The Sacred Gift of Childbirth

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As you might glean from today’s title, this blog post is about an amazing new book written by Marie-Ange Bigelow, MT, ADVCD, who is a certified birthing doula and has assisted many new mothers in bringing their babies into this world. Her book is written with the LDS audience in mind but really, just about anyone can benefit from her knowledge and experience.

The most refreshing part of this book, for me, is the perspective that Marie-Ange gives on the very act of childbirth being a very spiritual experience because it enables a woman to feel more closely to what the Savior feels for us. She also explains how a woman’s body is designed to release certain endorphins throughout the process to help her bond more fully with her baby, especially if the baby’s birth is “natural.” I love how the author further explains the benefits of a natural birth while at the same time helping expectant mothers to accept that it’s okay if their bodies are unable to deliver their infants in this way or if they need medical intervention (she goes on to explain the difference between an expectant mother needing medical intervention as opposed to wanting it or doctors wanting their patients to use them.)

For my review purposes here, I will say a few things about my own birthing experiences while trying to keep them modest. I am a heart patient. Although I was never a candidate for a completely natural birth because of the medication I have to be on, I’ve personally experienced a birth that was as natural as possible otherwise (not my firstborn), induction with Pitocin, two epidurals, no Cesarians but an almost-Cesarian which thankfully was prevented by a neat trick that my OB doctor decided to try at the very last minute after the nurses had begun prepping my husband for the C-section (and that’s about the most description I’m giving on this very public forum concerning that birth! Lol) so even though my family is complete, I still found this book to be extremely insightful and informational for women in general. I also appreciated the fact that the author didn’t bombard the reader with a bunch of statistics but rather interspersed them to provide more clarification to her premise. Childbirth is a very special gift. We are allowed a glimpse of eternity in that sacred moment when our eyes behold the face of the tiny person we’ve been carrying inside of us for the past nine months.

I wish that every expectant mother could read this book! Two chapters in particular caught my eye: one on post partum depression which provides strategies to deal with it in a spiritual way in addition to the medical ways that most other books list and another chapter dedicated to the husband/father-to-be that lists real, integral ways that he can be a support to his wife before and after the birth. I have to add as a side note that one of my hubby’s tendencies when we were in the hospital was to watch the monitor and mentally prepare me for the next oncoming contraction. He was funny in his commentary, almost like we were watching a football game on TV and he was doing the play-by-play (because monitors show the contraction before the pain actually hits, I guess he thought it was helpful.) But you know, having my husband there for me was exactly what I needed. I hold many special memories of those times of being together in the hospital in my heart and I hope that every expectant mother can have a special person with her who provides that kind of love and support through the delivery of her child.

So even if you, like me, are already finished having your babies, I would like to encourage you to keep a copy of this book handy for the women in your life: daughters, nieces, visiting teachers, etc. It’s a terrific guide to one of the most special gifts and responsibilities that Heavenly Father has given us: that of being a mother in Israel.

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About the author:

Marie-Ange Bigelow’s fascination with childbirth began when she was a teenager taking voice lessons. Her voice teacher had just given birth and compared delivering her child to singing a high note and holding it for a long time. Over the next decade Marie found a way to combine her love of music and her interest in childbirth as she graduated magna cum laude with a bachelor’s degree in Music Therapy, and then went on to specialize in Music Therapy Assisted Childbirth. Marie also became a certified doula and childbirth educator, and was recently awarded the prestigious Advanced Doula Designation. Marie has not only helped couples prepare for birth through her popular childbirth classes, but has supported hundreds of parents during the births of their children in hospitals, birth centers, and homes.

Marie is passionate about childbirth and positive outcomes for mothers and infants. It was this passion, along with her belief that women should be empowered by knowledge and gospel truths, that led her to write The Sacred Gift of Childbirth: Making Empowered Choices for You and Your Baby.

