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

Thursday, August 31, 2006

101st Post -- Schoolyear's Resolutions

I'd been planning it for a week. I'd weighed my thoughts, brainstormed with my keyboard, and changed my direction 50 times. My 100th post would be well written, inspirational and a call to action for my readers.

Except that my calculation was off. The 100th post I planned to write on Saturday snuck in on Thursday, with a lot less finess than I'd meant, and a topic that was a little more prehistoric than usual. I looked on my Blogger dashboard and saw "100 posts". Oh for crying outloud. Whoops!

Anyhoo, as I enjoy the last few days of my kids at home, experiencing more peace than I'd expected, despite stumbling over the basement obstacle course and mowing around their fort-of many-colors, I consider the coming months of schoolday solitude and ponder...

...Schoolyear's Resolutions.

Like many parents, our family's life revolves around the school calendar, rather than the Roman one, so I'm making schoolyear's resolutions - goals I'm setting for myself as we enter this new chapter. I read the book, The Hurried Woman Syndrome, and felt that much of it was an Ah-ha moment for me. So my goals will focus upon stress reduction.

Of course, my best personal resolution would be to stop trying to be the valedictorian of everything (thanks Dooce, for this phrase), and be happy with a B+ average in life. But that would require a personality change and more therapy than I have time for.

So instead, these are my resolutions:

1. Attitude
Appreciate the phenominally fantastic, yet everyday events that I'm blessed to experience. Spend one-on-one time with my husband and each child, every week -- even if it's just coffee, or just a bike ride, or just a trip to the grocery store.

2. Simplicity
Remember my family's priorities. Be satisfied with myself and accept my imperfections, even if I'm trying to improve them. Focus on writing assignments and professional engagements that bring me joy. Volunteer for short-term school commitments, rather than overwhelming ones. Smile more. Spend less.

3. Health
Exercise at least a half-hour, at least 3 days per week. Start to count calories, and reduce the bad ones.

I know I'm not the only one that makes goals at the beginning of the schoolyear. Just today, I commented on a Thursday Thirteen post like this (and if I find her site again, I'll link to it!) If you'd like to start some schoolyear's resolutions of your own, I'd love to hear them. You can leave them in comments, or if anyone's interested, I'll put up a Mr. Linky.

(This is a part of the Crazy Hip Blog Mamas writing collaboration project.)

Heard in my World

From my seven-year-old (since they're extinct):

"How do we know what the dinosaurs' names were?"

Anyone care to answer this for him?

Maybe T-Rex left a comment on the prehistoric BoingBoing just before the meteor struck...

Role modeling

My friend, Susan, introduced a powerful concept that is good to reflect about and celebrate: Role modeling for our kids. Here are 13 things I model pretty regularly, and hope will brush off on my children.

I could have just as easily described 13 things I royally screw up on, but that's for a different post;)

13 ways I role model for my kids

1. I put my immediate family first.
2. I'm aware of most of my shortcomings.
3. I apologize for them when they rear their ugly heads.
4. I usually use manners with my kids (and usually, but less frequently use them with my husband.)
5. I appreciate and teach about culture.
6. I communicate my belief that education is important.
7. I read about things that interest me, though not as often as I'd like.
8. I work hard.
9. I say "I love you" outloud to my husband and my kids.
10. I like to learn about people from different parts of the world.
11. I go to my kids' extra-curricular events.
12. I'm careful about spending.
13. I periodically reevaluate me life and consider changes I should make to be a better person.

What do you role model for others?

Links to other Thursday Thirteens!

Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!

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Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Not many of these days left...

Wordless Wednesday

Congratulations to Carolyn at My Prairie Rose for winning the Pass the Torch Award this week for this post. HERE are links to yesterday's other PTT participant posts.

Get your Wordless Wednesday code here. Technorati Tag:

30 Days of Nothing

I'm hesitant to call this a Works-for-me Wednesday, because I'm not sure if in the end, it will "work".

Mary, at Owlhaven, pointed me toward a project by Intent, called 30 Days of Nothing. Here's an excerpt from her description of the project:

"For 30 days, my family will buy nothing except our basic necessities. No clothes or books. No movies, no trips to the ice cream parlor. No paper, or pictures, or magazines. No fancy hair gel or take-and-bake pizza. Lattes? Nope. Nothing except what it takes to live. During that month, I will journal our experiences, and blog my thoughts about poverty and hunger and our response to those issues. I'd like to try and identify with some of the "least" (economically) of the world. We will try and live without electricity for a day; eat only rice for a day. Perhaps the family will sleep together in one room for a night - on the floor; or walk six miles one day - the distance some African women walk daily to get clean water.

The goal of this month-long fast is to break the grip of materialism in our hearts and minds. We want to live in gratitude, not discontent; and we want to live with awareness of the great responsibility our affluence has laid on our shoulders."

I've talked about this with my husband. I've brainstormed with my son. And I've argued with my daughter. None of us WANTS to do this. But I feel we must -- partly because of the resistance I'm witnessing.

