Saturday, April 30, 2011

Do You Speak Four-Year-Old?

Last week, I posted on Facebook something that my 4 year old said - He said: “Sarah doesn't want to play with me & she said tomorrow & today is today yesterday....” I thought it was funny. My son was dead serious. Not only that, but also he believed that what he was saying made perfect sense. I suppose it did to other four-year-olds. If I learned anything as a parent, it is that little kids definitely have a language all their own. They take everything literally and they say it like it is.

When my oldest son was four (forgive me as many of you already know this story), he went to preschool at a synagogue. The class learned a prayer called “The Sh’ma.” The first line of the Hebrew prayer translates to: “Hear, O Israel: the Lord is our G-d, the Lord is one.” My son politely raised his hand and asked, “Well when will he be two?”

As long as we are on the subject of my oldest son, my favorite question that he asked when he was four was if I would marry him. I explained that parents cannot marry their children, then promised him I would love him forever. His response: “Ok, but when you die, will I still get all your stuff?”

My daughter, a natural performer, spent most of her toddler years singing. In particular she would sing “the potty song” to everyone and anyone who would listen. You know – the one that goes to the tune of “Row, Row, Row Your Boat” except the words are “Wipe, wipe, wipe yourself, always front to back, carefully, carefully, now you’ve got the knack.” Definitely one of the many things that a cute little girl with blond curls can get away with… not so much when you are an adult.

Now for my youngest – he has definitely mastered four-year old speak. The other day he stated “I’m hungry. That’s why my foot hurts.” My reply: “That really doesn’t make any sense.” His response: “Well it makes sense to me.” Of course it did – he wouldn’t have said it otherwise.

His four-year-old friends speak this language as well. The other day, one of his friends at preschool learned my son possessed the Lego Batcave, apparently a hot commodity among four-year-olds. This friend came up to me and asked, “Can I come over to your house to play? But not today – I’m good.”

The problem with four-year-old talk is that it progresses each year and gets harder to understand. I’m much better at deciphering four-year-old talk than I am at figuring out teen talk (a discussion for another day).

I suppose my children think the same about “parent talk.”

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Calling All Techno-Challenged Friends

Last year, I decided to venture out of my comfort zone (otherwise known as Facebook) and venture into Twitter. It was strange and fast-paced and I didn’t understand why I was only limited to 140 characters when Facebook just let me ramble on. I also didn’t understand why people were putting in seemingly random words with a # sign. The strangest thing, however was that unlike Facebook, where I could invite people to friend me, I had no control of who entered my Twitterverse. Sure, I could delete people, but I found it odd that I couldn’t invite people. I quickly gave up on Twitter. Every now and again, I would return, determined to figure it out and every time I would feel defeated.

After doing much research on self-publishing, marketing and social networking, I decided that I had no choice but to figure this Twitter thing out once and for all. I also had to venture into LinkedIn, another site I had been avoiding like the plague.

Well guess what? It turns out these sites are not so scary after all! I’m still learning, but there are so many resources on-line to walk you through, including a great blog by fellow writer and tech-training guru, Jenny Hansen. The how-to Twitter posts on her blog helped answer so many of my questions - thank you Jenny!

Jenny is currently running a great contest on her blog. The rules are easy – post a comment between now and May 17 telling her what areas you would like to learn more about and she will randomly pick winners to attend one of three free one hour webinars addressing several of the requested issues over the next few months.

You can check out all the details here

Spread the word!

Oh and by the way – you can now find me on twitter (@karentoz) AND LinedIn (Karen Pokras Toz). How’s that for progress? You can also follow Jenny (@Jhansenwrites) Thanks!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Scenes from My Shower

Get your mind out of the gutter… this is not that kind of blog!

It occurred to me (while in the shower) today, that I actually get more accomplished in my fifteen minute shower than I do at any other time. I’m not referring to my hygiene (although you can be assured that hygiene practices certainly do take place).

I am talking about ideas, plans, lists and tasks. All of these seem to rush at me the moment I step into the water. I suppose it has something to do with the fact that no one is talking, crying, whining or yelling. (And by no one, I mean my children. On second thought, they may be doing all of the above, but since I can’t here them, it doesn’t matter.) I also appreciate the fact that nothing is ringing, beeping, or buzzing. What ever the reason, my time in the shower is most productive.

