Friday, November 30, 2007

My Ode to Ello - another sing along

For Ello’s ode I chose a song parody of Friday, I’m in Love by The Cure... If you’re unfamiliar, or would just like to hear it again, you can find a you tube video Here

So let’s start our sing along and please make certain to add your own British accent:

Ode to Ello

Ello has a blog, it’s true
Where she talks of writing, too
A story or a book review
At Ello’s, it’s great stuff.

She will let you play a part
Story building it’s an art
With lovely quips, she’s such a tart
At Ello’s, it’s great stuff.

Can’t hardly wait
To read more thoughts her kids create
Of boogers that a driver ate...

She worked at the morgue in fact
Gross there had a sandwich – ack!
For her smell she got some flack
At Ello’s it’s great stuff.

Law school gave her quite a head
Copyrights and what they said
She gets the things we writers dread
At Ello’s, it’s great stuff.

Can’t hardly wait
To read more thoughts her kids create
Of boogers that a driver ate...

Well, that’s about it for our ode, but I hope you all enjoyed it! If you haven’t yet visited Ello’s blog, it’s fabulous!!! Great writing discussions and interactive story building, plus she’s just really cool and fun – and did I mention smart? Ello’s posts will make you think as much as they will make you laugh. Add her to your, ‘must read’ list – she’s on mine. Okay, Mary, you’re up next.... are ya nervous yet?

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

An Ode to Jersey Girl

In my last post, I took up a meme to bestow a gift upon the first five commenters – this one for Jersey Girl is an extra as she was the first person to comment but also the blogger I picked up the meme from... she did a fantastic job at her place with blog reviews and haikus (thank you so much, I loved the one you wrote for me!!!)

I said in that post that I would do an ode – but I changed it slightly, instead of a straight ode from my own little noggin, it will be a song parody ode... which is actually a little more difficult than it looks but a lot of fun. To change it up, just a little more, I was going to put the you tube video for the original song in the post, in case anyone didn’t know the melody, it’s way more fun when you can sing it the right way... but looking at Jersey Girl’s latest post on signs of the apocalypse, I decided not to use you tube here out of deference to her feelings and because I think the whole thing sucks – excuse the pun.

The song I’ve chosen for Jersey Girl is Hotel California by The Eagles. You can find it all over the internet if you can’t think of the words off hand, though I’m sure most of you are already humming it in your head at the mention of the title.

I left off the last two verses because, hey, it’s a long damn song... well, here goes...

An Ode to Jersey Girl

On the Internet highway, it doesn’t seem fair
Those blogs without merit get read more than their share
But I found a great platform, a place for mommy hood’s plight
My kids are screaming and my Vodka’s gone
Her blog can fix me up right
Jersey Girl has her own way;
With a story to tell
There’s no need to be by yourself,
Driving your broke down mini-van from hell
Jersey Girl has a fable and fun games for to play
So if you’re looking for something more
See what she has to say...

Jersey has a story just right for ya
Ironflower’s Grace
Matches Lovebug’s pace
What can I say, Jersey Girl, but I adore ya
Never should you fear, not that way, oh dear....

Her mind is silly and twisted; she’s got a wit that won’t end
She’s got a lot of funny, funny tales, that buck the trends.
If you’re looking for blog posts you won’t forget
Soap Opera Sunday, it’s not over yet.

So I visit quite often
To have a good time.
Parenthood dilemmas mixed in adult humor without the whine
If you’ve got a nasty mom ruining your day
Kids got up in the middle of the night?
Stop and vent away...

Jersey has a story just right for ya
Ironflower’s Grace
Matches Lovebug’s pace
She’s dishin’ it up at her blog each day just for ya
There’s no need for lies, or bad alibis....

I hope you all enjoyed it, especially you, Jerseygirl. If you haven't stopped in there yet, it's a seriously great blog about motherhood but a heck of a lot more, too - if you like your reality with a dose of sarcasm and a side of sass, I can't think of a better blog to visit.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Christmas Spirit in Bloggy Land

This meme comes to you from the inspired Christmas spirit of our own, Jersey Girl who got the idea from My Mommy’s Place, who in turn grabbed the idear from Mackey

The basic premise here is simple: The first five commenters on this blog are entitled to a present from yours truly. Jersey Girl has offered to post a blog review for me, and I think the bloggers who preceded her were contributing actual flesh and blood gifts for the first five people on their blog.

