Monday, November 24, 2014

Time To Give Thanks


It's Thanksgiving Time again, and while Bobby and I try to teach Emily to be thankful for all we have each day of the year, it is nice to enjoy a special day set aside for that very thing. A day to spend with family we don't get to see every day, a time for a feast, a time for fun.

To start off our pre Thanksgiving festivities, Emily and I worked on some Zentangle art. Normally Zentangle art is black and white and is made by using repetitive patterns, but we decided to make a variation of the idea after I saw a Zentangle turkey on Pinterest. On the post I looked at, they had simply copied some blank turkey coloring pages and then started making patterns with colored markers. I think our efforts turned out pretty well, how about you?




And of course the day also involved a Thanksgiving book, a beautiful book called Give Thanks for Each Day by Steve Metzger. The illustrations by Robert McPhillips were equally delightful and lent an extra special joy to each page. Told in rhyme, this story reminds us to be thankful for the small things, everything from new crayons to parades. It also reminds us to be thankful for each other and the love shared in moments like holding hands. This book would be especially good for children five to eight who are just starting to learn the concept of thankfulness.


 
 
I also read a book called Geraldine's Big Snow which also seemed appropriate give we recently had our first couple of snows of the season here in Ohio. When Emily was very young, we would regularly read another Geraldine book called Geraldine's Blanket. It was one of her favorites and she always requested that I read it with the voice. The voice happened to be my version of a southern accent. Not very good I'm afraid, but a must in Emily's opinion.

This book told of Geraldine's wait for the first big snow of the year. She wanted to sled, so she waited, and waited, and waited for the snow to fall. Finally she had to go to bed and while she slept, the miraculous snowflake accumulation finally happened. This book is also a good read for the five to eight range and well worth scouring your public library for since it is an older book an not in print any longer.


Well, that about wraps it up for this week. Join me next week for another exciting episode, same crazy time, same crazy channel. And feel free to drop by my personal website, Fun With Aileen, any day of the week for even more on reading, writing, my very own early grade chapter book, Fern Valley, and my sequel, Return To Fern Valley! I'm also on twitter @AileenWStewart if you want an extremely brief glimpse into my days.

Monday, November 17, 2014

The Kentucky Book Fair, Unexpected Surprises, And Some Really Great Books!

This past Weekend I participated in the Kentucky Book Fair and it was a blast with Bobby and Emily joining me for a mini vacation. We arrived on Thursday and had dinner at the Longhorn Steakhouse where I had a parmesan garlic chicken that was so delicious I almost cried.

The next morning we went down to the hotel restaurant for breakfast, and just as we were seated, the fire alarm went off. Since we had no jackets and it was bitter cold, they allowed us to congregate in the lobby. It was like old home week as my author friends came down from their rooms.




I chatted with the ever entertaining Debbie Dadey as she put on her socks. I chatted with the ultra talented Johnette Downing. I met Johnette's illustrator the fabulous Christina Wald who designed the cutest pictures for Johnette's latest book, Macrooned on A Dessert Island. And I finally got to meet my longtime facebook friend and author, Laura Eckroat who also had to stop and put her shoes and socks on. While we waited and mingled, Debbie even managed to get a picture of a fireman holding her nephew's Flat Stanley.


debbie dadey
Hanging with Debbie Dadey
 

Johnette Downing and Christina Wald
Christina, Me, and Johnette



 

Laura Eckroat
Laura and Me

Children's day was lot's of fun, and I even made some new author friends like Todd Shleuning and his wife Cheryl who were there with their book, The Misphits. While I handed out signed bookmarks to all the children who visited, Bobby and Emily went to visit his Aunt who lives two hours away. At the end of the day, Bobby and Emily hung out at the hotel as I attended the author meet and greet with Debbie and Laura.


the misphits


We had a wonderful surprise as we dined on delicious appetizers, and that was the addition to our table of Kevin "Special K" Daley the former Globetrotter and current Motivational Speaker. He was down to earth, as friendly as a person can be, and there to sign his autobiography, I Never Stopped Smiling.


Kevin and Me



Kevin Daley


The next day at the regular book fair, I spent time in-between customers hanging out with one of my favorite illustrators, Mark Wayne Adams, one of my favorite Christian Romance authors, Virginia "Ginny" Smith, and Murder Mystery Man of the hour, Steve Demaree. I even managed to sneak a read of Laura's third book, Went Out To Get a Donut- Came Back With a Muffin, and I have to say that every book I read makes me love her even more. Her talent for writing beautiful picture books is astounding.


Mark and Me

 
Ginny and Me

 
Hanging With Steve
 



While I spent my last day at the fair hawking my own books and schmoozing with friends, Bobby and Emily went to the Great American Dollhouse Museum. I'm not sure who enjoyed it more, Bobby or Emily. When they got back, they could hardly wait to tell me of there own adventures. All in all I would have to say it was a great four days.

