Can you ever forgive me? I've never been absent from my blog for SO LONG, and I am sorry. I have missed blogging, and I have especially missed you all. Thank you for the kind notes, and even the slightly sarcastic ones (no, I have not broken both hands-you're hilarious), because I know some of you have missed me, too.
Have you ever gotten out of the routine of something, and it is SO HARD to resume? It's like a corner of your house that becomes a wreck, which then attracts more mess, and you just close the door, so you don't have to think about it? It's SO overwhelming to approach something that you've been away from for a while.
When I write a manuscript, whether a novel or a short story, I finish my first draft, and then I put it in a drawer for 4-6 weeks. I don't read it or think about it or anything. I work on completely different projects, but inside, I'm DYING to go back to it. I keep thinking of all these new ways of approaching the old problems, ways to make it better, and I get more and more curious about how it reads all together. It's exciting, and I CAN'T WAIT.
Then, after I edit it, I put it in a drawer again. For 4-6 weeks. Only this time, I'm not so excited to go back to it. This time, editing=WORK. The major remaining edits are things I obviously couldn't figure out the FIRST time, or the things I should have changed, but didn't. Then, when I FINALLY go back to it, it is never as painful as I imagined, and it is always fun and exciting to see it all take shape.
SO here I am. Finally back on my blog. I have read so many FABULOUS books this summer that I don't even know where to start! Today, I am going to organize a way to approach all these awesome books. I think I may do a big YA book blog, a big MG book blog, etc. I will present the best and most exciting of the bunch. 3/4 of my kids are in school, and all of them will be in school on Monday, SOOOO...I'm ready to jump back in with both feet and make up for lost time. My next blog will debut a new blog routine that I hope will work for this year. Remember, I mark my years in 'school years' because that's how we roll in a house with four kids.
I read two AMAZING books this summer--both of them different than the kind of books I usually talk about, so I thought they'd be a good way to start off today. Soon, we will be knee-deep in children's lit, so let's just take a day to look at some titles on the 'other side' of the fence. While I rarely blog about books of this nature, I read a lot of parenting and books about education. I have a special interest in the adolescent and developmental research in this genre (as my graduate research told). I don't think I've ever read two such GREAT books in this field, especially back to back. Parents and educators, put your hands on BOTH of these books RIGHT AWAY. They are now required reading for anyone who cares about young people.
The first book I read is called NURTURE SHOCK: New Thinking About Children by Po Bronson &Ashley Merryman. Here's something you should know about me. I LOVE studies, especially longitudinal studies, so skip ahead if that bores you. This book has TONS of good and valuable information and despite all the studies, it is highly readable. The chapters covered the correct use of praise, sleep issues, race conversations, lying, early (way too early) competitive educational practices, siblings, teen rebellion, social issues, and language skills. The sleep chapter alone is worth buying the book, but I would strongly encourage reading the whole thing (even if you skip some of the disaggregation of stats). It will help you understand yourself as a parent and why some of your instincts about scheduling, overprogramming, and hyper-competitiveness are CORRECT, and you are right to resist some of these things for the sake of your child's growth and development. You will hear a lot about this book if you haven't already.
The second book, and the most amazing book I have read in this genre for years, is TEACH YOUR CHILDREN WELL: Parenting for Authentic Success by Madeline Levine, PhD. Not only have I read this book, but I have highlighted, marked pages, quoted it constantly, re-read and used it as my go-to decision-making guide all summer long (which has been full of hard decisions, by the way, including my oldest child going away to school for the first time). Dr. Levine not only points out potential problems in our culture's way of 'raising' young students, she gives tons of examples and frameworks for alternatives. Many books will tell you what's WRONG with things, but she really shows you how to do things differently. And most importantly, she clearly shows WHY. This book is about raising great adults---not just superstar kids, which is the current trend. Unfortunately, superstar kids do not always translate into high-functioning, problem-solving, confident adults. Our goal should be equipping our children for their joyful, confident, healthy adulthood, and if we lose sight of that, the risks are great. READ THIS BOOK. If you think it will make you feel bad about some things your kids deal with, it will, a little bit, but it will give you clear guidance for offsetting these things. I hope every parent in America reads this book, and together, we can shift the climate for our young people. For me? It shifted the climate of my own home. And DEFINITELY for the better. I cannot recommend this book strongly enough. Kudos to Dr. Levine (whose THE PRICE OF PRIVILEGE is also a classic and must-read for parents who worry that too much is, well, too much). TEACH YOUR CHILDREN WELL is a truly interesting read, the kind of can't-put-down appeal that usually applies only to fiction. (In my world, anyway)
So...as you can see, I've spent my summer as a neurotic parents. Two of my four children are attending a new school this year. One of my four children is away at school for the first time. I have two high schoolers, one middle schoolers, and one upper elementary school student, so we are smack dab in the middle of these issues. I can't tell you what a blessing these books have been for me. They've been like a sedative in the middle of all the crazy pressure of high school academics and college preparation.
I will soon announce a new blog schedule (doot doo doo! the trumpet sounds). I hope you will enjoy a bit more structure in this neck of the woods.
And, because of so much demand over the past few months, I know it's been a LONG TIME, but I will close with some
Redneck Parenting Tips:
1. Secretly hide a $20 in each of your kids' bookbags. When they call in tears that they've lost their lunch, forgotten money for field trip, tennis t-shirt, etc., tell them where to find it.
2. Also secretly hide $20 in your house somewhere, so if your teen is home alone and gets invited to a movie or something (and they're not old enough to go to the bank alone or it is the week-end), you have the goods.
3. We have learned that the only thing anyone ever looks for in the morning is socks, so we ask the kids to lay out their socks the night before. Sounds silly, but you'd be surprised how much time it saves.
4. We have math computer games (multiplication tables, fractions, etc.) tied to television time. For ex, 15 minutes of Algebring It On = 15 minutes of a television show or movie.
5. When you are driving a carpool, say little or nothing. Not just because you might embarrass your kid ( ha ha), but because when you are quiet, the kids really do forget you are there, and you learn a LOT if you listen.
6. Put older kids in charge of aspects of younger kids' learning. When your 6th grader helps your 3rd grader with multiplication tables, it reinforces his knowledge, as well, and builds his confidence. Remember, teaching is the highest form of learning. You don't OWN the information until you have taught it to someone else.
7. Love 'em up. Don't forget to be grateful for every minute with your sweet kiddos.
Now have a terrific day!
My Mission Statement
I write to serve, to unite, to educate. I write to share literature and flesh out ideas that may be of interest to others. I write to document an emotion, experience, or a blip in time. My mission is to write in such a way that the reader is reminded that we can find humor in all situations. It's one of the great blessings of life.