Thursday, April 28, 2011

A Letter to my Daughter

Dear Teenage Daughter,

You are my first born. The first. What this means is that I've never, ever given a child permission to go riding in someone's "sweet ride". Words can't possibly explain how my heart feels when you trot off and get in the passenger seat of your newly-liscenced friend's car.
You are the first bird to ever launch out of my nest. I'm not quite experienced at all of this yet.

You are going to be the first for many things. This is important for you to understand.
I know that you think that it's not fair. I mean you didn't ask for 4 siblings. And truth be told that wasn't my plan for you either. But here we both are. Can't we try and make the best of it?

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Author Rachel Friedman also suggests the memior book!

As I do some evenings,

after I get the twins bathed and off to bed,
after I've checked over my sons' homework,
after I've cleaned the kitchen,
and after the dog goes out,

I do what I do almost every evening...squeeze in some 'free' reading time.

As of lately I've been engrossed with online reading. That is blogs, tweets, how to promote your media presence, what not to write about, what to write about, etc. etc. etc.

Well I was pretty excited to find that someone else out there also promotes Bill Roorbach's memior how-to book. Look:

Guide to Literary Agents - 7 Things I've Learned So Far, by Rachel Friedman

I also found this blog post to be very good. Some how-to-be-a-better-writer blogs have the same steps in them. This added a few I was not yet aware of; testimonials and guest posts. I'm excited to consider this new option.

So if anyone wants me to be a guest blogger on their site...I'd be happy to oblige. I'll return the favor!
and if anyone wakes up in the morning with an unshakable desire to write about my awesomeness, that too will be posted on my site.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Today's Thoughts

We celebrated "National Screen Free Week" in our home this week.
It lasted 2.5 days.
So I guess you could say we celebrated 2 Screen Free Days.

on day 2 of screen free-ness (i.e. that is avoiding all things with a screen) I was sitting on one end of the couch watching my husband read on the other end of it.

He was reading Love Wins by Rob Bell. Quite a controversial book in certain circles these days. (I read it last week). And since I wasn't watching T.V. and I was tired of reading and I couldn't get on the computer to blog about it, update or tweet it.....I just watched my husband read.

It was slightly awkward.
And boring.
So there I am staring at him and then the book.
And then him. Then the book.
ok, I'll get to the point.
This is the photo on the back cover of Love Wins:
And I like it.
I mean it's not your typical "Hey!-look-at-me-I'm-a-author-headshot"
ya know?
And then I got to thinking, I think my first book - if there ever is a first book - is gonna have a classy picture of me on it. Not some boring, run of the mill head shot. I wonder...would it be of me speaking? Maybe! I mean I do do that. But... does that capture who I am? Nah.
Oh, I know! I'll have a photo taken of me arms open wide with one of my children running towards me and their hair will wave in the wind.
Now that would be GORgeous! Except my kids are too old to run towards me with adoration.
I don't ride horses. I hate dogs.
It can't be a photo of me in an apron in my kitchen because I'm A.) pretty certain it won't be a cook book and B.) I hate the wallpaper in my kitchen.

I have no hobbies, am never in nature and ....................(crap! I'm so boring I don't even know how to finish that sentence!)
How 'bout me holding a fantastic mug of steamy coffee while I am laughing?
Oh now THAT's me!

Literally. That's me in Czech a few years ago!

Do you think my double chin will show? On my jacket cover? Can they edit that out? Think I"m putting the cart before the horse?

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

The Cherries are Coming!

This picture might not mean a thing to you
but it means the world to me.

Maybe you can't distinguish what kind of blossoms these are
but I'll never forget.

It's quite probable that you can't possibly fathom giving my blog entry a second thought
but nothing else is on my mind today.

You see, this is a cherry tree. It's located on the broadway of my front yard. It's probably seven - maybe eight - years old and never, has it ever blossomed.

Some told us you can't have a single cherry tree - that we needed two for pollination purposes.

Some pointed out that the tree was sick. And indeed it has a gaping wound in it's trunk that appears to be 'leaking' sap.

We googled and investigated but we were never certain as to why our precious tree was barren. One year we had a single blossom. Last year, the tree budded a few flowers. But this year.... this year.... just look!

I was so accostomed to the cherry tree not producing fruit that I hadn't even realized the tree had blossomed this spring. I've been so disappointed with this tree that I completely put it out of my mind that it could ever possibly bear fruit.

