Final horses sketch for a spread of MY LOVE FOR YOU IS THE SUN

Final horses sketch for a spread of MY LOVE FOR YOU IS THE SUN

*12 x 12 members: please come back on the 6th for the featured author post. I gave a week extension because of the holiday, but I promise you won’t be disappointed! :-)

On this Thanksgiving week, I once again look in wonder upon the multitude of blessings in my life. So much so that I took pause earlier this week to reflect upon what the “giving” part of the holiday means and how I can do more.

Usually in these posts, I focus on the small things I’m grateful for, because they are often overlooked. This week I’ve interspersed some of the big things too.

Quotes on Gratitude

“Rest and be thankful.” — William Wadsworth Longfellow

“We would worry less if we praised more. Thanksgiving is the enemy of discontent and dissatisfaction.” — Harry A. Ironside

“Life without thankfulness is devoid of love and passion. Hope without thankfulness is lacking in fine perception. Faith without thankfulness lacks strength and fortitude. Every virtue divorced from thankfulness is maimed and limps along the spiritual road.” — John Henry Jowett

Gratitude list for the week ending November 30th

  1. The health and happiness of my two children. Nothing matters more.
  2. The ability to host family members for a Thanksgiving dinner, abundant with food and warmth and love (and a fire!)
  3. My home. Even when things go “wrong” as they did this week, I know how fortunate we are to have one.
  4. My dog. Despite the fact that he runs off through the neighborhood and drives me crazy. He also flops all 85 pounds of himself on my lap and then looks up at me with pleading eyes so I’ll scratch his chin.
  5. Being able to do what I love to do for a living
  6. Seeing Susan Eaddy’s final sketch for the horses illustration for MY LOVE FOR YOU IS THE SUN
  7. My college-age cousin peeled the potatoes for me on Thanksgiving. I DESPISE peeling potatoes! The fact that I didn’t have to do it was one of the best parts of Thanksgiving – seriously! :-)
  8. Seeing Catching Fire with my mom. SO. GOOD. !!!
  9. My kids helped clean and decorate the house this week without even being asked. And all was harmonious the whole time.
  10. Michigan played well against Ohio State, even if it was a heartbreaking final 30 seconds.

What are you grateful for this week?

Categories: Autumn, College Football, Crowdfunding, Dogs, Entertaining, Family, Friendship, Gratitude Sunday, I Need Wine Pronto!, Movies, Picture Books, Thanksgiving, Volunteer/Community · Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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Getting a great deal more excited to visit him in April!

The biggest and most unexpected gift I got this week was a video jingle from 12 x 12 in 2012 member Tim McCanna. You can see it on the 12 x 12 page, but I’ve included it at the end of this post too. Even if you are not a member – or a writer – it’s worth watching. It’s simply fantastic. Thanks Tim!

Quotes on Gratitude

“Gratitude is one of the least articulate emotions, especially when it is deep.” — Felix Frankfurter

“Gratitude helps you to grow and expand; gratitude brings joy and laughter into your life and into the lives of all those around you.” — Eileen Caddy

“Good men and bad men differ radically. Bad men never appreciate kindness shown them, but wise men appreciate and are grateful. Wise men try to express their appreciation and gratitude by some return of kindness, not only to their benefactor, but to everyone else.” — Buddha

Gratitude list for the week ending November 10

  1. Once again, I have to say the “video jingle” Tim McCanna made for 12 x 12 just blew me completely away. Did I also mention he’s doing the music and narration for A TROOP IS A GROUP OF MONKEYS? I have no doubt that one day I’ll be able to say, “I knew him when…”
  2. Speaking of TROOP, I am grateful to everyone who signed up to be a TROOPer and to purchase the app on its release day. I’m touched by the willingness of friends and family to help make the app a success in a market where it’s tough to get noticed.
  3. Both of my kids won their basketball games yesterday, but most importantly, they love playing.
  4. Another fantastic Margareaders meeting with a great discussion of the book WILD, by Cheryl Strayed
  5. Close win for Michigan in OT against Northwestern. But “a W is a W” as they say.
  6. Homemade crockpot chili
  7. A Twilight movie marathon with my cousin (and fellow Twitard) in advance of Breaking Dawn II
  8. After schlepping kids around to basketball games all morning and afternoon in cold, wet, slushy snow, being able to come home, don comfy clothes and have nowhere to go for the rest of the day and night.
  9. A productive work week
  10. Finally receiving my copy of DAVID, by Writer’s Renaissance faculty member Mary Hoffman. I read half of it in one sitting yesterday! It’s making me even more excited to go see him when we’re in Florence.
What are you grateful for this week?

