Thursday, October 27, 2016

7 Reasons I Voted Early


7 Reasons Why I Voted Early | Navigating Hectivity By Micki Bare
My 2016 sticker for voting!
There is a thrill that accompanies waiting until election day to vote. Waking up early, heading out to your designated polling station, waiting in a very long line for hours, being late to work, enduring bladder cramps because if you head to the restroom you'll lose your place in line — you know the drill. 

I used to love the excitement of voting on election day. But as I grew older and my life grew more hectic, the excitement dissolved into intense stress. Now I vote early. Here's why.

1. It is less stressful. As I said, there is no pressure to get to work on time, the lines aren't as long, and I won't miss out on voting if I have to leave and come back the next day. I don't go on the first or last day of early voting, because of the crowds. Rather, I find an odd time, usually mid-morning, during which crowds are likely low at the same time my schedule is less hectic. 

2. Someone on Facebook pissed me off. Yes, I admit I let someone's stupid, asinine post get under my skin. Basically, he told those who don't support his candidates not to vote. One of his "friends" then posted in the comments, "...or procreate." This upset me greatly and motivated me to want to vote as soon as possible. What was even more disturbing was the fact that this was an educated person who is well-respected in the community — or should I say "was" well-respected. 

3. I like to be early. When I show up for a hair, doctor, work or any other kind of appointment, I have to wait at least 15 minutes because I arrive so early. I get this from my father, who was always early enough to snag the first parking place at a major event — I learned to stow snacks in my pockets, as this also meant it'd be forever before it was time to eat again. 

4. I like to be done. I do not like tasks hanging over my head. I love the feeling of accomplishment. I make lists so I can strike through what I've completed. Being done gives me a rush almost as great as that first cup of coffee.

5. The parking is better. This year, the early voting poll nearest my house was in a large, old shopping center with tons of parking. It was easy to access and I had no problem finding a place to park. When I was done, I slipped right back out. It was gloriously accessible.

6. There is less harassment. There were no candidates or candidate representatives hovering outside the polls during early voting — at least not where I voted. I did not head into the polls with pockets full of magnets, post cards, stickers, emory boards, pens or other junk-drawer fillers that have no shot at swaying my vote. Rather, one of the business owners in the shopping center was handing out free one-week passes to his gym. I couldn't think of anything more appropriate to give voters during this year's election. 

7. The feeling of hope lingers. Rather than packing all the excitement into one day, I have a couple of weeks to draw out the euphoria one feels after having voted. I tie that feeling to the glimmer of hope that those I supported just might win as I mute campaign commercials and toss campaign mailbox fillers in the recycling bin without giving them a glance. I liken it to celebrating one's birthday for an entire birthday month rather than just one day.

Whether you vote early, like I did, or you wait until Nov. 8, please make time to vote. Regardless of who you support for each office, you should always exercise your right as an American and vote. 

And if you do wait until election day, you can think of me while you're waiting in line wishing you hadn't had that second cup of coffee. I'll be having a less-hectic day as I watch it all from afar. I might even be watching from the gym as I work off election year stress — for free. 

Micki Bare, mother of three, wife, daughter & writer is the author of Thurston T. Turtle children's books. 
Email: mickibare (at) gmail.com
Connect with Micki on Google+
Like Thurston T. Turtle on Facebook
Follow Micki on Twitter: @TurtleAuthor
View Micki's pics on Instagram @mickibare
Writing Samples

Copyright 2016 Michele Bare

Monday, September 19, 2016

Chocolate Flavored Drink Lifts Panthers to Win


Yoo-hoo for the Panthers | Navigating Hectivity by Micki Bare
Our "lucky charm" game day soft drink
helps Cam and team win games.
There will be many iterations of analysis to explain why the Panthers won yesterday against the 49ers. While we heard about the heat and humidity factor during the game, as well as who was connecting with whom and which players were having an off day, you have to know by now there is more to winning a football game than how well the players played.

When you listen to the commentators and read what the sports writers have to say, you are only getting half the story. The journalists, you see, are merely reporting on the athletes. And we all know it takes more than highly paid, muscularly fit athletes to win games. It also takes dedicated fans.

