Friday, June 29, 2012

Nate Rocks on Overnight Camp

Since we seem to have a camp theme going here on the blog - I thought I'd let you know how Nate feels about it:


When my mom first told me I was going away to overnight camp for six weeks, let’s just say I was not happy. I’d been going to the same day camp with my two good friends, Tommy and Sam, for as long as I could remember. I liked it there. I knew most of the kids and the counselors, and now that I was going to be in one of the older groups, I could pretty much do what I wanted with my friends all day.

I know what you’re thinking: Are you nuts? Overnight camp is a blast! I’d love to get away from my family for the summer. I guess at first I wasn’t quite looking at it that way. But don’t worry, I eventually came around – especially when it hit me: I wouldn’t have to eat Mom’s awful cooking for six whole weeks!

As is usually the case, there was good news and bad news. The bad news was that my annoying sister, Abby, was apparently going with me to camp. Yeah that’s right, Mom was sending both of us. Together. The good news: Tommy was going also. Lucky for me, Abby stayed mostly out of my hair.

Well as it turned out I made some cool new friends. My counselor, Matt, was a bit of a flake, but I guess that’s what happens to you when you spend your summer cooped up with a bunch of ten year olds in a hot cabin.

So was overnight camp all it was cut out to be? Well now, you don’t expect me to give away all of my adventures do you? You’ll just have to read my book, Nate Rocks the Boat, to find out. I will tell you this... you are guaranteed to laugh and have a good time as you read all of my adventures.



TO LEARN MORE ABOUT THE NATE ROCKS SERIES:


Website: www.karentoz.com
Facebook: www.facebook.com/karenptoz
Twitter: www.twitter.com/karentoz




*****


http://bit.ly/KPTbooks

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Camp - Part Two - The Drop Off


The following blog post is Part Two in my overnight camp series. For those following along - I am re-posting my camp series from last summer - figuring nothing really has changed... or has it?  ... Anyway - in case you missed Part One - click here. You may remember from last week's post, I started packing a little later than I should have. Well I finally finished - last night. My husband worked his magic and managed to get it all in the car:








Before I tell you how drop off went, let's recap what happened last year:




Camp – Part Two – The Drop Off

So I managed by some miracle to get everything purchased, organized, labeled, and packed for my two oldest kids, in preparation for their month away at summer camp.

Today was the day we they had been anxiously awaiting – drop off.

The plan was to drive there (hour and a half) unload two kids (fifteen - twenty minutes each) and drive home (hour and a half). I know what you are thinking – you are driving all that way to drop your kids off – kids you won’t see for a whole month – and you are only staying for fifteen/twenty minutes per kid???

Let me explain.

This is the fifth summer we have done this. Not only do I have unpacking down to a precise science, but before we have even fully stopped the car, the kids are off and running, trying to find their friends. Parents who? In their opinion staying twenty minutes is staying about fifteen minutes too long. (Plus, my husband has Phillies tickets you know!)

But let me back up so you too can experience the madness of drop off day:

1. Packing the car (night before) & leaving at 7:30am.
2. Sitting in rush hour traffic - because for some reason, drop off is on a Wednesday.
3. Sitting in a line of cars at the gate of the camp waiting to get checked in.
4. Trying to find a parking spot close to your child’s bunk while trying not to hit children running in every direction.
5. Bed selection...

Ah the bed selection... now pay attention because this is important. The camp has a strict lottery policy so as not to penalize latecomers. The policy is that upon arrival to your respective bunk, each camper picks a number out of an envelope. Each number corresponds with a bed. Done. Sort of...

In my son’s bunk, they do pick numbers, but then... . Last year, I spent a decent amount of time unpacking and placing neatly folded towels and clothing on the shelf next to the bed my son picked. Within ten minutes, everything was balled up & thrown across the room to a different bed. This year, I left all the clothes still packed in the plastic bins by his assigned bunk. He is 13 – he can figure out where his underwear is (maybe) when he gets to his final destination. I did however, make certain he knew exactly where the already addressed and stamped blank postcards were, that he needed to write and send home.

