Thursday, November 20

Fandom hostess

A year ago today, I started a fan blog for a made-for-cable miniseries that aired five years ago. (SUPER EXCITING, no?)

Why did I do this? Because I had some fandom friends who said they might watch it and what if I wanted to have one place to point them for fic recs and deleted scenes and script extras and whatnot?

I was exchanging headcanons with a gal on Tumblr and told her I was thinking of starting an Alice blog and she was all “you so should.” (Fangirls are total enablers in case you didn’t know.)

I’d spent so much time reading fics that I had collected the urls to dozens of them in a single file. I had scoured Google searches for imagery to use in graphics, and I kept the links to interviews and the like. I had a YouTube playlist of my favorite vids. It was pretty easy to dump all that in a queue.

I am an Organized Nerd.

I value community, too. I love being a Fandom Hostess. Like “have you seen this?” or “have you two met?” I enjoy collecting posts where people have a burst of love for this show, like I had after first watching it.

And I owe this miniseries a debt.

Kris and I decided to adopt a second time in the spring of 2011. The waiting process for an international adoption can be an emotionally fraught time for parents. It was for me. And as the wait wore on, I ended up with a mild case of depression.

We were trying to adopt a specific child and we couldn’t get a straight answer and it was MAKING ME CRAZY. In September 2012, I managed to upset a Chinese orphanage (yes, behold the power of persistent moms) and knew I had to go Hands Off on trying to get information.

Another small thing happened that month: Netflix suggested a miniseries called Alice. Because I like “shows that feature a strong female lead” and reimagined fairy tales. (And yeah, appropriate use of guyliner.)

The energy I could no longer funnel into the adoption I turned toward fandom. I started reading fan fiction again. I started making fan graphics again. I started making fanmixes. I figured out Tumblr. I made online buddies again.

I lost part of my sanity, sure, but I regained something of my Self that had been lost. (Maybe not lost. Shelved. Dormant.)

A week after I started the Alice blog, we got our daughter’s file. (A different child than the one we had been waiting on, but this is a different story). A huge weight lifted. I could focus on other things. Had to.

This miniseries brought me so much joy at a time when I needed it. My fondness for it extends far past the show itself. I’m not sure how long I will run the blog. (I worried I’d run out of stuff to post, but that hasn’t been a problem yet. Fandom ingenuity.)

The queue is set until December and three times as much stuff in drafts. This hostess isn't done yet.

Wednesday, November 19

There is no Thanksgiving

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Thanksgiving is no more. Halloween ends and Christmas begins. I used to fight this. The Borg have it right; resistance is futile.

The bank sent out the design-a-Christmas card entries. This is Ben's: "Santa giving the Devl under pants and a letter."

Zoe drew a reindeer:

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Carol gave the kids some ornaments to paint. And they happened to be in their Christmas PJs.

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I'm not putting their holiday shirts in the laundry rotation until after next Thursday, though. I HAVE STANDARDS.

Well, unless this snowman shirt counts as a Xmas one. What? IT WAS REALLY COLD yesterday and this was the only shirt that matched Ani's sweatpants.

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That's pizza smeared on her shirt. Cause she eats now. SHE EATS.

Thursday, November 13

Nothing that matters is easy

Kris and I have watched a couple episodes of Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries on Netflix — Australian flapper detective, what's NOT to love? But this exchange from "Murder on the Ballarat Train" has me thinking of adoption:

Jack: I've had a word to Welfare. They've agreed to let you foster Jane.
Phryne: Good. But you're not convinced.
Jack: You do know it's not easy, looking after a kid who's been through the ringer.
Phyrne: Nothing that matters is easy.

I mean, I often have adoption on the brain, right? Rainbow had tweeted a link to this piece about race and adoption on The Toast, commenting that "the adoption story is almost always framed around the parents' narrative."



And it IS. It's supposed to be a triad: adoptees/first-birthparents/adoptive parents. But again and again, the focus is on the adoptive parents. The conversation is geared by and steered toward us.

Watching Miss Fisher, I saw it again. That the inspector is looking out for her: "this thing you have decided to do will not be easy." Of course it won't! But it needs to be DONE. Children need to be in families. Permanent ones if at all possible.

So I liked her comeback. That things that MATTER are not EASY.

Adoption isn't easy. It's difficult-difficult-lemon-difficult. But it matters. So much it matters.

What our children experienced in institutional care is something that I think many of us try not to think about. It is just too painful to think that the children we love so deeply and completely were ever left wet or hungry or alone. But if I was struggling to care for just two babies in the way that a mom wishes she could, how is it possible for any nanny to fully meet the needs of ten? Yes, you can feed a child and change a child’s diaper – but the reality is that babies NEED a dedicated parent. They need someone to hold them when they’re sick and soothe them when they’re scared, or else it becomes very hard for their hearts to fully trust.

