Thursday, August 30, 2007

Two, three, two, three, two, three, two, one!

Abby's really big into numbers lately. She counted backwards from three yesterday, and when she saw a big number 2 on the TV she pointed to it and said, "Two!" And today she's just been chanting numbers over and over (see post title).

Turns out I was wrong about her knowing the word "pink." She was actually saying, "Pick," as in, "I picked out this piece of chalk for you," which is what I finally realized she was saying in her own little Abby way. It just sounded very much like pink and happened to be said while holding pink chalk. Oh well.

I've read four books in the last week and a half. Two of them in less than 48 hours each. Man, I love it when I rediscover reading. The books were, "The Glass Castle" (awesome), "Split Ends" (entertaining), "Sushi for One?" (great, and more to come on this when CFBA does the blog tour for it next week), and "Remembered" (also great and also more to come when the CFBA blog tour comes around). My next pick is "A Thousand Splendid Suns" for my book club, which met last night around a fire pit in the backyard of one of the members. We made s'mores! I don't remember the last time I made a s'more. It was goooood.

I finished half of chapter 8 the other day, but I discovered a plot flaw and had to go back and rework some stuff, so I'm still in the process of fixing that. Glad I found it now and not later, though!

Tonight my dad and Dan are going to see the Simpsons Movie and then to dinner, and my mom and I are going to the mall for dinner and to let Abby play in the indoor play area, provided it isn't overrun with kids. It's been so melting hot here that I've avoided it, knowing everyone in the county is thinking the same thing. WHEN is the weather going to turn fall-like?! Not that we have fall here. *sigh* Man, I miss crunchy leaves and sweater weather.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Writing and reading

I said last week I'd tell you how often I wrote. Sadly, it was not three times. But it was two! And I'm finding that I'm able to get about 5 pages done on the days I do write, which is half a chapter. I'm really happy about that. I'm seven chapters in now, a little over 30,000 words, and I'd say about 1/3 of the way through the story. That has me on track for somewhere between 90-100,000 words, which is perfect! The first time I've hit a normal word count! Woohoo!

I've finally started reading more. I actually moved my laptop from the kitchen to my office so I'm not as tempted to spend every spare second checking blogs and email and So now I actually read! Shocking! I just finished "The Glass Castle" for my book club (which I just realized I can't attend, I'm SO bummed!) and it was incredible; I highly recommend it. Then I finally read Kristin Billerbeck's latest, "Split Ends," which was classic Billerbeck and very enjoyable. Now I'm starting in on Camy Tang's first novel, "Sushi for One?" and am thoroughly enjoying it. It's so wonderful to rediscover reading.

Oh, another awesome book I finished recently (though it took me about two months to read it): "It's All Too Much." Can't remember the name of the author, but he's the guy frm HGTV's "Clean Sweep." He helps people declutter and organize. It was a fantastic book. It really helped me to figure out why I'm a pack rat and what I need to do to get over it. Dan and I are itching to do a whole-house purge and clean, and while I was looking forward to having the place clean, I wasn't looking forward to the process. But now I'm totally psyched. I'm thinking of doing a garage sale where nearly everything is a buck or less. Talk about priced to move! A friend of mine did that and, if I remember correctly, she sold everything. Anyway, if you're like us and have a garage so packed you can't park your car, or you have a storage unit, or every room is chock-full of stuff that doesn't necessarily belong in that room, I strongly recommend the book. It has a great cleaning and organizing plan and is very encouraging.

Whole buncha random stuff

Since I tend to compile all Abby's little accomplishments and such on this blog, rather than in a baby book or something, I wanted to do a quick documentation of random little things I've been meaning to record. So here goes:

1. Today she identified her first color, and fittingly, it was pink, which she said very clearly as she handed me a piece of pink chalk.

2. Four new words, totally out of the blue today. (Oh wait, five--already forgot about pink!): fork, kiwi, tummy, and pick.

3. We read the same five books every day before nap and bed, and every time she does funny things with some of the books:
--turns "The Very Hungry Caterpillar" upside down when we get to "On Thursday he ate four strawberries, but he was still hungry." After a few times of her doing this I realized one of the strawberries is upside down.
--on "Good Morning, Good Night," which is one of those lift-the-flap and touch-and-feel books, she pets all the animals with her feet, and on the last page, where there's a little girl in a bed where you cover her up with a little felt blanket, she always uncovers her. Fitting, since she hates being covered up and always violently kicks off the sheets when they cover even just her feet.
--she has made up some hand signs for "Personal Penguin": she pokes her finger up her arm, all the way to her neck, while I read nearly every page, and when we get to the line "here and there and everywhere and always with you" she points straight out, like she's pointing to someone.

