Sunday Post: Culture…What Do Children Really Need?

Today is Easter Sunday.  It is also the second day of Passover.   Just as with Christmas and Hanukah, these Christian and Jewish holidays are usually celebrated around the same time.  It’s not by chance, of course. 

If you trace most major religious holidays back to their beginnings, you will find they have the same roots and seem to be based on pagan festivals that were held thousands of years before.

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

The word ‘culture’ has many definitions.  Because of the holidays that are upon us, I’ll use this one: the set of shared attitudes, beliefs, customs, practices and social behaviors of a particular nation or group.

And it seems that no matter what the holiday or which religious or ethnic group is celebrating…presents are involved, especially for the children.  Easter baskets filled with candy and stuffed animals, Christmas trees surrounded with gaily wrapped gifts, eight days of presents during Hanukah, gifts given as ransom for returning the afikomen (piece of matzoh) during Passover get-togethers. 

 

Children love presents…but the most important gift we can give them is our time and attention.  This is another similarity that is cross-cultural.  Children need to be treasured no matter whether their parents are Christian or Jewish, Muslim or Hindu, American or French, Canadian or Spanish, rich or poor, highly educated or unable to read. artistic or sports-minded.  If we look at cultures all over the world, we see that this is true…in most societies, parents, and often the entire community, strive to cherish the children.  Of course, in war-ravaged areas or when epidemics of famine rage, it is often the children who suffer the most.

If we want to be in our children’s memories tomorrow, we need to be in their lives today.  Read with your child.  Talk with your child.  Walk with your child.  Play with your child.  Cook with your child.  Paint with your child.  The bond you form now will last a lifetime.

Today is also the first day of National Library Week.  Why not go to your local library with your child this week.  Help your child pick out some books and read at least one every day. Studies show that children who are read to on a daily basis are more likely to succeed in school. 

 

Don’t forget to nominate your favorite library in the comment section!  Twenty-five libraries across the US and around the world can receive a free copy of Show Me How! Build Your Child’s Self-Esteem Through Reading, Crafting and Cooking.  Nominations close the last day of the month…don’t let your library lose out on the chance of getting this award-winning resource for parents and teachers.

 

If you’d like more information about Jake’s Sunday Post:

 http://jakesprinters.wordpress.com/ 

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

http://imagesoftheheart.wordpress.com/2012/04/08/sunday-post-culture/

http://wp.me/p2iujW-2J


 

 

I will try to add more as they are posted.

Reflections: Speak To Us Of Children…

 

Today I’m “pressing” a post of one of my favorite bloggers…Elizabeth of Mirth and Motivation.   It’s all about children…one of my most favorite topics in the world!

But first I’d like to pass along a couple of awards that came my way this past week.

Uplifting children and helping them develop a positive self-image is one of my missions in life.  I try to provide parents and teachers with resources and activities and encouragement, because the task of raising and educating young children is a difficult one and it is crucial that adults feel good about themselves as well.

But bloggers also need encouragement to continue to carve out those precious moments to write…from a day that may be filled with other responsiblities and obligations.

And so various blogging awards are “born” and one blogger confers them on another to recognize and celebrate a job well done.

This past week, Clar at clarbojahn gave me two lovely ones: The Kreativ Blogger Award and The Sunshine Award.

Clar is a dedicated writer (of children’s picture books and other genres) and human being extraordinaire and I am honored to know her.  I hope you will take the time to go and meet her.

The rules of these awards: List some things of interest about yourself and then pass the awards along to other deserving bloggers.

1. If I love a book, I can reread it dozens of times.  Favorite book: Little Women.  When I was 10, I went shopping with my mom and sister for her junior high school graduation dress.  We lived in NYC at the time and went to a store (Abraham and Strauss) that has eight floors of merchandise.  Instead of dragging me around while she and my sister shopped, my mom brought me to the book department, which encompassed the entire 8th floor of the building.  Leaving me there to enjoy browsing through the books (yes, I know, this is something we would NEVER do these days…but times were different over a half a century ago) she and my sister went shopping for the dress.  I picked a stack of Louisa May Alcott books and sat down on the floor and happily spent the next several hours, reading about the adventures of the March family.