Categories: 12 x 12 in 2012, Apps, Book Club, Books, College Football, Cooking, Digital Publishing, ebooks, Family, Florence, Friendship, Gratitude Sunday, Italy, Movies, Storybook Apps, Writer's Renaissance, Writing · Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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I adore this picture of dad and Em

My dad’s birthday is tomorrow, and it’s become a bit of a tradition for me to honor his memory with a blog post. I wrote one last year and the year before that. This year I decided to dedicate a Gratitude Sunday post to him, so this week’s list includes 10 reasons why I am grateful to him, although of course there are many more than ten.

Quotes on Gratitude

“When you are sorrowful look again in your heart, and you shall see that in truth you are weeping for that which has been your delight.” — Kahlil Gibran

“When someone you love becomes a memory, the memory becomes a treasure.” — Unknown

The highest tribute to the dead is not grief but gratitude.” — Thornton Wilder

Gratitude list for my father

  1. I am grateful that, long before any man would come into life, he made me understand what it felt like to be cherished.
  2. I am grateful he taught me how to make turkey gravy his way.
  3. I am grateful he got to meet both of my children.

    And this one with my stepmother Nancy and Jay

  4. I am grateful he provided me with a college education, and although it was difficult at times, I’m grateful that he pushed me to perform at my highest level in everything I did.
  5. I am grateful that he taught me the rules of football so I could be a true Wolverine.
  6. I am grateful for his dedication to family traditions, many of which I have passed on to my own children.
  7. Living with a lawyer in the family is not always easy, but I know it sharpened my wits, helped me learn to defend myself in a conflict, to learn the art of preparation, and to think logically when necessary. For these skills, I am grateful.
  8. I am grateful that when our neighbor Mr. Peterson threatened to force us to put our dog to sleep, my dad, in no uncertain terms, made it clear we would not and that furthermore, the subject was never to be raised again. (Again that lawyer thing)
  9. I am grateful he taught me to appreciate the small, but infinite and miraculous moments in nature that happen all around us all the time.
  10. I am grateful for his warped, sometimes twisted, and entirely unique sense of humor. Fred Foster stories are legendary among all who knew him, and it helps to have so many memories that make me laugh.
What are you grateful for this week?

 

Categories: Birthdays, Childhood, College Football, Dogs, Family, Gratitude Sunday · Tags: , , , , , , ,

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The first Gratitude Sunday post of 2012. Happy New Year everyone!  This week I was especially grateful that my family gave me two full days by myself at the Breckenridge rental to organize for the year.  I worked from the moment I got up until I collapsed into bed, only taking breaks to walk the dog and take my nightly soak in the jet tub.  I loved every minute of it, and I feel so ready for 2012!

Quotes on Gratitude

“A new year is unfolding – like a blossom with petals curled tightly concealing the beauty within.” — Unknown

“You’ve done it before and you can do it now. See the positive possibilities. Redirect the substantial energy of your frustration and turn it into positive, effective, unstoppable determination.” — Ralph Marston

“Each moment of the year has its own beauty… a picture which was never seen before and shall never be seen again.” — Ralph Waldo Emerson

