Stories about travel, life, writing and parenting my college-age children (who think they don't need any more parenting). Oh! And the occasional amazing photograph (I like to play pro photographer on vacations.)
I apologize! I've been a bit remiss in formally accepting and thanking a few of my fellow blogging writer mamas for presenting me with the Sunshine Blog Award. Just the right Rx for me this time of year!
The Sunshine Award is presented to bloggers whose positivity and creativity inspires others in the blog world. (Awww, shucks!) I was blessed to receive this award from three different bloggers within a few weeks of each other.
First, I'd like to thank to my friend Vivianne from Vivianne's Vista. Vivianne is a talented writer who walked away from an abusive marriage, experienced the life of a single mom and has just recently remarried. She has a very powerful and descriptive writing style that is sure to draw you in.
I would also like to thank Meagan Frank. Her blog is What the Blog is Going On Around Here? Meagan is an extremely prolific and perceptive writer who blogs about life experiences that cause her to grow as a wife, writer and mother.
And finally, I received this award from a lovely writer I've only recently discovered, Lisa Lawmaster Hess. Her blog is The Porch Swing Chronicles. Lisa is an author of two books in the educational market: Diverse Divorce, stories for use with children of divorce, and Acting Assertively, an assertiveness program for children in grades 4-8.
Now the rules of this award state that I'm supposed to pass it on to ten other blogs. But I'm breaking the rules. Yup, that's me, I'm a radical! I'm paying it forward to three blogs I really enjoy reading and encourage you all to visit.
I'm officially passing the Sunshine Award onto…
C. Hope Clark, who puts out the awesome Funds for Writers newsletter, she's got a great post on her site right now about the future of the publishing industry. Be SURE to watch the Youtube video link she has included in the post. Watch the full 2:26 minutes of it for the full effect!
Linda Formicelli's The Renegade Writer blog is excellent as well. She is co-author of the book by the same name. I've gotten some really helpful writing info from her blog and teleconferences and I'm saving up to take some of her online writing classes. She's awesome!
And I encourage you to visit Kristine Meldrum Denholm's blog, Stories of life: One writer mom's odyssey. Her blog is always chock full of great advice as well as terrific interviews with a variety authors. I'm always encouraged in my writing after a visit to her blog.
That's it for now, folks. Have an excellent "sunshiny" weekend everyone!
Sometimes our beloved children do things they shouldn't or don't do things they should and we have to…you know, discipline them. When they're little, this may mean something along the lines of a timeout. When they're older it may mean the removal of certain privileges.
Now as every parent knows, disciplining our children often causes the parent as much or more pain than it does the child. It's tough to witness our kids crying or feeling bad, even though we know it's for their own good. Even though we're helping them become better people and responsible members of society.
Well, recently my hubs and I had to take disciplinary action on our son, and I've got to tell you, (come a little closer, I need to whisper…) I actually enjoyed it. See, for the first time in his 15-year-old life, we decided his punishment required taking away his electronics.
I won't go into details out of respect for my boy, but in order to help him "become a better person" we took it all away for a few days. I'm talking no cell phone, no computer (except for homework), no X-Box, no iPod and no T.V.
The first morning after this disciplinary tactic was implemented I came downstairs to find him sitting at the dining room table staring into space. He still had 20 minutes remaining before he left for school.
My question was met with an arched brow and a long look.
"Oh yeah, I forgot. Well, you could read your Language Arts book."
Another arched brow.
Unfortunately my love-of-getting-lost-in-books gene was not passed onto my son. Instead, he started talking to me. He talked to me the entire time till he left for school.
When he came home that afternoon, he immediately completed his homework, cleaned his room, and then talked to me some more. He shared interesting tidbits from his day and funny stories. He was his delightful old self from younger years, that talkative kid who barely took a breath between sentences. He used to talk so much that I would find myself guiltily daydreaming, missing something he'd just said, while he chattered on. Of course he still talks with me, even when he does have all his electronic distractions, but I hadn't realized how much we'd digressed from our more frequent conversations and sharing until now.
It was an epiphany. And I suddenly had a brilliant idea.
I've been dreading our daughter heading off to college in the fall. I'm excited for her sake, but I'll miss her so much and the house will be too quiet without her gabby, laughing, joyful presence. I was thinking about this when Josh suddenly grinned his impish, dimpled grin at me and said, "Tomorrow!"
"I get my stuff back," he said with an appalled look on his face like, how could I forget such a momentous occasion.
"Oh." I hesitated. "You know, Josh, I've been thinkin'."