This shouldn't be that big of a deal. It's one month. We keep all the stuff we already have. Mostly, we're boycotting throw-away spending, like the 69-cent Skittles my kids buy at the grocery store. But the conversations we've had so far have revealed our wicked entrenchment in this materialistic world. And maybe our fear of commitment. You'd think I was asking my eldest to live in a cardboard box (which gives me an idea, actually.)

So at this point, what's working for me is to engage in the discussion, even when it becomes heated. I'm answering a lot of "why" questions and opening our eyes to a world that's so remote to us, it can't be understood. I'm keeping our options open to alter the project throughout the month, empowering my kids to suggest ways to "survive" it, trying hard not to be judgemental about our spoiled selves, and letting go of the shopping reins in these last few days before September 1st. I'm hoping that during the month, some kind of light bulb goes on for someone and an ah-ha moment replaces the resentment and eye-rolling I'm getting right now.

And I'm believing that, like I wrote yesterday on Pass the Torch Tuesday, process is more important than product. If we fail miserably at cutting out the materialism, but succeed in having conversations about important and otherwise ignored subjects, then we'll have succeeded after all.

Risks that may result in failures, but that help to discover truths, are worth taking.

Care to join me?

Carnival of the Vanities is up at Lil Duck Duck. After you're through WFM Wednesday-ing, there are great posts there to keep you busy the rest of the day;)

More 30 Days posts:
Day 1
Week 1
Week 2

For more participants in this project, visit Intent.
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Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Pass the Torch Tuesday - It's the PROCESS, not the product

Banner by Bluebird Blogs If you need the code for your post, let me know.

Welcome to Pass the Torch Tuesday, where bloggers share simple and stupendous times kids make us proud. Guidelines are simple:

1. Write about catching a kid being good.
2. Link to here from your post.
3. Permalink your post from here.

Join us with a story or comment. Complete guidelines and former PTT links are HERE.

It's the Process, not the Product

What's wrong with this picture?

My husband (who I know secretly reads this blog, since he now offers content ideas) had the foresight to suggest I take this shot before our family massacred the flattened, gooey, yet mysteriously tasty treats. Anyway, what does this have to do with PTT Tuesday, you may ask?

My kids love to bake chocolate chip cookies, and have done so often enough that I can now leave them to their own devices. This sometimes results in sibling squabbling about "who gets to do what", but I tell them to work it out, or put the batter away.

This time, they found a solution, much to my relief, but as you can see, somethin's missin' in this melty batch of mush.

In this household, the process is far more important than the product.

The bakers aren't sure which ingredient they forgot. Please write your guesses in comments.

One participant will receive the Pass the Torch Award button and this "ASSETS" magnet.

I'm a huge promotor of the research-based Developmental Asset Approach, which helps adults look at what's right with kids, rather than what's wrong with them.

If you give a shoutout to Pass the Torch Tuesday (tell your readers about it), please let me know - I'll link to you here. Thanks!

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Sunday, August 27, 2006

Technologically Speaking

Just a few technical items:

First, if you tried to access my blog yesterday and got a bunch of mumbo jumbo, it's because you happened to click here right when I performed a blog backup. Lindsey wrote a great post about backing-up everything, and she motivated me to get started!

I used the directions given in Blogger and it was simple, though the "delete your whole template" part was a bit nerveracking. I copy/pasted my template into a Word document and replaced it with their ten little lines of script. After going through the process and saving the file, I rebooted my saved template and "Voila!" Worked just like they said it would. It took about 20 minutes, only because, as usual, publishing time is slow. But the rest was very quick. SO BACK UP YOUR BLOG.

Secondly, several of you have asked me about the photography here, and it is mine - all of it (save for a periodic guest appearance by Deena's shots.) I use a Canon EOS Digital Rebel XT, an 8 megapixel beast that I've come to adore. My current photo gizmo choices are HP Image Zone for image adjustment, Image Shack for slideshows and Photobucket for video.

Third, I've decided to switch to Wordpress and will be working on the changeover in the next few weeks. If you have any words of advice, please share them! I'll have my own domain and host, so I think this will eliminate some issues. I'll keep you posted as I get closer to the switch.

Important: I'm looking for specific advice about aspects of this site you like, which you think should be different, and what has worked for you in Wordpress. PLEASE COMMENT - I'd like to hear from you before I get too far into the process.

Finally, if you're telling your readers (giving a shoutout) about Pass the Torch Tuesday, thank you! Please let me know and I'll link to you tomorrow.



Carnivals! I'm participating in three this week, with the post, Wish For You.

Michelle's Carnival of the Blogging Chicks is already up. My favorites are: Back up Everything, She Covereth, From the Heart

Kailani's Carnival of Family Life will be up at Everything Under the Moon Sunday night. Of note: Letting go of Perfection and Love Is...

And the Carnival of the Vanities, which is hosted by Lil Duck Duck this week, will be up on Wednesday.

Come and read with me! I'll share my cotton candy;)

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Mackinac Bridge

Grab the Scavenger Hunt code.
Photo Theme. Join the blogroll. Visit participants.

See you next week for Pass the Torch Tuesday!

