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Viewing: Blog Posts Tagged with: parenting, Most Recent at Top [Help]
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1. Parenting during the holidays

The holiday season can be an insanely stressful time. Looking for presents, wrapping them, cooking, getting the house ready for visitors, cleaning before and after. Nothing like a normal Saturday night on the couch in front of the TV or with a couple of close friends. The holidays demand perfection. You see it all around you, friends are talking about how stressed out they are, how much they still have to do in just a couple of days. Hyper-decorated stores are talking in their own way. As you approach the 25th of December you still haven’t bought half the gifts you need to rack up for family members, the house looks like a bomb crater and you occasionally wish yourself back in the office with piles of work on your desk waiting to be completed. There are even times when you would exchange a chilly Monday morning and an 8 o’clock meeting for this nerve-racking time that’s supposed to be happy, fun and merry.

What many rattled folks forget in the midst of buying last-minute bequests for loved ones or checking on the unhappy-looking beast in the oven minutes before guests arrive, wishing themselves far away, is that as many as half of the population face a holiday season without their dearest family members. There are people who have lost their loved ones in gruesome ways. I can’t even begin to imagine how they must feel, as they approach every new upcoming holiday season. There are people who have lost their parents to old age, people who have gone through heartbreaking divorces, separations and breakups and people who are overseas defending their country because they have no other choice. The holidays will not be what they once were for any of them. And then there are the single parents, parents many of which have decent custody agreements that are “in the best interest of the children.” According to the US Census Bureau, there are more than 10 million single parents in the United States today. Each year millions among them can look forward to days of loneliness because the little ones they really want to spend time with are with the other parent.

When sane parents separate, many judges, thankfully, divide custody equally. Each parent gets his or her fair share of custody, if at all possible. Even when it’s not possible to share the time with the children equally, judges will usually attempt to divide up the holidays evenly. The kids spend every other holiday with mom and every other holiday with dad. It certainly is in the children’s best interest to get to spend some time with each parent. Most kids, with decent moms and dads, would prefer to spend every holiday with both parents. The precious little ones secretly hope for the impossible: That their divorced or separated parents will get back together. But despite their wishes, they adjust to the situation. They have no other choice.

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The array of Christmas presents, by SheepGuardingLlama. CC-BY-NC-ND-2.0 via Flickr.

Nor do the parents. As we face the holidays many single parents face a very lonely time. They may be with dear family members: parents, brothers, sisters, nieces, nephews, aunts and uncles. Yet they may nonetheless feel a profound pain in their hearts, even as they watch close relatives savor the pecan pie or scream in delight when they rip open their Christmas presents. Their own children are far away. In most cases the youngsters are in a safe place elsewhere, stuffing their faces with goodies or breaking out laughing when the other grandpa makes a funny face. In most cases single parents know that their children are enjoying themselves in the company of the other caregiver and his or her extended family.

Yet the children are missing from the scenery. Their absence is felt. “It hurts. It hurts every other Christmas when my kids are with their dad during the holidays,” says Wendy Thomas, a St. Louis, Missouri single mother of two girls ages 8 and 5. Thomas shares custody with the girls’ father, who lives in Illinois. “The first year was the hardest but I don’t think I will ever get used to it. Shopping malls and Silent Night make me shiver,” says the 38-year-old entrepreneur. This is her third Christmas and New Year’s without her children.

Each holiday a single parent truly misses his or her children on that one day that is supposed to bring delight to everyone. “It’s going to be a lonely, lonely Christmas without you” may just be tedious background music for the families that didn’t break apart. Each year, however, the oldie is causing a tiny tear to run quietly down the cheek of some single caregiver.

But could some of the reported agony over absent children during the holidays be the result of what psychologists call cognitive dissonance, a psychological mechanism we use to justify our choices and conflicting belief sets? For example, you choose to volunteer three hours a week at the local children’s hospital. It’s killing you. You can barely fit in everything else you have to do. But you tell everyone, including yourself, that volunteer work is truly rewarding and every (wo)man’s duty. Making irrational decisions seem rational is a way to preserve your sense of self worth.

Studies show that the hardship involved in raising children makes us idealize parenthood and consider it an enormously rewarding enterprise. In a study published in the January 2011 issue of the journal Psychological Science researchers primed 80 parents with at least one child in two different ways. One group was asked to read a document reporting the costs of raising a child. The other parents read the same document as well as a script reporting on the benefits of having raised children when you reach old age. The participants were then given a psychological test assessing their beliefs about parenting. The team found what they expected. Parents who had only read about the financial costs of parenthood initially felt more discomfort than the other group. But they went onto idealize parenthood much more than the other participants and when interviewed later their negative feelings were gone.

“How do single parents get through Christmas as painlessly as possible?”

Could cognitive dissonance explain why single parents feel empty-handed and depressed during holiday seasons without their children? St. Charles, MO, family counselor Deborah Miller doesn’t think that’s what’s going on. “This year it’s my turn to be one of those parents. I’ll be the first to admit that raising a child is not always a blessing. There are countless times when I feel more like a chauffeur or a waitress or a slave than a free agent with some real me-time.” She thinks the lonely-parent phenomenon evidently is not a manifestation of cognitive dissonance, as we don’t idealize away the pain of being without our children on Christmas or New Year’s. The heartache often doesn’t go away until we see our kids again in January and abruptly remember just how draining it is to raise a child. “I’ll finally get some time to myself, and I know my son will have a blast. But I’ll miss him immensely,” says Miller.

How do single parents get through Christmas as painlessly as possible? The solution is not necessarily to have a huge family gathering with your side of the family to ease the sorrow. A gala dinner on Christmas Day may have its advantages. You can hug your little nieces and nephews and maybe feel a bit of comfort as they open their presents in a way only children can approach surprises. You may feel a teensy bit of wonder (or is it jealousy) as you view your siblings and their spouses exchange loving smiles and their young ones take delight in the simplest of things. “It may work for some but there is a sense in which you will only be a spectator,” says Miller. She recalls her Christmas two years ago. “I felt gratified to be part of a functional family, and it was good to see my siblings interact with their children. I also remember being thankful that my parents were still alive and healthy and that they got one more holiday season with some of their grandchildren. But I also felt great sadness, because the dearest thing in my life wasn’t with me. I really missed my son that day.” This Christmas, Miller is getting together with a few friends. “Sure, we will still have Christmas dinner but there won’t be any children or presents or sacred family traditions. So hopefully I won’t be reminded of what I’m missing out on.”

Featured image credit: Christmas Decorations, by Ian Wilson. CC-BY-2.0 via Flickr.

The post Parenting during the holidays appeared first on OUPblog.

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2. Possibly my best idea ever

I struck a deal with the kids: for every new app or game I buy them, they must each memorize a poem. So far, so fabulous. Huck, my little iPad junkie, is shaping up to be a regular minstrel by the time he’s twenty. :)

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3. The Front of the Parade

I dislike parades. Not a little, a lot!

I don’t care about the pageantry or the spectacle. I just get bored. A.D.D.? Maybe. Every time I’m stuck watching them, I can’t find an ounce of enjoyment – I just think about two dozen other things I could be doing. This couldn’t be truer than when I’m at Disneyworld.

