Summertime and the Living Is Fairly Easy

Written By: Dawn - Jul• 07•14

 

Prom Selfie w/Little Bug

Prom Selfie w/Little Bug


Once again I find myself having to write a recap of life instead of regular blogging. Life happens!

It was an unusually busy late Spring , end-of-the-school-year and start to summer for me with work, Little Bug’s graduation and finishing up my coursework in Stanford’s Online Creative Writing Certificate Program.

I spent June decompressing from all of the above and now that July is here and I’m down to four weeks left of summer break, I’m ready to come back to my writing life through blogging and beginning a new novel.

In the meantime, here’s what’s been keeping busy-

 

Graduation! May 22, 2014

Graduation! May 22, 2014

It’s hard to believe, but I no longer have a child in K-12. I surprised everyone and didn’t cry like I am known for doing and actually kept it together. It’s hard to fall apart when your son is so excited.

My favorite graduation picture.

My favorite graduation picture.

 

If it’s not the kids, it’s the pets keeping me one my toes. Our new puppy, Lily, excells at this. She is all energy, teeth and legs jumping up. Weasley was lethargic by comparison. She’ll be a great dog in about twelve months. The carpet won’t last that long however. Still, with a face like this, what can you do?

Pool Princess

Pool Princess

Weasley is holding his own.

Without Weasley, I don't know how we'd handle the puppy.

Without Weasley, I don’t know how we’d handle the puppy.

I’ve managed to have some fun too. Big Boy and I spent some time together at Phoenix Comic Con. We went to the One Man Star Wars show and did a photo shoot with Nathan Fillion.Screen Shot 2014-06-09 at 9.44.22 AM

 

I finished up with Stanford in early June. After eight years with my Work-In-Progress (WIP) I am walking away from it to start a new novel. I’m taking one main character and some of the themes from the old WIP with me into the new one and am excited to have a fresh start. Most people never publish the first novel they write. Rest assured, that novel isn’t a waste of time because what you learn in the process is invaluable.

The rest of June was spent with a book in my hand and one or two dogs in my face. No complaints!

Our number one job is to be adorable!

Our number one job is to be adorable!

 

 

Run Like the Wind: Disney’s Princess Half Marathon

Written By: Dawn - Mar• 16•14
Everyone's a winner! Post-race celebration.

Everyone’s a winner! Post-race celebration.

 

It’s been three weeks since I ran the Disney Princess Half Marathon in Orlando with my dear friends Barb, Linda and Kat (who are sisters).  We have made a race weekend getaway an annual tradition now and this year we’re doubling up on Disney for their Coast-to-Coast challenge. In September we’ll run the Disneyland Half Marathon in Anaheim and earn an extra medal for being brave (foolish?) enough to run a Disney race on each coast in the same calendar year.

Given my schedule with work, finishing up my writing program at Stanford and the start of Little Bug’s final high school lacrosse season, training for a half marathon seems like a bit much. And it is. I am not an avid runner, nor am I an enthusiastic one. The weight of a race looming is more anxiety producing than fitness motivating and yet I do it. Why?

Bling!!

Bling!!

I realize that the worship of idols is frowned upon, but Disney sure rewards your effort in grand style.

Last year I wasn’t too happy with my race, the course or my effort in preparing for it. This year I wanted a better experience. I trained differently, I reset my attitude (which involved running toward Einstein Bagels for my long runs)  and I prepared my Princess costume.

In the end, I didn’t run as fast as I wanted (97% humidity is tough to run in when you’re not used to it) but I ran well and felt good while doing it. The girls and I had a wonderful time taking in all that Disney World has to offer. Somewhere between Star Tours (Trip highlight- it was so quiet in line they gave me my own shuttle for ride #3 of 5 in a row!) and Cinderella’s castle,  I discovered why I keep doing these races; I like the feeling of accomplishment I get preparing for and finishing one.

I also enjoyed this race in a way I haven’t before. I’m not sure if it was due to the new playlist I listened to (Fun. and Imagine Dragons added), my fabulous Sleeping Beauty (in her proper BLUE dress) inspired running attire or the fact that Disney made sure all the handsome male characters on the race course were extremely handsome, but I had fun, despite the thick mist in the air. (I still can’t talk about how my hair reacted to all that humidity. Too soon.)

I arrived home refreshed and relaxed, which aren’t exactly words people use post-Disney anything. What stands out  is how far away I felt from my daily life, a life I enjoy tremendously. Sometimes, even when we’re happy, we forget to play and have fun. I let  myself play with friends in the biggest playground on the planet.

