Wednesday, July 4, 2012


David and I had such a great time at the launch party last weekend.  We appreciate everyone who came out and we heard so many wonderful things about our stories, that we decided we wanted to share the books with as many people as possible.  So, to celebrate the July 4th holiday, today through July 8, download your Kindle version FREE from of BOTH How David Met Sarah AND When David was Surprised.  

If you don't have a Kindle, you can download a free Kindle app.

Please download your copies and help us spread the word.  Then tell us what you think by leaving a review on Amazon, liking us on Facebook, or following us on Twitter @anniekelleher.  Thank you so much.... Annie and David.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Thought for today (and maybe May)

"One's destination is never a place, but a new way of seeing." - Henry Miller.

For some reason, this sentence spoke to my soul this morning.  What speaks to yours, Gentle Reader? 

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Theme for April

Gentle readers familiar with this blog may remember that at the beginning of this calendar year, I decided to give each month a focus or a theme.  January was food, February was fitness, March was mayhem.  It might seem a bit like cheating to announce the theme for April in retrospect but since it was such a topsy-turvy month, for a while it felt like March's mayhem had just continued.  

But when I look back at how I spent my time this past month, I realize that my focus was on nurturing.  This month I took some significant steps to nurture not just my grandchildren and my puppies, I also focused a fair amount of my time and energy on myself and my writing. 

I spent two hours a week every week at physical therapy for my perennially painful neck.  I continued my yoga practice and even expanded it.  I eliminated gluten from my diet completely and have decided to give up alcohol until the summer solstice.  I've also taken stock of what resources I have to devote to publicity for my writing, in order to create more energy to devote to the actual writing.  I've cleaned and organized my writing area and made plans to freshen it up once my babysitting duties are mostly done.  I say mostly, because I'll continue to take care of Jake and Grace one day a week.  

It's hard to believe that almost four weeks have gone so quickly, and that a new month - and a new focus - are just around the corner.  

Sunday, April 22, 2012

What I've seen

I read an article in The New York Times this morning that made me a little sad - it talked about how the friendships between young adults can become strained when the young adults become parents.  The article mentioned all sorts of theories of parenting as the battle lines along which friendships are fought, but never mentioned the parents of the young adults at all.  The article seemed to assume that if the young adults had learned anything at all from the previous generation, it was what not to do.

I think that's sad but I think I understand why that's so.  I don't the previous generation is that awful...given that I number myself among them.  If you can get a kid from zero to 18 alive, given today's conditions, I think you can consider yourself a Gold Star parent.

I think most young parents are clueless because most young parents don't remember their parents parenting a young baby.  Now that the prevailing fashion is to wait to have children, everyone has their kids in clumps.  I considered myself extremely fortunate that I had siblings 11 and 16 years younger than myself when I had my first baby.  I'd had such direct hands-on experience of taking care of  infants, mine wasn't that mysterious to me.  Sure, I consulted the "authorities" of the day and my pediatrician if the situation seemed to warrant it, but mostly I relied on my mother and my own intuition to read what the baby was trying to tell me, because of all the diapering and feeding and care-giving I'd done.

I thought it was such a useful model of parenting that I replicated it, to the extent that I could, with my own children:  spaced across thirteen years, my older children helped care for their younger siblings, and now that my oldest has kids, it's the youngest's turn to help out.  I know this model is most likely not feasible for most people, but I wonder if there were some way to perhaps at least give this idea some thought  when it's time to consider spacing.  As I said to my daughter, when she asked me what I thought about when she "should" have a second child, "The older one should be old enough to help."

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Encountering Bear

I got home last night around seven to find a bear... a big black bear.... romping on the patch of grass between the house and the two small out-buildings.  When I pulled up, she scampered off only as far as the art house, then stopped and looked at me.  We sat gazing at each other for what felt like quite a long time - until I got the message She wasn't going anywhere.

