Lucia Raatma

Writer and Editor

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Fun and Games

Posted by Webmaster on March 29, 2011 at 8:33 PM Comments comments (1)

Reading between the lines. When I was taking a screenwriting class in college, I remember our professor explaining how dialogue was by nature murky and unclear. People seldom say what they really mean. Instead they imply, they suggest, they deflect. Saying what you want and what you need seldom happens onscreen.


And what about in real life? All too often, we sidestep the real issues, the real worries and questions we might have. We mention that the economy is terrible, but maybe we what we really mean is that we don't know how to make the mortgage payment this month. Or maybe we complain that someone at work is not carrying his load, but what we really mean is that we’re concerned about our own stability.


So often, when I’m in the middle of something and one of my kids interrupts, I answer with, “What do you need?” This isn’t me being rude or impatient. It’s an honest question. What I can I do for you right now? What is your biggest priority? Let me address that and then get back to what I need to do.


Which is not to say that I don’t love hanging out with my kids. Maybe one of them just wants to say hi, tell me about the day. That’s good, too. But if Alex is feeling a sore throat coming on or Lizzie needs to talk about what somebody said on the bus that morning, tell me. Make that anxiety clear, and don't make me guess.


There are days when I’m more than happy to be perceptive, to try to see what people are really feeling and saying. But sometimes, it would be nice if everyone could be crystal clear and downright direct. The sky is remarkably blue today. Really, or are you just ridiculously happy about something?


Tags: implications, dialogue, being direct

So Much to Be Thankful For

Posted by Webmaster on November 23, 2010 at 11:51 AM Comments comments (1)

Thanksgiving is just two days away, which means it’s the perfect time to talk about all the things I’m grateful for. And, really, there is so much on that list.

 

At the very top of my mound of blessings are my wonderful husband and kids. Andy is always there to make me laugh, even after a very bad day, and I consider myself so lucky to have tied the knot with him nearly sixteen years ago. Two of the incredible benefits of our marriage are our sweet, healthy, happy kids. Lizzie brings a smile to my face each day as she tells me about the events of middle school and talks about what horse she rode during her lesson. Her eyes light up at the very mention of friends and sleepovers—pure bliss. And then there is Alex, just a burst of positive, never-ending energy. Football, hockey, soccer, baseball—he’s ready to try all of them. And let’s watch the highlights on Sports Center. But he’s still just young enough that cuddling up together with a book makes him happy, too. Our golden retriever, Chloe, completes the household, and I can’t imagine live without her. Those big brown eyes seem to understand every worry, and she’s always there with a wagging tail to make me feel better.

 

Beyond the walls of my home, I have even more things to be grateful for:

• A job, though quirky, which fills my days with one challenge after another

• Friends, ranging from grade school through last week, who make my life fuller and more interesting

• Sisters and a brother, although spread far and wide, who always remind me where I came from and who I am

• A mom, who handled the loss of my dad with grace, and has really shown her strength and fortitude in this last year

 

When I turn on the news and hear about the recession and the latest election and all the world’s problems, I listen. But I also tune out to some degree. Yes, nothing’s perfect and there will always be conflict, but right here, right now, things are pretty good.

 

Look around in your life. What do you have to be thankful for? See what others are saying at http://www.EpicThanks.org

 

Tags: epicthanks, tweetsgiving, gratitude, thanksgiving

My Love-Hate Relationship with Facebook

Posted by Webmaster on October 16, 2010 at 10:06 PM Comments comments (0)

Facebook. It seems to be the new way to communicate, not just for the younger generation but for everyone. I remember when I was first encouraged to create a Facbook page, I wasn't sure what the point was. But now, I have to admit, I check my page daily--often more than once--to see what all my friends are up to.


On some days, Facebook is very entertaining. I hear what gripes people have or read about life's littie success stories. Some people post great photos or videos or human interest stories. There's always something new.


On other days, I just can't take it. Quotes from Captain James T. Kirk or over-the-top religious views or polarizing political comments. These are definitely things I can do without.


But when I get down on Facebook, I just step back. I can skip over the the stuff I don't agree with and just focus on what's fun and informative. How else could I keep up with old high school friends or stay in touch with people who live across the country?


Some critics have called Facebook the ultimate time waster. Well, that's one opinion. But to me, being able to see a new baby the day she was born or watch video of my nephew sky diving could never be considered a waste of time. These are the the positive aspects of what technology can bring us.

Those Big Brown Eyes

Posted by Webmaster on March 26, 2010 at 3:54 PM Comments comments (0)

She was my very first baby. Weighing just three pounds at six weeks old, Chloe entered our home and changed everything forever. The day we got her from the breeder was, for my husband and me, like the best Christmas ever. From the first day, that sweet golden retriever took naps on our laps, nipped at our shoelaces, and brought joy to us every minute.


These days Chloe is 12 years old and doesn't move as quickly as she used to. Gone are her ball-chasing days, but her puppy spirit is still there. She'll bark to let me know the UPS truck has just pulled up, and she'll bark as the kids leave for school--as if to say "good-bye and come back soon!"


