Sunday, December 23, 2007


While reorganizing my posessions I've been running across forgotten relics. As I leave for the family holidays, this artifact seems especially apropos (as well as hilarious). Yes, that's me put in the trash can by my older sister.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Christmas Miracle

Today, I did my holiday duty and went Christmas shopping for my niece and nephew, age 4 and infant. For a brief moment, I thought of getting clothes or shoes (because kid's clothes are the cutest) but then gave myself a mental slap. I'm a children's book author, I've got to support the biz. If I don't buy children's books for children, how can I expect others? Yes, I'm all about setting an example.

I have to admit it's been a while since I've gone shopping in a real store. I tend to do internet shopping; but since I was getting all high and mighty, I realized I should support an independent bookstore as well. So I went into my favorite children's bookstore and...was completely overwhelmed.

There are just so many books out there, crowding and overcrowding the shelves. I went in determined to buy a gem from a no-name upcoming author, but the sheer chaos was disheartening. Suddenly, from the consumer angle, I realized how intimidating it can be to buy a book. The pressure of choosing something age appropriate, reading-level appropriate, taste appropriate for the child, taste appropriate for the parents...suddenly, those cute baby shoes were looking like a good gift choice.

But just as I began to take a step back, I was given an epiphany as a present. I make a living making these books. How is that possible? It was humbling, and the prior feeling of self-righteous pride became one of intense gratitude. Some lovely, kind, patient people must have taken the time to find my books in this mess of a publishing universe,and that's rather a miracle. And one that deserves to be paid forward as a holiday tradition.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

red eggs

I am suprisingly social this holiday season, for I found myself hosting a Red Egg and Ginger Party for Maia, Luke and Ranida's new baby.

Unlike the previous event, I was determined to prepare and prepare well for this. So I was quite proud when the eggs were colored, the cupcakes frosted, the rug vaccuumed and even the bathroom was cleaned. I was so organized that there was enough time for me to paint Maia's name sign and do a write-up on what a Red Egg Party actually is for those who might not know. This is what I wrote:

The Red Egg and Ginger Party

Customarily, the first big festivity in a Chinese baby’s life is the Red Egg and Ginger Party. This party is given in honor of a baby’s first month or first moon birthday, signifying it welcome to the family. Until a baby had lived a full month it was not considered part of the family. Consequently, the Red Egg and Ginger Party was an especially joyous occasion.

Eggs represent new life and, because of their roundness, harmony while red is, of course, the Chinese color of luck and happiness. So Red Eggs signify a happy and lucky new life, the perfect symbol to welcome a new baby.

New mothers “sit a month” after giving birth. It is only on the first moon birthday that the new mother is allowed to leave her home and rejoin the world. On this occasion, she is given much ginger, thought to contain special nutrients needed to give the mother strength.

So we welcome Maia with red eggs and Ranida with ginger! Like the love for a new baby, these traditions are timeless.
And everything went swimmingly and everyone seemed to have a lovely time, so I guess my preparation paid off. The popular game of the day was "pass the baby." Really, she was passed around a lot. It was like a very slow and mellow game of hot potato. I was suprised she didn't cry from the constant changing of the guards.

But of course my favorite game was when the guests left and Luke and I finished the day with some Wii...

from which which I emerged victorious.
Sorry, Luke, I'd do a lot for you-- paint a mural, throw your child a party...but I can't let you beat me in Wii tennis. That's where I draw the line.

Monday, December 10, 2007


Before the party festivities, Anna gave all the blue rose girls blue rose rings. I particularly like how even though they are all blue roses, they are each different.

It is an interesting coterie that we have formed. When we first began the blue rose girl blog, it was mainly for professional and promotional reasons--but the bonds that formed behind the posts have become stronger than I ever imagined. These were the women that stood by me when I was running on empty, when the suffering was almost too much to bear and waited to catch me when the inevitable finally forced me to fall. These were the women that drove six hours to a foreign city for a funeral; they were the ones who madly rearranged, repainted and removed the horrors from my apartment so that I could return to a true home. These were the women who refused to let me be alone and scheduled their days to be with me; the ones who helped me pick up the pieces of my life, watched me heal, encouraged me to go forward and pushed me to look at my future with hope. They are the ones who are sincerely happy for me when I now feel joy and celebrate with delight anytime life brings me good fortune. These are the women who have taught me what true friendship really is.