My kids, on the other hand, love parades. So when people start lining the streets, they want to stop riding roller coasters and wait. UGH…

Wait for what? Floats. No thank you! If a float doesn’t contain root beer and ice cream, I don’t want it.

I figure with half of the eligible riders standing along the parade route, the lines to the cool things are shorter. Not my family. We wait – and not for the good stuff.

A funny thing happened on our trip last week. We were headed to a ride at the back of the park while people were lining up for the parade. No one with me suggested we stop to watch (miracle), so I powered into the street. We must have been the last ones let out before they closed the rope because we found ourselves about 20 paces in front of the parade with all of its flags and music.

Maybe it was the fact that I was pushing my daughter’s wheelchair, or possibly because I looked so stately and official, but it became apparent that the spectators thought we were supposed to be the ones leading the parade. We all realized it at the same time as they clapped and waved at us.

My kids became confused.

They grouped together.

“Should we pull off and get out of the way?” they wondered.

The oldest asked, “What do we do?”

Of course they looked to me, the leader, the head honcho, the alpha male for direction and what did they find me doing?

Waving

With a dopey grin on my face, I waved back at all of my adoring fans.

When life puts you at the front of the parade, smile and wave!

parade

The kids laughed at me, but it caught on. All of us began waving to the crowd.

You know what? Everyone waved back. The people didn’t think we looked out of place – they just waved at us. I wonder what they thought when the real parade came and they realized we didn’t belong. Oh well, we were gone by then. We walked over half of the parade route unencumbered by the bustling crowd until we got near the ride we wanted. Then we simply ducked into the masses and became one of them – anonymous once more.

I still hate parades… But for a moment, I was the grand marshal.


Filed under: It Made Me Laugh

6 Comments on The Front of the Parade, last added: 12/10/2014
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4. A Family Christmas Pictorial

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Underwood Family Farms. We found the tree!

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Come here, cute stuff! Let me squeeze the dickens out of you in front of a tree that isn’t ours.

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Sure dad. Park the care under big tree that overshadows the tree we picked out on top of our car.

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I cropped out the fact that both of my men are wearing shorts on a day we picked-out our Christmas tree. Note my chilly weather attire. In their defense, it was 73 degrees outside. I was burning up.

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As I was shooting this picture. Santa told Miles that I wanted a Cabbage Patch doll when I was a little girl. I reminded Santa yes, but it never came. Miles smiled.

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A big old wad of tangled lights. John can handle this. I’m not equipped.

What was in the 20-gallon storage bin, taking-up all that space in the garage, you ask?  One string of lights and three bows.  No shoes in sight.

What was in the 20-gallon storage bin (labeled “SHOES”) taking-up all that space in the garage, you ask? One string of lights and three bows. No shoes in sight.

You thought I was kidding, right?

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Found the tree skirt!

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What are these weird fake plants doing in the holiday decorations? Hmmm.

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He always looks like he’s waiting for me to leave the room so he can pee on the tree. He never does. But, I always think he will. Good doggie.

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Time for wine.

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Found another giant bin in the garage with one angel, one star and one string of lights. WHO puts this stuff away?

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I’m going to need more wine.

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You thought I lied about the peeing on the tree thing? There’s a dog just waiting for me to turn my back so he can snatch a chocolate. (Note the glass is almost empty.)

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The stockings are up! My husband asked me if I could iron the stockings. What? They are made of felt. No one irons felt. Wait. Do they?

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Me asking John to stand behind the tree while he was stringing the lights. Because he was in his boxers. No one needs to see that. P.S. That’s his annoyed face.

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“Here mom! Let me help you hang ornaments!” What a good son.

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After Miles helped hang one ornament.

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One of those is a crystal wedding present.

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It was a three glass of wine kind of night. #deckthehalls

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It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas.

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Where do all the ornament strings go? #ornamentgraveyard

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Time to focus.

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I love this Santa. He takes up too much room.

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Time for the star!

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5. The Christmas Owl Hardback Giveaway

OwlCover_Kindle_optimized

You can enter to win a signed hardback copy of The Christmas Owl December 4 – December 12. Two lucky winners will receive a copy of these beautiful keepsake books and the hardbacks are only available here. Visit a Rafflecopter giveaway to get your entries in.

Also, during 12/4 -12/6 our Christmas Owl kindle book will be discounted to $.99 on Amazon (reg $3.50).  Happy Holidays from 4EYESBOOKS!

 

Christmas_Pine_Cones_PNG_Clipart


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6. SAHM Artists Need Help


I have always been a free bird, doing something the hard way... a hundred times to get it done, impulse buyer and doer, and I love to organize but hate to follow organization/schedules. So when we had Norah on top of all this, I felt a bit topsy turvy. How do you stay full time mom, full time artist, and full time wife?


Help. Lots and lots of help.

I'm sitting here writing this post as my mom does my dishes. It's something she truly enjoys doing for us on a monthly basis (often times twice a month). And it's AH MA ZING! There are many Fridays where she leaves work early and comes to give Norah hugs and kisses (and books, and play, and animal sounds, and walks), that frees me up for an hour or two. Big help.

On Tuesdays my mother in law, Karen, watches Norah for several hours in the morning. A good chunk of time to get some painting done, and Norah gets a lot of snuggly hugs.

Wednesdays I have my dear friend Andi come and watch her for several hours in the morning with coffee and then we all do lunch.

On Thursdays my sister in law, Joni, watches her for a couple hours while I go sit at a coffee shop and breathe. When my niece and nephew get out of school the cousins hang out for a bit together. Great family time.

My sister, other friends, and our parents will help watch her in the evenings so Brian and I can have date nights.

And then there's my hubby. He does so much! After a long day at work he comes home, grabs Norah out of my hands, and he's on daddy duty for the rest of the night. I can get so much done because of his willingness to do the evenings. Same with the weekends, we alternate.

I am always curious as to how stay at home moms who are also artists get their work done with a baby/toddler around. Norah has gotten to a stage where I can get very little done while she is awake and I have to give in to that. I WANT to give in to that and watch her explore, learning about the world around her.

I would not be able to get what I get done without the help of others. I know some who do, and that just blows me away. I applaud them with a standing ovation because I know myself well enough I would overheat and give up. My discipline still has strides of work to go in the field of 'getting it done'. It takes a lot of practice!

I have messed up in my business because of the many, many tasks I do, I have allowed Norah to watch tv so I can get a task done, I have even let her stay in the crib wanting out after a nap just to finish up an Etsy listing (I am aware these are very normal events all of us parents do), I have mailed orders out later than intended because I simply got overwhelmed and forgot, and I have checks that have sat around waiting to be deposited from months ago.

I'm not ashamed, and won't be. I will be realistic that life happens, and stuff needs to get done. My daughter has me all of the time, and I give almost just as much into my marriage and business. I think we're good. I say it all the time, but it never seems like enough....

I am SO BLESSED to have the life, the people, the husband, and the time I have today.
Wow. So good!

How do you manage life?
My situation is we can't afford childcare or babysitters, and I understand everyones situation or circumstance is very different from the other. This is how we make it work. 


