Archive: Wife

A Friendly Sharktopus for Christmas

Thursday, January 6th, 2011

Shopping for presents for my wife, Denise, isn’t easy. She usually just says she doesn’t need anything, and leaves you to guess.  This year she unwittingly helped me out. In late September she was semi-randomly pushing buttons on the TiVo remote while I was getting ready for bed (as she often does) when she came across the description of Sharktopus (2010):

Genetically engineered, a monster that is half-shark and half-octopus goes on a killing spree.

“Why can’t it ever the good halves of things? Why can’t it have a big smile and wave to eight people at once?”, she asked. After thinking about it a bit more she, rather sadly, commented on how the outcome would probably be the same with people killing it out of fear when it tried to hug them.

The next morning I woke up and found I couldn’t shake the image of a happy, friendly sharktopus, smiling and waving.  My thoughts immediately went to Natalie Metzger. I though she might also find the idea humorous, and as we already have some of her art and photography hanging in the house I figured I’d see if she would be willing to take a commission based on the idea.

Natalie responded positively, and send along her (very reasonable) price sheet.  I looked it over, and my brain exploded.  There at the end of the list was “(~1ft.x1ft) stuffed animal”. Stuffed animal! How awesome would that be?

I asked if an 8×10″ and stuffed animal could be done in time for Christmas.  About a week later I received a sketch. It was better than I imagined. Perfect. Well,almost. It only had one tooth, which gave it an amazingly cute smile, but knowing Denise I was pretty sure she envisioned it having a very toothy shark grin.  I managed to bring it up again in conversation and confirm my suspicions without awakening hers. I let Natalie know and she quickly made the change.

Soon after this arrived via email:

The Friendly Sharktopus

The stuffed animal took a little longer, but when I saw the photos Natalie sent I knew Christmas couldn’t come soon enough. Luckily the box came on a day when I was working from home and alone in the house.  I opened it, took a quick peek at the awesomeness it contained, then packed it back up and hid it just as I heard the garage door opening.

I wrapped the print, and the stuffed animal separately and made sure Christmas morning that these two particular presents were the last left under the tree.  I gave Denise the print to open first, and she understood at once what it was (and even recognized the artist on the spot). I could see she was pleased.  When I handed her the big giant box she had a bit of a “how are you going to top that one, and what in the world is this giant thing?” look on her face.

Then she opened the box:

Denise and The Friendly Sharktopus

Family

Thursday, September 6th, 2007
This is part 2 of 3 in the series Hello 31

My family was accustomed to me working in the home. They never bothered me during the work day (my office is separate enough that we have an intercom). But they were quite accustomed to me having lunch with them daily (as was I with them). Also, before if I had to watch one or more of the children while someone had an appointment I could walk downstairs and quite often keep working while the kids played.

The biggest change was the addition of a new family member, which is always an adjustment. She’s doing great by the way. I never imagined having three daughters, but I wouldn’t trade them for anything. My wife is a great mother, and I try my hardest to be a good father. The kids are all damn smart, which can be tricky because you forget how old they are, and that while they can talk like adults they can’t understand things like adults.

My second daughter has changed dramatically. She started talking at six months old, but it really took off this time last year. She added about thirty new words in a month and never looked back. Soon she was referring to herself in third person, and after about two months she figured out how “I” works. By the time she turned two was speaking in full sentences. Now she talks better than I do sometimes. She’s generally very happy with an amazing sense of humor, although being two this is starting to change as she tries to find how far she can push things.

The roughest part was getting her to go to sleep in her own room. I spent many a night rocking her in a chair, singing to her in complete darkness. I actually got to the point where I could sing “Twinkle Twinkle” on autopilot, which let me listen to audiobooks at these times (hey, she didn’t care). Finally she got the hang of it, and has since moved into her older sisters room.

