Jul 26, 2012

Students-Publish at Poetic Power!

At poeticpower.com, students can submit their poems and get them published! Any grade K-12 can submit. August 16 is the upcoming deadline, so have your child start practicing! Throughout my blog, I have several different types of poems that give examples of what is out there in terms of poetry types. Check it out! You can also get on Poetic Power's website, and get the same information. If you click on the green "Teacher's Corner" tab in the upper right hand corner, you will be directed to a list of resources. Click on "Internet Poetry Resource," select a grade, then "type of poetry," and then you can scroll through the list of possible types of poems.

Getting published early on is a great way to get your child's foot in the door in the publishing world, and as a poetry judge, I would love to share some great tips that would help your child get published! Poetic Power is a company that offers just enough of a competitive edge to make a published student feel proud. Not everyone who submits gets published, but I have found a pattern in what makes a poem really great...or really dumb.
1. We can tell when a poem is submitted just to be submitted. "A dog and a frog sat on a log drinking eggnog" will NOT get published. Neither will, "My mom is dumb, my brother is mean, I love bacon and the color green." Ugh. I swear, if I ever come across another bacon poem, I think I will scream.
2. Poems do NOT need to rhyme. While many great poems I've read have rhymed, a really, really bad rhyme anywhere in the poem will make it so the poem is not published. An example of this is, "Kittens are soft, I love the way they lick my nose, they are so friendly, I think I'll take a doze." If it's not going to rhyme with anything, don't force a dumb one in there.
3. The best poems I have read are based off of true feelings or experiences. Some of my favorite ones are about the students' hobbies, such as basketball, ballet, reading, or even writing. Death of a loved one, a love poem, or even poetry about boredom are also great topics.

On the website poeticpower.com, you can check out the poem of the day in the top right hand corner for an idea, or you can click on the orange "winners" tab in the upper right hand corner to read past winning poems. All poems that are accepted will get published, with the opportunity to buy the book. (But make sure you send in your permission to printl!!) I really hope you can get your child motivated to submit a poem for this contest! There are 3 poetry contests each year. The deadlines are as follows:
Spring: August 11, 2013
Summer: August 12, 2012
Fall: December 6, 2012

Good luck!

Jul 23, 2012

Stormy Day

You know how there's something invigorating and exciting when you wake up to sunny, blue skies and birds chirping, and you know it's going to be a perfect day? That's how I feel when I see a storm approaching. The skies become charcoal in the distance, and the mountains and valley get this incredible golden glow as the clouds creep closer and deepen in color. The way the leaves swish,
and the sweet smell of
approaching rain are things I enjoy...but then the
thunder rumbles deeply and quietly, and I get this incredible sensation, like something great is about to happen. And then it does. An ominous CRACK explodes in the sky, the rain gushes from the clouds, and lightning pierces through the thick, heavy sky, threatening to strike from ten different directions. The rain crashes to the ground,
and it sounds like rice spilling over my kitchen floor. I am entranced, the way most are when they stare into fire. I absolutely love storms. I love the thrill
when the lights flicker in the early evening, and then go out. I love the black canvas of the sky as bright lights scrape against it, the streets as huge puddles form, the cold wind that engulfs us with the sweetest of all perfumes, and the symphony of the thunder.

I am incredibly lucky that my family shares my love for this great show of nature. If black clouds are in the distance, my husband helps me gather the kids, and we clamber into our van to chase down those clouds and catch the rain. We actually chased a storm clear
into Idaho one year, but we never quite caught up to it. On one occasion, when the rain poured down long and hard, my husband
drove us all around town, searching for the biggest puddles to drive our car through. I swear I thought we were going to get stuck, because the streets were flooding so badly, but we all loved it, and went around the block a second and third time on the really big ones. On days where gas money is tight, we sit on our porch, wrapped in warm blankets with bare feet, and we watch. If the wind is too strong, we watch from our open windows, lights turned off to catch all of the glory. "Did you hear the fumder?" my children excitedly shriek at each little rumble. Storms are my family's favorite event.

