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Here he is making a wish at the Trevi Fountain. My wish for him is that his life is all he dreams it will be.

Although Jay’s 6th birthday was on Wednesday, I’m dedicating this week’s Gratitude Sunday post to him, just as I did for my daughter on her birthday.

Jay is quite a character.  He has so much enthusiasm for life and a great sense of humor.  But he has a very sweet and sensitive side too.  Consider this conversation we had over the holidays.

Jay: The heart is the most important organ in your body right?

Me: Right (through a mouthful of food). I was just getting ready to add, “It pumps all the blood through your whole body,” but before I could say it, he said…

Jay: That’s because your heart is where you feel love.

Which of course, made my heart practically explode with love.

Quotes on Gratitude for Sons

“[Sons] are not things to be molded, but are people to be unfolded.” — Jess Lair

“Before you were conceived I wanted you. Before you were born I loved you. Before you were here for an hour I would die for you. This is the miracle of life.” — Maureen Hawkins

“Making the decision to have a child – it’s momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking outside your body.” — Elizabeth Stone

Reasons I am grateful for Jay

  1. He says things that are so funny, but somehow wise at the same time.
  2. He is not shy about expressing himself or talking to people, even when he’s just met them.
  3. I wouldn’t call him “still waters,” given how much he runs around, but he IS a deep thinker.
  4. When we snuggle at bedtime, he still puts his head on the same spot on my shoulder that he did as an infant.
  5. Speaking of snuggles, he is a VERY snuggly boy, which I love.
  6. He loves reading AND math, and especially loves school.
  7. He adores and looks up to his big sister, and although they argue, he lets her know how much he loves and appreciates her.
  8. He reminds me of my father with his “big personality,” as one of his teachers called it.
  9. He loves his family and friends, but he is very independent.  He can entertain himself for long periods of time.
  10. He is very imaginative, especially when it comes to building things with Tinker Toys, Legos and other toys.  His building is his “art.”

What are you grateful for this week?

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This week’s Gratitude Sunday post…

Quotes on Gratitude

“The grateful heart that springs forth in joy is not acquired in a moment; it is the fruit of a thousand choices.” — Nancy Leigh DeMoss

“Every single day do something that makes your heart sing.” — Marcia Wieder

“And forget not that the earth delights to feel your bare feet and the winds long to play with your hair.” – Khalil Gibran

Gratitude List for the week ending January 21

  1. Jay’s teacher said about him, “His face tells thousands of stories that he would never be able to express in words.”
  2. I volunteered for the School Food Project in the kids’ cafeteria this week, as a chef came in to demo cooking stir-fry.  Watching the kids gobble up that food, veggies and all, was a delight.
  3. I FINALLY got my business bank account open.  So much hassle and such a relief to get it done.  So you can all start sending me money now! 🙂
  4. Having movie night with the kids, watching Mr. Popper’s Penguins (and eating pizza and popcorn).
  5. My mom had the kids for a sleepover on Friday, giving me the night “off,” which I used to take a long hot bath and read my book.
  6. I got to spend a whole afternoon skiing with a girlfriend while our kiddos had a lesson.  Amazing how many runs you can get in when you’re not constantly stopping for bathroom breaks, hot chocolate or to warm up little fingers and toes!
  7. I am grateful for the 12 x 12 in 2012 community.  I’m in awe of the response to this challenge and how much the group members are already helping and supporting each other.  It’s an inspiration!  Don’t forget the deadline to sign up is January 29th – one week from today!
  8. I received and accepted a Top Secret opportunity this week that won’t be Top Secret for much longer.  And no, it’s not that I got an agent, but I am SO excited about it!! 🙂
  9. I got to go for a run outside on a rare 60-degree day.  Doesn’t happen much in Boulder in January.
  10. Listening to Em’s classmates all tell her what they appreciate about her during her “birthday circle” at the school.

What are you grateful for this week?

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I couldn’t post this yesterday because the wireless wasn’t working at the Breckenridge rental.  Which is a bummer because I wanted this to post on Em’s actual birthday – the 15th – when she turned 9 years old.  But better late than never.

This week’s Gratitude Sunday post is dedicated to Em.  I am so blessed to have her as a daughter.  To say I could not imagine my life without her is the world’s biggest understatement.