Okay, so what, pray tell, am I giving away? I’ve been back and forth over this, as I’m sure none of you want cast offs from my house (though I did just finish a good spring cleaning, and have a few boxes of junk to go), and I can’t really afford to go out and buy good gifts for five extra people aside from the ones on my already bursting Christmas list...

The first five commenters can have their choice of two gifts.

1) An ode to them or their blog, posted here and emailed to them directly to either post on their blog or save for posterity...

2) Ready to bake cookies in the mail... I’ll put together the dry mixture for my chocolate chip cookies, complete with directions for how to add the eggs, butter, etc and baking times... (They’re actually really good, I promise)... If you hate chocolate chips (perish the thought) I’ll substitute my Italian cookies, which are also killer but there’s shaping and dough play involved, which makes them more work for you...

Good luck and let the commenting begin... The rules are fairly simple, if you ‘win’ here, you should definitely pass it on in your own blog... Also, please pass on some link love, because it’s always fun to name where it came from and to introduce your blog followers to some of the blogs you frequent. If you don’t win here, feel free to take up the idea anyway. You don’t have to spend a lot of money, or even any money, but it’s a nice way to pass on a little bloggy good will... after all, we spend an awful lot of time with our favorite bloggers, why not include each other in our holiday merriment on a more concrete level.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

What I'm Thankful For................

When my daughter was seven she thought sledding down the stairs on her terrycloth robe would be fabulously entertaining. I caught her about halfway down, before anything more serious than rug burns materialized. Like every other parent in the history of man, I secretly wondered how my progeny could possess absolutely no common sense.

Since then, my children have attempted any number of death defying feats of stupidity and, on occasion, I still feel like asking them if they’ve lost their minds. However, I’m not so far away from my own romps with idiocy that I underestimate its draw.

When I was a wee little girl, Tom and Jerry was my favorite cartoon. In one episode, Jerry the mouse overflowed the kitchen sink and then made the water freeze by opening the freezer door. His skating rink was complete with a rotating jello mold that cast multi-colored spotlights on our fine protagonist’s silhouette.

Of course, my brothers and I weren’t that na├»ve. We knew the water wouldn’t really freeze. We used dish soap instead. Our mother was taking one of her famous, ‘I’m not really sleeping, I’m resting my eyes’ naps and we, being the industrious little geniuses we were, took full advantage of the twenty minutes without supervision. There was a half an inch of sudsy water covering kitchen, breakfast nook, and hallway floors and we were squelching the loudest of our gleeful yells while tossing each other around our make shift slip and slide abode. Then the phone rang.

Have you ever had one of those moments where you knew exactly what was going to happen before it did, but you were powerless to stop it? The world becomes all slow motion and adrenaline and there’s no where you can run. That’s what it felt like as we watched our mother, running into the kitchen to answer the phone, sailing past with one arm still outstretched for the receiver, the wide eyed look of confusion then fear for a fleeting second and then... bam! Into the open utility closet she flew.

Sitting here at my keyboard, I can still feel how slippery the floor was as we tried to scurry out of the room, knowing we had to go right past a very annoyed mother type person on the way out the door. Evil little miscreant that I am, I still find it pretty funny. I have a sneaking suspicion those were the types of events that caused my favorite cartoons to lose favor with parents... ones who don’t want to take medication in order to stay on an even keel.

