Entries in Hurray (49)


And There Was Much Rejoicing

Re-entry: what can I say?  It has been…interesting. 

It’s good to be home, though, and we're now in the routine of a new school year.  It is awfully quiet at the Perkins Corral once 8:15 rolls around each morning.  By then, Patrick has gone to his office and five of the six kids are a half-mile away at our tiny but fabulous school.  Here’s a quick status report on the older five:

  • Daniel loves all things kindergarten.  
  • Tess likes her third grade teacher, who is new to the school but seems like a keeper so far.
  • Hope is navigating the treacherous waters of fifth grade as serenely as a French swan.
  • James is savoring being at the top of the middle school heap, knowing well that next year’s high school debut is not that far off.  
  • Christian is a Junior (pardon me as I shudder with the faint horror that word still evokes in me) and is coping well with A/P classes and the idea that dating and driving privileges are only weeks away (pardon me as I shudder again, much more profoundly this time).

And Anne and I?  We’re adjusting to the lonnnnnng stretches of quiet time.  Since school started, Anne’s naps have been nearly twice as long as usual; if this continues, I may well have three or four solid hours of alone time each and every day, unprecedented riches that I plan to spend writing, writing, writing.  

But enough about us.  You, my faithful and patient readers, are waiting for the results of the August contests.  Without further ado:

Je Mange France! #1, for which contestants submitted their favorite made-up words.  Let me just say here that I am so glad that I passed the judging buck to others, since there’s no way I could have chosen just one.  I loved many of your submissions and have already started using them in regular conversation.  My illustrious panel has come through, though, and the winner is:

“Failtastic,” submitted by Charrette!

Je Mange France! #2, the “speed dating” challenge, as Whitney so aptly put it.  I numbered the entries, then went to random.org and generated a random number.  The winner is:


Je Mange France! #3, in which contestants wrote 50-word stories inspired by a photo of young Christian dressed up like Jack Sparrow.  My illustrious panel loved all the stories and had a difficult time settling on their favorite, but finally I can announce that the winner is:

“Black Bart” by TC!

Honorable mentions go to, well, everyone, but I must say that Tyler’s spectacular (but disqualified-due-to-length) poem is pretty swoonworthy.

Thank you to ALL commenters in the month of August.  It was very cheering to read your words once we got home.  And huge thanks to my darling Brillig, who posted the contests each Monday.

I’m contemplating posting a summary of our trip to France in a few installments.  Are you at all interested?   I can't imagine that you would be.  But maybe I'm wrong.  Let me know.

Finally, here’s a piece of news that has caused me much rejoicing in the past few days: I sold my short story “Fugue” to an anthology! How satisfying it is to find a home for that story after so many rejections.  The bonus is that will appear in print; my short stories have so far been published only on the web.  "Fugue," a dark fantasy story about a the supernatural misadventures of a young piano teacher, will appear in the third volume of Candlelight, edited by Jonathan Schlosser.  I’ll post publication details as soon as I get them, since I know you'll all want your very own copy. :D

That’s it for now, folks.  TC and Eowyn, please email me your addresses and I’ll send you your prizes (Charrette, I still have your address).  Hearty congratulations to all!


Frenchification by Immersion

In a little over a month, we are trading houses for three weeks with a family who lives near Versailles. We found our house exchange through HomeLink, and we are very excited about our long-overdue vacation. Patrick and I took a three-week trip to France and Switzerland sixteen years ago; it remains one of our fondest memories.  I anticipate that this trip will become a highlight of family lore for years to come.

As of last Friday, school is finally out.  It’s time to begin our preparations. Because I am paranoid and prideful, I find I must add “clean out and organize every closet, cupboard, and drawer” to my already lengthy To Do list. I know, I know; but the French family will be living here for three whole weeks, and what if it rains a lot, and the kids play Hide and Seek, and one of them gets lost not in Narnia, but in some unpleasant little purgatory like our linen closet or the arts and crafts cupboard?

Long time friends and Novembrance readers will remember that I homeschool our kids every summer. This year, except for working on Daniel’s reading and Tess’s math, we are setting aside our usual curriculum and focusing exclusively on France.

