Monday, January 31, 2011

First Entry in the New York Report: aka how my introduction to NYC involved many bodily fluids people don't talk about.

Hey ya'll.

I'm back.

I've been five days without wi-fi, and that is six days too long. Apparently New York is one of those cities that doesn't realize wi-fi should be as free as air. Of course, New York is a city that charges for their air, so maybe the concept never occurred to them.

If you want to see a New Yorker make a funny face, ask them where to get free wi-fi. But I'm not bitter. Totally not bitter.

Now I'm staring at the computer screen, wondering how to blog. It's not like riding a bike. If you don't do it every other day, you will forget how.

Let's start with a rundown of the top... I don't know... 13 things I learned/observed in New York.

1. It's always an appropriate time to back away from a crazy person.

On my first day in the city, a crazy man on the corner of the street yelled at me for "ice skating with the man". I apologized and moved on, because I could have, at some point, ice skated with a man, and how am I to know if he was the man?

Next, another man on the street started puking his guts out, right in front of me. So hard his pants fell down. This kind of excitement has never happened to me before, and I was sorry I was alone because this is the kind of thing one should share with others.

Lucky for you, I had my camera phone.
I especially love the two guys peeking around the corner, partaking in the entertainment without having to get involved.

As a finale to the trifecta of awesome, another crazy man sat across from me on the train, hitting himself and calling himself not nice names.

Everyone around us immediately moved away. I hesitated, because I never want anyone to think I'm judgmental, but then by the time I realized that yes, the smart thing would be to move away, I felt it was too late. My window to move away subtley had long passed.

After a few moments, the poor man peed himself. And that's when I learned a good lesson, which was later confirmed by several friends who live in New York:

It's always an appropriate time to move away from a crazy person. 

2. There are lots of old things in New York.

Here's a picture of the oldest church in America.
I don't know much more about it, except if it's the oldest church in America, it has to be at least fifty years old.

Oops. Wrong picture. Wait a sec... Okay. Now, presenting the oldest church in America.
It was built in 1382, by Sacajawea... and... Ghandi. And Lewis and Clark. It was quite the team venture.

Okay, so I'm not quite sure about the history... oh, wait. Hold the phone. Wrong church.

Lemme shuffle through... okay. Here we go.

Ahem. And below, presenting... The. Oldest. Church. In. America.
Dylan's Candy Bar

It was built in 1982, by a Saint named Dylan, and inside are several confectionary offerings of all sorts of shapes and colors. There is an altar in the middle, praising the immaculate invention of the cinnamon bear.

I spent much time worshipping in the Church of the Dylan's Candy Bar. True to the advertising, it did bring me one step closer to heaven.

3. Sometimes Agents don't like to get their pictures taken.

I got to meet my editor Kristin, and the rest of the publishing team at Balzer and Bray, and when I requested one measly little picture, my agent Michael Bourret's response was, "Oh man. Now that I've sold your book, do I really have to put up with getting pictures anymore?"

Um... yeah. 

I assume his trepidation comes from the fact that I always point out his million dollar smile. But it's not like I show the same picture over and over.

Have you seen this one of us in L.A.?

Sure, I've mentioned his smile, but have I made a big deal about his dimples? Of course not! And I won't.  They are too precious.
The way he was grumbling, you'd think my camera flash blinded him with each shot, when that only happened twice. So, without further delay, I present the one picture of Michael, Me and my editor, the incredible Kristin Daly Rens, in New York City.

Me in the middle, surrounded by awesome.
Enjoy it while you can, because that is the last picture of Michael. 

I always thought the HarperCollins building would look like something out of the Wonka Factory, where cover art is carried to the appropriate rooms by a river of words, and pipes of... um... words.

But, HarperCollins in real life looks a little less... magical. But a lot more practical.
Look what our high-speed, night-vision cameras caught! The elusive Michael Bourret, wandering the maze of cubicles. 

After a reception at the Balzer and Bray offices, Michael, Kristin and I went to lunch. Even the walk was magical, because the snow had just fallen the day before, and it had only just started to turn black with the gunk that blankets the entire city every day.

Kristin and someone else, both thinking this is just a walk to get from point A to point B when really it's an epic journey in a snowy wonderland, where the piles of the white stuff are rife with possibility. Or maybe they're rife with the pantsless guy's puke.  Either way, it's a smell like no other. And I'm walking down the streets of New York with my Editor and my Agent. Tell me that's not magical. I dare you. 