Along with her own childbirth-centered blog, Marie’s work has been featured in International Doula and on popular websites such as TheMommyMethod.education.com, SheKnows.com, and Parents.com. Marie and her husband, Todd, are enjoying raising their four beautiful children in Boise, Idaho. As a family they enjoy biking, traveling, music, and movie nights.

To read more about Marie, visit www.mariebigelow.com.

You can purchase Marie’s book on Amazon: Sacred Gift of Childbirth

On the Edge

Hello again! Today I’m featuring YouTube sensation Stuart Edge’s new book, On the Edge, which was an eye-opening read for me, as you might be able to tell from the cover.

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About the book:

Everyone has had that one awful job, but Stuart Edge really had an awful job–cleaning porta-potties. As he cleaned, he dreamed of creating videos that not only made people laugh but also changed their lives. Now a YouTube sensation, Stuart shares his secrets to his YouTube success and reveals his conversion from self-conscious to confident and how being true to his beliefs made all the difference.

About the author:

Stuart Edge was earning money for college tuition by cleaning portable toilets when inspiration hit: “Make YouTube Videos That Make People Happy.” Only months later, he called his mother in a panic. “Please pray for me. I think one of my videos just went viral.” The Mistletoe Kissing Prank did indeed go viral, netting more than 27 million views to date. Several viral videos later, Stuart Edge has found fame, and possibly fortune, making people laugh. Not bad for a boy with social anxiety.

My review:

This is a must read for teenagers, parents of teenagers, and just about anyone else who feels stuck in their current situation, whether it be personal or professional. I loved how Stuart described his growing up years because that is an especially difficult time for most people. He really offers some great advice on how to cope with anxiety and feelings of not quite fitting in. He also shows a strong work ethic that paid off for him later in life. I wanted my own children to read his story so I even bought a second copy of On the Edge for them to read as well.

For me personally, I had actually never heard of Stuart Edge before I signed up for this blog tour. (But please understand that I don’t watch TV or videos much – I had never heard of Lindsay Stirling until a year and a half ago, either.) The initial reason I participated in this blog tour was that I was intrigued at how a guy cleaning porta-potties for a living could go from doing that to producing viral videos almost overnight. It’s a great read, to be sure, but what really impressed me about Stuart’s story was when he hit a professional low even after his incredible success and had to rethink the way that he was doing things. As an author trying to create entertaining stories with meaning, I’ve received my fair share of criticism from critics (whether well-meaning or otherwise) and recognized the truth in what he was saying about the role they play in ensuring that our intentions in sharing our talents with others are sincere.

You can purchase your own copy at Amazon: On the Edge

Barnes & Noble: On the Edge

Deseret Book: On the Edge

Time Out For Women

Last month, I had the opportunity to attend Time Out For Women in Tucson, Arizona with one of my closest friends, Leora. We grew up together and were, in fact, mistaken for twins at one time or another usually by opposing doubles trams in tennis during high school. Not that we looked much alike but our names were very similar. Anyway, Leora attends TOFW regularly but I had never been. This year, I didn’t want to miss out. My wonderful hubby took care of the kids overnight so that I could enjoy both sessions.

Friday night featured recording artist was Hilary Weeks, whose music I love. Her songs were beautiful as always. Sister Elaine S. Dalton, former General Young Women President, spoke and Michael McLean was the closing speaker. His heartfelt and tearful testimony was amazingly sweet and simple yet profound.

Saturday featured more special authors/speakers and musicians, including Mercy River, Emily Belle Freeman, Alissa Parker, and Timothy Ballard. What an incredible spiritual bucket-filling experience this was! I’m so glad I went. I definitely want to go again next year. If you’ve never been to Time Out For Women, I encourage you to try it out. I promise that you won’t be disappointed!

