International Day of the Girl Child: Empower Girls. End Violence.

My oldest blogging buddy, Elizabeth, over at Mirth and Motivation, has written a post recognizing a very special day: International Day of the Girl Child.

As parents, we know how important it is to uplift our daughters and help them recognize their own power, strengths and talents.

As writers, we try to infuse our girl characters with strength, humor, intelligence and assertiveness.

 

I know you will enjoy Elizabeth’s post. She has one of the finest multicultural sites in the world.

 

International Day of the Girl Child: Empower Girls. End Violence..

Perfect Picture Book Review: Madeline

Book illustration, pen drawing

Book illustration, pen drawing (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I have great news!

My son and his wife just had a baby!

So there is a new grand-baby in the family…Sophie Eva!

I’ll be flying back to Chicago on Saturday to spend a week with them.

What will I be doing when I’m there?  Continue reading

Earth Day Perfect Picture Book Review: The Little House

Falling_Apple_Blossoms

Falling_Apple_Blossoms (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Monday, April 22, is International Mother Earth Day! Events will be taking place all around the globe to raise awareness of the need to protect the environment and educate people to preserve our natural resources and help children learn to be good stewards of this planet.  I agree with Roni Baras, author of 55 Ways to Save the Environment and Make a Difference, when she says: “As parents, we have a responsibility to teach our kids to care for the world.” Continue reading

Sunday Post: Entrance…Easter Sunday

Cropped screenshot of Charlton Heston from the...

Cropped screenshot of Charlton Heston from the trailer for the film The Ten Commandments. (Photo cr

Jake, over at Time after Time, has a Sunday Post challenge…today’s theme is ENTRANCE.

The past few weeks have been filled with holidays, for people of both the Christian and Jewish faiths.  Today is Easter Sunday and last week was  Passover.

Many people will be attending services today to hear about the how Jesus spoke of  the ENTRANCE into heaven…”But the gateway to life is very narrow and the road is difficult and only a few ever find it”. (Matthew 7:14)

Have you seen the Ten Commandments?

The networks usually air it during these holidays and it was on TV last night…ALL NIGHT…it’s such a long movie, but, in my opinion, well worth the time invested.

One of the most dramatic moments is when Charleton Heston lifts his arms, holding the staff that God had given him and creates an ENTRANCE into the Red Sea.

Of course, I had to watch it…although I’ve seen it many time before and actually own a copy that my dad had purchased and then had sent it to me as a gift.  My dad LOVED watching movies and had an enormous collection of them.  He was very eclectic in his movie viewing and enjoyed comedies, action/adventures, westerns, romances and thrillers.

As a young child, I would watch television on Saturday mornings with my father…this was before Saturday mornings were flooded with cartoons for kids and cooking shows for adults.  There was always a movie…The Thief of Baghdad, a 1940 film starring the Indian child-star Sabu, was one of our favorites.  Perhaps it was the idea of having three wishes or maybe it was the fact that Sabu was such a little boy and the genie was SO HUGE…my dad was only 5’4” tall and quite sensitive about his lack of height.  It must have made him feel better about himself to see this tiny person triumph.  My dad also loved James Cagney movies…perhaps for the same reason, as the famous actor was only about 5’5” tall.

I’m always encouraging parents to spend “quality” time with their young children – reading, crafting and cooking – because participating positively with a child in these activities really does build self-esteem, develops their pre-reading skills, and creates a life-long parent-child bond.  I don’t remember ever reading, crafting or cooking with my dad (my mom was the one who did those things with me)…but the time my dad spent with me, watching old movies on the television, was his way of participating positively…and it certainly worked!

 Jeremy and carrie easter 2013

 

How do you like to spend time with your kids?!

Reading with young children is one of the best things…and I do it every chance I get. But writing for them is a joy and a pleasure as well. Since it is the last day of the month, I need to post that I have completed my 12×12 picture book draft for the month of March. It’s the story that I submitted for Susanna’s In Just Spring Contest. I’ve already run it by my local critique group…and in April, I will let my fantastic online critique group have a go at it. I’m excited to get it polished because I plan to submit this story to Susan Hawk from The Bent Agency who has graciously agreed to look at Golden Book 12×12 member picture book manuscripts in April.

 

If you’d like to join in on Jake’s Sunday Post fun, you can find out all about it here

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Two Top Kids Easter Crafts and a Story of Hope

Spring is just around the corner! Spring is a time of rebirth and renewal. My signs-of-spring-checklist goes something like this:

  • Growing things: Green shoots push up from the ground, tiny buds appear on trees and tulips and daffodils are breaking ground.

  • Birds: Robins and bluebirds greet me in the morning and I hear the welcome cry of geese overhead, returning from their winter holiday in the south.

  • Daylight: The days are noticeably longer…the sun is still casting its warming rays after 6pm here in Colorado Springs.

