Sunday, September 20, 2009

First Post-natal Blog

So, um, on January 2nd I wrote that I would post on this blog as much as baby would allow - which turned out to be not at all. Sorry. But, I can say that I did manage #1 "give birth" and #4 "stay involved in the children's publishing world".

In fact, it is the pursuit of #4 that inspired this post.

On Saturday, I taught a fantasy writing class. It wasn't my first time speaking to group of writers, but it was the first time I had ever taught. If you want to know what they thought of me, just click on this *ahem* picture below which was created by the creative Candy Gourlay, one of the writers on the course.

And please refer to me as "Slasher" from now on.

Sunday, April 05, 2009

Busy as a Bee

Lots of fun projects have been keeping me busy.

My favorite of the lot is this one: This is the anthology contest that my friend Sara and I ran two years ago for the British Society of Children's Books Writers and Illustrators. It was hugely successful then and we're hoping this second incarnation will be, too. We had opened the submissions with a kick off event last Tuesday. The agent and editor judges plus the past winners came along to offer advice to the people submitting this year. It was great to feel the excitement in the air. And this year we have a beautiful website which explains everything if I haven't already talked your ear off about it. Yay!

My other big children's book industry project was co-hosting a Children's Book Circle event on the future of children's publishing. We had a panel of five speakers come to talk about digitally interactive publishing, e-books, sustainable paper publishing, print on demand and personalized printing. They were all great speakers and I learned a lot. That was also last week, on Thursday, and so I've defintiely been keeping myself busy and distracted from this Big Event that everyone is waiting for.

I've also been taking driving lessons, and have my driving test booked for April 16th. Gulp. Gulp because it's notoriously hard to pass driving tests in Britain and gulp because that's only eight days before my due date! I'm hoping the huge bump might win me some sympathy points.

Other chores: I've pre-washed all my baby clothes/cloths/blankets; I planted some garlic in pots on the patio; I've been ordering things online like mad for Baby's arrival.

Hubby's progress: He's fixed our bookcases to the wall, so I can start filling up the shelves. He's repotted our tall bamboo plants into fancy bigger pots, done some gravelling out front and also started pulling down the kitchen. This time, though, the kitchen won't stay in pieces for months. The idea is that everything he's ripped out will be put back (even better) by the end of this Easter weekend. When he pulled up the cabinets, we found a community newsletter from 1987 buried underneath -- it quite amusing as it's pretty similar to the newsletter we get now! Here's the kitchen in-progress:

And when we're not doing big projects, we're doing this... which, if you aren't addicted like we are, is Guitar Hero.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Photo Update

I'm overdue on some photos that I promised. Here they are:

The new car...

The new kitchen...
Yes, it is still in its packaging, but it will be rudely awakened in about two weeks' time. The first pic is the fridge, dishwasher (yay!) and microwave. The second is of all the cupboards, shelves, door handles, etc., in a stack in our conservatory.

The new nursery...
Now posing as a guest room. (Sorry for the narrow shot. I'm still not quite used to my new camera.) Hubby has outdone himself with the beautiful new floor.

For those keeping tabs on my pregnancy, I'm now 34 weeks pregnant. (Gulp!) We've been going to NCT classes to meet other parents and learn about all the fun stuff that's going to happen in 6 to 8 weeks time.

I hope my next post will be about half of the new kitchen going in.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

My work colleagues ROCK

This morning at work, I came downstairs from a meeting to find a surprise "30" birthday balloon and shiny confetti all over my desk. Then, I got a special sparkly birthday cake and everyone sang me Happy Birthday. I LOVED it.

Here is a picture of my fabulous cake, courtesy of a friend with a camera phone. It was lemon inside with a delicious cream cheese (and edible sparkly) filling.

Husband liked it, too. I brought a big slice home for him.

And this is only the beginning of a long weekend of celebrating... me! I get a fancy dinner tomorrow night with the husband, an evening of karaoke, Chinese food and drinks (non-alcoholic for me) in London on Saturday with Da Crew AND a lunch with my neighbour on Sunday.

