Reading and Crafting Fun with Kids

I’ve been smiling a lot these days.

During the past few weeks, the Show-Me-How Story-time with Miss Vivian program has traveled to several local kindergartens and libraries.

Back in November, the children at Edison Elementary enjoyed hearing Today I Feel Silly & Other Moods That Make My Day by Jamie Lee Curtis.  Young children are often reluctant or unable to express their feelings.  Reading a story like this one gives them the opportunity to talk about what might be bothering them.  In Chapter Four, I Am Really Mad Right Now, my book, Show Me How! Build Your Child’s Self-Esteem Through Reading, Crafting and Cooking, gives parents and teachers over a dozen picture book titles with summaries and a related quick and easy craft project and matching child-friendly cooking activity for each.

After the kindergarteners had a chance to talk about the feelings of the main character in the story and their own feelings, I showed them the fun craft we would be making.  The children were excited to work on the smiling/frowning paper plate.  We punched a hole in the top and pushed a piece of yarn through so they would be able to hang it up on the door to their room…anyone entering will know how they are feeling…another wonderful opportunity for parents to engage  their children in a discussion about emotions.

I was thrilled to receive a bunch of letters and pictures from Ms. Gustafson’s class, thanking me for sharing the story and craft activity with them. 

This past week, I visited with the kindergarteners at Fremont Elementary.  Again I was met with smiling children, eager to hear The Kissing Hand by Audrey Penn.  Ms. Vassar’s class was excited to hear about the little raccoon who didn’t want to leave his mother to go to school until she shares a special secret with him. 


Young children can relate to this story very well…many of them are anxious about leaving home to go to school or daycare.  Again, picture books can be a wonderful vehicle for calming a child’s fears or helping him realize that others feel just the way he does. 


After the story was over, the children made Kissing Hand pictures.   Tracing the outline of their hands onto a piece of paper, I encouraged the children to think about who they love and who loves them.  Each finger represented someone important in their lives. 

Then, on Saturday, I read the same picture book at the Penrose Library’s 10:30am Story-time.  Many of the children attending were only three and four years old, but they still loved hearing the story and looking at the beautiful illustrations.  Very young children are developing important pre-literacy skills when parents read to them.  Knowing how to hold a book, turning the pages from front to back, reading the pictures from left to right, observing and pointing out things they see in the pictures…these are all important skills they MUST learn before they can read themselves. 

Because the holidays are fast approaching, I changed the craft that accompanied the story and we made Kissing Hand Ornaments.  Each child received a handprint, cut from cardstock paper that was white on one side and glittery color on the other.  Using the white side, the children and their parents drew faces of family members on the fingers.  The handprints had a hole punched at the top and a piece of yarn strung through so they can be hung from the Christmas tree, if desired.

It only takes 15 minutes to read a picture book story.  It only takes 15 minutes to do a simple craft project.  Such a little amount of time…but it has such a great impact.   “If you want to be in your children’s memories tomorrow, you need to be in their lives today.” 

I implore parents: please do this with your young children.  Go to the library.  Get out a few picture books.  Read them with your children.  Get some paper and crayons and draw with your children.  Staple several pages together and let them make their own “book” and have them tell you the story they have drawn.

The book I wrote last year is a perfect addition to your home library…with 100 classic picture book recommendations; you only have to flip through the table of contents to find the perfect book to read to your child.  When you open to that page, you will find the story summary, a tip on why that particular book is helpful to read to your child, a quick and easy craft project and a child-friendly healthful recipe…all laid out for you in a simple, easy-to-use format.  Most of the crafts use only paper, crayons or markers…some also need a glue stick, pair of scissors and pictures cut from magazines or catalogs.  Most of the recipes are low-fat, low sugar and high fiber…many are even no-cook, like fresh orange juice made from squeezing oranges and peanut butter balls made from peanut butter, honey and dry milk. 

