Show-Me-How Story-time with Miss Vivian Travels to Chicago

Downtown from the lakefront, Chicago, IL, USA

Frank Sinatra sang songs about many of the cities that he loved…New York – San Francisco – Chicago.

After a fantastic long weekend in Chicago, I’ll have to echo some of his words (written by Sammy Kahn and Jimmy Van Heusen):

Chicago is one town

That won’t let you down

It’s my kind of town.

I arrived on Friday morning and spent the day relaxing with my son and daughter-in-law at their home.  Visiting with them is like going to a spa…they LOVE to cook “healthy” and every morning they start the day with a bowl of fresh fruit…mangoes, papayas, bananas, apples, peaches…drizzled with a little honey.  For lunch each day, my son made a huge vegetable salad bowl for each of us…cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, celery, mushrooms…all topped with some capers and a splash of aged blueberry balsamic   vinegar.

My book event, Starting School Jitters Be Gone, on Saturday at Lollie, a children’s boutique in Evanston, just 20 minutes north of downtown Chicago, was so much fun!  This shop is an amazing place…filled with many handmade and locally designed clothes and accessories, as well as other unique items for infants, toddlers and children.  The owner is knowledgeable, helpful and a really lovely lady…I know if I lived in the Chicago area, I’d stop in there for any new baby gifts I needed, as well as for birthday and Christmas presents for any little ones on my list.

Of course, Mother Nature had her own plans for 11am, the time the first presentation was to start.  The skies over the entire Chicago area darkened, and the heavens poured forth a torrential rainstorm, accompanied by huge claps of thunder and crackling flashes of lightening. 

Inside Lollie, however, everything was bright and cheery.  A group of young children listened attentively as I read The Kissing Hand by Audrey Penn.  As the story about Chester unfolded, the children heard how the little raccoon, anxious about his first day of kindergarten, learned a secret from his mother that helped him overcome his fear and go to school with eager anticipation. 

After the story reached its happy conclusion, I showed the children a sample of the craft project and explained how we would all be making “Kissing Handprints”…deciding who we loved and who loved us and then drawing in the features for each person (or pet or stuffed animal) on each finger.

Parents and children clustered around the craft table and we proceeded to draw an outline of each child’s hands.  The hum of happy children, busily engaged in a constructive activity with their parents, is definitely music to my ears.  “This finger is going to be my mommy” said one little girl.  “And those are my dogs” she added.

The storm had ended by the time the second presentation was over.  My son and daughter-in-law, who had brought me and had assisted during the program, helped me pack everything up.  I’m looking forward to my next trip to Chicago…Lollie’s owner has invited me to come back to do another program, whenever I’m in town.  Show Me How! Build Your Child’s Self-Esteem Through Reading, Crafting and Cooking is available at the shop for those of you who are in the Chicago area.

The next few days were filled with family visits, an afternoon at the beach – unbelievable to have a REAL sandy beach with what looks and smells like the ocean (it’s really Lake Michigan) right across the street from the downtown area of a major city – and an architectural river boat cruise.  It was difficult to leave…I’m already looking at my calendar to see when my next jaunt to Chicago will be.

My next post will be a review of a children’s book, A Reel Cool Summer, written by Martha Rodriguez.  We connected online and she loved my book and did a great review of it.  I brought her book on my trip and was able to share it with my great-niece and great-nephew…they absolutely loved it and were totally engaged in the story…so  in my next post, it will be my turn to tell everyone why they need to run out and get a copy of Ms. Rodriguez’ fun-filled book for children ages 6-9.

Photo credit: Thanks to JCrocker for the Chicago skyline pic.

Rocky Mountain PBS Kids Fun Fest: That’s Where Miss Vivian Will Be!

Mrs. Laura Bush poses with children and Cliffo...

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Last week was my last Show-Me-How Story-time presentation for this school year.

I wasn’t sure if I would have anything to tell you about in the upcoming weeks on Follow-Me-Fridays: Where’s Miss Vivian.

But I guess I had nothing to be concerned about. 🙂

Yesterday I met with the head of the District 11 Volunteer Program to go over our plans for the Show-Me-How Story-time presentations for the new school year (which will be here before we know it considering how quickly time is passing).

The response from teachers has been overwhelmingly positive…I know I will be even busier come August and September as the flyer with four new stories and crafts is distributed to all of the kindergarten and Pre-K teachers in District 11 schools.  We decided that these picture books will focus on end of summer and fall themes and I am excited to look through Show Me How! Build Your Child’s Self-Esteem Through Reading, Crafting and Cooking to choose four classic picture books and appropriate craft projects that will be enjoyed by all of the children.

