Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Bad Mommy Moment (BMM) #1: To Ride or Not to Ride

I will be writing an occasional series of BMM posts.  These "Bad Mommy Moments" are times when I may not have made the best choice to do (or not) do something.

I will confess.
I will reveal.

All in the hopes that you will do something different, or at least find some humor in the craziness of non-perfect parenting!

BMM #1: To Ride or Not to Ride

Confession:  I have never taught my daughter how to ride a bike!

She is 14 years old,
about to enter high school, 
soon will be eligible for a driver's permit,
but can not ride a bicycle.  

At least not very well.  OK, not really at all.

I admit, this is a Bad Mommy Moment.

EVERYONE should be able to ride a bicycle!

Just like (in my opinion) everyone should be able to SWIM and DRIVE a manual, stick-shift car.  (I mean, what if you fall off a boat or have to drive a car in any other country someday?)

Unless someone has a medical reason that makes it impossible to ride a bicycle, it's ridiculous not to.  

In fact it should be a law.

Consider this:  

If you are traveling in a foreign land, have no car, no cell service, and no money.  You can still borrow a bicycle and get to your destination.  (Where you hopefully have stashed a credit card and some common sense.)

Or, closer to home, if you're a college student with a tiny apartment 3 miles from campus and don't own a car, you can ride a bike to class.  It's cheaper and great exercise!

There are SO many compelling reasons to teach a child how to ride a bike, it's amazing that ANYONE wouldn't.

So why didn't I?

I thought about it.

I even tried.  A little.

We bought Juliana a pink bike with a basket and bell.  Very cute!

We pushed her around and around.  Up hill and down.

But we live on a steep hill and Juliana never wanted to go it alone.

The plain truth is that I was just too LAZY to pack up the bike and bring it somewhere flat for practicing.

I intended to, each and every summer.

Then, all of a sudden, she's 14 and about to become independent, and go to college, and move across the county, and if she's ever stuck in the Algerian countryside without motor transportation, it will be MY fault that she couldn't ride a bike to the nearest town!

I consider this one of my worst failings as a parent.

So, what am I going to do about it?

There's still time to learn.  There's always time to learn!

So, last week, Juliana and I went to a local bike shop.  Just to look.

And we saw an amazing sight.

We saw this:
This cool, retro cruiser might be my daughter's ticket to ride!

This awesome, one-speed beauty could be the bike we've been waiting for.

So, we're heading back this week to make our decision.

And the decision to be made:  To Ride or Not to Ride

(Wish us luck!)

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Little Bliss List: Getting Stuff Done

It might not sound exciting to be "getting stuff done," but it is to me.  Especially when I laze away sooo many days (weeks) in the summer.  Of course, there's nothing wrong with lazing away summer days, in fact it's an exceptional use of time, but some days I want to feel a little more productive.

For my Little Bliss List, I'm highlighting things that made me happy during the past week.

1. My hibiscus bloomed!  It's big, bold and beautiful.  The flowers are almost obscenely large - the size of dinner plates - which is simply incredible and makes me happy!

2. My daughter and I went to the library this week and I wrote for several hours!  At home, I find it very easy to get distracted by things, such as the phone, TV, refrigerator, etc.  But at the library I was able to focus and just write.

3. For the last several weeks, there has been some concern that we might have to move across the country for job-related reasons.

This week we found out we get to stay in Minnesota!  

Despite the cold, dark winters, I truly love Minnesota.  This is our home.

4. Today (Saturday) I taught a workshop at The Loft Literary Center called "The Nuts & Bolts of Writing for Children."  I love teaching all ages, but especially adults who are trying something new like writing for kids.  It was a great group and the workshop went well.  Yea!

I hope there were several blissful highlights to your week!  If you want to link up to the Little Bliss List party, visit Liv Lane's Blog.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Hibiscus Love

Today is WORDLESS (WORDFUL) WEDNESDAY and I'm celebrating my awesome, out-of-control garden.

The hibiscus plant bloomed!

Despite every attempt on my part to basically ignore it, the hibiscus grew and bloomed!

Can I please say how much I love perennials.  And the hibiscus in particular.

What other plant has such ENORMOUS flowers?

They are literally the size of dinner plants.

The are OUTRAGEOUS!  Which is why I love them.

And beyond all sense of reason, they grow in my Minnesota garden.

These are TROPICAL plants, my friends.

