After a Disaster: What to Say to Children


It was one week ago today that a terrible tragedy occurred on one of south Florida’s High School campuses, Marjory Stoneman Douglas. We each are experiencing different emotions from this incident ranging from shock and dismay to extreme sadness to outrage.

Today, our favorite School Psychologist, Dr. Valerie Allen, brings us some words of wisdom in helping our children cope with just such an event.


After a Disaster: What to Say to Children


Often referred to as An Act of God, a Natural Disaster, or Civil Unrest, it is an unexpected event resulting in loss and suffering. It raises to the level of trauma that is outside realm of typical human experience. Victims can be directly or indirectly impacted and harmed by the event itself as well as the aftermath.


A wide range of emotional and physical  responses can be expected especially by children who turn to the adults in their lives for reassurance. Emotionally it is not unusual to become angry, fearful, anxious, or depressed. Physically there may be headaches, stomach upset, lack of appetite or overeating as well as sleep disturbances.


Parents need to support children by establishing a sense of safety and security to help them process their thoughts and feelings. Some strategies which are helpful include:


  • Placing the event in the proper context
  • Offering accurate information about the possibility of this type of event in their community
  • Return to normal routines while being flexible
  • Listen to the child and observe his or her behavior for anything out of the ordinary
  • Accept children’s emotional responses without judgment
  • Explain there is no “right” or “wrong” way to feel
  • Encourage expression of emotions through discussion, journaling, art, or music
  • Monitor and limit exposure to media on television, radio, online, newspapers, etc.
  • Focus on resiliency and compassion
  • Identify various ways people are supportive of each other
  • Allow them to join in disaster relief efforts

Take time to discuss  the ideals of  caring and empathy for all people. Consider themes of diversity and equality among all  human beings.

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Dr. Valerie Allen is a child psychologist in private practice n Melbourne, FL. She is the author of two children’s books, “Summer School for Smarties” and “Bad Hair, Good Hat, New Friends.” Oh yes, she has also raised six children!

Thank you, Dr. Allen, for sharing this important information with us today. And everyone take a moment and hug your children a little closer today.


Splotch, An Alice and Friends Book

Kenneth and Ann Hicks, co-authors of children's books


Hi, everyone!

Today, we have a couple that co-author children’s books, Kenneth and Anne Rothman-Hicks. Kenneth, please tell us what inspired your latest book, Sploth, ….

An idea for a book can come from almost anywhere at any hour of the day or night. Once, we were walking down the street in our hometown, New York City, when we saw a stain on the sidewalk that looked like a dog. Here is a picture of it.

an odd shaped splotch on the pavement


The image seemed so real, we wondered what might happen if it suddenly came to life?

We had already written two books about a young girl named Alice, who also lives in New York City. After seeing that splotch of paint, we began to think of ways that she might interact with a picture of a dog. Maybe, we thought, she might want a real dog, but her mother and father won’t let her have one. The Alice from our prior two books is not the type of girl who gives up easily. She has an idea. She will upload a picture of the dog on her computer and, on her social media account, she will pretend that she is taking care of her “virtual pet” and will post about taking her dog out for walks, feeding him, bathing him, and doing all the things that a dedicated pet owner does. She is sure that she will soon become an internet sensation, and her parents will be embarrassed into buying her a real dog.

Of course, this is not the way things worked out for Alice in the story. Splotch, as she calls her dog, comes to life and begins to act as her personal guard dog. This causes lots of trouble at school and with Alice’s friends when Splotch starts taking nips at whomever he thinks is mean to Alice. Finally, Alice has to figure out how to get Splotch back in the computer and out of her life!


Splotch, an Alice and Friends Book by Anne Rothman-Hicks and Kenneth Hicks
Available on Amazon



Also, in the Alice series are Stone Faces and Brownstone Faces. Like Splotch, both books were inspired by things that we saw as we walked together. We’ll tell you all about them on another day.

Anne Rothman-Hicks is a graduate of Bryn Mawr College where, in 1969, at a college dance, she met a student from Haverford named Kenneth Hicks. They have been together pretty much ever since, getting married, having children, writing books, making art, and generally conspiring to live lives that are happy, creative, and good.

Anne and Ken’s most recent novels and stories are set in New York City, where they have lived for most of their married lives.