And that is why I must apologize to our beloved home team, the Carolina Panthers. To understand where I, as a fan, went wrong, I must take you back to last season.

During my youngest child's freshman year in college, he started football season with a case of Yoo-hoo drinks and a dream. That dream was to see the Carolina Panthers make it to the Super Bowl. They were on a hot winning streak and, a year ago, my son was sure they could make it all the way to the big game.

Around game three, my son called me in a panic. "I'm out of Yoo-hoo!" he exclaimed. While most college kids simply cry out for more money, my child was in desperate need of more Yoo-hoo. Why? Because he began associating the chocolate flavored soft drink with Panther wins. 

After that call, our whole family got into the Yoo-hoo spirit. When the Panthers played, we wore our team gear, put our chips and salsa in Carolina Panther blue bowls and broke out a case of chilled Yoo-hoo.
Pups in Panthers Jerseys | Navigating Hectivity by Micki Bare
Our pups don Panther gear on
game day now, as well.

For the record, we were out of Yoo-hoo during that heart-and-soul-crushing loss to the Falcons.

We did, in fact, have plenty of Yoo-hoo on hand for the Super Bowl, but I'm guessing there were other fans who fell short on that frustratingly sad evening.

But I digress. During the 2016 season opener, my youngest child was busily toiling away in class while we watched the game against Denver. We had no Yoo-hoo in the house. I wasn't even wearing my Panthers t-shirt. 

Blame it on it being a busy weeknight game, our hectic lives — it doesn't really matter. Bottom line, we were a disappointment to our team. We let them down. Say what you will about what the players might have done wrong that evening, they were clearly not fully to blame. I am deeply sorry.

Even as the final seconds drifted off the clock in Denver, I knew what had happened. Therefore, when the 49ers came to town, we were ready. We had a brand new case of Yoo-hoo just for Sunday's game. I baked cheesy ranch chicken bread balls. We even bought our dogs Panthers jerseys. And, as you witnessed, the Panthers pulled together for the win. 

While we suffered one loss at the beginning of the season, the rest of this year can still be as magical as last year. But fans, we need to keep our heads in the game. Your family's secret weapon might not be Yoo-hoo. Maybe it's a special appetizer or the particular seats in which you sit around the big screen.

Whatever your ritual, make sure you prepare for and do it, religiously, every week for our Panthers. They can't win alone. They need us. So what do you say fans? Are you with me? Are you committed to making this another magical Panthers season? 

#KeepPounding

Micki Bare, mother of three, wife, daughter & writer is the associate editor of Piedmont Parent and author of Thurston T. Turtle children's books. 
Email: mickibare (at) gmail.com
Connect with Micki on Google+
Like Thurston T. Turtle on Facebook
Follow Micki on Twitter: @TurtleAuthor
View Micki's pics on Instagram @mickibare

Copyright 2016 Michele Bare

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Only the Beginning: Pitching My Novel


Counting Down to Writer's Digest Conference | Navigating Hectivity by Micki Bare
I began counting down the days in February.
Six months prior to the 2016 Writer's Digest Conference in New York City, I was sitting on my bed on a Saturday morning with a cup of tea and my laptop. Hubby was milling about the room, doing this and that with dogs and laundry and other lazy Saturday morning tasks. Suddenly, something deep inside my soul distracted me from sharing my weekly column on social media. I opened a new window in my browser and searched "writer's conferences."

The timing was right for the 2016 Writer's Digest Conference. It was six months away, but I could go ahead and register — I could commit, right then and there. I looked up through the top lens of my bifocals at Hubby and coyly asked, "Do you mind if I go to New York City in August for a writer's conference?"

Five months prior to this need to push my writing to the next level, I'd heard a debut "New York Times" bestselling author speak at a book festival. Robert Beatty talked that day about going to a writer's conference and pitching his book. His story inspired me. So, on a cold February morning, I registered for my first writer's conference. I also registered for the pitch slam event. Then I began researching how to pitch to agents during a pitch slam.
Pitch Slam Research | Navigating Hectivity by Micki Bare
I stayed in the hotel, took what I had and
what I was learning and made my
pitch the best it could be. I also researched
the agents at the conference and selected
the ones to whom I wanted to pitch.

