No. I'm not kidding. It was that simple.
When my soon to be 3rd grader started school we were a mess. Every day felt like endlessly screaming into the void. "Put on your shoes! You need to wear a coat today! Where is your lunch!" For a details person like myself, it was hell.
How was I supposed to remember every little thing for myself and for my kid?
Then, one day I visited a close friend and I noticed a lovely framed item sitting low on the wall. A list. A checklist. I swear that it glowed and angels sang.
What she did and I later repeated to a degree was use a framed a sheet of paper with a list printed on it. Then she attached a dry erase marker to it. Simple.
When I asked her about it, she sort of waved it off and told me it wasn't working for them. Upon closer inspection, I also found that her checklist was tied to money (studies show this does not work). So I was undeterred. Where she'd seen struggle I saw unmitigated potential. And in turn, this is what I created.
There are two lists. One for the morning:
Good Morning, Josie! Did you…
...brush your hair?
...brush your teeth and clean your retainer?
...pack your lunch?
...pack a healthy snack?
...pack your red folder?
...pack your backpack?
...shut off your bedroom light and fan?
...feed the dogs?
...give the dogs water?
....lock the back door?
And...one for the afterschool/evening:
Good Afternoon, Josie! Did you...
...put your red folder on the counter?
...empty your lunch box?
...rinse out your lunch dishes?
...put your lunchbox in the freezer?
...do your homework?
...pack your backpack?
...pack your lunch?
...empty the dishwasher?
...pick out an outfit for tomorrow?
...set your alarm clock?
...check the weekly chore chart?
Sure, there are some limitations. Like, it isn't quick to update. And I still need to remind her to do things, but instead of naming off and struggling to remember about a billion little things on my own I instead get to say, "Did you finish your checklist?"
What about when she checks something off that she hasn't actually done?
Truth be told, it depends on how I'm feeling about it. This system isn't infallible, and she's just a tiny human learning about life. So if she forgets or crosses something off once in a while without doing it then I might let it slide on occasion or settle for a reminder. However, if I start to notice it happening routinely then I will crack down. I either add on additional tasks as a consequence or she loses a privilege (TV, screen time, etc.). Also, if it seems like a time issue, ie. she's struggling to manage fitting things in, then I have made her chose between things. Time management is a thing, people. I don't want her to be lazy, but I don't want her to over commit herself either. It's all about balance.
Furthermore, in our house, we have clear definitions of how each of us is to contribute and reach household goals. Academics first, household tasks second, and extracurriculars last. That goes for kids and adults. I want my kids to understand that our family and our household is a collective unit that must work together. It helps each of us be accountable and teaches them the value of giving someone their word.
Checking off something on the list is a commitment (her word) that she has done an acceptable job of completing a task.
How often do you check that she's actually done the work?
Honestly, not a lot. Because I'm out living life. That my friends is the very definition of helicopter parenting. Don't be that guy. No one likes that guy. Also, I'm fairly consistent when it comes to discipline. So, although she might "get away" with it, she also understands what will happen when I discover her deception.
What if my kid can't read?
In that case, you still make the checklist. And every day you walk your kid through it. You model how to use it. You take the time to show them how to complete each task correctly. So in the future, when they are doing it on their own, they will know what your expectations are. Routine is an important and useful tool that your child needs in order to succeed within the public school system. Teaching them how to make one will help them in the long one.
What about one-off activities or short-term activities?
That, my friends, I'll cover in a separate blog. How I get my kid to do sh*t, pt. 2.
***This post contains affiliate links***
So...remember back in February when I was all like, “Edicts will be out soon!” Yeah, well I lied...But it wasn’t on purpose, I swear!
I promise, my original plan was to have Edicts in your hot little hands much sooner, but I hit a little speed bump, well a definitely a bump of sorts...I found out I was expecting.
Then I spent the next three months being incredibly sick... EVERY...SINGLE...DAY. :( Which was no fun and kind of put a damper on my work.
But, on the plus side, this December we’ll be welcoming a baby boy into the family! And... aside from the terrible morning sickness (and this odd meat aversion I’ve had) this pregnancy has gone quite well.
So without any further delay, I give you…Edicts!
Preorder using the links below and it will officially be on your eReader by midnight EST October 29th!
This cover brought to you by Frank McShane (you can learn more about his work -->here<--) and my good friend/photographer/petsitter extraordinaire Brooke.
