COVER MOM ANN LAMER
LUNCH BOX BLUES? IDEAS TO GET YOU TO SUMMER
SO YOU WANT TO WRITE A BOOK…
COVER MOM ANN LAMER
LUNCH BOX BLUES? IDEAS TO GET YOU TO SUMMER
SO YOU WANT TO WRITE A BOOK…
Please join us for our Baby Bundle and Healthy Baby classes at The Corvallis Clinic
Since we believe that knowledge brings comfort and confidence, we sponsor these classes for all parents-to-be. During each session, you will have the opportunity to speak with our specialists about labor, delivery, and your child’s development.
Each Baby Bundle session features one of our expert obstetricians who will focus on labor and delivery. We’ll even help you figure out how to choose a pediatrician.
Our Healthy Baby sessions feature an expert pediatrician to answer questions about your newborn. Feel confident knowing that you aren’t alone in your journey into parenthood.
Visit our website to learn more and register or scan the QR code for quick registration.
Learn more at CorvallisClinic.com/baby-classes
Helping Kids Thrive with Karen Swanger, page 6
Focus on MOM with Dr. Michelle Lee, page 28
Reimagine Your Home with Rylee Henderer, page 7
Natural Choices with Jasmin Woodside, page 10
Something to Smile About with Dr. Jay Vaikuntam, page 29
Let’s Talk Health with Samaritan Health Services, page 8
Support for Families with Audrey Benson, page 20
Partners in Education with AnnaMarie Gosser, page 11
Pets are Family with Josiah Moses, DVM, page 30
Say Cheese with Dr. Wade Haslam, page 26
[They know what they’re talking about]
Audrey Meier DeKam email@example.com
Kim Leighty firstname.lastname@example.org
Mid-Valley & Lane County Business Development Manager
Designer Sean Carver
For decades in my writing career, the phrase “grow a thicker skin” has been bandied about as the only way to protect yourself from the soul-crushing rejections of a tough industry. One must go through these rites of initiation, I was told time and again, to become a real writer. Take your licks. Get knocked about by the industry until you’re as hardened as an armadillo. In my 20s and 30s, I drank the Kool-aid of this maxim, constantly berating myself to toughen up, not take it so personally, let all of it roll off my back… But there’s a big fat flaw inherent in this that didn’t gel in my mind until my mid-40s, and it came up while working on this issue’s article, “So you want to write a book.” The ideology of “it was rough for me, so it should be rough for you too” has unpleasant notes of damaging, bro-built culture. It all smacks of hazing.
And it’s rampant in many many industries, not just creative ones. For decades in physician training, working 100+ hour weeks was the gauntlet new doctors had to run, all while maintaining an unemotional mask. This was terrible for patients, workers and basically everyone. No one wants an exhausted robot doctor.
I’ve been called sensitive all my life and made to feel less than for it. But here’s the thing: it’s my super power. My thin skin is exactly what allows me to understand the motivation of a person or character. Why should I feel less when my very business as a writer is to feel and then translate those feelings into words and stories? It’s the very essence of authenticity. In fact, that authenticity is good for all occupations, if you ask me. It’s called humanity.
The ones who buy into the tear-you-down first, then build-yourself-upagain mentality? Hurt people hurt people. Teach your kids to reject it. Even Elsa gave up on the conceal-don’t-feel bit.
If you’re like me, you do not need a thicker skin. What we do need is to stop feeding the outdated, harmful psychology of that phrase. Keep your thin skin. It’s perfect.Meier DeKam Editor-in-Chief
You don’t need a thicker skinKaren Director of
Research has shown that adolescents and teens want to contribute to their communities, and that they actually care quite deeply about the world when given a chance to help. Volunteering helps brain development, and it has been correlated with less depression and improved overall health in youth.
Through our Kidspirit teen leader program, teens ages 14 and up have the opportunity to learn leadership skills from our college student staff. This program is offered in tandem with our summer camp, and volunteers assist our camp counselors as well as work directly with our campers.
An essential part of our teen leader program is the opportunity to assist our college student staff. Our camp counselors have a big job to do, and when our teen leaders are there, they are a big help. There are reciprocal benefits to this, as mentoring and being mentored is valuable for all.
Besides the many benefits, it’s fun! Our counselors, teen leaders and campers have a blast. And how can you not, with sports, art, science and more? Visit kidspirit.oregonstate.edu to get your teen, camper or counselor involved.
As we head into the lighter, mild spring months, many people look to refresh their home’s appearance. While my job is to take rooms down to studs and redesign entire spaces, that isn’t feasible every year. The good news: there are simple ways to update your home that don’t call for an entire remodel.
The 2010s and 2020s have arguably been the era of the modern farmhouse. We’re now seeing a shift to a more sophisticated twist on this trend, with global styles such as European farmhouse, Scandi and Japandi. Many of these styles pull in warmer tones of gold, bronze or brass fixtures instead of chrome or matte black, and browns and taupe instead of grays and whites. Look for vases and wall hangings in these warm colors for a low-cost refresh.
In addition to warmer colors and finishes being a new staple in interiors, we’re also seeing an increase in repurposed items and furnishings. Many people are flocking to estate sales, thrift stores and flea markets in search of that well-loved but still fabulous piece to incorporate into their homes. These venues often turn up some of the best one-of-a-kind finds, and I love the incorporation of timeless and even peculiar pieces.
