Tuesday, February 28, 2012

There's Nothing Like The Smell Of...

Pancakes in the morning. That's right, today is National Pancake Day. YUM! YAY! And all that good stuff.
In honor of the day, my kids were so excited, I actually made pancakes for breakfast this morning, which is something I stopped doing on school days several years ago. With three kids to get dressed, three lunches to prepare, two snacks, and whatever papers are floating around the house that need to go into back packs, there just isn't time. But today was a special day so I decided to be supermom and make pancakes.
And, as is normal with my kids, one required chocolate chips, the other refused the fake syrup (high fructose corn syrup) and opted for powdered sugar instead, and the third decided on oatmeal. :)
Happy National Pancake Day!!!

Friday, February 24, 2012

Perfect Picture Books- Goodnight iPad

So, it's Perfect Picture Book Friday, and I was torn between two books. One is another body book and the other was this book, Goodnight iPad. I'll have to admit that as much as I do love technology (would be totally lost without it) we all get a little too addicted, at least in my family. But, I love what this book does. It presents reality in a parody and I actually laughed reading it to my kids. So, in the spirit of laughing at myself, and my own addiction to technology, I present you with Goodnight iPad.

Title: Goodnight iPad
Written and Illustrated by: Ann Droyd/ David Milgrim
Published by Blue Rider Press, 2011
Suitable for: Children and Adults
Theme/Topics:  Humor, bed time, technology
Overview/Synopsis: It's time to unplug and say good night.
Activities: Ask kids what things they can say good-night too. Would it just be electronics or toys too? Parents, grand parents, siblings, Legos?
Why I Chose This Book: A sucker for anything funny, I picked it up mostly as a joke. But as I read through it, laughing of course, it does represent where we are now and actually helped me get my kids into bed one night.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Back On The Mat- First Campaigner Challenge

Shadows crept across the wall. They were familiar and daunting all the same. My competition. 
Leaner, stronger, and better prepared gymnasts. They hadn’t suffered the fall and recovery at the end of last season.
I did. 
And I was back, but I wasn’t sure I was ready.
I stepped on to the corner of the mat.  
Presenting myself to the judges with the brightest smile I could muster, I breathed in, held it, and finally exhaled. Taking my opening position, I waited for the music to begin.
The cellos started in the background. I counted: six, seven, eight. I raised my arms up over my head and reached. 
Boom came the drums; I started running across the mat.
“Do it!” I heard my coach call out.
Running. Roundoff, handspring, handspring, tuck. I landed. Solid. I smiled. The music continued as did my routine. Leaps, splits, aerials. It was back; my momentum, power, speed, and confidence. My orange and black leotard ablaze in the lights.
My accident on the bars was well behind me.
I started running for my final tumbling pass. My count was off, I missed a step, and now for the second time in my life, everything faded.
(200 words)

**this story is dedicated to my daughter who inspired me to get back into gymnastics

The challenge, from Rach Writes: Write a short story/flash fiction story in 200 words or less, excluding the title. It can be in any format, including a poem. Begin the story with the words, “Shadows crept across the wall”. These five words will be included in the word count. 
If you want to give yourself an added challenge (optional), do one or more of these:
·                     end the story with the words: "everything faded." (also included in the word count)
·                     include the word "orange" in the story
·                     write in the same genre you normally write
·                     make your story 200 words exactly!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

So I Entered A Blog Hop

And this is what happened.
I wrote two pieces, one I published, the other I did not. I liked them both but for different reasons. In the end, I posted something totally different from what was expected. Not atypical for me but perhaps worth mentioning.
Thank you to everyone who read my post and big, huge, enormous THANK YOU to Hope who gave me the Where is My Kleenex award. That's exactly how I felt on the day I wrote about, so I guess something worked out.
For a first blog hop, this was a great experience so I'm jumping in feet first and trying some more!
In March, there is Mark's St. Patrick's Day Blog Hop and for April I've entered Arlee Bird's A to Z Challenge.
Now, to get the idea milling around in my head for this month's 12 x 12 in 12 challenge out of my head and on to paper. Yes, I always write on paper first.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Perfect Picture Books- Inside Your Outside