For six months, I practiced my pitch while I put my novel through another round of editing. I asked folks to beta read and provide feedback. I followed agents on Twitter. I tweaked and restructured. 

For six months, I counted down the days. My office white board had daily tasks listed:

  • Practice Pitch x2
  • Workout 45 min.
  • Journal
  • Work on Manuscript at Least 20 min.

That last one probably seemed a bit thin. Only 20 minutes? Yes, I could find 20 minutes in a day to pull up my manuscript on my laptop and work on it. The 20-minute goal got me started. Most days, once I began, I worked well past 20 minutes, sometimes logging hours as I toiled on chapter after chapter.

During the final weeks before the conference, I practiced my pitch incessantly. Hubby could recite it verbatim, as he'd heard it several times a day for two weeks. My dog, Lily, was also an attentive recipient of the pitch. 

Before the conference, my pitch included a 50-second description of the protagonist, antagonist and general plot, and a 10-second description of the genre and mechanics. I had done my research. I thought I was ready.
Over 400 conference registrants were planning
to attend one of four pitch slam sessions.
This is me at the pitch slam workshop session
the day before the pitch slam.

Then I arrived in New York. After the session on pitch slams, I had some tweaking to do. And, after receiving the final list of agents present for the pitch slam, I had some research to do. Four of the agents on my top-8 list of those to whom I endeavored to pitch were not at the conference. 

I spent my first three days in New York holed up in the conference hotel learning, tweaking, researching and practicing. My revised pitch was a full 90 seconds and included the following:

  • genre and mechanics
  • logline
  • description of protagonist, antagonist, plot and venues
  • comps

And while I had originally intended to dive into the pitch slam without any written version of my pitch, I chose instead to bring along speech notes and evoke all the speech-making skills I'd learned 25 years ago while a speech communication major at NCSU. 

The intense work paid off. Of the seven agents who heard my pitch, six requested my query and a number of pages.
Writer's Digest Conference Pitch Slam | Navigating Hectivity by Micki Bare
I was about halfway between the
front and the end of the line
to enter my pitch slam session
on Saturday morning.

When I returned home, having learned quite a bit about writing, my own book, publishing, marketing, agents and more, I was compelled to add just a bit to my already completed manuscript. You might say I filled in a small plot hole. Other than that three-page tweak, I've decided to give that manuscript a rest.

While waiting to hear from agents, the sequel has decided to emerge. I'm barely one chapter in and thrilled about the process and where this story might take me. In the depths of my mind, the prequel is looming, as are other installations that provide the stories of other characters that emerged in the book that I pitched in New York. 

Will I land an agent? I am a better writer who now has a clearer understanding of the publishing process. So, yes, eventually, I will land an agent. It may or may not be one who listened to my pitch in New York City. But whether one makes an offer or they were all merely stepping stones to my eventual agent, I can honestly say the experience was well worth the effort, expense, work and wait. 
Charles Scribner's Sons Publishing NYC | Navigating Hectivity by Micki Bare
The day I finally got out
to see a little bit of NYC,
I walked right by this
gorgeous building. 

And now that the 2016 Writer's Digest Conference is behind me, I realize it was not the end of my experience with a novel I began writing three years ago. Rather, it was only the beginning.

Micki Bare, mother of three, wife, daughter & writer is the associate editor of Piedmont Parent and author of Thurston T. Turtle children's books. 
Email: mickibare (at) gmail.com
Connect with Micki on Google+
Like Thurston T. Turtle on Facebook
Follow Micki on Twitter: @TurtleAuthor
View Micki's pics on Instagram @mickibare

Copyright 2016 Michele Bare

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Chance Meeting


Amrak Travel | Navigating Hectivity by Micki Bare
Traveling by train is relaxing and scenic.
One week after surgery, I knew I was not going to be able to drive myself up the Eastern Seaboard to New York City for the Writer's Digest Conference I'd been planning to attend for the past six months. So, while still relegated to my recliner for the sake of healing, I researched train tickets. According to my research, traveling by train from North Carolina to New York would be slightly quicker than driving and somewhat cheaper than flying. I purchased a roundtrip Amtrak e-ticket two and a half weeks before my big adventure.

