Invite Guests—Not Germs—to Your Home During the Holidays

Some awesome advice during this holiday season!

Free Spirit Publishing Blog

By Elizabeth Verdick, author ofGerms Are Not for Sharing

Invite Guests—Not Germs—to Your Home During the HolidaysHurray, it’s the holiday season!

Uh-oh, it’s also cold and flu season.

Parties, travel, and gatherings are all part of holiday fun, but time spent with others during cold and flu season means that you and your children are more likely to get sick. What are you supposed to do—hide out and avoid the crowds? Impossible. There are ways to reduce the risk of getting viruses, though. It all starts with the hands.

Your hands are busy all day long, and they touch so many different surfaces: railings, countertops, handles, money, credit cards, computer keyboards, the steering wheel, the remote control. Did you know that flu viruses can survive on a hard surface for up to 24 hours? As a parent, you probably spend part of your day changing diapers, helping your child in the bathroom, wiping noses, or cleaning…

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Introduce Yourself: Introducing Guest Author Wanda Luthman

Hi everyone,
I had the good fortune to be interviewed by this wonderful blog (PBS) and I’d love for you to read it and consider re-blogging it as well. And if you’re an author and would like to be interviewed too, just reach out to Yecheilyah.

The PBS Blog

Today, I’d like to extend a warm welcome to Wanda Luthman. Let’s get started!


What is your name and where are you from?

Wanda Luthman. I grew up in St. Louis, MO but was born in NC, spent a few years in Florida, and two beautiful years in Hawaii, and now I’m back in Florida.

Hawaii. Okkaay. Are you employed outside of writing?

I’m a High School Guidance Counselor. I have 350 students that I track for graduation and help them with emotional issues as well as career advice throughout their high school years. I love my job, my school, my co-workers, and most especially the children/young adults.

I love it. Any siblings?

I have two siblings—a brother and a sister. I’m the baby of the three of us.

In your own words, what is love?

Love is magic. Whenever you think of love, you know something magical is there…

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Twelve Days to Save Christmas

Twelve Days to Save Christmas book cover written by Jane Finch picturing a young girl wearing a white t-shirt and blue jean jacket and blue jeans and a half a dozen dogs and cats on a blue background with the outline of christmas trees

 

Title : Twelve Days to Save Christmas

Age range: 8 – 12 years (but adults have enjoyed it, too).

Book description:

Magical Mary arrives in Berryfield with two missions. The first is to bring Christmas back to the town, and the second is to help Esme, a Foundling and a child who does not speak, to achieve her destiny and save Christmas for the town. Mary has to enlist the help of the mysterious Jane and convince her of the role she needs to play to ensure Mary’s missions are fulfilled. The town Mayor has nothing but bad memories of Christmas and has kept the Christmas spirit from the town for so long, the people of Berryfield have forgotten what Christmas is all about. Can Mary and Imi the elf convince Jane to change the mind of the mean-minded Mayor, help the struggling family, and bring Christmas back to the town?

FIVE STAR Review:

Reviewed by Emily-Jane Hills Orford for Readers’ Favorite

Grange Solicitors has never decorated its office for Christmas – no tree, no lights, no trimmings. In fact, the entire town of Berryfield has banned Christmas. You see, the mayor of Berryfield is a non-believer, a miserable old Scrooge who doesn’t believe in celebrating anything, let alone Christmas. So when Jane, who works at Grange Solicitors, and Mary, the cleaning lady, team up to decorate the offices, the mayor notices too much happiness and sets about making everyone’s life miserable. How? He bans pets of any kind from family homes. The town’s inhabitants are unhappy and very angry, but not as much as Jane, who sets about making things right for not only the town, but also the miserable old mayor. You see, Jane is on a special mission, and Mary, who is a Finder, helps her. Their ultimate goal is to save Christmas and there’s little time left to do so.


Jane Finch’s young people’s story, Twelve Days to Save Christmas, is a wonderful fable, a charming story for young readers about Christmas and the power of love and faith. She takes on the classic theme of a Scrooge-type character and expounds on the true meaning of the season. Each character has its place in the story, its place in life itself, and they all blossom with the unveiling of the magic of Christmas. This is more than a tale of Christmas miracles; it’s a story with the power to change and make things right in the world, starting with making Christmas right. 

 

From the author: With over twenty books now published, many of them children’s books, I had never quite written my dream, a Christmas story that would encompass a little magic, lots of animals, and look for the true meaning of Christmas. The idea stayed with me over several years, until finally I had to put pen to paper and write down my ideas. Twelve Days to Save Christmas evolved from that. We need to bring the magic back to Christmas, and I hope this story does that.

