January 27, 2015

Discovering Dargatz #123 - The Other Peter D

In the very formative year of high school, freshman year, lockers at Milwaukee Lutheran were assigned and distributed alphabetically in the math wing. I happened to be right outside the weight room and across from my algebra room. Being a bit shy and not quite sure how to expand my social circle, I usually waited for others to make the first move. Every once in a while, I would be at my locker transitioning in between classes when someone would mention my name from behind me and I would look in anticipation to find out who it was only to be disappointed.  The students with the locker directly to my left also happened to have the same first name. Time after time, my adrenaline rush of excitement turned into embarrassed disappointment as he was quite popular and I was forgettable. However, if I end up being remembered, I will probably end up being mistaken for.  My last name was also similar to a gentlemen named Brian and in my yearbook that year, the forgettable Peter Dargatz was listed as Brian Dargatz.  I guess those who do remember will only be confused to find out there was no Peter Dargatz freshman year.

January 26, 2015

Discovering Dargatz #122 -Card Collecting Call In

Collecting sports cards was a passion of mine in my youth.  I aimed for completing sets, finding the coolest  card, and collecting my favorite players.  I was enthralled with sorting, organizing, and trading for new cards with my cousins.  A new pack was a new adventure and I would venture to different stores and card shows to find cards to add to my collection. My most frequently visited shop was Capital Collectibles, nestled next to the pet store at Mayfair Mall. At least weekly, I would make my visit.  I always got excited seeing the new selections and spent many moments critically analyzing what to purchase. As I became more familiar with the store, I became a listener to the call in show it sponsored Sunday nights.  I even was able to call in and win a $20 gift certificate for answering a trivia question. I remember feeling so accomplished the first time I won.  I answered some random Packer question by looking in a yearbook I had recently bought at a family trip to the Packer Hall of Fame. Though my collector days are through, maybe I will be able to share the same passion with my own children.

January 25, 2015

A Reader's Review

2015's third book is wrapped up and I went back to a nature-themed inspirational (and at times depressing ) tale of the plight and progress of America's forests. The Dying of the Trees, by Charles Little detailed many different forest types and factors (albeit some unfounded by definition) influencing their decline across the country.  

From clear cutting to invasive species, ozone depletion to acid rain, many potential and certain causes of tree death were described and detailed along with a myriad of potential solutions such as  massive replanting efforts, legislative and educational efforts, elimination of deadly herbicides, and a very intriguing method of "rock dusting," or spreading rock dust normally caused by glaciers over forested areas to spurn regrowth much like has happened after previous Ice Ages.

With a mix of environmentalism, politics, and the up and down relationship of these bedfellows, The Dying of the Trees eloquently explained debatable factors about controversial topics such as acid rain, global warming, and federal legislation, 

Being a fan of the forest, the stories told made me sad at times, angry at others, but in the end, hopeful. I learned a great deal and look forward to learning more about and experiencing our country's tree treasures in the future.

January 22, 2015

Classroom Zoo #22 - The Dog Ate My Homework

 Excuses for missing homework are a daily ritual in the classroom. Most range from the classic "my dog ate it" to  "I didn't have time because of (insert some extracurricular activity)" or "My mom left it on the counter." Regardless of the reasoning, missing homework is the bane of an elementary teacher's existence. We want the students to learn responsibility and accountability yet we struggle keeping them in from recess or taking them away from the social time they so desperately need to develop. And above that struggle is the occasional excuse that makes it nearly impossible to give a consequence. I had a student in my earlier years that had significant issues completing work. He was pretty apathetic with school and wasn't really impacted by any consequences I threw his way. However, when he came in one morning in tears because he knew his streak of consecutive days of turning in his work was about to be broken, I knew I had to hear him out. I asked him why he was crying. His reasoning: he couldn't get his reading log signed because his mom and her boyfriend were wrestling naked again. From then on, I didn't ask again.

January 21, 2015

Discovering Dargatz #121 - Graffiti

Living right near a busy railroad next to a creek allowed for many adventurous opportunities.  Whether it was attempting to catch animals, collecting railroad spikes, or the popular stick racing, there was always something to do at the creek.  For a time in my adolescence, my cousins and I went searching for graffiti.  With both my father and uncle being train enthusiasts, my cousins and I were very familiar with railroading and this spurned our interest in the artists that "decorated" the sides of train cars and trestles. Something about this debatable art-form being taboo and illegal made it all that more exciting to discover. We would regularly walk the creek down to under the highway where there was a large amount of graffiti to view. We would also take pictures of stalled trains at the Butler yards nearby and added the to a collection of accumulated photos. It became a routine. Every Wednesday after school, a quick trip to the yard to find the latest and greatest graffiti. A few books from the library were even checked out.  Graffiti viewing became an exciting activity that bonded my cousins and I in some of the most formative times of our lives.

