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Friday, February 28, 2014

Read Across America Campaign - A Special Project Idea

Book Worms and Bubbles
An Activity to Encourage Reading
15 minutes each day
March 2014
Create a cute book worm using small colorful paper plates or circles cut from construction paper.

A Poem Just for You

Little Barry Book Worm
Reads a Book each Day
Sometimes in the morning
Sometimes after play
Sometimes in the evening
before he goes to bed
Sometimes he falls asleep
before his book's all read
Little Barry Book Worm
Invites you all to read
15 minutes each day
Is really all you need
But if you want much more
That's fine with Barry too
Reading every day
Is fun for me and you!
You can paste this cute little critter on a colorful poster board labeled with your Reading Goal for March.  Find a special place to display the poster.
"Our Special Family Book Nook" 
Cut smaller circles (bubbles)  from colorful paper.  Place them in an envelope that you can attach to the poster board. 
Each day that you read for 15 minutes, write the name of the book and the author on a "bubble".
Let your child paste the bubbles on the board around  your book worm. See how many bubbles you can collect during March. 
Have a fun month as you find new and interesting topics for your reading adventures.  Try to add different topics so your "bubbles" reflect a variety of genres:  Fiction, Non-fiction, Poetry, etc...
Happy Reading!



Thursday, February 27, 2014

Small Miracles and Simple Rewards

Small miracles occur every day in our home.  Some people don't believe in miracles.  Some people wait around for big miracles to occur.  Some people just completely miss miracles happening right before their eyes.  So here's my impression of how to observe the small things that happen and see them for what they are - small, beautiful, make-your-life happier miracles. 
Every day I am relieved and impressed every time I am able to get my two boys inspired enough to get themselves ready for school and out the door in a timely manner.  My middle school daughter is awesome and very self sufficient.  The most she might ask of me is to help put her hair up or stop by the store so she can get a snack for school.  But Thing 1 and Thing 2 must have a pact to see whose turn it will be to lolly gag and bemoan that they are too tired to wake up.  So for me, having the boys dressed, hair in place, teeth brushed, back packs ready, and layers of winter wear applied is a small miracle with big rewards.
I have three children with chronic asthma.  I can't leave the house without inhalers and antihistamines in my purse.  No, No...wait.  I just converted to a backpack for myself.  I am not joking!  I go no where without my notebooks, my writing files (with two manuscripts currently in progress), and the most important thing of portable first aid kit complete with their medications.  So any day when all three of my children are healthy and do not have asthma attacks is a small miracle.
This year I am able to work from home.  Every time I am called to school to attend to one of my children's medical needs or take them to their doctor's appointments it's a small miracle for me .  Last year's work schedule combined with my single mom status took a toll on me both physically and emotionally.  I had an amazing job.  I loved working with the children in my class and their families.  Still, it broke my heart when I was unable to be with my children every time they needed me.  Many times I would have to drive them to my parents' home 45 minutes away so they could watch my babies while I went to work.  This year I feel like I'm been granted a small miracle.
My children are very should I say this?  They are high spirited, vocally expressive, and require
frequent parental interaction to moderate certain high maintenance behaviors.  (All are fiercely independent but also crave individual time with their parents.)  How's that for putting a positive spin on things?  So any time they are engaged in an activity that helps them focus their attention on something other than arguments with each other ...I call that a small miracle. 
So as you see, these incidences have the potential to be ignored or overlooked in the midst of our harried life.  When we choose to see our blessings as miracles life seems so much more positive and palatable.  However, if we always allow ourselves to become absorbed by the deluge of stressors that infiltrate our daily routines, the small miracles become obscured.
My miracle today:  Sebastien, age 6, is back to school following a bout with asthma.   All the children got to school on time and in good health.  I decided to give myself these simple rewards.  I love the simple things:  A bottle of my favorite tea - Pure Leaf with Lemon.  I went to Walgreen's where my favorite quick facial is on sale - Buy one Get one 50% off - studio 35 beauty Deep Cleansing Mask with Seaweed Salts and Calming Mask with Aloe Vera.  I went home and made a quesadilla (so what if it's breakfast time) and ate that with a spoonful of sour cream and the best salsa ever that tastes as good as home made.  I found this salsa in the refrigerated section of our local super market next to the Queso Fresco Mexican Cheese:  Salsa Sensations - Mild "Made with Fresh ingredients. Simply fruits and vegetables from our farms to your table"  Distributed by Appa Fine Foods, Inc. Corona, CA 92880   If you warm 1/4 cup of this salsa for ~20 seconds it tastes amazing! 
Hope you find small miracles in your day and find a way to reward yourself with something simple yet soul soothing.  Now... let me get back to my schedule.  Have a Happy Thursday!


Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Read Across America Campaign begins on March 3rd

We welcome March (and the promise that Spring is hopefully around the corner) this Saturday!  It has been one long winter.  I'm sure many of us are eager to participate in a project that puts a "spring" in our step, offers a chance to dedicate some time to a worthy cause, and adds value to our children's view of literature.
March give us an opportunity to focus on reading to our children for at least 15 minutes each day.  That's not too demanding of a commitment when you consider the many responsibilities we have on our "Daily To Do" list.  The rewards are priceless and the results timeless.  I hope that all of us can participate in this campaign and I look forward to joining other parents and writers as we collaborate to promote this worthy cause. 

Coming Soon:  A Special Project that you can easily design to document your participation and help your children get excited about reading.  I will have this ready no later than Friday so you will be ready to go on March 3rd!

Special Acknowledgment

My favorite blog site by a super mom and awesome writer.  Visit her site for plenty of great book reviews and amazing selections for Early Childhood Literature.  Perfect resource for the March Campaign.  Check this out!
shared Read Aloud's photo.
Check it out.
March is Read Aloud 15 MINUTES month. Kick off the month with Read Across America on March 3 and stay committed by reading aloud 15 MINUTES with a child every day throughout March . Join the campaign and share the message. Become a partner at


Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Sleeping in the "Momma Nest"

My six year old is home from school again due to his battle with asthma.  Last night we went through three rounds of breathing treatments with the nebulizer to get his cough under control before bedtime.  I picked him up from school yesterday morning because the inhaler didn't do it's job.  So you can imagine how exhausted he was this morning when it came time to evaluate whether or not I would send him to school. 
Momma was also pretty tired.  I couldn't sleep last night because I kept listening for his breathing.  I ended up staying on the computer way too late and finally went to bed when I heard that his breathing was regular and he had no coughing spells.  So...after I took the other two children to school,  Sebastien and I settled in on the couch where I brought him breakfast and water. He took his medication for allergies and we hooked up the nebulizer again.
I allowed him to select a movie and then laid down on the couch with him.  Here's the best way my children like to cuddle when they are the "Momma Nest."  Most of my close friends and family know about this technique.  You may have done it yourself but either didn't have a label for it or called is something else.  (I'd love to hear from you if you have anther name for this.)
Momma Nest Protocol:  Lay down on your side with your legs curled up so that your knees are bent at an angle.  The space behind your knees is the "nest."  Your child can curl up in the nest and rest his or her head on your...ahem...tushy (aka the booty pillow).  Add a blanket and you are all set for both of you to take a nice, cozy nap.
I'm not sure who fell asleep first.   I vaguely recall hearing his movie start playing.  When I woke up my legs felt heavy and I really needed to move.  I remembered that Sebie was asleep in the "Momma Nest" and gently moved him over to a pillow pre-positioned on the couch.  He is still sleeping soundly, no wheezing, and very relaxed.  I feel pretty confident that he will go to school tomorrow morning.  Sometimes, the best medicine is a little extra time at home de-stressing from the exhaustion of asthma.
Asthma is a very challenging, chronic condition that requires a lot more maintenance than I ever imagined prior to having children.  Nobody is our family smokes and we make every effort to reduce exposure to allergens.  I'm a long way from the single person who enjoyed scented candles everywhere and containers filled with potpourri. Still, we cannot control all aspects of their environment.
When my babies need to be at home to get their breathing treatments, the "Momma Nest"  is part of their recovery.  And it also helps a tired  mom get a little nap too.  To learn more about asthma you might refer to the following resources.
(Disclaimer:  This site does not promote or advertise a particular treatment plan and is not responsible for individual interpretations of the information provided.  Writer encourages conversation with your individual health care providers regarding any information found in the following websites.)

