Monday, October 31, 2011

PiBoIdMo - Picture Book Idea Month

Tomorrow, November 1, is the start of PiBoIdMo - Picture Book Idea Month. During the month of November, Tara Lazar over at organizes PiBoIdMo.

During the 30 days of November, the challenge is to come up with one picture book idea each day so that at the end of the month you have 30 picture book ideas.

If you have any interest in writing for children, this is a great way to start brainstorming and keep motivated. Also, if you officially sign up for PiBoIdMo, you could win cool prizes.

Check it out at: PiBoIdMo

Halloween Costumes

This is my daughter's last year to Trick-or-Treat. She's in 8th grade, so tonight is her last "hurrah" for door-to-door candy collecting.

She and her two friends are trick-or-treating with her friend's 2nd grade sister. They're chaperoning the little sister but also get to dress up and collect candy themselves. Afterward, they'll meet back at the friend's house for a party.

My daughter is dressing as The Mad Hatter. A cute, girly version of The Mad Hatter, that is. (Note: She will not be taking my grandmother's china tea cup with her. That stays home.)

It doesn't seem long ago that she looked like this on Halloween night:

At 5 years old, she was a fairy princess with her ballerina dog in tow. That facial expression looks familiar though.

It says, "Are you done taking photos? I want to go get me some candy!"

What is your child wearing for Halloween? Link up to Sellabit Mum and Four Plus an Angel for their Boo in the Blogosphere event!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Writer's Workshop: 22 Things I Have Done

Thursday is Writer's Workshop Day and I'm linking up with Mama Kat's Pretty Much World Famous Writer's Workshop. The prompt I chose was:

22 Things I Have Done

1. Touched a string ray

2. Published three books for children

3. Gone on the Chicago Gangster Tour (see photo!)

4. Seen the Berlin Wall (when it was still up)

5. Been to Jamaica and did NOT get my long hair braided.

6. Kayaked on Lake Superior

7. Performed on stage

8. Been interviewed on TV

9. Was an “Interstellar Ticket Agent” on Newton’s Apple (PBS)

10. Taught Junior High English

11. Directed West Side Story

12. Broken my finger trying to play volleyball

13. Dressed in Medieval garb

14. Talked in a fake accent all day

15. Brought my child to the Emergency Room

16. Met Barbara Kingsolver and she said, “Hi. My name’s Barbara.”

17. Played a fiddle (poorly)

18. Sold a book.

19. Bought a book.

20. Stole a piece of candy (I was 4)

21. Had a baby that was in the NICU for 10 days

22. Driven my daughter to school in my pajamas

What have you done that was fun, awesome, embarrassing, or goofy?

Mama’s Losin’ It

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Turkey On My Patio

Today is Wordless Wednesday where the picture speaks for itself. (But sometimes I speak a teensy bit for it too.)

This turkey visited my patio in September, along with his 10 turkey family members. I live in a big city so it's always amusing when the turkeys visit.

I think he's saying, "Whoa, camera lady. Where'd you come from. I'm outa here!"

Here's the whole family. They look a little skinny. Come back for another visit - in about a month - when you're a bit plumper!

NapTime MomTog Angry Julie Monday parenting BY dummies

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Letter Jacket Dreams

This morning my daughter asked me if I ever "lettered" in anything in high school. And if I had a letter jacket.

Here's how the conversation went:

"Did you get a letter in high school?"

"I think I got a letter for band."

"Band? I meant for a sport?"

"Well, the only sport I did was Ski Team. But I don't think I got a letter."

"But, did you have a Letter Jacket?"

"Nope. I didn't have a letter jacket."

(I did NOT tell her that there was no way in heck that I would have worn a letter jacket in high school. I was way too "alternative" and cool for that nonsense.)

Then she said, "I want to letter in track so I can get a Letter Jacket."

OK then. I'm thrilled that she's thinking ahead like that. I'm excited that she wants to stick with track and run like nobody's business. It's something I never would have done and I'm thrilled she wants to.

So what if the motivation seems to be fashion rather than actual fitness. Whatever works is OK by me!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Pumpkin Carving Extraordinaire

Halloween is just a week away. Costumes are being prepared, candy purchased, and pumpkins are being carved. At my house, a carved pumpkin consists of three triangles for eyes and nose, and if we're lucky, a mouth with one or two teeth.

Not so for my friend, and children's author/illustrator, David LaRochelle. He is a Professional Pumpkin Carver! No lie, his pumpkin carving is seriously amazing, as you can see. He's even been interviewed on national television about his pumpkins.

