Monday, November 30, 2009

Getting in the spirit...

Thanksgiving weekend! Is there a better time to dig out the Christmas decorations and begin the long process of decking the house with lights and merriment? Is there a better time for Mama to make herself scarce, where she can't view her baby climbing around on the rooftop?

Please note Ben's shorts and tee shirt. It was 80 degrees this weekend! Nathan took the time to lay on the roof and tell Michael that he was going to work on his tan...

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Twenty-seven and 50,000

27 days. Little sleep. Lots of support from family and friends. 50,000+ words.

I did it! Three days early! I wrote all morning, afternoon, and evening with just a two hour break for dinner at the Chase's house so that I could plow through nearly 6,000 words. And at about 10:00 p.m., I copied and pasted what I'd written so far into the word count verifier at the National Novel Writing Month website and this screen popped up:There was dancing. There was singing. There were a couple of smiles that stretched from ear to ear. And then I tore into my special you-finished-NaNoWriMo-gift to myself, Stephen King's latest 1,000+ page novel, Under the Dome. There will be no more writing until I'm done reading! Hooray!

My novel is only "finished" because I met the NaNoWriMo requirements of 50,000 words in 30 days. My novel is not really anywhere close to actually being finished. It's more like a really rough first draft. I need a little time away from it to decide if it's worth picking back up and making something great out of it, or walking away and starting something new. But I've got 1,000 delicious pages of my new Stephen King book to get through before I even think about making that decision!

Thank you to everyone who gave me such amazing words of encouragement during this crazy month, especially my husband and my amazing boys! And yes, I can tell you that I would totally be up for doing this again! And you have eleven months to decide if you want to do it with me...

Day 27: 50,160 words!

Friday, November 27, 2009


The annual Thanksgiving snapshot of the boys:

Thanksgiving in the maternity floor waiting room with the Rose Family, without the children. Thanks to the H1N1 virus, no one under the age of 18 is allowed in the hospital unless they are a patient. There were many families sitting outside the hospital with their kids, having a Thanksgiving picnic. We left our kids at the Chase's.

Since they couldn't go in person, the boys made a special Thanksgiving greeting with their photo to give to Baby Brooke! How sweet!
Home from the hospital, and loading the car with our contribution to the Chase Family Thanksgiving dinner, the boys decide to climb a tree in the front yard. One of them stepped on the main water spigot, which cracked below ground leading to a geyser in the front lawn. We couldn't turn off the main water line, so we called the city. Because it was a holiday, they sent the fire department, in their biggest ladder truck to turn off the water at the street. Nathan saw my face and began to cry, fearful he wasn't long for this world. He was lucky it was Thanksgiving!
We are that family who can never have a simple, quiet holiday. It just doesn't happen. It's not Thanksgiving (or Christmas) unless things get wildly out of control in a quirky and unexpected way. We don't have a lot of family traditions that carry from one year to the next, but it would seem that this is the one that has stuck!

Day 26 NaNoWriMo Stats:
44,551 words down
5,449 words to go
4 days remaining

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Wednesday, November 25, 2009


After spending most of the night in the hospital with my family, I slept for a few hours and woke up in time to remember I was scheduled to work in Ben's class for their half-day Thanksgiving feast celebration. Off I went with bags under my eyes and really dirty hair. The kids in his class are amazing... I've never seen such a group of really good kids. They made my job so easy! My job was to help them hunt for cranberries, clean them off, then cook them up into cranberry sauce which everyone sampled at the feast. Yum!

That night we had tickets to go see How the Grinch Stole Christmas at the Pantages Theatre in Hollywood. We got the tickets so we could go with Michael R., a friend of mine from college who was in town for the week. But my friend's son back home ended up having to be rushed to the hospital and so my friend rushed home to be with his son. So we invited Michael's Mom to come with us. I was bleary eyed with exhaustion, but as I told another friend, the day I let a little thing like lack of sleep, huge bags under the eyes, and dirty hair stop me from going to the theater is the day I've gone to the big curtain call in the sky!

