Missing the days of summer activities coming to a close
in air-conditioned oases;
of falling asleep on cool sheets under ceiling fans
to Alexa’s thunderstorm sounds;
of resting in peace & dreams,
knowing that the Ring will BOLO for trespassers,
& all manner of opportunists.
Missing the days of piping hot food
& ice-cold drinks;
of barbecue leftovers in the oven
& banana pudding ice cream,
missing the days of being blasted
by the cold dark from the freezer
& bathed by the cool light from the fridge.
Missing the days of glassware that sparkles
& freshly-laundered clothes.
Missing the days of entering a warm shower
& exiting a cool one.
Missing the days of switches instead of wicks,
the security of half-full gas tanks,
& streetlights that banish the creeping, creepy night-dark.
Missing the days of waking up recharged,
with devices fully charged.
Life seems to stop
when the power stops:
time simply passes more slowly:
broken up by weather updates
& neighborhood watch texts—
like x’s on calendars
or dots on a timeline.
Some serve others,
while others wait for service;
still others simply leave
because they can,
taking their face coverings with them
to avoid the Godless wrath of Covid—
an unseen force jockeying with this other unseen force
to be the star of the 24/7 news programming.
In the back of our minds,
we all are pacing
in Life’s Waiting Room—
that most frustrating place to which we all go,
discovered in the lab of Dr. Seuss’s imagination—
except this space is muggy-hot & pitch-black,
dispelled only by the whisper of a breeze
or the flicker of a candle,
& we are suddenly aware of all
that goes on behind the scenes
to improve our quality of life.
As part of my Post-K Summer Reading Boot Camp:
Saturday is Swimming Day is a textbook example of “Give it a try. You might like it.” Green Eggs and Ham did it much better, though a child being afraid of swimming is more grounded in the real world than eating green eggs and ham (unless you live in the tundra and happen to be served 20-minute eggs and chimichurri pork).
Unfortunately, the story was boring and generic.
This book is more of what I call a process book–a recipe for how to overcome a fear (in this case, swimming).
There was nothing special or interesting about the little girl, who remained unnamed; the only person named is the adult.
What I did like about the story is that it showed the need for teachers–moms can’t do everything, but they can help their child find the help they need when books aren’t enough. However, the mom didn’t seem very intuitive as she didn’t make an effort to talk to her child about why she got a stomachache every Saturday before class.
The purpose of the other children served to show that the girl, without class participation, wouldn’t likely make any friends. Friendship, in this case, was the participation trophy; the joy of swimming was the win.
Saturday is Swimming Day showed that if you expose your kids to something long enough, they just might try it.
One thing I did find odd was the little girl calling an adult by their first name; as a child, I never call adults by their first name, unless it was preceded by a title, like Aunt or Uncle.
Because my daughter loves going to the pool–she even practices “swimming” in the bathtub to get used to the water like the little girl in the book–she liked looking at the pictures (which were dull and flat), but it definitely didn’t make for interesting reading.
Suggested activity: If you can give your child swimming lessons, do it. Uncontrolled water, such as bays, rivers, and oceans, are no places for learning how to swim; pools (controlled water) are far better. In such an environment, you don’t have to worry about being eaten by varmints or contracting flesh-eating bacteria; you can also add toys without worrying about them getting carried away by the current. What’s more, you don’t have to worry about getting heat stroke or sunburn. Swimming is great resistance training that is low-impact, and it works out the entire body.
He was Stan–
Stan the Man,
She was Jan–
Jan with the big cans,
which was why
she did not need
Stan the Man
with his ooey, too-dewy
When he asked to take her to bed,
“Never to bed,
even if we wed.”
“In a car?” he asked.
“Never in a car–
no matter how fast or how far.”
“In an elevator?”
“Never in an elevator–
no matter how high or how low,
you will never be the way I go.”
“In the grass,
under a tree,
or on the roof,
facing the sea?”
“Never in the grass
or out of the grass,
under a tree
or over a tree,
on a roof
or off a roof–
not even off my rocker–
You are gross,
you are gross,
don’t you smell,
don’t you see?”
you might like me,
you shall see.
Just one kiss,
and you will be in bliss.”
She shook her head and said,
“This ain’t green eggs and ham.