Seriously, we're only on number 4? Okay, I'll save you all from the entire ship's log of the trip. More to come on Wednesday. 

How about all y'all? Have a great weekend? Did you enjoy the time away from my blog? Did Sam fill in okay? Was he attentive in every way?

And finally, have you ever seen a guy puke so hard his pants fall down? 

I have.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Messy House, Cage Dancers and Brodi taking over New York

With Brodi being out of town, I have been asked to step up my game and come on over to her blog and post for her.  I know it is a Thursday, but there is a new sherrif in town and I am making up my own rules (and when Brodi gets back, she will crush my new rules and it will go back to the regular MWF timespots...but for now, I am IN CHARGE). 

Brodi is out of town.  She just beat the big NYC storm and now   She is New York City partying like its 1989.  Actually, she says that she went to a writers conference, but I have my doubts.  I asked her how her busy day of taking notes, studying the words of the speakers, etc. went...She avoided the question and told me that she went out with our niece for lunch and then spent the rest of the day exploring downtown NYC, Columbia, etc.  As you can tell, she is working very hard on perfecting her trade at this 'writing conference.'

I too have been living it up - I have spent the past couple of days getting her car working (OK, a mechanic did it but I did watch him), fixing the plumbing (OK, a plumber did it, but I did watch him), doing homework with the kids, actually working at my own job, trying to keep the house from being condemned by the city and yet I still find time to hold dance parties all through the night, complete with strobe lights, karaoke machines and cage dancers (don't ask!).  The kids have been well fed on poptarts, Rootbeer, waffles with extra syrup and ice cream.  All 4 food groups...or is it 5 food groups? We are somehow holding it all together.  We miss her.

On a different note - If you have a chance, please go and visit Brodi's agent's agency's website (that was a mouthful) at:  Brodi's agent Michael wrote a fabulous blog post on why he signed Brodi and what went in to signing her.  It is terrific.  Not sure who loves Michael more, Brodi or me. 

Also, if you have a chance, come on over to our house.  It is a ragin' party all day long.  I even have a couple of cute little boys that you can take home to keep as parting gifts.  Enjoy your Friday and weekend...I really have no plans - so feel free to let me know what you are doing so that I can imagine that I am make it good!  Toodles!

Monday, January 24, 2011

The Day my Phone Bit Back: AKA In the parable of the scorpion and the frog, it sucks to be the frog.

Hey y'all.

So, most of you know the destruction that befell (totally a word) my phone last September when I dropped it in a parking lot.

But I kept the phone, because I'm loyal like that and because it made a fantastic crunchy sort of noise every time I dialed a number.

Okay, and because I couldn't afford a new one. 

Well, my loyalty came back to bite me in the bum. Actually, it was the finger. As I was playing an intense game of Solitaire, I felt a sharp sting on my thumb. A shard of glass had embedded itself in my skin. And holy cow, that is ow

I gingerly removed the offending bugger, and then the blood started gushing. And by "gushing" I mean a tiny bead of red appeared. 

But really, the sharpest pain of all was in my heart. How had I been so deceived, that we could just go on like that without one or both of us getting hurt? 

The phone gave me puppy dog eyes, and said, "Have I ever told you the story of the scorpion and the frog?"

me: "No."

Phone: "The scorpion needed to cross a river, and so he asked the frog for a ride. 'But, you'll sting me!' the frog said. The scorpion replied, 'I promise not to sting you. I need to get across the river, and if I sting you, we're both in trouble.' The frog agreed and so the scorpion climbed on his back."

me: "Awww. How sweet."

Phone: "Then about halfway across the river, suddenly the scorpion pulls out a shard of glass, and stabs the frog in the thumb. 'What are you doing?' the frog said. 'You've killed us both!' And the scorpion replied, 'I can't help it. It's in my nature.'"

me: "Bite me."

Phone: "How about we save that for next week's lesson?"

But, dear blog readers, there will be no 'next week' for us. My heart has turned to stone. Little does my phone know that later today, I'm taking him to the glue factory, where he will be sacrificed to provide shoes for needy children. 

The shoes will be made out of shards of glass, but hey. They're shoes.


1. My revisions are due tomorrow. I'm about halfway done. This will be very exciting. (Note: If your name is Kristin, and you live in New York, I'm totally kidding. I am all the way done. Nothing to see here.)