4. The whole pre-potty training thing is still sort of going on, though she's not nearly as interested in it as she was those first couple days. She has, however, for the last couple days, told us when she needed a poopy diaper changed. Progress!

5. When you ask if you can kiss her, she throws her head back and bares her throat. I guess we've kissed her there so many times she's just making it easier for us.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Pray for us!

Tomorrow (or today, if you're reading this on Wednesday) the children's book Dan and I wrote a couple years ago is up for review at David C. Cook Publishing. Please pray that it passes this editorial board review with flying colors! Thank you!

Monday, August 20, 2007

She counted!

Abby's been big into counting and the alphabet lately, though she doesn't really know how to do either--we get lots of "One, one, one, eight, three!" and "Y, B, O, P!" while pointing at whatever text happens to be nearby. Well, this morning we were going through one of her books and there's a page with ten babies for counting. I went, "One," and she went "Two!" and then we both said "Three" at the same time! I squealed and hugged and generally gushed, then we did it again--and she said "Four!" at the same time I did! More gushing, more hugging. Then we did it again, and she said every number right along with me, no hesitation or anything (well, except "one," which she seems to expect me to do alone to launch us) and then, wouldn't you know it, she said "Five!" right along with me, too! No hesitation, no waiting to see what sound I started making. Unbelievable! I must have overwhelmed her with my enthusiasm, though, because she didn't want to count anymore after that. :)

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Lisa Loeb!

I think I've mentioned recently that we've all had a little crush on Lisa Loeb around here lately. One of her videos is played often on "Jack's Big Music Show" on Noggin, and we found some others online that are really cute, while I won't say I was a huge fan of hers when she hit the music scene in the 90's, I always did like "Stay" and "I Do." Well, tonight she did a free concert in Lake Forest, which is just up the road from us, so we went and it was so cool! It was one of these outdoor concert series installments, where everyone brings picnic dinners and blankets and the city brings in a few food vendors and have contests for the kids before the show starts. It's been Africa-hot here lately, so even though it was at 5:30, we were worried it would be way too hot to actually stay, but the park where they host the shows had this great hill in the shade, so we got great seats and didn't melt at all.

Abby was a little upset at how loud the pre-show music was--frankly, I was too, it was way too loud, and not just because I'm a party-pooper adult. She spent the first fifteen minutes in Dan's arms, eyes intent on the stage where all the pre-show antics were going on, but once Lisa got up she mellowed and was eventually just hangin' with us like she'd been looking forward to the concert all day, too.

The music was really great, I have to say. It was just her and her acoustic, and she seems very down-to-earth and friendly. She did a couple of her kids songs, and while I only knew those and the two radio hits I already mentioned, I have to say I really enjoyed the other music. I wish I had more time to just listen to albums anymore, because I'd love to get some of hers, but I honestly don't listen to anything anymore unless I'm in the car by myself, and you can just guess how often that happens. Makes me kind of sad, really; music has always been such a big part of who I am, and now it's just...not.

In other news...I have been working a little bit on my manuscript, and I found a great new research resource:! I needed a visual to work with for my character's new apartment, so I went to and did a search for cheap apartments in Chicago near a university campus, and lo and behold I found exactly what I needed, including pictures, which really helps. And Google Maps, being so freaking cool, allowed me to search for coffeeshops in the neighborhood of this apartment, thus providing me with a place of employment for this character, and eventually I'll look up things like grocery stores and Target and other random stuff like that. Depending on the tone of the story, I really like to be able to place my characters in real settings and not just make everything up. Not only does it come across as more realistic to me, it also keeps me consistent and stops me from taking too many creative liberties. That being said, the next book will not be like that, because the tone of it will be vastly different from what I've done so far, and the themes of the story are the most important elements; when that's the case, I feel like the real-life connections can detract from the story, because readers can potentially get caught up in the "Hey, I've been there before/know where that is!" type thing, and that's not where I want their focus.

I'm bound and determined to write at least three days this week. I'll be sure to check in and let you know how I do...

Now I lay me down to...something....

Mom and I were talking last night about praying with Abby and when to start. She thought this would be a good time, but neither of us were sure exactly how to do it. On the one hand, you don't want kids to get the idea that praying means saying the exact same thing every single day, but on the other hand, they're not really developmentally ready to come up with their own stuff until, like, 4 or 5, so until then you either do all the praying for them and just have them listen, or you do something simple they can learn and say themselves. So during last night's bout of insomnia (close to two hours, I think), I rewrote the "Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep" one, since I'm not going to have my child praying about the possibility of dying. Here's what I came up with:

Now I lay me down to sleep
I pray, O Lord, my soul you'll keep
Bless my friends and family
And lead us 'til your face we see*

Help me always to do right
Use me to show the world your light
Make me always speak what's true
And each day make me more like you, Amen.