But then, just as suddenly as it has come, the storm stops. My heart sinks as the clouds wring out their last few drops, and when the sun pushes the blackness away. I search the sky for any lingering flashes of light, and shush those around me with the hopes of catching one last parting sound of thunder...which never comes. I hate the ending of storms. It's like the day after Christmas when the excitement is gone, and when regular songs are back on
the radio. When the storm has ended, there's nothing left to watch, nothing left to listen to. Sure, rainbows are pretty, but they are nothing to the blinding flashes of lightning. Yes, I love to hear the songs of birds, but it's such a letdown after hearing the booming thunder. Maybe it's the infrequency of Utah storms that make them so special to us, and for that I am grateful. It gives me something wonderful to look forward to.

Jul 21, 2012

Lazy lazy lazy!

If there's one thing I HATE in life, it's being lazy. And if there's one thing I'm amazingly good at, it's being lazy. My dishes tend to pile up after a week of an incredibly clean kitchen, because I get too lazy to wash out that ONE pan. But somehow, it breeds overnight like a rabbit, and the next morning,
I'm bombarded by an army of dishes that are threatening to overtake my house. Let's not even start with laundry. Well, no, I refuse to be lazy. Let's talk about laundry. One of life's great little luxuries are laundry chutes. You don't know how great they are until you actually get one. No more clothes hampers bulging with clothes (probably spilling out onto the floor), no more hauling a heavy laundry basket around on your hip as you wobble to the washing machine. Nope. With a laundry chute, everything gets thrown down...and forgotten...until yo
u venture into the laundry room. You might as well bring SCUBA gear, because you're drowning in an ocean of moldy-smelling towels, soiled sheets, muddy pants and wet socks turned inside out. It's a nightmare (especially during spider season--eek!). The first load or two aren't bad, but if I don't get those things folded and put away, both my laundry baskets get stored in my closet for a week or so, piled high with clothes that I pick through for the next several days until the basket is practically emptied. And yes, I have two laundry baskets, because I know I never fold laundry. I convinced my husband to buy me a second one, explaining that if I always had an empty basket to take downstairs to unload the dryer, laundry would be guaranteed to get done. Guess what? Maybe if I get ten more baskets, I could uphold that promise! I don't know why I get too lazy to fold. I actually enjoy doing it. Okay, I hate sorting clean lau
ndry when my shirts and socks get mixed in with kitchen towels and baby socks...especially if
I'm folding when the kids are asleep, and I can't put the laundry away in their rooms. Yes, it would appear that laziness is my true nemesis.
Being lazy is a pattern that is truly difficult to break. At night, when the kids are all in bed and the night is mine to take on, I can guarantee you that I won't be in my room, folding socks. Nope. I'm on the computer, watching a movie. The kitchen floor isn't mopped (but I can guarantee you that it WILL get mopped at midnight in about 12 days when I'm suddenly hit with the urge to clean). The garbage cans are still full, the children's shoes are still scattered on the floor, and the dining room table most likely is filled with empty dinner dishes (and milk that my son refused to drink).
As I sit here confessing, I
can't help but wonder how I got this way. I used to abhor messes. I couldn't believe when I saw how dirty my soon-to-be husband's stove was, or when I heard about girls who hated doing laundry, or when I saw my friend's (gasp) unmade bed! How could anyone let their living room be littered with toys? Just pick up the dozen toys scattered, and it would look great! I will admit that I have improved over the last year, but that's because I suddenly realized that living like a pig isn't my right as a tired mother.
How I keep house is a choice, because my husband can attest how my home's cleanliness affects my mood. I am so much happier when I wake up in the morning to a clean house. Cooking doesn't become a dreaded chore, because my counters are clear and (almost) sparkly. I'm willing to make chocolate chip cookies with my children, because there's room to make a mess!
Last week, my m
other-in-law asked me to edit her personal history she has been working on for over a year now. I anxiously took it, eager to edit. You know what's sad? This is the second time she has given it to me. The first time she put it in my hands, I was too lazy, and it went unread for several months. Today, she asked if I had read any, and with great shame, I had to admit that I had not. Laziness is my true enemy.
With that awful shame as my new motivator, I determined that I was going to get some editing done tonight. As I sat down at the computer, my nemesis attacked me. A mental list of possible movies ran through my mind as I flipped the screen open. But I endured. I began reading, and I am so glad I did, because what I read was truly amazing!
Every time I accomplish something I have been putting off, I slap myself, wondering why on earth I hadn't done it sooner! I remember a huge project I was given at the beginning of one of my college semesters. It loomed over my head every day, but I succumbed to laziness,
postponing it until the LAST. POSSIBLE. MINUTE. The night before it was due, I sat down to complete a monster of a project. And there I realized, after an hour, that it actually wasn't a monster.
Why do we do that? Why do I so often become a slave to laziness, when I know how much better off I am without it? Every day is a battle, and it's daunting, because even though I mastered my weakness today, I still have to face it again tomorrow. And I don't know if I'll be strong enough.

