Monday, October 16, 2017

Review of the Ha-Ha Joke Coloring Book

My girls at 8 and almost 6 love to color. I'm always trying to find new color workbooks for them for our long road trips. Even though regular old color books work well, I like to try to find them things that are more interactive and different to give them some variety on those long evening drives like we have coming up this next week.

This week just in time for our trip we received the HAHA Color-Me Joke Book in the mail. My girls love attempting to tell jokes. I say attempting because usually they forget the punch line, and my husband and I are just left staring at them with this confused look on our faces before we force ourselves to laugh and then we laugh for real because their joke telling was so bad.

But with the HAHA Color-Me Joke Book they can actually read us the correct punch lines so we don't have to fake laugh for them. Not only are there 28 actual jokes they'll be able to read and maybe actually remember the correct punch line for but there's a picture for them to color with each joke. I'm sure on our upcoming trip my husband and I will probably even have the jokes memorized ourselves as they read them to us multiple times on the way up and back. There are also several pages in the back of the book for them to attempt to write their own jokes! And a few jokes with no pictures to color where they can draw the image  themselves to go with the joke.

The girls are excited to take them on our upcoming trip and I love that it will have them reading, coloring, drawing, and writing all in one book! These would make great birthday party favor gifts or inexpensive Christmas gifts for the littles on your list.

You can order your copy here for $9.99. For every book sold the author Neesha Mirchandani will be donating a free copy to a child in need.


Wednesday, October 11, 2017

It's About the Relationship

At Christmas I gave my oldest daughter a journal book for us to write to one another back and forth in and I will probably start this tradition with my second daughter next Christmas. My hope is this is something we continue through their teenage years. At only eight years old I can already see both hers and my emotions getting in the way of being able to effectively communicate with one another at times. I want this journal to be a place where we can go after our emotions cool to reopen the door of communication between us.

We're only a few months into this third grade thing and I can already tell we've turned a corner here. A fellow mom of a now fourth grader warned me third grade was a big transition year. As Ave and I have talked about how school is getting much more intense with more homework, actual letter grades and so many tests it seems like, and more competitive sports, I've mentioned how this is just the beginning of things getting harder.

It makes me sad on one hand to think that already the easiest part of her childhood is already over. I know as she's stepped up onto the more competitive soccer field she's struggled self esteem wise with it, I've seen her hide the one poor grade out of about a dozen other A/B papers she brought home and then burst into tears when I asked her what she was hiding because she didn't want us to know she struggled with something the first time, and the friend drama already started in second grade and I imagine that's only going to get crazier from here. Though she hasn't hit puberty yet, I am afraid to see how much more emotional she's going to get in the years ahead.

I know we have high expectations of her, and my dad so kindly pointed out to me sometimes as parents we don't have realistic expectations of our kids. He's right. She's only eight, and I've always treated the girl as being older than she is. Though we may butt heads, she's a really great kid.  But she's my first and there are going to be so many growing pains between us as we figure out this preteen to adolescent to grown daughter thing in the next ten years.

Here's the thing, mommas, I'm going to make a shit ton of mistakes. Probably way more than her, but because I'll push her to excel, push her limits so she can reach her max potential, hold her accountable even when it breaks my heart because she thinks I'm the most awful mother, and I'll try to do what I think is best for her in the long run even if it temporarily makes her angry and frustrated with me because I'm her mother first and her friend second, the years ahead aren't always going to be easy. Her emotions are going to the get the best of her and though I'm the adult mine will probably get the best of me too.

I wanted us to have a safe place to be a calm center for us, a place that was for building our relationship, not adding to the tearing down of it that can result in those heated arguments between mothers and daughters. The constructive criticism and redirection and "parenting" would all happen as the moments unfolded but this would be a place for us to reconnect and rebuild our relationship with positivity and gratitude for one another. Despite all the trials and emotions of this phase of our life together I want there to be no doubt in her mind of the depth of my love and admiration for her in those tough moments now and for her to hold onto years down the road when maybe I'm not there to remind her despite her struggles she is loved and will always being amazing in her momma's eyes.

She loves our little journal, and I can always tell when she's read it as the encouragement I leave her in there seems to remind her despite mistakes and struggles she may be having I still think she's amazing. It was from starting this with her that I decided to create Letters to a Daughter. Whereas my writing at first started as an opportunity to do something I have loved since the third grade, it has become so much about building relationships. First I wrote here on the blog to build relationships and connections with other moms. That's been an amazing experience for me.

But as a mother and a daughter myself, as I've watched friends my age start to lose their own mothers; as my cousin, sisters, and I had a smack in the face with our own mortality with a cancer diagnosis to one of us last spring that thankfully is in remission now, and our newsfeeds too often remind us of tragic losses of young mothers I wanted to create something that was for us as mothers and daughters. I didn't want my writing this time to be about creating a relationship between me and other moms- this blog has already done that- but I wanted to give something back to readers that would give them the opportunity to build two of the most valuable relationships they have- the one with their daughter and the one with their mother.

It will be for sale in paperback for $13.99 and hardback for $21.48 next Tuesday. I hope you can attend the the facebook launch party that is next Tuesday through Thursday. Join the event to see how you can enter to win a free copy and there should be publisher coupon codes I can offer throughout the event to get the book discounted. My goal is to sell 125 books in these three days so I can hopefully donate $100 to three different families medical needs- two of which have been readers here since the beginning in 2012.