Friday, August 25, 2006

Receiving Message 46 of 302

Today marks the official end of a fantastic trip to Mackinac Island, Michigan and Sault St. Marie, Ontario. I will share lots more about this excellent trip with my daughter in the coming days. In the meantime I have much catchup work to do, including the management of 302 email messages in my main inbox. I've enjoyed reading every one of your comments and intend to return the favor very soon! But if I claim comment bankrupcy, please forgive me. I'm bound to rebound.

This week I randomly selected a winner from the excellent Pass the Torch Tuesday contributors. Congratulations to Kailani, who receives the Pass the Torch Award Banner this week for her daughter's darling note to the new baby-to-be.

Other excellent contributors were Meredith (the power of siblings), Faerie Rebecca (cleaning without whining), Christine (her right-hand-12-year-old daughter), and Susan (children's answers to questions about mothers). Be sure to check them out!

Thursday, August 24, 2006

13 Truths about Mackinac Island

13 Truths about Mackinac Island

1. It's pronounced MackinAW, not MackinACK.
2. Vehicles are not allowed, although I did see an ambulance retrieving a young bicyclist that crashed.
3. The road encircling the island is a Michigan State Highway. But motored vehicles are not allowed.
4. Fulltime workers are hired to clean up horse manure.
5. It is not possible for me to get sick on fudge. If it were possible, I would definitely have gotten sick.
6. It's swimming in history - military, French, Native American, Irish, you name it.
7. Few people live there year-round; last year's graduating high school class was nine students.
8. A motor, of any sort, is rarely heard. I witnessed exactly one lawnmower during our 3 day visit.
9. I awoke to the steady clippity clop of one horse's hooves. Nothing else.
10. A nine-year-old can bike 15 miles in a day.
11. The best lunches are picnics of odds and ends saved from the day before and the grocery store.
12. The best dining tables are outdoors, next to crystal blue waters and sunshine.
13. The best company is a daughter.

I'll be back later with stories from our trip. See you for next week's Pass the Torch Tuesday!

Links to other Thursday Thirteens!

Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!

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Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Do you know what hail clouds mean?

Wordless Wednesday


Scroll down for yesterday's Pass the Torch Tuesday participant posts. They're excellent! And I'm posting from outside the state (and country) this week, so I'll be slow on commenting, but I promise to get to you eventually!

Get your Wordless Wednesday code here. Technorati Tag:

Monday, August 21, 2006

Simply Good - Pass the Torch Tuesday

Special thanks to Susie at Bluebird Blogs for the banner!
If you need the code for your post, let me know.

WELCOME to Pass the Torch Tuesday, where bloggers share simple and stupendous times they've caught kids being good. I hope you'll join us with a story, a comment, or to read everyone else's! Guidelines and former Tuesday links are HERE.

Simply Good

Sometimes I think kids just know what you need.
After two weeks of a tense household, with children who forgot how to play with each other, I was faced with several days of writing deadlines, huge
Empowering Youth orders and trip planning. I was very concerned about how I would accomplish everything, while serving as referee as well.

But for whatever reason - coincidence, understanding, or Divine intervention - they played house for two solid days. In fact, I had to periodically stop them from playing so that we could have lunch or run errands. They just got along, like they did before the two weeks of "I don't like you very much."

I guess if our kids are never naughty, we don't appreciate it as much when they're good.

How have you caught a kid being good? or smart? or responsible? Join us for Pass the Torch Tuesday! Link to your post or leave a comment!
Click here for guidelines. Need some inspiration? Check out last week's participants.

One random participant will receive the Pass the Torch Award button (see sidebar.)

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Fill 'er up - with school supplies

In some communities in our area, the poverty rate approaches 50%, and even school-supplies shopping can be a financial challenge for some families. So for the last couple of years, when we fill our school lists, we also buy in bulk any items that are a fantastic deal. Then we donate those to the school for kids that need them. It reframes our typical back-to-school shopping madness mindset.

This year, we probably didn't spend more than $20, but look at what we gave? Believe it or not, the backpacks, and ten packages of pens and pencils cost a total of $2 from Menards (after rebates.) We filled up the rest of the space with standard list items like notebooks, crayons, markers, glue sticks, pencils and pens - whichever products were the best deal when we shopped.

So if you've yet to shop for your kids' school supplies, consider filling up your cart with the sale items, or those with rebates. Someone's bound to need them.

Knitting Maniac had a funny post last week about the joys of school supplies shopping, and I can relate to everything she said! Be sure to go check it out. It also made me think about an activity we've done for a couple years now, that reframes my typical back-to-school shopping mindset.

For a bazillion other excellent ideas, check out Shannon's WFMW Hub.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Carnival of Family Life - Wiener Whiner

Here's my submission to the Carnival of Family Life this week and guess what? I won Kailani's random drawing!! Cool huh? The rest of the submissions are at Princess and the Pea.

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.
See you for Pass the Torch Tuesday!

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Hold the Mustard, Please

I submitted this re-post from earlier this spring to the Carnival of Travel this weekend. A version of this story was printed in Budget Travel.

And join me in Kailani's Carnival of Family Life. All the submission details can be found in her sidebar. Doncha wanna know what I submitted? You'll have to go over there and see on Monday! By the way, her list of "How you know blogging's taking over your life" is a stitch.

