Monday, October 31, 2011

Happy Halloween

My former husband, an auto mechanic knew his stuff about cars. However, he had a disposition that I referred to as mechanic's mentality: lug nut, crank shaft, hammering piston, boiling radiator, speedometer in the red zone. We were like fire and fuel, and I admit, my mouth fanned the flames.

We lived in a brick house, in a middle class working neighborhood, on a one way street. The neighbors on either side of us were aging and had been long-time residents. The retired immigrants who lived to the right, kept their property immaculate. They were what was referred to as Scrubby Dutch. The missus would come out every Saturday morning with a bucket of steaming sudsy water and scrub the white marble stoop, four steps, and the porch. The mister would mow his lawn closer than a young man's crew cut. Often we found a big fat swath cut from our grass. This hint-indicator irritated the mechanic as he only mowed on weekends.

The retired white-haired couple on the left were an odd couple. He was mild mannered and soft-spoken; she towered over him figuratively and literally. Both sets of neighbors were friendly, but they knew that the mechanic was usually one spark plug away from firing off an opinion.

One Halloween, our daughter and son wanted to make a scarecrow. They wadded up newspaper and stuffed a pair of their dad's blue jeans, a red, plaid, flannel shirt and a pair of my discarded suntan colored panty hose which we used for the scarecrow's head and arms. I drew on facial features and added a mustache and a cap. We propped him outside on a chair on the porch and added a pair of work boots. Eight year old Jason, asked if he could give the scarecrow his rifle. Why not? I placed that rifle in the life-sized scarecrow's "hands" and took a photo of our masterpiece.

I saw the neighbors to the left drive up. I stood inside the open door and listened. I couldn't wait to hear their reaction. They did not park, they sped past the house, not once, but twice. The third time, they parked in the alley. I peeked out and saw them hunched over creeping quickly to their back door. I wondered what they were up to.

The next day, I was in the back yard with Dusty, our spaniel-mix, when the neighbor man walked out with Fee-Fee, his white toy poodle.

"How'd you like our scarecrow?"

"Well, to tell you the truth, yesterday when we came home, I started to park in front of the house when I saw your husband on the porch, wide-eyed, looking like he was about to go off half cocked with that rifle in his hands. I drove around a couple times, then decided to sneak through the back door. My wife looked out at him a time or two, and then we realized it was a dummy."

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Out of grief came joy

Did you ever sew something with a loose, temporary stitch and then forget about it?
Pull a thread and unravel a hem?

That is what it felt like for me yesterday. So many years have passed since my childhood, since the day I sat at my grandma's table on my Uncle Frankie's lap. He was in his late teens, had a full head of thick, wavy hair. He tried to get me (a preschooler) to eat my chicken noodle soup. He held the spoon in front of me and told me to look away. Then he ate it. After that, it became our game, everytime HE looked away, I gulped "his" spoonful of soup.

He was my mom's younger brother and the only boy among five sisters. Spoiled? Yeah.

We didn't have too much interaction, but I do remember that he gave my dad his old Studebaker when we needed a car; he came to my mom's rescue a time or two, and when he was in his forties and bald, he decided what he wanted to be when he grew up. He became a police officer. He made the rank of lieutenant. He had odd pets, a pot bellied pig and a "depewed" skunk.

He visited me and my family at my home a time or two after I married. My kids were little but they remember him tooling around in a little red MG, experiencing his midlife crisis, probably.

I saw him at Christmas once at Grandma's but our family did not have a close bond. Everytime I tried to take a snapshot he'd cover his face, to keep from having his picture taken.

I spoke to him on the phone a year ago. He said he needed to have an artery opened, and after he got over his painful case of Shingles, he would probably have the procedure. He chickened out and his heart gave out.

In so many ways he made his family proud. He raised three step daughters, but he harbored a shameful secret. He had two children, a boy and a girl from his first marriage, and he was estranged from them. I felt sorry for my cousins whom I barely knew. I always wondered about them, especially after I had a granddaughter whose father abandoned her at birth. That kind of pain is searing.