If spring cleaning doesn’t quite scratch the itch you’ve got to refresh your space, look into making small changes such as replacing soft items such as bedding, linens, towels, throw pillows and other little things that make your house a home. These items are an easy way to revitalize a space without breaking the bank.
In spring we see so many beautiful flowers and plants in the valley. My personal favorite way to bring a new feeling or look into a space is incorporating plants, planters, or even a fresh bouquet of flowers. Many nurseries have spring sales, flower farms are open to the public, and farmers’ markets get us back into the swing of things around this time of year. If you’re looking to liven up your space, drop by a local shop and bring some greenery home.
Rylee Henderer grew up around construction job sites, sweeping up endless sawdust in the shop. She formally joined her family’s business in 2017 and learned everything from demolition and framing, to tile and cabinetry installation. From there, Rylee grew into client management, and along the way found a love for design. She is now a full-time designer, creating beautiful, innovative spaces for Henderer Design + Build + Remodel.
Have a question you forgot to discuss at the doctor’s office or are too embarrassed to ask? The experts at Samaritan Health Services are here to help.
Q: I recently had my second child and I’ve been feeling depressed and anxious. How do I know if I have postpartum depression?
A: First, I want to say, you’re not alone and the transition from one child to two is hard! Also, it’s very common to have baby blues the first few weeks postpartum, which can include feeling depressed and anxious. However, if you’re continuing to feel this way for longer and it’s not getting better, then you may be experiencing postpartum depression.
Signs of postpartum depression can include feeling down, crying more often, not finding joy in things you normally enjoy, feeling irritable, feeling hopeless or worthless, having low energy and motivation, trouble sleeping
(even if you have the opportunity to sleep), intrusive thoughts, difficulty bonding with your baby and change in appetite.
If you are having any thoughts of harm toward yourself or your baby, these are more serious symptoms, and it is important you seek help right away. If you think you might have postpartum depression, contact your medical provider or a therapist. Or, you can call the national perinatal depression/anxiety helpline at 800-944-4773 for information and support.
Generally, sleep, social support and self-care are important steps to feeling better. Your health care provider can assist with helpful recommendations or offer other treatment options.— Petra Zdenkova, PsyD, Samaritan Obstetrics & Gynecology - Corvallis
Q: My teenager recently started dating. What are some tips to explain the difference between consent and coercion?
A: It’s important that parents talk about sexual consent with their teens and revisit the conversation often. Start by discussing boundaries. Have your teenager define what their own personal boundaries are, understand that others need to respect them and that they have the right to change their boundaries. In return, your teen should also understand that they need to respect boundaries established by others.
Next, discuss what consent means for your teen. Consent is more than saying “yes” to something. It must be given freely, voluntarily
and be mutually understood by all parties involved. Consent is ongoing and can be withdrawn at any time.
Coercion is the practice of persuading someone to do something by using force or threats. Consent does not exist if pressure or coercion are used to gain it.
Lastly, keep the dialogue open and ongoing. As your teenager starts engaging in relationships, continue bringing up the topics of consent and healthy boundaries. By talking about consent regularly the conversations will become normalized and your teen will have the skills to enjoy healthy, safe and respectful relationships.— Karyn Chandler, RN, sexual assault nurse examiner, Sarah’s Place
The Eugene Airport is a proud part of what makes Western Oregon such a unique place to live and visit, with direct routes connecting to hundreds of destinations.
Linn County Expo Center
Sunday, 10-3 OregonHearthand HomeEvents.com
Snacking gets a bad rap. Maybe instead we should call it “fueling up,” because that’s what healthy snacking does. Keeping a full tank is important, especially when it comes to kids at school. Strategic snacking can help keep energy up and minds sharp, which helps them stay engaged and learning through the day. Try these nutritious snacks:
A fun, healthful answer to French fries! Crisp, colorful and delicious, bell pepper strips have all the crunch with none of the fat. Get a mix of green, red, yellow and orange organic bell peppers and slice them into quarter-inch wide strips. In addition to being a hydrating snack, which is important on hot days, bell peppers are a great source of vitamins A, C and E.
Sweet and chewy dried fruit, available in the bulk department at the Co-op, makes a great alternative to packaged snack-treats loaded with extra sugar. Look for dried mangoes, apple rings, pear slices, pineapple slices, banana chips, persimmons and more. Fruit truly is nature’s candy. It offers an unmatched variety of fun and healthful snacks that will give your kid the energy they need to learn and grow, every day.
361 SW Madison Ave, Corvallis, OR 97333
Family-friendly movies, music & pure magic
Two locations in Corvallis 1007 SE 3rd • 541-753-3115
2855 NW Grant • 541-452-3115
Open daily www.firstalt.coop
A highlight of what we have coming up this spring:
April 16: Madame Mustache
May 4: Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back screening
May 7: Cencienta: A Bilingual Cinderella Story
See a full list of upcoming shows at our website, whitesidetheatre org
Rent the theatre for a birthday party or a private movie screening!
Contact us via our online rental form at: https://www.whitesidetheatre.org/bookings.html
More programs are being added to our calendar constantly!
Once a month we show a Bob Newton Family Movie, FREE for kids under 12.
Tickets are available at whitesidetheatre orgJasmin Woodside of First Alternative Co-op and her children.