Note: If you are waiting on the the paperback it will not be available for order until Oct. 29th. Unfortunately, Createspace does not allow pre-order (although I remain ever hopeful that their policy will change).
I’m thrilled to finally be sharing Brit and Bill’s story with you! I can’t wait for you to read it!
This past spring, while watching the news, a story came on that shocked me. Which is pretty difficult given we live in the age of sensationalized media. There was a Mumps outbreak at Harvard! Like many others, I struggled to wrap my head around the idea that an outbreak of an illness I’d long considered non-existent could happen. How awful it was for the students who had been infected. They seemed to be in real pain, but even more frightening? A fair number of those students were vaccinated. As the segment wrapped up, it left me with a strong sense of foreboding. But like most worries I moved on. There were soccer games to attend, and dinners to make. Life trudged on.
Not too much later, much to mine and my husband’s excitement, we found out we were expecting. After the two little lines appeared, buoyed by my enthusiasm, I contacted my doctor and scheduled my first appointments. Feeling more than a little relieved that at least, this time, I knew what I was doing.
I met with my doctor, who gave me a clean bill of health. Then they requested the dreaded blood work. Now, I hate needles. I’m a great big baby about it, and I don’t even try to hide it (at least I don’t try to run away, the phlebotomist appreciated that).
I sat in the hot seat, survived, and went home. For the next month, I enjoyed the excitement and trepidation of preparing for my second child. And the wonder of excessive morning sickness.
When I returned for my next appointment, my doctor told me everything was progressing nicely, but that my blood work showed that I might not be immune to Rubella (German Measles). I stared back at her. “So...give me the shot?” I saw what happened to those kids; I may be a big baby, but there was no way I was putting my child at risk.
She shook her head. “The MMR vaccine isn’t safe to give during pregnancy, but we can give you the booster as soon as the baby is born.”
I continued to stare, unblinking. The blood whooshing in my ears. “But I can get sick.”
My doctor’s response, “Yes.”
I was never one of those anti-vaxers. My Mom’s a nurse, and both my daughter and brother had auto-immune disorders. I’ve always had a keen awareness of health, and science pretty unequivocally shows that vaccines prevent illness. What my doctor was telling me is that for the next 8 or so months of my pregnancy I was going to have to walk around unprotected, and there wasn’t anything I could do about it.
I felt sick to my stomach. I’d been taking every precaution. Tried to prevent every risk. I asked my doctor how this happened. I WAS UP-TO-DATE ON MY VACCINES! She smiled kindly and explained that immunity is complicated. How eight years previously, during my first pregnancy, I had been immune, but that it could wear off. Like a friggin temporary tattoo!
I thought back to that news segment. The students puffy, swollen faces. That could happen to me! As soon as I was in the car I Googled Rubella during pregnancy. You know what I learned? According to the CDC, if I were to contract the virus during pregnancy, not only am I at risk for a miscarriage, but my child could be born with congenital heart defects, intellectual disabilities, liver or spleen damage, loss of eyesight, or hearing loss.
And I can’t do anything to fix this.
Frantic, I contacted my friends and family. “Are you vaccinated? Are your kids vaccinated? Have you thought about getting a booster?”
Lucky for me, their answers were yes. Although my Grandpa did say, “Hey, I think I had Rubella when I was a kid.”
What frustrated me most was that I had to ask.
Bottom line: people choose not to vaccinate. And given my circumstances, I just can’t understand that choice. I don’t understand putting your child’s health at risk on purpose.
When you get vaccinated, and when you vaccinate your child, you protect us both.
Hey, just by visiting my page you've earned an entry to win my copy of The Husband's Secret!
I have to tell you that I fell in love with this book! To read my review of this book and more be sure to subscribe to my newsletter. I send it out on the first Saturday of the month so no spam. Only updates on my latest projects, and contests.
See his face? That is the expression all of us wear when we attend a bad webinar. Today I offer you your saving grace. I've compiled my favorite tips and tricks for making your next webinar a success.
Do Shut up.
I mean it in the best way, honest. Unless the presenter asks participants to introduce themselves, don't do it. Let the presenter set the tone for how conversation will be handled during the webinar. Some presenters welcome discussion, but others prefer it once they've ended the presentation. It's their show, and yes, the internet provides many spaces for innovation, but in respect for the instructor, let them determine how the space will be used. And if you don't like how they are using the space. Leave the webinar. If it's a free webinar, and you dislike their technique, or they lack finesse, it's a sure sign that you won't like their product either. Save yourself the trouble.
