Monday, July 21, 2014

YAvengers ASSEMBLE

I am so proud to announce that I have joined Earth's Mightiest Heroes, the YAvengers! I'm ready to do whatever it takes to break into the world of publishing as:

MEGAN ECCLES as BLACK WIDOW

Agent Natasha Romanoff. Codename Black Widow. I play with the big boys. What I lack in super powers, I make up for in skill. I specialize in espionage, secrets, and unhappy endings. (They might be connected somehow.)

In between missions, I daylight as Megan Eccles, mother of two and MFA candidate in Fiction. She writes YA speculative fiction, wears babies, and drinks gallons of tea. Follow her blogTwitterFacebook, or Tumblr.



I am honored to be part of the team, saving the world one word at a time. We'll be handling questions, interviews, and various hurdles in the world of writing and publishing. Be prepared for some kick ass awesome. 

Check out the other new members:

What to do with the Crusts



According to my toddler, the greatest offense in the world is a sandwich with the crusts left on. At first, I bargained with him. Then begged. The crusts are good for you, I said. You liked crusts just yesterday. But as with most battles of the will, my toddler won out. Eating is enough of a challenge right now. So I took off the crust.

The problem is, now I have a lot of crusts in my life going unused. My husband and I seldom eat bread, so for the last few months I've been tossing the crusts into the trash and mourning the waste. What can I do with unwanted pieces of bread? With that awful heel?

Then it hit me.

Everyone loves croutons. It's one of the few exceptions to the bread ban in my house. We love that little crunch on the salad. Mass 'em up and use them as bread crumbs. I only buy them when I'm really hungry while grocery shopping. They're a treat. But with an abundance of crust, we have the perfect vehicle for croutons.

To make them, I save up the crusts for a few sandwiches. I usually wait until I have about six sandwiches worth. Then it's go time.


  • Preheat the oven to 350
  • Shred the crusts into crouton sized pieces in a metal pan. I've done it in glass and ceramic, but it doesn't get quite as crunchy. 
  • it should look something like this
  • Add about two tablespoons of your favorite oil. I usually do olive, since I flavor mine Italian. Butter, coconut oil, and lard all well!
  • Season. I do a few shakes each of seasoning salt, pepper, garlic, and onion. Then I toss about two teaspoons of Italian herbs. If you have fresh ones, that's even better.
  • Toss. Make sure they're evenly oiled and seasoned.
  • yummm
  • Put them in the oven for 10-15 minutes, or until they're all crispy and golden brown.
  • Let them cool, and that's it! 
Crusts turned into a tasty addition to any salad or meat loaf. And if you can believe it, my toddler loves them. Of course.




What do you do with those pesky crusts?

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Every Child is Different



"Every child is different," they say.

After getting over the initial shock of pregnancy and birth mid-quarter during grad school, I assumed it would be easy. Anthony was a piece of cake. He was what they call an easy baby, a good baby. You know, the ubiquitous they of grocery stores and Target check out lines. I constantly received comments about how well-behaved he was and what a good mom I was. Every time, I felt like I was leveling up in parenting. I was breastfeeding, cloth diapering, eating and feeding organic. We wore in in the moby and ergo and made sure to apply benzo-free sunscreen. Why not? Anthony thrived. His first words were "What is that?" and he is inquisitive, funny, and fantastic.

about fifteen minutes before Vince was born

He made my pregnancy with Vincent more manageable. Through the nausea and vomiting, the sciatica and trouble walking, Anthony was pleasant. He would bring me water when I was curled up in a ball on the couch. He thought it was hilarious when I barfed. He named all his toys Vincent, and talked about his little brother constantly. He was even there when Vincent was born, watching with anticipation while his brother made his journey into the world.

And Vincent. Those of you who follow me on social media might know him as the Curmudgeon. While he didn't struggle with his latch like Anthony, he didn't like to nurse. He nursed, but only out of necessity. He wouldn't nurse to sleep or for comfort. He would eat, then cry, then sleep--not always in that order. He arched his back in pain and wailed. I took him to the chiropractor when he was twelve days old. He was adjusted, and I limited my diet to a sort of egg-free paleo in hopes that it was something in my breastmilk. You know it's bad when you have hope in a crazy diet. It got a little better, then worse. I finally conceded to the pacifier when he was about four weeks. He took it.

A

Unless he was being worn, he was miserable. Making dinner was a nightmare. Going to the bathroom was a nightmare. Eating a meal was a nightmare. He just cried and cried and I felt helpless. He didn't want the boob, he didn't want to just be held, he didn't want anything. If I walked around long enough with him in a woven wrap he would eventually sleep. When family members held him--if family members held him--it was for a minute or less. He was the opposite of my chubby, happy Anthony at this stage. I wasn't writing. I wasn't reading. Mostly, I was trying to comfort a 'mudging curmudgeon and not lose my mind.

this was constant

And they. What would they say? My kids were in disposables. Anthony was eating a steady diet of squeezable applesauce. Vincent was gnawing angrily at a pacifier instead of comfort nursing. Can you level down? I missed the lazy days of snuggling Anthony on the couch and reading a book or power watching Doctor Who. Vincent was not a "good" baby. But to say he was "bad" would be awful. There is no such thing as a bad baby. He was difficult. He was different. The ubiquitous they of check out lines and public outings would chime that. Every child is different.

