August 27, 2008

Drumroll, please!

I've taken a big step today, friends. I've sent out my bilingual children's book to two literary agencies.

This means I'm asking for an agent to represent my work to publishing companies in the hope of eventually having my book bought and published.

I've spent the last two years working on this project. Rewriting, finding a native Spanish speaker to check my grammar, rewriting again, more proof-reading, presenting it to a critique group, more rewriting. Oh yes, and procrastinating.

Query letters are scary things, friends. They are what I've been avoiding these past two years. (A query gives a snyopsis of your book to an agent or publisher, telling them why the book is important or exciting, and asking them, basically, to buy it).

I know what you're thinking: Surely, the actually writing of the book itself is the hard part. Not for me. It's the queries that give me writer's block; they are the stuff nightmares are made of, the things that go bump in the night. I'm so not a saleswoman.

But at last, I've conquered the infamous Query-fiend, and sent out my story into the wide, wide world.

And now, for your reading pleasure, I am pleased to present to you for the first time my story in its entirety. I give you:

Egop's Treasure/ El tesoro de Egopeo
by Nicole Neuhauser
(but never fear, I will only present the English story here =)

Once upon a time, a king and queen lived in the great city of Pamplona, which would one day be a part of Spain. They had one child, a daughter named Esperanza. They loved her very much and so did all the people in the kingdom. The princess grew into a beautiful young lady and soon King Hector wanted to find her a husband.
He decided to hold a contest. He invited all the young men in the kingdom to come.
“Whoever wins the contest will marry the princess,” he said. Many young men traveled to the castle when they heard the king’s invitation. Each one wanted to win. Each one wanted to marry the princess.
When they arrived, King Hector gave them these directions:
“You must travel into the Pyrenees Mountains to a small valley named Egop. Follow the Argo River until you reach the mountains. Travel north and you will find some rocks in the shape of an “X”. The rocks are the entrance to Egop. When you get there you will find the ground covered with beautiful jewels. Find the jewel you think is the prettiest of all and bring it back to me. In one month I will look at all the jewels and decide who the winner is.”
The young men left quickly. Each one wanted to be first to find Egop.
But Pedro did not go. He was poor and blind. He did not know the way to Egop and no one would help him.
A few days later an enchantress met Pedro.
“Why aren’t you going to Egop with the others?” she asked him.
“I am blind,” he answered sadly. “I cannot travel to Egop to look for jewels because I cannot see.” The enchantress thought for several minutes.
“Pedro, it is not fair that you were left behind,” she said. “You should have the same chance to marry the princess as all the other young men. I’m going to give you your sight.”
Suddenly, Pedro could see! He was overjoyed, but the enchantress warned him: “You are an honest man, Pedro. Stay honest. If you win the contest dishonestly, you will become blind again.”
Pedro thanked the enchantress and immediately set off for Egop. He followed the Argo River. He climbed the mountains and looked for the rocks in the shape of an “X”. Finally he found the valley of Egop. But when he looked around, he couldn’t find any jewels. The other young men had come and gone already. Though Pedro searched and searched, not one jewel was left.
Discouraged, he picked up a small smooth pebble. It was not beautiful or precious. He knew he would not win with such an ugly rock, but he didn’t want to go home empty-handed. Sadly, Pedro traveled back to the castle.
At the end of the month, the king examined all the jewels the young men had found in Egop. There were enormous diamonds, blood-red rubies, brilliant emeralds, and sparkling sapphires. King Hector looked and looked. But the more he looked, the unhappier he was until he saw Pedro’s little pebble.
“Where did you get this?” asked the king. “This is not a jewel!”
Embarrassed, Pedro told him about the enchantress and how he had left for Egop several days after the other men. “When I arrived, there were no more jewels. I didn’t want to come home with nothing so I brought this pebble.”
The king smiled. Then he laughed.
“There were never any jewels in Egop!” he said. “Only common pebbles like yours. These beautiful jewels came from other places, but none of them came from Egop. You have proved yourself the most honest man in the kingdom, Pedro! You will marry Esperanza.”
The other young men left the castle very quickly when they learned the truth about King Hector’s contest. They were afraid the King would punish them for their dishonesty. But Esperanza, who had been watching nearby, smiled at Pedro.
“May I have the pebble?” she asked. “I want the royal goldsmith to put it on a chain and make it into a necklace. I’ll always wear the necklace. When I look at the pebble, I will remember your honesty.”
And they lived happily ever after.