Quotes on Gratitude for Daughters

“A daughter is a miracle that never ceases to be miraculous… full of beauty and forever beautiful… loving and caring and truly amazing.” — Deanna Beisser

“A daughter may outgrow your lap, but she will never outgrow your heart.” — Author Unknown

“A daughter is the happy memories of the past, the joyful moments of the present, and the hope and promise of the future.” — Author Unknown

Reasons I am grateful for Em

  1. She is kind and compassionate.  So much so that when a new girl came into the classroom, the teacher sat her next to Em because she knew Em would take care of her and make her feel welcome.
  2. Likewise, she takes excellent care of her little brother.  Of course they argue, but when push comes to shove she is his fiercest protector and most patient teacher.
  3. She is very artistic – in visual, verbal AND dramatic arts.
  4. She loves reading and writing.
  5. She asks for (and gives) LOTS of hugs, and often tells me, “You’re the best Mom in the whole world.”
  6. Even as she gets older and wants to spend more time with her friends, family always comes first for her.
  7. She is very sensitive and doesn’t have a mean bone in her body.  For this reason, friends have sometimes taken advantage of her.  Instead of accepting this treatment, she’s worked with us and other adults to learn to stand up for herself and express her needs and feelings.  Now she is not only a good friend to others, but understands what makes someone a good friend for her.
  8. She is adventurous with experiences (if a little shy with new people).  She climbs rock walls, rides horses, skis, dances, acts, paints, swims, plays basketball.  She loves art museums and science museums equally.  She’s always willing to try something new.
  9. She loves school and values learning.
  10. When she laughs, the world stands still to listen to so pure and beautiful a sound.

What are you grateful for this week?

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This year, I’m signing up for the anti-resolution revolution.  It is so tempting to start listing all the things one wants to accomplish at the start of a New Year, but in my experience, the process (and thus the result) is flawed.

I believe the reason resolutions often don’t work is because they start from a place of lack, of negativity, of failure.  We think about all the things we weren’t happy with in the previous year and set out to “fix” them in the new one.  Lose weight = I weigh too much.  Save money = I spend too much.  Make more money = I don’t have enough money.  Spend more time with my kids = I’m not doing enough for my kids.  Write more often = I don’t write enough.

If you’ve been reading this blog for any period of time, you know I am all about self-improvement, especially improvement that puts us on a path to self-actualization.  There is absolutely nothing wrong with setting goals, and achieving them is even better.  However, the goals need to be set on a strong foundation.  So I figured, why not start with what I did accomplish this year and set goals from there.  Let’s first celebrate success and then determine how to carry that forward into the New Year, rather than berating ourselves for what did not get done.  Being zen about it, probably everything got done that was supposed to.

Here is my list of what I consider to be my major professional accomplishments this year

  • Completed two picture books.  Both are now on submission.
  • Was accepted into, and completed, the Rocky Mountain SCBWI mentorship program.
  • Drafted a third picture book which is at least halfway to submission-ready
  • Completed PiBoIdMo and ended up with 30+ picture book ideas
  • Sent 20+ queries over the course of the year
  • From those queries, sold one poem and got contracts to write three articles (coming in 2012)
  • Entered a picture book in the MeeGenius Children’s Author Challenge and made it to #16 out of 400+ entries
  • Learned a TON about online marketing and promotion from the contest.
  • Completed four months of group coaching to launch a new project.  I am now about halfway through drafting the business plan for that project (more news on that in 2012)
  • Formed a LLC to support my writing business and other projects I launch
  • Took a two-month course on blogging to build an author platform.  I have now gone from a high of 2000 hits per month on my blog to a high of nearly 6000 per month.
  • Guest posted on several blogs
  • Set up an in-person picture book critique group in Boulder
  • Attended a digital publishing conference and the Rocky Mountain SCBWI regional conference
  • Last, but not least, launched the 12 x 12 in 2012 challenge to write 12 picture books in 12 months.  This is, obviously, one of my major goals for the coming year.

In addition to work accomplishments, three other achievements deserve mention.  One is that I ran a personal best in the Bolder Boulder 10K this year and felt great.  The race also happened to take place right after I turned 40, which felt even better.

Second, I planned, from start to finish, and then took a six-week trip to Italy with my family for the summer.  This trip was the fulfillment of a major dream and life-changing in every possible way.  Although my kids are still young, I think it will turn out to be life-changing for them to have had such an experience.

One of the things the trip to Italy inspired me to do is the third achievement I want to mention.  I wrote a Bucket List.  I saw how rewarding it was to realize even one dream, so I thought I would capture as many more as I could in the hopes of realizing them all.  I am trying not be afraid of dreaming big.  So perhaps a motto for 2012 is Dream Big or Go Home.

For your further contemplation, here are a few other posts with an alternate take on New Year’s Resolutions

Lynnette Burrows doesn’t let Mrs. Darkside win.

Hayley Lavik is not going to change anything next year.

Prudence MacLeod is going to read books by live authors.

Emma Burcart is going to be kind – to herself.