I wish I had had this book when my children were growing up…everything in one place…no guesswork involved when it comes to planning activities for young children. 

If you order the book NOW, you will be able to start the New Year off right.

Don’t delay…at $24.95, it makes the perfect gift for yourself or anyone you know who has young children.  It even makes a great baby shower gift…unique and priceless…with great parenting tips on building a child’s self-esteem and creating a life-long parent-child bond.

And we all want that…don’t we?  Please visit the Show Me How website now and order a copy today!

The Fine Bamboo Fly Rod: A Book Review and More

Kirkfield, Stuart – The Fine Bamboo Fly Rod: A Master’s Secrets of Restoration and Repair – Colorado Springs, 1999, Cork & Cane Press, 2nd Edition, Hardcover, Dust Jacket, Brand-New – Signed.

When I write a post about a book, I’m usually reviewing a children’s book.  Today, however, I’m going to talk about a different type of book…one for people who love bamboo rods and fly-fishing. 

When I met my husband over 48 years ago, neither of us knew anything about fly-fishing.  In fact, in 1969, we went fishing on the Gibbon River in Yellowstone National Park and saw a sign in the river that read, “FLIES ONLY” and we walked away wondering how someone would catch and kill the flies and attach them to the hook.

As soon as we got home, my husband began to research this “fly-fishing” and soon was “hooked” himself.  To make a long story short, he was so intrigued with the mystique of fly-fishing, he studied everything about it that he could find and soon was refinishing bamboo fly rods for prestigious companies like Abercrombie and Fitch

In 1986, he wrote a book on the subject, The Fine Bamboo Fly Rod: A Master’s Secrets of Restoration and Repair, which was published by Stackpole Press.  This book has become “the bible” for people who want to know how to restore or repair their cherished bamboo fly rods.  Many of these treasures are passed down from generation to generation and are valued at many thousands of dollars…so it is very important to be able to fix the problems that may occur with age and use.

Inside the book you will find detailed instructions and close-up photographs on:

  • Making the assessment…what is wrong and what you need to do
  • Stripping the rod
  • Guide and wrap placement
  • Varnishing the wraps and rod
  • Cleaning the cork
  • Installing a new grip
  • Repairing broken tips
  • Repairing hook digs
  • And more than a dozen additional topics

Gerald J. Mullen’s brilliant photography has captured every step in each process and helps even a novice understand what needs to be done and how to do it.

Of course, for the person who wants to restore or repair a bamboo fly rod, this is an awesome book.  It also has great value for anyone who is interested in the history of bamboo fly rods and the spiritual attachment that anglers have for them.  The book is beautifully written and even someone who is not into fly-fishing will enjoy reading it.

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

I’m thrilled that my husband has agreed to offer his book on my website.  I’ve done several posts about how fishing with young children is a wonderful intergenerational activity.  Parents, grandparents and children will enjoy being together in the beautiful outdoors and all can learn from each other.  Fishing provides a great opportunity to encourage children to protect and preserve our rivers, streams and the environment.

If you need some gear to outfit your kids you can go to the website of Take A Kid Flyfishing.

If you want a great children’s book that is a wonderful read for adults as well as kids and that is super cool way to introduce children to fly-fishing and how important it is to take care of our environment, you can go to the website of Olive, the Little Wooly Bugger

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

            This NEW, AUTOGRAPHED, hardcover copy of bamboo rod restoration and repair is THE BIBLE on this long-kept secret art and is currently priced at $169.00 per copy, with used copies selling online right now in the $200 – $300+ price range.

“Belongs on the bookshelf of every fly-fisherman!” – U.B.K, Hoboken, NJ

“I’m fortunate in that someone very special recognized my interest with a generous gift of Stuart Kirkfield’s book.” – Gerald Buckley, Tulsa, OK

“Craftsmen like Stuart Kirkfield kept the magic of bamboo rods alive.” – Ronald Barch, editor, The Planing Form Newsletter

            Now – as a special promotion for the readers of Positive Parental Participation and my followers on Twitter and other social media – brand-new copies (straight out of the publisher’s shipping carton) are available for only $99.95 each.  A very limited number of copies are being made available at this price.

