Providing the Perfect Care for your Child

Connecticut Parent, Feb 2015 issue
Connecticut Parent, Feb 2015 issue
Connecticut Parent Feb 2015's issue
Connecticut Parent Feb 2015’s issue

For the second time, Connecticut Parent has chosen one of my articles for publication. For more articles from them, please click here.

2014 in review

I’ve been remiss in posting, dear reader. For that I’m so very sorry. Fortunately, the WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog, which has inspired me to dust off the cobwebs and give this site a bit of love. I hope I have the time/energy to make it happen. In the meantime, hug someone today. 🙂

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 390 times in 2014. If it were a cable car, it would take about 7 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

Meet My Magazine

I would like to invite all of you to meet my magazine! I know I haven’t posted much over here lately, but I’ve been rather busy trying to launch ReMemories Magazine. Please consider this a ‘soft launch’ with the hope of publishing every Friday (and possibly in between). No, I’m not making any money off of it. Yes, I’d love feedback and contributions. Tomorrow will officially kick off the first (albeit small) publication, so stay tuned!

Have a meaningful day!

Santa Sightings in Portland!

This story originally appears on TodaysMama – Portland.

I admit it, my kids (and I) have always hated going to see Santa in the mall. From the long lines, to the crying children around us, it’s never been our idea of a jolly good time. Add my lack of zeal for shopping and you can imagine how hard it was for my kids to talk me out of taking them again this year. But that doesn’t mean I want to take Santa out of the Christmas equation entirely! Instead, we’re on the lookout for Santa sightings in Portland (sans malls).  And we’re not talking about the rogue-Santa impostors roaming the city for SantaCon either! We’re talking the jolly ol’ fat man that will listen carefully to your child’s secret holiday wish (or, at the very least, take their tears in stride).

Here’s my list of Santa sightings to come around town during the last week before Christmas. If I’ve forgotten any, please, let me know! Add it to the comments below.

Portland Children’s Museum
4015 SW Canyon Rd, Portland
Dec. 20-21, 5-8 pm

Pre-registration is required for this event, but if you do you will have VIP access to the big man himself! One on one contact and no lines! Plus, there will be story times, ornament decorating crafts and even a holiday scavenger hunt! Come out of the cold rain and enjoy the warm, winter-themed museum.

Mooey Christmas
6149 SW Shattuck, Portland
Dec. 20-22, all day

Alpenrose Dairy’s Storybook Lane offers professional photos with Santa. While you still have to stand in line to see Santa, at least you’re doing so amongst a beautiful backdrop of over 300 decorated live trees, live animals, festive music and train displays. You won’t get bored here and admission is free!

Santa House
Pioneer Courthouse Square (corner of Morrison and Broadway)
Cedar Hills Crossing (3205 SW Cedar Hills Blvd)
Dec. 18-23, 11 am-9 pm and Dec. 24, 11 am-5 pm

With rain tents and hot chocolate, standing in line to see Santa here doesn’t seem so bad after all. Plus, they’re around on Christmas Eve and I don’t have to go to the crazy-frenzied mall to see Santa!

Special thanks to my dear friends, The Curreys, for letting me use their ‘Happy’ Holidays 2013 Christmas picture. I hope all of you have a very merry Christmas full of joy and good tidings – and no coal!

'Happy' Holidays from The Curreys 2013
‘Happy’ Holidays from The Curreys 2013

Giving Tuesday: Portland Neighborhood Focus

Giving Tuesday - Portland
Giving Tuesday – Portland

To read the full post, please click here.

Giving Tuesday: Our Neighbors
Have you heard of Giving Tuesday? It is a wonderful counter balance to Black Friday, Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday. This new tradition was started [here] to help bring back the focal point from how much you can receive, to how much you can give to those in need. While many communities are focusing on specific charities and organizations to highlight for Giving Tuesday, I’ve decided to pay homage to a lesser-hyped, yet equally important group of individuals: our neighbors.

Homelessness
Once upon a time, when I was a young child, my mom, sister and I were homeless for a brief period. It didn’t last very long, but it was uncomfortable to say the least. We had a car and blankets and “stuff” in boxes and storage, but nowhere that was ‘ours’ to lay our heads. My mom contemplated whether she had enough money to drive hundreds of miles back to her mom’s house, or whether she had too much pride to do so… read more.

It’s the Little Things

This article was originally published here: http://www.kindredvine.com/?p=596
LittleThingsImage
My son has never really enjoyed parties. He will often go, if asked, but certainly never wishes to have one of his own. His twelfth birthday was no exception. It doesn’t stop me from asking, but his answer is invariably “no thank you.”

In lieu of a party, we as a family took him out to dinner to the restaurant of his choosing. We then came home and had our traditional birthday brownies and presents. Not a lot of presents, really, because what my son asked for from everyone was money. He’s saving for his own computer and wanted nothing but money from family and friends. There were a few packages and a few more envelops on the table.