We all wore green to get in the Grinchmas Spirit, except Grandma, who doesn't own any green! It was a fun little show, and if you're in Los Angeles for the holidays, you might think about getting tickets to see it before it closes!

Day 24 NaNoWriMo Stats:

40,089 words down
9,911 words to go
6 days remaining

Tuesday, November 24, 2009


Monday was my day to clean house and do all the marketing in preparation for Thanksgiving on Thursday. But things didn't work out as planned. Not for me, and not for most members of the Rose side of the family!

My cousin Matthew and his wife Vanessa were expecting a baby the first week of February. But mid-day on Monday, Vanessa started experiencing some major distress with swelling and chest pain. Matt and Vanessa are cadets with the Salvation Army, currently in school at the College for Officer Training at Crestmont in Palos Verdes, CA. They came straight from a class, in their uniforms, to the hospital. Vanessa was told they had to take the baby immediately via an emergency c-section. It was very frightening for many reasons. Vanessa had some very serious complications even after the newest member of my family was born. Meet Brooke Rose Jensen, born November 23rd, weighing 2lbs, 10oz, and measuring 14 inches long. As you can see, my cousin Matt is an extremely proud father!

Members of the family all gathered in the maternity waiting room for news of how Vanessa was doing. Short answer: not good. Baby Brooke on the other hand, is doing great. I got to go into the NICU with Matt to meet this little girl, and it brought back so many memories of our experience with Benjamin when he was in the NICU (Neonatal Intensive Care Unit) after his birth. Needless to say, all Thanksgiving plans for the Rose family (which revolved around lunch at Matt's mother's house) were cancelled!

Day 23 NaNoWriMo Stats:
37,714 words down
12,286 words to go
7 days remaining (behind again, but with good reason)

Monday, November 23, 2009


Here is Benjamin, with his model at the hobby shop:

Day 22 NaNoWriMo Stats:
37,714 words down
12,286 words to go
8 days remaining (caught up, whew!)

Sunday, November 22, 2009


A local hobby shop hosted the Cub Scouts for a day of model making for free, plus lunch. Very generous! Here is Nathan:

Day 21 NaNoWriMo Stats:
32,714 words down
17,286 words to go
9 days remaining (uh-oh... slipping behind!)

Saturday, November 21, 2009


Friday night was the night I promised we could go back out and actually spend the gift card Nathan got for his birthday. You may recall that for Ben's birthday, our youngest son generously offered to split his birthday gift card with Nathan. So this time it was Nathan's turn to return the favor and split his card with Ben. When we went to pay for their goodies, we discovered that until January 3rd, Disneyland is actually offering ALL Annual Passholders the 10% merchandise discount that only the top tier of Passholders normally get. Which basically covers the tax... but still, it was a nice gesture on Disney's part! We didn't go on a single ride, and it was the very first time I've ever seen my boys get excited about shopping!

Day 20 NaNoWriMo Stats:

30,223 words down
19,777 words to go
10 days remaining

Friday, November 20, 2009


Mom, for my birthday I want a chocolate cake with chocolate chips in it. And I want white chocolate frosting. Oh and cream cheese frosting. And I want red icing and white sparkles and some strawberry filling. And can it have nine layers, since I'm going to be nine?

Lucky Nathan was born to this particular mother. The kind of mother who says, "absolutely" to that type of request. My only compromise was on the number of layers. He said nine, but I said four. He was totally cool with that. As you can see. It ain't a pretty cake, but my aim was to please one person, and he gave it two frosting-covered thumbs up!

Day 19 NaNoWriMo Stats:

29,682 words down
20,318 words to go
11 days remaining

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Eighteen or "we've got a 9 year old in the house!"

Today we celebrated the boy who changed my name from Heather to Mommy, nine years ago! I love this boy so much. And thinking of the fact that he is now halfway to eighteen... well, I will admit I shed actual tears over that.

