Thursday, November 27, 2008

Giving the bird

Well, maybe not so much the bird, as the means by which to cook it.

The husband and I bought an Electric Roaster five years ago. I was tired of tying up the stove when I wanted to roast a turkey, and it was an affordable solution at $30.00. Then, friends of ours bought a new house, so we gave them a roaster as a housewarming present. And then, we bought hubby's sister and brother-in-law one for Christmas.

A roaster is the type of present that the recipient either loves, or sticks in a cabinet somewhere to grow multiple layers of dust. In both cases of our giving, the roasters were big hits. As I was basting our Thanksgiving bird today, I had to smile, knowing our friends and family were making use of our gifts to them.

No matter what you had for dinner today, or how you cooked it, I hope you made lifelong memories and experienced heartwarming moments. Happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Books, games and holiday travel.

Thanksgiving is two days away and those who are heading out to see family are more likely to be traveling by ground this year. If you, and your kids, are roadtripping on Thursday, why not unplug the gadgets and enjoy some old-fashioned travel games. And when you need some quiet, have the older kids read to themselves, or read aloud to the littler ones.

The Licence Plate (or Roadside Sign) Game - Starting with the letter "A", have your kids find all the letters of the alphabet, in order, by searching license plates or signs.

The All 50 States Game - Look for license plates from all 50 United States. Ask if anyone knows anything interesting about the States you see.

The Progressive Story Game - One person begins to tell a story, and then each person gets to add a sentence. You never know how the story will end.

The Word Association Game - We do this all the time. Someone says a word, and then everyone else says a word the word before reminds them of - this can get pretty silly.

I'm sure there are other games to play, but these are the ones we've used over the years. Please feel free to share your ideas in the comments.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Book Review - The Mighty Queens of Freeville by Amy Dickinson

The Mighty Queens of Freeville
Amy Dickinson
ISBN # 978-1401322854

I received this book in the mail last week. I started reading it and put it down two hours later. Amy Dickinson writes so fluidly that I had no sense of time passing. The Mighty Queens of Freeville is a memoir, full of astute observations about life, love and family. I teared up in more than a couple of places, and some of the passages will stick with me forever.

This book would be an excellent Christmas gift, but it won't be available to purchase until early February. Perhaps a gift card with the express purpose to purchase The Mighty Queens of Freeville?
(February 2009, pp 240, $22.99)

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Just Write Blog Carnival

I am part of the Just Write Blog Carnival going on now. Please visit to see the other great blogs participating!

Friday, November 14, 2008

Mind your mouth, as well as your manners.

Saturday evening, my husband and I, along with a friend of ours, decided to grab dinner at a local restaurant. We thought it would be a nice way to end the day, as they had been out deer hunting for most of it. We don't typically eat out, mostly because we both love to cook. We like this restaurant, though - good food, laid back atmosphere and affordable.

I ordered a Julienne salad, and our waitress said "Oh, the cook is gonna love you." I said "Because it's easy to make?" and that's when everything started to slide downhill.

Apparently she was being facetious. When she brought our food, she went on a rant, directed at me, about how it took time to slice the ingredients for the salad, thereby pulling the cook away from all the other orders waiting to be made(there was only one other customer present at the time, and the food I ordered was offered on the menu). Well, I guess I've been disavowed of the notion that a salad is easy to make.

I had a really hard time eating. Suddenly, I lost my appetite, and any desire to stay. My husband and friend looked at each other, and then at me, with confused expressions on their faces. They asked if I wanted to go home. I told them to eat their food.

I've been thinking about this since it happened. I was embarrassed to be berated that way in public. It was incredibly rude and unprofessional. And we won't be spending our hard earned money there again.

It did teach me something, though. No matter what your job is, how you conduct yourself, moment to moment, day to day, will ultimately impact your bottom line.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Book Review - The Trouble With Boys by Peg Tyre

The Trouble with Boys: A Surprising Report Card on Our Sons, Their Problems at School, and What Parents and Educators Must Do
Peg Tyre
ISBN # 978-0307381286

"Is your smart, capable son starting to struggle in school? When he talks about his lessons does he seem bored, disengaged or fearful? Or do you just have an uneasy sense that he's falling out of love with learning? A great many parents from all walks of life are noticing the same thing. They're wondering exactly what is going on. Has something changed about our boys, their schools or our culture that is making it hard for young males to succeed? I've spent the last 18 months asking educators, psychologists, historians, social scientists, doctors, boys and their parents those exact questions. And the answers I've come up with might surprise you. If you have a son who is not thriving in school and you care deeply about his education and his future, I've written this book for you."
- Peg Tyre

I am raising three healthy, vibrant, active, boisterous bright sons - ages 17, 11 and 6. Without exception, they have all experienced ongoing issues with school. Not one of them enjoys homework. Each of them struggles with spelling. They have a hard time with organization and getting their assignments in on time.

We (my husband and I) read to them and with them. Our house is full of books. We all love music and words. Each boy has a vocabulary well beyond their grade level. We don't watch a lot of television, we limit their time playing video games, and we spend as much time as possible doing outdoor things - gardening, hiking, playing ball, fishing.

I've thought for years that boys have a more difficult time in a structured school setting than girls. My only daughter (19) was an excellent student. She learned quickly, enjoyed school, participated in extra-curricular activities and graduated High School with a solid B average.

Peg Tyre, through her thorough and comprehensive research, has written a book that explains some of the whys and hows of boys' current struggles to attain a solid education. In reading it, I found myself nodding and saying "Ah hah!" If your son(s) are falling behind or seem lackluster about attending school, this is the book you need to read!
(September 2008, pp 320, $24.95)

If you'd like to see a video of Peg Tyre talking about her book, please click here -

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

High turnover in the print world

According to many Tweets and blog posts I've been reading lately, more than the usual number of print magazines are folding and editors are either losing their jobs, or moving on to other publications. As a freelance writer, this is rather worrisome. Luckily, I also know how to write for the Web, so there are other options open to me. And, I'm not afraid to stretch out to write for Regionals and/or Trade magazines.

I've never aspired to be a "niche" writer. Being a "generalist" keeps many doors partially open, as long as I am willing to reach wider and higher. How will you adjust to fewer print publications being produced?

Monday, November 3, 2008

Book Review - Janeology by Karen Harrington

Karen Harrington
Kunati Inc.
ISBN # 978-1601640208

"Jane, a loving mother of two, has drowned her toddler son and is charged with his murder in this powerful examination of love, loss, and family legacy. When a prosecutor decides Jane's husband Tom is partially to blame for the death and charges him with "failure to protect," Tom's attorney proposes a radical defense. He plans to create reasonable doubt about his client's alleged guilt by showing that Jane's genealogy is the cause of her violence, and that she inherited her latent violence in the same way she might inherit a talent for music or a predisposition to disease. He argues that no one could predict or prevent the tragedy, and that Tom cannot be held responsible."

Janeology is a heartbreaking story. It's not bad enough that Tom loses a child and his wife, but then he is charged with being a neglectful father, because he couldn't predict his wife's behavior. The depth and breadth of this book lead the reader to consider how far a person will go to understand their circumstances and prove their innocence. Well written and intriguing, Janeology is a book you won't want to put down.
(April 2008, pp 256, $24.95)