Cinema Sundays: My Picks of Great Flicks: PLAYING THE GAME

Andy Griffith, Tony Award-nominated and Emmy A...

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Last night, my husband and I watched “PLAYING THE GAME”, a 2009 romantic comedy starring Andy Griffith as an 80+ year-old grandpa who has recently lost his beloved wife and is now living in an assisted-living facilityPaul Campbell plays his concerned grandson, a player of women who wants his grandfather to start enjoying life again.  When Paul meets Maria Sokoloff, his player days are numbered and when Andy meets Doris Roberts (of Everybody Loves Raymond fame), a resident of his senior home and grandmother of Maria, he finds a new reason to live again.

Some people may be offended by the sexual scenes (you never really “see” anything) and by the blatant sexual desires of some of the “older” folks (and some may be sad to see Andy Griffith, icon of morality in the Mayberry RFD series, taking Viagra and enjoying the sexual favors of one of the older women at the home for seniors)…but I think it was a realistic depiction of how life is for some elderly people…defined in their youth by sexuality, they feel if they can’t “perform”, then life is not worth living.

Andy Griffith does provide some wonderful advice to his grandson…advice we might all benefit from:

  • Defining a “real” companion, he says, “You’ll know when you meet her and you’ll know when you lose her.”
  • Asking his grandson about his relationship with his love interest, he says, “Are you a player or were you just playing.”
  • Telling his grandson to stop his step-by-step procedure that gets women to fall for him, he says, “To win the game of love, you have to stop playing games with women.”

If you are looking for a light-hearted romantic comedy and won’t be turned off by seeing some elderly people looking forward to sexual pursuits, PLAYING THE GAME is for you.

 The movie also highlighted how we need to pursue our dreams and goals and not get sidetracked by just “working for the money”.  The grandson had put aside his dream of working in the health-care field and was earning a LOT of money, selling cars in his father’s dealership…but he was very unhappy and hated what he was doing.  When he becomes involved with Maria, he realizes that he needs to quit his job and go back to helping people.   How many of us put our dreams aside because of money…either because we don’t think we have enough for our needs or we just think we need more?

This past Thursday, I met with two 4th grade students who wanted to “job shadow” an author…the advice I gave them was to follow their dream and never give up on what they believed in…hard work and persistence do translate into success!  During my years as a teacher, daycare provider and mom, I accumulated lots of ideas and experience…and I was able to use those when I finally wrote my book last year for parents and teachers of preschoolers.  If you are interested in picking up a copy of this unique resource of picture book suggestions and easy fun-filled educational activities, please visit my website at where you can take advantage of the half-price sale and enter to win a GREAT PRIZE for your preschooler.

I hope you’ll stop by tomorrow for Make-A-Meal Monday.  Based on today’s movie pick, our theme for the week is Companionship.

Healthy Habit Thursdays: It’s a Question of Moving!

New Zealand postage stamp, 1933: Public health.

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We all know that it is important to “stay in shape”.

But, what does that mean…and how can we accomplish that?

One of the most important factors in staying in shape is to exercise on a regular basis.  I’m not sure that is matters exactly what you do…you could walk, jog, run, swim, play tennis, do aerobics…the list is endless.

What matters is that you DO IT ON A REGULAR BASIS!

We need to make exercising a HABIT.

The dictionary defines “habit” as:

  • A regularly repeated behavior pattern
  • An action or pattern of behavior that is repeated so often that it becomes typical of somebody
  • A recurrent, often unconscious pattern of behavior that is acquired through frequent repetition.

Throughout our lives, we deal with many habits…making them and then, if they are “bad ones” breaking them…like biting nails, curling hair, smoking.

So why not make it a habit to exercise on a daily basis…if you do it often enough, it will become an unconscious pattern of behavior for you.

How much time do you need to devote to establishing this new habit?

This really depends on your state of health right now…but, just 15 minutes a day can bring great benefits to you.

Just 15 minutes a day…take a walk around the block.

Just 15 minutes a day…dance to some favorite tunes.

Just 15 minutes a day…the possibilities are endless…just keep in mind how limber you are now and don’t push yourself to the point of pain or discomfort.

Another activity that takes just 15 minutes a day…read a picture book to your child.  Or do a craft project.  Or prepare an easy-peasy recipe.

Maybe you can make this a habit also. 🙂  If you are looking for story suggestions or educational fun-filled activities, please check out my book.  There is a great half-price sale going on right now with a bonus prize…no purchase necessary to enter.

Please stop by tomorrow for Follow-Me-Fridays: Where’s Miss Vivian?  The kindergarten children at Taylor School loved Katy and the Big Snow!

Restful Sleep…Crucial Factor in the Fight Against Obesity

Main health effects of sleep deprivation (See ...

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I know I feel out-of-sorts when I haven’t had a good night’s sleep. And I had heard (thought it was a rumor) that lack of sleep could cause weight gain. 