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7. A Dream Coming Closer to True from an Archery Mom

By Tonia Allen Gould, AKA: #ArcheryMom

Miles and his bowThere’s a common theme in my family and it has to do with all of us daring to dream BIG. Allowing our children the freedom to dream is a value my husband and I have instilled in our children, pretty much since childbirth. We believe that no one should ever squelch someone else’s dreams no matter how crazy and impossible the dream may sound. After all, I’m currently working on developing an entire 28-acre island along the Caribbean Coast of Nicaragua for social good. Had I not dreamt the impossible, I wouldn’t be in throes of conquering my dream in such a magnificent way.

So, it comes as no surprise to me that my son, Miles, has a gargantuan dream of his own.  For the past two and half years, ever since he picked-up his first bow and arrows at a resort during my husband’s company picnic, Miles has dreamt of one day making it to the Olympics. Being good enough is only the half the battle for him. The trouble is, his bow is making his dream impossible–that is, unless compound bows are ever allowed into the Olympics alongside their counterparts, the recurve bow.

But, all that isn’t stopping Miles from going after his dreams. My twelve-year-old currently holds the California State Champion title in both indoor and outdoor archery in the compound bowman division. During this year’s California State Outdoor Championship, in Long Beach, Miles set a new California 30M state record held since 2009 of 355. Miles broke the record with a score of 356 out of 360.  It takes laser-sharp focus to shoot a nearly perfect score in a high-stakes tournament like that one.

Maybe there is hope on the horizon for the compound bowman. All his successes have taken Miles one step closer to his Olympic dream, because Miles has been invited by USA Archery, the archery governing body of the Olympics, to try-out for the Compound Junior Dream Team at a week-long selection camp held in Chula Vista, California.  Up until now, the Junior Dream Team consisted of 36 of the most skilled and promising Olympic-style archers in the country, all shooting recurve. But, recently, compound archers have been added to the program and Miles hopes to earn his spot on the team, as a compound bowman, and one step closer to his Olympic Dream.

Even if the compound bow never makes it into the Olympics, if selected to the Junior Dream Team (JDT), Miles will intensively train weeklong at the Olympic Training Center once a quarter with some of the best junior archers in the country.  Between training camps, JDT coaches and archers will continue to train together by utilizing video conferencing via the internet.

Shooting at Miles’ level takes a lot of practice.  He shoots an average of 100 arrows a day on a range safely set-up in his backyard sport court.  He has an accident-free history if you don’t count one broken window from an errant arrow. Miles is privately coached by two-time World Champion Compound Archer, John Norberg. He shoots a Hoyt Freestyle Compound Bow, 35 lbs., with 70% let-off.  He releases with a Carter Evolution Plus back tension release.  He uses PSA Radial X Weave Pro 100 arrows with Blazer vanes.

Here’s to dreaming big son!  Good luck this month at selection camp and keep dreaming, no matter what the outcome is this time around.

#GOTEAMMILES

Love, #ArcheryMom


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8. Don’t stop the readin’…hold on to that read aloud feeling

Don’t stop the readin’…hold on to that read aloud feeling | Storytime Standouts

Don't Stop the Readin'  Hold on to that Feeling A Guest Post by @1PrncsSome days I’m more “quirky” than others. This is one of those days. Instead of just telling you that your middle grade children (grades 4, 5, 6, 7) are not too old for you to keep up that nightly ritual of reading, I’ve made some alterations to a classic Journey song. You can laugh or roll your eyes, but the message will be the same. They’re getting older, but it doesn’t lessen their enthusiasm for books. Nor does it mean they don’t need us there to help them navigate some of the issues that their favourite characters are facing. Bottom line? Take fifteen minutes at the end of the night, curl up on someone’s bed, and keep reading.









Don’t Stop the Readin’ (adapted from Journey’s Don’t stop believin’– hardcore Journey fans…I’m sorry :) (ps: it helps if you listen to the song in the background softly so you can read with the beat)

Just a grade five  girl
Readin’ bout’ a wizard  world
She read the whole series
Loved the characters
Just a grade six boy
Thinks he doesn’t like to read
He found The Outsiders
Thinks he’s Ponyboy






His father comes into the room
The moon is out the day is done
For a while they can read tonight
It goes on and on and on and on


Parents reading
Learnin’ bout the Hunger Games,
Heroes like Percy
Annabeth
Quests and danger
Find out what your kids are lovin’
Read with them every night





Workin’ hard to pay the bills
One on one time is such a thrill
Read a story, talk about your day
It’s worth the time
Picture Book
Non-Fiction
Doesn’t matter what you read
Graphic novels, Patterson
The list can go on and on and on







They aren’t too old
Even in the middle grades
Let them read to you
Read to them
Make it matter
A great way to stay connected
Just fifteen minutes a night





Don’t stop the readin’
Hold on to that feelin’
With your children
Don’t stop the readin’
Nielsen,
Sachar, Judy Blume
They keep you readin’
Keep on reading!






Don’t Stop Believin’ at Amazon.com

Don’t Stop Believin’: the Best of Journey at Amazon.ca

Storytime Standouts - Raising Children Who Love to Read

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  • A Quirky, Pleasant Read Aloud for 9-12 year olds – The Funeral Director’s Son
  • The Funeral Director’s Son by Coleen Murtagh Paratore Chapter Book...

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    9. Ten Thankful Turkeys Book Blast and $50 GC Giveaway

    Ten Thankful Turkeys by Angela Muse

    About the Book

    Title: Ten Thankful Turkeys | Author: Angela Muse | Illustrator: Ewa Podleś | Publication Date: October 4, 2014 | Publisher: 4EYESBOOKS | Pages: 32 | Recommended Ages: 2 to 8 Summary: This colorful autumn tale follows ten turkeys as they get ready for an important celebration. This story teaches about gratitude. There are also fun turkey facts in the back of the book.

    Kindle version available for only 99 cents from Amazon on October 24 & 25, 2014. Grab your copy now!!

    Amazon (Kindle) * Amazon (Paperback)

     

    About the Author: Angela Muse

    Angela Muse, Author

    Angela Muse

     Angela Muse was born in California to a military family. This meant that she got used to   being the “new kid” in school every couple of years. It was hard trying to make new friends,   but Angela discovered she had a knack for writing. In high school Angela began writing poetry and song lyrics. Expressing herself through writing seemed very natural. After becoming a Mom in 2003, Angela continued her storytelling to her own children. In 2009 she wrote and published her first rhyming children’s book aimed at toddlers. Since then she has released several more children’s picture books and released books in her first young adult romance series, The Alpha Girls, in 2013/2014. Her husband, Ben Muse writes suspense/thriller books that can also be found on Amazon.