As always, thanks for reading!

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Looking for America

I saw the look of fear in her eyes. First that he slipped under the water, and then again as she looked around to see who had possibly seen her quick moment of maternal failure. As she yanked him upright in the water I told her, “My son just took a dunk too. They’ll both be fine though.”

She adjusted the hijab on her head and her now wet clothes as she nodded. I offered her a smile and her apprehension- whether towards me as a stranger or her sudden heart failure at her son slipping in the water- seemed to subside. She moved her son back closer to the edge of the pool so she could sit on the ledge like I was.

“How old is he?” I asked.

“Fifteen months,” she said in perfect English.

“Mine turns a year old in a few days. First boy. They’re a little more of a handful than girls I’m finding,” I said. She nodded, still seeming hesitant at my attempt for conversation.

Her son splashed in the water near mine. My son mirrored her son’s motions and before long the two were slapping at the water, giggling at the constant spray of water. “If only adults interacted like children,” I thought.  I looked around the crowded water park. As the children played they would make new friends. I could see my daughter going up and down the little kiddie slide a few feet away with a little girl she just met. She’d run up to me in a bit like she usually does and tell me how she made a new friend. That’s the way children played. They didn’t know religious, racial, or economic differences. They just saw someone fun that was willing to interact with them. But in the adult world we not only saw the differences but as the recent political climate has shown we attack those differences, thinking one made someone better than another. If it wasn’t our own judgments and bias preventing us from opening a conversation about our differences it was the judgments and bias we felt passed against us.

I grew up in the middle of white middle class America. I left home at 23 on a search for America. I wanted to see her sights, understand her history better, explore her culture, and meet more of her people. Even though I experienced my first culture shock on the outskirts of Washington D.C. where I found myself surrounded by people of varied races, religion, and languages, I’d learn to see her differently everywhere.

But as much as I came to appreciate and see the beauty in her diversity I also came to see how divided we were as a country in who we all saw America as. Some saw Syrian refugees as a threat to our national security; whereas, I saw the boy that sat in the back of my American Lit class that wrote a beautiful story about leaving Syria at the age of five to come to America for better opportunities. Whereas some saw Muslims as terrorist, I saw the boy that stayed after class almost every day to put up the chairs around my room after all his classmates left for the day and would tell me to have a nice evening or weekend as he left.  Some would see a random black man walking on the street as a possible threat, but I saw the big tall black kid in my class as one of the biggest gentle giants I had ever encountered in my life who loved to talk to and tease my daughter when we attended his wrestling matches. Some saw the Hispanic immigrant as the one taking what was “his” or “hers”, but  I saw the immigrant girl in my class as one of the hardest workers I’d ever taught as she valued her education as an opportunity to make herself a better life. Some saw the poor kid on free and reduced meals as someone expecting a handout, but I saw someone that had been dealt a crappy hand out of her control that approached each day with a hope and positivity so many others dealt more lacked. Some saw the homosexual boy as just acting out for attention, but I saw a boy that just wanted love and acceptance like everyone else.

I first truly found America in those diversified classrooms of America’s youth, but as I searched to understand and appreciate her better I began to see her more. I started to see that she was everywhere as I traveled back and forth between the East Coast and Midwest. She was there in the farmers I saw working away on their fields across the plains of Ohio to Missouri in the hot setting July sun. She was there in the way the wait staff greeted customers with their southern hospitality in the mountains of Tennessee.  I saw her in the big hopes and dreams of the strangers I passed as we walked the streets of Hollywood. I saw her in the people that made it their life’s work to revitalize their small downtowns or their communities and schools. America wasn’t just a color of white or dark skin; she wasn’t just a religion of Jewish, Christian, or Muslim; nor was she who she was just because she was rich, middle class, or poor. Who America was wasn’t based on a race, a religion, or a certain income level though it seemed we saw her that way first. Rather she was a strong work ethic, she was hope, she was community, and she was acceptance. She was all of us- working towards achieving something the world missed. America’s hope was to achieve unity in our sense of work ethic and compassion in a world too often divided by our differences.

When tragedy has stuck our nation over and over again, as has been the case all too much recently, the heroes that stepped forward to risk their own lives and offer help were of all races, religions, political parties, and social classes. We all bleed red, and just as evil lurks in humanity regardless of the labels placed upon us as people, the heroes are cloaked in all labels of humanity too. It’s not skin color, political party, money, or even our religion that separates good from evil but what lurks in our hearts and our minds. The light and the darkness is there, hovering on the cusp of who each of us can be, and though it may be easy for some to always choose the light, our true American humanity shines through when we reach into the darkness to help pull one another deeper into the light of hope.  

I looked at the kids who made new friends as they played in that water park in the middle of Wisconsin in the middle of this country that I loved and hoped that maybe they would be the generation that could put the division of our races, sexuality, and religion behind us and be the kind of America she was always meant to be. Here in the hearts of our young is where the hope and acceptance of what America was lived. They were not cloaked in their skin color or their differences but in their hope for something better.
                                                     Image provided by Spirtuality Photo Ideas