How does your (picky) eater amaze you?

I can't say I agree with his choice of beverage.

Ketchup: A kid’s best friend

Though my picky eater is picky enough to refuse link sausage and only eat patty sausage, there are some surprising things he will eat. Eggplant with ketchup and smoked salmon are two rather surprising favorites of his!

This article from Parents magazine highlights another eclectic mix of foods that kids will eat even when they refuse to eat things we think should be no-brainers.

What surprising food does your picky eater enjoy? Want to keep track of them in My Food Notebook? Make sure you enter my contest to win a free copy here!


How far would you push a picky eater?

I recently read this news story about a teacher who forced a second grader to retrieve a portion of his uneaten lunch out of the school trash can because she was concerned he wasn’t eating enough.

I, too, dread dinners where my picky eater just sits there and claims he doesn’t like anything we’ve served. Some food from his plate inevitably ends up in the trash, though we learned a long time ago to give him very small portions to minimize waste.

Taking food out a trash can would gross me out, too. I wouldn’t be able to eat it unless I was starving. I mean, really starving. I know there are people in the world who live like this. But is it the way to handle a picky eater?

How to Be a Better Blogger (Part 2)

Writing can be a painful experience, especially if you’re sitting in one place for too long. In November 2012, I completed a massive writing project totaling over 50,000 words and logged many long hours at my desk. Unfortunately I didn’t have my workspace set up ergonomically and I developed neck and upper back pain that lasted for several weeks.

I have some new equipment now and new systems in place to help me minimize my chances of causing that kind of pain again. Now my only pain comes from reading bad grammar and incorrect punctuation.

Here are some tips that helped me and can help you minimize the physical discomfort of writing so you can be more productive:


And you absolutely must read this advice from professional writer John Soares on Writing Ergonomically.


Contest! Win a Free Copy of My Food Notebook

I shouldn't be that surprised he loves ramen

I shouldn’t be that surprised he loves ramen

About a month ago, a great blog hosted a giveaway contest of My Food Notebook. Gina, the voice behind Totally Full of It, was looking for creative ways parents handle their picky eaters. I’m so grateful for her support and was happy to partner with her! If you visit her blog, I highly recommend this hilarious video of her little guy laughing hysterically and my kids loved this Imagination Moves video she shared.

I wanted to spread the love (it is February) and give away 2 free copies of My Food Notebook. To be entered to win your copy, make a comment below about a food you are surprised your picky eater loves. In our house, I’m always surprised my picky eater loves smoked salmon. Definitely not something I would have ever guessed!

Tell me the most surprising food your picky eater loves by February 28, 2013 and you’re entered to win a free copy of My Food Notebook!


How to Be A Better Blogger (Part 1)

The Guilt Pen

The Guilt Pen

This is the guilt pen. I forgot it at a client’s office one day, and when I came back, noticed it on her desk.

“How’s your blogging going?” I asked.

“Slow,” she replied. “I just can’t seem to sit down and do it. I’m more motivated when you’re here to push me.”

I noticed my pen there and picked it up and transformed it from a little pen into a powerful talisman.

“See this pen? This is my pen. I love my pens. But I am giving you this pen and every time you see it, you will think of me and you will sit down and do another blog post. And if you don’t, you will feel guilty because I gave you a pen that I love!”

I gave her the guilt pen before Christmas and when I returned to her office in mid-January, she was extremely proud to share with me 8 completed blog posts ready to be edited and scheduled!

The pen is indeed a mighty weapon.

Perhaps you need a guilt pen in your life? Maybe you know what you want to say but need a nudge to actually get the words out? Find one on your own or give me a call, I have lots of very powerful pens to share.

Grumpy Kid? Angry Kid? You’re Not Alone

I’m a mom of a grumpy kid. Like other moms, I was looking for ways to help my grumpy kid not be so grumpy. In the search for a way to help understand that he could choose to be grumpy or choose to be happy during his days, I told him a little story.

What started as a story just for my son Dylan turned into the children’s book The Bumpy Grumpy Road. And now other moms are telling me it’s helping their grumpy kids, too.

After I wrote it and read it to Dylan, I mentioned the story to a few close friends. They shared it with their kids and told me the idea helped them, too. So, I wrote an essay about our family’s struggle and slow road to success and sent it to one of my favorite magazines,Family Fun It was a delight to learn they also enjoyed the story and published it in their April 2012 issue.

Not long after the issue came out, I received notes from other moms who said reading my essay felt like they were reading about their own families. I received emails, Facebook messages, even a handwritten note from a mom!  It was a relief  for all of us to know we’re not alone, and that’s something I try to remind my own children – they are never alone when they feel sad, angry or frustrated. We’re always there to help them find their way back to the smooth, fast road.

“Steering Clear of Grumpiness” (page 1)
“Steering Clear of Grumpiness” (page 2)

Grumpy Kids? Not these Kindergarteners!

This post originally appeared in June 2012. 

Kindergarten Thank You Notes

At the end of May, I read The Bumpy, Grumpy Road to two kindergarten classes here in Pittsburgh. At first they laughed with delight when they saw Dylan, a little boy, driving a car. They were impressed! But then Dylan started to use grumpy words. In each of the classes, a child called out, “The sky is getting darker!” They were worried for Dylan. One girl even shook her head when Dylan shouted at his brothers.