The oldest went to pre-school last year. She loved it and we were excited to see her doing so well on her own. She’s come a real long way in her swimming, and we even wrote a few stories together this year. I’ve started reading chapter books to her when I can. She really enjoys the Paddington books from the library (how did these go out of print?). Her drawing has really improved. The people she draws have distinguishing characteristics. At least half the time we can tell who the picture is of before she tells us.

She started school-school last week. I dropped her off for the first time this week. I found it quite stressful. My wife had gone to all the open-house type things while I watched the other kids. I didn’t quite understand how the drop-off line worked, and then the lady pulled the van door before I put the van in park. The automatic doors do not like this, and they pretty much stop after opening an inch. The van then proceeds to beep at you incessantly. You would think, since the thing can talk it would say, “Please put the vehicle in park and try to open the door again.” Nope. It just beeps away while you feel like an idiot in front of the Kindergarten teacher who is yelling something at you that you can’t make out over the beeping. Anyway, I’ll be dropping her off in my car from now on which doesn’t talk or have automatic doors, so that’s one thing off my mind.

My wife has had to deal with the brunt of these changes. She went from being home with two kids with a husband who was less than a minute away to having three kids with a husband off at work during the week. At times it seems to take it’s toll, but mostly she amazes me. I can’t imagine doing what she does and keeping my sanity. A lot of things have changed since we fell in love thirteen years ago, but not how we feel about each other.

Life on Hold

Wednesday, January 24th, 2007

I mentioned before that we were all not feeling very well. I’m mostly better, and so are the kids (Rachel a little more so, Vanessa a little less). Denise, on the other hand, is about the same, and it looks like she’ll stay that way for a while yet. So everything (including the writing) is on hold until things settle down. After having a crazy, exhausting week last week, this one is a lot closer to normal, but not quite there yet. I’m itching to get started on a number of things, but family comes first.

Sick

Monday, January 15th, 2007

All four of us have some sort of cold. Rachel is probably doing the best, which is unfortunate because she can run circles around us when we’re all feeling great, so now she has all this excess energy because no one will run around with her, and jumping about makes her cough. I’m trying to pretend I’m not sick to take care of everyone else, but it’s not always working.

My boss was nice enough to drop off my work computer at my house today, so at least I can get work done without infecting my whole office. I’m hoping to return to something a bit more normal any day now, but who can tell.

“You Can’t Win.”

Saturday, October 21st, 2006

One of the great life lessons my dad taught me was “You can’t win.” He taught me this every time he had a certain type of argument with my mother. Once it was over he would explain to me that he could not win these arguments, and that I would never win them either. I haven’t thought about this in a while, but just a moment ago, my wife came into my office to yell at me because when she came upstairs to go to bed she thought I might be hiding, ready to jump out and scare her. I wasn’t. I was checking my email before going to bed. Apparently she figured this out, and came to yell at me that it would have been horrible had I been planning on scaring her. In fact, she was scared that I might be doing something to scare her, even though I wasn’t. I asked for clarification that I was being yelled at for not scaring her. “No!”, she replied.

I’m so glad my dad prepared me for this. Thanks dad! Good night!

You Write Fantasy? Isn’t That a Lot of Work?

Thursday, October 5th, 2006

Holly Lisle posted the the introduction to Holly Lisle’s Create A Culture Clinic, the next volume in her Worldbuilding Course. Reading it really drove some things home for me. My wife often asks why I choose to write stories set in a fantasy world that I have to create, giving myself that much extra work to do (other people ask too, but she asks most often). There are two problems with that. Firstly, it’s not so much a choice so much as when I sit down to write, I write fantasy stories. I didn’t make a conscious decision to write fantasy stories. Secondly, I don’t think it is more work.

No one seems to believe me on either of those, but the second one seems to dwarf the first in peoples minds. How can I possibly believe such a thing? Because it’s true.

If I want to have a race of purple headed bird people in my world I have some work to do. How to they interact with other races? How are their lives different than humans? What’s their history? Do they speak their own language? Do they eat worms? That’s just the start, and perhaps these violet faced flying folk will only play a passing role in my story.

