Gus' Big Adventure by Traci Howell

Hi everyone,

Welcome to my blog, Lilacs in Children, where we grow children with character!

Today, I have a special author who has written several books that I know you’re going to love.

Her name is Traci Howell. Let’s hear from her…

I currently live in Missouri with my husband, Charles and two Labrador Retrievers, Dakota North and October May. We will be welcoming our first little one into the family around March. I am a fan of hiking, the outdoors, crafting and quilting, reading, and of course, writing!

I get my inspiration by everything around me. I grew up in a small town in Western Nebraska. I happen to be the youngest in my family, so I grew up watching my older sister’s interactions, as well as listening to everything going on around me. I also grew up listening to bedtime stories that my dad would read to me or make up for me. My mom was constantly giving me paper to write down stories or ideas or to draw my characters when I was younger. Today, I have a notebook I keep in my purse for that random idea that pops into my head. I love observing the world around me and taking in the small things that others may not even notice.

Gus’ Big Adventure is about Ruby and her little dog, Gus. They love going on adventures together. In this particular story, their adventure takes them to The Zoo. They get to see all the animals and enjoy the noises that go along with it until they come to the giraffes. Gus gets so excited he decides to take this adventure one step further by going into the giraffe pen causing a big stir within everyone watching. He talks to the giraffes and gets to take a ride on the little giraffe’s back before the Zoo Personnel come to get him. Ruby, Ruby’s mother, and Gus all learn that adventures at the Zoo require dogs to be on a leash.

Gus’ Big Adventure can be found on Amazon

Rudy is fun story about Santa and his reindeer. Rudy takes a look at what happens when Santa’s original reindeer, Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donder, Blitzen, and Rudolph become too old to continue pulling Santa’s sleigh for him. We meet all of their children and watch as they learn what it takes to become a team and pull Santa’s sleigh. We watch as Rudy, Rudolph’s son, learns to take his place at the front of Santa’s sleigh through all the lessons they have with Santa.

Rudy is available at Barnes and Noble and Amazon. Rudy is also available in paperback or hardback cover.

You can find me at my website or on social media. I’d love to connect with you.

Facebook – traci.howell.77

LinkedIn –

Instagram – traci_howell22

Thank you, Traci, for sharing your wonderful children’s books with us. They sound delightful!

And thank you, everyone, for reading my blog today. Comments and shares are always welcome!

Tejas Mathai and Infinity-The Secret of the Diamonds

Tejas Mathai Article

          My name is Tejas Mathai, and I am fourteen years old, living in Modesto California. I am the author of two published sci-fi novels on Amazon. My first book, Infinity: The Secret of the Diamonds, was published in 2018 and my second book, Infinity: The Rise of the Mandroids, was published in 2019. I have been writing stories ever since I was six years old. Some other hobbies I have are practicing martial arts and playing the piano. All of the profits from my books are being donated to Valley Children’s Hospital because I want to give back to my local community and to help kids feel better to pursue their dreams and passions.

          I started writing when I was six years old, and what inspired me to write was my younger brother. When we were younger, my brother and I would use toys, like Legos, to make up stories. Over time, as we made more and more stories, I began to write them down in notebooks to preserve the memories we had made together. This was the beginning of my passion for writing. When I gained more and more experience in writing stories, I began to drift away from what me and my brother came up with, and I began to make up stories on my own, drawing inspiration from movies and TV shows that I watched.

In 2015, I came up with my first draft for Infinity: The Secret of the Diamonds while I was on my trip to New York City. When my third draft of the story was completed, my grandma read it, and she told me that it was worthy to be published. The seed planted in my parents’ mind about having my story published was only further nurtured when my mom’s friend, a published poet, heard about my writing. She helped us make several contacts with editors and book designers, and by December of 2018, my first book was published, Infinity: The Secret of the Diamonds. The story takes place in present times in New York City, and is about an eighteen-year-old named Jack Stone, who lives with his dad and his uncle in the city. Jack’s father, Sam, is a scientist who creates a machine that can access different dimensions called the RTM. After Jack discovers the invention, circumstances lead him to meet the Infinity Corps, a special ops team from space whose job is to protect the five Infinity diamonds. When the tyrant Tarvin Genesis looking for the diamonds comes to Earth, Jack, his family, and the Corps have to fight against him in order to save the city.

But ever since the idea for the book came to me, I didn’t plan on making just one book. I had planned to make five of them, all part of the same series. And in October of 2019, I published my second book, Infinity: The Rise of the Mandroids. In this sequel to the first book, Jack and his family are reunited with the Infinity Corps three years after the first book’s events. With Tarvin still in power, they must make their way to the planet of Krynosh in order to stop Tarvin from amassing an army of mandroids (robots).