Tonight, one of our local TV stations ran a special report on kids who get too little sleep being at risk for obesity and diabetes.

So I did a little research and found that studies have shown that “insufficient nighttime sleep among infants and preschool-aged children appears to be a lasting risk factor for subsequent obesity.” (WebMD Health News)

I’m always blaming fast food, super-sized meals and lack of exercise on the increase our country is seeing in childhood obesity and juvenile diabetes.  But, now it seems that we can add another villain to the mix.

And that is one more reason to set up those bedtime routines for your children…and STICK to them.  One of the pediatricians on the TV report had several suggestions: 

  • Bedtime should be the SAME time EVERY night for your child. 
  • Wind down 30 to 60 minutes before bedtime. 
  • Children should be getting 9 to 10 hours of sleep every night. 
  • If you are missing an hour or two of sleep for the week, you can catch up on some sleep on the weekends. 

You can refer back to yesterday’s post about bedtime routines for more tips.

In that post, I suggested you read CORNELIUS P. MUD, ARE YOU READY FOR BED? with your child and I provided a recipe for Overnight Cookies.  Bedtime is a very special time for young children, but without routines and limits, many try to delay going to bed as much as possible.  I promised to give you a simple craft project that may encourage good bedtime routines.  With your help, your child can “set” his clock to the particular time when he will need to be ready for his bedtime story.  Then he can check that time against the real clocks in the house and will know when he has to complete his toy cleanup in order to be ready for that special treat…the bedtime story.


You will need: A piece of cardboard (from a cereal box would be fine), metal paper fastener, construction paper, marker and scissors.

  1. Cut a large circle (the clock face) from the cardboard.
  2. Cut two “hands” (one longer and narrower than the other) from the construction paper.
  3. Attach the hands to the center of the clock with the paper fastener.
  4. Draw the numbers in the correct order on the clock face.

Parents…keep in mind that if you’ve been trying to lose a few pounds yourselves (as I have been), perhaps getting a good night’s sleep on a regular basis may do as much for you as cutting back on calories and exercising.  In fact, if you treat all three elements…restful sleep, nutrition (not diet) and exercise with respect, you may be rewarded with better health than you ever had before.  Believe me, I know how difficult it is to call it quits for the night…there always seems to be something else that MUST be done…laundry folded, dishes put away, lunches made for the next day, bills to pay and checkbook to balance…the list goes on and on.  This is another reason that making lists of short and long-term goals as well as a daily to-do will help organize and prioritize what needs to be done.

P.S. This post somehow got put in drafts and didn’t get posted on Tuesday…sorry. 🙂

Stop by tomorrow for a look at a very special lady…my grandmother…she was a role model for Positive Parental Participation in an era before spending quality time with your children was a catch-phrase.

BALANCE: How Do I Find It?

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“Be aware of wonder.  Live a balanced life – learn some and think some and draw and paint and sing and dance and play and work every day some.” – Robert Fulghum

We all need balance in our lives.   All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy – this old saying definitely holds true today. 

But what is balance?

The dictionary defines balance as harmony, a state in which nothing is out of proportion or unduly emphasized at the expense of the rest.

There is no standard “one size fits all” spreadsheet for balance because we are all unique individuals with different needs and different situations.  However, to optimize the quality of our lives, we can take a look at how we spend our days (and nights).  Are you working too many hours?  Do you tend to let certain activities slide due to lack of time?  How much TV is watched in your home?  Please don’t get me wrong…I enjoy watching TV…but I also realize that if we don’t put the TV on in the evening, I get so much done.  And when I look at my watch, it is only 9PM.  But I do have to admit that my time spent on the computer these days often occupies an unbalanced proportion of my day…so much so that it becomes the wee hours of the morning when I finally feel I am done.   SO NOT GOOD!  This weekend I plan to sit down to evaluate how I am utilizing that time and hopefully I can produce a more BALANCED schedule that will be better for me AND my family.

I guess we can go back to the dictionary definition of balance: a state in which nothing is out of proportion or unduly emphasized at the expense of the rest.  So, if your family enjoys watching a show on TV, that is great…but perhaps when the show is over, you can participate in other activities…maybe a read-aloud story-time.  If there are older children, perhaps they can take turns with the adults reading to the younger children, although studies show that older children really enjoy being read to.  Or maybe have a family board game night?

According to Catherine Pulsifer in “We Never Seem to Have Enough Time”,

“We need to maintain a proper balance in our life by allocating the time we have.”

So here are a few simple ways to keep track of how you are allocating your time.

1.     Use a notebook to list your long-term and short-term goals.

2.     Make a to-do list each night for the next day…you will sleep better each night and you won’t realize late in the next day that you’ve forgotten to do something important.  For me, writing down what I need to do gives me peace of mind.

