Thursday, October 25, 2012

Did I Just Say That?

Today I'm sharing some of my Proud Parenting Moments with you, so that you can feel better about your day, your parenting abilities, and basically, your life!

I chose the following writing prompt from Mama Kat's Writer's Workshop:

4.) "Write a list of 10 things you have said to your kids that other moms might not say."

Thus, the birth of my list.

10 Proud Parenting Moments

1. "I am the Champion and you are the Loser!"  

(Sung to my 5 year-old daughter after I won a board game.  Bad. Very Bad.)

2. "Do you need a pair of 'freshies'?"

(Embarrassed teen daughter with improvised word for fresh pair of underwear.)

3. "I got a new job at your junior high school!  Won't that be fun?!

(Joke gone wrong.  Daughter burst into tears.)

4. "I can't walk the dog.  I'm all 'boob-a-gie."

(Meaning I had no bra on.)

5. "Do you have any jeans that don't show butt crack when you bend over?"

(Said to young, male sales associate in front of my daughter.)

6. "Because her mom is on crack!"

(Said in response to, "But why does she get to do that?"  Oops.  Bad. Very bad.)

7. "Did you actually shampoo your hair?"

8. "What smells like stinky feet?"

9. "Is that your breath?"


10. "Can I hold your hand?"

(Said basically anytime I'm out walking with my daughter.  Sometimes I don't even ask.  I just grab it.)

Now don't you feel better about your parenting skills?!

I thought so.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

What's Wrong with Middle Schoolers Anyway?


And Everything!
Age 14 - at the end of Middle School.

Middle School is a crazy time for kids (and parents!)

I'm the parent of a daughter who recently passed through the "Valley of the Shadow of Middle School," and we both survived.

Thus, I'm now an EXPERT on parenting a middle school daughter.  Right?


Yet, I'm writing a book all about it!

From parenting a middle schooler, and working with middle schoolers every day, I've observed some important insights into the creatures known as middle schoolers.

Middle School Kids . . .

1. Like gum.  They are also generally willing to share their gum with you.

2. Have very strong emotions that reside just below the surface at all times.  One small thing can propel these emotions to the surface with a vengeance.

3. Like Hot Cheetos and Takis.  If you haven't seen the Youtube video made by Minneapolis kids, check it out HERE.

4. Want to pick out their own clothes.  Don't even think about bringing home an outfit for them unless you've cleared it ahead of time.

5. Like money. They want to buy stuff. And the stuff they want is more expensive than in elementary school.  For example: i-pods, i-pads, i-phones, expensive athletic shoes, and anything from Hollister.

And that's just the beginning!

** If you're a parent of a middle schooler, or a former middle schooler, I'd love to hear your insights into parenting kids during these sometimes tricky years!

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Maggie Stiefvater in the Heartland

This past week was the Heartland Fall Forum which is an annual trade show and conference for Independent Booksellers in the Upper-Midwest and Great Lakes region of the country.

I attended this event in Minneapolis with my Bookseller, Author, and Reader hats on.

The best part about attending this conference is meeting the many authors and illustrators who are there and getting signed copies of their books.

This year's highlight for me was hearing Maggie Stiefvater speak.  She is funny, down-to-earth, and super-talented! 

Maggie Stiefvater and me.

She talked about the fact that people always ask her two questions:  "Why do you write for young adults?" and "Why do you write fantasy?"

Her answers were smart and humorous.  I loved her story of the horse she and her sister owned as kids. It was a semi-wild, former racehorse that "always ran faster to the left."  She would climb on and hold on for dear life.  She was never certain if she would return in one piece, but it was amazing fun!  This experience, and many others, help her create the worlds and characters of her books, including her new book, The Raven Boys, which looks like an excellent read!

My other favorite part of attending this conference, is going to the trade show and seeing the publisher reps I know and have worked with over the years.

Even though I'm not working at the bookstore now, I was a bookseller and children's book buyer for 3+ years.   Independent booksellers build strong relationships with their publisher reps and depend on them to make good recommendations for their store.

This is one of my favorite reps - Terri Beth from Scholastic.

She's holding one of their best fall novels, The Raven Boys.

Terri Beth is just awesome!

Lastly, here's me with David Geister, illustrator of T is for Twin Cities by Nancy Carlson and Barry McCool.

David Geister and me.

He's a great artist and former Historic Fort Snelling costumed interpreter, as you can see by his outfit.  As a former Minnesota Historical Society employee myself, I always appreciate a fellow history buff!

I had a great time at the trade show and conference.  Now it's time to get started reading all those great books!

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Plaid Kilts and Caber Tossing

Today, I'm participating in Mama Kat's Writer's Workshop.  The prompt I chose is:

1) What comes to mind when you think of the word "plaid?"

