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Thanks so much for visiting HipWriterMama, my blog about children's books, authors and readergirlz!

It's time for a change. I've decided to focus my attention on my writing blog, www.vivianleemahoney.com. Hope to see you there!

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Friday, March 30, 2007

Poetry Friday: When I Was Fair And Young

I find it so interesting how centuries ago, women ruled lands and were considered to be savvy political and military strategists. With no doubts of womanhood undermining their power. And in present day United States? Well. You can read between the lines on this one.

Queen Elizabeth I was the daughter of Henry VIII and his second wife, Anne Boleyn. Some interesting facts:

  • Her half sister, Queen Mary I, imprisoned Elizabeth for suspected treason for a couple of months. Afterwards, Elizabeth was placed under house arrest.
  • Queen Mary I, also known as "Bloody Mary," was a Catholic. She persecuted Protestants. Queen Mary I tried to get her half sister Elizabeth to convert, since Elizabeth was a Protestant. When Queen Mary I passed away, Elizabeth became Queen. Queen Elizabeth never converted and helped create the present day Church of England.
  • Queen Elizabeth I is sometimes referred to as The Virgin Queen, Gloriana or Good Queen Bess. She never married.
  • She reigned for 45 years. Her reign is referred to as the Elizabethan era.
  • Talented men such as William Shakespeare, Edmund Spenser, Sir Walter Raleigh and Francis Bacon sought her favor and approval.
  • The State of Virginia, the 13th colony of what was to become the United States, was named after the Virgin Queen, Queen Elizabeth I.
  • Queen Elizabeth I was a writer and poet.
Here's to a much loved female queen, a royal strong role model, who was known for being an even tempered, decisive, resourceful, intelligent, and charismatic ruler.



When I Was Fair And Young
by Queen Elizabeth I (1533-1603)
When I was fair and young, then favor graced me.
Of many was I sought their mistress for to be.
But I did scorn them all and answered them therefore:
Go, go, go, seek some other where; importune me no more.

How many weeping eyes I made to pine in woe,
How many sighing hearts I have not skill to show,
But I the prouder grew and still this spake therefore:
Go, go, go, seek some other where, importune me no more.

Then spake fair Venus’ son, that proud victorious boy,
Saying: You dainty dame, for that you be so coy,
I will so pluck your plumes as you shall say no more:
Go, go, go, seek some other where, importune me no more.
As soon as he had said, such change grew in my breast
That neither night nor day I could take any rest.
Wherefore I did repent that I had said before:
Go, go, go, seek some other where, importune me no more.
Susan from Chicken Spaghetti heads up the roundups for Poetry Friday this week.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Interview Meme: Food, Questions, Answers

Aklelda the Gleeful over at Saints and Spinners thought of a few questions for my interview meme. She came up with four questions for everyone who wanted to participate, and then one special question for each person. Gulp. So go grab some coffee or tea, pull up a chair and stay awhile. Let's have some delicious food and I'll let you in on a few good things.

1) If my family came over to your house for dinner, what sorts of things would be good to prepare so that everyone could partake of the meal and enjoy it? (Note: This was the last question Aklelda the Gleeful asked, but I'll answer it first so you can join in, have some dinner and delightful conversation.)

As you may all know by now, my middle child has severe food allergies to dairy, dairy proteins, egg whites, shellfish, and nuts. Food tends to be overly inspected to make sure it is fit to enter our home and into middle child's mouth. But, don't let yourself think that if you come over for dinner, all you'll be served is warm water and watery gruel. Oh no. You'll be exposed to quite a feast of gastronomic delights. So don't run away. Sit down and stay for a bit.

First, let me share the 3 house rules with you. I sometimes offer a couple dishes that may contain a bit of dairy product. Therefore, #1. We ask our family and guests to wash their hands before dinner and after dinner. Just so we can eliminate as many allergens from everyone's hands that can cross contaminate items in our home our allergic child regularly uses. Such as the sofa, tables, chairs, tv clicker, etc. #2. Do not be offended if middle child is reluctant or won't hug you goodbye or let you kiss her on the cheek. She's watching what people put in their mouths and doesn't want an allergic reaction. #3. I tend to make alot of food when we entertain. So eat, drink, tell some good jokes and have a great time. And now, here's my impress the guests entertainment menu (only one item contains something Middle Child would be allergic to. Everything else, even desserts she can eat. Desserts do not contain egg, butter or nuts). Enjoy!

Appetizers
  • Lemon Hummus, Tabouli and Mini Whole Wheat Pita Pockets
  • Roasted Eggplant and Red Pepper Dip with Cut up Carrots, Red andYellow Peppers, Cucumbers and Celery
  • Salsa, Guacomole and Chips
Dinner
  • Homemade Chive and Sea Salt Focaccia Bread with Crushed Red Pepper, Garlic Dipping Oil
  • Broiled Blackened Salmon with a Zesty Black Bean, Red Pepper and Corn Salad, garnished with Cilantro
  • Salt crusted, Pepper Rubbed Roast Beef
  • Roasted Asparagus
  • Broiled Portabello Mushrooms stuffed with Artichokes, Roasted Egglant and Red Pepper Dip and Feta Cheese
  • Mashed Potato with Chives
  • Garden Salad
Dessert
  • Decadent Vegan Chocolate Cupcakes (so good Bon Appetit even had it in their magazine a couple years ago)
  • Jam Filled Vegan Thumb Cookies (tweaked recipe from The Barefoot Contessa)
  • Vegan Banana Cake (tweaked recipe from The Barefoot Contessa)


2 )What fairy tale, myth or fictional story are you most drawn to as your own, and why? Tell me about childhood associations, parallels with your own life, fulfillment of wishes, etc.

I love fairy tales. The idea of having a fairy godmother or gallant knight at my beck and call just totally occupied my thoughts as a young girl. I loved to imagine how I was the sad, misunderstood princess who would be whisked away to a better life. That was until I grew up and realized that fairy tales are lovely, but they're even better when you have control and take action to make your own destiny.

Enter Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine. Ella is cursed by a gift of obedience, from an ostentatious fairy. While Ella is destined to obey commands, she relishes the thought of rebelling as much as she can. This wonderful reworking of Cinderella, shows Ella as an intelligent, sassy, thoughtful girl who seeks to end her curse of obedience. Through sheer will, quick thinking and lots of determination, Ella ventures on a road to take control of her own destiny. What spirited girl wouldn't love a fairy tale like this one?

This story resonates with me because as a young girl, I was often times the rebellious girl when it came to obedience. I would obviously submit to obeying my parents' rules; however, it was definitely always a struggle. I love how Ella takes charge of her own life, seeking to control what plagues her most, and ends up finding herself in the process. Oh, and she saves the prince. How's that for great fairy tale?


3) What story makes you angry? How does it make you angry?

There are two stories that just irk me. One is Cinderella. Little girls just get this dreamy idea they are just going to fall in love with Prince Charming and he will whisk them away from all their troubles into a world of happily ever after.

The second story that really rubs me the wrong way is Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day by Judith Viorst. Poor Alexander is having a tough day, and not one person steps in to comfort the boy. Yea, I get the idea that sometimes everyone has a bad day and kids need to have a book that tells them that you can't run away from your bad day. But. I'd like to think that someone, anyone would offer a kind word, a hug or show a way to let out his frustrations in a productive way. A friend. A teacher. A sibling. A parent.

4) If you could choose three books to be brought back into print, which ones would they be?

I really can't think of anything right now on this one. I own any book I really love, and they are all still in print.

5) Tell me about the movie you want to see that has not yet been created. A movie that has not been created.