    Website | Facebook | Goodreads | Twitter

     

    * $50 Book Blast Giveaway *

    Amazon $50 Gift Card Prize: One winner will receive a $50 Amazon gift card or PayPal cash (winner’s choice) Contest closes: November 23, 11:59 pm, 2014 Open to: Internationally How to enter: Please enter using the Rafflecopter widget below. Terms and Conditions: NO PURCHASE NECESSARY TO ENTER OR WIN. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW. A winner will be randomly drawn through the Rafflecopter widget and will be contacted by email within 48 hours after the giveaway ends. The winner will then have 72 hours to respond. If the winner does not respond within 72 hours, a new draw will take place for a new winner. Odds of winning will vary depending on the number of eligible entries received. This contest is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with Facebook. This giveaway is sponsored by the Angela Muse and is hosted and managed by Renee from Mother Daughter Book Reviews. If you have any additional questions – feel free to send and email to Renee(at)MotherDaughterBookReviews(dot)com. a Rafflecopter giveaway

    MDBR Book Promotion Servicesthe

    Copyright © 2014 Mother Daughter Book Reviews, All rights reserved.


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    10. Pure Joy

    I got to be party to pure, absolute joy this weekend. I have seen such displays on television after a big win in sports or gameshows. This time, it was my little girl who celebrated. After so many losses in the past six months, it was a much needed win.

    As a parent, one of the worst things about cancer is being totally helpless. We are forced to sit and watch as one thing after another is taken away from our little girl. Ballet, plays, school, vacations, little things and big things are plucked away as she lays in bed.

    Wonderful organizations are out there to give back to these kids. Groups such as the Make-a-Wish Foundation come beside them to give them something to look forward to during their treatment. A very introspective child, Kylie debated long and hard over her wish, finally deciding she wanted to see Aladdin on Broadway.

    A few weeks ago, Kylie was asked to be the honored child at Make-a-Wish Georgia’s annual fund-raising Wish Gala. The chairperson of the event took her on a shopping spree for a gown. This day of shopping was unlike any that my girls have been on – especially Kylie. As a fourth child, hand-me-downs are the rule of thumb. If it isn’t obscenely high or dragging the ground, it fits.

    Not this time. She was treated like a princess. After a six month hiatus, I saw her old friend, “excitement” start to creep back into her life.

    The big night came. We all got dressed up for the Gala.

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    She knew she was going to sing with her sister. She knew I was going to speak. She thought of herself as the entertainment and the face of wish-children for the evening. What she didn’t know was that Make-a-Wish had planned a big surprise for her. They had a video from her favorite Broadway performers who granted her wish to go to see Aladdin. Here is her reaction:

     

     

    Priceless.  Pure Joy.

    After so many months of seeing her disappointed, I can’t look at that video without tears.

    You might be wondering if I embarrassed myself and my family in front of the trendier set. I believe the answer is no. With a stern admonition from the start, I spent the evening minding everything I did and said carefully. I paused three seconds before any word escaped my lips. I didn’t spill or break anything. My online tux-buying escapade was made unnecessary by a friend exactly my size who owns a tuxedo. I did not step on anyone’s dress or trip on my way to the stage. I didn’t try to fit in by discussing the beach chalet I own in Vermont.

    It was a lovely evening. Kylie was the star…. And she deserves it.

     


    Filed under: Dad stuff

    5 Comments on Pure Joy, last added: 10/22/2014
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    11. Storyline Online: a great resource spreading the joy of reading (ages 3-8)

    I love reading stories aloud to children, but as a busy mom I know there are times my kids want to listen to a story when I just have too many other things to do. This even happens in the library! At Emerson, we have loved showing kids how they can listen to stories on the computer through Storyline Online. While this doesn't replace reading stories with our kids, it's a wonderful resource to know about.
    Storyline Online
    http://www.storylineonline.net/
    free website & videos
    produced by the Screen Actors Guild Foundation
    ages 3-8
    Storyline Online is easy for young kids to use -- just click on a book cover, and then click the play button. Our students are really enjoying listening to these stories, and we've been really pleased with the quality. What we love about it:
    • terrific actors that bring warmth, joy and feeling to these stories
    • fantastic selection of stories, both old and new
    • nice balance between the actor reading aloud and views of the picture book illustrations
    • easy to use site -- kids can navigate it by themselves
    • engages children in a rich story experience, but satisfies their yearning for screen time
    Here's one of our favorite stories: The Library Lion, by Michelle Knudson, read aloud by Mindy Sterling.

    Come check out our redesigned Berkeley Public School Libraries websites. Anyone can access them, making resources easily available from home or school. Storyline Online is just one of the many resources available through our websites. Here's what Emerson Library's website looks like:
    Emerson Library website
    Let us know what you think of these resources. We'd love to know resources your kids enjoy using at home. I want to say special thanks to colleagues at BUSD DigiTech's team, especially Becca Todd District Library Coordinator, for helping marshal such a terrific collection of digital resources for elementary children.

    ©2014 Mary Ann Scheuer, Great Kid Books

    0 Comments on Storyline Online: a great resource spreading the joy of reading (ages 3-8) as of 10/10/2014 3:23:00 AM
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    12. In Season?


    They say each season has a rightful place:

    A time to scribble,
    A time to paint.

    A time to read good books,
    A time to dream up new ones.

    A time to craft words,
    A time to delete.

    A time to face the music,
    A time to dance in the face of it.

    It's the natural breath of our days -
    The ups and downs of waves. 

    Summer rushed to Fall a smidge too soon in my neck of the woods.
     
    Birthdays, school starts,

    First wiggly teeth,
    Rounded hula hoops of doings.

    Responsibilities loomed.

    Do you ever drag your feet ?


    I soured up a few days
    kicking my heels against time and tides,
    and then I remembered...

    What of all the sacred moments today ?

    What am I missing with my eyes shut tight against change?  

    Here is the good news: 
    Gratitude mends easily.
    It always starts with today.

    And thankfulness is magic. 
    It turns straw into gold,
    turns dirty dishes into a sacred space.



    Farewell summer!    Hello Fall!

    It's simple, right?
    To find joy, we breathe.
    In and out. 
       
    And if breathing means working hard at a task today,
    then may we find beauty under the stones at our feet.

    Or if it means taking a ramble in the woods,
    then let the leaves turn,
    let the fruit fall
    and find us with open hands.


    "Nobody else but the rosebush knows
    how nice mud feels between the toes."  
     - Polly Chase Boyden

     

     Book treasures that make me smile in all seasons:


    The Reluctant Dragon by Kenneth Grahame, illustrated by Inga Moore
    Firefly July - compiled by Paul B. Janeczko, illustrated by Melissa Sweet
        Lindbergh - The Tale of a Flying Mouse, by Torben Kuhlmann
        The New Arrival by Vanya Nastanlieva

    Three Times Lucky by Sheila Turnage
    A Snicker of Magic by Natalie Lloyd
    Henry and the Paper Route by Beverly Cleary
    The Magician's Elephant by Kate DiCamillo
    Odd, Weird, and Little by Patrick Jennings


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    13. What are they Missing?

    Running under a beautiful sunrise recently, I recalled a fond memory of my oldest daughter. When she was pint-sized, we figured out that she had never seen a sunrise. I know that sounds impossible, but our property lies in a valley where trees filter the sun until it is mid-morning and by then, the spectacular colors of dawn have faded away.

    To remedy this, I woke her very early and the two of us went to the top of our street with lawn chairs to watch the sun peek over the horizon. It took three attempts to get a masterpiece. I remember seeing her tired, little face come alive in awe of the burst of reds and purples in the sky.

    Red_sunrise

    Don’t you love watching someone enjoy beauty, nature, or art for the first time?