In my mind, plaid = kilts = Scottish clan tartans.

The clans of Scotland have their own tartan (or plaid) that their kilts are made of.

There's MacArthur Clan Tartan,

Donegal Clan,

Robertson Clan,

and many, many more.

We recently saw many different tartans at a Scottish Fling.  The Scottish Fling was a festival that held The 6th Annual World Amateur Highland Heavy Games Championships!  (Did you know there was such a thing?)

There's the 22lb Stone of Strength competition, the 56lb Weight Throw, and my personal favorite - the Caber Toss.

Do you know what a caber is?

It's basically a telephone pole!  It's a long, heavy, wooden pole that very strong men toss through the air.

What the heck?!

Surprisingly, I know a man who tosses cabers.

In college, my husband's friend was practicing for a Caber Toss competition.  This man is huge!  He's around 6'8'' and big.  Really big.

He used to practice with his caber at the park.

Paul, my husband, asked: "Where to you keep your caber?"
Friend: "At the park."
Paul:  "Do you lock it up? Don't you worry someone will steal it?"
Friend:  "Who could possibly steal a caber?"

Right.  No one could steal it.

So back to plaid.

I love a man in a kilt.  Playing the bagpipes, throwing stones, or hefting cabers.  It's just plain cool.

And remember, the only appropriate thing to wear under a kilt is nothing at all.

(Just be careful how you sit!)

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Procrastination as an Art Form

I've always known I'm a procrastinator.

- Waiting till Sunday night to do my homework in high school.

- Waiting to start a major paper in college until a day or two before it's due.

- Starting my bookclub book the night before we meet.

Yes, I'm a Major Procrastinator.  I'm so good at procrastinating that I've taken it to the level of an Art Form.

Procrastinating has served me well.  In the above situations, the looming deadlines kick me into high gear and I can rock that homework, paper, or book.  I got very good grades in high school and college.  And I can easily read a book in a day, if that's what I set out to do.

And yet . . .

Being a procrastinator is not always a good thing.  In fact, it's usually quite the opposite.

If I don't have a hard deadline, I take my sweet old time.  This goes for basically everything.

My husband once said, "It's a good thing we have people over sometimes, or our house would never get really clean."

The day before guests come over, I go into a cleaning frenzy (and force my husband and daughter to help), and dang if our house doesn't SHINE!

But, "no guests" = "dust bunnies under the piano."

On a much larger, and more important scale, I now realize how much procrastinating has affected my career as a writer.

I love writing.

I love being a writer.

I love completing a book and sharing it with the world.

So why then do I find it so difficult to write every day?

Why is it so easy for me to find other things to do instead of write?

- Watch The Mentalist on TV.
- Get a coffee and cookie at the bank.
- Walk to the bookstore.
- Walk to the library.
- Watch Law & Order on TV.
- Have lunch with a friend.
- Check Facebook.
- Check Twitter.
- Get more coffee.
- Play solitaire online.

You get the picture.

And all this happens when I'm supposed to be writing.  It's my free time - my writing time - because I'm not at my "regular" job.

Why do I do this?  Why do I have such a problem with procrastination and lack of self-motivation?  Am I just inherently lazy?  Do I secretly not want to succeed?

Or is there a clue in my earlier examples?

Maybe I really do need a deadline to get me moving!

But if I set my own deadlines, is it the same thing?  Will I simply look at them as suggestions, instead of actual hard deadlines?

Well, I'm sick of procrastinating where my writing is concerned.

I have projects started and waiting to take flight!

So, I've set a real deadline for myself.

I will finish my writing project by the end of December or I will have to go back to working five days/week at my "regular" job.

Since I really like having the time to write, I had better use it.  Use it or lose it!

This is my promise to myself.

I will write and write well.  I will stick to my December deadline because there will be consequences if I don't.  I will be proud of what I have accomplished.

My writing is an Art Form too.  And it deserves my attention.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Things Teens Never Say

Today I was inspired by Scary Mommy's post Things Children Never Say.

Since I have a new high school freshman in the house, I decided to write my own list featuring TEENS.


Things Teens Never Say

1.  I'm so glad school starts at 7:30 am.

2.  Could you please chaperone the Homecoming Dance?

3.  I don't want a car for my 16th birthday.  That's way too much!

4.  I don't need a raise in my allowance.  I have enough money already.

5.  I'll clean the cat box right away.

6.  I have so much homework this weekend.  I'll think I'll do it Friday night.

7.  Can I go to bed early?

8.  That rated R movie is too racy for me.

9.  Can you teach me how to dress?

10.  Let me help you with that!