When you think about small children, all they do is run and play. It’s a vital part of their social and emotional development. Aren’t we all kids at heart?

I’m on a race now to edit and finish my novel as I complete my last class at Stanford. It’s time to play in the world I’ve created.

I wish everyone an opportunity to run and play in a way that restores your energy and commitment to yourself. Who knows, that might involve doing something you never dreamed of.

All it takes is a little faith and trust.

And just a little bit of pixie dust.

Pre-race selfie!

Pre-race selfie!

 

Kicking myself I didn't buy this shirt for The Better Half.

Kicking myself I didn’t buy this shirt for The Better Half.

 

I can play nice with other Sleeping Beauties, despite the pink.

I can play nice with other Sleeping Beauties, despite the pink.

 

See? It's supposed to be a blue dress!

See? It’s supposed to be a blue dress!

 

 

Best time ever!

Best time ever!

 

 

Feathering the Empty Nest #1: Adults Only

Written By: Dawn - Jan• 03•14

empty nest

 

2014 is off and running and I am full of goals and ambition!

In addition to posting more often (don’t cringe) I’ll be featuring special categories this  year. The first one debuts today- Feathering Your Empty Nest. 2014 is the year The Better Half and I officially become Empty Nesters. All year I’ll be chronicling the transition from daily family hood to parenting adult children. I expect it to be a emotional and sometimes bumpy ride, but one all parents must take.

Officially our parenting journey began when Big Boy was born nearly 21 years ago, but earlier this week we took a big step on the road to the Empty Nest with Little Bug’s 18th Birthday celebration

IMG_2399

 

 

We now have four adults in the house. Although the dictionary says a child is a son or daughter of any age, I have a hard time thinking of my sons as children  given their age and size. However, if I were to judge solely on behavior, I suspect they’ll be child-like forever.

An advantage to having more than one child is that the older one breaks you in a bit. When we dropped Big Boy off at his college dorm room that first year Little Bug wrapped his arm around me and said, “Don’t worry Mom you still have me.” I continued to sob for another fifteen minutes, but his kind words helped ease the pain of the goodbye. Within a week we’d all adjusted to having one less person in the house.

Come fall, I will not have another child to reassure me of anything when we drop Little Bug off at school. I may need to bring the dog because his unconditional love would come in handy and spreading some dog hair in the dorm room will make LB feel more at home, right?

Last night we sat down to a rare family dinner during the Winter Break that has three of us off school. Technically there were four adults at the table. Before too long the conversation digressed into sibling bickering that folded into the best mood enhancer ever-bodily noises.

These are the parenting moments that leave you speechless as you try and grasp how so much can be different and yet remain exactly the same.

I hope you enjoy following me through 2014. In addition to my parenting journey I’ll be updating readers on my writing through Page Girl:Musings on Writing posts. I’m set to finish the Stanford Creative Writing Certificate Program this spring and then begin the process of querying agents, something I haven’t done since 2009. My novel is much better now than it was then.

In addition to these new features, I’ll continue to post about my football life through Pigskin Princess posts and my geek adventures through It’s All Geek To Me.

Thanks to taking time out of your busy schedule to visit Method To the Madness and Happy New Year!

Pigskin Princess #5: A Tale of Two Game Days

Written By: Dawn - Oct• 30•13

princess

 

 

It’s hard to believe, but my football season has come to an end. Like last year, I thought I’d pen several blog posts about my experiences, but fatigue always won out.

I went into this season hoping to demonstrate more confidence and knowledge on the field. It was fine to stand in the background last season and take it all in, but if I couldn’t start doing more, I didn’t see much of a future for me in coaching.

And while I’ve always believed my presence on the team has been a blessing, I never would have predicted the opportunity I was given during the last three weeks of our season.

I work primarily with our B Team- the new-to-football kids, the slow kids, the kids who can’t remember plays and the kids whose parents are forcing them to play. For a new coach like myself, this is ideal. I’m new to football, I’m a slow learner and  I haven’t memorized all the plays either.

I work with a wonderful man named Ron and together we give our guys what they need- conditioning, fundamentals and positive reinforcement in hope that they stick with football and get better each season.

This year the head coach scheduled two B Team games for us to play. The idea is to play other developmental teams to give the players valuable game experience. Last year the B Team finished 0-2-1.

This year for our games I would be running the offense and Ron would run defense and special teams. What????

