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Girls on the run is about more than running

There is a lot on the news about girl bullying and meanness and it’s very sad because many girls commit suicide as a result.  When I hear about this stuff, I don’t just want to sit around and talk about it — I want to get up and make a difference in girls’ lives.  I think back to my six years as a Girl Scout Leader, which I only stopped when my daughter quit two years ago. Our troop started out small and grew much larger through the years;  I feel blessed that I had the opportunity to watch these girls grow up.  GS is an amazing organization that helps girls try new things and grow in a safe environment. Even as an adult, I tried new things such as high ropes and the zip line. I hope that I made a difference in their lives. I know they made a difference in mine.

This year, I’m a co-coach for Girls on the Run, which is through the YMCA.  It’s about making healthy choices in their lives, both physically and mentally.  I highly recommend it for young girls (3rd – 8th grades) because it teaches them to feel strong in the inside so they can stand up for themselves to bullies or peer pressure.  This is so important to learn before they go to middle school – where the angst of puberty heightens feelings for fitting in and what your friends say is more important than what your mom says.  My thinking is that a girl who is secure about herself will have a better chance when she’s thrown in with the sharks in middle school.

If you have a daughter – don’t walk, RUN to to the nearest YMCA and find out how you can register your daughter for Girls on the Run for the fall session. Or, you can become a volunteer or make a donation.  Seriously,  it makes a huge impact on girls!

So far, we’ve only had two meetings and the girls are super and keep me laughing the whole time with their unique personalities.

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Posted by on April 18, 2010 in kids, Teaching, teenagers

 

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Update on editing manuscript

Editing is almost finished on my first manuscript! Whew!  I look back  and it probably took me just as long to edit it as it did to write it.  In all fairness, though, I did take some time away from it to have a fresh look at it.  (This works, by the way!)

I know every writer has his/her own method for editing and there may be some fast rules on it — that’s all great & nothing wrong with it.  Other than the usual editing grammar, etc., this is how I went about it:

*I started an informal critique group of family & friends — since several of them do not live locally, it was mostly individually and via email/phone calls. I found that some of my best critiques came from educators (media specialist, learning interventionist).  They have a grasp of what kids read and were very good about telling me when I was off mark.  Every critique was helpful and appreciated.  It was also great to have readers with a wide range of backgrounds,  since it’s a multicultural book.

*I printed out several manuscripts in “booklet” form with a feedback sheet and a wonderful 5th grade teacher passed them to some of her students.  It was anonymous so I could get honest feedback.  This was the best! I loved reading their (mostly) great comments and each one encouraged me to publish it because “this book was awesome!”  I highly recommend this if you have a willing teacher.  In fact, I may do this again once my final editing is completed.

*I paid an excellent professional editor and it was worth every cent.  She was thorough and great about providing explanations for certain suggestions.

In the beginning of my editing process, I attempted to join/form a writer’s critique group, but not enough people showed up.  Later, when I was invited to an existing local group, I had schedule conflicts.  Honestly, I didn’t pursue this avenue too much, but I’ve heard of wonderful writer’s critique groups and may still join one for the fun of it.  I love learning from other writers – a great bunch!

Now that I’m this close to being agent-ready, I’m super excited about the possibilities!

~~Maggie

 
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Posted by on March 23, 2010 in Family, Uncategorized, Writing

 

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Funny incident in Japan between five year old and American traveler….

A certain “someone”  (suffice it to say he’s a  smart, six foot tall, handsome man) went to Japan recently and encountered a bright five year old Japanese boy at a train station.  This is what happened:

As handsome man stood in front of a very complex train ticket machine, for what  felt like hours (he was feeling flu-like symptoms to begin with), the little boy and his mother stopped by.

The little boy looked up and, in perfect and clear English, said “Sir, do you need help?”

The man looked down at the little tyke and mumbled, “Yes.”   He didn’t really expect any help from the little guy, but he was impressed at his language skills.