Yesterday at my uncle's memorial service, I met my cousin, Brenda, and her daughter. We shared a common memory, our grandmother used to stuff us with cookies, although we were never at her house at the same time, that we can remember. As I shared my memories with Brenda about her mom and grandma, I felt as if I was hand stitching pieces of a patchwork quilt together with very large stitches, connecting our memories, as we hurried to wrap it up. Someone pointed her out to me at the conclusion of my uncle's memorial service. I gave her my business card. I hope I hear from her.

Clarence, my uncle's lifelong best friend, almost eighty, grew up on the same street as my mom and her siblings. Once this cracker jack joker started talking, it was as if he'd tugged at a loose thread and let out a hem on my old coat. Memories flooded from him to me as he told me things about my father and mother and grandma that made me laugh, cringe, frown and smile.

Out of sadness and grief came joy, a reconciliation of spirit even if we never see one another again. For a brief hour, I was three, my dad and mom were young; I could hear my grandmother's voice, and after half a century I finally hugged my long lost cousin, Brenda, who seems to be doing well.

Friday, October 28, 2011

I crashed the gates! I'm ready to do it again.

1982 World Series
This is what happened twenty-nine years ago. Thirty-eight years ago today my baby boy was born. He can verify this and so can my daughter.

Happy Birthday to my wonderful son, Jason.
By Linda O’Connell

The announcer’s voice gunned across the airwaves
like a hot rod peeling out on gravel.
Nearly fifty-four thousand fans “going crazy” as Jack Buck thundered
play by play, the seventh game of the’82 World Series.
Home runs ricocheted down my spine, coursed through my veins as I bled Cardinal red.

Although my ex was Bruce Sutter’s and Keith-damned-good-looking-Hernandez’s auto mechanic, he said he couldn’t get us a ticket, had to work that night.
Right! During the seventh inning stretch, I raced
the kids to my ’65 Mustang and we sped to Busch Stadium.

Bellowing cheers rocked downtown, thundered to an apex,
reverberated off century old brick buildings,
shook my car windows; drew me like a rip current towards the epicenter
of sound, lights, frenetic on-field activity.

I tugged my two kids three blocks, running
on wobbly legs through thick night air
permeated with popcorn, peanuts and Cracker Jacks,
gasping for breath, hungry for a taste of excitement.

We arrived at the twelve foot fence, and stopped.
A gated community. Padlocked.
The fans in stands, a tsunami of red,
swayed like an aftershock.

When Ozzie doubled and Sutter replaced Andujar
I had to see! We ran around the perimeter to get a better view,
and when I saw what I saw, I knew
prison bars could be no worse.

We took off towards the teenagers scaling the chain link.
When they shook the gate loose,
I snatched my son's and daughter’s hands and crashed
through too. A dozen guards came running.

I dashed into the nearest ladies room.
My nine year old son’s mouth moved maniacally
when I shoved him into a stall.
Cheers rocked the walls; his protests fell on deaf ears.

He still boasts about being front and center
at the ’82 World Series when his old mom
nonchalantly pulled him out of the ladies john
and ran like a slugger down to the good seats.
We got caught
up in the moment
and have reveled
in that kick ass Cards vs. Brewers game for twenty-nine years.


Thursday, October 27, 2011

If you saw the 'bad boy' again, would you? I did.

I received my shipment of books a moment ago. My story, A Blast from the Past, is on page 150 along with the recipe I submitted. That in itself is reason to celebrate. More than that, I flipped through this book and noticed that they have included only 21 recipes along with the 101 stories.

My late, best friend and neighbor, Rose, used to make this recipe when our kids were young. I spent many hours in her small kitchen which had dark cabinets and orange counter tops, nibbling, munching and devouring her Apple Walnut Coffee Cake. Two pots of coffee past noon, our small kids would walk through her door after school, and we would still be sharing sweets, secrets, dreams, pain and laughter.