There it was, that moment of clarity. As if on cue, Vincent fell into a routine. He started smiling at five weeks. At six weeks, he stopped his back-arching screaming. He would eat and self soothe into a nap or happily suckle on the wubbanub. I still wore him constantly, but without the desperation and extra five-thousand steps a day. I turned in my papers for grad school and went to residency, where Vincent was a good baby, an easy baby. He was perfect, the quintessential newborn. I was shocked and happy. More importantly, Vincent was happy. Vincent is happy.



Don't get me wrong, we still have miscommunications. Sometimes I offer the boob when he wants the pacifier. Sometimes I don't wrap him as soon as he'd like when he's tired. Occasionally I make a loud and upsetting noise. But that's okay. We're just getting to know each other, after all.

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Every parenting experience needs to be treated individually. We learn and we grow. They do, too. If we give our children the chance to simply be, without the expectations of older siblings or friend's children or internet strangers or they, we will be that much happier. I know I am.









Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Presumption & Balance



I've been a little busy of late.

We welcomed Vincent Daniel Eccles into the world on April 18th, 2014. He's amazing, and Anthony is the best big brother I could have asked for. I'll have more on that--and Vincent's birth story--soon. Vince spent his first 6 weeks a very unhappy baby; and very little else other than baby soothing happened as a result. Then came residency. 



 To say that I love this program wouldn't do it justice. The years I spent wondering about the "what ifs" of getting an MFA didn't prepare me for the knowledge, the friendships, and the experience I've gained. Last time, I left Paul and Anthony at home. It was surreal. It was the first time I was able to be Writer Megan, rather than a mom and a wife and whatever else I need to be at any given time. I never stop being all those things, but for ten days I was able to put Writer Megan in the forefront. This time, I brought the whole gang and the art of balance began.


Luckily, I'm blessed with an amazing husband who took point on all things toddler. They played baseball, floated in the pool, and in general tried to stay cool in the 110 degree heat. I saw them on obscure breaks and in the space between dinner and evening panels. Vincent stayed snuggled on my chest. I really don't know how I'd get anything done without babywearing. Being an adorable baby, he proved far more interesting than I was and stole conversations and smiles. While I'm thankful to be home and back to a normal routine, I miss the poolside and free flow of intellectually challenging conversations involving more than what color ninja I am. (It's red, by the way.)

Yeah, I'm a bad ass writer.

To be honest, I've been hesitant about posting here. I looked back at some of my old posts, some of the flash fiction I threw up on here, some of the prose and I cringed. How did I put words on the internet so riddled with errors? How can I call myself a writer, when all the stories I've put out in the world have been inherently flawed? I can't stomach work that I used to be proud of. There's a part of me that wants to go through and edit and fix it all. But I'm not the same writer I was a year ago, six months ago, ten days ago. There's constant evolution. As writers, we are constantly in flux. Our writing should be improving with each sentence, each word.

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Vincent is my harshest critic.

It's a challenge. The business of being a writer is finding the space between absolute narcissism and crippling insecurity--and somehow surviving there. We live on the idea that we will write words good enough to buy and therefore fund our future writing projects--which is both presumptive and terrifying. The words that were perfect yesterday need polish today. With wisdom, hopefully I'll be able to see a point of balance and find satisfaction in my work.



But whoever said I was wise?

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Keeping the Love in Lent





As a child, I used to dread Lent. I'd spend the weeks leading up to Ash Wednesday stressing over what I would give up. It was a ritualistic, self-imposed spiritual insecurity. Lent was a time of best behavior, it was a time of sacrifice. It was a time of acknowledging that I could be better for the other 320 or so days and chose not to. Waves of that familiar Catholic guilt would overwhelm me until I settled on something I thought was worthy. And then I'd give up chocolate, or candy, or TV time. And for forty days I would suffer through less sugar and more time reading, only to binge on Easter candy and movie marathons, not really understanding what Lent could mean.

Because Lent can be so much more.  At it's core, Lent is about love. That's the message that Christ gave us, during His life. It's why He stretched out His arms and died on a cross, because He loves us so completely that He would die so that we might live again. Lent is our opportunity to live that love, it's a spring board into deeper holiness and deeper understanding of our faith, not just for forty days, but for the rest of our lives.

Two years ago, I prayed a daily rosary for Lent and witnessed firsthand the healing power of prayer-- not just for myself, but for those around me. Last year, I said yes and did some of the hardest and most rewarding things I have ever done. This year, as I prepare for the birth of my second son, I'm focusing on small things. I'm making the bed, every single day. If you know me, you know that this might be one of the most difficult things that I could do. And yet this small gesture, this small moment of love will bring joy. I'm limiting my social media time-- not stopping completely, but being more conscious of the time I spend and finding better ways to use that time. And I will be attending daily mass at least once a week. Little things, that can yield a great impact.

I won't be changing the world. I won't be moving mountains or rewriting the the history of mankind. But I will be learning, shutting down distractions and opening myself up to God. And I won't stop there. I want to live Lent, all year. I want Lent to be a stepping stone into greater faith, to deeper sacrifice. I want to keep the love in Lent. Not just for me, not just for my family, but for the whole world. I want to be Holy, Lord, for You.


How are you keeping the love in Lent?



Tina at Truly Rich Mom