Here's an awesome alien pumpkin carved by David:

During October, David carves amazing pumpkins. The rest of the year, David writes and illustrates children's books, including one of my all-time favorite kid's books, THE BEST PET OF ALL. Actress Reese Witherspoon agrees, because she chose THE BEST PET OF ALL to read out loud at The White House, during the 2010 Easter Egg Roll event. You can watch a video of Reese reading David's book on his website.

To see more amazing pumpkins carved by David, check out his website HERE.

Maybe his pumpkin carving will give yours (and mine) a little inspiration this Halloween!

(Both pumpkins shown were carved by David LaRochelle.)

Friday, October 21, 2011

Kid Quote

A mom was talking to her 8 year-old daughter about how some strangers are not safe.

Mom: "What would you do if a stranger asked you for directions?"
Daughter: "I'd give him directions."
Mom: "But what if he was a bad person and wanted to hurt you?"
Daughter: "Then I would grab the bull by the horns and kick him in his privates."

(Excellent, empowered answer! But I'd also add, "Yell for help and run like hell!")

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Some Things I've Never Done . . . and Some I Have

Here are 22 Things I've Never Done . . .

1. Been to Tahiti (But I sure want to.)
2. Lived in a castle (ditto)
3. Spent a year abroad
4. Gone on a safari in Africa (Definitely want to.)
5. Eaten Fugu (DON'T want to.)
6. Run a 1/2 marathon (Who am I kidding? I've never even run a 5K.)
7. Gone bobsledding
8. Gotten a facial
9. Had my legs waxed
10. Jumped out of an airplane
11. Forgotten to wear underwear (Whew!)
12. Been to a midnight movie
13. Seen a Yeti
14. Touched a bear (that's alive)
15. Had a pet iguana
16. Had a pet donkey (I'd love a mini-donkey.)
17. Gone to a ham radio event with my husband
18. Driven a Ferrari
19. Been to Hawaii
20. Made my own kayak (My mom made one.)
21. Gone whitewater river rafting
22. Held a platypus

(My daughter with Suzanne Collins.)

And Some Things I Have Done . . .

1. Gone dog sledding
2. Slept in a castle in Germany (A very small castle.)
3. Been lost in Tangiers, Morocco (In high school. Yikes!)
4. Milked a cow
5. Had breakfast with Suzanne Collins (The Hunger Games)
6. Cleaned up cat, dog and human barf
7. Been to Alcatraz
8. Seen several Moose
9. Climbed a Mayan pyramid
10. Had a daughter, whom I adore

Mama’s Losin’ It

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Cat Nap

Today is Wordless Wednesday, where the picture speaks for itself.

Not the most comfortable place for a nap, but darn cute! Our cat, like most cats, loves to fit into empty boxes, bags, the Barbie dream house, and apparently the sink.

Angry Julie Monday

NapTime MomTog

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

New Kids Books

Besides being a parent, I'm also a bookseller and bookbuyer at a great, independent bookstore called Micawber's. I get to buy all the children's books for the store, which is awesome!

Here's a link to my Bookshop Gal blog where I highlight some of my favorite new books by Minnesota Authors.

Come on over and check it out!

Pets are Family

The other day I announced that we had crossed our pet limit; that we had somehow taken in "one pet too many." But which pet? That's like saying, "which kid was the one too many?" You can't. Pets are family.

Pets are awesome, fuzzy, loving, lovable additions to the family. They can also be demanding, barfing, pooping machines that require more work than a broken down Model-T.

We tolerate their bad breath and putrid farts. We feed them God-knows-what. We let them out 7,000 times a day! And we clean the nasty cat box.

But, in return, we get love (from the dogs) like no other. Who else runs to the door and jumps up and down every time you come home. Even if you left just minutes before, your return is met with enthusiasm and, "Oh boy, oh boy, am I happy to see you!"

As for the cat, no such greeting at the door. But he's a warm, fuzzy, purring lap warmer. And it gets cold here in winter. So, he's a keeper too. As for the rabbit. Well, he's just so darn cute and soft!

We tried to include them in our family Christmas photos last year. But, alas, this was the best one. It's not so easy to wrangle three people AND three animals at the exact same time. Plus, where's the rabbit? We'll have to try again this year.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Costume Wedding

This weekend my husband and I went to a wedding . . . in costumes! This was a first for us, and it turned out to be lots of fun.

A former student of mine got married. OK, OK, I'm not that old. When you teach high school, your students reach marrying age a lot quicker than say the students of a kindergarten teacher.

Emily was one of my favorite students (I can say that because it's not like picking your favorite child) and she used to babysit my daughter. So, I was really looking forward to her wedding.

