Thursday, November 11, 2010

Fifty things most people don't know about me!

1. I have been to the Hawaiian Islands three times.

2. I was the North Central State College Student Scholar of the year in 2003.

3. I like to eat peanut butter and Hershey's chocolate syrup on my vanilla ice cream.

4. I gave birth to my daughter at home with a midwife.

5. I home schooled my best friends children through high school about eight years ago.

6. I don 't like to eat bananas once they get brown spots.

7. Red is my favorite color.

8. I'm fine in planes, boats, submarines, roller coasters, and cars, but helicopters make me want
to vomit!

9. I make a great New York style cheesecake and my no bake chocolate cheesecake is good too.

10. My husband and I honestly did not know we were naming our daughter after the little girl on Clifford.

11. I hate working in retail.

12. I love to visit West Virginia Where my dad was born.

11. I was born in Oakland, California just like my mom.

13. I am a cat person who tolerates dogs.

14. My daughter thinks it's amazing that my eyes are hazel and change color.

15. I don't have religion, I have a relationship with God and his son.

16. I've only ever had one speeding ticket and that was the day I picked up my wedding dress.

17. I can not wear shoes without backs; they just fly off my feet.

18. I love Ford trucks.

19. I still don't own a cellular phone.

20. I love old movies, especially musicals and pretty much anything from the 50's.

21. My music tastes are eclectic: Bluegrass, Jazz, Instrumental, Big Band, Golden Oldies, Steel
Drums, Gospel, 80's, yodeling, Oriental, Spanish, Indian, Classical, but never rap or heavy

22. I used to have a reoccurring dream that included Vincent Price (yes, it was scary).

23. When I was younger, my mother said she was going to buy me humor in a can because she
believed I had no sense of humor.

24. My brother spent every summer at the pool, I spent every summer at the library.

25. I only own one purse and five pairs of shoes.

26. I don't like cereal when it get soggy.

27. I like to refinish antique furniture.

28. Once upon a time I went to many, many auctions.

29. I dream of seeing Alaska some day.

30. Flower Gardening and weeding is my therapy.

31. I love green vegetables like lettuce, greens, broccoli, asparagus, and celery.

32. My mom taught me to sew when I was nine and I made a pair of red fuzzy pj's.

33. I love to put puzzles together.

34. My biggest pet peeve is people who are not on time.

35. I love to read children's mysteries from the 40's and 50's.

36. My mother's descendants left Ohio and ended up in California while we left California and
ended up in Ohio.

37. There are over four hundred movies at my house and I have alphabetized most of them.

38. Cardinals and Yellow House Finches are my favorite backyard birds.

39. I have pierced ears but hardly ever remember to wear my earrings.

40. I love to watch Survivor, CSI, NCIS, The Closer, and the Mentalist.

41. I will kill spiders, but only if I have a shoe handy.

42. I love board games like scrabble, monopoly, sorry, checkers, chess, etc...

43. Once when I was younger I accidentally wore two different shoes to school. (Hey it was dark
when I put them on!)

44. I would love to meet either Bill Cosby, James Garner, or Richard Dean Anderson.

45. Even if I were wealthy, I would still love to bargain shop.

46. I think it would be fun to go up in a hot air balloon.

47. The book I remember best from high school literature is Silas Mariner.

48. Daisies are my favorite flower.

49. It is more important to me for a man to smell really good then to look really good.

50. And last but not least, I think kids who can read can do anything!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Interview With Fern Valley Characters

Today I had the privilege of interviewing two of the children from Fern Valley. They seem to be friendly youngsters with very positive outlooks. I hope you enjoy their comments as much as I did!

Me: "Kimmy, I understand you have six brothers. What is it like to come from such a large family?"

Kimmy Curlytail: "Yeah, I have six brothers. Johhny, Jimmy, Jason, Jared, Justin, and Jaimie. Most of the time having a big family is okay, but once in a while I wish I could trade places with my friend Betsy Woolrich. She's an only child, and I'd kinda like to see how it is to get all the attention."

