Wendy Knuth Author of Moore Zombies, blogging about the human experience.

Tag Archives: #amblogging

Thanksgiving – My Family’s Tradition of “Boo”

I blogged a pinch about this last year, but this is a much more in depth blog about the boo subject.  Here goes:

Every time I see a contest for a Thanksgiving story, I think of my grandmother who has long since passed away.  My family has an interesting tradition that stems from a Thanksgiving dinner many, many years ago.  We say “boo” after a good meal.  A good meal means that someone actually put some effort into cooking.  One might say “boo” after a meal they did not enjoy in a show of respect for the chef, however, one would certainly not say “boo” after a fast food meal.  Back in the day, there was no such thing as fast food as far as today’s meaning of the phrase.

The tradition started before I was born.  I have heard the origination story so many times that I feel as if I were there.  I was not.  Now that I think about, I have only ever heard the story from my mother’s perspective.  Yet, I was there for meals with my grandmother and family when we all said “boo” afterwards.  Only now do I wish I had heard perhaps a truer, closer to the source version from my grandmother’s own mouth.

I wrote a wonderful piece on the subject from my grandmother’s point of view.  Envision the daily life of a young mother in the 1950’s and all the differences between then and now, and all the similarities between then and now.  I can picture my mother as a young child at the time, who could not even fathom her own grandchildren as she knows them today who live to carry on this tradition, much in the same way that my children can’t hardly imagine their own children yet to come, let alone grandchildren who perhaps will say “boo” one day after a home cooked meal, maybe a Thanksgiving meal.

As I introduce you to the slightly more dramatic version of this tale, I hope you think of your family’s past, present, and future, and revel in your own family traditions!  Happy Thanksgiving and enjoy. . .

 

Listen To What I Hear

Pay attention.  Listen to what I hear.  I took pride in my craft.  I slaved all day with no help, no offers of help.  I expressed my affection through my work.  My loved ones gathered around, and took part in this, the most intimate of family traditions, a holiday known most for family gatherings and for a day of thanks.  No compliments were heard, no thanks, no giving on anyone’s part but mine.  I was waiting, just waiting for even the smallest something.

As the last family member left the table, save for myself, I knew it wasn’t going to happen. I was ired by their rudeness.  I heard a voice coming from myself expressing in a disappointed and loud voice the same words I was feeling: “I worked hard all day for this fine meal before you and no one even said boo!”

My family was just as shocked by my reaction as I was by their non-reaction.  The children eyed each other, eyed me, and then eyed their father nervously.  My husband, at first, looked surprised.  His perplexed expression relaxed, and slowly turned to adorement.  A faint smile slowly crept upon his face.  He then said “boo” in the nicest, most loving way.  My children giggled in the moment and also said “boo”, each in turn.

It was the smallest something.  But really it was greater than that.  From resentment and compassion was born this family tradition:  A gift of folklore to the family, from the family, for the family.  My legacy?  Perhaps.  I am no longer here, and yet, this old soul lives on. Boo. It is what you would expect this old ghost to say, but it is what I hear.

Wendy Knuth, author of Moore Zombies picture books and chapter books.  MooreZombies.com

The Wonderful World of English

I thought I knew English.  It is my first language.  I speak some Spanish and have learned those rules are much easier than English.  English has iffy rules.

You might be able to start a sentence with “and”.  But, starting a sentence with “but” is iffy.  But we speak like that all the time.   Do you walk towards the tree or do you walk toward the tree?  It depends on which country you live in or rather, which country one’s writing is intended for.  One can often tell the origin of one’s writing if there is “our” instead of “or”, such as colour and color.  Then there is theater and theatre.  In the United States of America, however, we use both.  You can go traveling in the United States.  However, you go travelling outside of the U.S.  Note how I underlined those words for emphasis.

In my Moore Zombies: Zombie World book, I have a couple of attractions inside the park.  (Incomplete Sentence Alert.)  For instance Creepy Show and the Become a Zombie areas.  I looked up rules for names and a long list of things to be italicized or emphasized.  Was there an attraction on the list?   Nope.  I also bring up the fact that Frankenstein is the name of the scientist in the book Frankenstein, (underline book names) and not the name of the monster.  Same problem.  In bringing attention to the name itself, do I refer to it as Frankenstein, “Frankenstein” or Frankenstein?  I decided one way, then the other, then back again.  I found I had caps in one area, italics in another section of the book and quotes in other areas.  How confusing.  Change it all to “just normal” I finally decided.  I think.  I could be wrong.  Read the book.  (Pluggy, pluggy.)

