Children & Chores: Should a 2-year old really be expected to make the bed…?

chore chart

A good friend and I were talking the other day…”Are your kids expected to do certain chores?” I asked. “Yes,” she replied, “but I just wish I could be consistent in making them follow through!”

I feel her pain! I, too,  started off with great intentions by starting my children on chores early on; feeling pretty smug that my son helped me load, unload, and stack 100 bricks when he was just four! However, rather than keeping that strong work ethic momentum going, my efforts fizzled. “Just easier to do it myself,” I justified; and I didn’t want to fight one more battle.

Unfortunately, now that my children are 10 and 8, it is like trying to move a mountain to get them to do anything laborious. Ugh! What have I created! What a disservice I have done to them, and added angst for myself, by not following through!  Does this sound familiar?

Moms-what age should a child be expected to do chores? How much should they be paid (or not), and what chores are “age appropriate?”  These are questions I have recently wrestled with in my new determination to re-introduce chore expectations. Yes-I know the battle will be fierce, (I am to blame!) but it is my duty as a parent to teach my children domestic & social responsibility -so enforcing chore duty IS one battle worth waging!  Thankfully, a brilliant mom already thought these questions through and created this fabulous “age appropriate chore chart” as a guide.

I LOVE this because it sets up clear expectations that I can communicate to my kids, teaching them what will be required; how they can measure their success, and understand logical consequences for not following through. (No play until your work is done-that should be a good motivator!) HA! With this plan in place, I am already starting to feel smug again. BUT… the bottom line for their success is MY follow through! Which brings me full circle.

Will I be able to be consistent in enforcing the chores, or will I just resort to doing them myself out of ease? This chore chart is certainly motivating as I dream about all the new free time I will gain to play as I watch my children doing all the work! Let the chores begin!!

Want more tips on how to become more organized as a mom? Check out this WONDERFUL Pinterest board my friend created, One Day I’ll be organized! Thank you Jana Kleitsch!

 

Moms, Macaroni, & Kids!

mac kids south seattle logoOkay moms-admit it! You probably ate KRAFT mac-n-cheese when you were a kid; and now, as a mom, have served it to your kids in a pinch to find something quick to eat…hmmm? It’s fast; it’s easy, and the kids love it. Well, if truth be told I grew up on it and; yes, my kids are macaroni kids too! (I applaud you moms who make your own “healthier” version of mac-n-cheese! Keep reading to the end of my post to discover the BEST homemade mac-n-cheese recipe EVER!).

Food aside-I would like to tell you about a whole new type of “Macaroni Kid.” This is a FABULOUS website that helps you discover activities in a pinch; to answer the daily question, “MOM, WHAT ARE WE DOING TODAY?” If you sign up to receive a free weekly e-newsletter, you will receive a well researched menu of family friendly activities in your local community and FREE giveaways! Check out the cool free giveaway now being offered on the Macaroni Kid South Puget Sound website! Here are the details…

finalcover400FREE signed copies of “Princesses Can Be Pirates Too!

(a fun story with an empowering message for all children!)

Giveaway Details
Tell us what you love most about your little princess or pirate to be entered to win one of the following:
  • 1 signed hardcover
  • 1 signed paperback
  • 5 ebooks ( kindle fire or iPad versions)signed using “authorgraph.”

All who enter must be a Macaroni Kid South Puget Sound SUBSCRIBER and Facebook Fan.  Winners will be announced in next week’s newsletter!

Don’t fret if you’re not a winner. . . they have got news for you!

There will be a book signing event in the near future and you can also get the books online (Hardback, Paperback, Ebook): Amazon.com, B&N.com, iTunes

Book Signing Event

THIRD PLACE BOOKS

Saturday March 23rd 6:30-7:30pm
Lake Forest Park Location
17171 Bothell Way NE
Lake Forest Park, WA 98155
206-366-3333
http://www.thirdplacebooks.com

Now back to food… The BEST Mac-n-Cheese Recipe EVER (unless you are counting calories!)