We’ll be reading or re-reading:

Linnea in Monet’s Garden
The King in the Window
A Company of Fools
The Red Keep
A Proud Taste for Scarlet and Miniver
Katie Meets the Impressionists
The Annotated Mona Lisa
The Da Vinci Code*
The Eight*
The Count of Monte Cristo
Paris to the Moon

We’ll be watching or re-watching:
The 400 Blows
My Father’s Castle
My Mother's Glory
The Hunchback of Notre Dame
Cyrano de Bergerac
An American in Paris
The Scarlet Pimpernel

And listening to:
Charles Trenet
Maurice Chevalier
Edith Piaf
Charles Aznavour
Yves Montand
Les Alchimistes
Saint Privat
Plastic Bertrand

Each of the kids will be using the fantastic Rosetta Stone program every day, and I’ve pulled out my old Champs Elysées CDs. As I mentioned once long ago, I try not to think about how badly my French has eroded since my mission and those years of intensive study in college. I’ll set regret aside and focus on doing my best.

Food, of course, will not be neglected in our study. Croissants, cassoulet, escargots, steak frites, crepes Nutella, and chocolat chaud will all be consumed in anticipation of the culinary delights we will encounter in France.

Places we plan to visit while there:

Within Paris

La Cathédrale Notre Dame
La Sainte-Chapelle
Le Louvre
La Musée d’Orsay
Café Angelina
La Tour Eiffel
L’Arc de Triomphe
La Bastille

Outside Paris
Parc Astérix

* Christian gets a couple of softballs due to his summer reading requirements for AP English. James is determined to finish the unabridged version of The Count of Monte Cristo (866 pages--he's about a third of the way through), and I am re-acquainting myself with my beloved yet long-neglected M. Proust.

We know we are beyond lucky to be having such a grand adventure, and we plan to make the most of it. It won't be a whirlwind tour; three weeks will afford us the luxury of taking our time to enjoy the riches that will surround us.  I can't wait!


Comfortably Yum

Drum roll, please! My cookbook Comfortably Yum: Food for Body and Spirit is now available at an e-store near you! It will show up on Amazon sometime in the next week, but this link is working fine.

It's gratifying to hold a copy of it in my hands after so many months of work. Looking through it, I think it's a pretty great collection of recipes, and I'm very excited that all my favorites are now in one place. If you're new to my blog and wonder what kind of stuff you might find in the cookbook, click on any of the posts tagged Delicious Dish.

I owe big thanks to many people on Planet Blog for their generous support; all my readers are wonderful, but a few stand out. Deb Barshafsky and Charrette for coming up with the book's title. Kymburlee, Brillig, Annette Lyon, and Anne Bradshaw have been fabulous angels of generosity.

Now I think I'll go make something from Comfortably Yum to celebrate. Hmm...Sticky Toffee Pudding? Stuffed Mushrooms? Tuscan Chicken? Dulce de Leche Squares? So many choices....

**UPDATE** CreateSpace (the company I used to publish my book) DOES ship orders internationally. Those of you in Canada, Europe, and the U.K. should not have any problem using the link above to purchase my book.


Bon Anne-iversaire

At this time on this day one year ago, I was undergoing a Caesarean section. It wasn't much fun, but the result was more than worth the trouble and pain. Happy Birthday, sweet Anne!


An Unexpected Tribute

I am blessed. Unbeknownst to me, seven-year-old Tess entered a contest sponsored by the local Lions Club chapter. She wrote an essay nominating me for the annual "Mother of the Year" award. I'll type it exactly as it appears on her entry form:

My mom is important to our family and this community because...
She is kind. She helps our family stay healthy. There are six children in my family. My mom helps us learn and she cares for all of us. My mom is also an author and we like her books. She is helpful to our family. She makes us healthy food, she never leaves us alone. I know she is a good mother and always loves us. She is sweet, too. She is always good and helpful and sweet and kind. We love her and she loves us. When she has a hard time cleaning, we will help her. When mom wants us to get Anne to sleep, we did it kindly. When my mom is alone, we cheer her up by taking flowers to her.

I got a call from the Lions Club last week informing me that Tess had nominated me, and that we were invited to a special dinner at The Plumbush Inn. So tonight, Tess and I got dressed up and went, not really knowing what to expect.

It turns out there were four divisions in the contest: Kindergarten through 3rd Grade; Fourth through Eighth; High School; and Over 18. The Lion's Club members read all the letters without knowing who had written them and selected a winner in each category.

After we ate a lovely dinner with the Lions Club members and the other mothers and children, Tess read her entry aloud to the entire group. I received a beautiful bouquet of roses and a plaque naming me Mother of the Year, K-3 Division. The other three winning moms and I and our children had our photo taken for the local paper; here's one I asked someone to take of Tess and me.Personally, I really think it should have been a "Daughter of the Year" award; my darling girl made me feel so special and loved. Thanks, sweetie!