If I take you in,
I can’t just spit you out,
with my being Catholic,
is not allowed.”
And so Stan the Man
became Stan the Mailman,
delivering only those
oh-so discreet packages
that women really wanted
(batteries not included).
It was last night
that I read the last work
that would be published
in my alma mater’s literary journal.
Brian and Hannah had joined me—
along with my dad and grandmother
who we call Bernadean
because she’s not all “grammy-like.”
My English and Communications friends were there,
my old college newspaper friends—
except for the ones who’d graduated and moved on—
were there to cover the event
in the room where my daughter saw
trapezoids and triangles in the ceiling.
I’d worn my new little black dress—
well, let’s be real,
but it showed the shoulders
I had been expected to cover
in my past life as a Mormon.
My daughter was showing off or rather,
I was showing off my daughter in her new bob
that makes her look like Scout Finch
and white dress with the red ribbon straps
that kept slipping down.
Still better her have a wardrobe malfunction than me.
My dad and grandmother were late
but just in time to see one of the artists’ photographs
of his topless girlfriend projected on the screen
and for Dad to hear one of the poets use the f-word,
which I knew he would complain about later.
I break out in hives all over my chest when I read,
but I chose to ignore them,
for that was better than sweating profusely.
Hives don’t give you B.O.
There were “decadent desserts”
with all different toppings;
I wasn’t fooled,
for they were all brownie bites
but “elevated” as the TV chefs would say.
I was asked for a quote by the kid
who only wanted to write reviews
because he just enjoys writing his opinions.
Yes, I tell him, I really am obsessed with Mother Goose
(and, off the record, ablaut reduplication).
Hannah got to watch and listen to one of the artists play his guitar.
Everyone was so kind.
The event was held in a room off the art gallery on campus,
and we saw a man’s bust made of pennies,
which made me think that Mike Brady’s head
wouldn’t have shattered had it been made of change.
I still had to make cornbread
(hoecakes were too much work—
I couldn’t just shove them in the oven
and forget about them for a half hour)
for a “Cooking on a Dime” event at work tomorrow—
the college where I work because I loved it so much,
I didn’t want to leave.
We got our Easter ham,
and then Dad wanted to take us out
for half-priced milkshakes after 8 at Sonic.
Tons of kids were there for the same reason.
I had to lend Hannah my white sweater wrap
and make her look like an old lady in a shawl.
I got chocolate
but without malt,
what good is it?
I gave Hannah my cherry,
and Dad gave me his.
We joked about how Mom
who doesn’t live on Earth anymore
would embarrass my brother
by asking for “thick shakes” and “hot fries”
because damn it,
she was paying good money for this crap.
It’s nice to be able to talk about her without crying.
And then we go to our homes,
me to mine,
where I read Green Eggs and Ham,
and I told this little girl with the big blue eyes
that until I met her dad,
mushrooms had been my Green Eggs and Ham—
when he fried them like we do everything here.
Right then and wherever there was,
I fell in love with fungi candy.
And I write all this now
while it’s still fresh
because new memories are constantly being made,
and I don’t want to lose this one.
Bloggers, have “theme days” or regular “feature articles”. It will help you stay on track, as it’s easier to write a continuing series than a stand-alone piece every single time; this will also help you blog purposefully, rather than simply posting whenever inspiration sparks (as inspiration doesn’t always happen on a regular basis). Serious bloggers should blog at least twice a week, or no less than once, and preferably on the same days. Make your own deadlines, and meet them.
If you’re not on a regular blog schedule yet (which I highly recommend) with “themes” filling in the slots on certain days, here are some blogging prompts to get you started:
1.Query letters: I believe these are an art form in & of themselves, and should serve as an appetizer to the main work. https://sarahleastories.com/2014/01/17/query-letter-to-missouri-life-magazine/
2.Rejection letters: The good, the bad, and the funny. https://sarahleastories.com/2014/05/08/an-interesting-rejection-letter/
3.Book reviews: Analyzing a book and articulating why you liked (or didn’t like) it strengthens your critical thinking skills, which helps you become a better writer. A well-written book review can often be as entertaining as the book. If you’re praising the book, try to “sell it”; if you’re not, then state exactly why you didn’t like it. “It sucked”, or “it was stupid”, will never suffice. Beware of spoilers—think of a book review as a movie trailer. Whet the appetite, but don’t satisfy it. https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/30181323-sarah-lea-stories.