It had been nearly thirty years since I'd had my last taste of that bad boy. When I saw that "hunk" in a clear plastic container on a deli counter, I tried to look away, but was smitten all over again. All of the memories flooded back and I devoured every last crumb.

In the Chicken Soup for the Soul story, there is an incident that accompanies the recipe. No, it is not nice to laugh at your mother, let alone your friend's mother when you see them flat on their backs, feet in the air, in a compromising position.

I will be doing a book signing on 12/10/11 at Main Street Books in St. Charles, MO, along with two other Chicken Soup writers. Would love to see you there.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Halloween trash to treasure

Before you toss that disinfectant wipes container, consider converting it into a learning tool. Cut a cardboard picture of Scooby Doo and an opening for his mouth on both Scooby and the container.

Hot glue the cartoon character to the inverted container (so it opens on the bottom for easy removal of the foam candy corn with letters printed on them).

I cut up a decorative party bag and wrapped it around the container.

I chose the foam pieces because children strengthen small hand finger/thumb muscles turning over the pieces to discover which letter they will "feed" Scooby.

After the holidays you can pick up plastic or flannel backed table cloths (with repeating designs) at discount prices to make an over-sized matching game. Cut the table cloth in half and hot glue it to a large piece of cardboard which can be obtained at Sam's Club or Costco for free. They are placed between layers of boxed goods.

Next, take the other half of the table cloth and cut the sections apart. I mount them on poster board weight paper and cover the paper backing with wide packing tape, so they don't stick to the DOUBLE SIDED Clear tape which I stretch across each row so the pieces don't move around or fall off.

This matching game can be used standing up or on the floor. The children have to decide which position to place each section in, sometimes the pictures are positioned sideways or upside down, so the children have to do some reasoning.

I am a bit of a stinker. I pick up the board when they are finished and "accidentally" drop it so some of the pieces fall off, and they work it again :)

I hope you can start thinking REUSE instead of reFuse (trash).

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

What do you call a female peeping Tom?

What do you think of a grown woman who goes around at night peeping through holes to get a better look at her subject? I'm sure there are laws against peeping, but this gal has pulled some shenanigans that are downright dastardly, if not against the law. In fact, I suffered at her hands; she nearly maimed me for life.

Knowing what I know now about her, I would never get on an elevator with her if it meant she and I were the only ones on it, not to ride to the only bathroom in the establishment, not for a chunk of luscious chocolate, not for a view of a rare Monet. She'd suggest lifting the painting and I mean LIFT, not lift. I can't imagine being locked in a cell with her. My luck she'd put her minitaure monacle up to her good eyeball and inspect my pores, comment on my crooked teeth, mention my hair roots, and the fuzz on my upper lip. I don't need an educated person making educated guesses about me. I am steering clear of this peeper.

Years ago I used to teach school age students, K-6th at a summer day camp. I gave them a first-hand lesson on peeping. My classroom was in the cafeteria which had floor to ceiling windows. I completely covered one window with a roll of white art paper. I then made several eye holes in the paper at different heights. I instructed the children to peek through a hole and write or dictate their observations with as much detail as possible. When you have limited scope of something, it gives you a completley different perspective. It can be frustrating to have such a narrow view, but it can also be enlightening. As a writer, you begin to discover nuance, fine details, textures.

Well, I will allow the official peeper to enlighten you on this. Visit her HEREPlease take a moment to read her post and leave a comment. You will learn how this technique can help you as a writer.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

The skinny on corn

We went on a hayride to the pumpkin patch a couple of weeks ago. A middle school teacher pointed out the corn growing in the field and one of his students said, "Yeah, that's where hi-fructose corn syrup comes from, and that right there is why everyone is so fat."

The teacher said, "The corn didn't make them fat; overeating it did."

