Category Archives: family

Family Wednesday: Snow Day

Unknown-2A picture to tantalize you of the wonderful seasons to come: spring and summer.

There’s a new four-letter word in the continental United States: snow. Many parts of the United States haven’t just been affected by snow; they’ve been deluged. To paraphrase a scene from Forrest Gump, we’ve had fried snow, snow jumbo, snow fricassee, snow scampi, and baked snow. In other words, there’s been so much snow and ice around the continental forty-eight that no one wants to hear about it anymore. So what am I doing? I’m writing about my family’s snow day. That is quickly becoming a snow week.

Four kids, one roof. There are some general truths about adulthood. Once you graduate college, people tend to look at the ring finger of your left hand. Is there someone special in your life? Are you engaged? If so, who is that special someone? If not, why not? Is there something wrong with you?

Then you meet that special someone and the two of you announce your engagement. The questions change. When are you getting married? The stories change. Once an engagement ring is slipped on your finger, everyone starts regaling you with stories of his or her wedding. Oh, I remember the time. It goes by so quickly. It goes by so slowly. You hear joyful stories, but you also hear the horror stories. His cousin twice removed got plastered. The dog ate my cake. I got jilted.

You get married, and you think you’re in the clear. The questions change yet again. When are you going to have children? Once again, the stories change. Maybe you’ll be in the break room when you get assaulted with the question followed by anecdotal stories. When I was married for a year, we had our first child. Oh yeah, we had twins. Oh yeah, we had quintuplets.

Then you have your first sweet child. That sigh of relief is almost palpable. Everyone will now get off your back. You’ll be in the clear. Soon you’ll be the person asking the questions instead of being on the receiving end. Nope. The questions only change again. When’s the darling little baby going to have a baby brother or sister?

It’s only after the second child, the questions stop coming. There are those of us, though, who didn’t stop at two. In case of my WH and myself, we went for a third and lo and behold, we had twins. The questions started all over again, but this time there were preceding snips. You have a boy and a girl. Why’d you go from man-to-man to zone defense?

Usually I shrug the questions off with a grin. I love all of them. Even with lots of love in my heart, I know snow days are hard and sometimes try my patience. So what to do?

Movie night. I’ve told them all that tonight I’m introducing them to one of the greatest joys in life: Bringing Up Baby. Cary Grant, Katharine Hepburn, Asta as George and a leopard. It’s age appropriate for all of them, and it’s one of the best movies ever made. This morning, I bought extra popcorn specifically for this purpose. Tonight there’s no Scout meeting, late practices, or any other excuse for us not to sit together and watch a movie (unless the power goes out and in which case, I have my laptop).

Books. I have a great slate of books. I just finished Jill Shalvis’ Forever and a Day and Tanya Michaels’ Mistletoe Mommy. Those are two romance novels that will definitely steam up your winter days with some fun and sassy characters. I recommend anything by either of those excellent romance authors. I’ve just started Debby Giusti’s The Officer’s Secret. After two chapters, I’m enjoying this romantic inspirational thriller. I can’t wait to read more of it.

Food. One good thing about six people under one roof is that each of us has different favorite foods. On the way home from picking up the twins at preschool yesterday, I stopped at the grocery store with the four of them, telling them they could each pick out a snack. I’m a chocoholic and I knew I had enough chocolate at home. My WH told me today he picked up queso dip after work yesterday because he wanted that. At the store, Kath asked if we had popcorn. MJ picked out his favorite type of yogurt. Chunk picked out a cantaloupe. And, believe it or not, Cupcake wanted celery. So we have enough food to last a while. Plus the good news for Cupcake is I don’t think we’ll all be running to the refrigerator for an extra stalk of celery when our snack cravings take over.

How have you made it through winter in your neck of the woods? Let me know.

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Family Friday: Roller Coasters

stock-photo-silhouette-of-wooden-roller-coaster-70910776This past summer, my family and I traveled up north and visited Hershey Park in Hershey, Pennsylvania during our vacation. In addition to Hershey Park, we also visited Washington D.C., Mount Vernon, Amish Country, and Wheatland in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. Now, a couple of months later, my four year old twins still talk about the day at Hershey the most. I’d like to hope some of those glorious historical sites planted some seeds of love of history and stories, but that will remain to be seen down the road. They want to go back to Pennsylvania, stay in the hotel, and go back to Hershey. The day at Hershey, though, showed me some insight into the members of my family.