So do I get credit and rights if someone actually creates this movie? I'm kinda the last person you should ask about movies, since I never get to see them anymore with the kids and all. But. Interesting question...I'd like a movie with a bit of intrigue that makes me laugh, cry and cheer. Add a music soundtrack with some classical music, Jimmy Buffet, Jon Bon Jovi, Abba and Carly Simon. Actors: Owen Wilson, Jack Nicholson, Dennis Quaid, Harrison Ford, Nicholas Cage. Actresses: Julia Roberts, Carmen Diaz, Barbara Streisand, Shirley MacLaine. Oh, this is getting wacky, isn't it? Setting from the movie Something's Gotta Give. How about a modern day Shanghai Noon meets Notting Hill.

Thank you for visiting and let me know if you need any recipes. Okay, if any of you out there are interested in participating in this interview meme, leave a note in the comments and I'll create a new interview meme.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Rejection Mope-jection Monday: Visualize Your Goal

My lovely eight year old is a force to be reckoned with. All my kids are persistent, but this little girl has it down to a science. Because. She is quite the visual young girl and has her eye on the big picture.

It doesn't matter whether my little girl is figuring out what to wear (yes, I'm already stressed over this one), preparing for a spelling test, questioning what's for dinner, decorating her room, pysching herself for a swim meet, planning her special mom outing or strategizing how she's gonna get a dog...my eight year old has a vision for what she wants and how she's gonna get there.

My child is quite methodical on how she plans out her goal at hand. And, forget about hearing a "No" or "It doesn't work this way" or "Not right now." She is quite resourceful and will eventually think of another way on how she's going to reach her desired outcome. I admit, it's rather draining to be the recipient of so many questions and ideas. However, I am proud and awed at my daughter's ability to stay focused on her vision. It really keeps her on track, even though she is sometimes veered off course. The cool thing is, the harder she has to work for something, the more focused she becomes. And she appreciates her efforts all the more, keeping her eye on the prize, savoring her victories.

We can learn alot from our children. These young kids are untouched by discouragement and rejection. They dream big and often. Young children think they can do anything and everything. Until. Someone laughs and tells them it's a stupid idea. Or someone says it just can't be done. Or maybe they'll be told they aren't smart enough or talented enough. Is it any wonder, children start doubting themselves and their abilities, then grow into adults who cringe just over the word rejection? I hope to nurture my daughter's persistence, resourcefulness and incredible focus for that moment when she truly needs it most. So she know's it's okay to to be knocked down, just as long as she doesn't let it stop her from getting back up again.

So, for this Rejection Mope-jection Monday...Visualize your goal. Keep it front and center. Tell some trusted friends and family about your dream. Print your goal on beautiful paper, frame it and hang it somewhere you will see it everyday. Write a letter about your dreams and mail it to yourself. Put it on your screensaver on your computer. Get the picture?

And if you dare...Look yourself in the eye in the mirror and tell yourself what you're gonna do. Corny. I know. But you gotta believe it, see the play by play moves, and get your arms around the nitty gritty details to keep your eye on the pie. So you will search for another way when you bump into a closed door. So you'll brainstorm for a different way to get your idea heard. So you can recognize when you need to revise things a bit. And. So you will keep your head up high while you are on your Great Adventure. No matter what. Because. You have an amazing idea. You are smart enough. You are talented enough.

Just visualize your goal. See all the little steps to get to the big picture. You can do it. I believe you can.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Big Round Things and A Sunday's List

I had a hard time sleeping last night, so I got up and started reading The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big Round Things by Carolyn Mackler. It was probably the wrong thing to do, because I couldn't put the book down. And stayed up to the early morning to finish the book. I was just amazed at how Carolyn Mackler was able to weave so many different layers into this book.

This book is about a girl named Virginia Shreves, who has major body issues and creates a Fat Girl Code of Conduct for dealing with boys. She's kissing a boy from school, Froggy, but knows she is not girlfriend material because of her weight. So Virginia never acknowledges Froggy in school since she doesn't embarrass him. She just meets him every week for a kissing exchange. That just made me so sad.

Then enter Virginia's perfect thin family, albeit a dysfunctional family. Virginia feels she doesn't fit into her beautiful, thin, intelligent family. Her mother and father are never around. They are determined to help Virginia lose weight. Never mind they make her feel bad. And her brother...well Virginia realizes she had her brother on a pedestal way too long.

Virginia's best friend is across the country for the school year, leaving Virginia with no one to hang out with. The queen bee of the school and her sidekicks would rather be dead than look fat. Virginia's self esteem is so low, she doesn't think anyone wants to be friends with her because she is fat.

Isn't this all sad? But, there is hope. Virginia has a cool teacher who offers support and encouragement. She meets her best friend in Seattle. Away from her parents. And starts an adventure of appreciating herself and liking who she is without the parental pressure of who she should be.

The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big Round Things is simply a wonderful read. It will make you think about perceived body images, fitting in at school and home, relationships with parents and siblings, whether you are selling yourself short and what you are worth.

And now A Sunday's List of Strong Girl Role Models in Children's Literature:

1. Virginia Shreves and teacher Ms. Crowley from The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big Round Things by Carolyn Mackler, ages 15 and up: Virginia Shreves just kicks butt in this book. She starts off with very low esteem in this book. After a few unfortunate events, Virginia examines her life and realizes she is worth so much more. She gets involved with life, takes up kickboxing, shows independence, organizes a webzine for the school, and speaks up for herself to her family. She is one strong girl.

Virginia's teacher, Ms. Crowley is incredibly empathetic because she understood how it felt like to have weight issues. However, she wanted to make sure Virginia didn't let it control how she saw herself. Ms. Crowley let Virginia know that it was okay to explore making new friends. She also gave Virginia a wonderful, hopeful book about young women who were "rebelling against the body norms."

2. Aunt Sarah from Surrender by Sonya Hartnett, ages 16 and up: This beautifully written book is for older teens who are mature enough to handle a psychological thriller. Despite the disturbing nature of the book, it was so difficult to put down because of the beauty of the language. When I first read this book, I was so impressed with Aunt Sarah. She has a small role in the book, but she played a big role in the care of her nephew, Gabriel as he was sick and dying. Gabriel didn't want to have his parents around him, so when he asked for Aunt Sarah, she came to take care of him. After all the twists and turns of this book, I found out who Aunt Sarah was, and all I could think was, oh my. Still, anyone who takes care of someone who is ill, that person automatically makes it as a strong person.

3. Roxie from roxie and the hooligans by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor, ages 8 and up: I was so disturbed by Surrender, I had to read roxie and the hooligans to take the edge off. You will simply cheer for Roxie, a little girl who has big ears that stick out a bit. She is bullied by the mean Helvetia's Hooligans. After the Hooligans chase Roxie, they land into quite an adventure. Roxie was always afraid of things but remembers Lord Thistlebottom's Book of Pitfalls and How To Survive Them. Turns out she is quite brave, resourceful and even helps her bullies out! I loved the little tip from Lord Thistlebottom's book...Do not panic.

4. Melanie from The Diary of Melanie Martin: or how I Survived Matt the Brat, Michelango, and the Leaning Tower of Pisa by Carol Weston, ages 9 and up: This cute book in diary form takes place on a family vacation in Italy. You'll learn a few Italian words and a bit about Italian culture. Melanie thinks her parents always side with her little brother, Matt. This family vacation has a few mishaps. As a result, Melanie realizes she has a great parents and even a good little brother. She stands up for her mother, protects her brother and writes a great poem about her vacation to bring back to school.

