Housekeeping! (A List in Accented English)

* Yes, I did in fact say that in my head with an exaggerated Spanish-accented English voice. * Because I can.

* If you don't laugh, you're actually hurting my feelings.

* Things are insane.

* Hence, the list.

* Turns out you guys are all Made of Awesome.

* Why, you ask?

* Because 418 of you signed my Change.org petition to get Disney to drop the sex kitten crap with Merida.

* It's too late.

* Maybe.

* She's been crowned & the new image is available on a variety of Crap We'll Buy Our Kids Because We're Giant Suckers.

* And because even if she's been sexed up, the movie is still amazing.

* Oh right.

* Because if we tell our children it's the message that matters and not the size of her waistline, we done good.

* We have no choice, really, since Disney contradicted the very message behind Brave with this whole debacle.

* You know, the one about family, independence, and finding the strength to find out own fates within us?

* Yeah, that one.

* The happy asides?

* A Mighty Girl has a petition with over 18,000 signatures.

* Brave's director is a bit pissed off about the animated plastic surgery job, too.

* So high five on that, y'all.

* New subject.

* Keep up with me, will you?

* I've got an updated version of my Mind Over Medicine review on Girl Body Pride.

* You'll want to stop by.

* Gigi Ross from Kludgey Mom needs some love.

* And Lissa Rankin has written a book I promise you'll want to read.

* Trust me on this one.

* Also? I've got a winner for the Aspiring Mama giveaway of Mind Over Medicine.

* Tanessa Knoll? Buttercup just said Comment Number Two is my winner.

* So ... you're welcome.

* Email me your address, will ya?

* Twitter works, too.

* New subject.

* Yes.

* AGAIN.

* Buttercup is about to follow in Mama's footsteps.

* Little girl has been granted permission by The Mama (me) & The Daddy (The Husband) for a pretty cool gig.

* Girlfriend is going to be a regular contributor to Holly Fulger's Speaking of Beauty blogging team.

* Which also happens to include me.

* I know, right?

* The girl can read at a fourth grade level but has the typing skills of a 5-year-old.

* Probably because she is five.

* So I can't knock her for that.

* Instead, I'll be transcribing my baby's words and views on what beauty means to her.

* I promise not to edit what she says.

* I hope like hell I've done right by her and taught her that beauty is everywhere.

* That the only size that matters when it comes to beauty is the size of our hearts.

* And that society is full of assholes who will try & knock her down a peg or two but that they don't matter.

* I'll know I've succeeded in about 10 years.

* If the child is self-assured enough to wear this when she's 15 because it makes her happy without giving a damn what you think?

 

* I win at motherhood.

* Whiplash warning.

* New subject.

* I really need to take my Xanax.

* That wasn't the subject change.

* Just proof that I need the fucking Xanax.

* This is the subject change...

* Dammit.

* I forgot.

* No, wait.

* GOT IT!

* Girl Body Pride has new team members!

* Congrats to Heidi Zalamar and Margaret Elysia Garcia.

* You guys kick major ass.

* I promise to add your bios to the writer page sometime before 2014 hits.

* Was that all?

* No, seriously.

* I was asking you if I needed to cover anything else before I chase that Xanax with an instant espresso.

* Shut up.

* It works for me.

* Last subject.

* I'm still sitting in a secret.

* And it's a Big One.

* Oh...

* And The Husband just warned me to be on the lookout for the family of moose in the area when I let the dogs out.

* Drops Mic & Saunters Offstage.

 

Because That Thing Your Kid Just Did Has a Name For It

Write what you know and make sure you write what you know for the audience you have in mind. That, in a nutshell, is the gist of all of the writing advice I've had thrown at me since I decided I wanted to work for peanuts for a living. And Eric Ruhalter is a prime example of how this whole thing works if you, you know, do that. Ruhalter is the author or the newly-released The Kid Dictionary: Hilarious Words to Describe the Indescribable Things Kids Do. Ever find yourself at a loss for words when some little punk blows out the candles at your kid's birthday party? That's what Ruhalter refers to as a "wishjack". Want to bitch and scream when you can't DVR American Idol or The Real Housewives of Plastic Surgery and Impossible Standards County because it's full of kid shows again? Just tell the kids you're tired of being "Spongebogged" feel good about not cursing (for once).

Want to know more? Of course you do. Read on for a short interview with Ruhalter and a chance to win your very own copy of The Kid Dictionary.

 

AspiringMama:  Gimme name, rank, and serial number.

Eric Ruhalter: Easily amused Man, Father, husband, Writer, Dreamer, Maker-Upper of Words.
I work in New York City at AMC Television, producing TV Promos, which are commercials that air on AMC about the shows and movies on AMC.  It may not earn me a Pulitzer, but I enjoy it, I love the people and rarely if ever does it put me in any physical danger. Nor is it one of those dirty jobs where my wife makes me leave my clothes on the porch every evening.

