Saturday, July 30, 2016

Haiku for Sleeping

Oh, good. Time to sleep
So I wait, my eyelids weigh
Hoping soon to dream


I wait, sleep teases
Plays it cool, takes its time now
Not one to rush in, it taunts


The clock gets louder
Cars pass outside decide to, too
Night turns up volume


1a.m. is when
Tomorrow's to-do list knocks
Thinks its turn has come


Look up to see 4
Leaves me with 2 more hours
of wishing for sleep

* *

Eyes open to voice
Memory of dream, keys lost
Sleep indeed did call


Wednesday, July 27, 2016

You Know What I Miss From All of You? Wordless Wednesdays

(who am i trying to kid. i can't do worldless. it's summer and my kids are all home!)

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Sunday, July 24, 2016




We feel it all, it's one of the reasons that we are writers.

To learn how to be with all the people in the world that we live with means we enter into their world with them. 

We enter through compassion, empathy, walking along and listening to their stories and being witness to life within their communities.

We read, we feel, we see them step through their suffering.

We can't reject some of it, and then only take on this or that on. By being there for their experience is to be a new person for them. Someone who believes in what they tell us that life is like for them.

We need to stay informed, we need to be here for our world.

But some can read, nod sadly for a few minutes, then continue on to the next story. And others, they stay, immersed in the sorrow and struggle and inequality, tragedy, injustice that falls upon others.

We write, we feel the words on our shoulders, and the pictures that others' eyes glance through, become someone's story to us.

To look into these other worlds means we need to monitor our intake. Before we let our only source of input be of horror and inhumanity, we need to seek out more than one window into the world.

Step away and breathe, guard your energy and replenish your oxygen, do it through sleep, rest, art, music, and the decision to not forget to not forget yourself.

And then come back, able to share life together, again.


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Thursday, July 21, 2016

Here's Where You Can Help

If you believe in America and you believe in justice, diversity and love for humanity, here's where you can put your words into action.

Work to make sure our president on Nov. 8th is one that is for everyone. Our country cannot take on any more bigotry and divisiveness.

I'mWithHer campaign volunteer signup

And, of course, vote, vote. Vote.


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Monday, July 18, 2016

Love Stories? Listen To Your Mother Milwaukee Videos Are Up!

This past May,  LISTEN TO YOUR MOTHER Milwaukee held its 4th annual LTYM show at Alverno College’s Pitman Theatre. Our 11 local storytellers came together, from once entering as strangers on a morning of auditions, to a cast whose stories could not have been more seamless had we written them together.

Every year, LTYM MKE stands back amazed at how our cast’s stories flow from one to the next. It astounds, still, after almost five years of bringing LTYM to Milwaukee. Milwaukee is 1 of 41 cities hosting a LISTEN TO YOUR MOTHER show, and we get chills when we think how in 41 other cities, this same magical bond happens.

We are proud to share the 2016 LISTEN TO YOUR MOTHER videos, which are now live on LTYM’s YouTube channel. We’ll be sharing individual videos this week on our FB page. We are grateful to our video sponsor local sponsor Orphonic Multimedia. LISTEN TO YOUR MOTHER Milwaukee also wishes to thank North American sponsors SheKnows BlogHer ‪#‎BlogHer16‬, Luvs, local media sponsor metroparent magazine, and local sponsor SHOP. *A portion of our ticket sales benefited The Parenting Network, a truly special organization. We were proud to partner with them.

Given the current events, the necessity of hearing each others’ stories has never been more glaring. To step into people's lives is the only way to unite through the lens of community. We are each valuable and we need to see each other that way to realize that.

We are so proud of the LTYM MKE 2016 cast, for their sharing of self, their lives, their words, and their commitment to building bridges and coming together in our community.

You can watch our LISTEN TO YOUR MOTHER Milwaukee videos here.

Remember loving being read to as a child? You can capture that same wondrous feeling for yourself again, by listening to Listen To Your Mother stories as you walk, run, sit, drive, take a few minutes for you.

