Fan Art and Fungus Story (66/365)

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We got home late last night, so I had to punt for Friday’s journal.  I shared an old story time video I had instead of posting Fan Art like I normally do on Friday.

No worries.  Here’s my kids most recent works.  First up is Bob the Builder.  I absolutely love this watercolor picture.

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He called this work, “Three Scary Pumpkins“.  Doesn’t that one look amazing!

Next up is a picture and a story from The Flower Child.

Fungus

The characters are Ellen who has black hair, Alex who has a mohawk, and his big brother who has orange hair.  The setting is in their school.  The problem is the fungus got out of a jar.  The solution is how they solve the problem.  The called Mrs. Macadamia and her friends put the fungus back in jars.

I hope you liked the pictures and story!

Star Wars Lunch Box – Story Time (65/365)

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A while ago, I told some of my stories on YouTube.  Here’s the first one I did.

This story is also the inspiration behind a book I hope to release soon.

Hope you liked it!

Starting at Zero (64/365)

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I’m in awful shape.  I think it is safe to say that I am in the worst physical condition I’ve ever been in my entire life.  Every time I see our scale in the bathroom, I slowly back away.  I don’t even want to know what my official weight is right now.  I’m sure it’s a personal record.

Now, I don’t mean like I’m in terrible shape as in I’m physically ill.  The worst off I’ve ever been as far as that is concerned is when I had to get my appendix removed.  That’s another story in itself, and it’s a classic.  I’ll have to go into detail about that later.  I mean, I have zero endurance, and no strength.  This is coming from a guy that ran college track and cross country.  Back then, I was in ridiculously good shape.  We would go for eight mile easy runs.  Yes, I said that right.  In my current state, everything is difficult after eight steps.

I’ve been waiting to get back at it because my knee is not quite right.  I hurt it playing too much basketball and soccer in the fall.  I stopped the soccer because I was just helping out at my son’s soccer practices, and the season ended.  I stopped playing basketball in January because my knee doesn’t agree with lateral movements.  I’ve also been waiting on working otu because I like running outside, and Wisconsin in the winter is harsh.  As I type right now, on March 5th, it is 12 degrees Fahrenheit.  If you convert that to Celcius, it’s like negative 42.  I might be wrong with that conversion.  Point is, it’s well below freezing, and it’s MARCH!  When will it get warm?

No more waiting.  I’m soft because I’m soft.  I should make a meme out of that quote.  My body soft.  It’s nice and squishy like a marshmallow.   My willpower is soft like a freshly baked donut.  Apparently, eating stacks of pancakes doesn’t give you muscles like a burly lumberjack.  You have to do hard work too.

Do you really need an excuse to eat blueberry pancakes?

Do you really need an excuse to eat blueberry pancakes?

No more.  I must step away from the blueberry pancakes.  I have to work out!  It’s time to HTFU.  Look that up if you don’t know what that acronym means.  It’s NSFW.

I battled with the brutal weather yesterday and squeaked out a half mile run.  Then I came inside and played Just Dance for 20 minutes with my kids.  Today will be no different.  I need to build up my beach body.  Muscle up, butter cup!  Wish me luck.

Hooray for Teachers! (63/365)

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I’m extremely lucky to work with such a nice staff, and I was reminded of this today.  Because I’m getting ready to launch my book sometime in May, I’m trying to establish some contacts to help me for the big release.  I was hoping the teachers at my school could help me out a bit, so I contacted my administrators.  I asked them if I could send out an email to see if other teachers would be interested in helping me out with the book.  This is the email that I sent out to them.

Hello Fellow Teachers,

I’m going to publish my first book later this spring (probably in May).  It’s an illustrated novel.  The target reading audience is EVERYONE!  Actually, it would be best for age 10 and up. 

I’d like to get some feedback on the book before it goes to print. If you’d be willing to help me with this, email me and I’ll contact you with more information.

I was super worried I’d get no responses, and blank stares from my coworkers at our next meeting.

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We have to do so many things, that giving up any time at all is a major request.  However, the response was overwhelming.  I think the list of teachers who responded was around 20.  I have to get back to them with what I had in mind, but if you didn’t know already, teachers are extremely busy people.  What I am hoping they can do is be a part of the O.K. Crew.  It’s kind of like J. Crew, but it doesn’t have to do with clothing.  Nevermind.  It’s nothing like J. Crew.

I want to put together a list of 100 people.  I’m going to give these 100 people an advanced copy of the book.  In exchange, they will help promote the book.  That’s about it.  They say the best way to promote a book is word of mouth.  Well, teachers are social creatures.  They like to talk.  I should know.  I’m the founding member of teachers.  Wait.  No.  I’m just a bald guy.

