away my bluff that I don't really have the time or resources to pursue all that. They said I could do what I please, and that an air filter wasn't covered in the minimal tune up. I left feeling foolish. Still shaking. Air filter with me of course for my fictional court case.

20 minutes later I got the call that they would be refunding the cost of the tune up back to my card. I think the naked Madeline doll was the most compelling component of my argument though. And while I was getting the call about that I proceeded to find 3 cheap and sturdy pieces of furniture that we'd been needing at Salvation Army! My lucky day!

That's all the story I have time for tonight but in my next installation of the continuing saga I'll tell the tale of the luckiest flat tire I've ever had. It's a much shorter story I promise.

Things are looking up! And here's proof. Don't forget to vote!

Yes We Can - Barack Obama Music Video

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

He made it!

Eric called me today and after a long long flight and not much sleep, he is in Biakanor Kazakhstan. Funny stories about his trip include the painful gas he had for the first length of his journey, Moscow and the very very deep subway system and the old green train that lives there, and his bag that didn't make it when he did. The latest word is that his bag just made it to Moscow and it should be reunited with him by Friday. With just the clothes on his back I'm glad he had a heavy coat, hat and gloves with him on the plane, it's 5 below there now. He washed his clothes in the bathtub of his room and dried them with a hair dryer. He brushed his teeth with a face cloth and the good times have just begun!
He sounded exhausted but upbeat and I'm sure he's going to have a great experience finally being at a launch after 7 years in aerospace. He's going to email me some of his adventures with pictures and I'll post them here since international travel is so interesting. I'll keep you all posted on how we're managing here as well. I'm pretty upbeat as well though, as I've had plenty of time to prepare for the idea and I think I've got my head in the game. Raising three kids in the comfort of my home beats the crap out of hand washing my one set of clothes in a tub.