One thing that I have recently learned is one is supposed to put a comma after an introductory hello.  Hello, Sir or Maam.  Why the pause?  I have been writing letters all of my life with “Hello Jane”, not “Hello, Jane”.  I’m going to have to attend counseling sessions now.   Speaking of pauses. . .  Suddenly, the black cat jumped in front of me.  If it was suddenly then there shouldn’t be a pause!

Did you know there is a difference between onto and on to?  If you walk on to the next attraction, you are going there.  If you walk onto the next attraction, that would be incorrect because you are not really “on” the attraction.  What about off of?  I hear it all the time.  She jumped off of the table.  I discovered a great argument against this practice.  One wouldn’t say on of, therefore you can’t use off of.  Now it becomes:  She jumped off the table.

Now that on and off are easily understood, I would like to tell you about a confusing conversation my husband and I once had about the alarm.  Is the alarm set?  Yes it is on.  Does that mean the alarm is sounding?  No, if the alarm were sounding, then it would be going off.  So the alarm is off if it is not set to on, or you have turned the noise off.  If the alarm is on, it is not really on, it is only set to alarm.  Try explaining that to someone who is learning English.

If you think I have mastered the language, reread this blog to find that I use quotes here, italics there and underlines elsewhere.  Sometimes you just have to go with your gut.  Luckily, that is often not entirely incorrect in the wonderful world of English.

Wendy Knuth, author of Moore Zombies picture and chapter books

Moore Zombies Picture Books Are For All Ages!!

Moore Zombies CoverGimme Noodle Front Cover

Why Placing An Age Range On Picture Books Doesn’t Quite Make Sense

Hello all.  And I mean all!  I don’t care what your age is in the human spectrum of life.  If you are reading to and with children, then a specified age range for a book implies limitations that just shouldn’t be.  This is why I HATE placing an age range on my Moore Zombies books.  Plug, plug.

I am a strong believer in early reading.  When my children were young, I read to them early and often.  Yes, you may enjoy the words and the pictures, but don’t forget about cuddling, bonding, learning, teaching, feeling proud, giggling, etc.  This can be between adult and child, between older child and younger child, or even between children of the same age.  Everyone has fun.

You can’t tell me that a toddler doesn’t read.  Maybe they can’t interpret the letters, but they are certainly taking it all in.  In a way, isn’t that reading?  Don’t we read situations?  Don’t we read people’s emotions?  There is no lettering involved there.

My mom has a story about how proud my brother’s babysitter was about teaching him to read a Dr. Seuss book.  After she left, my brother read the whole book out loud, over and over, without the book.  My mom didn’t have the heart to tell the babysitter.  Somewhere, I have footage of my young son reading a book that was upside down.  However, he had all of the words memorized, and I mean correctly for each page.  I’ve seen online footage of other young kids reading an upside down book.  How cute!!  This is definitely a form of early reading.

As an author, I enjoy placing things in my picture books (meaning wording and pictures) for adults and children, because I know they will be read by both.  So how can I classify my picture books as being intended for ages 3-5 or 4-8 when in reality they are for ages baby to senior.  The years pass quickly, so grab a picture book and read to, or with your kids.  I highly recommend Moore Zombies!

Wendy Knuth, Author of Moore Zombies Picture Books & Chapter Books

Skewed Advertising, Cell phones / Smart Phones & Screaming Deals

We will get to cell phones in a moment or two, depending on how fast you can read.  But first, let me give you an example of skewed advertising.  Right now, I want you to picture a pair of prescription glasses.  What pops into your mind?  For those of us who have impaired eyesight, we can tell you why your picture is not quite right.

It turns out that a pair of prescription glasses is actually 3 parts: the frames, lens number one, and lens number two.  If you would like to upgrade to scratch resistant, low glare, transition lenses, lightweight, etc., you will pay more.  Seriously?