Anywho, I am much more confident about getting the book out there now.  To quote The Beatles, “I get by with a little help from my friends as my guitar gently weeps.”  I think I mixed that one up too.  I’m a little off my game today.

How Do You Self-Publish a Book? (62/365)

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I’m serious.  How do you do it?  I’m looking into this option right now for my first effort, and my head’s about to explode.

Does it need to be edited by a professional?  What about proofreading?  What does a copy editor do compared to a proofreader or an editor?  How much money should I spend on this option?

Should you get a professional cover?  What size will your cover be?  Who designs high quality covers?  How much should you pay?  What cover looks the best?  What looks the worst?

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Here’s my three efforts, and I’m not sure I like any of them.  I think I need someone to combine covers one and two together because I want the reader to see the illustrations, but I also want the reader to know his name is O.K.

How do you format it?  Should I release it just as an electronic book?  Should I print several copies and sell it myself?  What are the advantages of printing it on demand?  How many can I expect to sell?  What programs are the best for formatting the book?  How do you format the interior of the book?  Should I make an audio version?

What will the target audience like?  The book is for middle grade students, but I think it has universal appeal, so how can I market it as a Middle Grade/YA/Illustrated/Realistic Fiction/Comedy.

Speaking of marketing, what strategies work?  Should I target librarians?  Should I contact book bloggers?  How can I sell to the YA audience?  What should I do on social media?  Will other people help me market it?  How can I help facilitate spreading the message?  Word of mouth works best, so I’ve heard, but how can I get that ball rolling?

Social media is a large component of letting people know the book exists, but what site should I focus on?  Is Goodreads the perfect group to target?  Should I focus on social media that a younger demographic uses?  Do people take selfies as they are reading a book on Instagram?  Should I Tweet about it?  I don’t want to spam my Facebook friends, but I’d like them to know about the book.  How do I do this in an appropriate way?

To those who have self-published, you are amazing.  I hope to join your ranks soon.  I just have a few questions that I need to work through first.

Diaper Blowout – Story Time

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A fellow teacher is pregnant at our school, and because of this, we all were sharing diaper horror stories with her today.  The poor thing.  Here’s my favorite diaper blow out story.

On a hot day in the summer, our little family was driving down I-94.  I was behind the wheel, my wife, Lisa Marie, was in the passenger seat, and our first child, Bob the Builder was sitting in the back seat.  He must have been over one year old at the time because he was facing forward.

As we were driving down the interstate, we heard our baby grunting loudly.  Oh no.  That was his way of telling us that he’s working on a big dooky.  He must have got it out quickly because the smell flooded our car immediately.  It was rancid.  It smelled like rotten sweet potatoes and curdled milk mixed with cow manure.  My eyes watered.

I rolled down all the windows in the car.   We were only one mile away from an exit off of I-94.

My wife looked back to make sure it wasn’t too windy for baby Bob, and then screamed.  “Ahhh!  The poop is running down his leg!”

I glanced back and saw it too.  It was a diaper blowout!  Baby Bob was wearing a onesie.  On the side of his right leg, slush-like poo had breached the hull of the diaper.  The poop had broke containment.

“Only a half mile to the exit!” I shouted.

“Ahhh!” My wife screamed again.  “Don’t touch it!”  The baby looked down and saw the poo on his leg, and reached for it.  He grabbed the poo with one hand, and then looked at his own poo covered hand.  He was fascinated.  We were appalled.

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“Don’t wipe your hand on anything!” Lisa Marie commanded.  I veered off the highway, down the exit ramp.  I pulled off the road and parked our car on the gravel next to the road.

Thankfully we got Baby Bob out of the seat before he could transfer the poo anywhere else, and also managed to get him out of there before the poo leaked onto his car seat.

I can’t remember much about the cleaning process on the side of the road, but I do remember that we put all the wipes, and the loaded diaper in a plastic bag, tied up the bag, and left it on the side of the road.  The smell was simply too awful to bring back into the car.

Sorry for littering.  If you were there, you’d understand.

*** David Tiefenthaler wrote a book, O.K. is Great, and the reviews are in!  ***

“I love this book. It is humorous, but well grounded in reality. The author seems to know and understand well the angst of adolescent boys. If you have enjoyed the wimpy kid books try this one.  It’s funny, witty, has hilarious illustrations, and tells a great story, too.”

*** Pick it up in Paperback, on your Kindle or Nook, on iTunes or at Smashwords.  ***

Llamas, Cats, and Dogs – The Sunday Share (60/365)

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I think I finally found a good theme for Sundays.  I’m calling this weekly post, The Sunday Share.  First up, the story of the week, or I should say stories for this Sunday.  There was a dress that was black and blue and white and gold, plus some llamas got loose.

