Archive | My Son RSS feed for this section

Life, Love, and LTYM Show – San Francisco

21 Mar

When my son was three, he was fascinated by all things siren-related. One night in the Mission District of San Francisco, an ambulance was parked outside the restaurant where we were eating.

13996285_s

No emergency, just hungry paramedics waiting for their “TO GO” order. 

When we left the restaurant, my son ran to the ambulance and peered inside the open sliding door. The next thing I knew, a paramedic was asking him if he’d like to see his heartbeat.

What! 

My son was too shy to agree, but I wasn’t. So the paramedic hooked me up to the heart rate monitor, and we all watched as a paper tape began unfurling from the machine.

13480432_s

“This is what your mama’s heartbeat looks like when she’s loving you,” the paramedic said.

I still have the copy of that printout, but it’s stored in a box of my son’s baby memorabilia in the garage. Maybe I should frame it with the paramedic’s words and give it to my son for his 18th birthday. 

But I digress….I want to tell you about last night.

Listen To Your Mother – First Rehearsal

In a political environment bent on emphasizing our differences, I’d like to ask: What do all moms have in common, other than being female? Maybe the question should be “What do we all have in common”?

It’s that person whose food, body, and oxygen we shared for the first nine months of our lives. The heartbeat that will forever reverberate in our subconscious.

14580445_s

MOM

2379760_s

MOM

2010297_s

MOM

1719415_s

MOM

34864376_s

MOM

As I listened to ten women share their diverse stories of motherhood and then added my own voice to the mix, I contemplated just how wide and deep this ocean of experience is. And while each story is unique, I found myself nodding, laughing, or crying in recognition. The emotional core was all that mattered.

The joy, pain, anger, loss, fear, laughter, and—love. The love that lives and simmers below the surface of all those other emotions.

For those of you who can’t join us at the Listen To Your Mother show in San Francisco on May 6, 2016, LTYM will post the video of our performance (along with 40 other shows from around the country) on their national website.  When those videos go up, you’ll be the first to know.

Last year, the show sold out two weeks in advance. So I’ll let locals know as soon as they go on sale. But if you live in a city that’s hosting a LTYM performance, by all means GO!

I promise, it will be an amazing night, a celebration of the beating heart, otherwise known as life.

9631672_s

 

 

 

Black Diamond Wisdom – Writers Take Note

24 Apr

Yesterday, at 10:59am PST, I despaired. Piles of research lay scattered about my desk, in my backpack, across the kitchen table. Papers I’d been shuttling around since last fall.

I was trying to finish a revision of a nonfiction picture book I’ve been writing since last September, but I felt scattered. And I couldn’t figure out how to end the story. The answer must be lying somewhere in those papers, but I had been avoiding organizing them for days, weeks. Dare I say—longer?

5478022_s

 

My testy ADD self thought it would take too much time to organize all that stuff, so I kept shuffling through papers, finding and losing and finding and losing and getting confused and starting over and losing and losing and forgetting what I was looking for because I’d gotten distracted with some other tidbit of info that may or may not have been important. And did I remember to mention I was in despair?

At 11:17am, I pressed the panic button:

Screen Shot 2015-04-24 at 6.38.44 PM

and let my despair pour out on a FaceBook nonfiction PB group page. Suggestions and encouragement began to flow downhill, because as you know—I was in the DEPTHS of DESPAIR.

WOW Nonfiction Archeologists pulled me from the mire and slapped me up one side and down the other. Gently. I was to stop fretting and start doing. Thank you for the tough love!

I made the historic decision to get organized. Three hours later, with folders labeled, quotes unearthed and highlighted, and background info reviewed, I had a revelation:

Brain Working at Lightning Speed

Brain Working at Lightning Speed

“Gee, that wasn’t so bad.”

Someone please kick me the next time I avoid organizing myself and my materials.

Not only did I find all the missing quotes, plus ones I hadn’t remembered to mark, I also went deeper into the sea of my story.