     Wonderful hubby. Let’s start with my wonderful hubby. I like to think we balance each other. He’s my rock, and I remind him to buy deodorant with antiperspirant instead of just deodorant. This day reminded me why he’s great at strategy games and planning. He wisely chose to purchase the add-on fee to park next to the park entrance. With twin four-year olds, it was the best spent money on the trip. By the end of the day, Cupcake was tuckered out, and wonderful hubby and I were each carrying a twin out to the minivan. I was so thankful he indulged with that nearby parking spot.

     Kath. It’s hard to believe that the little girl who twirled on the fireplace hearth is now in high school. Her boyfriend lives in Pennsylvania, and he accompanied us to Hershey. They toured Zoo America on their own and also went on some of the roller coasters while touring the park on their own. Kath still talks about her reaction to the dips and turns of one of the coasters, but she participated in the rides without us. In two years, she’ll head off to college, and she’ll live in a dorm away from home. Hershey Park drove that concept into me, but we all still ate meals together and we all laughed together. But she’s now grown up enough to take that first step into her own life by riding the roller coasters with someone other than her parents.

     MJ. My tween son talked nonstop of the roller coasters prior to the trip, but then the moment came when he actually saw the roller coasters. Up close. He had no problem with the bumper cars or the Screamer. The Tilt-a-Whirl and the Pirate were right up his alley. But he discovered he’s not keen on roller coasters. I still don’t know what to make out of this. On the one hand, I want all of my children to live life to its fullest and face any fears they have. On the other hand, maybe this is a sign that my tween son is starting to develop some common sense that will guide him through his teen years and beyond. If something doesn’t feel right and some little worm of doubt grows within him, that might help him later in life. So as hard as it was to watch him not to get on the roller coaster, we had to go along with what he felt was the best choice for him.

     Cupcake. The most fearless of the bunch. She went on every roller coaster the park allowed her to ride. The Super Dooper Looper. No problem. If it was a roller coaster and she was permitted to ride it, she was there. She not only rode every one she could ride, she rode some of them twice. (We were very fortunate to go to Hershey the first week after school ended in our neck of the woods while school was still in session in Pennsylvania. As a result, the park wasn’t crowded and we literally walked onto many of the rides, especially toward the end of the day.) She loved the roller coasters. She came back and reported every wonderful second of the ride to her twin brother and her older brother. She might look sweet and she might cuddle up to you, but this Southern belle has a spine of steel. 

     Chunk. Cupcake’s twin brother didn’t cotton to roller coasters like Cupcake. He allowed his sister to go with Daddy on the roller coasters while he went off to another ride with MJ and Mommy. But the roller coasters were always in view. And by the end of the day, he wanted to try riding one. And then, he loved roller coasters. In the last hour, we rode two roller coaster before ending the day with a Tilt-a-Whiril ride and a final twirl on the Screamer. That’s Chunk. A little cautious at first, but then full steam ahead. 

     The whole day was fun. From the wonderful ice cream dipped cone to ramming into Kath, Kath’s boyfriend and MJ in the bumper cars, it was a great day. 

     What are some of your favorite family vacation moments? Let me know.

Writing Tuesday: What I learned from a Children’s Museum

This past weekend, I posted a blog about my family’s vacation to Pennsylvania. Having children whose birth years span different centuries means that sometimes my wonderful hubby takes the two older children to one activity while I take the two younger children to another activity. One of the days during the vacation, we decided that he would take the older two (along with KB) to a Science Museum while I would take the younger two to a Children’s Museum. Little did I know that I would find material for my writing blog here, but it’s amazing what you can learn about writing in the most unusual places. For here at the Hands to Hearts Children’s Museum, I received a refresher course on the basics of writing. In the dress-up and costume area, there were little placards hanging on the walls that introduced children to the concepts behind stories. But no matter whether you are a plotter or a pantser, these placards reminded me that everyone should know a couple of things before a writer starts a story.

The first placard read as follows: Once Upon a Time. There are three parts to every story, the characters, the setting and the plot. When I read this, I stepped back and blinked. Here was a story boiled down to the three most important elements. A writer needs to have a grip on these three elements before he or she starts a story.

