Sibling Rivalry and Prayers for Those Impacted by the Waldo Canyon Fire

Two Sisters

Two Sisters (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“Mommeeeeee….Rachel pushed me!”   “Mommeeeee…Brandon took that toy and I had it first!” 

If you grew up with brothers and/or sisters, the above scenarios probably sound familiar.

If you have more than one child now, you have probably heard similar complaints in your own home.

Sibling rivalry seems to be inevitable, but is it ALL bad?

And what, if anything, can parents do to ease the tension and reduce the conflicts between their kids?

Last year, the University of Cambridge did a study that showed that siblings can have a positive effect on a child’s early development of social understanding (the awareness of others thoughts and feelings) even when there is some discord such as arguing or teasing.  The communication between siblings helps them learn to express their feelings and emotions.  It is important for parents with only children to make sure they are providing their child with many opportunities for conversation about thoughts and feelings.

Sustained or continuous sibling rivalry, however, can result in behavioral problems and relationship building issues later in life.

With summer here and kids at home, here are some simple steps parents can take to create a more peaceful and positive atmosphere:

  • Plan family activities that are fun for everyone.
  • Make sure each child has his or her own space.
  • Encourage cooperation, not competition…when picking up toys; have the children race the clock, not each other.
  • Teach conflict resolution.
  • Don’t play favorites or compare siblings.
  • Make sure your kids are not hungry or tired or bored.
  • Plan family time such as eating meals together.
  • Teach positive ways to get attention from each other and from parents.
  • Set aside along time with each child.
  • Don’t take sides.
  • Teach kids to compromise and respect one another.
  • Encourage children to express their feeling and find words for them.
  • Be a good role model.

Picture books are a wonderful tool to use as well.  If you are looking for a great picture book that addresses this problem, there are several to choose from:

Queen of the World by Thomas Yezerski

I Love You Purplest by Barbara Joosees

Sheila Rae’s Peppermint Stick by Kevin Henkes

And one of my favorites:

The Day No One Played Together by Donalisa Helsley.

The Day No One Played Together: A Lesson About Compromise, is a beautifully illustrated (by the talented Sarah Harkey) story of two sisters who want to play together.  However, each wants the other to play HER game.  When the sisters come to a stalemate, their mom steps in with a suggestion: COMPROMISE.  The girls begin to brainstorm many ideas of how they can incorporate what each wants to do so that they can play together.  They happily solve their problem and the book ends with the sisters spending the rest of the day playing with each other.  Parents…read this story with your children…help them apply the concept of compromise next time there is an argument…and enjoy the peace and harmony.

On the last page of the book, Ms. Helsley provides a simple definition of some of the words in the story that young children might be hearing for the first time.  I love this feature of the book…we should always encourage children to understand what they are reading or hearing…this helps build their vocabulary…one of the most important components of literacy. 

You can find out more about this great children’s author by visiting her website:  She has a new book out, I Love You Better Than Chocolate Chip Cookies.

To contact her:

The book is available for purchase on Amazon, B&, Goodreads and the author’s website.  

Take advantage of the more laid back pace of summer and provide your children with fun-filled moments they will remember forever.  Spend time reading with them and doing other activities.  If you are looking for great book suggestions and quick and easy activities, please check out my book, Show Me How! Build Your Child’s Self-Esteem Through Reading, Crafting and Cooking.

Life has been turned upside down, here in Colorado Springs.  The past week has brought devastation and terror to many residents as the Waldo Canyon Fire raged…fueled by record heat and an exceptionally dry winter and spring.  Over 300 homes were destroyed on Tuesday night…consumed by the hungry flames before our eyes as we watched television coverage in shock and horror.  The fires are still burning…and the impact will be felt for years to come.  Please join me in praying for the brave firefighters and others who are still battling the fire…and for those who have lost their homes and livelihoods.

It’s a Picture Book Party for 12 x 12’ers AND a Giveaway!


There will definitely be CAKE!  I’m sure Jeremy will be happy to share a piece with you.


You are welcome to help yourself to an Overnight Cookie!

And make sure you read through to the end, because there is a prize lurking around!

I’m joining in on the six-month celebration of Julie Hedlund’s 12 x 12 Picture Book Challenge.

In January, Julie issued a challenge to picture book writers and illustrators: write a picture book draft each month of 2012.  Hundreds of people hopped aboard the 12 x 12 train and Julie set up an amazing Facebook page to encourage participants to connect with each other.  Her blog posts are a treasure…filled with information and valuable advice…often offered via interviews with editors, authors, illustrators and others in the field of children’s picture books.