Last night I had the opportunity to do something that I don't often get to do; I had dessert with my youngest son, just the two of us. Our conversation went like this:
Me: What's your favorite color?
Z: Red
Me: What's your favorite meal?
Z: Macaroni and cheese.
Me: What's your favorite toy?
Z: Lighting McQueen
Me: What's your favorite book?
Z: Stuck

Stuck is the book I posted last week and there is nothing like finding a book your child loves and asks to have read over and over again. So, for this week's Perfect Picture Book, a fabulous series started by Susanna Hill, I've chosen another one of his favorite books. With Dr. Seuss's birthday so close, this just seems way too appropriate, and I just couldn't wait. Enjoy!

Title: Inside Your Outside
Written by:Trish Rabe
Illustrated by: Aristides Ruiz
Published by Random House, 2003
Suitable for: Ages 3 and up
Theme/Topics:  Human body, health, adventure
Overview/Synopsis: From the publisher... The Cat in the Hat takes Sally and Dick for a ride through the human body where they visit the right and left sides of the brain, meet the Feletons from far off Fadin (when they stand in the sun you can see through their skin) scuba dive through the blood system, follow food and water through the digestive tract, and a whole lot more! 
Activities:  The publisher lists activities here. For us, we just read the book and talk about the body parts and look at bones and the heart and the brain. Total fun!
Why I Chose This Book: I have several books in this series, which is modeled after the PBS show. This is the one story that my main picture book "reader" always comes back to. The rhyming and Dr. Seuss-inspired illustrations make for a fun and educational story all about the human body. My kids are learning without even realizing it.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

I Made It!

Whew! I made it- well almost. The week isn't over yet, but I'm almost there. I survived Valentine's Day (75 Valentines for three kids), the 100th Day of school, Mardi Gras (which involved breaking out my sewing machine for my daughter) and my first Blog Hop.  Valentine's Day was my 2 year anniversary writing the Crock It! recipes for MyVeronaNJ and as much as I wanted to write something about Valentine's Day or the two year anniversary, none of that happened. What's still to go? A Perfect Picture Book post for Friday and attending the "Rap of the Presidents" on Friday morning where my daughter will be rapping and doing cartwheels in honor of Presidents Day.
And in the midst of it all, I was given then Kreative Blogger Award, all thanks to Jenny Young over at Castles in the Sky. Thanks Jen! Head on over to her blog and make a visit.

So, receiving the Kreativ Blogger award means I have a few things to share with you all:
1. Name your favorite song:
You Get What You Give (New Radicals)
2. Name your favorite dessert:
Creme Brulee (the worst one I had was in Paris- go figure)
3. What ticks me off:
Slow drivers (really? who has that much time?)
4. When I’m upset I:
Play out what I feel and would say through music (singing out loud in the car by myself)
5. What’s your favourite pet:
Our dog, KT (named after the subway stop in Brooklyn where she was found)
6. Black or white:
Black (stains don't show as much)
7. Biggest Fear:
Forgetting one of my kids (I have 3)
8. Everyday attitude:
General Happiness (it takes a lot to make me angry)
9. What is perfection:
Knowing who you are and what you're meant to be (totally not there)
10. Guilty Pleasure:
Apple pie for breakfast (YUM!)

7 Random Things About Me:
My favorite color is blue
I need to read in order to fall asleep
I love roasting marshmallows 
I love watching a thunderstorm from my front porch
I am a self-proclaimed workaholic
Cinnamon milkshake from Smashburger- my new favorite food
I was lost until I started writing

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

I Missed You More Than I Thought Possible

It had only been a week since last seeing each other. We knew in advance the time would be spent apart and that it would be good for both of us. In the almost ten years we'd been together, we had never spent more than two days apart, and that only happened twice; well, three times if you count the first time, which I don't.

