Marital Negotiations – Recycled Sundays

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With spring comes the sound of wedding bells. The following is a list of hints for young wives-to-be. No, they aren’t all from my marriage. In fact at the moment, my husband cooks more often than I do. This is by popular demand since, “Mommy makes weird stuff like tofu guck and puts vegetables in everything.” If it doesn’t come from a box, apparently it’s not real food.

Smart brides-to-be plan ahead. I don’t mean floral arrangements, matchbook covers or double rings. I’m talking about the things that last a lifetime. Like bathtub rings.

Most men are mythologists. Deep down, they believe house god’s come in and do the work if you ignore it long enough. They usually don’t even think of the dirt buildup and so I have used the nag by note method. Other wives use a more direct approach.

One woman I know put the dirty dishes between the sheets on her husband’s side of the bed. I wouldn’t recommend this if you don’t have twin beds. Another woman frisbeed them out the back door into the snow. Certainly not recommended for good China and best when at least 4 inches of snow has fallen.

Because of the hunting instinct, men enjoy setting booby traps. Be prepared to constantly trip over boots in the hallway or clothes on the bedroom floor. It’s always fun to play along by enriching his tracking skills. Kick the clothes under the bed or toss the boots down into the basement. Look bewildered when he asks if you saw anything.

Watch for the “what will our friends think?” mode sabotaging your plans for equality. When you’re expecting visitors, divide up the jobs fairly, do yours, and then disappear. You don’t need the stress of watching him spread the wax 30 minutes before they arrived and he doesn’t need the suggestion to use an old toothbrush on the baseboards.

When the children are clothed by Daddy, ignore little things like shirts on inside out, knee patches behind the knees, and blouses as worn as dresses. If daddy thinks it works and the child is warm and happy, let it be. Who knows? They may set a trend.

Fathers teach such important skills as differentiating between Taco and Tortilla chips, 300 uses for Cheeze Wiz, how to look clean without really washing your face, 47 obscene noises you can make with body parts, and how to turn a sock into a puppet while you’re still wearing it. It never hurts for them to also teach their sons non-gender related skills, such as how to roll undershirts into knotty little balls so that more can fit into the drawer.

Positive reinforcement goes a long way. Of course, it doesn’t hurt to show your husband that you appreciate some recognition as well. Many men never actually realize that people track dirt onto the carpet, make messes in the refrigerator, or smudge the walls. Subtle remarks like, “Don’t the hall walls shine since I spent four hours scrubbing them?” may alert him.

If your husband feels “henpecked and hard done by”, encourage him to run off with a maid. It will serve him right. You and I know in two months, shall be tossing his boots into the street and billing him for it.

Don’t be surprised if your husband develops arrogance about his role. He may remind you that your friends’ husbands don’t do half of what he does. Smile graciously and reply, “That’s why you’re lucky enough to have me, darling.”

Published Sunday, May 17, 1992 in the Chronicle-Journal/Times-News.

Bonnie Ferrante: Books For All Ages

They’re Recycling Aliens, Sequel to Ants in Space by G J Griffiths. Book Review.

The first thing that struck me about this book was the amazing illustrations. The second thing was that the author began the story by writing in the passive verb tense. Action stories, and I assume this is one, should always be written using active verbs. You want the reader to feel that the story is alive and present. This continues throughout the book and noticeably slows the pace.

The gist of the story is that ant sized aliens have come to earth to harvest Teflon from landfill site for use on their home planet. The children decide to join them for an adventure. They are shrunk down to ant size and flow into the home planet. Unfortunately, it is under attack. Children who like aliens, Star Wars, Minecraft, and spacecrafts will enjoy this story.

The writing is charming albeit a little wordy. His description of the toddler coloring is both humorous and endearing. The book is mostly text with the occasional full-page colored illustration. I found it a little confusing to see the illustrations before I had read the relevant text and would recommend that several of the pictures be moved to later pages.

I love that fact that the little girl, dressed as the Princess, introduces the concept of kindness as an antidote to war. Her speech is inspiring and wise.  She also spoke about caring for the planet instead of destroying it and moving on. (Ironic since earthlings are determined to destroy earth.)

