Tuesday, April 24, 2012

When A Pet Adopts You...

Last year my daughter was convinced that she wanted a puppy, and her dad was ready and willing to let her have one. But thanks to the foresight of my mother-in-law, we simply borrowed her new puppy for a week. It only took one turn at picking up the dog waste, which was fresh and warm, to change my daughter's mind about puppy ownership. Not particularly being a dog person myself, I secretly rejoiced. It's not that I don't like dogs, I just don't like the dog maintenance that would fall to "ME" no matter how much my husband and daughter proclaimed otherwise.

On the other hand, I have always been a cat person. The death of both of my cats after twenty long years, however, convinced me to take a break from pets of any kind. I enjoyed two years of pet free, odor free, hair free, litter free peace and quiet, that is until recently. That is until, we were adopted by Max. Max, the  year old, black and white, male cat that showed up in our yard one day and refused to leave. He sat at our back door and cried to be let in which of course encouraged my daughter to champion his cause vehemently. "Pleeease, can't we let him in?" she pleaded with the cuteness factor that only a seven year old possesses.

"Daddy would kill Mommy if I let that cat in the house," I said. Because you see, my husband has definitely never, ever, ever, been a cat person! But as I told him about the situation that night when he called from work, he began to melt. His attitude towards cats had not changed, but his daddy would do anything for his baby girl instinct had kicked in. That night on his way home from work he stopped at an all night grocery store to buy cat food in case the cat came back the next day.

Although both my husband and I looked for the cat all day, we did not see hide nor hair of him. Soon it was time for me to go pick my daughter up from school and on the ride home I told her of her father's decision. She was over come with a joy so great that it would not be dampened even when I cautioned that the cat might not come back or that  he may already have had a home. We quickly arrived and climbed out of the car, and who do you suppose ran to greet my daughter? That's right, the cat. Being familiar with the cats that roam the neighborhood, I was relatively sure this cat had been dumped, and so I told my daughter she was allowed to keep him. No sooner had I opened the door a crack and the cat my daughter would later dub Max ran into the house, looked around as if to say so this is my new home, and started purring happily.

Not even one week had gone by when all of us began to feel that Max was family, yes even my formerly anti-cat husband. Thinking about how easily Max had adopted us and we had adopted him made me think of two of my author friends who wrote books based on similar experiences of adopting pets.

The first is Buddy Finds a Home by Rachel Edmiston. This story of how Rachel's family found a very imperfect dog and how he made a perfect addition to their family is a good lesson in how love can cause us to overlook differences. My daughter truly enjoyed this book, especially when she realized it was a true story. I would recommend this book for children 6 to 8.

The second is a cute book called Grady the Gray Cat by Lori Moore. This adorable flip-it-over book offers two stories about Grady the gray cat. Side one tells the story of Grady's adoption, and side two offers the story of Grady's new toy firetruck. Told in rhyme, this book is an excellent choice for a read-aloud to young children. Lori did an excellent job of making me wonder what will happen to Grady next.

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

Monday, April 16, 2012

Christmas in April???

Emily and I were very excited to receive a package in the mail today. After all, it's not every day that we get fun and important mail. What was in our package, you ask? My good friend Lisa Tortorello's new children's book The Moose at the Manger. And to make matters even better, it was an autographed copy!

I first met Lisa last year at the Sandstone Book Expo where we were signing copies of our books. Her book at the time was a fabulous memoir called My Hero, My Ding about the special relationship between her and her grandfather. Lisa turned out to be a funny, warm, and witty person and I feel blessed to have made her acquaintance.

Since that day last summer, I have learned many things about Lisa. She is a teacher from Chicago, she is a talented writer, and she has a penchant for collecting moose. Did I say a penchant? Perhaps obsession is more like it. What ever you call it, that collection is what inspired her to write The Moose at the Manger. So if you like to Christmas shop a little early, I would recommend you check out the advance copies Lisa is offering on her blog. Then you too, can share Muse the Moose's journey as he looses his family, worships at the manger, and finds his family once again.

Even if you don't have children who might enjoy this book, snatch one or two up for all the moose lovers you know. And be sure to take a look at the pictures of Lisa's collection while you are there; you won't believe how many moose she actually has in her until you see them with your very own eyes.

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

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Quilted Pictures - Who Knew!

Over the years I have acquired many hobbies and loves and one of them  happens to be quilting. Now I am by no means an expert quilter; the most ambitious quilt I ever made was a quilt made of  blocks containing different colored leaves. Usually I just make random patchwork quilts or patchworks in the Around The World pattern where you start with a center square and keep adding different fabrics around the first until you reach the edges.