Through my writing, I hope that people, kids and adults alike, are inspired to make a difference and to follow their passions. My main message is that you are not too young or too old to pursue your dreams. I also hope all aspiring writers will be inspired by these books and my story. I wish all future authors the best of luck! Follow me on Instagram (@tejasmathai), Twitter (@MathaiTejas), Facebook, and my LinkedIn. My website is

The After Christmas Crunch



Dr. Valerie Allen

Not far behind us are the holidays with all the trimmings, which for the most part, are packed away, safe until the next season of joy arrives. What to do with all the extra “stuff that has accumulated? The children’s toys and knickknacks need to find a place in their already over crowded  rooms. It’s often difficult for children to decide what to keep and what to part with.

            This is an opportunity for parents to help children learn and practice organization skills and decision-making. One topic of discussion can be the difference between what we need vs what we want. Children can also learn to appreciate material things, which make our lives safe and enjoyable, as well as gratitude toward those who provide for us. It is timely to focus on sharing with others. Parents can also encourage reuse, re-purpose, and recycle to contribute to maintaining our environment and safeguarding natural resources.

Helping children cooperate with the task of organizing their belongings can be made easier with these few strategic steps.

Get Started

1. Set aside a specific day and time to work with each child. When trying to decide what to keep, consider the child first and always allow him or her to select a few favorite toys for safe keeping. As a parent, you may also want to choose items that have sentimental value. These things should be set aside with assurances to the youngster that his or her “special” things will not be taken away.

2. Next, consider which toys are still usable. If broken or missing pieces render them useless, it’s time to get rid of them. Consider the “play value” in light of the child’s age. If the toy is still in working order, but too immature for your child, it’s time to pass it on. Take a look at your child’s “interest level”; has your child played with this toy recently? Is it too simple or too complex for their maturity level? Left over parts and pieces can be recycled into an arts and craft box for future rainy day activities.

3. Get organized with large trash bags, tape, storage boxes, and zip lock bags of all sizes. Use permanent markers to identify items inside of bags and boxes. Repair and tape broken game boxes and book bindings. Put small game pieces, puzzles, books with audio tapes/CDs, and miniature toys into individual zip lock bags. Larger games can be keep together in storage boxes. Use the trash bags and separate the usable toys from those that have seen better days.

What To Do With It

4. Toys should be kept in a safe place with easy access for your child. Low shelves with each item in view is a good option and safer than high shelves; a deep toy chest may work well for stuffed toys and dolls. Use clear plastic boxes to easily see the items inside and label each one.

5. You may decide to have a yard sale and allow your child to participate. Be sure to discuss ahead of time the etiquette of customer service—no tears when an item is sold! No taking it back. Have your youngster price and tag items. He or she can also collect money at the “check out” table. This is a good opportunity to use the proceeds to open a savings account for the child or allow him or her to use the money for a special purchase.

6. Items in good condition can be donated to agencies working with children such as a homeless shelter, domestic violence program, day care center, library, community mental health center, health department, or the Head Start Program. Try to recycle as many items as possible.

The process of parting with the old to make room for the new can be a learning opportunity and a positive experience for your youngster. Taking these steps will provide maximum use and fun with their new items and put reusable items into good hands.

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Dr. Valerie Allen is a child psychologist in private practice. She has published two books for children ages 7 to 12, “Summer School for Smarties” and “Bad Hair, Good Hat, New Friends” and a picture book  for beginning readers, “The Sun and The Moon.” Oh yes, she has also raised six children!

Girls Can Do Anything Book Series

Good Monday Morning everyone,

I’d like to Welcome Carmen Petro today who has written a wonderfully empowering book series for girls.

I’ll let him tell you all about it…

Girls Can Do Anything – Genesis of the Series

Growing up as the youngest child with three older brothers, my daughter Caitlyn was caught between the world of girls being cheerleaders, and boys playing football. She adored her football playing brothers, so playing football was the path she decided to follow, and after much consideration on my part (she was Daddy’s princess after all) I grudgingly gave my blessing.  After all, I couldn’t tell her she could be anything she wanted when she grew up, only to stop her from trying football because she was a girl.  It was a tough sport, but Caitlyn stuck with it and in the end became an exceptional overall athlete and NCAA Division 1 Women’s Lacrosse player.

Available on Amazon

When she was little, I wrote a number of stories for Caitlyn in order to encourage and inspire her to think outside the box about her future and her eventual career path. The message of the stories wasn’t to overtly say that Caitlyn should follow a particular path in life. Rather, the message conveyed by the characters in these stories was that she should feel free to explore all options and avenues before making a decision about her future.  Over time, these stories evolved into a series of books written with the intent to encourage not just Caitlyn, but all young girls to dream big, take control of their futures, think outside the box, and not let anyone tell them they can’t do something. 