"Yeah. See, I've really enjoyed this no electronics thing. How we're talking more, sharing more. It's been great. And with Ashleigh leaving for college in the fall, it's gonna be awful quiet around here."
"So, I've been thinking that maybe we'll have these no electronics days a LOT more often, like every week or so."
He looked at me. His mouth sort of hung open and his beautiful baby browns got really large in his face. He didn't say a word, but little indistinguishable sounds issued from somewhere deep inside. "B…ne….you…"
Hmmm, perhaps he wasn't thinking what I was thinking. I smiled and patted his arm, "Don't worry, it was just a thought."
He let out a puff of air. "Don't do that to me mom, I thought you were serious! You were just kidding, right?"
Occasionally friends have ribbed me for some of the parenting rules my hubs and I have established with our kids.
One that comes to mind at the moment is our "Odd-man-in Rule." Before our kids were old enough to date, whenever they got together with a boy-girl mix of friends, it had to be an uneven ratio of boys to girls. We did this to discourage pairing up—the whole double/triple date mentality.
Another policy we have is our "Movie Ratings Rule." I mentioned this in previous posts, but essentially, we didn't allow our kids to watch PG movies until they were nine, and PG-13 movies until they were 13. We figured it was pretty obvious what the "13" was for. (However, I think the rating system could benefit from adding even more levels in there.)
So while having breakfast with friends one morning, when I casually mentioned my daughter and I had watched an R-rated movie together, there were guffaws around the table. "What?!" "Ooooh! Holly, let her kid watch an R-rated movie?" "What happened to your infamous rules?"
Well the fact is, she IS eighteen now. Thus, the rules are changing. The balance of power is shifting—has shifted.
As parents of infants and toddlers, we start out in total control. We set all the rules: when and what they eat, what they wear, what they watch on T.V. The balance of power is clearly tipped in our favor. Then, they grow and start to develop definite opinions, along with the ability to say "no," and we see the first hint of necessary shifts in that balance.
We begin to offer limited choices: Would you like to wear the blue top or the red one? Would you like cereal for breakfast or waffles? And eventually, "What are you making mommy for breakfast this morning, sweetheart? (Yeah, in my dreams!) Eventually, the shift takes on a more definitive form. But we all parent differently, so how and when that shift takes place varies among parents. Opposite ends of the parenting spectrum I've personally witnessed:
No pierced ears on daughters until age 12.
No problem piercing sons' ears in preschool.
Only G-rated movies until age 9.
R-rated movies are fine starting in kindergarten.
No dating. Period.
Dating starting in fifth grade is fine.
It's easy for one set of parents to shake their heads and judge another, thinking "Would you look at that? They're doing it wrong." But ultimately, we're each responsible for parenting our own children with the goal being that by the time our kids reach adulthood, the balance of power has shifted completely over to their side.
It's a tough lesson to learn (well, at least for me!) as I watch my 18-year-old make decisions that will affect her future career, her life. When she's sharing her thoughts on a particular topic, I occasionally have to bite my tongue, nod, and just listen to what she has to say. There are other times though, when I can tell she wishes we'd make a certain decision for her. Instead we offer our input and advice, making it clear that the decision is entirely hers. It's definitely not an easy clear-cut process this shifting in the balance of power. It's a little scary for both parties. But regardless, the balance of power will shift. Must shift. And hopefully…we're not doing it wrong.
I read a story a few weeks back about a school district in California pulling all copies of Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary from its libraries because a parent complained the dictionary was being used to look up "age inappropriate" words by students. When I read this story I literally laughed out loud.
Banning the dictionary? Really?
Let me start by saying, I'm all for keeping things age appropriate. When our kids were younger, we were some of those weird parents who didn't let their kids watch PG movies until the age of 9 and PG-13 movies until they actually were thirteen (and even then some got a thumbs-down vote from us). We currently have filtering software on our computer to block out the creepy porn stuff. And I'm all for parents monitoring book selections for their children. When my daughter's voracious reading appetite moved into chapter books, I reviewed her choices. (Let me tell you this was no easy task with a girl who reads about five times faster than I do. I'm NOT exaggerating!) And yes, there are certain books and authors you'd never catch me reading in a million years. But we live in America!
Being aware of what our children are reading and keeping things age appropriate, sure thing. But to go so far as to ban a book? And the dictionary? Uh-uh.