BAKED FOUR CHEESE PASTA

Ingredients:

  • 8 Tablespoons butter, plus extra for baking dish
  • 1 Pound penne pasta
  • 4 Cups whole milk
  • 6 Tablespoons flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 2 Cups grated sharp cheddar cheese
  • 2 Cups grated asiago cheese
  • 2 Cups grated fontina cheese
  • 1/2 Cup parmesan cheese
  • 1 Cup plain breadcrumbs
  • 2 Tablespoons melted butter
  • 1 Cup of heavy cream

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350
  2. Butter a deep baking dish
  3. Bring 6 quarts water to a boil (Add the pasta and cook according to pasta instructions)
  4. Drain pasta w/cold water twice and set aside
  5. Heat a medium saucepan to medium heat
  6. Add the milk and bring to a slow boil then remove from heat
  7. Heat another medium sized saucepan over medium-high heat
  8. Melt 8 Tablespoons of butter
  9. Reduce heat to low and whisk in the flour
  10. Cook the butter & flour mixture for 3-4 minutes
  11. Slowly add the warm milk to the butter/flour mixture while whisking constantly
  12. Add salt & cayenne pepper
  13. Simmer until thickened (8-10 minutes)
  14. Remove from heat
  15. Add 1 Cup of the following cheeses to the butter/flour mixture: Cheddar, Asiago, Fontina and mix cheeses until melted
  16. Pour the cheese sauce over the cooked pasta and toss to coat
  17. Place 1/2 coated pasta in the baking dish
  18. Distribute the remaining Cheddar, Asiago, & Fontina cheeses over the pasta
  19. Add the remaining coated pasta in the baking dish
  20. Pour the cream over the pasta
  21. In a bowl, toss the bread crumbs, parmesan, and remaining melted butter & crumble over the top of the pasta.
  22. Bake for 30-35 minutes until top is light brown and mixture is bubbling

ENJOY!!

P.S. This is a great meal to freeze and bring to someone in need!!

 

The Letter From My Dad That Changed My Life…

letterIt is wrinkled, torn, and stained with my tears.

I kept it in my pocket and I read it over and over. It was a letter from my dad; and it pulled me out a pit of insecurity, depression, and feelings of hopelessness during a time I struggled in college.

On this Valentine’s Day, I share this letter with you. It is a treasured letter that I hope, at one time or another, every dad writes to his own daughter…

“Christi,

Have confidence in yourself and in your ability. You have proven yourself over the years and really don’t need to prove yourself anymore. You are a winner in a world of losers. You are in the light. Enjoy the challenge and do your best. Don’t worry about the outcome this paper and your tests don’t mean a thing. As long as you stay in God’s love and grow as a person through these challenges you can only win.

Take a good look at yourself Christi, you are facing life daily as yourself. You don’t have to rely on booze or drugs like some of your college friends. You are accepting the challenge head on without help. God bless you!! You have another 60 years to grow and mature.  Think of the person you will become and the love you’ll be able to share.  I know it seems like we’re walking out of step with the world sometimes but we’re not. People like us are the only real hope that world has to survive.

IF we can hold strong and multiply, who knows how we can someday change things. As you walk in the light and grow stronger, you’ll be able to see people around you taking a different path. These people are walking away from God and slowly destroying themselves a little at a time.  As the years go by, they’ll move farther and farther from true happiness. They all know deep inside what is right and the path they should take and as they stray they die inside. Pray for them as they don’t realize the price they are going to pay someday.

As I close, I can tell you my heart is full of my love for you Christi. You and the rest of my family are the most important part of my life. Whenever I feel down I just remember my family’s love for me and I really know I’m a winner too. If Lani, Randy, Christi, and Staci love me, it doesn’t matter how anyone else in this world feels about me. I’m special-I have to be to be loved by such loving people.  I think knowing this has helped change my life around more than any other thing and best of all,  it is true.

