So you want to take your kids camping? Do you worry how to make it fun for the kids?
Do you remember camping when you were a kid?
What did you like best about it?
Time with family?
Sitting around the campfire?
The flashlight stories?
Not having anything you had to do but just have fun?
When you plan your camping trip, here’s a surefire way to make sure your kids have a great big grand time.
Research National Parks, KOA sites, AAA list of campsites, and State Parks. Most have camp sites and are awesome places to visit.
Pack travel-sized board games and a deck of cards for those slower times (while kids are waiting for the grown ups to get dressed, etc.). (Leave the electronics at home–I know, nobody can go that long, so if you must, bring them but leave them in the car. Have rules for checking them once or twice a day only). Be sure you have a source to re-charge your electronic devices because I know you’ll be using the camera on your phone.
If you’ll be near water, bring water toys (canoes, kayaks, boogie boards, inflatable toys and floats) and water safety items (such as water wings, swimsuits with floats sewn inside, life vests, etc.)
Bring a flashlight for everyone and back up batteries. Bonus Tip: You may want to bring a telescope to enjoy a night sky full of wonder.
Don’t forget the marshmallows and long sticks for roasting (don’t rely on finding sticks lying around at the campsite). And if you family like s’mores, bring chocolate bars and graham crackers. Be sure to research the use of fire at your campsite. Some limit campfires due to droughts.
Toiletries are a must. There may not be a camp store to purchase such items. Pack them in a separate bag. Bonus Tip: Be sure it has a handle for ease of carrying to the restrooms.
Be sure to plan your meals in advance and keep them easy such as spaghetti, hamburgers, hot dogs, sandwich items, cereal. Bonus Tip: Pack individual small snack bags so kids can grab and go. Extra Bonus Tip: Bring a plastic bin to put all your dirty dishes in to corral them as well as carry them to the water source. You may want to bring a wagon for this chore). Don’t forget the environmentally-friendly soap.
Plan some “outdoor” related crafts such as whittling (if kids are old enough to handle a sharp knife), dream-catchers, butterfly nets, lightning bug jars.
Don’t forget the big items–tent (be sure you have stakes and tie downs and a fly over in case of rain). (Bonus Tip: A mat to put right outside the tent, helps to keep dirt at bay and provides a relatively clean place to leave your shoes), sleeping bags or blankets/comforters, blow up mattresses or cushioned mats, and pillows.
Plan activities to explore the area. Hike, swim, tour, etc.
If you do all of these things, your kids will have a great time and you will too! You can relax knowing everything is taken care of which will free you up to just enjoy your kids and the area you are visiting.
Be sure and share your pictures and stories from camping in the Comment Section.
What do you do when your seven-year-old granddaughter asks about your writing career? When she wants to know all the details about your work of fiction that is not suitable for a seven-year-old to grasp? If you are me, you share with her all the tender moments of the book. You tell her of the strength of the characters and share how much you loved these characters.
Then comes the moment when she asks, “When are you going to write a book for me?”
Truthfully, I had never thought about that. The idea appealed to me even as it scared me a bit. But she asked so sweetly and so seriously.
“I will do that as soon as I get back to writing in March. Will that be okay? Do you have anything special you want in a book?
“No,” she says, “I just want you to write a book that I can read. Can you do that Grandma?”
With tears in my eyes and a lump in my throat, I assure her, “You better believe I can.”
The six-year-old, asks, “Can I read it too Grandma? Can you make it where I can read it too?”
“Me too, Me too!” Calls out the four-year-old, as he races over to the computer desk where I am sitting.
The room is abuzz with talk about books, characters and sight words. I assure each child, “Any words in the story you do not know, you can look up online and I am sure Mama will help out if hey you are all reading together.”
With the book considered a fait accompli, I left the state of Michigan, traveled back to Kentucky with children dancing in my head. As them miles stretched out in front of me, an image came to my mind. A little face, a face I knew in real life, but it was different, it was not the face of my granddaughter, it was the face of a new creature. I had my main character. Her name, Dolcey.