I had only traveled by train two other times in my life — once at the tender age of 18 on the way back to North Carolina from visiting relatives in the New York area; and once with my mom a few years ago when we rode from Sacramento to Lake Tahoe during a tour-group trip to Northern California. I'm really not sure why I haven't chosen trains more often. It is a romantic, scenic, low-key way to travel – especially for a writer

When I boarded the train in Greensboro on August 11, I was running on an hour and a half of sleep. I expected to doze on the train, but I should have known better. I'm not a traveling dozer. I can't sleep in any type of vehicle. Instead, I wrote in my journal and watched the sun rise through the passing landscape. Then, when the café car finally opened, I made my way to breakfast.

As a lone traveler, I was not seated at a table alone. That would be inefficient. Rather, I was seated with another lone traveler. The gentleman with whom I was seated had a broad smile and was more than happy to share his table. He immediate asked where I was headed. I told him I was on my way to a writer's conference.

He smiled again. "I'm a writer," he said. "I'm on my way home after a book tour." He introduced himself as Zaid, we exchanged names and pleasantries over a quick handshake, and then dove into writer talk.

Over the next couple of hours, we enjoyed a leisurely, delicious breakfast and shared stories of writing, books, dreams, experiences, family and life. I bought his book, which he signed for me. He also generously offered several nuggets of wisdom. The most important of which was that of attitude when it came to my impending adventure in New York. 

Basically, he encouraged me to learn all I could, network and meet people, and use the experiences — good and bad — as stepping stones to the next levels of my writing and life. If my experiences with the agents I was about to pitch were positive, I needed to follow up and see each through to the next phase on the path toward publication. If it did not go so well, I was to learn, adjust and try again next year. Regardless, I was to always believe in myself.
Train Selfie with Zaid | Navigating Hectivity by Micki Bare
Moving trains result in blurry pictures,
but I will still cherish this as one
my all-time favorite selfies. 

We exchanged contact information, took a blurry selfie — moving trains are not the best for picture-taking — and parted ways. 

When I arrived in New York, I knew I was going to have a great experience at my first writer's conference. I knew it because I'd met an angel of sorts — a fellow writer with an amazing soul and infectious smile who made sure I was in the right frame of mind to get the most out of the experience, regardless of how well my pitch was received. 

It didn't hurt that Zaid, as he prepared to depart the train at his stop in Washington, DC, turned back toward me and said, "Look at you, you're glowing! Good things are going to happen in New York!" Then he smiled that amazing smile, turned toward the door and followed the attendant off the train.

Good things did happen in New York. Will I end up with an agent and eventually a publishing contract as a result? I don't know, yet. But I've been learning and loving life on a level I've never before experienced. And it all started with breakfast on a train with Zaid Abdul-Aziz.

And while many of you might know him as a basketball legend, I an honored to know him as a fellow writer and life mentor. Of course, it's pretty cool that he played for the Celtics back when I used to watch them with my dad, too. 

Micki Bare, mother of three, wife, daughter & writer is the associate editor of Piedmont Parent and author of Thurston T. Turtle children's books. 
Email: mickibare (at) gmail.com
Connect with Micki on Google+
Like Thurston T. Turtle on Facebook
Follow Micki on Twitter: @TurtleAuthor
View Micki's pics on Instagram @mickibare

Copyright 2016 Michele Bare

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Zipping Through the Trees, Cheaply


One of the adventures on our summer list was to head out to the mountains and zip our way through the trees for some amazing views. I'd already enjoyed my first "flying" adventure when I got my feet wet for the sport at the coast. In my mind, the mountains offered the polar opposite of my coastal experience, so I specifically wrote "Zip line in the North Carolina Mountains" on our Summer Experiences Checklist.

However, when I began perusing websites for mountain region canopy tours, sticker shock knocked me into reality. While the views are no doubt spectacular, we did not want to drop $200 just on admission fees to tick off one thing on our list. We did have other things we wanted to do this summer and we also wanted to be able to buy groceries.