Jul 17, 2012

If (Dating) Adults Were Like Babies

Everything babies do is adorable, but can you imagine what things would be like if adults did those things, especially on a date?
When your date comes to pick you up and he's walking you to his car, you have to run back inside and change underwear, because you've just messed yourself.
Once you're cleaned up and inside his car, you fall asleep after you're buckled in. And you drool.
When you get to the restaurant, you're tired and don't want to leave the car, so you suck your thumb to soothe yourself.
After you've been seated, the waiter approaches, and you don't like the way he looks, so you cry. After he brings you your drink, you stare at him and laugh. And then you pull his finger.
While you guzzle your drink, it spills all over your chin. You cough, because you drank too fast, and your full mouth gets emptied all over your clothes.
You realize you can't breathe as well as you should, so you sneeze to clear everything out.
You intently watch everyone around you, and smile at them. You avoid eye-contact with your date at all costs. You cry if he tries too hard to get you to laugh.
When you get your food, you squish it with your hands, because the texture is just so amazing. You throw some at your date so he can feel it, too, if he wants.
After you've eaten, you let out a long, satisfying burp. And then another. And then you throw up.
On your way to the movie theater, you fall asleep again.
After you've found your seat, your date hands you the bucket of popcorn. You're so excited to be in a theater that you knock the entire bucket over with your flailing arms.
When the movie's about to start and the lights dim and the room is finally quiet, you break wind.
During the movie's climax, you decide you're ready to start babbling. Loudly.
Your date tries to soothe you by rubbing your hair, and then you realize how bored you are. He walks with you up and down the aisle for the rest of the movie.
You discover your date's car keys in his pocket, and you decide you really need to suck on them. So you do. And then you realize that you want to suck on his fingers. But they taste salty from the popcorn, so you spit them out. And then you give them a second try. And then a third try. And then you try your own. Ahh. Much better.
As your date walks you back to his car, you demand to suck on his car keys again. They're still wet from earlier.
You cry when he takes them away, and you cry when you're buckled in your seat. Then you look down and notice your shoes, so you pull them off and play with your toes for the entire ride home.
When you reach your house, your date helps you put your shoes back on. You grin at him with a large, toothless grin, and he forgets all the trouble you caused him earlier.
He walks you to your doorstep. Just as he goes in for a kiss, you decide to blow raspberries.
It's a good thing adults are not like babies!

Jul 16, 2012

My first job and first encounter with the police!

I remember the summer I turned 16. I was finally able to date, and I was finally able to get a job. This was going to be the year I finally officially grew up. My best friend got hired at Target in the clothing department, and I knew that that was going to be where I also wanted to go. I was ecstatic when I got called in for my interview. My very first job interview! Before meeting with H.R., I was given an enormous packet to fill out. The questions seemed fairly easy, until I reached on that I still don't understand to this day: Are you street smart? Okay, was this a trick question? Were they referring to knowledge on the street pertaining to drugs, or did it mean I was competent in general knowledge? I sat sweating for five minutes, mulling over this awful question. Finally, I just answered. To be honest, I don't even know how I answered it. Then, to make matters worse, when I was called in to meet with H.R., I was told that all of the retail positions had been filled. Was I interested in being a cart collector? Were they actually being serious? What a disaster that interview ended up being! I turned down the job, because I wasn't desperate...yet.

After a while, I came across an opening as a kennel attendant at Parrish Creek Veterinary Clinic. I nervously made my way into the building to pick up a job application. When I came inside, I excitedly witnessed a woman wiping down the weight scale that a nervous dog had...left a present on. I somehow knew that I would be the one doing that! After I had filled out my application and sweated through my references, I finally made it back to turn it in. I was called for an interview a short time later. It was during the interview that I was told that the job was mine. It was perfect!