As parents we hate seeing our kids unhappy, and giving in sometimes feels a lot easier than saying no. However, we’re creating a “selfie” dynamic in our world where humans only care about themselves and not the community around them.
lives, we see what we don’t have. When we look in the mirror, we see our flaws instead of the blessings. Can we take a step back? Can we accept those few extra pounds, or scuffed shoes, or not-so-new car—even with its occasional rattles—and allow ourselves to experience satisfaction with what we have and who we are? Peace with ourselves liberates us to be our own “best.”
Pampering, snow plowing away problems and defending your child’s every struggle keeps them from experiences that build resilience. To raise kids who care about others, you must actively work to set boundaries and expectations.
Today’s the day. Give yourself a break from the expectation of perfection and say, “I’m okay.”
It’s called GRACE. Give yourself some today!
Say no. Research shows that kids raised with structure and boundaries have higher self-worth and feel more empathy toward others. Praise the right things. Praise them for caring, sharing and working well with others. Ask them specifically to share how they reached out to someone at school or did a random act of kindness and applaud it. Practice gratitude. Children feel happier, cope better with adversity and increase their daily satisfaction when they practice gratitude. The words “thank you” cannot be said enough.
Call out inconsiderate acts. Don’t allow your child to engage in even remotely inconsiderate acts; talk about how other people feel and help your kids learn empathy.
Focus on giving and not getting. Monitor consumption and set limits to the amount of things your kids get. Engage in ways to give and serve to build the muscle of caring for others.
Now those are snapshots you’ll be proud of as a parent: ones that show your child in an un-selfie way.
FOR THIS MOM OF FIVE, SPORTS SHARE MUCH IN COMMON WITH HAVING A BIG FAMILY: BOTH ARE FILLED WITH COOPERATION, SACRIFICE, REWARD AND MUCH MORE.
SONS: Justice, age 26; Brawley, age 24; Legend, age 22; Chance, age 20; Daschle, age 18
SPOUSE: Chad Lamer, chiropractorCREATIVE
All families are unique. Tell us about yours. My husband Chad and I have been married almost 28 years and having a big family has always been my dream. We both came from big Midwestern families, so we realized early on the benefits of having multiple siblings. I believe the greatest gift I gave my children was each other. So many life lessons are learned in the hustle and bustle of big family life: cooperation, sacrifice, conflict resolution, time management and sharing both joy and sorrow. Having five boys in eight years definitely has its moments of chaos, but the amount of love, fun and laughter it brings overrides everything else.
Athletics has always played a big role in our family. Chad and I were both successful collegiate athletes and the life lessons and experiences we gained through the opportunities of our sports (cross-country and track for me, wrestling for Chad) molded us into the adults we are today. All five of my boys are also very hard-working and active athletes. They have all competed at the elite national and collegiate levels in running for my oldest and in wrestling for my other four. Exercise, and sports in particular, naturally teach that hard work, perseverance and struggle are all important aspects of life. Pushing one’s body past what our mind thinks is its limit creates not only strength, but also relieves stress and builds confidence. Like being in a big family, sports also teaches the joy, struggle and reward of teamwork.
Has the pandemic changed the way you parent, beyond just the practical and logistical parts? Like most families, the pandemic had many challenging moments for my family. I had two boys in high school and two in college at the time, and they lost out on their education and so many important teen and early adulthood milestones that they can never get back. As a parent, I realized that I have to fight for my children’s rights because they didn’t have a voice on the decisions being made. Children of all ages paid the highest price during the pandemic.
What is something you swore you would never do before kids that you now do? (skip showers, go to a drive through coffee in your pjs, etc.)? Before becoming a mom, I swore I would not have my babies in bed with me. Within a
week of becoming a mom, I changed my tune and eventually had anywhere from one to four kids in bed with me on any given night! Some of my best early parenting moments were snuggling with my kids in bed. My advice to new parents on preconceived notions of the correct way to parent is to be flexible. Every family is different and has different needs, so do what is best for your family.
We know that being a mom is a full-time job. How do you balance (or not) motherhood, activities, work, volunteering, household responsibilities, and life in general? What sometimes falls through the cracks?
While I’ve always considered being a mom as my full-time job, I also realize that my other job and especially volunteering are important parts of my life and who I am. When my kids were in their early years of school, I loved volunteering in their classrooms. Getting to know a school and all of its staff and students is so important. My boys had amazing teachers and friends; it was so fun to watch my own kids and other children learn together and interact with each other.
As the boys grew older, I became a volunteer assistant cross-country coach, and I helped coach all of my boys in both middle school and high school cross-country. It felt like such a gift to be able to spend time with them while sharing my love of running. As a mom of boys, it can be hard to find common activities to do together and I’m so grateful for the years I was able to run with them.
What have you learned professionally that has helped you as a mom? I am not currently working, but I worked as an educational assistant in the Corvallis School District for six years. I loved my job, the students I worked with and the staff I now consider friends. Working in the schools made me a better mom because it opened my eyes to the spectrum of backgrounds and family life that students come from. So many kids have an uphill battle to be successful in school because they don’t have the love and support they need at home. This lesson helped me gain compassion and pass it on to my kids.
Tell us about your upbringing. How did it shape the mother you are today? I grew up in a small college town in South Dakota. My dad was a professor and my mom stayed at home to take care of all six of us kids. It was in the 1970s through the 80s, so it was a pretty simple way of life and very safe. I could bike or run anywhere as a child and it never occurred to me to be scared. What a gift that was!