As soon as he was out of school, I took the boys and raced out to Disneyland so he could collect his $70 gift card. The Castle looked stunning, all decked out for Christmas.

Michael was working across the way, so he joined us for dinner and a quick spin on Space Mountain - birthday boy's choice. Do you know who else shares a birthday with Nathan? Why none other than Mickey Mouse himself! It's appropriate, as they are both quite the character!
And then we cut up to downtown Los Angeles where we took the boys to see Mary Poppins at the Ahmanson Theatre. Guess who else joined us? My Mom and Dad! Everyone loved the show, especially my Dad who was notorious for falling dead asleep in all of my high school and college productions...
Nathan told me it was his best birthday ever, despite the fact that he didn't get to open a single gift! We wanted to wait until the next day since we didn't get home from the show until after 11:00 p.m.

No change from Day 17!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009


Sometimes I'll take a photo of one of the boys and it will give me a glimpse of what I'm sure they will look like as teens or adults. In this one, I can totally see Benjamin as a young man of 19 or 20...

Day 17 NaNoWriMo Stats:

28,273 words down
21,727 words to go
13 days remaining

Tuesday, November 17, 2009


Wisdom from the funny pages...
Moms never get sick days, do they? And the worst thing is that Moms don't get sick until everyone else in the house is completely healthy and full of the energy that didn't get burned off while they were laid up in bed. My Mom was not the type who babied us while we were sick. She was more practical and efficient. I remember she was always there to hold my hair back if I was throwing up, and she had this total 1970's flowery blue washcloth that she would wet and place on our foreheads when we had fevers. I took the washcloth home with me after a visit years ago, and I use the same one on my boys when they are burning up. She never babied us, but she was a huge advocate for us when we weren't feeling well.

This week we celebrate my oldest son's ninth birthday. He was a week overdue and the doctor decided to induce. After forty hours of labor, we were not much closer to having a baby than when we started. I was throwing up with every contraction and when they finally said to push, I had no strength to do so. Nathan's heart rate started plummeting so they did a quick emergency c-section. The recovery was brutal! I ended up with a raging fever in the hospital and spent seven nights total in the hospital. When I finally got out, I quickly ran out of my prescription pain meds. And the pain was excruciating (living in a two story house did not help, surgery is not a fan of stairs).

My Mom was there with me as Michael had to fly off to Japan for his job. She came upstairs to check on me and found I was crying because the over-the-counter pain meds were not touching the pain. So my Mom got on the phone with the doctor's office to get a refill. She then went down to the pharmacy to pick up the refill. Of course there was some sort of mix up and the pharmacy kept her waiting in a game of prescription, prescription, who's got the prescription. They suggested she come back later or the next day. Mom let them have it in the way only a Mama Bear can when her cub is ailing, and said she wasn't going to budge until she left with the meds for her daughter who was at home crying in pain. She then pulled out a book and leaned against the counter and read. It wasn't too long before she was on her way home with my medicine and I finally had relief. I still to this day want my Mom when I'm not feeling well - I don't think I'll ever out grow that. When I sprained my wrist earlier this year and couldn't sleep because it hurt so bad, I made Mike call her up so I could cry, I wish you were here, into the phone.
Benjamin is home sick (again! Arrggh!) today. I (so far) have stayed quite healthy and I have the raw, chapped, frequently washed hands to prove that I'm doing my part to stay that way. It's tough to have the kids home sick, because as I mentioned before, I don't let them watch TV or play on the computer when they are home from school. And if they are just sick enough to stay home from school but not quite sick enough to want to lay in bed sleeping, then it's a pretty boring day. It's not a time for fun, it's a time for quiet healing. Today Ben saw a little project I've been working on (sorry, can't reveal it here 'til it's closer to Christmas) and asked if he could have a needle and thread and some felt. I obliged and he spent the morning quietly making little felt friends, which he then spent the afternoon playing with. Which, as far as I'm concerned, is a much better way to spend any day than to watch TV or play on the computer. Don't you think?

