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!


Thursday, May 31, 2007

Garden Magic

The kids and their friends like this little sitting area, especially once the flower show begins. Never mind the close proximity to the driveway. This special place is where the audience sits for upbeat broadway shows, or where the children delight in whimsical tea parties, blow bubbles, sit quietly to read, or enjoy the birds and flowers.

Yellow pansies with lovely purple grace the beautiful flowerpot 3 year old painted with all her decorative magic. Right behind the little sitting area are two different varieties of irises. Stunning pink peonies are starting to bud right in between the two clumps of irises. This view is probably one of my favorite spots in my yard.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Some Tag Trickery: The 4 New x 2 Meme

Nothing like getting it back, but good. You may remember the 8 Things About Me Meme. Christine M. tagged me. Then I tagged 8 bloggers. 7 cool bloggers willingly played along. Check out their interesting 8 things: Alkelda the Gleeful, Emily, Elaine, Suzanne, Zee, Jennifer and Daphne.

But there's always that one...you know who I'm talking about? The free spirit who has to redefine the rules and be a cowgirl/cowboy. The one who likes to create a bit of mischief. The one who...okay, you've got the picture. So I unknowingly tagged one creative blogger who decided to tweak the 8 Things Meme a bit, and came up with a whole new meme. Cool, right? Fun, right? Absolutely. Here's the kicker. She got me back. She turned around and tagged me! Ha! So...drumroll please...Cloudscome's new meme: 4 New x 2.

The rules: You have to share four things that were new to you in the past four years. Four things you learned or experienced or explored for the first time in the past four years. New house, new school, new hobby, new spouse, new baby, whatever. Then you have to say four things you want to try new in the next four years.

Okay, let's see. Here are the four things that were new to me in the past four years:

1. I went to 9 cm without an epidural. Emergency c-section--1st c-section ever. Hey, who said that each progressive delivery is supposed to be easier? Not for me. But...Despite my 3 emotionally painful miscarriages. Despite all the incredulous, difficult happenings through each of my 3 full-term pregnancies and deliveries. Despite the permanent changes to my body. Sigh. In the end, it was still all worth it. Because I have Amazing Baby #3, now 3 1/2 years, cradled in my protective arms.

2. My husband and I made an offer on the house we live in now without ever seeing the inside of it. I fell in love with the neighborhood. I embraced the house, fixer-up as it was and still is, for its potential. My husband thinks I lost it.

3. Ben and Jerry's Coffee Heath Bar Crunch ice cream. Ben and Jerry figured out how to combine two delicious flavors together into one sumptous taste of pure decadent heaven.

4. Blogging. Oh, how I am so glad my sister showed me the way. What would I do without blogging and all my blogger friends? Okay, I would probably accomplish a whole lot more in real life, but I need the constant contact with all of you. I love being able to talk children's books, without someone thinking I need my head examined. I love hearing, I mean reading, your thought provoking, funny, sad or sassy stories. See, you're all hanging out in my house, gabbing along with me. I love all of the bountiful energy out in the blogosphere world.

4 new things in the next 4 years:

1. Published MG and/or YA novel. Someone out there has gotta like my one of my manuscripts or current WIP. It will be published. It will be revered. It will be on bookshelves everywhere.

2. Organized and beautifully decorated house. A la Pottery Barn. Or Diane Keaton's fabulous beach house on the movie set of As Good As It Gets. I figure by then my house will be all fixed up and the children will be older and not jumping all over furniture. Right?

3. I hope my sister will move in with me. If you've read this past post, you know my amazing younger sister has a rare chronic illness called dermatomyositis. She is currently in need of daily care and is in a wheelchair. I've been trying to figure out what I can do, and my ideal would be to have my sister live with me. Although I'm not sure whether my sister is interested in living with 3 strong willed children, one who in this time will be in her pre-teen years. In any event, I'm trying to figure out how we can modify our house to accomodate my sister's needs so she can be comfortable and have her independence. Hopefully, in this timeframe all will be complete and my sister will be convinced to move in.

4. Learn Pilates. I'm counting on this much talked about exercise regimen to provide much needed boost and lift. Ya know what I mean? Sigh.

Alkelda the Gleeful
Christine M.
Miss Erin
you're it...Anyone else want to play? Love it. Suzanne wants in. Consider yourself tagged.

And in case you want to find out a little bit about some other cool bloggers, here are some interesting 8 Things Memes I've found along the way:
Mother Reader
Liz B.
A. Fortis
7-Imp: Part One and Part Two

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

8 Things About Me Meme

Christine M. from The Simple and the Ordinary tagged me for this fun meme: 8 Things About Me.

Here are the rules: Each player lists 8 facts/habits about themselves. The rules of the game are posted at the beginning before those facts/habits are listed. At the end of the post, the player then tags 8 people and posts their names, then goes to their blogs and leaves them a comment, letting them know that they have been tagged and asking them to read your blog.

Hmmm...8 things. That I'm willing to go public with... Here goes:

1. I absolutely can't stand it when people are having a major conversation that includes animated laughing or yelling on their cell phone while driving their car. Especially if they are doing a particularly poor job of turning their 6,000 pound SUV into a lane and they look like they're heading towards me.

2. My favorite foods: Korean food, sushi, spanikopita and greek salad, and eggplant parmesan. I LOVE spicy and savory foods.

3. When I was pregnant with baby #1, the smell of cigarette smoke anywhere -- would get me vomiting like nobody's business. Once someone walked by our house, smoking a cigarette. I was in my livingroom, smelled the foul stuff, and promptly spewed forth like a volcano.

4. When I was pregnant with baby #1, I convinced my husband the chemical fumes from all the cleaners were bad for baby. It took hubby 4 months to figure out that plenty of women have cleaned bathrooms while they were pregnant, but by that time he was too afraid of my changing hormones to do much about it. He kept cleaning the bathrooms.

5. I hated jelly doughnuts until I became pregnant with baby #2. I developed a penchant for these homemade jelly doughnuts with a crunchy sugar coating from the local bakery.

6. I have a problem staying on the beach longer than an hour or two. No clean bathrooms and the sand is so invasive, it just gets into everything -- my camera case, food, drinks, in my car...it even finds its way into my house -- my two top reasons why.

7. When I was in high school, I was on the synchronized swimming team. Even though I had plenty of grace, agility and endurance, I apparently lacked the necessary strength to pass the lifeguard test. 90 pound me was no match for the male swim team member who pretended he was drowning at the bottom of the pool. It was quite the humiliating experience and valuable lesson. Thankfully, I gained the customary Freshman 15 in college. Sadly, I am no longer as fit and trim as I was in my youth.

8. I love bright colors, particularly a bright pink and green combo. Maybe it's a call from my preppy college days. Maybe it's because I have all girls. Nevertheless, these bright colors make me so very, very happy.