According to both Native American and Celtic traditions, Bear brings powerful Medicine.  For me, I associate Bear with, among other things, my great-grandmother for whom I was named.  She gave me the first toy I remember loving... a teddy bear with blue ears and button eyes that was easier for me to handle than the enormous pink bear who was his friend in my crib and on my bed for years.

She died when I was barely 18 months old and I have one worn memory of her that's more emotional than sensory.  We are having a tea party in the middle bedroom of my great-grandfather's house.  I don't even reach the top of the bed, the pattern of the bedspread is enormous beside me.  Both bears are sitting propped up on the floor next to the bed.  My great-grandmother leans down from a chair I still possess, holding out something in her hand.  I remember looking up, into her eyes, into her wise kind face that had seen so much more of life than I could even yet imagine.  Her death had a powerful impact on my life: without her ameliorating presence, the relationship between my mother and my grandmother devolved into what I remember as the Great War.

Today, Jake goes off to spend a day with his Poppy, and all I have to do is tend to Baby Grace, my  namesake, and my great-grandmother's great-great-great-granddaughter.  

Friday, April 13, 2012

Adventures in Nana-land

So far, I've survived eight days of full-time babysitting.  My stamina seems to be improving and my level of anxiety seems to be lessening as I become more accustomed to the children and their schedules.  Life is devolving into a pleasant routine: in my experience, children, like puppies, do best when their days have a flexible predictability based around their general energetic needs.

I have noticed, for example, that Grace needs to sleep every three or four hours.  Given that her favorite activity is walking on her wobbly little legs, I can see how she gets so tired out.  Jake, on the other hand, is a bundle of energy in the morning, with a fairly predictable dip in the mid-afternoon that I can usually coax into coinciding quite nicely with one of Grace's naps.  By four, however, Jake is ready for another burst of play - just when the little girl next door is finished with her homework, leaving me free to fold laundry and Grace to toddle around the family room at will, or climb on my lap for a cuddle.  

Jake and I have butted heads occasionally, but he is such a reasonable little boy, he can be mostly reasoned with.  The second day I was there, for example, he came home from preschool and announced that he wasn't going to eat the hamburgers his mother had told me to make for lunch.  It wasn't what he wanted.

"Oh, Jake," I said, getting down on his level.  "We can have what you want today for lunch tomorrow if you like.  However, Nana is not a restaurant and Nana has already cooked the food your mommy told me to cook.  How old are you, Jake?"

This took him completely aback.  "I'm four," he said with an expression that told me he thought I knew that.

"Then here's the deal," I said, "You eat four bites of everything on your plate and you don't have to eat any more."

"Really?" he said.

"Yes," I said.  "Four bites... I'll help you count.  After that, you can stop eating anything you don't like.  How does that sound?"

"Okay," said Jake.  He ended up eating half his burger and all of his rice and quinoa, and all of his strawberries.  Grace,on the other hand, ate everything on her plate, cramming the food into her mouth with both hands as fast as she could shovel it in.  And all the time she watched Jake with an expression that seemed to me to say, "I don't know why you don't like this stuff."

Friday, April 6, 2012

A year ago this evening 7:20 EST my father breathed his last.

I was blessed to share that last great moment and for that I will be forever grateful.  Rest in peace forever, Daddy... I love and miss you every day.

Michael J. Kelleher.... March 1, 1936 - April 6, 2011
"I have loved the stars too fondly to be fearful of the night."

A discussion of the Passive Voice

And now for a lurch back to the other half of my brain.  I happened to catch a suggestion on a writing group on Facebook for a well-meaning exercise that attempts to make the writer more cognizant of the "passive voice" by eliminating as many variants of the verb "to be" as possible.  In other words, the person who made this suggestion has confused the Voice of the verb with the Tense.

Anyone who has suffered through as much Latin as I have can tell you the difference, but hardly anyone is made to suffer through as much Latin as I was.