2. If I love a movie, I never get tired of watching it.  Favorite movie: Gone With the Wind.  How many times have I seen it?  Probably 10.

3. My favorite color is yellow…as a child, I shared a room with my older sister.  I was 19 when she got married…the day after the wedding, I painted MY room a bright sunshiny yellow!

I hope you will have the time to visit with the following people whose hard work and wonderful writing motivate me to keep on blogging.  Of course there are dozens and dozens more…but I only get to list 10. 🙂

1. Elizabeth of Mirth and Motivation

2. Nancy at Spirit Lights the Way

3. AngelaMarie at One In Creation

4. Pat at Children’s Books Heal

5. Erik at This Kid Reviews Books

6. Judy at Jay Jays Favorites

7. Kirsten at Creating Curious Kids

8. Marcy at Orples

9. Margaret at Pen to Print

10. SP at Spanish Pinay

And now, here is Elizabeth’s post that touched a chord in my heart and soul.  I share this with all of my readers in hopes it will speak to you as well.

Thank you, Elizabeth, for holding children so dear!

Reflections: Speak To Us Of Children….

Autumn is in the Air: Time to Turn on the Oven and Bake a Cake

 

I love the fall…cool crisp mornings and warm sunny afternoons.

Here in Colorado, the aspen leaves will be turning to gold, while back in New England where my daughter and her family live; the maples will be wearing flaming headdresses of scarlet, crimson and purple.

 

Many parents will be helping their children plan their Halloween costumes and decorate the house with pumpkins and sheaves of autumn wheat and Indian corn.  Years ago, our local library had an annual pumpkin-painting contest and all of my children looked forward to choosing the “perfect” pumpkin to decorate and enter…hoping to win the coveted first place prize ribbon.

 

As the weather cools down, many of us start getting out the muffin pans and cookie sheets in preparation for holiday baking.  I encourage parents to include their children in meal preparation…and holiday baking is an especially fun time to have your kids in the kitchen. If you are looking for simple child-friendly recipes, you’ll find dozens of them in my book, Show Me How!

Here’s a wonderful recipe for Carrot Cake that doesn’t appear in the book.  It’s special enough for festive occasions, but simple enough so that young children can help.

 

The best thing about this cake is that it is very nutritious (one pound of carrots in each cake) and easy on the digestive system.  I recommend it for anyone who suffers from IBS or GERD problems.

CARROT CAKE

You will need: 1½ cups flour, ¾ cup sugar, 1½ tsp baking powder, ¾ tsp baking soda, 1 tsp cinnamon, ¼ cup brown sugar, 1 egg beaten, ½ cup canola oil, 1 tsp vanilla, zest of 1 orange, 1 pound baby carrots grated, ¾ cup pineapple chunks with juice (about ½ cup), 2 bowls, 1 Bundt pan lightly greased, blender or food processor.

  1. Mix in large bowl: flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and cinnamon.
  2. Mix in another bowl: brown sugar, beaten egg, canola oil, vanilla, orange zest.
  3. Use a blender or food processor to grate the carrots and add the pineapple chunks and juice and blend until fairly smooth.
  4. Add the carrot/pineapple mixture to the brown sugar/egg mixture and stir well till blended.
  5. Add this to the flour mixture and stir gently but thoroughly..
  6. Pour/spoon into lightly greased Bundt pan and bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour.
  7. Remove from oven and place on wire rack to cool.  After 30 minutes or so, turn upside down on a serving plate and allow the cake to continue cooling.
  8. For storage, cover with plastic wrap and keep in the refrigerator up to one week.

                                                                     For parents who are local to the Colorado Springs area

PLEASE SAVE THE DATE

STAYING HEALTHY

THIS SCHOOL YEAR!