5. Little Sister from The Day I Swapped my Dad for Two Goldfish by Neil Gaiman, ages 4-8: This creative book is a little disturbing if you take it at face value. Boy trades Dad for 2 goldfish. Little Sister rats boy out to Mom. And Little Sister is keeping boy on track to get good old Dad back. Thank goodness for sisters. And while the ending is somewhat funny, it is a bit disturbing. But that one is for you to decide.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

5 Non-Kid Lit Blogs I Read

I've been tagged by Franki and Mary Lee from A Year of Reading for a fun meme--Name 5 non-kid lit blogs I read--created by A Chair, A Fireplace and a Tea Cozy. Liz B. tagged Mother Reader, who tagged A Year of Reading, who tagged me.

I can only mention five? Oh. My. Well. Here are the top Five Non-Kid Lit Blogs I Really Enjoy:

1. FoodChair - I love this blog. Callipygia melds her own stunning drawings with beautiful writing for flavor busting posts that simply leave my mouth watering for more. She writes alot about her remembrances of various food experiences and interesting recipes she has discovered in her journey to find the perfect flavors. Anyone who can make sardine sandwiches sound delectable is someone I'm planning on visiting for a long time.

2. Sourdough Monkey Wrangler - I discovered Monkey Wrangler's blog via FoodChair. Monkey Wrangler is a former geologist turned stay at home dad who goes on interesting food adventures. He cooks up a storm with homemade goodies such as sourdough bread, sourdough pretzels, quiche, pizza. It's worth a visit to just read about Monkey Wrangler's attempts at making things such as homemade sea salt and ginger ale. Whoa!

3. Notes from the Trenches
- Chris has seven kids. Yes, seven. Did I mention she homeschools her seven kids? This supermom writes touching and funny posts about life in her household.

4. Saints and Spinners - I recently discovered Alkelda the Gleeful's blog. I admit a certain fascination with this creative, fun storyteller's posts on saints and puppet shows. And Alkelda the Gleeful's name just makes me smile.

5. decor8 - Since moving into my home over a year ago, I'm in a constant state of searching for new ways to breathe life into the sad state of the decorating mess in my home. This cool design blog has beautiful pictures and quite an intensive resource of links to other places I can visit. So while I don't live in House Beautiful, I can certainly dream.


I think everyone I know in the kid lit blogosphere has been tagged. So I'll just cruise around and check out all the different responses.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Poetry Friday: The Children's Hour by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

My husband is quite the theatrical guy. When he was in grade school, he found joy performing in front of an audience. He acted in plays, sang in musicals and recited poetry. I knew my husband acted and sang. In fact, when we first started dating, his Sinatra croons just made me melt. But recited poetry? I kind of giggled at this new discovery. Alot. Because he is not at all a poetry type of guy. At least I didn't think so...Imagine my astonished face as he told me about his favorite childhood poem and triumphantly recited it from memory....

The Children's Hour by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Between the dark and the daylight,
When the night is beginning to lower,
Comes a pause in the day's occupations,
That is known as the Children's Hour.

I hear in the chamber above me
The patter of little feet,
The sound of a door that is opened,
And voices soft and sweet.

From my study I see in the lamplight,
Descending the broad hall stair,
Grave Alice, and laughing Allegra,
And Edith with golden hair.

A whisper, and then a silence:
Yet I know by their merry eyes
They are plotting and planning together
To take me by surprise.

A sudden rush from the stairway,
A sudden raid from the hall!
By three doors left unguarded
They enter my castle wall!

They climb up into my turret
O'er the arms and back of my chair;
If I try to escape, they surround me;
They seem to be everywhere.

They almost devour me with kisses,
Their arms about me entwine,
Till I think of the Bishop of Bingen
In his Mouse-Tower on the Rhine!

Do you think, O blue-eyed banditti,
Because you have scaled the wall,
Such an old mustache as I am
Is not a match for you all!

I have you fast in my fortress,
And will not let you depart,
But put you down into the dungeon
In the round-tower of my heart.

And there will I keep you forever,
Yes, forever and a day,
Till the walls shall crumble to ruin,
And moulder in dust away!

Poetry Friday Roundup is over at the Blue Rose Girls today!

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Silly Words Day Contest

Journey Woman has a fun contest to celebrate Silly Words Day, March 31, 2007. Put your silly hat on, dance a giggly jig, follow Journey Woman's rules and spout off some silly joyous words!

Spring Reading Thing 2007 hosted by Callapidder Days

I found out about an interesting spring reading challenge from In The Pages. For complete rules for the Spring Reading Thing 2007, go over to Callapidder Days. You'll find links to other people and their lists. Wow, looks like the count is up to 96 now. If anything, Callapidder Days, you deserve an award for getting all these wonderful people to commit to reading their spring book lists. Well done!

Now, this is where I must hang my head in shame. You must add Mr. Linky to any Spring Reading Thing posts. Sadly, I couldn't figure out how to do this. Sigh. For the time being, I'll put my Spring Reading List on my side bar.

This Spring Reading Challenge is great. I'm always up for any excuse to read some more. So here is my list of 5 books I'll commit to reading. The more I thought about it, I'm just keeping this specific reading list to adult books only. I read alot of children's and YA novels for my writing research and my weekly Strong Girl Role Models of Children's Literature List and it hardly seems fair to put books I'm intending on reading anyway into a list for a Spring Reading Challenge:

So, here's my Spring Reading Thing 2007 List of Five Adult Books:
  1. Infidel by Ayaan Hirsi Ayi
  2. The Memory Keeper's Daughter by Kim Edwards
  3. The Language of Baklava by Diana Abu-Jaber
  4. Julie & Julie by Julie Powell
  5. A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Housseini--This book doesn't come out until May 22nd and the challenge ends June 21st...I have been waiting for another book by the talented writer of Kite Runner for a long, long time.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Hope for New Furniture Thanks to Kids, A Dog, Eczema, Food Allergies and the Boston Red Sox

So now you're wondering, what does new furniture have to do with kids, a dog, eczema, food allergies and the Boston Red Sox? Let's see if you follow this one.

Many, many moons ago, when Hubby and I married, we did the typical new couple stuff. We bought a house and some new furniture, admired our new china (okay I did that one myself), and dreamed of a joyous happily ever after in our newfound wedded bliss. One furniture purchase was an incredible brown leather sofa, the type of leather sofa that has the rich smell of imagined wanderings into mahogany libraries filled top to bottom with beautiful leather bound books.

This leather sofa was a source of constant debate between Hubby and I. He grew up in New England proper, where leather furniture was quite frowned upon and thought to be a walk on the wild side. Me, on the other hand, grew up with lots of leather furniture, glass top coffee table, and lots of huge wild art lovingly created by my mom. Two different worlds. Two different styles. What's a newly wed couple to do to keep the peace? Hubby wisely acquiesced to my bold theory that leather sofas were far superior to traditional fabric covered sofas. So we managed to buy one gorgeous leather sofa instead of two fabric covered sofas. Because it's supposed to last forever. Gulp.

Hubby finally ventured to say, after sitting on this wonderful sofa, that it was pretty darn comfortable. And that it really did look quite marvelous in our sparsely decorated living room. And so we sat on this leather sofa, side by side. Hubby on his special spot, me on mine, enjoying life's peaceful, generous bounty.

Well after a couple years, the quiet peace was soon pierced with babies crying, cooing and growing; learning to walk; and falling into the safety of the gently worn leather sofa. Oh, did I mention jumping? Yes, jumping. To the distress of Hubby and joyous thoughts from me, "Our wild ones are so cute!" And yes, there's been plenty of cherished reading, lots of wonderful early books like: Good Night Moon by Margaret Wise Brown, Guess How Much I Love You by Sam McBratney, Tumble Bumble by Felicia Bond, and Good Night Gorilla by Peggy Rathmann to name a few.

