Saturday, January 23, 2010

January Pet Tip

In my state, we have The Big Fix, which is sponsored by No More Homeless Pets in Utah. I love this program. Not because they just bring awareness to the communities in my state about getting your pets spayed and neutered, but because they care about the health of your pets, too.

I have been a pet lover since the day I came into this world. My mom will tell you stories of all the different strays I have brought home over the years since I was able to walk. I have never feared approaching an animal in need and for some reason, they have never feared me. To this day, all the neighborhood cats love to hang out in my yard.

However, most people (even though they love animals) don’t do the things they should to care for their pets. Having a pet is a big responsibility and it costs money. However, programs like No More Homeless Pets in Utah and The Big Fix are here to help.

These types of programs need donations to help meet the goal of ending the euthanasia of homeless dogs and cats. The donations are used to support programs, which include animal adoptions, low-cost and free spray/neuter surgeries, feral cat trap-neuter-return efforts, and continued community education. They also help low income families spay and neuter their pets at local veterinarians throughout your communities and state.

You may not live in Utah like I do, but I’m sure your state or community has programs like No More Homeless Pets in Utah and The Big Fix. The best place to find out is your local animal shelter. Give them call and find out what programs they have to offer your community. If they don’t have a program, then get involved. Tell them about this program and let them know you’d like to find a way to bring it to your community. Here’s the link to No More Homeless Pets in Utah so you can read up on the different ways you can get involved in your home state and community.

This year I’m taking my year old Miniature Schnauzer to be neutered and updated on all his shots. The best part is I’m only paying a third of what it would cost taking him to his vet by signing him up at The Big Fix coming in February. During these hard economic times, it’s easy to put our pets off to save money. But is it worth it? In the end, you may spend more money because they become sick or pregnant. Don’t do that to your pets.

Spay and Neuter Your Family Pets

What is Spaying and Neutering?

It’s a simple surgical procedure that stops your dog or cat from breeding. Female animals are spayed, males are neutered. The operation is performed while the pet is under anesthesia.

Why should I get my pet fixed?

Millions of dogs and cats are euthanized in the United States every year due to pet overpopulation. In Utah alone, over 30,000 homeless, unwanted animals are put to death each year. The best way to avoid the problem of unwanted pets, and one of the kindest things you can do for animals, is to make sure that your cat or dog is spayed or neutered. Spaying and neutering saves lives.

But surely, my one cat or dog can’t make that much of a difference?

You may find homes for all of your pet's litter. But each home you find means one less home for homeless animals in shelters who may die for lack of an available home. Also, in less than one year's time, each of your pet's offspring may have his or her own litter, adding even more animals to the population. Then their offspring have offspring, and so on and so on. By fixing your one pet, you can help save hundreds if not thousands of lives!

Besides, fixing your pet will make your life much easier!

Spaying or neutering your pet can help some of your pet's behavior problems. Some of these problems include:
* house soiling
* marking, spraying
* persistent barking or meowing
* roaming, escaping
* fighting with other pets
* biting humans or other pets
* bleeding and other problems associated with female pets being in heat

Won’t female dogs and cats miss having puppies or kittens? I would feel very lonely without my family.

No. Mother dogs and cats care for their young for a few months until they’re weaned, but then usually have nothing further to do with them.

Shouldn’t my dog or cat have one litter before being fixed?

It is better to do just the opposite. Your pet will be healthier if she is spayed before her first litter and, even better, before her first heat.

Won’t a female dog or cat be a better pet if she has had one litter?

No. Having puppies or kittens makes no difference at all to a pet’s temperament.

I feel uncomfortable getting my male pet neutered. I wouldn’t want that done to me!

Your pet has no concept of sexual identify and ego. His biology and behavior developed in the wild to produce as many offspring as possible so his species could survive. In our modern world, this many offspring only add to the sum total of unwanted pets that are killed in shelters.
My dogs won’t protect us after being fixed.

