Wuthering Heights – the Board Book

Happy Presidents’ Day everyone!  If you are state side I’m hoping you are all enjoying the holiday, if not I hope you having a marvelous day anyway.

I visited my local library the other day and saw something that made my jaw drop, a board book of Wuthering Heights.  Generally, I consider the sole purpose of a board book is to give teething infants something new and colorful to chew on, not to introduce classic literature; so when I saw this I had to laugh.

photo (5)Had I seen it a few months ago I still would have found it amusing, but as I am currently reading the original unabridged edition for the first time, it’s hilarious.  First of all, babies aren’t going to care about the complex (and utterly dysfunctional) nature of the relationship between the rogue Heathcliff and the barely civil Catherine.  Secondly, I’m not sure how much I care either.  It’s the attempt that’s funny.

Turns out they didn’t even bother.  The book is a study on the different weather conditions found out on the moors, randomly using Bronte’s prose to emphasize conditions such as sunny, cloudy, and windy.

For all it’s worth I’d get it just because it makes me smile.

 

 

Surviving Being Off Track – Week 3

This was the week I was dreading most of all, all of the fun things we had planned we had already done, and what was left on the list no one wanted to do, or the weather didn’t permit.  On top of that we had three major events to host/attend all sandwiched back to back with far too little breathing room in between.  All with raging PMS.

Today, even with the considerable foot dragging on the part of my oldest, the kids are back in school.  I’m too burned out from the past three weeks to do the happy dance that this occasion deserves. Maybe tomorrow.  I can content myself with the fancy chocolate I hid away instead.

I wish I could say that we did some really fun new things this week, and in some ways we did.  One of the events that we hosted was a sleepover for my son and his cousins to celebrate his birthday.  They stayed up late watching movies and playing Minecraft and having a great time.  We finally got them to bed around 11:30 – which was a good thing because they woke up at 5:30 (yes, in the morning – eeek!) to plug back in and play more. We asked them to please sleep a little more so they wouldn’t be super cranky the next day. You can imagine how well that worked.  At least they were downstairs and behind closed doors so we could barely hear them.

We did the Planetarium one more time, this time seeing the Rocky Mountain Railroad movie on IMAX.  Out of the latest three this one was my favorite, beautiful cinematography, epic landscapes, great history, and awesome music (and free popcorn!).  Even the youngest sat for most of it, although I’ll admit it might be because the train whistles and noises might have scared him a little.  I’ll take what I can get.

We attempted to test out oldest’s new birthday bike, but with the snow and ice it didn’t last too long.  He doesn’t like change and those extra 6 inches are making a big difference in his confidence.  The brakes are different as well, he’s used to pushing back on the pedal but the new bike has hand brakes.  I can only be thankful that he tends to be overly cautious, and didn’t wipe out.  That would have put him off of riding for weeks if not months.  IMG_2288[1]

Part of me is sad that I didn’t spend any time in the kitchen making goodies together.  At the same time, it’s a bit of a relief that they didn’t seem to want to either.  With hubby and I both dieting, having cookies, cupcakes and other treats around isn’t a great idea.  I still made cupcakes and a Minecraft inspired rice crispy treat “cake” for the birthday sleepover, and I won’t admit to how many crispy treats I ended up eating.

Here’s to the next time the kids are off track!

 

 

Surviving Being Off Track – Week 2

The second week of being off track is now over and we are all getting a little stir crazy. With only one week to go there is still time to make some memories and have lots of fun. The moaning about having to go back is already in full swing, especially from my oldest who hasn’t warmed up to his teacher and at this point probably never will.  I chalk it up to helping him build character by doing things he doesn’t like. He doesn’t agree.

Here are last week’s highlights –

  1. The Library – We finally made it over to the library and grabbed a bag full of new books to read and a few DVD’s to watch.  Oldest son would only grab science books, and that’s okay because that’s what he loves. The rest are Spongebob and Barbie books. Nothing for me this time, Baby D started acting out before I dared venture into the grown up section. Next time I’m planning on reserving a little something for me so it’s super easy to grab.
  2. Playing in the snow – it snowed two days last week which meant sledding and snowmen!  IMG_2234
  3. Movies – We love movies around here and almost watch one everyday.  It gives the kids a chance to wind down for a while and gives me some much needed peace. Our favorite titles this week were “The Lorax” and “Cloudy and a Chance of Meatballs 2.”
  4. Planetarium, again – This time we went to the dome theater and watched “Ultimate Universe.”  Did I mention that having a membership is really awesome?  My son is already planning our next trip.

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    My three little monsters on Mars

  5. More Minecraft! – I’m now hoping that the novelty of playing together is starting to wear off.  I’ve spent way more time mining imaginary rock than a sane person should.  It’s still pretty fun, but so much screen time is starting to put a kink in my neck and back.