*Not real crazy about this line, but I really like the one before it and there are shockingly few small words that rhyme with "family". I like the concept of praying for guidance, too, so...any suggestions for alternate endings to that line?

We were also talking about mealtime prayers. We weren't real good about this in my family growing up, and pretty much said the same thing (at lightning speed) every night after fighting over who had to pray, me or my brother. Not really the approach I want to instill. :) I remembered a prayer we used to sing in Girl Scouts before snack time (yes, we prayed in Girl Scouts! I wonder when they stopped doing that--I assume by now they have); the lyrics were: "The Lord is good to me, and so I thank the Lord for giving me the things I need, the sun and the rain and the apple seed. The Lord is good to me." Now, I understand the sentiment behind the song--thank you, God, for the ability to get food--but it's a little obtuse and there are many more heartfelt things one could say. So I rewrote the lyrics to:

The Lord is good to me
And so I thank the Lord
For giving me my family
My friends and love and food to eat
The Lord is good to me

It's not real meal-centric, but most mealtime prayers I've heard in my day include things outside the food, so why not, right? Now I just have to get in the habit of actually saying these with Abby, and heaven knows I am NOT good at starting habits, especially when I'm preggo and forgetful as a gerbil. I"m thinking of posting the nighttime prayer on the lamp in the bedroom so I see it (and remember the words!) before turning out the light, and of making a placemat for Abby's highchair that has the mealtime one on it. That would be cute, huh? Drawing it on posterboard and laminating at Staples or something would work, right? Put all those scrapbooking tools to use? That would be cool. Speaking of which, I've got to get going on my pregnancy scrapbook and get Abby's book done before the new baby comes. Think I'll go get started right now...

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Houston, we have pee-pee.

She did it. This morning, by golly, she actually did it. Peed on her little training potty and didn't even bat an eye. 'Course she had to celebrate by sticking her hand in it--understandable, I suppose--and there were some slightly distressed tears as we flushed it all down the big potty, but there ya go. We're officially potty training, I guess.

Thursday, August 16, 2007


WARNING: This post contains numerous uses of phrases like "pee-pee" and "poo-poo." Those uninterested in toddler potty issues may want to skip this post. :)

Abby has been quite interested in bodily functions lately. She follows us into the bathroom all the time, saying, "Mama pee-pee? Poo-poo?" She'll watch you with great interest, and has even cheered me on once or twice. But lately she's been noting her own, um, activities as well, and today we took a huge leap forward into the land of potty training.

It started when Dan was watching her while I finally did some writing. (Two pages, woohoo!) Twice she took him by the hand and dragged him into the bathroom, saying, "Pee-pee!" Now, it just so happens that we bought a trainer toilet seat a number of months ago, just to have handy. So he whips it out and sets it up and situates her on her little throne, and she just sort of kicks her feet and hangs out for a while. Nothing happens, but we're still all "Wow!" over the fact that she seemed at all interested in taking it this far.

A little while later Dan catches a whiff of something and asks Abby if she has poo-poos. "Noooo." "Okay, did you pee-pee?" She thinks a moment, says her equivalent of "yes" (you wouldn't think that to be a particularly difficult word to master, but she's really been slow on picking that one up), then trots over to grab a diaper for Dan and lays down on the floor. Sure enough, she's wet.

Half an hour later it's time for her bath. We get into the bathroom and she says "Pee-pee!" Now I'm thinking she's just reacting to seeing the little seat there, which has Winnie the Pooh (ironically) on it and is thus way more exciting than anything else in the room, but I set her up while I get the water going in the tub. After a while she says "All done," and when I pick her up there's a couple drops of something on the seat. I can't tell if she actually went or not, since she'd had mostly water in the last hour or so and with the bath water running I couldn't hear if anything else was going on in the potty or not. But just to be on the safe side I praise her like crazy, then get two squares of toilet paper and am about to wipe her when she daintily takes them from me and dab-dabs in the appropriate place before dropping the paper into the toilet.

What the heck?! I mean, she's not even twenty months old, for cry-yi-yi! I didn't think this would happen until she was at least 2, and I honestly didn't expect to have to deal with it until after the baby was born. But I gotta say, it's pretty dang cool to have a kid with so much initiative.

