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Tuesday, January 31, 2012 10 comments

2012 Nominee For Shortest Post Evah....

Monday, January 30, 2012 15 comments

Of Contests and Spam (the Food:)


Hey, it’s a new day, and a new dollar, so I wanted to again say thanks to Lillie McFerrin who last week sent over a couple of awards, including the Liebster and the Kreativ.
During my post Friday, I shared six things – per the rules – and being a rule-breaker, I made a minor change when I listed six Little Whoppers, but only one was true…
And, in true Daytime Game Show fashion, the correct answer is …. “We’ll reveal the answer folks, right after this message from our sponsors:
The Truth Will Set You Free :)
We return you now to our scheduled programming...
The “winner” was #4, where I once replied to an ad for a staff reporter where applicants needed to have both a bachelor’s degree and two years of experience in journalism.
I had neither – and still got the job.
(No one chose this one, but I’ll post that story another time.)
(Most everyone chose No. 3, the one where I “once jumped off a bridge into a dry canal thinking that the two old mattresses I placed on top of each other would break my fall.”)
(Actually, this one is *also* true, but in reality I jumped off the bridge onto only ONE mattress… nearly breaking my then-fourteen year-old ass in two :)
Anyway, here’s where I’d normally pass the awards to the next person… however, I’m holding off, because I’m still fairly new to Blogger – so I have no one I want to pass it onto.
Happy Valentine's Day

My apologies if I sound like a spazzed-out Grinch, but I *hate* winning an award/certificate/medal just for competing/participating.
I also don’t want to dilute the awesome pay-it-forwardness of these (and all other) awards by just passing them over the next person following me at Aloha Nation.

I did wander through my list of “active” followers, and feel I’ve given out the appropriate awards, which is why I want to “bank” the Liebster and Kreativ awards, and pass them forward the next time I’m “wowed.”
Does that make sense, or am  I not “getting” the point of the awards? 
I'd love to hear your thoughts...
Friday, January 27, 2012 17 comments

Big Reveal... & More!


I’ve had a lot of fun with a couple of posts this week and wanted to share some updates:

For anyone who followed my Monday post, I won an award and had to share six things about myself. One, however, was a Big Fat Lie… the reveal is below:)

But wait, there's more! Today is the *last* day of my Donald Braswell 200-word inspiration contest, which ends at 11:59 p.m. EST. Please check it out - there are some neat prizes up for grabs – literally!

It’s been a few Fridays since the last episode of YKW… so here’s what happened Thursday:

You Know When You’re A Parent when… you open the door with a heavy heart after finding another rejection lurking in the mail box. A whirlwind of crayon-carrying kiddos instantly holler for more paper… more paper! You glance down at the 8x11, bright white piece of rejection… and a smile shoves away the sadness as you realize it’s good to be home.

Lillie McFerrin was super kind to give me two awards (the Liebster and the Kreativ, which I will pay these forward this Monday.) In the meantime, the rules state I have to share six things. As the Big Fat Lie was a success, this time I’m including only one real thing – and five Little Whoppers.

Can you guess which is true?

·         I got my first driver’s license when I was 28.

·         Even after fifteen years in the restaurant business, I’m a terrible cook and have been known to burn cold cereal.

·         I once jumped off a bridge into a dry canal thinking that the two old mattresses I placed on top of each other would break my fall.

·         I once replied to an ad for a staff reporter where applicants needed to have both a bachelor’s degree and two years of experience in journalism. I had neither – and still got the job.

·         I met John Grisham while I was a manager working at Planet Hollywood Orlando and broke all the house rules by bothering and asking him when he was going to bring back Mitch McDeere (the MC from his classic The Firm.)

·         I’ve never met Donald Braswell, the former opera singer from Texas whose memoir I am co-writing.

(I’ll reveal the Lonesome Truth Monday.)