Characters. The placard on the next wall asked where are your characters going? Who is going with them? And what will you be doing? Wow. In a sentence, this placard at a children’s museum reminded me that characters needed to know where they are going (what’s their goal), who is going with them (who are the supporting characters), and what is the character doing (what is their motivation and conflict). Before either a plotter or a pantser sits down and writes that first sentence, he or she needs to know whose story they are writing. Some writers interview their characters beforehand. Others make charts to tell about internal and external goals, motivations and conflicts. Still others make timelines of what the characters do when. No matter how you get to know your characters, the important thing is to get to know about them and spend time with them. As one of my favorite authors (the wonderful Nicki Salcedo, author of All Beautiful Things) once said, these characters are like your friends. And you want to spend time with your friends. Why not give that same dedication to your characters? (Isn’t she smart? A Stanford graduate and a great author, too).  So from a wall at a children’s museum, I was reminded of the importance of knowing your characters. If you don’t like them (even the villains), chances are your audience won’t. If you like them and get to know them, your enthusiasm will probably show to your audience.

Setting. Another placard read as follows: Choose a setting for your story. Pretend you are a character in that story. This is great advice for setting and for POV. Think about it. Pretend you’re in the setting. What does your character see, smell, feel, taste and hear? The five senses and setting description help us feel like we are there in the scene with the character.

Plot. Another placard reminded me that a story has a beginning, a middle and an end. Basically that describes the parts of a plot. A plot needs to introduce the story, keep our interest in the middle and provide an ending. I’m a romance writer so my books are going to have a happy ending. But no matter the genre, it’s so important to go into your story knowing how you want it to start, where you want to be in the middle, what is your black moment or your aha moment, and how do you want it to end.

This write-at-home mom went into this museum expecting to have a fun time with her 4 year old twins but left reminded of important elements of a story.

What about you? Have you ever gone somewhere and unexpectedly learned something about your career or hobby? Let me know!

Wacky Weekend: Family Vacation

Have you heard this old joke? What’s scarier than Friday the 13th? Saturday the 14th.

Okay, so now you know the reason I’m a romance writer and not a comedy writer scouted by the likes of Stephen Colbert and Tina Fey.

There are things that sound scary (my children naming the snakes in our front yard) and things that are scary (the fact that there are snakes in my front yard). I don’t know about you, but six members of a family (in this case, to be more specific, Mom, Dad, 16 year old Kath, 11 year old MJ, and twin 4 year olds Cupcake and Chunk) in one hotel room for a week can inspire a couple of chills. But we all survived. And not even five minutes into our vacation, we heard the line that will forever mark this vacation (keep reading!)

For those who don’t know me, my new running gag is that I’m the mother in a YA romance novel. My 16 year old, Kath, is dating an 18 year old who lives in a different state. As a mom, I’m great with her dating someone who lives five states away. This spring, 18 year old (shall we give him a nickname? Let’s not ask my wonderful hubby to provide this nickname. Let’s just call him-KB for Kath’s boyfriend-I know all of you will now line up to buy my first book with something as creative as that.) KB graduated from high school. Kath thought his graduation party &/or his Eagle Scout party would be taking place during my wonderful hubby’s vacation so we all decided to take a 12 hour car trip to Pennsylvania to visit KB.

We all decide 5 A.M. is a good time to get the party started. By some miracle, we are actually all loaded and in the minivan by 5 A.M. At 5:05 A.M., Chunk utters the words, “Mommy, I need your iPad.” We were barely out of the driveway and Chunk is already bored with the car ride.

At our first rest stop at the SC Welcome Center, Chunk runs his fingers through the grains on top of a garbage can: that’s right. The ones used for cigarette butts. He did not want to stop playing with the big ashtray. At least he was keeping Kath and MJ entertained.

We make it along the first leg of our trip, all the way to Virginia where we spent the night. When we arrived at the hotel, MJ discovered he forgot deodorant. For the good of everyone in the car, we pile back in the car and go buy him deodorant. You’re welcome, Kath, Cupcake and Chunk.

The next day we all go to the Smithsonian in Washington, D.C. When we pull into a parking deck, we were asked to open our trunk for security purposes. What we didn’t know was that our can of raisins ended up back there. The poor security guard who opened our trunk door had the can of raisins gush out of our car onto a sidewalk. They promptly waved us through.

Chunk enjoyed touching a cannon fragment in the display before the Fort McHenry flag. He kept wanting to go back there the most. The rest of us did enjoy seeing treasured pieces of Americana. I especially liked Miss Piggy. And I also marveled at how small Bette Davis’ waist was when I saw the dress she wore in Dark Victory.

It’s a beautiful city, and I’m proud of our nation’s Capitol, but we were happy to start the next leg of our journey. Especially Kath. She’d get to see KB the very next day.