I had been fiddling with facts and had forgotten why I had started writing about my subjects in the first place. I reached the heart,

21927379_s

and I knew what needed to be done. Thank you WOW-ers!

But that’s not where the story ends.

Last night, my 11-yr-old son spent two hours moaning, flopping about, and moping while trying to avoid writing answers to homework essay questions. Oh, the hairy eyeballs, the pouting lips, the grumbling and growling that I endured.

28449900_s

No, this isn’t my son. Just his attitude.

 

“I can’t do it! It will take too long! It’s too hard!” (The genes don’t fall far from the tree, eh?)

Once he focused on his work, it only took him an hour. Problem is, he started his homework at 8pm. I insisted he stay up until 11pm to finish. Am I evil?

When I tucked him into bed, I asked him why he couldn’t just skip the moaning and growling and get on with it. His response:

4934406_s

“Mom, it’s the difference between standing on the upslope of a black diamond ski run and the downslope. When you’re standing up there looking down, you think there’s no way you’ll ever be able to do it. But when you’re at the bottom, you can look up and say it wasn’t so bad.”

Oh, be still my beating heart!

What are the odds we’ll both remember this tidbit of wisdom when we need to?

Illustrator Influence

17 Apr

My 11-yr-old son has discovered Russ Cox, a wonderful illustrator. You can see his work at Smiling Otis Studio. 

[Yes, Mike Allegra (HeyLookAWriterFellow), Otis was one of Russ’s cats. They’re everywhere! And BTW, a mouse snuck into our pantry and tore into the brown sugar, dried beans, and pancake mix. I’m thinking we’ve got a diabetic mouse on our hands. Otis, where are you? We need you! Seriously, we’ll be getting out the live-trapper to capture this critter and let him loose in a neighborhood park.]

Anyway, I digress. My son wasn’t consciously thinking about one of Russ’s drawings  when he drew this on a paper tablecloth at a restaurant last week:

IMG_3851

Organic meets inorganic

If you look at Russ’s black and white work, you may find something that looks a bit like this guy. 

Happy Illustrator Day! (just thought I’d make up a new holiday)

 

Halloween Cinderella?

30 Oct

Susanna Leonard Hill’s Halloweensie 100-word story writing competition (using the words pumpkin, broomstick, and creak) inspired me to produce the following piece of classic literature this week. It also inspired my son to create an illustration for the story. I hope you enjoy it. And if you don’t, well, I’ll sick the flying monkeys on you. Cheers!

IMG_3169

Halloween Cinderella?

 

One Halloween night, Witch searched her cottage for her broomstick.

“I’ll turn into a pumpkin if I don’t ride before midnight!” she cried.

The potion-packed pantry contained no broomstick.

 Clock chimed eleven.

 Witch searched closets, finding only skeletons.

 Five minutes till midnight! Beetle boogers!

 She tugged the attic door.

 Cr-eeeeeak!

 “I’m NOT coming out,” declared Broom.

 “I hear brooms burn!” threatened Witch.

 “Dare you!”

 She threw a ball of bats at Broom.

 Broom ducked.

 Witch struck a match, cackling “Fire!”

 Clock chimed midnight.

 Lightning zizzled! Flames flared, blazed and baked!

 “I smell cinnamon,” sniffed Broom. “Yum! Witch pumpkin pie.”

 

_______________________________________________________________

 IMG_3198

 

And just in case you haven’t had enough of pumpkins, several hundred showed up at the Hoes Down Harvest Festival in early October…

IMG_3183IMG_3178 IMG_3170IMG_3180 IMG_3176

Spätzle (Spaetzle) 911 — aka U.S. vs Germany, World Cup

25 Jun

In honor of tomorrow’s game, I’m reblogging a post from May 2012, a tribute to my German heritage.

 

When my son came out of his bedroom this morning wearing black sweatpants tucked into the tops of his yellow soccer socks and a red shirt to celebrate family heritage day at school, I knew I had to step up to the challenge—by making some German delicacy that kids and parents would not leave on their plates at the potluck.