     

    This got me wondering, “What else have my kids missed?”

    I know there are plenty of great movies my kids have never seen because I am not allowed to suggest films since The Great Jumanji Debacle of 2005. I built that one up to my family when they were far too young and I totally forgot some extremely spooky scenes. My third child didn’t sleep for weeks and still has nightmares about monkey boys attacking her.

    Being a child of the 70’s, I have tried to share some good music with them. While I love AC/DC, Led Zeppelin, The Doobie Brothers, Van Halen and KISS, my kids weren’t fond of ringing hell’s bells and didn’t seem to want to rock and roll all night.

    There were other good things from the seventies, though? I could share something else.

    Mood rings

    Awkwardly short gym shorts

    Rotary phones without speed dial

    Disco

    Hair parted in the middle with wings

    Bell bottoms

    Car windows with cranks

    Vinyl records

    Ice cream trucks

    Black & White TV’s with 3 channels

     

    I made a mental list of these things. Although each brings back some fond memories for me, most of them have been improved upon. My kids are experiencing better versions, which made my list no less nostalgic for me, but not full of things they are poorer for missing. Frustrated with my inability to come up with much, I settled on one thing that every child needs to experience and mine had missed – until now.

    Mooning! They had never been mooned. Well, they hadn’t until I thought of it. I spent the better part of the rest of that Saturday surprising them all over the house. Full moons, partial moons, waning crescents. I got them over and over. I doubt my celestial display was as majestic as the sunrise my eldest enjoyed. They giggled at first, but soon tired of it, locked their doors, and left me alone to come up with something else to share. All I could think of was streaking, but felt like my wife would be vehemently opposed to that one.

    So I think we are going to put the 70’s to rest around here and let my children’s vision recover. After all the mooning, number three is having Jumanji-like nightmares again.

     

     

    Photo credit: “Red sunrise”. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons -

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    14. What are they Missing?

    Running under a beautiful sunrise recently, I recalled a fond memory of my oldest daughter. When she was pint-sized, we figured out that she had never seen a sunrise. I know that sounds impossible, but our property lies in a valley where trees filter the sun until it is mid-morning and by then, the spectacular colors of dawn have faded away.

    To remedy this, I woke her very early and the two of us went to the top of our street with lawn chairs to watch the sun peek over the horizon. It took three attempts to get a masterpiece. I remember seeing her tired, little face come alive in awe of the burst of reds and purples in the sky.

    Red_sunrise

    Don’t you love watching someone enjoy beauty, nature, or art for the first time?

     

    This got me wondering, “What else have my kids missed?”

    I know there are plenty of great movies my kids have never seen because I am not allowed to suggest films since The Great Jumanji Debacle of 2005. I built that one up to my family when they were far too young and I totally forgot some extremely spooky scenes. My third child didn’t sleep for weeks and still has nightmares about monkey boys attacking her.

    Being a child of the 70’s, I have tried to share some good music with them. While I love AC/DC, Led Zeppelin, The Doobie Brothers, Van Halen and KISS, my kids weren’t fond of ringing hell’s bells and didn’t seem to want to rock and roll all night.

    There were other good things from the seventies, though? I could share something else.

    Mood rings

    Awkwardly short gym shorts

    Rotary phones without speed dial

    Disco

    Hair parted in the middle with wings

    Bell bottoms

    Car windows with cranks

    Vinyl records

    Ice cream trucks

    Black & White TV’s with 3 channels

     

    I made a mental list of these things. Although each brings back some fond memories for me, most of them have been improved upon. My kids are experiencing better versions, which made my list no less nostalgic for me, but not full of things they are poorer for missing. Frustrated with my inability to come up with much, I settled on one thing that every child needs to experience and mine had missed – until now.

    Mooning! They had never been mooned. Well, they hadn’t until I thought of it. I spent the better part of the rest of that Saturday surprising them all over the house. Full moons, partial moons, waning crescents. I got them over and over. I doubt my celestial display was as majestic as the sunrise my eldest enjoyed. They giggled at first, but soon tired of it, locked their doors, and left me alone to come up with something else to share. All I could think of was streaking, but felt like my wife would be vehemently opposed to that one.

    So I think we are going to put the 70’s to rest around here and let my children’s vision recover. After all the mooning, number three is having Jumanji-like nightmares again.

     

     

    Photo credit: “Red sunrise”. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons -

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    15. Now Available – Ten Thankful Turkeys

    Turkery Cover

    We are so excited to announce the release of our latest children’s book, Ten Thankful Turkeys.  This colorful autumn tale follows ten turkeys as they get ready for an important celebration. This story teaches about gratitude. There are also fun turkey facts in the back of the book.  You can get the kindle version of this book for a special launch price of $.99 for a limited time or FREE if you have Kindle Unlimited.  We also have paperback versions on sale now at Amazon for $8.99.

    Be sure to gobble up this deal before it disappears. :-)


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    16. Coming Soon

    We are so excited about our next children’s picture book release, Ten Thankful Turkeys.  Stay tuned here for more details and promotions we will be doing.  You’ll want to gobble up these deals before they disappear.

     

    Turkery Cover


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    17. Sing Along Construction Song

    Sing Along Construction Song - Cover

    We really enjoyed this tale about various construction vehicles and the job they do.  Each vehicle describes their function and then happily sings a song set to the tune of “London Bridge” about their work.  At the end they all sing together about how they work as a team to get the job done.  Great message for young children about having a positive attitude and teamwork.  You can purchase this ebook for $2.99 at Amazon or get it for FREE using Kindle Unlimited which is a new subscription service by Amazon to read up to ten books at a time for a monthly fee of $9.99.  They are currently offering free 30-day trials if you want to check it out.  As always all of our children’s books are available in the Kindle Unlimited program as well.

    **We received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.**


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    18. My Pre-Teen Boy is Now Eager to Do Chores

    Step 1: Seriously restrict your pre-teen boy’s computer time for two weeks on Minecraft. Give him an allotted time, to be on the computer and don’t waiver. Step 2: After two weeks, ask him if he’d like to earn a half-hour more (if all his work is done). Step 3: When he exuberantly says YES – look around the house for things for him to do, and tell him to come back to you when he’s finished. Step 4: Walk around the house and review his handiwork. Applaud his effort if everything is completed and done well. Step 4: Give him the extra time he’s earned. (Set a timer!)

    #eagertodochores

    IMG_5828.JPG


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    19. Reading Online: How will it affect developing readers?

    I read with interest a recent New Yorker article, Being a Better Online Reader by Maria Konnikova, and I would love to explore my thoughts on this article. We all are reading much more online than we did ten years ago, but how is this affecting the way young children are developing as readers? How is this affecting the way teachers and librarians help students learn to read, discover a love of reading, and develop their critical thinking skills?


    Over the past several years, I have observed these changes:
    • most adults read for work online -- mainly on desktop or laptop computers
    • many adults read for pleasure using digital devices, like the iPad, Kindle or Nook
    • most children (ages 7-12) read primarily print books when reading for pleasure or school
    • students are learning to research online, starting at about age 8-9
    • standardized tests are shifting to online assessments
    I feel very strongly that if we are going to start assessing students online, then we need to provide specific experiences and instruction for reading online. Explicit instruction is crucial -- it is unfair to assume that our children are "digital natives" and learn through osmosis how to read online. If we make those assumptions, we will simply reinforce the digital divide that is created by unequal opportunities and access.

