Wednesday, March 30, 2011

The News Keeps Spreading...Oprah?

So the idea of getting to sit on Oprah's couch is probably not too realistic, but I am happy about the buzz so far generated about Just Moms. Elizabeth Esther gave us a great review, we've got some people of note working on future reviews, and blogs are spreading around the news!

My books came in the mail on Saturday. On my shelf sits seven pristine copies. One has my signature and a message to my husband, at his insistence. The others are waiting to take to future book readings and events for readers to purchase. My husband has yet to read my book. He's read bits of it, but I think I'm most excited to hear his opinion on it as a whole. Maybe actually more excited than even the most notable of noteworthy critiques. I've always valued my husband opinion highly and look to him for honest critique and encouragement.

The other day after library story time at my local library the librarian asked me to sign a copy of Just Moms. I got all nervous. I've never given out my signature. How should I do it? I included the D in the middle, like I always do, but at the last minute I put the Schneiter below my first name...which my sister said she wouldn't have done. See how much I over think even the little things? Next time I'll keep my name all on the same line.

This Friday I'm meeting Melanie, my co-editor/writer, and we are planning for our first book reading and our Facebook page!

I'm really glad that it is not over. I have loved the work I've spent on this project over the last three year, yep...three years, and I would hate to see it be all over once the book went to print. I have loved working with Melanie and am glad we did it together. We really were the perfect compliment for each other. I never knew she'd be the perfect writing fit for me on this project...but she really was.

And just like Melanie was the perfect fit as a co-editor, each of our writers and their stories fit perfectly to create a whole story...a whole way of parenting and looking at the world.

Nancy Thomas is one of our writer who helped compliment the message of our book. She does a great job describing some of the essays in the book and her own.

Another one of our writer's worth reading more about is Jan Pierce.

Pst, I thought you'd all like to see what books I place on my top shelf? My top shelf is where I put my favorites, just the best of the best....many of the book listed to the right of my blog. But since I am no longer a young reader, my top shelf is turning in to two top shelves, you'll notice Just Moms is on the 2nd shelf along with some other great reads like Wild Swans.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Tantrums: Don't Give Me Those Looks

I have to go through it all over again: the stares, glares, and judgmental looks. It happened last week at Target when I was getting those monthly basics such as toilet paper, shampoo, and toothpaste. My youngest threw four enormous fits for all to see, hear, and appreciate. You’d think due to my veteran-mom-status, I’d be able to let those looks bounce right off me, but I really don’t handle getting them very well. I may look unaffected on the outside, but inside, well…

On our last shopping trip, I noticed that most of the people who found my child so irritating and my mothering so despicable were a tad older and had definitely been away from the early mothering years for a while. Maybe they had never been in the two-year-old trenches, ever. Still, this didn’t make their judgments any easier.

Their looks said, “Wow, your child is a brat. You need to be a better parent. Then none of this would happen. It is because of parents like you that our schools, our society, are falling apart. You are the reason I may not get my social security!”

And my non-verbal response, “Hey, the reason he’s throwing these fits is because I’m actually not letting him have his way! I’m actually parenting him, and I’m brave enough to tell him no in public, so there!”

See, I could make two parenting choices during this intense period of inevitable power struggles, my youngest son turned two in February, so I figure I have another 11 months or so to enjoy these rages. One option, I could choose to go nowhere. I could keep our child at home at all cost. But that would teach him nothing. And I would probably shrivel up and die from not getting enough social time. Option two: when we do go out I could let him have whatever he wants! I could have let him get all five stuffed toys that he swiped off the shelves, located for some reason, next to the toilet paper aisle. Thank you marketing experts! Or I could have let him run all around the store, not make him sit in the cart. Or why not let him have that pack of fish crackers, sugary treats shaped like helicopters, or cheap dollar bin items that caught his fancy at the check-out stand. If anyone should receive the glares of condemnation, it should be the management responsible for placing all these treasures at my son’s eye-level and of course, located in check-out when we are forced to wait in line behind other shoppers, giving my youngest lots of time to evaluate all the material pleasures.

No Good Samaritans emerged. No one let me go ahead of them in line. No one said, “Wow, you are an amazing mom. You have three young boys, you take them shopping, you teach them to resist impulse shopping, and you tell them no, swallowing a little pride while they flail on the floor in rage.”

Nope, no one said that. Instead they looked at me as if I was ruining their day. Actually their looks were eerily similar to the looks my sons give me when I don’t let them get what they want either. And their looks mirrored my own heart’s gut reaction to their evil-eye. Which led me to conclude that many adults aren’t much further along than my young son, they (me) are just better at reigning in the primal instincts and masking them a bit as indignation, irritation, and frustration.

Friday, March 25, 2011

A Positive Review

We approached Elizabeth Esther about reading an advanced copy of our book, Just Moms, and doing a review on her blog. She writes a column for the Orange Country Register, has written numerous freelance articles, has a large blog following, and has even had her say on Fox News. All this to say, she is someone of note, and if she gave us a positive review....well, this could be a very good thing!