January 20, 2015

Classroom Zoo #21 - They Drive Me Nuts. . .and I Love it!

On any particular school day, I probably hear my name over 300 times. Occasionally, one student will, just keep repeating it in an attempt to get my attention, especially if I am already engaged with another person. After giving directions at least three times and ritually having the students repeat the directions back to me, rest assured, one student will raise their hand and ask something that had literally just been answered. It is as if raising your hand causes ears to close.

It is a daily occurrence when a student asks for a snack, not because they are missing theirs, but because they didn't like what had been packed by their parents.

Students knowingly and unknowingly do things that drive teachers crazy. Some realize it and feel ashamed. Others realize it and get giddy. Still others never figure it out. Regardless of what they do and why they do it, teachers love them for who they are and for who they are becoming in the classroom, both academically and socially.

I can tell story after story about kids and situations that drive me absolutely bonkers. But that is exactly why I love what I do. Everyday is an adventure.

January 19, 2015

Dadventures #12 - Diaper Derby

What's the first thing you do when your child learns to crawl? Grab your video camera? Baby proof everything in sight? Not me. I registered my daughter for the Milwaukee Bucks Diaper Derby, an in-game promotion involving crawling babies racing for Huggies. Funny thing is, a reply with an invitation came back almost instantly. The night of the competition, we were ready. We had crawled up hills (or hallways) and in all terrains (hardwood floors and carpet). Each competitor was allowed to bring one motivational tool with them to the race. I brought the newly-acquired and very intriguing sippy cup. When we reached the starting line and sized up our competition, it was obvious we were the underdog. When I saw the dreaded puffs as the motivational item used in the lane right next to me, I prepared for the worst. No matter how fascinating my sippy cup was, I realized that once my daughter locked eyes on the puffs, she would be off her game. However, once the race commenced, she set aside distractions and came in a strong second place behind a much more experienced foe. Either way she didn't wail and I have an awesome memory. Victory.

January 17, 2015

The Story Catcher

One of the wonderful things about my journey as a writer is the relationships I am able to build with fellow writers and artists. I am very fortunate to share a fantastic new story from one of these new relationships.Please give this book a look. I guarantee you will LOVE it as much as I do!

Title: The Story Catcher
Author: Donna L. Martin
Imprint: Adventures
Release Date: January 20, 2015

Addie comes from a long line of readers, or “story catchers,” as her family likes to call themselves. Every time Addie tries to catch a story on her own, though, the words play tricks on her. Addie tries everything she can think of to corral those wiggly letters, but it  will take a little faith to become the next STORY CATCHER.

Amazon Kindle: http://amzn.com/B00PHJRVG0
Amazon Paperback: http://amzn.com/0990908542
Barnes & Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-story-catcher-donna-l-martin/1120753878?ean=9780990908548
Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/492614

THE STORY CATCHER FAN CLUB: Fan club membership includes: 
Membership Certificate
Bi-monthly Newsletter full of mazes, puzzles, games, news and other goodies
Reading log for earning Story Catcher Award
Short story starring YOU! 

TRAILER LINK:See the trailer here.

By day, Donna L. Martin is a Fourth Degree TaeKwonDo Black Belt; by night, she is a self-proclaimed “ninja author” of picture books, middle grade chapter books, and young adult novels. Somewhere amidst all this excitement, she also created the Free Author Promotion event that takes place every May during the Children’s Festival of Reading. Donna loves laughter, snuggling with her cat, and reading good books. To get a sneak peak of what it was like growing up among the swamps of southern Louisiana, check out Tales from the Bayou on her blog at www.DonnaLMartin.com.

Anaiah Press will give away a $20 iTunes Gift Card to one lucky winner.
Donna L. Martin will give away a beautiful journal. 

You can't win of you don't enter. Enter here.