We had no communication during that week apart. No phone calls, no emails, no texting. The only handwritten letters were mine. I received none in return. There were no feelings of anger on my end; I knew my letters had been received and were appreciated.

Our individual weeks were busy. New things to do, new people to meet, summer weather to enjoy. We were looking forward to our reunion, but I had not expected the intensity with which it had occurred. We are both affectionate but not overbearing. Needy only on occasion. Tears filled my eyes; a rarity when it comes to my own children.

I held on to my daughter and she to me as if we hadn't seen each other in years. We broke apart and I held her face in my hands, kissed her cheek and just stayed there. Embracing her warm summer skin, feeling her hair in my eyes. Holding all of her so close to me and not wanting to let go. I breathed in and finally pulled away. A little. Then I held on some more.

Today, Valentine's Day is not about a romantic dinner for me and my husband (service and food are often compromised anyway) it's become more about my kids. Giving them a little treat in the morning when they wake up, maybe making their favorite meal, and of course addressing what will this year be about 75 individual class valentines. That said, when choosing to participate in the Valentine's Day Blog Hop, I knew going in that my content would be different from other entries, but I felt the story was worth sharing as an intense kiss can come in many forms.  Click on the link above or the picture to read all the fabulous entries for hop!

Friday, February 10, 2012

Perfect Picture Books- Stuck

Title: Stuck
Written and Illustrated by: Oliver Jeffers
Published by Philomel Books, 2011
Suitable for: Ages 3 and up
Theme/Topics: Problem solving, humor, chain reactions
Overview/Synopsis: From the publisher: "When Floyd's kite gets stuck in a tree, he tries to knock it down with increasingly larger and more outrageous things." The story continues with Floyd becoming very creative about ways to get his kite down. When it finally comes down, he has this nagging feeling that he's forgotten something. What could he have forgotten?
Activities: Ask kids how they would get something out that is stuck in a tree. I bet there could be some very funny responses from that one.
Why I Chose This Book: I went to the library looking for two other books, and stumbled up on this one. Considering the amount of items that have ended up in the trees in my back yard, and the various items and methods used to try to remove said items, this books seems like it could have been written by one of my own kids. Enjoy!

For more Perfect Picture Books, visit Susanna Hill's blog- the resources are amazing and I've found some wonderful children's picture books from my fellow contributors. Our current favorite is, I'd Really Like to Eat a Child.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

World Book Night


Yay! I just found out that I've been accepted to participate in World Book Night. This program started last year in the UK and just this year has been extended to the United States.
In short: on April 23rd, 50,000 people readers will be giving away 20 books each to light or non-readers, for a total of 1 million books. I could just hang here and say, "Yay Me" but there's more to it than that. No need for tissues, but as a mother, writer, and reader, I think it's important to explain why I wanted so much to participate in this amazing event.
The first time I had an essay published, my father said to me, "How great is that!? It's amazing that you're a writer when you could barely read." This story was new to me at the time, but it turns out that in second grade, when everyone else could read, I could not. Needless to say, it was the start of some serious catching up.
Over the years, my reading did improve, but was never quite matched my classmates. I had trouble finding books I enjoyed and once I exhausted my mother's collection of Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew mysteries, I was at a loss for what to read. It stayed that way for a long time. Both of my parents and my sister were big readers, and still are. It was very difficult being the only non-reader in the family.
At some point in my early twenties I picked up a copy of It, by Stephen King. I was immediately hooked. (Now I would call it an "ignore your kids and stay up too late" book.) After that I read The Tommyknockers, Pet Sematary, and Needful Things. I was hooked, not just on Stephen King, but on reading as well. Eventually I expanded my reading bookshelf to other authors: Barbara Kingsolver, Isabel Allende, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Laura Esquivel, Dennis Lehane, James Patterson, John Grisham, James Michener, Michael Crichton, and Pete Hamill to name just a few. Now, 20 years later, people ask me what I'm reading and what they should read. It's amazing. My kids love reading too and as a parent, I've worked hard to help them continue to find books they love so they keep reading. 
For me, World Book Night is an opportunity to help a non-reader find the right book to become a reader. One of the books from which to choose is The Stand, by Stephen King, which I read and loved. Reading transports me to another place, even if I can only stay awake long enough to be there for a paragraph or two. Everyone should have that opportunity; sometimes it's just a matter of finding the right book.