  • Susanna Leonard Hill’s In Just Spring Contest is starting! Her holiday writing contests are infamous legendary…I wouldn’t miss one for the world. The instructions for this one are: write a children’s story with a spring theme in 350 words or less and make sure the last line says, “(Character’s name) knew spring was here at last!” There is a super prize as well…a chance to submit a picture book manuscript to KidsBooks editor Laura Galvin! WOW! I’ll be linking up on her blog where you can go to check out everyone’s stories. I hope you enjoy my entry.

spring chick

Years ago, most soldiers were men…and most of the time, if they had families, their wives tended house and home and children until they returned. But things have changed! These days, many of our brave soldiers are women…and a good number of them are mothers of young children. According to the government:

 “The demands on military members and their families are increasing and are becoming more complex. Military families sacrifice their personal comfort and experience tremendous upheaval when soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines, reservists and National Guard members are called to serve our country here or abroad. Children are especially vulnerable when separated from parents due to deployments. Their unique developmental perspective and limited life experience put them at a heightened risk for emotional distress during the separation period.”

There are very few picture books out there that address this issue…I’m excited to offer this story (344 words…phew!) to little ones who are missing that special person in their lives.

 

WAITING FOR SPRING

“I’ll be back when it’s spring” whispered Rachel’s mom. As the old pick-up disappeared down the hot dusty road, Grandmother gave Rachel’s arm a little tug. “Come on, girl! We need to get busy making cookies for the Labor Day picnic.”

Rachel loved baking with her grandmother. The smell of fresh cinnamon tickled her nose reminding her of the fragrance of her mother’s cinnabar soap-scented skin. Mama hadn’t even been gone an hour and Rachel was already missing her.  How could she wait until spring?

The trees turned scarlet and gold as the weeks passed. Rachel’s dad pushed her in the swing…so high she thought she might touch the sky. Rachel loved her daddy and loved the sound of the wind as it whistled past her, but it made her think of her mother, laughing and singing. Rachel missed her mama’s sweet voice. Spring seemed so far away.

One morning, Rachel awoke to the sound of sleigh bells. The world outside her window was covered in snow and Rachel hurried to get dressed. She loved the snow! She built a snow princess and put her scarf around the princess’ neck. A gust of wind brushed the scarf across Rachel’s cheek…it felt like mama’s soft touch. Would spring ever come?

The yard was a muddy mess for the next few weeks. “It’s the spring thaw,” said her daddy. It can’t be spring, thought Rachel, because mama’s not home yet.

Her grandmother filled a vase with daffodils. “These are the first spring flowers,” she told Rachel. Rachel didn’t believe her because if it was spring, mama would be here.

Rachel went to the barn. “We have four spring lambs,” her dad explained. Rachel was happy to see the baby lambs, but she knew they weren’t SPRING lambs because mama wasn’t there. She walked back to the house. The scent of cinnamon reached out to Rachel. Was Grandmother baking cookies without her?

Rachel ran up the porch steps. The music of a lilting voice filled her ears. “Mama, you’re home!” Rachel knew spring was here at last!

RELATED ACTIVITIES

colored easter eggs

Photo courtesy of www.etsybaby.blogspot.com

NATURAL DYE COLORED EASTER EGGS (a craft from my book)

Coloring Easter eggs is lots of fun…you can turn this activity into an educational one by using natural dyes. You will need three bowls. For yellow, use 1tsp turmeric in a cup of hot water. For blue, crush a bunch of blueberries and cover with hot water. For red, crush a bunch of cranberries and cover with hot water. Be careful to cool the water before the children dip their eggs. You can also use food coloring if you don’t have the time.

After the eggs are colored (or you can use plastic eggs), you can add pieces of foam and felt to make these animal-inspired Easter eggs…use a marker to draw in the lines

easter egg animals.

Photo courtesy www.glueguncrafts.com

Here are some resources for families who have members deployed:

The Association of the US Army http://www.ausa.org/resources/familyprograms/resources/InternetResources/Pages/ChildrenDeploymentResources.aspx (for children who are experiencing separation problems)

From Sesame Street: http://www.sesamestreet.org/parents/topicsandactivities/toolkits/tlc

From the Red Cross: http://www.redcross.org/find-help/military-families/deployment-services

From Military One Source: http://www.militaryonesource.mil/deployment/military-and-family-support-programs

Substance abuse and mental health services administrationhttp://www.samhsa.gov/dtac/dbhis/dbhis_military_intro.asp

Sunday Post: Arrangement…Do You Plan to Fail?

Jake at Time after Time has a Sunday Post Challenge…today’s theme is ARRANGEMENT.

Arrangement definition: plans you make so that something will happen or be possible.

lollietwinshandprints1

They say that if you fail to plan, you are planning to fail…this is important for EVERYONE who has a goal or objective to reach.

When my children were small, I set up a plan for each day…a simple schedule.

This simple schedule was a LIFE-SAVER…giving order and balance to each day.