And finally, the Big Fat Lie was #2 (that I streaked across the soccer pitch :)

(While I once lived only minutes from Leeds United’s Elland Road ground and did once walk the hallowed grass, I never ran it in my “birthday suit.” (I do thank everyone who offered up mad props if this one had of been true :)

Have a safe, happy weekend everyone and remember: rejection doesn’t kill you – it just makes for darn good coloring paper.
Wednesday, January 25, 2012 20 comments

Calling Courageous Dads...

When I was seven, my dad suddenly stopped taking me to the park.
These were our weekly father-son afternoons, and there was no stress. It was all about throwing a ball or a Frisbee, or playing with his latest guard dog.
Da could have thrown a sharp stick in my eye and I honestly wouldn’t have cared.
I just loved being my father’s center of attention – if only for a few hours a week.
And when he stopped taking me to the park, he simply said it was because he didn’t “have the time.”
I wrote about this recently, but I can’t remember whose blog or when exactly I posted the comment.
However, I can remember the exact moment, thirty-six years ago, when my father told me I sucked.
My point: I'm throwing a huge shout out to all the dads who’ve yet to see Courageous. (Future dads and dads-to-be are included… y’all will be so far ahead of the curve if you watch this:)
I’ve never done a movie review in my life, so bear with me, and, hey moms, don’t dare click off, this is something that can change your husband and family – for the better.
Courageous is a Christian, family-based movie with some amazing writing (I never knew I could laugh twenty seconds after bawling my heart out - but it's true.)
Please click the link above to discover more, but the simple premise concerns five dads who decide to become Dads after a tragic event causes one to reevaluate his life and his role in the family unit.
I wasn’t going to post anything about the movie for two reasons – it’s a recent release, but not new, and it’s 3:22 in the a.m.
However, as I went to shut down the computer, this picture of No. 1 Son was my screen saver – and I couldn’t help but take a moment.
This was taken this past Sunday (on the occasion of his riding his new bike for the first time.)
Obviously I am super-biased, but this picture shows hope and growth – my four-year-old boy is riding his first bike ( I can always Photoshop the training wheels.)
Will you be there if I fall, Papa?
Then I looked into his beautiful brown eyes, which is what got me typing.
He’s worried, nervous, and I know two seconds after this picture was taken, he came to a complete stop and said “Help me.”

I did, but dads, are you there for your kids - I mean REALLY there?

Please note, I ain’t judging anyone. Trust me, I’ve messed up more than enough chapters to write a book, but it would never sell – the main character was shallow and a complete knob-head.
Anyway, the first time I watched Courageous was a couple of months ago when our church put on a special screening… it was hilarious listening to a bunch of men – mostly strangers – sniffling and crying quietly in the dark –  all of us worried lest our ManCards be invalidated.
Tonight I watched Courageous for the second time, so like, I knew what was going to happen… and this time I bawled my heart out... even more like a little baby.
What’s up with that?
Partly, it’s because I was sat next to my wife and No. 1 Son and if you have seen the movie, well, you’ll know the part that got to me.
If you haven’t watched this movie, and you’re a dad (or married to one) please consider  buying/renting Courageous and looking into its Resolution.
Sorry, I know this post sucked as a “movie review,” but there is one thing I can promise: My three boys will never be told I’m too bored/busy/bothered to go to the park.
That’s my resolution – what’s yours?
Monday, January 23, 2012 17 comments

Versatile Blogger Award goes to...

Well, I don’t know how your weekend was, but I hope all was well, ‘cos I got a wonderful surprise Saturday.
Cool New Badge Look :)
Lara Schiffbauer wrote to say she’d put me up for a Versatile Blogger award.
Lara is a wife, mom, writer and a licensed clinical social worker, so you know this is one sharp cookie, so I was – am – honored.
She’s blogged at Lara Schiffbauer’s Motivation for Creation since November 2010. I’ve followed Lara for several months and really enjoy her posts including this one. Lara always fills her posts with a ton of great information, so an award from her means a lot.
Thanks Lara!