August 25, 2008

Mom Recovers

Regarding my mom, just wanted to let you all know she is recovering well. She had a bunion on her right foot that made all her toes go crooked, so last Monday she had it removed. She'll be on crutches for the next month, and have pins in her foot for the next year, but other than that, she should be ok! Caleb and I visited briefly today, and she's actually happy to be going back to work tomorrow (a whole week at home with her feet up has become a bit boring ;-).

Thanks ya'll for your prayers!

August 21, 2008

A SAHM Rebel?

Various subdivisions exist in the Stay-At-Home-Mom (SAHM) Camp. Some staunch supporters would say you are not a true SAHM unless you stop earning a paycheck from the moment you hear that first baby's cry. We'll call them Camp #1 "The Traditionalists."

Others are partial SAHMs. They stay at home until their children are old enough for preschool, then rejoin the workforce. This is Camp #2 "The Early Years SAHMs."

Still others are those special creative types who have figured out how to earn money while staying at home. (My hat's off to those moms - I admire your industry and resourcefulness). I call Camp #3 "The Proverbs 31ers."

Then there's me. And I'm starting to feel like a square peg, because I don't fit into any of these camps.

Oh, I used to fit into Camp #1 until very recently; thought about Camp #2 when I was a new mommy (oh, those long nights!). I'm still looking for a way to fit into Camp #3 (maybe if I write the next best-seller, they'll let me in and share their s'mores with me. . .). But alas, none of the camps can claim me as a member now.

See, it's been 19 and 1/2 months since I heard my baby's first cry. And I am earning a paycheck once more.

I started a part time teaching job on Monday. I am teaching English to several South Korean high school students, three nights a week. 6 hours a week, total. With Jason at home to watch Caleb while I'm gone.

So what does that make me? A hybrid SAHM? A deserter to the cause? A rebel? Can I even show my face in a SAHM Camp anymore, or would I be strung up for high treason?

Serious questions, friends. My identity's changing, and I don't know how I will survive unless I can find a nice, neat social circle to fit in. Any advice? Ideas? Registration forms for a SAHM subdivision that houses non-conformist moms like me?

But I don't really feel like a non-conformist. I take my role as Caleb's mother and Jason's wife seriously. I spend my days running our household, being wife, mother, nanny, cook, maid, launderer, chauffeur, nurse, secretary, and occasionally, traffic controller. I love this job. I wouldn't trade it for anything.

The question now circling the camps is, Can she really be a good SAHM if she's working outside the home? Well friends, I guess I'm about to find out. Jason and I both spent time in prayer and discussion about this itty-bitty lil' ol' part time job. And we both felt God giving us the green light.

So stay tuned as I venture where few SAHMs have dared to go; there are surely interesting stories in my future.

Who knows? If all goes well, maybe I can create, populate, and preside over my own subdivision: Camp #4 "The Intrepid SAHMs."

But if you'll excuse me now, I need to make meal plans for next week and a shopping list for tomorrow.

August 20, 2008

The Rest of the Pics!

Finally, here are the last pics of Washington. Sorry it took me so long . . . long week last week, followed by a long weekend. But here they are:

Little Cranberry Lake, Fidalgo Island
Yes, I went swimming in the lake. I did not get dunked. =) It was teeth-clenching, bone-numbingly cold. Or as Jason gasped "Heart check!" But I did go in. Unfortunately, I do not have pictures to cooraborate this story, as I was in the water and my camera's not waterproof. But you can ask any member of the Neuhauser family. I may not have pictures, but I have witnesses!

Yep, that's us in the boat. Michael's rowing, Jason's holding Caleb, and I'm admiring the scenery

Our last day in Wa. We went for a hike before dinner, and Mike helped Caleb read and trace the letters of the signs along the path.

I will hopefully have more time for blogging this week. I have several posts bubbling on the back burner in my brain; so stay tuned!!!

Could you guys be praying for my mom? She had foot surgery on Monday, and is recovering now. I will give ya'll more details later, but I'm sure she'd appreciate your prayers. Thanks!

