Friday, May 30, 2014

Teach Your Children Well

I live in New Jersey. The beach is not far away. When I walk on the beach--which is often--I pick up shells. Until I retired, I taught young children and I used to save the shells and put them into a big box. I brought the box to school to use the shells for projects with the kiddies in my class. I did that every year around this time. Without fail, every year someone would ask me, "Where did you get those?"

That anyone who lives here would ask this question never ceased to amaze me. True, some of the shells were picked up on Sanibel Island and a few other Florida beaches. However, the majority of them came from the local beaches right here in NJ.

The kiddies all knew they were seashells, but none of the kiddies knew the names of the different types of shells. They could not tell a moon snail from a mussel--which I think is very, very sad. My own daughters grew up with Golden Nature Guides and Audubon Society Field Guides. They knew the names of various trees, birds, flowers, as well as shells.

Even a five year old can learn the difference between a scallop shell and an oyster shell. Sadly, many of the parents didn't know the difference either--and worse--they didn't care. How many future scientists never got a chance to blossom because Mom or Dad didn't have a field guide?

Pick up a shell. If you don't know the name of it, look it up. Show your children how to do it. Today it is even easier with the internet. You don't have to own a field guide.

The world is full of variety. Get to know the intricate, delicate, beautiful world you live in.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Sign Up For My Newsletter

This is the newsletter I sent out yesterday. I send out newsletters on a quarterly basis--or sometimes less than that. I usually include a photograph I've taken, contest news, my upcoming talks, or book signings.

In addition, there's always a recipe or a tip about my latest Do-It-Yourself project.

I include book news as well. Sometimes there's a scene from one of my books or a short story.

I strive to entertain, but I like to keep it brief, too. Everyone is busy these days. :-)

If you would like to receive my newsletter, please sign up at my website from the link below:

I'm hoping to hear from you.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

More Than Good Luck

After my brother died in 1973, my mother began finding four-leaf clovers. Not just a few here and there, but lots of them--for years, everywhere. She would press them and then place them between sheets of waxed paper and iron them so they would be preserved. I demonstrated the use of clear contact paper to her and she started saving them that way. She shared her four-leaf clovers with everyone. I always had at least one in my wallet. I don't know that it brought me any special luck but somehow just having it made me feel good because my mother found it and she gave it to me. Finding the special plants lightened her heart since my brother's death was a terrible blow.

When Mom passed away, I found several sheets of preserved four-leaf clovers tucked away here and there in my parents' house. I gave them away to my daughters and whoever wanted them. Every now and then, I still come across them in my own home--like yesterday when I was cleaning in my kitchen.

On Saturday, I saw the one picture above embedded in the polyurethane covering the wood of the table in one of my favorite casual restaurants.  I've eaten at that restaurant several times. I've even sat at that same table, but I didn't notice it until Saturday.  And I didn't see it until we had finished eating and were ready to leave.

I'm sure the owner figured the little token was good luck.

For me, it was something more. I got a warm feeling that maybe it was a sign from my mother. Maybe Mom was there with us as we shared our meal. Why not?

There  are those who don't believe in coincidences, but I do. Especially since my mother could look at the same patch of clover as everyone else, but she found the special one. It brought her comfort and hope.

That's what faith does. Comfort and hope lend us strength. But sometimes we need a little boost--and we can find that if we keep our eyes open.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Writing is like...

...playing with dolls--only there are no dolls. There are characters in my head and I manipulate them while writing down the scenes.

At least, that's the way I see it.

Friday, May 09, 2014

A Mother's Love Is Like Glue

That's my mom on the left holding Daughter #2. Hubby's mom is on the right holding Daughter #1. The photo was taken in 1981, so Daughter #3 had not appeared on the scene yet. After having my own children, I learned what a tough job it is to be a mom, but I was lucky because when the going got tough, I had help.

Happy Mother's Day to all the moms for all you do--and you do a lot.

Friday, May 02, 2014

In Support of Nursing Mothers

I painted this portrait almost thirty years ago. A friend agreed to pose for me with her baby. I took several photos and used those as my references. I had longed to capture the sweet moment of a mother nursing her infant because I had experienced it in caring for my own three daughters.

There are mothers who cannot nurse their babies and there are mothers who do not wish to do so. In this fast-paced world, women hold down a full-time jobs and few companies have lenient policies that allow their employees time off for motherhood, which is a shame.

I was fortunate. My husband carried the burden of working full time while I stayed home for several years to care for our daughters. We didn't go on grand vacations--in fact, we didn't go anywhere. We bought used cars and a lot of other used stuff. Whatever extra money we had, we put into our daughters' college funds.

I nursed each of my daughters for an entire year. I do not regret that time. I cherish the memories.

There are those who think this is a sexually explicit picture. I feel sorry for them. There are few activities sweeter or more innocent than breast-feeding an infant. Breast milk is an all-natural food for infants. It's free, too.

I was breastfed. I like to think I gathered up some of my mother's creativity that way. When I was nursing my own daughters, I dreamed up several books.

Mother's Day is nine days away. Mothers everywhere will get cards, phone calls, presents, and be treated to dinner. I like all that, too. However, in addition to being able to give birth to my daughters, the most wondrous gift I ever received was the time to nurse my babies.

It was a great blessing.