The Passive Voice is not a tense.  It has nothing to do with when in time the action occurred, nor does it express a state of being.  The Passive Voice is a statement about ACTION and it tells you that the subject of the sentence was the object acted upon.  The opposite of the Passive Voice is the Active Voice, and the Active Voice tells you that the subject of the sentence is the one doing the action.

For example, these sentences are all ACTIVE voice:

I put the book on the table.
I am driving the car.
Jill followed Jack.

These sentences are all PASSIVE:

The book was put on the table by me.
The car is driven by me.
Jack was followed by Jill.

In each sentence, its not the compound verb structure that tips you off to the fact its passive voice; its the clause "by me" or "by Jill" that tells you who the actor of the sentence is.   All of the above sentences are in the PAST tense.

Here are a few more examples in ACTIVE Voice... but different tense:

The dog bit the cat. (Past tense, Active Voice)
The cat will bite the rat. (Future tense, Active Voice)
The rat has been looking for the cheese.  (Past Perfect Tense, Active Voice)

And again in PASSIVE voice, keeping the same tenses.

The cat was bitten by the dog.  (Past Tense/Passive Voice.)
The rat will be bitten by the cat. (Future Tense/Passive Voice.)
The cheese has been looked for by the rat.  (Past Perfect/Passive Voice.)

Now you try it.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

The things we do for love

It's Day Two of Full-time Grandmothering and I have to say I'm hanging in there.  The children are delightful, of course, as only the children of one's children can be, and the weather has mostly cooperated - except for some morning rain yesterday and a spring chill in the air, it's been sunny enough to spend long amounts of time outside.

But I'm, am I tired.  There are good reasons we are biologically primed to have children in our twenties, and vigor is chief among them.  Are you sure you want to do this, asked my husband, slightly incredulous.  Whatever possessed you, asked the children's other grandmother, last weekend at the birthday party for me and Baby Grace.

Two things, I thought.

For one, when I was first a grandmother, another older, wiser grandmother gave me the best advice any grandmother has ever given me.  "Always say yes," she said.  "Because you won't believe how fast they grow...if you think your children grew fast, wait til you see how fast your grandchildren grow up.  So always say yes, if you possibly can, because even the hours you spend with them will go by all too quickly in retrospect."

The other is that a long time ago I read an article in the New York Times that reported on a study that showed that children born in sub-Saharan Africa who had a maternal grandmother in their lives were more likely to live.  When my daughter became a mother, I understood why that could be true.  I am willing to care for her children because she is my child.  Caring for my grandchildren is as much an act of caring for my daughter as it is an act of caring for them.  No matter how many grandchildren I have, my children are forever my children.  The flesh of my daughter's flesh feels like the bone of my bone.

And everyone knows a mother's work is never done.  :)

Monday, April 2, 2012

April flowers

The crazy weather has magnolias and rhododendrons blooming long before their time, and me making offers to take care of my grandchildren for the next five weeks.  Yes, you read that right.... in the middle of March madness, I heard myself say the fateful words:  "Darling, why not let me watch the babies for you?"

I don't consider myself a remarkable grandmother.  I like babies.  I like to cuddle them and hug them and take care of them but once they turn into children, my interest tends to wane.  I don't like to play games, I'm bored by most children's book and TV shows.  Jake, in fact, once admonished me, "Nana, you're not reading the book right," as I was dutifully reciting the short text at the bottom of each page.

"How am I supposed to read it?" I asked, more curious than anything else.

"Talk about the pictures," said Jake.

"Oh," I replied, feeling as if a Truth that had eluded me all my life had somehow finally been revealed in the words of the two year old on my lap.

But I love my daughter and my concern for her is boundless and when I heard the stress in her voice, I knew I had to step in.  "Are you sure, Mom?" she asked.

"It's not forever and it's not for always," I said.  "But for five weeks, I can do anything."

So this month, I'm putting aside writing as my main preoccupation, along with just about everything else, and diving head first into Grandmotherdom.  

Wednesday, March 28, 2012