Gratitude list for the week ending January 7

  1. Author Katie Davis gave me an amazing New Year’s gift by asking me to come on her Brain Burps About Books kidlit podcast.  I’ll be her first guest of 2012, and the interview goes live this Wednesday (so you’ll be hearing more soon :-))  What an honor and what a way to start the year!!
  2. I set four-year goals, which drove my annual goals (including 2012), which drove my monthly goals for 2012.  First time I’ve ever planned this strategically (and tactically), and it feels great!  Goals, not resolutions.
  3. Michigan won the Sugar Bowl!!  Bonus video of the song that’s been going through my head all week at the end of the post!  Hint: Def Leppard, 1980s…
  4. Laid down my first tracks of the season skiing at Breckenridge
  5. Six inches of snowfall on Saturday night
  6. The aforementioned deep-soaking jet tub at the Breckenridge rental.  It is heaven on earth.
  7. Jay catching snowflakes on his tongue on the chairlift
  8. Watching Rocky’s pure, unadulterated joy at running through fresh snow
  9. Bright pink mountains in the morning at sunrise, and deep red mountains in the evening at sunset.
  10. The astonishing response to the 12 x 12 in 2012 challenge, the support and camaraderie of the group, and the whimsical, phenomenal badge Linda Silvestri made for us.  I’m also grateful for Tara Lazar who kicked us off on Sunday.  I started the 12 x 12 group to inspire other picture book writers, but the participants in the group are inspiring me far more!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AQ4xwmZ6zi4

What are you grateful for this week?

Categories: 12 x 12 in 2012, Authors, College Football, Dogs, Family, Goals, Gratitude Sunday, Holidays, Picture Books, Skiing, Winter, Writing · Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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Denard!!!

What a week! A wonderful Thanksgiving in Virginia with the in-laws, a dinner out with my best friend, and MICHIGAN BEAT OHIO STATE! Since this is the first time I’ve been able to say that in SEVEN years, please indulge my desire to share some of the players’ post-game quotes.

Quotes on Gratitude for Winning the Game!

“My dream has always been to catch a touchdown in the Michigan/Ohio State game, and I finally did that. It means a lot to me and my family. It was a great play call. I was fortunate to slip inside the d-end, ran to the corner wide open, and Denard [Robinson] found me.” — Senior Tight End Kevin Koger

“I was out there playing for the seniors. I played my heart out, and the guys did too. That is what happened. I was just doing what I had to do. Playing for the seniors and playing for Michigan.” — Junior Quarterback Denard Robinson

“That was one of the best team games we’ve played regardless of the score, regardless of the stats. I… couldn’t be more proud of all the guys, every single player. I can probably speak for Mike [Martin – Senior Defensive Tackle] that we’ve been hoping since we were kids that we’d get the opportunity to win a Michigan-Ohio game and it’d be on our backs… It’s amazing. It’s the greatest feeling in the world.” — Fifth-Year Senior Defensive  End Ryan Van Bergen

Gratitude list for the week ending November 26

  1. Did I mention that MICHIGAN BEAT OHIO STATE???  Oh, well, in case you hadn’t heard, MICHIGAN BEAT OHIO STATE!
  2. We cooked the best Thanksgiving turkey yet. After two years, I’m now convinced the secret is to cook it breast-side down.
  3. It was also my BEST turkey gravy ever, and it is the dish I am famous for – my dad taught me his method years ago.
  4. My mother in-law made the best pumpkin pie I’ve ever eaten.
  5. I had dinner with my best friend.  As always, it wasn’t enough time but still very much appreciated.
  6. The four dogs my mother-in-law watched over the weekend, which helped us miss Rocky just a tiny bit less.
  7. Picking Rocky up at the kennel and seeing how excited he was to be home.
  8. Em finished Eragon – her first BIG book.  Now I’m reading it!
  9. My cousin waited for me to get home this weekend so we could see Breaking Dawn together. Yes, we’re Twitards (and Team Edward).
  10. Taking our two kids plus one of their cousins to Great Falls Park on Thanksgiving Day.  It’s so beautiful, and we hadn’t been there in years.

Be sure to come back tomorrow when the lovely Susanna Leonard Hill will participate in the How I Got My Agent series!

What are you grateful for this week?

Run, run as fast as you can. You can't catch me I'm the "shoelace" man!

