Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Girls in Sports in Books

My first completed novel is a book about Emily who loses her dad and refuses to continue playing softball. He was her softball coach and she can't imagine taking the field without him.

Why did I decide to write a book about girls playing softball? The general reason is because I strongly feel their needs to be more sports books for girls. The personal reason is my daughter has been playing softball for 4 years and I love to watch her play and love the sport as much as she does. She would look for sports books for girls in library and book stores and found very few and nothing about girls playing softball. Most are about girls playing on a boys baseball team. Sorry, not the same thing.

There are a lot of reasons girls either don't play sports or give up as they get older. Those who stay in sports tend to have greater success later in life. Sports gives girls confidence and self esteem especially in their teen years when they need it most.

Then why do they quit? One reason is that society still doesn't value female athletes. Female athletes are drastically underpaid as compared to male athletes. They aren't featured in as many sports drink commercials. This leads to girls thinking the don't belong in sports. In fact according to one study, 70 % of girls believe they don't belong in sports. Once we starting valuing female athletes as a society maybe this will change. Maybe they will start believing they should be playing sports.

I value female athletes and I want to reflect that in my writing for all the girls out there deciding whether or not they should continue playing. Maybe one day a young girl will be shopping for a book and see the cover of my book with a softball player on it. She may pick it up and decide to sign up for softball again that year. Or decide not to quit. She sees that her love of softball or sports validated in my book.  Representation matters in literature and right now it's not there for girls in sports.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Be Aggressive B-E Agressive

My son started basketball this winter. He loves sports. He always has since he was a little boy. I remember him sleeping with hockey sticks and baseballs like they were stuffed animals. He started tee ball when he was three and loved it. He's been doing Tae Kwon Do for three years as well.

The truth is, comparatively speaking, he's not the most athletic boy. He's only 7, but some boys his age are throwing and catching and shooting baskets like they've been doing it since they could walk. These boys have that natural athletic ability that my son just doesn't have.

Not that he couldn't be a good athlete. I firmly believe that if he practices and works hard at it he could catch up to those boys that have that natural athletic ability.  He's proven that he can be a good athlete with hard work. He has a brown belt in Tae Kwon Do and I fully expect him to be a black belt and 2 or 3 years.
(Incidently, that's all I care about when it comes to my children and sports. I just want them to try their best and work hard. Otherwise, what's the point.)

As the basketball season began this past November, it was clear that he was going to need some practice. He received a net for Christmas and we've had some decent weather these last few weeks that got him out shooting baskets. He was working hard enough at it but there was something missing from his game.

Aggression. He just wasn't aggressive enough on the court. He would stand to the side of the net and let the other team have it and watching the other kids make baskets. We began telling my son that he needed to be more aggressive when playing basketball.

A trait that at age 7 is required to be successful at sports, right? Really? Should we really be pushing our sons to be aggressive? What does aggressive mean anyway? The definition is "ready or likely to attack or confront." Really? I'm telling my kid to attack the other kids on the court?

He's a really sweet kid. Tae Kwon Do has taught him discipline and self restraint. Now we were telling him to forcefully go after the ball. I've told him all his short life to be kind to others and now I was telling him to be pushy and assertive.

As I watched my son stand to the side of the basket and as I yelled for him to get into the game and "be aggressive" I began to wonder if it was okay for him to not be aggressive. Maybe there was another way for him to be successful at sports. Or even (gasp) not to be successful at every sport. Or even be an athlete at all! He can be anything. Just like I tell my softball-obsessed daughter that she could be anything including an athlete.

He'll be fine. Basketball player or not. But I'm done sending him the message that his value is based on whether or not he is a good athlete or that he has to be aggressive to be a boy. Or, like any good parent (or young athlete), I'll try my best.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Dollar Store Baby

Another old post. My daughter was almost 3 at the time I wrote this. She is now 8 and doesn't play with baby dolls anymore. After I wrote this post I hid the spare baby dolls in the basement. She found them one day and I was at a loss to explain why they were there.

