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November 19, 2012

Five Great Gifts for Teachers (and #1 is FREE!)

 I posted this quite awhile ago, but the season of shopping is upon us and it bears repeating.  One of the hardest people to choose a gift for besides your mother-in-law is your child's teacher so here is a repost of "Five Great Gifts for Teachers (and #1 is FREE!):

If you're looking to get your child's teacher a gift, you may not know where to start.  Whether it's for the holidays, teacher appreciation week, or as an end-of-the-year "thank you", here are some great gift ideas for you to consider- and the first one won't cost you a cent!

#1: A Heart-Felt "Thank You" Note.
    Teachers can often feel under-appreciated for all the hard work they put in on a daily basis. Being a teacher is not easy, and being a great teacher is even harder. So let your child's teacher know how much you appreciate his or her investment in your child's future by writing a sincere letter of gratitude.  If you need help getting started, try finishing these sentences:
  • Before [insert child's name] started in your class (s)he __________, but now (s)he __________.
  • My child loves how you __________.
  • I appreciate how you __________.
  • You are a great role model because __________. 
#2: A Gift Card
     There is a good chance that your child's teacher is not a millionaire. Even if it feels like you're paying millions of dollars in tuition, they're probably not making much.  Easing money woes is a great gift idea for almost anyone and who doesn't love a little money off the tab at their favorite restaurant?  You don't need to get them a $50 gift card to the nicest restaurant in town.  Five dollars to McDonald's will buy a lunch and five dollars to Starbucks can buy some much-needed coffee.

#3:  A Spa Certificate
    Teachers are often under a lot of stress.  You know how wonderful -and -how terrible your child can be at times.  Now multiply that by the number of kids in the class and you have what teachers work with on a daily basis.  That's not even including all the paperwork, staff meetings, grading, parent-teacher conferences, and keeping up with required continuing education.  Teachers could definitely use some time to relax at a spa.  While a free massage would be wonderful, a nice pedicure can be just as relaxing.

#4:  Something For The Classroom (Ask first!)
    New stuff is always great, and new stuff for the classroom can be just as wonderful as a new stuff for ourselves.  You may want to ask the principal or management staff first before you buy anything.  Some schools have strict policies on what goes into a classroom and where it comes from, but usually a donation of a children's book or a set of pencils will be warmly welcomed.

#5:  Know Your Teacher/Be Creative
    If you know your child's teacher well enough, you can get something that specifically fits that teacher.  For instance, if you happen to know that the teacher is gluten-intolerant, you can give him or her a great tasting gluten-free cookie recipe.  Another great give idea comes from you.  Don't be afraid to get creative.  One amazing gift I got from a mom was a poem using the letters of my name for adjectives that describe me.  Another wonderfully unique gift I got from a parent was a donation made in my name to provide desks for a school in rural China.  So don't be afraid to think outside the box and try getting to know your child's teacher.  You'll get a plethora of great gift ideas!  

November 16, 2012

Do I Dare?: What Christians REALLY Think About Homosexuality

    One of my greatest fears involves the metaphorical stepping on of toes and the actuality of offending decent people.  Today I face the very real possibility of that fear coming to light as I tread on eggshells approaching a topic that has been building up inside me ready to explode.

     Perhaps the largest battle of American society today seems to be Christians versus Homosexuals.  What really bothers me though is how grossly misinformed each side is on the other's viewpoint.  If there is one thing I have learned about getting along with others and trying to get them to see your point of view, you first need to understand THEIR point of view.  So today, I will do my best to examine BOTH viewpoints in order to enlighten anyone interested in this heavy topic.

      I will start by admitting that my knowledge is limited on one side, however I invite those who may enlighten me to help me understand these issues further as long as you do so politely and reasonably. 

