Sunset and Inspiration

I did try to edit this video so that everything turned the proper way…unfortunately I don’t know enough about video editing yet to have done a really good job. If you can ignore the fact that I’m sideways, however, I think the content is pretty solid. Especially since I got the idea and recorded on the spur of the moment without an outline or much of an inkling as to what I would say.

In this video I mention my first novel, Dragon on My Neck. During this month (December 2015) my books will all be available for free e-book download, at various points, through my amazon author’s page so be sure to check those out as well. The 4th book in The Stone Dragon Saga will be available sometime during the first few months of 2016 so now is great time to get caught up on the story thus far!

Next time I’ll try to do a better job of watching camera angles!

 

Screen Free???

I’ve been noticing lately how much time my child spends either asking to watch a movie/Netflix, or actually watching a movie/Netflix. You want to know what I found out? Here’s a hint…it’s more than I would said if you had asked a few weeks ago.

How much more?? A LOT! (Today a drawer got stuck and she asked if it had run out of batteries. :/ )

I’ve been working on writing, crafting, sewing, and so forth…and time slips away from me. Which is not excuse, I agree. When I tell her she can watch ONE EPISODE I need to pay attention and turn it off as soon as the credits roll. Sometimes, even when I’ve been sitting with her for the entire show, I don’t even realize that the episode has tolled over into the next. My focus isn’t just split, it’s almost completely gone.

The bottom line is, I need to do a better job. I watch where she’s at and make sure she isn’t playing near or with anything that could injure her. Now I need to make sure she isn’t just on the television all the time. In order to do that, I need to set a better example.

I’m rarely watching shows at the moment. Usually when I watch a show, I’m crafting or writing at the same time. It’s background for me, and often includes an element that I’m writing about. But she’s just almost 3 and, while whip-smart and gorgeous (she takes after he mother!), she isn’t mature enough (at all) to understand that Mommy’s job is to be on technology, but hers it to play.

How do I fix that? Well, Mommy’s job is to write and to craft and to PLAY WITH HER MONKEY! All things I can do without the computer or the television.

I thought there might be another parent or two (or auntie, uncle, grandparent, etc) out there that could be struggling with this same issue. No matter the child’s age, you can find non-tech things to do with them. In that spirit, here is a list of things to do with your children that does not involve staring at technology.

Quick Note: Please don’t be afraid! I promise that public places, sunlight, fresh air, real honest to goodness hold in your hands physical toys and books, glue, glitter, paper, etc are all fairly safe for your family. In fact, before the past 20 or so years happened, they were ALL THE RAGE for hundreds of years!

Screen Free Activities:

1) Pull out that old CD player (or if you’re lucky enough, tape/8-track/vinyl record player), blow the dust off the old cases, and have a ‘retro’ dance party! Kids from 0-Adult will pretend to be disgusted and embarrassed, and then will begin to emulate your moves.

2) Play dress up! Get out your old clothes, silly party favor wiggly headbands, etc. and dress up. OR Pick out outfits for each other and then have a fashion show.

3) Take the kid(s) thrift shopping, downtown to the cute local stores shopping, or to some other area of shops you have either always wanted to check out or have enjoyed without the little whirlwinds. Make sure its not a china shop, and go for it! Thrift shops are a great source for dress up items and cool painting projects! Combine #1-3 for an EPIC DAY that will have everyone forgetting their lack of screens.

4) Find nearby museums, petting zoos, kid zones, etc. There are more than you think and they often go unnoticed in our day to day existences. Search them out, drag the kids, and watch the fun happen. They won’t even realize they learned something in the process.

5) Art projects: This can be as simple as grabbing a few large sheets of paper, several colors of whatever drawing utensil you prefer (i.e. crayon, colored pencil, marker, finger paints), and the kids. Lay out on the floor, and CREATE! Add glitter, cut and paste objects, etc to create something unique and special. Then either frame them or just tape them up in a display area. Make a habit of it, change the artwork out, and save what you take down to either make a memory book from, or have screen printed on material for quilts etc. Or just, you know, use material to begin with.

6) Purchase plain material, fabric markers or paints, and embellishments. Have everyone take a piece or a section of the material, and let them decorate! The material can then be made into whatever you want it to be.

7) Story Time: Make up stories, write stories, read your books. Take a huge bag of books, some water bottles, a few apples (or snacks), and a big blanket. Sit outside and read together. Read to each other, read to the wind, read to yourselves, but read together.

8) Make a blanket fort. read in there. Play board games in the fort. Sleep in the fort.

9) WATER BALLOON FIGHT!!!!!!! (’nuff said)

10) I don’t care how old the kids are…go play at the park. Seriously, Go. Now. Play. SLIDE

11) Go to the Lake. Build a fire. Eat S’mores. Crack Jokes. Sing Songs. LIVE

12) Learn how to turn a cartwheel. Think you still know how? Try. Now raise your hand if your kid needs to re-teach you when they can stop laughing and breath again.