The holidays will be here soon!  If you have any fly-fishermen (or fisher-women) you are fond of, why not give them something they might never get for themselves.

            Please visit again for my next post…I’ll be sharing some quick fixes for those temper tantrums that sometimes flare up while we are holiday shopping with kids.

Holiday Stress and How to Renew, Relax and Rejuvenate

'Windows Into the World', United States, New Y...

Image by WanderingtheWorld ( via Flickr

Life can be very stressful, especially for parents.

Juggling work, home and family responsibilities can rob us of our peace of mind.

Add to that the upcoming gift-giving holidays and you increase the stress level exponentially.  Our expectations of what the holidays should be often conflict with our finances and our available time and energy and we are doomed to disappointment.  Letting go of the past can definitely help.  For more information and great tips from Deepak Chopra, read a recent post from a great blogger, Nancy at Spirit Lights the Way.

Stress is a factor in many health-related conditions…and parents who are under a lot of stress can over-react when their children misbehave…for some of these parents, a crying baby or a toddler who wets his training pants can elicit rage and inappropriate punishment resulting in physical or emotional harm to the child.

How can we relieve stress in our lives?

  • Recognize that you are feeling stressed.
  • Make a list of the stress factors in your life.
  • Find solutions to each of these problems…when my children were younger and didn’t have much money to buy gifts for me, I told them to write a love letter or draw a picture…those letters and pictures are still dear to me and I treasured them more than the sweater or scarf they couldn’t buy.  Want to have a family get-together but can’t afford to buy all the food and trimmings?  Have a family pot-luck, with every member of the family bringing a casserole, side-dish or dessert!  No time to make those “from scratch” holiday cookies or don’t like to bake?  It’s true I encourage parents to spend time in the kitchen with their children, making nutritious meals and snacks…and my book, Show Me How!, provides 100 healthful, child-friendly recipes…but you can buy the refrigerated cookie dough rolls and just slice them, bake them and decorate with edible gel.  Maybe you have a friend who LOVES to bake holiday cookies…how about offering to watch her children while she bakes.  Perhaps you love to shop and she doesn’t…be her personal shopper in exchange for several dozen cookies.  There are always options for every situation.
  • Ask for help…if you have a friend or two who are in the same situation, plan to watch their children while they have a free morning, afternoon or evening to relax or shop or cook or bake or clean together without kids tagging along…and then rotate so that each parent gets a chance to have this special time.
  • Carve out some time for yourself every day…while your children are in school or napping, take a bubble bath, read a chapter in a good book, dance to your favorite music, exercise to a great DVD, walk in a park and listen to the birds.  I love watching a classic movie in the evening and munching on a bowl of air-popped popcorn…each person has to find what works for them to relieve the stress that is part of life.
  • Check out online shopping deals…this can save you time and money…and you won’t have to drag the kids along.  Many bloggers have holiday gift guides this year…a really nice one is from Jenny at MyLittleMe.
  • Start some simple family traditions…your children will remember them even when they are grown and on their own.  For a wonderful list of fun and frugal holiday possibilities, please go to  this post by Prerna, The Mom Writes.

Wondering what to get the young children on your list?  How about picture books and arts and crafts supplies?  Reading with young children and participating positively with them in arts and crafts activities builds self-esteem, develops pre-literacy skills and strengthens the parent-child connection.  Visit your local library…you can borrow the books for FREE and many libraries have an area where they sell discarded library books or donated books VERY CHEAPLY…sometimes for only 10 cents a book!