The girl’s bunk works a little differently. My daughter wanted a top bunk. In fact, she all but declared that her entire summer would be ruined if she did not receive a top bunk. She also insisted that I pick the lottery number, because I successfully picked her a top bunk the last two summers. Oy the pressure! So I picked... a bottom bunk. The counselor took pity on me, told me the top bunks were odd numbers and then opened the envelope wide enough so I could see all the numbers and told me to pick again. I picked number 11 – shocking I know!

I successfully unpacked and organized everything for her in record time. We said our goodbyes.

On our way out, we had to stop to drop off my daughter’s allergy medicine with the nurse. The line was out the building – and so we waited in another line.

We finally made it back to our cars – almost two hours later than our projected time. It happens almost every year – but looking back at all the kids playing and laughing and hugging makes all the lines and craziness so worth it!

*****

So what happened this year??  Well, much of it was the same, with one minor adjustment. We decided that we actually didn't have the be the first ones there this year, and decided to leave thirty minutes later. We still hit the same rush hour traffic, but there was no line to get into camp. 


Yes - that's right - NO LINE. 


I'd be lying if I said I didn't have a moment of panic that we were there the wrong day, but all was good. We got parking spots right in front of the bunks, and both kids picked end bunks, so there was plenty of room to unpack.  


Also - my daughter's allergies seemed to have calmed down this year, and we opted not to bring her meds, so we were able to skip that line as well.  


For the first time in six years - we actually did only stay about fifteen minutes in each bunk before leaving and we were back home by noon. 


C-R-A-Z-Y! 


I don't want to jinx anything, but that was the easiest camp drop off ever!


Next Installment: Part 3: Letters From Camp.  Last year, the final tally on letter writing was daughter - 4, son - 1 ... I'm expecting something similar this year, but you just never know... stay tuned!




If you have campers of your own, Baskets-n-Beyond now carries camp care packages!

For more information visit: www.baskets-n-beyond.com



Friday, June 22, 2012

The Friday Five 6-22-12

Hey all! So I have some news - The Friday Five will be going on a little hiatus..I've enjoyed sharing my weeks with you all for over a year now, but I'm ready for a change. Don't worry, I'll still be here blogging. I've got a lot to say you know! I also have some very cool guest posts coming up in the month of July and a few book reviews of my own. Plus book news, camp news, kids news ... you know the drill - just not necessarily on Fridays.

For those who have been on my blog this week, you know what's would have been on my Friday Five:
photo credit: Penumbra via photo pin cc
1. Packing
2. Packing
3. Packing
4. Packing
5. Packing

Get the picture? The two older kids leave for camp next Wednesday.


Oh - I almost forgot! I did have something else happen this week. My youngest and my daughter were in a dance recital on Saturday! They were both awesome - I'm a proud mama.

So usually I close by saying see you next Friday and hopefully sooner... but instead I'll wish you all a great weekend!

xo
Karen

PS - be sure to stop by my blog next week as I continue my Camp Series with a re-posting of last year's Camp Part 2: The Drop Off... In case you missed it, here's Part 1 & what I've been up to all week!

Also if you have campers of your own, Baskets-n-Beyond now carries camp care packages!

For more information visit: www.baskets-n-beyond.com


Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Camp - Part 1: Let the Packing Begin!

Last year, I wrote a series of blogposts about the exhilarating exhausting experience of sending my two oldest children to overnight camp. I thought it might be fun to dip into the archives to re-publish the posts, because lets face it - nothing has really changed.  Well a couple of things have changed. For example. You'll notice in this post I started packing Memorial Day weekend (I did really??)  Here we are now on June 20th and I am guess what? I am just starting today. The kids leave in exactly 7 days. No worries - I've got this!

Also new this year - I handed my 14 and 11 year old the packing lists that the camp provides and told them to bring me their stuff instead of me trying to figure out what they want to bring. They're also going to help with the labeling... Yes - I'm a little slow - it only took me 5 years to figure out that little trick.