Me: "Do you think it would be better if you were an only child?"

Kimmy Curlytail: "Probably not. My brothers are usually pretty nice. Sometimes they make things for me or push me on the swings. And one thing for sure, it's never lonely around my house."

Me: "Fern Valley seems to be a very warm and friendly place to live."

Kimmy Curlytail: "It is. It's kind of a small community, so I know almost everybody and I have lots of friends. My friend Betsy lives just down the road in one direction and my friends Roberta and Mildred Cornstalk live just down the road in the other direction. I would hate to live any where else!"

Me: "I want to thank you for taking the time to speak with me today. If you could tell my readers one last thing, what would it be?"

Kimmy Curlytail: "Wow, I don't know. I guess I would tell them to always appreciate their family because not everybody has a family."

Me: "Betsy, thank you for speaking with me today. I was told that you have a birthday coming up, is there anything you are really hoping for?

Betsy Woolrich: "Well, presents are always nice, but what I really wish is that I could see my mom and dad more."

Me: "Why is that?"

Betsy Woolrich: "I live with my Grandpa and Grandma Woolrich and my Uncle John because my parents have to travel a lot for work. I know they do it so they can take good care of me and pay for all the things we need, but I sure miss them when they are gone!"

Me: "What would you tell other children who might not get to see their parents very often?"

Betsy Woolrich: "I'd tell them to enjoy the time they do have together. And if they get sad and start to miss them a lot, to keep busy and remember how much their moms and dads love them no matter where they are."

Well, there you have it folks. The thoughts of two of Fern Valley's delightful children. Signing of for now with wishes for a bright and beautiful day!

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Just Say Thanks!

I live in a quiet neighborhood with wonderful neighbors, but in this day and age they seem to have forgotten how to be kind to others for no reason at all. It seems to my husband and I that any time we try to do something spontaneous for someone they feel obligated in some way. For instance, when we helped to clean the yard of a neighbor who had been toilet papered, immediately afterwards they brought us donuts. These same neighbors have brought us pie when we have given them tomatoes and have given us restaurant gift certificates when we have helped them with yard work.

I was brought up to believe that neighbors help neighbors not because they expect something in return, but because it is the right thing to do. I don't help people for gain, ulterior motives, or any other devious reasons, but apparently today's society believes that random acts of kindness will put you in the bonds of servitude unless repayed promptly.

Another neighbor is always trying to pay my husband if he plows the driveway out in the winter. My husband is out there plowing our driveway and it only takes an additional five or ten minutes to mosey across the street. Is "thank you for your thoughtfulness" not enough payment now a days? Why don't people consider neighbors like an extended family any more? If we did, the world would certainly look like a much different place.

So the next time someone does something nice for you, just smile and say thanks. Surely at some point you too will perform some kind act, if not for that person then for someone else. Signing off for now with wishes for a bright and beautiful day!

Saturday, August 28, 2010

I've become my mother.

Oh yes, it has finally happened. I have become my mother. This too will probably happen to you, and the scary part is you will never even see it coming. I'm sure you all remember being a child and swearing you were never going to make your children eat liver. Or perhaps you promised yourself you would never punish your children in such a ridiculous manner as you were being punished. We've all been in that fairy-tale-land called childhood where everything seems so clear to us and parents seem so unfair and square.

Somewhere around our mid twenties, however; our parents somehow miraculously start getting smarter. I'm not quite sure how this metamorphosis comes about, but slowly our parents are no longer the dimwits we once thought they were. As we tell our own children that they must brush their teeth and no, they can not have cookies for breakfast, our mother's just smile that knowing smile.

As a child who was often sent to her room for punishment, I had the bad habit of stomping up the stairs. My mother's solution to this display of temper was to tell me to come back down and wipe up all those stomps. In my mind, this was a cruel and unusual punishment created by a woman who was out of her mind. That is until I heard myself saying the exact same thing to my five year old daughter as she sullenly headed for her bedroom.