My wife Kara and I live in Morris Township, NJ and have 3 kids. 13 year old son and 10 year old son/daughter twins, a dog, and two cats. I like to write, edit video, play Frisbee and ping pong and surfing. And I’m really nice.

AM: Good. I don't interview assholes on my blog. So you being really nice is totally convenient for, like, both of us. Before I forget, I have to ask (because I ask this of all my interviewees) do you chew your ice cream? Bonus points if you say yes.

ER:  YES! YES I chew my ice cream!

Except i'm lying. I do not chew my ice cream.  I just wanted to impress you.  I had a very traumatic experience as a child where i thought you had to chew ice cream, and i did so despite the fact that it hurt my teeth. Ultimately i stopped eating ice cream for a large portion of my childhood. (Except for milkshakes, because they were already chewed.) Now Ice cream is one of my greatest taste-oriented pleasures. But i just let it melt in my mouth. That's how i roll.

AM: ok so you're a nice guy who doesn't chew his ice cream who wrote a funny book. Two outta three ain't bad. Tell the lovely people reading this how you came up with terms like "Curdler". Cuz, like, I've totally been there.
ER: I apologize about the ice cream thing. I’d really like to chew it, but I’m just not ready.
More than 90% of the words in The Kid Dictionary were inspired by things I saw with my own eyes, watching my own kids. There were countless scenarios that didn’t have names but needed them. I, the tireless philanthropist, made them up. And I like to think the world’s a better place.  Okay, maybe that’s overstating it, but I’m glad people like the book.
Okay, “CURDLER.” That one came about after repeated episodes of finding old Sippy Cups, usually containing milk that disappeared. Kids in the toddler phase are not much for rinsing out their cups and plates and stacking them neatly in the dishwasher. They’re more likely to throw it under the couch. And eventually you’ll find them, either by chance or by following their stench and they’ll look like there’s a scientific experiment going on in there. A fuzzy, pungent, moldy scientific experiment. I called them “Curdlers” because it seems as though the milk has turned to cheese. And I like cheese, but probably not that kind.
See? Told you the man knows his audience. Cuz? Raise your hand if you've been there.
Now for the fun part.
Sourcebooks, publisher of The Kid Dictionary, has graciously offered a copy for one Aspiring Mama reader. To enter, simply do one of the following (or more for extra entries!)
* Leave a comment for Eric on this blog post.

* Tweet, Facebook, Google +, or include a link to this post on your own blog. Each counts for it’s own entry, so be sure to leave me one comment letting me know what you did so I can add up points!

* Comments will be accepted through midnight, EST, on Wednesday, April 4.

* One winner will be selected via Random.org and will be announced here on Aspiring Mama shortly thereafter. And of course, if you don't win, The Kid Dictionary can be purchased at all major booksellers.

I (really) Suck at Follow Through

So this one time I interviewed an author and did an interview and hosted a giveaway for a signed copy of her book and people entered and then I totally forgot to choose a winner and put a pretty bow on the whole package? And then another time I did the exact same thing? Yeah...about that.

While I wait for word from Google about how long I have before I forget that I had laser eye surgery four years ago and push my imaginary glasses up the bridge of my nose again, I'll bide my time by announcing that Heiddi Zalamar is the incredibly lucky winner of an unigned copy of Jane Devin's powerful memoir, Elephant Girl.

Thank you all for entering and thank you, Jane, for allowing me the opportunity to share your words.

A Review: Jane Devin's Elephant Girl

I had no idea what I was getting into when I downloaded the ebook version of Elephant Girl. I only knew that I wanted to read the title I have seen repeatedly mentioned in my social media circles before I met up with its author, Jane Devin. I wanted to meet her before I actually met her and have more to offer to the conversation over lunch than "my four-year-old did the cutest thing yesterday." So I bought and read her book.

I stopped a few times. I almost didn't pick it back up. Elephant Girl is as beautifully told as it is painful to read. It's the most perfect blend of raw honesty, unique voice, human spirit and is uttterly heart-breaking. Told in three distinct voices (the unloved and unwanted child, the independent and fragile teenager, and the adult trying to make sense of it all) Devin shares the inner life she invented that helped her live through the years of trauma she endured.

Therein lies her message: No matter the scars hidden within, it is possible to endure.

I simply want to to hug her and thank her for sharing her strength with the world.

I fancy myself a memoir writer. There are stories to share that need to be brought to the surface. But I'm not brave enough yet. But because of Jane, I am that much closer to being where I need to be and discovering my own inner strength.

Jane took a few moments out of her busy schedule to answer a few questions for fans of Elephant Girl. Her answers are thoughtful and, of course, thought-provoking.