January 15, 2015

Discovering Dargatz #120 - Concert Shenanigans

I am a huge music fan, so it makes sense that I have attended numerous concerts growing up. Whether it was getting soaked at Red Hot Chili Peppers, craving milk after Staind, or getting hit in the lower abdomen from a Mark Tremonti ping pong smash backstage at Creed, I have loved attending concerts since seeing The Smashing Pumpkins at the Marcus in my mid-teenage years. I have witnessed concerts at huge venues to concerts in bars. From the classical guitar of Clapton to the costume-clad Cold, I've seen a tremendous variety of music. I have parked in the sea of vehicles at Alpine Valley, walked many blocks to avoid the quagmire that follows concerts at the Rave and traveled long distances to Rock USA in Oshkosh to see music. I have fallen in love with bands at the tiniest of venues, like Little Blue Crunchy Things at The Rathskeller in Madison and been an ant in a sea of people, like at Foo Fighters at Summerfest.  I have witnessed domestic disturbances, teenage brawls, drugs-a-plenty, and many over-served individuals while taking in the music. Live music is a release of energy that doesn't disappoint. I wonder who I will see next?

January 14, 2015

Real Life Snow Globe

 Being an elementary teacher, mainly a kindergarten teacher, adjustments back to school even after two “stay-at-home" days can be treacherous. Imagine that struggle after a nearly two-week break. Now compound that with frigid temperatures that keep over 20 angry and fun-deprived students indoors all day long. Not a shining moment in the ups and downs of the school year.

Then, today happens. Like joining together the final pieces of a 1000-piece puzzle, sometimes events come together which force you to step back, relish the moment, and cherish what you have. Often, spontaneous reactions and raw emotions spur the release of pent up feelings and frustrations, which in turn create an opening for change.
As I worked with my students today, I felt my patience running out as children made unusual and confusing decisions while at the same time ignoring or butchering directions. If I were stuck inside for two weeks without my usual outside play breaks, I might have felt the same way but in the world of standards-based education, educator effectiveness, and increasing responsibilities for both student and teacher, the time for tomfoolery and off-task behaviors was over. The lack of production combined with my dwindling patience made the classroom prime for a volcanic eruption.

Then, it happened. As I focused on my teaching responsibilities, I ignored the little things that made eachday special (and sometimes bearable). One of my students looked in awe at the winter scene revealing itself outside our classroom window. I joined her and she made mention of the falling snowflakes. She said they were fat and
slow, so they would be easy to catch. Then, dejectedly, said she was worried the flakes would be finished falling by the time recess came. I replied that I hoped they would stay falling for her. Her response, as she gave me one of her twenty or so daily hugs, "I'll only catch them if you come and catch them with me."

Her statement took me out of the stresses and tasks that often crowd and overwhelm my days and brought me to a fantasy land, much akin to the "real life snow globe" a colleague mentioned earlier in the day when describing the slow-motion snowstorm outside.

I'd love to be in that "real life snow globe." And for that moment, I was.

January 13, 2015

Dadventures #11 - Furniture Fun

When it came to getting ready for the baby's arrival, an important element was the decision for the theme of the room. With a deep love for animals, my wife and I couldn't have had an easier decision to make. It would be zoo-themed. That easy decision became much more challenging when we were both completely overwhelming with the choices of furniture and accessories that complemented this idea. Babies are small, but their basic needs and "recommended" supplies are limitless. After choosing some very cute and pertinent supplies, it was off to IKEA (AKA hell on Earth) to finish off the baby's room with a dresser, bookshelf, and crib. Shopping in that commercial box of death was only the tip of the frustration iceberg. Getting home, deciphering the directions disguised as hieroglyphics and wishing on a star everything matches up was truly a painful experience. In an afternoon that felt like an entire weekend, I finished off the construction so that the decorating and accessorizing could begin. That was the fun part! Even though Embry loves her animal paintings, stuffed animal zoo, and animal figurines, I can't help but enjoy them with her. We might have a future zoo worker.

January 12, 2015

Classroom Zoo #20 - I Don't Have Anything to Write About

I am pretty even-keeled and can be pretty flexible in the classroom, but everyone has buttons that can be pushed that might send them into crazyville. I certainly do. One such thing that always gets me is when students don't write. Now I am not including students that struggle with the process in my frustrations. One of my silly sayings is "I can do crazy, but I can't stand lazy." When I hear or see a capable student avoid writing or tell me they have nothing to write about, I almost laugh, cry, cry while I laugh, or laugh while I cry. My writing workshop is laid back, almost to a fault. I put little constraints on what my kindergartners can create during our time together. If you're writing, you're doing your job. I love watching their creativity flow. However, this freedom makes the times of minimal writing even more heartbreaking and mind-exploding.  Write about your dog. Write about your breakfast. Write about your dog's breakfast. I really don't care. Just write! A great way to become a better football player is by playing football. Likewise, it's hard to improve your writing if you don't write. You gotta start somewhere. 