2. I'm flying out to New York on Wednesday. I can't wait! I get to meet my agent and my editor, and see my friend Sara Zarr speak at the National SCBWI conference. Anyone in the area? Anyone want to hang out?

So blogging may or may not happen on Wednesday. But I will for sure blog several times from New York! Wish me luck on the revisions. I'm still waiting for a visit from the revision fairy. I believe. I BELIEVE!

Friday, January 21, 2011

Vote for my Official Author Photograph, and a Surprise Visit from Jowly McCheekerton

Happy Friday, yo. 

It's time to unveil the official Author photo!

At least, that's the picture that you see. 

When I look at it, I see this:

Hi! My name's Jowly McCheekerton. What's yours? 

I can only guess what you're thinking:

"Her cup-o-cheek runneth over."

"I didn't know she chewed tobacco!"

"Looks like the Godfather got together with a chipmunk..."

Since I'm not great with photoshop, or any of those other programs, I've come up with a few solutions that don't require much tech know-how. Please vote for your favorite.

Solution #1:
"I think she has a little something on her face. What is that? A crumb?"

Oh no. It's not a crumb. It's just a pickle, of course. Probably left over from when they ate lunch. Happens to me all the time.

Option #2:
"Oh look! She's peeking out from behind a fascinating brick wall. How coy!"

Oh, no, wait! It's the Berlin wall! Even better! She's so political.

Option #3:
"Boy, it must've been really cold that day!"

Awesome ski mask, though!

So. please vote for your favorite option. Personally, I'm inclined to go with the Berlin Wall, only this time I'll step behind it completely. 

My photographer "Opie" was awesome, by the way. She did the best she could, given her cheek-matter...  I mean, her subject matter. 

p.s. Photos by Opie Foto

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

An Ode to the Treat in my Mailbox

Yesterday was one of those crazy, milestone, everyone-said-it-would-never-happen days. 

I went to my mailbox and guess what I found?

Evidence that someone in this universe is actually paying me for my words. For all the if's, and's and but's. And double for the that's.

Here's a picture of the check:
Let's zoom in and get a closer look:
p.s. Anyone who can get the hidden references in here gets bonus blog points, to be used as blog dollars on bonus blog day, which is the same date as the date on the check.
There was a time not long ago (Okay, it was September 15th) when I would've given away my book for free.

I think e.e. cummings said it best in his poem "Little Check"

LITTLE check
little silent Advanced Check
you are so pretty
you are more like a love letter


who found you in the mailbox
and were you very sorry to leave New York?

Oh how I waited
but you were very fast!

see i will comfort you
because you smell so sweetly
i will kiss you
and hug you safe and tight
just as your mother would,
only don't be afraid 
 look the words
that sleep all the year in a dark computer
dreaming of being taken out and allowed to shine,

I’ll hang you in the window
for everyone to see

and how they'll stare!
oh but you'll be very proud
and my little hubby and i will take hands
and looking up at our beautiful check
we'll dance and sing
“If I was a sculptor, but then again, no”

I'm off to go waste my money on cheap caffeine and a buttload of cinnamon bears.

Drinks are on the house! (Not my house... I can't afford it. If's, and's and but's have flooded the market recently, causing a rash of foreclosures.)

added: Seriously, anyone catch the references on the check? Anyone?

Monday, January 17, 2011

Thing #1 and Thing #1: The Australian Open, Sam's Birthday, And what a Rafa Slam really looks like

Howdy y'all! Happy Martin Luther King Day. 

How about a quick... Thing #1 and Thing #1!

1. The Australian Open started today. 

Well, technically it started on Monday, Australia time, which is really Sunday our time. 
We always laugh at their logo. Nobody, not even Rafa, can strike that pose. That shaded man is very bendy.
And that's why the Australian Open is so brilliant... you can see the future. 15 hours ahead. And it looks like this:
The future looks bright. And clean. And apparently designed by a twelve-year-old.
Amazing what we can do with 15 hours!

Rafa will be going for his fourth consecutive grand slam title, a feat that hasn't been accomplished... since... dinosaurs walked the planet. You can take my knowledge of tennis facts to the bank!... of the East River and throw it in.
Rafa. He's comin' to getcha!
Some people are all caught up in saying, "Well, technically it's not a Grand Slam since the wins are not all in the same calendar year... but we'll just call it a Rafa Slam... but don't anyone think it's a Grand Slam."

I respond to these people by throwing bran muffins at their heads. When I hear "Rafa Slam", I picture this:
The Rafa Slam. I'm hungry!