Before long, I had a blurb rattling around in my brain. It was perfect for these children. It was perfect for children a little older. It was playing out like a movie and I was captured by the story.
I was active on a project which left no time for writing so I noted everything and placed it on my desktop. For the next month I would add words, scene sketches and images as they came to me. As I am not one to outline or plan by nature. When I began this process, it was exciting and new to me. It was like building this story one scene at a time. Dolcey was becoming real to me. She was unique and she had a story; a story I felt worth telling.
I live with another little seven-year-old. Which means I must keep my writing tucked away from her little blue, curious, and prying eyes. If she catches a glimpse of me writing, she will sneak over to peek at the words.
The search is on for an illustrator, the words written so far, are fun but children will enjoy seeing the faces come to life, the scenes in living color and I wanted illustrations.
I reach across the ocean to a young artist that after reading the synopsis of the story wants to illustrate the book. She has high praise and that swayed me as she could see my vision on the scenes I sent. Off we go into the unknown of how to deal with an illustrator. As the writer, I saw these characters a certain way, but I wanted her to have creative freedom. I believe we compromised well enough that we are willing to follow Dolcey on another few stories.
Dolcey is already speaking to me, and Ellie the illustrator loves drawing Dolcey, so this seems to be an exciting new road we are taking.
When the cover was finished and I was uploading it for the cover reveal the blue eyed seven-year-old saw it and she hugged me and told me she loved it. I was sold. If she loves it, so will other children.
June second, the book, Who’s That in the Cat Pajamas? will be released and I hope that children will find the characters warm and loving. I hope that children and their parents will connect with Dolcey and enjoy her magical abilities that help Emily to solve a very serious problem in her life. Dolcey is not able to take away the problem, she is simply there to assist Emily in making peace with her situation.
The beauty of the story is the strength that both girls have in this journey. As they both grow and learn while solving a big dilemma.
Sojourner McConnell is releasing her first children’s book, Who’s That in the Cat Pajamas? on June 2 and hopes you will enjoy the story of Dolcey.
If you’ve been reading my blog long, you’ll know Natasha Daniels. I have referenced her articles and videos when I come across something I want to share with you as parents. She is a wealth of information and her specialty is anxiety. I’m honored she allowed me to interview her and I’m pleased to bring her interview to you today. Please help me welcome, Natasha Daniels.
You’ve been a Child Therapist for a number of years, what would you say is parents’ number one complaint or issue that brings them in for help?
The number one complaint I hear is “my kids don’t listen!” I think that is an issue for many of us. In the last few years, I have started to narrow my practice to treat only anxiety and OCD. In so doing, the biggest question I hear parents ask is “Why is he anxious? He has a good life. What would make him worry so much?” The answer, unfortunately, is genetics. You don’t need to have experienced trauma to have an anxiety disorder.
What was it that drew you to the counseling profession and specifically to work with children?
I was always the “helper” in my family and with friends. My father was mentally ill and I think that spurred my desire to work with mentally ill adults. Ironically in graduate school, they accidentally placed me in an internship working with abused and neglected kids. I fell in love with helping kids and it completely changed my career path. I haven’t looked back since.
I know you are a parent of three children. Tell us what changed for you personally and professionally once you became a parent.
Seriously, absolutely everything changed. Not only did I have my own children, but I had three anxious children. It opened my eyes and my heart to the struggles parents go through. I know what it feels like to feel overwhelmed, frustrated and ineffective as a parent. We’ve all been there. I also know what works and what doesn’t work with my own anxious kids. Life is messy – so is parenting. People need support, not judgment. We are all trying to do the best that we can. I try to convey that message in my therapy sessions, in my writings and on my podcast.
What do you enjoy most about helping children? Helping parents?
