Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Batteries Recharging

After thinking about it for a while, I've decided to take this week off from blogging.  I'll see you all next week when we have to get back to be productive members of society again.  This week, I'm going into totally unproductive mode!

Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas!!

Wishing you all a very merry Christmas!  May your hearts be overflowing with love, your souls nourished with faith, and your kitchens full of cookies!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Whether the Weather is Inspiring

'Tis the year for crazy weather.  The west coast of the US is being totally pounded with rain.  The Heathrow airport was apparently under siege from snow.  Volcanos erupted.  Earthquakes abounded.  Tornados and tsunamis and floods reared their ugly heads.  So what does that have to do with writing picture books?

Well, it could have everything to do with writing picture books if you take inspiration from it.  The weather can make such a wonderful picture book subject because it is one of the mysterious things that happens in a child's life (and all our lives).  And since it is so mysterious, it is easy to play around with.  Think "Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs" or even "The Wizard of Oz".  It is easy to turn weather into something playful or ominous or silly or scary.  Weather can be the hero of a story or the villain.

So, for your inspiration today, take a look out your window!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

What did he just say?

I have a little tip that I often hear, seldom follow, but wish I did more often.  Write down what your kids say.  Time just moves so quickly and you lose those little gems in a heartbeat.  If your children are anything like mine, the stuff that comes out of their mouths is often hysterical, occasionally disturbing, always interesting and all too often it holds a mirror up to you.

I have a family blog that I try to update with these little bits of priceless memory, but I'm oddly terrible at keeping up with it.  Especially since starting this blog, I've ignored my little family blog a lot.  Believe me, I'm totally ashamed of this fact!  I feel terrible because it is not only a connection with far-flung family and friends, it is like a family diary.  I would love to someday use one of those services that turns your blog into a book because it would be a little history of us.

Do you have a place where you keep these memories?  Do you use video?  Stories?  A diary/journal?  Scrap pieces of paper all over the kitchen?  Perhaps a good resolution this year is to be better at recording these memories.  Sounds like a plan!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Weekend Recommendation

Howdy partners!

Hope everyone is getting ready for the holidays and finding time to remain sane too.  This is probably going to be my last recommendation until after the new year just because the holidays fall on the weekends.  I'll still try to get my regular Tuesday-Thursday blogs up though!

Today's recommendation is Dirtball Pete, written and illustrated by Eileen Brennan.  This is just an adorable story and one I can totally relate to, having three little dirtballs of my own.  Ms. Brennan has a unique and fun writing voice.  You'll enjoy it!!

Have a great weekend, everybody!!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Finding Inspiration in the Grumpy

Last night I was feeling grumpy for no particular reason.  This happens to me sometimes.  I just get in a mood and I don't really know why.  I'm just "grrrr."

I mentioned my funk on Twitter and my buddy Juliet suggested I write a grumpy character while I was feeling grumpy.  What a fabulous idea!  It had not occurred to me that I should be taking advantage of a rare mood for myself.  I'm not grumpy very often, so I should Carpe Grumpy!

I've heard writing referred to as "cheap therapy" before, but I've always taken that to mean journaling through your problems.  While that is often productive and helpful, what a great new angle this writing-a-character-to-match-your-mood could be!  How wonderfully powerful you could be - projecting your emotions onto your character for them to carry around and deal with while you sit peacefully at your keyboard.  Oh the possibilities!

Sadly, I did not have the time or opportunity to write last night, but I am stowing away that little bit of inspiration for the next time a un-Megan-like mood strikes.  And as a bonus, my children and husband may be spared the wrath of Megan!  : )

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Parenting Virtue

"Patience is a virtue."  

"You can learn many things from your children.  How much patience you have, for instance." - Franklin P. Jones

Before I had kids, I thought I was the most patient person in the world.  I rarely (if ever) lost my temper.  I didn't really know how loudly I could yell.  I was the very picture of "peacemaker" - the number 9 on the Enneagram.  I was a virtuous person indeed!

Then I had my lovely children.  My darling, sweet, wonderful, creative, happy, delightful children.  My infuriating, wild, whiny, must-be-hearing-impaired, arguing children.  And I lost my cool.

Now I work very hard on being patient.  In fact, I'd say it is the primary thing I work on as a parent.  How to say things without yelling.  How to encourage without being bossy.  How to let them do things for themselves when it would be faster and easier for me to do it myself.  How to convey the importance of our rules without beating them over the head with them (figuratively, of course).

But I have some words of encouragement for myself and for other parents here.  We all struggle with this.  I've discovered that it is a universal theme among parents who give a damn about how they parent.  If you struggle with this, it means you care.  It means you are trying.  It means you have your children's best interest at heart.  Even the coolest and most-easy going of my friends have shared this struggle with me at various times.  So, soldier on, dear parents.  You are not alone in your quest for patience.  Keep fighting the good fight within yourself so that you don't fight the bad fight with your kids.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Weekend Recommendation

Sorry to get this up a little late this weekend!  We had internet trouble this morning, so I have an excuse, really I do!