So let’s keep sharing our love and expanding it to others and realizing this is what’s important in life and not papers and tests.  You have all my love, Dad”

dad 2

HAPPY VALENTINE’S DAY DAD. I LOVE YOU!

Happy to “Authorgraph” Your Book!

I would LOVE to sign your book!

If you have purchased a copy of “Princesses Can Be Pirates Too!” I would be happy to give you a FREE “authorgraph” and personalize it to someone special for you. Just share the name and/or occasion and I would be thrilled to do so!

CLICK HERE FOR A FREE AUTHORGRAPH

Parent Ponderings: Toddlers, Tantrums, & Treats

I WON’T go!

Tantrums come in all forms, most often when our little darlings put their foot down about having to go somewhere they don’t want to go.
Can you relate to this photo-says it all doesn’t it! “I won’t go! (school, grocery store, doctor, sports practice…grandma’s house-yikes on that one!) “I won’t eat it!” is another parent challenge. So, how do we get our kids to do things they are logically supposed to do? “Yes you are/will because I’m the parent…!” (“Well, when I grow up I won’t make my kids do it!”) Have you said those words before? I have and immediately think, “I have turned into my parents.” “If you do such and such, I will give you a treat…” I am guilty of that too…but bargaining with food is not a very healthy solution, and what I discovered is that I taught my children to be fierce negotiators-emotionally draining on a parent for sure.

The bottom line, some things are non-negotiable. A line must be drawn, period. I have found that the best way to approach this is to lovingly and truthfully communicate why the destination/or food item is beneficial and necessary. “It is important to go to the grocery store because we enjoy and need food…let’s pick it out together…going to the doctor’s office helps us stay healthy and strong…” Going to school? “Well-it is the law.”  Now these strategies don’t always work, especially with a youngsters (I wonder how this grandma got her toddler to start walking again, don’t you!).

The best advice a good friend gave me is to fight the natural inclination to get frustrated and instead, scoop your little ones up in your arms and love them through it. Her other parenting words of wisdom:  if you see a parent struggling to manage a child in the throws of a tantrum in a public setting, the best thing you can do for the parent is to express empathy rather than judgment. We have all been there (and most certainly will be again) and nothing diffuses our tantrums more than a little validation and love!

 

Seattle Author & Illustrator: First-Ever Duo Feature by “SeattleWrote.com”

seattlewrote-norelle6The lovely and talented Norelle Done, Founder of SeattleWrote.com, was kind enough to interview Amy & I about our inspiration and recent success in publishing our first book.  Seattle Wrote features the stories and thoughts of local Seattle authors and writers. We are thrilled to be among her guests! Here is what Norelle had to say…

“When Christi and Amy contacted me before Christmas, it was the first time I had ever been approached by an author-illustrator pair, promoting the book together. I couldn’t believe that I hadn’t thought of attempting a dual interview and feature before, like when I interviewed Stephanie Barden or Kim Baker (whose first middle grade book, Pickle, is finally available). Anyway, I was super excited to do that ‘first’ for SeattleWrote.Author Christi Zellerhoff met Illustrator Amy Davis through a mutual friend. Christi had written the manuscript for a children’s book in 2008, and was going through avenues looking to publish it. At the time, Amy was creating greeting cards for their mutual friend’s business on the side from her day job.

From left to right: Author Christi Zellerhoff and Illustrator Amy Davis.

The book, Princesses Can Be Pirates Too was inspired by a conversation Zellerhoff overheard between her two young children, Henry and Claire, one day as they were playing. Claire came to the game dressed in her princess costume wanting to play pirates with her brother. Henry told her that girls couldn’t play pirates, and especially princesses couldn’t. Claire adamantly disagreed, and convinced Henry to play.