3.     Set up a daily routine or schedule, especially if you have children.  Life can get really chaotic if you don’t have a plan in place.

Do you have a daily routine or schedule in place?  Stop by tomorrow for a look at the successful routine I used with my daycare group and my own family when my children were small.

The Calendar Doesn’t Lie


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I glanced at the calendar this morning and almost went into shock.  January 18, 2011.  The month of January is already half over and it feels like I just put away the Christmas decorations.  Well, actually, I did just put away the Christmas decorations.  Please tell me yours are still up so I will feel better.

So we are halfway through the first month of the new year and I think it’s time to check and see how I am doing with my goals…or New Year’s Resolutions for those of you who like that title better.  Here is my list…I’ve graded myself so I can see where I need to improve or what goals I might need to modify…I’m allowed to do that, right?

  • BLOG EVERY DAY…A.   However, I’m not sure this is something I can continue throughout the rest of the year…at least not on a daily basis.  It’s not that I don’t LOVE writing…because I do.  The problem is TIME or the lack of it.
  • EXERCISE EVERY DAY…C+.  I planned on doing my 25 minute low-impact Kathy Smith aerobic sequence 4 days a week and walking a mile the other 3 days.  I’ve done the 4 days a week…but have found it difficult to get out and walk the other three days.  Is it the weather?   It has been pretty cold and I am not a cold-weather lover…however I just got my routine blood labs back (everything normal!!!), but my doctor wants me to take a vitamin D supplement because my D is on the low end of normal…if I could just get out in the sunshine several days a week, that would probably take care of it.
  • DRINK 8 GLASSES OF WATER EVERY DAY…C.  I need to work harder on this!  Does everyone have a problem with this?
  • GREET EVERY DAY WITH A SMILE…A.  Eleanor Roosevelt, wife of President Franklin D. Roosevelt and stateswoman in her own right, said something that is so very true, “Today is a gift; that’s why they call it the present.”  For me it is not too difficult because I am by nature a very positive person…but I know for some, this is not an easy task.
  • DO 5 THINGS EVERY DAY TO SPREAD THE WORD ABOUT MY NEW BOOK…B.  It seems that no matter how much I accomplish, there is always something more I need to do.  And not being too savvy about social networking often makes it take two and three times as long to post something or connect with someone.  I truly welcome all feedback and insights into how I can do it better!

Giving a score of 90 for an A, 80 for a B, 75 for the C+ and 70 for the C, it looks like my report card average is an 80.  Not GREAT, but not too bad. J  Hopefully, with a little tweaking of the fluid intake and a little more effort on my part to get out and walk, I can improve my “grades”…but more importantly, I’ll be improving my overall health and that’s really my goal for 2011.

Do you review your goals at different times during the year to see if you are on track?  And if you’re not, do you beat yourself up over it and give up for the year or do you find a way to re-motivate yourself?


 Stop by tomorrow (especially if you are a parent or teacher of a preschooler) for a peek at the reading and crafting program I’m offering to local Pre-K and kindergarten classes.  It’s based on the stories and crafts that appear in my new book…educational fun-filled ideas that build self-esteem, develop pre-literacy skills and create a life-long parent-child bond!

The Big Picture: Will We Ever See It?

Winding road

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 One of the most amazing things about this blogging adventure is that it puts me in touch with so many other people. 

Reading what others write is like living in a house with hundreds, thousands or even millions of windows…all equipped with a set of curtains, shutters, window shades or blinds.  Each time you click on someone’s blog post, it is like pushing aside the curtains or opening the shutters, shades or blinds on that person’s mind…because in what they write, they are revealing their thoughts, hopes, dreams, concerns and beliefs.

Sometimes the posts are funny and sometimes they are sad.  Some are informative and others are just very entertaining.  But all of them have the potential of opening our minds and helping us find some inner truth we have been searching for.

This happened to me late last night as I read a post by one of my favorite bloggers: Eof737MirthandMotivation  She began her post with a quote that is a favorite of mine about everything happening for a reason.  I do believe this is true but it got me thinking, especially in the aftermath of the Arizona tragedy, about how unfair life sometimes seems and how bad things happen to good people.

Picture you are walking down a road.   This is your life’s journey.  You can see what is in front of you and, if you turn your head, you can see a little to the sides and behind you as well.  But you can’t see around the corner, nor do you know what you will find way down the road or what will happen if you take one of the side streets or forks in the road. 

If, however, you could view the road from a plane or a point of really high elevation, you would see a lot more of what was ahead.   However, you still wouldn’t be able to see the entire journey.

And perhaps that is one of the reasons why people who have a belief in God or a High Power or a Universal Creator can be more peaceful and positive about this difficult journey of life.  They KNOW that there is a plan to all of this often bewildering, confusing and frustrating existence.  They believe that even if they can’t see the whole journey, the Planner can, and they take comfort in that knowledge.

