Category Archives: Writing

Peer Pressure Gone Right!

My children have discovered several new books that have completely captured them.  The Alex Rider series by Anthony Horowitz (www.alexrider.com) has grabbed hold of my son and won’t let go.  He has added this series to his group of all-time favorite series of books. One of his friends gave him the first book in the series at Christmas.  These two boys have always had a love of books, and the moms have enjoyed exchanging ideas of great books our boys would enjoy.  After my son devoured the first book, he checked the next one in the series out of his school library. His friend told him how much he loved the series, so that was a great motivator for him to read it ASAP.  Two days later he came home with another book, and for several weeks he always had one with him.  He was driven to read them all as quickly as possible, and started reading them again when he finished.  He constantly talked about how great they were. He must have even talked to his teacher about the book, because soon after he said his teacher was reading the first Alex Rider book aloud to the class.  Now that is a great teacher– he caught on to the enthusiasm my son had for this series and is now passing it along to the other students.

Recently I took my children to one of their most favorite places– the bookstore.  I think some people might wonder when I am asked what my children would like for a gift and I tell them a gift card to the bookstore, whether or not it is mom really wanting them to buy books.  Truth is, they beg to go on a regular basis.  They love to hang out there as much as I do.  Same story for the library.  We can’t get enough of being around books.  This trip my children both had gift cards and a definite plan of how to spend them.  My son walked out with four Alex Rider books.  He now owns all but the last one.  He was beyond excited and proudly found a home for them on his bookshelf.  What a great mommy moment.

My daughter purchased several more Beverly Cleary books (www.beverlycleary.com).  She told me that  Ellen Tebbits and  Emily’s Runaway Imagination had no choice but to come home with us.  She just loves the Ramona books and said that Beverly Clearly is a really good author, so these books just had to be great, too.  All authors like to hear that!  She really enjoys funny books and stories that she can relate to as an 8 year old girl. Several months ago we bought all three Clementine books by Sara Pennypacker.  Now those are some funny books!  I even laughed aloud when I read them, and so did my daughter.  She talks about them all the time.  I volunteered to read a chapter book aloud to her class, and she begged me to choose Clementine.  I honored her request after she said she was SO SURE everyone, including the boys, would love it.  She said she had told everyone about it and they really wanted to hear it.  She was right.  The children were so excited when I arrived each week, and didn’t want me to stop reading when our time ended.  Many children had gotten the book and read it entirely between my visits– including boys!  That was a WOW for sure!  Never underestimate the power of children talking about books to their friends.  This kind of peer pressure can make such a powerful impact.  Let’s all make sure we maximize it.   Now, plan a trip to the bookstore or library with your children today!  Only good things can happen.

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Never underestimate…

Just when children push you to your limit, I mean your final limit, they can surprise you.  I found this to be the case the other day.  My children were recently out of school for a teacher workday.  I applied my newly resurfaced idea of working together to make a plan for the day.  That went pretty well, until the squabbling started.  I had a few things that I had to get done in a designated window of time, then we were going to move forward with our plan for the day.  I had some ideas that I just had to get on paper.  The muse called and I needed to answer.  Then, moments of screams, running, doors slamming, shrieking, and crashing sounds eked their way into my work.  I was determined to not leave my task and let them “work it out” in their own way.  That worked for about 10 minutes, then I just couldn’t handle it any longer.  That proved to be even more disastrous.  He said, she said, he did, she did…  “Please let me finish my work, then we can do xyz.”  They kept on with their respective arguments.  I mustered up some mommy courage and simply walked away.

A few minutes later I noticed something unusual for that particular morning.  Silence.  Pleasantly surprised, I continued working and thought how wonderful it was that they had worked it out without my help.  I reflected on the parenting class I took several years back, Redirecting Children’s Behavior (http://www.incaf.com/ — The International Network for Children and Families).  I recently re-read the book, by the same title, by Kathryn Kvols after a friend started experiencing some parenting challenges.  I loaned her the book, but decided I should do a quick refresher before passing it along.  Reading it again was a good reminder of simple, yet powerful approaches to parenting.  One point I gleaned from the class and book was to allow children to work their issues out on their own if at all possible.  I sat there at my desk all smug and proud of myself that I remembered this simple directive.  Little did I know that more was happening than I thought!

After 15 minutes, curiosity got the best of me.  I called upstairs, “What are you all doing up there?”  “Oh, don’t worry, we are just fine.  You will actually love what we are doing.  Just don’t come upstairs until we call you.  Okay?  Promise?”

I was more than curious by this time.  I wondered what on earth they could be doing, and that I would love?  I thought about sneaking up and spying through the Jack and Jill bathroom door, but I thought better.  That just wouldn’t be right.  I ask them to be patient for things, now I had to do what I ask of them.

