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So excited to be a small part if this project with our indie kids press, Handersen Publishing!

Saint Beckett

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I’ve drawn up the tile pages for Elizabeth J.M. Walkers fairy tales. Just a few more pictures to finish off by the end of the month.

The it’s up to Handersen Publishing to make some sort of sense of my mess. At least the stories will be good.

Then I can rest. Until the next thing.

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National Poetry Month Week 4: Let’s get real!

Obviously, poetry has been an important part of my life. Both reading and writing have gotten me through some tough spells.

As punishment, my mom once made me take my journal outside and write. I was taught to work through difficult situations and emotions by expressing them, owning them, and figuring out a way to deal with them if they decided to stay.

When I lost my grandfather words poured out onto paper. If I had trouble with a boyfriend, best friend, work colleague . . . I would grab my laptop and type. When our family moved across the country to a state I had never even visited, far away from known relatives, I wrote . . . usually in rhyme.

Journaling isn’t something that I do anymore (although, I should probably pick it up again), but if I’m somewhere and something hits me, I immediately search for the closest scrap of paper and begin to write. Then, I try not to lose it, so that piece of paper can make its way to the folder that contains these bits of my soul.

But what I’m finding, as I grow older is that sometimes you indirectly write about a problem. And if, with age comes wisdom, then wisdom also comes with a sense of humor.

My first collection of children’s poetry, was filled with silliness of childhood. I had moldy dancing food, dust bunnies, and smelly brothers. PS, I’m pretty sure I’ve got one of these dancing green guys in my fridge right now!

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When I started my latest book, though, I still wanted to capture those moments of childhood, but I wanted them to be real. I wanted this book to represent lots of different children, not just the ones in my house.

I’m having trouble with one poem in my book. It’s my favorite, and it gets very real, very quickly. I’m wondering if it’s too real for a children’s book. I think that kids can handle it, in that obscure positive way that they tend to look at the world.

But as a parent it breaks my heart. I’ll paste it below, and you tell me what you think.

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Counting stars up in the sky, close your eyes and wonder why.

Feel the fear, and maybe cry, it’s okay to wonder why.

Counting stars up in the sky, close your eyes and dream today,

Picture someplace far away, free from questions, free to play.

Counting stars up in the sky, close your eyes and make a wish.

Imagine floating through the night in a giant rocket ship.

Take a breath, count down from ten, feel the rocket trip begin.

See the planets, see the moon, see adventure coming soon.

Counting stars up in the sky, imagination overdrive.

Take you where you want to go, when life gets tough and you don’t know.

When questions don’t have simple answers,

When days are long and time has stopped.

Counting stars up in the sky, helps when you are wondering why.

Hi, Winter. It’s not you, it’s me.

It’s the second week in April, and the weather outside is looking bleak. I have a message for winter:

“Hi, Winter. We’ve been together for a while now, but we need to talk. It’s not you, it’s me. We just want two different things. I’m moving forward, on to something different. It’s not that we didn’t have some fun times. Sledding was a blast! And there is no one better at building a snowman than you. It’s just time for a change.

Okay, I’ll be honest, I’ve met someone new. It was a week ago, when suddenly the sun was shining and it was warm outside. I even put on a tank top. It was just so new. I felt something that I hadn’t in a while. I just don’t think I can feel that way with you anymore.

It’s just time for us to go our separate ways. You’ll be okay, I promise. And who knows! In eight months things might be different, and we may find a way to make this work again. Thanks for the good times. I’ll never forget you.

Now get out!”

Coming to You from Spain: Guadix Troglodytes

Tangled Magic

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In the mountain above the city of Guadix, people live in house-caves.  The white pillars that you see sticking up are either air vents or chimneys.  We arrived before the museum opened, but a woman who was cranking out the awning of her store directed us to her “cueva”, to have a look inside for free.

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Her husband was waiting to welcome us in.  He’s there in the photo, behind the gatepost.

IMG_4980   IMG_4981 Kitchen, dining area, IMG_4983bedroom   IMG_4984 and bath.

The man’s family has lived there for four generations.