One by one, the pile of money grew before his eyes. A twenty here, a ten there. Everyone once in a while there would be a fifty or – gasp! – a hundred dollar bill. He was very appreciative, and I was very relieved/proud. You see, just the week before I had to give him a bit of a talking to about being grateful. Gratitude seems to be in short supply in our country, and seems to be dwindling to almost nothing within my almost-teenage son and I had had enough.

Finally, it was time to clean up and get ready for bed – or so we thought. At the last moment, his little sister pulled out her homemade gift for him: she made him a birthday card (complete with a cartoon and private joke), and carefully wrapped eleven cents she then put in a special homemade birthday gift bag.

After watching his pile of money grow, my daughter had shrunk further and further in her chair at the table. By the time he actually opened her present, she was in tears and sobbed, “I’m sorry! I searched my entire room and that’s all the money I have.” I admit, at this moment? I held my breath. Having dealt with my son’s lack of gratitude on a steady basis for the last month or so, I was prepared for the worst.

“That’s okay Sarah,” he said gently. After a slight pause, he continued, “you’ve actually given me the most of all! You see, everyone else gave me some of their money; but you’ve given me all of yours.” She looked up at him across the table, tears streaming down her face. He walked over to her and gave her a hug.

Those are the moments I cherish the most as a mother. It’s always the little things that give me the most pleasure and gratitude for my life. On that day, I was grateful for the reminder that even when it seems as though I’m not getting through to my children, they are indeed learning something. My son remembered his gratitude at the last moment, and my daughter learned that sharing and giving is rewarded in the best way possible. Memories like these propel me forward to be the best mom and person I can be. I hope you find energy and hope in the little things in your daily life, too.

Heroic Teachers Deserve a Medal of Freedom

Every now and then I am very pleased with an article. Not necessarily for the artful way in which I may (or may not) have written it, but for the contents of the article. Spreading knowledge, solidarity and hope is so much more meaningful to me than whether or not I liked the newest gadget or if you should leave your pet with a sitter or a kennel. Here’s one of those articles: http://utahfamily.com/article.php?artID=702&sect=25. Please, enjoy!

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SEO Writing or Happenstance Writing

SEO Writing
image courtesy of: freedigitalphotos.net

So, there’s SEO writing and there’s writing that just happens to be SEO. Both are important, but these days I find myself leaning more towards the second. What’s the difference, you ask? Allow me to explain.

SEO Writing

SEO writing appeals to my rigid, formulaic sensibilities. The part of my brain that won’t allow me to go to bed until I’ve not only checked all the locks in the house, but touched them as well.  There are three basic tenants to SEO writing: you must include your keywords/phrases in three-four strategic places, saturating approximately 5-15% of the body of your text, and not use overtly common words (like “SEO Writing”). You need to include your key words in your meta tags, your descriptions, your tweets, your texts, your posts… etc. Rinse and repeat. Simple enough.

Happenstance Writing

What I love most of all, however, is happenstance writing. Writing that just happens to have SEO within its lovely lines is a thing of beauty. I liken it to me baking: we have a love/hate relationship. If my cake happens to come out of the oven ‘just right’, I am filled with a sense of fist-pumping satisfaction. It looks and tastes great. But, if the cake doesn’t rise – or tastes just awful – I tend to shrug my shoulders, toss it and try again. I’ll evaluate my ingredients and fill with self-doubt. Did I add too much sugar? Not enough baking powder? I will keep at it until I’m (mostly) satisfied with it. Or until I can slather on enough icing to at least drown out the mistakes… but I digress.

You see, I love to read. I love to read more than I love to write. Which says a lot, really. I read/write all day long – it’s how I make a living. It puts food (and cake) on the table for my children and keeps them housed and clothed. I am very fortunate to be able to wield words and successfully turn a profit from them.

Sometimes, I will admit, I don’t love what I write. I’ve sort of ingested the SEO formula and it tends to subconsciously bleed out of my fingertips and into my text. I’ll evaluate the ingredients in my text to make sure I have the correct SEO ratio, etc. That’s okay, for the most part. But it has tainted my ability to read others’ work without honing in on their SEO writing formula/techniques. Critiquing them, admiring them, getting lost in the backbones of the writing rather than the article itself.

Sweet Spot

I admire a writer that has successfully written an article that has kept me captivated without letting their SEO slip show. I love feeling like I can just relax and let the words slip past my tongue like a lovely cup of coffee – revitalizing me. I keep striving for that proverbial sweet spot in my writing.  Some days it eludes me, while other days I can simply let the words flow forth and everything I write is golden.

One of these days, I hope all of my most successful work will feel more like happenstance writing with SEO inside, rather than SEO writing that will be flat and tasteless. Until then, dear readers, you’ve all been duly warned: I’m armed with icing and I know how to use it!

Freelance Writer, Editor and Creative Consultant

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