SO we went to Target this evening and picked up a trainer potty, which she thinks is cooler to use as storage for balls and stuffed animals, but she has opened it up and say on it the way she ought to (still fully clothed, of course--the one snag in all of this is that she still can't even pull her own pants down, much less get her diaper off). I'm not really anticipating actual success in this arena any time soon, but still, it's pretty exciting. Yes. Exciting. These are the things that turn your crank once you're a mom. And I love it.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

One last sweet post before I go to bed

Forty-five minutes after we turned out the light, I FINALLY got Abby down--it's a heck of a lot harder at night when she's had a THREE hour afternoon nap, but what am I gonna do, wake her up? Heck no!

So anyway, she was all bathed and dressed and ready for bedtime stories, so Dan asked for hugs and kisses before I took her into the bedroom. She ran at him from across the room, arms wide open, and said, "I hug, I tiss."


Oh! ONE more thing, I promise. Since, like, the dawn of time, I've been trying to teach Abby to either say or sign for "pacifier." The thing has been her constant companion since day one, and yet it's one of the few everyday items for which she has no form of communication, and heaven knows there have been plenty of times when she's had to spend five minutes "uh-uh!"ing and vague pointing into the distance trying to get me to figure out that's what she wants. So today we're watching Blue's Clues, of course, and it's the same episode we've seen about 30 times this month. One of the characters has a picture of herself as a baby, and Steve asks what's in her mouth. She says it's her "yi-yi"--her "paci." Well, all of a sudden, through a mouthful of strawberries, Abby parrots, "Yi-yi!" And when I ask, "Abby, do you have a yi-yi?" she grabs her paci and shoves it in her mouth.

So, thank you Steve and Side Table Drawer for finally giving Abby a word for her paci. I never would have thought to try yi-yi.

'Round and 'round and 'round she goes...

Abby has discovered spinning. She's done it before, but she's really addicted to dizzy now. Five solid minutes of turning and turning and drunkenly falling all over everyone and everything while laughing like a maniac.

And now she's reading a book. Slightly off-balance.

Yay Matt!

THANK YOU to everyone who voted for Matt last week. He won his day and is now one of the main finalists! I will let you know if there is another round of internet voting. Keep an eye out here so you don't miss it!

As long as she doesn't start saying, "How you doooin'?"

Remember that episode of Friends where Phoebe is trying to teach Joey how to speak French for a role he wants? The lesson went something like this:

Phoebe: Repeat after me: Je m'appelle Claude.

Joey: Blah doe be dooh.

Phoebe: Um, no, listen closely. Je m'appelle Claude.

Joey: Fwah blah nobee dee.

Well, whatever auditory processing issue Joey has, Abby apparently has too. She was "counting" yesterday, saying very clearly, "One. One. One!" So I said, "Abby, can you say, 'One, two?'" She replied, with much enthusiasm, "Peh-dee!" She didn't even say the "one" correctly! And whenever her diaper is just wet I'll say, "No poo-poos!" And even though she is very good at saying "No!" she will say "Ah poo-poos!" instead. What gives?

So today I am fall-down tired. I slept really well, comparatively, and Abby only woke up once, which was awesome. And I only had one bout of insomnia, which, granted, lasted me about an hour or so. But still! I'm just cross-eyed exhausted. And I feel so bad for Abby, because Dan was up late and is thus still in bed, and I've been comatose on the couch since about 9:45, and she's trying so hard to keep herself occupied, but bless her heart, she's just not used to having to entertain herself for so long. I can't wait until she's old enough for me to say, "Go on outside for a little while!" Not that I'd be able to say that today since it's about 462 degrees out already. This heat waves sucks! And everywhere you go that has fun indoor stuff for kids to do is just swarming because everyone in the county had the same idea, and invariably there are older kids banging around in the play areas, too, even though they're way too big, because their little sibs are in there, and poor Abby always gets run over and stepped on and knocked down, and I just don't have the energy to be Mama Bear today and be all vigilant. So we're watching Blues Clues. Again. I oughtta buy stock in Nick, Jr.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Thirty seconds to myself? Time to blog!

Okay, it's more than thirty seconds, and I have Dan to thank for it. It's bedtime for Abby, and while that usually means I'm upstairs reading "The Very Hungry Caterpillar" four times in a row, tonight it means I'm comfy on the couch because Dan offered to do the bedtime routine. Unfortunately, I hear some serious screaming. I may be pressed into service soon. But regardless, he gave it a shot and kept her happy for quite a while, and that's a huge load off my shoulders.