From first auditions to two rehearsals to final show day, because of support, love, and the belief that we each held for each other, our cast shines. That’s the power in being given the opportunity to be heard and seen.

We wish this for everyone, and we believe this is what the world needs: to be seen and heard.

Milwaukee thanks you, dear LISTEN TO YOUR MOTHER 2016 cast. You are amazing.

Jennifer Gaskell
Rochelle Fritsch
Alexandra Rosas
Listen To Your Mother/Milwaukee

Saturday, July 16, 2016

What You Need To Know About Pokemon GO : Take It From a 14-Year-Old

"Tell your mom friends to replace the word click with tap. It'll make more sense. Tell them the game doesn't really start until Level 5 so you have to put your time in.”

You know what, kids? You need to write this Pokémon GO post because I only know how to point and scream “I see Rattata!” Please, have at it, children, let's tell these grown ups how they can impress the bejeebies out of any kids they know with this list from you.

Buckle your brains, adults, because Pokémon GO is a whole new reality:
How To Know More About Pokemon GO Than You Ever Wanted To:

The most important tip even if you don't want to: play in maps mode, not AR. You will save battery life and your Pokemon will be easier to catch in maps.  

CP is Combat Power. When you go capture a gym, Pokemon with the higher CP will be better at taking and holding the gym.

PokeStops are places in the game that are in real life where you can collect new items to help you win the game. Poke Stops are where you collect Poke Balls. To get them, you spin the blue icon and tap the poke balls to keep them.

Gym: special spot where you can battle other players' Pokemon and claim the area for your particular team.

Team: Team is one of 3 different colored teams you can join and capture gyms for. Basically, they represent the 3 primary colors as red, blue, and yellow.

If you hold a gym for long enough, you can earn PokeCoins that you can use to buy items.

Poke Ball: From Poke Stops. Need a poke ball to catch a Pokemon.

Incense: It attracts pokemon to your player's position in the world.

If the screen freezes, like locks after a throw, you sometimes have to reset the app. Wait until your poke ball stops spinning before you reset the app or you'll lose the pokemon you're trying to catch.

Pokemon change by day and night, so go for walks at different times of the day.

Walking hatches your eggs so always walk. And when you walk a lot you get rewarded with surprise Pokemon. You need to keep your app on.

Lure Module: Lure Modules can be placed at PokeStops and this will attract Pokemon to that stop. Good strategy to use this in combination with incense to lure Pokemon to increase the amount of Pokemon that appear on your journey. You will occasionally get these when you level up.

The level is to indicate your progress in the game. It increases by evolving, catching or battling pokemon.

Evolving: when you use a certain item referred to as candy to upgrade your pokemon to a new form.

You can get candy by catching duplicates of the same Pokémon and transferring them to Professor Willow. (How do you do that? When you click on the Pokémon and scroll down there will be a transfer button. And here's another tip, always transfer your lowest CP Pokémon first to evolve.)

You always get stardust when you capture a Pokémon. It's like candy. That's why it's always a good idea to catch multiples of the same one. Use your Stardust with usually one or two candies to increase the CP of your Pokémon.

At Level 5 you get to pick your team. It will show you all 3 teams, introduce you, when you click on a gym for the first time.

You can only reach gyms at level 5.

You know where gyms are when you look at your map: they are a tower with a Pokemon on top.

Pokestops are indicated as floating blue cubes that expand into a Pokeball symbol when you are near enough to collect the items there.

Once you collect the items you are no longer able to collect them from that spot for at least 5 minutes. Then it refreshes and you can collect your items again.

There are over 150 Pokemon to collect. It's always a good idea to go adventure in areas that have a large amount of Pokestops so you don't run out of Pokeballs to catch Pokemon with. See all 151 Pokémon here, ranked.

If you run out of Pokeballs you cannot catch any more Pokemon until you get to a stop or you can buy them.

Don't waste too many Pokeballs on one Pokemon.