I did my best not to laugh as she incredulously looked at me and said, "Mom, there are no real stomps there." "I know, but you can just wipe up all those pretend stomps, " I replied. And she did of course with about as much enthusiasm as I have when it is time to clean toilets! Maybe my mother was a genius and I just never realized it. Or maybe, just maybe, I have become wise in my advanced years. Maybe I have learned to reason, as only adults can, that there are consequences for all actions good or bad. However this change occurred and no matter how gradually, I have indeed become the image of my mother. Not a duplicate copy mind you, but a pattern of what a good but not always perfect mother should be. I am the encourager of good behavior, the trainer of a young mind, the guiding hand in an uncertain world. It seems a long time in coming, but a big thanks to you mom.

Signing off for now with wishes for a bright and beautiful day!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

My Library Displays

Today I switched out the children's display case at my local library. I took out the beach theme that went along with this year's summer reading program and replaced it with a cooking theme. I started setting up the children's displays last September when I heard the children's librarian was looking for things to display. It was a Barbie theme with dolls and accessories graciously lent to me by my daughter. I divided the two shelves into four sections and set up little Barbie scenes. One area was a driving to the beach scene with a Barbie Jeep and lots of road signs. Barbie let Ken drive of course because she didn't want to hurt his manly feelings. Another area depicted a teenager babysitting Kelly and a friend. The teen was at a table doing homework and the kids sat on a couch watching television. The the other two sections were a mix of Barbie DVDs also borrowed from my darling daughter and variously dressed Barbies. And of course, Barbie books from the libraries shelves were prominently displayed on top of the small, oak case. To me it was a thing of beauty and an outlet for my creative soul. I was told record numbers of Barbie books were checked out that month.

Somehow this one successful display led to an other and another until I realized I am now unofficially in charge of the children's display case. At Thanksgiving time I did a autumn display, at Christmas I did a Winter village resplendent with Lemax buildings, trees, fake snow, and small people. In February I did a Hawaiian display thinking that if people were as tired of the cold and snow as I was they would enjoy such a creation. I did a welcome Spring/Easter theme, A seashell display, Dive into Reading Summer Beach display, and finally today's cooking up Some Fun theme. I find that not only does this creative process bring me great joy, it leaves me hoping that others share in the joy as well. As I place carefully chosen books with each display, I wonder will it encourage children to ask if they can take books home to read. I don't know for sure, but it is my greatest hope that it does. Signing off for now with wishes for a bright and beautiful day!

Friday, July 9, 2010

There Will Always Be Nay Sayers

Recently I had one of those days. You know the kind, the type of day where you just wish you could climb back into bed and start all over. It started with someone critisizing my publishing company and claiming it was a self publisher. Now normally I wouldn't get upset if someone had an opinion different from mine, after all we are all entitled to think what we want; but this woman had the audacity to critisize on the publishers own FB site set up for the encouragement and support of its authors. Her comments seemed to imply that those of us who chose to go with this particular publisher were ignorant and not capable of making sound decisions for ourselves.

From there, the days woes seemed to escalate. A simple misunderstanding between myself and a fellow author about websites caused a person I did not even know to personally attack my site claiming that it was unprofessional and not fit for children. This on top of the previous criticism caused me to have a temporary sense of despair which I commented upon on an support site.

The outpouring of kind words and encouragement from the other authors on that site reminded me of two things. First, there will always be naysayers. People who try and diminish other's self worth, people who are pessemistic, people who don't have anything nice to say, people who think their opinion is the only right opinion, and people who are miserable and want other's to be miserable as well. And second, as Eleanor Roosevelt once said, "No one can make you feel inferior without your consent." I realized fairly quickly that it isn't important what others think or say about my choices. They are my choices good or bad. What is important is that I believe in my choices, do my best to uphold them, and take resposibility for them. As my sister would say, it is up to me to chose joy. And that is exactly what I did. Signing off for now with wishes for a bright and beautiful day.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Never Give Up

We have all heard the phrase "Never Give Up" at some point in our lives. And while this may seem like a simple enough concept to practise, it is much more elusive than one might think. Never giving up requires thought, hard work, determination, and did I mention hard work? Oddly enough, patience (not one of my better virtues) seems to go hand in hand with not giving up.