I probably shouldn't need a ring to remember that. But, it's a good excuse.

Sunday, December 9, 2007


The Robert's Snow auctions ended on Friday, and even though I was not as involved with the project as before, I decided to continue the tradition of having the end-of-auction celebratory party. But I had a rather distracting week, so when Friday rolled around I had done nothing to prepare for the party except put up the tree.
But, lucky for me, I have some amazing friends; and faster than you can say blue rose girls...I had a party spread to be proud of...
for my many fine and lovely guests.
It was great seeing and speaking to everyone that came; and it reminded me how wonderful a community the children's book industry is and how fortunate I am to be a part of it. But I have to admit, the highlight of the party for me was when Ben (of Little, Brown) challenged me to a game of wii tennis. I think the exact conversation went like this:

Ben: Grace, I'm taking you down. I'm not afraid of you.
Grace: Bring it on, dude.
Ben: Oh yeah, take that!

Grace:I can take that. Can you?
Ben: HA! Got it! Is that the best you can do?
Grace: No, but this is.
Ben: What the *?%$@#* was that? Eeeks! Okay, I take it back, I am scared.

Poor Ben, he didn't realize that even though I may not prepare well for a party, a wii game is something I'm always ready for.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007


So, I received the official hardcover of the Year of the Rat! With my second novel and a third one on its way, I feel like I can honestly call myself an author/illustrator, instead of "just" an illustrator. This is much like Fabio in the movie Zoolander:

"Yes! Yes! With this 'slash' award, it means that you consider me the best actor/model, and not the other way around. "

Sunday, November 25, 2007


So we finished off our thanksgiving holiday with a Lin-Mckneally get-together. After all that has happened, I feel as if Luke and Ranida have become kind of part of my family. I have gotten to know Luke's family fairly well and he & Ranida have gotten to know mine so we thought it was time that our families met each other. And I admit I really wanted to go over so I could show off the mural to my parents. I think I am a bit too proud of it...I really must get over it.

But that's hard to do when the families stroke my mural-ego. While there, the Mckneally clan insisted that I get the honor of marking Maia's first height on the growth chart tree. Maia was not that happy about it.

But everyone else was. I particularly was glad that she was in this picture because then officially I am not the shortest one.

So altogether the Lin-Mckneally get-together was quite a success. Hey, and you know what? Kappy, my 4-month year old nephew is pretty cute too. Maybe in 20 years or so Kappy and Maia can get together and then we can really be family.

Friday, November 23, 2007

merry thanksgiving!

Thanks giving was surprisingly balmy at Chez Grace, so with my parents in town, Ki-Ki and I decided to take advantage of the good weather by going for a bike ride. This took some doing, as my dad has not been on a bike for over 40 years and my mom absolutely refused to even mount.

ButI guess riding a bike is like "riding a bike." My Dad certainly proved that, by whizzing on the bike path proudly showing his one-handed technique.

We even made it to Spy Pond, took some father-daughter bonding photos,

and sister-bonding photos.

After which we returned home, where my mom (despite our protests) spent the afternoon slaving away on our traditional Thanksgiving dinner: Chinese rice noodles, stir fried vegetables, tea eggs, and the obligatory roasted turkey. The laboring was really unnecessary as all the food could have been prepared quickly as soon as we returned. Well, all except for the the turkey. She insisted on cooking that with hours of oven time-- "American-Style." She felt to do otherwise would be unpatriotic. Personally, I think the pilgrims wouldn't have minded if she had gone on the bike ride instead.

Friday, November 16, 2007

bundle of cuteness

So, I returned from NYC just in time to welcome the birth of Maia Meiyan McKneally! Yes, the baby that I have helped prepare for has arrived.

I had the distinct honor of being the family's first visitor, arriving at Maia's 22nd hour of life outside the womb.

This is me holding the baby. She is so adorable I entertain thoughts of stealing her away. Which I decide against, considering the parents do know where I live. Notice the firm grasp Ranida keeps on me and the baby, just in case.

Anyway, stealing the baby would make all the rooms I helped prepare a waste. And I can't have that. Because right now I'm thinking it was all worth it.