I’ve come to hate potlucks. I have a busy life. I can’t spend all my time in the kitchen. But it goes against every moral fiber my mother sewed into me to show up at a potluck with food purchased from a store. I recall her dissing our relatives the first time they brought KFC  instead of home-fried chicken to a family reunion. “Hmmmm, would you look at that?” she said.

Until I saw my little German flag walking around our house, I was prepared to go empty handed except for the sugar cookies I’d promised to bring. But those cookies weren’t German, and that little flag was waving a saucy corner at me, a silent Teutonic reminder to “play by the rules” and “make an effort.” Continue reading

Night Hiking & Writing – Facing Your Fears

11 May

As part of my son’s school curriculum, the entire 4/5th grade classes (about 40 kids) went to farm school this past week in rural northern California, a place where you’re more likely to encounter a cow, sheep, or bobcat on the road than a vehicle. Hawks and turkey vultures circled overhead while hummingbirds buzzed about the honeysuckle and, occasionally, our heads.

Screen Shot 2014-05-11 at 12.04.54 PM

The place is called Oceansong, a wildlife preserve covering more than 350 acres on a ridge overlooking the Pacific Ocean. Kids, teachers, and parents camped, and when we left, we left no trace.

As part of the experience, the kids and adults went on a night hike, ending in a walk by themselves or with a friend in the dark without a flashlight. They were challenged to find their way back to the campsite without talking while their parents and teachers watched and provided emotional support from a hillside.

23078429_s

It’s a right of passage, a way of giving kids confidence in their ability to face the unknown despite their fears. Our son chose to walk alone down a path past a pond filled with chirping frogs. Adults went last, alone or in pairs, to gain a sense of their child’s experience.

I highly recommend this if you’ve never done it.

At the end of the week, midst the bustle of farm school clean-up, I realized that I had not yet heard if I’d been accepted for the 2014 Squaw Valley Writers Workshop. The deadline for response was May 10. Last year, I’d received my acceptance a couple of days before the deadline, so when I checked my email yesterday morning and there was still no note from Squaw, I started chewing my fingernails.

17600796_s

Not that I was looking forward to a delicious week of nothing but writing and writers, oh, and a little of that famous Tahoe scenery, too, I guess. Not that I was craving some alone time, some away-from-the-family time to listen to nothing but my thoughts. Today is Mother’s Day, after all, and shouldn’t I be feeling motherly?

Well, I can be motherly for only so long before I turn into mom-zilla.

5978876_blog

 

As a writer, I should be impervious to that familiar fear, the one that insists I am not good enough to be chosen. “Pick me! Pick me!” cries my inner child.

Well, I did get a note from Squaw yesterday at 3pm, saying that I was on the waiting list. Woohoo!

Now, like my son who’s counting the days until summer break from school, I’ve got three weeks before I know if I’ve made it off the list and into the sweet spot.

But if I’ve learned anything this past week, it’s that walking by myself through the dark is a solitary but not lonely experience. I’ve got a community who’s got my back should I feel overcome by self-doubt.

You guys are out there, right? Hello? Helloooooooooooooo? Did someone move the campsite?

22081726_s

 

 

 

 

Celebrate Dueling Doodlers!

8 Apr

 

My 10-yr-old son, the cat lover

vs.

Mike Allegra (HeyLookAWriterFellow), the rodent lover

 

Mike posted the “naughty kitten” doodle he drew (reluctantly) for my son, and in return, Mike received a tribute to furry creatures with front teeth that never stop growing.

 

Celebrate Mice!

Celebrate Mice! (Watch Your Tail!!)

My iPhone photo of a copy of the original turned the cheese a bit green, but I’m sure the mouse doesn’t care.

Mike is still waiting to tear into the chocolate I sent him for winning the What Do David Shannon and My Son Have in Common?  competition, because he gave up chocolate for Lent, poor guy.

Sniff, sniff, as the mouse says….Better check your cupboards, Mike, to make sure the chocolate hasn’t been nibbled away by those nefarious critters! (Or your son)

%d bloggers like this: