April 6, 2014

We're Still Alive! And I've even brushed my hair!

Don't worry! We haven't been eaten by crocodiles or kidnapped by a band of merry-making pirates. Nope, I've been here all along but with a cute-but-demanding newborn who insists on being held all the time. Mama, hold me! Never put me down! In short, she is the boss of me.

But who can say no to this?

Quick update on the Bean and me:

* She has already outgrown her newborn onesies and diapers! This makes me sob a little inside.
* She has colic at night! Ah, joy of joys. I need some ear plugs.
* I've found part-time help! True, joy of joys! I shall use this precious time to do important things like mail bills, feed myself, and wash my hair.
* This week I also plan on starting a MG project! I'm rather excited about getting back into the writing seat!

Speaking of books, I don't think I ever revealed my cover on this ye olde blog! My novel now has a new title, and it's up on Amazon too! Holy moly, I can't believe that it'll be out in six months!

Well, there you have it! My human baby and my book baby all in one post! And now if you'll excuse me I need to stuff my face with a bowl of Cranberry Almond Crunch before the Little Slavemaster starts calling for me again.

How have you been? Tell me what I've missed!

March 1, 2014

Introducing Aimee Rose!

Pardon my absence! I have been busy with a certain 8 lb. bundle of cuteness...

Yes, indeed, Le Bebe is finally here! She was one week overdue before I was induced, and she came roaring into this world on February 11th at 7.76 pounds! Funnily enough, my OB was worried a couple months ago that she would be too small. Nope! 

So here she is, Aimee Rose Richmond--milk drunkard, thumb sucker, diaper wetter champion, and all around serving of awesomeness. She's named after my sister-in-law Aimee, but we've been calling her all sorts of nicknames like Miss Bean, Baby Sloth, and Benjamin Button. 'Cause sometimes she looks like an old man. Just sayin'! 

{I love those eyes! They're usually closed though.}
The last two and a half weeks have been exhilarating and emotional and exhausting. There have been a few lows (Will I ever be able to shower again?!) but mainly highs--and the highs have been so very sweet. There are times when I am so overwhelmed by love for this little girl and with gratitude for her papa Justin (who has diaper-changing down to a science!). 

Of course, I still have those moments where I'm like, "Whoa, I'm a mom? Egads!" And then I look at my little Bean and I think: I am a mom. I'm her mom. And because of that, I am so very lucky. 

{She doesn't like having her arms swaddled so I've had to make do.}
{Otto has been a great older canine brother!}
{At the hospital, right after she was born. So sweet!}

February 7, 2014

Surviving Pregnancy!

Pregnancy Survival Kit

Alas, my due date has come and gone with no sign of the baby! I believe Le Bebe may have inherited my proclivity for procrastination. And I had such high hopes that she would be a punctual little thing! 

I have a feeling she will have many surprises for me. :) 

Well, now that my pregnancy will (hopefully) soon be over, I thought I'd brush off my Polyvore account to bring all of you future mamas out there ... Caroline's Pregnancy Survival Kit! Basically, my pregnancy would've been much more grumpy-making without these items, and I've pretty much clung to them for the last eight-ish months. And I'll probably keep clinging to them long after Le Bebe is born because I am, if nothing else, a creature of habit. 

1. A Pregnancy Pillow
ZOMG, life changer! Late into my second trimester, it got a lot harder for me to fall asleep with my ever-increasing belly. Thanks, baby. Fortunately, my saint of a husband bought me a pregnancy pillow that I now can't sleep without. It's like the embodiment of a hug, in pillow form. It is the perfect cuddle buddy. In short, I want to be buried with it. I own the Snoogle (haha! so fun to say!) but there are a lot of options out there. Wonderful, blessed, heavenly options. 

2. Gap Maternity Leggings
My best friend told me to buy a pair of these, and once I put them on I realized why she is indeed my best friend. Gap Maternity Leggings = The Best. Basically, you will never take them off, especially when you reach the third trimester and your fashion sense gets thrown to the curb in favor of All Things Comfortable. I'm not ashamed to admit that I've lived in my leggings for the last three months—I wear them out, I wear them to bed, I shower in them ... No wait. Not that last part. But aside from showering, it's a sure bet that I have these on! 