So here is the argument for homosexuality to the best of my knowledge:

     Homosexuality is as much of a choice as skin color.  You don't just wake up one morning and decide who you will be attracted to.  You are just born that way.  Science suggests that some fetuses are exposed to more estrogen or testosterone and that has a determining factor as to what sex they will be attracted to later in life.  Children at a young age start noticing that they are "different" and those in Christian communities may even pray that God will take these feelings away, but it doesn't happen.  While the bible says that homosexuality is a sin it also says 
'Do not plant your field with two kinds of seed.  Do not wear clothing woven of two kinds of material." (Leviticus 19:19)  Also, the bible speaks more about loving one another.  Why should that change just because the love is between a man and a man or a woman and a woman?  Put you religion where your mouth is and love thy gay neighbor!

The view every "real" christian I know has:

    Homosexuals do not have control over their sexual desires any more than we do.  I am born with a sinful lust towards men that I'm not married to.  My sin may be more socially acceptable, but it is still a sin.  It is only by the grace of God by the blood of Jesus through the Holy Spirit that my mind is free from lustful thoughts.  I may not fully understand homosexuality, but I know what it is like to be freed from sinful desires (more than just sexual desires) and it was not an easy path.  I can imagine it would be even harder for someone born with a lean towards homosexuality, but it has been done.

Some "extra-info" from my life:

    When I was in college, one of the chapel speakers gave his testimony about how God changed his life and brought him out of homosexuality and into celibacy.  This sounded a lot like the story of my mother's coworker that had stated he was attracted to men, but as a Christian he believed it was a sin and thus he practiced celibacy.  However both of these stories are not nearly as memorable as the other ex-gay chapel speaker we had.

    The college I went to was a very conservative Christian university.  So much so that when a professor published a book about how God guided the process of evolution, many parents called the university to request his termination.  So imagine the shock that rippled through the students in chapel when a very effeminate man stepped up on stage to talk about homosexuality.  This man was Sy Rogers, who is happily married to a woman and has one daughter.  His testimony can be easily found online along with a few other "ex-gays."

    There is no question that the church has often done more harm than good when trying to lead people to the right path, especially homosexuals.  Many programs now days are reevaluating what has helped and what has harmed when it comes to ministering to homosexuals.
    For anyone who would like to read more, I've added a few links below that seem to follow the testimonies I've heard.  I haven't had a chance to review them thoroughly, but they seem alright at the very least.

     I hope I have enlightened a few people, and I will say again: If you would like to share more information or another viewpoint I welcome it.  I will be polite if you will and I hope I have not offended anyone.  I apologize if I have.

My fear has been faced, the eggshells tread upon, I voyage into an unknown future.

November 7, 2012


    Hello my fellow insecure writers!  As I have written in my previous posts, I have been on hiatus from my blog and I have discovered deeper reasons for my need of a leave of absence.  I was trying to run before I could walk.  I am still working on my first draft of my first book AND trying to keep a blog and social networking.  That and I added a few things to my plate. 
      So here is my advice for my fellow insecure writers:  don't be afraid to start slow, but don't be afraid to take off running.  Do what works for you.  If writing is what you love than just write.  If your getting your name out there, great!  Keep it up!  You can probably do it better than me.
     So am I still writing?  YES! Just not on my blog.  I have been self-critiquing my current draft of The Mythical Male and when I don't have my computer (or when the dam breaks and I NEED to write the latest story in my head) I've been writing a story I'm calling Princess Knights
       One thing I've been looking for in my minimal spare time is advice on how to create characters when you already have a plot in mind.  I've come to learn that when it comes to writers there are plotters and character stalkers.  One sets out the plot from start to finish then writes.  The other makes a character and something that character wants more than anything, then writes about everything that can keep the character from his/her goal.  I'm somewhere in between.  I think "What if...[a girl switched bodies with her crush's dog/a guy inadvertently saves the life of someone evil/ect.] and then write what happens, but my weakness is creating characters for these stories.  Any advice?
      Thanks again to my the fellow IWSG members and especially its creator.  Click the icon at the top of the post to see more.  I hope my few words of encouragement helped someone out there.