I'll be away for a couple of days, but back Monday evening to begin accepting submissions for Pass the Torch Tuesday!
I'm sure we'll have new additions THROUGHOUT THE DAY ON TUESDAY, so check back often. See you then!

Hold the Mustard, Please

Last summer, my then eight-year-old daughter came with me to Maryland on a week-long journey along the Chesapeake Bay. Though she’s not a fan of crustaceans, she accompanied me to sample blue crab at a restaurant in St. Michaels.

Expecting a mountain of claws with drawn butter, we were shocked when our waitress arrived with whole crabs -- legs, shells, guts, eyes and all. Deena wielded her mallet as she wasn’t convinced her crab was even dead. In fact, it resembled Sebastian on The Little Mermaid.

Lucky for us, our waitress expertly demonstrated proper crab picking, thankfully removing the entrails (locals call it the “mustard”), piling the smelly mess on the disposable tablecloth and revealing the tasty crabmeat inside.

Eyes pinched shut, Deena tried a morsel, then gently asked me, “Do you think we could go out for chicken tonight?”

Here's the article as it appeared in Budget Travel:

Friday, August 18, 2006

Heard in my World

19 minutes into a 90-minute drive to Grandma's:

"Eeeewww, what's that smell? Mom did you run over a skunk?"

"No, that's turkey poop."

"Oh, man, that smells. Maybe it's cow poop."

"No, that's turkey poop."

"Mom, are you sure you didn't run over a skunk?"

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

37 minutes into a 90-minute drive to Grandma's:

"I did NOT!"

"You did too!"

"I did NOT!"

"You did too!"

"I did NOT!"

"You did too!"
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

62 minutes into a 90-minute drive to Grandma's:

"How long until school starts?

"18 days, 20 hours and 46 minutes."


Wednesday, August 16, 2006

13 Inspiring Kids

I've been introduced to many inspiring kids lately, mostly because of Pass the Torch Tuesday, which is an exercise in catching kids being good. But these kids are being AWESOME.

The first 8 of this week's 13 are from this Tuesday's excellent posts. Please tell me how on earth I'm supposed to choose a winner?

Forget it - they all get the award. Congratulations!!

Thirteen perfect examples of what's right about young people -- please check them out!

1. Karate Kid at Drama Queen's Mama made me cry with pride.

2. Sally, at Susan's blog stands up for herself.

3. Mommy Needsa Mai Tai shows how seven-year-old Chad demonstrates above-and-beyond responsibility.

4. Door Man steps up to the plate, just like a pro at Unexplored Territory.

5. And then Hoss will make you cry again at If Momma Ain't Happy.

6. WAYA's five-year-old Tyler teaches us how to stay safe in a world that sometimes isn't.

7. Tired But Happy's son knows all about generosity and giving.

8. Rebecca's daughter, Mara, demonstrates compassion and caring for others.

9. Looking for Hope celebrates her older child taking the younger siblings under her wing.

10. Deena understands more than I think.

11. A preschool Tim surprised his mom about his reading skills.

12. Previous winners: Tyler, The Queen, and Wystful1's son inspired us last week.

13. A talented 10-year-old just launched her own blog. She draws and writes, and she's quite good!. Please visit her at The Smilly Family.

See you for next week's Pass the Torch Tuesday! And let me know if you think I should do the vote again next time. I was thinking it would be easier to just select winners, but it's not! I could do a random thing as well. Any comments would be appreciated. Thanks!

Links to other Thursday Thirteens!

Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!

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Works for Me Wednesday -- Staying Sane in the Summer

I've been an avid lurker on Shannon's Works for Me Wednesday for weeks now. It is an awesome meme with excellent participants and I always get great reminders and tips from the people posting.

But lately, the closest I can get is "Evading-the-Asylum" Wednesday, so I usually choose to go wordless (scroll down).

Today, it will be 87 degrees, which usually means humid as well. We're all just limping along here hoping to not have any sibling blowouts between now and the day they go back to school.

Our solution? Look at my header.


Any kind, any way, any how. Water.

Our favorite keep-the-sanity water activity is dock-jumping, but at different times in our lives, we've been known to stay sane in the summer by pool-wading, water-sliding, water balloon-throwing, sprinkler-running, hose-spraying -- even bucket-dumping.

I know it's a simple thing, but it works for me!

I was quoted in All You this month, about what I love about August:

"On the most sweltering summer day, when the sun is at its peak, I will hear my kids fly out the door, rumble down the lakeshore two steps at a time,

then boom, boom, boom, airborne off the dock...


Looking for my Wordless Wednesday? It's HERE. Pass the Torch Tuesday participants? HERE And for more WFMW - go HERE.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Mussel Man

My daring boy trying a bit of seafood on Tybee Island, Georgia. Think he ate it??

Scroll down for Pass the Torch Tuesday participant posts. They're excellent this week!

Get your Wordless Wednesday code here. Technorati Tag:

Monday, August 14, 2006

Geography Lesson

Special thanks to Susie at Bluebird Blogs for the banner!
If you need the code for your post, let me know.