We also discussed my connecting with the PTA to offer them presentations for parents and teachers…Positive Parental Participation is a powerful approach that builds a child’s self-esteem and creates a life-long parent-child bond.  I hope to be involved in school book fairs this coming year as well.

When I got home from the meeting, I went online and noticed that there is going to be an awesome local event next month, sponsored by Rocky Mountain PBS Kids and Pikes Peak Parent.  The Rocky Mountain PBS Kids Fun Fest will take place at Acacia Park in downtown Colorado Springs on Saturday, June 11 from 10am – 2pm.

I called PBS and was able to secure a spot for SHOW ME HOW!  I’ll be reading and crafting with children (WHAT FUN!) and look forward to being a part of this fun-filled day.  Here’s a copy of the information from PBS Kids’ Facebook Page:

Join us for the Southern Colorado Rocky Mountain PBS Kids Fun Fest – a fantastic FREE festival for kids and families. (Also, the opening day of the Uncle Wilber Fountain)

Meet Curious George and Clifford the Big Red Dog; splash in Uncle Wilber Fountain; enjoy live entertainment throughout the day under the band shell; and visit over 20 booths to learn, engage and have fun!

Participants include:

Show Me How! Vivian Kirkfield
Falcon Landing Dental Group
Pikes Peak Library District
Pikes Peak YMCA, Downtown Branch
Girl Scouts of Colorado
Care and Share Food Bank
Imagination Celebration
Colorado Springs Pioneers Museum
Manitou Art Theatre
Cheyenne Mountain Zoo
Chick-fil-A of Colorado Springs
Western Museum of Mining and Industry
Barnes & Noble
Colorado Springs Children’s Chorale
Marmalade at Smokebrush
Sports Climbing Center of Colorado Springs
FutureSelf
Al Kaly Shriners
Humane Society of the Pikes Peak Region
Phonics Phantasy Tree House
Mr. E and the Magic of Kyle Groves
Wee Bee and the Smilez
Wells Fargo Bank
And more!

Rocky Mountain PBS Kids Fun Fest is sponsored by Sylvan Learning Center (2340 Vickers Drive), PikesPeakParent.com, Whole Foods Market and the Friends of the Uncle Wilber Fountain.

They are anticipating a wonderful audience for this opening-of-the-summer-season event…I hope parents who are local (Colorado Springs, Denver, Pueblo and surrounding towns) will come out to participate with their children!  It will be a great place for preschool teachers and daycare providers to get fresh ideas as well.


Also,the week after the Fun Fest, on June 18th, I’ll be in Monument, CO participating in the Summer Soul-stice town-wide crafting event for children.  If you are in the area, I hope you will stop by at the Covered Treasures Bookstore from 11am – 1pm.  I’ll be doing several craft activities with all of the children who come by.  What a lovely way to spend a summer day in Monument.

What’s happening in your local area in the next few months?  With gas prices expanding and budgets shrinking, parents and other caregivers of young children really need to be inventive in order to provide great activities that keep kids busy, happy and constructively engaged.  Simple arts and crafts activities are a low-cost perennial favorite and whipping up child-friendly recipes with your children in the kitchen is fun and costs nothing…you have to prepare breakfast, lunch and dinner anyway.  For hundreds of super easy and economical ideas, please check out my book.  New special offer will be posted this weekend!

Have You Abandoned Your New Year’s Resolutions: Healthy Habit Thursday

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If you’re like me, you start the New Year off with good intentions.

All of us probably KNOW what we should be doing to stay healthy.

Every January 1st, I make a list of New Year’s resolutions or goals.

Many of them focus on good health habits like walking every day, drinking 8 glasses of water, eating nutritious foods and getting 8 hours of sleep each night.

Then, life gets in the way!

We all lead busy lives and many of us have so many responsibilities that we often push our own needs to the back burner.


Can you believe that 2011 is almost half over?

I’m revisiting those resolutions and goals to see how realistic they were and whether or not I need to revise them.

Taking a time-management class would probably be a great thing for me to do.  I know that 24 hours should be enough time to accomplish what I want to do…the problem is making sure that I am devoting the right amount of time to each task.   Blogging always tends to take more time than I thought it would, but I love connecting with everyone. 🙂

I think what I need to do is write down a schedule of how I think each day should go…and then keep a log of what is actually happening…I’ll then see where I am spending time that might be better used in some other activity.

How do you plan your time?  I’d really appreciate your input because right now, unless I give up sleep, there is no way I can fit everything in. 🙂

I do know that I must walk and exercise…if I let a few days go by without doing it, my muscles tighten up and my back hurts.

I do know that I need to stay hydrated by drinking enough water…if I don’t, I wind up eating more…my body seems to tell me it is hungry when really all it wants is a glass of water.

