Ahhh, hard to believe that 2010 is coming to a close already. New Year's Eve is a rather intriguing kind of a "holiday" to me. I really like getting together with friends and family and playing oodles of games and sharing lots of good food and laughter, but by the time midnight finally rolls around...It's kind of a letdown. It seems like there should be something more about this shift into a whole new year of fresh opportunities for change and growth, and yet...
As I look back over 2010 I'm proud of my venture into the world of professional writing and can only hope and pray for continued growth in this pursuit. I look at my gorgeous girl and can hardly believe she's four-years-old, has been out of diapers for the better part of a year, and has her ears pierced. We are less than two years away from kindergarten, which leaves me wondering just where I'm going to go once that happens.
Looking forward to 2011: I'm hoping Abby and I finally find our groove in working together on preschool stuff. I hope I continue to get picked up to do freelance work for Simply Family Magazine. I can hardly believe I will be 30 this year, and wonder if this will be the year where I officially feel like an adult. (Part of me doubts this will ever happen for me, I have too much kid inside, but ya never know). The husband and I will celebrate 9 married years together already. Madness! While my parents will celebrate a major landmark in their marriage; celebrating 40 years!
With much behind us, yet so very much to come, I guess it's okay if New Year's Eve doesn't live up to all its hype. Wishing you and your family a spectacular 2011!
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If you'd like to check out the New Year's articles up and running on my Examiner.com column:
I've taken a rather unintentional break from writing in the chaos of the holiday season. Not only did the most beautiful girl turn four two days before Christmas, but I was busily...Okay, frantically, working to get my dad's Christmas present completed in time. I did, but there were...Issues, shall we say? I'll say this, the video is in the process of being redone given the issues I had. Lovely.
But this is not a 'woe is me' post, oh no! This is to share with you who the story of the best present given this Christmas in my family (and no, it wasn't mine). My sister had shared with me what my very creative and can-make-anything brother-in-law had made for my dad's Christmas present, but I had completely forgotten about it until my dad opened that gift.
I don't have a picture of it right now, but I'll get one and post it on here, though I highly doubt any picture I take will truly do it justice.
This gift, this A-M-A-Z-I-N-G, fabulous, beautifully sentimental work of art was pulled straight from my dad's history. I should tell you, there's a place where my dad and his family lived when he was very young, and though they didn't live their long, it's the place that has stuck deepest in his heart. Anytime we're anywhere near the area and it's daylight, odds are we'll stop and walk the trail back to look at the house(s) - the house they originally lived in, the house my grandpa built, but didn't get to live in, and the barn that my grandpa also built.
Given how young he was and the short time they actually lived there, it's incredible the things my dad remembers...This past summer, following the annual family camping trip, the family went wandering through the trails, and for the first time since we've been visiting, were able to go down to the house. While there my brother-in-law took a piece of wood from the old (and yes, falling apart) house with a plan quickly taking root in his mind.
The end result of taking that lone piece of wood was a gift so beautiful, so unbelievably perfect that my dad was brought instantly to tears. He had taken this old piece of wood and on there he had welded frames out of black metal and using nails from an old house that had been demolished, he secured pictures in those frames from their excursion on this piece of my dad's history. It was inspired. So this year, my brother-in-law wins the award for best gift ever.
Hope you had a wonderful holiday with equally magical moments! Merry belated Christmas and Happy New Year!
It's hard to believe that the year is nearing its end and Christmas is quickly approaching us. (Is it me or are the days getting shorter the closer we get)? Of course, this feeling could be the result of the constant pressure my well-meaning family keeps putting on my shoulders as they wonder about a certain gift for a certain somebody. You'd think they'd just met me. It'll get done - I know it will, and now the excitement is starting to kick in so that should fuel the fire for the rest of the week. Regardless, perhaps you should wish me luck...HmmmAnyway!
This Friday is Christmas Eve and as such I thought it would be fitting for the week's Fun Friday
piece to be very Christmas-y themed. I would like to pull together a piece about favorite Christmas memories. I'd greatly appreciate it if you'd break into your warm and fuzzy memory banks and e-mail
them to me if you'd like your story to be included in the article.
- What are your favorite Christmas memories?
Disclaimer: I almost never write anything about my husband, simply because, well, I feel like that's one area of my life that should be off-limits, but in this case, I'm making an exception. I hope you enjoy.
For many families it seems either you are a solid 'real Christmas tree' family or you're 'artificial tree' all the way, however in my little family, we've waffled back and forth over the years (real shocker if you knew us at all...Insert dripping sarcasm here).