Young girls are smart enough to derive the underlying message within the pages of these books without having it pushed on them. The intent is to inspire them to consider educational and vocational paths they may not have thought about otherwise. These stories aren’t about competition with boys, or how much money they can make doing a certain job. These stories are about a young girl meeting women in what many might consider “non-traditional” career fields for a woman. The message presents the idea that there is a myriad of options available to girls which can empower them to take control over their futures and become anything they dream of, from an astronaut to an alligator wrestler.

Available on Amazon

About the Author

Available on Amazon

Carmen Petro lives in the scenic New Hampshire Mountains with his wife, Sylvia, their 6 dogs, and 2 cats.  He and Sylvia raised 5 children that are all grown and on their own, the youngest of which is Caitlyn.  Back when Caitlyn was just a pipsqueak, Carmen wrote a number of stories for her (loosely based on real people and the family’s real life experiences) to encourage her and let her know that she has the potential to do anything she puts her mind to. 

Caitlyn has since grown into a strong, confident, and successful young woman.  It’s my sincere hope that these stories encourage and motivate other young girls to chase their dreams and not let ANYONE stop them from realizing their natural-born potential.   

The “Girls Can Do Anything” series of books are available to order from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books-A-Million, and other fine booksellers, as well as directly from the Girls Can Do Anything web site at

You can also find us in Facebook at

Thank you, Carmen, for being a guest here today and thank you everyone, for stopping by. I hope you run right out and purchase all of his books for that special girl in your life this holiday!

An Attitude with Gratitude

An Attitude with Gratitude


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, on line, or on the news. Talk about charitable donations and organizations such as the March of Dimes, Hospice House, 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 clean litter at a park. 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, book shelves, 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.

6. 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, or woven into placemats. 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 in Melbourne, FL.  She has published two children’s books, “Summer for Smarties and Bad Hair, Good Hat, New Friends

Happy Veteran’s Day everyone!

Hi everyone,

Monday, November 11th is Veteran’s Day in the US.

I’m super excited to be celebrating this year because my step-son is just returning from serving the past 6 months in Afghanistan!!

He left just before Easter.

His Dad went into the hospital right around the same time. We didn’t know at the time that his Dad would not come home from the hospital.

6 weeks later, his Dad passed away but he wasn’t allowed to come home for the funeral.

Thankfully, he spoke to his Dad on the phone a week before he passed.

His baby girl turned 2 while he was away.

His wife kept comforted their daughter who stood at the front window and patted the glass window repeating, “Daddy, Daddy…” wanting her Daddy to come home.

His wife worked and kept house and all the usual things you have to do plus all the chores that would normally be his.

She evacuated during a hurricane–packing up all their belongings and their child and leaving their home, hoping and praying their home would be safe when she returned.

The sacrifice is real.

I’m so proud of you, my step-son and my step-daughter-in-law!!

And I’m so very thankful for your service and for everyone’s service–home or abroad.

I love you!

And your sacrifice and that of your closest family does not go unnoticed.

Welcome home! Welcome home! Welcome home!

And to my dear, sweet husband who served in the navy, may you rest in peace knowing your son is keeping us safe.

I’ll be flying our flag high and proud today!

Little Duke; A Coloring Book for Kids

Hi everyone,

Today, I’m bringing you a different kind of a children’s book–it’s a coloring book.

Here to tell you more about it, is the author, Mike Roof…

Hi, I am Mike Roof, for six years I have been working an office job, day in and day out. At first, it was ok, everything was stable and I didn`t mind spending some extra time at work to get things done.

It all turned around in 2017 when I and my girlfriend for eight years decided to get married. Don`t get me wrong it was one of the best decisions in my life and I am very happy about it. Right on our honeymoon, we found out a wonderful thing – we are going to have a baby. The first thing that circled my mind as – we are ready for this, I have a stable job and the payroll is ok, nothing to worry about.

Next nine months flew by and soon after we welcomed into our family a son. At first, everything went the same route, I went to work and my wife spent time with our son and in the evenings and on the weekends we did something together.

After a while, I got a promotion, which I was very happy for, but I didn`t realize that I will have to work, even more, thus taking time away from my family.

At one of those times while working long hours I thought to myself – what are those values that I want to give to my son, I could think of a lot of them, but one thing I was certain was I have to give my son time with me, because this is one thing I will never get back.

So I decided I have to move away from this office job and spend time with my son.

While thinking of ways to support my family and yet spend time with my son I thought that I could write a book for him including some values of life I think would benefit him.