About 45 minutes later, both of my children came to the top of the stairs and announced that I was to come upstairs immediately.  I went upstairs and was instructed to come into my son’s bedroom.  My daughter, being the spokesperson for the two, told me that it may not look at first like they had been doing anything, but I should trust that they had been doing a lot of work.  The two of them nodded in unison.  My son took the floor next and proceeded to tell me that with the help of his sister (that part almost floored me), they had cleaned out and reorganized all of his dresser drawers.  He didn’t like the system as it was, and it needed to change.  Drawer by drawer a presentation was made, with comments sprinkled in by my daughter.  Drawer number one, socks folded neatly into matching pairs (a sock hodgepodge had always been the past order), number two, boxers (okay, he will be embarrassed that I shared this), three, the largest drawer, all UNC t-shirts folded impeccably, and so on. He even had a drawer for all of his baseball pants and accessories (the cup finally has a permanent home :)).  I was speechless.  I couldn’t believe my eyes.  “WOW!” I said.  After a few more glowing comments, I had to ask where the idea for this project came from and how they decided to work together.  My son said, “Mom, it just needed to be done.  It wasn’t working the way it was, and I didn’t feel good about where any of my clothes were.  Now I have them the way I like them, so I will keep them neat.  It works better for me.”  I then asked how he got his sister involved.  “She just said she would be happy to help me and I said sure.”  That was definitely another WOW!

Flabbergasted and proud would be good words to describe how I felt in that moment.  Never would I have imagined that my son would think of cleaning out his drawers on his own, much less enlist the support of his kid sister (although he has acknowledged in the past what a great “folder” she is).  The outcome was perfect.  They got along, did a great, much-needed project on their own, and I got to finish my writing.  If we did nothing else that day, it was a great one.  I learned to never underestimate my children.  They can and do surprise you when you least expect it! What a great mommy moment.

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Ready or not, summertime is here!

Well, it is official.  We now have a 2nd grader and a 5th grader.  They are excited about their jump in grade levels, but more than that, they are excited about it being summertime!  I have heard several moms say, including several author moms, that all has to be put on the back burner because it is summer and the kids just want to play.  Face it, adults want to play, too!  That doesn’t mean, however, that good work can’t be accomplished.  I think we just have to be more creative in how we get things done.

As an author, I do think it is a prime time to be a content creator.  I heard this title a while back, and really liked it.  It fits what I feel my calling in life is.  My husband often encourages me to wear this title and assume the role on a daily basis.  He is right.  It is so important to not just strive to create content, but to actually do so.  It is easy with a new summer schedule to think that real writing has to go by the wayside.  I don’t think that is true.  I am actually feeling more inspired to create now than I have in recent months.   I am feeling like I will, however, need to be more creative in how I structure my time to create.  I enjoyed reading the recent blog posts of fellow SCBWI members, www.throughthetollbooth.com/, discussing how to approach the summer and writing.  Good food for thought.  So, for all the authors out there, let’s create some content!

My children are easily moving into the summer routine.  Sleeping in a little later, watching movies, just hanging out.  Last week my son attending a sports camp.  On one of these days, my daughter declared that she NEEDED to have a High School Musical movie marathon (her brother would have had no interest in this great plan).  This entailed watching all three movies in succession, with NO break between each movie.  She said she wanted it to be like one really long movie.  Well, she got her wish.  She seemed a little zombie-like afterwards, but she was happy.  Now, mind you, there was mention that this would not be a pattern we could repeat on a daily basis or her mind would definitely turn to complete mush.

It was fun to let her do that, and also to let my children have a voice in what they would like to do for fun this summer.  They have given me some ideas, but we still need to make our “master list” of what we would like to do.  I have also made a list of projects to complete around the house.  I have crossed several off my list already, feeling pretty good about the progress thusfar.  My children, however, told me that it was silly for me to want to do these projects now when I should have done them in the spring while they were in school.  I guess they didn’t love the idea of helping me with all these great projects! 

The most recent project was cleaning out the garage.  My son thought it was a great idea.  I quickly realized he had a bigger idea of cleaning out the side storage room in our garage to make room for our family’s bikes.  After I picked him up from his camp, he immediately started taking everything out, and within 30 minutes, he had it cleared out.  I was impressed.  He was motivated by the idea of having a dedicated space for his bike.  It made me think about what motivates him and his sister in life overall.  I am reading a book that I think will help answer these questions.  More about this later.

The really big news in my family is that there is talk of getting a puppy.  This has been a dream of mine and our children for what seems like forever.  My husband, however, didn’t share our dream.  He called puppies varmints.  You probably get the idea of his take on the issue.  That was the case, until a recent meeting of a dog that lives on our street.  The only time I have ever heard him say that a dog was cute.  The children and I made it our mission to find that dog again and find out what kind of dog it is. 

A few days ago,  we saw the dog again, and discovered that she had been a pound puppy, and they thought she was probably a Golden Retriever/Cocker Spaniel mix.   I looked up this mix, and discovered that it was known as a Comfort Retriever.  I told my husband this information, and he has been researching this breed of dog like crazy since then.  He even called a family  meeting to share that he was open to exploring the possibility of getting a puppy.   He just asked that we complete what he called a “puppy plan” that would include all the information on what we would need, how a puppy would be cared for, etc.  We checked him for a fever.  He is fine.  He said that God had softened his heart and made him open to a puppy.  Our daughter has been praying for a puppy for a solid two years now.  She said she just knew Daddy would want a dog one day, God had told her so.  I admire her patience and perseverance.  We found a breeder a few hours away.  Next step will be a trip to visit them and meet the potential parents!  Yippee!!

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