And on that note….don't say anything that doesn't contribute to a point the presenter illustrated.
Seriously, no “Me toos” or “Yes, pleases”. No one cares. Not even the presenter, unless they've asked.
On your end, what it comes down to is determining whether the presenter's question is a conversation starter or if it's rhetorical.
Most presenters use the sage on the stage set-up (shame on them!). If you were in a classroom, you probably wouldn't just call out to the instructor without raising your hand. You'd acknowledge them with a nod or a smile or some other non-invasive gesture to indicate that you agree. That doesn't change in chat. Some apps let participants react to what is being said, but if the presenter isn't using one of those apps then just nod your head quietly. Chances are you're home alone anyway, and if not, your cat isn't judging you, I promise.
Don't ask a question that's already answered.
Read through the chat! Or... often, after the webinar is over, the presenter will send you a recording and you can re-watch it. Don't waste the presenter's and other attendee's time. If you need clarification, that's one thing, but otherwise, suffer. You'll live.
Don't torture your audience.
That means, no more than a single idea per slide, and don't talk for more than 30 seconds per slide. What?!?!? I know, you need to be expedient. If you don't speak quickly, or if you don't move through the slides at a quick pace then I'm going to check Facebook, which updates every second. Probably faster.
Give them something real, not just a taste, a tangible product.
If I get something from you that works, I'm much more likely to buy your full product. Before I buy in, I want to know that I'm making a wise investment, especially if I'm going to fork over a significant sum of money. So give me something I can use. Even if I don't end up buying your product, if it's awesome then I'm probably going to share it, and that person, well, they just might buy it. Either way you've earn a sale.
Let your participants discuss whatever they want to in chat, even if it is unrelated to the discussion. You don't have to engage in it if it isn't relevant, and if that is the case, it will probably die on its own. Webinars are for learning, sure, but they also can be a place for networking. We're a lonely lot, us authors.
And while I'm at it, don't just ask us to introduce ourselves as we enter the chat. Ask us a question that starts a discourse related to the topic. Get an idea of what we already know and then reference it when later you're talking about that subject. It makes attendees feel like you care about them, and increases their engagement after they've stuck around.
Plus, it allows you time to wait on those late comers without asking attendees to sit around. If I had a dollar for every time, I've heard a presenter say, “We're just going to wait another minute or two for the stragglers,” I'd be a rich woman indeed. If you do that, then your early and on-time arrivers will get bored and go somewhere else.
Don't talk about yourself!
Say your name, welcome us, and get started. Chances are we had to read your newsletter, visit your website, or something along those lines to sign up. None of us accidently ended up there. We've bought in. We've had time to research you. Don't waste our time telling us your hobbies and accomplishments unless it directly contributes to the larger discussion. For example: I know this method works because I used it for blah... blah.... blah..., and these were my results.
Avoid being a sage on the stage.
Use the webinar space innovatively. That is what sets you apart. That's what makes people buy in. Let the conversation get off topic. If that happens, it means that your presentation wasn't very good, or it didn't cover what was expected. Use that information to refine it. Make it the best it can be.
At the end if no one asks questions, it probably means you did a good job.
No, really. You don't need to fish. If you've been thorough and allowed for discourse in chat, then you've probably addressed most of the critical issues. And if you've a good presenter you've told them how to reach you. Also, you've told them where they can find future and past work.
I recently attended a webinar where the presenter read and responded to all that was written in chat. It was fine until we started thanking him and saying goodbye. Then it was tedious. He wasted our time, and I didn't buy his product.
When it comes to asking attendees for feedback: If you've asked once, good. If you've asked twice, great. Then leave it alone.
Do give attendees the slides.
That way no one panics if they've missed something, and it reduces the number of repeated questions. Yay!
Always set an end time.
You can always go over or under the time you've set aside, but when I'm deciding whether or not to attend, I'm checking to see if your webinar fits into my schedule. And on that note, if you can schedule a webinar between noon and 1pm. Do it! Most people get a lunch hour.
Lastly, these days, a half hour is a serious time commitment. Just don't do it. Aim for 10-20 minutes. If you need more time, break it up into a series. You want to make time for discussion. It is the most important part of your webinar. That's where the most learning happens for both of you.
Some of you may have noticed the newest section of my website. Pawsome Fosters is a space dedicated to “difficult” to adopt pets. They may be seniors, suffer from long-term health issues, have behavioral problems or a myriad of other problems. However, my hope is that by sharing them, and their stories they’ll finally find a furever home.
