Sunday, December 30, 2012

Like Everyone Else

If you look closely, you'll see a double rainbow
I'm in that recapping/reviewing mode and the reality is that January 2012 may as well have been January 2002. Yes, my brain is that fuzzy, but if I dig deep into the crevasses of my grey matter I know there were definitely some highlights, some low lights (really? can't I come up with anything better than that?), and moments that I know will carry me into 2013 and get me off to a good start.

This year, I learned to really appreciate the blogosphere, and found an amazing community of writers. Names I love seeing as commenters on my blog and posts from others that I look forward to reading. I learned the importance of having the "email" button on a blog-- if it's not in my inbox, I'm not reading it. With the hope that others behave the same, I put one on this blog and I have to believe it helped. The blogosphere also led me to my first experiences writing flash fiction and finding the best creative/writing partners in the world: Jen and Lauri!

I learned the value of discipline. In 2011, I participated in Tara Lazar's PiBoIdMo and well, failed. Miserably. I started 2012 by participating in Julie Hedlund's 12x12 in 12, and didn't make it past March. Another failed attempt at discipline. Then, April came and I jumped in with both feet for the A to Z Blogging Challenge and learned the value of balance between planning ahead and winging it (I'm a pantser by nature). This was a happy and successful place for me. I met tons of other bloggers, read some great posts, and really saw the value of the blogging community. In November 2012, I participated in PiBoIdMo again, and succeeded in coming up with 30+ ideas for picture books.

Throughout all of this, I started querying. Yes, the time consuming, daunting, and humbling process of sending our work out to be exposed and either accepted or rejected by the powers-that-be in the traditional publishing world. Twenty-something attempts, one nibble, and all rejections are where I ended up. I questioned my story, my writing, my methods, and the whole writing thing. But, alas, that's why God made Stephen King. Aside from being a huge fan of his, I will never forget that he was rejected over 30 times and eventually had to create a pseudonymn to be published. I'm not there yet, but more importantly I haven't given up either.

I tried something new this summer, Letters From Camp. Inspired by my own memories of writing letters to my parents during the summer, and finding myself busy with swim meets, camps and reading, I decided that writing letters to my parents might be a good way to fill them in on my summer. Thanks Mom, for always reading them and sharing your thoughts and memories.

Starting on January 1, I'm participating in Katia Raina's 31 Minute Challenge. I learned last April that I need goals and deadlines to go with them. I have goals, and for January I will have deadlines. January will be the start of daily writing time for me- whether it's writing, editing, blogging, or social media work- it all ties in and I can't wait. This is going to be my year.

Not that 2012 wasn't my year. For my day job, writing for MyVeronaNJ.com, it was a great year. I'm known over there for my Crock It! series, but I also cover day trips, new businesses and the occasional press release. February 2013 will mark the 3rd anniversary of Crock It! and with that comes both improved writing and photography as well as learning how to create my own recipes. I have taken all of that time and experience and put it into Cook It! Verona which also gave me some insight to the world of self publishing. You can flip through the pages below, and yes, the photographs are all mine. Did I mention that I have grown to love photography?

So, I fondly say goodbye to 2012, with graditude. It was a great year and I'm looking forward to more fabulousness in 2013. Happy New Year everyone!


Thursday, December 20, 2012

Cookielypse!


Shannon over at The Warrior Muse is co-hosting the Choose Your Own Apocalypse blogfest with Chuck over at Apocalypse Now.  The premise is simple: there are many who believe that in accordance with the Mayan calendar,  life as we know it will end on 12/21/2012. What they can't agree on is how. So, Shannon thought a party was in order and as long as it's the party season, I'm in. The rules are simple:
Choose my apocalypse
Tell about how I prepared for my survival amongst everyone else's demise
Describe my apocalypse and how it goes down

And so, here is my apocalypse situation. You'll have to forgive try to understand my humor here- I've been in the kitchen for daaaaaaaaays!

Quick. Over here. I'm writing this from the safety of my basement.
There's been an accident. No, an overtaking. Yes, that's right. An overtaking and I don't think there was anything accidental about it.
Up to my eyeballs in cookies this year, like every other year. I've got trees, people, wreaths, and angels. I can't say who started it, or how, but I think the little guys got tired of me nibbling while cooking. I always eat and cook, so I can't really understand why this time was different.
It was the final two dozen cookies. Or maybe the final 21 since I had grabbed, and eaten, 3 on my way from the drying rack in my dining room to the kitchen.
I was reaching into the fridge for the milk. You know- to go with the cookies. I heard the crumbling, crunching sound of footsteps that obviously were not my own. I was securely placed in front of the fridge moving jars, containers, and endless amounts of butter and eggs to find my milk.
The tree cookies had grown to the size of small conifers- right through to my second floor.
The angels wings came to life and lifted them right off the drying rack.
The wreaths hurled themselves toward me, and I thought for sure one would end up strategically placed right around my body, and not in the fun hula hoop way.
But, the worst was was the cookie people. Walking. No, marching in a straight tight line right toward me.
How did I take care of myself when I was sure imminent demise was on its way to myself and my neighbors?
Milk.
Yes. I headed to the basement, locked the door, and found a steady supply of milk. You know, for the cookies. Wouldn't want Santa to be thirsty and all that. Anyway, it turns out the sugary sweet little guys, or trees or things, don't like milk. Balances out the sugar too much.
So, for now, I'm safe. In my basement with my milk.
Wish me luck! If the world ends, and anyone asks; Yes. I got milk. And NO, never trust a cookie!
They do look tasty though, don't they????

Friday, December 7, 2012

I'm Not A Food Blogger, But.....

I have exactly just under 4 months until the A to Z Blogging challenge starts up for 2013. And I'm a bit stuck. Or perhaps a better word is torn.
I learned during last year's challenge that I really love writing flash fiction. I also learned that in order to be successful, I need a plan. I'm a pantser when it comes to writing, but I need a format to follow.
I learned last May how much fun it is to make homemade ice cream. While ice cream and flash fiction really have nothing to do with each other, they are both the subject of my dilemma.
26 alphabetically inspired pieces of flash fiction (I already have some words courtesy of my kids) or.....
26 alphabetically inspired ice cream flavors.
As with any alphabetically inspired project, some letters are easier than others.
For ice cream- the letter C is super easy. There's cinnamon and chocolate and a bazillion variations of both of those. For X- that's tricky. Is Xanthum gum in ice cream? It shouldn't be, but I will really need to get creative about this one.
Even as I write this, I think I'm coming to a decision, or at least my taste buds are. I mean, really, who wouldn't want 26 days of this?:
Coffee Chocolate Chip
Thoughts anyone? Favorite flavors? Ice Cream challenges?????

