Elaine is an award-winning author, syndicated blogger, speaker and retreat organizer. Elaine professes that “laughter with wine is the best medicine” and continues to entertain her audiences in her blog.
(Last night I was one of the illustrious storytellers on stage at the Alpine Playhouse in McCall for the inaugural “Stage Flight” program sponsored by the McCall Arts & Humanities Council. The theme was “Cabin Fever,” and I told the true and slightly embellished rendition of a dark and stormy night home alone in McCall.…
I watched through tears as the videos showed students cowering under desks and running to the arms of their anguished parents. I’m done waiting for Congress to act to protect our children. In my opinion, members of Congress care about two things: voters and money. Republicans eagerly take donations from lobbyists, including the NRA,…
My Irish eyes are smiling. I’m returning to Ireland for 10 days in April to meet a group of women in Dublin and embark on an adventure through Wayfinding Women, an organization that provides empowering spiritual retreats for women seeking joy, authenticity, purpose, and adventure. Irish jigs and limericks will be included. I’ll be…
I’ve elevated the dubious label of compulsive hoarder to a new level above and beyond disheveled stacks of newspapers, precarious piles of unrecognizable clothes, and half-used tubes of anti-aging products that incorrectly promised to magically revitalize my skin’s youthful radiance and defy the aging process. I collect cans of water chestnuts. I love water chestnuts…
The National Retail Federation predicts more than $20 billion will be spent this year on Valentine’s Day gifts that include jewelry, flowers, candy, and greeting cards. However, many middle-aged couples ignore the hype and prefer a nice dinner with fine wine, a slow dance on the patio, and a tender look that says: “I WILL…
Mill Park Publishing of Eagle sponsored the Children’s Writing Challenge in conjunction with the 5th Annual Idaho® Potato Drop on December 31, 2017. The judges chose the top ten winners after reading more than 100 clever and creative entries from local children. The original essays included robot potatoes, spuds with glitter and unicorns, fighting bakers that shoot French fries from their eyes, and tubers from outer space.
First Place – Megan B., age 10, Seven Oaks Elementary, Boise, for “Potato Invasion” – Reads at 3:45 pm
Second Place – Belle T., age 11, Crimson Point Elementary, Kuna, for “A Potato Named Jeff”
Third Place – Alexis W, age 8, Riverside Elementary, Boise, for “The Magic Flying Potato” – Reads at 3:00 pm
Fourth Place – Noah C., age 9, Seven Oaks Elementary, Boise, for “Cat and Bunny in the Potato Patch” – Reads at1:46 pm
Fifth Place – Noah W., age 9, Seven Oaks Elementary, Boise, for “Jerry and Barry”
Sixth Place – Josie R., age 10, Seven Oaks Elementary, Boise, for “The Potato Story”
Seventh Place – Evelyn A., age 9, Seven Oaks Elementary, Boise, for “The Invasion of Potatoes”
Eighth Place – Adelie C., age 9, Seven Oaks Elementary, Boise, for “Runaway Potatoes”
Ninth Place – Jeremiah P., age 9, Seven Oaks Elementary, Boise, for “Me the Potato”
Tenth Place – Paia C., age 9, Seven Oaks Elementary, Boise, for “The Long Journey”
The top 10 entries each will receive a certificate, $25 from Mill Park Publishing, and a copy of the award-winning book Gators & Taters: A Week of Bedtime Stories and The Magic Potato – La Papa Mágica. The top 10 winners will be introduced during a special program on the Main Stage at on December 31.
The top four winners will read their winning entries at a special ceremony on the Main Stage in front of the Capitol on December 31.
The Idaho® Potato Drop is a free and charitable community event that supports local arts, business, and charities. Activities feature a fireworks show, a Family Tent, Rail Jam, and live music at the state capitol for New Year’s Eve. The “drop” of the gigantic, lighted potato at midnight is now a worldwide attraction.
Mill Park Publishing is an official vendor for the event and will be selling books in the Family Tent. Parents can save $10 off the price of two books. The company was created by bestselling author Elaine Ambrose to promote and publish books for all ages, create motivating writing retreats, and sponsor writing challenges.
Put down your peppermint schnapps and find a quiet place so you can write about the past year. Summarize all the fun and fabulous, the rotten and wretched, and the clever and comedic parts of 2017. Then hide your journal and promise to write again next December. Your future older woman will thank you.
I’ve written in a personal journal every December for the past 40 years. I began writing soon after the invention of electricity but just before the advent of the personal computer. My earlier entries written with a pen are more personal than the electronic version, but now I’m hooked on word processing so I print my yearend musings and insert them into my journal. Besides, I can never find a pen that works.