“Immediately for me, there was a really powerful message. She was undaunted in her core, and I want that message to get out to little girls all over,” Christi said.  “I went the traditional route for trying to get published, and I got tons of rejections. I kept asking myself, ‘Why not me?’. I had trouble getting published without illustrations, though.”

While pregnant with Claire, Christi had been given – by their mutual friend – a gift of artwork done by Amy. It stuck with her as she attempted to get Princesses Can Be Pirates Too published. “Amy’s art was the only art I could envision for my book,” Christi says. Finally, she emailed Amy and asked her to be a part of the project.

“Art is so subjective, and sometimes it gets buried because it’s so personal,” Amy says. “I wanted to work with Christi on the book because I saw it as an opportunity to grow myself … The desire was there, and I think that’s why it worked.”

“Amy would envision exactly what I was thinking … The illustrations tell a back story, too: the crown goes missing, and the seagull has it’s own characteristics. There are so many things that compliment the words, and also bring out Amy’s own personality as an illustrator” Christi said.

“As long as she gave me the attitude [in the copy], that’s what I needed,” Amy said. The book, “helped me develop my style, and reminded me that I love children’s books. The journey has been fun.

Princesses Can Be Pirates Too was published through Booktrope, after Christi put up a note on Facebook looking for publishing connections. At the time, Booktrope didn’t do children’s books, but Katherine at Booktrope felt that the book had so much potential (to hear Christi say it, Katherine was sure that her daughter would love the book), that she had it vetted with the leadership at Booktrope. They agreed to foray into children’s books in order to publish Princesses Can Be Pirates Too.

“It’s been exciting to be hooked up with Booktrope on this. Their model is very author-friendly … Their mission is literacy – who would not want to be hooked up to that?” Zellerhoff said. Amy Davis agrees: “They’re very creator-friendly; working as a team, working together for success.” The paperback was released November 30th, December 9th marked the launch of the hardcover book, and the ebook is now available.

“It’s a very personal experience, and that’s enough reason to pursue it – seeing through the eyes of a child,” Zellerhoff says.

Davis offers some words of encouragement for illustrators and creators of all types: “It’s reconnecting with your passion and purpose in life. Sometimes it’s not clear, but you keep doing it and eventually you’ll figure it out. If you don’t keep pushing yourself, you’ll never get there,” Amy says. “You have to have the right attitude and drive.”

From her side, Christi Zellerhoff goes the ‘what if?’ direction. “I really hold to the question, ‘why not me?’ Just keep writing,” she advises. Christi is working on a sequel to Princesses Can Be Pirates Too, under the same theme (Princesses Can Be Firemen Too). She hopes Amy will continue illustrating with her.”

Rave Reviews!

What Our Readers Are Saying About Princesses Can Be Pirates Too!…

 

5.0 out of 5 stars Delightful and Empowering!
November 30, 2012 By jollyonw

“Goodness, this is such a delightful experience for a parent and daughter to enjoy together. Or son! Certainly the value of young female empowerment and equality is so important in today’s age. This is an inspirational and heartwarming vision along many dimensions, and a welcome addition to our library of treasures…”

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5.0 out of 5 stars Stealthy Pirate Steals Hearts
December 7, 2012 By Ross Murker

“Great fun, delightfully written & illustrated for young children to be read to and beginning readers to read from, this book finds and evokes a great sense of innocent fun and wonder for children of all ages. Buy this book! Read it aloud to your children, grandchildren, or even (perhaps especially!) the child inside your own heart.
Simply, joy!”