If you are looking for some guidance as to which books to choose, Show Me How! Build Your Child’s Self-Esteem Through Reading, Crafting and Cooking is the answer.  Please visit my website for an online special that can’t be beat…only $19.95 per copy!  This ultimate resource of picture book suggestions, EASY eco-friendly craft projects and QUICK child-friendly healthful recipes is also the perfect gift for any parents, grandparents, preschool and kindergarten teachers, daycare providers, babysitters or nannies on your gift list!



Photo of Christmas on Fifth Avenue: WanderingtheWorld

Chlldren’s Birthday Parties: Then and Now


Happy Birthday to You! Happy Birthday to You! Happy Birthday dear………”

Do you remember the birthday parties you had when you were a child?

I do, even though it was a long, long time ago. 🙂

My mom would bake a cake and invite a few of my friends over.  We would play games like Pin the Tail on the Donkey and Musical Chairs.  Then I would open the presents and thank each child for the gift, saving all of the ribbon and wrapping paper for future arts and crafts projects.  Then we children would sit down and my mom would bring in the cake with candles lit while everyone sang Happy Birthday.  When the party was over, I would hand each child a little bag with a few small items: balloon, whistle, box of cracker-jack.

Parties these days are often very different.  Many children go to preschool or other childcare facilities where they have a dozen friends or more.  Add to that neighbor children and family members and you can wind up with a list of two dozen children that need to be invited.   In addition, in many families, both parents are working outside the home and having such a big party at home is more than they can cope with.


A whole new industry has emerged: facilities that cater to parties for two, three and four year olds.  There are bounce house and other indoor playground-type facilities, in addition to museums, zoos and farms that will put together a program of activities including food and time for opening presents…all supervised by their employees.


Earlier this month, I visited my daughter and her family in New Hampshire and helped celebrate my grandson’s third birthday at BounceU in Bedford, NH.  The children had a ball!  Parents could participate with their children if they wanted to…climbing and sliding and bouncing.  The pizza they served was pretty good and the birthday cake was delicious.  One of the employees even sat close, writing down who the gift was from and what it was, while presents were being unwrapped.


I know my grandson had a wonderful time and was thrilled to have all of his friends wishing him a happy birthday.  All of the children were delighted with the activities and their parents were pleased with the BounceU facility.

The big birthday party was celebrated on a Sunday, but my grandson’s actual birthday fell on the next day.  His dad had to work, but came home early so that we could all spend the afternoon at a beautiful nearby park.


Jeremy got to try out the birthday present he had received from his Grampy, a new fishing rod!


And when we got home, Jeremy got to open presents from his mom and dad…and blow out the candles on a small birthday cake that was just perfect for the four of us.

I was happy that Jeremy got to experience these two different birthday celebrations.  Although the larger party was certainly lots of fun, there were elements in the smaller one that made it so very special and harkened back to those parties of long ago.

What are your thoughts?

 Whether you need a birthday present or a holiday gift, take advantage of the online special of the book that provides QUICK and EASY activities that build self-esteem, develop literacy skills and strengthen the parent-child connection.   I know that every parent wants to accomplish all of those goals.  Visit my website or Amazon and grab a copy or two of the award-winning Show Me How! Build Your Child’s Self-Esteem Through Reading, Crafting and Cooking…now more than 50% offONLY $19.95.

The Day No One Played Together: A Story About Compromise Gets a 5-Star Review


“Mommieeeeee……..Crystal won’t play with me!!!!!!”

If you have young children, I’m sure you have heard something like this before.

We are always working on interpersonal relationships, even as adults…and children need to learn how to get along with others, whether siblings or friends. 

Do you wonder if your children will ever get along and do you pray for an answer?

Children’s book author, Donalisa Helsley, has obviously been listening! 

Her newest book, 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: grab a copy of this book…read it 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:

You can like her on Facebook:

You can contact her:

The book is available for purchase on Amazon, B&, Goodreads and the author’s website.  I definitely recommend The Day No One Played Together: A Story About Compromise as a MUST-HAVE for every young child’s bookshelf and the library in every preschool and kindergarten classroom.