CDC - Asthma - Centers for Disease Control and Prevention 06, 2012 · Asthma is a disease that affects your lungs. It causes repeated episodes of wheezing, breathlessness, chest tightness, and nighttime or early morning coughing.

An overview of asthma symptoms, asthma diagnosis, asthma treatment and asthma management written and reviewed by the leading experts in allergy, asthma and …

Asthma Definition - Diseases and Conditions - Mayo Clinic is a condition in which your airways narrow and swell and produce extra mucus. This can make breathing difficult and trigger coughing, wheezing and shortness ...

CDC - Asthma - Basic Information - Centers for Disease ...
Nov 21, 2013 · What Is Asthma? Asthma is a disease that affects your lungs. It is one of the most common long-term diseases of children, but adults can have asthma, too.



Monday, February 24, 2014

Monday is for Recovering from the Weekend!

Monday takes on a whole new meaning for me now that I work from home.  I love my three children and find myself eternally grateful that they are in my life.  I also relish the brief moments of solitude that are as elusive as other myths such as the Loch Ness Monster and  Big Foot. (Apologies to those who are believers.)  So after the weekend I've had, I sit here with a cup of tea on the coffee table, feet propped up, laptop activated, and a sensation that equals that of a ginormous elephant being lifted from my shoulders.  Shoulders.  That's another topic.  Why are they always aching and why can I not turn my head with the same degree of flexibility I once enjoyed?
Anywho...This past weekend I did not get the memo that indicated my children had taken an oath to drive each other to the precipice of the Cliff "Jump off or Leave Town."  OMG!  How can three children find so many ways to bug, bother, push, threaten, and bring each other to tears?  I attempted to calm the flying monkeys by bringing out the washable finger paints and brushes.  That worked for all of 40 minutes.  Then the Hunger Games resumed.

I knew parenting was not going to be sunshine and rainbows every day.  I worked for many years in the field of Early Childhood Development and had worked with many families prior to becoming a parent myself.  I waited quite a while before motherhood finally announced itself at age 34.  Still... no amount of training and experience can totally prepare you for the many variables that bombard you after the birth of a baby.

I was the oldest of six children and have no recollection of fighting with my siblings to the same degree as my children.  My children pointed out to me, "Mom, you can't expect us to grow up the same way you did!"  Perhaps my own expectations are getting in the way of my interactions with my three kiddos.  However, there are certain expectations that I will continue to promote.

1.  You will be respectful to your parents and to each other.

2.  If you have issues with each other, take a personal time out.

3.  Your siblings will be there for you long after your father and I
     are gone.  Better learn to get along and help each other out.

4.  Keep your hands to yourselves.  Physical altercations are OUT!

5.  Accept each other's qualities, quirks, and personalities. 

6.  Treat each other the way you want to be treated.

7.  Find one thing that you can enjoy together! (Painting, reading,

Happy Monday!  Hope your week if filled with sprinkles of glitter, unicorns, and other happy myths and legends...just like the notions you had of parenting before reality materialized.
Happy Mother's Day. Card with beautiful silhouette of mother and



Sunday, February 23, 2014

Once Upon a Sunday

My three children are instinctively programmed to baffle me with their unique characteristics.  Today was one of those days when their random food requests left me with question marks dancing over my head.   Here's their strange but true list of culinary desires:
1.  Deviled eggs decorated with a sprinkle of Hungarian  
     Paprika (My mother refuses to call these "deviled" eggs and
     instead has renamed them "Heavenly" eggs. She's a much better
     Catholic than I am.  I'm a work in progress.)
2.  Several slices of whole wheat bread toasted to perfection and
     served with spoonfuls of delicious strawberry spreadable fruit.
3.  Macaroni and Cheese - the boxed kind with shapes from the
     movie "How to Train Your Dragon" and "Teenage Mutant Ninja
4.  Bowls of Cereal that pretty much have no nutritional value
     whatsoever no matter how hard the manufacturers try to
     convince you of the opposite.
5.  Crunchy, cold, red delicious apples
6.  Whole wheat bread slathered with peanut butter and folded over
      to resemble a sandwich 
7.  A few Chicks and Bunnies from a bag of Easter candy I just
     couldn't resist when we went to Target yesterday. 
Now on to dinner, which I will hopefully be able to pull off with a little better selection of nutritious foods for my three food critics. 

