Practice at Home to Prepare for School

2 young children huddled over a desk. One is writing and the other is looking on.

Hi everyone,

I don’t know about the rest of the world, but here in Florida, School is starting today!

I know, it feels early to me too!

So, to help you get this year off to a good start, here’s our favorite School Psychologist with some tips for parents on how you can support your child at home.

Dr. Valerie Allen

Practice at Home to Prepare for School

There are four basic areas of development for the young child which can be fostered at home. These skills lead to success at school and set the pace for a positive educational experiences. Here are some home activities parents can support and encourage.

Intellectual:  Kids who read succeed. Take your youngster to the public library for his or her own library card. Allow your child to check out books from the library and spend time together reading them to each other. Play board games, cards, crossword puzzles, word searches which are challenging and appropriate for your child’s age. Help your youngster to explore, question, and discover new things.

Social:  Children need to engage in positive relationships with their peers as well as with adults. Encourage new friendships at school, in the neighborhood, and youth groups. Hobbies, team activities, and community organizations can offer new skills and nurture responsibility. Demonstrate a positive attitude toward rules and authority figures to develop respect and cooperation.

Emotional:  Children need to feel loved and accepted without demanding perfection. Openly show affection. Listen to your youngster and help him or her explore alternatives to find solutions to problems. Praise their efforts even if it doesn’t lead to success the first time.

Physical:  A child’s height and weight should be commensurate with his or her age. A good mantra for healthy children is “Eat less, move more.” Routines for adequate sleep, eating healthy foods, and personal hygiene support physical conditioning and offers preventative care. The best strategy to prevent disease and illness is hand washing!

Children will thrive in all areas of development when parents are actively involved in these simple day-to-day actions with and for their youngsters.

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Dr. Valerie Allen is a child psychologist, speaker, and author. She  has published two books for  children in grades 3 to 6 , ‘Summer School for Smarties‘ and ‘Bad Hair, Good Hat, New Friends.‘ Oh yes, she has also raised six children!


On the Loss of the Love of my Life

I’m writing a blog posts today to share a little about my personal life. Those of you that have been following me for awhile have seen a few posts about what has been happening. Unfortunately, back in October, my husband was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer.

We were understandably devastated but we had no idea what lay ahead for us. We cried together and held each other during our sleepless nights. We had many conversations in the beginning about our love and commitment for each other. As time went by, those conversations got fewer and fewer.

Then, my husband got to work taking care of things–we found a lawyer and drew up paperwork so I would be able to make decisions for him if he became unable to; we contacted family and let them know; and some general things about running the house that he always had taken care of.

We drove into Orlando for his brain surgery. He was worried he might not know who everyone was afterwards, but he did. In fact, he was cracking jokes and making us all laugh.

But, that positivity didn’t last. He had a brain bleed and fell into a deep sleep. Not a coma, but close. I was beyond worried and stressed. He recovered and was released to rehab which he hated but overtime he wound up really liking his physical therapist and his speech therapist. Those people called to that line of work are worth their weight in gold.

He developed an infection at the wound site and had to go in for a second surgery to remove that piece of scalp. He would now have a soft spot. He had to go on 6 weeks of intravenous antibiotics. His radiation treatment, of which he had 6 days of, was put on hold. Then, it took 3 weeks after he was cleared of the infection to get started again on radiation. He finished the full treatment without any sickness or hair loss. We were thrilled! He rang the bell at the office!

Again, that positivity did not last. 8-10 days later, he developed late onset reaction to chemotherapy and radiation. He began declining but I couldn’t see it. I thought he was just tired from chemo/radiation and we were taking him off his steroid that he had started in October which could make one very tired.

He slept A LOT! And then, he began to not be hungry. He complained his stomach hurt and would often rub it. Sometimes he would say his stomach felt sour like he had eaten bad cheese. The doctors confirmed that the antibiotic he was on (he had developed a second infection) could make his stomach sour. So, I thought that’s why he wasn’t hungry.

But, no, it was the beginning of the end. Towards the end, he would have weird delusions. He told me that someone had dropped him out of the attic. There was an attic in the house he grew up in. I had no idea if he was reliving a memory or having a bad dream or if his head hurt and his body was trying to “create” a reason why.

His antibiotic ended and he asked for a cheesesteak (his favorite) and he ate a little bit. I was encouraged! The doctors and nurses shook their heads, though, and said it wasn’t enough to sustain life. But, if you haven’t eaten in 6 weeks, you’re not going to eat a big meal. I still couldn’t see it.