Today I am giving thanks to everyone who has opened their hearts to the orphaned and abandoned. Someday maybe everyone will understand that when children suffer, the whole world ultimately suffers as well. Until that day we must continue to try our very best to make sure every child possible knows their needs matter. We must work together to ensure that every child has at least one dedicated person in their lives allowing them to know love. While that seems like such an overwhelming goal at times, every baby we can impact is one more child who has a real chance at an emotionally healthy future. While it is easy to pretend that living in an orphanage doesn’t influence a child’s long term well-being, the reality is that far too many cries are still sadly going unanswered. There is still so much work to do, and I am so grateful to everyone who is partnering with us to make a difference.

Amy Eldridge

Wednesday, November 12

Everyone likes Lorde

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Ani likes Bastille, the Arctic Monkeys and now Lorde.

Sophie had the musical taste of a fifty-year-old woman. ... But that was embarrassing. What did normal people like? ... Lorde. Didn’t everyone like Lorde?

— "What the Hell Have You Done, Sophie Roth?" by Gayle Forman (x)

Our little music hound.

Tuesday, November 11

My True Love Gave To Me fanmix



Listen at 8tracks

I have a friend who is waiting until December to read My True Love Gave To Me. It came out in October; I paced myself a little and made it last into November, but that was it.

I do have rules about Christmas music, though: let Thanksgiving pass first! But just as I couldn’t wait to crack the book open and start reading, neither could I wait once I decided to make a fanmix of holiday music for it. And since I already made it, I’m gonna go ahead and post it.

SPOILERS FOR THE STORIES IN MY TRUE LOVE GAVE TO ME!

1: “Twinkling Lights” by Office Romance for Kelly Link’s “The Lady and the Fox”

Here comes the snow, the best time of the year

Because Fenny is only allowed to show up when it’s snowing.

2: “Zat U Santa Claus?” by Meaghan Smith for David Levithan’s “Your Temporary Santa”

Are you bringin' a present for me
Something pleasantly pleasant for me
That's what I've been waitin' for
Would you mind slippin' it under the door


Sum up your story in My True Love Gave To Me in a tweet (140 characters).
What’s a Jewish boy to do when his boyfriend asks him (for a good reason) to be Santa?

David Levithan "Winterview"

3: "More Than I Wished For" by Schuyler Fisk for Jenny Han's "Polaris Is Where You'll Find Me"

Alright, so, this song is actually a placeholder. Because the one I wanted to use didn't fit with the rest of the mix, and this is a happy little Christmassey love song (so maybe it's more for the book itself). Because, this story, you guys.

AAAAAGGGGGHHHHH, this story. Let me sum up for you: Santa has an adopted Korean daughter. The only human girl living at the North Pole. And she's crushing on an elf. As you do.

And maybe it's all kinds of wrong to use a song that's supposed to be about Mary and the birth of Jesus to represent an elf who is OBVIOUSLY IN LOVE with Santa's daughter, but y'know, I'm going for a vibe here. This song has longing. For the whole story, we know that Natty longs for Flynn, but we don't know for sure how he feels about her until the last page. AND THEN IT ENDS. ABRUPTLY. WITH NO CLOSURE.



But I'm an optimist, so I forecast a good outcome (eventually) for them. (Flynn, the elf, is concerned because Natty has grown up at the North Pole but she will need to leave eventually and he fears that she will leave and stop believing. And yeah, Natty, you do need to at least visit some human cities. But dude, if the girl knows her own heart, SHE KNOWS IT.) So I'm taking where he says this to her to mean a good end:

"How is it that you always find a way to get what you want?"

Jeez, Elf Feels. I didn't sign on for this.

4: “Cold December Night” by Michael BublĂ© for Myra McEntire's "Beer Buckets and Baby Jesus"

They call it the season of giving
I'm here, I'm yours for the taking


Mutual pining between the town scamp and the pastor's daughter.

5: "Evergreen" by Switchfoot for Stephanie Perkin's "It's a Yuletide Miracle, Charlie Brown"

I want to be evergreen,
I want to live all year round


Because North works at a Christmas tree lot and both he and Marigold have put their dreams on hold to support their parents.

6: "Cinnamon & Chocolate" by Butterfly Boucher for Holly Black's "Krampuslauf"

In the still before the dawn
There’s the whipser, there’s a song
When the morning comes
And night has gone, there’s joy
There is joy


Sum up your story in My True Love Gave To Me in a tweet (140 characters).
​Krampuslauf shenanigans lead to a New Year's party w/ a fateful turn for heroes & villains alike, along w/ the possibility of love.

Holly Black "Winterview"

Joachim stays for the New Year's party and our protagonist has a rekindled hope in magic and life's possibilities.