Contrary to popular belief, you cannot click on the pokeball to pick it back up again after throwing them. Once you throw them they are gone.

Power up your Pokemon before you evolve them. It's much easier at this early stage.

Power Up: increase their CP level. You power them up by feeding them candy and it's an option on the menu just like evolution.

Power up is not evolution. Powering up gets stronger but it does not change its form. Evolution is better but you want to power them up first .

You can transfer your Pokemon which is another option on the menu which will free up a space for a new Pokemon and also give you one extra piece of candy that you can use toward leveling up or evolving your Pokemon of the same type.

On the bottom right corner of the main screen is a menu that shows how close certain pokemon are. 3 steps is further, while 1 step is much closer.

Sometimes you will get an egg from a pokestop after being carried for a certain distance (either 2 or 5 or 10 Kilometers), the egg will hatch into a pokemon. In order to hatch the eggs, they must be first placed into an incubator. You can do this by opening up the main menu and clicking on the pokemon option. Then, tap the “eggs” tab. Tap on the egg you want to hatch, and a menu for the egg will open up. Tap the “incubate” option, and your egg will be ready for travel.

Tell your kids that this is a good start to starting to play Pokémon GO. The rest comes from talking to friends and sharing tips when you see someone playing, because there are no directions for this game. That's why people are talking.


You can tell by the sound of this post, that I and my little eggs have evolved into PokeFolk. It's easy because man oh man, but I welcome the opportunity that Pokémon GO has given me to walk and talk with my kids. Catching some Pokémon along the way is a groovy thing, too, as much as being together.

Pokémon GO is a lot of fun for us, and there are instant rewards which makes it super addicting like a well-timed slot machine. Stick with it long enough and the sole purpose in waking up becomes catching Pokemon. Especially with intermittent rewards of rare Pokémon (my college Psych 101 class was right: it's the intermittent that grips your soul). All said, we've walked together in the early morning and late night enough in the last couple of days that my calves ache.

But the weirdest part about Pokémon GO is this: where did all these people spilling out onto the streets come from? Were we all just sitting inside?

There is only one way to learn, and that's by doing it. It's easier to start than it sounds so GO, get out there and Pokémon GO with your kids. It gives you something shared to strategize and the feeling of being there when they catch a Pikachu is priceless. Pika Pika.

*Rare Pikachu sighting! (oh yes we did): Chocolate Factory, 7/16/16 10 p.m., Cedarburg, Wisconsin

**PokeParent Tip: leave them wide-eyed with their crocs knocked off by dropping this bomb on 'em: "Why don't you use your Stardust with two candies to increase the CP of your Pokémon?"

Say whut, mom????

Oh, and plural of Pokémon -- is Pokémon.


* * *

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

When They Crave People, and You Crave Solitude

Growing up in a house of  nine people, I had one wish. As a child, there were a thousand wants, to be sure, but there was just the one wish: to be alone.

I craved the stillness of no voices, the room to breathe without interaction. I didn't want it 24 hours at a time, but I intuitively knew I needed this state of being at least a few times in my day. Otherwise, life felt like one of those birthday parties that went on too long.

Life among voices and engagement left me spent.

I'm still that way, my children, however, seek out company.

How do I parent when my children and I need opposite things and we share a home? I explore that with my newest post up on Mom Babble, Parenting When You're an Introvert.

I hope you'll click over and maybe we can share my favorite type of company, the kind that understands each other through the silence.


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Sunday, July 10, 2016

Because We Need to Do Better

Why is There So Much Hate in the World?

Ten Ways to Fight Hate: A Community Response Guide

Complicit No More: How We Heal America's Racism Wounds

How To Overcome The Legacy of Racism

10 Steps Toward Bridging Our Painful Racial Divide

10 Simple Ways To Step Up To Fight Everyday Racism

3 Ways To Become Proactive Against Racists and Racism

I've listed 7 sites for you to visit, and 7 sites where you will learn.

