Thursday, August 23, 2018

Comments From My Readers...

A few days ago, I decided to go back through all of the text messages, Facebook posts, e-mails, and even verbal conversations that I've had with and from my readers, since they started commenting on my newest book, "From This Day Forward. I've decided to type them all out, and over the next few weeks, begin to display them on my website. I think my readers will enjoy seeing what they've shared with me, as well as what others have had to say, as well.

As I work through all of the wonderful comments I decided to share a short video with you. I thought it might be a neat way to verbally show some of my appreciation to those who've shared theirs with me. Here's the video link:



Comments have been so positive. Here are five, just to tide you over.
  1. I love the interview format of "From This Day Forward..." Katie lets the story unfold so naturally. Her patience and intuition make it so unique and moving. I loved it!
  2. Such a beautiful story, and so wonderfully told.
  3. The gentleman in Chapter One reminds me of my own grandpa.
  4. I found I could relate a piece of myself to each of the eight stories.
  5. "From This Day Forward..." is such a beautiful read! 
Hopefully this short video has whet your appetite for some good readin'. Let me know if you have any questions or comments.

Allow me to wrap this up by saying that when a writer (like me) takes a chance, and writes a book, we open our hearts, minds, and souls to our readers. We're never sure what will happen, or who will end up reading, or being touched in some way. God has been so good to me throughout this process. I was given the ability, the motivation, and the endurance to create this project. And I trust that He will continue to bring me the readers who need, or who will benefit from these stories. I have no doubt about that. 

Until we meet again, Happy Reading! 


Katie Kolberg Memmel is the author of three books: "Five Fingers, Ten Toes - A Mother's Story of Raising a Child Born with a Limb Difference"; "Silly Stories and Sentimental Stuff"; and "From This Day Forward..." For more information about Katie, her family, and her writing, visit her website at: www.katiekolbergmemmel.com  






Monday, August 20, 2018

Tired of bad news about youth and our world? This book is for you!


Today on "Katie's View," I’m honored to be highlighting a special guest. 

Back in 2010, when I was still fairly new to Writing Class participation, Gail Grenier became my teacher. Gail was in charge the day I became inspired to write Five Fingers, Ten Toes – A Mother’s Story of Raising a Child Born with a Limb Difference. She, along with my class at that time, saw me through that process – the happy, the sad, and the in-between. Over the years, her help and encouragement have been most valuable to me.

Gail is no longer my teacher, so it was interesting to learn that her latest book, Young Voices from Wild Milwaukee – the Urban Ecology Center and Me, took a similar format to my own recent book, From This Day Forward. Sure, the subject matter is very different; but at the books’ cores, we both held interviews, and waded through that process independently.

Gail and I decided to exchange books, and then interview each other all about the who’s, what’s, where’s, when’s, why’s and how’s of our current book projects. We also consented to post each other’s interview on our personal blogs, sharing it with our readers. It’s always fun to see the similarities and differences of such a process.

I'd like to thank Gail for her interest in From This Day Forward. I’ve certainly enjoyed learning more about Young Voices from Wild Milwaukee – the Urban Ecology Center and Me.  With that said, here we go!

Katie:  Welcome, Gail. Let’s start with you describing what your new book is all about, and how you got the idea for it.

Gail: The book is Young Voices from Wild Milwaukee: The Urban Ecology Center and Me. It’s an oral history based on interviews I did with 15 young people about how nature and a mentor changed their lives. 

The idea came from an experience I had years ago, when I led a small group of middle school children in after-school nature outings in Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin. We called ourselves the “Nature Nuts” and we each chose a nature name. One was Hawk, one was Willow - you get the idea. We did simple things like pick and eat wild grapes that were growing alongside the woods behind their school. One day we took a walk in the Tamarack swamp, as winter was breaking into spring. Unfortunately, the path we forged was more mud than ice and one girl, Rachel, destroyed her brand-new pair of sneakers, and got in trouble with her mother. We laugh about it now, but small activities can have long shadows.  Rachel hiked the Appalachian Trail after she graduated from college. I believe she went into environmental education.