As a writer, persistence and patience are necessities if you want to get published. Just imagine what would have happened if I had thrown in the towel after my first thirty six rejections. That's right, absolutely nothing. But instead of giving up and giving in, I sent my manuscript to one more publisher who happened to see the same possibilities in my work that I did. The very publisher who I am now in contract with and who has opened the doors of yet unknown possibilities to me.

These are the qualities that my husband and I strive to teach our young daughter as well. And whom I might add practises them infinitely better at the tender age of five then does her mother who is over forty. For example, when she was only three she wanted to be able to snap her fingers more than anything else in the world. So we showed her how and told her that the only way to get good at something was to practise and never give up. It was amusing to watch her try over and over again for months until she finally mastered the art. It was not nearly as amusing when she finally learned how and snapped all day and all night. I know you are laughing now, but that much snapping can get on the nerves of even the most patient of saints which you have already learned I am not!

She applied these same lessons when it came to blowing bubbles with her gum, another of her heart's desires, and when it came to whistling. There were times when she got discouraged and wanted to give up. But we would always remind her don't give up you are almost there. As I watch h er learn and grow and practise the things I teach her, I too am encouraged to continue practising what I preach. I am also encouraged to know that the lessons she learns now will stay with her into adulthood and will serve her well. What more could a parent ask for? Signing of for now with wishes for a bright and beautiful day!

Monday, June 14, 2010

All things in Moderation

This time last year you would have found me completely ignorant when it came to social media. I was a woman still in the dark ages, wondering if Twitter was a vulgar word and if FaceBook was a yearbook online. Blogs were as foreign to me as eating meat is to a vegetarian and links were something rich men wore on the cuffs of their shirts. Bookshelves were those tangible wooden things in my family room and blackberries were what you needed to make a great pie. But I can say with great pleasure that I am quickly learning the ropes.

I now know that YouTube is not a request to float down the river but is instead where you can download videos or watch about a bazillion videos downloaded by others. I now know that I prefer FaceBook to MySpace which seems to be for a much younger crowd. I have my own website, I Blog my random thoughts (which I am still not sure are being read by anyone), I review books online, and I Tweet and Retweet pearls of great wisdom. OK, maybe I made the wisdom part up, but you must admit I do seem to be getting the hang of this social networking phenomenon.

Spending time on the computer, however, can become addictive. I was lured into the Farmville web and found myself spending time feeding animals and harvesting crops into the wee hours. I started checking my e-mails every ten minutes to see if anyone or anything had changed when I stopped to drink a lemonade or clip my nails. I checked my publishers FaceBook site constantly to see if I had missed any nuggets of useful information. It was almost so bad I could have stood up in a group and said, "Hi my name is Aileen and I am an internetaholic."

So much to my surprise, I recently discovered that I was stronger than the the ebb and flow of the social media sea. "How did I make this great discovery," you ask? I went on vacation to wild and wonderful West Virginia the birthplace of my father. My father and mother take my family and my brother's family to West Virginia annually and this year was no exception. The ten of us stayed in a log cabin in the woods equipped with satellite internet connections for my brother's laptop. But the beauty of the mountains, the cavern tours, the cool river waters, and God's creatures all around me kept my interest and soothed my soul. As a matter of fact, the day I returned home was a continuance of the calm. I had overcome the urgent desire to jump immediately back into the fray. Instead I gradually got back into the groove by downloading my vacation pictures. So through this journey that has seen me go from inept to skilled, I have learned one important thing. All things are good in moderation. Signing of for now with wishes for a bright and beautiful day!

Thursday, June 3, 2010

The Reading Room

Often movies are adaptations of books, but rarely are they about books. So the movie, The Reading Room, starring James Earl Jones was a wonderful surprise to me. The Reading Room is the story of a widower (Mr. Jones) who makes a promise to his dying wife that he will open a reading room in one of the downtown buildings he owns. She knew he would need something to fill the void when she was gone, and she believed that by sharing his extensive library and love of reading with others he would do just that.