What about shopping for homes?  New home buyers might think they will pay only the quoted principal and interest price per month.   Not only will property tax and insurance add much to your payment, but you find out about all sorts of processing and document fees.   Those are my favorite kinds of fees.  In fact my husband and I recently bought a used car from a sales lot.  Luckily, we were eligible and fortunate enough to participate (again) in the non advertised processing fee and document fee program.  I think I’m going to start a club.

Let’s talk cell phones.  I found a screaming deal!  And after all has been said and done, I assure you, in my opinion (back off lawyers), it IS a screaming deal!!!  I wish I could say I get a kick back or some sort of payment for my testimonial.  I don’t.  Do I want to pay it forward?  Sure.  Do I want there to be an eventual repercussion on those engaged in skewed advertising?  Yes!!!  Hopefully it will lead to either a lowering of rates, a true reflection of the actual cost involved, or both.

Backstory:  Kids wanted cell phones.  Mom (me) & Dad, (the old bald guy) owned dinosaur flip phones with old school texting for a “low” monthly payment of approximately $60 per month through “major” carrier.  Last Christmas I bought my boys pay-as-you-go cell phones with slide open keypads.  I thought it would be the highlight of their presents.  My boys were thoroughly unimpressed.  They weren’t smart phones. They went mostly unused. . . A waste of money.

So, the talk of the next couple of months was how to get smart phones for the whole family.  My boys and I checked into plans and found some deals.  A lot of major carriers offer some sort of family plan.  Screaming deals!!  So we ran the numbers and finally decided to go with a certain carrier.  I actually went online and started adding things to “my cart”.  The numbers went horribly awry.  The plan was a great deal, but oh, you actually want line access with that?  Um, yes, I would like for the phones to work.  Well, then, that is a different situation.  The stated family plan with phones and plan, and line access was now more than double than the advertised deal.  It turns out that cell phone usage is like buying glasses. There are 3 parts: the phone, the plan, and the line access.  You need all 3 for it to work.

So we checked out a second major carrier who also advertised a screaming deal.  Nope, same problem.  We checked into a third major carrier.  Again, same thing.  Note how I am not naming names.

I can’t figure out why companies pay huge bucks for advertising and for advertising campaigns that just aren’t as advertised.  A company should be creating a feel good, win-win relationship with a customer.  Why in the world would you advertise a price point that you know is not true for the service to work, and set up a resentful relationship with your customer?  I really don’t get it.  Hint, hint.

My quest continued.  I start asking around at work.  What type of cell phone do you own?  What do you like and not like about your cell phone?  Who is your carrier?  Is your service good?  How much do you pay per month?  They are only too happy to answer my questions but I don’t like their answers when it comes to the cost.  As the months go by, my coworkers become annoyed with me.  They can’t believe that in my downtime I am still online looking for a screaming deal.  There just aren’t any.  When will I wake up?

But wait.  I came across a great article.  The link is at the bottom of this blog post.  I researched the plans and decided to go with Republic Wireless for three of us and a separate plan for the old, bald guy who had different needs cell phone wise.  My sons and I are almost always under the wonderful veil of Wifi service either at home, work, or school.  I had to purchase 3 smart phones up front.  I believe they were around $150 each.  Maybe this is part of the way they make money, I don’t know.  They are not the latest and greatest, but they are smartphones, and you can only use the Republic Wireless plan with certain phones.  We did not “port in” our numbers, which means we got new phone numbers.

I didn’t pick the cheapest plan, which is Wifi only at $5.00 per month.  You can make 911 calls outside of Wifi.  I upgraded myself and the kids to the $10 per month plan which includes text and calls over 3G outside of Wifi.  You can upgrade to include gigs if you want.  They now even have a refund program where you receive money off of your bill for not using your gig allowance if you are on that plan.

The part I am DYING to get to:  My monthly bill is $33, including taxes for all three lines.  The fine print?  It is actually in the same size type as all of the rest.  Republic Wireless has a page about how much you will pay in taxes.  There is no line access fee, no skewed advertising in my opinion.  How refreshing!  That is why the $10 per month option I chose X 3 lines of service, plus taxes equals $33.00.