Each month from the first of the month until the 3rd Saturday of that month rescues can submit their fosters. I’ll feature the winners on my website, in my newsletter, and on social media. Plus, I’ll post follow-up stories there too. If you know a foster who might be interested in Pawsome Fosters visit my website and send us an e-mail. Just be sure to the read the rules. :)
But this isn’t a post dedicated to that, no. This post is about why I am doing this. Why I care so much about animal rescue.
In 2011, my husband and I both graduated from college. Our daughter was 3, and we moved into our new apartment. And the best part? We could have pets! In fact, the allowance of pets was a major selling point for me.
By then, I’d worked in dog rescue for awhile. It was my Aunt’s fault, really. In high school, she invited my brother and me to an adoption event at a local Petsmart. We held leashes and snuggled with all types of pooches. I was in hog heaven, and I was hooked. At that time, neither of my parents had dogs in their homes. When they’d divorced, my mother forced us to find a new home for the family Labrador, Buddy. Lucky for us, Grandma saved the day. And he lived out his years as a therapy dog, and as a part of her reading program with the Newspapers in Education program. But I digress…
Anyway, I wanted a dog very badly, and I begged and begged my father to let us bring one home. He said no, and I was heartbroken. Now don’t be too hard on him he was only being reasonable. At that time, us kids mostly lived with our mom and saw him on weekends, and he worked long hours and had an hours-long commute.
In college, I kept supporting rescue. I continued to volunteer, and I visited the shelter to walk dogs and pet the cats. Each time I left a little more broken. Every pet needed a home, and I couldn’t give them one. Some of them were there for a long time.
Now, back to 2011. As soon as we settled in we started looking for the perfect furry family member. I enlisted the help of my Aunt. She still acted as a foster, and by this point, she had helped hundreds of dogs find homes! How awesome is that?
She sent me the profile of a little brown dog (little being a relative term, you’ll see why later). This dog was skin and bones and heartworm positive. I had to meet her. We drove out with our daughter to a house on the lake. My Aunt accompanied us so that she could help temperament test the dog. For those of you unfamiliar with that term it essentially means following a prescribed set of procedures to determine the dog’s ability to tolerate touch, sound, etc. Responsible rescues to this before they pull a dog from a shelter. But we wanted a lifetime friend, and I had a 3-year-old. Better safe than sorry, I figured.
We knocked on the woman’s door, and she brought Merit out. She was a shy thing, with the saddest brown eyes. She let us pet her, and we took her for a walk. Then she met Josie. Almost immediately she rained kisses my daughter’s face, and when she was rewarded with a giggle, well to my daughter’s delight, she gave her some more. On June 8th, we brought her home. She’s been a puzzle, our Merit. At first, she was very sick from the heartworm treatment. It is very hard on their bodies. We ended up spending thousands of dollars to get her better, and she almost died. I’ll say this, use a preventative. There are plenty of versions that aren’t too expensive, and many of them prevent other common ailments like fleas, as well. I use Revolution for all three of my dogs.
In December of 2013, we’d been struggling with Merit. Whoever she’d lived with before rescue had done a number on that poor girl. She was head shy. She had terrible separation anxiety, and she wasn’t a fan of loud noises. To top it off she’d began to lick herself until her fur fell out and her skin was red and raw. We’d tried a few things, but nothing seemed to help. Then, one day, my Aunt sent me a picture of a Beagle, and a message. “This would be a perfect dog for you.” My response? “But it’s a Beagle.”
Growing up I’d attended an in-home daycare, and the director bred Beagles. I remember going into the backyard shed with her kids to look at the puppies. If you’ve ever met a Beagle, then you know they walk out of the womb barking. :) Now imagine a whole bunch of them. It was a bonafide doggie chorus! No, thank you. But my aunt, she's tenacious. She wasn’t taking no for an answer. So, reluctantly, I brought Josie to visit him. When I walked in he bared his teeth, and I was pissed. I turned to his foster mom in shock. My daughter was still little, and I didn’t want an aggressive dog. Turns out, baring teeth can also be a sign of submission. Definitely, Google it. It is a fascinating topic. Walter is essentially smiling, just like a human would. :) He was incredibly sweet with my daughter and so on January 4th, Walter joined our family. He settled right in, and just I’d hoped, Merit’s anxieties improved drastically.