Motherhood Matters & Life is Too Short Blog Tour

 

imageToday I’m featuring two books by Connie Sokol, author, radio host, and mom extraordinaire. I have to admit that when I started reading Life is Too Short, my first thought was, “I’m not this kind of mom. I’ve never been the super organized, ultra achieving, fast-paced mom that I’m surrounded by. I don’t even like to exercise!” But really, Ms. Sokol’s message to slow down and take time for yourself applies to us all. Because even though I’m none of the above-mentioned entities, I still find myself running in circles at times with the responsibility of caring for six children. The past year has been an especially difficult year for me health wise, so I’ve really had to take this advice to heart and do what was best for me. I was intrigued by Ms. Sokol’s idea of creating what she calls a Life Board, a visual reminder of the things you want to achieve in your life or places you’d like to visit. She provides steps to then make them happen.

Motherhood Matters, I felt, is a terrific addition to this collection. In this book, Ms. Sokol has included sage parenting advice from many LDS Church leaders, including President Gordon B. Hinckley, Sister Julie B. Beck, Elder Bruce R. McConkie, and many more. She has also sprinkled some timely and powerful examples from her own life of enjoying the ride of motherhood and not getting bogged down by all the daily struggles. I personally identified with her description of her son’s struggles with Asperger’s syndrome as well as her essays titled, “Nothing is Wasted” and “When to Be at the Top of Your Game.”

Enter for a chance to win a $25 Amazon gift card here:
http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/bd36101946/

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About the Author: Connie Sokol is a mother of seven, a national and local presenter, and a regular speaker at Education Week. She is a contributor on KSL TV’s top-rated afternoon show “Studio 5” and is a regular blogger for KSL’s “Motherhood Matters.” She is a former columnist for Deseret News and Utah Valley Magazine, and former TV and radio host. Mrs. Sokol is the author of the Life is Too Short for One Hair Color Trilogy, Create a Powerful Life Plan, Motherhood Matters, and the award-nominated romance, Caribbean Crossroads. Mrs. Sokol marinates in time spent with her family and eating decadent treats.

Where to buy these books:
Motherhood Matters

Life Is Too Short Collection

Blog tour schedule:
April 18: Lisa Is A Bookworm
April 19: Laura L. Walker
April 20: Peggy Urry
Rachelle Christensen
April 21: Min Reads and Reviews
April 22: Cathy Jeppsen
Sydney Anderson

Ladies Night Out at Deseret Book

You may have heard of Ladies Night, a semi-annual event that is held at Deseret bookstores throughout the U.S. on Saturday evening of the LDS church’s General Conference during the Priesthood session. Last Saturday, April 2, 2016, I was privileged to participate in this wonderful event. This is actually the first book signing I’ve had at a Deseret bookstore. They are extremely choosy with authors, so this was a great honor for me. The book signing took place at the Deseret Bookstore in Mesa, Arizona, which is located just down the street from the Mesa Temple. Patty, the assistant manager, was very gracious and her entire staff was amazingly kind and helpful. Several women took advantage of this opportunity to come into the store and find bargains not limited to books. The place was hopping all night with shoppers and giveaways galore. I was pleased to sign several copies of The Matchup and, quite unexpectedly, meet Alec Marie in person, one of the bloggers who reviewed The Matchup during my blog tour. Alec Marie is an amazing young woman who has received her mission call to Alabama. I spoke with her mother for a few minutes. She is very proud of her daughter, who takes every opportunity to share the gospel with others. I want to be more like her!

Thanks again to the management and staff at Deseret Bookstore in Mesa for a fun, engaging evening!

And if you ever in that area and are wanting a good book to read, stop in and browse their shelves. You won’t be disappointed!

Book reviewer Alec Marie and myself at Deseret Bookstore in Mesa during Ladies Night.

Book reviewer Alec Marie and myself at Deseret Bookstore in Mesa during Ladies Night.

 

We tried to do silly faces but we just look...silly. ;)

We tried to do silly faces but we just look…silly. ;)

 

Pioneer Trek

During my 15-year-old son’s Spring Break, the youth in our LDS stake participated in a 3-day trek across rugged terrain, simulating the rough experience early members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints had while crossing the plains to the American West over the Rocky Mountains, mostly on foot, in the mid 19th century.