I continued reading and we got to the page where Dylan sees the first sign. In each of the classes again, a child called out “That stop sign says “Sorry!” They watched with relief and amazement as the sky brightened and the road got smoother with every good choice Dylan made. At the end, they were beaming and laughing again.

Those children traveled the bumpy road with Dylan and sped down the smooth one with him when he learned that he can choose his words and attitude.

I love the fact that not only did I get to share my book with two wonderful classrooms, but that one class of children decided to make their own books! These thank you notes are actually small booklets complete with author’s names and a few pages inside with words and illustrations! Is there a future writer in this class? Possibly!

These thank you notes are the first I received from children, but I hope not the last. Of course the best thank you came from Dylan the night I read him the story, and he cried and said “That’s me, Mommy. Sometimes I am on the bumpy road and don’t know how to get off.” I’ll never forget that moment and hopefully the children who heard this story will remember they, too, can choose which road to drive!

Review for “The Bumpy, Grumpy Road”

Is there anything nicer than a great review from a expert in the field of dealing with emotions? 

I’m lucky enough to be part of an amazing group of women as a contributor to  30 Second Mom. I found many other moms running their own businesses, writing books and dealing with grumpy kids! Dr. Christina Hibbert, a psychologist focusing on women’s health, postpartum health, and parenting issues. Her post on handling whining really hit home with me.  She was kind enough to review a copy of The Bumpy, Grumpy Road and sent me her thoughts:

The Bumpy, Grumpy Road is an adorable book that will help children of all ages learn to navigate feelings of anger, frustration, sibling rivalry, and plain old grumpiness. It not only entertains, it teaches practical skills children can apply to help them overcome their “big feelings” and find their way back to the “smooth path” of sharing, caring, and feeling happy again. I will read the book to my younger kids. I particularly loved your “signs”–what a great way to teach kids how to stop and change their behavior. A really great idea!”

Thanks Dr. Hibbert!


Best Children’s Books

I would say the best children’s books are the ones that keep kids reading. As an author of children’s books, I’m always looking for ways to learn what my children and other children love about books to help me write better books.

Lots of character, no plot

Lots of character, no plot

But what makes some books better than others? And what do children value in books that adults overlook? Is it the magical illustrations? Gripping true-life tales? Otherworldly or down-to-earth story lines? I know a lot about what makes my three boys tick, but I needed insight into other children…and girls. I needed a focus group.

So I worked with the director of our local KinderCare and created their first-ever Summer Book Club! I’m a volunteer, totally unpaid, but like most volunteer experiences, I expect I’ll get a ton out of my weekly commitment. I get share my love of books and reading and I also hope to learn more about what little ones love in books. This will help me, as an author, create books that other children will adore.

Our director sent home a note inviting kids ages 5-7 to join the Book Club, and for our first meeting we had 10 members! (Yes, that includes two of my own kids.) But I recently learned we have 2 more kids who will be there next week!

I put together a schedule featuring two books a week. Our wonderful center director ordered journals and fun pencils for the Book Club attendees. After we read the books and discuss them, I’ll make a suggested assignment for the kids to do on their own. There are no grades, no requirements, it’s just a sort of writing prompt for them to complete if they want. We had our first meeting this past Thursday and read two of my personal favorites: Wild About Books by Judy Sierra and The Crocodile Blues by Colemon Polhaus.

This children loved The Crocodile Blues because there are no words and I asked them to tell us what they think was happening in the story. Some answers were serious and scary while others were just silly but regardless, the children were totally engaged. As we read each book, I’m not only watching how the children react and listening to what they say, but I’m analyzing the word choice of the authors, thinking about how they stayed focused on their storyline, trying to study the construction of each sentence. I’m using this as a writing boot-camp.

I can’t wait to see the results of their first writing prompts, if there are any. But I do hope at least one Book Clubber puts pen to paper. I have this feeling their writing will inspire and enrich my own.

I’m not bringing The Bumpy, Grumpy Road to Book Club, but we will be discussing emotions at the end of July when we read Where the Wild Things Are. Writing and storytelling are time-tested and effective ways to deal with difficult emotions. I hope the children choose to write their own stories to help them handle strong feelings, just like the story I wrote for my son Dylan.

If you have a favorite book from your childhood that you would’ve put on our Book Club list, share it here!

Your Kids Are Watching

Do your kids copy you?

They want to be like you!

Of course they do!

I was reminded of how much my children copy my behavior and choices this summer when I trained for triathlons. I usually run every day, but suddenly I was biking and swimming twice a week. And then my children started riding their bikes more, every sunny day. When we went to the pool, my children were eager to swim. My seven year old learned to go underwater and leapt off the diving board! My five year old, who last year could not be bribed to dip even his toes in, was practicing putting his face in the water!

It was great that they copied my triathlon training because we were all active and having fun. Good times.

But kids also copy how we act when we’re angry and frustrated.

Do you shout? Are you rude to the people you love? Do you refuse to calm down and carry a grudge for hours? Days?

Maybe you need help getting off that bumpy road, too. I did. When’s the last time you took a look at the signs and followed them off the bumpy, grumpy road?