Jul

17

2014

Blogcation: Back on 7/29

Filed under: Fun and Games

Woo hoo!!!! I’m taking a small vacation from the blog next week.

Of course I’ll still be hanging around on multiple avenues of social media–but don’t plan on official blog posts.

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See you on the flip side–I’ll be getting ready for the SCBWI LA conference!!!!!

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Jul

15

2014

It Takes Brains to Help Families with Autism

Filed under: Check-it-out, Community, Pondering

It takes brains to help families.

Really–brains.

How do I know this?

Because my very good friends, the Matthews Family have told me so.

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(picture courtesy of the It Takes Brains website)

And I believe them because they have an intimate relationship with autism.

Here is their story…

 

 

I know that organ or brain donation is not for everyone. But it is for me. My personal beliefs are that I want to go out doing as much good for other people as I can. If you happen to be standing nearby when I make my exit–get my organs on ice ASAP! My driver’s license has me listed as an organ donor. And make sure that you contact the Autism BrainNet 24-hour Hotline (877- 333-0999) as soon as possible and inform the  medical personnel of my intent to make a brain tissue donation. Tell them that this brain (as weird as it might be) is for the Matthews family.

I would greatly appreciate your support of this family and other families with autistic challenges. Please do what you can–sign up to use your brain for something good. You can do that HERE. You can also share this blog with everyone you can. Or use your own platform to pass the IT TAKES BRAINS website along to others.  And please feel free to use the comments below to pass on your love and encouragement to a family that could really use it at this time. The details are personal–but the Matthews family has more than their fair share of challenges right now. So let’s give them more than our brains–let’s give them a little bit of our hearts too. <3

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Jul

10

2014

Rereading When There’s A Mountain of New Books

Filed under: Audiobooks, Pondering, Reading

In general, life is too short to reread books–even great ones–when there are so many amazing books out there that I haven’t read yet. There are mountains of books to be consumed and I’m greedy. But there are always exceptions to general policy LOL!

Many books

 

Unfortunately, this year I’m slower than usual in my reading, making every opportunity to read something, that much more valuable. So, to find myself doing more rereading than usual surprises me. I lost huge chunks of time when we moved and when my boys changed schools. But when I took a peek at the book I do have under my belt for 2014, I found that more than any other time I can remember, a large percentage of these books I’ve read before. In my read column 4 out of 33 are rereads and in my currently reading column I have another 2 books that are rereads with the potential for more. (I have a couple in the que of my iTunes audiobook list.)

As I noticed the number of rereads creeping up higher, I began thinking about why I was returning to these books. I discovered I had a variety of reasons…

*I’m rereading books with my younger boys that I’d read with my older son. He had a different school schedule and we’d pick out books he and I could share in the car when the other kids weren’t around. If we loved the story (audiobooks aren’t cheap) we’ve been happy to recycle. THE AIRMAN by Eoin Colfer and UNGIFTED by Gordon Korman were fabulous rereads for everyone.

*I’m also sharing great books I’ve read as ARC’s (and didn’t have time to read with the boys) or books they weren’t ready to read with me before, but now they are. Like BETWEEN SHADES OF GRAY by Ruta Sepetys

*I also love reading books on craft using a tangible paper copy I can underline and make notes in. I feel writing books are meant to be written in, but I often like to do follow-up reads of the same amazing book on audio. So far I’ve done this with Stephan King’s ON WRITING and I’m currently soaking up BIRD BY BIRD by Anne Lamott. I HIGHLY recommend BIRD BY BIRD on audio BTW–it is amazing. I am also confident that these amazing books will be listened to over and over again over the years. Inspiration and motivation!

Do you reread your favorite books? Do you reread books in new ways, like a paperback and audio versions of the same story? What’s your favorite reread and how many times have you consumed it? Inquiring minds want to know.

 

 

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Jul

8

2014

Force Me to Tell You My Secret Hobby

Filed under: Pondering, Writing, YA Outside the LInes

Today I’m blogging over at YA Outside the Lines and this month we are taking about our hobbies and how they inform our writing. I’m spilling the beans on my secret hobby, so you might want to pop over there and check it out. 

 

Here’s your teaser…

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Do you have a secret hobby? If you do–I want to hear about it.

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Jul

1

2014

When You Put in the Time Magic Happens

Filed under: Check-it-out, Community, Writing

Today is the next BIG game in World Cup Soccer. It’s USA vs Belgium and it’s do or die for the US team.