I’m grateful to Ms. Helsley for sending me a copy of her book.  It was my pleasure to read it and my honor to review it.  I plan to use the book in my Show-Me-How Story-time with Miss Vivian programs in local schools and libraries during the next few months.  I know the children will love hearing about Jadyn and Genesis and will be able to relate what happened to the two sisters in the story to their own struggles with getting along with their playmates.  For 100 other picture book recommendations and activities to go along with them, check out the BIG holiday online special of Show Me How!

A Parenting Lesson from Buck, the Horse Whisperer

Last night we watched “Buck”, a documentary about a horse whisperer that is an absolute must-see for every parent and teacher.

“Horse whisperer?” you say.  “I raise (or teach) children, not horses.”

Please let me explain.

Buck Brannaman was raised by a bullying abusive father.  As young boys in the 1960’s, he and his brother performed as trick rope artists.  On the surface, the life of these children looked glamorous…fancy cowboy outfits, cereal commercials on TV, traveling across the country.  But behind closed doors, Buck’s father beat them mercilessly.  When a school coach discovered the situation, he intervened and Buck and his brother were sent to a foster home.

Fortunately for Buck, the Shirley’s were loving nurturing foster parents who understood that he needed to learn to believe in himself before he could trust and believe in others. 

Parenting is a very difficult task, probably the hardest job in the world.  And we often model our parenting on the way our own parents behaved towards us when we were children.  Problems arise when our parents were not good role models…and that’s what is so amazing about this documentary.  It reveals that Buck was able to turn his back on the bad parenting he had experienced as a young child and instead, mirror the skills of his foster parents, not only with his own child, but also with horses.

Buck travels around the country forty weeks out of the year giving four-day horse clinics.  People come with their horses to learn how to improve the connection between horse and rider.

Can we take some of Buck’s horse whisperer advice and apply it to our own situations, raising our children and improving the parent-child connection?

We definitely can and should!

1.    Take Buck’s advice, “live in the moment…you don’t have to live in the past”.  If your parents lacked good parenting skills, find other role models and do a better job with your own children.  There are many resources in your area that you can turn to for help and support.

2.    “Horses (and children) are a mirror of your soul”, as Buck so aptly put it…observe the behavior (or misbehavior) and then see what you are doing (or not doing) that might account for that behavior.  If your child is exhibiting a behavior that is inappropriate, you need to act…be consistent, enforce consequences, and always show compassion.  Again, local agencies are available to offer help and support.

3.    Buck says, “discipline and encourage…don’t discipline and discourage”.  If you feel that you and/or any other adult in the home have anger management issues or you have a concern for the safety of your children or yourself, contact Childhelp immediately or call 1-800-4-A-CHILD

You’ll find similar suggestions in my book for parents and teachers, Show Me How! Build Your Child’s Self-Esteem Through Reading, Crafting and Cooking. 




For a LIMITED TIME (October 23 – November 23), we are offering a brand-new signed and inscribed copy of Show Me How! for $19.95.  This is the lowest priceit has even been…over 50% off the cover price!  You won’t find a new copy cheaper ANYWHERE.  This is a ONE MONTH on-line special only on my website where you can purchase the book securely through PayPal and or on Amazon, if you prefer.

What a great gift this book makes for parents, grandparents, preschool and nursery teachers, nannies, daycare providers, babysitters and early childhood education students!  Are any of those people on your holiday gift list?

“The book is both a tool and a workbook that helps loving adults encourage children to identify and safely communicate their feelings, to develop skills to problem solve and to make healthy choices.” – Ellen Levy, MSW, LCSW, Executive Director, Adoption Choice Center, Colorado Springs, CO

  • Story suggestions help you choose the right book to read with your child.
  • Arts and crafts projects are QUICK AND EASY.
  • Empowers parents
  • Engages children

Click here for another great review of Show Me How!  And please don’t put off buying a copy at this great price…for under $20 you will be giving a unique personalized gift to a friend, teacher or family member and the gift of self-esteem to a child.

