Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Happy Halloween!

The pumpkins are carved. The orange bowl is filled with candy. Our front porch is strung with spider webs. And we did it all last night! Yes, I'm behind. Again.

Youngest kidlet has a fever. Two oldest kidlets had an eleven hour Irish dance feis on Sunday. And I'm trying to write.

I also realized this morning that I sent all the updates (including a new contest) to my website to the wrong address on Saturday. I never received a kickback message, but I never received a reply either. It's been that kind of week.

Speaking of the feis, the two older kidlets competed together for the first time in an anything goes costume reel. They dressed up as Padme and Darth Vader and danced the reel while fighting with lightsabers. They placed 4th out of 75! We were so proud of them.

Today's the final day of AOL'S Gold Rush, the last time to qualify to win a million dollars, too. That's what I'll be doing at noon! And remember that great website I told you about a couple of days ago Steeple Media? I'm helping out on a round robin novel writing forum there. I wrote the opening of the story. It's at Steeple Media's Round Robin Story Forum and you can win prizes (including autographed books from me!) if you add a line to the story.

Hope you have a safe and Happy Halloween!

Tonight we'll be taking out our grecian princess, Xmen Wolverine and either Sleeping Beauty or Puppy (depending on how she feels and what mood she's in) trick or treating. The first time in our new neightborhood. Will you or your kids be dressing up tonight? What as?

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Fall Back!

Did you remember to set your clocks back an hour? Hubby did it before he fell asleep so now I don't feel quite so bad staying up later tonight. I'll get an extra hour of sleep in the morning! Now I can finish getting ready for the Irish dance feis in the morning. Still need to finish trimming of hair from the kidlet's wig, must find a pair of matching poodle socks and figure out what the littlest one will wear. But tonight, of all nights, I have time!

I love when we fall back an hour. It's like God answered my prayer and gave me an extra hour each day. I hate when we spring forward. It takes me days to make up that lost hour. Which is your favorite? Falling back? Or springing forward?

Friday, October 27, 2006

Going for Gold

Playing AOL's goldrush game has been a total blast. The contest ends on Halloween, and I'm going to miss it. I'm hoping they do a goldrush2. It's been that much fun.

I haven't won or qualified for any of the final rounds, but I've been improving my times and I was only 16 seconds away from a player who qualified for the $100K finals. My personal best!

The challenges have tested my trivia skills, honed my google skills and introduced me to a wonderfully supported internet community at SteepleMedia.com where I can meet gold rush buddies, see how I rank against others, work together on the challenges and cheer each other on. It's also been good research for my work in project, Last Man On Earth. I've gotten lots of ideas for the book from my goldrush experience and can't wait to use them.

I'm a big game player, whether it's cards or board games. This is my first on-line gaming experience though. Do you like to play games? What are your favorite ones?

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Back to the Farm

So I took the family back to Stanford for my class reunion. The oldest kidlet is only 8, but I thought it was as good a time as any to introduce her to my alma mater. Plus I'd missed the last reunion five years ago due to a deadline with IN DEEP WATERS so I really wanted to catch up with a few people. Plus we could stay with my best friend, Debbie, who had been up to see me in July and offered us the use of their brand new Honda Odyssey while we were in town. How could hubby say no?

On Friday morning we attended Mass at the Poor St. Clare's Monastery in Los Altos Hills. It's a cloistered order so when we got there, we thought we were alone. We weren't. On the other side of our altar (separated by a half wall and iron scrolls) sat the nuns, but they were so quiet we had no idea anyone was there. I figured that's where they sat, but hubby was sure we were in the wrong place. Luckily the kidlets were behaving themselves. All of a sudden we saw two nuns on their side of the altar taking off lace panels from the tabernacle and pushing it down. We realized they had been having adoration of the Blessed sacrament. Oops. We did get to speak with one nun when we dropped off some things for the order in their lobby. She stood behind a screen to speak with us. The kidlets were very intrigue by the whole concept.

We then met my friend Michelle at Hobee's for breakfast. She shared her photo album with me while I munched on Blueberry Coffee Cake and drank orange spice tea. She'd attended Bull Run this year so got even better pictures of my muse than last year in Reno. It was great to catch up with both another writer and Hayden fan!

After breakfast, we did a quick change of clothes and headed to Stanford. Boy, has the campus changed. I was there a year ago, but even noticed changes since then. We registered for the reunion and bought Stanford clothing for all of us. The kids each picked out two things. I couldn't believe how particular they were.

The campus looked great, as usual. We took the kids on a tour of the campus. I showed them the mechanical engineering office, the quad (where I played with the band on full moons while seniors kissed freshman making them Stanford men/women) and Mem Chu (memorial church) where I'd always wanted to get married someday. I pointed out all the fountains where we'd go fountain hopping and took them to lunch at Tressidor Union.