So while I try to fit all this stuff into two plastic bins and two duffel bags, have fun reading last year's blog post... ahh the memories:


Camp - Part 1: Let the Packing Begin!



For many, Memorial Day means the unofficial start of summer – going to the beach, pool openings, cleaning the grill and bringing out the white pants. For me, it means all those things, but it also means something else: time to start packing the kids up for camp.

For the past few summers, my two older kids have looked forward to the four weeks in June & July when they get to go off with their friends, away from all parental control, to overnight camp. I would be lying if I said I didn’t look forward to it as well. Four weeks without laundry, preparing meals, and attitude. But most importantly, it is four weeks where I know my kids are having the most amazing time of their lives.

What I don’t look forward to, however, is the pre-camp packing. In fact, there is only one thing worse than pre-camp packing and that would be post-camp unpacking; when everything (and I mean EVERYTHING) returns with a damp camp stank. However, before I can complain about that (and trust me, I will), I first have to get the kids packed to go.



First step - plastic three drawer dressers, under bed bins, sleeping bags and duffle bags all have to be retrieved from the attic. Last year I got smart and put everything together right by the doorway. Once that is done, it is time to start attacking the list that the camp provides, shorts, shirts, bathing suits, underwear, bedding, towels, toiletries, shoes, sandals, raingear, sleepwear, etc, etc, etc.

Then there is the process of going through everything to figure out what I have and what I need. Some items on the list I might not truly need (Do I really need to send twenty pairs of underwear for my 13 year old when they do laundry every week?) And some things I may have, but need replacing (Is it fair to make my almost 11 year old sleep on the Hannah Montana sheets she had to have three summers ago?)

Once that gets figured out, it’s time to prepare the lists, hit the stores, do the laundry and get labeling. Since I don’t sew or iron, I prefer the black sharpie method – others will disagree, but for me it works. The process is tedious, but necessary if I want most of the items to return home. Then I neatly organize everything into their drawers, bins and bags - yes I am aware that once they get to camp, everything just gets tossed around & shoved wherever – but that’s okay – it’s just part of what Mom’s do for their kids.

Stay tuned for "Camp - Part 2: The Drop Off"

*******************

For More Details, visit www.baskets-n-beyond.com

Monday, June 18, 2012

Argggh-Some Launch: A World Apart By David Brown

Are you ready for some pirate fun? This week we are celebrating the release of David M. Brown's newest book A World Apart, a fantasy story set in the world of Elenchera,   a place where pirates roam. And while the pirates in this tale have a dark side to them,  pirates can be fun... at least in my fictional head. In real life, I'm sure I never want to run into a real pirate. But fun pirates are okay. You know the type I'm talking about - the kind of pirate you see in kid's books, on halloween, and even on (dare I say it?) the Wiggles  - they're not so bad. Now don't worry, I won't be posting any Wiggles videos... I love you all too much for that!! But, I do want to share with you my top five reasons why (some) pirates rock:

1.  They make great pumpkins - - this one was my then 4 year old's idea. Not only does he look good, but it saved us from having to fight with the pitiful knife to cut out the second eye! Arrrgh.




2. They have the best accessories - hats, beads, earrings, jewels, scarves, boots, and of course the eye patch. What more could a girl ask for?

3. When a pirate speaks, people listen. Perhaps that's the trick to getting my three kids to listen to me - I need an eye patch, and perhaps a sword - and a parrot so it can follow them around and repeat everything I've said over and over (oh wait - that's what I do already - it doesn't work...) Maybe I should invest in a plank.

4. Do I even need to explain this one? Swoon....

(note: Photo was removed for possible copyright infringement - but let's just say it was a little Johnny Depp mixed with a little Pirates of the Caribbean... yup - you know what photo I'm talking about!!)


5. You get to talk in Pirate speak... In the words of Nate Rocks' Dad: "Shiver me timbers! Avast ye –– make way for the Hornswaggler! Gangway and hand o'er yer loot, or prepare to walk the plank!" 