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Road Side Assistance x2 - One of Those Days

Yesterday was one of those slightly less than perfect days.   It was a huge reminder that 1. Mommy needs to get some sleep. 2. When you try to do a good deed, it sometimes back fires. 3. A Mother's best friend when you have to be on the road with a sick child is undoubtedly "Road Side Assistance."  Here's my story:
I agreed to give my brother a ride to work because his car got a flat tire the previous evening right before the auto shop closed.  He was able to get his car to the shop thanks to a tow truck and was advised that new tires were being delivered in the morning.  They would probably be able to fix the car before it was time for him to go to work, but he didn't want to take any chances.  I welcomed the opportunity to take him to work so we could talk and catch up on the latest work related gossip. (Seriously, his place of employment shall remain nameless to protect the innocent.  I am secretly recording the details to turn it into a novel.)
So I arrived at his residence well before we had to depart.  I should have just remained right outside his door, but ended up parking on a downward slope.  That's just the way the parking lot is designed.  My crazy mini van is jacked up enough so that the gas tank's position is affected when it is at a severe downward angle.  I didn't think it would be a huge problem at first since there was more than one-third of a tank of gas in the reservoir.  First mistake:  Never assume!  Lesson:  Trust that gut feeling.  Something felt wrong about parking the mini van like that, but I did it anyway.

When it was time to depart, the van wouldn't start.  I looked at the gas gage and it read "empty."  Liar, liar.  "You are not empty!"  I shouted out loud to the vehicle.  There was no way I could even push the van backward to allow the gas to level out in the tank.  I apologized to my brother and immediately called road side assistance.  I advised my brother to call the tire shop and see how fast they could get his car ready for action. 

I have to admit that the whole episode was frustrating.  My six-year-old was in the van with me because he had been home sick this week.  To his credit, he was remarkably calmer than his sleep deprived mother.  My brother was able to walk to the tire shop and convinced them to quickly get the new wheel in place so he could get to work on time.  Road Side Assistance arrived 30 minutes later and added 2 gallons of petrol to the tank.  Still, the van struggled to start.  A few "Hail Mary's" later and I was finally able to back the van away from the parking space. 

Unbelievable!  That tank now registered more than one-third full since it was on a flat surface.  Crazy "A" vehicle!  That's the last time I park that way!  My sweet child was by that time quite hungry.  Since he had not eaten much due to a decreased appetite, I was relieved that he wanted food.  I was eager to let him eat whatever he wanted.  So we ended up at McDonald's for a Happy Meal. (Some of you have read my previous posts so you know how I feel about "Happy Meals.")  But I was desperate for him to get anything into his I acquiesced. 

Everything seemed to be going well.  My little one ate.  He marveled at the Lego Movie cup that accompanied the Happy Meal.  There was even enough time for him to download an "App" on my phone.  Then it was time to leave.  Panic ensued.  I have a habit of clipping my keys to a loop on my purse strap as soon as I get out of the van.  This habit prevents me from digging around in the depths of the "Mom purse" when I need to find the keys.  This time they weren't there.  Usually the van gives an auditory warning sound if keys are left in the ignition.  I didn't recall that happening.

I looked everywhere in my purse.  I returned to the counter where I ordered the food.  No keys.  I looked by the drink dispensers.  No keys.  I went outside and checked the inside of the vehicle.  Drats!  Dangling from the ignition - That's where they were.  All the doors were locked.  I'm pretty good at locking up every time.  So....I called Road Side Assistance again.  I probably would have felt more embarrassed had I not been so freaking tired.

I was so appreciative that the operator who accepted my request was so professional and reassuring.  That's the way customer service should be in every arena.  The stress was eliminated immediately.  I had help within 20 minutes of making that call.  The gentleman who assisted me said, "Don't worry. Things happen."  Sebastien, my six-year-old, was impressed by the way the gentleman was able to open the door so I could retrieve my keys.  Within minutes we were on our way home.

We can have all the best intentions in the world, yet things can still go awry.  How we handle those moments is what matters.  I have to admit that the first episode this morning got the better of me.  I wasn't the most patient individual and I said a few words that shouldn't have been exposed outside of the confines of my own head.  But in the end I realized that it's OK when things don't turn out perfectly.  Having a backup resource is critical to successfully navigate the solutions.

