PASS THE TORCH (old site -- visit new site at

Monday, July 31, 2006

Get the Pass the Torch Award Code

I'll post the submissions for the Pass the Torch Award Here.

Mommy's Proudest Moment
Asteroid Team
Holding the Book
Celebrating Manhood
San Francisco - Here We Come
A Servant's Heart

Once we have all the entries, I'll ask readers to choose the best story, so if you'd like to display the button to direct your readers here, let me know and I'll email you the code: ptt AT empowering-youth DOT com

Thanks for linking to the contest! Lil Duck Duck Crazy Hip Blog Mamas 5 Minutes for Mom
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Sunday, July 30, 2006

Pass the Torch Award

So - what do you think of the new design? I, personally, am thrilled. If you'll leave your comments here, I'll be happy to pass them on to Susie at Bluebird Blogs. She's a genius in my book - and a friendly one at that.

For those of you who don't recognize the airborne dock-jumper, it's my seven-year-old son. He and his sister get a lot of press on this blog.

To celebrate my new site, I'm happy to announce the Pass the Torch Award.

The general premise on Pass the Torch is: "If we believe youth are our future, we're procrastinating."


I'd love to read your posts about hopeful, empowered, responsible young people. Whether they're four or fourteen, young people have a lot more to offer to the world than we sometimes give them credit.

You've witnessed this in kids. There are all kinds of examples out there - the 10-year-old that raises $1,000 in a Relay-for-Life, the Junior Girl Scout that assists in the Brownie Troop, or the soccer nut that helps out at tournaments. But if you'd like more simple inspiration, try a few of my archived posts:

Budding Photographer
Sneak Reading
My Son, the Human Google Search
Blue Streak, Mom and Me
Independence Day Tent-Owners

Your post should illustrate empowered, responsible, youth (ages 0-20) that demonstrate the fact the future of our world is in good hands. What makes you think they could be the leaders of tomorrow --and in some cases, today!

1. Enter by emailing me the link to your current or archived post by midnight on Sunday, August 6. ptt(at)empowering-youth(dot)com

2. Please link to this post on your blog. If you'd like a Pass the Torch "sticker" for your post, just email me at ptt(at)empowering-youth(dot)com and I'll send you the code.

3. If possible, use the Technorati Tag "Pass the Torch"

4. I'll be listing all the entries next week and asking readers to vote. So send your readers over here to support you! The selected post will receive this banner for your site.

5. Submissions will be posted at the submissions hub.

And I hope you'll all join us for Pass the Torch Tuesday!

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Friday, July 28, 2006

My Son, the Human Google Search

Perhaps it's his super snorkel-vision. Maybe it's because his mind isn't cluttered with insignificant drivel like what it was Mom asked him to do THREE SECONDS AGO.

I don't know where he got his gift, but the boy is a human Google Search. No matter what I've misplaced, I've learned to plug it into the search engine and he'll find it. My keys, my sunglasses, my favorite pen that grows legs and hides on me every-other day.

"I know where it is!" he proclaims, and runs off to retrieve it.

I've come to rely on this handy tool quite a lot, and it's required me to forgive him for the shoes he loses on a daily basis.

What does Google do when it can't find something? Maybe it asks Jeeves.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Thirteen ways to show family support

Thirteen ways to show family support (Asset #1) to your kids

1. Attend every soccer game, even though the team stinks and hasn't scored a goal in a month.

2. Take photographs at piano recitals and band concerts that last longer than your butt does.

3. Insist upon good night kisses even when they tell you they don't want them anymore.

4. Hug often and long.

5. Say "I love you" again after your seven-year-old says, "You already TOLD me that six times today, Mom."

6. Ask them how their day was - every day.

7. Shut up. Listen to them.

8. Eat dinner together.

9. Help them solve their problems - without becoming the solution.

10. Be there.

11. Include them in family decisions. Understand their points of view.

12. Accept them for who they are, even when you are certain they're aliens from another galaxy - or they're exhibiting all your own least favorite personal qualities.

13. Turn off the computer.

Please leave a comment - how do you show family support?

Related posts: Recipe for an ideal parent, Lawn Boy

Links to other Thursday Thirteens!

Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!
The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others comments. It’s easy, and fun! Be sure to update your Thirteen with links that are left for you, as well! I will link to everyone who participates and leaves a link to their 13 things. Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!
or Here too!

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Our six-mile bike trip

Come on, you want to play, don't you? Get your Wordless Wednesday code here.

Wordpress and Typepad and Blogger, oh my!

Problogger is sponsoring a group writing project to discuss what bloggers would do differently if they could start all over.

I've discovered many things I wish I knew six months ago, and I'd love to hear your opinions as well. I'm in the process of a redesign on Pass the Torch, so I'm looking for advice on this site, as well as your thoughts about "If I had to start my blog over again."

For my part, I wish a crystal ball had told me:
1. Hello! This is going to be a popular blog, so choose a decent title to begin with.
2. There are other options than blogger.
3. Put the products you're promoting in a different section than everything else.

Other advice:
Lil Duck Duck is glad she used wordpress and got her own domain name, but wishes she'd started categories right away. She also told me about oh-so-awesome Flooble, which creates the code for the collapsable blogroll links. Hurray!!! and thanks!
Kailani wishes she'd known there were other options than blogger when she'd started.
Stefan likes WordPress. Annalaura uses Blogger and WordPress. Jon Symon sells instructional videos to get bloggers started.

If you join the group writing project and I'll link to your post.

UPDATE - Thanks for listing me as one of your top entries:
52 Reviews, Mindglob, Kristonia Ink, Peter T. Davis, Blogging Blog

Monday, July 24, 2006

Stretching the "Role-Model Muscles"

Summer is a great time for older youth to stretch their role-model muscles. I've promised to introduce you to some of the Developmental Assets, so here is one: Positive Peer Influence.

Search Institute's definition of Positive Peer Influence is "Young person's best friends model responsible behavior," but for younger children, the responsible behavior can be modeled by cousins, siblings and play dates. I find that my kids love to step up when their cousins come to visit. The past two weekends have been a flurry of family gatherings and we don't even need to ask for Curt to show Danny how to fish, or for Deena to play with Hayley in the sand -- they just do it.

In this process, the level of everyone's behavior improves. The younger kids know what is expected. And the older kids have a job -- a fact that always seems to bring out the best in them.

I just read a great post at Midnight Writings. She offers a list of simple, cheap and awesome things to do with your kids this summer. It's an asset-rich list.

Please leave a comment! And if you have a positive peer influence-related post (current or past), please leave the permalink in comments and I'll add you here.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Travel Carnival of Bloggers

I contributed to the Travel Carnival and the posts are up at Trip Hub. Please check them out! There are great anecdotes and valuable information from the participating bloggers.

I especially like Chookooloonks post. I SO want to go to Trinidad!!

Asset-Rich Youth

This week I facilitated a developmental asset training for a "Student to Student" peer helping group in New Richmond, Wisconsin. If you're unfamiliar with the 40 Assets, Search Institute identified 40 qualities that help youth grow up happy, healthy and resilient. These assets help us to look at what's right about youth, rather than what's wrong with them. I'll introduce individual assets periodically in future posts, but the eight categories are:

Support, Empowerment, Boundaries and Expectations, Constructive Use of Time, Commitment to Learning, Positive Values, Social Competencies, Positive Identity

The New Richmond STS-ers are already quite well-versed on the assets -- they even teach the assets to freshman students during homerooms -- but the refresher is good, even for veterans. We discussed risky-behaviors and which assets might help youth to stay away from them, we played the Hidden Treasure of Assets boardgame, and they organized the freshman activities they'd facilitate throughout the year.

But for me, the best part of these trainings is the charge I get every time I witness the unending stream of creative, positive leadership. And it's coming from teenagers.