4.”Blog your book”. That said, don’t post 1000-word chapters at a time. 300 (or less) is perfect. For a 60K word book, at 300 words per post, you will generate more than 260 posts, which you could stretch out over two years time. However, read this (http://www.rachellegardner.com/should-you-blog-your-novel/) before doing that.
5.Author tribute. This is different than a book review in that it “reviews” an author’s entire body of work. As great as it is to find a good book, it’s even greater to find a good author and read everything they’ve read (as many authors are hit-and-miss).
6.Take something cute (or not) & turn it into something dark & sometimes inappropriately funny: https://sarahleastories.com/2014/02/12/linsey-gordon-had-a-hatchet/
7.Haiku, limerick, or even a 6-word story with a stunning photograph; posts don’t have to be long, just good. (A great suggestion I once read is that the first two lines of a 3-line poem should be opposites, and the last line should be a surprise that ties the two opposites together in a surprising or unexpected way.) I often like to do short pieces in series of 3: https://sarahleastories.com/2014/03/02/nonet-poems-my-geography/
8.Short, personal essay (300 words): Myslexia (https://mslexia.co.uk/nonfiction/) does this using the ABC’s, which I thought a cute idea. It’s easier to mine your life for material when it doesn’t have to be a full-length piece.
9.Writing tips: I share these on my Facebook page Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday: https://www.facebook.com/sarahleastories/?fref=ts
10.Writing prompts: I appreciate these, as they are ideal for freewriting practice. https://sarahleastories.com/2016/03/06/writing-prompt-the-memoirs-of-others/
11.Writing products you like (software, pens, free Kindle books, etc.): https://sarahleastories.com/2016/02/06/5-really-cool-things-about-kindle/
12.Favorite writing blogs (or Twitter accounts). Mine are (so far): https://twitter.com/WriterlyTweets, https://twitter.com/GHowellWhite1, https://twitter.com/tablopublishing, https://twitter.com/writerswrite, https://twitter.com/Grammarly, https://twitter.com/AgathaChocolats, https://twitter.com/WritersDigest
13.Life Lessons: A list of 10 life lessons (serious or silly) you have learned. I consider this a “column piece”. These are so “notebookable”.
14.How-To Article: Did you know Microsoft Word can “grade your work”?: https://sarahleastories.com/2015/03/20/writing-tips/
15.One Book, Many Forms. Every Friday, I post a set of #novelines or #micropoetry from my book (https://twitter.com/KatrynNolan). Not every noveline is a true noveline because of Twitter’s character limitations, and the micropoetry is brand new–all of which I am going to repurpose into a pocket book called “Mormons on the Beach”, as part of my book promotion package. Though you should always keep at least half of what you write under lock and key (until you become Stephen King and can charge for it all), make sure everything you put out there is your best work.
And here is 40 more from an author who has great content and isn’t just all about selling her books: http://writerswrite.co.za/40-types-of-content-that-will-make-your-life-easier
“The past is concrete,
the future abstract,
but the present is most precious,
for it so quickly becomes the past.”–SLR
Crackie O’Cain was a know-it-all,
with a sniff upper lip,
yet her left hand knew not
what her right hand did;
when she fused
Personality #1 & Personality #2,
(a.k.a. Thingy #1 & Thingy #2),
she lost her ambidexterity,
becoming one-sided, yet torn in twain.
Twenty-Five Things I’ve Learned Since Becoming a Mom
1. I have learned patience, because I had to teach it to myself, or else go crazy. Sometimes, instead of praying that God will make her easier to deal with at a particular moment, I pray that He will help me better handle the situation. Babies cry, and it’s okay if you need to give yourself a “time-out” sometimes.
2. “Baby brain” does not go away. Unless my child is asleep, I have never been able to focus on something like I did before. That’s part of being a mom.
3. I don’t always sleep when the baby sleeps. That’s when I get things done. My house is cleaner than it’s ever been, because once they start crawling, they will find every microscopic piece of dirt and put it in their mouth. And if that’s all it is, don’t fret over it.