By the way, Rafa doesn't care what anyone calls it. He lets the talking heads talk their heads off while he goes out and dominates the world of tennis.

So yeah, probably most of my posts will go from Revision-centered to Rafa-centered. And if this surprises you, you are probably a very new reader to the blog. Welcome! Don't be scared.

2. It's Sam's birthday today. 

This morning, the kids came into our bedroom and as usual demanded their breakfast rightnowican'twaiti'mdyingofstarvation. Sam didn't budge. For, like, 15 minutes. I was like, "Hello? What's going on here?"

That was my first clue he was feeling a little entitled.

So, let us all raise a pop tart, and toast my main squeeze. (Not Rafa). Happy Birthday Sam! May your days be filled with happiness, and your donuts be filled with jelly!

Feel free to wish him happy birthday in the comments! At the end of the day, I will put all the wishes together in a song, and sing it to him.

So, anyone else going to be watching the Aussie Open?

Friday, January 14, 2011

Why I Love my Editor... and Why I Flash my Computer Screen sometimes

I love my editor. 

You never know how you're going to work with someone until you're actually working with them. After three rounds of revising, I'm realizing how lucky I am to have someone like Kristin in my corner, because...

1. She never gets annoyed by all the posts I write about the joys of revising.

2. Two days ago, we exchanged emails discussing the implications if Justin Bieber decided to enroll in a typical high school. (The Bieb won't be denied!)

Yes, this really was part of the revision process.

3. Yesterday, we emailed back and forth about our cursing preferences: which words we personally used, which ones we didn't, which ones were too "street", too flippant, or too crass for my main character.

Someone who swears too much is like the school floozy. Nobody's gonna want to buy the milk when they can get the cow for free.

4. She doesn't mind when I use metaphors that make absolutely no sense, which makes me wonder, if that free cow tips over in the forest, would you then have to pay for the milk?

*swears a little under her breath*

5. She's incredibly patient when she has to write the same instructions over and over in the margins.

The Top three instructions on this round?
3. "Let's take this further!"

2. "a little awkward..."

And the number one instruction... "SHOW!"

So, all you writers, the number one rule to "Show, don't Tell" never goes away. Sometimes, even when you think you're showing, you're really telling. About showing. I'm dizzy.

I've taken to answering these instructions out loud to the computer screen.  Yes, like a crazy person.

3. "... Your place or mine."

2. "...Welcome to my life." *awkward hugs*

1. For this one, I usually just flash the computer screen.

I'm under the wire on this round. Blogging may be sporadic. Who am I kidding? I always blog! I love to blog! And I vow, from this day forward, I will try to SHOW, not tell, in my posts. At the very least, I will flash the computer screen before pressing "Publish Post". 

So, what are all y'all's plans for the weekend? Anyone snowed in, like us?

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Revision Update: Third Time's the Charm? and a visit from the Diet Coke Fairy

Hey y'all.

So, I received my third revision letter (Or Help Edit and Learn Letter). Each HELL is becoming narrower in focus, and smaller in print, and this time around we will be looking at each paragraph... nay, even each sentence, to check for flow, consistency, and... some other stuff I can't think of at 8:00 a.m.

The Revision Letter:
I always read my revision letters through a soft-glow filter. It helps. 
Sometimes I use rose-colored glasses instead.

This revision comes down to 4 steps:

1. Comb the Draft

...looking for signs of weakness. Am I repeating words? Are the characters repeating actions? Is anyone flinching?

2. Ruminate on Possible Changes

Is there a fresh way to express what is happening? Is that passage even necessary to the book? Can it be fixed? Removed entirely?

3. Adjust Accordingly

Make the mandatory fixes. Trim the fat, where possible.

4. Proceed

... on to the next problem area.

Over the course of the next two weeks, I will be working on these four steps: Comb, Ruminate, Adjust, Proceed. Or CRAP.

As I am in the process of CRAP (CRAP-ing?), it is always good to have some essentials on hand, and Monday night I was lucky enough to get a visit from the Diet Coke fairy.

I opened my front door to find a 24-pack of bottled Diet Coke on my porch. 

I always knew that if I believed long enough, and hard enough, the Diet Coke Fairy would appear. It has been many years since I first heard the magical tinkle of the silver bells on the Diet Coke Fairy's sleigh. Decades.

My friends always told me I was silly to believe. But I can still hear those bells...

So, how is everyone else's January going? The good news is, when I'm finished with this round, January will almost be over! Yay!