So we proceed to PA. We crammed a lot into a week: the State Museum of PA, Wheatland (our 15th President, James Buchanan’s house), a pretzel factory, Hershey Park, Zoo America, lunch at an Amish restaurant, Hershey’s Chocolate World, the York Emporium, and miniature golfing. Chunk provided our first ever visit to a medical first aid station at a theme park (the EMTs and staff at the Hershey Park First Aid Clinic were exemplary; I told Chunk to enjoy having two beautiful women fawn all over him). Cupcake made friends wherever she went, MJ liked making his own candy bar and Kath loved spending time with KB, including seeing The Fault In Our Stars with him on opening night.

I’m used to the stereotype that we Southerners take our time to get from point A to point B. I didn’t quite know what to make of being chastised up North for walking on an escalator. I normally don’t like labels, but I have to laugh at this Southerner getting chastised for trying to get somewhere in a hurry. But let me hasten to add, that Northern hospitality is underrated and was wonderful. I kept apologizing everywhere I went for the loudness of my kids. People gave me an understanding look and said they were fine. Thank you, Pennsylvania.

One morning at breakfast, my kids were particularly quiet (this must have been the day after Hershey Park). A woman came up to us and complimented me on how well behaved my kids are. Thank you, ma’am. I don’t know how you caught them at that moment, but we have a reputation for being a loud house. A friend of mine called this week and asked if he and his wife could come over, hastening to add “We won’t mind the noise.”

On the way back, I decided to wear my “Careful, Or you’ll end up in my novel” t-shirt. I am after all a write-at-home mom. On the trip up to PA, I edited my work in progress. While in PA, I kept up with my homework from an online writing craft class (A quick thanks to the wonderful and awesome Cheryl St. John for a great class). On the way back, I edited more and worked some more. My wonderful hubby knowing what a history buff I am surprised me with a side trip to the gorgeous and very historical Mount Vernon. If you haven’t been to this national treasure, I recommend the trip.

So sometime shortly after midnight, we pulled into our driveway. Safe and sound. Full of little adventures and little stories. Full of memories that we’ll talk about for years to come.

What about you? What family vacations stick out in your mind? If you are a writer, have any incidents from your family vacations made it into your books? Let me know! 🙂

 

Writing Tuesday: Have Laptop, Will Travel

UnknownGrowing up, I can remember my mother telling me that she didn’t understand how I could finish my homework with the radio playing in the background. Everyone has a different noise tolerance for his or her work capacity. Some people would be able to work no matter whether there was a jackhammer breaking up concrete right outside their window while other people need complete silence to work. Some people can work from home while other people love a workplace environment and shudder at the thought of having to work out of their home. As a writer, I understand the new phrase, “Have computer, will travel.” As long as I have my laptop, I can pretty much work anywhere. Except that try as I may, I never seem to get much work done at home.

Home is a wonderful place. Movie lines and book quotes all wax eloquent on the wonders of home. “There’s no place like home.” “Home is where your heart is.” Home for me also comes complete with my four wonderful children, all of whom instinctively know that I am trying to write and instinctively create ways to interrupt me.

Over the past month, my home has had the distinct pleasure of becoming isolated due to icy conditions. On the one hand, there was a beauty in seeing our yard covered in a blanket of snow and ice. We enjoyed French toast and a rousing game of Monopoly. We broke out other board games as well. Whenever I tried to escape to our basement to write, they found me. First, MJ came down with his book, eager to escape 4 year old Cupcake and Chunk so he could read in peace. Then Cupcake and Chunk came down and wanted MJ to play with them, but then lo and behold, they found Mommy! Surely I want to read them a book or play Zooreka or make cookies (all of which we did do at some time during the two recent snow incidents that left us stranded at home).

I love those minutes with them, but that also means that I want to be home with them when I’m home. As a result, I venture forth to write. I’ve written in people’s homes, libraries, restaurants, malls and so on. I’m even writing this blog at my local library rather than in the comfort of my home. My wonderful hubbie bought and installed a corner desk for me, but I often go elsewhere to write.

Soon all four of my children will be attending school on a daily basis. I will have to adjust to writing from the comfort of my home. The advantages will come in the short commute time and well, let’s face it, I don’t have to dress up to work from my home (my kids joke that they don’t recognize me with makeup since I’ve only worn it for weddings, funerals and writing conferences since they’ve been born). Until then, I’m trying to learn how to balance my writing time. That means I’ll still travel elsewhere to write (with the added advantage of having a few minutes to map out today’s writing-the POV, the dialogue) but come home to spend time with my family. My wonderful hubbie points out that when I don’t write, I can become, well, a little bearish. So, I will write away from home for now, knowing that when I come home, a more relaxed, better wife and mother is returning to hear all the stories of what I’ve missed while I was writing.