Well, that about wraps it up for this week. Join me next week for another exciting episode, same crazy time, same crazy channel. And feel free to drop by my personal website, Fun With Aileen, any day of the week for even more on reading, writing, my very own early grade chapter book, Fern Valley, and my sequel, Return To Fern Valley! I'm also on twitter @AileenWStewart if you want an extremely brief glimpse into my days.

Monday, November 10, 2014

A Good Week

It was a good week. Emily and Bobby went to a father daughter sundae bar held by her American Heritage Girl troop, and they filled a Christmas shoebox for needy children. I had a book signing and reading at the Learning Rocks Expo in Columbus and held a children's writing workshop for kids in kindergarten to sixth grade after my signing and reading was done.


The handful of children who attended my workshop worked hard on their stories, about a mouse at a birthday party, using six picture prompts I created. And although they each wrote using the same six pictures, each story was unique and quite interesting. It was so much fun to see each child write their ideas down on the paper and then start to craft them into a story. We discussed what a rough draft was and how it didn't need to be perfect. We discussed how it was good to have another person proof read to help find mistakes. We discussed the importance of reading and writing.

 

 

One special family, really made my day. The Baumgardner family, who had purchased my first book, Fern Valley, three years ago when I was at a home school convention, heard I was going to be at the expo, they made a special trip to buy book two. Their oldest daughter Katie stayed for the writing workshop and shared with me her desire to one day be an author. Her writing was quite good and I have no doubt that she will one day see her dream come true.

A last but not least, I rounded out a wonderful week by reading two fun fall books for this review. The first was Cork & Fuzz which told a story of two best friends, a muskrat named Cork and a possum named Fuzz. Fuzz believes in the saying finders-keepers, but what he finds and keeps is his friends special green stone. The story tells of the lesson Fuzz learns about keeping something that doesn't belong to him. It is a great lesson story for children six to eight without being preachy.


The second book I read was the Lonely Scarecrow. I must say I was surprised and thrilled with the beautifully embossed pages that gave a delicious texture to the fabulous illustrations. The story was quite surprising too. The lonely scarecrow just wants to make friends, but all the animals are frightened of his appearance. How he finally makes friends is a lovely and unexpected way.

 
Well, that about wraps it up for this week. Join me next week for another exciting episode, same crazy time, same crazy channel. And feel free to drop by my personal website, Fun With Aileen, any day of the week for even more on reading, writing, my very own early grade chapter book, Fern Valley, and my sequel, Return To Fern Valley! I'm also on twitter @AileenWStewart if you want an extremely brief glimpse into my days.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Sometimes Ordinary is Extrordinary


 


It was an extraordinary week. Not because anything extraordinary happened, but because of all the ordinary events that occurred. Events that make up the everyday moments of our lives, or as I like to say, the glue that sticks it all together. Emily had a special practice for her part in the Independent Studies Christmas Pageant coming up in December, and she had a lot of fun at practice. She was able to show her father and I the routine later that evening, and it was such a joy to watch her dance to the music.
 
 Emily and I then took this past Friday off to have a girls' day out. Homeschooling affords us the opportunity to do this occasionally, so we took full advantage. We set out to do some Christmas shopping, buy some groceries, and get some pizza.
 
We went to a small pizza parlor in a nearby town for which we had a discount coupon from Emily's summer reading. We shared a large salad while we waited for our pizza to finish cooking, and when it finally arrived, we were pleasantly surprised to find it was the best pizza we had ever eaten. The sauce was sweet, the bread was delicious, and the cheese was the real mozzarella that strings when you pull a piece off of the pizza pan.

Food Clip Art

Saturday found me at a book event where I shared a table friend and fellow author, Deb Boerema, who has an exceptional Christmas story called The Innkeeper's Dog. It reminds me of my favorite Christmas carol The Friendly Beasts. Not only did we get to visit, but our sales were pretty good that day as well.


And then of course Sunday evening rolled around and it was time to read and review for this post. I can't think of a nicer way to wrap up a week full of normal, wonderful, and ordinary times that make life extraordinarily worth living!

Since I hadn't had time to visit the library this past week, I decided to choose a book from Emily's bookshelves. What I chose was another dog book called The Stray Dog. It is an ordinary book with very short and to the point sentences. On some pages, there are only pictures to tell the story. But this ordinary story of how one family finds a dog to love is based on a true story. And in my book that makes it as extraordinary as my week was.


Well, that about wraps it up for this week. Join me next week for another exciting episode, same crazy time, same crazy channel. And feel free to drop by my personal website, Fun With Aileen, any day of the week for even more on reading, writing, my very own early grade chapter book, Fern Valley, and my sequel, Return To Fern Valley! I'm also on twitter @AileenWStewart if you want an extremely brief glimpse into my days.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Learning To Be A Lady



Our homeschool journey is going quite well; and as promised, Emily's father and I are doing our best to make sure she keeps connected to her former classmates. Just this past Friday she had her bi-monthly classes at her former school, and we brought a friend home with us for a play date. Since it was a special occasion I made them a fruit pizza for dessert. I'm telling you, it doesn't get much better then that.
 