They make me happy, because I get a little bit of the tropics right in my own backyard.


Plus, check out this incredible Daylily and Daisy!

The daylily and daisy get ignored sometimes, especially when they're near more glamorous plants.

But, I love these flowers too.

The daylily has amazing color combinations.

And the daisy is about as simple, and beautiful, as you can get.

Today is my Declaration of Garden Flower Love Day!

I hope you're enjoying your gardens as well!

Check out these websites for more Wordless/Wordful Wednesday posts:  AngryJulieMonday and ParentingByDummies.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Do You Want To Write Children's Books?

"I have a great idea for a children's book!"

"I've already written a children's book, but am unsure what to do next."

"I'd like to write for kids, but don't know where to start!"

Do any of these quotes describe you?

If yes, here are some helpful tips to get you on your way!

1. Take a class.
- A local college or community education office may offer classes on writing for children.  Also, there are more and more online writing classes available.  Take one!  It will make all the difference.

- If you are in the Twin Cities area of Minnesota, I'd like to invite you to a one-day workshop I'm offering through the Loft Literary Center.

with Dara Dokas
Saturday, July 21
1:00 - 5:00 pm

$62.00 Regular Price
$55.80 Member Price
$43.40 Low Income Price

Minneapolis, MN

Class Description:

Come to this information-packed session on the "nuts and bolts" of writing for children. Geared for beginning children's literature writers, this class will focus on the process and business of writing for children. You will be provided with tools you need to improve your chances of succeeding in children's writing today. From how editors (and booksellers) look at different children's book categories to how you write a query letter, you will receive information and resources the teaching artist has learned (often the hard way). This is a session the teaching artist wishes she'd attended when she was starting out! Come prepared to take notes, ask all those burning questions, and laugh along the way!

The workshop will be very informative, interactive and fun.  Plus, there will be giveaways at the end!

NOTE:  If you're interested but don't live in the area, don't worry, I will be offering an extended, ONLINE version this winter.  Watch for more information on my blog.

2. Sign up for SCBWI.
- The Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators is the go-to organization for aspiring and published children's writers and illustrators.

- Through local and national conferences, as well as, newsletters and online resources, you can connect with editors, agents, and other children's writers.  I highly recommend checking it out!

3. Write!
- So many people say they have an idea for a book, but never put pen to paper.  It won't happen unless you actually sit down and write!  Don't worry about being perfect. No one is perfect.  Think of your writing as experimentation, getting your ideas down, a first draft.   Later, you revise and polish.  The only way to begin, is to begin.  Go now and start writing!

4. Join (or Form) a Writer's Group
- Writing alone, in your tower, only gets you so far.  Writers need feedback and critique.  A class led by a professional teacher is a great way to get helpful feedback on your writing.  Another, longer-term way to receive needed feedback is to get involved in a writer's group.  You can give each other focused critique and help one another keep the motivation and momentum going!

These ideas will help you start (or continue) down the path of writing for children.

And if you're in the Twin Cities, I'd love to see you in my class!

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Hatfields and McCoys (aka. My Daughter's New Obsession)

I love how focused my teenage daughter can be.

When she's into something, she's really into it.

Her latest obsession is with the Hatfields and McCoys.

Hatfield clan April 1897 (photo credit )

The Hatfields and McCoys were two families in West Virginia and Kentucky who were constantly feuding with each other from about 1860 to 1890.

Basically, they were famous for killing each other.

Recently, the History Channel aired a excellent mini-series on the Hatfields and McCoys.  Juliana has watched it four times already.

History Channel mini-series (photo credit)

It's right up her alley.

You may already know that she has a "Bad Boys of History" obsession, which has included Jesse James, Al Capone, and a slew of pirates.

Now it's feuding mountain folk.

In addition to watching the mini-series several times, Juliana has read The Coffin Quilt, by Ann Rinaldi.  It's a fictional account of the Hatfields and McCoys for middle grade readers.

She has also read a recently published adult nonfiction book called Blood Feud, by Lisa Alther.  Alther was born in an Appalachian town and her father's family is related by marriage to the McCoys.

Juliana says: "Blood Feud is nonfiction, but it's written like a novel.  It also has lots of pictures.  Something interesting I learned is that Devil Anse Hatfield was in three units simultaneously during the Civil War.  The McCoys had 17 kids and the Hatfields had 13."