Their middle reader series, Alice and Friends, features Alice, a 10-year-old girl with a vivid imagination that gets her into and out of trouble. The titles are, STONE FACES, BROWNSTONE FACES, and SPLOTCH.

In Ken and Anne’s tween book, THINGS ARE NOT WHAT THEY SEEM, Jennifer and James find a pigeon in Central Park whose foot was caught in a bit of string attached to a fence. Only this pigeon was actually a man before he was turned into a pigeon over a hundred years earlier. Now he needs some help to be turned back into a man before a certain hawk captures and eats him instead.

A sequel, REMEMBERING THOMAS, will be published by MuseItUp Publishing in March of 2018.

Connect with Kenneth and Ann on these links

Ken and Anne’s blog:

Ken and Anne’s Facebook Page:


Purchase their books here:

Buy links for Brownstone Faces:



Buy links for Stone Faces:

Thank you, Kenneth, for sharing about Splotch, what a cute idea for a book! And I love the New York City inspirations behind all of your books.

Jory the Terror, a Children’s Book about adjusting to new settings

Melia Neal, children's author


Hi, everyone! Today, I’m bringing you a new author who has a background near and dear to my heart, plus she lives in Missouri (the state I grew up in)! So, we already know she’s awesome.

Melia, tell us about yourself and your book, Jory the Terror…

My name is Melia Neal, I was born and raised in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Seven years ago, I relocated to Cape Girardeau, Missouri with my family. I am a wife and mother of three beautiful children, two boys ages 15 and 12 and one 10-year-old girl. I have a degree in Early Childhood Development and a degree in Psychology. My current position is a Children’s Service Worker for the state of Missouri.

Besides writing I enjoy working with children and families and being involved in the community. One community group that I am a part of is a nonprofit organization called Authentic Voices. Authentic Voices is a group of individuals playing an active role in the community to empower individuals to create solutions.

I started writing poems and short stories in high school as a hobby. I have written plays and movie scripts in the past. This past year I decided to take my writing to the next level by releasing my first children’s picture book called Jory The Terror on November 5,2017.


Jory the Terror by Melia Neal
Available on Amazon



Jory The Terror is a children’s story that emphasizes the importance of being oneself and adjusting to new settings. Jory the Terror is an alter ego that a young boy adopts to help adjust to having to leave home for school. Jory The Terror is dedicated to my little nephew who is the sweetest kid in the world but is often perceived in the wrong way because of his adverse approach.



After working as a director for an early childhood program I noticed that children may struggle to make friends because they do not understand how to communicate with others effectively. In the story, Jory is new to the school and is looking to gain new friendships with his classmates.

This book is the start of a series of children picture books that I will be releasing over the next few years.

I am planning to release my second children’s book this year called Aaliyah and Her Sidekick King. This book is a fiction picture book dedicated to my daughter Aaliyah. This book is to bring enlightenment on girls having the same physical capabilities as boys when it comes to playing sports. I am hoping that this book will empower not only my daughter but other little girls.

Through my children books, I am hoping to inspire the readers and the listeners through various issues that children face daily.

Learn more about Melia’s books at the links below

Barnes and Noble:

Connect with Melia at these links


Thank you, Melia, for joining us today!

I look forward to your future books!


The Authoritative Parent


Today, I bring you our favorite School Psychologist and Case Manager to discuss different parenting styles to help you be more aware of your own style and make a conscious choice how you want to parent. It’s never too late to change or reinforce what we’re already doing and always good to be aware of how our reactions shape our children.

Dr. Valerie Allen

Licensed School Psychologist ~ Certified Case Manager

New and Improved Parenting for the New Year

The New Year brings added attention to the fact that children are in a constant state of growth and development. One day your daughter is interested in dolls and tea parties and the next she is experimenting with make-up and high heals. What happened to that lovable little boy who played so nicely with the puppy? This is the same boy who now thinks you are his private taxi service. In a matter of weeks or months, children’s needs and behaviors change and so must our style of parenting. What worked at three may not work as well at 13.

The goal of parenting is to raise children who are independent of us. The job of a parent is to instill values and morals, so the child understands right from wrong and makes appropriate choices when on his own. When we are not there with reminders about being on time, keeping safe, and hand washing will our child be in a position to know what to do, how to do it, and motivated to do it well?

