I wish my kids watched more TV

15090461410_2e567e2949-1

I know, weird, right? It even felt odd writing that title.

Trust me, I’m the first one in the house to scream about “screen time.” But in our house, “screen time” refers to any computer, whether it’s hand-held or otherwise. And they get WAY too much screen time.

Somewhere around puberty, it just sort of happens. They migrate to different corners of the house, and become enveloped and isolated in their imaginary worlds.

That’s why I wish they watched more TV.

Watching TV is a social activity. It used to be that all 4 of us would sit down and watch a funny, family-friendly show. Sure, they’d argue about who sat where, and what show we watched, but at least they interacted.

And we laughed. Together. And a lot!

Family games are good too, but they take organization and a good block of time, and a lot of twisting of arms (especially for the older one). That’s too much commitment some days.

But TV is different. Sitting together just for a 30 minute show allows conversation to arise spontaneously. We can even discuss something we’ve just watched, which is so much easier, especially with teens, than trying to drag a conversation out of them. They don’t even realize they’re talking to you, but nuggets of wisdom are getting through.

But when everyone is on their own device and plugged in with their headphones, it’s silent. There is no conversation. They don’t want to be bothered.

Memories are made around the TV.

How many from my generation remember growing up to the Tuesday night line-up of Happy Days & Laverne & Shirley? We ALL remember that. Usually our parents were sitting right there with us. Or who else watched the Wonderful World of Disney on Sunday nights with their family? Or Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom?

Now, how many of you sit crowded around the computer watching YouTube together? See? It’s not the same thing.

It’s almost 8:00 on a Wednesday night. Think I’ll go see who wants to watch the Goldberg’s with me. Or maybe I can find a repeat of The Middle?

Wish me luck!

What do you think? Do you watch TV as a family?

 

Photo Credit: PhotoPin photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/43671133107@N01/15090461410″>Family Watching Television Together</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a&gt; <a href=”https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/”>(license)</a&gt;

Because I said so…

person-828632_1920Because I said so…

Oh, how I hated when my mother said those words to me. I wanted an explanation. Why? Why did I have to do whatever it was she wanted me to do?

How many times have I used those same words with my own kids?

Because I said so…

Sometimes there is no explanation. Sometimes it’s just a matter of following the rules, of doing it because I asked you to, and I want you to show me that you can follow my directions…no questions asked.

As I’ve gotten older, I’ve learned that life says those words to us sometimes. Sometimes God just wants us to follow directions and wait, and do what He’s asked because He said so.

My husband and I are at that sort of point right now. Sometimes the rug gets pulled out from under you and you don’t know why. “Because I said so” still isn’t enough, especially as an adult. But sometimes it has to be. We aren’t always privy to an explanation, especially when it comes to the timing.

So we wait. And do as we’re told. And follow the directions. Because, like most parents, God has a plan. There’s a reason we don’t always have a crystal door. Sometimes it’s for protection, sometimes it’s just to rest in Him.

Sometimes it’s just because He said so.

Stop the Soccer Snack Madness!

football-1533195_1920

I am so over the team snack thing!

My son is 10 this year, and I thought we’d escaped it, but there’s always that ONE mom. (If you are that mom, no disrespect). #soccermomlove

But, come on! We have a team of 14 boys. That’s 14 juices and 14 snacks. Logistically it doesn’t work. Capris Sun comes in packs of 10, Water comes in packs of 6, Gatorade comes in packs of 8, not to mention the snacks…what do you get for a 9am game? Have you seen the kids’ faces when you show up with Fruit?! Trust me…the disappointment on their faces is worse than if they lose the game.

At the first game last week, it was blazing hot at our 9am game. No one brought snacks, and everyone was responsible for their own kid. Guess what? They survived…ALL of them! They all brought their own water and that was enough. And we all got out of there and on to the next part of our day quickly, and effortlessly. I even got my kid a fruit smoothie on the way home…much better than any regular soccer snack!

But then I got the email. You know the one: “Hi, I’m the team mom, and am in charge of making a snack schedule.” Seriously?! The funny thing is that I don’t think I’m alone in my opinion because NO ONE has signed up to bring snacks. No one!

I was tempted to reply to her email asking if we really needed the snacks, but I’m afraid of the “Soccer Mom Backlash” that might ensue.

What do you think? What age do you think parents should be responsible for their own snacks?

She did say it was “Voluntary,” so maybe I’ll wait and see what happens. Maybe someone else will speak up, or maybe no one will “Volunteer.”

 

What To Do with That Unfinished Manuscript?

writing-427527_1920

If you’re a writer who’s been at your craft for a while, chances are you have several manuscripts that are unfinished. To date, I have several Manuscripts in some sort of “process.”