This year Emily, along with another friend and former classmate, joined American Heritage Girls which is basically a spiritual version of Girl Scouts. One of the things that they want the girls to learn is how to be a true lady. And by that, I mean someone who thinks of others more then themselves. To me, this is a beautiful thing since this is a lesson her father and I have been teaching her as well.

 So when I randomly picked a book from  our stack to read for this review, I thought it was amazing that one of the main points of the story was how a princess learned to be more thoughtful and less spoiled. It's titled Lady Lollipop and it's an adorable story of a king, a queen, a princess, an orphan boy, and a very intelligent pig. And the black and white pencil style drawings add to the story and made me almost want to adopt a pig of my own___ almost.


Well, that about wraps it up for this week. Join me next week for another exciting episode, same crazy time, same crazy channel. And feel free to drop by my personal website, Fun With Aileen, any day of the week for even more on reading, writing, my very own early grade chapter book, Fern Valley, and my sequel, Return To Fern Valley! I'm also on twitter @AileenWStewart if you want an extremely brief glimpse into my days.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Autumn Has Arrived


This past week was the first week in quite a while that I wasn't outrageously busy. The only real event was Bobby and I celebrating our Anniversary this past Saturday. It was a lovely and relaxing day, and I didn't even feel guilty about doing the bare minimum of house chores. I cooked and did dishes, and that was the extent of my domestic efforts.



Autumn also arrived at our house and was made evident by the massive littering of brightly colored leaves covering our front yard. The site of all those leaves was both beautiful and tiring as I thought about raking. I decided to rake later this week which left me time to read a beautiful book titled Count Down to Fall. It's an older book from 2009, but it is still available and is well worth checking out.




Count Down to Fall is told in rhyme, and while I didn't think every page flowed as well as it could, the story line was pleasant. The illustrations, however, are what really sets this book apart. They are very detailed and quite beautiful. The leaves and forest creatures invite you to spend an extra few minutes admiring every page. And as an added bonus, at the end of the story, there are activities and facts that would make this book a wonderful addition to a teacher or homeschooler's curriculum.

Emily also read a book to me that I enjoyed very much. It was called Elmer and The Dragon. Although written in the seventies, it is a fabulous book that has stood the test of time and is still available today. Elmer is a  young boy who runs away from home to save a baby dragon in distress. After saving the dragon, it is grateful and offers to take Elmer home. On the journey, they encounter a wild storm and a strange island. The adventures are highly entertaining and certainly kept my interest as well as Emily's.
 
 
 

Well, that about wraps it up for this week. Join me next week for another exciting episode, same crazy time, same crazy channel. And feel free to drop by my personal website, Fun With Aileen, any day of the week for even more on reading, writing, my very own early grade chapter book, Fern Valley, and my sequel, Return To Fern Valley! I'm also on twitter @AileenWStewart if you want an extremely brief glimpse into my days.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Seasons of Change


Just as the seasons change without fail, so do the seasons of our lives. And although change is often difficult, it can also mean new opportunities and fresh beginnings. So as sad as I was to see this past weekend usher in the very last farmer's market of the year in my home town, I really am ready for a breather.

Farm Market

I am eagerly contemplating how I will now use my Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays which for some time have been spent madly baking. One of my short term goals is to finish the third book in my Fern Valley series and then to move onto a completely different work in progress that I have been mulling over for quite some time. This also leaves more time for reading and reviewing!

And speaking of reviewing, I decided to read a book that Emily recently read entitled Ben Franklin's Big Splash - The Mostly True Story of His First Invention. She seemed to really enjoy the story, so I sat down to see why.  What I found was a humorous and well written story that made Ben Franklin seem real to me and not just a part of ancient history. Curiously enough, it also inspired me to keep writing and keep submitting despite the numerous rejections I regularly receive.

Ben Franklin's Big Splash

Ben doesn't worry about what other people think about him or his inventions, he just keeps inventing. One of my favorite parts of the book says, "Most kids might have felt sad, ashamed, or stupid. Instead, this smart, stubborn, sensible son of a soap-maker simply thought he'd made a mistake___ and wouldn't stop seeking, studying, and struggling until he SUCCEEDED."

My dad always told me that the only way you fail is to not try at all, so just like Ben I will not feel sad, ashamed,  or stupid. Instead, I will keep seeking, studying, and struggling until I succeed. I will keep writing and submitting until an agent or publisher realizes what I already know. That my writing is worthwhile, and I deserve representation.

Well, that about wraps it up for this week. Join me next week for another exciting episode, same crazy time, same crazy channel. And feel free to drop by my personal website, Fun With Aileen, any day of the week for even more on reading, writing, my very own early grade chapter book, Fern Valley, and my sequel, Return To Fern Valley! I'm also on twitter @AileenWStewart if you want an extremely brief glimpse into my days.