Here is round two of Pass the Torch Tuesday. I hope you'll join us with a story, a comment, or to read everyone else's! Guidelines are here. Last week's excellent meme participants are here.
Congratulations to Mommy Needsa Mai Tai for winning the button last week!

Geography Lesson

I'm planning a girl's trip with my daughter. Last summer we went to the Chesapeake Bay and it was fantastic. But this year, she's chosen Mackinac Island in Northern Michigan.

I knew approximately where the island was located and really didn't think much more about it. I reserved lodging, talked to Deena about what we might do while we're there, visited websites and sent for brochures.

But I didn't get a map.

Deena was studying a Wisconsin map to figure out the best way to get there. She's the navigator while we drive, so she needs to have a basic route figure out. But the map only included part of Michigan's Upper Peninsula. I told her, "It's just past the edge of the page, so we'll just continue on this road a bit and we'll be there."

She really wanted to see the whole route, and I couldn't find the atlas. So she dug out an old hard-cover topographical map from the 1970's and started turning the pages. A couple minutes later, I heard her from the other room.

"So we're going to see Lake Huron?" she asked.

"No, we'll be on Lake Michigan," I responded, hardly paying attention.

But she was convinced, so she showed me the map. "See, Mackinac Island is on Lake Huron."

I've traveled to all fifty states and at least 14 countries. I'm a master player at "Carmen Sandiego." I've probably BEEN to Mackinac Island, though I don't remember it (much to my mother's chagrine.)

And I didn't know that Mackinac Island was on Lake Huron.

So I guess we'll be visiting two Great Lakes, rather than one. And we'll be driving at least an extra two hours to get there. Good thing she's thorough!

We decided on this location a year ago, long before the bombers decided the bridge would be a great target. We'll proceed with caution, and then we'll have another social studies lesson - the one about bombs and terrorists.

How have you caught a kid being good? or smart? or responsible? Join us for Pass the Torch Tuesday! One participant each week will receive the Pass the Torch Award button (see sidebar.) Link to your post or leave a comment! Click here for guidelines.

Thanks to Bloggy Gossip for the shoutout. Have you seen what they're doing over there? And once you've visited all our Pass the Torch Tuesday participants, be sure to check out 5 Minutes for Mom's Tackle it Tuesday!

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Photo Project

They're doing a fun project at 5 Minutes for Mom, asking readers to post photos of their babies and list what worked or didn't work in the photo.

Well, she isn't a baby anymore, but this shot is from last year's "girls only" trip with my daughter. She's navigating a 120-year-old skipjack, believe it or not. To read more, my Chesapeake Family feature article is HERE.

Here are a few things that I learned from this photo:

1. Get funky with angles.
2. Watch what's behind the subject. Had I been even with her, the handrail would have made a busy background.
3. Don't be afraid of the candid. Saying "cheese" isn't always the best option.
4. Be careful about the sun's location. I could have probably used a little flash on this photo, even though it's broad daylight. It may have brightened her face a bit.
5. If you think you'll ever have a shot at a cover (which I did with the photos I took that day), invest in more megapixels before going on the trip.

If you're joining in on the fun, please leave a comment here, and I'll add your link. Then visit 5 Minutes for Mom to find more picture posts.

Jodi, Mommy@Home, Lil Duck Duck, Lessons from the Scrapbook Page, Five Time Mommy, The Pink Diary, Looking for Hope, All Natural Mommies, Mommy Colored Glasses, Eagle's Wings

See you tomorrow for this week's Pass the Torch Tuesday!

P.S. I'm also using this list post to participate in Darren's Problogger group writing project. His site is an excellent resource -- I encourage you to check it out.

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Sunday, August 13, 2006

By Popular Demand...

I've decided to combine the contest with the meme.

Each week, one post from the Pass the Torch Tuesday participants will receive the "Pass the Torch Award". That person will receive the sidebar button to proudly display on his or her blog.

The selected post from last week's inaugural Pass the Torch Tuesday is Mommy Needsa Mai Tai, for her story entitled, "Mama's Sick Day". Congratulations!

Be sure to peruse last week's meme and read the stories and comments. They were great!

I hope you'll join us this Tuesday for the fun and great stories. HERE ARE GUIDELINES.

Also, the Carnival of Family Life is up at Tired but Happy. Please go read the excellent posts!

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12 Reasons I Love You

My husband and I are celebrating our 12th wedding anniversary today, and we were surprised by some wonderful gifts from our children. Our son gave us 100 minutes of back massages or hair brushing, PLUS 10 "free" errands, and my daughter gave us candy and this excellent card: "12 Reasons Why I Love You":

1. You love me.
2. You care about my education.
3. You care for me.
4. You want me to have a fun life.
5. You believe in me.
6. You trust me.
7. You trust me. (Must have been an important one!)
8. You want to do what's best for me.
9. You encourage me to do even better.
10. You let me grow.
11. You respect me.
12. You respect me for if I did my best, not for right or wrong.

I couldn't possibly write anything that would define this blog any better than this list. What memorable anniversary gifts have you received from your children?

I'll see you on Pass the Torch Tuesday! I hope you'll join us!
NOTE: By popular demand, one participant at each Pass the Torch Tuesday will receive the PASS THE TORCH AWARD! The winner will have the opportunity to proudly display the award button.