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5.0 out of 5 stars Whimsical, fun story offers timeless message
December 2, 2012 By Staci Sprout

“I had the great fortune to hear the author read this book aloud at a book preview, and it was magic! I’m not much for children’s books, but this one caught my eye and stole my heart. It has all the makings of a children’s classic in our modern world, where little girls want to be frilly, sweet and bold all at once–and can be. Special nod to the illustrator, whose talent delighted me page after page.”
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5.0 out of 5 stars Rave Reviews from Pre School Group
November 30, 2012 By E&C

“We ended up with an early copy of this book (which was acquired for our daughter); my 5 yr old son found it & truly enjoyed it. After multiple readings he asked if he could bring it to his preschool class for a reading – we did and the class loved it! Ironically one of the 5 year old boys in the class found it ‘scary’, but given how cheerfully the storyline and illustrations are (not scary whatsoever) I am compelled to believe this boy took the news that ‘Princesses Can Be Pirates Too’ pretty hard. :)

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5.0 out of 5 stars Fun reading and great illustrations
November 30, 2012 By wilsonfmly

“What a fun and inspiring book for young readers! Great message for everyone that gender doesn’t limit us from seeking out whatever adventure we are drawn to.”

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5.0 out of 5 stars Children’s Book of the Year!
December 6, 2012 By Poetessa

“The story line, along with the quirky and fun-fllled pictures on each page, draw the reader in and hold their attention from beginning to end. The story, written by Christi Zellerhoff, about a little girl who defiantly addresses her somewhat older brother and his friends and pronounces that girls can most certainly be pirates too and the expertly designed characters, created and painted by artist/illustrator Amy Davis, is sure to be a cherished keepsake in any family.

Drawing their inspiration from personal experiences with their families makes it special. So many of the feelings and and antics that are a part of every family. Adults as well as children will love this book. The characterizations and artwork are not childish, they are inspired. For their first book, this duo of Zellerhoff and Davis have created a literary treasure that should be a part of every home. Don’t miss out on this one folks!

Looking for many more books to come, knowing that they will all be high quality and entertaining. It’s rare when you find a child’s book that has both an inspirational and fun message. A book that is heartwarming with interesting and fhilarious artwork to accompany it. A book that will be read again and again. Worth much more than what I paid for it.

Thank you! I Congratulations ladies, please keep the books coming! I’ll be looking for them!”

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5.0 out of 5 stars Adorable and with a great message!
December 6, 2012 By Tacy Cass

“This is a great book that reminds kids that they can be whatever they want to be. The rhyming is fun to read together and the illustrations are fabulous.”
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5.0 out of 5 stars Magical Images, Quirky Charm!
December 2, 2012 By Patrick Means

“What a great kids’ book! The story line is fresh and the illustrations are magical. And even though the feisty heroine is a bit like Princess Merida in Brave, the story has an ouside-the-box, quirky charm that separates it from the typical Disney genre of children’s books. As an author I appreciate the production values of this book – the art is outstanding! And as a grandfather, I know a Christmas gift when I see it. This one’s going in all three of my granddaughters’ stockings. I hope we see a lot more from this author-artist team in the years ahead!

“Fellow night-owl Christi Zellerhoff answers The Questions on dSavannah Rambles. Learn her guilty pleasure!”

Recently I had the privilege of meeting and being interviewed by Debbie S. George-Jones-author, book reviewer, and blogger. She is witty, a very talented artist, and  a passionate humanitarian. Check out her fun blog-dSavannah Rambles and her beautiful art-dSavannah Creative!

The Questions with Christi Zellerhoff: children’s books writer

Princesses Can Be Pirates TooI hope y’all are having as much reading The Questions as I am posting them!

This edition features my first author of children’s books! I can’t remember when I ran across Christi, but the next thing I knew, she was getting published by Booktrope. (For funsies, read her blog post The Publisher that said “YES”. Oh, and how cute is this post, where her daughter sees the e-book for the first time?!?!?!) The book just got released in paperbook on Amazon on 11/30/12, and will be released as an e-book soon.

Anyway, her first (of many more to come) children’s picture books is Princesses Can Be Pirates Too!

Who says girls can’t play boys’ make-believe games too? “No Girls Allowed” will simply NOT do for this little Princess! The book proves that just because a girl is wearing a crown and pink fluffy dress doesn’t mean she can’t act like a pirate just as good as any boy. Yes—even a refined and dainty princess can become a rough and tumble pirate!