Spaying or neutering does not affect a dog’s natural instincts to protect his or her family. A dog’s personality is formed by genetics and environment.

My dog/cat is purebred and I want to breed her at least once to recoup the price I paid for her.

Many purebreds end up in shelters just like mixed breeds. Breeding is expensive, time-consuming and does not create clones of your pet.

Will spaying or neutering affect my pet’s health in any way?

Yes, it will improve the health of your pet. In females, it eliminates the risk of ovarian and uterine infections and cancer. It also reduces the incidence of mammary cancer. In males, it eliminates testicular cancer and decreases the incidence of prostate disease.

I can’t afford to have my pet fixed.

Spaying or neutering is a one-time cost that is a bargain compared to having a litter to take care of and find homes for. Some states offer discounts or free spay/neuter services to those who qualify.

Get your pet spayed or neutered! It's the responsible and right thing to do.

Helping Pets in Need
GoodSearch is a free search engine, which donates 50-percent of its revenue to the charities selected by its users. Use exactly as you would any other search engine, and they will make a contribution to the charity of your choice.

Shop - and help save a life

GoodShop is an online shopping mall of merchants dedicated to helping nonprofit organizations. Shop through the GoodShop mall, designate a charity of your choice and earn money for the animals. Each purchase made results in a donation averaging approximately 3% of the sale, but sometimes going up to 30% or even more. More than 500 stores participate, including,, eBay, iTunes, Old Navy, Staples, Sephora and Toys R Us. is another great choice for internet shoppers! Find all of your favorite online stores in this charitable shopping center like Barnes and Noble, Best Buy, the GAP, Lands End, PETCO, PetSmart, Target, and so many more.

Friday, January 22, 2010

January Safety Tip

I thought you all might find this a bit interesting. I was sent an email this month about using Wasp Spray as a way to defend yourself. No joke!

At first, I thought about deleting the email, but then I thought why not check this out and see if it is true. So I went to to see what they had to say about this email being sent to millions around the nation and mostly likely the world. Well here is what I found.

The email about using wasp spray as an alternative to pepper spray started around May 2009. However, in February 2009 ABC news channel 13 in Toledo, Ohio did a report on this very same subject. You can watch the news report at

In the report, ABC news interviews Val Glinka, a teacher of self-defense. He has been teaching students at Sylvania Southview High School for decades and suggests putting a can of wasp and hornet spray near your door.

Glinka says during the report, "This is better than anything I can teach them."
Glinka also considers it inexpensive, easy to find, and more effective than mace or pepper spray. The reason? These cans typically shoot 20 to 30 feet. Glinka also said in the report, "Spray the culprit in the eyes". Something I think most of us would already do, but it's a tip he's given to students for decades.

I’ll be honest. I didn’t really believe I would find the email I got about using wasp spray to be true. However, it seems this is a good safety tip and one everyone should know about. But there are some draw backs to this safety tip that I also need to share with you I only found by reading up on it at

The one thing not shared in the news report with ABC is wasp spray has been advised against by some police departments and state penal codes. Many are against it for two reasons.

1. The active ingredient in most wasp sprays are pyrethrins, a compound derived from a plant, which penetrate the nervous systems of insects and typically kills them. Wasp sprays are not formulated to be used for self-defense or on humans in any form. This means safety measures haven’t been tested for the effectiveness in self-defense. Plus the toxic effects of pyrethrin could be much more harmful than expected.

2. Many jurisdictions specifically prohibit the use of any self-defense sprays other than ones tested and approved for such purposes. For example if you live in Michigan, the penal code only allows reasonable use of self-defense spays or foams other than pepper spray. Wasp spray is not one of these recognized by the Michigan penal code.

The biggest thing that stood out to me when reading up on using wasp spray vs. pepper spray was the former can be dispensed with more accuracy and over a greater distance. Well this isn’t entirely true. There are some pepper sprays you can purchase with a reach of 8 feet up to 25 feet in distance. There are even some sprayers with different spray patterns such as a cone spray or ones that produce a fog, which cover a larger area.

