Posted in Books, Christmas, Family life, First Friday Five, tween

Books to give – teens and tweens

As in years past, I want to help you give books to the children in your life. Hook ’em young, and keep ’em hooked on reading. This year my recommendations are not as organized as some years. My medical saga gave me quite a bit of brain fog, but I have a few scraps of paper collected through the year and I’ll share them here.


For the TWEENS in your life:

You can’t go wrong with a book by Chris Grabenstein. He taps into silliness like no one else, but also goes deeper. He understands the emotional life of tweens. Even reluctant readers will connect with his books, including the terrific Mr. Lemoncello’s Library series.

Both my kiddos (the tween and the teen) enjoyed the graphic novel Real Friends by Shannon Hale. Don’t let the cover fool you – this is a book for boys and girls. 





My teen is cranky – the authors she loves are not producing books as fast as she can read them.  I think she has already marked the 2018 release of the next book in the Talon series on her calendar. Julie Kagawa is a masterful storyteller. Legion, book 4 in the saga, came out this year. Fortunately, Julie Kagawa has a number of other books to keep her busy.


She’s also read a lot of Michael Crichton and Douglas Adams this year. Unless there is a hidden manuscript somewhere that will magically appear this month, I have no new recommendations from them.

Do you have any recommendations for me? I need an excuse to run to the local bookshop.

Posted in Family life, First Friday Five, parenting

First Friday Five: Things I learned at the bus stop

I walk my kids to their respective bus stops each morning, even on the coldest days. Not only does it give me a bit of uninterrupted time to chat with each child, but the experience is truly educational.

Here are Five Things I’ve Learned from the Five Children at the Elementary School Bus Stop.

Image from
  1. First is the Worst.
  2. Second is the Best.
  3. Third is the one with a Polka-Dot Dress.
  4. Fourth is the one with the Treasure Chest. (On occasion, fourth may possess a Hairy Chest).
  5. Fifth must suffer from an existential crisis because the kiddos cannot agree on a pithy rhyme. Either that or the Fifth rebels against labels, refusing to be easily categorized for the sake of a game.
Posted in Family life, For Writers, Writing

taking risks

With the stop of his foot and shake of his head, the five-year old boy let it be known that under no circumstances would he climb up a flight of steps and plunge into the unknown.  His sister was insane and his mom utterly misguided in her coos of “it will be fun. I promise.”  How would she know? Her swimsuit wasn’t even wet.  He narrowed his eyes but they persisted. There was only one way to stop the harassment.  Grudgingly, he climbed the steps.  The lifeguard instructed him how to sit, feet first, flowered swim trunks resting against the slide.  His sister nudged his back, repeating his mother’s foolish words. 

 Then the world went crazy.  At speeds previously unattainable on a slide he flew around the curve going down, down, down until a wall of water slowed his progress.  Mommy stood at the bottom, camera almost blocking the huge smile on her face.  He offered a quick glance.  She wanted a high-five, but he had only one thing on his mind.  Again.

A recent trip to the self-proclaimed “Water Park Capital of the U.S.” (in other words, Wisconsin Dells) got me thinking about risk.  My children approach risk in different ways.  My son sometimes needs encouragement to stretch beyond his comfort zone.  Usually, he needs someone he trusts to go first, to prove to him it is safe.  When possible, he wants to be with someone (usually me) when he encounters the unfamiliar.

My daughter, age 9, is bolder.  Some of it may be age, but I suspect her temperament also plays a role.  She likes encountering the new and unfamiliar, but rather than jumping in immediately, she assesses the risk first.  Sometimes she talks me through her mental process, weighing the potential dangers against potential thrills.  She decided the nearly vertical water slide was too “intense” for her at this age, but it looked fun for others.  When I told her one water slide for two was entirely in the dark, she grabbed my hand, pulling me forward as she shouted “Let’s go.”

I’d been hesitant to go the two person tube slide.  I’m not crazy about enclosed spaces, but for her, I took the risk.  We gasped in surprise and laughed our way to the bottom where we spoke the same word.  “Again?”

We may motivate ourselves in different ways, but ultimately, I’m glad we all took some risks.  Many of my favorite memories and experience came only after stepping outside of my comfort zone.

Writing is a risky endeavor.  I put my heart and mind into a story.  I give myself a nudge at the top of the slide each and every time I hit send on a manuscript.  It would be easy to become afraid, to consider each rejection a mouthful of water or painful chlorine eyes.  Instead, I smile and say “Again.”  Or better yet, I look around and plot my next adventure.

Do you consider yourself a risk taker?  I’d love to know about a time a risk paid off for you.