Where do you write or work? If you are able to work at home, do you like the convenience or do you miss a workplace atmosphere? If you work away at home, do you sometimes wish there was a way for you to work at home every once in a while? Let me know.

Writing Tuesday: Snowjam 2014

The weather. Normally a nice bland conversation starter, the weather has become a major factor where I live. In the past six weeks, the weather has produced record lows and two snow events. Not a problem for most people in America, but in the South, it’s become a huge problem. Schools have been closed, traffic has been snarled, and grocery stores have had their shelves emptied of all bread products. In Georgia, the first snow event caused a massive traffic situation that paralyzed the city of Atlanta. Some have called it “SnowJam,” others “Snowapalooza,” other the “Snowpocalypse.” During the traffic nightmare, one of the radio stations referred to one Georgia state road as the “seventh circle of hell” while one of the Georgia interstates was the eighth circle. I know this because I was in my car listening to the announcer stuck in the middle of the seventh circle with two of my children with me. For eleven hours and forty-five minutes, I trudged home from a place less than ten miles from my house. During this time, I primarily had to focus on the road and other cars around me, but occasionally, I had a minute to reflect on how this traffic jam paralleled to a writer’s life because while a writer is the person to sit down and put the words to a screen or paper, there are obstacles and people who can either hinder or aid with the writing life.

When I left their preschool with my two youngest in the backseat, we ventured towards another child’s school. Obstacle number one came when another person thought she was being nice by letting me know that the upcoming bridge was closed. While I later found out this was not the case, this was the first hindrance in some writer’s lives. A writer may turn back at the first hint of anything bad. Instead of facing rejection, he or she lets his or her work linger in the internal memory of her computer (remember George McFly in Back to the Future when Marty asks him about his writing and he says he doesn’t show it to anyone because he doesn’t know if he can risk that kind of rejection). Instead of fighting through the writer’s block, a writer simply decides not to finish the story. I’ve had times when both of these instances have happened to me. As a writer, I need to have others read my work: to tell me what I’m doing right and what I’m doing wrong, to help me learn about the craft of writing, and to help me notice craft issues I wouldn’t notice myself. As a writer, I’ve had those days when my characters are at a certain place and I know they need to get to point C from point A but it sure is difficult to figure out point B in the meantime.

So back to the snowjam. I turned around from a point slightly before the bridge and headed to plan B. Before I set out on plan B, I stopped at a local grocery store. My two youngest (Cupcake and Chunk) and I used the facilities; bought milk, bread and cinnamon sugar for French toast; and most importantly, topped off the fuel tank at the grocery’s gas station. This little stop reveals two more points in the writer’s life: distractions and foresight. The grocery store was a slight distraction, albeit a necessary one. There are distractions everywhere a writer turns. The Internet with all the fascinating blogs, websites, news sites, social media is a fun distraction. There are times I go places where I know I can’t get internet access in order to write. I am so thankful I topped off my gas tank, however. The foresight of planning ahead can help a writer; schedules can help a writer plan out what he or she hopes to accomplish in the day, week or month ahead. The same with a business plan.

After we left the gas station, I turned on the radio to find out about road conditions. A radio station (which since then has taken great pains to let everyone know how accurate they were in predicting this first snow event) broadcast the fact that the bridge was closed (it was not). Because of this I headed for the road later described as “the seventh circle of hell.” I exited the gas station and two hours later made it to the road that I was convinced was a good way to get home because it was three lanes and everyone knows that three lanes can handle more traffic than one. This brings me to the next analogy to a writer’s life: twists and turns in your plot. For the most part, I am a planner. I use a synopsis to create the main storyline and outline different events and scenes for each chapter. When I stick to this, I am a much better storyline. It’s when I think-oh, this would be a good way to introduce more conflict- and keep adding new plot details that I find myself in big trouble. Right now, I’m editing my completed first draft and have to delete a page and a half that I added that doesn’t fit in with the rest of the book but seemed like a good idea at the time.