I do know that I have to get at least 7 hours of sleep every night…if I try to make do with less sleep; I have a lot less energy in the morning and am less productive throughout the day.

I do know that I need to watch what I eat…if I eat “fast food” or highly processed foods, my body complains.

So I am rededicating myself to my 2011 New Year’s resolutions and goals that focus on staying healthy.  The warmer weather is here, the birds are singing, the flowers are blooming…it’s time for my walk!


Please stop by tomorrow for Follow-Me-Fridays: Where’s Miss Vivian?  I have several exciting upcoming local events (Summer Soulstice in Monument, CO – June 18, and PBS kids Fun Fest in Acacia Park, Colorado Springs – June 11) to tell you about and also a new special book offer that will go up on my website this weekend.

Cinema Sunday: My Picks of Great Flicks: The Andy Griffith Show

Alexandra Fox

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Yes, I know that The Andy Griffith Show is NOT a movie.

However, my husband recently got a membership with Netflix and we now have available to us so many of the TV series from years ago.

I can remember watching The Andy Griffith Show…loving and kind Sheriff Andy Taylor, well-meaning Aunt Bee and little Opie.  It was a great family show!

The other night, we watched the very first episode of the very first season…originally telecast in 1960…it ran for 8 seasons!

Blended families often have unique problems…step-parents worry that the children of their new spouse may not accept them, the children resent this new person who, in their eyes, can never take the place of their natural parent.

This first episode addressed that issue. 

Sheriff Taylor is a widower and his long-time housekeeper, who had been caring for his son, has just gotten married and is moving away.  Sheriff Taylor contacts his Aunt Bee and asks her to move in as a replacement.  Young Opie rejects her immediately.  He is rude and refuses to join in any activities where she is present…he misses the other housekeeper and doesn’t believe he can love anyone else who tries to take her place.   Aunt Bee tries to bond with Opie…but she doesn’t seem to be able to do the things he enjoys such as fishing.  When she hooks one and sees the little wiggling fish at the end of her line, she runs off into the woods – screaming! 

When Aunt Bee decides to go back home, Opie begs her to stay because he believes she won’t be able to get along by herself since she doesn’t know how to do important things…like fishing.  She needs HIS help!

If you are experiencing a similar problem, take a look at this episode…it will give you hope.

And, even if you are not, it was a wonderful series that brings us back to a “kinder, gentler” time.  Like The Waltons and Little House on the Prairie, The Andy Griffith Show reminds us that family values are important and family time spent together is priceless.


Summer is coming sooner than you think and children will be out of school and looking for things to do.  For a great resource that provides HUNDREDS of fun-filled, educational, self-esteem building activities for the entire family (older siblings can help their younger brothers and sisters by reading the stories to them and assisting with the craft project…and the whole family can prepare the recipe together)…please go to my website and check out SHOW ME HOW! BUILD YOUR CHILD’S SELF-ESTEEM THROUGH READING, CRAFTING AND COOKING.

Come by tomorrow for Make-A-Meal Monday.  I’ll also be up-dating my website with new activities for the month of May and a special offer in celebration of Children’s Book Week – May 2-May 8 – the oldest national literary event in the US and Mother’s Day – May 8.

Make-A-Meal Mondays: Child-Friendly Traveling Trail Mix

Flatirons with Spring flowers

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Green buds are opening up on our Clematis vine.

Iris shoots are about 10 inches tall already.

The wild cacophony of birdsong woke me at 5:30 this morning.

SPRING IS REALLY HERE!!!

Although we may get a little more funky weather here in Colorado – yesterday was Easter Sunday and a dusting of snow covered the grass when I looked out the window in the morning – the signs of spring are evident.

The school year is winding down and families will be planning outings and trips.  Some of them may have to be local…gas prices are on the rise again and it is quite costly to drive long distances.

But there is so much to do and see…even walking to a local park and having a simple picnic can be a wonderful experience for young children.  On Wednesday, I’ll review a classic story by Miriam Cohen about two young girls whose parents provide them with an exceptional vacation…just steps away from their home.

Whether you drive or walk, here is a great recipe for a child-friendly trail mix that will keep little hands and mouths occupied.

CHILD-FRIENDLY TRAVELING TRAIL MIX

 

Great to have on hand – keep several zip-lock bagsful to grab when you have to run out to the store with your child – it’s a much healthier alternative to candy bars and chips!

You will need: 2 cups Corn Chex, 2 cups Wheat Chex, 2 cups Rice Chex, 2 cups pretzels (thin sticks or mini), 1½ cups mixed nuts or peanuts (optional), 1 Tb margarine (use the healthier non-hydrogenated kind or substitute butter), 2 tsp Braggs Aminos or soy sauce and a 13x9x2 inch microwave-safe baking dish.