That lesson came back to me last weekend when we visited the Deutsch Country Days. One of the demonstrators showed us the functions of these various milling machines. He held up an ear of corn still in the husk and said, "What did the settlers do with corn like this? Let's begin: Feed the chickens?"

He tossed an ear of corn and said, "They'd have killed the chickens tossing this, and those that survived wouldn't eat it off the cob anyway. So, what if we strip the corn off the cob? Well, if I toss it in the barn yard like this, these pellets could put a chicken's eye out when I toss it. Besides, even if they did eat it like this, it would back up in their gullet, because they need fiber."

In our part of the country they used bone meal, beef bones were shaved and added to the corn, which was ground down into a finer meal for the chickens' mash. Farmers in coastal areas add ground oyster shells instead of bone meal to their chicken feed.

The farmer's would grind corn even finer and make meal for Johnny Cakes and corn bread.

The corn tassels were used to make a paste, which had healing properties for stinging insects.

They also boiled the tassels and made tea. The husks were used to make dolls. They were also soaked in water and then bunched,folded then inserted into holes in a piece of wood to make a corn husk broom.

The settlers boiled the corn until it was a fine syrup, and yes, they had hi-fructose corn syrup. Fermentation led to corn pone.

We take for granted the availability of corn and all its products. A hundred years ago, from the time a child could walk, they were working for their corn. Kids as young as toddlers would crank the handle on the shucker, the next machine milled it, and the next made it into finer meal, and the next machine (the blue one) shaved and ground the beef bones which was added to the chicken feed.

AN IMPORTANT NOTE: farmers did not feed beef bone meal to cattle. They knew better than to cannibalize cows.

He said nowadays our food is readily available. We don't have to expend any energy tilling the land, planting the crop, harvesting, storing and preparing the food. These are contributing factors to weight gain.

He mentioned that the settlers ate food that rotted, and passed quickly through their digestive tracts.

Today our food is over-refined and over-processed with so many preservatives. He said he has a commercially prepared hamburger and French fries from a year ago; it still has not rotted. Isn't that an eye-opener? Probably true. I know I have found petrified burger and fries under my grandkids' car seats, months later, and they still hadn't disintegrated.

He did mention the corn cobs, as nothing was wasted. They were used as stuffing for bedding.

They were also used as toilet paper. Folks always took three to the out-house, two red and one white. First they used a red one, then a white one if needed, and if there was no evidence that a third was needed :) it was saved for next time.

Now you have the skinny on corn which is allegedly responsible for making everyone obese.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

I'm going to do it in public!

and I want everyone to watch me.

I don't have the face, and certainly not the body to compete.

I am not an egomaniac; in fact, I am rather shy.

It really makes me uncomfortable, but yes, I AM going to expose myself.

I will be reading my personal essays and a poem. Please come listen.

Tuesday, November 1 at 7:00pm at
Dressel's Public House (Central West End)

Poems, Prose and Pints is proud to present:--Poets and Writers:
The Dressel, Howard Schwartz, Linda O'Connell, Julia Fialla Earhart, Byron Lee, Katy Friedman Miller, Gerald Rock, Kim Lazano, Jason Braun
and Music by: Warm Baby

In case you don't recognize these names, let's just say, this old pup is running with the "big dogs". I am so excited and would like to have as many people as possible in attendance at this FREE event. It would be nice if you bought a drink or a bite to eat at Dressel's, but you don't have to. There is no cover charge.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Story stones and story rollers

As a writer and an early childhood teacher, I believe that storytelling is a key to emergent literacy. I found this little ghost at a yard sale for fifty cents and placed our Halloween story stones in it, (I have an assortment of general ones and also holiday theme ones). I turn them over so the kids cannot see the pictures (stickers). They select one at random and tell me something about it. The very young children in my three year old class simply label them, or say, "The ghost ate the pumpkin." There after, the next object eats the next and so on. That tells me something about individual students' language development. I want them to have fun, so I don't lead them. I listen. There are about thirty story stones, and some children will stop at three and others will use all thirty. It gets very redundant if all they do is eat each other :)

However, the four year olds are learning about sequencing stories, pictures and events: first, next, then, and last. When they begin, their stories are mostly basic, somewhat creative, and my only questions are, "What happened first? What happened last? What was your story about?