Friday, November 30, 2012

PiBoIdMoDo


Ah, yes. That's a little Tracy-speak for PiBoIdMoDone!
How's that for a short post?!
Thanks Tara for the daily inspiration on your blog.
Thanks to my kids for waiting patiently while I said, "Hold on. I just have to write this down."
And a final thanks to that extra group of brain cells that kicked in and kept me going. You can all go back to sleep now!

Friday, November 16, 2012

On A Roll... So Far

This is the second year I am trying my hand at PiBoIdMo, hosted by the wonderful and talented Tara Lazar, who I actually had the pleasure of meeting at a local SCBWI event last weekend. We've Tweeted with each other, commented on each other's blogs, and emailed, but there is just something powerful about meeting someone in person.

 My new and wonderful creative partners were there too: Lauri Meyers of Lauri's Stories and Jennifer Dorr of A Year of Living Mythically. How fabulous to be at an industry event with them. I also met author Ame Dykman, illustrator Vin Vogel, illustrator Leeza Hernandez, and Scholastic editor Jenne Abramowitz. Yes, they are all real people and no, I should never have been nervous about introducing myself to them. As it turns out, I'm not the only person who feels life pulling me in several directions, or gets stumped while staring at a blank page.
Me and Ame Dykman

Wow- I digressed a lot there. So, back to PiBoIdMo. The premise is simple: pledge to write down one picture book idea for each day in November. Last year, I made it for about 5 days, got all caught up in half days, Thanksgiving and well, that was the end of that. Not good. This year though, I'm doing well. Although some of the ideas will never move beyond the piece of paper on which they are written, others have potential. And if I'm lucky, some will even turn into a whole picture book.
In real life the colors were more vibrant but I used this sunset for one of my ideas.

I'm far from done, but moving in the right direction. And, thanks to those of you who I met last weekend- there was definitely inspiration in those simple and casual conversations.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Detoxing

Okay. I've officially decided that Hurricane Sandy is the closest I've ever come to detoxing. See, I'm a bit of a self-proclaimed workaholic. Always searching out using any bit of spare time to write or edit or follow up on a project.
I don't know if work-anon exists, but Sandy came close. For about 10 days.


At first, the forced vacation was fun. My family and I were safe, our home was safe, and if worse came to worse, we could cook hot dogs over the fire pit for dinner. Which, we of course did. I even had flashbacks to my days in summer camp.
I assumed that if nothing else, I'd be able to write. All I needed for that was a pen and paper, which is how I start most writing projects, with the only exception being this blog and my food stories. I thought that as long as the kids were busy and playing I'd have free time. After all, there was no laundry to do (I wasn't ready to go back to the washboard and bucket just yet), no errands to run (power lines and trees everywhere), no homework to oversee (school was canceled for a week), and no sports practices. Time was mine and it seemed I had plenty of it.

I could not have been more wrong.

There was no free time, or when there was, it was dark, and we went to bed. At 9:00. All of us.

What really led to the lack of free time, and what I hadn't counted on, was the shift my husband and I made to the 2012 version of survival mode:
  • Where is the food? How much are we making? (I didn't want leftovers as there was no place to store them and no way to heat them up)
  • How are we cooking? Grill, stove, or fire pit? (I still had the gas for my stove)
  • When are we starting? It gets dark inside at about 4:00 and it's not easy to cook in the dark.
  • Where are we sleeping? Let's set the beds up early (we all stayed in one room for warmth) while it's still light out.
  • Is there anything that needs to go to my sister's to be charged?
  • Do we have food for breakfast?
The whole experience was amazing to me. We all shifted into a mode where we hoped every day for the power to go back on and we planned ahead as well and as carefully as we could. My kids were fantastic, and actually learned how to split wood, and use a machete. Husband was amazing and is definitely a key to survival in a storm (he actually went out every morning and got us coffee- oh, how we missed our coffee). What did this mean for me? No writing. No editing. No plotting or pantsing. Just living and being Mom. It turns out that a week without power does not lead to writing, but instead making sure my family was safe and comfortable.

Am I cured and completely detoxed? No, that apparently was temporary.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Hello. Anybody Home?

Hello writer. It's me, your blog. Remember me?
Hello? Anybody home? I didn't think so.
No, wait. I'm here. I've just been a little, ahem, busy.

Sure. Sure. That's what you said about July.
I know. It happens.

Okay. I'll bite. What were you so busy doing????
Writing. Editing. Writing. Editing. Getting the kids back and settled into school. Starting up a creative writing/partner group.

Okay, so it's not like you've been sitting on the couch eating bon- bons.
I wish, but no. I haven't even been reading as much as I had this summer. But, I'm trying to make more time for that and organize my days a little better. I've even started knitting at night again.

Well, I'm glad to see you're back. How was GUTGAA?
It was an incredible experience, and even though I didn't end up with an agent at the end, I did get some positive feedback from the story I pitched and it's always good to know that I'm not the only one who thinks something is a good idea or a cute story.

Excellent. What's next?
PiBoIdMo, (Picture Book Idea Month) hosted by Tara Lazar. I tried this one last year, but lost steam after about (oooooh, can you see me blushing?) 6 or 7 days.

How's it going so far this year?
Well, it's day 2 and I'm two for two. So far so good. I'm looking to work with new ideas, but I have a theme for back up.

Then I'll let you get back to it, but don't leave me for so long next time. I was getting dusty and stuff.
I won't. Promise.

Friday, September 7, 2012

GUTGAA Pitch Polish

Happy Friday! What a great experience GUTGAA has been so far. I haven't made it to nearly as many blogs for the intros as I had hoped, but I plan to keep hopping around as much as I can in the next month. And so... on to the next part of GUTGAA, and if you haven't signed up yet, but want to, just go to the fabulous Deana Barnhart's site and follow the links to participate.

Our next activity is Pitch Polish! My pitch is for a relatively new story that I wrote (mostly) about 6 months ago, but recently came back to clean up and make pretty. I think I was inspired by school starting on this one!


Title: Extra Special X
Genre: Picture Book
Word Count: 635 words
Author: Tracy Bermeo (me)
The pitch:
Forgotten and on the verge of being lost forever in the dark, dusty world under the refrigerator, the letter X calls for help.  Working together and holding on to each other, C-H-A-I and N band together and reach down to help X join the rest of the letters. Through the alphabet’s friendship and encouragement, X learns the value of being surrounded by other letters and creating words, even if she is not the first letter in those words.

This story of how easily one letter can be brushed aside and almost forgotten, but then shown its importance through friends, is the core of my 635 word picture book about how a letter, that often stumps adults, can still find value in the world of words.