Children are hysterical. Their perspective is raw and real. I love that about kids! I can soak up kids all day long. The parents I work with have huge hearts. They want the best for their kids and have such power to help their kids move in a positive direction. It is amazing and awe-inspiring to see positive change happen.
What’s the greatest piece of advice you could give a parent today?
I think parents should spend more time trusting their gut and less time focusing on criticism or judgment. In this day and age, we are bombarded with opinions from family, friends and social media. Sometimes it is judgment overload and we need to take a step back and evaluate what works for our family and our kids.
In your opinion, has parenting become more difficult now that the internet is more available to children and especially even younger children?
Absolutely! There is basically a virtual back door in our children’s bedrooms where they can interact, share and engage inappropriately with others – often with people they don’t even know. We can’t pause technology or try to keep our kids cocooned. That typically backfires in a seriously ugly way. But what we can do is monitor, remain educated and keep a pulse on what is the latest and greatest social media fads with kids.
I read one of your posts about the apps that are “cover” apps that would encourage a child to participate in unwise behavior. This is scary. What can you tell parents, especially those that don’t feel comfortable themselves with the internet, about how to monitor this?
Unfortunately, I think we all need to take a crash course on technology – the stakes are just too high. There are tons of software programs and apps that monitor your child’s technology. I think it is important, even if your child gives you no reason to believe they are looking at or talking to anyone inappropriately. I have watched things spin out of control ridiculously fast without the parent knowing.
There are also online courses that can give you a crash course on technology and how to monitor your child. The best one I have seen is iParent 101’s courses at http://learn.adampletter.com.
Your website is called Anxious Toddlers. What caused you to focus on that particular issue?
Honestly, I wish I never called it that! The website was started when I wrote my first book, How to Parent Your Anxious Toddler. The publisher suggested that I create a website to support the book. Ironically the site took off and became a huge passion for me. Within the first few months of launching the site, I knew the site was going to be a project in and of itself. I wanted to expand it to kids of all age right for the beginning.
I have moved recently to calling the site AT Parenting Survival for All Ages to convey that message – but the website URL is still AnxiousToddlers.com.
I know you have expanded to include all aged-groups of children with anxiety issues. Do you plan to expand the topics or issues that your website addresses?
I am currently working on my latest course, Parenting Kids with OCD. I also have a third book in the works called, OCD Sucks! A Survival Guide. So, I am definitely going to be talking much more about OCD on my site and on my Podcast.
In general, my long-term vision is to make my website almost exclusively about parenting kids with anxiety and OCD of all ages.
Thank you so much for participating in this interview! You’re doing great work. Keep it up! I look forward to reading and watching your next post.
Imagine your child is experiencing intense emotional distress that vacillates between crying spells and episodes of explosive anger. His sleep is restless, and he’s having nightmares. His appetite has decreased. He refuses to attend school, and the teacher is texting you at least three times a week to report disruptive behaviors. The days turn into weeks, then months, and you learn your child is becoming aggressive toward classmates and siblings. His mood bounces up, down, and all around. He will not talk about the problem. Eventually the school counselor recommends therapy outside of the school setting.
Many parents feel stunned or intimidated by this recommendation. They don’t know what to expect or where to begin. But children can benefit greatly from therapy, and it does not have to be a mysterious process.
Begin by contacting your health insurance company to…
Licensed School Psychologist ~ Certified Case Manager
Crises Management: Don’t Shout While You’re Out
It never fails. Your usually cooperative, quiet, well-behaved child seems to be overcome when you’re out in public. They cry, they scream, they yell, they grab things, they throw things. They seem to be mysteriously moved to such behavior when in church, the grocery store, the dentist office, the car, or at your in-laws. They overreact but you don’t have to. Good crises management has three goals: 1) stop the immediate behavior, 2) keep it from escalating, and 3) take charge of the situation. Here are some tips to control these outbursts and diminish negative results.