13) Cook together. I know, I know. I can hear the toddler moms and the parents of teenage boys all lamenting about messes and knives. Here’s the deal…if I pick up after her, my Monkey forgets that she needs to pick up after herself pretty quickly. But the days I make her help me clean, she loves playing the cleaning games and she remembers how to put things away for a while afterwards. And the mixing, measuring, spooning, baking parts of how the mess got made? “Forget about it!” She created a baking song that she now sings when in her play kitchen. It goes something like “Mix, mix, mix, mix, OH I’M SO HAPPY! MOMMY AND ME MIX MIX BECAUSE I’M SO HAPPY! Mix, mix, mix, mix, mix, mix” (she also begged until someone got her one of those little miniature wire whisks. She has to be able to mix in her mini-bowls you know!) Go, cook with them, teach them, learn from them. Make your own pizza and put down that take-out menu!

There are hundreds of ideas out there for things to do without using screens. I’m not saying you can’t ever watch anything again. Please, I’m on the computer, looking at the screen while I type this! Just watch what you’re doing, see how many hours you are ok’ing for your family. Make sure they (and you) know what the most important things are in life. Because I promise you, the screen can be replaced if it breaks. It’s probably going to be a lot more difficult to replace the bridges we burned while everyone concentrated on the smart phone, tablet, laptop, and television instead of on their family.

May your life be blessed and full of love. May your inspiration never run dry, and your bridges stay firm.

I look forward to hearing from you all!

WELCOME TO 2015

I resolve to be more like the Minions – Happy and Sassy. Wait! They’re mutated slaves…lets think about this for a minute.

I don’t know about your friends, but most of mine tend to make fun of the traditions involved with New Year’s Day and making resolutions…especially as they, themselves, are in the process of resolving to be/do/see/or say something differently in the coming year.

This is a trend I’ve noticed more and more on television, radio shows, magazine articles, and social media…the ‘I’ll make fun of anything, even while I’m in the middle of trying it’ syndrome. Exercises, diets, clothing and hairstyle trends, and resolutions all get the same treatment. But why is that? Are we really so afraid to leave the pack that we cannot stop ourselves from this behavior? Are we, as what passes for adults, really so wrapped up in everyone else that we don’t have our own voices? Or are we just still living with the high school mentality that making fun of everything somehow makes us seem cool?

Honestly, I have no idea. But I do know that I actually saw two resolutions all the way through the end of 2014, and it felt GOOD! I don’t actually think that I’ve made it all the way through before. But this year I followed through on both getting a job (I’m a teacher…what what!) and writing at least one short story a week! (Ok, so I didn’t always get them posted on time, but I did WRITE them..which was my resolution after all).

So let’s get down to the brass tacks: What are THIS YEAR’S RESOLUTIONS?

Here a few from me, and I would love to hear from you!

I resolve…to make strict and followable goals instead of vague resolutions! Because “I’m going to try to get healthy this year” does nothing but sit there on the paper while I eat chocolate and flip channels!

1) I will realize that just because the New Year has begun does NOT mean that I automatically change. I must WORK if I want to see the changes!

2) I will eat at least 2 meals a week that are meatless but full of hearty vegetables (This does NOT include the meal of chips and salsa I try to sneak in once a week or so)

3) I will continue to write on an (almost) daily basis but try to remember that if I miss a day or two it is not the end of the world. Life interferes and that is the normal way of things. (grr)

4) I will attempt to be more loving and patient with my child, my family, and my students. Really I will!

5) I will get a planner and USE IT for more than a month or two at a time. (last year’s planner was used for January, February, July, and October) This also goes into a whole big thing about organization. Baby steps people, its all about baby steps.

6) I will learn to knit. Those slippery non-hooked needles will not get the best of me!

7) I will do my best to do my best, even on days when I don’t feel it in my core. Fake til you make it and all that jazz. (Nerdy quotes help people succeed, remember that!)

Happy New Year! May 2015 be blessed and full of love, success, and inspiration beyond your wildest dreams.

Parenting New Year’s Resolution

Ok, so I’m a few weeks early. But Courtney DeFeo’s new book In This House We Will Giggle: Making Virtues, Love, and Laughter a Daily Part of Your Family Life has me anxious to get started.

DeFeo has offered up a book on parenting that is not only applicable AND virtuous (which are occasionally difficult traits to find now a-days) but is also GODLY. She has come up with advice, anecdotes, memory verses, and activities for each of 12 virtues, and then outlined a month’s worth of focus for each.

Since my daughter is only two, some of the activities may have to be put on the back burner for a bit but I am very excited to see how this wonderful book can help me teach her to be a Godly and virtuous girl. The advice and anecdotes are already helping me to see that I’m not only mom in the world who does the hurry up offense every day (among other things).