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Photo courtesy of US Soccer

Everything rides on this game–well not actual life or death–but world cup elimination. And this team has become the scrappy underdog of the World Cup. And with each touch of the ball they are endearing themselves to their country and beyond. I’m trying not to get my hopes up to high, but I can’t help it–I haven’t been this jazzed about an American Team since the Olympic Men’s Hockey Team that beat Russia to take the goal when I was a kid. Miracle on Ice! Thinking of that still twists my gut and gives me chills. This team has the heart to go further than any US team has ever gone before. And because soccer is my favorite sport ever–I am giddy with excitement to see what happens today.

Why is this US team so good? In my humble opinion, t’s their teamwork, their dedication and their heart. They are also pretty darn classy. Soccer is a rough sport, but they haven’t bit anyone in frustration. *shakes head*

But that’s not all they have, this group of guys also has mad ball skills. Okay–maybe their not always as good as some of the other teams. (That’s where all that heart and dedication fills in the gaps) But they are pretty freaking competitive. And just like everyone else–writers included. (I know you were waiting for that transition LOL!) They have to practice. If you want to excel at what you do, you have to hone your craft daily. Whether it’s touches on the ball or words on the page–you have to put in your time. Just like this…

When you do–magic happens.

I love this commercial so much, I’m even willing to post it knowing it’s from MacDonalds *sigh* Not my favorite company. But when I look at the people and the message beyond “buy my horrible food” I think it’s a good one. THERE SHOULD BE JOY IN THE PRACTICE OF YOUR CRAFT. You should be exhilarated by what you do. And proud. So, please help me root for our boys today. They deserve our support. And make time to passionately pursue your art. And don’t eat at MacDonalds–seriously–I’ll feel bad if posting this video backfires. Go get some healthy, chemical free, sustainable food by a farm or company that provides humane treatment to it’s animals and staff. You can’t be your best self if you consume crap.

Do you love soccer? Have you been following team USA? Are you writing daily? Do you notice the difference when you put in the time?

 

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Jun

26

2014

Stop Running: You are Youer Than You

Filed under: Community, Family, Pondering

Some days I don’t intend to write about what I write about, but everywhere I turn the same message is slapping me in the face, asking me to dig deeper. And the weird part is that the messages comes from very different, unrelated directions. I used to ignore these kinds of “coincidences” but I’ve learned to pay attention and listen to what the universe is telling me. It’s usually important.

This morning I stumbled across a very long and emotional FB post by a dear friend. She is an amazing person and mother, despite the challenges that have been thrown at her–things that might have broken someone else because of their weight. Today she was talking about running. Not just running for pleasure and exercise, which is something she does when life allows it. But she was talking about running away emotionally and the even harder thing to handle–not running away.

“The certainty of this circumstance eliminates my usual option of running. If I can’t run from this inexpressible pain WHAT AM I SUPPOSED TO DO?!?” 

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That is an epic question.

And “coincidentally” another one of my very good friends (who doesn’t know my other friend–yet) unknowingly answered her so beautifully when she wrote a letter to her daughter. You Are Youer That You: A Letter to My Daughter.

If I were to take that amazing blog post and turn it into a mantra for my other friend it would go something like this…

Before you take flight…

Know I love you.

You ARE going to make mistakes. 

These moments will require you to be brave.

Remember you are not alone.

Everyone is fighting a battle you know nothing about.

So be kind.

Always.

It will get harder as you get older, but remember…

Friends are the family you choose for yourself.

Listen.

Work hard.

Give life everything you have and life will give you everything you need.

Embrace your past, but spread your wings.

And never forget to be patient with yourself.

And be patient with me. 

Please.

Because the world is big.

And even though it’s hard, we must be brilliant.

Shine.

No matter how old you are…

This is just the start of a journey.

The world needs you.

I need you.

Don’t forget that.

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Jun

24

2014

Discombobulated Type PPDD Style

Filed under: Family, Pondering

Now there’s a word. Discombobulated. It’s jumble of letters and sounds beautifully mimics it’s meaning.

discombobulate |ˌdiskəmˈbäbyəˌlāt|
verb [ with obj. ] humorous
disconcert or confuse (someone): this attitude totally discombobulated Bruce | (as adj. discombobulated) : he is looking a little pained and discombobulated.
DERIVATIVES
discombobulation noun
ORIGIN mid 19th cent.: probably based on discompose or discomfit.