On to the recommendation though!  I'm going to go with The Cow Loves Cookies written by Karma Wilson (of Bear Snores On fame) and illustrated by Marcellus Hall.  I adore Karma's rhyming schemes and this book does not disappoint.  I find her books a joy to read out loud.  I never trip over words or meter.  The story is adorable as well.  My boys had a great time yelling "COOKIES" every time I would say "but the cow loves...".  All around fun!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Getting Things Done

During the holidays it is so difficult to get things done!  I am in a constant swirl of shopping, planning, running errands, brainstorming present ideas, keeping the kids occupied, going to special events, trying to make the holidays memorable and fun for the kids, remembering choir practices/party dates/to get the giving tree presents to church on the right day, and on and on and on.

So, where can I find time to get any writing stuff done?  I found this quote the other day and it inspired me...

"There are three ways to get something done:  do it yourself, hire someone, or forbid your kids to do it." -Monta Crane

Now, I can't forbid my kids to do my writing and have them do it for me, but I can be inspired by the mischief that seems to come along with the excess energy and excitement of the season for my kids.  A kid waiting for Christmas is like a cat on catnip...insane!  So let the insanity roll and I'll get my notebook! 

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

What the craft?!

I'm kicking off my new we-aim-to-inspire theme here on ye olde blog with some inspiration for things to do with your kids this holiday season.  How do you figure out what to do with your kids?  Especially during those long days of Christmas break before Christmas when they are bouncing off walls?  I have three main sources of inspiration for you.

1. Go old school.  Think back to kindergarten.  Or your kid's kindergarten.  It doesn't matter if they are 12 or 15 or 3.  Kindergarten-type crafts are amusing for all ages when it comes to the holidays.  Make a Santa beard out of cotton balls.  Mix up some salt dough and make some ornaments to paint.  Trace your hands for Rudolph's antlers.   Make "gingerbread" houses out of graham crackers and trees out of ice cream cones.  Or this old standard in my house...

We take two sheets of construction paper and cut out a holiday shape from one of them.  We usually cut out some symmetrical shape so that you can just fold that paper in half to cut it out.  Then glue the paper with the cut-out onto the whole sheet and decorate.  Then you also have a shape that you cut out of the first paper that can be decorated and turned into an ornament or even a gift tag (admittedly a LARGE gift tag).   Here is one my son did last year.  We cut the tree shape out of the red paper, glued it to the green paper and then he colored away.  He especially loved being given a glue stick with the instructions "glue all over!"  I love that he misspelled "Christmas" - let your kids do things themselves - it makes a much cuter keepsake!

2.  Blogs!  Not really mine, but other people's.  I found these two thanks to Twitter and these are just such adorable ideas!
3.  Go! Go! Go! Get out of your house and explore your city.  My local newspaper puts out a holiday booklet thingy each year listing the many holiday happenings.  So many of these are free and, frequently, under-appreciated and under-attended.  Especially pick things that are new that year or out of the ordinary.  Who would have thought our local minor league baseball team had a Christmas event?  Not me!  But they did last year and it was adorable!  Ask your neighbors, search the internet, send out a homing pigeon to your local tourism center.  Try at least one new thing this season!

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Weekend Recommendation

Happy weekend, everybody!

I've been on a cleaning rampage all morning and almost forgot to post my weekend recommendation!  The horror!

This week, I'm going with a book we got out from the library, but I'm going to have to add to our Christmas list.  My three year old LOVES it and wants me to read it to him constantly.  I see a renewal in our future!  It is Chicken Big, written and illustrated by Keith Graves.  One thing I totally love about reading this book out loud is that it gives you the opportunity to stretch your acting muscles and get into the characters as you read.  Lots of fun!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Ummm...Now what?

My first blog series is over and I have no idea what to do with my blog!  I'd love to structure my blog posts so I have regular type features (other than my weekend recommendations), but I have no structure to my brain and my thoughts have no regular features.

So, I tried to come up with a more specific theme or reason-for-being for my blog.  I'm thinking of just expanding on my blog series theme and making my blog a place folks can come for a little weekly inspiration.  What do you think?  I could write posts that are meant to trigger ideas.  Since I started off making my blog about parenting and writing, I could have parent inspiration on Tuesdays and writer inspiration on Thursdays?  Ways to awaken your muse, ideas for activities with the kids, exercises to trigger story ideas, cheering the weary parent on tough days, etc.  I'm just typing my thoughts as I have them here.  : )

Does anyone know if there is already a blog devoted to such things?  What do you all think?  "The Write-At-Home-Mom: Inspiration, Motivation & Encouragement for the writer and the parent"?  Do you think it is a broad enough subject that I could keep it going?  Or are you sick of this theme out of me already?

I'd love feedback of any kind!  : )