Now, to accept the Versatile Blogger Award, the rules state I must share six things none of y’all know about me… but I’m going to mess with the rules … a little :)
Only FIVE of the following six things truly happened… the other is a figment of my imagination :)
Can you guess which one is a Big Fat LIE :)
(As I already have a 200-word inspirational contest going through Friday, there’s no prize except for bragging rights :)
Here are my six:

1.      I was born in Dublin, Ireland and have moved about SIXTY times since leaving the Emerald Isle twenty-three years ago. While travelling Europe, I lived (and worked) in Holland (server); Spain (hotel entertainer); France (Opening Crewmember of EuroDismal) and England (restaurant manager.)

2.      While living in Northern England, I once (on a dare) streaked naked across the length of the Leeds United Football (soccer) Club pitch… all the while screaming “You’ll never take me alive, coppers!!!”

Rhode Island Sunset
    3.      I moved to the U.S. in 1996 (with my trusty Green Card) and have driven coast-to-coast five times. I’ve lived (or at least driven) in thirty-five states. (Highlights include watching a sunrise in Key West, Fla.; nearly crashing a van while driving on the Brooklyn Bridge in New York; running out of gas in Pecos, Texas; drinking homemade wine offered by a Native American Indian in Blackwater, Ariz. and becoming a naturalized citizen in Montobello, Calif. on July 3, 2003.)

4.       After 9/11, I wanted to change my life (which was already a mess.) I tried joining the USAF – and the detailer was willing to take me –the wages meant for a nineteen-year-old wouldn’t be enough for a thirty-one-year-old with horrendous credit. So I decided to walk around the world.

5.      In 2003, I proposed to my girlfriend (who I’d met on a blind date in 2002) in front of 2,000 people via the JumboTron at the Shamu Show in SeaWorld, San Diego.

(Luckily, she said yes, but immediately asked if I’d asked permission from her parents. I had :)

6.      Since 2002, I’ve ran one half and nine full marathons. I’m on schedule to complete my personal challenge of “Ten in Ten” when I run the Honolulu marathon this December.

(I’ll post the ONE Big Fat LIE at the top of this Friday’s post:)

So there’s five weird things you probably didn’t want to know, and now I can pass the award to six other Brilliant Bloggers. (Click the link to go directly to their blogs)… and the Versatile Blogger Award goes to… (Rips weird-looking gold envelope):

·         Michael Offutt

·         Stacy Jensen

·         K.T. Hanna

·         Holly Kammier

·         Morgan Shamy

·         Emily R. King

Folks, these are great peeps, and it’s been my pleasure getting to know each and every one since I started blogging this past September.

 PS. thanks again – so much – to Lara Schiffbauer for hooking a brother up.

(Cheap microphone clicks on…) And finally, we know you have many blogging options, so on behalf of today’s captain and the entire write crew, we appreciate you flying with “Aloha, and Hi! from HI” Bloglines. If you are transferring to another Blog, we wish you safe travels. And, if this is your final destination, welcome home :)
Thursday, January 19, 2012 14 comments

“Follow Your Dreams” CONTEST


Some may know I’m co-writing the memoir of former professional opera singer, Donald Braswell who lost his voice in a freak accident.
Never a quitter, Donald fought back, relearning first how to speak and then sing, until thirteen long years later, he made his national television debut, ending in the Top Five of America’s Got Talent.
"Follow Your Dreams!"
You can find the original post I wrote here.
View the YouTube video of his inspiring first performance here.
One of Donald’s catchphrases is “Follow Your Dreams” so that’s the theme of the contest I'm hosting.
TO ENTER: In 200 words or less, please share an inspirational something that’s happened to you, by you or that you know to be true via a friend or family member.
Submit your entry via the comment section below. (Title NOT included in word count.)
Feel free to enter today - your entry will be included in this seven-day contest that starts tomorrow, Friday, Jan. 20, 2012 and ends 11:59 p.m. EST Jan. 27, 2012.
THE PRIZE: Donald has agreed to donate a signed set of three CD’s to the Grand Prize Winner. The CD’s are:
·         New Chapter (2007)
·         We Fall And We Rise Again (2010)
·         Unchained (2011)
To help spread the word, anyone who adds @markjkoopmans to a tweet publicizing the contest or sends over a link to their blog post that mentions the contest will be in a drawing to win a $20 Gift Card. (Winner to choose type of card, i.e for a restaurant or Amazon, etc.)
Grand Prize Winner will be notified by Jan. 30, 2012.
Amazon Gift Card Winner will be notified by Jan. 29, 2012.
Please follow me via the “Join This Site” button to read up on the competition :)
Questions? Please use the comments form. I’ll answer within twenty-four hours.
Interested in learning more about Donald. Click here to visit his website and to visit the official website of the Donald Braswell International Fan Club, please click here.

