Looking Ahead to 2012: Let’s Simplify

English: No name baking soda

Image via Wikipedia

Did you know that today is National Bicarbonate of Soda Day?

National Bicarbonate of Soda Day or Baking Soda Day celebrates the many benefits and uses of this simple inexpensive substance, readily available at grocery stores and pharmacies.

No home should be without a box of this product.  It’s definitely a “green” alternative to many of the chemical-loaded toxic products out there.  Among its many uses:

  • Helps baked good rise.
  • Relieves stomach indigestion and heartburn.
  • Removes odors in the fridge.
  • Cleans kitchen and bathroom counters and floors

For a complete list of the benefits and uses of baking soda, please go to the National Bicarbonate Soda website.

Holiday Confessions of a Grateful Blogger


I love to write.

I love to talk.

Ergo, I love to blog!

My blogging journey began a little over a year ago when my book, Show Me How! Build Your Child’s Self-Esteem Through Reading, Crafting and Cooking, was published.

The blog began as an extension of the book so that I could connect with parents:

  • To share my passion for picture books and the messages they contain.
  • To provide information about using positive parental participation to build self-esteem and strengthen the parent-child connection.
  •  To offer crafting and cooking activities along with picture book summaries and reviews to help parents develop better literacy skills in young children.

Accomplishing the above goals are very important to me, but I must confess that my blogging journey has been an educational, enjoyable and uplifting experience for me as well.

I’ve connected with over a thousand wonderful people…through blogging and Twitter and Facebook.  The only downside…with all of the amazing posts, stories and articles available to read and comment on, I barely have time to write my own blog and work on my next book project!

Here are the guest author posts and reviews I did of several new and exciting children’s books.

Rebecca Dunning: Real Life Princess

Olena Burda-Lasen: The Vitamin Band

Donalisa Helsley: The Day No One Played Together: A Story About Compromise

Martha Rodriguez: A Reel Cool Summer

Anthony Majewski: Read With Max

Here are just a few of the blogs I follow that inspire, educate and entertain.

Mirth and Motivation

Spirit Lights the Way

Piglet in Portugal

Stacey S. Jensen: Writing My Way Through Life

Plate Spinning 101

Because I’m the Mommy

The Mom Writes

Here are some of the sites I post on.

voiceBoks: The Voice of Motherhood

Social Moms

Bloggy Moms

Mom Bloggers Club

She Writes


Pikes Peak Parent



Here are a bunch of the 5-star reviews and recommendations of Show Me How that were done this year.

Home Grown Families: A Natural Living Blog

My Little Me

Virtuous Foundations

Dallas Chapter of Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF)

Chic Galleria Magazine

A Reel Cool Summer

The Children’s Book Review

Makobi Scribe

The Mom Writes

Jamie’s Precious Peas

The Mama Loves Her Bargains

Kidlutions Preferred Product Awards

Book Dads


Frugal Military Wife

I’m so very grateful to all of the bloggers and tweeters I’ve connected with this past year.  I confess, though, that with blogging, book writing, working, and taking care of home and hearth, I am constantly juggling the need for sleep with the desire to do everything else.  So, when the other day, my husband asked me what I wanted for Christmas and I replied that I had EVERYTHING and needed NOTHING, I must confess that I wasn’t being totally honest.

If someone invents a time machine that can enable me to fit thirty-six hours of activity into a twenty-four hour day…please contact me immediately at vivian@positiveparentalparticipation.com!

Happy Holidays to all who have read my posts, followed me on Twitter, recommended and/or bought my book and supported and encouraged me on this amazing journey during 2011.

Top Five New Year’s Resolutions for a Dynamic 2012


English: Two New Year's Resolutions postcards

Image via Wikipedia

The New Year is almost here!  Have you thought about your New Year’s resolutions yet?

The great thing about the New Year is that it gives us the opportunity to make a fresh start.

You can make broad, sweeping resolutions like EAT HEALTHIER or you can make more specific resolutions such as I WILL AVOID EATING FAST FOOD.

“To insure good health, eat lightly, breathe deeply, live moderately, cultivate cheerfulness and maintain an interest in life.” William Londen

Based on William London’s practical advice, here are five resolutions that will result in a happier, healthier, more dynamic 2012.

1.      Eat Lightly: many of us eat too much of the wrong things…nutritionists recommend eating six small meals a day instead of three big ones.  In addition, make every meal count by using more fresh foods instead of highly processed ones. 

2.      Breathe Deeply: It’s definitely hard to find the time to exercise, especially when you work, take care of a home and family and have lots of other things that take your time and energy.  However, moving at least 30 minutes a day will provide great health benefits…and make you feel more positive.  Dance while you clean the house or take a walk while listening to great music.  Get together with a friend and exercise together with a new tape in your living room if you don’t have the time or money to go to a gym.  In addition, take time every day to meditate and be still…even if it is just for 5 minutes.  It will refresh and renew your spirit.

3.      Live Moderately: This rule applies to all aspects of our lives…eating, drinking, sleeping, surfing the Internet.  If people would get enough rest…and eat, drink, exercise and pursue all other activities in moderation, the soaring medical costs in this country would decline.  The cells in our bodies repair themselves during restful sleep…and people tend to gain weight if they are sleep deprived.