As we drove home following incident #2 my sweet baby said to me, "It's OK Mommy.  You're still a good Mom."  Ultimately, that's what matters.  My child saw that I solved the problems, it was OK to ask for help, and the world continued to spin.


Tuesday, February 18, 2014

You Know You've Gone from Tired to Exhausted When......

I'm not prone to complaining or listing the reasons why I am tired.  However, I read something yesterday that altered my perspective to the point that I am now giving myself permission to indulge in a little humorous list making.  Last night I finished my very late blog post after finally getting my sick child to sleep. I decided to check on some of the other parenting sites that I like to read and discovered a blog about why one mommy "hates" other mom bloggers. (Note: Generalizations in general are far from productive in many cases.  But I could certainly see mommy blogger's a point)

It seems that "mommy blog hater" had been inundated with judgmental posts.  She stated that these posts were written by "too perfect moms" who felt the need to advertise their perfect parenting skills whilst criticizing the techniques of other moms.  O.K.  Let's just put this out there. How many of us have never been criticized by someone at some point in our parenting adventure?  It might have been subtle hints or outright unedited comments complete with finger pointing and lots of unsolicited advice...but it was there wasn't it?  Maybe the offending incident happened at a family gathering, a church function, in a grocery store, or on an airplane when you are desperately trying to corral three young children.

Mommy blog hater got me thinking about the purpose I began writing.  Showcasing the marshmallow fluff and sugar coated pops of parenting was the farthest thing from my mind.  It was also never my intent to have a file of woes that would bring people down and add salt to the already festering wounds that inevitably accompany the role of "parent." I began writing because I enjoy sharing the joys, sorrows, pit falls, parodies, and insanity that defines our lives once we agree to bring children into the world.  I also have seen some of those blogs that Mommy blog hater denounced in her post. Those are the ones I do not take to heart.  I do read them once in awhile to remind myself of how I do not choose to write.

However, I also understand that those happy pink cloud posts serve a purpose for the individuals who write them.  Sometimes moms need to find ways to validate their decisions.  They need to feel and believe that they have found some magical elixir for perfect parenting.  They desperately wish to ring the bells and tell everyone in the land so all can enjoy the same benefits of child rearing success that they have apparently encountered.  If only we as parents could support, encourage, and share instead of push, shove, and threaten with our points of view.  Each child is different and each parent comes from a different history.  We all handle things based on our life experiences thus far.  How much richer would our parenting become if we didn't feel like our way is the only way, the best way, and the most enlightened way? 

So to add validity to my desire to be open, honest, and more of a parenting support system versus a parenting paradigm, here's a list that is far from being the pink cloud parenting post so criticized by mommy blog hater.  I hope that one day she finds this blog and is pleased with the results.  It's a small world.  It could happen.  If I ever have the opportunity to speak with her, I will thank her for reminding me why I began writing in this format.  This forum is more about sharing resources, collaborating, commiserating, and supporting each other as we work hard to achieve a balanced life.

Mom's List:
  You Know You've Gone from Tired to Exhausted When....

1. You come to a stop at a GREEN light in addition to the red ones.
2. You stop at a STOP sign and wait for it to change.
3. You look everywhere for your sunglasses and blame your
    children that one of them must have taken them...until one of the
    kids cautiously points to the top of your head.  You realize that
    the glasses have been on your head functioning as a head band
    for the past three hours.
4. You can't accurately remember your children's names.
5. You forget your own name.
6. You usually keep track of your car in the grocery store parking
    lot by lining up the row you are in by a letter from the Walmart
    store sign.  When you are exhausted you forget this critical step
    and end up wandering all over the place with three kids and a
    cart full of groceries.
7. You are actually too exhausted to put yourself to bed and
    contemplate sleeping upright on the couch.
8. You begin to enter REM sleep while continuing to finish the
    dishes, laundry, or story time.
9. You've read your child's home work problem a bazillion times
    and still have no idea what it said.
10.You ignore it when someone tries to give you advice on how to
     make your children listen or change some type of behavior that
     you are already working to correct. (Which is probably a good
     thing to do even if you aren't sleep deprived.)