 

 

Amazon link: getbook.at/12days

Author website: finchlark.webs.com

 

 

Reprimands

I just discovered this blog and really like this post for parents of kindergarteners.

kindergarten23

Post 40

It’s been a couple of months now and hopefully your child has gotten used to school and has settled in nicely. Everything seems to be going along great when suddenly he/she gets “in trouble” at school. What do you do?

First of all, there are all levels of “trouble”. There’s being sent to the principal’s office (take it seriously) all the way to being told to “use your inside voice” (most children are told that at some point). Try to find out from your child the exact circumstances and what was said. Was it specific to your child or directed at the whole class? Did the reprimand come from his/her classroom teacher, a special area teacher, another child? Where did it happen….in the classroom, the hallway, cafeteria, library, etc? That will give you a sense of whether it was said to the group as a whole during a…

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An Attitude of Gratitude

Wooden table with fall leaves, candle, mug sitting on it and the words Happy Thanksgiving written on it

With Thanksgiving on its’ way this Thursday, we welcome our favorite School Psychologist, Dr. Valerie Allen, with words of wisdom for this holiday centered on gratefulness.

An Attitude with Gratitude

by

Dr. Valerie Allen

Even in difficult economic times, we live in a land of abundance. Most families exceed the basic needs of food, clothing, and shelter. Children have more than ample toys and clothes. Often, they have difficulty finding storage for the excess items in their bedrooms and play areas. In this land of plenty, it is difficult to teach children how to appreciate what they have. The joy of giving is often lost in the expectation of getting.

How do we teach children to be thankful for what they have? We need to engage them in the act of giving and doing for others. They will not only develop an appreciation for what they have, but will learn to care for their belongings, and have the satisfaction that comes from sharing and helping others.

Here are some activities you can do to develop gratitude and appreciation in your youngster.

  1. Thoughtful Families: Set an example at home. Discuss acts of kindness by friends, coworkers, or family members. Acknowledge heroic acts, which are reported in the paper or on the news. Talk about charitable donations and organizations such as the March of Dimes, Red Cross, and Habitat for Humanity. Help children understand there are others less fortunate who are in need of financial and emotional support. Tell them about Mother Theresa and her famous words, “We cannot do great things—only small things with great love.”
  2. Thankful Thursdays: In the spirit of Thanksgiving, plan a day of gratitude each week throughout the year. Children can make a list or draw a picture of all the people and things in their lives to be thankful for each week. They can keep track of what they have done for others, as well as what others have done for them. You can help them plan a random act of kindness for the following week. Soon they will develop the spirit of Thanksgiving during every season of the year.
  3. Take Action: Children can visit a nursing home, draw pictures and mail them to shut ins, or help a neighbor with yard work. More formal activities can be arranged through a church or volunteer organization to help at a school, collect canned goods, or work at an animal shelter. Children can make place mats, napkin rings, or menu cards for meals-on-wheels. They can participate in community clean up days, plant a tree, or help collect litter at a park. Did you know socks are the most requested item at homeless shelters? Encourage your children to become a positive influence in the community.
  4. Thank You Notes: Children should get in the habit of writing notes to express appreciation. Not just for birthday or holiday gifts, but for those who give their time or help with projects. Write letters to teachers, neighbors, firefighters, police officers, the pediatrician, the scout leader, or the choir director to recognize their time and effort. cyber kids can send thanks via email.
  5. Thrift Stores: Teach children to share. Have your youngster clean out toy boxes and clothes closets once a month. Have them remove an old item when replacing it with something new. Have them bundle up the items and take them to a consignment or thrift shop or a domestic shelter to be shared with others.

 

  1. Twice Around: Recycle, reuse, and repurpose. Recycling is a wonderful way to respect and preserve our environment. Children can save and sort newspapers, cans, glass jars, and plastic containers. They can also be creative by using items in unique ways. For example, the plastic bags from groceries can be reused as trash bags. The Sunday comics can be used as wrapping paper. Small plastic containers can hold pieces and parts from board games, hair accessories, or jewelry.

 

Money is not the essential factor in helping others. Children need to learn giving of themselves is the most important gift they can offer. Doing for others is the best way to develop an attitude of gratitude in your youngster.

 

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Dr. Valerie Allen is a child psychologist and author. She  has published two books for  children in grades two  to six

A Raven’s Tale Chapter Book

A Raven's Tale chapter book cover by Jane Finch picturing a black raven and small chickadee bird standing on the grass with a partial tree in the background against a blue/pink sky

 

Hi everyone,

Jane Finch is back with a chapter book that sounds just delightful!

Read on to learn more about this book…

A Raven’s Tale by Jane Finch

Book description: The tranquil life of the animals living at The Common comes under threat as the ravens try to stage a takeover after a carefully planned attack. They try to blame humans for their actions. The ravens offer protection to the animals in return for slavery. Some of the animals discover the truth and the Plan is hatched to escape and build a new life for them all, the animals of the forest working together to overcome the bullying of the ravens. But will they be successful or will the ravens get their way?