Audience. Eliminate spectators. Nothing inflames a situation more than having on-lookers. This tends to reinforce the child’s behavior and sets up a power struggle. The child may feel that he or she cannot comply without losing face. You may feel that you can’t compromise without feeling that you have given in. Try not to reprimand children in front of others.
Whisper. An effective technique is to gauge the level of your voice inversely to that of your child’s. The louder they yell and scream the more controlled and lower your voice should be in response. Whispering is helpful. It’s difficult for the child to hear you when they scream and you whisper. Whispering often gives a momentary pause for each of you.
Leave. Remove yourself and the child and go to a quiet place. Go into another room, walk outside, get into the car, or sit on a park bench. This change of scene will have a calming effect and give both of you some time to think. It will also eliminate the audience.
Reaffirm the Rule. Do not enter into a debate with a child; do not engage in plea bargaining; do not allow them to blame others. Stay focused on their behavior: what they did, what they said. Simply state the rule and the consequence. Use a firm and calm tone of voice to explain how you expect the child to behave.
Choices. Offer your child alternatives. Give them responsibility for their behavior and the outcome. Use simple statements such as: “Here are your choices, ‘you can eat nicely at the table or you can go in your room.’ What do you want to do?”
Follow up. When the storm has passed have a quiet, private, conversation regarding the incident. Start with a factual review of the circumstances: what you expected, how he or she behaved, and what happened next. Talk about similar future situations and how it can work out better for both of you.
Use positive behavior management techniques. State the rule clearly and simply. Expect your child will obey. Have a specific, fair, firm consequence when misbehavior occurs.
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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 Hair, New Friends.” Oh yes, she has also raised six children!
I’m on the Board of Free Spirit Publishing (a publishing house of resources for teachers) and was asked for my input regarding how to keep kids engaged at the end of the school year. My comment is the 7th one down!
Keeping your students engaged during the final weeks of school can be a challenge. The Free Spirit Advisory Board members are here to share their best advice for reengaging kids who have checked out for the school year.
“Keeping kids engaged in school, especially after spring break, is a challenge, but it’s not impossible. As a mental health case manager, my focus is to empower my adolescent clients in their own choices, give them space to talk through their feelings about school, and guide them through problem solving any barriers. The last thing kids want is another adult telling them what they need to be doing; partner with them, don’t shame or punish. On the same note, I encourage students’ engagement in after-school clubs, activities, or sports they are interested in—this creates an incentive to go to school and a positive experience in the school environment, and helps them build…
Tell me something about yourself. (Where did you grow up, significant relationships, what do you do for fun, as little or as much as you want).
“I’m a proud native of Georgia. I grew up there, but I have lived longer in the State of Florida; over 20 years. I’ve done quite a bit of growing since moving here as well.” (laughter)
Tell me about you as a professional. What do/did you do to make a living, before you started your own full-time business?
I’ve done a lot, professionally speaking. Having served children and their families since 1990, I’ve worked in sectarian and non-sectarian facilities. I also owned a Family Childcare Home in North Florida. After giving as much as I thought I could in the classroom setting, I took courses in management, then lead 2 elite teams on their journey as educators.
The first team was co-managed with the owner who sold the facility that I left. We still call each other when we are not busy and laugh about previous challenges that lead to great relationships. We are still proud to be the managers who won over 5 awards and 3 accreditations as a school. I also received one as “Best Teacher”. I still smile about that one. Ok, let me focus on the question at hand.
I began writing plans for my business, Jones Educational Consulting, LLC, while managing the day-to-day operations at that aforementioned facility. My initial intent was to resign, take additional college courses, and work for myself. In the midst of planning, I was informed, by the previously mentioned owner, that she had sold the school. I spent over one year trying to decide when would be the best time to resign. I guess you can say I saw the need to support the greater good. Three years later, I resigned. Two of those 3 years were spent traveling, collaborating with others, and serving children and their families as Ms.B, The Storyteller. I now make money through full-time ownership of my business which gives me time to provide hourly work as an educator, consulting to support schools in various ways, and work contract performances as Ms.B! I absolutely love all that I do.