I tag:
Alkelda the Gleeful

Monday, May 28, 2007

Inspiration Monday: Check In Time!

"Thoughts lead on to purposes;
purposes go forth in action;
actions form habits;
habits decide character;
and character fixes our destiny."

Last Monday, the 30 Day Challenge officially began. I was so impressed; there were no takers for the 7 Day Challenge. This tells me we've got a bunch of motivated people ready to take action!

So here's what happened to me last week while I was creating my new habit of working on plot and character development every day for at least 30 minutes. The first 4 days were so effortless. I was inspired, ready to think and create, and used every bit of spare time to work on plot and character development. It was incredibly rewarding since I came up with the most brilliant idea (of course to myself) and was able to edit and re-edit a few chapters based on this new development. Talk about thrilling.

By day 5, I was feeling a bit stressed, because I realized I had to rework quite a bit of my WIP to weave in this new development. So I started to panic. I was somewhat tempted to just give myself a day to think it over, but I also knew if I did that, I'd #1. lose my creative momentum and #2. fail at my own challenge, which would kind of stink. Back to the drawing board I went. I struggled, but made my 30 minutes.

This weekend was actually easier for me. My husband took the kids out of the house for a couple hours each day, so I could have some quiet time. I think he's starting to accept all the time I spend on the computer.

All in all, I did good. I made my 30 minute commitment everyday, exceeding the time most days. I had an Aha! moment and came up with an awesome new development for my WIP. This is totally doable. Nothing like some good positive thinking.

Now it's your turn. Check in and tell me via comment, link or e-mail, how did you do this past week?

Friday, May 25, 2007

Poetry Friday: Girl Power, At What Price?

Caged Bird
by Maya Angelou

A free bird leaps
on the back of the wind
and floats downstream
till the current ends
and dips his wing
in the orange sun rays
and dares to claim the sky.

But a bird that stalks
down his narrow cage
can seldom see through
his bars of rage
his wings are clipped and
his feet are tied
so he opens his throat to sing.

It's tough being a girl in today's world. Personally, I believe girls deal with so much pressure at a young age. The pressure to be smart. To be strong. To be capable. To be athletic. To be beautiful. To be thin. To be Everything.

Now my husband thinks I'm a bit too outspoken on certain matters, so I don't want everyone jumping down my throat with this post. I'm just interested in a discussion, in an exchange of ideas, because I'm quite curious for the sake of research on what people think.

I'm just worried about today's girls. How are they going to handle the pressure to Be Everything? I'm not sure whether all this pressure to succeed is a result of the women's movement and the fight to pass the Equal Rights Amendment, which incidentally is still not an official part of the U.S. Constitution. Or maybe it's a result of a technologically advanced world and the incredible opportunities just waiting to be embraced. Or maybe, it's just the way of the world and I just need to learn to deal with it.

Some women might remember the famous television commercial of the early 1980's with a beautifully coiffed and dressed woman who does it all -- takes care of baby, has a great job, cleans, cooks and more -- "I can bring home the bacon, fry it up in the pan. And never let you forget you're a man, cause I'm a woman..."

Of course the message of this commercial was quite clear to my college friends and I. While our moms had to make choices of whether they stayed at home with the kids or had an incredibly successful career, my generation would be able to have it all. Oh yes. This commercial promised us we could have it all, quite effortlessly, mind you. All because countless amazing women had paved the way for us to have it all. So we better go for it baby, because women have fought for our rights. And we better do them proud.

Numerous women of my generation have proved that women can accomplish so much and be so much more than any of our mothers have dared to dream. We can survive, with or without a man. We can live our own dreams without waiting for Mr. Right. We don't need to be married to have children. We don't have to get married right out of college. We're not considered hopeless spinsters if we're still single in our 40's. We don't have to have children if we don't want to.

Women run businesses and run for political office. Women can be plumbers or electricians. Astronauts. Professors. Policewomen. Doctors. Surgeons. Principals. Mechanics. There are so many capable women who are intelligent, brave, courageous--simply amazing. We are survivors. We are women. Hear us roar.

Sure there are sacrifices and lots of angst. But the achievements have been extraordinary. And this is the incredible gift my generation gives to the next generation. The ability to know they are capable of and deserve so much more. We paved the way so the next generation of girls could have it easier. Forget the sacrifice. Forget the struggles. We can do anything. We are women. Hear us roar.

But with this special gift comes a price. Some women are so competitive, they put down other women who don't have the same edge. We have the Mommy Wars and the Best Career Wars. Instead of uniting, mentoring and helping each other, we women are so determined to prove we have the better life, so we end up attacking one another. Obviously this isn't true of every woman, but when it is noticed, it is plain disturbing. Sadly, this all rubs off on our daughters.

As a mother of young girls, I worry about my children's generation, who will soon wonder how they can dare compare or how they can achieve everything without losing a part of themselves. Girls are exhibiting unethical behavior, worried about their smarts and their beauty(podcast), and bullying one another. And this is all before the teenage escapism in weight control, plastic surgery, drugs and alcohol.

I worry about my generation and the expectations we have for our children. Because as we all know, there are parents who will take the expectations a bit too far. There are parents who will want their daughters to be friends only with the popular kids in school. Some parents want their girls to always be on the winning team. And there are the parents who constantly put pressure on their talented child because they want her to be the next superstar.

A number of girls in my town (boys too for that matter) are overscheduled with activities, starting in kindergarten or first grade. They are enrolled in sports teams, music and/or dance lessons and special tutoring classes too. Playdates need to arranged a couple weeks in advance. Some parents even keep their child behind a year in kindergarten for the sole purpose of giving them an edge the next school year over the other children in the class. I find this plain disturbing.

Part of me is worried because I'm not exposing my children to all of these wonderful opportunities. Sure my kids are involved in activities, but I limit them to 2 activities rather than the typical 5-6 commitments, so they can have kid time. I want my kids to be kids for as long as possible, and enjoy life. Another part of me is trying to be understanding because most parents only want the best for their children and to give them what they didn't have a children. I am left to wonder whether all this overscheduling is part of what is causing the tantrums, the talking back, the attitude of some of my childrens' friends. This gives me much sorrow.

I find it interesting how we now expect our girls to be stronger and tougher, while our boys are taught to express their feelings. Isn't it sad our girls are losing their ability to be empathetic and caring? Most girls feel imprisoned by all the expectations and pressure to surpass what women have already accomplished. Is it any wonder they feel the stress and the worry? How do we set them free so they can Be what they want to be?

Am I the only one who feels this way? What can we do to ease the burdens of the next generation of exceptional girls, before we end up destroying the hope of our future?

