Thursday, March 30, 2006

Let's hear it for kids and Waffle Wednesday!

Incredible: six neighbor kids.

Delicious: homemade waffles and hot cocoa.

Amazing: seven smiles.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Kids and Waffle Wednesday

Three neighbor kids came over this morning for homemade waffles and hot chocolate before getting on the bus.

We had so much fun that we've started "Waffle Wednesday" each week. They're inviting other neighbor kids, too! (With parent permission).

I recently learned that it used to take one adult to positively influence five kids; it now takes five adults to leave a positive impact on one child.

So the next time a child comes your way, remember: you don't need waffles or hot chocolate--just a listening ear and a huge smile. But keep in mind: it's gonna' change your life!

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

First haircut

My little two-year-old granddaughter got her first haircut yesterday. Her picture is on my desktop and I'm sure I'll have it printed and framed, too.

There's something about a child's first haircut: they look so old afterward!

She stands facing the camera, with her little hands outstretched by her sides, as if just ready to bust a she can hardly stand still in her post-haircut excitement.

Her beautiful long eyelashes, pure-blue eyes, and the auburn-blonde red hair that Papa Brown had always wanted his children to have...she is just priceless.

How did she sit still at the salon? She watched Nemo, enjoyed her sucker, and picked out an orange balloon when it was all done. Now that's what I call living!

Monday, March 13, 2006

1000 pounds of chocolate

Today was our monthly critique group at Borders'Cafe.

I can't stress enough the importance of networking with other authors. I have two writing groups that I belong to, and both are worth their weight in chocolate.

Which, if combined, would be around 1000# of chocolate. That's not such a bad thing--to be worth your weight in chocolate.

Good writers help us see our writing through fresh eyes. They make sure we don't assume the reader understands what's in our head when we tell our stories; they want it in writing! (Show, don't tell).

Good writers offer suggestions to bring more action, create shorter sentences, and remind us of Point of View (POV) and Voice.

But more than providing quality writing suggestions, good writer friends are simply friends. We listen. Share goals. Report on acceptances. And returns--because any writer will tell you that you're not successful until your writing's been rejected. Why? Because rejection means that we tried. No pitches, no queries, then no returns. I could build a house with the returns I've received. But that also means there have been lots of acceptances, too.

Good writing friends tell us they need to read more detail. For example, today they went over next week's column which describes my time in Germany and the magical ambiance of family-friendly Bavarian Biergartens. I attempted to compare American's attempts at supersizing sodas to German biergartens. There is no comparison. The Germans have it. We don't.

So my friend said something about using the word "beer mug." That could create a picture of a huge glass of beer, which then makes the Bavarian scene complete. Right?

Well, her suggestion worked, because a guy with a fresh cup of coffee heard her say "beer mug." He sat next to our table. We laughed.

Now if my readers can pull up a chair, sip a cup of hot coffee, and read my column with that much enthusiasm at the word "Beer garden," then next week's column will be another hit.

So today, eight eyeballs helped me out. Plus a guy drinking coffee listening in.

Definitely worth 1000# of chocolate--don't you think?

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Not a car singer? Then skip this.

If you don't sing in the car, skip this.

I traveled up north yesterday along I-5 and I-405. Alone. No music blaring out of my teenager's headsets in stereo behind me. Sometimes I can hear Michael Buble on one side of me; the other--maybe Daniel Powter singing about having a bad day. Both great singers.

But yesterday it was just me.

So for two and a half hours, I listened to whatever I wanted. With my CD player jammed in the magazine, and unable to afford to fix it because I make so much money as a writer, I'm currently stuck with the radio; I'll take Switchfoot any day, and if I'm really lucky, Tony Bennett on the jazz/NPR station.

I love cranking up the music, then turning it down when I head back into the driveway. It's a secret my kids don't know about. It's a way to relive my teen years. Which is about the only part of my teen years I'd wish to relive.

The hardest part about driving and singing are the stop lights. I nod my head with the beat, keep rythmm on the steering wheel, and if the lyrics are really good--and I don't want to stop singing when the guy in the Hummer next to me is watching-- I just look straight ahead and sing. Doesn't bother me anymore, what other drivers at red lights think of me...because I know they do it, too.

So tell me, if we meet at a stoplight, and your lips are moving, what will you be singing?

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Recipe of the week

I try hard to cook something different for dinner each week. Usually it's something I've made in the past. Here's a fun and different dessert that my family loves:

Kid-friendly Red Hot Salad...'cuz who wants celery and nuts in their jello?

2/3 c. cinnamon red hots**
1.5 c. applesauce
3-oz pkg red jello
1 c. boiling water
8 oz. cream cheese
1/2 mayo or plain yogurt (I use yogurt)

Stir red hots, applesauce and jello in the water. Cool. Pour half into 9X13" dish and chill until firm. Mix cream cheese with mayo. Pour over jello mixture. Chill until set.

**Sometimes you can find the red-hots in celophane pkgs near check registers for 50 cents each.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

See you at the pole

I heard a report on the news today about a local county that just approved additional spending to accomodate our growing prison population.

I'm not a politician, so I have an easier way to go about this: start investing in a child. Be there for them. Let them know you care. Then we'll wonder later on what to do with all the extra jail space.

A bunch of us invested in our local kids today when we met around the flagpole of a local school. We prayed for the students, their relationships with parents, their friends going through tough times, and every teacher by name.

It's hard to criticize and find fault with others when we're in their corner.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Who they really are

The neighborhood kids remind me of one of my very favorite quotes by Mother Teresa:

"Each one of them is Jesus in disguise."

Two guys at my door

I heard an early-morning knock today. As soon as the door opened, two neighborhood kids excitedly told me all about the upcoming science fair and a presentation one of them planned on doing today (he was dressed in a jacket, shirt, and tie). His presentation was on a "dead person who used to be alive and was famous."

They didn't care that my make-up wasn't yet on or my house wasn't picked up. But they sure knew they were welcome(I make sure their parents know).

They had just enough time to drink hot chocolate, feed the squirrels on our back porch and ramble on about the upcoming science fair.

What an honor to spend time with children! We are the ones who are lucky, not they. I hope that all of us will take time to drop everything we feel is so important--deadlines, errands, projects due, presentations--and just listen to what a kid has to say. No unsolicited advice. No judging. No all-about-me's. Just listening and caring. Maybe we'll learn something.

Soon they walked out toward the bus. Then they stopped and turned in my direction. "Tomorrow? Eight o'clock?"

"You bet."

Better stock up on hot chocolate.

Monday, March 06, 2006

Lovin' the morning time

It isn't always easy for me to get up early, but I love the promise of a new day. I love the honor of praying for my family before my feet hit the floor; it sets the pace for the rest of the day--so that no matter what happens, I've asked God to surround us with His guidance and presence. It's a way of acknowledging that He is in control. I'm not. Things go so much smoother that way! To think that He loves each one of us so incredibly much, and loves to hear others' names brought before his heart...well, that amazes me!

This doesn't mean that the day is always easy or peaceful. But I know that whatever happens, I'm not alone. And either are you.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Here we go!

Hi. This blog stuff is so new to me!

Hopefully it will be a good way to warm up my writing each morning before starting another writing assignment.

I'm so blessed to have a large network of writer friends and hope to find more here through this site.

I'll sign off on my first official post with one of my favorite quotes from Blessed Mother Teresa:
"I'm a little pencil in the big hands of a writing God."