    Konnikova points out that the way we read online is different than the way we read in print. She steers clear of passing judgment, but rather ponders how this affects the way we acquire knowledge. Konnikova writes,
    On screen, people tended to browse and scan, to look for keywords, and to read in a less linear, more selective fashion. On the page, they tended to concentrate more on following the text. Skimming, Liu concluded, had become the new reading: the more we read online, the more likely we were to move quickly, without stopping to ponder any one thought.
    I would argue that this skimming is an essential skill for coping with the huge amount of information we have to sift through online. We need to teach our students how we skim effectively. But we also need to talk with them about strategies for when we discover a nugget -- how we need to consciously slow down to digest the information.

    Later, Konnikova looks at research that has explored this point -- that we need to teach our students explicit online reading skills:
    Julie Coiro, who studies digital reading comprehension in elementary- and middle-school students at the University of Rhode Island, has found that good reading in print doesn’t necessarily translate to good reading on-screen. The students do not only differ in their abilities and preferences; they also need different sorts of training to excel at each medium. The online world, she argues, may require students to exercise much greater self-control than a physical book.
    I have noticed this with my own daughter, whose high school is now one-to-one iPad. She likes reading her English texts online because she can annotate them well, but she prefers to read in print if she is just absorbing and enjoying a book.

    Schools must specifically teach students in 4th grade and above how to apply their reading skills to digital reading. Starting in elementary school, they need to practice researching online and teachers need to talk about how this might be different from reading a print book. It is essential that our schools invest in technologies, so that teachers and students can learn these skills. But I would also argue that it's essential for schools to invest in librarians who understand this intersection between reading, information and digital experiences.

    Adults often ask me if kids will continue reading print books. I believe the answer is absolutely yes. First of all, there's access and quantity issues. Children in first through third grade need to read 10-20 short books every week. They want to browse through physical copies. Schools, libraries and families need access to inexpensive paperbacks. Even highly digital affluent families are reluctant to continue purchasing ebooks at this rate.

    I would also argue that there is something more tangible, more comforting, more reassuring for young kids holding print books. Konnikova quotes Maryann Wolf, author of Proust and the Squid, as saying “Physical, tangible books give children a lot of time." Young children need that time. Families need that time.

    It is interesting that I read this article online, following a link suggested by KQED's Mindshift blog. But I returned to it several times, reading it in different chunks, rereading it, skimming it again. This type of repeated reading might be what our students need to get comfortable doing, taking the time to dive into ideas and ponder them.

    As you watch your children and your students, are you noticing that they are reading digitally more than they were a few years ago? Is the way they are reading changing? The digital world certainly brings more opportunities within easy reach for many students, but how are we preparing them to take advantage of those opportunities?

    ©2014 Mary Ann Scheuer, Great Kid Books

    0 Comments on Reading Online: How will it affect developing readers? as of 8/5/2014 3:24:00 AM
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    20. A Call to Tech Support

    The wifi in my eldest daughter’s laptop died recently. Being the home’s Chief Technology Officer, I worked through the handy troubleshoot on the system which told me it was working perfectly. Of course, the inability to connect to the internet and the distraught look on my poor daughter’s face told me it wasn’t. No worries, I bought a USB dongle and she was up and running.

    Little did I know that my trouble-shooting skills would soon be needed again. A week ago, she informed me that her dongle wasn’t working. Of course, at 11:15, my system was shut down, so I didn’t pay much attention and went to bed. When I awoke, I realized it wasn’t her computer – there was a wholesale internet outage in the house!

    I think that is mentioned in Revelation, isn’t it? The Mark of the Beast and the inability to access High-Speed Wireless is in chapter 13, if I remember correctly. I looked outside and it didn’t appear the Battle of Armageddon had begun yet. A check of the beds told me the wife and kids were still here, so the rapture hadn’t left me behind (Whew!)

    But I still had no internet.

    This has happened before and I fixed it. What did I do? Oh yeah, I unplugged it and it rebooted itself. So I pulled the plug and let it regenerate. Unfortunately, the light blinking was still red long after power was restored. So I called my ever-helpful internet service provider and got stuck in the web of automated attendants who sound helpful, but are very patronizing. Don’t they know I am the CTO? That should give me some status, I would think.

    My biggest problem wasn’t the self-righteous know-it-all computer voice on the other end of the phone, it was the fact that my cell phone service is spotty in the basement where the router resides. So I put the phone on speaker and listened as best I could. Like a rat pushing through a maze, I found the tech support cheese after seventeen minutes and the new, smarter sounding Tech Support Weenie voice tells me we are going to have to restart the system.

    TSW: I will now tell you how to restart your system. This is a medium level procedure and will take approximately 3-5 minutes.

    Okay

    TSW: Can you see your internet router?

    Yes

    TSW: Please find the power cable on the back of the router and say yes when you’ve found it.

    Got it

    TSW: I didn’t understand you.

    Er…  Yes

    TSW: Trace the cable to the electric outlet. Unplug the cable and wait 10 seconds before plugging it back in.

    Well, that’s what I did before, but okay

    TSW: Did this solve your problem?

    NO!

    At that point, my spotty cell service affected my ability to clearly hear the next steps in the process. What I am pretty sure it said was for me to disconnect all cables, kick the box across the room, plug it back in and see if any lights were blinking. Repeat until no lights function.

    Done!

    After I hung up, I went to work early and left this note on the floor:

    936051_10152553265964675_8432536674832206132_n

     

    The good news, there is free wifi at the hotel, but I really wish they would call.


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    21. To Kylie, the Strongest Person I Know

    What is strength? I don’t mean muscular strength, I am wondering about the use of the word to describe a mental and emotional strength. Strength of the heart.

    The dictionary defines strength as moral power, firmness, or courage.

    I’ve recently seen several quotes about strength. This one stands out:

    You never know how strong you are until being strong is the only option.

    -Author unknown

    We quote scripture to help us with our strength. Beautiful verses come to mind such as:

    But those who hope in the Lord
        will renew their strength.
    They will soar on wings like eagles;
        they will run and not grow weary,
        they will walk and not be faint.

    Isaiah 43:1

    &

    But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

    2 Corinthians 12:9-10

     

    I have been given many more. We read them in times of need and feel their comfort. I don’t mean to minimize the impact of the Word – it is all-sufficient. But it isn’t always a quick band-aid overcoming the darkest struggle. Slap this on and feel strong, as it were. I wish it were that simple. In the best of circumstances, most of us need to be reminded time after time before things sink in.

    While the concept of strength might be an easy one for you, it has troubled me of late. You see, I am trying to care for my daughter who is fighting cancer. Actually, to be honest, right now she is fighting the chemo that is fighting the cancer. She is only twelve and should never have to deal with any weight so difficult. This road would buckle the knees of some of the world’s strongest men, yet she trudges on.