The little boy pointed at the train ticket machine and said, “Sir, maybe it would help if you pushed the “English” button.”

True story.

 
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Posted by on February 25, 2010 in Funny, kids

 

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A-hem…

As I’ve said here before — I LOVE working with kids.  They keep me in stitches and what makes them even more hilarious is that they’re not even trying to be funny.  Just today, in Kindergarten, one little girl cracked me up and I thought I’d share.

The teacher was in the process of calling small groups of students to choose their centers.  In order to avoid a stampede at the white erase board, she gives each group a chance to get up from the carpet, line up and make their selections by placing their Popsicle sticks; then she calls the next group.  While she was doing this, she and I briefly discussed a concern we had over a student who had been absent for several weeks.

At this point, only one group was left.  All of the sudden, one bright-eyed and anxious  little girl, who was sitting on the carpet, clears her throat and  says “A-hem” – exactly like an adult would, to get someone’s attention.  TOO FUNNY!

 
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Posted by on January 23, 2010 in Funny, kids, Teaching

 

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The “I” generation

Kids and teenagers these days rely on technology for so much.  They’re always on the internet, iPod, iTouch, etc.  — the “I” generation!

Doing your homework and forgot the name of a character in The Odyssey?

My generation: get the book and look it up by thumbing through to where you think you saw it; “I” generation: google it.

Don’t understand a geometry problem?  My generation: go to the back of the book and hope there are answers to the odd questions which can shed light on your problem or ask a friend; “I” generation: google it.

Want to listen to a favorite song when you’re in the car?  My generation: hope it’s on the radio; reach for the iPod or iTouch.

Want to know the lyrics to a favorite song?  My generation: record it on your cassette player and replay it a thousand times until you get it;  “I” generation: you guessed it – google it.

All this technology makes it easier for kids – esp. homework – but is it better?  How do they become creative or good problem solvers if all they have to do is google it?  Also – how do they know the information on the internet is correct? Are ear buds (blasting loud music) that great for their hearing?  Does anyone else worry about this?

I love technology and rely on too, but I’m glad I was born before all of it took over our way of doing things.

Now, my generation says, “When I was your age, I had to actually open a book to find that out.”

Hmmm…that may replace the old “I walked five miles to school – each way” of my parents’ generation….

 
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Posted by on January 9, 2010 in kids, technology, teenagers

 

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The other three letter word nobody wants to be called…

Not FAT….I’m talking about getting OLD.  It’s funny how we fight it, but we’re all getting a little older every day.  Regardless of what skin care or vitamins you take, you’ll still get older…if you’re lucky.

My birthday’s coming up and I always get reflective at this time.  It’s a great age for that.   (ssh…I’ll never tell).  It’s like I’m standing on a time line where I can turn my head one way and glance  back at my life’s memories and then turn my head the other way and look forward to new ones.   The realist in me knows that I need to take each day as it comes and live it to the fullest, because sometimes we don’t have as many years left as we hope for.  My sister-in-law, JoAnn, died at the age of 44.  I’m learning (at my ripe old age) to live in the NOW, but with plans for my golden years.

I think about all the times I’ve said, “just kill me before I turn 90.”  My friends and family laugh when I say this, but they usually nod and agree that getting old is tough.  We all have stories about aging parents, grandparents or relatives and we hate to see them suffer, especially when they become incoherent.  It’s sad to see anyone’s life end with such little dignity.

I was in this reflective mood as I was putting away our fine china, which we used for our Thanksgiving feast.  It’s a lovely set which was handed down from my husband’s late grandmother, Jane.  Each piece is in beautiful shape and still gleams, as if it was brand new.  Obviously, it was handled with care through the years and I am honored that the set made its way into our home.