A Wrung Sponge is hosting the Poetry Friday Roundup.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Spring Garden Beauty and Some Wednesday Wanderings

Nothing like some beautiful artwork by one of my children to totally brighten up my day. This vibrant painting is by my middle child. I just love this precious gift she brought home from school. Now I have to find the perfect frame and a wonderful location to proudly display this special work of art. Hmmm.

Now for some cool places to go to around the blogosphere for some fun and enjoyment. So settle right in and stay awhile:

You absolutely must visit Mother Reader and read her post, Stop Dressing your Six Year Old like a Skank. Just make sure you don't have anything in your mouth.

Mother Reader also writes about her smart short 48 Hour Film and reminds everyone about her 48 Hour Reading Challenge with incredible prizes.

If you haven't done so yet, visit Chicken Spaghetti's Carnival of Children's Literature No. 14: The Fiesta Edition. It's a smorgasbord of tempting reads.

Liz Scanlon's post on Distance Learning just had me amused with some of the screen names.

Jen Robinson is one of the contributors to the new Dystopian Challenge Blog. Go check out her 2 mini reviews.

Zee Says offers up a funny tuba video. Who knew tubas could sound like this?

Forget The Book Thief. Okay, I'm really not serious about this one. The Book Thief is a must read. But you'll love Alkelda the Gleeful's funny account of her Cucumber Thief days.

Kelly shares these interesting sites. Wait until you read these passive-aggressive notes!

Robin Brande's observant post: You're Always On. Dare I say the comments on her posts just crack me up?

Suzanne is hosting the first Adoption Roundup. What a great idea!

7-Imp has a cool interview with David Elzey from the excelsior file. Be still my beating heart. David offered up the bestest quote evah: "Girls with brains." Now it's up to you to discover what question he answered.

Liz Scanlon was kind enough to offer up one of her favorite blogs. And I was left helpless with laughter when I read Jackie Mitchard's post on Fictional Men -- A How To Guide.

And on that note, a Big Happy Birthday! to my dear Husband, who thankfully does not fit into Jackie Mitchard's description of a Fictional Man.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

The Hold of Mesmerizing Books

Last week, I was captive to Stephenie Meyer's mesmerizing YA novels, Twilight and New Moon. Now I've never been much into vampire stories or the goth scene. But after reading Twilight and New Moon, I am ready to shed my suburban threads to become a fiesty goth girl obsessed with mysterious, dark Edward Cullen. I kid you not.

Twilight and New Moon had me in a total fog. I was consumed with my fixation of Edward Cullen and wonderment on why I was so entranced by these books. Perhaps it was the continual references to Shakespeare's tragic Romeo and Juliet and the sober realization that Bella and Edward are the ultimate of star crossed lovers. Forget this balcony scene from the 1968 movie, Romeo and Juliet; if you want tragic, Bella's and Edward's love story is Tragic with a capital T.

And talk about character development. Bella and Edward are simply sublime. Who ever thought I'd be rooting to have Bella turn into a vampire just to be with Edward?

Maybe it's the lack of exciting adventure in my life, that made me want to escape into the edge of the seat adventures that were so crazily believable, I was left wanting to read more. There were no freakish "I'm scared to be in the dark by myself" moments while reading the books. Just intense interest in what was going to happen next.

And perhaps I was lured into a hopeful mindset since Bella and Edward's love story is a passionate clean romance, with no sex or foul words. I love how Stephenie Meyer's created this passionate love story especially for teens, with tantalizing sensuality and lushness, yet with no foul words or sexual behavior except for the exceptional magnetic kisses. Talk about refreshing.

I have read so many wonderful books in my lifetime. Yet, I have only a short list of memorable books that just have me mesmerized, haunting me with its story, days after reading the book. These books are not necessarily quick reads, like The Book Thief by Markus Zusak. But they all contain a certain something that resonates within me, begging me to savor the words and Be In The Story. I am left heady for days, trying to recapture the feeling I had while reading the books, to put that energy into my writing.

And those talented authors who bring into existence a trilogy or series of mesmerizing books, each book a splendid, sumptuous feast for the eyes? I am in awe. Needless to say, I make it a point to reread these special books, time and time again, to study them further and discover what it is that creates that mesmerizing hold over me.

What books have claimed your absolute being?

Monday, May 21, 2007

The 14th Carnival of Children's Literature: The Fiesta Edition

Wahoo! Looking for that special something to tempt your reading buds, liven up your day, and make you want to seek out the fun, rhythmic beat of a sassy salsa or an impromptu calypso? Chicken Spaghetti is hosting the 14th Carnival of Children's Literature: The Fiesta Edition. Well...What are you waiting for? Let your fingers mambo over your keyboard to attend the coolest multicultural fiesta around!

Inspiration Monday: 7 Day or 30 Day Challenge Starts Today!

Great is the power of habit. It teaches us to bear fatigue and to despise wounds and pain.

I never could have done what I have done without the habits of punctuality, order, and diligence, without the determination to concentrate myself on one subject at a time.

We first make our habits, and then our habits make us.

Motivation is what gets you started. Habit is what keeps you going.

We are what we repeatedly do.

Okay everyone, today's the day to create a new habit for success! The 7 Day and 30 Day Challenge starts today. I gave you a week to think about your new daily habit, and hopefully you've had a chance to strategize how you were going to make this happen everyday.

As a reminder, if you're interested in the 30 Day Challenge, I have a fabulous 3 prize combination package:
1. A productive new habit for you
2. Increased motivation to reach your goal
3. A $25 gift card to Barnes and Noble (accepted at stores and on-line).

And if you're not able to commit to the 30 Day Challenge, I've cooked up a 7 Day Challenge with a cool 3 prize package:
1. A quick taste of how this new habit will work for you
2. Motivation to work on the 30 day Challenge
3. a paperback copy of The Success Principles: How to Get from Where You Are to Where You Want to Be by Jack Canfield.

Challenge Rules:
1. Write a quick comment, e-mail me at hipwritermama@comcast.net but comment first so I know who you are when I get your e-mail, or write a post and link here. Tell me what new habit you'd like to work on and which challenge you'll work on. You can work on both challenges, but for prize consideration, Only One Challenge Per Person. Just to give everyone a fair chance.

2. If you're up for the 7 Day Challenge, let me know today, May 21st. Then write back by 11:00 PM EST Sunday, May 27th, and let me know how you did. I'll announce the winner on Monday, May 28th.

3. If you're going the distance for the 30 Day Challenge, check in with me every Monday starting today (via comment, e-mail or post) with a very quick report on your progress. The 5 dates to check in are May 21st (today), May 28th, June 4th, June 11th, with the final check in on the 30th day -- Tuesday, June 19th by 11:00 PM EST. I'll announce the winner on Wednesday, June 20th.