That's pirate talk for:  It's time to celebrate the release of David M. Brown's argggh-some new book: A World Apart. So enough about me... let's get right to it!



Demetrius makes his first mistake when he lets his best friend Halcyon marry Eleyna, the love of his life, without saying a word. On the day of the wedding, he walks away from the Elencheran town of Dove's Meadow and joins the army. He makes his second mistake when the pirate Black Iris tricks him into letting dozens of men, women and children die in a fire. Demetrius is imprisoned in grief and disgrace. But he can atone. The Black Iris is dead. The Ivory Rose has risen to the top of the pirates and is leading brutal raids on the coast. If Demetrius can capture and kill her, he'll win his pardon. And then Demetrius discovers the Ivory Rose is Eleyna. He must decide which will be his third mistake: losing his last chance at a pardon, or destroying the one woman he's ever loved.


 




Here's where you can pick it up:

Amazon UK: http://www.amazon.co.uk/World-Apart-Elencheran-Chronicles-ebook/dp/B008BGT6XC 
Amazon US: http://www.amazon.com/World-Apart-Elencheran-Chronicles-ebook/dp/B008BGT6XC
Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/170922 

You can also win a prize just by helping to spread the word!


a Rafflecopter giveaway


Friday, June 15, 2012

The Friday Five 6-15-12

Hi all - I hope you had a great week! For me, this week was/is kind of a big deal... here we go:

 1. Graduation. All the kids had some major milestones this week. My youngest finished up kindergarten (with a very cute show, I might add), my daughter finished 6th grade and while they don’t do a formal graduation, it’s very exciting because it means she’ll be starting middle school next year, and... my oldest graduated from 8th grade. He will be going to high school in fall. High School ... my baby (my 6’4” baby – but still.) Congrats to all the graduates!!



photo credit: clevercupcakes via photo pin cc


2. Book Award. So a while back I entered this book contest for children’s books called the Purple Dragonfly Book Awards. It was one of those things I kind of forgot about because at the time the June decision date seemed so far away. Well guess what? I received an email from them this week. Not only did Nate Rocks the World win FIRST place in the children’s chapter book category, it also won the GRAND PRIZE for all categories. Can you see me doing the happy dance? I am mighty excited.





 3. Dance. Speaking of dance - tomorrow is my daughter and youngest son’s dance recital. My daughter is in seven dances (yes, that means seven hair changes that guess who has to do... with only 2 or 3 dances in between + seven costume changes ... sigh.) This year for the first time, my 5 year old is in the recital too – he’ll be doing hip-hop. His group is too stinking cute. I can’t wait – I love it all!

4. Camp. Now that school is over, it’s time to get the kids ready for camp. My two oldest go to overnight camp, and you may remember from my posts last year that I looooove to pack. I’ll officially start next week, but I have made a little progress, my daughter’s sleeping bag is out of the attic and has been cleaned, rolled, and is ready to go. Baby steps...

5. Book News. First – Congratulations to the winners of paperback and ebook copies of Nate Rocks the World and thank you to all who entered the contests hosted by the Book Bloggers’ Collaborative and Girl Who Reads for ArmchairBEA. For those who like to beach at the Jersey Shore... I will be signing books on Saturday July 14th at the Paper Peddler in Avalon. I also have two book tours coming up and will be posting all of the stops on my website. I am also excited to tell you that my next book, Millicent Marie is Not My Name is coming along nicely and is slated for a fall release. My awesome cover designer – Deana Riddle at Bookstarter is busy working on ideas for the book cover. I can’t wait to see what she comes up with.

 One more thing – I hope all the Dads out there have a wonderful Father’s Day!!! See you next Friday and hopefully sooner!

 xo
Karen

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Nate Rocks the World Give Away!