For nearly three years, I have written for MyVeronaNJ.com, an online media site where I publish weekly food stories with recipes, book reviews, new business features, and day trips for families. I am also published in the NY Times Motherlode, NJ Family magazine and Ploughshares literary magazine blog.

I’ve included below the first 150 words of Extra Special X, which I hope you’ll enjoy. I appreciate your time and look forward to hearing from you in the coming weeks.

Jack stood at the refrigerator, surrounded by his magnetic letters. He arranged, piled, moved, pushed and pulled to make words.
CAT, TOP, BAT, STOP
He moved his favorite letters, S,M,A,T,R,D,C, and Z into a pile near his hands. The ones he didn’t use so much like U, Q, K, Y, X, and W were moved to the side.
Molly walked up to Jack and ran her hand through the smaller pile off to the side.
“Let’s go outside,” his sister suggested.
“Last one out goes to bed first!” Jack replied, and ran out the door.
The letters stayed on the refrigerator. Well, most of them.
The letters Molly brushed off to the side slid toward the bottom. Falling, slipping, sliding, farther down the refrigerator they went.
“Can someone help me down here?” called a small voice. “It’s dusty, dirty, and getting dark. I don’t think I can hold on much longer.”

Thanks so much for reading, and any constructive and helpful criticism is welcome!

Monday, September 3, 2012

Ready For GUTGAA ???




Definitely!

I'm embarking on the GUTGAA (Gearing Up To Get An Agent) adventure courtesy of Deana Barnhart and while I've been writing, polishing, editing, and doing everything I can to get ready, I have to say I'm excited. I'm looking forward to meeting other authors, presenting my work and learning from a lot of people who know a lot more than I do!

Our task for the first week is to write a bio, and so here is mine:

Where do you write? Mostly my desk, but I've been known to write a few lines on the pad of paper I keep in my car while waiting at a red light.

Quick. Go to your writing space, sit down and look to your left. What is the first thing you see? My bookshelves.

Favorite time to write? Friday nights when the week winds down, the kids are occupied and words just flow.

Drink of choice while writing? Iced Tea, water, or Diet Dr. Pepper

When writing , do you listen to music or do you need complete silence? Silence, but I have been known to put my ipod on to drown out the background noise of the television.

What was your inspiration for your latest manuscript and where did you find it? Kathy Temean has a Free Fall Friday and First Page Picture prompt on her blog. The August illustration was so beautiful that even though I didn't make it to the final four to be critiqued by an editor, the winning pages, and the illustration, inspired me to keep going. So I did. Now, I have another ms to work on.

What's your most valuable writing tip? Write down your ideas whenever and wherever possible. Great ideas don't always come back.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Letters From Camp: Goodbye Summer...

Hello school!
Oh wait, I think I said that a little too quickly. Let me back up....

Dear Mom and Dad,

Summer's almost over and believe it or not this will be my last Letter From Camp. The kids are ready for school; everyone has tried on their new clothes, filled their backpacks with fresh notebooks, folders, pens, pencils, rulers, a protractor, and all sorts of other items.

The timing works out well because I'm participating in GUTGAA (Gearing Up To Get An Agent) for the next 6 weeks, courtesy of the fabulous Deanna Barnhart. I definitely need that school time to write, edit, revise, write some more and hop around the blogosphere.

My final "summer" writing project is courtesy of David Powers King who tagged me last week in the Be Inspired Meme. Yes, I had to look up the definition of a meme and despite my very fond memories of whipping out the dictionary at dinner to discuss the proper spelling, or definition, of a word I've moved on to the Kindle version of a dictionary which happens to be conveniently located on my phone. Anyway, this meme (n: and idea, behavior, style, or usage that spreads from person to person within a culture) involves using a WIP (Work In Progress) and answering some questions. The piece I'm going to use I haven't even had a chance to tell you about yet, so much of this will be as new to you as it is to me, and that's because I've just started two new WIPs and I'm winging it, as I usually do.

Anyway, so I'm "it" and here goes:

What is the name of your book? FIRE PAINTERS

Where did the idea for your book come from? Child #3 who called the Power Rangers Fire Painters.

In what genre would you classify your book? It will be a children's chapter book. In my mind it started as a picture book, simple and straightforward, but once I started writing it, it was clear that this would be a bit more involved.

If you had to pick actors to play your characters in a movie version, who would they be? I really have no idea. Haven't gotten there yet.

Give us a one-sentence synopsis of your book: When a rainy-day wish made by sisters sitting in front of an enchanted fire turns the world gray, it takes the magic of the Fire Painters to return color to the world.

How long did it take you to write your book? Not done yet, but the first hour was pretty good! I'm hoping the rest flows pretty easily.

What other books within your genre would you compare it to? I have to be honest, I was focused on picture books for so long (based on my first three manuscripts) that I really have no idea.

Which authors inspired you to write this book? I've read some great books with the kids and I love the way Lenore Look and Gennifer Choldenko tell their stories. It made it fun to read with the kids. You know I'm a Stephen King freak, so he's my role model for character development and inspires me to write the best I can.

Tell us anything that might pique our interest in your book: Well, I love a rainy day as much as the next person and every once in a while even a string of them would be great, and possibly very productive. But, to have no color in the world? What would it be like? How would people adjust? Would colors become legends and the subject of folklore and bedtime stories? While I don't have all of these answers yet, I can tell you I'm looking forward to creating them.

Until next summer.....
Love,
Tracy

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Letters From Camp: Rainy Days And Ice Cream

Cinnamon Ice Cream with Hot Fudge

Dear Mom and Dad,
It's raining today. Rainy days at camp seem like they would be a bummer, but we always manage to make the best of it. Sometimes rainy days are the disguises for resting days or just plain play days. Today, we made it a play day, which worked out well for everyone.

The kids took our their Legos, made a tent, and then watched a movie. This of course after a little reading comprehension and math work book time- no television until the work's done, right? See, I'm repeating some of your parenting strategies.

I, on the other hand, took out my ice cream maker and decided to play in my kitchen. With the kids busy there was no one to say, "you're putting that in ice cream?" So fabulous! I tried out a batch of what I can only call Mexican Red Velvet. It's more pink than red, but it's a spicy chocolate too, kind of like Mexican Hot Chocolate. It isn't quite right, but with one or two more rainy days, I should be much closer.

With summer fruit at it's peak, I also delved into Black Raspberry. Dad, you know Abby loves this as much as you do, and let me just say that I'm trying really hard to save you some for when you visit. It's awesome, and one of my best creations, along with Coffee.

Don't you wish you had a spoon?


Love from my kitchen on a rainy day,
Tracy

Why I'm writing Letters From Camp to my parents.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Letters From Camp: If My Mini Van Was A Convertible

Doesn't that sky just make you want to take the top down????