Things I noticed. All the students, even the graduate students, looked so young which means I'm really getting old. Mac computers were everywhere even in the student union for anyone to use. The food was greatly improved since I was a student. Peet's Coffee replaced The Corner Pocket, but Peet's still sells Fro Yo (frozen yogurt.)

Friday night was the big party. On the way there we bumped into a friend from my freshman dorm. She said no one could believe that such a geeky freshman engineer could now be a popular Harlequin romance writer. She said how great my writing was and I should have been happy about that, but honestly, I couldn't get past the "geeky freshman engineer" part. That's not how I'd seen myself at eighteen. Cute and clever, yes. But geeky? My memory couldn't be that bad, could it? But after a few more people said the same thing (and on Saturday at the tailgater, too) I had to accept that it must have been true. Sigh.

I bumped into many people I knew at the party, but the best part was connecting with a few people who I'd been very close friends with at Stanford. One was in Band and a ME (mechanical engineering) major like me. He is now married with two kids living in Amsterdam. He said when I fly to London to meet my editor someday he'd be there. That alone makes me want to schedule the trip now!Another studied engineering, but became a sportswriter instead. He covers the NY Yankees (hubby's fave team!). If everything works out as planned, he'll spend a weekend with us in December. I can't wait. And a third was also a ME major who has done all kinds of really cool things with the Navy, 9/11 and currently works in intelligence. People kept saying he reminded them of a young Tom Clancy! All he needs to do is write a book.

I was happy to reconnect with another ME and his wife. I'd spent time with them when I worked they lived in Portland and lost touch when they moved from Texas to Virginia. And I always love to spend time with another couple who live in So. Cal. Both were physics majors who I knew separately. The guy lived next door freshman year and was the one who slept out in front of the movie theater with me so we could be the first to see Star Wars Return of the Jedi when it premiered. (I don't mind saying I'm a Star Wars geek. I am one, but it's engineering geek that bothers me.) His wife worked with me at the Terman Engineering library. He's supposed to send me an x-ray of this piece of metal they fixed his hip with. He's yet to send it and I actually do want to see it so that probably means I still am somewhat of an engineering geek. Yikes!

I heard the same comments/questions I usually hear when people find out you're a writer: I have a great idea for a book. I plan to write a bestseller as soon as I have time. Where do you get you ideas? How much do you make on each book? (I always wonder if people realize that question is like me asking them how much they make a year.)

Reunions are fun, but a little weird. There are lots of people attending. Many you recognize or sorta knew, and just as many you didn't. I confused a couple of people. Misplaced where I knew a few others (met them outside of Stanford so couldn't make the connection.) And met a couple of people I didn't know.

Some people looked great, others didn't. Some looked young, others not so young. As one friend said, "We can't all be the same age." He makes a good point, and I've never seen a better justification for the use of sunscreen.

The oldest kidlet already said she wants to go back for the next reunion. The younger two agreed with her. We'll see where we are in five years, and how much of a geek I still feel like!

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

My Turn

I managed to keep the other kidlets from getting pinkeye, but unfortunately didn't keep myself from getting it. Oh, well... the joys of mommyhood. It's getting better though so I'll be back tomorrow.

In the meantime, I wanted to tell you about a new book that's available on-line at Barnes and Noble and can be pre-ordered at Amazon. It's called GEEK TO CHIC and is the debut romance novel by my good friend Shirley Marks. If you ever read the dedication pages in my book, she's the Shirley who's been listed many times! The book is published by Avalon Books in hardcover.

GEEK TO CHIC is a fun read about a geeky engineer (which reminds me what I must tell you about my reunion) who needs to be transformed into well, a hottie.

My eyes are hurting so I must sign off now! Talk to you tomorrow.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Attack of the Germs

One kidlet and I are down for the count. She's got pinkeye and a horrible cold. I've got the cold and still no voice. Be back when I can.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Laundry and Laryngitis

I'm home. Lots of wash to do and I can't talk. I lost my voice at the reunion party on Friday nights. Lots of chatting over too loud music. Anyway, I need to write before I blog (don't want to be grounded again!)

Hope you had a great weekend! I had a blast catching up with friends and former classmates at the Farm.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Back to the Farm

In a couple of hours, the entire family will be flying with me to the Farm (aka Stanford.) It's reunion weekend so I figured it was a good time to return to the Bay Area. Of course that also means as many visits to Hobees as I can squeeze in since I love their coffeecake. My friend, Michelle, who was with me in Reno when I met Hayden, and I are meeting there tomorrow!