January 11, 2015

A Reader's Review

The early stages have led to a resurgence in my commitment to reading more and my consumption of high-quality non-fiction continues with my second book of the year: Ringside - The History of Professional Wresting in America, by Scott M. Beekman.

Now those of you who find wrestling to be fake, scripted, and just plain sophomoric, you're right, to an extent. In my opinion, as very small extent. While outcomes are pre-determined and characters can be outlandish and ridiculous at times, the athleticism, commitment, and storytelling these entertainers aim to showcase is something that brings me back each and every week. 

I've been immersed in the wrestling world since childhood, but until I read this book, I didn't quite know about (or pay attention to) the origins of professional wrestling, how it survived through some tumultuous periods of time in this country, and how it has evolved into the sports entertainment juggernaut it is now.

It was eye-opening to read about how wrestling once rivaled baseball as America's top sport, how wrestling redefined itself when social events like World Wars and the Great Depression forced its hand, and how wrestling moved from smaller companies through out different geographical territories into national powerhouses jostling for the attention of an ever-increasing world of entertainment options.

This book engulfed my attention because I love wrestling and history.  Maybe it will engulf yours as well.  There's only one way to find out.

January 10, 2015

Discovering Dargatz #119 - Wiffle Ball

It was normal to find my father and I engaged in heated wiffle ball battle on summer evenings. I remember taking my hacks and running from tree to tree. We had certain rules.  A fly ball landing on the opposite side of the street was a homer.  A one-hopper to the curb was a ground rule double.  A ball that hit the tree was a dead ball, unless of course it landed on the other side of the street and became a tater. I was very excited to hit the ball, but distinctly remember being the pitcher and trying to catch every ball before it hit the ground. For a while, I kept stats and marked them down after every at bat. Infrequent passing cars and the occasional downpour led to short delays, but games were played quite often. Every once in a while a ball was lost in the upper branches of our neighbor's evergreen trees or down the sewer grate.  Luckily, wind helped us with the tree and a clever invention of a thick string connected to what was essentially a small plastic container allowed my father and I to retrieve any misplaced wiffle balls and play on.

January 9, 2015

Discovering Dargatz #118 - Musical Modifications

Purchasing a house was one of the most responsible and major decisions I have ever made.  I remember the butterflies when waiting to hear back from our realtor about our offer.  I remember putting in certain requests with our offer as our "house-to-be" was in need of updates and improvements. Finally, though, it was ours.  Then, the real fun began. It seemed like renovation after renovation took over all of our free time. From that first project of roofing to the final "big one," the kitchen renovation, we seemed to be in a constant state of renovation from the time we got the house.  We racked up thousands of dollars in purchases at Menard's, learned (and forgot) many skills, learned (and cringed upon hearing) words like romex connectors, soffit, tile cutter, and shim, and came up with what we considered a genius idea:  renovation music. We took mainstream songs and replaced the lyrics with home improvement terms.  For example, Shout became Grout. I'm All Out of Love transformed into I'm All Out of Mud. Maybe our idea is corny, but belting these hits alleviated the pain and misery of renovation after renovation.  I wonder what our next song will be?

January 8, 2015

Dadventures #10 - Sausage Racing

With my mascoting background most prolifically being a famous racing sausage for the Milwaukee Brewers, it was natural that I would expose my child to the world of racing wieners. Never did I know how enamored she would become with these overgrown frankfurters. When she was born, I decided to hang up my bun and enter the world of retired wiener. However, my fascination with them continued and I hope to bestow my appreciation for them to my daughter. Every game we watched on TV, we paid special attention to every sausage appearance. Every game we attended, we spent time at the sausage statue in the kids area. Luckily, we have season tickets right on the aisle, so after every race, they scamper up within reach of her tiny hands. She was mesmerized. Her excitement led to bursts of giddiness whenever a sausage was pictured on the big screen. Because her happiness increased my happiness, when a chance came to record a live sausage race form a game on television, I grabbed the remote and recorded. I can't count how many times we have watched it, but every time, it gets her going and she lights up. Enjoy the show!

