Friday, December 28, 2012

Christmas at Tapper's House

You know me.
I love to wrap presents.
I love to shop for them.
I hate keeping them.
When I see piles of plush and battery-required toys piled around my home and think of the thousands of times I will traipse them upstairs and put them into the correct containers I give a Scrooge-worthy groan.
This year Santa finally heard my pleas for simplicity and thought of a brilliant, awesome solution.
So how do you convince your children they don't want lots and lots of shiny, noisy, new toys?
You distract them with this:

We don't have a name for it. So far I've heard it called the house, the clubhouse, the fort, the dungeon, the castle and the tower.
It has been Gryffindor's common room, an orphanage, a tree house, a log cabin and a mansion. They've decorated it, lowered buckets from the windows, hung lanterns and left secret messages. I don't think they even noticed that they actually own less toys after Christmas than before. I cleared out every toy and piece of furniture in the toy room to make space for it. No one really noticed.
This is just a universal win/win for everyone in the house.
And speaking of wins, the Artist scored major points by driving eight hours to pick up a Christmas present he knew would dear to my heart. He left at four in the morning last weekend, never giving me a hint why or where he was going. On Christmas morning I woke to find this:
A solid wood, antique card catalog for my kitchen. I can't even describe why it is so magical to me. The idea of how many fingers have fumbled through those drawers, on a search for knowledge or distraction or entertainment. It is the smell of old books and the worn brass of used handles. I almost cried when I saw it. I keep running my hands over it, loving every scratch chip. I walk through my kitchen just to stare.
And what did the Artist get since his girls cleaned up?
A few nice tools.
Oh yeah- and three girls who think that having him around is better than Christmas every day.
I hope your day was merry and bright!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Who needs boys?

I was shopping for Christmas gifts yesterday and thumbing through a rack of clothes for the Dancer when I saw a sparkly shirt with the words "Who needs boys?" in glitter across the front.
And I paused between the hurried shoppers and stared at that shirt.
You know I teach my girls to reject the world's definition of beauty  and any pressure they would ever feel to fulfill some boy's lust. 
But never, in all my life, have I thought boys were expendable or accessories to our lives.
When I think of the phrase "who needs boys?" I think of the man who grew up to be my daughters' father.
The one who strums our girls to sleep with the quiet notes of a guitar.

The one who takes them to bowling alleys when their mother complains that bowling alleys smell weird

The one who tells his little girls they don't look nerdy in glasses when they don't believe their mother

The one who can turn a  death trap into a fun adventure

The one who teaches us that bugs aren't scary...

And engines aren't either.

The one who sees the world differently than I do and lets me peek through his eyes and discover things I never imagined.

So... who needs boys?

The girl who wants to marry a man who is smart and funny and strong,

The child whose first hero is his or her dad,

The granddaughter who feels safe when grandpa hugs her close,

The girl who wants someone to admire the frogs she pulls up from muddy ponds,

The children who know that a good tickle fight is one of the finest pleasures in life.

As we empower little girls to be strong and brave and confident, let's not do it by belittling the boys who also need to feel powerful and valuable.
I know that there are dads who are MIA. I know that many families don't have the ideal father or husband. And I know that they can overcome that through their own strength and intelligence and perseverance. But because we do not always have them, does not mean there is no need for them.
To the question, "Who needs boys?"
I answer firmly, "Every single one of us."

Though it goes without saying, I didn't buy the shirt...

Saturday, December 15, 2012

On a day that defies words

It is hard to speak today, difficult to orient myself in this world that feels like a new place I do not recognize.
I have one very brief thought.
Yesterday one man defied every law-  social and eternal- and took the lives of innocent children and those who defended them.
And today I woke up and was tempted to feel like I live in a world of terror, suffering and violence
But then I realized that where I really live is a world where when one person chooses evil, millions stand up in outrage and despair. I live in a world where we cannot comprehend such acts. Where servicemen, policemen (like my brother), and humans in general will give their hearts, their time, their very lives to defend what is good and right.
This isn't just a moment of unspeakable wickedness, it is a moment to see how many loving hearts outnumber the hateful ones.
And that is why I still believe in us.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Elf on a Shelf

I never did drop the twenty dollars to get a cute little elf to sit on a shelf.
But apparently if you rack up a $100K hospital bill trying to have a second child,
they throw one in for free, complete with fuzzy boots and extra mischief.
Nice little perk.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Is there a book inside you? ABNA 2013

The contest that launched my book into the publishing world, Amazon's Breakthrough Novel Award, or ABNA for short, has just announced the rules and prizes for 2013!
Get your manuscripts out of your drawers, dust them off and polish them up because the prizes are bigger than ever!
This year there will be Five Winners who receive the $15,000 first prize and one Grand Prize winner who will take home $50,000!
Amazon will also be publishing the winners which means fabulous promotions and publicity!
There's some great incentives to write your little hearts out!
The five categories are:

General Fiction




Young Adult

I know it's a contest. I know 10,000 people enter. I know it's all about luck and who reads your entry. I know no one ever wins those things. I know it's a waste of your time.
That's what I told the Artist every time he told me to enter. And I meant it!
And if you need a reminder of why you should throw your hat in the ring and try anyway just remember  THIS.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Work in Progress

I've been hard at work on my current WIP (that is top-secret author code for work in progress. Don't tell anyone I'm peddling secrets). While I've been typing away I got the first advanced copy of my book in the mail. Like a little pinch- I guess it wasn't all a dream.

But my family members have each been up to their own, wonderful accomplishments.

Working on our skills. (I said that in my gangsta voice, just so you read it the right way)

The Cowgirl is climbing our walls.

and training for- okay I don't know what purpose this has, but she's working on it-
The Dancer is perfecting her culinary skills and now has the scars to prove it. She got her first stove-top burn this week

Big, fat tears on that one!

The Artist is staying in touch with his artistic roots, as well. On Wednesday I took the Dancer to piano lessons and came home to Harry, Curly and Urg, care of my husband.

I asked him how in the world he came up with the idea to turn marshmallows, cheerios and fruit roll ups into martians and he said that he asked the Dancer what she learned about in school. When she said aliens he got a flash of inspiration.
Then half-way through painting marshmallows with food coloring, she said, "Oh yeah, now I remember. It wasn't aliens! We talked about apples!"
Forehead, meet palm.
We are all little works in progress with a few face plants along the way.