A couple Abby things I want to document for posterity:

About a month ago she got the hang of the word "hat." Suddenly any item which she could hold on her head became a hat. One day Dan was driving her around and he looked in the rearview mirror; she yanked off her bib, tossed it on her head, and said, "Hat!" Dan said, "Just because you can put it on your head doesn't mean it's a hat!" She pulled of the bib, gave it a look, put it back on her head and with a level stare at Dan, said emphatically, "Hat."

She's started crossing her arms. When I do it, she'll do it, and then give me that brilliant, "I am so cute" look. But today she also started doing it when she was angry, and it's SO hard not to laugh. You tell her no, and she'll throw whatever she's holding and then cross her arms. Hilarious.

I swear there was something else, but I can't remember it. Oh well.

On the non-Abby front, I've been contemplating presidential candidates this past week. I find myself getting more and more political the older I get. It's a frustrating endeavor, getting political, because there's always that feeling of "my vote doesn't matter" or "what can one person do" and "things will never change" that pervade the whole arena. But on the flip side, if everyone stopped thinking that and started flexing their voter muscles, can you imagine how different things would be? Honestly, I don't get people who don't vote, especially if they also complain about the state of things. If you don't like it, then do something about it! And if you vote for someone and they lose, well then you get griping rights when things go to pot the next four years or whatever. But it's such a privilege to be able to make your voice heard. People die for that right in some countries. Heck, people died HERE so WE could have that right.

Anyway, I digress. The point is, I've been trying to figure out who I'd like to back. I'm actually at the point where I could see myself joining a campaign, volunteering a little, wearing the t-shirt, you know? But for whom? It's a three-way tie right now. There's Romney, who won the Iowa straw poll and as far as I can tell looks good on the issues, but his website makes you watch videos to hear his stance on everything, and I hate videos, so I haven't figured out all his positions yet. There's Brownback, who I've heard fantastic things about, and he came in third in Iowa, so that's a pretty good showing, I'd say. I don't honestly know a lot about him yet, but what I do know I like. And then there's Ron Paul, who I love for making the health freedom one of his big issues. He recognizes the evils of CODEX and how the FDA is getting WAY out of hand, and no other candidate is even talking about it. But his stance on Iraq and national security is a little iffy, so I still need to check into that.

*sigh* Which way to go, which way to go...

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Vote for Matt!

Matt Shephardson was, once upon a time, a much beloved worship leader at Willow Creek Church, where I grew up. He was a great guy; had such a great heart and a boatload of musical talent. And, of course, was an all-round great guy. And of course, it's the great guys that get the short end of the stick--he was diagnosed with MS a few years back, and nearly died, if I remember correctly from the email updates I received so often. Not long ago I wondered whatever happened to him--and was almost afraid to ask, in case the news was worse than I could handle. Well, out of the blue I received an email from a friend today, saying Matt is one of 5 finalists in a contest the Chicago Cubs are holding to pick a one-time singer of "Take Me Out To The Ballgame" at the 7th inning stretch! Today, and today only, you can vote for Matt and help him achieve a life-long dream. Please stop over there today and put in a vote for a great guy!

Friday, August 03, 2007

Where, oh where have my brain cells gone...

Yesterday was one idiotic moment after another for me. Pregnancy brain has hit HARD, let me tell you. And I have to write a book with this mind? I am in so much trouble.

First Idiotic Moment: We were in Ventura, and when Abby and I woke up I gathered our clothes and her diaper stuff and went into the living room. I then realized I didn't have the wipes, and instead of looking, oh, two inches to the left of the pile of stuff I'd brought out, I went back in the bedroom and proceeded to toss the place (as quietly as possible since Dan was still sleeping) trying to find the stupid wipes. I finally give up, go back out, and see the wipes sitting right there, mere inches from where I'd been sitting.

Second Idiotic Moment: I'm at the kitchen table writing an email when Dan says, "Hey Ali, my dad is calling you." So I take out my phone and say, "No he's not," all the while thinking, How does he know he's calling me? Dan looks at me and says, "He's calling you from the den." Oh.

Third Idiotic Moment: I'm packing our stuff up in the bathroom and try to put my glasses in their case, but the case won't close and it looks like the glasses don't fit. I take them out and suddenly cannot tell if these really are my glasses. They look similar, but they seem a little too small...and the inside color doesn't seem quite right. I put them on and and everything goes all fuzzy, then I realize they must be Nancy's and she's probably accidentally taken mine and put them away somewhere. So I take them to her and say, "These were in the bathroom, but I can't find mine. Did you accidentally take them?" She looks at them and says they're definitely not hers. I put them on and say, "Well, the prescription isn't right at all because everything is all--oh...wait...I have my contact lenses in."

This lame and I'm only at 7 weeks?! How on earth will I function in the last trimester?!