What inspired you to start your business?
My love for working in early childhood settings.
Were there supporters or naysayers?
There will always be supporters, like YOU (Wanda) who see value in people. Naysayers are only naysayers because they just don’t understand the yes in your success. (laughing)They believe I read, unenthusiastically as if I am forced to read to children and their families during the day. (laughing) I am a performer who absolutely LOVE CHILDREN and their family. I do this willingly, without competition because I will always have my own unique way of showing love, through stories. I, Ms.B,The Storyteller am naturally known for providing experiences. When I am paid to read, and tell stories, I make deeper connections. I am confident that my performance will be memorable to those who love reading and storytelling. Regarding naysayers, they will become believers after while.
How did you handle setbacks or lack of support, if you had any?
I handle setbacks and lack of support in a variety of ways. I have handled the few naysayers that I have encountered by going out and appealing to those who actually enjoy what I do. Later, they acknowledge that I came to them first, I laugh. I love people. It’s frustrating at times, but I laugh knowing that there are others who believe in me. Right now, I am thankful for every opportunity that YOU (Wanda) and others provide. There have been many authors who have given me the opportunity to make their great books come alive before audiences. From my understanding, more opportunities are out there!” (winking)
When did you know you wanted to help with literacy?
I came from a home where I had to learn bible verses and recite them on demand. Being able to recite them was impressive to me. Being able to comprehend what I had read was just as impressive as the memory. Maybe this was the start of something big. Since 1990, I have known that reading and storytelling was important to a child. I could tell each time I saw a child smile during story time in my classroom. Later, when deciding what I wanted to do ‘next’ in life, I knew it had to be something important such as making children smile. I make them smile best when I talk to them, tell stories, and read. I vow to read to 1 Million Children because I have a lot to share, and I want to continue to help children smile. I do this by ‘helping children develop the love of reading, one great story at a time!’
You’ll hear more about that campaign once people understand that my mission is beneficial to early learners everywhere.
What is your favorite type of book to read to the children? Why?
I enjoy picture books. In diverse audiences, pictures help children who haven’t had certain experiences connect with what others are already recalling images in their minds.
You are an incredibly positive person. Where do you get your inspiration?
I came from a home where our parents allowed us to dance with them and put on talent shows. Any of our neighbors could tell you that we enjoyed laughing and singing and having what we knew to be fun! Besides this, I figure, the other side of positivity is negativity…who needs more of that in life? Not me!
Do you have any rituals before or while you read to the children? I don’t like being around negative people before doing a show. I either need quiet time to sing a song, or to laugh just before taking the stage. Once I open my mouth to read, or tell stories, I lock eyes with that one special friend in the audience and I am comfortable! (laughing)
I don’t like being around negative people before doing a show. I either need quiet time to sing a song, or to laugh just before taking the stage. Once I open my mouth to read, or tell stories, I lock eyes with that one special friend in the audience and I am comfortable! (laughing)
How do you come up with your outfits?
I use my imagination. (laughing) Really, I do! I guess as an artist. I draw pictures and alter clothes to make my costumes. My mother is creative like that…I sometimes ask her what I should do, but I make them myself. In the future, you will see me wearing things that she has made for me to show her love for what I do for children!
What are you passionate about?
I’m a bit complex. I am passionate about many things, but I will tell you this: I am passionate about doing good for someone other than myself. That goodness comes in many forms such as reading and telling.
Was there someone in your childhood that inspired you or changed the direction of your life? Tell us about them and how you were changed.
I had one elementary teacher who gossiped about me when I was in school. I can’t even remember her name, but she inspired me to use positivity to erase the negative words that I could have been wired to believe.