So I did, but this book wasn`t very successful, but I knew I will have an interactive way to teach my son valuable life lessons.

After my first book I didn`t do much for a while and then I came up with an idea – I should make a coloring book for my son, this will excel his creativeness. I started my work on this book and had a thought – okay, he will color it but how will this improve my time with him, thus I made my mind he can color it, but we can think of a story by ourselves.

This is where my inspiration for this book came.

Facebook page –

Amazon –

Thank you so much, Mike, for sharing with us a little about yourself and what inspired you to create this ingenious coloring book that not only you and your son can enjoy together, but for sharing it with everyone else so they can do the same with their own children!

And thank you, everyone, for spending time reading my blog today.

Be sure and check out Mike’s book and grabbed one for that special child in your life. It would make a great holiday present!

Hayley the Halloween Cat and the Search for Bitty the Bat

Hello, everyone,

I wanted to take this Monday and share (i.e. shamelessly plug! LOL) my own book with you that is now available in paperback, Hayley the Halloween Cat & the Search for Bitty the Bat.

In my children’s picture books, I like to address (in a subtle way) a positive social/emotional issue. I utilize my 30+ years of counseling experience to infuse my stories with more than just a cute character that children love.

In this book, I show friends joining Hayley in her search for her friend, Bitty, which displays teamwork.

It also shows how fun it is to surprise your friends, like Bitty does.

And the special bond of friendship.

Wouldn’t we all like a friend that would come looking for us, if we were missing?

Your children (or favorite child in your life) will love Hayley and Bitty and all the fun, non-spooky characters of Halloween such as a ghost, a monster, a witch, and twin spiders named Spit and Spat as one Amazon reviewer says, “ I like that Hayley and the Bat are best friends. I also like the ghost and the rhyming “ Karolina, age 5

You can get your copy on Amazon today!

And please share on your social media channels so others can find this fun Halloween book!

And thank you for following my blog! You are what make blogging fun!

Wanda’s Whimsical Wall of Book Characters

Have you ever had a dream that finally came true?

That’s what happened to me this weekend.

When my daughter was little, wall murals were the rage in nurseries. I didn’t have the talent to paint one myself or income to pay someone to paint one, so I did without and unfortunately, so did she.

But, when I became a children’s author, I had this growing dream inside of me to one day have a mural in my writing office of all of my book characters.

I love whimsy and believe that every house needs a bit of whimsy. That’s why I re-did my daughter’s bathroom, after she left for college, in a mermaid theme.

But, my office, well, there’s no holds barred for whimsy! This is my room to sit and be inspired, so the more whimsy the better.

I reached out to an artist/author friend of mine about painting a mural in my office about a month ago and she was unfortunately too busy to do it, but she gave me the name of someone she knew who did great work.

Her and I met a few weeks ago and I showed her the wall I wanted painted, my books with pictures of the characters, and kind of an idea of the scene. We set a date and I waited.

Here’s the blank wall

I was like a kid waiting for Christmas. I was so excited!

Finally, the day came and that was this past Saturday. She showed up and we went over again, what I was thinking and she set out to work. I had a few chores to do so I set about completing those. She came to get me and this is what I saw…the sketch she drew with chalk.

The sketch

I was blown away how each character looked exactly like they do in my books and how they all looked somehow liked they ‘worked’ together in a scene! It was even better than I imagined!!

I had to run an errand so I hopped in the shower and took one more peek before I left.

the partial paint

It was so exciting to see the colors go on and the green grass and bushes coming to life!

I went out on my errand and came home to this, she was nearly done!

nearly there

I was so excited to see the Princess and her castle done, along with the unicorn! It was like a little fantasy picture in my own house. My Dad said, “It looks like something at Disney.”

Here that Disney, look over here and find some inspiration!

I’m going to upload the video for you to see her in progress…; width=”267″ height=”476″ style=”border:none;overflow:hidden” scrolling=”no” frameborder=”0″ allowTransparency=”true” allowFullScreen=”true”></iframe>

And here’s the final product….

Ta Da!
I think she’s incredibly talented!

Even though she came ahead and we talked about things and I showed her pictures, she didn’t come with a drawing all ready made up or anything.

She just went to work drawing free hand the day she came and then she stood and painted all day, only taking one break!

She clearly loves what she does!!

Now, I’m not meaning to slight her by not giving you her name. She asked me not to. Crazy, right?!

But, I cannot thank her enough for making my long time dream come true and bringing each of my whimsical characters to life on my office wall in a beautiful, magical scene that will inspire me for years to come.

Thank you, my new friend, and thank you all of you for being part of my author blogging life! I appreciate each and every one of you.