Therefore, I checked out zip line venues in the Piedmont. I found one much closer to where we live, so we would save on gas. Admission would cost less for both of us than the cost of one admission anywhere else. And we would save even more by eating lunch at home rather than at a restaurant. I made an executive decision to zip line close to home and called for a reservation. When I explained to Hubby that we were not headed to the mountains, but we were saving over $150, he was perfectly content. Saving money is never bad news. 

Lessons learned from this particular adventure: 

  • It's not necessarily where you go, but who you are with and how much you can save. 
  • You don't need to empty your bank account to be adventurous. 
  • Wear jeans when you head out to the zip line (anything else, like yoga pants, and you are subjecting yourself to chafing).
  • When they ask if you want to bounce, say YES!
Here are some pictures from our zip line tour.

With Hubby at Richland Creek | Navigating Hectivity by Micki Bare
Ready to get up in the trees.
Hubby Flying at Richland Creek | Navigating Hectivity by Micki Bare
Hubby on approach to landing spot.
Richland Creek | Navigating Hectivity by Micki Bare
Exploring Richland Creek during our break.
Butterfly Richland Creek | Navigating Hectivity by Micki Bare
A little butterfly hung out with us at the creek.
With Hubby on a Bridge | Navigating Hectivity by Micki Bare
Heading to a higher platform.

Micki Bare, mother of three, wife, daughter & writer is the associate editor of Piedmont Parent and author of Thurston T. Turtle children's books. 
Email: mickibare (at) gmail.com
Connect with Micki on Google+
Like Thurston T. Turtle on Facebook
Follow Micki on Twitter: @TurtleAuthor
View Micki's pics on Instagram @mickibare

Copyright 2016 Michele Bare

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Goodbye Gallbladder



Goodbye Gallbladder | Navigating Hectivity by Micki Bare
This was supposed to be our summer of adventure. Hubby and I created a list of things we wanted to do before the leaves begin to change. My intent was to blog about each experience. So far, we've checked three experiences off our list. I've blogged about one

The reason we're behind on having fun this summer and my excuse for not writing all about the adventures we did experience are tied to my love of cheese and onion rings. It doesn't hurt that I also adore pasta. 

When half your genes are Italian, you tend to serve a lot of cheese-topped and cheese-filled pastas. Also, we've had to travel up and down the coast a lot in recent years. A certain gas station, which also boasts made-to-order food, happens to serve excellent onion rings. When you are on the road headed to a funeral, excellent onion rings make for excellent comfort food.

However, when you also inherit genes that are not the best at processing cholesterol, cheeses and fried onion rings end up taxing a little thing called your gallbladder.

For the past few months, I've been experiencing chronic headaches, weight gain, stomach aches, upper abdominal pain and back pain. My annual physical also revealed another spike in my cholesterol and triglycerides, which I had had under control. I was surprised that one bucket of onion rings in a weak moment could undo all my dietary good work, but alas, I had other symptoms that could not be ignored. 

An ultrasound revealed what two doctors suspected after office exams. My gallbladder was inflamed and filled with stones. According to information on the Mayo Clinic's website, the bile that the gallbladder moves through the digestive system breaks down cholesterol. But if there's too much cholesterol, stones can form. There are other causes for gallstones, but mine were most likely caused by excess cholesterol.

Now, my poor gallbladder, who was only trying to do her job, must be removed. She tried, but my German-English (from my dad's side) gallbladder just could not withstand the workload from my Mediterranean (from my mom's side) palate, combined with the influence of southern cooking to which I've been exposed since my teen years. 

It is with great remorse that, on this last day with my gallbladder, I offer these words of apology and a sincere promise for the future:

My Dearest Gallbladder,

I am so very sorry for all the cheese that passed through my lips. I could have stopped at one cube or a few sprinkles atop my spaghetti. But I let my savory desires get the best of me. For all those wedges I ate by myself, I apologize. For all the times my homemade pizza included four or five kinds of cheese, I am deeply sorry.