It is also pretty obvious since this is a blog about reading, writing, and life in general that I love books. I especially love children's books. Recently I had the opportunity to read a children's book by Janice Green about the creation of the world. It was truly an excellent book. It would never have occurred to me to combine two loves like quilting and writing.

Janice has done a great job doing just that. Her retelling of the creation story in an entertaining and simple way that children will be sure to understand is delightful. And the beautiful illustrations made from quilt segments add interest to this fine book. I would definitely recommend this book to parents just beginning to teach their children biblical truths.

Although this book is most assuredly in the Christian Children's genre, all you quilting fans might just want to take a look at the splendid illustrations as well. In the back of the book Janice even identifies many of the fabrics used in the quilt segments pictured. So go get your copy of The Creation today.

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

Friday, April 6, 2012

Bedtime Rituals And The Books We Love


As some of you already know, I have a seven year old daughter; and similar to children everywhere, she rarely wants to go to bed at her designated bedtime. When she was very small our bedtime ritual included rocking in her very own bedroom rocking chair until she fell asleep. I would hold her small body across me and it would stretch from one side of the rocker to the other. This of course, at her insistence, was accompanied by my singing. Although a cherished part of our evenings for several years, she eventually grew too large for me to hold with her long legs dangling over the edge. She also grew much too heavy for me to easily carry her and slip her into bed. So alas, we had to come up with a new nighttime ritual.

We graduated to her getting into bed and listening to an instrumental cd in her boombox. We would set it to play continuously and this seemed to help her sleep the night through. Of course before starting the music it was imperative to read a bedtime story. One of her favorites has always been Geraldine's Blanket which I read with a Southern accent that still seems to delight her to this day.

Another favorite for both of us is Snuggle Up Sleepy Ones. There is one part of this beautiful rhyming lullaby that talks of monkeys begging for "five more minutes please". That always make both of us giggle because she constantly tries to get an additional five minutes before bed.

This year, as she entered first grade and was required to read extensively and do homework, she has opted to skip bedtime stories so she can stay up until the very last minute. Weekends are a bit different; however, and she has recently started asking to read a book by flashlight once she has said her prayers and I have turned out the light. The first time she read a relatively short book and fell asleep soon afterwards. The next night she became a little more cunning about extending her reading time and she informed me that she was going to pick a much longer book. She ended up picking out Green Eggs and Ham by Dr. Suess.

And last night, she picked the longest book she owns Beatrix Potter's Nursery Rhyme Book which was a gift from a family friend. As I listened to her over the bedroom monitor, I smiled with joy because she loves reading so much; and I imagine that years from now reading will be a part of her own children's bedtime rituals.

The rituals have changed as she has grown, but one thing remains the same. We always try to make bedtime fun and something to be looked forward to instead of dreaded. But even more important then that, we are making memories that will last a lifetime. What rituals and bedtime fun have become a part of  your children's evenings?

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

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Those "WOW" Moments

Did you ever have one of those moments where you sighed in relief and thought, Wow, I did something right? I had one of those wow moments just the other night. My daughter and I were snuggled up on the couch watching an episode of Survivor that my mom had taped for us. As we watched and relaxed, there was a segment where one gentleman was cooking everyone coconut for breakfast. Out of the blue my daughter turned to me and said, "Mommy, those people are grateful. Even if they have to eat the same thing everyday, they're just happy to have food to eat."

"Yes, that is correct," I replied. And as she looked at me with understanding, I knew that her father and I must be doing something right. For several weeks we have been reiterating the concept of contentment, thankfulness, and being grateful as she struggled with the age old "the world revolves around me" syndrome that all children go through from time to time.

As parents, we often wonder if any of the words that so frequently come out of our mouths, go in the ears of our youngster and manage to stick in her young brain. More often then not it seems as if our wisdom goes in one ear and out the other; so it is a moment of great triumph when she actually shows that she has listened and understood.

Sometimes I have those wow moments with my writing as well. Recently my sister told me that a grandmother she works with, to whom she had given a copy of my book, wanted me to know about her granddaughter's reaction to my characters. She said that they hadn't finished the book yet because her granddaughter had decided she absolutely loved the little pig,  Kimmy Curlytail, and she wouldn't read any other story except the one starring Kimmy. Well, it  seems that I got it right when it came to my pig character, at least as far as that little girl is concerned.

It is these wow moments in life and writing that make me smile and that keep me working to be the best parent and writer I can be. I'm not perfect yet, but I think I'm on the right track! What wow moments have you had recently?

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