Isn't that sad? I forgot to expect cherries from my cherry tree.

Will we get cherries this year? It looks like it. I certainly hope so. I hope that our tree is bountiful. I hope I can make a pie. I hope that this tree is a sign of things to come in my life. I hope all the barren fruitless areas of my life are on the verge of blossoming. I hope the tree of my life is about to burst forth with a sweet fragrance and glorious beauty.

Is it possible? We'll see.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Today's Thoughts

Most of the stuff I write never gets put 'out there' and I am wrestling through that.

Because there is some stuff I'm willing to let some people know but there is a whole lot I'm not willing to let anybody know.

But here's the thing....the stuff that's heavy on my heart - the stuff that dominates my thought life is so personal and deeply meaningful ...
well, it's just too risky to to post to the world wide web
and yet, it's the stuff that comes so naturally to me.

In the midst of crisis, for example, I have no problem letting the words flow. When my heart is aching my fingers fly across the keyboard. Even in moments of elation, I enjoy converting the blinking cursor into a row of descriptive adjectives.

But I won't let you read it.

But it may be my best work.

And that's what I'm thinking about today.

What about you? How do you filter through what to post?

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Me thinking about Writing

Have you ever noticed that when something is in your heart or on your mind that it appears in snippets of reminders in every aspect of your life?
Like when you miss someone and throughout your day you see constant reminders of them
when you're contemplating a big decision and everywhere you turn you hear a word or phrase that reminds you of your quandary
when you are wrestling with taking action in your life and suddenly every t.v. show, talking head and song on the radio seems to be aware of your specific issue?

or maybe it's just me.

Actually, I think it's quite possible that whatever it is that has captured your mental energies isn't necesarily making more of an appearance in your life. It just may be that you're more attuned ... more sensative, if you will, to said idea. I think it's possible we sit down to a movie, thinking about our feeling, and subconsciously listen to the lines and actors looking for a recognition on the screen that speaks to us.

Take me for example. In my spare time (ha!) I think about writing.
What to write.
Why I write.
When can I write.
What are my expectations about being a writer....
a famous writer, an undiscovered writer.
etc. etc.

It's really a smidge exhausting.
But last night I sit down to nurse a bowl of popcorn and I come across this episode of Parenthood:

"Where have I seen your work before?" he asks.
She laughs.

I laugh.

I also write.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Twitter Tweaks

I have a love/hate relationship with Twitter. 

Why I LOVE it: I didn’t join on a whim. I actually tossed the idea around in my head for quite awhile. I couldn’t think of a cool catch name though and after months I just settled on being me: @steph_sikorski. When I created an account I simultaneously created an alter ego with a white canvas. I could create any persona I wanted. I took who I would follow with grave seriousness. I hesitantly typed in people or things I was interested in. It felt kinda like picking which group in high school you wanted to be associated with.

I’m a mom, did I want to connect with all the mommy bloggers out there? I am developing my writing skills, maybe I should look for publishers and authors. I am a former leader in the church, what about connecting with that group? I’ve do some work in Europe with women’s leadership conferences, how does one search that on Twitter? But then there’s my job in early education and I love to cook and I eat and read and take pictures and have a dog …..

And that’s why I HATE Twitter. Sure @steph_sikorski can be whoever she wants to be but do I know who I want to be? How I wish to be perceived? Do I want the Twitter world to know all about me or part of me? And what part? And how does that jive with being my true authentic self? Can anybody be authentic on Twitter?

But I LOVE twitter because I’ve tweeted people that I would never otherwise have an opportunity to speak with. How exciting! @donmilleris replied me! @earlyeducation found me when I tweeted up at a conference recently! I blogged about stained glass and someone sent me a photo they had taken of a gorgeous window. I’ve learned more about blogging and writing and what to expect from publishers from good folks like @frankviola, @writersdigest, @jonacuff and most recently @MichaelHyatt.

However I HATE the voracious intake of information. At the end of the day sometimes I can’t remember if I read a statistic online, in the paper or if it was on the radio this morning. I find myself often saying, “I learned (fill in the blank)”, but for the life of me can’t remember what rabbit hole I traveled down to acquire such knowledge.

image from
But I LOVE -just love- how in minutes I can obtain information from almost 50 people (the wee size of my following list). Everything from world headlines to which tribe member is getting voted off Survivor in a practically instantaneous click of the BlackBerry!