I worked in some sort of job for almost as long as I can remember. My first job was helping my oldest brother deliver some of the papers on his newspaper route. I was probably only six years old. A couple years later, my other older brother and I took over a daily neighborhood paper route, so everyday after school we would come home and fold the papers while watching Tom and Jerry. Then, come sun, rain and mostly snow and wind, we headed outside to deliver each paper door-to-door. I think maybe that’s where my running career began because I used to run the entire route every day. I also babysat, walked beans for some local farmers and worked at my local grocery store. I had a happy childhood, but I also learned to work hard and save money for things I wanted. In high school, I had a very successful cross-country and track career, and I earned a scholarship to run in college.
I’m forever grateful to my parents, brothers and sisters because they have always supported me and have been my biggest fans since day one. I don’t think my parents ever missed a race. My whole family made me feel special and loved, and I couldn’t ask for
more from them. Both of my parents have passed, and my sisters and brothers are the backbone of our family now. I’m so grateful for their love, support and friendship. With the loss of my parents, my intrinsic desire for a large family has come full circle and makes complete sense.
What are three words your kids would use to describe you? Since they are all adults now, I thought I would ask them instead. Having five boys, I wasn’t really sure what they would come up with, and it was so fun to see their answers. I got all kinds of descriptions ranging from adventurous to genuine, headstrong to compassionate, but four adjectives found their way consistently in all their replies. In my children’s eyes, I am kind, loving, passionate and energetic. It makes me happy knowing that my kids see me much in the same way that I strive to be.
Name one thing that is part of your daily routine that you just can’t live without. I would probably say my trail-running, but to be honest, many years of motherhood has taught me that flexibility and finding joy are far more important than the stress of a daily routine. I have come to accept that I might not get to run for one, two or even seven days in a row, and I choose to be okay with that. I have learned that flexibility and joy are tightly entwined with each other. For me, running in the forest brings me joy. If I get too caught up in trying to do that every day, however, it then starts to become stressful and I lose the joy. Flexibility and balance are key for me to be the best mom, wife and human that I can be.
What keeps me up at night? Truthfully, I sleep a lot better these days now that my children
are older, but there are still nights when I worry about them. I try to trust in the job I’ve done raising my boys, but worrying comes with motherhood. I’ve had some tough lessons in letting my worries and fears get the best of me, but I have worked hard to overcome them the best that I can. My biggest example of this was back in 2005-06. We had just moved to Montana and I was far away from any family with five young boys. I happened to catch some news about a deadly bird flu virus that many scientists were saying could spread around the world and kill millions. I felt very vulnerable and powerless to protect my family. I think most people thought nothing of it, but I became worried and kept searching for more information. Well guess what, the more I searched, the more I found and none of it made me feel better. I saw maps where scientists were showing the route the virus would take as migratory birds flew across the continents. I listened to doctors and scientists talk about the death rate and lack of a cure. My anxiety and fear continued to grow, and it affected my sleep which affects every other aspect of life. I felt very alone. And then, as everyone now knows, nothing ever happened with the bird flu. All that fear, worrying and loss of sleep was for nothing. I decided right then that I would never let fear or worry take over again.
Who and what has influenced the mother you are today? Many things and people have influenced the mother I am today. Of course, my own parents were my first influence on how I approached motherhood. No parent is perfect, but I think most parents do the best they can with what they’ve been given. I have tried to take the good and apply it, and to learn and change from the mistakes that were made. Forgive the wrongs and be grateful for the rights.
My fellow mom friends have also taught me so much about being a mom and have always brought new ideas and insights into my parenting. The third biggest influence on my road of motherhood is a thing and not a who. My husband Chad’s chiropractic journey changed the way I looked at health and wellness. I learned alongside him about the body’s natural ability to heal itself in many circumstances. That knowledge empowered me as a mom to know that there are many choices in keeping my family healthy and strong.
If mom’s not happy, nobody’s happy.
What message would you like to share with other moms? Remember to tell it like it is. Enjoy your children’s company, listen intently to them and value their opinions and ideas. Just as importantly, however, encourage your children to challenge themselves and be adventurous. Let them make mistakes and then be accountable for their actions. Understand that struggle is necessary for growth and appreciation. Help them find and follow their passion and love them through it all!
We love locally owned businesses, restaurants, places and organizations. Share your favorite…
…shop to pick up a gift for friend: The Inkwell, The Book Bin
…coffee spot: Coffee Culture
…spot to get a good workout: The local forest and trails are my sanctuary. I’m in the forest most days of the week, usually running on the trails either by myself, with one of my kids or friends, or my dogs.
…restaurant to take the kids: New Morning Bakery, American Dream Pizza, Sugar J’s Ice Cream Workshop
…restaurants for a date night: Taco Vino, Block 15 Brewing, El Sol de Mexico
…event in your community: Farmers’ Market
You started out the school year thinking you’d do like those influencers with their adorable flower-shaped sandwiches and bento boxes…then real life set in.
Now as we near the end of the school year, your enthusiasm for packing school lunches has run as dry as that PB&J your kid keeps bringing home uneaten. Use these main course ideas to carry you to summer break. They can all be made the day before, are reasonably healthy and are easy on your budget.