Dear Mom and Dad,

Agh! I had the best idea!

Okay, so it's summer and we seem to finally be past that hot, sticky, nastiness called July. How am I celebrating? My windows are finally open again without wilting every potato chip and piece of paper in the house. How are others celebrating? They are taking the tops down. Of their cars.

I have a sunroof, but let's face it, that's just not the same. So, I got to thinking: What if my mini-van was a convertible? Can't you see it?

The top smoothly slides back into my mostly unused third row. The wind in my hair, my music blasting, yes I love to share it with others on the road, and the papers, wrappers, french fries, pieces of pretzel, pencils, markers, and about 35 Lego guys all flying from the top of my car.

Okay, so it might not be so safe for others on the road, but it could be a great way to clean out my car.

Summer is almost over, and my letters will end soon, as camp will be over. School will start, and I'll once again be able to talk on the phone without three inquisitive angels wanting to know who I'm talking to and what I'm talking about.

Wishing I could drive with the top down.
Love,
Tracy

Monday, August 20, 2012

Letters From Camp: Pardon My French


Dear Mom and Dad,
Okay. This is the part where I hope you don't get mad at me but Holy Crab! my phone's a kindle. Well, not really. My phone is my phone, but it has a Kindle app and of all the android phones I've had, this is the best one.
Why am I so excited? Well, you know I've been reading a lot this summer. Dad, I'm like you-- I prefer paper books. Yes, its the old-fashioned thing, but I know you know where I'm coming from on this. And, oddly enough, I am sometimes against change, unless of course it's a change that I want. Hmmm I wonder where I get that from......
Well, this summer I decided to experiment with a change I was ready for and it involves that fabulous Kindle app on my phone. I decided to try reading a book on my phone.
I know, I know. The screen is small. It isn't great in the sun. God forbid my kids decide to curl up next to me with wet bathing suits from the pool while I'm reading (which is totally likely by the way). And what about all those wonderful bookmarks you have given me over the years??? Legitimate questions, and don't worry, those bookmarks are still well used and adored. But I've been all over the blogosphere and so many people have these great books that are available on Amazon, and I wanted to read them.
Where to start? Well, I really went for it on this one.
I downloaded a copy of Burnt Offerings by Roland Yeomans. Roland and I have crossed paths in the blogosphere and it seems like every other week he's got a new book available. He's a writing a machine. In an effort to both read his work and try out my Kindle app, this seemed like a good place to start. So, I one-clicked my way to an urban fantasy on an e-reader. Talk about a summer trip!
The stories were nothing like I've read before, and I was hooked. But I had questions. Enter: Twitter. (It was like picking up the phone and calling, but not exactly) I started following Roland, and then he followed me.  I asked him questions about the book. I was confused and didn't realized it was a collection of short stories and without a hard copy, I was a bit lost. This is all new to me, remember? Roland was awesome enough to write back and explain and give me a bit of background. I read his book within a few days. Yes, at the pool and before bed. I didn't even need a light at night! Don't you just love technology?!?!?
So, that's my latest summer experiment. I've since downloaded a few more of his books to my Kindle app, and have to say that I'm getting used to the smaller screen. I love that I don't need an extra light for reading at night and that I can get directly to the author with questions. How often does that happen? I won't give up paper books entirely (I just picked up two today), but I'm feeling a bit more open to the whole e-reading thing.
That's all for today. Summer is drawing to a close, as will my letters, soon, but not quite yet.
Love,
Tracy

Here's why I'm writing Letters From Camp to my parents.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Letters From Camp: My To Do List


Dear Mom and Dad,
It's been busy for the past couple of weeks and while I feel I've been productive, my To Do  list seems to be glaring at me and not getting any smaller. I actually got an email from Twitter saying they missed me. I miss Twitter too and have not been in the Twittersphere, or blogoshere, much this summer. Which brings me back to my To Do list.
If it were simple tasks like laundry (folded, but not put away), grocery shopping (not done with even a bit of the efficiency I have during the school year), and putting toys away (I seem to do this more often in the summer) that would be easy.
Instead, my To Do list looks more like this:
Learn how to use Pinterest
Learn how to use my camera better
Find a food photography course
Organize the pictures on my computer
Update Linked In
Send out queries for book
Work on MyVerona Cook Book
Learn how to use Google+

There is no easy way around these things, I really need to do them all in order to get from point A to point B. Somewhere in the balance of enjoying summer and swimming with the kids lies continuing to build a career. I'm determined. The list will get done, it may just take a little longer, and that's ok, because it's summer. Besides, I like writing letters to you and that's easier than figuring out everything on my list.
Love,
Tracy

Here's why I'm writing Letters From Camp to my parents.

Monday, August 13, 2012

What If The Little Red Hen Had Help?

I have truly come to love writing flash fiction, but playing around with fairy tales that have been in my head for years was a tough one. But! What a great exercise! So, hat's off to Cassie, Mark, Leigh, and Morgan for putting this blogfest together and making me really think outside the fairy tale box! Click here to see the other entries.


"Phfft!" The Little Red Hen blew feathers away from her face and stepped toward her mixing bowl.
"Ouch!  That was my paw!" said Cat.
Thump! The sack of flour fell and Hen found herself in a cloudy, floury mess.
"Cat, I didn't know you were there."
"I came to help, and brought some salt with me. I hope 3lbs. is enough."
"Oh. Thank you. Usually, I make bread alone."
Hen went to cleaning up the flour.
"Are you ready for some salt?
"Not yet. First, I need some eggs."
"Oh good! Because I have two dozen of them," said Goose, bursting through the door.
"What? Eggs?” A startled Hen tripped over her broom and went flying and flapping into the sink, as two eggs slipped from Goose's wings.
 “Thanks, but I already have some eggs because I usually make bread alone." Hen said climbing out of the sink.
"Ooops. I guess you can't use the broken ones, can you?"
“No,” said Hen reaching for a mop.
 “Time for salt yet?” Cat asked.
“Not yet.” Hen sighed, mopping up the eggy mess.
"I'm really quite used to doing this alone. Where was I? Right. Flour. One cup. Two cups. Thr..."
Cow came plowing through the door. "Am I late? Did I make it on time?" 
Hen's measuring cup flew out of her wing, hit the ceiling and landed spilling more flour.
"Cow?"
"Milk. I've got your milk," she panted. "Super fresh and warm. Been holding it all morning. Just need you to collect it, thereby relieving a little, ahem, pressure," Cow said with a smile somewhere between happy-to-help and I'm-getting-really-uncomfortable.
The Little Red Hen smiled at her friends quietly wishing she hadn't asked for help in the first place.