When we found out Middle Child had food allergies and eczema, we were relieved we had a leather sofa. Very few allergens can imbed themselves into leather. And it's incredibly easy to clean. Unlike fabric sofas which just soak in all the lived in goodness and then some. And is quite a pain to clean. Hubby was happy we didn't have to buy a new sofa. I felt vindicated in my ultimate wisdom. Even more so when Hubby's brother purchased a decadent leather sofa for his home.

Add all the goopy steroid ointments and moisturizing emollients Middle Child has on her skin to treat her eczema flareups, usually caused by food allergies and cold weather. When these lovely steroid potions lightly smear over the leather, after many years, you're well on your way to have the leather slowly erode right in front of your eyes. I finally figured that one out after a couple years once I noticed the leather seats cracking and shedding. Yes, shedding. After I properly thought about how these steroids work...they add oomph to heal the skin, but also thin out the skin, I had my Aha!Duh! moment and thrashed myself for not putting something on the sofa so middle child could sit comfortably on it, lotions and all. And forget about making middle child sit elsewhere. It's all about confidence building for this little one.

Then, last summer we had some interesting incidents involving our well worn sofa. Oldest child had a friend over, who left a nice turquoise butt shaped stain on our leather sofa because she forgot to change out of her wet bathing suit after playing in the sprinklers. Daughter's friend was aghast, friend's parents were upset, but who was I to claim injury? Nice to know people are out there that feel responsible for their actions. If the sofa were new, I'd totally freak, but the sofa was over ten years old, and in sorry decay, so this fun, butt shaped stain was just another decorative feature to add some vibrant interest to our lives.

The kicker was when we had a chance to dogsit Pookie, a lively Pembroke Corgi, for a few months this summer for a friend. Hubby thought it would be a good idea since the girls have been mercilessly begging for a dog. He also heard that exposure to animals might help lessen allergies in children with eczema and food allergies. Isn't he wonderful? Now, if you know anything about Pembroke Corgies, which we found out after Pookie lived with us, is they shed like nothing else. Two times a year. You can't vacuum enough to get rid of the hair.

A favorite book at the time was Go, Dog, Go by P.D. Eastman. My girls were quite interesting. They loved to listen to the book, chat about the games they wanted to play with Pookie, and wave to the little guy as he sat in another room. But, as soon as Pookie came near them, the girls would jump onto chairs, tables, and the much loved leather sofa. Corgis are short and can't jump very high. And we tried to train Pookie to live by our rules. But Pookie sees freaked out girls jump, and all training, if any, goes way out the window. Enthusiastic dog jumps to play with screeching girls and slashes through not one or two, but three sofa cushions that are weakening from the effects of six years of steriod ointments. Oh. No. When it was time for Pookie to leave, we were all a bit sad. But boy, it was ever so nice to say for the last time Go, Dog, Go.

This wonderful sofa needs to be replaced rather soon. Any throws or fabric put on the sofa just irritates Middle Child. So we need a new leather sofa for us adults, and something special for the kids.

So here's how the new hope for new furniture comes into play. Check out the Monster Deal, as advertised by a local furniture store, Jordan's Furniture.
Consumers purchasing a mattress, dining table, sofa, or bed at a Jordan’s store
location between March 7, 2007 and April 16, 2007 will receive a rebate of the
purchase price paid for the Deal Merchandise if (but only if) the Boston Red
Sox® win the 2007 Major League Baseball World Series®. Rules here.


This middle of the line furniture business comes out with an unbelievable advertising gamble. So I'll meander over there to see if I like any furniture. Just. Because. I really need some new furniture. Regardless of whether the Boston Red Sox win or lose the 2007 Major League Baseball World Series. But I have to wonder, what are the chances of our hometown team winning this year?

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

What Would You Do?

Here are the choices facing me for the next half hour before the kiddies come home from school:

1. Play tea party with three year old.
2. Make a quick trip to the grocery store for the makings of a delicious dinner.
3. Vacuum the little paper litterings of three year old's artistic endeavors.
4. Add a line or two over at Kelly's creative Witches and Wiki collective children's novel. Who is the tall, thin girl questioning Moctor Fall?
5. Go over to MySpace Profile to figure out how MySpace works.
6. Think about Liz B's post: Are there any Tragic Heroes in Children's Literature?
7. Fold and put away the clean clothes.
8. Find out more about cool, multi-tasking Jen Robinson in her 7-Imp interview. Actually, I already read her interview, now it's your turn.
9. Go outside to enjoy the beautiful sunny day on this lovely first day of Spring!
10. Read the smorgasbord of reading delights at the 12th Carnival of Children's Literature over at Midwestern Lodestar.

Oh, what's a girl gonna do?

Monday, March 19, 2007

Inspiration for A Rejection Mope-jection Monday

Last Monday, I wrote about a recent rejection letter and my decision to start posting encouraging thoughts every Monday. I was overwhelmed and extremely grateful for the supportive comments I received from around the blogosphere. These amazing words of hope and encouragement made me ever so glad I wrote about a rejection and my decision to persevere, rather than moping around and hiding from the shame of it all.

I decided to post encouraging thoughts each Monday for two reasons. First, I hope to inspire someone else to reject moping around to take charge of their dreams. If I can give even one person the same feelings of support and encouragement these wonderful people gave to me, that would be just the coolest. My hopes would be this would help guide that one person to take action. Toward their own dreams. Secondly, I find it productive to start off each writing week with a positive confident attitude. Following a creative dream is hard, lonely work, and every bit of inspiration helps give clarity and hope to the journey.

I saw this wonderful movie Friday evening, Akeelah and the Bee. This amazing movie was out in the theaters last year and had great reviews. When I found this movie, I knew I wanted to watch it. My husband rolled his eyes thinking this was just one of those fluffy teen movies. Turns out he was just as mesmerized as I was by this gem of a movie. This powerful movie shows how an unlikely community unites to support a smart determined eleven year old spelling dynamo to follow her dream of becoming a Scripps National Spelling Bee champion. If you want to see commitment, courage, conflict, action, drama, fear of failure, inspiration and a strong heroine who steadfastly works toward her dream despite the odds against her, you will watch this tearjerker of a movie. And you will truly be inspired to follow your own dream.

There is one scene of the movie, where Akeelah's coach, Dr. Larabee, asks her to read a framed quote hanging on the wall. The quote was so good, I became quite obsessed with finding out who was credited with this bit of inspired brilliance. After playing this DVD over again a couple times to hear this lovely nugget of wisdom, I researched it and found Marianne Williamson. This quote is simply spot on perfect for me:

Our Deepest Fear
"Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? ... And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same."

from: A Return To Love:Reflections on the Principles of A Course in Miracles, by Marianne Williamson, Harper Collins, 1992.

I found out while researching this quote that it was originally credited to Nelson Mandela's 1994 Inauguration Speech. Quite inspiring. Neat, huh?

Well, I've got a nice powerhouse of positive energy to start off my week. I just recently discovered Robin Brande's Friday list of nice things and the 7-Imps weekend list of 7 good things. Add my Rejection Mope-jection Monday, a cool support system , hard work and lots of creative ideas, and I've got the fuel I need to go the distance.

Anyone else ready for some support and inspiration? First, watch Akeelah and the Bee. Then. Go. Create. Write. Take Charge. Take Action. Now. And come back next Monday to reject moping around and work toward your Dreams.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

On Pointe and A Sunday's List

What do you get when you combine a free verse style novel with a hopeful teen who dreams and sacrifices for the love of ballet? Add a bit of competition, an ambitious family, and a grandfather who was right all along and you get a beautiful flowing novel, On Pointe, by readergirlz diva Lorie Ann Grover.