I’ve had a life-long passion for picture books…as a child, I loved listening to them…as a teacher and mom, I loved reading them to kids…and for the past forty years, I’ve dabbled in writing them.

Julie’s challenge has spurred me to do more than just dabble…and in the past six months, I’m proud to say that I HAVE written six picture book drafts…and scribbled ideas for quite a few more!

What’s so  special about picture books you may ask?

  • Picture books are usually a child’s first introduction to the written word.
  • Picture books help develop better reading readiness and literacy skills.
  • Picture books introduce children to the world of art.
  • Picture books help parents and children bond with each other.
  • Picture books are a crucial tool for encouraging life-long learning among children.
  • Picture books allow kids to relate their own life experiences to the events in the story.
  • Picture books help build self-esteem in children.
  • Picture books are enjoyable and entertaining.

Here’s an example of one of the classic picture books that I love.

Do those words sound familiar?  This verse comes from one of the most famous picture books every published.  Madeline was written in 1939 by Ludwig Bemelmans, an Austrian author who relocated to New York City.  Madeline is quite the modern day young girl who thinks for herself and has courage and determination.

Maybe one day, my stories will be enjoyed by children all over the world…for now, my grandchildren and the kindergarten classes I visit during the school year are my audience.  In the next few days, I plan to submit one of them to Rate Your Story.

 In January, my picture book draft was a rhyming story about my daughter and her favorite hat: Caroline’s Flower-Sprigged Hat.

 In February, I wrote another rhyming tale about a bunch of unlikely Valentine’s: Whom Do I Love?

 In March, my picture book draft relayed the saga of a little boy who refuses to take off his boots: The Boots of Dylan McGee.

 In April, I entered Susanna Leonard Hill’s Birthday Contest with another rhyme about a little girl who came up with an ingenious idea because she didn’t want her brother to come to her party: No Brother for My Birthday.

 In May, I turned my efforts to prose in a true story about my younger son: The Tomato Turner.

 And this month, I wrote a sequel to the saga: Confessions of the Tomato Turner.

 I can honestly say I’ve never been so happy.  This wonderful kid lit community is filled with picture book authors, illustrators, librarians, teachers and others who love picture books and understand how important they are for children.  I am so fortunate to have connected with them and I look forward to the second half of the year…Thank You to Julie, Susanna, Tracy, Penny, Clar, Joanna, Stacy, Tina, Robyn, Beth, Heather, Catherine, Kirsten, Jennifer Y, Jennifer R, Amy, Jackie, Darshana, Emily, Diane, Renee, Erik…I know I’ve missed a bunch of you…but I’ve enjoyed reading your posts and your comments on mine…and I’ve learned so much!


And now for the prize!  This is the 300th post on my blog!  I’m so excited because when I started out almost two years ago, I knew almost nothing about the Internet, blogging and social media like Twitter.  When someone said I could “grab their button” I thought they were talking about the round piece of plastic, metal or wood that you sew onto a coat.  I had no idea how to link a URL to a picture or word…and I also had no idea what a URL was.

In honor of this 300th post, I’d like to give away a lovely copy of The Lap-Time Song and Play Book, edited by Jane Yolen with illustrations by Margot Tomes.  If you’d like a chance to receive this special picture book with favorites like “I’m a Little Teapot” and “The Eensy Weensy Spider”, please leave a comment on this post and let me know you’d like to win it.  When I get back from my trip to Chicago, I’ll use to pick the winner.

Sunday Post: Village…It Takes a Village to Raise a Child

Jake at Time after Time has a Sunday Post Challenge and every week he provides a theme…this week’s theme is VILLAGE.


According to the dictionary, a village is a clustered human settlement or community.  The small photo above shows some of the buildings on Star Island, part of the Isles of Shoals off the coast of Maine.  During the summer, weekly Christian conferences are held, and the island is filled with people seeking a respite from the hectic pace of city life.  During their time there, children become part of the wider community.  The saying, it takes a village to raise a child, originally an African proverb…Ora na azu nwa…and later the title of a book by Hillary Rodham Clinton, becomes a reality.

Although it certainly does help to have the assistance of others, the primary responsibility for raising a child falls to the parents.  Food, shelter, love, early education, rules, discipline, values…these are the basics that every parent is expected to provide. 

One of the most important things a parent needs to insure is that the child is living in a safe environment.  Summer is here and the temperature rises.  But before you open those windows, please check these window safety tips.   Did you know that over 4000 children are injured and wind up in the emergency room every year and about a dozen die from window falls?