As we prepared for this trek in purchasing the clothing and camping items he needed, anticipation ran through my veins at what this experience would mean for my son. He’s the oldest in our family and being in that awkward teenage stage, doesn’t always get along with his younger brothers and sisters. I was hoping that by the end of Trek, he would come home a softer and more humble person.

But life, just like fiction, always has twists and turns. The week of Spring Break caught us off guard as first, my dad who suffered a small stroke about three years ago fell and cracked his ribs and second, my son came down with Influenza A right before he was supposed to leave on Trek. So the first part of the week was spent with family members who came from out of town as we tried to make my dad comfortable and the middle of the week spurred on a frenzy of doctor visits (my husband, Rob, was still sick with something, though we could not determine what-the doctor called it strep throat and prescribed another antibiotic) in a frantic attempt to get my men well enough to join the Trek participants by Friday, the second day, of the expedition. Rob had been asked to join them on that day for the watermelon seed spitting contest. We got our son on Tamiflu just in time for him to head up there with his dad on Friday. I wasn’t sure if he would stay or come home that day with Rob.

He stayed.

And as soon as Rob pulled into the driveway, I had to leave for a 2-hour trip that turned into three hours due to road construction for a writers meeting. Life isn’t usually this crazy for us, but sometimes everything comes to a head at once.

I have to say that even though Trek didn’t work out for my son the way I thought it would, I’m extremely proud of him for “enduring to the end.” After all, that’s part of what leaders of our church hope to accomplish by sending these young men and women out in the wild with a “ma” and “pa”. They learn how to help each other and do hard things. At one point, a few members of the company were feeling exuberant about almost “reaching Zion” when they turned a corner and were stung by a hive of bees. Their way was not easy but they stuck it out. I’m sure this is an experience they will never forget.

As a side note, my great-grandfather, Peter Howard McBride, walked across the plains when he was only four years old. What? you might ask. How can there be only four generations between present day and the 1850s in my family? My grandmother was the younger daughter of a plural wife. She had 13 children, the youngest of whom are my dad and his twin. I am the youngest daughter of my parents. So yes, only four generations span that great event of the pioneer movement in our family. Also, Peter’s father, Robert, died in present-day Wyoming on this same trek. His name was the one my son decided to take with him on Trek. I’m in awe of and very grateful for the tremendous sacrifices my ancestors gave my leaving their mother countries and traversing continents for the truthfulness of the Gospel.

Before Trek - still feeling a bit weak from the effects of the flu

Before Trek – still feeling a bit weak from the effects of the flu

After picture - he said it was harder to walk at times than to push the handcart, which broke down along the way. This was an experience he'll never forget.

After picture – he said it was harder to walk at times than to push the handcart, which broke down along the way. This was an experience he’ll never forget.

See Me For Me by Teya Peck Guest Post

Today I’m interviewing Teya Peck, author of See Me For Me, which she published earlier this year. This is a story of love and forgiveness, kindness and second chances, and acceptance of others.

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One wrong step changes Jocelyn’s Prima Ballerina’s life forever…A single choice results in Jeremiah facing unbearable consequences…When these two meet, it could be catastrophic or the answer to unspoken prayers. Can love be tested too far? Will hearts soften and hurts be forgiven? Or will too much loss be too devastating to find hope? One thing is for sure, lives are about to change forever…

Who or what was your inspiration for Jocelyn’s character?

Half the story in this book I had, but I struggled with the other story. It needed conflict and, well, something. I picked up my girls from ballet that afternoon. I stood downstairs in the waiting room and heard one of the mother’s name spoken. The name was Joselyn. The whole story slammed me. I saw her eyes and the whole book unfolded out in front of me. I ran back out to my car and wrote down a rough outline. When she walked out, I asked her if I could use her name, just changing one letter and her eyes. She agreed and I snapped a picture. The cover illustration uses her and another girl’s eyes. The inspiration was the environment and simply hearing a name.

