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The first Gratitude Sunday post of 2012. Happy New Year everyone!  This week I was especially grateful that my family gave me two full days by myself at the Breckenridge rental to organize for the year.  I worked from the moment I got up until I collapsed into bed, only taking breaks to walk the dog and take my nightly soak in the jet tub.  I loved every minute of it, and I feel so ready for 2012!

Quotes on Gratitude

“A new year is unfolding – like a blossom with petals curled tightly concealing the beauty within.” — Unknown

“You’ve done it before and you can do it now. See the positive possibilities. Redirect the substantial energy of your frustration and turn it into positive, effective, unstoppable determination.” — Ralph Marston

“Each moment of the year has its own beauty… a picture which was never seen before and shall never be seen again.” — Ralph Waldo Emerson

Gratitude list for the week ending January 7

  1. Author Katie Davis gave me an amazing New Year’s gift by asking me to come on her Brain Burps About Books kidlit podcast.  I’ll be her first guest of 2012, and the interview goes live this Wednesday (so you’ll be hearing more soon :-))  What an honor and what a way to start the year!!
  2. I set four-year goals, which drove my annual goals (including 2012), which drove my monthly goals for 2012.  First time I’ve ever planned this strategically (and tactically), and it feels great!  Goals, not resolutions.
  3. Michigan won the Sugar Bowl!!  Bonus video of the song that’s been going through my head all week at the end of the post!  Hint: Def Leppard, 1980s…
  4. Laid down my first tracks of the season skiing at Breckenridge
  5. Six inches of snowfall on Saturday night
  6. The aforementioned deep-soaking jet tub at the Breckenridge rental.  It is heaven on earth.
  7. Jay catching snowflakes on his tongue on the chairlift
  8. Watching Rocky’s pure, unadulterated joy at running through fresh snow
  9. Bright pink mountains in the morning at sunrise, and deep red mountains in the evening at sunset.
  10. The astonishing response to the 12 x 12 in 2012 challenge, the support and camaraderie of the group, and the whimsical, phenomenal badge Linda Silvestri made for us.  I’m also grateful for Tara Lazar who kicked us off on Sunday.  I started the 12 x 12 group to inspire other picture book writers, but the participants in the group are inspiring me far more!

What are you grateful for this week?

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Because I appreciate all of my readers so much, I decided to humiliate Elf myself for your entertainment.  Laugh away!

May you all have a happy, healthy and peaceful holiday – whichever one you celebrate.

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At the top of my list for this week’s Gratitude Sunday post is a story that’s too long for a bullet point.  When we were in Italy this summer, on our last night in Camogli, I took the kids to a notebook/paper shop and got them each a little journal.  Last night, when I told Jay it was time for bed he said, “Hang on a minute, I’m writing a book.”  The ‘book’ was his journal, which he had taken to bed with him. “Do you want to read my book?”  Of course I did.

“It’s a book about everything I love,” he said.

Chapter 1:

Mom

Em

Dad

Rocky

Chapter 2:

Family — He then clarified, “That’s the WHOLE family – like all THIRTY of them.”

Chapter 1000:

F A M I L Y !!!!

I told him, honestly, that it was the best book I ever read!

Quotes on Gratitude

“Let your hook always be cast; in the pool where you least expect it, there will be a fish.” — Ovid

“Desire, ask, believe, receive.” — Stella Terrill Mann

“A person however learned and qualified in his life’s work in whom gratitude is absent, is devoid of that beauty of character which makes personality fragrant.” — Hazrat Inayat Khan

Gratitude List for the week ending December 3

  1. I am so grateful for EVERYONE who has voted so far for my entry in the MeeGenius Children’s Author contest.  Your support means so much to me, regardless of the outcome.
  2. Finishing PiBoIdMo as a Winner – woo hoo!  Wrap-up post coming soon!
  3. The incredible response to the launch of the 12 x 12 in 2012 Picture Book Writing Challenge. As of this writing, we’re up to 82 participants!!
  4. My homemade lasagna, even though the kids didn’t like it
  5. The gorgeous field I get to walk Rocky in each day.  It’s beautiful in every season (see video above).
  6. Em had her second audition for a new play and thinks she did very well.
  7. Speaking with a long-distance friend on the phone
  8. Despite the hassle it brings, I’m grateful for the snow.  We want a White Christmas AND a great ski season!!
  9. I am trying to be grateful for the fact that I can’t read this week.  I am assuming that I will learn a great deal and the experience will be worthwhile.  I also appreciate the words of support and sympathy from friends. 🙂
  10. Flannel sheets

What are you grateful for this week?