On Pointe, narrated by Clare, dances along the pages with gracefulness and poignancy. The simplicity of the words emphasized Clare's struggles with her sacrifices and dream of being a dancer, her concern over her friend Rosella's eating disorder, her worries over her family's dreams for her future, her anxiety over her tall body, her embarassment with any contact with the pathetic adult dancing class, her conflict over failure and success, and her disbelief over her grandfather's words, "You are already a dancer."

For a moment, while reading about the body image issues of these ballet students, I thought of when my eldest child wanted to take ballet lessons a few years ago. I found a local class taught by a former Boston Ballet ballerina and was just incredibly impressed by how the teacher was able to instill an incredible amount of dedication, discipline and precision among a group of five year old children. After a year of classes, my child decided it just wasn't for her. She loved dancing, but was not really interested in becoming a ballerina. Imagine my shock when my daughter mentioned that ballerinas were really thin and she just didn't look like that. At five years old!

So when 15 year old Clare is worried about how her body is growing and is concerned about her friend Rosella's eating disorder, it made me really sad that growing teenagers are so worried about their bodies. Forget the fact they are following a dream. And when Rosella admits her mother told her it was okay, it made me so angry a parent could risk a child's health. On Pointe, is really on point as we are reminded how parents can create stress in a teen's life, in the guise of being supportive of the teen's dreams. And how teens have their own worries and their own dreams.

Go and read On Pointe by Lorie Ann Grover. You will think about your hopes and dreams, what you are willing to sacrifice to accomplish your goals, and who you are if you succeed in following your dreams or "fail" in accomplishing your dreams.

And now, A Sunday's List of Strong Girl Role Models in Children's Literature:

1. Clare and Mabel from On Pointe by Lorie Ann Grover, ages 12 and up: Clare is a good friend as she confronts Rosella about her eating disorder. She struggles with her dream and how her family will react if she fails. Clare is finally able to talk to her mother about her own dream. She realizes she is "already a dancer" as her grandfather has told her many times before. When life changes for Clare's family, Clare is incredibly supportive and loving of her grandfather. Mabel is the new caregiver for Clare's grandfather. She is just one huggable woman as she takes charge of Clare's grandfather's daily routine. Mabel adds enthusiasm, strength, and hope into Clare's family. She tells Clare it was okay to dance just for herself.

2. Melinda from Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson, ages 15 and up: Melinda finds herself a teenage outcast because she called the cops at an end-of-summer party. Melinda has lost her voice and finds comfort in her art class. Melinda's parents have no clue. Thankfully, Melinda's art teacher sees Melinda is having some sort of crisis and tries to help Melinda find an outlet for her pain. Melinda has been raped by a popular high schooler, which makes her even more afraid to say something. But her strength and courage is so evident when she realizes her former friend started dating this popular student. Melinda learns to fight back and speaks for herself and other girls who have been raped. A truly powerful book.

3. Patricia and her babushka (grandmother) from My Rotten Redheaded Older Brother by Patricia Polacco, ages 4-8: Little Patricia lives with her brother, mother and grandparents. Her babushka tells the most amazing stories and tells Patricia about wishes on stars. Patricia yearns to be better than her brother at something and is one determined little girl to make that happen.

4. Tricia and her mother from Rotten Ritchie and the Ultimate Dare by Patricia Polacco, ages 4-8: This book is a sequel to My Rotten Redheaded Older Brother. Tricia and her rotten brother Richie are always fighting about things. The latest fight is about ballet and hockey--which is harder? Tricia enjoys ballet and Richie loves hockey. Their mother tells them nothing should matter as long as both enjoy what they are doing. Richie teases Tricia in school about ballet, and spunky Tricia pushes back and triple dares Richie to dance in her recital if he thinks it's so easy. Richie ends up agreeing as long as she agrees to play in a hockey game. You will be cheering Tricia on as she maneuvers through her dare quite gracefully. You'll even cheer on her obnoxious brother. I think this book is hands down the best picture book Patricia Polacco has written that I've read so far.

5. Violet from Arthur's Back to School Day by Lillian Hoban, ages 4-8: This early reader book is just sweet. Arthur and his sister Violet are waiting for the bus on the first day of school. Violet tells Arthur she put a secret surprise in her lunchbox and Arthur tells Violet it's not a surprise if she put it in. It didn't matter to Violet...she still stood up for what she believed in. After a lunchbox adventure and mixup occurs, Violet ends up saving Arthur's day with her lunchbox secret surprise. What a great sister!

6. Becca from The Patch by readergirlz diva Justina Chen Headley, ages 4-8: Aspiring five year old ballerina Becca has to wear eyeglasses and an eyepatch to treat amblyopia. She is brave, smart and creative. Join her on her adventure as she returns to school with her eyepatch and eyeglasses. She charms her schoolmates and convinces them they want to look like her too!

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Project CON in the Kitchen = Found Eyeglass Lenses

This has been a productive stay at home type of Saturday. Yesterday's snowstorm ended our lovely week of glorious weather. We went from no snow on the ground in the early morning to close to a foot of snow by evening to a rousing wild night of rain. Our next door neighbor's snow plow guy decided to come at 1:30am to plow the driveway so the little ones woke up and freaked over the booming noises from the plow. So sleep eluded my household for quite some time.

Since we were having a slow motion type of morning, I decided to rev things up and turn on some music. It's St. Patrick's Day after all. Youngest child runs over to the stereo and adjusts the volume. Soft. Loud. LOUD. We negotiate to an acceptable volume and the girls started jumping and dancing around, getting extra boisterous with each giggle. I took advantage of their fun preoccupation with one upping each other's dance moves and decided to organize the kitchen. It didn't last very long. Because, you'll never guess what I found. What I had been looking for since last week. One tucked in the corner underneath my pots and pans cabinet. The other just happened to be in the sandwich bag box. I'm asking no questions on this one. I just have to let this one be. Really.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Poetry Friday: A Psalm of Life by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

For a bit of inspiration this Poetry Friday, read this lovely poem:

A Psalm of Life
by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

What The Heart Of The Young Man Said To The Psalmist.

Tell me not, in mournful numbers,
Life is but an empty dream!
For the soul is dead that slumbers,
And things are not what they seem.

Life is real! Life is earnest!
And the grave is not its goal;
Dust thou art, to dust returnest,
Was not spoken of the soul.

Not enjoyment, and not sorrow,
Is our destined end or way;
But to act, that each to-morrow
Find us farther than to-day.

Art is long, and Time is fleeting,
And our hearts, though stout and brave,
Still, like muffled drums, are beating
Funeral marches to the grave.

In the world’s broad field of battle,
In the bivouac of Life,
Be not like dumb, driven cattle!
Be a hero in the strife!

Trust no Future, howe’er pleasant!
Let the dead Past bury its dead!
Act,— act in the living Present!
Heart within, and God o’erhead!

Lives of great men all remind us
We can make our lives sublime,
And, departing, leave behind us
Footprints on the sands of time;

Footprints, that perhaps another,
Sailing o’er life’s solemn main,
A forlorn and shipwrecked brother,
Seeing, shall take heart again.

Let us, then, be up and doing,
With a heart for any fate;
Still achieving, still pursuing,
Learn to labor and to wait.