By that I mean, several are completed, as in they have a beginning, middle and ending. But they’ve never been professionally edited (can’t afford it), so they sit waiting “to be discovered.”

But then there are those “other manuscripts.” I have at least 4 of them that are around 7000 words, but they ran out of steam, each for different reasons. And you probably have some of those too.

Before you consider the paper shredder or having a bonfire, try something else.

Idea #1 – set it aside for a few months – Reread it, and maybe the flaw will come jumping out at you. Maybe you’ll realize that Robert couldn’t possibly be the murderer, because you forgot that Sheila murdered him in Chapter 3.

Idea #2 – Pull it apart – Maybe you have one really strong character and the rest are boring and uninspired. Maybe it was a mistake to place Amara the Elf in the same story as Arabella the English House Maid? Hey, it could happen. Maybe Amara is just in the wrong story?

Idea #3 – Research. Reasearch. Research – Maybe you haven’t done enough research on the topic you’ve chosen to write about? Maybe you don’t know as much about ancient basket weaving as you thought you did?

Idea #4 – Setting  – Change the setting. Maybe your lovers shouldn’t meet in the middle of a Western bar fight? Or maybe they should, but maybe they shouldn’t be lovers at all. Maybe they should be long lost siblings?

Idea #5 – Conflict – Maybe there’s too much? Maybe there’s not enough? Maybe the conflict is passive? Maybe you’re being too nice to your main character. Maybe she needs to fall off a cliff, get hit by a car, get thrown in jail, or all three at the same time?

Idea #6 – Dig deeper – Maybe your story isn’t working because you don’t care enough about your main character? Maybe you don’t know her as well as you thought you did. Maybe you need to work on her back story a little more. Maybe you need to find her Achilles heel and kick her in it…hard. Make her bleed (figuratively or literally depending on your genre) for something, or for someone. If you don’t feel her pain, your audience won’t either.

Idea #6 – Last resort – Shred it – It’s extreme and it’s painful, but maybe it needs to be done (though I don’t recommend it). Maybe the story isn’t working, because there is no story there? Maybe it really is just an “idea?” Maybe you just have the bones of a story, but there’s no meat on them. It’s hard to admit, but it happens.

 

Whatever the case may be, I would only resort to Idea #6 if you have a strong constitution. I don’t think I could ever destroy my work, not matter how cheesy it is. There’s an audience for it somewhere. Maybe you could include it in your biography when you’re rich and famous? Or maybe an MFA program would want it for a “What NOT to Do…” course?

I’m not a professional, and I’m not a published novelist (yet). This post was for me as much as it was for others. Maybe we could learn together. Feel free to share any hints that have helped you get back on track with your dormant manuscripts.

How Do Your Clothes Make You Feel?

pretty-woman-in-field-820477_1920

Somewhere around 2010, I saw Rhea Perlman in an Off-Broadway play called “Love, Loss and What I Wore.” Based on the book by Ilene Beckerman, it had a rotating cast and was a collection of stories by Nora Ephron and Delia Ephron.

It brilliantly showed the correlation we women have to occasions in our lives, both good and bad and how we can recall what we were wearing at the time. #clothesmakethewoman

Fashion has never been one of my strong suits. I’m a t-shirt and jeans girl, much to the chagrin of my husband. So to draw parallels between my clothes and love and loss is sort of a blur.

But a few stand out in my mind.

My Prom Dress – it was designed and handmade by my sister-in-law. It was an original, and I felt fabulous in it. Turquoise satin, one shoulder toga sort of design, only much more sleek and sexy. But still appropriate for a 17-year old.It was a fun and memorable night, and to this day, I still talk to many of the people that were there. Sadly, the dress won’t be passed down…I spilled champagne down the front of it, and never had it cleaned. (I was under age, and shouldn’t have been drinking).

My Wedding Dress – probably the heaviest dress I’ve ever worn. It was not my first choice. I had envisioned a short sleeved, lace bodice with pearls down the back, with a round neckline and an a-line sort of skirt that dusted the floor. What I got was a long-sleeved, poofy-shouldered, sweatheart-neckline, with a full skirt that wasn’t hemmed short enough so I had to sort of kick my feet to keep from stepping on the skirt and tripping as I walked down the aisle. Someone convinced me to “go big” and “wear something I wouldn’t normally wear.” My favorite part of the dress was the veil and the hanky that I handmade from pieces of my mother’s wedding gown that I couldn’t wear because it had yellowed over time. But the day was beautiful, and awkward, and I got to marry my best friend.