No mothers were damaged in the composing of this; she’s actually a good enough sport to laugh when we retell the story. I started this piece intending to spruce it up and submit it for publication... but I changed my mind and posted it here. With all of the posts around the blogosphere about what we’re thankful for, I thought this would serve as my own mini-prayer... I’m thankful for daredevil children, who play together and are truly friends – I hope they keep that with them forever because your siblings are the only people in this world who will be with you for, God willing, all of your life and that you can always count on to be on your side – even when you’re wrong. I have a two brothers and that’s the way it is for us and should be for everyone. I’m thankful for them, my friends, and many other gifts in this life – I’m also thankful for so many cyber friends, who keep me motivated and make me think... I hope this story made you chuckle a bit, or at least made you thankful that your own kids aren’t as bad as I was ;-)

Happy Thanksgiving.

Book Review - The Daring Book for Girls

“For every girl with an Independent spirit and a nose for trouble, here is the no-boys-allowed guide to adventure.”

I can’t tell you what a pleasure it is to review The Daring Book For Girls . Almost as much fun as it’s been to peruse with my own daughter! She is ten and I handed it right off to her after quickly looking through it the day it came in the mail. Within an hour, she was standing beside my desk, hugging the book to her chest exclaiming, “This is the coolest book ever!!!” I kid you not, I couldn’t make this up... she and a friend down the block are using the book to make their own, Daring Girl Club. They’re thinking of inviting another girl who is a number of years younger, proclaiming that they, and the book, can teach her the ways of the world... okay, I chuckle slightly, but it’s still a nice thought that they want to include a younger girl.

They are especially psyched to check out the website as there are fancy dancy badges there, that they can earn by mastering some of the activities in the book.

Okay, so you, as the parent or older relative of a girl might want to know what’s so great about this book? Why should you buy them this book? What exactly does it teach them? Everything and so much more... It’s like an encyclopedia of your childhood. Look through it with your daughter or the younger girl in your life. It quite probably has every game you ever played with your girlfriends in childhood. It has the rules to sports, directions on crafts, and a good bit of history and necessary facts couched in a fun format – my daughter actually sat for quite a while looking through the chart on states (when they became a state, what the flower is, etc...)

More than the knowledge though, I found pages of games I’d played that I never would have thought to tell my daughter about – how fun to not only be reminded of my own childhood but to share it with the next generation. Plus, what I find a great perk to this book, it gives them formats on letter writing skills, advice on finances, and it’s very girl power oriented – when a book comes along that encourages girls to be both strong and, well, GIRLS, it’s a great thing. In the joking kind of way, the back cover admonishes to exclude boys – but the book actually gives them credence to be themselves and to enjoy each other. It strives to make girlfriends the best commodity, and to me, that’s far better than admonishing the perfect, and very expensive, outfit or best new gadget. This book revels in a girl’s imagination and spirit. If I had stars, I’d give it the highest amount.

But don’t just buy this for your daughter and be done with it. Sit down with her and page through it, use it as a tool to communicate your own past with her present... it’s a useful book for her alone, but what a gift if it can help you both relive memories and create new ones.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Writerly Reference for the Masses or Help a Writer Out!!!

First, A Little Inspiration

I thought I’d start this blog with a few references to some of the things that inspired me this week... the first I found at Jaye’s Blahg , sorry I didn’t leave a comment, Jaye... It was a little too compelling and thought provoking for words – but I checked your links multiple times... if anyone is looking for the most inspiring message about getting over life’s obstacles, go visit Jaye.

The next one I found at Angela’s Blog. It’s a prayer for mothers of teenagers, and it was both compelling and heartrending, so if you get a chance give it a visit.

Now a little Writerly Advice for the Masses

A blogger I met long ago at the now defunct blogging community I used to frequent is off to a fantastic start in her writing career. When I met Colleen Katana her voice drew me in immediately. Upon talking with her I found that she’d always wanted to write and had played around with stories but had never studied publishing or fiction writing... you would never know it to read her – her voice is that fresh and inviting naturally. A great example of this can be found in her piece, The Night I Flew.

Colleen has already completed her first book, a memoir, which is in the submission stages – Yay, You, Colleen!!! That’s a fantastic accomplishment! She contacted me because she’s looking to improve her craft and is interested in finding workshops or forums where she can get feedback and interact with other writers. So, I thought the best way to go about it was to put up a post asking all of the bloggers, who have been so great at helping me along and exchanging information, to help me out. First, I’d love it if you all would take a few minutes to stop over at Colleen’s and get to know her – it’s not much of a favor, as you’ll find her both witty and fun.