Liz B. from A Chair, A Fireplace and a Tea Cozy heads up Poetry Friday this week! Visit her to enter your own poetry submission or to discover some new poems to enchant your day.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Confidence Building for My Food Allergic Child

My middle child was diagnosed with food allergies when she was almost 4 months old. She was tested for many things because of this unbelievable rash that literally covered her from head to toe. It was the rash on her head that was particularly gruesome--her scalp was just a yellow oozing mess. Turns out after many painful tests--physical for my little one and emotional for me--we found out not only did my daughter have this infantile immune deficiency, which was causing the infection on her head to spread, but she was also allergic to peanuts, dairy and dairy proteins, egg protein and shellfish. And she never ate any of these things. I did. Oh yes, my precious little one who caused people to quickly avert their eyes in horror because of the viscous mass of yellow on her sweet head, was allergic to the very food I ate, which showed up in the breastmilk. How's that for cross contamination?

At four months old, middle child was treated with a daily dose of antibiotics for a year to improve her the immune system. Her scalp healed in a few months and her hair slowly started to grow. Every year, middle child gets these dreaded blood tests to check on her immune system and food allergies. Her immune system is steadily improving but we still need to start aggressive treatment whenever she is getting a cold. For some reason, her delicate skin starts flaring up and her small lungs get globs of junk in them, making her struggle for every precious breath. It's funny, as difficult as this is, sometimes it's not as hard as dealing with the food allergies. Because with every cold that turns into bronchiolitis or pneumonia, I know things will soon pass within a week or two. With the food allergies, there is no break. Not one.

You'd think after six years, I'd have this food allergy thing down pat. And for the most part I have. I've found ways to manage food in the household, go to grocery stores and restaurants, deal with parents and schools, survive kid's birthday parties and find support from family. And make it a point to stay extra vigilant. For me, the thing that is sometimes hard to deal with is the emotional aspect of the food allergies and the overwhelming isolation that comes from helplessness and solitary confinement.

This feeling immobilizes me at times, so over the past few years, it was incredibly important for me to make sure my daughter has plenty of self-esteem, confidence and strength to deal with food allergies before she started school. All. Because. I don't want her to be the kid who is taunted and perhaps even threatened with some food allergic item. I don't want her to be a kid who will eat whatever someone gives her because she doesn't want to say no to an adult or is afraid of being teased. Or be labelled as "because of that food allergic kid we can't..." Or act like a victim and whine about why she can't eat something. And I certainly don't want my daughter to feel bad about herself because she is different.

I want my child to know and understand her food allergies, food choices and reactions. I want her to know she is powerful and accountable for her body and health. My child needs to know that sometimes despite the best of intentions, people don't always have her best interest at heart. And know how to deal with friends and adults when they ask or complain about food allergies. Because of this, she needs to be confident enough to say no and to question an adult.

I want my child to experience wonderful friendships free from the clutter of food allergies. I want my daughter to have the confidence and self-esteem to know that food allergies do not define her and limit her. And celebrate her uniqueness and strength within her to fluff off whatever is thrown her way.

She needs this incredible confidence, this heady self-esteem, this glowing sense of empowerment, because I won't be with her all the time. It was so easy when she was little. So, so easy. I was her advocate and able to either prevent or deal with allergic reactions. Now it's another story. Middle child is in school and I now have to trust others will cooperate to keep my child safe. To ensure this, I have an extra special secret weapon. My delightful child. With her sassy can do attitude, her quick charming wit, fierce stare down, and uncanny ability to grill an adult about food ingredients until he/she sweats, I know my child is well prepared to take charge of her food allergies with agility and style. Now that's what I'm talking about.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Good Times Are Here Again

Oh my, nothing like going around the kidlitosphere to find things that just make me smile:

The March issue of The Edge of the Forest is up. Thanks to Kelly and the contributing writers for some good reading.

7-Imp has a wonderful post about finding the wonderful things about your week and cyber-gathering over the weekend to discuss the good things in life.

Miss Erin is looking for some fun games for a group of 8-10 teen guys and gals.

A Blue Rose Girl's beautiful post about friendship and dreams. Okay, this post made me smile and cry.

Lisa Yee has done it again and come up with a hilarious Blog-a-Story-a-Thon. The first line of the Blog-a-Story-a-Thon starts off with the first line from Lisa's new book, So Totally Emily Ebers: "Today was the last day of school, and the second saddest day of my entire life." You simply must go and read this for a wonderful laugh out loud, happy day. And if you dare, go and contribute a line.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Rejection Mope-jection Monday

I've had a few days to wallow in my self-pity and have had enough of Rejection reeling me into its dark web, sticking random thoughts of defeat in my mind. Funny...I've finally gained the confidence in my manuscripts to send out to publishers, and all it took was a Rejection Letter from an editor to prick a big ole hole in my newfound assurance, suck the bloody life out of it and quickly crumple it into a tiny ball to be kicked around for a bit.

So...what's a wannabe children's author gonna do? Besides mope around for a day or two or more? After a bit of thought, I decided it was time to assess whether my writing was a passing hobby or something I loved enough to accept the entire ride of the highs and lows. Am I just a casual writer? Or am I passionate about writing a good story--a true Writer?

Rejection. This tough nine letter word held me at bay and made me question what I've wanted to do ever since I was a young girl. All because of a packet in the mail. Because no matter how you slice it and dice it, when you get a self-addressed packet back in the mail, you already know it doesn't contain the greatest of news. Sigh...

Well, after a few late nights re-evaluating my rejection letter, my manuscripts and my passions, I decided it was time to blow up that tiny ball of newfound assurance into a strong, gigantic bouncing ball of hope, confidence and self-empowerment. It's time to reject the moping around, add an amazing reserve of resilience and throw in tremendous energy to work it, rework it, and then rework it some more.

I finally chose to see this personalized rejection letter as a positive thing. And am ever so grateful the editor of this imprint wrote to me. This gives me the extra push to work on this piece and research other publishers.

I find writing to be so joyful and yet it can also be intense and lonely. Nothing like feeling a bit vulnerable, writing things down and hoping someone will appreciate your special combination of words. I've decided to post encouraging thoughts on Mondays for an extra boost of confidence to start off my writing week.

What have you done to get over a slump?

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Nothing But The Truth and A Sunday's List

Truth: Justina Chen Headley's book Nothing But The Truth (and a few white lies) gives a remarkable insight to our differences, our insecurities and sense of belonging. Patty Ho is a self-deprecating fifteen year old who unwittingly learns self-acceptance, confidence and self-empowerment through people she would never have given half a chance to before. This is a funny, heartbreaking story that mixes culture, teenage confusion, and an unlikely support system into a wonderful celebration of our differences.

Truth: Nothing But The Truth (and a few white lies) was a tough book for me to read. Emotionally that is. There were so many things that were so spot on to my teenage years, sometimes painful yet humorous. From Mama's Lectures...comparison shopping of children's accomplishments...brand name college wars...feeling uncomfortable in my own skin...being "yellow struck"...people making assumptions about me because I'm Asian...I could go on and on. Just like I wish I had Grace Lin's book The Year of the Dog while I was in grade school, I wish I had Justina Chen Headley's book Nothing But The Truth (and a few white lies) when I was a teenager. I bet I'd have been able to deal with my identity crisis a whole lot better in my teenage years. It's amazing how over (ahem...) twenty something years have passed, and the same uncomfortable feelings of self doubt and insecurity crashed over me while reading this book. And made me ever so grateful for the support of my high school friends and best girlfriend from my Ivy League university--yes, my parents won on this one.

Truth: This book is wonderful. Go out and find a copy to read.

And now...A Sunday's List of Strong Girl Role Models In Children's Literature.

