Archive for June 13th, 2006

My Children: Test Audience

June 13, 2006 @ 8:09 pm | Filed under:

One of the best things—maybe THE best—about writing children’s books for a living is getting to try out your stories on your own children first. When they get caught up in the tale you’re reading and forget that you’re their mom and you wrote this, when you get to the end of a chapter and they beg for just one more and you laugh and say there ISN’T any more, I haven’t written it yet and they wring their hands and implore you to just TELL the next bit, oh pleeeease, you have to!—that’s when you know you have the very best job (or combination of jobs) in the whole world.

(As opposed to, say, when you’re writing out giant checks to various medical practitioners because as freelancers you and your husband no longer enjoy the cushy benefits you did when on staff at giant publishing conglomerations.)

Lately I’ve been wondering how many other children’s book authors out there are revelling in the same delicious experience. I can think of one. Like mine, I believe that particular author’s flesh-and-blood critics are brutally frank, which is of course the most useful kind of critic you can have. That’s why children make the best test audience; if they fidget or go “huh?” you know you’ve got some polishing to do. But when you get it right, oh, there is nothing, nothing better than the sight of their heads thrown back in laughter, the sound of their belly laughs in all the right places.

Ear Molds and Monster Update

June 13, 2006 @ 11:07 am | Filed under: ,

This week’s Carnival of Homeschooling is up and About. I haven’t had a chance to explore yet because we are distracted here by a lot of things having to do with ears. Today is New Ear Mold day. (“Ear mold” being almost as icky a phrase as yesterday’s winner, “muscular warts.”) But we loooove ear molds here. Ear molds are the little custom-made pieces of plasticky stuff that connect to Wonderboy’s hearing aids. The molds must fit snugly in the ear, so you need new ones every six months or so. For the rest of your life. Because ears are the only body part (except maybe noses?) that never stop growing. Never, no matter how old you are. That is why elderly gentlemen have such large earlobes.

This means a lifetime of ear-mold-making is in store for my boy. Fortunately, the hearing aids themselves last a good long while. Five years, we hope, because they cost more than the computer I’m writing on. More than two of these computers, in fact. The aids go behind your ear and a little tube snakes over the ear into the ear mold, thus piping sound directly into your ear canal. I ♥ modern technology.

Cool fact about ear molds: they come in different colors. Any color you want! Well, almost. If you want your basic rainbow shades, at least, or a flesh tone. Last time we went for the glow-in-the-dark version. In the light, they’re just a nondescript clear color, so you forget all about their glowing properties until you walk into a dark room with the child and suddenly there are little luminous blobs floating in the air. This makes for great fun at bedtime: holding the aid-wearing toddler, sneak into your other children’s bedroom after lights-out and listen to them yelp at the sight of ectoplasm bobbing across the room several feet. Heh.

This time Scott is the one who got to take the boy for the mold-making. They are there right now. I don’t know what color he’ll choose.* This is somewhat nervewracking. What if he goes for the yellow and it winds up looking like ear wax?

But you’re waiting for the Flesh-Eating Monster update. Well, um, I can’t find him. I assume he is lounging inside the blackened husk of poor Homer’s body, now that he has eaten it hollow. Ohhh, I am hostile toward this thing. I snipped loose the silken threads that held Homer to his twig and moved (shrieking the whole time) him (presumably them, though the Monster was nowhere to be seen, the sneaky bugger) into another container. I can just picture the Creature leaning back in his tragically deceased lair, rubbing his creepy black feet together with glee. Mine, mine, aaalll mine! A rent-free studio apartment with edible walls and a jungle view! Our guess is that he has hidden himself away to do his own pupating thing. We’ve decided (I lost the vote) to keep him around until he transforms, so that we can make a real identification. “Foul Murdering Beast” strikes Jane as unscientific. I also suggested “Grendel” but the children feel that is incompatible with the non-Danish names of the caterpillars. Humph. Hydra, then? Because I just bet if we did cut off his head, he’d sprout a bunch more.

In any case: Herodotus, you are safe! We hope! We cannot guarantee anything because we have not actually seen the Monster since I got that picture of him yesterday. So keep watching your back, little friend. If you see him coming, I recommend a left muscular wart right to the kisser.

*UPDATE: Scott went for what he thought where the glow-in-the-dark ear molds again. But it turns out they’re just clear, no luminous properties. We think. They’ll arrive in two weeks so we’ll know for sure then. Ah well!

Next caterpillar update is here.