Friday, July 20, 2007

Rick Riordan and Alex

I have been itching to write this blog for days now! Alex and I had an awesome opportunity just recently to meet San Antonio children's author Rick Riordan. He is the author of three childrens' books: The Lightning Thief, The Sea of Monsters, and his most recently published book, The Titan's Curse.

Luckily for Alex, he has many friends who are avid readers, like he is. It was because of Jen, Luke and Gretchen Oliver and Cristy, Kyle and Ryan Wade that we found out Rick Riordan was coming to Round Rock, Texas for a book signing. Alex and I had not heard of this fabulous author yet, but trusting our friends' opinions, we decided to tag along with them to meet him.

It's a good thing we got there early! A busload of children from El Paso also came to Round Rock to meet him, all wearing the typical Camp HalfBlood t-shirts -- bright orange in color! Although there were chairs set up for people to hear Rick Riordan share a reading from his newest book, there were certainly not enough seats for the huge crowd which assembled in Barnes and Noble.

Rick's first two books are out in paperback, and since we hadn't read his books yet, I agreed to buy those and have him autograph them for Alex. While we waited to meet and hear the author, Alex started reading the first book. I quickly learned that I wasn't going to make it out of the bookstore without also purchasing the third book in the five-part series known as Percy Jackson and the Olympians. I'm glad I went back and got the newest book!

Alex breezed through all three books within a couple of days. I've already read the first book, myself. They are awesome books! Now Alex can't wait to read the fourth book -- which Rick Riordan is editing right now. We've checked out his website: -- and this morning I read his blog. He is easily our newest favorite children's author.

I got a picture of Rick Riordan with Alex after he finished autographing our three books, but I took it with my camera phone and so the quality is not top-notch. The memory of listening to this man read from his book and the joy of discovering a new author and favorite new series; however, was thrilling. As soon as I can figure out how to put pictures up with these blogs, I will.

Tomorrow's post should be just as exciting for me to write about. Alex and I have already reserved our copies of the newest Harry Potter book which is due out tonight! We are so excited! Our local bookstore, Borders (formerly Waldenbooks) is having an extravaganza in the mall tonight. I believe it starts at 6 p.m., but we won't get there until swim practice is over for Alex and Joey. I'm sure we'll just eat at the mall so we can take advantage of all the festivities. I'll make sure I take my digital camera tonight so I can capture some of the magic to share with all of you tomorrow.

Until then . . . I hope your day is magical and you discover something amazing today, too.



Monday, July 9, 2007

Anna’s July 5th Blog entry

It’s hard to believe that 5 weeks of robotics summer camps are over. Alex did such a great job with his students. It was a terrific learning experience for everyone. I think Alex was most pleased with how well his programming class went. We had found a lot of different resources on the Internet, but one in particular worked really well. The students actually solved several types of mission problems and did a great job! It was interesting to see who picked what robotic system to work with. We actually had two students working with the new robotic system and two working with the older system. Alex was able to clearly explain the advantages of the new system and after working with the different robots, I think the students clearly understood what could be done with each system.

Alex is back in the water. He rejoined the Temple Area Swim Club and he’s now in level 2. He’s really enjoying being in the water with his swimming buddies. I asked him if he wanted to compete at the Junior Olympics this summer, but he decided he wasn’t ready for that yet. I think he would have done fine, since that’s a competition kids attend to establish times, but I am respecting his decision not to go. Having to swim in a 50 meter pool is a bit daunting. I think for his first competition, he’d do better in a 25 yard pool.

Dad and I are meeting regularly to bring things up to speed with Baby Hearts Press. I’m excited that he’s going to help me conclude the editing of The Heart of a Father. I’m still disappointed that I don’t have a few essays I wanted, but I don’t want to put off publishing it any longer. Dad thinks we can have it done by Christmas -- which would be great if we can make it happen.

I’ve started giving more speeches at Toastmasters again. I’m going to give one next week. I haven’t decided what exactly to talk about, but I have a feeling it will be about robotics. I learned a lot when we went to World Robofest and I have some wonderful pictures that I think I could use in a multi-media presentation. Toastmasters usually frowns on those kind of presentations, but I think it might be nice to add some variety to our meeting.

Frank is going to be speaking at Toastmasters next week, too. In addition to that, he’s been asked to attend a seminar for a major pharmaceutical company who he’s worked with in the past. I think he’s going to start doing more presentations for them and I think we’re going to work up some joint speeches to give as well. I got really excited about the idea of doing another heart conference and I’ve already been brainstorming about the speeches I’d like to write/give. I think it will be fun. I took a break from all of that to be a full-time mom/homeschooling mom, but it’s nice for me to have something like this to look forward to.

Being a mother in my position has been a challenge. I’ve been trying to balance being a good mother and wife with being a good advocate for the congenital heart defect world. I have worked on books, articles, websites and speeches to empower the CHD world, yet I have worried about how focusing my attention on that might affect my boys. I don’t want Alex’s heart defect to define who he is -- yet having a huge scar down the center of his chest is not something to be ignored or denied. We can’t pretend he doesn’t have a special heart. So how do I help the CHD world and still give Alex a childhood where he doesn’t feel stigmatized? That has been my challenge. The way I dealt with it for the last few years is to do things quietly, mostly during the wee hours of the night. Now I’m starting to come out of my cocoon. I hope it’s the right thing to do. Like with anything we parents choose to do -- only time will tell if it was the right thing. For now, I’m going with my head and my heart and they tell me that it’s okay to talk about things I’ve learned, share experiences and help to empower others. It feels good to feel more sure about that.

Maybe it’s because Alex is about to turn 13 that I’m realizing it’s okay for me to start letting go of him and doing my own thing. Joey will be 16 soon. My boys are growing up to be fine, young men. I guess it’s time to let them spread their wings a little bit without me hovering over them lest they fall or falter. It sure is a lot harder to watch my boys grow up than it was to grow up myself. I remember yearning to be older and off on my own realizing my dreams and making my own decisions. I’m not ready for the boys to do that quite yet, although Joey is exerting quite a bit of independence with driving the car. It’s amazing to watch him growing up and becoming a man. I feel so honored to be his mother. Now Alex is starting to ask to be taught to drive. I must admit, I’m glad he still has a few years before I have to go through this again! I think I’m a bit less panicked now than I was when Joey first started driving, but I still worry about him being on the road with all the crazy drivers who are out there. How will I handle it when both my sons are out there and I can’t protect them? Being a mother isn’t easy; each phase we go through with our children just brings us new challenges to deal with. Maybe this is why so many mothers pray for their children daily. There’s no way we can hope to do it all; we need God’s help.