At ages 11 and 5, Lizzie and Alex have never know life without Chloe, and frankly, I have a hard time remembering my days before she arrived. Now, she follows me from room to room, watching me with those big brown eyes. When I settle in at the computer, she settles on the floor at my feet. And during a thunderstorm, she'll attempt to crawl around my legs and under my desk.


What will it be like when she's gone? I hate to even think about it. So, for now, I'll take every chance to sit on the floor an drub her belly or just hang out with her in the front yard. That big ball of fur brings a smile to my face every time I see her. And what could be better than that?

"We Are What We Repeatedly Do"

Posted by Webmaster on February 22, 2010 at 10:34 AM Comments comments (0)

"We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, therefore, is not an act, but a habit."


I read that statement (from Aristotle) a few days ago, and it really made me think. What habits do I have that define who I am?


Well, I check my email all the time. What does that mean? Maybe it means that I'm conscientous and I want to stay on top of all my work obligations. Or maybe it means I like staying in touch. Or maybe it means I should take a few days off!


What else? Each morning I make sure that the kids have everything they need in their backpacks. That seems like I'm being a responsible mom. But maybe I should relinquish some of those tasks to the kids as they get older. Lizzie, at age 11, already likes to do most everything on her own, and I probably should let her.


And what things should I repeatedly be doing? I'd like to say that I'm always patient with the kids, but am I? Am I always helpful with homework and do I always make sure I listen to the problems they tell me about? Hmmm. I fear that may be hit or miss. When I'm tired or in a hurry, I'm probably not as patient as I could be.


Do I smile at strangers in the grocery store? Do I hold the door for people behind me at CVS? Do I say "thanks" to clerks and tellers? Yes, most of the time.


Good habits. Those words often make us think of getting exercise or eating in a healthful way. But there are other habits to cultivate as well. Taking time to pet the dog each night. Listening to everything my husband is telling me before jumping to any conclusions. Reading Alex a book. Brushing Lizzie's hair. Taking time for myself each day. Those are things I should repeat over and over again.


Cold!

Posted by Webmaster on February 15, 2010 at 11:57 AM Comments comments (0)

OK, I know it's snowing throughout the rest of the country and I shouldn't complain. But it was 30 degrees overnight, and for Tampa that just isn't right.


Last year this time, the kids played outside every day, but now we find ourselves huddled in movie theaters and malls. We wear fleece jackets and long pants. And have to wear socks! Considering my love of sandals, that is a huge sacrifice.


No doubt this won't last long. By March it will be warm, and by May it will be downright hot. The kids will complain, and we'll go through more bottles of water. However, then there will be a simple solution: We'll just head to the pool across the street and all will be well.

Bowling in My Living Room

Posted by Webmaster on January 16, 2010 at 4:23 PM Comments comments (1)

For months, my husband and I swore we'd never own a Wii. Stupid, we thought. Go outside and play real tennis or baseball or whatever. Why would anyone play sports using a TV? But, alas, Santa undermined us this past Christmas, and there was a Wii just waiting under the tree. Of course, Lizzie and Alex were thrilled.


So in the weeks since, they've played everything on Wii Sports, some Marios, and the rest. Andy has wisely stayed away, but I've attempted a few match-ups with my kids.


My first observation is that Wii bowling is much quieter (and cleaner) than most bowling alleys, so no complaints there. And it's interesting to see that I have a tendency to "hook left" both in my living room and in a regular bowling alley. But I'm MUCH better with the Wii than I am in "real life." I've even beaten Alex a few times.


However, the five-year-old still wins every time I attempt tennis or baseball. Something about trying to "hit" a moving target with a remote. Just makes no sense to me!


For the short term, the Wii has actually been a lot of fun. Since Florida was oddly cold during Christmas break, the kids enjoyed playing inside during those days. Lizzie learned some dance moves from Hannah Montana, and Alex figured out how a safety is scored in football. But next week, Alex starts T-ball practice--outside with a real ball and bat--and I'm looking forward to it.

A Daily Walk

Posted by Webmaster on January 14, 2010 at 11:06 AM Comments comments (1)

It's been cold in Florida lately, but today the beautiful weather is back. So an early-morning walk seemed like the perfect way to start the day. For me, there is no better way to clear my head and spend some time with myself.


A pair of cranes greeted me after a mile or so, and flock of birds flew overhead. I think I heard a cow "moo" somewhere in the distance, and the sun peaked through the light clouds. All the while, the thoughts in my mind just swirled and gradually calmed down.


What are today's priorities? What can wait? All of it makes sense to me now.

A New Year

Posted by Webmaster on January 13, 2010 at 7:50 PM Comments comments (2)

It sounds so corny, I know, but the new year has started, and I see a world full of possibilities. What will happen in 2010?


Already my daughter, Lizzie, has developed a new interest--horseback riding lessons--and who knows what will strike her fancy next. Meanwhile my son, Alex, is loving every minute on the soccer field. It's so much fun to watch them grow up and try new things. Every day seems to be an adventure.


And what will I write in 2010? I just finished two titles for Pebble Books, bios on Jackie Kennedy and Michelle Obama. I'm in the middle of another assignment for Compass Point, and I've completed manuscripts about China and India for Cherry Lake.


Each day is a new beginning--another chance to start again. I can hardly wait to see where the new year takes me.


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