Next, I’d like to put together a little list of forums and areas where there are other writers exchanging ideas and techniques, information on publishing... and I’m sure you each have your own favorites, so if we can list them all in the comments this can become a great resource for all of us. Lastly, if anyone out there is part of an online critique group or writer’s circle and you think you have room for another, let us know.

My favorite writing communities so far have been Compuserve. My friend, Malcolm Campbell, recommended this one to me a while back and the writers there are both welcoming and knowledgeable. If you visit, you’ll notice the folders for forums on the left hand side of your screen. If you write children’s, there’s a folder marked YA and they also have a kidcrit group that’s fabulous, but you have to be a member to participate... If you’d like to participate with that group, post a message in YA for Marsha or Rose with the subject line ‘wave the magic wand’ to request access.

Another forum that people rave about is Absolute Write Water Cooler. I’ve stopped over there a number of times but haven’t really participated yet, so if someone else is more experienced there, feel free to give us some feedback. The nice thing with this community is that there are a lot of agents and publishers who frequent as well as accomplished authors.

One of the best references besides Writer’s Market, and a free one to boot, for researching prospective agents is Agent Query.

Okay guys, anything else you can add or help out with would be great. This should be good to get the ball rolling, but I’m hoping we can accumulate a lot of really great references for all of us...

As a side, I think the link thing is fixed, but Ello asked about my links a few days ago, so I’m not sure... If you have a problem getting to the sites I’ve linked, let me know and I’ll post their html address without the link. To make a link on these fields I’ve been leaving out the quotation marks before and after the address, I don’t know why it doesn’t work with them in, but that seems to be the problem.

For those of you who didn’t know, I’m hosting a book club blog on Patricia Wood’s Lottery. Please visit the post and see if you might like to participate. I’m really excited as Patricia’s offered to participate in the discussion and it’s really wonderful to have the author on hand to discuss a novel with...Hope to see you all there.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

November Writing - Progress Report

Back on October 15th I wrote a post detailing, or rather ranting about my stagnation as a writer. I vowed to set goals and make actual progress... Egads, I promised in print which makes it much harder to back down.

So I thought making it a monthly progress report, posted for all to see would keep me even more honest... and focused. You’ll see, in this months’ post, I fell short in a few areas but overall made some real progress. I’m hoping, keeping in mind I’ll owe you all another report in December, that I’ll hit every goal this time.

Okay, in the last post (or in the comments somewhere) I mentioned that I wanted to submit at least four times a month and work on my wip for a minimum of an hour a day.

I sent out three submission – so one shy, but more than I did last month and two of them took a good amount of time to write and edit, so I’m fairly proud of myself... still I’m hoping to improve.

I sent out one short story, one greeting card submission (though for three different cards), and one essay. I learned, by the way, that cover letters are far less nerve racking for me than queries... I’m not exactly sure why, but I was thrilled with how virtually painless it was.

My Novel – I did not get in as much work as I wanted to and I’m being a little hard on myself over it. Time wise, I did okay. I’d skip some days but then manage to eek in three or five hours on it later so I think I stuck pretty well to that hour a day mark, if I didn’t surpass it...

I got stuck on the first two chapters, I think I also posted about that somewhere, but the voice really threw me and it kind of stalled my progress for a bit there, even though I was putting in the time the work was not where I needed it to be... I did, however, flesh out some themes that I didn’t even know were there (God I love that about writing fiction).

What did I learn or devote time to this month that had to do with writing but not really with my listed goals?

First, I worked on my pitch at BookEnds. It wasn’t on my agenda because I’m not ready to query, but I didn’t want to pass up the opportunity to have a great agent critique my pitch, so I wrote one especially for her post. (It’s due up in the next round of crits and I’m a little queasy about it).