I had a Home Economics teacher who made me laugh and told me that I am meant to be an educator. She passed away before I could tell her, “Thank you. I have changed lives, and YES! YOU were right!” (tears) I am writing a story in her memory. All I need is a good ending…it will come.
What can we expect from you in the future?
I will be performing more (paid contracts)!
You can expect a voice recording of my stories in 2017. The title of the CD is called “I’m Telling You!” because I will be telling valuable stories to those who love the unique style of Ms.B, The Storyteller!
If you could jump ahead in time, what would be happening for you? I
would have a spot on television. I would have amazing costumes that I’ve helped design. I would be traveling all over the world to do what I do best, make children smile by sharing the love of reading!!!
Anything else you’d like to share that I haven’t asked?
I’d like to tell others to invest in great stories and great storytellers, I know a few.
In closing, I will say, “Thank YOU (Wanda) for being influential to children in your community and around the world.” I love your stories! I will continue to read.
Tomorrow is the big Release Day for Gloria and the Unicorn! I’m so excited!
This book has tugged on my heart strings as I’ve written about a child whose mother died at birth, her father gave her away, and she has a droopy face because of the trauma of her birth. To top it all off, Miss Libby, the children’s lodge owner, tries to protect her by keeping her out of school. But all Gloria wants is to be like the other kids and to learn to read.
Then, her helpful unicorn, Sir Louie, shows up. He’s kind and wise. He teaches her how to read but more importantly how to love herself again.
She musters the courage to go to school, but the kids are cruel. And if that isn’t enough, evil Wizards want to kill her and lock Sir Louie up for all eternity.
How can anything good come out of all of that? Is Gloria key to overcoming evil? How can she be? She’s just a child with a lot on her plate.
Find out in the magical story of Gloria and the Unicorn. Pre-order today on Amazon at myBook.to/GATU and you’ll have it on your Kindle tomorrow.
Thank you for being on this journey with me of releasing a new chapter book for children.. I hope I didn’t drive you all crazy! I truly appreciate the blogging community. I love all the people that I follow. You write from your heart. You encourage me. You challenge me. And I appreciate your support.
I’ve talked a lot about Gloria’s struggles from Gloria and the Unicorn recently but the story isn’t focused on those, no, the story is all about her hero, Sir Louie, the unicorn!
We all have struggles in our life, no doubt. We may not have the same ones as Gloria, but we have something. Sometimes those struggles feel bigger than life. Wouldn’t it be nice to have a hero swoop in and help us? I know it’s gone out of fashion having a Prince Charming swoop in and take Cinderella away from her troubles, but don’t we all secretly wish this would happen? I mean sometimes when life gets too big, we would like to just throw up our hands and call our Fairy Godmother and say, “Help me!” Then, with one wave of her magic wand all our problems fade away. We know it’s not realistic but boy it would be nice.
So, while Prince Charming’s and Fairy Godmother’s are the thing of fairy tales, guess what? Real life heroes do exist. Maybe you’ve even been one for somebody. Maybe your neighbor was sick and you made them a meal. Maybe your friend was crying over a break up or divorce and you brought them chocolate and a funny movie. Maybe someone was in a financial jam and you gave them money. Or even maybe your life work provides an opportunity to be a hero for someone–maybe you’re a counselor or pastor or hair dresser or bar tender–you listen, you care, you advise. Or maybe even bigger–you work for the fire department, police department, or in the military and offer your own life to save other people’s lives.
Sometimes, we forget that we can make a difference. But, just like Sir Louie, the unicorn, in Gloria and the Unicorn, he made a difference by listening, advising, helping, supporting, and loving Gloria. Simple things but huge things that absolutely make a difference. Think about the times in your life when someone was there for you and it made a difference. Don’t underestimate yourself. You can be someone’s hero. You can be there unicorn!
So, look for opportunities today to help someone, to lift their spirits, to make a difference. Be someone’s unicorn!