A nurse a month prior mentioned maybe he was giving up. I asked him and he said no vehemently. His primary doctor had told me to call hospice and put them on hold. That’s a weird way to put it, but I think she was trying to be delicate. The rehab doctor said we would have to call hospice if he wouldn’t take a feeding tube. That was the first inkling that something was wrong. Then, his radiation doctor said his will wasn’t giving up, it was his body. It was tired. He had many different things go wrong throughout this time while fighting brain cancer, his body just couldn’t recover. That made more sense than him actually giving up and explained his vehement response to my question previously.

But, it took a kind doctor actually pulling up a chair and sitting down with me and gently explaining that we shouldn’t pursue aggressive treatment. I wholeheartedly agreed that we should not continue with the monthly chemotherapy but didn’t realize she meant any treatment at all. It took several more conversations with her and a couple conversations with the hospice doctor before I started to see what they were really saying.

It took having a conversation with my husband, though, that actually made it real. He told me he was tired of all of this and didn’t want to do it anymore. He said he knew he wasn’t going to be here much longer. He said he wasn’t afraid to die and that he knew where he was going and was ready to meet his God. I have never wept so hard in all my life.

You see, I knew I had to have a conversation with him about his life coming to an end but I didn’t know how. I had prayed that day for the Lord to help me have that conversation. When I arrived at the hospital, he was not in the room. He was away having a procedure. When he came back in, that’s when he told me he was tired of all of it. He opened the door to be able to have the most difficult conversation you could ever have with a loved one in your life. I knew this opening, this opportunity was a gift from God to allow us to have this beautiful, albeit, heart-wrenching conversation.

We spoke again of our love and the wonderful memories we shared and the beautiful family we had. I told him that when he gets up there, if he’s able, to take care of me. He said, of course he would. I told him that when it was my turn, I would come running into his arms. I wept and stroked his arm and hand.

He was completely aware of what we were talking about and it felt like my old Joe, the one before he got sick and his mind quit working as good as it had. But, then, he started saying things that didn’t make sense and in a flash, the moment of pure, blissful love flowing between us had ended. We were back in the dark hospital room struggling with the reality of our relationship coming to an end, at least an end here on earth.

I called for hospice on a Thursday about a week and a half after that conversation. It took a few days for the hospice doctor to sign off and the hospice nurse to come. They moved him to Hospice House on a Monday and he died that Friday peacefully and with family surrounding him. That was May 31st. Only 7 months after his diagnosis.

I have been reeling at losing the love of my life, my soul mate, my best friend–the best thing that has ever happened to me. He brought such healing to my life. So, I have been attracted to books that either talk about grief, or are of a spiritual, uplifting nature, or talk about someone else’s experience.

That’s when I came across Abbie Johnson Taylor’s book called My Ideal Partner, How I Met, Married and Cared for the Man I Loved Despite Debilitating Odds. You see, Abbie and her husband were both blind AND he had a massive stroke that paralyzed his left side.

I started reading it and only put it down once and that was because I had to make dinner.

Here’s my review on Amazon


5.0 out of 5 stars

Caregiving, Love, and Loss

July 14, 2019Format: Kindle Edition

Verified Purchase

After having just lost my husband 6 weeks ago to brain cancer and being his caregiver, I found myself in this book. Similar thoughts and feelings. I never knew before I was one how difficult it was to be a caregiver. Watching your big strong husband decline and doing everything in your power to try and ease their suffering is beyond difficult. This was a very good book and well-written. What a beautiful love they shared. Anyone who’s gone through a similar situation will relate and those that haven’t will gain some insight into our world.

If you made it this far, I was to thank you for stopping by my blog today. I know it’s different from my usual posts about children and children’s books and those will return again next week, but I thought you might want to hear a little bit about what has been going on in my life and to read a great book that helps give you insight into what it is to be a caregiver and then lose your partner.

In the future, I may have a book of my own to share our story. We’ll see. Right now, I’m grieving.

Peanut Butter in the Middle, A New Release Children’s Book

Hi everyone,

I’ve got a new release for you called Peanut Butter in the Middle about, well, being in the middle, literally. A great children’s book for all children but especially a middle-born child.

Stuck in the Middle

NEW YORK, NY – Children’s author, Stephanie Lombardi bursts into the literary scene with her charming book, Peanut Butter in the Middle.