Inspired by the agent posts about pitch, JJ Debenedictis hosted her own, called Goblin’s Crucible – which was invaluable... and took up the better part of my writing time for two days... Thank you for the very intricate critique, and thank you to Josephine Damian who also gave me some invaluable advice. If you read the comments there, you’ll see I revised my pitch an awful lot... another reason I’m nervous about Jessica at BookEnds critting the first one, the new one’s much better and I’m still not quite there.

I also took some time to research perspective agents – some allotted time, and some agents I stumbled upon here and there and then took the time to check out a little more thoroughly... my list is now two pages long and I’m noting the really interesting ones with little stars... so when I’m query ready I can look back at them first.... Researching agents for me also means tracking down some of their books in or around my genre and either, checking if they’re a style that’s comfortable or comparable (I say checking because you’d be surprised how often I have copies or have read them) – or putting them on my to read list for the next time I’m in a bookstore.

Okay, I’d like to thank all of the bloggers who took the time to check in with me, or caught me in comments and asked how the writing was going. Most especially Ello and Mary Witzl, because they checked in often and were a great reminder when I was goofing off in cyber space... Thanks for the extra support, I actually find it dead useful and would be more than happy to add anyone to my ‘are you writing?’ list if they’d like the kick in the pants.

My goals for next month:

I’m changing my novel goal. Making it a set amount of time is not working for me. I don’t feel like I’m making enough progress that way, so instead I’m making it an amount in chapters.... The first two chapters will be redone by the next check in... that’s actually a lot right there, but I’m going to add two chapters on top of those... I’m hoping to push it up past that, so I hope I’ll be able to give you all a glowing account of how I doubled my own goals.

My goal for submissions will stay at four. Hopefully I’ll make it this time.

For those of you who didn’t know, I’m hosting a book club blog on Patricia Wood’s Lottery. Please visit the post and see if you might like to participate. I’m really excited as Patricia’s offered to participate in the discussion and it’s really wonderful to have the author on hand to discuss a novel with...Hope to see you all there.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Book Club Blogs Return!!! - Lottery is on the table

I’m so excited about this one!!! First, I’m resurrecting the book club blogs (more on that later for those of you who don’t know about them), second I get to host a discussion about Lottery by Patricia Wood

I first heard of the book a few months ago at Anti-Wife’s Blog. After reading the wonderful review there, I jotted down the title and author and thought I would pick it up the next time I stopped at Barnes and Noble or ordered from Amazon... A few weeks later I ran across a review and interview of the author at Ello’s Random Acts of Unkindness Blog, which I enjoyed so much that I bumped the book up to a must have and ordered in the same week.

For those of you who don’t know, Patricia Wood is an author living in Hawaii who goes by the blog name, Orion. As soon as I finished reading Lottery, I sent off an email to ask her permission to use the book in a book club blog. Obviously, and graciously, she said yes. Ms. Wood also offered to participate in the discussion!!!!

Okay, I’m doing a little happy dance. I really loved this book. It’s the story of Perry L. Crandall whose IQ is 76 and he is not retarded, he is slow. Perry’s voice is so simple, and yet profound in ways that Perry doesn’t even realize. He’s lived his entire life with his grandparents until his Gramps dies, then it’s just Perry and Gram and they make a great team, until Gram’s death when Perry has to take care of himself – with the help of some wonderful friends. Perry has a job and a best friend, Keith, and a crush on Cherry who works at the Handy Mart. Lottery asks the question, ‘What would happen if someone like Perry won a large amount in the lottery?’ The immediate answer is, great for him! But soon you’ll realize that a large amount of money comes with great responsibility and a person like Perry needs to be careful of those trying to take advantage... Now what if the people he needs the most protection from are his own family?

The first discussion will get underway on Thursday, December 13th - this will give everyone time to purchase and read Lottery, while avoiding the Christmas rushing that comes the week or so before the 25th. You can follow the link in the first paragraph of this post to find the book at Amazon, or you can call your local Barnes and Noble or favorite bookstore and make sure it’s in stock...

The Book Club Blog discussions started at the blogging community I was a member of before opening this blog – the site is gone now, otherwise I would link all the wonderful discussions there. To make a long story short, book club blogs are about the same as real world book clubs, without the wine and cheese, or coffee and cheesecake... though you’re perfectly welcome to bring your wine and cheese to the keyboard and commence to cyber toasting.