Emily and her fiance, Eric, both love Halloween and wanted a Halloween-themed, costume wedding. After convincing my husband that we wouldn't be the only ones dressed up, we decided to wear renaissance outfits. The only thing my husband had to leave behind was his sword. Apparently, double-sided knives more than 3 inches (or so) are illegal to carry around. Since his sword is a couple FEET long, he left it at home.

The wedding and reception were held at the Wabasha Street Caves which is said to be one of the most haunted places in the country. The Caves were also a big hangout for several gangsters in the 1930's like Ma Barker and John Dillinger. During Prohibition, St. Paul was known as a "safe-haven" for gangsters. The crooked police chief looked the other way as long as gangsters: 1. Didn't commit a crime within the city limits of St. Paul (apparently Minneapolis was fair game), and 2. Made large, yearly donations to the city.

The Caves were, surprisingly, less dank and creepy than I thought they would be. But there are plenty of stories. Rumor has it that three gangsters were actually buried there by a fellow thug. I can't vouch for that, nor can I say I saw any ghosts, but the caves were creepy enough to be the perfect spot for the beautiful bride and groom and their costumed guests.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Kid Quote

This morning, my 13 year-old daughter said to me:

"Could you please refrain from talking to me before 7:00 am."

She said this as I was straightening her hair for her. I guess she'll be going curly for awhile.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Writer's Workshop: 10 Things You Should Never Ask Your Spouse

Today is Writer's Workshop day here at Planet Parenting. I'm linking up with Mama Kat's Writing Workshop. Here's the prompt I chose:

A List of Ten Things You Should Never Ask Your Spouse!

1. If you ever had an affair with someone, who would it be with?

2. How much do you weigh?

3. Have you ever heard of Rogaine?

4. Does mental illness run in your family?

5. After your spouse gets in a auto accident, you ask, "Which car was it?" before asking, "Are you OK?"

6. Were you saving that money for something?

7. What's our credit card limit again?

8. How would you feel if I took the kids and lived in Florida during the school year while you stay here and work?

9. Can I go away with my friends for a month while you stay home with the kids and pets?

10. Can you clean my fungus?

Two of these, unfortunately, have actually been said in my household.

Can you guess which two?

Mama’s Losin’ It

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

First Day Photos

Today, I'm linking up with blogger Angry Julie Monday's "Wordless Wednesday." We all know a picture speaks a thousand words. And this one speaks volumes!

I always take a First Day of School photo and have ever since my daughter started kindergarten. Usually, she's dressed up, carrying her new backpack, and smiling from ear to ear.

This year - 8th grade - not so much!

Compare this photo to her 1st grade photo.

Ahh, the joys of being in 8th grade. Life is much "tougher" at 13 than 6.

Angry Julie Monday

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Cougar Moms

At the high school my daughter will attend next year, the sports teams are called The Cougars. Since my daughter runs track, I figure I'll be attending a lot of meets. A friend of mine suggested we print up shirts that say "Cougar Moms" to wear to all the sports events. Funny idea right?

I told my husband, who works in computer security, and he said, "No Way! If you type 'Cougar Moms' into the internet, you'll find all kinds of bad."

So, of course, I did.

And he was right. It's all kinds of bad.

So, now I'm thinking we should print up "Go Team!" instead for our school spirit t-shirts.

* Please notice the spelling of "track" on my daughter's team sweatpants. Miss Pitman, the coach, almost hit the roof when the printer delivered 40 pairs of sweats with TRAACK on them. Since no one messes with Miss Pitman, the entire team now has two sets of sweatpants - one spelled TRAACK and one spelled TRACK.

And there's Cheech, our little cougar.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Queen of Mean

I'm afraid to admit that, at times, I have been called the Queen of Mean.

My college roommate (and best friend) coined the phrase. I can't remember the exact catalyst, but it had something to do with the fact that I found (find) it quite funny when people are startled, or trip, or are fooled in outrageous ways. Please note, I do NOT find it funny if someone is actually hurt by being startled, tripping or fooled. That's just not nice.

But, for example, I think these photos taken by a hidden camera at a haunted house are hilarious.

I know I should probably feel very bad about thinking these faces of frightened people are funny. But, I don't. Queen of Mean, remember.

But, when it comes to being the Queen of Mean as a mother, that's another story. I learned my lesson six years ago when I made my 7 year-old cry.

I didn't mean to make her cry. It just sort of happened. It's all because, as the Queen of Mean, I'm also a sore winner. I'm a perfectly fine loser. In fact, it hardly phases me to lose a game. It just spurs me on to play again. But winning can be bad. I love playing games. And I love to win.