As for me, I’m still pretty happy about how the break has gone.  I’ve managed to keep the house under control and have started a new goal with my writing using the Giveit100 website where you work on something for 100 days straight trying to improve.  Most people have health and fitness goals, mine is to work on editing my book and get into a habit of working on it everyday.  So far it’s working for me and I think it’s fun, I hope it lasts!

Surviving Being Off Track – Week 1

We’ve made it through one week of being off track from school and so far everything has gone well. Everyone is still talking to each other and the house has not been destroyed, yet.  There is still time for that.  My youngest has uncovered an even more stubborn streak than before and is testing his limits right and left.  As I type I’m letting him watch his favorite show on my computer screen, but he can’t be happy with just that.  He also feels he must pull my fingers off of the keyboard as I type.

Here are the highlights from last week –

  1. Homemade Gak – By far this was the favorite activity. The kids spent hours playing with the stretchy gooey stuff.  We chose clear glue to make our Gak and discovered later that the chemical composition is different from with white glue. Mixing and mashing it with more and more water until it was usable took longer than I originally planned.  In the end it still wasn’t as stretchy as I thought it should be, but was still really cool. As a side note, Gak works wonders to get dust out of the cracks of your keyboard, mine is sparkling clean now.  You can also add essential oils to make it smell nice, peppermint worked great.  Playing with the Gak was so popular that it took place of several of the other activities I had planned for the week.IMG_2261
  2. Super Absorbent Polymers – Also known as Orbeez, these spheres start as tiny BB sized balls and absorb 20-40 times their size in water. The kids loved watching them slowly grow over the course of several hours and then playing with them. They look like glass marbles and feel a little squishy when held.  The clear balls disappear like magic in water.  If let out to dry they shrink back to their original size over the course of several days and then can be stored and used again.  We found ours in the vase and silk flower section of our local dollar store.IMG_2260
  3. The Planetarium – This year we received a membership to the local Planetarium, a terrific gift for any family with kids who like science like mine.  Ours has a 3D Imax theater and a dome theater and has different shows throughout the day.  It also has two floors of exhibits and hands-on activities that the kids love.  This week we watched the 3D Imax Dragons movie.
  4. Minecraft – I didn’t want to get sucked into this game, but at the same time if this is what my kids want to do and it’s something we can do together, then it makes for good together time.  We figured out how to share each others worlds and visit.  I’ve made myself little homes and gardens in each of their worlds and then can come over and help them fight their zombies and find materials for building.

I had hoped to be able to work on my projects as well this week, my manuscript is feeling rather neglected lately.  With my youngest fighting naps and the other two at home, finding uninterrupted quiet time doesn’t happen. I did a little work on my query letter and through it was able to solve a major plotting concern that had nagged at the back of my mind. With luck, this week I’ll find a few hours here and there to get more chapters edited.

Here’s to another great week!

Teaching the Next Generation

I had all the intentions of writing a new section of The Man in the Cupboard for this morning but then I got caught up in another project – preparing a mini class for my daughters kindergarten class.

Part of being a writer mom means doing my best to be the coolest mom out there for my kids. If I can do that using something I love, teaching about writing, then that’s a double bonus for me.

For the class I will be walking the students through the parts of a book which include, beginning, middle, end, conflict, resolution, character and setting.  As part of the class we will be making our own book using ideas from the class.  It’s fun to encourage the kids to think of silly ideas and then being able to create a finished product that they can keep.

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Image courtesy of stockimages / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Here’s hoping it will go as planned!

A Case of the Grumpies

Today is one of those days where my “Get up and GO!” got up and went.  Here in Utah we’ve entered another ice age, the temperatures haven’t even gotten close to above freezing for over a week.  Even with the heat on, the air inside the house holds a chill and all I want to do is curl up under a blanket with a book and a cocoa and wait it out.

And that’s not an option when you have three kids, one of which is teething.

One of the best feelings in the world is waking up in a warm bed and not having to get out of it for a bit longer.  Now imagine having to get out of it over an over again during the course of the night to comfort a teething toddler who sleeps on a different floor.  For the last few nights we’ve done the teething toddler tango, and for everyone’s sake I hope that we’re nearly done.

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Sleep deprivation is only part of the reason I’m grumpy. The other reason comes in two very rambunctious packages called older brother and sister.  Maybe I’m wrong to assume that most kids like sleeping in, especially on school days.  Today, my oldest woke before seven and proceeded to make enough noise to wake up the other kids.  This kid can do nothing quietly, he’s even sings and stomps his feet when he brushes his teeth.

It’s like living in a crazy house.  

Breakfast, the most important meal of the day, is torture.  We are on a schedule to get to school on time.  I can’t have them waiting full minutes between bites all while kicking and fighting each other, or worse ganging up on who can make me more angry.  The Benedictine monks had the right idea to eat their meals in silence. Where can I sign up to be one?