Overall, I don’t think it would be a bad idea to have a can of wasp spray handy just in case. I’d rather be safe than sorry.

For those who want to read more about what has to say here is the link. They even have a copy of the email I received.

Monday, January 18, 2010


Are you looking for a way to see the world with your child(ren)? Then we have the site for you. MEET ME AT THE CORNER (, Virtual Field Trips for Kids takes you to meet fascinating people from all over the world with new educational, kid-friendly episodes uploaded every two weeks. Included are links to fun websites and their Learning Corner with follow-up questions.

Check out The Big Apple Book Club filled with video book reviews for kids by kids, too!

I just love this site. I have been visiting MEET ME AT THE CORNER ( for the past two years. Some of my tips about events and holidays have come from some the virtual trips I have taken there. It’s very kid friendly and a great way not only for parents, but teachers too to share the world around us with the children in our lives.

The idea behind MEET ME AT THE CORNER ( is to encourage individuals with a dynamic, interactive site, with participation through video submissions from children worldwide. Through these video pod casts, MEET ME AT THE CORNER hopes to create a community of children, who learn the art of self-expression and storytelling through video.

Donna W. Guthrie, the author of more than twenty award-winning books for children, founded METT ME AT THE CORNER ( in 2006. Donna taught kindergarten through fifth grade, in Pennsylvania and Colorado, in both public and private schools. She is now a visiting professor at Colorado College where she teaches children’s writing.

When MEET ME AT THE CORNER ( first started, the video pod casts highlighted the people, events and history of New York City. Now you can find children’s submissions highlighting the people and events of other towns, cities and nations, too.

This site is set up with easy to navigate tabs; making it a breeze to get around even with younger children like Tyke. There are tons of things to check out, under each video is a list of books that relate to the subject and other free websites. You will even find a learning corner if you are using the site for educational purposes.

To date MEET ME AT THE CORNER ( has video podcasts from California, Colorado, North Carolina, Texas, and Maryland. They are always open to the people and events in your corner of the world, so get out your camera and take a tour around your hometown. You never know what you might fine and who will be interested in you what you have to say.

We are all looking for inexpensive or free activities for the family and this website fits right in. Your trip to the free museum, national park or community festival could take on a completely new life if you and the kids were shooting a video tour for other kids.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Donna J. Shepherd's Topsy Turvy Land and other book reviews

Donna Shepherd's Topsy Turvy Land is a fun, colorful book about God's creation. It let's kids explore the "what if's" of creation. What if colors were different? What if snakes could sing?

Donna Shepherd utilizes her excellent writing skills to introduce children and their parents to a world of possibilities. In the midst of all of the topsy-turvy, she even had time, with her illustrator Kevin Scott Collier to add "love" to her book - the question is - Can you find all of the hearts?

Donna J. Shepherd is a published children's poet, accomplished writer, and budding theologian in her own right. The imagery is delightful and sure to make children of all ages smile. Donna Shepherd teamed up with one of the best illustrations around, Kevin Collier to create a delightful world of color and rhyme that will make children giggle. With Sixteen pages of whimsy and wonder culminate in the proclamation that God's creation is indeed very good.

Searching the stacks of children's books at libraries and bookstores can be overwhelming for any parent. It is nice to find a book that has a redemptive message for preschoolers. Sure to become a tattered favorite in chubby hands, this book is written with all the skill of Sandra Boynton. I highly recommend this book for children (and adults) of all ages.

This is a fun "book" to review since it is actually two books in one! Guardian Angel Publishing has come out with their Double Doozie line of books and now has a Health & Hygiene Line. In NO MORE GUNK, author Donna Shepherd has written a very humorous yet factual storyline on taking good care of your teeth and how to do so, in rhyming prose. Combined with the awesome and very funny artwork of Kevin Scott Collier, this book is quite the attention-getter for your child and will help you to teach him/her good health habits in a really fun way. I particularly enjoyed the "No More Gunk Tooth Tips" at the end of the story - even the tips rhymed! Good job, Donna! My favorite tip: "They're your teeth, so be the boss. Always take the time to floss." This was like reading a terrific poem full of FUNNY illustrations that your child will want you to read to them over and over and over! This is a keeper and gets a high five, especially when coupled with a SECOND free book!