My daughter, husband and I were playing a game - Blokus I think - when suddenly I beat the pants off the two of them. Whoo Hoo! I was dancing and singing. I might have been singing a rendition of "We are the Champions" by Queen, but it sounded more like:

"I am the Champion! And you are the losers!"

I know. Bad, isn't it.

Anyway, my daughter started to cry. (Do you blame her?) And I suddenly realized how mean the Queen of Mean could actually be.

I apologized profusely and really meant it. I said I made a big mistake and wouldn't do it again. And I've tried very hard. When I win, I'm happy. But I don't make a giant deal out of it. (Maybe in my head I make a little deal out of it.) But I certainly don't say, "And you are the losers!" That would be mean.

That was six years ago and every once in awhile my daughter brings it up. I guess it made a big impression on her. And maybe she's giving me little reminders to keep the Queen of Mean in check.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Kid Quote

While driving past a gas station, 5 year-old Philip said,

"There's three ways to spell my name.
P H I L I P,

P H I L L I P, &

F I L L U P."

- Philip, age 5

Thursday, October 6, 2011

To Wash or Not to Wash

My 13 year-old daughter and I have an ongoing disagreement regarding how often she should wash herself and her hair.

I'm in the camp of taking a shower every day. As for hair washing, it depends on your hair. I wash my hair every other day so it doesn't get dry and frizzy. My daughter's hair tends toward the oily side, so she should wash her hair every day.

My daughter does NOT want to wash her hair every day. She says, "It's a waste of time. And I hate getting wet!"

So, should I let her go about life being a little greasy? Even when a faint aroma begins to bloom? Or should I insist on a daily shower?

Maybe I should just be glad that she doesn't swing the other direction and spend hours in the bathroom every morning.

What do you think?

(P.S. In this photo she is purposely dressed like a greaser from The Outsiders.)

Mama’s Losin’ It

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Too old to Trick-or-Treat?

How old is too old to Trick-or-Treat? That is the discussion at our house this week.

My daughter is in eighth grade. She's 13 years old. She's wondering:

1. Can she still dress up and walk around the neighborhood ringing doorbells for treats? (Which she really wants to do.)
2. Should she stay home and pass out candy to younger kids?
3. Should she plan a Halloween party with some of her friends, so they can at least dress up?
4. Or go trick-or-treating with a friend who has a little sister. That way they could dress up and get candy, but really be escorting the little kid.

I remember trick-or-treating when I was about her age and being scolded by a woman at her door! "You're too old to trick-or-treat. You should be ashamed of yourself!"

High school is too old. That I'm sure of. But what about Junior High? Usually I have an opinion about everything. But to this conundrum, I say she should do what feels best.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

School Pictures - Just Write

This morning I saw my daughter's 8th grade school pictures. The familiar photo package was lying on the kitchen counter. She's wearing her pretty blue shirt (that three other girls were wearing that day, apparently.) Her hair is straightened. Her new braces are glinting and her glasses are astride her cute little nose. And she's smiling.

Good picture.

Then I notice one big strand of hair out of place, lying smack across her forehead. Why didn't the camera guy tell her to push the strand back? My husband tells me that he was taking 200 pictures an hour. Perfection was not the goal.

But this photo will be hanging on my in-laws wall for the entire next year.

Should we do retakes? My daughter has never done re-take pictures before. But that strand of hair is bugging me.

Then my husband reminds me of our junior high school photos. Ugh! He was a skinny guy with gigantic glasses. I had strange little pony tails sticking out of the side of my head. Good Grief!

It's all PERSPECTIVE! My daughter is smiling. Her eyes are open. And she is beautiful.

No retakes needed.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Dressing Up is Fun

Yesterday, my family went on our annual pilgrimage to the Minnesota Renaissance Festival. The Minnesota "Ren Fest" is the second largest Renaissance Festival in the country and it's lots of fun. But you have to do it right.

1. Go right away in the morning when they open the gates.

2. Dress is Renaissance clothing (or as close as you can get.) This makes the experience much more fun!

3. Watch the Joust! This is your only opportunity to watch two grown men on giant horses trying to knock each other off with long wooden poles.

4. Interact with the fair workers and vendors. If you are dressed up, they will call you Milady and treat you like you're part of the fair, not just a spectator.

5. Go home before dinner. Things get decidedly more "adult" in the evening.

6. Thank the fair workers and vendors. Be thankful you don't have to travel around the country dressed in a corset to earn your income.

(The above photo is of me and my daughter a couple years ago at the fair.)