A blog about the amazing things teenagers do, about writing for teens, books for teens, and occasional forays into my world and the world of publishing.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Thank You Teachers

I've kind of fallen off the wagon as far as my thirty day blog experiment goes. I posted on Monday this week, but didn't write any posts Tuesday-Thursday. My simple (and not very good) excuse is, I was working.

It's been a while since I worked a non-mommy, non-writer, job a five full days in a row. It's been even longer since I worked at the same place for a full week. Doing that and then trying to handle anything writing related plus kid running around and church stuff left me totally exhausted. (And forget housework, cooking, or laundry, that just was not happening.)

I am in awe of any one who can write and hold down a another job. And any mom who works outside the home period. And especially working moms. There is a big cushy restful place in heaven for you.

I was working as a para-educator sub so I saw (as I have been seeing) the immense dedication and the huge amount of work that teachers (para-educators included) put in every single day. I was reminded of the huge amounts of  patience and love it takes to be a teacher. Wow.

Today is teacher appreciation day. I wanted to say a big thank you to all the teachers out there, the ones who inspired me, the ones who inspire my kids, and the ones who inspire kids all across our country. You guys deserve so much more appreciation and money and everything else.

It's sad that we live in such a backwards society; one that pays actors and athletes and politicians so much more that we pay the people shaping our future.

And while it's on my mind, thank you to some of my favorite teachers; Mrs. Reeves for being my first ever real teacher (kindergarten), Mrs. Kershaw, for just being a wonderfuly kind person, Mr. Peterson for making me feel like a grown up in sixth grade, Mr. Cook for appreciating my first poetry attempts, Mr. Angel for teaching me to be responsible and take pride in my work, Mrs. Mason for being tough and helping me with a subject I never liked, math, Ms. Leiniger for believing in me, teaching me to believe in myself, and opening my eyes to a wider world, Mr. Turnblom for teaching me to love music and understanding when I chose writing instead, Brother Johnson and Brother Thurgood for making me laugh and feeding my spirit, MS. WARNE, capitalized because she introduced me to great literature and the joy of writing, and because she put up with the most obnoxious all-girls yearbook staff ever. Also college professors, Kay Wilkins, Alan Bosard, and Bob Sink for introducing me to a world of stories and video that expanded my horizons in a direction I didn't know possible.

I know I've forgotten some (probably many), and I know I could fill another page with teachers who have inspired my children, but I'll save that for another day. 

For today I'll just send a grossly inadequate THANK YOU to all teachers for the love and dedication you show every day in the classroom!

Monday, May 6, 2013

Childhood's End?

When I got home today I was greeted by all four of my kid in swimsuits, jumping on the trampoline and shooting each other with water guns. I don't know how long it's been since I saw that. It kind of made my heart melt a little. 

Today was hot. Like 87 degrees hot. For Western Washington in May, that's almost unheard of. Actually it's almost unheard of for June through mid-July here. I guess it got all of us thinking about summer and what is to come. Seeing them all play together for the first time in a long time also got me thinking about how fast my world is changing.

In October of 2012 I sat down with my family to watch General Conference for our church. (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the Mormons) General Conference is where our leaders from all over the world come to Salt Lake and hold a big meeting where many of them speak and give uplifting messages and council. This conference is broadcast all over the world and is absolutely my favorite Sunday of the year.

On that day, the man who we consider our prophet and the president of our church, Thomas S. Monson had an important announcement. He said that the missionary age for young men in our church was being changed from 19 to 18 and that the missionary age for young women was being changed from 21 to 19. I sat there stunned, with tears running down my cheeks. This announcement meant my son would be able to leave on his mission a year sooner.

I am so happy and proud that he wants to serve a mission. I am happy and proud that he wants to go as soon as he can, but ever since that day in October a clock has been ticking in my brain--eighteen months, seventeen months, sixteen months, and so on.

When I saw my little boy, my big seventeen year old little boy jumping on the trampoline in a swimsuit with his younger brothers and his sister I was again reminded of how many months we have left until my little family is no longer all living under the same roof.

It made me sad, but it also made me think about how often I let the little moments pass me by.

Later, when the kids decided to have dinner outside on the picnic table to enjoy the last bits of this beautiful day I sat with them, and I lingered. And I let myself forget about the messy house and the dishes and the laundry that needed to be done. I just enjoyed a moment with my kids and I hoped for many more.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Hard Truths I'm Learning

1. You can only motivate or change yourself, and sometimes even that's too hard to do. (Set goals and change for the better anyway.)