Best Wishes as Your Week Continues
and You Collect Your Daily Challenges

Monday, February 17, 2014

Random Thoughts on a Monday - My Editor is on Vacation

1.  It's been a long winter.  Today was beautiful, warm, and sunny. 
     I really wanted to get outside but sick children with chronic
     asthma kept us away from the park.  Better luck next time.

2.  I am grateful that I am able to be with my children when they
     are sick.  Last year was an unholy nightmare as I struggled to
     maintain a full time job and manage the medical care for three
     children who always seem to need some type of medication or
     treatment.  It's exhausting to take care of everyone by yourself.

3.  I frequently miss being in a classroom but feel blessed that I
     have the opportunity to write a resource book.  It will hopefully
     be helpful to parents, teachers, and managers.  I still have quite a
     ways to go but am enjoying the process of interviewing,
     researching, and adding anecdotal notes to the manuscript.

4.  I absolutely love that I have reached a point in my life that I
     refuse to be taken for granted.  I'm giving my "editor" more
     frequent breaks so that I can speak my mind without fear of

5.  Although I enjoy working outside of the home,  I have found
     that I am not a fan of being sabotaged by other individuals in the
     work place.  I feel like I've finally found a career as a freelance
     writer where I am supported by other authors who actually like
     being a source of encouragement and support.  This level of
     encouragement is something that I haven't experienced since
     I left Germany where I worked with amazing women who
     mentored me and celebrated my successes. 

6.  Last year I never could have imagined where my choices could
     have transported me.  I am relieved that I had the guts to make
     those decisions even when  the naysayers tried to plant those
     seeds of doubt. 

7.  When it comes right down to the nuts and bolts of where I am
     today, I realize that I'm pretty adventurous, a risk taker, and
     someone with more faith than fear.  I look forward to many
     more adventures.

Parenting is more than a journey in raising competent, confident, and independent children.  Parenting is a sort of boot camp that defines how well you bounce back when faced with adversities.  I can only pray that my children will take notes and be resilient when faced with their own challenges. 


Sunday, February 16, 2014

A Wink of Approval and A Song for Everything - Visiting My Son's Classroom

Sebastien's first grade class invited the parents to attend a Valentine's Day Activity on Friday.  I was happy to attend.  It gave me an opportunity to see just how stressed a first grade teacher can get when the school district assigns extra projects to be completed prior to the President's Day holiday.  I arrived right before the bell rang.  The children came into the classroom following outdoor recess.  I knew they were probably happy they could go outside since it was a warm, sunny day.  Too many preceding snow days had prevented them from enjoying this opportunity to burn off some pent up energy.  So I watched as each smiling face emerged. 
Many of the children recognized me from previous visits and came up to me, "You're Sebastien's mom, right?"  I answered, "Yes, I am."  The teacher quickly reminded everyone that they still had a lot to do before their Valentine's Day party, and she immediately charged the room with nervous energy.  She explained to the parents who had arrived that the children had to complete a writing assignment before they could do anything else.  The school district had asked them to do an additional written paper - as if she didn't have enough to do already.  She was very curt, to the point, and focused on the task that needed to be done.
Sebastien saw me as he entered the classroom.  He sat in his seat, turned to me with a smirk of a smile, and winked at me.  I have to admit that my heart skipped a beat that he had acknowledged me.  My sweet little boy was not too old to be embarrassed by his mother's presence.  I helped his table finish their projects then started to help the next table.  Finally it was time for the children to enjoy their Valentine's Day treats and pass out Valentine's to each other.  I gave each one a few napkins then started to hand out some cookies while another parent passed out a different treat. 
There's a few ways you can give out cookies.  My way was to sing a song and allow each child to pick the cookie design he or she wanted.  The children smiled and were surprised that I came up with a musical technique for an otherwise mundane task.  Sebastien didn't even seem to mind.  I made up another song to encourage quick clean up when the teacher pushed the kids to finish up so they could go to their "specials" class.  I began to feel sad that the teacher and the children had to feel so rushed that they couldn't even enjoy a simple holiday treat without being stressed. 
When did first grade become this way?  I understand that we want our children to be prepared for academic challenges.  However, if we keep adding stressors to teachers and their classrooms we are going to raise a generation of kids who are not going to appreciate or enjoy education.  I loved going to school and was excited to continue my education by attending college.  I worry that my children are going to be burned out with all the pressures that surround them.  Since there are so many new things that children are expected to accomplish at a young age, I believe we should make the requirements interesting, fun, and memorable.
Musical anchoring techniques are a huge favorite of mine.  It can be used at any age across the curriculum.  Yet I have not found it used on a regular basis in the classroom.  My daughter's fourth grade teacher was successful in applying this method and my daughter still remembers how much fun she had that year.  I offered to assist my son's first grade teacher if she needed someone to make up a few songs to accompany a lesson.  She said she has tried to use music before but just doesn't have enough time to apply it on a regular basis.  I hope she takes me up on my offer. Writing lyrics to go with tunes the kids already know is one of my quirky talents. 
My kids often say, "Mom, does there have to be a song for everything?"  I reply, "Why not?  Especially if it helps you remember a lesson or a concept.
To read more about using music in the classroom:
Reflections Beneath The Poetz Tree: Music Across the ..
Sep 22, 2011 · I recently attended Open House for my children and was impressed by the creative teaching techniques that are employed in the classroom. As one …