January 7, 2015

Dadventures#9 - Sleep. . .Oh Precious Sleep!

"Sleep now, you're gonna need it." My wife and I heard this so many times while we were expecting. Almost to the point of annoyance. Yet, looking back, if I were actually capable of banking sleep, I would do it in a second. I have always loved sleep. But now, I love it even more. Every single second. One would think nights without having to care for the child would lead to drinking and debauchery. Nope. They lead to sleep. Lots of it. Nothing is more soul-crushing than finally laying a child down to sleep and catching a few winks of sleep before an ear piercing scream of terror reverberates through the house. jolting to into a zombie-like stage of terror where all you can do is hope it is all a dream. When the wailing persists, you meander out of bed, hoping to avoid plummeting to physical peril while following the screams through a maze of toys and darkness. However, children do adjust. Of course, illness and routine changes can erase all progress and regress you back to the point where you are questioning if that little bundle of joy is worth the nights of stupefied sleeplessness. It is.

January 6, 2015

Classroom Zoo #19 - Dargatz Dollars

Motivating children in this attention-spanless world is akin to herding cats. I use a variety of tools to engage them in my lessons and build positive rapport with them in every atmosphere. Building positive and trusting relationships is at the core of my work with each child but even the strongest relationships need an occasional "carrot" every once in a while. I have tried humor. My goofy personality and general clumsiness make me funny (or at least funny looking) even without much effort. I do silly things, whether it be fie minute moments of silly games , music, dancing, or a combination of all three during much needed brain breaks. I am known for giving my students (and adults) nicknames. I avoid bribery, though my classroom economy sometimes feels like it. To help my students understand and hopefully appreciate the value of a dollar, they can earn Dargatz Dollars. Now because I love comic strips, my money doesn't showcase Presidents and American historical figures, it displays people I tend to trust more, like Beetle Bailey, Hagar the Horrible, and Charlie Brown.  Students earned money for completing classroom jobs, performing acts of kindness, and winning the now defunct lottery. Money talks.

January 5, 2015

Dadventures #8 - Has She Pooped On You?

New parents can expect the unexpected. They also have a higher threshold for situations that might send others running. Picking your nose is taboo. However, many parents instinctively unclog the nostrils of their  infant if the self-proclaimed "boogersucker" tool is unavailable. Sharing food before children is almost unthinkable. When a hungry and whiny toddler hovers around you constantly, you almost prefer to offer a portion of your meal to fend them off for a few precious seconds. Ultimately, things that you wouldn't consider doing before you have children become second nature when you have mini-me's trotting around. And strangely enough, things you might have internally chastised people for doing are now things you would seemingly defend to your own death. Additionally, you almost feel offended when friends without children call you out on it, though you might actually be jealous of their freedom. You might also feel like those childless people are in a different universe, so naive to the methodology and necessity for your new way of thinking. A friend once caught me in the middle of a diaper change where things got messy and asked me if I'd ever been pooped on. Without hesitation, I replied quizzically. "Today?" 

January 4, 2015

A Reader's Review

With a goal of mine being to add more reading into my life, a good way to share that reading is by reviewing it. 

Lately, I have been drawn to non-fiction, specifically books on natural topics. I've read some books about the Ice Age Trail, a look at the behind-the-scenes activities at a zoo, and about the history of the fur trade, all topics I am quite interested in. Recently, I came across a book about the Menomonee River watershed.  Since I live quite close now and grew up next to one of it's feeder streams, Underwood Creek, I picked it up and let it sit on my shelf until recently. I started it and finished it this weekend. Here is a short review of Urban Wilderness, by Eddee Daniel. 

This book brought back so many memories, so it instantly turned into I one I couldn't put down. Many of the areas poetically described in this book are close to my heart because I grew up experiencing them. I lived next to the concrete creek knows as Underwood Creek. I walked sown to the Menomonee River to catch frogs and turtles and explore nature and I drove past (and still do) so many other areas along this amazing waterway and watershed on a daily basis.

This book detailed a brief history of this watershed and discussed the implications of the development in and around it. While it detailed many destructive ways development can alter the landscape and change what nature intended, it did still introduce and showcase a wilderness in the urban environment that I find enchanting. Moreover, it is still quite relevant as many of this are is still potentially open to development and the boundaries are not necessarily set in stone, meaning this book served as a notice that people need to act in order to save this watershed from over-development  and allow nature to be nature.