It's the kind of thing that gives you hope for the world.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Thirteen Reasons We LOVE Grandma's Visits

Thirteen Reasons We LOVE Grandma's Visits
1. She brings a carload of food, when my frig inventory consists of ketchup and expired cottage cheese.
2. She teaches the kids to make deviled eggs and potato salad and strawberry shortcake.
3. She gets them to peel potatoes and taste vinegar (hehehehe).
4. She brings an ICE CREAM MAKER and does the deed.
5. She completely entertains Curt and Deena while I run errands by myself!
6. My errands last for at least two hours.
7. She brings goodies galore, so we're always wondering what's in the next bag.
8. She hobbles all the way down to the lakeshore so we can all enjoy a boat ride.
9. She doesn't tell us to slow down when hubby guns the motor and starts whipping the kids in the tube.
10. She insists on a hello hug and a good-bye hug, even if they both happen on the good-bye.
11. She makes the kids happy and amiable for a WHOLE DAY.
12. She gives my dog desperately-needed attention.
13. And she comes back.

Links to other Thursday Thirteens! Please leave comments! I want to hear from you!

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Who needs a swimsuit anyway?

To give you perspective, here's the rear view of a similar jump:

Do you have a Wordless Wednesday post? Leave your link in my comments and I'll add you here: Lil' Duck Duck Yellow Rose's Garden Celebrating Life and Family

How they Remind Me Wordless Wednesday kids


This past weekend my kids invited friends over. It was very hot and humid, so we spent a lot of time in the water. I mentioned last week that our boat is iffy on the restart -- we're waiting for a part to arrive, which will hopefully remedy the situation. But who can leave a speedboat on shore when the tube is just begging to be ridden by four squirrely kids?

We tubed. And we stopped to switch riders. And we got stranded in the middle of the lake.

Big surprise.

So the kids all jumped in and started pushing the boat under "kidpower." They even passed about 4 houses (still 20 to go) before they climbed back in so we could try the tempermental motor again. They were relieved to hear it start. Our kidpower was running out.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Wiener Whiner

When I saw the "Wienermobile" at our village fair, I asked the kids if they wanted to sing the jingle. Most of us grew up hearing the Oscar Mayer wiener song, but I guess the next generation hasn't. Here is my seven-year-old son doing his very best to read the song lyrics while singing the jingle. Be sure to turn up your sound!


For his efforts, Mom splurged on carnival rides - just as soon as she composed her giggling.

Alibris Secondhand Books Standard

Friday, July 14, 2006

Clothes Bake

It's ninety degrees out and we don't have an air conditioner. So I am NOT going to use the dryer. But there's that nagging dirty clothes problem. Our solution? An old-fashioned "clothes bake" on the deck. The kids wisely moved our underwear to a more discreet location.

Seems to work swimmingly, but I suppose we could invest in a clothesline.


Thursday, July 13, 2006

Thirteen Things about Berry Picking

The berries are ripe in Wisconsin!! I've been taking my kids berry picking for the past several July's, so I have a unique take on the activity.

Thirteen things about berry picking with kids:
1. The sweetest berries are really red.
2. Or really black.
3. Don't bother with a bucket.
4. The prepared picker douses the kids with mosquito repellent first.
5. The unprepared picker leashes her child so that the mosquitoes don't fly away with him.
6. If you're out for a walk and see the bike, but no kid, check in the bushes.
7. Watch for weeds that itch, sting or swallow your children.
8. Wash well after picking, just in case you didn't notice the three-leafed demon that brushed against all your legs.
9. Long sleeves and long pants are helpful, though they might be unrealistic on 90-degree days.
10. Berries are only ripe on 90-degree days.
11. In the off chance that you return home with some of the sweet morsels, they can be added to almost anything to make it more palatable.
12. Raspberry artichokes may or may not be palatable.
13. When you think they're all picked out -- but your kids are still shoving them in by the handful -- squat. You'll get a whole new perspective.

The best berries are UNDER the leaves.

Links to other Thursday Thirteens!
(leave your link in comments, I’ll add you here!)
TNChick Pink Chihuahua Princess Incoherent-ish Lil Duck Duck
Exceedingly Mundane

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Mom's New Toy

Mad Scientist Matt tagged me in the AW Chain, with a post about the need for balance when driving racing cars, and how that sense of balance is missing in racing video games. From reading his blog, Matt sounds like a genius with anything related to engines. I think he would be a great help to our family, since we are having multiple technical problems.

For instance, it is the best boating month of the year (maybe century?) and our Jetski is sitting in the mechanic's yard awaiting a new motor. Of course, sense of balance is important with personal water craft as well -- something apparently I don't have. Our other boat isn't much healthier. It seems to leave us stranded in the middle of the lake half the time we take it out.