The plot is suited to children around eight-years-old but the vocabulary and scientific concepts are much higher. This book might be best shared by a parent with his or her child.

I was given a free e-book copy in exchange for honest review.

Buy link They’re Recycling Aliens: Return to Antanesta (Kweezy Caploza Tales Book 2)

Bonnie Ferrante: Books For All Ages

1 2 3 Versus A B C by Mike Boldt.

 

This silly book begins with the number one saying, “Hello! I’m so glad you chose to read this book about numbers!” Traveling in the other direction, the capital A says, “Hi! I’m so happy you chose to read this book about letters.”

What begins with a friendly disagreement quickly draws in the entire alphabet and the numbers up to 26 as well as an alligator, two bears, three cars, four dinosaurs, etc. (There is no explanation for why the alligator is wearing a cowboy hat, thick black rimmed glasses, a striped tie, and carrying a briefcase.) The book gets zanier when the named animals interact with each other. Monkeys juggle oranges and ties while lions try to put together a jigsaw puzzle assisted by koala bears. Wolves playing violins ride unicycles. It is a fast paced book with expressive illustrations.

At the end, there is a double page spread of the numbers from 1 to 26 and the letters from A to Z with the occasional character tucked in between. The letter A and the number one shake hands and agree to call it a day. They walk off arm in arm. They stop, mouths agape, when a raspberry looking blob says, “Umm… Hello? I’m a little lost. I’m supposed to be in a book about colors.”

What a great jumping off point for a child or a class to make their own book.

Children between the ages of two and four often confuse numbers and letters. If they are ready, this book would help them to understand that numbers and letters serve different purposes. After reading through the book, it would be best to go back and focus on the letters second time. Then on the third read through, focus on the numbers.

Counting and alphabetizing are ways we bring order to our world. Basically, they are a type of categorization. Show your child how numbers and letters can help them organize.

You can carry this through into sorting items in the house, first by number, then by beginning letter, and lastly by color. Buttons are great for this. I recommend you do one type of sorting per day.

Here are some examples.

 

Expand into:

There’s more:

weight

texture

sound when dropped into a can

float or sink

stackable or not

expensive or cheap

used (recycled) or unused (new)

Can you spin it like a top?

Can you play tiddlywinks or pogs with it?

It’s only as limited as your imagination.

Bonnie Ferrante: Books For All Ages

Author G.A. Whitmore Three Random Questions Interview

 

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25% of the proceeds from the sale of A Place to Call Home: Toby’s Tale are donated to a rescue dog organization.

G.A. Whitmore’s passion for writing and her love of dogs come together in her series The Rescue Dog Tales. The first book in the series, A Place to Call Home is based on the true story of Toby, an abused dog she adopted from the Connecticut Humane Society. She works and lives in Connecticut.  Her current day job in health care management can be stressful, and her rescue dog, Daisy, is an expert at calming her down and making her laugh every day.

Bonnie Ferrante: Tell us a little about yourself.

G.A. Whitmore: I love having her at my feet while I’m writing.  I also need to have a window to look out of when I write, so my desk is positioned so that I face the window in my study. I can stare out into the world that I am trying to keep at bay while I mull over what word to use, or imagine how one of my characters will react in a certain situation.

Ferrante:  Your book, A Place to Call Home, is based on a true story. Toby is a dog you adopted from the Humane Society. He’d been severely abused. Would you recommend that other people follow in your footsteps? 

Whitmore: Yes, of course. If you have room in your home and heart for a dog, visit your local animal shelter. Usually, the staff members know their animals well and can offer good advice on choosing one that will be right for you and your family. Sometimes, abused animals need more attention, but most shelters do not put animals up for adoption until they are socialized and ready for a new home.

Toby was seven months old when I first saw him at the Connecticut Humane Society. He had been physically abused and was severely traumatized. His backstory, as told to me by the woman who rescued him, fascinated and horrified me at the same time. He was found in northern California in a box in a dumpster with a white female puppy, presumably his sister. They were discovered by a young couple travelling back to Los Angeles, who took the puppies home with them. The local vet, upon examining the dogs, thought they might be part wolf. Toby ultimately ended up in Connecticut after relatives of the couple, who had stopped by to visit while on a cross-country driving trip, decided to adopt the puppies.