The author, who lives right along the river not far from where I grew up, described this urban wilderness beautifully. The book was so wonderfully detailed and descriptive. With tomorrow's forecast being -25  to -50 with the wind chill, I am quite bummed as this reading motivated me to get back outdoors and experience and explore the river and the surrounding areas with a new perspective at the value it has for the area and a renewed appreciation of all it provides for the ecosystem.

This book appeals to my childhood memories, but also to my love of nature and history. I highly recommend it. I also suggest taking a closer look at the author's blog to see how he continues to be an advocate for the watershed. It can be found at http://urbanwilderness-eddee.blogspot.com/

Discovering Dargatz #117 - Clutch Chaos/Manual Mayhem/Stick Shift Stickiness

It didn't take long before I realized that I was going to need much more practice to get the hang of this manual driving. I needed to borrow a vehicle to get to my college internship and the only thing available was my roommate's hatchback gray Civic with a manual transmission. It was normal and expected that my initial attempts under the tutelage of my roommate in Lot 60 involved some impressive whiplash starts and stops. However, one would think that practice and experience would soften these abrupt motions. For some reason, learning this type of driving took longer than I had hoped, ultimately dashing my confidence and leading to the daily squeal of tires in and around Madison. My logic was simple: after embarrassing myself on more than one occasion and stalling out, I decided I would rather have people laugh at my squealing tires while I was safely driving away rather than having them laugh at me as I re-started the car. While I did eventually improve on my clutch and shifting exchanges on my weekly treks to my internship, I was excited to finish off my required hours and get back to the wonderful world of driving automatic.

Writing WINS and WANTS

Every year, resolutions are made, held on to for some time, and then either broken or forgotten. Annually, I tend to have the same MORE or LESS resolutions:  MORE reading, LESS television, MORE fitness, LESS unhealthy food. MORE patience, LESS cursing. These new goals work towards the beginning of the year but eventually dissipate away as life takes over. 

This year, I was motivated to forget resolutions and instead focus on successes I have had, I could inundate you all with details about my adventures as a father, a hike coordinator for kids, and a Special Olympics coach, but I will save those for my other posts. Today, I want to focus on my WINS and WANTS as a writer.

Those of you who know me personally may know I really started getting into writing when I found out I would be a father. Like we all do, I have zany stories from my childhood. People always tell em they like my stories about my childhood mishaps, my unique family, and my overall wackiness, so it made sense to document these and share these with the next generation. So, I started this blog. Because I am kind of anal and OCD sometimes, I decided that my official entries all had to be exactly 200 words. it would be my writing gimmick. :) I even sorted them according to stories about my childhood and early adulthood, my classroom, and my fatherhood. I even throw randoms in there (like this one), which don't adhere to my self-imposed 200-word limit.  Crazy, right??? I wrote about 250 or so of these stories while waiting for the baby and have slowed down considerably since then, but instead have taken my writing adventures in a  new direction. Picture books.

My picture books idea come from my own life but also from my classroom. I love to create stories to teach lessons to my students (both 4th grade and kindergarten). I also saw some of the books that were being  published and thought, "Hey, I could do this!"  So.,. I am trying to do just that. I have joined the Society of Children's Books Writers and Illustrators, am part of a  great critique group, joined a plethora of Facebook groups, write on my blog almost daily, and try to add revisions and new stories to my ever-growing list of picture book ideas when not chasing my baby girl.

Being a sports nut, I love numbers. Just checking the fancy chart I created using Microsoft Word at the start of 2014 to keep track of my writing progress, I have 93 ideas yet to be written down as a manuscript, 23 that have, 7 others that have been officially critiqued by my group or through a writing conference and then revised, and one lonely story that I have submitted. 

To help my writing dream become a reality I see some things from  past year and things from my future year that will help me:  my writing WINS and WANTS.