The story follows a young boy who is the middle child with a baby brother and an older sister. The young boy often feels left out as it seems like his siblings receive more attention than him.

His mindset completely changes one day while spending one on one time with his mom when she shows him the crucial role he holds in his family.

The young boy’s discovery emphasizes the main message that prompted Lombardi to write the book.

“The strongest message of my book is how each sibling even the middle sibling has an important role to play in their family,” she reflects.

Filled with gorgeous illustrations and a heart-warming message, Peanut Butter in the Middle is a story that will resonate with parents and children alike.

Peanut Butter in the Middle, published by Austin Macauley, was released on June 28th 2019.

Price: $12.95 ISBN: 9781641825306. It is available in Amazon, Barnes & Noble as well as other bookstores around the country. Review copies are available upon request.

For more information, please visit:

About Stephanie Lombardi: Stephanie Lombardi-Terranova is a graduate of Rutgers University where she majored in Psychology. She went on to earn her Juris Doctor at Seton Hall University School of Law. She practiced as a family law attorney prior to having her three children: Madison, Peter, and Richard. She currently resides in Colts Neck, New Jersey, with her loving husband, Matthew, their children, and their cat, Rugby. She lives just minutes away from the home where she grew up. She loves spending time with her family at the beach, in Disney World, or really anywhere they are. She sees her mother every day.

Thank you, Stephanie, for sharing your book with us today! I encourage my readers to please purchase a copy of her book for the favorite child in your life and/or share with others so they can discover this wonderful book with an even better message!

The Legend of the Lighthouse

Hi everyone,

I’m super excited to bring you this children’s book by J. A. Jones. I read it and absolutely love the inspirational message contained inside. Here’s the Press Release to tell you more about it….

A Lighthouse Magically Comes to Life

NEW YORK, NY – Imagine this: if a lighthouse magically came to life, how would it react? Legend of the Lighthouse by J.A. Jones explores this question in his inspirational story about a magical lighthouse that shows us we are all special in our own way.

The story begins with a swift fight between a Pirate King and a sea serpent; following the Pirate King’s battle victory, his luck continues, and he finds glorious treasure. The Pirate King buries the treasure on the Island of Forever which appears every twenty years.

As time passes, the Pirate King grows old in age and forgets where he hid his treasure. One afternoon, a soaring seagull discovers the misplaced treasure and magically transforms the Lighthouse into a living being. When the lighthouse comes to life he is afraid and confused, but with the guidance of the seagull he learns that we are all uniquely special in this world.

The lighthouse’s ability to come to terms with his new identity aligns with Jones’s beliefs about self-acceptance: “I believe how we deal with extreme situations can show us who we truly are, and we are only limited by our imagination,” he reflects.

Full of adventure, pirate kings, sea creature, treasure and a powerful inspirational message, Legend of the Lighthouse is a timeless read that will allow readers to teleport to a magical world whenever they wish.

Legend of the Lighthouse, published by Austin Macauley, was released on May 31st 2019.

Price: $9.95 ISBN:9781641825634. It is available in Amazon, Barnes & Noble as well as other bookstores around the country. Review copies are available upon request. For more information, please visit:

About J.A. Jones: At an adolescent age, J. A. Jones began writing short scripts to entertain his family. He realized he had a gift for storytelling. Soon after the tragic loss of his mother at an early age, he isolated himself from friends and family for long periods. He escaped into the worlds of Tolkien and C. S. Lewis, evolving a love for fantasy which in turn helped him develop his unique imagination. After jobs such as high-rise window washer, hotel manager, and bodyguard, J. A. Jones decided to pursue a Bachelor of Arts degree in English and fulfill a dream of becoming a published author.

Summer Success for Teens and Tweens

Hi everyone,

Today, I’m bringing you some good parenting advice from our favorite school psychologist, Dr. Valerie Allen…

Summer Success for Teens and Tweens


Dr. Valerie Allen

Summer can be long and lonesome for the teens and tweens in your life. They are out of their typical learning environment and circle of friends. It doesn’t mean the summer can’t be useful for acquiring new skills, information and friends. It’s important to keep the teens and tweens busy and engaged in new and interesting activities. Here are a few tips that will be helpful.

