World of Julie

World of Julie

Mom on the edge.

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Girl Hairdo Inspiration Ideas?

Does anyone know of a book or website that has girl hairdo ideas beyond basic braids and ponytails? There must be something more instructional than just looking at the girls in the Hanna Andersson catalog. (I’m talking more about Zuzu here. Ramona’s options are basically random ponytails thrown about her head region.)

New Email Subscription Option

World of Julie has a new way to subscribe: via email! I think. It’s something I’ve been meaning to add for a while, and it only took angst, frustration, and a degree in computer mechanics to install it. Not really. Just seems like when I decide to tackle this before 6:00 a.m.

So! See that little box in the upper-right-hand corner? The one that says “Enter your email address”? If you enter your email address in that box, and click on “subscribe” (and then follow the directions that pop up), you will be notified via email when World of Julie has a new post.

Betty Bunny Loves Chocolate Cake!

I cannot tell you how much I love this book. Well, actually, you can find out how much I love this book on today’s Brain Burps About Books podcast, which also features Julie Hedlund of the 12×12 in 2012 challenge. So many Julies!

You can find out more about the episode here, or listen directly by clicking here.

High Fashionable

Driving in the car.

Eli (age 5): Henry, you know what I don’t get about grown-ups? How come grown-ups are so hi[mumble].

Julie: What? How come grown-ups are so hyper?

Eli: No. How come grown-ups are so high fashionable?

Dave: What?

Julie: You mean like me and Dave? We’re so high fashionable?

Eli: No, I mean all grown-ups.

Julie: But also me and Dave.

Eli: No. You two are the least high fashionable grown-ups there are.

Julie: What? We’re high fashionable! Wait, what do you even mean? Ok, what could I do to be more high fashionable?

Eli: You could wear lipstick and polish your nails.

Julie: Um.

Eli: And wear a big poufy dress and high heels and no hats.

Julie: Uh-huh.

Henry (age 8): And necklaces and bracelets and earrings!

Julie: I’m wearing earrings!

Eli: Yeah, you should wear necklaces and bracelets too, though. And what’s that stuff you put on your eyes?

Julie: Eyeshadow?

Eli: Yeah. You should wear eyeshadow.

Julie: Ok, ok. What about Dave? How could he be more high fashionable?

Eli: He should wear black pants, a black shirt, a necktie, and dancing shoes. And a top hat.

Julie: So you’re supposed to look like Fred Astaire, Dave.

Dave: What you’re saying is, Julie and I should go out dancing by ourselves more often, and you all should stay home with a babysitter.

[Kids all cheer.]

Henry: [thoughtfully] And the way you could be more high fashionable at a museum would be to wear a dinosaur costume.

[Eli looks at Henry disdainfully, and with pity.]

Eli: When you go out dancing, Julie, you should make sure your dress is really poufy.

2012, Here we come!

I am someone who embraces resolutions (not like my mother). Why not start out the new year making some promises to yourself? The key is not to make too many, and not to make them unattainable.

While I do have an ever-expanding list of general goals (keep the house cleaner, do laundry every day, plan homeschool better, exercise a lot more), I have two specific goals for right now.

First, I am participating in Julie F. Hedlund’s 12×12 in 2012 challenge. The goal is to write a draft of a picture book every month in 2012. It’s an extension of PiBoIdMo, and I had so much fun doing that, so I’m really excited about 12×12 in 2012.

Second, I am starting off the first 21 days of 2012 by eating the way I’m supposed to. I was going to do the Whole Living cleanse, but then I looked at it more carefully and realized that it doesn’t really include proteins (or, barely, solids) for the first week, and that seems like a bad plan for a nursing mom. So, I’m picking and choosing parts from it, like:

  • no processed foods
  • no added sugar (meaning no chocolate, but yes fruit)
  • no alcohol
  • no caffeinated coffee (ha! I can flippantly jump into this one because I haven’t had caffeinated coffee since December 2002)
  • no dairy
  • drink a lot of water
  • do it all for 21 days

They also say “no wheat” and then say that if you haven’t given up wheat before, you should try, because you might feel more energized. That’s fine. But I have given up wheat before, and I felt awful.

Whole Living also says you should be hungry at certain points during the day. That your stomach should rumble at least four times a day. I’m trying to embrace this too. I’m generally home all day, which means that often, if I get the teensiest bit hungry (or if I’m bored, or avoiding doing something annoying), then I eat. That stops now.

The other component I’m bringing to it is that I know how to eat well, I just choose not to sometimes. So I’m going to be cooking a lot less kid-friendly white pasta, and making more stir fries and squash and stuff like shiitake fried rice and barley risotto. And everything Mark Bittman recommends today in his “semi-vegan” article in the New York Times magazine.

What about you? Do you have any goals for 2012?

New Christmas Book Fave: Great Joy

We don’t really vary too much from our Christmas favorites here. I still love Christmas in Noisy Village best because it has earnest lines like “This cooky smell is the kind I like!” and “I wish Christmas would come oftener, don’t you?”

I’m sure there’s a place for dinosaurs dressed as Santa*, and we do get those from the library, but I tend to be fairly traditional when it comes to holiday books (with the notable expression of Lemony Snicket writing about latkes or coal).