Categories: College Football, Cooking, Family, Gratitude Sunday, Holidays, Thanksgiving, Travel · Tags: , , , , , , ,

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Given my blogiversary tomorrow, I thought it would be fun to check the stats to see which were the most popular posts and remember some old favorites, plus share some of the funniest and odd “search terms” that have led people to this humble blog.  Without further adieu:

Top Five Posts (Posts with the most hits)

  1. Jane Yolen’s 20 Rules of Writing
  2. 100 Random Things (About me)
  3. Tori Spelling Picture Book – What Next? (The one time I let loose and really ranted. This post gets hits almost every day. I guess negativity does sell, although I intend to try to restrain myself in the future)
  4. Picture Book Dummies
  5. Dream Number 29

Five of my personal favorites

  1. Julie: An American Girl
  2. The Magic of Mackinac
  3. She Loved that Baby Up
  4. Barnes and Noblesse Oblige
  5. M Go Bust

Another of my favorite posts, The Presents of Christmas Past, has also gotten hits resulting from strange and funny search terms.  For example, I’ve gotten several hits on the post from people looking for variations of “wire hanger yarn poodle” because of this picture:

Who knew making poodles from yarn and wire hangers was still such a popular activity?  I’ve also gotten hits on the same post from variations of “life-size plastic doll,” which honestly, is just disturbing.  They find the post because I wrote about getting this doll for Christmas one year:

Although I had never heard of it before I made it, apparently lots of people like Frito Pie.  I still get lots of hits on the post I wrote about making it for a party, including the recipe.

I’ve also gotten people coming to the blog seemingly for information on pterodactyls, pterodactyl boyfriends and, yes, unicorn erotica as a result of this post.  (Thanks Libba Bray! :-))  I would so love to know what they are hoping to find when they click on that post…

Anyway, thanks for taking this trip down memory lane with me.  Looking forward to another great year of blogging and conversation!

Categories: Authors, Books, Children's Books, College Football, Cooking, Family, Holidays, Picture Books, Publishing, SCBWI, Travel, Winter, Writing · Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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From Viewpoint Trail, Boulder

This week made it easy for me to write my Gratitude Sunday post since it was so fabulous.

Quotes on Gratitude

“People who live the most fulfilling lives are the ones who are always rejoicing at what they have.” — Richard Carlson

“So often we dwell on the things that seem impossible rather than on the things that are possible. So often we are depressed by what remains to be done and forget to be thankful for all that has been done.” – Marion Wright Edelman

“But friendship is precious, not only in the shade, but in the sunshine of life; and thanks to a benevolent arrangement of things, the greater part of life is sunshine.” — Thomas Jefferson

Gratitude List for the week ending November 6

  1. Farewell dinner with a friend who is moving to Portland
  2. Watching the kids play and enjoy their basketball games
  3. Michigan managed to (barely) win their football game
  4. Finding an untouched apple tree in an open space field not far from our house.  Pie or cobbler anyone??
  5. The writing community.  I officially thanked my critique partners on Tuesday, but I’m continually amazed by how generous and supportive my fellow writers are.  Especially as evidenced by all the comments on my earlier post about being temporarily stumped by PiBoIdMo.
  6. I know I’ve said it and said it and said it, but I’ll say it again: I cannot believe the outstanding weather we have had this fall, which continues.
  7. Sitting outside in an open-air restaurant with the kids yesterday, watching the game and them finding “secret passageways.”
  8. Taking Em to see the movie Secretariat.
  9. Walking in the open space fields with Rocky, enjoying sweeping views of the Front Range and cows grazing in their nearby pasture.
  10. A beautiful hike with a friend (and Rocky) on a stunning trail I had never hiked before.

What are you grateful for this week?

 

Categories: Autumn, College Football, Family, Friendship, Gratitude Sunday, PiBoIdMo, Writing · Tags: , , , , ,

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Tree on the Chautauqua trailThis week’s Gratitude Sunday closes out the most spectacular week of fall weather that I can remember here in Boulder (not that we suffer from much bad weather, mind you).  Therefore, Fall is the focus of this week’s post.