Even now, while I’m venting writing this I have a cute little girl at my elbow talking at me about what she doesn’t want to do. I’ve given her dozens of different fun ideas to keep her amused, but because I’m the one suggesting them she won’t do them.  Which is all the more frustrating because she’s the one coming to me asking what she can do.

Don’t get me wrong, I love the little ankle biters.  They have made me what I am today. I am fearless because of them. I have gained an immense inner strength that couldn’t have developed any other way because of them.

And, I flirt with total insanity every day.  No, really, this veneer of calm you see is a thin sheet of ice that is one tap away from shattering.

I think today momma gets a nap.

An Exercise in Video Game Patience

As with most my generation, I grew up with gaming systems.  They came into maturity around the same time I did.  Growing up, my brother and I would spend countless hours trying to work through different levels of various games.  Even in college I had one semester where I spent more time playing Chrono Cross than on my school work. Sometimes my hubby and I will play video games together to unwind.

With that in mind it’s no surprise that my kids have loved video games from an early age.  I think it’s great, in moderation of course.  They get to do something they love, I get to work on my projects undisturbed.

LegoIndyThere’s only one downside – when older brother isn’t around to help figure out things that duty falls on me. My darling daughter loves Lego Harry Potter and Lego Indiana Jones.  In these games a series of puzzles need to be solved in a 3D environment to move to the next stage. Sometimes the puzzles are tricky, sometimes moving around the board is hard. Watching the process is enough to make any adult scream, “Give me the remote!”

When she gets stuck she wants me to tell her what to do, which is fine when I know what to do.  Most of the time I don’t.  I try to give her some directions but it always ends up sounding like this: “Go that way. . . No – the other way. . . No, where you were before, by that shiny thingy.  Now, be the bazooka guy and shoot it . . . The shiny thing, yea, shoot that.  . . . Ok, now pull the lever. . . That lever. . . The only lever on the screen. . .  Now you’re headed the wrong way, you have to go through the door. . . That door . . The red door in the middle of the screen, see it? . . . Ok, want me to get you through to the next level yet? . . . Please?”

Kids think different things are funny as well.  I watched my daughter throw her character off a cliff over and over all the while laughing and rolling on the floor at the goofy scream he made.  Each time the little Lego man dies he looses some of the coins he’s collected.   When you collect enough coins you earn a badge for that level, get enough badges and you unlock all sorts of goodies.  I have to bite my tongue to keep from stopping her from wrecking her chances of earning that badge. She doesn’t care; but after a lifetime of trying to avoid killing my little video people, I sure do.

Then, there’s the racing games.  I’ll admit, I’m pretty proud of my little speed demons, they are getting to the point where they can maneuver their cars better than I can.  In these games there is a clear winner and loser, and my kids hate to lose. When they get too frustrated they ask me to help them win.  I don’t mind, I like playing.  However, I’m no miracle worker.  I can’t pull out a win when there is only half of the last lap left and all the other video people have crossed the finish line. It’s impossible even for the Game Master. Losing their game makes me the bad guy, and I hate being the bad guy.

In the end, I love that my kids love video gaming as much as I did growing up. I hope they’re memories are as good as mine and when they have kids of their own they can enjoy gaming together as well.

 

Teaching Sewing to Kids

I’m a mom first, writer second.  I dream of being that kind of fabulous mom who comes up with all sorts of crazy and memorable activities for my kids.  Problem is, making up crazy and memorable activities takes lots of time and energy.  And, well, writing just takes lots of time.

Needless to say, when I find an activity to share with the kids I’m really excited.

Not too long ago I had this brilliant idea that I would start teaching my kids about how to use a sewing machine.  I learned how to sew when I was a kid and have been grateful for the skill all my life.  I had a simple project, a tote bag, and all the materials on hand. Showing my kids something new, where they actually make something useful, how cool is that?  Mom of the year, here I come!

Step one, cut out the pieces.  Simple enough, right?  I thought so.  All the pieces were squares and clearly marked.  I had looked forward to some quiet time while they sat and worked on this step.  However, Mr. T couldn’t manage to cut even close to the line and was zigging and zagging all over the place.  Miss K was determined to cut on the line but couldn’t get the scissors to work.  Baby D was determined to give the scissors a try and nearly cut big holes into sister’s project.  After a whole lot of whining, their’s not mine, I ended up cutting out the pieces while holding off baby and sending the other two off to play.  Now that we’ve started I’m committed to finishing, but I’m having a sinking feeling that I might need some chocolate before this is over.

The next step is to pin the pieces together.  The idea of sewing pins and kids is a bit dicey, especially with Baby D roving around stealing whatever he could get his hands on.  Miss K loved the idea of pinning so much she managed to get forty pins in the one foot section of cloth we were working on.  Mr. T, on the other hand, couldn’t get the hang of pushing the pin in then back up again. Since it’s a straight line it’s not a big deal for me, but for beginners those pins really help do keep everything organized.  Six demonstrations of how to pin later and no progress on his ability to do so, it’s time to move on.