According to, to keep your children safe, in addition to close supervision, you should also:

  • not allow your children to play around windows, even if they are closed, since they can be hurt if they fall through the glass of a closed window
  • not rely on screens to keep your kids from falling
  • consider installing landscaping under windows that might cushion a fall
  • install windows that can open from the top, instead of the bottom, if possible
  • keep furniture away from windows, so that your children aren’t tempted to climb on them
  • teach your children about window
  • planning safety

Keeping young kids happy, engaged and busy during the summer months can be a challenge.  Show Me How! Build Your Child’s Self-Esteem Through Reading, Crafting and Cooking is a one-stop guide and activity book.  Using it this summer will help prepare the younger ones for preschool and kindergarten…six and seven year olds will love the craft projects and cooking activities and may be able to read some of the stories themselves…this will help to prevent the academic slide that often occurs during the summer months.  Grab a copy at only $19.95 (over 50% off the cover price) for yourself, a family member, neighbor or church summer school.  Lined sections on every other page provide a place for notes or comments…the book can become a journal of your child’s progress and activities throughout the summer. 


Are you wondering if the book really works?  Check out these recent reviews:

By the way, this is my 299th post!  I started blogging almost two years ago.  As a novice, I knew nothing about anything blogging.  When I look at the posts I did in the fall of 2010, I realize how much I’ve learned.  My next post will be #300…I’ll have to think of doing something special to celebrate…any ideas?

Want more information about Jake’s Sunday Post? 

And here are some other bloggers who are doing Jake’s Sunday Post:

The Forgotten Ones…

The Forgotten Ones….

Have you ever walked down the halls of a nursing home?

In most of them, it’s a heartbreaking sight.

I read a blog post that moved my heart…I hope it moves yours as well.

Piglet in Portugal has an award-winning blog in…you guessed it…Portugal.  Her tales about her vegetable garden will have you rolling on the floor…her sense of humor is apparent in every post she does.

The post she did about people in nursing homes won’t make you laugh…but I hope it will make you smile as you think about what you can do to bring a moment of happiness to an elderly resident of a nursing home. 

Parents: how about reading Wilfred Gordon McDonald Partridge, a picture book by Mem Fox about a little boy who lives next door to a home for the elderly?  Then you and your child can talk about how you can make them smile…maybe make a card or picture and deliver it to a local nursing home. 

I’ll be reviewing that book in my next post.

Sunday Post: Famous Movies…The American President…A Father’s Day Tribute


Jake at Time after Time has a Sunday Post Challenge and every week he provides a theme…this week’s theme is FAMOUS MOVIES.


It seems that the whole world has a fascination with movies.  In this country, we host the Academy Awards…and present the coveted “Oscar” to dozens of actors, actresses, directors, producers and others who are involved in creating the visions we enjoy at the theater.

With a tip of my hat (wait a minute while I put one on) to all the fathers who are reading this and with a thought to the upcoming American presidential elections, I’ve chosen one of my favorite movies about a president, THE AMERICAN PRESIDENT, starring Michael Douglas and Annette Benning.  Not only is it my favorite movie about a president…it is also in my top 10 favorite movies in any category. 

The first time I saw it, I wanted to nominate Michael Douglas to be the REAL American president.  Ethical, yet human, and not above making mistakes, the character he portrayed was willing to do ALMOST anything for what he believed in…and was able to listen and process what he had heard and then change his mind and his tactics, if necessary, FOR THE GOOD OF THE PEOPLE. 

Ahhhhh….isn’t that why we elect a president…to look after the good of the people in our country? 

The American President was a loving father and a thoughtful lover…he puts his love and concern for his daughter above everything and the scene where he tries to order a bunch of flowers for Annette Benning is priceless.  

I’ve seen this movie quite a few times…and never tire of the hope it inspires in me.  I do believe that each president we elect really does want to do his best for the country…and I understand that politics and the economy and the world situation often get in the way of each president carrying out their original plans.


The election for President of the United States is coming up in November.  I hope that everyone who is eligible to vote will examine the issues and the candidates and then exercise this precious right…people in many other countries would die (and some do) to be able to have a say in who governs them.  As parents, we need to be good role models for our children…by voting, we are teaching our children to be involved citizens.

For more great parenting tips and a whole bunch of quick and easy activities that will keep your little ones busy and happy all summer long, you can get a copy of my book, Show Me How!  In the last week, there have been a couple of new reviews of this great parenting resource: Kirsten over at Creating Curious Kids did several of the activities with her own children… and Tom over at Your Family Book Club was happy to recommend as a great way to spend quality time with your kids this summer…

Want more information about Jake’s Sunday Post? 

And here are some other bloggers who are doing Jake’s Sunday Post:

Photo credits: Mount Rushmore – Ed Menard Ranger

Helping Kids with Loss: After Charlotte’s Mom Died Review

Today is Perfect Picture Book Friday where I link up with Susannah Leonard Hill’s fantastic group of picture book writers, illustrators, librarians and others who contribute a picture book review and related resources for parents, teachers and children.