August 9, 2008

Our Vacation in Pictures pt. 2

Ok, if you missed Pt. 1, scroll down to see the first set of Washington pictures. When you're done there, scroll up here (confused yet??) for all the rest.
Mmmm, let the Neuhauser's Crab Feast begin!

Caleb didn't care for crab, but that didn't stop him from being a part. We newspapered the dining table and then got crackin'

Grandma and Grandpa

Deception Pass National Park, Whidbey Island

Caleb decided getting wet was ok. And just in case he tried to jump in, Willy was there to keep an eye on him.

And wet he got. Shoes, jeans and all. =)

Exploring the woods with Grandpa and Willy

I love this picture of Caleb. He is not good friends with my camera, so getting a facial shot of my son is nothing short of a miracle. But as you can see, miracles do happen. Sometimes with the help of sneaky mommies! =)
And now I'm afriad, I am going to split up our vacation pictures yet again. I didn't realize how many I wanted to share with ya'll, and it's getting late here. Hang in there with me. I promise just one more post, in which we city folk learn to swim in a lake and Michael teaches Caleb to read. Stay tuned for Washington pt. 3!!

Our Vacation in Pictures pt. 1

Well. We're home.

It's hard to come home to real life after a great family vacation. Especially when you come home to a car that must immediately go into the shop for brakes, you realize your driver's license is three weeks expired, and you must battle with your rental agency for fining you late fees even though your rent wasn't late. Ha.
But those are stories for another day, friends. =)

Here are the rest of those pictures I promised you. And hence, the rest of our vacation story. Enjoy!

Picking strawberries with Grandpa

"Only eat the red ones, ok?"

Anyone care to guess what my son learned to do by the end of the week? Just look at his chin if you need a hint. Every time we let him into the front yard, he ran right for the berries.

Here's the Queen Anne's Lace I mentioned earlier. You know, they actually think of this as a weed in Washington!!!

Cuddle time with Uncle Mike

Going out to check the crab pots

Out on the Puget Sound
(that would be the ocean for those of you who are geographically-challenged)

Michael pulls up 100 ft. of rope to see if the pots have anything in them

Well, whaddaknow?? Crab!!!

We're going to eat you, Mr. Crab. Oh yes oh yes we are! =)

For the rest, stay tuned for Pt. 2 (in which we really do eat the crab!!). Sorry to have to break it up like this but Blogger is being a bit of pain right now with pictures. The rest are on the way!

August 1, 2008

A Place of Useful Beauty

I think I'm in Paradise.

Oh, go ahead and laugh. But if you've never been to the Pacific Northwest, then the joke's on you. They call this God's country for a reason. A really really good reason. Here's why:

I don't think I've ever been in such a beautiful place before. Ireland comes close, but Ireland doesn't have forests. Other than that, they are tied for Most Beautiful Design in creation.

But Washington isn't just gorgeous in an ornamental sense. The beauty here is also incredibly useful. Here, raspberries and blackberries grow wild along the side of the road. The lakes are full of fish and are wonderfully cold for swimming when the sun gets too warm. At low tide, clams litter the beaches. Clams, and itty-bitty crabs that provide endless amusement for small boys who have learned to turn over the rocks and watch for the little critters as they scurry for new hiding places.

If you know what to look for, this island is teaming with life. Bald eagles, Queen Anne's Lace, deer, pine, trout. It's beautifully, wildly alive.

And people actually live here.

Even though we've been staying with Jason's family, I feel like we've been camping all week. I blame the pine trees, distant snow-covered mountains, and cool temperatures for that. Oh, and the smoked fish. Oh yes, it's mmm-mmm good! I believe I may have even surprised my in-laws (and my husband) with my enthusiasm for "outdoors" fun. =) I'm really a mountain woman at heart, but don't tell anyone, ok?

I'm just shocked that the things I've read about in books (the wild berry bushes and all) actually exist.

And people really live here. Amazing. I guess not everything I read is fiction.

I promise to share more pictures when we get home; we have had many adventures and first-time experiences this week. =) Between catching crab and smoking trout, hiking in the woods and swimming in the lake, the days have flown by and I can't believe we're actually leaving tomorrow. =(

Anyway, just wanted to share a snatch of our vacation with ya'll. Be back in Bloggie World in a few days!