I am so discombobulated right now–I don’t know whether I’m coming or going. I have emotional highs and lows with a graduating 5th grader. I have scheduling wackiness. Routines are changing. Extra stuff is being layered on top of the typical. Other stuff is over and I get a bit confused. Not unusual for me to stand in the middle of a room right now, squeeze my head and wonder where I should be and who I should be taking with me. I agree to things I have to later back out of and I decline things I could have accepted. I am a hot mess. Every day I have to make a list of things to do. Sometimes I head out without the list. That’s always entertaining. What keeps me in the game? I bow down to the folks responsible for my calendar app that allows me to bleep myself with reminders of where I should be and when. That app is the only reason I’m not laying on the floor in the fetal position.

I’d like to add a disclaimer about my spazziness. This level of discombobulation is not actually a big deal for people who are Type Freaking A. My mayhem is barely pulse-raising for them. But for type PPDD (procrastinators who are painfully disorganized and dreamy) this kind of stuff stretches us to our limits.

And then there’s the writing. I’ve got not one, but two projects, that I’m hot on the tail of. Left to my own devices, I could spend a full eight hours curled up with each of them. Right now I find myself working furiously in my head while I try to organize piles of boy shoes, stay stocked with enough food to feed the little buggers, get the car serviced, remember to water my plants (epic fail) and  dodge falling aluminum as the guys put new gutters on the house. Someday I will hang that hummingbird feeder I bought in the spring. They’ll still be here in November, right? *head thunk*

Discombobulated. Seriously.

And then there are the nightmares. Some people have really legit, cool nightmares. Not me. Last night I dreamt that even though I ordered the graduation cake and paid for it–I forgot to pick it up. The party was going off without a hitch and BAM! No cake. And some of you might be thinking–not the end of the world–but obviously you’ve never met my mother. She’s normally a pretty fabulous gal, but she can turn into Mean Jean the Cake Machine. I kid you not. This woman has bakery issues. So, there was that, but that was not my first grad party nightmare. I know I should sweat the small stuff. But it’s my unconscious mind. It never listens.

So, at least for the time being (by time being–I mean at least until my 9yo graduates from college) I’m going to be a bit discombobulated. I’ll try to get use to it, but you know how us Type PPDD’s are. I’d rather spend my time dreaming of  the personal assistant/house elf that would save me from myself.

Santas Elf Sitting on Edge

I think I’ll name him Bob.

Anybody else discombobulated? Any other Type PPDD’s out there? Don’t leave me blowing in the wind alone. LOL! If you’re Type A–feel free to rub it in, but know you’ll never qualify for House Elf assistance–karma is a *bleep*

Love you all, know matter what type you are.

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Jun

19

2014

Entangled Roots: Once a Frog, Always a Frog

Filed under: Community, Family, Pondering, School Visits

Often when you think you’re at the end of something, you’re at the beginning of something else.

- Mister Rogers

 

For those of you who are new to the blog. I guess I should warn you. I can’t separate my personal life from my writing life. They are inexplicably intertwined. I usually do my best to create some connectivity between the branches, but sometimes they simply are what they are–grafted together. In the past, I’ve blogged about the school my children have attended. I’ve written with joy and hope. (Room 100 Holds the Secret to Fighting the War on Terror. Are You Interested?) I’ve also had the heart crushing disappointment of writing about administrative failure. (A Person’s A Person No Matter How Small: An Open Letter to the Wappingers Central School District)

Today I get to write about entangled roots…

Yesterday I had the pleasure of returning to my boy’s old elementary school. The one from before we moved. We returned for HUGS Day, which is an epic field day and party. A celebration. It’s a great day to be a FES Frog. But for the Sabatini’s it was a little bit like the ups and downs in one of those bouncy houses. We were so excited to see all our friends again, but at times, no matter how much fun we were having, it was a little bitter sweet. We were forced to look at what we’d been missing–what we are still missing until school comes to an end next week. The boys and I discussed it afterwards and came to the conclusion that being there had far outweighed the small hurts that left little bruises we’d have to recover from later.

Here were some of the big bounces that made the day great…

Small bounce house

Yeah–HUGS day is a bouncy house bonanza!

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 Good friends fall right back into place.