MY WINS from 2014:  

  • ​Completed a picture book idea challenge in November knows as PiBoIdMo and made some new friends in the process
  • Attended the SCBWI-Wisconsin conference in October, met some amazing authors and got very comforting feedback on one of my stories
  • Grew as a writer and critiquer with the help of my amazing critique group
  • Read numerous picture books in my classroom and nightly before putting my daughter down for the night
  • Added numerous ideas and began many drafts of ideas that I have fallen in love with. (Now, hopefully an agent/publisher will feel the same way)
  • Increased my focus and committed more time to just writing and not worrying about getting it perfect right away.  Just get to down and go from there!
  • Officially submitted my first ever book proposal, a curious fiction/non-fiction picture book hybrid I am quite proud of . . .still waiting to hear back (fingers crossed)
  • Ended 2014 with a huge amount of writing ideas and drafts ready to be written, revised, and submitted.

My WANTS for 2015:

  • ​Repeat my WINS from 2014 :)
  • ​Continuing to grow my social network of other aspiring and published writers
  • Adding to my blog daily and increasing its visibility and reach
  • Committing time each day to some writing, whether it be new writing, revising, editing, or critiquing
  • Complete a picture book writing challenge known as 12x12
  • Write queries, develop pitches, and submit. . .because you can't win the fight unless you get in the ring!

January 3, 2015

Dadventures #7 - The First hold

​Common cliches talk about certain moments that are unforgettable and life-changing. I usually scoff at such notions but when it comes to witnessing the birth of your child, truer words have never been spoken. However,  more amazing to me was when I was first able to hold my child. Because there were some minor complications that forced her to be monitored and held in a separate room apart from her anxious and overwhelmed parents, the wait for that moment was longer then expected, but the wait made that moment even more special. As mom rested, I was whisked away to the intensive care area where my precious daughter was resting comfortably. I don't think the nurse could even finishing asking me if I wanted to hold her before I had already begun the process of taking her into my arms and falling in love all over again. She was so tiny, so fragile. I could hardly believe that someone like me could have any part in creating something so perfect. I remember sitting there silently in near tears, feeling so blessed. There we stayed for only a few minutes, though I remember it vividly. It was unforgettable. It was life-changing. 

January 2, 2015

Dadventures #6 - Psychologically Pregnant

In my excitement for fatherhood, I was eager to check out books from the library to find out how I could help in the pregnancy process. Information overload quickly set in, However, one nugget of genius still sticks with me today. While my wife was enduring the physical aspects of pregnancy, I was feeling the stressors, anticipation, and overall anxieties of being psychologically pregnant. Now ladies, before you come through your computer screen and try to slap and/or strangle me, let me assure you I thought this was gobbledygook when I first read it. However, as I read on, it started to make sense. I did feel anxiety over things I might normally ignore. I began to think with a more "long-term, big picture" mentality. I did put on some baby weight. I say this not to make a joke, but to assure everyone that being an expecting father is more than simply a sperm donor. While what I went through pales in comparison to what my wife experienced and I am forever indebted to her supreme power and ability, I didn't slouch my way through pregnancy. And by the way, I am still trying to work off that baby weight.

DD #116 - DATCP

I was officially a Consumer Specialist for the Wisconsin Department of Trade & Consumer Protection. I worked out of the Consumer Information Center at the DATCP main offices off of Stoughton Road in Madison. While my initial responsibilities were coding and filing complaints, I did eventually make consumer calls and write brochures accessible through the state's website. Some days were filing and more filing.  Other days were coding complaints according to their type and distributing among the full time specialists.  Still other days involved calling consumers to obtain information regarding their state-required written complaints. While I dealt with a wide array of consumer protection issues, the bulk dealt with the No Call list, Nigerian e-mail scams, and travel/timeshare consumer traps. I was also lucky enough to research and create literature regarding the expiration dates and general question and answers about gift cards, especially those with out of business companies. I was offered a position to stay on for pay after my internship requirements and work towards a full time position in the Wauwatosa offices upon graduation. I was the next Wisconsin consumer to complain because as soon as I was offered a position, it was cut from the state budget.

January 1, 2015

My Resolution

For me, looking back can be just as gratifying as looking ahead. With the hopes and dreams of every new year comes with the opportunity to reflect on the year that has ended.

A look ahead needs to be a look from a different perspective. Rather than see everything in black and white, different perspectives allow color into the world and new ideas and understandings to be accepted. 

A look ahead with a different perspective allows for a way to move on from the mistakes and errors we all inevitable make and serves as a way to make them right.

A look ahead with a different perspective can remove selfishness and promote selflessness.

A look ahead with a different perspective has the potential to not only make a change for the better, but to BE the change for the better.

A look ahead with a different perspective . . . .the only resolution I need.