Saturday, August 11, 2012

Ice Cream and the Dog Days of Summer

Mexican Chocolate with Cinnamon Chocolate Chip
(drizzled with dark chocolate sea salt caramel sauce)

Jeremy Bates is hosting a Dog Days of Summer Blogfest and I'm so in! The rules are to write about:

1) Describe your favorite summer activity thus far.
2) What activities do you plan before summer is over?
3) If you could have the ultimate vacation ever, where and what would it be?

So hop on over to Jeremy's site and check out all the summer fun happening over there for these couple of days.

This summer has been busier than usual for me. All filled with great and fantastic activities for my kids, learning new things, meeting new people and all things that summer is for, including at least one lemonade stand. But, my favorite summer activity so far has been anything involving my ice cream maker. I got it for Mother's Day and my freezer has been full ever since. I've always been an ice cream girl, but this summer that little activity has expanded exponentially. And it's been delicious! Maybe next summer I'll learn how to make the chocolate sauce too!

Friday, August 10, 2012

Letters From Camp: Heirloom Tomatoes


Dear Mom and Dad,
I'm not a food blogger, but as you both know, I love food. Eating as well as cooking and I know exactly where I got it from! Growing up a Jersey Girl, I remember summers of delicious Jersey beefsteak tomatoes. In the past few years, Heirloom Tomatoes have been making their way to more and more shelves and baskets at grocery stores and farmer's markets. I fell in love with their flavor and colors last summer, so this summer, I've been playing with them some more.
In honor of Fresh Produce Tuesday from the 2 Sisters 2 Cities blog, I'm sending you this recipe for Heirloom Tomatoes which is an adaptation from my mother in law's Ecuadorian Salsa. Dad, I know you love her ceviche (the salsa is the base for this) so if you can get heirloom tomatoes, I'd definitely try this one out!

Heirloom Tomato Ecuadorian Salsa (with Shrimp)

Ingredients:
1/2 of a red onion, sliced thin
sea salt or kosher salt
2 heirloom tomatoes chopped in large chunks
2 mini seedless cucumbers chopped small
1/2 cup cilantro chopped
juice of one lime and half a lemon
salt and pepper to taste

What's Next:
Place sliced onion in a glass bowl.
Sprinkle about 1 tablespoon of salt over onion. Fill to top with cold water.
Mix onion in salt water and let sit covered 6 hours or overnight. This dilutes the strength of the onion flavor, and adds salt flavor to the finished product.
Next, mix remaining ingredients together and add drained onions.
The longer it sits, the more the flavors blend. This is delicious on top of fish, or anything grilled. I added some cooked shrimp to it and ate it for lunch. YUM, and here's the picture:

Here's why I'm writing Letters From Camp to my parents.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Alligators Under My Bed

Christine Rains is hosting a blog fest for a couple of days in honor of FEARLESS, her paranormal romance novella. 
So, I ask you : What Was Your Childhood Monster?
I'm quite sure there were alligators under my bed....
Click on the link to check out the other fabulous entries!
I think I had at least three or four monsters I battled, but I can tell you for sure that there was an alligator living under my bed. Forget the fact that I lived in NJ and not in a warmer climate like Florida. Completely disregard the fact there was carpeting under my bed and no water whatsoever. None of that mattered. I was sure without a doubt that there was an alligator living under my bed. Of course it was never there during the day; it only showed up after the lights went out, but it was there. Just ask me.
If, God forbid, I needed to get out of my bed once I was safely tucked in, kissed good night, and lights were out, this was a daunting task. It required talking myself into actually getting out of bed, throwing back the covers, and then making a giant leap from my bed directly to the hallway all in about 3.2 seconds. Lucky for me, it was probably only a 4 foot span, but it felt more like 7 feet. Alas, I made it every time and am even here to tell the tale.

Better than that, it gives me empathy when my kids tell me that they are sure, without a doubt, absolutely positive that there is an alligator/shark/monster/whatever hiding under the bed.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Letters From Camp: Reading And Writing


Dear Mom and Dad,
Well, you'll be happy to know that I've been keeping up with my reading this summer! My writing too, but more on that in a minute. Of course I had to indulge in the Fifty Shades series (I held out as long as I could but temptation and hype finally got the best of me), We Need to Talk About Kevin (I think every mother should read this one), I just finished 11/22/63 (Mom, I'm glad I talked you into that one), I just finished The Thirteenth Tale, and am starting on Gone Girl. I was going to try to read a book on the kindle app on my phone, but again, I'm sucked in by the hype of Gone Girl.
During one of our (expensive) forays in the book store, Abby spotted the book, Food in Jars. I've already made Blueberry Butter and have all kinds of ideas for future experimentation. Thanks to the two of you and all those years canning tomatoes and pickles, I do love "putting up" foods in the summer. If only it weren't so hot in my kitchen.
The kids have been reading too, and  a lot more than I did as a kid. Why is that? Did we not have the right books? Was there no time? Was I just not a reader then?
As for the writing, this is the fun part. Blogfest time is here, so I've signed up for Jeremy Bates' The Dog Days of Summer, Christine Rains' What Was Your Childhood Monster?, and Cassie Mae's What If? These are bound to be fun and great practice for writing: removing the cobwebs in my brain for my best summer memory, facing my fears and having fun with a fairy tale (Mom, this one was inspired by you).
Ooooh. Rest hour's over!
More later.
Love,
Me

Why I am writing Letters From Camp to my parents.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Letters From Camp: Wings Wednesday


Dear Mom and Dad,
Things must be getting boring in my kitchen because now the kids are coming up with dinner ideas! The plan was for these to be our summer meals, but I haven't been home to cook! Seriously, we're doing the camp to pool thing and until Alice shows up, it's just not happening. What I haven't decided yet is if I miss cooking.
Experimenting and playing in my kitchen, yes. A hot messy kitchen in 90+ degree weather, definitely not.

