Montanan writes ‘disgusting’ new parenting book

A while back, the Missoulian featured a regular columnist from Dillon named Joe Barnhart, who offered a humorous take on … a lot of different topics.

Barnhart has spent the past several months focusing on the topic of parenting. Specifically, he’s been working on a parenting book for those of us who could use an escape from the overly serious how-to-raise-a-perfect-child tomes parents are usually subjected to.

The result of his hard work: “Parenting Made Disgustingly Easy.”

Barnhart book

I was lucky enough to get to get a signed copy for helping to edit this “practically worthless guide for raising little people,” as the cover describes its contents. While I tried to focus on misplaced commas and misspelled words, I have to admit that I kept breaking into fits of giggles.

Chapter titles like “Taming the Beast” and “Grandparents: Choose Wisely!” give readers a good idea of what they’re in store for.

Looking for a daycare? Make sure the facility teaches “A foreign language such as Spanish, Metric, or sign gestures appropriate for customers who bellyache about the cost of repairs.”

Considering your discipline options? You’ll want to learn about “time out,” “reverse time out” and my favorite, “double reverse time out.”

If you can’t find a copy of “Parenting Made Disgustingly Easy” at your local book store, go to Barnhart’s website,, and order one there.

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Today the library’s filled with cheer! A Seuss-ful day! It’s here, it’s here!

It’s pretty blame cold outside. We’ve been stuck, more or less, for the past few days because of the blizzard. If you too are looking for a warm place away from home to hang out with you kids, and your streets have been plowed, you might want to swing by the local library.

Did you know that today is Dr. Seuss’s birthday? Which also makes it National Read Across America Day?

The folks at the Missoula Public Library do, and they’re celebrating of course! Today’s story time (from 2-3:30 p.m.) will feature lots of Dr. Seuss, plus there will be activities and snacks.

It’s aimed for kids ages 3-9, but kids of all ages are welcome. Call the children’s desk at 721-BOOK (2665) for more info.

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An unsolicited review of Tina Fey’s “Bossypants”

I recently finished reading the book “Bossypants” by Tina Fey. My sweet-and-salty husband saw it on the bookshelves and got it for me. It’s hilarious.

It’s been a long time since I laughed out loud while reading a book, but Fey – a comedienne and former writer for Saturday Night Live, and current 30 Rock cast member – turns nearly every sentence of her memoirs into a joke. Even the book jacket is funny.

She writes about being a kid, being a mom, being a boss, meeting Sarah Palin, working in show biz and other stuff – but, in my (admittedly too-serious) opinion, too little about being a mom. Maybe she was trying to avoid being filed away in the “mommy” genre, maybe she just didn’t want to expose her family to too much public scrutiny, but I would have liked to have read a little bit more about Tina Fey, the mom.

Besides, we moms can use all the humor we can get.

Have you read the book? What didja think? Make you laugh?

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Young writers invited to summer camp just for them!

Ever heard of the Montana Writing Project? It’s a part of the National Writing Project, natch, which encourages teachers to help their students become better writers.

And one way for young people to become better writers is to write often and share their writing with others. While summer and the start of summer vacation would seem to work in opposition to this goal, that’s not necessarily the case in our neck of the woods – thanks to the Montana Writing Project.

This summer marks the seventh that the professional development organization is offering a Young Writers Summer Camp. It is specially geared toward youth who will be starting sixth, seventh, eighth or nineth grade when the school year starts.

“The program is designed for students who are interested in devoting time to their nonfiction, poetry and fiction; participating in a writing workshop; publishing in an anthology; and being members of a writing community. Participants receive individualized writing instruction, engage with other writers, and have opportunities to share their work.” So says the informative email sent to me from Merrilyne Lundahl, program coordinator for the Montana Writing Project.

The camp will be offered from June 20 to July 1, from 9 a.m. to 12:30, and it will take place in Liberal Arts Building Room 210 0n the University of Montana Campus, which houses the Montana Writing Project.

The cost is $175, which includes materials, instruction and snacks.

To sign up your kiddo or to learn more, shoot an email at or call 243-4680.

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Gala fundraiser reading for Aerie International is this Thursday!

If you aren’t familiar with Big Sky High School’s award-winning international literary arts magazine, Aerie International, you are missing out.

This Thursday brings an opportunity to correct that. The Dana Gallery in downtown Missoula is hosting the fourth annual gala fundraiser and reading for the student publication. The family-friendly event will feature art, poetry, music, world food and more.

For a taste, check out this photo by 18-year-old Carrie Klemencic of Lawrence, Kansas:

Carrie Klemencic_Within ReachSample

Amazing, right?

More talent of this caliber – and coming from all over the globe – will be on display while student editors read original work AND selections from the next issue of Aerie International, all while guest readers and advisory board members – writers Tami Haaland, Debra Magpie Earling, David Allan Cates, Robert Stubblefield, Caroline Patterson and Robert Lee – mill around.

The night kicks off at 5:30 p.m. with live jazz and international hors d’ouerves, and drop-ins are welcome throughout the evening.

Remember, this is a fundraiser, so a suggested donation of $25 per “family” is appreciated, “family being loosely defined as any group of adults with or without children, related or unrelated.