SHOW-ME-HOW STORY-TIME PROGRAM

Saturday, September 24, 2011

12 to 12:45pm

Family Christian Store: 7165 N. Academy

719-598-1500 to RSVP

Or email vivian@positiveparentalparticipation.com

  • Bring your young children and listen to a story
  • Help your child make a simple craft project
  • Get a free flyer: Have a Healthier School Year

Vivian Kirkfield is a local author, former kindergarten and Head Start teacher and mom of three. Her parenting program and award-winning activity book for ages 2-7, Show Me How! Build Your Child’s Self-Esteem Through Reading, Crafting and Cooking, has helped thousands of parents build self-esteem, develop pre-literacy skills and create a stronger parent-child connection.

Five Ways to Ease Your Eyes from Screen Strain

Family watching television, c. 1958

Image via Wikipedia

Did you know that 70% of Americans suffer from computer vision syndrome?

CVS happens when you stare at the computer for too long.

I discovered some valuable insight into this problem from Eye Care magazine published by HealthMonitor.

This type of “near work” strains the muscles in your eyes that focus on near objects and you also tend to blink less, which can dry out eyes.

Symptoms include blurry vision, headaches and strained, dry or tired eyes.

According to eye specialists, there are five simple steps that can help alleviate this.

1.     Follow the two-foot rule: sit about 25 inches away from your computer and tilt the screen to so you look down on your work.

2.     Get rid of the glare: glare from overhead lighting and the sun can reflect off your screen…this contributes to eye strain.  Dim the lights around your workspace and use shades or curtains to avoid direct light.  You could also try an attachable anti-glare screen for your computer.

3.     Take breaks: follow the 20-20-20 rule…every 20 minutes, look 20 feet across the room for at least 20 seconds.  In this way you will be activating your distance vision.  Blink often and take mini-breaks away from your desk.  Close your eyes briefly and practice deep breathing which also helps relax the eye muscles.

4.     Check your prescription: if you or your children wear glasses, make sure the prescription is up-to-date.  Eyes do change and it is important to see your eye doctor on a yearly basis, especially if you wear glasses.  If you or your children are having eye problems whether you wear glasses or not, please make an appointment…our eyes are so precious and they are not replaceable.

5.     Moisturize: staring at a computer screen, especially in an air-conditioned room, can lead to dry eyes.  Use artificial tears or a desktop humidifier and remember the 20-20-20 rule…look away and blink.

Many of us do lots of close work and when you add up the time children spend reading books and doing homework assignments, playing or working on the computer or other electronic devices and watching TV, you’ll agree that it’s really important for them to follow these simple steps as well.

Now that school is starting, many preschoolers will be left at home without older brothers or sisters to play with them.  If you’d like to provide great activities for your young child (other than sitting in front of a TV or computer monitor), please visit my websitewhere you can purchase a copy of Show Me How! Build Your Child’s Self-Esteem Through Reading, Crafting and Cooking at 50% off the cover price.  This award-winning resource for busy parents will provide you with 100 picture book story suggestions and summaries and gives you an eco-friendly craft activity and a child-friendly recipe for each recommended title…FRESH IDEAS FOR A NEW SCHOOL YEAR!  BTW, it’s also available on Kindle!

Are Electronics Hurting Your Child’s Eyes?

WHR's computers

Image via Wikipedia

Yesterday I had an eye doctor appointment.

As I sat in the waiting room, I noticed a small magazine entitled “Eye Care”.

It’s published by HealthMonitor.com and is packed full of valuable articles and information.

I know that many parents wonder about any dangerous effects that electronics…and their children’s use of things like mobile phones, iPads, 3-D handheld video games and laptops…might have.

Are electronics dangerous to your child’s eyes?

According to Dr. Benjamin Ticho, a pediatric ophthalmologist and associate professor at the University of Illinois:

There are no studies showing permanent or long-lasting visual damage from these types of devices.

But are there any temporary problems that can crop up from staring at portable game devices, surfing online or watching TV for prolonged periods of time?

The answer to this is YES!  Strain, fatigue and dry or scratchy eyes can result from doing anything up close where our eyes are doing too many things: focusing, coordinating and moving close together…this can cause the eye muscles to get tired.

What can parents do to help avoid this?