Mr. Jones does indeed open a reading room; however, not all the neighborhood residents are happy with his presence there. He struggles to attract people to the room, he struggles with crime, and he struggles with those opposed to change even when that change is beneficial. The Reading Room is a movie that shows that although life is often difficult, something as basic as teaching a child to read can strengthen and rebuild an entire community.

I give this movie two thumbs up. Not only are the actors superb, but the message is as well. Reading is a key that opens many doors and offers everyone the opportunity to learn lessons of respect, loyalty, honesty, community, compassion, and most of all perseverance. So if you have yet to see The Reading Room, I suggest you check it out. Signing off for now with wishes for a bright and beautiful day!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Mixed Feelings

My five year old daughter graduates from pre-school tonight. She will be resplendent in her white cap and gown, she will beautifully sing all the songs she has learned, and she will recite with gusto; but I have mixed feelings about the whole situation!

First of all, I want to know where the time went. This school year passed more quickly than water through a sieve. It seems that some silent monster devoured the days like hungry plants devour the rain. "How can this be?" I ask myself. Shouldn't these precious moments last much longer? And of course, I answer myself (but not out loud) with the reminder that nothing lasts forever. So I try and derive as much pleasure out of each day and each moment that I can.

Secondly, comes the knowledge that my daughter is becoming more and more independent, as she reminds me on a daily basis. "Mommy, I can do it myself," seems to be her new by-phrase. Part of me wants her to grow and learn and be independent knowing that I am helping raise someone who will one day be a responsible and productive part of society, but the other part of me wants her to still need my help. Part of me wants her to continue to look to me for the answers. Part of me is proud of every milestone and every new accomplishment, but part of me wishes I could stop time for a while. It's the age old struggle of letting go that every parent before me has gone through and every parent after me will go through.

So if I cry a tear of grief tonight for all the moments that are gone except in my loving memories don't feel too bad for me my friends. For surely before the night is over, another tear will follow. And that tear will be a tear of joy and gratitude that God has seen fit to allow my husband and I the privilege of raising such a beautiful, thoughtful, and bright child as our Emily! Signing of for now with wishes for a bright and beautiful day!

Friday, May 28, 2010

Addicted to Social Media?

Are you addicted to social media? I know from personal experience how easy it is to go down that road. There have been many a day when I opted to surf the net instead of doing the evening dishes. Of course I was usually sorry the next morning as I scoured a batch of dried on cheese and tomatoe paste or pried dried bits of corn off of the plates. There have even been times when I told my daughter to wait five more minutes while I finished planting my crops. But thanks be to God, that I realized I was spending way too much time on the computer before I completely lost my mind. So how do you know if you are addicted to social media? The following list, while not scientifically proven, might help you decide.

Top Ten Indications You Might Be Addicted To Social Media

You know you are addicted to social media if:

1. Your blogs are longer then your daily conversations with your family.

2. You check your e-mails every five minutes.

3. You start having withdrawl symptoms if you have not tweeted or posted in fifteen minutes.

4. You unknowingly tell your childen they can have cookies and soda for dinner.

5. You start saying "LOL" instead of actually laughing at your husbands jokes.

6. Your mother calls and you tell her you can't talk because you have crops to plant.

7. You are late getting dinner on the table because you had to retweet 47 inspirational posts.

8. You correct your children and sound like u r txting .

9. You make your children watch "The Little Red Hen" on Youtube instead of reading it to them

before bed.

10. Your family has to send you an events request in order to spend time with you.

So just remember hugging you kids in person is way better then sending them a hug online! Signing off for now with wishes for a bright and beautiful day!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Kid's Do Indeed say the Darndest Things!

Art Linkletter, well know for many things; but probably most famous for his show "Kids Say The Darndest Things", passed away today. And while Mr. Linkletter is no longer with us, the legacy he left behind will carry on beacause children truely are funny and always will be.