I did host one Book Club discussion on this blog, back in May, but it didn’t really take off and no other blogger took up the next discussion. If you’d like to read the discussions on the Mists of Avalon you can find them here: The First Discussion, The Second Discussion, and The Final Discussion

I’d love to see a lot of participation on this one, especially as it’s such a good book. If you’re interested in hosting a book club blog, let me know – they’re a lot of fun and I’d love to participate in others around the blog-o-sphere.

Okay, I seem to have fixed the link problem - for some reason you don't need to include the "quotation marks" before or after the html address on this field. I'm assuming that removing them will also work in the comments section, but I'll try it out to make sure

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Spring Cleaning In November

Merry, Merry, quite contrary... you read that right, I’m spring cleaning – it seems to be a running theme of late – out with the old, in with the new... and I could probably quote a few more standard ditties to start off this post, but I’ll spare you guys the furious eye rolls ;-)

I always get a wild hair to clean the house very thoroughly right around Halloween or just after – I know this is a spring thing, and I do the whole, throw open the windows and clean up bit in the spring, but I don’t deep clean and organize then, the way most people talk about because, as anyone with children can tell you, spring is too damn busy! I don’t know why it’s done in the spring, except people feel all energetic from the glorious weather... but really, side affect of that season is the addition of baseball and softball to already full schedules, spring break which means homebound and really bouncy kids for extended periods of time, and, egads, have you ever tried to keep three kids inside the house cleaning on a bright and sunny day? We’re not living in the same generation I grew up in. I can’t send them out the door to play. I have to go with them, which means.... Spring Cleaning in November.

Okay, so now you get my reasoning... the other thing is that as the weather turns and the kids are at school all day, the mess drives me nuts... plus, of course, I like the house really clean and tidy before starting the whole decorating for Christmas thing because if you try cleaning as you’re decorating it becomes a big nightmare...

Point? Point? There was a point around her somewhere... oh, yeah, organization.... The thing with this is, I’m not a naturally organized person, I’m one of those people who have to work at it. I have to make lists or I will forget to do things – I used to have a really good memory but somehow having to schedule three other people seems to have lost me some iq points in there somewhere.

So, with this fervent cleaning revolution going on in my house, it’s dripped into my writing... I’m actually cleaning out all my computer files and purging the dead issues to a file disk... holy cow... there’s not a crowded area of little needed or known writing odds or ends cluttering up my desktop, hee, hee... My desk itself is, gads, clean!!! You heard that right, no coffee ring, no dust behind the monitor, no scattered notes and stray hair bands... okay, a few stray hair bands but they add to the ambiance.

I even put fresh flowers on the piano next to my desk... All reds and oranges and yellows and they make me think of crisp apples and pumpkin spice... or maybe that’s the potpourri... anyway, my spring cleaning is about to take over my blog as well.. I’ve just purged a bunch of links – not that they weren’t great bloggers that I loved to visit, but a lot of them were abandoned blogs or just bloggers I don’t really visit much anymore. No offense to anyone removed – I use it as a handy reference to hit the blogs I like without having to search for them, the pr for the blogger is a nice added bonus I’m happy to help with, but really it’s a selfish thing... on the other hand, you know the links on my blog are ones I really enjoy myself.

There were a number of blogs I couldn’t part with, even though I don’t visit them much anymore. I’m thinking of arranging them into fiction writing and freelance writing, because I have a number of freelancers that I loved visiting and got great information from while I was ghosting, but haven’t really stopped in to see in a while...

Sigh... Jersey girl over there I kept up because I love her blog, but I can’t visit it because every time I do it shuts down my darn windows... Jersey, if you’re reading, I miss you.