  • Put a daily time limit on electronic devices.
  • Remind your child to get up frequently while engaged in a task or game.
  • Encourage your child to participate in outdoor activities or sports each day.
  • Use time playing video games or going on the computer as a reward for completing homework…that will insure that eyes are tired out before homework is done.

Tomorrow I’m going to share: 5 Ways to Treat Screen Strain…for all of you out there who blog. 

TAKE A KID FLY-FISHING – POSITIVE PARENTAL PARTICIPATION IN ACTION!

Father and son make a great fishing duo...watch out, Mr. Trout!

I have a passion for using picture books and positive parental participation to help build self-confidence and create a life-long parent-child bond.

So I’m always thrilled when I find a book that encourages parent and child to participate together.

Thanks to Kirk Werner, parents have not one, but a series of THREE amazing books that can be enjoyed by children from preschool to puberty and beyond!

Olive, the Little Woolly Bugger is the first book in this series by author and illustrator, Kirk Werner.  It details the experiences of Olive, a woolly bugger fly used in fly-fishing.  Olive attends Camp Tightloops to learn how to become a fishing fly and meets many other flies…some who are bullies and snobs and others who are friendly and helpful.  Children of all ages will connect and identify with the engaging characters.

According to Kirk, “On the surface, my fly fishing book series for kids may just appear to be children’s stories set against the backdrop of fly fishing. While true, there’s much more to them than that. The intent of my books is to introduce kids to fly fishing through a series of fun stories that are both educational and entertaining. For kids lucky enough to hail from an angling family, no encouragement is needed to get them outdoors with a fly rod in hand.  But kids who may not have the guidance of an adult angler in their lives are really the ones who stand to gain the most from my books.  In other words, my books are for all kids (and frankly, for adults as well). But the goal of my books is also bigger than just fly fishing – it’s about getting kids outdoors.

As I mentioned in a previous blog entry, according to a study by the Outdoor Foundation fishing is the #1 “Gateway Activity” to launching kids into many other outdoor pursuits such as camping, hiking, boating, etc.  All are excellent ways to get kids away from their video games, off the couch and into the great outdoors for some good, old-fashioned recreation. 

According to a report by C&NN, children are smarter, more cooperative, happier and healthier when they have varied opportunities for free unstructured play in the outdoors.  I interpret that to mean if you take a kid fly fishing where they can experience a natural setting, walk along the banks of a stream or lake and learn about bugs and fish and other wildlife that benefit from clean water, that child is going to be smarter.  I always thought fly anglers were an intelligent bunch and now I know why!

To sum it all up in a nutshell, outdoor recreation is good for kids in both mind and body, and the outdoors are important to all of us.  So, the bottom line is this:  Get kids outside.  Fishing is a great way to start them off on other outdoor adventures.  While they’re outside having fun they’ll be practicing healthy habits and getting exercise. Furthermore they’ll develop an appreciation for our natural resources, which will ensure that future generations become stewards of the earth.

It may be a lofty thinking on my part, but I believe every child should start down this journey with the Olive the woolly bugger series of fly fishing books. Now, if anyone has an idea as to how I can make sure that every child hears about Olive, I’m all ears.”

Getting ready for a day of fishing!

So, my husband and I took Kirk’s advice (not that we needed any encouragement…we already LOVE fishing and fly-fishing and we took our own children fishing as soon as they were old enough to hold a fishing rod) and last weekend, we took our six-year old twin grandchildren on their first fishing adventure.  Our son had already prepared the way by reading the first book in the Olive series with his children.  When we arrived at their house and my husband showed them the fly box he had filled for them, they eagerly pointed to the flies that they recognized.  “There’s Olive!”  “That’s Randall, the Royal Coachman!”

Choosing the right fly. How about Olive, the LIttle Woolly Bugger?

Our time with our grandchildren and son and daughter-in-law at Rocky Mountain National Park was, to say the least, fantastic!  The day was perfect…amazingly there were no thunderstorms to hamper our enjoyment.  The children took to fishing as if they had been doing it for years.  The first fly they wanted to try was…you guessed it…a woolly bugger!