I bought a really cute outfit at Nordstroms last night to wear at our class party. I also got a new haircut last week. My stylist chopped off about four or five inches so the length is back to chin level. I was getting lazy and ponytails were starting to be the norm (along with baseball caps) so it was time for a change. Hubby likes the new 'do so that's all that matters.

I'll try to check in and report on the happenings, but if not I'll be back on Monday. Take care!

Okay, I need to finish packing.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Been Feis-ing

A feis (pronounced fesh) is an Irish dance competition. Imagine a hotel ballroom with five stages (dance floors, actually) set up along one side, nervous dancers wearing expensive dresses and sausage curl wigs, crying babies, bored siblings and parents. Okay, it's not that bad. But when you have two dancers who compete at different times and you're there all day long, you start to wonder what in the world you're doing.

But then you see the kidlets smile. You see the confidence they gain from dancing in front of all those people. You see them learning to be good sports when they don't place. You see the pride when they place in a dance and realize they'll be moving up to a new level. (There are six levels of competitions: Beginner, Adv. Beginner, Novice, Prizewinner, Prelim. Champion, Open Champion.)

The kidlets love Irish dancing. Hubby grew up in Long Island where girls did this. My maiden name is Martinez and I grew up not even knowing it existed until seeing Riverdance in London in 1996.

I'm learning though. I've come to the realization we are now an Irish Dance family. We're at the dance studio two nights a week (three until the Oireachtas aka Western Regionals.) The kids are singing Gaelic songs. The baby can't wait until she's old enough to start (next fall actually) and sat through a class a couple of weeks ago without moving or making any noise.

Slan go foill!

Friday, October 06, 2006

Firemen and Friday

Last night, the phone rang. Caller ID said it was hubby. He was at Irish dance class with all three kidlets. I answered the phone and all I could hear was the wail of a siren. Hubby said, "We're on the way to the hospital."

A million and one thoughts ran through my mind as I listened to the siren. None of them good. "Is it bad?" I ask, realizing then I had no idea who might have gotten hurt, sick, whatever.

"Gotcha." Hubby started laughing. "I went outside and there was this ambulance--"

"So not funny."

But the call reminded me about two firemen I'd seen at Starbucks last Thursday afternoon. You know I've been looking for "hotties" for my work in progress. Well, these two were perfect for the hottie team competing against my hero and heroine. So perfect I was tempted to ask them to pose with my two daughters so I could get their picture. But before I could ask or they could order their drinks, they left. As they walked past, I tried to memorize everything about what they looked like: height, build, hair, eyes, features. As they drove off, I saw they were actually paramedics. Not sure what I'll have the characters be. I actually thought attorneys, but firemen could work well. Ryan Sutter from The Bachelor was a fireman, too! And this would be a nice contrast with my finance hero.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Bye Bye Birdie

I've been busy revising my LAST MAN ON EARTH proposal. I'm finally making real progress. YAY! Not much else to report so I'll leave you with something that happened yesterday.

On the drive home from preschool, the youngest kidlet and I came across two birds in the middle of the road. One was sitting as if the road were its nest and the other standing next to it. I slowed down and went around them. As I did, the standing bird looked right at me. I drove past them then stopped. No other cars were on the road (which was surprising since it's an old highway with lots of traffic) so I backed up and told Rose that I was going to get the bird off the road.

When I reached the birds, the standing one flew away. I picked up the other one and noticed it's right wing looked funny. Although alert, it didn't move. I placed the bird on a patch of grass between the road and train tracks and headed back to the car. Rose told me that the birdie's friend was on the train tracks watching. Sure enough, I saw the other bird.

I glanced back. The hurt bird remained still, unmoving. I checked it again. By this time, the cars had returned to the road speeding by us at 40-50 mph. No way could I leave an injured bird alone so I grabbed a priority mail box I had in the back of the car. Rose was very excited at the thought of taking the bird home. I explained we would be taking the bird to an animal hospital not home where birds and cats would not get along very well.

When I picked up the bird to put it inside the box, the bird stood and then a few moments later, it hopped on its feet. I realized the bird was most likely stunned, not injured. I watched and waited. I moved the box and the bird flapped it's wings. It didn't fly far, but enough so I felt comfortable going.

Rose was sad we had to say bye to the birdie, but the romance writer in me was relieved. I would have hated taking it away from its "friend." I remembered a book written by Barbara Freethy with birds that mated for life. I'm not sure what type of birds these were, but I was so touched by the standing bird who wasn't going to leave the injured one even with a huge minivan heading toward them that I didn't want to separate them.

This morning we drove on the same road. Rose wanted to see if the birdie was still on the grass. It wasn't. I told her that both birdies had probably flown away to their nest. To take care of the baby birdies, she said. It wasn't a question, and I had a feeling she was right.