A princess can do what pirates can too;
she can captain a ship and take charge of the crew;
Should unfriendly pirates try climbing aboard,
she can fend of the foes with a swoosh of her sword!

And it’s already getting rave reviews on Amazon! I checked just before I published this post, and so far, it’s gotten six five-star reviews, like this one:

Princesses Can Be Pirates Too - review

Princesses Can Be Pirates Too – review

As a staunch feminist, I can get behind a book that tells girls they can do/be whatever they want. (Note: See The Questions with Stephanie Kate Strohm for my take on her YA book Pilgrim’s Don’t Wear Pink, featuring a fun, intelligent, history-loving teen heroine, who, yes, loves pink.)

This also brings to mind an incident that happened to me when I was a mere lass (under 9, but I can’t remember exactly how old). As mentioned in previous posts, I’m a missionary kid. My family and I were visiting a church as part of our traveling around the U.S. asking for money to support our missionary work. I happened to be sitting quietly in a pew after service, playing with a toy car. A woman stopped and asked me if I was a boy. That got my mom all riled up. I don’t think I’ll ever forget her telling that woman “she can play with whatever she wants! Toys aren’t just for boys or just for girls!” (Paraphrasing, of course.)

Princesses Can Be Pirates Too! is illustrated by Amy Davis…. And I’m pleased to announce that Amy was convinced to answer The Questions too… and you’ll get to read her answers tomorrow!

But enough about me! On to Christi’s answers to….

The Questions

9. What is a guilty pleasure?

My guilty pleasure is a McDonald’s Coke! McDonald’s Coke is unlike any other fast food restaurant. For instance: Taco Time’s Coke has a hint of lemon, Burger King’s Coke is too sweet. McDonald’s, on the other hand, has the perfect calibration of syrup and carbonation; plus, McDonald’s has the best straws! Think I am crazy? (Okay, I concede…probably fanatical.) I personally know seven other people who are McDonald’s Coke cult followers too. Shocking! We all say the same thing—yes, even the part about the straws!

(dSavannah note: What a weirdo! :) And I’m curious: is this every single McD’s she’s ever been to, or just the one closest to her house? Hmmm….)

12. Where is your favorite place to create?

A specific “create place” is difficult to pinpoint. My mind is always whirling. I have been known to pull over while driving and frantically searching for a napkin to scribble ideas and paragraphs. In bed, late at night, I also get inspired. A couple of nights ago I actually got up three times to write down stanzas for my new children’s book. “Why don’t you just keep a notebook by your bed?” questioned a good friend. Duh! I now carry a notebook wherever I go.

(dSavannah note: Writers and artists, take note: keeping a notebook nearby at all times is a must!)

13. Are you a morning person or a night owl?

Much to my husband’s chagrin, I am a night owl. (He wakes up at 4:00am to go to work.) I am hit with my writing inspiration around 10:00pm and am unstoppable. My creative mania kicks in and I could easily write until 2:00am or clean my house with a toothbrush if I could! In fact, he has scolded me a couple of times when he woke up only to find me still at my computer, pulling an all-nighter! Oh—I try to go to bed (8:30pm) when he does just to be “normal”, but eventually I get up and get productive—“Christi style!”

(dSavannah note: me too! My night-owlishness drives my hubs bonkers. In fact, it’s 2am as I work on this post! Christi and I have had several conversations on Facebook in the middle of the night.)

18. Your work space: neat or messy?

Messy! I guess I work better in chaos! Hmmm…what does that say about my personality?

(dSavannah note: I’m not sure…)

33. Why do you create in your medium/genre? What about it speaks to you?

Truthfully, I never envisioned myself an author of children’s books. That happened unexpectedly when I became a mom and overheard my children arguing. Viola! A story was born. More fun children’s books are in the works because my children provide constant inspiration and content!

