Tag Archive | daughter Kaitlyn

When you let your 5-year-old choose where to turn: 5 lessons about life and writing

When my daughter was five, we began a tradition that continues to this day. She called them “The Martin Family Traveler Trips.” As a single mom who was blessed to have the same holidays and summer vacation as her daughter, we relished our times together.

Katy (4)

Katy, Age Five

 

Sometimes, though, we (or more accurately, I) would be struck by cabin fever and just need to get out. Money was tight, always, so big vacations were out of the question. But little day trips? Perfect.

We’d load up the Dodge Neon with snacks and drinks, and Katy would fill up the rest of the space with blankets, paper and pencil, and enough dolls babies to staff a world summit. Then I’d start driving.

Katy would choose the direction. Not only did this reinforce the concepts of “left” and “right,” but also taught her the value of observing her surroundings, patience, and looking for just the right moment. At first, her directions would come quickly, and we’d make endless loops just around our neighborhood. But as she grew, and learned to wait, we’d head farther and farther afield, and the rewards were great.

At some point during the trip, she’d give in to her sleepiness and nap for several hours. (A reward for me, at the time. A few hours of quiet is a luxury for any parent.)

We still do these trips when our schedules allow, only now we take turns driving and snoozing in the passenger seat. But sometimes I head out on my own, music blaring. Ryan Kelly’s Live for Life is the perfect song for a road trip, as are most of the songs on Byrne & Kelly’s albums.

When writer’s block hits me, or I’m struggling through some issue I may not even be able to name yet, driving with no particular destination in mind is therapeutic. The wide open roads allow for careful daydreaming, and introspection. curveThe unfamiliar scenery prompts new scenes, or better descriptors for a current scene. The scary, tight turns of the two-lane roads through the mountain passes gives me a different place to focus all my energy, which provides respite from whatever I’m working on. Especially when the road looks like this:

 

What I’ve learned from our Martin Family Traveler Trips:

  1. Fill up your tank before you go. Whether that’s a practical thing, like with fuel (you’ve never known fear until your gauge reads “empty”, and your car is at the top of a two-lane, pitch-black road, with ten miles before the next station). Or with snacks (isn’t life much better with snacks?) Or with the gift of the Spirit that provides refreshments of a whole ‘nother sort.
  2. It’s the journey, not the destination.  I know–a trite saying. But it’s true. The only caveat is that if you’ve got a five-year-old on the journey with you, make sure to hit the bathrooms as often as possible. (And for the love of God, don’t forget Baby Jennifer (Katy’s favorite doll) in that restroom.)
  3. Don’t force it. Our trips were a fairly equal measure of talkative five year old, road trip games, and quiet moments. Granted, most of the quiet moments were when Katy was sleeping, but still.
  4. Enjoy each other. Katy gets her sense of humor from me, but her vocabulary is entirely her own. Some of my favorite moments from the trips we took are when she’d play school with her babies, and listening to her teach the dolls their lessons. She’d tell them, “I’m going to show you the next letter, and you’ll learn it by my own gracious will.”  She cracked me up–still does.
  5. The best moments in life aren’t planned. Discovering a fun little store, or an awe-inspiring vista, or having the gift of your child making up a song from her journey–all gems from allowing my child to choose our path.

There are so many things in life that you must choose for your child, at least at the beginning. Giving her or him this one freedom, and responsibility, is incredibly rewarding.

I’d love to hear about any trips you’ve taken, and any lessons you’ve learned. Please feel free to comment below.

Great. Writing this post has gotten that song of hers stuck in my head. Thanks, Katy. Well, to share the love, I’m going to post it below.

Flexibilly ruler, flexibilly ruler,

Riding around in a limousine.

No trespassing, ke-ep out,

Pri-i-vate property.

Yep. Love that kid. And you’re welcome.

Part Three of an Interview with Thea Kelly, and a chance to win some cash!

One of these men is my Uncle Martin Regan.

One of these men is my Uncle Martin Regan in Enniscrone, Ireland, 1955.

Ireland has long fascinated me. The sheer rich history of the place and my connection to it through my mother have always caused me to seek out stories, music and conversations with those lucky enough to be from there.

This is part three of my interview with Thea Kelly, from Cape Clear Island in Ireland. Parts one & two are available through the previous posts.

You mentioned travelling. Have you been to any other countries?

I’ve only ever been to Germany to visit my grandmother. It’s a bit of a yearly tradition to be honest! I’m going there at the end of July again to see her. Because I’ve only ever been there, that bites in big time into my craving to travel! I want to go everywhere!!

My other ambition is to travel the world! I keep a diary of all the places I discover and plan to visit them when I am older. Places such as Dinant in Belgium, or Tropea in the south of Italy. My number one destination is the U.S though. Ever since wanting to work for NASA, and having a unusual interest in WWE (World Wrestling Entertainment) I gained a bit of an accent and a strong desire to travel there. Someday I will! 🙂

Do you have any questions for me?

Thea: Do you or did you have an American Dream? 
It’s funny that you should ask about the American Dream. We don’t really call it that–it’s just usually mentioned in terms of goals, or ambitions. I was actually listening to a fellow Kelly’s music (Ryan Kelly of Celtic Thunder, from Northern Ireland) and he has a great song he wrote called “American Dream.” I think that’s something people from outside the US call it.
For me, when I was about your age, I wanted to be an elementary school teacher, get married and have seven kids. (I’m the middle of seven, myself). But my dreams changed. I became an American Sign Language interpreter, and worked in schools for nearly twenty years.

The Martin Family, waaay back when.