Thanks for participating and Good Luck!
Please feel free to pull and use the contest button (Donald's picture on the upper left hand side of my blog.) Thanks in advance :)
Monday, January 16, 2012 19 comments

Of Germy Mice and Men

If you’ve ever read my “about me” page, you’ll know I’m a rookie homeschooling, stay-at-home dad of three boys (our latest edition dropped this past New Year’s Eve, which was sweet timing on the 2011 tax break hook up!)
Cheers, Son.
Anyway, I was self-musing
Is it me, or does that sound a little rude…?
 …when it occurred I haven’t shared much about the homeschooling side of things, so...
I’m a member of two wonderful homeschool support groups. One is the Oahu Military HomeschoolersConnection; the other is the Military Home Educator's Network of Oahu.
Although most definitely a male in the minority, the moms have not been mum in their support for the tall, bald guy who wears a Boppy on his head and talks with a funny accent.
The Man. The Legend. The Manilow.

I’ve received some great advice the last several months - all in an effort to figure out what No. 1 Son needs to learn so the guys in the Black Suburban won’t chuck me in solitary with only The Very Best of Barry Manilow for company.

And then I got to thinking... if the ladies are hooking a brother up
or am I now a sister??
...well then, gosh darn it, the least I can do is volunteer to host a monthly family friendly event.
This was in November.
I never thought two months would go so fast!
However, allegedly smart that I am – with fifteen years in the restaurant industry I thought it'd be a breeze, no a sneeze, to spend two hours teaching the kids – and moms – about germs, bacteria and how much of a fungi I am.
Seriously. With lines like that, will you say a prayer for my wife? Please?
“GermFest 2012” had scheduled special appearances by minor chefs such as “Gordon Flimsay” and “Auntie Bea” – (a second cousin to Rachel Ray.) Both were unable to attend.
Smart people.
I had printouts, pictures and tons of research in the days leading up to The Event
Cool name, someone should make a television series… oh…

This was going to be awesome!
Only it wasn’t.
As soon as I realized there were other dads there….
There were never any dads at the other events I attended… OK, maybe there’s one or two, but why were they here, in number, at mine?
A manly tear – just one – escaped my Dutch-Irish eyes.
The other dads meant I wouldn’t be special – but I’m the host – I must say, I was unprepared to be so un-specialized.
Standing in front of the small crowd of about twenty,
including the three dads…
my inner announcer said let’s get ready to rumble and that Ego has left the building – complete with his blue rhinestone jacket.
But it was too late. Unraveling quicker than a dropped music cassette tape
(Sorry, I’m listening to the '80s :)
…my two-hour show – highlighted by a “Grilled Cheese Making Quiz”
Kitchen Nightmare?
(with questions like: Can you spot the twelve nasty, germy things I’m doing to this poor, innocent Grilled Cheese Sandwich?)
 …ends one hour, fifteen minutes early.

Really? I was like one of those speed-reader guys… the ones who do the legal stuff in the commercials that spend twenty seconds on the benefits - and two minutes on how dangerous the pills are.
 My presentation ended in forty-two minutes, and for a few moments, I stood there, mouth agape – grateful for the lack of dodgy tomatoes heading my way.
Strangely enough, the dads seemed happier – I’d saved them an hour – so all was not lost.
And I did learn something - even if no one else understood a word I speed-said - singing Happy Birthday (twice) takes about twenty seconds – the exact time needed to kill the pesky germmy germs - so my washing skills have improved dramatically.
(You should see the weird looks I get from the dude standing at the next sink...)
Oh, oh, oh,… and did you know October 15 is Global Handwashing Day :)
A useful tip the next time you’re playing Trivial Pursuit.
Note to self: Change music genre on Pandora… the '80s are launching a full-frontal attack!
Have you ever over-extended while writing?
What suffered most? You, the family or the writing?
Friday, January 13, 2012 12 comments

"Great Comments" Award Winners


The recipient of my first award earlier in the week, I wanted to take a few minutes and pass it forward.