How long did it take you to write See Me For Me?

It didn’t take me long to write See Me for Me at all. In fact I had a hard time stopping when I had to. I researched for months: ballet, positions, watched my daughters, and YouTube clips. I studied spine injuries, I wrote to the spine center, I think, in Colorado. (It’s been a while, I have it in my notes.) That part took a while and I reviewed each part with a ballerina instructor. The writing of the story only took a couple weeks to a month, if that. Sometimes when you write a line or something comes to you, you know it’s going somewhere. This was that book.

Jeremiah’s younger sister, Emily, whose story is both tragic and hopeful, was the catalyst for him meeting Jocelyn. How does her cheerful attitude help to assuage his guilt over what happened to her?

WOW! Deep question! I think it’s because they had a knowledge that gave her hope. That knowledge helped to ease Jeremiah’s guilt. I think the cheerful attitude she had lifted everyone, not just her brother. When someone smiles or laughs, it’s contagious. No matter how down you are or try not to, you end up joining in. I feel she was meant to be his sister for that exact reason. People are put in our paths for reasons unknown to us. Emily was there for him and exactly what he needed for his growing faith.

This book has a religious theme and is, in fact, based around the beliefs of the LDS faith. How were you able to find the balance between presenting your values without being too preachy?

Because that’s who I am. That’s how I share with people: kindness, love, and friendship. Who likes to be preached to, really? Certainly not my own children and not myself. I’m quite down to earth without being in the trap of earth. I have many friends not of my faith, and that’s okay. They are amazing and I wouldn’t trade them for anything. There are people who live my faith better than those of my faith, sad to say but true. We can’t judge anyone, we are not meant to judge. True, we do have the gift of discernment, but not judging. We all need a loving heart, no matter who is placed in our path. I feel that taking who I am with the knowledge I have in relationship to who I know helped me write it the way I did. It wasn’t meant to go that direction, and it shocked me when it did but I love it just the way it is.

See Me For Me addresses the theme of love and acceptance of others who are physically or emotionally challenged. Why is this so important to you as an author?

WOW! Again, deep questions but perfect. I hope I don’t cry trying to share this. First off, my dad was in a wheelchair from 1986-2006 when he passed away of complications to cancer. That’s more than three quarters of my own life. We had callouses on our feet due to his wheels running over them. Funny, I miss it now. I remember when I was young and excited to go to the local fair. I loved watching everything. Someone came up, lifted my dad’s wheelchair up and shoved him out of the way. He mumbled something about cripples always being in the way. I ran up and kicked him in the shin and said, “Don’t hurt my daddy.” My parents had to grab me and hold me back. I defend handicap places, a handicap Nazi is what my family called me.

Then it filtered into my own children. My son does not have a physical showing like Downs Syndrome, but he has A.D.H.D. (attention deficit disorder), O.D.D. (oppositional defiant disorder), Autism (Asperger’s), S.P.D. (Sensory processing disorder), and some depression, (go figure). I was told several times that I should teach my child how to behave, be a better mother. I would sit in the middle of my living room with my head in my hands crying because I wasn’t sure what was going on with my child. Now that I know what my son has, I learned about medication, I studied S.P.D. I have a library on these disorders and now I have the courage to stand up straight and say: “You know what? Heavenly Father entrusted me with this and these children, I’m the best mother and the only mother these children have. Thank you!” Needless to say, no one says those things to me anymore. There are other challenges unseen, and we never know what people are going through.

Is this subject of loving and acceptance of others with physical and emotional challenges near and dear to my heart? ABSOLUTELY! I feel everyone needs a chance, everyone needs a smile, and every single person can become who they were meant to be. They just have to see it for themselves as well. Okay, this subject is a passion, if you couldn’t tell, onto the next question…

Jocelyn’s parents ultimately disowned her after she became worthless in their eyes. Fortunately for her, Jeremiah’s family welcomed her into their lives and home with open arms. Do you feel that this is a fairy tale ending or does this sort of situation occur in real life? Can you provide a few examples?