Each morning, I read a picture book story…building literacy skills…giving me an opportunity to converse with the children about the story. Conversation is one of the TOP VOCABULARY BUILDERS and gives kids a crucial head-start in school.

Then I would encourage the children to move around with circle games like ‘Farmer in the Dell’ or rhythms like pretending to be a train or a hopping kangaroo. Physical activity is the best defense against obesity.

After that we would make a quick and easy arts and crafts project…helping children develop small muscle coordination and allowing them to express their creativity.

Then it would be time to go outside to play or play inside with puzzles and blocks.

What? Was it lunch-time already? When everyone is having fun, the time really flies, doesn’t it?

In my book, I share the life-saving schedule that I used.

Young children want and need balance and order in their day…the arrangement is up to you!

Do you start the day with a plan? What arrangements do you make for your own well-being? What fun activities do you enjoy with your kids?

inner title page color smallppp Show Me How! Build Your Child’s Self-Esteem Through Reading, Crafting and Cooking can help! Click this link if you would like a copy! The book makes it easy to pinpoint the best books to read. It gives parents arts and crafts activities that are quick and easy. And it provides simple healthful recipes that you can make with your child. Setting up a simple daily schedule doesn’t mean you are being rigid or inflexible…it actually empowers you to encourage creative expression and, most of all, have fun together!

 

Join in the fun with Jake’s Sunday Post.

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http://jakesprinters.wordpress.com/

Valentine’s Day 2013…The Many Faces of Love

Valentine’s Day is a holiday that celebrates love. It began in honor of one or more early Christian saints named Valentinus. Valentine’s Day was first associated with romantic love by Chaucer when he wrote a poem in 1382 to honor the first anniversary of the engagement of King Richard II of England to Anne of Bohemia.

For this was seynt on Volantynys day

When every bryd cometh there to chese his make.”

Back in college, I took a course on Chaucer and Old English…it was the only college course I ever dropped…but here’s a translation those two lines: “For this was sent on Valentine’s Day, When every bird comes there to choose his mate.”

By the 15th Century, lovers would give each other flowers, candy and cards (which were known as Valentines.

Valentine's Day,The Many Faces of Love,www.positiveparentalparticipation.com

Then there was Hallmark…and the rest is history!

Valentine’s Day celebrates many types of love. According to psychologist Elaine Hatfield, there are two main types of love: Compassionate Love and Passionate Love. Compassionate love features mutual respect, attachment, affection and trust. Passionate love is filled with intense emotions, sexual attraction, anxiety and affection. Ideally, passionate love, which is transitory and short-lived, turns into compassionate love, which is enduring and long-lasting.

C.S. Lewis, in The Four Loves, identifies four categories of love: Affection or storge which is fondness through familiarity, Friendship or philia which is the strong bond that exists between people who have a common interests, Romance or eros, which is being in love or loving someone and Unconditional Love or agape which is the love of caring regardless of the circumstances.

But what of a parent’s love for a child…what type of love is that?

Valentine's Day,The Many Faces of Love,www.positiveparentalparticipation.com

Last night, I watched one of the old Leave It To Beaver episodes and I witnessed the four loves described by C.S. Lewis.

In the show, little Beaver loses his lunch money several days in a row. His parents warn him that he will be in trouble if it happens again. His father gives him money to go to the barber shop to get a haircut, but when the little boy gets there, he realizes he has lost the money again. His older brother agrees to help him and, when this results in ‘the haircut from hell’, the boys try to fool their parents by wearing hats.

  1. Affection or fondness through familiarity: This is evident in the day to day interaction…Beaver’s brother is almost always willing to help him; Beaver’s mom and dad are caring and understanding.
  2. Friendship or strong bond that exists between people: Beaver’s mom, “Kids are more afraid of losing their parents’ love than of being punished.”
  3. Romance or loving someone passionately: Beaver’s dad, “The trouble with being a parent is that you love your kids so much, you scare the pants off them.”
  4. Unconditional love: Beaver’s brother, “You can come to parents with any problem and they will understand.”

Happy Valentine’s Day! What are your plans for today? If you have young children, have fun with them…why not go for a walk, play ball, sing a silly song, draw a picture together, read a book with them. SHOW them as well as TELL them that you love them…every day. It will make a positive impact on the rest of their lives.

www.positiveparentalparticipation.com

There is still time to nominate your favorite literacy organization to win the International Book Giving Day $25 donation…please leave a comment on my post. Tomorrow we will choose the winner with Random.org.

And if you have the time, you can take a look at the Valentine’s Day/International Book Giving Day YouTube video I made yesterday with author/educator Susan Case: SHOW THE LOVE: INTERNATIONAL BOOK GIVING DAY. We shared several picture books and crafts and ideas on helping kids celebrate Valentine’s Day and International Book Giving Day. Susan is giving away TWO copies of her fantastic Happy Mommies Handbook…don’t miss out…leave a comment on her blog post: http://kindergartenbasics.blogspot.com/2013/02/celebrate-international-book-giving-day.html