If you’ve made it this far you realize that I didn’t really have a point... just a steady ramble... but we’ll end with a point just for the hell of it – how do you organize your life and your writing? Do you need a clean environment or does the muse take over ever in a pig sty? Do you spring clean other than in the spring? (That last one’s just geared to make me feel like I’m not the only freak)

Friday, November 02, 2007

MYOB and other lessons from the playground

There are some things in becoming a parent that make you forget a few of the tried and true aspects of etiquette that you’re trying to teach your children... For instance, mind your own business. I must say that at least once a day. When my daughter whines about another student doing the same thing I just told her not to – “Mind your own business! So and so is not my problem and what he does has nothing to do with you – just worry about yourself and don’t tell me how every other kid can do this or that...”

Sure, they try this tactic because in their little minds letting you know that it’s acceptable for other kids will certainly make you realize the error of your ways... heh, heh... The thing is, teaching them to mind their own business is a way of teaching them to be responsible for themselves; teaching them to measure their own progress on the effort they put. I’ll go back to my daughter here – she’s very bright, but she has a lazy gene. She already knows that putting in minimal effort will garner a B, while not trying at all will get her a C. When the truth of the matter is she could easily have straight A’s if she put in a good effort a majority of the time. She thinks I’m unfair in pushing because so and so gets B’s and her mother says it’s a good grade...

Here’s where it gets tricky, when my second child gets B’s or even C’s I don’t give him a hard time, I’m proud of him... why? Because he tries, every time. He’s got his good subjects and subjects that he needs to work a little harder on, but he always gives one hundred percent effort, which is exactly what I’m aiming for... That’s what I try to explain to my daughter, “Don’t look at how well or not well anyone else is doing. You have to do your best all the time because it’s your best. What someone else is doing won’t change the fact that you either tried hard or didn’t.”

I’m going to get a little preachy on you, but only for a second. I tell my daughter that she should not be the least bit proud of being bright or creative – she didn’t earn those things, she was blessed with them. She can be proud when she gives one hundred percent and uses the gifts God gave her – anything less is like not saying thank you for the blessings she has... Look, I don’t expect this 100% of the time. She’s a kid, and I know she’ll have years ahead of flaking off rather than moving forward... at the same time, I want her to get the concept. I don’t want her to turn around in adulthood and spend all of her time wanting what the neighbor has, or jealous because so and so has it so easy. I don’t want her to fall back on excuses for why she hasn’t done her best.

So, with all of this, ‘mind your own business’ business turning through my thoughts lately – what lesson of etiquette did I forget in my parental zeal? Yesterday at the playground a group of children (3 or 4 year olds) were playing hopscotch, and one of the little boys had a sucker in his mouth while trying to hop on one foot. I, being super conscious of the kind of damage that can cause because I have small children, got very nervous as he tottered around nearly falling a number of times... If he had been a child I knew, I would have told him not to jump with the sucker (I’m obnoxious like that). Instead I asked the group of moms standing around who he belonged to? And when the mom responded I just said, “You might want to have him take out the sucker while he’s hopping”

Said mom got very indignant, informing me that she is not a negligent parent and huffing halfway across the parking lot with her friends.

I ignored the cardinal rule, “Mind your own business”... I ignored parenting’s biggest challenge, not correcting other children when their parents are right there – unless it’s a parent who doesn’t mind... But the thing is, I certainly wasn’t trying to hurt this mom’s feelings and I definitely didn’t think she was negligent – I just thought she was having a hard earned minute of adult conversation and wasn’t really paying attention, just for a second... and if it was my kid, I’d want someone to catch it, whether it was to tell me or to correct them.

I don’t feel the least bit bad for butting in – I’d rather that than if I stood there silent and the kid fell and choked or something equally horrible. But then, it’s another of those things with parenting, nothing is really black and white. Just like English, every rule has exceptions... that’s what a moral compass is for.

For those of you who stopped in for a writing discussion but stayed for my maternal mutterings, thanks for the ear. What do you think? How do you teach your kids the big lessons and how do you deal with the lessons that have exceptions, or do you just do your good deeds by stealth? And another thing, why are mothers so blasted touchy? It wasn’t just this one; you can’t make a comment or suggestion to some people without them taking it as parental judgment... another reason to mind your own business unless you’re asked...