Santa gifts

24 Dec

Carolina shows you magic

Lilly at the recital This was a really big week for us. Carolina turned one, Lilly had her first dance recital and then, oh yeah, Christmas and a lengthy, much-needed vacation for me. I’m not back at work until Jan. 3.

Lilly’s dance thing was the culmination of several months of classes at her daycare. We went to San Antonio and the whole thing took place in a big workout room. The kids were adorable and, of course, we thought ours was the absolute best. She got flowers and we went out for a nice dinner to also celebrate Carolina’s first birthday.

Their personalities are so different that even people who don’t spend much time with them both pick up on it right away. Lilly is methodical and demanding, a Type A toddler who is used to having things a certain way, but is also sweet and organized and generous. Carolina, on the other hand, is hilarious and destructive and just wants to get her hands on everything and/or put everything in her mouth, even things that might choke her. The dynamic between the two of them is already developing nicely.

We’ve been having a lot of fun this week with Lilly and Santa. This is the first year she’s really grasped the concept and we did the whole bit with the cookies and the milk, the stockings, the whispers before bed about making sure not to get up and surprise him because he has a heart condition. It’s been surprisingly satisfying and fun being on this end of the Santa equation.

The vacation caps off a year of really just a damn lot of work. I thought things would slow down as things began to cycle down on the NPR front, but just as that was happening, I got approached by Kirkus Reviews to start doing app reviews of children’s story books for the iPad.

Kirkus has been doing book reviews since the 1930s. I mean, I remember seeing the Kirkus review blurbs in the Stephen King paperbacks I read as a teenager and authors I know have told tale of getting their first review from Kirkus.

This project is a fairly large shift for them. They moved their headquarters to Austin and are planning to push hard into new kinds of reviews and digital content. So I’ve been quietly spending the last two months downloading iPad apps, reading them with Lilly at night and working up reviews in the short, extremely refined way that Kirkus does things. I’ve been lucky enough to be paired with an amazing children’s books editor who is also learning about the app world along with me. It’s been a very cool experience. All told, I’ve agreed to write 50 reviews, through the end of January. Just last week I hit the halfway mark.

The first batch of them appears in the Statesman tomorrow, Christmas Day, a bit of a partnership between Kirkus and my newspaper. The reviews will also be appearing on the Kirkus website. It’s been a really fun, cool project.

On the Statesman front, I also recently wrote an update on the Season for Caring project and the Gomez family.

Photo by Mark Matson, for the American-Statesman

And, lastly, I did an app feature recently in the Statesman on a family that creates apps under the name IMAK Creations for There’s a Creator for That. Their app is called “Who Is the Smartest?”

During my downtime, I plan to watch a ton of movies I haven’t had time to see, get the upstairs office organized and de-cluttered and work on my Christmas cards, which have somehow turned into New Year’s cards as I lost track of time.

I’ve had two days off already before Christmas to chill out, stop racing to the next deadline and to just think about how great things have been this year (with only one or two speed bumps), and how lucky I’ve been to have so many wonderful people in my life who aren’t just watching out for me, but for my girls as well.

Thank you, everybody, for reading and for being in our lives.

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