My young friends in Nature Nuts were like me - happy doing anything outdoors. I dreamed for years of writing a book about kids and nature. I considered doing fiction, but I don’t prefer that. I find real life so amazing, why gild it? Finally, a friend who works at Milwaukee’s Urban Ecology Center (UEC) inspired me to interview young people whose lives were turned around after the UEC became part of their lives.

Katie: What do you mean “turned around”?

Gail: I interviewed people ages 15 through 40, and for all of them, nature was a life-changer. Most of them loved being outside from early childhood, but were delighted (like my friend Rachel) to learn that nature could be a part of their adult working lives. Others had more dramatic stories of being “turned around.”

For instance, Shawn was on a bad path. When you’re a poor kid in the inner city, fun things cost money and you don’t have any. There’s not much to do, and you can be drawn to others who do graffiti and other vandalism. The UEC showed Shawn how to have fun for free, and he became a leader there. Shawn’s cousin Roger said that he, too, would probably have been more swayed by bad influences had he not found the Center.

A young mom, Katrina, became so depressed after she was robbed that she closed herself inside. Her sons took her to the UEC, where she found a community of caring people.

Lee didn’t speak until butterflies became his “speech therapists.”

Jennifer calls her love of nature a spiritual experience, and Erick links his love of nature to becoming a kinder person. Terrance grew closer to his daughters through gardening with them.

They, and the others I spoke to, agreed that learning about nature helped them enjoy life more and appreciate the simple (free) beauty around them. They all have a great sense of humor and share funny stories about animals and camping, misadventures skiing and canoeing, you name it.

Katie: The stories are so moving. How did you translate the interviews into book form?

Gail: I interviewed most of the people with a tape recorder and notepad, until the tape recorder broke. Then I just used a notepad, like I did when I was a newspaper reporter. I transcribed the interviews, omitting my questions, so their words flowed like stories. Sometimes I rearranged the order of paragraphs, but I didn’t mess with their words. I let all interviewees read their accounts in order to make additions or corrections. Some supplied pictures of themselves, or I took pictures myself. Besides current photos, I tried to get pictures of each person as a child in nature.

As time went on, their lives changed (for instance, they went from junior high to high school or from high school to college). I gave them opportunities to update their stories. The entire process covered a timespan of four years, during which I took a whole year off of the project in order to move from Menomonee Falls to Milwaukee. Sometimes I wondered if the book would ever happen. I’m glad it finally did! It took a lot of belief on everyone’s part.

Katie: Who is the book’s target audience?

Gail: It’s for readers of all ages, say middle school through adult.

Katie: I noticed that most of the pictures inside are in color, which is such a treat!

Gail: Yes, that’s something that surprised me. I went with HenschelHAUS Publishing on this one, and I thought they could afford maybe a few shots in color. But my publisher went with 100-percent color, unless the original was black and white. The pictures are fabulous! Beautiful young people and lovely shots of nature.

Katie:  Because my readers are from all over the world, why would someone read the book if they’re not from Milwaukee, or don’t know about the Urban Ecology Center? 

Gail: Although the book has a local flavor, it’s for any person who has an interest in nature. The lessons can be translated to any neighborhood and any city. Julia, one of the story-tellers in the book, talks about little kids who ask “Will walking on leaves hurt me?” There is a great ignorance, and even fear of nature, out there. Kids want to play outside, but sometimes they don’t know how. That’s where a mentor can come in. We can all – children and adults – be mentors for each other…

…and we’ll be the richer for it.

You can find a link to Gail’s blog at her website, www.GailGrenierSweet.com.
Besides Young Voices from Wild Milwaukee, she is the author of Dog Woman, Don’t Worry Baby, Dessert First, and Calling All Horses, all available on Amazon.com. https://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=gail+grenier








Friday, August 17, 2018

New Kid(s) on the Block...?

I’m fairly active on social media, and mid-August is definitely the time for families to get all abuzz, readying themselves for going “Back to School.” I know that some kids have already returned to the classroom, but here in Waukesha, Wis. they still have a couple of weeks.