We explored the church, also a cave dug into the mountain.

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The Museum of Traditional Culture was a gem, situated in a cueva that was furnished as it had been in 1928 when the family bought it for less than $2.00.  We saw a film about the history of caves, from practical to religious.   The rooms were full of artifacts.

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What I’m Reading

Tangled Magic

Life in Yam Hill (Part I), by Tevin Hansen

Did you ever wonder what it would be like to live inside a giant potato?   Tevin Hansen wondered, and he wrote a whole book about it. Polly (Want a Cracker) and her good friend Bic (Lighter) know very little about the Old Earth that existed before the Great Unexpected Tragedy. But Polly’s adult friend, Jack of Hearts, has information about Yam Hill that could endanger all three of their lives.

Author Hansen has created a strange, orange world inside the yam, down to details of how people eat, dress, and dispose of waste. I was drawn in by the weirdness of the concept from the beginning. After the Elders showed up, things got really exciting. I can’t wait to read Part II!

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Because sometimes . . .

Because sometimes you wake up with a sore throat, an AWFUL attitude, and something growing on your face that looks like a second chin.

Because sometimes you just want to crawl into a hole for the next 3-5 business days, but there are still lunches to make, boo-boos to kiss, hair to brush…the list never ends.

Because sometimes the Wild Kratts’ Monkey Mayhem game is the hardest thing in the entire world, and Chris and Martin should crawl into a hole.

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Disclaimer: I’m really quite fond of the Wild Kratts. Their TV show and most of their games are wonderful. It’s just that my almost four-year-old isn’t quite ready for this game, and it is the ONLY one that he wants to play.

My little piece of imprefection

Fighting streaming from upstairs.

Piles of laundry everywhere

Dirty dishes in the sink

I want to scream, then stop and think.

 

Of all the places that I’ve been,

Of all the people met therein,

The three that are a part of me

Are in the chaos, a perfect dream.

 

Each new challenge met today

Makes me smile in a certain way,

As delightful as a sweet confection

My little piece of imperfection.

Stepping out of your sister’s shadow

Our eldest is a hurricane. She started talking at six months, walking at ten months. The first thing people ask upon meeting her is, “Does she always talk that much?” My answer is, “Yes.” She wears every emotion on the outside, for the world to see.

When our little guy was born, it became clear that he was a completely different kind of kid. We quickly dubbed him the “normal one”. He is an observer, a thinker. He does not run on impulse, instead he takes his time. He looks at little bugs on the sidewalk, clouds in the sky . . .

Then he turned three . . .

He is still an observer, and he is still my Pokey Little Puppy, but there was an explosion, a burst of language and coordination, and silly fun. Now instead of the “normal one” we ask, “Remember when he was the quiet one?”

The timing could not be better. As our daughter is getting into the swing of Kindergarten, our little guy is becoming his own person. He’s stepping out from behind the hurricane and finding his own way to be, which is something like a monsoon, intense torrential rain with beautiful calm sunshine after.

It’s hard not to compare kids, it’s one of the key building blocks to education, sorting and categorizing. As parents, especially moms, that’s how we relate to other parents, we compare children, experiences, lifestyles. I don’t think comparing is a bad thing, it’s important to embrace our differences, but it’s also important not to judge.

I received one of the best compliments from a friend. She said, “You let your kids be who they are.” I replied, “I try to,” because sometimes it’s really hard. But by embracing their natural tendencies, and encouraging kindness and empathy, they are turning into little humans that are ready to take on the world!

 

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Lauren Child has a way of creating stories that seem to have stepped out of any child’s life. The New Small Person, is the perfect example of this.

In this book a family of three turns into a family of four, and the biggest adjustments must come from the boy who was once an only child. As his new baby brother grows this big brother finally comes to the realization that maybe this new small person isn’t so bad after all.

My favorite part of this book is when he finally calls his little brother by name.

This is a very typical Lauren Child book, with the familiar characters and illustrations that go with it. It is full of texture and color and approachable dialogue that is fun and engaging to read together with your favorite “small person”.