However, many people don’t know that in my heart of hearts, drawing from my own personal experiences, I believe my “calling” is to write books that encourage hope and inspire women to overcome childhood adversity. Specifically, I want to point women heavenward, to draw on God’s strength, as a source of grace that enables forgiveness. I began writing my memoir, Forgiving the Unforgivable, four years ago. It has been a journey through pain, strengthened faith and healing. I have put it aside many times because of the pain it has evoked but recently began writing it again. It is time. Debbie, I applaud your courage to write about difficult issues that most people prefer to ignore. You inspire me.

(dSavannah note: Wow. Thank you. I’m glad my posts are inspiring you. Eventually I will write my own memoir, but I’m just now getting to where I can even consider writing it, much less actually start doing the writing.)

35. Tell me one random fact about you that not a lot of people know.

I sold used cars during my college summer breaks. It was a “beater” car lot—the cheapest car was usually $99.00 and the most expensive was $2,500. If someone wanted to test-drive a car, I often had to get the jumper cables to start it up. I lived by the motto “What you see is what you get.” I wasn’t kidding!!

36. What is the first thing you remember creating as a child? Do you still have it?

In my 2nd grade class I made a little house out of 4 wooden blocks and 1 piece of composite shingle. I had a vision—it would be yellow and green. However, when I was finished with it, each block was a different color, the windows were crooked, and the roof slanted. Do I still have it? No—my mom does and displays it proudly on her coffee table. I love her tender and sentimental heart!

(dSavannah note: I actually ask this question because my mom still has a bunch of stuff I created as a kid, and she showed it to me recently. My favorite? An “aquarium” I made out of a jelly jar with paper “fish” tied to the lid with yarn and hanging down into the “water”. I put real shells on the bottom.)

About Christi:

Christi ZellerhoffA Seattle native, Christi draws inspiration for her children’s book ideas from several typical parenting routines; watching her children play or argue, overhearing them sing or talk while driving in the car, and listening to all the amazing ideas, concerns, & questions that come up at bedtime. Princesses Can Be Pirates Too! is the first, but her children have inspired many more literary surprises already in the works!

 

Find Christi:

“Because You Look Like One….” ~Charlie, age 5

Today I had the privilege of reading “Princesses Can Be Pirates Too!” to the students in my children’s former Kindergarten class. I must say, I was nervous! These kids are my toughest critics and I wanted to impress.

While waiting for the kids to settle in from recess and snack time, a boy marched straight up to me, looked me square in the eye and said, “Are you an author?” Totally flattered, I responded “Why yes I am, how did you know?” “Because you look like one!” (Charlie, age 5).

So it is official, I have been deemed a legitimate author in the eyes of a child!

Bringing the story to life by reading it aloud to a classroom full of children was a thrill. They listened, followed along, and had much to say about the book afterwards, revealing their true understanding of the story they heard…

  • “Princesses can’t be pirates because princesses are girls and pirates are boys…”
  • “In real life they princesses and pirates couldn’t get along because pirates don’t like trespassers!”
  • “How big is your kids’ boat?”
  • “Can boys be princesses?”

Thank you for the wonderful opportunity Ms. Durant; it doesn’t get any better than this!

The Year of the “Creepy Plastic Santa Photo”

Hey kids! Let’s take the commuter train to Seattle to get your pictures taken with Santa!” I said, thinking I was the coolest mom ever and scoring big brownie points with my kids for taking them on their first “train” ride.  I had visions of their “oooing and ahhhing” in wonder as we peered out the window over the snow covered scenery on our quest to find Santa. We were going to make a day out of it; a fun train ride, lunch, a carousel ride, and Santa photos!  It would be perfect.