    She puts on a brave face and true to her nickname, smiles to most. But at night, with her mother, her sisters, and me, she often falls apart. The thing I hear from her most often is that she isn’t strong enough – she can’t do this. I wish there was something I could tell her to change her situation, but I can’t. There is no choice, no option, no plan B. The chemo regimen must go on. I wish I could break her cycle of self-doubt, but it is her cycle. I can’t change it. I can only encourage and hold, assuring her of my presence and love.

    That leads me to my present dilemma: What is strength? Does she have it? If not, where can she find enough to continue when there is no other way?

    I think back over her history and wonder if she’s had to rely on strength in the past. She has run two 5k races with me and had to reach down deep to finish each one. That took some strength – but not the kind I am looking for. I need her to have strength to say, “This life is worth living and I will fight for it.”

    *     *     *     *     *

    My wife has been asking me to add a picture CD onto her computer so she can look at them. After putting it off for too long, I finally complied. The pictures I saw reminded me of simpler times and I enjoyed scanning them as they flashed across the screen. They were from our school’s play, Anne of Green Gables, in which Kylie had a part. She barely made it through the performances because of the pain in her leg caused by the cancer soon to be diagnosed.

    Wait… what are you showing me, God? Is that strength?

    Back up – let me look again.image

    I see a little girl who was crying herself to sleep every night due to a growing tumor inside her knee. Yet in these pictures she is singing, moving, dancing, and hiding the pain behind a range of her character’s emotions so she wouldn’t disappoint in the show.

    I see a little girl who wouldn’t stop dancing until the director forced her to use crutches in the final two performances – and she was mad about that!

    I see a girl who collapsed after the finale and couldn’t attend the cast party because the pain was simply too great.

    Isn’t that smiling little girl playing a part on stage the same one who lay in a hospital bed in a medication-induced sleep just a week after the curtain fell?

    When told she had cancer inside of her, instead of crying out in anger at God, isn’t this the girl who simply said “God must have a great, big plan for me”?

    Is that precious, animated child the same one who, when she began to lose her hair to chemotherapy, decided shaved it herself to deny cancer the pleasure?

    That is incredible strength! Undeniable strength.

    What about now? If we agree that this girl is a strong girl, has four months of treatment changed her? How would a strong person face chemotherapy? Should she charge in, laughing in the face of the toxins that wreck her little body time after time?

    Or is it okay to cry, yet move on?

    Is strength found, not in the tears leading up to a hospital stay but in the gritting of her teeth when she allows the nurse to access her port one more time, knowing what will soon flow into her veins?

    How much resolve allows a transfusion that scares her to death without saying a word?

    What measure of courage is there in quiet submission to a treatment that is nearly as bad as the disease?

    An immeasurable amount!

    The frail body of my daughter holds enormous strength and when this treatment is over, I pity the boy who would try to hurt her or the obstacle that would stand in her way.

    I have always been big and thought myself strong. I have pushed large objects and run long distances. Yet I realize I am weak in comparison to my frail, eighty pound daughter, who day after day pushes on through this hell.

    She is my hero.

    Every morning that she wakes up and greets the day adds to her resolve. There may be tears, angst, cries of terror, and fits of rage – yet every day also contains smiles, kisses, hugs, warmth, joy, praise, and enough laughter and love to beat back at this enemy on her terms.

    Oh, she is strong!

    My little girl is strength personified, even if she can’t see it.

     

    sometimes


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    22. She Doesn’t Live Here Anymore

    And so, the wheel turns. My eldest has moved to college. Although my Lovely Wife (LW) tells me we have to keep her room intact because she will still come home, I remember that I never lived at home after I left for college. I am somewhat sad about that, but we’ve been prepping for this and hoping she would take flight someday. It’s just hard to watch the baby condor drop off the ledge knowing the perilous plunge that awaits.

    I’m taking it pretty well, actually. LW, not so much. Everything in the house seems to remind her that one of her babies has left the nest. Tears, oh there have been tears. I don’t understand tears, nor do I deal with them very well. I remind LW that she’s always got me… forever…  Somehow, that doesn’t seem to help.

    After moving our collegian, we had to take our little patient in for treatment where she and mom stayed a few days. While they were gone, I happened into the pantry and realized LW must not have been there since baby condor left. If food packaging could form a face, every piece of junk food in there conspired to draw our missing daughter – even to me and I’m oblivious to the most obvious of things.

    This was bad! I couldn’t let LW see this, she would cry for days. It all had to go, but the cheapskate in me said I also couldn’t throw out all of the food. Only one option remained. A 24 hour binge of Munchos and Dr. Pepper.

    Have you ever read the nutrition label on those things? DON’T! You can gain 3 pounds just from holding the bag too long. They don’t list things by proportion, otherwise the label would read something like this:

    Lard 70%image

    Air 27%

    Salt 2.5%

    Potatoes 0.5%

    How they bond the ingredients I will never know. Anyway, I polished off the first bag for breakfast and washed it down with three Dr. Peppers. I checked the remaining inventory and was disheartened to discover that LW must have decided to stock up to try to lure the girl to forsake college and stay with us. Either that or she suspected a Y2k15 disaster and wanted to be prepared. Our pantry was like a saferoom.

    This is where having many offspring should pay off! I enlisted the help of the remaining children. When I explained the dilemma, I got more “Oh, Dad” eye rolls than the average game of nine-ball. One took a Dr. Pepper before she left, so I was down to hoarder’s surplus minus one. Alone, I dug in for the day.

    In the late evening, I was sure a trip the emergency room was in order. The pantry was reverting back to a faceless state, and my stomach was screaming something in Idahoan. I was sweating a substance that looked like maple syrup, which can’t be good. I put in a call to Poison Control where a kind gentleman told me there was no known toxicity in the combination, but urged me to go to the hospital if I felt light-headed. That’s the last thing I remember before passing out amongst the crumbs of the last bag.

    When I came to, it was time to go and pick up LW and the youngest. I used the shower squeegee to remove the syrup-sweat and when I arrived, they were ready to go. The trip home was uneventful, I successfully hid the tick and slurred speech caused by sugar intake. While I was unloading the car, LW stopped me.

    “Where are the snacks for the party?”

    I shrugged my shoulders and grunted. I didn’t ask ‘what party’, I’m sure I’d been told.

    “The pantry was full of them.”

    “I dunno,” I replied without making eye contact.

    “Well, we need more for the party Saturday. Can you go to the store?”

    “Uh, sure.”

    They say never go to the store hungry. I went full! And I bought $57 worth of Dr. Pepper and Munchos, feeling bloated and quite resentful. Even after all the sweets, this was a bitter pill to swallow.


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    23. She Doesn’t Live Here Anymore

    And so, the wheel turns. My eldest has moved to college. Although my Lovely Wife (LW) tells me we have to keep her room intact because she will still come home, I remember that I never lived at home after I left for college. I am somewhat sad about that, but we’ve been prepping for this and hoping she would take flight someday. It’s just hard to watch the baby condor drop off the ledge knowing the perilous plunge that awaits.

    I’m taking it pretty well, actually. LW, not so much. Everything in the house seems to remind her that one of her babies has left the nest. Tears, oh there have been tears. I don’t understand tears, nor do I deal with them very well. I remind LW that she’s always got me… forever…  Somehow, that doesn’t seem to help.