I regret also all of the buttery, melt-in-my-mouth homemade biscuits that passed through my lips. And the fried vegetables — okra, squash, green tomato slices, green beans, pickles.

Over the years, I put you through so much. And what did you do? You worked even harder. You tried. But it became too much. When the stones began forming, did you complain? Not at first, no. You just pushed them aside and kept working. But eventually, there were too many stones. Too much swelling.

And now, it's too late.

I cannot undo what has been done. I cannot stop what must happen. But your existence and your untimely end will not be in vain. I will always remember you and all of your hard work. And I will honor your memory each and every day for the rest my life. 

Moving forward, I will stick to a healthy, low-fat diet in which moderation is a key factor. No more fried foods, not matter the occasion. Fresh fruits and vegetables, lean chicken and turkey, fish, nuts and oatmeal will nourish me. I will also exercise regularly in your memory. 

You, my precious gallbladder, did what you could to help me. Now I will spend the rest of my days doing everything I can to help myself in your absence. 

Had I started this decades ago, maybe you could have been saved. I will have to live with that knowledge. And while that is sad, your demise may have saved many other organs. Healthier eating and regular exercise will serve to keep all of the rest of your fellow organs working well for as long as possible. 

Thank you for all you have done for me and my body for nearly five decades. May you rest in peace with the knowledge that the rest of me is better off for having known you.

All my best,
Micki

While I'm home recovering from surgery, maybe I'll catch up on my summer experiences blogs. Before the symptoms got too bad, we did happen to make it to Zoofari and a zip line tour. 

Micki Bare, mother of three, wife, daughter & writer is the associate editor of Piedmont Parent and author of Thurston T. Turtle children's books. 

Email: mickibare (at) gmail.com
Connect with Micki on Google+
Like Thurston T. Turtle on Facebook
Follow Micki on Twitter: @TurtleAuthor
View Micki's pics on Instagram @mickibare


Copyright 2016 Michele Bare

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Movie and a Dinner


Red Cinemas | Navigating Hectivity by Micki Bare
Reclined in the Red Cinemas luxury seating
with our beer and wine, awaiting
the start of "Now You See Me 2."
One of the experiences on our summer checklist — a seasonal bucket list, if you will — was to see a movie at Greensboro's Red Cinemas and then enjoy dinner at Burger Warfare. We checked that experience off our list during Father's Day weekend. We intended to tackle either Zoofari or Hanging Rock that weekend, but neither panned out. So we took a gander at our list and realized we could easily fit the movie and dinner into our schedule. 

The purpose of seeing a movie at Red Cinemas was to take advantage of its luxury seating. But only a few auditoriums have luxury seating, so we checked the movie listings to see what was playing. It just so happened "Now You See Me 2" was playing in luxury auditorium six. 
Burger Warfare | Navigating Hectivity by Micki Bare
A giant war bot at
Burger Warfare

"Have we seen the first 'Now You See Me' movie?" I asked Hubby. 

"Yes, we watched it last year," he assured me.

"Are you sure? Isn't that the movie that Santa brought us?"

"Yes," he answered.

I countered, "Well, that movie is still shrink-wrapped. We haven't opened it yet. We haven't seen it."

"I promise, we all watched it."

"Well, I don't think so, but let's see the sequel anyway. If I like it, we can watch the first one. Kind of like as a prequel."

Hubby agreed to see "Now You See Me 2," but was adamant about our having seen the original.
Wall | Navigating Hectivity by Micki Bare
A "hole" in the wall
between the two dining
areas at Burger Warfare.

When we arrived, we bought our tickets and then headed to the concession stand. I ordered a glass of zinfandel and Hubby ordered a craft beer. The wine and beer selections are another reason we like this particular theater. 

Three minutes into the movie, I remembered first movie. We had seen it. We must have streamed in on Netflix, because the DVD Santa brought sat unopened in the movie cabinet. 

As we walked from the movie theater to Burger Warfare — the proximity of the restaurant and theater makes it a great date-night venue — Hubby mentioned he did not remember much of the first movie and suggested we watch it soon. I spent the rest of the walk recounting the entire plot of the first movie, while ignoring the fact that he was right — we had seen it already. 