Working as a kennel attendant was an amazing...and amazingly difficult job. I learned to do things I never in a million years pictured doing, such as developing x-rays and assisting with surgery. My daily duties included sweeping out each exam room and spraying down the sink, tables and chairs with a potent-minty spray that I secretly loved. I swept up dogs' huge, black toenail clippings, emptied the garbage, and restocked tongue-depressors, needles, and anything else. I washed out syringes, scrubbed down the tray used for dental work, and sanitized dental equipment with an autoclave (sort of like a pressure cooker, but for medical instruments). I washed towels for the kennels, washed and dried cats and d
ogs, held onto little parakeets with sweaty hands while the vet examined them.
I helped euthanize pets, and carried their limp bodies out back to the freezer. I held a snake, picked up dog poop, and got attacked by a dalmatian, which gave me a black eye. I sprayed out
kennels, fed the animals, and *gulp* answered the phone sometimes. Then, when everyone had left for the day, I filed, swept, mopped, and weighed the animals, medicating them if necessary. It was a tough, tough job.

One particularly bad night brought the cops by. It still makes me sick to think about. I had been in the back, cleaning, when I heard a knock at the front door. Curious, I went out front, and saw a woman with a dog. I believe she told me that she found the dog, and wondered if we'd board him overnight for her, and she'd pick him up in the morning. I was nervous, and uncertain of what our protocol was, and ended up taking him in. It wasn't until she left that I realized what a stupid mistake I had made. But what was I supposed to do? I felt sick with guilt...and then I heard loud, booming knocking on the front door a short time later. I was terrified. I stayed in the back with my mop, and turned up the radio. If I pretended I didn't hear them, maybe they would go away. The knocking continued, and then I heard a garbled voice over a loud speaker.
What? I peeked around the corner, and saw flashing red and blue lights. What were the police doing here?! If there had been a back door, I'm pretty certain I would have fled for my life. Instead, I forced myself to go out front and let them in. Luckily, they just informed me that someone saw the lady drop the dog off, and that I wasn't responsible for boarding it, and they took the dog away. What a relief that they weren't going to take me away in handcuffs!

That was by far the hardest job I had ever had. I loved what I did, but some days proved to be an incredible challenge. When my last day of work approached, I found out that two people were going to replace me. Too bad they didn't realize they were short-handed when I had worked there!

Jul 13, 2012

Summer Free Verse Poetry

Free verse poetry is super easy to write. There are no rules, just the way I like it sometimes. I think this type of poetry is true to the heart, and all of my poems I wrote growing up were free verse. Of course, they were all love poems at the time, so by the time I grew up, I was pretty tired of them. Anyway, here are 2 that I wrote.

Summer Sky

Dollops of

Whipped cream clouds


Across the blueberry syrup sky.


Water has no scent

Until it splashes on a hot July sidewalk

Lightning makes no sound

Until it strikes a tree down

The sound of my voice

Drops down to my feet

Unless a canyon wall scoops it back up

And tosses it back and forth

The wind is silent

Until it shakes the sleeping trees

And my heart goes unnoticed

Until it falls in love.

Jul 8, 2012

Identity Crisis

You know how they say there are only 2 certain things in life--death and taxes? Well, I've just found a third: identity crisis. You'd think that by now, I'd be over the whole searching-for-my-identity thing, but the truth is, it's an ongoing process I don't think I will EVER achieve.

When I was a child, I was SHY. I'm not talking about speaking quietly or offering a small smile to strangers. This was painful shyness, one where if I found out we were going to eat out at a restaurant, I was mortified that people might look at me while I ate. With the last name of Frye, I was casually teased by boys who made me horrified of my last name, and if all possible, I would avoid letting people know it. So when a boy happened to pass me at school wearing my same UGLY blue moon boots, I thought I would die. And when my mom made me wear a plastic bag tied around the cast on my leg. And when I found out we were doing all those physical exercise tests in P.E. the only day I decided to wear my tightest pair of jeans. Yeah. Life was tough for a shy girl. I remember coming home from school one day ecstatic because I actually got in trouble for talking in class. Ecstatic...because I had talked...loudly!