The year is 2002 and we're preparing for our first Christmas as a married couple. Let me just say, married life in general...BIG transition to say the least, but that's another story for another day. I, of course, am adamant that we get ourselves a real tree, so off we go to the various tree lots in search of the most perfect tree ever. The details on this part are a little fuzzy, but I'm pretty sure we ended up going to a few different lots before we found the tree. P.S. Two novices should not be allowed to go tree shopping together. I had gone with my dad every year while I was growing up to pick out the family tree, but he's the one who paid attention to the details - not me.
Now before I dive any further into this story, let me clue you in to a conversation we had while at the tree lot. Me: "We're gonna need to get a tree stand." Husband: "Eh, gramma has like 20 at home, we don't need to spend money on that." Me: "Okaaay...If you're sure..." (Thinking to self: If she has 'like 20 at home,' what's wrong with them???)
Okay, so fast forward to getting the tree home. The tree proceeds to go in and out of our house at least three times. Yep, you read that right THREE times. With each passage in and out the door as we (by we, I of course mean he) work on the most crooked tree trunk in the universe, the frustration levels are mounting. Finally, we get enough trunk cut off so that it can stand in our free tree stand. Guess what...There's a reason it was in the garage and not being used for a repeat performance. Oh yeah, it fell down. *sigh*
A new tree stand is purchased.
I can vividly recall as we're wrestling with this tree saying, "I wish my dad was here," and promptly going to the bathroom to cry it out. Now, the total irony of that statement is that things didn't necessarily go all that awesomely with my dad over the years. I remember many a time he was cursing over the stupid, er, beautiful tree. Apparently, though, I had blocked all of that out. So there I am, crying my eyes out in the bathroom, poor Husband is probably thinking this isnot what he signed up for - and seriously..."Why is she crying??" Enter my sister. My beautiful, thoughtful sister comes over with a box of ornaments for our first Christmas. I make my exit from the bathroom trying not to look like this entire experience has been complete misery. Ahh, good times.
The evening ended well, with feelings mended, and a ginormous pizza delivered from Pizza Hut, but it's an experience I will never forget, and that we uproariously laugh over now.
We did give the real tree a try again a couple of years later, but that darn thing fell over too, and we decided, enough is enough and have embraced our artificial tree in all it's easy-peasy glory ever since. Our greatest source of debate now is an annual argument over getting the lights on the tree. I amso challenged. However, eight years into this marriage, gone are the tears - they've been replaced by laughter up front instead of later.
I'd love to hear your stories! Leave a comment below!
This past week has seen two articles about traveling over in Examiner.com from this girl and you can expect at least one more on the topic. This time of year is often synonymous with traveling as families are driving or jetting off to see the broader scope of their family or heading off for a much needed vacation.
My mom and I were talking about what she used to do with us during winter break from school, and she noted that we were traveling more often than not, so it wasn't much of an issue for us. Indeed we were. I would be interested to know just how many trips we made back and forth to Minnesota over the course of my childhood into young adulthood. I think we flew twice in all of those years.
Ask any of us for memories about those numerous road tripsand we'll all begin tripping over each other with shared recollections - though it's always funny to see how our memories do or don't match. I think of the hours we spent in, first, the station wagon and then the mini van as we traveled near and far. I think of the arguments, the laughter, the extreme discomfort - and then I think about my poor mother...Yes, my dad too, but there was many a trip mom had to drive solo with the three of us, as dad needed to stay with the family business. Can you imagine?
Calling all funny family travel stories:
Have a humorous account of family traveling? Sure you do - it can be a recent story of travels with your children/grandchildren/nieces/nephews or it can be one from the realm of your own childhood. If you'd be willing to share it, then I'd love to feature it in an upcoming Fun Friday article. Simply send me an e-mail with your story. Please include if I can use your first name and location in the e-mail. Thanks for your help!
Since the inception of Family Night Tuesdays and Fun Fridays, each week I know I can bank on having two articles written, without fail. This can certainly lead to some level of anxiety as I try to come up with topics that are fun, helpful, and hopefully, witty. Regardless of this self-imposed pressure, I love writing these articles. They add a lighthearted quality to my column that, thus far, have received an overwhelmingly positive response from my readers. So today, I'm going to take the opportunity to highlight some of my most recent favorites from both of these.
Last week's Family Night article was a take off of the Christmas classic, The Twelve Days of Christmas. For our purposes, however, I whittled it down to the 'Six' days of Christmas. Believe me when I tell you, you'll have more fun if you sing along as you read the article.