Getting old is fun!

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Thank you Petaling Street

Today I managed to successfully negotiate with a used car dealer. Wahoo!

Hubby and I set a price that we wanted to pay (even though we would have paid the sticker price), and I wheeled and dealed until we actually got that price. It wasn't easy and the dealer didn't want to agree to my offer, but in the end I managed to get £500 off the listed price. YeeHAW!

It's not a done deal yet, but we've locked in the price and I'm very proud of myself. So, thank you to Petaling Street (a street in Kuala Lumpur where I watched my dad haggle with hard-headed watch sellers) and also thank you to various websites about negotiation and to my husband for his patience.

When/if we get the car, I'll post a picture.

In other news:
-- the nursery is coming along nicely. Neil has painted the walls, hung the blinds and laid most of the new floor.
-- the IKEA kitchen is arriving on Tuesday.
-- we're just back from a lovely trip to Tucson to celebrate my Grandma's 90th birthday, to meet my gorgeous second nephew Caleb and to see my mom's beautiful new house.
-- we have our first parenting class on Monday
-- I'm taking driving lessons and am scheduled for a British driving test in mid-April. I hope Baby doesn't come too early!

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Country Living

One of the things I should have blogged about last year was buying our escape-to-the-country home. We've left concrete Croydon and moved to the Chilterns.

Here's the view from our bedroom window:

It's green and beautiful and it makes it difficult to go into grey, crowded London for work. The village is tiny and lovely, and we have wonderful next door neighbours who welcomed us on our first evening and have been good friends ever since.

Of course, we can't resist redecorating and renovating. We're redoing the kitchen, IKEA-style, just as we did in Croydon. We're turning bedroom three into a nursery, and doing a few bits and pieces everywhere else (new fireplace, new floors, painting everywhere...).

Progress so far:
We have had the hideous Artex ceiling plastered over by a skilful, efficient and clean workman (yay!), and we've had custom bookshelves made by affordable and skilled but not very communicative pine bookcase builders.

Artex ceiling:

Artex celing no more:

We've also bought a new couch:

My darling hubby has pointed out that my New Year's resolution about getting all the DIY done by the end of the year isn't really fair on him, but I've always been a little ambitious...

I'm off to IKEA on Monday to finalize the kitchen and place the order for everything, so I expect you'll see a picture of the stack of flat pack in the near future.

Friday, January 02, 2009

It's 2009!

If there is anyone out there still reading: I can't believe it's been six months since I've posted! I apologize for my lack of follow through. Since it's a new year, I'm going to get back on the blogging horse.

I have a couple of things to blog about from the second half of last year that I will post in the coming weeks, but this post is a combination "big news" post and 2009 goals. Lots of my blogging friends are posting their goals for the year for all to see, and perceived pressure from all you people watching me will help get me get them done.

My first goal is combined with my "big news".

1. Give birth.
Yup. If you didn't know already (but I'm guessing you do!) I'm six months pregnant with a baby boy, due at the end of April. This and what follows will take up the majority of my energy and efforts, so the rest of my list will be short.

2. End the DIY.
Help my husband install a new kitchen, set up the nursery (both before baby, I hope!)and decorate the rest of the house so that it's completely done by 2010.

3. Begin the gardening.
One of my dreams for moving out to the country and having a proper backyard (oh yeah, we've moved!) is to be able to grow my own vegetables. I'm pretty good at killing house plants, but I'm going to try to garden anyway.

4. Become a better publishing employee.
Read at least 30 non-work books, to beat the measley 25 I read in 2008. Write those articles I've been meaning to write. As much as possible while I'm away from work, stay involved in the children's publishing world.

5. Enjoy the inevitable chaos.
I won't sweat the small stuff. I will make lots of mistakes, but it won't matter. I will not be hard on myself and I will have fun with my baby boy.

6. Don't disappear.
I will stay in touch with friends and let myself take a break when I need to in the hobbies that I love. I will post on this blog and play as much Scrabble on Facebook as baby will allow.