This story piqued my interest so much, I thought it might be interesting to take a look at other books which have been banned in the U.S.A. I knew about some of them, but several books on the list surprised me! Here's just a sampling…
1984 by George Orwell A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle Canterbury Tales by Chaucer Catch-22 by Joseph Heller Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller Flowers For Algernon by Daniel Keyes From Here to Eternity by James Jones Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone by J.K. Rowling Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J.K. Rowling Harry Potter and the Prizoner of Azkaban by J.K. Rowling Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J.K. Rowling I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou Little Red Riding Hood by Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm Lord of the Flies by William Golding My Friend Flicka by Mary O'Hara Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck Sylvester and the Magic Pebble by William Steig The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald The Lorax by Dr. Seuss The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien The Merchant of Venice by William Shakespeare To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee Twelfth Night by William Shakespeare Ulysses by James Joyce Uncle Tom's Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe
So, I guess now we're potentially adding Merriam Webster's Collegiate Dictionary to the list. As a side note, I just shared this story with my 18-year-old daughter. She blinked once, then said, "you know, there's the Internet for looking that stuff up as well."
"The books that the world calls immoral are the books that show the world its own shame." ~ Oscar Wilde ~
I've always believed my kids should do their own school projects, even back when they were in elementary school and had their very first "projects": Write three sentences about snow and glue cotton balls into a snowman shape at the bottom of the page. (I mean, you could always tell which children's parents had made the snowmen for them.) Over the years, I've helped a little, but not loads. And with my kids now in high school you'd think I'd be pretty much out of the "helping with class projects" picture, wouldn't you?
The other day, my son was assigned a project that was due in two days: Make a Central or South American dish for Spanish class, and it couldn't be something easy like guacamole or salsa.
I was in a hurry when he explained it. We Googled "easy Honduran recipes" in honor of his uncle, (my youngest brother was adopted from there) and pulled up a recipe for "buñelos," featuring ingredients I had on hand. Score!
Josh came home the next day with lots of homework: a math packet to complete, a science test to study for, 45 pages of a book to read, a Spanish worksheet to finish, and…buñelos to make. After dinner, I left him to mix the ingredients. After much clattering of the silverware drawer, other drawers and several dramatic sighs, I finally caved and helped.
I watched as he s-l-o-w-ly scooped flour into the measuring cup.
"How much flour do you need?"
SIX CUPS! I looked dubiously at my flour container, then mentally added flour to my grocery list.
Over the next hour, he painstakingly measured in the remaining ingredients. "We're out of salt now," he said when I came back to check on him.
Add salt to the grocery list.
"Um, mom I still need to finish the rest of my homework." He looked worried; it was now 7:45 p.m.
"Okay," I sighed. "I'll help."
The dough was sticky and jammed my beaters. When I tried to clear them, dough spattered the walls, the countertop, the dog and me. Grrr! He'd doubled the recipe to make enough for every kid. So after cleaning the mess, I formed 40 round balls of dough.
Next step: let sit for 30 minutes.30 MINUTES! It was already 8:45 p.m. Fabulous. So they sat. I stared at them while they sat. They didn't do anything interesting.
Sitting allows the buñelos to dry out so they don't absorb too much oil.
What do they mean, "too much of the oil"? I look at the recipe again.
Pour oil, 1" thick into the bottom of a pan and heat.
Oh. My. Gosh! This is DEEP FRYING!
"Josh, can you bring me the fire extinguisher?"
He carried it into the kitchen. "Mom, you know you can't use this on an oil fire, right?"
"Of course I know that!" How come my 15-year-old knows this and I don't?
"Okay," he says calmly, and leaves the kitchen to finish his homework.
I dumped the entire bottle of oil into the pan, (add oil to the shopping list) said a prayer, and heated it.
Roll each ball flat.
I do this. The end result is this thin, circle-shaped blob. I eased it into the hot oil, suddenly realizing I could only cook one of these babies at a time. I looked at the remaining 39 balls of dough.
"Yo Josh, how's that homework coming?"
"I've got another 30 pages."
Now it's my turn to sigh dramatically.
As it cooked, I noticed something else. "Hey, this is an Elephant Ear! Why didn't the bloomin' recipe say it was an Elephant Ear, maybe we'd have picked something else!" I grumbled.
As each Elephant—er, I mean buñelo came out of the pan I placed it on paper towels to drain, sprinkling both sides with cinnamon sugar.
At 10:15 p.m. Josh entered the kitchen, his eyes were drooping. "What should I do?"
As much as I wanted to, I couldn't make him do it. He was obviously exhausted.
"You have to cook at least one," the mom-making-her-kid-do-his-own-homework-in-me said.
"Okay." He did it with a yawn.
"Go to bed, buddy. I'll finish."
A little after midnight, the buñelos were cooled and packaged for school.