I’d like to say that we pulled up one trout after another…but even though the children didn’t catch any fish (although we did see several)…they did catch the enthusiasm and joy of being by a beautiful river, surrounded by the wonders of nature.  Their parents take them to RMNP quite often and encourage the appreciation, care and preservation our precious and endangered environment.  After enjoying a lovely picnic, we all got ready to leave and my husband asked our grandchildren when they would like to come fishing again.  One of them replied, “In about three weeks!”  And the other piped up, “No, in about three days!”

Our granddaughter listened with rapt attention to Grandpa's instructions.

According to the Outdoor Foundation, fishing is the top “gateway” activity, spurring involvement in other outdoor activities:

“The future of any sport lies in engaging its youngest members, so reaching individuals in their early years is critical,” said The Outdoor Foundation Executive Director Christine Fanning.

And, even though my book is about reading, crafting and cooking, I’m always encouraging parents to get outside with their children, whether it is to take a walk, go on a nature hike or spend time at a park or playground.

Mr. Werner says, “Fishing is good for kids. And Olive the Woolly Bugger exists for the sole purpose of getting kids interested in fishing. You truly cannot accurately judge a book by the cover, and exploring beneath the surface may yield some pleasant surprises.  Fishing dries on the surface is fun, but an astute angler knows that fish take the majority of their meals under water.  Exploring the depths is what makes the woolly bugger such an effective and popular pattern.  Take a closer look- I think you’ll get hooked on Olive the Woolly Bugger, and by doing so you’ll be helping kids in more ways than one.”

There is so much more I’d like to share with you about this wonderful author and his Olive series.  My next post will explore the organizations he supports with a portion of the proceeds of book sales and a little bit about the other two books he has written.

I’d also like to invite parents, grandparents and anyone who is caring for little ones to a Show-Me-How Story-time with Miss Vivian this Saturday, August 6th from 11am to 1:30pm at Family Christian Store, 7560 N. Academy Blvd in Colorado Springs.  If you are local to Colorado Springs, please stop by for one of the STARTING SCHOOL JITTERS BE GONE! presentations…at 11:30am-12 or 12:30pm to 1.  We’ll be talking about school anxiety, reading a wonderful picture book story and then doing a fun craft project.  There will be a free hand-out for parents on Five Steps to a Smoother School Year and parents can fill in an entry form to win a bunch of craft supplies for their child.  Please email me at vivan@positiveparentalparticipation.com or call the store at 719-598-1500 if you have any questions.

National Ice Cream Day

I scream, you scream, we all scream for ice-cream…when I was growing up, that was a popular ditty.

In 1984, President Ronald Reagan designated the third Sunday in July as National Ice Cream Day. For more information and some special today-only offers, click on this link: National Ice Cream Day

For me, every day is an ice-cream day.  I’ve always loved ice-cream.

When I was a little girl, I remember going to the park across the street with my best friend, Jane.  Each of us would clutch a precious nickel in a little hand and eagerly await the Good Humor Man who would pedal by with the large freezer box attached to the front of his bike.  My favorite was a toasted almond bar!

Years later, on summer evenings, we would sit outside, listening for the calliope sound of the ice-cream truck.  You would hear children shouting, “Mommy, mommy, I need a quarter…the ice cream man is here!”  My dad, who also loved ice cream, would ask me and my sister what we wanted and he would run out into the street as soon as the truck stopped so that he would be the first to give in his order. 

These days, my husband lovingly provides me with a wonderful variety of exotic flavors…double fudge brownie, French silk, coffee with almonds and chocolate morsels…and I treat myself to a small dish of ice cream topped with a spoonful of whipped cream and seven almonds every evening…my reward at the end of a busy day.

Do you like ice cream?  What are your ice cream memories?

Among the 100 simple healthful child-friendly recipes in Show Me How! Build Your Child’s Self-Esteem Through Reading, Crafting and Cooking you will find several for ice pops, sorbet and ice cream treats.  You can buy a copy NOW for 50% off the cover price!  Don’t let the summer pass you by without SCOOPING UP this incredible guide of fun-filled activities and picture book recommendations.  Did you know there is a money-back guarantee?