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I know the day after Thanksgiving is supposed to be all about shopping and the crush of the Christmas season.  Not for me.  I boycott all shopping this weekend because I resent how it takes the emphasis off one of the only remaining holidays that does not have “stuff” as its focus.  Luckily, Susanna Leonard Hill started a feature called Perfect Picture Book Friday where we can share picture books we like and why.  Reading is a delightful alternative to shopping.  I chose this book because as we move into the winter season, it’s only natural to think about snowmen.  This is a favorite at our house.
written by Caralyn Buehner, illustrated by Mark Buehner
Dial, September 2002, Fiction
Suitable for:  Preschool – Grade 2 (ages 4-8)
Themes/Topics:  Using your wildest imagination to explain an everyday observation.
Opening and brief synopsis“One wintry day I made a snowman, very round and tall. The next day when I saw him, He was not the same at all!” When a boy observes that the snowman he built the day before now looks droopy and disheveled, he imagines what happened to his snow creation during the night. Soon the boy pictures all the neighborhood snowmen gathered in the park for “ice-cold cocoa,” a snowball fight, a round of making snow angels and more. Surely a full night of play and a long glide back to their homes must be the explanation.
Activities:  The most obvious one is to build a snowman and watch it change over a day or two.  Write your own story about what your snowman is doing at night!
Why I Like This Book:  The verse in this book matches the playfulness and humor and the illustrations are gorgeous and heartwarming.  By the end of the book you feel like you’ve been playing right along with the snowmen.  I also love the question the boy asks: What DO snowmen do at night?  There’s no big message here – just pure fun!

For more books with resources please visit Perfect Picture Books!

Do you have any favorite snowmen books?

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Time for this week’s Gratitude Sunday post.

Quotes on Gratitude

“The point is not to pay back kindness but to pass it on.” — Julia Alvarez

“Gratitude bestows reverence, allowing us to encounter everyday epiphanies, those transcendent moments of awe that change forever how we experience life and the world.” — John Milton

“I have had friends who have acted kindly towards me, and it has been my good fortune to have it in my power to give them substantial proofs of my gratitude.” — Giacomo Casanova

Gratitude List for the week ending November 5

  1. Phil helped me create a complex (at least to me) spreadsheet for a business plan.
  2. Watching Rocky romp around in the virgin snow in the field near our house.  I doubt there is a creature on earth who loves the snow as much as he does.
  3. Likewise, watching two dogs at the dog park play tug of war with a rope.  It is hard not to smile while watching dogs play.
  4. A Happy Halloween with perfect weather.  It was the warmest Halloween evening since we moved to Colorado.  No coats and long underwear underneath the costumes this year!
  5. The blogging/writing community – friends from PiBoIdMo, Writer’s Platform-Building Campaign, WANA 1011, Creative Leap Club, my critique group partners, etc.
  6. The kids enjoyed their first week of basketball season.
  7. I was the “Mystery Reader” in Em’s class on Friday. How I love reading to a group of eager kids. Can’t wait to do that with one of my own books one day.  I read, Blackie, The Horse Who Stood Still – one of our favorites.  None of the other kids had ever heard the (true!) story before, so that made it even more fun.
  8. Reading in front of the first fire of the season.
  9. Flannel pajamas
  10. Getting a few more queries sent out.

What are you grateful for this week?