One of the two Fun Friday pieces I'm going to feature here is the Top 10 reasons to be thankful to be a parent. This one I did all by my little lonesome self with no feedback from other parents. Simply, it is my current top 10 list why being a mom is so stinking fabulous! I tried to intersperse the funny with the sentimental - though all come very deeply from my heart. If you didn't happen to catch it, I hope you will.
[Image]My most recent Family Night piece highlighted a family recipe. Wait, scratch that - a beloved family recipe. Each year, I wait in eager anticipation for December so the wreath making can begin. If you've never had a cornflake, edible Christmas wreath...Well, I'll just pause here in a moment of silence for you...And then I'm going to direct you to the link to this article, as quickly as possible.
Each December I think of the other shapes I could use, the other food colorings that would work in order to adapt these delectable delights to other holidays, yet I never do. I so love these wreaths that at my baby shower, my sister and sis-in-law made them in the shape of baby booties. The shower was in December, but they just couldn't bring themselves to serve wreaths at a baby shower. I can vividly recall sneaking into my grandmother's kitchen with my siblings and cousins in the middle of the night with only the light of the fridge to guide us as we sneaked wreaths from the fridge. Seriously, if you've never had these, it's a must add to the holiday treat list.
For our final peak at the silly side of my column, I bring you last Friday's Fun Friday edition. This was a beautiful compilation of my own stories and stories from other parents. This article was From the mouths of babes. Amazing response on this one. People really seemed to enjoy it, but we're talking about the funnies kids say, so what's not enjoy? So many of the Friday articles would not come to fruition without these wonderful parents so willing to share pieces of their children with me - and by extension, you, so thank you all who contribute; I couldn't do it without you.
Hope you're having a wonderful week! Thanks for coming along for the ride.
Today I present you with the treat of a guest writer. The following writing(s) come from Tamara Crook who is also working to start her own journey into this vast land of professional writing. Currently she's working on pieces detailing the extensive travels she and her family have experienced. Tamara is also a talented poet. Perhaps she will come back another day and grace us with some of those writings.
So, with no further ado, I give you Tamara...
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As a family, we love to journey through the United States discovering little-known areas of interest as well as to observe historical locations and to enjoy the beauty of nature. We typically travel by Honda GoldWing 1500 motorcycle connected to a Hannigan sidecar. We’ve been to 49 states, with only a few traversed by car instead of motorcycle. Our 10-year-old daughter loves to learn her geography by experiencing it in person. Her observations often astound us as she picks up details along the way that as adults we sometimes miss.
Traveling by motorcycle has its challenges, as well as its pleasures. For instance, one has to become adept at packing many items in very limited spaces. One also has to forego the leisure of a different set of shoes to match each outfit! However, the pleasures of feeling the wind on one’s face and smelling the fabulous scents of summer – being a part of nature not just seeing it – far outweigh any difficulties encountered.
I invite you to “travel with Tamara” as we journey through this great country as well as find places of interest closer to home that may be more attainable to visit in a day or weekend. Bon Voyage! -by Tamara Crook
A note from Tamara:
Thank you for allowing me the honor of reading your Blog, Rebecca, as it closely follows the privileges and challenges of writing for Examiner.com and your journey into the unknown. You've done well for yourself and have been an encouragement to the rest of us who are just starting out with baby steps into the literary world. In our extended family, there are many writers of our own work and prolific readers of the work of others. We enjoy being able to "sit down with a cup of tea" and share our thoughts with one another - whether figuratively long-distance or literally in person. It is encouraging to know that regardless of the paths that we take in life, there are those who are cheering us on to endeavor to do our best and to continue trying until we reach our true potential. Thank you for the opportunity you've granted us to follow the progress of your heart as you delight to do what you've dreamed of accomplishing in life.
Each year brings a whole new level of participation and understanding of the season for Abby. It's pretty exciting to watch it all unfold. Last year I think she hung up one, maybe two ornaments; whereas this year she couldn't get enough. Granted there's a section towards the bottom of our tree that is clustered with ornaments, but it's quite possibly the most perfect, beautiful way our tree could be decorated.
Last night also brought us the first Sunday in Advent, which I love. I have such wonderful memories from my childhood of participating in this celebration with my family. I question how well I teach Abby about Jesus and God, but she's three, so I'm thinking I need to cut myself a little slack. To listen to her say prayers and to hear her say things like, "God my friend mom," or "I love God," tells me I'm doing something right...Even if that doesn't mean she totally "gets it," its something and it's a decent foundation to work from. Last night was yet another example of how much can change in a year. Last year she pretty much just listened and gleefully blew out the candles at the end, but last night...Last night, she worked really hard to sing the songs with me, and when I read prayers, she chose to repeat each line with me. It was awesome!