Spend the 7 days in this week with just 7 minutes finding out more and implementing what you discover to help heal our nation. We need to promise to do something to bring our people together so that all are safe, and all are included in the opportunity and equality that America has promised.

You begin this Monday, with me, and we'll spend the rest of the days this week, doing the work that we as human beings must do for each other.

7 days, 7 worthwhile places where you will step back into the world doing your part to encourage, teach, inspire, spread hope, and put into practice being a better human being.

Begin today, share these sites, talk about what you read together.

I'll see you back here in 7 days.

I can't wait to hear how we are no longer going to just shake our heads. We are going to work to do things right.

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Thursday, July 7, 2016

BlogHer16 and The Voices of The Year

Today the #BlogHer16 Voices of the Year honorees were announced. It’s BlogHer's ninth year producing the Voices of the Year, also known as VOTY, and the VOTY readings and award presentations are the annual event that are the crown of the BlogHer conference.

This year the #BlogHer16 Community Keynote will be brought to you by Merck for Mothers and held on Friday, August 5, at 4 p.m, Los Angeles.

I am honored, and thrilled, to have been selected by the BlogHer and SheKnows Media judges as a 2016 Voices of The Year Honoree in the Merck for Mothers' Category, MOMents.

Thank you, and thank you to BlogHer for the care and the opportunity of chance, of being able to submit our writing to be considered.

Thank you so much, and I'll see you in Los Angeles!

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Monday, July 4, 2016

For 28 Years: The Reading of The Declaration of Independence

And now we will celebrate Independence Day, as we do every year at MORNING EDITION, with our reading of the Declaration of Independence.

22 years ago, I first heard NPR's Morning Edition's staff read aloud Thomas Jefferson's draft of The Declaration of Independence. I had read it before, in grade school, but had never had it read to me.

NPR has read The Declaration of Independence aloud on the 4th of July for 28 years now. It takes on depth and meaning when you have no words in front of you for you to filter through. Instead your heart takes in the passion and the confidence of those striking out with what they felt was right: a new union.

What the states pledge to each other is something we need to remember in this year of 2016.

Give it a listen, have your family with you, it will take residence in all your actions as you set out today on this 4th of July.

NPR Annual Reading of The Declaration of Independence

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Friday, July 1, 2016

Pictured, #NotPictured

Linking up with Ann Imig of the world-famous blog, Ann's Rants, for a satisfying old school blog hop.
Pictured #NotPictured: where we share the stories behind the photos we post. Play along and link to Ann's blog for a chance to be true-life and share what sometimes can feel pretty isolating: like we're the only ones with moments that leave us wanting to stand in front of our homes and scream because we can't take one more minute. So go ahead and scream, but follow up with your perfection posted on Instagram, Facebook and twitter. 

Hitting a farmers market on a welcome spring morning after months of winter. Sunday morning pose in front of the state capital while visiting our first son in college.
His words behind a gritted smile, "Can we just do this so I can get back home and take a nap."
Father walking alongside his oldest son on a nature path while mom snaps a photo from behind, capturing the moment between generations.
Two alpha males GPS-wrestling on the quickest way to finish walking the trail for the best shortcut back to the apartment. 
Two parents, two children.
Third child born to mother. The one who clearly declined being included in this celebratory college admission photo, even while being the reason for the photo of rejoicing. 
Mother grinning madly at her chance to pose with UW Madison Marching Band.
Family that has disappeared into the crowd due to crushing weight of embarrassment at mother's glee to pose with member of UW Madison Marching Band.
Everybody smile! Happy high school graduation day, child!
Mother and father with mouths wide just an hour and a half before, both talking loudly though the teen would call it yelling and he would be accurate, about the best way to handle the teen realizing he forgot to ask off of work for his graduation day. "But I can't miss work!" "You're gonna miss work." "But I can't find anyone in one hour!" "This is your graduation. That is a part time job. Get on that phone and find someone to work for you!" (Thanks for working for us, Pat!)
Link up with Ann's Rants and give us your Pictured, #NotPictured beauty !


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