1.    Melt the margarine (you can do this in the microwave…just make sure you cover the dish), mix with Braggs Aminos or soy sauce and pour into the baking dish.

2.    Add the cereals, pretzels and nuts and mix thoroughly to coat.

3.    Microwave on high for three minutes.

4.    Stir and continue to heat in the microwave, one minute at a time, until evenly toasted.

5.    Makes about 2½ quarts.  Store in an airtight container.

6.    You can substitute the crispy or chex-type cereals you have on hand and eliminate the nuts if your child is too young or has nut allergies.

I often see young children in a shopping cart, fussy and hungry, mother frantically trying to grab the items she needs from the supermarket shelves.  Just think how much happier everyone would be if the child had a little zip-lock bag of this trail mix. 🙂

This is the last day to enter the Hoppy Easter Eggstravaganza Blog Hop and Giveaway.  One lucky winner will receive a copy of SHOW ME HOW! BUILD YOUR CHILD’S SELF-ESTEEM THROUGH READING, CRAFTING AND COOKING.  The Traveling Trail Mix recipe is only one of 100 child-friendly cooking activities you’ll find in this great resource for parents and teachers.  Just click on the Hoppy Easter link above, follow my blog, and you might be the winner!  And you can also check out the over 250 other blogs that are participating and offering prizes and giveaways!

Cinema Sunday: My Picks of Great Flicks: The Ten Commandments

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Cinema Sunday: My Picks of Great Flicks: The Ten Commandments

This past week was filled with holidays, for people of both the Christian and Jewish faiths.  Today is Easter Sunday and tomorrow will be the last night of Passover.

Have you seen The Ten Commandments lately?

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.

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 VCR tapes.  He was very eclectic in his movie viewing and enjoyed comedies, action/adventures, westerns, romances and thrillers.   He’d worked, in an office on the distribution side of the movie industry, for Warner Brothers and other motion picture companies ever since he was a teenager and so movies had always been part of his life.

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!

I know this was going to be a review and recommendation of The Ten Commandments…it became a post on how my dad found a way to spend “quality” time with me.  Perhaps The Ten Commandments doesn’t need any help from me.  If you are looking for a movie that kind of explains the Jewish holiday of Passover and you love epic movie productions with a cast of thousands, and you like watching films with Charlton Heston and Yul Brenner and a host of other icons of Hollywood…get a copy and a BIG bowl of popcorn (or maybe two) and enjoy!

Just a reminder – tomorrow is the last day of the Hoppy Easter Eggstravaganza Blog Hop and Giveaway.  The giveaway of a copy of Show Me How! ends at 11:59pm on Monday night.  Just click on the Blog Hop link above and leave a comment telling me you have subscribed to this blog.  You can get extra entries by grabbing my button, posting the giveaway on your blog or facebook or tweeting about it. 

 

 

Healthy Habit Thursday: THE VITAMIN BAND

An Everett piano keyboard.

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THE VITAMIN BAND

Is it a pill?

Is it a collection of musical instruments?

Is it a bracelet?

The answer to the above questions is NO!

The Vitamin Band is actually a unique children’s book by author and PhD. Olena Burda Lassen.

Ms. Lassen has developed a simple yet innovative technique that helps young children learn to play the piano while they learn about healthy eating and have lots of fun at the same time!

What could be better than that!

I met this amazing woman at a book fair and book signing a couple of weeks ago.  Her book cover (a piano keyboard) was so engaging, I had to pick up the book and flip through it.  And, once I had it in my hands, I knew I had to buy a copy to give to my two 5½ year old twin grandchildren.  The book is so appealing and such a great resource, I plan on purchasing another copy to keep on my library shelves for reference.

Her website is a magical place and you will find information about how you can purchase the book, as well as free fun-filled activities for your children.  You’ll also find her schedule of upcoming appearances and events.  Each event is sure to provide an entertaining and educationally enriching time for your children.

The book is perfection itself…printed on eco-friendly paper using soy-based inks, this is a treasure you will cherish and utilize for many years to come.

 

Please stop by tomorrow for Follow-Me-Fridays: Where’s Miss Vivian.  I visited the children at Trailblazer School this morning and I want to tell you all about it.

Also, don’t forget, the Hoppy Easter Eggstravaganza Blog Hop and Giveaway is going on right now until April 25th and you can enter and win a FREE copy of my book, Show Me How! Build Your Child’s Self-Esteem Through Reading, Crafting and Cooking.  Just click on the above link and it will take you to the post that explains how to enter!  Good luck, everyone!