If you have other plans and can’t make it, you can still check out Aerie International through its website. Or, for $12, subscribe to the magazine by emailing a subscription request to

Here’s more information about the publication:

The students of Aerie are eligible for $100 prizes each year include the Patricia Goedicke Poetry Award, the James Welch Fiction Award, the Norman Maclean Nonfiction Award, the Rudy Autio Visual Arts Award, the Lee Nye Photography Award, the Richard Hugo Sense of Place Award, and the Chief Charlo Celebration of Culture Award.

Aerie International is the only magazine of its kind dedicated to high school students editing and publishing the work of their peers worldwide. Last year the student editors solicited and read more than 350 submissions from 13-19 year olds from England, Russia, Turkmenistan, Japan, Finland, Canada, and across the United States.

Since 1999, Big Sky High School’s two literary arts magazines have received or been nominated for the highest award rank in the National Council of Teacher’s of English Program to recognize excellence in sudent literary magazines seven times.

Last year both magazines received the highest award.

For still more information as well as other donation avenues, call Lorilee Evans-Lynn at Big Sky High School at 728-2401, or write to Aerie International, Big Sky High School, 3100 South Avenue W. Missoula, MT 59804.

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Lolo author launches children’s book series with “Naughty Nello and the Sausages”

I’ve read a fair amount of history about Missoula and the surrounding area; enough to have a passing knowledge of why many local residents – including my grandfather – have Italian names.

So it comes as no surprise that Lolo author Joanne Puccinelli chose to make the first book in her new children’s series about a boy’s attempts to understand his Italian heritage.

“Naughty Nello and the Sausages,” published by RoseDog Books, is a 36-page illustrated paperback.

“In this story,” the publisher’s notice reads, “Naughty Nello tries to understand his Italian heritage and finds himself in a heap of trouble. This curious little boy learns that ‘old’ is not always bad and ‘new’ is not always better. This is a delightfully funny story of family, love, and respect. Naughty Nello reminds us that America is a great melting pot enriched by a variety of ethnic cultures.”

The announcement goes on to describe Puccinelli’s upbringing in Goosetown, “the immigrant section of Anaconda, Montana.”

This was a neighborhood rich in ethnic diversity. Joanne has often told stories from this era to her children, grandchildren, and the many students she has taught. The Naughty Nello Stories are based on her father’s childhood experiences.

Pucinelli is also a University of Montana alumna, with a master’s in guidance and counseling, and currently a supervisor for student teachers at the university.

I’m looking forward to see which heritage she writes about in her next book. Irish? Salish? Hmong? This could turn out to be a pretty lengthy series.


Kids publish their first memoirs before reaching their teens

Memoir. Personal history. Autobiography.

Students at Rattlesnake Elementary School have not only written their life’s stories – they have had them illustrated, printed and bound into books.

The book designs and illustrations were provided by Sentinel High School students thanks to a partnership between the two schools.

And what did the students think of this collaborative process?

“I thought he did a great job,” said Rattlesnake student Jayden McDonald of the illustrations provided by Sentinel student Austin Finley. “I thought he really listened to my story, and really understood the personality of my dragon.”

Dragon? Sounds like some of these tiny auteurs may have taken a little creative license.



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It’s Tiger Mothers against slacker parents in the mommy wars

My daughter wants to take swimming lessons, learn karate, practice the guitar, go to gymnastics class and oh! so much more. Her interests are as varied as they are deep. At the moment, however, she is doing none of those things.

Why aren’t I pushing her to excel in any of these areas of interest? The reasons are many: Because we are still getting into the rhythm of kindergarten. Because when I look at our family calendar, every day is already filled with play dates, birthdays, and other events. Because I don’t want to flatten her self-driven desire to learn into a parent-driven mandate. And because I want that time with her – all to myself.

Clearly, I am no Tiger Mother. I will just have to learn to live with the possibility that my daughter may never play piano at Carnegie Hall – let alone do so by the age of 14.

This opinion piece by Kansas City Start editorial board member Barbara Shelly reassures both Tiger Mothers and “slacker moms and dads” that regardless of whether we embrace an overzealous or underachieving parenting style, most of our kids will probably turn out OK.

Read the rest of this entry »

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National retail store exec urges parents to ‘give the gift of reading’

Much of the national business news I’ve been reading lately has mentioned the fact that Target stores are ramping up their toy selection in a move to compete with other major toy retails in advance of the holiday season.

So when this opinion piece from a Target executive landed in my inbox, I did not expect it to be about how the holidays are “the perfect time to begin reading regularly with a child you care about.” And while the piece does promote the company – and especially the company’s education programs – it’s still couched in a worthwhile message.

Here, read it for yourself.

– MM

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‘Friendship Book’ by Missoula author encourages social networking for kids – offline!

A kids’ book bound for the editor’s desk at the Missoulian was intercepted for me briefly so that I could check it out – and I’m really glad I did.

It’s called “Friendship Book: Off to School,” and it’s written by Missoula author and University of Montana graduate Silke Jauck. The book is aimed at kids ages 6-12, and get this: it is designed to encourage kids to social network OFFLINE.

Flipping through the pages, I gathered pretty quickly that it is meant to be passed around among friends, who would fill in the answers to the questions on each child’s page. On the left-hand side, it has spaces for a name, nickname, hair color and the like. On the right-hand side, it asks for a list of favorite clothes, hobbies, music, and includes space for a message.

Kind of like Facebook, but minus the Internet. Pretty cool idea.

– MM

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