I think it’s both. It could be a fairy tale thing, however, I guarantee it happens all the time in real life. People all over the world make choices and have to leave all they know, including family to follow what they know is right. I have a couple of friends and several acquaintances that found homes within the members [of the LDS church] because they chose the gospel path and their families threw them out. Other situations could be included within this assessment, but I will not elaborate.

How many books have you written and what are their titles? Can you give us a glimpse into your next project?

Published: I have seven, which are: Within Qwestar, Stripes, It’s My Pie Too!, Salvage Yard Troubles, Treasures of Truth: Volume One, Out of the Mists of Darkness, and of course, See Me For Me.

Qwestar (the next generation to Within Qwestar), and Death by the Slice are both with beta readers as we speak.
I have a fantasy trilogy I am working on currently as well as two others (which do not have titles).

Here are a few glimpses into a couple:
Death by the Slice:

“Leola it’s time, time to find out who you are and where you came from. I cannot teach you anymore than you already know.”

“No. I won’t leave the only father I’ve ever known.”

“Child, once I go, you will have nothing left in this land.”

“It’s my home, the only home I’ve known.”

Sense nodded his head, kneeling at the candle-lit prayer wall, his hands pressed in prayer, elbow out. “True, but you are so much more than the martial arts training I taught you. It’s the only way I’ve known how to fader you. You need to go home to America were you belong.”

Leola stood, shocked at the knife in her chest those words brought. “Fine, I’ll go.”

“I have a job lined up for you, the information is on the suite-case on your bed.”

She felt her eyebrows crunch, so he had this planned. “Good bye then,” and she turned and left the room. She thought she heard a whisper, faint, she shook her head and left.

“Good bye, my only child. I love you,” he whispered softly on the air.

I would give you part of Qwestar but where it’s a next generation, it’s hard to pick. I’m still in the editing and refining process of these and the rest of the above mentioned manuscripts.

The fantasy trilogy is about a girl who is adopted and discovers her mother is a siren, father is a descendent of Ulysses crew that made the Ulysses pact. She has to save both, having never met either of them. She finds out she’s betrothed to one man and falling in love with another man, neither of which are completely human. Finding out about the world she lives in is not what she thought it was, plus having to deal with abilities she doesn’t know she has.

As a busy wife and mother, how do you squeeze writing time into your day?

I wish I could say my home is spotless, my kids are perfect angels, and blah, blah, blah. NO, soooo not true. I wake up at 5:15 a.m., say my prayers, read scriptures, put a focus blend on and write. At 6:45 Monday-Friday, I get my kids out of bed and ready for school. During the morning when no one is home, I write–or clean–but I’d rather write. My house, most of the time, goes unnoticed by me. Sad, I know, but it’s the truth. I either have to keep it clean or throw my hands in the air. I call it my organized mess, which is funny because before I had kids, everything was in its place and alphabetized. Now, well, my blue-rays are in alphabetical order and no one touches them. The kids have their chores. Sometimes they do them, sometimes they don’t. What I’m trying to say is that I’m NORMAL! Except the 5:15 wake up time, of course, but I love that time. It’s mine, and I write as much as I can. I do my best not to ignore the kids and keep the house clean, but frankly, I’m not perfect, fortunately, because then I would not be able to share my stories.

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See Me For Me is available for purchase at this Amazon link for See Me For Me. But your copy today!

2016 ANWA Writers Workshop

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Last Saturday, I had the opportunity to attend a workshop for writers sponsored by ANWA, which stands for American Night Writers Association, of which I am a member. The workshop was held in Mesa, Arizona. I traveled with another member of my local ANWA group. We both attended classes that focused on self-publishing. I learned so much from this workshop and even though I don’t feel quite ready to take such a major step in my writing career, I went with the idea of tucking this information away for later use should I ever need it.