What can parents do to help raise positive children, who enjoy life and are pleasant to be with? Impossible you say! All is not lost. Research has identified four basic parenting styles: Authoritative, Authoritarian, Permissive and Uninvolved. One has proved to have a more successful outcome when raising children.


  1. The Authoritative Parent: provides a loving, supportive, home environment. These parents hold high expectations and standards for their children’s behavior. They enforce household rules consistently and explain why some behaviors are acceptable and others are not. Children are included in family decision making.


  1. The Authoritarian Parent: holds high expectations and standards for their children’s behavior, however, they convey less emotional warmth directly toward their children. They establish rules of behavior, but they may not take the child’s needs into account. They tend to expect immediate obedience, without question by the children. Parents make “family decisions” without input from the children.


  1. The Permissive Parent: may provide a loving, supportive, home environment, however,  hold few expectations or standards for their children’s behavior. They rarely discipline the child for inappropriate behavior and tend to make excuses for their child’s offenses. Children are allowed to make their own decisions about their life style without guidance or standards set by the parents.


  1. The Uninvolved Parent: provides little, if any, emotional support; even when they are home, they tend to be uninvolved with their children and family activities. They hold few expectations or standards for their children’s behavior. They have little interest in their children’s lives and seem overwhelmed or over involved in their own work or problems.


The Authoritative parenting proved to be the most effective style to develop positive social skills in children. Authoritative parents tend to raise children who are happy, self confident, independent, and respectful of others.


Resolve this new year to tell your child every day “I love you” with your words and by your actions. Take time to be involved in your child’s life at home, at school, and with friends. Your efforts will help create open communication, mutual respect, and a loving relationship with your child throughout the year ahead.

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Dr. Valerie Allen is a child psychologist in private practice. She is the author of two children’s books, “Summer School for Smarties” and “Bad Hair, Good Hat, New Friends.” Oh yes, she has also raised six children!


Happy Groundhog Day–Fun Facts for Kids

Groundhog close up of face
Picture provided free by Pixabay

Happy Groundhog Day everyone!!

Fun Fact: Did you know groundhogs are also known as woodchucks?

Do you remember this fun little ditty from childhood,

“How much wood would a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood? A woodchuck would chuck as much wood as a woodchuck could chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood?”

My brother taught me that. I’m sure we sung that so much that my Mom was tired of it and sent us outside to play. Hahaha!

I’d love to hear your favorite memories of Groundhog Day as a child or current memories you are making with your own children or grandchildren. Share them in the comments!

I have found some other fun facts that your kids will love–check out this link!


Ellen L. Buikema’s Children’s Books with Messages for both Children & Parents

Ellen Buikema, children's author photo


Today, I’d like to introduce you to a talented author named Ellen Buikema. She has written adorable books with wonderful messages and a splash of humor.

Welcome, Ellen, please tell us about yourself…

I am a writer, speaker, educator, and mom. I graduated from the University of Illinois at Chicago, received a M.Ed. specializing in Early Childhood, and have post-graduate studies in special education from Northeastern Illinois University. I worked as a teacher for 23 years.

During the school year I have the pleasure of being a visiting author, either in person or via Skype. I usually visit with students in Pre-K through fourth grade, although I have spoken with students through eighth grade. For Pre-K through first grade I bring Sock Puppet Tim along to help. He is a well-loved addition to author visits as he is funny and helps maintain students’ attention.

Parenting...A Work in Progress by Ellen L. Buikema, M. Ed.


I’ve written a self-help book for parents, Parenting . . . A Work in Progress, and a children’s chapter book series, The Adventures of Charlie Chameleon. The Parenting book is much like a child growth and development book, but with vignettes, some amusing and some sad. I’ve used a few of the funny ones in Stand-Up comedy.






The Adventures of Charlie Chameleon: School Days by Ellen L. BuikemaCharlie Chameleon’s many adventures are multicultural stories intended for second and third grade students as well as advanced first graders to read independently. Children ages three through nine will enjoy the antics of the characters in the Charlie books. According to the school librarians I’ve spoken to, the books are also taken out by older students. Many of them enjoy the artwork and the activities at the end of each chapter. So far, most adults and children love Frankie, Charlie’s pesky pet goldfish and comic relief, the best.




