Category Archives: Just for FUN!

The Holidays – A Time for Conversations and Being Together

The holidays are times when families get together.  What a great time to share, reminisce and dream together. Here are some ideas to consider. 

Have a conversation with a family member or close friend to acknowledge the love and support your have received from him/her.

Have a conversation with family members reminiscing about past holidays, when they or you were young and/or about a family tradition and how it started.

Have conversations with a family member or an old friend to talk about the times you are grateful he/she was in your life.

Share with your family your hopes and dreams for the future and ask them to do the same.

Take turns remembering and sharing funny family (from vacations, working together, meals, projects, etc.)  stories. 

Holidays are a great time to just past time together with loved one working on a jigsaw puzzle, playing board games or cooking together.  

May you enjoy your holidays.


Memories from this summer’s family vacation

Enjoy the 12 slides in this Keynote!!!!  Eachtime I watch it it takes me back to Big Bass Lake and our family vacation.  The stars of this Keynote are our 6 year old grandson and 3 year old granddaughter plus our 13 year old twin niece and nephew.


Reading Aloud . . . It’s Worth Doing by Parents, Grandparents, Neighbors, Friends, Other Kids. Just Do It and Enjoy It!

Research Finding:The best way for parents to help their children become better readers is to read to them–even when they are very young. Children benefit most from reading aloud when they discuss stories, learn to identify letters and words, and talk about the meaning of words.


The specific skills required for reading come from direct experience with written language. At home, as in school, the more reading the better.

Parents can encourage their children’s reading in many ways. Some tutor informally by pointing our letters and words on signs and containers. Others use more formal tools, such as workbooks. But children whose parents simply read to them perform as well as those whose parents use workbooks or have had training in teaching.

The conversation that goes with reading aloud to children is as important as the reading itself. When parents ask children only superficial questions about stories, or don’t discuss the stories at all, their children do not achieve as well in reading as the children of parents who ask questions that require thinking and who relate the stories to everyday events. Kindergarten children who know a lot about written language usually have parents who believe that reading is important and who seize every opportunity to act on that conviction by reading to their children.


Phote by Kirsten Jennings via flickr By clicking on any of the following hyperlinked four titles you can read more blog posts from me on this topic.  You can read more about reading about “What Reading Is“, or look over a List of Possible Read Alouds which are likely to please a young child.     Also, enjoy a List of Wordless Books – there is nothing like making up the story as you go or encourage the child to make up the story to go with the pictures.  And when you read to a child one of the reactions you hope for is the : Can You Read It Again? reaction. May you enjoy reading aloud to a child or several children real soon!!! P.S. – Please consider subscribing to this blog: Ideas, Thoughts and Collected Works that Might Inform and Influence Others.  I tend to write about 300 entries per year on many topics. If you enjoy what you read here, I’d be really grateful if you would subscribe by RSS or by email.  See the options to your left.

Thoughts to Ponder


Even if you’re on the right track, you’ll get run over if you just sit there.   – Will Rogers

Nothing we learn in this world is ever wasted.   – Eleanor Roosevelt

You must do the thing you think you cannot do.   – Eleanor Roosevelt

Happiness is not a goal; it is a by-product.   – Eleanor Roosevelt

It doesn’t happen all at once.  You become.  It takes a long time.   – Margery Williams

The future is here.  It’s just not evenly distributed.   – William Gibson

As soon as people decide to confront a problem, they realize that they are far more capable than they thought they were.   – The Zahir

Time you enjoy wasting, was not wasted.   – John Lennon

The work will wait while you show the child the rainbow but the rainbow won’t wait while you do the work.  – Anonymous

If you’re going through hell, keep going.   – Winston Churchill

Do not be too timid and squeamish about your actions all life is an experience.   – Ralph Waldo Emerson

Breath in experience.   – Muriel Rukeyser

Speak your mind even if your voice shakes.  – Anonymous

Sprinkle joy.   – Ralph Waldo Emerson

Image by umjanedoan via flickr

Here is One Very Special Way to Contribute to the Future.

Note: I haven’t read the book, but I sure liked this excerpt.  Parenting children without parents is a gift to the children and to the world. 

Excerpt: ‘No Biking In The House Without A Helmet’

No Biking In The House Without A Helmet by Melissa Fay Greene

 No Biking in the House Without a Helmet
By Melissa Fay Greene
Hardcover, 368 pages
Sarah Crichton Books/ FSG
List Price: $26

This is my twenty-first year in elementary school. For twenty-one consecutive years I have carried in cupcakes, enclosed checks, and provided emergency phone numbers. I have staple-gunned and hot-glued. I have rented band instruments. I have given standing ovations, volunteered at the school library, and stood in the cafeteria line as the servers dropped balls of Thanksgiving-flavored foods from ice-cream scoops onto my wet tray. My husband and I have clapped with pride at a child’s graduation in May and returned in August with a different child for registration day in the “cafetorium.” Where else can you find a deal like a PTA membership? For five dollars, you’re in, and urged to accept the presidency. Where else are adults so thrilled to see your children? “Did you have a great summer!?” cry the beaming teachers, and your child shyly leans into your side and confesses that yes, it was a great one. The friends with whom we raised our oldest three (now in their twenties) are enjoying their empty-nest years. They have warm memories of long-ago kindergartners dressed as puppies, swinging their arms and dancing onstage in winter musicals. They recall the night the fourth-grade band attacked “Au Clair de La Lune” with shiny cheap instruments for the first time, honking and bleating like a pen of panicked farm animals. They remember the gift-wrap sale and the Fun Run. For them, as for most of our generation (we’re in our fifties), it happened a long time ago.