I couldn’t stop wondering how and why Toby and his sister ended up in a dumpster in a box, and were they really part wolf? And more importantly, what would drive someone to abuse a defenseless puppy? My musings turned into a story. The story turned into a book.

The impetus to finish writing the book came from my realization that Toby’s story could help raise awareness of the plight of abused and abandoned dogs. When A Place to Call Home: Toby’s Tale was published earlier this year, I decided to donate part of the proceeds from the sale each book to a rescue organization in honor of Toby and all rescue dogs in need of a place to call home.

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Click here to buy A Place to Call Home: Toby’s Tale

Ferrante: That’s wonderful. What advice would you give someone considering adopting an abused pet?

Whitmore: Be sure you are ready and willing to put in the time for your animal to get to know you and your family and to give it the attention and love it needs and deserves. Visit animal shelters and talk to the staff members, most of whom know their animals and will be happy to introduce you to those they think would fit your family and home. Ask questions about the pet’s background, habits, exercise abilities…anything you would want to know about a new family member. That is what this animal will be, after all, so do not be shy about asking.  The staff may not know every answer, but whatever information you receive will help you and your pet get to know each other better.

Ferrante: You have other pets as well. Are any of them rescued animals?

Whitmore: Yes, I have a cat who I rescued, and I have rescued four dogs since Toby. I will always have rescued animals in my home. I cannot imagine my home without them!

Ferrante: What kind of response have you had from children who have read your book?

 Whitmore: They love Toby and his kind and adventurous spirit, and they love the idea of animals talking to each other.  But they also wonder how some people can be so mean to animals. Even the adults who read this book (and there are nearly as many of them as child readers) say they are saddened by that part of the true story.  Most of the children say they cannot wait for the next book in my series.

Ferrante: Yes, it is unfathomable to me that people do these things to animals. Do you have another book in the works? 

Whitmore: I am currently writing the second book in my series, The Rescue Dog Tales, A Place to Belong: Kadee’s Tale.  It was inspired by an article I read in a Reader’s Digest several years ago while sitting in my doctor’s waiting room. (Yes, I am guilty of tearing it out and taking it with me.) Kadee is a mixed breed border collie who is rescued from a dog fight and finds herself part of a training program that pairs juveniles who get in trouble with rescue dogs. The lead human character, Sam, is a good girl who gets into some trouble, ends up at a ranch for juvenile offenders, and is ultimately accepted into the rescue dog-training program. As you might guess, she is paired up with Kadee and the two of them become inseparable.

three random questions

Ferrante: If any one of the national holidays had to be celebrated twice a year, six months apart, which one would you want it to be?

Whitmore: Thanksgiving, although I’m a vegetarian and do not eat turkey (or tofurkey, either), because I have so much to be grateful for and because I love pumpkin pie.

What is not a national holiday, but I wish it were, is Rescued Animals Day.  I would like to see shelters have open houses on that day and offer incentives to suitable people to adopt one of their shelter animals. Maybe someone you know will start the movement to make that happen!

Ferrante: Sounds like a great idea. Maybe one of the children who read your book will lead the way.

 If you were on an African safari, what would you absolutely have to see for your trip to be complete?

Whitmore: Like most people, I am fascinated by elephants, so seeing them up close and free would be amazing. But I also love the big cats…and the wild dogs…and the graceful giraffes…and the tiny meerkats…and….as you can tell, I would be one of those folks jumping around in her seat to see and photograph every wild thing!

Ferrante: If you had to choose your own epitaph of eight words or fewer (besides name and dates), what would it say?

Whitmore: She loved animals, and they loved her, too.

Ferrante: That’s beautiful. What a wonderful way to be remembered. Thank you for spending time with me today. I look forward to reading your book.  And thank you for being a refuge for unfortunate animals.

Read the book review here.

Bonnie Ferrante: Books For All Ages

A Place to Call Home, Toby’s Tale by G. A. Whitmore. The Rescue Dog Tales. Book Review.

This story is told in first person from the dog, Toby’s, point of view. All the animals in the novel converse with each other much like those in Charlottes’ Web.