7: "Carol of the Bells" by Fleming & John for Laini Taylor's "The Girl Who Woke the Dreamer"

Okay, more thematic for a story that takes place during Advent would have been this:



But I adore the F&J version of Carol of the Bells and I think it's ethereal enough for this tale. And how it builds to a powerful end? Appropriate.

Sum up your story in My True Love Gave To Me in a tweet (140 characters).
When an orphan is courted by a sinister preacher who's already buried 3 wives, she calls on the old gods for protection, and is answered.

Laini Taylor "Winterview"

8: "The Christmas Song" by The Raveonettes (Kiersten White)

All the lights are coming on now
How I wish that it would snow now
I don't feel like going home now
I wish that I could stay


...from up here, it doesn't look like a throwaway freeway exit. It looks like a warm, happy community. It looks like, well, Christmas.

Bonus points to this story for having a character named Ben (which is not short for Benjamin).

Sum up your story in My True Love Gave To Me in a tweet (140 characters).
Maria wants to get out of Christmas, her dead-end desert town. Can a cute new diner cook convince her home is where the really good food is?

Kiersten White "Winterview"

9: "Please Be Patient" by Feist for Gayle Forman's "What the Hell Have You Done, Sophie Roth?"

Sophie finally realized that sarcasm was like a separate dialect, one not universally understood.

Russell speaks sarcasm, though. I think these two would appreciate this song.

10: "Christmas In The Room" by Sufjan Stevens for Matt

No travel bags, no shopping malls
No candy canes, no Santa Claus
For as the day of rest draws near
It's just the two of us this year


Sweet but kinda sad: as are Shy (first Christmas without his mom) and Haley (in the midst of a breakup).

11: "O Holy Night" by Steffany Frizzell for Ally Carter's "Star of Bethlehem"

This song was the obvious choice for this story, but which version? I was delighted to find this one by Steffany Frizzell (Gretzinger):



I sang because not singing would never bring them back but singing might make us all remember. I sang because that is what I do when I am happy and when I'm sad. I sang because it is who I am when I am being the best possible version of me.

12: "My Dear Acquaintance" by Regina Spektor for Rainbow Rowell's "Midnights"

My dear acquaintance, it's so good to know you
For strength of your hand
That is loving and giving
And a happy new year
With love overflowing
With joy in our hearts
For the blessed new year


Sum up your story in My True Love Gave To Me in a tweet (140 characters).
Maggie and Noel meet over possible allergens, then celebrate several new years before figuring out what sort of best friends they are.

Rainbow Rowell "Winterview"

I would have read Rainbow's story first no matter where it was in the book, but it ends the mix because it's a New Year's song and there are RULES, people. (Also, live tracks at the end, yo.)

Monday, November 10

Wee fevers

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Cash developed one of his fevers yesterday, so he ended up running errands with us while his siblings hung out with Kris' parents. He wanted to go to Asahi for dinner, but we'd gone there Friday. We gave him the option: Asahi or Waffle House? He went with Waffle House.

He was a good little helper while Kris changed a blown headlight on the van. And he's done well running Monday errands with Kris.

But now... Ani has a fever, too. :(

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Thursday, November 6

Eater

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Let me tell you about a good recipe: Penne with Sausage, Eggplant, and Feta

4 1/2 cups cubed peeled eggplant
1/2 pound bulk pork breakfast sausage
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes, undrained
6 cups hot cooked penne (about 10 ounces uncooked tube-shaped pasta)
1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese

Cook eggplant, sausage, and garlic in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat 5 minutes or until sausage is browned and eggplant is tender. Add tomato paste and the next 3 ingredients (through tomatoes); cook over medium heat 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Place pasta in a large bowl. Add tomato mixture, cheese, and parsley; toss well.

We really like this dish. Nice as leftovers. Freezes well.

Oh, and Ani totally ate some for dinner the other night.

She is doing SO WELL with eating. She likes to sit at the green table (thinks she's a Big Kid now, I guess). I will tear a slice of bread into pieces for her, and she eats it with her fingers. Or maybe a little stack of chocolate Cheerios.

When it's dinner time, we put her in the high chair and break the food into bits for her. She ate a whole piece of fish like this last night.

Many foods, I think she's still opposed to the texture. She wouldn't pick up the pasta with her fingers, for instance. But I mashed it up with my fork and she ate Penne with Sausage, Eggplant and Feta. !!!

In the mornings, we make her a small bowl of oatmeal and she eats most of it (from a spoon, while sitting in Kris' lap). Hallelujah!

Before we can cut bottles out, though, we need to teach her to drink from a cup of some kind. Formula is how she still gets all her fluids. But hey! LOOK WHO EATS!!!