Whatever your beliefs, there are some basic things that we can do that will help us meet each day at our best.  If you are a parent, these simple steps will help you give your children your best as well.  Each day is a precious gift and should be used with loving care.

  • Get enough sleep…if you wake up refreshed and ready to meet the day, you’ve probably had the right amount…the number of hours needed is different for each person…but it should normally be about 8 hours…more for young people.
  • Eat healthy…fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, nix the processed, fatty and sugary stuff and fast-food take-out.
  • Stay hydrated…if you feel thirsty, your body is already dehydrated…eight glasses of water may seem like an impossible feat…I know it is really hard for me.
  • Meditate…find at least a few minutes every day to step back, be still, and embrace peacefulness.
  • Keep a positive attitude..and smile…did you know that when you answer the phone, the person on the other end can tell if you are smiling? 
  • Stay connected to others…whether you go out to work or you are home with a houseful of young children (maybe especially if you are home with a houseful of young children), social interaction is important for your well-being.

Maybe that’s why social networking has become so popular world-wide…we all have a need to be connected with others. 

And where does blogging fit into the scheme of things?   It allows us to share our thoughts and find out what others are saying.  What do you think?

Scarlett O’Hara: Goal-Setting Goddess

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Have you ever seen the movie, “Gone With The Wind”?  My husband always laughs at me because I’ve probably seen it a dozen times or more.  It’s an epic love story based on the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel by Margaret Mitchell that takes place during the American Civil War.  It portrays the relationships between the main characters, Scarlett O’Hara, Rhett Butler, Melanie Hamilton and Ashley Wilkes, and it explores how each act and react during the turmoil of war.

If you’ve seen the movie, I’m sure you can picture that iconic scene when Scarlett, the spoiled daughter of a wealthy plantation owner, returns to her beloved Tara after fleeing from the burning, war-torn city of Atlanta.  Starving, she searches the ravaged vegetable garden and finds only a few withered turnips (or maybe they were parsnips).  She stuffs them into her mouth, but her empty stomach is no match for dirty withered roots and she falls to the ground, vomiting.  Picking herself up, she raises her fist skyward and declares that no matter what she has to do from now on, “I will never go hungry again”.  And she doesn’t!

Many of you may feel that Scarlett is not a very nice person and you would probably be right.  Early in the movie, she marries Charles Hamilton for spite to get back at Ashley Wilkes, whom she believes she really loves but who has just announced he is marrying his cousin, Melanie Hamilton (Charles’ sister).  Widowed almost immediately (Charles gets sick and dies before he goes to battle), Scarlett goes on to marry her sister’s long-time suitor, a moderately successful store owner, in order to get $300 from him to pay the taxes on her plantation which is in danger of foreclosure.  And, after he dies, she marries Rhett Butler, the dashing Southern gentleman turned scoundrel turned privateer.  She says she married a boy and an old man and now she wants someone handsome and rich so that she can have fun and never have to worry about money again and will have everything she ever wanted (except Ashley who remains happily married to Melanie).  In the end, Rhett does leave her (just when she finally realizes that she doesn’t really want Ashley, but has loved Rhett all along) and Scarlett exhibits the second and third of her strongest and most positive qualities: she is forever hopeful and she never gives up.  As the door closes on Rhett and he exits her life, she has a moment in despair – and then looks up with her face alight again and declares, “I’ll go home to Tara.  Tomorrow is another day!”

Is there a parenting lesson here you might ask?  Yes, I think so.  As parents, we need to:

1.     Help our children learn to set goals.  And follow through with reaching them!

2.     Allow our children to fail, while always encouraging them to succeed.  This builds true self-esteem.  Try, try again is an old adage…but perseverance, especially in the face of adversity and disappointment, is very important to success in life.  Thomas Edison, the famous inventor, said that genius was 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration.

3.     Provide our children with a sense of security…we will be there for them no matter what.  Scarlett’s security was her home…she knew she could always recover if she went back there.  Children will come to you with their concerns if they know they won’t be judged or criticized.

4.     Instill in our children a feeling of hopefulness…problems CAN be solved…there are often other options just waiting to be revealed.  Sometimes just talking about a situation can uncover solutions.

So if you haven’t seen the movie, you might want to watch it and observe how goal-oriented Scarlett O’Hara is…and check out her unbelievable level of hope and perseverance in the face of all kinds of disasters.  And if you’ve seen it before, perhaps I’ve reawakened a wish to see it again.  It’s definitely a classic!  The Academy Awards will be broadcast on February 27th.   I know that many people enjoy seeing movies that have won the Oscar in previous years.  In 1939, Gone With The Wind won 10 Oscars, a record that stood for over 20 years.

 Stop by tomorrow for a post about Melanie Hamilton…princess of patience and loyal friend extraordinaire.