And we're pretty low-tech in the video arena as well. Curt loves digital games, but he left his Gameboy in Georgia this spring. Our TV doesn't work either. We're too busy to re-install the ugly antenna, and too cheap to pay for a dish.

But the most frustrating technical glitch happened a couple months ago, when an editor wanted my photo of Deena driving a skipjack for the cover of a magazine. She asked for the largest version of the photo, which I promptly sent. But her designer said my 3-megapixel Sony's photos would only decently enlarge to a 4x6. UGH!

So I splurged on a Canon Digital Rebel XT. Its high-definition 8-megapixels eat my Sony for a midnight snack.

Mom has a new toy.

The Road Less Traveled is next in the AW Chain. I can't wait to read it!

Here's the entire chain. If you have some time, please read through and comment!
Forbidden Snowflake

Fireflies in the Cloud

Mad Scientist Matt's Lair

Pass the Torch
The Road Less Traveled

Jennifer Sando


Flying Shoes

Southern Expressions

Organized Chaos

Kappa no He

Tiffany's Smorgasbord

Even in a Little Thing

Liv's Life

Everything Indian

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Recipe for the Ideal Parent

Jennifer tagged me after writing a recipe for “the ideal bloke.” It’s quite good! Now it’s my turn to do so, but I’ve modified the game a bit.

If I had the task of creating the ideal parent, these would be eight essential ingredients:

1. The patience of a calico waiting for a chipmunk to emerge from its hole.
2. Endless, undivided attention, even while the lasagna burns and the phone rings.
3. The fortitude to let the phone ring.
4. The desire to race your kids off the end of the dock, so you’re not the rotten egg.
5. Cool-headed diplomacy and consistency in the roles of referee, coach and cheerleader.
6. The willingness to teach knitting to a nine-year-old and learn fishing from a seven-year-old.
7. The stamina to listen to ridiculous stories one-after-the-other, until you think your head might explode.
8. A forgiving nature that pardons yourself for only accomplishing one of the previous qualities per day.

Now I’m tagging Lil Duck Duck, My Life in the Kidzoo, Midnight Writings, and Peregrinas. They may write about the ideal bloke, or the ideal parent. Go find out!

Monday, July 10, 2006

The Fruits of Empowerment

Sometimes I think our days of household peace and harmony have disappeared entirely.

Gone are the sweet siblings that played Barbies and Matchbox cars together, taking turns for hours, and existing in the same 12x12 room.

And the racket has kept pace with their growing bodies. How did my kids get so loud? Other parents of children who have experience this stage assure me that noise increases very naturally with the size of their mouths. I guess my ears need to adjust.

I grew up as an only child (translation -- "quiet house"). So while while the Annoyer and the Boss go at it, I may as well drag a squeaking shopping cart across a chalkboard while a pomeranian yips in my ear.

I try not to get between them or "solve" their problems, choosing instead to give them a few tools and force them to work it out together (um, somewhere else?) But I still get the nagging feeling that I'm messing up somehow, and not doing my job as a parent.

Until I see just a glimpse of diplomacy.

After enduring a morning-long grump-fest because one wanted to do a "show" with the neighbor kids and the other didn't, I looked into the neighbor's front yard and witnessed the fruits of empowerment. The four were playing catch. Apparently, the deal was that the boys would do the show, if the girls would play ball first.

The show was excellent.

Thinks by Me has some thoughts on keeping summertime harmony. Check her out.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Dooce's Leta is growing up

I admit I indulge in a little Dooce once in a while and Friday's post squished my heart. She talks about her two-year-old daughter walking off to join neighborhood friends on her own for the first time. This empowering moment has even more significance than usual, because as a baby, they weren't sure Leta's legs would work properly.

"A couple weeks ago you and I were standing outside talking to the neighbors during that enchanted part of the day when the sun is setting and kids are running around trying to pack in as much of life as they can before they are forced to go to bed. Every kid on the block was outside chasing one another, laughing, and swinging from the trees. You stood close to me, your arms wrapped around my leg, and watched the surrounding excitement as if it were a traveling circus. Suddenly a neighbor’s sprinklers went off and that circus converged like a black hole onto that wet yard. You gasped, let go of my leg, and waddled off with the others to feel the spray on your arms and face. The ten seconds that it took you to walk over and play in the water just about knocked me over with their significance: you were walking on your own to be with other children."