 

 

Aspiring Mama: The writer in me wishes I could be as brave as you in my writing and the reader in me wants to thank you for Elephant Girl. It's so beautifully told and yet so hard to read. Can you share what the writing process was like for you?

Jane Devin: I held off on writing Elephant Girl for more than a decade. It never seemed to be the right time; I wasn't sure I had reached a place in life where there would be a satisfactory ending; and there was a time I really cringed at the things I knew some people would say. I was immobilized by these factors and the fear that getting naked by way of a memoir would leave me vulnerable to the kind of cold, raging, or shortsighted people I'd spent years trying not to attract. That may sound like a minor or egotistical thing -- like a writer afraid of criticism -- but that's really not it at all. One of the consequences of growing up in a toxic environment for me was that I thought it was normal for a long time, even though my heart said otherwise, and I kept unconsciously drawing toxic people and situations into my life. I did this for way too many years and by the time I began to learn better and seek better I had some serious baggage I was carrying and a lot of spiritual scars that weren't anywhere close to healed, as well as a new diagnosis of Aspergers, which was both stunning to me as well as a relief. I finally had some sort of answer as to why things went the way they did in my past, but I didn't yet know what difference it might make for my future.

I couldn't write this book until I was strong enough to withstand whatever consequences it might have, whether they were good, bad, or indifferent.
Actually sitting down and writing Elephant Girl was an odd, beautiful, painful, unexpected and urgent process. I wrote the book under some unusual circumstances -- sitting in a borrowed truck every day in the Starbucks parking lot of a small town. I had just completed a yearlong road trip (FindingMyAmerica.com) and really had no resources. No job, no home or car of my own. At any other time in my life, I would have scrambled to correct those deficits quickly, but I knew that if I did, I would never write a book. My focus tends to be all or nothing (which is one consequence of Aspergers) and no matter how hard I've tried, I have a difficult time with splitting my focus when it comes to my passion for writing.
So I forced myself to finish, no matter what or who or where or how. I was fortunate to have supportive friends who helped me through the roughest times -- people I will always feel indebted to and extremely grateful for -- but it was still hard. I went hungry at times and went through weeks of pain with an abscessed jaw. Sitting in a truck for 8-12 hours a day wasn't the kind of cozy, comfortable place I'd always imagined as the "room of my own." I think those hardships, though, lent themselves to the tone of the book and also gave me a sense of urgency. The first draft, 603 pages, was written in eight months.

 

Aspiring Mama: I am in awe of the level of honesty you were able to achieve in Elephant Girl. How did you overcome the barrier so many of us are afraid to cross in order to connect with your audience?
Jane Devin: My writing itself has always been a refuge to me -- a place to be honest without fear -- but I only shared the really raw parts with others sparingly before putting it all out there with Elephant Girl. I think being able to do that came on the heels of understanding how much of a choice I had when it came to allowing toxicity into my life. It may sound exceptionally naive, but I was in my 30s before I even started to grasp the elemental Dr. Suess lesson of "Be who you are and say what you feel because those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind".  It took another ten years or so to truly believe it and to confidently take the risk of rejection both by strangers and people I loved.

***

 

Jane has graciously offered an unsigned copy of Elephant Girl with one Aspiring Mama reader. To enter, simply do one of the following (or more for extra entries!)* Leave a comment for Jane on this blog post.

* Tweet, Facebook, Google +, or include a link to this post on your own blog. Each counts for it’s own entry, so be sure to leave me one comment letting me know what you did so I can add up points!

* Comments will be accepted through midnight, EST, on February 15.

* One winner will be selected via Random.org and will be announced here on Aspiring Mama shortly thereafter.

***

Thank you, Jane, for sharing your strength with the world.

 

 

Don't forget to follow Jane Devin on Twitter here and be sure to read her blog at www.janedevin.com.

 

Inside the Mama Insider

I'm feeling pretty popular by association these days. I've got friends getting agents, signing book deals, and coming out with so many books these days that I'm thinking I need to rub them all on the head to see if I can send some of their luck (which really means hard work, y'all) my way.  

For now, I’m happy to cheer as loudly as I can from the stands when writer-friends do awesome things like self-publish an e-book called Mama Insider: Laughing (And Sometimes Crying) All the Way Through Pregnancy, Birth, and the First 3 Months.

 

INSERT DISCLAIMER HERE: While I call the Abigail Green a friend, AND got to read the ebook without paying for it, I wouldn’t be telling you it was awesome if it actually sucked. Because it doesn’t. And it doesn’t because Abby is one hell of a writer.