The more verbal children, especially the older fours and early five year olds, elaborate. They tell very creative stories and want to use all of the story stones.
They do this on their own, with me, or with a friend.


To further enhance language development, I bring in a Halloween theme decorated popcorn tin. I place a few objects inside and the children shake it and guess what COULD be inside. I lift the lid and expose one portion of the object at a time until someone guesses it. They use descriptive words.

Next, I roll the decorative can to each child and the class tells a continuing, group story as they touch a section on the tin. Sometimes I write their words and hang the story in the hall, and sometimes, we just do an impromptu story for fun. I pretend I am amazed when they add a great vocabulary word or I act frightened if they tell a scary detail.

A ghost saw a pumpkin on the ground.
The bats were flying in the sky.
A witch took the pumpkin. (Ohhh, don't make this too scary for ME.)
The scarecrow scared the mouse.
The witch cackled. (What a good word!)

The children laugh and think they are just playing, but you and I know that they are LEARNING. Did you ever try to roll a popcorn tin straight ahead? Sometimes it goes sideways and the kids have to do a lot of reasoning to figure out just how to roll it back.

One of these days, some of my students will be best selling authors. I know it!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

I've been busy...and I'm going to be busier!

Please support this great, collaborative event which will benefit the Joplin, MO tornado victims.

Storm Country release party and book signing. Authors will read from their work and discuss their contributions to the anthology. Some of the authors scheduled to read include: Elaine Viets, Linda Austin, Lynn Obermoeller, Linda O'Connell, Donna Volkenannt, Kelli Allen, and others.

Event is free and open to the public. Refreshments will be provided by the Missouri Writers Guild.

Sunday, November 13 · 7:00pm - 9:00pm

Location Regional Arts Commission
6128 Delmar Boulevard St. Louis, MO 63112-1204

Proceeds benefit the restoration of the Joplin School District libraries.


Writers' Journal Magazine, Volume 32 NO 6, NOV-DEC Issue

Check out page 44!
Write a Winning Essay
Selling Your Personal Point of View
By Linda O'Connell


St. Louis Reflections an anthology of essays and poetry by members of St. Louis Writer's Guild will be available soon. My story, Chasing a Name is about getting Chuck Berry's autograph, and losing it the same day.


Chicken Soup Food and Love will be released in a few weeks.
I will be signing books on December 10th at Main Street Books in St. Charles, along with other Chicken Soup for the Soul writers. This is a food drive, Chicken Soup for the Body and Soul.


My friend knows the editor of God Makes Lemonade, and says they are still seeking submissions. They pay $250.00 per accepted story. HERE for details.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Deutsch Country Days

The weather was beautiful, sunny, breezy and 80 degrees, a perfect day for viewing fall foliage and taking a day trip. We drove an hour west of St. Louis to Marthasville, MO. Deutsch Country Days is held on the third weekend each October on the historic Luxenhaus Farm. It is a unique and authentic re-creation of early 1800's German life in Missouri. Walking the winding gravel paths and visiting the juried artists and volunteers wearing period clothing, demonstrating tin and peweter smithing, basket weaving, wood carving, natural dyeing, saw milling, corn shucking, candle making, arts and handicrafts, was like taking a step back in time. The smell of German foods cooking and for sale, made me miss my late grandmother.

There are over thirty log and period structures and a covered bridge along with the original Huber House, completely restored and furnished as it was in 1840. It was moved from the Huber Farm in Perryville, MO in 1970.