I have to say I admire their creativity though, just look at these ideas:
Meatball Monday
Taco Tuesday
Wings Wednesday (anything chicken)
Turkey Thursday (stuff that's related to turkey, like chicken)
Fun Filled Food Friday (I think this means filled foods, like tacos)

It seems like tacos and chicken fill up most of the week, with the exception of Monday. Clearly I need to get a bit more creative, but perhaps I should just feel lucky that they aren't requesting Chicken Cordon Bleu or Boeuf Bourginon (my French is rusty and I'm not even sure if I spelled those correctly!) Ah, the dilemma of dinner.
Rest hour is over. Talk soon!
Love,
Tracy

Here's why I'm writing Letters From Camp to my parents.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Letters From Camp: Valences Are Out


Dear Mom and Dad,
Wow. Summer must be for re-doing and rebuilding. Aside from massive amounts of small road construction that make my getting to-and-from camp mornings tricky to say the least, I've also taken on the refreshing of rooms in the house I've been talking about thinking about for months.
You know, the kind of thoughts where you look at a wall and say, "Wow, that room would be great if it was green." Which is often followed by, "It really shouldn't take me that long. A few nights at the most. All I need is a color, the paint, some brushes, rags, and oh yea, spackle and wood filler. I can do this."
And yes, after a week of basically not sleeping, wearing down three paint brushes and several shirts rags, finally realizing that valances aren't really in anymore, and admitting to myself that I much prefer the newness of a fresh color on a wall to painting trim. I have a new office. Isn't it pretty?
I love working in here and if it weren't for Trish, I probably would still have the pale green/grey that we've had for years along with all the nicks, dents, and severely outdated valences. Now, if I could just continue to make the time to actually sit in here and write. Regularly.
Rest hour is over. More soon.
Love,
Tracy

Here's why I'm writing Letters From Camp to my parents.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Letters From Camp: Swimming

Dear Mom and Dad,
This was a great week at camp! Both A and A began swimming strokes in their swim meets and they each have promise to build up a second stroke, which will lead to swimming more events in the meets. Big A is doing really well with back stroke and Little A is swimming butterfly. I love seeing him following in my footsteps.
With all of their busy sports activity during the school year, I love that they have the opportunity for a recreational swim team. They are challenged, meeting new people, trying new things, and it's all just for fun. They actually want to work hard for those ribbons.
And so here is the part where I get to say thank you. I pushed for them to be on a summer swim team because I was on one. I remember the camaraderie, the team cheers, the feeling of winning and wanting to improve and I remember Daddy tying each ribbon we won to a button on his shirt. It meant the world to me.
Thank you for giving me that experience so I can now give it to my kids.
Happy summer.
Love,
Tracy

Here's why I'm writing Letters From Camp to my parents.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Blogcation Anyone?


It was unintentional, but it happened. I've been away from the blogosphere for a month. Not just posting and writing, but reading too. I have to say that I miss the blogosphere, but the days poolside, cheering for my kids in swim meets, backyard barbecues, painting rooms, and just sky-gazing have been quite enjoyable. And the time has passed all too fast. Before I know it, I'll be shopping for school supplies.
Apparently, my absence has been noticed by my mother. Yes, I'm busy- I have three kids to manage, entertain, and corral through the summer and I'm not exactly sitting on the couch eating ice cream all day. Her comment observation did get me thinking though.
As a kid, I attended sleep away camp. The only way to communicate with my parents was by mail. Yes, the old fashioned kind complete with paper, pen, and a stamp. Maybe writing letters would be a good way to communicate with my parents during the summer. I could write to them at night, when the kids are in bed and I'm not fielding questions about who I'm talking to and what I'm talking about.
And so, with that, I'm writing my version of Letters From Camp; what I would tell my parents about my summer if I had a rest hour each day to talk write to them. And if they're reading my blog, maybe they'll write me a letter too (hint M&D: in the comments section), just like they did 30 years ago.

If you had a mandatory "rest hour" each day, would you write letters? Who would you write to and what would you say?

Thursday, June 21, 2012

A Reality Check And A Shout Out



If I were to be honest with myself, I could say that reality checks don't often happen for me. Not that I am avoiding reality, but quite the opposite. I feel I am living reality so intently every single day that there's nothing to check or better said, smack me blatantly and painfully in the face. I'm living it so it just melds into my daily routine.
Nine years ago when we opened a College Savings account for my daughter, 17 years later seemed so far away that it wasn't, to borrow some intelligent person's wording, looking at me blatantly in the face. Nine years and one Fourth Grade Farewell ceremony later, here I am being smacked blatantly and painfully in the face. If time continues moving in the same direction, forward, and at the same pace, 24 hours in a day, college will be here some time around, oh, Saturday. Oooops.
I remember working hard in the summers during college and thinking I was all set to start the semester. Then, I went to the bookstore to buy my books. 90% of what I had saved was gone. What about my parents, you ask? Well, they were paying for tuition, and I really thought that was plenty, so I never asked them for book money or spending money; their bills were a lot higher than mine. 
So, now, thankfully, there are other options for that hard earned summer money than buying books that are just discarded at the end of the semester. Here's the shout out part: Campus Book Rentals. With all sorts of perks, like 40% off text books prices, free shipping, a book buy-back program, and even donations from each rental to Operation Smile, I can think of many other places to spend that hard-earned summer money.
So, if you're panicking about how slowly quickly college shows up, here's one way to get some help. And, if you know of any others, let me know. I'm halfway there and Reality is Checking me out!

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Ask, And You Just Might Get It

Black Raspberry ice cream happily sitting in chocolate sauce
My Mother's Day post is arriving closer to Father's Day but that's because I've been busy making ice cream! For the first time in ten years I actually made a request for Mother's Day, but  let me back up a minute and explain.
I've had some great Mother's Days in my short tenure as Mommy. Sleeping in and brunch in Manhattan. Breakfast in bed and new spring wardrobes. This year though, I was on a mission.
I've been wanting an ice cream machine for over 15 years; ever since I put one on our wedding registry. I didn't get one then, and as often as I've mentioned it since then, and hinted, it still had not materialized. Not this year. I had a plan.
I got smart and told my two oldest kids, "When Daddy asks, tell him that Mommy really wants an ice cream machine for Mother's Day." They liked the idea as much as I did. I wanted to spend my Mother's Day playing in my kitchen with my kids, making ice cream.
I got the machine, and a wake up that felt like Christmas morning. I went to the store to get the right ingredients and almost immediately put my new machine to work. As with so many new kitchen toys, there were some lessons learned. Lesson one was food related: make sure the bowl is frozen for a full 24 hours.

But lesson two was a life lesson: I was finally able to really appreciate Mother's Day.

In the early years, all I wanted on Mother's Day was a day off from being a mother. I wanted to sleep in, I didn't want to cook or do a single "chore", and I wanted to escape from the very reasons that made me a mother. Sad? Perhaps. Brutally truthful? Definitely. This year though, was different.
With a day job (writing), more independent children, and an online community to compliment the one immediately surrounding me, I finally feel balanced. Some for me, some for everyone else. The result; wanting nothing more than to spend my day with the three young people who give me reason to celebrate Mother's Day in the first place.
Have you had any big life lessons lately? Is there a gift you've received, and then realized there was an even bigger gift just waiting to be realized? Have you ever made homemade ice cream?

Saturday, June 16, 2012

What If Book Stores Went Away?