1. 15 year old Patty Ho, camp friends Anne and Jasmine, Auntie Lu, and Patty's mother from Nothing But The Truth (and a few white lies) by Justina Chen Headley, ages 15 and up: Patty is a sweet self-deprecating teenager who is half Taiwanese and half white and doesn't feel she belongs to either culture. She undergoes a wonderful Aha! moment after talking to her Math Camp TA and realizes she has been shortchanging herself. She goes through a wonderful journey of self empowerment and discovery and realizes she has the best of both worlds.

Auntie Lu is loving and supportive and helps Patty find the truth about her mother. Oh the heartbreaking story of Patty's mother...this totally killed me. I found out how strong Patty's mother was for her daughter and son, and totally cheered her on. When I analyzed this a bit more and thought of all the stories out there of what parents, and especially immigrant parents, have had to overcome to raise their children in the United States, I am humbled and grateful. It makes me understand the Mama Lectures and different ways of thinking even more.

Patty's friends Jasmine and Anne support and empower her at Math Camp. Anne stands up for Patty and proves geeks can be cool. Jasmine is "so comfortable in her skin that she could color outside of race lines, even scribble across a bright white girl." She tells Patty, "Being smart is sexy. And any guy who doesn't think so is too stupid to waste a single brain cell on..." Truly powerful words!

2. 12th Wise Woman and The Princess from Sleeping Bobby by husband and wife team Will Osborne and Mary Pope Osborne (author of the Magic Tree House series), ages 4-8: A fun twist to this retelling of the much loved classic fairy tale, Sleeping Beauty. The King and Queen have a royal feast to celebrate Prince Bob's birth and especially invite the kingdom's 12 Wise Women, neglecting the 13th because there wasn't enough china. Tsk, tsk. The 13th Wise Woman shows up, all miffed and ready to spread her discontent to little Prince Bob. The 12th Wise Woman used her power and quick thinking to deflect the evil wish into something dramatic befitting a Prince. A "kind, clever, modest,, and very lovely princess" who was also quite adventurous and curious like Prince Bob saves the day by taking it upon herself to kiss Prince Bob because he was so handsome. A tale worthy for any young adventurous gal.

3. The Queen and the Frog Princess from The Frog Princess by Laura Cecil, ages 4 - 8: Retellings of classic fairy tales seem to be a theme here. This delightful picture book is a fun retelling of The Frog Prince. The wise Queen has three sons and tells them they must find a bride. She sets three tests for each bride to complete. The bride that wins the tests will win the kingdom for the son. Third son, Prince Marco puts his trust and faith in the little frog. The little frog has utmost confidence and unequivocally wins each test. Lo and behold, when the little frog finally knows Prince Marco will marry her, she unveils her true identity...Princess under an evil spell. Charming watercolor illustrations add to this whimsical, clever tale.

4. Oonagh from Finn MacCoul and His Fearless Wife: A Giant of a Tale from Ireland by Robert Byrd, ages 4 - 10: The Salmon of Knowledge foretells Celtic Giant Finn MacCoul's future, "A woman's wit and courage will win you the day!" Enter Finn MacCoul's clever fearless wife, Oonagh who makes Finn tell her his troubles. Bully Cucullin is on his way. Oonagh plays her Sacred Faery Harp for some magic advice, then uses her industry and wit to stand up to the bully. This is an enjoyable picture book with exuberant colorful illustrations that show quite a bit of action. Celtic tales really know how to celebrate the woman!

Friday, March 9, 2007

Poetry Friday: Flamingos On The Roof by Calef Brown

This has been a hectic kind of week so it was nice to decompress and go to one of my favorite places. The library. This cool book of poetry and paintings was calling out my name, saying, "Pick me, pick me!" And pick it I did.

Flamingos On The Roof by Calef Brown is a colorful, wonderful book with wacky poems and zany pictures to match. Perfect to lift up my spirits and send me into a smiling kind of mood. What fun it is to discover Calef Brown's imaginative poetry!

Sally
Meet Medusa's sister Sally.
Oh, for goodness sake!
Instead of having hair,
she has a single lazy snake.
If you happen to glance
at Medusa by chance,
you turn into solid rock.
Sally's curse is even worse--
she makes you stop and talk.
Kelly over at Big A little a is heading up the Poetry Friday roundups.

Thursday, March 8, 2007

Desperation for Project CON Now!

I'm in a desperate state of mind. I've been searching, searching for both lenses from my eyeglasses for the past two hours. I've been shaking out clothes, emptying out toy bins, going through book cases, pulling apart anything that could be a convenient little hiding place for two small oblong shaped clear lenses. And as I finally take a breather, to get some much needed sustenance from my weekly dose of Grey's Anatomy, I look around and realize I'm in a desperate need for an uncontrollable laugh and Project CON now! Or. I. Will. Really lose it. My somewhat picked up home looked like a bunch of hyenas ran through each room in an agitated frenzy, knocking things over, hysterically throwing things around in total uproarious confusion. Laughing all the while. At me.

All this happened because my responsible eldest daughter hesitantly asked a rather important question after the girls scampered off after our marvelous dinner of fragrant peppered roast beef, roasted butternut squash, roasted potato and lemon scented green beans. "Mom, did you know your eyeglasses aren't on top of counter?" Hmm...how long has this question been planned? I call out to the girls, "Does anyone know where Mommy's eyeglasses are?" Loud "No's" fill the air. Until. A tiny voice echoes out from a bedroom. Three year old gleefully runs out and helpfully chirps out, "Follow me!" I follow her into her room and she pulls my eyeglasses from a pile she created behind her bed. I give playful child a big ole momma bear hug and say, "Thank you." Finally, I notice. Both lenses are missing.

I try to stay calm, and start searching behind mischievous 3 year old's bed to see if the lenses were tucked away in her mysterious pile. Nothing. I ask 3 year old to show me where she was playing with mommy's eyeglasses, and she ran all over the place, pointing to countless places these lenses could be. And I see how silly I am, trying to gain straight answers from a fanciful whimsical 3 year old. I'm getting a bit frantic thinking I'm going to be quite blind when I take my contact lenses out of my eyes. I'm also worried my three year old cut her fingers getting these lenses out. A quite hand check and I'm relieved.

Really, what would possess this curious child of mine to push the lenses out of my eyeglasses? To create little invisible dishes for her stuffed animals? Jewels for her toy chest? A magnifying lens to create a fire in a small wooded area? It then occurs to me, there could be a possibility of one of the girls cutting themselves on the edges of these lenses if someone unknowingly steps on them and the lenses break. I now wonder, do these newfangled lightweight lenses break or shatter? This thought gets me moving like a madwoman.

I'm not happy. Three year old is upset because mommy messed up her pile and lost her calm composure. Eight year old is packing up her knapsack and threatening to move out of the house because I'm searching through her shelves and drawers. Six year old is screaming "You hurt my doll, you hurt my doll!" And I'm getting dirty, going through yicky trash baskets, finding dust parties playing beneath the beds and dressers, ordering the rebellious troops to go to bed.

This would be the perfect moment for my fairy godmother to sparkle and shine. Poof! Appear and wave her wonderful magic wand to create peace, smiles and joy in this upset household of mine. Another graceful wave would help me gather courage to continue my seemingly fruitless search. Even better, just wave the trusty wand and poof! These evasive lenses would appear shiny and whole back in the eyeglass frames. My house would be put back in order. And as an extra treat because I was a good sport, my fairy godmother would give a fancy extra special wave of the wand and food allergies would cease to be a constant worry in my house, there would be an easy cure for dermatomyositis and cancer, my last 10 pounds would just melt off, I'd automatically look 10 years younger, my house would transform into a simple tasteful modern version of House Beautiful, there would be an end to human suffering and hunger, complete world peace and harmony, and.....

Instead, I guess I'll have to settle for a repeat of Grey's Anatomy and a pint of coffee crunch ice cream to gather up my strength to continue my search. Sigh.