If anyone is old enough to remember Silver Dollar City, in Branson, in its early days, the primitive structures, the artisans in period garb at work making lye soap etc. then you would like this annual event held the third week in October on the Luxenhaus Farm. Luxenhaus Farm German Heritage Foundation and Deutsch Country Days offers opportunities to numerous history-oriented non-profit and youth organizations, and they also offer college scholarships. Deutsch Country farms is a non-profit organization (your entry fees are tax deductible) and charges a reasonable fee.

Not only can visitors experience German settler life in the 1800's, but they can take a tractor ride (or huff and puff as we did) up the gravel trails to higher elevation on the farm and hike "The Osage Trail". It is a real blast from the past, circa 1700's dedicated to the Osage Tribe who inhabitated the area then. There were lodges, Ti-Pis, and earth homes. Actors dressed as French trappers, Native Americans and others demonstrated their skills of bow-making, tomahawk throwing (Hubby gave it a try), leather and flute making, and much more.

Did I mention the animals? I petted a newborn calf, fed a goat the ice from my drink, saw Missouri mules working a sorguhm press. The two sheep got restless in their pen, so the owner took them for a walk. They trailed him like Mary (had a little lamb) around the property. The full grown sheep enjoyed their off leash jaunt as much as the visitors enjoyed interacting with them.

We huffed and puffed a bit up some hilly trails, and we slipped and slid a time or two coming back down, but what a work out, and what a fun time and glorious day to experience life back then, sample yummy food, and sip a glass of fresh lemonade.

Keep Deutsch Country Days in mind for next fall. Mark your calendar now.

I was impressed with the way the structures were built.

The roof of this mud and cedar house is made of cedar branches. Cedar trees grow in abundance in Missouri.

I was amazed to see how the immigrants and settlers made their log cabins, no mortar back then, they assembled with whatever they could find, rocks, mud, horsehair.

My favorite photo. These little boys were not acting. They were trying to catch a frog. I had to laugh at their ingenuity.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Cutest pumpkin in the patch

What a beautiful day for a visit to the pumpkin patch. I had class field trips Thursday and Friday. My youngest granddaughter is in my class, so she attended both days.

The gorgeous weather is hanging around for a few more days, before sweater-weather returns next week. I feel blessed.

I love this picture because Nicole looks like the scarecrows' kid.

Cutest little pumpkin in the whole pumpkin patch.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Speaking to the supervisor

I was in a government office today, because I have been unable to get questions answered on the phone. In fact the first person I spoke with on the phone was down right rude to me. The second phone person was somewhat helpful, but told me to make a personal appearance in October.

Today the young woman who assisted me was absolutley delightful. She spoke eloquently, gave me all necessary information to make an informed decision. She went above and beyond the call of duty. It was at the end of her work day. Before I left, I asked to speak with her superior. She looked surprised but went to get her boss. I told the boss how exceptional this woman's service had been and how helpful and personable she was. The concerned expressions on both their faces faded and they both smiled and look relieved. So often the general public has to deal with inept employees, consequently managers receive many complaints. This is one time the manager and employee were thrilled when someone asked for a supervisor.

I urge you, if someone treats you right, smile and comment to them or their supervisor about the great job they did. You might make their day. If more people chose gratitude as their attitude what a better world it would be. A few kind words mean a lot.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Peek-a-boo, I see...what?

This is my easy-to-make Halloween-theme, peek-a-boo box. As you can see, it is old.

Make a diarama out of a diaper wipes container, add a few interesting miniatures and a background. Seal it shut. Poke a hole to peek through and also a hole on top to allow light inside. Put it on the nature table (we call it our Wonder Table, because we wonder about all sorts of things on that table). I tape it down with clear packaging tape so the kids have to bend down and peek inside, and it doesn't end up lost, dropped or opened.

This simple little container generates vocabulary, spontaneous language, encourages children to observe and recall: how many pieces of candy, what color, etc. was in the peek-a-boo box. I have a different one each month.