If you are a parent/grandparent or even aunt/uncle I would highly suggest giving this a few moments of your time. Throughout the entirety of the book the one thing that has struck the biggest chord with me is that she cares about her readers and their families. This is not a self help book designed to make the author a little richer, but a family life book designed to make the reader’s life a lot richer.

There were a few areas that came off a little bleeding heart preachy to me, though that could just be coming from a woman who teaches hyper fifth graders all day! But overall I truly enjoyed the read and am excited to implement some of the ideas provided.

I give Courtney DeFeo’s In This House We Will Giggle 4.5 out of 5 dragons!

*I was provided with a free copy of the book in exchange for an honest review

Sneaky Snipes

Have you ever heard a half whispered response in someone’s conversation and just known it was about you? That little joke your parents make to each other that you’re sure has to do with your goals or hair color (whatever) but you brush it off and go on…then later as you are trying to write, study, or concentrate on your current Netflix obsession it hits you. You want to scream, break something (maybe their noses?), break down in tears. It hurts and you know they don’t care, probably because it wasn’t even about you, so you simmer and seethe all day. Maybe you confront them, maybe you get over it, but those sneaky snipes have a way of cropping up in the back if our mind sometimes even years later. They burrow down deep into the subconscious and wait for the right opening.
Hey look Clive (mine are named Clive and Vic) she’s starting to get everything finished up in her classroom, let’s remind her how worthless her friends think she is.
Yo Vic, she’s about to write, remind her how she has had to rely on aid to keep a roof over her head because her writing SUCKS!

And on and on and on they go. It is difficult to ignore, more difficult to overcome them…and I haven’t gotten there yet. But there are ways to push them aside.

1) follow your dream anyway. This is hard,one of the hardest things you can do. And yes, you may have to work another job and/or live with relatives. Times will be difficult, but dreamers who want to achieve will have to deal with those things.

2) just give up – I don’t recommend it. When you stop pursuing what you love, when your words become hollow because you no longer believe in them, you lose part of yourself. It becomes easier for other things to slip in, for mistakes to be made, and for your world to tumble and crumble around you. Just keep dreaming and working toward your goals.

3) take a break, crank up the music, and just dance. Or go for a walk, go swim, horseback ride, etc. Clear your mind, open yourself to the possibilities and inspirations that surround you, and once again remind yourself that no one can truly know the pain, sweat, and tears that have brought to where you are (and you don’t know theirs!) so the only person making you feel this bad about yourself, is yourself. Let if go, move on. There is no room for doubters and if those big mouths didn’t believe in you, they would be gone by now!

What do you think?

May you have a blessed day and May inspiration be around every turn!

The Next Generation

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My Monkey setting up for another day of arduous creating. Apparently this story was about Tinkerbell and the dog who sniffed flowers with butter.

My almost 2 year old daughter loves to draw and scribble in her Tinkerbell notebook. If you ask her about it she will go on and on about her work, usually yelling Bell Bell or talking about George and Minions in the few words you can understand. And at some point she will say ‘Like Momma’.

Like Momma, she carries a notebook just about everywhere she goes.(In fact, since her Happy Meals started handing out notebooks she may have MORE than I do). Like Momma, she sometimes only needs to scribble for a moment and sometimes she’s bent over the book for hours. Like Momma, she babbles somewhat incoherently at people if they interrupt her flow or she seems ‘stuck’ in her story.

A BIG part of me is proud that my daughter looks up to me, even though I’m sure that its mostly because she sees me all day everyday. I am proud of her creativity and interest in reading and writing. She isn’t quite 2 (we’re 3 months out from her birthday) but she is already fairly advanced (the hazards of her parent and grandparents all being teachers I suppose). I hope and pray that she keeps this curiosity and zeal as she grows up. That she retains the ‘weird’ and ‘quirk’ that makes up her joy right now and doesn’t let anyone tell her otherwise.

But do I want her to be a writer?

That is a tough question. I love writing. I adore putting my colored inks on blank paper and making the designs that pull a story from the air and my brain (same thing, right) and coalescing it in a form many will read. Most of the time I even enjoy the late night inability to sleep because I’m writing, or the jerking from a dead sleep at 3am because my subconscious finally figured out a piece of the story. I also make no money, have a tendency to block out people for days or weeks at a time while I write, get super mean if I can’t just sit and write when the mood hits me (not as much any more…toddlers tend to line out your schedule for you), and am usually tired from working on pieces when I should be asleep.

It has been said that writing is a lonely profession, except for the characters you make for yourself. Do I want my daughter to be lonely and listening to voices in her own head? Do I want her to wake up from a writing stupor and realize that she may have gotten fifteen thousand words written in a day and half, but she hasn’t eaten and hasn’t seen her friends in days? In the mind of a mother, do the pros outweigh the cons? I honestly don’t know at the moment.