A few people have already commented last week to let me know they were in the challenge. Suzanne, Alkelda, Liz, Shawn -- Are you still up for this? Anyone else want to make an active commitment toward their dreams? Get ready. Get set. Comment below. Good luck! And. GO! Can't wait to hear from you!

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Incantation and A Sunday's List

"I have crossed over to a place where I never thought I'd be.
I am someone I would have never imagined. A secret. A dream.
I am this, body and soul. Burn me. Drown me. Tell me lies. I
will still be who I am." Estrella deMadrigal, Spain

Incantation by Alice Hoffman is told by 16 year old Estrella deMadrigal. Estrella's Jewish family pretends to be Catholic to escape persecution during the Spanish Inquisition. Alice Hoffman's lyrical prose tells a powerful story about religious persecution, jealous betrayal, and courageous hope. It will gnaw at your conscience and haunt you with its beauty. I would definitely recommend this book.

1. Estrella deMadrigal, her mother Abra, and grandmother from Incantation by Alice Hoffman, ages 15 and up: Estrella, her mother and grandmother are strong in their convictions and beliefs. They are intelligent, intuitive, will not back down and protect one another. Read this beautiful story.

2. Essie and her mother from Hold Me Tight by Lorie Ann Grover, ages 9 - 12: Inspired by a true story, Hold Me Tight is an emotional story written in prose. I wanted to protect 12 year old Essie and her family from everything that was happening to them. First, Essie's dad leaves his pregnant wife and two children. Second, Essie's classmate Chris is kidnapped. Third, Mr. Paul, Essie's mom's friend, tries to touch Essie in an inappropriate manner. You cheer for Essie's mom, who believes her daughter rather than Mr. Paul. She throws his sorry butt out the door and gets the authorities involved. How's that for a strong mama? You cheer for Essie, who is a sweet girl who watches out for her brother and mother, worries about classmate Chris, speaks up for herself, finds ways to punish her dad, and has the strength to hold on to what she has.

3. Tru from Tru Confessions by Janet Tashjian, ages 9 and up: Twelve year old Trudy Walker and brother Eddie are twins. Every once in awhile, Trudy, aka Tru, feels guilty because she worries she may have caused Eddie to become developmentally delayed when they were in utero. Tru wants to find a way to find a cure for Eddie and to have her own television show. Tru is a determined girl who loves and appreciates her brother.

4. Bella, Alice from Twilight by Stephenie Meyer, ages 15 and up: First of all, I have to tell you that vampire stories is just not my thing. But...there is always an exception, and this riveting book definitely makes that exception. 17 year old Bella Swan is moving to Forks, Washington to live with her dad. On her first day of school, she meets a few friends and discovers Edward Cullen. Edward saves Bella from danger and their fondness for each other grows. Bella is fiesty, observant, curious, open minded, creative and protective of her family. Alice is Edward's sister and is welcoming to Bella. She watches over Bella and tries to protect her from harm.

5. Bella, Alice from New Moon by Stephenie Meyer, ages 15 and up: This sequel to Twilight will make you hungry to keep reading, just to find out what happens next. Bella and Alice team up in a new adventure and you must read this just to find out what happens.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Grace Lin's Birthday, Book and Boston Blogger Party

Grace Lin sure knows how to throw a party. Arts and crafts, books, a raffle for amazing artwork, cupcakes galore, beautiful fruit trees with pineapple flowers, and a mix of incredibly beautiful kind people. There was one small room where older children could learn how to make colorful tissue paper flowers and the younger children could have fun coloring. A second room was set up to take a look at Grace's books and see Grace's display of gorgeous pictures for the raffle to benefit Robert's Snow. And let me tell you, it's one thing to see the lovely pictures on her blog, it's another to actually see it in person. The pictures on the blog do not do her artwork justice. At all. There was this one picture of a little girl surrounded by brilliant colored flowers that just called my name. Absolutely, absolutely stunning.

Then in the main room, people gathered to meet Grace and get their books signed. I recognized Grace, Eisha, and Elaine from their pictures on their blogs. Grace looked so lovely and confident; and she was quite the gracious hostess. Grace even came over to give my girls goodie bags, which we later found out included a chocolate rat, an ARC of Year of the Rat, and a pink origami swan. And I was standing right there. But I couldn't even introduce myself.

Then I saw cool Eisha talking to other people...so I couldn't just cut in. Right? And Elaine, there she was looking ever so elegant and kind, and yet, I couldn't even say a quick hello to her. Isn't that sad? It was totally my responsibility to introduce myself to these incredible folk, since I had the advantage of knowing what they looked like from the pictures on their blogs. Instead, I froze.

But middle child came to my rescue. She started to cough a little bit and wanted to walk around for a bit. Then right in between the crafts room and book room, middle child bends over and throws up. Oh yes. And not just once. Twice. This viscous, mucousy junky mess.

I have to assure you Grace, especially since you're flying to San Antonio to see Robert tomorrow and don't want to be bringing him any germs, and anyone else there who was totally grossed out, middle child doesn't have any communicable illnesses. It's just middle child's asthma (and all her week long exposure to the pollen then mold from all the damp air) and extra special talent, mine too by the way, of being able to vomit if we cough just a certain way (just to get rid of all the gunk from the lungs). Seriously.

There were two amazing women who were steadfast in helping me out. I don't know who they were, although I have a feeling one of the helpful women was Grace's sister. All I know is they were really quite understanding and gracious when all I wanted to do was sink into the floor. I can't thank you enough.

And Grace, I hope this didn't send people out the door. I don't think it did, because people were walking by all this excitement to enter the party, but in the chance it did, please let me know, and I'll help set up or clean up at your next book signing. Which reminds me, the girls were very disappointed that they couldn't get your autograph. Since we had to leave in a quick hurry. Without saying thank you. But...I managed to say a quick hello to Eisha. Since I realized I better say hello to someone since we were rushing out. Eisha is just the sweetest!

So I think we managed to make Grace's Birthday, Book and Boston Blogger Party quite memorable. And for the first 20 minutes we were at Grace's party, we had a delightful time. The girls were absolutely wide eyed with all the happenings. I'm sure they'll have fun things to report on Monday to their classmates. They were so disappointed we had to leave. Especially middle child. She felt sooo bad. But the good thing is that she felt so much better after all that mucous was expelled from her system.

Hopefully we won't be shunned from interesting parties in the future. Now if you'll just excuse me, I'll just go hang my head in shame.

Edited to add: If you'd like more juicy party details and fun pictures, go visit Elaine's blog.

A Birthday Tribute and Robert's Snow

My girls are so beside themselves. We were invited to Grace Lin's Birthday, Book & Boston Blogger Party. And, the big day is finally here...early this afternoon!