2. You can only control the amount of effort, time, creativity, and learning you put into a project. You can't control how other people will react to it. (Put the time and effort into it anyway.)

3. Ultimately you can't fully protect yourself or your family from anything. You can only prepare yourselves and them and then be there when they need you. (Be prepared for anything.)

4.  No matter how hard you work, you will make mistakes. (Forgive yourself)

5. People you love will make mistakes. (Forgive them.)

5. People you love will hurt you. (Love them anyway.)

Thursday, May 2, 2013

What Motivates You?

As I write this, I'm sitting next to my 8-year-old son as he does his homework. This is generally a chore for both of us, because he has a tendency to get distracted. Tonight, in a stroke of genius, I decided to use a bag of chocolate chips as motivation. He does a math problem or writes down a word and then he gets a chocolate chip. It's been amazingly effective to keep him on task. (Except for a few minutes when he lined up the red chocolate chips against the brown chocolate chips and decided to have a war.)

Earlier this week a group of my Class of 2k12 peeps and I decided that we needed motivation  to get back into shape. So we started a "biggest loser" competition. (You can see where sitting next to my son, motivating him with chocolate chips might be an issue for that.)

If you've been following my blog, you know that I'm working towards running a marathon. So yeah, motivation has been on my mind.

I've thought a lot about what motivates me as a writer, (and a runner, and a mom, and really just a person.) For a long time I thought that selling a book and therefore deadlines and money would keep me motivated to write. It turns out I was almost less motivated by those things than I thought I would be. I was almost more motivated by a simple statement by my niece, "write faster" as she was reading my first attempt at a novel.

In his on-line article by that name, Michael Hauge says "The Number One Quality of Successful Writers"   is tenacity. I agree with this. The ability to just keep moving forward is huge. It may be the biggest thing that separate champions in whatever from the rest of us. So how do you come up with the motivation that supports the tenacity to succeed?

I'm afraid I can't answer that for anyone but me. (And sometimes not even for me.) I'll I can say is find it. Keep moving forward. Keep making it real.

If all else fails, try chocolate.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Dumb Things I Do for My Kids

This morning I found myself blow-drying a pair of jeans at 5:30 AM while my husband walked around the yard in his pajamas, checking the bushes and behind the shed to make sure our seventeen-year-old son could make it from the house to his car without being shot by a Nerf dart. (long story involving a slow dryer and an on-going game)

Sadly, I don't think these are even the weirdest things we've done for our kids.

I'm pretty sure most moms would take a bullet for their kid, and all of them went through some kind of agony to get them here in the first place, but it's the daily, crazy, not-really-life-or-death-but-still-vitally-important-in-their-world things we do that show how much we love them.(Or how insane we are.)

Like the times when we drop everything and go running to the school to answer the inevitable call, "Mom, I forgot my ________ (lunch money, homework, 2 dozen chocolate dinosaur-shaped cupcakes, permission slip, $50 for the yearbook and it has to be in today or I won't get one and you wouldn't want me to forget my entire freshman year would you?). Oh, and by-the-way I told them you could chaperone yet another field trip to the state capital. (After four kids, cub scouts and Exchange Students I'm pretty sure I could give the entire tour verbatim by now.)

It's the late-nights we spend gluing foam balls on a piece of poster-board for science fair projects. It's the elephant costumes and hot-dog pinewood derby cars we allow ourselves to get talked into trying to create even though we lack sewing, carving, and any other artistic skills. (The hotdog car won by the way.)

It's the pets we feed and clean up after when our kids forget about or out-grow them in spite of the, "I absolutely swear, sealed with a kiss, ten things I will do every single day if you let me have a guinea pig" list that you found posted on your bedroom door three years ago.

It's the dress up like a princess, Lego space-ship, sleep-over with fourteen of your closest (and apparently loudest) friends, lengths we go to in order to appear to as a hero in our kid's eyes or to make their lives just a little bit easier, sweeter, or more fun.

It's being a parent. Yes, sometimes it's a bit insane. (I'm still waiting for the moment when my kids fall at my feet and thank me for the Halo costume that took me weeks to create and was abandoned for something out of the dress-up trunk on the way out to go trick or treating.)

But it's never boring.