Once I reached junior high/high school age, my self-worth was based off of how many friends I had. On the last day of school, I would seek out as many acquaintances as I could to sign my yearbook, so that maybe, when I was looking back at them fifteen years down the road, I might forget that I really only had like five really good friends. I honestly thought that the more signatures I had, the more my life was worth.

This was also the time period where I thought I was nobody because I didn't have a boyfriend. The only girls whose lives I desperately wanted were those who were going out on dates, kissing boys, or holding hands with boys. Even those girls who simply got asked to dance got my full serving of envy. This identity crisis followed me to college.

I was certain that once I reached college, I would meet the man of my dreams, and get married within a year or two. My new identity was "single." Then, something strange happened. I suddenly turned into the world's biggest flirt. I lost my fear of boys, and shyness flew out the window. When I told people that I used to be shy, their mouths dropped open in disbelief. There was no way this girl was EVER shy! I was now officially "flirt." How many guys I had swarming me was the reason for my self-worth. I was now a dating machine, securing dates nearly every single weekend. If I went two consecutive weeks without a date, I thought my life was over. Who I was depended on how many guys liked me.

The one milestone I had desperately wanted to reach since I was probably 3 years old was getting married. Once I got married, all of my problems would magically vanish. I would be an adult, I could handle anything life threw my way, I would be mature, pretty, friendly, successful, and, of course, envied. So, when I finally got that gorgeous engagement ring, I smugly flaunted my new "engaged" status. I turned my nose up at good-looking single guys, because suddenly, I was better than them. I was going to get married. And they weren't. Those gorgeous, flirty, skinny girls were suddenly beneath me, because I had a shiny diamond on my finger, and they didn't. I relished the dirty looks they gave me, and happily accepted my roommates' sneers as I admired the most coveted item in the "single" world. I couldn't be happier.

Once I was married and home from the honeymoon, "newlywed" status, I learned, wasn't anything great. The family ward my husband and I went to was pretty transient, so you were a nobody unless you were either in the ward for over a year, or you had children. People eagerly wanted to know when we would become parents. Nobody cared anymore about the diamond on my finger.

When I became pregnant with my first child, I was ecstatic. "Pregnant" was awesome! I was on my way to becoming a mother...until I got sick. "Pregnant" was not that great. I gained half a million pounds, and was forced to eat and eat and eat so I wouldn't keep throwing up. My back ached, it was hard to get up and get things, I was tired all the time, and I just wanted to be a mother.

Eight months later, my status changed. Finally. "Mother" was what I had always wanted. I was officially an adult--although, honestly, I didn't feel like it. It took almost an entire year before my son was able to sleep through the night. I was tired, grouchy, didn't want to clean, and because it was so cold outside, was stuck inside my little apartment with a crying baby while my husband ditched me...for work. And then school. I was lonely, bored, stressed, and because I was married, I had no guys to validate my worth. Naps were vital for my baby, and so I gave up spending time with friends. "Mother" stunk!

While I had a hard time adjusting to my new role, I was aware that my status would rise if I had several children. The more children you had, the better/more successful mother it meant you were. So I was happy when I found out I was pregnant with my second child. When I saw pictures of my college friends who were mothers to three, four children, I knew I had to "catch up" to them. Mormon moms needed lots of children. That's just how it was supposed to be.

So, here I am, mom to four little boys, hair graying probably a little faster than it should. I was tired, stressed, and needed a break. I got a great part-time job, because "Mother" just wasn't as glamorous as I was certain it should have been. I wanted another role in life. I was now "contest judge", "employed" and I knew I was finally somebody again. But I felt that ache as I drove to work every day, guilty for leaving my husband home with three young boys and a newborn. I should have been home. I needed to be there, cooking for my family, baking cookies, mopping the floors, folding laundry, instead of sitting at a computer and laughing and loving the silence. I embraced my employment by dressing up, make-up on, earrings matching my necklace, and feeling business-like and sexy. But I still had a newborn to worry about. It's hard feeling sexy walking into your workplace carrying in a bag of milk that you just pumped. Whether I wanted to be it or not, "Mother" was the role I was keeping, and it wouldn't be replaced.