September 29, 2012


     I made a very big discovery recently.  I am not a writer.  That's why my twitter account may be more or less abandoned and I may only make the occasional post on my blog for awhile.
    Many of you may be saying "No! Don't give up!" and I'd like to tell you that I'm not.  I may not be a writer but I am a writer in training.  I will keep writing.  Maybe a bit less publicly, but I'll be back.  I'll sneak a piece in here and there for everyone, but my online writing is on the back burner.
    Just when I was starting to get the balancing act down: work, family, writing, everything else;  everything was turned upside down and as it was getting put back together the balancing act changed.  My fiance started class and our time together is limited.  My work hours have changed, and I've started a project for Christmastime that is very important to me.  Yes, more important than writing (at least at this time in my life.)
    So my postings will be few and far between.  I may get a Six Sentence Sunday in here and there, I'll try to at least do an Insecure Writer's Support Group post.  I also have a few hand-written posts that I may type and post.  For now, I hope you'll be here for my few posts, and be here when I come back head first into writing  (and I will.)  See you awhile later!

September 17, 2012

Characters in your life

Are you having trouble thinking of some character traits or a few funny quirks for someone in your story?  Stop thinking so hard and take a look around you.  Chances are your friends have a few oddities and they’re the normal ones in the group. 
What is one weird thing about them you can add to a character?  I do mean just one.  You don’t want your friend and your character to be the same, right?  What if your friends seem a little too normal?  Take something they do or something about them and put it out of context.  It’s weird.  Here are fifty odd traits of people I love; either exaggerated, out of context, or they’re just strange people:
1.      Picks nose when no one is looking
2.      Couldn’t do her own makeup if her life depended on it
3.      Will respond to a statement by saying, “Well, eeeee!
4.      Has non-verbal learning disability (
5.      Was an illegitimate child in the 1950’s and treated a lot like Pearl from The Scarlet Letter.  
6.      Had a “real-life” evil step-parent
7.      Super-Holy-Roller.  Watches nothing but the church channel and reads only Christian fiction and the Bible.
8.      Dyslexic
9.      Has webbed toes
10.  Both parents are preachers
11.  Gradually going deaf
12.  Sleeps with a teddy bear at 20-some years old
13.  Has a much older brother that is a celebrity but still visits regularly
14.  When mother remarried it was to her late husband’s sister’s ex-husband.  E.g. The kid’s step dad was her uncle
15.  Was home-schooled K-12
16.  Collects swords
17.  Wears “goth look” and isn’t afraid to act girly
18.  Due to an eye condition, can only wear glasses. No contacts. No surgery.
19.  Looks like a cheerleader, acts like a nun, is a cop.
20.  Laughs hysterically when in suspense
21.  Cat lover who is allergic to pet dander.
22.  5’6” girl weighing 125lbs still has insecurities about her body
23.  Someone who finishes every-other-sentence with an awkward giggle
24.  Twins that do everything together. Same classes, same hobbies, not conjoined but never apart. 
25.  Menopausal at age 30
26.  Lost a seven month old baby, then faced cancer within the same year
27.  Doesn’t plan for a ride when out drinking and gilts people into playing cabbie. Will DUI
28.  Hates chocolate
29.  Has stutter
30.  Messianic Jew
31.  Storm chaser wannabe
32.  Ham radio operator
33.  Reads the paper for the obituaries to see if they know anyone who died
34.  Somewhat psychic
35.  Goes by their middle name
36.  Speech defect:  r=w
37.  Has metal bars in back from scoliosis surgery
38.  Thrives on social awkwardness
39.  Teen mom
40.  Loves snakes, hates birds
41.  Lesbian Republican
42.  Hates children
43.  Straight guy/girl whose first kiss was with the same sex
44.  Starts every sentence with “So like…”
45.  Aced algebra, but can’t do basic arithmetic. 
46.  Has an odd fetish
47.  Has strange phobia (
48.  Control freak
49.  Aspiring writer that can’t spell.
50.  Meows when saddened. 