Grace's new book Lissy's Friends and doll were released yesterday on her birthday. Grace plans on some fun craft activities for the children who attend. There will be homemade cupcakes, chocolate rats (in honor of her upcoming book, Year of the Rat), and blue chocolate roses in honor of her pals at the Blue Rose Girls. She will also have a raffle for her sweet original piece of art (see picture) -- to benefit Robert's Snow. If anyone is interested in the raffle, let me know before 12:00 noon today!

I can't wait to meet Grace Lin. I discovered her, quite by accident. This past winter, while I was in search of a fun craft project for the girls, I found a copy of Robert's Snowflakes at the library. I was quite impressed that 100% of the royalties would go to the Dana Farber Cancer Institute in Boston, MA and I was touched by the story behind Robert's Snow and Robert's Snowflakes. I thought about my incredible sister and then wrote this inspired post.

Of course, I then checked out Grace's blog, and fell in love with her sweetness, vulnerability, incredible artistic talent and industry, and big smile. I can't even tell you how she reminds me of my sister, just via her beautiful words and artwork.

Suffice it to say, I am on edge to find out how she is doing today, this special day of her Birthday, Book & Boston Blogger Party. Because she and her husband Robert found out yesterday, that Robert needed to get on a plane pronto to start his new clinical trial treatments on Monday. So Robert should be in San Antonio now, and Grace is here and won't fly out to San Antonio until tomorrow.

Grace will have a donation tin at her party for anyone who would like to donate to Robert's Snow/Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. If you'd like to donate in honor of a family member or friend, you can do so via The Jimmy Fund at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. And of course, any thoughts and prayers are always welcome.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Poetry Friday: Immortal Love with Shakespeare

Aaahhh. Love. First love. Sweet love. Intense love. I finished reading YA novels, Twilight and New Moon by Stephenie Meyer a couple days ago, and am still thinking about that darn Edward Cullen and fiesty Bella Swan. Oh my dear. These teenage girls are never going to give a normal boy a chance anymore...not if there's a chance of an Edward Cullen in the horizon. I'm still thinking about him.

If anyone out there knows how I can get my hands on an advance copy of Eclipse, please tell me. I'm in a total fog and desperate to know what happens next.

So in honor of Bella and Edward, a lovely sonnet about immortal love by the incredible William Shakespeare.

Sonnet XVIII: Shall I Compare Thee to a Summer’s Day?
by William Shakespeare

Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?
Thou art more lovely and more temperate:
Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May,
And summer’s lease hath all too short a date;
Sometime too hot the eye of heaven shines,
And often is his gold complexion dimmed;
And every fair from fair sometime declines,
By chance or nature’s changing course untrimmed.
But thy eternal summer shall not fade,
Nor lose possession of that fair thou ow’st;
Nor shall death brag thou wander’st in his shade,
When in eternal lines to time thou grow’st:
So long as men can breathe or eyes can see,
So long lives this, and this gives life to thee.

Today's Poetry Friday Roundup is over at Big A little a. Stop by, leave your Poetry Friday link and check out all the other poem submissions!

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

100th Post: Thinking Bloggers

I really enjoy Robin Brande's blog. She has such engaging discussions going on over on her blog, such as her weekly Friday List, this post and this post. Robin's first YA novel, Evolution, Me & Other Freaks of Nature is coming out in August. I just found out Random House just launched Robin's new book website, Biblegrrrl.com. You can join discussions and earn points for wonderful prizes -- even an advanced copy of her book -- which you'll want to win based on the first two chapters of her book.

So can you see why I am so honored that Robin tagged my blog as a Thinking Blog? How cool is it that Robin likes my blog? Of course I can't resist celebrating my 100th post with this wonderful, unexpected pat on the back.

Now I'm supposed to nominate four blogs that make me think. Only four. I really enjoy so many different blogs, that it's hard to think of only four. But, I believe, most of my favorite bloggers have already gotten this lovely distinction. So, I'll mention just four wonderful thinking bloggers I've visited this week that have made me think -- forgive me if you've already been tagged:

1. Liz In Ink: Author Liz Scanlon has such a lovely, distinctive voice. Her poetic prose, vivid metaphors and thoughtful posts such as this, this, and this -- just make me go back for more. Liz is one of the first bloggers I became friendly with when I started blogging and I am ever so glad.

2. Nancy from Journey Woman: I really enjoy Nancy's Monday posts called Lives in Letters. It is just so interesting to read Nancy's musings on the postcards she collects. Nothing like opening the door into someone's life and trying to imagine what it must have been like.

3. Justine Larabalestier: This Australian author of the Magic or Madness Trilogy series is just unbelievably cool. She is generous about sharing writing tips such as how to write a novel. She even has a Top 10 list for why banning books is a bad idea.

4. Roots in Myth: I like reading science fiction/fantasy writer PJ Hoover's new blog. I think writers who focus on science fiction/fantasy are just incredibly creative. I mean how else are you going to come up with fantastical worlds and character names? How about this way? Roots in Myth is a relatively new blog, and I hope there will be more easy to follow positive, encouraging writing tips for the science fiction/fantasy genre.

What blogs do you enjoy that make you think?

Oh Magic Ball, What's In My Future?

This morning, my 3 and 6 year old amused themselves by taking things out of the front hall closet. My next Project CON experiment. They were giggling as they tried on my shoes, clicking and clunking back and forth, modeling each carefully selected heel. Then suddenly....silence. Just for a minute.
Then. Boom!! Rooollll. Clunkety, thump. What in the world? I quickly ran into the hallway and see my creative girls in high heels, bowling with my Magic 8-Ball. Bowling.

An old mentor of mine, from my days in the HR strategic consulting world, gifted me this Magic 8-Ball to give me a lighthearted release from the multitude of stressful business decisions that swooped in daily. And of course, when not thinking about work, it was always interesting to find out the answer to -- Will I ever find Mr. Right? This Magic 8-Ball was so much better than pulling out flower petals and chanting "He loves me, He loves me not."

Needless to say, I put a quick stop to the bowling and showed the girls what the Magic 8-Ball was all about. They were delighted and asked all sorts of fun questions.

Some questions they asked:
6 year old: "Will I be a cheerleader?" (Aaargh!)
Answer: "You may rely on it."

3 year old: "Can my friend come over to play?"
Answer: "Most likely."

6 year old: "Will 8 year old win a prize in the talent show?"
Answer: "Better not tell you now." (Uh-oh...I can see 6 year old telling 8 year old this in the near future)

3 year old: "Can we have a dog?"
Answer: "Most likely."

Enthusiastic 6 year old: "Will we get a dog soon?'
Answer: "Reply hazy, try again."

Impatient 6 year old: "Will we get a dog soon?"
Answer: "Outlook good."

So of course, I then had to calm down these joyous little girls and have a careful conversation about how this was just a fun game and how this doesn't really tell what will happen in the future.