OUCH! SUNBURN is also a terrific learning experience for your child, and one that hit home hard to me personally. Back in the age of the dinosaur, aka - when I was a small child, we didn't know much about the dangers of the sun and how it damages your skin, and nobody knew what sunscreen was. I grew up by the ocean, so I was either always at the beach, or at our local pool where I swam competitively. I am blonde and fair-skinned, and I had some whopper sunburns as I grew up. So, I can tell you firsthand, that everything Donna says in this book is absolutely positively the truth, and I hope its message really hits home to young readers. The charming rhyming prose Donna uses along with Kevin's fun, colorful illustrations, make this book lots of fun for children to learn how to protect their skin from sunburns. At the end, Donna again gives Ouch! Sunburn Extra Tips, of course, in rhyme. My favorite: "When you're out from ten to two. Play in Shade. Smart Kids do." WHERE WAS THIS BOOK WHEN I WAS GROWING UP? This is a must-have to teach your child safety in the sun at an early age.

This charming picture book story told in rhyming text again teams up author Donna J. Shepherd with Illustrator Kevin Scott Collier. Together, they have created another compelling book for all young readers.

Chizzy the Monkey was just tucked in bed by his mother when Dotty the Hippo calls to him and asks him to hunt for a fruit treat with her. Along the way, Dotty gets them lost in the woods. The meet a lion cub who is scared of them and they are scared that the cub's mother might return. They tell the cub they are lost, and he points them in the right direction. They stop their snack search to help a baby elephant out of the mud. They continue on and find their fruit treat and start eating it when Chizzy worries that his mother will be quite upset when she discovers that he isn't in his bed. Do they make it home in time before Chizzy's mother discovers him missing? You'll just have to read this cute book to find out what happens next!

The superb text by Donna Shepherd and colorful kid-friendly illustrations by Kevin Scott Collier make this book a "must have" for the younger set. It gives young children the message that they should help out their friends and to also be aware that parents worry about them. I give this book a high five for the cute storyline, the perfect rhyming text and the wonderfully colorful and kid-friendly illustrations.

If you read Topsy Turvy Land by the very talented author Donna J. Shepherd, then you won't want to miss the tale of Dotty, one of the fun-loving and colorful characters from Topsy Turvy Land. However, if you haven't read the first book in this wildly imaginative collection of picture books, then you're in for a real delight (well, you're in for a treat even if you have read the collection).

Dotty is a pink hippo who lives in Topsy Turvy Land, and as you might already have guessed, things are not as you might expect in this place. For Dotty, you might think she would feel part of the crowd, but even in her colorful, wild world, she feels like the odd hippo out. After enlisting the help of her best friend, Chizzy, a green monkey who knows how to get into trouble, they set off on an adventure to help Dotty fit in with all the other hippos. Along the way, Dotty and Chizzy realize it doesn't matter how you look. After all, what's wrong with being a pink hippo instead of a purple hippo as long as you're a true friend and have a big heart?

Of course, Donna doesn't disappoint us in this newest tale in the Topsy Turvy Land collection. Because of everything from Donna's smooth rhyme to her wild inventions of the animals living in Topsy Turvy Land, children will want to visit Dotty and her friends again and again. Kevin Scott Collier's artwork is vivid and brings each page to life, adding the right blend of colors to accent the words written by Donna in Dotty's Topsy Tale.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Interview with author, Donna J. Shepherd of Topsy Turvy Land

Meet author, Donna J. Shepherd of Topsy Turvy Land

Children's and inspirational writer, Donna J. Shepherd, is a columnist for The Dabbling Mum and NABBW. Her articles and poetry have been published in Reminisce Extra, Just Between Us, Guideposts for Kids, Penwomanship, Wee Ones, and many more. Her work has appeared in several anthologies, most recently in Daily Grace for Women, Devotional Reflections to Nourish Your Soul (Honor Books), and Anytime Prayers for Everyday Moms (FaithWords).