Publisher’s Note: Presented as an entertaining children’s story, this book forms a gentle introduction to the plight of refugees fleeing injustice the world over and presents an opportunity for discussion and understanding of this difficult subject.

 

A Raven’s Tale is a chapter book suitable for young readers age 8 – 12years.

 

Background:

The Raven is part of the Crow family and are known to be highly intelligent. Some years ago I used to take my son to watch the birds, and we made up stories together about what might be happening as we watched squabbles, bullying, preening, and pecking, and listened to their screeches and cawing. This was when the idea for A Raven’s Tale began to form. There is so much more to the animal life around us and I love to bring these stories to life in the hope that young readers will understand and appreciate the natural world around them.

 

Book link: getbook.at/RavenTale

Author website: finchlark.webs.com

Thank you, Jane, for sharing this lovely book with an important message for both children and grown ups!!

Chickens Laugh Out Loud Children’s Book Series

Jane Finch, children's author, sitting in front of a window with a red flower in the background

Hi everyone,

I’d like to introduce you to Jane Finch, a children’s author, of the wonderful series of books called Chickens Laugh Out Loud.

Here’s Jane to tell you her story of how her books came to life…

A few years ago I decided I would like to keep chickens. However, instead of buying pedigree chickens I decided I would like to rescue some from a battery farm. I had seen pictures of them kept in small cages, never seeing the light of day, never feeling the sun on their backs, and never feeling the grass beneath their feet. So I took myself off to a local egg factory where they kept in excess of one thousand chickens in hot and steamy broiler houses. As it happened they were just about to send a load off to slaughter, and so I ended up going home with not just two or three, as I had planned, but with twenty-five!  Most of the hens could not walk, were almost bald, and were not used to being in the dark, because lights are kept on 24 hours a day to increase egg production.

I converted a shed into a coop, and filled a greenhouse with straw bales, and the way those chickens reacted to freedom took my breath away. I was amazed at the characters of those hens, their funny antics, the twinkle in their eyes, and the way they followed me around the garden like a dog. I loved them from the start, and never expected to have such strong emotions for what, after all, were only chickens.

Being a writer, I decided to write about their escapades, later turning the stories into rhyme as I thought children would love to hear about these crazy chickens. Earlier this year I cam across Jack Foster on Facebook and was immediately drawn to the incredible characters that he had created. I sent him the rhymes and he responded that he would love to illustrate the poems, and so the Chickens Laugh Out Loud series was born.  The first was The Chicken Farm, followed by The Apple Tree, and later Rainy Morning. I was so excited that Jack was able to bring my crazy chicken characters to life. There are three more books in the series in the making, due for release early next year.

Chickens Laugh Out Loud book one The Chicken Farm written by Jane Finch and illustrated by Jack Foster, yellow background with 5 smiling chickens with green eyes in front

We recently received a five-star review from Readers’ Favorite for The Chicken Farm:

Reviewed By Trudi LoPreto for Readers’ Favorite

The Chicken Farm: Book 1 in the Chickens Laugh Out Loud Series will definitely make your young child laugh. The illustrations are very well done and the story is easy for a child to follow, understand and enjoy. The rhyming adds interest for the child reader and allows them to eagerly try to find the matching rhyming word that might be used, a learning experience to see how many words they can come up with. My five-year-old granddaughter and I used my Kindle to read The Chicken Farm over and over; each time laughing, learning and spending quality time together sharing. Jane Finch is a gifted writer with a special talent for entertaining a child. Jack Foster is a talented artist in making the illustrations fun, recognizable and appealing to a child.

I believe this is a delightful book for any young child. I think the perfect age range is probably from age three to around five years old. It is exactly right for either a boy or a girl; both will find something that amuses and interests them. Each of the pages in The Chicken Farm is delightful. As a grandmother I really enjoyed sharing the experience and as far as my granddaughter was concerned it was a really “cool” book. We are both anxiously awaiting future books in the series and are sure we will be sharing more fun times with the series. I highly recommend The Chicken Farm: Book 1 in the Chickens Laugh Out Loud Series.

 Chickens Laugh Out Loud book two The Apple Tree written by Jane Finch and illustrated by Jack Foster two chickens sitting on an apple tree with blue background behind

Chickens Laugh Out Loud book three Rainy Morning written by Jane Finch and illustrated by Jack Foster, rainy gray background with a chicken holding an umbrella and another chicken with a yellow raincoat and rain boots on

The tag line for the series is – Never again will a chicken be ‘just a chicken’. I hope these books will help children to understand more about chickens, their amazing characters, and how they are so much more than just an animal that produces eggs.