Juliana's favorite Hatfield is Cap, second oldest of Anse's sons.

Cap Hatfield in History Channel mini-series

Can you tell why?

1. He's cute.
2. He's got that eye thingy goin' on.
3. He's the best sharp-shooter of them all.

Juliana's favorite McCoy is Roseanna, star-crossed lover of Johnse Hatfield.

Roseanna in History Channel mini-series

Why?  Because she's the most sane one of them all.

Now Juliana wants to plan a trip to West Virginia and Kentucky - the Tug Fork region - for a vacation. With the popularity of the Hatfields and McCoys mini-series, who knows what we'd find.  Hopefully not anything cheesy like fake shootouts and plastic figurines.

But, we'd both love a glimpse into what life was like in the Appalachian mountains in the late 1880's.  That would be an amazing trip indeed.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Friday Bliss List

This week has been unusually hot with temps over 100.  But despite the heat there have been several moments of bliss to celebrate!

My Friday Bliss List:

1.  I am so thankful for electricity and central air conditioning!  This may sound silly, but I'm actually very thankful for these things.  They provided some much needed bliss this week!

2. Our neighborhood 4th of July celebration is amazing every year.  Tons of people come to watch the parade and then gather afterward in the park for a giant community picnic.  Despite the heat, a lot of people came out to celebrate.

Students from our local high school's Junior ROTC.

3.  Rain!  As I write, the rain and cooler temps are finally moving into the cities.  Not only do our plants, trees and grass need the rain, so do the people.

4. My 14 year-old daughter and I have been spending a lot of time chillin' together.  We've been to a movie, shopping, and reading together.  Yesterday afternoon we started a Lord of the Rings marathon, which continues today.  I love Mom/Daughter time!

Can Legolas be any cuter?

5. My garden can be described as eclectic and a bit wild.  But, despite my lack of overall planning, some beautiful plants have been growing this summer.  This week the daisies were in full bloom, a variety of lilies opened, and the hibiscus has several buds about to burst!

What gave you a little bliss this week?

Check out more Bliss Lists over at Liv Lane's blog.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Small Town 4th of July Parade

OK, we don't live in a small town.  We live in a large city.

But our neighborhood feels like a small town.  And we throw a rockin 4th of July celebration.

Our neighborhood event has the only 4th of July Parade in the city, so LOTS of people come to watch.  Afterward, tons of people gather in the park for picnics, pony rides, and old timey band music.

I worried that today's parade would be smaller and poorly attended because it's freaking 104 degrees outside and humid!

But, the parade was as great as ever!

The only change I could see was they put the seniors from the local nursing home earlier in the parade instead of toward the end.  That way they could return to air conditioning sooner.

Here's some parade highlights.

The Marine Corp Junior ROTC students from our local high school led the parade with the American flag.

Junior ROTC students leading the parade.

They were followed by a neighborhood WWII veteran, seniors from the nursing home, and little kids from a local preschool.

Next came boy scouts and girl scouts.

Senior Girl Scouts (Juliana's former troop)

There were several dignitaries including our State Representative (mother-in-law of Juliana's 4th grade teacher), our Congresswoman, representatives from the School Board, Police Chief, and the Principals from the neighborhood elementary, middle and high school.  All of them rode in convertibles and waved as they went by.

Juliana's future High School Principal

The parade also included:

- The Anaphylactic Shock and Food Allergy group
- The Bugle, our local newspaper
- Kids hoola-hooping
- The neighborhood gas station
- A firetruck
- The neighborhood foundation
- The local adoption agency with flags from the childrens' birth countries
- Guys on unicycles
- The local salon
- Bagpipes
- Boy Scouts leading a giant tower they built

- And at the very end of the parade, neighborhood kids riding decorated bikes or being pulled in wagons.

After the parade was over, it was time to head down to the park for a little picnic.

Because of the heat, we decided to only stay a little while.

Here's a collage of
- Paul and Juliana trying to stay cool,
- the Patriotic Essay Winners who later read their essays from the park bandstand,
- and Paul in the shade.

Paul and Juliana, Patriotic Essay Winners, Paul in the shade.

This evening there will be another band and dancing in the park.

I don't think we'll be heading back down.  It's too darn hot outside.

But, once again, I'm reminded of how fortunate we are to live in a community that comes together to celebrate our country's Independence Day together.

Happy 4th of July!