Quotes on Gratitude (for Autumn)

“Autumn is a second spring when every leaf’s a flower.” — Albert Camus

“Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature’s peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop off like autumn leaves.” — John Muir

“No Spring nor Summer Beauty hath such grace
As I have seen in one Autumnal face.” — John Donne

Gratitude list for the week ending October 23

  1. The best autumnal weather I’ve experienced in Boulder.  Blue sky, warm days, cool nights, full moon, the smell of leaves everywhere.
  2. Fall food – soup, spaghetti, chili, pot roast
  3. Stunning hike with Rocky in Chautauqua Park.
  4. Phil’s parents gave a presentation to Em’s class about living in India.  The kids are about to start studying India in social studies.
  5. Festive dinner with Phil’s parents, my mom and the kids.
  6. Three generations watching The Princess Bride last night
  7. A very productive writing week
  8. Snuggling in bed with Jay on a rainy morning.
  9. Hot bath season is here. My favorite way to end a day.
  10. Michigan had a bye week, so I didn’t have to suffer through another game like they had the past two weeks against Michigan State and Iowa.  A reprieve.

What are you grateful for this week?

Categories: Autumn, Family, Gratitude Sunday · Tags: , , , , , , ,

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You’ll have to forgive me for what might seem like a warped order to this week’s gratitude list, but we all must have our weaknesses/quirks.  Michigan football is one of mine.  You may be hearing about it a few times this fall.  :-)

Quotes on Gratitude

“Write it on your heart that every day is the best day in the year.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

“Abundance is not something we acquire. It is something we tune into.” – Wayne Dyer

“Be content with what you have; rejoice in the way things are. When you realize there is nothing lacking, the whole world belongs to you.” — Lao Tzu

Gratitude List for the week ending September 11

  1. MICHIGAN BEATS NOTRE DAME 28-24.  It was a glory game – down to the last 3 seconds. This picture was taken in Ann Arbor before the Michigan-Notre Dame game in 2007.  Michigan won 38-0.  This was the last picture taken of my dad.  He passed away two weeks later.  So, winning this game means even more nowadays… (*ETA – the other guy in the picture is my brother Jeff.  In case you couldn’t see the family resemblance).

    Michigan-Notre Dame 2007 at the Big House

  2. Two words: Denard Robinson.  Longest run in Notre Dame stadium history: 
  3. All of the firefighters, pilots, emergency crews and volunteers battling the fire in Fourmile Canyon this week.  The fire is now 70% contained.
  4. Canned tomatoes put up for the winter.  These will taste good in February!
  5. Stunning September weather
  6. Em and I recovered from our nasty viruses.
  7. Reading Harry Potter to Em
  8. Chocolate Chip Zucchini Muffins – Yum!
  9. Homemade chicken noodle soup when you’re sick
  10. Rain on a day we really needed it to help contain the fire, followed by a double rainbow in Boulder.

What are you grateful for this week?

Categories: College Football, Gratitude Sunday · Tags: , , , ,

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21. November 2009 · Comments Off

Oh how I hate Ohio State!

Eric Seals - dfp

My parents used to joke that my first words were not “mommy” or “daddy,” but “Go Blue!”  I am a born and bred Michigan Wolverine who grew up in Michigan and then went on to attend The University of Michigan.  Maize and blue courses in my veins.  Michigan football is a religion in my family, so much so that Phil and I had to plan our October wedding on a bye weekend or we figured no one on my side of the family would attend (myself included!).