But then, 6 year old had to ask this question: "Will I look like my mom when I grow up?"
Answer: "It is decidely so."

6 year old flashed a big grin at me, did a happy dance, then ran over to give me a big hug. Well...maybe this one will come true. A priceless, priceless moment.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Inspiration Monday: Create New Habits for Success: 30 Day Challenge

Hey, did I get your attention? A 30 Day Challenge? Is this for real? Only if you want to go the distance with me. The fabulous 3 prize combination package -- 1. A productive new habit for you; 2. Increased motivation to reach your goal; and 3. A $25 gift card to Barnes and Noble (accepted at stores and on-line). Tempting, isn't it?

I've heard somewhere that if you want to develop a new habit, you need to consistently work on it everyday for 21 days. This new habit then becomes automatic by day 30. Pretty interesting stuff. But...how does it relate to Inspiration Monday?

Well my gifted wonders, with every productive new habit, you'll find more motivation and determination to work toward your dream. And that is what I'd like this Challenge to show you. Your ability to work towards your goal no matter what. No matter if you've got 100 things to do for the day. No matter if you're down in the dumps. No matter if someone tells you your dream isn't attainable. No matter if you're in a creative funk. No matter if you just don't feel like it. No matter what.

By now, most of you are probably using your Mission Statements as a guideline to reach your dreams. And you're probably finding out by now, that even with the best of intentions and incredible dreams, it's sometimes hard to keep the momentum going. It's easy to let a day or two slide by. It's easy to say that you need to pay attention to life around you and take a break. It's easy to forget the thrill of the intensity of your dreams and goals.

All because you've got these big dreams. And big dreams take big actions. Big sacrifices. Big commitment. Nothing like getting a little bit overwhelmed by all the big things you've got to do to succeed. And we haven't even touched on the fear of failure yet.

Creating a productive new habit won't necessarily take away your fears and worries. But, if carefully implemented and worked on everyday, a productive habit will eventually give you the comfort of a welcome security blanket called Routine. Just a little thing you need to do everyday. Just like waking up every morning and getting out of bed. Brushing your teeth. Enjoying your first cup of coffee or tea. Reading a newspaper. Checking your e-mail. It's a small step that's automatic, easy to do, for just a short time. Everyday. And this new habit will give you the strength and the ability to do things no matter what. It's these small steps that will get you determined and motivated to get to the big steps. Which will get you closer to your goal.

So what do you think? Are you ready to meet this new challenge? Hmm. Do I sense some hesitation? Okay, if commitment makes you a bit woozy, why not work on an abbreviated 7 Day Challenge, just to get your motivation up and running. The motivating prize package -- 1. A quick taste of how this new habit will work for you; 2. Motivation to work on the 30 day Challenge; and 3. a paperback copy of The Success Principles: How to Get from Where You Are to Where You Want to Be by Jack Canfield.

So do you have the picture? Two challenges, two different prize packages. So, come along and read the rules:

Challenge Rules:
1. Write a quick comment, e-mail me at hipwritermama@comcast.net but comment first so I know who you are when I get your e-mail, or write a post and link here. Tell me what new habit you'd like to work on and which challenge you'll work on. You can work on both challenges, but for prize consideration, Only One Challenge Per Person. Just to give everyone a fair chance.

2. Both challenges will start next Monday, May 21st. So start thinking and planning what you're going to do, and how you're going to make it happen.

3. If you're up for the 7 Day Challenge, let me know Monday, May 21st. Then write back by 11:00 PM EST Sunday, May 27th, and let me know how you did. I'll announce the winner on Monday, May 28th.

4. If you're going the distance for the 30 Day Challenge, check in with me every Monday (via comment, e-mail or post) with a very quick report on your progress. The 5 dates to check in are May 21st (first day), May 28th, June 4th, June 11th, with the final check in on the 30th day -- Tuesday, June 19th by 11:00 PM EST. I'll announce the winner on Wednesday, June 20th.

And for those of you who are wondering why I've worked the 30 day challenge around these random dates, instead of starting the first of the month, I thought it would be easier for me if the challenge was spread out in two months. So even though I'm working on my new habit for 30 days, visually I'll notice 2 different months on my calendar. Then I'll get psyched because my mind is thinking 2 months...wahoo!...I can do this. So there.

By the way, my new habit I'm working on for 30 days is giving myself 30 minutes of walking time everyday with recorder in hand to think about my plot and character development. Nothing like a little multi-tasking. Some exercise and creative brainstorming in one fell swoop. What's not to love?

So okay everyone? The challenge starts next week. Start planning!

Saturday, May 12, 2007

In Celebration of Mother's Day

In celebration of Mother's Day, I'm taking care of myself this weekend. I decided to take a break from posting the rest of this weekend. My Weekly Strong Girls list will be back next Sunday. I'll be back Monday with my Inspiration Monday post.

Isn't this picture just lovely? This is 8 year old's view of me! I love how she makes me look fashionable, tall and thin! I've always wanted to be tall!

If you'd like to read some wonderful Mother's Day poetry, go to the Poetry Friday Roundup -- the Mother's Day poems are featured first!

For all the mothers out there, soon to be mothers, and especially my own mother -- With your unwavering strength, your unconditional support, your selfless acts of love, and invincible hope, you make the impossible happen. Take the time to cherish and honor yourself. Be happy. Live well. You'll be a better mother for it. The best part is this -- your family will appreciate you all the more. Happy Mother's Day!

Friday, May 11, 2007

Poetry Friday: Writing Tip, Paradise Lost and The Golden Compass

It's been fun hosting the Poetry Friday Roundup -- I discovered some new blogs, which is always very cool. So thanks everyone for some great reading! I figure I'd better get going on my Poetry Friday submission now.

I thought I'd share an interesting writing tip. But first, you'll need to know some of my reading quirks: When I pick up a book, I always check out the jacket flap, author's bio if any, and the copyright date. Don't know why, I just always have. If there's a table of contents and a book introduction, I always have to inspect them. I'm not one of those people who delve right into the first page of the book immediately; I like to study the book first.

Let me just tell you, I love books that are introduced by an epigraph -- a thought provoking quote, a verse from the Bible, or an intense passage from a poem. It doesn't matter whether it's light-hearted or totally dark and dreary. These carefully selected words provide me with an idea of what I'm going to find within the pages of the book. Sure, you've got a book description from the jacket flap. But sometimes those descriptions...well, they just don't do the book justice.

Perhaps you'll find this odd, or perhaps it just the writer in me, but I like to research these special introductions to the book, especially if I'm not familiar with it, so I can understand what will be the driving force behind the book. And if Chapter One starts delivering this idea, I am in total anticipation of what this book promises to deliver.