Before I write, I meander through past years to find poignant reminders that life has kicked me in the gut a few times, but the splendid days far outnumber the crappy ones. My ultimate goal is for that trend to continue.
I laugh when I read about how miserable I was about my weight after the birth of my second baby more than thirty years ago. I would LOVE to weigh that now! It’s touching to reread details about my children’s first words, their growth charts, and their early bowel movements…things only a mother could document.
My journals also tell the story of essential parts of my life that have been damaged, lost, and reclaimed: love, family, friends, jobs, homes, health, and money. I’ve made huge mistakes in real estate and financial investments, mostly because I relied upon the advice of (former) friends, but I’ve claimed success because of the strong relationships with my husband and children and with satisfying achievements in my career. Every person has a story, and each year we have the opportunity to start a new chapter.
You can find journals in every style and shape, from a simple spiral notebook to a leather-bound book trimmed in gold leaf. Add favorite items that symbolize each year: a pressed flower, a published poem, old photos, theatre tickets, a favorite wine label. Arrange a private space where you can write and keep it uncluttered so your precious journals won’t be thrown out if you’re featured on an episode of “Hoarders.”
Professionals with fancy degrees will tell you that it’s important to write in journals so you can get in touch with your inner self and explore ways to communicate your true feelings. I say just write your story because no one else has one like yours. Maybe your journal won’t ever be read, or maybe it will become a published memoir or documentary or a treasure for future grandchildren. But do it now, and remember that it’s waiting for you every December, just like an old friend. The journal is your own private therapy session, complete with a front row seat to “This is Your Life.”
In December of 1962, the village of Wendell, Idaho hummed and bustled with excitement during preparation for the holidays. We were farmers and the crops had been harvested, stored, or sold, so it was time to organize and rehearse the Christmas programs in the schools and churches.
Mary Holsinger, the doctor’s wife, volunteered every year to direct the children’s choir at the Presbyterian Church. I was ten years old and eagerly joined the Sunday School Choir. For the performance, we wore starched white bibs with big red bows.
I found my voice during rehearsal for “Angels We Have Heard on High.” As the chorus stretched out the word “Gloria,” I opened my mouth and produced a sound that shocked and impressed Mrs. Holsinger.
“You can sing!” she said, almost in disbelief that the disheveled class clown had any redeeming value. “Let’s sing this again.”
As if prompted by the harking of the herald angels, the children’s choir erupted in a harmonious rendition of the famous song written one hundred years earlier in 1862. I took the chorus to new heights of volume and passion as I hit the high notes and slid down the musical scale to reach “in excelsis Deo!” My love of the music equaled my adoration of the Christ Child, somewhere away in a manger.
I continued singing in choirs throughout high school and college and was selected for the prestigious Vandaleer Concert Choir at the University of Idaho. We toured Europe in 1971 and I sobbed because of the glorious sounds as we harmonized while singing Handel’s “Messiah” in ornate cathedrals in France, Germany, Holland, and England. It was a long way from Wendell.
After college, I became the wedding singer. The best I ever performed was when I stood in the upper alcove in the St. Stanislaus Roman Catholic Church in Lewiston and sang “The Lord’s Prayer” and “Ave Maria” in Latin for the wedding mass of my sorority sister. I felt so filled with the spirit that I could have floated over the congregation and blessed everyone with everlasting gratitude, world peace, and abundant joy to the world. I wish I could recapture that feeling.
After years of singing at weddings, I was demoted to be the family funeral singer. The mood was different when standing in front of crying people while trying to do justice to “Amazing Grace.” I still cringe when I remember screeching off-key at Aunt Buff’s service. After that, I didn’t sing at any more funerals.
Now, my singing is limited to when I take a shower or drive my car. I still can belt out feisty renditions of songs from Tina Turner or Carole King, but my audience is as limited as my range. I can’t hit the high notes anymore, and the low notes sound anemic. Of all the singing, my favorite songs always will be the lullabies I softly sang to my babies and to my grandchildren as they drifted off to sleep in heavenly peace.
I humbly thank Mary Holsinger and the Virgin Mary for inspiring me to sing about angels bending near the earth to touch their harps of gold. Maybe someday I can be a backup singer on the tour bus to Heaven. Hallelujah.
Mill Park Publishing of Eagle, Idaho, offers 14 award-winning books, and 7 recent releases are the perfect gifts for the angels and fallen angels in your life. Two books featuring magic potatoes and tall tales will delight your children cherubs, and your angelic friends will be inspired by an anthology of stories about messages from Heaven, or they can get lost in a novel about a mysterious woman in Brazil. Your middle-aged friends who aren’t trying to remain angelic will enjoy the books about midlife humor. These books aren’t fattening and can be reused for several years. Buy these gifts for your friends, and we’ll all be happy!