The shower is where I came up with the story lines for both of my books. It is where I come up with most of my ideas for my blog posts (including this one). It is even where I wrote most of my speech for my son’s Bar Mitzvah. It is where I think of the best retorts to conversations long past (so frustrating!). I also think of items to add to my calendar and grocery lists. I come up with recipes, gift ideas and various other tasks I need to remember to do during the day. Which leads me to my dilemma – how to remember my ideas once I turn the shower off?

I do keep a pad and pen close by, but unless I want a runny mess that I cannot decipher later, I need to dry off first. Unfortunately, those few seconds usually result in me forgetting the perfect wording that had been in my head just moments earlier. That is, assuming I make it from the bathroom to the pad of paper without being accosted by one of the above-mentioned children. Should that happen, then both the wording and the idea are gone indefinitely.

Also while in the shower, I have thought up solutions to help retain these shower-induced thoughts. They include a waterproof hand held voice-recorder and a waterproof whiteboard with waterproof pen/ink that could hang on the shower wall. Should anyone like to develop such products, feel free.

The idea for the end of this post did not make it to the paper on time… but there is always hope it will come back to me during tomorrow’s shower.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Help Me Choose A Book Cover!

Hey everyone! I have some exciting news! Last fall I spent some time writing again, only this time I wrote a children's novel, geared toward third through sixth grade readers. I've decided to try my hand at publishing and hopefully soon, Nate Rocks the World will be available in print on & B& both in hard copy & electronic copy!  I'm very excited and I hope your child will be as well.

But - I need your help! Below are several cover options that I created using a fun (sort of) graphics design program (Serif DrawPlus). Let me tell you - designing a cover is not easy! I am far from an artist, but I actually did the entire thing freehand (with the exception of my perfectly round circle that I used for the globe & the guitar which was a stock photo). If anyone is looking for a great FREE easy to use graphics program I highly recommend this one.

In Nate Rocks the World, the main character of the book is a boy who draws cartoons of himself doing all sorts of heroic feats. These cartoons of course come to life, transforming ordinary fourth grader, Nathan Rockledge into the fabulous and fearless Nate Rocks. For this cover, I was trying to depict how Nathan would draw Nate, and so I want it to look like a cartoon that a ten year old might draw. Not entirely off base, since that is pretty much my skill level when it comes to drawing.

There are two basic designs (the difference is in his right arm/hand placement) as well as several background color options. Please comment on your choice of design and color. Any and all feedback or ideas are welcome either in the comments here or on my facebook page.

Option 1 - Yellow background/ hand not touching world


Option 2 - Purple background/ hand holding up world


Option 3 - Yellow background/ hand holding up world


Option 4 - Green background/ hand not touching world


Option 5 - White background/ hand not touching world


Thank you so much and pass along the word to any young readers you know!

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Multitasking – One Task at a Time

The other day, a friend told me: “Women are just wired to multi-task.” If this is a true statement then I definitely missed out on that gene pool. I have tried many times to multi-task, but usually when I do, I find the milk in the washing machine or I wind up with two different socks on.

Take the blog posts I have written in February, March & these first two weeks of April – they are a perfect example of my multi-tasking ability. (How long did you just spend searching for them? Hehehe)No – there is nothing wrong with your computer – there are NO blog posts in all of February, March and half of April. Why is this you may wonder?

Simple – because it was tax season.

“So what”, you ask? So, even though I work only part-time preparing taxes, I am in tax-season mode. I work on taxes seven days a week, even if just for a few hours a day and because of that, I am unable to switch gears from my number side to my creative side, all thanks to my missing multi-tasking gene.

My Mom always says she cannot walk and chew gum at the same time, so I guess I’ll blame my missing gene on her (Hi Mom!)

My husband (not a woman), always amazes me with his multi-tasking ability. He can talk on the phone, type an email, carry on multiple IM chats (a disaster waiting to happen for me) and watch a baseball game all at the same time. I can’t even finish this blog post because my four year old is telling me a story…

Okay, I’m back…

The good news for me is that tax season is now over (well technically there is still one day, but who’s counting?). I can finally spend some time with everything I have woefully neglected over the past months.

One thing at a time, of course.

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