Of course, she made it very clear that we were taking a risk because she never promises positive reviews. We did a little more research, reading her blog, and decided to take the plunge and send her a copy.

Today was the day she promised to post. I woke up excited and nervous. It was like the morning after a final audition...checking the posted paper sheet outside the auditorium to see if your name was on the list, on the list and next to the part you really wanted. And I am still experiencing that feeling of giddy high since she gave us a great review! High compliments.

The most humbling comment she made about our book and the contributing writers was, "I couldn’t help but admire these beautiful women for their passionate gentleness, profound kindness and deep self-awareness. These are the kind of mothers who are being the change they want to see in our world."

I hope you go visit her site and give her review a complete read.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Yes, I Get A Spring Break

I know I'm lucky. My husband is a teacher, and so spring break is something to be seized in our house. We are all together, the whole week. One year we decided to not go anywhere and just work on projects around the house: mistake. The week went, the rains poured down in true Oregon fashion and before we knew it we were back to the grind.

So, we always try and go somewhere, even if it is just for a night or two. Last year we went into the city, Portland: rode the Max, went to OMSI, ate at Ikea, visited the zoo, and swam in the hotel pool.

There is something magical and exciting about a hotel and a pool for our boys, the ages they are at.

This break we got away and went to Seaside. I hadn't been there in 10 years. And it was perfect. What a great beach town to take kids to. The bonus is that there is much to do there even if it is raining...which is often the case on the Oregon coast. All the activities are covered. I also love the "party" feel that is there. It almost doesn't seem like it should be in Oregon, but it is.

It was worth the longer drive. Other coast towns, like Newport and Lincoln City take half the travel time. It took us a solid three hours.

(The photo showing the feet was taken by me right before I got sick on the Tilt A Whirl.)

Friday, March 18, 2011

The Virus: Friday Photo

Here is how my son spent his 6th birthday...notice the birthday balloon?

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

The Virus

I knew I was taunting the virus spirits, and I knew they'd take me down, but I went ahead and bragged about how healthy we'd all been this last year....chalking it up to our strong immune systems since we survived the swine flu last year.

The Virus was mean. It came for my son's 6th birthday. He was out. He got a little sick on Thursday night, but then rebounded...or just faked it for his party on Saturday. Maybe the Virus did that on purpose so he could infect other kids and other families...which he did.

It completely knocked him out on Sunday night until the following Sunday morning. On his actually birthday, he pushed himself to wake up for the grandparents and even changed in to some "handsome" clothes to open a few presents. (PJ's 24/7) Then it was back to the couch and the confusion of the fever.

I really am not a fan of fevers. They make me nervous.

My husband fought it off for a day and the other two boys had a night and day of the Virus. But my oldest suffered the most. He is finally back to school, but still a bit weak. He crashes at the end of each day and goes to bed with little persuasion. He's out in minutes.

The time change hasn't helped.

Next time I'm feeling invincible, I'll keep my mouth shut. (Like right now....I seem to be the only one who wasn't taken down....)

Monday, March 14, 2011

A Must Have: Raising Confident Readers

Stop buying workbooks and computer programs to get your kids ready to read, just buy Raising Confident Readers by Dr. J. Richard Gentry, or at least check this book out at your local library. I'm leaning toward buying it since I would love to have it on my shelf to pull out as a reference from time to time.

Here is a statistic from the book that was eye-opening to me, "Babies and toddlers in professional families heard a staggering 45 million words, compared to 26 million in working-class families and a meager 13 million for welfare children. Children who interacted with a greater volume of conversation in the first three years of life and with more word and sentence variety developed much larger vocabularies than those who interacted with a smaller volume of conversation and less word and sentence variety. By 3rd grade, the children with robust early word exposure had higher IQs and were better readers, writers, and spellers." (TV does not count as it is a passive activity and not active.)

If you are a mom who sees part of her role as getting her children ready to learn at school, then this is the book for you. And, if you are a mom who homeschools, this is also a must! This book lays the foundation for getting kids reading ready, properly! I think we moms sometimes do more damage than good when we try and be "good moms" and prepare our kids for school, in non-age appropriate ways.

There are currently 21 sticky tabs sticking out of this book...I could have tabbed a lot more.

The first thing that made me smile while reading this book was realizing what an expert teacher my sons has for kindergarten. She's doing everything right and well! My son has a rich literary environment in his classroom, and I'm seeing his love for reading grow and be encouraged. On the bulletin board across the hall from his room she puts their writing work on display. A parent might think, "Wow, these kid are terrible spellers," but an informed parent realizes that young readers need to write phonetically and that writer/readers who do this have a greater awareness of reading and sounds and in the end become better readers and spellers.