Are you kidding? No one does this. At least, no one we know in real life. How would this even survive a backpack transport to school?
8 large flour tortillas
2 - 3 cups shredded chedder cheese
2 cans of black beans, rinsed and drained
1 tsp basil
1 tsp oregano
½ tsp salt
Put black beans in a microwave-safe container, then stir in basil, oregano and salt. Cover and microwave on high for two minutes, stopping midway to stir. Set aside.
Heat a pan on medium and coat with cooking spray. Place a tortilla in the pan, then immediately add ¼ cup black beans and about ⅓ cup shredded cheese to one side of the tortilla. Flip the tortilla closed and press with a spatula to make a seal as the cheese melts. Turn the quesadilla over to heat the other side. These cook quickly, and while it’s tempting to turn up the heat, don’t: it makes burn spots.
Repeat this process until all have been made. Use a pizza cutter to divide them into thirds, then refrigerate. If your child likes salsa, add a small side of it to their lunch box.
These leftovers taste great cold. Your groggy morning self will be glad if you set them aside the previous evening, in lunch containers that are ready to go.
• Grilled cheese sandwiches
• Spring rolls
• Roasted potatoes
• Chicken nuggets
• Yakisoba noodles
• Steak bites
Flour tortillas: try the sun-dried tomato basil ones for something different
Cheese slices of your choosing
Optional: pepper or other seasoning like Everything But the Bagel
Lay out a tortilla and spread with hummus. Layer the meat and cheese, then add lettuce. If your kid likes a little seasoning, shake it on.
Roll up the tortilla snug, then cut into 2-inch circles. Lay each pinwheel flat in a lunch container.
Cubed salami or summer sausage
Cheese sliced into squares
Dried mango or pear slices
Arrange each item into a divided container.
perfectly easy and delicious
2 Cups raw nuts (any combination of almonds, pecans, cashews)
2 tsp smoked paprika
3 Tbsp wheat-free tamari
Spread nuts in a single layer in a glass baking dish and bake at 350°F for 12-15 min. Remove from oven and sprinkle paprika and then tamari over nuts. Stir well and bake for 3 minutes more. Let cool, then transfer to an airtight container.
The flavor is much better when made in small batches. If you need more than 2 cups, prepare multiple small batches for best results.
Rubbermaid’s LunchBlox offer sturdy reusability. We like how they snap into their ice tray: no more jumbled up items that don’t get properly cooled.
Large dome pendant lights
Low divider sinks
Lux laundry rooms
Open kitchen shelving: too hard to keep tidy
Sad washed out greiges
Farmhouse everything, including sliding barn doors
Fluted wood accents on furniture and walls
Wall accents made with geometric trim
An echo of art deco
Always in: sustainability
Plants to help your indoor air quality
Reclaimed and upcycled everything
Training a new babysitter can be nerve-wracking, especially if you’re leaving your little ones in someone else’s care for the first time. But you deserve a night (or more) off, where you can eat dinner before it goes cold and no one uses you as a human napkin.
A little planning goes a long way to ease everyone’s minds when it comes to a new babysitter. A few tips... Clearly communicate your expectations, specific instructions and rules you have for your children, including bedtime routines, screen time preferences, household safety, etc. Providing a written list of instructions can be helpful, as it ensures that nothing is missed. Take some time to familiarize the babysitter with your home and any off-limits areas. I always take this opportunity to show the babysitter where the only-after-the-kidsgo-to-bed snacks are located.
Provide your sitter with your contact information and where you’ll be going. I always leave the basics: my number, the neighbor’s number and emergency contact information. And mom, remember to fully charge your phone and check it periodically, especially if it’s going to be a late night out.
Finally, consider the first time you’re working with a new babysitter as a trial run. I do this a few times to gauge their skills, trustworthiness and character. If it’s not a good fit, don’t hesitate to find a better care provider for your family. It’s important to trust your instincts and choose someone you feel comfortable with and confident in.
Training a new babysitter takes a bit of preparation and communication, but it’s worth it for the occasional childfree date night.
If you’re needing additional training assistance with a care provider, leave all the heavy lifting to our Direct Support Career Academy. We offer courses on a wide variety of support skills, specializing in positive, personcentered approaches to meet the needs of people with intellectual and/or developmental disabilities.
Brought to you by:
KIDS NW connects families with compassionate caregivers, specially trained in serving individuals with disabilities.
Ah yes, the dream of writing the great American novel. Few actually follow through with it and even fewer reach publication. But it didn’t stop these moms, and it shouldn’t stop you either, especially as self-publishing has busted through many barriers of old school publication.
But getting started and finding the time to write can be a challenge. You can’t let your toddler sit in a dirty pull-up while you pursue your big dreams. Still, there are ways to make it work. These local authors have advice for other moms who are just starting out.
I’ve always wanted to write a book. How do I start?
Dineen: As simple as it sounds, just sit down and write. Get your idea onto paper (or computer) without worrying about anything else.
Hart: Read Lisa Cron’s Story Genius: How to Use Brain Science to Go Beyond Outlining and Write a Riveting Novel. It’s a brilliant book that guides writers step-by-step to complete a manuscript. For memoir writers, pick up a copy of Regina Brooks’ excellent You Should Really Write a Book: How to Write, Sell and Market Your Memoir.