September 10, 2012

My 9/11

Our grandparents will tell you how they found out about Pearl Harbor.  Our parents will tell you what they were doing when they heard that President Kennedy was shot.  Your friends will tell you the story of their 9/11.  This is mine.
My alarm clock went off with a hint of light coming through my bedroom window.  It was only about a week into the school year but my brain was already in school mode.  My first thought as I turned off my alarm was collecting what all was ahead for the day.  Let’s see…no quizzes, no tests, no homework due, just another ordinary Tuesday.
I went through my usual morning routine including breakfast with my brother, and waiting for the clock to turn the exact minute for us to leave and spend minimal time at the bus stop without being late.  Once at school I went straight to first hour.  The school district had separated me from my middle school friends.  I had two that came with to high school, but our schedules clashed for all but second hour.  I was used to it.  Elementary to middle school was the same story.
For first hour I had American Government.  I was starting to make one friend in that class, Greg.  We sat next to each other and had the same lunchtime so we had started getting to know each other a bit.  We chatted for a bit between the ten minute warning bell and the starting bell at 7:50am.  What a weird time to start school.
Every morning we would start class with “current events”.  Basically the teacher played a recording of the five am news broadcast and we took notes.  I managed to get my notes down about President Bush’s bill on stem cell research and a few other tidbits I don’t remember while still admiring the view of the morning sun over the junior varsity field.
My half-hearted attention was overtaken once we started taking notes.  We were breaking down the three branches of government beyond just legislative, executive, and judicial, when the psychology teacher from next door popped in.  That was strange enough already.
“You guys do current events in here right?”  She asked plainly.
“Yes,” my teacher answered with the inflection of a question.
“You might want to turn on the news,” She said and left without another word.
My teacher went to the classroom TV and flipped a few channels to CNN.  We see skyscrapers in smoke and the anchor is saying “A second plane has just hit the south tower of the World Trade Center.”
I was geographically challenged so my first thought was Where is the World Trade Center?  My second thought is A second plane?  What’s going on?  Catch me up people, what was going on with the first one?  We spent the rest of the ninety minute class period watching CNN.  I learned that the World Trade Center, located in New York City was the tallest structure in America.  Two passenger planes had been highjack and flown into the two towers as an act of terrorism.  Reporters were saying that there seems to be birds falling out of the air from the vast amount of smoke…wait…those aren’t birds.  Those are people.  People are jumping to their death, one after another to escape the inferno.  That’s when it really hit me, I went numb.
We watched as news about the Pentagon came on.  I had only recently learned that previous week that the Pentagon housed the US department of Defense.  This was big.  We were under attack and defense HQ was in the middle of the battle.  What could America do? And more importantly, what would be next? We lived close enough to Minneapolis.  The IDS tower was an easy target. 
“My mom works in the IDS,” One girl whispered in near tears to a friend as we watched in silence.  Just before class ended, one 100 plus story building became a pile of rubble and smoke.  Yet, the bell still rang and life went on.
Second hour was Orchestra; everyone was talking about what happened and about continuing to watch.  I had forgotten we were having a substitute that day.  We asked about watching the news and she said no.  So we asked if we could have the TV on mute while we practiced.  She said no.   During our short breaks everyone talked about how much of an un-American Nazi she was.  Someone who had gotten a hall pass reported that the other tower fell and a chunk of the Pentagon had collapsed and a plane had crashed in Pennsylvania, all while we practiced a menial piece of music for a concert that was two months away.
Third hour was Spanish.  The action had slowed significantly, but I had forgotten we had a sub in that class as well, and not just any sub; Mr.Kratt.  Mr. Kratt was the coolest sub ever and would always start class by entertaining the students, but not today.  He simply said, “Wow.  There are just no words for what has happened today.”  He went on about how things have slowed down so he will keep the tv on mute but we will still do the lesson.  He also reminded us that ProfĂ© was in San Diego and supposed to return tomorrow, but all flights have been grounded so she may not be back for a few days.
I did my work, peeked at the news occasionally, and fourth hour Math passed without any major event.  Once I got home I was ready to get my mind off everything with some entertaining TV, specifically my after-school favorite; TRL.  But MTV had been overtaken by the news, as well as every other channel.  My only hope for mind-numbing television was within the stations intended for children.  Nickelodeon had not been taken over by the news, but I had seen that episode of Spongebob so many times I was sick of it.  I went to my room to listen to some music on the radio, also overtaken by news.  Ugh!
At least by this time, one of my much younger friends from the neighborhood would be coming home on the school bus any second now.  I went out to her stop and looked for her as the bus pulled up to the corner.  She must be sitting on the other side.  I watched the kids get off.  She wasn’t among them.  She never stayed after school.  She always took the bus.  The only reason she might skip school is if she was visiting her aunts and uncles…in New York City!  I panicked and ran to meet up with one of her classmates.  Just as I reached him I remembered; it’s Tuesday.  Tuesdays she went to Hebrew school.  Whew!  I made it look like I had still had a point to talk to the guy I was now walking next to.  “So did you guys watch TV all day too?”
“No, it was pretty much all over by the time we left for school.”
I don’t remember much from the rest of that day.  I think I watch the presidential address later that night.  I remember in the days to come everyone shared their story.  Where they were, what they felt, people they were worried about.  “Current events” the next day had just one heading: 9/11 terrorist attacks.  I remember my Spanish teacher’s story about where she was and how she had to drive halfway across the country to get home.  I remember the patriotism that followed.  Everyone loved America. 
My 9/11 doesn’t end there.  It ends in 2003.  Since 2000 the orchestra had planned to go to Austin, Texas in 2003 and New York City in 2009.  The class of 1999 had gone to New York and our Director had shared about the experiences the first day of school, including the view from the top of the towers.  Later in 2001 it was determined that we would be going to New York in 2003 instead, and we would be missing one amazing view from the top of the twin towers.  We did however see the bottom.
We went to ground zero at night.  There was a chain-link fence surrounding the area.  It was the largest cement hole I had ever seen. At the back corner, about a half a mile from where we were standing, there was a bulldozer shoveling rubble from a pile about a quarter mile wide and at least one hundred feet deep.  They still had that much to clean up in June of 2003.
That is my answer to the question of our generation: Where were you on 9/11 2001?