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Unless you were in Boulder, Colorado living under a boulder, I don’t know how you could have missed these stories.  Here’s a great summary of those events.

Staying with the same topic, how about the coolest thing that happened in the llama chase.  A cowboy, riding in the back of a moving pick-up truck, lassoed a runaway llama.  Now, that’s a man right there.

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The New Yorker recapped the whole story in gif form.  It’s hilarious.

While we’re still talking about llamas, how about the book recommendation of the week.

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We have this book in our extensive children’s book collection.  It’s quite fun to read.  Here’s a link to it if you want to buy Llama Llama Red Pajama from Amazon.

On my little blog, the post that got the most traffic this week was a little deep.  I asked a question of myself, “Am I Hurting The World or Helping It?”  Feel free to read and ask yourself the same question.

Last, but not least, I think The Sunday Share should end in with a fun video.  Here’s some cats not letting dogs pass.  YOU SHALL NOT PASS, DOG!

I hope you liked The Sunday Share.  You can share The Sunday Share as well.  Sharing is caring!    

Pants or Shirt on First? (59/365)

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At work, during lunch the past few days, we’ve had spirited discussions about what order we get dressed in.  Does your shirt go on first, or do you put your pants on first?  Do you even know what order you get dressed in?

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I’ll go over my order as I’m getting prepared for work.  First of all, it should be known that I am terribly unorganized and forgetful.  I have to take several steps the night before work to ensure I won’t run around in the morning like a chicken with its head cut off.  My keys have to go in my lunch bag, or I’ll forget my lunch.  Also, I have to pick out six clothing items and set them in the bathroom.  Here’s my order of getting dressed.

1. Boxers on.

2. T-shirt on.

3.  You would think that socks would be the next step, but I go with shirt here.  I put my collared dress shirt on third.

4.  Pants on next.  This is critical that the pants come after the shirt, because I tuck the shirt in.  I would create an unnecessary step if I did this out of order, or I’d have to stumble around with my pants undone and then put my shirt on.

5. Belt.

6.  Then the socks go on.  Socks go last because I actually tuck a small portion of my pants into my socks, so the leg of my pants don’t creep down and end up under my heel.  I hate that feeling.

Before I leave, I put my shoes on and untuck the pants from my socks.  Then I’m ready to go.

What’s your order for getting dressed?  Are you a pants first, shirt second.  The women at school said pants was second because they don’t tuck it in.

Just for fun, try getting dressed in a different order, but don’t do something weird like wear your underwear on the outside and blame it on me.

Am I Hurting The World or Helping It? (57/365)

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I’m really not sure if I am helping the world or hurting it.  Before I begin with my personal analysis, when I say “the world” I really mean humanity and the Earth.  Am I helping out humanity and the Earth with my lifestyle?  I think it’s a great question to ask of oneself.  Think of the world as a giant bucket with some water in it.  Are we a bucket dipper, meaning we take things away and are bad for the world, or are we a bucket filler, adding more good to the world?

On the way home from my job, I’m a middle school teacher, I was listening to a conservative radio show talk host.  He was talking about how a high school French teacher made her students do an assignment on conservation.  I won’t get too much into the details, but basically, the host was ripping this teacher a new one.  Yes, the teacher had her heart in the right place, but the execution of her idea was flawed.  However, the radio show host is most definitely hurting the world, not only by what he says, but also in his view of the world.  He’s a bucket dipper.  Basically, he said, we should consume as much as we want because we can.  I know that’s wrong.  Just because we can do something doesn’t make it right for the world.

But what about me?  I’m not perfect.  Far from it.

So, I made up three categories where I’m going to judge if I am helping the world or hurting it.

TheGlobe

That’s supposed to be a picture of the Earth.  I’m from the western hemisphere.  West Side!  Back to the story.

Consumption of Goods 

PRO – I recycle most of the bottles, cans, and paper products I consume, but probably not everything that I could.  I made a little vegetable garden in our backyard, and grow lots of potatoes, tomatoes, sugar snap peas, and onions.  Our family eats it all up, but I’d say all together they provide enough food for maybe two out of the 365 days in the year.

CON – We’ve built a house.  That used up a lot of materials from the Earth.  I live in Wisconsin which means we burn off a lot of natural gas to heat our home.  My wife and I both own cars that aren’t hybrids and drive a significant distance to get to work everyday.  It’s pretty safe to say, my carbon footprint is rather large.  I haven’t done anything to our home like adding geothermal heat, solar panels, or wind turbines.  When I purchase food, some things I buy are organic, but the majority isn’t.