Annabelle's favorite baby doll is from the Dollar Store. 

She has a baby doll that says, "Mama" and makes sucking noises when a pacifier is placed in her mouth.

She has another one that is worn and well-loved but it is still only second best.

A baby doll from the Dollar Store.  One dollar! That's all it took for her to find true love.

She loved that baby doll so much it's head fell off.  Twice.  I caught her eating the stuffing out of one and hid it for awhile.  Then Santa brought her a new one.  Last week the head was coming off of this one as well. 

What's a Mom to do?

Annabelle really wanted to take the Dollar Store baby to daycare with her.  The baby doll's head was barely on and I had visions of it popping off at naptime and Annabelle having a complete meltdown. 

"No, let's leave her at home," I said and directed her to Second Best Baby Doll to take with her.

She carefully placed Dollar Store Baby Doll on the stairs and gently kissed her.

"Bye bye baby.  You'll be okay."

She just about broke my heart.

"Okay, you can take her in the car."

There we are in the car on the way to daycare with Annabelle holding Dollar Store Baby Doll in one arm and Second Best Baby Doll in the other.

"Annabelle. Mommy will take your baby to the doctor's today, Okay?"

"Okay, Mommy. But she doesn't need a shot!"

"Right. No shot."

This Mommy had a plan.  A plan to replace Dollar Store Baby Doll with as little tears as possible. 

I dropped the kiddos off at daycare, Annabelle with Second Best Baby Doll waiting for naptime. I headed to work and snuck out to the Dollar Store.  I carefully examined all the Baby Dolls to find one that had purple eyebrows and blue eyes and a limited chance of their heads popping off in the near future. 

Don't let the picture fool you. These baby dolls aren't cute. 

I left with four.  Four replacements.  Because chances are this baby doll wouldn't last either. 

I made the switch in the car and threw the Nearly Headless baby doll in the trash outside work. 

I picked Annabelle up from daycare and handing her the new Dollar Store Baby Doll.  As I passed her back to Annabelle I noticed something I hadn't before. 

I hadn't noticed the dent in the baby's head. 

I sat in the front seat wondering how this would go. Wondering if my very observant daughter would notice a head dent and wondering if a little lie ever hurt anyone.

"Mommy. Look! What happened?"

"Oh. She got a little bump on her head at the doctor's.  During the operation.  She's fine.  She was such a good girl at the doctor's.  And look I got her a new dress!"

"Because she was good at the doctor's?"

"Yes. Because she was such a good girl."

Monday, September 21, 2015

Sleeping Through the Night

I will be reposting old blog posts as I get back into the swing of writing and blogging here. The following is a post I wrote when I first started blogging here more than 5 years ago. My son was just a baby then and now he is six and still waking me up at night! He still needs me!

Here it is:

Dashiell is almost ten months and not sleeping through the night.  Not even close.  Last night he was up three times.  Usually he's up 2-3 times and I nurse him to sleep and I'm back in bed in twenty minutes.

This is completely intentional and I was reminded yesterday as to why.

I picked him up from daycare and as soon as I walked through the door he fell on his butt and started crying.  I ran over to him and swooped him up and gave him kisses galore. 

Then he reached his arms out to his teacher.

I won't lie and say this didn't bother me.  It did.  If this wasn't my second child I probably would have driven home in tears.

I told myself that this was a good thing.  He is happy there.  He spends a lot of time there and this particular teacher is wonderful and kind and loving.  We spend a lot of money to give our children the best possible care.

I also told myself that she's not there at midnight to hold him when he cries, I am.

She's not there at 3AM to rub his belly when he has gas, I am.

She can't nurse him to sleep, I can.

I'm not ready to give that up.  I would miss stumbling down the hall and swooping him up out of his crib and comforting him.

I don't get to do that during the day, she does.  I get him all night and I'm not about to let that go. Especially when I saw him reach out to another woman.