PS- If I ever get the opportunity, I'd love to thank Mr. King in person. But for now, I'll have to just have to thank him via the cyber world, which is no replacement of the real world, but it's the best I can do. Thank you for sparking my love of reading. I've got 11/22/63 on my bookshelf, just waiting to be read.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

The Liebster Award (I'm Blushing)

I am proud and honored to say that I have been awarded the Liebster Award from Beth Stilborn, fellow author, blogger, 12 X 12 participant and Perfect Picture Book participant.  I haven't met Beth but we do cross paths regularly on Fridays. Beth, I love reading your blog and am honored to have received this award from you!

What is a Liebster you ask????

“Liebster is a German word, meaning dearest or beloved, but it can also mean favorite. The idea behind the Liebster Blog Award is that it is given to bloggers who have less than 200 followers in order to create new connections and bring attention to these wonderful blogs!”

As Uncle Ben said in the movie Spider Man, "With great power, comes great responsibility." I'm going to adjust that a bit, and say that with a great honor, comes great responsibility. So, now for my responsibilities as a recipient of this award. 

Thank the person who gave it to me: Thank you again Beth!

Here are five random things about me that you probably didn't know. Let me just say here that this is proving more difficult than I thought as I have shared so much about myself on this blog:

  • I'm a sucker for just about anything from Stephen King
  • While the term "foodie" didn't exist when I was in high school, I'm realizing that I've been one for a very long time. 
  • If I had a live-in foot masseuse I would never leave home.
  • I learned that I am claustrophobic the hard way- scuba diving in Australia.
  • Age is just a number. How do I know that? I can still (at 41) do a round off back handspring in gymnastics and I LOVE it!
Here are the five blogs to check out and to whom I will pass on this award:
*I wish I had more time to read and follow more blogs, but in all of these, I love the humor, the illustrations and writing, and that I am clearly not the only performing the daily juggling act. 
The Lucky 13s
Jersey Girl Draws
Christie's Scribbles and Stitches
Castles in the Sky
Writing With Hope

Friday, February 3, 2012

Perfect Picture Books- Monster Countdown

It's Perfect Picture Book Friday! This book is one of my favorites because with the following of monsters and counting backwards, the story never gets old! Enjoy!

Title:Monster Countdown
Written by: Pamela Jane
Illustrated by: Nick Zarin-Ackerman
Published by Mondo Publishing, 2001
Suitable for: Ages 3-7.
Theme/Topics: Monsters, counting, fun
Overview/Synopsis: "My house is full of monsters. They keep me on the run. Ready for the countdown? Let's go from ten to one!" The story continues following a child around the house as the monsters are frolicking and counted down.
Activities: What I usually do with this book is count the monsters on each page. Talk about the colors and the funny hiding places.
Why I Chose This Book: This book came from an author visit and it was a great choice. The rhymes are cute and the pictures are fun. We do love the counting and I think it has helped my son with learning his numbers.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

12 X 12 IN 12- January

I surprised even myself with this one. As January quickly came to a close, I didn't think my first 12x12in12 manuscript would happen. The up(and down)side of having an entire month to write a Picture Book manuscript is that while there always seemed to be plenty of time early in the month, time does move on and then all of a sudden it's January 30th. And there was no manuscript, at least until about 11p.m. that night.
I have said before, I am Mommy first, writer second. I suppose the beauty of that is I had plenty of inspiration for what I wrote, and once I sat down with pad and paper, the words and story line flowed. It's by no means ready for public viewing but it's done for now. A complete story born of vacation time with the grandparents and my children's love of both mystery and desserts.