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Another week, another Gratitude Sunday…

Quotes on Gratitude

“Don’t waste yourself in rejection, nor bark against the bad, but chant the beauty of the good.” — Ralph Waldo Emerson

“People are about as happy as they make up their minds to be.” — Abraham Lincoln

“I am beginning to learn that it is the sweet, simple things of life which are the real ones after all.” — Laura Ingalls Wilder

Gratitude List for the week ending March 26

  1. Making it to the semi-finals of Brenda Drake’s Show Me the Voice Blogfest.  Here is a picture of my celebratory cork. 
  2. Enjoying Spring Break skiing – last week of the season for us.
  3. Warm, sunny days on the slopes
  4. The time to READ!
  5. Taking the kids to see the movie Rango.
  6. Kids, dog and father reunited after he was gone for a four-day business trip
  7. Family game night
  8. Stella, the Golden Retriever puppy we met at the vet’s office here in Keystone (don’t ask!)
  9. The smell of the earth under melting snow
  10. Homemade Chex Mix 🙂

What are you grateful for this week?

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Saying I have a lot to be grateful for this week is quite the understatement.  This week’s installment:

Quotes on Gratitude

Even after all this time,
The sun never says to the earth,
“You owe me.”
Look what happens with
A love like that.
It lights the whole sky.

— Hafiz

“To speak gratitude is courteous and pleasant, to enact gratitude is generous and noble, but to live gratitude is to touch Heaven.” — Johannes A. Gaertner

“Appreciation can make a day, even change a life. Your willingness to put it into words is all that is necessary.” — Margaret Cousins

Gratitude list for the week ending February 26

  1. Getting the trip to Italy finalized!  Now it’s just the wait that will be difficult.

    Venice - one of the places we will visit on our trip...

  2. Phil is fully recovered from the flu that took him down for about 10 days
  3. My dog curled up next to me on the couch while I’m writing
  4. Skiing with great friends from Virginia at Breckenridge
  5. Spending quality time with same friends over drinks, dinner, and a drive to the airport the next morning
  6. Feeling both confident and exhilarated while skiing (first time since before the kids were born)
  7. Phenomenal cheeseburger at Motherloaded restaurant in Breckenridge.
  8. Having a delicious late dinner with Phil while Mom had the kids overnight
  9. The TravelTracker iPad app
  10. Jay falling asleep in his own bed and staying there all night – all week – major achievement!

What are you grateful for this week?

 

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Gratitude Sunday has been on hiatus for a while, thanks to a deadly January.  I knew I was missing it, but I didn’t realize how much until I sat down to write it this morning.  So I’m grateful to have Gratitude Sunday back!  Our past few weekends have been defined by skiing and frolicking up at Keystone.  Talk about lucky!  In my youth, growing up in Michigan, I skied every weekend.  After living in the D.C. area for so long and then having babies and toddlers in tow, I wondered if that lifestyle would ever be a reality again.  With the kids 8 and 5 and loving skiing, it now seems like it might finally work as a regular weekend family activity.  Yay!

Quotes on Gratitude

“A person however learned and qualified in his life’s work in whom gratitude is absent, is devoid of that beauty of character which makes personality fragrant.” — Hazrat Inayat Khan

“Learn everything you can, anytime you can, from anyone you can – there will always come a time when you will be grateful you did.” — Sarah Caldwell

“Gratitude… goes beyond the “mine” and “thine” and claims the truth that all of life is a pure gift.  In the past I always thought of gratitude as a spontaneous response to the awareness of gifts received, but now I realize that gratitude can also be lived as a discipline.  The discipline of gratitude is the explicit effort to acknowledge that all I am and have is given to me as a gift of love, a gift to be celebrated with joy.” — Henri J. M. Nouwen

Gratitude list for the week ending February 5

  1. Another fabulous weekend at Keystone, complete with 2 feet of fresh powder for skiing!
  2. The friends who are sharing their Keystone condo with us for the season.  It has been such a blessing to share skiing and winter adventures with the kids.
  3. Riding a real chairlift and skiing down actual mountain slopes as a whole family (5 year-old finally off the bunny hill).
  4. Watching Rocky run in the snowy field outside the condo.  Such unadulterated joy you have never seen in a dog!
  5. My SCBWI mentor, Linda Arms White, who in offering some final feedback on one of my WIPs, has enabled me to declare it FINISHED.  I begin the query/submission process this week.
  6. A full day of uninterrupted writing at Keystone, which led to the finishing of said WIP.
  7. Frito Pie for dinner after a long, cold day of skiing.
  8. My Padraig Cottage slippers. How cold my feet would be without them
  9. My kids playing endless Kung Fu pretend games after watching Kung Fu Panda
  10. Fresh oranges and grapefruit, sent directly to us from Florida. Nothing like grapefruit juice dripping down your chin in the morning.