Mama Insider is short (50 pages) with short chapters (I think she wrote it with my four-year-old as the test subject for how long her attention span would allow me to read something that doesn’t rhyme) perfect for reading on a mobile device while waiting at the pediatrician for another well-baby check or while hiding in the bathroom while the significant other takes care of the little one(s) for five minutes. As indicated by the title, Abby gives it to new moms straight about what pregnancy and the first three months are actually like. As a formerly new mom myself, I can attest to laughing (a lot) and crying (also a lot) until about three days ago, so I’m thinking Abby deserves a high five on transparency alone.

The fact that Mama Insider is also a very informative read (because there really isn’t a need to cry over the size of your unborn baby’s nose, people…there really isn’t) and gives new mama’s to be a chance to skip some of the honey-covered truths presented in a lot of books for the realities of, you know, real life motherhood (‘cuz doulas sometimes do go on vacation when you are 10 days overdue), makes me love it even more. Because who else besides my girl Abby is going really tell you what “Me Time” looks like after you have the kid? (Hint: That may include a babysitter and you getting a cleaning at the dentist.)

While those who may have closed the baby-factory may find themselves outside of the intended target audience for Mama Insider, it’s definitely on the must read list for those just getting started.

 

***

Abby is graciously offering one Aspiring Mama reader the chance to win a copy of Mama Insider (either for themselves or to gift to a new mom in their lives). To enter, simply do one (or more if you want extra entries) of the following:

* Leave a comment for Abby on this blog post.

* Tweet, Facebook, Google +, or include a link to this post on your own blog. Each counts for it’s own entry, so be sure to leave me one comment letting me know what you did so I can add up points!

* Comments will be accepted through midnight, EST, on Monday, January 23.

* One winner will be selected via Random.org and will be announced here on Aspiring Mama shortly thereafter.

***

And a big thank you to Abby for allowing me to share Mama Insider with Aspiring Mama readers.

 

Who am I to argue with Congress?

First, let's get a few things out in the open, shall we?

1) I do not bullshit.

2) But I am sarcastic.

3) And honest to a fault.

4) The upside is it makes for hilarious blog posts and funny stories to share in essays.

5) The downside is that I tend to piss people off easily.

6) I also ignore you if I don't like you. If I'm pointing at you and calling you a jackass, it means "I love you and please pass the pie." If I call you an asshole, I'm probably confusing you for my husband and actually using our code phrase for "I really, really love you."

Why do you need to know this? Because like any blogger worth their salt who fully discloses relationships with brands, I happen to be a writer with a blog who likes to think I'm totally worth my salt so I'm gonna be all Open and Honest and tell you Straight Up that I know Robin O'Bryant and I like (love, actually) her book. Which brings me to more clarification:

1) I know Robin like most of you know most of the people you actually like: I've never actually met her but I talk to her more often than most of the people I am related to and don't actually like. Unless you are related to me and reading this. Because I totally am not referring to you.

2) Her book is called Ketchup is a Vegetable: And Other Lies Moms Tell Themselves and you can get it in paperback or order the buy the Kindle version on Amazon.

3) If you don't think it's funny, I've got some Prozac I can hand you. Because this stuff is made of funny.

4) Like the time her daughter surprised her with a poop-filled handshake? Or the way that Robin can totally write Toddler-ese in a way unique to her that somehow jumps off the page and you can totally hear it in your head and it just sounds Adorable because she's just that good? Or the having to set your foot down and tell The Mother and The Husband that they cannot see you naked at the SAME TIME because that violates code 19, subsection B of the Time and Space Continuum? Yeah...been there.

5) I feel it's important here to point out that I don't have a lot of Mommy friends because I have this little issue with not wanting to waste precious time pretending I like people and things that really don't interest me.

6) That includes books.

7) And no offense to Robin, but I wouldn't be Pimpin' her out if I didn't love and laugh and relate my way through Ketchup just because I like her and her blog.

So what's the story?

1) Robin had 3 daughters in 4 years.

2) I know.....

3) And she lived to write the tale.

4) In Erma Bombeck-like essay format so it's relatively easy to hide in the bathroom with food poisoning as your cover story so you can chug through one chapter before confusing the hell out of your husband and kids as you exit the bathroom wiping tears from your eyes and laughing.

5) It doesn't matter if you only have boys. I dare you to read Ketchup anyway and promise to buy you a purple and pink pony if you aren't shocked grateful that your kids are your kids and her kids are hers by the time you finish reading.

6) So grab a glass of Mommy Juice, kick up your feet after the kids are in bed, see yourself (and your kids) in Robin's book, and when you're done, sneak into your kids' rooms and gently kiss them on the cheek, grateful in every way for the opportunity to be called Mama.

7) And the post title? That, of course, refers to the best ever PR campaign to sell a new book. I'm still beyond impressed Robin was able to convince Congress to go along with her plan.

***

Oh and Robin? Thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for the thank you.

Also? I expect to see y'all back here on Friday for my interview with Robin and a chance for a signed copy of Ketchup!

HOLLA!