Why not make one and surprise your student, child or grandchild?

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2 Rivers Communication and Design has been launched. Dianna offers editing and writing services from small scale to large scale projects. She wears so many "hats" it is difficult to keep up with her. Her work ethic is amazing and her diligence astounding. Those who know her can attest. Those of you who don't know Dianna Graveman, please check out 2 Rivers Communication & Design by clicking HERE . Move your cursor across her page and spend a moment of your day getting to know Dianna and the services she offers. Stop by her Facebook Page and LIKE it. Let's help this small business owner get her business off the ground. Pass the word on to others, please.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Cookies, better than a face lift

Get a bunch of hens together, or maybe I should say, a gaggle of gals of a certain age together, and the conversation is sure to turn towards crows feet, the old buzzards we live with and who's ruling the roost.

The cackling is always on the same topics: how to tame the frizzies, smooth the wrinkles, putty the pucker lines. Our birdbrain forgetfulness is bad enough, but to pass a mirror and wonder who that old hag with the sag is ... why, it can be plumb scary.

One woman said she had sent off for a brochure on a highly-publicized face lift. The TV commercial shows before and after pics: a woman with a neck wattle, then that same woman with a taut face and thin chin. In one photo she's the mom and the next she could be the daughter. Can you say, "Results may vary"? Mine would be the exception to the rule.

My friend said she was in the car headed for the consultation when she took out her reading glasses and put them over her bifocals to read the fine print on the brochure.

"They make an incison and insert a string. I'm not being a puppet; nobody's pulling my strings."

She was worried about someone yanking her string, but I was more worried about all of the what ifs: what if I smile too broadly and snap a string? Open my mouth too wide while brushing my teeth and snap the nylon, which may not be as strong as my dental floss? What if the knot came untied? What if they wrapped my excess neck flesh around each ear? They're wing nuts now.

No, as much as I'd like to have a firm flawless, face, I think I'll just have to live with this mug. The face creams fail me, the vertical lines above my hairy lip are deep enough to hide cookie crumbs ... oh did I tell you about going to St. Charles Old Town today and buying a dozen of Grandma's Cookies, those homemade, delicious, inch-thick snickerdoodles that melt in your mouth? I figure I'll, "Ooohh" and "ahhh" as I nibble, (alright, gobble) and pretend I'm doing facial isometrics. Heck, I've decided to just eat cookies until my lip lines plump.

Hmmm, now what was I talking about?

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Living in My Skin, Even if It's Purple, a Memoir

My friend and fellow writer, Debbie Fox, released her memoir. The underlying message, to embrace our differences, runs through every chapter like the port wine birthmark stain across Debbie's torso. This book is affirming, uplifting and frightening (she suffered paralysis during childbirth directly related to her birthmark). Please check out this wonderful memoir about her journey towards acceptance and her courage to face childrens' taunts and life's challenges.

by: Debbie Fox (Author)
ISBN: 0-7414-6748-8 ©2011
Price: $16.95
Book Size: 5.5'' x 8.5'' , 304 pages
Category/Subject: BIOGRAPHY & AUTOBIOGRAPHY / General

My grandson Nicholas, nine years old saw this book on the table. I explained that the author was my friend and she was born this way. His eyes lit up and he excitedly said, "WOW! Look at her. She must be very special."

I thought he was referencing special education.

I asked why he thought that, and he said, "Don't you know what happens right as you leave heaven to come to earth and be born? Look right here on the back of my thigh. I have a birthmark too. It's where the angels kissed me good-bye. Look at your friend. The angels must have really-really loved her and thought she was special, because look how big her birthmark is."

