Sunday, February 27, 2011

Monday, February 21, 2011

"We are what we repeatedly do.  Excellence, therefore, is not an act, but a habit."

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Planet Happy

  As a nanny I am always looking for fun indoor places to play in the winter.  Today, Nellie and I discovered Planet Happy (2914 Northeast 55th Street Seattle, WA 98105 (206) 729-0154 Open Mon-Sat 10am-6pm; Sun 10am-5pm) and I'm so glad we did!  It is a store filled with toys, books, arts and crafts, and even animals.  Buttercup, the resident pygmy hedgehog lives right by the front door.  Usually she is curled up in her log sleeping the day away, but we got a rare glimpse of her today in all her spiky glory. We were also greeted by the chirps and coos of lots of tiny birds from within their aviary, which happens to be an old-fashioned turquoise "coolerator" refrigerator.  Placed right next to the avaiary is the crafts table where buttons, magnets and mirrors can all be created for just a dollar or two, while enjoying the peaceful fluttering of the birds.  Nellie chose to make a small button today, before playing with the train set and trying out the swinging hammock. It was a great way to spend the morning being creative and supporting a local business, whose mission is admirable. For every $10 spent at Planet Happy, a tree is planted!  And better still is their strict Product Criteria, every toy is labeled for its ability to meet specific standards- Fairly traded, Organic, Socially Responsible, Recycled, Mom-owned, Green, and Natural.  Love it! 
  Planet Happy sure made us happy today, we will definitely be going back.  Hopefully we'll see you there!
Nellie holding up her Planet Happy button she made

Monday, February 14, 2011

                          "A loving heart is the truest wisdom."
 ~ Charles Dickens
  Happy Valentine's Day!  I know this isn't everyone's favorite "holiday" but I find that having one day a year set adside to celebrate love and those in your life, be it friends, family, or companions, who are special, really is a sweet sentiment.  Hope that you all have a perfectly LOVE-ly day!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

My Favorite Book this Week...

  My favorite book this week is one I came across at last week's SCBWI Western WA meeting.  It is by  local author/illustrator, Paul Schmid who was at the meeting and did a signing afterward.  The picture book is called A Pet for Petunia and it is perfectly silly and sweet!  As Maurice Sendak quotes on the front, it is "A simple, beguiling story. Bravo!"  Petunia wants a pet, but not just any pet, she wants a skunk!  Paul perfectly captures the humor and naivete of a young girl who wants what she wants and she wants it now, and will do anything to get it.  Until she finally meets a skunk and his awful, horrible, humongous stink!  This book is sure to please young kids with its adorable illustrations and hilarious premise.  I can't wait to read it aloud at my next story time.  A Pet for Petunia is filled with childhood wonder and optimism, and is a joy to read.  Looking forward to more adventures with Petunia.


Dreams. No, goals!

  I've decided to put in writing some more concrete goals that I would love to accomplish this year, or maybe we'll just say soon, so that I can look at them daily, be reminded to work towards them, and put it out there for the universe to be aware of! Ok, here goes, mind you, some of these are pretty lofty, but I say why not?  As my Blanchet high school class of 2002 motto stated: "Shoot for the moon, even if you miss you'll land among the stars,"  cheesy and applicable!

* Win the SCBWI Barbara Karlin Work-In-Progress Grant for unpublished picture book writers
*Use that money to finally attend one of the SCBWI's international summer/ or winter conferences in LA/ NY
*Where I will sign with an agent
*Who will get my book published with a major, reputed publishing house 
*Who then attaches an illustrator whose work perfectly captures the vision of my book
*Get to stand up at the "Good News" portion of my local SCBWI Western WA meeting and announce that my picture book has come out and is ready for purchase, as I hold my very own book in my own two hands
*See my picture book on the local author's shelf at Mockingbird Books
*See my picture book on the shelves at Barnes & Noble 
*Receive starred Kirkus and Booklist reviews for my book
*Do book readings and signings in classrooms, libraries and book shops around the state, around the nation, around the world!!
*Publish my next book

Page Ahead

  Last Friday I did my monthly story time at the Jennie Reed Elementary School in Tacoma.  I am a Story Time Volunteer with Page Ahead, a children's literacy program based here in Seattle, whose motto is Giving Kids in Need the Chance to Read, how great is that?!  I love this program and I absolutely love doing story time.  My classrooms include Kindergarten and Head Start, which means that the kids are enthusiastic, excited, and definitely energized!  Our theme last week was dogs, so we read two or three picture books about dogs (i.e. Dogs by Emily Gravett, which the kids LOVED, its such a simple story with fantastic illustrations and the kids just ate it up), interspersed singing a few songs about dogs (i.e. Bingo, How much is that doggy in the window..), did some fingerplays and stretches to shake the sillies out, and ended with a craft (i.e. folding paper into the shape of a dog's head and coloring a face on it) and that's it!  The kids love this whole program so much, and their positive reaction, engagement and excitement for reading is just so uplifting to witness, I recommend getting out in your community and reading to kids any chance you get!  The benefits of instilling a lifelong love of reading in a child are immense, just look at Page Ahead's stats-
"Literacy can make the difference between the poverty of one generation and the promise of the next. Page Ahead helps children realize their potential by providing them with the inspiration to read.
Page Ahead operates on one simple and astounding fact: being read to as a youngster is the foremost predictor of academic success in childhood. If a child can read at grade level by 3rd grade, she will continue to read at grade level throughout her academic career. A child who succeeds in school will remain there, earning a chance at a better job and a better life in the years ahead. A child who lacks early exposure to reading often suffers from low self-esteem, struggles academically, and is at higher risk for substance abuse, teen pregnancy, and delinquency. Succeeding begins with reading."
Thankfully, since 1990 Page Ahead has worked to place 2 million! new books into the hands of 550,000 at-risk children through collaborations with schools, social service agencies, preschools, and early childhood centers across Washington State. 

If you want to learn more about Page Ahead's mission or you are interested in volunteering, please visit their website

Being read to as a child fosters boundless imagination and creativity, it opens up a world of unlimited possibilities, it creates better readers and future writers, it builds a bond between between parent and child that lets the child know just how much they are valued, appreciated and LOVED- and that is an amazing truth.  Read, read, read, it can truly change the world.
  I finally did see 127 Hours, and yes it was as viscerally uncomfortable as I had anticipated!  His hand is literally stuck between that rock and a hard place for so long, that eventually I was actually rooting for him to cut it off already!  Still, I was not prepared for how much it grossed me out! But then I am a pretty big baby when it comes to gory bodily details.  I thought it was a moving portrayal of a survivor's harrowing story (I was even moved to tears when he finally makes it out and finds people to help him. I mean, complete strangers came to his rescue, no questions asked, and it was just so reassuring to witness the generosity of the human spirit for once!)  But still, a best picture of the year? I'm not so convinced.  I thought The Ghost Writer was a better film- superbly acted, even Hitchcockian in its quietly thrilling tone.  If you haven't seen it, or even heard of it, check it out on dvd. Oooh, I also thought that The Girl with the Dragon Tatoo should have gotten some Oscar love.  Those Swedes did a fantastic job with the first of Steig Larson's incredibly engrossing Millenium Trilogy, and Noomi Rapace is beyond compare as Lisbeth Salander. 
  Ok, enough movie talk?

Yes, back to writing...