Friday, January 31, 2014

"How Bad It Had Been..."

When Mrs. Moore, the woman that C.S. Lewis had lived with for several decades, finally passed away, he wrote to a friend, "I'm only just now realizing how bad it has been..."  (

I can't, for the life of me, find the letter right now.  I'm 90% certain he wrote it to Arthur Greeves, but most of my bookmarks have fallen out.)

Only after Mrs. Moore was no longer a part of his life, did he realize he'd been subjected to years upon years of verbal and emotional abuse.  

I can't help but reflect on how liberated he must have felt, as I emerge from a cocoon of sadness and sickness myself.  Since last August, I've been struck with hyperemesis, a fancy way of saying, "She pukes all the time while she's pregnant."  To add insult to injury, I developed a gallbladder problem, which had me nauseous and vomiting AGAIN, as soon as the hyperemesis wore off. 

In addition to that, my youngest daughter (who just turned two) is an Insomniac Wonder Baby, and I've not had consistent sleep since she was born.  I've been exhausted, nauseous, vomiting, weak, short-tempered, frustrated, and barely coherent for all of recent memory.

Until last week. 

Not only did IWB sleep at least six hours at a time, but I must have either passed the gallstones or gotten my diet in a better place---because I wasn't nauseous, wasn't vomiting, and I was rested.

All day yesteray I PLAYED.  I played with the toddler, and I played guitar.  I felt like a new woman.  I smiled.  I cheered.  I cleaned my house. 

Then, the Insomniac Wonder Baby got a cold, and coughed all night last night.  She's still too young for most cough medicines, so....welcome to my first night in a week with no sleep.

I feel like a train hit me.

All I want to do is read old novels and mindlessly surf the internet.  I'm so exhausted and sore and brain-dead that I can hardly function. 

 For the last several years, I've wondered, "Why haven't I been getting more done?  Why haven't I accomplished more in my life?  Why haven't I been more successful?  Why haven't I finished such-and-such project?  Why am I so dead?" 

Well, I've been pregnant seven times in the last nine years.  I've lost three pregnancies (one was twins).  I've nursed.  I've bottle-fed.  I've worked third-shift.  I've gone so long without sleep, because I had an undiagnosed sleep disorder.  I've had food allergies, I've had moves, I've had infants, toddlers, school-aged children....and I've had hyperemesis.  I've been nauseous, vomiting, sleep-deprived, over-worked, uprooted....

...and I'm JUST NOW REALIZING how bad it has been.  

After this past week, I'm more and more confident that it will get better.  No more babies.  No more ridiculous expectations.  Small, gentle goals.  Rest. 

The Insomniac Wonder Baby is napping right now, so I think I'll join her....zzzzzzzzz............

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

INTJ Parenting

She got bored with Dr. Seuss pretty quickly.  My Mathman husband thought, "Well, this will at least put her to sleep," but nooooooo...........she was thrilled. 

This was when our little Firecracker was six.  Now she's eight, and has already read all of the Narnia, Percy Jackson, Little House, and Dork Diaries books. 

We didn't special-order her this way, or do anything to "foster a love of reading," except be fans of good books ourselves.   Now, we can hardly keep up with her voracious appetite for more stories. And [wipes away a tear] she's started writing her own.

Any book suggestions for a third grader who reads at a high school level???

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Sherlock's Parents........Sooooo Normal!!!

The thing is, I married Sherlock.

(Well, I married a milder, more caring, less sociopathic version of Sherlock.)

Different Meyers-Briggs enthusiasts have pegged Sherlock as slightly different personality types.  I say he's a textbook INTJ, like my husband.

It's an eerie thrill when I hear words in a British accent that my husband has said, in exactly the same context, in exactly the same tone of voice, for exactly the same reason.

It's a hilarious release to watch John Watson's reaction, knowing that I'm *not alone* in my dumbfounded response to cold-hearted analysis.

The best part about last night's episode?  Meeting Sherlock's parents.  :)

Sherlock's reaction to his parents was simply classic iNtuitive/Sensor interaction: the
parents talk about concrete, every-day things, with an adult child who was only interested in the world of ideas.  The parents were caring, normal, every-day people who had absolutely no clue how to interact with their abstract, mind-palace loving son.

The SJ  (Sensor/Judging) personality type makes up about 45% of the population.  The SP (Sensor/Perceiving) type is 35%.  My beloved  NT's (iNtuitive Thinkers) are only 5-10%.  That means that NTs--our question-asking, saliva-analyzing, wall-shooting abstract thinkers---are very, very likely to find themselves in households completely dominated by Sensors.

(I married one NT, and then gave birth to another.  It's never dull around here.)

Problems arise between Sensors and Intuitives, usually because one spends time judging the other.

The SJ rolls his eyes: "Dear God, get your head out of the clouds and be PRACTICAL!"
The NT snarks, "Stop boring me and think."

The difference is that I've watched my husband work very hard to learn how to communicate with the Sensors in his life, while Sherlock just shoves them out the door.  (Cause, um, I didn't marry a sociopath!!!  And I have to say, "Go Molly!")  He shows so much love and respect towards his parents, and other SJ relatives and friends.  It was just hilarious to see the NT/SJ interaction in its unrefined state.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

An 8-Year-Old ENTJ Corrects Her INTJ Daddy. In Front of His Class!

The other day we had one of those scheduling snarls, where I had to take one child to a doctor, and my husband ended up taking the oldest two into his class with him.  Justin teaches math for education majors, and my kids are usually really, really good about doing their homework--or at least behaving--while their Daddy teaches the teachers. 

Well, those students got an ENTJ behavior.   (Yikes!!)

I came home and found this stack of papers.  Apparently, Lily had written out several notes, and placed them, one at a time, on her Daddy's chalkboard.  During class. Yeah.