Donna's children's book, Topsy Turvy Land (Hidden Pictures Publishing) has been described by one reviewer as "a perfect read for young children...a world full of bright hearts, where it isn't difficult to find God's love."

How long have you been writing?
I never really thought of writing for children until the summer of 2003 when I penned a short poem. I submitted it to Guideposts for Kids. The editor replied favorably with a couple of suggestions, but never formally accepted the poem for publication. I thought I might be onto something, and wrote a couple more stanzas, and then a few more. The resulting manuscript became "Topsy Turvy Land", the first picture book published by Hidden Pictures Publishing.

And in the meantime, I continued to submit to magazines, and GP4K published one of my first poems, "My Tooth Is Missing."

How did you get started?
I jumped in with both feet! Making up for lost time, I suppose, I researched and read every thing I could get my hands on about becoming a writer.

Did you always want to be an author?
I can't say that I did. I've never been one to journal, and besides a few things written for English class in high school, I didn't write. But once I started, I wrote every day!

What makes a person a real writer?
A writer is someone who writes. Many people talk about becoming writers, but rarely put pen to paper, or fingers to keyboard. The most successful authors I know are prolific, disciplined, and determined.

What type of stories do you write?
For children, I write about classic themes - the loss of a front tooth, the first sled ride of the winter, or a bad sunburn. For grownups, I mostly write devotionals and inspirational articles.

How many books have you written?
Children's Picture Book: Topsy Turvy Land, Hidden Pictures Publishing (July 2005)

Children's Picture Book: The Lonely Lightning Bug, Guardian Angel Publishing (October 2005)

Donna Shepherd, et al:
Daily Grace for Women, Honor Books (April 2005)
Anytime Prayers for Everyday Moms, Warner Faith (November 2006)

Where do your ideas come from?
I like to think of God's pleasure as He created. Can you imagine Him smiling when he put that humongous beak on the toucan? And then, with a flourish, added all the beautiful colors?

As writers, we are blessed to be able to create. And as a children's writer, sometimes I'm really blessed, and the words I write are illustrated with pictures. It's so much fun to see my words come to life. I thank God every day for the joy of writing, and for allowing me the pleasure of seeing my words in print, and sometimes illustrated.

How do you know an idea is worth following?
Occasionally, I've brainstormed about a topic only to reach a dead end. If I find it too difficult to be inspired, I might put the scribblings away to ponder at a future date. I never throw them away though. You never know when I might be inspired in a fresh new way.

How do you create your characters?
In Topsy Turvy Land, I have specific characteristics for each animal. Chizzy is mischievous. Dotty is his best friend, a sweet hippo who loves being with Chizzy, while Sully, the Snake, is a bit more independent, ready to entertain his friends with his be-bopping beat. I like to think the characters in children's books should be as diverse as children are in real life.

How long does it take you to write a book?
It varies. Sometimes the ideas come easily. Other times, I mull over concepts, storylines, and the characters a while before putting them down on paper.

What are some of your favorite books/stories?
I have always been a voracious reader, and when my children were little, I enjoyed reading to them just as you do. In elementary school, my daughter set new records for the number of books she read, and my son followed suit. Shel Silverstein became his favorite poet, and soon became mine as well. I like to inject humor into my pieces.

How about your favorite movie? Food? Color?
Can you believe my son got me "Cars" for Christmas? I enjoy the children's movies so much, and own many like Shrek and Finding Nemo.
My favorite food-Easy! Chocolate!
My favorite color would be pink, followed closely by blue.

Do you have any hobbies you like to do besides writing?
I sing and play the piano, and read. I have stacks of books in my 'to be read' pile.