We follow the life of Toby, beginning with his grandparents. Toby is a pure white husky who has Wolf blood in him. Unfortunately, he is born to a breeder who plans on killing Toby and his sister because their unusual color will ruin his business. What follows is a repeatedly heartbreaking story. But, if you can push through to the end, Toby finally has the loving home he deserves.

This would be a terrific book for kids who love animals and dogs. It’s realistic and thought-provoking events will help the child to be more loving and responsible toward dogs and all pets.

The author, who provided the safe home for Toby, based this story in actual fact filling in the details using logic and imagination. She ends the book with discussion questions that would be suitable for classroom or for a parent to share with his or her child. Not only does this book teach kindness to animals but it brings up important topics such as personal responsibility, prejudice, and points of view.

Don’t be surprised if your child gets a little upset reading this. Although it is not gruesome, there are some seriously sad and infuriating moments with regard to how people treat animals. It is a valuable book that I highly recommend for ages 10 and up.

Click on the cover to buy the book.

The author will be interviewed tomorrow.

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A copy of this book was generously donated by the author to my Little Free Library.

Bonnie Ferrante: Books For All Ages

Dreamseeker Wish Keeper by Audrey N. Lewis. Book Review.

The story begins “Wisdom, Hope, Curiosity, and Love sat on top of Cloud Number Nine, the one with the pinkish lining.” There, they discuss the misguided wishes of dream seekers.

Then, they hear the wishes of a little girl who is about to celebrate her birthday. She dreams of things to help others such as homes for the homeless, a healthy earth, and her brother no longer needing a wheelchair. The dreamseekers decide to grant her a special gift. They leave her a soft journal filled with advice and a statement of love. Upon opening it, the little girl immediately wants to share with her family.

The illustrations are ink drawings roughly coloured in with pastels or crayons. Unfortunately, several of them seem rushed or unfinished. Many could use more detail.

I think this book would be unlovely accompaniment to actual gift of a journal to a child. It doesn’t have much of a story by itself. It is mostly an encouragement to follow your dreams. The message is an important one, though, and this book could be the stimulus for valuable discussion.

Buy link:Dreamseeker Wish Keeper

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Bonnie Ferrante: Books For All Ages

Click on the book covers for more information or to purchase the books/

      

     

The Gingerbread Man (with a happy ending)

Most children are dismayed when the Gingerbread Man is eaten by the fox even though that’s what we do with cookies. In this version, not only is the Gingerbread Boy saved by the  little old lady who created him, but so are several other new friends he has made on his journey. This is a story of a different kind of family formed by love and compassion with a message of kindness to all.

The story contains repetitive phrases which children will enjoy reciting. The pictures were created using Legos, graphic illustration, and toys.

While you’re there, check out some of my educational and entertaining videos for kids, parents, and teachers. If you enjoy the site, give a video a thumbs up, subscribe, comment, and/or share.

 

A B C I Like Me! by Nancy Carlson. Book Review.

The alphabet is not the focus of this book. It is basically about seeing ourselves in a positive light. An anthropomorphic pig accompanied by a mouse and a frog (oddly the only one not wearing clothes) goes through the alphabet reciting something wonderful about herself. For example, “I am Awesome, Brave, and Cheerful. I have big Dreams.”

The pictures are brightly colored and fill most of the page with a simple phrase or sentence below. Gigantic smiles are plastered on everyone’s face.

Most of the things the pig mentions are attainable by preschoolers. They would enjoy connecting with the pig’s abilities. It might be fun to make a follow-up book of the child’s interests, talents, and quality. Inevitably, some would be the same but, with an adult’s help, some should be unique to the child. For example, B could be for building wonderful block towers, D could be for love to dance, and L could be for listen well to a story.

The book is just long enough for a toddler’s attention span. This would be a great book for a child who tends to self criticize, worry, or compare himself unfavorably to peers or friends.

Bonnie Ferrante: Books For All Ages

Exploring Our Darkness – Author Audrey N. Lewis Three Random Questions Interview

Audrey N. Lewis has retired after 25 years of running an International not-for-profit. Now she is able to focus on her writing and has completed two very different books.

audrey-lewis

Bonnie Ferrante: Hello and welcome Audrey. Reading through your bio I was struck with how many similar interests we have. We both enjoy furniture restoration, scrabble, gardens and nature. I don’t know if I would ever have the courage to keep bees though.