The pros are worth more than any amount of cons in my life. If I don’t write I become irrational, erratic, and difficult to live with. Depression, anxiety, dark moods…they set in pretty quickly if I don’t have projects to think on and scribble out. My books and notebooks are some of my greatest joys, right up there with my kid and my flute. The lack of feedback and reviews on both my blog and my Amazon pages frustrates me to no end, but I wouldn’t stop writing for anything; I couldn’t. Do I want that kind of drive for my daughter….YES, YES I DO.

Do I want her to wind up a writer…probably not. But I suppose that’s going to be up to her to decide. Isn’t it?

 

 

Sleepover Zoo: A Review

This week I actually have a book review for Book Review Tuesday! I was given this book in exchange for an honest review and was pleasantly surprised at the outcome. Without further ado, here is:

Sleepover Zoo

By: Brenda Kearns

Publication Date: April 1, 2013

 

Written primarily with upper elementary students in mind, this children’s book follows Antonina Maria (Toni) as she tries to adjust to a new school. The story centers on a few days in her life as the ‘popular’ girl in the sixth grade, Leona, pressures the ‘weird’ new girl, Toni, to have a sleepover.

That would be fine, except Toni’s home is a little…different than normal homes. Her family works with birds and her basement is a testament to that fact, shelves lined with cages and sick or injured birds rehabilitating in them don’t make for a normal home. When a prissy, never dirty, girl who isn’t allowed pets comes into their home a great dane, a koi aquarium, a small kitten, and a Macaw who drinks coffee make for a sleepover she’ll never forget.

Throughout this book the reader learns right along with the characters. Toni’s brother, Bruno, and best friend, Meghan, help her as they learn about friendship, family, and being proud of who you are. Along with those important life lessons, Brenda Kearns also sprinkles in some interesting facts about the different animals who live with Toni and Bruno.

This book is the type that would be good for classrooms from younger ages, like Mother’s Second Grade ‘TweetHearts’ (yes I’m serious, she did name her class that…) all the way through even the Eighth grade for students who don’t generally enjoy reading, for whatever reason. The simple and easy flow of the book leads readers along while feeding them information that helps them identify with characters and learn as they go. Sleepover Zoo is also a book that could inspire children to go outside and learn about the world around them, and that is a special quality to find in print.

Over all I give this book 5 out of 5 dragons for great writing, an interesting story, and making me want to learn more about nighthawks. If you are looking for a book for your child, your classroom, or even a quick read for yourself, I encourage you to give Brenda Kearn’s books a try.

Night

It is after midnight. I’ve been fighting with my daughter for hours, unable to lay her in the crib (or even readjust my position on the couch) without those big eyes immediately popping open and staring at me reproachfully. When I eventually bit the bullet and laid her down anyway, she cried and said ‘Mommy’ in that helpless little voice, so that I had to stand next to her bed and allow her to stare at me. She didn’t want me to rub her back or to sing (I know why…there is a reason I played in the band instead of choir). Finally, I walked out to get a drink, ‘Be quiet, I’ll be back soon.” Not soon enough, but it was a start. In the end, I just stayed out and ‘shhed’ from the next room.

The house is silent now, even the cat has given up her races for the night. The kid might actually be asleep. It is possible that she drifted off despite her best efforts, and maybe we’ll get to sleep in tomorrow. It is also possible, and much more probable, that she is laying silently in her bed, just waiting for a half thought of sigh of relief, or the tiniest inaudible squeak of a box spring to tell her that I am in my own bed and, therefore, must need to get up and get her again.

                                                                         

(cuter than my actual cat..who is kind of scary)

Unfinished Stories

I was glancing through my four current notebooks earlier, searching for any already written, yet sadly overlooked, blog pieces. What I found was row after row, page after page, entry after entry of short blurbs and pithy conversations that may one day find their way into being part of a story, but are currently just “hangin’ out.”

The problem is, how do I decide which story to write, which conversation to finish? Each one lives in me, every scene plays out in my subconscious mind. I don’t have time for them though. No time for lemurs or llamas, college crushes, or even heartwarming stories of giving. My dragons clamor for attention, their grumbles and fairy alliances effectively silencing other, softer voices.

But those softer voices fight their way to the forefront at odd times. A bit of random people watching, stray pieces of sentences, or a new commercial sending me into a quick frenzy of scribbles, leaving partial scenes and half-formed conversations in my wake.

I never seem to get far with a new work though. My babies, my sweet dragons, have me well in hand. There may be no other stories until theirs is finished. Unless, of course, I figure out a way to turn them each into a blog post….

Until then, go on an adventure, write a story, read someone new, and above all else, Have a BLESSED day!