  1. Screen Time. Limit electronic viewing and contacts to two hours per day, in 30 minutes blocks. If they do not turn in their device after 30 minutes, they miss their next half-hour of allowed electronic time. There should be at least 30 minutes between each block of online time. Set time limits between 9:00 AM and 9:00 PM. At night all electronic devices should be turned in to a safe location with parental monitoring. Parents should have access to passwords and their child’s online social network. The summer is also a good time to do some electronic pruning of games, apps, and people.
  2. Missing Friends: Your child may not have as much access to his or her best friend or close social network during the summer. Children travel, have jobs, do volunteer work, visit with relatives, attend camp and so on. Encourage your youngster to participate in new activities. It’s important to learn new things, work with different authority figures, develop new friends, and engage in tasks without getting a “grade” or being judged. It is also important to have down time just to sit back and learn to do nothing–rest and relaxation can be a good thing!
  3. Summer Jobs. Your youngster may be too young to be an actual employee, however, he or she can earn money. They can babysit, dog walk, trim hedges, pull weeds, sweep driveways, patios, wash cars, and sidewalks, clean the kitty litter box, or make and sell crafts. They can learn about entrepreneurship, time management, marketing, supply and demand and sales. They can create a flier to explain their services and set fees. You can also offer to pay for some extra jobs at home, such as cleaning out the garage, cleaning the windows, planting a tree, and so on. Volunteer work is also a good choice to fill those long summer days with something productive.
  4. Curfew: The summer brings many discussions about curfews and bedtime routines. Involve your child in these decisions. Write out the fixed days, dates, and times of family events. Things to be considered are parents work schedule, school classes if needed, day care needs for younger children, pets to be cared for, family gatherings, plans for camp or travel. Typically kids can sleep in an extra hour or two in the morning and stay up an hour longer at night. Consideration should be given to how less or more sleep impacts behavior, attitude, moodiness, level of cooperation and so on.
  5. New Experiences: Often children have some anxiety when faced with change, especially unexpected change in their routines. Being away at overnight camp or with extended family or joining with a new peer group can be stressful and result in anxiety. When there needs to be a change in the plan try to provide advance notice. Explain why the change was needed and how it may impact other plans. Keep in mind some children thrive on new experiences and others can become fearful.
  6. New Behavior: The summer may bring opportunities for new and sometimes risky behaviors. Monitor your child for mood changes, high anxiety, unexpected fears, negative attitude, or dramatic responses to trivial matters. It could be a sign of normal hormonal changes or coping with social or moral dilemmas, typical for kids in this age group. However, youngsters may be negatively influenced by a new peer group, or experimenting with drugs or alcohol, or being exposed to inappropriate images or games online. If you notice anything atypical about your child’s behavior, the time to talk is now. Set aside a private and quiet time to discuss what you’ve observed and ask their opinion. Explain their behavior is out of the ordinary and you’re concerned. Allow them to talk without judgment. Take necessary precautions to avoid hurt feelings or harm to those involved.

Teens and tweens can use the summer months to gain new skills and explore careers. Use these suggestions to help them grown, enjoy and learn.

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

Max and the Magic Sailboat, New Release

Hi everyone,

I’m excited to bring you a new children’s author with a cute book inspired by his own childhood, here’s Axel Behn’s press release for Max and the Magic Sailboat…

NEW YORK, NY – Author Axel Behn bursts into the children’s literary world with his beautifully illustrated story, Max and the Magic Sailboat.

Presented in a rhyming format, the story introduces Max who moves away to live with his grandparents; the only items he packs are his clothes and his favorite toy, his sailboat.

Each day Max happily sets his sailboat out for sail from the cliffs of the sea and watches it float away only to return every morning with notes and photographs from countries far away.

The different countries and cultures Max learns about each time he casts his sailboat to the sea will create magical adventures for readers and was what inspired Behn to write the book.

“I have always dreamt of writing books for younger readers. When I relocated to Mallorca the idea came to me about travel and the different cultures around the world,” he reflects.

Filled with gorgeous imagery, an engaging storyline and an educational message, Max and the Magic Sailboat will become a bedtime read that children and parents will continue to return to time and time again.

Max and the Magic Sailboat, published by Austin Macauley was released on May 31st 2019. Price: $9.95 ISBN: 9781641823890. It is available in Amazon, Barnes & Noble as well as other bookstores around the country. Review copies are available upon request. For more information, please visit:

Axel Behn as a child and the picture that inspired the book cover

About Axel Behn: Axel was born in South Africa, where he attended school in Transvaal and Natal. After matriculating, he spent two years in the military. He received a diploma from Ruth Prowse School of Arts in Cape Town in 1989. Since then, he has held exhibitions in South Africa, Germany, and USA. In 2017, he relocated to Majorca, where he fulfilled a lifetime dream of writing a series of children’s books.