Audrey N. Lewis: Thank you for having me Bonnie. I would love to play scrabble sometime. It’s interesting that you mention needing courage when it comes to beekeeping. Really it isn’t about courage as much as it’s about the ability to keep calm. It has been a hobby that our whole family was able to be involved in. I actually discovered I am allergic to honey bees and my husband had to take over the hive care and I was responsible for extracting and preparing the honey. It’s an awesome experience and as a nature lover feels good to increase the bee population.

Ferrante: One of the characters in your short story collection, Everybody has a story… These are ours…, is also a highly creative person. Megan is an artist. But the rest, seem very different from you. When you write, do you draw on your own experiences or like to explore new ways of looking at things?    

Lewis: I think that when I write it is difficult not to draw from either something I have experienced on a physical level or an emotion that an event may evoke.

When I write I think I have a tendency to throw myself into the story and that although a particular story line might not be real or something I have personally experienced I tend to  immerse myself into a character or characters often letting it take over for a bit, until I can finish it and let it go.

Buy link for Everybody has a story…. These are ours…..

Ferrante: At one point in Megan’s story, she draws detailed, amazing pictures on frosted store front windows that melt away with the sunrise. This is a Buddhist activity, much like water sketches, chalk drawings, or sand mandalas. It was quite symbolic of her life. If you had to choose an artistic activity to represent your life, what do you think would be most suitable?

Lewis: Since we share many hobbies, I think you might understand my dilemma in saying I am not sure I can answer this question. I feel that I have come a long way from the little girl I was when I wrote my first poem or painted my first painting. More so now as the woman I am and continue to be, there is not one activity I feel that would represent my life, but rather an ongoing living canvas that would incorporate all of the arts and senses as well as emotions, including Mother Earth and all that she bears.

Ferrante: Although Megan’s future was taken from her, most of her life really, she never lost her true self. At one point she resorted to cutting herself and using her blood in an attempt to paint. Do you feel the creative impulse is essential to fill?

Lewis: I do believe that it is essential. I believe that as a creative person it would be so  difficult to be chastised, or forbidden to use my creativity in some way. In fact if I was no longer able to be creative at will in some way, I think I would just be empty and fade away.

Ferrante: Absolutely. It would be hard to get up in the morning.

The theme of parent and daughter seems predominant in your short story collection. Were they written as a group with that in mind?

Lewis: I am a mother of a son and daughter and a daughter who grew up with 3 sisters. I have witnessed myriad relationships throughout my years and with bearing witness to so many life events and experiences I felt I could draw most realistically from those. When I wrote them, they were written at different times and I did not really think about how they might go together.

Ferrante: The first story in your collection, “The Closet” had a sci-fi touch that was about a universal problem. The child in this story has special needs that her parents and teachers seem unable to fill. Because of her innate personality, she has great difficulty with self-control and interpersonal relationships. Consequently, she is excluded socially and even bullied. This raises the question of nature versus nurture. Are you coming down on the side of nature?

Lewis: This was a very emotional story for me. I think all too often we hear about children who need help but either aren’t recognized as having a problem or who slip through the system in one way or another. I believe that often times it is due to nature that problems present themselves and when this happens it is difficult not to over compensate with nurturing. But even with all the nurturing one can give without defining the nature of the problem or in the case of Lexi in The Closet, addressing and acknowledging it. I believe that you cannot nurture someone so disturbed without acknowledging that nature may indeed continue to take its course.

Ferrante: The mood of this story collection is quite sombre, even dark. Were they all written at a specific time in your life? Did you set out to explore the theme of helplessness or despair?

Lewis: It’s interesting that you ask me this question, because I have discussed this with close friends. Most of the stories were written at a different time and not necessarily shadowing where I was emotionally. I do not think of myself as a dark person, so I was surprised at how dark they turned out to be. I think that it is not so much helplessness or despair as much as my perception of the various life events and the reality of them. There are two sides to everything and I think that when I wrote them I was attempting to show the side of life’s stages that one doesn’t always look at. Thinking about these stories sort of makes me sad, because I feel that they do indeed reflect those emotions.