However I’ll be damned if I don't type, retype and retype again my update over and over again. 140 characters seems like an impossibility to this wordy gal (as evidenced by the size of this blog entry right?). I’m pretty sure editing myself is making me a better writer though but man, I HATE how much time I have to think, rethink, type and retype one lil'ol seemingly insignificant thought.

Despite my mixed feelings for the little blue bird I think Twitter and I will definitely be continuing our relationship. As it is in the beginning of any courtship I remain on my best behavior. Revealing only what I want to be revealed until I feel safe and welcomed. In the meantime I tweet on, loving and hating every minute of it! 

What about you - what do you love best/hate worst about Twitter?

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Rantings of a Frustrated Schizophrenic

I couldn’t be more frustrated right now.

I think I’ve seriously lost the Bill Roorbach book that has been my motivation for working on my writing dreams. The same book my darling hubby gave me for Valentine's Day (he also just gave me an early Mother's Day present - a vacuum). I found the journal that I use when working on the book. I tend to keep them side by side. I’ve looked in the freezer like one of my followers suggested. I’ve looked in every bag I’ve ever carried, in every book pile, in my husband’s book pile…I can’t find it and I am super frustrated.

My most recent blogs on this site have been more random entries (that have been duplicated on my personal website) than actual pieces of work than the exercises I want to be writing that move me toward writing a memoir. A blog here. A blog there. Duplicated here and there. It all makes me feel so schizophrenic.

Now I'm a frustrated schizophrenic.

I will say however, even though it may not necessarily be reflected in these entries, that I’ve been keeping in mind this goal; “To Write a Better Story”.

To my credit I have:
  • Been writing everyday (if you include using the memo app on my Blackberry and the back of the scratch paper I can’t find)
  • Redesigned our website
  • Increased my web presence
  • Obtained a whopping 35 followers on Twitter
  • Commented on other blogs when appropriate
  • and continue to write for my weekly parenting column

  • Working 34 hours a week
  • Researching feed burners& site improvement techniques for my ‘other’ job
  • Trying to say what I mean in 140 characters
  • Getting sidetracked reading so many great bloggers
  • And wondering if my voice is worth adding to the conversation
  • Oh yeah, I don’t own my own computer
  • And am dangerously wading into the ocean of html (is there a lifeguard on duty?)

I’m a frustrated schizophrenic who is beginning to feel a smidge overwhelmed.

Where is that #$!* book??

ADDENDUM: get out! 10 minutes after penning this blog I found the book. It was in a bag that I only use on Wednesday when visiting the waiting room of the local health department giving away free children's books to families receiving their food coupons. Oh! Happy Day! 

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

thanks 4 the nod

Trying to post an entry from my blackberry. It was tuesday so my article was in the paper but also our first softball practice. Which meant I was hanging with other parents of 6 year olds. With my back to the wind and my jacket zipped tight I fielded a handful of compliments. And it never gets old. I appreciate every person who takes the time to tell me they read my submission. Sometimes folks say they even love it. I love that of course. So to every soul who's ever taken the time to mention my lil opinion column "thanks! Thanks a lot!" It really means more than you know!

Disappointment is...well, disappointing

(this article appeared in the 4/5/11 edition of the Review Atlas as a part of my weekly Practical Parenting series)

Disappointment is a funny thing. Despite your many attempts to ward it off it is an inevitable fact of life. And it sucks.

As a parent, it is one thing when I am disappointed, but when it happens to my kid – well, it feels like my heart is ripped from chest and smeared all over the floor.

Is it beneficial for parents to protect their children from disappointment? To what lengths should we go when our children are feeling disillusioned? Can an ice cream cone make it all better?

First, we must be very careful with our attitudes as they convey a hefty message to our children. What do our children learn if we behave like they are brightest, the best and the most deserved star of every show? Of course you think your child is fantastic but we must be cautious when registering for events. I think of all the moral characteristics we wish to instill in our children a sense of entitlement is not necessarily one of them.

Take being a part of a team for example. Do you tend to think your child should be the starter? Or could you consider that the point of playing sports is for exercise, developing muscle skills and learning team concepts? Parents who insult coaches for the sake of promoting their own child’s skills (or lack thereof) above the benefit of the team frustrates me.