I should say I have very strong feelings about "crying it out" and teaching your child to soothe himself.  I don't think it needs to happen in the first year.  When my babies cry, I go to them.  I did the same with Annabelle and I don't regret it at all. 

I would have regretted the torment of letting her cry when there was something I could have done to stop it.  I would have regretted missing out on those middle of the night feedings because it was what I thought I needed or should have done.

I have a couple of months until I will start weaning.  Just a couple more months of pumping in the bathroom at work.  After that I know he won't get up as much and eventually not at all.  I know I'll miss it.

One day he won't need me at all.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Instagram Pictures #winter

Follow me on Instagram and see #winter pictures and pics of work in progress. 


Thursday, November 21, 2013

Photos 2013

Here are some of my favorite photos I've taken over the past year!
 Pittsburgh's South Side
 Pittsburgh's Sky Line

Journey Behind the Falls, Niagara Falls, Canada

Pink Flower


Friday, February 15, 2013

Fancy Nancy Grows Up!

Fancy Nancy Grows Up in the new Nancy Clancy chapter books. 
My daughter loves these books. 
She has loved Fancy Nancy for as long as I can remember. 

Nancy is spirited and fun and full of life. She takes "dressing up" to a whole new level. Every day she is decked in feathers and sequins and glitter. What little girl wouldn't love Fancy Nancy!

Now she has a new chapter book series. In "Nancy Clancy, Super Sleuth", she is a detective, complete with pink trench coat. She is busy solving crimes with her best friend Bree and the results are fun and adventurous. My daughter actually cried when it was over. Nancy is a terrific character and I think my daughter bonded with her while reading it. She was so sad when it was over. 

In the Book 2 of the series, "Nancy Clancy, Secret Admirer," she is trying to get two teenagers to fall in love. I finished reading this to Annabelle in less than a week. It was simply charming. Again, Nancy is such a fun character. She gets into all kinds of trouble trying to arrange the two star-crossed lovers. The result is hilarious and unexpected! 

I love reading chapter books to Annabelle. She is 5 but she has such a rich vocabulary from being read too. She loves listening to me read and I love reading to her. What a great experience for us both!

Thursday, February 14, 2013

I'm glad she wasn't one of those kids

I'm a little late in posting this but here it is... While watching the Super Bowl I was moved, as I'm sure many of my readers were, by the Newtown, Connecticut kids singing "America the Beautiful."
My daughter is 5 almost 6. She is beautiful. She is smart. She is precious. Just like all children are to their parents. I can't ever imagine taking a breath without her. I can't ever imagine the heartache of the parents the children of Sandy Hook feel each day. I hope I never have to.

When the children of Sandy Hook sang at the Super Bowl my daughter walked into the room and said, "I wish I were those kids."

She knows nothing of Sandy Hook. She knows nothing of violence besides what her brother's small hands can inflict upon her. She knows nothing except what she saw. She saw beautiful children singing. She knows she wants to be a "pop star" when she grows up. She saw children singing on tv and she wished to be them.

I hugged her.
I hugged her so tight.
Finally she looks at me says, "why are you hugging me?"

I just smiled. In my mind I thought how glad I was that she wasn't one of those kids. I hope one day she can stand in front of the whole world and sing or dance or speak and everyone everywhere will know what I already know.

But I'm glad she doesn't know the pain and violence those kids have had to endure. I am so very glad.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Snow, Winter and Instagram

Well, the holidays are over and it is time to start a new year. Time for resolutions. Time to get healthy and organized. This time of year generally brings me down. I loathe the cold and the short days.
Snow is my nemesis as well. It is pretty though and I snapped a few Instagram pics while I was out shoveling last week.
Happy New Year!

Thursday, December 27, 2012

I am Superwoman

Not only do I bake, make homemade soup and make pretty things but I also shovel snow! It's exhausting being a Superwoman!