DeMocker: Start with an idea you’re passionate about. My book rattled around in my brain for three years until a coach suggested a format for ideas she’d heard me explore.
What if I don’t have the degree/training/ background to be a writer?
Dineen: So what? I didn’t get my degree in writing. I never thought I could be a writer, but one day the voices started talking and I let them. In fact, I did more than that, I took dictation. That was thirty-five books ago.
Hart: While it’s essential to have a solid knowledge of grammar and punctuation, you don’t need a master’s degree in creative writing to be a writer. You just need a great idea and a commitment to writing a book.
DeMocker: I’d planned to go for an MFA in writing once my kids were in school, but between the demands of parenting and the expense of an MFA, I instead designed my own slow, customized and affordable study. I signed up for conferences, retreats, local classes, contests and critique groups. I have no regrets — and no grad school debt.
How do you find time to write when you have small children?
Hart: If you write a page a day for 365 days, you’ve got yourself a novel. I’ve written in and outside of my daughter’s dance studio for a decade. I’ve written at playgrounds, early in the morning, late at night, during naptime…you can do so much work in 10 minutes.
Dineen: You write early in the morning, late at night, during naptime. The truth is you aren’t going to be as prolific when you’re taking care of young kids, but as they grow up and get into school, you’ll have more time. Everything in its season.
DeMocker: Sometimes I got more done with young kids than I did later with older kids, because I knew if I didn’t write in those small writing slots then I wouldn’t have another chance until the next babysitter, school day or solo weekend retreat. I wrote while kids were in childcare, at school and in the evenings after bedtime. I also signed up for writing retreats at Colonyhouse (in Rockaway Beach) which helped tremendously.
When I find a moment of time to write, my brain pulls me back to things I should be doing instead, like laundry. Help!
Hart: I feel two ways about housework and other mundane tasks. First, I do some of my best thinking about my writing when I’m scrubbing the toilet or cleaning the refrigerator, and I always keep a notebook nearby or dictate my thoughts into my phone. But if you’ve got a really limited time to write, allow the laundry to pile up a bit. Your creativity and mental health are vital, and what a wonderful gift to give your kids by showing them how you’re honoring your passion for storytelling! They’ll remember this passion long after they remember having to wear the same pair of socks two days in a row.
Dineen: I’m not one of those authors who enforces writing time. My goal is to hit three thousand words a day but if the muse isn’t cooperating I do something else. I find that when I’m in the groove, I couldn’t care less about the laundry.
DeMocker: Get out of the house! And get a deadline. Deadlines tend to scare laundry into submission. I wrote in bookstores and coffee shops, often with other writers who also had kids.
Okay, I wrote something but I need help making it better. How and where do I go for that?
Hart: There are a couple of different ways to get feedback on your writing. You can join a writing organization such as Willamette Writers, Wordcrafters in Eugene or the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators and ask for help finding a writing group; in this type of group, you’ll read and comment on other writers’ works, and they’ll read and comment on yours. Or you can hire a professional editor.
Dineen: Join critique groups. Facebook is full of groups for all genres of authors. These are great places to meet other people who are in the same boat as you.
DeMocker: Don’t overlook friends, family, and neighbors. I had an informal “team” of people who offered to read my drafts, and then consistently gave good feedback. It’s a gift when people take that kind of time.
I finished it! Now what?
DeMocker: If you have thumbs up from readers you trust, including yourself, look
Will anyone care about what I’ve written? What if I’m no good?
Hart: Someone’s always going to care about what you’ve written. At the very least, your kids will care. My mother was a journalist and an author, and I treasure her short stories and articles. Also, who gets to determine what’s “good?” Sometimes, I’ll try to read a bestselling novel, and I’ll give up because it doesn’t resonate with me. Everyone — readers, editors, literary agents — has vastly different tastes in storytelling. If you work hard and hone your craft, you’ll find an audience that appreciates your work.
Dineen: If you’re like me, you’re writing a book because you have a story to tell. Don’t censor yourself while you’re doing it. There will always be critics, but if you believe in your story, and are willing to take the necessary steps, you will find your audience.
DeMocker: People care about stories that move them in some way. Work on expressing yourself authentically. Work on the craft of scene writing and dialogue. Learn how to research. Read a lot of great writing. Writing is a life-long practice, and you will get better
for an agent or contest (but don’t pay for either). If your book is nonfiction, write a book proposal, not the whole book. If it’s a novel, memoir, or picture book, write the whole thing before pitching agents or editors.
Hart: You can opt to publish independently, you can find a literary agent who will work to sell your finished manuscript, or you can shop it around to the editors of small and mid-sized literary publishers by yourself. There are so many ways to publish your work these days. You can also opt to work with a hybrid publisher such as Eugene’s Luminare Press; they offer copy editing, assistance with format and book cover, marketing, etc.
Dineen: It’s time to hire an editor! Whether you’re looking for a traditional publishing house or you’re going to self-publish, readers want to read a book free of errors. Your book should be developmentally as well as grammatically sound.
by working at it. It’s key to truly listen when trusted readers give you the gift of their honest, thoughtful feedback.
I need an illustrator. How do I find one?
Hart: If you’re publishing traditionally, your team will match you with an illustrator. If you’re publishing independently, you might browse illustrator portfolios at a site like Upwork.com or Fiverr.com and hire someone from there. Word of mouth and social media inquiries work well, and if there’s an illustrator whose work you adore, you can always contact them and ask for recommendations.