At last we sew!

Cutting and pinning will never measure up to the golden trophy of getting to use mom’s awesome sewing machine.  And boy, were they excited!  I sat Mr. T in my lap and showed him the pedal and the needle and how it moved up and down.  His job was to gently push the pedal while I guided the fabric through.  So, naturally, he jammed his foot down on the pedal as fast and hard as it would go.  He thought it was the funniest thing in the world.   Repeated encouragement to knock it off didn’t help and after a few minutes I had to ask him to go off and play or risk turning his bag into an mangled mess.

Miss K, on the other hand, demonstrated much more control and was thrilled to watch the different sides come together as she pushed the pedal.  By the way, guiding fabric with a gazillion needles in it and a kindergartner at the pedal is far more exciting than it sounds.

In the end, the project took much longer and much more patience than I had imagined. It’s going to be a long time and take a lot of convincing, and perhaps some more chocolate, before I teach another sewing lesson.  For now at least I can say that I’ve exposed them to some of the process of sewing and it will be more familiar – should there be a next time.

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Two tote bags, finished!

Salt Dough Gone Wild!

It was one of those long stretches of summer afternoon when it was too hot to go outside. The kids slid around the house, skulking, with nothing better to do than pick fights with each other and in general, drive me nuts.

Days like these scream for distraction and that day a movie wasn’t going to cut it.  I scanned through my “Gonna try this” folder on Pinterest and saw a post about salt dough. Perfect.  It’s creative, it’s quiet, it’s unplugged, and even better, I had all the ingredients.

My kids, like most kids, love play dough.  When they play it’s a whole body sensory experience.  The dough ends up ground into their clothes, hair, crumbled all over the floor, and mushed into the carpet.  If it were cleaner, I would do it more often.

So, we made salt dough and I set the kids to the task of making dough people.  Soon the house was filled with laughing once more as they posed and dressed their creations.  One of the perks of salt dough is that once it dries it can be painted. Usually this process takes several days of air drying, or several hours in a warm oven.

I’m not that patient.  Plus, I read that salt dough can be speed dried in the microwave. Dough boy got nuked and turned out great.  Once he had cooled off he was indeed dry and ready to paint.  Dough girl was a different story.  She was long and thin with narrow delicate limbs. Dough boy was stocky and thick.

It wasn’t until I smelled the panic inducing smell of smoke that I realized my mistake. Dough girl was on fire.  I grabbed the plate and ran her outside, hoping to minimize the amount of smoke that filled the house. But it was too late.  The whole house reeked of burnt flour, which is oddly similar to the smell of burnt popcorn.

Dough girl was toast.

I braced myself for the tantrum that was sure to follow. It didn’t come. Instead, I found my daughter doubled up in laughter.  She thought the whole incident was hilarious!

There was enough dough for her to make another, and this time I made sure not to light it on fire!

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Don’t do dumb things – Texting and Driving

Although this blog is mainly used for entertainment purposes, today’s post is deadly serious.  I happened to come across a disturbing and eye opening public service announcement video that I feel is important enough to share. It is my hope that by sharing this message the current attitude about texting while driving being okay, will change.

A Case for Texting while Driving

Before you watch this video be warned, it is graphic and intense.  If you are overly sensitive to seeing human tragedy, I suggest you skip it.  To be honest, when I finished watching I felt physically sick. This accident is a reenactment of a real accident that killed four people in Tredgar, located in south-east Wales. The Tredegar Comprehensive School and Gwent Police banded together to create this teaser for a longer video created to emphasize how dangerous it is to text and drive, especially for young or new drivers.

 

This isn’t the only video about a tragedy that has happened because of a distracted driver, there are dozens if not more online.  With the coming of new and better technology available for phones and personal devices this problem will only continue to grow.

For this, I plead with you –

Don’t do dumb things.

The world is a fantastic and wonderful place filled with fascinating people and thrilling adventures. Too many accidents happen when people fail to think through their actions beforehand. They think, “That could never happen to me. I’m careful. I’ve done it before.”

It’s not if the accident will happen, with this attitude, it’s when.

I grieve for all the families who have suffered tragedy and death due to texting and driving.   I don’t know about the rest of you, but today I’m holding my babies tighter and praying that the people driving around where they play and go to school put their phones away and pay attention.  No should ever have to bury a loved one because of this.

Oh, and wear your seat belt

To leave this heavy message on a brighter note, here is perhaps the best commercial for wearing a seat belt. It’ll make you cry, but in a good way.

If you feel this message is important, speak out! Share, reblog, tweet, pin, and be a part of the solution.  You can make a difference!