3. Statement Jewelry
Okay, okay, this isn't a survival necessity but it sure is pretty! And when you're waddling around like a bull walrus, it's nice to feel pretty again. Anyway, as mentioned above, I reached a point in my pregnancy where I just wore leggings + long comfy sweaters all day (because, hello awesomeness!). But when I needed to venture out of the house, I wanted to feel a wee less polar bear-ish so I'd throw on a statement necklace to remind myself that yes, I am a girl, and yes, I used to care about what I looked like. Be sure to check out J. Crew Factory for pretty yet affordable pieces! 

4. Almond Oil
I'm not really sure if there is any surefire way to fend off stretch marks (I think it's more of a genetics thing and how-big-does-your-belly-get thing) but I slathered on a handful of almond oil before bed each night anyway. I'm mostly stretch-mark free, and my tummy is very soft! I use the NOW brand, and it has lasted for months. 

5. Super Comfy Shoes (or Socks!)
Mmm, comfy-ness. Enough said. 

6. Nursing Tanks
Maternity clothing is expensive, yo. So whenever possible, try to stretch out your dollar by opting for nursing clothes—they're roomy, stretchy, and pull double duty! There is a great variety at Destination Maternity and less so at Target (Target tends to be more affordable but be sure to try on the tanks! Some of them have weird sizing). 

There you have it! Go forth and enjoy your future pregnancy! 

So what are your plans for the weekend? Watching the Olympics? As for me, I plan on going sky-diving, riding on roller coasters, eating questionable sushi ... you know, usual pregnancy stuff. Haha, not really. I'll just be twiddling my thumbs, inhaling chocolate, and waiting for this darn baby to arrive. 

January 31, 2014

The Baby's Room, Part II!

Well, folks, we are now five days away from Le Bebe's due date! We shall see if she decides to make an early entrance into this great big world or if she decides to procrastinate, as her mama would do. (Incidentally, I was born two weeks early! That's the extent of my promptness, alas.) Every day is sort of like a game now—baby or no baby? Hospital trip or no hospital trip? 

Le Bebe, it would be nice if you gave your parents a heads-up! 

A few of my friends have asked me if I'm feeling ready. Truthfully? Yes and no! Yes, I can't wait to meet her. No, I'm not terribly excited about the whole labor thing. *La la la, let's not talk about it!* And a small slice of me is still freaking out about the prospect of becoming a parent. Me! A mom! Holy goodness! What if I mess her up somehow with my neuroses and quirks and penchant for eating cookies for breakfast?!

But that's just me. I freak out whenever a Big Change comes into my life. When I arrived in Utah for my freshman year in college, I remember staring out of the rental car window and thinking, I'm an idiot. I made a huge mistake. Must. Transfer. Immediately! Then literally two days later, I was skipping and smiling across campus, so excited about college and my new friends and FREEDOM! 

Anyway, I really can't wait to meet our little one, and I'm just putting some final touches on her room! Ugh, we still have to assemble the crib but we don't have enough screws since ours is a hand-me-down. It's a good thing that babies don't really sleep in cribs until they're a few months older! 

{I scored this polka-dot chambray onesie at GapKids for $8!}
{Here's a peek at my wall decor. Gold polka dot decals and my poor attempt at a Mark Rothko!}
{I installed a picture ledge above the baby's dresser. Books and more books!}

{This is a photo of my grandma, my mom, and me as a baby. Le Bebe will be the 4th generation!}

There you have it! Now the room just needs, you know, a baby. :)

Anyway, what your plans for this weekend? I'm hoping to attend a book signing, meeting an old college roommate for dinner, and the Super Bowl, of course! What are you guys up to? 

January 24, 2014

Friday Five

{Delicious drinks from my recent baby shower!}

... One ...
Le Bebe is now due in twelve days! Twelve! I had a little bit of a freak out yesterday, feeling overwhelmed at the prospect of being a mom, but today I'm just excited to meet my little girl. I look forward to those long sleepless nights with you, my child!

... Two ...
For the last couple months, my to-do list has been rather burly between holiday stuff, pre-baby stuff, and writing-like-a-maniac stuff (final revisions, copyedits, first pass pages, option book proposal, oh my!). But today is the first day where I glanced at my to-do list and realized... I got a lot of crap done! The nursery is almost ready; I sent off my proposal to Agent Jim last night. And now, I have no idea what to do myself. Should I (GASP!) read a book?!

... Three ...
Speaking of books, do you have any recommendations for me? I plan on filling my Kindle with ebooks so I have something to read while I bounce a newborn in one arm. In particular, I'd love to add some funny books! Fiction, memoir, I'm totally open. Like Tina Fey's Bossypants or the new memoir from the Hyperbole and a Half blogger.