Why I haven't been posting lately

Life has been winning.  There are only 24 hours in a day and this past week has been packed beyond belief.  I'm working on some future posts, but for now I have a lot of catching up to do.

September 5, 2012


      Hello again my fellow insecure writers!  Today I am posting an updated version of a former blog post that fits this group well.  I hope you enjoy "The Anti-Muse".

I’m settling into the easy chair by the TV and the only sound I hear is the gentle hum of my computer and the purr of my sleeping cat.  I pull up my latest work-in-progress and a few sentences in, I hear it: the anti-muse.

Unlike the soft and sweet whisper of the muse, the anti-muse yells with a raspy voice of steel wool that will rip into your heart and tear out your hopes and dreams.
“You fool!”  He screams.  “You’re no writer. You’re just a simpleton trying to put words together into sentences no one wants to read.  Just look at your blog.  Zero readers this week.  ZERO! ZILCH! NADA! No one wants to read your rubbish.” 

“So I’m in a bit of a slump,” I say.  “But anyone can write.  It’s just putting thoughts into words with a little creativity.”

“Anyone can write garbage!” He snides. “And let’s face it; you have the creativity of a white crayon on white paper.  Just read the trash you have so far.  I don’t even know which incompetence I should point out first!  You used their instead of they’re, the whole scene is unrealistic, and your characters have no personality!”  
“I see what you mean but…”

“You couldn’t sell a well-researched essay to the richest slacker on earth! Let alone sell a novel to a reader.  You should have stuck to the wise advice ‘write what you know’; which in your case means nothing!”  

“I just thought this would be an interesting…”

“Well, it’s not!”  He interrupts.  “It’s less interesting than your grey-clad algebra teacher with the monotone voice.  I mean seriously! Where is this plot going anyway?  I know. It’s either going nowhere or it’s going straight to….”

“STOP IT! JUST STOP IT!”  I yell back.  “It’s a draft, D-R-A-F-T, draft.  It’s supposed to be rough!  Yes, I have a long way to go on it, but I’m just starting to get my ideas down.”

“Isn’t this your third draft?” The anti-muse pries. “Shouldn’t you have it down by now?”

“No!  I’ll probably revise it a few more times, get it critiqued, revise again, and keep repeating the process until you shut up.  Now leave me alone!  I need to write some more garbage.  For all you know it could turn into gold once it’s refined in the fires of revision.”