Monday, January 10, 2011

I Can No Longer Stay Quiet: I Love Anna and the French Kiss, and I own a set of Brass Knuckles

I normally don't recommend books on the blog. It gets me in trouble a lot, because there are usually three reactions:

1. I loved it too. Thanks.

2. I didn't love it. And I want my $17.95 back. And I want you to give it to me.

This reaction is usually accompanied by pitchforks and torches. Probably because of the tough economic times out there.

3. I gave it to my teenage daughter, based on your approval of it, and it has this word in it, and we don't talk about this word ever, and we don't say this word ever, and I don't appreciate you paving my daughter's pathway to hell. 

Yes, I really have received each of these reactions. Hence, the avoiding of recommendations on the blog. Plus, now that my own book is coming out, I feel like I'm judging my own colleagues.

But, I am in love, and I can no longer hide it.
I started Anna and the French Kiss when I needed a five minute break from my own revisions. I finished it six hours later. This was just before the Christmas break, and since then I've read it probably two times more. 

It tells the love story between Anna and a boy named St. Clair. I love this book. And I'm ready to take our relationship to the next level. (Which involves it falling in love with me back, we move to Paris, and I have its babies.)

I recommended it to my niece, who also devoured it in a day or two, and last night we were gushing over it at dinner. 

She's all, "I really want to find someone like St. Clair."

I'm all, "Me too! I totally love him."

She gives me a strange look, and says, "Well, you probably wouldn't want to find him."

And I think, she's already claiming our fictional version of St. Clair for herself? We shall battle!

But then she continues, "Because, you know, you already have a husband."
And I was shocked to discover she was right. But my teenage self is a completely different person than my actual self. This is why I write YA. My teenage self is alive and well.

I told my hubby (who's totally an adult version of St. Clair. Trust me, Honey.) I wanted to write a book exactly like Anna for my second book. 

And he's all, "But you write dark paranormal, and Anna is contemporary romance. On the lighter side."

Yes, but book 2 is not written yet.

"But your book 2 is part of a series, and book one is dark paranormal."

But maybe book two can show my main character moving to France, and taking a break from all the dark paranormal stuff to fall in love in the city of lights!

"... But... your main character is... sort of... already in love."

Shut up! I hate you!

I love Stephanie Perkins for introducing me to such a great book, but I also blame her for sucking away all my time, and for writing a book I'll never be able to write!

So, have you read it? What did you think?

And if you decide to read it based on this post, please leave your pitchforks at home, and please review it yourself before you go giving it to your teenagers, and if you are a teenager, please understand that I will use brass knuckles to fight you for St. Clair. Husband or no.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Observations from the Author Photo Shoot: There is a right and a wrong way to wear Spanx.

 Hey y'all. Here's a report from my photo shoot:

1. Park City is cold in January.

We took the photos on Main Street in Park City, because that's where much of my book takes place. 
Not only is it cold, but there are a lot of skiers who roam the streets, so no matter where we went, we had an audience. Most of the people watching had a visible little thought bubble above their heads that said:

Is she supposed to be someone famous?

How can someone with such big cheeks be famous?

I think this is because the Sundance Film Festival is coming up. I wanted to tell them, "I'm no one. I actually paid this poor girl to take my picture."

And... it was cold.

2.  It doesn't matter how many cute outfits you pick out. If you're stupid enough to get your pictures taken in Park City in the winter, you have just one outfit. A coat.
That's me in the white coat, and I don't know who that other person is. Often when I casually lean against a metal wall, someone inevitably shows up with a camera.

Of course I'm kidding. That's really my awesome photographer Opie, and she did a great job of telling me when to smile big and when to look serious. 

I brought several outfits to the shoot, and when Opie saw them, she said, "Um... those are all five different versions of the same outfit" because I only ever wear black ONLY EVER and I never wear color NEVER EVER.

Thankfully, my mom had the foresight to bring along a red scarf. Remember the one I was making fun of?

3. If you're going to wear spanx, make sure you wear them correctly.

I decided to give spanx a try. They were the kind you wear under a shirt, and they're supposed to cover everything but... um... the sisters. Unfortunately, I didn't know this. I accidentally put it on backward, like a swimsuit, so that it was completely smashing everything on my chest (which isn't necessarily a bad thing).

When I looked in the mirror, I was flat as a pancake. Then I turned around to discover I had an awesome rack (with cleavage) coming out my back. It looked like someone had put my head on backward.