The whole post is darling, and hilarious, though sprinkled with mild profanity (this time).

Sweet Leta's growing up.

Friday, July 07, 2006

Budding Nutritionist

A few nights ago we had spaghetti for dinner. My kids love noodles, but aren't big fans of the sauce. I told Curt he needed to put some meat sauce on his plate because protein is important.

Then he promptly picked up the parmesan cheese shaker and read the nutrition label to me.

"I can get 2 grams right here."

Darn kids. It would be a lot easier if they didn't know so much.

If you just want a great giggle today, download the laughing baby at Rocks in My Drier.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

AW Chains

AW Chain #4


Pass the Torch

The Road Less Travelled

Fireflies in the Cloud

Even in a Little Thing

The Secret Government Eggo Project

Curiouser and Curiouser

At Home, Writing

Mad Scientist Matt's Lair

I, Misanthrope - The Dairy of a Dyslexic Writer

Beyond the Great Chimney Production Log

Flying Shoes

Everything Indian

The Hal Spacejock Series

Organized Chaos

Of Chapters and Reels

Just a Small town girl

Midnight Muse

Kappa no He

Wednesday, July 05, 2006


It's Worldwide Web Wednesday!

I was interviewed for an article on the Muse Marquee, entitled "Kidspiration." I talk about how my kids inspire my writing and generate stories and anecdotes I'd never get without them. It's a well-written article and includes interviews from other writers as well.

The story refers to a couple of my recently published magazine features that star my kids. "First Mate for a Day," is a piece about Deena helping to skipper 120-year-old ship on the Chesapeake Bay. It's in the July issue of Chesapeake Family. The other article was featured in Transitions Abroad -- "Playgrounds in Europe -- Take Time to Spin the Merry-go-Rounds." I explain how our kids connect the dots of our travel itinerary -- with playgrounds.

Yeah, it's pretty accurate that my kids are my muses.

To read both complete articles, you can visit my writing site and click on "Recent Work."

For some toddler kidspiration, check out Lil Duck Duck. Toddler empowerment looks a little different than that of big kids!

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Independence Day Tent Owners

Even though it's an 80 degree sunny American holiday, I couldn't let Independence Day pass without a post. After all, a big part of empowerment is independence.

Last night my kids wanted to pitch a tent in the yard because the neighbors were doing so as well. They found Dad's "Canada tent" in the garage and dragged it out to set up. When Dad went out to help them, he voiced his concerns about them using his "Canada tent" because if they wrecked the zippers, it wouldn't do him any good. After all, Canada is more notorious even than Wisconsin, for it's bat-sized mosquitos.

They ensured him that they would take good care, blah, blah, blah, but Dad was still pretty grumpy about it.

So they offered to buy it from him so he could get a new "Canada tent".

Our kids always seem to find a workaround for problems. He explained that he got it on a clearance shelf for $20, and he was sure they didn't have that kind of money.

"How about $10?", Curt asked. "Deena could give $5 and I could give $5." Dad just smiled the knowing smile that they would wear him down eventually.

After an hour of persistent bargaining, the deal was made.

Our kids are now celebrating the 4th of July as proud tent-owners.

Happy Independence Day!!

Monday, July 03, 2006

My Blogging Buddies

I belong to these blogrolls and you may be interested in checking out the other members. Just click on each graphic at the bottom of the post to see the list in it's entirety.

Most of the blogs are related to parenting or women's issues. Some have strong Christian themes. I've read many of the blogs and here are some of my favorites:

Lil Duck Duck -- Tips for parents.

Rocks in my Dryer -- FUNNY!
Breath of life photography -- gorgeous photos

My life in the Kidzoo

Life under the sun

Work at Home Mom Bloggers Network

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Saturday, July 01, 2006


Kids-related article archives:

Human Google Search
Budding Nutritionist
Wiener Whiner
Youth Soccer - Leaders in Training
Ahhh, Mother's Day