In New Beginnings, Charlie Chameleon and his family start their adventure in New Town, where Charlie discovers he is braver than he knows. With his bossy pet fish, Frankie, by his side, he faces many challenges, including standing up to the neighborhood bully.

The Adventures of Charlie Chameleon: New Beginnings by Ellen L. Buikema


Volume 2, School Days, finds Charlie and his friends having trouble with Boris Bunny, the class bully. Charlie thinks Boris is putting on an act, but his friends disagree. Follow Charlie’s adventures as he helps Boris learn how to be a friend.

In Volume 3, follow the wacky summertime adventures of the Chameleon family and their obnoxious pet fish, as they get lost trying to find an out-of-the way vacation spot. Who needs a map, right?

The family returns home in time for a big soccer event that Charlie and his school friends plan to attend. He hopes his new friends will accept Tamika, his best friend from his old neighborhood, never expecting what actually happens.

Currently, I am writing my first YA historical fiction novel, The Hobo Code. This genre requires a great deal of research, so I am having fun talking to people all over the country about trains, hobos, and specifics about some cities and towns. I spent an hour on the phone with the owner of a bar in Wausau, Wisconsin, the location of the story’s beginning. She was able to give me details that made a huge difference in the setting for one part of the story. My list of acknowledgements is growing all the time.

All of Ellen’s books have earned a 5 star review on Readers’ Favorite

5 star Readers' Favorite Review Badge

Purchase Ellen’s books via the links below


Connect with Ellen via her website


Or on other Social networks


Thank you, Ellen, for sharing about yourself and your wonderful books with us today!

Thank you, everyone, for hanging around until this point and reading this post. If you have any questions, please leave a comment in the Comment Section and we’ll get back to you soon!


Is My Child Ready For Preschool? (With Free Printable)

Hey Moms of toddlers, you might be wondering how do you know if your child is ready for preschool and/or what you can do to help your child be ready…here’s a great blog to help you decide.

Momma Bird Blog

Are you a parent of a 3 or 4-year-old who might be ready for preschool? Let’s see if it’s time to enroll!


A good friend recently asked about PRO’s and CON’s of sending her daughter to early preschool. Our oldest son was enrolled in early preschool at the age of 3. So here’s why we did send our oldest to preschool early, and why we didn’tsend our middle child at age 3:

PRO’s: (Reasons why to try early preschool)

  • Language was developed for the age
  • Able to follow simple instructions
  • Potty trained with almost no accidents
  • Excited to go to school (ran to class)
  • Loved to be read to and color
  • Wanted an outlet for making friends
  • Admired the teacher (probable teacher crush)
  • Had a newborn baby brother that kept us busy
  • Always came home with cute crafts and stories to tell
  • Cost was only $10/day for 3 days/week


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Celebrating an Accomplishment

3 shelves decorated with fun items and a trophy

When you’re a writer, how do you actually know your work is good? One of the crowning endorsements is winning an award. When we win an award by people who judge writing for a living, we know our work stacks up against other excellent writers.

Well, that has been my recent experience. I had never won an award for my writing before but I saw an ad earlier this year and decided to take the leap. I entered two of my books in several different categories that I thought were a good fit. And then, I waited. It was 5 long months. I wrote the date on my calendar and said a silent prayer. When that day came, there was no email in my inbox. I was disheartened but decided to go online and check out the winners. I went to their website and scrolled through the list. There my book was in 2nd place! Later, I read that they didn’t send out emails. I wish I had read that detail earlier.

I felt validated finally. It’s like in Pinocchio when he says, “I’m a real boy.” That’s how I felt, “I’m a real author.” The Awards Ceremony held in Miami during the Miami International Book Fair was spectacular. There were other winning authors in attendance, some more well known than others. Some who had multiple times and others, like me, who were winning their first award. I felt like I was being inducted into an elite club. It was a magical experience.

None of this meant to just brag about being a winner, it’s more the fact that I want to encourage you to also enter contests and experience the joy I have experienced! Believe in yourself. Believe in your work. And just go for it!!

And come back here and leave me a message about your award(s). I would love to hear about your experience and celebrate with you!