DeMocker: Your publisher will usually find your illustrator, though people also collaborate with friends. I invited my niece to illustrate four pages of my book, and it was an enjoyable challenge for both of us.
“Don’t censor yourself while you’re writing. There will always be critics, but if you believe in your story...you will find your audience.”
I’m ready to publish! Uh, how do I do that, exactly?
Dineen: It depends if you want to self-publish or traditionally publish. Many people think that traditional publishing is the way to go and that you’ll make more money. That has not been my experience. Traditional publishers no longer give new authors big advertising budgets. In fact, they expect the author to do their own advertising. Additionally, advances are not what they used to be. Five thousand dollars tends to be standard for newbies and middle list authors alike. That money goes fast, especially as you have to wait months/years before your book is actually published and royalties roll in, if they roll in . By self-publishing, I control how quickly my books come out, on what channels they’re released and who I market them to. The bottom line is that 99% of the time there’s no money in one book. So for me, the faster I release, the bigger the payout.
DeMocker: Take a class, attend a conference, hire a coach. For the traditional publishing route, most writers pitch an agent with either the first 50 pages of a novel/memoir or with a nonfiction book proposal. Some writers directly pitch editors at publishing houses. Others self-publish.
I did it! I published my book online and now the money will rain down upon me, right? When do I get an agent who gets me a Hollywood script deal?
DeMocker: This happens sometimes to hardworking, lucky authors with books that resonate with readers. Usually, though, selfpublished books are hard for audiences to find because there are so many of them. Most writers don’t earn money from books, so it’s important to enter into a book project with clarity about why you’re doing it. If you need money, you’ll find more efficient, reliable ways of earning (like getting a job). If, however, you’re in love with a story or passionate about an issue, and a book is the best way to share it with the world, it may be a wise choice — as long as you’re not relying on it for income.
Hart: It’s vital to start marketing your book six months to a year before it’s published. Think about your ideal audience and how best to reach them. Do they listen to podcasts? Read blogs? Attend regular events?
A year before my newest middle-grade novel Daisy Woodworm Changes the World came out, I put a media kit up on my website.
Because one of my main characters has Down syndrome, based on my brother, I reached out to hundreds of people connected with this particular demographic, from podcasters and magazine editors, to social media influencers and the directors of nonprofits. I’ve done numerous interviews and school and library visits related to the book because of all of my outreach well before it ever went to print.
Dineen: If you’re going into writing for insta-fame, your chances of that happening are akin to winning the lottery. Before publishing the book, I would recommend taking advertising courses online because no matter how you publish, you need to know how to find your audience. And you have to pay to do that through ads. Facebook, Amazon, and Instagram are where most of us find our readers. Join groups and build your tribe. Engage with bookstagrammers and booktockers. Start a website and consider blogging to help build your readership. Start a newsletter. I didn’t get movie studio interest until my fourth romantic comedy. Then I got a lot. And while that was very exciting, no movie has been made yet.
Hart: First, decide whether your story will educate people, inspire them, entertain them, or all three. Once you’ve identified how it will be of service to readers, this frees you up to start boldly promoting your work. Use social media. If you’re good with witty one-liners, use Twitter and Facebook. If you’re great on camera, use TikTok and Instagram stories. Ask if you can do
readings and workshops at your local library, nonprofits, bookstores, etc. Attend writing conferences, remote and in-person, and talk up your book and learn about other people’s books, as well. Write short articles and personal essays related to the themes/ topics in your book, and publish them in newspapers and magazines. I love helping authors to create and execute a marketing plan!
Dineen: Most people think their friends and family are going to be their biggest advocates, and all they have to do is write the book and everyone who knows them will buy it. Yes, there will be people excited for you, and yes they may order a book or two, but the long-term promotion is down to you. You need to learn how to place ads and be prepared to spend money to do so. It can be frustrating and there’s a lot of trial and error, but it’s the process. People can’t buy your book if they don’t know about it.
DeMocker: Six months before publication, start researching publications, media outlets and organizations that might appreciate your message or story. Make a clear marketing plan and reserve time weekly to follow through on it. The book’s audience will grow the more you engage your target audience with a great story or with solutions they need.
Hart: Own your stories. Yes, the writer’s life can be difficult; there’s a lot of rejection, a lot of anxiety. But when you’re deep in the midst of creating fiction or nonfiction, none of that matters. Your story is important; it
deserves to be told. Find a support group in person or online — people who can relate to the complicated emotions that emerge when you set out to write, people who cheer you on and bring you cookies when you’ve experienced a setback. I love what the people at A Very Important Meeting are doing; you can sign up for an hour-long online session with other writers from around the world. It’s a wonderful way to meet people at all stages of their writing careers, from authors with several books to absolute beginners.
DeMocker: Be curious and playful in your writing. Hang out with other writers. Read voraciously.
Dineen: All of this may sound a bit overwhelming. It’s not my intention to dissuade you from your dreams by making publishing sound like an insurmountable task. But like anything, it’s a lot of hard work and a steep learning curve. Don’t expect to learn everything all at once. Day by day, step by step and you’ll eventually get there. The most important thing is to have fun with your writing. That’s the part of this whole thing that makes the tough stuff worth doing.
