Are We Having Fun Yet?

A friend of mine recently said to me, “It’s about having fun, isn’t it?” Of course, the answer to that is “Yes!”  Then I started thinking, yes, I know, I’m thinking again, are we having enough fun?

As a mom, I’m always worried about who did their homework, who needs to be taken where, who has clean clothes to wear, when was the last time someone showered, brushed their teeth, their hair, did they eat, did they do their chores, okay, the list goes on and on. But how come I’m not worrying about who has had fun? Note, worrying and fun don’t belong in the same sentence.

Shouldn’t childhood be about having fun? How often have I told my daughter she can’t wear makeup because she’s too young. Don’t grow up so fast, you have plenty of time to be an adult and wear makeup. If I’m telling my kids to enjoy their childhood how come I’m not telling them to have more fun? I mean, does anyone even have time for fun?

I have to schedule my fun in. That’s not so fun, but if I don’t somehow my week has consisted of a lot of responsibility. And don’t get me wrong, being a writer is fun, but it’s hard work too. Way harder than I ever thought and there are plenty of days I think I could scrap this writing thing and get a job at Starbucks, which would be way more fun! At least I’d have people to talk to besides my characters.

I’m teaching my children to schedule their fun in too. Gone are the days of calling a friend in the morning and they can come over by lunch time. I tell my kids, plan it for next weekend. Plan fun? Really?

So how do we have more fun? Do we toss away our calendars and our planners and… get ready for it our phones and live in the moment? That’s what yoga teaches us. Live in the moment. I’m always having fun when I’m doing yoga. Hmm…I’m seeing a connection here. Make my kids take yoga. Yeah, okay…no.

I don’t have all the answers. If I did I’d write a book and make millions. (Are we laughing yet?) I do know this much. I’m going to have more fun and I’m going to see to it my children have more fun too. Right after they finish their homework.

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Book Signing and Scavenger Hunt

BOOK SIGNING AND SCAVENGER HUNT

Selling Tales

113 Main Street, Hackettstown, NJ 07840

Saturday, February 22, 2014 2-4 pm

I will be at Selling Tales on February 22 from 2-4 pm. Stop by and say hello. I love to meet my readers. And don’t forget about the scavenger hunt. Will you be the lucky winner who finds the objects in time?

Appreciation Comes in All Shapes and Sizes

I don’t know about you, but as a mother I rarely feel appreciated. I spend my days driving my kids to school when they tell me the bus is too cold to stay on for the 30 minute  ride. I will drive back, the seven miles, on the same day when I receive a call at 2 pm that there’s a band meeting scheduled at the last moment and we don’t have a late bus for them to take home.  This will also be the day there is an orthodontist appointment so now I’ve driven to the school three times, four if you count the fact I had to return the child to school after his appointment. When I drop everything for my children I’m sacrificing something of my own. Usually yoga which keeps me nice so I want to continue playing chauffeur in sub zero weather and not want to shove snow down your shirt.

I’m not unique. I’m just a mom and  I survive on hugs and proud moments my kids don’t know I’m watching. You grow a thick skin when you become a mother. It actually prepared me for all the rejections I received while pitching my book.

The other day something magical happened. (No, not with the kids, but stick with me.) I stopped to get gas and the attendant asked me if I wanted my windshield cleaned. That’s magical all by itself because usually the attendant just grunts at you when he hands back your credit card. But this guy didn’t just clean the windshield. He cleaned all the windows and I have a SUV.

I never tipped anyone for washing my windshield before, but  I did this time. And in his attempt to thank me, there was a language barrier there, he went back and wiped down the frames of all the windows. He felt appreciated and so did I.

Was it the unprompted “thank you for driving me all over the planet so I can fit into society, have straight teeth, and some day the  job of my dreams” from one of my children? Was it “I’d love to help you shovel the snow because you bought me the sneakers I wanted” without eye roll? Not exactly.

I will continue to sacrifice yoga to drive my kids where they need to go. I’ll give up my writing time to help search for reliable sources for that science paper. I will remember that appreciation comes in all shapes and sizes. And when I’m not looking one of the young people that live in my house will clean my windows without asking and I’ll know all is right with the world.

What’s In a Name? / Another Good Reads Giveaway

This past weekend we were at my mother’s to celebrate my niece’s birthday. It was an Italian event in full force complete with my mother’s scrapbook. She’s been keeping a photo diary of our ancestors right through the birth of her grandchildren. It will be a nice keepsake some day. As long as you can get past the names.

As we were pointing out our ancestors and explaining family history to the younger generation something occurred to me. What the heck were my relatives thinking when they named their children? My great-grandfather’s brother was Sebastian. Okay, you may be saying, what’s wrong with that? Nothing. But it’s what they called him. His family couldn’t leave things well enough alone. They scarred this poor guy forever. Because he’s always been referred to as Uncle Saduti (I’m not even sure I spelled that right!) His name would be pronounced as  Sa Do Tee with the accent on the second syllable. This guy died before I was born and he’s going down in history as Sa Do Tee. Really?