Sunday, March 4, 2007

Bella at Midnight and A Sunday's List

Bella at Midnight by Diane Stanley is a wonderful read for those interested in a Cinderella fairy tale retelling with a strong heroine who is actively making things happen. There is drama, adventure, rebellion, friendship, honor, hope and love in this enjoyable book with a Joan of Arc flair.

Bella at Midnight is well written and narrated by different characters in the book. At first it was a bit confusing, but then became much easier to follow as I learned more about the characters. You will fall in love with Bella and her foster mother Beatrice, understand Prince Julian, be glad godmother Aunt Maude comes through, despise Bella's father, high five her stepsister Alice as she does the unthinkable for Bella, and cheer Bella on as she focuses on her mission.

And now, A Sunday's List of Strong Girl Role Models from Children's Literature:

1. Bella, godmother Aunt Maude, foster mother Beatrice, stepsister Alice from Bella at Midnight by Diane Stanley, ages 10 and up: Bella is a kind, generous, loyal friend. Her foster mother Beatrice raises Bella to be strong, joyful, loved and true to herself. When Bella's circumstances change, and she is forced to leave her much loved foster family to live with her real father and resentful stepfamily, Bella makes the best of the situation with nary a vicious complaint. While some people may call her a wet noodle, I think it shows strong character because she is adaptable. She doesn't give in to her circumstances and lose faith. She's simply watching and waiting for her moment. And wow, does she find her shining moment. Even though Bella is betrayed by her friend, Prince Julian, Bella prepares to warn him when she finds out he is in danger. Bella's godmother, Aunt Maude, and stepsister Alice take the risk to help Bella warn Prince Julian. Despite all the danger to her, Bella finds the strength, courage, hope, honor and faith to succeed in her mission a la Joan of Arc. A truly heroic ending for a strong gutsy girl.

2. Summer and May from Missing May by Cynthia Rylant, ages 10 and up: May is the glue who held her family together. When May dies, her husband Ob and foster daughter Summer grieve and have a hard time moving on with their lives. May loved Ob and Summer with all her heart. May always let Summer know how much she is loved. Summer works hard to make Ob realize life is still worth living. Missing May is a beautiful book about loss, grief, hope and healing. Cynthia Rylant artfully weaves in wry humor, courtesy of enthusiastic crazy classmate Cletus Underwood, to offset the depressing topic of death.

3. Martha Boyle, her grandmother Godbee from Olive's Ocean by Kevin Henkes, ages 10 and up: Olive's Ocean is a change from Kevin Henkes joyful, tender picture books. This thoughtful, quiet book is about family dynamics, life, and the mysteries of death. 12 year old Martha Boyle is confused about Olive Barstow, a classmate she barely knew, who was killed in a car crash. Martha spends the summer by the ocean with Godbee, her grandmother. Martha discovers her first crush, her first kiss, betrayal and loyalty. Martha and Godbee have a wonderful relationship. Godbee is such a loving, encouraging, wonderful grandmother, cool enough to know when Martha needs space or when Martha needs to talk. Martha learns life and family are precious, pays a tribute to Olive Barstow, and finds strength in her writing.

4. 20 extraordinary women from Lives of Extraordinary Women: Rulers, Rebels (and What the Neighbors Thought) by Kathleen Krull, ages 9 - 12: What strong girl or woman wouldn't want to pick up this book simply for the title itself? This gutsy book highlights 20 interesting women in history who "dared to stand up and be a leader." Read brief biographies about Cleopatra, Eleanor of Aquitaine, Joan of Arc, Isabella I, Elizabeth I, Nzingha, Catherine the Great, Marie Antoinette, Victoria, Harriet Tubman, Tz'u-hsi, Gertrude Bell, Jeanette Rankin, Eleanor Roosevelt, Golda Meir, Indira Gandhi, Eva Peron, Wilma Mankiller, Aung San Suu Kyi, and Rigoberta Menchu. While not all of these women are noted for good role model qualities, they all dared to be true to themselves and make an strong impression. I was thrilled to see Joan of Arc--I have been fascinated with her for years.

5. 26 inspirational women from Amelia to Zora: Twenty-six Women Who Changed the World by Cynthia Chin-Lee, ages 9 -12: The alphabetical selection of women in this picture book will inspire and encourage strong girls to follow their dreams, despite the hardships and challenges thrown in their path. This book give you just enough information to whet your appetite to find out more about these amazing women. Some women who I have admired over the years: Amelia Earhart, Eleanor Roosevelt, Grace Hopper, Helen Keller, Nawal El Sadaawi. Now these are strong role models.

Friday, March 2, 2007

Poetry Friday: The Battle of the Bulge by Robert W. Service

I found this poem from the Poetry Foundation website and found it so relevant. We just had a few boxes of Girl Scout cookies delivered yesterday and I had to try the Lemonades--Lemon Iced Shortbread Slices. And couldn't stop.

If you'd like to find other poems or reviews of poetry books, head on over to Big A little a for the Poetry Friday roundup.

This year an ocean trip I took, and as I am a Scot
And like to get my money’s worth I never missed a meal.
In spite of Neptune’s nastiness I ate an awful lot,
Yet felt as fit as if we sailed upon an even keel.
But now that I am home again I’m stricken with disgust;
How many pounds of fat I’ve gained I’d rather not divulge:
Well, anyway, I mean to take this tummy down or bust,
So here I’m suet-strafing in the Battle of the Bulge.

No more will sausage, bacon, eggs provide my breakfast fare;
On lobster I will never lunch, with mounds of mayonnaise.
At tea I’ll Spartanly eschew the chocolate éclair;
Roast duckling and pêche melba shall not consummate my days.
No more nocturnal ice-box raids, midnight spaghetti feeds;
On slabs of pâté de foie gras I vow I won’t indulge:
Let bran and cottage cheese suffice my gastronomic needs,
And lettuce be my ally in the Battle of the Bulge.

To hell with you, ignoble paunch, abhorrent in my sight!
I gaze at your rotundity, and savage is my frown.
I’ll rub you and I’ll scrub you and I’ll drub you day and night,
But by the gods of symmetry I swear I’ll get you down.
Your smooth and smug convexity, by heck! I will subdue,
And when you tucker in again with joy will I refulge;
No longer of my toes will you obstruct my downward view ...
With might and main I’ll fight to gain the Battle of the Bulge.

Thursday, March 1, 2007

readergirlz for gutsy girls

If you haven't already done so, go and check out readergirlz, a wonderful resource for gutsy girls who love to read. The readergirlz divas launched the program today, in honor of National Women's History Month, because "today's girls will make tomorrow's history." Little Willow designed this cheerful bold website with beautiful colors. There's a great playlist linked into this site. Oh, the Dave Matthews Band--pure happiness. Check out Little Willow's wonderful interview with the readergirlz divas.

The readergirlz divas quote Jen Robinson in the readergirlz March Manifesta as saying "Girls should be reading about characters who aren't perfect, who either have real-life problems and have to cope with them, or who simply make mistakes and have to deal with the consequences." This is so, so true. This was a big reason why I started my weekly lists of Strong Girl Role Models of Children's Literature. Jen was recently interviewed by Kim and Jason in their most recent podcast titled Balancing Adulthood Responsibility and Childlike Fun . Congrats Jen!

The readergirlz start this month with a book written by readergirlz diva Justina Chen Headley. Go out and find a copy of Nothing but the Truth (and a few white lies), then join the readergirlz divas and friends on their myspace group site. You need to sign up for a myspace account and be a member for 7 days before being able to comment.

Welcome readergirlz!