... Four ...
In utterly random news, I've been listening to a lot of country music lately. Blame it on Justin and his rural Indiana roots, I suppose. Right now, I'm loving "This Is How We Roll" by Florida Georgia Line. I'll admit it—I crank this baby up whenever it comes on the radio. :)

... Five ...
Last Saturday, my good friend Courtney hosted the very awesomest baby shower for me! Seriously, Courtney should be an event planner with her exquisite taste, superb craftiness, and all around amazing-ness. I felt so lucky and pampered! Thank you, CJ!

{Courtney ordered me a Nutella cake! It was divine.}

{Courtney asked everyone to bring the baby a picture book! So clever, right?}

{The shower was held at the Belle Haven Country Club in Alexandria, VA. It was lovely!} 
{Did I mention that Courtney is pregnant too? She's due in April with her third!}

January 17, 2014

A Peek at the Baby's Room!

{Paper poms! So girly and fun.}

We are down to 2.5 weeks until Le Bebe makes her world debut! Of course, she could come much sooner than that (or later) so I've spent the last few weeks bustling around like a neurotic crazy person, trying to cross off as many things on my mega to-do list as I can. Including prepping the nursery.

I'm almost finished. There are still a few details I need to tackle, like putting up a few picture ledges to display Le Bebe's books and assembling the crib (Justin's job) but overall I'm quite happy with how it's all coming together! Hopefully it'll be done by this weekend and I can focus on wrapping up my first pass pages and my proposal. Egads! I need a time turner, stat! 

{The baby's dresser includes an owl candle and a photograph of my sister-in-law Aimee.}
{Otto has watched me put the whole room together. He's good company.}
{An old nightstand I painted white and spruced up!}

Once the nursery is finished, I'll put up more pictures, especially of the accent wall I covered in gold polka dots! That's my pride and joy. *Hugs polka dots*

So what are your plans for the weekend? I need to finish my proposal, complete my first pass pages, and stuff myself silly at the baby shower my friend is throwing me tomorrow! She bought a Nutella cake from a local bakery to serve for dessert, and I am ridiculously and freakishly excited about it. I'll take pictures!

January 3, 2014

My Goals for 2014

In true procrastinator fashion, I'm only now posting about my resolutions for 2014. How about some cookies to make up for my lateness? Peanut butter or oatmeal chocolate chip? :)

So...2014! Holy goodness, I can't believe it's already here. I look toward this shiny new year with both wide-eyed excitement and nail-biting trepidation. The baby is due in four weeks! My book will be out this fall! Justin and I want to build a house—and we may collapse from sleep deprivation!

Hmm. Maybe I should scrap all of my goals and focus instead on getting enough Zzz's. That is a worthy resolution in it of itself, methinks!

Anyway, I'm usually horrendous about setting goals and then working toward said goals, but maybe 2014 will be my chance to turn over a new leaf. If anything, I've tried to choose resolutions that are within my control and more ethereal in nature in that they're not things I can tick off a checklist (ie, exercise everyday, drink a green smoothie in the morning, etc.) but more like general life philosophies. Am I making sense at all? Has my baby usurped all control of my brain? Well, we better get to my goals before she overtakes more of my mind matter!

Goal #1
Be gentle with myself. 

2014 will be a year of great changes for me, namely becoming a mom and reconfiguring my life to this new role. I know that I will inevitably cry and wail and whine when the going gets tough but within these moments I want to be gentle with myself. More patient. More forgiving of my mistakes. And I don't want my guilt complex to grow out of control—because I know I'll be hard on myself for not writing everyday or for consuming mass quantities of pastries and Coke. You know what? It'll be okay if I get behind on things because HELLO NEWBORN! Plus, pastries and Coke are perfectly wonderful ways of coping.

Goal #2
Have radical self-respect. 

'Radical Self-Respect' is a slogan that is frequently mentioned on a feminist Facebook group that I'm a part of. Basically, it means standing up for yourself and your beliefs instead of staying silent and regretting it later—something that I've struggled with my entire life. Case in point: I have a really hard time saying no to things. More often than not, I say yes to stuff even though I don't really have the time, the bandwidth, or on rare occasion the interest in what I'm agreeing to. And then I feel overloaded and guilty and I drown myself in cookies (see Goal #3). So enough of that! In 2014, I aim to listen more to my gut instead of saying and doing things because I want so badly to be liked. Will this be hard? Yes! But will it make my life more sane? Yes to that too!