A new favorite this year is Great Joy by Kate DiCamillo, with incredible illustrations by Bagram Ibatouilline. It’s sweet and heartfelt and old-fashioned. A girl named Frances can’t stop thinking about the organ grinder and his monkey who stand on the street corner outside her apartment. Her mother — who is harried, presumably because the father is off fighting in a war, though this is only vaguely hinted at in the illustrations — doesn’t want to deal with Frances’s questions about the organ grinder, and where he goes at night, and whether they can invite him to dinner. Frances does end up reaching out to him, and it’s just lovely.

Plus now Zuzu insists that I braid her hair with ribbons like Frances, which is a good look for her.

*Ok, I don’t know of any books where dinosaurs dress as Santa, but a fun surprise this year was Santa Duck by David Milgrim, which is completely hilarious. Check it out, if you can.

I’ve turned over all disciplining to the dog

Ok, so, first of all, my mom has a blog. Check her out! Mostly she updates on her own life (as she should) but there are occasionally World of Julie updates as well (that is, updates about me and my brood).

The latest one was hilarious. While I went to the first grown-up movie in a movie theater since 2003 (!!), this is what was happening in my home. (The lovely Sutswana took me to see “Gainsbourg: A Heroic Life” which I loved loved loved, but I think I would have loved anything, really, because it was a grown-up movie with no kids. I will say that the amount of smoking in this movie was truly comical. I know they smoked a lot in mid-century France, but COME ON. I’m surprised the dog wasn’t smoking. Anyway.)

Speaking of dogs, just like in Peter Pan, we like to have the dog be responsible for the children here:

Two new reviews up at Katie Davis’s podcast

Yeah, so I totally missed the fact that I had a review on Brain Burps About Books last week. Where is my head? I review Amy Krouse Rosenthal’s Al Pha’s Bet on last week’s episode. The episode is all about making ebooks, and it’s a super-technical episode, but worth listening to if you have any interest in publishing an ebook yourself. And it’s worth it to get to my review at the end, after which Katie totally made me blush by calling me cute and funny and says she loves my enthusiasm. Hee! You can see info on the episode here, or listen directly by going here.

And then on this week’s episode, I review Nothing Like a Puffin by Sue Soltis. This was the first review I did after I got a new microphone. Katie had complained (or, well, nicely and casually prodded) that my old mic made me have too many popping p’s. And then, unintentionally, I recorded this review, which had roughly 70,000 p’s in it. I had to edit out this long, anxiety-ridden pause when I suddenly heard myself saying the thousandth plosive and wondered how ridiculous it sounded. You can find out more about the episode here, or listen directly by going here.

PiBoIdMo Winner!

Ok, so for the past month I have been sort of secretly (well, secretly to World of Julie readers) participating in PiBoIdMo. PiBoWHAT? PiBoIdMo is Picture Book Idea Month, a challenge dreamed up by the fabulous Tara Lazar. You come up with roughly one picture book idea a day, so at the end of the month you have 30 ideas. You “win” if you come up with 30 (or more).

Now, I didn’t post about it earlier because I wasn’t sure I could do it. Or, I thought maybe I’d have a list that said, “Dog. Cheese. Canary. Penguin.” which might be 30 ideas, technically, but might be 30 boring, not-very-fleshed-out, duds.

Well, you know how they say that the secret to writing every day is to…write every day? The secret to coming up with a lot of picture book ideas, some of which are actually decent, is to do it every day. This is the thing we forget about creativity. You’re not going to get struck by the muse unless you’re actively seeking her. Making something worthwhile — stories, furniture, children, rock-hard abs — takes hard work. But the most important hard work is the daily small work. You can write a novel by ignoring your life and typing nonstop for a month. Or you can make something worthwhile by working on it for a few minutes a day. That option makes more sense for most of us, and probably makes a better product because you’re actually breathing fresh air and waving hello to people and eating decent sandwiches while you’re being creative.

Anyway, so: yeah! I came up with 43 ideas. Some of them are, more or less, “cheese.” But a few have morphed into early drafts, and some others are a page or two of frantic scribblings, so there’s potential there. I am also very happy that writer Julie Hedlund has launched a new challenge: 12×12 in 2012, where we’re going to turn those PiBoIdMo ideas into drafts.

Having an outside force holding me accountable is very motivating. I’m now actively seeking challenges like CleHoEvDa (Clean Your House Every Day) and DoFoHoChi (Don’t Forget to Homeschool the Children).

We Love Our Firefighters

So. Here is the formula for the Best Day Ever, according to Eli. First, we had a completely normal day. Then, at bedtime, I sent the kids upstairs to get in their pajamas while I cleaned up the dinner dishes. Everyone but Henry ignored me. Henry came downstairs a minute later and said, with only a teensy bit of urgency in his voice, “There’s smoke in our room.”

I ran upstairs. There was, indeed, a bit of smoke in their room, and more than a bit of a smell. It smelled like a match that had been blown out, or maybe melted crayon. Or leaking gas. The mind jumps to conclusions in these situations, and any of those smells seemed possible. I could locate nothing. I opened the window. The smoke dissipated, but the smell remained.

I should mention that Dave, who was actually a firefighter long ago, is out of town. So I did the normal thing, and called the fire department. Long story short, it turned out it was a burned out fluorescent bulb in the overhead light. Huh. Once we figured that out, the firefighters were happy to show the kids all their cool equipment. They also heartily praised our house renovations, which had nothing to do with any potential fire, but made me happy. Seriously, every firefighter I’ve ever met has been the nicest, most awesome person.

Then, of course, I said, “Before you go, we have to take a picture.” They said, “Let’s take it out on the truck!” Ok!

And that, according to Eli, is how to have the Best Day Ever.

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