A huge thank you to my awesome friends at the Book Bloggers' Collaborative for hosting this giveaway!! Here's the scoop... you can win one of 5 copies of Nate Rocks the World (paperback open to US/Canada, international winners will receive ebook)- a perfect book to add to your child's summer reading list. You can enter by going to the BBColl or you can enter right here! Good luck! Just follow the easy steps below & you can have up to 25 entries... good luck!! a Rafflecopter giveaway
Book Bloggers Collaborative

Friday, June 8, 2012

The Friday Five 6-8-12

1. Book Signing - Part 2. Last weekend the lovely people at the Barnes & Noble in Oxford Valley, PA invited me in for a book signing. Thank you once again to all who stopped by! I really enjoyed meeting and talking to all the people who stopped over at my table. Next stop ... the Jersey Shore - details tba.




2. Finals. Not for me, but for my 8th grader. It can only mean two things: 1- the end of the year is near and 2 - I'm getting old if I have a child old enough to take final exams. Their last exam was yesterday and now they have three full days of school for .. well, I'm not quite sure why ... and then his graduation!! Speaking of graduation...

3. Kindergarten. Yes - my kindergartener is nearing the end of his school year as well. While, they're not doing a formal graduation ceremony,  they are having an end of year concert and picnic ... today. They are all dressing up as butterflies, bees, and ladybugs and have prepared songs for the parents. Note to self - bring lots of tissues. 


photo credit: Robert S. Donovan via photo pin cc


4. End of Year Round Up.  Speaking of the end of the school year - this time of year is always very hectic. So hectic, I almost forgot to write this friday five (again)! So many things are happening, ending, starting. Not only do we have graduation, move up day, school parties, field days, color wars, battle of the bands, and picnics. But we are winding down t-ball and getting ready for the big annual dance recital. This year I have two dancers in it! Plus, I have to start packing for camp (ugh!) for my two oldest, which always involves fun (not) shopping trips to the mall with them to get their clothes and other necessities. For me, June is definitely one of the busiest months of the year!

5. Book News. Busy week on the book front too! First, a big thank you to fellow author Kathy Reinhart for allowing me back on her blog for a second interview. She interviewed me last year when Nate Rocks the World first came out and invited me back for a second time. Stop by and read about what I have to say about the f-word (the 10 yr old version at least...)  Also - visit the Book Bloggers Collaborative (starting the 9th) and Girl Who Reads (going on now through the 10th) for your chance to win a signed copy of Nate Rocks the World.

 I hope everyone has a great week! I'll see you next Friday and hopefully sooner.

xo
Karen

Monday, June 4, 2012

The Tooth Fairy and the Solar System

The following is a conversation I had with my five-year-old last night when discussing his loose tooth:


photo credit: Cayusa via photo pin cc

C:  I feel bad for the Tooth Fairy.

Me: Why?

C: She doesn't have any helpers like Santa does.

Me: You mean the elves?

C: Yes, but I heard Santa might lend her one.

Me: Oh, that would be so nice.

C: Yes, because she has a lot of toys to give out also - but she really needs one of those machines.

Me: What machines?

C: The toy making machine.

Me: I thought the elves made all the toys.

C: No, it's not true. The elves live on a different planet.

Me: Which one?

C: Versery.

Me: Versery?

C: Yes.

Me: Well, where does the Tooth Fairy live?

C: Venus



photo credit: mugley via photo pin cc

There you have it - the truth about the Tooth Fairy, the elves, Santa's toy making machine, and the unknown planet of Versery.


*****


http://bit.ly/KPTbooks

Sunday, June 3, 2012

#SampleSunday: Nate Rocks the Boat

It's been a while since I've done a Sample Sunday and I've had people asking me lately to post excerpts of the new book, so here I am! A Sample Sunday of Nate Rocks the Boat.  In this scene - Nathan is getting dropped off for his very first stay at overnight camp...

*******

Dad drives down the bumpy dirt road toward a group of wooden cabins. We look for the one with the “Welcome Hawks” banner, park, and start to unload the car.

A tall lanky kid comes out of the cabin and takes one of the duffle bags from Dad.

“Hi, I’m Matt. I’m the counselor for the Hawks.”