 

The amazon links for the first three books in the series are:

 

http://getbook.at/chickens1

http://getbook.at/chickens2

http://getbook.at/chickens3

Facebook page – https://www.facebook.com/ChickensLOL

 

Website is: http://finchlark.webs.com

 

Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/jane.finch.14

 

Jack’s facebook page is:  https://www.facebook.com/jacktoon

Thank you, Jane, for sharing your super cute chicken books with us! Can’t wait to see what else you have in store to tell us about this zany chickens.

Brain Surgery Update

Hi everyone,

I’m sorry to not have my normal post about children’s books.

My life took a left turn two weeks ago when my husband was diagnosed with brain cancer.

His surgery was last Monday.

The surgery went well. The surgeon had told us he wasn’t going to be able to get it all of it but to our amazement, he was able to get 95% of it. I had been told through a cancer resource that anything over 80% was good. So, we were thrilled!

The next day, he did his physical therapy which was to walk with help a few steps.

All seemed to be progressing well.

But then he had a very bad pain at the back of his head and he vomited. A cat scan revealed a small slow brain bleed.

This meant a bit of a regression. He had to lay flat and his blood pressure started spiking and falling.

They have worked all week to get it leveled out and then to be level on pills and not via IV medication.

He has been very sleepy which, in my uneducated opinion, makes sense but it just means his progress is slow.

When he’s awake, he’s alert but he sleeps a lot.

I have been staying at a hotel nearby so I can have some time to unplug and rest.

We have been blessed with friends and family supporting us. I cannot say thank you enough to each of them.

We also have a large community praying for us. Let me say, we feel those prayers because I would not normally be this calm and my husband is improving.

Our faith is strong and we believe God will heal my husband. We believe in the power of prayer and in miracles. We know God will use this for good.

I would like to invite each of you to pray with us as we go through this journey.

Thank you!

Halloween: Tricks & Treats for Learning

6 children dressed up in various halloween costumes holding a sign that says Halloween

Hi everyone,

It’s the beginning of Holiday Season, as I like to call it, and here to kick it off is our favorite School Psychologist, Dr. Valerie Allen…

Dr. Valerie Allen

Licensed School Psychologist.

Halloween: Tricks & Treats for Learning

Those “teachable moments” can happen any time, any place, on any occasion. As we move into the holiday season, one such event is Halloween. Aside from your personal, school, or neighborhood activities, Halloween can be a prime learning opportunity.

Here are six ways to turn Halloween into an enjoyable learning experience to share with your child.

  1. Vocabulary: There are many words related to Halloween which can be categorized as nouns or verbs. Words can be alphabetized. They can be used to create word pictures or to find rhyming words. They can be sorted by number of syllables. Some words to consider: black cat, boo, broom, candy, costume, Fall, Jack-o-lantern, October, pumpkin, scary, treat, trick, and witch.
  2. Big Word into Little Words: Using only the letters in the word Halloween, make as many small words as you can in five minutes. You can offer points for the total number of words, with a bonus for words of five letters or more. Some of these words include: he, hen, hall, all, an, law, lean, low, eon, no, own, we, and when.
  3. Real vs. Make Believe: Encourage critical thinking about fact and fiction. Discuss fairy tales and characters in children’s books. Decide which parts of a story are about real things and which parts are pretend. This can also be an opportunity to discuss social issues about truth, misinformation, lies, and deception.
  4. Creative Imagination: Talk about costumes and who they represent. Discuss how people dress in different countries and those who wear uniforms. Talk about the difference between styles of dress and costumes. Use a story character and make up an adventure story. Discuss the purpose of clothing to offer protection from the elements, safety, and identification with others in a group or organization.
  5. Cultural beliefs. Research the history of the celebration of Halloween. There are significant religious, cultural, and agricultural roots in the celebration of Halloween. This can open discussions about differing beliefs, understanding, and tolerance.
  6. Food Celebrations. There are certain foods we enjoy during specific holidays. You can find simple, no-cook recipes for children to make and enjoy together. Discussions can include favorite holiday foods. You can talk about the ingredients used in pumpkin pie, apple pie, and mincemeat pie; which items are the same and which are different. Candies can be counted, sorted by texture or color, or by flavor. Other foods might include maple syrup, apples, cinnamon, and cider. This can also lead to a discussing of sharing food and candy with others in the community.

Halloween can be used to open doors to leaning, not just for those cute little Trick or Treaters!

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Dr. Valerie Allen is a child psychologist and author in Melbourne, FL.  She has published two children’s books, “Summer School for Smarties; Bad Hair, Good Hat, New Friends; oh and she’s raised 6 children!

Thank you, Dr. Allen, and be safe out there everyone and have fun!!