Penny N’ Pals Children’s Book

Hi everyone,

Have a new puppy? Here’s a great book that will capture your heart as you share it with your child as well as help your child have empathy for what your newest family member may be going through with underlying life lessons for your child as well.

Here to tell us more about her book is the author, Jenny Brunstein…

Penny N’ Pals is the tale of new beginnings as a child and his mother pick out a new puppy, Penny, after their beloved dog passes away. The story goes on to describe the family enduring new puppy tribulations in the form of both humor and fear as a mischievous puppy begins her life in a new home. Penny N’ Pals defines the underlying teaching that you can’t make it in the world of San Francisco without a loving family to guide you through the right life lessons.

Here is a little bit about me:
Jenny Brunstein is born and raised in the Bay Area, California. Prior to writing books, Jenny has spent a number of years in the tech industry of Silicon Valley. Past publications include her poetry at an early age in the Stanford Anthology for Youth. In her spare time, she loves to play basketball with the real-life Penny and her boyfriend and showcase to her loving family her visions of future Penny stories. Jenny was inspired to write the book after babysitting two adorable boys. The siblings are in different age ranges and she wanted to create a book that parents could read to their kids or kids at more advanced reading levels can read on their own.

Recommended for children ages 4 – 9.

Additional links for the book:

To Purchase:

Social Media:

The Missing Alphabet Book–New Release

Hi everyone,

One of the author’s that I have featured before on my blog has a brand new release called The Missing Alphabet…I can’t wait for you to learn more about it, so here’s some of her characters to tell you!

Gregory the Boy: Hi everyone! My name is Gregory.

Sammy the Teddy Bear: *waves* Don’t be scared, but I can talk, too. I’m Sammy.

Gregory: Sammy is my best friend in the whole wide world. We go on a lot of adventures together. Don’t we, Sammy?

Sammy: Yup! Like the time when Gregory turned green at school.

Gregory: And you came to tell my friends and me about bulling.

Sammy: Someone had to.

Gregory: Then there was the time when you ripped your leg, Sammy, and Mom had to fix you up.

Sammy: *rubs leg* I don’t want to talk about that.

Gregory: Let’s not forget about what happened on Halloween night!

Sammy: We rode on a broom! *pretends to be an airplane*

Gregory: Now we have a brand-new adventure to share with everyone.

Sammy: We do! But maybe we should let Elaine Kaye share the details about the story of The Missing Alphabet.

Elaine Kaye the Author: Thanks, boys!


The paper alphabet letters in Gregory Green’s classroom have gone missing, and it’s up to him and his friends to find those missing letters. They go on a hunt through the school, hoping to find them. They spot letters next to things that start with those letters, like B for Bananas in the cafeteria. But will they be able to find the entire alphabet?

The Missing Alphabet is a great story for children learning to associate letters with objects, and four activities throughout the book will further help children to get familiar with the alphabet.

General Age Range – Kids 5-8 (Story Picture Book)

EBOOK: Amazon / Nook / Kobo

PRINT: Amazon 


“Bullying is not fun and, with colorful illustrations and interesting characters, the author handles the topic in a simple manner, giving a clear message about how the color of one’s skin is not important.” – Readers’ Favorite (5-Star Review)

EBOOK: Amazon / Nook / Kobo

PRINT:Amazon / Barnes & Noble

“Tutors and educators can use it in classrooms and school libraries for read aloud sessions.” – Readers’ Favorite (5-Star Review)

EBOOK: Amazon / Nook / Kobo

PRINT: Amazon / Barnes & Noble 

“This is a perfect story for children and it will make them imagine, dream, and become adventurous. The illustrations are whimsical and they bring out the spookiness and eeriness of the adventure.” – Readers’ Favorite (5-Star Review)

EBOOK: Amazon / Nook / Kobo

PRINT: Amazon / Barnes & Noble

About the Author: Elaine Kaye is the author of A Gregory Green Adventure series. She created Gregory Green after her son, who loved her homemade pea soup.

Kaye has worked as a library assistant and teacher’s assistant in elementary schools. She currently lives in Florida, but has called Michigan; Honolulu, Hawaii; and Okinawa, Japan home.

Website / Goodreads / Amazon / Instagram / Facebook

Thank you, Elaine, for coming on my blog today and sharing your exciting new release!

And readers, please check out her new book and pick up a copy for your favorite child and be sure to share so others can get their copy too!