Jennifer Lewis Oliver has never made a New Year’s Resolution.

Myndi Shafer does have a short list of resolutions, which she made in the Nick of Time.

What is your stance on New Year’s Resolutions?  Good thing, bad thing or in-between?

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Daddy’s Little Girl

It’s impossible to believe it’s been almost four years since my father passed away.  I think about him every single day, and I’ve come to accept the fact that I will continue to think about him every day for the rest of my life.  People say, “time heals all wounds.”  No it doesn’t.  Nor do I want it to.  There are some wounds, some losses, that simply cut too deep.  Time closes the open wound and mellows the pain, but what remains is a permanent scar.

Today, he would have been 68 years old.  Still young.  In honor of his birthday, here are the lyrics to Smile, a song we had at his funeral, and one of his favorites.  He loved all the oldies and goodies.  You can listen to the Nat King Cole version here.

Smile though your heart is aching
Smile even though it’s breaking
When there are clouds in the sky, you’ll get by
If you smile through your fear and sorrow
Smile and maybe tomorrow
You’ll see the sun come shining through for you

Light up your face with gladness
Hide every trace of sadness
Although a tear may be ever so near
That’s the time you must keep on trying
Smile, what’s the use of crying?
You’ll find that life is still worthwhile
If you just smile

And Dad, I know that where you are they only pour stiff drinks, nobody double dips, and everyone roots for Michigan.  Please know that I love you and that no matter how old I get, I will always, always be daddy’s little girl.

Happy Birthday

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Hello my dear blog.  How I have neglected you these past few weeks!  My deepest apologies.  You see, between my birthday celebrations and getting ready for our trip to Italy, I’ve barely had time to think, much less write.

My baby graduates from preschool

Quick update: We had a fabulous Memorial Day weekend with family celebrating my birthday and Jay’s preschool graduation, running the Bolder Boulder, eating out, grilling, drinking wine, playing yard games and making lots of merry.  After the weekend, life turned  full throttle toward our travel preparations.  I am not kidding when I say every minute of every day was spent getting ready to close the house down for 7 weeks. But we just spent a wonderful weekend in Michigan celebrating my cousin’s wedding and then came here to Virginia to see Phil’s side of the family and get the kids settled.  I will be at the airport, checked in for my flight to Rome in two hours!  It’s hard to believe it’s finally happening.

Family photo before the wedding

In the midst of this tsunami of excitement and preparation, I haven’t gotten much writing done.  That’s why you haven’t seen many posts about writing.  Hard to write about your writing process if there’s no writing getting done. (whew! try saying that 5 times fast!).  Before the kids arrive, I’ll have time with just Phil and then a week on my own, so I am very much hoping to get the creative juices flowing then.  I am truly hoping to keep up on the blog as best I can — at a minimum to post pictures and provide short updates on our adventure.  The posts are not likely to include much about writing for the next few weeks.  There will, however, be lots about Italy — the food, the people, the views, the art, the culture.  So if you are interested, I invite you to journey along with us virtually.  I will try to visit as many of your blogs as possible, but please forgive me if I get behind.  I doubt if I’ll be spending very much time in front of the computer on this trip, but I promise I’ll re-engage upon my return.

I chose the word “Ciao” for this post because it means both hello and goodbye in Italian.  It is simultaneously a greeting and a farewell, which seems very apt.  So, ciao to you all.  Ci vediamo a presto!!

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A birthday toast

I am so overwhelmed and touched by all of the well-wishes from friends and family near and far for my birthday this past Tuesday.  It really makes me feel like I’ve celebrated with you all.  I had such a great day, and the fun continues this weekend as my stepmother and my brother and his girlfriend arrived today.  We’ll have dinner at a top-notch restaurant, go gallivanting at the Boulder Creek festival, have a big BBQ at our house on Sunday, and cap off the fun with the Bolder Boulder 10k on Monday.  Not too bad, I have to say.

My kids both finished school this week too.  Today Jay “graduated” from preschool in a sweet little ceremony.  Between the two kids, we’ve spent 6 years at that school, so it was very bittersweet saying goodbye.  The teachers and staff have been like family and have loved and taken such wonderful care of our children. These transitions are difficult for us parents as we helplessly watch our children grow up too fast.  BUT, we’re all excited for the next era in Jay’s life – elementary school.

We’re also excited for our summer adventures, and in general, everything just feels great right now.  I haven’t been getting much writing done, but I know that time will return.  For now, I am my life, my family and my friends.  I can’t ask for much more than that.

Have a great Memorial Day weekend to my U.S. friends.  May your barbeques be sunny and your flowers be blooming…

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