4.      Cultivate Cheerfulness:  Doesn’t it lift your spirits when someone greets you cheerfully, in a store, on the street or on the phone?  Thinking and acting cheerfully does have a positive effect…on EVERYONE!  Cultivating cheerfulness does not mean ignoring problems or pretending that everything is rosy when it is not.  If something is troubling you, please share it with someone who cares about you.  Set in motion steps that will change the situation.  If it is a situation that can’t be changed, join a support group or ask for help.

5.      Maintain An Interest In Life:  Isn’t it amazing to see elderly people who get college degrees after they have retired from a life-long career?  Or middle-school children who raise money for other children in a village that is situated thousands of miles from where they live? How can you maintain an interest in life?  Read a book about something you always wanted to find out about; volunteer in a local school or hospital; reach outside your normal routine to help someone.

Are these goals on your list?  Do you have others?  Do share!

If you are a parent of a young child, please add another goal for 2012.  Strong reading readiness skills and a positive self-image will help your child succeed in school. 


Hop aboard with the award-winning Show-Me-How and get back to basics with reading, crafting and cooking with your child. 

  • Each activity takes 15 minutes or less…a small investment in time with a big reward. 
  • The book is arranged in an easy-to-use format so there is very little planning or preparation. 
  • We’ve extended the online special of $19.95 per copy till the end of the year…order now so that you can begin 2012 with the Show-Me-How program of stories and activities. 

Parenting Tips on Reading Revealed in Radio Interview


A couple of weeks ago, I had the opportunity to speak about reading with children and the impact it has on young children. The hosts of Bookmark Radio, Michael Scott and Wendy Duncan, are avid readers and lovers of books.

We talked about how important it is to read with young children on a daily basis.  I hope you will click on this link to hear the radio interview:

November 21, 2011 http://castlerockradio.com/media_player.asp?messageID=107557

Here are some of the highlights of our conversation: 

  • Reading with young children develops their literacy skills.
  • Children aren’t born knowing how to hold a book or turn the pages.
  • Parents need to be good role models and be seen reading by their children.
  • Reading with children is fun for everyone.
  • Children who are read to are more successful in school.
  • Adding cooking and crafting activities related to the story is a plus.
  • The messages in picture books can help children deal with many problems.
  • Cooking and crafting encourage children to master tasks and skills.
  • Self-esteem grows when parents engage positively with their children.
  • Parents are the first and most influential teachers for their children.


For more information about using picture books to help your child develop a positive self-image and better literacy skills, please visit my website.  With your own copy of Show Me How, you will have 100 summaries of some of the best picture books ever written with an easy craft activity AND a simple recipe for each recommended title…right at your fingertips to use with your child.  Each activity takes only about 15 minutes.

Why not start the New Year with a great resolution for 2012?

Get back to basics!

Read 15 minutes every day with your child!

The Best and Easiest Gluten-Free Cookie Recipe Ever

Child obesity is a big problem in the United States.

With the holidays approaching, what can parents do to help their children maintain a healthy weight?

  • Provide healthful snacks: vegetable sticks (carrots, cucumbers, celery); fruit slices (apples, pears, orange sections), cheese cubes, whole-grain crackers.
  • Watch meal portions: for example, make a habit of measuring cereal before you pour it into the bowl (most cereals call for ½ to 1 cup as a serving size); use salad plates instead of dinner plates, especially for young children…you will be less likely to serve too much…this works for adults as well.
  • Keep eating out to a minimum and avoid fast-foods as much as possible: if you make food for your family yourself, you can pass on the additives and preservatives and high sodium content present in most restaurant offerings…and you will probably save money.
  • Make a batch of these nutritious cookies with your child: they are high in fiber, low in sugar, salt and fat…and no preservatives or artificial colors.


You will need: 2 egg whites, ¼ cup sugar, 1 cup ground almonds, 1 cup raisins, large bowl, electric mixer and a lightly greased cookie sheet.

1.    Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2.    Beat the egg whites in a large bowl until stiff peaks form.

3.    Add the sugar and mix in.

4.    Add the raisins and the ground almonds and fold in gently but thoroughly.

5.    Drop by tablespoonfuls onto the cookie sheet.

6.    Bake for 5 minutes.

7.    Turn off oven.

8.    If you like softer cookies, you can remove them from the oven after about 30 minutes.  If you like crispier cookies, you can leave them in for an hour…or overnight.

9.    This recipe makes about 12 – 18 cookies, depending on the size you drop onto the cookie sheet.


What a fun recipe to prepare with your child during this holiday season!  You could even make several batches and give some away as gifts.  Cooking with children is a super learning activity…science (how do the runny egg whites change when you beat them), math (fractions, counting), better pre-literacy skills (reading the labels of the egg carton, bag of sugar, etc.).  Best of all, cooking with kids is one of the best ways to strengthen the parent-child connection and build their self-esteem as they master tasks and skills.