This time of year usually makes me remember when my own kids were heading back. But this year I’ve also been thinking about myself – when I was the one going back to school in the fall. I’m especially thinking about 1973 – the year I was entering the seventh grade. I was about to enter a whole new school with a whole new cast of characters. I guess I feel I have a little bit of wisdom to impart on this subject, if I may...?

In the city where I grew up, there were 12 or 13 elementary schools which served 4K thru sixth grade. Young teens then attended one of three junior high schools (a.k.a. middle schools) from seventh thru ninth grades. Two high schools in town (East and West) eventually served all of us.

Apparently, my family lived in that one remote area of town that had to make concessions. Our house was located approximately the same distance from each high school (three-ish miles?) and so our boundaries blurred. For junior high, we attended Hawthorne, where 2/3 of its population eventually headed to East. I was in the 1/3 heading for West.

Overall, I enjoyed junior high. Sure, like most 12-14 year-olds I was bullied a bit – especially early on when I needed to prove myself as the only girl trumpet player in the band (for more on my bullying experience:    http://katiekolbergmemmel.blogspot.com/2013/01/bullying-just-some-thoughts.html ), but once the director and those around me saw I could play, a certain respect was established. Not only was I a band member, but also gave up some of my lunch periods in order to sing in the choir. After school, I joined Modern Dance, and loved making up routines with the other girls. We formed a fan club, and attended all of the football and basketball games. On rare occasions, when the school held a dance or a festival, I loved and participated with all of that as well.

By the end of ninth grade, the inevitable pending split loomed. I felt that my world was about to end. Most of the friends I’d made at Hawthorne were going to East. I was the only one in that group of a dozen girls that was going to West. I was sure my heart would break. On the last day of ninth grade, one of the girls hosted a party in her backyard. When my mother came to pick me up, I cried so hard… absolutely sobbed.  

Speaking of my mother… my parents were not the type who would have ever made a phone call or filled out paperwork on my behalf to request a school change, or request anything other than whatever the rule was. So, because our family home fell in West’s district, West would be our school, and we best make it work. I’m sure she felt a little bad for me; I mean nobody enjoys seeing their children cry, right? But when the phone rang later that afternoon, and our neighbor lady asked if I could babysit that night, Mom insisted I go make the money. No sense sitting in my room crying, dwelling on what had happened, and what would never be. At that time, I can remember thinking her hard-as-nails approach was rather harsh... but was it? 

During that summer (1976) I had an absolute blast. I was awarded a scholarship to attend a two-week music clinic in Madison, where we stayed in the dorms, ate in the dining halls, attended music classes, and performed final concerts. When I got there, I didn’t know anybody. By the time I left, I had made life-long friends. There is one girl (now woman) I met there who I count as one of my best friends, to this day. A few weeks later, I served as a counselor at 4-H camp. I took my guitar, and led the singing at night, around the campfire. After a few more experiences such as these, I began to realize that it’s actually fun sometimes to not go places in a big group of friends. Sometimes, when we go somewhere by ourselves, we meet more new people, and make more new friends.

By the time I got to West that fall and began tenth grade, I felt more comfortable about meeting new people. Yes, it took a little time because good friendships don’t happen overnight. The first group of girls I met did not become my best friends, but they helped to bridge some of my spare time. Eventually, we get a feel for things, and gravitate toward those around whom we feel the most comfortable. Shortly after the holidays, I was assigned to a project in my German class with a couple of girls. I swear… I never laughed so hard in my life. The three of us became fast friends, and started to spend a lot of time together, both in and out of school. These two are also both good friends of mine, to this day. Finally, because high school band is such a big commitment, some of my very best friends were also in band. The guy trumpet player, with whom I shared my music stand in tenth grade, remains one of my best friends. Todd and I attended his son’s wedding last fall, 2017. 

I agree that there can be awkward first impressions, and we can feel strange or left out at times. But we need to keep trying. These experiences can open our eyes, and make us feel compassion for “the new kid(s).” When we’re always comfortable, when we’re always with our own friends, we’re hesitant to open up our safe little circles to someone new. I’d like to say that that kind of thinking can be a mistake. We may not hit it off with every new kid, but it’s right to let them know they’re welcome anyway.