Just like the circle of life, I'm pretty much back to square one. With the craziness of mothering four young, active children, I haven't had much opportunity for friends. That shyness that I kicked out the window about 10 years ago is back in full force, haunting me. Meeting my new neighbors has become terrifying, when just a few years ago, I would have run up to them, anxious to develop a friendship. Several of my good friends I haven't seen in over a year, because I'm bombarded with feedings and nap times and dishes and just plain old exhaustion. My idea of a good time now is eating chocolate and Cheetos and watching a movie at night--uninterrupted by children.

Don't get me wrong. I love being a mother. I love my son's sweet smiles, their fierce embrace before bedtime, the way they play with my hair when I read to them, the way their young, squeaky voices say, "Mom, I love you a hundred million thirteen million five-teen." My husband treats me like I'm sexy, cooks for me when I'm too tired, and lets me take naps in the morning before he has to go to work--tired. But I am still searching for who I am. I miss the spontaneity I used to have, the nights I'd blow $3 to go country dancing until the early morning hours. I miss being in school, and going out with a bunch of friends, and going out for a midnight run to Denny's, just because we could. I miss being able to buy clothes whenever I wanted, and I miss the enjoyment grocery shopping used to bring me. But I suppose that with everything I have achieved in life, I AM more than a mother. I am an adventurer. I have achieved so many identities, and my personality has developed everywhere. I've done things I never thought I'd do in a million years, and I'm living the dream I prayed for for over 20 years. So what if all of my identities aren't perfect? I have everything I've ever wanted, and though I'll probably want something a little bit more, and want to be someone a little bit different, I have lived a great life. And I am happy.

Jul 6, 2012

5 W's poems

One type of formula poem I wanted to try was the 5 Ws:
line 1: who or what is the poem about?
line 2: what is happening?
line 3: when is this taking place?
line 4: where is it taking place?
line 5: why is it happening?

I decided to write several different formula poems and ended up combining them into one poem.

Someone Else's Day

A new, swaddled baby
Three hours before the sun will rise
In his cradle in the dark nursery
Because he wants his mother's warm embrace.

A pilot
Yells out a prayer as he tries to lower the plane
At 7:07 a.m.
Over the sharp, rocky mountains
As the smoke engulfs the wings.

A group of children shriek
As they run into the road collecting candy
During the noisy parade
In their small town
For Independence Day.

A girl with over-sized pink sunglasses
Grabs her younger brother's hand
Before their shovel-and-pail sandcastle is finished
Running up the beach
Because the tide is rushing in.

A tired firefighter
Wipes his ashen brow
While massive flames engulf
An old brick building on Main
That's taken hours to control.

Softy chirping
Just before midnight
Under the starry sky
Putting me to sleep.

Jul 4, 2012

Diamante poems

A diamante poem is written using this formula:
line 1: single word as topic; line 7 is also a singular word, but it contrasts line 1
line 2: two adjectives describing line 1
line 3: three -ing verbs that describe actions associated with line 1
line 4: this line has four nouns; the first 2 describe line one, and the second 2 describe line 7
line 5: three -ing verbs that describe line 7
line 6: two adjectives describing line 7
line 7: single word that contrasts line 1

hot, prickly
sweating, fanning, relaxing
pools, picnics, sleds, snowballs
shivering, slipping, shopping
cold, soft

patriotic, noisy
swimming, camping, hiking
parades, fireworks, snowmen, gingerbread houses
baking, sledding, shoveling
greedy, anxious

loud, colorful
exploding, dropping, smoking
music, crowds, quiet, alone
drifting, floating, sailing
white, soft

dark, cold
howling, pouring, frightening
thunder, lightning, rainbow, birds
mowing, planting, playing
warm, calm

loud, chaotic
yelling, laughing, breaking
toys, messes, whispers, advice
talking, joking, calming
logical, sane

new, warmth
planting, raining, budding
eggs, baskets, leaves, jack-o'-lanterns
raking, jumping, crunching
cool, excited

loud, fun
swinging, two-stepping, swaying
twirls, dips, chair, wall
sitting, waiting, hoping
lonely, bored