Please visit the Show Me How website where you can find out more about the book that provides many more quick and easy cooking activities for kids along with simple arts and crafts activities and story summaries of the 100 picture books every young child should hear.

The book has received praise from many mom and dad bloggers as well as picture book authors and self-esteem experts. http://areelcoolsummer.blogspot.com/2011/08/five-gold-stars-for-show-me-how.html

The New Year is almost here…make a resolution to spend 15 minutes a day, reading or crafting or cooking with your young child…the positive impact it will have on your child cannot be measured. 

“Christmas Memories with Mom” Winner(s) Announced!

“Christmas Memories with Mom” Winner(s) Announced!.

I took part in a “Christmas Memories with Mom” contest and the winners have been announced. 

Get out your box of tissues because you will need it. 

After you’ve read the touching posts that won, read the others as well…some are sad and some are funny…but all are heartfelt!


Reading and Crafting Fun with Kids

I’ve been smiling a lot these days.

During the past few weeks, the Show-Me-How Story-time with Miss Vivian program has traveled to several local kindergartens and libraries.

Back in November, the children at Edison Elementary enjoyed hearing Today I Feel Silly & Other Moods That Make My Day by Jamie Lee Curtis.  Young children are often reluctant or unable to express their feelings.  Reading a story like this one gives them the opportunity to talk about what might be bothering them.  In Chapter Four, I Am Really Mad Right Now, my book, Show Me How! Build Your Child’s Self-Esteem Through Reading, Crafting and Cooking, gives parents and teachers over a dozen picture book titles with summaries and a related quick and easy craft project and matching child-friendly cooking activity for each.

After the kindergarteners had a chance to talk about the feelings of the main character in the story and their own feelings, I showed them the fun craft we would be making.  The children were excited to work on the smiling/frowning paper plate.  We punched a hole in the top and pushed a piece of yarn through so they would be able to hang it up on the door to their room…anyone entering will know how they are feeling…another wonderful opportunity for parents to engage  their children in a discussion about emotions.

I was thrilled to receive a bunch of letters and pictures from Ms. Gustafson’s class, thanking me for sharing the story and craft activity with them. 

This past week, I visited with the kindergarteners at Fremont Elementary.  Again I was met with smiling children, eager to hear The Kissing Hand by Audrey Penn.  Ms. Vassar’s class was excited to hear about the little raccoon who didn’t want to leave his mother to go to school until she shares a special secret with him. 


Young children can relate to this story very well…many of them are anxious about leaving home to go to school or daycare.  Again, picture books can be a wonderful vehicle for calming a child’s fears or helping him realize that others feel just the way he does. 


After the story was over, the children made Kissing Hand pictures.   Tracing the outline of their hands onto a piece of paper, I encouraged the children to think about who they love and who loves them.  Each finger represented someone important in their lives. 

Then, on Saturday, I read the same picture book at the Penrose Library’s 10:30am Story-time.  Many of the children attending were only three and four years old, but they still loved hearing the story and looking at the beautiful illustrations.  Very young children are developing important pre-literacy skills when parents read to them.  Knowing how to hold a book, turning the pages from front to back, reading the pictures from left to right, observing and pointing out things they see in the pictures…these are all important skills they MUST learn before they can read themselves. 

Because the holidays are fast approaching, I changed the craft that accompanied the story and we made Kissing Hand Ornaments.  Each child received a handprint, cut from cardstock paper that was white on one side and glittery color on the other.  Using the white side, the children and their parents drew faces of family members on the fingers.  The handprints had a hole punched at the top and a piece of yarn strung through so they can be hung from the Christmas tree, if desired.

It only takes 15 minutes to read a picture book story.  It only takes 15 minutes to do a simple craft project.  Such a little amount of time…but it has such a great impact.   “If you want to be in your children’s memories tomorrow, you need to be in their lives today.” 

I implore parents: please do this with your young children.  Go to the library.  Get out a few picture books.  Read them with your children.  Get some paper and crayons and draw with your children.  Staple several pages together and let them make their own “book” and have them tell you the story they have drawn.

The book I wrote last year is a perfect addition to your home library…with 100 classic picture book recommendations; you only have to flip through the table of contents to find the perfect book to read to your child.  When you open to that page, you will find the story summary, a tip on why that particular book is helpful to read to your child, a quick and easy craft project and a child-friendly healthful recipe…all laid out for you in a simple, easy-to-use format.  Most of the crafts use only paper, crayons or markers…some also need a glue stick, pair of scissors and pictures cut from magazines or catalogs.  Most of the recipes are low-fat, low sugar and high fiber…many are even no-cook, like fresh orange juice made from squeezing oranges and peanut butter balls made from peanut butter, honey and dry milk. 

I wish I had had this book when my children were growing up…everything in one place…no guesswork involved when it comes to planning activities for young children. 

If you order the book NOW, you will be able to start the New Year off right.

Don’t delay…at $24.95, it makes the perfect gift for yourself or anyone you know who has young children.  It even makes a great baby shower gift…unique and priceless…with great parenting tips on building a child’s self-esteem and creating a life-long parent-child bond.

And we all want that…don’t we?  Please visit the Show Me How website now and order a copy today!