What’s that? I’m failing to prove my point? Be patient.

If I want to set a story in modern day Saginaw, Michigan, where I’ve never been, I still have quite a bit of work to do. What are the people like? What’s the economic and social structure? What local slang is in use, and by what age groups? What clothing lines are popular with high schoolers? What’s the ethnic makeup of the city? What color are the police cars? How many schools do they have? That too is just the start.

See, in the fantasy world, I make my own answers. Sure I have to make them work in a believable context, and I might make some stupid choices I have to later deal with in some way, but I can’t really be wrong. After all, I’m the world authority on those purple headed bird people. You might think people will be forgiving in the second scenario. It’s only fiction after all, right? Not that I’ve seen. Authors who take liberties with the world we live in get ripped apart. Maybe not all the time, but I’ve seen it happen about really stupid stuff.

So why not write about my hometown, or somewhere I know more about firsthand? I’ve always felt I had a lot of good reasons why I chose not to do that. But Holly’s introduction gave me another one by pointing out a big danger in writing about the world you live in. If you fail to capture the culture in the story, once the culture changes you’re story will no longer work. Yikes! It’s not that it can’t be done, and maybe I could do it, but it sounds like a lot of extra work.

1-Pass Day 22: (41004/97729)

Monday, September 18th, 2006
Type in
41004/97729

Took the kids to The Big E yesterday with my mom and Howie. We had a great time. Rachel really enjoyed the rides and both kids loved seeing all the animals. It was pretty late by the time we got back home. I managed to carry both kids to bed from the car without issue. Good thing, because I was ready to get some sleep.

After getting the kids off to bed tonight Denise and I watched the season finale of Life on Mars. It’s a great show and I really recommend it. The main character is a modern day police officer who is hit by a car and wakes up in 1973. He believes he’s in a coma and everyone else thinks he’s crazy when he tries to explain. Not your average cop drama. Very well done.

After that I headed up to the office to continue on with the revisions. I think I made pretty good progress.

1-Pass Day 15: (12485/99973)

Saturday, August 26th, 2006
Type in
12485/99973

Today didn’t go at all to plan. We had a pile of places to be today, but Rachel isn’t feeling herself, so we ended up staying home. On the plus side Denise was kind enough to give me time to work on the book (thank you!), so here I am posting an update. Some of the chapters look a bit shorter that I want them, but I’m going to finish the type in and think about what to do afterwards (if anything).

I’m Back

Tuesday, July 4th, 2006

I’ve spent almost all of my time since my last post getting ready for, traveling to and from, or participating in Jon and Nicole’s Wedding. Jon’s been one of my best friends for twenty years. I was honored to be asked to participate. The ceremony was amazing (if a bit hot), and the reception was a lot of fun. It was great to see some people I haven’t seen in some time (including Jon’s family), and meet some really fun new people. I even managed to give my toast without choking too badly. I wish Jon and Nicole the very best, and hope they’re having a great time on their honeymoon.

The drive there took forever, but coming back things at least kept moving. Denise and I listened to the amazing unabridged reading of Ender’s Game (I’d heard it before, but it’s great to be able to enjoy a good book with your wife). The full-cast unabridged readings of the Enderverse books are some of the greatest audiobook productions I’ve ever experienced. I can’t recommend them highly enough (available for download from audible.com as well).

I need to thank my Dad for spoiling… er… taking care of the kids while we were gone. I also need to thank Edna and my grandparents for helping him survive the experience.

Now it’s time to clean the desk off (it got a bit cluttered during the search for the GPS serial cable), and get back to work on the book.

Reboot Follow-Up

Monday, June 12th, 2006

Denise took the children out shopping after dinner, so I was able to spend some time on the desk before heading out to training for the night. It’s not perfect, but it’s good enough to use now.

Supplies: Desk (clean version)

As usual, I’m pretty busy, but my goal is to have the revision done by the end of July.