4. I find myself looking for clues, a hint, at what my daughter may become. We see her turning over her xylophone, spinning the wheels, trying to figure them out, and we think, “She’s going to be an engineer.” When she inspects Brian’s teeth, it’s, “She’s going to be a dentist.” We will nurture her talents as we nurture her (especially if it means she’ll make enough to take care of us in our old age).
5. Though I am a creative individual, I found I’ve developed a more playful imagination. There is a certain sort of magic about childhood that’s precious. My daughter likes to lift up an edge of the area rug on our tile floor and I pretend there’s another world under there (like the other little girl in the mirror). Children are filled with wonder and curiosity. Nurture that as well.
6. Sitting on the floor and playing with my child is quite cathartic and relaxing after a long day at work or a heavy study session. It refreshes me and helps me focus even better when I have to return to adult matters.
7. I now have a reason for swinging on the swings at the park. (I have to show her how, after all.) I’ve been sillier than I’ve ever been in my life. Blowing bubbles is fun, and jumping on the trampoline will be fun–all over again. One of my favorite things to do when I was little was to line up all my dolls and stuffed animals and yell at them (I guess that’s what I thought being an adult was all about). I find that I am living a second childhood (not reliving), and that is not a bad thing.
8. I’ve developed a new appreciation for Dr. Seuss. I didn’t grow up with him (my parents preferred Mother Goose) and I always thought his illustrations were ugly. But, a preschool teacher friend of mine was big on him, so I gave him a chance and, like “Green Eggs and Ham”, I tried him and now love him (and his drawings). It is never too early to read to your child, and you can never have too many books. And, if you manage to acquire some board books that aren’t in the best condition (or, if not, just go to the dollar store), let them have at them, so they can learn how to turn the pages, and just have the experience holding a book. I read at least a novel a week, and I make sure she sees me reading.
9. Songs hold their attention more when you use sign language. I made up sign language for all twelve stanzas of “London Bridge is Falling Down”.
10. My selfies have diminished and Hannah is now the darling of my camera. My interest in photography has increased. When buying a camera, get a good one. It’s worth the investment.
11. I’ve found myself wanting to learn more, for the more I know, the more I can teach her.
12. 90% of my daughter’s time is unstructured, but 10% is learning through play (or just plain playing), the Montessori way. I’ve learned that when kids are bored, they are forced to use their imagination.
13. Baby talk. I’d always said I’d never do it, but I do. (Hey, Shakespeare made up words, too.)
14. There is no such thing as too many paccies (or batteries).
15. If you think you’re selfish when you’re single, that naturally diminishes when you become a mom. As much as I want a new wardrobe, I want her to have the preschool experience more.
16. It’s okay to not jump up and comfort them every time they fall. Sometimes distracting them is enough to ward off a crying jag.
17. It’s okay to let them get messy. It’s good for sensory development to let them play with their food. (Mine loves to smash avocado all over her face and hair.) If they’re hungry, they’ll eat it. And putting them in the bath afterwards to play is a snap.
18. Everything takes longer with a baby. I have found that I’ve had to prioritize my time more. Do I really need to see that episode of “Law and Order” again? Children also aren’t made to be quiet and still all the time. That’s what the DVR is for.
19. I have received a lot of unsolicited advice about child-rearing. None of it has been useful.
20. It’s okay if you can’t breast-feed. It doesn’t mean you’re lazy. Sometimes it just doesn’t happen, no matter how much you want it to.
21. I know I will never be able to protect my children from all “bad” foods. There will be parties, there might even be McDonald’s. That doesn’t mean I ever have to take her there.
22. They’ll walk when they’re ready. My daughter’s pediatrician, every single appointment, would mention about her being “developmentally delayed”. My husband would bristle at the less than tactful terminology, but we’re putting her through all the tests (as much for her well-being as for our peace of mind), and at twenty months, she is walking (and isn’t stopping).
23. I think back about my own parents and appreciate them more than I ever have in my life. I never really knew how much my parents loved me till I had my own child. All the pain, even the “indignity” of childbirth, the weight gain, the stretch marks, the lack of sleep, not being able to just pick up and go, the sense of being overwhelmed when you’re first alone with them, has all been worth it.
24. I never think I’m a good enough mom, but I’ve found that if you’re trying to be, you are.
25. Most of all, I make sure to make Hannah laugh. A child’s smile is a light in a sometimes dark world, and their laughter is the music.