My two pairs of Chemin de Fer jeans – One pair was kelly green and the other was a pair of purple, bell-bottom sailor pants. Don’t judge…it was 1978. I begged for weeks for those jeans. I still can’t believe my mother actually gave in. I wore those jeans like a badge of honor. I think the only reason I got them was because they were probably marked down.

My black suede over-the-knee, lace-up-the-back boots from Wild Pair – I had to put them on layaway so I could pay for them myself with my first job at Blue Chip Cookies. I may still have those in a closet somewhere. I wore them everywhere. They made me feel “edgy.”

A Hospital Gown – I know…it’s a weird one. But it’s what I was wearing my kids were born. It’s what I have on in the pictures of two of the happiest occasions in my life.

So, how about you? Does fashion cause you to reminisce? Was it a dress, or a hat, or a pair of shoes?

When a “DIY Hack” isn’t really a “Hack”

pay-706798_1280When “DIY Hacks” take advantage of the system

I’m all for “Hacks” and saving money. Let’s face it…I’m as budget conscious as the next gal.

I love that I can clean my shower with baking soda and a scrub brush. Baking soda is super cheap, I don’t have to wear a gas mask to protect myself from the fumes as with other shower cleaners, and if I happen to miss a spot while rinsing, big deal. I can always finish rinsing the shower the next time I’m actually taking a shower. Who can beat that? #nofumecleaning

But I take issue when “hacks” abuse the system. Then, it’s no longer a “hack.”

I’ve wanted to write a post about Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library , but just haven’t had the chance yet, so I searched to see if anyone else had. If you don’t know what the Imagination Library is, you should check it out and see how you can get involved. In a nutshell, Dolly Parton started the charity as a way to foster literacy by giving books to children regardless of their income. To me, that means that kids who may not be able to afford books now have a resource for them. Great idea! #godolly

So imagine how surprised and disappointed I was to find it on a Mom Blog’s Hack list as a way to “get free books.” Sorry…not the same thing! If you can afford to buy your own book, then buy one for someone else.

I’ve also seen “hacks” regarding service animals. One Pinterest “Hack” said to register your animal as a “service animal” then you can take it with you wherever you want. Again…not the same thing! I’m sure your pet is just as lovely as everyone else’s, but if you don’t need a service animal, then don’t PRETEND it is one.

As I said earlier, I LOVE “hacks,” but NOT at the expense of someone else. Not if the “hack” requires you to misuse the system, or manipulate the circumstances at the risk of ruining the service being provided for those who really need it.

That being said, and knowing what kind of a lovely person Dolly Parton seems to be, I’m sure she would not turn down any parent if they applied for the Imagination Library Program. I just don’t think it’s what she intended for the program.

I think that we should require a little more from ourselves. We should put more thought into our choices. We should GIVE a little more instead of trying to TAKE what we can for FREE every chance we get.

Just because you CAN get it for free, doesn’t mean that you SHOULD get it for free.

Am I the only one that’s bothered by this trend?

Finding Your Characters Voice

woman-1594711_1920

Sometimes you know a character from the inside out before you even start writing.

You know their likes and dislikes, their flaws and strengths, their physical appearance, their occupation, what makes them who they are and why they react the way they do. You know what makes them tick.

But then there are those characters that you can’t quite figure out. Sometimes you need a little push to get them started.

That’s when Character Generators can be helpful. #charactergenerator

I used to think that character generators and name generators were “cheating.” I mean, I’m the writer, the creator, shouldn’t I be able to figure this out on my own?

I was struggling with the back story for a side character in my current WIP. He’s not a crucial part of the driving plot, so I couldn’t quite picture him in my head, at least not as of yet.

My daughter, who writes FanFic and creates OC’s for her manga drawings, complete with back stories, is always talking about the many anime/manga resources there are on the web. So I decided to give it a try for my fiction WIP.

I ran across this website: http://writingexercises.co.uk/random-character-traits-generator.php

I have to say, if you’re stuck on plot line, character description, naming your character, or even just need a writing exercise to get your brain moving again, this site is awesome! And it’s free!

By the way, I’m not getting a kick-back from them or anything, but I just thought I would pass it along to my writer friends.

The “Character Trait Generator” is my favorite to use. It generates random personality traits, grouped 3 at a time that you may not consider going together. But, just like real life, our characters are dynamic and more than two-dimensional. One example I pulled up was “cowardly, sensitive, reckless.” See what I mean? It’s easy, and it’s a great launching pad to get you thinking about making your character more believable and engaging.

Do you have a favorite Generator website that you reference often?

I hope it helps get you out of the tight spaces and happy writing!