For two and a half hours, we drove about a mile. Cupcake reminded me that a visit to a place with some restrooms might be in order. We pulled into a grocery store parking lot. I unstrapped both children from their carseats and trudge through the ice and snow to see the sign on the door announcing they were closed even though there were people coming in and out of the store. Worried that everywhere else on this road would also be closing as well as about the bladders of Cupcake and Chunk, I entered the doors and begged the manager if I could please use the bathroom. A woman exiting with her groceries prevailed on him as well and I ran to the bathroom with my kids before the manager could change his mind. To my surprise, the woman also prevailed on the manager to let her buy us some Lunchables. I am still grateful to this woman for the kindness in buying a total stranger and her kids food. As a writer, I am also grateful whenever anyone offers to critique my work and gives me honest feedback. Critique partners and readers do a tremendous service to writers in that they point out issues and problems that we may not see. Word repetition, POV changes, and out-of-place scenes are such issues.

We entered the car, not knowing that we would be in the car for another five hours and forty-five minutes. In the same manner, depending on the method of publication a writer pursues, a writer doesn’t know whether he or she will receive that special call right away, months away or years away.

As we neared home, there were cars stranded on the side of the road. There are writers who never finish a book.

Along the way I received a call from a friend who returned my call from when I realized I was not going to be able to pick up one of my children from school. This friend let me talk to her through one of the stuck in traffic moments when I didn’t move for close to an hour. Thanks to her and all the friends who listen to me talk about my characters, my plot and my book.

Then we arrived at the icy patch that continued all the way up the hill. I was ready to cry. Here we were so close to home yet so far away. My car got stuck in the left lane in an icy patch. Thank you so much to the men who were pushing everyone up the hill and who pushed my car out of that patch. Also thank you to all the writers who encourage me at conferences and writers’ meetings. That little push sometimes helps in those rough patches and help us the next time we sit at the keyboard.

Arriving in the church parking lot next to our subdivision, I saw my husband waving on the side of the road. I parked in a spot and turned off the car. We walked with our kids up the icy hill and made it inside our home. A rush of emotions flooded me as my snowjam experience had come to an end. Similarly writers know different emotions when they write the end at the end of a manuscript. They’ve written, edited and sent off their book, hoping to find an audience.

Even though a writer ultimately sits on a chair and writes by him or herself, he or she still experiences help and guidance along the way to the finished product. As a writer and Snowjam 2014 driver, I thank all the people who are helping me along the way.

What about you? Who are the people who help you pursue whatever dreams you have?

Family Friday: Eleven Hugs and Kisses

Eleven hugs and kisses. Whenever I leave my home to go somewhere else to write, my youngest son, Chunk, asks for eleven kisses and eleven hugs. His four year old self stands there while I bend down and deliver a kiss and a hug, a kiss and a hug, and so on until I reach the number of eleven. He makes me count out loud in case you think that I might be able to get away with only five or even ten. As soon as I reach eleven, he runs off, secure in the knowledge I will come home and give him more hugs and kisses.

My family is a little unusual in that I have a wide age gap between each child. Kath turned 16 this week, MJ is 10, and Cupcake and Chunk are twin 4 year olds. When Kath and MJ were younger, I stayed at home with them and enjoyed it. I volunteered at school, went on field trips and picked them up from school. Now I am attempting to launch a writing career. On days when my wonderful hubby is off from work, I head to a library or a restaurant or anywhere I can go to try to write without kids coming into my room with a little office in the corner and asking questions. Life is different now. Cupcake and Chunk are growing up with a mom who writes. As a result, they make sure I kiss them and hug them before I go write. It’s a new experience: going off to work and leaving them at home (with my wonderful hubby who is also a wonderful father).

Of course all of this makes me think about how each of my children is different in terms of affection. Kath, my oldest, dictates the terms of affection. She gives out lots of hugs and kisses but on her own terms in her own time. MJ, the middle child, loves to cuddle. For a long time, he was the baby of the family and we had lots of time to cuddle and read books together. Now he scoots into a cuddle, having figured out that sometimes he just has to assert himself and dive right into a hug. Cupcake, the older twin, likes to cuddle in the morning and asks for Cupcake Cuddles. Chunk, the younger twin, spreads out affection through the whole day and puts his whole body into a hug.

I don’t mind giving Chunk the eleven hugs and kisses because being the mom of a teenager, I know how quickly the years pass and that soon enough, he won’t be asking for the eleven hugs and kisses anymore, but for now, I like knowing that we are starting a little ritual. I’ll let you in on a little secret: those eleven hugs and kisses help me get through my workday a little faster and a whole lot sweeter.

Do your kids have any goodbye rituals before you leave for work?