The Benefits of Incorporating Music in the Classroom · PDF file
4 classroom, regardless of the grade level. Classroom management is the most difficult skill to master and it is also the area that teachers worry about the most.

Tip:  There are many articles of interest if you type in the key phrase: Music is the Classroom


Saturday, February 15, 2014

Fourteen Books Given for International Book Giving Day

Yesterday was International Book Giving Day. My son and I delivered 14 books for February 14 to his Pediatrician's office.  Here's a list of what we found at our local Good Will.  Although they were "previously loved" all were in good condition.  We're looking forward to finding another project.
Our Book List
1.    Goldilicious  Written and Illustrated by:Victoria Kann c.2009

2.    Paper John     Story and Pictures by: David Small   c. 1987

3.    el oido    by: Maria Rius , J.M. Parramon, and J.J. Puig            
       c. 1985
4.    Stone Soup     by: Ann McGovern c. 1968  Pictures  
       by Winslow Pinney Pels  c. 1986

5.    The Cat in the Hat  by: Dr. Seuss  c. 1957

6.    Junie B., First Grader (at last!)  by:  Barbara Park 
       c. 2001  Illustrated by: Denise Brukus c. 2001

7.   Larry Boy and the Emperor of Envy  Written by: 
      Sean Gaffney c. 2002   Illustrated by Michael Moore  c. 2002

8.    Absolutely Normal Chaos  by: Sharon Creech   c.  1990

9.    Curiosity Killed the Cat (A Poison Apple Book) 
       by:  Siera Harimann  c. 2011

10.   The Secret School  by:  AVI  c. 2001

11.   One Crazy Summer  by:  Rita Williams-Garcia  c.  2010

12.   A Wrinkle in Time  by:  Madeleine L'Engle  c.  1962

13.   The Summer of RILEY   by:  Eve Bunting  c.  2001

14.   Do You Want to Be My Friend?  by:  Eric Carle  c.  1971

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Friday, February 14, 2014

5 Reasons I'm Grateful My Parents Read to Me as A Child - List #5

Happy International Book Giving Day
& Happy Valentine's Day!
Graphic Attributed to:
Poster Created by: Mariann Maray is a Hungarian designer and illustrator. 

What better way to show your love for your children than to read a book to them?  Participation in today's event has given me a lot to think about and has confirmed what I have known since childhood:  Books are timeless.  They open doors to new opportunities.  Books give us insight into how other human beings view the world.  Most of all, the authors inspire us to educate, explore, imagine, and embark on great adventures.  Today I am reminded of my own childhood when I learned to enjoy books.  I have my parents to thank for my life long love affair with literature. This week has been personally rewarding for me as I shared my passion for books.  Here's your "final 5" list. The reasons I am grateful that my parents read to me as a child:
Reading showed me the world.  We had a collection of World Book Child Craft Encyclopedias that set my parents back quite a few pennies.  I saw them carefully decide that these special books were worth adding to their tight budget.  It sent a clear message that education and knowledge were valued.  The Child Craft Volume that had the biggest impact on me was the one that highlighted the Seven Wonders of the World and other places around the globe.  I was fascinated by Venice, Italy, Paris, France, and London, England.  Each time I read the stories and viewed the pictures I imagined being able to travel and explore.  Years later I did travel and absolutely marveled at how far I had come.  I have never lost my sense of wanderlust.