In 2014, my family gathered at my house to celebrate a birthday or something along those lines. Anyway, my Aunt asked if she could bring her newest foster, Spree, with her. Spree is a Yorkie/Chihuahua mix and was only a few months old then. They didn’t want to leave her alone for too long without an opportunity to use the bathroom. They’d brought many of their foster’s to my home since we moved in to socialize, and bonus, our backyard is fenced.
She was a tiny thing, but man she was a pistol (still is). Merit, and especially Walter, had a grand time playing with her all day long. When my Aunt left, I felt a pang of sadness at her departure. Spree was so cute and sweet. My argument to my husband was that every kid needs to raise a puppy. I told him that was my problem too. Growing up I’d never really had a puppy. I’d surely be a better wife and mother if I did. So reluctantly he agreed, and the rest they say is history. On Thanksgiving, she moved in and took up permanent residence in my heart. And although these days you might hear me refer to her as my little asshole, you can be sure it's uttered with only the utmost of love. I love my little rat, and she knows it. :)
Merit, Spree, and Walter are my fur family. Comforting me in times of sorrow and stress. Being a willing ear while I endlessly re-read a section of the book I'm editing. Without them my house would be cleaner, my days would probably run smoother, and I’d save an awful lot of money. But my home and my heart would be empty.
If you’re reading this, then there’s a fair chance that you’re an author, you know one, or have at least toyed with the idea of becoming one. If any of those stand true, then maybe, you too have struggled with this dilemma. Do I look for an agent? Or make a go of it on my own? Though neither question is easily answered, what it comes down to is this: do your research.
Seems simple enough, you can just Google it, right? And to that, I say, “Well sure.” Of course, you can Google it, but you’re going to get about a billion plus search results. Okay, maybe not a billion, but you’ll certainly find an overwhelming amount of content to sift through. And if my college years taught me anything, it’s that not all sources are good ones and that everyone has an agenda.
Over the year’s, I’ve learned who could be counted on as a reliable resource, and I'd like to share a few of those with you.
She pretty much wrote the book on self-publishing. In fact, on Twitter, she refers to herself as a “new adult pioneer”. And well, it’s true. On her website, she has a page dedicated to self-publishing. She lists her reasoning behind her choice to self-publish, and she is generous enough to share which freelancers she uses. She even guides you through the process of uploading your book to multiple online retailers. More importantly, she’s worked with a traditional publisher and has self-published. She’s familiar with both worlds, and it lends credence to her advice, which is compelling.
If you’re a self-publisher, and you’re not subscribed to his e-mail list, then get on it! Not only does he offer awesome free webinars on a regular basis. He teams up with other successful self-publishing professionals to build support tools for indie authors. I’ll be honest, though, I’ve been to plenty of the webinars, but I haven’t purchased any of the tools. Why? Well cost for sure, but I have a Master’s degree in Educational Technology. So when it comes to tech, well I can confidently say that it’s kind of my thing. And if you’re like me, then check out Product Hunt. You’ll love it!
Consider that I’m 27 years old. I grew up with social media. For years, it’s been my second life. I’ve observed first hand how other brands built a following. But for any of you that are not tech savvy, well Joel’s got your back, and you could really benefit from his insight.
Like Joel Friedlander embodies self-publishing, Derek Halpern personifies social marketing. This dude knows how to sell, and the best part is that he tells you how to leverage yourself and your brand. I was introduced to him through a site called Startup Resources. And just to be clear, if you’re a self-publishing author, you are a startup business. They suggested subscribing to Derek Halpern’s website social triggers. So I figured it couldn’t hurt to sign up, and honestly I don’t regret it. His advice is sound, and hey, his work is wildly entertaining. In fact, in my dream world, Derek and Joel would team up and design the most comprehensive and amazing self-publishing resource ever. A girl can dream, right?
In the end, I self-published because it made sense for me. I felt like I had a firm grasp on social media and present marketing strategies. Most importantly, I knew where to find the information I needed to build success. And though, on occasion I’ve had to return to what I believed were my long passed late night study sessions of my college years, I wouldn't trade it. I love being in complete control of my work, my content, and my brand.
Welcome. You'll see this word in many places on my website and social media profiles. And from the bottom of my heart, I mean it. My fans are what make my job possible. I want them to read my work, and I want to know what they think of it. I can't be the best author possible without you.
This blog provides a larger space for sharing my thoughts than a status update or a tweet. I hope that by reading my blog you'll learn something new; see something that makes you chuckle; or get to know me and my work even better.
So stop by, read a post and leave a comment. I'd love to hear from you.