A couple of quick notes first:

1.      Remember that tomorrow is June 16th – Save The Bookstores Day.  Did you read Tara Lazar’s great post about this:, I have to work on Saturday, but on Sunday, I’ll be at one of the Indie bookstores here in Colorado Springs, Poor Richards.  They are one of the local bookstores that has copies of Show Me How for sale…if you haven’t seen the amazing review Kirsten did, please click over to her blog, Creating Curious Kids.  Keeping children occupied with fun-filled educational self-esteem building activities is a wonderful way to spend the summer!  Do you know some parents who would appreciate a book that provides hundreds of quick and easy activities that use stuff they probably have around the house?  Please keep Show Me How in mind.

2.      Sunday is a very special day as well…June 17th is Father’s Day!  There are so many wonderful fathers and father figures out there…this day is for all of you!  I have to make a special shout-out to my son-in-law who is an amazing hands-on dad…not only does he play ball and take walks with his son, he also never misses being part of the daily bedtime routine, reading stories and overseeing the brushing of teeth.  When my daughter has to travel for business, Erik never falters and is mom and dad at those times.  I’m also very proud of my son who has twins who are almost seven.  From the time they were born, he has shared in EVERY moment…feeding, changing diapers, singing them to sleep…now they all ice-skate and play chess together.

My pick for Perfect Picture Book Friday is in honor of those dads who really step up to the plate.


 After Charlotte’s Mom Died

Written by Cornelia Spelman

Illustrated by Judith Friedman

Publisher: Albert Whitman Co (1996)

Ages: 5 and up


Grief/loss, family, emotions


When five-year old Charlotte’s mother dies in a car accident, the little girl has many feelings she is not comfortable expressing to her dad, even though she loves him very much.  She worries about going to sleep because an aunt told her that dying was like going to sleep.  She is angry and sad and scared, although on the outside, she still looks the same.  After an incident at school alerts her father to the fact that Charlotte is not dealing well with the death of her mother, he decides to go with Charlotte to see a therapist.  The therapist helps them to talk about how they feel and they realize that although they will continue to feel sad about the death of Charlotte’s mother, they can find happiness in life.

Why do I like this book

The death of a close loved one is always difficult…to lose one’s mother at a very young age is earthshattering!  This book tenderly addresses this issue…the illustrations are soft, the message of the text is comforting and empowering.  I especially love the caring and practical advice the author gives to parents and other child caregivers in the book’s foreward:

  • listen carefully to the child
  • acknowledge his fears and feelings without judging
  • offer assurances that there will always be people to love him and care for him
  • offer hope for future happiness

Related Activities:

Memories of special people, places and experiences are extremely important for all of us.  Help your child start a box of treasured mementos now!  The boxes in the pictures below were actually made as Valentine’s Day mailboxes by the people I work with, so each of these boxes has a slit for Valentine’s Day cards to be inserted into…your child’s treasure box won’t have the slit.  I was so impressed with the effort and creativity of these adults, I wanted to share some of the boxes with all of you.


Treasure Box Shoe Box

You will need: One shoe box with lid, paper to cover the box (construction paper, gift wrap, shelf paper), scissors, and glue or tape.

1.      Cut the paper your child has selected to cover the box.  You will need two pieces, one for the box and one for the lid.  Important tip: if you use painting paper, your child can decorate it with vegetable prints, sponge painting or pictures cut from magazines or greeting cards.

2.      Carefully fit the paper around the outside of the shoebox and glue or tape in place.  Do the same with the lid.

3.      Make a label to put on the box, for example: EMILY’S TREASURED MEMENTOS or JOSH’S BOX OF MEMORIES.

My box had pictures of my family, all around the sides.  That might be a nice idea for a child using pictures of family and friends.

A great  pirate treasure chest here at

Some more treasure chest ideas here.

Great website to help kids dealing with death at

Some helpful tips for talking with children about the death of a parent at

This post is part of a series for parents and teachers called Perfect Picture Book Fridays hosted by Susannah Leonard Hill.  Click on her link and find lots of other picture book suggestions with summaries and activities.

Summer Fun Shortcut: SHOW ME HOW!

Summer Fun Shortcut: SHOW ME HOW!.

Author, educator and mom Kirsten Larson, over at Creating Curious Kids, just posted a review of Show Me How!  What’s really great is that several of the activities recommended in the book were kid-tested by her two sons…way to go, Finley and Cooper!

My sincere thanks to Kirsten…what an amazing review!  Please stop over and read it…you’ll love her blog!