Day 16 NaNoWriMo Stats:

27,472 words down
22,528 words to go
14 days remaining

Monday, November 16, 2009

Fifteen (aka Halfway!)

Today was the halfway point of National Novel Writing Month. And I officially hit the halfway point in my book! The whole family took a moment to get up and do a little dance break. Join us? Here's a little James Brown doing Get Up Offa That Thing should you need a little inspiration!

Day 15 NaNoWriMo Stats:

25,301 words down
24,699 words to go
15 days remaining

Sunday, November 15, 2009


Ben's face says it all:

The boys' first rock concert experience was a hit with the whole family. Nathan enjoyed it, but Ben got so into it, happily jumping with his Mama during the songs where you just had to jump. Like 813 Mile Car Trip, which you can find at the one minute mark in the video below (the video is from one of the Friday Night Family Podcasts, not the concert). Rock out!

And despite all the fun we've been having lately, I've still managed to stay on track with writing my book! We're almost to the halfway point of November, and I'm almost to the halfway point of my novel! Hooray!

Day 14 NaNoWriMo Stats:

23,606 words down
26,394 words to go
16 days remaining

Saturday, November 14, 2009


Waiting at the doctor's office always goes a little faster when we bring along an iPod with a few podcasts from They Might Be Giants Friday Night Family Podcasts. It's goofy and fun and involves a little bit of learning. But it's so entertaining that you don't realize it! This is a band I've loved since 1990 which jumped into the world of "family music" in 2002. They call it family music because it isn't music that makes parents want to break out the ear plugs! And guess what? We're taking the boys to their very first rock concert on Saturday to the They Might Be Giants family show at UCLA's Royce Hall! I don't know who's more excited... the kids, or the
Day 13 NaNoWriMo Stats:
22,129 words down
27,871 words to go
17 days to go

Friday, November 13, 2009


Lately I've been getting a lot of calls where the caller says, "May I speak to the parent of Nathan Chase?" Every time I get a call like that, my heart stops and my stomach drops. I guess I'm just expecting the worst. Sometimes it's just the doctor's office calling with a reminder of an appointment. But lately we've been getting a lot of calls from the school. This week I got a call from the school nurse saying Nathan had slammed into pole and hit his forehead. he was doing fine and they were icing it, but they are obligated to call a parent if there is any type of injury. I was pretty shocked at the size of the goose egg he had on his forehead! Thanks to lots of icing, there was little to no bruising. I asked him what happened, and he said he was being chased by girls and "running for his life." Poor boy. One day he'll be so grateful to have girls chasing him!

Day 12 NaNoWriMo Stats:

20,204 words down
29,796 words to go
18 days remaining

Thursday, November 12, 2009


Don't forget to thank a Vet this Veteran's Day! We're blessed to have so many in our own family. My Dad was in the Army and served at the end of the Korean War. My little brother was a Marine and has served in areas of conflict he won't let me write about. And the young man we took into our family, Chris, is currently serving in the Navy.

People sleep peaceably in their beds at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf. -- George Orwell

Day 11 NaNoWriMo Stats:
19,383 words down
30,617 words to go
19 days remaining

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Seven, Eight, Nine + 101.9

Nathan's fever hung around, never getting higher than 101.9. Being the good boy we've taught him to be, he was happy to share and Ben got a fever as well. Nice, huh? Michael took them to urgent care on Sunday just as a precaution, while I stayed home and pretty much sterilized the whole house. No symptoms other than the fever and stuffy noses, and since they both had their seasonal flu shot as well as the H1N1 vaccination, it's not likely to be either of those. But having a fever means they got to stay home from school again today. They are bored and cranky, times two, and I'm feeling a bit of cabin fever as I haven't really left the house since last Wednesday. If you know me at all, you know I am NOT a homebody and this pseudo-quarantine is really a tough thing to pull off. Today I tossed them into the car and we hit the drive thru at In N Out for burgers and shakes. Because I'm totally over PB&J, you know?
And what better way to get over cabin fever (or to make it worse) than to look at old photos of places we've been? I randomly searched November of 2005 and came up with this photo of Ben and Nathan sitting at the base of General Sherman, the largest tree (by volume) in the world. You can tell that they are impressed, huh? This actually ties in quite nicely with what the boys did to occupy themselves today: they used up a ream of paper and a few rolls of tape to make full-body casts. Thank you to the poor tree who gave up it's life to make the paper that occupied my boys for nearly two hours so I could (ta-da!) get caught up on my writing! I built up a cushion on Saturday and did nothing on Sunday, so today I had over 3,000 words to write, which I did.