We then stepped into a war zone. Not because Hubby was right about something, but rather because Burger Warfare is a themed, gourmet burger place with giant robot sculptures and canned war-type sounds periodically blasting out of speakers.
Return Trip | Navigating Hectivity by Micki Bare
My return to Burger Warfare to
retrieve my debit card. Lesson learned!

Not only was the atmosphere futuristically and whimsically fun, the food was fantastic. I couldn't quite finish my sweet potato bot tots, but I was somehow able to polish off my The Governator chicken sandwich. 

Adventures not only broaden our horizons, they teach us life lessons, too. Had I not inadvertently left my debit card at the restaurant, it would have been a nearly perfect outing. I learned a valuable lesson. Always check that you received your debit or credit card back from the server and put it back in your wallet before you leave the restaurant and drive home, especially if you live in another town in another county. A few days later, I had to drive back to Burger Warfare and pick up my debit card. That little adventure had me stuck behind a train cross arm on the way there, and then stuck in rush hour traffic on the way back. However, I was nothing but grateful. The Burger Warfare staff had immediately found my debit card and secured it in the safe until I could return.

One summer experience down. Eleven more to go. It's shaping up to be an interesting summer.

Micki Bare, mother of three, wife, daughter & writer is the author of Thurston T. Turtle children's books. 

Email: mickibare (at) gmail.com
Connect with Micki on Google+
Like Thurston T. Turtle on Facebook
Follow Micki on Twitter: @TurtleAuthor
View Micki's pics on Instagram @mickibare


Copyright 2016 Michele Bare

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Summer Experiences Checklist


Kayaking and Summer Fun | Navigating Hectivity by Micki Bare
Last year, I had the opportunity to kayak
in North Carolina's Intracoastal Waterway.
After that adventure, kayaking had to be
on our Summer Experiences Checklist!
Summer is just about to begin and, before it's already gone as typically happens before we ever do anything cool, Hubby and I decided to create a list. On it, we've included all the seasonal, fun things we want to do together over the next three months.

The idea stemmed from missing Valentine's Day. I was sick. But it was our 15th Valentine's Day, so I really wanted to mark it as a milestone occasion. Armed with a box of tissues and lots of chicken soup, I made out a plan for the next weekend, when I was sure to be healed of the ferocious virus that plagued my body. The plan included a checklist of 15 things Hubby and I could do together for our belated celebration. We spent the next Saturday checking off all the activities — which included a hike, a breakfast picnic, a museum visit, a sushi lunch, go carts and so much more — until we were pleasantly exhausted at the end of one of the best days we've had as a couple. We recorded the day's adventures with pictures that were posted in an album on my Facebook page.

While traveling back from a visit to the Northeast a few weeks ago, I pulled out my smartphone to make another list. This time, our adventure list was going to include all the fun things we hope to do over the summer. I believe lists are magical. They have the inexplicable power to hold us accountable to our intentions. After creating the list, I feel confident we'll actually make the time to do all of the activities we included. It certainly worked for us during our belated Valentine's Day celebration. 

Here is our list, which focuses on our home state of North Carolina and the many adventures and experiences it has to offer:

  • See the red pandas at the Greensboro Science Center 
  • Feed butterflies at All-a-Flutter butterfly farm in High Point 
  • Go on Zoofari at the North Carolina Zoo 
  • Master the new ropes course at the North Carolina Zoo 
  • Zip line in the North Carolina Mountains 
  • Eat at Burger Warfare and watch a movie in the luxury seats at Red Cinemas in Greensboro 
  • Pack a picnic and take a one-day beach trip to the North Carolina Coast 
  • Kayak on a North Carolina lake 
  • Hike at Hanging Rock State Park 
  • Go on a one-day shopping and lunch outing to Blowing Rock, North Carolina 
  • Visit one North Carolina vineyard we've never visited and taste wine we have never tried 
  • Visit one North Carolina brewery we've never visited and taste craft beer we have never tried 
By keeping our adventures in-state, we can support local tourism while getting to know our state better. Also, it makes every one of our planned adventures attainable. We don't want to break the bank, but we do want to have fun.

