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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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Here is my contribution to author Susanna Hill’s Holiday Contest.  The rules were simple.  Write our own version of Clement C. Moore’s classic, ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas.  Go here to read all the other entries.  They are great!  Thanks to Susanna for hosting another fun challenge!

 

‘Twas the Night Before Christmas, and all through the night,

We parents were wrapping with all of our might.

The stockings were stuffed but the presents were bare.

“I’ll be more organized next year… I swear!”

 

We prayed that the children would stay in their beds,

Snuggled in tight with the spreads on their heads.

While Daddy with his screwdriver and I with my tape,

Settled in to the task to make Christmas take shape.

 

When all of a sudden the dog began barking.

The reflection of bows on the ceiling were sparkling!

I sprang from the couch and led him away —

Into his crate to await Christmas Day.

 

At last we were ready to load up the tree.

Poor Daddy endured sharp instructions from me.

First this one!  Now that one! Put this one on top.

Be CAREFUL! It’s fragile!  Be sure it won’t drop.

 

And then we collapsed, exhausted and frayed.

“Oh please let the kids sleep ‘til eight,” we both prayed.

One blink of an eye and we heard the kids cheer,

“Come look at the tree, ‘cause Santa’s been here!”

 

We groaned in our beds, our eyes red and puffy.

The kids both looked glowing, while we looked quite scruffy.

I brewed us some coffee and scorching hot tea,

Then readied myself for the festivity.

 

One blink of an eye and the presents were done.

The kids were quite eager to play and have fun.

But as they were cleaning up ribbon and wrapping,

I lay my head down and soon began napping.

 

As I slipped into dreams, I heard a soft voice

Remind me to savor the day and rejoice.

 

And here I exclaim as I blog through the night, Happy Holidays to all and to all a Good Night

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This book has a special place in my heart for two reasons: First, it was photographed entirely in Northern Michigan, where I grew up.  Second, it was one of the first picture books we owned – given to Em as a baby gift less than two weeks after she was born.  We’ve been reading it regularly ever since!

Written and photographed by Carl R. Sams II and Jean Stoik
Sams, Carl R. II, Photography, January 2000, Fiction
Suitable for:  Ages 2-8
Themes/Topics:  Animals in winter, mystery, snowmen.
Opening and brief synopsis:  This wonderfully heartwarming winter story about forest animals’ curiosity and confusion over a snowman that has magically appeared in their woods, has become a festive favorite year after year.
Activities:  Laura and Rob Sams, cousins of Carl Sams and creators of Stranger in the Woods: The Movie (which I ADORE!!), host this website which contains a wealth of curriculum activities based on the book.  They also do school visits.  From my point of view as a parent and a child of Michigan, however, I suggest building a snowman with your kids.  Put some birdseed on his hat, give him a carrot nose and spread some carrots on the ground and see if any deer or other animals come to visit your “stranger.” 🙂
Why I Like This Book: Besides the stunning photography, the fact that these wildlife photographers (husband and wife) were able to write such a captivating story to go with their photographs is miraculous.  When you read the book, it’s difficult that the whole thing wasn’t staged – it’s that good.  Also inspirational for writers: this is a self-published book that went on to become a #1 New York Times bestseller and won many awards along the way.  Additional books in the series, also self-published and also NYT bestsellers, are Lost in the Woods and First Snow in the Woods.

For more books with resources please visit author Susanna Leonard Hill’s blog and find the tab for Perfect Picture Books!

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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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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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