Watching Michigan’s stature as the winningest team in college football fall brick by brick into a pile of rubble these past few years has not been easy.  I know I am spoiled.  Last year was Michigan’s first losing season in my lifetime.  A heartbreaking loss used to mean losing a hard-fought battle at the Rose Bowl or in the Big House against OSU when both teams were undefeated.  It did not mean losing to a Division I-AA opponent like Appalachian State IN ANN ARBOR to open the season.  Nor losing to a whole slew of unranked teams in the Big Ten, already much maligned as a conference that’s lost its luster (no kidding!).  A heartbreaking season used to mean losing the chance to play in the National Championship, or losing the Big Ten Champion title to Ohio State in the final game of the season or getting our butts kicked in a BCS bowl.  It did not mean losing nearly every single conference game and hoping to scrape our way into a mid-December bowl.  A downright shameful season was one that resulted in going to one of those December bowls.  Never did it mean ending a second season in a row without going to a bowl altogether, coupled with yet another loss to OSU.

Sure, I’ve suffered plenty of heartbreak in my lifetime of fanship.  Michigan has lost many big games and at least one legendary coach.  This is how I found out that Bo Schembechler was retiring:  I was in my bathrobe in my freshman dorm (which also housed most of the football players), when I practically ran into a reporter with a microphone who asked for my reaction to the news that Bo was retiring.  I had no idea he was retiring and said so.  Then I went back to my room and cried.  HOW COULD THIS BE???  I’d waited my whole life to go to Michigan to watch Bo and his Wolverines and now he was LEAVING???  The HORROR!

Never, though, has there been so much heartbreak than in the last three years.  In November 2006, Bo passed away on the eve of the most highly anticipated Michigan-OSU matchups in its 103 year history.  Ohio State was ranked #1 and Michigan #2.  After a grueling, smacking, dirt-kicking, fingernail scraping fight, Michigan fell 39-42.  Even after the loss they retained their #2 ranking until the coaches voted the Florida Gators into that spot after they won the SEC Championship a week later.  Michigan lost the chance for a re-match against OSU in the National title game and went on to suffer a brutal loss at the hands of USC at the Rose Bowl.  Woe was us!

The 2007 season opened with what my dad referred to as the Appalachian State FI-ASS-CO, bookended by another shattering loss at the hands of OSU.  In between, I lost my father suddenly and unexpectedly to a ruptured aortic aneurysm — a literal heartbreak.  The last pictures we have of him were taken at the Michigan-Notre Dame game that year (which, thankfully, we won). How can you talk about the loss of a parent and college football in the same breath?  It’s just a game, right?  Well for us it wasn’t.  It was (and is) a way of life.

When I was 7, dad sat me down with a drawing of a football field and explained the concept of first downs, touchdowns and field goals.  Then we graduated to off-sides, holding, and roughing the passer.  And so on.  He took me to my first game when I was 9.  Both during and after college we talked every weekend and dissected the game – sometimes even play-by-play.  Dad and football are forever woven together.  So much so that I couldn’t even watch football last year.  It was just too painful.  That turned out to be just fine since it was one of the worst seasons in Michigan history, ending with no bowl bid for the first time in 33 years.

This year I came back to Michigan football, prepared for anything (or so I thought).  I couldn’t stay away for long, and I have to pass the tradition on to my children – a task I take very seriously.  The season started out promising enough with four straight wins (including the glorious one against Notre Dame) and Wonderboy quarterback Tate Forcier showing so much promise.  Perhaps that is why what happened the rest of the season was so hard to take.  Our expectations, pretty much minimal at the start of the season, were lofted to places they never should have gone after last year’s performance.  Those expectations were crushed by loss upon loss upon loss.  Yet, there is always fresh hope at the kickoff of the Michigan-OSU game when all that is old can be made new again.  A win against the Buckeyes redeems almost anything.

Alas, redemption would not show its face in the Big House today.  I made myself a screwdriver after Tate Forcier’s fumble in the end zone that enabled the Buckeyes to score in the first minutes of the game.  I figured if this was the way the game was going to go, I was going to need a drink.  I was thus somewhat fortified for the following four turnovers.  Hello Heartbreak.

Will I come back next season for more?  Of course!  I’m already counting the days ’til next season.  What choice do I have?  I am a part of Michigan’s history and it is a part of mine.  I have just two words for the Buckeyes for next year’s game at the ‘Shoe:

Bring it!

Categories: College Football, Family · Tags: , , , ,

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