Think about this… when we’re with the same people all of the time, when we all share the exact same experiences, there’s not that much to talk about. But when you go away for a bit, and come back with new perspectives and experiences, it can be very interesting – AND a fantastic feeling.

Remember, times that test us make us stronger. I found that I’m good as part of a group. I also found that I’m possibly even better sometimes when I’m by myself. I think that the balance can be found in that old song/saying, “Make new friends, but keep the old. One is silver and the other is gold.”

As you send your kids back to school this fall, I wish them God’s every blessing – whether they’ll be surrounded by current friends, or whether they’re thrust into making a whole new group. Whatever they learn, I believe they’ll be better for it.

Here's to a brand new school year!



Katie Kolberg Memmel is the author of three books: “Five Fingers, Ten Toes – A Mother’s Story of Raising a Child Born with a Limb Difference”; “Silly Stories and Sentimental Stuff”; and “From This Day Forward…” All are available in paperback and in electronic form. You can order her books and learn more about Katie, her family, and her writing at her website: 

Friday, August 10, 2018

There's a Brand New Little Girl in Town!


There’s a brand new little girl in town!  

Unfortunately, she doesn’t live in OUR town, but there’s a brand new little girl in a town in Oklahoma! We know first-hand that this is true because we got to spend time with her (and her big brother) all last week, right after she was born.

For those of you who have no idea what in the world I’m talking about, our daughter, Megan, gave birth last week (July 30th) to a baby girl. Megan and her husband, Joe, named the baby “Annie Grace.” She was 6 lbs, 10 oz, and 19 inches long. What a sweet little pink bundle she is!

When Jake, their (now) three-year-old was born, Todd and I didn’t go to visit them for two weeks. They’d wanted to use Joe’s paternity leave from work, and asked us to come to Connecticut (where they lived in 2015) once Joe went back to work. This time they knew they’d need us to watch Jake while they were in the hospital, sooo…

Todd and I drove to Tulsa on Saturday, July 28th. With a couple of stops along the way, it generally takes a solid 12 hours to get there. We arrived early evening, and were still able to share supper with them, and enjoy some time together before bed. On Sunday morning, we all went to church together. Joe made burgers for lunch, Jake (and maybe even I) took a little nap, and then we all went to their neighborhood pool. Around 6, we went over to their town’s Riverwalk, and enjoyed a nice dinner out – the last one they’d have as a family of three before the baby was born.  

Joe and Megan left for the hospital about 6 a.m. Monday morning. Todd and I took Jake to his little pre-school program, and everyone excitedly asked us about the baby. It was wonderful to get Joe’s notification that Annie was born at 9:04 a.m. and that all had gone well with the birth. Though all had looked good on tests, ultrasounds and scans, it’s still a relief to confirm all is well… for real.

Todd and I had promised Jake we’d take him shopping for his birthday present, so after school we let him pick out some new cars. My oh my, how that child loooves cars! We really appreciated that a friend of Megan’s offered to watch Jake for us that evening, so we could go to the hospital and see the baby. When we entered the room, she was in her little cart, all wrapped up in a pink blanket and infant hat, complete with a bow. What a sweet little package she made. What amazed us the most was the amount of black hair that hat was covering. My goodness, how does one even begin to describe so much ‘cuteness’!?!?  

It was nice to be able to talk to Joe and Megan, and hear all about their experiences of that day. They seemed tired, but very happy too – now a family of four. As planned, we took Jake to the hospital the next morning. When he entered the room, Joe was sitting on a large chair with the baby in his arms. Jake climbed up onto his knee to take in the new scene, up close and personal.

It makes you wonder, doesn’t it? I mean… obviously you tell your older kids there’s going to be a new little brother or sister coming along, but at age three, do they even comprehend what that means? Looking at pictures of babies in books is one thing, but a real live pink bundle, cradled in your dad’s arms…? Well… maybe that reality needed a bit of processing. Jake sat very still for a while, looked out of the window, then finally smiled, and became interested.  