Enter The Golden Compass by Phillip Pullman. I have had this book in my house for quite a few weeks. The book cover didn't really do anything for me, so I read other books instead. I mean the cover is cute and all, but it just didn't draw me in. It took everyone raving about this book, not to mention some interesting questions to find my daemon (mine is Lutheus the snow leopard), before I realized I better get my butt in gear and read this book pronto.

So after I conduct my obligatory checks on The Golden Compass and then delve into the epigraph, my brain gears totally shifted. I was so thrilled I had this book in my greedy little hands. Read this brilliant inscription:

Into this wild abyss,
The womb of nature and perhaps her grave,
Of neither sea, nor shore, nor air, nor fire,
But all these in their pregnant causes mixed
Confusedly, and which thus must ever fight,
Unless the almighty maker them ordain
His dark materials to create more worlds,
Into this wild abyss the wary fiend
Stood on the brink of hell and looked a while,
Pondering his voyage...
(lines 910 - 919)

This epigraph just made me gasp with absolute delight. You see, the book cover just made me see 399 pages of cute adventure story where determined child befriends an intelligent polar bear. Yawn....I can totally wait to read this type of book.

But this intense book introduction and my sketchy remembrance of Milton's epic poem, Paradise Lost, is telling me to expect something much, much more thrilling. Let's talk about political intrigue, corruption, drama, struggles, good vs. evil, adventure, sacrifice, and new worlds. Let's talk an understanding of where the epic His Dark Materials Trilogy title comes from. And what this book promises to deliver. One epic to another epic. And I'm thinking, this is a YA book? A YA book? Oh, I'm just gonna love this one.

And when I started Chapter One, I wasn't disappointed. Let me just say that this epigraph was so well chosen as a precursor to this story. Or, it begs me to wonder, did Philip Pullman write The Golden Compass because he was inspired by Milton's Paradise Lost? I was hooked from page 1. This is what I consider perfection at it's finest.

So writers everywhere, here is my humble opinion to those important book introductions. Research carefully what it is you'd like this epigraph to say about your book. Give an interesting hint of what's to come. Make sure it heightens the anticipation. Then deliver the promise, if you can, starting from Chapter One.

To some people, this may seem a minor detail. But my feeling is, if you're going to add an epigraph to your book, then set the stage. And set it well. Reveal those layers. You'll surely get my attention.

Poetry Friday Roundup Here!

Kelly from Big A little a is busy working on the May issue of The Edge of the Forest. She asked for someone to help out with the Poetry Friday Roundup this week...and I volunteered! So leave a comment with your link and I'll add you to the Roundup! I'll be adding submissions to the Roundup throughout the day -- so do not despair! Just leave your link, hang out with me for awhile, and check out everyone's submissions! You'll be so glad you did.

If anyone wants to find out how Poetry Friday works, check out Chicken Spaghetti's most excellent explanation.

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Poetry Friday Roundup

A Sweet Mother's Day Celebration
Elaine Magliaro of Wild Rose Reader honors her mother with a touching post and lovely sonnet: Sonnets are full of love, and this my tome by Christina Rossetti.

For some more poems in celebration of all the mothers and mothers-to-be, Elaine shares some wonderful poem selections over at The Blue Rose Girls.

No Whey Mama loved Soule Mama's beautiful photo collage and poem called, Now That I Am Forever With Child, by Audre Lorde.

Nancy from Journey Woman shares Dinner with My Mother by Hugo Williams. Hmmm. I don't think I've ever had Steak Diane, but I'll have some of that wine...with dinner, that is.

Betsy from Fuse #8 shares a poem written by her mom for one of Betsy's friends, in The Collected Poems of Susan Ramsey.

Wahoo! Liz Scanlon from Liz in Ink just came back from a Mother's Day Makeover and Massage -- courtesy of her daughter in kindergarten class! Here's another sweet Mother's Day poem by Christina Rossetti -- reportedly her first poem ever: To My Mother.

Sylvia Vardell from Poetry for Children is in with a pair of poems for Mother's Day. One poem is written by a child, the other is written by New York Poet Laureate Sharon Olds.

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Cool Arts and Literature
Kelly from Big A little a shares a funny, witty poem today: "Introduction to Poetry" by Billy Collins. This poem describes exactly why I never liked poetry when I was in grade school. What fun! There's quite an interesting discussion over at Kelly's post...go check it out.

Sherry from Semicolon matches a poem -- To the Dead Favourite of Liu Ch’e by Djuna Barnes to a painting by Salvadore Dali, Alegorie de Soie. Sound intriguing? It is.

"Enough already!" implores Eisha from 7-Imp. Look past Sylvia Plath's angst and apparent position as "patron poet of semi-suicidal goth girls," and check out Sylvia Plath's poem, Balloons.

Liz B. from A Chair, A Fireplace and A Tea Cozy is in with a book in verse: Heaven Looks Alot Like The Mall by Wendy Mass. Got to love the title.

Go on over to visit Mrs. K of Readathon for some Ekphrasis Fun. There'll be some Van Gogh and a poem by Anne Sexton, The Starry Night, if you do.

Oh, this is just too fun to ignore. Hey, this rhymes with Dumbledore! Monica of Educating Alice shares a cool contest sponsored by Abebooks. Write a poem about Harry Potter, submit it, and if you're a winner, you'll win a one of a kind bookshelf made up of Harry Potter books!

What does Doctor Who and T.S. Eliot have in common? Creative minds! Michele from Scholar's Blog shares T.S. Eliot's The Hollow Men and how it relates to Doctor Who.

Adrienne from What Adrienne Thinks About That ponders Theodore Roethke's poem, The Waking. And finds a little peace.

Susan from Chicken Spaghetti writes a post about U.S. Poet Laureate (1995 - 1997) Robert Hass's recommendations on building a poetry collection for a young child. It includes a songbook!

This is fun, I'm discovering some new blogs...Adventures in Daily Living has an amusing short post on her frustration with haiku.

Oh, William Wordsworth. I like this guy. And Kelly Fineman fondly remembers how much Wordsworth's Ode: Intimations of Immortality from Recollections of Early Childhood meant to her in high school. You can also see this same post on her blog.

A new blog for me, Jennie from Biblio File has some haiku about her life this past week.

Ooooo, another new blog for me. In celebration of readergirlz divas Lorie Ann Grover's book On Pointe and Dia Calhoun's book The Phoenix Dance, Katie from Pixiepalace dances with glee To Jesse's Dancing Feet by William de Lancey Ellwanger.

Miss Erin highlights one of Grace Lin's poems, Everything Changes. Goodness, Grace Lin writes these incredible heartfelt poems that just make me tear up. Just Beautiful.

Tabatha A. Yeats is in with a couple poems by creative Gregory K. of Gottabook!

Holly from The Mombrarian is teaching Webquests. Her current Webquest project focuses on writing Japanese tankas. Japanese tankas? Japanese tankas.