One of the best things about this workshop was the fact that I was able to connect with other writers whom I know on Facebook but have never met in person. It was wonderful to visit with them and discuss our writing projects in greater detail. Here is a picture of Stephanie Abney and myself. I’ve mentioned Stephanie on my blog before. She hosts a poetry challenge on her blog every April. Stephanie also recently completed a two-week teaching tour in China and is blogging about her experiences while there.

Stephanie Abney and myself at the 2016 ANWA Writers Workshop in Mesa, AZ on February 27.

Stephanie Abney and myself at the 2016 ANWA Writers Workshop in Mesa, AZ on February 27.

I really enjoy belonging to ANWA. As a member, I converse with many LDS writers daily and benefit from their insights and experiences. I have recently read some very good books written by ANWA members and would like to conduct a few interviews in the near future. Keep a lookout for those!

Laura

Evening Walks

I like to take walks in the evenings. It gives me a chance to get outside and clear my head. And here in Arizona, timing is crucial because the heat of the day fades away and the cooler air is so refreshing. The downside to this is that my evening walks often occur during dinner prep time. I have a terrific husband who loves to cook, so he doesn’t mind finishing dinner once I’ve started it. Or he often improvises, which makes for some really interesting but delicious dinners!

Anyway, I thought I’d share a few pictures from my neck of the woods. I live in the Gila Valley, which is a little farming community nestled in between two mountain ranges that make up the tail end of the Rockies.

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A closer view of the perfect blend between farmland and mountain ranges.

A closer view of the perfect blend between farmland and mountain ranges.

This was a blind shot since I was snapping directly in line with the sun. Not too shabby.

This was a blind shot since I was snapping directly in line with the sun. Not too shabby.

Dusk settles.

Dusk settles.

Pecan tree swaying in the breeze.

Pecan tree swaying in the breeze.

Palm trees

Palm trees

What do you do to relax and clear your mind? Whatever it is, I hope you take some time each day to recharge. It’s important to take time out for yourself.

My First Classroom Visit As A Published Author

I’ve been in a classroom many times–obviously as a student, then as a student teacher, a substitute teacher, and a parent. (Oddly enough, I’ve never been in a classroom as the home room teacher because I became a mom one short year after I obtained my teaching certificate and decided that home was where I wanted to be be.)

But today, I stepped into my daughter’s fourth grade classroom as a published author. I felt honored to be asked to teach the students about the writing process. The kids were attentive and asked terrific questions. They enthusiastically took my writing assignment to heart, working in small groups to brainstorm ideas for a short story afterward.

At one point, I was able to read two excerpts from The Matchup, which were the two magic shows that took place in the story. The first magic show that Gage and Valerie attended on their pivotal date was actually one of the hardest pieces of writing I did for the entire story. I explained to the fourth-grade students that when my editor wanted me to expand on the magic show in this important scene in which Gage proposes marriage to Valerie, I panicked. I knew nothing about the art of magic. I researched very carefully and asked my friends who’d seen magic shows in person about their impressions. Still, I didn’t know what to write. A little more digging on the subject finally helped me better understand the art of magic and the tricks behind the show. The four descriptive paragraphs that made it into The Matchup from Valerie’s point of view were my puny attempt at writing as if I was there watching the show.

The second magic show that took place in The Matchup was inspired by my desire to show Gage and Valerie’s children melding into a new family. Whitney, whose defensiveness stemmed from always feeling like she didn’t quite fit in, needed to be shown that she was loved by someone other than her own parents. I felt that Tamera filled that role quite well. The fourth graders loved hearing my reading of that scene. I asked my daughter (who declined to have her picture taken) to help me demonstrate the toothpick magic trick as I read it to the class. The kids got a kick out of that.

It was so fun to be in a school classroom once again where awesome learning takes place. My daughter has a wonderful teacher. She’s struggling with math this year and we are supplementing the curriculum at home. She’s a lot like me. Language and writing come easy to her but math and science, not so much. I think she enjoyed today’s adventure as much as I did. For me, it’s something that I’ll never forget!