Joe carefully placed Jake in bed next to Megan, and we snapped some nice family shots. With some help, he even sat still and held the baby for a few minutes. All in all, a very good first meeting. The only time things got a bit shaky was when it was time to say “Good-bye” to his parents that day. I think Jake thought he should be staying, or they should be leaving, or anything but him leaving without them. But… after a few minutes, he was okay again. 

We took him to McDonald’s for lunch, and got him a Happy Meal. He ate the fries and the Go-gurt, but left his McNuggets for Todd and me. The three of us also went to see a WWII submarine that is “docked?” in Muskogee. It’s kind of strange… Back in the 70’s, the sub (USS Batfish) was brought up the Arkansas River with two barges. They dug a channel to bring it to its resting place - a huge hollowed-out field in eastern Oklahoma. As boaters, we are always interested in stories such as these. Jake seemed to think it was neat, walking through the narrow old hallways, but we didn’t take much time there. Perhaps we’ll go back when we can spend more time. 

On Wednesday morning, we got word from Megan that they were letting them come home later that day. Sooo… we took Jake to the mall, and he helped to “Build a Bear” for his new baby sis. We also stopped at a small airport nearby where we sat and watched the smaller planes take off and land.

When Todd and I were on vacation in June, we bought some plastic dinosaur shapes with which we made popsicles. We had mixed up some grape juice, and froze it. We all laughed really hard at the T-Rex and Stegosaurus pops. Jake loved this silly activity, and I highly recommend it. *Note, fruit juice works better than Kool-aid.  

The kids got home around 5:00, and though tired, seemed excited and ready to be there. It was such a joy to have everyone in the same room, and to freely snuggle and pass our newborn granddaughter amongst each other.

On Thursday, Todd and I took Jake to the Aquarium, which was highlighted on The Today Show this year during Shark Week. After lunch, Jake dozed off in the car, so we drove around and saw some parts of the Tulsa area we hadn’t seen before. When we got home, we all hung out in the front yard, chatted with neighbors who wanted to hold the baby, etc. Todd grilled pork tenderloin and I smashed up some potatoes for dinner.

On Friday morning, Todd and I felt privileged to witness a particularly sweet moment. Annie was on the floor and Jake gently laid down next to her, just to look at her. It was quite dear, and I believe made us all happy that he seemed to be adjusting so well. After that, Todd and I took him to the pool where we engaged in a game of “Crocodile Grampa.” 

We had cooked, cleaned, and done dishes. We spent quality time with Jake and the family. The week went by quickly, and before we knew it, it was Saturday morning, and time for us to head home. Leaving is never easy, but honestly, things seemed to be in good order. Joe still had a whole week off, so Todd and I knew Megan and the kids would be in good hands.

As we drove northeast through Missouri and Illinois, I reflected back on all we’d done and witnessed that week. I closed my eyes and said a prayer, thanking God for Annie, her safe birth, good health for both her and for Megan, for future smooth adjustments with Jake, for Joe and Megan’s solid marriage, and for everything else a Gramma can think of. Suffice it to say our family has much to be thankful for…

#BlessingsAbound

Katie Kolberg Memmel is the author of three books: “Five Fingers, Ten Toes – A Mother’s Story of Raising a Child Born with a Limb Difference”; “Silly Stories and Sentimental Stuff”; and “From This Day Forward…” For more information about Katie, her family, and her writing, visit her website at www.katiekolbergmemmel.com 



Sunday, June 10, 2018

Well hello!

Today,  "Katie's View," has an announcement to make:

Starting now, until the end of June, I am offering a percentage of every book I sell, to go to the Lucky Fin Project. Here's what's what...

For several years, the LFP has been coordinating and organizing a big summer picnic. People from all over the country try to make it to Detroit in July, for the big 'meet-up.' Families mark their calendars for the event, while the snow still flies. Kids with limb differences (and adults, too) get so excited to see their friends from past years, and of course, to make new ones.The support, networking, and friendship-making that happens during a weekend like this, is indescribable, and very precious.