Of course, it is important to read to children from the very beginning. I love how my son's teacher balances her phonetic program (Reading Mastery) with a more literature based approach and incorporates site words and picture clues into their reading toolbox. She has Rigby Readers in the classroom and tracks their progress through these books systematically. Children, at the level that my son is at (roughly 1st grade), should be reading books on their own repetitively until they have the books fluid and mastered, almost memorized.

Raising Confident Readers
identifies 4 phases a child should be in between birth to age 7, but if your child is older than 7 but struggles to read, then they may still be in one of these phases and the books is very appropriate for you and your child.

There is a test to give your child to help you evaluate their phase, and then there are activities and books to experience with your child based on their stage of development. My oldest is somewhere between Phase 3 and Phase 4. My middle son is somewhere in Phase 1, and my youngest is definitely in Phase 0. :)

Here are books to expose your child to if they are in Phase 4:

easy chapter books
information books
story books
folk tales

Materials for writing and book making:
variety of paper, pencils, markers, and crayons; glue, tape, scissors, stapler, and construction paper

Materials for Word Games:
letter tiles, magnetic letters, magnetic boards

Activities and Technique for Phase 4

"Reading With-Your-Child" (This is where you echo their reading and read over their voice to help them read and anticipate the next word.)
Read-alouds and story retellings
Sight-word collections
Word Games
Kid writing
Hand spelling, with sign language
Making words with tiles
Spelling sight words correctly from memory

Here is a quote from the book, "Children do not have to be reading independently before entering school, but they do have to be prepared for success with reading. Children who enter kindergarten without a cultural heritage enlightened by literature or with no exposure to the tools of literacy---books, paper, pens, and in the twenty-first century, even digital literacy apparatus---are not well prepared. Children who have no appreciation for story telling, no knowledge of the letters of the alphabet, and no beginning awareness of the sounds in words are not well prepared for learning to read through formal instruction in school. These children are at risk for failure with reading and that failure can impact the rest of their lives."

"Every parent should raise a confident reader."

(There is also a section on rewiring your child's brain if you suspect dyslexia, loved that section.)

Thursday, March 10, 2011

The Joy of Social Networking: Book Release

Yesterday was a crazy day for me. Totally exciting! Wow, it would not have been nearly as exciting without all the FB congrats and blog reactions. So, now I am thinking that if I had been published before all this social networking, a release could have been a very quiet

If you missed yesterday's excitement, the book I've been working on since 2008 is now available to order and will be released on April 4th!

Two of our contributing author's wrote initial blog reactions, and I loved the raw excitment present in each one of them.

Marilee Jolin got an extra surprise and found that her essay was featured on Barclay Press' site as a sample from the anthology. And even though I've read her essay zillions of times, she hadn't read it since the last time she submitted it for final acceptance by Melanie and me. Reading something you wrote, after time has passed, is a strange experience. Especially when their piece is reflective and so much has change in the writer both on the inside and out. Marilee does a good job describing that, and reading her words would be worth your time.

The other writer, Jen Rouse, is a published writer in newspapers and periodicals. She is a very talented writer, but this is her first book to be in! I love her blog post about this big moment in any writer's life.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Just Moms! It Is Here! Someone Pinch Me!

During my morning emailing routine I was greeted by a lovely email from Barclay Press announcing the release of the book I've been keeping you all updated on....Just Moms: Conveying Justice in an Unjust World.

I've been getting nothing done today, regarding my house and children, instead I've been online spreading the word!

So, you all are next on my list of people to share with.

Here is one endorsement we received:

Not just moms, but dads and kids and teachers and church folk—all
pushed to “the places parenthood pushes us.” We need these honest
moms and their tales of trying to teach justice in an unjust world.
We need to listen as they debate their own choices to work outside
the home or not, to go to church each week or not, to pray out loud
for the runt, to buy Happy Meals, to use the dishwasher, to live in
white suburbs, and to place their ideals up against everyday
disappointments and grace.

-Julia Spicher Kasdorf
-University Park, Pennsylvania
-Associate Professor of English and Women’s Studies
at Penn State; poet; author

You can follow the link in this post and read the introduction and a sample chapter, plus see of listing of all the contributing authors!

You can also place an order to receive a copy by April 5th. Just in time for Mother's Day!

Spread the word! If you post something about this book on one of your blogs, I'd love to read let me know!

Monday, March 7, 2011

Remember That Snow?

Well, it wasn't that long ago that we got a late winter snow? Right? As ridiculous as Oregonians are for cancelling school due to snow, I do get it. For selfish, childlike reasons. It is an excuse to play in something that is a rare occurrence. And most of the time my husband's school gets canceled too. So we get a spontaneous family day.

Here are some shots from our walk through the woods, not so long ago.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Too Much

It is one of those marathon weeks for me. Way too much to do and not enough time to get it all done. I have newsletters to write, columns that need to be submitted, drafts that need editing, a house that needs cleaning, kids who need attention, a husband who needs some of me because of all that a much more not mention, my blogging is going to have to wait.