I'm in that crazy place where right now I'm trying to keep up with a live Twitter chat from IndieChicks, write an article for my day job, plan out a couple of posts for Perfect Picture Books, and survive through this murky place where school is ending, summer is starting and there is so much crossover for my kids activities, it could make your head spin. In a few weeks, the transition will be over and I'll be watching fireworks over the NYC skyline. But, before that happens, there is an important day coming up. Save the Book Stores Day on June 16th.
See, we writers, readers, and parents can build platforms, write blog posts, tweet, "like", bloghop and Pin to our heart's content as we create and promote our writing, but what good is it all if there is no place to put those books? Bookstores are more than just a place to go in, buy a book and leave. These are the places where my kids learn about new authors, leaf through a book and decide whether or not they want to buy it, authors give live readings and share autographs, people in the store share what they've read lately and what they would recommend. Bookstores have an alter ego of being a community meeting place, just like an ice cream store.
In this video, Maria Bartiromo interviews Ann Patchett about why she decided to open a book store in her city.  People told her books stores were dying and were a wasted investment. What she's found is that people love bookstores. They are a community in their own rite and really, the smaller the better. I agree with everything Patchett says and while the online booksellers have their place, so do bookstores. So, if you can't get into your local bookstore today, place an order online or make a phone call to have a book held for you. And, if you're not sure of what to read, here are some of the books I've read in the past year that I'd recommend, as well as other I just continuously recommend to people. Not sure if it's the right book for you? Hop into the bookstore and read a few pages, then decide.
Micro
The Confession
We Need To Talk About Kevin
Long Drive Home
The Book Thief
Al Capone Does My Shirts (read this with my 8 year old son)
Mockingbird (read this with my 10 year old daughter)
Room
The Girl Who Fell From The Sky
The Story of Beautiful Girl
The Colorado Kid
Bel Canto
Noah's Compass
Sacred
Moonlight Mile
Forever
A Drinking Life
Duma Key

Friday, June 15, 2012

Perfect Picture Books: Dinosoaring

I have truly enjoyed participating in Perfect Picture Book Fridays, started by Susanna Hill, this past fall. Aside from meeting a great online community, it's been a wonderful excuse to get new books from the library, re-read books I hadn't read with my kids in a couple of years, and buy new books in the bookstore. Speaking of new books.... next week, a new book will be released from Deb Lund, illustrated by Howard Fine, that continues her DinoAdventures! The title is DINOSOARING and it's the book I've chosen for this week. Deb has graciously agreed to give away one autographed copy of DINOSAILING and All Aboard the Dinotrain to two lucky winners from my contest. Click here to see my interview with Deb and the giveaway. Feel free to share with friends- it's open to anyone and the more the merrier!



Title: DINOSOARING
Written by: Deb Lund
Illustrated by: Howard Fine
Publisher: Harcourt Children's Books, June 2012
Suitable for: Ages 3 and up
Themes/Topics: Dinosaurs, flying airplanes, adventures, teamwork
Opening: From the book:
In dinogoggles, scarves, and gear,
They board the airplane from the rear. 
The crew's so squished inside that space,
They can't can't fit one more foot or face.
Brief Synopsis: As usual, these adventurous dinosaurs just can't sit still. They work together to get an airplane in the air and join an airshow. But when the bad weather and clouds create some turbulence, it's parachutes to the rescue.
Links to resources: Paper airplanes. There was a time we had about 50 flying all around at once, and this is the website my son used. It's really good with great instructions.
Why I chose this book: One of my goals (from what would now be called a bucket list that I made in my twenties) was to learn how to fly a plane.  My kids think they can fly. I figure that between the capes my kids have worn, and my own desire to learn how to fly a plane, we are just like these dinosaurs. This is our kind of book! I'll just add here too that I think these are the best illustrations from all three books. Vivid colors and big, bright imagery. It's a wonderful book!

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Meeting Deb Lund And A Giveaway!


There's a new picture book about to hit the shelves and I've been waiting for this day for about 5 years. No joke.
I have two boys. They love trains and dinosaurs. We started with All Aboard the Dinotrain a couple of years ago. This was the perfect book. At the end of a very adventurous train ride, the dinosaurs almost immediately ponder flying a plane for their next adventure. So...these fearless dinosaurs are finally taking their adventures to the sky in DINOSOARING, which will be released on June 19th.
I was so excited, but even more exciting is that I had a chance to speak with Deb Lund about the dinoadventures she's created in this trilogy and how they came to be that way.  I think I'm hooked in dinoland!


Me:  What inspired you to write about dinosaurs and their adventures?

Deb: I sailed with the Shifty Sailors, a maritime singing group, from Seattle to Olympia WA. We took the train on the way home. I always say writing is part imagination and part memory. That’s about the only memory that came from that trip, other than getting very dizzy from the sailing. I’m grateful I didn’t get as sick as my dinos!

I knew these adventurers had to be dinos, because kids love them. When I was an elementary librarian, kids would check out stacks of dinosaur books, and I’ll never forget one first grader who came to the library every day to check out new ones. He said, “I have to take these home because my family doesn’t know anything about dinosaurs.”
Sounds like a very smart first grader and I love that you were a librarian!

Me: As someone who has tried writing in rhyme, it’s quite difficult (at least for me). How do you do it? Do the words and meter just flow or is it a long editing process?

Deb: I do often hear the rhyme with the correct meter already in place, but it’s always a long editing process, no matter how quickly the original lines come to me. Each dinobook could probably rival Shakespeare’s longest sonnets in length if the finished books contained all the stanzas that got cut. I can be neurotic about rhyme and meter, and I don’t settle for “close” with either.
My biggest suggestion is to read each line aloud separately as if you were saying it in natural conversation. Then ask yourself these questions. Where do the stressed syllables really fall? Are you including any words just because they rhyme? Are they "real" rhymes? (Ground does not rhyme with Down.) Does each line further the story?
Excellent advice. I might have to try it again.

Me:  What future adventures do you see for these very active and fun dinosaurs?

Deb: The next dinobook will come out from Beach Lane Books, an imprint of Simon & Schuster, and I’ll just give you a hint, since that’s what I usually do at the end of the dinobooks (but not in DINOSOARING!). There will be sirens (you’ll have to make your own noise) and red!
I get suggestions for dinobooks from kids at school author visits, and they’re always fun, especially the illustrated ones. I do hope to eventually see these gargantuan goofballs take off in a rocket!
That would be really cool! My 4 year old's class built a cardboard rocket ship
 and had many, many adventures!

Me:   Your earlier book, Monsters on Machines, received excellent reviews on Goodreads. Do you foresee more stories about Monsters? As the mother of two boys, we love monsters as much as we love dinosaurs!