My husband, Don Samuel — a gray-bearded criminal defense attorney — and I have lingered here longer than most. We pushed beyond our biologically reproductive years into adoption. To our children by birth — Molly, Seth, Lee, and Lily (born in 1981, ’84, ’88, and ’92) — we added five school-age children, four from Ethiopia and one from Bulgaria: Fisseha, Daniel, Jesse, Helen, and Yosef (born in 1994, ’94, ’95, ’96, and ’97). While the parents our age have graduated, Donny and I — like the big, dim-witted students of yore who hunched over small desks at the rear of the classroom — have been held back, forced to repeat grades with people a lot younger.

There is a gravitational pull around a grade school in autumn. Donny and I have not yet broken free of the annual rotation. Like outmoded satellites, we still circle, rattling in close again each rusty fall. For us, the annual fund-raising gift-wrap sale is going on right now; the Fun Run is coming up; and last night I fitted Yosef in my satin quilted vest and my widest belt to make him into a courtier for the school musical, Cinderella.

All this lends a knowledgeable perspective.

For example: I can state with some confidence that the school musicals repeat once every five years.

Because this is our fourth Cinderella.

And only one of our nine children ever got a speaking part.

Donny’s courtroom skills and constitutional knowledge have earned wide respect among judges and attorneys. H e spends his days with accused drug dealers, gunrunners, murderers, tax evaders, heroes of the NFL (Ray Lewis, Jamal Lewis, Ben Roethlisberger), or hip-hop superstars

(DJ Drama, T.I.). At night he puts his children to bed by practicing his closing arguments. This began years ago as a stratagem to avoid reading Berenstain Bears books aloud. We owned the whole skinny paperback collection: The Berenstain Bears and Too Much TV, The Berenstain Bears and Too Much Junk Food, The Berenstain Bears and Too Much Birthday, etc. Donny said the books were “boring,” but I think he didn’t like Mama Bear being the fount of wisdom, catching and scolding Papa Bear when he crept downstairs late at night to watch TV during N o TV Week. Donny may have felt that Papa Bear’s transgressions struck a little too close to home. And he doesn’t like to see people like Papa Bear get in trouble, even though he has spent his entire career with people who are in deep, deep, deep trouble.

“May it please the court, ladies and gentlemen of the jury . . .” he boomed as the children snuggled happily under their covers. Seth, on the top bunk, got knocked out instantly, but Molly, on the bottom bunk, tried to hang on, sucking the middle fingers of her right hand and watching wide-eyed as Daddy patiently explained the actions of the accused arsonist, drug dealer, or kidnapper. After Molly conked out, Donny turned to a jury consisting of Raggedy Ann, Neal the Bear, Pluto, and a stuffed eagle, their button eyes luminous in the glow of the Jack and Jill night-light. A pleading note entered the counselor’s voice when Raggedy Ann (clearly the jury foreman) refused to make eye contact, always a negative indicator of the jury’s state of mind toward the defense.

When Molly was six, Donny invited her to attend the trial of a man accused of training his pit bulls to attack and fight. Molly got dressed up and we drove to the DeKalb County Courthouse. She sat up alert and curious through the testimony of witnesses and the prosecutor’s closing argument. Finally the great moment arrived: it was Daddy’s turn! Daddy, in a suit and tie, stepped to the front of the courtroom. “May it please the court, ladies and gentlemen of the jury,” he began. Molly slid her two fingers into her mouth, sucked hard, and toppled against me into a deep sleep.

When Lee was little, he’d answer the phone and yell, “Daddy, it’s for you! I think it’s a criminal!”

At the start of the adoptions, when the presence of Bulgarian Romani and Ethiopian children still felt a little surprising, Donny referred to their end of the upstairs hall as “the international concourse.” If one child was complaining and another one piped up, Donny said, ªOh, great. Another country heard from.”

Now our family is so diverse that our cousin Julian Haynes suggests that I call this book Why Our Babysitters Are Entitled to Peace Corps Credit.

Our son Seth proposes We’re Not a Youth Group, Damn It.

Or The Phylogeny of My Progeny.

My friend Andrea Sarvady, who is aware that, to our surprise, we ended up raising sports stars, nominates TheJewish Guide to Raising Star Athletes.

Julian returns with Leveraging Love: How to Choose Your Favorite Child During These Hard Economic Times.

In July 2007 the eleven of us flew on a plane together for the first time (because two Ethiopian brothers, Daniel and Yosef, thirteen and ten, had joined the family two weeks earlier). At the Delta check-in desk, eight minutes into our first public appearance, a stranger approached and said,”Excuse me? Miss? I think one of your students dropped a mitten.” Mitten? I thought. In July in Atlanta? Are you kidding me?

Later it hit me: One of your students.

In flight, a middle-aged African American businessman leaned across the aisle to ask our son Lee, “What’s the name of your organization?”

Lee said, “Um . . . the Greene-Samuel family?”

Disembarking from the plane, the businessman tapped Donny on the shoulder and said, “I’d like to shake your hand.”

At baggage claim in Santa Fe, a frail, elderly white couple from our flight made their way toward me on walkers. “May we ask you a question?” said the old woman in a quavering voice. “Are you a scout leader? Because we were always very involved in scouting.”

Excerpted which was posted on NPR’s arts and life website from No Biking in the House Without a Helmet by Melissa Fay Greene. Copyright © 2011 by Melissa Fay Greene. Published May 2011 by Sarah Crichton Books / Farrar, Straus and Giroux, LLC. All rights reserved.