Ferrante: Your other book, Dreamseeker, Wish Keeper is totally different. It is a children’s book illustrated with crayon drawings. Why did you decide to switch from adult short story writing to a children’s picture book?

Lewis: Actually, Dreamseeker, Wish Keeper was written and illustrated in 1991 for my daughters 6th birthday. I have written many stories of various genre since then which includes the collection of short stories, Everybody has a story….These are ours. I don’t actually decide what I will write but rather let where I am and what I am feeling dictate my writing at a specific time.

 Click here to buy Dreamseeker Wish Keeper

Ferrante: The picture book almost seems as though it is written for adults instead of children, or at least teenagers. I felt the theme was to dream big, but worthy, dreams, be curious, work to fulfill your wishes, don’t give up, and share your gifts. Who do you feel you are speaking to in this book? Why did you choose this message?

Lewis: Like I said, Bonnie, I wrote Dreamseeker, Wish Keeper for my daughters 6th birthday. This was my gift to her, so when I wrote it I was speaking to her. I wrote it understanding the old soul in her and the gifts she shared with all of us. As the younger sibling of a physically disabled brother sometimes she didn’t always understand the fairness of life and yet her heart screamed the dreams I wrote about. I guess it only seemed fitting to give her messages that she might carry with her through life and remember how incredible human nature can be when we look at each other and at life itself in a positive way.

 Ferrante: What is your next project going to be?

Lewis: Phew. I am working on several projects right now. I am working on a novel that has been evolving for the past 40 years, about how differently we view expereinces at different times of our lives, how they may look differently depending on where one might be at the time. It is about going back, forgiving and letting go.

I am working on a sci-fi book with several writers. It is about a parallel dimension of powerful women and what their lives are like as they create their world. It should be interesting with different voices coming together.

I am also working on what was originally going to be a short story which is becoming a novella. It was inspired after the tragedy in Orlando and I am hoping will open up some deep discussions and perhaps change some reader’s views on the human race.

three random questions

Ferrante: What special talents would you like to possess?

Lewis:  Without sounding too altruistic, I would like to be able to alleviate the world of diseases, hunger and the carbon footprints and pollution that are causing climate change.

 Ferrante: As a child, what was your favourite game?

Lewis: I think this is another hard question, Bonnie. It depends on how old I was. I think what I remember that made me happiest was playing with my imaginary friend, Jeffery.

 Ferrante: What word do you most dislike? What do you most like?

Lewis: I really dislike the word “hate” it is such an unfriendly word and always seems to instill such sad feelings. I don’t think there is ever anything good that comes from that word.

The word I like most depends on the day. But if I think about it as a word that makes me happy when I think about what it means than it would be two words, Love and Peace. These are the words I really wish we could all live our lives believing and sharing.

Bonnie, thank you again for having me and I hope we can play a game of scrabble sometime soon.

 Ferrante: Thank you for participating. It’s always great to make a connection with someone of similar interests. Best of luck with your many endeavours.

The author’s short story collection was reviewed March 31, 2017.

Bonnie Ferrante: Books For All Ages

The Three Random Questions are from a Bit of Banter, the Game That Gets You Talking

Giving Away 3 Paperback copies of Action Alphabet

Opens for entries on May 15, 2017

 Availability: 3 copies available

Giveaway dates: May 15 – May 23, 2017

PARENTS: This book is written for kids who don’t like to sit still and just listen. It employs multiple learning styles. Kids will touch, move, repeat, play-act, and observe using rhythm and rhyme. It can be read as prose or chanted to the rhythm of the military cadence of “I Don’t Know But I’ve Been Told.” Don’t be surprised if you hear your children chanting their favorite parts independently. KEEP IT FUN AND ACTIVE and they will come back for more.

TEACHERS: Project this onto your smart board and use it for your exercise break! It makes a great energizer. Learning while moving is a double-header. Children of a variety of backgrounds and abilities are included.

Video with sample pages and examples of the chant/song https://youtu.be/LiaYDy3f1Sw