[Image]I love this time of year. I'm particularly thankful this year, as I'm seeing a wealth of opportunities in my writing. I'm still trying to find that magical place of drawing more readers to my Examiner.com column, but I'm pleased with the way I've progressed, and having such a broad topic as all-things-holiday - as it applies to early childhood and parenting - to work with during this season...Outstanding.
As I type this, I'm gazing upon my tree and all of our traditional Christmas decorations and I find myself wishing they could stay up all year round. On the heels of that, however, is the realization that if our tree were up all the time, it would lose some of its beauty and wonder - it would become just another fixture in our home. But for now - sigh - perfection!
Here's hoping you had a wonderful Thanksgiving. I hope you'll pop by the ol' Examiner.com page from time to time this month and keep up with all the holiday-themed writings.
*(Originally written/posted on November 29, 2010)
It is either ridiculously late or insanely early in the morning, depending how you view things - me, I'm voting for late, since I haven't been to bed yet. However, I wanted to get this kickoff article to my week written and once it was written, well, it just made sense to get it posted.
This week (November 8th - 14th) is National Young Readers Week. I am genuinely excited for this and for the articles I'm planning on writing this week. I am giddy over the prospect of interviewing my (eldest) nieces and nephews to get their views on reading. I've started and deleted this sentence now several times - I started typing who I was particularly excited to interview; when I realized, for one reason or another, I'm eager to hear from each of them.
So just a short post tonight (this morning?), but I hope you'll come along with me this week as I dive right into this topic. Don't forget, I also have my two weekly series that are posted on Tuesdays and Fridays.
*(Originally written/posted on November 8, 2010)
I realized the other day that I had never done a follow up post regarding my team's Relay for Life website, which you probably won't recall, but I had said I would let you know when it was up and running.
Behind the scenes of Noah and the Arks
While I hate to play favorites, I think of all the websites I've done so far, this is my favorite. It turned out well, if I do say so myself. It makes an impact. Let me tell you a little about this labor of love. Without a doubt, it was emotionally challenging to pull this site together, particularly after Ginny died. Even now, as I type this, tears are overwhelming me. Upon arriving to the site you'll land on a poem that my sister-in-law Kara wrote this past year as it became apparent that at least in Ginny's fight, cancer was winning. With that and her brother's own ongoing battle with cancer this poem had been building word by word, piece by piece in her mind and needing her testimonial for the website inspired her to take it from heart to paper.
Other things that you'll find while perusing the site are three stories. These stories can be found under the "Our reason for relaying" tab. Noah, our team's namesake, did an incredible job sharing his story - from learning of his diagnosis through treatment and what Relay for Life means to him. I can tell you, he completely wowed me the first time I read it. Paul is my dad and he was diagnosed with kidney cancer when I was five-years-old. He sat down with me and we wrote his tale of life with cancer. My dad was so incredibly lucky. I feel like I should note that while his kidney cancer is under control he has been diagnosed with skin cancer and has various procedures done about twice a year. For some reason we didn't broach that side of things on the site. And then there's Ginny's story. This year's Relay for Life will be on Ginny's birthday...Bittersweet. The story you'll find under her name is the one I wrote for Examiner.
Next on the site you'll find a growing page of ourteam's testimonials - why we relay. Each time another member of the team sends me their piece, I am wowed at the different approaches we all take in explaining why Relay for Life is so important to us. Five of our team members have contributed testimonials so far.
Our next tab takes you to money page - or how can you help? Here we have it set up for you to order luminaries for Relay (we're hoping to get a PayPal type thing going there soon), along with a list of our upcoming fundraisers. I feel I need to point out a hidden link on this page because it's incredible. On this page, you will find a link to one of our raffle items, which is a photo session with one of our team members. This link will take you to examples of her work and an accompanying song that for me is so powerful because it reminds me of Ginny. In fact, we used it in the video we made for her family.
I hope you'll check out our team's website and pass the link along. Be sure to sign the guest book! Oh, also on several of the pages throughout the website, you'll see ourHonor/Memory Roll, which lists the people we know with cancer and those who are no longer with us. In guest book land you can leave a message for us to add names to our list.
Noah and the Arks - Relay for Lifewww.noahrelayforlife.weebly.com *(Originally written/posted on November 6, 2010)