Dad picks up a second duffle bag and motions towards Tommy and me as we stand beside him, “Hi Matt. This here is Nathan and Tommy.”

“Hey guys,” Matt says. “Welcome to the Hawks.”

 Off to the side, a group of maybe ten other boys are all hanging out, laughing, and goofing around. I wonder if they are also Hawks.

Mom walks over to me and throws her arms around my body, in front of everyone... EVERYONE. 

“Oh, Nathan!” she wails, “I’ve never been away from you this long! I’m going to miss you so much!”

I try to break free, but her clutch is too strong. The other kids have stopped what they are doing and are now all watching us.

“Don’t forget,” she continues, still using her my voice gets louder and higher pitched whenever I get upset voice, “make sure you write home and don’t drink too much water before you go to sleep.”

“Yeah, Nathan,” Abby blurts just as loudly, “you know what happens when you drink too much water before bedtime. I just hope for the sake of the other Hawks that you don’t get a top bunk!”

“That’s not funny, Abby!” I break away and try to take a swing at her, but she jumps into the van too fast for me to get her and slides the door shut.

I look over at the other boys, who are now staring at me. Even Tommy has taken a few steps back, seemingly trying to disassociate himself from me.

“Now, Nathan,” Mom continues, only this time in a low voice so no one else can hear. “You know that’s not what I meant. I just know how sometimes you get the hiccups and can’t fall asleep.” Mom kisses the top of my head one more time and gives Tommy a normal hug. “You boys have a great time.”

“Thanks, Mrs. Rockledge,” Tommy replies.

********

Hehehe - parents can be so embarrassing when they drop their kids off at overnight came - er - I mean, I wouldn't know.

To learn more about the Nate Rocks Series and Nate Rocks the Boat



Website: www.karentoz.com

Amazon: 
http://amzn.to/NateRockstheBoat
http://amzn.to/NateRockstheWorld

Barnes & Noble:
http://bit.ly/NateRockstheBoat-BN
http://bit.ly/NateRockstheWorld-BN

Goodreads:
http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5009570.Karen_Pokras_Toz


Friday, June 1, 2012

The Friday Five 6-1-12

Rabbit Rabbit! Happy June! I hope everyone had a great week and is looking forward to the weekend – as you can see – I have lots of “Thank You’s” to give out this week:

 1. Book signing. So I know this belongs in book news, but I just wanted to thank everyone who came out on a beautiful sunny Saturday to my book signing. Plus a big thank you to the Barnes & Noble in Jenkintown, PA for having me. I’m still kind of shock that my books are now on their shelves. This Saturday, I’ll be at the Barnes & Noble in Oxford Valley, PA from noon-3pm. Stop by and bring the kids!




 2. Milestone! In case you didn’t read my post earlier in the week, my little blog reached a big milestone this past week. It passed the 60,000 view mark. That’s just so crazy unbelievable to me. So if you’re one of the people who has visited my blog (duh – you’re here aren’t you?) Thank you. Thank you. Thank you!

3. Memorial Day. I hope everyone who celebrates had a very nice holiday weekend. I’ve said this before, but it’s worth repeating. Thank you to the men and women who have sacrificed their lives to keep our country safe. There are not enough words to show my appreciation.



photo credit: Peculiar View via photo pin cc




 4. Student of the Month. My little guy was named Student of the Month! Today we get to go to his school with him and have breakfast with his principal. He is so excited (as are we.) Way to end out the school year – we’re very proud!

 5. Book News. Yesterday I was a guest on Edin Road Radio with Jesse Coffey. I had a great time – I read the first chapter of Nate Rocks the Boat and had a chance to talk about my newest character Millicent Marie! In case you missed it and want to give a listen, here’s the link. Coming up this week on Wednesday, I’m being interviewed by the talented Kathy Reinhart, author of Lily White Lies, on her blog Ink Drop Interviews Presents. Other than that, I’m writing, writing, writing!


 That’s it on my end – what’s in your Friday Five? Leave me a comment and let me know. I’ll see you next Friday and hopefully sooner. Xo Karen

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