This is Uncle Saduti and those sexy legs belong to Aunt Treesa.
This is Uncle Saduti and those sexy legs belong to Aunt Treesa.

Then there’s cousin To-To. Pronounced Doe Doe. No, he’s not a female deer. We have an Itulo. Pronounced Eee too Low.  Maybe he was short? Can’t forget Cheech. Thankfully, there’s no Chong. I have a cousin Cino Seeno. His real name is Vincenzo. I would’ve voted to be called that instead. I spent my whole life wondering why my Aunt Treesa wasn’t Theresa. But she was!! We just called her Treesa instead. My family obviously has issues making their blended sounds. And here’s a real kicker. Aunt Treesa had a first husband, like 60 years ago, and everyone left living can’t remember his name. The poor guy died in a mental hospital probably because no one knew who he was or where to find him.

Don’t be like my family. Choose wisely when picking a name or a nickname for your children. It will last for generations and end up in a scrapbook. You know, now that I’m thinking about it, these crazy names would make great names for some of the magical characters in my books because no real person is called Saduti.

 

On a different note: I’m holding another Good Reads Giveaway for Welcome to Kata-Tartaroo. You have until February 20, 2014 to enter. 5 signed copies will be given away to the lucky winners. Good luck and happy reading!

Mother – Daughter Relationships

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No, this isn’t us. I’m not a blonde – yet.

I’m currently navigating the Mother – Daughter relationship with an almost 12 year-old. Let me tell you, it’s no picnic. I already navigated the Daughter – Mother relationship and I think my mother and I survived the growing years with only minor injuries. Not bad for an Italian family where there is a constant threat of being hit with a wooden spoon. But I digress. 

I can’t seem to get this Mother – Daughter thing right and maybe I never will. Or maybe by the time I realize I did, my daughter will be a mother herself. Which will make me old enough to have lost my mind and I won’t care. Either way, the road through the growing years is more like a war zone. And not so much for raising a boy. His road seems to be filled with minor pot holes. Relatively easy to drive around and only a few that bend your rim beyond repair. I feel badly about that. But why should I think raising two different children should be the same? Because I’m a stubborn Italian, that’s why.

And being a stubborn Italian doesn’t help any when you’re playing the role of Mother. I want so badly for my daughter to heed my advice. Doesn’t she realize I’m wasting valuable air because I love her and want the best for her? Not now, she doesn’t. Nope, now all she wants is to figure it out for herself and all I want to do is convince her to listen to me. I’m working on that. Like the other day, when I arrived at her Lip Sync tryouts with a brand new hula hoop she needed for her act. I had stopped work early, drove in the pouring rain for 20 minutes to purchase a stupid, plastic hoop filled with water. Well, guess what? She didn’t like. She said it was too light. She wanted her old one that was peeling and looked like we dragged it out of a dumpster. I wanted to tell her they were the exact same thing from the same company and hula hoops don’t come in different weights. It’s a six dollar item. Not something used by Olympic athletes around the world. But, this time I caught myself.

“Use your old one,” I said. And off she went with a look of triumph. It wasn’t worth the fight. Score one for the Italian.

Maybe there’s hope for me yet. Maybe not. There’s still a lot of terrain left to travel on this Mother – Daughter road. And if all else fails, there’s always the wooden spoon.

Who Doesn’t Love a Sale?

Image Just a quick note. Welcome to Kata-Tartaroo, the Ereader version only, is on sale for $2.99 for Kindle and Nook. Might be a great time to download it for those book clubs. Happy Reading!

And what goes well with books? Why, dessert of course!

I thought you might like this recipe from Whole Foods Market at http://wholefoodsmarket.com/recipes/787.

Carrot Zucchini Cupcakes

Serves 12 Cupcakes

These veggie-stuffed cupcakes are great after school snacks, but work just as well for fancy birthday treats, too.

Ingredients

Cupcakes
1/2 cup expeller pressed canola oil
1/2 cup unbleached, evaporated cane sugar
1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
2 lg eggs
1 cup unbleached white flour
1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour
3/4 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp sea salt
2 medium carrots, grated
1/2 medium zucchini, grated
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
Frosting
1/2 cup cream cheese, softened
1 2/3 cup powdered sugar, sifted, (buy natural and unbleached, if possible)
2 tsp freshly squeezed lime juice
12 walnut halves for decoration

Method

Preheat oven to 400°F.
In a large mixing bowl, beat the oil with the sugar and applesauce. Add eggs. In a separate bowl, mix together mix together the flours, baking soda, cinnamon and salt. Add to the liquid ingredients. Fold in carrots, zucchini and nuts. Spoon into muffin cups filling 3/4 full. Bake 20 to 25 minutes or until done when tested with a toothpick. Cool on a wire rack.
For frosting, beat the softened cream cheese with the powdered sugar. Add lime juice. Ice the cupcakes with a blunt knife. Garnish each with a walnut half.