The Martin Family, waaay back when.

And I only have one daughter. 🙂
My gorgeous daughter

My gorgeous daughter

I guess my dream now is to become successful enough at my writing to support myself with that income, and continue to try to entertain people with my books. By the way, I’m honored that my little translation project was your strangest assignment. 🙂 I love languages, and am always interested in learning more.
What’s high school like? I’ve always wanted to experience it! 
The education system sounds a bit different than yours. Education is free here until the age of 18, or 19, unless the student has special needs o disabilities. Then they can stay until they are 21. High school is either for grades 9-12, or 10-12, which translates to ages 15-18. Students have six classes per semester, and are allowed to choose which teachers and which hour (we call them periods) they would like to take, but have to satisfy requirements of the state for which classes. English, Math, Science, World Languages, Fine Arts, Shop, Physical Education, and History are all required, but most students satisfy the requirements by the time they become a senior and can choose their electives then. Classes are about an hour long, with occasional short days for school-wide assemblies, or teacher training.
College, then, for us is after graduation, and students must pay or earn scholarships or grants to attend, as well as passing the required tests and applying to the college/university of their choice.
Do many natural disasters happen where you are from? Like volcanoes or earthquakes? 
We do have some natural disasters here. We’ve had several earthquakes; the biggest one was in 2000, I think, on Ash Wednesday. It caused lots of damage. We’re supposedly due for another one soon. Our quakes are different than the kind that occur in California, because of the way the plates are stacked under the earth.
We’ve also had a few small tornadoes, which has only just occurred recently. We often have impressive thunder & lightning storms, and we flood often.
And, oh yeah, Mt. St. Helens blew up on May 18, 1980. That mountain, as well as Mt. Rainier and several others in the Cascades and Olympics are active volcanoes, but had been quiet until Mt. St Helens blew her top. I remember watching the huge ash cloud rise into the sky and come our way. We were lucky, though. We only got traces of the ash from the eruption. The people living on the other side of the mountain were pretty much buried in it.

Mt. St. Helens

Mt. St. Helens

Would you ever come to visit Ireland, and if so which area?
I would love to visit Ireland! That’s one of my dreams, for sure. My mother’s family is from County Mayo. Her parents moved to England, where my mom was born and raised, and then she emigrated to New York, when she was just sixteen. So I would love to visit. I feel a connection to the land, and the people there. County Mayo would probably be my first stop, but I’d really like to spend several months exploring everywhere. I hear Bray is a particularly nice area, and I’d love to try some of the trails that Ireland is famous for.
The rain definitely wouldn’t bother me. 🙂 In fact, my mom and dad decided to settle here because our weather, and all our green, reminded her of her home, and of Ireland, where she visited each summer.
From the previous answer regarding slang used in Ireland:
What does “throwing shade” mean?
“Throwing shade” is a term they use here for giving someone a hard time, and not usually in a good way. It might be a snide remark, especially one made under one’s breath, or an eyeroll,rolling eyes something like that. It can be combined into other terms; for example, my colleague here said “such shady boots” when another employee mentioned the schedule in a negative way (which is something we create).
I often misuse it, so I’m probably not the best judge. And my daughter (she’s 21) won’t let me use it at all. 🙂
I want to thank Thea for graciously agreeing to answer my nosy questions. I love her enthusiasm! This, then, is an open invitation to Thea and her mom to visit. We’d love to host you here, my daughter and I.
*************************
Calling all musicians!
In my previous post, I included the song that “Molly” wrote for “Cáel” for The Celtic Captive. Here’s the challenge:  Create the melody for the song and perform it in any style. Shoot me the video on either my facebook page @https://www.facebook.com/jmartinstories or send it to me by email: jmartinstories@gmail.com, or just post it in the comments below.
The winning two entries will win a $100 movie prize package, and two weeks of dedicated tweets/publicity for the video.
Be sure to leave your contact info so I can get in touch with you!
Good luck! I’m looking forward to hearing your music!
Jeanie

Three things an Irish teen thinks you should know before you visit Ireland–an interview with Thea Kelly

In my second book, The Celtic Captive, my protagonist Cáel Moore’s first language is Irish, having grown up in a Gaeltacht (an Irish speaking community). Though fluent at both Irish and English, whenever he is disoriented, feeling ill, or is in the, um, romantic way, Irish is his go-to language. When Molly Evans first meets him, he is feeling all three of those things.

The only two Irish phrases my mom, an Irish girl from County Mayo, by way of Maltby, England, taught me are “go raibh maith agat” which means “thank you,” and another phrase I can’t mention here. 🙂 So, I needed an expert to help me ensure Cáel’s language was correct.

That person is Thea Ní Cheallaigh (Kelly) from Oileán Chléire or Cape Clear Island in the southwest corner of Ireland. Thea, and Thea’s mother Dorothee Uí Cheallaigh, have a translation business called Ionad Foghlama Chléire. “Cape” as Thea calls it, is a Gaeltacht. It is also a 45-minute boat ride from the mainland.

Thea Kelly and her friends, Síle and Lucy

Thea Kelly and her friends, Síle and Lucy

Thea was kind enough to answer my many questions regarding her life as an Irish teen, and her view of Americans, in particular.

Here is part one of the interview. Part two will be posted next week, on July 8th.

So what’s it like to grow up in a Gaeltacht?

Growing up in a Gaeltacht isn’t much different from growing up anywhere else in Ireland to be honest. I think the real special aspect about where I live however is that fact that it is an island! One really has to adjust to coping with this certain lifestyle, I was born into it so I know nothing else. Continue reading