Goal #3
Eat fewer cookies.

I'll be honest: I've eaten my weight in cookies since getting pregnant. I swear this baby will come out screaming for thin mints and do-si-dos. And so, I must resist the siren call of the cookie. I banish you, Chocolate Chip! I banish you too, Delicious Brownie, close cousin of the evil cookie! Don't give me those sad eyes of yours!

(I seriously doubt I'll be able to reach this last goal. Alas.) 

And there you have it. Three goals for the new year. I'm rather intrigued to see how well I do with them... Anyway, what are some of your resolutions for 2014? Do share, please!

December 28, 2013

The Writing Lessons I Learned in 2013, Part I

2013! We hardly knew you!

In the next few days, I thought I'd chronicle a few of the lessons I learned over the course of good ol' 2013. Initially I had intended to write only one blog post but you know how longwinded I can get. Ramble, ramble.

So behold! Part I of my lessons learned this year!

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Can I tell you a secret? 

Earlier this year, I was lost in the Pit of Despair. I had spent six years working toward my dream of getting published but that dream only seemed to taunt me, always slipping out of my fingertips. In February, I hit my lowest of lows when I attended a signing at a local indie bookstore. I went to the event to support a writer whom I had met at a conference in the summer of '09. She was so sweet and supportive and so very deserving of her success, but I couldn't stop comparing her rocketing career to my own struggling one. 

She was on a book tour, promoting her highly anticipated debut.
She had multiple books contracted with her awesome Big Five publisher.
Her dream had really come true, hadn't it?

I went home that night with my heart sinking. I was elated for my friend—I really can't say enough about how kind she is!—but I felt exhausted by the publishing process and the seemingly endless rejection. As I lay in bed, I decided it might be best for me to take a step back from my writing endeavors. I would channel my creative energy into photography and graphic design (I even created a website for a potential blog design venture) until I felt that spark for writing again.

Much to my shock though, a few weeks later, Agent Jim called me with the news that Scholastic had made an offer on my book! I honestly couldn't believe it. I sort of stood there, cell phone in hand, completely surprised and speechless. Completely frozen.

{The northern Californian coast, taken in June 2013. The same day I found out I was pregnant!}

So yes! My writing journey definitely surprised me this year, especially because I had hit so many road bumps in 2011 and 2012. After running the gamut of disappointment and dejection—so fun!—it felt incredibly humbling to have this book deal land into my lap. It was like I had been chasing a rainbow until my legs couldn't move anymore and then...BOOM!...I finally get to that pot of gold.

To be honest, I still can't quite believe it.

That's the funny thing about this business, I think. Most of the time, we're just trying to stay afloat in these murky writing waters—with our word counts, with our deadlines, with the inevitable frustration and loneliness. But then once in awhile, the clouds part and the Publishing Gods smile upon you, usually at the most unsuspecting times. 

Those are the times we live for. That make everything worth it.

At least that's what my experience has been like. For instance, back in 2010, I had been querying for nearly a year and almost ready to give up on my little middle grade novel. I told myself that I'd finish contacting the list of agents I had compiled and move on. But then, you know what? Boom! An agent offer came my way and then two more. That's the book that nabbed me Agent Jim and while it didn't end up selling (weeping all of the silent tears), I still remember how shocked I was when I got that first call. Hadn't I planned on giving up only a couple weeks before?

Yep, it was definitely a huge surprise. A great surprise! But the 'surprises' after landing an agent weren't as happy-making: shelving that MG book, re-writing a new manuscript, and facing another heap of editorial rejection when I was so sure that success was around the corner. Writing can be so hard! But that's another lesson, I suppose....

Looking ahead to the new year, I'm sure my writing journey holds more surprises for me, some good and some bad and some simply unexpected. This is something that I've had to adjust to because I'm the sort of person who likes to lay out five-year plans and who balks at any sort of change (what do you mean I can't buy my favorite Skittles anymore?!). But being an author has forced me to sit back and loosen my grip on the reins. Because the only things I can control in this business are writing books and revising said books. The rest? It's kind of a big surprise.

Still, I'm hoping that another good surprise lies ahead of me in 2014. I'll hope for it anyway.

But if that isn't in the cards for me, who needs a new blog redesign?!