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Sharing the experiences of a new school with the old school.

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 Visiting familiar friends of a different nature.

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Reengaging partners in crime <3

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Eating too much.

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And singing and dancing–a HAPPY teacher flash mob.

But life is strange and somewhere in the middle of snacks, flash mobs and catching up with friends, I overheard conversations that caused me to step back. Everyone was talking about the up and coming 5th Grade Moving Up Ceremony (which we are happily participating in) and the last day of school. Everyone was discussing all the expected tears–how hard and sad it was all going to be. Huh? My mind spun a little trying to connect the dots. Then understanding hit me like a lightening bolt as I realized what I had been missing.

We were no longer standing in the same place our friends were.

We had already grieved the loss of things the way they were. We had had to say goodbye and it had been hard–really, really hard. For us, school being over will be a kind of relief, an end of a particularly rough and knotted branch of our lives. Everyone else at FES is now poised to be standing on the very thin line between the past and the future, with all the emotional and actual baggage that comes with it. And while we might be physically standing next to everyone on that thin line, it isn’t the same.  We are like a group of friends who has opted for different paths through the woods. We will arrive at the same destination–but now we have very different stories to tell about our journey to get there.

But sometimes there are advantages to hearing someone else tell the tale of their journey. This week in particular, as we meet back up to celebrate moving up, I’d like to share what we learned on the road less traveled to an FES graduation.

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We’ll all be okay. We’ve got this, because we have each other.

Often in the hustle and bustle of our growth–our forward momentum–we forget about our roots. Our eyes gravitate to the part of the tree that is easy to see. We forget about the strength and beauty of the roots–the parts that have nurtured us and held us in place while we’ve grown. The part that is hidden. FES has given us everything we need to anchor us to the best parts of ourselves and each other. I know this because when my boys had their lives painfully pruned back, they continued to be resilient, to grow and thrive. They are firmly woven with their past, their mentors and their friends, which has allowed them to remain standing, no matter how hard the wind has blown.

Over the next week, the 5th graders at FES will begin the process of branching out–of growing up. They will often take different paths as they grow. But we are very lucky because these kids are all trees in the same beautiful wood and it is my suspicion that beneath it all–their roots are entangled–adding more strength and support for the years to come. It has been my family’s pleasure to be a part of the FES family. Once a frog always a frog. And that is the truth. But being one thing doest limit you from being more things. Love is not limits–it is opportunity. So I’d also like to take a moment to thank everyone at our new school. I’m so very lucky because they grow strong and sturdy trees with beautiful roots there, too. They mended and supported us when we were a little broken. They cared for us like we had always been there–instead of what we really were–shell-shocked transplants. And now, because we haven’t moved too far, we have roots in two wonderful places. All that is left to do is entangle them even further. Be prepared to make new friends…

Often when you think you’re at the end of something, you’re at the beginning of something else.

 

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Jun

17

2014

Character Driven

Filed under: Drafting, Pondering, Writing, Writing Style

I’ve learned to pay attention to the small print of my life. Right now I need to be focused on writing that is character driven. I’m currently surround by daily reminders that this should be the focus in my writing. Where am I getting all these messages and motivation? It’s everywhere…

*I just finished DREAMS  OF GODS AND MONSTERS by Laini Taylor. Oh, the characters–they haunt me.

*Major Crimes is back! This show is ALWAYS about the characters and their arcs.

*The World Cup is kicking! And even though the focus is soccer, it’s the players who leave it all out on the field that capture our hearts and our attention.

*Graduations–they are everywhere. Thousands and thousands of amazing stories of triumph. I’ve watched my own 11yo get acquainted with his own character to make it to this milestone this year.

*SYTYCD where my favorite dancers step, leap and stretch into different characters to tell a story.

 

As the summer gets ready to kick into high gear–don’t forget to let character take you for a drive.

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Jun

12

2014

True Confession: Art Stimulates Art is Back

Filed under: Blogging, Check-it-out, Community, Dancing, Pondering

True Confession…

 

I had to decide whether I was going to write a blog post or watch SYTYCD?

 

You know my weakness.

 

 

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New revelations coming soon. But in the mean time, take a moment to remember what it feels like to be the newbie–the aspiring.  Whether you’re a dancer or a writer–SYTYCD or SCBWI– being generous is fabulous for everyone. <3

 

 

 

 

 

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