Grandma Jane was an interesting lady who told us wonderful stories about going to a speakeasy and the Great Depression.  She was petite and had blue sparkly eyes that lit up when she spoke.  When her husband was alive, they decided that he may die first and they sold their house and bought an assisted living condo.  He didn’t want her to struggle after he died.   It was perfect for them.  They were able to have the freedom of living on their own, as well as the security of having someone nearby, just in case.  The facility had a large cafeteria, which doubled as a meeting place and Jane liked to play cards with the other residents.   Also, they were in walking distance of a 24 hour store and they could take a shuttle bus on day trips.  I loved visiting them with my daughter (who was an infant at the time).

Now, they had the right idea about getting old.  It’s going to happen — plan for it.  Don’t be too proud to accept help when you need it and be realistic — you’ll need an alternative way of getting around.  Grandma Jane died not too long after her husband did.  I still think it was more of a broken heart, since they were inseparable when he was alive.  It was sad to see her go since I would’ve liked my kids to get to know her.  This is why I make sure my kids get to know their living grandparents.

My parents live a few thousand miles away and each time we visit, I see more signs of aging.  My mom walks a lot slower and she seems to have shrunk.  My dad’s memory is diminishing and each time, he tells the same story as if it was the first time.   It’s sad, but I know it’s part of life and the good news is that they are still with us.  We can still hug them and love them.  We can still listen to old stories (and pretend we’ve never heard them).  My dad loves to sit outside and breathe in the air from his trees as he listens to music on the radio.  My mom’s eyes light up when she tells me about a story she wrote — she’s a very creative writer.

My kids are also getting to know my husband’s dad, who lives near us.  He’s a self-described ‘dinosaur’ and a Godly man.  I  know that I am blessed to still have my parents and my father-in-law still around.  My kids never met their grandma on my husband’s side.  She died when she was only 59 years old and her death was sudden.

Instead of thinking of old age as doom and gloom, I choose to look at it as a blessing.  No one knows how long they will live and each year is a blessing.  I appreciate it more now, after JoAnn’s death.  Now, I pray that I get old.  I want to be like Grandma Jane and tell stories of my youth.  I want to be like my mom and continue to write stories.  I want to be like my dad, who appreciates music and soft breezes.  I want to be like my father-in-law, who finds humor in getting old.

Just like the fine china,  I will “handle with care” and hope that my eyes are still sparkling for the next generation.  This birthday, I will be happy that I’m one year older and have an amazing family and friends to share my life with right now.

 
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Posted by on November 28, 2009 in Aging, antiques, Family, Holidays, Writing

 

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This Thanksgiving, don’t forget to thank a teacher!

teach

Thank You, Teacher

T hank you for your
E agerness to teach
A nd
C are for our children,
H elping us in
E ducating them to be
R esponsible, respectable people

~~author unknown

It’s that time of year when you meet face to face with the people who spend all day with your children.  They see them at their best and they see them at their worst.  It’s parent-teacher conference time!

This afternoon, I went to my son’s parent/teacher/student conference and it just confirmed how I already felt about his teachers: they are excellent.  A couple of teachers really stood out.  They are the kind that students will remember forever.  They are creative and fun; they make learning an adventure.  On top of all that, they really get this age and the students strive to be their best.  They truly bring out the best in their students.  I can see the difference they’ve made in my son’s life and I am so thankful for them.

Of course, this made me reflect on the teachers that made a difference in my life.  The cobwebs in my memory don’t let me recall their names, but I’ll never forget how they taught me to read, write and especially how to love both.  They encouraged me and said I had “a lot of potential”.  I am sure my go-getter attitude partly stems from this encouragement.

I am also blessed to be around excellent teachers all day.  As an ELL parapro with 42 students throughout the school, I am in the unique position of going in several classes ranging from K – 5.  These teachers are really dedicated and caring.  I know they make a difference in these little lives.

This Thanksgiving, don’t forget to thank your child’s teacher.  After all, they need a little encouragement too.

~~Maggie

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Posted by on November 12, 2009 in Teaching

 

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