    After moving our collegian, we had to take our little patient in for treatment where she and mom stayed a few days. While they were gone, I happened into the pantry and realized LW must not have been there since baby condor left. If food packaging could form a face, every piece of junk food in there conspired to draw our missing daughter – even to me and I’m oblivious to the most obvious of things.

    This was bad! I couldn’t let LW see this, she would cry for days. It all had to go, but the cheapskate in me said I also couldn’t throw out all of the food. Only one option remained. A 24 hour binge of Munchos and Dr. Pepper.

    Have you ever read the nutrition label on those things? DON’T! You can gain 3 pounds just from holding the bag too long. They don’t list things by proportion, otherwise the label would read something like this:

    Lard 70%image

    Air 27%

    Salt 2.5%

    Potatoes 0.5%

    How they bond the ingredients I will never know. Anyway, I polished off the first bag for breakfast and washed it down with three Dr. Peppers. I checked the remaining inventory and was disheartened to discover that LW must have decided to stock up to try to lure the girl to forsake college and stay with us. Either that or she suspected a Y2k15 disaster and wanted to be prepared. Our pantry was like a saferoom.

    This is where having many offspring should pay off! I enlisted the help of the remaining children. When I explained the dilemma, I got more “Oh, Dad” eye rolls than the average game of nine-ball. One took a Dr. Pepper before she left, so I was down to hoarder’s surplus minus one. Alone, I dug in for the day.

    In the late evening, I was sure a trip the emergency room was in order. The pantry was reverting back to a faceless state, and my stomach was screaming something in Idahoan. I was sweating a substance that looked like maple syrup, which can’t be good. I put in a call to Poison Control where a kind gentleman told me there was no known toxicity in the combination, but urged me to go to the hospital if I felt light-headed. That’s the last thing I remember before passing out amongst the crumbs of the last bag.

    When I came to, it was time to go and pick up LW and the youngest. I used the shower squeegee to remove the syrup-sweat and when I arrived, they were ready to go. The trip home was uneventful, I successfully hid the tick and slurred speech caused by sugar intake. While I was unloading the car, LW stopped me.

    “Where are the snacks for the party?”

    I shrugged my shoulders and grunted. I didn’t ask ‘what party’, I’m sure I’d been told.

    “The pantry was full of them.”

    “I dunno,” I replied without making eye contact.

    “Well, we need more for the party Saturday. Can you go to the store?”

    “Uh, sure.”

    They say never go to the store hungry. I went full! And I bought $57 worth of Dr. Pepper and Munchos, feeling bloated and quite resentful. Even after all the sweets, this was a bitter pill to swallow.


    Filed under: It Made Me Laugh

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    24. Bumps and Petty Annoyances

    There once was a humble Lord who refused the high stature, fame, and glory that he so rightly deserved. He lived with his beautiful Lady in a quiet manor deep in a thick forest. The two had a dog who rarely barked, save at pillaging squirrels – and that was just fine because the Lord hated squirrels nearly as much as he detested noise.noise

    Slowly, however, noise crept in. It started with a small bump on his Lady that grew and grew until the bump turned into a baby. How proud he was of this little bump. It cooed, it giggled, it smiled… and it cried. It shattered his peace with its colicky wails and while he loved this little bump, the Lord yearned for the peace it had stolen.

    From time to time, snuck off to the porch, basement, or rolling meadow to get away from the ruckus. As time marched on, the little bump became mobile. For some reason, it loved the Lord of the manor and would follow him to any retreat and destroy the silence he sought.

    Three more bumps put an end to any refuge on the grounds. There was nowhere to go, nowhere to hide, no square inch of silence to be found. The bumps may have shattered his peace, but they brought him laughter, love, and joy he hadn’t known before. He loved the little bumps more than he ever thought possible… even though they were loud.

    All four little bumps grew in stature and decibel until they could no longer be called little. In fact, the time came for one of them to strike off on its own. It was the oldest and loudest bump that left home in search of her destiny. Both Lord and Lady were sad. There was but one comfort in her absence, some measure of quiet returned to the manor.

    In the evenings, while the other three bumps pursued wordless interests, the Lord sat back in his easy chair and relished the silence. This newfound peace lasted several days before he realized something was missing. Something he had previously considered an annoyance was gone. He should have been happy. He should have rejoiced over the removal of the thorn. But instead, he felt a different way.

    So it went until a long weekend came and the oldest bump burst through the door with a very large bag of laundry. Beside her stood an equally loud jester she suspiciously called “boyfriend”. They sung, hooted, hollered, and raised the excitement of the other bumps until the Lord of the manor had to hold his ears. Now he knew what was missing. Though his head did ache, his heart was full enough to accept even the added noise of her jester friend.

    In this merry state, he wondered what joys had he missed over the years simply because he had loved silence over substance.

    Petty annoyances can be dangerous things, don’t give them more credence than they are due.   


    Filed under: Dad stuff

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    25. First Lines Make Lasting Impressions

    by Sally Matheny

        
    “My name is Sally.” Remember that famous first line? No?


         “My name is Ishmael.” How about that one? Even if you’ve never read Moby Dick, you probably are familiar with that first sentence. 

            




           Over the next two months, a class of teens will have my full attention as we indulge in the delicacies of creative writing. Today, the teens discussed the importance of grabbing readers’ attention in the first line or shortly thereafter.

            I read the first lines from several books to them. First, they told me the book they thought the line came from and second, they told me if it intrigued them enough to keep reading.


            See if you recognize what books hold these first lines:

    1.   “There is no lake at Camp Green Lake.”

    2.   “When I was in elementary school, I packed my suitcase and told my mother I was going to run away from home.”

    3.   “The sun did not shine. It was too wet to play. So we sat in the house. All that cold, cold wet day.”

    4.   “Grandchildren, you asked me about this medal of mine. There is much to be said about it.”

    5.   “That Sam-I-am! That Sam-I-am! I do not like that Sam-I-am!

            Did you guess correctly? 1. Holes  2. My Side of the Mountain3. The Cat in the Hat 4. Code Talker 5. Green Eggs and Ham

    Words quote by twowritingteachers
            
             This is a fun activity to do with children of any age. Just choose books of which they are familiar. I guarantee most teens will fondly remember those Dr. Seuss books even if it has been ten years since they last heard them read aloud.

            My son recently got into watching trivia game shows. He’s nine and almost all of the questions are out of his realm of comprehension. However, he loves the challenge aspect. Noticing this I now have greater results when I quiz him on school subjects if I do two things. I use my best game show announcer voice and use the words “challenge,” “advance to the next level,” and “you won!” If I cut out pictures of cars, dishwashers, and luggage to present as “prizes,” I wonder will he find that fun or cornball. It’s a fine line, you know.

         The first lines of a book can have a lasting impression. So too, adults have the potential to influence a young life, just by what they say to them:

    first thing in the morning,

    first thing after school,

    first thing after not being successful.

         Make your first lines positive and they’ll definitely have a lasting effect.



    Photo by JanusCastrane


    (*And by the way, when I was a child, one of my favorite books is Try Again, Sally. I wonder why.)
           

            

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