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Saturday, August 12, 2006

Blog Building

I need advice.

I've done some research on what works in the blogosphere and the gizmos I'd like to use on this blog. I participated in Problogger's group writing project and gained all kinds of insight there as well. I've read about why people love Wordpress and Typepad and why many are sometimes frustrated with Blogger.

I love my design by Susie at Bluebird Blogs. Love it love it love it! But now I'm finding myself restricted by what Blogger can't do.

Like the following:

1. Catagorize automatically, rather than my clumsy manual method that's already a month behind.

2. Email my commenters without being an FBI agent. I love to comment on your blogs, and would continue to do so, but sometimes I'd like to email you as well. It drives me crazy -- 17 clicks and pages later -- to find out there is no email address.

3. Use tools like "most recent commenters" in my sidebar.

4. For the life of me figure out how the heck to trackback (on my blog or someone else's). This of course, my platform has the capability to do, but it's operator does not;)

I'd love your input. I'm leaning toward Wordpress or Typepad, but could you tell me why or why not I should choose either one? By the way, the platform has to be WYSIWYG because my geek score is embarrassingly low. (Although I've become quite proficient with cut and paste;))

Thanks for your help!

Tell me your picks and I'll tally you here:

Wordpress: The Pink Diary , Artist By Nature
Typepad: Don't Try this at Home
Making it work with Blogger: Of Making Many Books

Friday, August 11, 2006

Heard in my World

On cleaning the house - "Are we having company, or what?"

(NO! Well YES, but I'd also like to know there's still carpeting underneath all that stuff on your floor.)

On why he didn't ski last year - "because Dad pushed me out of the BOAT and I part-way got WATER up my nose."

On not finding any garage sales - "We need to go to the 'suburbs'"

Um... the ones outside our village of 1,000?


On cupboard organization - "Why are there four open bags of marshmallows?"

Heard the Gossip?

Pass the Torch is the talk of the blogosphere! (Well, kind of;))

Reading for Pleasure

I've read some excellent posts about books lately. First, Mary at Owlhaven challenged her readers to tell the best books for kids.

Then Shannon, at Rocks in My Dryer, did a similar thing today, but it's a meme and lots of folks joined in.

We're approaching the end of summer. I think it's only fitting that I join in too. Maybe the kids can finish just a couple more?

Reading for Pleasure is one of the 40 Developmental Assets, so getting children to read for fun is a huge step toward raising successful kids.

My nine-year-old daughter's read all of these twice, so I know they must be good;)

All-things-Potter (magic and all)

Cornelia Funke's Thief Lord, Dragon Rider and Inkheart

The Magician's Nephew (The Chronicles of Narnia)

The Secret Garden

The Babysitter's Club Series

How about you? What do your kids love to read?

If you're posting about this, let me know. I'll add you here: Kids, Cats & Books, Don't Try this At Home, Susan Stephenson, Bloggin Outloud (classics for teenagers), Wired Wisdom, Road Less Traveled, Stranded in the Mountains

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Making the World A Better Place

The AW Chain is in it's fourth round now and Laurie at Peregrinas , who always has excellent, informative posts, has tagged me with an outstanding topic:

"What do you do to make the world a better place?"

If you've ever read my blog, surely you know my answer: I raise my kids the best way I can.

I figure my imprint on them is the most significant, ongoing impact I can make in the world, and I hope, with all my parenting imperfections, that the good outweighs the bad once the tallies are made.

In a broader sense, of course, I hope that my focus on youth empowerment and Developmental Assets makes a difference as well. Seeing young people as contributing members of society isn't necessarily a mainstream way of thinking. My hope is that by describing empowered, responsible kids, I will help others to recognize and celebrate those qualities in other youth.

For instance, Australian writer (and AW colleague), Gillian Pollack told me about an outstanding example of youth empowerment she's witnessed. Teams of youth in Louisiana have helped to improve literacy in their communities. It's a powerful example of what young people can accomplish when they're recognized as useful. I'm hoping that Pass the Torch Tuesday will continue to generate stories like this one, as well as those about parents witnessing great things in their children.

Peggy at The Road Less Traveled is next in the chain. Please visit her, and all the AW Chain participants. We'd all love to read your comments on this series of posts. CLICK HERE for the complete list of participants. I'll update it with permalinks once the chain is completed.


Time for school, kiddos!

In three weeks, school will start again.

Although I try to focus on the positive, and I relish the time I spend with my family, I find myself content in the fact that my loving, beautiful, empowered, responsible and NOISY children will soon be elsewhere during the day.

My Thursday Thirteen this week explains why it’s so.


1. Evening is the best time to ski anyway.

2. My son keeps beating me at yahtzee.

3. We’ve already done nearly everything on our “summer stuff” list -- twice.

4. All my emails have 20 typos because I send them prematurely -- in-between, “She scratched me” and “Can we go to Dairy Queen?”