OVERALL =  D- grade for my consumption of goods.  My veggie garden saved me from a failing grade.

Professional Life

PRO – Specifically, I am a seventh grade English Language Arts teacher.  On a basic level, I teach students how to read and write, but my ultimate goal is to help students become critical thinkers.  The school district I work in performs well, but I think that’s just a product of the environment.

CON – To make a bigger impact, I should probably teach in a school that needs more positive male role models.  I’d better serve the world by teaching in Milwaukee instead of the suburbs.

OVERALL = B

Family and Community

I’m married and I have three children.  My wife is a high school math teacher, and my children are all in Elementary school.

PRO – So far, my wife and I have managed to stay out of jail, and my children aren’t much trouble at their school.  I’m projecting here, but I imagine my children will all become productive members of society.

CON – It would probably be better for the world if my wife and I had only one child, seeing as we wouldn’t be using up as much resources.  My wife and I thought that wouldn’t be fair to our first child because he should have people to play with.  However, we think we’re good people, and we will hopefully do a good job raising our children so they can grow up to help out the world more than they hurt it.  We aren’t very active in the community outside of me being a T-Ball coach and a soccer coach for the teams my children play on.  I’ve only kicked the soccer ball and drilled a kid in the face a few times.  They were accidents, I swear!

OVERALL = C   This one is hard to say.   I think it is up to others to judge if we are good for the community or not.  Maybe I’m a real lousy coach and all the kids hate me?

I can do more.  We all can.  I’m trying to change the way I buy food, and I want to grow more vegetables next year.  Also, I’d like to look into some ways to outfit my home so it can generate some renewable energy.  Hopefully the kids I coach in my community have a good experience this year too.  I’m not going to kick the ball at kids faces anymore.  I swear!

Now, I ask you.  Are you helping the world out or not?  Are you dipping into the bucket or are you a bucket filler?  Is humanity or the Earth a better place because of you?

Why Do We Love Cats? (56/365)

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I admit it.  I’m a cat lover, but I’m not exactly sure why I am.  To give you a little background knowledge, we only have one cat in our house, and it also is the only pet that we have.  Our cat, Sylvie, is a little cutie.

Sylvie

What purpose does the cat serve?  Does it help out our family at all?   I don’t like dogs as much, but I know they can at least provide the family with a service.  Dogs can protect a home, deterring would be intruders.  They also can serve as hunting dogs, pointing out game or retrieving game.  Scratch that.  Cats actually do hunt, and they ever so graciously bring back their prey for you to see.  Sometimes, they even bring it back alive and let it go inside the house for you to finish off the kill.

They certainly don’t help keep the house clean.  It is nice that they poop in a litter box, but why can’t they keep food down.  Seriously.  Cats barf too much, and in some of the worst places.  Last week, our cat barfed on the heating vent.  The cat puke fell between the grates, and I had to take the vent out of the floor and then scrub inside the heating duct, because the air coming out smelled like hot barf.

Yes, cats clean themselves, but they don’t brush themselves.  We purchased a Furminator (I highly recommend one) to try and keep the fur from flying around the house and clinging to every clothing item that we have.

Now, I could go on and on about the negatives of cats, such as when my daughter got mauled by one, but I really want to know, why do I love my cat?

Maybe it’s because they are like a soft little person.  My cat, and all the cats I’ve known have attitude.  It’s not a given that I can just pet my cat and she’ll love it.  She might try to playfully bite me or pin her ears back in displeasure.  She might decide that its not time for pets and simply wiggle around until I put her down or leave her alone.  We humans have to be able to understand when or where we can interact with the cat.

Maybe it’s because they purr.  Something about that rumbling sound makes me smile and relax.  It’s such a unique trait.  So soothing.  I don’t think I have much stress in my life, but when my cat purrs, it does make me feel quite relaxed.  There’s been research done about that, and, like always, I’m not going to take the time to cite my sources because I’m lazy, but from what I understand it provides relief and offers some healing properties as well.  The low vibration of a purring cat helps the cat to heal bones and wounds, as well as the humans nearby.

The biggest reason I love Sylvie, my sweet little cat is because she’s a low maintenance companion.  When I’m watching TV, reading, or sitting by the computer, the cat likes to be around.  Sure, my cat will interrupt by walking across my keyboard while I’m typing, or decide to sit down on my wife’s math papers while she’s grading, but we both don’t seem to mind.  I actually feel rather guilty when my cat comes around and I’m too busy to pet her.

How about you?  Do you love cats?  Why or why not?