Deb: Gory Gorbert, Stinky Stuff, Dirty Dugg, and Melvina say thanks for this question! They get a little perturbed at all the dinothis and dinothat. “After all,” says Melvina. “We’re the ones who got a starred review in Publisher’s Weekly!” She gets a little miffed from time to time, but when PW says MONSTERS ON MACHINES “…has just about everything a child could hope for…” I guess you can’t blame her. They say thanks for making their day!
So glad I made their day! 
Thanks Deb for your time, thoughts, words of advice, and keeping the adventures going!


And now, for the really fun extra special part! Deb has agreed to personalize and sign a copy of DINOSAILORS and All Aboard the Dinotrain for two lucky winners! YAY! 
Here's how it will work. I'll randomly choose two people from all the commenters, with one entry per commenter. Deadline will be midnight Sunday, June 17, EDT. 

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Fifth Grade Was A Big Year

For both my FIRST FIGHT, and my FIRST KISS... Hey, there's a blog hop for that!

When I first saw this First Fight/First Kiss bloghop, launched by Danielle at Entertaining Interests and Jackie at Bouquet of Books, I was in! My reasoning? I remember both of these events well. Both happened in the same school year, but I can't remember which one came first, and apparently 5th grade was a big year for me.
Let's start with the first fight: 
By nature, I'm not a fighter, and I'm not confrontational. If anything, I've been called a "fixer." But, I clearly remember that somewhere around second grade all the other kids in my grade kept growing, and I didn't . Well, I did, but just not at the same pace. The teasing started shortly there after and there was plenty of teasing to be done. I was short (still am) and my last (maiden) name (MacDonald) gave people plenty of content for teasing. I'll start with the original: Small Fry, and it just went on from there. So, one day, in 5th grade, when Vinnie Roslyn walked up to me, hunched over and put his hands on his knees to meet me at eye level, I had had enough. I punched him in the nose (he was at eye level, remember?) and gave him a bloody nose. Guess who got in trouble and was reprimanded by the tallest, and only, male teacher in school? That's right, yours truly, but it was worth it. There was no more teasing about my size after that, and at one point kids started singing the old jingle from Wrangler jeans when I walked by. Anyone remember it? Here comes Wrangler Tracy, and she's one tough customer.... 
Ah, on to the first kiss:
So, now you know I was on the tougher side (I had to be) and I was also very much a Tomboy. So, after school when a bunch of us, girls and boys, would hang out with our bikes and play by the stream, there was one day that was very different. Tom G and I walked over to an old tree that had fallen and created a bridge over the stream. (We'd been friends for years, in fact there were a bunch of us, all extended neighborhood kids) We each sat astride the tree, closed eyes, and somehow made it to each other's lips for about .00005 seconds. It happened faster than a blink, but I remember being on a cloud that day as I walked ran home from school and came into the house with the biggest smile on my face. I'm not sure if I told my mom or not, but it was a great day.

PS- So, apparently we were supposed to be using something from a WIP for the blog hop. I didn't realize that. I think I'll blame it on end of school year craziness. Yup. That sounds good. Either way, I love both of these stories, so I'm not going to change them, but instead will relish in making a mistake being different.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Perfect Picture Books- Dinosailors

Wow. I took a couple of weeks off from Perfect Picture Books because, well, *eyes downcast* I felt guilty. It's been a busy few weeks in A2ZMommyland so while I was able to post books to my blog, I was not able to get back to view others posts, and it just didn't seem fair to not be able to give back. But, here I am back with a book, and lots planned for this coming week! YAY! I know, I know, you're excited too. But first things first; the book for this week: Dinosailors


Title: Dinosailors
Written by: Deb Lund
Illustrated by: Howard Fine
Publisher: Harcourt Inc. 2003
Suitable for: Ages 3 and up
Themes/Topics: Sailing, adventure, trying new things, returning home
Opening: "Dinosailors at the slip/ Cry out, "Ahoy!" and board their ship. They swab the deck, stow dinogear/ Ignoring clouds that linger near."
Brief Synopsis: Full of confidence and ready for an adventure, the dinosaurs we meet are tired of land and ready for the ocean. But, as their adventure continues, they are exhausted from a lot of work and realize that the ocean is not always calm. The conclusion: home is where they really want to be. Until they see a train....
Links to resources: A Google search for "sailing activities" turns up some interesting results, none of which fit what I was looking for here. But, knowing my own kids, and since it's summer, I think the best activity would be to give kids a sailboat and a couple of toy dinosaurs to play with in the pool and see what happens with that boat. Ooooh, I think I just came up with an activity for the weekend!
Why I chose this book: I just love this band of dinosaurs. These guys are so adventurous, but what I love the most is that despite their adventures, they are always happy to come back home.

As for the rest of the week, I promise to keep this brief. About a month ago, I received an email from Deb Lund (yes, the same author who is listed here) telling me how much she enjoyed my review of All Aboard the Dinotrain. Deb doesn't know this, but I felt so incredibly special that she commented; she's the one who wrote the amazing story!
Anyway, we did some emailing, had a conversation, and later this week I'll have the wonderful pleasure of sharing an interview with her as well as a peek at the next book in the Dinosaur trilogy: Dinosoaring! It's due to be released on June 16th (Save the Bookstores Day) and it's just as great as the first two.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Summer Start? Oh Yeah!

My first taste of summer last weekend was quite enjoyable. Anyone else? Aside from the "honey do" list floating around our house, and passed back and forth between me and my husband, we had the pleasure of having our first full-on family barbecue, the first roasting of marshmallows, and our first trip to the pool for the summer. This last little bit was what got me.
Summer. Pool. Change of mindset.
Summer is my reward for the rest of the school year. Not just the driving around and the homework, but the special projects, helping out in school, planning meals and keeping track of schedules. Knowing that it's imperative to get all my work done before the kids get home from school, when my time becomes their time. So, here I was, at the pool, having some time that I think I needed more than I realized.
I only have a handful of hobbies: reading, knitting, and cooking. That's really it, which is good because unless I clone myself there is no time for others. Plus, I can enjoy these even when my kids are around; for the most part, and let's be clear here: everyone usually benefits from my cooking trials.
So, I sat. And read. Not just one, but two cooking magazines. And then the next day, I read two more! Aside from a growing grocery list and visions of playing in my kitchen, I think I actually relaxed. I wasn't near a computer, staring at a pile of laundry to fold, or picking up stray Lego pieces that I knew would be painful if left on the floor and stepped on. It's not the summer vacation Kristen Lamb and so many of us miss, but it's a new version of vacation, and I'll take it.
Time stood still for an afternoon while I sat in a lounge chair and watched my kids swim. Yes, I gave some time early on freezing in the pool with my youngest. But once he found the little pool and two friends, I was able to warm up and keep reading.
I have a vision of my summer and so far, it's looking great.
Is your summer off to a good start? Do you miss summer vacations from childhood? Do you find summer relaxing or more stressful?