Tears sprang to my eyes and I hugged him. From the mind and mouth of a tender- hearted, football-playing, rough and tumble little boy, who is on Student Council and is an A student, came complete and total ACCEPTANCE of a stanger's looming birthmark that would frighten or at least confuse many children. I am so proud of this boy who is a ray of sunshine in my life and this world.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Need a writing prompt

I have decided that I can get writing prompts from listening to the police radio. This morning I heard this dispatch, "The man claims there is a strange man in his bed, and there is a gun on the floor beside the bed."

That is a story waiting to be written, isn't it?

The next dispatch was, "Cancel the call, we have the 87 year old female in custody."

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Learning with leaves

This week we are doing a unit on fall, using leaves as the theme. This poster board hangs on a door, and the children match letters. Working with hands up instead of on a flat surface strengthens the hand/thumb area, in preparation for holding a writing instrument.

First, stick a square of clear packaging tape on the letter on the branch, then roll duct tape and stick it to the back of each leaf letter. The children match and stick them on the clear tape for easy removal.

I also have a large Zip-loc bag of autumn, silk leaves, (you can print letters/numbers/shapes on each, or not).

I teach the children this song: Leaves-leaves, yellow and brown, leaves are falling down to the ground. Leaves-leaves orange and red, one leaf landed right... on... my... HEAD!

As they sing, I pour the leaves over them, and some actually land on their heads! The preschoolers squeal with delight. Once the leaves are all over the floor, the kids become leaf blowers. They lie on their tummy and BLOW the leaves into a pile in a designated area. Blowing strengthens mouth/jaw/lips/tongue muscles which aids in speech development.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Mr. Mom or just Dad?

Welcome to my new followers and sorry to my old buddies. Google is still gobbling my comments.

Two little boys were talking in the housekeeping area (kitchen) on old fashioned dial telephones that really work. When they pick up the receiver the children can speak to one another.

First boy: "What are you doing?"

Second boy: "I'm giving the baby a bottle."

First boy: "Oh great, now we'll never get to go out and play."

On a somewhat related note, we went to get our hair cut this evening and our hairdresser said to Bill, "So, were you a hands-on kind of dad when your kids were babies?"

Bill: "Oh yeah I was hands-on. I picked them up with my hands and handed them to their mother when they needed a diaper change."

I'll never forget, when Kyle, who is now 18 was a baby and hubby babysat. I came home to one frazzled grampy. The baby was wearing jammies that unsnapped half way down the legs.

"I'm sure glad you're home. This is a hazardous material situation and I can't get his legs out."

He handed him to me.

He was a great dad and he's a wonderful grandpa, but Mr. Mom he was not.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

We sold out!

Sheree Klemites Nielsen, Linda O'Connell, Faye Adams, (seated) contributing writers published in Nurturing Paws, an anthology edited by Lynn C. Johnston, published by Whispering Angel Press SOLD OUT of books in two hours, at indepenedent bookstore, Main Street Books in St. Charles, MO. Vicki Erwin, Propietor.

We had a blast. Diane Peters from CHAMP brought a mild-mannered service assistance dog who acted as our "mascot" or perhaps magnet. When I think of service dogs, I imgaine golden retrievers or labs, not a full size black poodle wearing a Cardinal baseball cap, and Cardinal's bandana around his neck.

Sales were slow at first, but after noon, the streets of this quaint, little, historic river town filled with shoppers and diners and book lovers. I gave away little stuffed Ty dogs to some of the children and even an adult or two.

Imagine peering into the open door of a book store and coming nose to nose with a real dog. Lots of kiddos tugged their parents' hands. Well you know how it is, babies and puppies upstage everything. We loved it! Thanks to everyone who came out to support us, especially Lynn and Teri and Gabe.

I am having blog problems and still cannot post on some of your blogs.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Bad Blogger! Settle down.

I am not ignoring you.

Blogger is kicking me off most blogs. I write a response and suddenly Blogger gobbles it up and it disappears. This has been happening for a few days. I read all of you on my list, but am unable to post, Sorry.

Hope this gets resolved. I've heard from others that they ahd the same problem last week. Hope it gets resolved soon.