Melissa Hart is the author of Avenging the Owl, Daisy Woodworm Changes the World, as well as Better with Books: 500 Diverse Books to Ignite Empathy and Encourage Self-Acceptance in Tweens and Teens. She lives in Eugene with her husband and teen daughter.
Mary DeMocker is the author of The Parents’ Guide to Climate Revolution: 100 Ways to Build a Fossil-Free Future, Raise Empowered Kids, and Still Get a Good Night’s Sleep. She lives in Eugene with her daughter and partner.
Whitney Dineen has published over 35 novels, the most recent as part of the Seven Brides for Seven Mothers series. She lives in Albany with her two daughters, husband and goldendoodle.
intervention to support youth who’ve expereinced trauma and disruption – to give them the safety and consistency they deserve.
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The day you get your braces off is a right of passage for many. If you ask anyone who has worn traditional braces what they most look forward to after getting them removed, it’s usually the caramel corn, taffy and all the sticky foods they missed. Before you celebrate with a trip to the candy aisle, be patient: teeth can be sensitive after having braces removed. Braces apply force, and once it’s gone, the feeling can be odd or sore. Ibuprofen taken as directed can help. Teens who want to use whitening products should hold off for a while, until all the sensitivity is gone. Gum puffiness is to be expected, and it may take up to several months to fully go away.
Teeth can shift after braces — actually, our teeth are always shifting throughout our lives. We fit our patients with new retainers after braces, and wearing them will likely be a life-long commitment. Retainers hold teeth in place so make sure your child is using that retainer as prescribed. And I wouldn’t be an orthodontist and a dad if I didn’t remind you to protect those smiles with solid home hygiene and regular dental cleanings and checkups.
Combine the reproductive passions of flowers and fungi along with some human immunoglobulin, mast cells and histamines, and you have a recipe for pesky allergies.
Seasonal rhinitis, also called hay fever, is an allergic reaction to pollen from trees, grasses, and weeds. One of the most obvious symptoms in spring: red, itchy eyes. Tempting as it is for kids (and adults) to want to rub them, don’t: it can cause real damage and only makes matters worse.
It’s much better to address the issue at its source. When the nice weather arrives, close windows to help keep out allergens and use recirculating fans or air-conditioners instead. Showering and washing hair at night reduces the chance of prolonged concentrated exposure to pollen while sleeping.
While you’re outside, wearing glasses or sunglasses can act as a barrier and lessen the chance of pollen contacting your eyes. Contact lens wearers can be disproportionately affected by allergies, even established and successful wearers, so limiting wear time or switching to a daily disposable contact lens might be in order.
A number of over-the-counter antihistamine eye drops are effective for eye allergy relief. Pataday is approved for ages 2 and up. Cold compresses over closed eyes can also be comforting. Need some help in how to administer eye drops to your child? Ask us to show you how at their next eye exam!Michelle Lee, OD eyecareassociates.net
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“The child is both a hope and promise for mankind.”
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One of the most commonly asked questions in pediatric dentistry is, “Am I going to get a shot?” A trip to the dentist for a filling or other procedure conjures up all kinds of anxiety and emotional responses in children.
Not any more: lasers are revolutionizing the way dentistry is being delivered. Our Solea Laser uses light to both anesthetize and vaporize cavities, which can then be filled. With this technology, no numbing shots are needed, and the noise and vibration of a traditional handpiece is a thing of the past. This is especially helpful for kids with sensory issues.
Laser dentistry makes appointments more pleasant and less time-consuming, and children can return to school after appointments without the worry they might bite their cheek or tongue. It also allows us to do more treatments in a single appointment, which means less visits overall.
Ask your pediatric dentist if your child is a good candidate for laser fillings and procedures. If you would like to know more, please contact my office or go to Ilovesolea.com.
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Sourdough bread, yes please. Beer, yup. Funky dog ears…my favorite! Well, I don’t love dogs having uncomfortable ear infections, but I do find it fulfilling to help them feel better.
Ear infections, hot spots, itchy skin, licky toes, you name it, they almost always stem from allergies. Though they show up in slightly different ways, it all comes down to a breakdown and subsequent infection at the organ system stretched over our four-legged friends, the integumentary system, a.k.a. The Skin. It’s where bugs like to party.
The yeast party — and bacteria like to invite themselves — starts with some sort of protein exposure that the body overreacts to (an allergic reaction) showing up as redness, puffiness, itch, etc. Microscopically, there are changes to the natural defenses in pH, oils, etc. which then opens them up to the afterparty of infection. That’s usually when things get funky, with yeasty smells, discomfort and gunky discharge. The steps for treatment usually involve testing to see what bug is in there (yeast vs. bacteria), treating that specific bug, and then going on a hunt for the underlying allergy. The list of usual suspects is quite short: fleas, food or environment. The process of elimination takes time, but with your vet’s help, there are effective, long-term ways to keep your pet comfortable…and break up the yeasty beasty party.
Samaritan’s pediatric clinics in the mid-Willamette Valley and central Oregon Coast offer comprehensive health care focused on the unique needs of each child and family. Our pediatricians take the time to get to know your child and listen to your concerns.
Whether your child needs a wellness visit to ensure optimal growth and development, vaccination, sports physical, care for illness or injury or behavioral health support, we’re with you every step of the way. samhealth.org/Pediatrics