Year-Round School: Has Its Time Come?


I was thinking about what my next blog would be when I received a comment from Kat at which sparked today’s post.

In my post on Is it Too Early to Begin Planning for the New School Year?, I referenced an article from  Kat was kind enough to respond to that and she mentioned a great and FREE program that will help kids have fun learning this summer.  Here is her comment:

“Hi Vivian:  Thanks for sharing our computers in preschools article!  I also thought I’d let you know about our Summer Activities Challenge.  For parents who want to help their kids have fun learning this summer (in part to help get ready for the next school year) it’s a great (and free!) program.  Parents can sign up here:   Then they just need to complete at least 5 activities before the end of July and they’ll receive a personalized Certificate of Achievement and be entered to win some great prizes including a $500 Back to School Splurge.  Hope you and some of your readers will join us!”

As parents, we are always on the lookout for stuff to do with our kids…so check it out…this should be fun!

It made me think about the Summer Reading Programs at our local library back in Connecticut when our children were young…they really looked forward to participating and reading as many books as they could…how proud they each were with the certificate they received at the end of the summer!  I know that the Pikes Peak Library here in Colorado Springs also has summer reading programs Library Summer Reading Program: One World, Many Stories…what a great (and FREE) on-going activity for this summer!

Two months of summer vacation is an old remnant from the days when most people were farmers and their children were needed to help during the late spring and summer…planting, harvesting and weeding.  But these days, most people do NOT need their children home for two months during the summer…in fact, there are many reasons why this is an out-dated mode of planning a school year. 

  • School-readiness is often lost during the summer vacation…children get out of the habit of the school routine and all that implies…proper bedtime, early rising, good breakfast, getting things needed in the morning laid out the night before.
  • Studies show that children (and adults) forget much of what they learn if it is not used on a regular basis.
  • Everyone needs time off and a break in the routine…but two months is much too much.

I know that the idea of year-round school is one that has been talked about for decades…and there are some private schools that may adhere to it.  But most public schools still operate on the old schedule we all remember from our school days. 

What are your thoughts on year-round school?  Please share!

I also wanted to share some GOOD NEWS!  I’m partnering with the Family Christian Bookstore in Colorado Springs and will be doing a FREE Back-to-School program for parents and their preschoolers (ages 2-5+…kindergarteners and first graders are more than welcome) on Saturday, August 6th from 11am to 2pm.  We’ll be reading a story that addresses the topic of school anxiety and then doing a simple craft project that the children will be able to take home.  Parents will be able to pick up a couple of free flyers with additional activity ideas and simple tips to help insure a smooth transition from home to school.  In addition, any parent who fills out the entry form will be entered to win a gift package of preschool craft supplies. 

Please, please spread the word about this FREE and FUN-FILLED event for parents and children.  The manager of the bookstore told me that “author” events are not usually well-attended, but I know this is a topic of great importance and relevance to parents of preschoolers…also for parents whose children are starting a NEW school or starting daycare or nursery school for the first time.  If you are local to Colorado Springs, please stop in to say hello!  If parents show an interest, I plan to do a monthly program with different topics and stories and crafts each month…the manager of the Family Christian Bookstore has already given me the go-ahead.

Finding activities to do with our kids, especially during the long summer when they are home, can be a challenge.  I’ve continued my Jump-Into-Summer Sale on my website where you can pick up a copy of Show Me How! Build Your Child’s Self-Esteem Through Reading, Crafting and Cooking for 50% off the cover price.  Buy online securely with PayPal or send a check or money order to me and you will have a treasure-trove of picture book story suggestions and summaries, parenting tips, easy eco-friendly craft projects and simple child-friendly healthful recipes all geared towards LEARNING, BUILDING A POSITIVE SELF-IMAGE and HAVING FUN!