This “Great Comments” badge was given by Leigh Covington (via an award she received from David Powers King.)

Go Forth and Multiply :)
Therefore and without any further adieu

Although, if you ask me, one can never have too much adieu

I would like to recognize some folks for their general support, amazing words of encouragement and absolute willingness to go the extra mile.

Is handed the envelope.

Rips the envelope…

In Irish alphabetical order, I hereby deem the following ten awesome Bloggers to have earned the moniker of “Great Comments” peep.

PS…This post is in place of my regular “You Know You’re a Parent…” series, so I had a lot of silly humor sloshing around inside me… I *needed* to let loose a little, so the names are real, but the nicknames are alllll mine :)

·         Mel “RockStar” Fowler

·         Ara “Bluddy” Grigorian

·         Leigh “Leibby” Covington

·         Cassie “5 Senses” Mae

·         Ali “Become” Cross

Please, please check out these superbly and wonderfully non-adverb filled blogs!

I wanted to say Cheers to the above and a huge MAHALO to all who’ve ever taken the time and effort to leave a comment – they are always read, always responded to and super-always appreciated :)
Wednesday, January 11, 2012 12 comments

Speaking Life Into Your Words


The other day, I was enjoying the latest post from Mel Fowler’s wonderful blog,  Adventure Writes, when several comments left by others surprised me.
In her post, Survival of a Reader, Mel shares how she read her Chapter One to her writer’s group.
While reading, she “began anticipating what they would say in certain places, and began to feel that my novel, was crap, that my story was no good.”
When someone later said she’d liked the story, this surprised Mel, who’d read her chapter out loud for the first time. Glad to have gotten through what was obviously a nervous experience, Mel also mentioned this was something she needed to do, and that it was a step in the right direction.
Don’t get me wrong – I totally agree and applauded Mel for stepping out of her comfort zone, but what fascinated me were some of the comments from fellow bloggers – many of whom I respect and follow.
The consensus seemed to be that not many read their work to others – and I would have to ask why not?
My Other Baby!
Isn’t that part of why we write – so people can enjoy the fruits of our hard labor?
Trust me, I’m no expert at having others read my work out loud, but last year, when I attended my first Southern California Writer’s Conference I specifically signed up for all their “Rogue Read and Critique” sessions.
These things are legendary… they start at 9 p.m. and stop when the last reader falls... the current record is 6:02 in the morning!
(Digression alert – sorry!)
Anyway, I was excited to hear someone else read my stuff. Sure, I was nervous, but excitement won over.
Well, my theory is: if it doesn’t kill you – it makes you stronger.

I remember looking around the small hotel conference room, I saw that person, yes, you in the corner, holding the five pages I’d printed earlier.
We weren’t related, and, OK we were in the safe environment of a writer’s clique, but you were under no obligation to like what was on the page.
You did, however, offer to read, and thanks for that. Now I’m looked forward to any reviews and assessments from others in the room.
Good or bad is OK – honest is best.
 I’d scribble notes as fast as I can, and did the changes once I got home.

That’s exactly how it goes down every time, and I love it!
Sometimes I read my own stuff, but I prefer strangers to read when possible – it’s raw and so dang awesome when their voice aligns with the tone of the voice(s) on the page. It's like... they get it!!
Seriously, if you haven’t tried this before, don’t miss out on a great way to move your writing forward.
Mel’s taken that first step, it sounds like she’s going back for more – and I bet the next time won’t be so hard.

How about you?

I’d love to hear your thoughts.
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