This is a two part plan.  One, buy a phone, two, pay for service.  That’s it.  Really, truly, A SCREAMING DEAL!  Don’t believe me?  Neither does anyone else.  I tell my friends and coworkers about what I finally decided upon and tell them the cost.  The looks on people’s faces would be the same as if I told them about last night’s alien abduction experience.  One coworker even stated, “Well, you really don’t know until you receive your fist bill.”  Another victim of being used to having to pay at least 100% more than advertised per month for that “monthly deal”.

No, really.  My monthly bill, again, including taxes is $33 per month for 3 lines of service.  I have had the service for several months, I have received the bills, and yes, it’s true.  Check it out!

Meanwhile, speaking of screaming deals, don’t forget to download the free ebook Moore Zombies: The Search for Gargoy.  Available online at major retailers for free (Amazon  http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00NUMLXB0 ), or go to http://www.MooreZombies.com

Wendy Knuth

Author of Moore Zombies picture and chapter books

 

Article on deals for cell phones:  http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2375644,00.asp

 

 

Spooky Time – A Fun Halloween Game!

Tonight I reminisce.  I would like to tell you about the fun & scary game that somehow just came to be.  It became a favorite Halloween tradition for our family.  Spooky Time.

When my children were very young, I liked to set the mood for whatever holiday was present.  I just happened to be shopping for Christmas items at a craft store when I noticed a 90% off deal for Halloween items.  Lucky me. I bought numerous, numerous candle holders at 10 cents apiece.  Skulls, jack-o-lanterns, ghosts, etc.

So come next Halloween, I put them on display.  I also wanted to play some Halloween music, and all I could find was CD’s with songs such as The Purple People Eater.  I used to light the candles in the spooky looking candle holders, as well as in the jack-o-lanterns we had carved.  I would play the fun music and the kids would run around.

We turned out the lights so we could see how spooky the carved pumpkins and ghosts looked.  Then we decided to play hide-n-seek.  There were numerous candles everywhere so that every room was very well lit.  We even left some of the lights on, but dimmed them.  My boys were so cute.  They would go to their bedroom for one minute to give us time to hide.  Then, they would come out with big eyes, fake swords and plastic armor.

As the kids grew, I had to find scarier music.  So I went online and found some great clips that I downloaded and put on CD’s:  Werewolf howls, theme music from The Exorcist, theme music from the Halloween movies, music with people screaming on occasion, maniacal clown house music, the dreaded string sounds that you usually hear when someone is being attacked in a movie, etc.

The years continued to pass and we had to have less and less light as hiders were more easily found.  By this time, the REALLY scary music was blasting, and the neighbor children came over for this great, fun, scary, Spooky Time.  Sometimes the kids would hide with adults being the seekers, other times vice-versa.  We discovered throwing items at or near a seeker could throw them off, and there was a lot of moving around so that hiders could go to a place where the seeker had already checked, leaving the seeker to believe no one was hiding there.  One thing was very apparent – the jump scare never gets old!

Fast forward a couple of years.  The lights were almost none existent.  The music still blared on.  So, yes, injuries started to occur.  Hiders and seekers would run into each other.  One night, I heard “Wendy, I’m bleeding!”  We turned on the lights and our neighbor had a split in the center of his forehead.  How very Halloween to have blood dripping down all over his face and onto the carpet.  I thought he had crawled into an outside wall corner but it turns out he had just run straight into the flat surface of the wall.  Head wounds bleed, um, a lot.

Boys and men are so funny.  As my husband and I were working on the boy’s wound, my husband told him that someday women would be impressed with his scar, but that he needed a better story.  Apparently, running into a wall doesn’t excite the ladies.  All of the boys got to work.  I was amazed by all of their fantastic stories as to how our neighbor had now suffered this injury.  Great imaginations!

Being the only female present, I found it very interesting that there was no screaming or crying, but almost a proudness, a rite of passage if you will.  I’m sure if some young girl had split her head open things would have been quite different.

I don’t think that was the last year of Spooky Time.   I believe the next year the kids wore their karate gear, including headgear.  We may have even gone one more year.  But it was pretty much the end of an era.  And that is why I reminisce.  It was a lot of fun.  Go ahead and give it a try, just remember to leave some lights on.

Wendy Knuth, Author of Moore Zombies  MooreZombies.comGE DIGITAL CAMERA