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I learned about rhyming words as we read nursery rhymes and poetry.  I developed an ear for languages.  Later in college I enjoyed taking classes in Spanish, German, and French.  My mother is Hungarian and I learned enough so that when we visited her country I was able to communicate basic concepts.  (Although I really wish I was fluent in these languages, I am happy to be able to understand enough to function and stay out of trouble.)

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My parents were always reading something.  Every Sunday after Mass we would sit down to a family breakfast.  As soon as the table was cleared and the dishes washed, my parents would adjourn to the living room and spend the afternoon reading the Sunday paper.  They would occasionally comment to each other on an article or read to each other when they found something they wished to share.  I learned that written words were a way to facilitate communication and share pertinent information to stay abreast of current events. 
I learned that bedtime was more relaxing if there was a story attached to the routine.  Every evening one of my parents read to us.  Prayers and a story were the perfect ending to a busy day.  It also set the stage for some very interesting and creative dreams.  (Perfect for an aspiring young writer.) 

I learned that books are portable. They are necessary to get through long flights, train trips, car rides, and cross country bus travels.  I have read books everywhere possible.  They fit into a purse, backpack, suitcase, or even a pocket.  Now books are available on line and you have a wider selection.  I still like to pick one excellent paperback book.  I like the old school feel of paper and the scent of ink.  Books are not only educational.  They are entertaining as well.  Travel and reading books are intimate companions. They just go well together.
 Have a Wonderful Weekend !
Thank You for Sharing this Special Day
More reading recommendations for children can be found at

Thursday, February 13, 2014

5 Inspirational Stanzas to Sing about International Book Giving Day - List #4

One more day to make arrangements to participate in International Book Giving Day.  Here's one idea to add a little musical inspiration.  Hope you enjoy trying this out with the kiddos. For more ideas see my favorite blog:
Tune:  Row, Row, Row Your Boat
Read, Read, Read a Book
Read a book today.
Then find a book that you can share
a book to give away.
Look, Look, Look around
who needs a book read?
International Book Giving Day is near
give books where there's a need.
Time, Time, Time to think
of all the ways to share.
There's one more day to make your mark
and show someone you care.
Books, Books, Books are great
they take us far and wide.
A journey or adventure waits
just take a look inside!
One, Two, Three, Four, Five
so many ways to sing
of all the special memories
that sharing books can bring.
Have a Warm and Creative Thursday
as you prepare for tomorrow!
Thanks for Sharing this Amazing Event.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

5 Reasons to Read to Your Children - List #3

International Book Giving Day is almost here!  Celebrate with your family by thinking up how many reasons you enjoy story time with each other.  Giving away books is your opportunity to encourage others to consider the benefits of reading to children.  Let's do what we can to support a life long commitment to learning, relaxing, and expanding our views of the world through books.
Reasons to Read to Children
This is one way to share time together at the end of your day and facilitate communication with each other. Start this while children are young so that as they grow you can expand the topics of discussion according to their developmental needs. 
Children who are read to on a regular basis are more likely to become early readers.  They may even have a better attention span  when they enter school than non-readers.
Books give children the opportunity to explore ideas,  places, and concepts that will enhance their understanding or different cultures.
Exposure to various styles of writing teaches children that words have a rhythm and cadence that combine to express feelings, ideas, and intentions.  Adding voices to characters and your own interpretation of the text helps your child visualize a story and learn to draw inferences.  You can ask questions as the story progresses such as, "What do you think will happen next?" and "Why do you think the character did that?"
Books teach children to search for references outside of their own scope of knowledge.  Selecting a non-fiction book where you also learn new and interesting facts demonstrates how valuable it can be to conduct research.  Children need to observe that even adults enjoy learning and expanding their repertoire of interests.
Have a Wonderful Time Planning your Valentines Day
and International Book Giving Day!
A Two for One Deal You Don't Want to Miss!
Magyar . Hungarian
IBGD poster_hungarian