The head coach said if I didn’t want to do it, he would. I replied, “Why am I out here if I’m not willing to be scared?”

And boy was I scared. Shitless actually. With good reason.

The first game went like this-

groening

 

We were out matched, out played and definitely out coached.

While I hadn’t made the mistake of thinking my first game would go off without a hitch, I certainly  didn’t expect the 60-0 pounding we took (at least not until after we completed our first offensive series).

For my own part, I ran the ball of fourth down when we were on their thirty yard line, ran the same plays over and over again even after it became clear their defense could easily read our formations  and watched as my backup quarterback struggled to get the hand-offs right, the result of me not letting him practice much because I was so sure our starting quarterback would last the entire game without needing a breather.

On defense we played with twelve men, ten and as few as nine on more than one occasion. The referees showed us some grace and let ALL of those mistakes slide.

So what the heck happened out there? Ron and I had been on the sideline for many games by this point. But being there and running the show are two very different things, as I learned. The best way to describe it is to show you this clip form the third Pirates of the Caribbean  movie when the evil Beckett meets his end. Watch how he moves silently and slowly, while chaos erupts around him.

That’s how it felt being out there, being responsible and being on display, warts and all, for my players, my colleagues and the parents to see. So much was happening around me, I felt at times like I was trying to grab a single leaf in the middle of a tornado. I couldn’t wait for it to be over and yet I knew I wanted to do it again, at least once, to see if I could do better.

As we walked off the field my Head Coach, Dennis, put his arm around me and said, “My first season coaching I went 0-9.”

I’m pleased to say we all learned from that first game. Last week we played our second game against our district rivals.

baltimore-ravens-win-super-bowl

 

The final score was 13-0- us!

Ron and I managed the game better. We played a team more evenly matched to ours. And I had added options on all of our formations so we were less predictable.

I can’t help but wonder if we hadn’t experienced the agony of defeat, would this victory have tasted as sweet?

I thought I chose to coach football because I love the game and working with kids. I think that’s only half of it. I think I chose to be on the field because I needed to step away from my comfort zone. It’s far too easy to live day-to-day quietly going about your business.

As a writer I have to bring authenticity  to my work and there’s no better way to do it than living a full life.

Sometimes, as I discovered on the football field, the worst of times is merely a prelude to the best of times.

Go Huskies! B Team 2013 1-1

 

Banned Books: In the Hand of the Beholder

Written By: Dawn - Sep• 25•13

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Welcome to the American Library Association’s annual Banned Book week where we celebrate what it means to read in the United States!

In preparing for this post I looked up the 2012 Top Ten Challenged Books and was surprised to discover Dav Pilkey’s Captain Underpants series at the top of the list. With titles like Captain Underpants and the Big, Bad Battle of the Bionic Booger Boy Part 1: The Night of the Nasty Nostril Nuggets (Pt.1) I can’t fault people for being skeptical or concerned but given that the first book came out in 1997, I expected a more current title, with more graphic content (as compelling as nasal secretions are, we all know stickier situations exist).

Confession time- this librarian banned Captain Underpants in our home. Back in the day (early 2000’s) when I read to my boys every night, I brought home one of the books because I knew they were popular, especially with boys. (Boogers!) I read one chapter and stopped. It wasn’t that I minded the potty humor (As the mom of two boys how could I not?) but I hated the way the adults and kids spoke to one another. Neither side had respect for the other and that’s what I wanted banned from the house.

Pilkey is a hugely successful author both commercially and critically, his picture book The Paperboy was a Caldecott Honor Book. His books continue to be favorites of school-age readers which shows me that had I been willing to finish reading an entire book of his, I might have read more. You could call what I did censorship, but I’d prefer to call it parenting.

The books that continue to be challenged (like The Hunger Games, To Kill A Mockingbird and most recently Ralph Ellison’s classic Invisible Man) are as popular and relevant as ever. Why? It’s quite simple- people connect to the characters and story. As a writer it’s my job to create characters that readers can relate to and root for. It’s the level of connection that creates bestsellers or classics. Captain Underpants makes kids laugh and gets reluctant readers to enjoy, perhaps for the first time, a chapter book. Is that a bad thing?

Books are a form of art and art is subjective, but all art tells a story. Sadly many of the stories about the human condition involve pain, war, death and a host of other upsetting topics. Keep in mind that where there’s darkness, light will follow.

Parents should feel comfortable being informed and involved in  media choices for their own children. Just remember, the book that offends you might very well be a life-saver for someone else.