The world is not going to cater to your child. I know you want it to and in a perfect world maybe it should. But let’s be realistic. Future bosses will probably not make grandiose exceptions for your child’s potential awesomeness. Instead they will have to work hard, clock in on time, overcome obstacles, frustrating personalities and even unfair circumstances in the real world. Are we preparing them for this type of future when we make today’s path smooth sailing?

Listen, I am an absolute softie. It kills me when my kids get their feelings hurt or worse, they are subject to unfair treatment. As much as it is within my power I try to treat my kids with respect and raise them in such a manner that they will excel and rise to the top of the class. But I know this won’t always be the case. I know there will be that teacher or that coach who will not love, challenge and serve my child as much as I think they should.

But rather than ward off those experiences, I want to – as hard as it is – to embrace them as learning opportunities for my children. My kid didn’t get the lead in the play. She has been embarrassed in front of her peers. He was benched last season. That one invitation never came. We’ve been ignored in the grocery store. A rude comment was made and they’ve been taunted on the playground.

God makes the life fertile by disappointments,
as he makes the ground fertile by frosts.
Henry Ward Beecher

How I deal with these moments, I believe, are imperative to raising healthy, happy, well adjusted adults. In moments of injustice I never pat my kid on the head and buy them a new toy. I don’t want to pretend something bad didn’t happen. Nor do I don’t want to convey that a gift makes everything better. I actually allow my kids to feel the weight of disappointment. Believe me, it hurts very much. Sometimes we even cry together.

Clearly, my goal is not to protect my kids from every sad thing in life. Instead if they grow up understanding what disappointment and unfair treatment feels like it may make them better people. I hope to raise children who grow into adults that will be sensitive, will fight against cruelty and can identify when a loved one is hurting.

Maybe I’m off on this one. I do tend to be a bit na├»ve. What I know is this - I will not trivialize my child’s pain with a trip to Dairy Queen. Why? Because I’m my kid’s mom and I said so! That’s why!

Stephanie is a Parent Educator and mother of 5 children. She can be reached at ssikorski@mr238

Monday, April 4, 2011

O Where O Where

Has anybody moved my book?
Seriously, where did it go?

Sunday, April 3, 2011

T.V. Time helped not hindered Tribe Time

I forget how not normal we are.
With the youngest two kids gone for the evening the remaining five of us took advantage of the quiet quieter house. (Keep in mind our family refers to itself as a Tribe for a reason!) We tend to move through this life as one big herd unit (much to my tweenagers dismay).
That's why when some of us are gone we take advantage of it cease the moment.
That was the case tonight. With two less mouths to feed we ordered pizzas. An easy $12-$15 savings.
This is not to say we don't miss family members, we do!, but who can pass up ordering one less pizza ? Not us! Having the twins gone for the evening was a first - a rare moment in our lives. A moment we marked with take out.
We piled our plates with steaming pizza, filled our tumblers with pop and each found a seat in the family room 'round the t.v. and the big game.
As I found my spot on the sofa I said "Look at us! All eating in here"
"Yeah!" My teenager said without missing a beat "like normal families do!"
Its true. I never let my kids eat in front of the television. And by never I mean N.E.V.E.R.!!
Keep in mind that for 15 years my house has been full of kids. Young, messy, little people. Why would I let them wander 'round the house with food? Toddling around leaving a trail of crumbs like Hansel and Gretel? Why in my right mind would I make more work for myself?
And then there's the whole quality time/family meal issue. You've read the same stats as me: Kids who have sit down meals do better in school and avoid teen pregnancies.I don't make my kids eat meals with me to keep them from having sex. We we eat as a family because it seems wholesome and good. Because our t.v. is already on too much anyway. Because my kitchen is not a drive-thru and I'm not a short order cook. Because food is meant to be enjoyed and savored - not inhaled. Because conversation happens naturally when we are all sitting around the same table at the same time.
But you know a terrible thing didn't happen this particular night when we all gathered 'round the t.v.
We bonded. Despite the television.
Despite the distrations.
Even depsite the fact that we weren't all together....we had a fun evening of hanging out and cheering for our favorite team. Because we never eat in front of the t.v. it made eating in front of the t.v. special. Maybe I'm a hard nose about dinnertime but even I recognize that quality family time can come in unusual usual places.

Friday, April 1, 2011

A Grocery Date -

Does it count as a 'real date' if you go to the grocery store
with your spouse?

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