Tag Archives: PiBoIdMo 2013

Our jar of “good things that happened in 2013”

“I hope that this year to come, you make mistakes…Make new mistakes. Make
glorious, amazing mistakes…Whatever it is you’re scared of doing, do it. Make
your mistakes, next year and forever.” ~Neil Gaiman

Happy new year! I wish you and your loved ones a year filled with happiness, love, friendship, kindness, caring, fun, and new experiences. I don’t really make new year’s resolutions anymore, but rather a list of projects I want to accomplish each year. I got a lot crossed off my list in 2013 but I have a few leftovers I’m shifting to 2014, and a lot more to add. I’m looking forward to making some things happen this year.

If you follow my blog, you may have heard me mention our jar of “good things that happened in 2013” a few times. As the year comes to an end, we tend to remember the bad but not always the good. For the first time in 2013, my boys and I used this jar to focus on the positive and help us remember all the good things that would happen to us throughout the year. As 2013 started, I was wondering how we’d get our jar full. After all, it’s quite a big jar.

Jar of good things that happened in 2013

Jar of good things that happened in 2013

But as we opened our jar yesterday, it was full to the top. And full of many great events we forgot about. So in no particular order, here are a few of our many favorite.

When it comes to nature, we were especially lucky this year. We saw baby bunnies playing from the window of our cabin while vacationing in the Southern California mountains. Apparently rabbits love to play leapfrog.

Bunnies playing in Idyllwild

Bunnies playing in Idyllwild

While hiking in a local park a few months ago, we spotted a mule deer down the trail, and a few hours later watched a teenage boy pull a huge wide mouth bass out of a pond.

We saw a painted turtle laying eggs while walking in our town’s park. Something we won’t forget for a long time.

The San Diego Zoo Safari Park opened Lemur Walk, an exhibit with no fence between you and the animals, so we got to walk with the lemurs. Very cool!

Lemur walk at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park

Lemur walk at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park

Oh, and let’s not forget I freed a snake by myself that was tangled in our backyard!

We saw Dino Jaws, a great exhibit with lifesize animatronics at the San Diego Natural History Museum. We also enjoyed their Mammoth and Mastodons exhibit later in the year.

Dino Jaws at the San Diego Natural History Museum

Dino Jaws at the San Diego Natural History Museum

We visited our first lighthouse. We took a 90-minute train ride on a old train at the San Diego Southwest Pacific Railway Museum.

My kids has their first try at fishing with friends of mine. That same day, we went on our first pedal boat ride and had a blast.

More things we did together: not one, but two Easter egg hunts (one at a local park, one in a museum); a very fun mother/son laser tag event at school; a water balloon fight in our backyard; apple picking in the fall; pumpkin surface carving for Halloween.

Surface carved pumpkins

Surface carved pumpkins

My kids learned to swim. They have a lot more to go but it really clicked this year.

They crashed a birthday party and got to hit the piñata a few times and collect some candy!

My youngest lost his first tooth and is now quickly catching up to his brother.

My sister came to visit us, after we didn’t see each other for three years. Great highlight of 2013.

I learned how to make homemade yogurt and I haven’t gone back to store bought since.

I completed PiBoIdMo, coming up with 30 picture book ideas in 30 days. It got me motivated to write picture books again.

My kids got several awards at school for their efforts and good behavior. My youngest graduated preschool and got a big dinosaur book because he was the boy in his class who did the most book reports. Dinosaurs, roar!

We got our elf on the shelf, Wink. We said goodbye to him on Christmas Eve and we can’t wait to see him again sometime later this year.

We went to Legoland California and saw the lifesize X-wing starfighter. Apparently, this was a big deal because I put it in the jar not once but three times! We also went to enjoy some Christmas lights and concerts there. We spent the evening of New Year’s Eve there watching the Lego brick drop (on right of photo below) and the fireworks. What a great way to finish a great year!

Brick drop at Legoland on New Year's Eve

Brick drop at Legoland on New Year’s Eve

Overall, this was a great experience for us and we loved recollecting each event as we read our pieces of paper. We’re looking forward to putting more good things in our jar, which now states “good things that happened in 2014”.

What good things happened to you in 2013 you’d like to share?

30 picture book ideas in 30 days: I did PiBoIdMo and I liked it!

This past November, I finally found the courage (and motivation) to grab the tiger by the tail. I remember that tiger when it used to be a cute kitten a long time ago, when I had thoughts of writing picture books when I was a kid. A few years ago, the kitten grew up to a full-size cat, constantly purring in the back of my head, “do it, do it…”

This past summer, that darn cat turned into a bobcat, constantly bouncing ideas around my brain, challenging me to taking a picture book online class and getting things moving, rather than just talking about them. I ended up creating a 32-page draft (text and illustrations) for my first picture book. These were my draft characters, by the way.

My book characters: a rabbit and a sheep

My book characters: a rabbit and a sheep

By the end of the class, I got busy with other priorities and shelved my book draft. I haven’t looked at it since then, even though it’s reached the editing phase. Yes, it’s quite pathetic, and so the bobcat started to growl more often.

Fast forward to mid-October, when the buzz about PiBoIdMo 2013 started going around the blogosphere. I wanted to participate last year and somehow missed the boat. A few weeks ago, my bobcat grew into an uncontrollable tiger and I knew I had to take the plunge once and for all. So I signed up for the Picture Book Idea Month challenge, wondering how the heck I would come up with 30 picture book ideas in 30 days.

I’ll admit, it was hard some days. I would look at my notebook and realize I didn’t write anything for a few days, and I wasn’t sure I would add anything. But then an idea would pop up, and then another, and another. I also found a wonderful and supportive community of people just like me at the challenge’s Facebook page. Oh, and let’s not forget to mention that I had wonderful inspiration from my kids (and great support!). Can you guess a lot of my book ideas have a ninja theme?

And then, 30 days later, I got 30 ideas, yeah!

PiBoIdMo winner badge 2013

PiBoIdMo winner badge 2013

Are all of my ideas brilliant? Of course not, but that’s not the point. The point was that I set my mind to doing this challenge and putting myself in a children’ book author’s shoes for 30 days. And you know what, it felt great! So how many good ideas do I have? After flipping through my notebook, I’d say a few. My youngest came up with a non-fiction book idea and a genius title on our drive to school one morning (thanks, buddy!), and I can’t wait to do some further research on it. My kids got so excited about another book idea, they asked me to start writing the book right away! Needless to say, they were very disappointed when I told them I was only coming up with ideas during the month.

But I bet they’ll be excited about what’s coming up in January! I’ve decided to sign up for Julie Hedlund’s 12×12 picture book challenge, which involves writing 12 full manuscripts in 12 months, with the option to submit to agents every month. Argh, did I just say that? I’m terrified at the idea of taking this huge plunge but honestly, this is the only way I’ll find enough motivation to dedicate some time and let the children’s book writer inside me finally come out. I write for businesses every day, so this will add a great balance to my life. For way too long, I’ve wished I would turn the ideas I have in my head into picture books, and didn’t. 2014 sounds like a great year for a new adventure.

12x12 picture book challenge

12×12 picture book challenge