Have you ever wanted to be anything other than an author?
For a long time, I thought I would be a professional singer, and I still sing and play the piano at church, and sing for weddings and funerals.

What are you working on right now?
I have two children's books circulating, a couple of inspirational books I'm working on, along with a Bible study. I like the challenge and diversity of writing for children and grownups.

If my students write you a letter(s), will you respond?
I'd be delighted to!

Where can I purchase your books?
Copies of Topsy Turvy Land are available at any Waldenbooks and Barnes & Noble or online through

Autographed copies can be obtained through

If you could give one piece of advice to every new writer, what would it be?
Read what you want to write. Then write. Don't just talk about writing. Write every day if you can. Join a critique group, either online or in person, or both. Join SCBWI. They have excellent conferences where you can meet with other writers. And research and submit. It won't get published as a file languishing on your computer.

Information on other books:
Kevin Scott Collier and I a series of three books, the Topsy Turvy Tales, which follow on the heels of Topsy Turvy Land featuring Chizzy, Dotty, and Sully.

Donna J. Shepherd's Website:
Devotionals by Donna

Thursday, January 7, 2010

January Craft Idea!

By: VS Grenier

We all love to get our hands dirty in finger paints. But have you ever make your own?

What You Will Need:

Adult Help
1 cup and 3 tbsp water
3 tbsp cornstarch
Liquid detergent
Tempera paints


1. With adult supervision mix cornstarch with 3tbsp of water. You should get a smooth paste.

2. Have adult helper bring 1 cup of water to a boil.

3. Add boiled water to cornstarch paste. Stir.

4. Add 3 drops liquid detergent. (This makes clean up easier, Parents.)

5. Add two drops of tempera paint. (The smaller the better.)

You’ll want to store your home-made paints in a closed jar in the refrigerator. It will keep for days. When you are ready to paint, just set out for about 5 minutes.

Now let those fingers get to painting!

Want more craft ideas? Check out the January issue of Stories for Children Magazine at

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Stanley Bookman Monthly Tips

Hi! I’m Stanley Bookman. I come from Storyville. This is the place where all the characters in each story live. Where is Storyville, you ask? It’s in the World of Ink, and you can get there only by reading.

I’ve come to live here at SFC: Families Matter with my brother Tyke to share tips with you on how to become better readers and have you help me spread the word about special events or holidays, such as . . . National Thank You Month!

Have you often thought about someone who encouraged you, gave you confidence, or just pointed you in the right direction, but regret never having said “Thank you”? Here is your chance to remember them by writing about how they made a difference in your life. How?

Take a minute and create a list of everyone to whom you could send a thank you card or letter. Select at least one or two of these people and make them a thank you card or write them a thank you letter. (This doesn’t have to be for a gift you received.)

By saying “thank you” to someone who has done something nice for you, has encouraged you, or has been there for you as a good friend will make you feel good inside as well as making the other person feel good. Building relationships with people is important and recognizing those who touch our lives is very important in keeping those relationships for years to come.

Here are a few other things you may do during National Thank You Month:

*Make a list of why it is important to say thank you.
*See who can remember to use the words “thank you” the most for a full day (or even the month)—Make a chart!
*Write thank you notes to everyone you know.

Parenting Tip:

If reading came naturally, teaching reading would be a much easier job. However, children learn to read as readily as they learn to speak. Parents and teachers just need to give children the chance to practice their skills by exposing them to books as early as possible. Reading must be taught through interaction just like speaking. For many children, reading must have a systematically laid out program in which small steps are taken at a time. That’s why it is important for parents and teachers to work together when teaching a child how to read.

One of the best sites parents and teachers can use together is Reading Rockets. You may find the site at


*Stories for Children Publishing, LLC. (SFC) and its divisions do not receive any compensation for product reviews beyond a sample and/or limited access to a paid website. SFC donates all books sent for review to a charitable organization. SFC may do a contest or giveaway of samples we receive.