Thankfully, the Nordstrom girl came in and pointed out the error of my ways, all the while trying to stifle a giggle. 

But, for one shining moment... I was flat. From a certain angle.

4. I got a few pics with my honey. (No, not Rafa. The other honey.)

5. I got a sneak peek of my photos in an online gallery, and I'm amazed at what miracles a professional photographer can pull off. I can't wait to show y'all!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

The Dreaded Author Pic: aka Why I was up all Night. aka Anyone want to stand in for me?

Yo, y'all.

Today I'm getting the thing that every author dreads and fears:

No, not leprosy. I'm getting the author picture. You know, the one that will go on the back cover of the book, to be immortalized in print forever.

Okay, maybe not every author feels like I do, but darn if I wasn't up all night last night stressing about it. (Which did wonders for my skin this morning, and not in the good way). 

I have friends who have totally awesome author pics:
Bree "I can even make a brick wall look good" Despain

Emily "What picture? I was just looking at something over there, and smiling thoughtfully" Wing Smith

Then there's me.
This picture was in the Salt Lake Tribune over the weekend, with the caption "Fans of Utah young adult author Ally Condie". 

I had no idea how front-and-center I would appear. Check out the poor little girl to my left, who's trying to peek around the enormous planet dressed in black. 

It looks more like the caption should read: "Ally's number one giant fan, who might follow her home and leave dead roses by her front door. She's comin' to getcha, Ally. And she's leading the charge of hundreds more just like her! Only, smaller. Rarrrrr!"

To be fair, when the girl told everyone she was taking the picture, I puffed up like a blow fish. That's how I pose. 
I also took another picture recently. I won't show it to you, but I will tell you that if it had a caption, it would read "Boobs McGee, and her giant purse. Be amazed at how they dwarf everyone around them!"

Emily Wing Smith says I look exactly the same in every picture ever taken of me. I don't know what she's talking about...

Okay, maybe I do. But this is because I have spent my life practicing how to smile so I don't look like this:
Brodi Ashton. Her cheeks arrive 15 minutes before she does.
Anywho, there's a chance I'm overthinking the whole thing. Really, I just want to get it over with. Anyone have any advice? Anyone know how to apply blush so that my chest looks flatter?

Maybe I'll just go with the caption: "Objects in picture are smaller than they appear. I promise."

What would the captions of your own pictures read?

Monday, January 3, 2011

My Christmas Break Report: I edited, I swore, and I looked like a Dork

Hey y'all! It's great to be back. I missed you. (Yes, you!)

Things I accomplished over the Christmas break:

1. I edited the boogers out of my manuscript.

It's true. There are no more boogers in it. Now, when it breaths through its nose, there are no more whistling sounds.

2. I only cut myself six times while opening the kids' stupid toys in their stupid packaging. And then I only swore seven times. (An extra one for good measure).

3. I hosted a birthday party for Kid C and about 11 other 8-year-olds at a swimming pool. Because a party isn't a party unless you're risking a life. 
We only like to swim when it's -2 degrees outside.  

(Kid C's birthday party with my husband's family)
Kid C's birthday party with my family. Not quite as big in numbers.

Kid B pointedly NOT swimming

4. Despite having two children who are in their thirties, my mom can still manage to dress us like we're twelve.

Here's us, modeling the presents my mom bought us. 
Yep. Your eyes do not deceive you. She bought us matching hats and scarves, that in turn matched the dog.

5. You wouldn't think someone could pull off looking cool and digging for spare change from the money jar. But Kid C can.
I'm not desperate. I was just sitting here, in my preppy vest, and my hand happened to fall into the money jar. And if I come up with a fistful of coins, I'll just shrug. Whatevs.
6. Kid C and Niece N had a sing-off to the tune of "I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas". Nobody died in battle, but some blood was shed. Mostly by the audience, who tried to slit their wrists with wrapping paper.
Battle formations... check.

7. We wore the kids out sledding.

Kid C and Kid B, in a dress rehearsal for the cold weather.

This is no dress rehearsal. It's 2 degrees outside.

Raise a glass... to child labor!

8. The results of number 7:
 Pictures like this stop me from sending Kid B back up the chimney to search for his "real" dad- the fat guy in the red suit.

9. And finally, the ninth thing I accomplished over the holidays...

I made the yuletide gay.

At first, he wanted nothing to do with it, but by the end, he relented.

How was all y'all's holidays?