Our list includes a total of 12 things to do, which means we have to tackle at least four each month from now until the arrival of fall. If we can get a jump on the list over Father's Day weekend, we will, even though summer doesn't officially begin until Monday.

In addition to a personal Facebook photo album, I want to write about and post pictures of these adventures on this blog. I also challenge you to make your own list relevant to where you live. Copy as many ideas as you like. If your kids are not all grown up, make it a family adventure. Then, make a habit of going out and discovering all the great things to do near you — and take lots of pictures.

Our boys are older, but we will invite them to tag along with us when they're not working or otherwise engaged.

May you and yours have a happy, adventurous summer!

Micki Bare, mother of three, wife, daughter & writer is the author of Thurston T. Turtle children's books. 
Email: mickibare (at) gmail.com
Connect with Micki on Google+
Like Thurston T. Turtle on Facebook
Follow Micki on Twitter: @TurtleAuthor
View Micki's pics on Instagram @mickibare


Copyright 2016 Michele Bare

Sunday, June 5, 2016

3 Secrets to Homemade Lasagna for Fast-Paced Family Life


Years ago, we had lasagna only on the very rare occasion during which I had enough time to spend half a day cooking. All day if I didn't have any homemade sauce on hand. However, my family loves lasagna. They'll drag themselves away from video games and clear their busy schedules to eat it hot. They'll eat the leftovers. They don't even complain about what could be better about it. They just eat it.
3 secrets to easy, quick lasagna | Navigating Hectivity by Micki Bare
Layering: 10 minutes
Baking: 30 minutes
Less than an hour to lasagna perfection!


Here are my secrets to quick, it-still-tastes-like-homemade lasagna.

1. Sauce from a jar. I know, it's just not the same as the stuff you spend all day stirring until it reduces by half, resulting in a silky, thick liquid that could cure many of the world's ailments. However, if you can read labels, you can find a simple marinara containing only the 3 to 5 ingredients — the ones you would use to make it homemade, if you had the time. 

2. Pre-prep the meat. Had they a choice, my boys would want a sauce drenched in greasy browned ground beef. I use ground turkey, which I season when I brown it on a day I have a few minutes to spare in the kitchen. Then I put it in a container and refrigerate until it's time to make lasagna. 

On lasagna day, I shred mozzarella cheese, open a tub of ricotta, combine the sauce with the already cooked ground turkey and then open a box of lasagna noodles. Then it's as easy as layer and bake, which brings me to my last secret.

3. Oven-ready pasta. Up until this past year, I was not a fan of oven-ready lasagna. I assumed it would make my lasagna dish pasty and gross. But my lack of time to cook along with repeated requests for "normal food" like my lasagna prompted me to take a risk. 
Easy Lasagna Your Family Will Love | Navigating Heactivity by Micki Bare
My quick easy lasagna an hour after I
put it in front of my family.

There are two versions. I first tried the type that looks like normal lasagna noodles and takes an hour to bake. It turned out great. Everyone loved it. 

The next time I went to the store to pick up some oven-ready lasagna noodles, the store did not have the ones I'd used with success. What I did find was a flat, shorter version of oven-ready lasagna, so I threw caution out of my grocery cart and bought it. The flat, stubby noodles required four layers instead of three, but only needed 30 minutes of baking time. If my family liked it, I was going to switch. They loved it. My baking time for my quick lasagna was reduced in half.

That's it. These three secrets changed my outlook on lasagna. Now, the dish is no longer a holiday only menu item I dread. Rather, it's in the regular rotation on our household dinner schedule. The best part? Family meals during which all the boys end up at the dinner table at the same time have increased dramatically. I can honestly report that I have fallen in love with lasagna all over again. 

My Italian New Yorker grandmother, Granny, who worked full time throughout her adult life, would be proud.

Micki Bare, mother of three, wife, daughter & writer is the author of Thurston T. Turtle children's books. 
Email: mickibare (at) gmail.com
Connect with Micki on Google+
Like Thurston T. Turtle on Facebook
Follow Micki on Twitter: @TurtleAuthor
View Micki's pics on Instagram @mickibare

Copyright 2016 Michele Bare