Me at the Terrain Park - Just kidding!

What are you grateful for this week?

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Note to self: Perhaps next year hanging a Johnny Depp calendar will help keep spirits up. 🙂

Don’t let the door smack you in the a$$ on the way out.

So, January is not my best month.  Never has been.  Some of my darkest days have been January days.  I’m not entirely sure what comes over me, but it’s been compounded by the fact that both of my kids have their birthdays are in January.  I wrote about this last year too.  I love my kids with the intensity of a thousand suns.  I want to love celebrating their birthdays.  But the truth is, I am always in survival mode.  I do what I need to do to get through the festivities with a plastic smile on my face before collapsing into a stupor of relief afterwards.

Another part of the problem is that the world takes off in earnest in January.  My Google reader filled to bursting with posts about resolutions, goals and plans for the new year.  People seem to head back to their work, their lives with new gusto while I struggle to get out of bed in the morning.  My January doldrums were not improved this year by a head injury I’d sustained in late December, or by the family of mice that took up residence in our kitchen cabinets and took a week to do away with.  We also went to New York and spent two weekends skiing in Keystone, which added a huge element of fun and excitement to the month, but also served to push me further and further behind in my attempts to get back into the saddle of life (pun intended).

Supposedly, Albert Einstein once said, “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”  After years of enduring bad Januarys, I finally had an epiphany: January won’t change, but I can.  In this spirit, I have created my own 5 commandments of January as follows:

  1. Treat January as an extension of the holidays. With two kids celebrating birthdays in January, this is really true.  Parties, presents, planning.  I cannot expect to re-enter the normal flow of life with two seminal events to celebrate in the same month.
  2. Do not take on any new or extra commitments. Because everybody else seems revved up with new goals and new energy, opportunities for new challenges and experiences abound.  Many of them are extremely worthwhile and hugely tempting.  The lovely Kat Apel, for example, hosted the Month of Poetry in January.  I participated for five days and then fell off the face of the earth.  Then I felt terrible, both for reneging on a commitment and for failing to support a friend.  From now on, no matter how tempting, I just need to say no to putting more on myself this month, even if it’s something fun.
  3. The New Year begins February 1st. No more New Year’s resolutions/goals for January (see #1).  The real new year will begin for me on February 1.
  4. Focus on family. It’s not my kids’ fault that they were both born in January, with birthdays ten days apart.  Even though the birthdays come right after Christmas, they are still a huge deal to them – rightly so.  My fatigue, seasonal depression, eagerness to get back into a routine, does not change the fact that they need and deserve to be celebrated this month.  I’ve always managed to pull off their parties and festivities, but this year I made a couple of decisions in the name of expediency/making it easier for myself that ended up disappointing my daughter, even though she put on a brave face.  This leads to my last commandment, which speaks to making sure I have the energy reserves to support these four, which is:
  5. Be kind to myself. I need to give myself permission to keep things at a slower pace.  Read books, take naps and hot baths.  Cook nourishing food.  Drink tea.  Meditate.  Exercise.  Write.  If I nourish myself, hopefully I will be able to provide birthday celebrations for my kids that I enjoy too.

Do you have months that are historically difficult for you?  If so, what are your strategies for surviving and thriving?

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Not red wine with a bath, but red wine IN a red wine bath. So what I need right now!

…stay close to me eee  eee…

Unexpected storm in Boulder dumps 4 inches of snow in two hours.  Roads covered with an inch of black ice.  I spend 3.5 hours in a car driving a grand total of 20 miles.  Three of the 3.5 hours are spent with my two tired and hungry children, both of whom have to go to the bathroom well before there is any chance of stopping or getting home.  Mommy did NOT bring the iPad along (probably the first trip since I’ve gotten the thing that I’ve been without it).  Upon arriving home, I find that the four pairs of ski boots I set in the driveway (so that I could fit the dog in the car) are now full of snow.

So, I’m declaring this a “special occasion” night, where I am allowed to break my resolution to skip wine on weekdays.

Bottoms up everyone!  🙂

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