I'm in with my expectations of good book introductions. Think The Golden Compass by Phillip Pullman and John Milton's Paradise Lost, Book II.

Kimberly from Lectitans is in with a fun silly poem, by Gelett Burgess, The Purple Cow. Blend some vanilla ice cream, milk and grape juice for a fun drink to sip while reading the poem.

How about some Carl Sandburg? I just discovered Inspiring Readers & Writers, a blog dedicated with ideas on how to help children love to read and write. You have to check out this incredible quote by Jack Kerouc. Oh, how I love the cowboys of the world.

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Of Courage, Hope and Inspiration
Welcome Sara Latta! Sara joins us with her first Poetry Friday submission for the survivors of the Greensburg, Kansas tornado -- a poem titled Yes! by the late William Stafford.

If you ever find yourself stalling in the revision process, Bruce from Wordswimmer offers up some encouraging words from poets from Seeing the Blue: Advice and Inspiration for Young Poets, compiled by Paul B. Janeczko (Candlewick Press, 2002). You'll definitely want to read this inspiring post.

NYC Teacher has a short post on how she skipped Poetry Friday in class since they misbehaved last week. And some of the kids missed it! How's that for hope for our future!

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Around the World
Tricia from The Miss Rumphius Effect celebrates her upcoming travels to China with Some Poems by Du Fu, one of the finest of classical Chinese poets.

Cloudscome from A Wrunge Sponge gives a wonderful review of Stories of Africa and America, edited by Jane Kurtz, Greenwillow Books, 2004. She shares a passionate poem, an african american, by Meri Nana-Ama Danquah.

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Respecting Mother Nature
Oh this is cool. A new blog to me. Dawn from By Sun and Candlelight reminds us that storms can be lovely with a Spring Storm by Fyodor Ivanovich Tyutchev.

Little Willow from Bildungsroman left a cool, cryptic message: Tiger Lily. Of course, since the kids are on a major Peter Pan craze right now, I'm automatically thinking Tiger Lily from Peter Pan. Not so! Little Willow contributes a beautiful poem called Tiger Lily by Walter Adolphe Roberts.

Charlotte from Charlotte's Library is in with Cecily Mary Barker's The Flower Fairy Alphabet and writes an original poem, Song of the Crabgrass Fairy. Funny! Seems this Crabgrass Fairy dances around my lawn too.

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Book Meme: What Books Am I Reading?

Elaine Magliaro from Wild Rose Reader just tagged me with a book meme: What books are you reading? Whew! An easy meme of something I really enjoy!

Here's what I'm reading right now:

1. Jonathon Swift's Gulliver retold by Martin Jenkins, illustrated by Chris Riddell, ages 9-12

2. Aladdin and the Enchanted Lamp by Philip Pullman and illustrated by Sophie Williams, ages 6-12

3. Twilight by Stephenie Meyer, YA

4. The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman, YA

This is a great reading week! I'll tag Liz Scanlon from Liz in Ink, PJ Hoover from Roots in Myth, Alkelda the Gleeful from Saints and Spinners, and anyone else who cares to share their books with me!

Need Artist/Artwork Suggestions

I'm looking for a nice picture to place above my fireplace in my livingroom. I already have a beautiful burnished gold frame...I just need another picture to place in it. The old picture has got to go. It reminds my husband too much of the pictures in the nursing home his mother had to stay in.

Here are the requirements:

1. The artwork needs to be about 36"Width x 24"Height.

2. I love color -- vibrant oranges, reds, greens, yellows, blues...

3. I'm not so concerned as to the time period of the artist as I am the visual effect of the artwork.

4. I want a relaxing livingroom. No photos, animal pictures, war pictures, blood pouring out of crevices, skulls, gore or anything else I wouldn't want my children or my mother to question.

5. My living room has muted cream yellow walls, the brick fireplace is against a dark wood panelled wall. Think library. Think relaxing.

Although I'm not sure when I'll ever achieve this look. Right now this room acts as tv room, romper room and dance room. [I just cleaned my livingroom for the express purpose of taking pictures...look closely at my sofa and see a rip on the seat cushion cover. One of the many reasons why I need a new sofa.]

Any suggestions of artists and title of artwork? I've already looked at a gazillion posters on Art.com, and am getting delirious. Have already tried the old standbys--Matisse, Degas, Renoir, Picasso, Monet, Chagall and Van Gogh. I like this and this one, but, there isn't a whole lot of color to them. This room is a bit dark, so I need the splashes of color to liven up this space. There's also this bit of art, but I know my husband will hate it.

So, tell me. What artist do you like?

Monday, May 7, 2007

Inspiration Monday: Get Resourceful

Yesterday was the best day of the week. Plenty of sun, fresh air, and lots of fun to be had. And since I had to drag my kids around on a few errands, I said it would be okay for them to have friends over. Yes, I'm one of those parents. Who love having my children's friends over. All because I like to know who my kids are friends with.

It's important to me that my kids enjoy having their friends over. And obviously, I want their friends to want to come back to play. Sure my kids go to their friends' houses to play. I'm cool with that. But I like having alot of the playtime at my house. Never mind the mess, the chaos, the tears and disagreements, or the laughter and shrieks of joy that inevitably follow. It doesn't matter.

Call me crazy. I like to think I'm being prudent and resourceful. I like knowing who my children's friends are. Because when my kids are teens, I want it to be just natural they can hang at my house, feel comfortable introducing me to their friends and want to share their hopes, dreams and disappointments with me. A mother's gotta dream.

Since it was such a nice day, everybody stayed outside to play. And I took charge of snacks, drinks and entertainment. Three year old and her friends wanted to use this plastic seesaw that I have stored in the garage. Since my garage door isn't working, I told three year old to wait while I helped out some of the kids with an art project, and then I would get the seesaw.

Apparently, it wasn't fast enough. The three 3 year olds huddled together, whispering mutinous ideas. My three year old ran into the house. The other two stayed watch, giggling and looking back at the door. I was a bit preoccupied making sure the six year olds didn't torture the eight year olds too much. Since the other two little ones were outside, I figured my little one ran to use the bathroom. But after awhile, I decided I better make sure everthing was okay. But then...SLAM!! BANG!! Three year old was dragging this four foot long heavy red plastic seesaw and trying to jam it out of the door.

I was amazed. Three year old went into the house, opened the inside garage door, navigated through all the crap in the garage, managed to drag the seesaw off a few boxes, down the hall, pushed open the heavy side door, and was attempting to push this clunky seesaw out the door.

That's what I call sheer determination and resourcefulness. Most of us are determined to get to our goals. But how resourceful are you when one door is somewhat closed? Do you just wait for something to happen, or are you going to do something to make it happen?