My daughter has had darndest moments since she could speak. The most memorable to me is when she was three and I called her Nosey Rosie. She looked at me with the straightest poker face and said, "Mommy, I'm not nosey."

"Then what do you call it," I asked.

"I just need to know everything," she replied. My husband and I laughed over that one for weeks.

Why is it that kids seem to be funnier than adults? Is it the fact that they say exactly what's on their mind because they don't know any better? Is it the fact that they often mix things up or get them wrong? My daughter still thinks we eat fruit cottontail instead of cocktail. Is it the fact that they often don't understand what they are saying? Perhaps it is a combination of all of the above.

Whatever the reason, I encourage you to enjoy these funny kid moments for all they are worth because it is the small happy memories we make each day that is the glue of life. These are the memories that help us get through life's difficult moments. These are the future stories we will tell our children's children. Signing of for now with wishes for a bright and beautiful day!

Monday, May 24, 2010

Learning to Read With BOB

My husband and I have been working with our daughter since she was two. We worked on the alphabet, number recognition, drawing, writing, and numerous other subjects. Because of this, when she was barely four she told us she wanted to read. Of course this thrilled us to no end, and I immediately set out in search of a beginning reading program.

Having lived a mere five blocks from the library as a child, and having spent almost every waking moment of each summer there; I decided this was the place to start my search. So a hunting I did go. What I found was the BOB books.

BOB books are a series of books designed to gently guide children into the first stages of reading. The first few books use just a few letters to make simple words. These few simple words are then repeated on almost every page so the children become familiar and comfortable with how letters form words. Each new book adds a few new letters and sounds. The set I found at our local library also happened to have audio Cd's which could be listened to while reading.

While it took most of the summer and the first part of pre-school for her to actually get the hang of phonics, once she did, she was reading everything in sight. She now reads shampoo bottles while taking a bath, store fronts when we shop, road signs when we're driving, and books from both the public library and our own collection. The BOB books definitely helped her develop the pre-reading skills she needed to get started.

So if you have a child who is on the verge of reading, I would suggest you check out BOB books at your nearest library or at . Signing off for now with wishes for a bright and beautiful day!

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Classics at Our House

What makes a classic? I have often heard it said that a book is a classic if it stands the test of time. I guess that means if someone from generation A writes a book and people from generation B are still reading it, then it must be a classic. Following this guideline leads me to believe that many of the books my daughter owns might be classics.

No, I don't just think they might be; I will say with certainty that they are! I can make this statement because I read them when I was her age over thirty years ago (said under mumbled breath). I know of course that comment makes me sound very aged (I mean wise), but that is a story for another day.

Some of the books bulging out of my daughters book bins include: Goodnight Moon, The Little Red Hen, All About Corduroy, The Country Mouse and the City Mouse, and The Monster at the End of This Book. Books that when I saw them caused me to squeal in delight, "I had that book when I was a little girl!"

And if you are wondering; yes, I did get some strange looks from others standing nearby. But being the true book lover that I am, I merely shrugged it off knowing that those poor unfortunate souls would never know the joy that I did. So go out and find a classic of your own and enjoy it to the fullest! Signing off for now with wishes for a bright and beautiful day.

Friday, May 21, 2010

My First Blog

Well, friends, this is my first blog so bare with me as I learn how to do this! I am told it's what all the new authors are doing. I guess we will see. I really think writing my book was the easy part. Convincing the rest of the world I am worthy to be read, almost as hard as childbirth!

But, no one will be as passionate about "Fern Valley" as me; so I am trying to find all the creative and imaginative ideas I can to get the word out.

To date, I ordered a custom bumper sticker for my car that has my web address under the words New Children's Author and my photo on the side. My mom and brother both noticed without my saying anything, but they don't really count. Hopefully some non-relatives will notice as my car lingers in parking lots! I have also been passing out book marks at the library, business cards to almost everyone I meet, and I have come up with a list of good review sites.

I will be starting my editing phase in a few weeks, and that is when the real fun begins. Meanwhile, I will just keep plugging away. Signing off for now and wishing everyone a bright and beautiful day!