Sometimes it can be difficult for a family to find the finances, and just can't attend. So what I'm offering is this...

I now have three books that I've written. "Five Fingers, Ten Toes...," is the story of my son, Tony Memmel, who was born with a limb difference. He's done quite well in life; if I'd only known when he was an infant, I could have saved myself so much worry. But with God's help and guidance, we've all come out on a very, very bright side. "Silly Stories and Sentimental Stuff," is an easy read. It includes short essays and stories (some silly, some sad) about love, family, and life in general. "From This Day Forward..." is my brand new book. It's based on interviews with people about their real-life love stories and marriages. Early reviews are coming in as very positive! I promise to contribute a portion of each sale this month, and help to ensure someone be able to get to that picnic. 

If you've been hemming and hawing, and just haven't gotten around to picking up one of my books  yet, this deal may sound very appealing to you. As always, all of the books will be available through Amazon (links are also on my website) as both a paperback, and an electronic version. I will count each sale toward this promotion. OR... we can arrange a personal exchange. Private message me, and we can figure all of that out.

Let's see what we can do. The way I see it, it's a win/win. You get to read a new book, while still supporting the Lucky Fin Project, a fantastic purpose.

As always, thanks for reading! 

God's Blessings!

Katie
kkmemmel@gmail.com
Katie Kolberg Memmel - "Katie's View" on Facebook
Katie Kolberg Memmel - Twitter

https://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_ss_c_1_20?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=katie+kolberg+memmel&sprefix=Katie+Kolberg+Memmel%2Caps%2C197&crid=34CJAK3CJVGI3

#FiveFingersTenToes    #LuckyFinProject    #LuckyFinsRock 


Katie Kolberg Memmel is the author of three books: "Five Fingers, Ten Toes - A Mother's Story of Raising a Child Born with a Limb Difference," "Silly Stories and Sentimental Stuff," and "From This Day Forward..." For more information about Katie and her books, visit her website at www.katiekolbergmemmel.com  






Thursday, May 31, 2018

Video Two - Who Are These People, Anyway???

Hello, Dear Readers!

This is my second installment in my new video series, "Katie's View, Too." I've titled it, "Who Are These People, Anyway???"

In my new book, "From This Day Forward," I chose to interview eight individuals and couples from a variety of age groups and life circumstances. Throughout my years of getting to know them, and communicating with them, I've found their stories unique and interesting. I guess I figured you might, too!

You can see me, and hear what I have to say by watching the video now: 

 

For more information about "From This Day Forward..." check out my website at www.katiekolbergmemmel.com

As always, thanks for reading and watching. I hope to hear from you soon!

Love, Katie

Katie Kolberg Memmel is the author of three books:  "Five Fingers, Ten Toes - A Mother's Story of Raising a Child Born with a Limb Difference," "Silly Stories and Sentimental Stuff," and "From This Day Forward..." All books are available as either a paperback or electronic version. For more information, go to Katie's website at: www.katiekolbergmemmel.com  

Monday, May 21, 2018

Video One - From This Day Forward Intro...

Hello!

Perhaps you remember that last week when I wrote to y'all, I mentioned trying out a new video format to accompany my blog. I settled on the name, "Katie's View, Too" and decided to give it a whirl. Man... was it fun! I'm not sure that a middle-aged woman, sitting in her living room (family room, sun room, kitchen, office, and basically trying out every room in her house) should have THIS much fun... but fun I had!

I think I'll let the video (in other words, me) "talk" for itself. Here you have it...


As always, leave me a note with your thoughts. Oh, and as always, please be kind. Most of all, I hope it brings at least one smile - although, I count four smiles, myself.

Happy Reading and Viewing!

God's Blessings,

Katie

Katie Kolberg Memmel is the author of three books. "Five Fingers, Ten Toes - A Mother's Story of Raising a Child Born with a Limb Difference," "Silly Stories and Sentimental Stuff," and "From This Day Forward..." All are available through Amazon as either an electronic download, or as a paperback version. For more information about Katie and her writing, visit her website at: www.katiekolbergmemmel.com