Awwwwwwwwww mom! Do we have to go!” protested my son. “Hurray-we get to see Santa and tell him what we want for Christmas!” was my daughter’s gleeful reply. “Oh great!” I thought-”we haven’t even stepped foot out the door and I am already set up to fail-can’t please them both.” One child wants to stay and the other wants to go.  My daughter won out-because secretly-going to see Santa was just as fun for me! My son, on the other hand, sat in the back seat and grumbled.

Undaunted-I pulled into the commuter train parking lot and began circling for a parking spot …and circling…and circling….because “By golly, we were going to ride that train!” I quickly learned that I wasn’t the only mom that had the “Oh goody, let’s ride the train today!” idea. Cars were lurking around every corner waiting….lurking…& waiting. After 30 minutes of waiting for a parking spot, I had had it. “That’s it! I am not wasting anymore time looking for a parking spot-we’re driving instead!” I did not hear one peep from the back seat. Our quest for Santa continued.

We finally arrived and paid a 2nd mortgage for a downtown parking spot and began walking to the famed “Nordstrom Santa.” To my horror, the line wrapped all the way around the block. “Duh Christi! What do you expect!” said my inner mom.  ”Don’t worry kids, the line will move quickly.” We took our place in line and there we were, lost in a sea of primping parents and fussy kids. “Mom?” my daughter whispers, “I have to go to the bathroom.ARRRGH!

We pulled out of line, now the quest for a bathroom trumped Santa photos.  After her business, we got back in line-at the end of it.  ”Mom-I’m hungry.” “Mom-how long do we have to wait?” “Mom-I’m bored.” “Mom-I want to go home!”  I took a deep breath and swallowed hard-”Hold it together Christi” I thought as I was figuring out what to say back to my kiddos, trying not to unleash my “psycho mom” for all in line to witness.

Overhearing my children whining, a dad passing by took pity on me…”Ma’am, there isn’t a line at Macy’s right now, why don’t you go there to get your Santa photo?” Taking hold of my kids’ hands, we scooted across the street. Game on! Our quest for Santa continued.

No line indeed! Ugh, of course there was a line when we arrived, perhaps only 75 people instead of 250! I was determined. I convinced my kids to wait. And we waited…and waited…and waited.   FINALLY we got to the front of the line and Santa’s “Elf” pulled the rope across to section off the photo area. “Santa has to go to lunch now, he will be back in one hour.” ARRRRRRGH!!!!!! That was the final straw-I was done with this quest to find the perfect Santa and photo stage. A stupid photo wasn’t worth it!! “That’s it, we are going home!

With my kids in tow, we headed back to the car. My grandiose plans of having a lovely day with my kids, doing “christmassy” things were foiled. Total defeat! My son was glad to be going home and my daughter was crying to be leaving without seeing Santa. I guess they were even.

Just as I was trying to think of what to say before my head exploded, I saw him. From the corner of my eye, as we passed the candy store, there he was in all of his glory. Santa Claus…WITH NO LINE!!

Quick kids! Stand next to Santa so I can take your picture with him.”  ”But he is a fake mom!” protested my son. My daughter just stared at him with wide eyes, not daring to take another step forward. “It’s okay kids, it will only take a second, go stand next to him.” “But he is a creepy plastic Santa Claus!” my son shouted.

Yes, indeed, he was a life size Santa Claus-made entirely out of plastic. I was thrilled! He was perfect. No line!

The year of the creepy plastic Santa photo!

Come on kids,” I goaded-”He looks so real, no one will be able to tell in the picture that he is made out of plastic! Well, not really….” My kids were mortified, but bless their little hearts, they posed with the creepy plastic Santa Claus anyway. Victory for mom! The quest was a success!

Two Christmases have since passed and we still laugh when I display the “Creepy Plastic Santa Claus” photo next to the advent calendar. Looking at that photo and fondly sharing the memory together, we all agree that the “Year of the Creepy Plastic Santa Photo,” turned out to be perhaps the most fun and memorable Santa photo of all.

HO! HO! HO! MERRY CHRISTMAS!