5. The phrase, “I’m bored,” will soon drive me to eat an entire gallon of mint chocolate chip ice cream.

6. The only well-“rounded” lunch we’ve had in the past weeks is circle-shaped frozen pizzas.

7. My book proposal is buried under a bushel of junkmail and threatens to leave me for another author.

8. Those grade-level enrichment books didn’t get finished (started?) this summer – so they can’t go to college yet.

9. I’ll enjoy them getting on the bus in the morning.

10. …and off in the afternoon.

11. The summer months have already given me enough blog fodder to last until May.

12. I shouted, “YES, sister!” when I read Crazy Hip Blog Mamas's interview with Chilihead. She described one of her greatest challenges as a mom:

“… not completely losing it when my kids are going into round eleventy million of petty arguments about who gets the grape spoon.”

13. I lost my earplugs.

See you for next week's Pass the Torch Tuesday! For more posts about back-to-school, visit the Work At Home Moms page.

Links to other Thursday Thirteens!

Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!

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Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Driftwood Climber

See you for next week's Pass the Torch Tuesday!
And check out my blogtopsites rank this week! ----------->

You can find more Wordless Wednesday posts at 5 Minutes for Mom

Get your Wordless Wednesday code here. Technorati Tag:

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

And the winner is....

Drumroll please....

Congratulations to WAYA who earned the most votes in the Pass the Torch contest for her post about Mommy's Proudest Moment.

Unexplored Territory and Wystful1 came in second and third places, respectively. The top three vote-getters will each have the opportunity to display the Pass the Torch Award button on their sites.

Thank you also to Gillian Pollack, Susan Stephenson, Looking for Hope and Mommy Needs a Mai Tai, for participating in the contest and submitting such great examples of youth empowerment and responsibility. So many bloggers came out to announce the contest and vote for their favorite stories -- thank you all for your help!

Please watch for future contests and I hope to see you all participate in Pass the Torch Tuesday in the future. You obviously know what to look for!

A HUGE thank you to Susie at Bluebird Blogs for the excellent award and contest buttons!

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Pass the Torch Tuesday – Inaugural Edition!

Gasket Rescuers

I’m often accused, by giggling children, of needing a memory upgrade. And I’m reluctantly sure that they’re right.

I think it was 500 degrees in the car after we unloaded all ten boxes of our donated items at the resale shop. “Hurry, hurry! Let’s get the air on!” I said.

I reached for the ignition and my heart skipped a beat.

No keys.

I jumped up, searched the seat and dug through my purse, all the while realizing that my human gasket was about to blow.

“I just drove here five minutes ago!” my mind raced. Seriously, how can a person lose her keys like that?

Then both my kids, ages seven and nine, got out of the car and started searching with me. They looked in the front seat, back seat, and on the floor. They crouched down to look on the pavement. Curt even popped the trunk. Then Deena ran into the shop to dig through the boxes we’d just unloaded.

I never asked them to help. They just did. They could have continued with their silly sibling conversation, or whined about how hot it was. But instead, they recognized what I needed – what we needed -- and they cared enough to step up to the plate.

I know it seems simple, but most remarkable things are.

It turns out that neither of them found the keys – I did. In the most ridiculously obvious and stupidly overlooked spot (the camera bag on the seat NEXT to my purse.) But they made my day -- and saved my gasket from certain demolition.

Car started, air conditioner blasting, I turned to them and said, “Thank you.”

“No problem, Mom.”

How have you caught a kid being good? I’d love to hear from you!

(Thanks to Lyn at Bloggin' Outloud for the shoutout!)

Join us each week for Pass the Torch Tuesday! One participant each week will receive the Pass the Torch Award button (see sidebar.) Link to your post or leave a comment! Click here for guidelines.

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Monday, August 07, 2006

Blogosphere Buzz

Besides the excellent Pass the Torch contest entries (GO VOTE!!), there are other great things going on in the blogosphere this week.

The Crazy Hip BLog-Mamas are telling us to "show the love" with Pajama Mama's Good Bloggin Days , a positive commenting project.

Kailani's hosting another outstanding Carnival of Family Life, which I MUST submit to next time.

And because I'm a nut for all-things-empowerment, I'm going to share with you a post by Mr Sherr, who is excited about his new position for this school year. He'll be empowering youth through the visual arts! Go congratulate him on his new position.

TOMORROW will be the inaugural edition of "Pass the Torch Tuesday" and I'll invite you to join me in posting about how you caught a kid being GOOD! Meme details, my story, and MR LINKY will be here tomorrow. See you then!


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Sunday, August 06, 2006


(VOTING IS CLOSED - please CLICK HERE for results.)

We've received excellent submissions for the Pass the Torch Contest. Now it's your turn, as readers, to select the one you believe best illustrates youth showing their true colors as empowered and responsible young people.

Please visit each site and after reading these brief stories, select in the poll below which post you liked the most.

Mommy's Proudest Moment -- a proud mother witnessing her son caring for his youngest brother.

Asteroid Team -- kids joining forces to help out with Hurricane Katrina victims.

Holding the Book -- a child taking his turn to read, surprising his mom with his new skill.

Celebrating Manhood -- a mother's tribute to her hero son.

San Francisco - Here We Come -- an older sibling showing patience and care with younger family members.