We had a conversation about how this needs to NEVER, EVER happen again during class--after I laughed my head off and took pictures of everything. :)  Unfortunately, she wrote several notes in yellow highlighter that I couldn't make show up properly, but you get the idea. :)

 She's a firecracker.  She always will be.  I love that about her. :)

Ooooh, Villains Say BAD WORDS!!

In the few short months I've been working as an Author's Assistant, I've been amazed at how closely and lovingly these writers interact with their fans.

I'm also amazed at the feedback they receive!!   I don't get my clients' emails, but I do usually get their Facebook messages and social media posts.  Here's a comment that comes up over and over again, in a hundred different variations: 

"I LOVE your books, and I think you're the greatest writer EVER, but would you please stop swearing in your novels?  It's just too much for me." picked up a book about a small-town female police officer stopping a serial killer that happens to be her ex-husband, and you expected them to say "Darn" and "Oh sugar!" when they get shot?  

Sorry, not buying that excuse. :)

I love, love, love this job, and I love my authors, and I hope that they never change their dedication to bringing authentic stories to life for their fans. 

Monday, January 13, 2014

"Brownie Cupcakes" and why we call them that. :-)

 Since Lucy Guardino is "Just your average Pittsburgh soccer mom, baking brownies
and carrying a loaded forty-caliber Glock..." I had a crazy idea.  In the shower.
Which is where I get all of my crazy ideas. :-) "What if I offered some of my brownie 
cupcakes as a prize, if the novella reached 200 on the Kindle rankings?  I mean, I can't
offer a loaded glock, but this is the next best thing, right" ;-)

Well, I had no idea that the response would be so overwhelming!  Lucy Guardino fans
responded instantly, and AFTER SHOCK's rankings went up over three hundred
points in just two days!!  Fans from all over--including at least one all the way from 
Australia--had a sudden, incalculable chocolate craving. <3

Sadly, I can't send cupcakes to all of you, but you all certainly made my day--and CJ's!!
 At the very least, I'll share the (original)  recipe with you, and the story behind
creating it. (I also hope to add pictures soon, but I got preggo-sick tonight, so it
couldn't happen yet.)
See, I'm allergic to wheat and milk. Seriously.  Unlike Scarlet in BROKEN, my allergy
actually causes me to swell up, have trouble breathing, and cough my lungs out until
I'm doped up on Benadryl.  

This meant I had two options: 1) I could spend the rest of my life eating over-priced
gluten-free foods that tasted like processed cardboard, or 2) I could become the best
dang scratch-cook in allergy-friendly history.  

I chose the second option. :-)  It took about two and a half years, but I managed 
to develop a knack for making food that was nutritious, yummy, and wouldn't keep 
me in a perpetual Benadryl coma.  A girl's gotta have priorities.
A friend of mine posted a cupcake recipe on a blog that we tried to create together, but 
every time I tried to make it, the cakes kept falling apart.   Plus, they were dry, and I left a
trail of crumbs that would put Hansel and Gretel to shame with every bite.  It took about
three months, (I had to eat all my mistakes. Darn!) but I finally made enough tweaks and
changes that the cupcakes that came out were moist, held together fairly well....
...and when my kids ate them, instead of spitting them out and going "YUCK!!, Are 
these gluten-free?" they licked the paper liners clean and said, "Oh mom, they taste
like yummy brownies!!"  
And that's how these brownie cupcakes were born. :-) 

         3/4 cup Teff Flour
         1/4 cup Sorghum Flour
         1/2 cup Tapioca Flour
         1 cup good quality baking cocoa
         1/2 tsp baking soda
         2 1/2 tsp baking powder
         1/2 tsp salt
         1 1/2 sticks margarine (Earth Balance is is dairy free, and they have a soy free option as well) or butter, room temperature
         3/4 cup brown sugar
         1 cup granulated sugar
         4 large eggs
         2 teaspoons vanilla
         1 1/2 cups milk (dairy, rice, soy) plus 1 1/2 tsp vinegar to mimic buttermilk
         1-2 cups of Enjoy Life Chocolate Chips (these are dairy-free, but if you don't have any allergy, you can try regular chips)  

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
This makes about 2 dozen cupcakes. Lightly grease the bottom of the
baking pans, then dust with a little cocoa powder, or line 2 muffin tins with cupcake

Whisk the three flours together. Add cocoa, baking powder, and baking soda to the 
flours and whisk together in a medium bowl.

In a separate bowl, with your mixer, beat the butter until creamy. Slowly add the
brown sugar and the granulated sugar. Whip this mixture until fluffy.

Add the eggs one at a time to the creamed mixture, then add the vanilla.
Turn the mixer to low and alternate adding the flour mixture and the buttermilk.
Using an eighth-cup measuring cup, fill the cupcake liners to 2/3rds full.  Then, one
teaspoon at a time, add the Enjoy Life Chips to each cupcake.  Stir with a toothpick to 
incorporate into the batter.  (If you don't do this, the chips tend to settle to the
bottom, and you lose a good bit of moisture.)  
Bake immediately for 12-15 minutes, until the cupcake is springy to the touch and a 
toothpick comes out clean.  [Careful, because the toothpicks can come into contact w/ 
yummy gooey chocolate chips!]
For frosting, you can either 1) Buy frosting that's labeled gluten-and-dairy free, or
 2) Try  mixing one part shortening to one part cocoa, and three parts powdered
sugar, then adding soy/rice/almond milk, a teaspoon at a time, until it reaches the
consistency you want. 
 (I wish I had a more specific recipe for this, but since I make different quantities all 
the time, I just TASTE it until I like the results I get. :-)  With a disposable toothpick, 
of course.)  
Enjoy, and let me know what you think!  
Lots of Love,