Day Nine NaNoWriMo Stats:

15,381 words down
34,619 words to go
21 days remaining

Saturday, November 7, 2009


The ledge above the kitchen sink is a miniature greenhouse, lined with things the boys have planted. Sprouted pumpkin seeds inside a Ziploc bag grow behind the orange cutout. A cup of grass seeds in a paper cup now in need of a trim. And then my favorite, an avocado pit which did nothing at all for five weeks other than make the water murky, and then one weekend we looked and there were roots and a stem with leaves. We call it Audrey Three, because it looks like the plant Audrey Two, which is named after the girl Audrey One in Little Shop of Horrors, an outrageously good musical, which was made into a film with Steve Martin, Rick Moranis, and Ellen Greene.
Outside the window is our non-blossoming Magnolia tree. I wish it would bloom, but it hasn't in the 3 1/2 years we've lived here. To the left of the Magnolia (and not in the photo) is our Lemon-Lime tree. It's really a Lemon tree, but the boys named it when we moved in as all the lemons were still green, resembling limes. Unlike the Magnolia, the Lemon-Lime tree is perpetually in bloom, producing fruit and flowers year round. It's a confused little tree, and I wish it would share some pointers with the Magnolia! However, it's nice to have fresh lemons on hand at all times!
Day Six NaNoWriMo Stats:

11,026 words down
38,974 words to go
24 days remaining

Friday, November 6, 2009


Nathan, our child who never gets sick, had a fever this morning. I know I tend to speak dramatically most of the time, but he's about to turn nine years old, and he's been sick maybe nine times in his whole life.
Yesterday I learned that a substantial number of kids at our school are out sick, and that one of the classes had a whopping 4 students in it. Last year, Nathan had no absences. He's just that healthy. Benjamin, on the other hand, had a dozen! He catches every little bug and because little bugs for Ben can mean serious danger, I always err on the side of caution and keep him home.
Today I kept Nat home and I let him choose one movie to watch during the day. This is noteworthy as when I was growing up, staying home sick meant we stayed in our rooms, in bed. There was no playing or goofing off (this was wise of my parents, as we never wanted to fake it and stay home, it was no fun!). I do the exact same thing with my kids. It's not just a fun day of watching the telly and playing on the computer, it's resting so our bodies can do the hard work of healing. Nathan didn't want to be left alone in his room to read, but when he came out to where I was trying to work, I found he was just sitting on the couch, staring at me. So, I let him choose a movie to watch. He chose A Christmas Story, and of course I had to watch part of it too. Only part of it though, as I still needed to make my minimum of 1,667 words so I don't slip behind!

Day Five NaNoWriMo Stats:
8,720 words down
41, 280 words to go
25 days remaining

Thursday, November 5, 2009


I managed to write a few sentences here and a couple of paragraphs there throughout the day and I caught up. To make it to 50,000 word in 30 days, you have to write 1,666 words per day. I keep hoping to push ahead so that when days like yesterday happen, I have a little cushion. We'll see if it happens!
Michael took the boys to their Cub Scout den meeting tonight which gave me an hour all to myself to write. Do you know what else takes an hour? Pumpkin bread! The boys walked through the door to the amazing smell of fresh bread and the brilliant smile of Mama who managed to get just ever so slightly ahead! Hooray for everyone! Well, except for my waistline!

Day Four NaNoWriMo Stats:

7,209 words down
42,791 words to go
26 days remaining

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