A Servant's Heart -- a daughter who gently lays to rest a befriended squirrel.

Mommy's Sick Day -- children bringing soup to their mommy, who's sick in bed.

Polling will close Tuesday night, so please spread the word and get out the vote! The author who receives the most votes will have the opportunity to proudly display the Pass the Torch Award button below.

Thanks to Lil Duck Duck and Crazy Hip Blog Mamas for announcing our poll!

Note: Please join us for Pass the Torch Tuesday! Click here for guidelines.

A HUGE thank you to Susie at Bluebird Blogs for the excellent award and contest buttons!

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Friday, August 04, 2006

Personal Power

"Dad, I want to try to ski today," says the seven-year-old who's never skied.

"Me too," says the nine-year-old who did once last summer, but started on shore with the loving and physical support of our friend Bridget.

"But Mom has to be in the boat with me. You'll have to get up on your own," says Dad.

"We can do it."

So we load the boat, with skis that look longer than our kids are tall. At the quietest spot on the lake, each takes a turn.

The chilly lake entry.

The frustrated whine that those darn skis have minds of their own.

The repeated circle of the boat after losing the rope. And the splashing wake that follows.

The gentle rise of the skis that means they're finally pointing up and the rope's tight.

"GO!" says Mom.

The growl of the motor. Plowing water for an eternal split second. Then falling.

"STOP!" says Mom.

Again with all the rigamoral of a novice skier.

Then finally, with the grace of a loon, the surprise of a Price is Right contestant, and smiles as broad as Montana, they ski.

Mom cries.

Success, after frustration and failure, breeds personal power.

Please remember to email me your Pass the Torch Award posts by Sunday. I look forward to reading them all! For more ideas about posts that illustrate youth empowerment and responsibility, please read all my posts from this week. I've also linked to those who have entered the contest so far. I look forward to reading more of your entries!

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Thursday, August 03, 2006

I was very pleased to learn that my Thursday Thirteen Post this week was selected as a featured blog of the week at the Thursday Thirteen hub!

I consider it an honor and I appreciate all the thoughtful comments that I received from those reading my post.

Thank you all!!

(P.S. Please remember to visit to submit your Pass the Torch contest entry!)

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Thirteen Clues about Responsibility and Empowerment

In an imperfect life spotted with arguments, messy rooms and periodic bad days, I’m blessed with glimpses of empowered, responsible kids. I hope these 13 snippets will inspire you to find those examples in your own children.

(P.S. Perhaps this will give you some ideas for the Pass the Torch Contest! Complete details at the Pass the Torch AWARD HUB:


1. He offers to make me breakfast.
2. She opens the door for the lady with an armload of groceries.
3. He donates hard-earned coins to charity.
4. She uses manners with the waitress, and orders her own food.
5. He surprises me, by cleaning his room the first time I remind him.
6. She feeds the cat without being asked (except by the cat;))
7. They accept a life-jumbling move because they know it will be better for the family.
8. They solve the never-ending and high-tension problem of “which game to play.”
9. She’s thoughtful about disturbing news stories describing hunger or war.
10. He befriends the new kid.
11. She stands up against a bully on the playground.
12. He accepts consequences for screwing up.
13. She forgives me for screwing up

Links to other Thursday Thirteens!

Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!

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Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Wordless Wednesday - Pass the Torch Theme

Blogger's being temperamental, so for this Wordless Wednesday, I'm just going to introduce you to my new design! Check out the banner. That ought to count for something;) Thanks to Susie at Bluebird Blogs for the awesome design.

Remember to enter a current or archived post in our Pass the Torch contest. Just tell us about a responsible, empowered kid in your life -- someone that makes you think the future of our world is in good hands! All the details are HERE.

You have until Sunday to enter - please tell your readers about it! If you want the sticker below for your announcement post, please email me and I'll send you the code.

Get your Wordless Wednesday code here.

Budding Photographer

Some of you've already read about my new toy. The Canon Digital Rebel XT is a dream, so the old Sony gathers dust these days.

Until Deena discovered it.

Now, just like me, she drags it along in her hippack, her purse, her bike and the boat (EEEK). She takes pictures of everything that moves -- or doesn't. She experiments with settings and figures out features I never used. I just clicked through the saved pictures and was like, "Where did these come from?" She's documenting the life that happens on the other side of the house.

At first, I was very protective of the camera. I gave the bill-payer's speech about how "this camera cost $400 when we bought it. It's fragile and not a toy."

Okay, today that camera would fetch about $5 on eBay. But still. She gets it. She's responsible with it. And she's found features I never used during the three years it was my sole source of scrapbook fodder.

She plans to bring it along on our trip to Mackinac Island this month. It will be just Deena and I - the picture-takers. And there will be no boys to rush us through the perfect sunset, the dilapidated barn, or the puppies on the corner.

We may wear out the brakes that week.

Here's a portrait she took of my brother and nephew. I think she has a photographer's eye. Don't you?

Remember to enter a post in our Pass the Torch contestat the Pass the Torch AWARD HUB. You have until Sunday to enter - please tell your readers about it! If you want the sticker below for your announcement post, please email me and I'll send you the code.

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